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Diet Tips

Exercise alone will not provide the results you seek, nor will diet alone. Efficient exercise and an intelligently designed food plan that is realistic based on your lifestyle, is the solution to body fat loss, tightening muscles and increasing energy. One separated from the other will produce less than optimal results.

You know how there’s a food pyramid? If your goal is fat loss, you should think of your fitness routine as a pyramid too. The foundation is cardio exercise, at least 30 minutes each day (four to five days per week). On top of that? Stretching, to maintain your flexibility and reduce stress. At the top of the pyramid? Strength training, at least twice a week, and don’t forget, proper amounts of rest which surrounds the entire pyramid.

Weight training is essential to burn body fat. For every pound of muscle you gain, your body burns 30-50 additional calories per day. If you gain five pounds of muscle, you’ll be burning up to 250 additional calories per day. The cumulative effect is significant -- that’s about 84,000 calories over the course of one year. Most people are afraid of bulking up from weight training, but bulk is merely fat on top of muscle, so as you lose the fat, you’ll look lean and tight from your weight training -- not bulky. Weight training also combats osteoporosis and is the shapely/sexy woman’s best kept secret.

Whoever said exercise has to be complete drudgery? Find an activity you really enjoy and one that’s fun. For example, if you don’t enjoy traditional cardiovascular exercise, invest in an upbeat dance video tape, or take a belly dancing or archery class, for example. Think about what you consider fun and then just do it.

Concentrate on doing your very best in the time you allot for your workout. Exercise is a tool to get you the things you want. To make you stronger, leaner, healthier or more nimble doing things that you enjoy. It will allow you to play your sport, dance with friends, play with your grandchildren and accomplish your daily activities faster and easier.

Perform a realistic exercise program based on your lifestyle. Consistency is more important than total volume. Working out two to three days per week with consistency will produce more results than haphazard workouts such as five days one week, one day the following week, etc.

Having trouble getting motivated to exercise? Write down a 30-day fitness goal and keep it to no more than two to three goals. Also, make it quantifiable and realistic. For example, "I will work out two days per week every week for the next 30 days and I will perform 30 minutes of power walking for my workout each session with a goal of losing two pounds." At the end of the 30 days, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment because your goals were short-term, realistic and measurable. This natural progression will propel you to add a third day of exercise and dramatically increase your motivation and self-esteem. Remember to coax motivation and fitness -- not force it.

Ever hear of the expression "cardio queen?" It refers to someone who performs two hours of cardio per day. This person mistakenly assumes that this is the most efficient method to lose fat. In fact, it’s the most efficient method to lose fat and muscle! By the time you get to your weight goal, it makes you look soft with absolutely no firmness to your muscles. Always perform resistance training and cardio as part of your overall fitness program and don’t go over 50-60 minutes of cardio.

It doesn’t have to be overly rigid, but I highly recommend some sort of structured eating plan Monday through Friday. You can take some liberties on the weekend, but if you have a plan and know what you’ll be eating for each meal and snack, you’re less likely to reach for munchies at night. This may involve some meal preparation and planning, but I find it to be extremely effective in losing fat.

The key to losing body fat is controlling blood sugar and insulin levels. The best way to control blood sugar through your diet is to eat three small meals and two to three small snacks spread every two to three hours. This sends a signal to your body that there is plenty of food and that stored body fat and excess water can be released. Combine protein and carbohydrates at each meal and snack with some good monounsaturated fat and don’t let any meal go above 300 calories. In some cases the calories will need to be higher or lower depending on activity, height, etc.
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