Don’t let anyone suck the fun out of your fun size bars!
It’s that time of year again…
The time of year where those charts that start floating around telling us how long we have to run in order to ‘burn off’ the calories in our Halloween treats. You know the ones. They’re everywhere, often created by well-meaning people (probably). These people who just believe that no one knows that chocolate bars are high in calories. They believe that if everyone would just share their Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest post warning us of the payment required for our indulgences we’d all think twice about grabbing that mini Kit Kat.
As a Personal Trainer and Dietitian you might think I’m the exact type of person who would totally be sharing those charts. You might think I’m even creating the damn things! Because I need to make sure each and every one of you know that candy is UNHEALTHY!
Fortunately, that’s not the case. You and I both know that there is not a single person out there who would categorize Halloween candy as ‘nutritious’. So, why then am I all fired up about these silly charts?
What’s the problem with comparing running times with the calories in Halloween candy?
1. They’re completely inaccurate.
That’s right! They’re usually just plain wrong. How many calories you burn during exercise is completely dependent on you as a unique individual. For example:
- How fit you are
- Your body weight
- The intensity of the exercise (how fast you run)
Will all drastically change the calories you burn per minute of activity. What type of person are these charts based on? Your guess is as good as mine!
More importantly, exercise should not simply be a tool for burning calories from the extra Halloween candy we eat. Exercising just for the sake of “burning calories” turns exercise into a chore, which brings me to my second point…
2. Viewing exercise as punishment sends us running… in the wrong direction.
Trying to “work off” Halloween candy calories in the gym is unproductive because exercise should never be viewed as punishment. In my experience, this is the #1 reason why people avoid exercise. To them, exercise is hard, painful, and unpleasant. They over-indulge on the weekend, so back to the gym on Monday for a torture session. And the cycle continues week after week.
From a psychological perspective, this teaches the brain to want to avoid activity! And it’s fairly obvious when you think about it, right? I mean our brains are trying to look out for us. It does this by making us want to avoid things that cause pain or harm. So if every time we exercise we’re perceiving it as punishment and suffering, we will go to great lengths to not feel that way again!
Instead, find an activity you actually enjoy, and that makes you feel great while doing it. Maybe it’s walking instead of running or perhaps you ditch the treadmill altogether and take a dance class with your friends. Yoga, Weights, Cycling, Swimming, Martial Arts, however you get your body moving is completely up to you. But remember, exercising at a pace that is right for you is the most important thing to find enjoyment in movement.
We should exercise at the fitness level we’re at, not the level we WANT to be at
…Besides, is a teeny chocolate bar really such a big deal?
3. Personally, I think the ‘fun size’ Halloween candies are great
They come in perfect little portion-sizes for satisfy a little sweet craving. Most are less than 100 calories each, which is a nice amount for a little treat. Hell, have 2! Let’s face it, a 100% ZERO treat, no-sugar-ever diet is not something most of us are interested in following.
The real issue that people can run into with the mini Halloween treats is the feeling like they can’t stop at one (or two, or seven). If this is you, and you often find yourself feeling really out of control around certain foods, the problem may not be what you think it is.
Many people blame things like sugar or food addiction for their overeating tendencies, which causes them to feel like they need to control themselves or just gain some f****** willpower in order to stop feeling so weak around the Reese’s Cups.
What really happens though, is this constant restriction actually leads us to eat more of these foods when we get a chance. We’re also more likely to overeat when we encounter another trigger like having a bad day or being stressed, lonely, or bored. After these episodes we feel like shit about ourselves, which leads to more guilt, more restriction, and ultimately, more overeating. It’s a nasty cycle in which we’re never happy or satisfied.
The bottom line
If this unhappy relationship with eating and exercise sounds like you, find a Dietitian who can help. Improving your relationship with food can in turn help you find more enjoyment in the exercise that you do. Whatever that may be! You can learn to enjoy your treats, without losing sleep over the calories you’ve eaten. This can help you fuel better and train smarter so you can reap the benefits and actually perform better!
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About the Author: Stephanie Hnatiuk is a Registered Dietitian, Personal Trainer, and Diabetes Educator. She specializes in sport nutrition strategies for runners of all levels, and loves helping fellow runners cross the finish line faster!
Click here for more information about my one on one nutrition coaching programs for athletes!