What motivates me NOT to eat that...

I hate counting calories.  I know what I should and shouldn't eat.  I understand the benefits of complex carbohydrates and the pitfalls of saturated fat.  I can estimate the number of calories in a serving of most anything you put in front of me.  If you catch me eating that muffin, soda, pretzel, cheeseburger or chocolate, it's certainly not because I don't know any better.  I'm eating it because it tastes good! And if one serving is good, then a second serving will be great, right? And tasting delicious food feels good (at least for a little while.)

I have discovered the one thing that will keep me on the straight and narrow path to nutritious and healthy eating.  I recently started keeping a daily record of calories burned doing exercise.  This morning I spent half a hour working hard in the pool (low impact cardio).  I entered this accomplishment into my chosen iPhone app and discovered 200 calories are added to my total.  Wow, that was not an easy 200 calories!  Later, I walked outside for an hour and recorded 450 calories burned.  Now compare that to my favorite fast food indulgence - a quarter pounder with cheese, 570 calories!  Or an ice cream sundae, 475 calories!  No, thank you! Celery with hummus? Low fat mozzarella and crackers? Yes, please!

I don't record everything I eat.  (My husband does, though; he loves measuring every minute detail.  More power to him!) Over thinking my diet makes me crazy.  I try to do all the work up front.  I plan nutritious menus (that stay close to most structured diets), use healthy fats (canola and olive oil, nuts and seeds), keep the food clean (avoid refined sugars), use lean meats (chicken, fish, sirloin), add lots of vegetables (root veggies, greens, organic), include ample herbs and spices (many are antioxidant rich), and stick to whole grains (barley, quinoa, wild rice, oats, bulgur), plan for snacks (fresh fruit, cheese and crackers), and drink the right things (water, tea, coffee, and milk).

But when a surprise cream puff or basket or chili cheese fries comes my way, I'll remember how hard I'll have to work to burn those calories.  Most of the time, it won't be worth it!

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