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Lose Weight and Keep It Off for a Lifetime!
We live in a generation of chronic dieters. Whether it’s Atkins, South Beach, the Cabbage Soup Diet or The Zone, most fad diets are set up to deprive you of one or more food groups to get the desired result.
What dieters are finding is a short-term solution to a long-term problem followed by an INCREASE in their weight due to fluctuations in their metabolism. Not the desired result originally promised! Most people at some point in their lives have tried a diet that failed. I would like to share with you 10 simple rules to feel good, stop ‘diet’ and lose weight forever!
1. Make sure you stay properly hydrated! Your body needs water whether you are sedentary, active or just need to transport and eliminate toxins. As a healthy rule of thumb, an adult should drink 8-10 (250ml/8oz) glasses of water per day. Water is your friend. It keeps your organs functioning properly and helps push food through your body, as well as plump up those wrinkles. Have you ever noticed that dehydrated people have more wrinkles? Water is also what keeps your skin clean. Since our skin is our largest organ, it is constantly removing toxins and much of this happens through our skin when we sweat etc.
2. Know how much protein your body requires to prevent muscle loss. You need as much protein per day as your lean muscle mass. This number is calculated by first finding your body fat percentage. So if you are 200lbs and have 20% body fat, then 40lbs is fat and 160lbs is lean muscle. Thus, you would need up to 160 grams of protein per day. I myself need 110 grams and can get it easily through eggs, chicken, red meats, nuts, dairy products and protein powder supplements. I eat 5 times a day so I only need 22 grams per sitting. Your body can only digest about 30-40 grams of protein in one sitting anyway. The key is consistency, if you don’t eat protein all week and take a day to eat a huge 14oz steak and snack on pepper sticks then you will have excess protein at one time . That steak would probably be around 60 grams of protein and unfortunately some would be stored as fat as it is excess. Our muscles need protein to repair and rebuild, especially after a workout. If we don’t get it, our muscle tissue will feed on itself otherwise known as muscle catabolism.
3. Find out how many carbohydrates your body needs for energy. Your body definitely needs carbohydrates for fuel, otherwise you would not have the proper energy levels and would feel tired all the time. Likewise, you can go overboard on carbohydrates as well. If you eat a plate of pasta that equals 2 cups and then add a side of bread and a glass of milk, your body will store much of this as fat. Try using the suggested serving sizes on cereal boxes, etc. When they say ¾ cup, just eat that! As North Americans, we have a tendency to eat outside of our recommendations for proper portion sizes. This has gotten many into trouble. So when people avoid carbs altogether it’s out of fear of what sugar is doing in their body, however it’s not the food itself, it’s the amount they’re consuming. Try eating quality carbohydrates that slow down the insulin response instead of eating simple sugars or simple carbohydrates that have energy for about an hour, then fail. We are not marathon runners. We don’t need to load up on carbs. Some quality carbs include: brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, wheat crackers, and greens! Fruits and vegetables also contain carbohydrates, not just grains. Take a fruit like strawberries instead of a banana as the sugar content is high. Why not fill up on green, yellow, red peppers, carrots, celery, lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers, cauliflower, beans, mushrooms and onions!
4. How much should you train? Some say 3 times a week for 30 minutes. This is really not enough. If you want to see results and keep what you’ve been losing at bay, 4-5 days is where you need to be with a full day to rest. As long as you rotate the body parts you train, you’ll be giving them time to properly rest, heal, and rebuild. I would suggest doing the same amount of cardio days as you do weight training. For example, you might do 45 minutes of cardio on Mondays and Thursdays. You can therefore weight train on Wednesdays and Saturdays if you train 4 times a week.
5. Have measurable goals. As with anything in life, to be successful you need to create goals. Having a desired outcome is helpful but it won’t help you plan your days if it’s too broad. If your goal is to lose 15lbs in 5 months, you can break that down into 3lbs per month which is very doable. Maybe it’s to fit into your size 5 jeans and you’re currently a size 7 now. I recommend the clothes method over using the scale because as we gain muscle and lose fat, our weight can often feel the same even though we are actually gaining muscle which will burn more fat. Muscle is 3 times heavier than fat. This is often why some of our friends may be lighter than the scales, this usually indicates that they also have little muscle mass. It’s our composition of our weight that matters, so using clothing as a guide can be your best asset here.
6. Create realistic expectations! For example, a realistic expectation for safe and progressive weight loss is 1.5-2 pounds per week. If you think you can lose 5 pounds a week because your goal is to lose 20 pounds by next month’s high school reunion, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and if you achieve it through unhealthy means, you can guarantee you’ll get it back and then some! When we lose weight dramatically, it damages our body’s regulatory system, our metabolism, and the constant weight gain and loss creates ugly stretch marks too! The key is to be patient and remember that it took months, if not years, to get to your current weight, so why expect to lose it all in a few weeks? Be realistic and the results will come!
7. Don’t deprive yourself! I use a 6 day 1 day off approach which means I work out 6 days a week and eat healthy meals and portions, and set aside a full day to be lazy if I like and eat whatever I want all day. Not only does this approach allow me to feel a sense of reward at the end of the week for all my hard work, but it also keeps me satisfied, not deprived. An added bonus is that I only do this once a week, my body recognizes that the unhealthy junk doesn’t belong and kicks it into gear to get it out of my body and burn those calories.
8. Know your portion sizes. Palm size is the recommended size for meats and proteins. One cup is more than enough for pasta. Add your sauce on top in the amount of about ½ cup. Drink sizes should be 1 cup at a time. I am amazed to see kids walking around with sugary drinks like big sips which equals 6 cups!! This is one reason why our children are obese and hyperactive. If you’re drinking water, you can drink as much as you like. Add some cucumber slices or lemon wedges to add some flavor to the water!
9. Exercise is essential! You can’t lose weight by cutting out junk food and eating less on your own. Exercise is an important part of maintaining weight and building a strong heart and muscles! Likewise you can’t just exercise and keep eating whatever you want, you won’t see the results you want. If your goal is to lose weight, when you exercise you will want to eat healthy otherwise all your hard work will feel like a waste of time.
10. Eliminate the sugar! Two of the biggest killers and main reasons people gain weight are due to these 2 things: sugar and salt. Excess sugar (and 90% of consumers consume it in excess) is stored as fat in the body. When we eat a candy bar or soda, we’re consuming far more sugar than we need to survive. Our insulin level rises and so we get our energy spurt of about 1 hour only to fall back to our slow after that time. This is a deadly cycle. Worst of all, sugar comes in many forms, so don’t let ingredient labels fool you. A good indication of how much sugar resides in our food is to look at the label. If it appears near the top of the ingredient list, it’s best to pass on those items. They can be found in the following formats: fructose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, raw sugar, brown sugar, brown sugar, and so on. You can also look under the word “sugars” on the label for the contents as well. Watch out for the silent killer as he sweeps the nation and is a leading contributor to diabetes!
11. Say no to salt! Salt will cause you to retain water, feel bloated and raise your blood pressure. All of these are dangerous and totally avoidable. When you eat any food, taste it first! Most people add salt out of a bad habit of assuming that food will be bland. If you have to use it sparingly in a recipe, use a very small pinch of sea salt, this goes a long way. Get started today and eliminate salt from your diet. Out of sight, out of mind was the motto in my house growing up: Take the salt out of the house and you won’t be tempted nor will you be able to use it. Like sugar, salt can be added to our food. Look at the labels under sodium for what percentage of the food is salt! After all, salt is simply sodium chloride. Also, look again for sodium derivatives, salt itself, and the dreaded monosodium glutamate (MSG). I will warn you that Chinese restaurants are full of MSG, so ask first. MSG adds flavor to food and tenderizes meats as well as making you thirsty, so you’ll be buying more drinks.
12. Stay busy! Usually the first 4 weeks on any program are tough. It can be more daunting on a realistic plan because you won’t see the immediate weight loss. If you hang in there and stay committed, rest assured the results will follow. Most Americans simply lack patience and want everything right away. We live in a society that wants fast food, fast banking, and it can be easy to get caught up in it. Know that what you are doing for yourself is much greater than what other “dieters” are doing. You will lose weight and keep it off and feel great about losing it the right way. So while your friends’ quick-fix results have come and gone and they’ve gained 10 pounds more than they started with, you’ll overcome their strategic leaps and bounds and have more energy and inner peace.
**Remember that for changes to be effective, they must be realistic and sustainable. Trust me when I say there is no quick fix!
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