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Summer is here! And gone are the sweaters, coats, and many layers that kept us warm, and somewhat hidden, all winter long.
Nothing like a trip to the beach, worse, a trip to the store to buy a new bathing suit, to put the mirror right in front of our faces and see what our bodies really look like after the winter.
The truth can be a shock. So, we have prepared 10 tips that can help you lose weight and look and feel your best, whether at the beach, the pool, or just walking around in shorts and short sleeves.
Of course, it is not just about how you look, but how you feel about your body that matters.
Shedding a few extra pounds has the added benefit of lightening the load on your joints, bringing relief from knee and hip pain, and making exercise easier and more enjoyable, leading to better health and the ability to hopefully keep those pounds off.
Avoid extreme hunger
Many of us fall into this common trap.
We put off meals in hopes of losing weight, and then end up starving, and eating whatever is in front of us.
Please keep in mind that when you are hungry, your powers of resistance and ability to choose wisely are seriously impaired. You can end up consuming large amounts of calories when you let yourself get hungry and lose sight of the big picture.
One of the key ways to lose weight is to eat small, frequent meals, of about 200 calories, at least every 3 hours. We recommend a timer that goes off 3 hours after your last meal, and please, don’t skip!
Small, frequent meals will keep you consuming fewer calories than a hunger-fueled binge. Plus, there are the added benefits of keeping your metabolism high and sending the message to your body that you have everything you need.
This promotes emotional stability; hungry people tend towards a short fuse, with high-stress levels and a lower tolerance life’s small and big challenges.
We recommend six small meals per day, with the third meal a bit larger, with a significant lean protein source to keep you feeling satisfied. Protein will also provide the building blocks for muscle growth to get your body firm and healthy.
Chill on the Carbs
While carbohydrates help you to feel satiated, they also pack on bulk and can add weight.
No carbs can leave you feeling constantly hungry and deprived, but too much carbs, and you will see the weight go up and up.
That is why we recommend a portion of carbohydrates with 4 out of your 6 small meals. A portion, however, is quite small.
Round out your meals with lean proteins and lots of fresh veggies and keep the portion of carbs under about 80 calories, and you will find the perfect balance between feeling that your hunger is satisfied, while letting the pounds melt away.
We tend to turn to carbs when we are feeling emotionally challenged. This could be due to life’s many real stressors, or just to the stress of hunger, which is one more reason to avoid feeling too hungry to choose wisely.
Controlling your portion of carbs, while not cutting them out completely, is key to weight loss.
Choose foods in season
It makes sense, doesn’t it? Many kinds of fresh vegetables and fruits naturally ripen and grow during the summer, at a time when our bodies should naturally be drawn to light foods and fluids.
Tune into your instincts and follow them! Summertime is the time for large, fresh salads, fruit for snacks, and low-calorie smoothies made from fruits, yogurt, and supplements like chia.
Avoid a base of a sugary juice drink; use water or a bit of 100% juice, with low-fat yogurt or a water base, and start to become accustomed to the natural sweetness of the fruit.
A cup of berries, frozen, will add enough sweetness, and up to a teaspoon of honey, date honey, or other natural sweeteners won’t add too many calories. Make a smoothie like this for one of your small “meals”.
It’s not rocket science; we need more fluids in the summer when it is hot. Even if you spend a lot of time basking in the cool of AC, our bodies can become dry in the summer.
8 cups of water a day are recommended, and more as needed. You will know you are drinking enough when your pee runs clear or a faint, washed out yellow.
But hydration has added benefits for weight loss. Think of your body as a home. You need water to wash the floor and get rid of what is not needed or wanted inside.
The same for weight loss. As you limit your caloric intake, your body starts cleaning itself of extra fat; and water can help wash away what is not longer needed or wanted, keeping your body healthy and your metabolism humming away.
Eat breakfast early
This goes along with avoiding extreme hunger. Many of us delay eating in the morning, telling ourselves we don’t feel like it, can’t, or don’t want to eat before noon or so.
We get busy going about our day and don’t notice we are hungry until our bodies are screaming for nutrition.
And I am sure some of us delay eating in the morning, thinking that we will save on calories, and start with something healthy for lunch. Unfortunately, this plan often backfires in two ways.
One is as we mentioned, by the time you are seriously hungry, you are far less able to make smart food choices, often grabbing whatever is available, or justifying a poor food choice with the calories you saved on breakfast. Plus, there is your metabolism to consider.
Feeding your body small meals, from within an hour of waking, keeps your metabolism working at a high rate. When you starve your body of calories, it goes into a starvation mode, holding on to the body’s fats, and slowing metabolism to save energy.
This can cause weight gain. So be smart. Eat within an hour of waking. If you really have trouble eating in the morning, you can have something light like a juicy date and a few nuts.
Or, blend a teaspoon of nut butter, with water and a date, to make a light smoothie that goes down easy in the morning. Have a larger meal within 3 hours.
You will find you are more levelheaded, and more consistently productive. And you will feel better, too.
Move your body!
It’s natural to want to hibernate and slow down in the winter. So, take advantage of the summertime when the opposite is true!
The more you move, the better you will feel, and exercise also affects your metabolism and keeps dynamic processes in your body moving at a steady rate.
Depending on your level of fitness, choose activities that are good for your body and make you feel better after.
Consider any weaknesses or injuries and go for movements that strengthen and help release tension and stress.
Pilates is a great strengthening method, which can tone and shape your figure, with lots of stretching to keep you feeling your best. Walking, biking, and swimming are all great summer activities.
You might be surprised to learn that getting enough sleep can help you lose weight. But studies have shown that enough sleep is key to the healthy functioning of all body systems, metabolism included.
Lack of sleep puts your body into a kind of lock down mode, releasing stress hormones, and slowing down the body’s activities in a similar method to caloric deprivation.
Of course, when you are tired, you feel out of sorts, and may tend towards fuzzy thinking, that can lead to poor food choices.
This creates a vicious cycle that can seriously affect your wellbeing, as well as your body’s ability to process food.
Regular exercise, a balanced diet that doesn’t over tax your digestive system, and the more balanced emotional life that results from these, can help improve your sleep.
If you have anxiety or trouble turning off your devices at night, set a time limit, and keep your phone out of your bedroom to curb the urge to check one more time…which can suck you into the black hole of social media when your should be sleeping.
Check out soothing sounds such a white noise, nature sounds, or deep wave relation music, and make sure your bedroom is dark.
Experiment with eye covers, soothing smells like lavender, and natural sleep aids, to help you get to sleep and sleep more deeply. Lavender, sprinkled on your pillow, has been shown to improve both quality and depth of sleep.
No sweetened drinks
As we said above, drink water. And beyond that, avoid sugary drinks all together.
If you must, treat yourself to the occasional diet soda or soft drink, but base your fluid intake on water.
You can add natural, calorie-free elements like ice, mint, and lemon, to make your water more refreshing.
Sugary drinks add a ton of calories to your diet and should be avoided at all costs. You can’t afford to add hundreds of empty calories to your diet if you want to lose weight, so make it a hardened fast rule to never touch them.
Add one meal a day with a large portion of lean protein
If you have one meal with a significant portion of lean protein, you will feel satisfied, without adding a lot of calories and fats.
Chicken breast, fish, or a cup of cooked lentils or garbanzo beans can give you that contented feeling of having enough to eat while filling your nutritional needs.
If you make sure to have many small meals around this larger meal, you won’t feel as tempted towards fatty protein sources and calming carbs.
Keep the carbs to one 80 calorie portion, while being generous with the lean protein; and of course, plenty of fresh vegetables!
Do you know think your mood affect your weight loss? Maybe not directly. But summertime is always associated with fun, lightheartedness, trips, swimming, and sunshine.
So, make the most of it and have a good time! Staying active, and making time for fun, is part of feeling good about life, and the happier you feel, the less likely you will be to slide into emotional eating.
Learning to take care of and make peace with our bodies is a huge thing.
Nurturing your body with food, rest, exercise, and fun, will bring you into a balance that will affect how you feel about yourself and the food choices you make.
Start by changing your thinking. Don’t think in terms of dieting and deprivation.
Think that you have enough and focus on feeding your body small portions of healthy foods, at regular intervals, as a way of loving and caring for yourself. You have everything you need.