By Patricia Moreno
For a long time, I felt so much fear that I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my dreams and struggled with weight fluctuations, depression, drug use, and feelings of anxiety about my life.
Then, I learned to harness the power of my mind, exercise my brain, and strengthen the power of my relationship to my word. After more than 15 years of using various techniques on myself, my family, and my community of students, the amazing results people experienced piled up. My students lost pounds, overcame life-threatening health issues, healed their hearts, and quit unfulfilling jobs to pursue purposeful careers.
I wanted to make this available to people worldwide, so I created The Practice, a personal transformation training that helps you develop the mental, physical, and spiritual muscle needed to create sustainable change.
When you exercise your power to choose what you think, say, and do on a daily basis, you can elevate your mind, body, and life—one day at a time.
Visualization is a great place to start. It’s one of the seven strategies I use in The Practice, and it’s something we’re doing all of the time. I’m just teaching you to control it.
It can work for any daily challenge, including weight loss.
Whenever you’re about to make a change, there’s always going to be a challenge. Otherwise, you would have already made the change. The biggest obstacle is the future you’re projecting in your mind. If you think something’s going to be hard, you’re already rehearsing it as hard in your mind.
Starting a diet, for instance, you imagine yourself feeling deprived and sad and missing out on all of these things you’ll never, ever, ever be able to have. This starts to weaken your willpower, and we do need to apply some willpower to make changes.
What you need to do is visualize each challenge and rehearse yourself succeeding at it, just like an elite athlete before a game, including the outcome.
Say you’re following a certain meal plan and you’re going to a family party. You know it’s going to be challenging because you love your mom’s cooking, but it doesn’t fit into your current plan.
Close your eyes and literally walk through the event. See yourself going through the challenge as your best self, feeling empowered and positive.
I’d imagine myself saying “Thank you, mom, for doing this. Everything looks so amazing. I’m going to pass this time because right now I’m really developing a new level of self-discipline, but I can’t wait for next time.” And then rehearse your mom’s response. Instead of her being upset or hurt that you’re not eating, rehearse your mom saying, “I’m so proud of you. I’m going to support you in this. If this is really what you want, I’ve got your back.”
Whether that actually happens or not, what you’re doing is saying, “This is my intention. This is the way I’m going to see it. Instead of putting rocks in my backpack before I set out, I’m going to lighten my load and be on my own team.”
Yes, your brain might protest and say, “My mom would never say that!” But that’s the voice of someone who is using an excuse not to put in the effort. We give up our power by blaming other people, the circumstances, the event—all of these other things. If you’re giving someone else or something the power, you don’t have the power to change. Visualize your own power.
Patricia Moreno—a Guest Expert for The Nutrition School—is all about helping people awaken their inner bad-ass by combining practices that exercise mental, physical, and spiritual muscle so they can live a life of Thinner Peace. She is the creator of the intenSati method, and her secret recipe is the integration of mind, body, and spirit and the deliberate development of self-love and self-mastery. Sign up for her new 12-month transformation training program, The Practice, here.Should You Drink Water During Meals?
A: Hydration is one of my favorite topics, and I encourage you to be sipping on H2O 24-7—that includes water during meals.
The rumor that you should skip fluids while you eat comes from a flimsy thesis: some people say that water you drink while eating can affect your digestion by diluting the acid your stomach used to break down food. That, they claim, can prevent your body from absorbing nutrients properly and lead to bloating.
RELATED: How to Stop Bloating in 5 Easy Steps
But that theory is not supported by research, and even if we did find out there was some truth to it, the benefits of drinking water during meals (trust me!) would far outweigh that effect.
Research has shown that water during meals can help curb weight gain by preventing overeating. (We’re talking a couple glasses; don’t get so excited that you start chugging from that Swell bottle pre-dinner.)
In one study, adults who drank water right before digging in lost more weight than those who didn’t. Finishing off a glass while you wait for your steak salad to show up, it turns out, may cause you to feel full sooner.
Other studies have shown stopping for sips slows down the speed at which you eat, causing you to eat less overall. Eating at a slower speed allows you to check in with your hunger signals and usually makes a meal more enjoyable. And we all know enjoying what you eat is a big part of maintaining a sustainable balanced diet.
Liquids may also help move food through your digestive tract smoothly, so your water intake could actually prevent bloating and constipation. Score!
With all that going for it, it definitely makes sense to keep it up before, during, and between meals.
5 Healthy Reasons to Eat Chocolate (as if You Needed Them)
Chocolate, how do we love thee? It’s easy to count the ways.
We’re not just talking about the fact that it’s more delicious than almost any other food. High-quality dark chocolate also comes with plenty of health benefits, meaning you can think of it as more than just a decadent dessert.
We probably won’t have to twist your arm to get you to eat chocolate, but here are a few reasons to pat yourself on the back when you do.
RELATED: 5 Tips for Heart Health
The key? Make sure the chocolate you choose is as dark as possible (70 percent cacao or higher preferably) and low in sugar. Then, limit your intake to a few small squares, since the calories can add up. We’re not talking about kale here, guys; we’re talking about conscious indulgences.Is Drinking Vinegar for Weight Loss Effective?
A: Unfortunately, vinegar is not a miracle liquid. You’re probably not surprised to hear that, either (even if you were still hoping, hoping, hoping that there just might be one super easy diet fix out there!). No matter what you drink before a meal, you still need to do all the “work” to lose weight.
Vinegar is a product of fermentation that has been linked to everything from treating illnesses to cleaning furniture to detoxing. Apple cider vinegar, in particular, is often touted as a health cure-all with numerous benefits, including weight loss.
Most of these claims are not backed up by research. However, adding a splash of vinegar to your meals won’t hurt you, either.
Here’s what you really need to know.
Most of the reliable research on apple cider vinegar has looked at how drinking it affects blood glucose levels in people affected by diabetes.
For instance, a 2007 study showed that individuals with type 2 diabetes who drank two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed woke up in the morning with blood sugar levels that were six percent lower. A 2009 study showed people who drank two teaspoons before or during a meal had lower blood glucose levels after the meal, but only when the meal consisted of complex carbohydrates (the starchy kind of carbs found in vegetables, whole grains, potatoes, and beans, as opposed to simple carbs, which are basically just sugar, like refined table sugar and corn syrup). And a 2013 study found a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before meals lowered blood glucose levels in adults at risk for type 2 diabetes.
What does all that science-speak mean for you? Researchers say the studies suggest vinegar plays a role in the breaking down of carbohydrates, particularly starches. Over time, that could contribute to an effective weight loss program in certain people, but it’s a far cry from “Drink this, drop pounds.”
Where does that leave you? To throw back the “shots” or not?
I say incorporate vinegars like apple cider and red wine into your diet by tossing them with veggies. The fiber and water volume of the veggies will help keep you full and hydrated, which naturally aids in digestion and weight maintenance. Plus, vinegar contains close to zero calories (as opposed to, say, creamy bottled salad dressings).
Adding vinegar to your daily routine is certainly not going to hurt and if it gets you to eat more veggies, even better. Another bonus? You can use it instead of salt to add flavor, which will help keep the belly bloat at bay.
Why Bad Words Can Make You Fat
Sayings like “having willpower”, “eating in moderation”, and “guilt free” are thrown around all of the time. They’re generally thought to help you, to guide you in the right direction when it comes to eating healthy.
But rather than empowering, inspiring, and helping you achieve your health goals, what if I told you that this “inspiration” might actually be sabotaging your valiant efforts towards becoming your healthiest self?
These terms—dare I say “bad words”—are used…overused…even abused! And they can be detrimental when it comes to supporting your weight goals and even your happiness.
For my clients, I find that these terms are too vague, are negative energy, cause them to think about and focus on unhealthy foods even more, and at some point, put them in a losing situation.
While these words don’t have to be completely thrown out of your vocabulary, it’s important to realize how even simple words can have a huge effect on your health.
A: Just like you need carbohydrates and fat, you also need protein in order to live. When you think protein think building–you need it to build muscles (and skin and hair), build hormones and enzymes, and even build antibodies for a healthy immune system.
Protein is used in many bodily functions including cell maintenance and repair and blood clotting.
Ever wonder why your belly rages in hunger shortly after that morning muffin but stays calm and quiet after a hearty omelet? You guessed it: protein.
It aids in satiety by affecting the hormones which control hunger and how fast food empties from our stomachs. It also has the highest thermal effect of food (TEF), meaning it burns the most calories during digestion, versus carbs and fat.
And, we all know that protein helps build muscle and muscle burns more calories (yes, even while you’re asleep) than fat.
The USDA defines lean meat as having less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and fewer than 95 milligrams of cholesterol in a 3.5-ounce portion.
It’s also defined as a 1-ounce serving having 2 to 3 grams of fat.
Lean meat provides less calories for equal amounts of protein than higher fat meat. An example of this would be different cuts of beef.
One ounce of a lower fat cut like a top round offers 52 calories, only 2 grams of fat (.75 grams saturated), and 8 grams of protein.
Comparatively, the same one ounce of a higher fat cut such as a ribeye steak contains a much higher 83 calories, a whopping 6 grams of fat (3 grams saturated), and a comparable 7 grams of protein.
Note that fish such as salmon and certain plant protein like nut butters will have more fat than this but are heart healthy fats and certainly good sources of protein. I always recommend including them in the diet.
So, what exactly do I want you to put on your plate to meet those protein needs to slim your waistline and build your biceps?
It’s recommended that approximately 15% of your daily calories come from this macronutrient to meet your basic needs. I believe a healthy diet may safely have as much as ⅓ of your daily calories from protein.
Don’t forget we need the most protein when we’re growing (kids and pregnancy) and repairing (injured or recovering from intense strength training).
And, yes, lean protein will help you lose weight.
Aim to get it in at every meal, include plant (even you carnivores) and animal (unless of course you’re vegetarian or vegan), choose lean meat when choosing animal or fatty fish and don’t forget variety.How to Overcome a Weight Loss Plateau
How rewarding is it when you set out to lose weight and it actually works?!
In the beginning, you set your mind to it and the weight started to come off. At first the weight dropped off steadily, and then there probably was a little weight loss plateau, but then you felt better than you had in a while, and the success from dropping the first few pounds helped you keep at it.
Now, you’re really getting to your goal, when all of a sudden you feel stuck with those last few pounds. Sound familiar?
In the beginning, it was easy. You may have started by cutting out what you knew was keeping the weight on . . . the soda, the office muffins, the extra slice of pizza . . . and your body responded, which motivated you to keep going.
When you hit that little weight loss plateau you started pulling back on portions (even of the healthy stuff), drinking more water and switching the sandwich at lunch for a gorgeous salad. Go you!
You’ve been doing everything right. You feel great. You are almost there. You are almost there. You are almost there.
What the *$&%@*?!
Those last lingering pounds aren’t budging. Maybe they’re just there to mess with your head? What’s the deal?
Diet trumps exercise in weight loss. I struggle when I have a client a few pounds from his or her goal weight who is so fixated on the number on the scale that nothing else matters.
I always tell them not to give that number too much power. Easier said than done? I know.
To lose weight, the most important thing is to change your diet. However, especially when those final few pounds won’t budge, you also need to take a really close look at other pillars of your wellness. Let’s focus on exercise and stress here.
Sometimes you’re feeling fit, your clothing is fitting better than ever but the scale wants to show 148 pounds, instead of 145.
If those 3 pounds simply must come off, you may need to pull back on the spin classes, heavy strength training or swimming and head over to a low and slow treadmill workout or a yoga or barre class to meet your number goal.
Intense exercise, like spin and boot camps can build muscle, which is dense and adds to the higher number on the scale.
Let’s not forget though, that changing up your routine in this case is just to accomplish that number goal! You may actually feel better at 148, so maybe this is a good time to assess if 145 still is the goal.
Another thing to consider, is that we all have a set point, which is the weight our bodies tend to hover around naturally.
You don’t get to choose your set point (boy, wouldn’t that change the world!), but with hard work you can lower it. It will take time.
Not days. Not weeks. But months and months of consistent work.
Finally, instead of yelling profanities at the scale every morning, try measuring your waist, thighs, hips, arms and chest, or get a body fat analysis to see how you’re doing. Your scale has feelings too.
Is there more to those three pounds than diet and exercise? Is it possible that you’re fighting your biology with mixed goals?
If you’re like too many people, you’re living a busy, stressful life. You’re also trying to live a healthy life. Those two things don’t always work together so well.
When you’re stressed, your body produces adrenaline and cortisol, hormones that make it harder to lose weight. Your heart may feel racier and you may find yourself craving junk, thanks to sabotaging hormonal effects.
Look honestly at your stress and how you’re managing it. It’s just as important as your diet and exercise.
What will help YOU manage your stress so you can kick those few pounds to the curb and also boost your health? Try one of these stress reducing methods daily: meditate for 10 minutes a day, take a long shower or bath nightly, or read a book instead of getting back on your computer before bed.
Of course there are more than a couple reasons (age, sleep deprivation, hydration, medications, yo yo dieting history…) why you’ve hit that weight loss plateau and those few extra pounds may be lingering, but exercise and stress are two biggies that are super important and often overlooked.
Good for you for getting sooooo very close to your goal. Tweak and refine what is already working for you by switching up your exercise and ditch the stress. And if it’s any consolation, we think you look great;)
Tried it all, but your weight still won’t budge?
Learn why your hard work isn’t paying off and how to re-channel your energy to lose the weight. Check out my e-book: Why Can’t I Drop the Weight?
Can Food Journaling Really Help You Lose Weight?
A: You know I hate to be the bearer of bad news. Of any kind. But, this bad news (for all of you despisers out there) isn’t too bad. You may even turn into food journaling lovers by the end of this blog.
Food journaling can be your weight loss secret weapon for a whole lotta reasons, and it’s been around since, well, forever, for good reason: it works.
So just like you may not love flossing routinely, you do it because it’s good for you and you want a pretty smile too.
Need more specific reasons than that to break out a new food diary? Here ya go.
Accountability.Whether it’s a drill sergeant friend, your nutritionist or simply your sturdy Ticonderoga pencil keeping tabs on what goes in your mouth, accountability works.
Food journaling is definitely one way to be accountable either to yourself or to whoever is reading them.
One study showed that keeping a food journal doubled a person’s weight loss. It found that the best predictors of weight loss were 1) how frequently food diaries were kept and 2) how many support sessions the participants attended.
Those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records at all.
Another study showed that the more food journals people kept, the more weight people lost.
So basically those that maintained focus, diligence, and consistency with journaling were rewarded with fitting into smaller pants.
Also, if you’re working with a dietitian or health coach, you’ll get a lot more out of that partnership if you’re sharing all your food deets. The good, the bad and the in between. Putting it all out there will help your nutrition guru help you.
Food journaling can be kinda like getting a new gym membership and a fresh pair of kicks…you’re all excited to use them for the first few weeks, but when the novelty wears off, often so does your motivation and consistency.
You gotta find a way to get comfy in your new kicks, even after they’re not new anymore, and realize that the more they get broken in, the better you might look in your LuLus.
Honesty. Always a good thing, right? Food journaling keeps you honest – even if it’s just with yourself.
When I ask clients about a typical a day of eating, I often get this for an answer:
“I eat really well, not sure why I’m not losing. I eat a couple eggs for breakfast with a slice of whole grain toast, a kale salad, usually a few nuts for a snack and pretty balanced dinner of some kind of protein and usually a little rice or potato and a salad.”
When I have them write down every detail, and I mean every detail, it goes something like this:
“Two eggs prepared with butter and a drop of cheese. Slice of toast and two bites of my son’s waffle. Kale salad with dressing and parmesan cheese (I usually skip the cheese though), croutons and chicken. Three handfuls of nuts, diet soda and three bites of my daughters chocolate chip cookie (it was her friend’s birthday)…”
You get where this is going.
It’s easy to think you eat super clean but until you really hammer it out on paper, you often unintentionally don’t even realize just how much (or in some cases how little) you’re eating.
Honesty and food journaling is always the best policy. Besides, your waistline is terrible at keeping secrets.
Growth.Growth in all areas of life is always good idea. When it comes to weight loss, health, and food journaling, food journaling can be a wise sage that guides us in a new right direction.
Food journaling allows us to reflect and analyze. What worked? What didn’t work? And, finally, how can I improve what I’m eating or the behaviors and habits I’m exhausting?
There will come a day when you’ve nailed your diet and you don’t have to spend time food journaling anymore. That’s the ultimate goal, right?
But there also may come a day when you need to go back to basics and clean things up again, and food journaling is the first thing you should turn to.
It’ll be like riding a bicycle. It’ll feel familiar and easy even if it’s been a long time, and you’ll quickly remember how great it feels to have that wind in your hair…in a smaller pair of shorts.Why You Should Stop Counting Calories
Q: If I eat 100 calories of jelly beans, isn’t that the same as eating 100 calories of another snack like turkey and avocado?
A: There’s a reason why people say “a calorie is a calorie”. In all fairness, a calorie is a calorie in its most simple form.
And for years, it was drilled into our heads that counting calories was the only way to lose weight.
Calories are a measure of the energy generated from food once inside the body, and they abide by a simple law of physics: energy in minus energy out equals weight loss or gain.
This is true both in a test-tube and in tightly controlled weight loss experiments, where people are basically locked-up and fed exactly the same number of calories from different types of diets.
Time and again, subjects will lose roughly the same amount of weight, regardless of whether the calories come from low-fat, low-carbs or diets somewhere in between.
However, this is far from the complete story.
The human body is quite complex and there are many factors at play at all times.
Hormones, emotions, cravings and even our social schedule influence the amount of calories we consume and how our body processes them.
So, I’m going to explain why 100 calories of jelly beans is not the same as 100 calories of fresh turkey and a slice of avocado. Stay with me.
If all calories were created equal, many of us would choose to live in a land of gummy bears and swedish fish. But food isn’t made up of calories alone.
Let’s go back to those jelly beans.
The only nutrient jelly beans provide is sugar. Sugar does nothing good for our bodies and actually does whole lot of harm!
During digestion, sugary treats stimulate the hormone insulin to be released. Insulin is good in the way that it helps cells uptake nutrients we eat, but it also inhibits the breakdown of fat and encourages the creation of it when we take in those excess calories.
Translation: if we don’t need those jelly bean calories they’ll be turned to fat- fast!
This spike in insulin and blood sugar also causes us to feel hungrier sooner, which likely means our hand goes right back into the candy bag and pops another 100 calories in our mouth before we’ve had time to even think about it.
And the last nail in the coffin (pun intended) for living on calories from sugar alone, is that we will actually die from it. Seriously… sugar alone would eventually kill us. We need nutrients, vitamins, and phytonutrients that real whole foods provide to fuel all bodily processes.
Now, a portion of turkey and avocado can also provide the body with 100 calories. But, these calories are loaded with protein, fiber, healthy fats, iron, zinc, B vitamins, and many other vitamins and minerals our bodies needs to perform at an optimum level of health.
These nutrients help with body processes from building muscle to improving energy to boosting the immune system to helping prevent cancer, heart disease and a whole host of other benefits.
Guess what else these calories do for us? They help to keep you satisfied and full – so we aren’t as likely to go back for seconds – and they keep fat storage hormones in check.
By helping to control blood sugar, our insulin release is more stable and we release less fat storage hormones.
So the important takeaway is to watch your total calorie intake, but most important is to eat whole, real unprocessed foods. And, don’t forget to read the ingredient list of any packaged foods you do eat to get the full nutritional picture.
Jelly beans can never replace the nutritional benefits provided by consuming whole, real foods – even if you eat the same amount of calories.
Alas, a calorie is not a calorie!
How Your Lymphatic System Can Help You Lose Weight
By: Lauren Roxburgh
The lymphatic system is truly a forgotten hero in our amazing bodies. By getting to know your lymph system you can help eliminate cellulite and jumpstart your weight loss goals!
Basically, it’s the garbage disposal of our bodies, it’s responsible for filtering our system and eliminating toxins which is incredibly important for immunity, optimal health and even weight loss.
We are exposed to thousands of toxins daily from household cleaning products, beauty products, processed foods, plastics, chemically based foods and other environmental toxins.
Efficient functioning of the lymph system is essential to eliminate these excess wastes in our modern day bodies and help the body function optimally.
Stress, sitting too much, lack of activity, injuries and poor posture also contribute to a sluggish lymphatic system.
The lymph system is found under the skin throughout the entire body and support circulation, immunity and help the body flush of toxins. The lymph has to move against gravity since we are upright and that is what makes this system become congested and make you feel sluggish and carry excess weight.
Since toxicity can play a huge roll in premature aging, losing or keeping excess weight off, this system must be addressed when we are seeking optimal health.
Foam Rolling: Rolling helps smooth away congestion, inflammation, flush out the lymphatic system, increase immunity, stimulate blood circulation, “wring out” and hydrate the connective tissue and revitalize your whole being. I always say it’s like an internal juice cleanse of your connective tissue!
Inversions: Getting your hips above your heart is an amazing way to help improve your lymphatic system. By using gravity to drain stagnant fluid, inversions help bring blood and lymph from your feet and legs up to your kidneys to drain excess fluid, toxins, and stagnant energy.
Brisk Walking: When walking your legs act as a natural pump that helps move the lymph fluid through the body. Plus, the deep breathing creates pressure and expansion that helps aid the lymphatic fluid. The more transverse rotation you have while walking, the better your lymph system can flush the upper body, arms, neck and shoulders.
Rebounding: For me the combo of rolling and rebounding is the key to getting the best results. I use the Bellicon in conjunction with foam rolling each day for a transformative combination. Start with the roller for a few minutes to smooth out the density, congestion, and inflammation and then finish with 5-10 minutes bouncing on the rebounder for a fully restorative, stress busting, cellulite reducing and detoxifying workout. I have my Bellicon set up in my backyard for maximum results, breathing fresh air and soaking up a bit of vitamin D.
BOUNCE #1 The Health Bounce: Move up and down without actually jumping for 1-2 minutes to warm up your muscles, joints, lymphatic system, and organs.
BOUNCE #2 The Toning Bounce: Jump as high as you can, which helps improve balance, strengthens your primary and intrinsic muscles throughout your entire body, and also jumpstarts your lymph garbage disposal. Do this for 1-2 minutes.
BOUNCE #3 The Cardio Bounce Combo: This includes Jumping Jacks, running in place, the ski bunny twist, bouncing on one leg at a time, dancing, and any other ways you can think of. Doing these with some high intensity will help you sweat out the toxins. Do this for 10 minutes.
Dry Brushing: Dry brushing has been around since ancient times, though it’s been surging in popularity lately as many supermodels claim it as their beauty secret weapon. The idea is to get the circulation going, effectively “tightening” the skin by stimulating it with a vigorous rub, using either a brush or dry brushing gloves before a bath or shower. Always brush towards your heart and rub each limb and your torso for about 30 seconds. I find it invigorates me in the morning—and is almost as essential as that first cup of coffee. It also helps exfoliate any dry or damaged skin.
Mineral Bath: This is another ancient technique that’s just as relevant today. I recommend adding Magnesium flakes to your bath for two reasons. First it helps draw out toxins and impurities, and secondly it helps re-mineralize your skin (many of us are magnesium deficient as our Western diet and farming techniques often don’t provide the minerals we need). Rosemary essential oil and lemongrass are also great things to add as they boost the lymphatic system. Other benefits of a warm bath include easing sore muscles and helping you relax and sleep.
About Lauren: Lauren Roxburgh is an international best-selling author of ‘Taller, Slimmer, Younger – 21 Days to a Foam Roller Physique’, and creator of the Lo Rox Aligned Rollers and the Aligned Life video series. Certified in the fields of Structural Integration, classical Pilates, nutrition and pre/post-natal yoga, Lauren is a body alignment, fascia and movement healer, and has been fortunate enough to work with some of the world’s top athletes and celebrities. She is the go-to writer and expert on all things fascia, alignment and foam rolling and regularly works with some of the country’s top orthopedic surgeons.