Less is More. Or is More Actually Less? I Don’t Know, I Just Know That You Have to Eat These Four Foods to Lose Weight

When you decide that you’re going to lose weight, what’s the first thing you think of? If you’re like most people, you’ll start thinking of all the things you won’t be able to eat. Ever again. And then you’ll probably pound your fists in the dirt and pull a carrot from the ground and sob and say something really dramatic like, “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!” And you’ll probably give up before you even get started.

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Let’s leave the drama to the Real Housewives and just relax. Of course you will have to cut some foods if you’re not eating right, but it’s not as big a deal as you think it will be. There are sugary foods and drinks that supply little to nothing in the way of nutritional value and offer you a whole load of calories in its place; there are foods that are high in fat (some healthy, some unhealthy, both also compensate you with plenty of calories); then there are the buzzword foods, such as gluten, lactose, GMOs, which everyone knows by now are big no-no’s but a lot of people don’t know why. For now, let’s just say if they’re swirling in the tornado of bad food buzzwords, you should probably avoid them.

But no matter what diet you’re on or what your lifestyle change plan may be, and no matter how different every body (and that is not a typo; I did mean that as two words: every body) is, there are certain things every body needs. And if you want to lose weight the healthy way, or more frankly stated, if you want to lose weight at all and keep it off, you have to get these four foods onto your plate and into your belly or your weight loss efforts will be for nothing. Fill up your daily personal menu with these foods first, and then you a: won’t be craving the junk so much and b: won’t have room for the junk anyway.

If you ditch these four foods, you’ll mess up your nutritional balance, and your body will try to compensate in all kinds of weird ways, none of which you’ll enjoy because sooner or later, regaining the weight will be inevitable. Case in point: When you don’t eat enough, your body fights back with a starvation response and stops giving up fat because frankly, it doesn’t know where its next meal is coming from, so that fat to your body is like those year-old ramen noodles in the back, back, back of the pantry are to a starving artist: You just have to keep them around to be safe. So no matter what type of diet or nutritional overhaul you’re considering, make sure these four foods are included in the plan. And if your diet guru tells you otherwise, well, give ‘em that sidelong look that says, “You did not just say that to me,” shake your head with an appropriate amount of theatrical dismay, and say very sweetly, “Well bless your heart,” and then hit the door and get on down the road.

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Now, let’s get to those four foods you just fired your trainer/nutritionist/doctor/whomever for … good carbs, good fats, lean protein, and fiber-rich foods.

“Good Carbs”

I always hated to label foods as “good” or “bad” because I think some counselor told me once that was an unhealthy attitude to have toward food. I seem to remember being told something along the lines of, “It’s just food. Quit being weird about it.” Something like that. Realistically, though, there really are good foods and bad foods. They just are what they are. And the “carbs are the devil” people may need to re-evaluate their position because all carbs are not alike. Your body needs “good carbs” for fuel so that it doesn’t rob Peter (your muscle) to pay Paul (your energy needs). The higher your percentage of muscle, the faster and better your metabolism will burn calories. So protect the muscle that you have, and build on it at every opportunity. Okay, I got a little sidetracked there … “good carbs” consist of fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Things that grow out of the ground, essentially. “Oh, snap!” you say. “Bread is a grain! Therefore, I can have all the bread I want!” Not so fast, slick. When’s the last time you saw a slice of white bread sprout up from the ground? How about that macaroni tree? Rule of thumb: Does it come from planet earth or does it come from the little elves that live in a tree? Learn to differentiate between whole grains and refined, processed foods (which really are the devil in my food religion). Refined and processed anything pretty much qualifies as “bad.” But since we aren’t cave people, we’ll probably have to buy things off the shelf or out of the grocer’s freezer from time to time, so just know what’s healthy and what’s unhealthy, become a maniacal label reader to weed out the bad stuff, and you’ll do just fine.

“Good Fats”

If you’re a female over the age of 20, chances are that you’ve tried a low-fat diet at some point in your life. If you’re over the age of 40, you’ve probably tried it more than once. It’s easy … you just go to the store and buy anything that says “low-fat” on the label. Right? No, no, no, no, no … The low-fat diet works for some people, but not for most people, and those who are insulin-resistant can tell you that it’s an epic fail. You know us insulin-resistant types … we’re the ones who can’t even look at food without looking like we suddenly became six months pregnant. We’re the hard cases that you can usually spot from a block away because of all that visceral fat … “apple shape” is the socially polite word for it, I believe. We’re also probably on the road to Type 2 Diabetes if we don’t change our ways. So, forget low-fat, which all too often translates into high-sugar, and let’s concentrate on “good fat,” which is not only good for your waistline, but also good for your heart health and your cholesterol levels. Remember “mono” and “poly.” Those are the two fats you want. Make a mnemonic out of it to help you remember that, such as “Everyone caught mono except Polly because she ate her healthy fats.” I know that’s lame, but it’s late, and I bet you’ll remember it anyway. How about this one: “We don’t like trans fats because they transfer fat to our thighs?” Yeah, well, anyway …

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So where do you get these mono and poly fats? Nuts, seeds, fish (wild caught fish and shellfish are healthiest), avocados, and good choices of cooking oils, such as sunflower, walnut, olive, peanut, and sesame. There seems to be some dust-up recently about whether or not canola oil is healthy, so I’ll omit that as a recommendation for now. But I’m not going to say it’s bad, either. Mayo Clinic says, “Health concerns about canola oil are unfounded.” So if you’re concerned about the safety of canola oil, I suggest researching it until you come to a comfortable conclusion. However, just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s true! So make sure your sources are trustworthy before you make a final decision.

 “Lean Protein”

Not just any old meat will do for this important source. This is high octane fuel, baby! Protein takes its sweet time through the digestion process, keeping you satiated longer. Sated or satiated? Anyway, it makes you feel full and provides sustained energy. When you feel full and energetic, you’ll be less likely to run to the vending machines for your afternoon wake-up soda and candy bar. When shopping for meat, look for the word “lean” on the label. That’s important. Lean meats include chicken, turkey, and fish (notice how fish serves double duty as a protein source and a source of good fat? Score!) Eggs are also a great source of protein (keep an eye on that cholesterol, though), and for non-animal sources of protein, choose beans or quinoa, which is really cool to eat just so you can say out loud that you ate it. “I had keen-wah for lunch today.” There’s no way you can say that sentence and not sound totally hip and cool.

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“Fiber-Rich”

And then there’s fiber, which you never want to be caught without. It’s nature’s roto-rooter for your pipes. Without it, you’re going to be facing a major clog, and it won’t be pretty. So to keep things moving, incorporate fiber-rich whole foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Choose pretty fruits and veggies that will make a pretty plate. I love pretty food. In fact, I swear by it. Though you may be tempted to juice those fruits and veggies, be aware that while you’ll retain the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, you will lose the majority of the fiber to the compost pile—or garbage disposal, whichever way you handle your scraps after juicing. Fiber also has the same secret weapon as protein: You will feel full longer after eating fiber-rich foods, and you won’t be so tempted to pack away sugary snacks an hour after you eat. Make procuring your fruits and veggies an adventure. Go to the Farmer’s Market, grow your own … whatever makes fresh produce appealing to you, I beseech you to do it!

So the moral of this whole late-night rambling is this: The more you focus your energy on the things you MUST eat to lose weight, the less you’ll be consumed by what you MUST NOT eat. It’s a little mind trickery, but if it works, so be it. Especially with Plexus Slim to take the edge off your cravings and balance your blood glucose levels, along with ProBio 5 and BioCleanse to get your gut health back into fighting condition, you won’t want to do anything to mess things up again.

Clean eating really is easier than you think. Once you get a dose of feeling amazerful inside and out—especially when those jeans go from “uggggh, that hurts!” to “aaahhh, they’re loose,” your belly stops hurting every time you eat, your energy is smooth and even, and the words “food coma” leave your vocabulary, then you’ll start to see what feeling good really means. And you’ll want to hang on to it. It isn’t a life of deprivation that you’re facing, it’s a lifetime (and probably an even longer one, at that) of being free from food duress. Plus, your body will be primed to be a lean, mean, fat-burning machine. It just takes practice, baby steps, a few deep breaths here and there while you get the hang of it, and these four foods, and it gets much, much easier after that. Now start practicing the word “keen-wah” until it rolls off the tongue. You got this!

Four Foods to Lose Weight

How to Get Unstuck With Your Weight Loss in 23 Days

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When I started my weight loss journey with Plexus, I lost 14.5 pounds in the first two weeks. I was thrilled, needless to say. I had never seen such amazing results. I was actually happy to have any results at all. I knew I couldn’t (and shouldn’t and wouldn’t) sustain that rate of weight loss for long, but I hoped for at least at 1-2 pounds a week. It did for a little while, then it pretty much stopped. If I hadn’t been feeling so much better in other areas—such as joint, back and neck pain; improved moods; more energy; and just a generally fantastic sense of well-being—I probably would have decided that the product didn’t work for me, and I would have quit. But besides those reasons for hanging on, I really did believe in the product. I had seen far too many other people getting the results I wanted, I had friends and loved ones taking the product and I didn’t want them to quit because of me, but that scale just wouldn’t budge. Not long after I got stuck, I learned about ProBio 5 and BioCleanse, and I had heard that many people would find themselves stuck until they got their gut health back in order. So I added those products, too, and I waited. Some more weight came off, and then I got stuck again. Why didn’t I quit then? Because the BioCleanse was nothing short of a miracle for me. I had tried so many over-the-counter cleanses, laxatives, and even prescription medications, but my colon was sluggish, and the BioCleanse was working. No way was I going to part with it! But I still really wanted, and needed to lose weight!

So I started researching, and no matter which angle I took in my searching, “food allergies” kept coming up. Specifically, gluten. Well, that’s just great. Cheeseburgers were my favorite food, and cheeseburger buns are bread, therefore, they have gluten. How in the world will I LIVE without gluten? It’s in everything! Well, that’s another blog, and I’ll get to that soon enough. Today, I want to tell you how I figured out which foods were making me sick and overweight. Armed with just a couple months’ research at the time, a limited budget, and an extremely busy life, I set out on my own amateur elimination diet. I didn’t know the words “elimination diet,” I just knew that I needed to figure this out. So I improvised, and I cut my food intake down to salads, watermelon (it was summer, after all), and grapes. And water, water, water with lemon and lime. My thought was to get my food list down to the bare minimum, then start adding foods back in one at a time to see what each one was doing to me.

The first thing I noticed is that my belly deflated like a balloon. I had been distended for so long, I didn’t think it would ever go back, really. So that was a huge deal to me because it represented another piece of me getting back to normal. Then I noticed my abdominal pain stopped. It didn’t just get better—it stopped. Putting two and two together, I figured out real quick that food was causing my bloat and my pain. Now, to find out which foods.

After some time, I reintroduced gluten. It was obvious. My belly bloated and the pain returned … that old, familiar pain I used to get every time I ate. It took some work to eliminate gluten completely. I did lots of label reading and learned to make substitutions, but I am now 100% gluten-free. And I know that even a flake off a crumb of a crouton can cause me to bloat right back up and have that pain again. Just to be sure, I tested this thoroughly on Thanksgiving by enjoying all the rolls I wanted. My pain level on a scale of 1-10? About a 7. That used to be my normal. I’m happy to say that it is no more.

After a while, I started tracking my calories again and realized I was way under my calorie goal, so I’d struggle to the finish line every night and try to fill up on anything but gluten to hit my calorie goal. By doing this and gradually reintroducing foods in the process, I found other foods were causing me similar problems. Certain beans do not agree with me. Certain types and quantities of cheese do not agree with me. Same thing with meats—it depends on the type and the quantity. So I made adjustments accordingly and researched some more. I learned that when one is gluten sensitive, the body may transpose and react to other foods as if they were gluten. In other words, the brain can trigger that same response to foods that contain no gluten whatsoever. This isn’t true for everyone who is sensitive to gluten, but it is for some. (It’s also a pretty fair indicator that you could be dealing with leaky gut, which is, in the most simple of terms, a damaged digestive tract that allows undigested foods, bacteria, and other waste to enter into the bloodstream and launch an autoimmune response.) Casein (a protein in milk) is a common offender, as are whey and chocolate, which brings me to my “death by chocolate” story.

An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse

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One night in January, I asked my husband to go to the store and get me some chocolate. I was in the mood for chocolate and saw no reason not to treat myself. So I had two candy bars, and on came the chest pain within 15 minutes. This chest pain, mind you, has sent me to the hospital more than once. I’ve had angiograms more than once. Stress tests, cardiac enzymes checked … they could only tell me that nothing was wrong with my heart. And I really didn’t  believe them because when you have crushing chest pain and it’s just like the textbooks describe and you like Marlon Brando clutching his test right before he died in the tomato plants at the end of The Godfather, it’s hard to believe you’re not having a heart attack. But there it was … brought on by a chocolate bar. Okay, two chocolate bars, but that’s neither here nor there. It hurt! And as I was waiting for the pain to go away, I realized how similar the pain was to how I usually felt after I ate. And it all started to click: I have a really sick gut! Weight loss or no weight loss, I’ve got to figure out how to heal this!

So I kept researching, and I learned about leaky gut. I learned that leaky gut is caused by years of intestinal damage brought on by poor gut health, and that it causes the body to attack itself. Aha! That’s what was causing my elevated SED rate, chronic inflammation, and the undiagnosed autoimmune disease I’d been battling for the last five years (not for nothing, I realized I’d been battling the extra weight for the same length of time). More pieces came together.

Probably too late to say “long story short,” but here’s what I hope your takeaway from all this is: I was an amateur armed only with Google search, a little basic info, and my symptoms to go on. Out of that, I came up with a facsimile of an elimination diet, which I now see was fully flawed in the foods that I chose, but nonetheless, I was able to pinpoint what certain foods do to my body. And like putting your hand on a hot stove, eventually you learn what you don’t want to do anymore. To me, that was far more convicting than any diet plan or Cosmo article. Now where does Plexus fit into all of this? Plain and simple: Plexus Slim gave me the energy, the mental clarity, the blood glucose management, and the appetite control needed to be able to pull that off. Being a sugar-rollercoaster-rider for years, there was no way I could have done it without that tool to help me manage my hunger and my cravings. The ProBio 5 and the BioCleanse were like little scrubbing bubbles “doing the work so I didn’t have to” before I even formulated my plan. In my case, there was enough wrong with my insides that there was work that only I could do. Plexus had done all it could without my help, and I was happy to have it along for the ride so I could do the rest.

Come On—Do I Have To?

Considering all the other dangers and toxins we hear about that are looming in our food supply, I think it’s smart for anyone and everyone to do an elimination diet at least once, especially if you feel like your body is doing some alien thing that you can’t figure out. Though that may sound extreme, ask yourself this question: If you could do something for just 23 days, and then learn what you need to know to infuse the rest of your life with energy, health, and freedom from obesity and pain (and other very real health issues, such as diabetes), wouldn’t that 23-day experiment be worth it? Think about it: 23 sort of difficult days in exchange for a lifetime of feeling better than you’ve felt in years, or maybe ever?

If you have fungal infections (athlete’s foot, nail fungus), chronic fatigue, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, autoimmune disease, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, skin issues, mood changes, allergies, more severe allergies, joint pain, strong cravings for sugars and refined carbs, along with extra weight that you cannot get under control with the usual methods, or the methods that used to work for you, then you’ve got to consider the possibility that you have food sensitivities, candida yeast overgrowth, or leaky gut—or all of those things. There are tests that your doctor can perform, but the tests won’t tell you how each food makes you feel or how your body responds. Only you and your body can do that. So if you’re thinking to yourself, “Yeah, I really should do this, but I just don’t see myself pulling it off,” let me tell you … If I could do it, anyone can do it. I’ll say it again … I couldn’t do it without my Plexus Slim, so if you’re already using Plexus, great! Your secret weapon is already locked and loaded. If you’re not, consider getting a 30-day supply to get you through the 23 days. It will certainly make things easier.

So where do you start with an elimination diet? First, you put on your ninja suit … just kidding. I’ll make this as simple as possible because, if you’re going to give up most of the foods you’re used to for 23 days, then we can at least make it simple, right? So here goes …

Make a List of Your Symptoms

Write it all down. Everything. Every physical and mental symptom you can think of. Gas, bloating, allergies, skin problems, joint pain, swelling, fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, depression … Start at the top of your body and work your way down, one organ and process at a time, making sure you write down every single thing. And start with a brand-new notebook or Word document so you can journal throughout the 23 days and beyond as you notice any change in symptoms.

Read Labels for a Few Days Before You Kick Things Off

Get to know the ingredients in the foods that you’re eating. Imagine my shock when we were low on groceries one day, and I started to have a can of tomato soup thinking there was no way gluten would be in there. Well, it was. So start reading labels so that you can eliminate anything that contains wheat, barley, rye, and oats and anything derived from wheat, barley, rye, and oats. Search Google for whole foods that are gluten-free that you like and will actually eat and make your own food list. Google for recipes using those foods that you like. You’re looking to eliminate gluten (wheat, barley, rye, and oats), dairy, eggs, soy, fast food, and alcohol. Really? Alcohol, too? Yep. Sorry, but we have to be thorough or what’s the point? Some alcohol has gluten in it and some does not, but you will still need to take a break from it because the sugar in alcohol makes a cozy little haven for the gnarly bacteria in your gut to thrive on and do all kinds of crazy stuff.

Learn What You CAN Eat

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The majority of your food while you’re on the elimination diet will consist of vegetables—aim for 70%. The other 30% should be protein. Your grocery list should look something like this: wild fish, shellfish, lean beef and chicken (preferably organic, grass-fed), avocados, white beans, black beans, brown beans, green beans, yellow beans, red beans (I’m trying to say all beans), nuts, seeds, seaweeds, and it’s also a really great time to learn to love quinoa, the gluten-free grain. Use olive oil, coconut oil, and sunflower oil for food preparation, and enjoy fresh greens to your heart’s content. (Caveat: Mix up your greens and choose dark ones as much as possible; too much iceberg lettuce is known to make you gassy, which is no fun to discover at the office after an all-you-can-eat salad bar extravaganza for lunch). During this 23 days, avoid processed foods like the plague. What do I mean by processed foods? If it didn’t sprout up out of the ground, and it’s not beef, chicken, or fish, try to leave it alone. A word about “gluten-free” packaged foods: gluten-free cereals, breads, and chips still contain refined carbs and calories, so take it easy and skip them as much as possible. And, of course, oatmeal is out. Sorry about that. I was bummed about that, too.

When Your 23 Days is Up

Fast-forward through the weirdest, but hopefully some of the most interesting, 23 days of your life, and you’re done! Now what? Well, the really great news is that you will have spent 21 days teaching yourself new eating, shopping, and cooking habits (Yay YOU!!), but the point of the 23 days is that the antibodies in your immune system will have had time to recover from any of the foods that were assaulting it before you started the elimination diet. Now, you’ll introduce foods one at a time. Start with gluten. Or dairy. Or whatever you want. Just choose one, though, and try it out. Give yourself up to 48 hours to see how that goes (although in my case, it never took me more than 30 minutes to say, “Yep, you’re outta here!” or “Safe!”) But 48 hours is a commonly suggested time frame for deciding how your body is going to react before you choose the next food to reintroduce. And each time you reintroduce a food, refer to that list of symptoms you made before you started, and compare how many symptoms went away during the elimination diet, and see how many, if any, reappear as you reintroduce each food.

Congratulations! What Have You Learned?

Is your belly flatter? Does your skin and hair look crazy healthy? Have you been in a better mood? How’s your sleep? Your energy? Your body functions? How’s your mojo? Pain—what pain? You now have a guest list in your hand, and you are your body’s personal bouncer. Who’s welcome to the party, and who isn’t? It’s that simple! Now, go out and enjoy your life as a healthier, slimmer, more vibrant you!

Oh, and p.s.: This really does work. It’s how I got my weight loss really going again. As of today, I have passed the 40-pound mark, I’m closing in on 50 pounds, and I will make the full 80. Yes! I’ll be wearing shorts this summer. No more sweats in July. Just me, my pink drink, my flip flops, and some really cute summer clothes. Maybe even on a beach in Maui! Aloha!

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Overcoming Emotional Eating

If you’re using Plexus Slim faithfully, but your eating is still out of control, you’re probably struggling with emotional eating. If you know the basics about how Plexus Slim works, then you know that its primary function is to help level out blood glucose, which brings sugar fluctuations and the cravings they cause under control. But most people are emotional eaters, too, and until you get a handle on emotional eating, you may very well struggle with food no matter what kind of diet, supplement, or other type of plan you use. Even weight loss surgery patients who have great success in the beginning can end up right back where they started due to returning to old habits such as emotional eating.

What causes emotional eating? A better question is, “What doesn’t?” Happiness, sadness, boredom, celebration, anxiety, stress, and just coping with life can all trigger emotional eating. We’re trained that way from the time our parents reward us with ice cream or dessert for a job well done or console us with comfort food when things don’t go our way. Dieting is to emotional eating what a band-aid is to a shotgun wound: It’s totally ineffective. You have to reconfigure the way you handle your feelings and the way you think about food, or you’ll be forever engaged in a losing struggle. If you’re an emotional eater, then feelings and food are intertwined. Once you separate them, you can take back control.

How do you do squash your tendencies to soothe yourself with food? Where do you start? Believe it or not, simply start with your thoughts. Let feelings be feelings, and remind yourself that they have nothing to do with food. When I was learning to meditate, I discovered Vipassana meditation. Vipassana means to see things as they really are, and this ancient technique is simply mental training to do just that: see things for what they are. Vipassana meditation teaches you to acknowledge your feelings, good or bad, and then simply allow them to pass on through. It’s that easy, and it doesn’t require special training; it just takes practice. Just as we use physical exercises to condition our bodies, you can use this technique as an exercise to develop a healthy mindset toward your feelings and food.

Most all of us have been conditioned to use food to celebrate, to console, and to nurture. In fact, eating as an ongoing accompaniment to life is so ingrained in us that there are also times when we don’t even realize we’re doing it. So try this approach to eating: Eat mindfully. Just pay attention. Don’t eat absently (munchies at your desk while you work, a bag of chips on the couch while you watch TV), but instead, when it’s time to eat, stop everything else you’re doing, and eat. Enjoy the experience. Enjoy the food. When you start to pay attention to your eating, you’ll begin to eat what you need when you need it; on the flipside, you’ll lose the urge to reach for food when you don’t really need to eat. You’ll get to know your true hunger and fullness signals again. And you’ll come to enjoy and savor your eating time rather than have it disappear into the background noise of life. Couples, families, and friends will also enjoy sharing mealtime together again. Singles may learn to enjoy their “me” time even more.

Now granted, if you’re on that runaway train of sugar and refined carb cravings, then managing your eating may be very hard. But this is what Plexus Slim was designed to do, so work with it, and let it happen! You can use Plexus Slim every single day, but if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll probably get the same results. Or … you can take advantage of the help Slim provides with cravings, make some mental adjustments, and completely change your life!Image