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Part of my goal as your personal trainer is to work you out to the best of your ability. But what about the othe 23 hours of your day? How can you make the most of your commitment to yourself to be happier and healthier and achieve those gorgeous abs you’ve always wanted?

 

Over the years, I have found that the clients who get the best results:

 

1. Keep a food and exercise diary.

 

How many times have you heard, “I am confused by all the conflicting diet advice – I don’t know what’s right for my body.”

 

If you were a world-class athlete, you would know whether you run after a breakfast of steak and eggs or a bowl of berries because you would have records to prove it.

 

My observation: The diary is truth time. When we are willing to be totally honest with ourselves, making the connection between how we choose to eat and act and how we eventually feel and look, we literally reach a higher level of consciousness.

 

Taking responsibility for the consequences of our daily choices gives us greater freedom. The chocolate cake is no longer in charge of us. We understand how the simplest actions can give us more energy to be physically, emotionally and spiritually present for those we love.

 

2. Go slow.

 

How many times have you heard me say, “Slow is better?”

 

The slower you go in your strength training routines, the more muscle fiber and brain activity you stimulate.

 

The slower you lose weight, the more likely you are to keep it off without losing muscle mass.

 

Build up slowly on your walk-jog routines, and pretty soon you’ll be jogging an hour and actually enjoying the process.

 

Going slow builds not only the core of your program but also greater character by developing tenacity and patience.

 

3. Nourish exercising muscles with adequate protein.

 

It takes 100 grams of protein to build 1 pound of new muscle. Even if your goal is to lose weight, keep in mind that protein foods may increase your metabolic rate by as much as 30 percent. My previous newsletters have discussed the fact that food addictions, and in particular, addiction to carbohydrates, often stands in the way of success in weight loss.

 

4. Lower stress.

 

A recent study proved what I have been advising you for some time: stress can make you fat. High cortisol levels associated with stressful lifestyles prompt overeating. Cortisol will also break down muscle tissue – that’s why some body builders actually take drugs to block the biochemical effects.

 

Solution: If you want to lose weight and/or build muscle tone, consider taking a nap after your workout to stimulate growth hormone, or meditate in early morning or evening.

 

5. Set realistic goals and make weekly plans about how to reach them.

 

The U.S. Labor Department has spent thou- sands of our tax dollars proving that those who set goals are more likely to reach them. I encourage you to focus on one or two goals at a time.

 

6. Use affirmations.

 

How many times have we looked in the mirror and said to ourselves “I can’t believe how fat my ____(fill in the blank) is. I’d better get moving.”

 

Every thought you think about yourself or anyone else has a direct, do-not-pass-go affect on your physical body, which is in the process of replacing its 73 trillion cells on a regular basis.

 

Why? Every thought occurs on a physical level because there are nerve cells, on a chemical level because there are neurotransmitters, and on an electrical level because there is a positive and negative charge when neurons communicate. The longest-term memory that we hold is not in our brains but in our bodies, in the proprioceptors in our muscles.

 

The latest research suggests that no more than 13 percent of your DNA, the genetic code that predetermines so many of your personal characteristics, may be hard-wired. That means that as your cells are regenerating, you are constantly recreating yourself, and your potential for improvement is huge, no matter what your age.

 

You don’t have the same body you did five years ago. Positive thinking about yourself and appropriate exercise and nutrition can make you stronger and healthier in the five years to come. Don’t wait until you are size 2 to begin to send unconditional approval to every cell. Do it now and enjoy the results later.

 

7. Supplement and make every calorie count.

 

In my opinion, there is no such thing as an empty calorie. You are either building yourself up or setting the stage for ill health and excess poundage with every nutritional choice you make.

 

A nutritionist friend told me you would have to eat about 100 heads of broccoli every day to get the nurition you need from ordinary vegetables. Most women who exercise would have to take in about 3,000 calories a day to get enough iron, and then we’d have great red blood cells but end up being fat.

 

Carbonated drinks leach calcium from your bones. Every time we ingest even 2 teaspoons of sugar, the mineral ratios in our bodies change. High-sugar junk foods strip away our reserves of chromium, manganese, cobalt, copper, zinc, and magnesium and can lead to deplection of B vitamins, placing yet more stress on the adrenal glands.

 

Even the quality of water you drink can have a direct affect on your immune system and metabolism. Flouride and other chemicals in tap water may suppress your thyroid.

 

Develop the attitude that you deserve the best – to put only the most life-sustaining nutrients into your body, to fill your mind with the most loving thoughts, and to surround yourself with the most supportive individuals to help you achieve your goals.