As I was writing this I realized that I could have made this the top 7 or 8 or 10 tips...I have a number of them. But I've narrowed it down to 5 things that you can do immediately that will NOT require you to make any major changes in your diet or exercise or lifestyle. The hope is that by following these five easy tips you will see immediate changes in how you feel (within a few days) and be motivated to make bigger changes in your diet and exercise program. If you are like me, you like to know why you are doing something. So after each tip I explain why it makes a difference or how it works on your body.
1) Drink a bottle of water every morning, first thing after waking up, before eating anything. I drink a 24oz bottle, you could start with 16oz if needed, but at least 16 oz. I keep several bottles in the fridge that I refill with filtered water from my kitchen sink so I always have cold water available. I take my vitamins and supplements right then. Sometimes I drink it quickly (10 min), sometimes I carry it around with me and take 20 – 30 minutes to finish it. But don’t eat anything until you have finished that bottle of water.
WHY: Breakfast is exactly that – Break Fast. Your body has been on a fast and has had no fluids for at least 8 hours, likely longer. Your cells and organs need to be rehydrated. Hydrating your body wakes it up and you’re your metabolism going. Often when our body is thirsty we mistake it for hunger, and we eat in an effort to satisfy the thirst. Hydrating will help keep you from eating more than your body needs.
2) After drinking your bottle of water, make the first food you eat fruit. Any kind of fruit that you like. I eat whatever is in season that I am able to grow or purchase inexpensively. Eating healthy does NOT have to cost more (we’ll address that in another post). Right now oranges and grapefruits are ripe on the trees in Arizona. I put them on the cutting board like an onion. Cut the rind off and cut them into sections and put them in a bowl it takes 30-45 seconds to skin and section a citrus fruit. (If you’re not sure how to do it let me know. Maybe I will do a separate post with pictures of the steps.) The key here is making the fruit ready and accessible for you. If you have to take time to peel and separate, you will likely grab for something easier…I know I will. I like mixing grapefruit (both pink and white) with oranges, tangerines, or whatever I have. When mixing them, the sweet overrides any sour that might come from a grapefruit. The taste is wonderful and the juice that collects in the bowl is amazing. I cut up a large bowl to keep in the fridge so I don’t have to take any prep time in the morning. Other things I cut into a large bowl are cantaloupe, watermelon (mixed or by itself) & pineapple (definitely by itself). I also really like berries of any kind in the morning. You might choose to have an apple, peach, pear…any fruit that you like is good.
WHY: Our body gets energy from carbohydrates. Fruit is carbs. Despite what you may have heard about carbs being bad, it’s not carbs in general that are bad it’s certain types of carbs that are bad. If the body draws energy from carbs, then we need to eat carbs. The key is eating the type of carbs that can be completely converted to energy, not the type that weighs us down, makes us feel sluggish and converts to fat. When you eat fruit before eating anything else, the body immediately converts it to energy and jump starts your day.
3) Cut out ALL soda/pop/soft drinks (whatever you call it) from your diet. (This may be the most difficult change for some of you, but one of the most important.)
WHY: Soda is truly worthless to your body; you are taking in calories with absolutely no nutritional value. Sugary sodas filled with high-fructose corn syrup have been linked to obesity & diabetes. Diet sodas with artificial sweetener actually INCREASE your appetite! But what you may not know is that the carbonation in soda (whether regular or diet) makes it very difficult to lose weight; it actually encourages your body to hang on to its fat stores. Not to mention the fact that soda weakens your bones and damages your major organs.
4) Go to bed hungry; stop eating 3-4 hours before going to bed. It is our nature not to deprive ourselves, so as soon as we feel the slightest hunger we want to satisfy it. We should eat carbs (energy) EARLY in the day and protein and vegetables (recovery and building) LATER in the day. So, to make this even more effective, eat only protein and veggies for dinner. But whatever you eat, stop eating 3-4 hours before you go to bed so you can go to bed on an empty stomach.
WHY: The purpose of sleep is for the body to repair, rest, and re-energize. When you go to bed with a full stomach, your body has to work all night processing and digesting food instead of being able to relax rest and repair for the next day. You will awaken not as well rested as you should/could be. Ever wonder why you don’t have much energy during the day? This one tip will help you to get better rest so you feel more energized. (An exercise plan is much easier to stick to when you are rested and energetic.) Another important reason is this: When your stomach is empty your body turns to fat stores for energy. While you are sleeping, your body still requires calories to function. It will be drawing those calories/energy from fat stored as opposed to food you recently put into your stomach. If I go to bed with my stomach growling, I am always down on the scale the next morning.
5) Get enough sleep each night. Every person is different here, but usually it is 7-8 hours of sleep that the body requires to function at its very best. You may be able to ‘get by’ on six hours, but for peak function, that’s not enough. If you don’t know how much sleep your body requires to function at its very best, here’s how you can find out. Go to bed between 9-11PM and don’t set the alarm for the morning. Allow your body to wake up when it is ready. Do this 3-4 days in a row. It will take a few days for your body to recognize that you are allowing it to get ‘what it needs’ and take it. Each morning write down exactly how long you slept. It’s important that you go to sleep around the same time each night. After several days you will see exactly how long your body wants to sleep when you let it set its own schedule. For me it is 8 hours 15 min. That is my perfect night’s sleep; I feel great and energetic, and my body functions at its very best.
WHY: When you have not had enough sleep and you feel tired during the day you will find yourself constantly eating. Your mind and body know that you get energy from food, so if you are lacking energy the obvious thing is to eat in an effort to get some energy. Funny thing is, eating doesn’t give you energy. It will only make you feel bogged down and worse. The energy that your body needs can only come from rest. You will take in many more calories than you need and you will feel like you have absolutely no self control or restraint. Really, it has nothing to do with your commitment to eating a healthy diet; it’s just your body trying desperately to get energy. In addition, without enough sleep you body tends to retain fluid making you feel bloated and sluggish. It is scientifically proven that not getting enough sleep inhibits your ability to lose weight.
Again, the hope is that by following these five easy tips you will see changes within a few days in how you feel and be motivated to make bigger changes in your diet and exercise program.