We've heard it time and time again - make the energy we consume less than the energy we burn and presto! We're on to toning up. Well I'm here to tell you all and reaffirm others who say the same thing - it ain't that easy and it's way more complicated than that. But at the same time it's super easy if you listen to your body.
Here are my top 7 tips to getting trim and toned without that horrible calorie counting guide.
+ Eat nutrient dense wholefoods
This has got to be the biggest tip in weight loss and toning up (not to mention simply the healthiest way to live). Ditch the fad diets, the calorie counting, the portion sizes, and simply eat fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, sprouts, meats, eggs, seafood, and grains that are organic. As nature intended. Nothing added. Nothing tinned. Yep I'm talking bananas, broccoli, sweet potatoes, almonds, sunflower seeds, alfalfa, grass fed beef, free range chicken and eggs, wild salmon, quinoa, oats... All delicious, super nutritious, and feeding every cell in our bodies which is what most of us are deficient in - real food and real nutrition into our cells, not merely an isolated vitamin. Our bodies don't care about calories, they care about nutrition.
How: Visit your local growers markets this weekend and stock up!
+ Eat essential fats
They are called essential because they are. Omega 3, 6, 9. Our bodies need these are they cannot manufacture these themselves. These function in our bodies to keep our brain cells working, soften and moisturise our skin, reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels in the blood (therefore preventing against heart disease, stroke, diabetes and arthritis), lubricate our joints and tonnes more.
How: Eat salmon, mackeral, tuna. Munch on walnuts. Drizzle flaxseed oil on your salads or add to smoothies. Take fish oil daily.
+ Know your body (and the diet it thrives off)
This is where we need to do the work on our own; but the rewards are well worth it. Not everything can be handed to us on a silver platter now can it? By paying attention to how our bodies feel after we eat certain foods, we begin to see what works best, and what should be avoided. And this is different for everyone. If we are eating foods that do not agree with us, they are causing an inflammatory response inside our body. Pasteurised milk for example is a huge cause of childhood eczema, asthma, and teenage acne. Whether inflammation is noticeable (eczema, acne, rashes, swelling) or not is not the problem, as most inflammation is not easily detectable until it has become a much bigger problem. Cancer, asthma, heart disease, arthritis - these are all inflammatory conditions. When we eat foods that do not cause inflammation in our bodies, then we are preventing these conditions from occurring. Like I said, this is different for everyone. One man's food is another man's poison.
How: Begin by keeping a food journal writing down everything you eat for a week or two, as well as how you feel after the meal. Tired? Heavy? Light? Energetic? And then any symptoms you may notice - bloating, cramps, constipation/diarrhoea, sneezing, etc. Look back and see if you notice any patterns.
+ Exercise (cardio and toning)
It goes without saying that exercise is necessary in a balanced lifestyle, but it's crazy important if you're tryna tone up! Exercise helps shed stubborn fat stores, shedding excess kilos, and also stimulates the lymphatic system to get rid of any toxins lingering around. Sweating does this too. Those feel good hormones called endorphins are also released during a workout, cleverly making you want to continue everyday.
Cardio work increases your heart rate keeping it ticking along for many years to come and it burns fat - but overdoing this long term can undo your good work, and ramp up your cortisol, leading to storing belly fat (speak to a nutritionist or personal trainer if this may apply to you).
Strength work is what builds and tones our muscles and our strength. More muscle also means more fuel burned on standing so girls, muscle is not the evil gremlin we want to avoid. "Bulking up" as we see men do is in fact quite tricky for females to do by just lifting weights. It takes a lot to build bulk as a female, so honestly, we've got nothing to worry about.
How: First thing in the morning, walk briskly or jog on an empty stomach for 30-45 minutes. This will force your body to burn fat instead of carbs (the preferred fuel source) as you haven't eaten yet. If this doesn't fit into your daily schedule, any exercise is better then none. Do what works for you. And what makes you smile :) Not a fan of jogging? Try dancing, swimming, karate, rock climbing, surfing, canoeing, ice skating...
Dehydration decreases memory, digestion, body temperature and blood pressure... the list goes on. It can also decrease our metabolism. For our hormones to work properly and to repair muscle tissue, our bodies need water. When we sleep, our body is recovering and our metabolism is recharging for the next day.
A lack of water is the number one trigger for fatigue in the daytime (when we are then more susceptible to skipping that gym sesh, and/or reaching for that choccie bar), and thirst is also often mistaken for hunger, which leads to overeating, and potential weight gain, making dehydration a double whammy against you toning things up.
How: Filtered or spring water is best. Add mint leaves and strawberry slices to jazz it up. Fresh lemon or lime segments. Or try some chlorophyll.
+ Have regular bowel movements
A favourite topic of mine that most people pretend to not hear - poo talk. I'll keep this one short and sweet. We should all be having 1-3 full bowel movements each day. And by full, you'll know if it feels like you've only half gone. Any less than this could be constipation, or you're not eating properly (or you're fasting). Any more than this, and there's a possibility that you're not digesting your foods correctly as they are clearly running outta your system before they get the chance! Poo says stacks about our internal health and if our poo health is not cool, then we're not cool. Poor colon health, cramping, bloating, pain, farting more than usual, irregular bowel motions, horrid smells, undigested food particles, clay coloured poo, black poo... these are all signs of poor colon health. If we are not visiting the throne at least once a day, there's a good chance that a back-log is happening, and amongst everything else, we are literally and physically holding onto sh*t, which adds to the kilos on the scales, the centrimetres around our (bloated) tummy, and the baggage we end up carrying emotionally.
How: Eat fibre from fresh fruits and vegetables every-single-day. Drink 2-3L of filtered water every-single-day. Look at what emotional crap you may be holding onto. Stop worrying over nothing. Resolve any unresolved issues with your mother (these are all related issues in and around the solar plexus and sacral chakra's). And if you still need help, visit your nutritionist or local health store for individual based care on fibre supplements and herbal remedies.
Green vegetables, good foods, fresh air, filtered water, stress relief, meditation. These are all things that help to alkalise our body. So the stuff that is making us acidic? White bread, white pasta, white sugar, processed foods, inhumane meat products, pasteurised milk, stress, anxiety, tension, dehydration, too much exercise, anger. All of which lead to inflammation, mood disorders, mental issues, asthma, and of course weight gain. Or at least, a severe lack of toning up, feeling fab and looking good. Enough said.
How: Eat fresh fruit and vegetables every meal. Add chlorophyll to your water daily. Enjoy green juices when you can.Avoid stress. Meditate. Rest and relax. Read uplifting books. Don't watch the news. Laugh.
So there you go. What do yu think? If you've got any others you think I've missed by all means share in the comments below.
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