Yep, they were right!  They were all right, and I never doubted they would be really, but I hoped they wouldn't be.  I'm talking about all those older people when I was much younger who told me that one day I wouldn't be able to pig out like I did back then or not ever think about my weight or health.  As you get older, it is true, your metabolism is going to slow down and weight will creep on, especially if you have children but even men experience the same result of aging.  But I have learned some tips that have really made all the difference over the last 6 years and to me, no matter what you choose to do to lose weight, you have to start with these simple foundational concepts to really succeed.  But these are simple steps you can take when starting out that will really make a difference, in fact I believe they are essential and if you only work on these things for awhile you'll be doing great!  First, before you even get started, take a measuring tape and take down a few of your measurements.  Don't go stand on the scale every morning, it will kill your motivation.  On a piece of paper write down the date, your current weight, and measure in inches your waist, hips, thigh, calf, neck, upper arm, forearm, and chest.  Now put that paper away for atleast a month and don't weight yourself, measure or scrutinize yourself even one time for a month.

1.  Determine To Make Lifestyle Changes!  Going on a diet just isn't going to cut it because as soon as we lose some quick weight we eventually fall off those diets (usually because they are way to strict) and, whoa mama, here comes those pounds again.  Then we feel horrible and guilty.  There is no need for that kind of mind trip.  So forget the mentality of dieting and start thinking about a new you; a new lifestyle, new habits that you can maintain easily.  That is what these next few tips are all about.  You can do this.  So before you start you have to really set your mind to making changes that will last you forever.  You will look better and feel better and BE TRULY HEALTHY which gives you a better chance of having a healthy immune system that can fight off sicknesses and disease better too.

2.  Drink Your Water! Stop purchasing sodas for your home or work place.  I can hear all that whining now. :)  You don't like the taste of water?  It's because you aren't drinking it.  After drinking water for even a short period of time you will begin to crave it.  I'm not telling you that you can never drink another soda, that would be sabotage.  Just reserve a soda for once in awhile, but drink water the rest of the time.  If you are like me, soda isn't the problem, it's coffee with cream and sugar.  (Three cups a day to be specific)  It is recommended that people take in 8-10 CUPS of water a day.  8 oz. of water is NOT A TALL GLASS of water.  Think of the size of 1 measuring cup; that is 8 oz.  Divide your weight by 2 and those are the number of ounces of water you should be drinking a day.  If you are very overweight you can cut yourself off at 80 ounces a day.  Here is a way to help you easily get 8 cups of water in through out the day without feeling like you are drowning internally.  When you wake up and brush your teeth go ahead and drink a CUP of water while you are at the sink already.  When you have lunch, drink 1 cup of water first or while preparing or waiting for your lunch and then have your lunch while working on the second cup along with and following lunch.  By lunchtime you have had 3 out of 8 cups already.  About 2 hours later, when you would normally have a light snack, drink 1 cup of water.  You are halfway through the day and halfway through your water.  A couple of hours later have another cup of water while preparing or waiting for dinner and work through the second cup along with dinner, just as you did with lunch.  Now have your next to last cup two hours later and your last cup at bedtime while brushing teeth before bed.   If you typically drink 8 ozs every 2-3 hours you will easily take in 8 cups a day and barely notice it, except for those healthy runs to the restroom several times a day.  That's a good sign because your body is no only letting out what you have put in for the day it is flushing out what you have been retaining too.  The body will retain water more when you aren't putting enough healthy fluids in.  Regular cups of water help flush your body clean of many types of contaminants.  I can not stress enough how important water is to good health.  I have solved a number of issues, including gastro and acne related issues, with just getting the right amount of water.

3.  Build a Regular Sleep Routine!  Many sleep disorders begin with bad sleeping practices that get our body clocks out of whack.  Making sure that you have 8 hours of sleep every night is not only good for your mind and body, but it is essential in weight lose.  Your metabolism is directly connected to your sleeping habits.  When they are chaotic, your metabolism will be too.  When we sleep our metabolism go into sleep mode as well.   The metabolism burns as a much lower rate because it too is "at rest".  If we over sleep it can cause is to feel even more fatigued throughout the day and sometimes even cause the need for those long daytime naps which only makes things worse.

4.  Exercise!  Yes, I said it, the dreaded "e" word, but before anyone jumps off a cliff let me tell you how easy this can really be.  First of all, you don't have to do high intensity work outs for hours on end.  You don't even need a gym membership.  What you need most is consistency.  Set aside 20-30 minutes each day to exercise.  I recommend trying to get a couple of different work out videos that will allow you to both increase your heart rate and provide some level of strength training.  You don't have to go all body builder, but having a few short cardio work outs and a pair of light weights is all the equipment you need.  Think old school.  Remember the exercises you did in gym class as a kid?  Push ups, squats, jump roping, sit ups or crunches are all still great workouts and still provide all the muscle training any other kit or program promises to provide. (for less cost)  I will soon post some great simple floor work outs that I promise will yield results for you if you take just a few minutes every day to do them.  Use your light weights for arm strength training.  Squats and lunges build leg strength wonderfully.  But let me tell you this, crunches will not make you lose weight.  They will tone your tummy muscles, but if you have a layer of fat over those toned muscles you still won't like the results so one of the best exercises you can do to lose weight is to go for a brisk walk or run or do cardio workouts that cause your heart rate to rise and your breathing to speed up.  All those things are signs that you are getting your metabolism fired up to burn off fat and some of those extra calories.  Keep it simple and CONSISTENT.

5.  Eat "what" and "the way" your body needs you to eat!  Start spacing your meals and snacks out 2-3 hours apart. Make sure you have your first snack/breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up to jump start your metabolism and help it burn regularly and uniformly all day until you fall asleep again.  After sleeping for 8 hours with no water or food, the first thing your body needs is fuel!  If you don't fuel up first thing your blood sugar will fall to a level that triggers your metabolism to go into 'fat storage mode'.  You do not want to be storing fat, you want your body to be processing food and burning it all off so it never has to go into storage at all.  Eat in the first 30 minutes of waking and then every 2-3 hours afterwards all day.  This means you will sleep for 8 hours and be awake for 16 hours.  You will eat 6 times a day.  And, no, you will not become a sumo wrestler.  :)  In between each meal have a snack.  Keep meals at 500/600 calories (women/men) and each snack should be between 100-200/200-300 calories each (women/men).  You should have three meals and three snacks each day. Make sure your last snack of the evening is no less than 1 hour before bed.  Always keep portion sizes about the size of a fist and check packaging to make sure your serving size isn't going over or under those ranges for calories.  You don't have to count calories all day, just check each meal and make the portion size reasonable to those calorie amounts.  It may seem like your big dinners look a little smaller when you cut the portion sizes back, but when you eat every 2-3 hours and drink 8 cups of water a day it's all you will want!  You are more likely to have to make yourself eat than be hungry all the time at first.  After about a week you will reset your metabolism and your tummy will be ready fro food every 2-3 hours.  It's amazing how your body will clearly show you it is working.  Don't skip a meal when you aren't hungry.  Just get the bare minimum of a snack in because you are balancing out your blood sugar throughout the day so that your metabolism doesn't dip or spike into levels that cause fat storage.  When blood sugar is level, right in the middle, your metabolism burns fat all day.  You can still have the enjoyable foods you like, just have them in the correct portion sizes and space them out every 2-3 hours. 

6.  TURN UP YOUR METABOLISM!  No more wasting your money on meal plans every month or kits with your foods predetermined for you or milk hakes twice a day.  You will get sick of that eventually.  No more not eating.  That's not healthy and you will get sick of that eventually too.  So the last tip is to make the foods that you love work WITH your body and NOT AGAINST your metabolism.  Make each full meal a combination of three types of foods.  Use 1 protein, 1 fast converting carbohydrate and 1 slow converting carbohydrate on a plate for each full meal.  (remember, portion sizes no bigger than a fist or the width and depth of the palm of your hand for each item)  If you are not able to eat bread or just don't want it, then make your plate with a protein and two vegetables.  When you eat in this combination, your slow carb causes your fast carb to process more slowly.  This allows your cells to receive and burn those calories instead of passing them over to be stored within your cells.  (cellulite) So it is okay to have bread or a potato, only make sure you are having a correct portion size and pair it with a slow carb and a protein.  Heavy starchy/processed foods are fast converting carbohydrate foods, like breads, rice, squashes, muffins, cakes, oats/grains, sweet fruits and citruses.  Slow converting carbohydrate foods are things like vegetables (with exception of onion and squash), salads, legumes/beans, berries, cooked greens, grapefruit and apricots.  Proteins are foods like meats, fish, eggs, cottage cheese, tofu.  If you ever have a question about what group a certain food falls in, just email me and I will let you know. :)  If you are having a "one dish" type of meal (chili, soup, spaghetti, grilled chicken salad, casseroles, etc..), just remember to have the right portion sizes for all three of the ingredients included in that dish.  If you are eating salad, you can eat as much as you want just don't over do the dressing (added fat) or protein portion.  Eat all the fresh greens you want!  Cooked greens should be measured out just like other foods. (size of your fist)  When picking out ingredients and packaged foods, always see if there is a healthy alternative, something with lower sodium, no caffeine or no added sugars.  Use other seasonings and skip the salt, you won't notice it.  You can also by a "no salt" salt to use instead.  Use smart balance butter and oils. 

So there are 6 tips that will change your life!  Forget fad diets; just leave them alone.  Make these your new habits, enjoy the foods you already love (just in the right moderation and combinations) exercise, sleep and drink your water.  the weight will come right off of you.  I started these these tips without exercising at all and I lost 13 pounds in 1 month. I added exercise later to start toning up.  Sometimes you may gain an extra pound or two back when you exercise but you will notice that your measurements reveal that your physic is looking better and inches have melted off.  Weight isn't everything, muscle tone matters too.  I know all of this works because it all works with your body the way it was created to function.  Your metabolism is affected by your blood sugar levels and your immune system is also affected by the metabolism.  You can't fight against your own body, give it what it needs the way it needs it and your metabolism will reward you for it.   

Now, AFTER a month of this, go take all your measurements again and see the difference it has made. You will see your inches going down, your pants sliding on easier and you will have energy and feel good!  I am convinced you will see changes within the first month but keep working at it and take your measurements again once a month and after 6 months you may be needing a new wardrobe.  Keep these habits as a new lifestyle of eating right, exercising and drinking your fluids and you will easily lose weight and keep it off and you won't be feeling deprived or hungry either! 

Be happy and healthy and lose the weight reasonably and permanently. You'll be so glad!