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Apr 2011

The Third Diet-Day Hump: How to Overcome the Trap

By Penny Love Hoff

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The third day of any diet is absolutely the worst.

Author Martha Beck wrote a book called “The Four-Day Win” in which she explains that if you can make it through day three of any diet you are 90 percent more likely to get to your goal.

Firstly, we often eat out of habit, because we want to, not because we are hungry. Eating is extremely enjoyable.

Hunger is something very different. Hunger is a demand, not an option. Real hunger, although part of the daily life of millions of people on this planet, is uncommon in our Western world except among the very poor and those engaged in dieting. One thing you learn from the worst moments in a diet is what hunger really is.

Getting familiar with hunger teaches you how disconnected your desire to eat is from your body’s need for calories and how important it is, because of that, to control what you eat by some means other than instinct or will power.

This is where meal planning comes in. Planning meals in advance may seem like a pain and a real joy-kill as far as ruining the spontaneity that makes life enjoyable.

Eating is important; it’s one of very few things in life that isn’t optional. If you don’t eat, you die. But it is also true that if you eat too much for too long, you die.

You wouldn’t entertain the idea of investing in a company that didn’t have a budget, where the staff said, “We just spend whatever we feel like most days. It’ll all work out in the long run.” Not only would such a company probably go bankrupt, its department heads would have no way of knowing where the money was going and they’d have no way to measure actual performance against goals to discover where problems lay.

But by trying to “play it by ear” about what you eat or to try to balance your long term calorie intake meal by meal or by making every food decision on the spur of the moment, you’re placing something even more precious than your money, your own health, in the hands of a process that inevitably leads to major health complications.

Two hundred calories might not seem like much but if you are on a diet this is a 10 percent increase over the number of calories you need to eat maintain your weight.

If this happens regularly enough, there’s a small shift in the balance between calories in and calories out.

If your balance slips up by as little as 150 calories a day — the rest of your sister’s smoothie, a piece of leftover bagel — the scale will start to creep up. Granted, it will only be a third of a pound a week, but the trend line will start to rise.

That’s why meal planning is key.

No matter how long or severe your diet, the first 72 hours are the worst. This sad fact forces most people to abandon their diet which, if continued, would soon yield sustainable weight loss without undue discomfort.

Planning a diet from an understanding of how weight loss really works gives you a handle on how long you’ll have to endure its unpleasantness. Knowing how feedback can control your weight equips you with at least intellectual confidence that once you’ve lost weight you’ll never have to go through that again.

This explains the rocky start every dieter must endure. There is a delay, usually between 48 and 72 hours, between the time you cut back on calories and when fat burning begins in earnest. In those hours, you will experience the most severe shortage of nutrition in the entire course of your diet. You’ll feel cold, weak, irritable, tired yet prone to sleep poorly, and a constant, gnawing hunger that urges you toward the refrigerator and implores you to rethink your resolve to lose weight. It will feel worse than the idea of your vacationing friends on the beach in their bikinis.

What must be endured in the first few days of a diet is an investment that will pay off in reduced suffering later on. It’s worth comparing the undeniable aggravation of dieting with the inestimably less enjoyable by-product of excess weight: heart attacks, strokes, and premature death. If you think of a balance sheet with three days of hunger on one side and six weeks of recuperation from a coronary on the other, it’s a lot easier to get through the first days into the long haul where dieting becomes at most a nuisance to be tolerated.

You won’t be as hungry after four days. That’s only 96 hours. Get four days behind you. It’ll be over before your friends step off the plane complaining that their belt is too tight.

Make sure to follow Penny on Twitter @pennylovehoff or visit her website for more health tips.

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    Mar 2009

    Weekly Fitness Tip: Vigorous Activity Protects Against Breast Cancer

    Get Moving,
    Decrease the Chances of Breast Cancer+

    Normal-weight women who carry out lots of vigorous exercise are approximately 30% less likely to develop breast cancer than those who don’t exercise vigorously. A study of more than thirty thousand postmenopausal American women, reported in BioMed Central’s open access journal Breast Cancer Research, has revealed that a sedentary lifestyle can be a risk factor for the disease – even in women who are not overweight.

    While an Investigator at the National Cancer Institute of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Michael F. Leitzmann led a team of researchers who followed the 32,269 women for eleven years and found that vigorous activity may protect against breast cancer, independent of body weight control. Vigorous activity was judged to include things like heavy housework (scrubbing floors, washing windows, heavy yard-work, digging, chopping wood) and strenuous sports or exercise (running, fast jogging, competitive tennis; aerobics, bicycling on hills, and fast dancing).

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      Mar 2009

      Weekly Fitness Tip: Learn To Lower Stress Levels without Medication

      Less Stress Without Medication
      NEW YORK (CBS)

      Stress is one of the top health complaints for New Yorkers, and there’s new way it can be treated without medication. All you need is a caring pair of hands. New research shows, a supportive, warm touch lowers stress and blood pressure.

      “It’s very powerful, touching, it’s part of healing,” one woman said.

      Dr. Stephan Quentzel from Beth Israel Medical Center explains, “Chronic stress in particular is related to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, across the board major killers.

      A study followed married couples and found that massage and other non-sexual caring forms of touch lowered stress hormones and blood pressure especially among men. It also increased a hormone called oxytocin which has a calming effect.

      “Changes in the brain, changes in stress hormone levels, changes in how our blood clots, all of it is tied to stress levels,” Dr. Quentzel said.

      For years, health care workers have noted the healing power of what is called “the laying on of hands.” Reports have shown that regular physical contact helps patients heal better, faster. “It does relieve stress, definitely, like affection and just human contact,” one man said.

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        Mar 2009

        Weekly Fitness Tip: Join The Best Health Club in Stamford

        Thank you for making us #1 health club in Stamford

        Sportsplex is Voted Best Health Club
        Have your friends mention this and they will receive a free 7 day trial!

        On behalf of the staff here at Sportsplex we would like to thank our members for their loyalty and enthusiasm.

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          Feb 2009

          Weekly Fitness Tip: Low-Cal Desserts that include Chocolate

          5 Easy Low-Cal Desserts that include Chocolate

          Banana-Peanut Butter Sandwich. Peel a banana and cut it in half lengthwise. Spread 1 tablespoon creamy reduced-fat peanut butter onto the cut side of one half, then top with the other half to create a banana sandwich. Cut into bite-size pieces, if desired.

          Low-Cal “Ice Cream” Sandwich. Create a homemade frozen treat by sandwiching 2 tablespoons sugar-free whipped topping between 2 fat-free chocolate graham crackers. Cover with plastic wrap and pop into the freezer for 1 hour.

          Low-Cal Peanut Butter Cup. Stir 1 teaspoon creamy reduced-fat peanut butter into a sugar-free, fat-free chocolate pudding cup. It tastes just like a peanut butter cup!

          Not-So-Decadent Chocolate-Covered Strawberries. Dip 5 or 6 large fresh strawberries into 2 tablespoons fat-free chocolate sauce for a guilt-free version of chocolate-covered strawberries.

          Ricotta Fruit Cup. Fill a wineglass or parfait glass half-full with blueberries or fresh sliced strawberries. Top with 1/2 cup fat-free ricotta cheese, then drizzle with honey and sprinkle with cinnamon.

          *Adapted from The Biggest Loser Success Secrets

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            Feb 2009

            Weekly Fitness Tip: Healthy Habits for Wellness and Prevention

            A Series of Healthy Habits to Live By
            as scene on
            | watch upcoming weeks postings,  healthy habits 2-13 will be revealed

            1st of 13 Healthy Habits: EAT BREAKFAST Every Morning

            Breakfast eaters are champions of good health. Research shows people who have a morning meal tend to take in more vitamins and minerals and less fat and cholesterol. The result is often a leaner body, lower cholesterol count and less chance of overeating.

            “That one act [of eating breakfast] seems to make a difference in people’s overall weight,” says Melinda Johnson, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association (ADA). She says breakfast can hold off hunger pangs until lunchtime and make high-calorie vending machine options less enticing.

            For kids, breakfast appears to enhance alertness, attention and performance on standardized achievement tests, the ADA reports.

            To get the full benefits of breakfast, the Mayo Clinic recommends a meal with carbohydrates, protein and a small amount of fat. Its experts say that because no single food gives you all the nutrients you need, eating a variety of foods is essential to good health.

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              Feb 2009

              Weekly Fitness Tip: IHRSA and USPTA Together, Promote Benefits of Exercise

              BOSTON – February 5, 2009

              The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), and the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA), the world’s oldest and largest association of tennis-teaching professionals, have joined forces to promote the preventive health benefits of exercise on Capitol Hill.

              The partnership aligns two major initiatives:
              The USPTA’s Tennis – for the health of it! SM, a campaign to make the general public aware of the tremendous health, fitness and psychological benefits of tennis and encourage people to get out and play the sport as a part of their regular fitness regimen; and IHRSA’s “Vision for a Healthier America,” a policy platform asserting that regular physical activity, as a core component of prevention and health promotion, will lead to a healthier, happier and more productive America, while reining in skyrocketing health care costs.

              Joe Moore, President and CEO of IHRSA. “At this critical time in our nation, as Congress debates the importance of physical activity as a core component of preventive health care, we are thrilled to join with USPTA to bring the message of Tennis – for the health of it! to Capitol Hill.”

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                Jan 2009

                Weekly Fitness Tip: Make the Most of Your Metabolism

                Revving Your Engine

                Though some of the factors affecting metabolic rate can’t be changed, happily, there are ways to maximize the metabolism you’re born with-even when you’re dieting.
                As scene on

                Among the best ways is exercise. This includes aerobic workouts to burn more calories in the short term and weight training to build the muscles that will boost your metabolism in the long run.

                “Since muscle burns more calories than fat-even while at rest-the more muscles you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate, which means the more calories your body will be burning just to sustain you,” Kimball says.

                Personal fitness trainer Kelli Calabrese MS, CSCS, ACE, notes that every pound of muscle in our bodies burns 35 calories a day, while each pound of fat burns just 2 calories per day.

                While 30 minutes of aerobic exercise may burn more calories than 30 minutes of weight training, Calabrese says, “in the hours following the cessation of exercise, the weight training has a longer-lasting effect on boosting metabolism.”

                Having extra muscle also means you can eat more and gain less.

                Adds Yanagisawa: “We don’t tell people to exercise while dieting only to burn calories-we also know that exercise builds muscle, and that is what will help you burn more calories and maintain the weight loss you work so hard to achieve.”

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                  Jan 2009

                  Weekly Fitness Tip: You Are Worth It

                  Like You, 48% Not Willing to Sacrifice Their Health

                  Interesting statistics from a poll in Money Magazine. by Loni Kao Stark

                  When asked the question of what they were willing and unwilling to part with in a down economy, 1,383 respondents gave some interesting responses. For me was also an acid test of our collective values.

                  Not willing to give up:
                  48% said they are not willing to give up their Gym membership:
                  Thumbs up. I agree.
                  My body can’t be traded in and needs to stay healthy for a lifetime.

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                    Jan 2009

                    Weekly Fitness Tip: Personal Training Will Help You Stay the Course

                    Give an Exercise Plan at Least 2 Months

                    Do you find yourself continually starting exercise programs only to quit just weeks later?
                    If so, you could be asking too much of yourself in terms of motivation.

                    Studies show that most people need to stick with a plan for 30 to 60 days before their commitment to exercise takes hold. Unfortunately, many of us give up sooner, discouraged if we don’t approach each workout with zeal.

                    Perhaps one answer is to look at motivation as another “muscle.” Just as biceps, abs and glutes gradually strengthen as they are exercised over time, so does motivation grow stronger with practice.

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