A Festive Holiday Salad from our Chef Silvia

Thursday, December 20, 2012 18:45
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” I can’t think of anything I want more of this holiday season than compassion and forgiveness. The more I have, the more I have to give. The supply is infinite so I don’t have to worry that there isn’t enough and these gifts have a way of changing everything.” Silvia

A Holiday Salad

I don’t know about you but the holidays is a time when I indulge in all my favorite foods without guilt. But in between indulgent feasts, something much lighter – but just as festive – is called for. This holiday salad is just the thing. It’s delicious, healthy, and comes dressed in holiday finery.

(Per person)
1 cup kale
1 cup mixed greens
? cup cooked quinoa
? ripe pear (sliced)
1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds
? cup goat cheese
1 tablespoon balsamic vinaigrette (or other favorite vinaigrette)

Peel and remove seeds from the pomegranate and set aside. Toss the greens in the vinaigrette and place onto individual plates. Sprinkle with the quinoa, the pomegranate seeds and goat cheese. Slice the pears and arrange on top. Serve as a light lunch or as a starter for dinner.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
? cup balsamic vinegar
? cups extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Place vinegar (and mustard) in a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a food processor) along with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Slowly add the oil while briskly mixing using a wire whisk (or with the blade of the processor spinning). The mixture will emulsify and look like caramel. Adjust the seasoning and toss with the greens

How to keep fruit and vegetables fresh

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 14:18
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fresh fruits

We all know that a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables is ideal for good health.  However, it is not always easy to store fruit and vegetables correctly to prolong their life and keep them fresh for the maximum time.  We’ve all had soggy lettuces, bruised peaches and mouldy carrots lurking at the bottom of the refrigerator.  Here is a guide on how to store your fresh produce to prolong its life and avoid food wastage.

Remember that the time that fresh fruit lasts will vary a lot with the climate, in some areas, fruits that are normally stored at room temperature may need to be stored in the fridge due to high temperatures and vice versa.

Buy as fresh as possible

Fruit and vegetables will last longer if they are as fresh as possible when they are bought.  The freshest produce is often found at farmers markets or smaller local green grocers, rather than the big supermarkets.  Supermarket produce may have been stored for weeks before it even makes it to the shelves, so it’s often not exactly at its best by the time it gets home with you.  If you buy at markets you are also more likely to buy in season produce, which will taste better and be more nutritious.

Beware of tricks used by supermarkets to make produce look fresher.  Fruit and vegetables are often sprayed with a fine mist of water to appear ‘dewy’ and fresh, and whilst market vegetables may be imperfect to look at, chances are they are actually fresher.

Storing Fruit

Different fruits require different storage techniques to keep them fresh for the longest time possible.  Fruit should be kept unwashed and gently rinsed in cold water before eating, unless they are very dirty, in which case they should be washed carefully and completely dried before storage.

Fruits that should be kept in the fridge:

In general fruits that are stored in the fridge should be covered in a plastic bag or wrapped in plastic to protect from contamination from other foods and avoid contact with oxygen.

Berries, such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries:  Even in the refrigerator, these will only last a few days.  It is important to remove any spoiled berries to prevent others from being affected.  Strawberries will last longer if the green top is left on during storage.

Berries also freeze well, but should be places spread out on a tray to freeze initially, to prevent the berries freezing together.  Once they are frozen they can be stored together in a freezer bag.

Grapes: These should be stored in a plastic bag unwashed in the refrigerator crisper and can last around five days.

Apples: these can be stored in the refrigerator or in a cool dark place and can last up to four months under the right conditions.

Fruit that needs ripening at room temperature

Many of the fruits we buy are under ripe, and so require ripening before we can eat them.  This is best done at room temperature.

Pears, Mangos, Plums, Peaches and other stone fruits: These should be ripened at room temperature in a paper bag until they give a little when pressed.  After this they can be stored in the refrigerator to slow down further ripening.

Pineapple:  This can be ripened at room temperature or in the refrigerator.  As the sugar in this fruit is concentrated at the bottom, storing the pineapple upside down can improve the sweetness, by allowing the sugar to spread through the fruit.

Fruits that should be stored at room temperature

Some fruits lose their flavour or texture when stored in the fridge.

Melon:  This becomes rubbery and loses flavour if stored in the fridge; although once ripe and cut it will last for longer at cooler temperatures.

Lemons and limes:  These can absorb flavours from the fridge and last a long time at room temperature anyway.

Bananas: These can give a banana flavour to other things in your fridge.  Cold temperatures can also damage the fruit which is more accustomed to a tropical climate, as well as slow or prevent the process of ripening.  To speed up ripening, place bananas in a brown paper bag.

Oranges: These should also be stored at room temperature, and will usually last up to two weeks when ambient temperature isn’t too high.

How to store vegetables

As with fruit, vegetables should be stored unwashed in plastic bags and then rinsed before eating.

Vegetables to store in the refrigerator:

Vegetables should be stored in the crisper for best results.

Broccoli:  This will last for around 3 to 5 days

Beetroots, carrots and radishes; Green tops should be removed before storage, then these should last for one to two weeks

Corn:  For best results leave corn in husks and eat as soon as possible as even in the crisper, these will only last one to two days.

Lettuce and other leafy greens: these will last between one and seven days, depending on their initial freshness.  Remove any leaves that start to go limp to preserve the others.

Vegetables that need to be ripened at room temperature

Tomatoes:  These should be ripened out of direct sunlight at room temperature.  Once ripe, they should be eaten immediately for best flavour, or store in the refrigerator, where they should last two to three days.

Vegetables that should be stored at room temperature:

Onions: These should last for two to four weeks.  Store in a cool, dry place away from sunlight

Potatoes: Store away from light, which can cause potatoes to go green.

Using up fresh produce

We have all been in the situation when we have a large quantity of fruit or vegetables on our hands that is reaching the end of its days and if left longer will be inedible.  Rather than waste this food, there are numerous ways to use up produce if there is simply too much to eat before it goes off.

Cakes, muffins and bread:  Add fruits such as bananas, apples, or stone fruits, or grated vegetables such as carrot or zucchini to batter to create a high fibre, nutritious snack.  Baked goods can also be frozen until needed.

Omelettes:  Any vegetable can be thrown into a omelette for a quick, nutritious lunch or dinner.

Ice cream or frozen yogurt:  Ripe fruit is ideal in as an ingredient in a frozen dessert as they give more flavour and add nutritional value.

Pickles:  Pickling vegetables is a great way to use up a surplus of stock and the finished product will last for ages.

Soups:  Cook up a quick vegetables soup to use up an excess of stock, then freeze to eat as a quick healthy meal later.

Purees:  Fruit and vegetables can be cooked, pureed and frozen.  They can they be defrosted and used later in baking, to make a soup or even as a topping from ice cream or yogurt.

Don’t be afraid of frozen.

Many people avoid frozen vegetables, thinking them to be less nutritious than their fresh counterparts.  However, in many cases this is not the case.  As frozen vegetables are snap frozen almost as soon as they are picked, they actually retain a lot of their nutrients, in some cases more than fresh vegetables that have been transported, stored and then sitting on the supermarket shelf for weeks.

Frozen vegetables are great to have on hand for a quick nutritious meal and eliminate the worry of using up food that is going to go off.

5 Bodyweight exercises that burn fat

Thursday, November 22, 2012 8:57
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fat burning exercises

Not everybody wants or can spend an hour in the gym everyday training. A lot of people would be happy to know a handful of exercises which they can do at home and still have the fat burning benefits.

In this article we have gathered 5 exercises which they use your own body’s weight but they can still provide a fat burning and muscle building workout. I don’t believe in absolute statements such as ‘the very best of exercises’ or ‘the only exercises’.

These exercises are not the only ‘best’ exercises you can do as there is a plethora of exercises which will deliver good results. You can use these in combination to another workout or pick the ones you like and use them with others you may have in your list. Below are some things to keep in mind regarding exercising.

Before you start exercising

1. When you are exercising your body will use calories (energy) to fuel the exercise, no matter what exercise it is. The type of fuel, whether it is fat, sugar or other will depend on the type of exercise, the intensity, the meal consumed before and when and a number of other reasons.

2. In very simple terms, the exercise must place some considerable challenge in your body and muscles in order to ‘build muscle’. However, this doesn’t mean that you should jump to intermediate level when you never exercised before in your life so you get maximum results. You are more likely to get loads of injuries and suffer. Build gradually.

3. The more muscles/muscle groups you use when performing an exercise the more fat you are likely to burn.

4. The more muscle mass you have the more calories and fat you will burn even when you’re resting.

5. It is always recommended that you consult a medical professional and/or a fitness professional before taking on exercise especially if you have pre-existing health complaints and injuries.

You can also read: 28 weight loss tips with exercise | Best time of the day to exercise

5 Bodyweight exercises that burn fat

The exercises below are placed in an order in which they could be performed as a little circuit workout and alternate the muscle groups they target. However, even if you performed in isolation or at a different order is as good.

Just be aware not to overload one group (i.e. front legs) and neglect another (i.e. back of legs or upper body). It is always best to train muscles in balance and throughout the body to avoid muscle imbalances and injuries in the long term.

! It is important to do a 5-10min warm up prior to starting exercising. A warm up session should aim to warm and mobilise the major muscles and joints.

Rope skipping

You will need a rope to perform the exercise. You can buy ‘special’ skipping ropes but in my opinion any rope which is suitable for your height is fine. The one I usually use to train is a children’s one which I bought from a shop for a couple of dollars. It does have some bright yellow handles but ‘hey’ it’s fit for purpose. However, the length is important, as if it is too short for your height you will be tripping yourself with it.

How? To perform the skipping, try to keep your back straight and avoid leaning forward. Keep the elbows tacked in your body and the turning of the rope should come from the wrists. If you have to rotate your elbows to turn the rope then the rope may be too small. If you are a beginner in skipping, best jump two footed as it is easier to do. You can build different variations as you become more confident, such as alternate legs or cross arms etc.

How much? Perform for 3 min at the start of your workout to get your muscles and cardiopulmonary systems going, and then for another 5 min at the end. Skipping is more of an aerobic exercise and for maximising the fat you burn it is better if you perform resistance exercises 1st and aerobic exercise at the end. The 3 and 5 min may not seem as much but trust me if you never skipped before (being a child was the last time) you will find that is not as easy. If you are more fit then by all means add min on. Go at you own paste and fitness level.

Push ups

Push up or press ups as they may also be called, target the muscles on the chest, shoulders, arms, and back. There are a number of variations in performance and when performed on the floor with straight legs then they also work leg tummy and buttocks as stabilisers.


How?  1. Lay prone on the floor with palms flat on the floor placed slightly wider under your shoulders. Keep arms extended but do not lock the elbows.

2. Extended legs and toes tacked in to the floor (raise on to your toes), keep your back straight.

3. Contract your abdominal muscles and buttocks. Keep breathing don’t hold your breath.

4. Inhale, bend your elbows and lower your body to the floor.

5. Exhale, extend your arms and push your body back up to starting position. Repeat movement.

Easier variations include push ups against the wall (if you are really unfit) or the keeping the legs bend (on fours). Harder variations include one arm push ups or the legs placed on a bench or Swiss ball. Aim for what suits your own fitness level.

How much? Well it is quite a hard exercise. Aim for 4 to start off, rest for 30sec and perform another 4. If that is too hard then just do 4 and try to build on it or go for one of the easier variations and build on it. If you are fit and can do a couple of sets or more push up by all means judge it and go for it.

The plank

The plank is a good all over body stability exercise.




How? It is the same with the push up starting position. In the plank you just hold yourself in that position for a few seconds. Contract your abdominal muscles and buttocks. Easier variation includes assuming the plank position with placing your elbows bend under your shoulders and resting your forearms on the floor. Harder variations include placing your legs on a bench or Swiss ball and also alternating from side with one arm to centre to alternate side.

How much? Hold your position for 30 sec rest for 30 sec and repeat for another 30 sec. If you are unfit 30 sec will seem like a lifetime. As with all other exercises follow your fitness level and build on that.

Rear leg raises

Rear leg raises target the muscles at the back of the legs (hamstrings), and buttocks (gluteal). It also works the muscles of the back, chest and tummy as stabilisers.

How?  1. Get on an all fours position on the floor. Bend the elbows and under the shoulders and rest the forearms on the floor.

2. Contract your abdominal muscles and buttocks.

3. Raise your right leg keeping your leg straight. Raise the leg no further than hip level. Perform movement slowly and controlled.

4. Lower your leg to the floor and raise again. Repeat movement with the left leg.

For a slightly easier variation bend your knee with your heel pointing on the ceiling. Make sure that movement comes from the hip and not the knee when you raise the leg.     

How much? Repeat 4 times with each leg.

Stick ups

The stick up exercise works the upper back, and shoulder muscles and also those muscles located in the shoulder blades (scapula). A good exercise which can offer some relief from upper back stiffness especially if cause from sitting in a desk for a long time. However, do consult a doctor if you have any previous complaints in that area and don’t take it for granted that every treatment fits everybody.


How? 1. Standing up, keep the back straight, shoulders back and down.

2. Lift your arms straight above your head.

3. Slide your arms by bending the elbows and tucking the elbows on your side. Keep the forearms looking upwards. When lowering your arm squeeze the shoulder blades together so when your arms have slide down the shoulder blades have gone back into their place.

4. Extend the arms upwards in the same manner and repeat. Perform exercise slowly and controlled.

There are variations in which you perform the exercise against the wall or lying on the floor.

How many? Perform 8 stick up exercises. It is a simple but quite hard exercise. If 8 is too many, then adapt the number as with every other exercise and build on it.

10 ways to get back on your weight loss goals

Thursday, November 22, 2012 8:08
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set weight loss goals

Sticking to a weight loss regime can be a hard job especially if it involves losing the weight in long period of time. The first few weeks it is easy to keep motivated especially if you can see the pounds falling off. As time progress, weight loss can slow down, maybe hit a plateau, hit a few parties, or simply lose interest and perspective.

Before you know it all the good work seems to disappear and the pounds slip back on. So what can you do to get back on track? Read our tips on how to get back on your weight loss goals and avoid more disappointment.

Short term mishaps:

1# Put it behind you.

Did you find yourself in a binge week or two? Well it happens especially if circumstances are full of temptations. The trick here is not to give up and not to panic. If you keep dithering about that meal last night, or the party last week and how much you eaten or drank, then you will be spending your energy on things you cannot change. The result will most likely be to feel bad and comfort eat. Then you will definitely be putting the pounds back on.

Put it behind you and get back on track. It is unlikely that one day’s overeating will tip the scales, but if you give up now it will be even harder to start again. Go back to your plans, re-evaluate and continue with your goals. See also: How to stop binge eating at night.

2# Don’t be hard on yourself.

If you slipped out of your goals and had a bit more than you should don’t go back thinking that you have to make up for it. What happened happened and treat it as a little mishap. It is common for people to say I had that chocolate at dinner so I will skip supper, or I had a bit extra last night I will eat less today. Cycling calories through the days can have a benefit, but torturing or starving yourself to make up for calories will only feel hard and you are likely to give up altogether. Just go back to eating healthy and it will all follow its course.

3# Re-evaluate your regime

Do you find yourself slipping up all the time and it is hard to stay on your weight loss goals? Well it could be as simple as the regime you are following is not ‘good’ for you. There are hundreds of weight loss regimes, diets, and methods to choose from. You can also read our most popular diets review to help you with your decision. Maybe the regime you are following has worked for thousands of people or it was great 2 years ago when you did it but this time it may not be what you need.

Go back to the beginning and think what makes you slip up, what is hard about it and why it doesn’t work. Re-evaluating a weight loss regime applies to both short term and long term goals. It could be that you hit a plateau, or you feel bored after dieting for a year. Even if a regime worked for a period of time it may be good to re-evaluate and see what you could change, add, remove adapt. Make you weight loss follow you and not always the other way around.

Slowdowns and plateaus:

4# Motivate yourself.

Plateaus happen to more or less everybody. Your body keeps adjusting to losing weight and it can slow down in the speed it loses weight. This tends to be the time when people lose motivation and start feeling frustrated. First be realistic about it and be patient. Maybe you haven’t lost much the last weeks but keep in mind that it can happen. It is important to keep your motivation going. Do re-evaluate your regime first (see above).

One way to start in motivating yourself is by thinking how much you have achieved so far and concentrate on the positive. Remind yourself why you wanted to lose the weight in the first place. Make a motivation list with all the goals and things you want to gain by losing weight. Is it to look good on your wedding, or for health reasons, to fit in an outfit or to feel better about yourself? Whatever the reason is what made you start in the first place. For more motivation tips also read our ‘I want to lose weight but have no motivation’ article.

5# Beat the boredom.

Boredom is another major factor why people give up weight loss dieting. Following a specific diet for a couple of weeks can be easy, but following the same all diet for months can be like a prison sentence and no surprise people want to just escape from it. Firstly is best to opt for weight loss regimes which promote a healthy balance diet rather than restrictive diets. The first ones tend to allow more freedom in choosing menus and the foods you can eat and so it is harder to feel bored. An example is Mediterranean style diets which tend to include foods from all categories and have a vast amount of recipes and menus. See also: The real benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

Another option is to change the regime you follow. I have already mentioned above about re-evaluating your regime and whether it works for you. Look around as well and find a regime which works for you.

6# Get physically active

If you have hit the dreaded plateau point and you are not sure how to get going again try being more physically active. Plateaus and slowdown can generate a lot of frustration and you can easily give up on your goals. Physical activity whether is structured exercise or just going for a walk can increase the amount of calories you burn and kick start the weight loss again.

Chose something fun which you will enjoy and you are likely to stick to it. Going to the gym is not to everybody’s liking (including me) or budget. However, there are so many fun activities and options to choose from. Look at a local club or gym to see what other activities they offer. Some ideas are: start a class like dancing or Pilates, start swimming possibly as a family activity, join a sport or see if there are running groups in your area.

As a start think what do you like and what suits you. Then search to see what’s available and go for it. Once you start seeing the results and feeling the benefits you will not want to stop.

Starting again:

7# Think positive

It is time to stop being negative about yourself and start loving what you see in the mirror every day. Maybe you have a few or a lot of extra pounds and it could be that you are fed up with the way you look. However, if you are always negative about your weight you will only make yourself feel bad and struggle through ‘must do’ weight loss diets.

Change that attitude towards to a more positive and loving way, your body is something precious and it does deserve the best you can give to it. Losing the extra weight is not about punishing yourself for all the takeaways and binges of the last years but more like looking after ‘you’.

8# Take action

It is all good and well to say you need to lose the weight but it won’t come off by talking. Take action. Set a day and start. Planning is a very helpful tool for achieving your goals and it can be your starting point. Set a day for planning, a day for choosing your regime, a day for getting all ready (shopping, clearing cupboards etc) and a day for starting. Why not read our 20 rapid weight loss tips for extra ideas.

If you leave it to an abstract ‘I am going to start’ it may never happen or there may 100s of excuses why it should be tomorrow. Set clear days and stick to them.

9# Get support

For a lot of people finding the motivation and going the mile alone can be difficult. Having someone to do it together can provide the drive and the motivation to start again and stick to a weight loss regime. Studies also support that the most successful ‘dieters’ are those who have support.

Support can come from a lot of different sources and in many ways. Weight loss clubs could be one of them. Moreover, support could come from family, in terms of help or an ear to listen to you. A very close friend of mine wanted to lose weight but could never stick to it or stay away from temptations until her husband decide to be her weight loss ‘coach’. He supported by eating healthy and even went as far as preparing meals and packed lunches for work. It is needless to say that the result was success.

10# Find you nemesis and prepare for it.

People often have a reason why they slip off their goals or why they find it hard to get back on. This reason can be different for each one and could range from not being able to resist a chocolate to I haven’t got time to cook. That reason is your little nemesis which makes your life hard. Make a list of all the things you may think will be affecting you or do affect you in reaching those weight loss goals. Are you too busy, don’t like weight loss diets, or are there too many biscuit tins in work? Whatever it is work it out and work a plan for it.

There are ways to work around busy lifestyles when ‘dieting’, or opt for weight loss regimes which are flexible and suit your taste and lifestyle rather than strict weight loss plans, or little tricks you can do to cut down on the biscuits and sweets (see also how to control your desire for food). Losing weight can be as flexible as you want to make it.

However, don’t forget to be realistic in what you expect from your weight loss regime. If you want to follow a relatively low calorie diet, and lose a lot of weight fast, but without giving up sweets or chips it may not be possible.

20 healthy weight loss tips

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 11:40
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healthy weight loss

This article provides you with 20 healthy weight loss tips. When you want to lose weight you need to make sure that you do it the healthy way and in a way that it will not cause any problems to your physical or psychological health.

Everybody, very well knows the basic principles for weight loss: less food, more exercise. It may sound easy but the exhaustive pace of everyday life makes it almost impossible to achieve.

After a full day in the office, nobody is enthusiastic about the idea of a green salad or boiled chicken for dinner. Not to mention that two-hours running on the treadmill is not a good idea either.

The bad news is that you never lost ten pounds in three days-which means that you should be prepared to start a weight loss process that will take time and effort.

The good news is that there are some healthy weight loss tips that can help you lose weight without having to fall into hunger or adapt to “drastic” solutions with disappointing results.

This article presents 20 tips that will help you get the body you always dreamed off in a fast and healthy way, and it will also help you maintain this weight for a long time.

Tip #1. Drink lots of water

We often confuse thirst with hunger, leading to load our body with unnecessary calories when what we really need is a glass of cold water. If you prefer, you can add some lemon slices to the jug of water for extra flavour or to drink tea with fruit flavour but no sugar. It is a simple and healthy trick that will help you a lot in your weight loss efforts.

Tip #2. Think about what you can add to your diet, not what to remove

Set a goal to try and consume the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. This will ensure that your body takes the necessary fiber, while fighting hunger. You must also not forget the many benefits of vegetables for your health and disease prevention.

A good way to eat more vegetables is to mix them with the food. For example you can have vegetables in your rice or soups, in chicken as salads or in pasta. This is better than eating them on the side.

Eating more vegetables is a healthy habit that once you get used to it you will not realise that you are doing it.

Tip #3. Eat only when you are hungry

Many times, our desire for food is not due to real hunger but due to other several psychological factors. Hunger is the message of our organism to tell us that we need fuel, so if the desire for food is not due to hunger the food will not make us feel better. On the contrary we will feel worse because of the extra unnecessary calories we will consume. It is also a not healthy habit because it does not offer anything and will help you destroy your weight loss efforts.

Try to reduce the portions of your meals and increase their frequency. Notice after each meal if you feel bloat or tiredness so as to understand when you feel real hunger and when you eat because of other factors.

Tip #4. Avoid after dinner snacks

The most dangerous time to destroy your weight loss efforts and diet is after the last meal of the day, when you lie down in front of the TV with a pack of chips or a box of crisps and biscuits. This is the time that you eat out of a habit without really being hungry.

If you cannot resist the temptation of a small “sin” after a long day, obtain healthy snacks such as low-calorie cereal bars or ice cream without sugar and fat and allow yourself to have one per day. When you get used to this try to further reduce the calorie load with a cup of tea with no calories.

Tip #5. Enjoy your favourite foods

To completely avoid your favourite foods will not create the desired results since the feeling of deprivation leads to exaggeration. Think the last time you did not eat a chocolate for a month and the quantity consumed when you decided that you are ‘allowed’ to eat chocolate.

Instead of excluding from your weight loss program and diet foods you really enjoy, be sure to buy them in smaller amounts and to eat them less often, once or twice a week. Moreover, the expectation is what makes the satisfaction greatest.

Tip #6. Do not be too strict on your weight loss program

When you need to exit your diet for a while, walk to the cafe serving the best waffles, or organize a night out with friends. For even better results do not buy sweets or other snacks for home- instead replace them with plenty of fruits and limit these night outs to one per week. Thus, you will not have to worry that you will give up to the temptation while you are at home.

Tip #7. Eat several small meals during the day

Weight loss is the result of eating fewer calories than those we burn. When, however, we are constantly hungry this is not easy at all. Research shows that people who eat 4-5 meals a day find it easier to control their appetite and weight.

Apply this method for your own weight loss program. Try to divide the calories you consume during the day in many small portions. Make sure that you consume as much as possible calories before noon, with the evening meal being the last time you eat in a day. This is not only good for your weight loss efforts but it is also a healthy habit because it gives enough time to your body to function the ‘burn’ process properly.

Tip #8. Spicy food!

Add seasoning’s or hot spices in your food, which will enhance the taste and make you feel that you eat more.

The meals enhanced by tasty spices will stimulate your taste and create a sense of satisfaction, without actually eating more.

When you want something sweet, choose a hot caramel flavour with cinnamon or ginger. It gives you for some time the sweet flavour you need, with fewer calories.

Tip #9. Fill the kitchen with healthy and easy meals

The easy-made meals or snacks that are prepared quickly solve a lot of your problems (cooking time, preparation time etc) and lead you a step closer to weight loss success. These will prevent you from ordering something from a fast food restaurant or to order pizza, because you can within 5-10 minutes prepare your own healthy meal.

Such healthy foods include:

Frozen vegetables
Ready, purified salads
Canned vegetables (tomatoes, beans)
Arab pies of bread or wholemeal toast
Slices of boiled turkey (for toast)
Low-fat cheese
Black rice (quick boil)

Tip #10. Order kids meal!

When eating out, you can order an individual pizza or a small sandwich. In this way you keep the calories low and the quantities consumed controlled.

Another trick is to use smaller plates. This helps the portions look larger and if by looking at them you mind is satisfied, then most likely your stomach will also be satisfied.

Tip #11. Eat season fruits and vegetables

If you do not like certain fruits or vegetables, this is possibly due to the fact that you eat them when they were out of season. This makes them almost tasteless and odourless. In contrast, season fruits and vegetables are more delicious and less likely to disappoint you. They are tasty and healthy and help weight loss!

For example, strawberries, which are naturally sweet, sprinkled with a little cognac, or low-fat yoghurt and accompanied with canned fruits, are one of the best desserts you can enjoy without guilt.

Tip #12. Replace the fried potatoes that accompany your meal with grilled vegetables

Eating fewer fried potatoes, pasta or bread and more vegetables, will help you a lot in your weight loss efforts. Experts say even that you can save 100-200 calories if you reduce the amount of fat and starch foods to your plate and increase that of vegetables.

Tip #13. Find alternative ways to manage stress

Sometimes in our life, we are faced with situations that create us a lot of stress. Instead of looking to food for comfort, prepare some inedible healthy tactics to fight stress that work equally well.

Experts suggest to read a book, listen to music, write a diary, to practice deep breathing, meditation, or you can browse an album with photos of your loved ones.

Tip #14. Exercise a lot and keep fit

It may sound weird, but it is wrong to use the exercise as a means of punishment for yourself because you eat a lot, or in order to win the right to eat more. That is why many people say they hate exercise.

Instead, focus on how beautiful you feel, how much better sleep you have at night, and how much more energy you have when you exercise. Physical exercise is good for you whether you are trying to lose weight or not. See, therefore, exercise positively and try to make it your second nature.

Tip #15. Adopt the standards of the Mediterranean diet

It is a fact that the Mediterranean diet is a standard for any form of diet. The purpose is to include the Mediterranean diet in your weight loss program and diet.

The ingredients are simple. Use virgin olive oil as often as possible, preferably in salads with fresh vegetables, eat legumes one to two times a week and replace meat with fish, so that you do not consume meat more than once per week.

Tip #16. Avoid alcohol

Especially during the summer, excessive alcohol consumption should be avoided, as it is causing increased urination and dehydrates the body, not to mention the calorie load that alcohol has. Prefer lots of water and natural juices that will not give you a lot of extra calories and above all they are healthy.

Tip #17. Prefer fish and seafood

Especially in the summer you should eat light. The main concern is replacing meat with fish. Therefore you should prefer fish instead of meat, which will provide you with the necessary feeling of satisfaction, but with fewer calories and in a healthy way.

Avoid, therefore, fried food and prefer fish and seafood. Some ideas for fish meals are: mackerel, mullet, red snapper, bonito, perch, sardines, crops, rock, sea bream, and grouper.

Tip #18. Treat constipation problems

In their efforts to start a diet, many individuals experience constipation problems, which, apart from the adverse effects on the body, also affect the weight loss process.

Two basic steps you must follow to address this problem is: the daily consumption of more fiber, which have the capacity to contribute to the greater mobility of the gut, and the increased consumption of liquids, helping to correct the metabolic function. So you should increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables like oranges, apples, pears, plums, broccoli and greens.

Tip #19. Do not exclude from your diet any food group

Many of the “active” weight loss diets you will find support the exclusion of certain groups of foods such as carbohydrate-or fat-from your diet. This, according to nutritionists, is a big unhealthy mistake, as the body needs all nutrients-vitamins, minerals, trace elements, fiber, proteins, etc., which recruits from the different levels of the food pyramid.

Thus, carbohydrates such as bread and pasta, and meat and olive oil should not be missing from our diet, as they provide our body necessary nutrients and also have several benefits, ranging from disease prevention and the proper functioning of the metabolism, to high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3), helping to reduce cholesterol levels.

Tip #20. Eat a good breakfast

Some people when they are trying to loose weight they make the mistake of not eating breakfast. Avoiding breakfast is not a good idea at all because your will feel hunger during the day and at the end you will consume more calories during your meals. Not eating breakfast will also help you to eat snacks, in order to fight your hunger and at the end the calories you consume are more. In fact, research shows that people who eat breakfast every morning are more likely to maintain normal weight and they also find it easier to adapt to a healthy weight loss program.

To succeed in your weight loss efforts is up to you. This article gave you 20 healthy weight loss tips that can help you lose weight in a fast, healthy and efficient way.

Pilates for weight loss – Can you lose weight with Pilates?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 16:12
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pilates for weight loss

What is Pilates?

The Pilates technique was introduced by Joseph Pilates as a form of exercise in America (1926) and ever since they have grown into popularity and are now accepted in their use. Through the years they have evolved into different techniques (i.e. STOT Pilates, modified Pilates APPI technique, contemporary Pilates and so on) using apparatus such as the reformer, with books written about them, and DVDs for people to take home and practice.

The supporters and developers of different Pilates techniques claim a number of benefits to their name from improving posture and balance to losing weight, and those who use them will vouch that miracles do happen.

Different Pilates methods

Although the different Pilates methods developed can vary in their technique, they are all based in the ‘classic’ technique created by Joseph Pilates. In its essence the ‘Pilates method’ is a series of exercises which use the body’s own weight and resistance. In theory, it teaches the body how to use its own mechanisms to recruit the ‘core’ muscles throughout the body.

Pilates exercises can be practiced as mat based and/or machine exercises and cover multiple levels of ability, with difficulty and intensity of exercises increasing as the level of ability progresses.

The Pilates method is based in 6 core principles: 1. Breathing, 2.Centering, 3.Precision, 4.Control, 5.Concentration, and 6.Flow.

Pilates for weight loss: the science

Research in Pilates in general tends to be of poor quality and has been a controversial subject. One of the main reasons is because there are actually so many different techniques/methods and variety of exercises it makes hard to test all of them in a study. Research is limited into specific exercises and/or exercises routines making it difficult for clear cut conclusions to be made.

There is very little research which has looked into Pilates in weight loss and is not of high quality. The little research that has been carried out does suggest that Pilates exercises can help to lower the Body Mass Index (BMI)and achieve weight loss. However, due to the limited amount of good quality studies available there is no strong scientific evidence to support a statement such as ‘Pilates will lead to weight loss’.

In theory it is a form of physical activity, and as with any kind of physical activity some energy expenditure and some fitness gains will be achieved.

How to lose weight with Pilates?

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to lose weight with pilates and generally what you need to have in mind when choosing Pilates for weight loss.

Pilates is not the appropriate exercise choice if you are looking to increase calorie expenditure radically or you need to achieve large improvements in aerobic and strength components. Pilates exercises, especially those for beginners, are a more ‘gentle’ form of exercise and will not result in burning huge amounts of calories.

For those who are in general inactive and do not exercise at all Pilates will provide a challenge to the muscles and could result in higher energy expenditure (in very simple terms calorie burning).

Energy expenditure can increase in more advanced levels and/or with the use of apparatus such as the Reformer, and the Cadillac. The apparatus provide resistance, and increase the difficulty of the exercise and in result the effort made to carry out the exercise. Some mat-based techniques tend to use apparatus such as gym balls and thera-bands (resistance elastic bands) which can similarly increase resistance and muscular effort.

5 Steps on how to lose weight with pilates

1. Always start at an appropriate level. At a beginners levels exercises may not appear as they provide any muscular benefits or may seem very easy. It is easy to want to jump to a higher level which could provide you with more challenge, more calorie burning, and faster. However, one of the principles in which Pilates exercises are based on is precision and this is for a reason.

• For exercises to provide the muscular and fitness benefits they are aiming to provide.
• To avoid injuries. If any exercise is not performed properly and to the appropriate difficulty level, it can lead to back injuries, muscle strains, joint and ligament injuries etc.

2. Choose a technique/method/class which most suits you individually. There is not one technique proven to yield better results than another. When choosing a class is good to know what certifications the teacher has. Prefer teachers which have completed full courses from reputable colleges/institutes or have combination of qualifications such as fitness instructors, physiotherapist etc.

Regulations on Pilates certifications are not strict or very clear cut and a number of instructors may have just completed a weekend course which in some cases does not provide them with the appropriate skills.

3. Avoid fanatic schools that tend to preach extreme practices. For example that the only way is contracting the abdominal muscles 24/7. You can practice some elements of Pilates when sitting in your office, in the car, or watching TV, however, it is not natural to have any muscle contracted constantly.

4. Avoid home exercises. Unless you are an experienced fitness instructor is best to avoid DIY exercises at home. Not trying to undermine the home exercise regimes, however, in the case of Pilates exercises precision and control is vital. Not only for the wanted fitness gains to occur but also to avoid injuries. Carrying out exercises, at the beginning at least, supervised by a certified professional will have the benefit of carrying exercises in the correct technique, keeping safe and working on the appropriate level and routine of exercises.

5. Health first. As with every form with exercise if you have any medical conditions consult a medical professional before starting. A medical professional will be the most appropriate person to advise you in terms of weight loss and exercise which will most suit any medical needs.

Benefits of pilates for weight loss

1. Pilates can in some terms provide a full body workout (i.e. a number of muscles work to stabilise the body while mobilising a joint). However, effects are more region specific. Pilates exercises concentrate on the deep and superficial muscles of the abdomen (tummy), back and gluts (hips). They tend to give a flat tummy effect by conditioning the abdominal muscles and improving posture.

They could also help with reducing fat deposition in the abdominal and waist area (what some people can refer to as ‘love handles’) and the hips. If a muscle becomes more conditioned and works more efficiently it will in return burn fat more efficiently. A six pack may take quite a lot of time and effort to achieve though.

2. Results of Pilates on weight loss may be more prominent in terms of losing ‘inces’ in and around the areas conditioned (see previous point) rather than in kilos lost.

3. It could be more suitable for people who to start off can’t sustain heavy or intense exercise or prefer classes rather than gym sessions. Additionally, it may be more suitable for those who just want a light firming form of exercise to top up their weight loss or just sustain a firm body shape.

4. For more radical results in achieving weight loss is best combined with other forms of exercise and physical activity.

5. As with every exercise, for muscular effects to take place it can take approximately 4 weeks. Moreover, any gains will depend on the intensity, duration and frequency of the exercise i.e. how long, how many times per week, how challenging for the muscles etc. These are the laws of physiology and apply to all kinds of exercise not just Pilates.

If you overload the muscles will not necessarily achieve better results faster. Muscles need an appropriate amount of challenge for fitness gains, and a good fitness professional should be able to provide you with the correct level, program and routine for your individual needs.

How to lose weight if you have a slow metabolism

Monday, November 19, 2012 14:46
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People often refer to as having a slow or a fast metabolism. This categorization has also been used some times to explain why some people may put on weight easier or slower and /or why they can fail losing weight. Is there such a thing as slow metabolism and if so what can someone do in order to lose weight?

This article will look into some basic metabolic principles and how does energy expenditure (calorie burning) work so as to understand better how to lose weight if you have a slow metabolism.

What is the metabolic rate?

In order to understand what ‘slow’ or ‘fast’ metabolism is and how it affects weight gain, we will first explain some basic metabolic principles. Firstly metabolism is the combination of processes that take place in the body in order to function and maintain life. The means in which we take in nutrients and deliver energy as required is called metabolic regulation.

The rate in which the cells break food into energy (or simplified the rate in which we burn calories) is the metabolic rate. So when people usually refer to a ‘slow’ or ‘fast’ metabolism they usually refer to the metabolic rate.    

Each person’s metabolic rate depends on genetics, hereditary factors and amount of lean body mass (i.e. body mass minus fat such as in adipose tissue). However, it must be noted that in the general healthy population these differences are very small and metabolic rate on its own will not necessarily lead to measurable weight changes.

How does the metabolic rate work or measured?

The diagram bellow is a simplified way of explaining how the metabolic rate works.

An important thing to understand here is that regulation of energy metabolism and body weight takes place by highly complex systems and is not as simple as ‘slow’ and ‘fast’ metabolism.

What affects metabolic rate?

A second step is to look into which factors can cause substantial changes in the metabolic regulation and affect the metabolic rate and what makes some people to burn calories slower or faster. Some of these can affect directly the metabolic rate and others can affect hormones or organs which are involved in metabolic regulation and result in dysfunctional metabolism.

Some of the factors are summarised in table1 below; for the purposes of this article we will concentrate only at the aspects which can cause the metabolism to slow down.

Condition / factor Effects
1. Thyroid dysfunction Hypothyroidism: in simple words is when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. One of the effects of hypothyroidism is decreased metabolic rate, and changes in the metabolic regulation. Weight gain can be common in hypothyroidism, not only due to the slowing down of the metabolic rate and the hormonal changes but also as a result of other symptoms. Symptoms such as fatigue, depression, and weakness can lead to decreased physical activity and associated bad eating habits.
2. Genetic conditions / diseases There are a number of different conditions and these can range in the way they affect metabolism and weight gain. However, it is beyond the scope of this article to look into each one in details.
3. Very low calorie intake This could include very low calorie diets, fasting for religious or other purposes, anorexia etc. Metabolism slows down to conserve energy and its own stores. Also muscle mass can be lost which would further decrease the metabolic rate.
4. Sleep deprivation Chronic lack of sleep does not directly lower metabolism. It affects production of some hormones which are involved in metabolic and appetite regulation.
5. Stress Stress affects hormone production which indirectly influence metabolic rate. Stress can have a dual effect. For some people it indirectly increases metabolic rate and for some it decreases it.
6. Menopause During menopause a number of hormonal changes take place some of which influence metabolism. Menopause has been associated with low energy expenditure at rest and exercise and increase in central fat deposit and fasting insulin levels.
7. Age Metabolic rate decreases with age. Some scientist will argue that the decrease in the metabolic rate starts as early as 25 years of age. One of the reasons for metabolic rate changes is the decrease of muscle mass with age.


How to increase your metabolism?

1. Consult a medical professional: In cases where metabolic changes and weight gain are due to medical conditions/disorders or you have any concerns, the best way forward is to consult the appropriate medical professional. It is important to receive the appropriate medical treatment for any medical conditions, as these could have serious implications to health if not treated properly. In addition, for some medical conditions it is important to follow the appropriate and recommended diets.

You could try every trick on the book for metabolism or weight loss but if not appropriate you could actually be harming yourself and worsening a condition.

2. Increase your muscle mass: Probably one of the most important ways of increasing the metabolic rate. With exercise is not just a matter of burning calories while we exercise. The more muscle mass we have in our body the higher the metabolic rate at rest. In the average healthy person what makes the difference in having a ‘lower’ or ‘faster’ metabolism is muscle mass (more specifically what is called lean body mass which is the muscle mass and organs).

Any form of physical activity will increase the rate in which we burn calories so you don’t necessarily have to join the gym, simple things such as going for a walk, taking the kids swimming, or cleaning the house can help.

3. Avoid very low calorie diets: As mentioned above very low calorie diets can decrease the metabolic rate (see table 1). In order to lose weight decreasing the calorie intake may be necessary and metabolic rate may show some decrease in order for the body to adapt. The recommended calorie intake is 1500-2000 kcal per day for women and 2000-2500 kcal for men.

These are just guidelines and calorie intake does depend on individual factors such as levels of physical activity, age and body build. For a sedentary person who consumes 3000 calories a day is safe to aim reducing the calories within the recommended ranges. For a sedentary person whose calorie intake is within the upper recommended limits then a small decrease up to 500 calories should be sufficient and safe.

There are healthy ways of decreasing calories or increasing energy expenditure instead for losing weight without having to resolve into very low calorie diets.

4. Do not skip meals: Delaying having breakfast will actually help in burning more fat as fuel. However, skipping meals does not help your metabolism. Some scientist will argue that the body needs both periods of fasting and periods of feeding. This could help in improving metabolic flexibility which is the ability of the body to adapt easily in utilizing carbohydrates (sugar) and fats as a fuel and transition between them.

In very simple terms the systems becomes more efficient. In other words avoid loads of small meals and snacks (healthy or not) but aim to have all the meals in a day (i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner).

5. Increase protein intake: Some studies have shown that protein does help in increasing the metabolic rate. However, you do need to include carbohydrates as well as very low carbohydrate intake can have negative effects in thyroid hormone production.

6. Caffeine: Caffeine is considered to increase the metabolic rate and the use of fat as fuel. However, caffeine is a stimulant and can induce a stress response among other negative effects. Therefore, it would not be recommended to have large amount of caffeine especially if you are experiencing other day to day stresses.

7. Sleep well: As mentioned earlier sleep deprivation can affect the body’s metabolic processes. Sleep is important for the body and it does allow it to reset itself. A good night’s sleep can make miracles for your body in every aspect.

8. De-stress: As with sleep, stress can have negative effects, not only for your metabolism. If you are actually one of those people who lose weight when under stress you may be tempted to think that is not a bad thing. Chronic stress can have number of implications to health and could actually result in chronic conditions.

9. Cold: Cold does increase metabolic rate as the body works harder in order to sustain its body temperature. Some people have gone as far to create the ‘cold diets’ in which they recommend to drink iced water and turn the heating off in the winter.

Although in cold weather we do burn more calories, chronic exposure to cold can actually lead into weakening of the immune system and being ill. So torturing yourselves with a T-shirt in the snow or with iced baths is definitely not recommended. Dress appropriately at all times and just simple appreciate that in the winter you will be using more calories.    

Do You Know How to Lose Stubborn Belly Fat?

Monday, November 19, 2012 14:24
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Do you know how to lose stubborn belly fat? Take the following multiple choice quiz and see if you know all there is to know about how to shrink you waistline and keep the inches off.

(1) What types of foods contribute to excess fat in the abdominal area?

(a) Foods high in monounsaturated fats, such as nuts, seeds and dark chocolate.
(b) Fried foods
(c) High protein foods
(d) All of the above

Answer: (b) Fried foods often add unwanted inches to the abdominal area as the majority of their calories come from saturated fat. This type of fat is made from animal products and is also known to raise the level of cholesterol in the bloodstream. Therefore, fried foods are not only bad for your waistline but for the health of your heart as well. Foods high in monounsaturated fats are actually good for the abdominals if they are consumed in conservative portions. High protein foods speed up the metabolism and therefore help burn fat.

(2) What types of foods should be eliminated from the diet if you want to lose stubborn belly fat?

(a) Eliminate all sugary foods such as doughnuts and pastries.
(b) Toss out any foods that contain trans fats, such as chips from the vending machine.
(c) Remove low-fat dairy foods.
(d) Both (a) and (b)

Answer: (d) – Both (a) and (b) are the correct answers. Low-fat dairy foods, such as yogurt or skim milk are actually helpful in getting rid of belly fat as they release fat from fat cells in the abdominals and therefore reduce the amount of fat that is absorbed.

(3) Which food actually increases the body’s capacity to burn calories and therefore reduces belly fat?

(a) Chili peppers
(b) Oat or rice bran
(c)  Asparagus
(d) None of the above

Answer: (a) Chili peppers. Hot peppers of any kind contain capsaicin which increases the capacity for the body to burn calories by as much as five to ten percent.

(4) What is the best way to speed up the metabolism and therefore reduce fat from the belly?

(a) Eat foods high in protein, such as egg whites, chicken, fish, nuts, seeds as well as certain berries.
(b) Consume nutrient-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables.
(c) Drink plenty of water.
(d) All of the above.

Answer: (d) All of the above. Combined, all of the above approaches work as they speed up the body’s ability to burn calories and therefore reduce belly fat.

(5) When trying to lose weight, it’s helpful to detox the system to flush out any impurities so you can burn fat more efficiently. Which of the following fruits then is particularly useful in flushing out the kidneys?

(a) Kiwi
(b) Apple
(c) Cranberries
(d) Apricots

Answer: (c) Cranberries are specifically helpful in flushing any impurities from the kidneys. In fact, they are often used in clearing infections from the urinary tract.

(6) By adding fiber to your diet, you can significantly lose belly fat. Therefore, by simply doubling your fiber intake, how much weight, on average, can you lose in a year?

(a) 5 pounds
(b) 15 pounds
(c) 10 pounds
(d) None of the above. You can’t lose weight by merely doubling the amount of fiber you consume.

Answer: (c) 10 pounds. It’s been shown that if you simply alter your eating habits and include foods that contain more fiber, you will also see a lower number on the bathroom scale.

(7) Which of the following exercises is the best exercises to lose belly fat?

(a) Crunches
(b) Lifting Weights
(c) Running
(d) Both (b) and (c)

Answer: (d) Both (b) and (c) are the correct answers. Although crunches are good for toning and strengthening the abdominal area, they will not necessarily reduce the fat. The only way to burn fat is by speeding up the metabolism. A cardio workout like running assists in increasing the heart rate and the body’s ability to burn fat and calories.

Used in conjunction with resistance trainingor an anaerobic exercise such as weightlifting, you will indeed lose weight in the abdominal area. That’s because resistance training causes you to keep burning calories even after you’ve completed your session of exercise.

(8) Which of the following beverages will aid in reducing one’s waistline?

(a) Skim milk
(b) Coffee
(c) Green tea
(d) Both (a) and (c)

Answer: If you said (d) – both (a) and (c), you are correct. Skim milk is a low-fat dairy product. Any low-fat dairy product is helpful in lowering the amount of absorbed fat in the abdominal region and therefore reduces any accumulation of fat. Green tea too is a good beverage to consume if you want to reduce inches from your waist as it’s been proven to boost the metabolism and therefore burn fat. On the other hand, coffee dehydrates the system and is not a good choice if you want to lose weight in the abdominal area. It’s important to keep hydrated when you want to burn calories and lose excess weight. So coffee isn’t the best choice when it comes to something to drink.

(9) Which of the following foods is not rich in fiber and not necessarily helpful in weight reduction?

(a) Chick peas
(b) Strawberries
(c) Potatoes with skins
(d) None of the above.

Answer: (d) None of the above. All of the foods listed are rich in fiber and can help you lose weight if consumed in conservative portions.

(10) If you must cave in to temptation, which of the following treats would be best to eat if you want to keep your belly washboard flat?

(a) One or two bites of dark chocolate with almonds.
(b) An ice cream sandwich.
(c) Pork rinds.
(d) None of the above.

Answer: (a) Believe it or not, it’s been found that you can eat a small amount of dark chocolate without any adverse effects. If you wrap it around a protein like almonds, then you’ll even obtain more benefits. Dark chocolate contains monounsaturated fat, which is produced from plants and is an acceptable food to eat provided you consume only a small portion as it’s also dense calorically.

How do you “weight in” when it comes to belly fat? Did you get most of the above answers right or do you need to do some more homework? Regardless of your score, remember to keep a healthy perspective, which is the best way to lose belly fat. You’re already on your way to losing weight if you can maintain a positive outlook.

How much weight should I lose?

Monday, November 19, 2012 8:47
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weight loss scale

The amount of weight each person should lose is partly a personal choice. So in some ways aim to lose the weight you want to lose. For some people it may be a matter of losing a couple of pounds for others it may be a lot more.

If you do not have a personal goal and are unsure how much weight loss to aim for, there are ways to work it out.

Below we have summarised some of the methods, most commonly used to classify people according to their weight and body measurements. These methods can help you determine if you are overweight, obese or even within a healthy weight range. These classifications are only a guide and they do come with their flaws so do use them as they intended; as a guide.

How to set your personal weight loss goals 

1. Do not attempt to lose more than 1-1.5 kg per week

Regardless of how much weight you want to lose don’t aim in losing more than 1-1.5 kg per week. When it comes to weight loss ‘too much too fast’ is not recommended for health reasons. It may sound like a dieter’s heaven but trust me it is usually not good.

2. Do not fall on the underweight classification.

You may be on your ideal weight or even slightly underweight but you know that there is a bit of a tummy, or an annoying big bottom etc. Well maybe it is not weight loss what you should be looking for. Maybe just eating the right foods, or adding some exercise to firm the areas which bother you could be the answer. On the other hand it could just be the shape of your body, and learning to love what you got is even better.

3. The 2 most important things about weight are your health and being happy.

You may need to lose 200 lbs in order to reach your ideal weight but you don’t particularly want to be America’s next top model. Have the weight you feel comfortable with and happy with even if slightly over the line, as long as this does not affect your health. The truth is thin does not always mean healthy.

4. Don’t get obsessed with numbers such as your weight, your body mass index (see below), calories etc.

Firstly being obsessed may not be a good place to be, secondly all these numbers are guides and not a setting stone. You may find that you don’t lose pounds but inches and fat. How is that possible? Well weight loss can be more complicated than just losing weight; your body’s composition can change, as well as other factors.

Body measurements and classifications

Here we have summarized the following, body mass index (BMI) measurement, waist-to-hip ratio and waist circumference. You can use them as a guide to help you find your ideal range of weight. It is always best to use a combination of them for a better picture of your body’s weight.

For example, you may be within your ideal weight range but you may have a high waist circumference which could indicate a high risk to specific health conditions. In simple words you could be carrying a high amount of fat in your belly and this is linked to developing some diseases/conditions. Or on the other hand you could be exercising and carrying a lot of muscle which can lead to a high BMI (i.e. very common with athletes). This doesn’t mean you are overweight.

Ideally you can have direct body composition measurements, such as bioelectrical impedance, which can determine the percentage of fat, lean mass, and water in the body. However, this can be costly and sometimes hard to get.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

BMI is a simple way to classify individuals within ranges according to their weight and height.

BMI does not actually measure or show the amount of fat and non-fat mass in the body.

You can calculate BMI as follows:

BMI = (Mass (kg))/(Height (m))^2

BMI = weight divided by (height x height)

For example: If your weight is 60kg and your height is 1.70m then:

60 ÷ (1.70 x 1.70) ? 60 ÷ 2.89 = 20.76

Your BMI is 20.76.

Once you have calculated your current BMI then you can look on the table below to see at which category you are. You can also look at table 2 to see height and weight recommended ranges.


Body Mass Index (BMI)



Severe thinness


Moderate thinness

16.00 – 16.99

Mild thinness

17.00 – 18.49

Normal range

18.50 – 24.99




25.00 – 29.99



Obese class I

30.00 – 34.99

Obese class II

35.00 – 39.99

Obese class III



Female Height to Weight Ratio





4′ 10″




4′ 11″




5′ 0″




5′ 1″




5′ 2″




5′ 3″




5′ 4″




5′ 5″




5′ 6″




5′ 7″




5 ’8″




5′ 9″




5′ 10″




5′ 11″




6′ 0″





Male Height to Weight Ratio





5′ 1″




5′ 2″




5′ 3″




5′ 4″




5′ 5″




5′ 6″




5″ 7″




5′ 8″




5′ 9″




5′ 10″




5′ 11″




6′ 0″




6′ 1″




6′ 2″




6′ 3″




Waist –To – Hip Ratio (WHR)

WHR is often used to determine the overall health risk. Increased abdominal fat has been linked with increased risk of developing some conditions. WHR is another simple way of categorising individuals’ health risk according to the circumference of their waist and hip.

It is calculated as:

WHR =Divide the circumference of the waist with the circumference of the hips.

Place the tape around the waist and hips to the areas shown on the picture. The point at which the tape measure meets is the reading of the circumference.

Once you have calculated your WHR you can look at the table below to see if you are within a range which increases risk of developing health conditions. As mentioned it can be used in combination with the BMI.

For example if you are on a normal range BMI but have a high WHR you could be looking at losing weight from your abdominal area (belly). This could be easily achieved with a healthy diet and some exercise. Therefore your weight loss goal could only be a few pounds and even less than a stone but your concentration would be more in what foods you eat and how you can improve the condition of your belly. 

Waist to Hip Ratio Chart



Health Risk Based only on WHR

0.95 or bellow

0.80 or bellow

Low Risk

0.96 – 1.0

0.81 – 0.85

Moderate Risk

1.0 +

0.85 +

High Risk

Waist circumference is a simplified way of the WHR measurement. Just measure the circumference of your waist as above. Waist Circumference it is often used to determine overall health risks in relation to the circumference of a person‘s waist. Waist circumference can be recommended for those people who may be classified within a healthy range with using BMI measurements but may have excess fat on their abdomen.

The table below shows the classifications of waist circumference in relation to the health risk. As mentioned earlier in the case where you need to lose abdominal fat, a healthy balance dietmay be most adequate. In addition you may not be measuring weight loss in terms of pound/kilos weight in general but in inches.


Waist Circumference

Men (cm)

Waist Circumference

Women (cm)

Risk of metabolic complications

Neither overweight nor obese




Abdominally overweight but not obese

?94 and <102

?80 and <88


Abdominally obese



Significantly increased

How much weight should you lose? 10 tips to help you decide

1. There is not one fits them all answer when it comes to translating measurement (i.e. BMI) with pounds to lose. There are a number of changes that your body will make during a day, a month and even more during a weight loss regime. There are different body types, genetics, ages, and 100s of other factors which are all pointing to one thing:

Everybody is an individual with different needs and circumstances. Even 2 people who appear to have the same height do not necessarily mean that they would have the same weight. Moreover, no one has a stable weight through all their day let along their whole life.  

2. Use the calculations and measurements above to find in what range and category you are in. Are you overweight, in a risk of having a lot of abdominal fat, within normal weight range? But don’t forget they are a guide not a setting stone.

3. Once you have an idea of your body measurements you can start planning on what you need to concentrate on. This could be just losing a couple of pounds to feel more comfortable in yourself, or losing some inches of your tummy or losing more weight to get within a normal range of weight.

4. Don’t obsess over numbers. Above all is your health and satisfaction. Lowering the risk of developing health conditions and being at the weight you feel satisfied is a good place to start. If you are however borderline underweight or your goals bring you to an underweight range do reconsider. Your health is important and skinny does not translate to healthy. Start thinking that maybe you should start loving your own body.

5. It is important to think what is it you want to achieve. Regardless of what measurements say what is your own goal? Do you just want to go down a couple of dress sizes even if you are still in an overweight range? How much do you weigh then? For example if you are a dress size 18 and want to just go down to a size 16 your goal could be losing 1-2 stones.

This is only an example as each person’s body is different. The point is, do think where you want to be. Set your goal and review your progress.

6. Losing weight versus losing fat. Yes you don’t always have to see it on the scales. There is such a thing as losing fat mass but not necessarily translating to pounds but more in inches or sometimes it is not as clear at all. You could be putting lean mass on. Keeping a record of your measurements sometimes can give you a guide of what is going on. But don’t over obsess.

7. This brings us to the point of don’t just look at finding an exact weight goal from day one. Keep in mind that you did not put on the weight in one day so it is unlikely that you will lose it in one day.

If you have quite a lot of weight to lose set a 2 week goalsto start from. It takes about 2 weeks for your body to make long term changes and adapt (this can vary depending on each individual).

Monitor your diet and weight loss and body changes (i.e. lost inches, lost pounds, to hard diet to follow etc.). After that, set your weekly goals and monthly goals. For example you want to lose 10lbs in one month, so you will aim for approximately 2lbs per week. It may be that one week you lose 1lb and one week you lose 3lbs but overall you have reached your monthly goal.

Over the time you will know at which point you are happy with what you have achieved.

8. Do it healthy. I think I have already said that a few times. Well here it goes once again. Being healthy is more important than being thin and thin does not always mean healthy. Aiming for a healthy body state, a change towards a healthier diet and lifestyle rather than stressing about how many pounds you should be is probably a better thing to do.

9. If your weight loss is for mainly health reasons then it is also advisable to consult an appropriate medical professional. A medical professional should provide you with the guidance you need regarding your health and weight.

I know that sometimes physician may tell you that you must lose weight for your health but often don’t tell you how or how much. Insist in guidance. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and more information. It is your health and this is their job.

10. In that matter it is always recommended to advise a medical professional before taking any exercise or diet regime, especially if you there are pre-existing health complaints.

5 Foods to avoid while dieting

Monday, November 19, 2012 6:37
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unhealthy food

In this article I am going to present 5 foods to avoid while dieting or at least reduce their consumption to a minimum in order to succeed in your weight lost and reach an optimum health. I am sure you are familiar with several foods which are detrimental for your health and I may cover some of them, but I hope I will introduce something new for you.

All the following foods can have some harmful effects, so try to avoid all of them and start eating healthier today.

1.         Unfermented soy products

Many people who are committed to having a healthy life style have been convinced in believing that processed unfermented soy products are good for health. Soy is seen as miracle healthy food of 21st century.  The soy industry is a huge business and its popularity and success was the result of a massive investment in marketing.

So what’s wrong with soy and why it’s unfermented products havoc health?

Soy contains natural toxins (anti-nutrients) which interfere with enzymes needed for protein digestion. Soy also contains several substances which interfere with normal body functioning. Just to name few:

•           Hemagglutinin – causes red blood cells clot together, therefore disturb absorption and distribution of oxygen to tissues

•           Phytates – can prevent absorption of several minerals

•           Gointrogens – can interfere with thyroid function

Moreover, majority of soy on US market is genetically modified (GMO) (European soy should be “GMO  clean”, but there is no guarantee due to contamination through natural pollination). This form of soy is resistant to toxic herbicides Roundup; therefore it is loaded with this toxic pesticide. It also contains genes from bacteria that produce a protein which has never been part of the human food supply.

2.         Fructose

A few years back fructose was the healthy solution in place of sugar. Whether it was for weight loss purposes or health purposes (i.e. diabetes) it was used in plethora. These days fructose has fallen a little bit out of favour.

So why should include fructose in your foods to avoid while dieting shopping list?

Scientific theories suggest that in nature foods would not normally contain large amounts of fructose. Therefore the body is not accustomed in consuming too much of it.

One theory of how this happens suggests that fructose has a greater potential in turning into fat in the liver in comparison to glucose (ordinary sugar). In other words when you consume fructose it is more likely to be turned into fat and stored than if you were consuming ordinary sugar.

A second theory supports that fructose is linked with appetite deregulation in the brain. Some fructose based sweeteners used in foods derive from high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Moreover, some scientists have implicated HFCS as a possible contributor in excess energy consumption (eating too many calories).

However, let’s make it clear: don’t stop eating fruit. The amount of fructose contained in fruit does not really translate in high amounts unless your diet consists of just fruit.

3.        Trans-fats

Everybody needs some fat in their diet, however, the chemical structure of fat plays an important role in the way is processed in the body and the health implications it can have. Often people connect saturated fats with health risks and conditions, but if there is one fat to really watch is the trans-fat.

Why should you remove foods containing trans fats from your diet?

Well trans fats have been connected with a number of health risks. They are believed to increase the risk for coronary heart disease and components of the metabolic syndrome. In addition, studies suggest that trans fats may exacerbate diabetes as they can increase insulin resistance (in simple words the cells resist the effects of insulin and respond slower or not at all). These are some of the health risks, as the list goes on.

In brief it is suggested by studies that trans fats can cause more health problems than saturated fats. When it comes to trying to avoid trans fats it can be a mind field as most food labels do not list the amount of trans fats they contain. In general is best to try and avoid processed food, fast food, margarines, and deep fried food.

4.         Sugar

I think, these days, just about everybody is aware about the harmful effects of sugar in both the waistline and health. It does make me sad to say that sugar has to go as I do love cakes, chocolate, sweets, cheesecakes…the list goes on.

However, sugar does contain a lot of calories. If your aim is weight loss then sugar is your number 1 enemy and it is definitely one of the foods to avoid while dieting.

In addition, to the high calorific properties of sugar it can also increase health risks such as development of insulin resistance and diabetes. In simple words when sugar enters the system, your body produces a hormone called insulin which one of its roles is to signal to the cells to absorb sugar.

Too much sugar and all the time can lead into producing too much insulin all the time. When the cells are chronically stimulated by insulin they can become kind of insensitive to it which can then lead to what is called insulin resistance and diabetes.

In addition sugar can make insulin to rise in the body sharply and fall sharply which amongst others it can make you feel hungry, irritable, and tired.

One point to remember, when we refer to sugar is not just the one you add to your coffee. Starchy foods such pasta, bread, cereal and pastries are mainly sugars. It is quite hard to remove all sugars, however not impossible. When it comes to bread, pasta and rice an alternative can be to opt for wholemeal.

Moreover, you can replace the morning cereal with a protein based breakfast which can make you feel full for longer and can provide a better insulin response.

If you are experiencing any issues or health complaints with any of the above mentioned is always recommended to consult a health professional before making any changes to your diet.

5.         Farmed salmon

A quite high amount of salmon which is consumed in USA and Europe is farmed. A few studies have looked into the level of contaminants contained in farmed salmon and the health risks these can impose. The studies are more or less in agreement that the level of contaminants is higher in farmed salmon than in wild salmon; the question however is what does that mean in terms of health?

Some of the contaminants studies refer to are concentrations of dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB),3 polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and some pesticides. These names may not make much sense for a lot of people; however, the main argument about all these contaminants is mainly that they increase the risk of cancer amongst some other health issues.

Some studies have argued that the level of contaminants in farmed salmon depend on the region it has been raised. For example Chilean and South American farmed raised salmon is believed to contain less contaminant than European farmed raised salmon. A lot of these points, as well as the argument of whether the benefits of consuming salmon outweigh the risk, have not been fully explored and answered.

A solution to the issue could be to aim for either wild salmon or chose farmed salmon which could be less contaminated. In addition, why not try other oily fish which can taste as good and still contain all the necessary nutrients beneficial for health?

In summary the 5 foods to avoid while dieting are: unfermented soy products, fructose, trans-fats, sugar and farmed salmon.