Thursday, February 12, 2009

A word on weight loss

This is a valuable article that lays out some helpful tips for those looking to lose weight naturally. It's written by Dr. Marcus Laux who is a licensed naturopathic physician is the co-author of Natural Woman, Natural Menopause, and Top Ten Natural Therapies.

Step 1: Think Yourself Thin

* A healthy attitude and mindset are the first step in choosing to lose weight. Begin by discovering your reasons for eating. Weight gain has less to do with what you eat, and more to do with why you eat.
* Practice personal insight and honesty. Begin your day with 10–15 minutes of simple meditation or prayer in a quiet place. Focus on your inner feelings and desires. Let the things that are bothering you come to the surface and let them go. Find out if you're an Emotional Eater. Meditate or pray before your meal—it should rejuvenate you.
* Meditation allows you to connect calmly with your deepest thoughts and feelings. Then you should be able to eat with more conscious attention and appreciation and reduce your chances of overeating. Write down ideas, feelings, or revelations for further reflection.

Step 2: Eat Natural Fat-Burning Foods
* Learn to make proper food choices. You were not meant to be overweight. Even if you have a genetic tendency toward weight gain, you can and will be naturally trim if you give nature the opportunity to burn off the fat.
* Certain foods increase metabolism while others bog it down. Forget trend diets that focus what you need to cut out—junk foods, refined foods, and fried foods—and focus on what you need to add to your diet.
* Try a drink before you snack or sit down for a meal. Sometimes what feels like hunger pains are actually thirst pains. Water is your best bet, then fresh juices (the real stuff), iced tea, or herbal teas. * Enjoy red meat in moderation. It's high in L-carnitine—an amino acid that mimics the fat-burning effects of exercise.
* Eat fresh, whole, organic, nutrient-rich—preferably local and seasonal—foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, and fish. Sparingly eat carrots, potatoes, corn, and peas, because they have a high glycemic index rating.
* Eat as much as you want of cabbage, celery, mushrooms, zucchini, green onion, hot peppers, banana peppers, endive, radish, jicama, and all dark, leafy greens. Keep a bowl of your favorite washed, raw veggies in the refrigerator all the time. If you want to use a dipping sauce make it from yogurt or low-fat cream cheese, dill, and fresh squeezed lemon juice.
* Snack on vegetables and legumes that provide fiber, complex carbohydrates, and minerals needed for sustained energy and regularity—so you feel full longer. Fruits are good for you, but fruit sugar burns quickly and your 10 a.m. apple won't last you until lunchtime.
* Aim for 100–150 calorie snacks that consist of some protein, some fat, and some carbs—so enjoy a couple of cubes of good cheese with your veggie snacks, or a handful of almonds, macadamia nuts, or crackers with peanut or almond butter.
* Munch on the right kind of nuts to boost essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. A recent study found that individuals who ate 73 grams, or two small handfuls of almonds daily, did not show any signs of weight gain. Nuts are filling and satisfying.
* Replace bad fats with good fats. Decrease polyunsaturated fats and trans fatty acids like margarine, shortening, and partially hydrogenated oils. Use olive oil, coconut oil, or nut oils like macadamia or walnut.
* Use spices such as ginger, marjoram, rosemary, fennel, cardamom, dill, thyme, tarragon, coriander, and basil, because they're tongue-pleasers that will give your meal a flavor boost without adding calories or fat.
* Take a high-quality multivitamin and mineral that includes a complete B-complex. This will enhance your body's ability to digest, absorb, and eliminate foods.

Step 3: Nature's Appetite Suppressants and Fat Burners: Select natural and safe appetite suppressants and fat burners:

* Consider taking 5-HTP to boost serotonin levels. Serotonin deficiency is associated with feelings of starvation and hunger. Taking 5-HTP at low doses effectively suppresses cravings for refined carbohydrates. Always take it with protein (12–25 mg 30 minutes before each meal, and no more than 75 mg per day).
* Use conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) to burn fat and turn it into energy. Without CLA, your body will store fat. CLA can be found in whole milk, butter, whole cheeses, beef, and lamb. Supplemental CLA increases metabolic rate, decreases appetite, and enhances fat oxidation. It has been shown to reduce body fat by as much as 20 percent in 12 weeks without any changes in diet or lifestyle. Because CLA results in more muscle tissue, which weighs more than fat—watch your body fat percentage instead of your scale.
* Drink 2–3 cups of green tea. It contains polyphenol catechins that inhibit the breakdown of norepinephrine, and results in an increased metabolic rate and better fat oxidation so that existing fat cells are destroyed faster.
* Cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and other spices can curb your appetite by supporting healthy blood sugar levels. They help improve circulation and increase metabolic output. I recommend drinking teas made with them throughout the day. You can find them at most health food stores.

Step 4: Go Play!Take a break and get a little exercise.At minimum, exercise for 30 minutes every other morning. Then take a "recess break" each afternoon (a light stroll, a good stretch, etc.). I suggest:

* Aerobic exercise that gets your heart rate up for 15 to 40 minutes to boost your calorie-burning. It doesn't have to be overly strenuous.
* Weight training to build muscle and improve your resting metabolism so you'll burn more calories all day long. Ounce for ounce, muscle requires more energy so it burns more calories than fat.

The Last Word:
Hide your scale. Its information is not what's important. Instead focus on how you look, feel, and do what you want to do.

Be patient. Lasting weight loss takes some time. Make the time to incorporate these recommendations into your life, and you'll get satisfying and permanent results.

This article was adapted from a Special Report published in Naturally Well Today. To order the full report, please call 800.264.4871. If you'd like to know more about natural solutions for other conditions, subscribe to Naturally Well Today, my monthly newsletter on healing with nature's medicine.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

La Dolce Vita

I recently returned from yet another trip to Mexico...I know it must seem as though I live some luxoruos life that allows me to travel to Mexico twice in one month, but that is far from true. This time I went to attend my cousin's wedding. It was truly a family affair and I met relatives that I didn't even know existed! My parents, sisters and I stayed in my parent's future retirement home in a tiny community in southern Zacatecas. The colonial town is tucked away in the mountains where it remains as one of Mexico's best kept secrets. Driving through the town along the cobblestone streets you feel as though you've traveled back in time. Wherever we turned we were greeted with warm smiles and a generous hand offering up whatever little food/drink they had. As the priest said to the congregation, "en Mezquital hay una mina de Cristianos" (here resides a mine of Christians).
As a foodie, I was particularly impressed by the way in which the community is so tied to the land. With no supermarket or restuarant for miles, there is really no other way of life. Orange, banana and avocado trees litter the streets in Mezquital and even the large cactus plant bears a sweet and delicious fruit. The women rise early to milk thier cows and prepare the cheeses that the town is known for. The day before my cousin's wedding we stopped by her house to find it full of men, women and children plucking chicken feathers, grinding corn and roasting chiles in preparation of the feast. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE, contributes with whatever means possible. What an amazing site to see...I'm really looking forward to my next visit.

Your genes load the gun but your lifestyle pulls the trigger. -Dr. Houston