7 habits that are quietly making you fat (and have nothing to do with eating)

BLOG 37Can’t figure out why you’re packing on the pounds lately? It may not be related to food at all. In fact, some of your habits may be contributing to the spike on the scale. Find out if you’re guilty of these seven habits that are quietly making you fat, and then take steps to correct them.

1. Sitting at your desk

It’s no secret that a sedentary lifestyle — also known as the “Sitting Disease” — can lead to a whole host of problems (the least of which is a few extra pounds, by the way), but those problems are amplified if you’re sitting around just as much at work as you are at home. WebMD reports that “long periods of physical inactivity raise your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.” There are small gradual changes you can make, however, that will get you up and moving again. For starters, get up from your desk and walk around, stretch, or move for a period of at least five minutes. Need motivation? Instead of sending an email to Bill in accounting, take a stroll to his office to speak to him in person.

2. Not getting a good night’s sleep

There’s plenty of science that points to a correlation between sleep deprivation and weight gain — there are hormones and other factors involved — but we don’t have to get complicated to understand that not getting enough shut-eye is hurting your waistline. The bottom line is that sleep deprivation is a vicious cycle that is facilitated by and also results in poor eating habits (like too many cups of coffee or a sugar boost to get you through the day) that lead to feelings of sluggishness that make you want to skip the gym which increases the likelihood that you’ll continue to eat poorly once you get home… and so on. Of course, when it’s time to go to bed, you’re too wound up to sleep — and so the cycle continues.

Work on developing better sleep habits, and it’ll be that much easier to develop better diet and exercise habits.

3. Poor posture, even if it’s an illusion

You’re not actually gaining weight if you have poor posture — you could be healthy and active and fit — but if you’re a sloucher, you’re making those couple extra pounds look likeseveral extra pounds. To combat this problem and ultimately look slimmer, be conscious of how you’re sitting and standing so you can work on your posture.

4. Riding instead of walking (or climbing)

Do you always take the escalator when there’s a staircase right beside it? Do you ride the elevator up one or two floors when you could walk? Are you hopping cabs to go a few blocks?

If these scenarios sound like you, you’re missing out on crucial exercise opportunities that may seem small individually but will add up over time and potentially result in weight loss. If you want to lose more weight, you need to get moving more often. Plus, if you do it throughout the day with small steps at a time, you won’t have to beat yourself up at the gym — which also can lead to discouragement and eventually avoidance of exercise altogether.

5. Taking certain kinds of medication

Some of the medications you’re taking may be contributing to your weight gain, so it’s important to discuss this with your doctor if you’ve noticed a change. Ideally, these side effects should be discussed in advance of the prescription so you’re informed, but if you’ve been on a particular medication for a while that you think is the culprit, schedule an appointment to get the situation under control.

6. Changing into sweats/pajamas as soon as you get home

This is more a psychological issue than anything else, because when you change into your pajamas as soon as you get home, you automatically enter a mindset that you’re not doing anything for the rest of the day or night. This leads to hours on the couch, binge watching television, and probably stuffing your face with junk food out of pure boredom. To curb this habit, add more hobbies and activities to your life that’ll keep you busy and moving. Don’t cop out with the ol’ “I don’t have time” routine either; if you’ve got time to stare at the tube for multiple hours on end, you’ve got time to do something more productive. It’s just a matter of your willingness.

7. Putting off exercise

t’s very easy to find a million other lazy things to do than get your butt up and burning calories. Trust me, I was a victim of that mentality for a long time. I understand how hard it is to get out of that rut. Nonetheless, it’s important for you to help yourself get healthy. Nobody else can do it for you, and you owe it to yourself anyway. Instead of brushing off the opportunity to get active next time — even if it’s just for a few minutes — take advantage of it. I promise that afterward your body and your mind will feel better, and hopefully it will be the beginning of a more positive, healthier you.

13 ways to cut portions without feeling hungry

BLOG 66To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume, which inevitably means one thing: portion control. But you’re not necessarily doomed to a growling stomach until you reach your goal. Portion control doesn’t mean you have to eat tiny portions of everything, you don’t want to feel like you’re on a diet, but you have to eat fewer calories.

Here are 14 easy ways to cut portions, trim calories, and lose fat without counting the minutes until your next meal:

1. Start with a glass of H2O

Drink a big glass of water before you eat. Filling your belly with water will naturally make you less likely to overeat, she says. Plus, some symptoms of dehydration may actually be what’s causing your rumbling belly, so sipping some water before you eat may eliminate your “hunger” altogether.

2. Wear form-fitting clothes

We’re not suggesting you squeeze into pants that are too tight. However, wearing an outfit with a waistband or perhaps a jacket with buttons can serve as a tool to prompt you to slow down and assess how you feel during your meal. As your clothing begins to feel a little snugger, it may keep you from going back for seconds.

3. Add veggie fillers

Bulking up your meals with veggies is one easy way to cut calories while filling you up fast, lettuce for example can be used as the base for your salad or as replacement instead of the tortilla in a taco, swap in mushrooms for half the ground meat in most recipes or add more veggies to your baguette instead of meat.

4. Dine on dinnerware that helps you lose

The color of your plate may influence how much you eat, according to a 2012 Cornell University study when a plate and the food on it had a low color-contrast it may make people eat 22% more than when there is a higher color-contrast. The study conclusions suggest that if you want to eat less, select plates that have a color-contrast to the food you’re eating for dinner. Or if you want to eat more healthy foods, like a bigger salad, eat greens from a large green plate or bowl!

5. Make carbs the topper instead of the base

Rethink the way you use grains and starches. For your meal load up your plate with veggies and a serving of lean protein, then add a quarter cup of brown rice.

6. Set the scene for slower eating

Dim lights and listen to relaxing music to set the tone for a more leisurely meal. Take your time while eating increases enjoyment and decreases portions. Remember to chew slowly, put down your fork between bites, and sip water to make your meal last longer.

7. Work for your food

Another way to slow down your eating: munch on foods that require shelling, peeling, or individual unwrapping. Edamame or shrimps and nuts in their shells are healthy options.

8. Don’t eat from the bag or box

When you sit down with a bag of chips, do you really know how many you’re eating? Researchers from Cornell University sought to answer this question in a study and found that people ate 50% more chips when they were given no visual cues as to how large a portion should be. So if you buy a bag of pretzels or tin of nuts that contains 10 servings, divide the contents of the container into 10 smaller baggies ahead of time.

9. Slurp your appetizer

Before you dive into your entrée, have some soup. Though it may seem counterintuitive to add more to your meal, research shows that starting a meal with soup may help you reduce your overall calorie intake. In a 2007 study, people who ate soup before their lunch entrée reduced their total calorie intake by 20%. Your best bet: a broth-based soup, preferably with veggies to help you feel full from the natural fiber.

10. Take a lap beofre serving yourself

In a Cornell University study, researchers observed people at two separate breakfast buffet lines that featured the same seven items: cheesy eggs, potatoes, bacon, cinnamon rolls, low-fat granola, low-fat yogurt, and fruit. One line presented the foods from healthiest to least-healthy, while the other line had the order reversed. Regardless of which line they passed through, more than 75% of diners put the first food they saw on their plates; the first three foods they encountered in the buffet made up two-thirds of all the foods they added to their plate. So take a stroll around the buffet or dinner table before you serve yourself.

11- Limit mealtime distractions

Turn off the TV and put your smartphone away while you eat. A recent study found that people who watched television during meals tended to consume more than those who ate without any distractions. And for you office dwellers? Consider taking your lunch break away from your desk, in an study, people who played computer solitaire while having lunch felt less full at the end, and went on to eat more food later in the day than those who didn’t play the game.

12. Use smaller serveware and dishes

Dish up your own food with a small utensil onto a small bowl or plate, and chances are you’ll eat less.

13. End your meal with a new kind of sweet treat

Many people have trained themselves to expect a sweet treat at the end of a meal, swap in a new, healthier ritual after meals to signal that you’re done eating. Some ideas: a tea or your favorite fruit!!



9 things you shouldn’t do to lose weight

BLOG 58What is the right way to lose weight? Is there such a thing? The truth is that different weight loss methods work for different people. Despite the variety, there are still a few “don’t” when it comes to trying to shed some pounds. Here are 9:

For diet and exercise:

1. Don’t eat less than recommended

Your body needs a certain amount of calories to function and stay healthy, whether or not you are trying to lose weight. While shedding pounds does require a decrease in the total calories you take in (compared to how much you burn), don’t forget that the calories you consume also come with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more. A drastic cut in calories deprives your body of the nutrients it needs and in the long run can slow down your metabolism. In general, you shouldn’t go below 1000-1200 calories per day,

2. Don’t choose nutrient poor foods

When eating a reduced number of calories you should make sure that the foods you choose provide the most nutrients possible. Whole grains, healthy fats, lean protein, even high calorie but nutrient rich foods can all be part of your diet. When it comes to beverages, opt for plain or flavored water instead of sugary sodas and juices, and be mindful of your alcohol intake, as it may hinder your weight loss efforts.

3. Don’t completely eliminate foods that you actualt love

Chances are that if you completely cut out foods you absolutely love, you’ll spring back into old eating habits pretty quickly. Unless your doctor informs you of a health condition that requires food elimination, or unless you choose to eliminate a food for personal reasons, let go of the idea of “bad” foods and learn to enjoy them in moderation instead or choose a healthier option. Pasta? Rice? You can eat them in their integral presentation, they’re still delicious but healthier.

4. Don’t go on a fad diet

If a diet sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Claims for fast and easy weight loss from diets and weight loss pills more often than not yield only short-lasting results. Instead, a lifestyle change is key.

5. Don’t exercise too much, or too fast

Jumping into an exercise program too fast or exercising excessively can lead to injury and exhaustion. Take it slowly at first. It is crucial that you give your body proper time to adjust to a new routine and enough time to recover and rebuild a stronger a version of itself.

Another point to consider is your diet for exercise. Calories burned during exercise count towards your daily calorie expenditure and therefore create a larger calorie deficit. While you don’t have to eat back all of your exercise calories, not fueling and refueling properly can lead to eating less than recommended.


6. Don’t be negative

A positive, can-do attitude is key for weight loss – it keeps you motivated. Plus, believing in yourself makes it more likely that you will succeed. Even when you think you “messed up” or when you don’t see the results you want to see right away, forgive yourself and keep.

7. Don’t obsess, especially with numbers

You’re creating healthier habits and a healthier lifestyle throughout your weight loss journey, and while a number goal may be part of your vision of success, it shouldn’t be the only factor that defines your success. Instead of allowing a number on the scale define how you feel about yourself, or your total calorie count for the day determine if you were successful, measure success without the scale and pay attention to how your habits and feelings are changing.

8. Don’t do it by yourself

A support group can be a tremendous help throughout your journey, both for motivation and encouragement during difficult times and for celebrating your success with. Friends, family, and online groups can become part of your journey. However, make sure that your support system is actually encouraging you instead of bringing you down.

9. Don’t tackle everything at once

Making multiple changes at once can become overwhelming and can make you feel like giving up. Similar to starting an exercise program, start slow. Set a series of smart goals – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time – based goals that you can tackle one at a time. Once one goal is achieved and incorporated into your life, you can move on to a different one.






5 tricks to help form healthier eating habits

BLOG 31Derail existing unhealthy habits

Research shows that about 40% of our activities are performed in the same daily situations (wake up, walk into the kitchen, make coffee), because we repeat what seems to be working, and we form associations between cues and behaviors (spot the coffee machine, grab the pot). That means the first step toward forming a new habit is breaking the connections that trigger you to do the opposite, or something else, which creates a window of opportunity to act differently.

For example, if you want to drink water in the morning instead of java, stash the coffee maker in a cupboard, put a display of fancy drinking glasses in its place, and put a water pitcher in the fridge so it’s the first thing you spot. Just breaking your usual connections can have a huge impact on the success of new habits.

Repeat new behaviors

Surely you’ve heard various stats about how many times you must repeat a behavior before it becomes a new habit—some say daily for 21 days, others 30. Research from University College London found that for a group of 96 people it took 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic. One thing’s for certain, though: if you stick with something, such as making a smoothie for breakfast every morning, it will eventually become second nature.

Create cues for healthy patterns

Tying the behavior to something else that makes sense. For example, if you already cook meal at home, set a goal of using that time to prepare lunch for the next day, too. When a new behavior is consistently carried out within a specific context it’s much easier to remember to take action, and those actions are more likely to stick.

Question conventional notions

Many people who are on the road to forming a new habit wind up talking themselves into quitting, because they hang onto conventional notions about what will work. For example, a eating plan which involves eating a few squares of dark chocolate without distraction during “you time.” This tactic work for curbing cravings, and decreasing the desire to eat both sweet and salty “junk foods” like chips and baked goods. But the moment someone starts to think, “Two little dark chocolate squares aren’t going to make me not want cookies” they stop practicing it, and stop giving it the chance to make an impact.

Find support

One of the most critical steps in forming new healthy patterns is support. Unfortunately our culture is set up to encourage and reinforce lots of unhealthy habits, so trying to change or form new ones can feel like swimming upstream. Many people don’t realize just how unhealthy his work and home environments really were until they made a conscious effort to get healthy. To combat discouragement, stress, self doubt, or thoughts about throwing in the towel, find at least one person who really gets what you’re doing and can cheer you on, or at least let you vent when you’re feeling challenged.


How to turn your diet into a lifestyle

BLOG 301. Skimp on liquid calories: focus on the most filling foods to help manage your hunger.

2. Make the healthy choice the easiest choice:  a big part of eating right is having the healthiest foods easily accessible. Having a fruit bowl on the counter, making sure your fridge and pantry is well stocked and keep the best choices at eye level. Be sure to put any trigger foods or treats in less obvious places. Out of sight, out of mind.

3. Avoid–or limit–alcohol: alcohol stimulates your hunger, while decreasing any willpower or inhibitions making you order something fatty or an ice cream. Drinking alcohol is a behavior that has been found to be more diet-destructive than eating out a lot or watching hours of TV every day!

4. Avoid exercise fat traps: learn that the fact of being super athletic doesn’t mean you can eat whatever just because you work out a ton. It just doesn’t add up. The calories you eat far exceed what you can burn off with exercise and working out also sparks hunger, making it even harder to not want to eat more.

5. Eat your meals, don’t skip them.

6. Don’t eat after dinner.

7. Set up goals: make weekly and monthly goals to stay motivated and keep on track. Make your goals related to eating well or being physical and not about what the scale says.

8. Reward your accomplishments: whenever you achieve a goal–not matter how small–give yourself a pat on the back.

9. Try to eat the same: weekdays, weekends and even on holidays. Research shows that individuals who eat the same way all week long and generally the same on vacations on holidays, are 1.5 times more likely to maintain their weight loss, compared to those who regularly take “holidays” from healthy eating.

10. Small changes equal big results: think about the small things you can change in your behaviors that will add minutes to your daily activity or subtract calories from your diet. Simple swaps like using lettuce in place of a bread roll or a tortilla, enjoying a vegetarian meal once a week, not eating seconds and having more produce as snacks are relatively easy changes that can equal great success.

Eating habits you should drop now

BLOG 831. Drinking too often

After one drink, people inhibitions are lowered and their appetite spikes. That combo — in addition to the extra calories in the cocktails themselves — results in consuming hundreds of surplus calories. And it happens more often than they realize, because most people underestimate how much they drink until they begin keeping a food diary. The good news is when they consciously cut back, they drop weight. If you think you may be in the same situation, become a teetotaler for a 30 days, or commit to limiting alcohol in specific ways, such as only drinking one night per week, or 2 times per month. The results can be dramatic.

2. Eating diet foods

First, they’re usually packed with lots of unwanted additives and impossible-to-pronounce ingredients. And let’s face it, they’re just not filling or satisfying. After eating a frozen diet entrée, bar or dessert, you were left with lingering hunger and thoughts of food, which led to nibbling on other foods. As a result, you wind up taking in far more calories than they would have if they had prepared a healthy, satisfying meal. A 2010 study found that we burn about 50% more calories metabolizing whole foods versus processed foods. Therefore, is more likely break a weight-loss plateau when you ditch diet foods and start eating more calories from fresh, whole foods.

3. Oveareating healthy foods

It’s incredible when people fall in love with healthy fare like veggies, lentils, and whole grains. The only sticking point is they sometimes eat too much. For example, a person can change his regular meal of 5 tortillas for wild rice, which is fantastic!!, but his wild rise portion is too large given that he sat at a desk all day, and in addition he put avocado to his salad, avocado is a healthy food but it has too much fat and you have to limit its consume. The truth is, while whole foods are nutrient rich and they enhance metabolism, you can overdo it. To prevent that, listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, and use visuals to guide your portions. For example, a serving of fruit should be about the size of a tennis ball.

4. Skipping meals

Going long stretches without eating can create two unwanted side effects that undermine weight loss. First, you’ll likely burn fewer calories as a way to compensate for not having fuel when you need it. Second, you’ll up your chances of overeating at night, when your activity level is low. Several studies have found that it’s not just your overall daily calories, but also when you eat them that matters. A good rule of thumb is to eat larger meals before your more active hours, smaller meals before less active hours and never let more than four to five hours go by without eating.

5. Counting calories

Aside from the fact that the quality and timing of the calories you consume is critical for weight loss success, the practice of counting calories can backfire. One study found that even without limitations, calorie counting made women more stressed. Nobody wants that. Plus, an increase in stress can cause a spike in cortisol, a hormone known to rev up appetite, increase cravings for fatty and sugary foods and up belly fat storage. Also, the calorie info available on packaged foods or on restaurant menus isn’t a perfect system. I’m not saying that calorie info is meaningless, but I do think there are more effective and less cumbersome ways to shed pounds.

6. Shunning good fat

Despite the best attempts to dispel the notion that eating fat makes you fat, all the people have remained fat-phobic. But eating the right fats is a smart weight loss strategy. In addition to quelling inflammation — a known trigger of premature aging and diseases including obesity — healthy fats are incredibly satisfying. They delay stomach emptying to keep you fuller longer, and research shows that plant-based fats like olive oil and nuts up appetite-suppressing hormones. Plant fats have also been shown to boost metabolism, and they can be rich sources of antioxidants. Aim to include a portion in every meal.

7. Emotional eating

The habit of reaching for food due to boredom, anxiety, anger or even happiness is by far the number one obstacle my clients face when trying to lose weight. We’re practically taught from birth to connect food and feelings. I’ve heard stories about people being rewarded with treats after a good report card or a winning game, or being consoled with food after being teased at school or going to the dentist. We bond over food, bring it to grieving, use it to celebrate or turn to it as a way to stuff down uncomfortable feelings. It’s a pattern that’s socially accepted and it’s challenging to overcome. But it’s not impossible. And even if you found non-food alternatives to addressing your emotional needs 50 percent of the time, I guarantee you’ll lose weight. Instead of a fad diet, consider making this your New Year’s resolution — while you can’t break all the patterns overnight, this change may be the most important and impactful for weight loss success.

3 refreshing facts about weight loss that will make it seem so much less intimidating

BLOG 57If the mere thought of starting your weight-loss journey leaves you shaking in your stilettos (or flats), we’ve got good—okay, make that amazing—news for you: Getting healthy and losing weight doesn’t have to be an intimidating prospect. (It should be an exciting one! After all, you’re about to feel better than ever before.)

To prove our point, we’ve gathered up three facts:

1. One bad day won’t wreck your results

A lot of women beat themselves up about one “bad” day, but the fact is you physically can’t gain much weight in 24 hours. After all, since a pound of fat contains about 3,500 calories, you’d have to consume 3,500 calories more than what you burn to gain a single pound. Okay, so an indulgent day won’t blow your results, but how restrictive do you really have to be to lose weight? Probably less than you think: “Try to stay on track 80 percent of the time, and use the leftover 20 percent as a buffer zone in which you can deviate somewhat,” she says. So, if you have an off day, there’s no reason to stress about it—just jump back in to your 80 percent.

2. Scale creep doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve gained weight

Does your scale say you’ve gained more than a pound? That’s because daily weight fluctuations of up to three pounds are perfectly normal. “Weight fluctuations depend upon a variety of factors, including your level of hydration, the number of calories you consume, the physical activity you’ve done, how much sleep you’ve had, your level of stress, as well as monthly menstrual hormonal changes.” So, if you’re following a healthy eating plan and exercising, don’t freak out if your scale says you gained a few pounds since yesterday—those fluctuations will correct themselves over time.

3. Even small changes can make a big difference

You don’t have to overhaul your lifestyle to shed pounds. Setting realistic expectations is critical to reducing the intimidation that often comes with a weight-loss plan. “Small, doable, accessible steps are key to initiating the process—walk more, get rid of the junk food in your kitchen, pack your lunch, get to bed earlier.”