How to Get Into Shape
It seems like everyone is unhappy with their physical appearance these days. It could be because we're in the midst of an obesity epidemic, because we're bombarded with airbrushed images of beautiful celebrities, or because we've become a fast-food nation. Regardless of the reason, everybody wants to look better.
Of course, because we have become a fast-food nation, everyone wants to look better now. There is no big secret method about getting into shape over the long-term: exercise regularly and eat healthy. We all know about that. Most people erroneously think that, by using those methods, it will take you years to see any benefit and you'll have to give up most of your free time working out.
That's simply not true.
No, there is no magic pill to swallow which will make you slim down, build muscle tone and generally be a jaw-dropping beauty. There are hundreds of "pitch men" on late night television who would like to convince you otherwise, but they are simply trying to improve the fitness of their bottom line.
Follow these simple steps and you'll amaze yourself by how fast you begin to see serious results.
Drink Lots of Water
Water helps you lose weight in a number of different ways. It is probably the singularly most important change you can make in your everyday routine to both increase your health and get into better shape. First, water acts as an appetite suppressant. You should only be eating when you're hungry and water will decrease the amount of time you spend hungry.
Another benefit of drinking ice-cold water is that your body has to expend energy to heat the water to match your regular body temperature. Basically, you can burn calories simply by drinking ice-cold water!
Finally, drinking water will help your kidneys flush out waste and stored fat. When you don't drink enough water, your liver becomes less effective at metabolizing fat because it hangs on to it.
We all grew up being constantly admonished to eat three square meals a day. Sadly, the advice dutifully doled out by mothers around the world isn't actually in line with the way our bodies function most efficiently.
Eating five or seven smaller meals a day, versus the three heaping meals we grew up on, allow our body to take in only the amount of fuel it needs. Normally, when we pile in three full meals, our body has to store some of that food because it cannot metabolize it all at once. This ends up becoming love handles, cottage cheese thighs and all of the other euphemisms we've created to describe the fatty parts of our bodies. Be sensible and healthy with what you eat, but eat it more often.
Cut Down on Salt
Salt is one of the major enemies of anyone attempting to lose weight because it forces our body to hang onto water that it normally would expel. As a result of this water retention, we stop filtering fluids the way we were designed to. We end up drinking even less water, contributing to the problems outlined in the first tip. The excess salt in our system also clogs up our internal filtration system which reduces our metabolism.
To seriously reduce the amount of salt you put into your body, it's important to do more than just stop sprinkling it onto your food. You need to check the labels of the food you buy for sodium, fat, and sugar content. Make a concerted effort to look for foods low in those three categories.
You had to know this one was going to come up, didn't you? The key point in exercising is to get your heart rate up and pumping fast, which will increase the speed at which your body burns fat. So, realistically, any exercise that achieves this goal is a "good" exercise.
The trick is to either a) find something you enjoy doing that fulfills those requirements or b) find a way to enjoy something that fulfills those requirements. Many people go out and buy a fancy machine, thinking that the cost of the machine will force them to use it. They are usually wrong.
One good exercise is walking up and down stairs. If you have stairs in your house, then you're all set! Many people enjoy listening to a book on tape or music while they do this and the exercise is perfect because it has a high resistance side (going up) and a low resistance side (going down).
In lieu of stairs, you can find dozens of easy exercises on the Internet that you can do in your own home. Commit to doing ten or twenty-minutes a day, with a day or two off for recuperating, and stick to it. Make it part of your daily routine. Do not let yourself skimp for at least a month-and-a-half. After that, it will be a habit.
While these suggestions aren't going to move you from couch potato to stud muffin in three days, the reality is that nothing will. Ignore the hype on the commercials pushing diet pills which are likely to throw your body into shock or worse. Concentrate on these four steps and you'll amaze yourself with the results.
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