Every day patients walk into my office requesting liposuction because they wish to lose weight, reduce their waistline or improve their figure, and they believe liposuction is the fastest and easiest way to accomplish those goals. When I ask if they have tried diet and exercise, the responses range from indignant distain to horrified disbelief.
Liposuction was the second most common cosmetic surgical operation performed in 2010, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. However, going under the knife does not have to be the answer. Here are five no-nonsense tips that will help you lose weight, tone your body and sculpt your figure to your liking -- without liposuction. It does take some work and sacrifice, but you'll save lots of money and feel so much better about yourself.
1) Eliminate White Starches from Your Diet
Some diets are just too complicated to follow. They involve counting calories, weighing food and subscribing to home-delivered healthy meals. Simply avoiding all white starches, like white bread, white rice and pasta, potatoes and sugar will help you to lose weight immediately and easily. White starches have a high glycemic index, which means they convert to sugar more readily in your body, which turns into fat. They stimulate more insulin production and keep fat around your belly, the worst place for bathing suits and the health of your heart!
2) Drink Water, Not Diet Soda
Proper hydration is a weight-loss pearl that many people forget. Drinking lots of water increases your energy level, making it easier to stay active and exercise regularly. Our body's metabolism is boosted by water intake because it works harder to raise the temperature of the water imbibed. Muscle tissue contains approximately 75 percent water, and adequate hydration helps maintain muscle tone, which increases the body's fat burning capacity. Doctors recommend drinking at least 8 cups of water a day, but that number should be increased in hotter or drier weather or when exercising. Tips to stay hydrated include keeping a bottle of water at bedside and at your desk at work, and be sure to drink water at every meal.
Recent studies have demonstrated that drinking diet soda actually causes a wider waist in humans because it can increase your appetite. Aspartame, the artificial sweetener in diet soda, was shown in another study to raise the blood sugar in mice prone to diabetes. So stick to water while dieting to achieve maximum effects of hydration.
3) Aerobic and Weight Training at Least Four Times Per Week
The dirty little secret about weight loss is simple: Burn more calories than you eat and the fat will be shed! Aerobic exercise is only effective if you are working hard enough to sweat and increase your heart rate (pulse) to work hard enough to burn fat. The fat-burning zone is the zone at which you are doing enough work to burn fat, and this is related to your heart rate or pulse while exercising. The fat burning zone formula is the following:
Fat burning zone = 220 - (your age) x (.75)
The result of this formula tells you approximately how fast your heart must beat during the exercise period to burn fat. Yes, that means getting out there and sweating and working hard for at least 30-45 minutes, four times a week. To help you endure the pain, try exercising while watching your favorite movie or sporting event. I do cardio while watching Jets football games on TV -- it channels my enthusiasm and/or frustration for my team in a positive way and keeps me away from the beer and nachos! Compile several "workout playlists" on your MP3 player, consisting of your favorite upbeat music. The fervent beat will provide a nice cadence to your run or powerwalk and help you forget your misery.
Add weight training to your exercise routine to tone muscles, especially in your "problem areas." I am not recommending spot training, as I do not think it works. Rather, exercise large and small muscle groups to tone the body and contribute to overall weight loss. Circuit training is an effective tool that combines weight training with aerobic benefits. For beginners, it is a good idea to employ a certified trainer to show you how to use the weights to avoid injury.
4) Avoid Stress
Stress contributes to weight gain in various ways. It causes the release of the hormone cortisol, which can slow metabolism and alter blood sugar levels. It can cause unhealthy food cravings for sugar or carbohydrates. During times of particularly high stress, people eat in an attempt to fulfill emotional needs.
If you are tempted to eat when you're not hungry, find a distraction. Do not skip meals, especially breakfast. Identify comfort foods and keep them out of your home or office. Practice relaxation skills such as yoga, massage, meditation or exercise. Get adequate sleep and welcome encouragement and support from friends and family.
5) Be Realistic
I am always on the look-out for patients seeking cosmetic surgery with unrealistic expectations. These people will never be happy with their surgical result because they expect too much. The same philosophy applies to this plan that I have described. Set realistic goals for yourself so you will not be disappointed and will stick to the program. Understand that your age, genetics, schedule, home life and overall outlook all contribute to your outer appearance, and learn to be happy with what you have.