5 Ways You Could Be Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Efforts

Many well-meaning dieters unknowingly sabotage their own weight loss efforts – are you one of them? Here are 5 surprising ways you could be forcing your body to hold onto the extra pounds – even when you’re doing everything else right.

Not Eating Enough

It’s a little counter-intuitive, but by restricting too much, you could risk putting your body into severe starvation mode, which causes you to hold onto that extra weight for dear life.

Not Paying Attention to Portion Sizes

Conversely, many of us struggle with the opposite problem: eating too much. Unfortunately, even if you’re eating totally healthy food all the time, you’re still not going to lose weight if you’re eating too much of it.

Finding out what correct, healthy portion sizes actually look like was really surprising at first. They seem so small, especially since I live in the U.S. (the Midwest, no less!) where restaurant portions are constantly getting bigger. You do get used to it, though, and since eating several smaller meals throughout the day is the healthiest way to go, controlling your portion sizes is a good way to start with that.

So, how much of each food should you be eating? Here are a few common guidelines to give you an idea:

  • Meat – For chicken and red meat, a serving is about the same size as a deck of playing cards. You can get away with a larger portion of fish, however: aim for the size of a checkbook.
  • Peanut Butter – 2 tablespoons, the recommended serving size, is about the size ofa golf ball.
  • Pasta – 1 serving is roughly the size of a tennis ball.
  • Vegetables – Honestly, eat as many as you want. But a serving is the size of a softball.
  • Cheese – 1 oz. is the size of 6 dice.

Skipping Meals, Especially Breakfast

Skipping breakfast might make you feel like you’re getting less calories overall, but actually, breakfast eaters are 50% less likely to be obese than those who skip the morning meal. Breakfast literally serves to “break your fast” after sleeping for 8+ hours – by skipping it, you’re tricking your body into thinking that you’re starving. Also, skipping breakfast puts you at risk for bingeing later. Mid-morning, you’ll find yourself so hungry, you’ll eat anything in reach even if it’s not the healthiest choice.

So what makes up a good breakfast? Try to include complex carbs that digest slowly, plenty of fiber to keep you full all morning, and protein for sustained energy. Oatmeal with milk and fruit is a great choice. If you’re rushed in the morning, try a yogurt based fruit smoothie with some ground flax to boost the fiber content.

Drinking Your Calories

It’s easy to overlook the calories in sports drinks, juices and that morning coffee, but they really do add up. An 8oz serving of juice alone can have as many as 150 calories! Stick with water when you can and don’t forget to factor in the calories when you do indulge in a calorie-laden drink.

Mindless Eating

Even if you keep track of the calories you take in at meal times, you might be overlookingthose little “bites” here and there that can add up significantly over the day.

Just think about it: you take a sip of your husband’s latte in the morning, eat a couplecrackers sitting out on the break room table at work and lick the mixing spoon when you’re done baking brownies for your kid’s bake sale. Those three “harmless” actions alone can add up to almost 100 calories! It will take a little practice, but it’s important to be mindful of those tiny sips and nibbles.

Bottom line: knowing the pitfalls dieters often face is half the battle. Now that you’re aware of these common dieting sins, you can put healthier habits into place. But knowledge is useless unless you actually put it into practice. Just like understanding how the best elliptical machines at the gym work won’t get you into shape any faster if you don’t hop on, understanding nutrition won’t help you maintain a healthy weight unless you actually use what you know as you make choices about what to eat.

Tracy Martin is a freelance health writer. She stays fit by chasing her three little kids around, hiking with her husband, and training on an elliptical trainer on the rare occasion she can actually sneak away to the gym. She is devotedly passionate about healthy, natural living, fitness and nutrition.

Three Reasons to Include More Fibre in Your Diet

With so many pre-packaged snack foods and refined carbohydrates in the modern diet, many people never consume the amount of dietary fibre that is recommended for optimum health. Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that consists of the indigestible portions of plant matter. There are two types of fibre. Soluble fibre can be dissolved in water; insoluble fibre cannot. Both play important roles in bodily functions. Here are three important reasons you should increase the amount of fibre in your diet.

Fibre and Cardiovascular Health

Medical studies have long supported the positive influence of fibre on heart and blood vessel health. Consuming adequate fibre on a consistent basis significantly reduces serum cholesterol levels. Lowered cholesterol lessens the risk of plaque build-up in arteries that leads to coronary artery disease. The disease process can develop over a long period of time without being detected until symptoms of advanced disease are evident. Untreated, it often results in heart attacks and strokes, some of which are fatal. Fibre has also been shown to reduce blood pressure in some studies. Besides its direct effects on the cardiovascular system, fibre also helps to prevent metabolic conditions that are closely linked to heart disease.

Fibre and Metabolism

Diets high in fibre are associated with lower obesity rates. Fibre helps to manage body weight in several ways. Because it passes through the body slowly without being digested, it serves as a bulking agent. This means that high-fibre food choices help you to eat less in general and to feel fuller longer. Fibre also helps to control blood sugar spikes by slowing the digestion of simple carbohydrates. By doing so, it can help to both prevent pre-diabetic conditions in vulnerable individuals and help diabetics control their blood sugar more easily.

Fibre’s Gastrointestinal Effects

Fibre helps to move bulk smoothly through the intestines; this promotes regular bowel action and eliminates toxins from the body more quickly. It also helps to balance intestinal pH; this keeps unfriendly organisms in check to prevent the release of toxic, cancer-causing substances. Since it plays such an important role in digestion and elimination, diets lacking fibre can lead to many intestinal problems. Consuming enough fibre helps to prevent conditions such as constipation, diarrhea, haemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome and colon cancer.

How to Increase Fibre Intake

In general, adding more fruits, vegetables and whole grains is the easiest way to increase both soluble and insoluble fibre in your diet. Good sources of insoluble fibre include green leafy vegetables, fruit skins, whole grain wheat products, wheat or corn bran and nuts. For more soluble fibre, eat oat bran and other oat products, beans and peas, flax seed, apples, pears, bananas, berries, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, broccoli and potatoes. The same foods that give you more beneficial fibre in your diet are also rich in vitamins and antioxidants that enhance your health in various other ways. Adding healthy, fibre-rich food choices to your everyday menu can help you to lead to a longer and healthier life.

Author Bio: Natasha is one of the most respected nutritionist’s in Australia. She says it is common for people to not get enough fibre in their diets and recommends a soluble fibre drink to compensate. In her spare time, Natasha spends her time shopping with friends, keeping fit at the gym and relaxing at the local beach.

A Dancers’ Diet

Dancers, like athletes, need to look after their bodies. They are put through enormous strain and as well as lots of rest and TLC, it needs the right nutrients to be able to perform and repair well.

It’s a myth that dancers, especially ballerinas, survive on caffeine and no food. They must carefully ensure their bodies are filled with the right fuel to perform at their best. High energy foods with the right amount of calories are essential. With the amount of physical work they do daily, they can’t risk making themselves ill or injured.

Here is what is recommended for an average ballerina:
Carbs – 50-65% of daily intake. They provide the main energy source in muscles. Great options are bagels, cereals, bread, pasta, and energy bars.
Proteins – 12-15% of daily intake. These include lean meats, beans, poultry and tofu.
Fats – 20-30% of daily intake. These include nuts, avocados, seafood.
Vitamins and minerals
Fluids – they help keep the body temperature down, removes wastes, and keeps the body hydrated.
Micronutrients – Calcium to avoid injuries

It’s suggested eating small meals throughout the day, or 3 main meals and 2 snack meals, to maintain blood sugar levels, which helps prevent tiredness, weakness and fainting. Try to include protein in every meal – this contains iron which helps build and repair tissues.

Allow occasional treats.

Portion size is easy to control and helps you stop over eating and feeling sluggish, and also under-eating and losing out on vital nutrients.

If possible, try to have regular blood tests. These will help check if you’re missing something important out of your diet.

It’s suggested ballet dancers eat at least 1000 calories a day, and on busy days which involve heavy training and shows – 1600-2000 calories a day. If you’re still trying to lose weight, don’t cut calories. Simply boost your cardio training, as many dancers can miss out on this during regular training days. This will keep your cardio health up and increase stamina which is essential for performances.

This post was written by Liberty on behalf of Move Dancewear, who specialise in dance shoes.