Ten tips to make your weight loss and fitness goals reality

Listen close.  Today’s post is going to share 10 things you can do to make your goals reality.

The key to putting these tips in place and keeping them in place is to not try to do it all at once. It’s too much change to manage at one time and when that happens, people fail.  Put one or two things in place this week. Master them, and then add something else.

1. Drink more water.  One of the biggest sources of calories in the typical diet is  from the things we drink.  Because it’s not solid, we don’t realize that there are calories in it and down it goes.  There are so many opinions about the actual amount of water you need, ranging from 8 glasses daily (what size glass?) to your body weight in ounces and everything in between. While I’m not going to add to the confusion and tell you another number, I am going to tell you to drink more water and less of the other stuff.  That means plain water. No flavored water. Don’t waste your money on gimmicks like charged water, energized water, and all the other goofy things people are trying to sell you.  If you say “I just don’t like the taste of water”, get over it. No shortcuts.

10 Tips to Better Weight Loss Results
10 Tips to Better Weight Loss Results

2. Keep track of everything. If it goes in, write it down. Everything else is just a guess. If you want to gamble, go to Vegas. If you want results, get serious about it and measure it.  If you’re a LifeStyles Fitness Center member, you’re in luck because you have access to DotFIT at no extra charge with your membership.   If you’re not lucky enough to be able to enjoy the benefits of LifeStyles membership use a tool like  BodyMedia FIT to take control and achieve your weight loss goals!

If all that’s too techie for you and you just want to go old school, write everything down on paper.  Whichever method you choose, it will take a bit of extra time, but it’s worth it.  If you don’t measure it, you’ll never know where you stand on the path toward your goals.

3. Get protein and vegetables in every meal. Your body burns more calories to turn protein into a source the body can use than it requires to process any other nutrient.  Approximately 30% of the calories you take in from protein are used just to process that protein in the body.  That’s called the thermogenic effect of food.  Vegetables add fiber to your diet which makes you feel full and keeps the pipes clear.  The benefits from veggies comes with very few calories too.  ‘Nuff said.

4. Burn more calories than you’re taking in. Sounds simple, and really it is that simple.  You’ve got to have a way to accurately measure that though.  Go back to point #2 above.  Aim to burn 500-1000 calories more than you take in and you’ll begin to lose an average of 1-2 pounds per week. It’s not a direct affect though. It doesn’t shave off instantly, so look for weight changes over the course of a couple weeks rather than expecting to see changes daily.  While we’re talking about this one, forget the shortcuts.  The pills and potions you see at the checkout line aren’;t really going to help you as much as you think.  You might burn an extra few calories as a result of taking that pill, but 10 more minutes of basic movement each day will probably do the same thing and your wallet will be a few bucks fatter too.

5. Chew your food. Take more time to eat.  You’ll enjoy your meal more and you’ll be less likely to go back for second helpings.

6. You gotta move. Diet alone won’t cut.  Research shows that diet and exercise always win.  My Your Fitness Journey DVD can help keep your workout fresh by giving you over 80 different exercises.

7. Eat breakfast. You’ve got to have fuel in the tank. Eat a real breakfast, not a donut and cup of coffee. A real breakfast fills you up so you’re not starving by 11 o’clock and searching for the nearest vending machine.  Those who eat breakfast carry that energy through the day. Students who eat breakfast do better in school and perform better on the field. Workers who eat breakfast are more mentally alert and make more money.

8. Make better lunch choices. Do you go to the closest taco joint or spend 10 minutes before work packing a lunch with yogurt, granola, and a small salad? Easy choice. “But I don’t have time”. Again, get over it. Wake up 10 minutes earlier, Make it the night before. No excuses.

9. Worry more about what than when. Nutrient timing is all the rage. “You shouldn’t eat within 3 hours of going to bed”. Really, does your body really know time? When it comes down to it, if you eat fewer calories than you’re expending, does the when really matter? Focus more on the quality of what you’re eating and less on the when. A Twinkie for breakfast isn’t any better than a Twinkie before bedtime.

10. Read the label. This is another one about the choices you make. It only takes a few seconds to turn the package around, scan the label, and decide if this thing is helping or hurting you.

Now it’s time for you to go out and make 2012 your best year ever!

Walk the plank, Thai style

I love the plank because of the combination of simplicity and difficulty. It’s simple in terms of equipment needed (read: none), but it’s not easy. And depending on the variation and your level of fitness, it can be quite a challenge.

Try Thai
Try Thai

This version, called the Thai Plank, changes your position to focus more on the oblique muscles on the sides of the body that are responsible for resisting lateral flexion. 

As an example of lateral flexion, imagine yourself carrying one heavy grocery bag with one arm using the handles. You pick up the bag and start carrying it, but you drop to that side and walk unbalanced. 

That’s lateral flexion. 

Strengthen your core and you’ll be better able to support that weight.

Unlike traditional static planks, the Thai Plank introduces movement, which changes your balance point and increases the challenge even further.  

If you find this version a bit too difficult, regress it by lifting the arm and leg straight up rather than out in front of you.  If that’s still too tough, eliminate the movement until you’re confident enough to take it to the next step. 

Stability balls get a bad rap

Stability balls get a bad rap. 

Pick up a magazine from the grocery store and you’re likely to see someone doing crunches on the ball. But for many, the program ends there. 

Stability balls aren't just for wimps
Stability balls aren't just for wimps

The stability ball can be used many ways to help you develop those stabilizers, develop better balance, and improve functional movement. 

The ball can also be used many ways to develop core stability and strength. As an added bonus, you can change between exercises quickly because you’re only using one piece of equipment. That means you can get more work done in less time, leaving more time for your life.

Here are three of my favorites:

  1. Hamstring curl: Lie face up with your heels on the top of the ball. Lift your hips off the ground to create a straight line from your feet to your shoulders. Draw your feet in toward your butt while driving the hips upward. Don’t flex at the hip, maintain that straight line from the knees to the shoulders. 
  2. Rollout: Start on your knees with your hands touching the side of the ball about 12 inches from the floor. Roll your hands forward and follow the ball with the rest of your body. Make sure your hands, hips, and shoulders are all moving at the same time and at the same rate of speed. If your hands and/or shoulders are moving, your hips should be moving forward as well.
  3. Reverse hyperextension: This one requires a great amount of control, so try this one with a friend standing beside you with their hands on the sides of the ball. Place the ball on top of one end of a weight bench. Stand at one end of the bench facing the ball and drape yourself over the ball. Plant your chest on the ball and grasp the sides of the bench. If you can’t reach the bench, this one might not be for you unless you have a smaller ball.  Maintain a strong grip on the bench and be prepared to manage the side to side movement of the ball as it wants to skate from side to side. Lift your feet off the ground to create a straight line with your body from your head to your toes while balancing on the ball and holding on to the bench.  

Dumbbell Oblique Touch

Control is a very important part to your training.  Anyone can pick up a weight and move it around, but doing so with control takes thought, skill, and awareness of your body’s abilities. 

Today’s featured exercise requires you to exhibit a great degree of control to remain safe and to get the most benefit from the movement.  The Dumbbell Oblique Touch forces you to stabilize a weight is an unstable position and then adds further complexity by changing your body’s position.  Your shoulder isometically stabilizes the weight in the overhead position while your core engages to slowly lower and raise your body.

Although it may look simple, I would consider this to be a more advanced exercise due to the control required to perform it correctly.  Use a light weight, or even no weight, to start while to figure out the form and gradually increase from there.