There are many different approaches to weight loss, health and fitness – so many that it’s easy to get overwhelmed when trying to figure out which approach will work best for you.
Looking back, I spent most of my life struggling to maintain my weight through intense and excessive exercise and a “healthy” diet that probably ended up doing more harm than good (learn more about my health journey here).
I did my fair share of experimenting with diets and exercise for weight loss and optimal health, so I’m aware of the frustrations and disappointments that can come about.
I can sympathize with those who feel like they’ve tried it all (and have genuinely put their full heart and energy into programs), but nothing seems to work for them – and if it does, the results are often short-lived.
When working with clients, my approach to sustainable weight loss and health is NOT one-size-fits-all. Each person and body is unique which means customized programs are often the best approach – and yield greater results.
Although the approach you take to health and fitness is important, it’s not the only part of the equation.
The one thing that most healthy and physically fit people have in common is consistent healthy habits.
They don’t dabble in a diet or exercise program for 1-month then stop without rhyme or reason and jump on board another trendy program the following year only to fall off the wagon again.
They’re more consistent than not when it comes to healthy eating, exercise and/or lifestyle practices – whatever their idea of “healthy” is at a given time.
I often get asked the question – “Jen, what’s your secret to always looking healthy and fit?”
Well, my secret in my early 20s is definitely different than my secret today. I’d argue that my current secret is much juicier given that I’m both fit and healthy today vs. just being fit (and not very healthy) years ago.
Without question, my approach to health and weight loss has evolved over the years given new research that has shaped my perspective and opinion.
My years of experimenting and gaining knowledge have led me to a formula of healthy habits that I can say with confidence have allowed me to not only lose extra weight I was holding onto, but also sustain a healthy weight effortlessly – all while gaining back my health.
Check out my top 4 healthy habits for effortless weight loss and better health …
4 ways to effortless weight loss & better health
#1: 7-9 HOURS OF QUALITY SLEEP
Research suggests that 7-9 hours of quality sleep is the ideal dose for feeling good and functioning optimally the next day (although we’re all wired different and some people do report feeling better with less sleep).
According to Chinese medicine, it’s not only how much sleep you get that matters, but also when you get it. The window from 11 PM – 3 AM (which correlates to the liver and gallbladder) is most important in terms of maintaining health, especially as we age. A bedtime of 10:30 PM is recommended so that you are asleep by 11 PM when the liver and gallbladder start to regulate qi (energy), process emotions, balance hormones and detoxify the body – all key players in weight loss.
If you’re a night owl, it may not be realistic to fall asleep by 11 PM in one or two attempts, but small steps can get you closer to this optimal window. Try heading to bed 30-minutes earlier and slowly build on that number over time.
In addition to the above, the quality of your sleep is equally important. 7-9 hours of interrupted sleep (e.g. waking up 5 times to pee then another 3 times because of your snoring partner) probably isn’t going to lead to that “well-rested” feeling the next day.
Sleep should be uninterrupted, deep and in ideal bedroom environment – no artificial lights, room temperature on the cool side, cell phone off or in airplane mode to avoid EMFs, etc.
#2: ONE NUTRIENT-RICH SMOOTHIE A DAY
Let’s face it, life is a chaotic mess most of the time and it’s not always realistic to get 3 healthy meals down the pipe.
Smoothies are a simple, affordable and realistic way to obtain the nutrients your body needs to function optimally, making weight loss and maintenance effortless. They have played a large role in my health journey which is why they made it to my top 4. Learn more about my perfect health smoothies here.
I suggest replacing your weakest meal with an easy nutrient-rich smoothie. For most people, breakfast tends to be the weak link given the rush to get to work and/or get the kiddies ready for school.
Most convenient breakfast foods (ie. high-sugar cereals, yogurts, muffins, granola bars, bagels, etc.) don’t put your body into an optimal state to conquer the day. These nutrient-void “foods” often leave you searching for the next convenient, high-sugar food in order to keep your sugar burning body from collapsing on the office floor.
Replacing one nutrient-void meal with a nutrient-dense smoothie that contains quality protein, healthy fats, and smart carbohydrates (in the right ratios) can make a world of a difference. It truly is a simple step towards weight loss and better health.
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#3: INTERMITTENT FASTING
Have you ever tried a 12-16 hours fast? Most of us already practice 12-16 hour fasting without even realizing it.
These short and easier fasts are a great opportunity for your body to tap into existing fat stores and focus energy on clean-up and repair of cells (instead of digestion). So, not only is it helpful for weight loss, but also healing your body.
For some, this may sound like the impossible, but it’s actually a lot simpler than you think.
Here’s an easy way to implement a 12-hour fast:
1) Finish eating your last meal (dinner) between the hours of 6-8 PM (no snacks after dinner, just water or herbal teas if desired).
2) The next day, eat breakfast no sooner than 12 hours from your last meal (if you finished eating dinner at 7 PM, you would have your breakfast at 7 AM). If your dinner hour is earlier or later just adjust your breakfast to 12 hours from that time.
Once a 12-hour fast becomes easy, you can start bumping up the hours between dinner and breakfast until you reach 16 hours. Intermittent fasting can be done as often as you like (or your body allows). Start with 2-3 times per week.
Do you usually eat something soon after waking up? It may take some time and practice to recondition your body to not want/need food upon waking, especially if it’s been a long-standing habit. Try satisfying your hunger with a large glass of water, black coffee or green tea first. This can be an effective way to reduce hunger so you can extend your fasting time.
#4: 20-MINUTE MORNING WALK OR MOVEMENT ROUTINE
Did you know that your body is in fat-burning mode the minute you get out of bed? You can easily amplify the amount of fat stores you burn from your body by adding in a light walk or movement routine first thing in the morning.
Give this a try … Before eating breakfast, head outside for a light 20-minute walk. No jogging, speed walking or anything that jacks up the heart rate – just light movement.
If going outside isn’t an option because of cold weather conditions, I recommend the following:
• Use an indoor cardio machine (treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical, rower), if you have one. Just remember to keep the intensity low for 20-minutes.
• Pull out a yoga mat and do some easy sun salutations and stretches for 20-minutes (check out an easy morning flow here).
Aim for 2-3 times per week to start. Once that becomes easy and habit-like, increase to 3-4 times per week and so on.
I usually do a light walk or movement routine in conjunction with my 12-16 hour fast – it’s a powerful fat burning combo!
Is your morning routine already packed with a long list of things-to-do, so even 20-minutes seems like the impossible? Before you write-off walking or movement completely, try fitting in your walk during lunch hour or after dinner. OR join a yoga class after work or dinner. Movement is medicine for the body (and calories burned) no matter what time of the day you decide to do it.
I hope you found this article helpful. Feel free to reach out to me in the comment section below.
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