Tips for a simple, quick and healthy meal

Recently, a modern lifestyle seems to equal a busy or flexible schedule. A lot of people do not enjoy spending too much time in the kitchen, even women. Many do not take interest in complex, gourmet, restaurant-quality dishes; they only want something enough to fill the stomach, give them enough energy to work. A lot of people want to have simple and quick meals, which do not take much time to prepare, to cook and to eat.

vegetarian

However, a simple and quick meal does not have to be an unhealthy meal. Do not just go for takeout, processed or fast foods all the time, no matter how busy you are. Spare a few minutes for the kitchen since there are homemade stuffs that do not require much time and skills and still do you good. Here are things you can try:

Choose salad as the main dish:

Salads (http://www.cookinglight.com/food/quick-healthy/20-minute-salad-recipes) are very easy to eat and to make. Still, they are light, cool and delicious and can be as nutritious as you want them to be. The main ingredients are salad greens. You can have spinach as an alternative.

To prepare, just wash the salad or spinach and put them all in a bowl. Add ingredients to your likings and toss. You can have different kinds of dressings such as vinaigrette, ranch dressing or Italian dressings. Some of them you can buy in bottles. Add whatever you like such as carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, boiled chickens or shrimps, toss and dig in.

Go for precooked meats:

Nowadays, understanding the need for quick meal, supermarkets and grocery delis have a variety of precooked meats for you to choose from. You can buy a whole roasted chicken or turkeys or fried chicken wings or grilled chicken breasts. You can even get precooked beefs or shrimps if you want. Since meats are the kings of the whole meals, you can save a lot of time if you buy them precooked, though they might not be cooked the way you’d like.

Be a vegetarian:

Since preparing meats takes a lot of time, you can just skip that part. Vegetarian (http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/quick-veggie) foods are faster to cook, lighter to eat and everybody wants some changes after going from KFCs to McDonalds, from pork to beef, from seafood to birds.

Beans, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and beansprouts are good choices. You can have the ingredients processed beforehand to save more time. Soya-cake is also recommended.

Go for stove-top meals:

salad_recipes_prytuAs you can see from all the recommendations in those stove and induction cooktop reviews, with the advanced technology, you can prepare food in a much easier, simpler and safer way. Go with a non-stick frying pan if you want to save the washing time too.

You can make omelets to eat with cucumbers, a few spinach leaves and tomatoes. If you have some cooked rice left from the last meals, try frying them with added ingredients such as eggs, peas or seaweeds. You can also make sandwiches for a quick eating and no washing needed.

Keep in mind that quick meals are the reasons why we have microwaves:

With a microwave, you can prepare or reheat foods at a much faster speed. You can go for nachos by putting tortilla chips, canned beans, cheese, tomatoes, onions, chickens all on a plate (it should be safe to use for a microwave, though) and cook for no more than 2 minutes on high.

With a microwave, you can use to heat quite a variety of canned foods or leftover foods. Combine them wisely so that you can have a delicious meal. Just keep in minds that containers like dishes and bowls have to be microwave-safe and there are things that are not meant to be put in microwaves, eggs for example.

Conclusion:

Nowadays, with the technology of induction and electronics, you can make foods very quickly and still pay attention to the nutrients and health benefits. Just remember that you do not have to choose between the twos: health or convenience. Get rid of the ideas that breakfast should be the only quick meal of a day. Quite the contrary, you have to take extra care with breakfast and go light with the others.

Be smart with your food selections if you decide on a simple and fast meal. And keep in mind that you cannot ask for restaurant-quality food when you go for simplicity, quickness and homemade products. You can always go to a restaurant instead.

Common mistakes with breakfast you should avoid

eat-breakfastBreakfast is the first and the most important meal of a day. It provides you with energy which has been drained from you since last night’s dinner. Since morning is a busy time, many people do not have as much regard for breakfast as its importance deserves. There are many who go as far as skipping breakfast, which does not do them any good since they will be working on no energy at all.

According to nutritionists and doctors’ advices, breakfast should consist of many groups of foods: grain, lean meat, vegetables, dairy and fruit. There are many people who get the wrong ideas about breakfast, which do them harm. Here is the list of some common mistake that you should avoid.

Eating breakfast long after waking up:

5851279-fastfoodThere is usually a lot of work in the morning. You have to brush your teeth, iron your clothes, tidy yourself up and maybe help your kids dress up and take them to school. Still, you have to get to work in time. Therefore, many people only eat breakfast after finishing all that stuffs or eat in the break at workplaces, which only happens more than 2 hours after they leave their beds.

That is not good, for eating too late mess up your body’s biorhythm, which does harm to your digestion system (your stomach, to be specific) and makes you lose your appetite for lunch.

Therefore, you should eat breakfast 30 minutes – 1 hour after waking up. There should be 4 to 5 hours between breakfast time and lunch time so that the food has time to be digested properly.

Only drink milk for breakfast:

milkA glass of milk cannot be considered a breakfast. Though milk companies usually advertise their products as an alternative to a full meal with all the necessary nutrients, you should not believe it, especially if you are a parent. Since kids can be quite picky and making them eat can take a lot of time, many parents let them drink milk instead, thinking that way is still enough and much more convenient.

According to nutritionists, you should only drink meal after finishing your real breakfast when you are no longer hungry. Drinking milk with an empty stomach can make you feel tired and unwell. Also, the strong spasm of an empty stomach makes almost all the milk go to the intestines undigested.

Eating fast food or snacks:

fast-food-hamburgerMany moms have in the cupboards at home boxes of cookies, snacks or quickly buy some hamburgers or French fries on the way to their kids’ schools. They think that those fast foods (http://www.beliefnet.com/Wellness/Health/Healthy-Living/10-Ways-to-Avoid-Eating-Fast-Food.aspx) and snacks are quick to get and easy to eat for kids.

However, these kinds of foods come with lots of energy but lacking in the department of vitamins and minerals. They are quite the burden for the stomach to bear in the morning. Therefore, if choosing fast foods for a convenient and fast breakfast, you should add some kinds of fruits or vegetables soup to the meal. An apple will do, too.

Keeping it simple with just one or 2 things:

Almost everybody thinks that breakfast should be as fast as possible. Considering the busy schedule of a day, of course nobody will want to spend more time than the least possible. However, a breakfast should include many groups of foods: lean meat, dairy, vegetables, fruit.

Here is some basic knowledge about the kinds of nutrients different groups of foods will provide:

  • Protein (http://www.rd.com/slideshows/high-protein-breakfast-ideas/) and iron is included in foods such as lean meat, fish, eggs and different kinds of peas and beans. Protein is the main things that will make you feel full. Iron is the key element of hemoglobin. Lack of iron will lead to lack of blood, which will make you feel dizzy, hard to concentrate. The symptoms can be worse for women.
  • Carbohydrates can be found in rice, congee, potatoes and noodles… Carbohydrates are the main source of your body’s energy for all your work and activities.
  • Fruit and vegetables provide you with vitamins and fiber.
  • Dairy foods contain many essential vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and calcium.

Conclusion:

Overall, you should never ever skip breakfast, even when you are on a diet or trying to lose weight (6 things every woman should know about losing weight). Vegetables and fruit are highly recommended for women who are working towards a slimmer body.

You should consider making breakfast at home. Homemade foods are always safer, more delicious and of higher quality. You should prepare the ingredients beforehand so that you can make breakfast quickly (http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/healthy-meals/breakfast-to-go). Do not go for something which contains much fat. Fruit and vegetables are indispensable.

6 things every woman should know about losing weight

Every woman desire an ideal figure but many find that their figure is far from being their ideal. Therefore, losing weight has become many women’s every day’s battle. If you are one of those that set achieving a slimmer body a long-term goal, you must have known that the road to that goal is tough and full of obstacle. There is a high chance that you have tried asking all around, applying all kinds of methods and yet that goal still seems so far and unattainable.

If you have experienced the terrible feeling of standing on a scale after a long period of harsh refraining and strict discipline and finding out that your weight has not reached what you have set out to reach, then these below tips might help you get over it and achieve your goal successfully.

1. Losing weight is never a straight road:

Weight-Loss-1Even when you have gone for the right method and constantly followed it through, you still can get your weight to decline steadily as you have scheduled it to. There is a high chance that you will gain some weight losses then the next time there is no loss but weight. That tiring and stressful cycle can keep repeating a few times before you can reach the weight you want.

There is a perfectly logical reason to what you experience during the process of losing weight: because of your period. Before women have their periods, the level of serotonin in their bodies will be lower than usual. That is when you tend to feel appetitive and therefore eat more than you want to. That is something researchers have proved through countless researches.

As a result, your weight will kind of fluctuate through times. You should know that our system tend to protect ourselves against losing weights more than against gaining weights. That is the reason why your weight cannot decrease as quickly as you desire and you can get frustrated when you feel your struggle is futile.

2. You have to be ready to face failure

Losing weight does not come easily and simply through eating less and exercising more. You will have to experience the feeling of not being able to attain what you want after so much difficulty and trying. However, you should never lose sight of yourself and what you are after. Do not be so harsh on yourself when you experience some setbacks.

You should never let yourself feel defeated and give up. That depressing feeling of being defeated can lead you to gain even more weight than when you first start your trial.

3. Go easy on yourself

Weight-Loss1Women who want to lose weight usually push themselves too hard. They put themselves under constant pressure of not being able to afford failure. Sometimes, they even pour criticizing and negative comment on themselves. That is not going to get you anywhere besides hurting yourself.

A too strict, unnecessarily strict diet and schedule is very hard to follow through. Therefore, you should not raise the bar too high then blame yourself when you are not up to the challenge. Do not think that your resolve is too weak. Do not deprive yourself of just a little bit of sweetness when life gets hard. You should be more forgiving towards yourself.

First and foremost, you have to learn to love and treasure yourself. Just by really taking care of yourself, you can get your desired result.

4. Outsiders can sometimes tempt you into a regrettable act:

That is a very common thing that women who are trying to lose weight experience. While many people tries to encourage you by saying that you look fine, you seem to have lost some weight already… there are many people, may be not so heartlessly but carelessly tempt you into regrettable acts. They might say that just a bit is fine, ask you to accompany them when they are out eating or invite you to some kind of buffet party…

You have to be ready to say no to such offer. Do not be afraid that you will offend them. If they really care for you, they will definitely understand. Supportive family members and friends are important to a success.

5. Be careful of your eating habit:

understanding-your-choices-when-it-comes-to-products-to-help-lose-weight-fastYou have to pay extra attention to the amount of calories each kind of meals contain and the options you should take when choosing food. Many people have the habit of eating sweet stuffs when they feel sad or rejected. Chocolate is a popular choice for hard times when people feel down. Or maybe you always love an afternoon snack to cheer you up in-between work.

This is time you try to prevent yourself from those habits. Get your friends and families to remind you to steer away from in-between meal or midnight snack (http://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Snacking-Between-Meals). Try to cheer yourself up with the company of your friends or a book or a movie or a song, not food. You might be surprised that there are so many better choices.

6. Get enough sleep:

Staying up too late at night can result in your body secreting more ghrelin, which is a hormone that makes you feel hungry. In the end, you will eat more that you need to. Lack of sleep obstructs fat loss progress and results in lean body mass loss, which very harmful to your health. Getting enough sleep means you will feel happier and easier to refrain from getting all those tempting cakes and candies.

Conclusion:

Everybody wants to go the easy way. However, there is no easy way for you to lose your weight healthily. You have to understand that losing weight is a long-term struggle. If you can lose weight effectively with the right method, you can control your weight better after the process and avoid regaining weight.

Tips For Individuals Who Are New To Exercise

Teenagers often spend time hanging out with friends rather than stay at home and do exercises. For individuals who obsesses to have a perfect body, it’s time to start the habit of working out regularly. Try to maintain the practicing process can be overwhelming to most beginners.

You will find yourself drought among pieces of information about how to work out effectively. Others may intend to skip their meals to get thinner. However, it is important to keep in mind small tips when getting in this situation. Check out these principles below to maintain your exercising level throughout the whole process.

workout

Maintain daily habits

For example, your goal is to lose about 20 pounds in half a year; however, just do various types of exercise in one day won’t reduce all the weight out of your body. Do not sit at one place and wait for amazing results. Try to maintain the habits day by day and you will see the difference.
Some people tend to find new practices and chance it every day during the practicing process. In fact, it is good when you can add up a variety of workouts gradually. Exercising is not only working out with various activities, but improving the quality of your practices as well.

2. Create a 70/30 principle

According to the 70-30 principle, 70% is the effort that you have put to improve the body, 30% is the time you spent to achieve that goals.
In fitness, just follow this 70-30 principle . Instead of trying to do different methods that you came across from the internet, only pay attention to parts which give you the best result. In addition, think about what should be done to provide the 70% of your results. Therefore, all you have to do is pick out the activities that worth all your effort.

Healthy eating

eat-healthy

Eating healthy does not mean you have to limit strictly all the food or force yourself to stay away from the food your favorite dishes. Moreover, it is about the great amount of energy you will get without strictly follow the diet plan.

If individual begins to confuse among different diet plan and nutritious food on the internet, they are not alone. In fact, every expert will suggest which plan is good for you and you will find other information which is opposite. Therefore, the great way to deal with this situation is pick up tips that suitable to your health and body.

Sleep enough

When not having enough sleep, it will affect the hormones and mood. And if you stay up late at nights, you tend to feel hungry which results in eating too much. For women and girls who want to lose weight, sleep is one of the effective methods.

Before participating in a practicing program, make sure you sleep enough. Individual will get best results if they also focus on resting and relaxing. There are many ways for you to sleep easier include:

• Reading a book. Remember not to read kindle on your phone or IPad, using electronic materials will make people find it hard to get into sleep.
• Turn off all the light to create a sense of comfort
• Try mediating for approximately 10 minutes before going to bed.

Implement a workout program at home

spin-bikeSome people may love circuit training or weight lifting to build all the muscular parts. However, others want to do simple and low-impact activities at home. It is very good because you don’t have to worry about the weather, schedule or even your budget.

Absolutely, all you need is one exercising machine to workout in your leisure time. For example, spin bike, elliptical or treadmill. My husband bought Keiser M3 Plus last year and I find this spin bike easy to use and really effective. It’s also one of the best spin bikes for beginners like me. Btw, thanks for my husband for this awesome gift :*.

Don’t compare yourself with others

People often compare themselves with athletes or fitness models on the magazines. All they want is to get a sexy body like these people. A perfect appearance is great. However, focus on getting a healthy lifestyle instead of these sexy bodies. This won’t create a sense of exhaustion and giving up during the practicing process.

Begin a practicing plan is a little challenging. However, if you know how to work out effectively, you will definitely love it. And one of the most important things is to maintain this habits in order to get good results in the future.

Leaner, not lighter: why you need to rethink your beliefs about dieting before you start

fatThe old view of weight control was simple: People get fat because they eat too much, and they eat too much because they have a psychological problem with food. They overeat when they’re depressed, excited, anxious, distracted or simply bored. If they could only learn new eating habits–take smaller portions, eat more slowly, stop their mindless munching–they’d lose weight. It’s a neat, strainforward concept with just one flaw: It isn’t true.

Over the last several years, physicians, psychologists and physiologists have teamed up to develop a new understanding of what makes people fat or thin. They’ve found, for starters, that an individual’s weight has more to do with biology than with psychology. If you’ve had a long-term problem, it’s probably not because you have a deep, neurotic need to stuff yourself. More likely, you simply have a built-in tendency to be fatter than you’d like.

This doesn’t mean it’s futile to try to reduce. In this case, anatomy isn’t destiny; in fact, mind over matter, or more to the point, mind over body, is very much within the realm of possibility. By setting realistic goals and modifying your views about food and exercise, you may well be able to reach a weight you’re more comfortable with. But the standard brute-force approach — simply making yourself eat fewer calories — is probably the least effective thing you can do.

For one thing, when you lose weight by eating less, more than a third of the loss can reflect reduction of muscle, not fat. You’ll be lighter, but you won’t be equivalently less flabby. For this reason, many experts now reject the concept of weight control entirely. Fat control is the new model: Add exercise to your diet regimen, and you’ll become leaner as you replace fat iwth muscle tissue. Your body will be sleeker and more toned. You won’t necessarily be lighter, because the muscle you’ll add weighs more than the fat you’ll lose. But you will lose inches and may well be able to trade in your current wardrobe for one in a smaller size. Improved appearance and health, you’ll find, don’t always correlate with a reading on a scale.

Separating Fat from Fiction

Speaking of scales, if you’ve always assumed the number of calories you eat dictates the numbers on the dial, consider this: Two recent studies show absolutely no connection between caloric intake and body weight. One, from Harvard University Medical School, surveyed the weight and eating habits of 141 middle-aged women; the other, done at Standord University, monitored 155 middle-aged men.

Both investigations involved sedentary, overweight people, so they were measuring differences in degrees of fatness. But other studies have shown that even people of vastly different weights don’t necessarily consume different numbers of calories. the apparently obvious fact that fat people eat more than thin ones is simply not true.

Dieters who’ve starved themselves for years with cottage cheese and grapefruit for dinner will find the notion that calories don’t make you fat as remarkable as the idea that money won’t make you rich. How can it be true?

For one thing, it’s not just the calories you take in but the calories you burn away that count. A marathon runner on 3,000 calories a day will obviously be skinnier than a couch potato on the same diet. In fact, some experiments have shown that lean people, as a group, tend to eat more than fat people — but stay slim because they’re more active.

There’s increasing evidence, too, that the kinds of calories you eat, more than the sheer number, may have a big impact. Calories consumed as fat are converted into fat on the body more readily than the same number of calories consumed as carbohydrate or protein. In other words, 100 calories of butter (a tablespoon) are more likely to go to your hips than 100 calories of whole-wheat bread (about 2 slices). Both the Harvard and Stanford studies show that people who eat a large proportion of their calories as fat tend to be heavier than those who eat relatively less fat.

But it’s also become clear that two people can have virtually identical diets and exercise habits — eat the same number of calories and the same amount of fat, log the same number of hours jogging or watching TV — and one may still be much fatter than the other. The difference is in the genes.

No one, of course, has genes that command “152 pounds” as precisely as other genes code for “blue eyes” or “long fingers.” But heredity does seem to dictate the way our bodies respond to food and exercise. This biological view has gained increasing acceptance in the last few years. Indeed, it has forced psychologists to change their whole concept of weight control.

Fat as Psychic Conflict, Fat as Bad Habits

Back in the ’50s, in the heyday of psychoanalysis, being overweight was viewed as a problem that began in the head. Many therapists believed that people overate (and got fat) out of deep-seated chronic anxiety, insecurity or repressed sexual needs. (One theory even held that eating, as a substitute for sex, represented a search for the “alimentary orgasm” — whatever that was.) But the “my-id-made-me-eat-it” theme began to lose favor in the ’60s. By then, several studies had made it clear that fat people are no more neurotic than thin ones and, in fact, may even be better adjusted.

As Freudian theories waned, the behavioral approach to weight control was coming on strong. Assuming that people gain weight by eating in response to the wrong stimuli — for example, eating when they’re watching TV, or bored, or worried — Richard Stuart and other behavior therapists trained their clients to break these associations and eat only in response to true hunger. At least, that was the idea, and it seemed to work. In 1967 Stuart reported that people on his program shed an average of 40 pounds apiece in one year, making it about the most effective weight-loss treatment around.

Just as Stuart’s star was rising, a new theory came along that bolstered his approach even more. A series of clever and well-publicized experiments at Columbia University, done by social psychologist Stanley Schachter and his colleagues, gave birth to what was called the externality hypothesis. Their research showed that overweight people are more likely to eat in response to “external” cues — a clock that says it’s dinnertime, a plate piled with food — rather than their bodies’ own hunger signals.

The message was clear: If people can learn to change their response to external cues and let themselves be guided by their internal hunger, then they should lose weight. A number of behavior-therapy techniques, which have become familiar to a whole generation of dieters, are designed to help people do just that. “Put food on a smaller plate, so it looks like a larger portion.” “Eat in one room of the house only.” Plus, of course, “Learn to eat more slowly” (although the link between eating fast and gaining weight is speculative at best).

Behaviorism on Trial

But this sensible-sounding advice hasn’t worked very well. Stuart’s early, dramatic results were not duplicated by other therapists using identical techniques. People have lost weight using purely behavioral approaches, of course, but rarely 40 pounds — and just like people who lose weight with liquid diets, jaw-wiring or other techniques, they tend to gain it back.

So staying thin is not just a matter of linking the right response to the right stimulus. University of Pennsylvania psychiatrist Albert Stunkard, a major weight-control theorist who’s been studying the subject for more than 30 years, says the trouble isn’t with the behavior therapy but with the problem it’s supposed to solve. “If you look at the behavioral treatment of problems like phobias, it’s very effective,” he says. “The hope was that it would be the same with obesity. The original idea was that you got fat because you eat wrong; we’ll teach you to eat right, and you won’t be fat. But that’s clearly not true.”

Stunkard now recognizes that “there must be a very powerful biological pressure against losing weight.” It’s especially clear in people who have a serious weight problem and resort to a very-low-calorie (VLC) diet (well under 1,000 calories a day), like Oprah Winfrey’s Optifast regimen.

People who rely solely on a VLC diet, says Stunkard, generally gain back about two-thirds of their pounds within a year. Intense behavior therapy can help people cut that in half — a moderately encouraging result. “The bad news,” he says, “is that we now have a three-year follow-up, and things really fall apart at three years. By that time, 40% have regained all their weight and therefore reenter treatment programs.” Even those who do not return for treatment gain back, on average, all but 10 pounds of the weight they’ve lost.

The Rise of the Setpoint Theory

Clearly, such psychological approaches to weight loss are flawed because they make universal assumptions about the causes of obesity and people’s responsiveness to learning and maintaining a new eating style. Today, many researchers believe each of us has an individual “setpoint” for fatness. According to this theory, a combination of largely genetic factors — including the number of fat cells in your body and your metabolic responses — conspire to “set” a level of fatness that’s natural for you. (To figure your setpoint, think of the weight you maintain when eating normally — or the weight to which you spontaneously return after a diet attempt.) The setting isn’t absolute; you may be able to lose 10 or 20 pounds without too much trouble.

But if your setpoint is around 180 pounds and you diet yourself down to 140, your body will fight to get back to 180, regardless of whether your’ve reduced by using behavior therapy, a diet book or simple willpower. You’ll become hungier, not because you have a neurotic need to eat more, but because your body can’t tell the difference between a diet and starvation and is making you hungry for the calories you’ve been missing. At the same time, your body changes metabolically: To outlast the famine, your body attempts to conserve fuel by burning fewer calories, thus making it easier to regain weight.

The biology of weight control helps explain another problem facing behavior therapists: The externality hypothesis, which seemed like the perfect rationale for their treatment, has evaporated. By the mid-’70s, psychologists were finding that fat and thin people eat pretty much the same way: They’re equally likely to eat food they don’t really need (like that second piece of chocolate cake) when it’s put in front of them. Chronic dieters, however, whether fat or thin, do eat differently from people who don’t go on diets habitually: They’re less sensitive to true hunger pangs, more sensitive to external cues, and more likely to lose control of their eating.

The setpoint theory explains why. Going on a diet is a way of denying the body, of consciously fighting your own instincts to eat. When you cut calories, you’re making yourself ignore your body’s hunger signals and laying yourself open to temptations that can break your resolve. Paradoxically, a diet is the surest way to set yourself up for a binge.

How Dieting Can Make You Fatter

diet-makes-fatClearly, diets often fail to work. But the problem is worse than that. Recently researches have been focusing on the “yoyo syndrome,” where weight goes down, up, down, up . . . as people alternate between losing pounds and gaining them back. This pattern, it turns out, may permanently alter metabolism, making it increasingly difficult to lose with each successive diet. What’s more, repeatedly shifting your metabolic gears can have dangerous effects, ranging from high blood pressure to a rise in your ratio of fat to muscle.

The yo-yo threat has one clear implication: If you’re thinking of losing weight, you’d better be serious about it — because if you regain what you’ve lost, you may be worse off than before. So you have to approach weight control in a realistic, pragmatic way.

For the vast majority of us who are not dangerously obese, drugs and special crash diets aren’t really necessary. The standard treatment — as it’s practiced, for example, at many university-based weight-loss clinics — is behavior oriented but very different from the former methods of behavior therapy. New-style weight-control therapists recognize that although psychology doesn’t explain why a person gets fat, it can be used to help him or her lose weight and stick to a goal. Rather than just learning a few standard techniques, like taking small servings and chewing slowly, people in these programs learn varied, comprehensive tools for changing their way of life.

The Winning Combination

The surest approach to weight control, it should be clear by now, is to combine fat and calorie reduction with exercise. This many even help people with significant obesity.

At Laval University in Quebec, Claude Bouchard and his colleagues put 50 obese women on a strenuous exercise program for 14 months. Although they became fitter, they lost very little weight. But when Bouchard then put some of the women on a low-fat diet at the same time, they lost weight “dramatically.”

This was not a crash diet by any definition. The women still got about 20% of their calories from fat, but that’s roughly half the Canadian and U.S. national average. “Most people,” says Bouchard, “can do that.” The women had cut their total caloric intake by only 100 to 150 calories a day.

Most successful weight-loss programs stress the importance of exercise and teach clients how to incorporate fat-burning aerobic workouts into their daily activities. These programs preach reducing calorie intake, too (calories may not make you fat, but eating fewer, combined with exercise, can make you thinner), with a special emphasis placed on cutting back on fat.

You needn’t become an amateur nutritionist to reduce the fat in your diet. Reading food labels is helpful, of course. The important thing to know is that each gram of fat (the measure it’s listed in) contains 9 calories. And as you become aware of the problem, you may be able to recognize fat just by taste and texture.

Adam Drewnowski, a University of Michigan nutritionist and director of the school’s Human Nutrition Program, has studied taste preferences in people of different weights. He says that “there is no doubt in people’s minds” when they’re given a fatty food to taste: “They know it’s fattening.” The main exceptions may be foods that are somehow perceived as “health foods” despite their high fat content, such as cheese and nuts. It’s not hard to find acceptable substitutes for much of the fat in your diet (for more on this, see “The Triumphant Dieter,” page 48).

Do you Really Need to Lose Weight?

While the women in Bouchard’s experiment needed to lose weight because their health was att risk, we’ve all been conditioned to think that thinner is better. For men as well as women, our society’s standards of beauty, while by no means universal, decree that slim individuals are more attractive. We also think being thin is healthier.

But the hazards of overweight, as they apply to most of us, are overblown. And the American preoccupation with thinness, which began in the 1920s, actually started several decades before doctors sounded the warning against being overweight.

Whatever the cultural causes, it’s clear that millions of people — especially women — are dieting for reason that have nothing to do with health. Statistics show that dieters tend to be relatively young and college-educated, precisely the people who are least likely to be overweight.

According to generally accepted medical standards, people who are less than 20% over the standard height/weight charts are at relatively little medical risk from their poundage. People who are just moderately overweight may still have medical reasons to reduce, but only in certain cases. There’s increasing evidence, for instance, that fat on the abdomen (where men are more likely to gain) is probably riskier to your health than fat on the thighs or hips (where women tend to develop deposits), regardless of overall weight.

To check on your risk level, measure your waist and your hips and divide the first measurement by the second. A waist-to-hip ratio greater than about 0.5 for a woman, or 1.0 for a man, raises the risk of diabetes and heart disease and may be an important reason to start reducing.

You may also need to lose weight if you have a physical problem that’s clearly linked to fatness — mainly high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes or an abnormal insulin response. But even in these cases, just losing 10 to 20 pounds may be enough to improve your health considerably; you don’t have to force yourself to match the standard charts. As Stunkard says, “We’ve had an incredible obsession with getting down to ideal weight. Most people don’t, and the good news is, that’s probably OK.”

Therefore, people who aren’t at risk from fatness — in other words, most of us — have the option of doing nothing about our weight at all. For those with a natural tendency to be a little heavy, this option may be especially tempting. The critical thing, whether you try to lose a little weight, a lot of weight, or no weight at all, is to realize the choice is yours.

Exercise and Activity – The Joys and Benefits of Getting Into Shape

With each passing year, it gets harder to start – and stick with – an exercise program. Joints and muscles aren’t as flexible as they used to be. We get winded faster because lung capacity declines. Often there’s a lifetime of sedentary habits to overcome. Several years ago, a study of people age 65 or over showed that the strongest predictor of whether participants exercised was their belief that they could do so. It had a greater impact than either health problems or previous exercise habits. Other research has shown that older people exercise less if they are pessimistic about their physical condition and dread a sharp decline as unavoidable.

Healthy aging

Expectations that are too rosy can also be a setup for failure: some age-related physical decline is, in fact, inevitable. Still, extensive research now shows that exercise improves the odds for good health in your 70s, 80s, and 90s – leading to what many now call “successful aging.” It means fewer falls and greater independence. It helps the heart and maybe the brain; studies have shown that people who exercise regularly are happier and more alert. Which is cause and which is effect is a little unclear; happier people may just be more inclined to exercise.

Research highlighting its benefits, combined with an aging American demographic profile, have made these boom times for elder exercise. It’s gone beyond mall walking. Senior citizen centers offer classes in yoga and t’ai chi, as well as the more traditional fare of strength and stretching classes. Exercise videos targeted at people age 65 or over are selling well. In the Boston area, we think we have spotted a trend of older people using health clubs.

Exercise defined

The textbook definition of exercise is a physical activity that is planned, structured, and repetitive with the goal of improving or maintaining physical function. People can stay physically active without exercising, but the car, the appliances, our modern way of life – it all adds up to low activity. Some communities now offer programs and plans to increase the “background” levels of physical activity. For example, planning officials in Olmsted County, Minnesota (where the Mayo Clinic is located), have proposed “smart-growth” zoning that would create neighborhoods laid out to encourage walking to work, school, and shopping.

Goals change

The reason for exercising changes with age. When we’re younger, the emphasis is appropriately on cardiovascular benefits and weight maintenance. Older people experience those benefits, too, but balance and mental health become increasingly important. Falls are a major hazard in the later decades. Each year, 1 in 3 people age 65 or over falls, and 1 in 20 of those falls causes a fracture, usually involving the hip, wrist, arm, or leg. Exercise that’s weight bearing and builds muscle mass can help protect against fractures by increasing bone density. Potential mental health benefits may be especially relevant to people at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia, or just the typical age-related struggles with memory.

tortoise-and-hareExercise tends to reward the tortoises, not the hares. The best results come from starting gradually and keeping at it. Indeed, even light activity provides real benefits early on. For example, the National Institute on Aging says frail, inactive people in their 90s can more than double their strength in a short period by doing simple exercises. In one study, people age 80 or over who were dependent on walkers replaced them with canes after 10 weeks of muscle-building activities.

Start with resistance

Although many people want to begin with aerobic exercise – especially if their goal is to lose weight – for older people it’s often better to start with resistance exercises. If you’ve been sedentary, you can fall during an aerobic activity like running – or even walking – because your muscles are weak and your balance is precarious. But resistance exercise can remedy both of these problems.

Resistance exercise is the only way to slow, and possibly reverse, the decline in muscle mass, bone density, and strength that occurs with aging. For that reason, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that people over age 50 work their arms, legs, shoulders, and torso with weights two to three times a week. Don’t overdo it: you should be able to do 10-15 repetitions of each exercise before the muscle becomes tired. For many people, that means starting out with a 1-pound weight if necessary.

Aerobic exercise shouldn’t be neglected. The standard recommendation is to get 30 minutes of exercise that gets the heart beating faster than normal on most or all days of the week. Brisk walking, defined as a pace of 3-4 miles per hour, is one way to do this. The half-hour can be broken into 10- to 15-minute periods with the same benefit as exercising for a straight 30 minutes.

Stretching before you exercise or play a sport helps prevent injuries. But stretching should be an integral part of an exercise program, not just a quick warm-up activity. In fact, you get the full benefits of stretching if you do it after, rather than before, you’ve exercised. For serious stretching, you might try one of the increasing number of yoga classes specifically for seniors.

Experts have touted swimming and bicycling as great exercises for seniors because they don’t put pressure on joints. But the very thing that makes them attractive is also a drawback. Done at low to moderate intensity, swimming and bicycling don’t create enough resistance to increase bone density. In that respect, walking is better.

Group fitness

group-fitnessIf you exercise by yourself, it’s easy for resolve to fade and fizzle. Signing up for an exercise class may help prevent that from happening. Several years ago, a small British study concluded that older adults who attended aerobics classes became healthier than those assigned to listen to health lectures. When the Health Letter recently interviewed older women attending an exercise class at the Brookline, Mass., Senior Center, they mentioned how much it helped to have a regular time and place to exercise. They were enthusiastic about the support they got from one another and their instructor.

“Strength-training class” could be off-putting because it conjures up images of biceps and barbells. But from what we saw, a strength-training class for seniors is friendly and easygoing, although challenging enough to be invigorating. The seniors that we talked to complained about another class leader who babied them and didn’t push them hard enough. The class included a 90-year-old who regained enough balance after three months to go for short distances without using her walker.

Do-it-yourselfers

All is not lost if you don’t like exercise classes or don’t like the idea of an exercise routine. Some people do better just by incorporating more physical activity into their day-to-day lives. Try parking your car a little farther from the store or walking to your neighbor’s house instead of phoning. These steps don’t have as big an effect as workouts two or three times a week, but they’re a start. Several years ago, a British study underscored the benefits of such light activity. The researchers found that men, ages 40-70, who started doing light housework, gardening, or walking several times a week – or even some activity a bit more like conventional exercise, say, biking or swimming, once a week – reduced their risk for death by 45%-55% over the next 16-18 years.

There’s also the Jane Fonda approach – exercise videos. The National Institute on Aging has one for seniors that shows how you can use household items such as dish towels and chairs, as well as light weights, to help tone and lengthen muscles. It costs $7 and comes with a book offering advice on how to stay motivated, as well as charts and schedules to help you keep track of your progress.

Pleasure should be principal

personal-trainer

For some, exercise is its own reward. Either they feel good doing it or soon afterward. For others it’s a chore or a bore. If you fall into that category, it may be especially important to find a class, an instructor, or a setting for exercise that you enjoy. A personal trainer? That’s not as far-fetched as it might seem. Some health clubs charge about $50 for a one-on-one session, which you can split with a friend, and the price drops if you sign up for a package deal.

Another option is to ease yourself into a way of life that gets you walking and just moving around more often. As the saying goes, a trip of a thousand miles begins with a single step. But if health is your goal, that step shouldn’t be into a waiting automobile.

Types of Exercise

  • Aerobic exercise raises your heart and breathing rates above normal.
  • Resistance exercise builds muscle. It’s called resistance exercise because your muscles are pushing or pulling against something. Walking and running can give you both aerobic and resistance exercise.
  • Stretching helps lengthen tendons and muscles and increase the range of motion of joints.

Losing it: we all know that taking off weight is hard, really hard, and keeping it off is even tougher

Michelle Stacey finds out why it’s such a struggle–and the strategic moves that make a difference. (Minding Your Body)

ON JANUARY 1, 1998, EDITORS OF THE prestigious New Englad and journal of Medicine presented what was either a gift or a curse to the medically informed public: They came out and admitted that losing weight was so difficult as to be well-nigh impossible. Calling that goal “an ill-faced New Year’s resolution,” they went on to editorialize that $30 billion to $50 billion is wasted per year on weight-loss efforts of all kinds, and that the “dark side” of dieting includes guilt and self-hatred, the physical dangers of diet drugs, and an increased risk of eating disorders.

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Plenty of people cheered this news: Maybe it was, finally, a long overdue vindication of repeated failures to reach the coveted size 6. But others saw it as needlessly discouraging. Surely some people lose weight. The National Weight Control Registry, compiled by researchers at Brown University and the University of Colorado, has followed more than 3,000 people who have each lost–and kept off–at least 30 pounds for a minimum of a year. A survey in this June’s Consumer Reports found that out of 32, 213 people trying to diet, nearly 8,000 reduced their body weight by at least 10 percent and stayed that way for a year or more.

Still, that’s a success rate of only 25 percent. Thousands and thousands of people have dieted their entire lives and remain overweight. As our national body weight shoots skyward–more than a quarter of adults are obese and an additional 35 percent are overweight–most people are getting the strong impression that the New England Journal editors are right. Losing weight, even five to ten pounds, is incredibly hard. But beneath that forgiving belief, many also harbor a secret suspicion. It goes something like this: Couldn’t we all be thin if we just bad enough willpower?

The answer to that question is looking more complex all the time. “Sure, everyone can lose weight,” says Jules Hirsch, MD, an obesity researcher at Rockefeller University in New York City. “That is, if you were to imprison people and feed them a very restricted diet. It’s like saying every alcoholic can be ‘cured’ by assuring that they never get their bands on alcohol. But that’s just not a workable solution- not to mention the cruelty involved.”

Clearly, Hirsch elaborates, there are powerful drives and forces in our lives, both social and biological, that make it extremely difficult for some people to lose weight. “Everyone knows it’s bad for you to be obese, and there are strong cosmetic reasons not to be,” he says. “But everyone knows you shouldn’t smoke cigarettes, too. Why don’t people stop? It’s very tough. Willpower isn’t the way to think about it.”

So how should we think about it? The short answer comes in two parts. The first is that the entire human species–whether we re battling to lose pounds or 105 pounds–carries around a biological formula for body weight that happens to utterly conflict with today’s way of living and eating. The second part is: Even within that species-wide generalization, different humans face very different barriers to maintaining a healthy weight. A recent issue of Obesity Research magazine reported the identification of more than 250 genes and genetic elements that are associated with body weight, influencing everything from a person’s metabolism to her hypothalamus, which regulates appetite.

WHAT WE ALL SHARE IS our ancient evolutionary past, the burdens of which are only now coming into focus. David L. Katz, MD, associate clinical professor of public health and medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine, puts it this way: Human beings today are polar bears in the desert. That is, our physical programming is the product of an environment in which we had to expend a lot of energy in order to obtain food to eat. Those of us in affluent societies now live in an environment that is almost exactly the opposite–we don’t need to be active and we have a huge variety of foods at our fingertips. “Of course so many Americans are overweight!” Katz exclaims. “We have to take away the feeling of personal failure. People need to tell themselves: I’m a polar bear.”

We human polar bears, for instance, have been designed with a wonderful ability that Katz calls sensory-specific satiety. We eventually get tired of a taste and stop eating a particular food. But if we are presented with taste after taste, we continue to eat. Hardly anyone, says Katz, can avoid overdoing it at a buffet. The reason: The prehistoric human body, in its inherent wisdom, recognized that if it ate only mastodon meat it would die of nutritional deficiencies. So it programmed a desire to eventually put down the meat and start chewing on berries.

The problem these days isn’t simply that people are constantly presented with a huge variety of foods and flavors. “We have so many added salts and sugars in processed foods,” says Katz, “that a single food can give us several different kinds of tastes, which makes us want to eat more.”

Then there is our innate addiction to fat in the diet, because the calorie-dense substance was a great thing to crave in the days when humans needed long-lasting fuel. Clinical studies using a drug called naloxone, which blocks certain pleasure receptors in the brain, show that subjects given the drug ate less fat than those given a placebo; the naloxone group also obtained less pleasure from their food in general and took in fewer calories. In other words, we carry specific receptors that urge us to eat fat–and to love it once we get it. The more exposure these receptors have to fat, Katz says, the more powerful the pleasure response becomes.

These factors are just the baseline--the traits that all humans share at the deepest level of our genetic makeup. But for certain people who are graced with a particular collection of genetic predispositions that propel them away from svelteness, the physiological burden is even greater. Take our love of fat. According to Katz, some people experience the pleasure more powerfully than others. When these eaters say no to candy it’s with a greater sense of loss.

weight-loss

“There are very few people who are at least 100 pounds obese who don’t have underlying biochemical issues,” says C. Wayne Callaway, MD, an endocrinologist and weight-disorders specialist at George Washington University At least 30 percent of obese people have a slower sympathetic nervous system–for example, metabolism and heart rate. “Those prone to gain weight to begin with,” Callaway adds, “will survive a starvation diet better–they’re just made that way. And the weight comes back faster on them than on other people.”

Those underlying physical factors also go way beyond the invisible workings of metabolism and fat-burning abilities to embrace even behaviors that many people tend to regard as completely volitional. Does it take the same amount of willpower for person A to resist a piece of pizza as for person B? Not necessarily.

“We know from both animal and human studies that how hungry a person feels–apart from issues of body size or metabolism–is at least partially influenced by their genetic background,” says Myles Faith, PhD, associate research scientist at the New York Obesity Research Center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center. Just recently, an intriguing study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that in obese people who dieted, a hunger-causing hormone, ghrelin, rose to sabotage their efforts. That kind of information adds a certain nuance to the question of choice: How much daily torture, in the form of hunger or longing, is any given person willing to endure? And can that really be compared to someone who simply doesn’t physically feel as powerful an urge to eat?

The choice, if you can call it that, facing a person who wants to permanently lose weight involves not only levels of discomfort but the focus and desire to redesign one’s life. “There’s no question that people feel deprived cutting back 500 calories a day” says John Foreyt, PhD, director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “And they have to do that for a lifetime, which is very difficult. It’s a matter of eternal vigilance. They watch what they do with exercise and diet every minute of every day–it never becomes automatic.”

That doesn’t mean it won’t ever become easier many researchers claim that you can eventually reprogram your tastes, and stop craving sweets and fats as intensely as you once did. But the choice of an apple over apple pie remains, always, a conscious one.

James O. Hill, PhD, codirector of the National Weight Control Registry sees a herculean effort in his successful dieters. But he has noticed another interesting distinction. While there is no similarity in how they lost weight–they used diets ranging from Weight Watchers to Jenny Craig–there is tremendous similarity in how they maintain their weight loss. Most maintainers engage in regular physical activity burning at least 2,800 calories per week (that might be brisk walking for at least an hour every day); eat a low-fat, high-complex-carbohydrate diet; have breakfast (no starving that could lead to bingeing); and weigh themselves often (if a few pounds creep back on, they up their exercise and curb their eating). Successful weight losers become steely in their approach to their bodies. “It’s much easier to lose weight than to keep it down permanently,” says Hill. “In fact, I’m beginning to think that weight loss is a different process than weight maintenance, and it’s the latter that’s more important. Ke eping it off really has to do with how willing you are to drastically change your life.”

For most overweight people, losing as little as 10 percent of their body weight results in substantial benefits. Unfortunately the iron resolve that is required for a 200-pound woman to keep off 20 pounds will probably begin to melt in the face of the fact that she still feels–and is, by society’s standards –“fat.” At that point, the very natural and human response is to say “Oh, what the hell! I give up!”

ANOTHER MORE GLOBAL Problem is, as Hill puts it, that “the very behaviors we’re trying to promote are being actively discouraged by society.” It’s almost impossible to find a staircase to use in place of an elevator; restaurant and take-out servings verge on the gargantuan; outside of cities, work and social lives are largely built around car travel. In the face of these discouragements, and the extra pounds they inevitably conjure up, Callaway urges that we not try to starve ourselves but instead use our knowledge (including genetic realities) to find a livable middle path.

encourage-more-walking“Hey we’re smarter than the average bear,” quips Katz, playing on his favorite image of humans overeating in the modern environment the way polar bears overheat in the desert. Our bodies may be back in the Stone Age, having a very slow evolutionary clock, but our brains have raced far enough ahead to outsmart our outdated genetic wiring. “We could try fixing our environment to encourage more walking,” he suggests. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta is turning its stairwells into inviting oases with piped-in music, Katz adds. Walking upstairs to the strains of Mozart may not make you skinny but it will at least remind your body that it is a living, breathing animal that inherently longs not just to eat but to move.

How To Prevent Knee Pain For Your Work out

knee-painThe most important part of your lower body is the knee. It helps to lift and endure the weight of body through different activities such as running, walking or moving. In addition, it is common when fat people often complain about their hurt knee all the time.

On the other hand, if you find that the knee starts to get hurt when you are running, please pay more attention to this part. People who ignore this problem are more likely to get a serious injury in the future. This article will show different symptoms and how to recover when got stuck with these problems.

  1. IT BAND FRICTION SYNDROME (ITBFS)

Issues related to IT Band are the most common symptoms that annoy runners. When you realize that the part of your hip to the outer knee is hurt, which means IT Band issues have occurred. In addition, individuals often hurt the knee during the practicing process which result in knee bone injury.

How to solve: Leon Popovitz – a specialist in New York states that the only way to deal with this problem is to give your lower body time for resting. To illustrate, that means you must stop running for a long time. To avoid the pain from getting serious, try some physical therapy activities if necessary.

  1. TENDONITIS

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For people who often running or cycling, they are more likely to enhance the distance as well as the intensity of their practices after a long time practicing. As a result, this can cause the tendon and calves to become hurt and strained. This will make lots of people find it hard to jog around the neighborhood every morning.

How to solve: reduce eccentric exercises. In addition, you should workout gently to prevent having the knee pain. For most people who have been in this problem, you can consider buying a best spin bike for a smooth workout process.  If you need a little more perspective before buying then take a look at these spin bike reviews at exercisebikesexpert.com to make the purchase decision easier. Working out with a spin bike will help smoothing the time of practicing and prevent individuals from catching serious injuries.

  1. RUNNER’S KNEE

This problem is similar to the ITBFS issues. With this symptom, you will feel the serious pain when running and cycling. Even when you intend to go up or down the stairs, you will find it hard to do this activity.

How to solve: there are two typical practices to prevent this issue include hamstring stretches and leg lifts. To illustrate, this will not only strengthen the leg, but prevent serious pain during the practicing process as well.

  1. MENISCUS TEAR

The meniscus of the body sits on both inside and outside the knee. This part helps both enduring the weight and remaining the stability of individuals. When having the meniscus tear, your knee will start to sprain as large as they can.

How to solve: the only thing to do is having a consultation with your doctor. People who have small tear may heal after a long time. Others with serious problem should have surgery additionally.

  1. KNEE SPRAIN

If you feel a little creaky with the knee, it means that it’s time to pay attention to this important part. This situation often happens when you practice the lower body too much or you have a serious fall.

bhf

How to solve: As other symptom, the first thing to do is go to the doctor. Doctor may compress your knee to make sure that it stays in a correct position. However, don’t tighten the wrap; this will cause bigger swelling.

These are the typical problems which often happen to most people. This article also suggests you how to solve them effectively.

Moving (and eating) in the spirit: many new books on diet and exercise include a spiritual dimension

nutrition&fitnessThe impact of faith on health and healing has been showcased in several bestselling fitness and nutrition books. They include Gabrielle Roth’s ‘Sweat Your Prayers: Movement as Spiritual Practice,’ and Veronica Moran’s ‘Love Yourself Thin: The Revolutionary Spiritual Approach to Weight Loss.

The role of faith in health is now widely known, presented in bestselling books by authors like Bernie Siegel, Herbert Benson and Caroline Myss and affirmed by medical researchers at such prestigious institutions as Harvard and Yale, who have discovered that people who practice their spirituality, in whatever form, tend to be healthier and live longer lives. As baby boomers confront the aging process and their own mortality, the readers among them–the same ones who have driven the recent surge in sales of religion books–have become increasingly fascinated by the interplay of body, mind and spirit. Now a new crop of books carries the concept of holism–that those three human aspects are inextricably woven together–not only into dealing with illness and aging, but also diet and fitness. (Look for a lengthier treatment of the spirituality and health category in an early spring issue of PW.) These authors make a case for viewing eating and physical activity as sacred acts with spiritual as well as physical consequences, and publishers seem to believe that many readers are ready to go deeper than counting calories and staring at the TV while they trudge the treadmill.

Overeating–A Spiritual Problem

In this overfed society, the majority of us seem to be struggling to control our weight. Several new titles approach overeating not just as a physical or emotional problem, but as a symptom of spiritual hunger. Released this month, Conari’s Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul: Essentials of Eating for Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Well-Being by nutritionist Deborah Kesten looks first at the role of food in 10 world religions or wisdom traditions, and then examines the roots of eating disorders, the effects of certain foods on mental states, even how to imbue food with spiritual energy. Kesten applies the lessons both of religions and scientific research to teach what she calls “enlightened eating,” which recognizes and celebrates the sacredness of food and encourages a conscious relationship to what we eat.

zen-of-eatingIn The Zen of Eating: Ancient Answers to Modern Weight Problems (Perigee, Mar.), Ronna Kabatznick, a former psychological consultant for Weight Watchers, views the contemporary struggle with food through the lens of Buddhism, calling overeating a result of “hungers of the heart and disorders of desire.” Using as her framework the Four Noble Truths, Kabatznick urges readers to focus on changing their attitudes rather than their behavior. She leads readers toward a Middle Way of eating that avoids either extreme of indulgence or deprivation. Also inspired by Buddhist thought, Zen priest Edward Espe Brown (The Greens Cookbook) offers Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings (Riverhead), a collection of vegetarian recipes interwoven with ruminations on the spirituality of food and cooking.

In Love Yourself Thin: The Revolutionary Spiritual Approach to Weight Loss (Daybreak) Victoria Moran approaches the eating conundrum from within the 12-step framework, pointing out that “inner awareness of unconditional Love [the “higher power” or God] can make profound changes in a person’s life, and inner change includes the ability to make positive, loving food choices.” Moran, too, sees “food addiction” as a symptom of spiritual emptiness, and urges readers to understand their own struggles with food and commit themselves to helping others, as AA members do. Coming in February from Daybreak is Food for the Spirit by Manuela Dunn Mascetti and Arunima Borthwick, described as “a cookbook and spiritual health manual that explores `right food‘ as part of a spiritual path.”

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The Weigh Down Diet by Gwen Shamblin, released this spring, now has 200,000 copies in print for Doubleday, and is currently #10 on PW’s Religion Bestsellers list. Shamblin, who comes at the topic from an Evangelical Christian point of view, founded the Weigh Down Workshop in 1986; there are now groups in more than 9000 churches throughout the U.S. Those who have taken her seminars, she writes, “no longer get [the] ‘binge high’ from food, but from focusing completely on our true Heavenly Father and trying to please Him. Jesus said,’My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.’ (John 4:34).” Her book includes chapters that apply biblical principles like loving your neighbor and repentance to the problem of weight control. For more support along the path to slimness, Barbour’s Devotions for Dieters: A 365-day Guide to a Lighter You by Dan R. Dick offers daily thoughts and Bible verses in the popular devotional format.

Torchlight’s new Diet for Transcendence: Vegetarianism and the World Religions by Steven Rosen argues a theological basis for the meatless lifestyle by examining the teachings not only of Hinduism and Buddhism–traditionally thought of as teaching vegetarianism–but also of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. “The antiquity of vegetarianism [indicates] its primacy in religious thought, before the purity of faith and doctrine was subjected to later revisions, interpretations, or accommodations,” writes Rosen.

Fitness Is Religion?

The combination of spirituality and fitness has a longer tradition than many might think. In June, Jewish Lights released Minding the Temple of the Soul: Balancing Body, Mind and Spirit Through Traditional Jewish Prayer, Movement and Meditation by Tamar Frankiel, a professor of the history of religions, and Judy Greenfield, a fitness trainer, choreographer and dancer. Pointing out that Judaism has “a positive view of the body and the physical world,” the authors write, “The Torah tells us, ‘take the utmost care of your vital soul’ (Deuteronomy 4:9), from. which we learn that care for the body is a mitzvah, that is, a specific commandment from God.” They offer the Hasidic prayer wheel as a mental structure for readers seeking to actively unify body, mind and spirit within the Jewish tradition, choreographing majestically simple movements to the traditional prayers of the faith and encouraging readers to weave those movement-prayers into the fabric of their daily’ lives.

Of course, dance as a spiritual activity has ancient roots. In Sweat Your Prayers: Movement as Spiritual Practice (Tarcher, Jan.), movement and theater artist Gabrielle Roth seeks to revive that practice for those schooled in Western religious traditions she sees as denying or demonizing the body. Her method is a kind of free-form ecstatic trance-dance that she developed at Esalen more than 30 years ago. For Roth, the goal is not so much the currently worshipped lean and muscular body, but a profound reconnection with our deepest selves. Thousands have taken the workshops Roth teaches worldwide, and she also produces her own dance music through her recording company, Raven Recording.

Another book on the topic of dance and spirituality is A Woman’s Book of Power: Using Dance to Cultivate Energy and Health in Mind, Body, and Spirit by Karen Andes (Perigee, Jan.). Andes views the subject through the lens of a popular Goddess theology that seeks to recover ancient traditions honoring the Divine Feminine and female power. She believes women’s spirits and bodies have suffered from adapting to “male energy” at work and in their fitness routines. Using symbols, movements and concepts from a variety of cultures and dance forms, Andes’s book is more prescriptive than Roth’s, complete with pictures and step-by-step instructions.

For those to whom dance seems too daunting, Harper SF offers The Spirited Walker: Fitness Walking for Clarity, Balance and Spiritual Connection (May) by championship racewalker Carolyn Scott Kortge, who provides both practical advice on developing the fitness walking habit and techniques for achieving a meditative state of spiritual renewal while walking. Kortge takes the Buddhist concept of walking meditation and speeds it up to provide both inner and outer benefits along “a spiritual path that travels from sole to soul.”

New in paperback is Thomas Nelson’s Faith-Based Fitness by Dr. Kenneth Cooper, a practicing physician known as the father of aerobics for his pioneering work in exercise physiology, which helped trigger the running boom in the 1970s. Cooper’s book is a no-nonsense call to action for Evangelical Christians, who he believes have a biblically mandated responsibility to stay in shape. He recalls telling an estimated 240,000 people at a 1974 Billy Graham Crusade in Brazil that “each of us is designed to be a flesh-and-blood temple of God,” a gospel he’s been preaching for more than 30 years now. The book lays out a detailed, practical program of spiritual and physical assessment, aerobic work and strength training.

Tarcher’s Working Out, Working Within: The Tao of Inner Fitness Through Sports and Exercise (Feb.) by Jerry Lynch and Chungliang Al Huang (Thinking Body, Dancing Mind) uses the technique of physical alignment to help both elite athletes and ordinary exercisers achieve “alignment of body, mind and spirit, a state that the Japanese refer to as `Satori’…. We are all spiritual beings having a physical experience in which our bodies are temples or homes for our deepest inner selves,” they write. This “satori” is achieved through internalization of Taoist concepts like spontaneity, stillness in motion/movement in stillness and balancing polarities, and through techniques like breath-watching, visual recording and affirmation reciting.

Some forms of bodywork straddle the borders between fitness, therapy and spirituality. Quest’s Getting in Touch: The Guide to New Body-Centered Therapies, edited by Christine Caldwell, explores the physical and spiritual aspects of Hakomi (a body-centered psychotherapy), Dreambody-work (which melds Jungian psychology and dance) and Caldwell’s own Moving Cycle (an amalgam of psychology, dance therapy and Eastern religious principles). In Constructive Awareness: Alexander Technique and the Spiritual Quest (Larson, Dec.), Daniel McGowan links the technique of physical alignment and efficient use of the body invented by F.M. Alexander to spiritual practices and attitudes. Through Alexander’s state of”constructive awareness” McGowan stresses “being in the moment,” rather than “end-gaining,” striving toward some future goal, as a way to achieve both physical freedom and spiritual clarity.

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Finally, in what promises to be a commercially successful marriage of religious metaphors with straightforward diet and fitness techniques, comes Fitness Is Religion: Keep the Faith (S&S, Nov.) by Ray Kybartas, personal trainer to Madonna (who contributed the book’s introduction). Likening the quest for physical fitness to a religious pilgrimage, Kybartas divides the world into “nonbelievers”–non-exercisers or the weakly committed–and “believers”-true fitness acolytes. His book and the others in this growing subcategory may well reap some converts.

LINE DANCING WITH BABY

strollercize

First there was stroller-cize, where urban mothers ran in groups while pushing their babies. Then there were Baby and Me workouts at the gym, where moms used their offspring as weights. Now, there’s a new “stay active with baby” class for moms — line dancing.

“I came up with the idea because, truly, I would dance with my daughter all the time around the kitchen after she was born,” says Jackie Davidson. “She was never a good sleeper, so I had to constantly carry her around.” Boot Scootin’ Baby was born.

Davidson learned to line dance when she worked as a bartender at an Oakville, Ont., restaurant called Texas Armadillo after she graduated from university. (Save your Cowtown jokes: Davidson is a Toronto gal, who was born in New Brunswick.)

“Line dancing is really fun. You don’t have to be a good dancer,” she says. “You can learn it pretty quickly. And it’s a surprisingly good workout.”

So how does your baby participate in Boot Scootin’?

It’s easy. Classes are meant for babies six weeks and older (so they have some neck control and moms are ready to get back in shape). The little ones snuggle along in their carriers while mom dances. “As long as your baby is still content in a baby carrier,” Davidson says, “you will have a stomping good time.”

Western clothes and cowboy boots are optional. “I taught a class this morning and half the babies were in sleepers and slept the whole class. The other half just laughed and squealed away.”

The response to her classes, now running in the Bloor West Village area of Toronto, has been phenomenal.

“I knew I was onto something when I could get mothers in Bloor West Village to come out and line dance with their babies,” she says.

Next year, Davidson plans to offer classes in the Riverdale, Beaches and Leaside neighbourhoods.

“It’s a great way for moms to get out of the house without having to worry about leaving their baby behind. I had a really hard time doing those baby yoga classes. You’d start and by the time you were finished the course, your baby was crawling all around.”

Many mothers dress their toddlers in western gear. The trend is popular with the older generation, too. “A lot of grandparents learned how to line dance on cruise ships.”

Classes are 45 minutes to an hour. “With babies there, things take a bit longer.”

Also, this year Davidson plans to launch Boot Scootin’ Tots, a western-themed exercise class for toddlers.

“Line dancing with your baby is so non-intimidating,” Davidson says. “And it’s so cute.”