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

Cinnamon Has a Surprising Health Benefit

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This article originally appeared on Time.com.

If you love cinnamon, add an extra shake to your next meal: new research shows that the popular spice boosts metabolism in mouse and human fat cells.

In the new study, published in the journal Metabolism, researchers from the University of Michigan tested the effect of cinnamaldehyde—the essential oil that gives cinnamon its flavor—on fat cells taken from mice, as well as fat cells from four humans.

They found that exposure to cinnamon oil triggered both the mouse and the human cells to start burning calories through a process known as thermogenesis. A closer look showed that the oil increased the activity of several genes, enzymes and proteins that are known to enhance fat metabolism.

Fat cells, also called adipocytes, normally store energy in the form of lipids. From an evolutionary standpoint, that stored energy can be used by the body during periods of food shortage, or converted to heat during colder months.

But in a society where food and heat are relatively plentiful, stored energy often has nowhere to go and can contribute to unwanted weight gain. Study author Jun Wu, research assistant professor at the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute, says that consuming cinnamon on a regular basis may be one way to make fat cells burn some of that energy, rather than storing all of it.

The study looked at cinnamon’s effects on adipocytes directly—not on an actual human bodies—so much more research is needed to know if cinnamon has the same effect in real people and what the implications of increased thermogenesis really are. And while cinnamon is considered safe in quantities normally used in food, Wu says it’s still too early to determine an effective dose.

MORE: Why Cinnamon Is Insanely Good For You

Wu says that a sprinkle of cinnamon here or there may not be enough to show immediate, measurable effects on metabolism. However, “we speculate that you don’t have to eat a large amount of cinnamon all at once,” she says. “If you eat it every day, we suspect there will be a cumulative effect, and that over time you will achieve these benefits.”

This isn’t the first study to suggest that cinnamon may have beneficial effects on the body’s metabolic processes. Other research has found that the spice appears to protect mice against obesity and hyperglycemia, and that it’s associated with lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

Wu says that her team’s research is another piece of evidence in cinnamon’s favor. “After this, I would recommend eating a little more than you do already,” she says. “If you already eat a lot of it, carry on—and if it’s not something you use regularly, it’s a great time to start.”

Source: Health bests

Miss Egypt Was Bullied as a Teen for Weighing 220 Lbs.: 'I've Learned How to Love Myself'

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This article originally appeared on People.com.

On Sunday, Miss Egypt Farah Sedky could be crowned Miss Universe — but just a few years ago, she was considered “morbidly obese” at 220 lbs. and getting cruelly bullied by her classmates.

The pageant hopeful and recent college graduate says that the other students at her all-girls high school would constantly taunt her.

“Growing up in an all-girls school wasn’t the easiest. I was brutally bullied and to the point that I was once beaten by one of my peers,” Sedky, 23, tells PEOPLE. “To this day, I still remember her looking down at me on the ground and saying, ‘I’d love to wake up tomorrow and not see you at school, no one will miss you if you’ll be gone forever.’ ”

She hit 220 lbs. by age 15, and her doctor said that she would be diabetic in the next six months if she didn’t change her habits.

“This was the first time that I saw my father cry, which motivated me to lose the weight and begin to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” Sedky says.

At first Sedky, who now lives in Cairo, struggled with eating well, but she was determined to make a change.

“What clicked with me on an emotional level to start my journey was the fact that I knew I wasn’t living up to my full potential,” she says. “Also seeing how sad my father was pushed me to make these changes.”

Sedky learned to cut her portion sizes, limit carbs after 7 p.m. and add lots of lemon to her meals.

“[Lemon] is so important Queen B [Beyoncé] made an entire album about it,” she jokes. “I like yogurt with half a lemon and cinnamon, and lemon with hot water in the morning helps with your digestive system going.”

Along with daily workout classes, Sedky lost almost 80 lbs. and changed her entire outlook.

“I’ve learned how to love myself, which was the hardest thing I had to learn,” she says. “I want to be a role model for little girls, just as I needed to have at their age. I want them to know that nothing is their fault; challenges will pass and they’ll go on with their lives to become successful individuals. They key is to learn to love and accept themselves.”

That self-love and body positivity is what pushed Sedky to compete for Miss Universe. Though she lost weight for her health, she sees the bullying she faced as a result of unrealistic standards of beauty.

“I truly believe it’s time to show women that they should appreciate, accept and love their bodies the way they are,” she says. “It’s about time that we all come together not just for women but also for children, to make sure they grow up in a healthy environment where they won’t feel pressured to focus on fitting in, and fitting a certain perception on beauty. Instead, they will grow to focus on developing their aspirations.”

The Miss Universe pageant will air live on Sunday, Nov. 26 on FOX at 7 p.m. EST.

Source: Health bests

Mama June Keeps Weight Loss Promise as She Maintains Her Figure 7 Months After Dropping 300-Lbs.

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This article originally appeared on People.com.

Mama June: From Not to Hot — and still hot!

Mama June Shannon vowed to “never going back” to being overweight and she appears to have kept her word. The reality star, 38, was spotted in Atlanta, Georgia, on Monday, showing off her trim figure seven months after revealing she dropped 300 lbs. in a drastic body transformation.

For her outing, Shannon was all smiles, dressed in athletic wear with a gray long-sleeve shirt and patterned form-fitting leggings.

Shannon appears to be maintaining her weight — something she previously told PEOPLE she planned on doing with better food decisions, exercise and portion control after going from 460 lbs. to a size 4 following gastric sleeve surgery in 2015.

“I can promise you I’m never going back to that size. I’m happy where I’m at,” she said.

Then in February, viewers watched Shannon’s stunning transformation on WE tv’s Mama June: From Not to Hot as the mother of four spent upwards of $75,000 to have gastric sleeve surgery, breast augmentation and 9 lbs. of skin removal surgery on her “turkey neck,” “bat wings” and stomach.

RELATED GALLERY: From ‘Sketti to Skinny: Mama June’s Eye-Popping Weight Loss Journey in Photos

“It’s kind of crazy. A lot of people don’t recognize who I am until I talk,” Shannon told PEOPLE Now in April. “It’s kind of like I’m in my own disguise. Normally when I walk through the streets, everybody notices me, and now it’s like nobody [does].”

Instead, she’s been flaunting her body with her new wardrobe.

Shannon has shown off her new size 4 figure multiple times, stepping into a red-hot revenge dress, which served as motivation for her to attend ex Mike “Sugar Bear” Thompson’s wedding, and even sporting a fitted one-piece red bathing suit for a Baywatch-inspired photo shoot.

“I don’t consider a tummy tuck or face skin removal ‘plastic surgery.’ I believe it’s something that makes you feel better than you did with the skin hanging,” she previously told PEOPLE. “It’s not like I’m Miss Plastic.”

Source: Health bests

Why You Seriously Don't Need to Worry About All the Calories on Thanksgiving

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During the week leading up to Thanksgiving, it's easy to get wrapped up in healthy side dish recipes, tips for avoiding holiday weight gain, and pre-turkey workouts that make room for an extra slice of pie. But for some people, all that strategizing sucks the joy right out of a day that's supposed to be about celebrating gratitude with loved ones over lots of delicious food.

"I tell people all the time, if you're looking forward to Thanksgiving, or any special occasion dining experience, go all out. Eat what you want. Then get back up on the horse again," says Liz Weinandy, RD, a nutritionist with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. "But for a lot of people, this is easier said than done because they worry one meal makes or breaks everything."

How much does one meal really matter?

One single indulgent meal—even one whole day of high-calorie eating—is "absolutely not going to destroy anyone's metabolism, cause them to gain some tremendous amount of weight, or ruin longer-term goals," says Weinandy. To gain a notable amount of weight, you'd need to continuously consume more calories than your body can burn over the course of several days.

"Let's take a person who consumes 2,000 calories daily and maintains her weight," Weinandy says. "Say she eats 5,000 calories on Thanksgiving. Her body is going to have to store 3,000 extra calories because it can't burn them." But she won't even gain a whole pound. (One pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories.) The amount of weight she'll put on is simply not worth agonizing over, especially at the expense of enjoying the holiday, says Weinandy. Plus, she'll burn all those calories off in the days to come, by returning to her regular eating habits and workout routine.

Craig Primack, MD, an obesity medicine specialist at the Scottsdale Weight Loss Center in Arizona, agrees that one big meal isn't enough to cause a noticeable physical difference or weight fluctuation. Might you feel the effects of a fatty, sugary holiday dinner in other ways? Sure. "You'll probably feel bloated, slightly dehydrated if you're consuming alcoholic beverages, and potentially uncomfortably full," says Dr. Primack. "But people know this going in."

What really matters, says Dr. Primack, is how Thanksgiving influences your behavior in the following days. "It's worth keeping in mind that you're going into a four-day weekend full of leftovers," he says. "And four days of eating off track can definitely have consequences, like weight gain or un-programming all of your great healthy habits. It's about the bigger picture, not the one meal."

RELATED: 9 Ways Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Fitter, and Richer

How to enjoy Thanksgiving to the fullest—and then hit the reset button

"Swapping grandma's famous creamy, buttery mashed potatoes for cauliflower mash sounds like a fantastic idea!" says no one. So instead of making culinary sacrifices this year, try this less restrictive, more balanced approach:

Step one: Make a conscious decision to hit pause on your health-focused ways to actually enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, and then press play again once the night is over. "It might sound totally silly, but you can even say this to yourself out loud, or say it in your head leading up to the holiday," Weinandy says.

In the hours before the main event, eat normally, starting with a high-protein breakfast when you wake up. "I don't like it when people have the mindset of, 'oh, I should hold out for the big dinner later and not eat all day,'" Weinandy says. "In doing that, you're already playing mind games with yourself and putting an unhealthy focus on food and calories."

Throughout your gathering, eat mindfully and savor each bite. Give yourself permission to soak up the moment, the people, the food, the flavors. "If you don't eat mindfully and feel the pleasure of it, you're missing the point," Weinandy says. "And when you eat mindfully, you often times don't even eat nearly as much as you'd expect yourself to."

Later on, use your food coma to your advantage. "My number one piece of advice for getting back on track the next day would be to get a good night's sleep," says Dr. Primack. "A bad night of sleep can increase appetite, make it tougher for you to register when you feel full, and slow your metabolism. And you feel lethargic and less motivated to get up and do some physical activity." So pass out early on Thanksgiving night, to make it easier for you to get back on your healthy A-game on Friday.

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Weinandy also recommends drinking a large glass of water or two when you wake up the next morning to aid digestion, rehydrate your body, and kickstart your metabolism. "And do not skip breakfast the morning after either," she says. "You should never feel like you have to make up for those extra calories by eliminating them at another time."

You may also want to consider preventing a week-long food binge by getting rid of leftovers. "I tell my patients to buy disposable food containers so you can send leftovers home with guests," Dr. Primack says. (Try these leakproof, plastic containers from DuraHome.)

And schedule some of your favorite workouts for the week after Thanksgiving, so you have an exercise game plan in mind and on the calendar, he adds. You'll be back in the saddle in no time.

Source: Health bests

Busy Philipps Just Finished Whole30—Here Are Her Top Tips for the Trendy Diet

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One of the many reasons we love Busy Philipps is her candid and often hilarious Instagram, where she frequently posts about her fitness exploits (remember when she tried to sweat out her post-Oscars hangover in a trampoline class?). So we weren't surprised to see the White Chicks actress recapping the highs and lows of her experience on the Whole30 diet this week.

Philipps announced in a post yesterday that she had successfully stuck to the diet for an entire month, "despite a few days that were rough" when she "really wanted tequila or gummy bears." The Whole30 rules are simple but daunting: 1) Cut out all legumes, dairy, added sugar, baked goods and treats, alcohol, and a few processed food ingredients (MSG, sulfites, and carrageenan) for 30 days. 2) Don't weigh yourself. 3) Don't cheat.

Philipps, 38, said she decided to try the Whole30 diet because, well, everyone she knew was doing it, and she thought it would help her get "back on track before the holidays." Plus, she was up for an interesting challenge. "Which it was," she wrote.

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

In a follow-up Instagram story, the mom of two went a little more in-depth on what she learned. For example, cutting out sugar cold turkey showed her how addicted to the sweet stuff she really was. When she felt stressed, she craved her go-to treat: cinnamon gummy bears. "[Sugar] was really hard for me to get rid of," she said.

But Philipps did eventually learn healthier strategies to cope with her emotions: "Because I haven't been able to alleviate feelings through eating food, it forced me to sort of find other ways to deal."

The first five days of Whole30 were the toughest, Philipps said, then it got a little easier. Also helpful: that her husband, screenwriter Marc Silverstein, did the diet with her.

Not everyone is as successful on the restrictive plan, however. Health's contributing nutrition editor Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, has warned that banning certain foods can trigger a sense of panic that leads to obsessive thinking, followed by rebound binge eating. In "3 Ways to Clean Up Your Diet Without Committing to Whole30," she recommends a more flexible eating strategy that you can actually stick with long term.

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As for the results? Philipps said that while she hasn't weighed herself (she swore off the scale a year ago), she can tell from her face that she's "definitely smaller." She also noted that her husband lost "too much weight." (Weight loss isn't an actual goal of the Whole30 program, though many dieters do slim down.)

Other effects: Philipps said she feels less bloated, and her joints don't hurt like they typically do. But Whole30 didn't make any difference in terms of her irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, which surprised her because she always thought her digestive issues were diet-related.

Philipps ended her Whole30 recap with a few tips. For one, she recommends cooking at home as much as possible, to keep your meals exciting and varied. (She searched Instagram for fun Whole30-approved recipes.) When she did eat out, she ordered lean protein and vegetables, and asked the kitchen to leave out butter. Overall, Philipps says Whole30 was a positive experience—and she would do it again.

Feeling tempted by her review, but wary of adopting so many restrictions? Try simply eliminating processed foods, says Sass. Making this one change is a great compromise because it can slash calories, boost your energy, and seriously upgrade your nutrient intake.

Source: Health bests

This Mom Ditched Her Emotional Eating Habit and Lost More Than 300 Lbs.

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This article originally appeared on People.com.

At almost 500 lbs., Michelle Ball was an emotional eater.

After marrying her high school sweetheart at 21, she quickly gave birth to two children 20 months apart, and gradually, Ball says, “let [herself] go.”

“When I got married I was a little smaller than I am now,” Ball — who currently weighs 180 lbs. after undergoing an incredible body transformation — tells PEOPLE. “My husband at the time was in medical school and residency and we had small children. It was very stressful for both of us. I dealt with it by putting their needs before my own.”

She continues: “For every emotion I had during that time, food was my drug of choice. I kind of numbed myself that way and reached for food for sadness, stress, depression, anxiety, happiness; I celebrated with food.”

After a “never-ending cycle” of yo-yo dieting, the self-described “closet eater” says she knew she needed to change. “I would do a lot of nighttime snacking and snacking during the day,” says Ball.

“I remember looking at the scale at 497 lbs. and freaking out. I could not believe how heavy I was,” says the stay-at-home mom. “I thought, I have to take control of this because no one is going to do it for me.”

At the end of 2013, Ball, 37, read a book called Intuitive Eating, and learned about eating mindfully.

“I started really thinking: ‘Why am I eating so much? Why can’t I lose this weight? This is ridiculous – I’m a strong person, I’m educated, I’ve accomplished a lot in my life. I [was] athletic. I was not fat when I got married. I should be able to overcome this,'” says Ball.  “[So] every time I went to grab food or a drink that had a calorie in it, I thought to myself: Am I genuinely hungry or thirsty? Do I need this or am I reaching for it out of habit or to fill some void?”

The Joplin, Missouri resident cut way back on portions, but still allowed her favorite foods. “I knew telling myself I could not have certain things did not work for me. If you told me I couldn’t have carbs, all I wanted was carbs.” she says. “Honestly, I’ve lost all this weight eating what I want. I still eat pizza, I still eat Chinese food. I have not restricted myself, but I eat only when I’m genuinely hungry and I stop when I’m satisfied, not stuffed…that had not been a feeling I was familiar with for about 15 years.”

Once on her new eating plan, she decided to start walking around her neighborhood. At the time, the former high school runner could barely make it around the block.

“The first 100 to 150 lbs. happened so quickly. I think it all kind of clicked and my body was like, ‘Okay. You’re eating way less and you’re exercising.’ The fat was just melting off.”

“It slowly morphed — over several years — into me walking, then jogging, then running, then running 5Ks, and then going to CrossFit with my sister, then running a Spartan Race,” says Ball who is now into heavy lifting and works out six days a week.

By August 2016, Ball had lost 317 lbs. and hit her goal weight. Her personal life also changed quite a bit. She had gotten divorced, then engaged  — and had given birth to her third child.

“I really love my body because it’s taken me so long to get here and I’ve worked so, so, so hard and I still have to work hard and I will always have to work hard to not gain the weight back,” she says. “I hope [my story] helps others who are hopeless and do not know where to start.”

Source: Health bests

This Diet Is All Over Reddit—But Here’s What It Gets Wrong

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Take a deep-dive into the weight-loss forums on Reddit and you're bound to come across the CICO diet.

One user who had been following CICO for two months and shed 20 pounds wrote, "For years I actually thought that [losing weight] required vigorous exercise, and eating nothing but tilapia, broccoli, and spinach. How wrong I was."

In a separate thread, another user shared, "CICO will work regardless of what you're eating. Junk food, healthy food, fancy food, cheap food. It doesn't matter. CICO is essentially the only thing that matters when it comes to weight loss."

But many experts have a different take on the eating strategy, and argue that CICO is just another name for a weight-loss myth that refuses to die.
 

So what is the CICO diet?

The acronym stands for "calories in, calories out"; and the underlying theory—which is by no means a new concept—is that to lose weight, you simply need to consume fewer calories than you expend each day on physical activity and vital functions (such as breathing and keeping warm). Proponents of CICO argue that it doesn't necessarily matter what you eat, as long as you create a daily calorie deficit.

"At the core of it, it's true that calories will rule things when it comes to weight loss," says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, author of The Superfood Swap. "If you're eating just a ton, you're not aware of calories, you will not be successful. That is true in the most crude, raw possible way." But, she adds, calorie awareness is only a tiny piece of a much bigger picture.

RELATED: The 50 Best Weight Loss Foods of All Time

What CICO gets wrong

The problem with the CICO mentality is that it reduces weight loss to a calorie equation, when not all calories are created equal.

"We now know that the quality of the calories you consume—as well as the macronutrient balance and timing—all impact metabolism, satiety, and how your body utilizes calories," explains Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Health's contributing nutrition editor. For example, 300 calories from a blueberry muffin made with refined flour and sugar does not affect your body the same way that 300 calories from cooked oats topped with almonds and blueberries do. "[CICO] is an outdated way of thinking," Sass says.

You also have to consider how food choices affect your body beyond weight loss. "Eating all junk, but keeping it low-calorie, will still wreak havoc on things like your skin, your mood, your gastrointestinal functions," Blatner says.

Mira Ilic, a clinical dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic, adds that certain macronutrients are important for things like tissue repair, and muscle recovery and growth. "If you're doing strength training and other physical activity as part of your healthy routine—which also boosts your metabolism and helps with weight loss—you're doing yourself a disservice by not thinking about the food you're putting on your plate," she says.

So can you lose weight just by keeping CICO in mind? "Sure, it's possible," Ilic says. "But would I recommend this to my patients? Definitely not."

Sass adds that she has seen clients lose weight after increasing their total calorie intake—or break through a weight-loss plateau by altering the quality, balance, or timing of their calories, without reducing the total amount. To sum up: "It's not as simple as a math equation," she says.

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A better way to watch your calories

For the average woman who wants to lose weight, Blatner suggests aiming to consume roughly 1,500 calories a day: "That number might be a little bit up or down, depending on whether you're taller or shorter, or how much you exercise," she explains, "but 1,500 calories is a great starting point."

However, instead of tallying up the calories from every single food you eat, Blatner recommends practicing "calorie consciousness." Look at your plate and ask yourself, Do I have a smart carb, protein, healthy fat, and vegetables? Then ask yourself, Do the portions of each look reasonable, with vegetables taking up the majority of the plate?

"If you look at your plate and you have what you can guesstimate is a half-cup of a grain, that's going to be roughly 150 calories; if you see a reasonably sized piece of protein, it's likely about 3 ounces, or about 150 calories," Blatner says. "And if you see a lot of vegetables, topped with just a little bit of fat, like a drizzle of olive oil, you're probably adding up to about a 400 to 450 calorie meal."

Developing calorie consciousness will help you get a good balance of nutrients to nourish your body, and stay on track to lose weight that actually stays off.

Source: Health bests

The One Thing That Finally Helped Me Stop Overeating After Decades of Yo-Yo Dieting

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Let’s just say zen would not be the first word I’d use to describe myself. I fall more into the high-strung, nervous-about-everything camp. So mindfulness—a mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment—felt like a long shot for me. But living mindfully is having a major moment, billed as a cure-all for everything from anxiety to sleeplessness to obesity. At 42 and at my highest weight ever, I was willing to try anything.

Over the last two decades I rode our culture’s weight loss wave from Atkins to green juice detoxes. All to the same end: I was still fat. I finally got it that another diet was not the answer and made the decision to seek professional help. I started therapy with New York psychotherapist Alexis Conason, who specializes in mindful eating and body dissatisfaction.

RELATED: I Did It! Weight Loss Success Stories

Conason describes mindful eating as being fully aware and present in your relationship with food and your body. “It’s based on mindful meditation and brings the same skills cultivated there, like non-judgmental observation, to our eating experiences,” she says. During my very first session, she explained to me that eating mindfully as a strategy to get thin negates the entire point of the practice and simply doesn't work. There’s always a catch, I remember thinking to myself back then, when I still hoped mindfulness could be a fix to help me lose weight.

A lifelong emotional eater

My troubled relationship with food and dieting went back decades. I tried my first diet my freshman year of college. After that, I was always either on a diet or planning to start one. All foods were labeled good or bad in my mind, and my behavior was categorized by the same measure. What I actually wanted to eat rarely crossed my mind. But this is where mindfulness comes in, Conason tells me in a separate conversation we had outside our therapy sessions.

“To truly eat mindfully, we have to trust our body, which for most of us is a major leap of faith," she explains. "It is nearly impossible to hear what our body is telling us when we are working against it to lose weight. We come equipped with an internal navigation system to guide our eating. The problem is that we spend so much of our lives trying to override this internal GPS that it becomes very hard to hear what our body is telling us.”

RELATED: How I Swam, Biked, and Ran My Way to a 70 Lb. Weight Loss

She says most people, specifically those who have a history of yo-yo dieting, as I do, fight their bodies instead of tuning into its natural guidance. “When our body is craving a cupcake, we feed it kale. We deprive ourselves of what our body wants, fighting against our cravings until we finally 'cave' and devour a whole box of cupcakes, hardly tasting them, feeling out of control, and then berate ourselves for being so 'bad' and vow never to eat sweets again.”

Sound familiar? It’s basically the story of my life (minus the kale). 

Even though I began therapy specifically for my food issues, I went week after week for a full six months before I even started to get to the root of my overeating. This was hardly my first my rodeo on the couch, but as I started the familiar unpacking of my life story, including an absent father and pretty crippling anxiety, I looked at things through the lens of my emotional attachment to food for the first time.

Making peace with food

At this point I also participated in Conason’s nine-week group class, The Anti-Diet Plan. The premise is that a person needs to need to make peace with food and their body before truly eating mindfully. So every Tuesday night I joined eight other skeptical New York women to basically re-learn how to eat.

Each meeting began with a meditation and included an eating exercise. We started by eating raisins. We smelled them and touched them and ate them one by one and finished them only if we wanted to. I distinctly recall one woman, shamefully saying, “Did you see how I just shoved them all in my mouth?” The self-consciousness you feel when you live with food shame runs so deep, it can even apply to raisins.

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From there we worked our way up to eating chocolate cake, going out to a restaurant together, and then finally conquering our individual albatross—whatever food made us feel our most out of control—and attempted to eat it mindfully. Some members struggled with what they would pick, but for me it was a no-brainer. I brought homemade chocolate brownies, which I used to devour until I was physically sick. My sugar cravings were so strong at that point, and I knew they were rooted in a million emotions other than hunger.

One thing that we repeatedly discussed was the idea of self-acceptance, which like so many other women who were always trying to lose weight, I rejected with every cell in my body. How could I ever accept myself this way? One group member said aloud what we were all thinking: “That would feel like such a defeat.”

Conason tells me this is a common point of resistance. “We have somehow come to believe that if we are really mean to ourselves, if we just bully and berate ourselves enough, then we will finally find the motivation to change. We view acceptance as defeat and think that if we accept ourselves that means that things will remain the same," she says. "Self-hatred immobilizes us. Long-lasting change comes from a place of compassion and nurturing. We have to let go of the struggle to move forward, and self-acceptance is the first step to releasing yourself.”

Outside of the course, I attempted this new practice with the same religious fervor I applied to every stab at weight loss. I would look at a slice of pizza like it was an equation to be solved, asking myself, Do I really want it? After inevitably eating it, I would apply the same obsessive attention the next time I was faced with a "bad" food. I felt puffed up pride when I didn't eat something—and the same old familiar shame when I did.

Self-acceptance—and silencing her inner bully

Finally, it occurred to me: I was treating mindfulness like another diet. That light bulb was truly the first step on my journey. Slowly, and paired with other positive changes like exercise, cutting down on alcohol, and ongoing therapy, I’m now able to make more authentic decisions based on what I really want. If I’m craving dessert, I have it. (Spoiler Alert: most nights I crave it.) 

RELATED: To get our best healthy eating tips delivered to you inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter

But the most seismic shift is my newfound ability to silence my inner bully. Learning to accept myself just as I am is so much harder than counting calories—but right now, it’s my primary objective. I wish I could tell you that the size of my body is no longer an issue for me, but I'm not quite there yet. Learning to navigate my true hunger, I focus on progress not perfection. I have lost weight and continue to lose.

But just like with my obsession with food, monitoring the number on the scale becomes a slippery slope, so I try to shift my focus to my emotional well-being. Truly allowing myself to eat what I want when I want it has been so incredibly liberating, and feeling in control of my food choices has made me feel more in control of my life as a whole. While seeking happiness and self-contentment, I’ve finally (finally!) made room for goals that can’t be measured by a scale.

Source: Health bests

Kim Kardashian Had a ‘Last Supper’ Binge Before Starting a Diet. Here’s What Nutritionists Think

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But first, pizza.

That was Kim Kardashian’s plan before overhauling her diet, as she revealed on Sunday’s episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. On the show, Kim, Khloé, and Kim’s BFF Jonathan Cheban ventured around New York City for a couple of slices of pizza, followed by chocolate ice cream cones with rainbow sprinkles. It was all part of a final food indulgence before Kim would embark on a “lifestyle change” that she hopes will give her a “good body.” (As if she wasn't already #bodygoals!)

We don’t have the details on what exactly Kim’s lifestyle change will entail, but Cheban’s already betting she’ll fall off the wagon. “I’ve heard about ‘lifestyle changes’ before,” he said. “I’ll see her at Cipriani—she cannot resist that pasta.”

“I’m really going to be dedicated and committed,” Kim fired back. “You’ll see.”

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Sorry Kim, we've got disappointing news for you: Feasting on your favorite foods before banning them from your diet sets you up for failure, as Cheban predicted. “If you’re starting a diet on this notion that you have to restrict foods you love, that means the diet is unsustainable and you’re going to fail,” says Julie Upton, RD, co-founder of Appetite for Health.

That's because a binge-then-restrict plan requires a heck of a lot of willpower, especially if you’re denying yourself foods you really crave, explains Claudia T. Felty, PhD, RD. “Over time, you’re going to be around those foods and you’re going to be tempted by them,” she says. “When you set them up as foods you binge on now and then never eat again, that binge mentality comes back.”

Plenty of dieters believe that a Kim-style “last supper” will jumpstart lasting eating-habit changes, Upton says, but what it really does is “jumpstart the desire to get off the diet and [eat] the foods they’ve been restricting!”

When you decide a food you love is entirely off limits, you're more likely to fixate on that no-no. “We want what we can’t have,” Felty says, and this longing can actually trigger more intense cravings. Plus, telling yourself you simply "can't" have certain foods turns eating into a moral issue. “It sets up this 'good food' versus 'bad food' mentality that, for a lot of people, feeds an unhealthy relationship with foods that they love,” Upton adds.

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A smarter approach is identifying an eating plan that meshes with your lifestyle and food preferences and then taking small, sustainable steps to keep at it. “For someone who loves pasta or bread, a ketogenic diet is never going to work, because they’re going to constantly crave those foods,” Upton says. Instead, following a Mediterranean-style diet that allows for some grains can lead to slow and steady weight loss, she says.

Felty and Upton both recommend the 80-20 rule. For 80% of the time, stick to a healthy eating plan; 20% of the time, enjoy the treats you love that don’t necessarily fit that plan on a daily basis, like pizza and ice cream. As long as you're also exercising regularly and you consume them in reasonable quantities, incorporating those treat foods 20% of the time won't derail your weight loss goals, Felty says.

Source: Health bests

Here’s How Instagram Fitness Star Katie Dunlop Finally Quit Yo-Yo Dieting—and Totally Transformed Her Body

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Take a quick scroll down Katie Dunlop’s Instagram page, and you’d probably assume that the super-toned personal trainer has always been #fitgoals. Dunlop, who has over 220,000 followers on the social platform, founded the YouTube channel Love Sweat Fitness and has authored multiple e-books about fitness, weight loss, and nutritious meal planning. But Dunlop tells Health that her lifestyle wasn't always so healthy: She used to yo-yo diet in an effort to shed pounds, and her hypothyroidism made her feel like she’d never achieve her health goals.

"I had been dealing with weight insecurities for years, probably since middle school," Dunlop says. "I was always hyper-focused on size and my weight and what I was eating."

She regularly turned to fad diets and trendy exercise programs ("There was a lot of Tai Bo in my life!"), but could never stick with a routine. "I’d do two weeks really hardcore, and then not be able to maintain that," the influencer admits. "I felt emotionally rundown and was tired of being constantly consumed by my body image."

About six months after college, Dunlop reached her heaviest weight and knew she needed to make a change. Yo-yo dieting wasn't working, and she wanted to develop healthy habits that would really stick. Consistency became her new goal, and she decided she’d try to focus on being healthy and feeling good, not necessarily losing weight. 

The switch wasn't easy. "I got rid of the scale," Dunlop says. "As a woman, growing up all you think about is weight, weight, weight. It took time to get that out of my head and focus on feeling good." Here, the strategies that helped Dunlop shift the way she thought about weight loss—and turn her healthy lifestyle into a career.

RELATED: Kim Kardashian Says She Has Body Dysmorphia, but What Does That Really Mean?

Finding a workout routine she could stick with

Dunlop started signing up for group fitness classes and fell in love with the atmosphere. She realized she wanted to teach others about health and fitness, so she eventually got certified as a barre and yoga sculpt instructor. "I felt like when I was teaching, I was my best self," Dunlop says.

In addition to yoga and barre, Dunlop now does more weight training and completes multiple rounds of HIIT and strength workouts each week.

“I try to work out five to six times a week, usually three of those workouts are strength and conditioning, and two to three are some type of cardio, like HIIT or running," she says.

Switching to a balanced diet

Being a personal trainer helped Dunlop become more educated about nutrition, and she quickly realized why her old eating habits never seemed to work. "I used to cut out all carbs, but then I’d be the person eating sugar-free candy," she says. 

Dunlop lost 45 pounds after she started loading her plate with more lean protein, healthy fats, and fresh veggies. As a bonus, she also found that some of her hypothyroidism symptoms like headaches and low energy improved.

Now, she eats five to six small meals a day, such as English muffin sandwiches with turkey bacon, egg, avocado, and spinach for breakfast, and spicy sriracha salmon with sweet potatoes and kale for dinner. Keeping protein-rich snacks on hand (think nuts or turkey jerky) help her keep her energy up throughout the day.

Meal prep is also key, Dunlop tells us. "Even if I just have one spare hour on the weekends, I’ll roast some veggies, bake chicken, or make a huge batch of these breakfast egg muffins and freeze them," she says.

Embracing body positivity and self-love

While Dunlop has clearly made a major physical transformation, she feels like her biggest accomplishment is improving her body image and self-confidence. The key: constantly reminding herself that being strong and feeling good is more important than the number on the scale.

"I actually weigh more now than when I was at my lowest weight, but I look leaner," she says. "I always encourage people to take photos and use measurements, because the scale is only a small part of the picture."

Looking back, Dunlop says she feels like a different person from the woman who couldn't break out of the yo-yo diet cycle and constantly felt insecure.

"It’s an emotional change, our bodies fluctuate and that’s normal, but the biggest thing throughout this transformation has been how I look at myself," she says. "[I went from being] that person who felt embarrassed going to workout classes and [was] constantly questioning, ‘Should I wear this, can I wear this?’ And now I'm like, ‘Yes!’

And not just because of my size—a lot of that comes from strength and making those healthy decisions and knowing that everything you’re doing is bettering so many parts of your life."

Source: Health bests

Palliative Care Cuts Costs for Cancer Patients With Other Health Problems

Palliative care reduces hospital costs for incurable cancer patients who have other serious health conditions, a new study says.
Palliative care is team-based specialized treatment aiming to provide patients with relief from…