5 Ways to Break through Dreaded Weight Loss Plateaus

By Justine Holberg

You’re tracking calories, working out each day, then bam! For a week or two, the scale refuses to budge…and you realize you’ve hit a dreaded weight loss plateau. Now what? Even though it’s completely normal to hit a snag in your fitness journey, a perceived setback like this can send even the most dedicated dieter off course, away from healthy eating and toward cookies, cake, and pizza. But you can be strong and start getting back on the weight-loss track again. Try at least one of the following techniques, and there’s a good chance you’ll burst through your plateau in no time. Here are five important things to know about hydration and exercise:

1. Zigzag your daily calorie intake. In theory, you’ve got to eat less to lose more, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes you just have to shake things up. Here’s one way to do it: If your average daily intake is 1,400 calories, try dropping to 1,200 one day, going up to 1,800 the next day, and then dropping back to 1,400. The idea is to keep your metabolism guessing. There’s no magic number that works for everyone, so you’ll have to experiment until you find the right calorie levels for you. According to Beachbody Director of Results Steve Edwards, what happens when you zigzag is that you force your body to choose how many calories it needs to recover from the rigors of your exercise program. “Most people who hit a plateau are undereating. If you are indeed undereating, adding calories for a few days, then lowering them again, will help you force your body into a hormonal response that will not only help you break out of a plateau, but—as you learn to recognize the signals—will teach you how much food you should be eating.”

2. Switch up your exercise routine. If you do the same workout each day, eventually it can start to become less challenging, and (unfortunately) less effective. If you push yourself to new levels of strength or exhaustion, you’ll almost certainly see a shift. Here are some ways you can challenge your body:

  • Swap your jog for a bike ride.
  • Try weights with your cardio routine. (ChaLEAN Extreme® or RevAbs® can help you do this.)
  • Add intervals of high intensity to really make you sweat. (INSANITY® is a great workout for this.)
  • Drop to the floor for 10 push-ups right now!

The idea is to try something different. According to Edwards, “The better you get at something, the easier it becomes. That’s why we’re always telling you to add more weight as you get stronger, and to move faster and jump higher as our programs progress. But it’s also why all of our programs have phases of training. As your body adapts to stimulus, you need to change that stimulus in order to keep results happening.”

3. Eat some almonds. Almonds are a great snack, plus there’s some research that indicates that they can help you burn fat. That’s because they contain fiber and fatty acids—the good kind of fat that helps you lose weight. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity compared two groups of people who ate a 1,000-calorie-a-day diet. As part of their daily diet, one group ate 3 ounces of almonds every day. The other group ate a mix of complex carbs. What happened? The group that ate the almonds lost more weight. So next time you grab a snack, try a small handful of almonds, or as Edwards says, “Any nut, really. While almonds are one of the better nuts, all of them have a similar nutritional profile and make excellent snacks. That research probably would have turned out similarly if they’d used walnuts or filberts or whatever.”

4. Get more sleep. This may seem like the opposite of number 2, but the truth is is that you could be training too hard, which is about the quickest way to hit a weight loss plateau, because an over-trained body holds on to weight as if it were starving to death. There’s no better way to test this than to try and sleep more. The reason is that your body recovers much more quickly from exercise while it’s asleep, and if you’re burning the midnight oil while trying to do INSANITY, you could easily plateau from lack of recovery time. In a recent study at the University of Chicago Medical School, researchers found that during a period when study participants were deprived of sleep, they metabolized glucose less effectively. Additionally, they had higher levels of the hormone cortisol, which has been shown to impair memory, increase insulin resistance, and slow recovery in athletes. “There’s a good reason why five-time Tour de France winner Eddy Merckx said, ‘The Tour is won in bed,'” says Edwards. Your body’s recovery response during deep sleep is only rivaled by performance-enhancing drugs. When you’re on the borderline of overtraining, getting more sleep is the first thing anyone should try.”

5. Relax. Believe it or not, the one big thing besides diet and exercise that can cause you to plateau is stress. When you’re stressed, your body sends out higher levels of the hormone cortisol that, as stated in number 4, can encourage your body to hang on to fat. “Cortisol is actually a performance-enhancing hormone,” says Edwards. “But it’s gotten a bad rap because we’ve begun living our lives at too high a volume. Cortisol is released at times when the body is in an emergency state. It increases performance, but only over a short period of time. When cortisol is released and forced into action at regular intervals, it causes your body to wear down and switch to more drastic means of survival, like holding on to excess amounts of body fat. Your life shouldn’t feel like one big emergency. As a society, we need to learn to be more tranquilo, as the Spanish say.” We get stressed for many reasons, almost all of which are influenced by the society around us. One of the best ways to combat stress is to get some alone time to chill. If you’re the type who can’t let go, try some forced relaxation techniques, of which yoga seems to be one of the most effective. There’s something special about the mind/body interaction of yoga that forces a relaxed state even from the most stressed of us. If you feel you need a lot of help, dig into an intense course, like P90X Yoga X. For others, something lighter, like Yoga Booty Ballet® Pure and Simple Yoga, will do the trick. If you’re not into yoga, then consider at least adding some stretching into your schedule. Most of Beachbody’s programs have at least one stretching session. TurboFire® even has two!

Original Article:http://www.teambeachbody.com/get-fit/fitness-tip/-/ftip/140026045/all/0/75

Sugar Addiction Detox 101

Sugar Addiction Detox 101

By Debra Pivko

Sugar, sweet sugar—a delightful minute on the tongue in exchange for what feels like a lifetime on the hips. But weight gain isn’t the only consequence of eating too much sugar. Ready for the not-so-sweet truth?

 Strawberries Covered in Sugar

Overconsumption of processed sugar can contribute to a number of conditions, including tooth decay, type 2 diabetes, hormonal imbalances, overgrowth of candida yeast, chronic fatigue, more severe PMS symptoms, anxiety—and yep, even wrinkles. On the other hand, if you start to cut sugar out of your diet, you can shed excess weight, increase your energy, improve your concentration, improve your moods, and possibly steer clear of diabetes. Ready to kick-start your sugar detox? To help you out, I’ll let you in on some reasons why we get addicted and how to read food labels for hidden sugars. I’ll also give you some tips on how to start your sugar detox so you’ll have a much better chance at living a long, vibrant, and disease-free life.

ChocolatesWhy we crave sugar. According to AskDrSears.com, “Sweets trigger an increase in the hormone serotonin—a mood-elevating hormone. The body and brain get used to this higher level of serotonin and even depend on it for a sense of well-being. So when our serotonin level dips, (we dip) into the (sweets) to ‘correct’ the situation.” According to the Web site, sweets also “trigger the release of endorphins . . . the brain’s natural narcotics, helping you to relax when stressed.”

You’ve probably noticed that although sugar gives you an initial high (a rapid spike in your blood sugar), you crash several hours later, leaving you wanting more. It’s because sugar takes away more energy than it gives. Eventually, you find yourself exhausted, anxious, and moody. I know I’ve definitely experienced this crash too many times.

Is the sweet taste worth the unpleasant effects? Think gaining weight is the only negative effect of consuming too much sugar? Nancy Appleton, PhD, author of Lick the Sugar Habit, describes some surprising ways sugar intake can negatively affect your health:

  • Suppresses the immune system’s defenses against bacterial infections
  • Increases the risk of blood clots and strokes
  • Contributes to hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, and difficulty concentrating
  • Can lead to hypoglycemia, kidney damage, an elevation in harmful cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, and tooth decay
  • Helps speed the aging process, including wrinkles and gray hair

The list goes on . . .

Sugar PyramidMake the decision to detox from sugar. The first step in breaking a sugar addiction is making the decision to stop eating it completely for at least a few days to start to get it out of your system. While it’s usually best to make dietary changes gradually, sugar has the unique ability to inspire cravings that are refueled every time you give in to them. The only way to break the cycle is to stop feeding the fire. Then your cravings should subside substantially. Continue to resist large amounts of sugar and actively avoid situations that cue you to eat sweets. And whether you’re at work, at home, or at a party, just because a cookie is sitting out on a table in plain sight, that doesn’t mean you have to eat it.

Ask yourself why you’re eating sugar before you put it in your mouth. Are you eating out of habit? Because of circumstance? For a special occasion? Because everyone else is? Watch yourself like a lab rat. Begin to face your truth by keeping a food journal. I like to jot down what drives me to eat sugar, when I crave it, where I eat it, why I want it, and how I get it. For example, do you pop up out of your desk chair in search of cupcakes the second you hear people at the office singing “Happy Birthday”? Journaling can be helpful preparation for stomping out your sugar habit by making you aware of why you’re eating it.

HoneyBegin to eliminate sugar from your diet. For thousands of years, people ate whatever sugar occurred naturally in their diets, and it didn’t seem to be a problem; it was a treat. Registered dietician Becky Hand reports that the typical American now eats the equivalent of about 31 teaspoons (124 grams) of added sugar every day (about 25 percent of the average person’s daily caloric intake), and that sugar alone adds up to almost 500 extra calories each day! Our bodies simply weren’t designed to handle this massive load. The American Heart Association recommends that added sugar should be limited to no more than 6 to 7 percent of your total calories (not including naturally occurring sugars found in fruit and dairy products.) To put this in perspective, if you eat 1,200 calories a day, you should limit your intake to 21 grams of sugar per day. That’s the equivalent of about 6 ounces of low-fat fruit-flavored yogurt or one 8-ounce glass of orange juice.

To begin eliminating sugar from your regular diet, simply cut out foods with sugar, white flour, and high fructose corn syrup—including cakes, cookies, pastries, and most desserts. It’s okay to have a dessert or sugary snack on occasion, but make sure it’s not your main dish. Although sugar is generally found in desserts, added sugar can also be found in your main and side dishes, and even sauces. Look closely at the labels of processed foods, cereals, and sauces—like ketchup, barbecue sauce, spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, and dressings. You can usually find nutritious alternatives with less sugar that taste just as good.

If you’re a Team Beachbody® Club member, you can get a personalized, balanced online meal plan to ensure that you’re getting the proper nutrition you need to meet your health goals. You can even use the food analyzer to search for the nutritional makeup of various foods, so you’ll know which ones are high in sugar and should be avoided.

Eliminate hidden sugar. As you begin to decode ingredient labels, it’s really important to know all the other words for sugar and sugar alcohols. Here’s a hint: Look for words that end in “-ose.”

  • Agave nectar/syrup
  • Cane juice crystals
  • Cane sugar
  • Caramel
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Carob syrup
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrate (apple, grape, or pear)
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Malt syrup
  • Molasses
  • Sorbitol
  • Sucrose

Trick your taste buds. Using spices and herbs can trick your taste buds into thinking you’re eating something sinfully sweet. Try adding cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, or other sugar-free flavors and spices to your coffee, cereals, or other dishes and drinks that could use an extra kick.

Fruit ParfaitEat a healthy breakfast. What you eat for breakfast will actually influence your food choices for the next 12 to 15 hours, and influence your energy levels, moods, and overall sense of well-being. Dr. Joe Klemczewski, PhD, explains that eating a healthy breakfast balanced between lean protein (like egg whites) and slower-digesting complex carbohydrates (like oatmeal) will help you have good energy throughout the day, stabilize your blood sugar, reduce cravings, and make wiser food choices. Typically, your blood sugar is at fasting levels when you wake up in the morning. If you start the day off with a muffin and a latte, you’re choosing to ride the roller coaster for the rest of the day. If, on the other hand, you begin your day with a veggie omelet and fruit or some oatmeal, you’re opting for a balance of foods that will be absorbed at a slower rate. Then you’ll have a steadier flow of blood sugar that’s far easier to keep balanced than if it were fueled by a muffin, a bagel, or a cup of coffee dosed with sugar and cream.

Eat throughout the day. The best way to avoid impulse eating when you’re overly hungry is to eat several small meals, spaced throughout the day. This will keep your blood sugar more stable than eating the traditional two or three large meals spaced farther apart from one another. Schedule your meals around your body’s needs rather than around your to-do list if you can. You’ll find it much easier to stop eating once you’re full; to make smart food choices from a rational, calm place; and to maintain even moods and energy levels. Eating balanced meals is essential for getting real satisfaction from what you eat and leaving cravings behind. For most people, this means approximately 50 percent of your meal should be vegetables or fruit, and the rest should be split between protein (beans, meat, dairy, etc.), grains, and a bit of oil or other fat. However, everyone’s a little different, and you should experiment to find what works best for you.

High-fiber foods fill you up—yet they bring less fat to the table, says Barbara J. Rolls, PhD, the Guthrie Chair in Nutrition at Pennsylvania State and author of The Volumetrics Weight Control Plan. Plus, eating high-fiber foods allows you to eat a higher volume of food while ingesting fewer calories. It’s a concept called “energy density”—the number of calories in a specified amount of food, Rolls explains. Some examples of energy-dense foods are: apples (skin on) and bananas, avocados, flax meal, and kidney beans.

CookiesFind alternatives for when you have a craving. Make sure you find alternative foods and activities that you actually enjoy. If they aren’t satisfying, you’ll eventually abandon them for your old habits. When I’m craving something sweet yet healthy, I usually go for either low-fat Chocolatey Cats Cookies (for People) from Trader Joe’s® (only 9.9 grams of sugar per serving) or chocolate Shakeology® (only 9 grams of sugar)—that’s not bad for a sweet treat. Yep, I’m a sucker for chocolate, but I can still enjoy the taste without overdosing on sugar!

Original Article: http://www.teambeachbody.com/about/newsletters/-/nli/253#150954335

Science Shows How Exercise Might Help in Prostate Cancer

By Steven Reinberg

TUESDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) — Vigorous exercise causes  changes in some 180 prostate genes among men with early stage prostate  cancer, a new study suggests.

Included are genes known to suppress tumor growth and repair DNA, which  might mean that exercise could prevent or delay progression of the  disease, the researchers said.

“There are many reasons to exercise,” June Chan, associate professor of  epidemiology and biostatistics, and urology at the University of  California, San Francisco, said during a Tuesday press conference. “Here’s  yet another great reason to exercise and it may offer a prostate  cancer-specific benefit.”

For the study, Chan’s team compared prostate genes from 70 men with  low-risk prostate cancer to normal prostate genes from 70 men.

The cancer patients in the study were undergoing “active  surveillance” — also known as “watchful waiting” — rather than active  treatment.

The men answered questions about how much and what type of exercise  they did.

Chan’s group found 184 genes that were differently expressed in men who  did activities such as jogging, tennis or swimming for at least three  hours a week, compared with genes in men who did less exercise.

Genes more highly expressed in men who did vigorous exercise included  well-known tumor-suppressor genes associated with breast cancer, BRCA1 and  BRCA2, the researchers found.

In addition, these men also had increased expression of genes involved  in DNA repair, they noted.

The researchers hope to confirm their findings in a larger group of men  who are undergoing active surveillance, and also among men who have  experienced a recurrence of their cancer.

There are limitations to this study, Chan said. Most important, the  study was small and so the results could be by chance, she said.

“If confirmed, the results suggest that vigorous physical activity  might offer protection against prostate cancer progression,” Chan said.

Exercise has also been found to have benefits for breast and colon  cancer, the researchers noted.

The results of the new study are slated for presentation Friday at a  meeting of  the American Society of Clinical Oncology in San  Francisco.

Because this research is being presented at a medical meeting, the data  and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a  peer-reviewed journal.

Dr. Anthony D’Amico, chief of radiation oncology, and a prostate cancer  expert from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said that “this is an  interesting, hypothesis-generating study that will require further testing  and perhaps opens doors to exercise as part of future prostate cancer  treatment, but it’s too soon to tell.”

In two studies last year, Chan’s group found links between vigorous  activity, such as brisk walking, and a lowered risk of prostate cancer  progression and death.

In one study, which appeared in the February 2011 Journal of  Clinical Oncology, men with prostate cancer who participated in three  or more hours a week of vigorous activity had about a 50 percent lower  risk of death from all illnesses, and a 60 percent lower risk of death  from prostate cancer, compared to men who participated in less than one  hour per week of vigorous physical activity, Chan said.

In the other study, published in the May 2011 issue of Cancer  Research, men who walked three miles per hour or faster had about half  the risk of prostate cancer progression of men who walked at two miles per  hour or less, she said.

“These studies suggested that some form of cardiopulmonary exercise  might offer specific benefits for prostate cancer,” Chan said. “However,  the molecular mechanisms by which physical activity exerts this effect on  prostate cancer remains unknown.”

Original Article: http://news.yahoo.com/science-shows-exercise-might-help-prostate-cancer-001015233.html