So? How’d you do last week? Are your pants feeling a bit looser around the waist? Does the scale read at least one pound less than it did last week?
If so, congratulations. That’s awesome and you should be proud of yourself. If not, don’t feel too bad. You’re not alone. I’m down just ½ lb, but I’d rather have that ½ pound OFF me than ON me. If you had no weight loss or even gained a bit, don’t beat yourself up about it. We’re just getting started.
Were you all good at following the steps from last week? If not, why not? Be honest. Can you do better this week?
This week, stick with last week's steps, but let's add some more.I want everyone to review your diet journals. Did you eat breakfast every day? On average, how many fruits and veggies did you eat each day? You can probably guess this week’s diet steps, can’t you?
Step 1: Eat a balanced breakfast within an hour of waking up in the morning. Your mother was right—breakfast is the most important meal of the day. When you’re sleeping at night, you’re fasting. Thus, the first meal of the day 'breaks the fast': breakfast. When you go more than 3-4 hours without eating, your metabolism slows way down, which means you’re burning very few calories. So, you want to fire up that metabolism as soon as possible after waking up in the morning. Some of you breakfast avoiders might think, “But when I eat breakfast, I’m starving a couple of hours later!” Good! That means your metabolism is humming along at breakneck speed.
Here are some of my favorite breakfasts:
Poached egg on whole wheat toast, spread with a pat of butter. Lightly salted & peppered. Coffee with tbsp half & half and Truvia.
4-6 oz spicy V-8 juice, or 4 oz fresh fruit juice.
Whole wheat toast spread with ½ tbsp almond butter or peanut butter
Coffee made as above
Whey protein shake (1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder blended with ice and 8 oz water) OR a store-bought protein shake like Muscle Milk Light.
Protein & fruit smoothie (1 scoop vanilla protein, ½ c vanilla Greek yogurt, ½ c frozen berries, 6 oz soy milk or milk, 1 tbsp flaxseed oil, water as needed to thin)
Bowl of Kix cereal, ½ c soy milk
½ sliced banana
5 raw almonds, cashews or walnuts
You’ll notice that every meal has some sort of protein and some sort of fat. Both will keep you satiated, and both will speed that fat burning.
Step 2: Whatever your average was last week for eating fruit and veggies, add at least one of each to your day. For example, if most days you ate no produce, this week eat at least one fruit and one veggie each day. Your ultimate goal is 3-4 servings of fruit and 5-6 servings of veggies each day. Sound like a lot? A serving of cooked veggies is just ½ cup, raw veggies is one cup. You’ve probably heard the warnings not to eat too much fruit because it’s loaded with sugar. That’s true. But it’s a natural sugar. If you have the body type that gains most of your weight in the middle (classic “apple” shape), you might want to stick to just 1-2 servings of fruit a day. But if you are more pear shaped (bottom heavy) or gain weight equally all over, your body can probably handle the fruit sugars just fine.
If you’re one of those amazing people who is already eating a truckload of produce a day: Yay you! Make sure you’re eating the full color spectrum: dark green, red, orange, blue, purple, etc.
That’s it for the eating tips. Now comes the fun part. The exercise. Last week I asked you to break a sweat for 20 minutes most days of the week. Continue doing that, but this week, we’re adding a bit of strength training. You want to build some muscle. Muscle takes up way less space under your skin than fat. Muscle is way more metabolically active than fat (ie: muscle burns more calories). Muscle helps build strong bones. Muscle just plain looks more attractive than fat.
STEP 3: Four simple exercises to do 2-3x this week. No equipment necessary. 15 repetitions of each, unless otherwise notes.
1. Chair Squats (Sit and stand). Sit on your chair or bench. Stand. Sit. Repeat. If this is too easy, hold dumbbells at your sides. Too hard? Do just 5, or however many you can.
2. Pushups. You can do these on the floor on the knees or toes, against your kitchen counter or desk, or against the wall. Do you have a stairway? Do pushups with your hands on the 4th or 5th step and feet on the floor. Move down a step as soon as 15 reps is no longer hard.
3. Stationary lunges. Hold onto back of chair or counter for balance if necessary. Start with legs about 8-10 inches apart. Slide one foot straight back about 1 ½ feet. Lower back knee until it’s about an inch from the floor, stand. Repeat. If this bothers your knees to go that low, don’t go that low.
4. Planks. Lie on the floor, belly down. Now come up onto your elbows and knees, keeping your belly pulled in tight, your hips level with shoulders, and your shoulders pressing away from the ears (no shrugging). If that’s too easy, hover on elbows and toes. Hold for 10 seconds. Too easy? Hold until it’s difficult.
If that series was difficult, you’re done. Not so bad? Repeat 2 more times.
Congratulations! You just worked all your main muscle groups. Squats and lunges worked the entire lower body. Pushups worked your chest, triceps, shoulders and core. Planks worked core, low back, shoulders.
If you’re already working out with weights at least 2x/week, good for you. Keep up the good work.
Okay, that’s it. Simple, eh? You can do it. I know you can.
Rebecca J. Clark has 9 years experience as a personal fitness trainer and group exercise instructor. Her favorite class to teach is Turbokick because it's so much fun and it burns so many calories. When she's not working the day job, she's writing. You can learn more about Becky's writing on her website.