It’s that time of year. Whether you’ve made resolutions, goals, or mustered up the most determination you can…you’ve made the decision to get in better shape this year and take better care of yourself. That’s awesome, hurray for you!
The next step is to decide your plan of attack. It’s rather like alligators in the swamp, if you’re not careful you’ll get devoured by the latest trend or fad diet and end up in worse shape then when you started. That is most likely not your goal.
Improving your health and losing weight is still something that requires common sense and above all, consistency. Nothing has changed. You can’t eat junk food (pizza, burgers, chips, sodas) or consume desserts daily and expect to lost weight and improve your health.
If you want to reach your goals your first decision is to commit to changing your lifestyle. Going on a diet, losing weight and returning to your old ways is pointless. You’ll end up gaining back more weight than you had before you started. To be successful you’ve got to commit to making adjustments that you’ll keep around for a lifetime. Your mindset and attitude will determine your success or failure. Do you want to feel you’re deprived, or feel great and love the way you look? Here’s a few to get you started.
1. Eat breakfast
Many people have convinced themselves that they can’t eat in the morning and are surprised to find out how easy it is to change this habit. And how much better they feel. Include:
- Lean protein (hard-boiled eggs, turkey bacon)
- Whole grains (oatmeal, or whole-grain cereal)
- Fruit that’s low in sugar (berries are the best for this)
2. Eat every 3-4 hours
One of the big things that will knock you off track is going too long between meals and snacks. Your blood sugar gets low and when you do eat, you inhale anything that isn’t nailed down. Carry snacks with you if you’re out running around. A mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack are great to keep you in balance and keep your metabolism going.
- 15 almonds and some turkey slices
- Protein shake made with almond milk (it’s easy to make and carry with you)
- Apple, carrot or celery slice with almond butter
3. Embrace whole foods
This is the best way to improve your health and lose weight. The better the quality of food you eat, the more your body will crave real, whole food. Embrace whole grains that offer extraordinary health benefits and help to eliminate cravings. Substitute brown things for white things and observe how much different you feel. Include these in your whole food menus:
- Broiled or baked fish, chicken or turkey (tempeh or tofu for vegetarians and vegans)
- Wild rice, quinoa, millet, spinach, artichoke or whole wheat pasta
- Raw almonds, walnuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds
- Vegetables! Steam, roast or stir fried with olive oil
4. Include health fats with your meals
This is one that is often missed when someone decides to “go on a diet.” Your body needs healthy fat to function. Be sure to include:
- Olive Oil
- Essential Fatty Acids with Omegas (can be added to salads, grains and vegetables)
5. Use portion control vs counting calories
All you need to know is that a portion is the size of your fist, or the palm of your hand. Have one portion of protein, vegetable, complex carbs and include healthy fat at each meal.
6. Make water your best friend
When you’re dehydrated your body holds water and you won’t lose weight. Your body needs water every day, all day. Drink 6-8 glasses to keep hydrated and flush out the toxins. I prefer ionized alkaline water as it balances out the acidity of the diet and lifestyle and provides a huge boost of antioxidants.
7. Get 7-8 hours of sleep
This is another critical piece to improving your health and losing weight. If you aren’t sleeping enough you won’t have the energy to make the right choices, you won’t feel like working out, and your body will miss the opportunity to do its routine maintenance while you sleep at night. You get run down, weaken your immune system…and well you know the rest.
8. Read labels!
This is critical to your success. As suggested above, eat as many whole foods as possible, but if you buy canned, frozen or boxed foods take the time to READ the label and know what you will be consuming. If you can’t pronounce it, or if it ends in “ose” it isn’t the type of fuel your body wants.
9. Move your body and energy
If you want to improve your quality of life your muscles and organs would like to join in the party. Your heart needs cardio exercise, your bones and muscles will benefit from resistance work. If you haven’t been exercising start with:
- Walking 10 minutes and work up to 30 a day (on a treadmill if it’s too cold – no excuses). It’s a great time to take Fido out and enjoy the fresh air. Do NOT talk on your phone or text while walking. This is time to concentrate on you.
- Attend a yoga or tai chi class, or get a DVD and do it at home. This will help you move energy, release the emotional baggage and stress you’re carrying around in your body.
- Find resistance exercises you enjoy and will stick with. Whether at the gym or home. Weights and resistance bands will shape and tone you. And muscle aids in fat burning.
10. Adopt a FREE Day
I learned and adopted this philosophy from Bill Phillips back when I did two Body-for-Life Challenges. This is part of the lifestyle change you can follow. It’s a great way to manage the process and allows you to have things that aren’t part of your daily healthy game plan.
Once day a week have whatever you want. Pizza, burger, ice cream…but plan it and keep it to one day. You’ll quickly notice that you like it better when you don’t have the thud of fatty, simple carbs in your belly. Most people quickly adopt a FREE meal a week vs. the whole day. This will help you manage your new lifestyle for a lifetime. And make the effort worth it.
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