Tag Archives: weight loss

11 Foods To Help You Live Longer

senior-with-redwine-943080-mI am obsessed with living longer. I want to live to be over 100 years old. However, I also want to be a healthy centenarian.

I have been reading that more and more research shows what we eat can influence how long we live. What works for weight loss can also help slow the aging process. That’s because what you’re eating affects your waistline, the condition of your heart and even how long you live.

So, take a good look at your pantry and see if you’re eating for longevity. Here are 11 foods that science proves will help you live longer:

Green tea
The world’s second most popular beverage can reduce the risk of death by up to 26% if you consume several cups a day. In addition, it has the added benefits of reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Nuts
A study found that people who snack on a handful of nuts every day live longer than those who didn’t. Nuts are packed with cholesterol-free protein and other nutrients. Almonds have vitamin E, which protects the body from cell damage and boosts the immune system. Pecans have antioxidants and walnuts are good for your cholesterol.

Fish
Fish has been called brain food because it has fatty acids, DHA and EPA – all are important to brain and nervous system development. The Omega-3 fats found in seafood or fatty fish can lower cholesterol and triglycerides.

Berries
Berries are a great source of antioxidants. Blueberries, strawberries and acai berries are a source of polyphenols, a powerful compound that may help combat cancers and degenerative diseases of the brain. Cranberries may also help you live longer.

Fiber
Fiber may help lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol, prevent constipation and help digestion. Fiber also fills you up so that you can eat less. Beans are fiber-rich and can be eaten three or four times a week. Fruits and vegetables can also add fiber to your diet.

Vegetables
Veggies contain phytonutrients and loads of vitamins and minerals that may protect you from diseases. Dark, leafy greens have vitamin K that builds strong bones. Sweet potatoes and carrots contain vitamin A – good for your eyes, healthy skin and protects against infection. Tomatoes or tomato products may help prevent cancer.

Protein
Protein provides essential building blocks for daily repair of your cells. It’s critical to your health and vitality, especially as you get older. You can add protein to your diet with lean meat, fish, seafood, beans, low-fat dairy and eggs.

Healthy fats
You’ve probably heard about the Mediterranean diet. But what you may not know is the heart-healthy diet has been shown to increase the lifespan of elderly people by about 20 percent. The diet encourages eating healthy fats, like olive oil, as well as vegetables and whole grains.

Whole grains
Eating whole grains can reduce your risk of certain cancers, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Choose whole-grain breads and pastas, as well as brown or wild rice, instead of white options. Whole grains are less processed and retain more of the nutritional value. Whole grains also add fiber.

Dairy
Drinking vitamin D-fortified beverages like milk can help increase your calcium absorption. That’s important for bone health. Vitamin D also reduces the risk of colon, breast and prostate cancers. Eating yogurt can also give you the benefits of dairy and aid in digestion.

Red wine
Just a half a glass of wine a day can help you live longer. Research found that light wine drinkers lived up to five years longer than those who did not drink wine at all. Red wine is rich in antioxidants that help protect against heart disease.

Eat these super-foods to help increase your lifespan and improve your quality of life. By incorporating a balanced diet into your daily life, you can fight off some of today’s most life-threatening diseases and live longer!

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9 Myths and Facts About Weight Loss

scale-series-4-1077712-mFor all the information that’s available about dieting and exercise, we still have a lot of misconceptions about weight loss. Sometimes, the research and studies about weight loss even contradict each other.

I read a study that said you have to burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound. It has since been found that there are many variables that can affect weight loss, including age, weight, height, sex and body fat.

The biggest problem we have as Americans is that we want a quick fix and instant gratification. However, there is no magic way to lose weight and maintain it. The best results are achieved when you find balance in all areas of your life and achieve a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, eating right, reducing stress, getting plenty of sleep, breaking bad habits and setting goals for success.

Here are 9 myths about weight loss and the facts that will help you live a healthier lifestyle:

Myth: Snacking is always bad for you.
The idea that you shouldn’t eat between meals is a myth. The problem with snacking is that you may be making poor food choices. Grabbing something from a vending machine will most likely be a fattening treat. The fact is that snacking between meals may actually help you eat less. The key is to eat nutritious foods – such as a moderate amount of fruits, vegetables, nuts or yogurt. Snacking can also keep you from overeating because you won’t feel like you’re starving when you finally eat a meal.

Myth: The secret to weight loss is removing one type of food from your diet.
Any diet plan that removes a specific food – or requires that you to focus on one type of food – will fail in the long run. You may have tried to cut fat, carbs, dairy or gluten. You may lose weight initially because you are eating fewer calories, but eventually you will replace it with something else. The key is to eat a balanced diet of all sorts of healthy foods.

Myth: Eat breakfast to lose weight.
This myth isn’t completely black and white. While I do believe that breakfast helps jump start your metabolism and allows you to begin the day feeling full and satisfied, it depends on what you eat. A bowl of oatmeal with fruit and a piece of whole-wheat toast will satisfy your hunger without loading on calories. A full breakfast of eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast and orange juice will jump up your daily calorie intake.

Myth: Everyone gains and loses weight the same way.
Studies of twins have shown that people gain and lose weight in different ways. Some people gain weight more easily than others, while some must work harder than the average person to burn it off. Try not to compare your weight loss efforts and success to someone else. Each person should set his or her own expectations and plans for losing weight.

Myth: All carbs are bad.
While eliminating all bread won’t help you magically shed weight, changing the type of bread you eat may help. There are good carbs and bad carbs. While all bread is high in calories, white bread doesn’t offer much nutrition. Whole-grain bread is high in fiber and provides more nutritional value. You can also enjoy the carbs found in fruits, vegetables, beans and other whole grains.

Myth: No more fast food.
You can still eat fast food and lose weight. It’s about portion control and making healthy choices. You can get a salad, grilled chicken, whole grain tacos or flat bread. Ask for sauces or dressings on the side, or scrape them off as much as you can.

Myth: Eating fat makes you fat.
Once again, it comes down to the type of fat. Some fat is actually food for you. Animal fat and saturated fat have been linked to weight gain and health problems, such as heart disease and high cholesterol. On the other hand, monounsaturated fats, like olive oil, have been found to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

Myth: Don’t eat before bed.
It’s not eating before bed that is an issue – it’s what you eat before bed that may cause a problem. We tend to grab unhealthy snacks, like cookies, cake, ice cream or movie theater butter popcorn late at night. It comes down to how many calories you eat each day. Snacking before bed is fine if you make healthy, low calorie choices.

Myth: Just exercise and you’ll shed pounds.
Cutting calories by adjusting what you eat is the best way to lose weight. However, many of us think that because we exercise we can eat whatever we want. In addition, exercising may make you more hungry and then you eat more. Exercise alone won’t make you drop pounds. Keep in mind that drinking a can of soda can be 140 calories. It takes 30 minutes of moderate walking to burn it off. The best option is a healthy, lower calorie diet with regular aerobic exercise, strength training and stretching.

When it comes to diet and exercise, the one thing you can count on is new weight loss schemes coming out every day. The secret to losing weight and maintaining it is finding the right balance between exercise and healthy eating that works for you!

10 holiday diet mistakes to avoid

Eat healthy balanced diet during holidaysI am feeling pretty guilty after attending many scrumptious feasts over the Thanksgiving holiday. I ate a little bit of everything and then had some more.

Like many Americans, I am now in panic mode as Christmas and New Year’s approach. These holidays bring more opportunities to overeat and make poor food choices. Not to mention, I will meet up with friends and relatives I don’t see very often, and I want to look my best.

At times like this, many of us turn to diets and less than healthy eating habits in hopes of looking and feeling better by the next round of holiday gatherings.

Here are 10 diet habits you should avoid and tips on what you should do instead:

Skipping breakfast
While skipping breakfast seems like a good way to cut calories, it can sabotage the rest of your day. Eating a healthy, filling breakfast that is high in fiber and protein can help you feel more full throughout the day. Studies show that breakfast can jump-start your metabolism and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Ignoring food groups
Different diet plans call for avoiding different types of foods. The latest fad may mean leaving out gluten, carbs, meat, dairy, sugar or fats. Yet, we need all of these nutrients for a balanced diet and for our bodies to work properly. Even dairy may help our bodies burn more fat by supplying calcium.

Forgetting about snacks
We often consider snacking a bad habit, but eating healthy, nutritious snacks actually helps  control hunger and aids in weight loss. Snacking on a handful of nuts, a cup of yogurt or some veggies can keep you on track and make those bad choices less appealing.

On the other hand, too much nibbling can be detrimental to your good eating habits. You grab a pastry and iced coffee at the morning meeting. You snack on pretzels at your desk. You finish your child’s chocolate shake. All of these extra calories can add up throughout the day.

Drinking diet sodas
It can be tempting to fill up on diet sodas. The fizzy drinks make you feel full and can taste good, too. Diet sodas may actually be sabotaging your weight loss. It has been found that artificial sweeteners may be linked to weight gain.

The answer: drink more water. Water is essential for burning calories. If you become dehydrated, your metabolism slows down. When you drink eight or more glasses of water a day, you burn more calories.

Starving yourself
When people want to lose weight fast, they tend to think that eating less will get the best results. By drastically reducing your calorie intake, you actually send your body into starvation mode, and it starts storing fat to get you through the lean times. A better approach is to make a modest cut to calorie intake and then maintain that level for a long period of time.

Cutting out the fat
It isn’t so much the fat we eat that causes weight gain as much as it’s the total amount of calories and bad fats that lead to health problems. We need to cut down on the trans and saturated fats found in meat and processed foods. We still need to include good fats in our diets, such as those found in olive oil and fatty foods.

Thinking good calories don’t count
We think because some foods are good for us, we can eat as much as we want. However, you still need to keep your total calorie intake in mind. Just because whole grains, beans, chicken and cheese are good for you, doesn’t mean you should eat 10 tacos in one meal. Even fruits and veggies eaten in excess can be converted to fat.

Leaving out exercise
When we get busy with preparing for the holidays, it may be easier to drop your exercise routine so that you can fit more into your busy days. Yet, if you keep up your exercise routine, you can eat more of the things you enjoy and still lose weight. Exercise can also help you relieve the stress brought on by the hectic holiday season.

Setting unrealistic goals
Deciding you want to lose 30 pounds between now and Christmas is probably unrealistic. You need to set a more realistic goal, such as planning to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. You should also set other goals, such as running a mile without stopping or swimming a certain amount of laps in the pool. You will feel pride and accomplishment without relying solely on weight loss.

Using a diet at all
For the most part, I feel like “diet” is a bit of a four-letter word. Any time you are being deprived of food, you are more likely to fail in your eating habits. It’s more important to change your lifestyle and create a balance among all of the aspects of living a healthy life. You need to make healthy eating, exercising, getting enough sleep and relieving stress into habits that you can live with every day.

How to rev up your metabolism

Rev up your metabolismYou probably know someone who eats constantly, yet never seems to gain any weight. Metabolism – and good genes – may be part of the reason. In fact, one of the key factors in losing weight is your rate of metabolism.

The good news is you may not be stuck with your metabolism. More research is showing that you can get your body to burn calories more efficiently.

We recently wrote a blog about how to lose weight safely and effectively. You may be able to take more control of your weight loss and rev up your metabolism by adding some of these boosters to your routine:

Eat breakfast
You’ve gone all night without eating, so having breakfast first thing in the morning will kick start your metabolism for the day. Studies have found that regularly skipping breakfast puts you at a much higher risk of obesity. And, the heartier your first meal, the better. So, eat a good breakfast.

Kick it up a notch
The next time you exercise, ramp up your workout and mix up your frequency or intensity. For instance, if you’re running or swimming, change up the pace and push yourself harder for 30 to 60 seconds and then go back to the original speed. If you’re on a treadmill, mix in inclines while you’re running or walking. By doing this, you will use more oxygen which makes your body work harder to burn energy.

Build muscle
When your body has more muscle, you will have a more efficient metabolism. Each pound of muscle burns about 6 calories a day while a pound of fat burns only 2 calories a day. If you strength train on a regular basis, you can increase your resting metabolism by 100 calories a day. You can keep your metabolism revved up even on the days you aren’t able to fit in exercise.

Drink green tea
Green tea is often touted for having many health benefits. You can add increasing your metabolism to the list. Brewed green tea contains a plant compound called ECGC, which promotes fat burning. According to studies, two to four cups of green tea per day may burn an extra 50 calories.

Eat those calories
In other words, don’t diet. If you drastically cut your calorie intake, you will send your body into starvation mode. You actually slow down your metabolism, and your body starts storing more fat because it thinks it’s starving. You also start burning muscle, which – as we mentioned earlier – is a vital part of your metabolic levels.

Go ahead and snack
To help keep your metabolism chugging along, eat more often. That doesn’t mean eat more. Have small meals or snacks every 3 or 4 hours. Your body will burn energy at a steady rate. If you eat large meals or skip meals, your metabolism will jump up and down and won’t burn calories as efficiently.

Drink more water
You need water to burn calories. Drinking 8 or more glasses of water a day can help you use more energy. If you add ice and make it cold water instead of room temperature, it may boost your metabolism even more.

Spice it up
Spicy foods that contain the chemical compound capsaicin can help kick your metabolism up a notch. Eating about a tablespoon of red or green chili peppers can boost your metabolic rate. You can spice up chili, soups or pasta dishes with red pepper flakes.

Add in protein
Your body burns up to twice as many calories digesting protein as it does when you digest carbohydrates or fat. Don’t eliminate carbs and fats entirely, but be sure to add in lean, protein-rich foods.

Go to bed
Studies have shown that getting a good night’s rest can help you keep from putting on extra visceral fat. Getting less sleep than you should throws off the hormones that regulate your appetite and metabolism. There are many reasons to get plenty of sleep, including helping you keep off the weight.

Boosting your metabolism can help you lose weight or maintain your current weight. Do you have tips for revving up your metabolism?

How to lose weight safely and effectively

How to lose weight safely and effectivelyEveryone wants to know the secret to weight loss. Well, I’ll tell you. The secret is changing your habits. It’s that simple. There are no fad diets or magic pills that will allow you to safely and effectively lose weight and keep it off.

The key to successful and healthy weight loss is balance. It’s about balancing the energy – or food – you take in with the amount of energy you burn. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight.

You can also help balance the scales by exercising to burn off extra calories. I like to eat. I especially enjoy snacks that may not be the best choices. I know that they come at a price. I will need to put in extra time exercising to burn off those added calories.

Here are some tips to help you find balance and lose weight the safe way:

Forget about short cuts
For many of us, it really is a matter of changing our mindset. There is no easy solution to losing weight and keeping it off. There are no shortcuts. It takes consistency. It means eating a healthy diet and exercising for the rest of our lives. Once you change your outlook, you’ll realize that finding a healthy balance is the only way to achieve long-term success.

Reduce your calories
To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you are taking in. However, don’t cut your daily calorie intake below 1,200 for women and 1,500 for men. While you may lose weight more rapidly at first, it will eventually backfire on you. Your body will go into starvation mode and slow down your metabolism. You may also become deficient in important vitamins and minerals.

Eat more fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are lower in calories than most meats, snack foods and pre-packaged foods. By eating fresh fruits and veggies, you will be less inclined to eat those unhealthy foods, and you will be able to reduce your calorie intake.

Chose whole grains
Whole-grain cereals, breads and pastas are much more healthy for you than processed foods. They contain fewer empty calories. Whole grains also add fiber to your diet which is good for your cholesterol, blood pressure and digestion.

Consume fats
You can eat fats, but it should be the right type. Saturated and trans fats can contribute to weight gain and should be left out of your diet. These fats are found in fried foods, potato chips and snack foods. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are healthy fats that can help you lose weight. These good fats are found in olive oil, salmon, nuts and avocados.

Add snacks
It’s okay to snack. You can eat three smaller meals a day and add in regular healthy snacks to keep you from getting hungry and making poor food choices. Eating at more regular intervals actually helps keep your metabolism working steadily so that you burn calories more efficiently.

Go with water
Drinking empty calories just adds to your daily caloric intake. If you avoid sodas, juices, sports drinks, and any sweetened beverages, you have more calories you can use for healthy, filling foods. Drink water, skim-milk or flavored waters with natural sweeteners to avoid adding unnecessary calories.

Get more exercise
Like we mentioned earlier, you can burn off more calories with exercise. It’s recommended to get 30 to 60 minutes a day to promote weight loss. Try to find activities you enjoy doing. I don’t like to run, so I don’t have much success when I try to start an exercise routine that focuses on running. I do like to play sports, such as volleyball and softball. I also like to bike, walk and do aerobics in the swimming pool. By finding ways to exercise that you find fun, you are more likely to keep at it.

Build muscle
Building muscles can help you burn more calories because muscle burns more than fat. Start lifting weights or doing other strength training exercises. You’ll not only become more toned and fit, you’ll also increase your metabolism and lose more weight.

Work in cardio
Make sure you are getting your heart rate up when you exercise. The simplest way to get the heart pumping is to run. However, you can also do a cycling class, swim, take a Zumba or kickboxing class, or play tennis. Giving your heart a workout helps you burn calories and lose weight.

Mix it up
One of the keys to maintaining a successful exercise routine is to continue to mix things up. Doing the same thing over and over can get monotonous. Add in new types of exercise. You may also be able to modify your routine based on the season. For example, go ice skating in the winter and rollerblading in the summer. Play tennis when it’s nice outdoors and racquetball on cold or rainy days. Try new things and mix it up!

I know we all wish there were an easy way to lose weight and keep it off. It comes down to balancing a healthy diet with plenty of exercise. Do you have any tips to help others lose weight safely and effectively?

7 tips for healthier eating habits

healthier eating habitsAny time I hear someone say, “I’m on a diet,” I want to cringe. To me, “dieting” is almost a dirty word.

Dieting generally has a negative connotation because it conjures up ideas of fad diets and unhealthy weight loss. Going on a diet means you are temporarily depriving yourself of some type of food. A diet is not something you sustain over time.

When you go on fad diets, you are typically leaving out necessary nutrients. Dieting can make your body think it’s starving, and it actually starts to store fat. You can also become food obsessed – worrying about counting calories, carbs, proteins or fat. When taken to the extreme, dieting may be doing harm to your body and putting you at risk for illness.

The best diet is not a “diet” at all but a way of life that lets you eat the nutritious foods your body needs to thrive. By creating healthy eating habits, you can lose weight, tone up, feel better and have more energy. It may mean changing your mindset from dieting to eating a healthier, more balanced variety of foods.

Here are some tips to help you develop healthier eating habits and stick to it:

Tip 1: Start slowly
It can be overwhelming to think about overhauling all your eating habits at once. Trying to change everything at once can be hard and often leads to cheating or simply giving up. Start by adding a salad once a day. Or, make it a point to cut down on fried foods.

Tip 2: Think smaller
A key foundation for eating healthier is portion control. Over the past few decades, serving sizes have grown to huge amounts. One way to reduce your portions is to switch out your dinner plates for smaller plates. Think about moderation as you fill your plate. It can be especially hard to eat a normal-sized portion in a restaurant. Choose a starter or an appetizer instead of an entrée. Or, split a large main dish with a friend.

Tip 3: Eat your fiber
You can eat plenty of high-fiber foods – this means fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. These are “good” carbs and are nutritious, as well as help fill you up. They are also relatively low in calories. These foods can provide important vitamins and minerals.

Tip 4: Everything in moderation
Well, mostly limit the bad things. We all know what they are – unfortunately most of them taste really good! Limit your intake of sugary foods, refined grains like white bread and salty snacks. In addition, cut down on trans fat, which comes from hydrogenated vegetable oils and many fast foods. It’s also important to cut down on animal fat. It is high in saturated fat. Cutting down on fats may even help you lower your cholesterol. Also, if you drink alcohol, it should be done in moderation.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have a cookie, slice of cake or some potato chips. It just means to eat these things in moderation.

Tip 5: Add more fruits and vegetables
Most Americans are not eating enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. You should be eating 5 servings or more a day. Try to add more color in your fruits and vegetables – include greens, oranges and yellows, as well as purples, blues and reds.

Tip 6: Take your time
Slow down and think of food as nourishment, rather than something you eat between meetings or grab on the go. Sit down and eat at the table. If you eat in front of the TV or computer, you aren’t thinking about how much food you are actually consuming. Eating with others leads to conversation and helps you take breaks as you eat. Also, if you eat more slowly, your body will tell you when you’re full.

Tip 7: Keep it all in balance
The best tip for healthy eating is to keep it all in balance. Eat a wide variety of foods and think about smaller portion sizes. Try to add more fruits and vegetables to your plate.

And remember to take small step and make changes to your eating habits over time. The next thing you know you’ll be eating healthier and feeling better!