Losing weight is on the top of many New Year’s goals and resolution lists. While I would love to lose five or so pounds, my main goal right now is pushing my athletic ability while training for a triathlon. I no longer want to be thin, per se′. I want to be fit and strong. But for many years, I did want to be thin and even now, I can’t just eat whatever I want to. I’ve always had to somewhat watch the way I diet and because of that, I’ve learned a lot about nutrition during my adult years.
Over time, I’ve learned some simple tricks and strategies that help me shed weight quickly and in a healthy way. Everyone’s body is different, but the tips I offer on the blog today work for all human bodies and make staying healthy and fit a more achievable task.
1). Interval training:
If your excuse not to exercise is lack of time, try interval training which is an insanely great exercise regimen and takes less time than going on a long run or taking a spin class. What is interval training? It’s where a person alternates between aerobic and anaerobic activity. For instance, you may do 30 jumping jacks, 10 push-ups, 20 mountain climbers, hold plank for 30 seconds, 10 burpees, shoulder presses, then repeat. An interval training session can even be as brief as SEVEN minutes to boost metabolism. There are apps, blog posts, websites and You Tube videos galore to help you find an interval training routine to fit your lifestyle and skill level. I do interval workouts all the time at home. I have very limited equipment (an exercise mat, an exercise ball and a set of 10lb bar bells), and if I’m out of town, I’ve completed great interval workouts with no equipment at all. Your own body weight is really all that’s needed to complete a solid interval workout. If you are one who likes to walk during your lunch hour, stop after every five minutes of brisk walking and do squats, lunges or tricep dips on a bench or chair. A short interval workout is always possible and remember, any type of workout is better than no workout at all.
2). More water, less soda:
I haven’t drank soda in probably 15 years, and it’s something I’ve never missed. I always, always have a water bottle with me. I love water so it’s not hard for me to drink it throughout the day, but I know some people just don’t like the taste of water. Consider squeezing lemon or lime in your water to make it taste better. Some folks even put “drink water” on their daily to-do list. If that would help you, go for it! Eating water-based foods is also helpful. Some of these include red cabbage, peppers, spinach, broccoli, watermelon, cauliflower, strawberries, celery, cucumber and oranges. However you go about it, remember that staying hydrated supports every system in the body. And if you’re one who needs scientific evidence, listen to this: Your body is approximately 60 percent water; your brain is 70 percent water, and your lungs are almost 90 percent water. On a daily basis, for optimal health, your body must replace 2.4 liters — or about 2.5 quarts of water — through ingested liquid and foods.
3). Adequate sleep (7-8 hours):
Put simply, good sleep heals and restores the body. Not only does sleep support cognitive functioning, muscle repair and mood, but adequate sleep can also help you lose weight. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that people ate nearly 300 fewer calories per day when they were well-rested. When you skip quality hours of sleep, your body makes more ghrelin and less leptin. Ghrelin is a hunger hormone, and leptin is a hormone that tells you when you’re full. In my mind, it’s a clear correlation. And from a logistical standpoint, the longer you stay awake at night, the more hours you have to snack. Too many hours to snack is not a good thing.
4). More protein, less carbs/sugar:
After the Atkins craze, Paleo diet, 21-day fix, Whole 30, etc., this one should be a no-brainer. Any program or eating system that promotes weight loss includes a high protein/low carb eating routine. I have seen this time and time again during my life. If I gain a few pounds or my jeans get snug, I simply cut way back on carbs such as pasta, bread, beer and pizza and up my intake of complex carbs, protein and whole foods (lean meat, raw veggies, hummus, fruit, cheese, eggs, nuts, etc.), and I lose five pounds quickly. Simple sugars are even worse than foods like whole wheat bread and pasta. At least with whole wheat carbs, a person gains fiber and some other nutrients. Simple sugars like those in cookies, soda and candy are just terrible. Our bodies have no use for them.
5). No late-night snacking:
If you are eating enough protein and complex carbs throughout the day, you shouldn’t be hungry before bed. But if you do feel hunger pains later at night, eating before bed is not the problem, unless your evening snack routine puts your daily caloric into the excessive range. In fact, if you choose the right evening snack, it can actually aid in weight loss by boosting metabolism and moderating your blood sugar levels. But you have to be very particular about what you eat. While protein is great to eat throughout the day, it can actually disrupt sleep. The best evening snacks are made up of good fats and good carbs, so some suggestions would be raw carrots and guacamole, apple slices and almond butter, or heavy cream mixed with fresh berries.
6). Detox sessions:
Whether it’s from wine, gluten, dairy or wheat, it’s helpful to detox periodically. A detox doesn’t have to be a long, torturous process; it can simply be a three-day cleanse. I’ve done juice cleanses before and I’ve also completed a whole foods/water cleanse. The latter is more simple and less expensive, although I do love a good juice cleanse every now and then. For a whole foods/water cleanse, you simply eat only whole, raw foods and drink a lot of water. For this, I typically make an enormous pot of vegetable soup (using fresh vegetables) and eat as much as of it as I want along with nuts, raw veggies and fruit. Periodic detoxing offers a number of benefits, including removing toxins from the body, preventing chronic disease, enhancing immune system function, losing weight, slowing premature aging, increasing energy, improving skin quality, restoring balance to bodily systems and enhancing mental clarity.
Often times, people eat because they are stressed or depressed. A daily mindfulness practice can help you stay positive which in turn helps you make better food choices and refrain from emotional eating. Mindfulness is the act of being in the moment and using all senses to take in the experiences of life. I tend to overlook this tip because I’m always anxious to jump on my laptop or get going with the day, but recently, I’ve gone back to quiet time in the morning before opening up my computer. I already feel better. Whether it’s mediation, prayer, yoga, or simply sitting still and looking around you focusing on each and every thing you see. All these practices promote a sense of well-being which in turn will assist in weight loss and being fit.
Good luck, my friends. I don’t offer tips unless I know they work. These seven strategies have changed my life time and time again. When I begin to feel sluggish, unhealthy, depressed or exhausted, I follow the above regimen and my quality of life improves. If all of this seems overwhelming, do one thing at a time. And remember, a habit is formed in 21 days. Turn these tips into habits and become a better, recharged version of yourself.
Here’s to the healthiest, happiest year yet!