As you probably know by now, mainly because I’ve brought it up enough times, I once worked as a restaurant pastry chef and owned a bakery. I prided myself on decorating a basketweave wedding cake within 45 minutes and making cream puff batter from scratch.
I often feel my current occupation is karma’s way of helping me make up for the caloric debauchery I inflicted on others during those dark years.
Although let me tell you, running a bakery was, literally, no cake walk.
First, keep in mind I ran Linda’s Desserts back in the late 80s and early 90s, long before computers, iPhones or Mark Zuckerberg was even born.
Taking orders involved using stone tablets and a chisel, and eventually, paper and pen.
All went well until the day a cake order slipped behind my desk. The customer came by to pick up the wedding shower cake. But we had no cake. The order was nowhere to be found.
Insert panicked scream here.
We’re not talking about a small, 8-inch round cake, either. Oh, no, this was a ginormous sheet cake, the likes of which we did not keep lying around for no good reason. (I made everything to order.)
I didn’t know how I was going to pull it off, but I assured her I’d hand deliver the cake in time for the party. I somehow managed to pull together a substitute. I got it to her in time and, of course, at no charge. She was more than grateful.
Pause to wipe sweat off brow.
Then there was the case of the leaning tower of wedding cake. And the cake that smashed into the back of the delivery person’s car seat when she stopped too fast at a red light.
In the first case, I got a call from The Hilton, where I’d assembled a wedding cake for a reception a short while before.
“I think your cake is about to topple over,” said the alarmed voice on the phone. I raced over and, sure enough, one side of the cake was inches from total annihilation. Pastry bag in hand, I managed to fix it before anything disastrous happened. The bride and groom were none the wiser.
Close call once again.
In the too-fast stop second scenario the smashed cake was hopelessly gone. It had flown off the rear seat and splatted directly into the back of the driver’s seat. Thankfully it was a small cake and I was able to, once again, assemble a reasonable facsimile and save the day.
In between near disasters, hot ovens and malfunctioning mixers, I still managed to have some fun.
For example, I once I created a 3-D fire hydrant for a dog’s birthday. (I never wanted to know the fate of that structure.)
Another time I decorated a swimming pool cake for a summer bash, complete with shark fins sticking out of the blue gel “water” center. I also assembled a haunted house wedding cake for an artist’s wedding.
But I digress.
Back to dietary mistakes.
This post was inspired by studies I came across that addressed three common practices women make in an effort to lose weight that backfire. They all have to do with food, so therein lies the segue…
In the nearly 20 years as a trainer, I’ve not only come across these diet faux pas, but they also seem toughest to overcome.
1. You “save” calories by skipping meals
I hear this one a lot. If you skip breakfast, skimp on lunch and eat most of your calories at night you’re much more likely to eat more than if you kept your intake more evenly distributed throughout the day.
Skipping meals is a scientifically proven way to sabotage weight loss. Research from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center showed that by the end of the year-long study, postmenopausal women who skipped meals lost 8 fewer pounds than women who did not.
If you have no appetite in the morning it may be because you ate too much the night before. Waking up with a food hangover never feels great. Try eating a small amount a little later in the morning and see if you’re less hungry later in the day. Research shows eating a protein-rich breakfast helps curb the hangries later in the day.
Make sure each meal contains enough protein (approx. 20 gms.) to keep you satisfied for three to four hours.
2. You think carbs are the culprit
Cutting carbs cuts calories, which helps you lose weight. But carbs themselves aren’t the evil doers they’re made out to be. Simply put, calories come from three main sources: carbohydrates, protein and fat. And alcohol, although it’s not considered a nutrient, contrary to popular belief.
Problem is, calories in rice, pasta and similar grains add up uber quickly. I feel your pain, trust me. No one ever in the history of the universe has ever had cravings for steamed fish with a side of vegetables. Nope. It’s the chips, fries, donuts and other delicious but high-carb foods. Personally, I could live quite happily on nothing but French bread and butter for the rest of my life except I’d die from scurvy, so that’s off the table.
The other thing about carbs? They retain more water than protein or fat. So after a heavy carb meal the scale may register a couple extra pounds the next day from bloat.
Having said that, it’s easiest to cut calories by cutting back on simple carbs like white pasta and flour, bread, sweets and desserts. Carbs also include fruit, veggies and whole grains like popcorn, so it’s clearly a matter of making the right choices.
3. You eat most of your lunches out
I know, planning meals ahead of time sounds like a novel idea until you realize you have 800 other things to do in the morning before work and end up eating on the run. In the same study mentioned above, women who ate lunch out weekly lost an average of 5 fewer pounds than those who ate out less often.
In fact, in general, those who ate at any meal times lost less weight, but lunchtime most strongly linked to fewer pounds lost.
Pack healthy lunches and skip the restaurant meals if you’re serious about losing weight.
4. You don’t track your food
Lastly, food journals. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they work. Tracking everything you eat is a pain, but it’s proven time and again to result in as much as twice the weight loss when compared to people who do not track their food. Yes, TWICE the weight loss. Several studies prove it, and I’ve witnessed it firsthand. Journaling your food is like a lie detector for your calories by forcing you to pay attention to the calories you “don’t count,” like the ones you eat while standing in front of the refrigerator deciding what to eat. Write it down!
Whether you use a simple notebook or an online app, the trick lies in recording your food in real time, not at the end of the day.
If you need someone to hold you accountable check out my Ageless Body Plans or contact me for individual coaching. Often the combination of tracking and accountability enables women to start losing when nothing else works.
NOW YOU… Do you struggle with any of these four issues? Let me know in the comments section below… I’d love to hear from you!
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