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From the feedback that I have received, the readers of my blog are at all different fitness levels. So when it comes to defining the 12 week program, I am suggesting a plan of action for those who inspire to weigh less and become more fit and tone but need a little help reaching their goal. The following 12 week “beach body” recipe will consist of diet, weight-training, cardio plus a few tricks of the fitness trade to stir change in your body.

In Part II of this three part series, I will be discussing dieting. The first golden rule is DIET IS EVERYTHING. The 80 percent diet and 20 percent exercise is very much true for most people and you truly become what you eat. For me, I basically follow a diet that is one that contains no white or brown carbs, no dairy, no caffeine, no lunchmeat, no salt, minimal fat, and very little alcohol. Yes, I do break it on occasion, but for the most part it’s a diet filled with lots of fresh fruit and veggies, protein, dietary supplements, and lots of fresh water for hydration. I’m fortunate I enjoy all of my food options so it makes eating without straying easy.

Before we get started and to help you stay on course, I suggest keeping a journal so you can keep track of your results and learn what works for you and what doesn’t as we are all individuals with different genetic makeup. What will be key to your long term success is identifying your own individual recipe of diet and exercise. Include your workouts in your journal entries in addition to the food you eat on a daily basis. Your very first entry should be your measurements of today and your goals of where you want to be in 12 weeks. If you have access to a camera, take a snapshot of yourself and adhere it to your journal.

So let’s talk about your diet. I often feel that a combination of the right food selection and the right calorie count with maximum allowed volume is best means to a successful weight loss. To achieve this, you first need to learn what your ideal daily caloric intake should be to achieve your goal. To help determine, click here for a calorie calculator which will ask you a few questions to determine your daily count. Remember not to lose more than two pounds a week. Weight loss should never be fast but at a controlled rate. Next, let’s discuss food intake. In addition to reducing your daily calories, make smart choices. Ideally you should reduce the amount of your refined foods, but I realize this is may be challenging for many, especially at first. So cut back as much as you can, as portion control is key, and fill your three meals a day with a lot of fresh fruits, veggies, protein and whole grain foods within you calorie limit. Snacks can be again fruits and veggies, such as celery and carrot sticks, and nuts as long as you don’t much on too many. If you feel you would better benefit for an actual diet plan, there are many to choose from those I discussed in “Ten Popular Diets to Start off the Year.” Select the one you feel you can maintain.

One trick to help stir change in the body is what I drink during the day. I start and end my days with Dr. Ann Louis Gittleman’s “Long Life Cocktail” – one quarter cup of unsweetened cranberry juice, three quarters cup water, and one teaspoon of powdered psyllium husks – which helps to detox your liver. When your liver is overworked and undernourished, toxins can build up and enter your bloodstream causing weight gain, bloating, cellulite, indigestion, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, fatigue, mood swings, depression, and even skin rashes. So it’s best to consciously take care of your liver which will also aide in your weight loss and weight maintenance.

Drinking a lot of water will also help with your weight loss. Before indulging in breakfast, drink a cup of hot water with a slice of fresh lemon. This helps to jumpstart your digestive system, aiding to regenerate your liver and optimize your fat metabolism. Additionally before each meal, drink one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar straight up or dilute it in a glass of water with one to two teaspoons of raw honey and a lemon slice to sweeten the taste. For best results, purchase apple cider vinegar that is natural, unfiltered and unpasteurized. I use Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. And to eliminate water retention, drink eight glasses of cranberry water a day; the mixture of one quarter unsweetened cranberry juice, three quarters water but without the psyllium husks.

In the final installment of this three-part series, I will discuss an exercise plan to follow to help with your weight loss. But until then, create your journal, determine your daily calorie intake and plan out our diet. One of my favorite quotes is, “people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.”

Be fit. Be strong. Be well.