Expert tips to trim down and get in shape the safe way.
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Bernie Salazar, who you might know as The Biggest Loser season five at-home winner and fan favorite, knows firsthand how to lose weight safely. He follows two rules to stay on track and maintain his weight loss. First, snack the smart way.
"You don’t have to give up snacking, just choose healthy foods that help you feel more satisfied," he says. "For example, for 100 calories, enjoy six whole cups of Orville Redenbacher’s SmartPop!" That’s like eating just 14 almonds.
Also; if you have a bit of a sweet tooth and crave sugar, eat fruit, Salazar adds.
Stop Working Out, Start Playing
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Salazar's second rule to stay motivated to lose weight is to have fun with your workouts.
"A very small percentage of individuals absolutely love to ‘work out,’ but everyone enjoys playing and having fun," Salazar says. "By identifying physical activities that you love to do, you will be more likely to enjoy the time you spend being active and be more consistent with integrating it into your daily life."
For instance, if you love to boogie, take a dance class.
Say Goodbye to Soda
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Nicole Palacios, personal trainer and fitness pro in Vancouver, Canada, cautions against soda. "If you are drinking sugary pop every day, you are taking in between 120 to 160 extra calories every day. Say you drink two cans per day; that is an extra 300 or so calories. If you take out those two drinks and replace them with water, you will lose 10 pounds in about 16 weeks without really doing anything drastic," she says.
So Long, Sugary Dessert
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By the same token, you should also limit your intake of sugary sweets. Palacios suggests you wean yourself off.
"Each day, try to have less until you cut yourself off completely," she says. "Sugar contains 4 calories per gram, and many processed food items contain more than 10 grams of sugar per serving; that’s at least 40 calories from sugar in one serving."
And try to make a habit of checking labels. Some juices have more than 28 grams of sugar per cup. Yikes!
Limit Late-Night Snacking
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"When you sit down after dinner and watch TV or relax, find a way to keep yourself occupied so you don’t reach for the high-fat, comfort snacks," Palacios says. "Most snack foods are high in calories and/or fat and have nowhere to go except straight to storage."
Sorry to nighttime ice cream cups and bags of chips post dinner. "Cutting out those unnecessary snacks late at night can save you up to 500 calories per day, which adds up to a pound per week," Palacios says.
Burn, Baby, Burn
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Try to burn 200 calories per day, Palacios says. She suggests walking, jogging, swimming, or other cardio exercise.
"That’s only about 20 minutes per day of moderate exercise. Add to that a 300-calorie deficit in what you’re eating, and over a period of a week you should be down a pound," she adds. "After 10 weeks, you should be down 10 pounds healthfully."
Fitness Comes First
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Bob Greene, founder of TheBestLife.com, also suggests that you focus on fitness first. "If you start by increasing your activity, you won't have to cut as many calories to begin shedding pounds," he says. "Aim to get between 30 and 45 minutes a day of brisk aerobic exercise and three days of strength training."
Change It Up
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Change one variable at a time to keep you motivated, Greene says. "Change only one part of your cardio workout—duration, intensity, type of exercise, or frequency—at a time," he says.
Don't Overdo It
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"It can be tempting to push yourself to your physical limit, but all-out can lead to burnout," Greene says. "A measured approach to exercise will also help you avoid injury and keep you motivated over time."
Don't Go Too Low
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Greene also points out that you shouldn’t underdo it—when it comes to your diet.
"When trying to lose weight, resist the urge to slash calories below 1,500 per day. That might seem like a lot when you're trying to slim down, but most everyone loses weight at this calorie level," he says. "Besides, restrictive diets put you at risk for feelings of deprivation and diminished energy."
Greene says that the secret to weight loss is cutting just enough calories to shed weight without triggering nagging hunger. "And a bit of extra energy will pay off when you head to the gym or try to resist the office candy jar," he adds.
Look from Within
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Do a little soul-searching, Greene says. "Think about why you've strayed from a healthy lifestyle in the past. You may have to dig deep, as the reasons you have trouble sticking to your commitment to eat healthier and be more active may not be immediately clear," he says. "But pinpointing these reasons is the first step to getting on the path to a healthier you."