Yes, I purposefully made the title of this post enticing and “mumbo jumbo” sounding. I gave this post one of those titles that simply magnetizes you and forces your hand to scroll over and click on the link (right??). These are five tips you’ve heard before, but I’m going to say them again. If you ingrain these tips into your life, and turn them into lifetime habits, I can guarantee you will lose weight, and keep weight off. These five tips will help you meet your goals. No, you can’t just do one, or two, or three, you must do them all. As you know, weight loss and maintenance isn’t easy and it shouldn’t be (because, if it was, we’d all be at a healthy weight, well, fit, etc.). These five tips will take some time to get used to but once you get into the habit of following them it’ll be a piece of cake (and yes, you can still have that piece of cake (see tip number 5)).
1. Always include a vegetable or fruit. Period. Do it. No matter where you are, or what you are ordering, make sure there is a vegetable or fruit included in your meal. On vacation? Who cares. Get a fruit or vegetable with every meal. I’m being nice and saying vegetable or fruit, so you’re welcome. In reality you’re better off always including a vegetable (vs. a fruit), but I know that’s not always easy. Do one or the other (but mostly veggies, haha).
2. Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages. Do I need to saying anything more? If you don’t know this tip by now, you’ve been living under a rock. I might even take this tip a step further and say “avoid caloric beverages”. But then that would mean no milk or alcohol, and (for me) living without the occasional glass of wine or micro-brewed beer is just no life to live. So, to make it easy I just say avoid sugar-sweetened beverages (and if you drink milk, stick to no more than 3 cups a day, and juice no more than 6 ounces a day…I don’t care if it’s 100% juice. And those sports drinks? Only for marathon runner or ultra-sports athletes. You know, pros, collegiate athletes, marathon training, you get it).
3. Sit less, stand and move more. I know, that’s so subjective. Don’t think about this one too much. Simply take every opportunity you have to stand and move whenever you can. If you can bring something to work that allows you to stand, do it! If you can get up and move every five minutes after sitting, do it! If you can park further away when parking in a lot, do it! If you can do crunches during the commercials, do it! If you can walk to the store instead of drive, do it!
4. Sleep, damn it. Need I say more? And don’t just sleep, but get yourself on a regular sleeping routine. I’m talking weekends too. Don’t throw yourself off each weekend just to play catch-up throughout the entire week. It’s NOT good for you waistline! Sleep in on the weekends, but not more than about an hour. Trust me on this one.
5. Focus on the big picture, dietary patterns are what matter. Let’s face it, we live in a world that is surrounded by food. Not only is that food often not so great for us, but it’s cheap (think the checkout lane at Lowe’s. Yes, Lowe’s, the hardware/house project store). In other words, our environment makes it more and more difficult to make healthier food choices. Throughout our lives we are constantly having to make a choice between one food that may be better for us, and another that may not be (and which, unfortunately, is often cheaper and has that extra added ability to ignite neurotransmitters that make us “feel good”). It’s ok to choose that less healthy food every once in a while, but only as long as the majority of the time (vast majority) you are making the healthier choice. My motto? When faced with these choices day in and day out, I allow myself to splurge on something once a day. For example; At breakfast with co-workers we are offered fruit, donuts and oatmeal. I have the fruit and a donut. THAT was my daily splurge! For the rest of the day I will make the healthier choice, period. Another example; at lunch I get offered a side of fries with my turkey burger. I eat them. THAT was my splurge! I consider a “splurge” something that I eat that has zero health benefits (and don’t tell me “fries are a vegetable”). Fries, donuts, candy, cake, cookies, a soda/pop (yes, if you have a sugar-sweetened pop/cola, THAT is your splurge! And even then I would say stick to only a small amount, as in the old “normal” 12-ounces rather than the new normal 16-ounces).
And if you want three more, here you go; aim for thirty grams of protein at each meal (especially for breakfast or after a workout), use smaller plates and cups, and watch your added sugar intake (ie: choose plain over flavored yogurts and milks, and be cognizant of sugars in “health bars”). I would have added these to the list but I thought “top five” sounded better than “top eight”. What else would you add to this list?
See you next week with a look at my family’s processed diet. Yes, you read that right.