In the world of health, we’re always looking for a quick fix. One magical pill, food, or tincture that will make it all better — help you lose weight, live longer, look better. There are thousands of products out there that claim just that. “Take two pills a day and you’ll [insert egregious health claim here]!” Though we may still be subconsciously looking for that one magic cure-all, our more rational minds tell us that it’s just not that easy. One supplement or food or herb is just not going to solve everything, but the good news is, there is a scientifically proven combination of factors that WILL promote a slimmer waist and healthy heart. And guess what? If you think about it, I’m sure you already know what it is.
The magic formula:
Healthy diet + targeted supplementation + regular movement = a healthier, happier, prettier you.
Of course, the debate about what qualifies as a healthy diet, what supplements actually work, and what amount of what type of movement to do still rages on.
To answer this age-old debate, I turn to a couple of sources. Science, anecdotal evidence, and common sense. Allow me to break it all up:
There is one “diet” out there that has been studied the most, and time and time again has come out as the healthiest way of eating, no matter who you are or what your health goals are. This way of eating has been around for thousands of years and science has backed it up with tons of studies. What is this miraculous way of eating? The Mediterranean diet. I hesitate to even call it a diet, because it isn’t. It’s just a way of naturally eating healthfully, all the time. Studies have shown that a diet high in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, healthy fats (like nuts, avocado, and olive oil), and low mercury fish lowers the risk of heart disease, cancer, and stroke, helps to maintain a healthy weight, prevents type 2 diabetes, and (lo and behold!) promotes healthier skin and hair. Better than high-animal protein and dairy diets, better than any low fat diet, better than calorie restriction diets, and better than any diet that promotes processed bars, powders, shakes, and freezer meals. Science just backs it up.
I’ve seen this proven over and over again both in my own body, and those of hundreds of my clients. I have people come to be after having tried everything: Weight Watchers, Atkins/South Beach, cleanses and detoxes galore. No matter what, after a short period of success, they bounce right back to having cravings, feeling crappy, and gaining weight. And this isn’t even taking into account what their blood work would show. But after a few months of transitioning into a healthy, more plant-based, Mediterranean way of eating, the pounds start coming off, their cravings are gone, they look awesome, their moods improve, the list goes on and on.
And it makes sense, right? Eating whole, fresh, plant-based foods and low mercury fish just sounds healthy, doesn’t it? Once you get over the carb and fat fear and the calorie counting, you’re actually able to appeal to your own common sense… Ohhhhh yeah, I guess eating some avocado on whole grain toast (300 calories on average) isn’t the same as eating a slice of pizza (also 300 calories on average). And ohhhh yeah, I guess eating more veggies and whole grains makes more sense than eating more meat and cheese.
So, in short (and I’m sure your common sense will concur):
- More actual veggies and fruit, less things made from veggies and fruit (powders, bars, etc.)
- More fish and beans, less meat and dairy
- More whole grains, less processed grains
- More healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil), less low-fat processed foods
- More awesome, fresh food, less crap that comes from a box or a bag.
Check out Dr. Michael Ozner’s book The Complete Mediterranean Diet, which is basically like the bible of Mediterranean eating, with over 500 recipes to get you started. I’m giving away a copy below!
For more on what to actually eat, check out What Do I Eat? It’s Easier Than You Think!
I have long been a major supporter of targeted supplementation as part of a healthy lifestyle (check out my Basic Supplement Guide). Will it save you if you eat like crap and don’t take care of your body? Of course not. But as part of this one-two-three punch, it will most certainly get you there. Now I have a ton of my favorite supplements that I recommend for a variety of health concerns and ailments, but if you want unquestionable scientific proof behind you, then the place to start us fish oil. There have literally been thousands and thousands of studies done (like this one) showing that fish oil supports heart health, lower cholesterol, and blood pressure.
Anecdotally, supplementing with fish oil has been shown to improve mood, stabilize hormones, decrease depression and anxiety, decrease the effect of stress on the body, and improve the quality of hair and nails. I’ve seen it in my own body, I’ve read about it in books, and I’ve seen it in my practice. It’s no joke!
And of course, our common sense takes us the rest of the way there. If all the studies show that eating low-mercury fish two times a week is awesome for our health, and if we are a bit lax about eating it that regularly, then naturally it makes sense to supplement, right? I mean, I love my fish, but I can’t guarantee that I’ll eat it twice a week, every week, for the rest of my life. Can you? So I love my fish oil supplements. I started taking them daily about 7 or 8 years ago, and haven’t stopped since. I took them throughout my pregnancy to support healthy development of my baby’s brain and eyes. I’m taking it while breastfeeding to improve the quality of nutrition in my breast milk. And I will keep taking it for the rest of my life.
BUT, and this is an important but, quality matters here. Not all fish oil is created equal. Many brands are contaminated with toxins, heavy metals, dioxins, and PCBs, and come from unhealthy fish raised in dubious circumstances. So it is 100% crucial to pick a fish oil brand that is third-party tested for purity. Though I was a little more lax with my fish oil before, when I got pregnant, I switched to what is widely regarded in the nutritional community to be the sagest brand of fish oil out there, Nordic Naturals. And the cool thing about NN is that they have a fish oil for literally everyone. Kids, pregnant women, people who want more vitamin D, people who can’t stand fishy burps, athletes.
If you just want a high dose, potent, and safe fish oil supplement, you can’t beat Nordic Natural Ultimate Omega 2x. If you’re over 40, have any kind of heart condition, or are taking statins, I highly recommend combining your fish oil with Nordic CoQ10 Ubiquinol for extra antioxidant support. I’m giving away both below!
There is, of course, just as much debate around what forms of exercise are best and how much we need to do to reap all the disease-preventing, weight managing, life-extending benefits of movement. Two new, large scale studies have found the same thing: that 150 minutes of exercise a week, 20-30 minutes of which should be vigorous, is what it takes. Beyond that? I can show you studies and anecdotal evidence that support every form of exercise under the sun. Which is why I tend to defer to your own common sense. What form of movement do you love? What feels best in your body? If you feel drained and miserable after a boot camp workout, that is clearly not the one for you, even if everyone says they lost a million pounds doing it. If you can hardly stay awake during yoga and think you’ll barf if you hear another namaste, then ditch the yoga, even if everyone says it changed their lives. Do what feels good for YOU… for 150 minutes a week. Regularly.
For me? That equals one 1.5 hour yoga class a week, plus tons of walks carrying my bebe on me, and some occasional pilates at home. Boom. Done.
So to help get you there, I’m giving away some awesome goods!! Check it out…
Two Giveaways for a Slimmer Waist and Healthy Heart!