This Woman Dropped 175 Lbs. and Gained Confidence Along the Way: 'I'm a Completely Different Person'

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This article originally appeared on People.com.

After being overweight for her entire life, Jessica Beniquez had some bad habits to break to lose 175 lbs.

“I was a very picky eater. I didn’t stick a vegetable in my mouth. I ate fast food every day, and would pretty much only eat chicken nuggets, pasta and fries,” the 21-year-old tells PEOPLE. And her lifestyle had turned sedentary, despite having played sports in high school. “I laid in bed watching series after series on Netflix. All I did was eat, go to work and watch my shows.”

At over 320 lbs., her weight took a toll on her body. “I didn’t feel comfortable,” says the Spring Hill, Florida resident. “Getting out of bed was hard. I felt miserable. I knew I needed to lose weight because I had high blood pressure, but it took me over a year to realize how dangerous that is — and to do something about it.”

At the end of February 2016, Beniquez finally committed to her health.

“I was about to start a whole other series on Netflix, and I was like, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore.’ I didn’t want to sit in bed and do nothing. I felt so lazy. I didn’t even hang out with my friends.”

She added: “At the moment I [decided] to do it, I ordered Herbalife shakes that day. If I didn’t, I honestly don’t think I’d be where I am right now. I got the shakes and never looked back.”

Beniquez was “strict” about sticking to her new diet.  “I was consuming about 1200-1500 calories per day,” she says. After three months of having two shakes a day and one meal with some snacks in between, and an additional five months of consuming one shake a day and two meals with snacks, she eventually “quit the [Herbalife] shakes all together” in October 2016.

Her go-to foods included lunch meats, carrots and hummus, yogurt, cottage cheese and grilled chicken salads. And two months ago, she started drinking a different kind of protein shake, adding fruit, oatmeal or a flaxseed, for breakfast.  “I opened my tastebuds up to new things,” she says.

From the beginning of her weight loss journey, Beniquez also became active.

“The day after I ordered the shakes I was walking. I walked a mile and a half to two miles a night,” she then joined a gym a month later, which was not an easy thing for her to do.

“I procrastinated because I was nervous what to do in the gym. I didn’t want people to look at me. It’s embarrassing when you’re young and really big. Walking through a gym, you see a lot of fit people and I was super intimated by that,” says Beniquez, who started by working with a trainer and doing exercises she saw on YouTube. “But once I got the gym membership I exercised every single day for an hour, then eventually it turned into an hour and a half, and now I’m at two hours maybe more.”

And she got plenty of support along the way. “People would come up to me at the gym and say, ‘Wow, congratulations — you’ve come such a long way,’ ” says Beniquez, who now works at the front desk at the gym and hopes to become a certified trainer.

Documenting her journey on social media was also a big help. “It kept me accountable when people would be like, ‘You can do it,’ ” says Beniquez who boasts 186,000 followers on Instagram and hopes to inspire others. “I wanted to show them that I could do it, and they can, too.”

It took 19 months to get down to 145 lbs., and Beniquez hopes to lose a little more weight and eventually have skin removal surgery. For now, though, she couldn’t be happier with her new lifestyle.

“I never expected to be where I am today. I was shy, but now I have so much more confidence, I have so much more energy,” says Beniquez. “Before it took me 20 minutes to walk a mile and now I can run 5 miles in under 50 minutes…It’s crazy the things I can do now that I couldn’t do before.”

Source: New feed

I Eat the Same Healthy Breakfast and Lunch Every Day—and Maybe You Should Too

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I’ll never be someone who loves to cook. All of my cookware comes from Goodwill, and I find the prospect of creating meals in the kitchen more annoying than exciting. Because of this, I’ve attempted to simplify my meal-planning as much as possible. For a while, that meant a lot of packaged foods—like entire meals of tortilla chips and salsa.

Over the past two months however, I’ve developed a routine that is healthy, easy, and delicious. I consume the same exact thing for breakfast and lunch every day. Yes, I can almost see all the foodies weeping at that statement. But let me explain what I eat, and why it works.

RELATED: 35 Quick and Easy Fat-Burning Recipes

Breakfast is a cup of black coffee and a bowl of Kashi Go Lean cereal with soy milk. For lunch, I eat one piece of whole wheat toast with avocado, hemp seed hearts, and tomato slices, topped with a fried egg. Sometimes on the weekends I switch up my lunch for something else, particularly if I’m eating out of over a friend's house. But for the most part, this is what you'll find me fueling up on twice a day.

I’m a freelance writer who works from home. As a freelancer, if I’m not working, then I’m not making money. My time is precious, and since I dislike cooking, having a go-to meal saves me time that I can dedicate to working. I always know how much time I need to spend cooking, eating, and cleaning up every day.

RELATED: 12 Foods You Need to Stop Buying

This means I can plan my days a little easier. It also means I don’t have to worry about scrounging up a meal each day I work from home. There’s no time wasted or temptation to procrastinate by making a more time-intensive dish.

Eating the same thing during the workday also means that I can control my budget and my nutrition. When I do my grocery shopping, I know that I need eggs, soy milk, cereal, avocados, tomatoes, bread, and hemp seeds. I can account for that in my spending and keep myself on budget. By keeping these foods on hand, I also cut down on the temptation to eat out. I know I can whip up a healthy and delicious meal quickly, and I save the cash I might otherwise spend on eating out. 

I'm someone who can easily overeat or spend time snacking; I tend to be a grazer. But my meal routine lets me meet my caloric and nutritional needs while keeping me satiated until dinner. I know that I’m getting protein from the cereal and eggs, vitamin C and K from the tomato, omega-3’s from the hemp seeds, and fiber from the whole wheat bread. No matter what I eat for dinner, I’ve introduced these vitamins and nutrients into my diet through breakfast and lunch.

It's not just what I eat every day that helps me stay healthy—having a set time to sit down for a food break keeps my metabolism steady. I eat breakfast around 9 a.m. each day; lunch happens four hours later. By the time 1 p.m. rolls around,  I’m genuinely hungry for lunch, which in turn keeps me full until I eat dinner between 6-8 p.m.

RELATED: 20 Reasons Your Stomach Hurts

However, I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist. So I asked someone with a health background if it was okay to eat the same two meals every day, and why this meal-planning has worked so well for me.

Stacey Mattinson, a registered dietitian in Austin, Texas, told me that the basis of my meal plan is fine, but variety never hurts. “Nutritionally speaking, we always recommend variety,” says Mattinson. "Different foods offer different nutrition profiles. Leafy greens offer vitamin K while red or orange foods are high in beta-carotene.”

She clarified further. “Is it wrong or hurtful to eat the same thing? No, I wouldn’t say that it’s detrimental, particularly because you’re eating a different dinner and have some variety on the weekends. If you have a different source of protein for dinner—like beans or tofu—keeping the base of your breakfast and lunch the same is not a problem. You can certainly increase your nutritional quality with variety, but there’s no problem with keeping the base the same.”

She recommended adding a few different types of fruit to my breakfast for variety, or switching the vegetables I put on my toast at lunch for an extra nutritional punch. I'm open to the idea of switching in other vegetables like spinach to my egg and toast, or having a banana with my cereal. But since I don't feel the itch to change things up, I'm sticking to what works, for now.

Source: New feed

This Rare but Deadly Complication of Liposuction Almost Killed a Woman. Here's What Doctors Want You to Know

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Liposuction is big business: A recent study found that it was 2016’s second most popular type of plastic surgery in the United States (after breast augmentation), with an average cost per procedure of $3,200. Overall, about 235,000 fat-sucking operations were performed last year.

And while the procedure is generally safe, a new article in BMJ Case Reports highlights a complication that nearly cost one 45-year-old woman her life. The paper details doctors’ experience diagnosing and treating a patient who developed a rare but serious condition called fat embolization syndrome shortly after a routine nip and tuck.

RELATED: 5 Questions to Ask Before You Have Cosmetic Surgery

Fat embolization occurs when globules of fat break free from surrounding tissue and travel through the body, becoming lodged in blood vessels or the lungs and blocking the flow of blood or oxygen. It’s common after bone fractures or major trauma, but it has also been documented—at least two other times in medical literature—after liposuction.

Unfortunately, the doctors wrote in their report, the condition is “notoriously difficult to diagnose,” and many plastic surgeons don’t know that they should be on the lookout for symptoms.

In their paper, the doctors recall the case of an obese British woman who had undergone lower leg and knee liposuction two days earlier at a local hospital. “The surgery had been planned to remove some of the bulk of her lower legs to help her mobilize and subsequently begin the weight loss process,” they wrote.

The procedure itself was uneventful, and about 10 liters of fat were removed from the woman’s lower body. About 36 hours after the operation, however, the woman became drowsy and confused, and doctors noticed her heart rate was unusually high.

RELATED: 5-Minute Fat Burners

The woman’s condition worsened, and she was transferred to the intensive care unit, where doctors determined she had dangerously low oxygen levels in her body. After further tests, doctors realized that her symptoms were caused by fat embolization.

Once a diagnosis was made, the woman was treated with oxygen and drugs to help restore her oxygen levels, heart rate, and breathing to normal. She recovered fully and was released from the hospital after two weeks. But if not for her doctors’ quick thinking, things could have been much worse.

Fat embolization is not only hard to recognize, say the report’s authors, but there is no standardized set of criteria to help physicians make an official diagnosis. Although liposuction is not usually considered a high-risk procedure, people who are morbidly obese, who have fluid retention, or who have large volumes of fat removed are more likely to suffer from complications, they say.

RELATED: 11 Celebrities Get Real About Plastic Surgery

Anyone considering liposuction or any other type of cosmetic surgery should talk with their doctor about the potential benefits and risks; it’s also important to interview surgeons carefully and choose one who’s certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Make sure he or she operates in an accredited hospital or medical facility. Don’t fall for non-licensed “pros” who tout cosmetic surgery on social media.

If you do choose to go under the knife, following your surgeon’s post-op instructions can help reduce your risk of dangerous complications. But as with any medical procedure, always speak up if something doesn’t feel right.

Source: New feed

This Woman Hit the Beach with Loose Skin After Losing 350 Pounds. Here's Her Message to the Haters

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Blogger Jacqueline Adan used to weigh 500 pounds. She avoided bathing suits at all costs and wouldn’t dream of wearing one in public without a cover-up. So when she dropped 350 pounds by exercising and eating clean, she finally felt ready to step into a swimsuit again.

The only problem? Obnoxious onlookers who snickered at her loose skin, a common side effect of dramatic weight loss.

“I was nervous to take my cover up off and to walk into the pool or walk on the beach,” Adan wrote in the caption of a photo she posted on Instagram this week. In the picture, she's wearing nothing but a wetsuit and a big smile while vacationing in Mexico. Even after undergoing skin removal surgeries, Adan still has excess skin on her body.

In the photo, Adan looks elated. But "I still felt like that same 500 pound girl,” she continued in her post. “Then it happened. A couple sitting by the pool started laughing and pointing at me and making fun of me as soon as I took my cover up off.”

The body positive icon, who has 47K Instagram followers, could have let their obnoxious reaction ruin her day. Instead, she took a deep breath, smiled, and made her way into the pool.

RELATED: Here's How 15 Real Women Lost 150+ Pounds

“That was a huge moment for me,” she wrote. “I had changed. I was not the same girl anymore.” While she confessed that the teasing bothered her, the experience showed her how far she’d come not only physically but also emotionally.

“I am not going to let what other people think of me stop me from living my life,” she vowed in her post. “They do not know me. They do not know how I have worked my ass off to lose 350 pounds. They do not know how I am recovering from major surgeries. They have no right to sit and point and laugh at me.”

So Adan unapologetically rocked her wetsuit and went on enjoying her vacation. “What matters is how you react to it,” she said. “How you feel about yourself. Loving yourself just the way you are is hard. Others might not like that. That's ok. I hope you love yourself. Love your body. I hope you keep doing you and just keep smiling!”

Source: Health bests

Chrissy Metz Wishes People Would Stop Asking If She's Getting Weight-Loss Surgery: 'I'm Good'

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This article originally appeared on People.com.

Dear Dr. Google: Chrissy Metz does not need your opinion on her weight.

The This Is Us star says that the one question she wishes people would stop asking her is if she’s going to get weight loss surgery.

“Some people do feel like they’re my doctors, and they have tried to diagnose me on the internets,” Metz tells Today. “So that’s … that’s weird. Cause like, I’m good. I’m good, boo. But thanks. But I’m good [laughs].”

Metz, who plays Kate Pearson, a woman struggling with her size, on the hit show, recently explained that she is contractually obligated to lose weight for the role, but she doesn’t have a goal she has to hit.

And Metz is happier with her body than Pearson. The actress says her favorite body part is her calves.“People are like, ‘Enough. Don’t do anymore calf raises.’ But I don’t!” she says. “But I’ve come to love them and realize, like, they carry my body around. And I could probably kick some ass.”

Metz’s confident attitude extends to clothing, and she says her style heroes “are anyone who wears what they want to wear, when they want to wear it, to where they want to wear it to.”

Metz also talked to Today about her favorite emoji (all of the hearts) and her favorite purchase of late (Josie Maran's Argan Oil).

“You can use it for your legs and all your skin parts,” she explains. “And it’s delicious.”

Source: Health bests

Part-Time Dieting Might Be the Trick to Losing Weight Successfully

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One of the first rules of dieting is that to lose weight, you have to burn off more calories than you take in. But cut back on calorie intake too much or for too long, and the body responds by going into energy-conservation mode—slowing down the rate at which those calories burn, which can counteract those good intentions.

Now, Australian researchers say they may have a way to make dieting more efficient and to keep the body’s metabolism humming along at its normal clip—which means more pounds lost (and kept off) in the long run. The secret, they say, is taking a break from dieting every few weeks.

RELATED: Counting Macros: How to Calculate the IIFYM Diet for Weight Loss

In their new study, published in the International Journal for Obesity, researchers from the University of Tasmania found that obese men who dieted continuously for 16 weeks lost less weight overall—20 pounds versus 31—than those whose diets followed a 2-weeks-on/2-weeks-off cycle for 30 weeks. The continuous dieters also lost less body fat than those in the intermittent group.

The intermittent dieters kept more of their weight off for the long-term, too. Six months after their diets had ended, the on-and-off group had maintained the most total weight loss since the start of the study—about 24 pounds versus only about 7.

So why did the on-again, off-again diet work so much better? The researchers think it has to do with something called adaptive thermogenesis—a process by which a person’s resting metabolism decreases when calorie intake is slashed. It’s a survival mechanism that’s helped humans stay alive during lean times (it’s sometimes called the “famine reaction”). But when an overweight person tries to lose weight, it can also work against them.

By limiting periods of calorie restriction to two weeks at a time, the authors believe they kept the famine reaction at bay—which allowed the study participants to burn more calories during those dieting periods.

RELATED: Best Snacks for Weight Loss

To conduct the study, the researchers provided meals during the study period. Overall, each group was assigned to 16 weeks of dieting, during which the men reduced their daily weight-maintenance calorie requirements by 33%. (On average, participants ate about 900 to 1,000 fewer calories per day during diet weeks.)

But while men in the continuous diet group stuck with their plan for 16 weeks straight, those in the intermittent group cycled on and off their diet every two weeks. During their off weeks, they ate their full caloric requirement—the number of calories required for weight to stay the same day-to-day, based on resting metabolic rate and self-reported physical activity levels.

Because of that, weight loss (or gain) during those off weeks was minimal. “Therefore, the greater weight loss in the [intermittent] group can be attributed to a higher rate of weight loss during the 8 x 2-week [energy-restriction] blocks, and not simply continual eight loss over a longer (30-week) intervention period,” the authors wrote in their paper.

Before you try the two-weeks on, two-weeks off diet strategy, though, know this: The authors were quick to point out that strict calorie-counting was also important during the non-diet weeks. Participants didn’t just eat whatever they wanted; they ate only what they needed to maintain a stable weight.

And that may be why the back-and-forth approach worked so well in this study, the authors say. In real life, taking a break from dieting could lead to an abnormally large appetite and overeating, “which may compromise weight loss,” they wrote.

They also point out that intermittent-fasting diets—programs that alternate no-holds-barred eating with several days very little or no food at all—don’t seem to work any better than continuous, steady dieting. “As such, incorporating periods of controlled energy balance, not simply variations in energy intake, may be necessary to realize the beneficial effects” of on-again, off-again dieting, they wrote.

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The study was small (32 participants completed it), and it could not determine whether two weeks on, two weeks off is an optimal pattern—just that it worked better than continuous calorie-cutting. And because the study only included men, it's unclear whether the same would be true for women. More studies are needed, the authors say, to see if this plan would still be effective outside of a tightly controlled lab setting.

Still, the authors concluded, their findings provide preliminary support for an on-and-off calorie restriction, and suggest that it may be a “superior alternative” to continuous diet plans.

Source: Health bests

Can a Meal Kit Service Help You Lose Weight? Here's What a Nutritionist Really Thinks

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There are more than 100 meal kit options on the market, including Blue Apron, Green Chef, HelloFresh, and Plated, just to name a few. Some of my clients who are looking to shed pounds have asked a key question—can a meal plan help me lose weight?

The reality is that these kits are generally designed to make it easier to cook at home, not slim down. You order the meals online, and the recipes and the correct amount of each ingredient are delivered to your door.

Meal kits aren't standardized, can vary widely, and do not guarantee weight loss. But they may help. Here’s my take on the trend. 

RELATED: 16 Ways to Lose Weight Fast

Ingredients are important

When it comes to losing weight­, ingredient quality, macronutrient balance, and portions are all key, and that’s where meal kits may fall short. A lot of kits include recipes calling for refined carbs, like white pasta or noodles, white rice, and white-flour pizza crust, bread, burger buns, and tortillas. And in some recipes, a surplus of refined carbs is combined with a heavy sauce, and scant amount of vegetables and protein—not the ideal meal balance for shrinking your shape.   

Portion sizes can be a problem

Another snag I’ve run into with my clients is portion control. Many kits include recipes that serve a minimum of two people. The people I counsel have sometimes made the entire recipe, with the intention of bringing the second portion to work the next day, only to wind up eating both portions in a single sitting.   

You need the time to cook

Meal kits also require the time needed for cooking. Yes, the recipe is picked out, and you don’t need to shop for the ingredients, but will you actually make it? I’ve had clients forgo kits in favor of something faster (and less healthy) because they were either too tired or too busy to prepare the meal. If this sounds like you, meal kits probably aren’t your best bet.       

You need to choose the right meal plan

But, is there a work-around if you really like the idea of having ingredients delivered to your door and you’re looking to slim down? Sure. First, review all of your options and choose a service with the best selection of recipes for your goal. Aim for dishes that include larger portions of veggies, a lean protein source (seafood, poultry, lentils, or beans), and a smaller portion of healthy carbs, such as a whole grain, like brown rice or quinoa, or a starchy vegetable such as fingerling potatoes.

You can alter the recipe to fit your needs

And remember, there’s no rule that you have to use all of the ingredients. For example, if a salmon burger recipe includes a bun, you can ditch it, wrap your burger in a romaine lettuce leaf, and add a healthier starch instead, like a small baked yam. Or, make half of the rice portion in a kit and mix in a generous portion of shredded zucchini or chopped spinach.    

RELATED: 57 Ways to Lose Weight Forever, According to Science

Cooking at home does offer you more control over what you eat and how it’s prepared, and that’s an important strategy for sustainable weight loss. If meal kits offer you a cooking shortcut, just remember that you have the option of tweaking them. And about that second portion. If you have a tough time not dipping in, try this tip. Before you even plate your meal or begin eating, place the second half in a sealable container and stash it inside your lunch sack in the fridge. The more steps you have to go through to get to it the less likely you are to eat it. Bonus: you save money by actually getting two meals out of the deal, and you can put that savings towards a non-food treat, like a massage.

Bottom line: meal kits can be a helpful tool, but they aren’t a complete weight loss solution. To see real and lasting results you have to find ways to make them work for you.    

Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets

Source: Health bests