Erin Cox, author of One Hot Mama, struggled with her weight after having three kids - until she discovered this sneaky weight-loss secret. Find out what it is, and how to incorporate it into your life. By Holly Corbett, REDBOOK.
The happy weight formula
If you're like most women, you've probably been beating yourself up for years trying to perfect the whole "calories in, calories out" notion, but in reality, there are four pillars to sustaining your goal weight: adequate sleep, exercise, healthy eating, and joy - and many fail to incorporate number four into their lives. "If you aren't living a joyful life - despite getting enough rest, watching what you eat, and exercising regularly - you won't be able to reach or sustain your happy weight," says Cox. It's not just a nice notion. Worms given a boost of serotonin, a chemical linked to improved mood, cut their fat levels by up to 50 percent, finds a study in Cell Metabolism. Researchers speculate that serotonin signals the brain to speed up metabolism, which blocks fat storage. Follow Cox's real-world tips for fitting more bliss into your daily life - and tip the scale at a healthier weight.
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Pinpoint your passions
The first key to happiness is to nurture your interests and relationships outside of your children," says Cox. "Being yourself and staying fabulous and interesting only makes you a better mother, because happiness is contagious and sets a great example for your kids." She suggests giving yourself 15 minutes each morning to flip through magazines or books and journal to help figure out what really brings you satisfaction and joy. You might be reminded how much you love fashion or photography, or discover that you'd like to try your hand at painting. Find like-minded people in your area on meetup.com to help nurture those passions. Also focus on your most important relationships outside of your kids, like those with your husband and girlfriends.
Make time for guilty pleasures
One easy way for moms to add a little fun and joy to their lives is to partake in a guilty pleasure, an enjoyable activity that you recognize as a treat, says Cox. "At the end of a particularly trying day, I relish putting my feet up for a few minutes and watching some mindless TV with a glass of wine." Here are some more feel-good ideas from Cox for motivation: Slowly sipping a large hot chocolate dusted with cinnamon; getting a babysitter so you can sit with friends at a coffee shop; or putting together your dream wardrobe on Pinterest.
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Don't count calories
Let's face it, worrying about the calorie content of every forkful is utterly depressing. "Counting calories takes the enjoyment out of eating and doesn't encourage us to get in touch with our bodies and simply eat good, nutritious food," says Cox. "If you eat nourishing, healthy food and exercise regularly, counting calories doesn't need to be a part of your life." Sure, tracking calories or weighing food may help you better tune in to how big (or small!) of a portion your body really needs in the short-term, but it's no way to live in the long-term. Instead, use your focus to practice eating slowly and really chewing every bite. You'll become better attuned to your hunger and fullness cues over time.
Practice some body love
"Loving yourself and your body is an important - and frequently overlooked - component of weight loss," says Cox. "When you convince yourself that you are heavy and loathsome by looking at your body with disgust and criticizing your belly rolls, you subconsciously train yourself to remain in that condition." This doesn't mean you have to learn to love your cellulite, but try reversing body-bashing by saying something kind about your body every time you look in the mirror. (One particularly self-confident woman we know gives her fleshy stomach a loving pat each day.) "It might take as long as a month to do it with a straight face, but give it a try," encourages Cox. "When you're sending out more positive vibes each day, taking care of yourself and making the lifestyle changes necessary to reach your ideal weight will be infinitely easier."
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Get out and mingle
It's not uncommon for women to feel guilty about socializing with friends when every last thing on the to-do list isn't done, but a Gallup poll finds that the more time you spend mingling, the more happy and less stressed you'll feel. In fact, your mood improves with each hour per day you're doing it. Find a gym with a daycare center and great classes so you can workout while catching up. When you're going through your inbox, send out an invite for a monthly coffee date with other mom friends and tell them it's cool to bring the kids. Call your best friends on your hands-free device during your drive time to keep up on their lives. "Mothers, in particular, thrive with a network of healthy, compassionate, and encouraging friendships," says Cox.
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