It's a scary thought, but even something as benign as your chewing gum habit could be packing 100-plus calories onto your daily diet. Similarly, other lifestyle choices like keeping your home super-chilled or wearing sky-high stilettos could be contributing to your lack of diet success. If you're looking for small ways that, cumulatively, can make a big difference in your diet and fitness success, read on. You may never look at central air the same way again.
As avowed gum chewers know, you can never stop at just one piece of gum. But one piece of bubble gum like Bubbalicious has 25 calories, meaning one pack of five pieces has 125 calories – the equivalent of any number of sweet or savoury treats that you may as well actually eat. A sugar-free chewing gum like Dentyne Ice logs 5 calories per piece/12 pieces per pack, so it's fine if you're sticking to a pack-a-day habit. But cut back if you're regularly going through multiple packs per day.
Blasting the air conditioning
Avoiding the dog days of summer can lead to an increase in poundage, says a study published in the International Journal of Obesity. Air conditioning keeps your body in the comfortable "thermoneutral zone," where no work is required to regulate its temperature. Sounds good – except that you're losing out on the effort your body would otherwise be making to get into the zone. Effort that gobbles up energy and therefore helps to "decrease energy stores," aka fat, says a study led by David Allison, director of the Clinical Nutrition Research Center at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. So turn your thermostat down a bit – your energy bill and the environment will thank you, too.
Look, we love a pair of sexy pumps or trendy ballet flats (which, for many women, are not at all as comfortable as one might imagine) as much as anyone, but if your feet are sore or blistered, you're not going to make the effort to slot in a lunchtime power walk or to get off the bus two stops early in order to get some extra footwork. If your work shoes aren't comfortable, pack 'em in your bag and commute in runners or other comfy shoes. Try to work at least a half hour of walking into your day.
Lack of sunscreen
Here's another excuse for not getting outside in the summer: the sun. Don't make fear of sun damage your excuse for staying indoors and being lazy. Keep extra sunscreen, a sun hat, and sunglasses in your car and office desk. What coffee break scenario sounds more diet-friendly to you: an energizing 15-minute walk outdoors, sipping a refreshing, zero-calorie San Pellegrino; or a 15-minute sit-down indoors, drinking a 340-calorie, tall caffe mocha in a fat-encouraging air conditioned microclimate? 'Nuff said.
Allergy meds containing diphenhydramine (like Benadryl) can sap your energy and make exercise as likely to happen as ragweed being named "Flower of the Year" – in other words, not likely at all. If you need to dose yourself on a regular basis, consider switching to a diphenhydramine-free formula. Antihistamines like Claritin and Reactine (called Zyrtec in the United States) fight allergies without bringing on fatigue.
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