With the heat of summer blazing down upon us, the desire to look “good” in shorts, tank tops, sundresses and bathing suits is as searing as the midday sun in beautiful-people SoCal.
Instinct tells us to get our butts to the gym and burn, burn, burn, baby! And, yes, exercise and other physical activities are always an excellent use of time for health and well-being, as well as muscle tone. But when it comes to trimming inches off of our bellies and thighs, research has proven that what and how much we eat is the most important factor in maintaining a healthy physique. Some studies have put the ratio of diet vs. exercise as high as 80% in favor of diet.
So here are a few tips to help you get started on your quest. These tips are to be used throughout the year and not just as a quick fix for a bikini bod. I’m never a fan of starvation, as food group elimination (such as no carbs) and other drastic diet measures do more harm than good, long term. Allowing your body to change slowly over time will help you maintain the change.
- Start your day with 2 glasses of water. Rehydrating your cells first thing in the morning will give you energy, get things moving and stave off the feeling of starvation and the desire to eat sugary carbs such as donuts and muffins. Continue to drink water throughout the day to keep cravings at bay.
- Include protein (except processed proteins such as bacon) in every meal, especially breakfast. Research has shown that protein with breakfast helps keep you feeling satisfied throughout the day and will curb hunger between meals and late at night.
- Have a piece of fresh fruit or a bowl of berries or melon as a midmorning and afternoon snack. It’s filling, full of fiber and will take the edge off of your sweet cravings.
- Use the plant-plate measure. That means that 2/3 of your plate should consist of veggies(mostly) and fruits. The other 1/3 a combination of protein and carbohydrates. But use caution when ordering salads in restaurants. Extra items such as wanton and tortilla strips, gobs of cheese and ladles of creamy dressing can make what seems like a healthy meal a high caloric nightmare. Always order your salad 1) with dressing on the side and use it sparingly, 2) without the extra fried crunchies and 3) very little cheese or better yet replace the cheese with avocado. Oh, and french fries and onion rings do NOT count as veggies. Skip them all together.
- Use smaller plates to serve your meals. Super-sized meals are a big part of the recent increase in obesity. Filling a luncheon-sized plate is plenty of food for most of us. When eating out, take home half of your meal as a tasty leftover for the next day.
- Clean out the fridge and pantry of ALL junk food. There’s no such thing as willpower so don’t beat yourself up if you think you don’t have any. We are designed to eat food when we see food. It’s a primitive drive. If you don’t see it, you won’t eat it so stock fruits, veggies and nuts instead of cookies, candy, chips and ice cream.
- No soda…ever! Diet or regular. Drink sparkling water/seltzer if you like bubbles.
Don’t worry about trying every tip the first day. Ease into the change gradually. Once your brain and body adjust to this new way of eating, these are the foods you will crave and enjoy, especially when you see the positive change in your physique.