I am often asked about what I do to stay on track during my health and fitness journey, so I decided to put together 10 tips that have worked for me. These are in no particular order, as I randomly chose a few for this blog with the hope to shed a little light on things and help to jump start you, if you are just starting out.
1. Regular cardio exercise and resistance training: Cardio is one of the most important things you can do in order to reach your weight loss goals. Team that up with 3 days of resistance training a week, to build lean muscle and you will be a fat burning machine in no time. The cardio exercises that burn the most calories and get you into shape the fastest are, running, bicycling, swimming, step aerobics and inevitably, jogging. If you are just getting into the fitness game, try some brisk walking or spend some time on the eliptical. (I started out by using the stationary bike 3 times a week for 30 mins a day and worked my way up)
*If you prefer a DVD based program contact me and I can help you select one that’s right for you.
2. Drink lots of water: Water actually increases your body’s ability to metabolize fat and greatly helps in shedding your first couple pounds also known as, water weight. It will also help to keep you hydrated and curb your appetite. (I am a huge water drinker and can easily consume a gallon or more per day)
3. Meditation/Yoga: People recommend it because it reduces stress, but why is stress a bad thing? Well, when you are stressed your body releases high levels of cortisol and this is not good. If you are a stressed out person (like me), try doing some yoga (there are different styles to choose from, so play around until you find one you like) or try some gentle stretching and breathing exercises. If yoga is not your thing, play music, dim the lights and just relax. Your body and mind will thank you.
*Going to bed at an early hour and making sure you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep will help, as well.
4. Eat more fruits and vegetables: You’ve heard this one a hundred times but, it’s that important. In a world full of processed foods it’s important to go back to basics and up your intake on whole foods. They will help you feel full and energized and your digestive track will thank you. Opt for leafy, green vegetables and aim for a rainbow of colors on your plate for maximum nutrients. (Limit fruit intake as they are higher in sugar)
5. Eat more protein: This is essential in weight loss. Especially if you want to keep the weight off, and I’m sure you do! Who wants those pounds coming back…right?! Protein takes longer to digest and as a result, keeps you feeling full, longer. Protein is also necessary for building lean muscle, which in turn will rev up your metabolism and burn more fat. Some recommended foods that are high in protein: nuts such as almonds, eggs, fish, low-fat yogurt and string cheese, lean meat and skim-milk.
6. Eat frequent, small meals: Forget the typical 3 meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner. You should eat 5-6 smaller healthy meals per day. This will help to keep your blood sugar steady, curb binging due to hunger and keep your metabolism fired up.
7. Eat your food slowly: Many people tend to gulp food down while on the run. Take your time and enjoy what you are eating. It takes about 15 minutes for your brain to register that you are full, so slowing down will save you calories.
8. Watch your portion sizes: In a society were everything is super-sized and all-you-can-eat, this is so important! Use smaller plates at meal time. This will help trick you eye into thinking you “ate a full plate”. Another downfall is snacking. Ever eat a whole bag of mini rice cakes in one sitting? We’re all guilty of it, and it’s not ok just because they are a low fat snack. When eating snacks like rice cakes, nuts, or dried fruit, put a portion in a small bowl and then put the bag away. That way you won’t mindlessly eat a larger portion than you had intended.
9. Think before you eat: Do not snack when you are bored. It’s a terrible habit that many people do without even realizing and it plays a huge part in obesity. Before you reach for a snack, ask yourself “Am I even hungry?” If you are not sure, have a glass of water. Many times people mistake dehydration for hunger.
10. BE CONSISTENT: This is the most important rule and I cannot stress it enough. Be consistent with your exercise and eating. We will all have good days and bad days but you have to be dedicated and work hard to see results. If you slip up on a meal, don’t view it as a failure and continue to eat poorly the rest of the day. Dust yourself and make the best of the rest of your meals THAT DAY. Same holds true for exercise, there will be days you miss a workout. No sweat! Next day, dig a little deeper, or add some bonus time to make up for it. I don’t want you to beat yourself up, sulk over it and miss the next day, too. There are no miracles on this journey. You didn’t gain your weight overnight, so don’t expect to lose it overnight.
Healthy weight loss can be achieved and maintained if you are consistent and continue with your healthy eating habits and exercise even after your weight loss goal has been reached. This is a new way of life….embrace it.
*Bonus tip: Journal! Keep a food log everyday so you can look back and see where you can improve your diet. I wrote a blog on this not too long ago and it has truly helped me the past two months. “If you bite it, you write it”