My parents visited with me last week from New York.    

First, let me clarify, when I say New York I’m not referring to NYC, with its subways, mobsters, and bagels-from-heaven New York.

I’m talking rural New York. Think farmland, chickens, and bears in the backyard helping themselves to the bird feeder.

THAT New York.

Not that it matters for this story, but if I don’t differentiate, people think my parents are hip street artists living in a loft, creating sidewalk chalk paintings and buying hotdogs from street vendors.

They are anything but. They live a quiet life in a town so remote it doesn’t have a mall, which pretty much says it all.

It had a mall but all the stores have closed, so now it’s just sad and depressing, a retail ghost town.

At her request, I took my mom to one of my favorite malls and let her run wild. Dad came along and immediately honed in on Wetzel’s Pretzels. I never buy these soft pretzels, but if you wave one under my nose my willpower leaves me faster than the popularity of an 80s one-hit wonder.

This leads me to the topic of this post… and how I’d end up on “My 600-lb Life” if my parents lived with me.

                  Mom and Dad

First, a quick back story: My parents are both 81.

They’ve always been active up until about 10 years ago. My mom had a hysterectomy and immediately gained a bunch of weight around her middle. In addition she has a host of health issues I won’t get into, but some are serious and chronic.

When I talk with my mom on the phone, she repeatedly tells me she cooks healthy and “doesn’t know what to do” to lose weight.

I make suggestions but have no idea what she does once we get off the phone. She could be eating fried butter every night, for all I know, but that’s pretty gross so probably not.

Her week-long visit gave me the opportunity to see first hand just how healthy she really cooks. (She loves to cook, so who am I to stop her, right?)

What I found gave me incentive for this post. Because some of what she does and says I also hear from clients, so it’s not just her. 

And also because, if she lived with me I’d gain 10 pounds within a couple of weeks, guaranteed.

She made me realize that things said in passing can be major red flags to areas you need to fix if you want to reach your goals.

Here’s one she said more than once:

“I just use a little olive oil to… saute veggies, cook fish, etc.”

Yes, olive oil is a good fat in that it’s not saturated and linked to heart disease and plaque buildup in arteries. HOWEVER, it’s very calorically dense.

A tablespoon of olive oil (and nearly all oils, for that matter) clocks in at around 100 calories — all fat calories.

Although my mom did, indeed, use only a “small amount” of oil, I estimate she easily cooked with a couple of tablespoons in each dish. That translates to 200 additional calories she’s not “counting,” thinking it’s not a problem. 

In reality, an additional 200 calories a day adds up to 20 pounds gained within a year — and you won’t even know it until it’s sitting around your waistline.

“We have only a glass or two of wine each night with dinner.”

Actually, this one is not something my mom would say, since she doesn’t drink, but I hear it often from clients.

A 5-oz glass of wine is about 125 calories, two glasses would obviously be double that at 250 (note above calculation). That adds up fast. Not only that, but alcohol slows your metabolism, making it a serious weight-loss saboteur.

AND, it lower inhibitions so you end up dancing on the bar with a lampshade on your head eating more than you would normally.

“I make sure to fuel my workouts by taking in plenty of protein.”

You absolutely want to be sure you have energy to get through a tough workout. In fact, research shows women who eat before a workout tend to lose more weight overall.

The caveat? Ask yourself, how hard are you working, really? Are you biking for hours on end or strolling with a friend, catching up on neighborhood gossip? 

Both burn calories but the former uses considerably more than finding out Mrs. Landry ran off with the pool boy.

Consider that a moderate 30-minute walk burns about 125 calories, and a brisk (4.0 mph) walk burns about 179 calories in the same time.

So if you get home from your walk and “refuel” with a protein smoothie that includes fruit juice, a banana, chocolate ice cream and vanilla syrup, you’ll start gaining weight faster than you can say, “Did you hear Joan’s son is going to be a proctologist?” 

Unless you’re working out hard for 1-½ hours or longer, it’s not necessary to add extra calories to your regular routine. Otherwise, get in line for bigger pants.

NOW YOUDo YOU have something you say that may be a key to unlocking some mystery pounds? Let me know in the comments section below… and be sure to tell your friends to subscribe to this blog and send it out through social networks. I’ll be forever grateful.

Other posts you may enjoy:

How to cope when weight loss isn’t happening

#1 Thing you must do to keep weight off for good (and 5 ways to do it)

3 Unseen, self-sabotaging, forces that keep you stuck   

Your Ageless Body Coach,