I stand 5 ft. 2 inches tall. For my petite frame, my ideal weight should be kept to somewhere between 100 and 105 lbs. according to the commonly accepted standard I wish I could say that I’ve consistently managed to maintain my ideal weight through out the years but I can’t. I was at my heaviest at 124 lbs. and that was seven years ago. In my post last year, My Journey To A Healthier Me, I mentioned that I don’t constantly fuss about my weight, but my desire to live a longer, healthier life was what motivated me to work on shedding off the excess pounds. Since I started my journey, I’ve managed to lose and keep off at least 10 lbs. and I’ve never been happier!
MyMy’s Top 5 Weight Loss Essentials
Now, to be perfectly honest and transparent with you, I’m not gonna sugarcoat the whole process of losing weight by trying to convince you that it’s very easy and that “if I can do it, so can you”. Sure, you can do it, but it will all depend on how badly you want the same results for yourself and how well you understand that it means hard, serious work!
I am NO EXPERT in matters of wellness, health and fitness, let alone the topic of weight loss, and I am sure that many of you are just like me. That’s why I thought I should try to explain a little bit of the process I went through in ways that my own limited understanding was able to grasp. My hope is that in doing so, you, too, can understand it.
When losing weight, it is true that there are so many things you’re gonna need to take into consideration and remember and manage, etc. etc. However, what helped me stay focused was to narrow down the “important stuff” into what I am going to call the Top 5 Weight Loss Essentials. Here they are:
How is water important in weight loss? When you are trying to lose weight, the first thing your body gets rid off is water. So the first few pounds you shed off is going to be due to water loss. Thus, you’re going to be prone to dehydration, and dehydration slows down your body’s fat-burning process. This fat-burning process also produces toxins in your body (the manifestation of which shows on your skin) so you need plenty of water not only to replenish the water that you lose but also to flush the toxins out .
How much water do you need to take in? We’ve heard it said a million times that the daily requirement is eight (8 oz.) glasses of water, but I’d say that it also depends on a few other things such as your diet (I’ll expound on this later), your day-to-day activities, your workout regimen, your current size or weight, and the temperature of your environment. Also, if you consume plenty of diuretics on a daily basis (diuretics are substances that encourage urination), you’ll need to drink even more water to compensate for what you expel. Diuretics include caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, soda and alcohol (I would strongly urge you though to abstain from alcohol, or drink moderately, while you are trying to lose weight).
One way of knowing if you’re drinking enough water is to look at the color of your urine. If you’re taking in enough water, your urine should be pale yellow in color. If you’re taking vitamins or medicines, your urine will naturally be slightly darker so when in doubt, just drink a couple of glasses more. That should be fine.
It also helps to have a glass of water about fifteen minutes before a meal. It will make you feel fuller and therefore you’ll end up eating less.
What is fiber? Fiber is the part of plant-based foods that is indigestible. It has no calories and merely passes through our digestive tract without providing any nutrition. There are two types of fiber – insoluble and soluble. Obviously, by definition, the insoluble type is incapable of being dissolved and therefore it passes through the body quickly. That type of fiber is what aids in weight loss. Take note, however, that you’ll need to keep a proper balance between both types of fiber to maintain a healthy body, both while in the process of trying to lose weight and after. The insoluble fiber is said to prevent constipation and is linked to reducing the risk of colon cancer since carcinogens in our intestines bind to the fiber fast and get transported through the digestive tract and out of our body. The soluble type on the other hand is linked to reducing the risk of heart disease and controlling diabetes.
How is fiber helpful in weight loss? Fiber stays in the stomach longer, slows down the rate of digestion and therefore giving you a feeling of being full much sooner and much longer. Fiber-rich foods can be more filling even in small portions. Not only will you end up eating less, but the cravings and hunger pangs in between meals will also be significantly reduced. Fat also clings to fiber and is moved through the body and out of our system fast, so that less of it is absorbed.
How do you properly take in fiber? While fiber is highly beneficial and helpful to our digestive system, without adequate amount of fluids, it can cause constipation. Keep in mind that you want the fiber to pass through your body and not to just “stay” in your digestive system, and for that to happen, you’ll need to drink plenty of water.
To increase your fiber intake, eat more of whole and natural foods and less of the processed ones. Some good sources of fiber would be whole grains (wheat, oats, barley), legumes (lentils, dry beans, peas), brown rice, fruits and non-starchy vegetable.
Psyllium Husks: The World’s Purest (& Cheapest) Form Of Pure Fibre
A great source of dietary fiber is Whole Psyllium Husks, which you can buy quite inexpensively from any of your favorite health stores (such as Healthy Options, for example). Psyllium Husks are truly the world’s purest form of 100% pure dietary fiber.
Simply mix one teaspoon of the psyllium husk with eight ounces of water, tea, or juice and drink this mixture once every morning as you are starting to gradually incorporate fiber into your diet. You’ll need to gulp it all down quickly as soon as you finish stirring in the husks, because they tend to gel up with the liquid in your drink as soon as you stop stirring. Be sure that you drink at least eight ounces of fluid with the husks, and that you do it on an empty stomach. For example, my hubby likes to mix his Psyllium Husks with a large glass about 3/4 full of unsweetened green tea, and then immediately follow that up with at least 8 ounces of filtered water. As your system gets more used to it, you may (and should) increase your intake to twice or even three times a day.
Through exercise, we burn the excess calories we take in that would otherwise be stored in our bodies as fat. Just as cars run on gasoline, our body’s fuel is the blood sugar (glucose) in our bloodstream. When we exercise, we deplete our supply of blood sugar. Once our supply of blood sugar is depleted, our body then starts burning fat cells as fuel in the place of blood sugar as fuel for our muscles to operate and do the work we’re trying to get it to do in exercise. As a result, more fat gets burned, less of it stays in our body.
What kind of exercise? Aerobic (which is more about building endurance and keeping the heart rate up) or anaerobic (which is more about building strength… adding muscle mass)? You might be surprised to learn that the answer is actually both… aerobic AND anaerobic (and yes, that’s true even for us ladies).
We ladies tend to think that the latter is not really preferable because we don’t want so much muscle that we almost look masculine. However, the term “muscle mass” is not meant to describe that look exclusively. At least some building of muscle is absolutely necessary for optimum health. After all, we ladies need some muscular strength to handle all of the tasks we deal with on a daily basis. From a weight loss standpoint, though, more muscle mass causes our body to require more energy to function. In other words, when we have more muscle mass, our body requires more calories to do the same work, even when our body is at rest. We can eat more without worrying about adding fat. It’s a great thing!
So, don’t be afraid to lift some healthier weights. Anaerobic exercise is every bit as important as aerobic exercise!
Be More Specific, MyMy! I Need Help!
Well, I have some good news and bad news on that front. Between what I know from my own experience, what I’ve learned from my hubby, and the research I’ve done, I have a good basic knowledge on this subject. However, I’m no expert, and I don’t claim to be.
The Good News:
While it is a universal truth that we all need more exercise to help us burn calories and stimulate weight loss, exactly how to go about it (how much cardio vs. lifting weights to do, etc.) varies from person to person, depending on each person’s goals, lifestyle, gender, schedule and a host of other factors. I learned this from an expert/guru by the name of Rusty Moore.
From what I have seen of the information on him and from him, I can’t imagine anyone being more knowledgeable on this subject than Rusty. Even better, if you’d like to have the benefit of some on-going advice but for far less money than you might spend on that, he has a program that will not only help you customize your own exercise program without the need for anyone to do it for you. Check out his videos at one of the following links. I’m sure you’ll agree that this guy really knows his stuff!
Don’t forget, you should always seek professional medical advice before beginning any workout program!
How does sleep affect weight loss? A good night’s sleep is between 8 and 9 hours long. When you get a good night’s sleep, your body produces the hormones leptin (which regulates the body weight by reducing the appetite and signaling to the brain to burn more calories; this means it’s responsible for making you feel satisfied after an adequate meal) and ghrelin (which stimulates hunger). When you lack sleep, the levels of these two hormones get all out of whack and their effects are reversed. Leptin fails to give you the feeling of satisfaction so that even after an adequate meal, you still feel hungry. At the same time, Ghrelin increases your hunger, slows down your metabolism and decreases your body’s ability to burn fat. Consequently, you feel the need to eat more. Lack of sleep will also result to a drop in your energy level which means you would be less likely to want to exercise but more likely to reach for something sweet and starchy to get a quick energy boost.
Now that we know that sleep loss affect the body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates, we also know that it means high levels of blood sugar. And we know that high levels of blood sugar promotes an overproduction of insulin which leads to storage of body fat. That is why people who suffer from diabetes are most likely to be overweight as well.
Another important factor regarding sleep: Quite recently, it was reported on Fox News Health Watch that people who get 6 hours of sleep per day or less actually intake an average of 549 calories more than they would if they were getting at least 8 hours of sleep. That’s about the equivalent of a McDonald’s Big Mac! Can you believe it? That ought to be enough to make you want to go to bed a little earlier, huh? ;-)
How do you get a good night’s sleep? If you want to be successful in losing weight, you have to help yourself get that 8-9 hours of sleep every night. Setting a regular sleep schedule, dimming down the lights, putting on a gentle, relaxing music, and turning off the television can all help promote a good night’s sleep.
On this point, I’ll start out by stating a fact that many consider common knowledge, but as simple as it is, it’s more important than people give it credit for:
“70% of your weight loss success can be directly attributed to your diet. The rest is exercise.”
Dear Readers, every credible expert on the subject of health and wellness agrees… Without a well-balanced healthy diet (which is a completely different concept than merely eating less to lose weight), anything else you do (such as exercise) is simply an exercise in futility.
How do salt, fruits and vegetables affect weight loss? – Simply put, fruit and vegetables help you in your weight loss efforts because they are low in calories but high in volume and in essential nutrients. They fill you up quite easily so that there is less room for junk food. Also, fruit & vegetables are water-dense foods, and if you eat more water-dense foods, your need to drink water will also be diminished.
With salt, this is how it works: When we take in an excessive amount of salt, our bodies tend to hold on to as much water as it needs to dilute the concentration of salt in our body. This “water retention” causes the body to retain as much as 1.5 liters of additional fluid which is equivalent to about 2-3 lbs. of weight gain. So just imagine how much weight you can easily shed just by decreasing the amount of salt in your diet!
Need Help With A Good Diet You Can Manage Yourself?
While the concepts in this section apply universally to everyone, the truth is that most people’s efforts when it comes to diet and weight loss fail because people are trying to follow the latest diet or fad as though one fad diet applies to all body types. Your body is unique to you. The people who have the most success in creating the body they want are successful because they are able to create a diet that is custom tailored for their exact body, their exact needs and exact lifestyle. I had never really heard this before, and even when my husband told me about it, the entire concept seemed foreign to me. After thinking about it, that’s probably because for most people, the idea of a diet that is custom tailored for each individual sounds like a concept reserved only for the extremely wealthy, and that is cost-prohibitive for the rest of us. I recently learned differently.
There is a custom program available online for download that teaches people how to customize their own diet themselves. Without this program, you’d need a nutritionist, at least one doctor (probably more), a registered dietitian, a personal trainer and more watching you and working with you on a regular basis. So, for less than most people pay for one month’s worth of a gym membership or doctor’s appointment, you can now manage it all yourself, and perhaps more importantly, VASTLY increase your chances of success!
To learn more about this program, check it out here: MyMy’s Recommended Diet
In A Nutshell
So there you are, folks! My Top 5 Weight Loss Essentials. In a nutshell, here’s all you’ll need to remember when trying to lose weight:
- Drink lots of water (at least 8 glasses daily)
- Incorporate lots of fiber in your diet
- Exercise regularly
- Get plenty of sleep (at least 8 hours but preferably no more than 9 hours)
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet (load up on fruit and non-starchy vegetables, cut back on salt)
What about you? Do you have your own “Weight Loss Essentials”? Please do share.
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