As a teacher and trainer, I work with women everyday that are trying to improve their fitness. More often than not, this involves some element of weight loss. A common complaint I hear during initial consultations is a frustration that they are not losing weight even though they might be working out as many as 5 days a week. My question to them is ALWAYS “How is your diet?” At first, the answers will be the same…my diet is great, I’m eating all the right things etc etc. Fully convinced that their diet is NOT part of the problem. But then, after digging into what they’re really eating on a daily basis, it inevitably comes to this: Their diet IS the problem.
We have been so brainwashed by advertising and fad diets that we don’t even know what to eat anymore. We jump from one diet to the next thinking it will hold the secret to help us finally drop the last 10 pounds. Low carb, no carb, sugar- free, fat-free, cookies galore….have you tried any of these? Are you scanning the internet and pinterest looking for the secret to weight loss? Well you can stop doing that because today is your lucky day! I’m going to divulge secrets.
So here are my top 5 things you need to work on this week or even better yet start TODAY. I want to give you the knowledge so you can make educated decisions about what you put into your body. Results come from commitment. Let’s do this!
1. BE DONE WITH ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS – Eat the real stuff! This is one of the first things I say to my clients and students. We use these sweeteners to cut back on calories and try to avoid gaining weight but the reality is artificial sweeteners actually make you gain weight and crave sweets. There are studies that confirm that artificial sweeteners are linked to obesity since they increase appetite and slow metabolism. In addition, they cause abdominal bloating…which is never a good thing especially if you are trying to work on your belly pooch. Start reading the ingredients on food labels. Your body has a much easier time processing real food versus a chemical concoction. So check your drinks, yogurts, snacks, sweets and gum for artificial sweeteners. Pay attention to how your cravings are changing in a good way since you are no longer ingesting these sugar substitutes.
2. CUT THE SALT – Do you ever feel bloated or puffy after eating certain foods? You can’t live without salt but if you are taking in too much of it, you are probably retaining water. Salt won’t increase your body fat BUT you may experience weight gain after eating foods high in sodium. So what’s high in sodium?
- Processed foods
- Lunch meat
- Frozen dinners
- Soy sauce
- Pickled foods
- Many restaurant meals
Start paying attention to the sodium content on food labels. Your goal is to stay around 1500 mg per day. Many of us are taking in twice that amount. Track your daily sodium content this week. How do you score?
3. FIBER – The secret is to fill up on fiber rich foods. Fiber prevents weight gain and encourages weight loss. Your goal is eat 25-35 grams of fiber every day so you fill up on fiber rich foods and phase out the less healthy stuff.
Here are a few foods to get you started in boosting your fiber intake.
- Apple – 5 grams of fiber
- Raspberries – 8 grams of fiber
- Pear – 6 grams of fiber
- Black Beans – 6 grams per cup
- High fiber cereal (ex. Kashi Go Lean) – 10 grams of fiber
4. WATER IS YOUR SECRET WEAPON – Drink up! Drink at least 8 cups per day. Dehydration actually slows down your metabolism and the fat burning process. Drinking water helps flush toxins out of your body and also boosts your metabolism. Not only that, but water gives you a more full feeling that can help to curb bad snacking. Try replacing your sugary drinks with water.
5. SLEEP – Yes, getting adequate sleep helps you lose weight. This is not a myth. Your body functions best when it is well rested, typically 7-9 hours. When you don’t get enough sleep it affects your hormone balance. It causes a decrease in leptin, the hormone that tells you when you are full. It also causes an increase in ghrelin, the hormone that tells you to go eat and promotes fat retention. So when these hormones are off, the result is increased food intake, cravings, and slower metabolism. This will definitely not help you reach your fitness goals!
Grab a notebook and track what you eat over the next few days. Be honest! Analyze it and try to make adjustments to your diet in the areas I recommended. If it feels too overwhelming to incorporate all of them at once, then just start with doing one of them. The important thing is that you actually start as taking consistent small steps ultimately results in big changes.
This post is sponsored by:
The Brett Saks Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, hopes to make our Arizona communities safer for bicyclists by teaching adults and children about road safety and mutual respect between drivers and cyclists in fun and engaging ways. We are “Shifting Gears to Saves Lives,” as more than 600 cyclists are lost each year to car-bike accidents. Learn more at gearupaz.org.