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By Joy Bauer, M.S., R.D., C.D.N.

Can you relate to this very typical diet story? You start off super-committed and the pounds fly off.  But a few weeks or months later, your enthusiasm and motivation start to peter out, as do the losses on the scale.

If you’re in this boat (or expect to be soon), these weight loss strategies promise to keep things fresh so you don’t lose steam.

Try journaling (not just your food!).  
Keep a special diary to record and process your feelings, challenges, and successes along your weight loss journey. Also jot down the reasons you committed to losing weight in the first place and some of the best “perks” that you’ve experienced so far (maybe it’s an array of complements, or a once-uncomfortable task you can now do with ease).  Re-read your entries often to keep your motivation from stalling.

Micromanage.
Set small goals (i.e., no eating after dinner for a week, or losing 2 pounds this week) and reward yourself after every achievement. Treat yourself to a manicure, a new book, clothes (in your new, smaller size!), a stylish haircut, or another special prize each time you pass another mini-milestone.

Spice up your food. 
If you’re sick to death of oatmeal, tossed salad, and grilled chicken, it’s time for a menu overhaul. Follow these three tips to reignite your taste buds.

  • Don’t repeat the same meal two days in a row.
    I can appreciate how easy—and convenient—it is to fall into the same food routine, but that can get old fast. Instead, go out of your way to vary up your breakfast, brown bag lunches, and at-home meals to break through the boredom.
  • Buy a healthy cookbook for creative inspiration.
    Work your way through the book one recipe at a time and try all sorts of new, interesting flavors. It’s just like the movie Julie and Julia!
  • Experience healthy ethnic cuisine.
    Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Mediterranean, and South American cuisines can be very light and refreshing, and they’re full of delicious flavors and fresh produce. Just choose wisely (no tempura or pasta alfredo, please).

Jazz up your fitness routine.
It may just take some new, high-energy music downloads to rekindle your relationship with exercise. If you belong to a gym but always hit up the same cardio machines, start sampling some of the group fitness classes offered at your club (I promise, you won’t be the only newbie there!).  Or, try taking your workout outside, where you can walk or jog a different route every day. The change of scenery will keep things from getting stale.

Here’s one of my absolute favorite strategies for helping people stick with their exercise routine: buy books on tape (or audiobooks for your iPod) and make a deal with yourself that you’re only allowed to listen to the books while moving (walking outdoors or on a treadmill, riding a stationary bike, etc.). As long as you pick interesting books, you’ll be so engaged in the storyline, you’ll actually look forward to working out so you can hear the next chapter unfold!

If all else fails, GO SHOPPING! 
Stand in one of those 180 degree mirrors and really study yourself wearing a smaller pair of jeans. Celebrate your new figure and all the hard work you’ve put into getting to this point.

No doubt about it, losing weight is a struggle at times, but almost every “big loser” will tell you it’s worth the effort. Stay strong and focused…your goal is within reach!

For more info on losing weight and healthy living, visit joybauer.com and follow Joy on Facebook and twitter.

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By Brynn Mannino, Woman’s Day

A staggering 63 percent of Americans are overweight. The most common cause? We eat more food than we need—and we’re all guilty of doing it: mindlessly munching on a bag of pretzels during a reality TV marathon or treating ourselves to a second helping when the first was plenty. But boredom and indulgence aside, why else are we reaching for a snack when we should feel full? Some of it can be blamed on habit, while other triggers have more to do with our body’s hunger signals. Check out the list below to find out the most common overeating pitfalls and simple solutions for avoiding these traps.

1. You didn’t get enough sleep last night.
Lack of rest stimulates two faux hunger triggers: energy deficiency, to which our natural reaction is to nourish our bodies, and appetite hormone confusion. “When our bodies are drained, levels of leptin—a hormone produced by our fat cells that controls our appetite—decrease, while levels of gherlin—a hormone produced by our stomach that stimulates our appetite—increase,” explains American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Karen Ansel, RD. That’s two hormones working against you. “Getting eight hours of sleep a night is the easiest thing you can do to prevent overeating.” If you do fall short on zzz’s, be sure to load up on nourishing, naturally energizing foods—such as fresh fruit, complex carbohydrates and lean proteins—throughout the day to help your body feel satisfied.

2. You’re taking medication that causes hunger as a side effect.
If you felt ravenous the last time you were taking an antibiotic to tame an allergic reaction, joint inflammation, acne or a bad cold, the medicine may be to blame. “Medication that contains mild steroids, like prednisone, a corticosteroid, ramp up hunger big time,” says Milton Stokes, RD, owner of One Source Nutrition, LLC. “If you’ve already eaten a normal-size meal, ignore the drug-inflated hunger,” says Stokes. Instead, try an oral fix like chewing gum, sipping warm coffee or brushing your teeth, he suggests. If you’re on long-term steroid therapy, consult a dietitian to devise an eating plan that will help you feel more satisfied throughout the treatment.

3. You’re thirsty or dehydrated.
The symptoms of dehydration (sleepiness, low energy) closely mimic those of being overly hungry, which may lead you to think you need food to increase your energy level, explains Sandon. When you’re thirsty, your mouth becomes dry, a symptom that eating will temporarily relieve, notes Sandon. She suggests drinking a tall glass of water or cup of herbal tea before eating and waiting for your body’s hunger signals to adjust (about 10 minutes). “Doing so could save hundreds of calories.”

4. It’s “mealtime.”
As creatures of habit, we tend to eat on autopilot. While some regularity is encouraged so that you don’t become overly hungry, which could lead to bingeing, it’s also important to listen to hunger signals, says Ansel. “Next time you sit down to eat, ask yourself: ‘Am I really hungry?’ If the answer is ‘no,’ either eat a smaller portion or put off the meal for an hour—though no longer than that,” suggests Ansel. This also applies to situations you associate with eating, like flying. “We’ve been conditioned to associate an airplane ride with eating,” Ansel says. The solution: “Pay attention to timing,” recommends Lona Sandon, MEd, RD, assistant professor of nutrition at University of Texas Southwestern. “Know how long the flight is and plan satisfying meals around it.” Also, take advantage of the free (hydrating) beverages, she adds, as the enclosed space leads to hunger-causing dehydration.

5. You just worked out.
We are conditioned to feed ourselves after exercising. And, after a particularly strenuous exercise session like a spinning class or interval-training workout, we tend to feel ravenous. But that doesn’t mean your body needs extra calories. “It means your body needs a specific kind of nourishment,” says Marissa Lippert, RD, a nutrition consultant and dietitian in New York City. Opt for roasted chicken or other lean meats (protein will replenish your muscles) and brown rice or other whole grains (complex carbohydrates take a while to break down) to help your body recover faster and fend off hunger longer.

6. Not enough time has passed since you finished your meal.
You’ve just eaten lunch only to wonder: “Why am I still hungry?” Before you assume you didn’t eat enough, consider that maybe you ate too quickly. “Appetite hormones need time to tell your brain you’re full,” explains Sandon. To prevent post-meal hunger pangs, keep these pointers in mind: Eat slowly, putting down your fork between bites; choose flavorful and satisfying foods; and include a combination of fat, protein and carbohydrates in every meal. If you’re still hungry, try sucking on a mint to ward off your cravings.

7. The women around you are eating.
A joint study out of Duke University and Arizona State University found that women tend to mirror other women’s eating habits. “When one overdoes it, the rest often follow along,” Ansel confirms. To avoid this copycat effect, Lippert suggests taking a quick minute to reassess your own eating habits—or, if all else fails, grabbing a pal and evacuating the scene of the food. A more permanent fix? Be the one who sets a healthy example for your girlfriends to follow. Their waistlines will thank you! “Just as obesity is contagious, so are healthy habits,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, author of The Flexitarian Diet.

8. You smell or see food.
“We tend to eat with our senses more than our stomachs,” says Ansel. When we smell or see food—even if it’s in a photo, advertisement or TV show—our mouths water, which stimulates our appetite. Onset factors can include smelling a batch of cupcakes baking, seeing snack food laid out on the counter or watching a cooking show. The clear-cut solution: “Out of sight, out of mind.” Leave the room, hide the candy jar, turn off the TV—and the craving to eat will likely subside, says Ansel.

9. You’re stressed out.
“Studies show that when people recognize they’re stressed, they are more likely to turn to high-fat, salty or sugary foods,” says Sandon. “These foods both are comforting and feel good in the mouth,” she adds. But it’s not all about emotional eating. Sandon notes that your body’s chemical reaction to stress could also cause hunger pangs. “Increased levels of the stress hormones cortisol and insulin may be associated with triggering appetite.” Either way, appetite control boils down to decision-making. Before reaching for the ice cream tub, try quickly clearing your mind.

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By Lucy Danziger, the Editor-in-Chief of SELF magazine

Some people are lucky: They seem to be born with a naturally high metabolism and slender physique that requires little exercise and calorie counting to maintain. My mother, God bless her, is one such person. I am not! So it’s a good thing I love to run, bike and swim. But when SELF asked experts about the habits that slow metabolism, I was surprised by some of their answers—and guilty of a few no-no’s myself (see number 1…and 2…and…). Fortunately, these habits are also totally fixable. Start paying attention to them today, and you’ll become one of the lucky ones—or at least look like one—in no time!

1. Scrimping on shut-eye

Catching zzz’s may help you stay slim, reveals research presented at the annual American Thoracic Society meeting in San Diego. In the study of more than 68,000 women, those who slept seven hours weighed 5.5 pounds less than women who slept five hours or less. Pulling frequent all-nighters may slow your metabolism, impairing your body’s ability to utilize food and nutrients as energy so they get stored as fat instead, scientists say.

2. Stressing out

When you’re on edge, you’re likely to sleep less and eat more, which can affect your thyroid, a gland that produces hormones which regulate metabolism, body temperature, heart rate and more. If your thyroid’s not producing enough of those hormones, it can slow your metabolism and other body functions, leading to weight gain, depression and fatigue. Take time for yourself daily to keep both your thyroid and metabolism humming at optimal levels.

3. Skipping breakfast

People often tell me they hate breakfast foods; I tell them, find something you can eat within an hour of waking up! Missing a morning meal is the worst thing you can do. It slows metabolism and depletes your body of the fuel it needs to function optimally, explains celebrity nutritionist Joy Bauer, R.D. But what you eat matters as much as the fact that you eat something. Simple, unrefined carbohydrates—as in a breakfast muffin or pastry—signal the brain to release serotonin, a neurotransmitter that brings on calm when you most want to be up and at ’em. Also, your body digests simple carbs quickly, sending blood sugar soaring and then plummeting, resulting in an energy crash. Try to start each day with a breakfast that contains at least 5 grams of protein, which activates the production of norepinephrine, a neurochemical that increase heart rate and alertness. The nutrient also digests slowly, so blood sugar and energy levels stay stable. Try an omelet made with 4 egg whites, 1/2 cup chopped broccoli, 1/4 cup chopped onion and 1 oz lowfat shredded cheese; it delivers an impressive 22 g protein per serving.

4. Staying seated

Get out of that chair! Staying on your feet revs metabolism and doubles your calorie burn during workdays, a study in Diabetes reports. Sitting for a few hours switches off enzymes that capture fat in the bloodstream, but standing up and getting active reignites them. Surrender your seat when possible (e.g., during phone calls) to start reaping benefits.

5. Eating junk food

I love a French cruller as much as the next gal, but it turns out doughnuts can be double diet trouble. Not only do sugary, fatty treats add calories and fat to your daily tally (a Dunkin’ Donuts cruller packs 250 calories and 20 g fat), but they can also encourage your body to store more fat. Junk food might stimulate a gene that encourages your body to store excess fat, causing you to gain weight over time, a study in The FASEB Journal reveals. (In the study, mice without the troublemaking gene had 45 percent lower body fat after eating a high-fat and high-sugar diet for 16 weeks compared to critters with the gene who ate the same diet.) Quell a sweet craving with berries or an orange: They’re high in vitamin C, a nutrient that can help you sizzle up to 30 percent more fat during exercise, suggests research from Arizona State University at Mesa.

6. Falling into a workout rut

I hear it all the time: “I’ve almost reached my goal weight, but those last 5 (stubborn!) pounds just won’t come off.” Sound familiar? Weight loss can stall along the way partly because you get smaller. As you shrink, there is less of you to provide energy for, so you actually start to need fewer calories. These plateaus can last weeks, so rather than get frustrated, try new workouts or ways to eat healthy to keep your metabolism going strong and your body burning even more calories than before.

7. Dodging the weight room

Although cardio sessions turn up the heat and burn big-time calories (which is why I run, bike or swim most mornings and still enjoy dessert!), lifting weights helps you build calorie-burning lean muscle, says Jeffrey Garber, M.D., author of The Harvard Medical School Guide to Overcoming Thyroid Problems (McGraw-Hill). And with more lean muscle, you extend the burn to when you’re just sitting at your desk or in the car. Add weight-bearing exercises like planks, lunges, squats and tricep dips to your workouts three times a week, and you’ll see toning results like you’ve never experienced before!

Good luck, healthy girl!

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Originally published at NYTIMES.COM

For a study published last year, British researchers asked 12 healthy male college students to ride stationary bicycles while listening to music that, as the researchers primly wrote, “reflected current popular taste among the undergraduate population.” Each of the six songs chosen differed somewhat in tempo from the others.

The volunteers were told to ride the bicycles at a pace that they comfortably could maintain for 30 minutes. Then each rode in three separate trials, wearing headphones tuned to their preferred volume. Each had his heart rate, power output, pedal cadence, enjoyment of the music and feelings of how hard the riding felt monitored throughout each session. During one of the rides, the six songs ran at their normal tempos. During the other rides, the tempo of the tracks was slowed by 10 percent or increased by 10 percent. The riders were not informed about the tempo manipulations.

But their riding changed significantly in response. When the tempo slowed, so did their pedaling and their entire affect. Their heart rates fell. Their mileage dropped. They reported that they didn’t like the music much. On the other hand, when the tempo of the songs was upped 10 percent, the men covered more miles in the same period of time, produced more power with each pedal stroke and increased their pedal cadences. Their heart rates rose. They reported enjoying the music — the same music — about 36 percent more than when it was slowed. But, paradoxically, they did not find the workout easier. Their sense of how hard they were working rose 2.4 percent. The up-tempo music didn’t mask the discomfort of the exercise. But it seemed to motivate them to push themselves. As the researchers wrote, when “the music was played faster, the participants chose to accept, and even prefer, a greater degree of effort.”

The interplay of exercise and music is fascinating and not fully understood, perhaps in part because, as a science, it edges into multiple disciplines, from physiology to biomechanics to neurology. No one doubts that people respond to music during exercise. Just look at the legions of iPod-toting exercisers on running paths and in gyms. The outcry when USA Track and Field banned headphones in 2007 at sanctioned races like marathons was loud and pained (and the edict was widely ignored until it was revised last year). The neurologist and author Oliver Sacks has talked about personally experiencing the elemental power of music after he injured his leg mountain climbing and had to push himself slowly down the slope with his elbows. He told an interviewer: “Then I found the Volga Boatmen song going through my mind. I would make a big heave and a ho on each beat in the song. In this way, it seemed to me that I was being ‘music-ed’ down the mountain.”

Just how music impacts the body during exercise, however, is only slowly being teased out by scientists. One study published last year found that basketball players prone to performing poorly under pressure during games were significantly better during high-pressure free-throw shooting if they first listened to catchy, upbeat music and lyrics (in this case, the Monty Python classic “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”). The music seemed to distract the players from themselves, from their audience and from thinking about the physical process of shooting, said Christopher Mesagno, a lecturer at the University of Ballarat in Victoria, Australia, and the study’s lead author. It freed the body to do what it knew how to do without interference from the brain. “The music was occupying attention that might have been misdirected otherwise,” Mr. Mesagno said.

In fact, it’s music’s dual ability to distract attention (a psychological effect) while simultaneously goosing the heart and the muscles (physiological impacts) that makes it so effective during everyday exercise. Multiple experiments have found that music increases a person’s subjective sense of motivation during a workout, and also concretely affects his or her performance. The resulting interactions between body, brain and music are complex and intertwined. It’s not simply that music motivates you and you run faster. It may be that, instead, your body first responds to the beat, even before your mind joins in; your heart rate and breathing increase and the resulting biochemical reactions join with the music to exhilarate and motivate you to move even faster. Scientists hope to soon better understand the various nervous system and brain mechanisms involved. But for now, they know that music, in most instances, works. It eases exercise. In a typical study, from 2008, cyclists who rode in time to music used 7 percent less oxygen to pedal at the same pace as when they didn’t align themselves to the songs.

But there are limits to the benefits of music, and they probably kick in just when you could use the help the most. Unfortunately, science suggests that music’s impacts decline dramatically when you exercise at an intense level. A much-cited 2004 study of runners found that during hard runs at about 90 percent of their maximal oxygen uptake, a punishing pace, music was of no benefit, physiologically. The runners didn’t up their paces, no matter how fast the music’s tempo. Their heart rates stubbornly stayed the same, already quite high, whether they listened to music or not. That result, according to a 2009 review of research by Costas Karageorghis and David-Lee Priest, researchers who have extensively studied music and exercise, is likely due to the ineluctable realities of hard work. During moderate exercise, they write, music can “narrow attention,” diverting “the mind from sensations of fatigue.” But when you increase the speed and intensity of a workout, “perceptions of fatigue override the impact of music, because attentional processes are dominated by physiological feedback.” The noise of the body drowns all other considerations. Even so, about a third of the runners in the 2004 study told the researchers that they liked listening to the music, especially at the start of the run. It didn’t increase their speed or make the workout demonstrably easier. But it sounded nice.

And that result, obvious as it seems, may be the ultimate lesson of how and why music is effective and desirable during exercise, says Nina Kraus, a professor of neurobiology at Northwestern University in Illinois, who studies the effects of music on the nervous system. “Humans and songbirds” are the only creatures “that automatically feel the beat” of a song, she said. The human heart wants to synchronize to music, the legs want to swing, metronomically, to a beat. So the next time you go for a moderate run or bike ride, first increase the tempo of some insidiously catchy Lady Gaga downloads (or Justin Bieber or Katy Perry or whatever reflects the current popular taste in your household), and load them on your iPod. “Our bodies,” Dr. Kraus concluded, “are made to be moved by music and move to it.”

Good luck, healthy girl!

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From Prevention.com

Surprise! Good ol’ crunches are one of the fastest ways to firm your midsection. (Hate crunches? Bear with us.) Thanks to 5 decades of research and nearly 90 studies, scientists have zeroed in on the best moves to flatten your belly. The secret is to really fatigue your abs–not an easy task, because they’re used to working all day to keep you standing tall. But we created a routine that, when combined with regular cardio, does it in just four moves.

“I couldn’t believe the difference a few days made,” says Gwen Hoover, 48, of Fogelsville, PA, who whittled more than 2 inches off her middle, lost 14% of her belly fat, and dropped nearly 4 pounds in just 1 week! Even our slimmest testers saw impressive results. At 5-foot-6 and 125 pounds, Rachelle Vander Schaaf, 49, of Macungie, PA, wasn’t expecting to see a big change, but she shaved more than 3 inches off her belly–without dieting. You can too! Start now and show off an all-around leaner belly for the rest of the summer season.

Program at a Glance

3 Days a Week: Do the SlimBelly Workout moves on 3 nonconsecutive days to tone your midsection.

5 Days a Week: Do 30 to 40 minutes of cardio, such as brisk walking, swimming, jogging, or bike riding, to burn off belly fat. You should be breathing hard but still able to talk in short sentences.

Every Day: Watch portions and fill up on whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and healthy fats to maximize results. Aim for 1,600 to 1,800 calories spread evenly throughout the day.

Sample Workout Schedule
Day Activity
Monday Abs and Cardio
Tuesday Cardio
Wednesday Rest
Thursday Abs and Cardio
Friday Rest
Saturday Abs and Cardio
Sunday Cardio
Slim Belly Workout

Do 3 sets of each of the 4 moves, performing as many reps (1 second up, 1 second down) as possible until you feel a burning sensation in the muscles you’re working or you can no longer maintain proper form. Rest 15 seconds between sets. You’ll likely be able to do more reps during earlier sets and exercises — and that’s okay. After you can do 50 reps or hold a plank for 2 minutes for most sets, try the “Make it Harder” variations, change the order of the exercises, or do the moves after another type of workout.

1. Hipless Crunch
This variation better targets abs by preventing hips and upper body from helping you lift.

Lie on back with legs lifted and bent, calves parallel to floor, and feet relaxed. Cross arms over chest with hands on shoulders. Contract abdominal muscles and lift head, shoulders, and upper back about 30 degrees off floor. Lower without touching head to floor. Exhale as you lift; inhale as you lower. *Prevention Fitness Lab testers averaged 25 reps per set.

Make It Easier: Rest calves on a chair and extend arms down at sides.

Make It Harder: Extend legs straight up.

Tips:

  • Don’t pull chin toward chest.
  • Focus on abs doing the work; imagine sliding rib cage toward hips.

Stop When…

  • You start pulling or jerking up with head, neck, or shoulders.
  • You can’t keep neck or shoulders relaxed.

2. No-Hands Reverse Crunch
Instead of keeping arms at sides, where they can help abs, anchor them overhead to activate more belly muscles.

Lie faceup with arms overhead and hands grasping a heavy piece of furniture or railing. Raise feet into the air with legs bent. Contract abs, press back into floor, and lift hips off floor. Exhale as you lift; inhale as you lower. *Prevention Fitness Lab testers averaged 21 reps per set.

Make It Easier: Do the move with arms down at sides.

Make It Harder: Straighten legs.

Tips:

  • Feel the contraction in abs, not in back or legs.
  • Tilt pelvis.
  • Think of lifting up instead of pulling knees toward chest.

Stop When…

  • You can’t lift hips off the floor without jerking.
  • Neck and shoulders are tense.

3. V Crunch
This exercise gets your upper and lower body moving simultaneously to recruit the maximum number of muscle fibers in your midsection.

Balance on tailbone with legs bent, feet off floor, and arms bent at sides. Make sure back is straight and chest is lifted. Lean back and extend arms and legs, then pull back to start position. *Prevention Fitness Lab testers averaged 11 reps per set.

Make It Easier: Grasp sides of thighs with hands.

Make It Harder: Hold a 3- to 5-pound dumbbell in each hand.

Tips:

  • Eyes gaze straight forward; keep chin parallel to floor.
  • Don’t let back curve or shoulders rise toward ears.

Stop When…

  • You can’t keep arms or legs up.
  • You can’t keep chest lifted.
  • Back or neck starts to hurt.

4. Side Plank
Static balancing moves like this one are challenging because your deepest abs work really hard to hold your core in midair. Do them after crunches to ensure complete fatigue — and firm abs from every angle.

Lie on right side, elbow beneath shoulder, feet stacked, left hand on hip. Contract abs to lift hip and leg off floor. Hold until fatigued, noting your time. Do 3 sets before switching sides. *Prevention Fitness Lab testers averaged 19 seconds per side for each set.

Make It Easier: Bend legs and balance on bottom knee and side of lower leg.

Make It Harder: Straighten top arm toward sky.

Tips:

  • Keep head, neck, torso, hips, and legs all in one straight line.
  • Don’t sink into shoulder — press elbow into floor and lift torso.

Stop When…

  • Hip is sagging toward floor.
  • Neck, shoulder, or back hurts.
  • You can’t keep body in line.

Good luck, healthy girl!

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BY MARTHA ROSE SHULMAN

An apricot smoothie should be pure apricot, with no other fruits to dilute the intense flavor. This smoothie makes a great drinkable breakfast or mini-meal in the afternoon.

3 medium-size apricots (about 6 ounces), pitted

3/4 cup plain low-fat soy yogurt (try Whole Soy & Co. plain yogurt – available at Whole Foods)

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 teaspoon mild honey, like clover or acacia (you can also use maple syrup to stay 100% animal free)

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

1 or 2 ice cubes

1. Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend at high speed until smooth. Serve right away.

Yield: One serving.

Advance preparation: Drink this right after you make it.

Nutritional information per serving: 230 calories; 1 gram fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 4 milligrams cholesterol; 44 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 144 milligrams sodium; 13 grams protein

Good luck, healthy girl!

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By Liz Coughlin

If you need a hand whipping your body into shape quickly, there are few better people to turn to than Jillian Michaels, one half of the dynamic duo from “The Biggest Loser.”

[Check out the 5 things Jillian Michaels wants us to learn from “Losing It” on Shine.]

We recently spoke with the fitness trainer about a common struggle: managing belly fat (it is summer, after all). Here are her top five tips, in her own words:

  1. A big part of ab definition is managing water weight. This means that you should reduce your sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams a day and up your water intake to 80 ounces a day. The more water you drink, the less water you will hold.
  2. Eat foods that are high in potassium (like watermelon). This will help you reduce bloat, giving definition to your abs. Other things to try: cranberry juice mixed with water, dandelion tea, asparagus, and try taking a couple teaspoons a day of apple cider vinegar. This vinegar helps to maintain healthy levels of potassium in your body.
  3. You can spot-reduce belly fat, but you have to engage in a regimen that burns body fat. This means counting calories so that you are burning excess body fat.
  4. When you hit the gym, go hard. Work at 85 percent of your maximum heart rate for optimal fat-shedding results. Try workouts that are core-based and use multiple muscle groups, like mixed martial arts or Yoga flow.
  5. Avoid processed foods, alcohol, and lack of sleep. Those three things increase cortisol levels, which is one of the hormones believed responsible for storing belly fat.

    Jillian’s on her own this summer, starring in a new show, “Losing It With Jillian.” The premise is simple: Jillian travels across the United States, helping families who are desperately in need of health and wellness improvement. Sure, she is dominant and occasionally yells (it’s her signature method for motivation), but she is also kind, encouraging, and very insightful. Just like its sister show, this one is sure to inspire America.

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