Healthy Byte: Day 1060

Healthy living shouldn’t always mean an either / or scenario.

The holidays – the time of joy, cheer, and weight gain. As we have all been repeatedly conditioned to believe, the holiday weight saboteur proves to be a formidable foe even to those who are most disciplined. Or does it?  

It occurred to me that there are many very popular myths out there which has been passed around for ages by traditionally reliable news outlets. But this is why I am prone to conduct my own research because many times it’s the only way to discern fact from fiction.

One of the most notorious is of course the weight the average person gains from the holidays. What is fact? What is fiction? Here, let’s take a look based on a published study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

The Myth: Average person gains 7-10 lbs over the holiday season.

The Facts: The average person, based on year 2000 study published in the NEJM  indicates that the average weight gain between November to January is less than 1 pound! (Shocked?)

Interesting Findings to Keep in Mind:

  • Participants’ perceived weight gain was far greater than actual weight gain.
  • The more overweight a participant (based on BMI categories: Not Overweight; Overweight; or Obese) was at the beginning of the study the “greater likelihood of gaining … with increasing degree of overweight.” So if one was already overweight, their chances of gaining weight also increases. (Not new fact)
  • Two predictive factors for holiday weight gain should be no surprise – Perceived Hunger and Change in Activities Level. “Those who reported being much more active or much less hungry since their last visit had the greatest weight loss; conversely, those reporting being much less active or much more hungry since their last visit gained the most over the holiday interval.” (If we eat more and is less active … ahhm yea we’re going to gain weight / fat)

Study Conclusion Formal: “In contrast to the common perception that weight increases during the winter holiday season, the measured weight of the vast majority of subjects in this study changed little between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. The subjects believed they had gained four times as much weight as their actual holiday weight gain of 0.37 kg. Fewer than 10 percent of subjects gained 2.3 kg or more, and more than half of all measurements of weight after the initial one were within 1 kg of the previous measurement. Thus, despite the fact that 85 percent of the study subjects made no effort to control their weight, large weight gains over the winter holiday season were not the norm. Unfortunately, we also found that the 0.18-kg average weight gain during the fall preholiday period and the 0.37-kg increase during the holiday season were largely maintained during the postholiday winter period from January to February or March, resulting in a net average weight gain of 0.48 kg. In subjects who completed one year of observation, the weight increased by an average of 0.32 kg during the holiday period and 0.62 kg over the entire year, suggesting that the period contributing most to yearly weight change is the six-week holiday period.”

Study Conclusion Cliff Notes:

  1. The average person do gain (< 1 lb) the most during the holidays but nowhere near (7-10 lbs) the widely perpetuated myth claims.
  2. If we maintain the healthy habits (eating & activities level) we do the rest of the year the forecasted holiday weight gain doom is one of the biggest fibs which continues to be  irresponsibly circulated.

My Personal Add-On: I’d almost add in the possibility of the placebo effect. If we are lead to believe that we will gain weight over the holidays than how many of us tend to unconsciously toss in the towel and just embrace what seem to be inevitable?

Holiday Eating Tip

Practicing 90/10 Rule for me is my ticket to mindfully indulge guilt free. It’s wonderful not to be bothered by the glaring red warnings which MFP dutifully affords me.

Do I indulge? Dang skippy!

Usually every November time frame the cult favorite McRib hits local McDonalds. And I am usually the first in line ordering 2 to 3 at a time. I load it with veggies to psychologically trying to make it more ‘healthy’ but I know it’s negligible. I enjoy the crap out of it while it’s here and once its gone I move on.

Day 1060 27Nov2015 MFP Overages

My Thanksgiving Overages – Multiple servings of Apple Pies w/Ice Cream adds up quickly. Thank goodness once its enjoyed it’s gone – no lingering leftover temptations to contend with. 🙂

Day 1060 28Nov2015 MFP Overages

ahhhhh the McRib!! 🙂 The “If every day were” like reminder is a great way to put indulgences into perspectives for me because it is not my ‘every day.’

My other holiday must-have is warm apple pie and vanilla ice cream. Nothing says holidays to me more than cold vanilla ice cream melting over a piping hot slice of apple pie! Instead of buying an entire pie & a gallon of ice cream, I opt to purchase an individual portion of apple pie and ice cream cup. I reap all the benefits of the indulgence but the portion is controlled for me – best of both worlds. And like the McRib, once it’s gone, it’s gone. No week-long leftovers to tempt me.

day 1060

So my tip is – indulge away. Control the portion when possible. Add in the healthy when possible. And log it all in and don’t be afraid of giving yourself permission to enjoy … as long as it is truly an occasional occurrence it will not have any long term detrimental effects on our quests for healthy living.

Other Myths Busted:

Freshman 15 

Holiday Fitness Myths 

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Healthy Byte: Gym Free, Equipment Free, Exercise Anywhere

2015 11-27p

ahhhh all the turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce is sitting merrily in the tummy. And the thought of hitting the gym is far from everyone’s mind. But luckily, you don’t need a gym to experience a great workout. These exercises, recommended by fitness expert and celebrity trainer Amy Dixon, will hit every single muscle in your body and slash fat — without any equipment. So what are you waiting for? All you need are these exercises and YOU!

Turns out to get the best workout of the week, you don’t even have to leave the house. (GIFs by Demand Studios)

You don’t need a gym to experience a great workout. These 10 exercises, recommended by fitness expert and celebrity trainer Amy Dixon, will hit every single muscle in your body and slash fat – without any equipment. So what are you waiting for? 

9. Bicycle Crunch

Bicycle Crunch
Bicycles create fire in the core because they require deep abdominal stabilization and rotation. They have also have been proven to activate more muscle fibers in the rectus abdominus and obliques than a standard crunch.

19. Frog Jumps

Frog Jumps
This exercise adds an element of power in the lower body that will get your heart rate up for a cardiovascular benefit and define the muscles in your lower body. Start in an athletic squat position and push off of your heels and jump up, land and immediately sink back down into a squat position and jump again.

12. Burpee

Burpee
The great thing about burpees is that they combine cardio and strength into one exercise. A burpee is a complex, total-body exercise that will work your upper and lower body at the same time with a strong focus on the core. For an added cardio punch, add a tuck jump into the mix before the squat.

11. Side Lunge

Side Lunge
Most people only exercise in two planes: up and down or forward and back. That’s what makes side lunges so effective – they train you laterally. This lunge variation is a great addition to any conditioning plan because it will challenge your muscle fibers, tendons and ligaments in a different movement pattern. To make this exercise more challenging, add a side leg lift to the equation and feel your core kick in, too.

7. Single-Leg Squat

Single-Leg Squat
This is one of the best exercises for you quads, hamstrings, glutes and core, and it’s one of the most challenging balancing exercises. Stand on one leg with opposite foot in front of you, and without setting the front foot on the floor, bend the standing leg and lower down into a squat. You can have your arms straight out in front of you for balance. Pause, then return to the start. Do all reps, and then switch legs and repeat.

Lunge
Start with your feet together and arms resting comfortably by your sides. Step forward with your right foot and lower your body until your front knee is at 90 degrees and your back knee is not touching the floor. Then, to complete the exercise, push off your front right foot while straightening your left leg. Keep your right foot off of the floor and balance with your right thigh parallel to the floor.

Push-Up
This is one of the best upper body exercises because it works everything – your chest, your back, your arms and even your abs! Make sure your shoulders line up with your wrists and you tuck your elbows in toward your side (so don’t flare your elbows out wide). Try to get your chest and hips as close to the floor as possible without touching.

Tuck Jump
The tuck jump is an extremely powerful and fun exercise that will help you strengthen your entire body including your heart. It is also a wonderful way to improve your agility, power and increase your ability to jump higher.

Plie Squat
For this lower-body blaster, start with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart with your toes pointed outward. Lower down into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Push back up to a standing position.

Lying Hip Raise
The lying hip raise (also called a bridge) will strengthen your glutes and hamstrings, while also working your abdominals, back and inner thighs. For a fun variation, lift your hips with your feet flat on the floor and slowly extend one leg up the sky.

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte Special Holiday Edition: Smaller Plates for a Smaller Waistline

2015 11-25 Feat laurawallstaylorEtsy Shop

Etsy Shop: laurawallstaylor

Be more like picky Goldilocks and you may very well not need the typical New Year’s resolution to lose the holiday weight. The strategy is far simpler than one may think.

New research carried out by University of Cambridge has produced the most conclusive evidence to date that the giant plates and super-sized silverware secretly encourage us to overeat and over-drink.

Researchers compiled data from 61 studies that analyzed the behaviors of 6,711 volunteers. And what they found was that men and women “consistently” consumed extra-big portions when offered more heaping servings on larger plates or in larger glasses compared to when they were offered meals and drinks on a smaller scale. Therefore, the study experts have concluded if people simply reduced their portion size on a regular basis, this one lifestyle change could reduce an average daily food intake up by 22 percent—and as much as up to 29 percent—among American adults.

Co-author Dr. Gareth Hollands, a health psychologist from the Behaviour and Health Research Unit at Cambridge, says the obesity crisis is “far more complex” than blaming someone’s lack of self-control around food. “Our findings highlight the important role of environmental influences on food consumption,” he states in a formal press release.“Helping people to avoid ‘overserving’ themselves or others with larger portions of food or drink by reducing their size, availability and appeal in shops, restaurants and in the home, is likely to be a good way of helping lots of people to reduce their risk of overeating.“

Furthermore, he offers a few ways the food companies and decision-makers can potentially help downsize this ongoing issue. For example, restricting price promotions on larger-size items, offering smaller size items for a better value, as well as store managers placing larger-size foods in less convenient locations throughout the stores.

But how can consumers start cutting back on their portions at home? “Begin by downsizing your plates,” Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, nutrition consultant and author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies, tells Yahoo Health. “A plate under nine inches is the best way to help prevent overeating.” She also advises filling half of a smaller dish with non-starchy vegetables, which “will allow your plate to still look full with much fewer calories.”

Also, leave the enormous bowls and platters in the cabinet. “I recommend my patients do not leave the food on the table, such as serving food family style,” she explains. “When it is out in front of you, you are more inclined to pick, take seconds and eat more with your eyes over your stomach. Instead, fill your dish and leave the food out of sight when eating.”

When it comes to the do’s and don’ts of grocery shopping, Palinski-Wade advises going for the snack and dessert items—even the healthy ones—that are packaged in individual portion sizes. However, if the big bags are more economically priced, then make your own one-size servings at home. “Invest in small portioned plastic, glass containers, etc. to easily divide out portions, whether snacks or meals,” she says.

And most of all, do not head to the supermarket when you’re hangry or even “just” hungry. “When this happens, you end up with too many of the wrong types of food and often start snacking as you are unloading the groceries.”

Originally Posted HERE

Feature Art: GlenArthurArt.com

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Healthy Byte: Balance is Key

80 20 principle dietAs Thanksgiving lurks around the corner and for many, the start of the holiday season is when most people gain the most weight, only to follow by yet another New Year resolution.

But there is a far better way to enjoy the holidays without it being at the expense of health and nutrition. The key is 80/20 Rule.

I often mention that you should try and eat healthy (whole foods, lots of veggies, protein, avoiding too many processed carbs) 80% of the time.

In fact, it’s stated right in the 12 Minute Athlete food philosophy. And it falls right in line with the 80/20 principle of eating.

But what exactly does the 80/20 rule mean? Let’s break it down:

It means that you don’t have to cook every meal at home.

You know as well as I do that it’s way easier to follow a 100% healthy diet when cooking your own meals.

Cooking at homes means you know exactly what goes in your food—how much oil, butter, how many carbs, etc. And it’s about a thousand times easier to figure out your portion sizes as well.

Yet I don’t know about you, but I like eating out. I happen to be lucky enough to live in San Francisco, a mecca of awesome restaurants and new places to check out. I like having other people cook for me. And I get joy out of finding new places to eat and exploring the city.

And while I do try and cook my own meals the majority of the time, I typically eat out anywhere around two to five times a week. Some of my meals out are similar to what I’d make at home—salads, veggie-heavy meals, burrito bowls (I’m a huge fan of these). And some of them are a little more indulgent—trying out a great new pizza place, sharing really yummy Indian food with friends, having delicious, carb-heavy pasta on a special occasion or just to end a tough week.

And as long as I don’t eat out too often, I’ve stopped feeling guilty about these meals. And you should too.

Because what do we work so hard for in our workouts, if not to enjoy ourselves in life?

It means that on birthdays/holidays/special occasions you can have a piece of cake.

One of the hardest things about trying to eat healthy is those times—whether it’s your nephew’s birthday party, Thanksgiving dinner, or your best friend’s wedding, when it just feels wrong not to indulge just a little. And whether it’s a glass of champagne, a piece of cake, or both, it’s easy to feel like you’re completely ruining your diet if you have even just one bite.

But if you’re living by the 80/20 principle, this becomes completely unnecessary. Because as long as you’re not out indulging in cake and other yummy treats too often, and eating healthy the rest of the time, you’ll be totally fine.

I used to obsess over every single calorie at special occasions—avoiding pumpkin pie (my favorite) at Thanksgiving, Christmas cookies around the holidays, dessert at parties. I thought that if I did indulge, my entire diet would go to shit and I’d immediately gain 20 pounds.

Once I realized that was actually impossible, I started giving myself a little more flexibility in those situations—knowing that once the party/vacation/holiday was over, I’d naturally go back to eating healthy. I can’t tell you how much happier and less bitter this has made me over the years.

It means you’re building a lifestyle, not just following a diet.

Most people who start diets inevitably fail.

Diets aren’t sustainable. They’re based on restriction and denying yourself your favorite foods. They’re boring, and too often than not, based on the latest fad decided by the health and fitness industry.

What I want you to build, on the other hand, is a healthy lifestyle. I want you to start listening to your body, to realize that it actually craves protein and salads and sweet potatoes, not a 1,500 calorie hamburger. I want you to start relishing the taste of fresh strawberries, to experiment with new flavors and tastes, to order a kale salad instead of french fries at a restaurant not because you feel like you have to, but because it just sounds better.

And if you give up dieting, and focus on building a healthy lifestyle instead, you’ll get there, sooner or later.

Because as crazy as it might sound to you now, once your body starts getting used to eating adequate protein, fresh veggies, less grains… once it gets used to cutting out processed foods, not drinking soda, minimizing sugar… once you get used to feeling energized and pumped for your workouts… you won’t want to go back.

And then, when you have a cookie here and there, or a few too many chips, it’s just not a big deal. You’ll enjoy every bite—but then you’ll want to go back to your healthy meals.

It’s all about allowing yourself little indulgences here and there, so you don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself of every food you’ve ever loved.

It means you don’t have to be perfect 100% of the time.

Nobody’s perfect. And you might as well accept right now that you’re not either.

So while it’s a good idea to aim to eat healthy 100% of the time by not buying unhealthy foods, cooking at home when you can, and choosing smart when you’re eating out, you should expect to go off course at times.

In fact, allowing yourself a little give in your diet is actually a good thing. Because not only will eating perfect 100% of the time make you feel bitter about life, it’ll also make it more likely that you’ll go on a binge eating fest when your willpower is at its lowest and chow down on anything you can get your hands on.

Perfection is what leads people off course. It’s what makes you down that entire bag of chips and pint of ice cream because all you’ve eaten is carrots and boiled chicken for days.

Don’t aim to be perfect. Aim to be pretty good, the majority of the time. That’s the best you can hope for.

Balance is key

In life and nutrition, it’s all about finding a balance. Because as much as you know that proper nutrition will get you the body you want, boost your performance and allow you to live a long, healthy, active life, you also want to be able to just live.

And the 80/20 principle allows you to do that.

Because while you should always aim to eat healthy most of the time, aiming for about 80% of the time gives you that wiggle room every sane person needs to still enjoy themselves.

It’s what allows you to go to a party and have something other than water. To be able to go to a Mexican restaurant and try the chips everyone raves about. To go to Paris and eat a croissant for breakfast instead of your usual protein shake.

It means you don’t have to obsess about every morsel of food you eat. It allows you to try new things and be adventurous. And most of all, it gives you freedom.

And that’s what life is all about.

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: Surprising Benefit of Moving More & Sitting Less

Phoebe Lapine challenged herself to move for 30 minutes a day for the month of July — and the benefits weren’t just physical! (Photo courtesy of Phoebe Lapine)

Who wouldn’t benefit from a little less sitting and a little more moving?

Phoebe Lapine, a food writer, chef, and creator of Feed Me Phoebe, challenged herself to make movement a priority for 30 minutes a day for the entire month of July. It’s all part of her “Wellness Project,” which involves taking on a new health- or beauty-related challenge each month. (You can also read about her month without alcohol, sugar, and caffeine, her time spent without a microwave, and how she beat her back pain by making a point to stand more.)

Phoebe shared with Yahoo Health the most surprising benefit of her commitment to move during July, as well as what she realized she likes — and dislikes — about group fitness classes. And for the full recap, be sure to click over to Feed Me Phoebe.

YAHOO HEALTH: Why did you choose moving for 30 minutes a day to be your July challenge? 

PHOEBE LAPINE: I’ve talked before about how I’ve had issues with back pain, and what a journey it’s been for me to try to combat some of that pain naturally through exercise. One of my past Wellness Project challenges was to actually strengthen my core. In doing so, I gained back a bit of my confidence when it comes to exercise. But if the first part of my exercise challenge was making room for movement again in my life, the second part would have to be leaning into my discomfort and fears around physical activity. And that would involve seeing what all the crazy fitness junkies in New York have been up to all these years.

YH: Were there any surprising benefits from making movement a priority, aside from the typical body-boosting effects of exercise? 

PL: The challenge made me work walking breaks into my workday in the same way I would have lunch. And those walks ended up being more productive than I had ever given them credit for.

When I was down in Tennessee at a writer’s colony, for lack of any other healthy form of distraction or procrastination, I would end up taking a daily walk around 4 p.m. to clear my head and get my legs moving. I usually returned to my desk a lot more focused than when I left. I worried though that the frenetic energy of the city, plus my tendency to walk with phone in hand, wouldn’t have the same effect once back home. Studies have shown how mid-day walking can be a meditative experience that reduces work time stress and promotes productivity. But I wondered: how much of that positive impact was the movement and how much was the fresh air?

I did find my daily walking breaks to be similarly rejuvenating in New York City, even if the fresh air was slightly smoggier than when I was in the woods down South. In fact, one of my favorite parts of this 30 minutes of movement experiment was that I did a lot more outdoor activities versus formal exercise. And I think the extra vitamin D was just as worthwhile as the added endorphins from sprinting on a stationary bike for an hour. Plus, it was a lot more efficient for my schedule and left me feeling less guilty than if I had scooted away from my desk for 2 hours to do burpees in a hot crowded room.

YH: As part of your challenge, you also made it your mission to try a new workout class each week (by signing up for ClassPass). Did you find a class you ended up loving? 

PL: To help me stay committed for this part of the challenge, I tried to partner with a workout buddy. But finding someone whose schedule and fitness level matched my own was hard! My friend Sarah was the best candidate in terms of mid-day availability, but after I accompanied her to an SLT class, which turned out to be Pilates on crack, I realized I was way out of my league. Still, I got dragged to other experiences with various friends. I tried 305 fitness during a bachelorette weekend, which was another humbling physical experience, as the class involved two of the things I suck most at: coordinated dance and cardio. I also tried hip-hop moves (and trampolining) during Bari, and also gave The Class a shot (it’s a mix of interval training and aerobic mat work, mixed with motivational instruction and emotional catharsis — achieved by encouraging people to break through their psychological barriers by yelling).

However, none of these above-mentioned classes were the perfect fit for me. The class I liked best — and will probably return to, now that my July challenge is over — is Barre3, where I felt encouraged by the instructor/owner Sadie Lincoln as I alternated between squats and bar planks.

YH: Is there something you’ve learned about your personal fitness philosophy after trying out all these fitness classes?

PL: I could go on and on about some of my experiences in these classes, and I do have the desire to keep trying more through my ClassPass membership. But I think I’ve discovered so far that these trendy workouts just aren’t for me. I thought I would find a shoe that fit. But I think I’m just a simpleton who likes yoga and pilates, walking and biking.

Despite my hating, now that I’ve had a week to cool down, I must say that my body feels pretty great! And I definitely successfully jumped many mental hurdles. If I can survive mega reformers, trampolines, dance routines and lady viking battle cries, then I’m pretty sure my mind and body are ready for anything.

Originally Posted HERE

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