Motivation from Mel Robbins, More Good Coffee News, the 8 Hour Diet: It’s Friday. I’m in Link Love

Link-Love2

Ah . . . . Friday. Here you are once again. The funny thing about Friday is the love/hate relationship that I have with it. Of course I’m looking forward to the weekend. But, the end of another work weeks means that five more days of my life have slipped away. Have I made the best of them?

Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no.

One way to bring meaning to a week that has been less than overwhelmingly interesting in any way is to share tips via links about health and wellness news that I’ve found to be fascinating this week. I hope you enjoy and will share.

 – Not can you, but do you have the will to [change]?
–  The 8 Hour Diet is still a thing
–  Burn20 will inspire you to move more, and . . . .
–  There is now proof (almost) that coffee and a nap are the perfect combo.

It’s Friday. I’m in [Link] Love!

Mel Robbins on Why Motivation is Garbage –Mel Robbins, creator of the 5 Second Rule,  is a motivational speaker with one of the of the top 20 Tedx talks in the world. In this interview with Tom Bilyeu, she talks about how she changed her life with one simple strategy that came to her during a low point.  In this compelling interview she talks about how the habit of hesitation sabotages our success and what to do about it. The interview is worth a watch and just may motivate you to make some changes in your life. For an additional motivational burst, check out her short inspirational video This is Where Your Dreams Live below.

 

 

The Complete Guide to Intermittent Fasting – For several years I have practiced the 8 Hour Diet, intermittently at least, and can confirm that it has significant benefits. The 8 Hour Diet is believed to help you lose weight (without counting calories or starving yourself) and reduce the risk of chronic conditions including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s Disease.  The diet works because for 16 hours a day you are not consuming any calories. During this 16-hour period, the body is able to rest, repair and burn calories.

The book, The 8 Hour Diet by David Zinczenko and Peter Moore was a New York Times bestseller and brought the concept of intermittent fasting mainstream. For the most in depth look at the diet, the book can be purchased at Amazon.com. To learn more before buying the book, check out Stylecraze’s The 8 Hour Diet – Complete Guide.

 

Clock 2

 

Burn20 – Ingrid Macher’s Facebook page Burn 20 features short workout  videos – usually three exercises in each one – almost daily. Having these in your Facebook newsfeed is motivating and provides some great ideas for exercises that target a variety of muscle groups that can be done in a short amount of time.  Ingrid also has a free 5-day meal plan that you can download.  You can access the videos here – Burn 20 Videos, and the entire Facebook site here, Burn 20. Give her a ‘like’ on FB and start getting the videos today!

Burn 20

 

Coffee + Nap = Perfect Combination – I read some time ago that drinking a cup of coffee before taking a short nap would help you wake up more recharged than either option on its own. Researchers continue to study the benefits of the “coffee nap” and deem it to be the perfect combo. Why does it work you ask? “Both sleeping and caffeine block the brain’s receptors of adenosine, which is the chemical that causes drowsiness. While a nap on its own can leave a person feeling refreshed, the introduction of coffee beforehand can make for an even more effective energy boost.” Click here to learn more.

Cup of Coffee

I’ll have more next Friday.

In the meantime, Be Social! Share!

The Reality of No-Pain No-Gain and The Comfort Zone Thing

I like to be comfortable and I hate pain. I’ll bet you do too. No one avoids going to the dentist or paying off the balance on my credit card better than me.

For a year or more I’ve been working within my comfort zone. Every workout has been pre-empted with a mental reassurance of  ‘You’re good, girl. Just do what you can do’.

Guess what?

That doesn’t work.

The reality is that if you want to exceed, or better yet, excel at anything you are going to experience some pain. You are going to be uncomfortable. The rewards that come from both of these not-so-awesome ‘feelings’ are worth it. Life beings at the end of your comfort zone.

 

Comfort Zone

Dealing With Uncomfortable Pain: Outsmart Your Brain

I had to begin to reevaluate my own reality a few months ago when, for the second year in a row, it was looking like I wouldn’t be ready to run the Illinois Marathon (IM) half marathon. The IM is a huge annual event in my hometown (practically). I work in C-U and the this event brings that community to life on a level you might not be able to understand until you experience it.

I love the Illinois Marathon. Last year I didn’t participate for reasons too boring to go into here. This year, for similar reasons I thought I wouldn’t participate again. And then, something happened. I was sitting at my desk at work and my inner voice that always says “You’re good, girl” spoke to me in a different way.

She said, “What is wrong with you? Two years in a row you’re not going to run the half in the Illinois Marathon? ” I realized that if I didn’t do it this year I would never do it again.

At that moment I registered for the event and spent the next six weeks training so that I would be ready to, once again, run 13 miles.

Out of My Comfort Zone

My long runs took place on Saturday or Sunday morning. It was spring in Illinois and that means it’s either too chilly or too warm. There’s no in between. On some days it rained.

The first week I ran seven miles, the next week eight. Finally I got up to a painful, uncomfortable nine miles. There were days I didn’t want to go. There were days when my brain kept talking me out of going one more mile.

Why?? I want to do this. Why is my own brain working against me?

I’m not sure but I think it has to do with the way we have convinced ourselves that the status quo is good enough. We start to believe that we shouldn’t ever have to experience pain or be uncomfortable. I don’t know who to blame for that and it doesn’t matter now. If you can overcome that voice in your brain that tells you ‘you’re good’ when you’re not or that ‘you’ve got this’ when you don’t, you can reach your goals.

Was It Worth It?

Oh yes! It was awesome. Here I am at the Memorial Stadium Finish Line with my daughter.

half marathon

And here’s me with my daughter and other like-minded people I know that are willing to push to reach their goals.

IM Collage

After the half marathon I was ready for more painful and uncomfortablness.

I ran the Lake Mingo 7 mile trail run last week. The trail run is a series of rugged hills that suck the life out of you followed by valleys where you feel like you are going to fall head over heels. I was not comfortable at all after mile 2. But, look at me. I got a medal! I got fourth in my age group.

Lake Mingo Train Run

Here’s What I Know

I could not have done this without these 3 things:

— Changing my mental attitude to put an end to the complacent acceptance that whatever I can do is good enough. It’s not, and that thinking leads to nothingness.

— Seeking out people who are willing to be uncomfortable with me. If you can find people that can handle a little pain and you are able to support each other in the process you’ve struck gold. The picture below is a group of us that conquered the Lake Mingo trail.

Lake Mingo

 

— Accepting that there is going to be some pain in the process. It might be rain hitting your face on a training run or having to get out of a warm bed a lot earlier than you want to. If you are going to get what you want out of life getting uncomfortable and experiencing some pain is  inevitable.

It’s not easy being exceptional but, I know that you can be.

I’m begging you to settle for nothing less.

Be Social! Share!!

 

Five in 30 Week Two: How Did You Do Plus a Quick Tip

5-in-30-header-ptcdn

You’ve completed the first week of the challenge and it’s time to take a look at your goal and evaluate how you did.

Did you accomplish the goal 100%? If not, what percentage would you give yourself?  75%, 50%, 25% or 0%?  The reason this is important is because you need to know if you’ve set a good goal.  If you accomplished the goal 100% you may be able to set that goal again next week and successfully accomplish it. You could even make the goal (slightly) more challenging.

If you are at less than 100% you need to look at what got in your way. Being honest with yourself about this allows you to recognize what you could do different if you choose this goal again. Here’s an example:

S.M.A.R.T. Goal Planner

What specifically will I achieve?
I will walk on my lunch hour for a half an hour Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week.

How will I measure It?
I will assign a completion number for each day that I walk: 25% per day. In other words one day is 25%, two 50%, etc.

Is it achievable by me now?
Yes. I have an hour for lunch and my job is next to a rec center that has an indoor walking track that we are allowed to use.

Is it relevant to my larger goal?
Yes. My goal is to lose five pounds in 30 days and physical activity will help me burn more calories which will assist in my weight loss.

By what dates will I achieve it?
By Friday, January 20.

How did you do? (Assign goal completion number)
75%

Let’s assume you missed one day. What happened on that day that kept you from taking the 30 minute walk?

What can you do to make sure that doesn’t happen again?

What are some other things you could do if you aren’t able to walk for 30 minutes?

It’s a good idea to come up with some ideas now such as walking after work, adding an extra 10 minutes to the walks on the other days, or doing a quick at-home workout before or after work in place of the walk.

Whatever goal you have set, this is the tried and true method that successful weight loss coaches use with their clients. Doing this only takes a few minutes each week and will keep you from setting unachievable goals that leave you discouraged and ready to quit. Remember, goals must be achievable because success breeds success.

The 7 Minute Workout

This workout has been around for a while but it is still considered to be one of the best short, simple, and effective workouts around. It is the 7 Minute Workout from the New York Times that now has an app to go with it for both iPhones and iSOs.

This workout can be done anywhere at any time. It’s a good calorie burner and can give you just the bump you need to get you to the goal of losing five pounds in 30 days. Plus, there’s now an advanced 7 Minute Workout so once this one gets too easy you’ll have a new challenge. Little fitness hacks like these can keep you moving towards your goal.

Be Social! Share!

Five in 30 Week One: Let’s Get Real

5-in-30-header-ptcdn

Welcome to Week One of the Five in 30 Sensible Weight Loss Challenge

Last week when I posted the article about the upcoming Five in 30 Sensible Weight Loss Challenge I said you only had to do a couple of things to be successful in this program:  S.M.A.R.T. goal setting (click here to download the printable goal tracker) weekly weigh-ins, and regular visits to PTCDN for weight loss tips to keep you motivated.

There is one more thing you need to do. You need to get real. What I mean by that is you need to figure out what change(s) you have to make starting today if you are going to lose five pounds in 30 days.

You have five pounds you want to lose. It is true that journaling, regular weigh-ins and goal setting/tracking will help you get to your goal, but you also need to acquire, eliminate or at least tweak those one or two behaviors that are getting in your way. Then, the other things mentioned – journaling, goal tracking and regular weigh-ins – will help you figure out whether or not what you’re doing is working. If it is, keep doing it. If it’s not you can fix it before you get discouraged.

Step One

You have five pounds to lose. That means you have some habits that are causing you to hold on to five pounds more than you want. What are they?

Possibly too much of the following:

– Sugary drinks (soda, sweet tea, special coffee drinks)

– Alcohol

– Convenience foods (fast food, heat and eat)

– Sugary foods (confections, candy, granola bars, some dairy products)

– Carb-loaded foods (bagels, breads, pasta, rice)

– Special occasion splurges (happy hour, birthday cake, pizza night)

– Inactivity

Or, not enough of some of these things:

– Low-calorie-high-nutrition foods (vegetables, some fruits, lean proteins)

– Physical activity

– Motivation

– Time (meal planning, grocery shopping, journaling)

number-2Pick Two

Once you’ve decided what it is you need less and/or more of, pick two. Now it’s time to set a S.M.A.R.T. goal for each one

– What is my goal?

– What specifically will I achieve?

– How will I measure it?

– Is it achievable by me now?

– Is it relevant to my larger goals?

– By what dates will I achieve it?

Make sure you put this in writing in your journal or on the goal tracker.

 

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Once you get the goals picked and written down, the magic weight loss will begin, right? If you’re lucky you’ll wake up every day excited and motivated to achieve your goals.

That is sometimes the case, but often you have to start behaving differently before you can build a different mindset. To get you started, create some positive affirmations that will help you embrace your behaviors. “I feel so much better when I eat more vegetables.” “The 15 minute walk in the morning energizes me for the day.”  “Taking time to plan meals is positive for me and my family.”

How Positive Affirmations Can Get You Unstuck and Moving Again

Keep saying these affirmations to yourself until you believe them. Your brain has more power over your body and its behaviors that you realize.  If you make a habit of positive self-talk, losing the five pounds will happen.

See you next week!

Be Social! Share!

10 Ways to Improve Your Health This Year

Making a few basic changes to your lifestyle can have a big impact on your health. Below are 10 tried and true tips to help you get started on having a healthy 2017!

healthy-people-jumping

Flickr photo by ishan jha

It’s A New Year! Let’s Do This!

1. Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals— We start out the New Year with aspirations to change all of the things we don’t like about ourselves. We want to lose weight, get organized, eat better, exercise more, be more productive at our job. But by mid-January or the first of February we aren’t giving much thought to the resolutions we made a few weeks ago. By setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely, you’ll have a better chance of success.

Trim your big lofty goals down to smaller, smarter goals by asking these questions:

– What specifically will I achieve with this goal?

– How will I measure it?

– Is it achievable to me right now?

– Is it relevant to my larger goal?

– By what date will I achieve it?

2. Move More— A review in the Journal of Applied Physiology says that inactivity makes you insulin resistant and raises your lipid levels. These two factors, alone or combined, can put you at a greater risk for type 2 diabetes, and fatty liver disease. The Journal also says that prolonged periods of sitting make it harder for your body to burn fat and may even encourage fat storage. Finding simple ways to get more physical activity in each day can be easy and fun. A couple of things to try might be:

– Walk in place during the commercials breaks when you watch T.V.

– Get out of your chair and pace around when you talk on the phone

– Do a set of wall squats and desk push-ups every day at the office.

3. Cut Back on Sugar—Sugar is a substance that has 16 calories per teaspoon and zero nutritional value.  Eating too much sugar adds inches without supplying any of the daily requirements for vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Too much sugar also contributes to illness and chronic disease. The American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons of added sugar a day for women and no more than nine a day for men. If your sugar intake is out of control, tracking your sugar to make sure you stay within the AHA guidelines is a good place to start.

4. Get Cooking—It’s not impossible to eat a healthy diet when you dine out, but it’s definitely more of a challenge.  Did you know that frequently eating foods prepared away from home is associated with obesity, higher body fat and a higher BMI. Plus, women who eat foods prepared outside of the home more than five times per week consume about 290 more calories, on average, each day than women who eat these foods less often. When you prepare meals at home, you control the ingredients, fat, sodium, calories and quality.

The Weight Loss Tip No One is Talking About

5. Take Up Strength Training—As you age you lose muscle. People that are inactive lose about three to five percent of their muscle mass per decade after the age of 30. That means, by the time you’re 50 you will have lost up to 15 percent. The loss of muscle tissue can generate a variety of inflictions including sarcopenia, osteoporosis, weight gain, loss of balance and decreased energy.

Adding a couple of strength training workouts to your cardio routine a couple of times a week can turn these conditions around or prevent them from occurring in the first place. Strength training is the key to looking and feeling younger than your age.

Strength Training: The Secret to Looking Younger and Better

6. Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables — Fruits and vegetables add color, flavor and texture to every meal. Plus they are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber. Set a goal to eat at least 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of veggies every day. Experiment with different types by trying a new fruit or vegetable each week. Best of all, most varieties are low in calories and can be consumed in abundance without the fear of weight gain.

Kale

 

7. Start Your Day With Lemon Water— Squeezing a half of a lemon into a glass of water first thing in the morning is a good way to hydrate your system, cleanse the liver, and get a supply of vitamins and anti-oxidants that can give your immune system a boost.

The best reason to add fresh lemon juice to your diet several times a week is because they are super-charged with Vitamin C which is one of the most important antioxidants in nature. Anti-oxidants can protect healthy cells from free-radicals that can damage cell membranes, which ultimately leads to inflammation, pain and chronic disease.

8. Practice MindfulnessEach day we have around 60,000 thoughts. Of those, 90% are not only repetitive, they are also negative. Psychologists refer to this as a brain loop and believe that these thoughts become so routine we aren’t even aware of the repetition of them.

Learning to live in the moment can help you break free of repetitive, negative thinking and can have a huge impact on your productivity, weight and health. According to Gregory Cherok, a sports psychology consultant with the American College of Sports Medicine, research shows that mindfulness meditation improves attention and sharpens impulse control.

Take Your Life Off of Auto-Pilot and Go Someplace Different

9. Keep a Gratitude Journal — Gratitude guru Professor Robert Emmons has spent much of his adult life examining the psychology of gratitude and its connection with positive outcomes in a person’s life. Through his work he’s found that being grateful improves both psychological and physical health.

Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains, tend to take better care of themselves, and behave in a ore prosocial behavior. Giving thanks reduces toxic emotions, makes us less likely to want to seek revenge, and increases the empathy that we have for others. With all of the benefits that come from just being more grateful it seems like a no-brainer that this is something we should all be doing more of.

Use a journal to write down two or three things that you are grateful for each day. It will only take a couple of minutes and the rewards are well worth it.

10. Walk 10,000 Steps a Day – Taking short walks throughout the day, walking in place while you’re on the phone, and getting on the treadmill while you’re watching T.V. are some simple ways to get more walking in. To get to the goal of 10,000 steps a day, you’ll probably need to get creative and do something extra: park farther away, take the stairs instead of the elevator, pace around in your office or workspace, walk in place for three minutes after every hour of sitting.

One of the best ways to add steps is to prepare dinner for your family rather than going out to eat, running through the drive-through or nuking a heat-and-eat item from the grocery.

Keep Calm. You’ve Got This

Blackboard

Tackling all of these at one time would be overwhelming (and not very S.M.A.R.T).  Pick one or two that you think you would benefit the most from, and get started today by setting and tracking achievable goals.

Be Social! Share!

 

Join the Five In 30 Sensible Weight Loss Program That Starts January 9

First, Last, or Only: You Can Lose 5 Pounds in 30 Days

Do you have five pounds you’d like to lose? Whether it is your first five, last five, or only five, there is a way to lose five pounds in 30 days without turning your life upside down.

The Five in 30 sensible weight loss program has four basic components. These components are based on research that has proven that there are specific actions that, once put in place, lead to successful weight loss. They are:

Journaling – The first step is to purchase an inexpensive journal that you will use to record your weigh-ins and your track your goals. The Dollar Store has a variety of small journals for only $3.

Journal

Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals – Each week you will need to set at least one goal. That goal needs to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. For each goal that you set, use your journal to answer the following questions:

  • What specifically will I achieve with this goal?
  • How will I measure it?
  • Is it achievable to me right now?
  • Is it relevant to my larger goal?
  • By what date will I achieve it?

For example, If you are a non-exerciser, setting a goal to get up at 5 a.m. every day to go to the gym for an hour to work out isn’t S.M.A.R.T.   A S.M.A.R.T. goal would look something like this:

This week I will go to the gym on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7 a.m. and will spend a half hour on the treadmill.

I Know We’re Smart, But What About Our Goals?

At the end of the week you will be able to measure how well you did with this goal. Did you complete the goal 100%? If so, what motivated you to get up go to the gym to get on the treadmill?  If not, what barriers kept you from getting there?  If you went four days instead of three, what inspiration or motivation did you draw from that helped you over-achieve on this goal?

Download a printable goal tracker here.

Weekly Weigh-Ins – Each week on the same day, at the same time, on the same scale you will weigh in and write your weight in your journal.  Weighing in and writing the weight down will help keep you accountable.

Follow PTCDN for Weekly Tips and Motivation – Each week I’ll provide a quick tip to help you stay on track with your goal to lose five pounds in 30 days.  Please feel free to request additional information in the comment box. You can subscribe to the web site by putting your e-mail in the subscribe box in the upper right hand corner of this page.

See you soon!

Karen

A Shot of Motivation for You on the First Monday of 2017.

Welcome to 2017!

Most people would agree that 2016 was pretty rough, but it’s over.  We survived it and today is the day to begin attacking your goals, just like this girl did.

Turning New Year’s Resolutions into Reality

Most of us see the new year as a new beginning.  January 1 can be a launch pad for achieving all of the things you weren’t able to get to last  year. But, often times resolutions made in January don’t come to fruition, and are often forgotten by spring.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you need some help getting started on setting goals that you can actually reach, check out this article that provides tips that will help you turn your 2017 dreams into reality: Forget About Lofty Resolutions and Set Achievable Goals.

Happy New Year!

Karen

Giving Thanks Is A Healthy Habit All Year Long

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” — Melody Beattie

 

We seem to hear a lot about giving thanks and being grateful around Thanksgiving but some experts and psychologists think that practicing gratitude is a habit that should be applied all year long.

Gratitude guru Professor Robert Emmons has spent much of his adult life examining the psychology of gratitude and its connection with positive outcomes in a person’s life. Through his work he’s found that being grateful improves both psychological and physical health.

Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains, tend to take better care of themselves, and behave in a more prosocial behavior. Giving thanks reduces toxic emotions, makes us less likely to want to seek revenge, and increases the empathy that we have for others.

With all of the benefits that come from just being more grateful it seems like a no-brainer that this is something we should all be doing more of.

Gratitude Journal

Making Gratitude a Habit

Like all of the healthy habits that we strive to acquire throughout our lifetime, we know that if it is something that we are serious about doing we are going to have to work at it. Even Dr. Emmons admits that gratitude isn’t something that comes easily or naturally to him. In an interview that he did with Ben Dean at Mentor Coach.com, Emmons says that he “recognizes that it requires strong intention and sustained effort on his part to redirect his attention if he wants to live with an “attitude of gratitude.”

There are some specific steps that we can take to increase our mindfulness so that we become more grateful.

Start a Gratitude Journal – There are number of health perks that come from keeping a gratitude journal. The simple of task of writing down what you are grateful for at the end of each day can switch your focus from all that is wrong with your life to all that is right with it. People that take a few minutes to journal before they go to bed feel calmer at night and sleep better.

*Tip – Keep the journal on the table by your bed and plan to write in it each evening. You can keep is as simple as a couple of sentences if you don’t have time for more. Writing each day will help you establish the habit. Journaling also reduces stress and provides clarity on what it is that you want to have more of in your life.

Write Thank-you Notes– A sincere, simple thank you note given to a person that went out of their way to make you feel good or do something to help you goes a long way. And the thank you note is as beneficial for the giver as it is the recipient.

*Tip – Buy a box of thank you cards or blank note cards and find someone each week to give one to.

Thank you note

Say It Out Loud – Express out loud something that you are thankful for each day. My husband and I were watching 60 Minutes on Sunday evening and one of the segments was about villagers in Kenya that have to travel on foot for fresh water that they carry back to their homes in large buckets. It was easy to express out loud my thankfulness for living in a country where fresh water is available at the turn of the knob on the sink. I believe most of us take so many things like fresh, clean water for granted.

*Tip – Every day be grateful for something and say it out loud to yourself, or whomever you are with at the moment you recognize it.

Begin Each Day by Being Thankful – Don’t wait until the end of the day when it’s time to write in the journal to express gratitude. Start each day by saying thank you. This can only help you anticipate the good things that are in store for you that day.

*Tip – Remember that every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.

Get Moving – Take a walk, practice yoga for 10 minutes, or stand up and stretch. Learn to have a greater appreciation for all of the things your body does each day.

*Tip – Physical activity improves our mood and opens our mind to all of the things we have to be thankful for.

The Gratitude Experiment

With Thanksgiving coming, this week is the perfect time to begin implementing some of these steps that will help you establish a habit of saying thank you each day.

Check out the Gratitude Experiment from WellCast in the video below that discusses Dr. Emmons research and the undeniable health benefits of gratitude.

Be Social! Share!

Why Aggressive Weight Loss Strategies Lead To Disappointment, Plateaus and Weight Gain

Weight loss followed by weight gain – also known as the yoyo effect – is more common than you might think.

I could not find any accurate statistics for the number of people that lose weight then gain it back. Some studies show it’s as high as 95 percent. Others put it around 85. Whatever it is, I can tell you from the personal experience I have working with individuals through health coaching and specific weight loss programs, it’s a lot. I would guess it is in the upper range of 95 percent.

And the reason for weight regain has more to do with than science than it does with willpower.

Scale with tape measure

Enemy Number One: Adaptive Thermogenesis

Diet-induced weight loss is accompanied by a process called adaptive thermogenesis which is a disproportional or greater than expected reduction of resting metabolic rate. In other words, the body has an uncanny knack for wanting to be at a certain weight and dieting seems to elicit a biological reaction to negative energy balance or caloric reduction. When you eat less to lose weight, your body slows down to prevent you from doing so.

The plateau and weight regain that generally follows this large energy deficit may exceed weight loss so that a net weight gain may be the outcome of such a weight loss cycle.

There are still many unknowns about the dieter’s number one enemy, adaptive thermogenesis. Scientists continue to study this built-in adaptation system to learn more about its relationship to weight loss and the seemingly inevitable weight gain that follows. What they do believe is that a reduction in energy intake (food) results in an equivalent decrease in the resting metabolic rate.

Does This Make Successful Long-Term Weight Loss Hopeless?

The answer is no. While this balancing act that takes place is in the body is somewhat beyond your control there are some things to keep in mind when trying to lose weight and keep it off.

Here are some things you should know:

A slow weight loss program will prompt better long term results than a fast one will. Research shows that an aggressive weight loss program slows down your metabolism more than a moderate one does. We’ve all heard of the starvation mode theory that suggests that if you cut your calories down too low your body will think it’s starving and hang onto body fat. This is the basic principle of adaptive thermogenesis. The more you shock your body with extreme calorie deficits, the harder it will work to balance things out.

Strength training will keep your metabolism at its peak. Most of us prefer cardio exercise over strength training, but lifting weights – your own or the ones you buy from the store or find at the gym – is absolutely key to losing weight and keeping it off. When we lose weight we don’t just lose body fat, we also lose precious muscle mass. This muscle mass is what keeps our metabolism revved up. Three to four strength training sessions a week with weights, tubes and medicine balls will help you maintain the muscle mass that you’re going to need to lose weight and keep it off.

HIIT training trumps steady state cardio. High intensity interval training isn’t just more fun and effective than steady state cardio, it burns more calories both while we’re engaged in the training and for up to 24 hours afterwards. Find a HIIT class at your local gym or do one in the comfort of your own home. HIIT training requires no equipment and there are some excellent workouts on YouTube that you can access for free. Below is a 20 minute HIIT workout from Pop Sugar that you can find on their YouTube Channel.

Protein helps retain muscle tissue. Eating a diet rich in lean protein will provide the fuel your muscles need to regenerate after both the strength training and HIIT workouts. Not having adequate amounts of protein can result in even greater muscle loss and a lower metabolic state.

Patience is a must-have. The best way to think about your diet is to reframe it so that you’re thinking about weight loss in terms of a lifelong health strategy not an unsustainable 12 week program. We already know that quick fix dieting programs are impossible to maintain so get a calendar and set a long-term goal. Journaling is a good way to hold yourself accountable to your program and writing down your successes and challenges will help you stay positive and persistent.

Bottom line is the more you shock your body by drastically reducing calories, the more it will fight you to maintain your body weight. A long term plan of eating nutrient-dense lower-calories whole foods, daily exercise that includes strength training, and a daily dose of patience and perseverance will give you the best results.

Be Social! Share!

Five Tips To Help You Embrace A Return To Standard Time

Now that we’ve fallen back to Standard Time it’s dark at 5 p.m.  By this time next month it will be dark at 4:30.  After taking a non-scientific pole of the people around me, I can say with confidence that this change is not popular with most people.

Most of us don’t embrace the end of daylight saving time which brings with it dark evenings, and before too long, dark mornings too.  But, when we ‘fall back’ and return to standard time our body is more in sync with the circadian rhythms of our biological clock which impacts our sleep and our health.

clock

Standard Time Embraces Circadian Rhythms

Circadian rhythm is a built-in 24 hour cycle that all living beings – including plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria – possess.  “There are clear patterns of brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration and other biological activities linked to this daily cycle.”  (Science Daily) There are a number of things that can disrupt our circadian rhythm such as travelling through time zones, working the night shift, indoor lighting, drug use, and springing forward into Daylight Savings Time.

A large study in Central Europe, followed sleep patterns of 55,000 people and found that natural sleep patterns are in sync with standard time.  What this translates to is good news for the 1.6 billion people that moved their clocks back and return to ST on Sunday.

Too Much Darkness

If it’s so good for us, why don’t we like it? The biggest reason is that we feel we are being cheated out of daylight.  If you are a day shift worker that gets off 5 or 6 p.m., you’ll be greeted by darkness when you leave work beginning next week.  That makes us feel like we don’t have as much time to be active or get things done.  Research shows that’s not true. We will, in fact, be back in cadence with nature which improves sleep quality and overall health.

Just knowing that you are physiologically in sync with the planet may not be enough to keep you positive about the time change. Here are five tips that will ensure a smooth transition to the season of shorter days and longer nights.

Five Tips To Help You Cope

1.  Workout Before Your Day Begins – Use your body’s natural inclination to want to rise earlier to get a workout in before you day begins.  A walk or bike ride outdoors is a good option since sunrise is earlier.  If that doesn’t work, a 20 or 30 minute walk on the treadmill, an on-line workout, or DVD will get you moving and give you something to feel good about the rest of the day.  For suggestions on free workouts that you can access from the comfort of your own home, check out Liongate’s Be Fit Channel.  For even more options, find a post I wrote about free on-line workouts here.

2.  Take Sunshine Breaks – Find an opportunity to get outside for at least 10 to 15 minutes every day with some skin exposed so that your levels of Vitamin D don’t dip this winter.  For people that live in areas of the world that experience four seasons, the period from September to April can wreak  havoc on our body’s ability to generate adequate amounts of Vitamin D through sunlight exposure alone.

A deficiency in the sunshine vitamin can result in Seasonal Affective Disorder which brings about symptoms of fatigue, depression, and a feeling of malaise.  If you think you would benefit from Vitamin D supplements your doctor can assess your levels with a simple blood test.  Vitamin D in liquid form can be purchased at the local pharmacy.  It’s inexpensive to buy and easy to digest.

3. Stay Active In The Evenings – When it’s dark at 5 p.m., resisting the temptation to put on sweats and slippers for a night in front of the T.V. can be a challenge.  Find ways to keep active in the evenings either inside or out of the home.

Check the listings for your local library, park district, Y and community college for classes and family activities.  Volunteering to help at the local Goodwill center, offering your expertise to a focus group, or joining a recreational volleyball league are all ways to combat the hum-drum of long winter evenings. If you love to read, joining a virtual book club will connect you to people that share the same interests as you, and you won’t have to leave home to participate.  Check out the resources for joining – or starting – an virtual book club.

4.  Become A Healthy Comfort Food Chef – It seems like the first week after we turn the clocks back to standard time, I find I’m craving chili, pumpkin pie, cranberry bread, and a whole bunch of other comfort foods that undermine my goal of not putting the pounds on this winter.  There are a number of web sites that have recipes for comfort food makeovers:  Cooking Light, Eating Well, Taste of Home and Good Housekeeping all have healthy comfort food sections online.

Check out the recipes at these sites and make them for your family.  Take it a step further and create your own dishes and launch a web site or blog where you share your own fabulous creations.  

Lightpiccollage

5.  Embrace Scent and Light – A living space that has candles flickering or scented pots exuding warm scents is welcoming and comforting.  The wax chips that melt in the pots with the heat of a light bulb can be turned on in the morning when you leave the house.  The scent and light is waiting for you when you get home.  Some of my favorite fall scents are vanilla cinnamon, pumpkin spice and crème burlee.  These aromas elicit feelings of holidays, family, and togetherness.  Scent Sationals has a good selection to choose from.

Over To You

If you live in a part of the world where you’ve turned your clock back an hour, are you looking forward to the change or dreading it?  What tips do you have for surviving the short days and inescapable darkness?  Please give us your thoughts in the comment box below.

Be social!  Share!

(Pictures credits for the collage go to artists at Flickr.com:  Candles – ETIco68; Scent pot – honeybunched; and Chair in sunshine – crsan)