10 Rules To Live By For Long-Lasting Weight Loss
That stuff in boxes lining the shelves of the supermarket? That's not food. That edible material in tins, cans, and plastic pouches with seemingly endless lists of ingredients? That's not food either.
Eating real food, not man-made junk laced with chemicals, is the key to successful weight management. I can't state it enough. It's likely the main reason you're trying to lose weight to begin with. Eating real foods cools inflammation and reestablishes proper hormone communication, which automatically helps your body release fat it doesn't need. You stay lean without even really trying.
You know the feeling—you're enjoying a meal, perhaps going for seconds or thirds, caught up in the bliss of it all. Half an hour later you feel as bloated as a beach ball. You don't need to eat until you're full, and in fact, you're probably "full" well before you think you are.
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By tuning in to your body, you can learn to eat only when you're truly hungry rather than when you're stressed or anxious. Better yet, you can learn to stop when you're 80% full. If you find yourself craving food due to stress, then find an alternative like a quick burst of activity or meditation to change your focus and reduce your stress load.
So many of us lose our way because we live our lives on autopilot, never paying attention to what we're doing or saying, thinking or feeling. This is especially true when it comes to eating. It's way too easy to eat two or three doughnuts as you drive to work in the morning, and even easier to halfheartedly devour a large order of fries while you're balancing a spreadsheet or preparing a report at work.
To prevent this, try not to eat while you're watching TV or working at your computer. Instead, practice mindful eating. When you sit down to a meal, you should be focused on how your body feels and each bite that you take. By doing this, you're allowing yourself to feel true appreciation for the food you eat, and you'll ultimately develop a more mindful approach to eating.
Never underestimate the the importance of moving. Not running a marathon or bench-pressing 100 pounds, mind you, but simply getting off your butt and moving around. It's really all about micro-movements. Most of us spend our days trapped behind a desk, and when we're not, we're sitting in our car, on our way to and from that desk.
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Simply taking the stairs, taking a walk around the block, or getting up every hour or two to do a few stretches goes a long way toward keeping your muscles strong and your metabolic rate high. Keying into this movement mind-set will keep you trim.
Your body is often compared to a furnace, as it burns calories all day long. The general thinking is that working out accelerates this calorie burning. It does, but it's not quite as simple as that. At most, exercise accounts for only 15% of your total daily caloric expenditure. Your basal metabolic rate actually accounts for 70% of the calories you burn every single day. Thus, it makes sense to focus on increasing your basal metabolic rate, right? The only way to do that is to increase your lean body mass—aka your muscle—and that means skipping the treadmill for bodyweight or external resistance exercises.
After all, we've seen how long, slow cardio destroys your body and depletes vital fat-burning hormones like triiodothyronine (T3), growth hormone, and testosterone. Your goal should be to lift heavier weights that allow you to perform only 4 to 8 reps or so. And don't forget about the power of lowering that weight slowly (eccentric contraction) to get more bang for your workout bucks.
The legendary Russian author and playwright Anton Chekhov once made a proclamation about writing drama that writers of all kinds still follow to this day. It's about stripping away unnecessary elements from any story in order to make it stronger. His famous words? "If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there." The same can be said for those chocolate-covered pretzels in your cupboard—if you keep them around, they will get eaten.
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It's doubly the same for negative friends who engage in unhealthy habits—keep them around and you'll likely end up mimicking their behavior. That's just how it works. You deserve to elevate your life, so that means stripping away all the harmful elements currently polluting it. Stock your cupboards with healthy snacks and make sure you don't keep any junk in your fridge. Ditch the downer, toxic friends and join a supportive community filled with like-minded people who will support and encourage you. This is so much better than doing things on your own. Elevate it all.
This is about progress, not perfection, and like anything worth doing, it gets easier with practice. You have to go easy on yourself. If you screwed up and ate something you knew you shouldn't have, let it go and move on. If you didn't get your workout in, don't beat yourself up. Do it tomorrow. You're only human, and that means there will be times—perhaps many—when things don't go as planned.
It happens, but you simply need to get back up, dust yourself off, and keep on trekking. I love the Japanese principle ofkaizen, which essentially means "constant, neverending improvement." A life lived in a constant state of gentle refinement is the only way to lasting success. That's what it's all about.
Key to the principle ofkaizenthat I just mentioned is one more familiar to us: consistency. If you eat well only occasionally, then you're not going to enjoy the slim, healthy body you want. If you aim to work out a few times this week and then stop for several months because you're sore, how are you supposed to progress toward the body of your dreams? You are much better off mastering small daily habits that, over time, will create massive change. These small daily habits can include walking, sleeping 7 to 9 hours, making a green juice, connecting with friends, laughing, doing 25 bodyweight squats, and anything else that can help to elevate your life.
Although slightly less effective than daily habits, consistent behaviors can add up. For instance, doing a 1-Day Fast every week is a consistent behavior, even though it is not done daily. Get it? Small things done consistently will trump massive efforts that never stick.
Knowledge is power, but only if put into action. However, that action is less likely to happen if you are not first motivated by learning new and exciting ideas and strategies. You're either feeding your mind with new knowledge that helps you grow and motivates you to eat healthier and live a more active life or you're not. If you don't continue to plant new seeds in the garden of your mind, the weeds will automatically grow out of control. The mind is a precious and amazing asset, but it needs to be directed.
Turn off the radio and listen to inspiring audiobooks and podcasts instead. Read books on health. Stop watching fake "reality" shows and go to educational seminars or watch eye-opening documentaries. You don't necessarily have to cut all these activities out of your life, but just make sure that you're engaging in behaviors that will inspire you to live your healthiest life possible.
This final commandment is a simple one, and it's truly the secret to life. Whether your goal is to become a millionaire or simply lose 20 pounds of fat and feel great about yourself, being grateful and happy is the path. No matter where you are right now, no matter what you're struggling with, you have so much to be grateful for. It's easy to forget this when you're bombarded on a daily basis with so many worries.
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It takes a little work on your part, but you have to routinely tune your frequency a bit so you're more aware of the blessings in your life. There is no right or wrong way to show gratitude. You can keep a gratitude journal, write thank-you cards to friends and family, or do anything else that keeps you in touch with the good things in your life. It's a universal law that you get more of what you focus on, so focus on what you're grateful for and you're likely to get more of it in your life.
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