Tempted to try the latest Magic Slimming Pills?

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Summer is just around the corner. You know what that means, right?

It means every gym is super packed, every diet book is flying off the shelves, and every supplement company is trying to push their latest “fat loss pill.”

Why?

Because with bathing suit season around the corner, many people are trying to lose weight.

I absolutely love seeing people make the decision to make a positive change in their weight and their health, and I love seeing people adopt a new healthy eating and exercise plan.

What I DON’T love, though, are the diet pill companies that promote their “magic” potions and pills as the easiest and best way to lose weight and keep it off. It upsets me that many of these companies take advantage of people who want to make a positive change in their lives by selling them products that may not work or (even worse) do more harm than good by damaging their metabolism.

I am going to make a bold statement here and say that if a “diet” program requires you to purchase their pills and shakes to make the diet work, you should be very, very cautious (and probably look for a different program).

I can tell you with 100% certainty that all you need in order to successfully lose weight and keep it off is wholesome, natural food…and that’s it! Oh, and water, of course. But magic pills or shakes are absolutely not necessary to drop the excess fat off your body and keep it off for good.

That is why I teach my clients and my readers exactly how to use REAL, delicious, and wholesome foods in order to boost metabolism, feel energized, and lose tons of fat at the same time.

Yes we also tell you about weight loss surgery as a tool to assist the morbidly obese … but it’s a TOOL not MAGIC WAND … you still need to eat right for it to work.

Successful Weight Loss Requires Attitude Change

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Do you find your attitude during your weight loss to a bit of a roller coaster?

Are you good when you’re eating healthy and working out, but bad when you’ve slipped, binged or neglected your health?

We’ve all been there. Losing weight is a challenge and requires a long term commitment and a lot of patience.In order to be successful, you need to change your attitude for weight loss.

Focus on the positive.

You are the only one in charge of your thoughts and attitude. The constant negative thoughts and words start to become a habit. Pay attention to what you think and say to yourself or about yourself.

Every time you have a negative thought or attitude, stop and remind yourself that all big things take time.

Remind yourself how far you’ve come and focus on the ultimate goal. Most important – stop beating yourself up.

Remember this is not a quick fix.

This is a life-long commitment. A marriage between you and your health. So unless you’re ready to divorce the health and weight loss effort altogether, learn to love who you two are together.

As with any marriage, there will be days that are great, and days that you want to run away to Rio.

Learn to embrace this relationship, even though it’s not perfect.

Work out issues as you go along, and forgive the occasional cheat.

Reward yourself.

We often seem to be berating ourself for bad behavior, but quite often forget to reward ourselves for the small “wins” that happen with weight loss. I’m not talking just the numbers on the scale, but the efforts and actions that go into each day of your new healthy lifestyle.

Did your day consist of eating healthy and a 3 mile walk? Acknowledge that with yourself and with others.

Flying solo is lonely.

Find others that will help lift you up and keep you positive. By joining our weight loss group, our members enjoy access to a private Members Facebook page. This private page is an amazing support system for our members. I love seeing the way people post about their “sucesses” and how supportive all the other members are with their comments on that post.  We should do that everyday.

Be proud of your accomplishments with more positive self-talk. This will lead to behaviors that reflect those actions. Over time, you will begin to notice that you want to repeat those behaviors in order to get that good feeling.

You are the guide to your thoughts and behaviors.

Take responsibility not only for your physical actions of eating healthy and exercising, but the mental actions of having positive thoughts and attitude.

Not only will you become a happier person, you will find it easier it to lose weight and keep it off.

Aren’t you worth it?

How to get toned arms without using weights

Maybe you’re not the gym type. Maybe the repetitive movement of pumping iron just doesn’t appeal to you. But you still deserve great arms, right? No worries! You can still get your biceps and triceps toned for summer–minus the weights. Here’s how:

The following arm toning exercises focus mainly on biceps and triceps and most are simply movements. Combine any of these toning exercises with 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise and you’re good to go.

1. Arm Circles
Toning Benefits: Arm circles benefit your triceps, biceps and shoulders.
Standing straight, or sitting in chair without a back, if you need to sit, stretch both arms out to your sides. Also flatten your hands, palms down. Begin by making small circles in a clockwise motion. Keep arms strong and firm. Do as many as you can in one direction, then reverse and go counter clockwise.
You should feel these right away, and your arms will tire. Do between one and three sets a day.

2. Ball Toss
Toning Benefits: Triceps
This exercise can be done with a small cantaloupe (or a sports or medicine ball). Lie on a bench, or on a towel or mat on the floor. Bend knees and put your feet on the floor. Hold the fruit or ball slightly above your chest with both hands. Toss the object in the air as you straighten your arms. Catch the object and repeat.

3. Bicep Curls
Toning Benefits: Biceps
Bicep curls can be performed in either a standing or sitting position. Keep elbows close to the body and move the forearms until your hands come up to your chest. This exercise can be performed by just clenching your fists. Or, hold a soup can in each hand for added weight. Move both of your arms at the same time.

4. Military-Style Push Ups
Toning Benefits: Triceps, deltoids, pecs
The military-style push up is a killer work out. If your reason not to do push ups is that your carpet needs to be vacuumed, you’ll need another excuse, because, you won’t be spending much time on the floor.
In fact, only the palms of you hands and the tips of your toes should be on the floor at all times.
Start with elbows bent, our shoulder blades pushed slightly together, straighten your legs and flex your feet. Raise your body up, paying attention to keeping your abdomen muscles locked in tight. Focus your efforts on using your chest muscles and arms when doing push ups.
Lower down about two inches to the floor without touching it. Do a set of 10 military style push ups.

5. Tricep Dip
Toning Benefits: Triceps
Sit on the edge of a stable chair or bench. Stretch both legs out in front of you. Move your body until you are no longer on the chair. Raise and lower your body, using your triceps muscles. You will definitely feel this.

How to Set Aggressive Goals for Weight Loss

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The more you let yourself slide on a diet, the less weight you’ll lose. The following are some of the aggressive goals that have led many people to achieve their desired weight.

Strict Daily Calorie Intake

If you need 1,200 calories a day to lose up to two pounds a week, and that is what you want to do, you must stick to that calorie allowance each day. It’s not okay to go over by a hundred calories because for every few calories over that limit, it will build up to less weight loss.

Set Meal Plan

Many people have an easier time staying on track with a diet if they have a meal plan in place.  This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. By planning your meals, you will be able to stay on track with calorie intake, and stop yourself from picking up some quick junk food to satisfy hunger.

Daily Weight or Inch Loss Check

Some people on a diet will only check their weight every week. Checking your weight or inch loss keeps you on track with your diet. It reminds you of your goals, and gives you motivation at times to keep going. For these reasons, many people suggest checking weight or inch loss every day, first thing in the morning, and wearing nothing at all.

Exercise 3X a Week at Least

Exercise burns the calories you can’t help but eat. This is why it is important to burn off at least one meal a week with exercise. Start slowly with exercise, or you’ll burn yourself out physically and mentally.  If you can’t run for 30 minutes when you first start exercising, don’t push yourself or worry about it. Simply start with five or ten minutes, and then increase the time each day or week depending on your ability.

Keep Positive and Don’t Give Up

You won’t lose the weight in an instant. Remember, you didn’t gain the weight overnight, so you won’t lose it overnight. Do what you have to do every day that will lead you to losing weight, and soon, you’ll start to see the numbers on the scale going on.

7 “FATTY” Foods that Can Help You to Get a Washboard Stomach

These 7 shocking Fatty (but healthy) super-foods can actually help you to burn body fat faster!

At this point, the anti-fat propaganda has died and almost everybody understands by now that eating fat doesn’t necessarily make you fat. 

In fact, it’s absolutely imperative to get enough healthy fats in your diet to keep your hormones balanced, blood sugar under control, and prevent cravings.

1.  Super Dark Chocolate (at least 72% cacao content or higher).

It might not be a secret anymore, but yes, dark chocolate (NOT milk chocolate) can be a very healthy food, even though it is technically calorie dense.

However, I would contend that dark chocolate can actually HELP you to burn off more body fat if you’re the type of person that has a sweet tooth and likes to eat a lot of desserts.  In this case, just 1 or 2 small squares of dark chocolate can many times satisfy your sweet tooth for only 30 or 40 calories as opposed to 500 calories for a piece of chocolate cake or a piece of pie.

Also some brands of dark chocolate that are in the mid 70’s in % cacao content or higher, can have a fairly high ratio of fiber content (I’ve seen some brands have 5 grams of fiber out of 15 grams of total carbs per serving), and relatively low sugar content compared to the amount of healthy fats.  In fact, that’s one of the “tricks” I use to select a good quality chocolate… I look for more total fat than total carbs (or about the same number of grams of each).

The importance of that fact is that it means many dark chocolates will not greatly affect your blood sugar and will have a fairly blunted blood sugar response compared to other “sweets”.

In addition, dark chocolate is also very rich in healthful antioxidants, including a powerful compound called theobromine which has been shown to help lower blood pressure and have other health benefits.  The fat content in a good dark chocolate should come solely from the natural healthy fats occuring in cocoa butter and not from any other added fats.  Any chocolates with added fats or other additives will generally not be as healthy.

The reason I say to choose dark chocolates with at least 72% cacao content is that the higher the % of cacao, the lower the % of sugar.  However, this does mean that any chocolate over 80% cacao content will generally start to get a more bitter taste and have very little sweetness.  If you like this type of taste, then the higher % cocao, the better. Otherwise, a good 75% dark chocolate is in my opinion an almost perfect combination of lightly sweet with a rich chocolate taste.  Just remember to keep those daily quantities of chocolate small as it is calorie dense!

You can also reap the benefits of the antioxidants and fiber without all of the calories by using organic unsweetened cocoa powder in your smoothies or other recipes.

2.  Coconut milk, coconut flour, and coconut oil.

Coconut milk and oil are great sources of a super healthy type of saturated fat called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), including a component called lauric acid, which is a powerful nutrient for your immune system, and is lacking in most western diets.  In addition, MCTs are readily used for energy by the body and less likely to be stored as bodyfat compared to other types of fats.

Along with coconut milk and coconut oil as healthy fat choices, we’ve also got coconut flour as a healthier flour option for baking. Coconut flour is an extremely high fiber flour alternative (almost ALL of the carbs in this flour are fiber and not starch!).  Coconut flour is also VERY high in protein compared to most flours and is also gluten free!

Just beware that if you’re going to use coconut flour for baking, it absolutely NEEDS to be mixed with other flours as it sucks up moisture like crazy… I’ve made delicious baked goods by mixing coconut flour with almond flour and quinoa flour in equal parts, and adding slightly more liquid ingredients than the recipe calls for.

3.  Grass-fed (pasture-raised) butter.

Yes, delicious smooth and rich BUTTER (real butter, not deadly margarine!)… It’s delicious, contains loads of healthy nutritional factors, and does NOT have to be avoided in order to get lean.  In fact, I eat a couple pats of grass-fed butter daily and maintain single digit bodyfat most times of the year.

There’s a lot of confusion about this topic… in fact, I just saw a TV show today that was talking about unhealthy foods and one of the first things they showed was butter.  It just shows that the majority of the population has zero idea that butter (grass-fed only!) can actually be a healthy part of your diet.

In fact, there’s even ample evidence that REAL butter can even help you to lose body fat for a couple of main reasons:

   a.  Grass-fed butter is known to have high levels of a healthy fat called CLA, which has been shown to have anti-cancer properties, and also has been shown to help burn abdominal fat and build lean muscle.

   b.  Grass-fed butter also has an ideal balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids (unlike conventional grain-fed butter) which helps fight inflammation in your body, and can help balance hormones.

   c.  The healthy fats in grass-fed butter also contain MCTs, which help to boost your immune system and are readily burned by the body for energy.  The healthy fats in grass-fed butter also help to satisfy your appetite and control blood sugar levels, both of which help you to stay lean!

If you have a hard time finding a grass-fed butter at your grocery store, Kerrygold Irish butter is one of my favorites, and even though the label doesn’t clearly state “grass-fed”, the cows are 100% grass-fed on lush green pastures in Ireland. It’s one of the richest butters in color that I’ve seen, which indicates high levels of carotenoids.

4.  Whole Eggs, including the yolk (not just egg whites).

Most people know that eggs are one of the highest quality sources of protein.  However, most people don’t know that the egg yolks are the healthiest part of the egg… that’s where almost all of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (such as lutein) are found in eggs.

In fact, the egg yolks contain more than 90% of the calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, B6, folate, and B12, and panthothenic acid of the egg. In addition, the yolks contain ALL of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K in the egg, as well as ALL of the essential fatty acids.  Also, the protein of whole eggs is more bio-available than egg whites alone due to a more balanced amino acid profile that the yolks help to build.

Just make sure to choose free-range organic eggs instead of normal grocery store eggs.  Similar to the grass-fed beef scenerio, the nutrient content of the eggs and the balance between healthy omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids (in excess) is controlled by the diet of the hens.

Chickens that are allowed to roam free outside and eat a more natural diet will give you healthier, more nutrient-rich eggs with a healthier fat balance compared with your typical grocery store eggs (that came from chickens fed nothing but soy and corn and crowded inside “egg factories” all day long).

If you want more details on eggs, here is an article that details more about why egg yolks are BETTER for you than egg whites.

5.  Grass-fed beef or bison (NOT the typical grocery store beef!).

I know most people think that red meat is unhealthy for you, but that’s because they do not understand how the health of the animal affects how healthy the meat is for consumption.  Keep this in mind — “an unhealthy animal provides unhealthy meat, but a healthy animal provides healthy meat”.

Typical beef or bison that you see at the grocery store is raised on grains, mainly corn (and to some extent, soybeans). Soy and corn are NOT the natural diet of cattle or bison, and therefore changes the chemical balance of fats and other nutrients in the beef or bison.  Grain-fed beef and bison is typically WAY too high in omega-6 fats and WAY too low in omega-3 fats.  In addition, the practice of feeding cattle corn and soy as the main portion of their diet upsets their digestive system and makes them sick… and it also increases the amount of dangerous e-coli in the meat.  This is not the case with grass-fed meat.

On the other hand, grass-fed beef from cattle and buffalo (or bison) that were raised on the type of natural foods that they were meant to eat in nature (grass and other forage), have much higher levels of healthy omega-3 fats and lower levels of inflammatory omega-6 fats (that most people already eat way too much of) compared to grain fed beef or bison.

Grass fed meats also typically contain up to 3 times the Vitamin E as in grain fed meats.

In addition, grass-fed meat from healthy cattle or bison also contain a special healthy fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in MUCH higher levels than grain-fed meat.  CLA has been proven in scientific studies in recent years to help in burning fat and building lean muscle (which can help you lose weight!).  These benefits are on top of the fact that grass-fed meats are some of the highest quality proteins that you can possibly eat… and this also aids in burning fat and building lean muscle.

Grass-fed meats are a little harder to find, but just ask your butcher or find a specialty grocery store and they usually have cuts available.

6.  Avocados.

Even though avocados are typically thought of as a “fatty food”, they are chock full of healthy fats!  Not only is this fruit (yes, surprisingly, avocados are actually a fruit) super-high in monounsaturated fat, but also chock full of vitamins, minerals, micro-nutrients, and antioxidants.

Also, guacamole (mashed avocados with garlic, onion, tomato, pepper, etc) is one of the most delicious food toppings ever created, and you can be happy to know that it’s also one of the healthiest toppings you can use on your foods.

Try sliced avocados or guacamole on sandwiches, burgers, eggs or omelets, on salads or with fish, or as a delicious side to just about any meal.

The quality dose of healthy fats, fiber, and micronutrients that you get from avocados helps your body to maintain proper levels of hormones that help with fat loss and muscle building.  Also, since avocados are an extremely satiating food, eating them helps to reduce your appetite in the hours after your meal.  Say goodbye to junk food cravings and bring on that fat burning!  I personally eat anywhere from a half to a full avocado DAILY and it only helps to keep me lean.

7.  Nuts:  Walnuts, Almonds, Pistachios, Pecans, Brazil Nuts, Macadamias, etc.

Yes, this is yet another “fatty food” that can actually help you burn belly fat!  Although nuts are generally between 75-90% fat in terms of a ratio of fat calories to total calories, this is another type of food that is all healthy fats, along with high levels of micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  Nuts are also a good source of fiber and protein, which of course, you know helps to control blood sugar and can aid in fat loss.

Nuts also help to maintain good levels of fat burning hormones in your body (adequate healthy fat intake is vitally important to hormone balance) as well as helping to control appetite and cravings so that you essentially eat less calories overall, even though you’re consuming a high-fat food.  My favorite healthy nuts are pecans, pistachios, almonds, macadamias, and walnuts, and by eating them in variety, you help to broaden the types of vitamins and minerals and also the balance of polyunsaturated to monounsaturated fats you obtain.

Try to find raw nuts instead of roasted nuts if you can, as it helps to maintain the quality and nutritional content of the healthy fats that you will eat.

Also, try to broaden your horizons beyond the typical peanut butter that most people eat, and try almond butter, cashew butter, pecan butter, or macadamia butter to add variety to your diet.

One of the little “tricks” that I’ve used with clients when trying to cut down body fat is to have them eat a handful of nuts such as almonds or pecans about 20 minutes before lunch and dinner.  This ends up being a perfect time to control your appetite before lunch or dinner and helps you to eat less overall calories on that meal.

Why choose high protein snacks?

Protein is an important nutrient in the body for a number of reasons, including providing essential amino acids required for building new cells in the body.  Protein is a component of every cell and hair and nails are made almost completely from protein.

The body does not store protein as it does other macronutrients such as carbohydrates, so we need to eat it to provide the building blocks for enzymes, hormones, bones, skin, blood and muscle cells.

A good level of protein is especially important when you are dieting or undertaking an intensive training regime to ensure that muscle mass is not lost.  If you are not eating a sufficient amount of protein and your stores of carbohydrates are depleted, muscle may be burnt as a source of fuel, leading to loss of muscle mass.  This loss of muscles makes you weaker and more prone to injury.

Eating a diet high in protein is thought to promote satiety and help to keep blood sugar levels constant.  There is also some suggestion that a high protein diet may be effective in reducing risk of some lifestyle diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, however it is important to note that best effects were usually seen with strict calorie controlled diets that were also low in unhealthy fats.

By snacking on healthy, high protein foods, you may find you are less hungry and therefore less tempted to reach for unhealthy snacks or over eat at meal times thus resulting in fewer calories consumed and possible weight loss.

If you do not normally eat much protein in your diet, snacks are a good way to ensure you meet your requirements and may help those who are very active to maintain muscle and build strength.

After a tough workout, a snack that is high in protein and low GI carbohydrates may be the best option for recovery and to keep blood sugar levels stable (see also: healthy post workout snacks)

How much protein is required?

The US department of health and human services recommends that women consume about 5 ounces of protein per day, although six may be more appropriate for very active women.

Most people easily meet protein requirements daily, although vegetarians and vegans may have more trouble eating this amount.

Healthy High Protein Snack Ideas

 1. Nuts and seeds

Peanuts on PlateThese make the perfect snack on the run as they are easily transportable and keep well.  A small box of these in the car or on your desk at the office makes a quick and easy, yet satisfying snack.

Nuts and seeds are packed full of nutrients and high in healthy fats as well as proteins, making them a nutritious treat.  Unfortunately, nuts and seeds are high in calories due to their high fat content, so it is important to keep serving sizes small, particularly if you are watching your weight.

A small handful should be enough to keep you going without providing too much energy.

For the healthiest snack, choose nuts that are raw and unsalted, as roasted varieties tend to be higher in fat and very salty ones often leave you craving more.  For a balanced post workout snack, add a few pieces of dried fruit for carbohydrates and variety.

2. Yogurt

greek-yogurtHigh in calcium, vitamin D and protein, yogurt can help to maintain healthy bones as well as make a tasty, nutritious snack.  Women are particularly at risk of osteoporosis later in life, so a good calcium intake is vital.

Low fat varieties are the lowest in saturated fats, however may be higher in sugar and therefore calories than normal varieties.  A low fat natural or Greek yogurt is the best option, but check labels to be sure as these can vary from brand to brand.

Top with a little muesli, nuts, seeds or fruit for a more substantial snack.

3. Low fat milk

glass-low-fat-milkOnce again high in calcium as well as protein, milk makes a versatile base for many different high protein snacks.  Try blending with fresh or frozen fruit for a healthy smoothie, or adding a little cocoa for a warming drink that fills you up.

Soy or almond milk makes a good alternative if you do not drink milk.  Always choose low fat varieties for the least saturated fat.

 

4. Tuna fish

canned-tunaCanned Tuna and any other fish in a can make an ideal high protein snack.  Serve on whole grain crackers or in a salad for added vitamins and minerals or buy snack sized tins with added flavours such as sweet chilli or lemon pepper for a more convenient snack on the go and eat with a fork.

For the lowest calorie option, choose fish packed in water.  If you are not concerned about calories, those canned in extra virgin olive oil add some extra healthy fat.

5. Eggs

eggsEggs may have gotten bad press in the past, but they are currently endorsed as a healthy food that can be eaten daily and they are certainly packed full of nutrition as well as protein.

A hard-boiled egg makes a more transportable snack, or poach on whole grain toast with spinach for a more substantial snack or meal.

 

6. Legumes

LegumesChickpeas, lentils and beans are all good sources of protein, especially for vegetarians.  They are also high in other nutrients, particularly fibre which is important for bowel health.  Dips made with beans or chick peas such as hummus with vegetables or whole grain crackers make an ideal snack, or try dried varieties.

Be aware though that some flavoured and fried varieties can have as much fat and salt as potato chips, meaning they are not a healthy choice.

 

7. Nut butters

nut-butterA spread of nut butter on crackers or even fruit or vegetables can add protein to a snack that is normally low in this nutrient.

Peanut or almond butter make a nice topping for celery, apple or banana slices or can even be eaten by the spoonful.

 

 

 

8. Cheese

cheeseCheese is an excellent source of protein, but hard cheeses are generally high in saturated fat, so soft white cheeses make a better option from this perspective.  Unfortunately soft cheeses are generally not as high in calcium, but are a good choice if you have plenty of other calcium sources in your diet.

Spread on crackers or dip fruit and vegetables for a healthy and tasty high protein fix.  Hard cheeses are fine in small quantities, but due to the high saturated fat content, they should not be an everyday food.

Choose stronger flavoured cheeses so you can use less but still get great flavour.

9. Tofu

tofuTofu is a great protein alternative for vegetarians and meat eaters alike.  Low in fat and high in isoflavones, which are thought to have health benefits particularly for women.

Marinated tofu makes for more interesting flavour, but remember that fried varieties may be higher in fat and calories.  Plain tofu stir-fried with a few veggies makes a more filling snack.

 

 

10. Protein bars

protein-barsWhile there is really not need to spend so much money to get your protein fix, (these are normally expensive), there is no doubt they are convenient on the run and may also contain other valuable nutrients.

Sufficient protein can easily be obtained from natural foods; however, the occasional bar is probably a better choice than a high sugar product such as granola bars.

 

Can you leave food on your plate?

Growing up, you probably got the same speel from your parents as I got. “you can’t leave the table until you have finished everything on your plate”, or worse still, “Finish your dinner or NO DESERT!”.

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This works well when you are a kid, but now that we are all grown up, we can’t be afraid to leave food on our plates. The key here is to know when you are full, and to stop eating. If that means you still have food on your plate, so be it. It is not the end of the world (as your mother may have made you think). Food can always be put into the refrigerator for another time.  Here are a couple of tips to help you to stop eating when you have had enough to eat: 1.       Serve yourself a smaller portion. 2.       Don’t go back for seconds. 3.       If you’re at a restaurant, don’t use the excuse that you paid for it so should finish it. 4.       Don’t eat as if it is your last meal. You will eat again, so there is no need to gorge yourself on food now. 5.       Get out of the habit of feeling “stuffed” at the end of a meal. When you get this feeling, it means you have over eaten. We want to eliminate this feeling all together!  Good luck and happy weight loss