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No More Weight Watchers…5 Steps Toward Optimal Weight

20 J0000009UTC 2011

Lil' Smokies!

Are you getting bread butt from little exercise and a busy schedule? Are you anticipating holiday cookie exchanges, office parties and lil’ smokies? Maybe you are trying a diet for the first time…or the tenth. Well, it’s time to put down that new diet book, shut down the new diet program and slowly back away. Fad diets sometimes work, but when you stop the diet, the weight loss magic is over. From a biological, nutritional standpoint (more than calories and “nutrient information” on the back of the box) weight loss and weight maintenance involves unique metabolism, endocrinology, blood sugar regulation and good, plain common sense.

Here are my top 5 ways to begin moving toward your optimal weight…naturally.

1. Eat Better Food. This is absolutely key to finding one’s optimal weight (often weight loss). When you begin a slow but steady shift away from processed foods (frozen meals, bakery bread, packaged deli meat, boxed crackers, packaged cookies, diet or regular soda and fabricated “low fat” items) and toward real food (colorful vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, meat, fish, eggs), the body responds in a positive way. It recognizes, utilizes and burns real food as protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals, no longer baffled by weird science. The human body likes food, not science.

2. Eat Frequent Food. Don’t starve yourself between meals. This may seem like a good plan, but it pushes the panic button in your body, causing it to function as a storage facility rather than an energy production factory. When we eat regularly, we keep our blood sugar (glucose) from dropping, which also keeps the body from freaking out. Most people who have been eating the Standard American Diet need to eat a substantial protein-centered breakfast, a mid-morning snack, a healthy lunch, an afternoon snack and a dinner 2-3 hours before bedtime. Then we don’t gorge ourselves on queso at Casa Ole at 9pm.

3. Eat Enough Food, especially at breakfast. If you are only ingesting 1200 calories a day, you are starving yourself. Some evolutionary aspect of the self feels threatened, thus turning you into that storage facility, thinking it will not receive the calories it needs to survive the day or the upcoming week. It stores in the most effective way…fat. If you want to eat evenly, burn evenly and only store what you need (for your evening yoga class, trail run or episode of Glee), calculate (find help!) the right amount of calories for your size, age, activity level, stress level and sickness/wellness level. All aspects require calories.

The 3 o'clock croissant run.

4. Forego the 3 O’clock Pastry-and-Coffee Amble. Blood sugar often drops off in the afternoon. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is also the keep-you-going hormone. This is designed to peak in the morning (when we need to get up and go) and wane across the day. At 3pm it should naturally decrease. Unfortunately our work day is not allowed to drop off and become more relaxed. We still have 2-5 more hours + a soccer game + making dinner + a bit of clean up + getting ready for the next day. Not exactly how it’s supposed to be. Instead of the chocolate croissant and latte, opt for fruit, nuts/nut butter, green tea and even a bit of super dark chocolate.

5. Get Sweeter Sleep. Come up with a pattern and stick with it. I know with a newborn this won’t quite work, but for most of us it will. Decide on a time to shut off the TV and computers. Then a time for the overhead lights. Try a warm 5 minute shower, stretch, breathing exercise or cup of chamomile tea. Make your room as dark as possible and turn your clock or phone away from you. Get the pets out of the room, shut the door and try a noise machine. Wake up 15 minutes earlier if your mornings are uber-stressed-out.

Peaceful Brain from designtavernut

Anyone can do these five. It’s not a diet, but a way of life that is nourishing and peaceful to the body and the mind. It fills you up rather than depriving or depleting. It stays in tune with the body rather than kicking against it for the sake of American culture. So, put down the Weight Watchers and the Jenny Craig and give it a try.

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