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Your 7-Day Guide to Forming Better Habits For Weight Loss

Source: MyFitnessPal

Small changes add up to big results over time, especially if you’re looking to lose weight with tweaks to your nutrition and fitness habits. Moreover, making simple changes gradually helps ensure it’s an overall lifestyle change and something that’s sustainable long term — preventing the likelihood you’ll gain the weight right back.

“People should plan to establish habits that they can follow indefinitely,” says Tami Smith, a certified personal trainer based in Williamstown, Massachusetts. “They should ask themselves this question: ‘Is this something that I can see myself adhering to forever?’ If the answer is no, then it’s not a great plan.”

The healthy habits outlined below are ideal for starting small, although if it’s still intimidating, don’t worry, you can always go at your own pace and implement two a week or even two a month. Find what works best for your lifestyle and build from there.

While it’s a great plan to form better weight-loss in the new year, you can always start (or return to it) anytime.

Your 7-Day Guide to Forming Better Habits For Weight Loss
Your 7-Day Guide to Forming Better Habits For Weight Loss

Replace some of your caloric beverages with water. Keep a water bottle nearby to encourage you to drink regularly throughout the day. “Increasing one’s water intake is definitely an important tool in any weight-loss program since it can help fill you up,” says Keri Gans, RDN, a nutrition consultant based in New York City and author of “The Small Change Diet.” “If someone does not like the taste of water, I suggest flavoring it with fruit slices or herbs or pouring a glass of sparkling water.”

Your 7-Day Guide to Forming Better Habits For Weight Loss

Adding short spurts of exercise to your schedule increases your step count and also helps counteract the negative effects of sitting. “Three 10-minute walks per day can eventually be condensed to two 15-minute walks per day, then one 30-minute walk,” says Smith. After that, you might want to continue to increase your distance, notes Smith.

Your 7-Day Guide to Forming Better Habits For Weight Loss

Instead of eliminating certain items from your diet, gradually add more fruits and vegetables, which provide several important vitamins and minerals and nutrients like fiber that keep you full. Over time, you may find yourself gravitating toward produce, instead of processed foods, which saves calories and helps you shed pounds. “Choose to have one fruit per day, perhaps as a dessert with lunch, and then build to 2–4 servings per day,” says Gans. The same goes with vegetables; gradually build them into your diet, starting with breakfast. The more successful you are, the more likely you are to keep including more.”

Bodyweight exercises are awesome for improving strength and building lean muscle, which can help burn more calories.“I recommend starting with bodyweight exercises before attempting to add weights to the mix,” says Smith. Pick a bodyweight exercise (or two) to master such as lunges, burpees or pushups. Perform 4 sets of 12–15.

Your 7-Day Guide to Forming Better Habits For Weight Loss

If mindless snacking is your downfall, consider what you’re eating and your portion sizes. “View snacks as mini-meals,” suggests Gans. “Focus on enjoying something that is less than 200 calories, contains under 6 grams of added sugar, more than 5 grams of protein, and at least 3 grams of fiber.”

You’ll be more likely to follow through long term if you stick with a pace that feels achievable.

“Start at a low intensity and build as your fitness levels improve,” says Sergio Pedemonte, a certified personal trainer based in Toronto. Go for a walk, do some gentle yoga or cycle at an easy effort, for example.

Writing down what you eat and drink can help you realize every morsel you’re consuming, including food you steal from other people’s plates or bites you sample while cooking. “Many people who are starting a weight-loss program benefit from food journaling,” says Gans. “It enables them to see exactly what they are eating and when, as well as mistakes they may be making.” Use an app like MyFitnessPal to help you notice trends and make healthy swaps.

Your 7-Day Guide to Forming Better Habits For Weight Loss

“I recommend beginners start with 2–3 full-body workouts a week for one month before moving into split training — i.e., upper-body and lower-body workouts,” says Pedemonte. This can help you get the most bang for your buck at the start, and it doesn’t have to be super long, either. Try this 10-minute, no-equipment, total-body workout.

Think about the healthy changes you want to make to your diet — high-protein make-ahead breakfasts, more fruits and vegetables, fewer soft drinks — and map out the items you’ll need the next time you get groceries. “Planning meals ahead of time and shopping accordingly is one of the best ways to set yourself up for success,” says Gans. It’ll save you time, money and calories.

You might feel like pushing yourself, but avoiding too much too soon may keep you from becoming sidelined unnecessarily. “Starting slow minimizes the risk of getting injured the first week,” says Pedemonte. One way to make sure you’re not overexerting yourself is to calculate your heart rate zone (or use a monitor like Wahoo Fitness TICKR to do it for you) and aim to stay in zones 1–3 this week and progress until you can spend more time in zones 4 and 5.

Your 7-Day Guide to Forming Better Habits For Weight Loss

Remember, consistency beats perfection for losing weight. If you’re eating healthily 80% of the time, you’re on target. If you slip up, don’t feel like all is lost — just be prepared to follow healthy habits again at the next meal. “Healthy eating does not mean choosing healthy foods 100% of the time,” underscores Gans. “One of the best things you can do to set yourself up for success is already be mentally prepared for some failure.”

Fitness challenges, like this 31-day squat, lunge and pushup plan can help you commit to moving your body daily. Building and maintaining a streak can be motivating and keep things exciting. “It’s a great way to connect with others, particularly during these times,” notes Smith, so be sure to get your loved ones involved.

Your 7-Day Guide to Forming Better Habits For Weight Loss

Sleep is often overlooked, but it greatly impacts nutrition, fitness and weight loss. Aiming for quality sleep (at least 7–8 hours per night), can help curb cravings, allow your body to recover after a tough workout and keep hormones in check to support weight loss. “Setting a bedtime allows you to make better decisions about what you eat and when you eat it,” says Pedemonte. “[And] while the body is sleeping, it goes through a recovery process that allows the body to burn fat, repair tissues and build muscle.” Check-in with how much sleep you’re getting, and if it’s not enough, set your bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night until you hit your goal.

Source: My Fitness Pal

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Food & Nutrition recipes

8 Healthy Summer Foods to Add to Your Diet

It’s summer—that amazing time of year when fresh produce abounds. Better yet: many of summer’s fruits and vegetables are brimming with secret health benefits.
Corn

1. Corn

Nothing says summer like fresh sweet corn. And did you know that two antioxidants—lutein and zeaxanthin—in corn may act like natural sunglasses, helping to form macular pigment that filters out some of the sun’s damaging rays? It’s true. The same antioxidants may also help lower your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration—the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60 (though much of the damage occurs decades earlier).

Iced Coffee

Pictured Recipe: EatingWell Frozen Mochaccino

2. Iced Coffee

An iced pick-me-up is a great way to start your summer mornings. Better yet: drinking a single cup of coffee daily may lower your risk of developing skin cancer. In one study of more than 93,000 women, published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, those who drank one cup of caffeinated coffee a day reduced their risk of developing nonmelanoma skin cancer by about 10 percent. And the more they drank—up to about 6 cups or so per day—the lower their risk. Decaf didn’t seem to offer the same protection.

Tart Cherries

3. Tart Cherries

They deliver a host of health benefits. You may have heard that drinking tart cherry juice can help you get a better night’s sleep and quell post-workout pain (read more about that here). But did you know that compounds in tart cherries may also help you slim down and get leaner? When scientists at the University of Michigan Health System put rats on a high-fat diet supplemented with either a tart-cherry powder (equal to 1% of the weight of their total diet) or the same number of calories from carbohydrate, those that got the cherry powder gained less weight and body fat. Why? The anthocyanins in tart cherries activate a molecule that helps rev up fat burning and decrease fat storage.

Tomatoes

4. Tomatoes

There’s no question that sunscreen should be your first line of defense against the blazing summer sun. But eating tomatoes could give you a little extra protection: consuming more lycopene—the carotenoid that makes tomatoes red—may protect your skin from sunburn. In one study, participants who were exposed to UV light had almost 50 percent less skin reddening after they ate 2 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste (or drank about 1 2/3 cups of carrot juice daily), in addition to their regular diet, for 10 to 12 weeks. Supplements, however, weren’t as effective: in the same study, those who received a lycopene supplement or synthetic lycopene weren’t significantly protected against sunburn.

5. Watermelon

5. Watermelon

Staying hydrated keeps your memory sharp and your mood stable. It also helps keep your body cool (by sweating) during hot summer months. The good news is that you don’t just have to drink water. You can eat it, too: in addition to delivering skin-protecting lycopene, watermelon is 92 percent water (hence the name). Another boon? Research shows that eating foods that are full of water helps keep you satisfied on fewer calories. (Interestingly enough, drinking water alongside foods doesn’t have the same effect.)

Raspberries

6. Raspberries

Raspberries are a great source of fiber—some of it soluble in the form of pectin, which helps lower cholesterol. One cup of raspberries has 8 grams of fiber—and a study in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that eating more fiber may help prevent weight gain or even promote weight loss. Over the course of a two-year study, researchers found that when study participants boosted their fiber by 8 grams for every 1,000 calories, they lost about 4 1/2 pounds. Try it for yourself. If you’re consuming 2,000 calories per day, aim to increase your fiber by 16 grams

Iced Tea

7. Iced Tea

Sure, a tall glass of iced tea on a hot day is refreshing, but did you know it might also do your body good? Studies show if you drink tea regularly, you may lower your risk of Alzheimer’s and diabetes, plus have healthier teeth and gums and stronger bones. How? Tea is rich in a class of antioxidants called flavonoids. Regardless of the variety—black, green, oolong, white or herbal—maximize the power of tea’s flavonoids by drinking it freshly brewed. If you want to keep a batch of cold tea in your refrigerator, “add a little lemon juice,” recommends Jeffrey Blumberg, Ph.D., director of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. The citric acid and vitamin C in that squeeze of lemon—or lime, or orange—help preserve the flavonoids.

Blueberries

8. Blueberries

Fresh blueberries straight from the berry patch are a special treat! Turns out the antioxidants in them may help ward off muscle fatigue by mopping up the additional free radicals that muscles produce during exercise, according to recent research out of New Zealand.

Source: —Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D.

Categories
Food & Nutrition

Benefits of Meal Prep: Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Meal Prep

how to meal prep

Many of us aspire to live a healthy lifestyle, to feel fit and energized. But let’s face it, life can be busy! While setting goals to eat healthy may be easy, following through with those goals and staying consistent can be tricky.

When you’re busy navigating through your daily life, the thought of cooking all of your own meals at home can sometimes feel impossible. Not to mention warding off temptations at restaurants. And let’s face it- time is the number one “make or break” factor when it comes to deciding on a meal.

If you’re tired of ordering junk food out of impulse, spending too much money at restaurants, and not reaching your fitness goals, get ready to meet your new best friend: meal prep!

Short for meal preparation, ‘meal prep’ is the act of planning, preparing, and packaging your meals and snacks in advance, typically for the upcoming week, with the intention of clean eating and portion control. It is the key that helps many people reach their health and fitness goals. Keep in mind there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to do meal prep, as it’s all about what works for you personally. The ultimate goal is to save time in the kitchen and to have access to healthy meals during the week. Some people find they like to prepare their breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week, while others will only prep one meal for each day.

Set aside some time for initial planning and cooking, and you will be amazed at the many benefits meal prep has to offer.

1. You will save money

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive if you plan in advance! Buy things in bulk, and don’t forget to take advantage of your freezer. By planning your meals in advance, you will know exactly what you need to buy, instead of going to the store a few times each week to pick up last minute ingredients. You will also be freed from buying pricey meals at lunchtime.

2. It will help you lose weight

Planning your meals in advance is key to weight loss as you know exactly what you are putting into your body, and how much. A weekly meal prep routine allows you to control how many calories you are inputting everyday, which is the perfect recipe for weight loss.

3. Grocery shopping will become easier

Once you know what meals you will be eating for the week, grocery shopping will feel like a breeze! Let wandering aimlessly around the aisles be a thing of the past. Show up  prepared with a list and divide it into categories such as fruits, vegetables, protein, frozen food, dairy, grains, and fats. It will also help you avoid the aisles you don’t need to be in, such as the candy aisle!

4. You will learn the art of portion control

The beauty of meal prep is that it teaches you balance. Packing your meals in containers refrains you from being able to reach for more. If you want to lose weight and consume the right amount of nutrients, portion control is vital. You can still treat yourself from time to time, but monitoring how much you eat is an important factor.

5. You won’t waste food

Have you ever had to throw away produce that went bad before you had a chance to eat it? It’s not a good feeling. When you meal prep, you utilize all of your ingredients for the week, and it is very unlikely that you will have any left over if you plan correctly!

6. You will save time

Although you do need to invest some time upfront to plan out your meals properly and to cook them, you will still end up saving time overall. Think about how much time we waste standing in front of the refrigerator, trying to figure out what to cook. Once your meals are prepared ahead of time, all you need to do is take them out of the fridge and heat them up!

7. It is an investment in your health

The best part about meal prep is that you get to choose ahead of time what you will be eating! People who do this are able to eat cleaner than those who don’t, with ease! You won’t be scrambling to find something to eat, and risk being exposed to unhealthy options, because your meal is already prepared, and it’s healthy! The benefits of eating a clean diet are endless. Good nutrition won’t contribute to just a smaller waistline, but it will also contribute to heart health and other factors!

8. You will gain more willpower

As you get into the swing of consistently eating healthy, you will gradually stop craving sugar and other fattening foods. Keeping a routine in place is key to healthy eating, and you will find it becomes easier to turn down the foods you know you shouldn’t be eating!

9. It will reduce stress

Stress can affect your immune system, cause digestive issues, and disrupt your sleeping patterns. Coming home from work and trying to come up with a plan for dinner can be stressful. Not with meal prep! You can say goodbye to the “what’s for dinner” stress and relax knowing that your meal just needs to be heated up!

10. It will bring variety to your meals

If you are able to put thought into your meals ahead of time, it will become easy to choose from several different food categories (protein, fat, grains, vegetables, etc) in order to get the variety you need to fuel your body. Feel free to mix it up every week! You won’t be limited to the basic foods you make out of habit as meal prep encourages you to get more creative by looking up new recipes.


Remember, there is no right or wrong way to achieve a meal prep routine. Everyone has their own way of doing it and through trial and error you will begin to realize what works best for you, and what doesn’t!