Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Everything I know about weight loss.

I've already entered a post for this evening but I've been jumping from weight-loss blog to weight-loss blog in the last couple of days and have been reading about the frustrations some people are going through with regards to their weight loss. I am NOT a practice what you preach 24/7 person so I can't blame them - but I can share what I've learned in the last few years which I know to work and I know to be true because when I follow this knowledge it WORKS.

You should be eating 5-6 small meals a day. By small we're not talking a cracker and a baby carrot here - we're talking probably fits in your two hands cupped together or one palm spread wide open. They should be: Breakfast, 2-3 snacks, Lunch, and Supper, and they should be consumed every 2 hours. You shouldn't wait to be hungry, because your body i.e. your metabolism is like a wood stove; you have to keep slowly putting wood in the stove to keep the fire even and burning. If you shove four logs at once the fire will get too hot and will get out of control. If you put a little stick in every 4 hours the fire will burn out and you'll have a hard time re-lighting it.

Despite the brainwashing on tv and in magazines carbs are not the enemy. No food is actually the enemy, just quantities of certain foods are bad. As much as possible you want to trade all simple carbs for complex carbs and whole grain carbs. So anything refined isn't good for you because it will make your blood sugar spike when you eat it and crash hard later on. In other words, you eat two pieces of white toast with butter and jam (all sugar, fat and carbs basically) and you'll feel either hyper or get a flushed face soon after you eat it and you'll want to take a nap not long after. Not to mention that you'll be hungry again very soon because processed carbs digest really fast. Some to avoid are: white rice, white flour, white bread, white pasta..you get the picture. Trade those in for whole grain or whole wheat versions, but still cut the portions in half. In a typical meal like lunch or supper a serving of brown rice would be about 1/2 cup. Some simple carbs are found in nature like many fruits such as grapes, apples, peaches, etc. But they have great fibre and vitamins that are important for your wellbeing. Fruit is great, but it has calories too and sugar is sugar so eat it in moderation and before noon if possible. The best time of day to eat any carbs is before noon. Some really great carbs to include in your meals are: natural oatmeal, whole grain bread (1 slice at a time), whole wheat pasta (1/2 cup portion!), and wild or brown rice.

It's not all about chicken breast! Protein is so important for building muscles - no I'm not talking about bulking up like body builders - I'm talking about lean sexy bodies, the kind we all aspire to have. You want lean proteins in your meals. Many are found in meats such as: chicken breast, extra-lean ground beef, ground turkey, tuna, salmon, and white fish. But there are other terrific sources for protein, just have to keep an eye out for low-fat versions of these: cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, almonds, edamame (or soy beans), egg whites, protein isolate powder and milk. I'll explain later on why building muscles is so so important for weight loss. You need to include a lean protein source in every meal including snacks. If you're having grapes and crackers - where is the protein?? A good morning snack would be a 1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese and two clementines. That combines carbs and protein - and the mix of the two will keep you feeling fuller longer because that's what protein does. It takes a longer time to get digested than carbs so you're not starting twenty minutes after you eat.

You simply can't go wrong with vegetables. Eat as many as you want, any kind - seriously! The better ones are the dark green veggies, but make your plate as colourful as you wish! Just make sure your veggies are either microwaved, steamed, boiled or grilled. Boiling is the least favorite cooking method as it takes away a lot of the great vitamins, but as long as you aren't adding sauces, butter, or any kind of fat to the vegetables you can eat them until you're stuffed! Most of them have great fiber contents - just watch out for hidden natural fats such as in avocados.

If you want to lose weight and lose fat, then cardio is absolutely necessary in my opinion. The way cardio works is that you are doing an activity which requires extra calories to be burned, therefore you're creating a deficit in a certain amount of calories. It only works for as long as you keep doing cardio day in and day out - but that's ok if you're trying to drop weight. Just remember that if you reach your goal weight and decide to stop doing cardio (which you shouldn't because it's great for your overall health..but I'm realistic) then you must cut out the same amount of calories from your meals to make sure you don't gain back the weight. As I said above, cardio only works for as long as you keep doing it. For cardio to be effective you have to do a minimum of 15-20 minutes of it. Of course if you've never done any kind of cardio or physical activity check with your doctor first for the intensity and duration you should be doing. But there are many kinds of cardio activities you can do: speed walking, biking, running, and working out on cardio gym equipment. Equipment, especially stationary bikes are my least favorite and I'll tell you why: they make you and your muscles LAZY! Think about it, how efficient a workout can you be getting if you're sitting on your butt?? Any exercise that requires you to sit down isn't really working you efficiently. You're always better off doing cardio standing up.

Strength Training
Don't think you're going to bulk up ladies. It's just not possible to be as bulky and ripped as a man without taking male hormones. We're just not designed to look like that. So don't worry about it - I don't care how heavy you are, or what bodyshape you are, you're ok trust me - you won't end up looking like Arnold! It's very very very important to include strength training i.e. weights in your workout program and here's why: as you read above cardio only works as long as you do it, well when you strength train you build muscle and muscle needs calories to survive. Muscle keeps burning calories even while you sleep, cardio..ehhh well not so good while you're sleeping. So incorporating strength training three to four times a week will help boost your metabolism (which means you'll burn more calories!). It's all about calories in versus calories out in the weight loss game people, it's not rocket science. With strength training you can't train the same muscle group two days in a row, you need to alternate with usually 1-2 days between doing the same muscle group again. Abs however are the only muscle group you can train every day. Be sure to stretch your muscles well before and after all workouts to avoid injury. A little tip I can give you when you're starting out - you know you've worked your muscles hard enough when they hurt a little the next day, and really hurt two days later. If you don't feel anything you need to push harder, hold the pose longer, or work with heavier weights plain and simple.

You know this one so I won't spend precious time telling you all the benefits of drinking enough water. But water flushes out fat - so drink a lot! Always carry a bottle of water around with you, and get in the habit of drinking it! 8-10 glasses a day...don't forget.

You wouldn't think sleep is important in order to lose weight, but I've read studies that when our bodies are stressed and sleep deprived we release certain chemicals that make us hang on to fat. Not so great is it? Also, when you're training you'll need the energy to really hit your workout hard, and it's only during sleep that your muscles repair themselves. That's how they grow..you train your muscle and create tiny microscopic tears in it and during rest your muscle uses the protein (essentially animal or natural muscle) to repair the tiny tears which then makes it grow stronger. You should be sleeping around 8 hours every night, do what you have to in order to get the rest you need!

That's what I know to be true and to work. I'll tell you the ten million dollar secret the diet industry doesn't want you to know: it only works if you do it. Nothing and no one can do it for you. All those workout dvd's you have collecting dust because you think they don't work? They do! If you do them every day, and eat the way I recommended above, you'll see results. But if you stop doing them four days in, then no they won't work. I've had ups and downs many many times in my life. But I do know that I have no one else to blame for my downfalls or to thank for my sucesses than myself. Be your motivation, love yourself. Forgive yourself for the past eating habits and non-workout moments. It's ok, you're human, so am I, so is everyone. Good luck, you can do it!

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