Wednesday, April 01, 2009
By Linda Mooney , Prevention's former beauty editor.
All you need is a minute to start shedding pounds! Here are dozens of successful strategies to cut calories and burn fat that take 60 seconds or less. With about 1,000 waking minutes in everyday, you'll find plenty of opportunities to slip these weigh loss tips into your routine and watch the scale go down. If you've already begun your weight loss, these can maximize your efforts and speed results.
1. Mix a juice spritzer. Combine your favorite juice (half of your usual amount) with plain or sparkling water. You can cut up to 85 calories per glass--and lose 5 pounds or more a year.
2. Pick up the cordless. Burn calories while you talk: Do the laundry (68 calories), set the table (85 calories), or water plants (102 calories). (Values based on a 150-pound person and half an hour of activity.)
3. Pop a piece of gum. Researchers recently discovered that chewing sugar-free gum all day increases your metabolic rate by about 20 percent. That could burn off more than 10 pounds a year.
4. Pay cash for treats. Anytime someone offers you goodies--and you accept--put $1.00 aside. Then give the money to your kids. When you literally pay for treats, you're more likely to say "No thanks."
5. Study the wrapper. At a quick glance, that candy bar appears to contain 220 calories. But a closer look may reveal that it (or a bottle of juice, bag of crackers, or bag of nuts) provides two or more servings--which more than doubles those calories.
6. Sip green tea before you walk. The caffeine frees fatty acids so that you burn fat more easily. And the polyphenols (antioxidant compounds) in green tea appear to work with caffeine to increase calorie burn. (If you have high blood pressure, skip this tip.)
7. Ditch diet shakes. The cut calories are only temporary; you just eat more later.
8. Pack a lunch. Dining out more than five times a week may make you eat more--nearly 300 calories a day--than if you dine out less frequently.
9. Dip your bread. Use olive oil in place of butter. It's healthier and may also help you eat less. In a recent study, dippers ate a total of 52 fewer calories on average than those who used butter.
10. Sprinkle flax on your cereal. High-fiber, ground flaxseed can help curb your appetite and eliminate calories. Add it to yogurt or muffin and bread mixes. Available in health food stores.
11. Dress with this:
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp olive oil
3/4 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp horseradish Mix together
It makes for a tasty salad dressing with only 20 calories and 1.5 grams of fat.
12. Schedule a blood test. About 1 in every 12 women (most of whom don't know it) has an under active thyroid, which can slow down her metabolism.
13. Supersize your H2O. Buy the big bottle when it comes to good-for-you stuff such as water: You'll drink more.
14. Trick your tastebuds. Sucking on a menthol/eucalyptus cough drop can stop cravings instantly.
15. Spice up your meals. Adding hot chile pepper (or capsaicin) to food may help you stop eating sooner.
16. Pour a white cocktail. Like water, low-fat milk's volume fills your stomach, but it also contains carbohydrates--so you eat less.
17. Chunk your salad. Chop carrots, celery, sweet potatoes, zucchini, or other veggies instead of shredding or slicing. It takes more effort to munch bigger pieces; you'll do more chewing and eat less during the main course.
18. Call a friend. Fill loneliness with talk--not cookies. 19. Log your food. Writing down what you eat can help you cut calories and stay in control because you're more accountable. No need to record it perfectly or review what you wrote: The benefit is in the writing itself.
20. Fidget. You can burn up to 700 calories a day! 21. Retire the remotes. You could easily burn 200 extra calories a day if you stop using the TV/VCR remote, garage door opener, electric can opener, riding mower, car, and other laborsaving devices.
22. Spray--don't drizzle. Use an olive oil sprayer such as MISTO to add flavor to salads, chicken, fish, or pasta--without all the calories. A 2-second spray evenly distributes about 1/2 teaspoon of oil, compared to the 2 or 3 teaspoons you might get when pouring. That'll save you up to 100 calories per use. Available in department stores. 23. Buy small. The bigger the package, the more you're likely to eat--up to 44 percent more, according to one study.
24. Break into a jog. If you already jog, speed up to a sprint. These brief intervals allow you to cover more distance, burn fat and calories--without lengthening your workout. The increased impact will also help make your bones stronger.
25. Measure before cooking. It's easy to overeat pasta, but not if you cook the right amount at the start. For a perfect portion, keep a quarter near your spaghetti. Its diameter is exactly the size of the 2-ounce stack (about 200 calories) that you should serve per person. Or buy a dry-pasta measurer sold in gourmet cooking stores.
26. Rent a spooky movie. You're less likely to eat when you're fearful--but more likely when you're angry or happy.
27. Reflect on your choices. Looking at yourself in a mirror while eating may help you consume 22 to 32 percent less.
28. Drop and do 10. Before you pry open that tub of ice cream, do 10 situps or pushups. Doing something physical can put you back in touch with your body--and your goals.
29. Take a whiff. When you really want those fresh-baked cookies, try this: Indulge in the smell for 30 seconds. Then place a small piece on the tip of your tongue for another 30 seconds. Savoring the smell and taste can help you stop at just one cookie.
30. Have chunky soup. People who ate soup containing large vegetable pieces reported feeling fuller and ate 20 percent less during lunch than those who had a pureed soup made of the same ingredients.
31. Blot the fat. You can dab off about a teaspoon of oil--or 40 calories and 4.5 grams of fat--from two slices of pizza.
32. Skip "light" foods. The weight of food--not just the fat and calories--is what fills you up. Eat less and still feel satisfied with low-calorie heavyweights such as oranges, strawberries, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cooked spinach, collard greens, and broccoli.
33. Order fish. Varieties rich in omega-3 fatty acids--tuna, mackerel, cod, and salmon--may help you drop pounds by improving fat metabolism. Overweight people who ate a reduced-calorie diet that included fish every day lost about 20 percent more weight than those on a fish-free diet.
34. Post inspiration. To keep yourself on track, place quotes in strategic spots where you might need some motivation: on the fridge, TV, dashboard, or computer. Some suggestions: "You've come too far to take orders from a cookie." "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels."
35. Drink, drink, drink. Dehydration can slow your metabolism by 3 percent. At a weight of 150 pounds, that would be about 45 fewer calories burned a day--which could mean 5 extra pounds a year.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Think water flushes toxins out of your body? Think it's crucial to stretch before a workout? Think again.
Here, the most popular fitness and diet myths you've bought into -- and why they (and you) are wrong.
By the editors of FitnessMagazine.com
Myth 1: Drinking water can help you lose weight
Fact: Many sources tout drinking copious amounts of water to be the all-curing panacea of the Gods. If you've heard that drinking lots of water improves your skin tone, or that it flushes toxins from your body, you know what we're talking about. But the fact of the matter is, the evidence for such catch-all health benefits is lacking.
Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania have found that both the aforementioned "benefits" simply aren't true. Another myth is that drinking lots of water will make you less hungry. Sorry to tell you this -- you may eat less because you're too busy trucking back and forth between the bathroom and dinner table, but that's about it.
Oh, and that whole "recommended eight glasses a day" thing? Also false. You should drink only when you're thirsty, and this is done just to replace the amount of water a healthy adult loses every day -- about four to six glasses.
Myth 2: Stretching before working out is crucial to preventing injury
Fact: Stretching after a workout can be beneficial, but stretching before a workout actually doesn't increase your range of motion. In fact, some studies suggest that stretching destabilize muscles, making them less prepared for strenuous exercise, especially if you're doing something like weight-lifting. Instead, do a warm-up, which gets your blood pumping.
Myth 3: Vegetarian diets are healthier than meat-inclusive ones
Fact: Sure, eating lots of veggies is healthy. But in general, cutting out an entire food group -- even if it is one that can be high in saturated fat -- is bad idea. Meat is a key source of iron, which keeps your energy levels up, allows you to think clearly, and produces enzymes that fight infection. Moreover, researchers at Pennsylvania State University have shown that iron deficiency increases a woman's risk for postpartum depression.
Vegetarians often try to get their iron fix through lentils, beans, fortified cereals and tofu. However, you're still missing protein. Make sure to eat eggs, dairy products, or soy at every meal to get your animal-friendly dose.
Myth 4: Lifting weights will make you look bulky
Fact: If you've been avoiding the free weights for fear of becoming the Incredible Hulk, no need to flee anymore. When it comes to increasing muscle size, testosterone is key. Men have 20 to 30 times the more testosterone than women, which is why they can bulk up so noticeably. But for you to reach Arnold Schwarzenegger proportions would require you to do far more weight-lifting than the average woman, plus have some sort of hormone imbalance (either genetic or synthetically induced, as with steroids).
In fact, "strength training will help you lose weight faster and keep it off in the long run," notes Jeffrey Janot, PhD, an assistant professor of exercise physiology at South Dakota State University in Brookings. If you also do cardio, it'll help you retain muscle as you drop fat, as well as prevent your metabolism from slowing. So don't focus all your efforts on the elliptical machine -- some bicep curls could actually help you reach your ultimate goal.
Myth 5: Sports bras are just to prevent painful bounce
Fact: Wrong -- sports bras are to prevent painful bounce and permanent breast sag. That's right -- it's not just old age and gravity that'll weigh your chest down. High-impact activities, like jogging or aerobics, can stress your Cooper's ligaments (the connective tissue that keeps breasts firm), causing your breasts to sag more quickly.
According to the American Council on Exercise, compression bras work best for smaller-busted women; the more well-endowed (typically a C cup or larger) should opt for an "encapsulation" bra that supports each breast separately. Replace workout bras every six months to a year.
Myth 6: A hot bath will prevent muscle soreness
Fact: Cold water is a better bet, says Marty Jaramillo, CEO of the I.C.E. Sports Health Group. "Immersing yourself in chilled water is like an ice pack for your entire body," he says.
When you exercise, your blood vessels open wider and stay that way for at least an hour afterward. Soreness occurs when waste products like lactic acid settle in your muscles through these dilated vessels. Colder temps constrict vessels, limiting the amount of waste product that accumulates, explains Jaramillo.
Myth 7: Running is counterproductive to strength training
Fact: Sounds like you need to find a new trainer! "Running is definitely not counterproductive to building muscle, unless you're looking to dramatically increase muscle mass," says Gregory Florez, CEO of FitAdvisor.com. "In fact, as a weight-bearing exercise, running helps develop more lean muscle mass in the lower body -- which also keeps your bones healthy."
That doesn't mean it's a substitute for strength training, though. "Include lower-body strength moves like squats and lunges and upper-body moves like push-ups and pull-ups to reduce injury risk, increase stamina, and boost metabolism," adds Florez.
Myth 8: Holding weights while doing cardio increases calorie burn
Fact: Yes, but not enough to make it worthwhile. The added intensity of holding weights while doing cardio does bump your calorie burn slightly, but it can also lead to elbow and shoulder injuries. "The risks outweigh the benefits," says Douglas Brooks, an exercise physiologist in Mammoth Lakes, California. "You'll expend more energy if you increase the weight you carry, but excessive or uncontrolled movements can damage the joints or cause muscle injury."
A better option for blasting extra calories: Increase your speed or resistance level on either the treadmill or the elliptical machine.
Myth 9: Fresh fruit is better than frozen fruit
Fact: Actually, no. "With shipping and storage, fresh fruit can often sit around for as long as two weeks before it hits your supermarket," says Suzanne Henson, RD, director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham's EatRight Weight Management Program. "During that time, it can lose a lot of its nutrients, especially vitamin C."
In contrast, frozen fruit is often picked and frozen at the peak of freshness. It's also a better choice for concocting smoothies. But watch out for frozen fruits in syrup -- it packs extra calories.
Myth 10: Doing crunches and ab workouts will get rid of belly fat
Fact: You can do crunches till you pass out, and you still might not get a six-pack. Why? If you have a high percentage of body fat, your abs will be covered with -- you guessed it -- fat. And no, doing ab exercises won't necessarily make you lose that belly fat, either. The truth is, you can't spot-train (otherwise, wouldn't we all be running around with flat stomachs and slim thighs?). In order to get visibly toned abs, you have to first reduce your overall body fat, which means plenty of cardio, coupled with strength training for faster results. After that, the fruits of your labor should start becoming apparent.
Originally published on FitnessMagazine.com, December 2008.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
By Ron Geraci
SIN #1: Pride
Of course you feel virtuous when you work out. But sometimes your exercise habits can take a devilish turn and ultimately undermine all your hard work. Here's how to stop sinning and get the results you deserve.
PRIDE: You refuse to listen to your personal trainer or instructor.
Experienced exercisers may think they know it all, from proper form to personal limits, but in the long run, this prevents them from maximizing their workouts and increases the risk of injury, says Chris Freytag, a Minneapolis-based trainer and author of Move to Lose.
REDEMPTION: Get your money's worth.
When you're taking a class, one of the most important things you're getting is expertise. As long as the person has the right certifications and clearly understands your goals, she can and should provide you with tons of information. A good instructor will also help you stay on top of new trends and techniques to help keep your routine fresh and fun.
SIN #2: Envy
ENVY: You covet your Pilates instructor's legs.
The seemingly perfect bodies of celebs, friends, and instructors can be motivating in the short term, but if the admiration turns into jealousy, it can take your focus away from what will give you the most success -- concentrating on your own body and the workout you are doing. "When you have any kind of negative emotion, you literally divert your energies away from making a positive change," Freytag says.
REDEMPTION: Be realistic.
If you are short and curvy, you will never be as long and lean as your instructor, no matter how many hours of Pilates you perform. Think about your own shape and what's realistic to fine-tune. For a five-foot-tall woman with an average frame, 100 pounds is considered by some calculations to be an ideal weight, give or take as many as 10 pounds, depending on bone density and muscle mass. Add five pounds to this baseline for every inch above that. A little self-affirmation doesn't hurt either. "Set a goal to think of at least three wonderful things about yourself during your workout. After a while, you won't have to force yourself to accentuate the positive; you'll do it automatically," says Freytag.
SIN #3: Gluttony
GLUTTONY: You think exercise will right all your diet and lifestyle wrongs.
"Many people use exercise as an excuse to overindulge," says Althea Zanecosky, RD, a professor of sports nutrition at Drexel University in Philadelphia. But as healthy as exercise is, it's not a panacea, and it certainly won't undo bad-for-you behavior like drinking to excess, smoking, or a poor diet. Plus, "exercisers often overestimate how many calories they are burning, so they're putting back on everything they've burned off and then some," Zanecosky adds.
REDEMPTION: Follow the 80-20 rule.
Of your overall diet, 80 percent should consist of healthy foods. You can "cheat" a bit with the remaining 20 percent, but keep an eye on portion control. If you drink, do so in moderation. And smoking? Clearly not good, no matter what you're doing in the gym.
SIN #4: Lust
LUST: You're drooling over your instructor or personal trainer.
Surprise! This infatuation can be motivating. In fact, knowing that going to your Spin class will mean seeing that hot instructor in bike shorts can make showing up at the gym at 6 a.m. less of a chore.
REDEMPTION: Keep it clean.
There's no harm in the occasional fantasy (or even if it becomes a reality between consenting adults). But don't let your feelings keep you from the gym when you're not looking your best or let them affect the way you do an exercise. And no matter how good-looking an instructor is, if he's not helping you meet your goals, you have repeated injuries, or it's all flirting and no lunging, it's time to break up.
SIN #5: Anger
ANGER: You get steamed anytime your friends outperform you.
A little healthy competition can inspire many people to try harder than they ordinarily would and achieve new goals. But if you find yourself getting irritated when your pals are better than you, or if you find yourself pushing yourself to the point of total exhaustion or injury just to win or even keep up, this competition is no longer healthy.
REDEMPTION: Make your workouts all about you and your own results.
"Focus on your own progress rather than how you compare to others," says Kara Gallagher, PhD, an assistant professor of exercise physiology at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. Set realistic short- and long-term goals for yourself, such as completing a 10k race or performing three unassisted pull-ups, and keep a journal of your progress. "Measure yourself against these goals, and as you achieve them, reward yourself with things like a new workout top or pair of shoes," she says.
SIN #6: Greed
GREED: You have that proverbial all-or-nothing mentality.
"Some people have to do it 100 percent perfectly or not at all," says Gallagher. If they don't have time to do their usual 90-minute power yoga class, they'll feel like working out isn't going to be worthwhile so they blow off exercising entirely.
REDEMPTION: Be flexible.
Design several backup workouts of varying lengths and activities that you can do whenever time is tight. "You can achieve many more benefits by being flexible," says Gallagher. Try walking to and from work or doing step-ups when you pass a bench outside or a few minutes of a workout DVD.
SIN #7: Sloth
SLOTH: You never miss a kickboxing class or an elliptical workout...
...but you're either in deep conversation with a friend or reading so intently that you barely break a sweat. Yes, some exercise is clearly better than none, but if you can chat freely or be thoroughly engrossed in the newspaper, it means you're not working out hard enough to get the maximum benefits or your time and money's worth, says Freytag.
REDEMPTION: Set your priorities.
If talking with your friend or catching up on your reading makes exercising more enjoyable, by all means continue -- but limit these activities to your cooldown when you aren't supposed to be pushing yourself, or grab a cup of coffee after your workout and really move it the rest of the time. "The bottom line is, if you're not getting results, you're going to give up," says Freytag. And that could be the biggest sin of all.
Friday, March 20, 2009
What should you eat if you want the energy to work out without consuming too many calories? An expert weighs in.
From the editors of FITNESS magazine
Lona Sandon, R.D., explains the best ways to fuel your workouts -- without thwarting your weight-loss goals.
If your last meal was more than five hours ago, have a 100- to 200-calorie snack 30 minutes before your workout. Liquids digest faster, so try milk, juice, Gatorade, or half a smoothie (keep it low-cal by choosing plain, low-fat yogurt and fruit and skipping syrups, powders, and other additions).
You need a snack during your workout only when you're hustling for more than 90 minutes. Your best bet? A 100-calorie carb boost, like a handful of jelly beans or a sports gel such as Gu.
Ideally, reach for a snack that combines carbs and protein to aid recovery. Second best: carbs with fiber (like fruit). If your next meal is less than three hours away, be sure your snack is under 200 calories; try an energy bar with at least 3 grams of filling fiber, half a bagel with peanut butter, or low-fat chocolate milk.
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