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The ultimate proactive health and wellness guide

Have you ever thought along these lines? “This time it’s going to be different. This time when I start my diet, I’m going to stay on it and nothing is going to get in my way.” You have to admit, you did sound strong and forceful when you said it, but why is it that you always seem to slide back into your old bad habits?

It’s not as though you didn’t mean what you were saying. You had every intention of keeping your word. In this instance things just happened and you had to start over. Again. Well, the good news is that it may not entirely be your fault. In fact psychology teaches us that once we get in the habit of doing something, it can be difficult to change.

As an analogy, think of your habit as a giant boulder barreling down a steep hill. In a situation such as this, only a few super strong-minded individuals can stop the boulder by sheer will alone. For the rest of us, we’re going to need some help. And here’s some good news. The rest of us can learn to stop that boulder by simply doing one thing: becoming aware of what triggers those habits.

avoid bad habits to lose weight

Like pollen can trigger an allergy attack, human actions can trigger you to react in a particular manner as well. For instance, being pulled over by a cop may trigger fear, whereas a baby’s smile may trigger happiness. In that same manner, sadness may trigger you to overindulge in eating to feel better. Even though each example has a different context, they all share the same pattern. That is an activating event occurs and a reaction to that event follows.

To become aware of the triggers that cause you to overindulge, you simply have to become more conscious of your personal eating triggers. Many of your triggers are easy to recognize. For example, everyone usually eats during certain periods of the day. Like clockwork, you either become hungry or just have the desire to eat.

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A simple way that I found helpful in breaking this pattern is to eat a healthy snack before that time rolls around. With food already in your stomach, chances are you’ll make better choices when the time comes for you to eat. Of course, the stronger triggers are emotional in content. In these situations you feel you just have to have that piece of dessert no matter how much your logical mind says otherwise.

For those circumstances, here’s a little technique that comes from NLP that you can try. First, imagine a food you dislike. Come on. Just give it a quick try. Now imagine a food you love, but isn’t the best item to be eating to lose weight, a rich dessert for example.

learn to say no when dieting

Once you have this second image in mind, mentally move it to the first image. If you find this difficult or unsettling, good. This is exactly what’s supposed to happen. The aim of this exercise is to get you to associate unpleasant emotions with your diet-busting food.

Once this happens, the next time you think about it, you’ll trigger an unpleasant feeling, which will hopefully discourage your desire to eat it. This technique works best when you repeat it several times quickly in your mind. The more you do it the better. And don’t wait until the feeling hits you. It’s best to practice before the triggering event occurs.

You can use this technique with any food you want to stop eating. In fact some therapist use it to stop habits such as nail biting and it has also been shown to work with phobias as well. So, to make your diet plan more easy to follow through with, become aware of your personal eating triggers. Once you are conscious of them, use the techniques described in this article to lessen or hopefully to totally wipe out their impact on your diet.

Getting enough of the “good fats” in your diet

Research on dietary fats continues to evolve, but some facts are clear. Dietary fat, also called fatty acids, can be found in both plant and animal foods. Certain fatty acids have been linked to negative effects on heart health, but others have been shown to have significant health benefits.

Healthy fat is just as important to your diet as protein and carbohydrates to provide your body with energy. Certain bodily functions also rely on its presence. For example, some vitamins require fat to dissolve in the bloodstream and provide nutrients.

However, the excess calories from eating too much fatty foods of any kind can lead to weight gain.

The body can produce and build carbohydrates on its own in a pinch. Fats and proteins, on the other hand, cannot. These must be supplied with the help of food. It is important to consume the right fats. Excessive intake of “wrong” fats can lead to serious health diseases. The intake of fats is not about quantity, but much more about quality.

What is healthy fat? Doctors consider monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to be “heart healthier” fats in addition to healthy saturated fats. These are fats that are good dietary choices. Foods that primarily contain these healthy fats tend to be liquid when at room temperature. Vegetable oil is an example, but this should be virgin (i.e., cold-pressed).

Monounsaturated. This type of helpful fat is found in a variety of foods and oils. Research has consistently shown that eating foods containing monounsaturated fat can improve blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

These foods include:

  • Nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans) or nut cereals.
  • Vegetable oils (olive oil, peanut oil)
  • Peanut butter and almond butter
  • Avocado

fish is great source of good fats

Good Sources of Fat – The following are some oils that are high in the “good” fats and low in saturated fat. As for trans fats, the oils contain none, or at most only a trace amount.

  • Olive Oil – Olive oil has a high source of monounsaturated fat. Even though the range of the percentage of the types of fats can vary, typical amounts are mono:70%, poly:15%, and saturated:15%.
  • Canola Oil – Canola oil is another good source of monounsaturated fat. Typical amounts are mono:62%, poly:32%, and saturated:6%.
  • Sunflower Oil – Depending on how the oil is produced, the monounsaturated fats can be as high as 82%. Typical values are mono:21%, poly:65%, and saturated:11%.
  • Peanut Oil – This oil is typical used as a substitute for vegetable oil because it has a higher percentage of monounsaturated fats and has a high smoke value. Typical fat amounts are mono:57%, poly:27%, and saturated:16%.
  • Soybean Oil – This oil is also valued for its high smoke value, but has a lower percentage of monounsaturated fats. Typical fat amounts are mono:23%, poly:58%, and saturated:19%.
  • Sesame Oil – This oil has roughly an equal amount of mono to polyunsaturated fats. The oil is popular in Chinese foods, though it is not used for cooking as it burns easily. It is generally used to flavor foods. Typical amounts of fats are mono:43%, poly:42%, and saturated:15%.

Hydration is the key to safe and successful weight loss

In short, to ensure healthy weight loss, make sure your diet includes a sufficient amount of good fats, as they are necessary to ensure a proper functioning body. Not getting enough hydration can hurt your chances at weight loss. Most people realize that when they exercise, they need to drink water to replace the fluids lost by sweat.

This is evident by all the water bottles that accompany gym members during their exercise sessions. However, there is a belief among many exercise enthusiast that drinking water can impede your performance. This belief could not be further from the truth. The fact is that not replenishing your body of water during exercise can diminish your ability to exercise.

According to Dr. Michael N. Sawka, an expert in thermal physiology at the United States Army Research Institute for Environmental Medicine, water loss that resulted in as little as a 1 percent drop in body weight (1.5 pounds for a 150-pound person) declines exercise performance by 20 to 50 percent. This is because sweat loss during exercise results in dehydration.

Since your blood is composed primarily of water, dehydration causes a decrease in blood volume. This decrease in blood volume lowers your blood pressure and, as a result, reduces blood flow between your muscles and skin.

To compensate, your heart rate increases to make up for the loss of blood flowing throughout your body. However, less blood is still reaching your skin. This results in heat loss being reduced and your body overheating, and like a car engine running hot, reduces your ability to perform, leading to premature exhaustion. In reality, the only way to truly compensate for this is to drink water to replace lost fluids. The only question that remains is how much should you drink.

reduce blood pressure by removing bad fats from your diet

Adequate hydration actually starts before you exercise. The recommended amount to drink is 8 ounces every hour. Any more is likely to be lost to urination. However, if you do not have to urinate within an hour, drink about 4 to 8 ounces more. When you do start to exercise, drink about 6 to 12 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes, especially when exercising in the heat.

Also when you drink the water, you want it to be absorbed quickly into your bloodstream. To accomplish this, the water should be cool — about 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 to 10 degrees Celsius) — but not ice cold.

Related: Swimming is the greatest low impact exercise and here’s why

As far as beverages with caffeine, the caffeine can increase muscle action, but Dr. Sawka says that drinking a lot of caffeine before exercising could start you out dehydrated. This is because caffeine is also a diuretic. And since alcohol is also a diuretic, you want to avoid it as well. If do drink alcohol the night before, drink two cups of water before you go to bed and another two when you get up in the mourning.

coffee can dehydrate you

To sum it up, water hydration is important not only during exercise, but before you start to exercise as well. By staying well hydrated, you are able to exercise at a higher level for a longer period of time. This higher exercise performance will allow you to increase your endurance, and if you are following a weight loss plan, burn more calories.

Exercise is one gift that you can give to your body that always pays off with some positive benefits. However, excuses for not exercising range from I do not have enough time, I’m already slim, I’m too old, I have a health problem, I’m too out of shape, or to the most pretentious excuse, I don’t like to sweat.

Related: The top 10 exercises for weight loss and cardiovascular health

Even though these excuses may seem legitimate to you, they are just robbing you of a much better life. To help you better see the value of exercise, here are some important health reasons for you to start. And to keep you from falling into the out of sight, out of mind mindset, tape this list to your refrigerator or keep it somewhere that you will see it everyday.

The enduring benefits of exercise are beneficial

Reduces Risk to Heart Disease Exercise helps to reduce plaque buildup on your arteries by helping to increase good cholesterol in your blood. Cholesterol can interrupt blood flow and increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. And just because you are slim does not mean that these diseases cannot happen to you.

the best way to lose weight is exercise

Lowers High Blood Pressure – Millions of Americans have high blood pressure, which is easily reduced by regular exercise. Many studies have found that not long after beginning an exercise program – 3 weeks to 3 months– blood pressure starts to decline, which means no expensive prescription pills. And the best part is that it can be either low or moderately intense exercises. All you have to do is make the effort.

Decreasing the risk of diabetes and other diseases

Diabetes is a disease which occurs when your body does not produce or use insulin properly. There are two types: Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 occurs when you body does not produce insulin. Type 2, the more common, occurs when your body does not use insulin properly.

Related: Complete diabetes fitness guide for proactive health and wellness

Regular exercise along with a healthy diet makes Type 2 diabetes a preventable disease. By regularly exercising, the sugar in your blood can be converted to energy for your muscles instead of having to rely on insulin to remove it from your bloodstream.

diabetes stomach fat interrelated

Countering obesity in a proactive manner

In addition to the health risk obesity attracts, it also takes a toll on your self-esteem as well as your body. Obesity raises your risks for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, asthma, and a host of other maladies.

It should go without saying that exercise helps obese people to lose weight and reduce these health risks. And even if you have health problems, doctors still recommend exercise as a means to alleviate them.

Help your body halt osteoporosis

This condition is marked by a decrease in bone density and deterioration. Bones then become weak, porous, and fragile, and, as such, become a major contributor to bone fractures. This is especially true among older adults. By exercising, bones are strengthened.

Just like muscles, bones grow physically stronger when they are stressed. Exercises such as walking, jogging, or resistance training helps bones to grow and increase in density, thus lowering your risk of osteoporosis by making your bones healthier.

exercise to retain bone density

With the risk of ailments being more easily circulated from all around the world, a healthy immune system is ever more important. Research has found that regular exercise helps your immune system to improve by circulating immune cells more quickly to better destroy viruses and bacteria.

If all the above is not enough to persuade you to exercise, hopefully this one will. Study after study has shown that exercise adds years to your life. Not only that, it also helps you to maintain more of your mobility and it also helps to counter genetic tendencies towards early death.

Related: 2 of the best tricks to lose weight fast after 50 

To enjoy these benefits, all you have to do is add exercise to your daily routine. So what are you waiting for? Move your body! Be sure to be aware of your triggers, keep adequately hydrated, exercise often and stop being your worst enemy. Be sure to consume healthy foods like the examples in the picture above and realize that healthy fats should not be avoided.

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