Posts Tagged ‘diet secrets’
Water, Water Everywhere

Here we are for the next installment of weight-loss “secrets”, and this time I’m going to devote an entire post to mother nature’s candy. Folks, I’m talking about water.
I never used to drink enough water, probably because I went to a Catholic grammar school and our bathroom breaks were severely monitored. There was a complicated sign-out process, and often our class would forget our sign-out sheet, so no one would be allowed to use the bathroom until we returned to our home-room. It’s a wonder we didn’t all end up with bladder infections. I almost never drank water, but I sure did get my fill of all things liquid from diet coke and beer. This was a big mistake and something that I set out to change in August, on the advice of a friend.

If you are serious about losing weight, chances are that you already know you should be drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day. Well, I take it further than that. Most days I drink 4 liters of water; that’s 16 glasses. I know that right now you’re thinking about some news story on the dangers of overhydration, or that woman who died in a radio station promotion holding “her pee for a wii”. What happens in those situations is that some idiot drinks so much water so fast without peeing that they dilute the electrolytes in their body. I’ve got faith in my readers to use your heads here, but here is a disclaimer: don’t try to drink all 16 glasses in one sitting or in some kind of chugging contest. Also, don’t be an idiot.

There are a few reasons why I drink so much water.

The first reason is that water is very important for your kidneys. Keeping constantly hydrated takes the stress off of your kidneys, which creates an anotomical chain of events that makes your liver function better. Your liver is the most important organ in your body when it comes to metabolizing fat. So, if you are looking to break down fat into energy, you’d better be drinking your H20.

Another reason why I drink so much water is because it is great for flushing out your body. Your fat cells store toxins, so as you break them down, detoxing becomes very important.Toxins have a nasty habit of hiding out in your fat cells, and when those cells break down, those toxins are released into your body. You need to flush them out.

Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger. So, we end up eating when our body isn’t really hungry, it just needs water by any means necessary.

Water is great for your skin. I have fewer breakouts and generally a radiant glow. Also, keeping your skin hydrated is very important for its elasticity (it’s ability to spring back into place). One of the biggest hurdles to major weight loss is excess skin, so you can see where I’m going here.

Did you know that drinking water actually helps combat water-retention? It’s true. When I know I’m carrying some extra water weight, I’ll drink an extra couple of glasses to jump start my body’s flushing it out. Also, when you are bellying up to the bar, you want to drink a glass of water for every alcoholic drink. Not only will it keep you from drinking more than you intended, but it will also help with the hangover the next morning.

So there you have it. H2O, that means 2 molecules of hydrogen and one of oxygen. It’s tasteless, odorless, and readily available. Maybe if American schools weren’t trying to make up budget deficits by hosting coke and Snapple machines  more people would know about it.

Pike! Pike! (If I did it Part II)

Read the name of this post aloud. Now, read it again with a Russian accent. Now, pretend that you are barking a command to a platoon of new recruits to the Soviet army.

Good, now you sound like my gymnastics coach, Yefim. Yefim is an ex-Olympian and I am lucky enough to train with him once a week at the Los Angeles School of Gymnastics, where I have been going since the fall. I am on the road to winning “most improved”, but that’s partially because my second class I cut my foot open on a springboard and needed stitches. It’s all uphill from there, really.

The second installment of my weight loss series is not about gymnastics specifically. All that I’m saying is that, if you want to be truely healthy, you need to find some kind of physical activity that feels good, ignites your passion, and makes you sweat. Most of us spend our days sitting at a computer. In fact, if we are not sitting at our desks, there is a general perception that we are slacking off or not doing our jobs. Maybe this sedentary lifestyle is one of the reasons why America has an obesity epidemic on its hands.

Maybe you decide to take a dance class, or perhaps you and your friends decide to put together a basketball game. Maybe your thing is roller skating or fencing or Parkour. Maybe you ride a bike. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do it a couple of times a week. Me, I go to gymnastics once or twice a week and spend the rest of my week lifting weights, doing yoga, or doing cardio specifically to make myself a better gymnast. Working out is not only going to burn calories, it’s also going to increase your resting metabolic rate and improve your heart and lung function. It’s going to help you sleep better and need less sleep every night. It’s good for treating depression and reducing stress. So, make a point to get outside a few times a week, even if you start by walking. Personally, I started by walking in the mornings before work. That was August, and now it’s February and I’ve got a verifiable gun show going on.

Editor’s note: Disclaimer: I did not go to gymnastics class this week because of work, but I will be making every attempt to go twice next week. 

If I Did It: A Tribute to OJ

You’ve got to hand it to the guy, he found an interesting loophole and managed to write a book so he could make back some of the money he had to pay when he lost his civil suit. Overall I think that’s a win.

So here is the elephant in the room. Over the past couple of months, I’ve lost a lot of weight. People are constantly asking me how I did it and what my secrets are. I’m going to be doing a series of posts for those of you who want to know how I did it (if I did it). If you’re not interested, don’t disappear for the next week or so, because I’ll still be doing my regular updates too.

So, let me set the record straight once and for all. My secret is that there are no secrets. Maintaining or changing your weight comes down to one thing: math. Calories go in through food and calories are expended in daily activities, as part of your basal metabolic rate, and through exercise. I will say that not all calories are created equal. My body responds worse to beer than it does to wine, worse to pasta than it does to fruit. If I go out for pizza and a beer, I basically know that I’m going to be carrying around an extra pound or two for a few days. However, over the long term, it really does come down to the math.

Now that I’ve told you there are no secrets, let me try to be at least a little helpful.

Know Your BMR
You may think that it’s simple to find your Basal Metabolic Rate (the number of calories that your body burns just by sustaining life functions). You just go to any website, type in your age and weight, and pick an activity level. Wrong! I swear by the Katch-McArdle formula for calculating your metabolic rate. It’s based off of lean body mass, that is, the amount of muscle on your body. Muscle burns more calories than fat, and if you are like I used to be, you have a lot more fat than muscle. So, those internet calculators are going to be off, sometimes by a couple hundred calories a day. Go get a scale to measure your approximate body fat percentage and then go to this website to figure out how many calories you actually need. There is also an activity multiplier at the bottom if you want to figure out your Total Daily Energy Expenditure
Weight Loss Equations

Get a Scale You Trust
I am the worst culprit of this. As my weight climbed, every doctor’s scale was “wrong”. I was working with an analog scale from Ikea, and I had to turn a dial to calibrate it. This left a lot of wiggle room. A friend suggested that I invest some money in a more serious scale, and I did. Now, I use a digital scale that I picked up at Bed Bath and Beyond. It uses electrical impedance to measure my body fat and the percentage of my body that is water. These electrical impedance scales are not the best way to measure your body fat. The best way is to go to a metabolic testing center, but I’m cheap, so I use this scale to get an approximation. More importantly, these scales are very good at keeping track of changes in your body fat percentage. When it tells me that I’ve gone from 32% to 28%, I know that I must be doing something right.

Take That Scale and Weigh Yourself Often
I do not believe those weight-loss magazines or articles that tell you to only weigh yourself every week. Sure, there are natural fluctuations in your weight during the week, and you should not stress out about every ounce here and there. However, having constant feedback on losing weight helps motivate me to keep up the good work.

I’ll post more in my next installment.