Many of us are looking to lose ten pounds fast, and many diet gurus claim to have the answer. The question is, how much do you want those ten pounds to stay gone? Wouldn't the ideal scenario be to be beach-ready at all times without feeling the need to follow starvation diets that are draining to mind and body both?
There is an answer, and it will seem like such a no-brainer, but so many of us out there have still not applied it in our own lives, that it deserves a mention...
The most important rule in successful weight loss definitely is no starvation! As logical and beneficial as crash-dieting may seem for that 'quick fix,' there are a myriad of reasons why this temporal and exhausting form of weight control is a bad idea.
Say you set a goal: You are looking to lose ten pounds in two weeks time, an absurd goal, but not entirely impossible. Those 14 days you spend taunting yourself by following a hunger diet will make you edgy and low energy. You're also likely to dream and obsess about the foods you are not allowed to eat. Those two weeks will feel like two months and not very fun ones either. It is almost guaranteed that once you wrap up those two weeks of self-torment (pleased with the notable weight loss), you will celebrate this by giving in to the foods you have been denying yourself. After your body has been functioning on a starvation diet for a while, your metabolism will slow down, which means your metabolic rate is lower now, and therefore burns less energy than it did before. Thus, once you start going back to your old diet, this will result in weight gain. The second setback is that during the crash diet you have lost both fat and muscle, but the weight you gain back is all fat.
Haven't we all been there? This is what causes yo-yo dieting. Starve yourself for two weeks and then end the program by 'celebrating' the finish, and finally being able to eat those foods you missed so much. This results in weight gain, leaving you displeased and ready for another dieting spell. The cycle can become endless, and is very unhealthy for both your body and mental health.
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Here are some tips to help you get rid of those ten pounds and keep them off:
- Water, water, water. Drink water throughout the day, every day. A good indication of how much water your body needs is the following simple sum: Divide your weight in pounds by two. The outcome is the amount in ounces of water that your body requires each day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, aim for 75 ounces of water a day.
Why water? Your body is made up out of 60-65 percent water. Water is responsible for transporting important nutrients to the body's cells and transporting the waste out. When you are not drinking enough water, your body tends to save it. This is where water weight comes from, along with high-sodium diets and water retention caused by a woman's menstrual cycle. Basically, to rid yourself of water weight, you will have to drink water! It sounds almost contradictory, but it makes sense when you realize your body is holding onto it because there is a lack of it. You will be surprised how much difference just drinking enough water can make on your weight.
If you do not like the taste (or the lack thereof) of water, you can add slices of lemon or make your own iced tea with nice fruity herbal teas. Celestial Seasonings has all-herbal variations that are great for making iced teas. It is important to have herbal tea, and not regular tea, because regular tea contains ingredients like caffeine (which depletes the body of water).
Eat, eat, eat...that is right, to lose weight successfully and lastingly, you must eat. This comes down to your metabolism. If your body senses you have not eaten anything for eight hours, it will shut down, to protect you from famine, it is your body looking after you. To keep your metabolism up, you must eat regularly, be it three main meals and two small snacks, or six small meals throughout the day. Just let your eating be regular and never go hungry. It will keep your body happy, your metabolism alive, which in its turn, provides the calorie burning. That's why we must be kind to our metabolism and not shut it down.
If you have yo-yo dieted in the past, do not worry. Your metabolism is not a function that will become incapable of revival once it has been shot. You can actually revive it! Here are a couple of important tips on how to wake up that calorie-burning machine:
- Eat breakfast. While it may seem that skipping breakfast is a smart way of eliminating some excess calories from your day, it actually is a true metabolism killer! Eating first thing in the morning will shake your body awake, and out of overnight fasting (hence the word break-fast). Now that your metabolism is awake, it is ready to burn those calories. A good breakfast also keeps you satisfied and going until lunchtime, without feeling those 10 a.m. cravings, at which time many people make bad sugarloaded snack decisions. Studies have shown that people who skip breakfast actually tend to consume more, not fewer, calories throughout the day.
- Eat less late at night. We all know the saying Eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince and dine like a pauper, yet our western eating habits do not exactly support this ideal. Most people have their biggest meal at dinner, when the day is over and you least need the energy. It only makes sense that we should eat our biggest meal in the morning at breakfast, when we need all the energy for the rest of the day, and we end the day with a lighter supper. Try it for yourself, and you will definitely see differences, and feel more energized throughout the day, which means you get more done, and burn more calories.
- Pump it. Invest time in building some muscle, but you do not have to pull a Schwarzenegger. You can do this 2 or 3 times a week at home with dumbells or go to a local gym, where you could get some advice from a professional trainer.
Why is muscle important? When you increase your muscle mass, your resting metabolism gets a boost, and that will make your body burn more calories, even when you are doing absolutely nothing.
When crash-dieting long (and often) enough, in an attempt to fuel itself, your body will break down muscle tissue for fuel, and this goes back to the slowing down of your metabolism and weight gain, which I mentioned earlier. This explains why weight piles on twice as fast after a starvation diet, and why you should invest time in muscle (re)building. If you want to see real impressive results, also add some cardiovascular exercise in with the weight training, but don't overdo it. 2 to 3 times per week should be good because your body needs time to rest and recover. (The muscle is built after the exercise, not during, so it is essential you let your body rest and build.)
Be active, not only in the gym, but in everyday life. There are plenty of little tricks to get more exercise into your day without even noticing you are doing them! Here are some ideas;
- Step it up! Whether it is in an apartment complex or a public building, choose the stairs over the escalators and elevators. If you live on the 12th floor, take the elevator halfway, and do the last half up the stairs. You may not lose ten pounds in three days, but the amount of exercise that adds up in a week by just taking some stairs instead of elevators is huge!
- Don't seek the closest parking spot to the entrance of the mall. Intentionally park your car further away...walking is one of the best, most natural exercises.
- Take dancing lessons. Dancing doesn't seem like fitness, but it surely does work many muscles and is a great cardio exercise. Besides, knowing how to dance is always a good thing, and it can improve your posture a lot, which also makes you appear thinner.
- Walk the dog, or offer to walk someone else's dog. You will have a companion with you, yet have the freedom of clearing your head and burning off a few calories.
Being active has proven to reduce the chance of depression and obesity and it also is a good way to stay young. There really is no reason why you shouldn't be active in your life, as the benefits are only positive.
4. Attitude. Adjusting your attitude towards food and your body actually can make you slimmer. The diet industry thrives off of people with low self-esteems because of their weight issues, and secretly wants you to remain insecure about your appearance so that you will be a lifelong client. There is a reason why the diet industry is one of the biggest industries out there, and that is the notorious yo-yo dieter. If there is at least one in every household, count the profits. When you realize the weight-loss industry is not in it to make you a happy person with the stable healthy weight that you desire, you have taken the first step to changing that attitude and building a healthy individual attitude about and for yourself.
You need to love the foods you feed yourself. If you believe you love diet products, it is a myth you have created for yourself by years of media control. Get involved in home cooking, look up interesting recipes with ingredients that you love, or try new variations you usually would never go for. Variation is an important key to keeping you enthusiastic about food; monotone diets can bore you and contribute to a desire to overeat.
Cooking a home meal does not have to be as time-robbing as you think, and the price you get back for it in health and the feeling of accomplishment by cooking a meal all on your own is worth it. And remember that delicacies are not bad. When the craving for a certain delicacy comes, answer it. Denying yourself that piece of chocolate that you are craving right now can backfire. A constant denial of cravings and putting a taboo on certain foods can build up to a big rebellious binge. Give yourself that one treat you want in the moment; don't let it build up and explode into a catastrophic binge.
5. Get real. Be realistic about your goals, and embrace your body type. No matter how much weight you will lose, you can not change your body type. You will just have to learn to emphasize your stronger features, and we all have those. Every day in movies and television, we are fooled to believe that women are supposed to be a size 2, while the average American woman in reality is a size 12. That is a big difference, and a challenge to compare yourself to, in a society where celebrities are so adored and seen as role models. The reality is that many women in the modeling and acting industry feel pressured to be a certain size, and this often results in eating disorders.
What is most important is to find a setpoint where you can feel good in your skin, mentally and physically. One does not go without the other. When you feel beautiful, you are beautiful. In the end, it comes down to you, you who knows your body best. Do not let anybody else tell you what to do or how to feel!
We may have been misinformed and applying the wrong measures, but it is never too late to change it all around and start a new lifestyle in which you will never have to diet again. By making these small changes in your life, you can lose those ten pounds, and more. Perhaps not as fast as you would like, but ten times more likely to last.