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Weight Loss Made Simple – Ten Easy Steps to Keep Your Swimsuit Figure Year Round
Weight management is one of those age-old issues that we never seem to completely resolve. One might think that after all of the years of discussion about the best ways to achieve and maintain a healthy weight there would be a quick, easy formula. The truth is there are more programs, diets, and books than ever on this topic that continues to capture the attention of so many of us, and often confuse us.
Our genetic make-up, psychological and emotional programming, and environmental upbringing have all contributed to who we are and how we operate at all levels including our tendencies in weight, size, and fitness. Not one of us is just alike. Just as you cannot compare a rose to a daisy, or a hydrangea to a tulip, each one of us is unique in nature. Our objective then, for a great weight/fitness strategy, is not to create one perfect mold for everyone but to provide a way for any person of any genetic make-up who came from any background to benefit from a program which forms the most supportive, yet simple philosophy and habits to maintain a fit, slim, healthy body FOREVER. The end goal is not for all of us to aspire to one certain body size or shape, but to reach a size and shape that allows us to live healthy, fit, active lives and to look and feel good at the same time.
The following are ten no-nonsense, super-effective strategies that will benefit ANYBODY in helping achieve THE BEST healthy, fit, slim body possible.
Strategy #1 – Cut the Mental Crap!
Seriously, as long as you believe you have fat genes that make you fat or you keep your identity wrapped up in the fear of being overweight – your own psychological programming will keep setting you up to fulfill those beliefs. Psychological programming is powerful. It controls your beliefs, your actions, and even the behaviors of each little cell through chemical messengers that come from…yes, your brain via your thoughts. How do you instantly begin to change your self-sabotaging programming?
Wear a rubber band around your wrist EVERY day. When those old fat lies pop up – snap yourself and say “That’s a bunch of RUBBISH! I’m not buying it ANYMORE!” Then look at yourself in the mirror if you’re near one and say “I’m fit, I’m slim, and nothing can stop me from looking and being my best!” Repeat this exercise at least ten times a day. If you REALLY stick with it, it will have a huge impact on your success. YOU have the power to change your beliefs.
Strategy #2 – Move It!
Why do you think you were made with all of those joints and muscles? That’s right…not to hold still. Getting that body moving the way it was meant to will create massive changes in your fitness picture. The benefits are multi-fold.
First of all, engaging in some kind of aerobic activity at LEAST four times a week will raise your metabolism not only when you are doing it, but for hours afterward you have metabolic benefits. Secondly, doing some kind of weight bearing exercise will create more lean muscle in your body, which burns far more calories ounce-per-ounce than that useless fat that’s been hanging around. Thirdly, the psychological benefits of exercise will make you feel like a million bucks. You’ll have more energy throughout the day, which will motivate you to move even more! Oh, and don’t give yourself any excuses like “I can’t afford a gym membership.” Because, you know what… I can, and I don’t use it.
Instead, I tie on my running shoes and head out for a jog or up a mountain (or even some hilly streets) for a hike. Jogging and walking are free. You don’t have to pay a thing and you get to enjoy nature and fresh air, which can be like a whole meditative experience in itself. Then, when I return, I drop down for some push-ups, then some sit-ups, then some leg lifts and squats against the wall. You’d be amazed at how many weight bearing exercises you can do just bearing the weight of your own body. I also add in some inexpensive hand or ankle weights. I’ve even been known to grab some cans of chili for strengthening the forearms. All of this takes me no more than 45 minutes to an hour. It’s really efficient when you don’t have to drive yourself to a gym and back. No time wasted socializing either. Oh, and don’t forget to stretch a little at the end. It will keep you flexible for tomorrow’s fun!
Strategy #3 – If It’s White and Refined Don’t Eat It!
White flours and white sugars are refined which basically means they are stripped of much of their nutrition. What is taken out in the refining process is the fiber and some essential nutrients. Hello…there is probably a reason God put the fiber there in the first place.
It is the fiber part that regulates the processing and digestion of the food. Fiber slows the absorption of the bad sugars, which is what white flour and obviously white sugar become in the body. Without fiber, the body goes into a glycemic overload which quickly causes the pancreas to work extra hard trying to create the insulin needed for your body to DEAL with the overload. As your insulin spikes, it shoots your body into a metabolic stratosphere…way past your target metabolic zone. Then, this white product (which is basically devoid of any quality nutrition) makes its way down through the intestines as they work to eliminate the waste. Because it is missing the fiber, it begins to coat the intestinal walls, creating a toxic build-up and slowing metabolism down even more. The whole thing sounds rather disgusting, doesn’t it?
Avoid the white breads, white rice, bagels, cookies, pastries and such. Stick with 100% whole wheat or whole grain breads. Choose brown rice over white (the fiber is still there). Discover fun new whole grains and use them for side dishes, baking, and as hot cereals. Grains like kamut, barley, millet, amaranth, spelt, steel cut oats, wild rice, couscous and buckwheat are just some of the many that are full of delicious taste, texture, and nutrition, which makes eating so much more interesting. Most of us have been eating wheat and rice like they are the only game in town. Choose breakfast cereals that have at least 6 to 10 grams of fiber per serving; there are lots of them.
Notice in the new recommended food pyramids white products are way up at the top in the tiniest section…right next to red meats and butter, basically telling you to eat very little of them. I would recommend skipping them altogether. There are SO many other great things to eat that will keep you healthy and slim.
Strategy # 4 – Protein at EVERY Meal is a Must!
THIS is one of the easiest lean body strategies you can employ. A true “no-brainer.” Multiple studies show that eating adequate amounts of protein with each meal will keep you leaner and healthier. How? The amino acids found in high quality protein do three things.
Number one, they help maintain and build muscle mass and strength, and remember – lean muscles burns more calories pound per pound than fat.
Number two, eating at least four ounces of protein with each meal can raise your metabolism as much as thirty percent. You might think of protein as propane added to your metabolic fire…it causes it to burn faster and hotter.
The third thing adding more protein does, is to keep glycemic levels (that would be your blood sugar) level. Spiking glycemic levels causes a big decrease in metabolism. Eating protein with each meal prevents this from happening and causes the opposite response in the body; stabilizing blood sugars and putting you at your highest metabolic target rate.
The other positive effect from consistent protein consumption is better health. Research shows that stable glycemic levels also prevent the onset of Type II Diabetes and osteoporosis. Good protein sources include 4-6 ounces of chicken, turkey breast, lean cuts of beef, fish, non-fat yogurt or cottage cheese, lentils, beans, skim milk, tofu, and eggs.
If you want to be your leanest self you can’t skip the protein. When you consistently include protein in each meal, you will feel satisfied for much longer because your blood sugar isn’t swinging wildly about, making you think you need to keep eating. Go ahead and start to imagine how great you’re going to look with leaner, protein-fed muscles, because that’s exactly what you’ll be looking at when you use this strategy!
Strategy # 5 – Change your 5-a-Day to 9-a-day to Eat More & Weigh Less
When you include enough vegetables and fruits in your daily diet, not only will you become more lean and fit, your health will improve dramatically. Vegetables and fruits contain micronutrients which bring energy to our cells and increase metabolism. Adding lots of veggies and fruits makes eating right and staying slim SO much easier.
Fruits and vegetables contain lots of water and fiber (there’s that fiber we need again). Because of this they are low in calories. Adding more of them to our meals allows us to eat more but consume fewer calories. What a great deal! The bulk and fiber that veggies and fruits have make us feel full and satisfied after a meal, so we aren’t as tempted to order the banana-cream pie when we’re finished. As if you needed any more reasons to veggie up your day, these nutritional superstars help reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic disease.
A good rule of thumb for produce is fresher is better. Vitamins and micronutrients begin to dissipate with extended storage or over-cooking. Drop by your local farmers markets and roadside fruit stands to get the most vitamin-packed freshness possible. Smaller grocery stores often carry more local produce than others. The many different colors of produce have unique nutritional properties, so select a good variety to eat from the rainbow of colors available.
Here are some great ways to enjoy lots more of them:
-Add spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes, or onions to your eggs.
-Throw a handful of mixed berries and a half of banana on top of your grainy cereal.
-Put a smear of peanut butter on your whole-grain toast and put chopped nectarines, bananas, and strawberries on top.
-Pile your sandwich with leafy green lettuce or spinach, tomatoes, sprouts, cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbage, or onions.
-Substitute a few cups of chopped veggies for part of the rice or pasta in recipes…you won’t even miss them.
-Let veggies be the biggest serving on your plate – and add a side salad with low-fat dressing or olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
The more veggies and fruit you eat, the less you will crave the other stuff that makes you fat and is devoid of quality nutrition. Here’s to 9-a-day!
Strategy # 6 – Keep the Fire Burning
There is a reason crash or fad diets never work in the long run. They actually create a slower metabolism…something you DON’T want. Food causes something called thermogenisis within the body. This is essentially the body’s metabolic response to food when it is eaten. Eating revs up metabolism because the body is working to digest the food. If you don’t provide enough food for your metabolic fire, say less than 1000 calories a day, the fire will slow way down, making metabolism rather sluggish. If you consistently over-eat, the metabolic fire will be over-loaded, and the extra calories will convert to fat and get stored.
Ideally you want to keep your thermic effect happening consistently throughout the day, starting with breakfast. Studies show that breakfast eaters maintain a more consistent weight than non-breakfast eaters. Eating smaller meals and snacks regularly, throughout the day will keep your body’s thermic effect to kick in. Revving up metabolism more frequently will raise your overall metabolism to help create the leanest version of you. Never go more than 4-5 hours without eating. You don’t want those metabolic fires to get sluggish…you want them burning mightily to help keep you lean and light.
Strategy # 7 – Eat Your Fats to Get Thin?
Strange, but true. When we went through the carb-diet craze, fats got a really bad rap. As Americans started eating plates of pasta and boxes of bagels, and avoiding such things as avocados, almonds and salmon, we started getting fatter and fatter. We somehow got stuck on the idea that any fat is bad. NOT TRUE. These good fats found in such foods are so crucial to our health and metabolism that we simply cannot be completely healthy without them.
In this good fat group there are three types of essential fatty acids or EFA’s, and they are our most potent blood sugar stabilizers. Omega 3’s found in walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and flaxseed oil, and fatty fish; the good omega 6’s that are found in borage and evening primrose oils; and omega 9’s that can be found in such things as olive oil, avocados, and peanuts. In addition to stabilizing blood sugar, EFAs actually boost your body’s ability to specifically BURN FATS rather than store them. Many overweight or obese people have an EFA deficiency. EFAs also provide a great nutritional support to your heart, brain, skin, and reproductive system. Now that’s a food you want on your side! If you find that it is difficult to get the full amount of EFAs you need in a day, the supplements are very safe and effective. They are basically the actual food source in a gel cap or liquid oil.
Just to eliminate any confusion, make sure you stay away from the bad fats which include hydrogenated, oxidized, or heat processed fats found in things like margarine, fried foods, and shortening. Those “bad” fats are linked to premature aging and diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Get ready to put those good fats to work sculpting your body and making it healthy at the same time.
Strategy #8 – Green Tea
If you aren’t already drinking it, now is the time to start. Here’s why. There is a special antioxidant found in green tea called Epigallocatechin-3 or EGCG. It is the new beauty-child of the antioxidant world–because it is 100 times more powerful than Vitamin C and 25 times more powerful than vitamin E in its ability to overcome those nasty free radicals that circulate through our bodies and cause cellular destruction. Antioxidants safely terminate the chain reaction of destruction of molecules before they are damaged.
Researchers have also discovered that the other important response EGCG causes in the body is to increase the thermic effect, resulting in that higher metabolic burn we talked about. They found by drinking 5 cups of green tea per day you will burn 80 extra calories. Doesn’t sound like a lot but….green tea also seems to curb the appetite. If you have a cup of green tea BEFORE you eat a meal, you are less likely to overeat; AND you get the enhanced metabolic effect. You can feel good about this strategy, knowing the EGCG is doing its job in your body to shut down the free radical destroyers and to help keep you at your best metabolism. Healthy and slim…now that’s a no-brainer!
Strategy # 9 -Conscious Eating
Many people who have weight issues have portion blindness. They do a lot of mindless eating and snacking without really consciously registering what they are doing. Then they tell their friends how they really don’t eat that much and can’t figure out how they have gotten heavy.
This strategy says never eat ANYTHING without consciously thinking about the ratio of calories to nutrition. For instance…if I eat a simple glazed donut, I’ve consumed about 200 calories and 12 grams of fat, spiked my blood sugar, lowered my metabolism, and gotten VERY little nutrition. Empty calories, in other words, which will leave me feeling hungry again in a very short time. If I eat a piece of whole grain toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter on it, I’ve consumed about the same 200 calories but… I’ve eaten a nutrition-packed snack or mini-meal, stabilized my blood sugar, raised my metabolism and I’ll go a lot longer without feeling hungry again.
Don’t mindlessly throw food into your mouth without awareness. That’s just not smart and even simple strategies require you to use some sense. Don’t punish your body anymore by filling it with junk. Be consciously aware of WHAT you’re eating and make it your goal to give your precious body ONLY the finest, highest quality foods. You’re worth it.
Strategy #10 – Laugh yourself thin!
I saved the best for last. This new wave of tackling weight issues is my favorite yet. It has been referred to as purposeful laughing, laughter therapy, and even laughtercising. Its purpose is to get you out of a depressive, anxious funk that might cause you to turn to food for comfort. Many people struggle with weight because they do emotional eating. Laughter therapy says the minute you feel like turning to food for comfort, instead, laugh like a lunatic as in big, loud guffaws!
Depression and anxiety are emotional and mental states. What is better than laughter to change your state of mind? This strategy has been used successfully by emotional eaters and here’s why. After a good hard laugh don’t we all feel more energetic, positive, and less burdened? Deliberate laughing can give you all of those same benefits and get you moving in a different direction. Researchers say laughter engages the muscles, oxygenates the blood, and both flexes and relaxes the body. There is also research that shows gleeful laughter to have similar benefits to moderate exercise.
The next time you start to feel emotionally out-of-control and want to head for the pantry, stand up and laugh yourself silly for 1-5 minutes. When you’re finished take those good feelings and think of something positive to do. Call a friend, go for a walk, or read a great book. Even if you’re a skeptic you MUST try this. If nothing else, life is a lot more fun when you’re laughing!
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