In high school, I used to weigh 247 pounds. I remember those 247 pounds very vividly because of an exercise we completed during anatomy class. We were made to keep a food journal and record our weight. Then our teacher encouraged us to make better eating choices during the next two weeks of recording.
At that time, I didn’t really know what a good eating choice was, but I decided that I would do two things for sure: drink more water, and cut out soda. By doing this, I lost seven pounds. I wasn’t more active, and I was still making poor “solids” choices, but it’s a good illustration of the first step to getting yourself beach ready for Buffalo’s awesome summer: stop drinking your calories.
To trim up, start drinking more water. Always have a reusable bottle with you that you keep full of water. It’s not out of the norm to carry water with you these days. Bring it to work, meetings, the gym, and have it by you while watching TV. It’ll help flush out your system and keep everything running smoothly.
Specialty coffee drinks are hands-down gross when you consider the amount of sugar and fat that is in them. Go black, and add some natural sweetener. A little bit of cream isn’t terrible for you, but your coffee should still look brown. Tea is another great source of caffeine and antioxidants. It comes in so many flavors- you’re bound to find something you’ll like, and it’s calorie free.
Soda is just liquid candy. Stay away. I’m very guilty of it because it satisfies my sweet cravings, which is not a good crutch to have! Depending on what you read, diet soda can be pretty bad as well. The conversation on processed food and chemicals in what we eat is for another day, but if you want a “clean diet,” you shouldn’t be drinking this.
And finally, we get to the big one — alcohol. We all know the risks of over-indulgence with alcohol consumption from health class and public service announcements, so I won’t touch on that.
But drinking beer and liquor is an easy way to add too many calories to your diet. It’s called a beer belly for a reason. It’s easy to down a few cocktails on a Friday night without even thinking about it, and depending on what you’re drinking, that could be an equivalent to a meal.Then factor in the late night Jim’s Steakout run: that might be about four times your daily allotment of calories!
If you “need” to drink, use water as a mixer. Light beer has less calories but is also easier to drink. One Guinness will fill you up faster than a Michelob Ultra. Don’t drink creamy martinis or white Russians because that half and half is a killer.
Drinking, like eating and exercise, is all about control. Reboot your system this month and try a 30-day no-alcohol cleanse. It will make you aware of how you were drinking beforehand, and might loosen the grip alcohol had on your diet.
I’ve lost a lot of weight since those high school days, but I’ve also gained some muscle mass. Like I said, drinking water so as to save your calories for the solid stuff is only the first step toward that beach-ready body.
I’ll share more tips to come, but for now, just focus on keeping that water bottle with you at all times. Take a picture of it every day and post it on Twitter. Tag In The Loop with the hashtag #DrinkUp and we’ll celebrate your smart choices together!
Derek Nichols is a fitness instructor at Jewish Community Center of Greater Buffalo.