Trainer Tip of the Week

Monday, August 31, 2009 by kate

This week’s tip is brought to you by Gunnar Peterson, a celebrity trainer famous for buffing up the likes of Bruce Willis, Hugh Jackman, J. Lo and Angelina Jolie.

According to Peterson, a great way to lose weight is to hit the sack. No. I’m not talking boxing. “Sleep, sleep, sleep!” Peterson suggests. “Sleep reduces cortisol levels (or at least helps keep them lower), allows muscles to repair and grow, keeps the hunger hormone (ghrelin) in check, and helps keep your energy up so that you don’t snack for energy. Plus, it’s hard to eat bad stuff when you’re asleep…”

I know. It sounds like a tip that should be paired with the cookie diet, but there’s actually some science behind it.

Doctors say both the hormones leptin and ghrelin can influence our appetite. And studies show the production of both may be influenced by the amount of sleep we get, according to WebMD.

"When you don't get enough sleep, it drives leptin levels down, which means you don't feel as satisfied after you eat. Lack of sleep also causes ghrelin levels to rise, which means your appetite is stimulated, so you want more food," Michael Breus, PhD, director of The Sleep Disorders Centers of Southeastern Lung Care in Atlanta, told WebMD.

According to a Sanford study, participants who slept less than eight hours a night had lower levels of leptin and higher levels of ghrelin, as well as more body fat. Those who slept the least amount weighed the most.

So don’t feel so guilty if you overslept and missed that morning run*. You were just fighting fat with a few extra Zs.

*Like I did this morning

On a side note – I'd like to get some feedback on how I'm doing here. Are you enjoying Weigh In? Getting any good tips? Anything you think I could do better or add? Have you taken some of my advice and lost (or gained!) weight? Let me know!

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Why the thermostat is making you fat

Thursday, August 27, 2009 by kate

I’m always cold in restaurants and movie theatres. But little did I know the thermostat ismy eating enemy and restaurants are using it to thwart our weightloss efforts and make us order extra apps.

According to David Ludwig, professor of pediatrics at Harvard, people eat more when they’re colder.

“Your metabolism drops when it's time to eat, and eating warms you up," Ludwig explains. "Heat is a satiety signal."

So next time you’re headed out to eat, grab a sweater or two to defend against those wily restaurants.


Trainer Tip of the Week

Monday, August 24, 2009 by kate

This week’s trainer tip comes from LA celebrity trainer Patrick Murphy, who has worked with the likes of Eva Longoria and Mario Lopez*.

Murphy says:
“Sitting at your desk? You can still be physically productive. Draw-in your abs towards your spine and hold for 5 seconds to equal 1 abdominal crunch.”

Granted you probably won’t get Mario’s abs, but every little bit helps. Makes sense. I eat at my desk, shop at my desk, make important phone calls** at my desk, oh yea, and I work at my desk, too. So why can’t I workout at my desk?

Here are some other work workouts you can try:

-- Take the stairs. I know. This is old news. But let's make it more tangible for you. You can burn about 40 calories in just 5 minutes on the stairs. That’s almost an Oreo cookie (55 calories)!

-- While sitting in your chair, stick one leg out straight and hold for 5 seconds; then lower your foot so it hovers over the floor and hold for several seconds. Do each leg 15 times. Sounds easy, but you’ll be feeling it by the end.

-- Put your hands on your chair arms and lift yourself off the chair. Hold it for a few seconds. Do this 15 times.

-- Grab your desk and slowly push your chair back until your head is between your arms. Then slowly pull yourself back in. Do this 15 times.

-- Stand up and place your hands on your desk. Walk backward, then do push-ups against the desk. Repeat 15 times.

-- Sit up and turn your head to the left and your torso to the right, and hold. Repeat 15 times.

-- Try to get your shoulder blades together. Hold, and then relax.

-- My all-time favorite is the butt workout. No one will know you’re working on your J.Lo bum while on a conference call. Now: Tighten your buttocks and hooooooold, and then relax. Repeat 15 times.

If you’d rather not get weird looks from coworkers, just take it outside. Go for a walk at lunch. You’ll burn about 100 calories per mile. (If you walk 2 miles at lunch you’ll burn off that glazed donut you ate at the morning meeting!)

How do you fit workouts in your work day?

* Which I take to mean that I’ll look like Eva if I do what he tells me to.
**to my mother

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Sites I'm obsessed with

Thursday, August 20, 2009 by kate

So I was poking around some of my favorite sites, looking for inspiration for a new post, when I thought “Why not cut out the middle (wo)man and just show you some of my daily site stops?” So here it goes.

Hungry Girl
Awesome cooking tips to concoct low-calorie cocktails, healthy junk food and tasty guilt-free meals.

I use this site to track my food intake and workouts. It’s a great, easy way to count calories and make sure you’re eating enough protein. Oh, and it’s free!

Women’s/Men’s Health:
This is by far one of the best health magazines out there. It’s got a great mix of valuable health tips, light lifestyle tid-bits and workout guides. There’s something in it for everyone, and the info isn’t too dense or too fluffy.

Whether you want to know the calorie count in cake or cabernet, this site has a massive food data base, and it’s easy to use.

Weight Watchers
Weight Watchers is a great source even if you’re not a member. It’s got recipes, dining out tips, blogs and motivating success stories. I just love reading about other people who have been in my plus-sized shoes and lost the weight.

Fatfree Vegan Kitchen
This blogger makes healthy food look delicious! I’m not going to lie, I haven’t really cooked many of the recipes on here, but I’ve drooled a lot and have tried her Tofu Coconut Cookies. I’m dying to try her Fat-Free Mini Donuts!

Up in Alaska
Jill Homer is a truly inspiring woman. She’s a hardcore endurance cyclist who talks like she’s just a girl on a bike. Her pictures alone are worth the visit, but you can also read about her recent journey on the Great Divide Race from Canada to Mexico.

Fat Cyclist
“Fatty,” aka Elden, is a middle-aged biker who started blogging to shame himself into losing weight and ended up taking on the fight against cancer when his late wife was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Inspiring and entertaining at the same time.

So that’s what I’ve got. What health sites do you have bookmarked?

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Coffee controversy

Monday, August 17, 2009 by kate

It seems new studies come out all the time contradicting each other. Some say coffee is good for you and helps promote weight loss, others say it’s bad and makes you fat. But a new study just out takes the cake – it says coffee is both good AND bad for you. Thanks, guys. I’m so glad you cleared that up for us.

The study of more than 50,000 people, published in the Journal of Headache Pain, found caffeine both causes and prevents headaches.
According to the Norwegian scientists, people who drink lots of caffeine every day are more likely to have occasional headaches, while those who consume small amounts of caffeine have chronic headaches, which occur 14 or more days each month. So, if you have occasional headaches you should to try cutting back on the juice, and if you suffer from chronic headaches pop on over to Starbucks and grab a Venti Americano.

How much coffee (caffeine) do you drink? Think it has any effect on your headaches?

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Why exercise might be making us fat

Thursday, August 13, 2009 by kate

I usually exercise 7 days a week. I know. Experts recommend a day of rest, but I’ve gotten into a routine that makes me feel guilty if I don’t set my alarm for 6. Why do I do this? Partly because I like how I feel after an 8-mile run, but mainly to lose weight. Has it worked? Not so much. I lost a lot* of weight several years ago, but those last 5 … 10 … sometimes 15 pounds just won’t go away and no amount of crunches, lunges or planks seem to scare them off. And I don’t know why. Or at least I didn’t know until I read a recent article in Time magazine.

According to Time, my obsessive exercising is either making me hungrier or making me think I deserve that Ding Dong. (Oh, Time, you know me so well!) Either way, I’m eating more calories than I burn, negating those early morning workouts. And it’s not just me!

More than 45 million Americans spend $19 billion a year on gym memberships, and 57% of Americans say they exercise regularly, according to a major study in 2000. But we’re all still fat. A third of Americans are obese, and another third are overweight. That math doesn’t match up.

A recent study took 464 overweight women who didn't regularly exercise and put them in 4 groups. Three groups worked out with a personal trainer for 72 minutes, 136 minutes and 194 minutes a week. The fourth group maintained their usual workout routines. Everyone was told to eat what they normally eat.

Six months later, all the women lost weight. But those who worked with a personal trainer for several days a week didn’t lose much more weight than those who did nothing. And some of the women actually gained weight (10+ pounds each!). Scientists call this the compensation factor. The women ate more than they did before they started working out – either the exercise made them hungry or they felt they deserved a reward.

That’s not to say we should hit the snooze and skip the gym. Exercising significantly lowers the risk of cancer, diabetes and many other illnesses. And it still feels good. We just have to work on working out our willpower.

So what’s your post-workout reward? Mine would be a honey wheat bagel with (extra) honey walnut cream cheese! ... I should probably work on that.

*over 100 lbs

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Manipulate your metabolism

Monday, August 10, 2009 by kate

Sometimes it’s easier to focus on one or two specific things rather than change your whole diet/life/decor. So I’ve compiled a few unusual tricks to amp up your weight loss or just make you feel more energetic.

Put ice in it
Researchers have found people who drank 8-12 glasses of ice-cold water a day had higher metabolic rates than those who only drank 4 glasses – possibly because your body burns a few calories heating the cold water to your body temperature.

Sleep more
You don't expect this to be a weight-loss tip, but when you don’t get enough sleep, it messes with the hormones that regulate appetite. Researchers found people who sleep less than 7.5 hours a night gain weight.

Think we could kill two calories with one stone by sleeping on ice? Just a thought.

Ditch the juice
Don't let OJ dupe you. Just because it comes from a fruit, doesn’t make it healthy. According to the Examiner, a glass of OJ has the same amount of sugar as a glass of Pepsi. (We knew it wasn't great for us, but equal to a Pepsi? Ouch.) It takes 5 oranges to make one 8 oz. glass of OJ. Plus all the fruit’s vitamins are lost in the process.

Do you have any easy tips to cut calories or increase your metabolism? Don't hold out on us.

Previous Post: Trainer Tip of the Week

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Trainer Tip of the Week

Monday, August 3, 2009 by kate

Few things scare me: Snakes, The Hills Have Eyes, sky diving and Jillian Michaels. If you’ve seen any episode of The Biggest Loser you know her as the tough trainer with chiseled arms and an intimidating tone. But she's good at her job and being scared skinny isn’t the worst thing in the world – as many of The Biggest Loser contestants can attest to.

Jillian is joining us today with a tip on getting in shape:

“Intensity is what is going to get you to your fitness goals. You should work at 85 percent of your maximum heart rate to burn the most calories in the shortest possible time,” Jillian suggests.

You won’t burn enough calories if you train below your target heart rate, but if you work out too hard you’ll start burning calories anaerobically, meaning inefficiently.

Don’t know how to measure your intensity? has a great reference guide for this.

Maximum heart rate
To find your maximum heart rate, take your age, subtract it from 220 and the number you’re left with is your maximum heart rate. So for me, being 27, my maximum heart rate should be 193. And 85% of my maximum heart rate would be 164 beats per minute. If you’re 50 years old, your maximum heart rate would be 220 – 50 = 170, so 85% of your maximum heart rate would be 144 beats per minute.

This is something you’d have to work up to. Don’t expect – or try – to join a gym and hit a high heart rate on day 1.

Talk Test
But you don’t always need numbers to calculate how hard you’re working out. There’s also the very scientific method called the Talk Test. Now this is very complicated, so you may want to write this down: If you can sing or gab comfortably you’re not working out hard enough. Conversely, if you’re channeling a cave man and can only say one word at a time, you’re working out too hard. You should be able to speak, but not carry on a conversation.

Try to maintain this intensity for at least 20 minutes, 3-5 days a week. If you’ve just ditched your sweat pants to sweat in spandex, I’d suggest not paying any attention to what I just told you. Set your own pace at first. Worrying too much about numbers and heart rates may be overwhelming and drive you right back to the Ding Dongs. But after you’ve got a routine going, amp up your intensity to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Previous Post: Diets are a drag

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