As many of you know, the last few months I have been focused on reclaiming my health and my joy. I saw one of those obnoxious ads on Facebook offering a free weight loss challenge and now here I am, down a total of 31.6 lbs from when I first started and I feel fantastic.
I went into the challenge thinking that I knew everything I needed to know about my body, but wow, did I learn a whole lot more. I’m convinced that there’s so much more to learn.
We are now into the last two weeks of the challenge and it’s time to buckle down. Here are 10 legal hacks for the FFL 6-Week Challenge that I learned from round one and the first four weeks of round two.
10 LEGAL HACKS FOR THE FFL 6-WEEK CHALLENGE
- Cut the Carb Column. I’m not suggesting you never eat these again, but if you’re looking for a way to boost success, this could be huge. If you’re not quite ready to cut it completely, reserve the carbs for the morning and afternoon, and none for dinner to see how you do. Double your vegetable intake to help make up for this, preferably with the ones at the top of the list, and use a healthy oil (avocado, olive, coconut oil) to cook with (in moderation.)
- Watch Your Sodium. Ditch table salt altogether and opt for sea salt or mineral-rich pink Himalayan salt. Costco carries this for $3-4 along with their spices. You still need some sodium, but make sure the sodium you use is a good quality one. You might also consume half a banana or half an avocado before a workout for both energy and to balance out the sodium (these are high in potassium).
- Up Your Dark Leafy Greens Intake– Like spinach, Swiss chard and bok choy. These are high in potassium and other minerals which will help balance out the sodium and reduce water retention. They are also great for reducing inflammation. I also use Amazing Grass greens to add to my protein smoothies.
- Drink More Water. I’m not suggesting you drown in water, I mean, a gallon is a lot already, but drink some extra if you notice you’re retaining more water than normal. Standing or sitting for long periods of time at a job can cause water retention so drink a little extra if you’re in this category.
- Roasted Dandelion Tea – Helps reduce inflammation and it tastes like weak coffee to me.
- Double-Up – Get in extra workouts throughout the week. You may need to utilize supplements if you’re having a hard time making it through your workout. You might also do workouts on your own, ride your bike, take a walk, or go to another gym to supplement some cardio. It’s crunch time. If you really want to make it, use your spare moments to exercise instead of watching your favorite show.
- Consume Protein After Working Out – Drink a protein shot or consume some other form of lean protein after working out, at least 20g.
- Get Sleep – You need time to recover or you will not get results. Trust me on this one. Get 8-9 hours of sleep every night.
- REST on Sunday – When you work out, your muscles will hold onto some water from the body’s normal inflammation response to working out. Resting will give your body the opportunity to recover and release the fluids.
- Supplements – SEE BELOW
- Curcumin/Turmeric with High Curcuminoids 95% – Curcumin, which is a component of turmeric, is fantastic for its anti-inflammatory properties. The supplement must also contain black pepper for efficacy.
- Green Tea – Green tea is high in flavonoids, and contains EGCG and caffeine which can boost metabolism. You can drink green tea or use a green tea extract. I personally use green tea extract before my workouts to give me that extra boost. Matcha is also a fantastic way to get green tea in, and can be easily added to protein smoothies.
- Cod Liver Oil – A good cod liver oil supplement is a great way to get your omega 3 fatty acids. It will help decrease inflammation, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Other good sources for omega 3 fatty acids comes from consuming fish 2-3 times a week, like salmon. These also contain good levels of potassium.
- Magnesium – I use an ionic magnesium spray due to my inability to process synthetic folic acid, but there are some fantastic SNAC supplements that can help you get in some magnesium, including ZMA and ZMA-5 (I wouldn’t suggest taking ZMA-5 with an SSRI unless you ask your doctor about it first). Magnesium has soooo many benefits, but it helps to calm down the nervous system, leading to less anxiety and less production of cortisol; a stress hormone that inhibits fat loss. If you add zinc to the mix, zinc helps to detoxify inflammatory biomarkers and boosts immune function. The “5” in ZMA-5 is an added amino acid called 5-HTP, which has the extra benefit of being a mood-enhancer as well as an appetite suppressant. Ask your trainer about these.
- Amino Acids – L-Arginine coupled with L-Glutamine before bedtime has been super helpful for me. (I also take 5-HTP which is found in the ZMA-5.) SNAC produces a supplement containing both L-Arginine and L-Citrulline Malate (and some other goodies) that will help raise nitric oxide levels when taken before a workout. The SNAC supplement contains important antioxidant components to help neutralize free radicals that are produced as a result of working out. You can ask your trainer about these too.
BONUS – Pay attention to how you respond to food.
This one is a little harder to do if you’ve never done it before, but start logging your food and pay attention to how you feel after eating certain foods. Do you feel sluggish? Tired? Gross? Joint pain? Headaches? Blah? You might have a food sensitivity that’s triggering inflammation. Try cutting it.
Just Before Your Final Weigh-In
WARNING – THESE ARE FOR BEING JUST SHORT OF GOAL, AND NOT ENCOURAGED UNLESS YOU NEED A SLIGHT LAST MINUTE BOOST TO PUT YOU OVER 20 FOR THE LAST WEIGH-IN.
- If you’re still retaining water and have access to a sauna, use it. I drive to the workout in a hot car without AC, about the same effect. Limit fluid intake until after you weigh, but do not under any circumstances dehydrate yourself.
- Stop by for a morning weigh-in even if you can’t work out (but do return later to work out!) You can fluctuate by a couple pounds throughout the day.
- Get most of your fluids in early, and quit a few hours before weigh-in so your body has time to eliminate. Just one cup of water weighs about half a pound!
- If you can get in one more workout without needing a lot of water, you could lose a pound or more from shedding water.
- Don’t eat a large meal before weighing in.
- Wear your lightest workout clothes.
Do you have other tips besides these 10 legal hacks for the FFL 6-Week Challenge? Let me know!
Are you reading this and ready to lose the weight for good? Join me at Fit For Life for the next 6-Week Challenge starting mid-August! Ask me about orientation!