Gone are the days when women were considered the primary purchase decision-makers. Kids, it seems, are the new consumers. Especially when it comes to unhealthy foods. Food marketing to children is now a global phenomenon, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports. And “most of this marketing is for foods with a high content of fat, sugar or salt,” they say. The heaviest hitters: sugared cereals, candy, sweets, sodas and snacks. In 2011, the average child (age 6-11) saw 559 TV ads for kid-targeted cereals. Media spending in this area is only increasing in the face of health pressure, according to Ad Age. And of course, there’s fast food. Children as young as age 2 are seeing more fast food ads … Continue reading
Think your food label vigilance is helping you eat healthier? Don’t get too cozy. Just when we’ve figured out how to be conscientious consumers… marketers get sneakier. They have now found ways to trick you with the food package design of their products. It’s not even just the obvious stuff (like unrealistic serving sizes, which we usually fail to notice, according to researchers). No. It gets much trickier than that. Have a look at the following “hidden packaging persuaders.” #1 – Sights and Smells The FTC may regulate what companies can say about their products, but it doesn’t interfere with other elements of the packaging. But scents and pictures of fresh fruits and veggies may influence us unconsciously. Wait, scents? … Continue reading
We all care about family health but have you ever noticed how describing the evils of junk food and jumbo-portions rarely causes family members to change their eating behavior? If anything, it makes them MORE likely to order the bleu bacon cheeseburger with a side of smothered nachos. As the much-older sister of two younger brothers—ages 21 and 13—I’ve learned a thing or two about dispensing nutrition advice to family. Namely, that it doesn’t work. At least not outright. Come to think of it, the same thing that causes my siblings to rebel against health advice causes my parents to rebel, too. They just don’t like being told what to do by a know-it-all health nut. Call it the family … Continue reading
What’s the difference between a “diet” and healthy nutrition habits? We talk a lot about “diets” on the IdealShape blog (namely how they usually end in tears and regained weight). So I realized it’s probably a good time to clarify the difference between “going on a diet” and “adopting healthy nutrition habits.” The biggest difference between a diet and nutrition habits has nothing to do with the type of food you eat. Rather, it’s the approach to making the changes. To Taper, or Not to Taper? A diet usually implies a complete overhaul of your food choices. “Going on a diet” is a concrete decision. It’s a fell swoop action, and you start today (or maybe tomorrow). Adopting healthy eating … Continue reading
What does it mean to “eat like a man”? Granted, guys often need to eat bigger portions that gals. But HUGE portions? Where did this notion come from? Last week, we looked at how cultural ideas cause us to “eat with our minds” instead of our stomachs. Because of these influences we often eat more than we want, need or can comfortably digest. Yet another example of this: the belief that mammoth portions are “manly.” Take, for example, eating contests. One of my friends tells a story of his closest friends, “two huge alpha male guys,” who once challenged each other to an eating contest. As they stared each other down across the table, each dug into 2 lbs. of … Continue reading
Ever scarf down a giant platter of food and think, “Why did I just eat all that?!” You’re not alone. Eating until full (instead of comfortably satisfied) is a great way to feel like you have a bowling ball in your stomach — and eventually, look like it too. Consuming an excess of calories causes the body to store ‘em as fat (not rocket science, I know). But add to those extra calories a sluggish feeling after every meal — the kind that sends you to the couch, not the gym — and you’re probably getting even more “padding” than you bargained for. Yet so many of us overdo it at mealtimes. We often don’t realize it until it’s too … Continue reading
HOW SUGAR SNEAKILY PREVENTS WEIGHT LOSS, AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT. There are 119 songs about sugar. It has 30 different aliases. Sugar is used as a term of endearment for loved ones. To “sugar” something means to make it more pleasing. Is it safe to say that we are obsessed with sugar? Some 10,000 years after we apparently began cultivating the stuff, those sweet granules remain as enchanting as ever. So enchanting that we keep eating and drinking it, even though it’s making us fat, impairing our brains, causing a diabetes epidemic and spoiling our appetite for healthy food. Talk about tough love. Sugar stems from an ancient word for grit or gravel — which is starting to … Continue reading
LEARNING TO MANAGE STRESS WILL HELP YOU GET FIT. HERE’S HOW TO DO IT. Some people don’t experience stress. But, unless you spend your days in a seaside hammock listening to ocean water lap against the sand as you fan yourself with a straw hat, you probably aren’t one of those people. And if you are, then go back to your sunny siesta. The rest of us need to talk about why stress is capsizing our weight loss efforts. Stress, as we know all too well, is the body’s “fight, flight or fright” mode that occurs in response to threats. Thanks to our sympathetic nervous system, we have the ability to automatically release chemicals that help us handle those threats. … Continue reading
Every once in a while I get a call from my friend in a panic: “Do you want to go out for dinner? I haven’t eaten all day and I need food NOW.” This always strikes me as odd—if not alarming—since she’s hypoglycemic, but I join her for her usual restaurant pick: Italian food. By the time we’re served it’s usually after 8pm and I wonder how she is still breathing. She starts her day at 5am, eats a quick breakfast, and then it’s go time. She’s in charge of a superhuman workload at her full-time job, and then she races to her moonlighting gig where she’s with clients back-to-back until evening. This means she hasn’t eaten since morning. When … Continue reading
Diet sabotage takes many forms. Sometimes, it’s the voice in your head luring you like a siren to abandon your healthy resolutions and indulge just… this… once… But other times, it’s not you, it’s them. Your friends and family, your waiter, the advertiser telling you that you need a Coke to be happy. You could strap yourself to a ship mast and pour wax in your ears, and they’d still find sabotaging you – forgive the pun – a piece of cake. Being swayable is a simple fact of human psychology. It’s part of being adaptable, learning and forming communities that keep us safe. Unfortunately sometimes being part of the group can have terrible consequences for our health. So why … Continue reading
The Deep-Rooted Beliefs That Make You Hate Exercise Moving your body is essential if you want to get in shape. You might be able to ”drop a few pounds” without exercise, but what is that worth? If you want the whole shebang—the trim and toned physique, the energy, the lean muscle to burn calories, the strong immune system, the confidence and the mood-boost—it requires regular physical activity. ... which often brings up the question: “How will I ever make a lifelong habit out of something I hate so much?” Having motivation to exercise is one of the 10 behaviors essential to weight loss in “Think: Use Your Mind to Shrink Your Waistline.” And, like the other nine behaviors, it’s complicated: … Continue reading
Dehydration is the enemy of every weight loss and fitness goal. And “beverages with benefits” usually are, too. So what’s the problem—why can’t we just drink more water already? Well, as always, there’s a complicated answer for this. Actually, there are four complicated answers: sugar dependence, consumerism, misinformation, and habit. Before we get into these, let’s look at why it is critical to drink water for weight loss, and lack of it can be a culprit in packing on extra pounds. As Mayo Clinic reports, dehydration hampers the ability of the body and mind to function optimally. In the mind, even mild dehydration causes lethargy, light-headedness and fuzzy thinking. In the body, toxins aren’t being flushed out, which essentially means … Continue reading
Calories. Those sneaky little things that keep us from losing the amount of weight we want to. Today we are going to talk about a trick to losing weight. How to eat fewer calories. Fast eaters, beware: rushing through mealtime is one of the sneakiest of the 10 behaviors that cause weight gain. Yep, just when we thought giving up fast-food was enough, it turns out that we must also give up the habit of eating our food too fast. Even healthy food, when eaten quickly, can lead to an excess of calories the body doesn’t know what to do with (except store it as fat). In a study conducted by the University of Rhode Island, of 60 adults eating … Continue reading
First, take a deep breath and refrain from scolding yourself. If you’re stalling on any of your new year’s health goals, well, everyone else is too. That’s because procrastination is a natural phenomenon. Psychologists call it “hyperbolic discounting,” which is a fancy term for: party today, suffer tomorrow. We think we’ll enjoy a reward now more than we’ll enjoy it later. There’s yet another reason we do it. In a TED talk on procrastination, a young entrepreneur explains that there is a constant battle between two parts of our brain. One part (the prefrontal cortex) wants to work, while the other (the limbic system) wants to play. So, everyone—the driven and the lazy alike—are susceptible to brain wars when it … Continue reading
Ever notice how, after you read a book, the thing you recall most is the visual imagery you created in your head to go with it? That’s probably why watching a movie after we’ve read the book is such a letdown. The film doesn’t match the characters’ physical features and the settings we imagined. Our mental version feels more real than the director’s rendition. The human visual system is quite possibly the most fascinating—and bossy—part of our brain. Fascinating because it has the ability to take words and abstract ideas, and make them clear and tangible. Math students grasp complex concepts when a teacher draws a graph on the board. We grasp how to assemble an IKEA bookshelf when we … Continue reading
Discover What’s Really Going on in Your Brain When You Try to Lose Weight "Wait. You want me to cut back on sugar? The sugar that’s everywhere? The sugar that gives me a burst of energy and a little rush of happiness? The sugar that is at every social event, and is being handed to me in the form of chocolate cake this very second? Shyeah. Right. NOT LISTENING." If you’ve ever felt like your mind has a “mind of its own” when it comes to diet and exercise, that’s because, in a way, it does. Scientists believe up to 80% of our thoughts and actions are determined by the subconscious mind, outside our awareness and control. 80%! This means … Continue reading
Ever heard of eating raw? Or are you nuking all your nutrients? Me too. Just when I thought I’d conquered healthy eating, it turns out I have an odd tendency to cook everything. And I’d say I’m not the only one. Given the hot debate over whether cooked or raw foods are healthier, it seems that a great many people are reluctant to turn in their pots and pans. And there’s compelling evidence on both sides of the argument. People who practice “raw foodism” believe that cooking foods negatively alters nutrient composition. In other words, we cook the vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and enzymes out of our meals. Accordingly, some proponents strictly adhere to a raw food diet. Others simply believe … Continue reading
Want to be happier with your fitness goals this year and make effortless progress toward them? Of course you do. So take a moment to review your fitness goals BEFORE you put them up on the fridge, and in your planner, and on your blog. Chances are there are a few progress-killers on there that need to go. To find them, here are 4 questions to ask yourself: #1 – Are you still doing “research”? Perfection is procrastination in disguise. Sometimes, delaying is a sign that we have the wrong goal (see #3), but other times it’s a sign that we’re looking for the perfect solution. When searching for the best activity to dive into in the new year, don’t … Continue reading
Are you drinking a meal replacement shake to double your caloric intake and sharply curb your nutrients? Do you like drinking mud? Presumably, you answered no to all of these questions. Replacing 1-2 meals a day with a shake can be a boon to weight loss and appetite control efforts… or it can be a bust, depending on how shake-savvy you are. To get the most out of your meal replacement shake, avoid these three common shake traps: Shake mistake 1: Tunnel vision A meal replacement shake is not a get-out-of-eating-healthy-the-rest-of-the-day card. It’s to help you lower your overall caloric intake, by providing nutrients in a lower-calorie meal and by curbing hunger. So having a shake for lunch and a … Continue reading
“Money can’t buy happiness,” they say. If that is true, it has awkward implications for gift-giving this time of year. Isn’t that the whole reason we flock to stores and brave crowds, clutching wish lists? To buy our loved ones happiness? We gather gifts with visions of their excitement in our minds. We picture them using their gifts throughout the year. It gets us through the madness and mile-long lines. And now we’re told that we can’t purchase cheer, after all? On the hunt for meaningful gifts this year, I’ve been taking this question to heart, and digging up social science research on what sorts of things contribute to happiness. It looks like we really can buy happiness, according to … Continue reading
Sugar cravings are a battle all throughout the year but overcoming those sugar cravings gets especially tough when you are surrounded by sweet goodies during the holiday season. Before we can understand how to navigate this gooey, sugary calorie minefield, I think it helps to understand why stress causes food cravings in the first place. If we can lower our stress, we at least have a fighting chance of defending ourselves against the sugar buffet that has become synonymous with December. So why the stress during such a cheerful time? Depending on where you live, you may be subject to plummeted temps and gloomy weather during the winter. In Utah, it’s chilly, icy and snowy this time of year and … Continue reading
We don’t always make the exercise choices that are in our best interest. Why? Ask a psychologist or behavioral economist, and they’ll tell you the answer is simple: people are not rational. In addition to a desire to be healthy and strong, we’re driven by many other factors: our subconscious, our emotions, seductive advertising, a nagging need to know who’s winning on The Voice, X Factor and American Idol… With so many influences to drive us away from our workout plans, every “nudge” in the right direction helps. Gym motivational fees to the rescue? Recognizing that people hate punishment (especially of the losing-money variety), a few Harvard students decided to test-drive a concept where exercisers pay a fee to their … Continue reading
Hmm… what workout should I do today? Cycling? Tennis? Jogging? CrossFit? You definitely have many options to choose from with all the different fitness trends. If this your typical workout query, then take heed. Experts say that when you’re choosing among A, B, C and D, you’re rather likely to choose E—nothing at all. The reason? Decision making is a complex process for our inner minds, more so than we realize. And here we thought more fitness options would be better! And actually, they are, to an extent—having variety is key to a well-rounded workout and preventing exercise boredom. But too much of a good thing can backfire. The more choices you have, the more potential there is for making … Continue reading
A bit ago, we had a discussion about the dirty, sweaty reality of midday exercise. Well how about the dirty, sweaty reality of vacation exercise? The answer is simple- with travel exercises. Think tight spaces, unpredictable schedules and switching from vacation mode to workout mode. And heaven help you if you’re traveling to a locale where the carbs and sauce flow freely (ahem, Italy). Back during the summer I was getting ready to leave for Syberia, and my biggest exercise challenge was having an audience pretty much all the time. My living quarters were hostels, host family apartments and train cabins. So not only were they small spaces, but they’d be shared spaces. To keep myself on track I put … Continue reading
Is it ethical for companies to airbrush models into perfection? Or to make misleading, even blatantly false, health claims? Whether it's ethical or not, it seems that more and more companies are coming out with misleading ads. Increasingly, companies are being outed for employing illusions and trickery to sell their products. Yet their defense is compelling: people are responsible for being discerning consumers. According to the FTC, it’s only false advertising if a “reasonable” person would believe the claim. So, was it “reasonable” for millions of consumers to be misled about Vitaminwater? Could we realistically believe that a high-calorie, high-sugar, colored water beverage made by Coca-Cola was a health drink? Um… probably not. As their defense lawyer retorted, we drank … Continue reading
Confession: I’m a weekend warrior. And all these studies about how we are sitting ourselves to death are freaking me out. Can anyone really get down to 3 hours of chair time a day? I can’t. I’m an official “desk jockey,” and frankly, a trek desk is not in the cards for me. Not only can I not afford a new desk built for a treadmill, plus a treadmill, but it wouldn’t fit in my teeny apartment. So I save my big workouts for the glorious weekend. But now it’s possible that all those exercise hours are being cancelled out by sitting during the week. Am I sealing my coffin two years earlier? The American Heart Association says that for … Continue reading
When you think yoga, you think stretching, right? Or perhaps contortionist poses worthy of the circus. Well, you can stretch any old time, and frankly, you’re just not very flexible. So, no, you’re not going to yoga with me. This is the typical conversation I have with my friends and family, and even my students at the senior center. I am determined to set them, and everyone else, straight about yoga. First, there isn't just one yoga style. In other words, yoga isn’t just for athletes and gumbies and chicks. Men do yoga. Injured people do yoga. Seniors, exercise beginners and really inflexible people (i.e., me) do yoga. If Jane Fonda can do yoga at 74, you can do it … Continue reading
There has been a lot of hype about omega-3 fatty acids. But are omega-3 fatty acids really that important? I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to start popping fish pills just because someone says it’s healthy. (Actually I’m not going to do it at all, because I’m allergic to fish.) But I keep hearing about the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids. Today I read a seafood ad: “Did you know that your body does not naturally produce Omega-3 fatty acids?” No I didn’t. So is it really rich in “awesome health benefits,” as the ad touted, or are fish sellers just looking for a good hook? But then I remembered that one of our regular readers mentioned … Continue reading
I didn’t want to sign up for a tennis class. Frankly, I’m a do-it-yourself kind of person. I didn't want fitness advice from a tennis instructor. The thought of hiring other people makes me wince. “But I can just do it myself,” I think. Or I think about the money. Or I think about how they invented the Internet for a reason. But something occurred to me this year: maybe I can’t do everything on my own. Why did it occur to me? Probably because it occurred to Penelope Trunk, a serial entrepreneur and career blogger whose advice I take seriously. And she wrote a post about how she swears by coaching. Wait, a dynamic entrepreneur (and someone who IS … Continue reading
Sure we know that we need to drink more water. We ALSO know that it’s hard to resist the spell-casting ads cleverly deployed by Coca-Cola and other beverage makers. That old “carry a refillable water bottle” trick is great. But for some of us, it’s not enough. We still crave a special drink when the clock strikes 3pm. However, after uncovering the marketing secrets of Coca-Cola, I think I’ve found the solution to our craving conundrum: Steal all their ideas and use them on water instead! Think Like an Advertiser The smartest minds in consumer psychology say that our subconscious mind controls it all: what we crave, what we buy, and even largely what we experience (including how things … Continue reading
That’s funny. When I think back to some recent times I felt revived, relaxed, bold, adventurous or radiantly healthy, Coca-Cola doesn’t come to mind, despite what the coca-cola ads. Neither does Mountain Dew or a McCafé frozen mocha. Pretty sure Vitamin Water wasn’t there. Nor Snapple, or even Honest Tea. Come to think of it, nowhere in my memory of ANY special experience does a beverage figure into the picture. So what’s all this business about drinks elevating our lives? Why are New Yorkers taking to the streets over the prospect of a new law that could downsize their restaurant drink portions, calling it a violation of constitutional liberties? IT'S JUST A SMALLER COKE. I think we’ve been brainwashed. Actually, let … Continue reading
If you’re part of the IdealShape community, you’ve likely already decided that you have some control over your health. You’re chasing down the food, exercise and psychological choices that will give you the healthiest life possible. But have you ever believed that your quest for health is in spite of certain genetics? That you might just be "racking up" health points now in order to enjoy a few more good years before some predestined genetic disease strikes? I’ve always looked at my health that way. Like I need to get healthy now so that I’ll be stronger and better-able to deal with the health ailments that'll inevitably plague me in 10 or 20 years. Diabetes, cancer and thyroid conditions run … Continue reading
Watching the Olympics makes me feel like crap. I will never excel in any sport. My attention span is just too short. Just look at all the activities I’ve taken up in the last year: tennis, running, aerial yoga, stair-sprinting. While in Russia I discovered how much fun volleyball is. But before I dive into that, I want to learn to swim. And dance the Tango. Oh, and I’ve upgraded my cycling gear with every intention of boosting my cycling skills this fall. Meanwhile, Michael Phelps and Aly Raisman just raked in multiple Olympic medals in their sports. How? By channeling 100% focus into that single activity. Or so I thought… As it turns out, Olympians actually have “fitness ADD” … Continue reading
Fruit is packed with vitamins, minerals and other slimming nutrients, and fresh fruit contains the most. That’s why Michael Pollan instructs us to “Eat fresh, in-season produce” in his popular nutrition book “Food Rules.” But do you know how to scope out the freshest fruit? As it turns out, I didn’t. A giant bucket of strawberries arrived at the table last week from a neighbor’s cottage farm, and they were the creepiest looking berries I’d ever seen. I hid from them until my host forced me to try one. They turned out to be the sweetest, freshest strawberries I’d ever eaten! So, after staining my fingers red, I set out with an open mind and a new lust for fresh … Continue reading
Pessimists and procrastinators, listen up! There is only one way to stick to an exercise routine. What is it? Make it a routine! Exercise should have a comfortable, well-worn-in niche in your daily regimen. Of course, you’ll be upgrading the particulars every few weeks. (If you stick to the same old stuff, and you’ll probably plateau in a month’s time.) The point is, you need to work out automatically, right on schedule, without making excuses. Once exercise becomes a permanent wedge in your schedule, you’ll reach your goals in record time. Here are five ways to make your fitness routine unshakable: 1. Find the right program for you. That's one that truly works with your lifestyle and entails a realistic time … Continue reading
For most people, getting a lower body workout comes easy—you walk, run, cycle or climb stairs every day. It’s the strong and toned upper body you have to work for. And who wants to spend summer evenings doing bicep curls and overhead presses in a stuffy gym? You need some fun arm workouts. With these fun exercises, you don’t have to. They’re total-body workouts with extra emphasis on the arms and core, and they’re perfect for summer—and for inviting friends: Summer sports Tennis, swimming and volleyball are three summer activities that’ll give you arms and shoulders so sculpted, you could make a Grecian statue jealous. If you’ve been thinking of joining a sports team or class, or even planning some … Continue reading
Stairs were made for exercising on-the-go! Whether you’re hiking the stairwells at work, stepping your way up the Eiffel Tower, or training for a stair climbing race for charity, get ready to see your bod in serious shape. Of course, just like sprinting, there are several ways to improve your stair climbing workout and avoid injury. I’m currently living on the 6th floor of an apartment building and I’ve been hitting the stairs every day to try out different things. If you’re aiming for toned glutes, quads, thighs and calves, a few tips before you start hoofing it: 1. Posture Good form is important for avoiding soreness and injury while stair climbing. Lift your torso up and bend forward slightly … Continue reading
Living in Siberia has me thinking about “community” a lot. People tend to congregate here. Friends and families are close-knit. People look after each other (and sit on top of each other) on the bus. It’s not uncommon to come home and find your neighbor at your kitchen table. It’s great to have personal space and “me time” to think, but sometimes being part of the group will get you further. People here have a strong sense of how community is vital to their survival. Social support is essential to the survival of an exercise regimen for the same reasons. It might be easier to pop in your ear buds and hit the trails after work, but what happens on … Continue reading
Ask any marathoner—in other words, ask just about anyone—and you’ll get why running has become so popular. It feels natural, it requires minimal equipment and setup time, and perhaps best of all, it inspires a feeling of solidarity. Burpees with friends? No thanks. But running with friends is fun, and running a race with friends can make the difference between pushing to the finish line and pooping out. But are the fitness benefits really there? And is it worth wrecked knees? I think it’s time we break down the pros, cons and twisted ankles of running, starting with my own cautionary tale… I took up running about six months ago. It was for a good reason: everyone else was doing … Continue reading
As I was dangling there, harnessed by an aerial yoga hammock, it occurred to me: I should compile a list of the best workout foods to eat before your workout. While nausea, bloating and feeling weighted down by a full stomach are concerns during any workout, they seem to double when you’re inverted. And they triple when you’re hanging upside-down with a band across your stomach. Downward dogs and inverted pigeons aren’t the only tummy-troubling poses. Even if you stick to the basics—cobra pose, bridge pose, cat and cow—pretty much anything that contracts and stretches your abdominal muscles can get your stomach churning. (Bikram may be another beast altogether.) You probably already know all this. But as I hadn’t done … Continue reading
Track what you eat. You hear it all the time in regards to weight loss. Keeping a food log is one of the cardinal rules of going on a diet. But obsessing over the details can definitely kill the fun for some people. Maybe you worry that it will ruin the joy of simply being in touch with your food and enjoying healthier eating habits. Maybe you’ve stocked your fridge with healthy foods, and decided not to go the calorie-counting route. Or maybe nutrition tracking just seems like that one extra trivial detail you don’t have time for. That was my view of it. I stopped tracking what I ate a long time ago, because 1) I thought it was … Continue reading
Have you noticed that after a great lifting session, everything rocks? YOU in particular? You feel confident, strong, steady and in control. I’ve certainly noticed this. I’ve also noticed that when I sit in the ol’ office chair all day, I feel flabby. Mentally. Emotionally. Willpower-ly. You want to overcharge me on my phone bill? Sure. Whatever. Yet it seems that even just a few minutes of strength training (with proper warm-up, of course) can fuel confidence in a way no jaunt on the elliptical can. Is it a testosterone thing? An adrenaline thing? Maybe we feel like we have strong muscles after pumping iron because our muscles stay contracted after the workout. Or maybe it’s all in our minds. … Continue reading
Weekend warrior-ism isn’t going to save us. In fact, a daily workout isn’t even enough. If you’re spending most of your day sitting at your desk, experts say you’re in the health-risk zone. So how do you get out of the health-risk zone? Exercise at work! But, as we all know, fitness advice sometimes falls short of reality. Constantly jumping up to walk to coworkers’ offices in the middle of a project, rather than calling or emailing, might not be feasible. And taking a midday exercise break can render you tired and distracted back at the office. So how are we supposed to prevent work from killing our health, and our health from killing our productivity at work? I wrote … Continue reading
And now, for the moment of truth: sometimes you can master motivation, flawlessly fuel your workout, and have your gym and snack bags packed—and still not be able to fit exercise into your daily routine. Not midday, anyway. I’m an afternoon exerciser, because it’s my best time of day to workout. But even if you work out in the morning or after work, research says that everyone should be taking a midday pause to get some daily excersise. Sitting for 8 hours is great way to die early, no matter how active you are the rest of the day. So, dutifully, I aim to work out in the afternoon. Only my “midday pause” typically turns into a three-hour affair. First, … Continue reading
How do you get your loved ones to care about being healthy? Are you a good or a bad health influence on those you love? You’ve tried discussing the health benefits. You’ve tried scaring them with the facts. You gave up dessert hoping they’d join you, and you lavished them with praise when they dusted off their bike. You gently explained that you were worried. Then you bitterly announced they looked 9 months pregnant. And after all this… it seems you’ve had no influence whatsoever. Mom’s still carting around large McFrappés. Your spouse insists that trekking up and down the stairs is plenty of exercise. And your kids, you suspect, are squandering their lunch money on Cheetos and Mountain Dew. … Continue reading
It’s the season for overhauls and new (for real this time) beginnings! If you’re on a roll, why not freshen up your fitness regimen too? Chances are you’ll find a few things it’s time to dust off, simplify or dunk in the trash. And you might find a little more weight loss motivation as well. Ready? De-junk A feng shui principle I’ve always loved is that you have to clear out old things or new things won’t come. Clutter blocks progress. It sends a message – to the universe, to your subconscious – that you aren't open to change. Further, it physically prevents fresh additions, because there’s simply no room. So even if you liked the old thing, it might be … Continue reading
All that about how we need to be “living in the moment”? Sometimes, frankly, the moment is overrated. Like when it comes to saving for retirement, avoiding debt, getting our work done and taking care of our health. In reality, we’re enamored with the now. And our future selves are suffering because of it. Behavior economists have observed the underlying cause of our now-ism: we have a natural psychological tendency to overvalue present experiences and undervalue future experiences. We think a pleasure today will be more enjoyable than the same pleasure tomorrow. And, conversely, we think something bad will be a little easier to swallow tomorrow. We even value our current experience so much that we’ll sacrifice a big reward … Continue reading
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin Increasingly, I’m in awe of the amazing ability we have to triumph over change and challenging circumstances. Some people blame circumstance for their failure. Others cling to old, outdated paradigms until they kill themselves off. But most people don’t. Most people know, innately, that if they want to continue to enjoy their families and passions, and to feel their best for as long as possible, they have learn adaptability. In the mornings I teach English at a senior center to immigrants from Russia and China. In their 60s and 70s, … Continue reading
Today I started reading “Poke the Box.” It’s a manifesto by Seth Godin about doing something new and scary, instead of taking a nap. Godin is warning us about getting too comfortable with routine, and also how quick we are to use the “escape hatch” when we do try something new and it ends up being uncomfortable. He says we’ll never reach our potential if we avoid failure. I realized that for the last several months, I’ve been “poking the box” with regard to exercise. It has not been comfortable. It hasn’t really been intentional, either. I don’t know what inspired me to take up tennis and running, two activities I’ve never been interested in. In fact, running? I hate … Continue reading
My uncle used to have a wooden spoon called “Mr. Smack.” My cousins got spanked with it when they were bad, and the rest of the time it scowled down at them from atop the fridge, a menacing warning. I was always surprised at how little it affected their behavior. A new exhibit at Disney’s Epcot Center sought a more positive approach to changing kids’ behavior: teaching by fun and example. The “Habit Heroes” exhibit was launched to help address the alarming weight gain among youngsters in the U.S. Michelle Obama says nearly one in three children in America is overweight or obese. Earlier this week, Randy wrote a candid post about the challenges of getting healthy kids and helping … Continue reading
When professional tennis star Maria Sharapova needs to save a match, she gets into her “zone.” “I take it one point at a time and really focus,” she says. Penning an hour-long workout into your planner can seem laughable when you have a business to run, a house to clean, a family to organize. And if you exercised only once in the last two weeks, or you’re behind in your training for an athletic event, it might seem pointless to even lace up your trainers today. Before you dismiss your exercise goal as a pipedream, try Sharapova’s technique for turning a game around. Athletic focus. Take your eye off your losing score, and fix it on the ball flying at … Continue reading
Leap Year Day has me thinking about how powerful it can be to step outside the box, even for just a day. Suddenly people start thinking about the “possible.” We had an extra day, February 29. What could we do with it? My colleagues threw parties or went out to dinner with friends even though it was a weekday. In Ireland, Leap Year Day used to be the one day every 4 years that it was acceptable for a woman to propose marriage to a man. Sure, there are really 365.24 days in every year, but Leap Year Day feels like a free day. It’s exempt from the rules. I’ve had a few fitness experiences that got me thinking about … Continue reading
I didn’t need Mayo Clinic to tell me I was sleep deprived. The crankiness, forgetfulness, public napping and new obsession with Clear Eyes were all the signs I needed. It’s been a long two months. Thankfully, the grisly work project that was keeping me up is over and I’m ready to sleep. Specifically, I’m ready to start claiming the same deep, rapturous Zzzz’s that I’ve been watching my cat Penelope enjoy. I need to figure out how to get the best sleep. And apparently so does the rest of America. The Sleep in America poll for 2011 revealed that 43% of Americans rarely or never get a good night’s sleep on weeknights. 60% say they experience a sleep problem every … Continue reading
We get it. Rest is just as important to fitness gains as the actual workout. I think the real question is: what exactly does ‘rest’ mean? You worked out yesterday, so tonight you’re obliged to slip into your pink bunny slippers and queue up Comcast on Demand? I used to think that. Gee, I sure would like to go for a bike ride around the park, but I’d reverse everything I did at the gym yesterday, I worried. I’ve since learned that letting your body ‘rest’ doesn’t mean playing dead. At least, it doesn’t have to. If you did a marathon of walking lunges and sumo squats yesterday, well, maybe you’ve earned the couch time. But you don’t have to … Continue reading
Last year, hordes of people paid thousands of dollars apiece on eBay for pairs of Nikes. Specifically limited-edition “BacktotheFuture” Nikes to benefit Michael J. Fox’s charity for Parkinson’s disease. While Nike didn’t get to keep the $4.7 million in profits, this benevolent act boosted its image too. Nike fans retweeted stories about the fundraiser and redoubled their fandom. The warm fuzzy probably drove some out to buy a pair of plain old Nikes to support the charitable company. You can see how causemarketing is powerful. By linking up with a good cause, companies create a passionate following and good deed stories go viral. Not only do people buy beneficent products even when purse strings are tight, but they’re often happy … Continue reading
We get it. You don’t need a babysitter at the gym. And yes, you’ve heard of YouTube. But sometimes, an hour with a personal trainer is worth 10 on Google. These are some of those times: You’re on deadline. The sooner you start training for that triathlon, bike race or other athletic event, the better. And before you start specializing, it’s good to build foundational skills, experts say. A few sessions with a fitness coach can get you started with a well-rounded routine to build your strength and endurance, which means you’ll get more out of your training without risk of injury. You’re piggybacking on someone else’s workout. Watching the big kids at the gym seems like a no-brainer, until: … Continue reading
This pocket-sized workout might be deceptively powerful Good-bye long, drawn-out cardio. In just four minutes, experts are saying, you can accomplish double what you have been by spending hours at the gym. Appealing to our shortcut-loving brains, the “burst” movement is catching on quickly. The most popular example is the Tabata Protocol (no, this isn’t a Star Trek reference): also known as the “four minute workout,” it calls for eight bursts of 20-second rigorous activity, separated by 10-second periods of active rest. The rigorous activity can be cardio: full-blast running or cycling, interspersed with walking or slow peddling, for example. Or it can be a circuit of full-body resistance exercises, like burpees, plyometric jumps, lunges, mountain climbers, squats or jumping … Continue reading
I’ve been searching for some fresh health tips this week. I’ve trolled Fitness Magazine, Men’s Health, even the SelectHealth quarterly newsletter. Finally today I found it: an article on Yahoo! by Prevention Magazine about getting in sync with the body’s natural energy and eating cycles to lose weight. The daily play-by-play wasn’t my inspiration. It was the comments section. Specifically, 1,372 seriously annoyed people—most of them ticked off with the advice, the rest ticked off at the people who were ticked off. The exasperating advice? Not 4-Hour Body type stuff. It asks for no extreme diet experiments, no gut-busting workouts. In fact, it’s fairly simple guidance: Get up in the morning, squeeze in a burst of cardio, eat breakfast, eat … Continue reading
Your better half is committed to eating healthy in the New Year, and you’re behind ’em one hundred percent. Or are you? New research has found that when it comes to nutrition habits, we are who we’re hitched to. Which means that, despite your nagging about his dangerous three-bag-a-day Cheeto addiction/her habitual midnight Taquito fests, you could actually be the culprit. Gulp. The Marriage Diet A diet study published in November offered an inside look at this phenomenon. The research team, led by UC Berkeley’s Mark Pachuki, tracked the eating patterns of some 3,400 people—groups of spouses, friends, brothers and sisters—over a 10 year period. As the decade stretched on, they watched in awe (or neutral scientific observation) as the … Continue reading
You’ve been pigging out for a month straight and now you’re frantically preparing to reverse the damage and start fresh in the New Year. Well in the words of Snoop Dogg: just chill. The National Institutes of Health found that people tend to overestimate the damage done during the holidays. The study showed that most Americans gain only one pound between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. So before you overcompensate with rash diet tricks, it pays to get some perspective. Besides, that’ll buy you time to sort through all the bad diet advice out there. Including these: Bad diet advice #1: Reverse holiday chowing with a detox Considering a New Year’s cleanse? Fasting might seem to offer a fresh start … Continue reading
Ahhh… choooooooooo. There goes your workout regimen. And you thought regular exercise was supposed to keep you healthy! (Honestly, it does.) Sometimes there’s just no avoiding a cold during sniffle season. If you work in an office building or have school-age kids, you’re practically doomed to catch something. Then there’s starting a new exercise routine, which can temporarily lower your immune system. So can over-exercising. But never mind the cause. Getting sick might be almost inevitable, but it doesn’t have to send you back to square one in your fitness regimen. At first sneeze you don't have to continue working out when sick but you can follow these steps to make sure you get right back in the game: Use … Continue reading
Many of us would like to relearn the art of single tasking. Achieving goals depends on it. Sanity depends on it. Lately I’ve been looking into grad school again. I wanted to make headway on my plan over the weekend. I committed the whole delicious two-day stretch to figuring out the best type of program for what I want to do (behavior economics). Also, the best schools, the best cities for students with dogs, and the types of companies and jobs I might want to work at after graduation. By Sunday night, I had under my belt: 43 webpages open in my browser. A post-it slipped into a Time magazine article about my chosen field of study. 10 pages of … Continue reading
Want to see the joy you get from butter rolls fade faster than a Kardashian marriage? Of course you don’t. But according to psychologists, it’s kind of inevitable. And with that fizzled joy comes—yes—a need for more butter rolls. And candied yams. And eventually, the whole pumpkin pie. It’s not easy keeping ourselves happy. For that we can thank hedonic adaptation, a natural human phenomenon whereby we adapt to the things that make us happy. Regardless of what happens, we always end up more or less back where we started, happiness-wise. So how can we stay happy? It’s the classic story of the lottery winner who starts to feel about his Bentley the same way he used to feel about … Continue reading
Calorie counting might not be working anymore, according to a New York Times write-around of a recent study. The Harvard study tracked more than 120,000 participants over the course of 10 to 20 years, following their habits and their weight. Their findings: even those who stayed true to the golden rule “eat less and exercise more” tended to gain weight. Researchers concluded that when it comes to preventing long-term weight gain, certain diet and lifestyle behaviors can thwart one’s success even if they match “calories in and calories out.” Calorie counting as a weight management tool has some flaws, too, according to Jane Brody, author of the New York Times story. She suggests that maybe the practice hasn’t been working … Continue reading
This year, skip the calorie-counting and pass the gravy. Indulgence may be the best strategy in your Thanksgiving table game plan.
We had our first snow in Salt Lake City this past weekend, and it got me thinking: 'will my workout regimen withstand the winter?' After staying in to ponder the question over a gingerbread latte and playtime with kitten, I arrived at an unequivocal answer: No. My workout goals are in danger because of the winter blues. Are yours? Here are six telltale signs: 1. You’re a hiker, biker, runner or soccer player. If all your go-to workouts are outdoor activities, you’re headed straight for excuse-ville when the weather turns bad. Get your indoor backup activities planned now. Sign up for an indoor sport or find a gym you’ll actually like. 2. Your mantra is “out of swimsuit, out of … Continue reading
The amount of treats you can eat without realizing it is spooky. Even scarier: the calories and sugar lurking in frosted cupcakes, cookies, pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin cream cheese muffins and those little orange taffies with pumpkin faces are enough to turn YOU into a pumpkin. Let others buckle under the weight of Halloween temptations. Use Brain Training techniques to prevent over eating. Keep your hand out of the candy cauldron this Halloween. Following are four easy ways to ‘trick’ yourself into indulging smartly, so the few bites you do enjoy will be all the sweeter (science says that’s all you’ll enjoy anyway). • Write the goal down. “I will not take the kids’ trick-or-treating candy to ‘ration’ … Continue reading
Could you use a little help from your Zzzzs? Our newest audio hypnosis program is designed to help people reap the powerful health benefits of sleep. It’s no secret that sleep quality and weight control are closely related. But how many people know the secret to getting a good night’s rest? As far as we can tell, not many. Poor sleep quality chips away at strength, energy and appearance. It prevents the body from effectively managing weight, hunger and cravings. And it continues on and on, because sleep habits are usually the last place people think to look when they’re frustrated with their health and fitness levels. Our new program, “Deep Sleep for Effective Weight Loss,” follows the 28-day format … Continue reading
Who wants to spend extra time at the gym? If you’re like most of us, you want to get in, get maximum results and get back to the rest of the things on your 'to-do' list. The health sciences are constantly evolving and while some things never change, there are some workouts that long ago proved to be not worth the effort. Some of these are such a staple of the fitness world, however, that they hold a steadfast claim on our routines for better or worse. So here's a list of five common workout components that are doing absolutely nothing for you—plus an exercise tutorial for what to do instead. 1. Sit-ups and crunches. Sad news: no matter which … Continue reading
Yesterday I was outlining the many benefits of yoga for one of my guy friends, who complained of tight muscles and achiness. He agreed that yoga was great and said he totally understood why people do it. Pause. “So why don’t you do it?” His response: “Yoga is for girls… and hippies.”
Do you have a sweat-aversion? Here’s why you should sweat it.
Let’s face it: there’s a good reason for our gymphobia. The gym usually sucks. Stuffy locker rooms. Bad techno. Sweaty equipment. Buzzing fluorescent lights. Grunters. It’s too easy to think of 1,001 reasons not to go. Strange, then, that reportedly 7.5 million people are flocking to Zumba classes every week. Are you wondering if it might be worth a try?
“Perfection is a mean, frozen form of idealism.” That’s what author Anne Lamott writes in her book Bird by Bird. It’s about her experience becoming a published writer, yet it’s eerily pertinent to fitness. Her tips on writer’s block? They’re what helped me plow through my exercise impasse in December. I consider myself something of an expert on achieving gridlock in a workout routine. I’m the queen of perfectionism. Or is it procrastination? Or maybe it’s planning to exercise when I should really be exercising. Whatever it is, I've found that adopting Lamott's anti-perfection mantra is a pretty easy way to catapult fitness results. Striving for perfection is immobilizing, she says. (This happens to be true whether you’re trying … Continue reading
What’s the fastest way to kill your New Year’s fitness goals? Researchers say having too many options and too much information is a surefire way to doom them.
Tips for a healthy, productive holiday shopping trip. Burn extra calories and avoid the shopping hangover!
Protein shakes for weight loss… we know them by different names but drink them for the same reasons — to replace a meal or snack; boost our protein intake, especially in conjunction with a workout; and promote our weight loss efforts with protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals. While we may guzzle them for universal reasons, not all shakes are created alike. Unfortunately, we have a tendency not to be very discerning… “In the grand scheme of things, most people choose their protein based on the effectiveness of the marketing, not the product itself,” writes Kevin Neeld on AskMen.com. Yes, I used to be one of those people. “That’s a pretty-colored label, and look — 10g protein and 24 vitamins … Continue reading
When it comes to eating for weight loss, one of the worst things you can do is skip meals or starve yourself. However, there are certain times when it's actually best not to eat.
Announcing a new program to help you keep your brain and body fit through the holidays!
Weight loss hypnotherapy can allow you to change subconscious thoughts and behaviors that lead to weight gain. Learn how our new Brain Food program works.
Are polyphenols, probiotics and other wonder-supplements worth your time?
Can you really “sweat it out”? Here’s what experts say about exercising while you’re under the weather.
When used correctly, meal replacement shakes can skyrocket your weight loss program. But use them the wrong way and they can be ineffective, a drag, even dangerous to your health. Get the full benefits of your weight loss shake by avoiding these common mistakes.
IdealShape, a growing Utah-based weight loss company, welcomes established entrepreneur Carla Meine as its new CEO. Meine brings passion for health and extensive customer service management background to IdealShape.
Questions and misconceptions often crop up about weight loss hypnosis. For those who don’t know much about “hypnotic suggestion therapy,” or who haven’t experienced it for themselves, it probably sounds downright weird. Here’s the real deal about weight loss hypnosis.
Resistance bands come in many shapes, sizes and resistance levels and can be used to stretch, strengthen and tone the entire body. Weighing just a few ounces, a resistance band can create 30 lbs. of resistance!
America’s weight problem is more complex than today’s studies and statistics portray. Effective weight loss doesn't start with our employers, the media or the government -- it starts with the individual.