diet exerciseDiet is the single, greatest factor in weight loss and one’s overall health. Laura was a Las Vegas showgirl who taught me all about diet and fitness. I met her in the gym where she worked out and also managed a small shop that sold sexy, gym clothes (leotards, etc). A great thing about Vegas is that it’s open 24-7, and that includes the gyms. I was in the habit of working out before beginning my shift at 8pm, and then again after work at 4am with an hour or so of cardio, a steam, and a cold beer at the gym bar (smoothies and beer, no hard stuff served), before heading off for home and bed. The sun would be coming up glorious behind the surrounding red rock mountains.

The daily StairMaster was my bag, but Laura preferred the 90 minute aerobics classes, 5 days a week, with the thobbing music and dance moves. The classes were behind a glass wall beside the big-screen lounge area and bar so you could watch the girls as you munched, swigged, and relaxed. The lounge and bar area filled up with men during the 5pm aerobics classes, and most of the men were watching Laura.

She was a “drop-dead” gorgeous, Libra, and I have actually seen grown men trip on the curb as they tried to walk and watch her at the same time. Long legs, tiny waist, flaring hips, washboard abs, beautiful face, beautiful plastic boobs, and a radiant, easy smile, she liked to wear skin-tight, thin, cotton dresses and no underwear. You could not “pinch an inch” anywhere on her body. A nymphomaniac who believed that sex was healthy (a great way to burn calories) – her personalized license plates read “Witchy”. She was an emotonal “basket-case”!

Totally narcissistic and obsessed, her life was one of physical and mental (if not moral) self-control, and she shared with me her encyclopedic knowledge of diet, exercise, sex, and the other “sacrifices” required to manage one’s weight. She was an authority on health and fitness. She had subscriptions to glamour, celebrity, health, and food magazines – not for the gossip but for recipes, dieting tips, and information on physical exercise and routines. And, she read them all, and dog-eared pages for later reference. She knew how many calories were in a tortilla, carrot, or 4 ounces of tuna fish.

I shared an apartment with her for two years, and I learned her secret. She counted EVERY calorie. She chewed gum (sugarless) day and night because it burned a couple extra calories. She jogged in place while talking on the phone, and around the apartment while doing housework, etc. She never ate sweets, except for one (1) candy bar a week. She would take one small bite a day leaving it in the fridge. She was a coffee-holic and drank it throughout the day. She never drank milk, but lots of diet Sprite. She took vitamins, and never did drugs or drink, but she had a doctor’s prescription for Synthroid to keep her metabolism revved. She weighed herself once a day.

She ate only once a day (lunch) in a restaurant, usually Chinese, ordering beef and broccoli. She had to have broccoli everyday. And, because she never snacked, she could give you an exact calorie count at any time. Without a doubt, Laura lived with hunger, but she never mentioned it. It was the price she had decided to pay.

She was the most physically perfect person I’ve ever met, which translated into a pure biological, sub-conscious, and irresistible sex appeal. Beautiful, neurotic Laura demonstrated to me the discipline and will-power needed to control weight by diet, exercise, and above all counting calories.

Controlling weight is skill power, and not just willpower. If you want a better choice of foods in your diet, keep better foods within reach. Control portions by using smaller bowls and plates. Turn off the TV, it packs on the pounds. Cut out regular sodas and sweetened fruit drinks. Include lots of healthy vegetables with every lunch and dinner. Besides being so nutritious, they fill you up. Use non-fat or low-cal milk, yogurt, and cheese. Go meatless a couple nights a week. Whole wheat pasta primavera with bunches of colorful vegetables instead of meat and potato. Stop eating in front of the TV or computer. You can add hundreds of calories while mindlessly munching.

Exercise daily. Two and a half hours a week of moderate intensity aerobics is recommended. This includes brisk walking. Add body building activities (weights or machines) two or more days a week. Cut your intake of saturated fats. Studies show that you can trim belly fat by eating less of the saturated fats found in butter, cheese, meat, and ice cream. Eat healthier fats, such as olive, peanut, sunflower, safflower, canola, avocado, grapeseed, flaxseed, and walnut oils. They’re better for your arteries and your waist.

Replacing carbohydrates with a moderate amount of protein may help reduce that spare tire. For example, have just one cup of brown rice (instead of the regular l 1/2cups) with a serving of skinless chicken or salmon and a generous helping of veggies for dinner.

Add more whole grains to your diet. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered that adding whole grains to your diet decreased belly fat in both obese women, and men. Whole grains include wholewheat bread and pasta, brown rice, corn tortillas, and popcorn.

Manage your stress. Persistent stress can increase belly fat in adolescents, and adults. Take time to relax and chill-out when you can. Several deep breaths in a exasperating moment can work wonders.

Obese adults have a 10 to 20 percent increased risk of death from all causes compared to individuals with a health weight. The increased risk of an unhealthy diet is due primarily to cardiovascular causes, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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