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Make a lifestyle change

When it comes to weight loss, the buzzwords you might be hearing lately are lifestyle and change…as in, you need to make one to be successful at losing weight. It may seem like losing weight is a simple goal–do some exercise, go on a diet and voila!


While magazines and infomercials make it seem effortless, losing weight takes hard work and that often means changing different aspects of your life, like how you spend your time, how you schedule your day, and how/what you eat.

What’s Your Lifestyle Like? The reason lifestyle is so important is because how you live determines your choices and these choices decide how healthy you are and whether you’re on the road to weight loss. So what is a healthy lifestyle? The typical components include not smoking, eating healthy foods, exercising and keeping the body at a healthy weight. Where do you fall on the healthy lifestyle continuum? First, figure out how much time you spend doing the following:

  • Sitting at a desk
  • Sitting in a car
  • Sitting in front of a TV
  • Sitting in front of a computer
  • Eating out at restaurants
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Eating fast food or junk foods
  • Staying up late/not getting enough sleep

Now, how much time do you spend:

  • Being active in general (taking the stairs, walking instead of driving, gardening, cleaning, etc.)
  • Doing cardio exercise
  • Strength training for all muscle groups with challenging weights
  • Preparing your own meals and snacks and eating fruits, veggies and whole grains
  • Reading food labels
  • Tracking your calories
  • Sleeping
  • Dealing with stress in a healthy way

If you spend more time doing the things in the first list than the second, it’s time to reevaluate your priorities and decide what you really want for yourself. Living healthy means spending time and energy on your body–moving it around and paying attention to what you put into it. An unhealthy lifestyle means you can avoid expending energy, time and effort…but at what cost?

Choosing Health

As humans, we like habits and routines…so much so that we often keep doing the same things even when we know they aren’t good for us. Changing bad habits takes time and effort and, for a healthy lifestyle, you may need to change a variety of things including:

  • What time you get up each morning
  • What time you go to bed each night
  • How you spend your free time
  • How you spend your money
  • How you shop, how you cook and how often you eat
  • How much TV you watch
  • What you do with your family and friends

Keep in mind the habits you have now were formed over many years and it’s unrealistic to expect to change them overnight.  While there will be times the old habits make an appearance before you know it, don’t let that deter you.  Get right back on track, this is a marathon, not a sprint.  While difficult, the rewards for making these changes will be endless.

Holiday Weight Gain

There are a number of assertions back and forth about holiday weight gain.  Some sources say it’s five or more pounds while others dispute this and say that their research only shows one pound or so.  Whatever the number is, there is no doubt that the opportunity to eat and drink more than usual is often abundant during this period of time.  It starts with the Halloween candy, goes through to Thanksgiving, the holiday party season, and then finally with New Years.  Food, food, it’s everywhere and so are the beverages that are laden with calories.  Whether it’s one pound or five is obviously debatable; however, what is a know fact for most of us is that this weight does not automatically leave us after the new year and this is the primary concern.  So the thought for the day is be careful during the holdiay season about what goes into our system from a caloric perspective.  If we can maintain our weight during this bountiful time, then that’s a major win.

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7 Essential Changes You Need to Make Right Now

It is easy to go with the flow. Doing what comes naturally is ingrained in everyone’s DNA. However, in the realm of health and fitness this can have disastrous consequences on our lives. Simply following the course of life that many are on this very second will honestly lead them to an early grave. Not that I mean to scare anyone just for the sake of it, but living a healthy, fit life is not something that comes natural to anyone. If you are currently on the path of least resistance then you may need to consider applying the following 7 essential changes to your life immediately.

From: Fit Hacks

Diet: You can’t always eat junk. If I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted I could probably single handedly finance an entire chain of bacon and cheese french fry establishments. But when I decided to take my health seriously, I knew that my diet was the first thing I had to change. We are literally killing ourselves by what we eat. While it takes some will power to decide to eat right, knowing what to eat shouldn’t be that difficult. Focus on lean protein (grilled chicken, fish), plenty of fruits and veggies, and whole grain carbs.

Schedule: Make room for exercise, rest, family. This is important for your physical well being as well as your mental well being. We cannot live our lives fully devoted to work, food and sleep. There have to be times when we just let ourselves go for a walk, read a book or just sit outside in the sunlight. Spending time with family is extra important, not only for your sake, but for theirs as well. No one is an island but no one is a robot either. As for exercise…

Physical activity: Your body NEEDS it. If you’re like me and work a normal desk job, then the temptation is to come home and sit around on your couch after work watching TV or playing video games. This isn’t going to cut it. People weren’t made for such sedentary lifestyles. We were meant to hunt, to roam, to run and play. I’d say that getting regular exercise is THE most essential change we all need in our lives. It helps our bodies and our minds.

Goals: Making ambiguous targets won’t take you anywhere. Do you have a goal? Specify it. If you want to lose weight, change it to losing X lbs. If you want to be more active, sign up for a race and commit to it. By nature, people just don’t make very good goals. We have to be specific. Otherwise, not only will we never know when we reach our goal, but we’ll likely never really start pursuing it either.

Initiative: Someday will never be today. Stop telling yourself that you’ll get around to exercising and eating right “someday”. We all know that will never happen. Take the reigns of your life and initiate the change you want to see today. When I first started running I really didn’t want to do it all that much. I just new it was something that I should be doing. So one day after enough postponing and procrastination, I took the first step. I laced up and walked out the door. It wasn’t the smoothest transition but it was a start. Everything needs a starting point.

Support: Include others in your goals. I’m a very introverted person. I don’t really like to share too much of myself with others. I decided to keep my fitness attempts quiet until people started noticing. However, I believe that this was a mistake. If I had other people to hold me accountable to the things I was committing to who knows what could have happened. Maybe you are already doing this in your life now, but this is definitely a change I need to learn to make in my own life even today.

Challenge your fears: Don’t resist something just because it scares you. This is huge! So huge, in fact, it is almost a life principle for me now. I tend to be a very conservative person that likes to shy away from things outside my comfort zone. This doesn’t tend to leave much room for personal growth. A few years ago I began forcing myself through those uncomfortable scary things and found the amazing rewards on the other side. Training for a intimidating event or putting yourself in a new place of responsibility can indeed be scary. However, I’m trying to learn from the things that scare me. When I get the sense that something intimidates me, it is usually a sign that is the right thing for me to do.

(photo by GioPhotos)

Pump It Up: Eleven Tips for Exercising Regularly

Exercise is one of the keys to happiness. Research shows that people who exercise are healthier, more energetic, think more clearly, sleep better, and have delayed onset of dementia. They get relief from anxiety and mild depression, comparable to medication and therapy. They perform better at work.

Also, although it’s tempting to flop down on the couch when you’re feeling exhausted, exercise is actually a great way to boost energy levels. Feeling tired is a reason to exercise, not a reason to skip exercise.

But even when you admit that you’d feel better if you exercised, it can be very hard to adopt the habit. My idea of fun has always been to lie in bed and read, preferably while also eating a snack, but I’ve managed to keep myself exercising by using all these tricks on myself:

1. Always exercise on Monday. This sets the psychological pattern for the week. Along those lines …

2. If at all possible, exercise first thing in the morning. As the day wears on, you’ll find more excuses to skip exercising. Get it checked off your list, first thing.

3. Never skip exercising two days in a row. You can skip a day, but the next day, you must exercise, no matter how inconvenient.

4. Give yourself credit for the smallest effort. My father always said that all he had to do was put on his running shoes and close the door behind him. Many times, by promising myself I could quit ten minutes after I’d started, I got myself to start—and then found that I didn’t want to quit, after all.

5. Think about context. I thought I disliked weight training, but in fact, I dislike the guys who hang out in the weight-training area. Are you distressed about the grubby showers in your gym? Do you try to run in the mornings, but recoil from going out in the cold? Examine the factors that might be discouraging you from exercising.

6. Exercise several times a week. If your idea of exercise is to join games of pick-up basketball, you should be playing practically every day. Twice a month isn’t enough.

7. If you don’t have time to both exercise and take a shower, find a way to exercise that doesn’t require you to shower afterward. Twice a week, I have a very challenging weight-training session, but the format I follow doesn’t make me sweat. (Some of you are saying, “It can’t be challenging if you don’t sweat!” Oh yes, believe me, it is.)

8. Look for affordable ways to make exercising more pleasant or satisfying. Could you upgrade to a nicer or more convenient gym? Buy yourself a new iPod? Work with a trainer? Get a pedometer to keep track of your walking distances? Exercise is a high life priority, so this a worthwhile place to spend some money if that helps.

9. Think of exercise as part of your essential preparation for times you want to be in especially fine form—whether in performance (to be sharp for an important presentation) or appearance (to look good for a wedding) or mood (to deal with a stressful situation). Studies show that exercise does help.

10. Remember one of my favorite Secrets of Adulthood, courtesy of Voltaire: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Don’t decide it’s only worth exercising if you can run five miles or if you can bike for an hour. I have a friend who scorns exercise unless she’s training for a marathon—so she never exercises. Even going for a ten-minute walk is worthwhile. Do what you can.

11. Don’t kid yourself. Belonging to a gym doesn’t mean you go to the gym. Having been in shape in high school or college doesn’t mean you’re in shape now. Saying that you don’t have time to exercise doesn’t make it true.

People often ask me, “So if I want to be happier, what should I be doing?” and I always say, “The first thing to do is to make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep and plenty of exercise.”

I know that answer doesn’t sound properly transcendent and high-minded on the subject of happiness, but research shows that you’d be wise to start there. And I’ve found that if I’m feeling energetic and well rested, it’s much easier to follow all my other happiness-inducing resolutions.

Originally published on The Happiness Project

Couple’s Spring Workout

By: Modern Mom

Who doesn’t like to fall in love? There’s nothing like it. But, as moms can attest, over time, couples start packing on the pounds. You’re taking care of the kids, working, and in short, running the entire universe. With so little time, it’s hard to squeeze in exercise, much less find time to work out with your significant other. Whether we like it or not, Spring is right around the corner, and bathing suit season is inching ever closer. That means it’s time to put down that stale box of Valentine’s Day chocolates and do something good for each other and for your family…Get cut not comfortable with the one you love.

I’ve created a routine that’s designed to be done twice each time you hit the gym and four times a week. It will have loved ones back to their pre-relationship bodies in no time. After all a couple that sweats together, stays together.

Cupid Crunches – Targets the Obliques. Man and Woman are on tandem machines. Each person sits on the right outer thigh extending the left leg out. Hook leg under “X” strap. Holding the body bar, extend arms straight above the head lengthening the upper body, focusing on keeping the core engaged and chest open. Slowly extend arms and torso out. Hold for five seconds. Slowly contract and return to starting position. Perform 10 crunches. Alternate sides, doing 10 more crunches. Man and Woman alternate body positioning so they appear to form a T shape.

Lover’s Limbo Crunch – Works the Abs and Quadriceps. Each person sits facing forward on the rear platform of their respective machines keeping the tailbone tucked underneath for lower back support. Hook both feet under the S strap with knees bent towards the chest. Extend arms directly out from the shoulders holding the body bar. Arms should be shoulder width apart, palms facing down. (This is the starting position.) Keeping abs engaged, slowly release the carriage away from the body, keeping the body bar directly in line with the shoulders. and Crunch knees into chest, lifting the upper body to meet the knees. As the upper body returns to the starting position, arms press up above the shoulders reaching towards the ceiling. Focus on keeping the pelvis tucked underneath, protecting the lower back and neutral spine.

Tag Team Tease Him – Works the core with a focus on the Obliques. Woman places hands on the foot bar. Her shoulders are square to the bar. Cross the right foot in front of the left, heel to toe. While slowly releasing the carriage away from the body, keep the pelvis open facing outwards, legs straight, and the spine neutral. Extend legs out to a full side plank position engaging just the right oblique. Continue to keep pelvis open and spine long. Engage triceps to stabilize the upper body. Slowly contract the right oblique, keeping the pelvis open, and raise the hips towards the ceiling folding in half. Perform 10 reps. Alternate sides, placing left foot in front of the right. (This exercise is compatible with all Pilates machines.)

Tag Team Tease Her – Works the Obliques. The Real Ryder has a unique, articulating frame that allows it to steer, turn, and feel like a road bike. That side-to-side motion requires constant shifts of balance – continuous adjustments and corrections that correspond to a rider’s movements on the road while encountering wind shifts, obstacles, and banked and curving surfaces. While the woman is on the Megaformer, the man is on the Real Ryder Bike (or other stationary bicycle). If using a Real Ryder, he will steer and cycle to the right, holding that position for one minute. After one minute, he will repeat, steering and cycling to the left. Cadence should be between 80-110 rpms, using moderate resistance. After a total of six minutes (three minutes on each side), man and woman tag team and switch exercises. If a Real Ryder is not available, each person should ride for a total of six minutes using moderate resistance and at a speed of 80-110rpms.

Love in an Elevator Lunge -Works the Glutes and the Hamstrings. Woman places right foot on platform and left foot approximately six inches from the front of the carriage. Keeping the left leg straight, push the carriage back by bending the right leg, keeping the knee over the ankle and the knee stationary throughout the exercise. Bring the carriage back in by pressing through the right heel engaging the right glute and hamstring as the body returns to its starting position. Throughout the move focus on keeping the core engaged, the upper body tall, and the chest open, stabilizing the upper body. For a more intense exercise, the woman can hold 4lbs dumbbell weights giving the option to perform a variety of exercises like bicep curls, upright rows, shoulder presses, or lateral raises. Alternate legs. Perform 10 reps on each side.

Simultaneously, the man stands at the rear of the machine facing forward with 8-10lb dumbbells in each hand. As the woman lunges back on the carriage, the man stands with feet shoulder width apart and steps forward with the right leg. He bends the right knee in a lunge position at the same time the woman is lunging (cheek to cheek). He then presses through the right heel, engaging the right glute, hamstring, and quadriceps, right leg pressing back and returns to starting position. Alternate legs. Perform 10 reps on each side.

Couples Spoon with Tricep Dips – Works the Triceps and lower Abs. The man and women are on tandem machines. Each person puts their hands on the bars on either side of their respective machines. Both start with legs straight out in front of them. Each of them presses up off the bar, squeezing the shoulder blades, and keeping the chest open. Lift hips up into a pike position, using the lower abs and triceps for stabilization. Slowly release from pike position, keeping the legs tight, bending the elbows into 90 degree angles while keeping the shoulder blades squeezed together and chest open. Hold for four seconds. Press up for four seconds back into pike position. Repeat 10 times.

Push-Ups – Works the Big Muscle Groups: the back, core, glutes, chest, and quads. Get into Plank position holding bars with arms out to 90 degree angles. Keeping core engaged and spine neutral, slowly bend elbows lifting body up and down. Perform 10 reps.

Ahh…ain’t love grand?

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Baby, It’s Too Cold Outside: Five Ways to Get Fired up about Fitness this Winter


Written by Shoshana Pritzker Friday, 05 November 2010 18:05

It’s oh-so-cold out, and if you’re feeling (and looking) bulkier than ever in layers upon layers of sweaters and coats, you’re not alone. Not to worry. Dr. Lavinia Rodriguez, author of Mind Over Fat Matters, offers five simple steps for shaking the cold and getting fit this winter.

Tampa, FL (November 2010)—With the temperatures plummeting this time of year, it seems the opportunities to exercise are just as bleak as the weather forecast. Days full of rushing to holiday parties, shopping for friends and family, and nights curled up by the fire take over during the chillier months. This time of year presents the perfect excuse to indulge in delicious comfort foods and slack off on even the best-laid plans for exercising. “Winter is one of the most difficult seasons to stay committed to an active, healthy lifestyle,” advises Dr. Lavinia Rodriguez, author of Mind Over Fat Matters: Conquering Psychological Barriers to Weight Management.  “But just because it is cold outside is not a valid excuse to stop exercising. The key is to infuse exercise into your day-to-day activities.” So while it is easy to stay all bundled up nice and cozy indoors, you have to find the right motivation to keep up a healthier lifestyle. It is virtually impossible to keep up the same routine from the summer, and even demoralizing if you try. Instead, finding hidden incentive in the joy of the season is the best way to keep your spirits and motivation high. Read on for some of Dr. Rodriguez’s best tips for staying motivated:

Hibernating is just for the bears.
When we’re cold, we tend to want to just curl up with a blanket and relax. The season is filled with some of the best-tasting snacks, from eggnog and chili to cookies and chocolate. But these comfort foods can quickly result in a bit of a winter bulge. As soon as the winter coats and sweaters come off, you’ll wish you had showed more restraint.   “Exercising in the cold weather not only burns fat while you’re exercising,” encourages Dr. Rodriguez, “it also motivates you to be active instead of being a couch potato. Keep in mind that every opportunity to move should be capitalized on. Even something as simple as going to the mall to shop for gifts can be exercise. Finding ways to fit exercise into your daily life is key!”

Turn up your internal heater.
The long (well, not really so long) walk from the car to the gym seems almost unbearable in the blustery winter winds. And the thought of changing clothes in the chilly gym locker room, accompanied by the presence of running shorts, is almost too much to stomach.  “Don’t forget that exercise actually warms you up,” explains Dr. Rodriguez. “Think of your red cheeks and glistening forehead as an indicator that your body temperature is rising. Being inactive will only perpetuate the chilliness of the season.”

Maintain a glass-half-full mentality.
In the dead of winter, the sunny days of summer may seem ages away. But soon enough you’ll be packing shorts and bathing suits for long, hot vacations. Just think about how much slimmer you’ll be when the weather warms up if you maintain a healthy lifestyle all year long. You’ll be beach body-ready long before Memorial Day.  “Summer is a big motivator for slimming down,” says Dr. Rodriguez, “but don’t wait to start slimming down in the summer months! Winter is actually a great time to experiment at the gym with new workout routines. Most people tend to quit working out in the cold weather, so take advantage of all the classes and equipment that’s usually reserved.”

Walk it out (snow boots optional!).
If you take a trip to the mall or even a brisk walk around the neighborhood, don’t forget that every step counts. Yes, while going to the gym and engaging in rigorous exercise is great, it’s not always feasible. Start keeping count of your steps with a pedometer and challenge yourself to be more active. Ask for a pedometer this holiday season or even sneak and buy one for yourself! “Wearing a pedometer motivates you to take more steps daily,” says Dr. Rodriguez. “Set a goal and gradually increase your steps to 10,000 per day if possible. Turning exercise into an enjoyable part of your day will greatly increase your odds of living a healthy lifestyle all year long.”

Welcome the winter wonderland.
Think of all the fun winter activities you used to do as a kid—sledding, skiing, and ice skating, just to name a few. Who says you have to stop enjoying winter just because you’re an adult? Plan a weekend ski trip with your girlfriends or go caroling in your neighborhood. The options are endless for winter fun. “Winter has a lot of special activities that you’re not able to do year-round,” says Dr. Rodriguez. “Think of all the winter traditions you can start or continue with your family and friends just by finding ways to have fun outside. If you’re having fun, it’s like you’re not exercising.” “Motivating yourself in the winter is as simple as embracing the colder temperatures and using them to your advantage,” advises Dr. Rodriguez. “The key is to find fun and easy ways to stop the weather and shorter days of the season from being a deterrent to your healthy lifestyle.”

Your Fitness: 5 Tips for Getting Your Rear in Gear (and Stop Procrastinating Exercise!)


From Glamour Health and Fitness

Gals, how’s your motivation on the fitness front lately? Are you keeping up with your exercise goals? Nixing the inner naysayer (“it’s too cold,” “I’m too tired,” etc, etc.)? Need a little inspiration? I have two fitness experts here today to help us rally…


Today we hear from the fabulous Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea, fitness experts and authors of the terrific new book Run Like a Mother: How to Get Moving and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity (a terrific read even if you’re not a mother). Take it away, ladies!

“Exercise motivation: You can’t buy it online or order it from QVC. You can’t borrow it from your downstairs neighbor,” write Dimity and Sarah. “You can’t inherit it from an aunt. Nope, motivation is a DIY thing. To get you started, here are five tools to craft your own workout inspiration.”

1. An alarm clock.
We admit it sucks to get up at ridiculous:30 to sweat. But there are two reasons we do it. First, when you get it done first-thing, nothing else in the day—not a demanding boss, a sick kid, an urgent glass of pinot grigio with a recently dumped girlfriend—can interfere with it. You’re done. Second, exercise produces endorphins, natural chemicals on par with opiates. So when you have to answer to your task-master boss, soothe your pukey kid, or console your sobbing friend, you feel up for the challenge.

2. Another body.
Ideally, you have a girlfriend you can meet at the gym for a Spinning class, on a neighborhood corner for a run, or at a yoga studio for a little ohm-time. Her presence will give you the oomph you need to get there: You might pass on exercise, but you won’t stand up a girlfriend. If that’s not an option, a personal trainer also works, although you’ll pay to play there. Last resort: a boyfriend or husband who kicks you out of bed. (We find sleeping in a ratty tee and granny-undies makes kicking out, rather than sucking in, more likely.)

3. Your mind.
When the alarm blares, I—Dimity—slap it off. And then I immediately think, “Not gonna do this. Not gonna go.” Lately, though, after my knee-jerk “No way,” I force myself to visualize myself in the last mile of a run, coming home. My body is the groove, my head is clear, and the hardest work of the day is done. Mentally transporting myself to the end of the workout, rather than holding a woe-is-me pity party, gets me up and moving for real.

4. A streamlined plan.
You’ve read it before: Map out your weekly workouts, just as you would meetings and therapy sessions. That works, but take it a step further. If you’re going early in the morning, lay out your clothes, iPod, pre-workout banana, water bottle, and anything else you need to get it done. Every time I—Sarah—skip this step, I talk myself out it: Not only do I have to heave kettlebells for 60 minutes, but I have to dig out clean workout clothes, find my gym membership card, fill up my water bottle, and make sure I don’t get woozy in class. Thanks, but no.

5. An attainable goal—and prizes along the way.
The intimidating goal of losing 30 pounds probably won’t get you to the gym. But breaking it up—losing 5 pounds, six times—doesn’t seem so unattainable. Similarly, a marathon might feel harder than rebuilding Haiti, but getting through a 5k (3.1 miles) or a 10k (6.2 mi.) is more doable. As you work toward the goals, reward yourself with a new pair of biker boots, a matinee date with a girlfriend you haven’t seen in months (go to the gym before the movie, natch), or a kissable lip gloss.

iPod WorkOut PlayList

Photo from

iPod WorkOut MixTape..

50 Things to Put You in an Instant Good Mood

by Mikki Halpin

Glamour Health and Fitness

Your Get-Happy Checklist

These research-backed mood boosters come straight from your friends in white lab coats. They know what works!


Why is this our first tip? Because it’s the number-one secret experts give for getting happier, fast. Some studies say it’s just as good as antidepressants! Even a single workout (cardio, strength training, yoga—take your pick) can give you a boost, relieving stress and releasing feel-good endorphins. For motivation, call your gym bag your “happy bag.”

Eat Breakfast

It will prevent grumpiness and help you perform. No, a single cup of coffee (or tea or soda) does not count.

Speak Up

“Being assertive enhances self-confidence and shuts down feelings of helplessness,” says Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., the author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. Plus, there’s that little perk of actually getting what you want!

Do Less

“So many people think, If I do more, then I’ll be happier,” says celebrity life coach Sherri Ziff Lester. “There’s too much doing. We need to do more nothing—just take time to be.”

Focus on Making Memories

Researchers found that 57 percent of people reported they were happier when they spent money on an experience (like a vacation or a class), while only 34 percent reported being happier after buying stuff.

Go Outside

Remember that big room? With the blue roof and the fresh air? Sometimes the floor is green? Just five minutes walking in the great outdoors has beneficial effects. Notice we said “walking,” not “walking and texting.”

Hug It Out

“It’s critical to have some kind of physical affection in your life,” says psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., author of The How of Happiness. “It doesn’t have to be a hug. It’s about the power of touch.”

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