Television and Weightloss – No I am not writing about yet another fast track unrealistic reality weight loss show (cue The Biggest Loser!) – Yes this post is about the “idiot box” as my Dad affectionately called it when we were growing up, but I want to explore and look at the link between the screen and the scale, and lets be honest – we have all had that mindless time in front of the screen.
I have said this before; this blog is about figuring out what worked for me when losing weight. Not just the exercise and eating side of it, but the other small changes that I perhaps have overlooked. I think TV (or the lack thereof) has had a positive impact on the scale side of things.
Looking back I can now see that (particularly in the last year, and ironically when I brought a new TV) I drastically cut down the time I spent in front of it… When I moved to the beach, I began this little saying to myself, “Is this action going to change your life, is this a good use of your time?” Obviously it was pretty easy to see that going for a walk would change my life and was a better use of my time, than sitting there mindlessly watching yet another re run of some sitcom that I didn’t enjoy the first time! So I got up and would go for a walk rather than sit on the couch and hit the ON button. And as the year progressed I found that I began to be more discretionary about my TV time.
I would exercise more in the evenings and as I work night shifts, I would record to my hard drive maybe 5 TV shows I enjoyed during the week and watch them (skipping the ads) when I had a chance. So on average I found that my TV time became more focused, and I had a little store of recorded shows when I wanted to watch them.
I don’t want you to think that this is all about me saying that you must substitute TV for exercise, research shows that subsiting anything for TV is gonig to be better for you… The facts are surprising and scary, and while this is based on American figures, I am guessing that Australians are just as bad if not worse! The following quote is from the linked article.
“On average, American adults watch five hours of television a day, the third most time-consuming activity in our lives — after sleep and work. Watching television expends fewer calories than other leisure activities that take its place, including reading, writing, telephone conversations and desk work. The more time adults spend in front of the television, the more likely they are to suffer from obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, said Otten.”Cutting TV Time Reduces Weight Gain | Psych Central News.
The above article also noted that a study where people dropped their TV time by half but didn’t change their diet, burnt on avg. 150 calories extra a day than the other participants that did not change their TV habits – this would perhaps not be enough to drastically change your weight, but may help with weight management!
I think that there are a few reasons that TV impacts on our weight, and the more I look into it, the more links I see. Here are some reasons that have come up…
- TV is a sedentary activity that doesn’t burn calories & the time in front of it takes time from other productive activities
- We are more likely to eat in front of the TV.
- We are more likely to eat easy, high calorie snack food when watching TV (think chips, chocolate, ice-cream, biscuits etc)
- TV tends to allow us to disconnect the mind and body, we therefore eat in a somewhat “mindless” manner. We literally “tune out” not connecting what we are putting in our mouths with how we are feeling, this can lead to higher consumption of food and calories without realising, and not linking to that STOP I have had enough feeling.
- The effects of food advertising on TV, and the impact that this has on perceived hunger.
- It gives us “something” to do and can become a strong habit to sit down and eat when watching.
- We watch TV at night after a long day and “reward” ourselves which can become habitual.
TV is part of our lives, and I think the thing I have learnt, is that I really don’t miss watching it that much. If there is a show I like, I can record it, watch it on line and control my access to it, and not allow it to control me. When I do this I am more able to control the other factors above… Skip ads, set up new habits, like have a herbal tea, not eat or watch it after a workout when I am not hungry. At the end of the day life is just more fun to live than watch someone else’s ideas of life on a screen.
I would be interested to hear what you think about the impact of TV in this area, feel free to comment, agree or disagree.
Till next time, Lin xox