Has your company recently started a weight loss competition? Do you just want to shed a few pounds? Then here are some top ten Do’s and Don’ts!
The Good, The Bad, and the Banned
1. Eat lots of Fruits/Veggies (nutritionally “dense” foods!). Instead of having a bag of chips, have a bag of fresh mixed vegetables with a tub of hummus sitting at your desk. Hummus can be expensive to buy, but takes about 5 minutes to make and is cheap to produce yourself (see an earlier post for a great Hummus recipe without Tahini, although those recipes with Tahini are good, too). Having fresh vegetables available gives you that satisfying “crunch” of a chip without the bad calories. Yes, it will suck at first – but these days, I actually crave crunching on carrots and broccoli dipped in hummus!
2. Give Yourself a “Free” Day. Yup, that’s right – one day a week, eat whatever you want. The first “free” day you’ll go way overboard, feel sick, bloated, and have low energy. Considering how you ate the rest of the week, you’ll end up hating what you did. The next “free” day, you’ll be a little bit more disciplined. But, let’s face it – If I banned myself from chocolate chip cookies, I would doom myself to failure! But if I know once a week I could eat all I wanted – I’d be much more likely to wait.
3. Have a Plan. Plan your meals ahead of time. Don’t eat out – cook your own food, and bring your food to work. It’s much easier to control just how many calories you’re eating if you make it yourself. And, generally speaking, it’s going to be healthier.
4. Make Exercise a Priority. I hate working out first thing in the morning, but if that ensures that I get my workout done, then that is when I need to do it. Set a specific time for your workouts, and explain to your family and friends just how important this is to you. Get them involved and on your side. When they understand that 5pm – 6pm is Mommy/Daddy’s workout time, and it’s because they want to be healthier and live longer, then the family will understand. Get them to exercise with you! And don’t make any excuses or let anything distract you from your planned workout time. It’s easy to do – hence why many workout first thing in the mornings (I do, also, but I hate that).
5. Substitute Tea for Coffee; DRINK WATER. There are many types of tea, the most healthy being a White Tea, the best anti-inflammatory Green Tea (handy if you’re just starting to exercise), and the best for digestion can be black tea. In any case, if you love the taste of coffee, there are teas out there that taste much like coffee. And although Coffee can be healthy, we tend to put all the unhealthy stuff in to Coffee. Make tea a symbol of your change in lifestyle – you can add a little honey or lemon to tea to sweeten the taste… Honey itself is one of the purest forms of sugar and is an athletes best snack before a workout, and lemon has been shown to improve the body’s ability to absorb the good stuff in tea. Finally, our society doesn’t drink enough water. The benefits of water can’t be overemphasized: Get rid of the refined sugary drinks, drink water to flush your system, and you’ll be amazed at the energy you’ll suddenly find yourself with.
6. Set a Goal. Be specific. Don’t say, “To lose weight.” That is a result, but it’s too vague. Specify how many pounds. Say, “I want to run an entire 5K.” Whatever it is, make it specific, and set a deadline.
The Bad (or the “Limited”)
7. Dark Chocolate. Dark chocolate has shown to have some health benefits and the antioxidants are helpful to a lifestyle. However, too much can add calories and inches on the waistline, so eat it sparingly. If you’re like me, and you like your dessert, have one small square of dark chocolate after your main meal (I like to eat mine with a cup of tea), and give yourself at least 15 minutes afterward before eating anything additional. I’ve heard that it takes the brain almost 20 minutes to realize if the stomach is full – so give your brain a chance to catch up with your stomach.
8. Eat When Your Hungry. Often, we eat because we are bored, because food smells good, and because we are slaves to the herd. Why is this a “The Bad” or “Limited” item? Because you should limit what you eat to when you are hungry, not bored or otherwise. At first I asked myself a simple question, “Does steamed chicken breast sound good?” – If the answer was no, then I knew I wasn’t really hungry and would pass on any snacks. Unfortunately for me, I got to really like the taste of steamed lemon chicken seasoned with garlic and spices, so the answer to the question soon always became “Yes!”. But the principle remains the same.
9. DRINKING your CALORIES. Eat your calories, don’t drink them! That’s right, to win a weight loss, you have to eliminate any and all drinks with calories. If you are following a strict calorie program, you want to save every last calorie for food. Drinking just one Coke, which is approximately 200 calories, means you would have to run hard for 20 minutes, or walk for 45 minutes, just to burn off those calories!
10. EXCUSES. There are Doctors, Lawyers, CEO’s, and others that train 20 hours a week to compete in Triathlons. If you say, “I don’t have time…” you’re just lying to yourself. You have time, you have the ability, and you can do it. The question is whether or not you put exercise and fitness and nutrition as important as the other things within your life. If these lawyers and CEO’s and stockbrokers, working 60 hour work weeks, can still train for Iron-length triathlons, then finding 1 hour a day for your health is more than doable.
11. PROCESSED FOOD and MAYO. The recent lawsuit over Taco Bell meat is a great example of just what pure crap we are putting in to our bodies. Yes, cooking, baking, and creating our own food takes time. But there is an old saying: “A Six-Pack stomach is made in the kitchen.” Put your nutrition at the same level of importance as your exercise. Nutrition and Exercise are like Shoes and Socks – or peanut butter and jelly – they just go together, and you really can’t have one without the other (Yes, people do it, but it’s just not as effective). Additionally, Mayo instantly adds 200+ calories to any sandwich, and the fact is – you really don’t need it for a tasty tasting sandwich. Substitute hummus, mustard, or other lower-calorie options.