In this case, I’m not referring to the greasy guy at the gym who flirts with all the women until he gets banned from the entire fitness chain.
That’s a different kind of creep — just as insidious but less scary than what I’m about to discuss.
I’m referring to the little, sneaky ways weight gain seems to pile on when you think you’re doing everything right.
Everything’s status quo until you try on a pair of pants and can’t get them past your knees — and they used to be “loose-fitting.”
Or a friend passes around a photo of you on Facebook from a recent party that makes you look the size of a small country. You consider deleting your profile, changing your name and entering the Witness Protection Program.
That, my friend, are examples of the type of havoc The Creep can stir up.
It may feel like these changes happened overnight, even though they’ve been years in the making.
While you’ve been out enjoying life, The Creep’s been stealthily working behind the scenes, making note of every bite of birthday cake, every workout missed, every sip of an adult beverage.
You won’t know the true extent of the damage until one of the aforementioned situations rears its ugly head [insert evil laugh here].
Here’s the thing.
It’s not about eating sleeves of Oreos while watching late-night infomercials, digging into a bucket of fried chicken or eating an entire birthday cake in a weekend.
Unless you’re in total denial, if you’re doing these things you KNOW what needs to change.
The Creep is much stealthier and slower to show its true colors.
Here are a few signs it’s doing its dirty work… and what to do about it.
And if you’d like to find out more about what it REALLY takes to Firm Up After 50, watch my free, informative and fun workshop by the same name.
1. You eat in front of the TV
Eating mindlessly is never a good thing. It’s easy to do, especially if you’re chowing down while watching John Wick. By the time he’s nailed his 50th bad guy you’ve polished off 2,000 calories without remembering any of it.
The Creep loves John Wick.
Clearly, the best solution is to snack on something healthy that makes it tough to overdo. No one senselessly eats buckets of steamed broccoli.
But being realistic. If you decide to snack, portion out only a serving, plate it, and put away the remainder. Even if you go back for seconds you’ll be aware you’re doing it.
2. You eat when you’re not hungry
This one encompasses nearly all the calories we eat in excess. Eating for ANY reason outside of hunger is emotional eating. Whether you’re sad, happy, celebrating, or whatever, look for a different outlet than reaching for a spoon and a jar of peanut butter.
The Creep loves emotional roller coasters.
Create a list of alternative things you can do when temptations steps in. Then choose an activity from your list (call a friend, go for a walk, do a set of push-ups, etc.) instead of giving in to false cravings.
3. You keep tempting snack foods out in the open
Studies show — and it simply makes sense — that having to resist grabbing a handful of [your favorite sweet snack] every time you walk into the kitchen or go to your desk makes it more likely you’ll cave in and toss all good intentions out the window.
This situation can wear you down even if you have a ton of self-discipline.
The Creep is a master at wearing down the best of intentions.
You can do a couple of things to fend off this Creep: Don’t buy the food to start (duh). Or if you work in an office where it’s not up to you to decide where the M&Ms live, put them in an opaque container and/or out of your line of sight.
Even better? Swap out those donuts for something healthier, like a bowl of fruit. It won’t make you popular, at least not until everyone in the office starts to feel healthier and maybe even leaner.
What’s your Big Creep? Let me know in the comments below!
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Linda Melone is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, certified trainer and award-winning health and fitness writer. She specializes in helping women over 50 get in shape and lose weight.