Don’t be Skinny and Squishy – Lose Weight and Tone Muscle at the same time

New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and get fit are incredibly common. Unfortunately, so is the rate of failure. Winter weather is one of the most common excuses to give up. Now that spring is here, we don’t have to spend money at the gym to get a good workout. It’s not just about losing weight, though. Muscle toning should be just as high on the priority list.

As we all know, to lose weight, we need to eat a healthy diet. Exercise is generally recommended as it helps to burn calories and shed pounds faster. But realistically, one could drop a lot of weight, over time, without doing all that exercise. The problem is, it will take much longer, and we end up with is a body that’s skinny and squishy.

No one wants to go to all that effort to lose weight, just to be squishy!

To get the maximum effect, and be completely happy with your body, you’re going to have to run the full gambit of a healthy diet and exercise.

Get A Boost From Your Brain

Exercise and the BrainThe good news is that working out has an effect on the brain’s chemical production, making us feel better at the same time. And the better we feel, the more likely we are to stay motivated.

There’s a common myth that exercise releases endorphins – the brain’s natural feel-good drug. While there’s no solid proof of that, researchers have found that any form of aerobic workout releases a lesser known chemical called norepinephrine, which has a positive effect on our mental stability by reducing anxiety and helping us deal better with things like stress and depression.

The result is similar. More exercise = less stress = happier mental state. We could all use some more of that!

Healthy Diet Tips

If you’re really eating healthy, that means you’re not having any snacks before bed, which can make us hungry in the morning. Grab some bite-size fruit like grapes or strawberries and maybe some almonds (not the roasted, salted variety) to snack on while you get ready for your day.

Breakfast should consist of healthy nutrients. If you have time to cook, saute some veggies and poach an egg, with a slice of whole grain toast on the side. If not, a bowl of multi-grain cereal will do, and perhaps some more fruit or yogurt.

Lunch should consist of high-proteins, like grilled chicken or fish, with lots of veggies on the side. A grilled chicken salad is a great choice. You can mix up your daily menu with rice-based dishes, too.

Dinner time can be filled with variety, from chicken and steak to lean pork or even tofu dishes, if you like that sort of thing. The key is in the preparation. Grilled or baked is best, or use olive oil for sauteing, and utilize your favorite spices and seasonings whenever possible. Again, lots of veggies will taste great and help fill you up.

Snacks! Yes, we all like to snack between meals, and it’s not going to stop you from losing weight, if you’re smart about it. Have a cup of your favorite flavored yogurt (I love the peach Yoplait myself), a bowl of fruit, or a granola bar. Mixing fresh fruit with cottage cheese is a lot more delicious than it sounds.

Muscle Toning Tips

Fast Walking Interval TrainingThere are so many ways to tone your muscles, no one has an excuse not to get in a little exercise each day. If the weather is nice, go for a walk/jog/run around the neighborhood or at a park. If it’s raining, stay home and hit the treadmill or do a Zumba workout from a DVD. Better yet, hit the pool or sign up for Zumba classes at the local YMCA, or hit the gym for an hour. Just make sure you’re getting exercise 4-5 days a week.

Motivation can be rough, especially at first, and that’s when we start coming up with all sorts of excuses not to stay on track. If you want this to work, you have stop finding excuses.

Can’t afford a gym membership? Do your workouts at home and go for a walk or bike ride when it’s nice out.

Not enough time? You can get the same level of muscle toning and caloric burn in a quick, high-intensity workout as you can with slower, moderate exercising.

Can’t stay motivated? Find a friend with similar goals and exercise together. There’s strength in numbers!

It only takes a couple of weeks to start seeing the benefits of eating a healthy diet and exercising. As you begin to lose weight and replace that old flab with toned muscles, the desire and motivation to keep going will come naturally.

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