Never have people been more aware of their health. “Diet” companies such as Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem have record sales, health food stores are popping up on every corner, and people are trying every new pill or “diet” fad they hear. With this information overload, it is no wonder people bounce from one unsuccessful attempt to the next. So, how does one decipher through the madness?
The Skinny on Getting Skinny
I have to straight away say a few “rules to live by:
- “Diet” is a BAD word!
- Not every body type is meant to be a size 2, or size 5, or even a size 8.
- Get up off your rear.
- Think about what you are eating.
- Follow your “NO” list.
That being stated let’s look at these a little more in detail.
“Diet” is a BAD word
One of my “pet peeves” in the fitness industry is the sheer stupidity of diets. Adkins, Weight Watchers, South beach, Cabbage Soup, the list goes on and on. The fact is you CANNOT remove a major portion of your diet and expect to stick to it long term. You will spiral out of control…guaranteed.
Your body NEEDS Carbs, proteins, and fats to function properly. Yes, if you remove one of those items from your diet you may lose some weight initially, but your body will start to compensate for that loss in other ways.
- Carbs give us sustainable energy and aid in digestion of proteins. Eating natural Carbs is the key, yams, whole Grain cereals and the like are excellent sources.
- Proteins help rebuild muscle and provide lasting satisfaction. Without an adequate amount of protein your body will compensate by breaking down its own muscle tissue for energy. Good sources of protein are; chicken, eggs, and lean beef.
- Healthy fats are important for internal function, skin, and hair. Studies have linked good fats such as Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s to a reduced chance of heart disease. Good choices are olive oil, walnuts and salmon.
Throw Away Unrealistic Expectations
I can’t count the number of times people have come in to meet me for a consultation before beginning a training program and their “goal” is to fit in a size 2, when it is obvious their bone structure is not that size. That is one of the reasons fitness plans don’t seem to work for people. It’s not the plan as much as it is the unrealistic, instant gratifying view of the plan. Throw away the unrealistic goals and instead try to make your goal removing what is unhealthy and adding what is healthy.
Get Off Your Rear
No matter how wonderful your eating habits may be, being inactive is a major killer of even the most awesome fitness plan. Your body was made to move. In addition to regular exercise, little “extras” are big helpers and I am a BIG believer in several small 5-10 minute quick exercises throughout the day.
- Try doing some squats while brushing your teeth for firmer buns and thighs.
- Or make it a rule to do 50 crunches before getting out of bed and 50 more before going to bed for stronger, more defined abs.
- Park in the farthest parking spot when you are going shopping to get in a little extra movement.
- Pretend you are using a hula hoop while you are watching TV. You will be shocked how much of a mid-section workout that is.
Educate Yourself about Nutrition
We are ultimately responsible for our own health. You will be in your body for the rest of your life, so it’s in your best interest to learn a little about it. If you drove your car nonstop and never put oil or gas in it what would happen?
It wouldn’t last very long that is for sure. Our body is like a car. It has certain fuel and maintenance needs that if not met will greatly impact our performance.
When cars maintenance needs are not met it gives warning sign in the form of gas lights, oil lights and engine lights, all try to warn us of an impending problem. But, what if we just unscrewed the light bulb? Would the problem be gone?
If we unscrewed the light bulb the problem causing the warning light would still be there we just wouldn’t see it. We are doing the same things to our bodies.
- Muscle cramps
- Skin problems
These are all our bodies “warning lights” and we are unscrewing the bulbs. Most of these problems are caused by lacking nutrition or dehydration, by we are taking pills that mask symptoms and take our focus away from the underlying issues.
Just Say No
While we do not want to remove major parts of our diets we need to remove unwanted and unneeded things from our diets. These things include:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup: An ingredient that companies use to sweeten items. It is unnatural and studies have shown that it actually blocks brain signals that aid in telling us that we are full. People that eat foods with high fructose corn syrup tend to eat more.
- Hydrogenated/Partially Hydrogenated Oils: These oils are hidden in everything. Read your labels carefully. These oils are responsible for artery clogging and lead to future heart problems.
In addition, some things need to be consumed in moderation including:
- Sugar: This is a biggie for women as unfair as it seems a woman’s’ body was designed to hold onto fat deposits. And, contrary to popular belief our body can convert ANYTHING into fat storage. Most weight gain in women is contributed to an overload of sugar. Again I say read your labels.
- Diet Sodas: I am putting this on the moderation list, even though I prefer no sodas at all, but if you drink diet sodas do so in moderation. Your main beverage should be water, and plenty of it, since dehydration leads to a sluggish metabolism.
- Diet Foods: These are wolves in sheep’s clothing. People buy diet foods with belief that they are better for them, when in reality they are generally higher in calories and full of nasty preservatives.
- Prepared Foods: Again, these have tons of preservatives and are higher in calories. They also usually include high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils.
The key to health and fitness lies with our own knowledge and willingness to change our lifestyles. Adding in more activity and more natural foods in lieu of unhealthy options is the first step in a journey of life long health.