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Good diet and exercise habits shed the pounds

PaulaBy Paula Bowers-Sanchez

We have so many choices when it comes to losing weight or preventing weight gain. We are constantly bombarded with the latest and greatest weight-loss drug or supplement, and I have to confess, I probably have tried most of them.

What the advertisements don’t tell you is that, along with taking the “wonder drug,” you must exercise and follow a low-calorie, low-fat diet.

It’s in the fine print, barely visible.

Time and time again, I find that getting back to the basics is what works for me. I had to make a decision to follow my tried-and-true method of reasonable eating habits and regular exercise.

You may ask, “What are reasonable eating habits?” Well, for me, it’s eating enough protein to maintain muscle, enough carbohydrates to maintain energy and a small amount of fat. A typical “weight loss” day of eating for me would be:

7:30 a.m. – Protein shake with at least 25-30 grams of protein.

10 a.m. – Egg whites and tomato slices (or sometimes I’ll have a piece of toast).

Noon – Turkey sandwich (no mayo or cheese) or a salad with grilled chicken and either a low-calorie dressing or just a little of my favorite, Thousand Island.

2:30 p.m. – A meal replacement bar or an apple with a tablespoon of almond/peanut butter.

6 or 7 p.m. – Dinner is usually grilled chicken or fish with sautéed veggies; I sometimes include rice or potatoes.

I follow a plan like this when I need to drop a few pounds, keeping in mind that, along with a meal plan, I must incorporate resistance/weight training. Don’t worry about “bulking up” because we females don’t have enough male hormones to build big muscles. I tell women not to be afraid of weight training because research shows that resistance training can change your body, improve your mood and even keep you looking and feeling younger.

If we want to lose weight or prevent weight gain, lifting weights is key. It’s a fact that muscle burns more calories than fat, so your body becomes a fat-burning machine when you have more muscle. Incorporating weight training at least two to three times a week will not only change your physical appearance, but it can also make a difference in the way you feel emotionally. Personally, I always feel empowered after a rigorous workout.

Speaking of rigorous workouts, how often do you get uncomfortable in your workouts? By this, I mean that point where you are pushing yourself to go a little further, run a little faster, push a little harder. I find that it makes a big difference in the way I feel and in my appearance. Studies show that when we push hard and work out at high intensity, our metabolism can increase by at least 20 percent, and we continue to burn calories for several hours post-workout.

So, when you’re exercising, try running a little faster than yesterday, try going a little faster on that spin bike or turning the knob so you have to push a little harder. Try holding on to a new speed or level for 20 seconds, and go back to your original rate. Do this every workout, and before you know it you will be working at higher levels.

With every accomplishment comes a new level of confidence.

Have a safe, happy and healthy holiday.

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