How to get into shape for Christmas…

With Christmas holidays right around the corner, people are gearing up for one last battle of the bulge before “goodie season” settles in. But fasting, living on lettuce leaves, or excluding entire food groups won’t cut it in the long run, because it’s just too hard as well as unhealthy and the slowed metabolism, binging, and self-recrimination that follow can make a weight problem even worse.

Losing weight and shaping up for good, not just for a occassion, depends on making some serious (but not unpleasant!) lifestyle changes:

1. Eat a nutritious diet. First and foremost, the daily food plan should provide all the nutrients the body needs to thrive, including plenty of protein, at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, 25-30 grams of fibre and 8 glasses of water.

2. Spread out daily food intake. Eating 3 meals and 2-3 snacks each day is key, as skipping meals or waiting too long before eating can slow the metabolism, lower blood sugar levels, and increase the risk of binging.

3. Make sure each meal or snack contains protein. Eating protein with every meal or snack helps slow the rise and fall of blood sugar and reduce hunger cravings. Soy protein is an excellent choice because it’s a high-quality protein that’s low in fat and calories. It also has a low glycemic index, which means it won’t trigger a sharp increase and decrease of blood sugar. Recent studies have also shown that soy protein helps reduce hunger and extend the period of feeling “full.” And, the FDA states that 25 grams of soy protein per day, with a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.

4. Eat more soy and soy isoflavones. To receive the full benefits of soy isoflavones, a health expert panel advocates 160 mg a day, which is approximately the amount contained in 6 glasses of soy milk or 6 servings of tofu. But that’s a lot to swallow, and may add an extra 24 grams of fat to the diet! Taking isoflavone pills may sound like a good idea, but they don’t work as well as natural isoflavones combined with soy protein and may interfere with mineral absorption. I personally enjoy our Formula 1 Nutritional Shake mix and Formula 3 Personalised Protein Powder as an excellent low calorie choice.

5. Trim the fat. Since fat is the most concentrated source of calories, eating too many fatty foods is a fast-track to weight gain. Easy ways to cut back on fat include using non-fat dairy products, fat-free salad dressing and margarine and lean meats whenever possible. Poultry, meats and fish should be skinned and trimmed of all visible fat before cooking. And of course fried foods, cream sauces, butter, gravy, full-fat cheese or dairy products and rich desserts should be cut back or eaten only occasionally. But, please do not go overboard with cutting fat. Fat still needs to be 30% of our diet, healthy fats that is, so, do include olive oil in your diet when cooking or over salads, eggs contain healthy cholesterol and can be eaten in moderation; supplement with high quality Omega 3 is recommended too as more and more research confirms that it contributes to the health of your heart, eyes and brain as our Herbalifeline Max does with higher levels of EPA, DHA per capsule, therefore delivering heart, vision and brain benefits when taken in specific dosages.

6. Practice enjoyable eating. Those who feel deprived won’t stay with an eating plan for long, and completely cutting out favourite foods can backfire. It is about finding the right balance and a more flexible approach is needed. Most foods can be eaten sparingly and less often, or enjoyed in lower-fat, healthier versions. The overall goal is to eat foods that play a dual role: good for the taste buds and good for the body.

7. Watch portion size. Just adding an extra 1/2 cup of cereal, tablespoon of butter, extra ounce of meat and slice of bread to the daily diet can add up to about 320 extra calories. If done consistently, this could produce another pound of fat every 11 days! Using measuring cups and spoons and a small-scale can help keep portions under control.

8. Exercise. No shape-up plan is complete without a good exercise component. Exercise helps boost the metabolism, tone the body and speed weight loss. It’s also an effective anxiety buster, relieving muscle tension, burning up stress hormones and stimulating the release of endorphins. A brisk walk for 45 minutes a day can add up to another pound lost every 17 days, research suggests. Build in some strength training twice a week into your routine for long-term benefits of stronger bones, joints and muscle.

9. Drink plenty of water. The body needs at least eight 8-ounce glasses a day to wash away toxins, replenish lost fluids, prevent constipation, and reduce water retention or bloating. For best results, water should be sipped a little at a time throughout the day.

10. Come prepared. One of the biggest reasons for diet crash-and-burn is the failure to plan for the unexpected. Keeping healthy snacks on hand, like a plain green yoghurt or Herbalife Protein Bar or Roasted Soya Beans that work for me, can keep blood sugar even and energy high, helping to stave off hunger, snacking on high calorie foods and late-night binges. I also recommend my clients drinking our Herbalife Formula 1 shake before a potentially diet-busting dinner, party or holiday celebration, which may save hundreds of calories. A little advance planning may make all the difference between a failed diet and the successful loss of many unwanted pounds.

So, getting ready for holiday season should not differ from all round healthy eating and drinking plan. It is all about daily commitment to a healthy, active lifestyle!

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