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Deposits and Withdrawals

by on April 4, 2013

The ATM spits out the money I withdrew along with my receipt. I check the available balance and wince. Not as much left as I hoped. There are bills to pay and the family needs groceries.

“Oh well,” I mumble as I shove my money into my pocket. “I should check what XBox games came out.”

I whistle as I walk into the electronics section of the store, finances and bills forgotten. “Ooh, maybe I’ll get a new iPad!”

Does any of that seem reasonable? Of course not.

Yet that’s how we often approach one of the least favorite fitness subjects. It’s the fourth day of the A to Z blogging challenge, so it’s time to talk about dieting.

The joke is you can’t spell diet without ‘die.’ And it often feels like we’re dying when we try to keep up with a new diet plan.

For many of us, diets are the worst. Fad diets promise results that don’t last. Regular diets work for a time but then we lose interest and slip back into old habits. We make progress, but then one day we give in to unhealthy food, and then guilt sets in. “I blew it. What does it matter if I eat this whole tub of Ben and Jerry’s now?”

I’d like to propose a sensible relationship with food. It’s nothing new, but if we can really grasp it, then we’ll have a much better shot at a healthy lifestyle.

Your diet is like a checkbook or bank account. It’s everything you’re taking in and everything you’re burning off through exercise and activity. Just like we pay attention to our money and act intentionally based on how much we have (or don’t have), so we can also pay some healthy attention to what we are taking into our bodies and what we’re “spending” when we work out.

I don’t go to the store and say, “I think I have some spending money left, so let me fill a basket full of neat junk I feel like buying.” Likewise, I can’t go workout for a bit and say, “I think I burned a lot of calories, so I’m going to destroy a whole pizza now.”

I’d bet money that every reader who handles money knows roughly how much money they have available to them right now if needed. It’s something we keep track of because it’s important. It can disrupt our lives if we don’t manage our finances well.

Why not start to view your diet the same way? You don’t have to track every penny, but it might be good to know exactly what you’re putting into your body.

The Starbucks white chocolate mocha I used to drink? That’s basically a liquid Whopper from Burger King, and I would drink one to wash down whatever meal I was eating.

Sadly, even seemingly healthy options can be poor choices. A fruit smoothie often packs a bunch of sugar, either in the form of juice or simply added for flavor. That’s if it’s not made with dairy products to add taste in the form of fat. Most restaurant salads end up being about as full of calories and fat as a normal sandwich or meal, but it’s a salad, so appearances deceive us.

On the other hand, we might also be fooled about how hard we are pushing ourselves at the gym. If you’re doing cardio activity, do you have a way to track calories burned or estimate how hard you’re working? When you compare the calories burned from an hour on the treadmill to the calories you put back in with the smoothie you picked up at the gym’s juice bar, you may have set your overall fitness efforts back.

And what about those bad days when we enjoy a bit more than we really need? Whether it’s an ice cream sundae, a few cold beers, or a giant Philly cheesesteak, we all have some weakness and give in now and then. Traditional ideas about diets would say no to junk food, right?

Again, just like your bank account, when you’re careful and conscious of what you’re doing, you can splurge on occasion without completely breaking your dietary budget.

I don’t mean to suggest that you absolutely have to watch every bit of food you eat and count every calorie you burn. But if you’re serious about reaching your fitness goals, then you have to be intentional and attentive.

How’s your relationship with food? What do you find works best?

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From → Lunch Box

4 Comments
  1. bronbloxham permalink

    I think it is having your head in the right space. If you care enough about yourself to take the time to look after yourself, the exercise, calorie counting etc is all a lot easier. Not easy, easier! Glad I stumbled on to your blog…

    • Not easy, but easier… So true. Achievable goals are rarely met by haphazard effort. We have to want it enough to do a little extra work. I agree. I’m glad you found this blog too!

  2. My diet plans die quickly as i choose to ignore reality and east what appeals to me. I suppose some day I will take a more serious slant at it and make some headway.

    • I hear that! Without the pressure of the Air Force checking on me every six months to a year, I would be in serious dietary trouble.

      Sent from my iPhone

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