3 Things that Sabotage Your Diet and Exercise Efforts

coca-cola soda
Image via Flickr/ Vox Efx

If you are working out regularly but still not seeing results, it may be that you’re unintentionally sabotaging your efforts through a vice you don’t realize you have. Or maybe you CAN name your vice, as I bet most of us can if we think about it enough, and instead you choose to do nothing about it. The latter is my situation. After all, every time I make myself a bowl of ice cream I tally up the calories in my head, meaning I realize what I’m doing; then I go ahead and eat the bowl, plus a few more spoonfuls while standing at the freezer and peering over my shoulder to make sure I don’t get caught!

Then I think, I’ll just run another half mile tomorrow, (though I rarely do).

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Diet vices wreak havoc on our best fitness intentions when we let them. This is particularly true if it is something we do regularly or without thought. For instance, a handful of almonds is a great snack, right? We feel like we are making a good effort at snacking because nuts are chock full of protein AND good for the body. Of course, that’s when we eat a handful, not five handfuls before lunch and then another five after dinner.

My mom’s weight loss recently stalled. To see why, she kept a food diary. She said she was very surprised to discover how much snacking here and there she did. When she tallied up those handful of nuts and pieces of cheese, she realized snacking, even on healthy foods, had become her diet vice, sabotaging her fitness efforts. She’d have to walk the pool another hour a day, she said, to burn off those extra calories.

These three common diet vices can bust up our best laid fitness intentions:

Snacking too much

Snacks keep our metabolism and blood sugars steady, so snacking is not bad: if you do it in a healthy way. A study by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics showed those who eat four to five times each day, which includes meals and snacks, have a lower risk of being obese. But how much should you eat?

One trick: determine the number of calories you want to take in per day and break that up into however many meals you feel would be best. For instance, I eat 5 times per day when not training, 6 when I am. I allow more calories for lunch and dinner than I do for the other times I eat. If you do this, you can gauge how many calories you should take in each time and how much you really are. Aside from choosing healthy foods for snacks, enjoy the food, the taste, and the actual process of ‘eating’. Always be mindful when you eat. Never stand while you eat. Sit and enjoy.

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Soda, juice and sugary drinks

Diet soda has the word diet in it so it must be better for your body, right? Wrong! While this drink may have less calories and sugar than the regular version, but a study conducted by University of Texas found drinking diet soda increased the risk for obesity as well as certain health problems. Regular soda is loaded with sugar and calories, and though juice sounds like a great option it, too, can be high in calories and sugar. Enjoy fresh fruit and veggies by munching them, not drinking them, and drink water most of the time. Bored with the blandness? Make a great summertime water drink by filling a pitcher with water and adding your favorite fruit, a few sprigs of fresh mint, and ice. Chill and enjoy!  


If you are happiest when seated in front of the TV with a bowl of ice cream, you might find that a 5 mile run does nothing for your weight loss plans. A little sugar isn’t going to hurt you, but if you are like many Americans you could be consuming 111 grams each day, which is equal to about 450 calories, when you should be ingesting just 30 grams!

So what should you do about it? First, give up that nightly bowl of ice cream.


If you feel a craving take a bite of dark chocolate, as an alternative, which can satisfy the craving while giving you a boost of healthy antioxidants. Don’t give into every craving. If you are used to eating sweets after every meal, get up and walk around for a few minutes when that craving hits. Break the habit so you don’t feel you have to eat sugar after you finish breakfast, lunch and dinner. Think outside of the candy box when it comes to a satisfying ‘sweet’. A few treat ideas: mash up bananas, put in a blender, pour into a bowl and chill. Or one of my favorites: slice bananas, sauté with a little oil in a pan, sprinkle with cinnamon and eat on top of plain yogurt. It’s not about denying yourself a treat; it’s about making healthier choices that won’t destroy all the hard work you are doing in your fitness routine.

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What is your one main diet vice that you feel sabotages your fitness goals? Or what vice did you have that you broke, and how did you break it?

What do you think?

3 Things that Sabotage Your Diet and Exercise Efforts

Kathy Murdock works as a full time writer and web designer. Recently planted in the middle of the deep south from the busy streets of Los Angeles, when she's not coding Wordpress websites or writing about women in business and thrifty motherhood, Kathy spends time photographing alligators, playing with her family, and running. ... More

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