Do you like what you
When was the last time you looked in the mirror and liked what you saw?
Most women have to think long and hard before answering this question.
Whether or not we admit it, women are active players in the beauty game,
which requires them to think that looks and body weight are the true
sources of happiness. The truth is, women are their own own worst
critics when it comes to their bodies. Experts tell us that
self-esteem is closely tied to body image, even more than to
actual physical appearance. What you see is not necessarily what you
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Tips and tricks to put your eating and
exercise program back on track
It was the night she went to
the trouble of making brownies from scratch so she could gorge on them
instead of going to the store in search of a candy bar that turned
Lori Malkin's life around. She had little food in her cupboard (except
baking chocolate), she was premenstrual and in a bad mood, and, well,
who doesn't know the way that story usually ends?
"Afterward, I thought, This is ridiculous," Malkin says.
"That was it. There were so few things in my life I had complete control
over, but the one thing I could change was my body."
The next day she signed up for a step-aerobics class at
the studio around the corner from her house in Ozone Park, New York, and
started going twice a week. She also took up jazz dance and began eating
sensibly. Over the next six months, her whole life shifted. She lost 20
pounds, joined a theater group (and got the first part she auditioned
for), quit her job as a graphic artist with a publishing firm, went
freelance, and fell in love. All because late one night, two and a half
years ago, picking at the leftover crumbs of a brownie pan, Malkin
somehow found the will to change.
At some point, almost everyone feels driven to do things
differently. From New Year's resolutions to birthdays with zeros in
them, we have created celebrities and celebrations to spur us forward.
With too little of such an urge in cases of extreme depression, for
example we may be unable to eat or sleep. With too much, we wind up
sounding like Richard Simmons an option that is, believe it or not,
"We use the term 'motivation' to mean drive," "Without that
particular instinct, as a species, we would die out. It has two main
components: dynamism, or the impetus to do something, and direction, or
the impetus to do one specific thing rather than another. But
motivational triggers take many different forms: anxiety, thrill
seeking, and the need to achieve, just to name a few."
Put more personally, some people are inspired to make
changes after sinking as low as they feel they can go, and then saying,
"Enough." Others can give themselves a kick in the pants simply by
staring at an unflattering photograph or checking off boxes next to a
list of exercises or contemplating the prospect of a promising evening
out or fitting into a beloved pair of old blue jeans.
"If a person can look honestly at the choices she is
making and realize that she has the option to do things differently,
then she can often get herself motivated to change," "But first
you have to understand the significance of feeling bad or not fitting
into your clothes. That discomfort, should you choose to acknowledge it,
is what challenges you to question the status quo."
"How do you take that feeling of desperation and those
short-term goals and turn them into a program?" asks Chris Imbo,
co-owner of Casa, a fitness club in New York City. "You show people the
pleasure of taking control of their lives." Trainers such as Imbo help
clients define their goals, set up realistic schedules to achieve them,
and act as one-man (or -woman) cheering sections.
What's In It For Me?
But the little private tricks most of us employ in pursuit of
self-control are often as individual as our fingerprints. There is, for
example, motivation that stems from the inducement of a reward. Lisa, a
Manhattan writer, forbids herself to watch soap operas anywhere but at
the gym. "The only reason I have a tight butt," she says, "is because I
had to find out what was going on in the Nikolas Cassadine story line on
General Hospital." Courtney, a Los Angeles stylist, keeps no
breakfast food in her house specifically so that she has to take a
three-mile walk to a cafι to eat her preferred fresh fruit and bagel.
And though the power of love may move some to compose sonnets and
spray-paint highway overpasses, it spurs others on to weigh skinless
chicken breasts and board StairMasters.
Experts in fitness, nutrition, and psychology have found
that although the appeal of living a healthier, longer life can get
people to start exercising and eating properly, it is rarely strong
enough to inspire them to keep up the regimen. Exercise motivation
consultant Jay Kimiecik, a professor at Miami University in Oxford,
Ohio, has found that long-term exercisers succeed where gym bingers fail
because they focus on doing a physical activity largely for its own
sake. In other words, it's the intrinsic benefits of enjoying what you
do, focusing on a clear goal, and keeping track of both mind and body
while you exercise that keep you going.
"I call it the what's-in-it-for-me approach," says Penny,
a Miami advertising executive. "Sacrifice is so hard to sustain. I
exercise because I love to eat and drink, and I'll only exercise in ways
that I enjoy. Most mornings, I'm up at six, stoked to get out and walk
for an hour or so by the ocean before breakfast. If I ever lived in a
cold climate again God forbid I'd have to take up Latin dancing or
martial arts or something else that's really fun."
Of course, there are other inducements. Dianne, a consultant living in
Santa Monica, finds her large Airedale to be more demanding than a
friend might be when it comes to forcing her to get out and walk.
Beatrice, a Manhattan architect, finds that the buddy system works for
dieting. "I'll go on a diet with someone in the office so I won't feel
like the only one who's deprived. We'll even eat each other's brown-bag
lunches to break up the monotony. And I'm competitive, so I want to be
the one who's lost more weight by the end."
In moderation, that kind of competition can be healthy,
but the genesis of other types of motivation is not always positive.
Scare tactics, which seem particularly potent in the short-term, work as
well. Cruel as it may sound, for Jennifer, a political aide in
Washington, D.C., it's envisioning her own plump mother naked that
gets her to the gym on time. Isabelle, an editor in East Hampton, New
York, remembers a particularly unappetizing Buddhist tract that
instructed fasting monks to "contemplate the remains of their stomachs"
as being a useful dessert inhibitor. And Sara, a Chicago businesswoman,
agrees to pay her assistant $1,000 whenever she goes off her diet or
skips a workout. She's had to fork it over twice in the six years since
initiating the persevere-or-pay plan. "Although some people respond to
more positive forms of encouragement," "others, who may have
failed a lot in the past, find pain a much more powerful motivator."
"I've studied what drives big eaters and tried to develop an alternative
way of thinking. I tell them things like, 'Only the thin say, 'No,
thank you.' And, 'Do you like it enough to wear it?' I appeal to the
fact that certain foods and eating habits have not done well by them."
Visualization is another tool that helps some people
literally to see their way through a diet or exercise program. "When we
see something in our mind," "it becomes the script we live by."
At the Casa fitness club in Manhattan, a giant map of Mount Everest is
pinned on the wall to enable clients to visualize their progress, so
that it isn't just the improvement of their own bodies that encourages
them to keep working out but the sense of achievement they get as they
move individual flags from camp to camp and ascend the mountain. "Each
camp represents a short-term goal," . "You have to accumulate points by
running, biking, walking, or using the Versa Climber for a certain
number of miles." (The real trick? Doing it without oxygen.)
Of course, if gearing up the first time to get fit or
lose weight is difficult, then getting cracking after a relapse is an
even bigger challenge. It's one that Marion, a film development
executive in Los Angeles, had to face after gaining back a quarter of
her initial 50-pound weight loss. "It's funny. I made mistakes the
second time around that I didn't make before," she recalls. "A big one
was that I went to the gym for the first time in a long time wearing the
same workout clothes I'd worn when I was really in shape. And I saw
myself jiggling and looking awful while everyone else was in their
little thongs and exercise bras. I never wanted to go back there again.
It was just too painful." The moral of the fable? "You've got to find
clothes that make you feel good. I shop for the perfect sweatpants and
T-shirt the way I do for a dinner party outfit."
In the end, we are motivated by the desire to look
good, to feel in control, and to live healthier lives. "How we look has
a lot to do with how happy we are,". "And studies have shown that
how in control we are has a lot to do with how long we live." Happiness
and longevity: they're probably worth a push-up or two.
There is a mood abroad that for women to look 'nice' is simply
pandering to men. It is also mooted that being 'fat' is okay and if
people don't like you the way you are - then 'stuff them'. That ladies
is a 'cop-out'! Look nice for you, and because it is the healthier
option. If it helps you to have a happier and more successful social
life - then that's a better motive. The choice is yours!
Is Late Night Snacking
Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Efforts?
To avoid late night eats, brush your teeth after your last meal of
the day. Just knowing that you have to brush them again if you eat
something makes you think twice before doing it.
Whole-Grain Diet Can Ward Off Stroke
A single slice of whole-wheat bread a day can be a lifesaver, says a
report that shows that a higher intake of whole-grain foods reduces the
risk of stroke by more than 40 percent. The effect is so striking that
replacing refined grains with whole grains by even one serving a day may
have significant benefits in reducing the risk of stroke.
Recommended Body Fat Levels:
Men and women carry fat in different places on their body. Men retain
the greatest level of body fat in their abdominal area. Women retain the
greatest level of body fat in their hips and thighs. The recommended
body fat levels for men and women according to the American College of
Sports Medicine are as follows:
Low: 6-10% fat
Optimal: 11-17% fat
Moderate: 18-20% fat
Obesity: Greater than 25% fat
Low: 14-18% fat
Optimal: 19-22% fat
Moderate: 23-30% fat
Obesity: Greater than 30% fat
It 's considered unhealthy for men to have a body fat percentage below 3
percent and women to have a body fat percentage below 11 percent. A body
fat percentage of over 20 percent for men and over 30 percent for women
is also considered unhealthy.
Body fat and body weight
are affected by the following factors:
-Genetic body type (somatype)
-Daily dietary habits
-Physical activity level
Body Type or Somatype:
Somatype is another term for body type. Most people have a genetic
predisposition toward one specific somatype and supportive traits from a
second somatype. There are three genetic somatypes: ectomorph, mesomorph,
-An ectomorph (endurance athlete) possesses a low body fat percentage
level, small bones size, a high metabolism, and a small amount of muscle
mass and muscle size.
-A mesomorph (power athlete) possesses a low to medium body fat
percentage level, medium to large bone size, a medium to high
metabolism, and a large amount of muscle mass and muscle size.
-An endomorph (non-athlete) possesses a high body fat percentage level,
large bone size, a slow metabolism, and a small amount of muscle mass
and muscle size.
Your body type is something you 're born with and can 't necessarily
change. However, you obviously can change your dietary habits and level
of physical activity to positively affect your body fat percentage.
What you eat and the way you eat can greatly affect your body fat level
as well as your overall health and well-being. Your nutritional needs
will obviously vary depending upon your health and fitness goals. At the
same time, even if your health goals are modest, it 's a good idea to
get some sense of nutrition's role in total fitness. You may be
pleasantly surprised to find that you can make minor changes to your
eating habits and end up with a much healthier diet. Additional
sub-sections in this section cover the topics of nutrition in greater
detail, but if you want specific dietary recommendations, you should
consult your doctor or a registered dietician.
Body Fat Myths and Misconceptions:
There are a number of common myths and misconceptions about body fat.
Banish these from your mind if you want to set yourself on a course for
greater fitness and health. Myth number 1 is that fat can be turned into
muscle, or vice versa. Muscle is a tissue and fat is a substance.
Therefore muscle and fat cannot create one another.
Myth number 2 is that if you weigh more on the scale, you must be
overweight. This is untrue. Muscle (lean body mass) weighs approximately
75 percent more than fat. In other words, you can increase your actual
body weight without increasing your body fat. You can even increase your
body weight and at the same time decrease your percentage of body fat.
Myth number 3 is that weighing yourself on a scale is the best way to
determine if you are overweight and have too high a body fat level. In
fact, feeling how your clothes fit on your body is a better way to
measure body fat loss. You 'll also get a better sense of whether you
're losing body fat by looking in the mirror with no clothes on.
Physical Activity Levels for Body Fat and
The amount of physical exercise you get has a profound effect upon your
level of body fat. If you increase your physical activity level, you
will expend greater amounts of calories and fat, depending upon how long
and at what level of intensity you exercise (expending 3,500 calories
burns up one pound of fat). Here are some general guidelines:
-Consistent aerobic/cardiovascular exercise (20 minutes, three times per
week) will improve your cardiovascular system, increase your metabolism,
and burn body fat.
Your nutritional needs will vary depending upon your health and fitness
goals. If your aim is to lose body fat and body weight, you need to
become familiar with the variables that affect weight loss and body fat
loss. Above all, you should realize that it 's more important to lose
body fat than to lose overall body weight. Losing body fat reduces your
risk for coronary artery disease, while losing overall body weight
doesn't necessarily reduce this risk. In other words, you shouldn't just
cut your calorie intake. Instead you should reduce your intake of fatty
foods and increase your physical activity level.
Essential Nutrients: There are
six essential nutrients that you need on a daily basis. Water Vitamins
Minerals Carbohydrates Fats Proteins Water Water is the most essential
nutrient the body needs. Forty to sixty percent of your body weight is
water. Muscle composition is approximately 70% water. When you exercise,
your body loses water through perspiration (dehydration). It is
important that you continuously drink water while you are exercising and
throughout the day. Eight to ten glasses (8 fluid ounces) of water are
recommended throughout the day for the average person. Your individual
level of water intake relates specifically to your body weight, height
and activity levels. Consult a registered dietician for specific details
about your own personal consumption.
Vitamins and minerals are
essential to your daily diet and are found in the natural foods that we
consume in our daily diet (fruits, vegetables, meats and whole grains).
Vitamins are organic compounds (natural and contain carbon), which
provide energy to the body and are needed in small amounts to assist
with chemical reaction within the cells. Vitamins come in two forms;
fat-soluble and water-soluble. -Fat Soluble Vitamins (A, D, E, K) are
stored in the adipose tissue (fat tissue) and can build up high levels
of toxins in the body if they are not utilized. -Water Soluble Vitamins
(B, C) are excreted if your daily amount of intake is too great and can
be toxic in the body if they are not utilized. Minerals are inorganic
substances (unnatural and man made) and they regulate processes within
Minerals are incorporated into
different structures within the body to create enzymes, hormones,
skeletal bones, skeletal tissues, teeth and fluids. Calcium and
phosphorus are the two most common minerals found in the body. Some of
the other prevalent minerals found in the body are; iron, zinc, sodium,
potassium, magnesium, fluoride, sulphur, copper, and chloride. If
mineral levels are overabundant in the body, such as sodium, they may
facilitate negative effects in the body. High sodium levels may elevate
blood pressure. If mineral levels are inadequate in the body, such as
iron, they may facilitate negative effects in the body. Low iron levels
in women can produce anaemia (a deficiency in blood iron levels).
Anaemia can restrict oxygen and carbon dioxide removal from the cells.
Low calcium levels can facilitate irregular muscle contractions, bone
density loss, blood clotting and improper brain functioning.
A calorie, or kilocalorie (Kcal),
is a measure of heat energy. Food calories are nutrients and supply
energy to the body. It is essential that you take in the recommended
amount of calories per day. The caloric intake level that 's appropriate
for you depends on a number of factors, including your height, weight,
and gender. If you want to determine a specific figure that is,
approximately how many calories you should consume in a day again,
simply work it out from your weight and energy output