YOU Magazine - May 2007 - The Secret to Getting Fitter, Firmer, Faster
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Kathleen Petty     Kathleen Petty
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Alaska USA Mortgage AK#157293
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The Secret to Getting Fitter, Firmer, Faster

The Secret to Getting Fitter, Firmer, Faster

Everyone would like to be in good shape. Let's face it, who doesn't want to look good and be fit? The only problem is the path to a picture-perfect body is typically paved with deprivation dieting and endless exercising. As a result, most people throw in the towel, sit back on the couch with some chips, and kiss their bathing suit days goodbye.

Luckily, there's a hot new weight loss approach that promises maximum results with minimal effort and no deprivation…guaranteed. The program was developed by a husband-and-wife team; Dr. Larson is a bariatric (weight loss surgeon), and his wife, Ivy, is a fitness instructor certified with the American College of Sports Medicine.

Using their combined knowledge and experience, the Larsons created a program that revolves around whole foods, nutritional supplements, and thirty-minute workouts three times a week. These elements form the three basic principles of the Fitter, Firmer, Faster Program (2006, Health Communications), a new approach to weight loss without going to extremes.

Good Health with a Side Order of Weight Loss
Paving the way for their newest book was the Larsons' first collaboration, The Gold Coast Cure (2005, Health Communications), geared toward helping sufferers of 10 chronic conditions reverse their symptoms through diet and exercise. The Larsons monitored people with a variety of conditions – including MS, heart disease, arthritis, and other inflammatory diseases – who followed their recommendations and not only improved their health, but lost weight as a "side benefit". The average person on their program lost 7 ½ pounds and 4 ½ inches from their waist and hips in just 4 weeks!

Dr. Larson says their plan works because it allows people to eat until they are full and satisfied without restricting food intake. Their whole foods diet not only provides the nutrients necessary to curb food cravings and appetite, the diet and recommended supplements also reduce inflammation, which in turn helps to crank up the metabolism. Factor in the exercise program, which is designed to increase one's resting metabolism the energy equivalent of running 1 ½ miles a day, and the result is a fitter, firmer body…fast.

A Closer Look
Now that we've established the logic behind the program, let's take a closer look at exactly what it entails.

The Larsons' approach focuses on consuming whole foods, following a vitamin, mineral and essential fat regimen, and doing a time-efficient 30-minute/ 3-day-a-week exercise routine that combines interval training with resistance training.

"We try to get people away from the dieting mentality," Ivy says. "Instead of encouraging people to 'count their food', such as calories, carbs, or fat grams, we encourage people to make their food count nutritionally. The nutrients in the whole foods diet we recommend support a healthy metabolism, help curb food cravings, and reduce the inflammation and insulin resistance that thwarts fat burning. On our program, people lose weight without a low-calorie diet."

"We also add targeted nutritional supplements and an exercise program specifically designed to increase metabolism and reshape your body…something you can't get from the cardio-based workouts most people follow for weight loss. If you just rely on diet, you're going to end up looking like a smaller apple or pear. You're not going to reshape your body. The only way to increase your metabolism and reshape your body is with the right type of exercise."

The Next Steps
Prior to beginning any new weight loss or exercise program, it's important to consult with your physician. Once you have done so, you can begin to take steps to improve your health, your appearance, and your life!

Here are six weight-loss secrets from Fitter, Firmer, Faster to help you get on the fast track to weight-loss success:

1. Go Natural
It's important to consume an all-natural whole foods diet, one filled with unrefined, real foods packaged the way nature intended. Following a diet that consists of whole foods promotes weight loss and better health. Whole foods provide the right ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats, decreasing inflammation and increasing insulin sensitivity. This makes it easier for the body to burn fat for fuel. A whole foods diet is also rich in nutrients and fiber that help curb food cravings. In addition, you feel fuller on fewer calories…without having to count calories.

2. Seek Out Nutrients
Instead of counting calories, carbs, or fat grams, make your food count nutritionally. Focus on the nutrients in the foods you eat. Nutrient-rich foods curb cravings and prevent overeating. Foods rich in vitamin C, calcium, B-vitamins, essential fats, and chromium support a healthy metabolism and help your body burn fat for energy. A deficiency of certain nutrients, such as omega-3 essential fats, can actually slow your metabolism and make it more difficult to lose weight.

3. Forget About Fearing Fats
Eating some fat at every meal is very important for satiety because fat slows gastric emptying and delays hunger pangs. Fats are also important for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as certain antioxidants such as lycopene. And some fats, specifically the essential fats (the kind found in foods like fish, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, walnuts, edamame beans, and wheat germ), actually help the body burn fat for energy. Stick to essential fats or heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, such as avocados or extra virgin olive oil.

4. Go for Whole Carbs
Avoid carbohydrates made from refined flour or sugar, including bread, pastas, crackers, and other "white" processed foods. Instead opt for "whole food" carbohydrates, including potatoes, beans, corn, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and breads made from whole grains. (Ideally you should eat sprouted whole grain bread that does not contain any flour, but breads made with whole grain flour are also acceptable.) When purchasing packaged foods, check the nutrition label to make sure carbohydrates have at least 2 to 3 grams of fiber per 25 grams of carbohydrate – the more the better.

5. Exercise: Keep It Short But Intense
You'll get much better body-reshaping and fat-burning results if you follow a short but intense 30 minute, 3-day-a-week workout program. Specifically, one that combines interval training with resistance training. Try doing this program rather than the steady state, hour-long cardio routines (think treadmill running) most people try in an attempt to lose weight and get fit.

To get the most bang for your buck, incorporate both resistance training exercises (to boost metabolically active lean muscle mass), and short but intense 1-2 minute cardiovascular interval training exercises (such as jumping rope) to increase EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). Combining interval training with resistance training will increase your resting metabolism the energy equivalent of running 1.5 miles a day.

6. Indulge a Bit
Some "vice foods", like coffee, wine, and chocolate, actually offer health benefits. For example, coffee is rich in antioxidants and may reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and Parkinson's disease. Wine cleanses the arteries and has been shown to lower insulin levels and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. And, according to a 1997 study reported in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, moderate wine consumption does not interfere with weight loss. There's also sweet news for chocolate lovers! The cocoa in dark chocolate contains anti-aging antioxidants and anti-inflammatory polyphenols not typically found in other sweets (such as cake, cookies, and pie). The feel-good bottom line here is not to worry about indulging in a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, and a small sweet treat a day – the cheating could help you to stick with your healthy lifestyle and may even be good for you!

Speaking of indulgence, here are three tasty, healthy recipes from the Larsons' Fitter, Firmer, Faster Program.

Spring Quinoa Pilaf with Macadamia Nuts and Fresh Dill (Serves 6)

  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup diced carrots
  • 1 1/4 cup diced red onions
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Place macadamia nuts in a ziploc plastic bag. Transfer the bag of nuts to a cutting board and pound with a mallet to convert into "crumbs". Set nuts aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and onions, and sauté for several minutes until clear, yet crisp. Add the salt. Stir in the cooked quinoa, fresh dill, and macadamia nuts. Sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes.

Lemon-Peach Pie Smoothie (Serves 2)

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peaches
  • 1 cup silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt or kefir
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon raw honey

Place all ingredients into a blender, and whip until smooth and frothy. (About 1 minute.)

Sea Bass with Coconut Cream Sauce (Serves 4)

  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk (such as Thai Kitchen "Light Coconut Milk")
  • 1/2 cup all-natural creamy peanut butter
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 3 teaspoons good quality soy sauce (such as Kikkoman)
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 pound Chilean sea bass fillets

In a food processor or blender, combine the coconut milk, peanut butter, lime juice, ginger, soy sauce, and cayenne pepper. Process until smooth and creamy. Set aside. Heat the oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat; sauté the onion for 3-4 minutes, or until soft. Season the onion with salt to taste. Clear the onion to either side of the pan, and remove the pan from the heat. Season both sides of the sea bass fillets with salt and cayenne pepper. Place sea bass fillets in the center of the skillet, and sear for 4-5 minutes on each side. After searing the second side, add the sauce and bring to a boil. Flip the fish once, and cook 1-2 additional minutes. Serve immediately.

Fitter, Firmer, Faster
Follow the Fitter, Firmer, Faster Program and the Larsons say you'll see body-changing results in as little as 5-weeks…without going to extremes. The Gold Coast Cure's Fitter, Firmer, Faster Program is available at and through the Larsons' website:

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