We already shared the Maria Menounos weight loss story with you. Now she wants you to know more. For Maria, author of The EveryGirl's Guide to Diet and Fitness, it's all about those little changes, the ones you barely notice that slip easily into your already crazy schedule. And she has easy, effective tricks to help you make those changes with your eye on the ultimate prize: overall health for the next 50-plus years. Arm yourself with the ammunition you need to exceed your weight loss goals with her help. Here are six rules EveryGirl should keep in mind:
Being Healthy Is More Important Than Being Thin
Let’s face it, the entire diet industry as well as the messages we get from Hollywood, the media, and pretty much our entire country revolve around weight and size. Lose more pounds. Fit into smaller clothes. Get thin! I understand how and why EveryGirl would be motivated to lose pounds and inches and reduce her dress size. I admit that I really enjoy being in shape. And considering the obesity epidemic that we’re in, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with trying to lose weight. The main thing I want to convey, though, is that thin cannot compete with healthy. Health is the most important thing in your life.
Hey, if you can be healthy and thin (and, of course, I am going to show you how to do that!), then more power to you, but risking everything to be thin is not worth it and makes no sense in the big picture. I know more than a few thin people who are unhealthy. They smoke cigarettes, starve themselves, live on gallons of diet soda and energy drinks, or use drugs or other such unhealthy means to stay thin. As a result, some of them will not live long lives, and those who do may not live quality lives. Many, if not most, are also unhappy. Keep health your goal and it will naturally result in being trim.
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
When I was forty pounds heavier and decided to lose the weight, I took a long-term, gradual approach. I didn’t have the willpower to go on an extreme diet and drop all the foods I loved. And with work, paying bills, my family and friends and my relationship with Kev, I certainly didn’t have the time to exercise two hours a day. It took a year or so, but I lost the forty pounds. Little did I know that slow and steady was not only the most realistic way to lose weight, but also the smartest. It’s the main reason I never gained the weight back.
But, again, it’s not just about keeping the weight off, it’s about being healthy for the duration of your life. The long-term approach is also the most logical one. Let’s face it—life in general is a marathon, not a sprint. Most of us are gonna be here for a long time—longer on average than any generation before us. Therefore, we need to address diet and fitness with that fact in mind. The good news is that marathons are run slowly. The changes you make in your lifestyle can be slow and gradual and still get you where you want to go!
Do Not Attempt a 180
Here’s a mistake I see EveryGirl make time and time again. We’re upset with the way our bodies look, and we swear it’s time to make a change. However, instead of making one change, we make a million changes. We do a complete 180-degree turnaround. In most cases, those changes are so enormous, drastic and overwhelming that we can’t possibly stick with them. Or we don’t see results fast enough and get discouraged. And even if we can maintain all those changes long enough to get in shape, sooner or later it all gets to be too much. We resume our old habits and we gain the weight back—and then some.
Why does the 180 approach generally fail? Because it’s incredibly hard to change everything about the way you eat and exercise overnight. We still have jobs, pressures, stresses, a social life and so many other factors that make it virtually impossible to overhaul everything. In my personal quest for a better body and health, I finally succeeded when I eased out of old habits and into new ones. Change—and I mean, sustainable change—takes time. Yes, I want you to make changes, but I want you to be realistic about what you can do, and I want to give you the best shot at overall success.
Eat Food That Comes from the Ground
Though I strayed from this rule in college, I mainly ate fresh fruits, whole grains and vegetables growing up. But I never knew just how important that was to health until I was introduced to Yogi Cameron. Through the experience with a rash and subsequent other medical issues, Cameron proved to me just how much the food we consume affects our overall health and well-being. When I asked Cameron for a list of the best foods to eat, his answer turned out to be the number one tip for dietary health. He smiled and said, “Just try your best to eat food that comes from the ground and you’ll be fine.”
When you opt for foods that come from the ground over processed ones, you will also avoid the energy fluctuations that cause so many of us to reach for the instant pick-me-up junk foods that inevitably lead to bigger crashes—and then leave you reaching for even more junk to give yourself a boost. Real foods will provide you with sustainable energy and contain the vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that your body needs to get and stay healthy, inside and out. They’re also a whole lot less fattening.
Drink [Hot] Water for Weight Loss
When it comes to dieting, there’s no magic solution. But there is such a thing as a secret weapon: water. Experts suggest that you drink eight to ten glasses a day. It hydrates, detoxes and cleanses your body; it’s good for your skin; and it fills you up and curbs your appetite. Often when we think we are hungry, we are actually just dehydrated. However, I take what the experts say and go one step further: I don’t just drink water. I drink hot water.
Drinking hot water is one of the things I suggest up front for weight loss. Yogi Cameron taught me that hot water can give you all the benefits of drinking water, but if you drink it after a meal, it helps with digestion. Think of it as melting the food in your stomach. It also has wonderful psychological and practical advantages. It’s warm and comforting, like coffee, but cleaner. Because you’re sipping it throughout the day, it helps your stomach stay satisfied. And, to speak even more practically, it gives your hands and mouth something to do—which is one of the reasons so many of us reach for bad foods, especially when we’re stressed or crazy.
ABM—Always Be Moving
A lot of people like to think exercise has to come in large, sweat-soaked doses; believe me, I feel more accomplished when I do those kinds of workouts, too. But small, cumulative activity throughout the day is one of the main ways you burn calories, keep your metabolism stoked, and keep weight off—not to mention raise your energy levels, be more productive and reduce stress.
If you can find ways to squeeze in activity here and there, that’s where the weight-loss battle is won. Yes, structured exercise can be important, too, but it’s more important simply to be moving. On a conference call, stand up and pace. Watching your toddlers at the park? Stop sitting on the bench and walk laps around the perimeter. Meeting your girlfriends for coffee three times a week? Suggest taking a hike or going for a walk in the park on one of those days instead. At the airport, never use the moving sidewalks. At malls, forget the escalators and take the stairs. At work, walk quickly to the water cooler, bathroom, conference room, or your coworker’s office. I look at it like every bit counts and every bit of extra work I put in throughout my day means I have to spend less time at the gym. I do realize that gyms are great and have tools specifically designed to properly tone you. But don’t overlook ABM, even if you do go to a gym consistently and get yourself in shape. ABM will help keep the weight off. You’ll also find yourself accomplishing a lot more in your day, and that’s positive and empowering.