Your Legs Are So Important!

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The Impact of Leg Strength on Life Expectancy and Brain Health

By Ben Holm

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leg strength and life span

Never skip a Monday. This is one of the most well-known pieces of advice for anyone focused on health and fitness, but science is proving that we should all pay attention to one more rule for success: Never skip leg day. In fact, it’s probably best to think of every day as leg day because strength in this one area of your body will likely determine your longevity and how well you maintain your cognitive health through the years.

What’s the connection between leg strength, longevity and the brain? When you look at some of the most fascinating scientific studies released in recent years, it becomes clear that your legs are more powerful than ever imagined.

Leg Strength and Life Expectancy

Much of the research that now connects leg strength and life expectancy began with the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study, which is commonly referred to as the Health ABC Study. Researchers recruited 3,075 men and women who could walk a quarter of a mile and climb 10 steps without difficulty at the start of the study.

Participants answered telephone questionnaires and went through milestone testing for a total of 16 years with a retention rate close to 100 percent. The goal was to study changes in body composition and health over time, looking for factors that could reasonably predict levels of health later in life. A massive amount of data was collected, and researchers are now using that information as a jumping off point for additional scientific studies.

One thing we do know about the Health ABC Study is that the leg strength of participants at the start of the study was a predictor of the health they enjoyed later in the study. One follow-up study utilized data for men and women participating in the Health ABC Study to determine that lower intake of protein earlier in life may lead to greater loss of skeletal muscle later in life, increasing the risk of “functional impairment and mortality” with age.

Other researchers have come up with the same results when studying predictors of reduced physical functioning late in life. One study utilized data from 1,280 adults aged 55 and older to determine that leg strength was the biggest predictor of physical functionality in the future. Another study published in 2017 through the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that hemodialysis patients were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease or any other cause if they had adequate muscle mass in the lower thigh.

If we go back to 2006, there was an interesting study published in the Journal of Gerontology that found quadricep strength was an efficient predictor of mortality risk. This study utilized the data of 2,292 participants from the Health ABC Study.

In 2012, BMJ published research proving that low muscle strength in adolescence is a clear predictor of mortality in young adulthood. This study followed more than a million adolescent men for 24 years, so it’s important to note the lack of women in this study. A study from 2010 also found that leg strength is a predictor of mortality in men with peripheral artery disease but not for women with the same disease. Perhaps future research will tell us with certainty what may serve as a stronger predictor for women.

For anyone trying to live as long as possible and make the most of those years, there are three things to learn from these studies:

  1. The stronger you are today, the longer you’re likely to live in the future.
  2. Strength in your legs is likely a bigger predictor of future health than the amount of muscle you have overall.
  3. Consuming an adequate amount of protein is key to maintaining your muscle and strength as you get older. You don’t want to consume too much protein, but you can give your body a boost on muscle retention by switching out the carbs for an extra serving of chicken or turkey whenever possible. Many factors go into determining how much protein you need, but it’s worth a little exploration.

Leg Strength and the Aging Brain

We’ve known for a long time that cognitive functioning declines with age. This refers to the ability to receive information from your surrounding environment, process that information for meaning, and then either act on it immediately or store it for future use. This includes memory, processing speed and the ability to concentrate on one thing for a period of time.

What we haven’t always known is the connection between physical strength in the early years of life and cognitive functioning in later years. One study published in a 2016 issue of Gerontology compared the leg strength and cognitive functioning of 324 female twins over a 10-year period to see if they could establish a protective connection when comparing data between each twin set.

This research is groundbreaking because it eliminates a variety of genetic and environmental factors that may come into play when comparing unrelated study participants. When each twin was compared to her sister, the data showed that those with more leg strength at the beginning of the study were in better cognitive shape at the end of the study.

They also found that leg strength early in life can predict the amount of grey matter in the brain later on. Since we know that the development of grey matter declines with age and is connected to memory and other cognitive abilities, this study makes a strong argument that keeping the leg muscles strong can lead to more grey matter and thus improved cognitive abilities later in life.

Another study published in a 2018 issue of Frontiers in Neuroscience used mice to prove that weight-bearing exercise is critical to the production of neural stem cells and the maintenance of muscle mass. Researchers stopped mice from using their hind legs for 28 days, dramatically reducing their mobility and leg strength. The result was less muscle mass and a reduction in the number of neural stem cells in their brains.

When these stem cells aren’t produced and utilized properly, it can have a devastating impact on the central nervous system and may increase the risk of developing neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis. This study also proves that there is a protective relationship between the leg muscles and the brain. If your leg muscles are weak or you aren’t able to move them frequently, it has a negative impact on brain functioning.

Is it really a shock that studies are showing a connection between leg strength and cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia? Wherever you are in your life right now, the term “move it or lose it” should stay at the front of your mind.

Something as simple as moving your legs more could keep your mind alive and your body in motion for decades to come. Here’s the great news: It’s never too late to start building leg strength. Even if you’re in your 40s or well beyond, you will benefit from doing everything possible to strengthen your lower body. Keep reading for some great ideas on how to do this efficiently and safely.

How to Improve Leg Strength at Any Age

Combine everything we have learned so far with the fact that most people will lose a quarter of their muscle strength by the age of 70, and it’s not difficult to see why late-life disease is running rampant and ending lives way too early. Improving your activity level or going for casual walks isn’t enough to maintain leg strength, but those activities may serve as your starting point.

Use this cheat sheet as a guide to determine how you take action to pump up your legs starting today:

  • If your lifestyle is currently sedentary, start by getting up and moving as much as possible. If taking short walks throughout the day is all that you can do safely, then that’s your starting point. If you can do strength-building exercises during commercial breaks when watching television as well, then that’s even better. Think about seeing your doctor to determine what you can do safely, and then gradually build up to a more rigorous workout routine with time. We’ll tell you about some of the simplest and most effective leg-strengthening exercises below, so jump down for the list and start using them as much as possible.
  • If you’re moderately active but you don’t workout consistently, it’s time to take your workout routine to the next level. You don’t have to designate certain days “leg day,” but you should start adding some weight-bearing exercises that target your leg muscles into your routine. Look below for a list of leg exercises proven to strengthen and build muscle.
  • If you workout regularly or you’re an athlete, then you probably already have strong leg muscles. Make it a rule never to skip leg day, and maybe consider increasing the amount of time that you focus on your legs.

Research has shown that runners have strong leg muscles that can extend their lives by nearly two decades, and it’s likely that other athletes who regularly train their leg muscles have the same benefit. Perhaps you’re not an athlete or runner, but you can still participate in sports.

You’ll work the same muscles whether you’re playing basketball at the YMCA with the kids or on a professional court. Tennis, badminton, soccer and flag football will work as well. If you can’t run, start with power walking.

Swimmers also have strong legs, and exercising in the water applies virtually no impact on your body. This makes water aerobics and swimming laps another great starting point for those unable to move comfortably on dry land. Try walking laps across the shallow end of the pool while lunging and kicking your legs. Holding the edge of the pool, jump your feet from the bottom of the pool up onto the wall repeatedly. Many strength-building exercises that you can do on dry land are also possible in the water.

You can also do some simple leg-strengthening exercises from the comfort of your home. Take a peek at this list of the most common moves suitable for people of all ages:

  • Squats – Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend at the knees, pushing your glutes backwards as if trying to sit on the edge of a chair. You should hold your body weight in your heels. As you return to a standing position, squeeze your buns at the top of the movement. You can place your feet wider or closer together to work different leg muscles.
  • Lunges – Standing with your feet slightly apart, take one foot out in front of your body so that you’re standing with your legs in an open-scissor pattern. Bend both knees, taking your back knee toward the ground and maintaining a 90-degree angle with the front leg. Hold for a moment before rising back to a standing position and pushing your front leg off the ground to return to your starting position. Rotate legs. You can also walk while lunging each leg.
  • Glute Raises – These are also called glute bridges. Rest on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands slightly under your glutes on each side, and then push your hips up. Your feet should plant firmly into the floor as your hips and glutes move straight up. Keep your shoulders and neck on the ground. Lower back to starting position and repeat. Try to squeeze your glutes before lowering to the floor each time.
  • Step Ups – This is as simple as stepping up onto a raised platform. Rotate your lead leg with each step, squeezing your glutes a little as you pull your second leg up to the step. You can do this with an exercise step, the bottom step of a staircase, a bench or any other raised platform that is secure and at the right height to challenge you without presenting a safety concern. Start with low steps and work your way up to higher platforms with time.

With time, you can make these simple movements harder by adding jumps or holding weight. Simply increasing the number of repetitions in a set or the number of sets performed can challenge your legs with time as well. You may also want to learn some moves that combine your lower and upper body for maximum health benefits. For instance, try squatting and then raising your hands up over your head as you come back up to standing.

Simple calf raises while sitting on the couch or standing in line can help as well. Your calves are critical to longevity and cognitive health, but they also serve as the “second heart” and are critical to the health of your circulatory system.

Grow Nutrient Dense Food In Your Garden!

One thing I will always be grateful for Juice Plus is that, no matter what, everyday I get the most nutrition that my body needs, and that is before putting a meal in my mouth! When you match that with eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, you are giving your body what it needs.

I know most of the foods in the video are foods I simply don’t get as they aren’t in the forefront at the store. Why not grow them??

When is the last time you had watercress or bok choy? I know with my soil garden and Tower Garden, I will be putting these in!

Check out the video from NATURAL WAYS for more!

Walnuts Help Fight Cancer!

Walnuts have always had “potential” to fight cancer. There is a new study that gives more validity to this! While food should never replace cancer treatments, having a healthy diet can only increase your chances of fighting, and preventing disease!

Check out the video from PLANT BASED SCIENCE LONDON for more!

What Is Your “Self Talk” When You Want To Lose Weight?

You can talk yourself out of losing weight if you aren’t staying positive!

Post from MY FITNESS PAL

5 Thinking Traps to Avoid When Trying to Lose Weight

Emily Abbate

 BY EMILY ABBATE

FEBRUARY 4, 2021

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5 Thinking Traps to Avoid When Trying to Lose Weight

Every weight-loss journey is different, but shedding pounds and keeping them off requires creating sustainable healthy habits with nutrition and fitness. Another thing that can make or break losing weight: how you speak to yourself about the process. In fact, research published in the journal Obesity found people who used positive self-talk were more successful at losing weight, helping them get back on track after minor lapses such as overeating or skipping a workout.

“When you tell yourself you’ve failed at something, oftentimes it triggers a backslide or a binge episode,” says Rachel McBryan, RD. If you catch yourself talking or thinking negatively, you can reframe it to get back on track quickly. Doing so “supports a better mood and less obsessive thinking about food,” says McBryan.

Here are five common thinking traps that are helpful to reframe when working to lose weight and improve your health:

1

“TODAY WAS A BAD EATING DAY”

The simple fact of defining your eating habits as “good” or “bad” can set you up for failure. “The ‘bad’ days make you feel guilt and shame, which can lead to unhealthy relationships with yourself and food,” says Julia Axelbaum, RD. “The ‘good’ days put an unrealistic expectation and pressure on yourself to keep it up and always be perfect.”

Instead of thinking of days as good or bad, ask yourself about the habits that went along with either being successful or veering off course. For example, maybe you logged your food consistently, so you noticed trends. Or maybe you overate because you were stressed?

“We all have triggers that lead to undesirable behaviors, and figuring out what those are is key,” says Axelbaum. “Once you identify them, take a moment to think about what you can do differently the next time you are in that situation. What new, encouraging thoughts can you test to prevent this from happening in the future?” For example, instead of saying “I had a bad day,” you might tell yourself, “I didn’t get enough protein at breakfast because I was tired, which led me to reach for sugary foods.” Next time, “I will go to bed a little earlier and also prepare breakfast ahead of time.” Identifying the problem without guilt and coming up with a solution to be prepared helps avoid future slip-ups.

2

“THE SCALE ISN’T BUDGING, SO I MUST BE DOING SOMETHING WRONG”

It’s easy to get disheartened when stepping on the scale doesn’t show a lower number. This can lead to stress, which alters your body’s hormones and can further hinder weight loss. Here’s the thing: “Losing inches and not weight actually means you have started to lose fat and will eventually lose weight, too,” says Anam Umair, RD, PhD. Instead of getting down on yourself when you step on the scale, remind yourself of all the other positive changes you’re noticing. For instance, “I have more energy to play with my kids,” “I’m lifting heavier weights,” and “I have more endurance on my walks or runs.” Focusing on the positives and what you’re doing right makes weight-loss more motivating and enjoyable.

3

“I TOTALLY MESSED UP, I HAVE TO START ALL OVER NOW”

“An all-or-nothing mentality has no place in creating a healthier lifestyle,” says Axelbaum. Instead of thinking one less-than-stellar decision wrecks an entire day, move forward and do the best you can with what you have.

The goal is not perfection; it’s progress,” says Axelbaum. “Instead of beating yourself up, pause to notice any feelings of guilt or shame. Remember, you are only human, and this happens to everyone at some point.” Instead of dwelling on one slip-up, remind yourself “no one meal, day or even week of eating defines my weight,” says Axelbaum.

4

“I REALLY SHOULDN’T BE EATING THIS”

There’s a time and a place for different foods (and indulgences) in our diets. Rather than shaming yourself for choosing a food, understand the occasional treat is part of a healthy relationship with food.

“Next time you’re considering indulging in something special, think about if it’s something you really want and love, or if you are just eating because it’s there,” says Axelbaum. “If you do make the conscious choice to eat it, enjoy it to the fullest. Give your full attention to the flavor, texture and smell with each bite. Savor the food slowly and be as present as possible.” Again, remind yourself to look at the bigger picture. You can tell yourself, “I eat healthfully 80% of the time, so I’m going to fully enjoy indulgences the remaining 20%.”

5

“DOES THIS MAKE ME LOOK FAT?”

It might seem innocent enough to ask this when shopping or picking out an outfit in a dressing room. However, “the problem is this kind of language reinforces the bad habit of prioritizing your weight’s appearance and only your weight’s appearance as the focal point of your life,” says John Fawkes, NSCA-certified personal trainer and Precision Nutrition-certified nutritional counselor. Instead, ask yourself how certain clothes make you feel,” says Fawkes. “Think about the material, colors and fabrics, plus how energized you feel after putting on a certain piece.”

Herbs Can Unclog Arteries And Help Prevent Heart Attacks!

There are so many herbs around us and each one has some sort of medicinal purpose, some more than others.

Have you heard of RED SAGE or ARJUN TEA? Do you eat GINSENG on a regular basis?

Garlic is an obvious one and probably the most utilized. Studies show garlic lowers BP, regulates cholesterol and prevents cell damage.

Psyllium is a soluble fiber and can prevent constipation but is also used to combat metabolic syndrome.

The amazing part of adding plants to your diet for health is that there is such a wide variety that you will never get bored! Change it up because we get something different from each plant.

Check out the video from BESTIE for more!

Add Some Variety To Your Greens!

Post from MY FITNESS PAL

7 Green Veggies You Haven’t Tried, But Totally Should

Julia Malacoff

 BY JULIA MALACOFF

MARCH 24, 2022

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7 Green Veggies You Haven’t Tried, But Totally Should

You’ve probably heard you should eat the rainbow. But within the color spectrum, green veggies stand out as a superstar for their nutrition prowess. The thing is, there’s a lot to explore beyond the more typical spinach, lettuce, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Ahead, dietitians share their favorite under-the-radar picks.

1

KOHLRABI

Also known as a German turnip, kohlrabi is a cruciferous vegetable similar to broccoli, kale and cabbage, but with a slightly sweeter taste, explains Lindsey DeSoto, a registered dietitian. “It’s very versatile and can be eaten raw or cooked.” Plus, it’s not too shabby in the nutrition department. “Kohlrabi is also chock-full of nutrients such as fiber, vitamin C and vitamin B6,” DeSoto adds. Add it to salads and soups, or saute it, she suggests.

“I personally like to roast mine in the oven. Start by removing any stems or leaves. Next, peel the skin on the kohlrabi bulb. Cut the kohlrabi into 1/2-inch slices, toss with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste, and roast at 425 degrees for around 20–25 minutes or until crisp.”

2

MUSTARD GREENS

Bitter greens don’t always get the spotlight, but they’re super nutritious according to Bill Bradley, a registered dietitian. “Mustard greens are a wonderful combo of bitter and mouth-watering flavor,” he explains. That means they don’t need a lot of extra flavor added when you cook them. “My favorite way to cook mustard greens is to saute them in extra virgin olive oil with garlic, and add a splash of balsamic vinegar at the end.”

As a bonus, one serving of mustard greens (a half-cup cooked) gives you half of your daily requirement for vitamin C, Bradley adds.

3

LACINATO KALE

“This is a darker version of kale with really dark green leaves filled with fiber, B-vitamins, vitamin A, and even vitamin C, says Dana Ellis Hunnes, a registered dietitian. Those qualities make it great for skin health, the immune system and digestion, Hunnes explains. Try it in a kale salad or a tasty pasta dish.

4

BEET GREENS

If you’re looking for ways to reduce your food waste, this one’s for you. “When I buy beets, I love to saute the greens separately,” notes Jinan Banna, a registered dietitian and professor of nutrition. “I use a little olive oil and garlic, and then top with lemon juice toward the end of cooking. These are very nutritious and are a source of vitamins A and K.”

5

SWISS CHARD

“This green veggie is less eaten than some others but may be more healthy,” says Morgyn Clair, a registered dietitian. “A serving of chard has over 100% of your daily vitamin A, and contains some enzymes thought to help with blood sugar control.” Saute it like you would any other green, or use it to make these chicken wraps.

6

CHICORY GREENS

“This bitter green has been foraged for thousands of years,” Bradley says. It’s not as common in the U.S., but you may find it at a farmers market or a specialty grocery store. “Chicory is high in vitamins K and C and is jam-packed with antioxidants,” he adds.

7

CHINESE BROCCOLI

Registered dietitian Lisa Hugh likes this veggie because it’s really easy to prepare. You can swap it in for bok choy in a stir fry, for example. “Chinese broccoli has a slightly bitter and enjoyable flavor and is rich in potassium, vitamins and minerals.”

THE BOTTOM LINE

There’s nothing wrong with the old classics, but when it comes to green vegetables, there’s a whole wide world of variety. If you’re trying to up your plant-food intake and you’re looking to try something new, one of these options might just become your new favorite veggie.

Looking To Cut Your Sugar Cravings?

Don’t look now but sugar is one of the most addictive things and it is added to so much of the food we eat! This makes it so difficult to cut it out of our diets, and some may feel like it is impossible.

Cravings are tied to 3 factors according to Dr Sten:

  1. Opiate receptors
  2. Carb dependent
  3. Emotional conditioning.

So we have to transition and recondition our bodies! The good news is there are foods that will help here.

Check out the video from DR STEN EKBERG for more!

Ginger And Moringa Make A Powerful Tea!

Separately, ginger and moringa a beneficial for our health. When you combine them, they are incredible!

  • Ginger helps with weight loss, boosts metabolism, improves the gastrointestinal tract, preventing nausea and vomiting.
  • Moringa helps lower inflammations in the body, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, and alleviates headaches.
  • Combining moringa with ginger can be helpful for…hypertension, ulcers, liver issues, and anemia.

Check out the video from NATURAL CURES for more!

Ginger And Moringa Make A Powerful Tea!

Separately, ginger and moringa a beneficial for our health. When you combine them, they are incredible!

  • Ginger helps with weight loss, boosts metabolism, improves the gastrointestinal tract, preventing nausea and vomiting.
  • Moringa helps lower inflammations in the body, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, and alleviates headaches.
  • Combining moringa with ginger can be helpful for…hypertension, ulcers, liver issues, and anemia.

Check out the video from NATURAL CURES for more!

Do You Really Have To “Jump-start” Your Weight Loss?

Post from MY FITNESS PAL

6 Myths About How to Jump-Start Weight Loss

Lauren Krouse

BY LAUREN KROUSE

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6 Myths About How to Jump-Start Weight Loss

Many weight-loss products like meal replacement plans, detox teas, fat-burning supplements, and juice cleanses promise to “jump-start weight loss.” However, “jump-starting weight loss’ is more of a buzzword than a necessary or helpful part of a weight-loss journey,” says Liz Wyosnick, RD.

The truth is, you can lose a lot of weight very quickly, but that typically requires very restrictive methods like cutting too many calories or ditching entire food groups. This fad diet route can create further setbacks since it’s hard to maintain long-term. It often leads to yo-yo dieting, which can slow down your metabolism and make it harder to lose weight and keep it off.

Although weight-loss marketing pros often try to sell quick fixes, this takes the focus away from what you really need at the beginning of your journey: a solid game plan. “Weight loss is less about how aggressively you start and more about how intentionally you build your approach,” says Max Grossman, a certified personal trainer and founder and director of Health Engineered.

Here, nutrition and fitness pros break down common myths about how to jump-start weight loss and what to do instead for a more sustainable, healthy and empowering slim-down plan.

Myths About How to Jump-Start Weight Loss

“When I hear ‘jump-start weight loss,’ I hear fad diet wording that may mean a few pounds lost quickly, and then quickly regained once the regimen is complete,” says Wyosnick. Severe calorie restriction isn’t necessary to lose weight, and it often backfires — leading to more extreme weight fluctuations or yo-yo dieting later on.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: SET A REALISTIC CALORIE GOAL AND START A FOOD JOURNAL

“I encourage my clients to adopt a long game mindset for weight loss because there’s no need to lose weight quickly,” says Wyosnick. Instead of reaching for unhealthy weight-loss goals like “lose 10 pounds in five days,” aim for a healthy pace of 1-2 pounds per week.

Use an app like MyFitnessPal to determine a daily calorie goal to create a slight calorie deficit (meaning fewer calories in than those you burn through day-to-day activities and exercise). Then, consistently track your intake to raise your awareness of the proper portion sizes you need to eat to lose weight.

Myths About How to Jump-Start Weight Loss

Many diets home in on what you “should” give up — carbs, dessert, dairy and more, says Samantha McKinney, RD. They promise if you can just push through it for 30 days, the results will be worth the pain. But having to cut out so much of what you love can make you feel deprived, drive up hunger and cravings, and eventually lead to binge eating and your same previous unhealthy eating habits when the strict regimen is finally over.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: ADD HEALTHY FOODS TO YOUR LIFE

“Hands down, the best thing you can do is focus on additions instead of subtractions,” says McKinney.

To make grocery shopping for weight loss easier, create a list of whole, unprocessed foods you enjoy, including:

When you prioritize healthy foods and drinks and log them in your food journal before you reach for indulgences, you can naturally begin to edge out the not-so-healthy things you’re trying to reduce, says McKinney.

A strange but scary-sounding claim is that a “detox” tea, broth, juice or fast can eliminate built-up toxins in your body and, in turn, enhance your body’s fat-burning capabilities to jump-start weight loss. But there’s no research to back this up. “The word ‘detox’ is another buzzword,” says Annamaria Louloudis, RD. “Your body naturally detoxifies itself, so don’t waste your money on ‘detox teas.’”

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: CLEAN OUT YOUR PANTRY AND FRIDGE

A much easier and more effective “detox” is to spring clean your kitchen. “We eat what we have around, so hide the junk food or keep it out of the house,” says Lisa R. Young, PhD, RD. Then, put healthy foods front and center with fruit bowls on the counter, glass containers of pre-cut veggies at eye-level in the fridge, and grab-and-go healthy snacks in pre-portioned bags.

Myths About How to Jump-Start Weight Loss

One of the most de-motivating myths is you just need more willpower to start losing weight. But without an action plan, motivation to carry on can disappear pretty fast. “A lack of preparation often leads to less healthy decisions regarding food or activity,” says Wyosnick. For example, it’s much easier to chill out on the couch and watch Netflix after work when you don’t have a workout scheduled or the groceries you need to make a wholesome meal.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: HAVE A PLAN AND SUPPORT SYSTEM TO KEEP YOURSELF MOTIVATED

Instead of trying to summon willpower from nowhere, make it easier to create new habits and stick with them by having a plan and surrounding yourself with support. “When you’re armed with a plan for your Monday through Friday meals and workout routine, that alleviates mental energy later and can make you much more likely to follow through,” says Wyosnick.

Rather than overhauling everything all at once — then getting overwhelmed and quitting — start with one small change to your diet or exercise routine per week, she suggests. Set and track SMART goals which are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. After you reach one, build on your success with another.

Here are a few examples:

  • Week one: Increase your vegetable intake by 2 cups per day.
  • Week two: Maintain your week one goal and add a 30-minute walk four times a week.

You can also follow one of the plans in the MyFitnessPal app (for premium members), which features RD-approved strategies, recipes and daily check-ins.

To up your chances of success, get your support system involved, too. Research shows sharing your goals with someone you look up to can increase your motivation, and working out with others can compel you to push harder and longer. If it’s in your budget, you might also consider hiring a coach, registered dietitian or certified personal trainer to help create the most effective plan for you.

High-intensity exercises like HIIT workouts and group fitness classes are often made out to be ideal for weight loss due to evidence that they burn more calories during and after the workout (aka the “afterburn” effect). While this sounds great, you can easily blow the “bonus burn” with about half of a protein bar, says Grossman. It’s also common for people new to these exercises to dramatically lower their non-exercise activity thermogenesis (or calories burned from day-to-day movements like walking, fidgeting and doing chores) by vegging out following a super tough workout.

The reality: “No single workout generates very much fat loss on its own,” says Grossman. “And while almost everyone likes the idea of high-intensity training, few people can sustain it for very long.”

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: CHOOSE FORMS OF MOVEMENT AND EXERCISE YOU CAN SEE YOURSELF DOING FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE

The best approach for sustainable weight loss is reducing the calories you eat and increasing those you burn through a combination of everyday movement (doing the laundry, carrying light packages back to your apartment, playing with your dog) and exercise such as walking, running and strength training — the latter of which can help you build and maintain muscle and improve your metabolism over time.

“When you’re starting out, it’s all about adherence. If you can stick to it, it will benefit you. If not, it doesn’t matter if ‘everyone else’ seems to love it,” says Grossman. He advises looking for workouts that are physically and mentally engaging, so you can develop a skill without beating up your body, socially engaging, so you have a reason to show up and have fun, outdoors for the added benefit of taking in nature and sunshine, and, most importantly, enjoyable

The possibilities are endless. Think: dancing, hikingbiking, canoeing, kayaking, longboarding, team sports, Frisbee, slacklining, yoga, rock climbing, swimming, martial arts, skiing, snowboarding or a combination of any of the above.

Myths About How to Jump-Start Weight Loss

“A lot of time and energy is dedicated to ‘hacks,’ ‘tricks’ and ‘secrets’ to put in less and get more,” says Grossman. “While some of these hyped-up approaches actually have modest value, they often don’t work unless you’re already nailing the true essentials of weight loss.” While healthy eating and regular movement are important pillars, managing stress levels and self-care are key, too.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: START WITH A STRONG FOUNDATION

Take care of your overall health to make losing weight easier. No matter your weight-loss plan, make sure you have the basics covered, says Grossman. Get 7–8 hours of high-quality sleepeach night and incorporate stress-management techniques into your life like meditation, breathing exercises and self-care practices.

Finally, be patient with yourself. Even if you’re off to a great start, sustainable weight loss takes time. If you strive for consistency over perfection, the results follow.

Make progress every day while you work on mini fitness and nutrition goals, like walking more steps or learning to track macros. Go to “Plans” in the MyFitnessPal app for daily coaching and easy-to-follow tasks to keep you motivated.

Vegan Family House

vegan recipes, books and festivities... Among the trees in Scotland.

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