6 Strategies to Guarantee Weight Loss – Part 2

The battle of the bulge is a never-ending struggle for most of us. Don’t let your weight get the best of you. It is never to late to change some habits and even small changes can make a huge difference. Think of how much energy you will have, the activities you will be able to enjoy, the clothes you will be able to wear with confidence. Sounds good, doesn’t it? So let’s get started with three more strategies that I guarantee will help you lose those unwanted pounds.

Tip #4: Drink more water
This cannot be emphasized enough. Dehydration is a cause of headaches, fatigue, dizziness and other symptoms. We often mistake hunger for thirst. So I drink a glass of water with a bit of lemon or lime juice which helps balance my PH especially at meals. The amount of water we need to consume on a daily basis varies but I think it’s safe to say most of us don’t drink nearly enough. An easy-to-remember rule of thumb is to drink at least 8 8 oz glasses of water daily, preferably filtered. Not only will drinking water keep you full, it will flush out those toxins and keep everything flowing nicely.

Tip #5: Eat only when you’re hungry

Now this may seem obvious to some, but if you’re overweight, you probably don’t wait for hunger pains to eat. I know sometimes I don’t. An upsetting phone call, an unresolved decision, an emotional dilemma can all make me want to head for the fridge. This is what we call “emotional eating”. It is not real hunger. Somewhere along the line we have learned to use food to comfort us during times of stress. The key is to distinguish between the two. I am working on becoming more conscious of my physical state when I want to reach for food. I ask myself “Are you really hungry right now?” As a working mom, I have had to eat “on schedule” for many years. The clock determined when I ate, not my belly. A better way is to pay more attention to what I am feeling. Is my stomach growling? Is my thinking fuzzy? Do I feel cranky? All of these are good indicators of true hunger. If I still am not quite sure, I drink a large glass of water first and then see if I still want to eat.

Tip #6: Sit down to eat

Today’s fast-paced lifestyle has many of us eating on the run, in the car, at the desk, at a fast-food joint. I know sometimes it can’t be helped but eating on the run prevents us from focusing on what and how much we are eating. We don’t enjoy the meal. When we slow down and focus on the taste, texture, and color of our meal, we are being mindful. This allows our brains and our bellies to recalibrate and deliver the message “I am full.” We reduce the risk of overeating because we are more present and in control of our intake. As a single parent, I always made dinner-time a priority; it was important to prepare healthy meals and teach my sons good eating habits, but also to reconnect after everyone’s long day.

I have used these 6 strategies with success over the years to lose about 35 pounds and maintain a healthy weight so I know they work and they are simple to do. The battle of the bulge is not unbeatable. You can be slim and trim, have more energy, and feel great about yourself. Start today with a few of these tips. What weight loss tips can you share with us? Leave a comment below or post on Facebook.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

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6 Simple Strategies to Guarantee Weight Loss – Part 1

Fighting the battle of the bulge? Did you know more than one third of U.S. adults are obese? Our fast-paced gotta-get-more-done-now lifestyle has led to a deprioritization of mealtimes. We eat on the run, grab a coffee for breakfast, snack on a donut at break, and then take the kids to a fast-food joint for dinner because of jam-packed schedules.

As we age, excess weight can keep us from doing things we love. It also affects the pocketbook. Did you know medical expenses for obese people are $1429 more per year than for a normal weight person? As a gal who has lost a total of 35 pounds over my lifetime, and kept it off, this week I am sharing six simple tips I use to help maintain a healthy weight. But first, here’s what prompted me to write this post.

Last weekend, I was out with a new girlfriend who is about my age, perhaps a few years younger. If I had to guess, she’s probably about thirty pounds or more overweight which puts her into the obese category. I parked the car in the garage and we headed to the main entrance for a night of salsa dancing. As we’re walking, she says “Dinner time,” and pulls something wrapped in foil out of her purse and begins to chow down. I made a mental note that this behavior is conducive to weight gain but didn’t say a word. Yeah, Ariel!

So here we go with my six tips to help you lose that unhealthy baggage, have more energy, and feel better about yourself.

Tip #1: Eat smaller portions

Everything these days seems to be super-sized, from burgers to televisions. Unless we want our bodies to be super-sized we need to go against the tide and realize bigger is not always better, particularly when it comes to portion sizes. A serving of meat, fish, or chicken should be about the size of our palm, which is about 4 ounces. We want to feel full but not stuffed when we finish our meal.

Tip #2: Be more active

Physical activity is even more important as we age. Have done with the excuse about not liking to exercise. There are so many ways to exercise and have fun. One of the easiest and cheapest forms is to take a walk. Put on a pair of supportive shoes and head outside. A brisk 1 – 2 mile walk everyday will do wonders for you. At lunch time, get away from the desk, clear your head, and get some fresh air. If you want more, pick up the pace to a jog. If your joints can take it, jogging is a great cardiovascular exercise that gets the happy hormones, known as endorphins, circulating. You will burn more calories, stoke your metabolism, and strengthen your heart. Do something to get moving every day. Your heart will thank you, too!

Tip #3: Cut back on fats and sugars.

As an ex-aerobics instructor, I learned about nutrition, diet, and calories. Did you know a gram of fat has more than double the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrate? Quick nutrition lesson here. Fats are found mostly in animal products such as meat, dairy, and cheese. They also are in oils, nuts, and seeds. To limit fats, avoid fried foods, fast-food, ice cream, pre-made packaged or frozen products, and creamy salad dressings and sauces such as alfredo. Check the labels and notice the number of fat grams per serving. If you’re not used to doing this, you will be in for a rude awakening. Some fats are good for you, though, so don’t eliminate them entirely. The brain is made up of 60% fat, so it needs it to stay healthy. Olive oil, coconut oil, sardines, salmon, all contain heart-healthy oils but use them sparingly. Now let’s talk about sugar.

Sugar wears many disguises so it is important to be aware of where these simple carbohydrates lurk. I overheard a woman at the pool the other day comparing lettuce and watermelon. She, too, is overweight. She was talking about how much she loves watermelon. True, lettuce and watermelon are both mostly water, however, watermelon is very high in sugar, rating 72 out of 100 on the glycemic index. So if you’re downing it in large quantities, remember the body still needs to produce insulin to digest fruit sugars the same as the sugar in cakes and cookies. Some other sources of sugar you might not be aware of are alcohol, dried fruit, dates, and some energy drinks.

Which one of these tips will you apply this week? Write and let me know how it goes for you. Stay tuned for part two of my six simple weight-loss tips next week.

Until then, keep looking up!

Ariel

Believe in What You See – How to Spot the Red Flags

Single? Lonely? Looking for Mr. Wonderful? Holding on to Mr. Right Now? Too many times when we meet someone we see them through rose-colored glasses, and ignore the red flags. Why? Because we are lonely, bored, tired of waiting, and isolated. Or we are in a relationship, and we know in our head this person is not right for us, but we stay in it anyway, because we are emotionally involved.

Recently, I spoke with two single gals who are in a predicament, shall we say. They are stuck in unhealthy relationships hoping things will change. The years are going by and nothing has changed and both these gals are making excuses to stay. Now I totally understand because I’ve done this very thing and listening to their stories reminded me of how difficult it is to extricate oneself from emotional ties.

Today’s post is dedicated to helping you:
a) spot the red flags early on so
b) you don’t get emotionally entangled with the wrong guy.

Several years ago, I met a guy online on a supposedly Christian dating site. When I read this guy’s profile, my heart was aflutter. He sounded like my perfect match – on paper that is. All the externals I was looking for seemed to be in place – good job, owned his own home, attends church, willing to learn how to dance etc etc. Well. After two years of a conflicted spirit, late night “disagreements” and much heartache, the light bulb finally went on and I put all the pieces together. The guy was lying to me about who he really was. The signs of jealousy, immaturity, and insecurity had been there all along, I simply chose to minimize them. I made excuses and rationalized his behavior. All because I was approaching a milestone birthday and I had set my mind of being engaged by that time.

Lesson #1: my timetable is not always God’s timetable.

Lesson #2: Listen to my spirit.

Anyway, fast forward several years. I was still single so decided to give online dating another try. Another guy contacts me wanting to get together for dinner.

“Here we go again. They think wining and dining me is going to do the trick.” This time I was determined to keep my eyes open and my heart protected.

Don’t ask me what I was thinking. The guy had posted photos of his red Porsche, his motorcycle, his flowers, and his dog. Nothing against any of these, but I kind of felt like there were conflicting messages being sent. Now I always give people the benefit of the doubt, so I went out with the guy. The Porsche and the motorcycle were signs that screamed one word – FAST! He wanted to move quickly in more ways than one. By the grace of God, it only took me 3 dates to figure out the truth and am so glad I did not let myself get emotionally or physically involved with the guy. I chalk the whole experience up to a re-test and I think I passed with at least a “B”. Maybe a B+.

Bottom line of these stories is this. When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. Don’t allow the wining and dining, the flowers, the jewelry or the romance to blind you or override your good sense. If you’re not sure what to do, get counseling or talk to some wise friends who are courageous enough to give you an objective perspective. If we want to avoid unnecessary hurt and pain and stay out of wrong relationships, it would do us well to face the reality of who people are before getting physically and emotionally connected to them. Take your time evaluating the person. Three dates seems like a reasonable amount of time.

If any of my story resonates with you or if you have helpful tips you’d like to share, please leave a comment below or on Facebook. Love to hear back from you.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

When in Doubt – Pause

Decisions, decisions. Every day we are faced with hundreds of decisions. Some are as simple as what to have for breakfast and others as complex as whether to stay or leave a relationship. Some people are good at making decisions quickly. Like the pro football coaches who have to make quick decisions about the next play. They have limited information and are under a lot of pressure, but yet they are responsible for making calls that could make or break the game. I have to admit, I would never make a good football coach. On the other hand, making decisions too quickly can be just as bad or worse than taking too much time. Sometimes I’m guilty of that, too. As a single mom of two boys, I’ve had a lot of decisions to make. The problem it seems is when to wait and when to act. I flounder in a sea of doubt. Perhaps you, too, struggle with this.

The decisions we make determine the path of our lives and so it can be somewhat stressful when one is unsure of how to proceed. Here’s a situation that happened to me this week I found post-worthy. I’m sharing it for those who, like me, have a bit of difficulty knowing when to pause.

It was Wednesday. A decision about whether to contact a certain party had been looming over me like a dark grey cloud on a summer day.

“Should I call them or should I wait to hear from them?”

The sun was beaming through my window, and I sat silently cross-legged, meditating on a verse from Psalm 46 which says “Cease striving”. Another version says “Be still and know that I am God.”

Which is it, Lord?

When I thought about it, the two translations were similar. When I cease striving, I let go. I give it to God. I am still. I paused and pondered the decision hanging over me in light of this verse. Then the phone rang.

I usually don’t interrupt my quiet time to answer the phone, but I felt the need to do so on this day. “Unknown” read the caller id.

“It’s probably another one of those telemarketers calling,” as I’d been receiving a slew of calls lately. But something, or someone, told me to answer the call so I did. It was the person I had been debating about calling. I lifted up a silent prayer when I realized who it was. Now you can call it coincidence if you want but I don’t believe anything happens by chance. God is in everything.

Waiting is tough for most of us humans, I’d say. We like things to happen on our time-table. We want it NOW. Many times we take things into our own hands and make it happen. The discipline of pausing seems to have been lost in the hustle and bustle of today’s fast-paced culture. Patience is a learned skill which we only acquire by waiting. The answers don’t always come immediately as in this case. Sometimes weeks, months, or even years go by. Yet, we must learn to pause.

When we learn to pause, we give ourselves time to reflect. We give God a chance to work,to intervene, to assist. As a single mom, I have always done things myself because I felt I had to. I am learning that I don’t have to take care of every thing myself. God is there. He can make things happen I can’t. But I have to give him a chance.

So what decision are you facing today? Is there doubt in your mind about it? If so, take some time to pause. Give it to God and wait for an answer. It may be a phone call, a knock on the door, or simply that still small voice inside that speaks to each of us when we quiet ourselves enough to listen.

Please let me know your thoughts on this post. If you liked it, pass it on to a friend, leave a comment below or on Facebook. We all struggle with decisions from time to time, so I hope this post has been helpful to you.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

The Dangerous Pull of Strong Emotions

Emotions are powerful. Think of how you feel when someone cuts you off in traffic, you watch a baby being born, or your favorite team wins the game. These emotions can be very strong at times, almost overwhelming. Emotions can be our friends or our enemies. They can motivate us to climb mountains and they can drag us into the pit of despair. Emotions can motivate us to pursue relationships or leave them. What I want to talk about today is how important it is to learn to pause and reflect before acting out of emotion so we can make conscious choices.

I’ve read that when we get emotional, a different part of our brain (the right hemisphere known as the limbic system) takes over and the more logical left hemisphere stops working. Logic and emotion are two opposing forces. We’ve all heard the old adage about the head and the heart, right? Which of these do we allow to influence us in our decision-making?

A recent example of out-of-control emotions is the Baltimore riots. People expressed their long-pent-up frustrations and anger in violent and destructive ways. Emotions are contagious, especially negative emotions such as anger and hostility. Another factor is how deeply we experience our emotions.

Some people feel their emotions more strongly than others. I know, because I am one of them. I feel deeply which can be both a good and a bad thing. I have learned, however, that my emotions are something I have control over. I don’t have to allow – say allow – them to control my actions. I can take a step back and think. I had a situation recently where I had the opportunity to practice what I’m preaching here.

As you may know, I am a single lady looking for my soul mate. I recently went on a few dates with a new guy we’ll call C. We met online and corresponded a few times, then talked on the phone. I decided to give him a chance. Well, he kept trying to kiss me telling me how attracted he was to me, ya da ya da ya da. Now I appreciate the attention, but as they say, flattery will get you nowhere. So I explained to him gently that I prefer to get to know someone better before I go the physical route. I know how physical men are and that’s fine, but women are like ovens. They take a while longer to heat up. Anyway, the point of the story was, being the analytical ex-IT person I am, I was evaluating the different aspects of this person. I have to admit I was tempted to kiss the guy, but I held back. Kissing can form an intimate connection when someone feels as deeply as I do so I don’t jump into it lightly these days. After three dates, I became aware of several aspects of this gentleman that I did not think would make for a long-term match and ended the relationship. Point being, I did not allow my emotions to override my logical thinking and was able to make a conscious choice regarding whether to pursue a relationship with this person.

When we allow our strong feelings to control us, we often make decisions and choices we later regret. Emotions can cloud our judgment and cause us to make poor decisions. This applies to business situations as well as personal relationships. Our emotions can control us or we can learn to control them. The key is to recognize what is going on and stop the train before it derails. Sometimes emotions can rise up in us that have nothing to do with the situation at hand. Have you ever exploded at your kids when you got home from a frustrating day at the office? There you go.

Emotional intelligence is understanding both the source and the impact of our emotions.

1. Ask myself “What am I feeling?”
2. What is causing me to feel this way?
3. Is this what I really want to do?

The next time you feel overcome with strong emotion, take a step back. Ask yourself the above questions before taking action. What do you think of the thoughts presented here today? Love to hear your feedback so please leave a comment below, on Facebook, or Twitter @ArielPaz08.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel