Whether it's you or a little one heading back to school or you just need to change up a stale lunchtime routine, a sandwich is the perfect place to start. Something as simple as two pieces of bread leaves room for an indefinite amount of stacked creations. And when done the right way, it makes for a filling, healthy, and nutrient-rich option. Let the brown-bagging begin.
It sounds simple in theory, but learning how to differentiate between boredom and hunger can be a struggle. If you ever find yourself standing at the fridge, wondering just how you ended up there — yet again! — these tips will help you build new habits and curb unnecessary weight gain.
Become aware: Psychologist and proponent of mindful eating Dr. Susan Albers urges her clients to take stock of their habits. "We're often just mindlessly eating without really being hungry . . . we have habits around certain time periods," she says. If you find yourself heading to the fridge for a snack or mini-meal when you have nothing else going on, take stock of how you're feeling at that moment. Are you stressed? Bored? Unless you're actually hungry, there's no reason to chow down.
Rethink TV time: When you haven't planned out an afternoon or an evening, it can be tempting to tune in to the tube and sink into the couch. If you're constantly snacking when you're watching television, drop the fork and start making better use of your time. Keep a set of free weights nearby for a little lifting as you watch, or drop to the floor for these TV-friendly exercises that won't get in the way of keeping up with your favorite show.
Keep reading for two more healthy tips.
Elliptical trainers are a gym favorite. Not only is this cardio machine joint friendly, it's incredibly versatile. You can go forward and backward, work your arms and legs, or focus on your core — all while getting your heart rate up. Here are some tips to help you maximize your minutes on the elliptical machine.
- If your focus is cardio: Watch your strides per minute. SPM is the number of times your legs go around in 60 seconds, a stat most ellipticals conveniently track for you. After warming up, aim to keep your strides per minute between 140 and 160. If you're doing intervals on the elliptical, make sure your "sprints" are above 160. Here's a great elliptical workout with sprint intervals so you can start practicing this technique.
- If your focus is toning your thighs: Pay attention to your feet. Pressing more with your heels will work your hamstrings and butt more, while pressing more with your toes will tone your quads on the front of your thighs. Pedaling backward on the machine is also a great way to tone your backside — hamstrings and glutes. Increasing the incline is another way to focus the work on your glutes. Do try this 35-minute workout that truly targets the backside.
Interested in a few more tips? Then read more.
There's no guarantee to living a long life, but if you want to hedge your bets, there are some things you can start doing right now that can help. Read on for 10 things you can start doing today, and let us know how many you already do in the comments!
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- Find out why backpacks are back in style and packing a punch — Fashion
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- Whip up a batch of delicious parmesan crisps — Food
Be sure to squeeze some pool time into the last few days of Summer, but skip the crawl and backstroke. You can burn a bunch of calories in the pool — no swimming required. Here are five moves that will get your heart rate up while keeping you cool. Add our favorite ab and core exercises into your watery workout to target your middle, too.
Curious as to what the best thing is for your health, sanity, and weight loss? Our friends at Shape have the answer!Imagine two women you know: one is your model of fitness success (she clearly knows how to slim down correctly and has the body to show for it), and the other is what you fear. This friend has her heart in the right place, but no matter how hard she works, she still struggles with the process and doesn’t have the body she wants. The troubling part is that when you talk to both, they share a common approach:
1. They eat meals that focus on lean protein and vegetables.
2. They exercise at least three times per week, focusing on both weights and cardio.
3. They know which foods are truly healthy and which they need to limit — and they do.
And yet one friend — the one who continues to struggle — can’t maintain her focus. She has trouble controlling her hunger and always craves sweets and, despite her biggest efforts in the gym, she doesn’t seem to achieve the same results as someone else following the same program.
The problem might seem obvious at first. After all, one woman strays from her diet more than the other. And if exercise "isn’t working," it probably means she just doesn’t really know how to train. Maybe it’s genetics. Maybe she’s lazy or lacks willpower. Or maybe diet or exercise isn’t the real problem.
Sleep Controls Your Diet
The debate about the best way to achieve a healthy weight always revolves around eating and movement. If you want to look better, the most common suggestion is "eat less and move more." But it’s not that simple, or even accurate. Sometimes you want to eat less and move more, but it seems impossible to do so. And there might be a good reason: between living your life, working, and exercising, you’re forgetting to sleep enough. Or maybe, more importantly, you don’t realize that sleep is the key to being rewarded for your diet and fitness efforts. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, more than 35 percent of people are sleep deprived. And when you consider that the statistic for obesity is nearly identical, it’s easy to connect the dots and discover that the connection is not a coincidence.
Not sleeping enough — less than seven hours of sleep per night — can reduce and undo the benefits of dieting, according to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. In the study, dieters were put on different sleep schedules. When their bodies received adequate rest, half of the weight they lost was from fat. However, when they cut back on sleep, the amount of fat lost was cut in half — even though they were on the same diet. What’s more, they felt significantly hungrier, were less satisfied after meals, and lacked energy to exercise. Overall, those on a sleep-deprived diet experienced a 55 percent reduction in fat loss compared to their well-rested counterparts.
Poor Sleep Changes Your Fat Cells
Think about the last time you had a bad night of sleep. How did you feel when you woke up? Exhausted. Dazed. Confused. Maybe even a little grumpy? It’s not just your brain and body that feel that way — your fat cells do too. When your body is sleep deprived, it suffers from "metabolic grogginess." The term was coined by University of Chicago researchers who analyzed what happened after just four days of poor sleep — something that commonly happens during a busy week. One late night at work leads to two late nights at home, and next thing you know, you’re in sleep debt. But it’s just four nights, so how bad could it be? You might be able to cope just fine. After all, coffee does wonders. But the hormones that control your fat cells don’t feel the same way.
Within just four days of sleep deprivation, your body’s ability to properly use insulin (the master storage hormone) becomes completely disrupted. In fact, the University of Chicago researchers found that insulin sensitivity dropped by more than 30 percent. Here's why that's bad: when your insulin is functioning well, fat cells remove fatty acids and lipids from your blood stream and prevent storage. When you become more insulin resistant, fats (lipids) circulate in your blood and pump out more insulin. Eventually this excess insulin ends up storing fat in all the wrong places, such as tissues like your liver. And this is exactly how you become fat and suffer from diseases like diabetes.
Find out how sleep affects food cravings after the break!
If you're headed back to school or are using the start of Fall as a way to get back on the healthy train after a Summer of burgers and ice cream, you'll need a way to pack all those perfectly-portioned lunches and snacks from home. If you're nervous about BPA, which has been linked to all sorts of health issues, you can feel good picking up these reusable BPA-free containers.
Plenty of people swear by Bikram yoga, but I believe in the power of building your own internal fire. Celebrate the end of Summer, and move through a fierce twisting sequence with loads of Vinyasas (Four-Limbed Staff to Up Dog to Down Dog). It will be challenging, but your body will thank you for bringing the heat and releasing nasty toxins as you flow.
This long Labor Day weekend, many of us have been taking advantage of the Summer sun, finally getting to that home renovation, or maybe just relaxing. No matter what you're doing, busy holidays may mean taking a break from your grueling workout routine. Not to worry, your leisure time can still be a Summer calorie burner. Find out how many calories your holiday plans have been whittling away. All calculations are based on a 130-pound woman unless otherwise noted.