The Wonders of Lemon Water for Fat Loss

Lemons can help aid weight loss
When life gives you lemons – make lemon water!

It appears, lemons are not just for lemonade!  Lemons have a barrage of uses and benefits from beauty regimes, cleaning products, cooking, to fighting infections.  Lemons are also a very powerful agent in fat loss.  It’s the citric acid in lemons (containing the highest amount of any other fruit) that make them such a powerhouse among fruits. One of the reasons we hold on to extra body fat is related to a poor functioning digestive system.

Poor digestion is a very common problem with most people and is often caused by an inconsistent diet, meaning, a diet lacking in certain nutrients.  Those that follow different types of diet trends can aggravate digestive problems by restricting certain essential nutrients that the body needs to burn fat.  Without the proper nutrients, digestion slows down which, in turn, slows down your metabolism and makes fat loss impossible.  When the body is not receiving proper nutrients, it triggers a craving for these nutrients making you feel hungry when in actuality, you are not.

How can lemons help this? It’s amazing what this little fruit can actually do!  Most people eat foods that create an acidic environment in the body, which leads to all sorts of digestive and health problems.  Ironically, lemons (even though they are high in citric acid) have an alkalizing or neutralizing effect in the body.  The benefits stem from this alkalizing effect.

Why You Need Lemons

  • Lemons help purify the liver by removing toxins. When there’s a build up of toxins in your body, it can result in feeling sluggish, bloated, and depressed.  Toxins in the body also hold on to fat, so in order to lose the fat, you need to flush out the toxins.  The added benefit of clearing toxic waste is a clear and glowing complexion!  Add a wedge of lemon to your glass of water.
  • A great weight loss aid! The peel of the lemon contains pectin which is a great source of fiber.  Pectin helps slow down sugar absorption in the stomach which helps keep hunger cravings at bay, for up to 4 hours!  A great way to get pectin in your diet:  grate some lemon zest on your salad or in your pasta sauce.
  • Can relieve digestive problems. According to The Lemon Juice Diet, drinking warm water with lemon juice first thing in the morning will stimulate the digestive system and have revitalizing effect on the liver.  It can relieve digestive problems such as nausea, heartburn, constipation and parasites.
  • Helps heighten immunity. Lemons contain Vitamin C which helps to prevent and treat different types of infections, allergies, and symptoms of asthma.

Love your Lemons

fitTip: Watch your Posture! Stand and Sit Up Straight

No slouching or hunching, please!  Whether you are sitting, standing or engaging in any activity, maintaining proper posture is so crucial.

Poor posture is the major cause of work-related back problems.  The spine wasn’t designed to sit in front of a computer or behind the steering wheel of a car for long periods of time.  But, as reality has it,  these activities are here to stay and we need to be proactive in finding ways to prevent injury to our spine.  We’re all guilty of slouching or hunching at our computer, however, consciously correcting our posture throughout the day is one way of being preventative.

Good posture requires core activation.  Proper core activation is something that needs to be practiced regularly, and only with practice, will it become a habit.  Until it becomes subconscious, we need to consciously check ourselves throughout the day and make sure we are engaging our core muscles.

Core activation requires the contraction of the deep abdominal muscles, the transverse abdominus, and the contraction of the pelvic floor muscles (which I often refer to as the “pee” muscles).  Together, these muscles, when contracted, help to support and protect the spinal cord from stress and injury.

How do you properly activate the core muscles?  Pretend to blow out a candle by deeply exhaling.  This action causes a contraction of the transverse abdominus which is responsible for forced exhalation.  Now, once the core is activated, we need to make sure our torso is upright and our spine is straight.  Imagine a puppet string attached to the top of your head; pretend to pull that string straight up, therefore, straightening out your spine.  The last part requires pulling our shoulders and head back.  And there you have it, perfect posture!

By practicing this as often as you can, where ever you are, you’ll become aware of your posture and will eventually be able to catch yourself slouching or hunching.  Good posture will not only save your back, but it’ll make you appear more confident, and taller!

Exercise fitTip: Consistency is Key

Whether you workout 3 days a week, or 6 days a week, the important thing is to keep it consistent.  Consistency is to keep the momentum going, keep plugging away at your routine diligently because eventually you will reach that pinnacle where the “magic” happens.  That’s the point when you will start to see real results taking shape!  Without consistency, you will never reach that pinnacle.  Breaking the routine can set you back further and make it difficult to get back on track.

Consistency creates habits.  Habits make the difference between success or failure.  Habits can be positive or negative.  Did you know that “quitting” or “slacking” is a habit?  Every time you slack off or make excuses, you are creating a habit that sends a message to your subconscious that you are helpless and this could potentially damage your self-esteem.  When we quit or slack, we usually don’t feel good about it or about ourselves.  On the other hand, if you take action every time you feel like quitting, you will gain confidence and feel stronger.  This strength will help you to remain consistent.

Life happens and sometimes, the routine demands of life will overload you, or unexpected events will blow in from nowhere and threaten to drive you off track.  When such things happen, confront the urge to give up.  There may be times, you’ll be tempted to rationalize, “Well, I’ll quit for now, but I’ll get back on track tomorrow or next week”.  Don’t do it!  Instead, take immediate action by plugging away toward your goals before the temptation to quit gets too strong.

The person who takes action every single day toward the attainment of their goal will always triumph over those who do it every once in a while.

Weekly fitTip: Never Stretch Before a Workout

Every once in a while we all get these mysterious sprains or injuries from our activities of daily life or our regular workouts.  These so-called injuries can last anywhere from overnight or go on for days or even weeks.  Very frustrating and senseless as it’s often hard to pinpoint the actual cause.  Most people simply resolve to the fact that they probably didn’t warm up enough.

Well, the truth is, warming up can be a double-edged sword, not only can it prevent injury, but it can also be the cause of injury.

First of all, injuries can be pretty complicated and your lack of warming up may not totally be to blame, but one thing is for sure:  Warming up WILL help you reduce your risk of injury.  You need to get yourself moving and get that blood flowing to your muscles to properly prepare your body before you get all crazy with the dumbbells.

Problem is, most people have been taught that stretching is part of warming-up.  After all, isn’t that what all the fitness magazines suggest.  Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth and it’s exactly the kind of advise that initiates those senseless injuries.

Here’s why you should NEVER stretch before your workout:

#1 Stretching before your workout can increase your risk of injury:

There’s a common misconception that stretching reduces your risk of injury by “loosening” up your muscles.  Well, it’s not all wrong…static stretching can help elongate and relax your muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  But here’s the catch: static stretching reduces your muscles’ ability to contract.

And since your muscles need to be ready to contract (concentrically and eccentrically) at vigorous rates as soon as you start exercising, you want them to be ready for action — NOT in a long and relaxed state. You’re much more likely to pull a muscle when you suddenly try to exert force (like lifting weights) from a relaxed state.  This is why static stretching is not the activity of choice prior to working out.

#2 Stretching is NOT warming-up:

Your warm-up should be a lighter version of what your actual workout is going to be (I call it a “Dynamic Warm-Up”.  For example, if one of the exercises you plan on doing is lunges with dumbbells, then your warm up should be lunges without the weights.  You should do all the low-intensity versions of the exercises you’ll be doing in your workout to properly prepare your muscles, ligaments and joints.  This is why it makes all the difference to plan what you’re going to do before you go the gym.

The whole point of warming up is to get your heart rate up, get your blood flowing and pump more oxygen to your muscles so you can prepare to dive into your workout.  If you stretch during your warm-up, you’re going to let your heart rate back down and allow your muscles to relax…and “undo” what you were trying to accomplish in the first place!

When should you stretch?

Stretching is extremely important, but what’s more important is WHEN you stretch.  Never stretch before a workout, only AFTER your workout.  You want to have good flexibility because that helps reduce risk of injury, but it’s crucial that you don’t work on it until after your workout when you’re cooling down – that’s the right time to lengthen and relax your muscles.

Now, keep this in mind during your next workout and see if you experience the difference.  I can almost guarantee you won’t be getting anymore of those mysterious injuries.

Weekly fitTip: Eat More to Lose Weight

In order to lose weight faster and  more efficiently, you need to eat more.  That doesn’t make any sense, right?  It sounds too good to be true and it contradicts the whole concept of dieting, however, it’s a hard and proven fact.  But wait, before you start planning a binge, here’s the catch, you need to eat more of the good stuff.  Now, there’s no need to roll your eyes, it’s actually very simple!

Think about it like this, for a fire to keep burning it needs to be stoked every so often on a regular basis. much like our metabolism, which is our internal fat burning furnace.  Stoking your metabolism requires eating a small meal or snack approximately every 3 hours (like throwing a log on the fire).  Over the course of a day this will add up to 5 or 6 small meals (for example: breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, dinner, evening snack).  The size of the meals will depend on your total daily calorie allowance.

A general recommendation is that snacks should be between 100 and 200 calories each.  You’re probably wondering what types of snacks could possibly be 100 to 200 calories and still be satisfying?  It certainly rules out any sort of processed or junk food options, which are loaded with empty calories and next to zero nutrition.  Processed snacks are a waste of calories since they will not satisfy you for long. They generally cause a drop in blood sugar levels causing you to feel hungry again, which can then lead to unhealthy food cravings.  The key to avoiding this viscous cycle is to find foods that are naturally low in calories and nutrient dense (high nutritional value).

Here’s a list of 10 nutrient dense snacks that will not only keep you full longer, but will also satisfy the taste buds.  A good idea is to keep these items stocked in your fridge and pantry so you have them on hand for the next snack attack.  Many of these snacks are great for on-the-go or for at your desk at work, so keep a stash handy wherever you can.  This will take the guess work out of eating healthy and keep you on the right track.

Top 10 Nutrient Rich Snacks:

  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, pine nuts)
  • Dried Fruit (raisins, dates, prunes, cranberries, cherries – unsweetened)
  • Veggies (baby carrots, celery sticks, sugar snap peas, etc)
  • String Cheese
  • Fresh fruit & Berries
  • Popcorn (air popped, unsalted, no butter or margarine)
  • Cottage cheese & fresh/frozen berries and honey
  • Whole grain cracker with Hummus, Peanut butter
  • Smoothie
  • Dark Chocolate

Portion control is very important even with healthy snacks. Measure out and pack proper portions in advance so they are ready when you need them, this requires a little planning and preparation, but is well worth the effort.  By having these healthy snacks readily on hand, you can avoid any dietary pitfalls and feel good that you are stoking your body’s fat burning potential.  Combine these healthy eating habits with a structured exercise regime and watch your body transform!

Weekly fitTip: Make ‘Room’ for Treats

Now that Halloween’s come and gone, what’s left behind is the hoard of candy and the daily temptation that comes with it.  An ideal solution would be to get rid of it by giving it away, sharing it, or just throwing it out.  In reality, that’s just not going to happen!  Whose going to take your candy when everyone’s got tons of their own.  Throwing it away seems a little extreme and irrational, I mean, why take it in the first place to throw out in the end?

The reasonable solution is what I like to call, “making room”.  Allowing yourself a treat is fine, even if it is daily, but you need to compensate for that treat.  In order to ‘fit’ that treat into your diet, you’ll need to make room in terms of calories.  Give up some extra calories during the day, like a soda, latte, cookies, or chips, to make an allowance for the treat calories.  I emphasize giving up ”extra calories” because these are calories that you could otherwise do without, as opposed to nutrient rich calories which are a necessary part of your daily dietary requirement.  By practicing ‘making room’,  you can enjoy your treat guilt-free without consuming extra calories or packing on extra pounds.

Be sure to watch the portion size of your treat and avoid over indulging.

Weekly fitTip: Know what’s in your food

Whether you are uninformed or misinformed, not knowing the contents of the foods you eat will sabotage your weight loss efforts.  Packaging of food products can be deceiving and don’t really convey the healthfulness of the product.  Manufacturers use packaging as a marketing tool for the sole purpose of sales.  They want you to believe in the healthfulness of their product so that you will purchase it, mission accomplished!  Regardless of whether the package states (example: 0 Trans Fats, Low fat, Reduced Sodium, Reduced Fat), it is your responsibility to yourself to find out exactly what the specific ingredients are.

Read food labels
Food labels turn knowledge into action.

Solution:  Read nutritional labels on the package

Food labels contain a wealth of information and at first glance, can look intimidating. You don’t need to be a nutritionist to make sense of it, you just need to be able to pick out the pertinent information.

Food Labels 101

First off, start with the list of ingredients.  If the list of ingredients looks more like a short story, then there’s a good chance the product is highly processed and contains high quantities of chemicals and preservatives.   You may want to choose a healthier alternative, one with a shorter ingredient list.  The ingredients are listed in order of quantity, the first ingredient being the highest.   It’s important to scan the list to see what the first few ingredients are because that’s what the bulk of the product is made of.  Common sense plays a big role here, if you don’t know what a particular ingredient is or you can’t pronounce it, then it is probably a chemical or additive.

Next look at the calories, grams of fat (specifically saturated fat), cholesterol, sodium, sugars;  these are the enemies, so, try and eat less of these.  Foods containing high amounts of these can be harmful to your overall health and can contribute to conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes.  Simply choose foods with a low % Daily Value of these nutrients.

Lastly, make sure the values for protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins are high.  These are beneficial to your health and well- being.  Protein is important for repairing and building muscle, however, protein from animal sources (lean meat, fish, poultry) also contains fat and cholesterol so eat smaller amounts of these.  Other sources high in protein are low-fat or skim milk, yogurt and cheese.  Vegetable proteins like beans, seeds, nuts, and whole grains are considered super foods because they are also high in dietary fiber and other minerals.

However, if all this is still too confusing or overwhelming, there is the NuVal™ Nutritional Scoring System that can take the guess-work out of making healthy food choices.

So there you go, food labels in a nut shell!  This basic information should be empowering and should help you make healthy food choices that will support your fitness efforts.