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Marissa McClellen is our December Ambassador of the Month!
During the busy holiday season it can be difficult to resist temptation, because you tend to let your guard down. Throughout the rest of the year you tend to make more sensible dietary choices, even if you do occasionally slip up, but as soon as Christmas comes around you can end up eating far more than you should. It doesn’t help that the stores are crammed full of festive goodies and you visit friends and relatives who may offer you an alcoholic beverage and a cookie or two. Everyone else is enjoying themselves; eating and drinking what they want, so why shouldn’t you?
The only problem with adopting that kind of mentality is that by the time January 1st comes around, the chances are you will have put on at least a few pounds. You then face the battle of having to lose the extra weight you’ve gained. Losing weight is never easy, because you need to have the motivation to make changes to your diet and exercise habits. It’s even harder after the holidays, because you go from eating whatever you want without counting calories to having to pay attention to every single thing you eat, and so you have to be incredibly disciplined.
Obviously, the best idea is not to gain weight in the first place! It sounds hard, but it can be done, as long as you remain mindful of the kind of food you eat. You also have to be conscious of the quantity you consume, because it’s far too easy to eat a whole plate of sugar cookies without taking into account the number of calories being consumed. Of course, you can still enjoy chocolates, cakes and cookies, but you can’t eat these kinds of treats all day long and expect to stay the same weight.
When you go shopping, you should attempt to limit the amount of junk food you purchase, as if it isn’t the house, you can’t eat it! Often, it is snacks we buy that trip us up, especially when it comes to chocolates, chips and cookies, as these are the kind of foodstuffs that you tend to have in the house in case you receive visitors, but they are all too easy to nibble on. If you are inviting people over, it might be worth stocking up on nuts and fruits, as although these can be quite high in calories, they tend to fill you up and so you are less inclined to eat too much of them. Plus, they do provide you with more nutritional benefits than junk food.
As far as main meals go, a turkey dinner doesn’t have to be too high in calories, since turkey is relatively low in calories and also fills you up. You can also enjoy sweet potatoes, cranberries and stuffing as part of your meal, whilst if you fill up on vegetables, it will make it easier to stay away from high-calorie desserts, as you will be too full to bother! If you decide you do want dessert, stick to fruit or a low fat yogurt parfait.
You can also enjoy a cocktail during the holidays, knowing that drinking red wine could be good for your heart. There are numerous other alcoholic beverages available, but it is worth noting that alcohol can be highly calorific, and so you may want to limit yourself to just a few glasses if you are going to avoid exceeding your calorie requirements.
No doubt, you will find there are low-fat and lower calorie versions of your favorite holiday foods, but sometimes these are no better than the full-fat, higher calorie options. Thus, you are better off keeping an eye on portion sizes, not stocking up on junk food and keeping active, so that you burn off any excess calories and don’t have to worry about weight gain over the holidays.
It is easy to use winter as an excuse to put on weight, because nobody wants to leave the house when it is snowing and at sub-zero temperatures; plus there are so many delicious, hot meals to feast upon, particularly when it comes to the holidays, that it is very easy to consume more calories than are required. However, there are still ways to stay active and to eat healthily during the winter months; it just takes a little bit more determination and focus.
Winter can be a depressing time of year, as the nights get longer and the days shorter, as the temperatures drop and the old winter coat is taken out of storage. It can therefore be extremely tempting to turn towards comfort food, particularly for those who have had to trudge through the slushy streets in the freezing cold to get home. It is all too easy to reach for a comforting piece of pie and to slouch on the sofa watching television, when what really is needed is to get active in order to feel re-energized. Exercise is a great way for people to improve their sense of well-being, as it gets the heart pumping and clears the mind. It is a much more effective way for people to feel better about themselves than eating junk food, and has the added bonus of helping to improve fitness levels.
It is important for people to monitor what they eat over the winter months so that they do not put on a substantial amount of weight which then has to be lost during the spring. For those whose exercise regime hardly changes throughout the winter months it may be a good idea to eat a little more because the body uses more calories trying to keep itself warm, but for those who find themselves doing less physical activity it is a good idea to restrict the amount of calories consumed, particularly those from refined sugars and fats.
When it comes to winter the most important thing is for individuals not to just let their fitness routine completely slide, as it makes it harder to pick up again when spring comes around. A little bit of weight gain is perhaps to be expected, but it is much easier to need to lose a couple of pounds, rather than avoiding the scales until spring comes only to find out that they have to lose considerably more. Some people may prefer to relax their routine a little bit during the winter months, wanting to snuggle up in the warmth. It is obviously the individual's choice how they approach diet and exercise during winter, but they cannot then complain if they do nothing and gain weight.