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A Healthier You
Nutrition and Weight Loss

Struggling trying shed those extra pounds you packed on over the holidays? Is your body, "Love Handle Central?" I know what you're going through. It's difficult, it's frustrating, and you feel the strong urge to change your body for the better. You couldn't be any more right. Believe me, I was where you are at one time and it's not at all flattering. Everyone makes their own decisions. What decisions they make, depend on what direction they'll go, or in this case, what directions their bodies will go. You have to make a decision, a commitment, and take on the challenge. The road will be rough and their will be times you will want to quit, or grab that cookie off the table, but don't! Be a believer. Believe in yourself, and fight for it.

Always know, dieting and weight loss take time and patience... extreme patience. It will break you down not only physically, but also mentally. You're body will be sore most of the time and your stomach craving for junk food. It all wears off over time. You must realize this is something you can't change overnight. Their are certain steps you must follow. For instance, weening yourself off certain foods, or bad eating habits. When I started dieting, I had to ween myself off of Oreos. God, did I love Oreos, and still do. I would come home from work and absolutely destroy a row, even 2 rows of Oreos. Then when I started to diet, instead of eating one row, I'd force myself to stop after 5 cookies, then 3 cookies, and so on and so forth. Finally, I began substituting Oreos for something slightly healthier, Ritz Crackers. I'd eat half of the row of Ritz Crackers. It's still not the healthiest for you, but it's better then chowing down on a whole bag of Oreos. Slowly, I began to ween myself off of one food, and on to another food. The best, in my opinion, is mixing a little low fat granolla with some low fat yogart, which became my substitute snack for Oreos. It's all about controlling what you eat, making the decision to not eat those Oreos and to eat something healthier instead. Once you start eating healthier you will notice a signifigant change in the way your body responds to you. Your body will love you because everything from your head to your toes will feel lighter, and happier. I mean it!

Their are certain foods I recommend staying away from. Fast foods, pizzas, cake, and soda's are all obvious choices, but what about the foods that companies try to pass off as healthy but really aren't? Their are some tricks to the trade in decifering the nutrtional code. Major diet plans tell you to stay away from all fat, or all carbs, or promote low calorie diets. Most of these diets aren't a complete bad idea. What I found that worked was at first, staying away from anything too high in fat. On average, an adult male consumes around 80 grams of fat per day as opposed to women on average only consuming around 60 grams of fat per day. I cut my total grams of fat per day down by 1/4, only consuming about 20-25 grams of fat per day. I started eating egg whites instead of the whole egg. I began drinking protein shakes that were very low in fat and carbs and the protein would also help with my muscle recovery from workouts. Instead of Pop Tarts in the morning for breakfast, I eat 2 cups of dry Special K, or Whole Grain Cheerios. I stopped drinking anything with alot of sugar, since sugar can ultimately turn into fat, and began to drink about 10 glasses of ice water everyday. After a few months or so, when I got used to the whole dieting routine I once again challenged myself by cutting carbohydrates. I consume the majority of my carbs in the morning that way my body can use them as energy throughout the day and stop, "carbing" after dinner. Each one of my meals, after about a 70 carb breakfast, is under 50 carbs. At the end of the day, my total carb count is around 200 and total fat count is between 20 - 35 grams. It's mainly about portions and finding things such as whipped cream, sour cream, cheese, and any other foods in low fat, low carb form. Challenge yourself to research the nutrtional facts of specific foods. Once you find out which foods contain what, it gets simple. For instance, grilled chicken, and fish are the best things for you. Packed with protein, fish and chicken give you that, "stuffed" feeling and are low in carbs and fat. Substitute ground turkey for ground beef when making burgers or tacos. One of the most important things while dieting, that is a MUST, is a cheat day. My cheat day came into play after I had lost about 20 pounds over the course of 2 months. A cheat day is a day where you absolutely let loose on whatever you want to eat. You need this cheat day to boost your metabolism for the rest of the week you are on your strict diet and exercise plan. This cheat day, can also be your reward at the end of an excellent week of rigorous training and strict dieting.

Exercise is a must when attempting to lose weight. You don't have to run out and sign up at the gym, or go out and buy a tredmill right away. Start by taking a walk outside around the block, or doing 100 jumping jacks, or crunches before going to bed at night. Instead of sitting on the couch and watching Opera with a bag of potato chips, get up and do sit ups while watching some tv. You have to make a start somewhere. You just have to find out where, when, and how you're going to make you're start. Not everyone is the same. Just like dieting, you must take it slow. Go day by day and see what works best for you. Alot of people say they don't have time for the gym with work, and kids, and everything in life. I think that's a crock of crap. If you want it bad enough, you will make the time. I thought the same thing, that I'd never make it to the gym because I had no time. What I did, was made it a point even if I only did one exercise, to go to the gym at least so many days per week. That's one more exercise I did then the previous days. Pretty soon, you'll get in a routine of just, "being" at the gym and making time for the gym. After that, it's cake. You just made time for the gym! Once you get over that initial, "wall" so to speak, you have to start setting goals for yourself and rewarding yourself. Maybe last week you ran a 10 minute mile. Well, shoot for a mile and a half next, but don't worry about your overall time, worry about just finishing the run, then in the future worry about overall time. Once you set a weekly goal for yourself, whatever it may be, and achieve this goal, you must reward yourself. Reward yourself by buying a new shirt, or a new pair of running shoes, and don't forget to go out and splurge on some junk food for your cheat day as part of your reward!

Remember, this is going to be a long journey and is a huge commitment. Your mind and body must be focused in on this challenging experience 100% of the time and you must give it 110% of everything you've got. Never give up and never lose hope. Don't be afraid to let loose and enjoy life, but stay focused. You're starting a new journey and challenging yourself everyday.