Last week, I wrote an in-depth description of the first two secrets of my six secrets that make it easy for you to diet smart, not hard. So let’s finish that list with four final tips that will help you attain and maintain your goal weight. I’ve abbreviated the first two tips (in full form last week), and expanded the last four to make a complete set.
1. Have food with a little fat in it 30 minutes before your meal. Eat 70 calories of a healthy fat, like six omega-3-rich walnuts, ground flax seed or a bit of salmon burger. With a small amount of fat in your stomach, you won’t eat ravenously when it’s mealtime.
2. Get 10,000 steps a day. Physical activity is key to maintaining weight loss. Get your 10,000 steps. Can’t take five steps without pain? Take two steps 5,000 times. That’s how important this is for you. We think it reduces type 2 diabetes (and it’s 10,000 steps – not 9,000 steps – that does it) and increases glucose or sugar uptake from your blood into your cells, helping keep your waist thin and your weight loss progressing.
3. Get a buddy. You need to have a friend who is on this journey with you. Being accountable helps you get those 10,000 steps and avoid the food felons. Why we think this works: Social encouragement and peer behaviors are emulated, so if your friend is a little thinner than you and trying to lose weight, too, that’s even better. If you’re the buddy, be non-judgmental – just stay positive and remember that we all need encouragement to resist the siren song of the fattening couch.
4. Avoid the five food felons. Those felons are saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars, syrups and any grains that aren’t 100% whole. Saturated fats include most four-legged animal fat, milk fat, butter, lard, two-legged animal skin, palm oil and coconut oil. Trans fats include partially-hydrogenated fats, vegetable oil blends that are hydrogenated and many margarines and cooking blends. Added sugars and syrups include brown sugar, dextrose, corn sweetener, fructose (as in high-fructose corn syrup), glucose, corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, maltose, lactose, malt syrup, molasses, evaporated cane sugar, raw sugar and sucrose. And non-100% whole grains include enriched white flour, semolina and durum wheat. These five food felons turn on genes that age you, and they are addictive, so you want to eat more and more. Avoid these foods carefully every shopping trip. It will become automatic after about five weeks. And yes, staying away from these foods means that you probably have to clean the junk out of your cupboards and read the ingredient labels on everything in your kitchen cupboards, refrigerator, freezer and breadbox. But that’s a small price to pay for a smaller waist and better overall health.
5. Automate eating. That means that you should often consume a small number of foods you love to eat. They must be easy for you to obtain or prepare and be healthy. You should eat them for each meal, alternating, say, between steel cut oatmeal, a wholesome cereal and an egg white veggie omelet (no cheese) for breakfast. Variety may be the spice of life, but it can be the death of dieting. When you have a lot of choices for a meal, it’s a lot easier to slip out of good eating habits and into ham-induced bad ones. When you sit down at a diner and are presented with a menu that’s the size of a phone book, it’s easy to give in. One way to get away from fat bombs is to eliminate choices for at least one meal a day. Pick the two meals you rush through most and automate them. For most people, one of these is lunch. Find a healthy lunch you like – salad with grilled chicken and olive oil or a vegetarian sub (no oil, no cheese) on whole grain bread – and have it for lunch every day. Yes, every day.
6. Show some resistance. Building muscle is key to burning calories and losing weight. Learn from a trainer how to do the YOU: The Owner’s Manual resistance exercises, or just do the YOU: On a Diet exercises (using your body as your gym). It only takes 20 minutes, three times a week. Adding a little muscle through resistance training helps your body burn more fat throughout the day. Though you can use household objects for resistance exercises, it’s worth investing in a pair of dumbbells to use for lunges, squats and other exercises as you get stronger. Weights usually cost about fifty cents per pound.