Weight Loss Strategies For Convenience Eaters

If you’re a convenience eater, you need a diet that works with your lifestyle. Fast and easy meals and snacks can be lean and delicious if you learn to plan ahead. Use these techniques to eat light at home and dining out even on your busiest days.

Weight Loss Techniques To Use At Home 

  1. Stock up on nutritious foods. Replace frozen dinners and instant soups with whole foods that are better for you. Toss fresh pasta with extra virgin olive oil and pine nuts. Dip baby carrots in your salsa instead of corn chips.
  2. Master simple recipes. Many satisfying meals can be prepared in 10 minutes or less. Browse online for easy recipes or borrow cookbooks from your local library.
  3. Cook ahead. Use weekends or evenings to cook a batch of chicken breasts or black bean chili. Refrigerate or freeze the leftovers to use in the days or weeks ahead.
  4. Work as a team. Your kids are likely to pick up on your eating habits, so set a good example. Take turns making breakfast or brown bag lunches for each other. Talk about the importance of eating whole grains, fresh produce, lean proteins and healthy fats.

Weight Loss Techniques For Eating Out 

  1. Search for alternatives to fast foods. Look around your neighborhood for places that will serve you healthier foods just as quickly as your usual drive through window. Collect take out menus from ethnic restaurants or assemble a fast meal at your supermarket salad bar.
  2. Bring along snacks. Carry cut vegetables and whole grain cereals with you instead of relying on the office vending machines. Keep a small cooler in your car with yogurt drinks and soy nuts.
  3. Learn to spot healthy keywords on menus. It’s easy to order lighter dishes if you master a few common terms. Look for entrees that are steamed or grilled rather than fried. For dessert, choose the sorbet instead of donuts.
  4. Ask your server for advice. With so many people trying to lose weight, many servers are experts at guiding you to the leanest choices. Let them count calories for you.

Additional Suggestions

  1. Drink water. Get a steel water bottle and keep it filled up so you can sip water all day long. Staying well hydrated will help you feel more energetic and suppress your appetite.
  2. Eat more frequently. Many convenience eaters get caught up in other activities and forget to eat. Small meals and snacks throughout the day will make you less vulnerable to overloading when you suddenly notice you’re starving.
  3. Analyze your favorite convenience foods. Figure out what attracts you to your favorite fast food and you can usually find a substitute with fewer calories. Sprinkling a little cinnamon in your cafe au lait could make you forget about powdered hot chocolate.
  4. Make exercise a habit. Physical activity is essential to losing weight the healthy way. Develop an exercise routine you can stick with. Maybe you need a trainer or gym buddy to remind you to stay on track. You may also want to sneak more exercise into your daily routine by climbing stairs or doing leg lifts during TV commercials.
  5. Manage stress. A fast paced lifestyle may expose you to higher levels of stress. Meditation and other relaxation techniques help lower stress hormones so you metabolize foods more effectively and store less fat.

Indulge your love for convenience eating while you reach your weight loss goals. Make your diet easy to follow so you can break the fast food habit. As a bonus, you’ll probably save money and enjoy eating more.

9 Strategies to Increase Your Energy

Do you sometimes feel like you’ve run out of gas? Do you have to push yourself to get going and accomplish your goals for the day? Well, you aren’t alone.

Most people experience bouts of fatigue once in a while, but you can take steps to guard against low energy.

Consider these suggestions to spark your energy level:

  1. Eat right. Your body requires certain nutrients to stoke your intellectual and physical fires and to keep every part of you operating smoothly.
    • Most of us know what we ought to be eating each day: at least a couple of fruits, four or five servings of vegetables, one or two small servings of meat, poultry, or fish, plenty of fiber from healthy cereals, breads, and brown rice, and a couple of servings of dairy in the forms of low or no-fat milk, cheeses, and yogurt.
    • The reality is most of us don’t eat all these foods daily, or we eat other, unhealthy things.
    • Do what you can to eat in ways that support your energy. Avoid foods with high sugar content as they will initially provide a glucose rush, after which you’ll bottom out and feel a huge drop in energy.
    • Whether you choose to eat 3 larger meals a day or 5 or 6 smaller meals, refrain from going too long without eating. The food you eat is your body’s fuel.
  2. Consider meditation and/or yoga. Techniques rooted in Eastern philosophies have long been known for enhancing health and relaxation as well as boosting your energy levels.
  3. Take a multi-vitamin. A daily vitamin is your safety net against less-than-perfect eating habits. You’ll experience steadier levels of energy if you consistently take your multi-vitamins.
  4. Have a positive attitude. How you approach life and see the world can either propel you forward or leave you sitting on the sidelines. Having a positive attitude about what you will do each day goes a long way toward keeping your energy flowing. Think positive!
  5. Exercise. Although exercise sounds like it should be a drain on your energy, getting physically active helps you build strength and stamina, which will actually increase your get-up-and-go.
    • According to the latest research, even if you start with just 15 minutes of walking a day, 5 days a week, you’ll probably notice your energy lifting the very day you start.
  6. Get enough sleep. With all the gadgets around us plus the television on in the background, you have plenty of excuses to stay up late. Make the effort necessary to obtain the amount of sleep you need to feel invigorated the next morning.
  7. Consider a 1-hour nap. Some people find they can take a nap and feel instantly refreshed. Plus, there’s medical research that says a nap can be quite helpful for those who manipulate and process an overload of information in their work. You can boost your energy with a snooze. If an hour’s too long for you, try power napping for 30 minutes or so.
  8. Allow time to rest each day. Whether you build in a 15 minute break at work or 30 minutes of propping up your feet at home to have an iced tea and read the news, take a little break to relax each day.
  9. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting for hours depletes your energy. A healthy goal is to stay moving at a reasonable pace throughout the day.
  10. Limit stressful situations. Stress and anxiety are huge drains on your emotional energy, which works in tandem with your physical energy. To increase your enthusiasm for life, avoid people and situations that trigger feelings of stress and anxiety.

If you experience an occasional bout of fatigue and no medical cause has been determined, it may be a result of your lifestyle. Practice several of the above strategies to help you pump up the volume on what keeps you going all day: your energy.

Increasing Your Energy With Meditation

Juggling responsibilities at work and home can leave you feeling stressed out and fatigued. Meditation is a safe and effective way to rev up your energy levels. Here’s an explanation of how meditation gives you more energy and a sample meditation to get you started.

How Meditation Gives you More Energy

  1. Improve your posture. Straightening up will instantly make you feel more alert. Good posture helps protect your body from injury and chronic pain. Try pressing your abdomen in toward your back while relaxing your shoulders. Hold your head up high.
  2. Take full breaths. Stress can cause shallow chest breathing. This limits the oxygen flow to your brain and other organs. Slow down and breathe deeply from your abdomen. If you lie on your back, your body will automatically show you how.
  3. Reduce mental stress. In addition to reinforcing correct posture and breathing, meditation clears away mental stress by turning your mind toward more constructive purposes. 
  4. Sleep better. Many people suffer from sleep deprivation. A daily mediation practice will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Meditation can even reduce your need for sleep.
  5. Live in the present moment. Worries about the past and future can leave you feeling depleted, even if you send your body on vacation to a tropical beach. Mediation liberates your mind to focus on the present.
  6. Feel more motivated. It’s easy to feel energized when you love what you’re doing and believe that your hard work will pay off. Meditation will help you attain and prolong that state of mind even while you’re cleaning the toilet or paying your bills.

Sample Meditation for Boosting Your Energy Level

  1. Get into position. Find a comfortable position on a cushion or in a chair. Sit up straight. Draw slow, deep breaths up from your abdomen. Exhale through your nose keeping your mind on the spot where the air passes out of your nostrils.
  2. Scan your body. Scan your body from the top down. Notice any spots where you feel pain or tightness, without allowing them to disturb your practice.
  3. Scan your mind. Give your mind the same treatment. Observe your passing thoughts without pursuing them or making judgments.
  4. Welcome tensions into your heart. If you’re like most people, you may be wasting a lot of energy by trying to avoid the things you find unpleasant or fearful. Instead, bring them on. As you inhale, imagine all your anxieties coming to take shelter inside your heart.
  5. Apply compassion and healing. You can think about practical solutions later. For now, just view yourself and your difficulties with great compassion and the desire to heal.
  6. Send out purified thoughts. Imagine that you already have the power to transform all adversity. As you exhale, send your happy feelings out to create a positive environment for you and all creatures.
  7. Gradually ease out of meditation. Allow the good feelings you generated to last longer. Bit by bit, take more notice of your surroundings while retaining the intention of bringing more positive energy into all your activities.
  8. Dedicate your efforts. Take a moment to appreciate the benefits of your meditation in improving your outlook. Express the wish that these benefits will keep enriching your life and your connections with others.

Become more productive and enjoy greater peace of mind by using meditation to welcome more energy into your life. You’ll soon feel better and get more accomplished with less effort.

Living With Seasonal Affective Disorder

Plenty of people experience a hint of the winter blues as harsh weather keeps us shut up indoors, but seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a more serious form of depression. Fortunately, there are effective forms of treatment. These are the basic facts about SAD and how to feel better year round.

Understanding the Facts About SAD

  1. Distinguish between SAD and other forms of depression. SAD often resembles other types of depression. The key difference is that your symptoms are limited to the same season each year.
  2. Recognize the symptoms. With SAD, you’re likely to feel sad and irritable. You may be hungry all the time with especially strong cravings for carbohydrates like bread and pasta. It’s also common to feel drowsy and sleep more.
  3. Be aware of the different varieties of SAD. This condition usually strikes in the winter, but not always. For some people, the heat and humidity of summer serve as triggers.
  4. Know your risk factors. The highest risk of SAD occurs between the ages of 15 and 55. As you age, you’re less likely to develop SAD. It’s more common in women and in areas where winter days are shorter and the amount of light changes dramatically according to the season. Family history also plays a role.

Strategies for Living With SAD

  1. Increase your exposure to light. Home remedies are sometimes all you need. Try using brighter lights and spending more time outdoors in the sun. Morning light is especially important.
  2. Try out light therapy. If your symptoms are more intense, your physician will probably prescribe light therapy. You spend just about a half hour a day exposed to a special box lamp. There are few side effects and many people enjoy immediate relief. For others, simple complementary activities do the trick.
  3. Get more exercise. Regular exercise is beneficial for coping with most forms of depression, including SAD. Schedule a workout first thing in the morning like a brisk walk around the neighborhood or Tai Chi in your backyard.
  4. Manage stress. Be extra gentle with yourself while you’re recovering. Take time to relax through meditation or listening to instrumental music.
  5. Aim for good quality sleep. Your body will try to get extra sleep when you have SAD. Help make that slumber restorative by avoiding alcohol and caffeine and sticking to a regular early bedtime.
  6. Watch your weight. SAD can lead to weight gain. Protect your health by exercising longer to burn more calories. When you get cravings, reach for healthy, low-fat carbohydrates like whole wheat bread and brown rice.
  7. Do some traveling. If your budget and schedule permit, SAD is one of the few issues you can run away from. Go where the weather suits your needs better. Try spending a week in Jamaica.
  8. Stick with your doctor’s recommendations. Your doctor can advise you on whether antidepressants may be helpful. Even if your symptoms clear up, follow your doctor’s recommendations. If you discontinue treatment too soon, you may suffer a rebound.
  9. See a counselor. Talk therapy is another valuable resource. It may help you address underlying issues and keep SAD from interfering with your daily life.

While winter cold can be daunting, the change of seasons can also be an opportunity to appreciate nature and shake up your daily routines. A little more exposure to morning light may be all you need to stay well. If you think you could be experiencing symptoms of SAD, talk with your doctor to find a treatment plan that works for you.

The 15 Best New Year’s Resolutions for Your Health

Are you unsure which of your priorities is most important in the New Year? Do you have plenty of dreams for the future, but not many concrete plans?

Check out these 15 resolutions you can make to improve your physical and mental well being during the next 12 months and beyond.

Resolutions to Improve Your Physical Health 

  1. Eat right. Focus on adopting healthy eating habits rather than resorting to crash diets. Learn to eat more slowly and reduce your portion sizes.
    • Eat a variety of foods with plenty of complex carbohydrates, fresh vegetables and fruits. Add in some lean proteins and healthy fats to complete your meals.
  2. Exercise daily. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every day. Round that out with training for strength and flexibility.
    • Find a variety of activities that you enjoy, like brisk walks and biking.
    • Get an exercise ball or treadmill that you can use at home on busy days or when the weather outside is unpleasant.
  3. Get adequate rest and sleep. Insufficient sleep can make you more vulnerable to weight gain and many illnesses. Different individuals need different amounts of sleep, but the conventional eight hours is a good rule for most people. If you constantly feel drowsy, try going to bed earlier.
  4. Take care of your bones. Almost half of all women over 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture. Men can be at risk too. Eat plenty of foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. Get some sunshine and lift weights or do other resistance training.
  5. Practice good posture. Strong abdominal muscles will protect your back from injury and help you look younger.Get used to pressing your navel towards your lower back and keeping your shoulders relaxed. Breathe from your abdomen rather than your chest.
  6. Quit smoking. You probably already know all the dangers of smoking, including lung cancer and premature aging.
    • Many people make several attempts before quitting for good so be open to various cessation methods. Your doctor may be able to help you find the right plan for you.
  7. Drink alcohol in moderation. Some people may need to avoid alcohol all together. Others can stay safe within the general limits of one drink a day for women and two for men. Avoid alcohol before bed so you get good quality sleep.
  8. See your doctor. Regular checkups enable early treatment to keep small health issues from growing worse. If you can’t afford health insurance, you may be able to get some free or inexpensive screenings at local pharmacies and health fairs.

Resolutions to Improve Your Mental Health

  1. Manage stress. Keeping stress under control lets you enjoy life more. Set aside time each day for meditation or listening to soothing music.
  2. Build healthy relationships. Develop a strong network of support. Communicate openly and with respect.
  3. Monitor your thoughts. Think positive. Divert your attention away from nonproductive worrying by brainstorming creative solutions to challenging situations.
  4. Practice positive self talk. Be a good friend to yourself. Remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments.
  5. Be compassionate.Show compassion to yourself and others. Be aware of the suffering in the world and look for ways to alleviate it.
  6. Engage in lifelong learning. Keep your mind sharp by giving it constant challenges. Take adult education classes or listen to foreign language tapes.
  7. Consider counseling. It’s wise and courageous to ask for help when you need it.Professional counseling or spiritual practices may help you bounce back from unfortunate events like divorce or unemployment. They can be useful for smaller things, too, like if you’ve just had a rough week.

While many New Year’s resolutions get discarded faster than the dried out Christmas tree, there are ways to make them stick. Set specific goals that are meaningful and attainable for you. Improving your physical and mental health is a great gift for yourself and your whole family.