Horseman’s Health: Shedding Those Holiday Pounds

Madalyn on horseWelcome to a new year and the end of the 2016 holiday season! Many of us find ourselves entering the new year with a few extra pounds from all the tasty, but maybe not so healthy foods we indulged in over the holidays. After all who can say no to Grandma’s homemade pies. As a result, we make a New Year resolution to eat healthier and lose weight. One problem many of us face however is that it is winter and that means we are spending more time indoors and not getting enough exercise to work off the extra weight unless you are into winter sports activities like skiing. There are still a lot of strategies to use to help in burning off those extra pounds though and help you be successful with your New Year resolution of losing weight and eating healthier.

Planning To Lose
Experts such as assistant professor of psychology at East Carolina University, Lesley Lutes, PhD, suggests keeping a written account of what you eat, when you eat, and how you exercise now to find your trouble spots and places to make changes to your current habits. Research from one study reported that participants who kept a food journal such as this lost double the amount of weight compared to those who didn’t keep a written account. Evaluate your habits as they are now and write down several small simple goals to begin working on one at a time. Avoid using measurements of success such as a number of pounds to lose as there are factors involved in weight loss that won’t actually be reflected on the scale. For example, as you start eating healthier and exercising more, you may be developing more muscle which weighs more than fat. So while you are really slimming down and getting rid of fat, the number on your scale may not be that much less. This causes frustration, discouragement and leads to many of us abandoning our new weight loss goals. Instead use a measurement of success more like being able to fit into a smaller clothes size or finding that your clothes are looser or just finding you have more energy.

An alternative to setting several small goals is to take your bigger goal and break it down into small steps; concentrating on just accomplishing each step one at a time. In the Annals of Behavioral Medicine research found that participants lost as much as twice the amount of belly fat, two and a half inches off the waistline and four times as much overall weight in a four month period by making just one small change of habit in diet or exercise. Making long lasting changes to eating habits and exercise give you tools to use for your lifetime to stay healthy and keep weight down instead of just losing a few pounds that you may gain back later as is common with traditional dieting. Use your journal to help you find the small goals to concentrate on. For instance, if you discover that in mid-afternoon you drink a soda or get a candy bar to get an energy boost to get through the day, start by cutting that out of your routine. Break the goal down as small as you need to in order to be successful. If it’s too stressful to cut out that soda completely, start by cutting it out one day a week, then 2 days and so on. There are no rules; just find what works for you to be successful in meeting goals no matter how small they are.

Planning Meals
Planning your meals ahead of time can help you meet your weight loss goals and establish life-long eating habit changes. If you find in your food journal that you eat out a lot, especially at fast food restaurants, then start by making a commitment to make more of your meals at home. According to nutrition consultant, Ashley Koff, RD, meals you make yourself allow you to control the size, quality of food, and amounts of salt and sugar used which can all lead to weight loss. Plan days that you will bring a healthy brown bag lunch to work or school rather than grabbing a hamburger and fries. Even if you start with committing to just one day a week; it’s a start. Don’t worry if you are a good cook or not, anyone can cut up some fruit or veggies, make a salad, or make a healthy sandwich. When making your own meals consider including a lean protein, healthy fat and vegetables low in carbs into each meal. Including protein in your meals can increase your metabolism significantly to help burn off more calories and help you feel more satisfied so that you snack less and allow you to eat as much as 441 calories less each day. Cutting down on sugar and starch from carbohydrates will help you lose weight because these types of foods increase your insulin secretion which is a big cause of fat storage in the body. Lowering insulin levels helps the body burn fat easier and helps the kidneys get rid of the extra water and sodium that can result in bloating and water weight gain. Studies have reported just lowering the amount of these types of foods in your diet can help you lose up to ten pounds rather quickly.

Another option for planning your meals is to see what is the most unhealthy food you eat regularly that you listed in your journal. Then work towards cutting down on that food until it is completely extinguished from your diet or is just used as an occasional treat. I had a friend who worked in an office that provided donuts in the break room and could not resist grabbing her favorite custard filled, chocolate frosted donut most morning when it was staring her in the face. Her goal of cutting down to only indulging once a month helped her not only start losing weight, but gave her a treat to look forward to rather than feeling deprived. This attitude made it easier to count this as a long lasting change rather than a short–lived goal. Her next goal is to cut the donut in half for her once a month treat.

Let Your Gut Help
While you are working on your healthy eating goals, get the most out of the foods you eat by breaking them down into forms the body can use up instead letting undigested food be stored as belly fat. That means adding more digestive enzymes to your diet. You can get extra enzymes by adding lots of raw and lightly cooked fruits and vegetables to your meals or by taking a high quality digestive enzyme supplement. Taking probiotics such as acidophilus, bifidus and a full spectrum probiotic supplement helps keep your digestive system working at peak level to also help get all the nutrition out of your food and less fat storage. A body getting all the nutrition it needs is less likely to have unhealthy food cravings. AFA bluegreen algae is loaded with wholefood vitamins, minerals, micronutrients and chlorophyll that is useful in supporting the intestinal lining, digestion, and nourishing the body on a cellular level. You can get the AFA bluegreen algae for wholefood nutrition and the enzymes and probiotics for digestive support all together in easy to take anywhere daily packets.

More Weight Loss Tips
When making your weight loss plan, here are some other tips you can include to increase your success of losing weight, keeping it off, and making long lasting changes to how and what you eat.
Slow Down – Eating slower gives your brain and stomach time to communicate. Don’t worry about cleaning your plate, just eat until your hunger is satisfied. Aaron M. Cypess, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine at the Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School also advises that peptide hormones which suppress appetite are triggered by chewing so the longer you chew your food, the less you are likely to eat.

Eat More for Less – Pamela Peeke, MD and author of The Hunger Fix gives the tip of eating small meals or snack sized meals every 3 to 4 hours to keep from becoming hungry. Once you get to the hungry state you are more likely to grab whatever is easy and close at hand, eat more and crave unhealthy foods.

Can’t Just Say No – If there is a certain food you just can’t seem to cut down on or cut out of your diet, then do as JJ Virgin, author of The Virgin Diet, recommends and allow yourself three small bites. This gives you enough taste to satisfy the craving without feeling deprived, but cuts out the calories you’d get from eating the whole thing.

Snack Healthy – When snack cravings pop up, have a list of healthy alternatives available. Look for foods with the least amount of sugar, simple carbs, and trans fats. This snack bar makes a great tasting snack with the nutrition of AFA bluegreen algae, sprouted grains and greens.

Check the Clock – Mark Hyman, MD, author of UltraMetabolism, tells us that the metabolism is slower when we are sleeping. Stop eating around 3 hours before going to sleep to avoid fat storage resulting from the metabolism slow-down time.

Sleep Your Weight Off – Be sure to get enough good quality sleep as not enough sleep causes the body to produce more ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite. Lack of sleep can also add to our stress levels which increases cortisol production that can lead to fat storage. Manuel Villacorta, RD, author of Eating Free, recommends deep breathing, meditation or other types of stress relievers to deal with the extra stress and cortisol.

Drinking Weight Away – Green tea has EGCG which studies such as one at Penn State report can lower fat absorption. Three to five cups a day gives a boost to your metabolism and provides extra antioxidants to help repair damage from free radicals. Drinking cold water allows your body to burn more calories by warming the water up to body temperature. Drinking water throughout the day also helps you to feel full thus cutting down on snacking. Drinking water before exercising releases hormones that help you build muscle.

I hope this year is a great one for you and that you find your way to lifestyle changes to stay healthier than you’ve ever been. See which of these tips help you meet your healthy living goals or get you started to creating others that will work for you.

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