Fit Family: New Year, New You!

Mike Levinson, fitness expert

Mike Levinson, personal trainer/fitness expert

by Mike Levinson

I have been a personal trainer and dietitian for over 20 years and let me tell you…I have seen it all.

We are well into the New Year and many realize that the 5 to 10 pounds they have put on since Thanksgiving has added to the already bulging gut.

I have the answers and secrets to start this year off right and to stick with it. The problem: Most people tell themselves they will begin a new “diet” and workout program in early January. The path to good fitness and health is paved with good intentions.

People traditionally begin their diets on the Monday after the New Year’s holiday. They’re really rearing to go. I have watched hundreds of people buy the next best diet program, magic pill or ab product.

Well, let me tell you what works and what does not work when it comes to losing body fat, getting in shape and feeling better. I work with many clients, who for the most part, want to lose weight, get fit, have more energy and feel younger.

So when it comes to starting a new diet for 2014 try this trick: eat the same food everyday. OK, I am sure your first reaction is the fear that you will be bored and tired of the same food at the same time everyday. You won’t–especially if you are seeing results.

It all comes down to seeing the results and changing your body.

People will stick to a program as long as they see positive results and the routine they are following is fairly easy. I recommend finding the right eating plan for you. Everyone is different, so trying to follow a diet plan that someone else is doing is like buying a size 9 shoe when you wear an 11. It doesn’t fit or make sense.

One important factor is to eat every 3 to 4 hours and to not skip a meal or snack. This is crucial to losing weight and keeping it off. I recommend eating a good-sized breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up. I believe in getting some healthy complex carbs in the morning. Some choices include whole wheat toast, oatmeal or high-fiber cereal (5 grams of fiber per serving). Be sure to also get some form of protein like egg whites, lean turkey or low-fat milk.

Eating a solid, filling breakfast is one big key to weight loss. I’m not exaggerating when I say most overweight people tend to skip breakfast. They tell me they are not hungry in the morning. Well, duh… No kidding! They are not hungry because they ate two-thirds of their calories at night. They awake still feeling full.

Eating the majority of calories at night is one of the worst things you can do. Instead, try eating a solid breakfast and then a small snack about three hours later. Examples of snacks include a small piece of fruit and one tablespoon of all-natural peanut butter or string cheese, a handful of nuts and small yogurt, high fiber pita bread with one slice of cheese and salsa. Three hours later it’s lunch time. Another three hours later grab another small snack, then three hours later it’s dinner time.

Here’s another big trick of effective weight loss. At dinnertime eat NO carbs. That means no pasta, potato, rice, bread or dessert. You can have veggies. Along with a big salad or stir fry (or steamed) veggies, have four to six ounces of lean protein: chicken breast, steak, fish or turkey. Stay away from ground meats or deep-fried meats. Use olive oil or canola oil. After dinner, have one piece of small fruit and you are done for the evening.

Chances are you will go to bed a little hungry but that’s OK. You will live and you will be fine. When you wake up in the morning you will be very hungry and look forward to your breakfast.

Well, that’s it — the simple secrets and tricks that fit people follow. I follow this plan and it works.

Good eating during your happier and healthier 2014!

Check out the original feature on Levinson’s book, Buff Dads.

Mike Levinson, a Calabasas resident, is a former amateur bodybuilding champion and registered dietitian who holds dual degrees in sports nutrition and physical education. He has worked extensively as a nutritionist with the California Angels baseball team and with famous athletes such as Charles Oakley, JT Snow and Sean Rooks. He also worked as a nutritionist for the Chicago Bears and the Oakland Raiders.  

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