Most rapid weight loss programs are not recommended for very good reasons. They often rely on unsustainable methods and are generally unhealthy in both means and in the yo-yo dieting effects. This article outlines my successful 5-step health plan which I created back in February 2007. Three years later, I'm still 25 pounds lighter.
Many people lose weight to `look' better, including me. This time, my intention from the beginning was to `feel' better. I focused on healthy living (rather than the scale) and truly believe this shift in perspective was instrumental to my success. After shedding my extra weight, I felt lighter in body, mind and spirit. My concentration, energy and overall well-being tripled!
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The following is what I did to lose 25 pounds in 3 months. After consulting your doctor, try incorporating any or all of the following steps into your individually designed health plan:
STEP #1: THREE IMPORTANT WEIGHT LOSS FACTS
1) You MUST burn more calories than you consume
My trick here is to simply slow down while eating. I became more conscious while eating, taking my time, rolling the food around and chewing until there was nothing left in my mouth before swallowing. Eventually, depending on how active I was during the day, my portions were cut almost in half. I was eating almost every two hours: breakfast, lunch, dinner and two small, healthy snacks (e.g. half a banana and a few raw almonds) once in the AM and once in the PM. My stomach was never empty, nor was it ever too full. Eating smaller portions and more often throughout the day while truly enjoying my food kept me satisfied. Some experts say this raises metabolism.
2) Building muscle raises your metabolism
The higher your metabolism, the more calories you burn when you're doing nothing. And you don't even have to use weights at first, your own body weight will do wonders! (see below)
3) Activity is supposed to be fun
While I was developing the habit of daily activity, I did what I wanted to do and took it easy at first. Most people, like myself, overdue it at the beginning because they're all psyched up to lose weight. However, the fat burning heart rate zone is where you can comfortably talk during your activity and where you're just about to break a sweat.
As mentioned above, I DID NOT focus on losing weight but rather my goal was to feel healthier and stronger. I did what I could on my low days, simply making sure that I fulfilled my commitment to be active everyday. At this stage, it's far more important to create a daily habit than it is to lose weight. On days when I failed to meet my daily minimum, I congratulated myself on the activity I did accomplish.
STEP #2: THE POWER OF PROTEIN IN WEIGHT LOSS
Protein helps build muscle and leaves you feeling fuller longer. Make sure you add healthy protein to every meal. Mornings were the most difficult for me in achieving this and I found the solution in adding protein powder to smoothies. Smoothies are extremely nutritious, easy to digest meals that are uber convenient to prepare when you're on the go. This smoothie tip allows you to consume a complete breakfast which is an important factor to kick-starting your metabolism for the day. It prevents your body from going into starvation mode and storing calories when you do finally eat.
STEP #3: THE MOST MAGICAL LIQUID
Water is your friend. It facilitates all body functions, helps with weight loss and makes you feel full. I have 4 to 6 pints throughout the day depending on my activity level. (Starting with a warm glass of lemon water first thing in the AM to activate the kidneys).
STEP #4: POIGNANT PROMISES
Most government health agencies recommend a minimum of 30 minutes per day of light to medium cardio (walking, biking, swimming, rollerblading). This was my original goal in order to develop a daily activity habit and start down a healthier path. If I felt energetic on a given day, I'd treat myself to an extra 30 minutes, sometimes more.
I also made a commitment to strengthen my core (abs, butt and lower back). All movement originates from the core and when it's strong, posture improves and makes you appear thinner and more confident! A personal trainer suggested 5 core exercises: the plank, crunches, the bicycle, the bird dog and the butterfly. However, I chose my own minimums and took it slow in the beginning. I determined how many reps made a set and started with one set of each exercise. I did these exercises everyday for about 20 - 30 minutes while I watched TV! And, of course, I stretched and felt like a million bucks - it helps SO much with stress. As I grew stronger, my desire for challenge allowed me to work my way up to the trainer's suggested reps and sets. However, when I finally achieved his recommendations, I also gave myself a couple of days between these core workouts so that my muscles could repair.
STEP #5: CLEANSING
After researching the topic of cleansing, and instead of following one program, I made my own up with the aid of the "Prescription for Nutritional Healing" (4th Ed) which explains why you should cleanse and gives you lists of the best natural cleansers (herbs, foods, supplements, etc.) for the blood, kidneys, lungs, skin and bowels.
This is my individualized cleansing program (for 1 month):
(Week 1-2) Preparing to fast:
I weaned myself off sugar, other stimulants (coffee, cigarettes and alcohol), meats, fish and dairy. Slowly, by the third week my diet was down to fruits, veggies, and nuts (I did have hard-boiled eggs, though, and looked online for Vegan recipes which helped).
(Week 3) Baby Food - Fast - Baby Food
Three days before the fast, I blended all my food. This prepared my digestive system for the fast so it wasn't shocked with a lack of food. Plan your fast days on the weekend to allow for relative inactivity; your body isn't getting food to convert into energy. I didn't eat anything on my fast but drank 6 pints per day of lemon water with 2 tbsp. of natural maple syrup and some cayenne pepper (recipe from the Master Cleanse), the juice from boiled veggies and pure fruit juices cut with water to replace meals.
After the two day fast, I followed it up with more blended raw foods (3 days).
(Week 4) Back to the beginning...but on a much lower key
I slowly reintroduced solid food back into my system, beginning with a vegan diet. By the end of my month of cleansing, I felt light, energetic, clear-headed, decisive, confident, and for the most part: calm, cool and collected. The bonus was my improved digestion: my gas and foul-smelling movements were non-existent!
For more on cleansing, check out this article, "Gentle Cleanse for First Timers".
When trying to lose weight, remember that nature craves efficiency. If you aim for health, listen to your body, question past habits and look for ways to develop healthier ways of living, weight loss naturally follows.
Steph Miller is a professional writer and blogger from Toronto, Canada. Her greatest passion lies in natural, healthy living and in sharing her healthy weight-loss success story, knowledge and tips as Head Health Nutter on her blog, Live Lighter.
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