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Dr. MAO’s WELLNESS CENTRAL: Five Ways to Stay Slim and Trim in 2010

When the winter winds blow, some of us would rather hibernate than work out. But this New Year, resolve to be a healthy weight and knock off the pounds that this holiday season may have put on. Start with these five natural, healthy tips.

1. Five small meals a day for weight loss

After age 20, your metabolism slows down by about 10 percent every decade, which could be a reason why you gain weight when you eat the same amount of food you did when you were younger. This sort of metabolic decline can be reversed by adopting a pattern of eating five small meals a day instead of three larger ones. It is never a good idea to eat big meals because your body can only use a certain amount of food, depending on your activities, and will store the rest as fat. It is also never a good idea to eat only one meal a day or none at all; eating very little food confuses your body into thinking it is in starvation mode and slows down your metabolism, resulting in weight gain in the long run.

2. Lose weight without losing the nutrients

Focus on nutrition, not on dieting. To many of us, the word “diet” may conjure up images of giving up tasty foods and eating only bland foods, or no food at all – a very dangerous scenario that is ultimately counterproductive. Depriving the body of food or going to extremes with a few recommended foods goes against our metabolism. Even if your diet has you losing weight, the results generally don’t last and you are missing out on valuable nutrients, which will have a negative impact on your body in the long run.  What should you eat to stay healthy and keep from gaining weight? The formula is simple:

• 25 percent of your diet should be animal protein: seafood, egg, chicken, turkey, and lamb. Eat three 4-ounce portions, about the size of a deck of cards, per day.

• 50 percent of your diet should be made up of fruits and vegetables, for their beneficial antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber. Especially favorable for weight loss are chlorophyll-rich foods such as broccoli, kale, spinach, asparagus, and dandelion greens.

• 25 percent should be divided among raw nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, and whole grains, especially brown rice, whole wheat bread, quinoa, amaranth, millet, sorghum, and buckwheat.

Also, cut back on rich, fatty foods, dairy, and carbohydrates, including sugar, white flour, pasta, white rice, and alcohol. While you many initially miss the taste of rich foods, within two or three weeks, your taste palette will adjust and become more refined, allowing you to enjoy food just as nature intended-and become the weight nature intended.

3.  A slimming morning ritual

Every morning, on an empty stomach, drink 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with 1 teaspoon of maple syrup mixed in 12 ounces of warm water. This promotes good digestion and increases your metabolism. While we are on the subject of morning, never skip breakfast! The morning is when your body needs energy the most, and then your body has the rest of the day to burn the calories off. Stick to healthy foods, following the guide above.

4. Herbal and acupuncture weight management

Chinese herbs that are traditionally used for their metabolic-invigorating properties include chrysanthemum, astralagus, ginseng, and green tea. It is best to consult with a licensed practitioner for a customized formula that is appropriate for your needs and always stay away from laxative and stimulant herbs.  Also, consider acupuncture treatment, which has been shown in studies to help curb appetite and lose weight naturally.  At the TAO of Wellness, a study involving 20 subjects treated with acupuncture, herbal and nutritional therapies over 3 months resulted in average weight loss of 19.6 lbs.

5. Get physical

Everyone knows that exercise is an important component in weight loss. Physical activity speeds up your metabolism and burns excess calories. If your goal is to slim down, be as physically active as possible. Always choose the stairs over the elevator, and use your legs instead of a vehicle whenever you can. Join the gym, ride a bike, take a dance class, join a hiking club-whatever motivates you to get moving. Make it fun for yourself; once exercising seems like a chore, your weight loss results go right out the window. From my clinical experience and research, I have seen that success comes from exercising 4 times or more per week, for 30 minutes each time. If you feel too out of shape, begin your exercise program gently and gradually. Start by exercising only five minutes a day, but do it every day. Incrementally increase the time on a weekly basis-say, five additional minutes per week. By the end of the sixth week, you’ll be up to 30 minutes. Be prepared to not only lose weight, but feel stronger, more energized, and happier.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

Dr. Mao Shing Ni, also known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and a Health Expert on Yahoo.  He founded a Wellness Medicine group, the TAO of Wellness in Santa Monica, with his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni 25 years ago.  He is also the cofounder and Chancellor of Yo San University in Venice/Marina del Rey. You can contact him at contact@taoofwellness.com or call 310.917.2200.

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