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Post Thanksgiving Challenge

Are you up for our Thanksgiving weight loss challenge?

It’s been over a week now since Thanksgiving. How can you shed those extra pounds you may have picked up from the family feasts and the leftovers that followed?

It takes discipline and exercise. Mostly discipline—starting, and ending, in the kitchen.

Because the only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you eat. If you want to trim that belly fat without having to toil every day in a gym, start by not eating as much.

So here’s our challenge: Lose it in two weeks and share your story with us about what worked, what didn’t, and what you learned along the way.

You need to track

Start by downloading a nutrition tracking app like MyFitnessPal. It makes it easy to keep track of what you have eaten, broken down by how much fat, protein, and carbohydrates you have consumed (those macro-nutrients we have written about before). It takes only a few minutes to complete your profile, which includes giving a weight-loss goal. The app will then tell you how many calories you should eat in a day, and how that should be split between protein, fats, and carbohydrates.

Start with what you eat

1) Be aware that water retention due to inflammation from eating too many deserts, breads, and the “bad” fats found in processed and packaged foods can be a big contributor to that holiday weight gain.

2) So, stop eating those things. Consume your daily quota of carbohydrates from whole and unprocessed sources that also are good sources of fibre, such as brown rice, quinoa, oats, potatoes (that haven’t been fried in oil), lentils, and beans.

3) Know your fats. Moderate your intake of saturated fats such as those found in butter and red meat. Avoid trans fats and hydrogenated fats (found in margarine, vegetable shortening, and a lot of processed and packaged foods). Stick with mono- and poly- unsaturated fats (found in nuts, seeds, and avocados), and omega 3-type fatty acids (such as those found in fish).

4) Eat lots of fresh vegetables. These can help you feel full, plus they are stuffed with all sorts of essential vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre.

5) Eat protein with every meal. This can be in the form of lean meats, fish, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds, eggs, or cottage cheese.

6) Eat a balanced meal four to six times a day. That’s right. Instead of three big meals with maybe one or two small snacks throughout the day, eat a smaller meal every couple of hours. This provides more regular fuel for your body and keeps your blood sugar levels more stable, which reduces cravings and makes your body a more efficient calorie-burning machine.

7) Lay off the condiments, sauces, dressings, and gravies. Many of these products are loaded with bad fats and sugars. Read the label. A hot sauce or a regular mustard will have a negligible impact on your caloric intake, whereas a barbecue sauce or a mayonnaise can have a lot.

Then exercise

You don’t have to spend big chunks of time in a gym. If you are into that, then great, so are we. But you can do a lot at home and at work, too.

1) Just get up and move. Don’t sit for hours at a time. Take a break every hour for a few minutes.

2) Get the blood pumping. A lot of emphasis is often placed on cardio exercise to burn calories. But working your muscles with resistance can stimulate fat burn, too, perhaps even more. Working muscles consume a lot of energy. Muscles that have to recover from resistance training take even more.

3) You don’t have to start lifting weights. You can do a lot without having to tackle a barbell or even a big exercise machine. There are many ways to do a pushup or pullup, depending on which upper body muscles you want to work and your fitness level. The same goes for working your core muscles with some form of crunch or plank, or working your legs with some variation of the lunge or squat. You can easily add extra resistance at work or home with resistance bands – these are just giant rubber bands available in different sizes.

For example. Here’s a great at-home workout you can do in only 15 minutes, from the editors of Women’s Health Magazine. (Men can do it, too.)

Or here is one that takes only seven minutes and works with a mobile app. (Of course, you could always do it twice in a day.)

Another approach is functional interval training, which can burn fat quicker than a longer period of low-intensity exercise. Here’s what you do:

  1. Warm up for three minutes with light activity
  2. Perform one minute of exercise as hard and fast as you can
  3. Then perform two minutes of the exercise at a comfortable, lower-intensity pace
  4. Repeat this cycle five to 10 times.

This gives a total workout time of 18-30 minutes. The good news is you can do this with any exercise and change it up from session to session. It could be cycling, jumping rope, using an elliptical, burpees, jumping jacks, etc.

4) And throw in a few brisk walks. Couple this training with light cardio. Maybe that’s cycling while the weather holds, hiking a trail, walking the dog, walking at work during lunch. It’s all good.

5) What’s important is consistency. Thirty minutes of activity a few times a week that gets your heart rate up and muscles feeling a burn can yield noticeable results in a relatively short period of time, provided you are keeping your caloric intake under control.

So, set your goals and get started

If you set your mind to it, what can you achieve in the next two weeks? What about over the entire winter? (The next big feast season is just around the corner, after all.)

Start with MyFitnessPal. Set your goal, and then eat within the guidelines provided. Add in the exercise – make it part of your daily/weekly routine by adding it to your calendar just like you would any other appointment. Team up with your spouse or a buddy to keep yourself accountable.

And now for the disclaimer: Always be sure to check with a qualified health professional before embarking on any exercise program if you have any concerns. Give us a call today!

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