How to create a successful weight loss plan?

  1. Keep food records — write down everything you eat.
    Record keeping lets you know exactly what and how much you’re eating. It also allows you to identify problem patterns in your eating behavior. People who keep food records are more successful at weight loss.
  2. Keep activity records — type of activity, duration and intensity.
    Track the variety of activities and exercises that make up your day. Keeping a daily activity record for at least two weeks helps you to be accountable and should help you establish a regular exercise routine. Seeing your progress can build confidence and inspire you to set higher goals.
  3. Move more — walk or exercise for 60 minutes or more every day.
    Increase your walking or exercise to 60 minutes or more every day. This doesn’t have to be 60 minutes in addition to the 30 minutes or more recommended as part of Add 5 Habits. It’s 60 minutes or more total. Of course, the more the better, within reason.
  4. Eat “real food” — mostly fresh, and healthy foods.
    Food is processed to make it safe, available and convenient to use, but the processing may add unwanted fat, sugar, calories and salt. “Real food” is loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients. Fast food is often filled with empty calories. Not everything that’s processed is bad — but it’s up to you to make the healthiest choices. “Real food” is often grown more locally and doesn’t have as much packaging.
  5. Write down your daily goals — what motivates you each and every day.
    Your overall weight goal can often be met through a series of smaller performance goals that build on one another. Goal setting keeps you motivated and helps you stick with your program.

How to get a better night’s sleep.

Sleep is a remarkably productive and critical part of life; it’s the time when the brain and body recharge for another day. Yet, most of us simply aren’t getting enough sleep. Stress, everyday demands and your smartphone are likely culprits negatively impacting your sleep.

Either too little or too much sleep can make it tough to function at your best. Sleep better and wake up feeling more rested with this advice.

  • Eat dinner at the same time each day and at least two to three hours before bedtime.
  • Limit naps to 30 minutes at least six to eight hours before bedtime.
  • Stay active. Any activity is good. For best results, get moving 20 to 30 minutes most days, at least four to six hours before bedtime.
  • Limit your caffeine intake and avoid it after noon. Also avoid stimulants such as decongestants and nicotine.
  • Go to bed at the same time every night and get up about the same time every morning even on weekends.
  • A healthy amount of sleep for most adults is seven to eight hours a night.
  • If self-care techniques don’t help, talk to your health care provider.

5 easy ways to eat more fruits and veggies.

There is a plethora of produce available in the United States, and yet most adults don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. In fact, dietary intake of several nutrients found in fruits and vegetables — including potassium and dietary fiber — is low enough to be a public-health concern for both adults and children.

Your goal is to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Aim for a whole rainbow of colors, including dark green, red, orange, purple and white. Variety is vital to get all the different nutrients and their health benefits.

Try to buy fresh whole fruits and vegetables in season — they will be at their peak in flavor and at their lowest in price. Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables can be healthy choices, too. Reach for low-sodium canned vegetables or canned fruits packed in their own juice or water, and avoid frozen vegetables with sauces, frozen fruits with added sugar and canned fruits packed in heavy syrup.

Make fruits and veggies the star of your daily diet with these ideas:

  1. Snack smart. Keep vegetables washed and cut in your refrigerator for quick snacks. Or reach for vegetables that require little preparation, such as baby carrots and cherry tomatoes. Keep a bowl of fruit on your kitchen counter. Just be sure to limit your intake of dried fruits because they’re not as filling as whole fruits and they have a lot more calories in a smaller volume of food. For example, 1⁄4 cup of raisins has the same number of calories — about 100 — as almost 2 cups of grapes.
  2. Experiment with new combinations. Try mango or peach slices on whole-wheat toast with a little peanut butter and honey. Toss some mandarin orange or peach slices into a salad.
  3. Choose recipes that have vegetables or fruits as a main ingredient. Try pineapple-chicken stir-fry, tomato-basil pizza or vegetarian chili.
  4. Start your day with a fruit or vegetable. Sprinkle a handful of blueberries on your morning cereal or oatmeal. Saute red peppers, tomatoes or spinach into your scrambled eggs.
  5. Drink your fruits and vegetables. But don’t reach for prepared fruit juice! Instead, turn whole fruits and vegetables into a refreshing drink. Make a smoothie with plain low-fat yogurt and your favorite frozen fruits. Or puree together banana, berries, lemon, mint, ice and 2 cups of fresh raw baby spinach — this green concoction may look odd, but it tastes delicious!

As you can see from these suggestions, sneaking more fruits and veggies into your diet can be easy, convenient — and fun!

By Mayo Clinic Staff .

Tired? Ready to feel more energized? Start with these tips.

Most people can use an energy boost during the day. But instead of downing another cup of coffee, your best bet might be to get moving. Think there’s no way that moving more can do anything but leave you even more tired? Think again, researchers say. By being physically active instead of sitting and resting, you may cut your risk of feeling tired nearly in half. You may feel a bit fatigued after physical activity, but in a good way! Overall, regular exercise or just moving your body gives you more energy throughout the day, helps you feel focused and able to complete tasks more efficiently.

Another important benefit is that physical activity is a mood-booster. Exercise helps your body produce more endorphins, your brain’s feel-good chemicals. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, other types of physical activity besides running can give you this feeling, too. Physical activity can also improve how well you sleep, yet another benefit that will give you more energy during the day.

Ready to feel more energized? Start with these tips.

  • Make it a daily habit to move more. If you’re not currently active, start gradually by taking a walk around the block.
  • If you already have an exercise routine, think of ways to make it a little more challenging. Simply taking a short jog or bike ride at a low or moderate intensity can affect how you feel and perform.
  • At work, set an alarm to remind yourself to stand up from your desk every hour and touch your toes, stretch your arms, legs and back. March in place for a minute. Make it a point to take short breaks when you can to go outside, or walk the stairwell up and down a few floors even if you have only a couple minutes. Small, consistent efforts like these will help you feel rejuvenated and focused.

Remember these tips when find yourself sitting too much throughout the day or tempted to skip a workout. Exercise doesn’t have to be all or nothing just start moving more and you’ll instantly feel the benefits physically and mentally!

Stretch your way to better health.

You might be thinking that it’s hard to carve out time in your schedule for exercise, let alone stretching. But most cardio and strength-training programs cause your muscles to tighten. That’s why it’s important to stretch regularly to keep your body functioning well.

Regular stretching:

  • Increases flexibility, which makes daily tasks easier
  • Improves range of motion of your joints, which helps keep you mobile
  • Improves circulation
  • Promotes better posture
  • Helps relieve stress by relaxing tense muscles
  • Helps prevent injury, especially if your muscles or joints are tight

 

Stretching essentials

Keep these key points in mind:

  • Target major muscle groups. When you’re stretching, focus on your calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders. Also stretch muscles and joints that you routinely use at work or play.
  • Warm up first. Stretching muscles when they’re cold increases your risk of injury, including pulled muscles. Warm up by walking while gently pumping your arms, or do a favorite exercise at low intensity for five minutes. If you only have time to stretch once, do it after you exercise — when your muscles are warm and more receptive to stretching. And when you do stretch, start slowly.
  • Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds. It takes time to lengthen tissues safely. Hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds — and up to 60 seconds for a really tight muscle or problem area. Then repeat the stretch on the other side. For most muscle groups, a single stretch is usually sufficient.
  • Don’t bounce. Bouncing as you stretch repeatedly gets your muscles out of the stretch position and doesn’t allow them to relax, making you less flexible and more prone to pain.
  • Focus on a pain-free stretch. Expect to feel tension while you’re stretching. If it hurts, you’ve gone too far. Back off to the point where you don’t feel any pain, then hold the stretch.
  • Relax and breathe freely.
  • Don’t hold your breath while you’re stretching.

 

Fit stretching into your schedule

As a general rule, stretch whenever you exercise. If you don’t exercise regularly, you may want to stretch at least three times a week to maintain flexibility. If you have a problem area, such as tightness in the back of your leg, you may want to stretch every day or even twice a day.

Think about ways you can fit stretching into your daily schedule. For example:

  • Do some stretches after your morning shower or bath. That way, you can shorten your warm-up routine because the warm water will raise muscle temperature and prepare your muscles for stretching.
  • Stretch before getting out of bed. Try a few gentle head-to-toe stretches by reaching your arms above your head and pointing your toes.

6 tips to loving your body more.

Do you despair when comparing the way you look with the way you feel you should look? Do you constantly pick yourself apart and dissect every imperfection? Many people struggle with a negative body image. This can impact your mood, which in turn can trigger overeating episodes. Consider these tips for loving and accepting yourself more.

  • Recognize that you are more than your body. Write a list of your strengths and best features, and add to it often. Put a few self-affirming messages (“I’m strong and resilient!”) on your mirror. Having positive self-esteem can help us manage negative thoughts about our bodies.
  • Make a list of people you admire — from your parents or children to political leaders or world figures. Do they have perfect bodies? Does it matter? Or are there other characteristics you admire in them? You probably have some of these same characteristics, so give yourself credit for them.
  • Exercise regularly. You’ll tone your body and boost your self-esteem. In fact, a study showed that women who worked out on a regular basis rated their bodies as more attractive and healthier than did women who weren’t as physically active.
  • Appreciate the body you have. Think of it as a gift. Recognize all the things your body can do. Show it some respect by eating well and getting enough rest.
  • Focus on your health instead of thinking only about your appearance. If you’d like a healthier body shape or weight, set small, realistic goals and work to meet them.
  • Surround yourself with friends who don’t focus on body size or appearance. Encourage one another to focus on healthy habits instead of appearance.

Choosing to view your body in a positive light — no matter how flawed you’re used to seeing yourself — is important to your weight-loss success. To feel good about what you’re accomplishing by improving your health, it helps to feel good about your body.

Strategies to help control eating trigger.

Identifying the situations that trigger poor eating habits can help you develop strategies to overcome them. Do any of these areas trip you up? Try these simple solutions to inspire healthy changes in your everyday life.

Activities

When you watch TV or read, do you always have a snack at hand? Do you eat at your desk while you work or while you’re preparing dinner? It’s all too easy to take in excess calories without realizing it. To change your habits, keep track of everything you eat — and where and when you eat it — for a few days. It can be eye-opening! Once you become more aware of your snacking, you may find it easier to stop the nibbling or substitute other behaviors for it.

Favored foods

Are there some foods that you can’t eat in moderation, such as cookies or potato chips? Do you find that the sight or smell of certain foods tempts you to overeat? Keep exposure to these foods to a minimum. Don’t keep tempting treats at home — if it’s in the house, it’s in your mouth! However, don’t deny yourself your favorites, either. Portion out a small amount — but not when you’re overly hungry, so you’ll be more likely to take more. Split a favorite treat with a friend when eating out, or buy yourself a small portion every couple of weeks.

Time of day

Are there certain times of the day when you’re more susceptible to overeating? Do you crave a snack after work or a late-night bowl of ice cream? Identify your vulnerable times of day. If hunger is a factor, keep yourself well-stocked with handy healthy foods, such as mandarin oranges, walnuts or whole-wheat crackers. If eating at certain times is simply a habit, find a substitute, such as a cup of chamomile tea or a relaxing bath.

Social settings

Do you eat more when you’re around certain people? Do you snack anytime your partner does? Do social outings lead to nonstop noshing? Social eating patterns can undermine weight-loss efforts. Recognize where and when social influence plays a role in your eating habits and decide what you want to change. Keep in mind that you can affect when and what others eat as well — take the lead!

Physical factors

Does skipping breakfast cause you to lose control of your eating? When you’re tired, do you turn to junk food for energy? Following your meal plan — including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks — can help keep hunger under control. Regularly getting a good night’s sleep helps with weight management, too.

Emotions

Do certain feelings cause you to snack — boredom, loneliness, stress or anxiety? Do you use certain foods to self-soothe? Learn to separate food from mood. Monitor your mood and strive to distinguish true hunger from emotion-driven eating. When emotions are high, use other coping strategies, such as calling a friend or taking a walk.

 

Mayo Clinic fitness tips.

Want to get the most out of your regular physical activity? Try these recommendations, based on national guidelines, medical research and Mayo Clinic expertise. After all, a well-rounded fitness program may be one of the best things you can do for your health.

Make it functional. Functional fitness exercises train your muscles to help you do everyday activities safely and efficiently. These exercises train your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home, at work or in sports. By doing functional exercises, you gain awareness of how your body coordinates and supports movement. Being more aware of your body’s movement patterns helps facilitate balance, strength, flexibility and endurance. This type of training can be done at home or at the gym. Exercise tools, such as fitness balls, kettle bells and weights, can be used as part of your training.

Count cardio in. Aerobic activity, or cardio, gets your heart pumping and helps move blood to your muscles and back to your lungs. This helps you use oxygen more efficiently. Walking, bicycling, swimming, dancing and water aerobics are all examples of cardio activities. Including a variety of them will help keep you from getting bored and can help you live a longer, healthier life.

Focus on flexibility. Stretching increases your flexibility, improves range of motion of your joints and helps your blood circulate well. It can even help you improve your posture and manage stress. Although many people think of stretching exercises as an afterthought or as a quick chore on the way to the “real” workout, stretching is a powerful part of any exercise plan. You can stretch anytime, anywhere — in your home, at work or when you’re traveling.

Strengthen your muscles. Regular strength-training exercises can help you preserve and enhance muscle mass at any age. Strength training also helps you strengthen your bones, gain less body fat and protect your joints, which can help lower your chances of injuring yourself. Strength training can be done at home or in the gym, using just your body or a variety of equipment. With the right technique, you may see improvements in your strength and stamina in just a few weeks.

Find balance. Often overlooked as part of physical fitness, balance exercises are helpful at any age. As you age, balance becomes more and more important to maintaining your independence. Nearly any activity that keeps you on your feet and moving can help you maintain good balance.

These key principles create a well-rounded fitness program that can boost not only your fitness, but also your health and quality of life!

Take your fitness to the next level.

When you’re an exercise newbie, the fitness gains come fast. But once you’ve broken in your running shoes or become a regular at the gym, you have to work harder to challenge your stronger, more efficient body. You can accomplish this by changing how hard, long and often you work out. The trick is to avoid doing so much that you end up hurt or burned out. Make a smart and safe transition with these tips.

  1. Assess your current fitness level
    Start by assessing where you’re at now as well as your strengths and weaknesses.

    Consider:

    • What you already do (exercise mode), including cardio exercise and strength training
    • How hard you work (intensity)
    • How often you do it (frequency)
    • How long you do it (duration)
  2. Set new goals
    Next, take a look at where you want to be. What are some specific, realistic goals you can set to improve your fitness level? Maybe you can jog or swim for 45 minutes rather than 30. You could add flexibility exercises into your routine. Perhaps you want to train for an event such as a 10K or mini-triathlon.
  3. Do more
    The best way to pump up your fitness level is to increase your exercise intensity. Intensity refers to how hard you work. The fitter you get, the harder you need to exercise to feel challenged and see results. Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone will help you to get the most effective workout possible, which is important, especially if you don’t have a lot of time that day to exercise. If you exercise at a lower intensity, you’ll need to work out for longer sessions or more often to achieve the same fitness effects. In building up, first increase the frequency of your activity (number of days a week). As you become more fit, increase the length of each workout and finally the intensity.

    To increase the intensity of your workout:

    • Move faster. Walk more briskly or start running if you’ve been walking or jogging. The faster you move your body, the more work you’ll do within a given time.
    • Add vertical challenge. Run or walk on hills, or increase the grade on a treadmill. Add a step riser for step aerobics.
    • Increase resistance. Increase the pedaling resistance on a cycling machine. For strength training, gradually lift more weight.
    • Cross-train. Participate in a variety of activities, including some that are more demanding or vigorous.
    • Try interval training. This means interspersing short bursts of high-intensity activity (such as a 10-second sprint) with intervals of low- to moderate-intensity activity, such as walking.
  4. But don’t overdo it
    If you exercise several hours a day every day, you run the risk of an overuse injury or fatigue and burnout — and you won’t produce many extra gains in fitness. To avoid overtraining, increase your total exercise time, distance or intensity gradually. Alternate hard and easy workouts from one day to the next, and build in time for rest and recovery.

Once you’ve reached a new fitness level, take a moment to congratulate yourself on how far you’ve come!

Dietary sources of energy.

It’s important to fuel your tank properly if you want to keep it running. The food you eat supplies many types of macronutrients — carbohydrates, fats and proteins — which deliver the energy (or calories) your body needs to function. Food also supplies micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, which don’t provide calories but help the body with chemical reactions. In addition, food is a source of water, fiber and other essential substances. Read on to learn more about the nutrients that your body needs to stay energized.


Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates can be simple or complex. Simple carbohydrates are the sugars found in fruits, honey, milk and milk products. They also include sugars added during food processing and refining. Simple carbohydrates are absorbed quickly for energy.

Complex carbohydrates, also known as starches, are found primarily in whole grains, pasta, potatoes, beans and vegetables. Digestion is required to change complex carbohydrates into simple sugars.

Complex carbohydrates contain many vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. During processing, however, complex carbohydrates may be refined, removing many important nutrients — along with their benefits.


Fats

Fats are a natural component of various foods, and they come in different forms. The oils used in cooking are a form of fat. Fats are also found in foods of animal origin, such as meat, dairy, poultry and fish, and in such common foods as avocados, nuts and olives. Fats are a major source of energy — or calories — and also help your body absorb some vitamins.


Proteins

Proteins build and repair body structures, produce body chemicals, carry nutrients to your cells and help regulate body processes. Excess proteins also provide calories. Proteins are composed of basic elements called amino acids. There are two types of amino acids: those your body can generate, known as nonessential amino acids, and those that can only be obtained from the food you eat, known as essential amino acids.


Vitamins

Many foods contain vitamins, such as A, B complex, C, D, E and K. Vitamins help your body use carbohydrates, fats and proteins. They also help produce blood cells, hormones, genetic material and chemicals for the nervous system. Deficiencies of these vitamins lead to various diseases.

During processing, foods can lose nutrients. Manufacturers sometimes enrich or fortify the processed food and add back nutrients. Fresh, natural foods, though, contain vitamins in their preferred natural state.


Minerals

Minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus are important to the health of your bones and teeth. Sodium, potassium and chloride, commonly referred to as electrolytes, help regulate the balance of water and chemicals in your body. Your body needs smaller amounts of minerals such as iron, iodine, zinc, copper, fluoride, selenium and manganese, commonly referred to as trace minerals.


Water

It’s easy to take water for granted, but it’s a vital nutritional requirement. Many foods, especially fruits, contain a lot of water. Water plays a role in nearly every major body function. It regulates body temperature, carries nutrients and oxygen cells via the bloodstream and helps carry away waste. Water also helps cushion joints and protects organs and tissues.


Fiber

Fiber is the part of plant foods that your body doesn’t absorb. The two main types are soluble and insoluble, and fiber-rich foods usually contain both.

Foods high in soluble fiber include citrus fruits, apples, pears, plums and prunes, oatmeal and oat bran, and barley. Legumes, such as dried beans and peas, are also high in soluble fiber. This type of fiber helps lower blood cholesterol, slows the rise in blood sugar and adds bulk to stools.

Insoluble fiber is found in many vegetables, wheat bran, and whole-grain breads, pasta and cereals. Insoluble fiber also adds bulk to stool, stimulates the gastrointestinal tract, and helps prevent constipation.