This was the question presented to me by Erika, a cute young actress at SoulCycle the other day. It’s a small question, with a very large answer. Losing weight and staying healthy isn’t an easy process. You have to be METICULOUS with the details. But here’s my first response: YOU’RE WORTH IT. The better answer is you shouldn’t diet at all. Instead, hit the reset button and put your eating and exercise regimen on the right track and create a sustainable lifestyle.
If and when you’re ready, here are my suggestions on how to train your body to burn fat. Click the links for more details and use the navigation above to find exercises and recipes and nutritional help along the way.
1. CHOSE YOUR SUGAR WISELY.
Easier said than done, I know. However, I’m not telling you to cut out carbs. Carbohydrates – fiber and sugar – found in fruits, veggies, and whole grains, are good for you. What you need to cut out is the raw sugar, honey, agave, alcohol, etc. When your body craves sugar, eat sweet fruits you love (like a banana, peach, or even dried mango) instead of cupcakes or vino. You’ll find you mellow out as your blood sugar rises. Over time, the intensity of your cravings will decrease and you’ll drop the fruits too.
Click the chart to learn about how to choose carbs. Read more here.
A cleanse can be a great way to kick the sugar to the curb quickly. More on that here.
Bottom line: the sugar you don’t burn during the day gets stored as fat. Hence the following:
2. SET UP A WORKOUT SCHEDULE.
When you’re starting out, the actual exercise doesn’t matter. Just do something, or rather, 3 different things you love to get your body in gear and your mind motivated. Cross-trainging builds muscle while ramping up your metabolism. My recommendation:
As I said earlier, the key to success is being METICULOUS. So once you get going, buy a heart rate monitor and be smart about your workouts. YOU HAVE TO KNOW YOUR HEART RATE ZONES IN ORDER TO TRAIN YOUR BODY TO BURN FAT. If you don’t get your heart rate into the proper zones, you might not actually be hitting your fat burning heart rate zone. For more on heart rate monitors, go here.
Weight lifting is usually a sticky spot for women, but we need it. If you’re unfamiliar with how to use machines and set up a workout, HIRE A TRAINER. In two to three sessions, they can teach you what you need to know and at least get you started. Remember, YOU’RE WORTH IT! And since you’ve cut back on the booze, you’ll have some extra cash to play with.
Beware of group fitness classes for your weight lifting days. Usually they are better for your cardio days. When you lift weights, you need to be using substantial weight, not 3-5 lb dumbbells.
3. EAT MORE PROTEIN AND FAT.
On their own, carbs fill you up instantly and leave you hungry within an hour (an example of “healthy” meal that left me starving here). Protein and good fats are what satisfy your hunger for at two to three hours. In every meal, an active women needs 20-30 grams of protein, preferably from lean meats, eggs, or powders (cold pressed whey, pea, or hemp). Because the protein is lean, you need to add a little bit of fat (about 6-9 grams): almonds, olive oil, cheese, avocado, coconut oil, seeds. If you don’t have the fat, your body won’t be satisfied and you’ll be reaching for food within the hour.
The goal is for each meal and snack to have the same amount of protein, fat, carbs, and calories.
It’s the part that sucks, but works!
For me, the breakdown looks like this:
- 300 calories
- 9g fat
- 20-30g protein
- 25-30g carbs
I eat every two to three hours so that my metabolism is constantly working.
Read more about being meticulous in creating your portions here.
4. EAT WHEN YOUR BODY IS HUNGRY.
This point speaks to your metabolism. If you’re hungry, your body isn’t satisfied. When you don’t eat, your metabolism slows down and your body starts to feed upon itself. Not a good situation. For goodness sakes eat something. Stock your purse and car with healthy snacks so you reach for something good instead of sweets.
Now, if you’ve JUST eaten your full meal and you’re still hungry. Drink water. Most of the time we’re dehydrated and your body is thirsty.
5. OPT FOR QUALITY OVER CONVENIENCE.
In your food and exercise, you need to be efficient. If you spend an hour in the gym and don’t know what you’re doing, you’ve wasted the hour. If you feed your body processed food instead of natural goodness, you are pulling your body backwards instead of fueling it forward.
6. LET YOUR BODY RECOVER.
Take one or even two days off of exercise so your body can rest. If your muscles are exhausted, they can’t build strength.
Please note, I’m NOT an expert. I have worked with experts in fitness and nutrition and this is the system I’ve found works for me.
(First photo I took at Level10 Fitness in Manhattan Beach. My favorite circuit training….in the world ;) Meredith is truly one of a kind!)