Getting and Staying Motivated to Lose Weight

Photo credit: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

The first step to losing weight is to make the decision to do so, and then take it to the next level by changing your lifestyle in such a way as to promote weight loss and keep it off. It may seem as if you put on weight easily, but find it nearly impossible to take it off. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight takes time and hard work. There is no easy, quick fix out there to help you magically lose weight and make the fat disappear. You have to take charge of your own health and well-being by changing your lifestyle, which primarily entails eating healthier foods, getting more exercise and staying motivated about all the positive changes you’re making for yourself. Don’t lose sight of your goals if you find yourself at a weight-loss plateau and not moving forward as expected. Keep your focus, be consistent and take it one step at a time. Soon you will be where you want to be and achieve permanent, lasting weight loss.

Look through old family photo albums. Remember how thin you were? It may not be possible to get back down to that size 4 you wore in high school, but you can lose weight. Do you have a high school or college reunion coming up? Looking at those old photos may be just the motivation you need to convince you to get off the sofa and hit the gym.

Do some virtual shopping and select your dream outfit, but in a size that you want to be. Bookmark the page or print out the page and hang it on your closet door to remind you to stay motivated to lose weight. Set small goals, such as losing 1 pound each week or exercising 3 days a week. Reward yourself when you achieve each small goal. Keep in mind the ultimate reward, that new outfit! When you do lose weight and can fit into that outfit, buy it! Treat yourself when you reach each milestone in your weight-loss journey. Small rewards for successful steps toward your ultimate goal can help keep you motivated.

We all know how to make a list of things we don’t like about ourselves or a list of things we haven’t yet achieved. Motivate yourself to keep exercising, eating right and losing weight by making a list of positive aspects of your life. You have friends and family who support you. You walked 15 minutes today. You rode your bike for 3 miles. You refused pizza and ate a healthy dinner instead. You lost 1 pound last week. Positive affirmations can help keep you motivated to do the hard work necessary to lose weight.

Many people are motivated by visual stimuli, which is why television commercials are successful, especially those for food. Take a self-portrait or have a family member take a photo of you, and then stop using your full length mirror for 90 days. Stop looking at yourself in the mirror if seeing yourself causes you to have negative thoughts or reinforces a negative self-image. Continue to exercise and track your weight-loss. After three months, take another self-portrait or have a family member take a photo. Place the photos side-by-side and look at the difference. If you have stuck with your program of exercise and diet, you should see a striking difference between the two photos. Seeing how much weight you’ve lost is sure to motivate you to keep going.


Eat Light & Stay Cool

DSCF7627The temperatures are rising and soon the full heat of summer will be upon us. The summer heat can diminish  your appetite. You may not feel much like eating especially when the heat combines with high humidity, but you still have to eat to maintain your health. Eating light and fresh foods can provide your body with all the minerals, vitamins and other nutrients your body needs to stay healthy without bogging  you down. Fresh fruits and vegetables taste great, won’t weigh heavy in your stomach and you might even lose a little weight too.

Avoid Fatty Foods

During the summer heat  you should eat light meals and limit the size of your portions. Your body creates heat when digesting food and burning calories. You want to get nutrition without making your body work too hard extracting those nutrients. Fats, grease and oils fill you up quickly but can bog you down. Summer is the time when many people grill outdoors. Limit fried foods and avoid too many burgers and processed meats.  Heavy breads, cheeses, pasta and meats can make you feel lethargic. You can make delicious meals on the grill with light fare, such as shrimp, skinless chicken breasts, fish and vegetables.  You don’t have to sacrifice flavor when eating light. Fresh fruits and vegetables are delicious alone, but you can perk up the flavor of your veggies with your favorite spices. Try some light, grilled lemon-pepper fish or coconut shrimp on your barbecue along with some grilled red, green and yellow peppers.  Stir fry is also a delicious way to enjoy vegetables. Chop fresh peppers, broccoli, snow peas, onions, and cabbage. Stir fry lightly to preserve the crisp and retain nutrients. Top some fresh spaghetti squash with the vegetables for a light dish that will fill you up without bogging you down. Take it easy on the soy sauce as it is loaded with sodium. Choose colorful vegetables and fruit for energy and nutrients including antioxidants. Free radicals are a natural result of cell oxidation, but can lead to cell damage. Antioxidants help to remove free radicals from your cells. Berries, including strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries are a delicious way to get nutrients and rid your body of free radicals.

Stay Hydrated

Remember to drink plenty of water. Dehydration is dangerous and you are especially susceptible to dehydration during the summer months. Eating fruits, including apples, watermelon, strawberries and fresh peaches are not only rich in nutrients like iron and vitamins including vitamin C, they contain water too. Fresh fruits contain natural sugars that can help boost your energy level too. A delicious way to enjoy a variety of fresh fruits is to make a fruit salad. Slice fresh fruits and mix them together well. You can add a bit of fresh fruit juice, or simply enjoy the fruits in their natural juices. Watermelon is delicious after being chilled in the refrigerator. Keep some slices ready for when you need a boost and a cool, refreshing snack.


4 Healthy Holiday Fitness Tips

Photo credit: Kham Tran CC-BY-SA-3.0

The holiday season can wreak havoc on your waistline, but the average holiday weight gain isn’t quite as bad as you think. Many believe that 7 pounds is the average holiday weight gain, but according to the National Institutes of Health report, Americans put on roughly one pound over the holidays. However, even a pound a year can add up over time and lead to obesity and other chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease. Making exercise a priority during the hectic and stressful holiday season can seem virtually impossible, but with a little forethought, you can reap the benefits of a fit, healthy holiday season.

Tip #1 – Plan realistic workouts and healthy meals BEFORE the holidays begin. Cooking make-ahead nutritious meals and designing shorter, daily workouts will help to save time, reduce stress and promote well-being. Even a 10-minute workout is better than not exercising at all.

Tip #2 – Incorporate high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into your exercise routine. HIIT training can be a godsend over the holidays, because it burns maximum calories in the least amount of time. So, next time you get on the treadmill, bike or step machine, choose the interval program option to burn more fat in less time. If you don’t have access to a gym, then pick up a jump rope and alternate bursts of quick activity with a slower pace, or do some jumping jacks or speed play (e.g. 30 second sprint followed by a 90 second recovery jog).

Tip #3 – Do some multitasking; combine holiday tasks and errands with physical activities. For instance, walk fast while shopping or park farther away from the mall entrance, or try taking a 5-minute break from cooking and do some calisthenics to burn those excess calories and reduce stress. Shoveling your own snow can burn a ton of calories, too. When family or friends come to town, take a tour of the neighborhood on foot to see the Christmas lights, or throw an ice-skating party. During TV commercial breaks, do some lunges, jumping jacks, squats, pushups and sit-ups.

Tip #4 – Avoid overeating at holiday parties by eating normally during the day. In other words, don’t starve yourself all day and then eat like a horse at the party. Eat as you normally would during the day, then go to the holiday party and focus on eating low-calorie foods first, such as celery sticks, carrots, fruits and leans meats. Put your snacks on a small plate and then sit down to enjoy it; don’t snack straight from the buffet. After you consume the healthier, fiber-rich, low-calorie foods, then by all means treat yourself to a small, rich and satisfying treat. Chew slowly and enjoy every morsel of it. Occasionally indulging in a tasty treat, without guilt, will help you to avoid overeating. If you do overeat, don’t let the guilt from one mistake destroy the rest of your healthy holiday plans.


8 Foods to Boost Energy

Photo credit: Vi Cult CC-BY-SA-3.0

The saying, “You are what you eat” rings so true for many of us, and who doesn’t want more energy on a daily basis? This article highlights 8 readily available foods to keep energy levels up and spirits high.


Though technically not a food, water is our number one essential life force! Did you know that at the first moment of thirst, our bodies are already in dehydration mode? Thirst is the body’s signal of a desperate need to hydrate. Water helps to carry nutrients to your cells, and many of us are lacking hydration on a daily basis. At the first sign of sluggishness, drink a large glass of water. Chances are, you’ll perk up! You will always feel best when you are properly hydrated.


Fruits contain carbohydrates and sugar, both of which turn to glucose and all of which have gotten a bad wrap in recent years. But in proper doses, they are essential for your body to function energetically. Glucose is easily metabolized into quick energy, making fruits a great pre-workout snack. Some great choices include bananas, grapes, apples, citrus fruits and dates.


Nuts contain great healthy protein, fats and fiber that help keep you full. They contain an array of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, and are high in omega-3s. Nuts also contain magnesium, which helps the body convert nutrients into energy.  A small handful (about ¼ cup) packs a powerful energy punch.


There’s a reason why eggs have been a staple breakfast food for centuries. Eggs are full of amino acids such as leucine, which plays an integral role in how muscles use glucose. Eggs also contain B vitamins such as riboflavin, folate, B12 and B6, vitamins all essential for energy production. Because of this, eggs are said to be helpful with endurance training.

Having a proper breakfast also jump-starts your metabolism for the rest of the day, so eat those eggs!


Quinoa is one of “nature’s perfect foods” and boasts itself as one of the most protein rich foods that we can eat. It is a complete protein on its own, meaning that it contains all 9 essential amino acids. Quinoa is high in Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), which helps in the production of energy within our cells. B2 also improves energy metabolism within brain and muscle cells, and helps cells release energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins.


Green leafy vegetables are true nutritional powerhouses and are some of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence. They are packed with vitamins and minerals that contribute to stable blood sugar levels that in turn help maintain energy levels. Dark leafy greens are also full of iron, which is essential in maintaining red blood cell health throughout the body. Red blood cells are full of oxygen, and iron allows for them to move around at maximum potential. Greater oxygen distribution leads to more alertness and higher concentration capabilities. Popeye was definitely onto something!


Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that has amazing detoxifying and probiotic properties. These detoxifying effects allow for your body as a system to function to its greatest potential. This means that on a cellular level, things are running smoothly and your body can use its energy sources efficiently. In short, this means more energy for you!


We’re talking the good stuff here. In small amounts, dark chocolate with higher cacao content can have some positive effects on your energy levels. Besides containing a small (and safe) amount of caffeine, it contains vitamins and a stimulant similar to caffeine called theobromine. When choosing a bar, the darker the better. If you can also keep the ingredient list to a minimum, this ensures whole ingredients that are less processed and easier for your body to process and reap the benefits.


Good Sources of Calcium & Vitamin D

Photo Credit: MigGroningen CC-BY-SA-3.0

Calcium and vitamin D are essential to strong bones, teeth and skin. Bone cells are replaced much like skin cells. Old bone cells are shed and new bone cells replace them. Your body needs calcium and vitamin D to replace bone cells. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb the calcium it needs to build strong bones and prevent diseases like osteoporosis. You need to eat a variety of foods rich in both calcium and vitamin D and get adequate exercise to keep your bones healthy and strong. Natural sources of vitamin D and calcium are best, but drinking vitamin D and calcium fortified milk and juices can also provide the essential nutrients your bones need. Only your doctor can tell you if you need a vitamin and mineral supplement. If you think you need a supplement, see your doctor for a check up before taking any over-the-counter supplement. 
Your body cannot make calcium; therefore, you have to get your calcium from the foods you eat. Dairy foods, such as milk, yogurt and cheese are rich in calcium and Vitamin D. Spinach, kale, collard greens, okra, white and soy beans, and fish, including trout, salmon, perch and sardines are rich in calcium. Orange juice and milk are often fortified with both vitamin D and calcium. Breakfast cereals, including oatmeal and some cold cereals, are also enriched with extra vitamin D and calcium.
In addition to milk, yogurt and cheeses, you can get vitamin D from foods like tuna, salmon, mackerel and other fatty fishes. Egg yolks and beef liver are also rich in vitamin D. Your skin produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. About 5 minutes per day is enough to stimulate your skin to produce vitamin D. Avoid over-exposure to the sun. Sunburn and skin conditions such as premature aging and skin cancer can result from too much sun exposure. 

Weight-Loss for Your Wedding Day

Photo Credit: Milaniko PD

June is wedding month! Many people plan to get married during the month of June because the weather is mostly mild and sunny. Every bride and groom wants to look their best on the big day. If you’ve put off trying to lose some weight until the last minute, there is still time to lose a few pounds before the final fitting of your dress or tuxedo. Avoid extreme diets and diet pills to lose a few pounds. Focus on exercise and a low-calorie, nutritious diet to get in shape for your wedding day. 
It’s easy to become distracted by all the last-minute wedding plans or to find time to exercise. If you haven’t been physically active or you have exercised only sporadically, try walking for about 30  minutes every day. Walk for 15 minutes in the morning before work or the start of your day. Walk for another 15 minutes in the evening after work or before dinner. Walk farther or faster every day until you can power walk for the full 15 minutes twice each day. Ride a stationary bicycle or use a treadmill if you can’t get outdoors to walk or when it is raining. Make a commitment to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day.
Tone and sculpt your arms and upper chest so that you look your best in your dress by lifting weights. Use a pair of dumbbells every other day for about 10 minutes to tighten up your arms and chest. Pulling on resistance bands also works well to strengthen, tone and sculpt your arms. Stand on a resistance band and pull it upward with your arm in the same manner, as if you are doing biceps curls with dumbbells. Use two bands to work both arms at the same time or alternate sides. 
Choose high-fiber, low-calorie foods like whole grains and vegetables, to help reduce your calorie intake while still getting the nutrition your body needs. Now is not the time to indulge your sweet tooth. Put those chocolates and cake aside. Choose naturally sweet foods like strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, raspberries, apples and grapes. Fruits contain antioxidants to help repair cell damage and are loaded with nutrients. The natural sugars in berries and fruits will also boost your energy. Reduce the amount of soda in your diet, too. Drink naturally flavored water instead of sugary soda to help reduce calories. Drinking more water will also help keep your body hydrated and improve your appearance. Drinking plenty of water will hydrate your skin.