Elephants get fat eating peanuts
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Elephants Get Fat Eating Peanuts

Humm…do they? I’m not sure elephants are even fat,  I just think they are big animals and as it turns out peanuts are not even their preferred source of nutrition. But that’s not the point here, I heard the statement at a social media seminar and it hit home for me. Here’s the bottom line:

 Little things can make a big difference over time!

I hate counting calories! And I don’t advocate counting calories as a viable means of health and happiness either. That said, I was unfortunately (or fortunately?) born a human calorie calculator. I can look at just about anything and hit the calorie total within 10% almost every time. So let me do the math for you today and give you just a little insight here…

According to the ADA, “eating just 30 chips a day can add up to a 30 pound weight gain per year.” Holy sh@#%*&it! Now chips are stigmatized as “bad” so I’m sure most of you healthy hopefuls don’t stuff a bag down every single day. But what about some other seemingly innocent “peanuts?” What little thing do you do that is silently sabotaging your good intentions and ultimately adding to your physical bottom line at the end of the year?

Little “peanuts” that might be making you “fat.”

These habits every day if not burned off or budgeted for will result in this many pounds added to your gut, rear, hips, cheeks, arms per year – yuck!

  1. Whole milk in your cereal – 146 calories = 15 lbs
  2. 2T cream in your coffee – 104 calories = 11 lbs
  3. 8 oz glass of orange juice – 112 calories = 12 lbs
  4. That extra piece of pizza at lunch – 300 calories = 32 lbs
  5. Regular soda  – 150 calories = 16 lbs
  6. Afternoon large cookie – 250 calories = 26 lbs
  7. Vente regular mocha w/whipped cream – 450 calories = 47 lbs
  8. Bread and butter w/dinner – 200 calories = 21 lbs
  9. Stiff martini or 2 beers/wine at the end of the night – 300 calories = 31lbs
  10. Dessert (pie, ice cream, brownie) – 450 calories = 47 lbs

A daily stop at Starbucks could add 70 pounds a year to your rear?

Um, yes. If you stop for a cookie and a mocha that is what the counting calorie math says will happen. With your sweet treats, you’ll pick up 700 unnecessary calories per day x 365 days in a year = 255,500 calories. If it takes 3500 unnecessary calories to gain a pound of fat, then you have 73 pounds to look forward to carrying around with you. I hope you really like those sweet treats 😉

Counting calories reality check

Now, I really don’t expect that anybody does these things every-single-day of the year, but the 73 pound shock factor just might have you think twice before you go grab that extra slice of pizza after you’re already full. The simple realization that you can easily tack 30 pounds onto your rear when you settle down for a martini (or two or three) or sugary/rich dessert at the end of a long day. One might naturally look for a less toxic way to soothe themselves when you look at the long term impact of these sneaky little “peanut” habits.

Here’s the great news!

This counting calories works both ways. If you have bad habits that you decide to turn into better ones, you can lose weight without really trying that hard.

What “peanut” can you axe to get “skinny?”

Now for the good news, if any of the above seemingly innocent habits look familiar to you, try these instead and here’s what you’ll get for it!

  1. Light almond milk: 30 calories (116 less than whole milk) = 12 lbs lost!
  2. Fat free half and half: 18 calories (86 less than cream) = 9 lbs lost!
  3. Small orange: 45 calories (67 less than than juice) = 7 lbs lost!
  4. If you’re full, you don’t need the extra piece: 0 calories (300 less) = 32 lbs lost!
  5. Water or unsweetened iced tea with lemon: o calories (150 less than soda) = 16 lbs lost!
  6. Small chocolate chip cookie: 55 calories (195 less than large cookie) – 20 lbs lost!
  7. Tall café Miso: 70 calories (380 less than vente mocha) = 40 lbs lost!
  8. Just skip it: 0 calories (200 less than bread & butter) = 21 lbs lost!
  9. SkinnyTini or one serving: 150 calories (150 calories less than 2) = 16 lbs lost!
  10. Frozen yogurt or sorbet w/fresh fruit: 150 calories (300 calories less than traditional) = 31 lbs lost!

You see — you don’t even need to give everything up! Just make better choices. Instead of a giant cookie, have a small cookie and lose (or not gain) weight! So next time when you’re making that decision to do, not do, or do better — think about the long term impact. I’m all about balance. If you need it — do it. But if you can go without, you should! It could save you dozens of pounds in the end!

counting calorie swaps

Counting calories exercise — what’s your “peanut?”

  1. Pick something from the first list that you may do.
  2. Add the pounds that habit would add if you did it every single day to your current weight. (i.e you use cream in your coffee and you weigh 150 pounds. 150+10=160 lbs)
  3. Fast forward 365 days, how does that weight feel? What’s different? Do you have a muffin top now? Are you in a different size clothing? How do you feel when you walk in a room and people look at you?
  4. Pick something from then second list that you think may be a better habit for your lifestyle.
  5. Subtract the pounds that habit would lose if you did it every single day to your current weight. (i.e. you decide fat free half and half is doable. 150-9=141 lbs)
  6. Fast forward 365 days, how does that weight feel? What’s different? Can you tuck in your shirt now? Are you in a different size clothing? How do you feel when you walk in a room and people look at you. 

Now the choice is yours — just remember that a healthy lifestyle is simply the process of making more “good decision” than bad and that it’s never about being perfect, its simply about being better.

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  • asliceofavocado

    Love these ideas! Little calories really do add up. And the swaps are just as good 🙂

  • Frances Arnold

    Thanks for your work in trying to help people adopt healthier living. I like that you put a lot of thought into your post and your informative blog. My professional experience as a weight loss Registered Dietitian Nutritionis is 180 degrees opposite, and I hope you don’t mind me sharing.

    Weight loss is not as simple as calorie counting. Our bodies are biochemical laboratories, not bank accounts. If calorie counting worked as well as we’ve been led to believe, we would not have the weight problems we have today. I was trained in the classic calorie counting method for weight loss. Clients would count their hearts out and exercise 6+ hours per week, and still suffer with obesity. That sucks! As our nation became obsessed with low-fat, we collectively got fatter and developed more heart disease, regardless of our good intentions. We also developed a lot of other chronic illness related to diet. Apparently, low-fat, no-fat and calorie counting isn’t working like we hoped.

    Fat is essential. It’s in the membrane of our cells. Your brain is the fattest organ in your body and may consist of at least 60% fat. Fat allows us to absorb and transport many nutrients. Fat creates hormonal signaling that are essential to satiety and weight loss. The idea that fat makes us fat is outdated. What we need is to manage our carbohydrate intake, reduce our stress, reduce our toxin load, improve our sleep, support our hormones, and eat real food. Fat is a natural, normal part of food – we evolved eating it.

    Now, I liberate my clients from calorie counting, and I reintroduce fat into their diets. They lose fat quickly with this approach. They aren’t starving or stressed over calories.

    I hope this comment helps, and thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts.

    • teresamarierun

      Hi Frances — thank your for your comment and of course I don’t mind you sharing, especially since your philosophy is not 100% different from mine 😉 I don’t advocate calorie counting as a viable way to live a healthy happy life – or in eliminating fat? I do believe in moderation across the board and used this post a VERY simple illustration of how small changes add up over time. I’m all for liberating clients from calorie counting!

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