Wednesday, December 12, 2012

10 Tips to Boost Your Metabolism

It's definitely a fact that when you speed up metabolism you can potentially burn more fat. It is the ultimate goal of weight watchers, and how fast your body burns calories really depends on a number of factors. Some people are lucky to inherit a speedy metabolism. Women tend to burn less calories than men, believe it or not even while resting.

Generally for most people, metabolism will significantly slow down after the age of 40. We all wish we could control the hands of time or age and genetics but we can't. There are other ways to increase metabolism. Here is 10 ways I found to boost metabolism.

Top 10 Tips to Boost Metabolism

1. Get Ripped- Building muscle is the ticket to an increased metabolism. Our bodies constantly get rid of fat, even when we’re doing nothing. This relaxing fat burning capacity is much higher in individuals with more muscle. Each pound of muscle uses about 6 calories a day just to support itself, while each pound of fat burns only 2 calories daily. That little difference can accumulate over time. In addition, after a round of resistance training, muscles are stimulated all over your body, increasing your average daily fat burning capacity.

2. Step Up Your Workout- You may not build big muscles with an aerobic exercise regimen, but it can rev up your metabolism for several hours after a workout. The key is to press yourself. A high intensity work out delivers a greater, longer increase in relaxing fat burning capacity rather than low to moderate intensity workouts. To get the advantages, try a more intense class at the gym or include brief bursts of jogging during your regular walk.

3. Fuel Up with Water- Our body demands water to process calorie consumption. If you are even mildly dehydrated, your metabolism may slow down. In one study, adults who consumed eight or more glasses of water a day burned more calories than those who consumed four. Drink plenty of water, tea or any other favorite unsweetened beverage before every meal or snack. In addition, try eating fresh fruits and veggies, which are full of liquid, rather than chips.

4. Veggie or Fruit Smoothies- Some fresh fruits and vegetables produce energy and can give your fat burning capacity an increase. Many individuals use energy drinks as their form of energy however I do not recommend energy drinks. They have been linked to 13 deaths recently. I recommend you create your very own smoothie recipe box! Use fresh fruits and veggies that increase your metabolism and help you get rid of fat. Guess what, you will be energizing your body in the most healthy way possible.

5. Guilt Free Snacking- I know you've seen many experts say for you to eat more if you want to lose weight and guess what that's right! Eating more really can help you shed body weight, that is eating more often. When you eat large meals with a lot of time in between, your metabolism decelerates. Having a little food or a snack every 3 to 4 hours will speed up your metabolism so you burn up more calories over the course of a day. Several studies have also shown that individuals who eat healthy snacks throughout the day eat less at meal time.

6. Liven Up Your Meals- Spicy foods contain chemical compounds that can boost the fat burning capacity into high gear. Consuming a tablespoon of chopped red or green chili can increase your metabolic rate. The effect is most likely temporary, but if you eat spicy foods often, the advantages may accumulate. For a quick boost to your metabolism, spice up your meals with red-pepper flakes. This adds a kick to your meal and helps you get your metabolism in high gear!

7. Boost Up with Protein- Our body will burn a lot more calories digesting protein as it uses for fat or carbohydrates. Although you want to eat a balanced diet, replacing some carbs with lean, protein-rich foods can boost the metabolism at mealtime. Some healthy sources of protein include lean beef, turkey, fish, white meat chicken, tofu, nuts, beans, eggs, and low-fat dairy products. You'll notice that I use tofu often in my "recipe of the day". I love tofu because it's healthy and filling too.

8. Booster Shot- If you're a coffee drinker, you will enjoy the increased energy and focus that follows your morning cup. Taken in small amounts, one of coffee's advantages may be a brief increase in your metabolism.

9. Recharge with Tea- Drinking green or any other unsweetened teas offers the advantages of caffeine and catechin. Both substances have shown to ramp up metabolism for a couple hours. Studies suggest that drinking two to four cups of tea may propel your metabolism to get rid of 17% more calories than normal during a moderately extreme work out.

10. Avoid Crash Diets- Are you a Yo-Yo dieter? Don't be a Yo-Yo! Diets involving eating less than 1,000 calories per day are disastrous for anyone hoping to quickly lose weight or increase their metabolism. Although these diet plans may help you drop pounds (at the expense of good nutrition), a significant number of the loss comes from muscle. A good rule to remember is the lower the muscle mass, the slower your metabolism. The final result is your body will burn less calories (and gains body weight faster)than before you went on the diet.

The affect of various foods and beverages on the metabolism is small compared to what you need to maintain a healthy weight. Your best bet for creating a calorie burning machine is to get ripped, stay active and eat healthy. The more you move during the day, the more calories you will burn. One thing to remember is working out in the morning has the benefit of speeding up your metabolism at the start of your day.

For more information on metabolism check out this video! Be informed so you can make good decisions about your health.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Skin Health- 7 Tips for Psoriasis Skin Care

Hey it's me the health nut! Today I want to talk about a very common skin problem "Psoriasis". Many suffer from this skin problem. Do you know what psoriasis is? Well, I'll give you a brief description and then some great tips for skin care for you or someone you love that suffers from psoriasis. 

This skin problem can be a miserable condition. It's an autoimmune disease which appears as red or silver patches of scaly, itchy, and inflamed skin. These patches are called "plaques" and generally are seen on elbows, knees, hands, feet, scalp and back. The fingernails and toenails become pitted discovered in over half of the psoriasis cases and some people develop "psoriatic arthritis", which causes pain, swelling and stiffness around the joints according to the American Academy of Dermatology

What is the cause of Psoriasis?

By now your asking yourself what causes this irritating condition. It's cause appears like a skin problem but it's due to our immune system. Our skin cells are being formed deep below the surface of our skin. The process of the cells flaking off and making way for new skin cells normally takes about a month. If you have psoriasis, this process takes days therefore; skin layers build up which is what forms a crust. Blood vessels will rush to save the day in fighting the problem which in turn causes the redness and swelling. If you think you have psoriasis click here to find out more about psoriasis.

What are the symptoms of Psoriasis?
Do You Itch?

The symptoms of psoriasis can be from a mild to debilitating severity. It can really cause so many other health and emotional issues. The itchy area is aggravating but the emotional affects of psoriasis have been found to be worse than the physical for some people. In many people, psoriasis causes depression and their self confidence is at a low due to the appearance of the skin. They will feel isolated as well. I had a coworker at one point in my career that had psoriasis really bad on his elbows.

Well now for the moment you've been waiting for, here are the 7 tips for skin care if you have psoriasis:
  • Moisturize- In order to keep your skin moist you have to moisturize and can't forget. It will soothe and help relieve the symptoms of psoriasis. Moisture can help heal this condition as well. Check out this great and inexpensive product that does work.  Psoriasin Multi-Symptom Psoriasis Relief Ointment, Intensive Moisturizing, 4 Ounces (Pack of 2)
  • Bath Daily- I know this seems like something I don't need to say but there are people that don't bath daily. It is pertinent with psoriasis that you bath daily using a mild soap. This will help remove the dry skin and soothe the itch. 
  • Reduce Stress- Stress can cause or irritate many conditions and illnesses. We should always try to stay calm, look for solutions to the issues that cause stress in your life. 
  • Sunlight- Believe it or not UV light will help psoriasis. It helps heal the lesions and it soothes the skin. A practice of using UV light for skin problems has been a common treatment for acne. 
  • Smoking and drinking- Two things we should all avoid. Smoking has been known to aggravate psoriasis and increase the risk of a flare up. As well as drinking plus it can also make some medications used to control psoriasis less effective. 
  • Avoid harsh chemicals or textures- You should avoid rough or heavily textured clothing that can be scratchy against the skin. This will irritate psoriasis and cause more redness or swelling. Also very important to note that harsh chemicals in some detergent, soaps and products that contain alcohol.
  • Stop scratching and picking- This is very difficult given the nature of psoriasis. You will have a terrible itch so scratching is the natural reaction. So many that have psoriasis end up picking the area infected. It seems as though manually removing the scaly skin or lesions will help but it really doesn't and the area can easily become infected.  
Well there you have it! Your daily dose of health to help you get healthy and stay that way. Check back tomorrow...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Skin Health- 8 Home Treatments for Shingles

What is Shingles?
Do you or someone you love have shingles? I have heard of shingles of course as a health nut but had never seen the effects of the illness. It wasn't until one of my relatives and a close friend were diagnosed with shingles that I learned some interesting facts about this horrible virus.

Shingles is an extremely painful skin rash. It is mostly common in adults over the age of 50 and people that have weak immune systems. The actual cause is "varicella zoster virus" which comes out in the form of "chickenpox" originally. Once your bout with the chickenpox is over you feel as if you've been cured. But guess what, this virus intends on hanging around perhaps for years or forever and may never become active again. However, it "sleeps" or stays in a dormant stage in your nerve roots whether it becomes active or not it's there. Imagine that living inside of you until it wants to come back.

For some people, the virus will stay dormant forever. However, unfortunately for some people the virus becomes active again when disease, stress or aging weakens the immune system. If the symptoms continue for long periods of time it is considered "postherpetic neuralgia". I've seen this stage of shingles once and it was horrible.

There are some cases documented where some medications can "wake up" the virus and cause the shingles rash. One characteristic of shingles you must understand is that once the virus becomes active again, it can only cause shingles not another fight with chickenpox. It's really not clear why this occurs with some medications and why the virus will become active again only in the form of shingles. 

There is a distinct difference in chickenpox and shingles which is that you can't catch shingles from someone infected however you can catch chickenpox. There have been some incidents where shingles was spread to another person who hadn't had chickenpox and hadn't had the chickenpox vaccine.

What are the symptoms?

Now that you know a little more about this painful virus, let's talk about the symptoms. There are several distinct symptoms and patterns to shingles. In the initial stage you may have a headache, sensitivity to light and feel like you have the flu without a fever. 

OMG this itch!
op in the area a few days later. The rash will then turn into clusters of blisters in the same area of the previous symptoms. The blisters will fill with fluid like water blisters and then crust over. The blisters will take from 2-4 weeks to heal but they may leave scars. There are some people that get a mild rash and some don't get a rash at all.

You can also feel dizzy, weak & can have pain or the rash for a long time. An interesting symptom is that it can affect how well you think! It's amazing how this virus can actually affect your thought process or brain. The rash can spread to other parts of your body as well.

How is Shingles Treated? 

The main treatment of choice is medication, antiviral medicines and medicines for pain. Remember to always see your physician for any medical problems you may be having. Once your physician confirms you have shingles a treatment plan can be developed for you. I would like to give you the top 8 home treatments that may reduce the amount of time the shingles is active and pain. 
  • Don't pick or scratch the blisters. They itch so you may want to scratch but it will only disrupt the virus and healing process.
  • Use cool, moist compresses. This helps cool the area because with the shingles rash you will feel some heat in the area of the outbreak.
  • An old remedy used back in the day for many skin problems is cornstarch or baking soda. In fact, a friend of mine uses baking soda for cold         sores and it clears it up almost overnight! You will want to apply the baking soda or cornstarch after you've applied a wet compress.
  • Soak the crusted sores in tap water or Burow's solution. This will clean away the crusts, decrease the oozing, dry and soothe the skin.
  • Topical creams can be used to relieve the inflammation. Ask your doctor before applying any topical creams.
  • If your skin becomes infected, you will need to alert your physician and ask about prescription antibiotic creams or ointments.
  • Use medicines prescribed by your physician for shingles or postherpetic neuralgia correctly and consistently.
  • Shingles is very painful so use of nonprescription pain relievers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen will help during a shingles attack.

Well there you have it! This is one skin problem I hope you know a little more about and it may help you detect a possible issue you may be having. In conclusion; you must go to your physician if you have any of the symptoms and determine if in fact you have shingles as early as possible.

Stay tuned tomorrow for another skin problem. I'm focusing on skin problems this week. As my previous post revealed that "skin" is the largest organ in our body! Being healthy does include your skin. Hope this article helped you understand what shingles is and some top home treatments to help you in your fight for relief from shingles symptoms. For more information regarding shingles click here.

To find out how you can turn back the hands of time and get healthy skin, click here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

How Healthy is your Skin?

We all get our annual physical but do you get an annual check up on your skin? Did you know that your skin is the largest organ in your body. Yep, you heard right! Your skin is around 20 square feet in size. Most people don't think of their skin as an organ let alone the largest organ. 
Skin is extremely important to our health and should not be ignored. There are 3 main functions of the skin and they are as follows:
  • Protects us from microbial and elements in our environment.
  • Regulates our temperature 
  • Sensory by touch, heat and cold.
Our skin is so important and complicated that my hat is off to my dermatologist! There are 3 layers to this big organ and they're as follows:
  • Epidermis is the layer that we see, the outermost layer of the skin. It's our protector of water, a barrier plus it gives us our skin tone.
  • Dermis is the layer beneath the epidermis. It's made up of tough connective tissue, hair follicles, and our sweat glands.
  • Hypodermis is the deepest layer, it consists of fat and more connective tissue.
Our skin gives us beautiful skin tone and I'm sure you know where this tone comes from but for those that don't know it's called "melanin". Melanin is created by special cells called melanocytes. These special cells produce pigment melanin which is the color or tone. The melanocytes are located in the epidermis, the layer of skin we see. Skin if not taken care of can cause health problems. There are many skin conditions however, I would like to share the top 3 simplest and most common conditions along with their description.

Rash- Almost any change in the skin's appearance can be considered a rash.  Rashes are from simple skin irritation; while others result from medical conditions. 
Dermatitis- An inflammation of the skin. A common form of Dermatitis is a condition so many have which is eczema.    

Psoriasis- A skin condition which many suffer from and causes a variety of skin rashes. The most common form of Psoriasis is silver, scaly plaques on the skin surface.  

These are just 3 of 22 skin conditions I have on my list. So in conclusion; take care of your skin! Utilize multivitamins and eat healthy in order to keep your skin in great shape.

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

5 Top Pain-Relieving Exercises for Arthritis

Now I must say before starting any exercise plan you should always consult with your physician. Your physician will know what is best for you and your specific arthritis symptoms. With that being said let's get started...

When you suffer from arthritis pain it sometimes can be difficult just to get up out of your chair or use your hands, so it's no surprise that you would be more likely to just not do anything. However, moving your body is exactly what you really need. Exercise is actually the best medicine for your arthritis pain relief. I know it's hard to believe but exercise can decrease your pain, especially those that are suffering from osteoarthritis which is the most common type of arthritis stated in many medical journals & publications. 

It's a fact that exercise such as walking is as effective in reducing knee pain as drugs used to relieve this type of pain such as naproxen (Aleve) or ibuprofen (Advil). For me, Yoga, Tai Chi and walking gave me more relief than any drugs prescribed to relieve me of my pain.

I can confirm that exercise works because I suffer from osteoarthritis and severe knee pain. When you workout regularly it also may prevent the arthritis you have from getting worse over time. When you're physically active you will have a higher quality of life and find you're less likely to become disabled or have days with a lot of pain! Now that I have your attention and you may be more motivated to get up and exercise, do you need another reason to get up and get moving? Well, obesity can increase your risk of arthritis and make your symptoms worse.

Your workout should be challenging, but not painful enough to cause you injury. If you have a joint or muscle pain that lasts longer than a couple of hours after you've exercised or if the pain gets worse over a course of several days, you've probably over exercised! At this point, you want to shorten your workout or do the exercise at less of an impact. Most workout programs have a "low impact" version of all the exercises in the program.
So, you're probably asking what exercises should you do? It's important that you move your joints but you don't want to aggravate your symptoms. Here are the 5 exercises that I found to help me the most in relieving my arthritis pain and improved my quality of life physically.

1. Walking- This type of exercise strengthens your muscles, which helps when pressure shifted from your joints, and reduces pain. It also compresses and releases cartilage in your knees, bringing nourishing oxygen to your joints. It's my recommendation to try walking 10-12 minutes at least 3-5 days per week. You can always increase your walks and add short bursts of speed into a moderate pace to build up your workout. Keep in mind, people with severe hip or knee problems should check with their doctor before starting a walking program.

2. Water Exercise- It has been found that warm water (83-90 degrees) will help relax your muscles and decrease pain. Exercises involving swimming, aerobics, walking and jogging in water is a great way to relieve stiff, sore joints and is of lower impact as well. Working out in water has other benefits such as relieving stress on your hips, knees and spine plus it offers you a workout with resistance but without the use of weights. This form of exercise is ideal for those of you that have severe arthritis pain in your hips and knees. This is the exercise program I started with first due to my severe knee pain. Water is stated to provide 12 times the resistance of air, so you will really be strengthening and building muscle with this type of workout!

3. Yoga- Uses simple, gentle movements that gradually build strength, balance and flexibility. Yoga is especially beneficial for people with arthritis. It can also reduce inflammation, increase your energy, promote a positive mental outlook which will help you cope with arthritis. Be sure to let the Yoga instructor know that you have arthritis so the poses can be modified to accommodate you. If your more comfortable exercising at home there are many companies and instructors that have Yoga videos or books. Remember that if you feel pain in a pose, you're probably overdoing it!

4. Tai Chi- Is a traditional style of Chinese martial arts that goes back to ancient times. It incorporates slow, rhythmic movements to induce mental relaxation and improves balance, strength and flexibility. Tai Chi is extremely valuable to arthritis patients because its movements are slow, controlled and low impact. Tai Chi like Yoga improves mental well-being, life satisfaction and your perception of health, which can help you with the negative effects of chronic pain. There are particular benefits for those that suffer from knee pain. It has been found in major studies that Chinese workouts can improve physical function and reduce pain in patients over 65 years old with knee osteoarthritis. There are many books and courses in this ancient Chinese workout however, the Arthritis Foundation offers a 12-Step Tai Chi course. Keep in mind that it's always best to workout when you have the least pain and stiffness so, often Tai Chi is done in the morning.

5. Indoor Cycling- Is an excellent way to get a cardio workout without stressing weight-bearing joints. Investing in a good stationary bike is also a good option for people that have balance problems which is common among inactive people with arthritis. Try not to pedal faster than 40-50 revolutions per minute and add resistance only after you've warmed up for about 5 minutes. You should never add too much resistance which causes you to have trouble pedaling. A good place to start with cycling is to start a 5 minute session at a comfortable pace 3 times per day. When you get to the point where you're cycling pain-free, increase your workout to 7 minutes and continue to ramp up until you hit the 20 minute mark. Those of you that have severe pain in your knees should avoid indoor cycling because it can aggravate the condition. Remember to "listen" to your body and what it's telling you.

I hope this article has helped you and please remember to always consult with your physician before starting any exercise plan. Your physician can also prescribe medications to relieve arthritis pain and swelling so you can workout.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

How Do You Prevent the Mid-Life Bulge?

The key to reducing the weight gain as we get older is the following; mind, mouth, muscle. For example; if your life is full of stress, you will have a problem. You may respond to stress by making poor lifestyle choices, such as not eating healthy and not exercising enough. Look at your nutrition -- in terms of quality, quantity, and frequency of eating.

Quality is all about eating whole foods, fruits, and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein. Besides fluctuating hormone levels, your metabolism begins to slow down. This means it takes more work to burn the calories you consume. Another problem is that most adults lose between 30 and 50 percent of muscle each year. The smaller your muscles are, the fewer the calories you are able to burn.

Weight gain during your mid-life is also a danger to your health as it increases your risks for a range of serious medical conditions from diabetes to heart disease to Alzheimer's disease. Despite these possible setbacks to maintaining a healthy weight as you age, it is very important to prevent those extra pounds. There are four main reasons why people gain weight during their 40s and 50s and they are as follows:

1. Hormones
2. Overeating
3. Lack of exercise
4. Stress

Though it would be easy to blame weight gain on changing hormones, research has shown that hormones are responsible for only two to five extra pounds. This means that you can't blame on any one of the four reasons stated, you have to blame it on the combination of all four reasons. Therefore, you must work on all four causes in order to prevent the inevitable!

To keep working your muscles as you get older, I would recommend pairing regular cardio sessions (such as walking or biking) with strength-training exercises. You can work out with weights or doing yoga can help prevent the loss of lean muscle mass, which slows your metabolism. When you step up your fitness routine, you'll likely see some positive changes in your mood and attitude. When you eat right and exercise regularly, you will feel better about your body. That's partly because good nutrition and exercise can boost your overall well-being and self-esteem.

People who don't get enough sleep on a regular basis seem to have high levels of a hormone called ghrelin (which causes hunger) and low levels of a hormone called leptin (which normally helps to curb hunger). In women, estrogen produced by fat cells protects against osteoporosis and loss of skin elasticity, enhances sleep, and may help decrease hot flashes. Women at the age of 50 and above should be encouraged to focus on their total well-being rather than just their weight. Part of that focus should be on functional foods. The role of functional foods is three-fold: to manage menopause symptoms, control weight gain, and reduce the risk of post menopause diseases (heart disease, osteoporosis, breast and colon cancers, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes).

One tip is when your at the grocery store you should turnaround and run from the family-size bags. Quite often this will tend to make you overeat. Start reading the nutrition labels on everything you buy and make note of the serving size. The serving size is what all of the nutritional values are derived from on the package. Most people don't read the labels or don't understand them. You can make just these little changes to start on the road of a healthy diet. 

The next action you should take is to find an exercise regimen that is fun, effective and fits in your lifestyle. These actions can start you on your way to eliminating the mid-life bulge.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Power Up and Slim Down With Soy

It's all in the bean! Guess what bean I'm talking about...
When I tell people that I love Tofu they always ask me "What is Tofu, anyway?" I'm not surprised that people don't know that Tofu is actually bean curd made with soybeans and was invented more than 2,000 years ago in China. Soy has been somewhat of a mystery to consumers, especially those that don't often veer from traditional American cuisine.

Soybeans also known as edamame and soy products such as Tofu or soy milk have made their way into mainstream grocery stores and restaurants. Soy-based products are a low-fat, cholesterol-free source of protein, which builds muscles, bones, skin, the antibodies that power your immune system and protect you from disease. They're also high in calcium, which builds healthy bones, teeth and can help prevent or decrease osteoporosis. If that isn't enough, this wonder bean has also been tied to weight loss.

A recent study published in the European Journal of Nutrition suggests that eating more soy can lower your body mass index. The body mass index is a health indicator that compares your weight to your height. I bet you're asking yourself, what type of soy should I buy? Here are my 3 rules:

1.Keep it Simple - The only soy products that go into my shopping cart are soy milk, tofu and whole soybeans. I try to avoid meat substitutes made of soy because they're usually heavily processed and often high in sodium. Firm tofu is a great substitute for meat in salads, stir-fries or sandwiches. Silken or soft tofu can substitute for dairy in dips, soups, sauces & even pudding. If you're trying silken tofu for the first time, I would recommend a 50/50 mixture, such as half yogurt, half tofu in a smoothie.

2.Reach for the whole soy - Look for the phrase "whole soybean" or "whole soy" on the label to make sure you're getting a product high in fiber. Fiber aids in digestion and helps maintain healthy cholesterol, blood glucose levels and other healthy nutrients. Whole soy has been linked in some studies to even help protect against some cancers.

3.Look for organic choices - Organic soy is free of toxins such as pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides and doesn't contain genetically modified organisms. Currently, genetically modified organisms have been studied for their possible link to food allergies.

I'd like to leave you with a healthy soy snack that you can try and I'll bet you'll be pleasantly surprised. Small Planet Tofu, why I love it! It's flavored with seasonings like green tea and lemon grass. Make it a meal by tossing baby greens with white balsamic vinegar, citrus juice; top with chilled wild rice, green tea tofu and sliced almonds. There you have it a little about soy! Hope this helps you discover a new healthy ingredient.

Hope you enjoyed and learned how you can bring the miraculous soy bean into your diet!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

9 Tips to Stay Slim This Holiday Season

The holiday season is one of the hardest times for most people when it comes to sticking with healthy eating! However, you can stay on track and can make your holiday a feast as well. Here are my 9 tips to stay slim during the holiday season.

1. Fill Up First- About an hour before you go to a holiday party or event, eat a nice crisp green salad, a bowl of fruit or fresh veggies. This will fill you up somewhat so that when you arrive to the party you will have less of an appetite. This is also a great counterbalance to less nutritional snacks you might want to try during your night out.

2. Sip On A Schedule- Another way to fill yourself up is to drink water. You can drink sparkling water if you like beforehand, one while your dining and one before desert. This will help you eat less of the dinner.

3. Tote Your Beverage- Always carry a low-cal beverage around with you at parties. You may want to try flavored water. This will help you keep your hands busy and away from the buffet or high calorie snacks on display for the taking.

4. Downsize Your Plate- It's a fact that if you eat from a smaller plate, you will eat less. The ideal size plate is a salad plate, and have at least half of the plate filled with veggies. One quarter can hold whole grains and the rest lean protein.

5. Go For the Crunch- Crunchy foods like carrot and celery sticks are excellent choices. It will keep you fingers and mouth busy with crispy low-calorie foods. You'll be less likely to indulge in less healthy choices.

6. Check Your Choices- We all know that crunchy foods tend to make us feel full, but the same is true of low-calorie foods that are high in water content. Some examples are cucumbers, tomatoes, grapes, fish, whole grains & citrus fruits. A quick tip is that most people need to consume about 150 calories every 3 hours or so to keep from overeating.

7. Reduce the Pile- Even a smaller size plate can be filled high and carry a hefty calorie wallop. Keep the level of food on your plate to half an inch high or less.

8. Don't Go Hungry- Eat small, healthy meals or snacks of 150 calories or less several times per day. That way, you don't get to the point of wanting to gorge.

9. Take a Day Off- Reward yourself for eating healthy by having one day that you select during the holidays to eat the foods you like on that day. Go ahead and eat what you like! But when the day is over, it's time to return to eating normally. You can also incorporate this in your eating plan by designating one day of the week where you eat just one item you wouldn't ordinarily eat to reward yourself.

There you have it! These are my 9 tips for staying slim during the holiday season. Happy holidays to all of my readers!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

5 Tips to Setting Realistic Weight Loss Goals

Unfortunately, research shows that unrealistic goals elevate the risk of dropping out of a weight loss program. It has been found that dieters will temporarily eat less when their weight loss goals are high, however under-eating may be replaced by overeating at the very next temptation. 

The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to go: smaller with realistic goals, says Janet Polivy, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, Canada.
This leads me to the #1 question: How do I set realistic weight loss goals? There are a few strategies and before you put any of my tips to use, please consult with your physician. Here are my 5 tips to setting realistic weight loss goals.

1. Lose the weight slowly- Most clinicians and experts will state that losing 5-10 percent of your start weight is an achievable goal. So if you weigh 200 lbs., a reachable goal would be to lose 10-20 pounds.
2. Do the math- A realistic goal is losing 1-2 pounds per week to stay healthy. This means that if you want to lose a total of 25 lbs., your time frame to lose the weight the healthy way is to take 3 months. If your weight loss is 50 lbs., then your time frame would be at least 6 months. Aim to burn at least 500-1000 calories per day by eating less, exercising more, or both.
3. Set short-term goals- People that go on diets get discouraged if they don't see their losing the weight quickly. So you must set milestones or short-term goals. Instead of focusing on the 25 lbs. you want to lose, go for and celebrate the 1-2 lbs. per week that you need to lose to accomplish your final goal.
4. Track your progress- This is a must to not only keep on track but to celebrate each of your milestones as well. Record all of your successes in a method that works for you. For example; a journal, excel spreadsheet, etc. Whatever keeps you on track of your progress.
5. Think about your long-term goals- It's okay to think big, but it may mean starting small and working your way towards the big goal. The big goal by the way should be to change the way you think of food and stay eating healthy with exercise! If your long-term goal is to lose 50 lbs. in a year maybe your short-term goal is getting through the day without overeating. Find the triggers that make you want to eat as well is a good way to change your habits to a healthier way of living.

In conclusion, there is an old saying and it's true "lose it slowly, keep it off". This saying makes sense if you think about it because losing slowly will give your body and mind time to adapt to new behaviors, like eating healthy & less plus exercising more. When you focus on the process of changing your habits not just on losing weight, those new and healthier habits will be the big boost you need in helping you meet your weight loss goals.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What Are the 3 Types of Fats in Food

Today I'd like to talk about fats in the foods that we eat. It's important that if you want to eat healthy and maintain a good weight that you know about fat in your diet. Here is a quick explanation of the fats in our food and how they affect our overall health. 

What is Saturated fat?

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, which is why they're known as "solid fat". Saturated fats are mostly in animal foods such as cheese, milk, and red meat. When it comes to poultry and fish they have less saturated fat than red meat. This is why it's a great idea to substitute turkey ground for hamburger meat. Saturated fat is also in a variety of oils like tropical, coconut, palm & cocoa butter. Usually you'll find tropical oils in many snacks and in nondairy foods, such as coffee creamers. There is a high content of saturated fat in foods made with butter, margarine or shortening such as cakes, cookies, and other deserts. Saturated fat can raise your cholesterol and can put your health in a higher risk category. A healthy diet should have ideally less than 10% of daily calories from saturated fat. This may seem difficult to do but once you get really good at reading labels, learning to substitute when cooking and focusing on what you're eating, it will become very easy.

What is Trans fat?

Trans fat is fat that has been changed by a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation increases the shelf life of fat and makes it even harder at room temperature simply put hydrogenation preserves fat. When fat is harder it makes crispier crackers and flakier pie crusts. Trans fat can definitely raise your cholesterol, so eat as little trans fat as possible. You'll find trans fat in processed foods, snack foods like chips and crackers, cookies, some margarine and salad dressings, and foods made with shortening or partially hydrogenated oils. So, you must read the nutritional labels and learn to cook healthier meals.

What is Unsaturated fat?

Unsaturated fat is in liquid form at room temperature. You will find unsaturated fat mostly in oils derived from plants. It can help improve your cholesterol level if you eat unsaturated fat instead of saturated fat. You should eat mostly unsaturated fats whether their monounsaturated or polyunsaturated types. Monounsaturated fats help prevent cardiovascular disease by reducing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) "bad"cholesterol, increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) "good" cholesterol, and lowering blood pressure. Foods rich in monounsaturated fat include canola and olive oils, almonds, and avocados just to name a few. Polyunsaturated fats also help improve your cholesterol and reduce blood pressure. These fats are mainly in vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, sesame, soybean, and corn oils.

The most heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats are the Omega-3s, which are found in high content in fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, and herring. Plant sources include flax seeds and walnuts. Omega-3s are the super heroes of the fat world because, in addition to their positive effect on cholesterol levels and blood pressure, they can also help reduce inflammation, the risk of blood clots, and decrease triglycerides which are fats that circulate in your bloodstream. A healthy diet should include 8 ounces or more of Salmon, anchovies, herring, sardines, Pacific oysters, trout & mackerel per week, which contain the wonderful Omega 3 fatty acids. Also, it's important to note that Omega-6 fatty acids are found mostly in liquid vegetable oils like soybean oil, corn oil, and safflower oil.

So in conclusion, it's important to read the nutritional label on all the foods that you buy and learn the art of substitution when cooking. These two points are pertinent to eating a healthy diet and controlling the fat that goes into your body. Total fat includes saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fat on nutritional fact labels. Food labels are not required to list monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat so, keep this in mind when reading nutritional fact labels. Now that you're armed with a little information about fats, you can make informed decisions on your choices when at the grocery store and preparing your meals!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why Am I So Tired?

I have many people I talk with daily about health and often I hear how they're fatigue or tired all the time. My previous post regarding "energy drinks" is proof that so many need energy. The lack of energy can be caused by many different medical issues which is why you should always consult with your physician right away when you notice fatigue. When you let your physician know right away medical issues can be ruled out so a diagnosis and treatment can be determined for you. There is one medical issue that comes to mind when someone is fatigue or lacks energy which is my topic today "Hypothyroidism". 

What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism can be called underactive thyroid disease and it's a common disorder. This disorder occurs when the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone is essential to the function of the body and lack of this hormone can affect almost every part of your body from your heart, brain, muscles to even your skin. Yes, even your skin! 
The thyroid gland is positioned in the front lower part of your neck.  As the gland releases the hormone, it travels through your bloodstream. The thyroid is so important to your body functioning properly. Its main function is to control how your body's cells use energy from food which is a process of metabolism. Your metabolism is very important and affects your body temperature, heartbeat, and also how your body burns calories. Therefore; if you don't have enough thyroid hormone, your body processes will slow down and can cause the fatigue or lack of energy and weight gain.

What Causes Hypothyroidism?
I know you’re asking yourself this very question. Well, the most common cause of Hypothyroidism is called "Hashimoto's Thyroiditis". This is an inflammation of the thyroid gland and it's an autoimmune disorder.  Hashimoto's Thyroiditis produces antibodies that will attack and can destroy the thyroid gland. This disorder has been known to also be caused by viral infections. There are other causes of Hypothyroidism as well. Here is a list of a few:
* Iodine Deficient Diet- The thyroid gland needs iodine in order to produce thyroid hormone. The body doesn't produce iodine therefore we have to get the needed iodine from our diet. Food sources such as iodized table salt, shellfish, saltwater fish, eggs, and dairy products to name a few are rich in iodine.

*Radiation Therapy- People that are treated for certain cancers, such as lymphoma requires radiation therapy to the neck area. Radiation damages the cells in the thyroid. It's more difficult for your thyroid to produce the hormones needed due to the damage caused by the radiation therapy.

*Medications- Certain medications such as those used to treat psychiatric conditions, heart problems and cancer can affect the production of the thyroid hormone. Check with your doctor to determine if your medications are causing you thyroid problems.

*Pregnancy- It's not clear why pregnancy can cause Hypothyroidism however, sometimes after pregnancy inflammation of the thyroid occurs. This is known as postpartum thyroiditis. Women with this medical issue usually have an increase in hormone levels which is then followed by a drop in thyroid hormone production. This usually will pass and the woman will regain their normal thyroid function.

*Thyroid issues at birth- Some babies can be born with a thyroid gland that didn't develop properly. This type of Hypothyroidism is called congenital hypothyroidism. In the US babies are screened at birth for this disease. 

*Iodine Treatment- Radioactive iodine is commonly used in the treatment of an overactive thyroid gland, a condition known as Hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is a condition where your thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone. Being as radiation destroys the cells in the thyroid it can lead to a Hypothyroidism condition.

*Pituitary Gland Damage- It's rare that a problem with the Pituitary Gland can interfere with the production of thyroid hormone. The pituitary gland produces a hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone or TSH which tells your thyroid how much hormone it should produce and release into your bloodstream.

*Hypothalamus Disorder- This is very rare form of Hypothyroidism however, it does occur. The hypothalamus in the brain produces a hormone called TRH which affects the release of TSH from the pituitary gland. Naturally, if there isn't enough being produced it will cause Hypothyroidism. 

Who is at Risk?
Women, mostly older women are more likely to have Hypothyroidism than men. Those of you that have a family member that has been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease will be at a higher risk as well. There are other risk factors such as race, age and bipolar disorder just to name a few!

What are the Symptoms? 
 Here are a few:
*Weight Gain

You can Click Here to read more on Hypothyroidism. 

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