Wisdom, Why HIIT Works and Weight Loss: It’s Friday. I’m in [Link] Love

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I ran across a few health and fitness links this week that I couldn’t resist sharing. Winter can be a tough time of year to stay on top of of your fitness goals, but the links below will help.

Happy Friday to everyone! It’s Friday and I’m in [link] love!

Positivity is Powerful

Even if you strive to maintain a positive outlook, some days it can be harder than others. The Power of Positivity web site and Facebook page provides daily positive affirmations that can help you on days when the struggle is real.  Below is an inspirational video created by the Power of Positivity that has been circulating social media sites.  Check out their site here:  The Power of Positivity.

HIIT Is Here to Stay

Every year the American College of Sports Medicine compiles a list of the trends they predict will become or remain popular in the upcoming year. This year, wearable tech, body weight training and high intensity interval training (HIIT) top the list.  HIIT workouts are popular because they can be done anywhere at any time and, in most cases, don’t require any equipment.

If you’d like to add some HIIT to your life, here’s a link to a 20 minute workout that you can do at home or on the road. Try this Calorie-Torching HIIT Workout from the Fhitting Room.

Nail Your Resolution By Doing This

We’re half way through January. Are you nailing your goals so far?  This article has some great advice from the Triathlete and reaffirms what we talk about here at PTCDN.  Set practical goals.  Instead of saying you’ll never eat dessert again, resolve to have dessert in moderation.  For some advice that works,  click here:  Nail Your 2017 Nutrition Goals from the Triathlete.

Too Good To Be True?

Maybe not. Japanese scientists have concluded a double-blind trail on obese adults to determine what, if any, apple cider vinegar has on blood sugar and body fat.  The results were surprising and indicate drinking apple cider vinegar could be a viable tool to aid in weight loss.  Read about the study and results here: Apple Cider Vinegar Helps Blood Sugar, Body Fat, Studies Say.

There’s Strength in Numbers

Reaching fitness goals are not only easier, they’re more fun, with friends. Stride Kick lets you join – and even create – fitness challenges that you can invite your friends, family and co-workers to do with you.

Stride Kick

Challenge yourself by creating a fun fitness challenge with your own goal or invite friends and coworkers to join and motivate you. Don’t want to create your own challenge? Become a part of the Stridekick community and join a community challenge to earn badges for achieving your goals: Moving with Stridekick’s Fitness Tracker Challenge.

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

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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.

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Five in 30 Week One: Let’s Get Real

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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!

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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

Improve Your Health With Lemon Water

It doesn’t get easier than this.

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.

Lemons and water

All Natural Lemon Juice Cleanse

Lemon water is an inexpensive, easy-to-make no-sugar thirst quencher that is more effective than commercial cleanses. The Vitamin C in lemons help the liver produce a compound called glutathione, which cleanses the liver and helps it regenerate. The minerals and vitamins in lemons help to flush unwanted toxins from the digestive tract, also aiding in liver detoxification

Increased Energy

Lemon squeezed in water provides more energy for the body than plain water. Water with lemon is a good pre-workout hydration drink. After a workout, lemon water will replace lost fluids and electrolytes and can improve post-workout recovery.

Weight Loss

There have been plenty of articles written about how lemon water can ‘melt fat’ and help people lose weight. Lemon water is not a magic potion that will cause you to drop pounds quickly unless you’re engaged in some of the other necessary behaviors – like reducing calories, and increasing your physical activity – that promote weight loss.

Lemon water will help you feel fuller and more satisfied than plain water which can cut cravings and reduce the chances that you’ll reach for a sugary soda or sports drink.

Glass of Lemon Water

How Much Do You Need?

People that weigh less than 150 pounds can squeeze a half of a fresh lemon into 8 to 12 ounce glass of water. People over 150 pounds can use the juice of one whole lemon or drink two glasses with a half a lemon each, twice a day.

The one downside to drinking lemon water is that it can be hard on tooth enamel. After drinking your daily glass, rinse the mouth with regular water and spit it out. This will protect the teeth from the acids in the lemon juice.

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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.

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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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