Weight Loss with HEALTHeME

Weight loss and good health made simple

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Keep Track of What You Eat To Lose Weight

Track what you eat right from your phone
Self-awareness is the key to weight loss.
You’ve heard it before: if you really want to keep track of what you’re eating and how much you’re exercising, you need to write it down.  Journaling is not just another thing on your to-do list; it’s a great tool to help you reach your goals!  A study done in 2008 found that people who kept a record of their food lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t.  Those who kept a journal also exercised more than those who didn’t, accumulating up to 300 or more minutes of exercise per week.

The value of journaling is awareness and accountability.  Many people mindlessly eat throughout the day and keeping a journal makes you take a second thought before taking a bite.  And, if you do overdo it, you are less likely to repeat the behavior when you see it written down.

As if that isn’t enough, journaling will help you exercise more regularly and maximize your weight loss efforts!  When you record your exercise sessions, you will know exactly how long and what type of exercise you did.  This will help you set new goals, like increasing the time you spend exercising.  Or, maybe you realize that you usually walk for exercise and you need to spice things up with a new routine. 

Here are some tips to help you get started with your food and exercise journal:

  • Journal as you go – it is pretty easy to find a few minutes here and there to write things down but much harder if you wait until the end of the day and have to play catch-up
  • Pack your lunch – if you plan your meals ahead of time and pack food for work, you can write it down ahead of the meal.  This will help you stay on track and avoid impulse buys in the cafeteria!  
  • Find what works for you – you can use a notebook, spread sheet, your HEALTHeME website, or anything else that you have access to throughout the day.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Walking For Weight Loss

Walking for weight loss.

It’s time to lace up your walking shoes and hit the road.  Walking is a simple and effective way to lose weight because it can be done virtually anywhere, and costs nothing.  And, since all you have to do is put on your walking shoes, it is pretty easy to fit into your busy schedule.

One question you might ask: “How much do I need to walk every day?”  The answer is pretty simple: try to accumulate 10,000 steps every day.  That might sound like a lot of steps to keep track of but using a pedometer will help you reach this goal.

Did you know this about walking for weight loss?

  • One mile is about 2,000 steps; so, 10,000 steps equal about 5 miles. 
  • Many people will get about half of their 10,000 steps just doing the things they normally do – like cleaning the house, yard work, and walking around the office. 
  • To reach 10,000 steps, you will probably have to take a walk, go for a jog, or participate in a structured exercise class.  This helps you meet the Center for Disease Control’s guideline to accumulate 30-60 minutes of physical activity every day!
Need more motivation to keep your step count high?  Well, for every 2,000 steps (about 1 mile), the average person burns about 100 calories!  And, accumulating 8,000-10,000 steps every day promotes weight loss.  Besides taking a walk outside, there are some other ways to increase the number of steps you take and you can include your entire family in the fun:
  • Explore new trails, greenways, and other areas around your neighborhood.
  • Plan a scavenger hunt – see how many steps you can accumulate along the way.
  • Have a race to see who can get from one place to another and instead of the winner being the “fastest”, the winner is the person who takes the most steps to get there.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday weight loss

The holiday season is a busy, but fun time of year!  From office parties to cookie exchanges and family gatherings, your social calendar is probably packed.  And what happens at most of these festivities?  That’s right, we eat!  Sharing food is part of the holiday season but it is easy to get side-tracked and forget about your weight loss goals.

Some studies suggest that the average adult gains one pound during the holiday season.  That may not sound like a lot but it adds up over the years and contributes to obesity later in life. 

Here are a few ways you can avoid packing on those extra pounds:

  • Exercise will not only help keep you on track to reach your goals, it will also help keep your stress level in check and strengthen your immune system.  Plan to take a walk, jog, ride a bike, or give yourself a gift and try something new!
  • Sleep is an important way to stay healthy and strong, especially during busy times.  Try to get 8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Bring a side dish to the party.  It may sound easier to swing by the grocery store on your way and pick something up that is ready-made.  But, by making your own side dish, you can experiment with new recipes and make some substitutions that will be party-pleasers.  Try using applesauce instead of oil to reduce fat and calories.  Also, sprinkle herbs like rosemary and thyme instead of salt to decrease the sodium.
  • Eat before you play!  Eating a healthy, high fiber meal before a holiday party will help you avoid over-indulging on the tempting treats!
  • Holiday beverages: Did you know that the average cup of eggnog packs almost 350 calories and 19 grams of fat?  Try some sugar-free hot apple cider mix or low-fat hot cocoa to enjoy a festive drink that won’t pack on the pounds!
  • Plan ahead!  Take exercise clothes with you when you travel & have workout shoes with you at all times so that you can fit in a walk.  Remember that even 10-minute exercise sessions have huge payoffs!
  • Avoid eating out.  All-day holiday shopping can leave you hungry and tempted to stop by the food court or drive-thru window.  Be sure to have healthy snacks on hand like nuts, bananas, apples, or peanut butter on whole wheat bread.
  • Pencil time for yourself into your calendar.  If you don’t schedule time to exercise and prepare healthy meals, it can be easy to push those things aside.  Plus, exercising and eating right will help boost your energy so you can do all those things on your list!

Exercise Boosts Mood

Exercise increases happiness.

We all feel a little “blue” from time-to-time and it is difficult to find the motivation to do anything when you’re feeling down.  Whether you experience only occasional grey skies or have been diagnosed with depression, one thing is certain: getting active can help improve your mood.  Exercise has many health benefits; one of which is its ability to brighten your day.  The best part:  it takes as little as 20 minutes a day!

 Research suggests that exercise is a natural antidepressant.  Why is this?  There are chemicals in our body that are released when we exercise.  When these chemicals are released, we often feel less pain and an improvement in your mood.  Exercise also strengthens your immune system, which helps fight illness.  When you are sick, you are more likely to feel depressed.  So, by boosting your immune system, you can enjoy feeling healthy and strong.

Here are some other mood-lifting benefits of exercise:

  • Exercise helps you gain confidence and feel good about yourself, especially when you work so hard to reach your goals.
  • Exercise helps decrease anxiety by giving you something productive to do and distracting you from your worries.
  • Exercise helps you to be more social – there are mood-boosting benefits to spending time with friends and many people make new friends when they start an exercise program.

So, the next time you are feeling “down-and-out”, remember that exercise is a natural antidepressant. So why not choose the all-natural and inexpensive mood booster: exercise?  Not only will you feel happier, but your body will thank you too!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Stress Less, Sleep More, Lose Weight

Chill out.  Lose weight.
Think getting enough sleep and managing your stress level have nothing to do with weight loss?  Think again. 
 A recent study in the International Journal of Obesity found that being stressed out and sleep deprived may, in fact, prevent you from losing weight.
During the study, 472 obese adults participated in a weight loss program that involved regular exercise, keeping a food journal, counseling sessions, and a healthy diet. At the end of the study, 60% of the participants lost at least 10 lbs. As you might guess, the people who lost weight, followed the diet and exercise programs, kept a food journal, and attended counseling sessions. What you might not guess is that the people who lost weight also got 6-8 hours of sleep each night and kept their stress levels low.
Recent research has found that some people cope with stress by eating, especially eating high fat, sugary foods. Overeating can make people feel good and counter the negative effects of stress. But, overeating also leads to weight gain.
Other studies indicate that when people aren’t getting enough sleep, they eat more calories. These extra calories are a sure way to derail your weight loss efforts! Need more encouragement to get some shut-eye? One study suggests that good, quality sleep may help your body regulate blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and body temperature. 
So, if you want to reach your weight loss goals, you might want to consider things like gentle stretching, yoga, meditation, journaling, dimming the lights before bed, and having a technology cut-off time (a set time to turn off lap-tops, cell phones, and TV's). These simple things won't just help you manage your stress level and sleep better; they will help you live a healthier life.