A Healthy New Year: Myths and Mantras for 2008

Now that the new year is upon us, many of us can't even look in the mirror without thinking how much weight we've gained over the holidays.

Some fat over here, some fat over there and voila -- our expensive wardrobe does not fit us anymore.

In light of this revelation, we have two choices: either replace the $5,000-plus wardrobe, or get back on a regimen that takes off the weight in the region that we are trying to make leaner, smaller and more attractive. For gentlemen, of course, this means attaining the all-admired six-pack abdominals. For ladies, this means thinner arms, hips and legs.

So now you find yourself standing in front of the mirror, deliberating over what your final decision will be. Which option will you choose? It's hoped the second. But even with this healthy choice, there are issues that you need to be aware of.

Myths You Need to Know About

Myth No. 1: It takes only two weeks to get back to the stage where you were before.

Sorry, it could take twice as long to lose that extra weight as it did to gain it. A healthy weight loss is not more than between 1 to 2 pounds per week. Anything more than this will be gained back over time -- and will likely have a negative effect on your cardiovascular system to boot. This is because a yo-yo effect in dieting is known to create additional stress on your heart.

Myth No. 2: I can eat whatever I want, as long I eat small portions.

Our body needs nutrients to function, and eating 100 percent processed foods does not give you those nutrients. You need to know what foods you need to increase and what foods you need to avoid. Too little food overall puts your body into a starvation mode. Yes, you will be losing weight but will drive yourself insane at the same time; ever notice the mood swings of crash dieters?

Instead of going overboard, try to find a way to eat so that you feel satisfied but start to listen to your body to know when enough is enough.

Myth No. 3: I can just focus on nutrition and say no to exercise.

Great, and what is happening then? You'll find out once summer rolls around and it is time to put on the bathing suit. Yes, you might have lost a few pounds over here or over there. Yet you have not shaped your body. In short, you have not developed your body into a lean-looking appearance so that you feel comfortable walking by the pool or by the beach in your bikini or swimming trunks. So yes, exercise needs to be a part of it.

It may sound like hard work, and it is. Face it: You know what you have done the last couple of weeks. Yes, we won't go into what you should have avoided but rather what can you do right now to reverse the bloating and the sluggishness in your body.

Solutions to Implement

Solution No. 1: Replace processed foods with "living" foods.

No, I don't mean live fish or snails. Rather, I refer to greens, such as mesculin salad, green, yellow or orange peppers, or nuts such as almonds, sunflower seeds or cashews. You must understand that cooked food, such as stuffing, cookies or fried potatoes do not have the necessary enzymes that our metabolism requires to work efficiently. First, start increasing quality food, and next look toward the possibility of a moderate and healthy supplement program.

Solution No. 2: Increase your protein intake while decreasing your saturated fats.

All right, enough with the steak. At its worst, steak is about 30 percent to 40 percent fat. Chicken is 4 percent to 5 percent fat -- 11 percent if you leave the skin on. With fish, it varies. But eating more fish allows you to cover your omega 3s as well.

In short, replace your inefficient protein with protein that has the most benefit to your weight loss. Increase your fish intake. You know and I know that omega 3s and 6s don't just help our memory, but our skin, hair, nails and mood swings as well.

Solution No. 3: Know thy carbs.

Ah, you knew we'd get around to carbs. So, which ones are right, and which ones are wrong?

Very simply, the carbs you eat need to be nonprocessed and as close as possible to the earth. Remember, by eating foods that are as close as possible to the earth, you will receive all the nutrients and fiber that aid in any kind of weight-loss program. Hence, you can say yes to bread if it is whole grain bread. Yes to rice if it is brown rice. Yes to pasta if it is whole-wheat pasta. Still, don't go overboard. The amount of these foods you eat is still important as well.

Take Control

Those are just a few solutions that you can implement. There are many more that I would like to educate you about, but space doesn't permit it, which is actually just fine, because the right information needs to come at the right time and in a quantity that you can absorb and implement.

In short, the most important message here is that you are the one who needs to make your body your business. After all, if it's not you, who else will take care of your appearance?

Be in control, and set out to accomplish the goals that you have given yourself. And remember, you have the right -- and the responsibility -- to take care of yourself.

Stefan Aschan is the owner and founder of www.stefanaschan.com, which provides nutrition and exercise programs online and on site in New York City. For more on his Nutritional Mental Detox Insider Circle program, visit http://www.mentaldetox.strength123.com.