HABIT CHANGE #6: Don’t Count Calories, Count This Instead

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Don't count calories. Count these instead!
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In Habit #6 of our 7-part Healthy Habits series, we’re going to chat about the thing you should really be counting, and it’s not calories or pounds.

STOP COUNTING CALORIES

Too many people think the key to losing weight or getting healthy is to constantly monitor their ratio of calories eaten to calories burned. The challenge with this thinking is that calories are not made equal.  

Your body doesn’t recognize 100 calories of potato chips to be the same as 100 calories of spinach. 

It’s time to forget the mantra “Calories In, Calories Out” and stop counting your calories.

INSTEAD, YOU NEED TO START COUNTING YOUR STEPS.

Do you know that how you move (or don’t move) throughout the day is impacting your weight, your digestion, your blood pressure, and even your cognitive, productive thinking?

In Habit Change #2, the New Smoking, I talked about how prolonged sitting is actually decreasing your life expectancy. Now it’s time to go beyond your new habit of standing more at work, and additionally address your body’s need to get moving every day.

Your body needs regular movement throughout the 11+ hours of your day that you’re not spending sleeping or eating. The longer you are sedentary, the more you increase the bad cholesterol (HDL), reduce your metabolism, and increase your fat retention.

In fact, research studies have found that the longer you are sedentary, you reduce your fat burning enzyme down to 10% of normal.

Being a Weekend Warrior or taking a fitness class a couple of times a week does not make up for your lack of movement within each and every day of the week. 

This means that the benefits of your gym workout this morning will be negated if you then sit for 9+ hours today.


IT’S TIME TO ADD “INCIDENTAL EXERCISE” TO OUR EVERYDAY WAY OF LIFE.

We need to stop thinking of “exercise” as black and white: the thinking that we need to get to the gym to work out or you shouldn’t workout at all. Instead, we need to add Incidental Exercise to our day, all day, every day.

Women’s Health & Fitness magazine defines incidental exercise as “the exercise we get during daily activities and can be done in little bite-size chunks throughout the day,” and suggests you start viewing and measuring these chunks as the foundation of your total daily activity.

It’s time to start measuring how many steps you’re walking in a day, not how many times you went to the gym this week.

DANIELLE ATCHESON,
FUNCTIONAL NUTRITION & LIFESTYLE MEDICINE SPECIALIST


HOW TO ADD “INCIDENTAL EXERCISE” INTO YOUR DAY

Look to do one or all of these three things to reduce your daily sedentary levels – no gym membership is required.

BE A HABIT SHIFTER IN 1-2-3: 

1. GOT 30 MINS? Give these a try at work tomorrow:

Have a Walk ‘n Talk meeting or get out of the office for a nice outdoor walk after lunch. 

Walking just 30 minutes a day for 6 days a week has been proven to be the sweet spot for daily movement.

2. DON’T HAVE 30 MINUTES? Then take a different route for 10 minutes:

Use the restroom on a different floor; use the stairs instead of the elevator. 

Studies show that there is almost the same health benefit of chunking your movement into 10 minutes three times a day.

3. Start tracking your steps.

You’ll need a way to track your steps and daily incidental exercises so get a Fitness Bracelet / Wearable. There are so great fitness bracelets and Smartphone apps (even free ones) to choose from these days, making it easier than ever to make walking fun again. 

Next up is the last of this Healthy Habits 7-part series. If you’ve found value from this series, then I invite you to check out my Health Shift Formula™ online coaching program. You can learn more about it over here. It may be just the thing you’re looking for to start making a difference to your health.

With the last habit #7, I’m going to close out with some kindergarten-esque fun that your child, niece, or nephew will want to join in on. 

Track this new habit:

Check off this habit in your Healthy Habits Tracker (download yours for free here).

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Danielle Atcheson, NBC-HWC, CHN, LMC, CGP

Danielle Atcheson, NBC-HWC, CHN, LMC, CGP

Danielle Atcheson is on a mission to inspire healthier living using the power of micro-habits.

She’s a popular speaker, a board-certified health & wellness coach, and founder of One Degree Health.

As a former Fortune 500 executive, she knows firsthand how a busy schedule can interfere with prioritizing our health.

Danielle started One Degree Health to share her Micro-Habit Mindset and wellness formula with other busy professionals through engaging workshops, online coaching & nutrition programs, and private coaching.

Founder & Chief Wellness Officer, One Degree Health; Functional Nutritionist, Lifestyle Medicine Specialist, Board-Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Certified Gluten-Free Practitioner, Plant-Based Nutrition certified from Cornell University.

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