Archives December 2013

Positivity and Weight Loss Success

Keeping a positive attitude can indeed help with weight loss.

Believe it, and you can achieve it. Attitude is altitude. Your attitude is everything. These are common mantras bandied about by inspiration gurus and self-help professionals, and they have frequently been shown to have a definite positive impact for many people.

A Positive Attitude is Crucial for Weight Loss Success

But can a positive attitude be the cornerstone for weight loss success? Many health and fitness professionals believe it is not only helpful, but critical in achieving weight loss and maintaining a healthy body weight.

A Negative Attitude is Weight Loss Sabotage

The thought process goes like this. Negative thinking can lead to self-defeating behaviors. This gives you little excuses to cheat on your diet, skip a workout session, and care little in the short term about your long term weight loss efforts. Over time this can lead to weight gain instead of weight loss, an individual then feels frustrated, and self-esteem drops. This leads to more negative attitudes, which then create a self-fulfilling and endless cycle of weight loss failure.

Setting Yourself Up for Weight Loss Success

Donald Hensrud, M.D., is a frequent spokesperson for the Mayo Clinic, and he believes that mentally setting yourself up for success in your weight loss efforts is vitally important. That is because staying positive will help you through the stumbles and falls you will definitely make in your weight loss experience. No one is perfect, so those fried food dinners and ice cream desserts are going to happen.

But positivity and the right mental attitude can get you over those speed bumps and back on track towards your weight loss goals. Did you know that major studies have shown low self-esteem and a negative self image can rob you of energy, give you a feeling of powerlessness, can actually cause depression and contribute to a lack of motivation?

Negativity even causes a significant negative physiological affect to take place in your body, and this can actually contribute to weight gain and other negative physical characteristics.

However, having a positive attitude means being realistic as well. To achieve your weight loss goals, set achievable hallmarks. Reward yourself when you hit significant levels of weight loss, keep a daily journal for both your positive and negative thoughts regarding your weight loss, and make a conscience effort every day to transform the way you think.

Celebrate Even the Smallest Weight Loss Successes.

You should also give yourself a mental pat on the back for even small efforts. If you drink coffee today without sugar, or pass on that second slice of pizza, congratulate yourself out loud. By reaffirming positive behavior and keeping a positive attitude, you will achieve your weight loss goals, and possibly quicker than you ever thought possible.

Why Focusing on Getting Healthy, Rather Than Losing Weight, Will Help You in the Long Run

With the US weight loss market providing somewhere between $60 and $70 million in revenue each year, losing weight is big business. This is one of the reasons why all the diet fads, fitness gurus and latest miracle cures talk about losing weight, rather than achieving and maintaining health. But when people focus on losing weight rather than getting healthy, they often times meet with frustration and ineffectiveness, and it is usually not even their fault.

When an exercise regimen is based on the wrong premise, it is bound to fail. And as long as failure is guaranteed, weight loss companies can stay in business. But when you focus on reaching a healthy fitness level first, you will find that weight loss and fat loss take care of themselves.

When weight loss is the primary goal, people tend to eat less. But actually, Americans and other modern-day human beings around the world should actually eat more frequently. The problem is that the typical US diet includes two or three meals a day, with massive portions. Getting healthy includes eating five or six times a day, with anywhere from 300 to 500 calories per meal on average.

When attempting to lose weight, eating less frequently leads to binge eating, and also causes your body to store fat. This is because your system has gone into starvation mode. The cornerstone of many weight loss systems is eating less, and this directly leads to the frustrated dieter gaining more fat, and in many times even more weight.

But when you focus on healthy living, which includes a sensible and nutritious diet, less sedentary activities and moderate physical exertion, your body will immediately move toward its fittest state. This will instantly cause a loss in weight if you are overweight, and will even allow dangerously thin individuals to reach a healthier overall fitness level.

Begin with 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity a day, and make sure you are walking at least 10,000 steps a day as well. Spread 2,000 to 2,500 calories out over 5 to 6 meals and snacks spread during the course of your day. Limit salt, refined sugar and flour, eat more fruits and vegetables, and pack a meal as opposed to eating out at lunchtime. And consult a doctor before taking on any physical fitness regime.

These are simple and inexpensive steps which help you focus on getting healthy rather than losing weight, and they help move your body to its most natural fitness level.

Cut Calories Safely

Learning how to cut calories safely.

If you are trying to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you eat. As a matter-of-fact, to lose one pound per week, you have to have a daily calorie deficit of 500 calories. But you first have to figure out how many calories you should be eating to maintain your current weight. The first step in finding out is to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR.

Basal Metabolic Rate

Knowing your BMR will give you the number of calories you need each day to sustain normal bodily functions like breathing keeping your heart beating. To lose weight, you have to either burn off or avoid eating the extra calories your body does not need.

To calculate your BMR, you have to factor in your height, weight, age and sex. For women the formula is 655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years); for men 66 + (6.3 x weight in pounds) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years).

For example, let’s calculate the BMR on a 30-year old female 5 ft. 5 in, tall and weighing 150 pounds. Plugging the numbers into the formula 655 + (4.3 x 150) + (4.7 x 65 inches) – (4.7 x 30), we find she should be eating about 1,464 calories per day to maintain her current weight.

Note the formulas are based on a normal adult body. If you are extremely muscular or very obese, then your resulting figures will be underestimated or overestimated, respectively.

Factoring In Your Activity Level

Because how much activity you do in a day affects how many calories you burn, you have to adjust the number of calories in your BMR. If you are basically inactive most of the day, then multiply your BMR by 20%. If you exercise most days, use a 40% figure. For those that are very active, multiply your BMR by 50%.

Taking our example from above and adding in the 40% additional calories needed to support her activity level, the total number of calories she needs to maintain her weight while exercising most days is now 2,049.

Cutting Calories for Weight Loss

Keeping in mind a one pound per week weight loss, our example would have to cut 3,500 calories per week from her current diet. Break that down per day, and she should be eating 1,549 calories.

If you find you are losing more than one pound per week, you may want to add back in a few calories. If you are not losing at least some weight per week, consult your doctor for further guidance.

Save Money Cutting Calories

Here's how to buy smarter and eat smarter while cutting calories.

Buying food is one of the larger expenditures we make each week. But did you know that by cutting calories you can also save money? Use our tips on how to save money both when eating out and eating at home.

Save Money Cutting Calories When Eating Out

We know eating out is much more expensive than brown bagging it, but do you know how much you are spending? Assuming your daily lunch costs $7.00, with an average of 20 working days per month, that is $140 per month or $1,680 per year! Oh … let’s not forget to mention the loads of calories and saturated fat that is in many of the fast-food super-sized lunch choices. Your meal could easily top over 900 calories and 40 grams of fat. That is over half of your daily calorie count in just one meal!

Compare that to a salad of vegetables and grilled chicken with a light vinaigrette dressing, and a cup of homemade vegetable soup and you saved around 550 calories, 34 grams of fat and about $5.00. A healthy lunch you bring from home will nutritionally and financially beat lunch out every time hands down. And if you can avoid having to drive somewhere to get lunch, you can save even more by not spending money on gas to get there and back.

What you drink can really run up your monthly expenses and calories too. Instead of ordering your morning $4.00 latte with 180 calories, order a coffee with half-and-half cream with only 20 calories. Not only did you save $2.25, but you drank 160 fewer calories – and that is if you only have one drink per day.

Save Money Cutting Calories When Eating at Home

Buying your own groceries and eating at home is always less expensive and with less calories than eating out. But how can you reduce calories and food costs at the same time? Cook in bulk.

It costs money every time you fire up the oven. So instead of making one meal at a time, cook up a whole week’s worth of meals, package them in portion-sized servings and freeze them. It takes much less energy to heat up a meal in the microwave than cook it in the oven and with a portioned-sized meal, there will be less temptation to overeat, thus saving calories.

Another tip … watch the sales on healthy items. Instead of stocking up on processed food that is on sale, still expensive and full of calories, focus on buying healthy choices instead, such as tuna, olive oil, beans and brown rice, and lean meats. In the end, both your waistline and wallet will thank you.

Food costs are one of our largest monthly expenditures. However, by diligently buying healthy items in quantity when on sale, you not only save money at the checkout, but in gas by not having to go to the grocery store as often. And by buying natural healthy foods, you are avoiding the unwanted calories in processed foods, not to mention the saturated fat, trans fat and sodium found in many pre-made foods. Buy smart, eat smart and save both money and calories.

Create a Calorie Deficit

All of us know that cutting calories and exercising more is the secret to healthy weight loss. But how many calories do you need and still have enough to fuel your body? The number you need to eat each day varies depending on your:

  • overall health
  • physical activity
  • sex
  • weight
  • height
  • shape

Because of these variables, experts cannot agree on the number of calories you should consume each day. In the U.S., the average male should eat 2,700 calories per day while in females that number is 2,200; in the UK, the recommendations are 2,500 and 2,000 respectively. The United Nations on the other hand, recommends consuming no less than 1,800 calories per day.

While these are all good guidelines for general information, in the scope of nutrition and weight loss they are generally irrelevant. If you want to lose weight, you have to create a 500 calorie per day deficit between the numbers of calories you eat and the number you expend. There are three ways to accomplish this.

1) Create a Calorie Deficit by Eating Fewer Calories

If you want to keep your physical activity the same, but lose weight, then you have to eat 500 fewer calories than you are currently eating. It is easy to do by making smarter and healthier food decisions. A good place to start is to cut (or at least limit) the calories you consume by watching foods high in simple carbohydrates (sugar) and saturated fat.

Instead of that latte in the morning, choose plain coffee with a little cream. The latte has 180 calories of which 25% is saturated fat. By comparison a tall Starbucks coffee with cream has 20 calories of which 5% is saturated fat.

Eat more foods high in protein, such as chicken, turkey, pork and lean beef. Substituting natural foods – fruits and vegetables – for processed food is also a good way to cut calories.

2) Create a Calorie Deficit by Burning More Calories

However, if you want to keep your calorie intake the same, then you can burn up to 500 more calories each day by adding in more exercise; it is easy. Instead of parking close to your work, park at the far end of the parking lot and walk the rest of the way. During your lunch break, walk around the block a couple of times. You will still have time to eat a healthy lunch that you brought to work. Or go for a walk after you get home from work; a 150 pound person walking for 30 minutes at 3.5 mph burns 149 calories. The point is there are many different ways you can increase the number of calories you burn each day with very little extra effort.

3) Create a Calorie Deficit by Combining the Two

This option works the best for most of us – eating fewer calories and increasing our physical activity. By eating 250 fewer calories per day and burning 250 more per day through exercising, you have your 500 calories per day deficit. Maintain this deficit regimen for seven days and you will lose a pound. One-pound per week weight loss is both healthy and easy to maintain.

20 Easy Ways to Reduce Calories

Here we have some easy ways to reduce calories without a hassle.

To lose weight, you have to cut calories, or exercise more, or a combination of the two. If you plan to cut calories, we rounded up 20 ways you can use to reduce your caloric intake through smart substitution and portion control.

Smart Substitution to Reduce Calories

By making small, but smart swaps, you can reduce your calorie intake substantially. For instance:

  1. Swap out a bagel for an English muffin and avoid eating 220 calories.
  2. Trade 10 ounces of whole milk for skim and avoid another 70 calories.
  3. Make an omelet with one whole egg and two egg whites instead of three whole eggs. Calories saved – 125.
  4. Try turkey sausage instead of pork and save another 125 calories.
  5. Instead of mayonnaise, use hummus or mustard on your roll and cut 200 calories.
  6. Trade your french fries for a salad and save 300 calories.
  7. Try tortilla chips with salsa instead of potato chips dipped in a sour cream-based dip; it’ll save you 109 calories.
  8. Try replacing oil in your favorite baked dessert with applesauce; four tablespoons of applesauce is 40 calories while two tablespoons of oil is 200. Plus you’ll add more flavor to your dessert.
  9. Use 4 ounces of fat-free half-and-half in your coffee instead of regular cream and save 88 calories.
  10. Eat 1/2 cup of oatmeal instead of a full 1-cup serving; calories saved: 150.
  11. Substitute 1.5 ounces of raisins for fresh grapes and save 98 calories.
  12. Snack on baked potato chips instead of the fried ones; save 90 calories for a 1-ounce serving.
  13. Put 3 ounces of mozzarella cheese on your sandwich instead of Swiss and save 108 calories.
  14. Swap out Alfredo sauce for marinara sauce- 129 calories saved.
  15. Eat 1 cup of frozen yogurt instead of ice cream.
  16. On your salad, eat either croutons or cheese, but not both and save over 100 calories.
  17. For something different, eat 1/2 cup of fresh strawberries topped with 2 ounces of fat-free whipped cream instead of 1/2 cup of strawberry ice cream and avoid eating 102 calories.
  18. Portion Control: The size of your plate makes a big difference on the number of calories you consume. Trick your mind into thinking you have more food than you do by using a 9-inch instead of a 12-inch plate. On average you can save up to 500 calories.
  19. Do you tend to go back for another helping when finished with the first? You still can, but first wait 20 minutes. Most likely won’t go back and if you do, you’ll take less.
  20. When eating out, it is harder to control portions, however, not impossible. Because restaurant portions are significantly larger, eat smart by leaving a fourth of your meal on your plate. Look up the nutritional information before leaving the house. Studies found people ate 52 fewer calories when they knew the nutritional information before ordering.

Cutting calories is easy when you know how to make intelligent substitutions and control portion size. Take charge of your eating with these suggestions.

Reduce Calories in Deserts

This is how to reduce calories in some of your favorite deserts.

Desserts don’t have to be loaded with calories (and fat) to taste great. There are many alterations or substitutions you can make to your current recipes, and still have them taste great. Here are four changes you can make that your family won’t even notice.

Reduce Calories with Yogurt

Low or non-fat yogurt is a great substitute for high fat ingredients used in baking such as shortening, oil, butter and sour cream. Not only does it cut fat and calories, but it adds a creamy texture. If your recipe calls for 1 cup of butter, use 1/2 cup or butter and 1/4 cup of yogurt. Replace 1 cup of shortening or oil with 1/2 cup shortening or oil, 1/4 cup yogurt plus 2 tablespoons.

Reduce Calories with a Sugar Blend

A part of a healthy lifestyle, many people are switching over to natural sweeteners derived from the Stevia plant. While 20 times sweeter than sugar, it has 0 calories. If you use pure stevia, then use at the ration of 6 packets to 1/4 cup of granulated sugar or follow the package directions.

Some companies have created a stevia/granulated sugar blend. Use it at the replacement ratio of 1/2 cup of sugar blend per 1 cup of sugar. You still get the great taste of sugar, but with only half the calories and it is all natural.

Reduce Calories with Applesauce

For sweeter quick breads, muffins and cakes along with a creamier texture, substitute applesauce for butter. In most recipes, you can do a one-for-one swap. Use unsweetened applesauce measured in a measuring cup made for measuring liquids. When using applesauce as a replacement, mix the other liquid ingredients into the applesauce, then add in the sugar and finally fold in the dry ingredients. Mix only until well combined. Do not shorten up the baking time.

Reduce Calories with Whole Wheat Flour

White whole wheat flour is a great substitute in recipes calling for all-purpose or white flour. Replace half of the flour requirement with whole wheat flour. While white flour is highly refined and has many of the nutrients taken out in the process, whole wheat flour still contains the wheat seed, germ and bran, making it much more nutritious.

By using healthy substitutes, such as whole wheat flour in place of regular flour, yogurt in place of butter, applesauce in place of oil, and reducing the sugar in your recipes, you can turn your calorie-laden desserts into something healthy, and more than likely your family will not notice the difference.

3 Hidden Calorie Traps

Here's how to avoid these hidden calorie traps.

You may be consuming many more calories than you think. They are hidden in all kinds of foods … many of which you would never know were high in calories.

Three of the big culprits are:

  • sugar
  • alcoholic drinks
  • salad dressings

Hidden Calorie Traps with Sugar

Sugar can have addicting properties. Once you eat something high in sugar, your blood sugar spikes, triggering an insulin release to neutralize the excessive sugar. But what usually happens is the pancreas overcompensates and your blood sugar plummets. To get your blood sugar back to normal, your body signals your brain to eat something sweet. And the cycle starts all over again. In the process, you are consuming large number of sugar calories – a simple carbohydrate.

Another place to watch your sugar is with something as innocuous as coffee. At 15 calories per packet, adding a couple of packets of sugar to your coffee can add up if you drink three or four cups per day. And that doesn’t even consider the 20 calories per teaspoon in the half and half that to your coffee.

Hidden Calorie Traps in Alcoholic Drinks

Around the holiday season, it is easy to overindulge. At seven calories per gram of wine, a 5 ounce serving has 124 calories. Three servings, not hard to do while at a party, provides a women with over 20% of her daily calorie requirement.

And the calories in alcohol are only half the story. Alcohol also lowers your food defenses so you are more apt to eat more snacks and other unhealthy options than you would have had you not been drinking. All and all, it can add up to a disaster calorie-wise. Instead, eat a healthy meal before consuming alcohol. Sip your drink to make it last longer and you’ll be apt to drink less. Another trick is to add some soda water to your drink. It increases the volume of liquid without adding any calories.

Hidden Calorie Traps in Salad Dressings

While the vegetables and meat in a salad are healthy themselves, you have to be careful of the dressing you put on it; most dressings are loaded with calories. Balsamic vinaigrette is a good option; be sure to ask for it on the side so you can control how much you put on. For a change, try dipping a fork full of salad in the dressing instead of pouring it on. You still get the great taste, but actually use very little dressing.

By knowing about the hidden calories in sugar, alcoholic drinks and salad dressings, you can be more aware of just how many calories you are actually consuming. Knowing is half the battle; the other half is doing.

2 Low Calorie Deserts

Here's how to make low calorie deserts.

Desserts don’t have to be loaded with calories (and fat) to taste great. There are many low calories recipes that won’t add to your waistline, but still taste great. These two desserts recipes are just a sampling of how recipes can be altered to make them healthy, yet still taste great:

Low Calorie Mandel Bread

How modified:

  • vegetable oil replaced with canola oil
  • sugar reduced by one-fourth
  • dark chocolate chips substituted for semisweet ones
  • one-third of all-purpose flour replaced with white whole wheat flour


  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup dark-chocolate chips


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside. Together mix granulated sugar and oil in a large bowl; fold in eggs and vanilla until well mixed. In a separate bowl, combine flours and baking powder. Add flour/baking powder combination to egg mixture, along with chocolate chips and mix well. Form the dough on the cookie sheet into three 9-inch-long logs; flatten each to 2 inches wide.
  2. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes. Angle cut into 1/2-inch thick slices. Arrange slices on cookie sheet and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until browned. Place on a wire rack to cool.

Healthy Low Calorie Savings:

  • Cut 22 calories and 2 g carbohydrate; added 1 g fiber.
  • New nutrition facts per slice: 123 calories, 1g protein, 15g carbohydrate, 8g fat (2g saturated), 1g fiber
  • Makes 36 slices

Low Calorie Snickerdoodle Cookies

How Modified:

  • Replaced half of flour with white whole-wheat flour
  • Reduced butter by half; added yogurt as butter substitute
  • Reduced sugar by one-fourth


  • 1 cup natural, plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon


  1. In a medium bowl, mix together flours, cream of tartar and baking soda. In a separate bowl, mix butter and yogurt 30 seconds; add 1 cup granulated sugar. Beat until combined; scrape sides of bowl occasionally. Fold in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour mixture as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour mixture. Divide the dough in half. Wrap and chill dough for 2 hours, or until easy to handle.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly spray cookie sheets with cooking spray. Mix together 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll dough into 1-inch small balls and roll the balls in the sugar mixture. Place balls about 1 inch apart on cookie sheets. Flatten balls slightly, if desired.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Remove and cool on wire racks.

Healthy Low Calorie Savings:

  • Cut 22 calories, 2g carbohydrate, and 2g saturated fat; added 1g protein, 0.5g fiber.
  • New nutrition facts per cookie: 70 calories, 1g protein, 11g carbohydrate, 2g fat (1g saturated), 0.5g fiber
  • Makes 48 cookies

By using healthy substitutes, such as white whole wheat flour in place of regular flour, yogurt in place of butter, and reducing the sugar in your recipes, you can turn your calorie-laden desserts into something healthy, and more than likely your family will not notice the difference. Next, we’ll take a look at some hidden calorie traps but go ahead and experiment and see how you can rehab your recipes to make them into low calorie deserts.

Diet for Building Muscle

Be sure to add protien into your diet for building muscles.

When you workout, you’ll want to incorporate a good diet for building muscles. But what exactly constitutes a “good diet for building muscle” anyway?

For some people the only adjustments they’ll need to make is to add in additional calories. Those calories need to come from food sources that are proven to build muscles. Common names are high protein diets and weight gain diets. So, it’s not as simple as just adding in additional calories; you need the right kind of calories that also provide much needed nutrients that aid in cell rejuvenation and muscle development.

The Purpose of a Diet for Building Muscles

The entire reason to adopt a diet for building muscles is to make sure that your are providing your muscles with the proper nutrients they need when they are being worked, torn down and in recovery. The nutrients that you feed your muscles will have a direct impact on how quickly and how effectively repair and build up.

Your purpose is to gain weight in the muscle department but at the same time you want to be careful that the calories you are adding are not going to pack the fat on. Nothing can hide muscle definition, and your hard workouts, more than excess body fat.

How Do You Know What a Good Diet for Building Muscle is?

A rigorous weight training workout schedule is taxing on your entire body. By making sure that you fuel your body with the right nutrients you will be helping ensure that you have the energy to start and finish your workout as well as the ability to repair your muscle afterwards.

Since your body uses the protein that you consume to build muscles, you need to eat enough lean protein such as salmon, trout, halibut, cod, eggs, chicken and lean servings of beef, pork or buffalo. These lower fat foods will help you get the protein calories you need while helping you to avoid packing on body fat.

Most people that want to put on weight should eat 500 calories more each day, some a little more, some a little less by 500 calories extra a day equates to about a pound a week in body weight gain. We’re talking about muscle weight gain here so you need those extra calories to be primarily protein.

If you find it hard to eat more protein foods, you can always reach for protein supplements or meal replacement shakes. A couple of shakes a day mixed with milk can easily get you to those 500 calories in extra protein a day mark.

What is The Single Best Diet for Building Muscle Mass?

Due to the fact that people’s body’s and food choices are so entirely different, it’s hard to recommend any one single diet for building muscles. You must have the additional protein but you must also have the many nutrients your body needs everyday. For example, you can’t use protein powders for meal replacement because mostly all that they provide is the protein. You would need a meal replacement shake in this case that provides the many different nutrients your body needs.

A good way to find what works best for you is to experiment a little and try different ones every two weeks or so and see how your body is responding. You can learn more about your choices and what to look for in the article “Why Protein Intake for Building Muscles” and look at for more information on protein, supplements, muscle building and fitness in general.