Ugh, it’s swimsuit season! This can be a phrase that makes you want to throw on a pair of sweats, curl up in a ball on your couch, and refuse to go out with your friends. Thinking of all the girls with their spankin’ hot bods walking around in their bikinis makes you want to scream at the top of your lungs and throw your latest version of Cosmopolitan at the TV where some lady is trying to sell you a fat burner. Call now and get two for the price of one! she declares, and you are half tempted to pick up your phone and order their entire supply in the northern United States.
Okay, it’s time to stop there and take a big, deep breath. I’m here to tell you that your feelings are 100% normal and understandable. You want to feel great in your body, and that’s okay! You want the boost of self-confidence when you see a guy give you a double-take, and that’s okay! You want to hear a compliment—even just one little compliment—about how good you look, and that’s okay! You’re a woman and you deserve to feel fantastic about yourself. While we can’t change what we would like to feel and hear on a daily basis, we can change our approach physically and mentally to reaching our goal weight and shape. In spite of all the misinformation and confusion presented by the fitness and nutrition industry, rest assured there is a wonderful approach to meeting the needs of your body and mind in a healthy approach to food. This is something I enjoy sharing with many people and watching them change their lives for good.
Your body is a vehicle (as well as a billboard) for where you go and who you are. The things you put in your mouth day after day have caused your body to evolve into its current shape. The process of changing your body is a slow one—no matter what you see and hear about how Sally lost 8 lb in one week! (bull crap and misinformed advertising. I’ll show you how her glycogen and water levels changed only—true composition in changing lean body mass and fat mass takes time). Your body is a splendid machine and can function incredibly when you put the right variables and triggers on it. While I cannot write everything you can do to begin helping your body evolve to one in which you feel confident (that’s why I wrote The Power Foods Lifestyle), I would like to touch on several of the best goals you can make in the next week that will be big game-changers for you:
Be Belligerent about your Portion Sizes
While ideally, we want to stay away those foods, treats and desserts (those “naughty” foods that make us feel gross a mere 10 minutes after we eat them), it is much better to eat them in moderation than to have to recover from a binge, which usually results after too long of deprivation. The amount of time your body takes to stabilize your blood sugar, digest the garbage you just put in your system (usually in mass amounts), and to be in a state to start functioning normally again is nearly 400% the amount of time it will take to do this from a moderate indulgence.
The Trick: Use the size of your hand to discipline yourself in choosing a portion size. For most carbohydrate-based foods, use the size of your fist (less the fingers) as a guide. For most meats, as well as desserts, pastries, and sweet treats, use the palm of your hand to help you choose the area and thickness you will eat. Commit to that portion size and do not go back for more! You can be strong mentally! Drink water to help control the desire for more.
Choose the Best Fuel
If your body is a vehicle, then shouldn’t you be putting premium “gasoline” in it to run efficiently? I have watched masses of people change their bodies through beginning to eat “Power Foods,” those foods that are from the earth and very rarely processed in a factory. They are found in the outer ring of your grocery store and can also be found on my website under the ‘Self-Training’ tab.
No matter what the nutrition label states and how low the numbers read (trust me, many still don’t understand this so listen up!), if a food has been refined or processed, that food will also have chemicals and preservatives that will impact your body—and not for the better! The more you keep these chemically-changed food-like substances out of your body, the better it will fun and function! And when your body runs and functions well, your body will be in the environment to burn fat, which results in a change of shape.
The Trick: Whether you are grocery shopping or dining out, make a goal to choose foods and meals that have the least amount of processing and refining. Think ‘el naturale’ and you’re on the right track. For example: choose grilled chicken breast over a chicken fried steak and a roasted yam over garlic fries.
Toppings and Sauces
Oh, those glorious salads! The guys know that you’re going to order a salad just for the sake of appearing small and healthy, right? Well first of all, I would love to teach you through the Power Foods Lifestyle how you don’t always have to order a salad, and secondly, I’d like to make sure you understand that the dressings on most salads completely destroy what could have been a good, light meal. If you ever decide to do some research, turn over the bottle of your favorite salad dressing (or meat sauce) topping and pay attention to the amount of sugar in just one serving. If one serving has over 5 grams of sugar, you’re going to be throwing your body out of a good, fat-burn mode. If one serving has more than 5 grams of carbohydrates plus more than 3 grams of fat, you’ve set yourself up for disaster.
The Trick: Learn to love the many varieties of mustards and salsas out there as these are some of your best toppings for not only salads, but meats and other dishes as well. Try Dijon, Horseradish, Regular, Spicy Brown, and Honey mustards, but ensure that each one does not have High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)—one of the most healthy-depreciating chemical in our foods today. A few other great toppings I have found include Kikkoman Stir-Fry Sauce, Bolthouse salad dressings, and Panda Express’ Kung Pao sauce.
Drinks and Beverages
I used to be the girl who drank soda because I thought it made me look cool (pshhhhh…that was dorky of me), V8 and Fruit juice because I thought I was giving my body good vitamins and nutrients, and milk because I thought it was good for my bones. Oh dear! These were all big mistakes! Soda leeches the calcium from your bones and is full of harmful chemicals to your immune system, and V8, fruit juice, and milk all have far too much sugar to outweigh the benefit of any nutrients in them. And the calcium levels in milk? Gosh, we get far more calcium from eating delicious vegetables like spinach and bell peppers!
Water needs to become your best friend from here on out. Not only will your body begin to feel better, but your hair, skin, and nails will also begin to look better (yes, I know you want that). Nearly every organ in your body is primarily made of water, so when you deprive yourself of those lovely H2O molecules, your body starts to pretty much freak out. It doesn’t function well. Begin focusing on drinking 100 oz. to 1 gallon of water each day (yes, you’ll be waltzing to the bathroom more frequently but deal with it! ;)) and feel the difference in your body in a short one week.
All in all, only you can make the decision of taking control over your everyday choices of what you put in your mouth. Yes, this is a very difficult topic and one that many have a very hard time with—especially being female! There are many other things to take into consideration when discussing the body and nutrition like disordered eating habits (not a nutritional dilemma but a psychological one), depression, and volatile emotional ups and downs. These are all very important but very possible to work through when you have a coach to help you through the process of facing yourself and strategically planning to overcome your challenges. I see miraculous changes happen in people’s lives every day as they make the choice to take control. I can’t wait to hear how you have become one of them.
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