10 Simple Tips to Start Losing Weight Right Now

Photo credit: Alan Cleaver CC-BY-2.0

The holidays are over and now you’re faced with having to lose all those unwanted pounds.  The simplest approach to weight loss is to eat less and exercise more. However, most of you know it is not that simple. You can achieve long-term weight loss, but you need to be determined and committed to making fitness and healthy eating a priority in your life. Having a plan of action is essential if you want to lose weight permanently and improve the overall quality of your life.  Here are 10 simple tips to help you start losing weight right now and take back control of your health.

 1. Eat a protein-rich breakfast every day.  This will help curb your appetite for the rest of the day, as well as keep your blood sugar levels in check.  Jump-start your day with a Whey protein shake or a whole-food shake and throw in a cup of fresh berries. Your brain and body will thank you for it.
2. Stock your pantry and refrigerator with nutrient-dense foods and snacks, such as apples, carrots, broccoli, nuts, celery, eggs, low-fat yogurt, lean meats and plenty of green leafy vegetables. Remove all junk foods and refined carbs from your diet. These foods will not only disrupt your metabolism, but also cause your body work to overtime at removing the additives, fat and chemicals. 
3. Eat your fiber! Vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains are all abundant in fiber.  Consuming fiber-rich foods not only helps to normalize your blood sugar levels, but also fills you up leaving less room for unhealthy choices. 
4. Eat nutritious foods EVERY day.  Most of us have heard of the term “yo-yo” dieting.  To avoid this, you need to establish consistent, healthy eating habits. A cheat meal is okay at the end of the week, but not a cheat weekend! You’ll only regain all the weight you may have lost during the week.  Why would you want to work your butt off in the gym and eat right all week, and then completely ruin all your efforts in one weekend? Don’t do it!
5. Control portion sizes.  Being aware of the amount and quality of food you eat is absolutely critical to losing weight and keeping it off. To help you better understand what proper portion sizes look like, simply compare the serving sizes of particular foods to familiar physical objects.  For example, one orange is the size of a baseball and meat is about the size of a deck of cards.  Or, you can visit health websites such as choosemyplate.gov or nutritiondata.com  to plan, analyze, and track your diet and physical activity.
6. Set lifestyle goals – not weight loss goals. Eating healthy foods on a regular basis does gradually lead to healthy weight loss. Avoid weighing yourself every day, which will only cause discouragement and make you want to give up and go back to unhealthy food choices. Instead, weight yourself one time per week at the same time of day.
7. Take nutritious, energy boosting snacks with you when you travel. Grab healthy granola bars, trail mix with nuts & dried fruit, apples, bananas, baby carrots, whole grain crackers, etc… to prevent the temptation of reaching for less nutritious options.
8. Don’t deprive yourself. Eat that piece of chocolate if you really want it, but don’t overindulge and avoid giving into temptation on a daily basis.  All those empty calories DO add up, so save them for when you REALLY want them. 
9. Move your body! Regular exercise is the key to long-term weight loss. If you don’t burn off what you take in, you will gain weight. Include both cardio and strength training into your fitness routine. 
10. Keep track of your progress in a journal.  Keeping a written log of your nutrition and exercise habits will help you to see where you need improvement, as well as keep you motivated and accountable.  You’ll also want to write down how you feel each day, so you can see how your emotions affect your eating.

Getting Motivated to Exercise

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You hear it almost every day. You see it on television. You read it on the Internet. You NEED to exercise! We all know we should do it, but sometimes it’s difficult to get motivated to exercise. It can be especially difficult to stay motivated and focused on your fitness goals during the holidays. Busy schedules and visiting family and friends should not prevent you from continuing to exercise regularly. You can plan around family gatherings and holiday commitments. You can find ways to help you get motivated and stay motivated to exercise.
Ask yourself, “What are my personal reasons for starting a fitness and exercise regime in the first place?” Did you start exercising to lose weight or to maintain your current weight? Perhaps you started working out to strengthen your bones and reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis and other bone diseases. Maybe you started working out to reduce your risk of heart disease or to reduce your risk of developing diabetes. Whatever got you motivated to start exercising can motivate you to keep at it. Start a fitness journal and write down all the reason you started to exercise. When you feel like skipping your evening jog or going home after work instead of stopping by the gym, open your journal and look at the reasons you started in the first place.
It can be tough to stay motivated if you aren’t seeing the results you expect. You should adjust your expectations by setting realistic goals. It’s not healthy and nearly impossible to lose 10 pounds in one week. You aren’t going to develop bulging biceps after 3 sets on of biceps curls. A fitness expert, such as a personal trainer, can help you develop a fitness program with a realistic time-frame that will help you achieve your goals.
Stop thinking of exercise as a chore. You should adjust your exercise routine if you become bored or if working out seems like work. Exercise should be something you look forward to and something that you enjoy. Exercise does not have to be jumping jacks, push-ups or sweating on a treadmill for an hour. Exercise can be any physical activity. Do physical activities that you enjoy. Walk the dog for 30 minutes each day. Take your kids to the park, run around and play tag for half an hour every other day. You can also get physical activity by just changing the way you do things. Ride a bicycle to the market instead of driving. Get off the bus a couple of blocks from your house and walk home.

Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

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The holidays are a time for great friends and good food. Sometimes all that good food can go to your hips, belly and thighs. You should enjoy the seasonal treats but not so much that your New Year’s Resolution is to lose those 5 pounds you gained over Christmas. Here are some simple tips to help you avoid packing on the pounds during the holidays.
Focus on your friends and conversation instead of the holiday treat and banquet table. Don’t stand near the table to chat either. You might find yourself mindlessly snacking while you talk with friends and family.
Take your time while eating your holiday dinner. Have a glass of water before you sit down to eat. Water will help you feel fuller faster as well as keeping you hydrated. We tend to overeat when we eat fast. Chew slowly and savor your meal. You will enjoy your food more and feel full sooner. Keep a glass of water on the table and take a drink occasionally.

If your friends and family lay out a sumptuous buffet, take the smallest plate available. Your plate will look full with less food than a big dinner plate. Don’t pile your plate high with food. Limit yourself to one serving and don’t stack food on your plate. Choose as many fresh fruits and vegetables as are available. Watch out for sauces and dips! These may contain hundreds of calories. Holiday cocktails often contain hundreds of calories too. Enjoy your eggnog slowly and limit yourself to one drink, especially if your eggnog contains alcohol. Drink in moderation. 


Should You Exercise If You Have The Flu?

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The best way to avoid the flu is to keep your immune system strong and avoid people who are already infected. Feed your immune system by eating a nutritious diet that includes foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Stress can affect your immune system, too. Exercise is a good way to reduce stress, stimulate your immune system and keep your body healthy. Despite your best efforts, you may get the flu anyway. Should you exercise if you have the flu?

Stress can have a negative impact on your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections. Exercise helps to reduce stress while you get fit. Exercising causes your brain to release hormones called endorphins, which relax your body and help you achieve a feeling of well-being. White blood cells help to fight infections by attacking bacteria and viruses in your body. Exercising moves your blood cells, including white blood cells, through your body faster. Moving these infection fighting cells through your body faster helps to prevent a cold or flu from getting the upper hand on your immune system.
Daily moderate exercise can help boost your immune system, but should you continue to exercise if you have a fever and the aches and pains of the flu? You might want to take a few days off from exercising to allow your body time to fight the infection and heal. Don’t exercise if you have a fever. Exercise while you have a fever can exacerbate your symptoms and may cause dehydration. Stressing your body when your immune system is in overdrive to fight a flu infection may even prolong your suffering. A short walk on a treadmill might be just the boost your immune system needs or it might extend your suffering.  Pay attention to the signals your body sends and rest. If you have fever, aches, pains and feel miserable all over, take a few days off to recover. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

What Are Superfoods?

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You know you should eat a healthy diet that includes foods from a variety of food groups every day. But did you know that some foods provide more of the essential nutrients and minerals than other foods? Natural, unprocessed foods contain more nutrients than processed foods with none of the preservatives. Some are really loaded with important nutrients. We call these Superfoods.
If you want to get more of the healthy fatty acid Omega 3 in your diet, eat more fish. Omega 3 fatty acid-rich foods are good for your heart, joints and your brain. Omega 3s reduce your risk of arthritis, heart disease and may help reduce memory loss associated with aging and Alzheimer’s disease.
Berries are antioxidant superfoods that help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals cause inflammation and blueberries contain powerful antioxidants to help reduce inflammation. Blueberries help reduce your risk of heard disease and cancer, too. Tea is also a good source of antioxidants. Skip the soda and try a cup of green tea. 
Soy is a superfood that helps to lower your cholesterol. Including soy fiber as well as plant proteins from oats, almonds and barley, can help reduce the LDL, or bad, cholesterol that contributes to a number of chronic diseases, including hardening of the arteries. A diet rich in fiber from whole grains, fruits and vegetables will help your get your cholesterol under control and provide your body with all the fiber you need. Talk your doctor about your risk of breast cancer before adding soy to your diet. 


Ready for a Challenge?

If you are ready to take your fitness to the next level, then Beachbody is the way to do it. You will have support and encouragement every step of the way with home fitness programs, nutrition advice and easy-to-follow meal plans that nourish your body and taste great. A good way to get support and help to reach your fitness goals is to join a Beachbody Challenge Group. Beachbody Challenge Groups help you reach your goals faster! The Challenge Group package is designed to help you succeed. It includes your choice of fitness programs, a 30-day supply of Shakeology® and a free 30-day VIP membership trial to TeamBeachBody.com.
Shakeology© is a delicious drink that replaces one meal a day. It provides your body with whole-food nutrients to help you lose weight. If you replace one meal a day with a Shakeology® nutrition drink, exercise 3 times each week and eat a balanced diet, you can lose up to 10 pounds in 90 days. Some people lowered their bad (LDL) cholesterol by 38 percent! 
Join my Beachbody Challenge!

Full Ab Workouts

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Most of us could probably do with a little work in the abdomen area. You might have a pooch in front of love handles on the side or maybe you just aren’t happy with your shape. Spot reduction doesn’t work. You can’t lose fat in just one part of your body. No matter how many crunches you do, unless you burn fat all over your body by doing aerobic exercises combined with a lower calorie diet, you aren’t going to lose the pooch. However, regular exercise including ab slimming exercises, and a healthy diet, can help you slim, trim and firm your abs in a few weeks. Set aside 3 non-consecutive days each week to work on your abs.
Start your workout by focusing on your upper abdominal area. Your upper abs are found between your belly button and the bottom of your breast bone. Knee raises, sit-ups and crunches target these muscles. You can do these exercises on the floor, but to add a real punch to your crunches and sit-ups, do them while sitting on an stability ball. Do knee raises on an inclined exercise bench with your feet higher than your head to maximize the benefit of this exercise. Work your lower abs by doing pelvic lifts and reverse crunches. The obliques can be difficult to exercise. This area is where you get those not-so-loved love handles. Any exercise that twists your torso to the left and to the right will help strengthen these abdominal muscles. Russian twists are a good exercise for your obliques. Side planks help increase muscle strength in your obliques. 

Women, Do More Push-Ups!

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Women tend to shy away from strength training exercises because they don’t want bulky muscles. Women and men build muscle mass differently. Most women won’t develop bulging muscles from strength exercises. Push-ups work your whole body, especially your arms, chest and abs. Your legs and butt will develop lean, strong muscle too. Increasing the size of your pectoral muscles, located behind your breasts, can also give the appearance of a fuller breast. Women benefit from upper body and core strengthening exercises by increasing strength and greater endurance. You don’t need any equipment to do push-ups. Just do them!
Before you do any exercise, it’s important to warm up. Warming up your muscles before exercise helps to increase circulation and reduces the risk of injury. Increased circulation also loosens up stiff joints so exercise is easier. Do light to moderate exercise for 10 minutes to warm up your muscles and joints before exercise. Brisk walking, jumping jacks, jump rope or even marching in place are good ways to warm up. Stretch your muscles for 5 minutes after your warm-up before you start doing push-ups. 
Push-ups not only work your upper body, but also strengthen your core. A strong core helps improve your overall strength and endurance. Your balance will improve when your core muscles are stronger. The core muscles help to stabilize your spine and hips for better posture too. Squeeze your abs when doing push-ups to maximize the core-strengthening workout. 
Beginners may want to try wall push-ups or bent-knee push-ups. These push-ups are easier but still effective. Once your strength increases, switch to the regular push-up with your legs outstretched so that your body weight is supported by your hands and toes. Keep your body rigid and your abs tight when doing push-ups. Lower your upper body toward the floor, but don’t let your spine sag toward the floor. Push your body back upright. You’ve just done a push-up! Now, how many can you do? Start out slowly and try to do 4 or 5 push-ups. Gradually increase the number of push-ups you can do until you can do 20 push-ups before you give out. 

Is Your Pantry Making You Fat? Clean It Out!

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You spent a lot of money to stock your pantry. You have snacks, canned foods, quick meals, flour and oil. You’re stocked up for the month and chances are you will be eating what is in your pantry. The food choices in your pantry might be one of the reasons you can’t drop those last 10 pounds no matter how much you work out. Check your pantry for those diet-defeating goodies.

The worst foods for you and your family include those that are high in sugar, salt, solid fats and refined flour. Soda and sweetened drinks are the worst offenders for empty calories from sugar. Foods with empty calories are high in calories, but provide little or no nutritional benefit. Energy drinks are on this list too. Opt for tea and water instead. Sweetened cold cereals made using refined flour are big diet disasters. Choose cold cereals made with whole grains without any added sugar. 
Cakes and cupcakes are obviously going to add empty calories to your diet. Choose whole grain muffins, fresh or dry fruit and yogurt for deserts and snacks.  Popcorn can provide some fiber and nutrients, but steer clear of the extra butter and movie theater butter varieties. They can be loaded with saturated fat and sodium. The same is true of chips and cheese flavored snacks. Unsalted nuts are also a healthy snack choice. 

You expect Pop Tarts to be full of sugar (about 16 grams of sugar each) but you might be surprised to learn that even the more healthful sounding cereal bars or packaged muffins contain about the same amount of sugar (or more) than your typical toaster pastry. Otis Spunkmeyer brand muffins contribute about 30 grams of sugar per 4-ounce muffin, Weight Watchers muffins add about 20 grams of sugar per 2.2-ounce muffin, and a small Nutri-Grain cereal bar has 13 grams of sugar.
Most canned soups and canned vegetables contain a lot of sodium. Most canned foods contain an entire day’s worth of salt in just one serving. If you have high blood pressure, kidney disease or are just trying to cut down on your salt intake, these foods are a no-no. Select no-sodium or low-sodium varieties of your favorite canned soups. Buy fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned foods.  
You probably have some pasta in your pantry. Is it made with whole grain or refined flour? Switch to whole grain pasta to eliminate refined flour and add more fiber and nutrients to your pasta dishes. Use extra virgin olive oil and canola oil for cooking and salad dressing to eliminate saturated fat from your diet.

Quick Cardio for Busy People

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“I don’t have time to exercise.” Have you said this? No matter how busy you are you always have time to exercise. It would be best if you could find time to do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise each day. If you can’t manage a whole half hour, set aside just 15 minutes each day to do some cardio exercises. Your body will thank you. 
Exercise machines are available in every gym. These days even most small towns have a gym with a treadmill, an elliptical machine, a stair-stepper and an exercise bike. Plan your route to and from work so that you have to drive past the gym to remind you to stop in for 15 minutes and work up a good sweat before going home. Stair-steppers, ellipticals and stationary bikes are low-impact exercise machines, so they are easy on your joints. Your legs and abs will get a good workout too. 
Swimming places virtually no impact on your joints, but is a whole body strengthening cardio exercise. The water supports the weight of your body so swimming is ideal for people who have knee pain or have difficulty doing weight-bearing exercises. The water creates resistance that your muscles have to work against as you swim through the water. Even if you don’t know how to swim, you can still take advantage of your local swimming pool. Water walking is a vigorous cardio workout.

Try some equipment-free cardio exercises in the comfort of your own home in less than 15 minutes. Jump roping, mountain climbers, dancing, stair climbing, burpees, jump squats, kickboxing and jogging are all excellent choices to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time.

The easiest way for busy people to get a good cardio workout is to walk. Walking is low-impact and you don’t need special equipment to do it. Walking increases your breathing and strengthens your heart. Because walking is a weight-bearing exercise, it’s good for your bones too. A brisk 15-minute walk each day before work, during your lunch break or after work can help you stay fit. Combine your walk with a low-calorie diet and you can lose weight, too.