Let’s review each basic concept of weight loss to make sure you are tracking with me.
Weight-Loss Principle #1. Include a good source of protein with every meal.
When planning your meal, start with the protein. Some excellent sources of protein are fish, chicken, turkey, moderate amounts of beef, tofu, and eggs. Contrary to what you may have read in other sources, each one of these foods provides a well-balanced source of amino acids. You will want to limit beef because it can be pro-inflammatory, but you may enjoy it every two weeks or so. Always try to buy organic.
Weight-Loss Principle #2. Eat a large portion of greens with both lunch and dinner.
This can take the form of a salad (see the Basic Salad recipe in Appendix A) or lightly steamed greens like beans or broccoli. You may also include other vegetables, such as cauliflower, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, jicama, and others. There are over one hundred varieties of vegetables on the American market. Learn to enjoy them. Season with lots of herbs, garlic, or a little butter. Be creative!
Weight-Loss Principle #3. Strictly limit foods that are high in carbohydrates.
Limit foods like rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, and most of all, grains. Especially be careful to avoid all bread and pasta products. I know of no surer way to start dropping excess weight than by eliminating all wheat products from your diet!
Refer back to the Glycemic Index in chapter 6 and avoid foods that are high on the glycemic index. With every meal, include a protein portion along with beneficial fats to further slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream.
Weight-Loss Principle #4. Exercise moderately every day.
Check with your physician before embarking on an exercise program, especially if you are more than twenty-five pounds overweight or you have a physical condition that must be monitored by a professional. Even if your condition is compromised by obesity or another health challenge, your doctor can put together a program that will be right for you.
Don’t take lightly my injunction to exercise. If you are going to achieve weight control and maintain your overall health, you must get off the couch and get moving! Your body was meant to move, not to sit. Every part of your body will work better if you are involved in regular, sustained exercise.
Exercise helps relieve symptoms of asthma, improves your mood, and benefits your cardiovascular system.
Exercise lifts depression, reduces the risk of colon cancer, and helps normalize insulin levels.
Exercise is good for your back and your bones and helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Exercise increases the production of endorphins and reduces chronic pain.
Exercise makes you think more clearly.
Exercise increases your metabolic rate by stimulating the activity of your thyroid gland.
Exercise reduces stress, which reduces toxic levels of cortisone and other stress hormones.
Exercise builds muscles, which makes your body burn calories more efficiently and reduces the risk of obesity.
Exercise helps control diabetes and menstrual cycles.
Name one part of the body and I’ll name at least one benefit that body part will receive from exercise! One physician felt so strongly about exercise that he titled one of the chapters in his book “If You Can’t Walk, Crawl.”
We all know that exercise burns calories. Professional dieters know exactly how many calories each type of exercise will burn and how long it takes! But beyond its calorie-burning capacity, exercise helps build lean muscle tissue—the ally of the chronically obese.
Skeletal muscle makes up about 45 percent of the total body mass and is metabolically active, depending on the amount of physical activity engaged in. Energy production, therefore, is enhanced by increasing the activity and size of the muscle mass of the body, particularly the cardiac and skeletal muscles. Put simply, the more muscle you have, the more energy you burn, and the easier it is to trim your figure.
If you want to balance your energy requirements, you want to build more muscle in relation to fat. And this is the primary reason the chronically overweight person needs to exercise. Exercise increases the metabolic rate of the entire body.
I am probably the best person to discuss exercise because I loathe it. I don’t like walking (it’s boring), riding bikes (it’s dangerous), running (it’s painful), swimming (I don’t know how), or aerobics (all of the above). I’ve never enjoyed any activity more strenuous than strolling through my flower garden or pecking away at my computer.
But when I started complaining about recurring back problems, weight gain, hormonal challenges, and numerous other “age-related” conditions, my naturopathic doctor gently started nagging me: “Started your exercise program yet? Your back will stop hurting when you start exercising. Hmmm, not exercising yet, are you?” Finally, I listened to him, got up off the chair, put an exercise video into the video machine, and started moving around a little.
“To my enjoyment, Carol has introduced me to a whole new way of eating that satisfies my hunger and meets my nutritional needs, with even a few goodies thrown in.”
I’m not going to tell you my workout time is my favorite part of the clay (I’m a truthful woman). But I will say that my back doesn’t hurt anymore. I’m more flexible, I can walk up a flight of stairs without suffering cardiac arrest, and my hormones have settled down into a comfortable pattern. I’m not as stressed, and I get some of my most creative ideas on the treadmill. I’m losing that extra five pounds of fat, too.
While I don’t particularly like to exercise, I love the way my body feels when I do it. And that is enough motivation for even this middle-aged, sedentary woman!
Weight-Loss Principle #5 Drink water!
What is and what is not water? Water is water (with a little lemon or lime juice for flavor, if desired). Water is caffeine-free herbal teas. Water is not coffee, soft drinks, or fruit juice. Water is not soup or any other beverage. Water is water. Period.
Your body is over 65 percent water. Water is just as essential to the body as food and is used for extremely critical body functions. For example, every enzymatic reaction that occurs in the body requires water. Without it, life ceases. Maintaining that 65 percent water content is so important that even if your body drops just 1 percent fluid level, dehydration sets in, and if the body becomes just 5 percent dehydrated, serious health consequences follow. You must drink water! By the time you feel thirsty, you’re already 1 percent dehydrated.
You need to drink eight to ten eight-ounce glasses of water each day just to hydrate the tissues and eliminate toxic waste. Most people drink far less than that amount. It is especially critical to increase water intake during weight loss, because as the body drops its load of fat, a certain amount of toxins are released into the bloodstream and sent to the liver and kidneys. You’ve got to give these organs enough water to move the waste out of the body.