In the film City Slickers, Curly (Jack Palance) tells Mitch (Billy Crystal) the secret of life. He holds up one finger and says, "One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that. Everything else don't mean ... " Mitch's reply: "That's great, but what's the one thing?" Curly answers: "That's what you've got to figure out."
Complicated diets can be overwhelming. The very thought of having to do too much just might lead you to do nothing. Actor Will Smith, whose success is a function of laser-sharp focus, says, "There's no reason to have a Plan B because it distracts from Plan A."
If you want to lose weight, make your Plan A just one thing and stick to it.
Several years ago, NBA star Caron Butler lost 11 pounds simply by giving up Mountain Dew. My friend Becky used to stop at McDonald's for coffee in the morning. It was easy enough to order breakfast too, so she did. Three months ago, she bought a coffee maker, switched to hard-boiled eggs and lost 26 pounds. From one change. My friend Matt continued eating the exact same meals, only he would eat half the meal and then the other half two hours later. He dropped 16 pounds in six weeks.
"To push it a step further, maybe one doesn't need to embark on the change with the idea of permanence either," says Vanessa Brunkhorst, creator of the blog Know Thy Skin. "My mother, a lifelong (and self-proclaimed) sugar junkie, gave up soda for a 40-day Lenten sacrifice. It eventually spread to all sweets. Then, much to our surprise, she just never went back to them. I don't think she would have had it in her to even start with the sacrifice if she'd known ahead of time that it would be a lasting change!"
The drive for perfection can be paralyzing. All you need to do is start moving in the right direction, even if you can only commit to a short period of time. Look at Jared. Subway isn't exactly on nutritional par with organic kale, but since Subway was better than what Jared was eating before (Lord only knows), it was enough for him to lose 245 pounds.
You don't have to turn into a wheatgrass-chugging, broccoli-steaming, flaxseed-grinding lunatic to lose weight (though don't knock it till you've tried it). For most of you, making one change to your routine will be enough to improve your health and body. The more painless it is, the easier it will be to maintain. If it feels easier committing to only a short period, like it did for Vanessa's mom, add a time qualifier.
Here are some ideas. Again, one might be enough.
Give up soda. At least minimize drinking your calories, especially fruit juice, sweet tea,
energy drinks, mochas, and alcohol. An added bonus will be to your wallet.
Pack your lunch. When you eat outside your house, you lose a lot of control. Making
your own food allows you to get it back.
Work out for 90 seconds when you wake up. Pushups, situps, jumping jacks, dancing,
hula-hooping or walking the stairs will ramp up your metabolism.
Eat more for breakfast and lunch, less for dinner. Better yet, have nothing at all after 8 p.m.
Set a limit on white foods. This means flour, sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Add a salad to whatever else you're having for dinner. It will help "crowd out" the less healthy food and might kill your appetite for dessert.
Use a blender. Throw in a bunch of healthy things like flaxseeds, raw chocolate, Spirulina, protein powder and leafy greens to make a smoothie.
Interval training. Go all out for at least four 30-second intervals during your cardio workout. Shorter, higher intensity workouts are efficient and effective.
Boost frequency. Switch from three big meals to six small meals a day.
Find the one that you can change and you'll start feeling and looking better. Then you can imagine Curly saying to you and your friends: "You came out here city slickers; you're gonna go home cowboys."
-- Greg Dinkin is a Certified Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and the author of three books including The Poker MBA. He explains in his TED talk how he used the power of both mind and body to lose 100 pounds.
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