Healthy Easter Basket Ideas

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Nothing against jelly beans and marshmallow Peeps (except that they’re full of sugar, empty calories and artificial dyes)…it’s just that if we’re going to reach our health and fitness goals — by swimsuit season, no less — we need to approach the Easter candy spree with caution. When it comes to holidays, Easter rivals Halloween […]

Why Happiness Leads To Weight Loss

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It’s no secret that feeling sad can drive our impulsive choices — usually in the wrong direction. (Hence the stereotypical pairing of articles about heartbreak with photos of empty Ben & Jerry’s cartons.) But does happiness lead to weight loss? Do you think that happiness can drive our choices in the right direction? Researchers at […]

Avoid Mindless Eating at the Dinner Table

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It’s well proven that when it comes to how we eat (and what we eat), we’re highly influenced by external cues. According to the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, dieters are even more susceptible to unconscious “nudges” than non-dieters! This has important consequences for dinnertime: researchers have shown that eating a low calorie dinner […]

7 Ways to Make Your Meal Replacement Shakes Even Healthier!

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I know, I know — just when you thought it couldn’t get any better than a protein-rich, fiber-rich, low-calorie meal that takes about two seconds to prepare and can be eaten on-the-go… Meal replacement shakes are great for curbing caloric intake because they enhance fullness and deliver loads of essential nutrients. When protein is a […]

Is Salt Bad for Weight Loss?

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According to the American Heart Association, 9 out of 10 people are consuming too much sodium. Not hard to do, apparently. The daily value (DV) for sodium is 2,400 mg, which is about a teaspoon of salt. But the AHA says: -    1,500 mg is actually the *better* daily allowance of sodium -    and 3,400 […]

Debunking Breakfast Cereal

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Boxed cereal is pretty much the American standard for a quick, healthy breakfast. The question is: why? True, certain kinds of cereal are healthier than white bread with jam, or Pop Tarts, or a maple donut. But not by much… For the most part, it seems the idea that cereal is a great, waistline-friendly way […]

Why 1-3 is the Ideal Number of New Year’s Resolutions

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Popular career blogger Penelope Trunk says New Year’s resolutions are a path to failure. Statistically, she is right. But the New Year just feels like the right time to set goals. After a break from work and distance from the daily flurry, we are usually reenergized and refocused on the big picture. We’re ready to hit the ground […]

Best Winter Cardio

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“Brrr” is no excuse to queue up Netflix, at least not until after you’ve had your workout. Frosty weather or not, the CDC says we need 2.5 hours of cardio per week in order to help stave off chronic disease. In fact, we probably need even more to keep from packing on the winter (ahem: […]

Is Your Workout Buddy Holding You Back?

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Conventional exercise wisdom says that we’ll be more motivated, accountable and stoked to exercise with a workout buddy. As my friend Gail says, walking with a friend is “just more fun.” But recently she complained that she and her friend have opposing work schedules now, and she’s started to fall off the fitness wagon. While […]

5 Rules for Tracking Your Fitness Results

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As we’ve seen, health research doesn’t come with a guarantee. The best way to fine-tune our fitness and diet regimens is to take some of that expert advice and test it out for ourselves. After all, we spend a whole lot more time in our own skin, observing what we do and how we feel, […]

Are Scientific Studies Reliable Research?

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“They just came out with a new study…” If you’re like me, you cringe when you hear this. Before someone can finish that sentence, I’m already feeling frustrated, suspicious, confused and jaded—about whatever they’re going to say, and about health research in general. Every day it seems like there’s new research that *completely debunks* previous […]

What NOT to Say to Someone Who’s Overweight

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So they want to lose weight and you want to help. Motivating our loved ones to achieve their health goals is often on our minds, but to be effective, we need to be careful about how we put it. You might think you’re being helpful with the following approaches, but they usually backfire. Let’s explore […]

Weight Loss Sabotage: Is Your Ego To Blame?

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Have you been experiencing setbacks in your weight loss regimen lately? If so, your ego might actually be causing your weight loss sabotage. It seems like a funny concept… wouldn’t our ego be what drives us to the finish line? We don’t want to be embarrassed by a flabby body. We don’t want people to […]

Are You Drinking More Calories Than You Realize?

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“You can’t out-cardio a bad diet.” That means no matter how much we exercise, we still need to watch what we eat—and how many calories we consume.  And some of us might be reaching our whole calorie allotment for the day “in one fell swig.” Before I got to researching, I probably was. I was […]

Summer Party Food: What to Watch Out For

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What’s the secret to eating healthy Summer party food? Obviously, the potato chips and brownies are going to set you back a few belt notches. But seemingly healthy foods can spoil your body shaping goals, too, if you aren’t careful! Here are five of the sneakiest party offenders: Store-Bought Guacamole & Salsa Guacamole and salsa […]

Food Advertising to Children

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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 advertising 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, […]

Food Package Design: 3 Ways It’s Fooling You

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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 […]

Is Your Family Eating Healthy?

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We all care about our family eating healthy 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 […]

Faceoff: “Diets” vs. Nutrition

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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 […]

The Secret to Eating Perfect Diet Portions

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Ever scarf down a giant platter of food and think, “Why did I just eat all that?!” You’re not alone. Eating perfect diet portions is a skill few have mastered. Eating until full (instead of comfortably satisfied) is a great way to feel like you have a bowling ball in your stomach — and eventually, […]

How Sugar Prevents Weight Loss

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HOW SUGAR 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 […]

Manage Stress And Lose Weight

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LEARN TO MANAGE STRESS AND LOSE WEIGHT. 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 […]

Why We Hate Exercise And How to Fix it

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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 […]

Liquid Gold: How to use water for Weight Loss

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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, […]

4 Ways Procrastination is Harming Your Health (and How to Kick It)

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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 […]

IdealShape Launches “Think” a book about the Power of Weight Loss and the Mind

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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 […]

The Raw Deal: Eating Raw or Not?

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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 […]

How to Give Meaningful Gifts

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“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 […]

Sugar Cravings: How to Avoid Them During the Holidays

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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. […]

Would You Join a Gym With a Motivational Fee?

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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 […]

Choice Paralysis: The Repercussions of Too Many Fitness Trends

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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 […]

Great Travel Exercises for Tight Spaces

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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 […]

Misleading Ads: When Is It OK for the Media to Mislead Us?

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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 […]

Weekend Warriors: Not Doomed After All?

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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 […]

Which Yoga Style Matches Your Fitness Goals?

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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 […]

Are You Robbing Yourself Of Priceless Fitness Advice?

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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 […]

How We’re Defenseless Against Creepy Coca-Cola Ads

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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, […]

What you can change About Genetics

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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 […]

Cross Training: The Olympians’ Secret to Ultimate Fitness

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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 […]

5 Simple Ways to Squeeze More Fresh Fruit into Your Diet

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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 […]

The Secret to a Fitness Routine That Sticks

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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 […]

Arm Workouts: 4 Fun Ways to Sculpt Your Arms This Summer

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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 […]

7 Ways to Improve Your Stair Climbing Workout

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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 […]

Why it pays to have a fitness buddy

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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 […]

Should Running Be Your Go To Workout?

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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 […]

Strong muscles, strong mind: so lift up!

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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? […]

The Best Time of Day to Workout: The Sweaty Reality of Midday Exercise

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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 […]

Are you a good or a bad health influence?

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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 […]

Adaptability: Will You Adapt or Self Destruct?

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“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 […]

Should You Love Your Workouts?

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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 […]

Athletic Focus: How You Can Achieve It

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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 […]

Why Vacations Are Good For Your Fitness

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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 […]

How to Get the Best Sleep: Making the Most Out of the Hour Before Bed

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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 […]

What Your Trainer Means By “Rest Day?”

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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 […]

A Good Cause Can Save Your Fitness Regimen

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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 […]

5 Tips It’s Time To Get A Personal Trainer

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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. […]

Is the 4 Minute Workout Legit?

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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 […]

Overcoming Our Annoyance with Health Tips

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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 […]

The Marriage Diet: Are You Hurting Your Spouse’s Diet?

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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, […]

Working Out When Sick: Don’t Let A Cold Blow Your Fitness

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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, […]

The Art of Single Tasking

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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 […]

How To Stay Happy On Your Fitness Routine

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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 […]

Calorie Counting: In or Out?

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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 […]

Warning Signs You’re Headed For The Winter Blues

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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 […]

Tricks to Prevent Over Eating

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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 […]

When It Comes to the Gym, Bigger Isn’t Always Better

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The secret to making your fitness goals happen? Joining a tricked-out gym. Or so I thought, as I was rolling up to the new luxury gym in my neighborhood. After a tour, my head was spinning with the workout possibilities (ooh, heated pool!) and I was eager to sign on the dotted line.  But half an […]

“Real Men Don’t Do Yoga”

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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.”

3 Reasons to Try Zumba (and One Reason Not to)

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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?

Perfect Fitness: Why It’s a Myth (and Thank Goodness)

Bette Midler in The Stepford Wives.

  “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 […]

What’s Really In Your Weight Loss Shake?

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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 […]

Meal Replacement Shakes for Weight Loss: Two Common Mistakes to Avoid

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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.

Weight Loss Hypnosis Myths Dispelled

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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.

What’s the Best Way to Lose Weight? Revamp Your Grocery List!

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Your strategy for healthier eating starts at the grocery store. For instant body shaping, here’s what to put on, and scratch off, your shopping list.

Resistance Bands: Deceptively Simple Exercise Equipment

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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!

Effective Weight Loss: Is Outside Intervention Really the Answer?

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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.