2016 is almost upon us. What a great time to look back and reflect on how we have done this year with our fitness and nutritional goals! Here are a few final tips for the year recapping a little on some of the ideas we should be considering when moving into the new year.
Are You Ready to Diet? Again?
Diets entice us with promises of quick weight loss. But focusing on quick weight loss can lead to unhealthy eating and only short term success. While most diets produce quick weight loss at the outset, they often cause your metabolism to slow. The result is that you have to eat less and less to keep losing weight. You quickly become discouraged, give up, and start eating like you used to. But now, with a slower metabolism, you regain all the weight you lost, and more. Focus instead on improving your health, and you will find becoming slim and healthy may take a little longer it will stay with you!
Eat frequently and slowly
It is important to understand what happens when you skip a meal or go on a crash diet. When you skip a meal your metabolism slows to conserve your energy. And when you lose weight too quickly for a few days, your body thinks it is threatened with starvation and goes into survival mode. It fights to conserve your fat stores, and any weight loss comes mostly from water and muscle. Never skip a meal, especially breakfast, and eat healthy snacks between meals. Eating frequently prevents hunger pangs and the binges that follow, provides consistent energy, and may be the single most effective way to maintain metabolism efficiency. Eating slowly gives our bodies time to tell us they are full before we've eaten more than we need.
Eat More Fruits, Vegetables and Whole Grains
People who eat healthy, mostly unprocessed foods, including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and lean animal protein, often find that they can eat as much as they want without gaining weight. If they are switching from a diet containing lots of processed foods, they find that they can eat more yet consume fewer calories and they lose weight. Historically, the Chinese ate mostly rice and vegetables with a little lean meat for protein and flavour, nothing like the American Chinese restaurant dishes of deep fried sweet and sour pork. A step back to more natural foods would improve our health and waistlines.
Take Control of What You Eat
There are few things that we have complete control over, but what we put in our mouths is one of them. We don't have to lose control in a restaurant or a friend's home, and we don't have to eat everything that's put in front of us. Consider this: We love fat because it carries flavour and it stays in your taste buds for longer making you feel satisfied, restaurants aren't as interested in whether we'll be around in 30 years as whether we'll be back next week.
Cut Down on Sugar
Be careful about sugar in coffee and soda pop. It can add up quickly, and these drinks aren't filling. Watch for "hidden" sugar in processed foods like bread, ketchup, salad dressing, canned fruit, applesauce, peanut butter, and soups. And be careful with "fat-free" products. Sugar is often used to replace the flavour that is lost when the fat is removed. Fat-free does not mean calorie-free. The greater concern with the insulin spike that tells our body to start storing fat. Whatever we eat and don't burn up eventually gets turned into fat anyway. The greater concern is that the insulin spike is followed by a drop in insulin level that leaves us feeling tired and hungry and wanting to eat more. The unfortunate result of this scenario is that it makes us want to eat something else with a high sugar content. When we do, we start the cycle all over again. Regulating your blood sugar level is the most effective way to maintain your fat-burning capacity.
Exercise often and hard
People who exercise regularly not only lose weight faster, they are more successful at keeping it off. Exercise makes it possible to create a calorie deficit and lose weight without starving your body and slowing your metabolism. At home, at the gym, or playing sports, participate in both aerobic and strength building activities on a regular basis. Not only does the exercise itself burn calories, but your body will continue to burn calories at a higher rate even after you're done exercising. If walking is all you can do, then walk because it's great for you. But muscle burns more calories than fat, so put on a little muscle if you can and you will burn more calories just sitting there... looking good. But don't sit too long. The human body is good at adapting. If you dig ditches without gloves, you will develop calluses to protect your hands. If you sit too long, you will develop extra padding to keep you comfortable!