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Do You Lose Your Willpower After Work?

In all the years I’ve counseled people for weight loss, this is one of the top complaints I’ve heard. So many of my clients say they’re “good all day” but lose it when they walk in the door. Usually there are three core causes:

1. No distractions. Some work days can fly by so fast you even forget to eat, but once you’re home and not being hounded by phone calls, emails and growing to-do lists, it can be easy to succumb to snacking. Unstructured time is good for your soul. It can renew your spirit and breakup the monotony of the work week, but if having “nothing to do” tends to draw you to the kitchen (or TV like yesterday’s post), commit to a post 5 pm “leisure schedule.” Take a class one night a week, preferably something that requires you to practice during the other evenings, like drawing or music lessons. The trick is to find relaxing activities you’ll look forward to that don’t easily pair with eating. Anything that distracts your hands is a good bet, like knitting, sewing, cross stitch or mosaic art.           

2. Contagious eating. If you live with a significant other or roommate, not eating what and when they do is a huge challenge. Believe me, I understand. Every night my husband munches on chips and salsa, olives, chocolate, or some other yummy snack right in front of me. Seeing and smelling something you like that someone you love is inviting you to indulge in can be one of the hardest daily hurdles to overcome. If it’s particularly tough for you to politely decline, leave the room if you can, or time it so you’re eating something healthy simultaneously.   

3. Emotional noshing. The after dinner hours tend to be prime time for feelings to bubble up, and any emotion, from sadness to even happiness can trigger unplanned eating. If you often find yourself in this boat, grab a pen and paper. Make four columns: happy, sad, angry and scared – psychologists say these four are at the root of all of our emotions. Under each one, list as many non-eating acts as you can think of that either a) allow you to let the feeling out or b) disconnect from it. When you’re done, star the top two or three in each category. Here are a few of mine:

-Practice my guitar

-Watch a sad movie and cry, cry, cry
-Cuddle with my pets

-Clean/scrub or go for a brisk walk
-Vent to a friend

-Call my big sister
-Volunteer or lend a hand to someone else who needs my help (this always makes me feel less helpless and puts things in perspective)

Do you find yourself eating more at night? What tricks have you used to conquer the post-work munchies? Please share them!


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