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If you are like many Americans, 2014 began with some lofty ambitions about weight loss and exercise. The typical New Year’s Resolution is stacked with ambitious goals to lose weight, limit calories, avoid junk food and keep to a tough workout schedule. Often, those New Years goals, though well intentioned, tend to be hard to keep.

Might I suggest that we set aside those lost New Year’s resolutions, and any residual guilt that remains and make a new plan. Lofty goals can be life changing, but sometimes it is the little things you do day in and day out that can add up to big changes in health. Here are a few suggestions to help you shift your focus to maintaining health all year long.

Rethink your Breakfast!

We have all heard the saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But let’s be honest, for most American’s, breakfast looks suspiciously like dessert, with far too much sugar and few, if any, truly nutrient dense foods.

One suggestion is to limit your sugar and refined carbohydrates first thing in the morning. When you first wake and “break your fast” you body has actually been in a fasted state since your last meal was 8-12 hours ago. You have likely used the available stores of sugars (a normal process) and your body is just starting to think about using its own built in stores of fat.

However, most of us sit down for breakfast and re-load on refined carbs and sugar, such as cereal (even the healthy ones are refined and loaded with sugars) juice, toast, muffins, bagels and “healthy” yogurt, which is usually loaded with sugar, too. With a fresh supply of sugar, the body does not need to use fat. The new onslaught of sugar brings a corresponding release of insulin to handle the sugar and where there is insulin, fat burning will be kept to a minimum.

To get your body to burn fat for fuel, begin your day with healthy fats, protein and greens, none of which require much if any insulin and will keep your body in fat burning mode for a little longer.

Examples include:

  • A vegetable omelet (using the whole egg, not just the egg whites) on top of a chopped avocado.
  • Smoothie with spinach, protein powder, an avocado and a small handful of berries.
  • If time is an issue in the morning, make a frittata or crust-less quiche on Sunday (there are loads of recipes out there) and use left overs during the week.

If your body is used to the typical sugary breakfast, making this switch might take a few days to two weeks. Try this for two weeks and see what happens. And don’t skimp on calories. Eat to nourish your body.

Forget Calories and Focus on Real Foods!

I often see people who are obsessed about restricting their calories to some magic number they feel will help them lose weight. But in reality, when calories and nutrients get too low, the body will respond to a perceived lack of food by holding onto fat! Not exactly what we were hoping for!

Healthy eating for optimal health means nourishing your body with as many nutrient dense foods as you can. Rather than focus on calories, shift your focus toward eating real whole foods. Try to make the majority of your meals from meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains (not foods that say “whole grain”, look for actual whole grains like quinoa and wild rice), dairy, legumes, herbs and spices.

If your food is coming from a package with a label, look first to the list of ingredients, rather than the number of calories. If the list of ingredients is too long or contain words you don’t recognize, regardless of the calories, the food will likely not nourish your body. This chart http://www.huffingtonpost.com/darya-pino/is-it-real-food-flowchart_b_805406.html might be silly, but makes the point pretty clear.

The sad truth for many American’s is that we have plenty of food to eat but many of us are nutritionally starving. If you are struggling to reach your health and weight loss goals and need assistance, please call me for options for an individual plan.

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