Reduce sugar. Sugar used to be traded as a commodity back in the days of tall ships and royalty, now it is the single most used and abused filler in food today.
Sugar hides in all sorts of foods, and can be natural to downright nasty. High fructose corn syrup is to be avoided at all costs, and artificial sugars are worse than natural of course. In January of this year, I went sugar free for six weeks, and dropped all of my ‘Christmas weight’, 15 pounds. Sugar in sauces, spreads, drinks, and all those supposed health foods is really the biggest key to fat loss. Think those store bought granola bars, breakfast cereals and bran muffins are healthy? Read the ingredients.
I am willing to bet they are loaded with sugar – which is making you fat.
Get some sleep. I know this is one of my biggest failings, I do too much and sleep too little. It directly affects my ability to drop the final five pounds, and fully benefit from the training I do. Eight hours is the average goal, and everyone is a little different, and age matters. If you’re not getting adequate amounts of rest, you’re more likely to be hungry, overeat, and gain weight. This gets me a lot! I work late, really late, then I get super hungry because my body is running on empty and needs rest, instead of resting, I grab a snack. What am I craving that late at night?
Carbs – which go straight to fat storage.
As a rule, if this is chronic, when you’re tired, you don’t feel like cooking a healthy meal, and you’re more likely to opt for fast (fattening) food. You know this to be true – how often do you come home exhausted, and just order take out because it is easy and tasty. Another problem with being tired is that your lack of energy causes you to skip your workouts.
Then it gets worse, sleep deprivation causes your metabolism to slow down, slowing or reversing your results. Sleep is important, just ask any baby.
Drink water only. This is probably one of the hardest things to manage in summer. We are all hooked on soda, juice, fancy coffee or tea and alcohol. While fine once in a while – these beverages are all loaded with empty calories which go straight to fat cells. The diet versions are loaded with chemicals that do more damage than I care to mention.
Keep in mind that your brain often confuses thirst with hunger. So at the first sign of hunger, don’t grab a snack or calorie-filled drinks. Instead, grab a glass of water. Water does so many wonderful things for us: flushes out cellular debris, increases metabolism and immune function, hydrates muscles so they work better, helps skin to be healthy and repair itself, and so much more. Stay hydrated, stay fit and stay lean.
Always eat breakfast. But not just any breakfast. A balanced breakfast which is high in protein, with some fat and some healthy carbs. Try eggs, lean breakfast meats, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, or a protein shake. Add in some healthy fresh fruit or veggies and you will set up the day right!
Appropriate exercise intensity. Over and over again I see people working out with their cell phones at their fingertips, or a magazine always in hand. Another common occurrence is people wandering around wondering what to do next, or chatting more than working out. That’s fine, unless your goal is to change and get fit. If you can read a magazine and text your friends on your cell while you work out, you are not working out.
For most people, this is the most difficult lifestyle change of all, but the benefits are enormous. A 30-minute intense workout on most days of the week will blow away the results of the cell phone crowd.
Three 30-minute strength sets, and three 30 to 60 minute cardio sessions of purpose a week, with a day off – and your results will dramatically change.
The quickest and most permanent way to beat that fat loss plateau is through a combination of healthy eating and consistent, challenging workouts.
Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.