6 Very Healthy Foods You Should be Eating Regularly

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Most trendy diets share a list of off-limit foods, which can range from beans and dairy to whole grains and sugar. However, there are some foods considered so nutritious they make practically any approved list. Thinking in those terms can be more helpful for reaching health goals. “Thinking about what you can’t have feels restrictive. But shifting your perspective to what you can add in is a healthier mindset,” says Jill Keene, a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified personal trainer in New York City.

Google anything from keto to Paleo to Mediterranean and the biggest thing you’ll see is a push to focus on fresh, whole foods. “The big-three types of foods that can make up most any diet are lean proteinshealthy fats and vegetables,” says Keene.

Here are six go-to foods you’ll find on any approved list:

The Mediterranean diet is rich in leafy greens (spinach, kale, chard, dandelion greens) and for good reason: Not only are they a non-starchy veggie (ideal for very low-carb diets), but they’re full of important vitamins and minerals like vitamins C, A and K, as well as iron.

Try them in a breakfast skilletsmoothie or meal-worthy salad.

Whether you’re on a high-, moderate- or low-fat plan, nutritionists advise honing in on healthy fats. Avocado fits the bill, as it’s rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) that are associated with cardiovascular health, says Keene. Plus, it’s a surprisingly rich source of GI-friendly fiber. One half of the fruit packs nearly seven grams.

Try using it in everything from chicken salad to sweet potato toast and even brownies.

Salmon is one of the top sources of omega-3’s, fatty acids that benefit the heart by slowing accumulation of plaque that gums up arteries and better lipid profiles and blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. The AHA recommends consuming two fatty-fish meals per week.

Use it in a breakfast salad or roasted for a quick weeknight dinner.

People who regularly consume nuts are less likely to gain weight over a five-year period or be overweight or obese, according to a study in the European Journal of Nutrition. Walnuts are particularly special because they contain a type of omega-3 called alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). They’re also a good way to eat more fiber and are rich in magnesium, which plays a key role in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body.

In the era of coconut everything, olive oil is an important staple in some of the top-ranked diets including DASH and the Mediterranean diet. Incorporating it in your diet as one of your go-to healthy fats pays off: Research shows people who do so may lose weight and reduce belly fat.

Use it to cook veggiespasta and soup.

As a source of natural sugar, people remain weary that eating berries may cause weight gain. The reality is that, in moderation, fruit — especially berries — can add a source of satisfying, subtle sweetness to any eating plan. Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries are rich in disease-fighting polyphenols and are lower-carb.

Try them as an oatmeal or yogurt topping, snack or dessert.
(Source: MyFitnessPal.com)

Better Body By Bk On the Job Workout Tip:

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Still standing!


Sure, standing around isn’t exactly traditional exercise, but research shows it’s got more than a leg up on sitting. After all, long periods of sitting are linked to increased risk for diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, whereas standing significantly increases your daily caloric expenditure Stand whenever you can, and consider roping in other coworkers to have standing meetings too! Small changes goes along way!

Workout Wednesday: 10 WAYS TO MAKE FITNESS AND NUTRITION A PRIORITY

fitness, Food & Nutrition, Workout Wednesday

10 Ways to Make Fitness and Nutrition a Priority

10 Ways to Make Fitness and Nutrition a Priority

If you feel stuck in a rut and have no idea how to get back on track with your fitness and nutrition goals, you’re not alone. I totally get you, and I know it’s a hard spot to be in when you desperately want change. Rationally, you know you need to get back on track, but it feels too overwhelming or that “everything else” is getting in the way of you feeling good again.

Shifting your mindset when you are feeling unmotivated and in a fitness or weight loss plateau is tough, and it may just take some soul searching mixed with a little strategery to get you back on track. Here are our best tips for getting unstuck and making fitness and nutrition a priority, again.

1
LOSE THE JUDGMENT

Saying “I am” is a powerful phrase and can be used for good or bad. This is because “I am” is linked to your identity. It’s important first and foremost to separate any negative unhealthy behaviors from “I am” statements that define you. No, you are not lazy, unmotivated, stuck or a slacker. Maybe your actions are resulting in you feeling these things, but making that mindset shift to separate actions from identity can be a powerful tool. You feel stuck, you feel lazy, you feel unmotivated, you feel like a slacker. You absolutely have the power to change those feelings — and they do not define you.

2
CREATE SPACE

We’re talking about giving yourself space for soul searching. Maybe that’s going on a walk or sitting outside or at a coffee shop to clear your head enough to ask yourself questions about where you are on your health journey. Maybe start with “I feel unmotivated or stuck (or fill in the blank) because … “ and see what comes up for you.

Take this a step further and journal it on paper. Allow yourself to write freely without judgment or overthinking. Free writing doesn’t even have to make sense, but truly the answers to whatever problem you are facing with your motivation are within you. You just need to create enough space to ask the right questions. What would it look like to make your change? What would happen if you didn’t do it? Does it provide a breath of fresh air, create clarity or make you more inspired?

3
DEFINE YOUR WHY

Do you have kids or grandkids? Setting a healthy example is a big priority for many parents as well as living a long and healthy life to enjoy your little ones and their little ones. Handed a few bad genes? Many people eat well and exercise regularly because they want to reverse or prevent diseases that could be influenced by lifestyle factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, depression and the list goes on.

Know the reason why you want to make a change (and write it down, save it to your phone’s lock screen or tape it to your mirror or fridge) to keep you centered and channel those positive vibes and motivation.

4
BLOCK TIME

This is a great strategy for those who need routine and thrive on daily schedules. Plan your week on a Sunday to determine when, where and how you can get movement in, or make a list of simple dinner ideas for the week. Go ahead and pre-book your workouts if you have to check in at a studio or group fitness class. To create that routine and build momentum, you may find it’s easier to stick to if you set time aside every day for your health, by either committing to the routine of “sweating daily” in any form or by carving out time, at the same time, every day. Maybe you set aside two hours on a Sunday to grocery shop or meal prep. Developing a pattern builds a healthy momentum and flow to help your habits stick.

5
NAME YOUR TOP 3

In the morning, or even better the night before, look at your “to do’s” for the next day and pull out your top 3, making 1–2 of them personal dos that accomplish your health priorities. Ask yourself, if nothing else gets done today/tomorrow, what would make me feel proud of myself? Put at least one of those responses in your top 3 list and at the end of the day when you’ve checked it off, your confidence will get a nice boost.

6
TAKE A SANITY BREAK

We all need sanity breaks in our day, so take time to sit outside to eat your lunch or go to that barre class during your lunch break. Maybe you’re a morning person and working out first thing and refueling with a balanced breakfast sets the tone for your entire day. If nighttime is more your style (or fits your schedule better), get that workout in before you head home or prioritize it for after you tuck the kids into bed. Eating well and moving daily influences mental health — when we take care of our body we feel less anxious, more confident and better overall.

7
INVOLVE THE KIDS

Hey, maybe you feel stuck because you simply have no “me time.” If you are a stay at home or work from home parent, or work too many hours at the office and you find yourself choosing to workout or spend time with your kiddos, maybe you just need to involve the kids in your workout. If you have little ones, push them in the jogging stroller or go to a park and they can sit in the stroller while you do your weights workout, or use them as the weights while you do squats or push press. The whole family will benefit from involving the kids in your workout. Same goes for healthy eating, you may feel that it’s hard to eat well because the kids won’t eat the same healthy meal. Get them involved in the grocery shopping and meal prep because eventually (with practice and patience) they will catch on to your family’s new style of eating.

8
PUT MONEY ON THE LINE

Spa day, vacation, new outfit? Pick something that you’d like to work towards, and save 5, 10 or 20 dollars every time you do a workout. If you and your partner want to plan a little getaway, instead of booking it right way, create a challenge to work together by working out toward that vacation.

9
COMMIT TO THE FIRST STEP

Think about the first thing you have to do to achieve your health goal. With working out, commit to putting on your workout clothes, shoes and filling up your water bottle. Rarely do you do these things and then sit on the sofa. With healthy eating, commit to putting dinner in the crockpot in the morning, making smoothie bags or overnight oats for faster breakfasts, or going to the grocery store to have healthy ingredients on hand to eat well all week long.

10
FIND YOUR TRIBE

From social media challenges and healthy living groups, health challenge groups in apps and group fitness classes, to following healthy living influencers on social — there are ways to stay motivated and inspired all around us.

Source: KRISTINA LARUE, RD, CSSD, LDN

3 Hormones to Keep in Mind for Weight Loss

Food & Nutrition
3 Hormones to Keep in Mind for Weight Loss

If hormones were people, they’d be pretty boring. See, hormones prefer the status quo, and they’re always trying to maintain homeostasis and keep your body the same.

But, like the friend who you can always manage to coax into trying a new restaurant, you can work with hormones and use them to help you lose weight.

Here are three hormones that play a role in weight regulation and how you can get them to work with you.

LEPTIN

Produced by fat cells, leptin signals to the brain how much fat is in the body, explains Dr. Scott Isaacs, medical director of Atlanta Endocrine Associates. When leptin levels are low, you tend to feel hungry, and when leptin levels are high, you tend to feel full.

But it’s more complicated than that, Isaacs adds. “As you start to develop obesity, you start to become resistant to leptin,” he explains. “So you may have high levels of leptin, but the brain isn’t registering that.” This can put you at risk for heart problems and diabetes, adds Susan Carnell, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Hormone hack: Some research suggests physical activity can help manage leptin levels. Although any exercise may help, resistance training appears to be more efficient at reducing leptin levels, according to a recent review of studies on overweight and obese middle-aged adults published in PLOS One. As a bonus, being more active can also help you lose weight.

Sleep is also key. “Leptin is made in your sleep. That’s one reason people with sleep deprivation are hungrier,” Isaacs explains. Research has demonstrated both acute and chronic sleep deprivation decrease leptin levels, so make good sleep habits a priority.

GHRELIN

The ying to leptin’s yang, ghrelin is produced by the stomach and often referred to as the hunger hormone. It’s highest when your stomach is empty and decreases after you eat. “It does many useful things in the body, like getting the stomach ready to process food,” Carnell explains. “We also know that if ghrelin increases, people are spurred to seek out food, and that stress can produce an increase in ghrelin.”

The combination of stress and increased ghrelin can be especially hard later in the day, according to a small recent study by Carnell and other researchers. “The evening may be a biological ‘high-risk period’ for overeating, particularly when paired with the experience of stress and if you’re prone to binge eating,” she says.

Hormone hack: Again, managing stress is key, as is making sleep a priority since deprivation can increase ghrelin levels. Additionally, Isaacs recommends eating high-fiber, high-protein foods, which will help keep you fuller longer.

CORTISOL

Although it’s thought of as a stress hormone because it’s secreted to help us decide whether to fight or flight, cortisol also promotes insulin secretion. “This makes us store fat on our bodies, particularly around our waists, which is not good for our health,” Carnell explains. “And it can increase our appetite.”

Hormone hack: Managing stress and how you cope with it is key to losing weight, Carnell says. Find what works for you, whether that’s making a cup of tea when you reach your mental boiling point, going for a daily jog or enjoying some time in nature. If you tend to stress eat, it may help to keep your go-to foods out of the house, Carnell adds.

 

Source:

BY BRITTANY RISHER

5 Drinks That Can Help You Lose Weight

Food & Nutrition, recipes
5 Drinks That Can Help You Lose Weight

Is what you drink affecting your ability to lose weight? The short answer is yes. Liquid calories play a huge part in our health, and the amount you consume is directly related to your ability to control the number on that scale.

Beverages go down quicker and easier than food. But that’s also the definition of “mindless” consumption: not paying attention while we’re doing other things like driving, working, watching television or sports, mingling, catching up with friends, etc.

Sodas, as most of the MyFitnessPal community knows, are liquid sugar. They do little to satiate hunger. But that’s also true of many other beverages, including energy drinks, iced lattes, bottled green teas, smoothies, sports drinks, alcoholic beverages, sweetened teas and, yes, even those fresh-pressed organic juices from your local juice bar. Most of these contain a lot of sugar and very little fiber to help keep you full. A few hundred calories per day can add up quickly, as many people fail to factor liquid calories into their daily intake.

Most sodas, bottled teas, energy drinks and sports drinks have sugar and calories listed on the container. Always read labels, and choose beverages with little- to no-added sugar and calories.

Alcohol is where things can get tricky, as calories, fat, sugar and carbohydrates aren’t required to be listed on labels. With 7 calories per gram of alcohol — it’s the second most concentrated source of calories, more than both carbohydrates and fat. It’s also absorbed directly into the bloodstream, meaning your body doesn’t burn extra calories in order to process and break it down.


Many of today’s trending craft beers have as much as 200–250 calories per pint, and that’s just for one. Wine has around 120 calories per 5-ounce pour, if you can limit it to just a glass. Cocktails mixed with sodas, simple syrups and tonic waters add up quickly, too — and come in much smaller portions that “vanish” rapidly. Limiting alcoholic beverages is one of the first steps you can take for successful weight loss.

But wait: The good news is there are a few things (other than water) that you can start sipping that may aid your efforts to shed some pounds. Drinking to promote better hydration, sleep and digestion can also help with weight-loss efforts. Here are five quaffs to consider.

We all know how important it is to drink enough water — it restores fluids lost through breathing, exercising and metabolism. It’s the number 1 thirst quencher … and cheap! But the timing could make a difference, too. When you start to feel hungry, drink some water. A 2015 study in the journal Obesity found that participants who drank about 2 glasses of water before meals were more likely to lose weight than those who skipped the glasses of water and went straight to eating.

Drinking green tea regularly may not only boost your fat fighting metabolism, but may also play a key role in weight maintenance and hunger suppression. One study from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that in just two months, green tea drinkers lost an average of six pounds more than those who drank plain water. Green tea is also brimming with antioxidants and flavonoids that are good for overall health. Drink freshly brewed tea with no added sugar or cream — bottled store-bought varieties have fewer antioxidants (the  concentration decreases the longer tea sits after brewing) and are often pumped full of honey or sugar.

The morning java boost is a necessity for many of us, but there’s proof that the jolt may spur a better workout (translation: burn more calories). A 2015 study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that participants could do almost 20% more leg presses and 12% more bench presses when they drank 2–3 cups of coffee before their workout. A similar 2011 study found an (albeit small) increase in energy expenditure both before and after exercise in the group that drank coffee before exercise.

In addition, coffee positively affects the hormones that help improve blood-sugar regulation. Maintaining stable blood sugar is essential to your well-being, overall fitness, regulating your hormones and plays a role in how much fat your body is able to store and burn.

But before you get too excited, we recommend you skip the sugar and heavy cream. The benefits noted above are singular to black coffee — not the mostly sugar and milk-based lattes, frappes, and mochas from Starbucks, McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts, which sell drinks that may contain more than 1/4 cup (50 grams) of sugar!

This fizzy, pleasantly puckery fermented beverage is made by adding a probiotic-rich bacteria to lightly sweetened tea. More and more research is looking into gut health and how it relates to obesity and weight, finding that the millions of bacteria that live in our guts may play a large role by altering the way we store fat, how we balance blood sugar and how we respond to the hormones that make us feel hungry and full. Fueling our gut with beverages and foods that stimulate good bacteria may make losing weight easier than we ever thought possible. Kombucha is readily available in most supermarkets and comes loaded with probiotics — just be sure to look for brands with less than 5 grams sugar per serving.

We’ve said it here before: Sleep is essential for more efficient weight loss. Drinking turmeric-steeped warm milk before bed may help you catch more zzz’s. The brain uses calcium and tryptophan (both of which are found in dairy products) to make sleep-inducing melatonin.

Turmeric contains a component called curcumin, which may shrink the size of adipose cells and limit fat accumulation. Curcumin also stimulates antioxidant effects, reduces inflammation and may help relieve anxiety. Research on turmeric is still young, but it certainly can’t hurt to add this warming spice to your nightly routine.

8 Healthy Summer Foods to Add to Your Diet

Food & Nutrition, recipes
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.

How to eat healthy while still enjoying graduation party season

Food & Nutrition, Holiday Fast Track, Humor, Motivation, Inspiration and Encouragement

graduation gif 2.gif

 With the end of the year and warmer weather comes celebration. And celebration often means delicious, decadent food and lots of it. Whether it be at a graduation party, family reunion or backyard barbecue with friends, there always seems to be a scrumptious spread calling your name. And let’s not forget the dessert table.
Overindulging at one celebration might not be so bad, but what happens when you have three parties to attend in one weekend? Before you know it, you’ll find yourself feeling tired, bloated and a perhaps a few pounds heavier—just in time for swimsuit season.

So how can you keep your body happy and healthy without missing the fun that summer celebrations bring? Read on for nine tips on how to enjoy parties while still keeping your health in mind.

1. Eat before you go.

Heading out to a graduation soiree where you know there will be killer desserts? Try eating a light, healthy meal before you go. You won’t be hungry for the main event like fatty fried chicken and instead will have room for that slice of cake. Even the smallest snack can help when it comes to having control over the buffet table. Just remember, no matter what you do, don’t go to a party starving. You’re likely to enter a “see-all-eat-all” mentality and go overboard.

2. Bring a healthy dish to pass.

By bringing a dish to pass, you’ll at least know there will be one healthy option to eat. Serve yourself a portion of your healthy contribution and supplement it with smaller portions of a few more indulgent items. Not only can you keep your diet in check, but you’ll also enable others to enjoy a lighter option.

3. Taste test.

The first time you visit the food spread, take a little bit of everything you want to try. Give it all a taste and decide on your favorites. Then go back and dish up what you know you will truly enjoy. This will prevent you from eating foods that are just so-so to your taste buds but are also high in calories and fat.

4. Distract yourself.

After trip one to the dessert table, walk away. Don’t stand or sit near it, as this can increase the temptation to make a return trip. Instead, offer to help the host out with dishes, take a break from the party to walk around the park or venture to the backyard to check out what else might be going on.

5. Be active.

graduation gif

After eating, don’t just sit around. Instead, get up and join in that slow-pitch softball game, round of cornhole or sand volleyball match. You might even burn enough calories to warrant an extra piece of cake!

6. Be mindful of your beverages.

Sure, nothing says it’s a party like a cold Spotted Cow or a fruity margarita. And by “a,” I mean one. Calories from beverages — whether it be from beer, mixed drinks, lemonade, punch or soda — can add up fast. Guzzle down two cans of Coke and you’ve just consumed 280 calories and nearly 80 grams of sugars. That’s about 20 teaspoons! Bottom line: it’s just as important to choose your beverages carefully as it is to choose your eats. Stick to one beverage of choice and then switch to water, diet soda or unsweetened tea.

7. Pack along a piece of gum.

After you’ve finished your first plate, whip out this little lifesaver. Choose a minty flavor to curb any cravings for another piece of chocolate cheesecake and to help take your mind off of food.

8. Balance your plate.

Just as you would for a typical dinner around the table at home, try to balance your plate. Load at least half of it with fruits and veggies, a quarter with lean protein, and the other quarter with grains. (Whole grains are best!)

9. Use a dessert plate.

Swing by the dessert table first before hitting up the food, but only to snatch a smaller, dessert-sized plate. Ditching an oversized dinner plate in favor of a smaller plate aids in portion control and will prevent you from overindulging right off the bat.

Now, I’d have to admit that part of the “party” is definitely the food, and that it’s perfectly okay to indulge every once in a while. But for all those other times, stick to these nine tips and you’ll be on your way to celebrating not only the occasion but also your commitment to a healthier lifestyle!

·

What to Drink When Water Isn’t Enough

Fitness on a Budget, Food & Nutrition, Uncategorized
drinking water

We all know hydration is key. Yet it seems like the whole country is on an H2O hiatus. After all, who needs regular old water from the tap when you can chug coconut water? Courtesy of the energy and sports drink retail market, which recently topped $25 billionthere are more hydration options than ever before.

It’s a big business that wants us to imagine big things (like a single drink might make us perform like a star athlete). Yet the truth is, if you’re averaging an hour at the gym a few times per week, eating healthy snacks and drinking water before and after your workouts provides adequate fuel and rehydration. According to a recent UC Berkeley study, most people who drink sports drinks at least once a day aren’t as physically active as they should be.

Instead of overdoing the designer drinks, think before you sip and make sure you’re not taking in more calories or sodium than you should.

COCONUT WATER

While this all-natural, refreshing drink is hyped as a super-hydrating powerhouse, the majority of studies don’t prove that it rehydrates the body much better than water. On the plus side, it contains less sugar than sports drinks and far less than juice. It’s also naturally rich in potassium, a key electrolyte that supports blood pressure and heart health, as well as bone and muscle strength. Yet one cup still packs 45 calories, which can add up quickly if you’re drinking it frequently. Bottom line: An occasional coconut water is fine, but don’t go overboard and read the label: Coconut water with added juice or extra flavorings can contain as much sugar as regular juice.

HYDRATION TABLETS

Portable tablets like those made by Nuun are designed to be dissolved in 16 ounces of water to provide key electrolytes like sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. There’s no hidden high-calorie pitfall: Every tab has one gram or less of sugar and around 12 calories. Not everyone can get on board with the fairly weak taste, which is similar to lightly flavored water. However, if you’re active outdoors especially in the sun, where excessive sweating makes electrolyte replacement important, the delivery system is awesome: the tabs come in cylindrical tubes that are lightweight, making them easy to stash in your backpack for any on-demand needs if temps soar during an afternoon bike ride or if that Sunday hike takes hours longer than expected.

SPORTS DRINKS

A simple, effective sports drink is one that refuels the body with some carbs (aka sugar) and electrolytes (aka sodium and potassium). The formula has launched a dizzying number of “performance” beverages, with some brands like Gatorade going so far as to promote distinct products for before, during and after exercise.

Yet these drinks contain tons of sugar, ranging from 35–52 grams per bottle. In truth, the idea that sports drinks are “good for you” entirely depends on whether your body needs them to recover from extra-challenging exercise. So: Was your last workout a grueling endeavor that lasted two hours or longer? A super sweaty run on an extra hot day? Congratulations, you earned a sports drink! If not, skip the unneeded sugar and drink water instead.


“FITNESS” WATER

Zero-calorie drinks in this category include Propel, water designed for “performance” with an electrolyte content similar to Gatorade (which owns the brand). Then there’s what some call “designer” waters, such as Smartwater from Coca-Cola or the the recently introduced Lifewtr from Pepsi. These contain very small amounts of electrolytes, mainly for flavor and are more similar to regular bottled water than sports drinks. Yet another entry here is VitaminWater Zero, lightly flavored zero-calorie version of regular VitaminWater. (The latter, although promoted as “healthy,” actually contains tons of sugar, and tends to have vitamins such as B and C, which are the ones most people get enough of already.) Not sure which one is best? Keep it simple and drink a glass of regular water — nature’s perfect hydration system.


Source: BY KATE CHYNOWETH

8 Things Trainers Wish Everyone Knew About Weight Loss

Uncategorized, Weekly Workout Meet Up!
8 Things Trainers Wish Everyone Knew About Weight Loss

Weight loss is one of the most common fitness goals trainers deal with. The reality, however, is that not every person who seeks to lose weight ends up reaching their goal. Often times, that’s because people striving for weight loss don’t go into it with the right mindset or information about what really works when it comes to shedding fat and building muscle.

Drawing upon their expertise and years of experience with clients, here’s what trainers want you to know about dropping pounds, plus what successful weight loss looks like from their perspective.

1
RESULTS TAKE TIME, AND IT’S BETTER THAT WAY

You probably already know it can take a while to see the benefits of working out and eating healthy, but knowing something and accepting it are two different things. “Many clients will join a fitness program only to terminate too soon,” says Michael Piercy, MS, certified strength and conditioning specialist, owner of The LAB and IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year 2017. Think about it this way: “The weight that you might want to lose didn’t get there in one day, so we know that it won’t come off in a day.”

Plus, there’s the fact that losing weight really quickly isn’t a great idea. “The faster you lose weight, the more likely it is to come right back (plus some) when you stop dieting,” says Christel Oerum, a certified personal trainer and diabetes coach. “When you lose weight too quickly, you also decrease your body’s metabolism, meaning that you burn fewer calories. When you have reached your weight goal and go back to a normal, healthy diet, you may have decreased your metabolism so much that even a ‘normal’ diet will make you gain weight fast.” That’s why slow and steady is the best approach, which means 1–2 pounds of weight loss per week maximum.

2
YOUR “WHY” IS AS IMPORTANT AS YOUR “HOW”

Having a plan for how you’re going to lose weight is great, but there will inevitably be moments when your motivation wanes. During those times, your reason for wanting to lose weight in the first place becomes even more crucial, according to Brian Nguyen, CEO of Elementally Strong. Ask yourself: Why are you doing this? Is this doctor-ordered for your health? If so, why would you follow those orders? “After all, most people know what they should be doing: Eat more broccoli and less sugar, get eight hours of sleep, exercise or be active for about 20 minutes a day,” Nguyen points out. To actually make those lifestyle changes that will affect your body composition requires a big “why.”

“Maybe it’s to be able to play with the kids without pain. Maybe it’s to reinvigorate your sex life with your partner. Whatever it is, no one’s goal is really the number on the scale,” Nguyen says. “Get to the real why and make yourself conscious of it daily.” That can include making a vision board, creating your own mantra, or journaling about your weight-loss experience. However you do it, the more you focus on the specific reasons you want to lose weight — the ones without numbers attached — the more likely you are to stick to it.

3
WHAT WORKED FOR YOUR FRIEND MIGHT NOT WORK FOR YOU

It’s easy to get caught up in trendy workouts, diets and wellness trends, thinking they could be the answer to all your weight-related woes. “I see this all the time,” says Alix Turoff, a certified personal trainer and registered dietitian. “A client will come to me and tell me what’s working for their friend and think that they need to be doing the same thing. If your friend is following a Paleo diet, and it’s working for them, that’s great but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to lose weight or meet your goals,” Turoff explains. Instead, it’s better to figure out a plan that capitalizes on the healthy eating and workout habits you may already have. “It’s important to realize that weight loss and nutrition are extremely individual and it’s OK to follow your own set of rules — within reason, of course.”

4
CRAZY-HARD WORKOUTS AREN’T REQUIRED

You might think the harder you work out, the faster the weight will come off, but that’s not necessarily true. “Don’t sign up for the most challenging boot camp in town with a goal of totally burning off your bad food choices,” says Shana Verstegen, fitness director at Supreme Health and Fitness. “This is a recipe for injury and burnout. Instead, find fitness activities that you enjoy and stick with them. If fitness is viewed as fun and something you look forward to, then there is no limit to how long you can maintain it.”

5
RESISTANCE TRAINING WILL MAKE A BIGGER DIFFERENCE THAN CARDIO

It’s a common misconception that to lose weight, you have to do a ton of cardio. “By mainly basing your weight loss on lifting weights and eating healthy food — and not just on lots of cardio and a super low-calorie diet — you will permanently increase your base metabolism, meaning that you will burn more calories every second of the day, even when you are not working out,” Oerum explains. “As you build more muscle mass and your metabolism increases, it will become easier and easier to both lose weight and to maintain your weight loss.” Of course, cardio isn’t a bad thing, and it deserves a place in your routine no matter what your goals are, but perhaps a smaller one than you might expect. Oerum emphasizes that resistance training and good nutrition are more effective for long-term results.

6
THE PEOPLE YOU SURROUND YOURSELF WITH MATTER

Having a community to reach out to can make a world of difference, and while you might not be able to control your family’s health habits, you can certainly make an effort to spend time with fitness-minded friends. “Don’t forget that you are the culmination of the five people you hang around with the most, so be sure to seek out friends who are already living that healthy and fit lifestyle,” Nguyen advises. “The bottom line is that no one does this alone.”

If you can, find a workout buddy who can help keep you accountable. “Have fun with the fitness game using a system of checks and balances with rewards and penalties,” Nguyen suggests. “Maybe the most consistent partner gets a free steak dinner or whoever is later to workouts does the meal prep for the following week.” By motivating each other, you’re also motivating yourselves.

PLAN HOW YOU’LL END YOUR WEIGHT LOSS

“One of the most common weight-loss mistakes is not having a plan for what to do after you reach your goals,” Oerum says. “Most people either keep following the same diet they used to lose weight or end up going back to how they ate before their weight loss.” Neither choice is ideal. “Instead, don’t think of your weight-loss journey as being done until you have managed to keep your goal weight for at least a month.” How do you do this? “After you reach your weight-loss goal, slowly start adding a little more (healthy) food into your daily diet.” Finding a calorie intake that allows you to keep your weight stable is just as much a part of the weight-loss process as shedding pounds.

8

IT’S BETTER NOT TO HAVE WEIGHT LOSS AS YOUR PRIMARY GOAL

You might be thinking, “What? How can this not be the goal if it’s why I’m training?” Easy. “Strive for athletic and wellness goals such as completing a race, improving your maximum lifts or tracking your food intake for 30 days straight,” Verstegen says. “The weight loss will follow. If you train as an athlete, you will eventually look like an athlete.”

Source: JULIA MALACOFF

 

Motivation Monday: 5 Tips to Lift You Up When Working Out Feels Pointless

Motivation, Inspiration and Encouragement, Uncategorized
5 Tips to Lift You Up When Working Out Feels Pointless

Have you ever felt like you’ve been working so hard to achieve your health and weight-loss goals but, no matter what, the people you want to notice just aren’t recognizing your slayage? You are not alone.

One of my group chats was all abuzz the other day about actress and SNL comedian Leslie Jones’ recent Instagram gym selfie:

While it took a lot of courage for Jones to express her vulnerability on social media, her caption got me thinking about how common these feelings of unworthiness about our bodies may be. Her comment made me reflect back to when I was 30 pounds heavier, struggling with my own feelings of failure, asking myself, “What’s the point in trying?” Heck, I’ve had those thoughts when I’m at a healthy weight and just not seeing the results I want, think I should be seeing or the results I want the world to see …

Leslie followed up with a post later in the day with the following caption:

“Hey!! I want everyone to know I post my real feelings cause I am a real person!! And I know I’m not alone. That being said I’m also 50 years old and know that life is life! And some days we are low! But the good thing is I know I’m loved by God and I’m good!! It’s important to respect your feelings as long as you don’t live there!! God bless!!”

Regardless of your religion or beliefs, Leslie’s thought is a powerful one — no matter who you are, some days you have low feelings, just don’t live there and know that you are loved.

With Valentine’s Day upon us, and images of perfect, happy couples everywhere, I want to leave you with a message: Stop trying for others. Start doing it for you.

Even if you are paired with a loving partner, you may still have those “What’s it all for?” moments.

Next time you wonder what’s it’s all for, take a look in the mirror and say: “Me.”

And yes, I know this can be hard. For example, maybe you’ve been regularly checking someone out at spin class with zero glances back, maybe you want your spouse to give you a hug when you get home from the gym, maybe you just want your work crush to notice you’ve lost 7/8 of a pound or maybe you just want someone, anyone to comment that you look damn good.

Drown out the need for external validation and just keep putting in work in the gym, keep logging (and sticking to your goals) and keep yourself top of mind — you will see results. Here are some self-love tips to help you along your health and fitness journey:

1. FIND SOMETHING YOU LOVE

Like most people, I love that post-exercise glow, the endorphin rush I feel just after leaving the gym, but I’ll be honest: I don’t always love the workout itself. So think about a workout you truly love. For me, it’s working out with my friend Alex. We always have the best time crushing stress in the gym. So, identify that thing for you. It could be a Zumba or dance class. Maybe walking, yoga or tai chi is your thing. Or, you may surprise yourself by trying something new like rock climbing, biking or even golfing.

2. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO LIFT YOU UP

I was taught at a young age that you really just need one good friend. To this day, it still rings true for me. Your group of friends doesn’t have to be big, but it should include people who lift you up and make you your best self. Reach out to friends who can help motivate and encourage you along the way. Try to get yourself one good friend who can support you on your health and fitness journey. My friend Deesha recently started doing 6 a.m. bootcamp workouts and she’s started sending a note to to let me know she was on her way to her session. Some days I’d wake up at 6:15 a.m. to a text from her saying she was going and that was all the motivation I needed to get out of bed to do my own workout instead of hitting snooze. The same thing goes for food — you might want to avoid a meal with a friend who’s known to go crazy at dinner (real talk: sometimes I am that friend) … but that friend might be the perfect fit for a movie or walk around the neighborhood.


3. REFLECT ON HOW FAR YOU’VE COME

If you’re in the middle of reclaiming a workout routine or tracking your food intake, remember that time you could barely lift the current dumbbells you are using. If you’re at the start of your wellness journey, think back to the time when you were too intimidated to even start. The fact you’ve made the commitment to start eating better or exercising is progress from where you began. I often get a rush of self love when I think about how I used to be terrified of the sled at the gym and now I run up to push it — loaded with weights — across the gym like a pro.

4. IT’S OK TO REACH OUT FOR HELP

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, sad or stressed, reach out to friends and family for support. It can be a text or a phone call. Better yet, tell the people that matter to you what you need from them: maybe it’s as simple as your spouse giving you a hug or high five when you get home from your run. The MFP community can also be incredibly supportive- check out the community message boards for inspiration from other users. You can even introduce yourself and ask for words of motivation. But if those tactics are not helping or not providing the level of support you need, then don’t hesitate to get help from a professional who is better equipped to help you explore the root of your sadness, stress or lack of self worth.

5. DO IT FOR YOURSELF

No matter what your health, fitness or weight-loss goal is, you’ve got to make the change for yourself. You can be motivated by others, but at the end of the day if you aren’t doing it for yourself you will be let down. Stop focusing on the number on the scale and the external praise, instead shift your focus to your increased energy and how much better you feel physically when you are a few pounds lighter.

Source: by Kirby Bumpus, MPH

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