As a recovering disordered eating, I know firsthand that unhealthy fitness habits are hard to break.
From counting every single calorie that I ate to working out two hours a day in the gym, I have made more than a few questionable choices to maintain the ideal body weight.
Even though I packed away the scale long ago and now spend less than 30 minutes a day exercising there are still some habits that remain from my disordered eating days.
That’s why as the new year's kicks off with hundreds of people flooding your inbox and social media with promises of fast weight loss, I thought it would be a nice change of pace to share 6 unhealthy fitness habits that it’s time we ditch in 2019.
6 Unhealthy Fitness Hits It’s Time We Ditch in 2019
#1 Calorie Counting
As a former calorie counter, I get the temptation to believe that by simply counting every single calorie that we eat we can somehow control the way our bodies look. Unfortunately, research has proven that due to the inaccuracy of food labeling, caloric content is often higher than is stated on nutrition labels. Also, studies have shown that the nutrients that we actually extract from the foods we eat are dependent upon a variety of factors, such as how we prepare our food, the bacteria in our gut, and how much energy we use to digest our food. Therefore, it’s time to ditch the calorie counting and commit to eating real, whole minimally processed foods.
#2 Cheat Meals
I have a real love-hate relationship with the concept of cheat meals. On the one hand, for people like, professional bodybuilders who follow a really restrictive diet cheat meals are often necessary for obtaining a competition-ready physique. The problem for the general population is that cheat meals (or even cheat days) often lead people to develop an “unhealthy relationship with food.” Instead of treating these cheat meals as a temporary solution for fat loss, for the general population, it becomes a permanent means of controlling your food intake. For many, this lifestyle is just plain unsustainable and often leads to your cheat meal turning into an all-day bingefest. So, rather than cheat meals where you can have anything you like, take a small bite of your “cheat” and just let it sit on your tongue for one minute before chewing. You’ll be surprised that sometimes all we need is a little taste of something and not the whole thing to satisfy your craving. Of course, if you’re actually hungry go back to #1 and eat some real food!
Let me be real here and admit that I have been the Queen of comparing my bodies to others. However, that is one thing that I’m letting go of in 2019 and you should too. It’s time to stop scrolling our feeds on Instagram, Facebook, and whatever other social media platform we’re obsessed with and compare our bodies to others. It’s an unhealthy habit that does way more harm than it will ever do good. If you find yourself needed to compare yourself to another wo(man) it’s time to unfollow, unlike, and unfriend. I know it’s hard, but I can tell you firsthand the freedom I feel now that I’m not comparing my body to someone else’s highlight reel. So, if you’re feeling a little Insta-Envy its time to warm up that index finger and thumb!
#4 Spot Reducing
For the love of all things holy can we just let the spot reduction myth die in 2018 where it belongs? I for one have fallen victim to the misguided belief that targeting your “trouble areas” will lead to miraculous fat loss. The problem with that and other misguided beliefs about fat loss is that it focuses on training small muscle groups and completely ignores nutrition. Research has shown that training that specifically targets “trouble areas” such as your abdominals, is not sufficient to reduce abdominal subcutaneous fat (the fat under the skin). However, physical exercise coupled with dietary changes has been shown to reduce excess fat. So, if you’re looking to “burn” fat, one of the best things you can do is aim to eat more real, whole minimally processed foods. Are you starting to see a theme here?
#5 Demonization of Entire Food Groups
I know I’m going to get some heat for this one, but what I’m unapologetically against is the demonization of entire food groups. As a person whose developed more than a few food allergies, intolerances, and sensitives over the years there are foods that I simply can’t eat. However, the demonization of food groups (vegetables/legumes/beans, fruit, grains, meats/poultry/fish, and dairy) is where I have to draw the line. The reason is that many people (especially those living in Western countries) are often overfed and undernourished. By people eliminating food groups from their diet, they are further contributing to macronutrient and micronutrient deficiencies. Rather than demonize a food group, I have found more value in temporarily following an elimination diet. That way I can actually identify the foods that work well for my body without actually eliminating the entire food group in the process. In my experience, the Whole30 does provide a healthy framework to conduct a simple 30-day elimination diet. While I don’t prescribe to doing this for a lifestyle, I have found this as a practical tool to help you easily identify what foods work for you and what foods don’t.
#6 Reading This Post and NOT Taking Action
The time is now. It’s a New Day. It’s a New Year. It’s a New Chance to change your trajectory for tomorrow. It’s easy to read blog posts. It’s harder to take action. That’s why I want you to commit right now to ditch one unhealthy fitness habits that will no longer hold you back in 2019. So, whether it’s one of the unhealthy fitness habits I shared above or not, I want you to take action right now and commit to ditching it.
And, because accountability is key I want you to share the habit your ditching in the comments below! Not comfortable sharing it below? Send it to me via email.