Archive for January, 2010

By Liz Vaccariello, Editor-in-Chief, Prevention

Weight loss requires two things: burning calories through exercise and cutting them through smart food choices and portion control. In theory, you could create a calorie deficit by spending hours at the gym, but that’s not realistic-or much fun. And who wants to live on lettuce leaves? Instead, try these seven everyday moves to drop pounds effortlessly.

1. Fidget

James Levine, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, has spent a decade studying the role that everyday movement, or

NEAT (nonexercise activity thermogenesis), plays in metabolism. His discovery: People who tap their feet, prefer standing to sitting, and generally move around a lot burn up to 350 more calories a day than those who sit still. That adds up to nearly 37 pounds a year!

2. Keep most meals under 400 calories

Study after study recommends spacing out your meals at regular intervals and keeping them all about the same size. Eating meals at regular intervals has been linked to greater calorie burning after eating, better response to insulin, and lower fasting blood cholesterol levels.

When you eat regular meals throughout the day, you’re less likely to become ravenous and overeat.

3. Take yourself off cruise control

Increase the intensity of your everyday tasks, from vacuuming to walking the dog, recommends Douglas Brooks, an exercise physiologist and personal trainer in Northern California. “Turn on some music, add in some vigorous bursts, and enjoy the movement,” he says.

4. Drink 8 glasses of water per day

Water is not just a thirst quencher–it may speed the body’s metabolism. Researchers in Germany found that drinking two 8-ounce glasses of cold water increased their subjects’ metabolic rate by 30%, and the effect persisted for 90 minutes. One-third of the boost came from the body’s efforts to warm the water, but the rest was due to the work the body did to absorb it. “When drinking water, no calories are ingested but calories are used, unlike when drinking sodas, where additional calories are ingested and possibly stored,” explains the lead researcher, Michael Boschmann, MD, of University Medicine Berlin. Increasing

water consumption to eight glasses per day may help you lose about 8 pounds in a year, he says, so try drinking a glass before meals and snacks and before consuming sweetened drinks or juices.

5. Step it up–and down

Climbing stairs is a great leg strengthener, because you’re lifting your body weight against gravity. In addition to taking the stairs at every opportunity, try stepping up and down on the curb while you’re waiting for the bus or filling your gas tank, says Brooks.

6. Use grocery bags as dumbbells

Letting someone else load your groceries or carry your suitcase is an opportunity missed for strengthening and calorie burning, says certified coach Beth Rothenberg, who teaches a class for fitness professionals at UCLA. “Carry your groceries, balanced with a bag in each hand, even if you have to make several trips,” she says. “And pack two smaller suitcases instead of one big one, so you can carry them yourself.”

7. Eat 4 g of fiber at every meal

A high-fiber diet can lower your caloric intake without making you feel deprived. In a Tufts University study, women who ate 13 g of fiber or less per day were five times as likely to be overweight as those who ate more fiber. Experts see a number of mechanisms through which fiber promotes weight loss: It may slow down eating because it requires more chewing, speed the passage of food through the digestive tract, and boost satiety hormones. To get 25 g of fiber a day, make sure you eat six meals or snacks, each of which contains about 4 g of fiber. For to-go snacks, buy fruit; it’s handier than vegetables, so it’s an easy way to up your fiber intake. One large apple has just as much fiber (5 g) as a cup of raw broccoli.

Good luck, healthy girl!

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By: Margaret Furtado, M.S., R.D.

The November 11, 2009, issue of Translational Medicine included a research study indicating that eating junk food for even a single day can encourage the growth of a bad type of bacteria in your gut. Compared to our normal intestinal bacteria, this altered bacterium is harmful because it breaks food down more efficiently and thus makes many more calories available to the body, upping the risk of weight gain significantly.

Dr. Jeffrey Gordon at Washington University in St. Louis first gave mice with germ-free intestines a low-fat, high-plant diet, and used genetic tests to confirm that their intestinal bacteria were comparable to those in a healthy human’s GI tract. After a month of eating this healthy diet, half the mice were switched over to a high-fat, high-sugar diet and Dr. Gordon began to reexamine their guts.

He discovered that within 24 hours after receiving the junk food, the intestines of the mice showed increasing amounts of an obesity-causing-bacterium, Firmicutes, and diminished levels of an obesity-preventing-bacterium, Bacteroidetes. And these mice continued to grow fatter even after they were put back on the initial low-fat, plant-rich diet.

The results of this study suggest that eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates such as sugar and corn syrup, as well as fatty foods like those served in fast-food eateries, might significantly up your chances of increasing the numbers of obesity-causing bacteria in your gut.

The moral is, if you want to have healthier, more “weight-friendly” bacteria in your intestines, those that can help you maintain a healthy weight, then eat mostly whole foods such as vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fresh fruits, and nuts and seeds (but eat these last two in moderation, given their higher caloric density).

You may even want to consider taking a probiotic or a healthy-bacteria supplement. Why? The human body is composed of about 10 trillion cells, whereas the GI tract contains 100 trillion bacteria–10 times more bacteria than human cells! Therefore, if your diet is lacking and you feel you could be eating healthier, consider supplementing your diet with healthy bacteria. (Be sure to check with your health care provider before starting any regimen, even an over-the-counter pill.) A daily probiotic supplement can ensure that your GI bacteria will be helping, not hindering, you and your weight as much as is possible!

Good luck, healthy girl!

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By: Michelle Fowler


Woman eating

“Am I hungry?” Trying to come up with the answer to this question can really be tough. You think you’re hungry, but maybe that’s just because the clock says it’s lunchtime, or because you’re bored or anxious about a work project.

It’s important to be able to discern when you are actually in need of some re-fueling, and when you’re about to eat “just because.” You are the only one who can decide. But making the call as to whether or not you’re actually hungry doesn’t have to be agonizing or tedious. It just takes a little vigilance.

Listen to your hunger signals
By asking yourself how hungry you feel on a scale of zero to five — zero being famished and five being stuffed — you can really gauge your level of hunger. Aim for feeling satisfied, meaning you shouldn’t ever let yourself get too hungry or too full (which normally comes from overeating because you were too hungry when you sat down to a meal).

Still unsure about whether or not you are truly hungry? Try these tips:

  1. Wait 30 minutes. If you’re still hungry, then you should probably eat. But if going for a walk or reading a magazine helped get rid of your hunger signals, you probably aren’t ready for more food just yet.
  2. Identify environmental cues. Is it the smell of the fast food fries in the mall that made you hungry? If so, that’s probably not true hunger.
  3. Measure your emotions. Is that hunger — or boredom, stress, anxiety, etc…?
  4. Ask: When did I eat last? If it was more than three hours ago, you’re probably ready for something to eat again.
  5. Take it slow. It takes a while for fullness to register, so don’t overdo it before your stomach has a chance to tell your brain it’s full.

Good luck, healthy girl!

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By Dr. Maoshing Ni

The healing power of soup: something that both scientists and grandmothers can agree on. From helping you lose weight to warming you up from the inside out to boosting your immunity, soup is a winter staple that you shouldn’t be without. Maybe that is one reason that it is celebrated this month with its very own National Soup Month. Here’s a closer look at what you can do to benefit from soup’s amazing healing powers.

The healing power of soup
An ancient Chinese proverb states that a good doctor uses food first, then resorts to medicine. A healing soup can be your first step in maintaining your health and preventing illness. The therapeutic value of soup comes from the ease with which your body can assimilate the nutrients from the ingredients, which have been broken down by simmering.

Here are some healing soup tips that will preserve your wellness and longevity:

1. Lose weight with soup
Obesity is on the rise throughout the industrialized world, resulting in a startling increase in the rates of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. You can count yourself out of the statistics if you eat a bowl of soup at least once a day. Nutritious low-salt soups will nourish you as they flush excess wastes from your body. It has been found that people who eat one serving of soup per day lose more weight than those who eat the same amount of calories, but don’t eat soup. Homemade soup is your best bet, because canned soups tend to be loaded with salt and chemicals. My advice is to use organic vegetables whenever possible. The herbicides and pesticides that can be present in conventional produce can assault the immune system and overload it with toxins.

2. Build your immunity
Your immune system needs a lot of minerals to function properly and the typical Western diet does not always hit the mark. When you slowly simmer foods over low heat, you gently leach out the energetic and therapeutic properties of the foods, preserving the nutritional value of the foods. Keep in mind that boiling can destroy half of the vitamins found in vegetables, so cook soup over a low heat.

Immune-Boosting Soup
Simmer these ingredients for 30 minutes: cabbage, carrots, fresh ginger, onion, oregano, shiitake mushrooms (if dried, they must be soaked first), the seaweed of your choice, and any type of squash in chicken or vegetable stock. Cabbage can increase your body’s ability to fight infection, ginger supports healthy digestion, and seaweed cleanses the body. Shiitake mushrooms contain coumarin, polysaccharides, and sterols, as well as vitamins and minerals that increase your immune function, and the remaining ingredients promote general health and well-being. Eat this soup every other day to build a strong and healthy immune system.

3. Detoxify your body

As a liquid, soup is already helping you flush waste from your body. When you choose detoxifying ingredients, such as the ones featured in the recipe below, you are really treating your body to an internal cleanse. The broth below boasts many benefits: it supports the liver in detoxification, increases circulation, reduces inflammation, and replenishes your body with essential minerals.

Super Detoxifying Broth
Simmer the following for 1–2 hours over a low flame: anise, brussels sprouts, cabbage, Swiss chard, cilantro, collards, dandelion, fennel, garlic, ginger, kale, leeks, shiitake mushrooms, mustard greens, daikon radish, seaweed, turmeric, and watercress. Drink 8 to 12 ounces twice a day. You can keep this broth in your fridge for up to one week; however, it is always best to serve soups when fresh because each day, the therapeutic value decreases.

In addition to using cleansing herbs in soups, you can take cleansing herbs in supplements. For a gentle but powerful cleanse using Chinese herbs, Internal Cleanse increases the ability of the liver to cleanse the body of internal and environmental toxins.

4. Warm up with a hearty soup
You always want to eat for the season. Soups provide something the body craves in cold weather. When you cook foods into a soup, you are adding a lot of what Chinese nutrition would call “warming energy” into the food. Warming foods to feature in your soups include: leeks, onions, turnips, spinach, kale, broccoli, quinoa, yams, squash, garlic, scallions, and parsley. As a spice, turmeric aids with circulation, a great boost against the cold weather.

5. Get well faster
As you mother may have instinctively known, when you are sick, there is no better healing food than soup. The reason for this is that soups and stews don’t require as much energy to digest, freeing your body up to fight the infection.

It would be impossible to talk about soup’s healing abilities without putting the spotlight on homemade chicken noodle soup. Studies have found that chicken noodle soup does seem to relieve the common cold by inhibiting inflammation — helping to break up congestion and ease the flow of nasal secretions.

While chicken soup may not cure a cold outright, it does help alleviate some of the symptoms and can help as a preventative measure. Many of my patient’s keep the herbal formula Cold & Flu in their medicine cabinets so its there to support recovery when a cold strikes.

In Chinese medicine, you would traditionally be given a tonic soup specifically tailored to your needs, and for that level of personal care, it is a good idea to consult a health practitioner knowledgeable in Chinese nutrition.

I hope you have gotten a taste of the healing power of soup! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

Good luck, healthy girl!

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Better Homes and Gardens

People who eat less or no meat in their diets than the average American consistently weigh a lot less than their meat-eating counterparts. Many of us are unwilling to give up meat altogether, but cutting back is a lot easier with delicious vegetarian recipes such as this one. In fact, with the traditional barbecue seasonings and consistency, no one will miss, or possibly even notice, the lack of ground beef. Serve this sandwich on a whole grain roll.


  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 large green sweet pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1-1/2 cups refrigerated or frozen precooked and crumbled ground-meat substitute (soy protein)
  • 1 10-3/4-ounce can tomato puree
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup bottled barbecue sauce
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 8 to 10 hamburger buns, toasted
    1. In a large skillet cook onion and sweet pepper in hot oil for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender. Stir in ground-meat substitute, tomato puree, the water, barbecue sauce, mustard, soy sauce (if desired), chili powder, and garlic.
    2. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve on buns. Makes 8 to 10 servings.


  1. In a large skillet cook onion and sweet pepper in hot oil for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender. Stir in ground-meat substitute, tomato puree, the water, barbecue sauce, mustard, soy sauce (if desired), chili powder, and garlic.
  2. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve on buns. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

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By Lucy Danziger

When it comes to getting fit, you know what you should do (hint: move more and eat less—or at least better). It’s actually doing it that can be so difficult. Cold morning? I’m the first one to want to sleep in! My muscles will be too stiff to jog in the park, I tell myself. I know, I know—just get on the treadmill.

If only it were as easy to make it to the gym or order the salad as it is to concoct reasons not to, we’d all look like, well, Jillian Michaels. Which is why we went straight to the Biggest Loser trainer and SELF contributor—a woman who simply doesn’t do excuses—to get her cures for wavering willpower. Keep Michaels’ stick-with-it advice in mind when you’re looking for a way out. Staying the course will come more easily, and so will getting a standout body!

Excuse: “I have zero time to exercise!”
Michaels says:
“I feel your pain—my life is crazy, too. But good-for-you habits are the last thing that should go. If you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll have less energy to be that supportive person in your loved ones’ lives. I tell working moms to ask for help. It used to take a village to raise kids; you can’t do it on your own.”

Identify your personality type for a willpower makeover.

Excuse: “I can’t afford a gym or fresh produce.”
Michaels says:
“Commit to a $100 investment in 10 fitness DVDs and you’ll have enough variety for six months at least. You can do a whole workout—sit-ups, jumping jacks, squats—without any equipment. And imagine the cost of taking diabetes meds for the rest of your life—much more than the extra $50 a month you should spend on groceries and fish.” Try this free, do-anywhere workout created by Michaels to get started.

Excuse: “The cookies in my cabinet are calling me!”
Michaels says: ‘I don’t keep junk in the house or let waiters bring bread to my table. I have no discipline, so I protect myself from temptation.” Stock up on some of these 30 healthy snack options instead.

Excuse: “I can’t get up early to work out, and I’m tired at night.”
Michaels says:
“When the alarm goes off, ask yourself, ‘Will going back to sleep help me reach my great goal?’ If the workout isn’t attached to a larger reason—like having the confidence to get back in the dating game—it won’t stick.” Got 10 minutes? Try this superfast workout you can do in your living room.

Excuse: “I’ve hit a plateau; I give up.”
Michaels says:
“Get selfish! Don’t think you’re asking too much of the world or of yourself. Push through by believing the new, improved you is your destiny. There’s no reason you can’t have it all.”

Excuse: “I start off Monday with the best intentions, and then life takes over and I flake on my workouts.”
Michaels says:
“Set a daily or weekly target and reward yourself every time you meet it. I get my eyebrows done or download songs from iTunes.”

Excuse: “I get so bored counting all those weight reps or running.”
Michaels says:
“As you exercise, think about what you’re trying to achieve. Having intention behind your actions is extremely powerful. And nothing beats a good beat to keep energy high. I want to die when I don’t have my music! Any song by The Roots totally gets me psyched. Finally, you don’t have to kill yourself to get a workout. Running is one of the best ways to get smaller, but I hate it, so I do only one 10-minute mile.”

Excuse: “But the couch is so comfy!”
Michaels says:
“If you need a couple days off, take them. You don’t want to get bitter or burn out.”

For a workout so fast, fun and effective, you won’t need any excuses, try Michaels’s do-anywhere circuit-shape up at Self.com.

Good luck, healthy girl!

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