Here are some of my bad habits that cause weight gain and make me fat.
Fat Habit #1 – Raiding the Fridge and Pantry
Whenever I’m supposed to settle down at my desk and start writing articles for my freelance writing clients at content mills, I always end up in the kitchen. It happens on autopilot, sometimes 2-3 times in an hour.
I could be doing great all day long, eating only healthy foods at scheduled times, feeling totally satisfied and resisting the temptation to eat when I’m not even hungry. But once I sit down to do some writing – 10 minutes later I’m staring into the refrigerator and munching on everything in sight.
This has been going on for years.
I didn’t even realize I was doing this until this past year, when I started to make more of an effort to become conscious of my bad daily habits and what was triggering them – and try to replace them with good habits. I knew I was habitually overeating, of course. But it wasn’t until recently that I spotted the connection between trying to get my work done and grazing on food all day and all night.
Fat Habit #2 – Waste Not, Want Not
Whenever there is leftover food sitting in the fridge for more than a couple days, I whack it. Oftentimes, I might not even be hungry, but I’ll eat a bunch of leftovers IN BETWEEN my regular meals just so I don’t end up throwing it away and wasting money.
As a kid growing up, I regularly heard things like:
- “Waste not, want not.”
- “Don’t pick at your food.”
- “Finish your plate.”
- “Don’t let those last few bites go to waste.”
- “There isn’t enough to save.”
- “There are kids starving in Africa who would love to eat those leftover vegetables.”
In our house, throwing away uneaten food was a sin to be avoided at all costs. After all, we weren’t rich. We couldn’t afford to waste food and waste money.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing in itself. Not wasting food can be a good thing. Not wasting money can be a good thing.
At least in theory.
But in reality, in practice, in my own personal experience – this approach directly lead to chronic overeating and obesity. All those extra bites add up. Mindlessly following those rules about throwing away food embedded themselves into my thinking and became a part of my identity for decades.
Fat Habit #3 – F*ck It Mode
Another bad diet habit I have – that many obese people probably also struggle with – is what might commonly be referred to as “F*ck It Mode”. This is when you get to a point where you just give up trying to resist and fully give in to the temptation to eat. Usually, this leads to full-on binge eating. But some days it only leads to a moderate cheat meal or two.*
If I break one of my diet rules at some point in the day (like “no meat all day” or “no regular (non-diet) soda all day”), I’m like 90% more likely to just go into “f*ck it mode” and intentionally have more meat or more sugary sodas throughout the day.
I notice this a lot with daily habits that I’m recording in my habit tracking app.
Since I already failed and cannot swipe that habit as being completed for the day, I often just give up entirely, intentionally consume more of those foods/beverages and then just start over the next day.
And as I mentioned already, this bad habit often gets blown out of proportion and leads to binge eating.
* (I actually don’t like terms like “temptation” and “cheating” and “cheat meal” because they create unnecessary guilt and shame when dieting. But I’m still in the habit of using those terms, and most readers still relate to them, so meh.)
Fat Habit #4 – Eating at My Desk
A very common habit for writers and anyone who works at home is eating at their desk. I am guilty af. Although for me, it’s a habit I formed simply because we had nowhere else in the house to sit and eat until recently (long story).
Anyway, many WAH and remote work experts advise against eating at your desk simply because it’s important for your productivity, your family life and your mental health that you separate personal space from work space.
But for a chronic overeater, it’s an even bigger problem.
It’s one thing to have a cup of coffee or whatever at your desk while you write. I actually prefer that. But sometimes – especially when writing late at night – I skip the coffee and opt for large quantities of Doritos and Mountain Dew.
There’s no scenario where that is either healthy or conducive to weight loss.
I think it comes partly from the gamer lifestyle.
Doritos + energy drinks = killstreaks.
It’s a thing.
In fact, I think at one point Call of Duty actually teamed up with Mountain Dew and Doritos for a promotional thing a few years ago, didn’t they?
I don’t even play games anymore these days, but that same vibe carried over into my blogging life. I often find myself craving this drink/snack combo late at night when I’m ready to rock and roll. Sometimes it actually seems to help me get in the mood to crank out content, so that just reinforces the habit. But it’s no good when you’re trying to lose weight.
Anyway, no matter the origin of my Code Red + Nacho Cheesier addiction, I need to scale it down. The other night I pounded down four cans plus half a “party size” bag while blogging at midnight, and that messed me up. That was easily an entire extra day’s worth of calories right there – plus a week’s worth of sodium. Not to mention the sleep deprivation that followed. Bad, bad, bad.
I gotta stop that crap. Fortunately I don’t do it often. And it’s probably okay to have once in a while. But I still gotta cut back on those portions.
Where Do Bad Eating Habits Come From?
Up above, I already touched on how I think these specific bad eating habits evolved in my life. Each one has its own story. But it seems that in general most habits are formed in common ways.
A lot of our habits aren’t even our own. We basically just inherited them from our family and friends while we were growing up. Children are so impressionable – we’re all sponges soaking up the beliefs and habits of those around us without questioning them or evaluating them.
It mostly happens subconsciously.
We pick up a lot of it from media too. And I’m not just talking mainstream news shows or whatever. I mean everything, from cartoons to movies to music to books to billboards to social media. We are being programmed 24/7.
Not that it’s all some big, nefarious, global conspiracy or anything. I won’t argue with you if you believe that. Knock yourself out. But I’m not a conspiracy junkie.
Still, it doesn’t mean it’s all random, innocent, unintentional and harmless either.
Much of it is definitely strategically planned. Marketers, for example, spend thousands of hours and millions of dollars researching how to use psychology to manipulate consumers’ buying decisions without them even being aware.
Anyway, before this post gets completely derailed, the point is that our minds are constantly being programmed through ideas all around us that are repeatedly seen and heard, especially when they come through sources that we trust, respect and admire. And most of it happens automatically, without any conscious effort on our part.
So, if so much of our results in life are determined by our daily habits, it would make a lot of sense to consciously take control of those habits and intentionally filter the incoming data that is influencing our beliefs and behavior patterns.
How Can I Break My Weight Gain Habits?
This topic deserves an entire blog post of its own, if not a series of posts.
I’ll get to busy on that 😉
But in a nutshell, I think the basic process will at least include these factors:
- Become consciously aware of the habits
- Identify triggers
- Interrupt the pattern
- Put new habit patterns in place
- Repeat until process is complete
That’s what I’m working on now.
It won’t happen overnight.
And if my past experiences are any indication, I expect that it will feel like I’m failing most of the time – even when I am actually making progress over time. This is why tracking the process is so important. I can’t trust my feelings to tell me whether I’m making progress or not. That’s why I’m using habit tracking apps and my blog to document my results.
Updates coming soon!
So let’s talk about it…
- Have any of you been gaining weight this past year too?
- If so, what daily habits make you gain weight faster?
- Are you making progress on your weight loss goals?
- Anything I can do to help?