Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I Have A Confession To Make

I have a confession to make. I don't always feel like eating healthy. Well, I really do want to eat healthy because I love the way it makes me feel. But, the smell of a fresh apple fritter or the thought of a bowl of my favorite frozen yogurt (red velvet/chocolate/coconut-just can't choose one flavor) can send me straight to thinking "tomorrow I'll eat super clean to make up for it".

So then, how do you work these treats into your life, or is it better to never allow yourself to splurge on an 'unhealthy' treat?

Most experts are of the opinion that if you attempt to follow a plan that never allows you to have your favorite things you will fail.

One school of thought says to count your calories and work your treat into your total caloric intake. Even though they may not be nutritionally dense calories you are still staying within your daily requirement.

I came across another way of thinking in a book I was reading a book last week. The author suggests that you follow a very strict eating plan for six days, and then the seventh day is a 'binge' day, literally eating anything in any amount that you want.

He uses Saturday as his 'all you want to eat' day. He said that by making himself a little sick each Saturday he didn't want to look at junk food the rest of the week. He also believes that dramatically spiking your caloric intake in this way once a week increases fat-loss by ensuring that your metabolic rate doesn't downshift from extended caloric restriction.

Which if these methods have you tried? Was it successful?
Have you found another way that works for you?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

5 Ways to Keep Your Metabolism Up

You're eating healthier than ever, but your muscles feel flabby, your energy is sapped and your jeans feel increasingly snug, particularly in the belly, hips and rear.

The sad truth: Metabolic rate (the number of calories we burn in a day) plummets as we age, decreasing about 1 percent each year after we hit 30. But research shows there are things you can do to help combat metabolic slowdown.

"When our metabolisms slow down isn't just age-related," explains Christine Gerbstadt, M.D., registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "Body composition, which is determined by genetics, diet and activity, also plays a major role."

Read on for five ways to keep your fat-burning furnace humming.

1. Build muscle. Since fat is burned in your muscle, you want to activate as many muscle fibers as possible. Weight training increases lean muscle mass, which raises the amount of calories your body uses, even when you're at rest. What's more, since there's less fat in your body (and your muscles), blood moves better so you have more energy -- without eating more food. So if you haven't been incorporating strength training into your fitness routine, now is the time to start!

2. Start eating! "Your body is a 'refuel as it goes machine,' which simply means it needs to be consistently fed to provide energy to live," explains Mark MacDonald, author of the bestselling book Body Confidence. "This type of consistent feeding stabilizes your blood sugar levels and creates internal hormonal balance" -- and that keeps you from packing on the pounds. His advice: Eat within an hour of waking to kick-start your metabolism. Then keep eating every three to four hours ending an hour before bedtime.

3. Include protein in every meal and snack. Protein has a greater metabolic boost than fat or carbohydrates. Biting, chewing, swallowing and digesting food takes energy -- it's known as the thermic effect of food and it can burn up to 30 percent of the calories on your plate. The more complex the food (think steak, legumes and fibrous vegetables), the more calories you burn as it travels through the digestive tract. Protein also contains leucine, an amino acid that prevents muscle loss when you're dieting. A simple strategy: For a quick and easy snack, keep almonds in your purse, trail mix in your desk drawer and hard-boiled eggs in the fridge.

4. Get moving. Interval training with bursts of high intensity cardio will stoke your metabolic rate and keep it humming for hours. So instead of logging in your regular half-hour on the treadmill at a steady 4.5 mph pace, try the interval option or hit the road and take advantage of changes in the terrain. Run in the sand or up hills and use landmarks to signify a change of pace. And squeeze in extra calorie burning whenever you get the chance, advises Gerbstadt.

5. Drink water. Studies show that people who drink 8-ounce glasses of water eight to 12 times a day have higher metabolic rates than those who drink four. Want to lose an extra 6.6 pounds a year? Drink half a liter of water before breakfast. (And if it's ice water, even better; it will raise your metabolism immediately.) According to researchers at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., people who downed water before their first meal of the day consumed an average of 75 fewer calories at breakfast than those who didn't drink up first.

Will you incorporate one of these tips into your day? What other tips can you share to help others?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What Is Your Biggest Struggle While Pursuing Weight Loss and/or Physical Fitness?

There is only one point to this post and that is to ask a question and get YOUR feedback.


Is it planning meals? Knowing what to eat? working exercise into your busy schedule? Knowing how to exercise? Finding someone to follow your plan with you? Are you being sabotaged by someone? Do you struggle with motivation, eating late at night, or skipping meals and then overeating? Something completely different?

Please take a minute and share your comment. Feel free to forward this post to everyone you know who is in pursuit of weight loss, physical fitness or a balanced life. The more comments and opinions the better!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Attaining and Maintaining Good Health is a 3-Legged Stool

Attaining and maintaining good health is a 3-legged stool. The 3 legs are Balanced Diet, Regular Exercise and a Success Mindset. 

Before you say, "Yeah, yeah, I've heard it all", hear me out.

Good Health isn't about a diet you go on for six months (and then go off), it isn't depriving yourself of everything you like, it isn't torturing yourself with an exercise program that you hate because someone laid it out for you, and it isn't getting yourself geared up mentally to give up everything you love and follow some strange eating program for six weeks.

I regularly have people ask me how I lost 65 pounds. They are looking for the quick fix, the pill, the drink; something that they can go purchase that will magically make them lose weight. When I say "I ate less and moved more", they express disappointment and tell me that's not what they were hoping for. That seems like 'work' and no one wants to work for something that is so worthwhile (note sarcasm)!

Leg 1 - Balanced Diet means eating what your body needs and enjoying treats in moderation. It means finding healthier ways to prepare your favorite foods. In 2011 the USDA released a revised food pyramid. It is now a plate, divided into sections of food types and portions making up a balanced diet. 
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Fill up on these foods first, so when you get full you will have eaten the lowest calorie, highest nutrition foods first.
Make at least half your grains whole grains. Flour is not whole grain. If it is a whole grain food you can see the grain.
Don’t drink your calories! Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk for calcium and protein.
Avoid oversized portions. ENJOY YOUR FOOD BUT EAT LESS!! 

Leg 2 - Regular Exercise means MOVE more. You don't need to belong to a gym. I lost 65 pounds by walking. Walk inside on a treadmill or outside; doesn't matter where, just walk. Swim if you have a pool. If you are not a strong swimmer, walk in the pool. If you have joint or back issues, this is a great option. You will be surprised how much of a workout you can get by walking or running in the pool.

You can play tag with the kids, or get your friends together for a game of touch football. Get on your bike and ride, by yourself or with a friend or your family. If it's too hot or cold to ride to ride outdoors, purchase a "trainer" from a bike shop or sporting goods store which will allow you to ride your bike inside. Or use an exercise bike or elliptical machine. Put in a DVD of an exercise routine or dance exercise and let the kids ‘exercise’ along with you.

The choice of exercise is yours. What matters is that you DO SOMETHING to get you moving more! 

Leg 3 - Success Mindset: This is likely the most difficult, but without a doubt most important, factor in your quest to attain good health. Whatever you want to accomplish, it all starts in your mind.

So what is a success mindset? A mind-set is your predominant state of mind day to day. It is the things you think about; it is what you focus on, and what you expect from your daily experiences. For example, if you think negatively, expect the worst to happen, or feel pessimistic about your options, that is exactly what you will draw into your life. On the other hand, if you think positively, expect the best and focus on a successful outcome, you will draw that into your life.

You are creating YOUR reality all the time, whether you are conscious of it or not. The thoughts that you emit, the emotions that you feel, the attitudes you hold, and the beliefs you have are directly responsible for what you will bring into your life.

Too often we let our emotions and thoughts dictate our actions, rather than our actions dictating our emotions and thoughts.

The success mindset is simply the knowledge that YOU are creating your own reality all the time. It’s becoming aware of yourself so much that you are ALWAYS emitting the kind of thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that WILL attract success into your life.

It is our mind-set that ultimately determines whether we fail or succeed.

Decide what you want
Formulate a plan
Think optimistically
Ask for help
Learn all you can
Acknowledge your successes each day
Believe that you have what it takes
Begin each day reviewing your plan for success
Do your very best
Expect the best
Recognize that each day is a fresh start; be willing to get back up and try again.

We can all use new ideas to motivate and inspire us. What do YOU do that helps you eat less, exercise more or keep a success mindset? 

Frequently after I post, I receive personal messages from many of you through email and Facebook. While I really appreciate your comments, I'm the only one who benefits from those thoughts and opinions. I know everyone who reads this would appreciate hearing your opinions, struggles and ideas as well. Please do share your thoughts, ideas and opinions with a comment below!