Reboot Camp Post #5: What Works for Me
Diets are awfully personal things, aren’t they? There are dozens — hundreds? — of official diet plans out there from which to choose, and each declares itself the best since, well, sliced refined carbs.
No matter what path a dieter chooses, however, there are some universal tips that make the process a little easier. Here are my personal top 10. Some of ’em you’ve heard before, but some might fly in the face of conventional wisdom…
1. Drink Your Water! Here’s a tip that makes it on to every single diet tip list. Why? Because it works. It flushes toxins from the body. It can decrease the appetite. Every organ needs water to function properly. The long-standing rule of thumb? Drink 8 glasses of the clear stuff each day, more if you exercise. For me, I’m having to get into the habit of drinking water — I don’t do it naturally — but I find that when I drink my minimum or more I feel a little peppier, and I seem to sleep better. Speaking of which…
2. Get a Good Night’s Sleep. I feel pretty darned good when I get my 7-8 hours of shut eye each night, but most nights I get less. Turns out there’s a direct connection between the quantity of sleep and metabolism, and I direct you to a great WebMD article for the science behind it (surprise — it’s hormonal!).
Beyond quantity, we can improve the quality of our sleep as well. The best tip I’ve ever learned is to make that room as dark as possible. And the most oft-repeated tip? Don’t eat close to bedtime. Now, neither of these has prevented midlife night sweats, but that’s for another post…
3. Weigh In Only Once Each Week: You get two schools of thought on this subject, but I’m in direct opposition to those who believe you should weigh in every day. I want my scale to be my partner–not my master. The scale is great measurement of success, but it’s not the only one. Let’s not obsess, okay?
4. Eat Often. Three big meals and two snacks do not cut it for me. I’m a grazer by nature. So I’m delighted by the diet science that recommends eating small meals throughout the day as a way of regulating metabolism. You burn fuel with greater consistency, and you don’t feel so hungry.
5. Track Your Food Intake. Whether you’re counting calories, carbs, or something else, count it. It’s the best single way to make sure you’re staying on track and make mid-course corrections. Try it for at least the first few weeks of your diet.
6. Variety Is the Enemy. A lot of diets tout their culinary variety: “You’ll never get bored with the hundreds of options we offer!” But I don’t want a lot of options. I want about two dozen items from across the core food groups from which to pick and choose. Think about it: most of us actually live most of our days this way anyway. The difference is we’re replacing bad choices with good choices when we diet. So don’t give in to the “benefit” of variety. It’s a great way to fall off the diet wagon.
7. Reward Yourself Regularly. Some would call it a “cheat” meal, but I’m calling it a reward. By periodically taking a short break from your diet, you can ward off or overcome a plateau by actually boosting your metabolism. The Slow-Carb Diet popularized in recent years by Tim Ferris even mandates one reward day each week (and let me tell you, I’m taking a good hard look at this diet as my next move)!
Livestrong.com has a great explanation for the science:
According to a study at Baylor University’s Sport Nutrition Laboratory, women who followed a strict 1,000 calories per day diet for a week with a 2,600 calories per day diet for the next week did not regain a single ounce, and some women continued to lose weight. The study indicated that occasionally increasing caloric intake while dieting helped preserve resting calorie expenditure, thus preserving metabolism and helping avoid weight loss plateaus. Restricting calories for long periods can sabotage weight loss and send your body signals to hang on to fat stores for survival.
The study references a diet that counts calories–not carbs–but as an Atkins practitioner, I can attest to the fact that this works for me. I plan reward meals every other week or so for special occasions. I’m still losing weight, and I love looking forward to a break.
8. Chew Sugar Free Gum. A no brainer, I suppose, but allow me to recommend the BEST GUM EVER: Wrigley’s Extra Dessert Delights Mint Chocolate Chip. OMG — this gum is incredible, and my sweet tooth is completely satisfied. (Wrigley’s, you hearing me? Wanna throw me a stick or two?)
9. Take Your Vitamins. A good multi will help ensure your diet isn’t robbing you of key vitamins, but consider other supplements that have been linked to good metabolic function.Most of us know that the B vitamins are essential to a healthy metabolism. But did you know that new research has discovered a link between obesity and Vitamin D deficiency? And that many Americans (like me, for instance) are woefully deficient in Vitamin D??
Others on this list include Magnesium, Manganese, Chromium, CoQ10, Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), and Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA). Definitely look for upcoming Reboot Camp posts that focus on supplements!
10. Give Yourself an Extra Boost. You may be able to burn more fuel — even if only incrementally — by boosting your metabolism with some quick tricks. Add hot chiles or pepper to a meal. Drink green tea. Drink your water ice cold. Take a very cold shower. Add cinnamon to your coffee. All of these can help rev up your metabolism and speed up weight loss in a healthy, natural way.
And, of course, nothing boosts a metabolism quite like exercise. More on that subject in future posts, but for now, here’s my 2-month update on diet progress:
So far, that’s 13 pounds and 8.5.” lost. As a hypothyroid, perimenopausal 51-year old woman, I’m good with that. Damn straight.