March is the time of year when many new runners hit the pavement to lose weight and get in shape. And it's a good time to start. The weather is generally mild and the roads aren't too congested with cyclists and other traffic. But if weight loss is your goal, there are certain guidelines to follow and pitfalls to avoid.
3 Tips to Help Runners Lose Weight
- Get help. I'm not a running coach, so I can't address issues related to running form and training mechanics. I can however, recommend that you get a coach or a certified trainer because those issues are important even if you are new to the sport. Proper running form will help prevent injury and will keep you healthy and active so you can stick to your plan to lose weight. Find a coach in your area by searching the USATF Coaches Registry. You'll also find great online advice from Christine Luff, the About.com Running Expert.
- Watch your diet. Running burns a lot of calories, but not enough to justify an overly indulgent diet. In fact, one of the most common mistakes made by runners who want to lose weight is eating too much. Make sure you consume enough protein, balance your carbohydrates and eat healthy fats, but don't eat too much. Evaluate your caloric needs or make an appointment with a sports nutritionist to make sure you create the calorie deficit needed for weight loss.
- Get proper equipment. Running shoes and a few other accessories will make or break your running experience. Visit a locally-owned running store that is staffed by qualified experts who can evaluate your gait and make suggestions for the proper footwear. You should also have a Road ID and other accessories if you run solo.
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I always wonder about diet experts who pick certain fruits and claim that they are bad for weight loss. Last year, we were told to avoid bananas. Now, grapes have been added to the hit list. I recently read a blog where an expert claimed that grapes can ruin your diet.
Is Fruit Bad for Your Diet?
If you deep fry your fruit and cover it with chocolate, then fruit might be bad for your diet. But in most cases, fruit is a great addition to your diet. Some people who are on medically-controlled diets like the diabetes diet should control their fruit intake for medical reasons. But if your health care team hasn't told you to avoid fruit, then eat fruit! Yes, most fruit is high in sugar, but sugar isn't always bad for you and when you eat fruit, you eat naturally occurring sugar that is combined with fiber and healthy vitamins.
Best Fruit for Weight Loss?
So is any fruit really better for weight loss? Nutrition expert Elisa Zied, M.S. RD, CDN recently told me that raspberries are one of the best foods to boost your diet. If I had to vote, I'd vote for raspberries too. You can make flavored water with raspberries, freeze them, add then to cereal or yogurt or snack on them plain. Yum.
But if raspberries aren't your favorite, then choose another fruit and use it to replace higher calorie, starchy foods to satisfy your sweet tooth. And if you're wondering if there are really any fruits that are "bad" for weight loss, my personal opinion is that any liquified fruit isn't the best choice. I'm not a fan of juicing for weight loss (and sometimes even smoothies can be problematic if you're on a diet).
(photo source: morguefile)
My regular readers know that I'm a big fan of high intensity interval training for weight loss. Workouts like Tabata training are not only quick and efficient but they help you to burn more calories all day long with EPOC. So the recommendation I'm about to make might seem slightly contradictory. But for some people who are trying to lose weight, hard core training is a bad choice.
If you are new to exercise, if you haven't worked out for a long time, if you are obese or if you have an injury to accommodate then doing too much too soon is a huge mistake. In fact, it's one of the most common workout mistakes cited by experts. Not only do you put yourself at risk for injury and exhaustion, but you deny yourself the opportunity to realize some of the most important benefits of exercise, like renewed energy and mastery of new skills.
Over the past several months, I've seen people sign up for marathons, begin CrossFit training, or join bootcamp programs to lose weight. Many of those same people have already quit. Each of those programs has specific pros and cons. If you are considering one of those options, consider both the benefits and drawbacks before you make an investment of time or money.
- Why CrossFit May Not Work for Weight Loss
- Why Can't I Lose Weight During Marathon Training?
- How to Build a Balanced Weight Loss Workout Program
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The World Health Organization suggests that you should consume half the amount of sugar that they previously recommended. The organization proposed the new guidelines yesterday, reconfirming that you should consume only 10% of your daily caloric intake from sugar, but making a new suggestion that you should aim to consume only 5% of calories from sugar to achieve better health. For people of normal BMI, that equals about 6 teaspoons of sugar each day.
Guidelines Can Be Confusing
It can be confusing for consumers to discern exactly how much sugar to consume each day as recommendations vary from organization to organization. In addition, some recommendations refer to "added sugar" while others like those announced by the WHO, apply to all sugars - added sugars and sugars that occur naturally in food. Americans will benefit from the new Nutrition Facts label recently proposed by the FDA that will specify "added sugar" on the label.
Find Sugar, Reduce Your Intake
If you are trying to lose weight or improve your eating habits, reducing your sugar intake is a great first step. But finding sugar in your food can be difficult. Sugar is added to many foods that you wouldn't expect, like spaghetti sauces, ketchup, salsas and salad dressings. Use these guides to find hidden sugar in your food and then follow expert advice to reduce your sugar intake, gain energy and lose weight.
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Do your kids have a television in their bedroom? If weight is an issue, you may want to remove it. Researchers have found that having a bedroom tv is associated with weight gain in children, regardless of the amount of time the kids actually spend watching it. In a JAMA news release, study authors said "this study suggests that removing bedroom televisions may be an important step in our nation's fight against child obesity."
Better Alternatives to Television
Of course, if your kids love their television, you may have a hard time marching into their bedrooms and removing it. Another study suggests that there may be some middle ground in the negotiation about television use. Researchers in Australia found that active gaming systems help some kids stay more active. So if your kids are already video game fans, adding a game that involves physical activity might be a good way to improve their level of physical activity.
Best Way to Improve Kids' Activity Level
Of course the best way to get your kids to participate in physical activity is to participate with them. Parents who are physically active often have children that are physically active. Get creative to involve your kids in your home workout, encourage them to do exercises with your dog or simply take 20 minutes to walk with them after school and ask questions about their day. These small investments may not seem like a big deal but they can go a long way towards building healthy habits for the long term.
- 3 Ways to Help Your Child Lose Weight
- How to Plan a Healthy Family Vacation
- Video Games and Weight Loss: Tips from Sloane Stephens
(photo source: morguefile)
While January is the month when most Americans go on a diet, March is the month when many of us consider starting an exercise program. If warmer spring temperatures and lighter wardrobes inspire you to hit the gym and try to improve your level of fitness, use these tips to make your plan more effective.
Best Workout for Weight Loss
There is no single workout that works best for weight loss. Research has shown that some high intensity workouts burn more fat, but you can't do these workouts every day. So the best way to lose weight with exercise is to create a balanced program of easy moderate and hard workouts to make the best use of your time at the gym or outdoors.
In addition, these are my three best tips for making sure your workouts pay off.
- Don't overcompensate with food. Your workout is not an excuse to pig out at the dinner table. Keep your calorie count in control. Make sure you are eating enough to fuel your workouts, but not so much that you undo the calorie-burning effects of your exercise session.
- Exercise every day. Yep, you read that right. You need to exercise every day if you want to burn more fat and calories. But this is where careful planning becomes important. Schedule easy recovery workouts on the days after your hard workouts to allow your body and mind to recover while you still burn calories and keep your workout habit in tact.
- Stay off the couch. A great workout is also not an excuse to sit on your butt for the rest of the day. If your workout wears you out to the point that you need to nap or lay down, then you worked too hard. Non-exercise activity plays a big role in the number of calories you burn each day. Work out effectively at the gym but stay active for the rest of the day to lose weight.
And don't fall victim to any of these common workout mistakes!
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The FDA announcement about proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts label is great news for dieters. When it comes out, the new label will help many people buy better foods for weight loss. But there are a few things you can do now, to make better choices when you shop at the grocery store.
Manufacturers often make claims about the healthfulness of their foods on the front of the label. Often their claims don't add up when you look at the back of the label. Use these three guides to get smarter about fat, sugar and calories.
- How to Spot Misleading Fat-Free Labels
- 3 Ways to Find Added Sugar in Foods
- Alert! Don't Always Trust the Calorie Count!
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Rachel Frederickson still battles her weight even after her controversial win on The Biggest Loser. In an interview with TODAY show host Savannah Guthrie, Frederickson said that her current struggle is keeping the weight off. "I'm in the maintenance mode," she said, "which is just as hard as losing the weight."
Learn to Trust Yourself
Frederickson, who looked looked healthy and vibrant on the TODAY show, explained that she had to learn to trust herself and not judge in order to lose the weight initially. But she says that it's those emotional skills that help her maintain her healthy weight now. "What I've learned is that I have an inner strength. I have a voice and I can trust myself." She says prior to her weight loss process she was too critical and judged herself.
Weight Maintenance Strategies
Rachel also addressed some of the daily challenges that dieters face when they move from the weight loss phase to the maintenance phase. "Adding in family and socializing and work and getting it all accomplished, it's a big balance," says Frederickson.
Even though Frederickson's public weight loss process was unique, her struggle to move into the complicated process of keeping the weight off is not. Every dieter struggles to keep the weight off for good. If you find yourself dealing with daily struggles to maintain your weight loss, use these resources to guide your process.
- How to Keep the Weight Off For Good
- 10 Things That Make the Weight Come Back
- What To Do When the Weight Comes Back
Do you use the Nutrition Facts label to choose healthier foods at the grocery store? If so, new changes proposed today by the FDA should make your decision process a little easier. People who are trying to lose weight will also find the new label (pictured) easier to use when they count calories.
According to a release, the new label will make it easier for buyers to find the most important health information. "Our guiding principle here is very simple: that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it's good for your family," said First Lady Michelle Obama in a release.
Several of the proposed changes will be especially helpful for dieters:
- Emphasis on calories. The print size for total calories per serving will be larger and easier to find on the new label. This will make it easier for consumers to quickly scan and compare different products.
- Removal of "Calories from Fat." Research continues to show that some types of fat are good for you. For that reason, the data regarding total calories from fat will be removed and indicators for trans fat, total fat and saturated fat will remain.
- Required information about added sugars. If you are trying to reduce your sugar intake to lose weight, the new label will be especially helpful for you. Currently there is no distinction between naturally occurring sugar and added sugar on the food label. The new label will require added sugars to be quantified.
- Updated serving sizes. Many eaters don't know the difference between portion size and serving size. Often the serving size listed is a gross underestimate of the actual portion you eat. The new label will not only provided more realistic serving sizes, but will provide separate data for calories per serving and calories per package.
A new report provides some depressing news about obesity rates in America. According to a national survey published in the February 26 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) the prevalence of obesity remains high, with with about one-third of adults and 17 percent of children and teens obese in 2011-2012. The trend persists despite numerous public awareness programs and educational efforts designed to improve the nation's eating habits.
Are Healthy Eating Campaigns Working?
The new data begs the question: are the educational campaigns worth it? So I'm posing the issue to my readers because most of you are fairly savvy about weight loss trends. There have been public media campaigns in recent years to promote an increased intake of fruits and vegetables, to educate consumers about the dangers of added sugars and to increase an understanding of the Nutrition Facts Label. Have any of these messages changed the way that you eat? Have you learned new information from any of the campaigns that has led you to make different food choices? Do the campaigns matter?
A Tuned Out Nation
Weight loss is my business so I notice the campaigns. But the pessimist in me wonders if our diet-obsessed culture has become immune to all messages about "eating right" simply because we are overwhelmed. Maybe we've just tuned out. Perhaps the media is over-flooded to the point where all healthy weight loss messages and trendy diet fads get systematically ignored as part of one giant collective nuisance?
(photo source: Jessica Miller/Getty Images)