You’ve spent the past winter months in hibernation — as we like to call it bulking season. Time is ticking and spring has sprung, you’re starting to feel the pressure to get leaner and more ripped for your warm-weather debut. With just a few month to go, it’s time to put the gears into full throttle.
Calories are being counted, cheat meals are being eaten, and workouts are more intense — you’re doing everything right, results are slowly showing. Take a closer look at everything; your lifestyle could be impeding the results. When we’re talking lifestyle here we mean how your kitchen is set up, what your office environment is like, and how you grocery shop.
I know what you’re about to say, “What does this have to do with cutting season?”
Dr. Brian Wansink (AKA the Sherlock Holmes of food) is the director of the famed Cornell Food and Brand Lab in Ithaca, New York and was also White House appointed as the Executive Director of USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion from 2007 to 2009. I sat down with the expert to get insider tips on how to make cutting season that much easier.
To further investigate these tips check out Dr. Wansink’s book Slim By Design, which brings in the scientific facts of how our environment makes us lean or fat. His approach can not only be applied to the average Joe who wants to drop a few pounds to be healthy but also you, the meathead in the gym who is trying to lean-out.
No. 1: Make Your Kitchen Less Comfy
Lean-proofing where you live, specifically the kitchen, is the first step of the process. “The more you hang out in your kitchen, the more you’ll eat,” says Dr. Wansink. You hang out in your kitchen because there’s comfy seating, a TV, and whatever else you consider to be the comforts of the kitchen. Getting rid of what you consider to be comfy will save yourself 18 minutes of going for more food — essentially you’ll spend less time in the kitchen
Food is on the counter saying, “Eat me.” And you eat it because that’s just something you do when food is in front of your face. Keeping your kitchen counters clear of food will save you a lot calories. Also, whatever you see first when you open the cabinets or the refrigerator door, you’re bound to go for. So move things around so that the first items you see are the ones that are the healthiest.
“Making your kitchen less loungeable and making the tempting foods invisible and inconvenient will help you eat less,” says Wansink. Cleaning up your kitchen will make you want to actually cook more in it, and to cook healthier. Sunday night’s meal prep will be a piece of cake. And when you’re cooking and are about to plate up, pay attention to how much you’re serving yourself. A larger package of food will have you prepping and eating more — 22 percent more food.
No. 2: Brown-Bag It
If you’re not packing your own lunch each day, it’s clear as day why you’re not dropping weight. When your stomach is about to eat itself at lunch, you will more than likely choose something that’s not healthy and packed with calories. From his studies with lunchtime Dr. Wansink says, “When it comes to healthier eaters, the adult brown-baggers are usually the gold medalists. Even with the cookie and chips they often bring, they eat better and eat less.”
For those days that you forget to pack your lunch and opt for the cafeteria food, start by putting fruit on your tray. Dr. Wansink completed a study in which he gave lunchtime goers a piece of fruit first at the beginning of the line. The end result was that they continuously chose healthier food options as they went about the cafeteria line. He had the other participants start with cookies on their tray, and these lunchtime goers kept on going for the junk food.
Dr. Wansink also recommends checking to see if your company has any discounted gym membership fees, making that boardroom meeting a walking meeting, and setting up fitness/health challenges among coworkers.
3. Have a Grocery Strategy
Beware Aisle 2
Have you ever thought the layout of your grocery store could influence the way you shop? Well it does, and you spend about six minutes less in the healthy sections like the produce section. One of Dr. Wansinks’s many studies took place in a grocery store in Washington D.C. where he observed how people grocery shop. He found that people go through the produce aisle and then make their way to Aisle 2. But once the shoppers leave Aisle 2, they start to skip aisles and search for whatever they may need. The result he says, “Aisle 2 gets the most love.” That’s because Aisle 2 typically contains the junk food. “First in sight is first in cart.” Lesson learned here, don’t just aimlessly wander through the store, put more time and effort into going towards the healthier aisles.
Never Shop Hungry
First off, we tend to buy any food that’s at eye level. If the healthier options are lower, it’s just a small squat down — think of it as a workout prep. And while you’re perusing the shelves, make sure that you do it on a full stomach. If you shop on an empty stomach then you may snack on something before you get to the checkout. A way to blunt mid-food shopping cravings is by chewing gum. Another study from Dr. Wansink gave chewing gum to shoppers who did their food shopping when they were hungry. The results: they bought seven percent less junk food than those who weren’t chewing gum.