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The key to maintaining my weight is really quite simple…I eat the same food every day. Now I’m sure most of you are making a face or saying, “yuck” or “how boring” or like “yeah right!” but come to think of it that’s exactly what it is…EAT THE SAME FOOD EVERYDAY and YOU’LL RARELY OVERINDULGE.  A celebrity that has been a prime example of this is Jennifer Anniston.  She ate the same salad on the set of “Friends” for 10 years in addition to staying active.

Want further proof?

– In Asian countries people are huge white rice consumers and in the South Asian countries people are huge bread consumers.

– Italians eat lots of pasta.

These carb-rich foods are a big taboo in America. This begs the question: Why are residents of the above-mentioned countries relatively healthy while the United States is fighting an obesity epidemic?  My theory is that they are consuming those same foods everyday and eating in moderation (portion control).

I’m not implying that you can stick to a daily 4000-calorie diet and not exercise. Loading up on a high calorie fatty foods (such as cheeseburgers) everyday won’t help to avoid weight gain (or provide you with the proper nutrition your body needs).  Nor can you stick to an all protein diet and live a sedentary life style and expect to yield long term results.  Sure those high protein diet work for short-term goals, a “quick-fix”.

My advice it to eat the same healthy food every day so it can eventually become a life-style.  For example – Let’s say you ate 1 cup of brown rice, steamed veggies and 1 slice of grilled chicken breast for lunch on Monday.  If you are a petite individual like myself, on Tuesday you may have 1/2 cup of rice with 1/2 slice of grilled chicken breast.  On Wednesday, you may try 3/4 cup of rice and 1/2 slice of grilled chicken breast.  Having tried a few options of what works best for you, by Thursday/Friday you will start recognizing the quantity of food you require for lunch to feel “full” and you will be on your path to maintaining your weight.  This has worked for me for years!

So pick your favorite 4-5 healthy breakfast, snack, lunch, snack and dinner options for the week and rotate them.  At first, it might be tricky but eventually you will fall into a pattern of knowing the portion your body requires to feel satisfied.   For optimum results you should exercise 3-4 times a week for 30-40 minutes.   Good luck but also remember to leave one day to indulge (in moderation of course).

I will be at Trader Joe’s (10741 Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD) on May 11th and June 8th from 11am-12pm.  I will talk about and show the food I eat on a daily and weekly basis.  I will also answer questions and help anyone who’s interested in healthy food recommendations.  The first three attendees for both May 11th and June 8th will win a $10 Trader Joe’s gift card.  Hope to see you there.

* This article is simply my opinion and I’m sharing what has worked for my clients and myself.  Please consult your doctor or your dietitian/nutritionist before trying this out yourself.

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Picture #1 – Set the crossramp on 6 or higher and pick a resistance level that challenges you (you’ll find both the cross ramp and resistance level selection on the dashboard of the elliptical trainer), go forward for 2 minutes as fast as you can. Picture #2 – Continue to go forward for the next 2 minutes while holding on to the side bars. Drop your butt, bend your knees, keep your back straight and continue at the same speed as before. For pictures #3 and #4 – Repeat the same as above for 2 minutes for each cycle except change directions (go reverse). Rest for 1 minute and repeat the circuit for 30 minutes.

Another good circuit training on an elliptical – Set the crossramp on 6 or higher and pick a resistance level that challenges you. Holding on to the side bars try to reach 500 strides in 3 minutes. Once you reach 500 strides, rest for 1 minute. Repeat the circuit for 30 minutes.

The name of the game is “Intensity” –but don’t get intimidated by that word. Intensity can be relative to your age and the current shape you’re in, barring you’re injury free.

Whether you’re an elite athlete or someone who wants to maintain their current form or someone whose trying to make exercise a part of their lifestyle you can add intensity to any routine.

Wouldn’t you rather go hard for 30-40 minutes either doing a cardiovascular workout or a strength-training workout than busting your behind for 60-90 minutes? Yikes!

This is what I tell my clients: Do something that you can do for the rest of your life. Sure when you’re 22 you can afford to be at the gym for an hour 4-5 times a week. Lets say you’re now 40 and have a family. Are you going to have time to workout for an hour like you did in your 20’s? Change in lifestyle is the reason why the majority of us gain weight and lose the motivation to stay in shape. So, if in your 20’s, set more realistic goals (such as working out for 30-40 minutes 3 times a week) you’ll have a goal you can most likely stick to for a longer period, dare I say your lifetime! I can speak from my own example. I have worked out all of my life but once I was a freshmen in college, I decided to make fitness and a healthy living my lifestyle and decided to do a realistic routine that I could continue for a long time.  My shorter yet intense workouts have helped me stay in shape to this very day.

Keep your workouts short and intense. Go by your rate of perceived exertion such as 1 being easy and 10 being very difficult and keep your workouts intense by your rate of perceived exertion. For example one may rate walking at a leisurely pace at an intensity level of 2.  And some may rate sprinting 100 yards, 10 times with short rest period at an intensity level of 9. Remember: it’s the quality and not the quantity that matters. Good luck!