Is Weight Gain After Weight Loss Inevitable?

Most people that lose weight gain some or even all of it back. If you’ve worked hard to get to your goal weight is it inevitable that you’ll experience a regain?

That’s a hard question and unfortunately research hasn’t been able to provide us with an absolute answer. There is even some confusion as to whether weight regain is due to a shift in metabolism and hormones or if people simply drift back into the old habits that made them overweight in the first place.

It’s probably a combination of the body’s natural tendency to want to return to its ‘normal’ weight and the dieter returning to their before-weight-loss eating patterns. Referred to as yo-yo dieting, the weight losses and gains can take a toll on a person’s physical and emotional well being.

Diet 2

 First, let’s take a look at what science is able to tell us.

Research Provides Some Insight

There are a number of studies that show that dieting is associated with accelerated weight gain and an increased risk of becoming overweight. Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD, wrote an article, Warning: Dieting Increases Your Risk of Gaining MORE Weight, for Intuitive Eating Disorders.com.  Tribole’s article discusses a concept known as dieting-induced weight-gain that scientists believe is contributing to the obesity epidemic.

Dieting-induced weight-gain suggests that, independent of genetics, dieting prompts weight gain. And, a cycle of weight-loss, followed by weight-gain, followed by another round of weight-loss pushes the baseline weight higher than the original weight.

The article cites several studies that show that dieting teenagers have twice the risk of becoming overweight. It also says the risk of binge eating increases with dieting and up to two-thirds of people that lose weight regain even more than they lost.

Some researchers believe the predisposition to regain lost weight is caused by nerves in the stomach that become damaged [in obese people] so that they no longer signal the brain to tell it when the person is full. One study out of the University of Adelaid in Southern Australia looked specifically at the effects of a high fat diet on the stomach’s ability to send fullness cues to the brain.

This study reported that even when people begin eating a healthier diet the signaling did not improve, nor did it improve with weight loss. What this means is that an individual who has lost a significant amount of weight would still not realize that they were full in time to prevent overeating.

Dieting Is A Slippery Slope

Trying to determine why people that lose weight will, more than likely, gain it back is a challenge. Hormones, the hunger control mechanism, and resetting of the metabolic rate may all be factors however the primary reason for regain is probably more about behavior change than people would like to admit.

When you lose weight your body mass decreases which means you require fewer calories than you did when you were at your heavier weight. Through the process of dieting you suffer deprivation and your cravings for a Dilly Bar or cheesy fries go unfulfilled.

Once you lose the weight you feel great. You’re getting compliments from your friends and co-workers, and you’re buying fun clothes in a smaller size. But slowly, as you begin to get used to the new you, the old habits start to slip back in. At first it’s only for special occasions, but it doesn’t take long before you’re eating more every day than you were when you on the diet.

You’re not consuming quite as many calories as you were when you were pre-diet, so it still feels like you’re giving up something. You’re still depriving yourself. A little. But you’re eating more than your body needs to maintain the weight you’re at now.

Plus because of the lower metabolic rate and suppressed satiation response you could be taking in quite a few more calories than you need.  You’re also disconnected from when to eat, what to eat and how much to eat. You second guess every morsel.

What’s The Answer?

Tribole believes the answer lies in attunement with your mind and body rather than counting calories or Weight Watchers points. She calls this process Intuitive Eating which gives you permission to eat when hungry, eat for physical rather than emotional reasons, and rely on internal hunger cues to help you determine when and how much to eat.

Intuitive Eating doesn’t sound like the quick and easy fix that dieting is but if you embrace it you will begin to develop a healthy relationship with food.  To learn more about this concept check out the web site that has on-line support group at Intuitive Eating.org.

Most people determine how much weight they want to lose and a date that they want to lose it by. Throughout that time frame they are doing things in a dramatically different way. They eat less, exercise more, avoid sugary, fatty foods, and seek out motivation from friends, co-workers and the fitness instructor at the local Y.

These are things that should be done throughout our lifetime. Being at a healthy weight should be a life goal rather than a six week or six month battle with the scale.

What’s your strategy to maintain a healthy weight?

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Five Weight Loss and Exercise Excuse Busters Just For You

Human beings are really good at coming up with creative excuses. When you’re in my line of work you hear a lot of them. Half of them are about not reaching a weight loss goal.  And the other half are about not being able to get motivated to work out.

Here are six of the most common excuses I hear regarding exercise and weight loss along with a way to bust that excuse so it goes away for good!

Excuses

Flickr photo by Krissy Venosdale

Icky Weather – I can’t work out today because it’s too hot or too cold, it’s raining, snowing foggy, or muggy. Unless you live someplace like San Diego, CA the weather is rarely just right which means if you use the weather as your excuse to miss workouts you’ll never get them done. If the weather does affect your motivation you’ll need to get acquainted with doing workouts from home and there are plenty of options.

Since Exercise TV stopped programming three years ago, the best at-home workout solution is Be Fit. At Be Fit there are tons of quality workouts in a variety of formats and lengths to choose from so you’ll never get bored. The best part? Be Fit is free!

Too Busy – I don’t have the time. This is the mother of all excuses.  It is the one used most often by most people. The folks over at Skinnyms.com say you only need two minutes a day to successfully lose weight. No, they’re not talking about the new ten minute workout that only takes two minutes. They’re explaining how important it is to have a food journal and how taking two minutes a day to write down the foods that you eat can help you lose weight. In the Skinnyms article, 2 Minutes a Day to Weight Loss Success there are also some good low-cal recipes to get you started.

No Results –Maybe you’re demotivated because you think you’re doing everything right but you can’t get the results that you hope for. It may be that you’re doing too much cardio.  Overdoing it on the cardio without a couple of days of strength training will burn up your muscle which will lower your metabolic rate making it harder to lose weight. Plus you’ll never get any closer to getting the toned body you’re coveting. Weight Loss and Training.com has a 30 Minute Workout to Get Total Body Toned.  If you do this workout at home you’ll need a barbell. If you don’t have one you could substitute dumbbells or a weighted bar. Or, you could do it in the gym before you head down to spin class.

Funky – You’ve got that general feeling of malaise going. Nothing’s really wrong, you’re just in a funk and can’t get moving. A steady dose of motivation is what you need. Fitness Motivation for Ordinary People has a Facebook page that will get your spirits up and increase your mojo without making you feel bad about yourself.  Facebook is the gift that keeps on giving so once you ‘like’ the page you’ll get Ordinar People’s motivational stuff in your news feed.

Hangry – Whenever you try to lose weight you find you’re hungry all the time and that makes you angry. You’re hangry! You’ve probably seen tips for keeping that hunger under control, but that can be easier said than done. Lifetime Weight Loss has some tips that can really help including practicing mindfulness which is always one of my favorites. Check out What To Do When You’re Still Hungry for some strategies you may not have thought of.

Do you have an excuse that you need busted?

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Do You Really Know How Many Calories You Burned In That Work Out?

Most of the nifty fitness trackers let you to add the calories that you burn during workouts back into your daily calorie allotment which can lead to weight loss sabotage. Unless you know what your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is you can’t know how many calories you’re burning at rest or at play.

Getting an accurate  BMR measurement isn’t easy. To accurately calculate your BMR you will need to undergo an indirect calorimetry test which means you’re hooked up to a machine that measures the volume of oxygen consumption and the volume of carbon dioxide output.  The test is done in a lab or clinic where they have the equipment to properly administer the test.

Since it’s not possible for most people to get their BMR measured in this way they do the next best thing.  They use an on-line calculator that has them enter height, weight, age, gender and activity level. The web page then calculates your BMR and provides you with the number of daily calories you need to consume.

BMR 2

On-line BMR calculations are a guesstimate at best. In fact, The American Council on Exercise says these calculators can be off by as many as 1,000 calories!

Most People Overestimate Calories Burned During A Work Out

Where people get into trouble with calculating calories burned during exercise is it’s difficult to properly estimate activity level. Most of us think we’re working harder than we actually are which means we think we’ve burned more calories than we have. This was the focus of a study being done by a team of researchers at the University of Ottawa.

At the U of O, researchers had a small group of participants take a brisk walk on a treadmill until they were told to stop. They were then led to a buffet table where they were instructed to consume foods that would equal the calories they spent in their workout. Not surprisingly, the group consumed two to three times more calories than they had burned on the treadmill.

A follow-up study in the UK had participants exercise at 60 to 90 percent of their V02 max.  They maintained that intensity until they had burned 450 calories or a treadmill. As in the Ottawa study they were then led to a buffet and were told to match the number of calories that they ate to the amount they burned on the treadmill.

The results were similar to the first group however this group underestimated the number of calories they burned. That did not stop them from overeating. They overate to the same extent as the people in the Ottawa study did.

What This Means For You

I’m not anti Fitbit, Jawbone or MyFitnessPal. I think they are all excellent ways to track calories and activity and keep you motivated.  But I worry that too many people are relying on these devices and apps to accurately tell them how many calories they’ve burned doing a workout. Then they think it’s okay to put those calories – or more according to the studies – back in to make up for the loss.

Fitbit calories burned

Flickr photo by Nagu Tran

Your Fitbit cannot possibly know how many calories you’ve burned on a four mile run.  It can tell you how much the average person of your height, weight and gender might burn. But it can’t tell you how many you’ve spent.

Go ahead and track your calorie intake and do your daily workouts but don’t add back the calories you’ve burned working out. Let those goes. Think of it as a bonus then see if you have more success reaching your weight loss goal.

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The Weight Loss Tip No One Is Talking About

Every day my inbox fills up with Google Alerts that I’ve subscribed to so I can stay up-to-date on weight loss products [gimmicks], fitness tips and health and wellness news.

There’s not much new news in the weight loss alerts.  There are a lot of articles promoting garcinia cambogia. Recently John Janetzko’s personal testimony about how he lost 125 pounds but still feels fat has been popular.

And blogs giving tips to people that want to lose weight without dieting never lose their appeal. The tips are typically things that you’ve heard before like drink water before meals and use a smaller plate. All good stuff, but it would take a lot of these relatively mundane tips to add up to weight loss of any significance.

The one tip that would help people not only lose the weight, but keep it off, is missing. It doesn’t make the tip lists and isn’t trending in the alerts.

What’s the one weight loss tip that no one is talking about?

Home. Cooked. Meals.

Casserole

The biggest lifestyle change that you can make to lose weight and improve your overall health is to prepare your own meals 95 percent of the time.

Eating Out Leads To Weight Gain

The Keystone Forum, a panel funded by the FDA, studied the relationship between eating meals away from home and the increasing number of overweight Americans. The number of times the average American eats away from home has doubled over the past 25 years.  Americans now eat food not prepared at home more than four times a week. The biggest problem with eating out often is the food portions are bigger and are higher in fats and calories than home-cooked meals.

The Keystone Forum released a report from the study that made these observations:

  • Frequently eating foods prepared away from home is associated with obesity, higher body fat and a higher BMI.
  • Women who eat foods prepared outside 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.
  • Eating more fast-food meals is linked to eating more calories, more saturated fat, fewer fruits and vegetables, and less milk.

The study also found that eating out has had an impact on the rising incidence of overweight and obesity in children and teens.

Prep, Planning and Basic Skills Are All You Need

There are plenty of reasons why people don’t cook their own meals.  Lack of time, interest or know-how are all factors. If your life is hectic with a job and family responsibilities, relying on take-out or eat-and-eat meals from the grocery might seem like the best option. But with some basic recipes and a little planning you can prepare healthy meals that your family will love.

If you’re not sure where to begin, Kalyn’s Kitchen.com is a home-cooking blog that has an index of healthy recipes with step-by-step instructions and pictorials. A few months ago I published The Top Ten Healthy Recipe Web Sites. This post that provides links to the best healthy recipe web sites for you to bookmark.

If culinary skills is what you’re lacking there are also plenty of resources on-line that can help you need prepare healthy, tasty dishes.  Check out the list of free online cooking classes at About.com. This page is full of links where you can go to learn the skills you need to be a cooking wizard in your own kitchen.

You may be able to find live cooking classses locally. Junior colleges, park districts, and food co-ops often offer healthy cooking classes to the community for a nominal fee.

The Weight Loss Tip That’s Not In Google

Weight loss is a popular topic and everyone that wants to lose weight is looking for pointers. A Google search for ‘weight loss tips’ provides 280,000,000 results.

Undeniably the fast food tidal wave that began in the 1970s giving us quick access to high calorie, low quality meals is largely to blame for our 21st century obesity problem.  The only way to fix the problem is to avoid what caused it to begin with.

When you do the cooking you control the ingredients, fat, sodium, calories and quality. It’s one of the best things you can do for your health.

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Controlling Hunger: One Milkshake, Two Results

A recent study has people wondering if we have more power over our hunger than we realize.

As a student, Alia Crum, a clinical psychologist who does research at the Columbia Business School in New York City, spent years studying the placebo effect.  She was fascinated with the way a placebo could physically alter the body if the person taking the placebo believed they were taking the real thing.

As a clinical psychologist she wanted to know if food labels could have a similar effect on our appetites and specifically on the hormone ghrelin.

Ghrelin is a hunger-stimulating hormone that is produced in the lining of the stomach. Ghrelin levels increase and metabolism decreases before meals putting us in search of food.  Once we’ve eaten a meal our ghrelin levels go back down and our metabolism goes up to burn the calories.

The Milkshake Study

Shake Pics

Milkshake pic by Sorveteria Ki Sabor @ Flickr.com

As Crum began to wonder whether or not reading food labels could influence ghrelin levels she came up with an experiment called The Milkshake Study.

For The Milkshake Study Crum made a large batch of milkshakes that were 300 calories each. Crum divided the milkshake concoction into two batches.

Half of the batch was put in bottles labeled as a low-calorie drink called Sensishake.  The Sensishake ‘label’ said that milkshake had zero percent fat, no added sugar as was only 140 calories. The remaining batch was put into bottles that were labeled as a rich treat called Indulgence with fat, sugar and 620 calories per serving.

Crum then recruited participants that she divided into to two groups. One group drank the Sensishake and the other drank Indulgence. All of the participants had their levels of ghrelin measured by nurses both before and after they drank the beverage.

The Indulgence drinkers had significantly steeper decline – up to three times more – in ghrelin after consuming their shake. Participants that drank the Sensishake produced a relatively flat ghrelin response. The study results reported that “participants’ satiety was consistent with what they believed they were consuming rather than the actual nutritional value of what they consumed”.

What This Means For You

Crum’s study shows that if you think you are eating or drinking a high calorie, and therefore highly satisfying, food or drink your body reacts as though it has consumed more. The reverse is also true.  If you search out foods that are low in sugar, fat, sodium, and calories you may not feel as satisfied after you eat them. Your brain might be telling your stomach you’re being deprived and your stomach believes it.

Crum says we may have to rethink the calories-in-calories-out philosophy because there may be more to it than that.  We need to take into consideration that how we feel about the foods we eat affect not only our hunger, but our metabolism too.

The Milkshake Study shows that you may have more control over your own hunger and satiety than you realize.  A healthy dose of positive self-talk when you’re eating a salad or a low calorie meal could help you ‘trick’ your stomach into responding to it in the same way it would if you were indulging in a four-meat pizza or creamy chicken Alfredo.

Why not try it for a week and let me know if it works?

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Strength Training: The Secret to Looking Younger and Better

Walking, running, swimming, biking, or getting on the elliptical for 30 minutes are the most popular forms of exercise and typically what people turn to when they want to lose weight.

If this is how you spend your time at the gym or outdoors, the heart health benefits are undeniable. But, unless you’re pushing around some weights a couple of times a week, you’re missing out on one of the most important components of physical fitness. The one that will make you look younger and better.

Weights

Save Your Muscles

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. Physically active people also experience age-related muscle loss although not quite as drastically.

The loss of muscle tissue can generate a variety of inflictions including sarcopenia, osteoporosis, weight gain, loss of balance and decreased energy. It is the primary reason why people begin to look frail and weak as they age and many take on a stooped appearance.

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.

You don’t need a gym membership or expensive equipment to do some basic exercises that will help you save your muscles.  I’ve picked seven exercises that target the larger muscle groups so you get the best results for your time spent.

If you have time left over and want to work on biceps, triceps and calves – what I call vanity muscles – go for it. But focus first on working the larger muscle groups to prevent overall muscle loss and stimulate muscle gain.

1. Chest Press – Lie on your back on a bench or exercise ball with a dumbbell in each hand. Slowly press your hands to the ceiling and then back down so that the elbows drop slightly below the ball.  Repeat 12 times. Do two sets.

Chest Press

2.  Upper Back or Rear Deltoid Fly – Still holding the weights, stand and bend over so your hands are down by your knees. Lift your arms out to the side as though you’re getting ready to take off and fly.  Release slowly to starting position. Focus on pulling the shoulder blades together in the back.

Rear Deltoid Fly

3.  Clean and Press – This is a multi-purpose exercise.  It works the large muscle groups in the legs as well as shoulders. Holding the dumbbells down by your sides, squat down slowly. As you come up, push weights overhead to a shoulder press.  Release the weights back down and repeat.

Clean and press

4.  Dead Lift – This exercise works the hamstrings.  Start by holding a weight, weighted ball or kettle bell in front.  Slowly bend over lowering the weight down to the floor.  Try to keep your knees straight as you bend over. Slowly come back up to starting position.

Dead Lift

 

5.  Side Leg Raise – Having strong abductors (outer thighs) will help you maintain balance. In a standing position or laying on your side on the floor, slowly lift one leg away from the body and back in 12 times.  Repeat on the other leg. Using a resistance tube will make this exercise more challenging.

Side Leg Raise

6.  Push-Ups – On your knees or with toes on the floor, place hands under your shoulders and lower your chest down to the floor. Come back to starting position and repeat.

Push Up

7.  Plank – With your elbows and toes on the floor, tighten your tummy and hold your body in a straight line for 10 seconds.  Work up to holding the position for 30 seconds and eventually a minute.

Elbow Plank

There are numerous variations to these moves, but if you want to get started with some basic exercises that don’t take a lot of time or equipment these should do the trick.

Try to do two sets of 12 of each exercise two to three times a week.  When they start to feel easy to you keep challenging yourself by increasing the weight or adding a weight bar or other equipment such as kettle bells. You should notice some noticeable changes within three to four weeks.

Strength training will save your muscle and your bones. Did I mention that these basic strength training exercises will make you look better?

(Pics are from Pinterest. Click on the picture to see the source.)

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Why Cheat Days (And A Few Other Things) Are A Bad Idea

I hear a lot about cheat days when I’m talking to people that are trying to lose weight.

Many people say one cheat day a week keeps them motivated to stay on the diet on the other six days. If you’re truly seeking long-term weight loss, being on a deprivation diet where the reward is one day when you can eat anything and everything is a bad idea.

Cheat days are a sign that your relationship with food needs some work and keeps you stuck on that wheel of using food as a form of punishment and reward.

Dog with bone

If you are someone that is engaged in a lifelong battle with your weight I’m willing to bet you follow a pattern that goes something like this.

1.  Is That Really Me? - Something happens in your life and you decide you have to lose weight right now.  Maybe the decision was brought on by a trip to the doctor where you get some not-so-good news about a health condition related to your weight, or you see a picture of yourself and can’t believe that’s how you look. Maybe there’s an event like a wedding or high school class reunion coming up that you want to look great for. You’re ready to get started and your motivation is high.

2. It Worked For My Cousin’s Mother – You share your plans to lose weight with a friend or co-worker. They tell you about a diet their sister-in-law is on. She’s lost 20 pounds in three weeks.  You say “sign me up”.

3.  Game On – You start out on the top of the wave.  You’re losing weight, maybe drop a pants size or two, and are having no trouble adhering to the diet. It doesn’t bother you that you can’t join your friends once a week for lunch or meet your co-workers for a cocktail after work on Friday because the slightest digression could blow everything.  There is no temptation strong enough to come between you and your goal.

4.   Victory – After several months of weekly – maybe even daily – weigh-ins and the highs and lows that come from that practice, you reach your goal weight.  You. Win!  No one really knows or understands how much you’ve had to sacrifice to get that scale to display the arbitrary number that you selected six months ago.

Now What?

You look great. You feel even better. Three or four weeks go by and you decide an occasional splurge will be okay. You shouldn’t have to deprive yourself forever. That would just be wrong.

You go to lunch with your friends and order the creamy shrimp alfredo that you’ve so missed and join your co-workers for the Friday happy hour drink specials once again. You begin to slip back into living your life the way you did before that moment in time when you vowed that things were going to change.

The pounds creep back on, and, as disappointing as that is, you can’t find the motivation you need to go back to ‘the diet’.

What Does This Have To Do With Cheat Days?

Cheat days are a sign that you are participating in a process that is unsustainable. Having a cheat day means that you feel that you’re giving up so much on days one through six that on day seven you deserve a treat so you’ll be able to keep doing the deprivation thing on the other days. You’ve made a deal with yourself.

Rather than trying to keep your promise to be good six days out of seven, why not put some work into figuring out how important it is to be at that oh so coveted weight and what you’re going to have to do different from now on to stay there? Getting there is easy. Staying there is much trickier because, over the years, you’ve developed habits and eating patterns that make gaining weight inevitable.

Although you may not recognize it, you’ve also developed this internal belief that having to eat right every day and exercise at least a few times a week to stay healthy and look good in your black dress isn’t fair.

Don't reward yourself

It’s Not Your Fault (but it’s up to you to fix it).

Dr. Phil says that you are not to blame for what happened to you as a child.  But, as an adult, despite whatever took place back then, you have to take responsibility for your life now.

The same is true of your battle with food. We live in a society that is obsessed with high calorie, overly processed, yet highly satiable foods.  These tempting foods are on every street corner. Super market rows are stocked full of them. Indulgent foods are at the center of every social event.

We ignore that the purpose of food is to provide fuel to our bodies. Most of the foods that are consumed today don’t fulfill this primary objective.

You’re not to blame for the obsession our society has with food that has led to obesity for 35% of American adults.  There is nothing you can do about the endless deluge of foods that test your willpower each day. That’s all way bigger than you.

You’re also not to blame for the prevelance of the idea that healthy, nutritious whole foods that provide vitamins and fiber along with a bunch of ther nutrients that our bodies actually need are tasteless. Or that ’clean’ eating (forgive me for using that buzzword) is nearly impossible to do for any length of time. Neither are true.

I hope you will begin to re-think your truths about food, what you’re eating, why you’re eating it and whether or not you should be on a diet where the incentive is a day of eating ‘bad’ foods. The reward for even the most heroic of acts should never be a cookie.

What do you think? Do cheat days work for you?

If you liked this article, you might also like Do It Right The First Time So You Won’t Have To Do It Twice.

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What You Can Learn From Star Trainer Michelle Bridges: Just Friggin Do It!

“Success is all down to how badly you want it.  Nothing will ever be handed to you, and if it is you never appreciate it anyway. Successful people are hard workers.  Period!”
– Michelle Bridges

There’s a lot you can learn from Michelle Bridges. Not just in relation to reaching your health and fitness goals, but about life in general.

Michelle has been a trainer on the Australian version of The Biggest Loser since 2007. She is the author of eight bestselling books including Crunch Time: Lose Weight Fast and Keep It Off, and Losing the Last 5 Kilos: Your Kick-Arse Guide to Looking and Feeling Fantastic.

Michelle Bridges

She started the on-line 12 Week Body Transformation program in 2012 and has helped people around the world lose over a million pounds.

Michelle has been a go-getter since she was 14 when she began teaching fitness to the other teenagers at her school.  At the age of 26 she realized that it was time to take her fitness career to the next level and moved to Sydney, Australia where, with $275 in the bank, she began her own personal training business, became a freelance group fitness instructor and a trainer for Les Mills.

The business that she began with $275 is now a multi-million fitness empire that reaches people across the globe.

Her enthusiasm for health and fitness is infectious and engages millions of people around the world. Much of her inspiration comes from her “don’t overthink it, just friggin do it” mantra.

Besides, “just friggin do it”, here are five things that you can learn from Michelle:

1.  Motivation Is Like A Bad Boyfriend – Michelle is shocked by the obesity epidemic that is facing many countries and says that people are eating their way to the grave.  She believes part of the problem is that people are hung up on motivation and if you’re waiting around for it, it may never come. Losing weight isn’t about motivation.  “No way.  Motivation is a crock, you see.  I’m in the motivation business; but motivation is like a bad boyfriend.  He’s never there when you need him.”  Michelle says being healthy is about forming good habits and practices.”

2.  No Matter What Exercise You’re Doing, Go Hard In the End – Michelle calls this the Final Blast and says it’s what you have to do at the end of every workout.  “Leave it all on the field.  Hold nothing back.  Go all in.”  Whatever you’re doing, whether it’s running, doing ab crunches or squatting, the final push at the end will help your fitness go up and your weight go down.

3.  Don’t Let Low Temps Keep You From Training – Michelle answers the age old question, “How do you stay motivated to exercise in the winter?” She says she likes to look at winter exercise as “a time of careful preparation for the coming spring and summer.” If you’re not sure how to approach exercise during the winter months, consult with a personal trainer who can help you put a plan in place. Whatever you do, don’t use the winter months as an excuse not to exercise.

4.  Unless You Change Your Mind Set Your Weight Loss Endeavors Will Fail – One of the biggest challenge Michelle faces in helping people achieve their weight loss goals is getting them to overcome the victim mentality and the blame game.  They say “It’s not my fault, it’s my children’s fault.” Or, “It my husband’s fault. When the truth is staring back at them from the fridge.” Her advice is to ditch the victim mentality and start accepting responsibility for absolutely everything you do. Everything.

5.  Accept Your Body For The Things It Can and Cannot Do – Comparing ourselves with others isn’t just bad.  It’s disastrous. You probably heard your parents tell you when you were young that there will always be someone better looking, smarter, and more athletic than you.  Michelle agrees.  “Put the work into your emotional self to get to a state of truly accepting your body as the gift that it is – the way it looks, and the things it can and can’t do.” It’s okay to be you.

Globe Trotter

Last year Michelle came to the United States to launch her 12 Week Body Transformation and is quickly becoming a fitness celebrity here too.  She is in the business of changing lives and works to help people conquer their mental barriers about weight loss, food and exercise.

According to Michelle, “The whole yo-yo—up-down, off-on, in-out is far more damaging than being overweight will ever be because that stuff messes with your head.  It’s almost like psychological obesity.  Then I come in with a sledgehammer and go, “Right. Let’s get real!”

For more information about the 12 Week Body Transformation, click here.

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3 Practical Weight Loss Tips, Not Tricks

Weight loss tips and gimmicks are never in short supply.  Figuring out which strategies to try and which ones are a waste of time and money can be tricky.

Here are three tips that have been in the news lately that are backed by research and can help you reach your weight loss goals.

Just say no to starvation diets.  Flickr photo by Gideon

Just say no to starvation diets. Flickr photo by Gideon

1. Healthy Gut Bacteria Aids Weight Loss – The theory that having ‘good’ bacteria in our gut keeps us healthy, improves digestion and lowers intestinal inflammation isn’t new.  Now, a couple of recent studies have tested the effects of probiotic yogurt on weight loss in women and show that healthy bacteria may also help reduce belly fat.

In one 24 week study, 125 obese men and women were divided into two groups.  During the first two weeks all participants maintained a low-calorie diet.  One group was taking a pill that consisted of one full serving of yogurt.  The other group was given a placebo. The women in the study that were taking the probiotic pills lost an average of 9.7 pounds during the two weeks.  Those taking the placebo lost approximately 5.7 pounds.

During the second half of the study all of the participants followed a specific diet regimen that helped them maintain their weight loss.  The average weight loss for women taking the probiotics was, on average, 11.5 pounds. The women on the placebo stayed at the same weight.  The men did not seem to be affected by the probiotics.

In a Japanese study 210 overweight people were divided into three groups.  For 12 weeks everyone drank a daily seven ounce serving of fermented milk.  Two of the groups had probiotics mixed in the milk. The participants that had the milk with the probiotics lost one to three percent of belly fat and eight to nine percent visceral fat.

Researchers say that to see a reduction in body fat, you will have to eat yogurt on a regular basis, maybe even every day as the subjects in the studies did.

Check the label to make sure the yogurt you buy has a graphic that says “live and active cultures” on the container and provides a list of the cultures.

Also, watch out for the added sugar that is in many yogurt brands. Your best bet is to buy plain Greek yogurt because it is low in sugar, higher in protein, and more filling.  Then add fresh or frozen fruit to sweeten it.  The active cultures found in kefir will also provide an abundance of probiotics.  Kefir can be added to yogurt, mixed into smoothies or eaten alone.

2. Structured Weekdays Can Un-do Weekend Splurges – Putting most of the efforts into staying on a structured eating plan Monday through Friday may improve your changes for weight loss even if you splurge a little on the weekend.

Dr. Brian Wansink, a researcher at Cornell University, says that there is a natural seven day weight cycle that is similar in all humans.  Almost everyone gains weight over the weekend and loses some weight during the week.  Typically people weigh the most on Sunday and the least on Friday.

Dr. Wansink and a team of researchers studied 80 adults ranging in age from 25 to 62.  He categorized them as weight losers, weight gainers, and weight maintainers.  The researchers  found that the difference between the weight losers and the weight gainers was that the ‘losers’ had a stronger compensation pattern after the weekend weight gain so their weight began dropping immediately after the weekend.

The weight ‘gainers’ had no clear decrease during the week which possibly indicates they weren’t able to recapture their discipline after the weekend.

If you’re someone that tends to overdo it on the weekend and feels depressed when you get on the scale on Monday morning the best thing to do is move on and focus on what happens next. That doesn’t mean that you can eat unabashedly every weekend  and still see many results.

But if you do have a piece of triple layer chocolate cake or a cheesy pasta entrée that’s loaded with calories, don’t beat yourself up over it. On Monday morning get your calories back under control and continue working toward you goal.

3. Lower The Thermostat To Increase Metabolism – When I first read about the theory that shivering can help you lose weight I laughed because it sounded so ridiculous. But it turns out that there may be some truth to this shiver-to-lose-weight stuff.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) claims that both moderate exercise and moderate shivering convert bad white fat into healthier brown fat. In a nutshell white fat stores fat and brown fat burns it.

The research done by the NIH found that both moderate exercise and shivering from being cold increases the level of the hormone irisin and FGF21.  Over a six day period irisin and FGF21 turned human white fat cells into brown fat cells.

This is exciting news according to Dr. Paul Lee, an endocrinologist from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia that conducted the study while at the NIH. “White fat transformation into brown fat could protect animals against diabetes, obesity and fatty liver. Glucose (blood sugar) levels are lower in humans with more brown fat,” Lee said.

Lee also says that people with more brown fat are thinner than those with less of it.

The good news is you may not have to stand out in sub-zero temperatures to reap the benefits of shivering.  A Japanese study found that people experienced a drop in body fat after spending two hours a day for six weeks at a temperature of about 63 degrees Fahrenheit.

Over To You

Do you have a weight-loss tip that has worked for you?

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New Study Shows Avocados Are Good For Appetite Control and Weight Loss.

For anyone trying to lose or maintain weight, the hunger factor can be a big problem.  Diets always start out great. You’re following the plan, tracking calories and the pounds are melting away.

Then you hit a wall. You’re hungry. No, not hungry.  Famished!  You’ve been hungry for days, or even weeks, and you’re over the diet. You can’t live like this any longer and into the bag of kettle chips or tub of rocky road ice cream you go. You’re on a bender and there’s no stopping it.

Once you’ve recovered from the food coma you have a couple of options.  You can pick up where you left off and get back on the diet and deal with being hungry all of the time.

Or, you can think about your diet in a different way.  Instead of thinking about how many calories are in the foods you eat, you can pick your foods by where they fall on the Satiety Index.

Avocado

New studies show that avocados may be a natural appetite suppressant.

Solving Your Hunger Crisis

Some foods – potato chips for example – are irresistible.  It’s true that no one can eat just one.  The crunchy saltiness of a potato chip is one of those foods that can destroy a day of dieting because we can eat a ton of them before we feel the least bit full. Combine that with the fact that they are high in calories (20 chips has about 147) and have little to no nutritional value makes them a dieter’s disaster.

Watermelon, on the other hand, is a dieter’s friend.  It is sweet and crunchy, loaded with vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants.  It is low in calories (one cup has about 46).  Watermelon will fill you up quickly and keep you full much longer than the chips will.

Researchers have been studying satiety for year.  The results?  Some foods fill you up quicker and stay in your stomach longer and therefore do a better job of holding off hunger.

Avocados: Friend or Foe?

A recent study on satiety found that consuming half of an avocado leads to a greater feeling of fullness and less of a tendency to snack between meals.  Since the study, the internet has been aflutter with stories about how avocados can help people lose weight.

The avocado is a fruit rich in nutrients that is high on the Satiety Index.  Oranges, bananas, apples and proteins like lentils, cheese, fish and beef also rank high on the index.

In a detailed study, led by Suzanna Holt from the University of Sydney, researchers fed human test subjects fixed-calorie portions of 38 different foods.  They recorded the subject’s perceived hunger following each feeding.

From this study the researchers determined that satiety is “most strongly related to the weight of the food consumed”.  Foods that weigh the most, satisfy our hunger the best, despite how many calories they contain. The study also found that high amounts of certain nutrients, protein, and dietary fiber improve satiety.

Low In Calories/High In Satiety

The key is to consume generous amounts of those foods that rank high on the satiety chart, but are low in calories and, at the same time, avoid high calories foods that have a low satiety rating.  Potato chips, for example, have a satiety score of 1.2.  Watermelon is at 4.5.  A roasted chicken breast is at 3.4 while a Snickers bar is at 1.5.

You can spend a lot of time trying to find out where all of the foods you eat rank on the Satiety Index. If you purchase whole foods and make your meals at home you’re sure to consume foods higher on the scale.

Fast foods and heat-and-eat convenience meals have, through processing, been stripped of most their nutrients and fiber so they don’t leave much for your digestive tract to do once you’ve eaten them. Processed foods are on the Satiety Index along side the potato chips and Snickers Bar.

Meals that you create in your own kitchen have the most staying power. I love this video, How Cooking Can Change Your Life.  It says it all in two and a half minutes.

You can learn more about where some of your favorite foods rank on the Satiety Index, and get help calculating meals using the Fullness Factor at Self Nutrition Data.com.

What’s your favorite filling food?

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