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Every holiday season & winter season, I find myself slowing getting softer and softer as I put on extra weight.  Typically, I wait until warmer weather to frantically lose the extra pounds by summer.  This year, I'm taking a different approach.

It's only been a couple days since Thanksgiving and I've already begun putting on the holiday pounds.   I had a choice to make...either do nothing and let the weight compound or I can take a small step that could have a huge impact.
To figure out the easiest method for shedding weight, we must first understand what caused the gain.  Basically, we consumed too many calories compared to calories burned.  Another, lesser known reason for weight gain is due to mismanaged insulin levels.

I work from home and have constant access to my fridge.  Let's say I wake up in the morning and have a high carb breakfast at 8:00am.  By 10 or 11 am, I may decide to enjoy a snack (or two).  In the afternoon, I might grab a quick lunch. That evening,  I'll have dinner and maybe another snack if I don't have an early bedtime.  This all-day eating + snacking schedule is terrible for someone like me who does sedentary work.  Sometimes I work the entire day without any rigorous physical exercise.  If I don't leave the house, my daily step count is embarrassing.

Every time I put food in my mouth, it triggers an increase in insulin.  A rise in insulin is like a signal for the body to store the food we consumed as fat.  If you have an active lifestyle, your body will use the stored energy to power your muscles.  If you aren't active, your fat stores will build up.  The solution is either to be more active or to eat less. Becoming more active is a very logical choice.  The only issue is that sometimes working out causes an increase in appetite and we end up consuming more calories anyway.

Obviously, working out is great for cardiovascular health while improving muscle tone.  We should all strive to add daily more activity.  But sometimes, activity doesn't kick start my weight loss as much as when I alter my eating.  For instance, when I go on vacation, I'll eat at least 3X a day and walk 5 miles a day (sometimes more). When I get back home, I jump on the scale and realize that I still gained weight.

The fastest and most effective path to weight loss is through our eating.  Specifically by reducing calories or restricted eating.  Lowering calories is cool, but in the long run, it leads to a slow down in metabolism.

No one wants that.

Restricted eating, however, allows our body the opportunity to experience a decrease in insulin levels for extended periods of time.  Why is this so important?  Because when we don't have high blood sugar levels (from eating constantly), our bodies must tap into other sources of fuel.  The only other fuel options are glycogen (stored in our muscles) and fat.  When we direct our bodies to tap into our stored body fat on a daily basis...that's when the magic happens.

How do we access stored fat as fuel?

By completing short term fasts, aka, intermittent fasting.  Basically, instead of eating and snacking all day, we save our eating for a specific time block during the day. Some eat within an 8-hour window others will go for shorter time windows (6 or 4 hours). During the eating window, we consume all of our needed calories for the day.  The rest of the time, our body is using glycogen and fat as energy.  As time passes, we notice our jeans fitting better and we have a little more energy.  Aside from weight loss, incorporating fasting into your routine could have some longevity and other health benefits.  Fasting allows our body to reallocate energy used for digestion and focus on detox processes instead.  When I first wrote about fasting years ago, people freaked out and thought I was encouraging eating disorders.  Fasting is not the same as starving.  We still eat balanced meals, it's about restricting when we eat, not what we eat.

To make intermittent fasting a bit easier, I downloaded an app that helps me fast successfully.  All I have to do is tap a button and it starts the fast countdown based on my pre-set fasting window.  This app quickly lets me know how many hours are remaining until I've reached my goal.  If I'm feeling really hungry within the fasting window, I'll break my fast early.  No big deal. 

This app encourages control and accountability to my eating habits and I appreciate that.

Restricted eating alone will help to shed extra fat but when paired with weight-bearing exercise, you can then sculp the body that you want.  Let's get a head start on our healthy weight goals for 2020 and beyond!

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