Celeb Tips: Holiday Slimdown Secrets
The average person gains 7-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
It is easy to put on weight, but it’s not so easy to take it off come January. The holidays are not a license to throw your healthy lifestyle out the window. Rather, they should be a time to be even more aware of how you treat your body. Here are the top six ways that stars stay so fit through the holidays.
Plan your eating. Mark all of your holiday parties on a calendar and create a personal eating guideline for each event. Plan to eat lean the days before and after the party. Don’t waste calories on bad food! I always say: Make a plan or plan to fail.
Set a calorie curfew. Write down your calorie total for the day and be sure to stay within these numbers. Then set a curfew and don’t eat after it. A great curfew time is 8 p.m.
Go veggie crazy. If you like to nibble, then veggies are your best friend. It will take you all night to overeat if you’re eating fresh vegetables (without creamy dips); meanwhile, you can easily consume 100-200 calories with an ounce of cheese or a handful of nuts. Be honest with yourself ahead of time and set yourself up for success by bringing the veggie plate!
Stand firm. Don’t be intimidated, persuaded or cajoled into overindulging at a holiday gathering. When the hostess offers you something that isn’t right for you, smile and politely decline. You can say, “No thanks,” “I’m stuffed,” or “I’m allergic.” If all else fails, take a cue from your kids and simply say, “I’m sorry, but I just don’t like that.”
Begin with the end in mind. Winners always do this. Don’t start your day with a latte and bagel. Instead, start your day off with a metabolism-boosting protein shake or egg whites. By preparing, you set the eating tone for your day. The same goes for parties: Go in prepared. Don’t starve yourself and enter a party ravenous. Instead, eat clean and go to the party sated. That way, you can control the food instead of letting it control you.
Don’t forget to exercise. Studies have shown that when people exercise, they tend to eat better. Exercise more when there are lots of parties happening. Add an extra walk or cardio session to what you are already doing. It will not only burn extra calories, but it will keep you out of trouble. Instead of baking, do more cardio. And remember not to set unrealistic goals: Aim for progress, not perfection.
Energy Drinks: 3 Natural Alternatives
What would you say if I told you that your energy drink contained a half-cup of sugar, excessive levels of caffeine, unidentified stimulants, red food dye and taurine, among other health-harming ingredients? Many of the most popular energy drinks contain ingredients you wouldn’t put in your car – so why would you put it in your body?
Energy drinks are supposed to provide mental and physical stimulation for a set amount of time and are mainly used during periods of strenuous physical activity and to quench thirst. Unfortunately, energy drinks do not hydrate the body and can actually cause dehydration. Energy drinks can also cause serious health problems, such as increased blood pressure, stomach problems, panic attacks, anxiety, and cardiac arrhythmias. They can even cause tooth erosion.
One of the major concerns of consuming these energy drinks when you’re tired is that it masks the symptoms of fatigue. When we do this, we push our bodies past what they are capable of doing and place dangerous strain on the heart muscle. Even drinking too much coffee can place this strain on our bodies and our hearts. Masking fatigue by using stimulants like energy drinks or drinking strong coffee makes us feel worse in the long run. When we crash, we feel even more tired and weaken our immune system, as well as stressing our adrenal system. Headaches, nausea, as well as severe irritability are a few of the symptoms that can be felt when coming off these types of drinks. This is what makes them highly addictive – the only way to feel better is to drink another one or take more supplements.
So, what should we do when we are tired and not feeling good? We need to step back and assess why we are so tired in the first place. The solution is in the problem! Most people are tired and lack energy due to poor sleep and/or because they aren’t getting enough of the right nutrients that make us feel good and keep our energy levels balanced all day.
3 Things You Can Do to Increase Your Energy
1. Get enough protein. Sixty percent of women do not get enough protein in their diets and that is often the number-one reason for fatigue! Reaching your body’s protein requirements is not easy and it’s a lot of work. Most of us need to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body weight. If you want to weigh 120 pounds, you need to consume 120 grams of protein per day from lean sources such as egg whites, fish, turkey and chicken breast, or non-fat cottage cheese. I suggest that all women drink a high-quality protein shake every day to satisfy their body’s nutrient requirements.
Protein shakes make your life easy. You don’t have to think, plan or cook – just drink and go! Be sure to look for a high-quality whey protein shake that is under 160 calories and has no fat, minimal carbs and under 5 grams of sugar. Make sure the whey protein you choose is geared for health and weight loss and NOT weight gain, so you can add it to oatmeal or make a delicious shake for breakfast.
I also recommend that the shake have at least 2000 mg of glutamine already added to it. Glutamine is an awesome brain booster that can help ease depression and keep you alert for hours without the crashes that come with energy drinks. I adore my chocolate whey drink every morning in a small cup with very little water; I eat it like fudge brownie batter – yet it’s virtually sugar-free, contains no fat, and is absolutely delicious! If I dont want it cold, I make it like “healthy hot chocolate” or add it to my oatmeal. I always struggle with meeting my protein requirements and having a whey protein shake makes reaching my daily numbers do-able because I can add it to my coffee or to baked goods, such as health muffins. Whey has also been known to decrease blood pressure and increase energy, strength, and also ease depression.
2. Sleep more. Plan your life around your sleep schedule to get as much sleep as possible. It’s as simple as planning your activities so that you are home in enough time to relax and get sleepy. There is nothing more powerful as a good night’s sleep! Getting enough rest is the very best way to slow aging and feel great! Aim for 7-8 hours each night and create a sleep pattern so you go to bed at the same time every day and wake up at the same time every day, even on your days off. It will be well worth it – I promise. This step is extra important for anyone who struggles with depression and anxiety. If all else fails and you can’t sleep well due to stress or hormonal changes, take 3 mg of melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime or six drops of oxytocin to ease anxiety and help you sleep deeper. All healing happens when we sleep, so make it your priority!
3. Drink water! We all need to consume a minimum of eight glasses of water daily to hydrate our bodies. If we are even a little dehydrated, our metabolism can slow down up to 3%! Fill a large water pitcher full of cold water, and add slices of lemons, limes or oranges to make it more appealing so you’ll drink more. Not only does it look great, but it’s less expensive than buying bottled water, which helps our Earth at the same time. Get out your favorite glass and leave the pitcher out in front of your face so you’re called to it everytime you walk by.
Taking care of your health is the best way to prevent fatigue so you never need to buy those garbage drinks again!
Exercise Less and Lose More
What’s more frustrating than working out hard and gaining weight? Many people end up larger and heavier because they exercise so intensely that they are ravenous after the workout and wind up binging.
The good news is that there are three proven techniques you can use to boost your results and lose weight faster. These tricks will decrease the amount of time you spend in the gym and push your body to lose weight immediately after your workout.
1. Finish your entire workout in less than 40 minutes.
That’s right. Remove the rest periods and work out with a sense of urgency. A study from the College of New Jersey found that people who exercise harder during the first half of their workouts and ease up a bit in the second half burn up to 23% more fat than people who start out slowly. After you warm up, bump up your workout intensity and give it your all. People who train this way lose three times as much fat as those who do steady, moderate cardio.
2. Lift heavier weights for fewer reps.
Boost your metabolism long after your workout by training with heavy weights. As researchers at the Norwegian University of Sport and Physical Education have learned, the heavier you lift, the greater the boost to your metabolic rate and the longer that boost will last. The outcome? Increased fat loss. Pick up heavier weights and you’ll see fast results (this goes for women, too). Once you become physically fit, keep it up. The more active you are, the better your body is at burning fat.
3. Eat clean protein before you exercise.
If you need to eat before your workout, stay away from carb-heavy cereal and bread; these foods only cause your body to burn off your previous meal instead of stored fat. Instead, grab a clean protein shake (low-carb, low-fat and lactose free) or egg whites. If you follow this diet, your workouts will be legitimate fat-burning sessions.
Holiday Eating: The Day-After Diet Plan
From Thanksgiving onward, do you feel like you have a food hangover from overeating? The average person gains 9-12 pounds from Halloween through New Year’s Day. If you’re not careful, you will not only gain weight but change your metabolism permanently. Once you damage your metabolism, it can change it in a way that is hard to reverse.
Boost your metabolism before the big-eating day. There are five things you can do to keep your metabolism charged so you don’t gain any extra weight this holiday season.
1. Wait 12 hours to eat. If you last ate at 9 p.m., wait until 9 a.m. to eat again. You need to give your body time to metabolize. Set an alarm to remind you when you can begin eating again the following day.
2. Have a whey protein shake for breakfast. Drinking this shake boosts metabolism by 25%. It’s also a good preventive measure if you drink a shake on the big-eating day to help burn things off faster. If you drink one before the big meal, it will keep you feeling full so you don’t overeat.
3. Take six drops of oxytocin. This is the feel-good hormone our bodies naturally produce when we aren’t stressed. A few drops under the tongue will de-stress you and block the release of cortisol that makes us store fat around our waist. When we’re stressed, we make poor food decisions. When relaxed, we think clearly and make smart food choices.
4. Take carb-blocking supplements 30-minutes before your meal. Studies prove that taking supplements that contain white kidney bean extract or raspberry ketones will stop your body from absorbing the carbs and fats from your meal.
5. Exercise before your meal to burn fat – but exercise after your meal to torch calories. There are lots of different ways to exercise, but if you want to burn fat, you need to exercise at a moderate intensity on the big-eating day and kick it up a notch the following day to torch calories. I say to exercise moderately, as you want to prepare your body to burn fat – not store it by exercising too intensely!
Hidden Sugar: Top Sources You May Not Know
Think your "diet" food is going to cause you to lose weight? Think again. Can't figure out why you're not losing weight even though you think you're eating right? It could very well be that your "diet" food is stopping your weight loss before it gets started due to the notorious hidden sugars.
Remember, just because it says "no sugar added" doesn't meant it's sugar-free. It just means that no "extra" sugar was added to the contents. Chances are that the product itself may contain enough sugar to slow down your weight loss without you even knowing it.
So, want to lose weight? Know where the top sources of hidden sugar are and stop eating them. When we eat sugar, we hurt our weight-loss efforts in two ways:
- We cause our fat cells to go into storage mode.
- We stop fat-burning. Instead of burning fat while doing cardiovascular exercise, we are simply burning off all of the extra sugar that we consumed.
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that elevates your blood sugar. Every time you consume sugar, or a product that contains sugar, you’re not only elevating your blood sugar but you’re stopping fat loss. If you’re trying to lose body fat and excess weight, stay away from sugar. This essentially starves the fat cells so that they go away. After all, most of us exercise to burn body fat.
I know how hard it is to avoid sugar. It's extreme to say it, but sugar is one of the most widely used drugs in our country. Sugar is also in part responsible for diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cavities. Did you know that sugar, due to its addictive nature, makes your diet plan harder to stick to? Did you know that sugar feeds cancer cells?
The key to overall health and to successful workouts is to cut sugar from your diet. Of course, you’ll need to make sure you’re not unknowingly consuming it. Here are the top hidden sources that you can find sugar in your diet:
Toasted rice flakes contain 10 grams of sugar per serving. Instant flavored oatmeal often has 16 grams of sugar per serving. Instead, go for sugar-free, high-fiber cereals or plain instant oatmeal that you flavor yourself with blueberries and cinnamon.
Popular pre-packaged weight-loss drinks pack 35 grams of sugar per serving. Homemade smoothies made with skim milk can have up to 80 grams of sugar depending on how you make them. One cup of skim milk has 11 grams of sugar. Most soy milk brands have 12 grams of sugar per serving. Once you add in juice and fresh fruit, you’ve made a super-sugary concoction. LynFit's Protein Shakes are very low-sugar, making them the best choice for faster weight loss.
Yogurt and Yogurt Drinks
If your yogurt or yogurt drink isn’t sugar-free, it can have anywhere from 27-60 grams of sugar per serving. Aim for the sugar-free variety.
People tend to overeat dried fruit because they think that it’s good for them. But dried fruit is not as nutritious as fresh fruit. A 1.5-ounce box of raisins has 30 grams of sugar! Instead, grab fresh fruit like a green apple.
Juice can have anywhere from 30-80 grams of sugar. Many processed juices also lack the fiber whole fruit or fresh juices provide. Drink water instead.
Be sure to read all nutrition labels. Stay away from sugar and sugary products to put your fat loss in the fast lane.
Need more irresistibly delicious recipes that not only steer clear of the hidden sugars, but also boost your metabolism? Make sure to check out 100 of them in my book, The Metabolism Solution, HERE. Your family will love you for it!
Breakfast Shakes: Drink Yourself Skinny
Meal-replacement shakes are an effective, easy way to drop pounds. They teach you how to eat less and lose weight quickly and permanently – and the right shake can boost your metabolism by 25%. Who doesn’t need that?
The fact is, when you’re trying to lose body fat, you can’t skip breakfast – but you may be too busy to think about calories and to make healthy choices. That’s why drinking a protein shake first thing in the morning is a simple, foolproof weight-loss method. When you drink the right protein shake, you give your body the nutrients it needs and you can also:
- Boost your metabolic rate by 25%.
- Save calories by avoiding fatty foods (if you drink a shake for breakfast, you can save an average of 400 calories per day).
- Keep your blood sugar levels balanced, allowing your body to burn stored fat as fuel.
- Increase your energy levels, which enables you to increase your activity and automatically burn more calories.
Why do meal replacements or protein shakes for breakfast work? Simply put, weight loss occurs when your metabolism gets moving and you put out more calories than you take in. If you were to replace your 750-calorie bagel and orange juice meal with a 155-calorie protein shake, you’d save 595 calories per day. And you’d see the results on your bathroom scale in no time.
We can’t be perfect all the time, so we need calorie safe havens that keep us anchored while we learn how to eat correctly. Protein shakes that contain nutrients offer those safe havens. Most people love them because they don’t have to think about food, plan meals or buy expensive products. You can even make them yourself. To start, try one of my favorite recipes: a mocha madness shake that tastes amazing.
Fat-Burning Mocha Madness
- In a blender, mix ½ cup of cold water (you can add more or less water depending on the consistency you prefer).
- Add 2 scoops of nutrient-rich chocolate-flavored protein powder.
- Add 1 tsp of granulated instant coffee.
- Gradually add 5 ice cubes to thicken.
- Blend on high for one minute (in a pinch, this shake can also be made by simply mixing ingredients together in a glass with a spoon).
- Drink yourself skinny!
Flat Abs Fast
The reality is that if you want flat abs, you have to push away your plate and get sweating at the gym.
My clients often ask me what exercises they can do to shed their love handles. That fat on and around the abdominal area can also be referred to as the insulin band. It is your body’s way of telling you that you are feeding it too many carbohydrates. Your body can’t use them all, so it stores them around your waist. This is as much of a health concern as it is a fashion/vanity concern. The fat that you see is also surrounding your major organs and it can kill you. So listen up!
First, 80% of your weight-loss success depends of your diet. Focus on eating three 3-ounce servings of lean proteins and a minimum of five servings of vegetables per day. You can have two “cheat meals” a week, but any more than that, and you’re back in fat-storage mode.
Play diet detective: Question everything that goes into your mouth. Start with portion sizes. Typically, the culprit behind our weight-loss struggles is not what we eat, but how much we eat. Any extra calories that are not burned for energy can go straight to your waistline. Look especially at your sugar intake; whenever you consume too much sugar, the extra calories go straight to the insulin band. Make simple substitutions to your diet, such as switching to diet soda instead of regular soda. You’ll save 150 calories and 16 teaspoons of sugar right there, and that will flatten your abs fast!
You also need to do some type of aerobic exercise every day for 60 minutes to burn belly fat. Activities such as walking, jogging or cycling are great for burning the fat off.
Once you’ve gotten your diet under control and you’re taking your hour-long daily walk, start doing targeted exercises to strengthen the muscles below the fat. Here are three exercises (do them every single day for just five minutes) to firm, flatten and strengthen your abs:
Lying Leg Lifts
- Lie down on your back with your legs out straight and your hands underneath your lower back or under your buttocks for extra support. Lift your legs about one inch off of the floor.
- Keep your moves slow and controlled, aiming for 25 repetitions. Do 2-3 sets of 25 reps, building up slowly if needed.
- Keep in mind that this is a very difficult move. Some people need to start with 3-5 reps at first. Take your time and build up slowly.
- Lie on your back with your legs up at a 90-degree angle (if you’re not flexible enough to hold your legs straight up, do this move against a wall). You may also support your head, if needed, by gently holding your head with your hands.
- Looking up at your toes, try to touch your shoelaces with your fingers, 25-30 times. Do 2-3 sets of 25-30 repetitions, building up gradually if needed. Stay as high as possible and don’t forget to breathe in and out!
- Lie on your back with your legs bent and a fitness circle in between your knees.
- Contract the abdominals by squeezing the fitness circle, and reach arms and upper body toward your knees.
- Try to do this 25-30 times. Do 2-3 sets of 25-30 repetitions. Build up slowly and protect your neck if needed.
3 Ways to Boost Thyroid Function
Hypothyroidism may be the reason you’re overweight, but it’s not an excuse! I too have battled with a “dead” thyroid my whole life so I understand how frustrating it can be. You can still lose weight even if your thyroid is not working properly by taking a few simple steps.
There are many causes of hypothyroidism, and you want to make sure you know why your thyroid isn’t working properly so you can treat it accurately. It doesn’t matter if your thyroid is underactive because you have Hashimoto’s disease, goiter or your hormones have slowed it down. Most times, your doctor will treat you with thyroid hormone pills and you will start to feel better within a week or two.
But what should you do if you have all of the symptoms (tired, cold all the time, hair and memory loss, brittle nails and hair, leg swelling) and your doctor says your blood tests are fine? Most thyroid tests aren’t articulate enough to catch this, so pay close attention to how you feel and treat your thyroid naturally to keep it working at an optimal rate so you never have a problem with it slowing down.
The thyroid is “The Master Hormone” that controls everything in our body. One of the biggest reasons our thyroids slow down is due to iodine deficiency in addition to aging. In fact, 40% of us are at risk for iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism. Not giving our bodies the nutrients that are important for a healthy thyroid will also slow your thyroid down. Since the body does not make iodine, it relies on the diet to get enough. We can easily maintain adequate iodine through our diets by using table salt because it’s fortified with iodine, but most of us need to restrict or limit our sodium causing iodine deficiencies to show up. Many medications also slow down the thyroid and also cause iodine deficiency. Lithium and corticosteroids are thyroid-slowing and should be used sparingly if at all. Pain medications, antihistamines and anti-depressants may also slow the thyroid down. Medications that make you feel sleepy or slow may also slow your thyroid and your metabolism down even more. Ask your doctor about alternatives.
Here are three things you can do to boost your thyroid function:
1. Eat more of these great sources of iodine to enhance thyroid function:
- Low fat cheese
- Cow’s milk
- Low fat ice cream
- Low fat yogurt
- Saltwater fish
- Seaweed (including kelp, dulce, nori)
- Soy sauce
2. Eat less of these foods; they slow your thyroid because they block your thyroid and your medication from producing thyroid hormone properly, especially when eaten raw. Cooking these foods inactivates their anti-thyroid properties. These foods are called goitrogens, which are chemicals that lower thyroid function. Eat these foods sparingly or only once every four days:
- Cauliflower (Any vegetable that falls into the broccoli family is a goitrogen and shouldn’t be eaten more than twice a week if you have hypothyroidism.)
- Brussels sprouts
- Pine nuts
- Soy (Isoflavones block iodine)
- Canola oil
3. Workout every day. All you need is a pair of sneakers and a watch, and you’re ready to go. For optimal thyroid function, you must exercise at least three days a week for 40 minutes per workout. I strongly suggest working out/walking every day so your thyroid gets a boost daily to correct the condition until your thyroid is running at an optimal rate. Circuit training is also great way to lower insulin levels and increase thyroid function. This is easy to do in the comfort of your own home by doing pushups, lunges and sit-ups back to back without rest, pushing yourself a bit to get out of breath.
Bonus: Enhance your thyroid with supplements. Take thyroid-enhancing supplements daily to gently and safely keep your thyroid working optimally for life. The best way to treat anything is to prevent it! Supplementing is the best way to keep your thyroid running at an optimal rate and to keep your weight under control. Start your supplement regime first by using a very strong, high quality multivitamin. Most store-bought vitamins are not suitable or strong enough to help hypothyroidism, so look for a very potent high quality multi with high levels of iodine, selenium, zinc, vitamin B, D, E and at least 2 grams of vitamin C. Other nutrients such as omega-3 as well as amino acids also help regulate the thyroid and need to also be considered. One of my favorites that I put all of my hypothyroid clients on is gugglesterones. Guggulsterone or guggulipid’s have been used for centuries in ayurvedic medicine to naturally regulate the thyroid and keep it running at an optimal rate without the side effects of medications. Look for supplement multitaskers from a very reputable source so you don’t have to take 29 different pills every day.