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Nov 17

15 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Coppell Trainer Tip

15 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Is it possible to celebrate the season without packing on pounds? You bet! We found 15 simple strategies for preventing holiday weight gain (plus a painless way to actually knock off weight).

Beware the festive 15!
Even if you have superhuman willpower, the holiday season is challenging for everyone. Staying on track can seem so daunting, you feel like swan-diving into the eggnog and sending your sensible routine into hibernation until the New Year. But, as we all know, excess pounds don’t disappear along with the decorations. And nobody wants to start the new year in the hole, body-wise.

Turns out, there’s no need to. “You can have fun without throwing away your healthy habits,” says Elisa Zied, RD, author of Nutrition at Your Fingertips. Check out our 15 rules for a no-gain season. You can indulge and still wake up the same size (or less!) come New Year’s Day.

Weigh yourself twice a week
That’s often enough to make sure you stay on track, but not so often that you take all the fun out of holiday noshing, says Michael Dansinger, MD, an assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine. Step on the scale first thing in the morning when your stomach is empty.

Start your day with a bang
Exercising in the morning can help ensure better behavior all day long, according to a study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

Using brain scans, researchers found that when you work out in the a.m., you not only move more the rest of the day, but you also respond less to pictures of tempting food compared with the days you don’t do a morning workout. The upshot: fewer cravings for high-fat fare.

Be picky, picky, picky
Peruse the buffet before you load your plate to avoid foods you don’t really want, suggests obesity expert Tim Church, MD, a professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University. If, for instance, you could take or leave sushi but adore sliders, don’t start with the tuna rolls hoping to be able to resist the two-bite burger.

“If you pick the stuff you really want and have it in moderation,” Dr. Church notes, “you’ll stave off those cravings that can get you in trouble later on.”

Just say no—everywhere
Willpower is like a muscle: Work it and you get stronger. What’s key is to practice keeping yourself in check in non-food situations, too. “Whether you’re driving in rush hour traffic or dealing with a temperamental kid, there are challenges that require self-control,” Dr. Dansinger says.
Succeed in not honking at that rude driver, he explains, and you’ll be better able to resist dessert at the party.

Avoid banking calories
Cutting back all day so you can indulge at an event that night only sets you up for a pig-out.

Why? You’re freaking starving! “It’s easy to get out of control when you’re faced with high-calorie choices,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, RD, author of The Miracle Carb Diet.

Be sure to eat your three squares and a couple of snacks. Aim for lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean protein.

Concentrate your workouts
So what if you can’t get to boot camp or find time for the treadmill? “Even just 15 minutes can help you maintain your fitness level,” Dr. Church says. For example, jumping rope for 15 minutes torches about 190 calories; a quick yoga sequence at home can help you stay flexible.

Don’t swear off desserts
But practice the three-bite rule to keep your sweet tooth in check. “You’ll get that amazing first taste, a satisfying middle one, and then a lingering third bite,” Zuckerbrot says.

Avoid morning-after food
Have the night of your life, then send guests home with food-filled Tupperware. “It’s the leftovers that do you in,” says Lauren Slayton, RD, founder of Foodtrainers in New York City.

Repeat after us: Out of sight, out of mind…

Drum up some willpower
Under the spell of that peppermint bark your co-worker brought to the office? Before you succumb, try this simple trick: Place the thumb and fingers of one hand on your forehand, a half inch apart.

Tap each finger one at a time, once per second, telling yourself, “Hold on.” Wait 15-20 minutes (return phone calls, check email), and the craving will disappear, according to Tufts University Research. Sounds crazy, but it works.

Cut back on diet soda
In fact, any bubbly beverage can lead to belly bloat, explains Zuckerbrot. “The carbon dioxide trapped in the bubbles of fizzy drinks causes a buildup of air, which can lead to gas.

Eat your H20
Instead of trying to down eight glasses of water (near impossible when you’re busy), have a green salad with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette and a few slices of avocado. “These water-rich foods help keep you hydrated, so that everything moves through your system faster,” Zied says.

Brew up a pot of peppermint tea
Research shows peppermint can help calm stomach muscles and reduce gas. Not a fan? Try chamomile, suggests Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, author of Read It Before You Eat It.

Chew slowly
We know: When your to-do list is never-ending, it’s hard to make yourself downshift, even at mealtime. But eating fast is a quick recipe for an expanded waistline.

Here’s why: “The more air you swallow, the more bloated you’ll get,” Taub-Dix notes.

Get plenty of potassium
The nutrient counterbalances sodium, so you retain less water, Zuckerbrot explains. Our favorite potassium possibilities: bananas, papayas, kiwis, strawberries, and cantaloupe.

Or serve up some asparagus or dandelion greens to get the bonus of a natural diuretic.

Keep calm and kick cravings
Stressed by the sight of that holiday spread? Take deep breaths before you grab a plate. Research suggests that poeple who practice stress reduction techniques are able to prevent weight gain.

Close your eyes and focus on your reaching for 30 seconds. Then reevaluate whether you really want to fill your plate; chances are you don’t.

Alyssa Shaffer for (edited)
Nov 10

8 Scientifically-Backed Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Coppell Trainer Tip

When your mood is falling as fast as the thermometer, these small lifestyle changes may help boost your spirits.

If you’re starting to feel like nothing but a very full, very strong pot of coffee will get you out of bed, join the club. Holiday bills are high, temperatures are low, and the days are way too short. Here, scientifically proven ways to lift your spirits and ease the mid-winter doldrums.

1. Make your environment brighter. When your body is craving more daylight, sitting next to an artificial light—also called a light box—for 30 minutes per day can be as effective as antidepressant medication. Opening blinds and curtains, trimming back tree branches, and sitting closer to windows can also help provide an extra dose of sunshine.

2. Eat smarter. Certain foods, like chocolate, can help to enhance your mood and relieve anxiety. Other foods, like candy and carbohydrates provide temporary feelings of euphoria, but could ultimately increase feelings of anxiety and depression.

3. Simulate dawn. People with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that usually begins in late fall or early winter and fades as the weather improves, may feel depressed, irritable, lethargic, and have trouble waking up in the morning—especially when it’s still dark out. Studies show that a dawn simulator, a device that causes the lights in your bedroom to gradually brighten over a set period of time, can serve as an antidepressant and make it easier to get out of bed.

4. Exercise. A 2005 study from Harvard University suggests walking fast for about 35 minutes a day five times a week or 60 minutes a day three times a week improved symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Exercising under bright lights may be even better for seasonal depression: A preliminary study found that exercise under bright light improved general mental health, social functioning, depressive symptoms, and vitality, while exercise in ordinary light improved vitality only.

5. Turn on the tunes. In a 2013 study, researchers showed that listening to upbeat or cheery music significantly improved participant’s mood in both the short and long term.

6. Plan a vacation. Longing for sunnier days at the beach? Research shows that the simple act of planning a vacation causes a significant increase in overall happiness.

7. Help others. Ladling out soup at the local shelter or volunteering your time can improve mental health and life satisfaction.

8. Get outside. Talking yourself into taking a walk when the temperatures plummet isn’t easy, but the benefits are big: Spending time outside (even when it’s chilly!) can improve focus, reduce symptoms of SAD, and lower stress levels.

Nov 04

Increase the Level of Gratitude in Your Life

Coppell Trainer Tip

Increase the Level of Gratitude in Your Life

Gratitude and happiness are intertwined and for good reason. It is no coincidence that positive psychology practitioners and happiness experts state that in order to increase your contentment in life you need to boost your level of gratitude.

You can never be too grateful. When you take for granted the people and things you have in your life, instead of being grateful for them, you are missing out on an opportunity to live a healthier and happier life.

You are also ignoring the strength of social connection that gratitude creates. Not only will practicing gratitude benefit you psychologically and socially, but physically you will feel better as well.

Like anything else in life the benefits of gratitude can be cultivated through concentrated practice. There are a multitude of exercises at your disposal that will sustain your desire to manifest more gratitude into your life. And therefore, more well-being and contentment.

If you would like to increase the level of gratitude in your life, here are five suggestions for getting started.

1) Keep a Daily Gratitude Journal

This is probably the most effective strategy for increasing your level of gratitude. Set aside time daily to record several things that you are grateful for. (Typically, people list three to five.) You can write when you get up or at the end of the day. Pick a time that you will consistently have available. You can use a book like the Journal of Gratitude or write on loose-leaf paper or a notebook. The important thing is to establish the daily practice of paying attention to gratitude-inspiring events and to write them down. In Emmons’ words, the act of writing “allows you to see the meaning of events going on around you and create meaning in your own life.” For an example of the use of a gratitude journal, see Joan Buchman’s article The Healing Power of Gratitude.

2) Use Visual Reminders

Two obstacles to being grateful are forgetfulness and lack of awareness. You can counter them by giving yourself visual cues that trigger thoughts of gratitude. Emmons says he puts Post-It notes listing his blessings in many places, including on his refrigerator, mirrors and the steering wheel of his car. Another strategy is to set a pager, computer or PDA to signal you at random times during the day and to use the signal to pause and count blessings.

3) Have a Gratitude Partner

Social support encourages healthy behaviors, because we often lack the discipline to do things on our own. Just as you may be more likely to exercise if you have an exercise partner or participate in a class, you may be able to maintain the discipline of gratitude more easily if you have a partner with whom to share gratitude lists and to discuss the effects of gratitude in your life. Emmons says, “If we hang out with ungrateful people, we will ‘catch’ one set of emotions; if we choose to associate with more grateful individuals, the influence will be in another direction. Find a grateful person and spend more time with him or her.”

4) Make a Public Commitment

We feel accountable when we make commitments to others. In our self-help course, we have people set weekly goals for themselves. The fact that the goal is made publicly to a group, makes it more likely that people will follow through. For a discussion of how to achieve short-term goals, see the chapter on goals and targets in our course text, available in the Online Books section of the Library.

5) Change Your Self-Talk

We all carry on an inner dialogue with ourselves that is often called “self-talk.” When this inner conversation is negative, our mood is usually low. Research has shown that we can change our mood by changing the tone of the things we say to ourselves. For an introduction to this approach, called cognitive therapy, and a description of a three-step process to change your self-talk, see the article “Taming Stressful Thoughts”.


Oct 28

8 Ways Gratitude Can Improve Your Life

blog , Coppell Trainer Tip

Want to drastically improve your overall health and well-being with one simple strategy? You don’t need to spend money on pills. There is no miracle diet involved, nor an extreme workout regimen. And you don’t need go off in search of a fountain of youth. You just need gratitude.

Getting grateful is about focusing on the good in your life, and transitioning your mind away from the bad. “You can do this anytime with a technique called ‘cognitive reframing,’ or ‘thought restructuring,’” says psychologist and counselor Karla Ivankovich, PhD. “In doing this, we become cognizant of each negative thought, and then we replace it with something that reframes the thought in a more positive manner.” For instance, if your boss drops extra work on your plate for the week, you can reframe the thought to examine what you like about the task or appreciate the fact that you have a good job.

The other way you can cultivate an attitude of gratitude is through journaling. Every night before bed, write down three things you’re thankful for. As you fall to sleep, don’t worry about the anxieties and hiccups from the previous day, instead think about those positives you just put to paper.

Research has shown both meditating on and journaling about moments of gratitude can substantially improve one’s health. How so? Just count the ways below.

A Gratitude Practice Has Been Linked to…

In a 2016 study, researchers noticed dispositional mindfulness—also known as “everyday” mindfulness, just like Ivankovich detailed above—may be associated with better glucose regulation in study participants with type-2 diabetes.

According to work by Robert Emmons of the University of California, Davis and Michael McCullough of the University of Miami, getting grateful can lead to adopting healthier habits. The researchers had three groups journal a few sentences each week. One group detailed things they were thankful for, another wrote about stressors, and a third wrote about positive or negative events from the previous week. At the end of 10 weeks, the group that set out to express gratitude felt more optimistic about their lives, had fewer doctor visits, and exercised more frequently.

In a 2012 study from researchers at the University of Kentucky, those who scored higher on measures of gratitude were less likely to lash out against others—even when they were given negative feedback.

In a 2014 study published in the Journal of Sport Psychology, athletes who showed more gratitude toward their coaches had better self-esteem. The researchers measured their positive vibes after both two and six months, and the same held true.

In a 2015 study, researchers dug into the gratitude scores of participants. Those who scored higher had lower levels of inflammation, which can lead to major heart problems. Oh, and when the men and women journaled about things they were thankful for? They showed a reduction in key inflammatory biomarkers.

In a 2011 study published by the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, just 15 minutes of gratitude journaling each night helped subjects sleep better and longer. With a little positive scribbling, the participants worried less and quieted their thoughts at night.

For more evidence to invest in a notebook, 2014 research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies showed that men and women who wrote down daily moments of kindness and gratitude substantially improved their moods. They had a greater number of happy days than the control group, felt more connected to others, and reduced feelings of anxiety—all in just 14 days.

According to gratitude researcher Emmons, journal studies regularly show that subjects who chronicle what they’re most thankful for report a greater sense of vitality and energy. This might simply be due to all the physical health benefits that seem to be linked to gratitude.
Ivankovich suggests establishing gratitude goals for your communications and or thoughts. “For every negative thought, you must deliver five positive statements—or something of the like,” she explains. “We live in a society that is media-driven, and much of what is found in the media is rooted in negativity. Because we are so inundated with this, it’s often difficult to find our way back to happy—but if you practice this like any other skill, it will start to become second nature.” And as the research indicates, you’ll reap so many rewards.

by: Jenna Birch for
Oct 21

This Is What Happens When You Don’t Eat After A Workout

Coppell Trainer Tip

This Is What Happens When You Don’t Eat After A Workout

By Amy Marturana for

There’s more to worry about than a growling stomach.

Most nutritionists recommend eating something within 30 minutes after a workout. Your body, after using up its available energy, needs to be refueled. Specifically with carbs and protein—for energy and to repair the microdamage that exercise does to your muscles.

We’re all busy, though. And sometimes, fitting in a workout means squeezing it into a quick 30-minute window and then rushing off to the next obligation. If you don’t have a protein bar or other handy snack packed, getting those nutrients in may not actually happen. But if skipping a post-workout nosh becomes a habit, you risk sabotaging your fitness goals.

“Some people will just feel fatigue, and some people can get disoriented from low blood sugar,” Jennifer Beck, M.D., sports medicine specialist and pediatric orthopedist at UCLA, tells SELF. She also notes that ignoring post-workout steps that are essential for recovery, like proper nutrition, can contribute to overuse injuries. “We think a lot of overuse injuries happen when people are not replacing essential building blocks as readily as they should,” Beck says. This can especially become a problem if you’re doing heavy muscle-building activities and neglecting what your body needs to repair microtears and damage. Fixing those tears is how your body builds muscle; failing to do so puts your muscles at risk of further damage next time you work out.

Food also contains electrolytes, minerals our bodies need to keep the muscles and nerves firing correctly. “If you had a very sweaty workout, replacing calcium, salt, and potassium, all part of standard food consumption, is also very important,” says Beck. If you tend to get super sweaty, or you’re working out on a hot day or going for a long training run, you’ll lose some of these things in your sweat. “If you’re not able to immediately replace them, it can be devastating and damaging.” Dehydration and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can both set in quickly and make you feel disoriented or even pass out. In rare cases, lack of electrolytes can throw off the electrical impulses that keep the heart beating properly, leading to cardiac arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat.

If you’re going to remember one thing, though, make it water. “Water is the most important building block you need after a workout,” Beck says. And during, for that matter. In the end, the one thing you really don’t want to skip is rehydrating to replace any water you lost through sweating.

Skipping a post-workout meal every once in a while isn’t a huge deal, but it should never become a habit. “You want to set yourself up for good patterns,” Beck says, because developing healthy habits is the easiest way to prevent burnout and injury. Exercise should be fun and bring you positive health benefits, not end in muscle tears or stress fractures. “Both hydration and nutrition are important parts of having healthy exercise habits.”

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