I have worked in the healthcare industry for twenty-five years and I remember in the early eighties when Diet Coke made its debut into the consumer grocery market. It was called the ‘healthy alternative’ to drinking soda (also the same company who came out with the soda Tab, which was the first diet soda on the market in the 60s. When soda first came out on the market, our government did not regulate or restrict the ingredients within them, such as cyclamate sweeteners. These were not banned until later when health risks arose that were directly related to these ingredients; such as diabetes, tooth decay, obesity and mental health issues due to the amount of caffeine in the products as well. Growing up we drank soda (or as we called it ‘soda-pop’) regularly. As a young mother with my first child I also kept soda in the home until I started working for the healthcare industry. Organically, I eventually discovered just how bad soda is for the human body, even the clear sodas such as Sprite and 7-Up. My common sense told me that diet soda was no better for the body. When I researched diet soda and discovered the ingredients in it I avoided diet drinks and did my best to warn family and friends from consuming it also. In addition to my research, I was also dealing with the countless patients that came into the various doctor’s offices I worked at who were obese or had acquired diabetes, heart disease and other health conditions due to their lifestyle and diet. Fast forward to today, 2017, soda is still largely consumed and the variety has increased. To all the soda drinkers, especially Diet Soda drinkers, let me simply use one word to describe the effect of drinking soda has to your overall health: BAD! BAD! BAD! That includes those mixed alcoholic drinks that include soda in them; contrary to what some believe (or simply choose to lie to themselves to feel better) the alcohol does not cancel out the ingredients in the soda.
Protein, carbohydrates and fat each provide calories to the human body. When we consume too many calories in a single day, and then multiply that, daily over an extended period, it can result in some serious health issues. In the 21st century, people in general have increased their awareness of healthy eating and living which includes avoiding certain foods and stocking other foods that will increase metabolism and fight fat. Additionally, more people today have also incorporated some sort of exercise into their lifestyle, even if they are not necessarily eating healthier, which really is only causing your body to work harder, not smarter and you really end up exerting energy but still experiencing frustration, moodiness and even some depression because all the sweating, cursing, blood and tears you shed in the gym (or home or wherever) isn’t producing the desired effect. If you’ve heard the saying “you are what you eat”, that is about as accurate as it gets. How much energy you have and how you feel overall begins in your digestive system. Your small intestine is the only organ in the body where all the body’s nutrients, vitamins and hormones are absorbed and sent to the rest of the body; what is unable to be used is disposed of through the large intestine (colon). Too many carbohydrates and calories is turned to fat that the body starts to store away in all the wonderful places we have the hardest time working off in the gym, which are the hips, thighs, belly, and buttocks. If you’re feeling a serious lack of energy, relying on energy drinks or high amounts of caffeine to get you through the day, experiencing mood swings and fatigue even if you’ve had eight hours of sleep, a decrease in your sex drive, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, depression or any other sudden or chronic problems, it is most likely directly related to what you’re eating and whether you have a healthy gut or not. Dr. Amy Lee, world famous Bariatric Physician located in Los Angeles tells all her patients “your digestive system can make you Energy or it can make you Fat, but not Both.”
There is a term that you may (or may not) have heard of called ‘Metabolic Override’. Those who are unfamiliar with this term let me explain it like this: it’s like our bodies has a ‘reset button’ that directly impacts the metabolism. When certain foods are consumed along with regular exercise the body’s ‘Metabolic Override’ forces the body’s metabolism to speed up and work harder where you’re burning more calories and fat even when your body is doing nothing such as sleeping. How awesome is that; to lose weight while we snooze away in dream land! And, of course, for your metabolism to work harder and smarter (a work ethic I strongly advocate for anything we do in life, and your body can do it also), you must also cut out certain foods from your daily eating as they are counter-productive and will only cause you to gain more weight, or quickly regain whatever weight and inches you have lost by speeding up your metabolism. These would be ALL processed foods which are high in calories and fat; far too much that any one individual should consume in one day, including the high amount of preservatives that most processed foods have that are completely unhealthy to the body. And, most processed foods have increased the amount of sugars they have by at least twenty times the amount of sugar the body intakes when eating freshly cooked meals. Granted, processed foods make life much simpler and can be quite tasty. But they are packed with so many preservatives which should be avoided as much as possible. Some processed and fast foods have so many preservatives in them that even insects won’t eat them. If you put a slice of ‘processed cheese food product’ (not ‘real cheese’) on the ground and watch the ants and other insects that scavenge for food and you see they pause at that slice of ‘fake cheese’ then turn away from it THAT IS A BIG RED FLAG FOR YOU TO NOT EAT IT EITHER!!
I, myself, used to have my pantry full of processed foods because being a single mother of two kids and working two to three jobs all the time while raising them, there was little time during the week and often-times on weekends and processed foods that took just a little bit of water or to throw in the oven or microwave saved me a lot of time and money. I was much younger then and while I knew about eating ‘clean’ with mostly chicken, fish, veggies and fruits and home-made cooking versus store bought and precooked or processed, I went for what was cheapest and quickest. It wasn’t until I reached my mid-thirties that I started to eat ‘smarter’ and allow my metabolism to work harder for me. Now granted, back then I was also a regular in the gym even if only for thirty minutes as it allowed me to destress (and I had a whole mountain of stress back then) and my ‘me time’ that I treasured. I owe a huge thank you to the 24-Hour Fitness gyms that were already popular back then as that allowed me to work out at any time because this momma had a craaaazzzy schedule! So, for those of you who are even now as you’re reading this doing a mental rundown of the items in your pantry and wincing at how much of the items held within are processed foods, hey…no judgement!! I’ve been there. However, if you truly want to change the look and shape of your body and an over ‘feel good’ mentally and physically, then you will have to eliminate those processed foods asap and start eating the vegetables and other foods listed below regularly as well as consuming at least a half-gallon of water daily (more if you’re sweating a lot or are working out regularly you will require a higher intake of water) and other healthy fluids. Avoid caffeine, high fructose corn syrup (they use this stuff in just about everything, even bread…seriously!) and foods where the ingredients list Multiple types of Sugars as that is only going to turn into fat as well. If you have the willpower and courage to do it, I strongly encourage not using sugar in your foods at all. Use natural sweeteners such as raw honey (and support your Local bee keepers that sell their honey in your local supermarkets) or Stevia (whole leaf or extract). In conjunction with eating these foods that will assist you in kicking out that belly fat and losing some inches, you must also keep ‘moving and grooving’ as I like to call it. It’s harder for fat to stick to you when your body is moving, using energy which in turn, burns fat. One of my personally favorite and easy ways to burn fat while at home is when I’m cleaning house. I turn up the toons, throw open the windows to let fresh air in and dust out, then I get down to burning some fat and calories by vigorously cleaning. Now, being that I am Latina, I was raised to clean and scrub floors WTIHOUT A MOP! Yes, you read that correctly…NO MOPS IN OUR HOME GROWING UP…LOL. I get on my hands and knees and get into the corner, clean off the base boards and other hard to reach areas that mops and the Swiffer can’t get to. I also move all the furniture when I vacuum and dust. By the time I’ve cleaned my entire place I have worked up a good sweat and am breathing like I just got off a machine at the gym. I also will park far away from whatever store I’m going to and walk up/down the stairs instead of taking the elevator (most of the time). At work, on my 10-15-minute breaks I will power walk. If wherever I’m working at has stairs I do a few ‘laps’ up/down the stairs. If you have a few people at work who are wanting to shed inches and pounds like you, invite them to join you on power walks during breaks or lunches. Lead them in taking stairs vs elevators. Sometimes we must get creative to maximize the small amount of time we have available to us if we’re working multiple jobs or have busy family life. The key is to BURN ENERGY EVERY DAY along with eating clean and healthy. It’s a team effort; one with not work the way you want without the other.
Now, let’s get to the nitty gritty of what you else you can do to flip that metabolism of yours into overdrive and shed those inches and pounds. LEPTIN is a hormone that controls the body’s metabolism. When Leptin levels are high in the body is speeds up the metabolism and when the levels are low, it slows down the metabolism when low levels are in the body. As women naturally have a LEPTIN RESISTANCE that results in the cottage cheese women get. What’s more frustrating is that when women go on a diet, the body’s leptin levels automatically drop causing that frustrating ‘plateau’ women tend to experience (even more than men do as the female body is Naturally resistant to Leptin) and then, what’s worse for many women is, not only do we gain that weight back but we end up gaining even more weight than we started, especially for women who have had children. It’s as of your body has suddenly turned traitor on you…on us (I’ve struggled with the same issues). As women, our body’s natural signal to ‘burn leptin’ gets shut off. Why? Because we women have the Blessed Powerful Gift of GIVING LIFE!! To both give life and then nurture that life, our bodies must store fat (which also is used for energy). It is part of a woman’s body’s natural genetic makeup. That means once you give birth and you’re gung-ho to hit the treadmill and start a new diet, your body automatically goes to work against you because its number one priority now is nurturing the life that is housed for nine months within it and then goes through excruciating pain to deliver that life into this world. A woman’s body is naturally wired to have double the amount of Leptin as men. Ladies, don’t you feel extra special now?
Generally, when wanting to lose weight we struggle with well…THEE weight loss. Duh! It starts in the mind. We must make the decision, your personal CHOICE, to not only start the process, but stick with it no matter how painful and difficult it is, no matter how tired you are, and not make excuses to yourself. Everything good and bad in your life, in any prolonged manner, starts with your mentality. Losing inches off your waistline, hips and thighs (or maybe you want to keep some of those sexy curves but just not SO MUCH curve…that’s alright also), increase your metabolism so that your body is working WITH YOU not against you as well as experiencing increased energy and sleeping well. They all tie into each other. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “A healthy mind is a health body”. Well it really is a true statement and a medical fact. When the mind is unhealthy, the body will start to follow and organically improve and feel better (to an extent, unless you have health problems as well, such as a Thyroid condition, in which case it at all depending on the condition/disease you may have, also).
As if all of that isn’t enough to blow your mind already, you should also know that our own personal DNA genetics have some people ‘blessed’ with a faster metabolism than others. Some people seem to naturally have a higher metabolism and seem to not have to watch what they eat or struggle with fluctuating weight and the never-ending battle of ‘weight loss’. It doesn’t seem fair, does it? But then you have many that are not even aware of the fact that those ‘generic diets’ do not work the same with our miraculous female bodies as it does to male bodies that includes how our bodies respond to those generic diets that seem to be a one size fits all…it’s a LIE. And on top of that, the weight loss, if any is obtained, seems to bounce back onto our body as quickly as seemed to bounce off, which tends to lead to frustration and depression and lowered self-esteem. Feeling happy with yourself and loving yourself should not be linked to a number on a scale of clothing tag for size.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, your digestive system is the main central system to provide overall health to your internal organs and body systems. If you don’t have a healthy gut, you will begin to experience health problems that are directly related to an unhealthy digestive system. It has been proven that changing your diet and improving your digestive health, over time, will eliminate and/or improve other conditions you have acquired, seemingly out of nowhere with unknown reasons.
To clean up your digestive system, boost your immune system, feel better inside and out, looking better from your hair, skin, nails, to the inches and pounds, you must change your daily diet. Eliminate those bad foods I discussed earlier and incorporate fresh vegetables and fruits, as well as lean meats such as fish and poultry. However, there are certain food items I strongly encourage you to add the following items below to your daily diet; they will really give your metabolism a boost every day.
Spinach (organic/fresh) – high in zinc, protein, vitamins A, C, E, B6, iron, fiber and several other healthy nutrients that your entire body needs
Broccoli – high in fiber, vitamin B1, B6, A, E, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Iron…basically all the same vitamins and nutrients that spinach provides to the body
Kale – works the same as spinach and broccoli
Bell peppers – high in vitamin A, C, E, B2, B6, fiber, niacin, magnesium
Red chili peppers (cayenne, etc)– speeds up metabolism, improves digestive and cardiovascular health as well as been known to help prevent cancer
Ginger root – contains acids that improve digestive health, is a natural anti-inflammatory, immunity and metabolism booster and prevents other digestive problems
Turmeric root – powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immunity and metabolism booster
Cinnamon – helps reduce blood sugar that turns to insulin and reduce carbohydrate absorption which turns to fat when too much is ingested daily
Mustard Seed – excellent metabolism booster by up to 25% for several hours after you’ve consumed it
Black pepper – boosts metabolism immediately after consumption, assists in digestion and absorption of various nutrients and vitamins for the body
Nuts, Seeds, Fish– has natural polyunsaturated fats and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Berries – high in antioxidants and fiber
Oatmeal – high in fiber, lowers the ‘bad’ cholesterol while maintaining healthy cholesterol and is proven to reduce high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes
Yams – high in vitamin B & C, fiber, potassium and boosts immune system
Avocados – monounsaturated fatty acids (the ‘good fats’), vitamins B & E, potassium, has appx 20 different vitamins and nutrients and helps promote a healthy heart
Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel, Sardines – high in omega fatty-d acids, vitamins B & D, protein, prevents heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure
Vinegar (1 shot daily) – disinfects your digestive system, killing inflammation and burns ‘visceral fat’, which is the fats that get stored in the abdominal area and organs within the abdominal cavity.
Lemon/Lime – has vitamin C, fiber, potassium, a natural immunity booster and helps to disinfect the digestive system reducing inflammation (note: lemon/lime in your water consumed throughout the day is strongly suggested)
Green Tea – (organic preferred) it’s loaded with antioxidants, amino acids to boost brain function, helps to kill bacteria and fight viruses, helps boost metabolism and burn fat as well as works simultaneously with other nutrients to provide overall improved health to the body.
To round out your overall health, you must also ensure you get 8 hours of sleep. Even with the healthiest of eating and exercises, if you’re not providing your body with sufficient rest, you will be working against your body rather than with it. Sleep allows the body’s natural healing, regeneration of cells and re-energizing abilities to remain at peak performance. I don’t know about you, but one of the very best feelings is awakening after a full 8 hours of sleep feeling refreshed and ready to get my grind on for the day. It is also strongly suggested that you allow yourself to take a nap during the day. Whether it’s only 30 minutes or a more luxurious hour or longer, napping in the middle of the day allows the body to reset itself, release tension and negative energy that may have been absorbed during the hours you were awake, working and/or going about your daily activities. People who incorporate ‘nap time’ into their daily schedules are overall healthier, less stressed, happier and have a more balanced life. I have come to cherish my nap times; ooooh the simple luxuries of life keep this writer happy and at peace.