Tag Archives: weight-loss

Empty calories: What you need to know – MNT

I think calorie-counting is a very valuable tool when you are first getting started on weight control and living a healthy life. But, there are calories and there are calories. You need to know the food value of the calories you are consuming. You don’t want to eat a lot of empty calories.

Put simply, empty calories are calories that come from foods or drinks that have little or no nutritional value.

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There are many common sources of empty calories. People may choose to limit or eliminate these foods and drinks from their diets to stay healthy and within their ideal weight range.

Helping children limit empty calories can set them up for a healthy life in the future. It can also help stabilize their energy and decrease mood swings.

Avoiding or limiting empty calories is a simple step toward a healthier diet and lifestyle.

What are calories?

Calories are units of energy. Scientifically, a gram calorie (cal) is the amount of energy needed to raise 1 gram (g) of water by 1° C.

From a scientific perspective, what is typically called a “calorie” is actually a kilogram calorie (kCal). This is a unit of energy made up of thousands of “small calories” equal to the large calorie often used to measure the energy in food.

Calories are an essential part of the diet. The body needs to burn calories to do the simplest tasks, such as breathing or blinking. When physical exercise is thrown into the mix, even more calories are required to stay healthy and alert.

The amount of calories a person needs every day can vary widely. Most recommendations are based on a diet of 2,000 calories per day. However, this number may be higher or lower depending on the individual and their habits.

A registered dietitian can help determine a person’s ideal caloric intake based on activity level, age, sex, metabolism, and height.

What are empty calories?

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Filed under calorie counting, calorie restriction, calories, Exercise, exercise benefits, ideal weight, junk food calories, overweight, stealth calories, Weight, weight control

10 Metabolism secrets to help shed pounds – Infographic

The aim of this blog is not to simply lose weight. It is to live a healthy, happy and long life and to have all our mental faculties functional till the end. I am including this infographic because it has a lot of good information on those very things – as well as losing weight.

Eat less; move move; live longer.

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Tony

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Filed under Exercise, exercise benefits, ideal weight, overweight, stress, Weight, weight control, weight loss

7 steps for brain health from childhood to old age – AHA

The American Heart Association (AHA) has a superb rundown on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, literally from cradle to grave. I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to see these concepts broadcast by the mainstream health outlets like the AHA. The following is directly from them. At the end I have listed some of my posts which flesh out these steps. Remember, eat less; move more; live longer.

A healthy lifestyle benefits your brain as much as the rest of your body — and may lessen the risk of cognitive decline (a loss of the ability to think well) as you age, according to a new advisory from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

 

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Both the heart and brain need adequate blood flow, but in many people, blood vessels slowly become narrowed or blocked over the course of their life, a disease process known as atherosclerosis, the cause of many heart attacks and strokes. Many risk factors for atherosclerosis can be modified by following a healthy diet, getting enough physical activity, avoiding tobacco products and other strategies.

“Research summarized in the advisory convincingly demonstrates that the same risk factors that cause atherosclerosis, are also major contributors to late-life cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. By following seven simple steps — Life’s Simple 7 — not only can we prevent heart attack and stroke, we may also be able to prevent cognitive impairment,” said vascular neurologist Philip Gorelick, M.D., M.P.H., the chair of the advisory’s writing group and executive medical director of Mercy Health Hauenstein Neurosciences in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Filed under aging brain, brain, brain function, brain health, Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, smoking, Smoking dangers

Keeping your weight in check as you age

I am aging along with everybody else on this earth. That has important aspects and implications. Me at 30 is not the same as me at 50 nor me at plus 70. It helps to know what to expect.

Most of our lives we hear that thinner is better. That is true, but for older folks activity becomes a more important factor. We have to be able to continue to do all our activities. As WebMD says, “It’s less about what you weigh and more about how much of your weight is muscle instead of fat. Your doctor can tell you if your weight is on track, in light of your age and overall health.”

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Don’t cop out. “My metabolism is slowing” is a fact from our 20’s onward. It’s not a reason to stop working on your weight and health. If you stop being active, your body will shift to more fat and less muscle. Fat doesn’t burn calories, so an inactive person will gain weight. Eat less, move more is the mantra of this blog and should be of every person.

Being active works muscles and allows you to consume more calories. Sedentary oldsters are the ones with weight and health problems. You can have some cake and eat it, too, just choose a reasonable amount.

WebMd makes a good point about aging and eating, “Those corners you cut when you were younger (huge portions, happy hours, little to no exercise) You can’t get away with that any more. But age does not have to equal weight gain.”

Check out my previous post on strength training. Even if your muscles have slacked off with you, you can revive them and revitalize yourself. Muscle loss isn’t permanent. Health clubs have free weights, weight machines and there are numerous exercises you can do just using your own body weight including yoga that will build muscle.

Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle due to aging. This results from lack of activity, hormonal changes and poor nutrition. Eat less and move more. Sarcopenia does not have to be a permanent condition.

The bottom line is that your health doesn’t have to shrink and your waistline doesn’t have to bulge as you age. But, you do have to take an active part in the process. As you age, your margin of error does shrink. So, pay close attention to what and how much you eat. Get out there and get some exercise. Walking is a very good way to start. It works your muscles and clears your mind as well as burning the odd calorie.

Check out my Page – How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off for more guidelines.

No one likes folks who don’t practice what they preach. About 10 years ago my weight got out of control and I ballooned over 220 pounds. I took off 50 pounds in a year, but that only got me down to the mid-170’s. You can read How I lost 50 pounds in 52 weeks.

I am now 77 years old and wear the same size pants I wore in high school. I ride my bike around 6000 miles a year here in Chicago. My resting heart rate is below 50 beats per minute. I have weighed in the low 150s for six years. If I can reach this level of health, there is no reason you can’t, too. Just decide to do it.

Tony

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Filed under aging, aging myths, Exercise, exercise benefits, Weight, weight control, weight loss

Walnuts Activate Brain Region Involved in Appetite Control – Study

Eat less; move more; live longer remains the mantra of this blog. So, it is always  useful to learn more about how various inputs like food and exercise impact the brain. Here is some fresh info on walnuts from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

  • Double-blind test bolsters observational data that walnuts promote feelings of fullness.
  • Results provide a quantitative measure for testing other compounds’ ability to control appetite, including potential medications for the treatment of obesity.
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Fascinating how walnuts also suggest the shape of the brain.

Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have demonstrated that consuming walnuts activates an area in the brain associated with regulating hunger and cravings. The findings, published online in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, reveal for the first time the neurocognitive impact these nuts have on the brain. Continue reading

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Filed under aging brain, brain, brain exercise, brain function, brain health, good weight loss foods, walnuts, Weight, weight control

No Weight-Loss Protection from Vitamin D – Tufts

I have said time and again that losing weight is not a good goal. Instead, work at living a  healthy life, eat intelligently and exercise regularly. Do that and you will never have to lose weight. I have been doing it since six months into writing this blog and now, eight years later, I have fluctuated about five pounds on either side of my 155 pound weight.

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This info from Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter, highlights postmenopausal women, but has wider implications.

While losing weight can protect you against chronic diseases, it does come with a downside – especially for postmenopausal women: Studies have shown that obese older women who lose weight also lose lean muscle mass and bone mineral density (BMD), particularly if they are inactive, potentially putting them at greater risk of frailty and falls. Continue reading

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How often should you weigh yourself?

The waistline on your pants keeps shrinking for some reason. You joined a health club and even went there and sweated. So you have decided you want to get serious about this weight loss thing.

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Should you be weighing yourself every morning? Are you going to be bummed if those 30 minutes on the elliptical machine haven’t pared some pounds overnight?

Welcome! You are beginning to learn that weight loss and weight control are mental as well as physical. In fact, I think they are more mental than physical. They are also things that occur over a continuum, as opposed to overnight. I you are carrying extra baggage, it took you a while to accumulate. Give yourself adequate time to unload it.

So, what about weighing in regularly? The answer is … Yes. It is a good idea. You need to get feedback on your efforts. You also need information on more than a weekly basis.

There are a few important things to keep in mind, though. First of all, your weight can vary by one or two percent on a daily basis just based on hydration and elimination. So, you can’t take a daily jump or drop in weight too seriously. Keep the trend in mind. Remember, you didn’t put the weight on overnight, so you can’t expect to take it off that fast. In fact, a good rule to keep in mind is that one pound to 1.5 pounds a week is a good healthy rate of loss. You want to lose permanently, not just water weight. That’s why you are eating intelligently now and working out regularly.

One of the most important aspects to daily weighing is not to feel guilty or get frustrated if you don’t see immediate results. Keep a level head and your eyes on your goal and you will be successful.

I wrote a page on How to Lose Weight – and Keep it Off. There are a lot of very useful guidelines in it. I know they work because I used them myself over the course of writing this blog for the past four plus years. Check ’em out. They couldn’t hurt. And good luck!

Finally, I would like to make one further suggestion. If you have success shedding pounds, and I hope you do, take a moment to reflect on what got you there. You have eaten intelligently and exercised regularly. I have a secret for you. If you continue to eat intelligently and exercise regularly you will never have to worry about your weight again. Wouldn’t that be lovely?! I hope you will consider it as an alternative to going back to your careless ways and packing on extra pounds again.

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Tony

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Skip the coffee, take the stairs to feel more energized

I am a great believer in the benefits of stair climbing. Check out my post 5 Reasons stair climbing is good for you to read much more about it. Here are some neat further benefits of this simple, but not necessarily easy, exercise that you can do in lots of places.

A midday jolt of caffeine isn’t as powerful as walking up and down some stairs, according to new research from the University of Georgia.

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In a new study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior, researchers in the UGA College of Education found that 10 minutes of walking up and down stairs at a regular pace was more likely to make participants feel energized than ingesting 50 milligrams of caffeine-about the equivalent to the amount in a can of soda.

“We found, in both the caffeine and the placebo conditions, that there was not much change in how they felt,” said Patrick J. O’Connor, a professor in the department of kinesiology who co-authored the study with former graduate student Derek Randolph. “But with exercise they did feel more energetic and vigorous. It was a temporary feeling, felt immediately after the exercise, but with the 50 milligrams of caffeine, we didn’t get as big an effect.” Continue reading

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Weight loss facts that work

Since eating temptations abound around Valentine’s Day, I thought I would share these observations on weight.

“…. There are facts about obesity of which we may be reasonably certain — facts that are useful today,” says researcher Krista Casazza, PhD, RD, from the department of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in a prepared statement, WebMD reported.

Here they are:

1. “Your genes are not your destiny. Moderate environmental changes can promote as much weight loss as even the best weight-loss drugs.”

I love this one. So often people use ‘bad genes’ as an excuse for their weight problems, ignoring completely their own bad eating habits.

2.”Even without weight loss, physical activity improves health.”

Another winner. I have reiterated this statement in at least 25 different posts on this blog. Eat less; move more; live longer.

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3. “Physical activity or exercise in the right amounts does help people lose weight.”

Amen. Listen to Uncle Sam.

4. “Continuation of conditions that promote weight loss helps people keep the weight off. Think of obesity as a chronic condition.”

Likewise, I think of good eating and exercise habits as chronic, too.

5. “For overweight children, involving the family and home environment in weight-loss efforts is ideal.”

6. “Providing actual meals or meal replacements works better for weight loss than does general advice about food choices.”

Both 5 and 6 sound like first rate advice.

7. “Weight-loss drugs can help some people lose weight.”

I am not going to argue with the experts here, but I sincerely doubt that the weight stays off if they don’t change their eating and exercise habits. I repeat my recommendation to pay attention to what you eat and exercise regularly. That will melt the pounds away. You won’t need drugs.

8. “Bariatric surgery can help achieve long-term weight loss in some people.”

The study was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health. Our tax dollars at work.

I would like to say for the record that I don’t believe losing weight works. It is only temporary at best. If, instead, you get your head on straight and aim to live a healthy life by eating intelligently and exercising regularly, I can promise that you will never have a weight problem.

Tony

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Are you guilty of information avoidance?

Next month I will complete my seventh year of writing this blog. What started out as a ‘weight loss’ blog has developed into a total mental and physical health resource and I am grateful for the following it has developed. I can honestly say that within six months of starting the blog, I began to feel conversant with various aspects of my own personal health. I had learned and paid attention to how much I was consuming at and away from the table. What’s more I kept my exercising activities in focus also. I believe that as a result of that experience I have not only lost over 10 more pounds since starting, but have maintained that healthy weight with nearly no fluctuations outside of five pounds, plus or minus. One of the aspects of that experience is that I am willing to confront anything that looks like a developing problem when it appears on my radar.

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I wanted to discuss that because before starting the blog for the majority of my life I had struggled with a weight problem. Because I have an athletic background, my activities disguised my poor eating habits for years. Hitting my late 20’s, however, the chickens started coming home to roost and I gained weight and declined in health for years afterward. One of the features of that period was a reluctance to truly face the problem. I wouldn’t weigh myself as regularly. I wouldn’t admit that I was tiring a lot earlier than previously. Continue reading

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Metabolism and weight loss – WebMD

As my blog title says, I am one regular guy writing about diet, exercise, etc. Professionally, I worked 20 years as a financial journalist. After writing this blog for nearly seven years, I consider myself to be a newbie health journalist, but still just a regular guy. I still find myself in deep waters when it comes to body chemistry among other medical subjects.

So when I ran across the extensive write up on metabolism by WebMD, I thought I would share some of it. You can read the whole thing by clicking the link.

Metabolism is the body’s engine. It’s the energy you burn just to keep your heart beating, your lungs breathing, and your other organs running. Unless you’re an elite athlete, resting metabolism accounts for 60% to 75% of all the calories you burn each day, and it varies a lot from person to person.

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If you’re counting calories, knowing your resting metabolism can help you figure out how much you can eat without gaining weight.

People who have a naturally high metabolic rate can eat more, without gaining weight, than people who burn calories at a slower pace.

The bad news: It’s hard to boost your resting metabolism much beyond its natural set point, though it is possible to slow it down.

Are you familiar with the TV show The Biggest Loser? I know it has been around a while and has a certain popularity. I watched it a few times, but was never comfortable with it. It seemed so unnatural and I had a feeling it wasn’t truly healthy either. Continue reading

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Pilates For Weight Loss: Ten Tips on How, Exactly, Does This Work

I visited This blog to thank the blogger for liking something I had written. In the process, I ran across this post on Pilates and was so impressed with the quality of the information in it, that I thought I would share it with you.

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Tony

Wondering, whether your Pilates routine will help you to lose weight fast? Do Pilates benefits include weight loss effect or the slim and well-toned body promises are just encouraging words from Pilates instructors? Just recently, I heard from a CrossFit trainer that “while Pilates has definite benefits, its strongest suit is certainly not weight loss.” As the fitness enthusiast with more than 25 years in dancing, all kinds of fitness training and mind-body practices, I respectfully disagree.

Triggered by those words above, I have done some research through hundreds of fitness forums and gladly present its results, completed with my personal journey as the Pilates institutor and observation of my clients, in the article below. Hopefully, this post will help you clarify how effective are Pilates classes for losing weight and whether Pilates is the first choice for weight loss purposes. 

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7 Benefits of regular physical Exercise – Mayo Clinic

You know exercise is good for you, but do you know how good? From boosting your mood to improving your sex life, find out how exercise can improve your life.
Want to feel better, have more energy and even add years to your life? Just exercise.
The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. Everyone benefits from exercise, regardless of age, sex or physical ability.
Need more convincing to get moving? Check out these seven ways exercise can lead to a happier, healthier you.

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1. Exercise controls weight
Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn.
Regular trips to the gym are great, but don’t worry if you can’t find a large chunk of time to exercise every day. To reap the benefits of exercise, just get more active throughout your day — take the stairs instead of the elevator or rev up your household chores. Consistency is key. Continue reading

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Filed under aging brain, brain, brain exercise, cardio exercise, Exercise, sleep, Weight, weight control

Fitness trackers aren’t making us healthier – Time

This week’s Time magazine has an article on why fitness trackers aren’t making us healthier. This is even as the U.S. market for wearables hits $7 billion this year.

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Duh, what a shocker! The piece quotes Eric Finkelstein, a professor at the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, who led the effort, “There’s confusion among people about a measurement tool and an intervention,” Finkelstein says. A scale counts pounds, for example, but won’t teach you how to eat less.

I have quoted the statistic in lots of posts that more than 60 percent of us are overweight and 30 percent outright obese. Time offers the following, “The U.S. has an exercise problem, with 28 percent of Americans ages 50 and over considered wholly inactive. That means 31 million adults move no more than is necessary to perform the most basic functions of daily life.”

Wow. No wonder we have a healthcare crisis. We are killing ourselves with overeating and underexercising, maybe under-moving would be more accurate.

I think this whole thing with the fitness trackers goes back to our hunger for a ‘quick fix.’ How can I drop those extra pounds in a week or two, and with minimum effort? You can’t, at least not in any healthy way.

I know that during the many years I struggled with a weight problem my mind reasoned similarly. I would work at losing the extra pounds so that I could hurry back and indulge in all my bad eating habits. Not surprisingly, my weight yo yo-ed all the time. It wasn’t until I started writing this blog that I came to understand that losing weight is a stop gap measure not a way of life. The idea is to live healthy. If you do that you don’t have to worry about extra pounds. The ones you had will have melted off and you won’t be putting on new ones.

I didn’t create this post to condemn fitness trackers. There is nothing wrong with them. I have an Apple Watch. Got it just after they came out. I love it. I can track my bike rides, stair climbing, dog walks,etc., and get a little report on how many calories I burned, how far I went, my heart rate, how long it took and more. But, the Watch is just a tool. I was doing these things before I got the Watch, I just didn’t have all the information it provides. So, I consider this fitness wearable  a positive addition to my way of life. You can read How my Apple Watch promotes my good health if interested.

I have never owned or used a Fitbit or any of those other trackers, but I would imagine that they could fit into your healthy lifestyle in the same way. Just remember, as Professor Finkelstein pointed out, these fitness trackers are measurement tools not an intervention. We still have to make the decision and carry out the actions on our own. Until we adjust our mindset, no amount of neat new gadgets are going to solve our health problems.

Tony

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Filed under Exercise, fitness calculator, fitness myths, fitness trackers

12 +1 Rewards of Exercise

WebMD is offering a nice slide show with what they call the top 12 rewards of exercise.

I called this post 12 +1 Rewards because I have included my own observation adding one  reward from working out that WebMD didn’t mention.

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They list Better Mood pointing out that exercise releases endorphins – the feel good’ chemicals in the brain.

Next is More Energy, noting that “when you exercise regularly that fatigue goes away and you find yourself with a lot more pep.” Continue reading

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Tips for Healthy Eating at Fast Food Eateries

As a retired guy I don’t eat a lot of fast food because I have the time to fix my own meals, so my experience since retiring is limited in this area. Being in the work force rips a lot of your dietary control away from you. You find yourself ‘on the road’ and subject to the vagaries of your present locale. Or, you have a deadline, so you can’t take the time for a proper meal. You find yourself at the mercy of local fast food eateries. But, maybe all is not lost.

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HELPGUIDE.org offers some worthwhile tips on trying to eat healthy at fast food restaurants.

“Making healthier choices at fast food restaurants is easier if you prepare ahead by checking guides that show you the nutritional content of meal choices at your favorite restaurants. Free downloadable guides help you evaluate your options. If you have a special dietary concern, such as diabetes, heart health or weight loss, the websites of national non-profits provide useful advice. You can also choose to patronize restaurants that focus on natural, high quality food.

“If you don’t prepare ahead of time, common sense guidelines help to make your meal healthier. For example, a seemingly healthy salad can be a diet minefield when smothered in high-fat dressing and fried toppings, so choose a salad with fresh veggies, grilled toppings, and a lighter dressing. Portion control is also important, as many fast food restaurants serve enough food for several meals in the guise of a single serving.”

Tips for making healthy choices at fast food restaurants:
▪ Make careful menu selections – pay attention to the descriptions on the menu. Dishes labeled deep-fried, pan-fried, basted, batter-dipped, breaded, creamy, crispy, scalloped, Alfredo, au gratin, or in cream sauce are usually high in calories, unhealthy fats, or sodium. Order items with more vegetables and choose leaner meats.
▪ Drink water with your meal. Soda is a huge source of hidden calories. One 32-oz Big Gulp of regular cola packs about 425 calories, which can quickly gulp up a big portion of your daily calorie intake. Try adding a little lemon to your water or ordering unsweetened iced tea.
▪ “Undress” your food. When choosing items, be aware of calorie- and fat-packed salad dressings, spreads, cheese, sour cream, etc. For example, ask for a grilled chicken sandwich without the mayonnaise. You can ask for a packet of ketchup or mustard and add it yourself, controlling how much you put on your sandwich.
▪ Special order. Many menu items would be healthy if it weren’t for the way they were prepared. Ask for your vegetables and main dishes to be served without the sauces. Ask for olive oil and vinegar for your salads or order the dressing “on the side” and spoon only a small amount on at a time. If your food is fried or cooked in oil or butter, ask to have it broiled or steamed.
Eat mindfully. Pay attention to what you eat and savor each bite. Chew your food more thoroughly and avoid eating on the run. Being mindful also means stopping before you are full. It takes time for your body to register that you have eaten. Mindful eating relaxes you, so you digest better, and makes you feel more satisfied.

Pay attention to portion size, too. So many fast food places just give you too much food. Then you are stuck with the conundrum not wanting to waste food, but not wanting to pig out, either. So, they mess with your mind as well as your body. As I said on my page How to Lose Weight – And Keep it Off – “You don’t want to waste food? But you can’t continue to waist food, either. Understanding serving size and portion control will take you a long way on your weight control journey.”

Tony

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