Wednesday, November 28, 2012

3 basic steps for reigning in the holiday season weight gain.

Eat too much over the holidays?
So I went a little crazy over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Alot of you probably did too. I gained 3 lbs and I started out on the heavy side of my normal weight range so overall I need to drop 5 to 10 pounds to get back to where I like to be. 5lbs is acceptable and 10lbs would be awesome. I know how to do this in a smart and controlled way so I am not stressing about it and thats my first piece of advise to you too.

 Step 1 is easy, just don't worry about it. Seriously, worry leads to stress and stress leads to higher levels of Cortisol in the blood stream and that leads to more food being stored to fat. In short, worry leads to weight gain. Higher levels of Cortisol sustained in the blood stream is specifically linked to increased abdominal fat, which is associated with a greater amount of health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body. Some of the health problems associated with increased stomach fat are heart attacks, strokes, the development of metabolic syndrome, higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL), which can lead to other health problems.

Sources of sugar
Step 2 is a bit more difficult and it's not your fault. Stop eating sugar in mass quantities. I don't mean just the obvious sugar's (sucrose) like the marshmallow topping on the candied yams. Those obvious sources of sugar in cookies, cakes, pies and sodas are expected to be banished but what about the hidden sugar we don't think about such as the dinner rolls or Mom's special stuffing. Breads and grain products break down in the stomach very quickly to sugar (glucose) and very little else. Think about that. Your morning cereal, your lunch time sandwich and your pizza for dinner are all out the window. If you want to drop the weight quickly you need to be aware of all the sources of sugar you take in, even fruit sugar (fructose) should be limited. If you are a juicer take your juice by the shot glass, not by the cup. If you are a smoothie maker leave the skin on the washed fruit so you can get all of the benefits of the fiber. That fiber will help slow down the absorbtion of the sugar into the bloodstream. If you are worried about low blood sugar you can always buy a cheap monitor but thats probably not needed. Just stick to vegetables and lean meat with some whole fruit on the side and you will be fine. When I made an effort to lower the amount of sugar I was taking in and I really started to think about whether or not a particular food was high in sugar I immediately started dropping pounds. It was a big adjustment for me because I was a cereal eater in the morning, a fast food guy at lunch and dinner always involved bread, pasta, rice or tortillas. I started by eating more eggs and vegetables in the morning. I take last nights dinner left overs for lunch and dinner is now meat & vegetable based. Night time snacks switched to trail mix without the candy pieces that most contain. Keep in mind that when the blood sugar level spikes up you will have added energy and when it falls back down so will your energy and that produces a craving for more sugar. Don't be fooled into thinking you can have the occassional    fill in the blank      . It will leave you craving for more.

Sources of proteins
Step 3 is to replace the wheat products (breads & cerals mostly) and sugary foods with more protein. You can not take away a big chunk of the food that you consume on a daily basis and not replace it with something. You will be a hungry miserable wreck in no time. Take in more protein at dinner by adding in grass fed beef products, free range chicken, white fish & salmon or if your vegetarian you can add in different kinds of tofu and other soy based products. I like steamed edamame with a dash of salt and a dash of soy sauce. Various nuts & seeds can help fill you up and give you the added protein & fat you need to replace the sugars your dropping. My cupboard has the industrial sized container of smokehouse almonds at all times. A handful of that and a handful of dried cranberries is a 2 second snack that packs a punch in your hunger. Protein will help you feel fuller longer and the good thing about protein is that it is very difficult to eat too much. If you eat too many carbs your body stores that excess sugar as fat but too much protein will not store to fat. Instead the body just gets rid of it in the restroom.

These 3 steps are the basics of a fast weight drop and when I say fast I mean 3 or more pounds per week depending on the variables. Not worrying and giving yourself some time to make these adjustments and let them take effect and then see some results is an excercise in patience. Cutting out the sugars and being mindful of all of the sources of hidden sugar is an excercise in self control. The last step is the icing on the cake. Eating a good amount of all natural, lean protein from a variety of sources is an excercise in creativity. I bake chicken breasts, fry bacon and chop alot of vegetables on Sunday and then the rest of the week I get creative by combining chicken & vegetables with eggs or whatever to come up with my own favorites. I am in love with bacon & vegetable fritatas. I make a really good chicken & vegetable stirfry. Adding in broth is a simple soup. Chicken taco salads are another favorite. I have been known to make pot roasts or pork roasts on Sundays as well and then shredd the meat for various meals throughout the week. You just have to dive into your creative side and start looking for ways to get more lean proteins & healthy fats and less sugar.

Tracking calories, drinking plenty of water, taking a multi-vitamin and switching up your workout routines are all pretty basic advice as well and worth doing if your so inclined. But I am convinced that without these 3 basic diet changes you will struggle with losing weight. You may drop 1 lb this week and 2 lbs next week but I can tell you from personal expierience that working out to the point of exhaustion every day and being half committed to my healthy eating resulted in slow, frustrating weight lose that would make a person give up. I nearly did. When I adopted these 3 basic strategies I dropped an average of 5 to 6 lbs per week for 8 weeks. I lost a total of about 50lbs in that time and previously I had dropped about 10 lbs in 5 months working out like a crazed lunatic. I have now gained some of that weight back after keeping it off for almost a year. I dont mean alot. Roughly 8 lbs or so. I plan to have that off by January. That gives me about 4 weeks which would normally be way to slow but considering the Christmas season is upon us I think its reasonable. It will most likely take a week or so for my body to adjust and then I expect to lose 2 or 3 lbs per week if not more depending on how dilligently I resist the holiday treats.

See you at the butchers shop,