A simple guide to curbing your calories

It’s crunch time. The summer months are a few short weeks away, which means it is time to nix those oh-so-attractive bulky, cable knit sweaters and replace them with barely there bikinis. A horrifying thought, especially if your body is iridescently pasty and still deflating from that third bag of Cadbury Eggs and oversized chocolate bunny you indulged in over Easter break.

As a Personal Trainer, I am often asked how one can minimize abdominal bloat and excess fat. Simply stated, abs are made in the kitchen. Sit-ups are an excellent exercise for strengthening core muscles; however, it won’t compensate for a poor diet. You are what you eat, and this statement is best illustrated through the weight of your waistline. Don’t panic—it is not too late to make the nutritional adjustments necessary to pulverize pudge. Here are a few simple ways to cut extra calories from your daily diet:

Less is More. If you deprive your body of what you enjoy, you will become hangry (hungry + angry = hangry), and perhaps homicidal. I don’t want you to lose your friends, spouse or end up in prison for life, so the easiest way to prevent all of the above from occurring is to satiate your appetite with foods that satisfy you.

The trick here is to practice portion control and balance. I am not suggesting that you have a small portion of Eggs Benedict for breakfast, a nibble of cheeseburger for lunch and noodle of lasagna for dinner. Rather, pick one meal a day that you really love and can look forward to, such as the lasagna dinner. Opt for a healthy breakfast and lunch, such as Steel-Cut oatmeal and a spinach salad, and satisfy your craving later in the day with a human-being size (not to be confused with a Man v. Food portion) of lasagna for dinner.

Rule of thumb: If you can’t see some porcelain on your plate, then the serving you scooped out is too big. Cooking for one? Easy—have a slice, and freeze the rest. This is a great way to prevent continuous picking throughout the evening. You can still enjoy a square meal without doubling your waistline. Here is a little food for thought: what appears delectable in the heat-of-the moment (a tub of Ben and Jerry’s) isn’t so appealing when you can’t zipper your jeans the next day.

Dressed to Kill. Controlling your use of condiments, sauces, dressings and cheese can cut considerable calories from your meal. Simple substitutions for artery cloggers such as mayonnaise, fatty salad dressings and even cheese in your sandwich can trick your taste buds, in addition to ridding your diet of unnecessary fat traps.

For example, nothing brings me more joy than slathering my turkey sandwich with copious amounts of mayonnaise. I love mayonnaise. Sometimes I’ll even throw a little under my eyes to smooth away my crow’s feet (Side note, as I can already hear the critics: I experimented with this once, wouldn’t recommend it unless you are fond of smelling like an Italian hoagie the rest of your day). While delicious, this sinful condiment adds on a whopping sixty calories per tablespoon—not to mention most sandwich aficionados pack on way more than a serving per sandwich.

A healthy alternative is choosing a low-fat mayo, or better yet consider mustard which has virtually no calories. Other substitutions to consider are replacing ketchup with the low-sugar version, salad dressing with a heart-healthy tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and Buffalo sauce with Sriracha or hot sauce.

{Disclaimer: As a former resident of Wisconsin, I apologize for dissing the dairy state’s chief export of cheese.}

While cheese provides a healthy dose of calcium, it is the grim reaper on not only your arteries, but further kills your diet by packing pounds on your abdomen and “dairy” ire. Most sandwich cheeses are bland, hence you won’t notice their absence if you abstain from it. Forgoing cheese can eliminate hundreds of calories from your daily intake. Farewell fromage!

High Spirits. Is high calorie sipping sabotaging your diet? While a cold beverage can be very refreshing on a hot summer day, drinking like a fish can land you belly up in the deep end. Juices, sodas and premixed drinks pack a huge calorie punch, and for this reason should be banned from your bar tab. Some healthier options include:

  • Vodka Gimlet: Vodka and fresh squeezed lime juice
  • Classic Margarita: Tequila, fresh squeezed lime juice and agave nectar
  • Vodka Soda: Vodka, soda water and a squeeze of lemon or lime

A simple guideline for the calorie conscious is to “stay in the clear.” In other words, opt for transparent drinks. If you can see your drinking buddy making out with the DJ through the other end of your martini glass, chances are it is low calorie. Your friend, on the other hand, is questionable. In addition, don’t forget to mix a glass of water between drinks to avoid dehydration. Cheers!

Burying your head in the sand won’t change how comfortable you are in your skin. It is never too late to start a fresh relationship with your body. Diets do not work, a healthy lifestyle does. Eat well and exercise often to make a splash this summer, rather than a belly flop.

Earn it.


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