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    Natracure Blog — Weight

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    10 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

    It's that time of year when extra calories lurk around every corner -- frosted cookies at the office, eggnog at your neighbor's, jelly doughnuts for Hanukkah or chocolates in your stocking. All these extras add up, and if you're like most Americans, you'll put on a pound or two by New Year's Day. So what's the harm in a little holiday weight gain, especially if it's just a pound? According to researchers at the National Institutes of Health, most Americans never lose the weight they gain during the winter holidays. The pounds add up year after year, making holiday weight gain an important factor in adult obesity. But you don't have to fall into this trap. It is possible to enjoy holiday goodies without putting on a single pound. "Portion control is the key," says Susan Finn, PhD, RD. Finn serves as chairwoman of the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition. "I don't believe you can't eat food that you like -- even indulgences -- but it is the amount you eat," she tells WebMD. Of course, it's not easy to go on portion patrol when the temptations are endless. That's why WebMD compiled these tips to help you avoid overindulging. 1. Never Arrive Hungry New York psychologist Carol Goldberg, PhD, says planning ahead can help you maintain discipline in the face of temptation. "Don't go to a party when you're starving," she warns. Try to have a nutritious snack beforehand. If you do arrive hungry, drink some water to fill up before filling your plate. 2. Divert Your Attention Many people forget that there's more to a holiday party than food, Goldberg tells WebMD. "Don't look at the party as just a food event," she says. "Enjoy your friends' company or dancing. Focus on something other than food." Finn agrees. She says chatting is a great diversion, whether you're at a small family dinner or a large party. "Take your mind off of food and focus on the conversation." 3. Pace Yourself Have you ever tried telling yourself you'll only eat during the first half hour of a party? Goldberg says this strategy is a mistake. "If you cram in as much as you can in half an hour, you chew faster. Chewing more slowly will fill you up with less food." To munch at a leisurely pace, Finn recommends putting your fork down between every bite. "This puts you in control." 4. Count Your Canaps When there are canaps, it's easy to lose count of how many you eat. Keep track by stashing a toothpick in your pocket for each one. Set a limit and stick to it. 5. Outsmart the Buffet When dinner is served buffet-style, use the smallest plate available and don't stack your food; limit your helpings to a single story. "Go for the simplest foods on the buffet," Finn says. "Fresh fruits and vegetables and shrimp cocktail are good choices. Watch out for sauces and dips." 6. Limit Alcohol Avoid drinking too much alcohol at holiday parties. "It's not just about calories but about control," Finn explains. "If you drink a lot you, won't have as much control over what you eat." If you feel out of place without a drink, Goldberg suggests sipping water or club soda, "soyou have something to carry like everyone else." 7. Be Choosy About Sweets When it comes to dessert, be very selective. "Limit your indulgences to small portions and only what is very sensual to you," Goldberg says. Her personal rule on sweets: "If it's going to have calories, it has to be chocolate." What about sampling several desserts, if you only take a tiny bite of each one? "You have to know yourself," Goldberg says. "Some people can eat one bite of something and stop. I don't think most people can do that. "If you know you're the type who can't stop at one bite, you're better off taking a small portion of a single dessert than piling your plate with several treats you plan to "try." 8. Bring Your Own Treats Whether you're going to a friend's party or an office potluck, consider bringing a low-calorie treat that you know you'll enjoy. Bringing your own dessert will make the more fattening alternatives less tempting. And don't feel your dessert has to be typical holiday fare. "Get away from rigid thinking about what holiday food has to be," Goldberg says. "People love fruit." 9. Limit 'Tastes' While Cooking If you do a lot of cooking during the holidays, crack down on all those "tastes." "People lose their appetites when they've been cooking because they've been eating the whole time," Finn tells WebMD. Instead of tasting mindlessly every few minutes, limit yourself to two small bites of each item pre- and post-seasoning. "Just put the spoon in and taste a little bit," Finn says. "It's not grounds for a big scoop." For tried-and-true recipes, dare yourself not to taste the dish at all until it is served. 10. Walk It Off Make a new holiday tradition: the family walk. Besides burning some extra calories, this will get everyone away from the food for awhile. "Get people off the couch and move," Finn says. "Go out for a walk as a family before or after the meal." She says walking not only benefits you physically but also puts you in a mindset to be more careful about what you eat. "There's something about activity that puts you in control." By Susan G. Rabin, MA via WebMD

    Stop Counting Calories!

    A recent story in The Atlantic argued that calories aren’t a useful metric for weight loss: They’re calculated in flawed ways, and there are differences in how individual bodies digest and metabolize them. Some researchers think dieters would be better served by focusing on nutrient density or some kind of as-yet-undetermined satiety value. These are great scientific arguments, but the psychological case against calories is also worth considering. People can and do lose weight with calorie-counting, and some swear by the system. But is it not unbelievably time-consuming and soul-sucking? The existence of a calorie-counter is often defined by an obsessive focus on how to “spend” one’s daily allotment. In this reductive schema, Skinny Vanilla Lattes, Diet Coke, and fat-free yogurt are all arguably smart choices because they help maximize the amount of food you can eat without going over your limit. This mentality is problematic, to say the least. So-called “diet” foods, often low-fat and artificially sweetened, not only don’t help you feel full, they can make you even more hungry. (In the case of fake sugar, when your brain doesn’t actually get the sugar calories it thinks it’s getting, it seeks them out.) Plus, they taste like garbage. But isn’t bad-tasting food and a growling stomach the price you must pay in order to lose five, ten, or 100 pounds? Not really. Although calorie math gives the illusion that you can exert some control over your body by tallying (and, of course, limiting) what goes into it, the evidence says you can’t. Calorie counts aren’t as exact as we’re led to believe, and they don’t take into account gut microbes, which experts increasingly think play an important role in our digestion and, ultimately, our weight. The margin of error is so big that people can literally do everything by the book and still not slim down, as the Atlantic piece points out. Cue frustration and possibly more restriction that could veer toward unhealthy levels. Related: How to Fake a Juice Cleanse And for what? Experts agree that dieting doesn’t work in the long run. Sure, you’re likely to lose some weight at the outset, but most people won’t keep up a strict plan forever. And no wonder, since the concept of a calorie-counting diet is a killjoy: You must deny yourself the things you want in order to be “good.” If you do eat something pleasurable, you must do penance the rest of the day. And if you go over your calorie count, you were “bad” — and your handy tracking app has a record of every time you failed. Deep down, we know what we should eat, namely a mix of nutrient-dense foods like lean meats, seafood, fruits and vegetables, beans and peas, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and dairy. That’s not to say that high-calorie processed foods like Doritos and triple-fudge-chunk ice cream are off the table — on the contrary, research suggests that when foods are considered forbidden, we have stronger cravings and eat more of them when given the opportunity. The idea that no food is off limits is a hallmark of intuitive or mindful eating, a practice that also advises people to eat when they’re legitimately hungry and stop eating when they’re full. Intuitive eating might sound like hippie anarchy (after all, we do have an obesity epidemic in this country, not to mention structural impediments to people of all classes eating healthily), but it could be a huge relief to erstwhile calorie-counters who look at food and only see numbers. Related: 30 Things That Are Making You Fat Time previously spent tracking and worrying about calories could be better used shopping for and cooking or prepping food, or finding out which vegetables you like and how to cook ones you’re only lukewarm about. Learning portion sizes would be helpful, too, but not because of caloric content. Intuitive eating means consuming things that genuinely make your mind and body feel good; happy and satisfied but far short of a food coma. This approach can help people lose weight and keep it off longer than traditional dieters. This lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth remembering that food is meant to be enjoyed, not analyzed to death, or, alternatively, shoveled into your maw while scrolling through Instagram. Savor your food, eat well most of the time, and don’t shame yourself for eating some demonized item. Even if you never lose weight, you’ll be a hell of a lot happier. [The Atlantic] By Susan Rinkunas via The Cut

    5 Reasons You're Gaining Weight

    Weight gain is always a hot topic. Fad diets and exercises dominate the internet as people work to combat their increasing weight. Here we’ll review 5 reasons why you continue to gain weight and what you can do about it to achieve a healthier you.  

    1. You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
    We are all busy and schedules are tight. If you’re looking to cut corners, do it elsewhere. Sleep is an essential for your body to function properly. This includes weight management, not to mention the fact that people who aren’t sleeping enough are obviously awake for additional number of hours each day. And the more hours you are awake, the more you will eat. Get into a sleep routine and attempt to go to bed at the same time every night. Also, ignore the caffeine late after 5pm and let your body fall asleep naturally.   2. You’re Constantly Starting Diets Diets shouldn’t be temporary fixes to drop a few pounds. When you halt the diet you will quickly gain weight again. Instead, focus on actually altering your eating habits. Consistently make smarter food choices and you will find that the weight will stay off. Listen to your body when it tells you it is hungry. Eat food slowly. And wait for your body to tell you when it’s full.   3. You’re Not Getting Any Younger As we grow older, metabolism is directly affected and muscle mass drops. The fact is, the larger your number in years, the slower your metabolism becomes and you become physically weaker. To combat this you must eat less and exercise more. It is that simple. As you grow older, eat more lean proteins and avoid too many carbs. Couple this with some sort of exercise regimen and you can effectively keep unnecessary pounds off.   4. Your Diet is Lacking Essential Nutrients Feeling tired and unmotivated? It may be directly related to a lack of nutrients. Low levels in vitamins, magnesium and iron can really alter your metabolism. Make sure your diet is diverse enough to get all of the essentials your body needs. Lean-meats, fruits and vegetables all will contribute to a healthy diet to help keep weight off.   5. You’re Too Stressed Stress is hard to avoid, I know. However, making conscious decisions to fight stress at work or the office will go a long way to assist your weight management regimen. If you are having trouble dealing with stress, therapy may be a viable option. Take a load off and get a massage or do activities that you enjoy. Just do what you have to do to keep stress levels lower and your pounds will follow suit.   These aren’t the only factors to help attack weight gain, but they’re great ways to start your assault! Be aware of what you are putting into your body, but also be aware of your lifestyle choices. Strategic decisions will work to keep weight off and contribute to a healthy life!   By Pat DeRiso Sources: webmd.com, prevention.com

    5 Reasons You Need Strength Training In Your Routine

    Making use of strength training to lose weight is sometimes overlooked, especially by women, because they are worried they'll get too bulky. But it takes a lot of work and specialized training to bulk up and look like a body builder. If you include an aspect of strength training into your overall weight loss training program you're not going to build up bulky muscles.

    Here are 5 benefits of strength training to lose weight.
      1. You Burn More Calories. The main advantage about resistance or strength training to lose weight is that you'll burn more calories. Cardio exercise does burn calories, but only whilst you are performing the exercise. You achieve more weight loss through weight training because even while you're resting your muscles will be burning calories. If you are working out with weights 2 to 3 times a week you can reach your weight loss goal much faster.   2. It Builds Strong Bones, Ligaments, Tendons and Overall Health Strength training is not only effective for a weight loss program. It helps to strengthen your bones, tendons and ligaments. All of these work together to help you have stability, strength and stamina. Working out with strength training also lowers your risk of certain diseases associated with being over weight like diabetes and high blood pressure.   3. Muscle Tone and Strength. You don't have to look like a bulky bodybuilder to have good muscle tone. Muscles make everyday tasks a little less difficult. You will be able to open jars more easily, walk a flight of stairs and do your housework or DIY tasks without feeling worn out afterwards. Not forgetting that toned muscles look much better than flabby ones. Strength training for weight loss does mean you have to lift heavy weights for several hours each day. Simply lifting a few sets with a five pound weight will do wonders for your muscle tone.   4. Age With Dignity. No one wants to think about growing older, but if you stay in shape and keep your muscle tone in great shape, you can avoid some of the problems associated with ageing and you won't need to call a young person to open that jar of pickles for you!   5. Improves Your Balance And Coordination. Getting your muscles toned and in shape will also improve your balance and coordination. It helps improve your balance because you work opposite muscle groups. By way of example, if your stomach muscles are strong, but your back muscles are weak, this can influence how well you balance your body, even while standing erect. It can also lead to injury of your back because those muscles are weak.   By Jon Allo