Summer is coming to an end, and for many, a much busier, fast-paced schedule is ahead of us. Sometimes transitioning from a more relaxed, Summer frame-of-mind, to the hussle and bustle of Autumn months can be a challenge, especially if you put your usual "healthy lifestyle" habits on hold. But with the change of the seasons, comes the perfect opportunity to change your mentality! If you're less than happy with your current health and/or physique, and dreading the upcoming season, make sure to include these 8 steps in your routine to not only feel better and more energized, but also look amazing within the next few weeks!
Put 1 teaspoon of virgin coconut oil (or grassfed butter) in your coffee every morning
This might sound strange, but don't knock it 'til you try it! Virgin coconut oil is an amazing healthy fat with countless nutritional benefits- one of them being the ability to speed up weight loss! Not only does the fat in coconut oil become used up as energy in your metabolism right away, but it also helps you to feel full and keeps blood sugar levels in check, so overeating throughout the day is less likely to happen. When put into your coffee, the combination of the medium-chained fatty acids with the caffeine has an even stronger kick! Plus it gives the coffee a richer, fuller flavor. Just don't cancel out the positive effects by adding any sugar or phony creamers!
Ditch your usual hour-long cardio routine and do HIIT (High-Intensity-Interval Training)
Now here's a switch you'll be happy to make! If you're used to spending hours on the treadmill each week and feeling frustrated that you're not seeing results, great news! Long bouts of cardio are very stressful (raise cortisol levels) and don't challenge your body as much as doing intermittent activity. Not only will you save so much time, but you'll get those results you've spent so much time sweating for. Next time you're on that treadmill, start by walking for 1 minute, and then sprint as fast as possible for 30 seconds. Walk it off for 1 minute, and then get sprinting for another 30 seconds. Walk for 30 seconds, and sprint again. Repeat until you've reached a total of 5-8 minutes. And you're done! Be sure to do this 3 times a week, and include resistance (weight training) at least 2 days a week to get those muscles nice and toned. The great thing about HIIT is that you'll never plateau- once the routine gets too easy, simply increase the sprinting speed and/or shorten the length of time you rest in between.
Include a healthy fat and protein in every meal or snack
Anytime you put something in your mouth, make sure there is some good quality protein and healthy fat in there! If you snack on something that is lacking these, then you're setting yourself up for failure by potentially increasing blood sugar levels to the point where insulin (the fat-storing hormone) spikes too high, and without some good fat in there your brain will not receive the signals of satiation as effectively as it would with a good fat source. Including protein in every bite helps provide the building blocks needed for our every-day metabolic processes, and gives the friendly bacteria in our digestive system the nutrients it needs to produce serotonin levels (the "feel-good" neurotransmitter-- that's right, it's made in your gut!) Being more mindful of including healthy fats and protein will also help make more conscious choices of what you're eating and how it will effect your metabolism.
Some examples of good fats:
avocado, virgin coconut oil, nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, etc), pumpkin and sunflower seeds, organic butter and cheeses, nut butters, olives and olive oil.
Get Enough Sleep
We all know that adequate sleep is important for many things, but the fact that a good solid 7 hours a night are key for maintaining a healthy weight might be a surprise. Many studies have shown that people who suffer from poor sleep, are shift-workers, or simply don't get enough of it, are 66% more likely to be overweight or obese. Sleep not only allows our metabolic system to repair and refresh itself, but it helps balance our hormonal cycles, and allows us to have energy for the next day to be more active and alert. Lack of sleep also makes us crave processed carbs a lot more, and prevents our brains from making rational decisions (suddenly reaching into that box of donuts seems a lot more "ok" when we're sleep-deprived!)
If falling and staying asleep are problematic for you, try taking magnesium glycinate before bed (the "relaxing mineral"), avoid too much stimulation via computers or TV before bed, and try incorporating aerobic activity earlier in the day (studies show this is very helpful for getting better rest at night!)
Stop Drinking Your Calories
Pop, Alcohol, Lattes, Juices and Energy Drinks all have one thing in common- they're full of sugar and other chemicals that could be keeping you from weight loss and sustainable energy. Marketers have perfected the art of tricking consumers into thinking something is a healthy choice, when it may be in fact just as poor as a cookie. Fruit juice and "Vitamin Water" for example, have the same amount of sugar in them as a can of pop. These sugars all behave the same once down your throat- signal fat storage hormones and get you on that blood-sugar rollercoaster ride. Plus they're never as satisfying as eating a fresh piece of fruit! Coffee concoctions and energy drinks are just as bad- often laced with unpronounceable chemicals and additives, these really do a horrible number on our systems and don't offer much in terms of sustainable energy (just a quick "rush" which quickly comes crashing down). Diet drinks and pop are even worse: the artificial sweeteners are neurotoxins, kill the friendly gut bacteria necessary for proper digestion and metabolism, plus they trick your brain into wanting more sugar.
Have you ever seen a healthy, fit person drinking a diet coke? Didn't think so.
Best choice when thirsty? Plain ol' water (add some lime or lemon for flavor), good quality green smoothies, kambucha (a wonderful pro-biotic fizzy drink), organic coffee or tea (in moderation). Drink plenty of these throughout the day to keep hydrated and in turn help with weight loss and mental alertness
Cut the Crappy Carbs
One of the best and sure-fire ways to reach optimal health is to ditch the cereal, muffins, bagels, whole wheat/white bread, rice, chips and crackers. Even if they are labeled as "gluten-free" or "whole-wheat", these overly processed products all do the same thing in terms of triggering fat storage and decreasing energy levels. It's called a "muffin top" for a very good reason!
Get plenty of good quality carbohydrates from veggies, sweet potatoes, squash, quinoa, and beans. The more variety of vegetables, the better! Try sauteing your veggies in a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil or grass-fed butter with some good quality protein, and you won't miss that dinner roll or side of pasta! Sugar and carb cravings are fueled by eating, you guessed it: sugar and carbs- so once you stop the cycle, beating those urges will become a breeze!
Visualize Yourself There
Dig out your summer clothes and try them on to see just how far from your goals you are. Can't fit into your favourite jeans or sweater quite yet? Leave them hanging in plain view for a daily reminder! Sometimes the biggest thing holding us back from staying on track is a loss of motivation... so solve this by having something remind you every day! Better yet, find a great support system to hold you accountable for reaching your goals: set a daily or weekly date with a friend to hit the gym or go for a run... it's a lot harder to say no to someone who is waiting on you than it is find an excuse to procrastinate.
Limit your dining out and start batch-cooking your meals once a week (or signup for a mealplan with Eat Your Cake!)
Eating at restaurants (yes, this means lunches during the week too!) is a sure fire way to prevent yourself from reaching your goals in time for summer. There's a reason why food at restaurants tastes the way it does: the unhealthy oils, MSG, processed carbohydrates and added sugar! Not to mention the often way too large portion sizes that are sometimes meant for a family of four. Your health is not the main priority of a restaurant, having you come back to eat there again is!
Instead, choose a day to plan out and prepare your week's meals ahead of time. For example, make Saturday your grocery-shopping day, and on Sunday cook a huge batch of chili, stew, or anything else than can be easily frozen and reheated throughout the week. If you like to cook a fresh dinner for yourself on occasion, simply triple the recipe and package into tupperware to take for convenient lunches the next couple of days. Hard-boil some eggs the night before for a super fast and healthy breakfast in the morning. Or, throw some greens, avocado, banana, coconut oil, flax or chia seeds into a blender in large batches, and in the morning whip it up with some ice for a quick breakfast. Not only will doing this be a great way to make sure you're staying on track all week, but will save you money so that you can have more of it to enjoy your new body all year long!
And of course, let a great Meal-Prep company like ours do all the heavy lifting for you! Enjoy the benefits of healthy eating, but with much more variety and convenience than doing it yourself :)