The Health Hound Sniffs Out the Truth About Dieting and Weight Loss
Take a look at the gorgeous curves and washboard abs gleaming out at you from the cover of any number of men’s and women’s magazines on the newsstands, and you probably think to yourself, what will help me lose weight, and look like that? But the truth is those magazines paint a very unrealistic picture of what it means to be in shape and healthy.
In a country facing an obesity epidemic, and an astronomical rise in diabetes and cardiovascular disease, many people want to know “what can help me lose weight.” Those perfect bods presented by these Athenas and Adonises seem an ideal that few can aspire to – let alone achieve. But the truth is, you do not have to look like you just walked off of the cover of Cosmo, nor starve yourself, or spend hours upon hour in the gym to answer the question “help me lose weight now.” There are many ways to lose weight quickly, and at the same time, improve your overall health, and add years to life and life to your years!
We may not ever develop the strength, and stamina, or looks of a star athlete, but if you want to lose weight for your wedding, if you want to lose weight in your own home, if you want to get healthy and stay healthy at any age, you can take a page from their training manual. For the athlete, or trainer, it is all about achieving Peak Performance. Peak Performance at its most basic definition means the ability to do your best at a specific task. For athletes it means being able to not only compete at the highest of levels, but to achieve a “personal best” – to get the most out of their body’s, and themselves. That means setting clear goals, having a winning attitude – and putting only the best “fuel” in the engine as possible. With those three basic thoughts in mind, anybody can achieve peak performance at any age.
49-year-old Champion mountain bike racer Keith Sanders says, “Your mental fitness is as important as your physical fitness, and age is no barrier to staying fit or achieving your goals. You just have to believe there are no real ‘can’ts’ in life, just obstacles.”
Peak performance in your body is just like peak performance in your car’s engine. If you want to lose weight quickly and safely, what you put in matters. So put down the donut, and read on.
First, let’s get an idea of how “out of shape” you might be. The quickest and easiest way to determine if you are “overweight” is though Body Mass Index, or BMI. BMI technically is a measure of how much mass your heart has to pump blood through, but basically it is a snapshot way to look at your body fat based on your height and weight. You can find a BMI calculator at the National Institutes of Health website, http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/. If you scored in the normal weight range, great you’re cool – but if you’re like most people you probably hit the overweight, or even the obese range. If you fall into either of those categories its a good idea to bring that number down. The bad news is there are only two ways to do that, grow taller, or lose weight.
But how is all that going to help me lose weight fast? The good news is; it is not as hard as you might think to shed 10 pounds in only two or three weeks. In some cases a loss of just 10 pounds is enough to drop someone from the “Overweight” range to the normal. For example a person who is 5’9 175 lbs. would have a BMI of 25.8 which puts them in the “overweight” category – that same person at 165 lbs. would score 24.4 – in the “normal” range.
Out with the Bad in With the Good
So how can you help me lose weight right now? The best way to get that BMI down, get healthy, and stay healthy is to start with as clean a slate as possible, and that means detoxification. Detoxification is the way to cleanse your body of accumulated substances from processed or junk foods and other toxins such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Now don’t worry, we are not suggesting that you need to go spend two weeks drinking grass at a retreat somewhere. You just need to cut down on the coffee, booze, saturated fats, and sugar. A classic detoxification diet goes hand-in-hand with a diet that will improve your health overall.
In other words, the same recommendations that can detoxify your body can also help you lose weight and lower your cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. A two-week detoxification starts with drinking water, and lots of it, at least two to three liters a day. An easy way to accomplish this? Try substitutng a glass of water for at least two cups of coffee and/or soda per day.
Other ways to detox over the next two weeks include:
Cut Out the Booze. It may be rough, but abstaining for two weeks will lower your triglycerides, and could help lead to weight loss. Like most of the recommendations you will find in this report, cutting out or down on alcohol has a ripple effect. Drinking usually goes along with eating junk food and salty snacks, cut out the drink and you cut down on the junk.
- Say Goodbye to The Sweets. Having a “sweet tooth” isn’t just an expression – it’s a genetic reality. Our brains are wired to crave sugar. It’s been found that sugar stimulates the same “pleasure centers” in the brain as morphine. But the “high” comes with a “high” price, such as “high” cholesterol and “high” blood pressure, since most of the foods laden with sugar, are also loaded with fat and cholesterol. The key to cutting down on sugar intake is not so much in cutting out the obvious like cakes and Snickers bars, that is not where most of us get “sugared up” anyway. You need to avoid the “sneaky” added sugars like high fructose corn syrup that manufacturers load into all sorts of prepared foods, including breads, pasta, ketchup, and salad dressing. Sugar is not always obvious. Look for things on the label like sucrose, or anything else ending in “-ose”, dextrin, and malt, or corn syrup – these are all sugar. To wean your body off of sugar – try using spices such as cinnamon, or almond, or vanilla extract to sweeten foods and beverages. Feed your craving for sweets with fruits. The fiber and antioxidants will again have added benefits and help you achieve your goal of peak performance.
Boot the “Bad Fats”. You have heard the drill; there are “good fats” and “bad fats”. The bad guys are the saturated fats which are in many of our favorites, such as beef and most animal products and full-fat dairy products, and the man-made bogeymen; trans-fat and hydrogenated fats. You know how some products seem like they can stay on the shelf forever? Usually that’s because of trans-fats. The problem is once the stuff gets into our bodies, it’s damn hard to get rid of too. Let’s not get confusing with the alphabet soup, but as you have probably heard there are two kinds of cholesterol, one “good” one “bad”. Saturated fats raise the “bad” kind (LDL). The nasty trans-fats, not only raise the “bad” cholesterol, they decrease the “good” (HDL). Switch from cream to low fat, or skim milk, stop the “add-ons” like mayo and butter. Of course the rich desserts have to go. If you have an uncontrollable urge for a piece of chocolate cake, or hunk of pie, try this: instead drink a large glass of water and set a timer for 10 minutes, by then the craving should pass – and if it does not, go for half the portion you would normally take.
It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Superfood!
OK, so maybe you instinctively know that there are some foods that are better for us than others. But, how will that help me lose weigh fast? Well, did you know that increasing the consumption of certain foods could boost your immune system, reduce stress, combat disease, and lengthen your life? They are the group of foods collectively known as Superfoods. Some superfoods will come as no surprise. Remember how your mom always told you to eat your broccoli? Seems she knew what clinical studies have now proven. Broccoli is one of the most potent superfoods there is. Others may surprise you such as beans and certain nuts.
What makes them so super? Superfoods may not dress up in tights and capes, but many of them are rather colorful and easy to spot. That’s because one of the things that all superfoods have in common are phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are the substances that give plants their color, their nutrition, and their disease resistance. Also it goes without saying that all superfoods are “all natural”. You will not find anything processed or refined in a superfood. The other attributes that all superfoods have in common are antioxidants, high nutrition, and fiber. It’s a triple punch that adds up to peak performance.
As a group, all of the superfoods contain key nutrients that have been found in study after study to maximize health. Yet these are the same nutrients that are lacking in the diets of most Americans. The superfoods are rich in Vitamins A, B, and C. Critical minerals such as folate, magnesium, and potassium are found in the superfoods as are the “good fats” such as Omega 3’s and Gamma-Linolenic Acid.
Examples of superfoods include:
- Green Tea
- Tart Cherries
- Wheat Germ
- Dark Chocolate – not milk chocolate – it must be dark chocolate to have any health benefits, with at least 80% Cocoa
Don’t Panic – Go Organic
Toxic tomatoes, poisoned peanut butter, lethal lettuce. It seems like hardly a day goes by that the news isn’t shouting about another food recall. Well don’t panic – buy organic.
First lets define organic. There really is not an official definition of the term organic. Organic refers to the way food is grown or processed, not the food itself. Generally any food can be called organic if it has been grown or produced using all natural and no synthetic means. In other words, any food or product that has been grown or created without the addition of chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, or artificial or chemical additives of any kind is considered “organic”. Organic fruits, vegetables, grains, and other plant products must be free from genetic engineering or the use of radiation. An organic wine can only have the trace amounts of naturally occurring sulfites, and cannot contain added sulfites. When the term “organic” is found on food products, it is assumed that at least 95% of the product uses organic ingredients.
True, organic foods do cost a little more – but if you care about your health and the health of the planet there are a lot of very good reasons to use them. We are living in a “toxic soup”. Every day we are exposed to known cancer causing chemicals and heavy metals in the water we drink, the foods we eat, the very air we breathe. Using organic products not only minimizes our exposure to these toxins through ingestion, but organic farming and production techniques ensures that less of these chemical poisons are created as waste products that would otherwise wind up in the soil, ground water, rivers, lakes and oceans.
Organic foods taste wonderful. Organically grown produce that is not adulterated with hormones and chemical pesticides have the good green fresh taste that nature intended. Most people are amazed to experience what food “really” tastes like when they start switching over to organic.
It’s Not Only What You Eat, But How You Eat
In our “Super-Size” culture, most Americans also have no clue as to what a “normal” portion is. Instead of just crying out in frustration “help me lose weight fast, please!” Sometimes all you have to do is, cut back on the portion size. Without getting into a lengthy discussion of “how many ounces of lean meat” and “how many calories” should be on your plate, you can downsize by simply not continuing to eat until you feel you can’t take another bite, but only until you feel just about full. Or better yet, put out your normal portion of whatever, and cut it in half.
Also have a glass of water before and with every meal. Studies have found that drinking a glass of water before a meal reduced the amount of calories consumed in that meal by as much as 75 calories. That may not sound like a lot but 3 meals a day, 365 days a year, that’s over 82,000 calories or about 14 pounds on the average person.
It would be a great idea to cut out fast food from your diet altogether, but if that seems like a daunting task, try going every other day instead of running to the drive-thru for every meal, everyday. Skip the vending machine and replace between meal snacks with veggies or unsalted nuts. Have your biggest meal mid-day, and a smaller meal in the evening, with a light low-fat snack before bed.
What if you are a “Foodie”? Do you have to give up dining out? No – but consider:
- Asking for whole grain instead of white breads, with olive oil instead of butter
- Asking for skim rather than whole milk or cream
- Asking for your salad dressing on the side
- Asking the chef to cook your dish in olive oil rather than butter or other oils, and trim all visible fat from meat or poultry
- Ordering your dish steamed, broiled, or baked whenever possible
What else will help me lose weight now? Sorry, here’s the one you were waiting for. I know you were hoping this was going to be one of those guides that said lose weight and get in shape without exercise. Sorry, that’s just not going to happen, remember the subtitle is “The Truth About Health and Fitness.”
Now that does not mean that you have to go out and join a gym, (although that is not a bad idea!) but you do need to get moving. You need to do something everyday at least once a day that raises a sweat.
15- 20 minutes a day of actual aerobic exercise is great, but if that is not you – then do yard work, wash your car, make love – anything that gets the heart pumping and the sweat pouring. Walking is great. Start out walking the first day for 15 minutes, build to 20 minutes the second, and up to 30 minutes a day by the third day. Once you are vigorously walking for 30 minutes every day you can burn 200 – 300 calories a day.
Of course sports are great, volleyball, tennis, basketball, or swimming – but again we do not expect you to go from a couch potato to an Olympian overnight, just find ways to be less sedentary and more active everyday. Consider:
- Washing and waxing a car for 45-60 minutes
- Washing windows or floors for 45-60 minutes
- Gardening for 30-45 minutes
- Raking leaves for 30 minutes
- Pushing a stroller 1.5 miles in 30 minutes
- Dancing fast (social) for 30 minutes
If you are starting to feel ambitious, as Arnold would say – “pump some iron”. Adding some weight training to your routine is great, not only for strength training, but muscle burns more calories than fat. The more lean muscle mass you have the more calories you burn. Your metabolism will soar, your BMI will drop, and you will start to look great too!
Weight Loss and Nutritional Supplements
Take a look at aisles in any Health Food store, or cruise the internet for awhile, and you cant help but be bombarded by nutritional supplements and “natural weight loss” pills and powders. Do any of them work? Yes – and no.
Nutritional Supplements can be very valuable to an overall healthy weight lose plan – but they are called “supplements” for a very good reason. No “supplement,” vitamin, or mineral, should be taken as a “substitute” for a healthy diet. They are meant to “supplement,” as the name implies, or enhance, or add to – the weight loss you can achieve by following a healthy diet and lifestyle designed to get you in shape and lose weight.
Even vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are known to be helpful in boosting metabolism, enhancing weightloss, and improving overall health such as those mentioned that are in the Super Foods – work better when they are ingested in food. A supplement can never replace processes that even modern science still does not fully understand that allow nutrients within food to work together in complex ways, along with the proteins, carbohydrates and phytochemicals, to improve health. For example, if you lack Calcium you are better off getting it from calcium rich foods such as dairy products, dark leafy greens, soybeans, beans, fish, and raisins. The same for the B-vitamins – thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and vitamin B-12 – that many people take to reduce stress and improve health – but they should be gotten by adding more whole grains and dark green veggies to your diet, and not another jar to your medicine cabinet.
So what supplement should you take? Again along with a healthy diet, a daily multivitamin- multi-mineral, targeted for you age and sex, is good “nutritional insurance.” Meal replacement shakes and powerless can be helpful in managing weight in some individuals, but getting the same calories and nutrients from a variety of foods is more recommended.
Sports or performance enhancing drinks with Creatine, have been proven effective in building muscle, when combined with an exercise program designed to shed pounds and increase lean muscle.
The Hound says when buying any nutritional supplements, stick with well known brands that you can trust, and be wary of the claims made by the manufactures. Trust your “Animal Instincts”, and if any claim seems to be to good to be true… you probably are right on the nose!
You now what else can help you lose weight, now? Reducing stress. You cannot do your best or be your best – if you are stressed out. Taking steps to reduce stress in your life is as important as diet and exercise to getting healthy and staying healthy for life!
Lowering stress and anxiety helps lower your blood pressure, improves the immune system, can reduce back and joint pain, and increases fitness overall. It’s known as the mind body connection, and there is now incontrovertible proof that things like stress and negative emotions can and do affect our physical well-being. To get in shape and achieve peak performance, you may want to try engaging in some specific stress reducing activities such as yoga, or meditation – but if not, here are 10 things you can do everyday to help you calm down and chill out.
- Learn to relax. Remember the old ads that said “you deserve a break today”? (OK I know that was for a fast food joint) but the point is, it’s true – you need to give yourself a break, everyday. At some point walk away from your desk, if possible, or if not right there, just slowly take a deep breath in, hold it, and then exhale very slowly. Do this at a 2:1 count, in other words inhale for four seconds, and exhale for 8. At the same time, just let go – smile, and say something positive like, “I am r-e-l-a-x-e-d.”
- Practice acceptance. Many people get distressed over things they won’t let themselves accept. Often these are things that can’t be changed.Try accepting the things you can’t change – and stop stressing over it.
- Get a good night sleep. It is recommended that you get at least 8 hours of sleep.
- Get organized. Develop a realistic schedule of daily activities that includes time for work, sleep, relationships, and recreation.
- Exercise. We’ve covered this a lot so for, but exercise is not just good for your physical well being it is a great stress buster, and it creates endorphins, which improve emotional outlook as well.
- Reduce time urgency. Slow down, pace not race, if you are the kind of person who frequently checks your watch, learn to take things a bit more slowly.
- Disarm yourself. Leave behind your “weapons” of blaming, shouting, having the last word, and putting someone else down.
- Quiet time. Find something you like doing and -do it. Balance your family, social, and work demands with a hobby or other private time.
- Learn to delegate. You can’t be responsible all the time, stop trying to do everything yourself, and start getting help from others.
- Talk to friends. Friendship is good medicine. Daily doses of conversation, regular social engagements, and occasional sharing of deep feelings and thoughts are excellent stress reducers.
The questions “What can help me lose weight, now or “what can help me lose weight quickly, should be followed by another one. You need to think about why it is you want to lose weight? To look better, younger, to feel stronger – sure, all of those probably come to mind. But really the main reason for anyone to lose weight is to improve over all health. Health is more than just the “absence of disease” as the dictionary might define it. To the Health Hound, it means more than just enjoying good physical health and fitness; it is also about emotional and spiritual well-being. In that respect “good health” includes not only maintaining good level of energy and vitality, but also an ability to reduces stress, and enjoy life. You can only do that by feeling good about yourself – and that comes down to the old but true adage – you are what you eat.
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