---- — As a breakthrough coach, fitness guru and figure competitor, I am always being asked for my secret weapon to a leaner and more fit physique. People want to know what exercises will rid them of their bellies or their thighs, to look and feel lean and vibrant.
If there is a secret weapon, it is not doing the latest core training or spending hours on the elliptical, or doing hot yoga three times a day. It is creating a sound nutritional plan that will allow you to shed extra weight and live a life with more energy and vitality.
Ultimately, isn’t this what we are all looking for?
Following are some immediate steps that you can take to create a leaner, more energetic you.
1. Simplify. Are you one of those people who have a file on recipes you want to try, subscribe to several cooking magazines or spend hours searching the Web for that perfect dinner menu?
The most effective meal plan is one that is simple and easy to follow. What could be better than grilled chicken and a fresh, sliced tomato? Or a piece of broiled salmon with fresh green beans? Or how about a warm bowl of oatmeal with fresh blueberries?
My most successful clients re-create the same meals daily because they are easy to prepare, they enjoy eating them and it is key to their weight loss success. Variety can come in the spices you use and the way that you combine a few staples with your daily menu.
2. Plan. Is your idea of meal planning opening the freezer at 5:30 every night while someone behind you asks, “What’s for dinner? I am starving”? You are not alone.
The latest statistics show we eat prepackaged, over-processed food more than ever, and my bet is that is not because we have more disposable income. You can solve this dilemma by creating a simple meal plan that you and your family can follow. Not only will you save money, but you will also shrink your waistline.
Make a list of what your family likes to eat and schedule in when (and who) will shop. Most importantly, prepare these meals that will get you and your family through the week. I do my cooking on Sunday and Wednesday nights so that I am not stuck at the fridge gobbling Oreos and wondering what else to eat before I faint.
Important: Put your meals in ready-to-go containers so you can grab one on your way out the door in the morning. You will be so glad you did it!
3. Eat your breakfast. Do you save your calories for that one big meal with your family at the end of your day? You are not alone! Unfortunately, this is the kiss of death for dieting.
Without frequent small meals every two to three hours, your body switches to starvation mode, resulting in a slower metabolism and a body that holds onto every calorie it can find.
Then when dinner comes around, your body will convert the extra calories it cannot use into dreaded fat. Your magic bullet is breakfast. Eat a healthy meal of egg whites and whole-grain toast or oats with a small handful of almonds, and watch your waistline shrink. I eat eggs and oatmeal every morning, seven days a week, and I have never been more healthy and fit.
4. Reward yourself. Start with a small goal, and work your way up. How about starting by losing five pounds? Walking for a half-hour a day?
Often, we overwhelm ourselves with such lofty goals like losing 10 pounds by Friday or doing the Mount Washington Road Race on the weekend. Set yourself up for success. Write it down, share your goal with someone who will support you and, once you have accomplished this goal, reward yourself with an activity you enjoy. You deserve it!
5. Dream big. What is holding you back from being more fit and healthy? Believe it or not, much of the time, it is our own self-talk that keeps us stuck.
Pay attention to this voice, and make note of how many times in a day you are criticizing yourself for what you look like or for what you say or do. Would you treat your best friend as harshly? I doubt it!
Realize that we are all our own worst critic, but we can also be our own best ally. Dare yourself to dream big as if nothing was holding you back. What would you look like? What would you be doing? Who would you be with? Remember that what you most think about often becomes reality. Live your dreams starting today.
Eating well takes commitment and planning. But the benefits far outweigh the burden. By creating an effective meal plan that fits into your lifestyle, you will be well on your way to a healthier and more fit you.
Make it a great day!
Kate McKay, an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer and business consultant, resides in Newburyport. For more fitness tips, visit her website at www.kate-mckay.com. Please feel free to submit any fitness and health questions to Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org.