So often I see ridiculous headlines on social media, “lose 20 pounds in a month,” they’ll read, luring you in with the promise of an easy solution. I don’t know about you, but losing 20 pounds in a month is absolutely impossible for me. I have a suspicion it is for most everyone else under normal circumstances. However, I can lose 5 pounds in a month. Here’s what I do to slim down in 4 weeks, guaranteed.
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For decades, women were taught that eating multiple small meals and healthy snacks throughout the day was better for healthy living and weight loss than eating three large squares. However, contemporary research has shown that this theory was simply false. As it turns out, our great grandparents actually had the right idea. Two or three small meals comprised of unprocessed, natural foods are the most conducive to a healthy lifestyle and weight management. And, as it turns out, skipping a meal or two generally isn’t a bad thing either unless you have a health condition. This past year, I’ve incorporated intermittent fasting into my lifestyle with really good results. After reading “The Complete Guide to Fasting” by Dr. Jason Fung, I tried several variations of intermittent fasting to see what’s best for me. As it turns out, a 16:8 eating pattern works really well. With this method, you stop eating at 8 p.m. and don’t eat again until noon the following day. So, you eat in an eight-hour window, and fast for the remaining 16 hours of the day. I have found this method to be quite easy as well as effective. It’s important to understand that eating styles are deeply personal. We are all unique, after all, so try a few variations of intermittent fasting to see what works best for you. Here’s a great article with more information. And, if you’d like to dive deeper, I highly recommend Dr. Jung’s book.
Low Carb Eating
In addition to intermittent fasting, another habit I embrace is low carb eating. To be clear, this is not a recent change for me. Rather, it’s simply reinforcement of an eating lifestyle I’ve been following for the last six or seven years. I came of age in the 1980s, a time when eating guidelines admonished fat of all kinds and embraced simple white carbs. That said, the initial switch to low carb eating was a bit of a shock to my system. However, I’ve learned to love it now and for me nothing works better for weight management than consistent high protein, low carb eating. Interestingly, I read another book by Dr. Jason Fung that helped me understand the benefits of a low carb lifestyle. “The Obesity Code”, by Dr. Jason Fung was a transformative read, and I recommend this book as well.
Drink Less Alcohol
It’s easy to get into the habit of drinking a glass of wine every evening, and I’ll admit that it’s easy for me to slip into this habit. It’s just so nice to relax with a glass of wine after work in the evening. The problem is that when you want to celebrate, one glass becomes two or three more easily when you’ve already established one as your baseline. Too much alcohol adversely affects my sleep. In addition, the weight packs on more easily when I’m drinking 200 or 300 hundred empty calories a day as a habit. When I need to lose a few pounds, I focus on reducing the alcohol and reserving the wine for weekends and special occasions. There are actually plenty of relaxing alternatives to alcohol after a long day at work that don’t pack on the pounds and are actually good for you. For more on this subject, see my post “A New Kind of Cocktail Promises Enhanced Mood and Less Stress Without the Hangover.”
Drink More Water
I know ladies who walk around with a half gallon of water at all times. To tell you the truth, I envy them since I have a really hard time drinking the amount of water I need. It’s so easy to reach for a coffee instead. However, water helps with efficient digestion, glowing skin, higher energy levels and brain function, weight management and so much more. So, when I’m working on weight management, increasing my water consumption is key. Here are a few simple ways to incorporate more water into your day if you’re simply not that water-jug carrying gal.
- Drink a glass of water first thing after you wake up in the morning
- Drink a glass of water with each meal or snack
- Eat brothy soups for lunch of dinner. Research shows that people who drink soup before a meal are more inclined to lose weight than those who don’t.
- Try the HidrateSpark water bottle. This stylish high-tech water bottle tracks your water intake and glows to remind you to drink more water.
- Reach for a mub of soothing hot herbal tea. Oftentimes when I reach for a cup of coffee, I’m really just seeking a soothing hot drink. We have a Kurig coffee maker at work, so I buy these delicious herbal tea pods. My favorites, Lemon Zinger and Orange Spice, are a little old school (this is a blog for women over 40, after all) but very satisfying.
- Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. For me, it’s easy to drink a full glass of water first thing in the morning. Not only am I generally thirsty when I wake up, I have supplements to take anyway.
A Walk A Day
Most people wish they exercised more, and I definitely fall into the category of most people. For me, consistency is the biggest challenge. I’ll do well at a new walking or jogging routine for three or four months before I stop for some perfectly good reason and end up taking three or four months off.
This year my goal is not to be in the best shape of my life or run a marathon. Rather, it’s simply to do something consistently for the entire year.
Here are a few ways to easy incorporate more exercise into your day.
- Keep a pair of walking shoes under your desk at work. Instead of taking an hour lunch, take a walk instead. It’s easy enough to eat the lunch you packed in 30 minutes and walk for the remaining half hour.
- Get a gym membership somewhere nice. Then reward your walk on the treadmill with a deeply relaxing hot soak or sauna. You’ll feel amazing afterwards and you’ll sleep better that night as well.
- Invest in some athletic wear that makes you feel good about yourself. You’ll feel great in your new workout clothes and be inspired to exercise. My purchase was this fabulous pair on white On running shoes. They make my feet feel wonderful and they’re stylish and cute, too!
One common trigger for overindulging in food is stress. I love nothing more than something salty, carby and delicious when the life gets hairy. I’ve been interested in yoga for as long as I can remember and have tried many different types of yoga including Hatha, Bikram, Kundalini, Vinyasa and more.
My current interest is in Yin Yoga which is a slow-paced style that has its roots in both Indian and Chinese traditions. Yin Yoga is restorative and good for healing conditions brought about by modern activities such as sitting all day at a desk. It’s particularly helpful for my sciatica.
To be clear, Yin Yoga is a very slow paced and not the kind of exercise that burns a ton of calories. But it is healing, it is restorative and it reduces stress. And, reducing stress has been shown to further reinforce your weight loss efforts, not to mention induce myriad other health benefits.
Do yourself a big favor, give Yin Yoga a try. Your body, and your healthy eating plan, will thank you.
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