Do you often forget you have plans with a friend...until she calls you from outside the movie theater?
This won't come as a surprise to the frazzled among us: The NIA researchers agreed with other study authors that orderly neatniks tend to be leaner than other people—in their analysis, by about 10 pounds. These are usually the same folks who embrace the structure of diets and are obsessed with counting calories. Then there are the disorganized masses. Gans has many overcommitted clients who tell her they're so busy that they barely eat a thing all day—and they can't understand why they're gaining weight. She helps them recognize unhealthy patterns, like skipping lunch, drinking a beer in a post-meeting debrief and then snacking indiscriminately on whatever's in the fridge at home. That's 150 calories for the beer, 350 for some hummus and crackers, 250 for frozen yogurt, 150 for a cereal bar...and none of it adds up to real satisfaction, Gans says.
Change your behavior: Gans says that the trick for these personality types is getting them to eat even when they think they don't have time. She recommends that they stock their homes and offices with portable, nutritious, filling snacks, so they always have something on hand to prevent them from getting too hungry and making bad choices. Her tried-and-true favorites: 23 almonds or 49 pistachios in individual-serving-size bags, six-packs of yogurt and low-fat string cheese.
Do friends or family members refer to you as "Little Miss Sunshine"?
We know that bringing joy to others can enlarge the spirit, but research seems to say it can also make our hips bigger. The NIA study found a correlation between warmth and gregariousness and a higher BMI—especially in women. Another study published earlier this year in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggested that people with sweet dispositions showed a strong preference for sweet treats. Finally, a study from Case Western Reserve University found that when good-natured people pleasers found themselves in social situations, they were likely to overindulge in foods they’d normally avoid if they believed it would make others feel more comfortable. All of this means that cheerful, sweet people pleasers may face extra weight challenges.
Change your behavior: Good news, sweetheart: Gans says that you won't do any damage by eating an ounce of chocolate a day (that's three chocolate kisses). Really adore sweets? Get creative by microwaving semi-healthy S'mores (substitute half a banana for the marshmallow) or enjoy sundaes with frozen yogurt, fruit and nuts. Share the love by making an extra one for your cubicle-mate. If your healthy eating plans are derailed by a friend who had a bad day and wants to split a pint of ice cream, Gans suggests a different kind of deliciousness: Take her out for a pedicure instead.
It's 2 a.m. Are you a) sleeping b) finishing the book you're reading, the book you're writing or the Hogwarts-shaped cake you made for your kid's birthday?
We know that not getting enough sleep throws off our metabolism, interferes with our ability to know when we're full and causes us to seek comfort and stimulation in fatty, sugary snacks. The obvious solution for the sleep deprived is to get more rest. But night owls who do their best work after hours (and the overextended who need to squeeze in a few more hours of work, sewing kids' costumes or catching up on Mad Men
) need to be a little more creative.
Change your behavior:
Gans says that the biggest challenge is to recognize when to eat meals and when to stop snacking. She usually sees people putting off eating for most of the day because they're not hungry at normal meal times and then taking part in an all-night snack-a-thon. She recommends three regular meals, starting with breakfast every morning—even if your morning is 11 a.m. and you're not starving, have a granola bar, a cup of yogurt or a piece of fruit. Don't worry about eating dinner later than other people, she says, because it's not when but how much you eat that determines weight gain. If you know you're going to be up for a while after your last meal, double up on fiber (whole wheat pasta, barley, legumes), which will help you stay full.
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