Friday, May 27, 2011

Waistline Assassins!

Dancing, during the break of my P90X DVD

Starting on New Year's Day of 2011, I decided to whip my body into shape and take my health more seriously. Since that time, I've successfully dropped about 20lbs. (19lbs. to be exact), and am feeling better than ever. Just waking down the street seems easier and sort of like I'm going to 'lift off' now that I'm so much lighter. I still would like to lose another 15 - 20lbs but am much more patient this time around.  I say "this time around" because about 6 years ago, I went on a strict starvation regimen that included all sorts of weight loss pills and unhealthy eating habits.  I did, however, manage to lost close to 40lbs but because I did it the wrong way (basically by starving), not only did I start to look ghastly and gaunt, but the weight came flying back because when I finally started eating again, my body wanted it! All of it! My mom was of no help either cooking roast beef at Dad's every whim and begging me to eat it. Oh... and did I want to!

 My final pregnancy video at 38 weeks.

Well, since the birth of my daughter in January 2009, at a whopping 10lbs 5oz, I need not say that I got ridiculously out of shape and my belly looked like a hot (or not-so-hot) mess! The scariest thing for me was hitting 200lbs once again. I knew I had to do something about it because I want to be fit enough to keep up with my now 8 and 2 yr old and because I want to live to see them grow up and have families of their own. Since losing all of that weight the first time, I had an archive of Oxygen Magazines, Women's and Men's Health Mags stacked away in a box for years.  The wealth of knowledge that these magazines have given me over the years is priceless and it would be a cardinal sin to just toss them in the trash. The principles are still the same when it comes to fitness. Unlike the first go-round though, I am determined to make it a life-long process and to do it the healthy and more patient way. (Which I greatly lack but am working on)!

My gorgeous & ginormous 10.5oz daughter Milani, at 1 week old.
 The following are a few things I've learned that KILL the waistline and are absolutely detrimental to anyone's fitness endeavours. Learning to avoid these waistline murderers will be your best step in reaching success with your fitness goals.

1. Fake Sugar - In moderation, these can be a great way to calm that sweet tooth for 0 calories but in excess, they only lead to more cravings so go lightly.

2. Lack of Fiber - We require about 25 - 35 grams of fiber daily and on the Western side of the world, we usually don't get half of that in regular meals. Fiber is needed to keep things moving and fills your gut so you feel satisfied for a longer period of time because it takes longer to digest. This is probably why when you get a combo from a fast food joint, you're hungry in an hour's  time because it has hardly no fiber. Great sources are flaxseed, once ground.  For the more squeamish or those unfamiliar with health foods, Metamucil or Benefiber can be a great way to add fiber without the taste or texture. With time and determination, you actually start to crave more high fiber foods to give you that satiated feeling without being "stuffed".

3. Stressing Out - Stress ups cortisol levels which is a stress hormone.  Cortisol kills the metabolism and wreaks havoc on your appetite. Continuously high levels of this leads slowly to accumulation of fat around the midsection (the most dangerous).  Try taking at least 30 minutes daily to relax and forget about your daily stresses. Meditation, walking, a trip to the park or the beach can greatly distract you from your worries and balance your stress levels.

4. Refined Foods - Fructose, maltose and high fructose corn syrup (dreaded words to the fitness enthusiast) all are cheaply manufactured. Thus, piled into processed goods. Once it comes in a package that does NOT say 'Organic', it is highly refined and more than likely filled with sugar and/or excess sodium.

5. Medications - We all know that certain medications such as anti-cancer, anti-depressants and steroids cause weight gain because of their pharmacological make up and side effects on the body.

6. Biggie-sizing - This one goes without even saying! Many of us don't even know that a simple #2 combo from Wendy's or Burger King totes about a whopping 2,000 calories!!! ( surprised!)  That's an entire days worth of calories so just imagine how much more you're adding when you super-size a meal! If you've ever watched the documentary Super-size Me, then you will see the damage being done to your body by these kinds of meals on a continuous basis. Being the curious cat that I am, when I decide to lose weight, I ask for a nutritional list at the restaurant but since this is The Bahamas, that's not always available. All of the well known fast food places have websites that you can go to to find this much needed information and I do take advantage of this. Here are just a few of the more popular restaurants' nutritional pages you may find helpful:
McDonald's Biggie Fries
Burger King



Taco Bell


Kentucky Fried Chicken

Domino's Pizza

Marco's Pizza

7. Bad Posture - Oh Boy! This is one I have been guilty of just about all my life! I can hear my mom now telling me to "straighten up your back child!" Mommy has been yelling for years for me to sit up straight  but I must say that sitting like Quasimodo was just so much more comfortable! Lately, I've been paying much more close attention to my posture because it really distorts your figure. After carrying a 10lb baby, I need not say that I began having back problems and slouching only made it worse. Sitting/standing upright burns calories also because it takes effort to constantly support your back, suck in that gut and lift up your head!
Bad Posture

8. Thinking Fat & Weight Are The Same - No! They are not! Weight (the number on the scale) is determined by many factors such as water retention, lean muscle mass and food that's already in your gut. Base your fat loss on measurements and how your clothes fit rather than that number.  It took me a long time to finally  let go of this way of thinking. For many, like myself, when the number on the scale doesn't move or you see a pound extra, you tend to get discouraged and quit trying to lose. Remember that muscle weighs more than fat so if you frequently do resistance exercises, you will gain muscle weight and be heavier on the scale, but remember, the more muscle you have, the less fat will be there because the body uses up more energy to control and maintain those muscles.

9. Where You Eat - Studies have shown for years that people who sit on their beds or on the couch and in front of a television, eat more than those who sit at a dinner table. To feel more in control of the amount of food you're eating, try eliminating the distractions such as the TV.

10. Overworking The Liver - The body's own purification tool. Too much alcohol, medications and not enough water to flush out toxins lead to belly bulge.
OK in moderation

11. Beer - In the last 5 years or so I've started to appreciate the enjoyment of an ice cold Heineken or Budweiser on a steamy hot day. But loaded with sugar and carbs, it is not, by any means, something I indulge in more than once or twice a week. Even the so-called 'low-carb' ones, still aren't friendly to our waistlines. They don't call it a 'beer belly' for nothing hun!

12. Dehydration - We are mostly made up of water and require water to stay hydrated and to flush bad toxins from the body. Not drinking enough of it leaves us not only thirsty, but sometimes even hungry too because dehydration causes a myriad of problems and unwanted symptoms such as weight gain. In The Bahamas, although it's always sweltering around 90 degrees, people would prefer sugary juices, sodas and Kool-aid over water. Water is life! This is one of the reasons why we, as a nation, are so grossly overweight.  The other day I was at a store with a friend and a gentleman offered to buy us something to drink at the check-out counter. I said "I'll take water", and as I eagerly reached for the Aquafina jug, the guy shivers and says "OooH...but water doesn't have any taste!?", in sheer horror like I pulled a gun or something! This is sad... when good, plain, fresh water has become an abomination! : )
Wonderful water

These tips will help you to start paying closer attention to the choices you make when it comes to your health. Never consider yourself too young, or too old to start making positive changes to boost your health and fitness routine and last, but not least, don't forget to exercise!

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