Healthy Byte: Tips from Long Term Maintainers

In the health world, we’re typically inundated with research on the best ways to lose weight, from nutrition advice to fitness tips. But what if we knew the secrets to never gaining it in the first place? What if we just focused on how to stay at a healthy weight?

Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, author of Slim by Design, and Yahoo Health Advisory Board Member, and his team of researchers at Cornell Food and Brand Lab are launching the Global Healthy Weight Registry in January to gather information and discover the secrets of people who have pretty much never gained weight (other than 5 to 10 pounds).

You can join the registry here.

Currently, the National Weight Control Registry, made up of people who had lost 30 pounds and kept it off for three years, provides a wealth of information on weight loss and what makes individuals successful with it long-term. But we don’t hear much about preventing weight gain in the first place, Camille Finn, manager of the Healthy Weight Registry, tells Yahoo Health.

“We need this registry so that we can share the secrets of people who have never been overweight,” Finn explains. “We hope to discover interesting tips and tricks from people who have always been a healthy weight and share those secrets to help others avoid gaining weight.”

So who’s eligible for the registry? Finn breaks it down: “The perfect candidate is someone 18 or older who has maintained a healthy body weight (healthy body mass index) throughout their adult life, and who has not worked with weight counselors or other health professionals regarding their weight in the past.”

If you think you qualify, the next step is to take a questionnaire, which asks a wide range of questions on topics such as what you eat for breakfast, food preferences, cooking secrets, and broader topics such as hobbies and your outlook on life. Once you’re accepted — you’ll be kept anonymous, don’t worry — you’ll be sent updates on new insights and related research papers Wansink’s team publishes. Your only other commitment will be to answer a new set of questions once a year.

‘If you are not eligible, we can still keep you up-to-date on some of our findings when you sign up as a Registry Friend on our website,” Finn explains.

Once the registry gets going, the team will crunch the data in search of commonalities among healthy weight people, says Finn. Then, they’ll share these insights with both the people in the registry and the general public, so that others can apply these tips and tricks to their own lives. “We’ll write academic articles on the results and develop infographics, posts, and tweets, and share them on the website and our social media so that we can help people stay slim.”

The team has created an infographic with some of their preliminary findings on “healthy weight” registrants, which includes some interesting stats: 63 percent eat veggies with dinner every night, 46 percent eat fruit at breakfast, 47 percent never diet, and over 50 percent exercise four or more days per week.

As the registry grows, more insights like these will be revealed and guide useful recommendations that other people can follow to help maintain a healthy weight throughout their lives.

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: Fast Food Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Hitting the Drive Thru

(Photos: Jackie Newgent/

When you need a meal but don’t have time to cook, what do you grab? It can be a delicious dish filled with good nutrition. Simply pick one day a week that you have 20 minutes or so to spare – perhaps Sunday evening – and whip up a meal (or more!) that can be frozen for later. It’s ideal if you need to cook for just one or two; you’ll be able to take the exact serving of what you need out of the freezer. If you’re cooking for four, you’ll also find family-style recipes here. The best part is that all you need to do is put the frozen meal into the oven or microwave, set the timer and go about your business until it’s ready. Then, of course, enjoy!

1. Egg, Spinach and Portobello Breakfast Sandwich
You don’t need to go to a fast-food drive-through window to get a speedy breakfast sandwich. You can head over to your freezer, take out one of these savory goodies and pop it into the microwave for two minutes. Wow, that’s faster than going the fast-food route! Better yet, it’s packed with great taste, balanced nutrition and natural ingredients. Each whole-grain English muffin is spread with goat cheese and stuffed with a scrambled mixture of eggs, portobello mushrooms and baby spinach. It’s an easy way to get veggies in the morning – or any time! CALORIES: 272. Get the recipe here.

2. Cincinnati-Style Veggie Chili Bake (Family-Style)
Every region in the United Sates has its own preferred chili. In Ohio, Cincinnati chili is popular. It’s basically a uniquely spiced, meaty chili served over spaghetti, then topped as you like with Cheddar cheese, beans and onions. This recipe is a better-for-you version. It’s baked with layers of whole-grain penne, Cheddar cheese, red onion and vegetarian chili that’s “spiked” with red wine vinegar, cinnamon, cocoa powder and allspice. It’s an antioxidant winner! And it’s a winner for dinner on any given day because all you need to do is take the dish out of the freezer and bake it. That’s it! CALORIES: 471. Get the recipe here.

3. Vegetarian Stir-Fry Rice Bowl
You can pick up the phone and order Chinese takeout, or you can pull this rice bowl out of the freezer and have a delicious mealtime fix – fast. Instead of greasiness, this colorful vegan bowl is loaded with plant-based delightfulness. Brown rice is combined with orange zest and fresh cilantro. Organic tofu is stir-fried with baby bella mushrooms, red bell peppers and scallions. A savory sauce of tamari and toasted sesame oil scrumptiously brings everything together. Each bowl takes less than five minutes total from freezer to microwave to table! CALORIES: 528. Get the recipe here.

4. Tropical Black Bean, Cheese and Papaya Burrito
This is not your run-of-the-mill burrito. It has a taste of the tropics by way of vitamin C-rich papaya. Each sprouted whole-grain tortilla is also stuffed with baby spinach, black beans, spicy salsa, scallions and fresh cilantro. To bring it all together in a mouthwatering way, don’t leave out the Monterey Jack cheese! From the freezer, each burrito takes only three-and-a-half minutes to heat in the microwave. That’s downright fast! But then it’s time to slow down and savor every bite with a fork and knife. CALORIES: 296. Get the recipe here.


5. Power Pasta Bowl With Turkey-Kale Meatballs
Spaghetti with meatballs is a classic. This pasta bowl takes that classic and kicks it into a trendier place. The meatballs are based on turkey, kale and hemp seeds. The pasta is whole grain. It all goes together to make one great-tasting, nutrient-rich bowl of goodness – and a fun way to get lutein (from kale) and lycopene (from marinara). To prepare, you’ll bake the meatballs while you cook the pasta, toss it all together with a quality marinara sauce, transfer to bowls and freeze. Each bowl will be ready to eat after four minutes in the microwave! CALORIES: 563. Get the recipe here.


Originally Posted HERE

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Wednesday Wisdom

“To do anything in this world worth doing,

we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger,

but jump in and scramble through as well as we can.”

~ Sydney Smith

Healthy Byte: TV Shows Fanning the Flames or Helping?

Personal Note: A lot of overeating or poor eating choices revolves around one’s psyche and ta person’s own emotional  relationship with food. Just because these trainers purposely gain weight it doesn’t necessarily change their personal state of mind in regards to food. For example, if their innate mindset is that food is nothing but fuel for their body then it is quite different from someone who has an emotional attachment to say ice cream when they are upset about something. So although this may allow trainers to be more compassionate towards clients but I wouldn’t say that their journey is anywhere equivalent to someone who is actually obese, overweight, or have grown up with grandma giving them a fresh bake cookie when they’ve had a bad day. Just something to keep in the back of the mind anyways.

Adonis Hill, a trainer on the upcoming show “Fit to Fat to Fit,” went from weighing 217 pounds to 286 pounds by consuming 8,000 calories a day, according to The New York Post. (Photo: A&E)

In the new A&E show Fit to Fat to Fit (premiered Jan. 19), trainers don’t just preach the powers of diet and exercise, they live it with their clients — by throwing their healthy lifestyles out the window, upping their body weight by 40 percent, and then working side-by-side with overweight people to shed pounds together.

But is gaining excessive weight over the course of four months only to lose it again (in four months) healthy? Experts warn against it: “It’s certainly not healthy to put weight on at all, but it’s also not healthy to put weight on really fast,” Charlie Seltzer, MD, a weight-loss expert and Yahoo Health Advisory Board member, tells Yahoo Health.

He also says, though, to take the show with a grain of salt: After all, this kind of setup is for entertainment value — and it’s hard to apply the situation to real life. (Beyond being an actor and needing to drop pounds for a role, when would you purposely gain weight just to lose it in a confined time period?)

That said, the health issues that come from the process are real. For one, according to news reports, the trainers didn’t appear to focus on “quality calories” — which is unhealthy, Rebecca Blake, RD, CDN, the senior director of Clinical Nutrition at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York, tells Yahoo Health. The New York Post reports that Katie Mack, a 29-year-old trainer on the show, ate “high-calorie snacks such as bread with butter; bacon, egg and cheese on a bagel; Ho Hos; and oatmeal creme cookies. She drank lots of high-calorie beer, light-and-sweet coffee and even melted ice cream.”

When you eat this way, you gain fat, not muscle mass, says Blake. This can put you at risk for obesity, which ups your likelihood of suffering from a health condition like hypertension or diabetes.

Katie Mack, a trainer on the upcoming show “Fit to Fat to Fit,” went from weighing 123 pounds to 157 pounds by consuming 4,000 to 5,000 calories a day, according to The New York Post. (Photo: A&E)

Seltzer adds that a bigger waist circumference — which comes hand-in-hand with weight gain — is linked to cardiovascular disease, a decrease in insulin sensitivity (associated with diabetes), more triglycerides in your blood (a type of fat that can increase your risk of heart disease), and an increase in the “bad” LDL cholesterol. The worst part: “These issues don’t necessarily easily reverse themselves when you get back to normal weight,” says Blake.

The other problem? If you’ve been eating clean, you can face a ton of ugly side effects like GI upset and water retention once you start eating unhealthy, says Blake. “You feel like what you’re feeding yourself — not great.”

Check out the trainers’ own reports: Of the diet, Mack told The New York Post: “It was perpetually uncomfortable,” and “I felt like I had some version of a terminal or chronic illness.” Adonis Hill, another trainer on the show who went from weighing 217 pounds to 286 pounds, told The Post: “When I was overweight, there were a lot of things I was fighting, like depression.”

Beyond the physical side effects, though, if you gain weight in such a manner, you start to train your body to want more food, says Blake. Part of that comes down to the way your stomach stretches; part of it is your body learning new (unhealthy) ways of operating. And these habits, she says, take time to nix, too.

Of course, when it comes to shedding the weight, for the most part, losing weight is good for your body, says Seltzer. But he adds: “I would encourage people to have fun watching the show — not to think they would be able to lose weight that quickly.”

 While Blake notes that if you’ve been in excellent shape your whole life (like the trainers), you’re much more likely to be able to bounce back to a healthy weight fairly quickly, actually doing so is not always so easy.

Seltzer says that without an extensive fitness and physiology background, it’d be hard for the average person to see similar weight-loss results. “It’s so hard to do it right anyway,” he says. If you’re trying to drop pounds within a certain amount of time — like on the show — it’s even harder, he says, as specific factors like meal timing become especially important.

There are also dangers to trying to do so. Physically, when you lose weight quickly, you lose more muscle mass and miss out on crucial nutrients because of the giant calorie deficit, says Seltzer.

Your body can also go into starvation mode, says Blake. In this kind of state, your metabolism can be compromised. “Your body starts to ‘hang on’ to calories,” she says. If this happens, it could mean that to maintain a 150-pound weight that you once had, you might need to eat less than you once did.

In fact, trying to move the scale quickly is usually never a good idea. Seltzer says that the faster you lose weight, the more likely you are to gain it back. In part that’s because — in the real world — when people drop pounds too fast, they tend to ignore the underlying issues that made them overweight to begin with.

And for those of us who aren’t in front of the camera, addressing those issues in due time with the appropriate support is the best and healthiest way to attack weight loss.

Originally Posted HERE

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Wednesday Wisdom

“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters.

Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.”

~ Colin Powell,  United States Army General – Retired

Healthy Byte: Resolutions vs Goals for Life


Lose weight. Save more cash. Start hitting the gym. Every year, half the population make New Year’s resolutions like these. Only 8 percent keep them. Even if you nail all of your goals the first week, the successes usually dwindle as January wears on. Clearly, we’re doing it wrong.

The biggest problem is the tendency to shoot for the moon, making lofty, all-or-nothing resolutions without a concrete plan for achieving them. “Typically, they are anemic intentions — weak, vague, general goals that have no power to move us to action,” says Dr. Tim Pychyl, a psychology professor at Carleton University in Canada and author of Solving the Procrastination Puzzle.

The secret to actual, lasting improvement is making small, daily tweaks that build lifelong healthy habits. “Then, when you do those actions, you’ll be making progress on your overall goals,” says Pychyl. “There’s nothing like progress to fuel motivation, self-efficacy, and well-being.”

Cook Dinner Four Times a Week

Sure, it’s faster to order in Thai food or nuke a frozen meal than prep supper from scratch. But what you’re gaining in time, you’re losing in taste, nutrition, and good health. Studies show people who cook most of their meals at home are leaner, have less diabetes, and consume fewer calories, less sugar, and less fat overall — including on the nights they do dine out. Commit to cooking four dinners per week using fresh ingredients. It might seem daunting at first, but there are thousands of healthy, easy recipes online and creative ways to turn one night’s leftovers into the next night’s feast.

Ban Your Phone When You’re Not Alone

There’s no need for a full, week-long technology fast. Instead, limit yourself a little every day. While you’re on a date, at happy hour with co-workers, having Tuesday night dinner, or really any time you’re hanging out with another person, put your phone away. It’s a small piece of sanity that will keep technologies from negatively impacting your mental health. And yes, when your date gets up to use the restroom, keep the phone away — chat up the bartender or check out the wine list instead.

Start Taking Vitamin D

Assuming you eat right and take care of your body, you can do without the thousands of supplements out there. Except for one: vitamin D. Most men don’t spend enough time out in the sun year-round to produce enough D, and it just isn’t found in very many foods. But vitamin D is crucial for your bones, brain, metabolism, and helping you stave off diseases down the road. Take at least 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day — some doctors suggest more like 5,000 IU. You might not feel the difference now, but your old-man self will thank you.

Take the Stairs, Every Time

Climbing stairs instead of riding the elevator is one of the simplest ways to burn bonus calories. But if you make some vague resolution like “I’ll start taking the stairs more often,” you probably won’t. Get specific. Pick a minimum number of floors — 10 is reasonable — that you have to be ascending before you’ll allow yourself to take an elevator. Climbing 10 flights may be a challenge sometimes, but that’s the whole point.

Commit to a Solo Getaway

If you’ve never had the chance — or the gumption — to travel alone, make time for at least one solo trip this year. You can do whatever you want when you want, clear your head, meet random new people, and maybe learn a thing or two about yourself. It doesn’t have to be 10 days hiking in Peru. Even an overnighter to somewhere semi-close can do wonders for body and soul. Drive to a trout stream upstate and stay in a cheap motel nearby. Airbnb a beach house with a killer sunset view, hammock, and blender for margaritas. Or just grab your tent and sleeping bag, get in your car, and see where the road takes you.

Start an Herb Garden

To help you get cooking with fresh ingredients, set up a small in-home herb garden. You can buy a ready-to-go system such as AeroGarden, which will thrive indoors — on a kitchen countertop or even atop the file cabinet. But if you have the space, try potting your own herbs like basil, oregano, rosemary, cilantro, and dill. Basil, specifically, grows like a weed, so clip it regularly, make pesto, keep some in the fridge, and freeze any extra for later.

Send Letters

Are your Facebook friends really wishing you a Happy Birthday, or simply responding to an alert — part of the grand Pavlovian experiment that is social media? In most cases, it’s impossible to tell. But when someone sends a letter — taking the time to write complete thoughts with a pen, seal the envelope, and buy a stamp — the sentiment counts. Try committing to writing one letter a week to an old friend, elderly relative, former colleague, or anyone you wish you saw more often. And when vacationing in the Caribbean or rafting in the Rockies, make a pit stop to buy, scribe, and mail a few postcards.

Shake up Your Lunch Menu

If your go-to lunch is a salad topped with fresh veggies and grilled chicken, congrats, you’ve made a healthy choice. But you can do better. Eating the exact same foods every day, no matter how nutritious, doesn’t provide enough variety to allow your gut microbiome to thrive. These bacteria eat what you eat, so consuming a wide range of foods is the best way to ensure a healthy, diverse collection of microbes, which is crucial to preventing disease-causing systemic inflammation. One study found that people who eat more than 25 different plants per week have healthier microbiomes than those who consume fewer than 10. Since you’re probably already shaking up your dinner routine, focus on lunch. Pack or order something different each weekday, and try a totally different menu the next week.

Make Your Bike Your Most Used Vehicle

Biking  — to work, for groceries, to see the game at a friend’s house, to take your kid to soccer — is the easiest, and by far most fun, healthy habit you can start. Make a pact with yourself to ride once a week. Go somewhere, anywhere, that you otherwise wouldn’t. It will only grow from there.

Quit Soda (Yes, Even as a Mixer)

Sugar-sweetened soft drinks are just about the worst things you can consume. They’re nothing but liquid sugar, enamel-eroding and bone-depleting acid, and a slew of chemicals. But you knew this already. So why the hell are you still drinking soda? Make 2016 the year you finally shake your daily Pepsi habit and trade Jack-and-Cokes for whiskey on the rocks, as it should be. Don’t switch to diet sodas, either. They harm bones and teeth too, and research suggests your body mistakes the artificial sweeteners for sugar, potentially increasing diabetes risk just the same as full-strength sodas.

Work on Your Career, Not Your Job, for One Hour a Week

Your dad may have put in 30 solid years at one company, but the likelihood of being a lifer in today’s world — let alone staying in a single career till you retire — are slim. Even if you have an awesome job now, your company could get bought out next week, your beloved boss might bolt, or your entire industry could evolve in ways you never anticipated. Get ahead of these situations by devoting one hour per week to bolstering your personal brand. Update your resumé, polish your LinkedIn profile, jot down recent work accomplishments while they’re still fresh in your mind, and build that professional website you’ve been meaning to. Also grab coffee with that guy you met at a cocktail party — you never know which casual acquaintances will become key career assets later.

Take More Photos (And Less Selfies)

Take a minute and scroll through your smartphone’s photo library. Does it reflect the good times, great friends, and amazing sights you experienced this past year? Or is it empty or mostly just selfies taken after long, sweaty rides? If you’re not in the habit of snapping photos of family, friends, and awesome events and scenery, start now. You’ll be thankful you captured those memories later. There’s nothing wrong toting along an old-school camera, either. That said, don’t get so snap-happy that you forget to be present. Make sure you actually take in the concert, game, or sunset and don’t become that annoying dude holding his smartphone high above his head the whole time, elbowing out his date and blocking everyone else’s view.

Free Yourself from Work

Back in the day, men clocked out, came home, enjoyed dinner with the family, and forgot about work. Weekends were spent tinkering in the garage and grilling steaks, and vacations were never interrupted by email. We all know that’s no longer the norm. It’s on you to make it stop. Silence your phone during dinner, and power down your laptop after you’ve checked email so that any new incoming messages won’t draw your attention away from family time. Make it clear to your co-workers that any snags that arise while you’re vacationing can wait until you return.

Start Waking Up at the Same Time, Every Day

Yes, even on weekends. A recent study reveals that adults who sleep in just one hour later on Saturdays and Sundays than they do during the week have higher BMIs, worse cholesterol, more insulin resistance, and increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The issue with continually shifting your sleep schedule is it confuses your body’s biological clock, which winds up disrupting metabolism, hormone production, and other important processes. Nobody’s saying you should skip a Friday-night party just so you can get to bed and wake up early. But any time you’re able, stick as close as possible to your weekday routine.

Work in One Long, Slow Cardio Day to Your Fitness Routine

Top running and cycling coaches know that the secret to speeding up is slowing down. You definitely want to go all-out some days — but you’ll boost fitness and performance even more if you incorporate low-intensity cardio into your training. “The benefits of high and low intensity are complementary, so you really need to do both,” says Matt Fitzgerald, author of 80/20 Running. “Low intensity is gentle, so you can do a large amount of it, but it’s also fairly weak, so it takes a lot to yield its maximum benefits. The most effective cardio training program combines a large amount of low intensity and a small amount of high intensity.”

Start the Rewards Diet

Does your willpower crack the moment you spot a slice of cake or you see that six-pack of Kentucky Breakfast Stout chilling in the fridge? Let yourself have dessert, beer, or booze — but only if you’ve exercised for at least 30 minutes that day. Make it a hard-and-fast rule that unless you’ve burned through a few hundred calories, you’re not allowed to consume a few hundred extra.


Originally Published HERE

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