Why Isn’t The Scale Moving?!

You’ve been making healthy food choices, watching your portions, exercising, and drinking plenty of water. Your chosen day to weigh-in comes….and the number on the scale hasn’t budged at all!

Fewer things are more frustrating and disappointing for people trying to shed some extra pounds. While we understand the let down, you may be surprised to learn why that pesky scale has stayed still.

The Whoosh Effect

Have you heard of this? Admittedly, the term “whoosh effect” is not scientific, but there is some science behind the theory. When you create a calorie deficit through diet and/or exercise, the fat cells in your body become empty of triglyceride, which gets broken down for energy.

It would seem logical that the fat cells would automatically shrink when that happens, but they actually fill with water first. This water retention may cause the number on the scale to stay the same or even rise slightly. But don’t fret – this is a temporary as your fat cells are waiting for more fat to come back in. After a while your fat cells will give up and the retained water will “whoosh” out, causing body shrinkage and a drop in that dreaded scale number!

So basically, though you might not see the results right away, your body is burning fat! Don’t give up – keep up the hard work you’ve been doing and your body will reward you. Next time the scale is stagnant, you can look forward to a whoosh effect! In the meantime, find some other ways to measure your progress to keep you motivated. Check out our blog post on other ways to measure up here.  

Let us know in the comments if you’ve had a whoosh effect!

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I’m Dreaming of a Dairy-Free Christmas

The holiday season doesn’t have to be a difficult time to make changes in your diet! For our readers out there who are trying to cut down on the dairy without giving up some traditional treats, here is a delicious hot chocolate recipe from Paleo Hacks. Do you have a favorite non-dairy recipe? Share it in the comments!

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Forget the Grocery List! Just Use This…

We found this awesome grocery list posted by our friends at Shape Magazine, and had to share it with our readers! One of the keys to successfully making changes in your diet is planning ahead. Though our team at Fitter Healthier Life agrees that grocery shopping isn’t always a fun chore, this list will at least make it easier for you to make good choices. Check it out here and comment to let us know how it worked for you! http://ow.ly/IaAo30h7ANY

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Good News for People With Type 2 Diabetes!

We came across this wonderful news shared by Diet Doctor – studies are showing that Type 2 Diabetes can be reversed with dietary changes! A very low-carb diet may help people reverse this dangerous condition. Check out the article below for details!

At Fitter Healthier Life, we have long been supporters of healthy eating as a way to prevent (and in some cases reverse) serious health concerns such as diabetes and heart disease. Click here for our review of one of our favorite programs to change your diet in a realistic and sustainable way.

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Amazing Abs Just A Few Moves Away!

There’s a lot of debate in the fitness community about whether targeting certain body parts for improvement is possible. While we do agree that an overall approach to fitness and toning is the most beneficial, exercises to build strength in your core most certainly have merit.

In that spirit, here is a great video from our friends at Shape with some easy ab exercises to help you target your tummy. Try them out and let us know in the comments how they worked for you! http://ow.ly/eN0130h3Pnt

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What Can I Do For My Health Today?

We all know the reality is that achieving major health and fitness goals doesn’t happen overnight. It takes commitment and effort to see results in the long run. However, little changes we can implement today can make a big difference over time. We’ve compiled a list of simple (yet significant!) things you can do to improve your health and wellness today.

  1. Drink More Water – Being properly hydrated can have an immediate effect on health. According to care2.com, drinking enough water eliminates body aches and pains, headaches, and fatigue.
  2. Increase Your Soluble Fiber Intake – This type of fiber found in apples, oats, beets, chia seeds, and barley reduces cholesterol and improves heart health, as shared by onegreenplanet.org. More immediate effects of taking in more soluble fiber include regulated digestion and blood sugar levels.
  3. Hug Someone – Taking care of your health means all aspects of your health – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. In that vein, you can experience an immediate boost of a feel-good hormone called oxytocin when you hug someone you care about. Bodyandsoul.com says a big bear hug “also reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in our bodies.”
  4. Wash Your Hands – Practicing good hygiene by washing your hands regularly is your best defense against the spread of germs, making sure you stay cold and flu free. Proper hand washing means lathering up with soap and water and rubbing for about 20 seconds.
  5. Be Mindful of Your Posture – By making sure you are sitting and standing up straight throughout the day, matador.com says you are making instant improvements in your respiratory and digestive functioning. Over time, good posture alleviates muscle tension as well.
  6. Have an Attitude of Gratitude – Practice by writing down one thing each day in a journal that you are grateful for. According to psychologytoday.com, gratitude is linked to improved well-being, mental health, and happiness.
  7. Bulk Up Your Breakfast with Protein – Start your day with eggs or a whey protein smoothie instead of your usual bagel or muffin. Naturopathic doctor Natasha Turner says on chatelaine.com that protein at breakfast increases your metabolism and energy, and reduces cravings for simple carbs later in the day.

Now you have a list of 7 ideas that you can implement to transform your health immediately! Try one every day this week and let us know how you feel!

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How Vital Are Vitamins?

Do you take vitamin supplements to support your health? At Fitter Healthier Life we believe that natural foods  are the best sources to get the nutrients we need, but we recognize that sometimes we may need to supplement our diets. According to Health.com, ensuring that your body is getting the right vitamins and minerals may reduce risk of health problems such as cancer and heart disease. Since this is the case, this is definitely an important topic to spend some time on to live fitter and healthier. In this post we are looking at some of the most common vitamins and minerals, and  which ones are the most necessary in pill forms vs. in their natural forms (ie fruits and veggies). Disclaimer: this post is not intended as medical advice. Please follow your physician’s recommendations first and foremost and be sure to direct any questions about your own supplements to your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Vitamin C: This is one of the most popular vitamin on the market and is often touted for a multitude of benefits. While vitamin C is safe to take as a supplement, Steven Salzberg points out on Forbes.com that taking too much (over 2000 mg per day) can cause kidney stones and other complications.

What to eat to boost your vitamin C intake: citrus fruits, berries, green peppers, broccoli

  • Vitamin D: Also known as the sunshine vitamin, this helps with calcium absorption and supports bone, lung, and cardiovascular health. Many people can get enough vitamin D by having sun exposure on bare skin for about 10 minutes several times a week, as per medicalnewstoday.com. Older adults as well as people with darker skin or those who do not get enough sun exposure may need to add a supplement.

What to eat to boost your vitamin D intake: fatty fish, fortified dairy products

  • Vitamin E: While vitamin E has benefits for healthy skin and hair, research sited on greatist.com cautions against using supplements. Elevated vitamin E levels can seriously impact health as it may increase the risk of heart disease and prostate cancer. Most people get plenty of vitamin E in their daily diets and do not need to add more.

What to eat to boost your vitamin E intake: dark leafy greens, wheat germ, eggs, nuts and seeds

  • Betacarotene/Vitamin A: Betacarotene is an antioxidant that is converted to vitamin A in the body. It supports healthy immune functioning, healthy vision, and good skin. Though more research is needed, recent studies documented on healthline.com suggest that too much vitamin A may be bad for bone health and may increase the risk of lung cancer and heart disease in smokers. For this reason, try to get your betacarotene from foods rather than pills.

What to eat to boost your vitamin A intake: dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, carrots. 

  • Calcium: Calcium is crucial for bone health and to prevent osteoporosis as we age. Research shows that supplements are not the best way to get your calcium needs met though, so try to stay away from them unless you don’t eat any of the foods that contain it (or by your doc’s recommendation of course).

What to eat to boost your calcium intake: milk, yogurt, cheese, tofu, kale

  • B Vitamins: B6 and B12 are important for a variety of healthy functions. Dr. Whitaker says of B-complex vitamins on his site, “clear toxins from the body, facilitate enzymatic reactions required for detoxification, and keep the liver and other organs in tip-top shape.” The NIH suggests that complications are possible from taking B supplements long-term, so people should aim to get this vitamin through food sources.

What to eat to boost your vitamin B intake: poultry, fish, eggs, milk, soy beans, lentils, oatmeal, rice, spinach, asparagus, eggs, avocado

Continue to eat vitamin-rich foods for a complete diet! Have a question or want to leave a comment – please feel free to do so below.

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Top 5 Smoothie Recipes

We have scoured the web for our favorite smoothie recipes and made a list of our top picks for you to choose from. Smoothies make great meal replacements, snacks, or pre and post-workout energy boosters. There are tons of different ways to enjoy smoothies – with or without yogurt, vegan, raw, fruit, green, paleo – the list goes on and on. Smoothie recipes can be tweaked to meet any dietary requirements. We love to start the day with a nutritious breakfast smoothie, or have one mid-afternoon on a hot summer day to cool down with a quick metabolism-boosting snack. See below for some yummy ideas to add smoothies to your diet:

1. Banana Ginger Smoothie

We love this tasty and tummy-soothing recipe from Prevention.com. For an extra frosty treat, use a frozen banana!

1 banana, sliced
¾ c (6 oz) vanilla yogurt
1 Tbsp honey
½ tsp freshly grated ginger

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Serves 2.

2. Superfruit Smoothie

This sweet treat from Delish.com packs a punch with delicious superfruits. Sub the frozen cherries for fresh if they are in season!

1 cup frozen cherries
1 kiwi, peeled and chopped (reserve 2 slices for garnish)
1 cup almond milk
1 Tbsp Chia seeds

Blend on high until smooth. Serves 2.

3. Peanut Butter and Jelly Smoothie

This nod to a favorite childhood snack from our friends at Eatingwell.com is a protein rich recipe for any adult on the go. It even helps you get a serving of vegetables in!

½ cup low-fat milk
⅓ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 cup baby spinach
1 cup frozen banana slices (about 1 medium banana)
½ cup frozen strawberries
1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
1-2 teaspoons pure maple syrup or honey (optional)

Add milk and yogurt to a blender, then add spinach, banana, strawberries, peanut butter and sweetener (if using); blend until smooth. Serves 1.

4. Pumpkin Pie Fall Smoothie 

You can enjoy the flavors of fall all year long with this delicious smoothie from RodalesOrganicLife.com. Bonus – pumpkin and apple both deliver healthy servings of fiber to your diet!

1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 apple, cored
Dried cranberries

Combine all ingredients except cranberries in blender and blend until smooth. Top with cranberries. Serves 2.

5. Cookie Dough Protein Smoothie

Our list wouldn’t be complete without a dessert smoothie! This recipe from EdibleSoundBites.com has it all – protein, chocolate, delicious oats – and it’s vegan-friendly! It takes a bit more prep, but the end result is so worth it!

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/3 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1 medium frozen banana
1 tbsp cashew butter (or other nut butter)
2 tbsp hemp seeds
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2-4 ice cubes
Chocolate shavings (optional)

In a small bowl, mix the oats and almond milk. Place in fridge and let it soak for at least 2 hours to soften and thicken. This prevents the oats from giving the smoothie a gritty texture. Place thickened oat mixture into your blender along with the rest of the ingredients (except for the chocolate shavings). Blend on high until smooth. Pour into a tall glass, top with chocolate shavings if desired. Makes 1 large or 2 small servings.

If you are not already blending away, these 5 smoothie recipes can get you started. Next time you visit the market, pick up some of the smoothie staples: your preferred milk (low-fat, almond, soy, coconut, etc), some plain low or non-fat greek yogurt, some bananas (peel and freeze), baby spinach, and some frozen or fresh berries or fruit of your choice. Any smoothie can be boosted with even more nutrition by adding a scoop of protein powder, and a Tbsp of either flax, chia, or hemp seeds. Try out these recipes and leave a comment to let us know how you enjoyed them. Happy blending!

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Which Diet Is Right For Me?

If you have ever tried to change your eating habits as part of your health and fitness goals, then you know there are endless diet options available. So which should you choose? First off, it may help to redefine the word “diet.” Many people think of a diet as a tool for weight loss. We suggest that you think of a diet simply as a way of eating. While the way you eat may help you achieve weight loss or other health goals, many people find it helpful to let go of the mindset in which a diet is a means to an end – a temporary lifestyle change that can be discarded once a goal is met. Most people who choose a diet based on their food and cooking preferences, as well as the ability to live with that particular way of eating in the long-term, are able to maintain healthy eating habits more easily. In this post we define several ways of eating – perhaps one of them may fit for you and your long-term health and fitness goals.

  1. Low-carb: Low-carb diets are getting a lot of attention in the media these days. There are many benefits to a low-carb diet such as normalized blood sugar, reduced cravings for sugary foods, less heartburn, and other improved health markers. This diet involves reducing the amount of carbohydrates (such as pasta and bread) you intake each day and eating a higher proportionate amount of protein and healthy fats. This is a great diet for anyone who is okay with removing certain foods from your meal plan entirely, who does not like counting calories, and who wants their diet to include plenty or real (vs processed) foods. Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt has put together a comprehensive guide to low-carb eating on dietdoctor.com. 
  2. Paleo Diet: The Paleo diet, also known as the caveman’s diet, attempts to return people to simpler ways of eating. Basically, you eat like the hunters and gatherers of old, which means the only things on the table are foods they would have hunted or found – meats, fish, eggs, nuts, leafy greens, fruits and veggies, and seeds. Like the low-carb diet, you remove anything processed, as well as dairy, and foods that can not be eaten in their natural states (such as potatoes). It can be a bit restrictive for some, but we like it for its efforts to keep things simple. Paul VanDyken has created a simple Dos and Don’ts guide to paleo eating on Paleodiet.com to help you get started.
  3. Vegetarian or Vegan: Strict vegetarians do not eat any meat, fish, or poultry. Vegans eliminate these as well as dairy products and eggs, and typically avoid wearing or using anything derived from an animal (such as honey, leather, wool, cosmetics, etc). There are many benefits to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Most people following these ways of eating consume lots of fiber and other nutrients from natural sources. Most vegetarians also consume less saturated fat, which results in lower cholesterol, and reduced risk of hypertension and heart disease. The Vegetarian Resource Group has a great site loaded with information on vegetarianism and veganism, including nutrition, meal plans, and recipes.
  4. Raw Food: This diet has been around for centuries, but has recently become popular again. Eating raw means eating foods that have never been heated over 104–118°F (40–48°C). Raw foods should not have been refined, pasteurized, treated with pesticides or processed in any way. People who eat a raw diet prepare their foods by juicing, soaking, blending, and dehydrating, rather than cooking. Benefits of this way of eating include weight loss, increased energy, and reduced impact on the environment. It takes a lot of commitment, but if removing processed foods from your diet completely is important to you, this may be the way to go. You can get more information on the raw food diet by reading an article by Taylor Jones on Authoritynutrition.com.
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Mindfulness Meditation for Beginners

In order to live a fitter and healthier life, we must address all aspects of wellness – nutrition, physical fitness, and mental health. Engaging in mindfulness meditation is one way to take care of our minds and reduce overall stress. Simply put, being mindful is the practice of being aware and present in the here-and-now. Mindfulness meditation allows us to turn our focus inward and notice what is happening with our thoughts and in our bodies, taking time to separate ourselves from external distractions and stressors as much as is possible. Here are a few basic tips to get you started with this practice:

  1. Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit. Silence your phone and other devices and try to minimize possible distractions. Begin to pay attention to your breathing. Take a look at Barry Boyce’s techniques for preparing your body for mindfulness meditation at Mindful.org. 
  2. Scan your body. Take a mental inventory of what’s happening in your body. Notice (without judgement) where you might have tension or pain, where you feel loose and relaxed, and how your breath feels in your body. If you would like to use a guided meditation to get you started, the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA has some free offerings of different durations here. 
  3. Let go of thoughts. In our everyday lives we often become consumed by thoughts. In mindfulness meditation we try to let them go for a while, giving us a mental respite. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche of LionsRoar.com suggests, “No matter what kind of thought comes up, you should say to yourself, ‘That may be a really important issue in my life, but right now is not the time to think about it. Now I’m practicing meditation.’ It gets down to how honest we are, how true we can be to ourselves, during each session.” Some people find it helpful to use imagery as they let go of their thoughts. For example, try picturing your thoughts as puffy white clouds that float by on the breeze, or leaves being carried away on a running brook.

By introducing mindfulness to your health and wellness routine, you may find yourself better attuned to your body, more able to focus on the present moment, and better equipped to center yourself during stressful situations. Try these basic practices and leave a comment to let us know how it went!

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