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Archive for July, 2010

10 Practical Effective Steps to sustainable fat loss & mind/ body health

By Denise Lescano, Author of the Messenger Copyright 2010 www.deniselescano.com for more info

Denise is an Intuitive Consultant, Medical Intuitive and Author. Prior to her consulting career, Denise worked professionally for several years as a licensed and certified personal fitness trainer and nutritional advisor in FL; Certified thru the National Federation of Professional Trainers, NFPT.  Denise has worked as a martial arts instructor and also trained for amateur competitions in the NPC as a figure/fitness competitor.

Losing weight and keeping it off is probably one of the most talked about subjects in our society today. Obesity and manmade disease have not only become accepted in our culture as the norm, they have become an epidemic and bi-product of self- destructive behavior that we are now passing along to our children.  I’m here to tell you that you do not need to buy in to the hype of this diet or that, the latest exercise gadget, fitness fad or diet pill. Losing weight and keeping it off is really quite simple.  Prior to working as a consultant, I worked several years as a licensed and certified Personal Trainer (NFPT) and nutritional advisor.  In addition to dropping 35 lbs over 10 years ago myself and keeping it off, I have helped many others to do the same.  If you follow the steps that I outline here, I guarantee you will lose excess body fat, keep it off and become healthier physically, emotionally and mentally in the process. 

First and foremost, I want you to remember that this is about making a life style change; it’s not about the latest diet or fitness fad.  Success requires that you commit to changing your “life” not just your body, but by doing so know that you will also change your body as a result.  All change requires discipline. Some of us have never been tutored in, or mastered the principles of discipline, so I will give you some tips to help you with that too if you are lacking in that department.  I can tell you I certainly was when I began a healthy lifestyle many years ago.   As a medical intuitive, spirit gives me a very unique and penetrating insight in to the diseases of the physical body. I have learned though my work that we create many of our diseases and they are manifested in our bodies as a result of our thoughts, emotions and lifestyle choices.  I’m not saying that we create all disease; of course some diseases have genetic, hereditary and unavoidable origins. However, even in the case that the disease is unavoidable as some are, we have much more control of our healing process than we generally realize.  The body has a tremendous ability to repair and heal itself when given a proper diet of healthy food, emotions and thoughts.

Before we move on to the 10 steps to a healthier you, it is important to understand that health and healthy sustainable weight are 100% an issue of “balance.” The body is a finely tuned biological machine that requires regular maintenance to remain in balance and functioning properly. It is also vital to recognize that our thoughts, feelings and actions are an equal and essential part of the balance, not just the food we put in to our mouths.

If you follow and commit to making these steps an everyday part of your life, you WILL lose weight, keep it off and be much healthier physically, mentally and emotionally for it…I promise!

Step One:            Stop eating “processed foods” completely.  Processed foods are everything from fast food, prepared frozen dinners, and prepared boxed foods, micro-wave dinners to eating at many of our favorite chain restaurants.  I don’t care if the label says “Healthy Choice”, fat free, 100 calorie snack pack; no sugar added blah blah blah. If it is in a bag, that’s in a box, or already prepared, or precooked don’t buy it and don’t eat it! All of these foods are overloaded with Hydrogenated Oils (Trans fats), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugars, MSG and harmful amounts of salt and preservatives.  Without boring you with too many technicalities, here is the skinny on why I’m so against these ingredients and processed foods. “Trans fats” (hydrogenated & partially-hydrogenated oils) are fats that are molecularly altered by man in a lab to give cookies, breads and other processed foods a longer shelf life and a soft or creamy consistency. They can do this because naturally occurring bacteria cannot break them down and digest them which prevent them from getting stale.  The problem for us is neither can our bodies break them down and digest them! They thicken our cell walls and prevent vital, health sustaining and cancer preventing nutrients from entering the cell. These nutrients (essential fatty acids & antioxidants) are what the body uses to repair damaged cells and prevent cancer from growing. Trans fats are one of the big causes of cancer in our country and that is a fact.  High Fructose Corn Syrup & corn syrup are up to 10 times as sweet as sugar. They cause huge insulin spikes in the body and if ingested enough, for long enough will lead to high blood sugar and eventually on to type II diabetes.  They are directly contributing to obesity.  MSG has a whole range of health problems it causes, but most common are headaches and fluid retention.  We all know that high levels of sodium contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure.  Preservatives have wide and varied health consequences as well. Get in the habit of reading the “Ingredients” in what you buy and look for these items. They are not always listed in the nutritional panel.  A label can say “0 trans fats” if there is less than 1gram per serving and still have trans fats in it, plus who eats only one serving?

Buy uncooked meat and cook it yourself. If you can afford organic meat- buy it. Our meats are pumped with growth hormone, steroids and antibiotics.  Growth hormone is what body builders take to “gain weight”.  When we eat meat pumped with hormones we are also eating those hormones. Buy fresh or frozen veggies and cook them yourself.  I cook all of my meals and am quite good at cooking things in 10-20 minutes. I rarely ever eat processed foods or buy them for my family and I don’t eat out very often either.  What did you say, “You don’t have the time?” Then I say, “Find the time…make the time!” Readjust your priorities, for your health and your family’s health. Don’t buy fruit rolls for your kids, buy fruit!  Get the idea?

Step Two:            Cut way back on ALL wheat products and Sugar, and eliminate processed wheat & sugar products altogether.  I don’t care what you were taught in school about the food pyramid, forget it. It’s wrong!  There are many problems with the processed wheat that is used in food today, bread, cookies and pasta for example. I’ll let you research those on your own, but believe me when I tell you the bread you buy today is not what our ancestors ate 100 years ago and it is NOT good for you!.If you must eat bread limit your intake and buy it from the bakery. Buy only whole grain bread and avoid the ones sold in bags in the center aisle of the grocery store.  Many people have sensitivities to wheat products and don’t even know it. Wheat will cause water retention, weight gain, Candida (yeast in the digestive track) and all sorts of other problems if overeaten.  If you constantly have a bloated belly or constipation and have no other medical issues in those areas, you probably are sensitive to wheat or over eating wheat products.  Cut way back on Sugars.  Sugar is an addiction in our country.  The epidemic of obesity and type II diabetes in our country is proof of it.  The problem is many people are eating huge amounts of sugar everyday and not even aware of it. There are hidden sugars in processed foods.  A common ingredient, Corn Syrup is just a very dense form of sugar.  Sugar and corn syrup are both put in to almost anything processed, even if it doesn’t taste sweet.  I recommend for most folks to try and consume not more than between 50-75 grams of sugar a day for health.  If you are trying to lose weight then you may need to stay closer to 25-50grams.  If you are very active you may be able to get away with 50-100 a few days per week.  You will probably be shocked to see how much sugar you actually consume when you begin tracking this. This is MOST Important** Never “drink” sugar!!!  This includes sodas, as well as, juice and sweet coffee drinks.  I also recommend not more than 1-2 cans of diet soda a day.  If you use sweeteners for your coffee or tea switch to all natural Stevia versions and get away from Splenda, Sweet N Low, Equal and other chemical substitutes for sugar.  You hear it a lot, but it’s a better idea to get used to drinking more water.  Professional athletes have understood for decades that Insulin is the hormone in the body that triggers the body to store energy consumed as body fat. Did you get that?  Insulin tells the body to store calories eaten as body fat.  Sugar eaten releases insulin. The more sugar eaten the more insulin, the more fat stored.  Read up on the Glycemic Foods index and stay away from high glycemic foods. These foods ABSOLUTLEY contribute directly to weight gain, obesity, insulin resistance and type II diabetes.  Also, realize that included in sugars is fruit. If trying to lose weight you will need to limit fruits until you reach a desired weight, and then you can reintroduce them in small amounts for maintenance. An added bonus, if you refrain from eating sweets at least 3-4 hours before bed your body will naturally burn body fat for fuel while you sleep!

Step Three:        Eat more lean protein and fiber. Simply put, protein is the building block of the body’s muscle, organs and skin.  It is also very difficult for the body to turn protein in to fat.  The best sources of protein are lean animal meats, eggs, oats and nuts.  The body also has to work very hard digesting protein and Fiber rich foods and in some cases burns more calories in digestion that are actually in the food.  Fiber rich foods like broccoli, strawberries and nuts for example are very molecularly dense in addition to being full of fiber, so they take more energy to break down and digest.  Fiber keeps the digestive track clean and healthy.  A brief note about Vitamins** Vitamins are another complex topic altogether, but for practical purposes I recommend a good multi-vitamin, with extra supplements of antioxidant vitamins  A, C & E, a good B-Complex and a good EFA supplement as a foundation for some extra nutritional insurance.

Step Four:           Walk for at least 30-45 minutes a day, at least 5 days per week.   It is a fact that walking is the most efficient quickest way to lose excess body fat. Yes, walking….not running, not biking, not step class or dance aerobics…but walking!  “Why?” you ask, “But I sweat so much more when I’m running or spinning?”  Yes, but high energy cardio activities such as running and spinning burn up mostly the glucose (sugar) that is stored up in the liver, not body fat. The higher the intensity of cardio and the harder you breathe, the faster the body needs an uptake of fuel to power the body.  So, the body goes straight for the sugar reserves stored in the liver. While great for the heart and lungs, high intensity aerobics are not as effective at burning body fat and actually often burn up vital muscle mass in the process.  Walking requires a much slower uptake of energy and after about the first 20 minutes of walking, the body begins to tap into its reserves of stored body fat. This is why I recommend walking for 45 minutes or even 60 minutes if you have the time.

Step Five:            Weight Train 2-3 days per week.  Believe me when I tell you, especially the lady’s please listen up, weight training will do far more to shape your body than aerobics class ever will!  I am very serious, and I don’t want to upset my fitness class instructors out there!  Fitness class is great for fitness, but the most effective way to reshape and tone the body is through weight training. The other more important point is that muscle mass regulates metabolism. A pound of muscle requires four times the amount of energy (food) to survive as a pound of fat.  The more muscle you have the higher your metabolism, the more you can eat!  Cardio raises metabolism ONLY while you are doing it, muscle mass raises your metabolism all day and even while you sleep!  Most people do not know that after the age of 30 our muscle mass will naturally shrink roughly 10% every 10 years if we do not do anything to maintain it. That means an inactive 60 year old woman who is the same weight she was in her 20’s now has 30% more fat and 30% less muscle than she had at 20 even if she is the same weight of 125lbs.  This is one of the reasons why we get “flabbier” as we age.  By weight training we can keep from losing muscle and even grow more muscle mass at any age.  The key is, you cannot just go through the motions on the machine…you really need to push yourself, increase your weight over time and lift weights to “build muscle”. For the ladies reading this, I will assure you with 100% certainty that you will not bulk up. I spent many years bodybuilding and I will tell you it is very difficult to put on large amounts of muscle, especially for woman. The woman you see in fitness magazines are working out several hours a day and eat very strict diets to look the way they do.  You do not have to worry about bulking up.  I would also like to make a suggestion, if you don’t know how to weight train properly – hire a licensed Personal Trainer who does to teach you!  I used to tell my clients, “you would never attempt to work on your own car, refrigerator or TV; you would hire a professional who knows how these things work. Your body is so much more complicated than any of these things.  Proper form in an exercise is absolutely the difference between results, no results and injury.  In the gym I’ve watched people come day after day and gain no results because they really had no idea what they were doing. It is really worth it to hire someone to teach you and learn the right way to weight train. You will avoid injuries and damage to your joints and you will see results much quicker. I hired a trainer before I ever became one and trained with him for years. However, you don’t need to do that. I recommend hiring a trainer for 3-6 sessions to learn proper form and a personalized routine. He/she should also write down for you a routine that you can follow on your own. Then, meet with your trainer every 2-3 months so they can assess your progress and prescribe a new regimen.  Otherwise, the body will quickly adjust to the routine and will not continue to grow.  A good trainer is money well spent. What my trainer taught me is invaluable and will last me for the rest of my life. 

Step Six:              Eat!  Eat and enjoy eating!  Eat for your health and “eat to lose weight.”  Eat small meals every 3-4 hours all day long. DON’T ever “not eat” or skip meals.  The body is like a furnace and if you don’t feed it the fire goes out and the furnace shuts down. The best way to keep the metabolism revved up is too eat all day long!  Do you know it takes more calories to digest a piece of broccoli than is even in the broccoli, so you can eat broccoli all day long and lose weight doing it!  The key is to keep a stable even blood sugar, all day long. When we don’t eat blood sugar drops which leads to fatigue and cravings. Then to compensate we over eat and insulin spikes and we begin a rollercoaster ride of overeating and fat storage. So, bottom line, eat all day long every 3-4 hours, small meals and healthy snacks. This will require you to plan ahead. Carry in your bag, car or to work, things you can eat quickly. For me, I take along nuts, protein bars, fruits, boiled eggs, trail mix or anything else I can put in a baggie.  A meal for me might be a handful of cashews, a protein bar, or two boiled eggs for example.

Step Seven:        Focus your thoughts on eating, not “not eating.”  This is a very simple, obvious point that many people just don’t get.  Read it again.  In my experience of training woman and men, I found that woman have the most difficult time with this.  You have a choice, you can either obsess and focus all day long on the fact that you can’t eat Oreo cookies, your favorite snack or you can choose to focus on everything you can now eat without guilt!  Filet Mignon, Shrimp, cashews, and strawberries…or whatever you love. Focus on what you can eat and what you love to eat.  Focus on the fact that you are now eating for health; you are feeding your body, mind and soul with nourishment. Do not focus on any aspect of deprivation, starvation or losing weight > this is all focusing on “lack” and will keep you feeling in a state of lack and sacrifice and feeling deprived. This is not about sacrifice!  This is about gaining health, gaining muscle tone, abundance, nourishment; joy in eating and feeding yourself not only healthy foods but healthy thoughts and intentions.  Everything you do or don’t do starts in your head. If you don’t get your head right in the beginning, you will self sabotage and even the best trainer will not keep you on track. Start by getting your head straight!

Step Eight:          Keep a Journal.  This will do wonders to help you get your head straight by pinpointing what triggers you to veer off in to unhealthy self-sabotaging behaviors.  I kept a journal for a year once I initially started on my own journey to better health.  In doing so, I learned a mountain of information about myself that had nothing to do with food!  I learned through my own journaling and training my clients that people very rarely eat for hunger and more often eat for stress, depression, loneliness, boredom and a whole host of other reasons. I also learned how different foods affected my mood and energy levels.  Every human body and soul is totally unique and the best thing you can do is get in tune with yours and learn it inside and out.  I realized quickly working as a personal trainer that most people are very disconnected from their physical bodies.  They really spend no time or energy understanding it or tracking its natural ebb and flow.  Buy a small journal that you can carry with you, a small notepad will due. Take it everywhere with you.  Write every single thing you put in to your mouth down in it daily, even a stick of gum, diet soda or tick tac!  Leave nothing out.

Track your sugar, but NOT your calories.  Keep your sugars in check and eat.  Calories in and out do matter, but I find when people focus on calories it is counterproductive for many reasons.  If you are eating all day long, small meals every 3-4 hours you will not be tempted to over eat any way.  To restrict calories to low is counterproductive, as is to have a set amount of calories daily.  It is best to fluctuate your calorie intake from day to day by 500-1000, so that the body does not adjust to a set amount.  Eat naturally, but don’t binge or over indulge.  Again, small meals every 3-4 hours will keep the furnace going and the metabolism revved up. Write down whatever exercise you did that day. Write down how your energy level was that day, high or low?  Write down how you were feeling, happy, stressed, depressed?  Make each page a day and date the page.  If you begin reading your journal entries you will begin to see patterns emerge. You will see emotional reactions that may trigger you to binge on unhealthy foods, you will begin to notice things like after you binged on cookies, the next day you had a headache because your blood sugar got to low. You will begin to see correlations between high energy days and low energy days and the foods you ate on those days.  You will notice all sorts of things about your body, your eating patterns and behaviors and all the mental and emotional issues that you attach to food.  Knowledge is power…observe yourself and learn.

Step Nine:          Patience, Persistence, Perseverance and discipline! It is not realistic to expect these changes to happen in only a few weeks or even months. I used to tell my clients, “If it took you 10 years to gain this much weight you are not going to lose it in 2 months!”  Now that does not mean it takes as long to lose weight as gain it, but the point is it took your body a long time to get out of shape and it will take some time to get it back in to shape.  If you lack the discipline to be patient and persevere than find a way to create and foster the discipline you lack. Of course, as I recommend before a trainer is great for that. A workout buddy is another option.  I paid my trainer long after I knew how to exercise properly for the sheer fact that I did not trust my own discipline. I knew if I was paying to meet him to bust my hump 3 days a week I’d be more likely to show up and do the work. Eventually through the repetition of training with him day in and out, year after year I developed enough discipline to do it on my own. Now, more than 10 years later I still follow the exact same program I have outlined for you here.  This program is part of my life and weekly routine and my weight is a complete non-issue at this point.

Step Ten:             A Reward Day (cheat day) Now, I’m going to tell you that these steps are practical, simple steps in the right direction but they may not be easy. Depending on your current lifestyle, health and eating habits this may be relatively easy or very difficult. Change is never easy even if it represents progress and improvement, change is not easy!  You are making a lifestyle change and that change is not a single choice or moment of decision, it IS a process.   The process will be the culmination of many choices and a commitment to making these choices for the rest of your life.  You WILL fall off the wagon so to speak and you will have good days and some bad.  I promise you though, that if you don’t give up, keep coming back to your center, and making these choices over and over, the bad days will become farther and farther between.  If you do have a bad day, so what!  Start over again the next day and let it go!  DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT spend one minute or thought the next day on what you did the day before, It’s done – let it go…period.  Every day is a new day.  I also believe it is very important to have a reward day once a week. For me that day is Sunday. I have a strict rule, that on vacation, holidays and Sunday’s I eat whatever I want.  Now, let me be clear by holiday, I mean Thanksgiving or Christmas Day meals…..not the month of December and every Christmas celebration of the month. You get the picture. Personally I love birthday cake with butter cream icing and I think life is way too precious and short to not eat birthday cake. So, on my birthday I eat cake!  I don’t cut a small sliver either, I eat as much as I want until I’m so full of cake, that I think to myself I don’t want any more cake for a long time or my next birthday!  I also love ice cream and I am not willing to live my life without the simple pleasure of a little Ben & Jerry’s, so on Sunday’s I eat ice cream.  It is really not a problem for the body to digest ice cream one day a week if that’s what you crave, but it is a problem to have ice cream every night after dinner. I say, have the ice cream but let it be a reward and a treat that you look forward to one day a week.  Of course, insert your favorite food in place of ice cream…but you get the idea.  I am a huge believer in most things in moderation, but you have to know your own limits. If I have ice cream in the freezer I’ll eat it. So, I only buy a small Ben & Jerry’s quart and eat it all in one sitting with none left over because I know if I buy a gallon, I’ll eat a gallon!  If you can’t control yourself, don’t buy it!

Finally, life is short, it’s meant to be enjoyed not endured.  Enjoy your life and enjoy the food you eat.  Take all judgment of who you are off your attachment to food and the fatty deposits on your body.  Do not judge yourself or others for what you or they eat or how much fat you or they have stored.  If you eat because you’re bored, find a hobby. If you eat because you’re lonely, get a dog or join a dating service!  If you eat because you don’t believe you deserve happiness, or love, or because you feel you’re not worthy, then you have to get that right in your head first or nothing else you do will work. Health is about balance and balance must be achieved on every level of the mental, emotional and physical aspects of the individual.

I have touched on several key points to better health and healthy weight in my Blog. I encourage you to take these points and use them as a jumping off point and learn more. There is plenty of information out there on everything I have discussed in this Blog, so get to work!

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