There You Go Again: A New Year, A New Weight Loss Goal

burn all the fat meme

There is something magically delicious about the new year that makes people want to change their bad habits and drop fat once and for all with the mindset that “this time it’s different; this time I will succeed.”  (Not) sadly, I am here to bust your bubble.  You see, setting lofty goals without really having a plan or without synchronizing your goals with your mental mindset is a formula for failure.  *bubble busted*

And when we set goals or resolutions beginning the 1st of Jan, it may be due to pressure from celebrities, friends, co-workers, family, or that super annoying infomercial for an at-home workout video that flaunted ridiculously hott models in your face for 30 minutes straight while you nursed a Haagen-Dazs cookie dough ice cream pint at midnight on a Friday night.  mmhmmm.

And during new year season, the pressure to look your best is fierce!  We think, “everyone else has a weight loss goal…let me jump on the bandwagon too since I can stand to drop a few (dozen) pounds.”

From my personal experience, peer pressure to perform never lasts and gets old fast. You end up right where you began in this never-ending cycle to get fit.   Since you want to meet your health goals not just for 2014, but more importantly, for the rest of your precious life, then the best time to start your weight loss efforts is when you are ready both mentally AND physically.  

With that said, I have for you 7 tips that will help you you achieve your weight loss goals.  For optimal success, tackle one tip per week.  Once you master one tip, then move on to the next.  By the end of 7 weeks, these tips will be ingrained in your daily habits + you’ll have a slimmer waistline and leaner thighs.  Watch out now, you may earn a new nickname: “hott n’ sexy”.

1. Refrain from drinking calories.

Sodas and juices are full of sugar that makes it difficult for the body to release fat. The biggest antagonist to burning fat is sugar consumption because it stimulates the secretion of insulin — a fat-promoting hormone. Diet drinks are not the smart alternative to caloric drinks.  Although diet drinks have zero calories, they cause addiction and contain chemicals that can do more harm than good to your body.  Stick to water which is refreshing, energizing and flushes out waste and toxins from the body which can contribute to fatigue and fat storage.  Herbal and green tea are also great options.

2. Eat real food — only!

As much as you want to believe otherwise, processed low-calorie frozen meals, skinny lattes, 100 calorie packs, and detox drinks will NOT help you keep the weight off.  You may see a little bit of results but trust me, these results will not last.  To lose fat and keep it off, you must feed your body nutrient-dense real foods — not chemical loaded, man-made Frankenstein food.  Real foods include wild fish; leafy greens; eggs; beef; chicken; and red, purple, and other colorful fruits and vegetables.  To ensure you are truly eating a whole foods rich diet, shop the perimeter of your supermarket, or better yet, do most, if not all, of your grocery shopping at the Farmer’s Market.  For optimal nutrition and to reduce toxic load, choose organic, pastured, and grass-fed options whenever possible.

3. Drink green tea to boost metabolism.

Research demonstrates that one can experience an increase in metabolism by regularly consuming green tea.  Green tea leaves are not fermented and contain more catechins than other teas. These important polyphenols, coupled with the natural caffeine present in green tea, is likely the reason that regular green tea consumption can boost metabolism, increase fat burning and promote weight loss. Drink green tea as a regular part of your day morning, noon and evening.

4. Eat protein at every meal.

Want to stay fuller longer in-between meals?  Eat protein.  Research shows higher-protein diets help people better control their appetites and daily calorie intake. Therefore make sure to eat protein with every meal and snack.  A protein-rich diet coupled with a low to low-moderate carbohydrate intake should melt away fat in record time while boosting energy and clearing away brain fog. Protein causes the brain to receive lower levels of appetite-stimulating hormones such as insulin. Fewer insulin spikes lead to less fluctuation of sugar cravings – and therefore fewer cravings.  For dinner, try this lemon pepper crusted salmon for an excellent source of protein and fat-loss promoting omega-3 fats.

5. Fat is your weight loss friend.

Contrary to the hype, in order to lose fat, you must eat fat.  I’m talking good fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, real butter, ghee, fish and animal fats rich in healthy saturated and monounsaturated fats.  Nix the bad fats:  polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as soybean oil, margarine, corn oil, canola oil, and safflower oil — these fats are composed mostly of inflammatory omega-6 properties.  What makes a fat “bad” or “good” is its ability to stay in its natural chemical structure when heated and/or exposed to light.  Polyunsaturated vegetable fats have a very weak chemical structure which can easily cause rancidity and oxidation; to avoid damaging the structure  you definitely should not cook with these fats.  When rancid fats are consumed, it can promote health ailments such as heart disease, fat accumulation, digestive unrest, thyroid hormone imbalance, sluggish energy, and low libido, among other issues.   Good quality saturated fats keep their structure when heated therefore promotes balanced hormones, brain health, increased metabolism and optimal cell function.  Bottom line: quality good fats come from pastured, organic, and grass-fed sources.

6. Get adequate, quality sleep.

More and more studies are linking weight gain to inadequate, low quality sleep. Indeed, fat loss factors on more than the simple mantra of “eat less, move more”.   Lack of sleep increases the stimulus to consume more food and increases appetite-regulating hormones.  Lack of sleep reduces willpower to eat healthy.  When is the last time you chose a vegetable-protein option as opposed to a sugar-filled processed carbohydrate loaded treat after 10pm at night?  At night, the brain’s serotonin levels are at their lowest.  Serotonin is a feel-good neurotransmitter which contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness.  When the brain’s serotonin levels are low, the body compensates by increasing cravings for carbohydrates.  Now you see why staying up late is the craftiest way to grow your gut in no time flat.  Get to bed by 10pm and aim for 7-9 hours of restful, quality sleep in a pitch-black, temperature cool bedroom.

7. Work with a Nutrition Coach.

Hiring a certified nutrition coach will help you achieve your weight loss goals faster by taking the guess work and stress (due to lack of success) out of the equation. A Nutrition coach will customize a food & lifestyle plan specific to your needs therefore exponentially increasing your adherence thus producing faster results.  Not to mention, accountability plays a huge part in you staying dedicated and plowing through stressful times.  Contact me today for your free 15 minute consultation.

 

For an awesome, fantastic, funny, incredible, sexy, easy, too-good-to-be-true 2014 subscribe to my email list by clicking the image below.  I am gearing up to launch my fresh new website soon. You don’t wanna miss this.  Subscribe to my email list right this minute.  

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The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: My 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge Recap (with before & after photos)

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Practicing yoga everyday for 90 minutes in a room heated to 105 degrees for 30 straight days is no easy feat.  It takes strong commitment and drive to make it into that yoga studio each day ready to sweat buckets.  There were days that I wanted to call it quits; days where I’d rather sleep another hour than to roll into a 6am class; days where I felt like my body had betrayed me and left me in pain in awkward places (when is the last time you worked out so hard you felt it in… your… upper spine?).

Now that I have wrapped up the challenge I want to recap some of the changes that have occurred on account of 30 days of Bikram yoga.  I am happy to answer any questions you may have.  Just write me in the comments below.

BODY IMAGE

Earlier during the challenge, I talked about how genetically, my abdominal area is where extra weight tends to hide out. Specifically, my lower abdomen and obliques. It’s the unwanted gift my father passed down to me; a gift that I have finally learned to accept.  However, I thought this Bikram yoga challenge would be a great experiment to see if all the sweating and stretching would help shrink my waistline.

Yes, Bikram Yoga shrinked my waistline.  I lost about an inch on my waist.  I gained muscle in my abs and thighs.  In the photos below, check out the definition in my abs on day 30 in comparison to day 1.

No, I did not lose any weight during the 30 day challenge.  To be perfectly honest, I did lose a whopping 0.2 pounds according to the scale.  But if we really want to talk about fat loss versus muscle gain, I think it is clear from the photos that I gained muscle (abdominals, thighs, arms) and shed a similar amount of fat.  If I could have done it differently I would have measured  body fat percentage on day 1 and again on day 30.  But even without BF%, the photos vividly illustrate the body transformation that took place in a mere 30 days.

Bikram Yoga day30 images

DAY 30 of 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge

For those of you who are addicted to the scale and are more concerned with overall weight instead of how you look and how your clothes fit, I am telling you now, get your priorities straight.  You will save yourself much anxiety by ditching the scale and using the mirror, photos, tape measurements, and how clothes are fitting to dictate your progress.  If you must weigh-in, then wait at least 2 weeks between each weigh-in to avoid scale addiction. 

DAY 1 of  30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge

DAY 1 of 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge

MENTAL SHIFT

Type A personalities listen up.  There is nothing wrong with being ambitious, rigidly organized, sensitive, too caring, truthful and honest, impatient, helpful, take on more than can handle, want others to get your point by any means necessary, workaholics, hate delays and always being unsure about things….

Shoot who am I kidding, being described as the description above can make life tough as we tend to worry about the future instead of enjoying the present.  As a Type A personality I can attest to the above.  Bikram yoga came to my rescue.

Looking at yourself in a mirror for 90 minutes in 105 degree room forces you to get outside of your head and just be still — let go of all the emotions and thoughts.  All you have is yourself, your body, and the difficult postures; the focus becomes the postures.  No longer are you thinking about personality or body image imperfections.  90 minutes of yoga allowed me freedom from my anti-productive, self-sabotaging thoughts and feelings.  And that freedom carried out into real life in such an amazing, deeply necessary way.

My mentality is a bit more relaxed as I now care more about enjoying each day and each moment instead of wondering about “what if” for something that hasn’t even occurred yet.  Too much focus on the unknown can be detrimental to a happy life.  Yoga has helped me to wash away the structured, robotic ways of the Type A personality that I once proudly identified as.

WHAT IS NEXT?

The physical and mental transformation I have experienced in just a short 30 days is enough to have gotten me hooked on Bikram yoga.  It is phenomenal how you can walk into the studio unsure about an important decision you must make then 90 minutes later have worked out a strategy in your head leaving you with a solid solution.  Yes,  Bikram teachers advocate letting go of all feelings and focusing on yourself in the mirror and engaging yourself in each pose, but shoot, there are times when all you can do is think about life decisions.  I have had many AHA! moments in yoga class that has helped me to move forward with tough life realizations in a positive and constructive manner.

So does that mean I will keep the consecutive streak going?

The Bikram Yoga Oakland Studio Director enticed me with an awesome deal:  complete 100 classes in a row and receive 1 month free.  As much as I like challenges and saving money, I had to kindly decline.

I am registered for a half marathon run that is only about 9 weeks away which I have barely started training for just yesterday.  I’m a little behind since I usually like to allow 12 weeks to train.  Therefore I will shift gears from yoga so that I can focus on running.  Don’t get me wrong, I will still attend yoga classes.  In fact, my training schedule makes it mandatory that I attend Bikram yoga 3 times per week minimum.  Yoga will help with flexibility, agility and will strengthen my lungs for enhanced breathing technique while running. 

“If you want to get better in Bikram yoga, practice Bikram yoga.  If you want to get better in everything else, practice Bikram yoga.”

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Chika Obih is a certified holistic nutrition consultant; blogger; and founder of Chika Obih Wellness based in Oakland, CA and offers services virtually, in-person or by phone.  Chika is passionate about empowering people to take charge of their own health utilizing the power of wholesome, clean foods and fun holistic lifestyle solutions.  Contact Chika today to set up your free consultation.

Follow Chika on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

7 Practices For Faster Weight Loss

fast weight loss_012513Losing weight takes commitment and hard work.  You know the importance of cleaning up the diet and getting regular exercise.  Once you’ve got these basics down, its only natural to want to hasten  weight loss efforts.  When it comes to weight loss, slow and steady generally makes for longer-term, lifestyle focused changes in contrast to quick-fix diets.   By adding the following practices to your long term weight loss goals, you can achieve your sexy in record time.

1. Refrain from drinking calories.

Sodas and juices are full of sugar that makes it difficult for the body to release fat.  The biggest antagonist to burning fat is sugar consumption because it stimulates the secretion of insulin — a fat-promoting hormone. Diet drinks are not the smart alternative to caloric drinks.  Although diet drinks have zero calories, they cause addiction and contain chemicals that can do more harm than good to your body.  Stick to water which is refreshing, energizing and flushes out waste and toxins from the body which can contribute to fatigue and fat storage.  Herbal and green tea are also great options.

2. Eat real food — only!

As much as you want to believe otherwise, processed low-calorie frozen meals, skinny lattes, 100 calorie packs, and detox drinks will NOT help you keep the weight off.  You may see a little bit of results but trust me, these results will not last.  To lose fat and keep it off, you must feed your body nutrient-dense real foods — not chemical loaded, man-made Frankenstein food.  Real foods include wild fish; leafy greens; eggs; beef; chicken; and red, purple, and other colorful fruits and vegetables.  To ensure you are truly eating a whole foods rich diet, shop the perimeter of your supermarket, or better yet, do most, if not all, of your grocery shopping at the Farmer’s Market.  For optimal nutrition and to reduce toxic load, choose organic, pastured, and grass-fed options whenever possible.

3. Drink green tea to boost metabolism.

Research demonstrates that one can experience an increase in metabolism by regularly consuming green tea.  Green tea leaves are not fermented and contain more catechins than other teas. These important polyphenols, coupled with the natural caffeine present in green tea, is likely the reason that regular green tea consumption can boost metabolism, increase fat burning and promote weight loss. Drink green tea as a regular part of your day morning, noon and evening.

4. Eat protein at every meal.

Want to stay fuller longer in-between meals?  Eat protein.  Research shows higher-protein diets help people better control their appetites and daily calorie intake. Therefore make sure to eat protein with every meal and snack.  A protein-rich diet coupled with a low to low-moderate carbohydrate intake should melt away fat in record time while boosting energy and clearing away brain fog. Protein causes the brain to receive lower levels of appetite-stimulating hormones such as insulin. Fewer insulin spikes lead to less fluctuation of sugar cravings – and therefore fewer cravings.  For dinner, try this lemon pepper crusted salmon for an excellent source of protein and fat-loss promoting omega-3 fats.

5. Fat is your weight loss friend.

Contrary to the hype, in order to lose fat, you must eat fat.  I’m talking good fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, real butter, ghee, fish and animal fats rich in healthy saturated and monounsaturated fats.  Nix the bad fats:  polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as soybean oil, margarine, corn oil, canola oil, and safflower oil — these fats are composed mostly of inflammatory omega-6 properties.  What makes a fat “bad” or “good” is its ability to stay in its natural chemical structure when heated and/or exposed to light.  Polyunsaturated vegetable fats have a very weak chemical structure which can easily cause rancidity and oxidation; to avoid damaging the structure  you definitely should not cook with these fats.  When rancid fats are consumed, it can promote health ailments such as heart disease, fat accumulation, digestive unrest, thyroid hormone imbalance, sluggish energy, and low libido, among other issues.   Good quality saturated fats keep their structure when heated therefore promotes balanced hormones, brain health, increased metabolism and optimal cell function.  The subject of fats is a weighty topic so I’ll dedicate a future blog post to explain more: the good, the bad, the ugly. For now, just remember: quality good fats come from pastured, organic, and grass-fed sources.

6. Get adequate, quality sleep.

More and more studies are linking weight gain to inadequate, low quality sleep. Indeed, fat loss factors on more than the simple mantra of “eat less, move more”.   Lack of sleep increases the stimulus to consume more food and increases appetite-regulating hormones.  Lack of sleep reduces willpower to eat healthy.  When is the last time you chose a vegetable-protein option as opposed to a sugar-filled carbohydrate loaded treat after 10pm at night?  At night, the brain’s serotonin levels are at their lowest.  Serotonin is a feel-good neurotransmitter which contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness.  When the brain’s serotonin levels are low, the body compensates by increasing cravings for carbohydrates.  Now you see why staying up late is the perfect way to sabotage weight loss efforts.  Get to bed by 10pm and aim for 7-9 hours of restful, quality sleep in a pitch-black, temperature cool bedroom.

7. Work with a Nutrition Coach.

Hiring a certified nutrition coach will help you achieve your weight loss goals faster by taking the guess work and stress (due to lack of success) out of the equation. A Nutrition coach will customize a food & lifestyle plan specific to your needs therefore exponentially increasing your adherence thus producing faster results.  Not to mention, accountability plays a huge part in you staying dedicated and plowing through stressful times.  Contact me today for your free 15 minute consultation.

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