This Woman Lost 77 Lbs. in a Year By Cooking With an Instant Pot Every Night

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This article originally appeared on People.com.

An Instant Pot was this woman’s one way ticket to weight loss.

At the start of this year, weighing 212 lbs., Brittany Williams decided to take control of her health by challenging herself to make dinner every night, she tells PEOPLE. The mom of three got her husband involved by having him agree to not bring takeout home for the duration of the year, and instead she decided to bust out the Instant Pot that had been lying around her house mostly untouched. She’s now down 77 lbs. since January 3 and 125 lbs. in total.

“I’ve had the Instant Pot for four years but I didn’t use it much and when I did it was for comfort foods like mac and cheese, ribs and cheesecake,” Williams, 27, says. “Starting in January I began using the Instant Pot every day—sometimes several times a day, five to six nights a week for dinner and several mornings for breakfast. I even use it to warm leftovers instead of my microwave.”

The blogger behind Instant Loss says the trendy, easy-to-use appliance that works as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, and rice cooker has made “making healthy food convenient and allowed me to succeed where I’ve failed many times before.”

Dropping the weight wasn’t all thanks to the push of a button though. Williams overhauled her diet to mirror something similar to paleo, avoiding most grains, dairy and sugar. “It’s simple. If it comes from the earth and is unprocessed, I eat it,” she writes on her blog. She loads up on vegetables and limits her fruit to avoid natural occurring sugars. 

“Eggs, meat, alternative flours (coconut, almond, and cassava), oils (coconut, avocado, and olive), nuts, seeds, and dark chocolate are some other examples of what I eat,” she says.

Williams is constantly sharing Instant Pot recipes—like dairy-free creamed corn and chickpea tacos—that not only adhere to her diet but most importantly, save time.

“There are nights I don’t start cooking dinner till 6pm because I lose track of time or we don’t get home till late, nights that I used to pull out of a frozen pizza or have my husband grab dinner on his way home from work,” she writes. “My Instant Pot has eliminated those nights. I can throw a few things in the pot and have dinner on the table in under a half hour.”

Source: Health bests

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Do These 5 Things Right Now for a Healthier Holiday Season

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I’ll only have one small glass of wine at the office holiday party. I’ll still make it to the gym three days a week. I won’t leave gift shopping until the last minute and stress myself out. These are promises plenty of us make to ourselves as the holiday season gets into full swing. And they’re promises most of us will break.

That's because it's easy for healthy intentions to go MIA when a coworker pulls together a last-minute happy hour plan, or you made yourself a way-too-long gift shopping list, or you took on another holiday-related responsibility that's throwing you off your game. 'Tis the season for excess, we know, but striving for balance and maintaining your usual healthy habits during December will also help you avoid starting the new year with a #dietstartstomorrow mentality.

To help you survive the month with your mind and body strong and begin 2018 on the right foot, we rounded up five simple things you can do right now

RELATED: 5 Ways to Ease Holiday Stress in 5 Minutes or Less

Buy a pack of gym classes

Dropping some cash ahead of time for a 10-pack of classes or one-month class pass at your favorite fitness studio may be pricey. But knowing that they're already paid for will motivate you to keep up your sweat sessions all season long—because not even a holiday cookie swap can convince you to throw money out the window. Buy them now, and you'll have a few left over to use during the first week of January, so you're inspired to follow through on your New Year's fitness resolution as well.

Get cooking

Chances are you’ll catch up with friends over drinks or brunch this month. Instead of chatting over high-calorie eggs Benedict or cocktails, connect in a setting where healthy food is the focus—like a cooking class. Book a vegetarian class for you and your girlfriend ahead of time, or make a Sunday meal prep date now, so you’ll have nutritious meal options on hand when the holidays close in. Having good-for-you eats already prepped will help make last-minute holiday cookie dough binges less likely.

RELATED: 5 Healthy Baking Swaps You Need to Try

Slim down your holiday dinner

Heading to a festive potluck? Do a little research to find recipes similar to yours that use lower-fat ingredients, Wendy Bazilian, RD, nutritionist and co-author of Eat Clean, Stay Lean, suggested in a prior interview with Health. “Even better, find a version that incorporates some healthy foods that simultaneously bump up the nutrition while reducing extra calories, sugars, or fat.”

A few swap ideas we love: If you’re tasked with bringing dip to a party, substitute protein-rich Greek yogurt for sour cream. Or cook up whipped cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. Hey, every bit counts.

WATCH THE VIDEO: A 5-Minute Meditation to Help You Find Your Calm Now 

Subscribe to a self-care box

Treat yourself to a subscription box today that will make staying healthy through the holiday season so much easier. Sign on with a meal kit delivery service so you already know you have good-for-you meals covered, or subscribe to a beauty box ($30 for 3 months, birchbox.com) that will tame your stressed-out skin during party season. Being proactive will automatically make you feel like you’re starting December on a high note. Plus, who wants to make a last-minute drugstore run for sparkly eye shadow on New Year's Eve?

Download a meditation app

The holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the most hectic, when your usual routine falls by the wayside and family and friends you've avoided all year long come back into your life. Not surprisingly, your mental health can take a hit. To stress less this December, download one of these apps that take you through guided meditations and mindfulness exercises. We have a feeling they’ll come in handy after your family talks politics at the dinner table.

Source: Health bests

The One Thing Sabotaging Your Weight-Loss Goals

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When certified nutrition specialist and personal trainer Jay Nixon meets with new clients for the first time, he typically hears the same opening line: “I’ve tried everything to lose weight, but I always gain it back.” And in almost every case, the reason is the same, he says: “They didn’t change anything psychologically."

In his recent book The Overweight Mind, Nixon argues that only about 20% of weight-loss success is mechanical—or what you eat, and how often (and intensely) you exercise. The rest, he believes, is mental: “Getting a handle on [your] mindset is what leads to long-lasting results."

Psychological change might actually feel more daunting than adding an extra serving of veggies to your plate. But Nixon promises it’s easier than you think. In fact, it can be as simple as changing your vocabulary.

There are three short words he wishes everyone would ban when it comes to exercise and diet: can’t, won’t, and don’t. “Those words wrap around everything having to do with people's physical condition, to the point that they don’t even realize they’re saying [them] anymore,” he says. “They don’t have awareness around how often they use these words.”

Using them less often, he says, can have a direct impact on your fitness and weight-loss success. Here, a few examples of how you can flip the script on all that negative talk.

RELATED: How to Trick Your Brain Into Eating Less, According to an Expert in 'Gastrophysics'

"I don't like vegetables"

Nixon has found that in the context of food and fitness, people often say “don’t” because of a negative past experience. For example, if someone says he doesn't like vegetables, it could be because eating kale once made him feel sick. Or if someone says she doesn't run, it may be because she once suffered an injury from running.

When his clients use the word "don't," he reminds them that “old experience doesn’t need to dictate current behavior." Then he helps them take small steps to turn those don'ts into dos. For example, he might encourage the non-runner to simply move as quickly as she can. Odds are, after a few weeks, she'll have naturally picked up the pace.

"I can't do 10 push-ups"

“I get clients to reframe that sentence,” Nixon says. Instead of declaring you can’t do 10 push-ups, remind yourself that you can do 1 push-up. “Every day, reapply it,” he says. So the next day tell yourself, I can do two push-ups, and keep going until you hit your goal.

"I won't wake up early to work out"

People who use “won’t” in a sentence like this have convinced themselves the statement is a fact, says Nixon. But the statement only feels true because of how often the person has repeated it. Again, you need to reframe the thought: Think about what you will try–say, two early mornings a week–and then focus on how to make that behavior stick.

It can help to create a sense of accountability for yourself, Nixon suggests. “I try to get people to form a sort of community,” he explains, whether that means recruiting a workout buddy to meet you at the gym before dawn, or finding a friend on a similar path, who you can share your plans and progress with. Or if prefer to go it alone, start a journal, Nixon suggests. Even writing down what you will do in a journal can keep you honest, he says.

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These reframing tricks will help you stay on track no matter what phrase follows the word "don’t," "can't," or "won’t," Nixon says. No weight-loss journey is perfectly smooth, he points out. “When we hit roadblocks, we always fall back a little bit. But if you’re working on your psychology, you won’t fall as far.”

Source: Health bests

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Why You Really, Seriously Don’t Need to Diet Before Your Wedding

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Whether you've visited the Stone Fox Bride store in New York Citywhich sells a selection of gorgeous gowns, headpieces, and jewelry for brides in search of non-traditional wedding day looksor are one of @stonefoxbride's 123,000 followers on Instagram, chances are you've heard of Molly Guy. In her debut book, Stone Fox Bride: Love, Lust, and Wedding Planning for the Wild at Heart ($45; amazon.com), which hits shelves December 5, the wedding guru gets real about the pressure to shed pounds before the big day, as well as how she (kind of) overcame her own fear of the scale.

Unless you grew up in a cave without fashion magazines, there’s a good chance that at some point in your life, you’ve hated your body and taken unhealthy measures to try to change the way it looks. The truth is, getting married can turn even the most self-confident lady into a shivering, self-loathing mess. Transitions, even exciting ones, are a perfect petri dish for vulnerability. In the weeks before my wedding, I felt about as secure in my appearance as I did when I was a prepubescent sixth grader with blue braces and one boob.

For some hideous reason, modern-day wedding culture dictates that brides are supposed to look one hundred percent perfect walking down the aisle. Like Miss America–perfect: smiley, shiny, taut, tight, gleaming. God forbid there should be a stretch mark, cellulite dimple, split end, chipped tooth, or cracked cuticle in sight. No wonder so many brides obsess over fad diets.

I’ll admit that I’ve bought into much of this stuff at one point or another.

Blame it on the nineties. I came of age in an insane era when Kate Moss was queen. Homeless and on heroin was the look; drowsy, lead-lidded girls with lank hair and gold hoops in their tits who didn't eat, didn't cry, didn't care. For a good twenty years I struggled with food issues: laxatives, bingeing, purging, the works. So sad. In college I had a "nutritionist" who sold me pyramid schemes of vitamins and delivered deadpan lectures on the high glycemic index of a carrot. Beneath her firm tutelage, I’d record my daily meals in a Moleskine: tiny kale salads, one hundred calories of hard cheese, a single slice of Ezekiel bread. Then I’d have a "cheat day" where I’d pig out on Pringles and pizza. My body image insanity died down around the time I met [my now-husband], but reared up in the weeks leading up to my wedding. I couldn't get over the fact that everyone was going to be looking at me. I thought I should be on some crazy crash diet, but I wasn't, which stressed me out even more. I guess I was just feeling insecure and vulnerable, trying to control some aspect of the madness.

These days my compulsion to maintain a certain weight is much less crazy than it used to be. Don’t get me wrong, it still flares up every now and then, but way less than before. Sorry to get so Oprah, but the body stuff is a lifelong journey. It comes and goes. Even today, if someone tells me, "You look really healthy," I’ll be thinking, You mean fat? Try not to use the pressure of your impending marriage as an excuse to emotionally whip yourself. If the mean wedding demon happens to pay you a visit, give him a friendly hello, then tell him to f— off.

Feel Foxy, Not Hungry

Eat, for Fox Sake: Diets beget anxiety; anxiety begets bad vibes. Trust me, you don’t have to lose weight for your wedding. Do you really want your partner committing to a skinny, withered, unrecognizable version of you? No. Most likely he fell in love and knew he wanted to spend his life with you on some random afternoon when you two were lying naked in bed after really good sex, happy and laughing and probably kind of awkward. Your hair was sticking up, your cheeks were flushed, and you were at your most radiant and comfortable and peaceful. You might have even had a little piece of food stuck in your teeth. Bottom line: You want to look like yourself.

Good Shape/Bad Shape: Watch it with the fitness class packs that take place in an air-conditioned room with an instructor on a Bluetooth screaming at you to speed it up. They will most likely turn you into a fidgety, high-stress mess. Better to do something you love in moderation to get in shape: taking long walks, dance classes, bike rides, yoga. Exercising while wearing pajamas in your living room along to Jane Fonda or Richard Simmons is also hilarious.

Save Face: I subscribe to the "less is more" philosophy when it comes to most things, makeup included. My wedding beauty regimen was fairly low-maintenance—although I did get my roots done, eyelash extensions, and—truth be told—a spray tan. Looking back at the pics I DEFINITELY could have done without the tan. Whatever you decide, do your damnedest not to overdo it.

Sweet Dreams: I know you’ve heard it before, but getting at least eight hours of sleep a night will do wonders for your skin, vibe, and peace of mind. If you tend toward late nights and/or insomnia, I recommend turning off all devices by eight p.m., taking a warm bath with Epsom salts, and getting into bed with nothing more than a book by ten. The more you sleep, the better you feel. The better you feel, the better you look.

Rise and Shine: The morning of your wedding, try to stay away from multiple cups of coffee and sugary white flour things that’ll spike your blood sugar. I’m a fan of soft-boiled eggs, oatmeal, berries, tea, and whole-grain toast with almond butter. Take a minute or two to sit silently and gather your thoughts if you can. Beyond the drama, adrenaline, and nerves is the amazing blessing of having found your person. Try to let that sink in on some level.

Buy the book: $45; amazon.com

 

Excerpted from Stone Fox Bride by Molly Rosen Guy. Copyright © 2017 by Molly Rosen Guy. Excerpted by arrangement with Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Source: Health bests

How This Woman Has Maintained Her 125 Lbs. Weight Loss for Over 7 Years

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This article originally appeared on People.com.

Samantha Call’s weight loss journey began as the result of a tragic loss.

Call – who said she was “always the big girl” growing up and reached 265 lbs. by her senior year of high school – lost her father to heart disease in 2008. Her dad, who had struggled with obesity, was just 48-years-old.

“I’ll never forget sitting with my [12-year-old] brother after my dad had passed, when he told me ‘Samantha, I don’t want you to die like daddy did,’ Call, now 33, told PEOPLE.  “That broke my heart but gave me the drive that I needed to start my journey.”

First, the Callis, Maine resident consulted with her doctor. “My blood pressure was through the roof,” says Call. “I had wanted to get gastric bypass [surgery] because I felt like I had failed so many times on diets. I couldn’t stick with it. But, my doctor pushed me to lose the weight for myself and on my own. It lit a fire under me.”

In early 2009, Call found success with Atkins. And after a year and a half got down to 132 lbs. Call has maintained her weight loss for about seven years.

“I’ve always been someone who loved bacon and loved eggs, that was easy to me,” Call said of her new low carb program. “How many diets can you do that you get to eat bacon and eggs every morning?”

She also learned to love lean meats and vegetables, and now enjoys making her own healthy meals. “My fiancé is very supportive with what I cook us for dinner,” she says. “He’s always been a physically fit guy so it helps. He’s a huge support.”

While losing weight, Call gradually added in exercise, and now works out for an hour in the morning before work. “It’s part of my daily routine,” says Call, who switches between fitness DVDs, a Pilates ball and at-home gym equipment.  She even ran a half-marathon two years ago, and hopes to do more in the future.

Still on Atkins, she also allows herself a cheat day once a week, but doesn’t go overboard. “I have my mind fixated on one thing that I’m going to have,” she says. For example, instead of the three large plates of fried, carb-heavy food she used to get a Chinese buffet, Call now has a small plate and maybe half an egg roll. “It’s all about portion control.”

Another big change? Her confidence. Call, who was married once before, felt uncomfortable wearing her wedding dress at her previous size.

“I look at those photos and it was unflattering,” she says. “I’m excited for the fact that I’ll be able to pick out a beautiful dress and feel good about myself because I was very self-conscious about myself the first time around. I’m happy that I’ll look and feel good.”

Source: Health bests

How to Actually Stay Healthy This Month—Without Depriving Yourself

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No one expects you to choose kale juice over cocktails at the holiday party. And happily, you can enjoy the occasional treat without sabotaging your goals, says Lisa Powell, RDN, director of nutrition at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona: "The key is a plan that’s flexible." Stay on track through New Year’s with these tips.

1. Keep a planner. “Map out your holiday activities in advance,” says nutritionist Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, so you can decide when you want to indulge.

2. Reframe expectations. Accept that you won’t be able to work out every day this month and commit to a schedule that’s as realistic as possible.

3. Power down early. “You’ll be amazed at how a full night’s rest can help you stick to your health routine all week,” says Rachel Begun, RDN.

4. Brown-bag it. Pack last night’s leftovers for lunch today. “That way you won’t fall victim to extra calories in an ordinary workday restaurant meal,” says Bazilian.

5. Squeeze in a workout. Do one minute of jumping jacks, three minutes of sit-ups, and one minute of pushups, then repeat, says SoulCycle senior master instructor Stacey Griffith.

6. Barre > bar. “Meeting friends for drinks? Make it a sweat party instead,” says celebrity trainer Kira Stokes. Sign your squad up for a fitness class.

7. Beat the buffet. “Humans are wired to eat what’s available,” says Powell. Fill most of your plate with colorful veggies, add a serving of protein, and enjoy the food in another room to avoid grazing.

8. Plank it out. When wrapping gifts, do a one-minute plank between boxes, suggests Stokes. All exercise counts!

9. Cut yourself a break. If you have zero time for fitness, don’t fret. Missing one workout won’t change your body, says Funtensity founder Jonathan Ross.

10. #SundayMealPrep. Roast chopped veggies tossed with seasoning and olive oil at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. “They can be reheated for three to four days,” says Powell.

11. Have water at dinner. Cut out wine for a week and you can shave off 500 to 1,000 calories, says exercise physiologist Jim White, RD.

12. Sweet swap. Observing Hanukkah? Make your latkes with sweet potatoes instead of white spuds for an extra dose of fiber and antioxidants.

13. Climb. Run stairs for five minutes.

14. Count your steps. Don’t have a fancy gadget? You can download a free app like Pacer. Monitoring your daily activity helps keep you accountable.

15. Permission to sip. It’s Friday! Enjoy a glass of your favorite red. It’ll only set you back about 125 calories, and you’ll get a hit of the antioxidant resveratrol.

16. Nosh responsibly. At a cocktail party? Choose shrimp cocktail or stuffed mushrooms, says Bazilian. “Both picks are nourishing and tasty—and for relatively few calories.”

17. Get out. “Exercise shouldn’t feel like drudgery or just be a certain number of reps at the gym,” says Ross. Choose an enlivening activity that can be done in fresh air, like ice skating.

18. Souper Monday. Cook a big batch of soup, like butternut squash or carrot puree, says Powell. Freeze individual servings, then reheat later and add fun toppings.

19. Book a sweat session. Sign up for a nonrefundable class and invite a friend along. “You won’t let down someone you care about. It’s double motivation,” says Griffith.

20. 1-Minute Wednesday. Stokes’s favorite 60-second workout: 20 seconds of squats, 20 seconds of burpees, 20 seconds of mountain climbers. Done.

21. Chill out. Give yourself a break today and recharge for the weekend ahead.

22. Travel smarter. Headed out of town? Pack high-protein snacks so you’re not stuck with airport food.

23. Get fit in the kitchen. Turn the countertop into a barre: With feet parallel, ears over shoulders, and a slight tuck to the tailbone, bend knees to create tension in your thighs. Pulse for 30 seconds.

24. Find your center. Before the festivities begin, try this breathing exercise: Inhale for 10 seconds, hold for 10, and exhale for 10; pause, then repeat.

25. Forget your rules. If you celebrate Christmas, let yourself enjoy it without an ounce of guilt. One day won’t affect your waistline, says Ross.

26. #LegDay. Do 10 chair squats, lowering your butt onto a seat and then driving up through your heels. Sitting and standing fires up your glutes, says Stokes.

27. Take a day off. You’ve earned a rest. Soak it up with some well-deserved self-care. DIY mani-pedis, anyone?

28. Get cooking. Slim down chili by swapping ground beef for lean turkey.

29. Lunge outside. Do walking lunges down the driveway. You’ll strengthen those stems while getting a mood boost from the sunlight.

30. Get sweaty. Do a full workout. The best part, aside from how you’ll feel afterward? There’s a champagne reward tomorrow.

31. Have fun. Ring in 2018 exactly how you want to. (Your resolutions don’t start until tomorrow!)

Source: Health bests