Just a Little Bit Better…1% at a Time

DSC_6974-EditI recently learned about Dave Brailsford and his concept of “aggregation marginal gains.”  Please don’t stop reading.  It is actually a simple concept.  Dave Brailsford is the General Manager and Performance Director for Team Sky (Great Britian’s professional cycling team) and he used this idea to create a Tour de France winner within three years.  No cyclist from Great Britian had ever won before.

This is how he did it.

Brailsford broke down everything related to cycling and set about improving each part just 1%.  He included the obvious things like conditioning and diet.  But he also included the less obvious things like pillows for sleeping and proper hand washing.  He believed the sum of these small improvements would make a big impact.  He was right.

I was struck by this concept because on the occasions that I do go about trying to improve myself, I believe I employ a similar strategy.  Not because I possess the foresight and intentionality of Brailsford, no, it’s really because I’m a little lazy.  I prefer small projects to large.  I do better making tiny changes than sweeping resolutions.

But too often these days, I seem to be paralyzed because the “Need to Do” list in my life is filled with projects seemingly too big to take on.  My closet is a disorganized mess of shoes, purses, jewelry and clothes, most of which I don’t wear.  My make-up drawer is bursting with unused cosmetics.  I have to run a 5k in a month and currently can only run a mile.  I don’t have enough time to make dinner so I serve hot dogs.  And too many nights I give in to my wish for “just one glass” of wine.

So this concept got me thinking.  Could I one percent my life?

What if I spent 1% longer on cardio?  What if I increased the intensity or incline on the treadmill by 1%?  Or lifted 1% heavier weights?  Imagine if I ate 1% fewer calories?  Saved 1% more of my paycheck?  Spent 1% less?  What would happen if I was 1% sweeter to my husband, 1% more patient with my kids?  Spent 1% less time watching Real Housewives and 1% more time writing?

How would these changes change me?

Could I do it…just a little bit at a time?

I aim to find out.

Due to a perfect storm of inspiration and a two month summer break on the horizon, I have finally made the leap I’ve long considered.  I’m starting my own blog:  Just a Little Bit.  I plan to write about fitness, diet, parenting, organizing, beauty products and more.  All of the things I spend my time thinking about and trying to improve.

I hope you’ll visit me often and share how you are improving your world…just a little bit each day.

 

3 Best Tips for Aerobic Exercise

 

Aerobic exercise, also called cardiorespiratory or cardiovascular fitness, is a good measure of the heart’s ability to pump oxygenated blood throughout the muscles. Oxygenated blood carries the nutrients the body needs to function effectively. A healthy heart can pump great volumes of oxygenated blood with each beat and will have a high level of cardiovascular fitness.

Jeff AngelHeart disease is directly associated with the cardiorespiratory and cardiovascular systems. One of the primary signs of heart and lung diseases include becoming winded with mild exertion. Individuals with heart or lung disease often become fatigued when performing day to day tasks that most of us take for granted. Aerobic exercise can help increase the body’s utilization of oxygenated blood pumping throughout the body, thus making our bodies stronger and more efficient performing everyday activities.

I’m often asked what are the most important tips I can give for aerobic conditioning. I find myself continuously telling clients and friends three very important factors that will help to improve one’s cardiovascular health. These factors include: know your target heart rate zone, know your intensity level, and be consistent.

1. Know your target heart rate zone.

Your target heart rate zone is the number of beats per minute (bpm) at which your heart should be beating during aerobic exercise in order to promote optimal fitness levels, improving cardiovascular conditioning, and reducing body fat percentages. For most healthy individuals, this range is 60-85% of the maximal heart rate.

Target Heart Rate Calculator

Measuring your heart rate while exercising can be done through two methods. Wearing a heart rate monitor is the easiest and most accurate method of checking your heart rate. A heart rate monitor can be purchased at any sporting goods supplier and ranges from $40 to $200. The least expensive are very accurate and will only display your heart rate. The moderately and highly priced monitors offer a stop watch, warning sounds if your heart rate is too high or too low, standard clock, and many other features.

The second method for monitoring your heart rate is by checking your pulse on your radial artery. The radial pulse can be found on the under side of your wrist using your index and middle fingers held together. Once located, count the number of beats for 15 seconds and multiply that number by 4. This will give you your beats per minute. To be more accurate, count the number of beats in 60 seconds. Both methods are acceptable for determining your heart rate.

2. Know your intensity level.

Once you have determined your beats per minute (within 5 minutes of aerobic exercise), you must ask yourself a few questions:

  • At this intensity, am I in my target heart rate zone? If not, make adjustments accordingly:
    • Above zone, decrease speed or rpms (or incline)
    • Below zone, increase speed or rpms (or incline)
  • How do I feel?
  • Can I maintain this pace for at least 30 minutes?
  • Can I push myself to the upper limits of my target heart rate zone?
  • If so, how long will I hold that upper limit?

Be aware of how your body feels and how you are breathing. If you cannot hold a conversation with someone without catching your breath, you may be going at too fast of a pace. This is what we call the “talk test”.

Intensity levels can vary from person to person and by goals wanting to be reached. Please click here to view the 5 types of training zones which represent low to high intensity levels for cardio conditioning. These training zones will give you an idea of where you should be training for your individual goals.

3. Be consistent.

Consistency is the key when trying to lose weight and body fat. You must stay on your training program and maintain healthy eating habits until you reach your goal weight. Cardiovascular exercise should be done at least 3 days per week for minimal positive aerobic enhancement and reduction of body fat stores. For maximum results, intermediate and advanced trainees should be doing 5-6 days of cardiovascular conditioning per week, for a minimum of 20 minutes and not more than 60 minutes. Exercise modes include any activity (walking, jogging, inline skating, swimming, biking, etc.) that will get your heart rate up into your target heart rate zone.

Know your zone, know your intensity, and be consistent. I believe these 3 tips are most important in improving your aerobic capacity and will help you to lose unwanted weight. Keeping your heart strong is most important in building and maintaining a healthy body.

The Magic Pill for Weight Loss Is Here

 

Got your attention with the title. Guess what? There is no real “magic pill”. Motivation, consistency, and discipline when eating and exercising are my magic pill. MOTIVATION, CONSISTENCY, DISCIPLINE! With these 3 magic words, you will succeed on your journey to weight loss. Of course, these three words alone will not help you to lose weight/body fat and keep your body healthy for the rest of your life. This is where my Guidelines to Weight Loss come in to play. Following the Guidelines will help you to make small steps towards losing the weight that you want to come off. Make small changes in your daily routine, every day, and you will achieve success.

  1. Portion Control – Try eating 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day. This may help to keep your metabolism higher. Three large meals in a day can be higher in calories and can be more difficult for your body to burn these calories off.
  2. Do not starve yourself – Your body can go into “starvation mode” and actually hold on to fat when enough calories are not consumed. Eat lean protein to stay satisfied longer.
  3. Eat food slowly – This can have the effect of making you feel satisfied sooner, helping to consume less food and fewer calories.
  4. Reduce your intake of refined sugar and refined flour products – Substitute these with whole grain and multi-grain products.
  5. Limit use of sauces, dressings, and creams – Always ask for it “on the side”.
  6. Do not go grocery shopping when hungry – People tend to buy junkie snacks and unhealthy foods when they are wanting to eat.
  7. Avoid eating fried foods – Instead of frying foods when cooking, try to bake, broil, or grill.
  8. Try to cook without adding butter, margarine, or oils – These can add a lot of unwanted calories.
  9. Always start the day with a healthy breakfast that includes complex carbohydrates and lean protein Breakfast will boost your metabolism and keep your energy high and hunger low throughout the day.
  10. If trying to lose weight/body fat, try reducing your caloric intake by 500 kcal per day – 3,500 kcal equals one pound of fat. So if you cut out 500 kcal every day for 7 days, you can lose one pound in one week.
  11. Keeping a food diary can help to reduce your weight – Keeping track of calorie consumption has been proven to be effective in weight reduction and loss of body fat.
  12. Have a support group – Talk to close friends and family about your plans for losing weight. They will be there for you!
  13. Weight lossWater is best – Avoid soft drinks and juice. These are high in calories and sugar. Your body is approximately 80% water. Drink up.
  14. Alcohol contains a lot of empty calories and interferes with proper physiological functions of the body. Drink alcohol in moderation or preferably cut it out until you reach your goal.
  15. A positive lifestyle change rather than a crash diet is most successful in losing weight. Daily exercise, healthy eating, and motivation will help you reach your goals.

These 15 tips are just some of many ways to help in the battle of weight loss. Be aware, every day, of the food you’re eating and the amount of physical activity and exercise you are doing. Thinking about a healthy lifestyle every day will help you to incorporate more of the tips presented throughout your daily routine. Small changes over a long period of time will certainly add up to weight loss on that scale.

A Reason to Turn Off the Alarm

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Mother’s Day is one of my favorite holidays.  My kids are in that wonderful age of school projects that feature hand prints with poems and flowers made of tissue paper.  I treasure every sweet craft they make for me.

But some of my most precious gifts are not the ones they make for the occasion.  No, the gifts I love these days are the ones they deliver without a reason, and often, without realization.  I’m the mom of two boys and I am their favorite girl.

I love the Lego minifigs who’ve taken up residence on my nightstand.  All of them were created with me in mind, often featuring a girl’s head on a mismatched body.  I love the pictures of kittens and princesses colored pink in honor of me.  I hang them in my office because I’ve run out of space on the refrigerator and walls.  I even love the paper-folded monsters that I find waiting on my jewelry box or pillow.  I have special containers where I place these treasures.  I plan to revisit them when the day comes that their love notes no longer involve me.

A few nights ago Will crawled into my lap and said, “I just miss you when you’re at work.”

Today after a mom’s lunch at Max’s school, my brave third grade boy gave me a kiss outside his classroom before I left.

And last night, both boys woke me up with bad dreams and sniffles.  Then ten minutes before my 5 am work-out alarm, Will came in.  “I just can’t sleep,” he whisper whined.

There was a time when I would have been furious.  I would have sent him back to bed immediately.  This is my only chance to work-out, I would fume.  Now I’m going to be tired all day.  He’s manipulating.  He’s lying.  He’s ruining my day.

But nine years into my parenting journey, I’ve learned a little something about the precious, unexpected moments that I don’t want to miss.

So I turned off my alarm and I let him climb in.  He snuggled up to me, soft and warm from sleep.  He grabbed my hand and pulled it around him.

“I love you, Mama,” he said.  Then promptly fell asleep still holding my hand.

I couldn’t extricate myself to go work-out.  My date with Shaun T and Insanity would have to wait.

The best Mother’s Day gift in the world was sleeping beside me and no work-out could ever drag me away.

5 Mistakes When Trying to Lose Weight

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Over the years of training I’ve seen many people succeed and fail on their journey of losing weight. The success stories are of those that change their eating behaviors, are discipline and motivated, and exercise regularly. Those that fail tend to go on fad diets, starve themselves, and exercise too much or too little. Excessive exercisers usually burn out before their target weight loss has been reached or get injured in the process. Too little exercise will, of course, not burn enough calories to reduce body fat and weight. Losing weight is a very difficult challenge and needs to be accomplished with focus and consistency. Short cuts are not the answer when it comes to losing weight.

I’ve seen people make many mistakes when trying to lose weight. However, the following five mistakes are the biggest ones I’ve seen.

1. Doing ONLY cardio exercise to burn calories and reduce body fat.

Yes, cardio exercises such as walking, running, spinning, jumping rope, etc. is very important in the fight against fat. However, doing only cardio and not including strength training in your exercise program will certainly slow down your weight loss plans. Cardio exercise is great for burning calories and fat, but can also burn away muscle. Strength training must be done in order to maintain your lean body mass (muscle) which helps to keep your metabolism running high and keep you strong. Bottom line, you must do both – cardio and weights.

2. Eliminating all carbohydrates and fats.

Complex carbohydrates and certain fats are needed in your body for energy and several physiological functions. You need both for high energy in order to get through long, intense workouts. Do stay away from saturated fat and processed carbs. These will certainly keep energy levels low and keep that unwanted weight on.

3. Not being consistent with healthy eating.

This is the biggest problem I see with clients that want to lose weight. I find that people do great with low caloric intake and healthy foods Monday through Thursday. But look out on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. All that heathy eating is thrown out the door on the weekends. Heavy dinners out at restaurants, desserts, over abundance of alcohol, fried foods. The list goes on and on. Listen, if you are on a mission to lose weight, you have to put forth 100% effort until your goal is reached. Once the goal is reached then splurge every now and then. You can’t eat whatever you want on weekends and expect to lose weight. Simple formula to remember – calories in/calories out. If you are taking in more calories than your body needs, then you will not lose weight!

4. Starving yourself.

Not eating will certainly help reduce your weight. However, how long can you go without food before you have a break down and pig-out on an entire pizza? Starving yourself does not work over a long period of time. Research shows that these people will gain the lost weight back, plus an extra 2-3 pounds or more. You must feed your body healthy foods in moderation in order to keep your metabolism running on high throughout the day.

5. Weighing yourself every day.

Do not do this! When that number on the scale doesn’t move for five days in a row, people get disappointed and frustrated which leads to lack of motivation and questioning all the effort put into healthy eating and exercise. Be patient! If you are sticking with the program and eating properly, the weight will come off. Weigh in once a week, preferably the same day and time and first thing in the morning (after a visit to the bathroom).

Losing weight takes time, consistency, and a lot of motivation and hard work. You must be discipline when it’s time to make the decision to eat dessert or not. Or deciding to have that third glass of wine. Or ordering steamed broccoli instead of french fries. When it comes down to it, it is YOU that has ultimate control over your weight loss. Be patient and consistent with your eating habits and exercise and you will surely see that number on the scale get lower and lower.

Birthday Selfie Challenge

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I recommend that you try this on your next birthday.  Grab your cell phone and stand in front of a mirror.  Now, turn your hips away from the mirror, your shoulders towards it, suck in your belly, arch your back.  Lift the cell phone above you and angle down.  Now click and delete until you take the most flattering picture possible.   There you have it:  your Birthday Selfie.

This idea came to me after following too many self-titled “fitness experts” on Twitter.  These twenty-somethings delight in taking pictures of their fit bodies in dimly lit spaces at flattering angles.  The men slick their abs in oil then flex and twist.  The women don sports bras, tiny shorts and arch into uncomfortable looking thinness.  I was finding my Twitter feed filled with images that I guess were supposed to be motivating.  I found them annoying.

So the first thing I did on the morning of my birthday was unfollow anyone who had tweeted a picture of herself in booty shorts.  The next thing I did was try to create my own fit looking selfie.  And you know what, it wasn’t that hard.  The right camera angle, a flattering twist and flex and I, too, could look pretty darn good.

A wise woman once told me, “This is probably the best you’ll ever look so you might as well enjoy it.”  I was sixteen and I didn’t believe her.  Surely some day my skin would clear up, my legs would get slimmer, my hair would de-frizz and turn silky and blonde.  Someday I’d look like the models that taunted me from on the pages of Seventeen Magazine.  But that someday never happened and I spent a whole lot of time feeling bad about it.

One advantage I found in turning 41 is I am no longer so gullible.  I am not fooled by pictures of young and fabulous beauties.  I’ve seen one too many editions of Stars Without Make-Up to think that celebrities are looking glamorous every day.  And after my selfie-experiment, I do not believe that everyone who shows their abs on Twitter would look the same if I past them on the street.  Its smoke and mirrors…or more accurately these days…filters and angles.

So I urge you to do as I suggest and take a flattering selfie.  You don’t have to save it.  You don’t have to show a soul.  But I suspect that when you find the right angle, you will impress yourself with your own hotness.  And at that point, you might not want to lose that image.

I’m happy I have my 41st Birthday Selfie and I’m not going to delete it.  It just might be the best I ever look and, you know something, I’m fine with that.

 

HIIT, Your Best Shot at Being Fit

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High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, has been around for years but is finally coming into mainstream fitness for individuals of all ages and fitness levels. Several years ago, HIIT was incorporated into the training regimens of Olympic, Professional, and Collegiate athletes. The benefits of high intensity training for these athletes included higher VO2 Max, greater lung capacity, improved oxygen utilization, delayed onset of lactic acid build up in muscle cells, and greater overall output during practice, drills, games, and competitions.

That’s all good stuff, right? To the average person these improvements don’t mean much. What it does mean to the average person is this: burn a lot of calories in a short period of time while boosting your metabolism and improving your cardiovascular conditioning.

Many of my clients and friends complain of having to do long, tiresome, and boring cardio workouts that leave them wishing there was a better way to “get it done”. HIIT is the way to get it done in a shorter period of time but with a much higher intensity level. You really need to work your butt off to make this work for you!

To start, you must determine your Target Heart Rate Zone (THRZ). This can be done by clicking here. During HIIT, the goal is to get your heart rate up to the upper end of the THRZ, keep it there for a short period of time (1 -2 minutes), then bring it down to the middle of your THRZ for a short period of time, then back up again. This pattern should be performed for 20 to 30 minutes.

This type of training is called high intensity for a reason. It is challenging and tough to do. You will breath heavily and sweat a lot when performed properly. The goal is to get your heart rate up as high and as safe as possible in a short period of time in order to burn high amounts of calories. Depending on your training schedule, HIIT can be performed 2-3 times per week.

The following HIIT programs are some of my favorites to do. These are just examples. I recommend you consult with your physician or a professional fitness instructor before trying these HIIT programs. Be sure to monitor your heart rate to make sure you are at the upper end of your THRZ. It will take approximately 7-8 minutes to get the heart rate up that high. If your heart rate gets too high and you have trouble catching your breath, then lower your intensity by decreasing speed, incline, or pace of exercises. Good luck!

Treadmill HIIT (for beginners):

  1. Brisk walk at 4.5 mph at 2% incline for 2 min. (this may be a slow jog for some of you)
  2. Run or Jog at 6.0 mph at 1% incline for 1 min.
  3. Brisk walk at 4.0 mph at 5% incline for 2 min.

Repeat 4 more times then do 5 minute cool down (walk at 3.5 mph)

Total Time (including cool down): 30 minutes

Outside HIIT (for intermediate trainees):

  1. Jog at your own pace for 2 min.
  2. Sprint for 30 seconds
  3. Walk for 1 minute 30 seconds

Repeat 5 mores times then do 5 minute cool down (slow walk)

Total Time (including cool down): 25 minutes

HIIT Using Calisthenics (for advanced trainees):

  1. Jumping Jacks for 45 seconds
  2. Mountain Climbers for 30 seconds
  3. March in place for 30 seconds (for a rest; brings heart rate down a little)
  4. Burpees or Squat Thrusts for 45 seconds
  5. Scissor Jumps and Jabs for 30 seconds
  6. March in place for 30 seconds
  7. 10 Push-Ups

Repeat 5 more times then do 5 minute cool down (slow walk)

Approximate Total Time (including cool down): 20 minutes

As you can see, HIIT can be done a variety of ways. The ways to do High Intensity Interval Training is endless. The key items to focus on are your heart rate and your breathing. If either gets to high for your fitness level, then decrease your intensity.

Putting together a HIIT program takes a little bit of thinking and imagination and a lot of hard work and motivation. However, this type of exercise will certainly get you in shape, burn a high amount of calories, and keep your metabolism running high all day long.

 

 

Hate Cardio? Love Bikinis? Then HIIT Is It!

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Yes, I’m 40 and once again this summer, I intend to wear a bikini.

Some may disagree.  Some may think that after 39, you should retire any piece of clothing that shows your mid-section.  I, however, can’t help feeling that by hanging up the two-piece, I would be giving in to age and laziness and gravity.  I refuse to surrender to these opponents of fitness.  So I stubbornly cling to my bikini…one of the last vestiges of my youth.

Hence the dilemma each year when faced with the prospect of actually putting on said bikini and walking around in public.  If I worked harder during the winter, took advantage of those long, dark evenings to log hours on my treadmill, I know it would not be such a problem.  But summer always sneaks up and finds me ill-prepared.  Six weeks until Memorial Day, more than five extra pounds to lose and only 30 minutes to work out.  What’s a girl to do?

Shedding pounds quickly requires a commitment to eating right, training with weights and plenty of cardio.  Its that simple.

But I hate cardio.  There, I said it.  Give me anything else.  I will do hundreds of crunches, lunges up and down my street, lift ridiculously heavy weights.  I’ll do anything not to have to complete long, boring sessions of treadmill walking.  But, sadly, building muscle alone is not enough to get bikini ready.

Enter HIIT.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a cardio-haters best friend. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t easy.  In almost every way, it is harder than spending an hour walking.  But for me one of the most challenging parts of  long cardio sessions is boredom.  With HIIT, I am not bored because it is challenging and changing.  I work as hard as I can for a short amount of time and then get a break.  It increases metabolism so I burn more calories throughout the day.  Plus I don’t need to do an hour of cardio because 20-30 minutes of HIIT is enough.

You can turn almost any workout into a HIIT workout and get more bang for your cardio buck.  The goal is to work really hard for a short amount of time, get your heart rate up to the highest end of your target heart rate zone then move to an easier exercise that allows your heart rate to come down for a bit.  This cycle is repeated several times.  So it doesn’t matter if you are on a treadmill, outside on a walk or doing plyometrics, you can turn any work-out up a notch with HIIT.  And after a few weeks of this kind of training, you may find yourself looking forward to putting on whatever swimsuit you choose.

A word of warning:  HIIT is serious exercise and not for everyone.  As with all exercise, check with a doctor or a trainer to make sure you are ready for the intensity of a HIIT workout.

 

 

Importance of Eating After Your Workout

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Eating is an extremely important part of staying fit and healthy. We need food in order to fuel our bodies for physiological functions, daily activities, and exercise. An automobile, for instance, needs clean gasoline to make it go. Without gasoline, the car will not move. As with our bodies, we need the proper fuel to give us energy to get through our day. Without proper nourishment, our bodies feel tired and run down. Eating foods that are highly processed, full of sugar,  and high in saturated fat will certainly make your body feel slow and sluggish. How can you get through a long day of school, work, dealing with your kids, and exercise when proper fueling for your body is not in place? It’s difficult!

If you exercise regularly, your body needs proper nourishment throughout the entire day. Most importantly, immediately following your workout. No matter what type of training you are doing for the day, your body’s nutrients need to be replenished immediately after your training session. Immediately means within 20-30 minutes of finishing the workout. This may be difficult for some of you, however with proper planning you can certainly accomplish this.

After a hard workout, the body is drained of many of the nutrients it needs in order to grow, heal, and become stronger. Complex carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals are all needed after your workout. These nutrients are vital in helping with repair and recovery of broken down muscle tissue, replenishing drained glucose levels (energy) needed for tomorrow’s workout, and keeping all physiological functions of the body performing with high-efficiency.

This is where the planning comes in to place. If you know you are training tomorrow, then have a pre-packaged meal, or meal supplement, prepared that can be immediately consumed after the workout. Some ideas for a post-workout meal are as follows:

  • Protein shake that contains some carbohydrates and plenty of vitamins and minerals. There are so many of these on the market and may be difficult to choose the proper one. Choose one that has whey protein, contains 15-20 grams of protein per serving, has low sugar (less than 15 grams), can be mixed easily with water, and, most importantly, tastes good.
  • Broiled or grilled chicken breast and a small, baked, sweet potato.
  • Turkey sandwich, with fresh spinach leaves and tomatoes on whole grain bread.
  • Natural peanut butter and low sugar preservatives on multi-grain bread.
  • Arugula and spinach leaf salad with chopped grilled chicken breast and red, yellow, and orange peppers. Use your favorite dressing sparingly.

These examples of post-workout meals are some of my favorites. There are plenty of choices out there for everyone. Remember, you must plan and prepare ahead of time.

The post-workout meal is one of the most important meals of the day. You are not only replenishing the nutrients you burned up while exercising, you are also fueling your body for tomorrow’s workout. Fueling your body with complex carbs, lean protein, and plenty of vegetables and fruit will have a direct effect on your energy levels, lean muscle mass, and weight loss. So be prepared, have a plan, be consistent, and stay focused with your refueling. You will find yourself increasing your exercise intensity and continually improving your fitness levels.

5 Secrets to Weight Loss

 

People are always looking for easy fixes and fast results when it comes to losing weight. It seeems like every other month there’s a new fad diet that the news is reporting on: fat-free, sugar-free, low-carb, high-protein, gluten-free, juicing, gabbage soup, low-calorie, and the list goes on and on. I’m sure that if you’re reading this article, you’ve tried at least one of these diets. Sure, diets may work for a period of time. However, these are quick fix remedies to weight loss. Most likely, individuals doing these diets will stay on them for a few weeks, lose a few pounds, go back to eating poorly, and gain the weight back plus a few extra pounds. People are not learning the proper way to eat healthy and exercise daily in order to keep the weight off. Behavior modification is most important when wanting to lose weight, maintain healthy eating habits, and living a healthy lifestyle for the rest of your life.

Of course, it’s easy for me to give you the advice. The most diffficult part is to implement this advice into your life and change your current behaviors. There are several actions that need to take place in order for you to live a healthy life, lose weight, keep the weight off, and stay physically active. I have provided Weight Control Guidelines on our website. These Guidelines will help you to stay on track when trying to lose weight. These are not secrets to weight loss. This is information that most of you already know, however, you may not be implementing in your life.

The following list includes the most important guidelines to follow when trying to lose weight. Please remember, these are not quick weight-loss solutions. These are guidelines you should be following all the time for the rest of your life. When on the journey of losing weight, you should keep in mind that the weight should come off slowly. I recommend losing 1 to 2 pounds per week. Studies have shown that people that lose 1 to 2 pounds per week tend to keep that weight off permanently. Studies also show that people that go on crash diets lose weight, then go off the diet, and gain that weight back plus an extra 3 to 5 pounds. This is due to not changing their eating behaviors permenantly.

  1. Reduce your intake of processed food and refined sugars. Examples of these include: white bread, pasta, white rice, fast food such as McDonald’s, Panera Bread, and Taco Bell, cookies, cakes, snack foods such as pretzels, chips, and soda pop. These food products tend to be high in calories, trans fats, and sugar. Substitute these foods with whole grain and multi-grain products and increase your intake of a variety of vegetables.
  2. Portion control. Eat 6 small meals a day rather than 3 large meals a day. This will help to keep your metabolism higher. Three large meals a day can be higher in calories and makes it more difficult for your body to burn these calories up. Six small meals a day will keep your energy levels higher, keep you feeling less hungry, and will help you to reduce your caloric intake.
  3. Eat lean protein with every meal. Protein plays an important role in the development of muscle, hair, and nails. Studies have also shown that protein helps to keep people more satisfied and less hungry later in the day.
  4. When trying to lose weight/body fat, reduce your daily caloric intake by 500 calories. 3,500 calories equals one pound of fat. So if you can cut out 500 calories every day for 7 days, you can lose one pound in one week. This sticks with the recommendation of losing 1 to 2 pounds per week in order to keep that weight off for the rest of your life. One way of reducing your caloric intake is to cut out carbs such as pasta, breads, and rice at dinner time. Replace these with a variety of vegetables. Do not completely cut out complex carbohydrates from your diet. Complex carbohydrates are the body’s number one source for energy. You need these “good” carbs early in the day in order to perform your daily routine such as going to work or school, running the kids around town, and EXERCISE!
  5. Drink water throughout the day. Avoid soft drinks, soda pop, and juices. These are high in calories and sugar. Our bodies are 80% water. Water is important for healthy skin, proper physiological functions of the body, and, of course, keeping you hydrated for your workouts.

These 5 important guidelines are just a few of several tips that you should be following when it comes to proper daily nutrition. Please click here to learn more important nutritional information. Combining these weight control guidelines with daily physical activity and exercise will certainly help you to reduce your body weight and body fat. I understand that changing behavior is a very difficult thing to do. So start off slow. Try changing one thing in your eating habits. Accomplish that for 6 weeks and then add on another. Remember, these are lifestyle changes that will stay with you for the rest of your life. These changes will not only help you to lose weight but may help to decrease illnesses and diseases and prolong your life.