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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Weight Loss 101

Sometimes we start losing weight, but we never finish. We ditch another diet. We throw in the towel on our exercise efforts. Maybe it's from outside pressure; sometimes we aren't ready to lose weight. Whatever the cause, it is not at all uncommon.
That doesn't mean you're destined for failure. Even if you've started and stopped 100 times before, this time doesn't have to end the same way.

By putting some important skills to use, you will find it a little easier to stick to your weight loss efforts than if you rely on sheer will alone.

Skill One: Reward Yourself

One of the best ways to stay motivated throughout your weight loss journey is to reward yourself with non-food rewards that you will look forward to and enjoy. It can be something tangible (a new book) or something intangible (no less important), such as a lazy Saturday of watching movies in bed.

By marking a goal -- say, each five pound loss -- you will begin to correlate reaching your goals with a pleasurable experience. When simply seeing the scale numbers change loses its "buzz," that special treat will keep you going.

Skill Two: Track Your Progress and Portions

Whether you keep a spreadsheet on your computer or simply jot down your stats in a notebook, keeping an eye on your progress will keep you motivated. You can track your weight, measurements, or BMI -- it is up to you. By looking back at how far you've come, you're less likely to revert to old habits.

Additionally, if you keep careful records, you will be able to catch slip-ups in your calorie counting or exercise habits that, left unchecked, could cause a major plateau or weight gain.

Careful record-keeping includes closely monitoring portion sizes -- what many say is the most important long-term weight management key. Over-doing portions of even healthier foods can mean the difference between long-term weight loss success and eventual failure. Keeping a food diary is the best way to keep on top of what you're eating.

Skill Three: Master Emotional Eating

To achieve long-term weight loss success, you will have to come face-to-face with any emotional eating habits by asking some important questions: Do you overeat when you're angry? Do you splurge on an extra serving of dessert when you're feeling frustrated?

Being honest with yourself is the only way to get the true measure of your emotional eating triggers. Without facing them, you will always be less likely to be in control of your weight.

Skill Four: Prepare for the Pushers

There will always be people who encourage you to go off your diet "just this once." That's not really a problem until "this once" becomes time and time again. If every time you see someone you go off the rails at their suggestion, it may mean you need to distance yourself or have a serious talk with about your weight loss efforts.

Peer pressure doesn't end when you get older; it's ever-present if your friends and family correlate enjoying time with you to eating with you. Plan non-food activities with loved ones and work hard to resist temptation when you're in an environment where food is part of the festivities.

Skill Five: Remember, It's About Health, Too

In a Web poll, 65% of our site's visitors said they were losing weight for appearance's sake; only 35% said they were doing it for their health. To be honest, that surprised me quite a bit, considering how great an impact weight loss has on health and overall quality of life.

The thing is, your slimmer self will become your norm. The compliments about your weight loss will die down. Once you've worn that "new and improved" size for a while, the thrill of trying on the clothes in your new wardrobe will start to fade. Shopping outside a plus size store, if you're doing so for the first time, will be exciting only for so long (or until your credit cards are maxed out). So, if you ask me, it's not all about looks.

When motivation to stick to your new eating and exercise habits wanes, and a quick glance in the mirror doesn't do the trick, considering the many health risks of obesity probably will get you going. By maintaining a healthier weight, you are more likely to live a longer life with fewer medical problems. Wearing a smaller size is just the icing on the cake; a happier, healthier life is the ultimate reward.

Source: Health's Disease and Condition, Jennifer R. Scott

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tips On How To Lose The Last 10lbs

Why is it that losing the last 10 pounds is so difficult? For many people, the first 20 or 30 seemed to come off steadily, but now everything has slowed down and summer is almost here. It feels like no matter how religiously you stick with your program, that needle on the scale isn't moving -- at least not downward.

It is harder now partly because you already look and feel so much better, says Weight Watchers regional trainer Kelda Gavina. That may cause your motivation to slump. But it may also be that you are gaining muscle mass now, which is heavier than fat. Or that you are tired of denying yourself.

Dr. Michael Lyon, adjunct professor at the University of B.C. in the Food, Nutrition and Health Program, medical director of the Canadian Research Centre for Functional Medicine and co-author of Hunger Free Forever, says that when it comes to the last 10 pounds you have to adjust your lifestyle and your relationship with food so that you can sustain it throughout your life.

Using will power to control weight is like trying to hold your breath, he says. You can do it for a while, but then the brain takes over and demands you gulp.

Lyon warns that losing a last 10 pounds may not be what you really want.

"I'd rather see someone gain five pounds in muscle mass and lose five pounds in fat," he says.

Muscle mass raises your resting metabolism which helps you more efficiently burn -- rather than store -- calories.

Loss of muscle has proven to be as hard on your health as gaining fat. Gaining muscle is actually more important than aerobic exercise in the long run, experts say.

Here are 10 tips from three experts on how to shed those last lingering pounds.

1. Stabilize blood-sugar levels. Overweight or obese people tend to have highly fluctuating blood-sugar levels, resulting particularly from weight gain around the belly, Lyon says.

Excessively irregular blood sugar levels cause a domino effect of body changes beginning with the secretion of hormones that in turn promote insulin resistance and other phenomena that cause you feel sluggish and to eat more. The more you eat the more you want to eat, and the less you want to move.

Lyon suggests choosing foods that are low on the glycemic index, (55 or under) high in water-soluble fiber and high in protein.

2. Spoil your appetite before you get to the high-fat, high-calorie part of the meal. Have a bowl of vegetable soup or a salad (with dressing on the side to dip your fork into) before the main course. Says Lyon:

"You get an initial feeling of fullness and when you get to the rest of the meal, you will eat more slowly and not as much."

3. Eat a solid breakfast with adequate protein and a reasonable number of calories. People who skip breakfast tend to either eat a high-calorie snack later or they will themselves to wait until they are starving, and then pig out late in the day when they are the least active. If you skip breakfast, your metabolism rate drops and your body stores more calories as fat.

4. Get out the weights or the bands and do resistance training to build muscle mass. Muscle weighs more without looking like you've gained weight, and it burns more calories than fat does.

John Berardi, Ontario-based human performance and nutrition expert and the author of Gourmet Nutrition, says if you do the next three things on the list, you can burn an extra 400 calories a day. That is a whole meal.

5. Increase the intensity of your exercise. The exercise program you started with doesn't create the same metabolic challenge as your fitness improves.

You need to regularly up the intensity of your workout to continue to lose weight. Add 30 minutes to your run (or walk) every two weeks or bump up the intensity level on the cardio machine.

6. Eat fish oil. Fish oil has been shown to boost metabolism, improve fat burning and increase carbohydrate storage in muscle. Berardi typically recommends using about 6 to 12g of total fish oil per day or 3 to 6g of combined DHA+EPA.

7. Eat protein with each meal. Eating always sparks metabolism, but the rate we metabolize depends on the type of food we eat. If we eat fat, our metabolism increases by two to three per cent. Protein increases it by 30 per cent. Carbs by nine per cent.

8. Keep your eyes on the prize. The last 10 pounds are the hardest because you already feel so much better and fit into a smaller size, says Gavina. But originally you may have wanted to look good in a bikini. Remember that.

9. Have a support group of like-minded people. Especially when you are down to the last 10 pounds, people tend not to support you like they did for the first 90.

They tempt you or tell you how great you look. Meeting regularly with people who do support you can really help.

10. Be realistic. Losing those last 10 pounds might mean cutting out all the extras and becoming a bit obsessed with this one part of your life. Gavina lost 30 pounds 12 years ago and was willing to cut everything out for the last push.

She has since gained 10 pounds back, but she says she leads a more balanced life now and is content knowing her weight is still within a healthy range.