Top Ways to Wake Up your Weight Loss Hormones

So you’re looking to lose weight, burn some fat, build some muscle– all basic fitness goals that many of us have.  You go to the gym, you change your diet habits, you try to get more sleep– all great things to do.  But are you waking up your weight loss hormones?  Have you ever even HEARD of weight loss hormones?  Keep reading below to learn what they are and how to use them to your advantage!

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Leptin:

Leptin is responsible for helping us to feel full and avoid overeating or mindless snacking.  So how can you wake this hormone up and put it to work fighting your hunger hormones?  Get enough sleep! It sounds so simple and we hear it all the time, but getting 6.5-8.5 hours of quality sleep each night will help your body to produce and regulate enough leptin to give you the weight loss boost you’re looking for. A key step to keeping your leptin levels regulated is making sure you go to bed and wake up around the same times each day and night.

 

Testosterone:

Ladies probably think of testosterone as the ”manly” hormone.  It’s true that men have much higher levels of testosterone than we do, but it’s a hormone that we need too!  What benefit does it have when it comes to weight loss?  It’s one of the human body’s primary muscle-building hormones.  And we all know that if we want to lose weight, adding some mucles onto our frames is a great way to do that, since our bodies will burn more calories each day maintaining muscle tissue!  So how can you wake this hormone up in your body?  Lifting weights!  Our bodies respond to weight-lifting by producing testosterone, helping our muscles to take full advantage of this opportunity to grow!  Make sure you’re hitting the weight section of the gym a few times each week in order to keep your testosterone production high enough to help you pack on a bit of muscle!

 

CCK, GLP-1, and PYY:

These 3 hormones work together in the intestines to slow the movement of food through the GI tract.  Why is that important?  That slow-moving food means you will quite literally stay fuller for longer after eating.  So how can you get these hormones to work for you?  Make sure each meal you eat contains proteins, fats, and complex carbs.  That’s not permission to crazy– a piece of whole wheat toast with avocado smashed on top with an omelette on the side is enough for you to get this trio of hormones operating in your favor!

 

Thyroid hormones:

The hormones produced in our thyroid gland help determine how many calories out bodies burn when at rest (while driving, sitting on the couch, sleeping, etc.), so it’s important to give these guys a boost!  Eat foods high in iodine!  That means lots of seafood, including seaweed if you’re a vegetarian!  Iodine deficiency is a common cause for thyroid hormones to get out of whack, so make sure you’re getting a sufficient amount of iodine in your daily diet!  It fits in healthily with the FDA suggestion to eat fish three times per week, so hit up the seafood section of your local supermarket and get stocked up!

 

Which of these hormone wake-up calls will be the easiest to make for you?

 

 

 

 

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Avoados and Weight Loss– What’s the Connection?

We all know that avocado is a delicious superfood that’s gained quite a bit of popularity over the last few years, but do you know why?  They’re great for weight loss!  While they have fat and a fairly high calorie count for a fruit, they’re a great food to add to your diet, especially if you’re trying to lose weight!  Keep reading to learn why!

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Avocados have been found to lower LDL cholesterol (that’s the bad one!), because it’s high in monounsaturated fat (the good kind!).  High LDL cholesterol is a factor in insulin resistance, excess weight, and obesity.  Kill all those birds with the same stone by adding avocados to your daily diet!

 

Avocado oil, which has a slightly nutty flavor, has a higher smoke point than olive oil but has almost the exact same nutritional profile!  Making this switch will help you to eat more monounsaturated fats, and it’s  been found that diets packed with monounsaturated fats actually prevent fat distribution around the belly area by regulating the expression of certain fat genes!

 

If you’re eating lots of veggies but not enough monunsaturated fats with them, you won’t be able to absorb all of the caratenoids (disease-fighting compounds) that veggies can contribute to your diet!  By adding olive oil and especially avocado or avocado oil, you’ll be making the right combination to help your body take full advantage of all of the other nutrients on your plate, too!

 

Avocado has also been labeled as a hunger-killer– just half of an avocado added to your lunch will make your 40% less likely to have the munchies a few hours later.  The satiety that avocados offer comes from their creamy texture, their healthy fats, and their great combo of vitamins and nutrients.  Make sure you’re popping an avocado half in your lunch each day to keep yourself from mindless snacking or overeating in the afternoons!

 

So, if you’re looking to lower your bad cholesterol, turn off your body’s fat genes, and knock off bad snacking habits, avocados have got your back!  Try adding them on top of toast, in salads, or even by themselves!  They’re easy to pack as they come in their own skin, and they’re easy to add to hummus or make guacamole with.  Because it’s such a popular superfood right now, there’s no shortage to the recipes out there on how to add it to your diet in a variety of ways, so no excuses!

 

How do you like to eat your avocados?

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Best Exercises for Bad Knees

Stiff or painful joints caused by aging, sickness, or old injuries can sometimes be an impediment to getting in a good workout (and also an extremely convenient excuse!)– working out doesn’t do you much good if you keep injuring yourself! But there are still great ways to exercise, even if your knees aren’t brand new.  Keep reading below to find a new exercise for you!

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For Cardio:

Consider Speedwalking, which can be done at a local park or around your block!  Skip the gym membership, load up your phone with high-tempo music, and speedwalk in comfortable athletic trainers to get in a good cardio workout.  If you’re still looking for great cardio options that are easy on the knees, you should give swimming a shot.  You’ll be using your whole body, but your upper body will be doing most of the work.  It’s great cardio without putting any stress on your knees!

If you’re keen on working out in the gym, opt for low-impact workouts.  If your gym offers classes, try taking one!  Talk with the teacher or trainer beforehand to make sure you won’t be doing anything to put extra strain on your knees.  If classes aren’t your style, try out the machines!  Opt for the elliptical instead of the treadmill– you’ll still burn calories and get your heart rate up, but you won’t be pounding your feet into the tread like on the treadmill! You might want to try the stationery bicycles, too!  If pedaling is a good fit for you, try opting for the traditional bikes instead of the chairs with pedals, as the traditional stationery bike will engage more muscles!

The rowing machine is another great option for cardio at the gym– you’re knees will be bending and straightening, and you’ll be pushing with your feet a bit, but you won’t have to worry about straining them!  This also works out to be a great arm workout, so it’s 2-in-1!

 

For Resistance Training:

While you’ll need to avoid heavy squatting and lifting, there are still ways to build up your muscle mass even if your knees are bad!  This is especially helpful if you’re trying to lost weight, because we know that your body burns more calories each day when it has to maintain lean muscle!

Try using the weight machines in your gym that allow you to isolate specific muscles.  These help you to protect your knees (and often your back as well!) while still working out all the  muscles you want to grow!  Free weights should be limited to weights you can carry easily in your hand, unless you’re working with a certified personal trainer.

 

Exercises to Avoid:

Power washes, deep squats or lunges, hurdler’s stretches, and any heavy free weight lifting maneuvers unless you’re properly spotted by a professional.

 

It can be a tough problem to work around, but there are plenty solutions for staying healthy and fit, losing weight, and maintaining or growing your muscles mass if you have bad knees!  What’s your favorite exercise that keeps the pressure off your knees?

 

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Top 4 Outdoor Cardio Exercises

Cardio is an important part of any exercise program.  It’s important to burn fat and to keep your heart strong!  It also causes your brain to produce happy endorphins!  The great news is that you don’t have to have access to a gym in order to get in great cardio workouts!  Keep reading to learn more about the top 4 outdoor cardio exercises!

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Running

This one’s a no-brainer, but if you’ve never enjoyed running before, don’t write it off just yet!  You have several different options when it comes to running– you can run city blocks or in the suburbs, and you can also do trail running!  That means that whether you need to work running into a busy schedule or whether you’re trying to escape the city while getting in a good workout, there are options for you!  Running (and any cardio) requires some buildup before you can hit your workouts hard, so if you’re just starting out, be patient.  Try running one minute and walking one minute, walking briskly and then running for short sprints, etc.  Keep at it and you’ll see improvement quite quickly– each week, running will get easier and you’ll be able to go for longer without stopping!

 

Cycling

All you need is a bike to get in a good cardio workout!  You can ride your bike in your neighborhood or on biking trails in the woods.  Many cities are becoming more and more bike friendly, adding cycling trails and lanes that connect to different parts of the city and beautiful parks and other great spots throughout the circuit!

 

Swimming

Whether in a pool or a local pond or lake, swimming is great cardio and it’s perfect for those with hip, knee, or ankle problems!  It’s also a great way to stay cool while working out, and research shows that being submerged in water can help to lower your blood pressure!  Swimming is a great way to mix things up during your cardio sessions while also getting a great upper body workout!

 

High Intensity Sports

Basketball or beach volleyball can be a great cardio workout!  You can find someone to partner with at local parks or community centers, but the idea is to keep the teams small– this forces you to move around and run more!  Soccer, tennis, and plenty of other sports can be great overall body workouts while working in your cardio, and keeping a social aspect present in your workouts!

 

What are your favorite outdoor cardio workout options?

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Top 4 Workplace Diet Tips

Changing your diet habits can be tough stuff, especially when you have to eat away from home!  Staying on track while managing social lunches, boredom, and energy drain at work can be the biggest challenge, but there are ways to get around those issues!  Check out the tips below to help you manage your diet while at work!

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Pack your lunch and snacks.

It sounds like a no-brainer, but you won’t believe how many people try to make their diet work while going to the same rotation of lunch spots with their co-workers.  Honestly, there are only so many days in a row that you can eat a chef salad at lunch, and that’s if you’re lucky enough to find a spot that offers one in the first place!  Packing your lunch will help you save a ton of money, which worst case scenario helps you pay for higher quality food products, best case scenario you save for a vacation or go shopping for clothes!  Besides saving money, you’ll be able to eat exactly what you need to eat when you need to eat it!

It’s not as hard as it might sound, at first.  #MealPrepping is an entire (and beautiful) hashtag on instagram where you can get inspiration on how to prepare all your lunches for the week at the same time!  While you’re at it, prep snacks (think carrots and celery, hummus, yogurt, small salads or fruit salads, cheese cubes– the list of possibilities is huge!) that will keep you from wandering to the vending machine.

 

Drink lots of water.

Especially while we’re working, we often feel bored or thirsty and mistake it for hunger!  If you’re getting the munchies but you know it’s not time for a snack yet, have a glass of water.  You can take a bottle with you to make infused water if you like flavors, or you can even brew cold teas to take with you!  Of course, if it’s hot, have a coffee or a tea here and there, but the point is to stay hydrated and to give yourself a chance to fix your munchies issue before diving into another plate of food!

 

Treat yourself.

While you don’t want to go overboard with treating yourself, you don’t want to go overboard on your strict diet either!  Decide on one day per week where you can treat yourself with something– a lunch out with your coworkers, a snack from the vending machine, a soda after lunch– but only once per week!  And of course, if you’re really on track and don’t want to invite temptation back into your life, treat yourself with something else– a lunch time manicure, lunch in the park instead of in your office, or something else that you can look forward to every week.  Use it to reward yourself for sticking to your diet each week!

 

Find a partner.

There’s probably someone else in your office that’s dieting, too.  Or maybe one of your teammates wants to start bringing their lunch too but they don’t want to eat lunch alone every day.  Find your people!  Talk to them about eating lunch together in the office a few times per week (or every day, or once per week, whatever floats your boats).  That way you won’t feel antisocial or alone at lunch every day and you’ll even have someone to trade tips with and chat with over lunch!  You could even work together to bring different snacks each day– you just pack two of whatever you’d take for yourself, and she packs two of whatever she was bringing for her!  Basically, find a way to make the diet scene at your office less lonely.  It’s always easier to stay on track with something when you enjoy it, so find ways to make your diet easy to follow and enjoyable!

 

What are your top tips for following your diet in the workplace?

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Best Ways to Avoid Bloating

Bloating is a common health problem, but just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s not terrible! It might be a chronic problem for you, or it could just be an occasional issue– after eating certain foods or as a PMS symptom. Bloating has many different causes, but there are ways to prevent it from happening to you! Check out the tips below on the best ways to avoid bloating!

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Watch the foods you eat.

A huge culprit of bloating can be the foods we eat.  Some foods are known for causing bloating, so these are foods that we want to avoid.  Certain vegetables, dairy products, and anything with lots of fiber in it might cause you to suffer bloating.  Read more here about foods to avoid if bloating seems to be a common problem for you!

 

Walk around.

It sounds too easy to be true, but one common cause of bloating is sitting still for too long.  If you have a desk job, you might experience bloating simply because you aren’t moving enough.  This means that the natural gases inside of your body aren’t moving either, they’re just sitting there building up and making you feel like an uncomfortable balloon.  Try getting up once each hour to walk around, even if it’s just for 3-5 minutes.

 

Stop using straws.

What do straws have to do with anything?  Well, it’s been proven that people that drink through straws swallow more air than they would if they were drinking from a glass like normal.  Swallowing excess air brings extra gas into your body that can contribute to bloating.  Skipping the straw is simple and an easy way to lessen the amount of air you take in while at lunch or while working.

 

Take OTC medication.

There are several brands of pills that will help you avoid the buildup of gas that causes bloating.  Many of them will advise you to take it prior to eating, especially if you’re going to be eating troublesome foods.  If you’re not sure which one is best for you or if it might combine safely with other medications you take, be sure to consult your physician.

 

Try yoga.

Yoga is a great way to stay healthy, and if you’re feeling bloated, a few minutes of yoga stretches and positions can help you out big time.  You can even do some of them in bed!

 

What are your best tips for avoiding or dealing with bloating?

 

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5 Ways to Curb Your Sugar Cravings

Sugar cravings are tough– they often make us willing to go straigh for candy or junk food as the quickest vehicle to get some glucose pumping through out veins.  But you don’t have to run and grab a soda just because you feel like getting some sugar!  Find out 5 ways to curb your sugar cravings below!

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Eat Fruit.

Ok, it technically has sugar, so if you’re very specifically trying to cut sugar out of your diet, this isn’t the tip for you.  Most of us are trying to avoid added sugar or refined sugar, though, and fruit is packed with natural sugar and tons of vitamins, making it a great way to stop your sugar craving before you head to the junk food aisle!  Just beware– eat whole fruit so you get all the benefits of its vitamins and fiber.  Skip the juices, as they often have added sugar or other ingredients, and you won’t get the benefits of fiber!

 

Use Honey.

If you just can’t stomach straight tea or black coffee but you’re kicking the sugar habit, try adding a bit of honey.  You can also go with stevia if you’d like, but the goal is to stop dumping spoonfuls of sugar on everything!  Add honey to your toast with nut butter or to your yogurt as a natural source of sweetness!

Have an Egg.

I know if you’re craving sugar hardcore, an egg is probably the last thing you want, but hear me out!  Eggs are the number one top food for choline, a nutrient our bodies need for basic functioning.  Because eggs contain a bit of fat, choline, and protein all packed together, having a serving of eggs (scrambled, hard boiled, you name it) can help your stomach to chill out and regulate your blood sugar to a healthy level so you can kill almost any craving you’re having without undoing your diet.

 

Have a Flavorful Snack.

Your body might be wanting sugar, but it’s very likely that you’re actually BORED when craving sugar!  IF you can definitely tell that you’re also hungry, have a snack, but pack in the flavor!  Have some hummus with oregano or sri racha on top, make a bowl of guacamole with carrot sticks, have a salad with an intense cheese grated on top, eat some eggs with paprika sprinkled on top– the key is to get a healthy snack and then up the flavor levels for things that aren’t necessarily sweet but will definitely hold your attention while you’re eating them.  From there, your body will regulate your blood sugar and your mouth and brain will be happy about the flavors they just experienced!

 

Get Enough Sleep.

When we’re tired and worn out, sugar is always an easy, fast, and cheap way to boost our energy– temporarily.  We all know that the crash is what comes next, and if you keep using sugar to up your energy, you end up in the cycle of sugar addiction because you need more sugar to get over the crash from your previous dose!  Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, and on top of that, make sure that each meal you’re eating has a healthy mix of good carbs, protein, and healthy fats.  You won’t crave sugar nearly as much when your body has the proper fuel it needs to get you through the day!

What are your best tricks for curbing your sugar cravings?

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Healthy Fats are Key to a Good Diet

Everybody is worried about fat– body fat as well as fat in our food!  It’s only natural that we begin to see fat as a bad thing.  We’ve been told to avoid it at all costs, after all.  Many products come in a low-fat option and television commercials are constantly convincing us to buy the newest supplement or workout program to burn fat fast!  It’s important to remember, though, that we need fat in our diet!  Continue reading to see what types of healthy fat you should be including in your diet!

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The truth is that not all fats are created equally.  We’ve villified fat in our culture to a point that many of us have cut TOO MUCH fat out of our diets!  So how can you know which fats should be on your table and which fats you should be avoiding?

The simple way to remember it is that Trans fats are bad and should be avoided, Mono- and Poly-unsaturated fats are good, and saturated fats are up for debate.

While we’re recommended to consume a very small amount of fat, the problem is that all fats are being lumped into one category here, but all fats aren’t the same.  Of course we want to cut trans fats out of our diets, but we definitely want to keep Omega-3 fats, and in fact most people need to be consuming more of them!  Check out these five sources of healthy fats that you can include in your diet to round out your nutrition!

 

Avocadoes

Packed with protein, vitamin E, and fiber, these guys bring even more good stuff to the table– they’re rich in monounsaturated fats (the good kind!).  Try adding half an avocado per day to your diet– they’re easy to add to salads, sandwiches, and wraps and also make a great soup or chili topping!  They can go on top of toast or be eating solo, too!

 

Dark Chocolate

The saturated fats in dark chocolate will help you to slow your digestion and feel less hungry!  On top of that, it’s packed with antioxidants that fight free radical damage.  A few ounces per day is all you need! Eat it as a snack between meals or add it to your oatmeal or yogurt in the morning!

 

Whole Eggs

If you’ve only been eating egg whites, listen up!  While the whites are solid proteins, the yolk of the egg contains fat and cholesterol.  However, most of those fats in the yolk are monounsaturated, and the overall fat profile of the egg yolk has been found to actually REDUCE LDL (bad cholesterol)!  On top of that, eggs are the top dietary source of choline, a nutrient that shuts down the genes that cause us to store fat around our liver.

 

Salmon

By adding two servings of wild salmon to your diet each week, you’ll be getting the recommended amount of omega-3 fatty acids that will help to protect your heart!  Try it as a main, a salad topping, or in a sandwich or wrap!  Just make sure you’re buying wild caught salmon, as farmed atlantic salmon does not have the same healthy qualities!

 

Olive Oil

This oil is packed with polyphenols, which are great for fighting cancer risk!  They contain adiponectin, a hormone that breaks down fat!  Extra virgin olive oil has also been proven to increase blood levels of serotonin, which helps us to feel fuller faster and avoid overeating!

 

What healthy fats do you try to work into your diet each week?

 


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Top Foods To Improve Brain Function

We all need our brains to work quickly!  Work, parenting, and enjoying our hobbies or social events all require a fast-working brain!  How can you make sure your brain is in great shape?  One of the best ways to care for your brain is to eat foods that improve brain function!

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Coldwater Fish

Try eating 3-4 servings of coldwater fish (tuna, salmon, etc.) throughout the week, as the FDA suggests.  EPA and DHA fats are contained in these fish, and they’re in their ready-made form, making it easy for our bodies to digest them and put them to use right away!  These fats are important for healthy brain functioning and for protecting our joints, so eat up!

 

Tomatoes

One of their super ingredients, lycopene, has been found to fight the free radical damage that occurs at the onset of dementia, so make sure you’re adding tomatoes to your diet where you can — salads, soups, and sandwhiches are great places to start!

 

Broccoli

This vegetable is a great source of Vitamin K, which helps improve brain functioning, so make sure you’re packing it into your meals!  Try it roasted, grilled, raw, or grated into meatballs, soups, and salads!

 

Avocadoes

Packed with healthy monounsaturated fats, avocadoes are great for helping to maintain a healthy bloodflow in your body.  Your brain will reap the benefits of a healthy bloodflow, and they also lower blood pressure! Try adding olive oil to your dishes that contain avocadoes– they pair well together and you’ll get double the boost of monounsaturated fats, which studies have shown to actually slow brain aging!

 

Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate has powerful antioxidant properties which make it a must in your healthy-brain diet!  It contains natural stimulants which will help your brain to focus on the task at hand, and it stimulates endorphin production, which will help to regulate your mood in a healthy way!

 

 

What are your favorite brain-healthy foods?  How will you try to incorporate these into your current food habits?

Find out which foods you should be including in your diet to improve brain function!

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Tops Foods To Improve Brain Function

We all need our brains to work quickly!  Work, parenting, and enjoying our hobbies or social events all require a fast-working brain!  How can you make sure your brain is in great shape?  One of the best ways to care for your brain is to eat foods that improve brain function!

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Coldwater Fish

Try eating 3-4 servings of coldwater fish (tuna, salmon, etc.) throughout the week, as the FDA suggests.  EPA and DHA fats are contained in these fish, and they’re in their ready-made form, making it easy for our bodies to digest them and put them to use right away!  These fats are important for healthy brain functioning and for protecting our joints, so eat up!

 

Tomatoes

One of their super ingredients, lycopene, has been found to fight the free radical damage that occurs at the onset of dementia, so make sure you’re adding tomatoes to your diet where you can — salads, soups, and sandwhiches are great places to start!

 

Broccoli

This vegetable is a great source of Vitamin K, which helps improve brain functioning, so make sure you’re packing it into your meals!  Try it roasted, grilled, raw, or grated into meatballs, soups, and salads!

 

Avocadoes

Packed with healthy monounsaturated fats, avocadoes are great for helping to maintain a healthy bloodflow in your body.  Your brain will reap the benefits of a healthy bloodflow, and they also lower blood pressure! Try adding olive oil to your dishes that contain avocadoes– they pair well together and you’ll get double the boost of monounsaturated fats, which studies have shown to actually slow brain aging!

 

Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate has powerful antioxidant properties which make it a must in your healthy-brain diet!  It contains natural stimulants which will help your brain to focus on the task at hand, and it stimulates endorphin production, which will help to regulate your mood in a healthy way!

 

 

What are your favorite brain-healthy foods?  How will you try to incorporate these into your current food habits?

Find out which foods you should be including in your diet to improve brain function!

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