by Jay Villaverde

Do you ever wonder why every diet you try fails? It's because they target the wrong problem. Diets focus on treating a symptom (weight gain) rather than providing what your body needs to naturally maintain its weight. What happens next? Yep! You lose weight temporarily only to gain it back again later. Is it lack of will power? No!

Have you heard the phrase "it's all in your head?". Well, there's much truth to that. Overeating is a result of a lack of neurotransmitters in the brain. When the neurotransmitters are missing (when there is an imbalance), your body tries to replace them with something else...food. Usually the problem is that we don't eat the right foods to bring up the levels of neurotransmitters to the point where we don't end up overeating. Most people trying to lose weight go on some type of diet program but very often DO NOT stay with a diet because the stress they experience trying to stay on the diet, is too much for them to handle. Why is that? The body gets most of the nutrients the manufacturing cells need to keep the opiod (neurotransmitter) levels normal in foods such as milk, cheese and other dairy products. Since we often eliminate these types of food when we diet, so we can lose weight, we are also eliminating the very foods our bodies MUST HAVE to keep the stress cycle from starting. What you have is a viscous cycle of your body craving certain foods and you depriving your body of those foods. Certain amino acids provide nutrients, lost by depriving yourself of those foods, that aid in restoring normal nutritional balances in the brain. This in turn can prevent you from overeating in the first place. Without getting too "scientific", here are a few of the essential amino acids that aid in losing weight.

is an amino acid used by the body to synthesize dopamine and nor epinephrine.
D-phenylalanine increases the levels of endorphins and encephalin.
L-tyrosine and l-glutamine are amino acids used by the body to synthesize dopamine and Gamma Amino Butyric Acid (GABA), respectively.
L-arginine and l-ornithine facilitate production of muscle, not fat.
L-carnitine helps mobilize surface fats.
Chromium helps to lessen the competition of these specific amino acids to cross the blood brain barrier and is also thought to enhance the action of insulin which facilitates glucose (blood sugar) and amino acids into muscle tissue.

These, along with other vitamins and minerals, conveniently deal with the deficiencies resulting from poor eating habits or inadequate diet. By giving your brain what it needs, you will NOT need to go on some insane diet that may do more harm than good. Therefore...Stuff your brain, not your face!
Jay Villaverde is the owner of All Natural Alternatives. A website dedicated to finding all natural alternative ways of improving your life without drugs, side affects or expensive therapy. For free articles, tips, advice and supplements, visit his site at: www.AllNaturalAlternatives.com

by Renee Kennedy

In order to lose weight and become healthier, you will need to plan a diet that you can stick to. Your diet plan is not a crash diet that you will give up after two weeks; it should be a LIFESTYLE change. Your diet changes must be reasonable or you will not be able to stick to them. That's why making a few subtle changes to your eating and exercise habits may help you develop a healthy diet plan that will, in turn, help you lose weight. Sometimes, the littlest things make the biggest difference.
Look at your diet patterns and decide if there are some nasty patterns that you can break. For instance, are there certain times of day when you just have to have a candy bar?
Or are there certain times of day when you can't go without that bag of chips?
Think about what you can reasonably give up or even better what can you replace with healthier food choices.
Here are some little habits that you might consider changing. The key is, you are breaking a BAD habit and instilling a GOOD habit in its place. This should be a PERMANENT change. Ask yourself, "Can I maintain this change for the rest of my life?"


Do you eat out everyday for lunch? Start to bring your lunch to work at least 4 days a week. Even stopping by McDonald's twice a week can have a big impact on your diet. When you cook at home, you know what's going into your food.


When you're thirsty, choose drinks that don't have any calories (water, tea, or diet soft drinks). If your drink choices do have calories, they should have nutrients.
Alcohol and soda both contain useless calories.


Do you have a certain time of day that you just HAVE to snack? Fill your cupboard and refrigerator with low calorie snacks. Get rid of those high carbohydrate and sugary snacks.


Maybe your hardest time of day is when you sit down to have a big meal. While you're cooking, eat a healthy snack - like a piece of fruit or a few low calorie crackers. Cook only what you will eat (no leftovers). If you make more than you're supposed to eat, serve from the stove, and put leftovers away before you sit down to eat. In other words, do not have extra food sitting in front of you on the table. Do you know that a meat serving should be only as big as a deck of cards?

Exercise MUST be a part of your daily routine: When you're shopping, park your car far away from the store. Plan for this and do it EVERY time - especially in the cold weather! (The colder it is, the more calories you will burn.) Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Play a game of hide-and-seek with your kids. When you take the dog for a walk, make it a brisk walk. Can you find some way to sneak in some exercise everyday? Look carefully at your routines and plan something that you don't mind doing.       


 by Connie de Veer, MFA, CPCC

What happened? It was all so clear to me a month ago --- I was sure I could be satisfied at 9 pm with a half an apple and my last, preciously guarded bread exchange, patiently watching the poundage drop off at a sensible 1.5 pounds a week, eyes on the target, firm of resolve; clear of mind. Then, late one afternoon, that little inner voice says “I WANT COOKIES!... No, I mean I REALLY want cookies. I’m not hungry, I just want cookies...and I want them NOW!!!  That firm resolve that was so clear and present yesterday is nowhere to be found. I can’t seem to recall what I thought was so darned important that I had to deny myself that simplest of pleasures --- cookies and milk. I look in the mirror and say to myself, “for a middle-aged woman you’re not so bad. Besides, why are you trying to be a svelte sex-goddess at your age, anyway? You should be secure enough that you can accept yourself, no matter what size you are.” (blah-blah-blah!)

Can you relate? This scenario has played itself out in my life more times than I care to recall. But recently, I finally had enough, and used the skills I use to coach other people to success, to jump start my own weight loss plan and re-boot my resolve. And it worked! Now I want to spread the news! Here are the coaching techniques I used to get off the diet merry-go-round and lose weight. And you can do it, too!

A.  Envision your goal. If you’re vague about where you’re heading and why you want it, you won’t get there! So, write out (or, if you hate to journal, speak it into a tape recorder, or speak it to a friend, who’ll write it down for you), a beautiful, blissful, perfect, 100% satisfaction, no limits, no negative self-talk picture of what you want to achieve in your eating habits. Be as specific as possible, and use as many sensory details as you can come up with.

B.  IMPORTANT NOTE: Make this fun!! When you have a clear idea of what you want, the how-you-get-there piece gets easier and clearer. If your resolve starts to wane throughout your journey, take this out and read it again.
Complete the following statements to stimulate your thinking:
• I want to feel ________
• I see myself __________
• I am “having”…”being”…”doing”…____________

Food Association Journal Set aside about a half an hour for this. Take inventory of all the associations you have with food. Sit down and write it all out. The good, the bad, and the ugly! Let your unconscious mind and your imagination go nuts with this one. Draw pictures even, if you want to! But get down on paper, every attitude, belief, opinion, love, and hate that shows up when you think about or have anything to do with food.
Example: “Food is Mom! The smell of meatloaf, corn, and baked potatoes, when I came in from playing as a kid.” or “Food is bad --- It tempts me at every turn and I have no control over it!”

Values Assessment. Take a look at your Food Association Journal and from it, pull out as many things that you value, deem really important, must have, and love about food. Write them down. (Bear in mind that when coaches refer to values, we don’t mean what you think you should think is important, or what someone else thinks is valuable. Values in this context refer to those things that aren’t either “right” or “wrong.” Like emotions, they just “are.”) For example:
Fresh / colorful / vibrant / nourishing celebratory /social / seasonal rituals / family
How will you honor those values on your healthy eating plan? (So you ENJOY this journey, and don’t feel deprived or “punished!”)

Start – and stick with – a food journal. Create a plan for what you’re going to eat, and then write down everything you do eat, even when it deviates from the straight and narrow path. WRITE IT ALL DOWN! Awareness of a habit is MOST of the solution. And you might be surprised when you tally up whatever units you’re counting (calories, fat grams, etc.) It may be less than you think, and then you’ll be less likely to throw the towel in on your whole goal.

Craving Antidotes.  Make a list of at least 10 antidotes you can call forth when you’re hit with a food craving. Things like:
• Re-read your vision
• A picture (from a magazine, drawing, photo, etc.) that captures the feeling and look of what you want to achieve. (Mine is a woman, about my age and coloring, in a cool turquoise swimsuit, enjoying the beach!)
• A mantra, or affirmation that calls forth your inner strength and resources.
• Activities you can choose instead of eating: For example, a hot bubble bath, an invigorating walk, call a friend, read a juicy novel…

Get back in your body! That’s right. We often disassociate from our bodies by turning our attention to analyzing, judging, planning, or otherwise medicating (with food, drugs, alcohol, and other repetitive thoughts and behaviors) in an attempt to avoid being present in the everyday struggles of life. The body is an undeniable reminder of where we’ve been and where we’re headed! It’s our bodies that show the effects of time, stress, and the choices we’ve made in a visible and concrete way. So, crafty, adaptable animals that we are, we’ve learned to escape by “going into our heads,” so to speak. Well, now it’s time to call yourself back home to your body!
Set aside some quiet time to be alone and undistracted. Check in with your body. Notice what it feels like to inhabit this body. Ask yourself the following questions:

•Where does my energy feel sluggish, or stuck? Be specific. Your body knows, if you give it a chance to “speak.”
•What am I hungry for (other than food --- like love, appreciation, justice, etc.), and how will I choose to get it?
• What food does my body want/need right now? And what choice will I make?
• How do I want to feel, in my body? Be as specific as possible. For example, “I want to feel light in my knees, and free and unencumbered in my lower abdomen.”

Expect obstacles and relapses now and then. I promise you, they will happen. But get the big picture – one little slip up (or even two or three...) does not mean your goal is doomed. Weight fluctuates. Period. Whether you’re trying to lose or gain, your mostly fluid body will ebb and flow. You are not a victim of your humanity! You can choose whether to stay stuck, or get back on track.

Take the scenic route I don’t know about you, but for me, I wanted to change my eating habits for life, and I certainly didn’t want to spend my life feeling deprived!! So I decided to consciously choose what I call, “Pauses on the scenic route,” --- You know, like when you decide to take longer to get to the Grand Canyon so you can stop periodically and really soak in the scenery? I decided to give myself permission to deviate from my eating plan now and then. My only rules were:
• Enjoy every delectable morsel!
• Make it REALLY good quality and something I really love and want!
• Get right back on the program after I enjoy the “Scenic Lookout”
• No bingeing

This also means I didn’t lose the classic 1.5 – 2 pounds a week. So what! It means that I am in control, at choice, and am not a slave to my (former!) addiction to food.

 Connie de Veer, MFA, CPCC may be contacted at http://www.cdvcoaching.com

by Randy Mclean

1. The first step you should take is to adopt healthier eating habits. Not only will you gain more food volume this way but you can use natural low calorie seasonings such as onions to improve the taste. This is proven for long term health and fat loss while removing the strain of dieting itself.

2. When preparing meat, always trim the fat off of it. Or if it is something like chicken, remove the skin. If that is too bland chop it up and add it to something like rice!

3. Find someone to 'report' to. People tend to be more dedicated when they know after a week or two they need to check in with someone. Find someone to walk with for example, a close friend or even a diet buddy. Share your goals! Trying to do things on your own can sometimes be a lot harder.

4. Write down what you eat and stick with it. You'd be surprised at how many extra things you might be eating if you don't write your menu down. Either plan ahead with your food intake or start keeping a food journal just to see!

5. If you must fry things, use a non-fat cooking spray. This will save you many calories versus cooking with oil. For example, one tablespoon of cooking oil contains 120 calories! Whereas a 2.4 second spray of PAM contains only 16 calories.

6. Don't ever give up! Never view yourself as a failure. The only time you fail is when/if you quit. It may take more research or a different approach but it 'will' happen. Statistics show that most people do not succeed their first time trying. Nothing can take the place of persistence! Not intelligence, not talent, nothing! Everything else is secondary.

7. Remember that diet and exercise are a 50/50 ratio. If one or the other is missing you will be less likely to succeed! You can exercise until you pass out but if you are taking in too many calories you won't see dramatic changes in your appearance, and if you don't exercise, your body will more likely use muscle for energy rather than fat. Aerobic exercise burns fat! Starvation eats up muscle!

8. Concentrate on fat loss, not weight loss. Your appearance is what counts, not how much you weigh. Since muscle is heavier than fat you might be surprised! And remember, muscle burns calories! So eat regularly and don't skip meals. If you wait more than 4 hours your metabolism starts to slow down.

9. Women tend to gain fat around the glutes and thighs. Men gain it on their stomach and around the waist. The reason is due to a lack of circulation in those areas. Fat is not taken into the bloodstream as efficiently as other areas. That is why besides a long term fat loss program, fat burning agents such as ephedrine help. Blood thinning agents such as aspirin also help. But make sure to read the labels, instructions and warnings before using any supplement!

10. The real key to losing weight is consistency. If you start missing meals or skipping workouts your progress will slow down to the point of discouragement. How bad do you want it? Find a good program and stick with it. Remember, you get out of it what you put into it!

Randy Mclean may be contacted at http://www.weightlossguidance.com


by Namita Nayyar

Having established that your body needs a well balanced diet, with a good supply of carbohydrates, especially high - fiber foods, water vitamins and minerals, and a certain amount of protein, fat and bacteria, you need to know how to put it into practice. Much media attention is focused on foods that one should not have, yet there has been very little to tell women how they can use food to enhance their life rather than make it more difficult. Forget the labels; every figure is relative and food manufacturers are frequently very selective about what they tell you, making your task of deciding what is right for you an impossible one. Instead build your choices on the following guidelines.


Before you put anything in your mouth, ask yourself three questions: Do I want it/ Do I like it/ Do I need it? If you want it and like it then go ahead and enjoy it, if you don’t why bother wasting the eating experience? Throw all the boring, unnecessary eating out of your life.
The worst thing you can do with food is to feel guilty about eating it. If you have eaten something that you know is not the healthier but you really fancied it or were in a situation where you didn’t have any choice, enjoy it an forget about it. Don’t beat yourself up with guilt. Guilt is a negative emotion, which is likely to lead you to bingeing on comfort foods. This can then get you into a negative sugar or salt cycle in which you eat more of these foods, which in turn makes you feel even guiltier. You might then decide it’s not worth continuing with you healthy eating lifestyle. It is always worth persevering. Remember that life is for living and food is there to help us, not hinder us.


This provides your body with a good source of vitamins, minerals and fiber, to maintain your body in peak condition to fight diseases. Fiber helps your food to move effectively through the body, keeps you feeling pleasantly full and satisfied and in control of your eating habits, and your energy levels steady.


This is usually made up of one main meal, a smaller snack or lunch-type meal and breakfast. You may, however, feel that you need two smaller snacks, such as a piece of fruit, a small sandwich or a piece of cake, in between two smaller meals. It all depends on your body rhythms. Meals should be based on carbohydrates, such as pasta, whole-meal bread, wholegrain cereals, rice or potatoes, along with fruits and/or vegetables. The main meal should include a source of lean protein, along with carbohydrate and plenty of vegetables and fruits.


Fish, shellfish, lean red meat, game, poultry, eggs or pulses meet your body’s protein requirements without overloading on fats.


You can use butter, olive oil, sesame oil or walnut oil to enhance the flavor of your food or for cooking, but do try to keep the quantity low.


Too much sugar disrupts your natural energy balance, and can cause headaches; mood swings and – if eaten in large quantities – sugar sensitivity problems such as hypoglycemia and diabetes mellitus. It is much better to get into the habit of using the natural sugars in fruits to provide sweetness.


This has far reaching benefits for all women of all age group.


Water helps the fiber in your food to swell and perform its duties. It also helps to metabolize other nutrients from your food, keep your skin and hair healthy and prevent your body from becoming dehydrated.


All such drinks contain caffeine, which inhibit the absorption of vitamins and minerals from the gut, causes your body to excrete vital nutrients and interferes with the fluid and energy balance mechanisms in your body. Caffeine also causes your body to be stimulated in an artificial way, which in the long run has the opposite effect of suppressing your performance and general feeling of well


A small pot of ‘bio’ yogurt a day should help to keep a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut. If you don’t like or are unable to eat live yogurt, seek the advice of your dietician


This helps to keep your gut functioning effectively. Regular eating helps your gut maintain a steady supply of digestive enzymes, which protects it from excess acid secretion and enables it to metabolize food in the most efficient way, to keep your energy level and moods on an even keel


Some drinks, especially young red wines such as Beaujolais, contain anti-oxidant vitamins and minerals, which can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers. Beers and Champagnes can also provide beneficial nutrients. Drinking can be a very pleasurable part of a healthy lifestyle, but drinking to excess can cause liver damage, mood and energy-balance problems. Try not to drink on an empty stomach as this can cause your blood sugar levels to crash.


The issue of whether you should eat proteins and carbohydrates at the same meal is one that regularly crops up in the media. Some diet consultants feel strongly that proteins and carbohydrates should be separated, and advocate that proteins should be eaten only with vegetables and fruit, not mixed with carbohydrates. Many people feel that their body functions better if they out this into practice; it is commonly known as food combining. From the physiological and nutritional viewpoint, proteins (meat, chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, nuts, and pulses) provide the body with amino acids, used as building blocks within muscles and other tissues. Carbohydrates provide energy and fiber. If you eat proteins on their own, without carbohydrate present, the protein can be broken down into energy, rather than used for building body tissue. Proteins also have other important functions to perform in maintaining body health and carbohydrates protect proteins, enabling them to fulfill these functions.
The choice is yours, but there is no physiological reasoning behind food combining. I believe that food is there to be enjoyed. Women should not have to agonize over whether they are ‘allowed’ to eat certain things at certain times.

Ms Namita Nayyar is president of www.womenfitness.net, a complete online guide for women to achieve healthy weight & optimum fitness.

By Randy Mclean

Okay, so you've read some of these articles, done your homework and now your finally ready, to begin a diet and exercise program. But you still have this one same nagging question in the back of your mind... 'Where in the heck do I start?'

Being lost in midst of all of these variables is not a hard thing at all. There is so much knowledge and guidelines out there that sometimes we don't know how to put it all together. Well today you are in luck!

Before we get into this, let me make one thing clear! You are doing the right thing! It is virtually impossible to know everything there is to know about diet and exercise. If everyone waited until they knew everything in order to get started no one would get started. What we first need to do is to construct a plan. Our plan will be simplified but will be enough to get you on the right track.

1. Set your goal(s).

If you don't know what you want or what you are doing you will be less likely to get where you want to go. You also will not have the same determination as you could have. If you don't have a picture of what you want in your mind you will be less motivated. Here are some sample questions you can ask yourself. How much weight do I want to lose? What exactly do I want to look like? Do I want a smaller waist? Do I want bigger arms? What measurements am I looking for? What sort of time frame am I looking at?
When you have done this it doesn't hurt to write your answers down to some of these questions as a reference for later. We as human beings can forget easily! Also, if you have to, record some of your current statistics that relate to your questions like measurements or your weight for example. Then you will have something to compare to and your results can be measured more effectively. Motivation aside, some will even take photographs of themselves. They are also great for motivation as well. In the future I will include articles on motivation.

2. Start to construct your menu along with the quantities.

For some this is the hard part since they don't know how much or how little food to take. I will help you and give you a few sample formulas. The most accurate guideline that I have found (and actually have used) over the years is to multiply your current bodyweight by 10. That's how many calories you should be taking in for the day. Also remember that your true weight is when you get up without any clothes on. So if you weigh 165 pounds for example you would be able to take in 1650 calories a day. Try it!
The second way to do it is to take a piece of paper and record everything you eat for three days. Then after you do that, get a calorie counter and total it up for each day. Add them together and then divide that number by 3. This will give you an average of the number of calories you usually would take in. Now you then subtract this number by 500 and that would be your caloric allowance for one day. Neat  huh?

3. Begin thinking of your exercise program.

While weight training is not a necessity it is highly recommended for permanent lasting results. But if inconvenience or a lack of interest is an issue then cardiovascular activity will do just fine! Though what we explored in my other article about weight training is definitely true, it possible by all means to meet your goals with aerobic exercise. As with your goals, ask yourself these questions...Do I like to exercise at home? How much time do I have or am willing to put into it? What types of exercise do I enjoy (eg. walking, stationary bike etc.)? What days am I available?

I will now share with you some quick guidelines concerning your cardio. In case you didn't know aerobic (meaning with air) exercise is the most beneficial for burning fat. Examples are swimming, jogging, brisk walking, running, stair climber etc. The easiest to do by far is the exercise bike and walking. To be effective, aerobic exercise must last at least 20 minutes in duration. It doesn't have to be strenuous at all. If you can't hold a reasonable conversation while you train you are working too hard. Your heart rate does not have to be elevated that high. Also, the opposite of aerobic is anaerobic meaning your are using more muscle power. Therefore, if you are on the bike and your legs start to burn release the tension a little bit. Gradually as your muscles become more tired it still takes the same lung power to move the pedals while using lighter resistance. Either way you win!

To start off, 20-30 minutes of cardio three times a week should do wonders for you. As long as you are consistent you will see results. Remember that most of the time it is not the exercise that is at fault but the person doing them or not doing them! Again, exercise does not have to be hard but consistent. I have tried to make these guidelines as easy as possible for you because when it comes down to it, we tend not to do the things we don't like or feel is too strenuous. There! This plan should be enough to get you started well on your way to meeting your fitness goals. Once you have the foundation laid down in this manner you can use other information you acquire to build upon it. Good luck and take it all the way!

Randy Mclean has a diploma in Fitness and Nutrition from Education Direct, a YMCA individual conditioning certificate and is the author of Instinct - Master Your Mind And Your Body! For free tips and tricks visit www.weightlossguidance.com