Odds are your New Year’s resolutions have become a distant memory, several “fresh-start” Monday mornings have come and gone, and your jeans are still fitting a bit more snugly than you’d like. Don’t feel too bad – you’re not alone. In fact, the Center for Disease Control says that more than one third of Americans could even be considered obese – that’s 72 million people!
Let’s face it, part of the problem is that we’re all living overscheduled lives in a stressful world – but that doesn’t mean we have to give up on our fitness goals. The only true saboteurs of our plans for a beautiful body are our bad habits. Luckily, we can take back control of our health – and our waistlines – by making just a few small changes. So before you give up all hope and resign yourself to shop for a larger size, try these easy and effective secrets to slimming down:
1. Eat more, not less. Retrain your eating habits to include six small meals, instead of three large ones. Fitness expert Hugo Rivera, author of The Body Sculpting Guide for Women, says that the body can only absorb a certain amount of nutrition per sitting, so spreading out the calories makes sense. Pack some snacks so that you’re never going more than 2-3 hours without eating something. “Feeding yourself at even intervals can increase your metabolism by as much as 20 percent when you include a little protein,” says Rivera. Not only will you eat less at regular meal times, but you won’t be left feeling deprived, which is the ultimate kiss-of-death for most diet plans.
2. Partake of the elixir of life – water. Water has many functions; it aids in temperature regulation, helps with your joints and cleanses the body of toxins. By simply drinking one 16 ounce bottle of water before every meal, you’ll not only prevent dehydration but also discourage overeating because you’ll feel fuller.
3. Eat after 8:00 – pack on the weight. If you’re trying to lose weight, avoid eating anything 2-3 hours before bedtime. This will tax the carbohydrate stores in your body and promote weight loss. If you absolutely must eat something before bed, then lean protein is best.
4. Know your friends. Make sure each meal or snack is a magic combination of complex carbohydrates and protein. Protein contains beneficial amino acids and also helps to slow down the release of sugars from carbohydrates, ensuring that they’re better utilized by the body. The result will be a constant stream of renewed energy throughout the day – and less cravings.
5. Know your foes. Consider white sugar and breads “the danger zone.” Moderation is the key here. Be stringent about portion control when eating breads – and limit sugary desserts to only the occasional indulgence.
6. Picture it! Keeping a clear vision of you want will help you reach your goals. Take two before pictures of yourself and place them on both your bathroom mirror (so it’s the first thing you see in the morning) and on your refrigerator. Also, find two cute pictures of yourself as a child and post those along with your before pictures. Seeing our young selves, so full of potential, can help us to break through the notion of who we think we are now – and take back our personal power and .
7. Create a mission statement. You’re the CEO of the company that is you, so get clear on exactly what you want to accomplish. Whether you want to get back to your pre-baby weight, run a marathon or just feel more comfortable in your own skin – remind yourself of why you’re doing all this.
Fire It Up!
8. Raise your heart rate. Simple changes like walking to lunch or parking farther away from an entrance can help you further your fitness goals. The idea is to get moving. The more you do – the more you’ll be able to do. Start with speed walking and then add anything else you enjoy doing; swimming, hiking, tennis, bicycling – the possibilities are endless.
9. Shock your body. The bright side of having a body that’s used to doing nothing is that any activity will work – at first. Then the key is to keep changing up your programs. Muscle confusion keeps your body guessing and maximizes your gains in the least amount of time. Beginners should change their workout at least every 6 weeks. As you become more advanced, you’ll benefit from more frequent variety.
10. Work with weights. Muscle increases your metabolism and burns fat even when you’re not working out. It’s a secret few dieters are aware of, “By gaining muscle you’re going to accomplish permanent weight loss,” Rivera says. It’s estimated that for each pound of muscle you add to your body, you burn an additional fifty calories per day. In other words, putting on ten pounds of muscle will allow your body to burn an additional 500 calories a day! So if you want to look fabulous – and still eat great food from time to time – then muscle is your friend.
Changing your body is really as simple as changing your habits. Give yourself permission to take a bite out of life and achieve your goals for a healthier and happier you. By following these 10 simple rules you’ll not only feel better, but you’ll soon be as beautiful on the outside as you already are on the inside.
Marci Wise writes the column ‘A Moment of Clarity” for Positive Impact Magazine. For more information, visit http://www.marciwise.com.