Welcome to "52 Weeks to a Healthier You"....

Are you thinking about making changes in your life to become a healthier person but don't quite know how to get started? Perhaps your doctor has suggested eating healthier, exercising and losing weight, but it all seems so overwhelming. Many of us already know what we should be doing, but implementing all of those pieces of information can be quite a challenge. Too often we embark on a new diet or exercise plan only to give up after a few days or weeks because it seems too difficult. Well, worry no more. You have arrived at the ideal place to help you make those changes. We are going to develop new habits, one week at a time. Health, exercise, and nutritional goals have been broken down into small, manageable steps. Each week you will add one new habit and have seven full days to perfect it before moving on to the next one. This is not a traditional diet and exercise plan, but rather a journey towards a permanent healthy lifestyle. The steps may seem small at first, but collectively they add up to major improvements in one's overall well-being. In just 52 short weeks, you will be amazed and proud of the changes you have made. You will look back and see just how far you've come on your quest to be a healthier YOU. Now, scroll down in the archives to January 2011/Week 1 and let's get started.... Then, follow each week's tip to a healthier YOU!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Week 20 - Has your weight loss slowed down or stalled? The answer may be as simple as increasing water intake and healthy fats...

Weight Loss

Has your weight loss program slowed down or even come to a screeching halt?  After weeks and months of diet and exercise success, many people are dismayed to find their weight loss efforts suddenly stalled.  Well, the answer may be as simple as increasing daily water intake and adding more healthy fats to your diet. Let's examine both of these ideas.

Proper hydration is essential for any exercise and fitness program. Your entire metabolic system, and the process of burning calories, requires water in order to operate efficiently. When you do not drink enough water you become dehydrated and this slows down the entire fat burning process. Dehydration results in a reduction in blood volume to the muscles.  This reduction in blood volume causes a reduction in the supply of oxygen to your muscles and you may become very tired and sluggish. A recent study by researchers at Virginia Tech prove that increasing water intake also increases fat loss in adults. The researchers started by putting more than 40 overweight and obese adults on a diet. Half of the dieters were randomly assigned to drink a 16-ounce bottle of water before all three meals. The others received water but were not given any instructions about when or how to drink it. Twelve weeks later, the water drinkers had lost an average of 15.5 pounds, compared to an average 11-pound loss in the other group. That's a 44 percent boost in weight loss, just from drinking water! Water also helps maintain muscle tone by assisting muscles in their ability to contract. It also lubricates joints and helps to reduce muscle and joint soreness when exercising. You may have heard popular advice to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, but to lose weight and make progress in your fitness goals, you should be drinking a minimum of twelve 8-ounce glasses. Bodybuilders, weightlifters, and elite athletes often drink a gallon of water or more per day.

Up to this point, you have been drinking six 8-ounce glasses of water per day.  To reach our goal of eight glasses, this week try adding in just two more glasses, one before lunch and one after dinner.  In order to spread out hydration optimally throughout the day, your water intake schedule should look something like this:
  1. 8 ozs upon awakening
  2. 8 ozs after breakfast
  3. 8 ozs mid-morning
  4. 8 ozs before lunch
  5. 8 ozs after lunch
  6. 8 ozs mid-afternoon
  7. 8 ozs before dinner
  8. 8 ozs after dinner
In addition to adequate hydration, a diet rich in healthy fats is also necessary for weight loss.  This may seem contradictory to current thinking; we often hear that low-fat diets result in fat loss. This is simply not the case, and let's look at the reasons why. The typical Amercian diet consists of too much unhealthy, saturated fat.  However, healthy fats are essential for wellness and are the building blocks of hormones that help you control your weight. Dietary fat is required to produce steriod hormones, such as testosterone, that are essential in both men and women for maintaining a healthy weight. Healthy cell function including the prevention of insulin resistance is dependent on having enough fats in the diet. Without these healthy fats, your metabolism crashes and fat-burning stops.  It is important to note that we are talking about unprocessed, unsaturated fats which can be found naturally in foods such as olive oil, fish, avocadoes and nuts, as opposed to processed, saturated fats such as margarine, shortening, butter, partially-hydrogenated oils, and lard.  Healthy fats contain essential fatty acids (EFAs) that your body is unable to produce on its own. Therefore, these EFAs must be obtained through food or food supplements. EFAs increase metabolic rate and energy levels, which means that we burn more calories. They help our kidneys excrete excess water held in tissues which makes up much of the extra weight in some overweight people. EFAs help decrease cravings and they elevate mood and lift depression. When we feel better, we have more energy and this makes us feel like being more active. Finally, essential fatty acids play an important role in our skin, hair, and nails. The more common signs of deficiency of essential fats are dry skin, water retention, lack of energy, impaired brain function, skin conditions such as eczema or acne, food cravings, allergies, and a sluggish metabolism resulting in obesity. (1)

Humans require a relatively high-fat diet (15-20%) as opposed to most other animals (5% or less for most carnivores). The average adult needs approximately 40-65 total grams of fat per day. The mistake most dieters make is they restrict fat intake too low thinking it will speed weight loss. If your dieting efforts are not working, try adding in up to 2 Tablespoons of a healthy liquid fat such as olive oil, flaxseed oil or Omega 3s in gel capsule form.  By increasing daily water and fat intake, it should put your meal plan back on track and you should begin to make progress in your fat loss.

Whether or not you are dieting to lose weight, or just following 52 Weeks to A Healthier You in order to improve your overall health, everyone can benefit from the addition of water and healthy fats to their diet.  Your task this week is to make sure you are getting in all eight glasses of water per day, as well as adding enough healthy fat to your daily intake to equal 2 Tablespoons. Do not be afraid of this dietary fat -- as stated above, fat is necessary for optimum metabolic performance and weight loss.

"The know-how to successfully achieving good health is available to everyone."
          ~ Anonymous

1. "Fat and its Effect on Weight Loss, http://www.omega-oils-health.com/fatsandweightloss.html