Healthy Byte: Sticking with It

Originally Posted HERE

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Faced with a seemingly endless supply of trendy new workouts that all promise a better body and improved health, choosing the best one can seem overwhelming. As a doctor, I’m setting the record straight: the single best exercise program is the one that you stick with. The simplest way to do this, of course, is to focus on physical activity that you actually enjoy and avoid anything that you hate (even if every Victoria’s Secret model swears by it). But beyond common sense, there are plenty of science-backed methods for sticking to an exercise program. If you’ve ever had grand plans of overhauling your fitness routine only to find yourself returning to your couch three weeks later, these techniques are for you.

Shorten your workouts.

Though it sounds counterintuitive, focusing on shorter bouts of exercise has distinct advantages over longer workouts. In a study among young women who were asked to start an exercise program, those who were assigned to multiple 10-minute workouts throughout the day stayed more committed than women who were asked to complete one continuous workout of up to 40 minutes. In fact, the shorter-bout group logged more total workout time and exercised more days per week compared to the longer workout group. Rest assured: the cumulative effect of exercising in short bouts has the same physical benefits as longer workouts, both in terms of weight loss and overall heart health.

Believe in yourself.

Decades of studies on exercise psychology have consistently identified self-efficacy as the most important predictor of exercise adherence. Self-efficacy is defined as the belief in one’s ability to succeed in a specific goal or behavior change, much like the “I think I can” motto of the little engine that could. Self-efficacy is, thankfully, not an inborn trait but a learned skill that can be developed through achieving small successes over time. When starting a new exercise program, set yourself up for small wins and celebrate them. Focus on the better night’s sleep you may get after just one workout instead of the weight you hope to lose by the end of the month. Another way to improve self-efficacy is to find a role model you identify with who has achieved her fitness goals. Research shows this can vicariously bolster your own self-efficacy.

Make it social.

Though it’s not surprising, the dramatic effect of social support on exercise is worth emphasizing. In an analysis of 44 studies on exercise adherence, researchers found that it was highest when it involved a group, like a sports team or a dance group. Drop-in fitness classes were associated with slightly lower adherence, but they were still superior to solo, home-based exercise programs. Even if home-based exercise is your only feasible option, you can still harness the power of social support by recruiting a family member or friend to work out with you or harnessing the power of an online community. Some studies even suggest that simply discussing your plans to exercise with a healthcare provider, mentor, or friend can increase your likelihood of following through with it.

Adopt other healthy habits.

A handful of studies have demonstrated that people who prioritize eating a healthy diet are more likely to be active. The theory is that engaging in one health-promoting behavior tends to inspire others, and although the link is strongest between healthy eating habits and exercise, it’s likely that any healthy behavior – like getting a full night’s sleep or even flossing your teeth – can increase your probability of following through with exercise.

Keep your expectations in check.

If you expect to see a physical transformation within the first few weeks of starting an exercise program, you may be less likely to keep at it. Studies of new exercisers have found that those with unrealistic expectations of physical change tended to give up when their hopes were not immediately met. Health psychologists have dubbed this the “false hope syndrome.” To avoid it, remember that noticeable physical changes from a new exercise routine can take months to develop. And if your goal is weight loss, it’s important to know that exercise alone – without dietary changes – typically isn’t enough. What you can expect from exercise, however, are short-term improvements in mood and sleep and, in the long term, a dramatically reduced risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, dementia, and several different types of cancer. How’s that for motivation?

Healthy Byte: Low-Carb vs. Low-Fat

Originally Posted HERE

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It’s the staggering truth behind The Biggest Loser: On average, many of the contestants gained back most of the weight they lost on the show. Four were heavier than they were before going on TV, according to a 2016 National Institute of Health (NIH) study. It’s enough to make anyone give up those Crossfit classes in favor of a pack of cake rolls, but there’s a silver lining to that finding — it’s prompted all kinds of research and deeper analysis into major diet trends to find out what really works.

Increasingly, researchers and doctors are finding that the real key to weight loss isn’t low-carb or low-fat; it’s taking a much more personalized approach.

“Some people on a diet program lose 60 pounds and keep it off for two years, and other people follow the same program religiously, and they gain 5 pounds,” weight-loss researcher and Harvard cardiovascular disease prevention professor Frank Sacks toldTime in its June 5 cover story.

The Biggest Loser
NBC

For decades, we’ve followed a basic principle: Work out more, eat fewer calories, and the pounds will melt off. But, as Sacks’s example shows, the end result can vary widely from person to person, and — as The Biggest Loser study showed — it doesn’t mean you’ll keep the weight off, even if you maintain smaller portions later.

Ask Yourself This First.

The biggest thing, it seems, is testing out each method for a few months and noting how you feel during the diet. Is it a lifestyle that wears away at you? Are you always a little hangry? Those are warning signs.

“You need a plan that satisfies hunger,” iDiet founder and Tufts University nutrition professor Susan Roberts told Time. “Most diets fail because hunger erodes willpower.”

<p>This means you should <a href="http://www.redbookmag.com/body/healthy-eating/g3123/food-cravings/" target="_blank" data-tracking-id="recirc-text-link">tune into hunger/fullness cues</a> to determine whether you <i data-redactor-tag="i">reallllly</i> want that second chocolate chip cookie or not, and not just rely on what other people around you are eating or <a href="http://www.redbookmag.com/body/health-fitness/news/a46001/nickelodeon-bad-kids-health-new-study/" target="_blank" data-tracking-id="recirc-text-link">seductive marketing</a>. "Are you really hungry? Ask yourself whether a celery stick or apple sounds delicious — if not, you're probably not hungry," says <a href="http://plantbaseddietitian.com/" data-tracking-id="recirc-text-link" target="_blank">Julieanna Hever</a>, R.D., author of <i data-redactor-tag="i"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Vegiterranean-Diet-Mediterranean-Plan/dp/0738217891?tag=bm01f-20&amp;ascsubtag=redbook.gallery.3565" data-tracking-id="recirc-text-link" target="_blank">The Vegiterranean Diet</a></i>.</p>

But Really, Is Low-Carb Better For Me?

Though some research shows low-carb diets have a slight edge over low-fat diets, you see on both sides of the spectrum widely varying results. In a 609-person study that divided people into both diet plans — “low-carb” being about 30 percent carbs and 45 percent fat, and “low-fat” being one with 29 percent fat and 48 percent carbs — each lost about the same amount. Neither group stood out for having a faster metabolism or more fat loss in the end. Even hypotheses that people who have a greater resistance to insulin would perform better on a low-carb diet didn’t hold true here, the Washington Post reported.

“YOU NEED A PLAN THAT SATISFIES HUNGER. MOST DIETS FAIL BECAUSE HUNGER ERODES WILLPOWER.”

What really worked, in this study, was changing your relationship with food. This, too, echoed Roberts’ statement. Instead of focusing on the ways you’re deprived — fewer calories, less fat, fewer carbs — paying greater attention to how you feel as you eat healthy may be key.

“Maybe if you just say ‘Eat as much as you want until you’re satiated, but eat this way until you’re satiated’ … I’d really like to look into that,” said nutrition scientist Christopher Gardner.

Here’s What You Can Learn From ‘The Biggest Loser.’

Okay, here’s where the news gets suckier: Remember those Biggest Losercontestants who gained weight? As the pounds crept back on, their metabolism didn’t speed back up. It stayed low, the NIH study found, burning about 700 fewer calories per day than it did when they started their weight loss journey.

It’s an unfortunate reality — and one to be aware of, because although The Biggest Loser‘s stars lose weight dramatically fast, Time found that even people who lose just a couple pounds a week can struggle with a sluggish metabolism. But there is a way to fight back. The National Weight Control Registry’s study of 10,000 people who’ve kept pounds off found a few things in common, if not a particular diet or meal plan:

  • They eat breakfast daily.
  • They weigh themselves once a week.
  • They watch less than 10 hours of TV a week.
  • They exercise about an hour a day (with walking the most popular method).

It’s a straightforward approach that sounds a lot like how the founders of Georgetown Cupcake, Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis Berman, lost a combined 100 pounds and kept it off for years. In the end, you just have to find what works for you — what you can comfortably tolerate — and stick to it, it seems.

Healthy Byte: The Big Four to Getting Stronger

Originally Posted HERE

Bodybuilding is great. Weight training is great. Crossfit, Pilates, plyometrics–they’re all great.

But some people just want to get stronger and fitter in a useful, “everyday life” kind of way. They don’t want to spend hours at the gym learning new exercisesand new routines.

If that’s you, here’s a foolproof workout plan that is guaranteed to work — as long as you stick with it.

The key is to focus on four basic exercises, and follow one simple principle.

First the exercises:

  • squats;
  • push-ups;
  • dead lifts;
  • pull-ups.
Yep: The big four.

Squats increase leg and core strength. Push-ups increase chest, shoulder, and triceps strength. Dead lifts increase lower back, glute, and core strength (not to mention seemingly every other muscle in your body). And pull-ups increase back, shoulder, and arm strength (or you can reverse your grip and do chin-ups to engage your biceps more than your shoulders).

Do these four functional exercises and you’ll target the major muscle groups and build the kind of strength that makes everyday life easier. And, oh, yeah: Over time, you’ll not only be fitter, you’ll look fitter.

Now the guiding principle: Stick to just these exercises, and always do a little bit more each time you work out.

Why? Your body is superb at adapting. Do 100 push-ups a day for three weeks straight, and at first you will definitely get stronger, but eventually your body will decide that 100 push-ups a day is the new normal–and you’ll stop getting stronger. Do the same thing long enough and your body adapts. That’s why following the same routine, no matter what the routine, eventually results in a plateau.

To avoid a plateau, instead of changing exercises, the key is to change the loadyou put on your muscles.

Of course, you might be thinking that the cure to plateaus is to constantly vary your workouts. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with mixing up exercises on a regular basis, if you’re just trying to improve your functional strength, that’s the wrong way to go. Constantly changing your workout may seem less boring, but constantly doing new exercises doesn’t force your body to adapt–and get stronger–nearly as quickly.

Again: The best way to avoid a plateau is to follow a system that forces your body to adapt.

Let’s use push-ups as an example. Say you’ve been doing 10 sets of 10 push-ups, with a 45-second rest between each set. Next workout, increase one aspect: Do one more push-up per set, or rest for only 40 seconds between sets, or place a 10- or 25-pound plate across your back to add weight to the movement. Then, the next time you work out, do more push-ups per set, or maybe do one additional set of 10, or maybe rest even less. You get the point.

Follow the principle of progression — by always adding a little more — and you can avoid plateaus and slowly but surely get stronger and fitter.

Just make sure you strategically change up the more. For example, you may start out doing seven pull-ups per set, then eight, then nine, then 10, but then, no matter how hard you try, you can’t do 11 pull-ups in a row.

No problem. Increase the load by doing fewer pull-ups per set while wearing a weight belt with a 10- or 20-pound plate attached to add resistance. Work on pulling up more weight for a week or two — and doing more reps each workout — and then go back to doing bodyweight-only pull-ups. I promise you’ll be able to do more than 10 reps per set because you will have forced your muscles to adapt and get stronger.

Just like life finds a way, your body will also find a way. As long as you force your body to find a way.

And while you may someday run into a wall that you just can’t overcome, that’s actually a good thing, because it means you’ve pushed your body close to its potential.

And then you can try doing some different exercises, and start the process all over again.

Try it: Do squats, push-ups, pull-ups, and dead lifts at least twice a week, preferably three times a week (until you’re doing so much that you need more time to recover). Stick to that schedule; if you don’t, your body won’t be forced to adapt.

In terms of reps, sets, and weight, begin however you want. If you start out too light or too easy, don’t worry–as time goes by and you add weight, reps, etc., your workouts will soon get hard.

Log each workout you complete, but more important, plan each workout ahead of time. Decide what you will do, and then do it. If you fail, fine. Try again next time. But don’t let “I’ll just do as much as I can today” be your plan. Decide exactly what you plan to do each workout. Then do it.

Think of it this way: Your long-term goal is to get stronger, but your immediate goal — your real commitment — is to complete every workout as planned, on schedule.

Healthy Byte: 15-Minute Strength Training

Originally Posted HERE

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Consistently hit up the gym: Check! Crank out multiple strength training workouts weekly: Check! See results over time and feel like a total badass: Check and check! If you’re checking all these boxes, it’s time to officially take your fitness regiment to the next level, and get the most bang for your workout buck. How exactly? With a technique that works your muscles as they lengthen in addition to when they contract, called “eccentric training.”

What it is: Emphasizing the lowering portion of a rep. Also known as “negative training,” the technique increases the time your muscles are under tension, which helps boost muscle fiber activation.

The benefits: Higher calorie burn both during and after exercise; fewer injuries, as it strengthens tendons and helps muscles absorb high-impact stress (like running); and a new study says it can help you break through strength plateaus in five weeks.

When to do it: Once a week, swap out one of your three strength-training workoutswith this routine. Complete the circuit in order, moving from the first exercise to the next and resting as needed in between. Repeat once for two total sets. After three weeks, take one week off, then continue with heavier weights. (Kick-start your new, healthy routine with Women’s Health’s 12-Week Total-Body Transformation!)

Your trainer: Exercise physiologist Joel Seedman Ph.D., owner of Advanced Human Performance in Atlanta

Deadlift to Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

Deadlift to Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

BETH BISCHOFF

Squat to grab a barbell with an overhand grip (a). Thrust your hips forward as you rise to stand (b). With your right knee slightly bent, lift your left leg behind you, hinging at your hips and lowering your torso until it’s parallel to the floor (c). Reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep; do three or four, then switch sides and repeat.

Negative Pullup

Negative Pullup

BETH BISCHOFF

Bulgarian Split Squat

Bulgarian Split Squat

BETH BISCHOFF

Stand with the top of your right foot on a bench behind you and hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides (a). Keeping a tall chest, take three to five seconds to bend both knees to lower your body as far as you can (b). Pause for three to five seconds; return to start quickly. That’s one rep; do six to eight, then switch sides and repeat.

Negative Skull Crusher

Negative Skull Crusher

BETH BISCHOFF

Grasp a dumbbell in each hand and lie on a bench with your arms reaching toward the ceiling (a). Slowly bend your elbows to bring the weights to the sides of your forehead (b); pause, then, with elbows bent, lower arms to bring the weights above your chest (c). Press weights up to return to start. That’s one rep; do six to eight.