Tag - weight loss

You Can Enjoy Holiday Feasts Without Weight Gain

The holidays are traditionally celebrated with all kinds of fattening foods, and making healthy choices this time of year can be especially tough. Here, fitness, nutrition, and weight loss expert Warren Honeycutt provides a few tips to help you avoid overindulging this holiday season.

Warren HoneycuttOne of the undisputed highlights of the holiday season is the food. (Oh, the food!) From savory main courses to sugar-laden desserts—and even special adult beverages—we’re surrounded by treats that we look forward to all year long. But before you rush headlong into the holly-jolly minefield stretching from Thanksgiving dinner all the way through the cocktail parties, potlucks, and restaurant outings that lead into 2016, ask yourself this: Do I want to look sleek and sexy on New Year’s Eve…or do I want to show up on Facebook looking like a stuffed turkey in a (not so) little black dress?

Of course you don’t want to start your New Year’s weight-loss resolution behind the eight ball. And Warren Honeycutt says the good news is you don’t have to spend the next few months’ festivities moping by the veggie tray. Having your fruitcake and eating it too is just a matter of balance and sustainability.

“We tend to use celebrations as a free pass to (over)eat poorly—and this time of year, the calendar is full of excuses to indulge!” says Honeycutt, author of Get Lean For Life: 7 Keys to Lasting Weight Loss (Get Honeycutt, Inc., 2014, ISBN: 978-1-5008011-7-5, $19.95, www.getlean.guru). “Fortunately, there’s an alternative to being a gastronomical Grinch: eating healthfully in a way that doesn’t feel like deprivation and that you can sustain over the entire season.

“But if you don’t do some planning and strategizing in advance, you’ll never avoid holiday weight gain,” he adds. “Your default party persona will kick in, and your good intentions will be toast.”

A respected expert in weight loss, fitness, and nutrition, Honeycutt knows what works and what doesn’t. He is a championship bodybuilder who has been a Southern Classic Physique Champion, two-time Mr. Tennessee, and six-time Mr. America finalist. Now, at age 62, he enjoys perfect health without any prescription medications. Honeycutt offers personalized fitness training through his comprehensive Get Lean program, which features detailed fitness videos for exercising at the gym, at home, at the office, and while traveling; personalized meal plans; motivational material; and more.

Here are 10 of Honeycutt’s tips to help you say, “Bah, humbug!” to holiday weight gain: 

Fill up before you go out. Yes, it’s something of a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason: It works. When faced with a buffet table loaded down with tempting choices, it’s all too easy to mindlessly graze until, before you know it, you’ve gorged yourself full of empty calories. Preparing a healthy meal or snack for yourself before you leave will curb your appetite and keep you from filling up on unhealthy party food.

“The worst time to be hungry is at a gathering loaded with junk food,” Honeycutt comments. “If you’ve had something nutritious to eat beforehand, you won’t give that fattening snack table a second (okay, maybe third) glance.”

Don’t go straight for the food. Yes, that buffet table looks amazing…but it’s not the only thing worth your attention at this party. Make the rounds and say hello to your friends before grabbing a plate. Find the host and thank him for inviting you. Sit down with your nieces and nephews and ask them what they hope Santa will bring this year.

“When you’re in the middle of an enjoyable interaction with someone else, you might forget all about eating for 15 minutes, or half an hour, or more!” Honeycutt says. “Nourishing your relationships with the people you love can be even more satisfying than nourishing your body.”

Limit yourself to one plate—but make it one GREAT plate. Making healthy choices is not just about what you eat, but also how much you eat. (Honeycutt challenges you to research recommended portion sizes for your favorite foods. You’ll probably be shocked!) Learning how to limit your portions (especially at a holiday party where unhealthy foods are so plentiful) is essential to maintaining a healthy weight. A good first step is resolving to eat only one plate of food—but make that one plate count.

“Scope out the entire buffet line before going through it and put only the dishes you reallywant to eat on your plate,” Honeycutt recommends. “If you’re still hungry later on, you can always make yourself something at home. When you feel lean and refreshed the next morning, rather than bloated and groggy, you’ll be glad you stopped before dipping seconds or thirds.”

Take your time and savor the flavor. It’s a natural inclination to eat quickly when you’re hungry—and that impulse is heightened when you’re in a party atmosphere with other fun activities you’d like to participate in. But Honeycutt reminds that it takes around 15 to 20 minutes for the brain to realize that the stomach is full—so enjoy your meal slowly.

“Taking the time to savor your food lets you realize when you’ve had enough, and it also enhances the entire experience,” he comments. “You’ll be surprised at how much more you enjoy eating your favorite seasonal treats when you take it slowly.”

Give the veggie tray a fair shake. As Honeycutt has mentioned, you don’t have to limit yourself to carrot sticks and cucumbers, but if you do spot fruits or veggies among the cookies, meatballs, and cheese cubes, put a few of these healthier options on your plate. They’ll fill up space that (be honest) would otherwise be piled up with high-calorie fare.

“It’s okay to partake in some of the more decadent offerings available—it is a party, after all—but do your best to find a healthy balance,” he advises. “Good health is about doing the right thing most of the time.”

Take it easy on the toasts. Whether it’s alcohol or sugary soft drinks—or worse, alcohol and sugary soft drinks—what you drink at a holiday celebration can sabotage a healthy diet just as quickly as what you eat. Everyone knows that sodas are packed with sugar and can wreak havoc on teeth and waistlines alike, Honeycutt says, but sometimes we tend to conveniently forget that alcohol can also be a major culprit in weight gain.

“Alcohol contains lots of empty calories, slows down the metabolism, and can weaken inhibition, which can then lead to overeating (and possibly some other embarrassing behaviors),” he reminds. “Since you’re at a party, you may not want to go the teetotaler route—and that’s fine!—but does every drink have to be spiked eggnog? I suggest replacing at least every other drink with water. This strategy will keep you hydrated and save you the many unwanted side effects of alcohol.”

Use the buddy system. As with many things in life, making healthy choices is easier when you don’t have to go it alone. Ask a friend or spouse to help you stay on track if your willpower starts to waver.

“If you can convince someone else to party healthy with you, you won’t feel like you’re the only one missing out—and the two of you can remind one another of why you want to make smart choices,” Honeycutt comments. “Remember, it’s not about deprivation—it’s about making healthy decisions you can maintain for life.”

Sneak healthier recipes into your celebrations. If you’ll be hosting a holiday celebration or attending a potluck, prepare a dish that uses healthier but still satisfying ingredients. For instance, instead of using bread stuffing (which might have as many as 358 calories per cup), prepare an equally tasty pan of homemade cornbread stuffing with mushrooms, sage, and parsley—at only 95 calories per cup. The Internet is full of more healthy substitutions, and Honeycutt’s own Get Lean program offers dozens of appetizing, healthy recipes by registered dietitians.

“Also, be aware that home-cooked dishes are often healthier than pre-prepared store-bought options—so plan ahead and create holiday staples from scratch,” Honeycutt advises. “In your own kitchen, it’s easy to make healthy alterations to your favorite recipes, like using olive oil instead of butter. And definitely take advantage of all the fresh fruits and vegetables you can find. For instance, citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and several kinds of squash are all in season this time of year.”

Save your weight loss goals for the new year. Sure, you might have “only” 10 or 15 more pounds to lose before you reach your goal weight, but let’s be honest: This time of year isn’t exactly known for its salads. Since low-calorie options might be even less plentiful than usual—and high-calorie treats will definitely be tempting you at every turn—be realistic and resolve to simply maintain your current weight.

“The fact is, the holidays are probably the hardest time of year to lose weight,” Honeycutt confirms. “If you can make it to New Year’s without adding any new pounds, consider that a win. You can resume chasing that goal weight on January 1st. And bonus—a weight maintenance strategy (as opposed to weight loss) will give you room to selectively sample your favorite seasonal dishes.”

If, despite your best intentions, you still lose control, cut yourself some slack. If you do happen to overeat at a celebration with a particularly tempting spread, remember that it’s not the end of the world. One mistake won’t ruin a healthy lifestyle unless you allow it to. (Just don’t overdo it at every gathering this holiday season.)

“Everyone slips up from time to time,” Honeycutt confirms. “Whatever the circumstances are, it’s important to understand that tomorrow really is another day. You can’t change the past, but you have full control over the future—so when you’ve slipped up, direct your mental energy to planning your next meal or workout instead of dwelling on your mistakes. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to your best friend. Encourage the most important person in your life…YOU!”

“Pick one or two of these strategies to focus on—or enter the holiday season armed with all of them,” Honeycutt concludes. “Once you realize that sticking to healthy behaviors isn’t the massive lifestyle change you imagine it to be, getting lean will become second nature. With a few simple changes, you can have a happier, healthier holiday season—and overall lifestyle. That’s really something to celebrate!”

About the Author: 
Warren Honeycutt is the author of Get Lean For Life: 7 Keys to Lasting Weight Loss. An expert in weight loss, fitness, and nutrition, he is a championship bodybuilder who has been a Southern Classic Physique Champion, two-time Mr. Tennessee, and six-time Mr. America finalist. Now, at age 62, he enjoys perfect health without any prescription medications and a physique that is the envy of most 25-year-olds.

Along with his partner, Soraya Bittencourt, Honeycutt is the co-founder of Get Honeycutt, Inc. This company supports Get Lean, a comprehensive weight loss and fitness program featuring personalized fitness routines, menus designed by registered dietitians, instructional videos, and motivational support.

A popular speaker on fitness and nutrition topics, Honeycutt’s expertise has been featured by NBC, CBS, ABC, LifeExtension, A Second Look at Sports, LiveStrong, Live Relentless, and more.

To learn more, please visit www.getlean.guru.

About the Book: 
Get Lean For Life: 7 Keys to Lasting Weight Loss (Get Honeycutt, Inc., 2014, ISBN: 978-1-5008011-7-5, $19.95, www.getlean.guru) is available at www.getlean.guru and on Amazon.


Seven Steps to Gain Health and Lose Weight

The crux of the Cure is our anti-inflammatory and nutrient-rich whole foods diet

by Ivy Larson

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Seven years ago I ate like most Americans. In other words, overly-processed foods took center stage in my diet. I liked to eat goodies such as pop-tarts for breakfast, pretzels and soda for a snack and fast food for lunch. Dinner was hit or miss and could sometimes be as atrocious as sugary cereal, ice cream and crackers. Not only was I eating a terribly unbalanced, nutrient-poor diet but little did I know I was also eating foods that dramatically increased systemic inflammation within my body. I was only twenty-two years old and had enjoyed great health my entire life and to be honest I was not overly concerned with subjects as “boring” as nutrition. Ironically, I was a health fitness instructor certified with the American College of Sports Medicine. I looked fit and trim thanks to hours of vigorous exercise a week. Unfortunately, I soon learned outward appearance was not the only mark of good health.

It was the summer of 1998 when my well-being took a sharp turn for the worse. I began having terrible bladder problems, including incontinence, bladder infections, and urgency and frequency. Things got progressively worse. My right leg became numb and I lost considerable strength in my right hip-flexor, making it difficult to lift my leg, much less teach exercise classes. One night I couldn’t go to the bathroom at all; I ended up in the emergency room and left wearing a catheter. By this time I knew something was terribly wrong. I traveled to the University of Miami and after extensive testing I ultimately received a disheartening diagnosis. It took my neurologist less than fifteen seconds to say the words “You have multiple sclerosis” but with one 4-word sentence my life was forever changed.

While the bad news was hard to swallow I was given hope that I could greatly improve my health by adhering to a program of lifestyle modification, which included a major dietary overhaul. I collaborated with my husband, Andrew Larson, M.D., a general surgeon and together we began researching nutrition for the management of multiple sclerosis. My health greatly improved with my change in lifestyle and today I am in remission without ever needing to take any of the disease-modifying drugs used to treat multiple sclerosis.

As my husband and I continued to study nutrition it soon became apparent the research overlapped and by combining a variety of lifestyle approaches at least ten chronic and prevalent diseases could all be improved. We put our research together into what is now a book titled The Gold Coast Cure: The 5-Week Health and Body Makeover (HCI Books) targeting obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, allergies, arthritis, vascular dementia, fibromyaglia, osteoporosis, and of course multiple sclerosis. While results can be seen in as little as five weeks, the Cure is a plan to be followed for life.

The crux of the Cure is our anti-inflammatory and nutrient-rich whole foods diet. Furthermore, this diet is not low fat, low carb or even low calorie. It all sounds just too good to be true but science now proves it doesn’t take deprivation dieting or extreme measures to gain health and lose weight. On the Gold Coast Cure you do not need to eliminate food groups or limit portion size as long as you learn how to break the following 7 deadly dietary habits of modern society:

Eating too Many Empty Calorie Carbohydrates: The only empty calorie carbohydrates you need to avoid are foods made with refined flour (also called enriched flour, bleached flour or wheat flour), sugar (also called high fructose corn syrup) and white rice. All other carbohydrates are healthy (potatoes, corn, whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta, beans, all fruits, all vegetables, brown rice, oatmeal, etc.)

Eating too Much Saturated Fat: Saturated fat is found in animal products and should be eaten in moderation. Choose organic low-fat dairy, organic and lean cuts of chicken and beef, and use butter in moderation. Limit saturated fat to no more than 15 grams a day.
Eating too Many Trans Fats: Completely avoid all fried foods as well as foods made with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, margarine and vegetable shortening.

Eating too Little Essential Fat: Increase your intake of foods rich in omega-3 essential fats such as fish, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, walnuts, walnut oil and expeller-pressed canola oil. Increase your intake of foods rich in omega-6 essential fats such as edemame beans, nuts, seeds, all-natural nut and seed butters, tofu, and wheat germ.

Eating too Little Fiber: Read the back of the nutrition label and make sure all carbohydrate-based foods you eat contain at least 2-3 grams of fiber per 25 grams of carbohydrate. Foods naturally rich in fiber include fruits, vegetables, corn, beans, legumes, whole grains, soybeans, and potatoes with the skins on.
Eating too Few Micronutrients: Increase your intake of all fruits and vegetables.

Eating too Much Processed Vegetable Oil: Eliminate overly-processed nutrient poor oils such as corn oil and “pure” vegetable oil and instead choose oils rich in antioxidants (such as extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil) or essential fats (such as walnut oil or flaxseed oil)

Ivy Larson is co-author of The Gold Coast Cure: The 5-Week Health and Body Makeover A Lifestyle Plan to Shed Pounds, Gain Health and Reverse 10 Diseases  published by HCI.

You can learn more about Ivy’s new book by visiting:http://www.goldcoastcure.com


How to keep your New Year’s fitness resolutions

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who will make a promise to improve yourself this New Year, there’s bad news: You’re 92 percent likely to fail in sticking to your resolutions, says a recent study from the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology.

About 45 percent of Americans make resolutions. Ranking at the top is losing weight, and staying fit and healthy ranks No. 5.

“Of course, those statistics represent the average – you don’t have to be average!” says Dr. Virender Sodhi, founder of the Ayurvedic and Naturopathic Medical Clinic, (ayurvedicscience.com), which provides complementary and alternative medicine.

“There are plenty of things individuals can do to improve their odds of success if they resolve to become healthier and fitter.”

Dr. Sodhi, author of the new guide, “Ayurvedic Herbs: The Comprehensive Resource for Ayurvedic Healing Solutions,” (www.ayush.com) believes we can move much closer to a world of disease-free societies by following the laws of Mother Nature. Individual commitment to health via New Year’s resolutions is one path to take us there. Dr. Sodhi offers five tips for staying true to your goals.

•  Get away from the instant-gratification mentality and avoid unrealistic goals. Don’t expect to go from zero to 60 – 60 being your ideal body image – in just a few months, especially if you have little background in training. Unfortunately, most who have resolutions like losing plenty of weight and quitting smoking are used to easy snack foods and quick rewards. Health is a long-term labor of love; commit to the love and wait for results.

•  Establish good habits! People make resolutions because they know they’re important, but they’re hard. With each passing week, more people drop their promises for self-improvement. You’ll want to set the right goals; if you want to lose 100 pounds, focus on the first 10, and then the next. Make sure to establish new and good habits – it takes about 28 days to stick. Once you train your mind with good habits, achieving your goals becomes much easier.

•  What you should expect from your “labor of love.” Frequency, intensity and time – these are the three investments you’ll need for losing weight or gaining muscle. As a general rule, exercise at least 30 minutes three to four times a week. Make sure to start with the appropriate intensity for your health; too little intensity and you’ll see little if any results, but too much and you’ll be prone to quit. Don’t think that it’s always better to exercise for a longer duration. What matters is quality. Increase time and intensity once you comfortably meet goals.

•  Solidify the gains with persistent positive reinforcement. Learn to reward yourself in a new way by paying attention to the gains in your body. Notice the improvement in stress levels, breathing, energy, sex life, mood and overall strength. While these improvements are wide-ranging and palpable, they increase over time and can be subtle. Don’t let these improvements occur without a personal recognition of your accomplishments.

•  Embrace supplemental support. Of course, all health efforts are connected to your overall well-being. When you make the investment to eat more vegetables, you’re reinforcing your commitment to exercise. Consider practices such as yoga and meditation, which will feed your health kick and provide unexpected benefits. Additionally, supplements such as kelp, green tea extract, Commiphora mukul (Guggul) and Bauhinia variegata (Kachnar) can yield even more health benefits. And, spices such as garlic, onion, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, long pepper, and cayenne pepper all have important thermogenic properties, which stimulates metabolism.

About Virender Sodhi, M.D., N.D.

Dr. Virender Sodhi was the first Ayurvedic and Naturopathic physician in the United States. He is the author of “Ayurvedic Herbs: The Comprehensive Resource for Ayurvedic Healing Solutions,” (www.ayush.com) and founder of the Ayurvedic and Naturopathic Medical Clinic, (ayurvedicscience.com). Dr. Sodhi earned his M.D. (Ayurved) in 1980 from the Dayanand Ayurvedic Medical College in Jalandar, India. He served as a college professor in India until 1986, when the Indian government selected him to share Ayurveda with Western society as part of a cultural exchange program. He finished his fellowship in Integrative Oncology with Dr. Mark Rosenberg in 2012. Dr. Sodhi is a visiting professor at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Scottsdale, Ariz., at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy, and at Des Moines University in Iowa.


Tips for weight loss through weight training

Losing weight was the No. 1 New Year’s resolution for 2014, according to a University of Scranton study, which also found that only 8 percent of people succeed in achieving their resolutions.

So it stands to reason, losing weight will again top the resolution charts in 2015.

“You’re much more apt to be successful, and keep the weight off, if you don’t focus on simply shedding pounds by reducing your caloric intake,” says Dr. Brett Osborn, author of “Get Serious, A Neurosurgeon’s Guide to Optimal Health and Fitness,” www.drbrettosborn.com.

“As a general rule, the best thing you can do for yourself is start doing weight training and keep it simple,” Dr. Osborn says.

He shares seven tips for burning up the fat and building muscle through weight training:

•  Make workouts intense. Any exercise or group of exercises must provide sufficient stimulus to trigger the body’s adaptive response. A requisite of this is intensity. We are reactive organisms at a base level. Resistance training of sufficient intensity stimulates an increase in testosterone production, and the anabolic, muscle-building process ensues.

•  Always err on the side of training less. So, how do you know just how much is enough? Are you training too often or just the opposite? In both cases, there will be failed gains. That’s right – overtraining can stall progress! The answer? Pay meticulous attention to your progress, or lack thereof.

•  Chart your progress. Set training goals, both short-term and long-term, and accomplish them. Buy a log book or download an app (there are many available for free) and make a habit of recording every workout. You don’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been.

•  Nutrition is as important as training. You must provide your body with adequate nutrition to rebuild itself. If your fitness goal is muscular hypertrophy and strength, you’ll make few if any gains in the context of poor nutrition.

•  You must get adequate sleep. “I have a hard time with this one because of my occupation, so I make it a priority as much as possible,” Dr. Osborn says. Without adequate rest, your body won’t recover from training. Remember, your muscles are growing while you sleep, provided there is adequate stimulus for growth and sound nutrition.

•  Educate yourself. Learn as much as possible about training and, more specifically, how your body responds to various training modalities. Forget about fitness or fashion magazines – the endorsed regimens there bear little resemblance to those actually utilized by bodybuilders. Don’t lose weight for its own sake. Building muscle is the best way to burn fat, so don’t pay attention to gimmicky and faddish celebrity fitness articles.

•  Never quit! A well-timed hiatus from training is very different than quitting. In fact, we need intermittent breaks as the majority of us are actually overtraining. Terminating all exercise is akin to quitting health. Push yourself through periods of stalled progress. Don’t expect to look like a professional bodybuilder after six to 12 months of training. Unless you’re using anabolic agents, you won’t look like that. But that’s okay! The point is slow and steady progress, which inevitably yields a more muscular physique and, ultimately, better health.

About Dr. Brett Osborn

Brett Osborn is a New York University-trained, board-certified neurological surgeon with a secondary certification in anti-aging and regenerative medicine. He is a diplomate of the American Bard of Neurological Surgery and of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. He holds a CSCS honorarium from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Dr. Osborn specializes in scientifically based nutrition and exercise as a means to achieve optimal health and preventing disease. He is the author “Get Serious, A Neurosurgeon’s Guide to Optimal Health and Fitness,” www.drbrettosborn.com.