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Weight-Loss Plateaus (source: Jillian Michaels)

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Q: How can I bust through a weight-loss plateau? I've been working really hard and have been having success; however, the scale hasn't budged for the past two and a half weeks.

Let me just tell you this, a weight-loss plateau is an integral part of weight loss. DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED! It is your body's way of protecting you for survival purposes. The weight-loss plateau occurs because your body thinks there is a famine and has slowed your metabolism in order to conserve calories. This will happen periodically throughout your weight-loss odyssey.

That said, a plateau will usually break on its own after about three weeks, but here are several ways to help get your metabolism back on track quickly!

Exercise Tips

1. Variety: Often we fall into an exercise routine — meaning that we do the same workout regimen for weeks at a time. Think of it like this: if you do 10 push-ups after not working out for months, you will be sore, but if you do 10 push-ups a day for 10 days in a row, you will no longer be sore. This is because your body adapts to your exercise program, and as it adapts, the workout becomes less challenging — and, unfortunately, less effective.

The solution is variety. You have to mix up your exercise routine in order to consistently shock your system. Here are a few different ways to mix up your workout:

1. Alternate the weight — one week lift heavy, and the next week lift light.
2. Change the number of repetitions. This usually goes hand in hand with the amount of weight you are lifting: one week heavy weights, low reps; the next week light weights, high reps.
3. Change the exercise: One week do a chest press, the next week a chest fly, and the next week push-ups.

2. Intensity: The best way to speed up your metabolism is to boost the intensity of your training. By picking up the intensity, you'll burn more calories, challenge your body, and literally force your metabolism to burn a little brighter because of all the energy your body needs to complete your exercise regimen.

Food Tips

1. Eat more: Ninety percent of the time plateaus are caused by your body's survival mechanism of protecting against famine, which is triggered by calorie reduction. The best way to fix this quickly is to give your body a little more food so it feels secure. Varying your calorie intake is my best advice for keeping your body from plateauing: For the next three days vary your calorie intake between 1,800 and 2,400 calories. I know this may sound crazy, but trust me...I know what I'm doing. Then, after three days, drop back down to the calorie allowance that I have set for you through this program.

2. Reduce your sodium and DRINK LOTS OF WATER: Keep your sodium under 1,500 mg a day at most for as long as you can manage. You can achieve this in part by cutting all processed food out of your diet for two weeks.

I promise you that if you follow these tips to the letter, your plateau will be shattered by the end of week 2!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SKINNYGIRL291 9/4/2009 9:53PM

  VERY helpful tips! I will try them!

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KIRSTENMCMILLS 8/16/2009 10:50AM

    Thank you for the information. I am losing inches but not weight...I want to lose both!

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ANDREA0301 8/2/2009 3:16PM

    Great reminders!

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TOTS_ROCKS 8/1/2009 10:01AM

    This is fantastic info Eric!! Thanks so much for sharing!!!

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To achieve great things...

Friday, July 31, 2009

"To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.--" Leonard Bernstein

So many times when we long to achieve greatness, we think we have to wait for "the right time." But the right time never comes. Life doesn't offer clear plateaus without something pulling us one direction or another.

It is when we commit with a solid plan but don't have quite enough time, that we propel ourselves to action. We rid ourselves of excuses and move forward any way. I have also loved the quote, "The best thing about waiting till the last minute is then things only take a minute." While that quote is on the opposite end of the spectrum, it still holds that same speck of truth. When we give up the myth of that "perfect time" we propel ourselves toward action.

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SIMPLELIFE4REAL 7/31/2009 9:26PM

    Interesting thought---not enough time...

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RAINRUN 7/31/2009 7:44PM

    LOVE IT great blog! I really appreciate you!
Thanks!
TIA

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ANDREA0301 7/31/2009 11:31AM

    "To achieve things we've never had before, we must do things we've never done before." I just love quotes like this. So simple, and yet so succinct, so concise.

Keep the great blogs comin'!
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PURPLEALLY 7/31/2009 11:19AM

    true enough, I worked on the high school paper and would start my column an hour or so before deadline, used to drive the advisor nuts but I work well under pressure. emoticon

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BLABBERMOUTH2 7/31/2009 10:02AM

    Eric, I had to chuckle when I read , "The best thing about waiting till the last minute is then things only take a minute." That describes my life. I get a lot of stuff done, but I drive a lot of people crazy doing things this way. I work really fast under pressure.

Again, a great blog.

Pam

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7 Ways to Make Water Taste Better

Thursday, July 30, 2009

7 Ways to Make Water Taste Better
Simple tips for livening up your drinking water
By Jen Laskey


Add flavor to your water

Not everybody has a taste for water, but we all need it to ensure that our bodies continue functioning properly. If you want to drink more water, but aren't crazy about the taste (or lack thereof), here are some tips that can make it more enjoyable:

1. Add fresh fruit. Citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, and oranges, are classic water enhancers, but other fruit flavors might also tempt your taste buds. Try crushing fresh raspberries or watermelon into your water, or adding strawberry slices. Cucumber and fresh mint are refreshing flavors as well — especially in summer.

2. Use juice. Any fruit juice can be a good base flavor for water, but tart juices, like cranberry, pomegranate, grape, and apple, are especially delicious. Go for juices that are all natural, with no added sugars. And remember: Fruits and their juices don't just taste good — they contain vitamins and antioxidants that can benefit your health too.

3. Make it bubbly. Many people prefer sparkling to still water. If plain old water isn't inspiring to you, try a naturally effervescent mineral water — which will give you the added benefit of minerals. Or try bubbly seltzer, a carbonated water. You can add fresh fruit or natural juice flavors to your seltzer, as suggested above, or look for naturally flavored seltzers at your local market. If you become a seltzer devotee, you might want to consider getting a seltzer maker for your home.

4. Get creative with ice. Some say that ice water tastes better than water served at room temperature. If that's so, flavored ice cubes may make an even better drink. Use some of the flavoring suggestions above and start experimenting with fresh fruit, mint, or cucumber ice cubes. Simply chop your additive of choice, add it to your ice cube tray along with water, then freeze. You may also consider juice, tea, or coffee cubes. If you want to be more creative, use ice cube trays that come in fun shapes, like stars, circles, or even fish.

5. Drink tea. Herbal, fruit, green, white, and red teas are generally considered to be better for you than black teas (or coffee, for that matter) because they contain little to no caffeine. And there are countless flavors of these teas to choose from. Start with the selection at your local market or health food store. If you're interested in pursuing more exotic flavors and sophisticated teas, start researching the vast array of specialty teas that come from all parts of the globe.

6. Try bouillons, broths, and consommés. If your palate leans toward the savory, you may pass on tea and start sipping one of these hot and savory liquids instead. Choose low-fat and low-sodium versions for maximum health benefits. Because soup is water-based, a cup of hot soup will count toward your daily fluid consumption.

7. Add fast flavor. If you're looking for a quick-and-easy flavor booster, you might also consider sugar-free drink mixes, and flavor cartridges that can be used with your faucet filter system.

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ALNEAGLE 7/30/2009 11:01PM

    Great! Goes hand-in-hand with my blog "the hype about water"! Changing up water makes it so much easier to drink the required amount throughout the day.

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PURPLEALLY 7/30/2009 10:14PM

    I'm lucky; I like the taste of water, especially ice water. Green tea is another fav.

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BLABBERMOUTH2 7/30/2009 3:39PM

    Eric, this should help many of those people who have trouble getting in their water goals. Also, it helps with the daily fruits and veggies. I'm one of the lucky ones. I love, love, love water. But I do like to add some flavors, especially in the summer. Plus I am addicted to pomegranate green tea.

Pam
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MPSWEET1 7/30/2009 2:43PM

    Thank You so much for the in-expensive ideas to flavor water.



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ARIELBE 7/30/2009 2:35PM

    Lots of good ideas - the flavored ice cubes are really good

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For Your Health: The Mediterranean Diet

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

For most of us, the Mediterranean conjures up images of pristine beaches, tanned skin and simple living. Increasingly, though, this region also brings to mind a way of eating that's delicious, flexible and incredibly healthy.

Various studies have shown that the Mediterranean Diet promotes longevity and helps preserve memory. A two-year study found it more effective for weight loss than the American Heart Association's low-fat guidelines ... and with measurable health benefits, particularly for diabetics.

More than a dozen countries have shoreline on the Mediterranean Sea, including Italy, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Morocco. With their different cultures and traditions, there is no one diet for the region. Still, their diets do share some key elements:

Lots of Fresh Fruits & Vegetables
Mediterranean plates can be as much as half-filled with vegetables, and that's what health experts promote for Americans too. (The other half should be split between lean protein and whole grains.)

And if you were hoping for a nightly slice of tiramisu on this plan, guess again. Fresh fruit is a more common dessert in that region. Summer, with its broad range of fruits and berries at their sweetest and most affordable, offers the perfect chance to try this time-tested tradition.

How does this compare to what you're probably eating now? A study published in a 2008 Journal of the American Dietetic Association saw U.S. women who switched to the Mediterranean plan more than double their fruit and veggie consumption!
Mostly Fish, with Some Poultry (and little red meat)
Like the Eskimos and the Japanese, Mediterranean peoples have both a fish-based diet and a low risk of coronary artery disease. The omega-3 fats in fish promote a healthy heart; they lower your triglycerides, your blood pressure, and your risk of dangerous blood clots.

Conversely, red meat has been linked to premature death. A 2009 Archives of Internal Medicine report tracked over 500,000 Americans for 10 years; those that ate as little as four ounces of beef, pork and processed meats daily had greatly increased risks of dying from heart disease and cancer.

Healthy Fats, particularly Olive Oil & Nuts
Though sometimes criticized for being too high-fat, the Med Diet tends to be lower in fat than most Americans' current diets and, perhaps more importantly, features healthier fats than we typically eat.

For example, the monounsaturated fat in olive oil can lower your 'bad' LDL cholesterol levels. The Med Diet also cuts unhealthy fats by avoiding processed foods, the most common source of trans fats, and limiting red meat, which is high in saturated fat.

Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association reported that the Mediterranean Diet really is heart-healthier. Among 600 adults who'd already had one heart attack, Med Dieters had a 50-70% lower risk of a second attack as compared to those eating a Western diet.

When shopping for olive oil, look for "virgin" or "extra-virgin" varieties; with their lower levels of processing, they offer the most health benefits. The aroma-free "extra-light" kind is ideal for baking. (The Med plan does allow dairy, but mostly yogurt and cheese rather than butter.)

Small Amounts of Wine
Red wine has known health benefits. Moderate consumption can help boost your 'good' HDL cholesterol, and its antioxidants support your immune system and promote longevity by fighting free-radical damage. The key word here is "moderate."

Among Mediterranean cultures that drink wine (i.e. the non-Muslim peoples) the glasses can be considerably smaller than ours. Also, the risks from greater alcohol consumption include liver damage, higher triglycerides and increased rates of breast cancer among women.

The Mayo Clinic recommends no more than five ounces of wine daily for women, 10 ounces for men.

Lots of Whole Grains
Most of us are used to white bread and white rice, but Mediterranean peoples tend to eat more unrefined grains, including brown rice and whole-grain breads and pasta.

With less processing, whole grains pack more nutrients. And as complex carbohydrates, they take longer to digest, helping you to feel full longer; that could well be why they've been linked to slimmer waistlines.
A study in a 2008 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared two calorie-restricted diets: one with only whole grains, the other with only refined grains. Both groups lost weight over 12 weeks, but with whole grains, they lost considerably more abdominal fat.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MOONCHILDMARIE 8/1/2009 9:45AM

    In just one week of following this type of eating, I find that I eat more food yet have lost weight, I am staying within my range of calories, carbs, fat, and protein, I'm not hungry and my hormones are not out of whack. I'm already feeling better and have more energy. I highly recommend it.

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ALNEAGLE 7/29/2009 9:57AM

    Great blog! Thanks for the information!

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REBBIE54 7/28/2009 10:49PM

  Although I did not start out shooting for a Mediterranean diet, my modified eating regime closely resembles your description and I am finding all those benefits you mentioned to be absolutely true. I rarely get hungry between meals now and if I do a few almonds and a big glass of water quiet the tummy.

I am lucky because I really like all those foods so I am not having to choke down EVOO or white beans or fresh fruit or yogurt, but I am having to give up processed foods, beef, alcohol etc. However, falling asleep when my head hits the pillow, waking refreshed, no GERD, losing lots of weight, improved skin and hair condition - the list goes on and on- make it all worth while.

Thanks so much for sharing this info - and to those who like these foods already - it will be a piece of virtual cake!

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BLABBERMOUTH2 7/28/2009 8:26PM

    Thanks for the informative blog, Eric. I've read quite a bit about this style of eating. What do you think it's going to take for people to open their eyes to see that we are literally slowly killing ourselves?

I know that since I have changed the way I eat to fit this style of eating, all my blood work is back to normal. I feel a lot better and have a ton of energy. Now I'm trying to change the way my great niece and nephew eat. They are 4 and 6. When they are at my house, they don't ask for chips or candy, they go to the refrigerator for yogurt or fruit. They have started bugging the mom for healthy snacks.

One baby step at a time. Keep up the good work and keep planting little seeds. They will begin sprouting all around us.

Pam
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"A Hill Too High" (source: "OUR DAILY BREAD")

Sunday, July 26, 2009

My wife and I like to rollerblade. Near the end of one of our favorite routes is a long hill. When we first started taking this route, I tried to encourage Sue by saying, “Are you ready for the hill?” just before pushing our way to the top. But one day she said, “Could you please not say that? You make it sound like a huge mountain, and that discourages me.”

It was better for Sue to face the hill thinking only about one “step,” or one rollerblade push, at a time instead of an entire steep hill to conquer.

Life can be like that. If we peer too far ahead of today, the challenges may feel like a Mt. Everest climb. They can appear impossible to handle if we think we have to be “ready for the hill.”

The Bible reminds us that today is all we need to tackle. We don’t need to worry about tomorrow’s tasks (Matt. 6:34). Imagine Moses thinking, “I’ve got to feed all these people for who knows how long. How can I get that much food?” God took care of that mountain with manna—but only enough for one day at a time (Ex. 16:4).

Every hill in life is too high if we think we must climb it all at once. But no hill is insurmountable if we take it one step forward at a time—with God’s help. — Dave Branon

He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest. —Berg

God is there to give us strength for every hill we have to climb.


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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ROWDYWITH4 7/27/2009 3:28PM

    I love the Daily Bread! My son and husband read it together every night!

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PISTL67 7/26/2009 6:12PM

    good post, need to remind myself-luke 6:25 emoticon

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HILFROMTEXAS 7/26/2009 10:14AM

    Thank you for your writing. It coincided with what I was writing this morning. God does indeed help us meet every challenge, one at a time. Blessings

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