10 Health Benefits from a 10% Weight Loss

#10  Lowers the risk of developing gallstones and developing gallbladder disease.

#9  Lowers the risk of sleep apnea, a serious breathing difficulty during sleep.

#8  Lowers the risk of congestive heart failure.  Excess weight puts stress on the      heart and lungs.

#7  Reduces the risks of some types of cancer. A healthy weight and a healthy diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are great ways to reduce your risk of developing certain cancers.

 #6  Puts less stress on your bones and joints, especially the knees.

#5   Lowers the risks of heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke.

#4  Reduces the risk of developing diabetes and helps control blood sugar levels if you are already diabetic.

#3  Reduces blood pressure.  Even a small weight loss can help to lower high blood pressure.

#2  Improves your ability to move and do activities.  Losing weight makes every step and breathe easier.

#1  The # 1 reason to lose weight is …
You will feel better!  Set a goal to lose 10% and Get Started!

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Goal-Setting Leads to Faster Weight loss

Ask yourself, “would you take a road trip without mapping out a plan”?  Probably not.  When mapping out your road trip, what’s the most important thing to consider?  Your destination, of course, where are you going?  Starting a journey without a destination in mind could leave you wandering around aimless, not really getting anywhere.  Most people, however, use common sense when planning trips, events, holidays, etc., in order to ensure a desirable outcome.  Then why is it that, when it comes to our health, well-being, fitness, and exercise, we don’t apply the same prudent approach as we do when planning other important things in our lives?  Why is common sense not so common when it comes to good nutrition and exercise?  Many a times, we may have the right intentions, but somehow end up side-tracked and going against what we know to be common sense.  Why does this happen?  The answer is plain and simple – lack of focus.

Are You Fuzzy or Focused?

It has been said that successful people are successful because they are very clear about their values.    Unsuccessful people are fuzzy or unsure.  Complete failures have no real values at all.

What’s Important to You? – What do you value?

You must begin by determining what’s important to you.  Do you value your health?  Is your future well-being and quality of life important to you?  Do you value yourself enough to make healthy lifestyle habits a priority?  These are big questions that must be addressed before you can move forward to devise a plan.

Set SMART Goals

Most of us have, at some point, made resolutions to eat better, exercise more, or lose weight.  But what happens to these resolutions as time goes on?  They usually fizzle out.  Life gets in the way, and for whatever reason, our resolution fades into the background and is no longer in the forefront of our mind.

Resolutions are often just wishful thinking, and until you put it in writing, it is simply a pipe-dream. Writing out your goal makes it concrete, now it becomes a commitment, and now it can act like a map, guiding you to your destination.  Goals are not difficult to set, however, effective goal-setting involves some thinking and planning.  The most effective type of goals are SMART goals.

SMART goals are written out so they can be reviewed regularly, and thus, are less likely to be forgotten or neglected.  To turn a simple resolution into a SMART goal, you must make it:

  • Specific – State in detail exactly what you want.
  • Measurable – You must be able to measure your goal in some way in order to know when you’ve achieved it.  State specific quantity, time-frame, cost, etc., anything that can be measured.
  • Attainable – What are you willing to do to achieve your goal?  Goal must be within your control, in other words, you must be in control of whether it can be achieved or not.  The achievement of your goal should not be dependent on external factors.  By setting a goal outside your control, you are setting yourself up for failure.
  • Relevant – You must ask yourself, “Can I do this?”  If there is any doubt in your mind that you may not be able to achieve your goal, then you probably won’t put in the required effort.  A goal is unrealistic or irrelevant unless you’re confident about achieving it and are willing to give it your 100% effort.
  • Time-bound – Set a deadline for achieving your goal.  This gives you a target and creates a sense of urgency.

What is an example of a SMART goal?

Not a SMART goal:  I want to lose some weight.

SMART goal:

  • Specific:  I want to lose 20 lbs.
  • Measurable:  Weekly weigh in and recording body measurements.
  • Attainable:  Eliminating fast food and eating more veggies; exercising 30 minutes, 3-4 times per week, reducing caloric intake and increasing physical activity
  • Relevant:  Losing 1-2 lbs per week
  • Time-bound:  target can be reached in 15 weeks

Achieving success is not necessarily difficult, but not easy either.  It requires discipline, focus and a clear idea of what you want to accomplish.  Simply stating, ‘I want to lose weight’ or ‘I want to be fit’ is not good enough.  If it really were that simple, then we would already have everything we want.  Whatever your goals are, plan them out thoroughly by writing them down, and review them every single day.  This will bring focus and clarity.  Clarity is the key to success.  The clearer you are about what you really want, the more successful you will be.

Super Healthy Homemade Hummus – Easy and Diet Friendly!

Healthy Homemade HummusThis homemade hummus is packed with healthy goodness.  Don’t let the calories scare you!  These are nutrient rich calories, the kind we all need.  The high-calorie ingredients in hummus are the tahini (or sesame butter), and extra virgin olive oil which can be substituted for lighter alternatives, but in my opinion, these greatly contribute to the flavor, richness, authenticity, and nutritional content of the dish.

The word hummus means chickpea in Arabic, which is the primary ingredient in this ancient dish.  Chickpeas are a great source of fiber which helps reduce levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).  When served with a grain, such as pita, it’s a complete-protein food and extremely low-fat.

Tahini or Sesame ButterTahini is a paste made by grinding up sesame seeds and dates back as far as 1600 BC.  Tahini contains a lot of natural oil, almost 50%, which gives it a high fat content.  The oil, however, is mostly in the form of monounsaturated fat which is beneficial for the body since it contains increased levels of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol).  Tahini is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with a multitude of vitamins and minerals.  Antioxidants along with vitamin E in tahini reduces the aging of body cells which helps slow down the aging process.  Tahini is an extremely rich source of calcium, one of the best sources, even better than dairy (which is hard for the body to digest).  And finally, it is also one of the richest sources of protein, being almost 20% complete protein, it beats out milk, soy beans, most nuts, and sunflower seeds.

Extra virgin olive oil contains extraordinary amounts of antioxidants that fight everything from fat buildup, cravings, inflammation, to helping boost your metabolism.  It is also an extremely rich dietary source of monounsaturated fat containing oleic acid, which is a proven fat loss agent when combined with a low-calorie diet.

This goes to show that you can’t always judge a food simply based on the calorie content.  The focus should be quality over quantity, when it comes to calories.  The high-calorie ingredients in hummus are also high quality, and the health benefits they offer are worth the extra calories.  Having said that, you should still exercise portion control.  According to this recipe, one serving of hummus is 2 tablespoons per person.  Use instead of mayo on sandwiches or in wraps.  Makes a perfect mid-day snack with some veggies.  Is also great in salad dressings.  The possibilities are endless!

Ingredients

    1 can Chick Peas (15.5 oz)
    2 T Tahini
    2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    ½ cup Low Fat Yogurt
    ½ Lemon, juiced
    1 t Lemon zest
    1T Flaxseed meal
    1 garlic clove
    1 t sea salt
    ½ t ground cumin
    ½ t ground coriander seeds
    ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Directions

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until a creamy consistency.  If too thick, add 2 tablespoons of water and mix.

Makes 12 servings

Nutrients per serving: 76.4 cal, 4.4 g fat, 7.2 g carbs, 2.3 g fiber, 3.1 g protein

Top 10 ‘Skinny’ Foods for Healthy Weight Loss

Losing weight is about eating clean and eating smart, it is about being aware and accountable for everything we put in our bodies.  Those who are looking for a quick fix will be disappointed.  There is no “secret” to losing weight, nor is there a magic diet…sorry!  It all boils down to what we put in our mouths.  The age old saying, “you are what you eat”, is exactly right, 75% (if not more) of the weight loss battle is related to food.  By initiating small changes to your regular diet, eliminating certain foods and incorporating healthy alternatives, you will notice the weight dropping off in a short time.  The other 25% of the equation is exercise.  In order to achieve optimum results, a healthy diet and regular exercise go hand-in-hand.

Here are Top 10 Super Foods that will keep your metabolism revved so you will burn more fat.  Try to incorporate as many of these as you can into your diet immediately:

Oatmeal - the breakfast of Champions!1.    Oatmeal – is a great way to start the day.  Oats, in any variety (quick, rolled, old-fashioned, steel cut, but not instant), are high in fiber providing your body with a steady source of fuel while keeping your blood sugar level stable.  It keeps you full longer so you won’t crave that mid-morning sugar fix.

2.    Egg Whites – When compared to the whole egg, the whites are     definitely the healthier choice.  One egg white contain 17 calories, 0.1g fat, 0g saturated fats, 0mg cholesterol, and 5g protein.  The egg yolk, on the other hand, contains a whopping 55 calories, 4.5g fat, 1.6g saturated fats, 210mg cholesterol, and 2.7g protein.  The numbers speak for themselves.

3.    Grapefruit – They are delicious, juicy, fragrant and a powerful weight loss agent.  The grapefruit diet has been around for years and has avid supporters, but now, there is actual research that proves grapefruits promote healthy weight loss.  Red grapefruits, in particular, have an insulin reducing property which aids in weight loss and improved health.

4.     Nuts – Nuts are calorie rich and high in fat, so how are they a ‘skinny’ food?  Nuts are mostly unsaturated fat, which is good fat; they lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and have shown to aid in healthy weight loss when consumed in moderation.  The high fat content can prevent cravings, which lead to unhealthy food choices.  Nuts are packed with powerful nutrients and make a great on-the-go snack, but portion control is the key.

5.    Fresh Produce – Fresh fruits and vegetables make up the largest portion of your diet.  Most vegetables, particularly the green leafy variety, are naturally low in carbs, high in antioxidants, and very low in calories.  It is recommended to include produce in all varieties and colors into your diet.  Increasing your daily consumption of produce will decrease your overall caloric intake, leading to healthy weight loss.

6.    Yogurt – Research has found that eating low-fat yogurt daily significantly increases fat burning potential.  This particular study found those who ate low-fat yogurt daily lost on average 22% more weight, 61% more body fat, and 81% more belly fat!  Beware of the sweet fruity yogurts, they are usually higher in calories and sugar, and avoid those sweetened with artificial sweeteners.  Low-fat Greek yogurt is an excellent choice and can be sweetened with honey or agave.

7.    Brown Rice – Brown rice is a nutrient rich whole grain.  Among the many other health benefits of brown rice, the high fiber content is what makes it such an excellent food for weight loss.  High fiber provides bulk that keeps you full a lot longer, preventing sugar cravings that lead to poor food choices.

8.    100% Whole Grains – For the same reasons as brown rice, whole grain pastas, breads, cereals are the recommended choice for healthy weight loss.  Sprouted grain breads are my recent discovery; they are a complete protein that is digested by the body more efficiently.  The low gluten content of sprouted grain breads makes them an excellent food for a flat belly.

9.    Beans and Lentils – Beans and lentils (also called legumes) are a power food.  They are high in protein, high in soluble fiber, and have a low glycemic index which makes them the perfect food for weight loss.

10. Green Tea – Certain compounds in green tea have shown to aid in weight loss.  High concentrations of catechin polyphenols along with other chemicals in green tea increase the body’s fat oxidization and thermogenesis.  In other words, green tea helps rev up your metabolism and increase your fat burning potential.  Green tea has many more health benefits and is recommended as part of a healthy diet.

SOURCES: Zemel, M. International Journal of Obesity, April 2005; vol 29: pp 391-397. News release, General Mills.