8 Tips of Successful Dieters

Deciding to lose weight is a big step. As with anything worth doing, it takes a certain amount of time, planning, and commitment.

The following are some tips of successful dieters…

Drink Water

More often than you think, your hunger pangs may actually be caused by dehydration. In fact, most Americans are chronically dehydrated. Drinking a consistent amount of water every day will help you to feel more full and also keep you feeling alert and energetic. An added bonus: hydration actually boosts your metabolic rate and increases calorie burn.

Listen to your body

This is all about mindful eating. It can take the body 20 minutes to signal that it is full, but many of us eat so quickly that we don’t pay attention to what our body is telling us. We also tend to consume more calories when we are eating while working, watching television, or otherwise distracted.

Don’t starve yourself

Despite all evidence to the contrary, many people believe that skipping meals can help them to lose weight. This just isn’t true. Skipping meals most often leads to a drop in blood sugar, which causes fatigue, and also leads to overeating later on. The most successful dieters actually eat smaller meals more often.

Stock up wisely

If your cupboards are filled with junk food it is far too easy to give in to temptation. Likewise, if you have nothing on hand, it is easy to decide to grab fast food or order in instead of making a meal. If you keep your house stocked with healthy staples and snacks, it will be much easier to avoid temptation.

Be active

This is the hardest part for many people, but one of the most important keys to losing weight and keeping it off for the long term. Try not to think of it as a chore, instead, find exercises and activities that you enjoy and stick with them. Aim for 30 minutes of activity at least 5 days per week. It has been shown that even breaking it up into 10-minute increments is effective for fitness and weight loss. 

Be consistent

Some dieters believe in “cheat days” or giving themselves the weekend off from dieting. However, it is really better to stay as consistent as possible. This does not mean that you cannot indulge every now and then, just not in excess.

Get support

Support of family or friends is a great help to keep you on track with weight loss. Get your family involved in meal planning, let your kids help with meal planning, get out and play in the park with friends, or just use them as an ear when you are feeling overwhelmed.

Avoid fad diets

Fad diets are just that; fads. It is true that some of them may cause you to lose weight quickly in the short term, but truly losing weight and being healthy in the long term requires making changes that you can actually stick with.

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How to Handle Weight Loss Plateaus

It can happen to any of us; we work hard to change our diet and exercise routine, we begin to lose weight, and then we suddenly hit a plateau and all of our progress seems to stop. Nothing else has changed; you just stop losing weight. This is a known as a weight loss plateau.

A weight loss plateau can happen to anyone, and it does not mean that you are doing anything wrong. It is really important to not let it make you feel discouraged. Be aware that weight loss follows a pattern, and it is completely normal to lose more weight in the beginning and have it slow down somewhat over time. It may just be necessary to make some minor adjustments to your diet and exercise program to kick it back into gear.

The following are some tips to help you get through a weight loss plateau:

Cut more calories

This does not have to be drastic, but it may be necessary to cut back on your calorie intake. Try cutting out 200 additional calories each day. This is not a huge change, but can help you get past this hurdle.

Jump-start your workout

If you have hit a plateau, it may be necessary to increase either the amount of time that you are exercising, or to increase the intensity of your work out. Adding an additional 15 – 30 minutes to your routine will increase your calorie burn and help to get you back on track.

Reevaluate your habits

Take a really honest look at your food intake and your habits. Sometimes, after we make progress and start to feel good, we begin to get a little bit lazier about our diet. Keep a food journal and see if you are honestly sticking with your plan.

Mix it up

Keep things interesting: Try to find new low calorie recipes to try. Choose a new vegetable at the grocery store and learn how to cook it. Eat a vegetarian meal once or twice a week. Or try to challenge yourself to find new ways to get more activity into your day.

Don’t give up

Most importantly, don’t let a weight loss plateau cause you to give up. Stick with your program and don’t be too hard on yourself. It may be frustrating, but you will feel much worse if you give up all of your healthy habits.

Foods to Boost Energy

Food can be a great way to boost your energy and keep you going throughout the day.

There are three ways in which food can help boost energy: by providing the body with sufficient calories, by stimulating metabolism to burn fuel more efficiently, and by providing stimulants (like caffeine),

To keep your energy up, is important to eat regular meals and snacks, and to be sure that you are making healthy choices.

Here are some foods to boost energy…

Eat your carbohydrates:

Fad diets have given carbohydrates a bad name, but this is unfounded. Carbohydrates are the body’s (and the brains) natural fuel for energy. Complex carbohydrates also supply the brain with serotonin, which helps to regulate mood. The key is to avoid highly processed carbs (white bread, sweets, sugar, etc.) and be sure to choose whole grains.

Water and tea:

Dehydration is directly linked with fatigue. Often we when being to feel low on energy, or even hungry, it is actually a sign that we are dehydrated. Be sure to always drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you want even more of a pick-me up, try having a cup of tea. Tea is great for your health and can give you a mild caffeine boost. Research also shows that the combination of caffeine and L-theanine in tea can improve alertness and memory.

Fiber:

Another one of the wonders of fiber is that it helps to slow down digestion and reduce blood sugar spikes. This means that it can provide a more steady supply of energy throughout the day.

Protein:

The amino acids in protein are the regulate cells growth and are the building blocks for muscle. Protein-rich foods also contain tyrosine, which boosts the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine to help you feel more alert and focused. Be sure to choose lean proteins and incorporate small portions into meals and snacks.

Breakfast:

One more reason not to skip breakfast. It truly is the foundation for your whole day. Those who skip breakfast have less energy, poorer memory, and delayed reaction times. Eating breakfast also gets your metabolism fired up for the rest of the day.

Nuts:

Nuts are rich in protein and monounsaturated fats, but they are also high in magnesium. Magnesium plays an important part in converting sugar into energy, and a deficiency of this mineral can create an energy slump. The best choices are cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts.

7 Ways to Burn More Calories Today

Weight loss is not magic. It will always come down to calories in (food) versus calories out (activity). The very best weight to jump start a healthy lifestyle that you can actually maintain is to begin making healthier food choices, and to get more exercise. However, many people change their diet without altering their level of activity.

Exercise does not have to mean hours spent at the gym. If you love working out and have a gym membership, terrific! If you don’t, you can try to find little ways to work more physical activity into your daily routine.

Here are some ideas to get you moving, ways to burn more calories today…

Jump-start your morning

Try stretching, doing yoga, working out with an exercise DVD, or even just doing some jumping jacks in the morning before you eat breakfast. It will help to jump start your metabolism and also wake you up and give you energy to start the day.

Take a walk

This one goes for any time of day. Take a brisk walk in the morning and enjoy the peace before a busy day. Go for a walk on your lunch break to reinvigorate yourself (great for beating the afternoon energy slump). Instead of plopping right down in front of the television, take a walk after dinner. If you have a dog, use this as your encouragement. Try walking the dog around the park, rather than just around the block.

Sneak in a desk workout

Try sitting on an exercise ball rather than your chair, it engages your core muscles and encourages good posture. Or, keep some lightweight dumbbells in a desk drawer for easy access. You can also search online for desk exercises (there are plenty).

Clean your house

Put on some great music and spend one hour house cleaning. Do the dishes, mop the floor, or scrub the bathtub. Vacuuming burns about 80 calories in 15 minutes. You will be active, with the added bonus of feeling like you accomplished something!

Take the stairs

Anytime you can, opt for the stairs. You can do this at the mall, in your office building, or in a parking garage.

Make commercials count

Why not take advantage of commercial breaks when you are parked in front of the television? Get up during each set of commercials and spend two minutes doing sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks, or using dumbbells. Even better, try to do exercises for an entire ½ hour episode. You still get to be entertained, and can burn a lot of calories at the same time.

Find an activity that you love

This is key to sticking with it for the long term. Do you love biking? Do it more. Or try going to the park and playing tennis, basketball, Frisbee, or roller-skating. Get out and go for a hike. If you love swimming, find the nearest rec center and try out their pool. If you find activities that you love, you are much more likely to keep it up.

Strategies for Dealing With Emotional Eating

dealing with emotional eating

Many of us are emotional eaters, which means that we eat even when we aren’t actually hungry. We may turn to food when we are feeling stressed, worried, sad, or tired. In these cases food acts as a way to comfort or reward ourselves. Unfortunately, this is one of the number one ways that people sabotage their healthy diets.

So, how do we learn to control it?

The first step in controlling emotional eating is to identify your triggers. Do you automatically reach for a snack when you are feeling stressed? Do you hang out by the buffet table at parties because socializing makes you feel anxious? Are you more likely to polish off a pint of ice cream if you are feeling sad or lonely?

One of the very best ways to identify triggers is to keep a food diary. This does not have to be formal, just any system that works for you. Be sure to write down what you are eating, but also how you are feeling before and after you eat. This will allow you to begin to really evaluate your habits and the emotions that may be driving you to eat.

Once you have identified your triggers, try the following tips to help regain control of your eating habits:

Listen to your body

Try not to feel overwhelmed by a sudden craving. Stop for a moment and evaluate if you are actually feeling hungry, or if you are just responding to an emotional trigger.

Manage stress

If stress is a major trigger for you, find ways to help control it. Stop and take 4-5 deep breaths, get up and take a walk, try yoga or meditation.

Get support

If you are feeling lonely or sad, try reaching out. Call a friend or family member and spend some time catching up. If you are depressed, consider getting therapy or look for a support group.

Fight boredom

Give yourself alternatives to eating. Get outside, watch a favorite movie, listen to some music, read a book, or clean your house. These distractions will help shift your focus away from unhealthy cravings.

Remove temptation

If you know that you are an emotional eater, then it helps to eliminate unhealthy temptations or comfort foods from your home. It is much easier to give in to a craving if you know that you have ice cream in your freezer or a bag of chips in the cabinet.

Fiber Facts and Tips

We all know that we need to get enough fiber, but what is it exactly, and what does that really mean?

Simply defined, fiber is the part of plant matter that cannot be completely broken down (digested) or absorbed by the body. It comes only from plant matter (fruits, vegetables, grains) not from any other kinds of foods.

There are two kinds of fiber:

Insoluble Fiber:

This kind of fiber does not dissolve in water and moves quickly through the digestive system. It can prevent constipation, and also prevent infections of the gut and intestines. The best food sources of insoluble fiber are vegetables, fruit (with skin), nuts, whole-grain flour, bran, and legumes.

Soluble Fiber:

This kind of fiber does dissolve in water. It binds with cholesterol and removes it from the bloodstream, and it also helps to lower blood sugar by slowing the digestion of food. The best food sources for soluble fiber are oats, oat bran, beans, peas, barley, apples, citrus fruits, and carrots.

The American Dietetic Association recommends that we get at least 20 – 35 grams of fiber per day, but most of us are only getting about 15 grams each day. This means that many of us are missing out on the innumerable health benefits that fiber can give us.

Tips for getting more fiber in your diet:

Choose a high-fiber breakfast to start the day. There are a variety of breakfast cereals that are high in fiber, look for one that has at least 5 grams per serving.

Always choose whole grain options. Avoid white or bread, and be sure to choose one that is whole grain and has at least 2 grams of fiber per serving. There are more and more options that fall into this category, and some brands pack in even more fiber. Also explore the variety of delicious grains available: brown rice, quinoa, barley, bulgur, etc.

Get more fruits and veggies.  Enjoy fruit as a snack, or with a meal. Bulk up the meals you love with extra vegetables. Add them to pasta sauce or soups. Try to always keep fresh produce on hand and enjoy.

Eat more beans. Legumes are a great source of fiber. Make black bean dip, or add canned beans to soup or salad. Have some hummus (made from garbanzo beans) with whole grain crackers as a high-fiber snack.

Make yourself some popcorn. Popcorn is extremely high in fiber. Keep it healthy by using an air popper and sprinkle on seasoning instead of dousing it in butter.

How to Navigate the Grocery Store

Grocery shopping can feel like a chore, but it doesn’t have to. With a little bit of planning and strategy it can be easy, and also help you stay on track with a healthy lifestyle.

The following are some helpful grocery store strategies:

Plan ahead:

This is key to a successful and easy grocery trip. Decide before you get to the store what meals you want to make for the week (including snacks) and make a specific list of required items. This will mean that you are only looking for the things on your list and not wandering aimlessly around picking things up. It is also a great feeling at the end of a busy day to come home and know you have everything that you need on hand to make a healthy dinner.

Shop the perimeter:

This is a common tip, but still a useful one. Most of the whole foods (produce, dairy, meat, fish) are kept around the perimeter of the store. The inner aisles are generally the ones containing soda, chips, sweets, and other highly processed foods.

Get fresh:

This relates directly to the previous tip. Try to buy as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible. Add them to all of your meals and use them as sides and snacks. Also, be realistic: if you know that you are more likely to eat veggie snacks if they are already pre-portioned, then it is worth the slight difference in cost.

Don’t shop hungry:

This just makes sense. If you go to the grocery store when you are ravenous, it is much harder to make good choices. Suddenly that economy sized bag of chips seems much more appealing than it would otherwise. Make sure that you have eaten before you go, and also that you stick to your list.

Aim for whole and unprocessed:

None of us has the time to stop and read every label in order to be sure that we are making the healthiest choices. Instead just look for foods that are either unprocessed (fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, fish, dairy), or try to get foods that are minimally processed. Even better; try not to buy anything that has more than 5 ingredients on the label.

Let the store help you:

There has been a growing trend of grocery stores helping to point out healthy foods for you. Look for signs or tags that highlight foods that are organic, heart healthy, whole grain, etc.

Ways to Cut Calories Today

We all have the best of intentions when it comes to eating well and losing weight, but too often we deprive ourselves or turn to drastic measures. Fad diets may seem to help you in the (very) short term, but they are impossible to sustain.

The only true advice regarding weight loss is that it ultimately comes down to calories in (what we eat) vs. calories out (physical activity). The best way to lose weight to is start making healthy choices, to cut back, and to increase physical activity.

If you can cut back 500 calories each day, it will translate to one pound lost in a week. The following is a list of tips and swaps that can help you along the way:

Fidget:

People who fidget can burn up to 350 calories a day just by bouncing their leg or moving around. Try getting up while on the phone, walking around while you are brainstorming, or just tapping your feet along to some music at your desk.

Don’t eat in front of the TV:

This is mindless eating, and those that do it have been shown to consume more calories than those who focus only on their meal.

Pack a lunch:

Packing your own lunch allows you to control the quality and amount of what you are eating. This can save you hundreds of calories, especially if you normally eat out or pick up your lunch.

Swap your latte for tea:

Coffee drinks can pack a huge calorie and fat punch. Add in the syrups and whipped cream, and they can top out over 600 calories. Try indulging in a cup of tea instead. You can still get your caffeine kick, but tea is calorie free and can even boost your metabolism!

Stay away from vending machines:

They can be oh-so-tempting when you get that late afternoon craving, but usually offer very few healthy choices. Bring your own snacks and have them on hand.

Listen to your body:

Many of us rush through our meals or eat while we are multi-tasking. Try to actually set aside time to eat while undistracted, and let your body tell you when you are starting to feel full.

Don’t clean your plate:

This rule is true particularly for restaurant meals. Eat only half of what is on your plate and box up the rest. You will still feel satisfied, and you get an extra meal out of it.

Sleep For Your Health

Sleep is incredibly important for all aspects of our health, but is often sacrificed due to our busy lives. Far too many of us don’t get the 7-9 hours that is required for most adults. However numerous studies have shown that people who get the proper amount of sleep have better physical health, emotional well-being, and also live longer than those who don’t.

Benefits of sleep:

Refresh:

Getting a good night’s sleep will make you feel alert and energized. This allows you to get more done, be more engaged, and to be active. In turn, if you have a positive and active day, you are more likely to sleep better the next night.

Reduce stress

Our bodies and brains need sleep in order to stay in balance. A lack of sleep is directly linked to increased stress and mood problems. Getting the required amount of sleep can greatly improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. Sleep also lowers blood pressure and helps to regulate stress hormones.

Help Memory

Sleep is not only important for our ability to take in and process new information, but it is also necessary for memory. Sleep deprivation affects our ability to access information that we have previously learned.  It also can affect our judgment and decision making skills.

Reduce weight

A research study conducted at the University of Chicago concluded that dieters who were well rested lost more fat than those who were sleep deprived. Sleep is also necessary to help regulate the hormones that affect appetite. After even one night of sleep deprivation, the change in these hormones can cause you to feel more hungry than usual, and can also affect metabolism and slow down metabolism.

Rev Up Your Metabolism

Our ability to lose weight involves a number of factors. The two primary factors in weight loss are the food choices that we make, and the amount of exercise that we get. Both of these help to create an overall healthy lifestyle, and both can help to boost metabolism, which is a very important part of weight loss.

The great news is that we have the power to influence our own metabolism. Exercise, (particularly weight training) is the number one way to help boost our BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). The other way to help boost metabolism is through the food and beverages that we consume.

Metabolism boosting foods:

  • Tea: Oolong tea is one of the very best natural metabolism boosters. The combination of caffeine and polyphenols contained in tea can increase energy expenditure (EE) and help to boost weight loss. It can also help to decrease blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and promote healthy skin and teeth.
  • Protein: A serving of healthy meat, such as lean turkey or chicken is low in calories and packed with protein. The enzymes found in proteins are potent natural metabolism boosters. The body uses extra energy to break down proteins and so will automatically burn more calories. Protein is also a fundamental building block of muscle, and the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn.
  • Spices: The vast majority of spices are either calorie free, or extremely low in calories and can help raise metabolism significantly for a few hours after eating. They work by increasing the body’s thermogenic process. This means that they raise your body temperature, which in turn increases the energy (calories) that you burn. Some of the very best metabolism boosting spices are hot peppers, cinnamon, ginger, cumin, and turmeric (often found in curry powder).
  • Grapefruit: While I would never promote something extreme like the grapefruit diet, there is research to substantiate the fact that eating grapefruits can reduce insulin levels and, in turn, increase weight loss and boost metabolism. So grab a grapefruit and treat yourself to a delicious snack. NOTE: Grapefruit can interact with certain medications, so please check with your doctor first.
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Results may vary.