Category Archives for "Excuse-busting"

I’ll be hungry all the time

We all recognise that losing weight will involve some changes to the way we eat, but some people have strong associations between dieting and deprivation. Those who’re used to hearty meals (and who have the figure to match!) are often reluctant to “go on a diet” because they think it will mean living on salad: “I can’t lose weight because I’ll be hungry all the time.”

In fact, a healthy, sustainable diet should definitely not have you ready to gnaw your own arm off in hunger. The best way to lose weight is to cut back by 500-1000 calories a day, allowing you to lose 1-2lbs per week. The first few days may be harder as your body adjusts to less food, but you should only be feeling rather peckish before mealtimes, rather than suffering hours of hunger.

How to cut down on “expensive calorie” foods

Keep a food diary for a week and look for any obvious ways to reduce calories without unhealthy diet practices (such as skipping meals, or surviving on a single apple for lunch – you’ll be trading short-term gains for long-term yo-yo dieting.) This means cutting out foods which don’t fill you up and which “cost” a lot of calories.

Easy targets to zap from your diet are things like:

  • Bags of crisps: a packet of Doritos or Kettle Chips has 200 calories.
  • Chocolate bars: a standard mars bar has 260 calories – as much as many low-fat sandwiches.
  • Dessert: have a bowl of stewed fruit or fruit salad instead.
  • Shop-bought sandwiches: these often have 500-600 calories. You can cut this in half by buying from a low-calorie range, or by taking your own lunch into work (if the latter, you’ll save money too.)

Good “calorie bargain” foods to fill you up

There are plenty of things which are filling and “cheap” on calories. Some of my favourites are:

  • Apples: 50 cals for a small apple. If you tend to overeat in the evenings, try having one before dinner to take the edge off your appetite.
  • Cereal bars: a great mid-morning snack to fill the gap between breakfast and lunch. Also a good biscuit-substitute (many are quite sweet and some even have chocolate in…)
  • Crispbreads (such as Ryvitas): 30 cals a slice. Four of these seem just as filling as two thick slices of bread, but for far fewer calories.
  • Rice cakes: like crispbreads, about 30 calories a slice. Eat the flavoured ones plain for a quick snack if you’re starting to get hungry long before a meal is due.
  • Stir fries: I’m particularly fond of vegetable, prawns and noodles. This is really filling for about 400 calories.
  • This is the last post in the excuse-busting series. You’re out of reasons not to make those health-improving lifestyle changes that you’ve been putting off – good luck!

(Photo above by mdavidford)


I hate exercise

A lot of us have very negative memories from our school-days; communal changing rooms, nasty comments, bullying, unflattering kit … it’s hardly surprising that some of us have the excuse “I hate exercise and always have done.” I spent my late teens being as inactive as possible because I’d hated the compulsory games sessions so much when I was younger.

But I now cycle seven miles a day and go to the gym most lunchtimes, and many other people who start out exercising to lose weight find they really miss it when they have a few inactive days.

If you don’t want to get hot and sweaty…

Exercise doesn’t have to mean a five mile run. You could go for a gentle walk locally (it counts even if it’s just to the shops and back), or a longer ramble in the countryside.

If you’re very out of shape, swimming is a great option. Go to the pool at quiet times, or for adult-only sessions if you’re not confident about your body (there’s nothing worse than having to run the gauntlet of shrieking kids from the changing room to the pool). Once you’re in the water, no-one will be able to see what shape you are! Also, swimming is great if you have joint problems that impact-based exercise (such as jogging) might exacerbate.

If you find exercise tedious…

Try thinking of activity rather than exercise. There might be some things you already enjoy which you could do more of:

  • Long walks exploring your neighbourhood with friends or family
  • Cycle rides down quiet country lanes
  • Playing football in your local park with the kids

Or there might be some more adventurous things which you’d love to have a go at. It’s not just kids who are allowed to have fun! Can you join a local trampolining club? Or take up a sport such as fencing or boxing; look out for beginners’ classes at bigger leisure centres. You just might find a whole new hobby…

(Photo above by Andy Field (Hubmedia))


I don’t like fruits/vegetables/healthy food

I was a horribly picky eater as a child and teenager, and – for a very long time – my excuse was “I can’t eat a healthy diet because I don’t like fruits and vegetables and ‘healthy’ food.” My parents are probably still surprised that I voluntarily eat (and avidly enjoy!) carrots. So if you are a self-confessed picky eater, I’ve got a few tips:

  1. Make a pledge to try a new food each weekIt took me several attempts to bring myself to try cottage cheese – I kept buying tubs of it and chucking them away unopened. It’s now one of my favourite snacks! If there’s something you’ve not tried before, buy a small serving and give it a go.Even if you aren’t too keen the first time, try it again the next day – it can take your taste buds a while to adapt.
  2. Order something new when you’re eating outIf you’re not very confident how to prepare or cook a new product, eat it at a restaurant. Don’t base your entire meal around something you suspect you might hate, or you’ll have a rather disappointing time – but try a out different starter, or an unusual side dish.
  3. Have a taste of someone else’s mealWhen you’re eating with people who are family or close friends, persuade them to let you have a bit of their meal! You might discover a food you love.
  4. Prepare your vegetables differentlyLots of people grow up “hating” vegetables because they’re used to bland, overcooked veg at school dinners. If you boil veg, don’t overcook them, leave them slightly firm – carrots and broccoli are much nicer this way. Try roasting sliced carrots and courgettes (with a little olive oil and black pepper, if you want); it really brings out their sweetness.
  5. Buy in-season fruitThe flavours of fruits such as strawberries are much stronger when the fruits are at their best. In-season produce also tends to be cheaper. Ordering an organic box (such as from Abel & Cole) is a great way to try out some new fruits and vegetables.

Challenge yourself to try one new food this weekend, either something you think you “don’t like” (prepare it differently) or something you’ve not ever eaten before.


I’ll have to buy new clothes

Especially if you have several stone to lose, the journey to your goal weight can be daunting for many reasons – and “I can’t lose weight because I’ll have to buy new clothes” is often an unvoiced one. You’ll either be slopping around in clothes several sizes too big while you’re losing weight, or you’ll need to constantly fork out for new outfits. Even if treating yourself to a whole new wardrobe is your idea of heaven, it’s likely to leave a sizable dent in your bank account.

(Image by Square_Eye)

Keep the cost down

  • Scour e-bay for cheap, new or nearly new clothes. It’s a great source of bargains. If you know some clothes are invariably a poor fit for you, go with jumpers, t-shirts, or anything under a fiver…
  • Sell your old clothes on e-bay, if they’re in good condition; pocket-money for some new ones!
  • Wear belts with baggy jeans to avoid the risk of “builder’s bum”… belts can easily shrink with you.
  • If you face a special occasion while you’re en route to your goal weight, consider hiring something rather than buying a new outfit. That size 16 ball-dress won’t be much use when you’re a size 12…
  • Try charity shops, both for donating your cast-offs to and for buying clothes for yourself.

Keep your motivation up

  • You don’t need to give up shopping altogether whilst losing weight. How about buying accessories rather than clothes: scarves, hats, ties, belts, gloves, etc.
  • Treat yourself to one or two nice pieces each time you’ve dropped a size. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of trying on a pair of size 12 jeans in the changing rooms for the first time – and finding that they fit!
  • Don’t overhaul your entire style too soon. If you’re a “work in progress” as you march on towards your goal, don’t feel obliged to start dressing in a radically different way. Of course, if it helps your self-esteem, shed those baggy t-shirts and shapeless jogging bottoms. But you might feel most comfortable if you adjust slowly; buy the same brand of jeans but in a size down, and try one or two new pieces rather than a whole new look.

I don’t have any time

This is an especially popular excuse: “I can’t exercise because I don’t have any time.” We all lead hectic lives with little “me-time” and we couldn’t spend hours each day in the gym even if we wanted to. We have significant others and families to spend time with, jobs which require long hours and lengthy commutes, as well as other commitments in the evenings and at weekends.

But it is absolutely vital that you find some time, even if it’s only a few minutes, to squeeze some exercise into your daily routine. You’ll not only get fitter, it will do wonders for those ever-soaring stress-levels, and will make losing weight much easier.

So, how do you find an extra half-hour in every twenty-four that you won’t miss?

The Active Commute

If you possibly can, build exercise into your daily commute. Especially if it takes you longer than the national average (which has risen sharply in the past five years, from 35 minutes to 1 hour and 5 minutes). This is valuable time that you can spend more enjoyably than crammed onto sweaty public transport, or stuck in crawling lanes of traffic.

Split Exercise Throughout Your Day

Sometimes it’s tricky to find a half-hour chunk of time when you can exercise. How about doing three ten-minute sessions instead?

  • Get up ten minutes earlier, and do some stretching and weight-lifting exercises while you’re still in your pyjamas
  • Escape from the office for a ten minute brisk walk at lunchtime (just don’t make it a trip to the pub or newsagents…)
  • Spend just ten minutes in the evening doing something active: pick your two favourite tracks and dance enthusiastically to them, jog on the spot during the advert breaks, or dust off that exercise bike in the garage.

It might not seem like a lot, but over the course of a week, you could burn over 1,100 calories – equivalent to a whole day’s food allowance for some dieters – just by doing the above exercises every day (figures based on an 11 stone woman)

Exercise Duration Calories
Stretching/weights 10 mins 40
Brisk walk 10 mins 46
Jogging 10 mins 82

This comes to:

  • 168 cals/day
  • 1176 cals/week

So what’re you waiting for? Get up now, and do something active, for just five minutes. And make sure you find half-an hour every day (either on your commute or in a spare ten minutes snatched here and there) to fit in exercise without it filling up your precious free time.