We've all heard the advice to lose weight: "Eat less. Exercise more." It's become a mantra in our world of too many calories and too little nutrition. It's so simple. And so very wrong.
For most of us who may be carrying a few extra pounds, losing weight is not really what we are after. What we are most likely wanting is to be able to get out of bed in the morning feeling rested and pain-free, ready to tackle another day with gusto and energy, feel good about ourselves and our bodies, do the things we want to do (play with our kids, or play a favorite sport, or go back to school, finish that project that has been taunting us forever...), and just generally enjoy life. But we are not taught how to do that in school, so instead we turn to the diet books for a way to maybe, hopefully, feel better. And pretty much every diet book tells you to "Eat less and exercise more". So that's what you do. And it probably works for a little while. Until it doesn't. And then you get frustrated and say "F*** it" (or something similar), give up for a few months and then try another diet book that has a different version of "Eat less and exercise more". And then that works for a while. Until it doesn't. And the cycle continues for some of us for years and decades. All the while we are wasting precious time and energy and even doing significant damage to our health and our metabolism.
So what does work to maintain a healthy weight and have abundant energy throughout your day? Let's start by looking at what happens to our bodies when we cut calories and exercise more.
When we cut calories, we are also cutting nutrition and energy. Literally, because food is fuel for our bodies. So if we reduce the amount of fuel we take in that our bodies need to function optimally, we don't function optimally. We get tired more easily. This problem is made worse by the fact that we often cut the wrong (ie, nutrient-dense) calories, and we also often times start out nutrient deficient. Without adequate nutrients we can't function optimally. Now we are giving our bodies less of what they need to perform at their best, and then we throw in extra exercise, usually of the kind that just makes us more tired and hungry rather than the kind that energizes us and makes us stronger. To exercise more, most of us hit the gym and get on the treadmill or elliptical machine for half an hour or longer, and that kind of long, slow cardio is about the worst thing you can do for your health, weight and energy levels.
Over time, this approach leads our bodies to believe that we are in starvation mode and it starts to hoard calories in the form of fat. Which is why the rebound effect of gaining more weight than you lost often happens after a failed attempt to "Eat less and exercise more".
So what does work?
Our bodies are elegantly complex and remarkably resilient. Maintaining a healthy weight and having lots of energy is a simple matter of eating the right kinds of foods, getting the right kind of movement, and adequate sleep. It is simple, but not always easy to know what the "right" things really are. Here are two really simple nutritional steps that will make a huge improvement in your weight and energy levels:
- Start with nutrient dense foods. Pasture-raised (grass-fed and finished) meats and butter. Coconut oil. Bone broth. Eggs from pasture-raised chickens. Pasture raised chickens. Fermented vegetables. Organic vegetables and fruits. Wild-caught fish. When you eat nutrient-dense foods, your body will be nourished and feel satiated. You won't crave the empty calories in refined, denatured, industrially-produced food-like substances that pass as food for so many of us.
- Cut out empty calories in beverages. Drink water, not soda (even diet!), not energy drinks, not calorie-laden coffee drinks, not juice, not smoothies, just water.
Our bodies are designed for movement. Here are two simple movement steps you can start taking immediately to feel better today:
- Start your day with just 10 - 15 minutes of movement every day. Exercising in the morning boosts your metabolism, reduces stress, and boosts cortisol levels which helps you wake up. The movement can be dancing around your living room, going for a walk with a friend, loved one or even your pet, a few sun salutations, or look up "15-minute exercise videos" on YouTube. You will find something that you enjoy. Try different things till you find something that works for you.
- After you start your day with your movement time, take two minutes to meditate. Meditate?!? That's not movement! No, but it's just as important to exercise our minds as it is to exercise our bodies. Think two minutes isn't enough time to do anything beneficial for you? Try it for one week and fin dout for your self. That's a total of 14 minutes over a week's time. It might be harder - and a whole lot more powerful - than you think.
Maintaining a healthy weight and enjoying abundant energy and enthusiasm every day is a habit. If you are ready to commit to feeling great and learn the step-by-step daily habits that will transform your energy levels and keep you at a healthy, good-feeling weight for good, click HERE for the Six Weeks to Abundant Energy e-course.