Monthly Archives: July 2017

I’m a 225-Pound Weight-Loss Editor. Get Over It.

 

By Shaun Chavis

I've had a weight problem since I was 6. I've weighed as much as 256 pounds, and I'm currently around 225. At that weight and standing 5'4", my BMI is 38.6, which makes me "obese" or "extremely obese," depending on which chart you read.

Just thought I'd get that out right at the start of my blog here at Health.com, because certainly someone will check out my contributor photo and realize that I am not a slim woman. I've never been smaller than a size 14 (though I’m still determined to get into a 12). And just as my diabetic colleague Sean Kelley knows more than most about his disease, I know quite a bit about mine.

There's a funny thing about our perceptions of overweight people. We accept that people living with diabetes, cancer, celiac disorder, or any other condition know enough to teach the rest of us a thing or two. But we don't expect people who are struggling with extra fat to know anything about how to fight it. And it really rankles some people that those who teach about healthy eating have obvious weight struggles.

Years ago, Cooking Light, Health's sister magazine, published staff photos in a December issue. The staff had had a baby boom: A third were pregnant or had recently given birth when the photo was taken. Response? Readers sent in nasty letters about how fat they looked. Yet, Cooking Light's staff includes registered dietitians and test-kitchen pros who understand the science of healthy, diet-friendly cooking better than most culinary school–trained chefs. (And, if you ask me, better also than the people who make fat-free salad dressing.)

The reality is, even with all the credentials, we are humans first. I've spent most of my life trying to shed my weight, and once I joined Health's staff and started researching weight management as an editor, I gained a valuable perspective. Applying my journalist's brain let me step back and do some troubleshooting from a different angle. Since then, I've been able to put what I've learned as a journalist on a weight-loss beat to successful use.

Next: What a 225-pound weight-loss editor can bring to the discussion of losing weight

Here's what a 225-pound weight-loss editor can bring to the discussion of losing weight:

1. Years of dieting—I've been on and off them since about age 9—have keenly honed my BS meter. I'll skip the Lemonade Cleanse and every rebirth of the Cabbage Soup Diet, because I trust my body only to weight-loss plans that science and sense tell me should work, and I encourage you to do the same. (That said, what works for me might not work for you. There's no single magic bullet.)

2. I like to think of my master's degree in gastronomy (a fancy way to describe studies in food anthropology, food history, food policy, and such) as a "get real" filter: It allows me to always remember real people are using the science that researchers come up with to make choices in kitchens, grocery stores, and restaurants. (While we're on the subject of my CV, I should also disclose that I'm not a registered dietitian.) I've heard nutrition students say, "But if people know they need to [pass up pastries, eat more fruit and vegetables, kick deep-fried food to the curb, etc.], why don't they?" Weight loss and nutrition seem simple when you take culture, lifestyle, personal preferences, human nature, and emotions out of the equation. But that's not how anyone lives.

3. Like any other weight-loss editor (and good journalist), I'm plugged into research, experts, sources—and perhaps most valuable, success. We've all heard the same, tired stats about how few people successfully lose weight and keep it off. If the odds are stacked so strongly against you, why not give it all up and rip through a box of Häagen-Dazs Coffee & Almond Crunch bars? Because even though I have a ways to go, I've tasted success: I've lost 31 pounds and I walk at least three miles a day most days of the week. I also get emails, letters, and pictures from people who've lost 30, 50, and 100 pounds or more. Just this week, I heard from a woman who lost 146 pounds. I'm not kidding—from time to time these stories have me in tears, or running down the hall grabbing anyone in sight: "ohmigoshcanyoubelievewhatthiswomanDID?" The keys to success that these readers share is a rich stash that I'm happy to share with you. The common theme? Damn the stats. It can be done.

4. Empathy. Sitting across a desk from a skinny-minnie dietitian to talk about getting rid of your fat isn't easy. You wonder, "Will she judge me too?" I've always found it easier to relax and open up about my struggles once I know that dietitian has been in my shoes. (Weight Watchers puts that dynamic to work: New dieters feel a little more comfortable once they know their leader's been overweight too.) Someone who's faced her own weight problems is likely to have advice that's been tested by real life, and when you're trying to navigate those daily challenges that can throw you off target, that's the kind of help you need. When I took this job, I asked one of my girlfriends, a slim news anchor, what she thought about a 200-plus-pound weight-loss editor. She looked at me and said, "I can believe advice from someone who's actually had to use it. Are you kidding?"

What's your take on this debate? I'd also love to hear about your weight-loss struggles and how you're facing them. Send me a comment! Or, follow me on twitter.

 


Weight Loss – Health.com

Should You Cut Nightshade Veggies From Your Diet?

 

As a sports nutritionist who works with pro athletes, I fully expected to be bombarded with questions after Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen's personal chef told Boston.com all about the power couple's strict diet. But instead, most of my clients had just one question: "Why don't they eat nightshades?”

Even if you're not familiar with the term "nightshades," you're probably very familiar the produce that falls into this category. Think tomatoes, peppers, eggplant—foods most of us would consider super healthy. So why are they a dietary no-no for Brady and Bündchen? Here's the lowdown on the controversial veggies, and why you probably don't need to nix them.

RELATED: 21 Worthless Foods a Nutritionist Will Immediately Cut From Your Diet

 

 

What are nightshades?

Nightshades include a diverse group of plants (more than 2,000 species!) that belong to a specific botanical family called Solanaceae. They include potatoes, artichokes, okra, cayenne, and paprika.

 

 

Why do they get a bad rap?

The plants have been a subject of debate among nutritionists for years because they contain chemical compounds called alkaloids that are thought to cause inflammation in the body. As a result, some practitioners believe eating the plants could potentially lead to joint pain, digestive problems, sleep disturbances, premature aging, and chronic diseases.

Nightshades continue to be controversial because there's a lack of solid research about the true impact of alkaloid substances on joints and the nervous and immune systems. Plus, the amount of alkaloids in most nightshades is pretty small. And if you steam, boil, or bake them, the alkaloid content drops by about 40 to 50%. It's also worth noting that veggies in this family are hardly unhealthy. Nightshades are loaded with important nutrients and antioxidants.

RELATED:Â 20 Healthy Foods That Can Make You Feel Gross

 

 

Could they be problematic for athletes?

Some people believe nightshades affect enzymes related to nervous system and muscle function, which may interfere with muscle recovery. But many athletes I've worked with who took a break from nightshades didn't experience any difference in performance, muscle recovery, or pain levels.

 

 

Is it worth trying a nightshade-free diet?

As with any major diet decision, the answer really depends on your body. If you have a chronic inflammatory condition (like rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis), an autoimmune illness (such as lupus, celiac, MS, or psoriasis), or your body is just sensitive to nightshades, eliminating them may be right for you, but try it systematically. Without making any other changes to your diet, cut out nightshades for two to three weeks, and monitor how you feel. If you notice changes in your body (like reduced bloating, fatigue, brain fog, aches, or pains) which return after you reintroduce nightshades to your diet, you may have a sensitivity. In that case, consider partnering with a nutritionist. She or he can help you avoid problem foods without being overly restrictive or compromising your nutrient intake.

RELATED: Eating Healthy and Still Not Losing Weight? This Might Be Why

However, if you regularly eat nightshades and feel great, there's really no reason to ditch these nutritious foods. I’m no stranger to food sensitivities, but I personally feel fantastic after eating meals that include raw or cooked tomatoes, oven-roasted eggplant, and cayenne. However, I don't eat them every single day or in huge quantities. Maintaining a healthy, balanced, and varied diet is key.

In short: Rather than mimicking Tom and Gisele, tune into your own body. It will rarely steer you wrong.

What’s your take on this topic? Chat with us on Twitter by mentioning @goodhealth and @CynthiaSass.

Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Yankees, previously consulted for three other professional sports teams, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Sass is a three-time New York Times best-selling author, and her brand new book is Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches with Real Food, Real Fast. Connect with her on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

 


Weight Loss – Health.com

The Virgin Diet: Lose 7 Pounds in 7 Days?

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Can't lose those last ten pounds? It might be time to give up some of your go-to "diet" foods. Think soy, dairy, eggs, corn, peanuts and artificial sweeteners.

According to nutritionist JJ Virgin, author of The Virgin Diet, foods you think are healthy could be sabotaging your weight-loss efforts. Virgin says that food intolerance is a hidden cause of weight gain and if you eliminate "diet" foods that may be causing intolerance, you can lose up to seven pounds in seven days.

Sounds easy but does it work? We caught up with the weight loss guru to learn more:

What is food intolerance?
Food intolerance isn't the same as a food allergy, Virgin explains. "Food intolerance is a series of physiological responses that your body has to certain types of food," she says. "They can be immune mediated, including delayed food sensitivities, hormonal— including elevated insulin or cortisol response, or genetic —including lactose intolerance or celiac disease."

How can food intolerance affect me and my diet?
"Many of the foods you might consider 'healthy' could be triggering intolerances," Virgin explains. Examples include whole grain bread, Greek-style yogurt, egg-white omelets and soy milk. If your body doesn't tolerate any or all of these foods, "they can create cravings, inflammation and ultimately the inability to lose weight," she says.

How do I find out if I have food intolerance(s)?
According to Virgin, there's no need to call a doctor. "An integrative practitioner might do an IgG test, which lists the most common food sensitivities that are unique to you," she says, but that examination "misses genetic or hormonal intolerances." Instead, Virgin recommends "testing" your own body by pulling the hi-FI (food intolerant) foods out for three weeks and then challenging your body by adding them one by one to see how you feel.

 

"Most people test negative for food allergies but find that they feel better when they pull out these foods," she says. When they're re-challenged into their bodies, people discover that one or more of these foods cause a variety of negative reactions, she adds.

Furthermore, "Food allergies are acute and can trigger severe reactions. Intolerances are more chronic and sneak up on you. Many of the symptoms intolerances create can feel 'normal' so you're not always making the connection between the food you ate and symptoms it creates."

What are the most common symptoms?
"Food-intolerance symptoms include bloating, gas, indigestion, fatigue, mental fog, irritability, moodiness — and weight gain," she says. "If you're eating foods that your body can't tolerate, you're likely to gain weight, feel awful, and look older than you actually are."

"The Virgin Diet" is your solution to food intolerance. How does it work?
"The Virgin Diet" treats food as "information" rather than simply "calories," and uses your own body to uncover your unique food intolerance(s). It consists of three cycles:

 

 

 

  • Cycle 1: Pull the seven highly reactive foods for 21 days.
  • Cycle 2: Personalize the program by discovering which foods are hurting you and which are helping you on your long-term road to health and weight management. Do this by reintroducing one of the seven foods into your body each week for four weeks.
  • Cycle 3: Maintain your new diet by learning strategies that will help you stay lean and healthy for life.
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So what are the seven foods to drop?
"Dairy, eggs, soy, gluten, peanuts, corn, sugar and artificial sweeteners," Virgin says.

Is "The Virgin Diet" for everyone?
"Everyone will benefit from pulling these seven highly reactive foods for 21 days," Virgin claims. And for those who doubt or resist her diet plan, she says after trying it, they lose those last 10 pounds, look and feel better, have clearer skin, and "realize pulling these foods is one of the smartest things they've ever done."

According to Registered Dietician Robin Barrie Kaiden, "there are many who may benefit" from the plan but says the diet is not for everyone.

"Yes, these foods are common allergens, but everyone has different sensitivities," she says. "For example, some people are sensitive to certain fruits and vegetables and these are not on this list."

Diana Le Dean, a wellness expert in weight loss, diet and nutrition, warns that detoxing from sugar "is not an easy task." And while she supports the elimination of these seven foods, she recommends making "these changes very slowly and with the help of a weight loss counselor."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fox News Magazine is the official lifestyle magazine of Fox News, covering love, relationships, style, beauty, food, nutrition, fitness, décor, design, and, of course, celebrities. Check out more at magazine.foxnews.com.
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Weight Loss – Health.com

Fitness Star Anna Victoria Doesn’t Weigh Herself. Here’s the Number She Pays Attention to Instead

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Anna Victoria has made it clear she’s not a fan of scales. The superstar fitness blogger and trainer doesn’t weigh herself, and urges her followers not to obsess over how much they weigh either. 

Victoria’s onto something: A scale can tell you your total weight, sure, but it can’t tell you much more. It won't reflect how much muscle you’ve gained thanks to a new strength training routine, or how much fat you’ve lost after making healthy diet swaps.

Instead, Victoria recommends finding out how much body fat you’re carrying around, and then tracking that number monthly. You can do so with body composition tests, which reveal how much of your total weight is fat compared to muscle, bone, and water. These tests can be done with at-home gadgets, or devices at fitness centers—or with more high-tech machines at weight loss clinics and research facilities.

In a new YouTube video, Victoria, who's no stranger to baring all online, set out to measure her body composition using a bunch of different tests or tools–and got six different results, ranging from 14.2% to 26.4% body fat.

The lowest result surprised her, she says in the video, but hardcore female athletes are often in the body fat percentage range of 14% to 20%. Everyday exercisers are typically around 21% to 24% fat, while women with a body fat percentage of 32% and higher are considered obese, according to the American Council on Exercise. (Male athletes are usually around 6% to 13% fat, while men with 25% body fat or higher are considered obese.)

RELATED: 13 Best (and Worst) Ways to Measure Body Fat

There’s research to suggest that body fat percentage is actually a better measure of health than the number on the scale. A 2016 showed that people with more body fat were more likely to die early than people with less fat, regardless of how much they weighed. The good news is that your percent body fat is totally modifiable, says John A. Shepherd, PhD, director of the Body Composition, Exercise Physiology, and Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the University of California San Francisco. 

“Body composition is one of the most modifiable risk factors we have for many common diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer,” he explains. “A lot of our disease risk factors–like genetic risk factors or family history–you can’t do anything about.” It’s worth knowing your body fat percentage, he says, so you can be aware of how it might affect your health–and then get to work changing it.

So how do you measure your body composition? Here are the six methods Victoria tried, and her surprisingly variable results.


Hydrostatic weighing

This test involves expelling all the air from your lungs and then being submerged in water. The water displacement gives your technician an idea of how much of your body is fat compared to lean mass. Yes, hydrostatic weighing is as inconvenient as it sounds—and it’s not all that easy to find a facility to perform this test, either.
Victoria’s results: 14.2%

Bioeletrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)

BIA machines send an electrical current through your body (don’t worry, you don’t feel a thing) to measure fat. The technology can be extremely accurate when used in a weight-loss lab setting, but at-home scales and handheld devices you might remember from gym class aren’t always so spot-on.
Victoria’s results: 26.1% on her BIA scale at home; 18.8% on a handheld device at a gym

Calipers

The classic “pinch test” involves measuring how much of you is pinchable in different spots on your body, like your belly and thighs. Well-trained professionals can be pretty accurate with these devices.
Victoria’s results: 23.4%

DEXA Scan

Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry is typically used to measure bone density, but can be used to examine muscle and fat, too. A DEXA scan is considered the gold standard of body composition testing.
Victoria’s results: 23.5%

Bod Pod

The most expensive option, this space-age-looking pod works similarly to hydrostatic weighing but uses air displacement instead of water to calculate your lean and fat mass.
Victoria’s results: 26.4%

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So, how could one incredibly fit woman have such a range of results?

The testing methods often use different calculations to arrive at their final percentages, explains Shepherd, so it’s not totally off-base for various methods to produce a range of results. But, he warns, there’s also a chance at-home devices aren't as accurate as machines used in professional settings.

Your best bet is to stick with just one testing method and focus on how your results change over time. That will allow you to compare your numbers from month to month better than if you were comparing the results from different testing methods, Victoria says.

Shepherd agrees: “You can use home technology to monitor changes in body fat, even though the absolute value might be off,” he says.

The method you ultimately choose will likely depend on where you live—since you may not have easy access to all these tests—as well as your budget. Victoria paid between $ 45 and $ 95 for her six measurements, but prices can vary. She also points out that it’s important to keep other variables similar too, like measuring your body composition around the same time of day each time, or having the same trainer operate the calipers for you.

Seeing the progress you're making can be a powerful thing: “How much you weigh is not what is important,” she says in her video. “What is important is that you are working hard to be your very, very best, every single day.”


Weight Loss – Health.com

Working Out and Still Not Losing Weight? Here Are 7 Reasons Why

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Do you eat well, exercise often, and still feel like you’re not losing that stubborn weight? Truth is, eating well and exercising often is a very relative and general statement. If we’re honest with ourselves, I’m sure we could admit that we’re all capable of trying a little harder in both areas.

Total-body wellness is a lifestyle. Fat loss happens when you ditch the scale, find an activity you enjoy, and start to see food as fuel instead of something to feed your emotions or occupy your time.

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No matter who you are or what your background is, chances are one of these 7 reasons could be why you’re not shedding pounds:

You’re eating wrong foods

If you’re not losing weight, the first place you should be looking is the kitchen. Some people focus all their energy on burning off calories that they don’t take the time to consider what they’re putting in as fuel. Diet is at least 80% of the battle. While the exact foods you should be eating depend heavily on your body type, metabolism, and other factors, a good rule of thumb is to stick to all natural, whole foods.

Eat most of your starchy carbohydrates (like potatoes, brown rice, grains) on days when you do strength training or more rigorous exercise. On your rest days or when you’re doing light cardio, try to stick to just protein and veggies and not a lot of those starchy foods. Avoid excess bread, sugar, and anything else that's processed. Look for foods that have the fewest ingredients on the label—if you can’t pronounce it, it’s probably not something you want to be putting in your body.

RELATED: The Same 10 Weight Loss Mistakes All Women Make

You’re eating too much

If you’ve already cleaned up your diet big time and you’re still not losing weight, it may be that you're simply eating too much. In order to shed pounds your body needs to run a calorie deficit, meaning you need to burn more than you consume. That being said, you shouldn’t have to deprive yourself either. Life is about balance. Don’t become consumed with counting calories or weighing yourself every day.

Eat whenever you’re hungry and eat slowly enough so you can stop just before you get full. Healthy snacking during the day will keep you from overeating during meals. I always carry a few Kind Bars in my bag, because they're a great snack made with whole foods, and have nothing artificial. And don't be afraid to give yourself ‘healthy’ cheats, like a few chocolate-covered strawberries or coconut chia seed pudding. The moment you start depriving yourself is when you start to feel like you’re missing out on something and you want to binge.

RELATED: 10 Mistakes That Make Cravings Worse

You’re doing too much cardio

Yes, cardio is a necessary part of your workout routine. It keeps your heart healthy, boosts your metabolism, and gives you a good sweat (you should break one daily). However, only doing cardio—or doing too much of it—can actually add to the problem. Longer cardio sessions like staying on the elliptical for 90 minutes or going for regular 10-mile runs can eat away at your lean muscle mass, which is essential for increasing your metabolism to burn more calories.

It causes the body to become more endurance-focused, storing energy as fat to ensure it has plenty of reserve fuel to keep you going for all those miles. Not to mention it dramatically increases your appetite, making you more susceptible to unnecessary snacking or overeating.

RELATED: 7 Workout Habits You Should Drop Now

You’re not lifting weights

This one goes hand in hand with #3. I'm not saying you can't or shouldn’t do cardio. If you love to run or bike for reasons other than losing weight, then by all means don’t stop. But if your primary goal is fat loss, there are other forms of exercise that give a much better bang for your buck. The best way to lose weight and build lean muscle by doing some form of strength training in addition to your cardio. The more muscle tone your body has, the more fat you'll burn.

If you’re not ready to give up your cardio routine just yet, try adding some interval training by performing short bursts of all-out effort mixed into your regular session. These workouts are much more effective at promoting hormones that target stubborn fat. Then, start adding some resistance training to your routine. Body weight exercises like push-ups, squats, and lunges are a great place to start to help build up to lifting actual weights.

RELATED: 11 Reasons Why You're Not Losing Belly Fat

You're not working hard enough

There's no exact equation to working out and eating healthy—it’s a matter of trial and error, finding out what works specifically for your body. And more time spent in the gym doesn't always equal a more fit person. Unless you’re an athlete, body builder, or a marathoner-in-training, the average person shouldn't be working out more than an hour a day.

Your workouts should be intensity-dependent, not time dependent. Keep this fact in mind: the harder you work, the shorter your workout time may need to be. That’s why it's so important to maximize your time spent in the gym or fitness class so you can achieve that coveted ‘afterburn’ effect which keeps your metabolism revved for 24-48 hours afterward.

RELATED: 10 Exercise Cheats That Blow Your Calorie Burn

You’re not taking time to recover

When you do achieve that afterburn and you’re really feeling your workout the next day, those are the days to focus on different muscle groups. Or, if you prefer to work out your whole body, establish a workout routine where you work your entire body one day and then take the next day to do light cardio, stretching, or complete rest.

Recovery and rest are often more important than the workout itself. It’s during those periods that your body does most of the actual fat burning. So give yourself that time to fully recover so you’re ready to work hard the following day. Most importantly, listen to your body. Push yourself, but also give it some love, too.

RELATED: 27 Mistakes Healthy People Make

Your body is under too much stress

Exercise is a stressor on your body. When you have a healthy balance of exercise-related stress and recovery time, your body is healthy and can lose its excess fat. However, not giving your body enough time to recover can also be a negative (see above) as you'll start to produce an excessive amount of cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol is both normal and important when working out, it’s involved in processes that give your muscles the energy needed to get moving.

However, when your body is exposed to cortisol for longer periods of time, it starts to cause negative effects, like stubborn fat in areas you don’t want. Exercise isn’t the only stressor that can produce excess cortisol. A stressful personal or professional life can also make your body produce too much of this hormone. When you stop exercising, your body stops producing cortisol; however, it may not be quite as easy to turn off the mental stressors going on in your life. Make sure you’re keeping your mental and emotional health in check in addition to your physical health. You should strive for total-body wellness.

RELATED: 13 Ways to Beat Stress in 15 Minutes or Less

For more advice on how to reach your weight-loss goals check out 5 Tricks To Burn More Calories And Prevent a Fitness Plateau.

Jennifer Cohen is a leading fitness authority, TV personality, entrepreneur and best-selling author of the new book, Strong is the New Skinny. With her signature, straight-talking approach to wellness, Jennifer was the featured trainer on The CW’s Shedding for the Wedding, mentoring the contestants’ to lose hundreds of pounds before their big day, and she appears regularly on NBC’s Today Show, Extra, The Doctors and Good Morning America. Connect with Jennifer on Facebook, Twitter, G+ and on Pinterest.


Weight Loss – Health.com

How I Found My Feel-Great Weight—and Lost 63 Lbs.

Laura Kelly, 27, 5'3", from Melrose, Mass.
Before: 196 lb., size 8/10
After: 133 lb., size 4
Total pounds lost: 63 lb.
Total sizes lost: 2/3

Laura's wearing: Under Armour Geo Run Tank Top ($ 27; underarmour.com), Under Armour Fly-By Capri ($ 38; underarmour.com) and SpeedForm Gemini 3 running shoes ($ 130; underarmour.com).

I blame grad school for my weight gain. As a full-time student who was also working a part-time job and holding down an internship, I had no time to eat on a regular schedule, let alone make mindful eating a priority. Every night, I’d have a huge dinner and then go right to bed. By the beginning of 2015, my last semester, my bad habits had caught up with me. I didn’t realize how much so until I stepped on a friend’s scale and saw the number 196 staring back at me. I thought the scale was broken, but it wasn’t.

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Choosing better eats 

For the next week, I didn’t know where to turn. At my cousin’s suggestion, I joined Weight Watchers. Though initially skeptical, I got hooked when the results came fast: I lost 15 pounds in the first month. I learned how to rein in portions and build balanced meals, which changed both what and when I ate. I turned to meals like overnight oats for breakfast and roasted veggies and hummus on whole-wheat bread for lunch, which kept me full throughout the day. No longer famished by dinner, I kicked the vicious cycle of going to sleep stuffed and packing on weight because of it. By May, I was down another 15 pounds.

RELATED: The 5 Best Strength Moves for Weight Loss

Amping up workouts 

Since exercising earned me more Weight Watchers points, I upped my routine from twice-weekly Zumba and yoga classes to four workouts per week, adding in runs, barre classes, and personal training. While I never used to think my size messed with my workouts, the more I lost, the easier exercising became. Today I’m sweating regularly and eating clean to maintain my 135-pound frame. And as a Weight Watchers ambassador, I get to help others reach their goals. Knowing that my story inspires people to get healthy makes my low point and all my hard work feel worth it.

RELATED: 9 Science-Backed Weight Loss Tips

Laura’s get-fit crib sheet 

1. Set a curfew. Gorging on a late dinner used to leave me feeling too full, so I wouldn’t have a meal until noon the next day. Now I try to finish my last meal before 8 p.m. to help keep my eating schedule regular and my portions in line. 

2. Make a sweat date. My mom and I weight lift with a trainer one night a week. Not only is it a time for us to catch up, but showing up for each other keeps us accountable no matter what! 

3. Master your cravings. When I need a treat, I reach for avocado or almonds first. Their healthy fats are satisfying enough to curb my need for sweets, so I’m less tempted to grab junky alternatives. 

4. DIY comfort food. Rich in antioxidants and complex carbs, sweet potatoes are one of my favorite healthy foods to dress up. I top them with melted ghee and cinnamon to make them taste indulgent.

 

As told to Anthea Levi


Weight Loss – Health.com

Can Losing Weight Really Slow Down Your Metabolism?

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It’s true that losing weight can reduce the number of calories you burn, but I wouldn’t dwell on it. It’s tough to predict just how much your metabolism will drag and how long the slowdown will persist; the scientific research on the metabolic effects of weight loss is a little all over the place. Some studies have found that overweight or obese people who lose weight do suffer lasting metabolic damage that makes it hard to keep the pounds off later. But other research has found that those same groups can drop pounds with no long-term penalty at all. Don’t forget: Metabolism is partly genetic. That means that even if you and your best friend shed the same amount of weight, your bodies could respond differently.

RELATED: 8 Metabolism Secrets That Can Help You Blast Calories

Interestingly, some experts now believe that the speed at which you lose weight may be an important factor in what happens to your basal metabolic rate (that is, the calorie burn at rest). There’s evidence that people who lose weight quickly through intense calorie restriction see a significant metabolic slowdown. That’s because when you create a dramatic calorie deficit—by slashing calorie intake big time or going crazy with exercise—your body fights back and tries to hold on to energy by reducing the number of calories you burn; this is often referred to as “starvation mode."

RELATED: 3 Ways Mindful Eating Can Help You Stay Slim

Until the research is more definitive, the best piece of advice I can give (and you’ve probably heard it before) is to slim down slowly, whether you have five pounds to lose or 50. Metabolism aside, a slow and steady weight-loss plan is a more sustainable lifestyle change than a crash diet. Most experts recommend losing at a rate of one pound per week, by creating a calorie deficit of roughly 500 calories a day (a registered dietitian can help you craft a more tailored nutrition plan). One more bit of advice: Make time for strength training. Increasing your muscle mass will help you burn more calories at rest.

 

Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.


Weight Loss – Health.com

Why Tracking Your Weight Loss on Social Media (Like Ciara) Can Actually Help

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Even two months after giving birth to baby number two, Ciara’s body is still #goals. But according to an Instagram post the singer shared a few weeks ago, she put on more weight than she planned to while pregnant with her second child.

“I said I wasn’t going to gain 60lbs Carrying Sienna, and… I did exactly that!!” Ciara captioned the photo of her feet standing on a scale that read 178.6 pounds. “4 weeks after her birth I lost 20 lbs. This Weeks Goal is 10lbs. I was 183 yesterday.”

Ciara has since shared two more scale updates: On June 13, she was down to 175.2. Then on June 20, the singer reported she had a “no movement week"—and was still hovering around 175 pounds: “Started my stretch mark removal process this week, and the Doc told me I couldn't work out…so I ate healthy & added a few [cookies] in the mix!” But Ciara didn't let the exercise restriction squash her motivation: “This weeks goal 3lbs. #BounceBack” 

RELATED: 57 Ways to Lose Weight Forever, According to Science

While the notion of posting scale pics on Insta may seem daunting, Ciara is on to something. For a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, researchers looked at people who belonged to an online weight loss community for six months. They found that those who regularly logged in, "friended" others, and shared the number on their scale shed more pounds —8.3% of their body weight, on average—compared to those who didn't network on the site, and lost only 4.1% of their body weight.

Another study, published in 2014 in the Journal of the American Informatics Association, found that people who posted slim-down updates on Twitter reported receiving more support from their Twitter followers than their real-life friends and family. What's more, greater support from social media friends was associated with greater weight loss success.

Meanwhile, research on weight-loss bloggers has found that the longer they maintain a blog, the more pounds they ditch. In a 2016 study, bloggers reported that sharing their progress online helped them stay focused on their goals, kept them accountable, and led to social support.

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There's no question that encouraging words can go a long way when you're trying to make a big change. And it might be easier to get that kind of support online: Posting about your weight loss journey on social media may feel less intimidating than talking about it IRL, points out Sherry Pagoto, PhD, co-founder of the UMass Center for Health and Social Media

“Some people say they like the anonymity [online],” she explains. “On Twitter, you can choose a handle and use an avatar on your profile, which makes some people feel like they can speak more freely and not be ashamed or embarrassed to talk about their weight.”

And it's worth noting that you don't need 16.7 million followers like Ciara to leverage social media for your health. A small but mighty group of virtual supporters may be enough, says Pagoto. “It's takes time to create an online community. But if you engage and stick with it, you can experience a lot of weight loss benefits. It just takes a little bit of work.”


Weight Loss – Health.com