Time to close the magazines, stop staring longingly at the bony necks of models and film stars and focus on your muscles instead of your fatty tissue. Being healthy means maintaining a strong, efficient body -- it doesn't have much to do with weight at all.
The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate and the more calories you burn. Since muscle weighs more than fat, your new body may very well look sleeker but weigh as much or more than your old one. Ergo, throw away the bathroom scale.
How to keep your body hard?
First, see your doctor to rule out any medical condition. Then know that resistance or weight training builds muscle and, combined with aerobic exercise, is your best bet for body sculpting. It's counterintuitive, but your other major weight-loss aid is sleep. During sleep your muscle tissue is repaired and your serotonin levels are replenished. That's important because without enough serotonin you're going to crave carbohydrates.
Stick to whole grains, veggies, fruits and organic protein foods (yogurt, meat, fish and soy isolates). Protein indirectly stimulates fat cells to release fat for fuel and helps build muscle. A state-of-the-art approach to getting your fat percentage down includes keeping insulin levels down. High insulin levels encourage the conversion of food into fat. Processed foods are insulin's siren call, and the hormone will come running if you eat sugar, white flour, ice cream, chips and soft drinks.
Walk into any health food store and you'll see a zillion products that claim to help you lose weight naturally and easily. Research backs some of these claims. Chromium, for example, will help keep your blood sugar even, and the available research on Citrus aurantium extracts indicates they'll help you burn fat faster. Essential fatty acids like evening primrose oil have been studied as weight-loss aids, but results are mixed. Mixtures that contain ephedra (ha huang) are dangerous to your health. Better to be gentle with yourself and take an approach that's sustainable over the long haul.
"Chickweed herb (not root) tea has been used for centuries in weight management. Drink two or three cups a day before or after meals. Gymnema sylvestre anaesthetizes the sweet taste buds and thereby reduces cravings for sweets. Greens powders help boost the efficiency of organs and reduce cravings that are due to malnourishment caused by the fact that our soils are so mined these days.'
MARION MARSHALL, medical herbalist
"When your body is busy managing a food sensitivity (like wheat, dairy or sugar), you don't have energy for losing weight. I use chromium for those with sugar cravings. As for weight-loss products, if you're devoted to getting healthy you don't need gimmicks."
JILL KELNER, naturopath
"Too much weight training can stimulate the release of too many stress hormones, including cortisol. It breaks down muscle tissue. Do only 45 minutes of weight-bearing exercise at a time, two to four times weekly. Do weight-bearing exercise first, and then when you get to your cardiovascular your body will be ready to burn fat. Citrus aurantium is one of the major ingredients in my lean+ formula."
BRAD KING, master of science, author of Fat Wars
"A hundred years ago people's genes would have been fine for keeping them thin, but activity levels today are much lower. It's calculated that when typists switched to electric typewriters in the 1950s, they would have gained 4 pounds a year without a change in diet.'
ROBERT DENT, MD, director of the weight management clinic at the Ottawa Hospital and U. of Ottawa