1. Eat More Food: The focus here is to ensure that you keep your blood sugar levels stable. When you eat less than is otherwise required to maintain your basal metabolism, your body is fooled into thinking that its starving and will hold on to all of that extra weight. Also, when you skip meals or don’t eat enough at mealtime, you take a huge risk in that you may quickly become famished which can cause binging. With regularity, eat the right types of foods at the right times during the day.
2. Drink More Water: As mentioned in a previous post, water is essential to health. You can eat the healthiest foods possible, but if you don’t drink enough clean water, then your body’s metabolism slows. The liver will turn its attention to water retention instead of utilizing water to help burn fat for fuel and energy. The goal is to drink 3 liters of water every day and for every caffeinated or alcoholic beverage, accompany with another 8 ounces of water. No…gatorade and other “sports drinks” DO NOT COUNT.
3.Get moving: If you are new to exercise or haven’t regularly exercised in a long time, start simple. You don’t have to get a gym membership at $100.00 a month or anything to the like. Begin by walking: walk around the block, then walk around the neighborhood. Try to take a brisk 30 minute walk after dinner, every single day. If it’s too cold or hot outside, try to go in the AM before you start your day (according to many fitness experts, this is typically the best time to work out). When you feel ready, upgrade your workout routine by incorporating resistance movements, yoga or pilates. Take a fun workout class and meet other people who are focused on staying healthy and strong, just like you!
4. Chew Slowly: Did you know that upon your first bite of food, it takes the brain a full 20 minutes to start signaling feelings of fullness? That’s right – your brain tells you when you’re full, not your stomach. Slow it down and take small bites of food. Make sure to chew thoroughly as the digestive process actually begins in the mouth. The more effectively you chew your food, the better your body will be able to assimilate the various nutrients.
5. Don’t Shop When Hungry: We’ve all done this, right? When you’re hungry everything in the store looks good and food items you may not likely purchase become even more tempting; potato chips, crackers, cookies, soda, etc. Plan your shopping trips…don’t go on a whim. Write out a list -yes, a list, and make sure that your budget meets the 80/20 rule. Never invest more than 20% of your budget on processed foods and ultimately, avoid them as much as possible.
6. Eat Raw: We just discussed this concept in my post on vegetables and fruits. Here’s a good rule to follow, every time you eat something cooked, like a piece of chicken or fish, eat something raw with it, like a nice green salad. Raw foods provide us with a number of food enzymes which are critical to proper digestion and a catalyst for overall weight management.
7. Eat Breakfast: Yes…every day. We have fallen into a horrible habit of chugging down mass loads of caffeine in the morning which ultimately offers a quick boost of energy, but in the end, provide no long-lasting energy, nor the nutrients, which we could otherwise get from eating a solid breakfast! Grandma was right – breakfast is the most important meal of the day! A quick word on fruit juices. Rather than drinking fruit juice, which is mostly fruit sugar minus the fiber, fruit blend. You would be amazed as to how many variations of the fruit smoothie you can come up with. Oh, and by the way, kids love making smoothies- something about putting food in a blender and watching it get chopped up! And no, you do not put vanilla ice cream in your fruit smoothie (someone actually asked me that once). I also suggest you make your own versus paying the $5 or $6 you would otherwise by heading to the local smoothie cafe!
8. Get More Sleep: There are a number of medical and psychological reasons as to why some folks simply can’t get enough sleep. However, it is absolutely critical to get between 7-8 hours of sleep every night. When you’re sleeping, the body is detoxing from a long day of stress and hard work. I suggest you turn off all sensory stimulating activities an hour before bed which includes video games, surfing the net and even TV. I don’t have a TV in my bedroom for this very reason. Also, when it’s time for bed, turn off the lights! Not unlike most living organisms in the world, our bodies run on what is called the circadian rhythm. We sleep at night and wake during the day. Our bodies naturally respond to the presence of light, which triggers a series of hormonal exchanges signaling to the brain that it’s time to wake up. When you sleep with a lot of light surrounding you, the hormones responsible for sleep regulation are disrupted. Being tired not only affects your metabolism, but also affects your ability to make sound food choices.
9. Eat Regularly: Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Spread each meal out by about 5 hours. Irregular eating habits can cause bloating and can throw off your blood sugar – remember that you need to stabilize your blood sugar levels to avoid weight gain. Another brief note, eat dinner before 7:00 PM. Eating late at night interferes with your metabolism and can cause you to feel sluggish and bloated the next day.
10. Stop Counting Calories: Yes, I said it. You may be able to lose weight if you count calories for every morsel that goes into your mouth, but let’s get real. Who does this, really? I do believe that you need to educate yourself on all of the various food types and in part, understand overall caloric makeup. We know that a piece of chocolate cake is more calorically dense than say, a handful of strawberries. Obviously, strawberries would be a better dessert choice. There are some foods, however, which have a wonderful, diverse nutrient profile offering a number of health benefits, but are also high in calories. As an example, nuts are high in calories at about 140-160 calories per serving. Well, a can of regular Coke is 150 calories and is nothing but pure sugar and HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) at that! Which do you feel is the wiser choice? The goal is to focus on foods that perpetuate health versus compromise it. Start with whole foods: fill your grocery cart with colorful produce, complex whole grains like brown rice and quinoa, dry beans and raw nuts and natural nut butters. If you eat meat, make sure to select lean cuts only and pick up a few unfarmed fish filets like salmon or tuna. With minimal exception, your cart should be devoid of white bread, cookies, crackers, cereal, sugared yogurt, potato chips, corn chips, granola bars, canned soups, etc. If you stick to the 80/20 rule versus counting every calorie that goes in your mouth, you will begin dropping those extra pounds immediately.
Don’t become overwhlemed. Remember that this is a journey and that change never occurs overnight – not long-lasting change anyway. Focus on implimenting 1 to 2 changes a week based upon what you feel to be your greatest challenge(s). Lastly but very importantly, remember to Nourish yourself with good friends and loved ones who encourage and support you along the journey!