Best Self Improvement Books

"7 Weird Reasons You're Gaining Weight" Review

Have you tried everything and you still can't lose weight? The reason might be outside of your plate. Here are 7 weird reasons why you are struggling (from the article 7 Weird Reasons You're Gaining Weight).

You're depressed

Many anti-depressant medications cause weight gain—so if you're depressed and taking pills for it, expect to see a bump in weight between 5 and 15 pounds, with continued gradual accumulation over the years, says Dr. Hedaya, who is also the founder of the National Center for Whole Psychiatry in Chevy Chase, MD.

If you're not taking pills, there’s evidence that feelings of depression can correlate to weight gain. One 2010 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that people who feel sad and lonely gain weight more quickly than those who report fewer depression-related symptoms. "They may be eating more high-fat, high-calorie comfort foods," says Belinda Needham, PhD, assistant professor in the department of sociology at UAB and the lead author of the study. "Or they may have [cut back their] physical activity."

Fix it: "If I see patients who are taking anti-depressants and that could be the culprit of their weight gain, I may wean them slowly off of the drug," says Dominique Fradin-Read, MD, MPH, assistant clinical professor at the Loma Linda School of Medicine in California. "I may then put them on Wellbutrin instead, which actually helps with weight loss." If your meds are not to blame, seek out some workout buddies or a support group. "Attending meetings, like Weight Watchers, working out with a group of friends, or hiring a personal trainer in Chicago is a great way to increase social support," Dr. Needham says, "which can help depression."

Moody Wisdom: It's time to be real with yourself. You (and everyone else) is bombarded with negativity daily. Look at the ways it affects you and take the appropriate the steps while being mindful of your overall health. Medication can help but it's important to find the right one for you...which leads us to...

You're taking the wrong Rx

There's a long list of medications that can cause weight gain: If you're taking birth control pills, excess hormones for hormone therapy, steroids, beta-blockers for heart disease and blood pressure, anti-seizure meds, breast cancer medications like Tamoxifen, some treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, and even some migraine and heartburn medications, you may notice pounds creeping on.

"When I see patients who are concerned about weight gain, I start looking at their medications," says Steven D. Wittlin, MD. clinical director of the endocrine-metabolism division at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY. "That's a biggie. Some may affect appetite; some may affect metabolism." Others may simply make you feel better and thus regain your lost appetite.

Fix it: If you suspect your medication is affecting your waistline, your doctor may be able to find an alternative treatment that won't have that particular side effect.

Your gut is slow

Digestive issues, including slow bowel movements, may also account for excess pounds. "Ideally, you eat, and then, an hour or so later, you have a bowel movement," says Dr. Hedaya. "But once or twice a day is still in the healthy range." If you're not so regular, dehydration, medications, low fiber, or even a lack of good flora in your gut could be to blame.

Fix it: If constipation is your only symptom, then trying probiotics can help your digestive tract work properly. Staying hydrated is key, along with a diet chock-full of fiber-rich foods. But you can also try drinking a fiber powder, like Metamucil, mixed with water. "It may even grab fat globules in your intestinal tract as it scrubs out waste," says Dr. Hedaya. If you're still having trouble, check with your doctor to rule out a range of disorders, including hypothyroidism or a neurological issue.

Your body's missing certain nutrients

Being low in magnesium, iron or having a vitamin D deficiancy can compromise your immune system, sap your energy levels, or alter your metabolism in ways that make it harder to take healthy-lifestyle steps. "You may compensate for low energy with caffeine, sweets, and simple carbs," says Dr. Hedaya, "Or find that you feel too run down or weak to exercise."

Fix it: While you can try to boost your iron levels by eating red meat and spinach and increase magnesium by adding Brazil nuts or almonds to your diet, it's nearly impossible to consume enough milk or get enough sunlight to compensate for low vitamin D. "It's important to know that it could take awhile to find your right dose of vitamin D," says Dr. Hedaya. "If you take too much, you can get kidney stones. You need to have your blood tested every three months, so your doctor can make adjustments to the dose for you." Adding an iron supplement is a little less tricky—but it's still wise to let your doctor rule out hypothyroidism or other conditions that might cause insulin resistance, and thus weight gain, before you start taking supplements.

You're getting older

It's the one condition that's unavoidable. "Often, I hear patients tell me they think their metabolism is slowing down," says Dr. Fradin-Read. "This is real—we don't burn as many calories at 40 or 50 as we used to burn at 20. So we need more exercise—and less food—to keep metabolism going. Some studies show that exercise might be even more important than the diet for long-term weight maintenance."

Fix it: "Remember that all calories are not equal when it comes to weight," says Dr. Fradin-Read. "Eating lean protein will cause your body to burn calories more efficiently. On the other hand, carbs are something your body tends to burn more slowly and even store in your body more readily." Choosing low-fat proteins and reducing carbs are good ways to help avoid unnecessary pounds.

Moody Wisdom: A couple of notes here:

1. Exercise may be even more important than diet for long-term maintenance but.....your health will seriously derail without the proper diet. It's as simple as that.

2. I agree that low-fat proteins and reducing carbs can help avoid unnecessary pounds.....if those carbs are simple carbs. You absolutely need complex carbs (ie greens and other veggies) for optimal health. Also, advocating low-fat proteins doesn't mean that your diet is protein-focused or dominant. It is only a fraction of your needs and probably shouldn't exceed 24-40% of your dietary intake.

You have plantar fasciitis

"Many musculoskeletal conditions, including plantar fasciitis, but also osteoarthritis and knee or hip pain, can result in unintentional weight gain," says Donald Bohay, MD, cochairman of the public education committee for the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society. "Plantar fasciitis certainly can force you to cut back on your activity enough to cause weight gain."

Fix it: Modify your exercise program to swap biking or swimming in place of weight-bearing exercise, says Dr. Bohay. Seek out a physical therapist who can design an appropriate program for your specific needs—ask your doctor or check out the American Physical Therapy Association to find a qualified therapist in your area.

You have Cushing's Syndrome

Weight gain accompanied by high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and changes in your skin tone and quality, including purple or silvery stretch marks on your abdomen and ruddy cheeks, could be a sign that your body isn't processing nutrients the way it should, due to a cortisol-producing tumor on one of your adrenal glands. The syndrome affects only about 15 in every million adults annually, so proceed with caution before demanding a battery of tests. "Cushing's Syndrome is not terribly common," says Dr. Wittlin, "but one of the telltale signs is that your fat distribution is more in the midsection of your body, leaving your arms and legs looking more slender."

Fix it: If you suspect you are gaining weight that you can't attribute to your eating habits, medications, or lack of exercise, a few tests—including a blood test and urinalysis, to get an accurate check of your body's cortisol levels, will give your doctor the first clues to this condition. If the levels are deemed excessively high, then your doctor will order further tests, like a CT scan of your pituitary and adrenal glands, to determine if such a tumor exists. If the tumor is confirmed, doctors will likely perform surgery to remove the tumor (and possibly the affected gland), followed by a course of steroids to help regulate the remaining gland.

Moody Wisdom: Or you don't have Cushing's Syndrome. It's amazing how many personal training clients will blame their weight gain on a rare disease (and truly believe it) before changing the most common cause: Their diets. While being fully aware of your body is important, also be mindful of what you are avoiding. You should probably start by reading "50 Foods You Should Never Eat" Review.

What other weird reasons affect your waistline?

Are you having trouble attaining any level of weight loss success? Check out the list of tips and tricks in my post The 68 Best Ways to Lose Body Fat and More.

Picture Credit:'s undermining your weight loss success on a scale? You might be surpised.

Article Credit:
Author: Michael Moody Fitness with excerpt sourced from the article " 7 Weird Reasons You're Gaining Weight " on
"7 Weird Reasons You're Gaining Weight" Review
Learn how to lose weight from a personal trainer in Chicago.
Looking to reshape your life? Check out  Redefine Yourself  on Amazon today!

Looking to reshape your life? Check out Redefine Yourself on Amazon today!

"4 Science-Backed Hacks to Strengthen Your Self-Control" Review

Even when armed with the most effective tools to lose weight or reach your fitness peak, your self-control (willpower) will be the defining factor in your success. The message below could be the push you need to overcome the hurdle to your best self (from the article 4 Science-Backed Hacks to Strengthen Your Self-Control).

The Willpower Workout

In their book “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength,” Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney disclosed the idea that willpower is like a muscle that can be strengthened.

The authors argue that the mental equivalent of high-rep, low-weight training can boost willpower. Their method: Start small, then build. Little willpower wins over the course of a day, week, or month can lead to larger gains down the road.

As an example, Baumeister and Tierney cite performance artist David Blaine. When he trains for his strange public feats —such as spending 64 hours inside a giant ice cube—he does so by practicing small acts of willpower, such as not drinking alcohol. “Getting your brain wired into little goals and achieving them helps you achieve the bigger things you shouldn’t be able to do,’’ Blaine said. “It’s not just practicing the specific thing."

If your goal is to diet and lose weight , you can build your willpower by doing seemingly non-related things – like taking a walk every day, or cleaning your home every night.

If you’re Blaine, maybe you shave your creepy facial hair every day. Whatever works for you.

4 Proven Willpower Hacks

1. POSTPONEMENT OF DESIRE - You can, for lack of a better word, trick yourself into better behavior. Nicole Mead of the Catolica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics and her colleagues say that postponing consumption of an unhealthy snack to an unspecified future time reduces snack intake. Mead believes that reducing desire, rather than strengthening willpower, is an effective strategy for controlling unwanted food-related cravings.

Postponement gives the brain a cooling-off period that leads to more snack no’s than yesses, Mead told WebMD. She adds that the postponement should not be specific. In other words, you shouldn’t say, “I’ll eat that entire Fudgie the Whale Carvel Ice Cream Cake in 30 minutes.” You should say, “I’ll eat the cake at some point later.”

2. FLEX YOUR MUSCLES - But there’s another trick you can use if you feel your willpower slipping: Flex your muscles. Iris W. Hung of the National University of Singapore and Aparna A. Labroo of the University of Chicago conducted a study in which participants were who were instructed to tighten their muscles, regardless of which muscles they tightened, demonstrated a greater ability to withstand pain, consume unpleasant medicine, attend to disturbing but essential information and overcome tempting foods.

The researches theorize that the body primes the mind.

3. USE MENTAL IMAGERY - Mental imagery, used by athletes worldwide, is another willpower hack. According to Harvard researchers, people who do a good deed or who imagine doing a good deed are better able to perform tasks of physical endurance.

In a strange twist, those who envisioned themselves doing something bad had more endurance than those who envisioned themselves doing something good. In this case, researchers believe that the mind primes the body.

The findings are based on two studies. In the first, participants were given a dollar and told either to keep it or give it to charity. They were then asked to hold a five-pound weight for as long as they could. Those who donated to charity held the weight for an average of almost 10 seconds longer.

In a second study, participants held a weight while writing fictional stories in which they helped another person, harmed another person or did something that had no impact on other people.

Participants who wrote about doing good were significantly stronger than those whose actions didn't benefit anyone. Researchers were surprised to learn that the people who wrote about harming others were even stronger than the participants who envisioned helping someone.

"Whether you're saintly or nefarious, there seems to be power in moral events," researcher Kurt Gray said when the study was published. "People often look at others who do great or evil deeds and think, 'I could never do that' or 'I wouldn't have the strength to do that.' But in fact, this research suggests that physical strength may be an effect, not a cause, of moral acts."

So next time you’re jogging and getting tired, picture yourself on a heroic quest to save the princess—or murder her father, the beloved king.

4. MODIFY YOUR ENVIRONMENT - You can also trick your brain by modifying your environment. Consumer psychologist Brian Wansink discovered that people eat and drink more out of bigger containers.

In one of his studies people lost weight when they ate off salad plates instead of large dinner plates, kept unhealthy foods out of sight, moved healthier foods to eye-level and ate in the kitchen or dining room instead of in front of the television.

Willpower Depletion

Like your muscles, your willpower can tire out. According to a study co-authored by Baumeister, the more frequently and recently people resisted a desire, the less successful they will be at resisting subsequent desires. He believes people only have so much willpower to use during the day.

How can you tell if your willpower is depleted?

People with low willpower feel things, both physically and emotionally, more intensely. Baumeister and his colleagues found that people with low willpower reported more distress in response to an upsetting film and rated cold water as more painful during a cold-water immersion test.

Making choices isn’t the only way to burn through your willpower. Another culprit: hunger. Another Baumeister study concluded that acts of self-control reduce blood glucose levels and low blood glucose levels predict a lack of self-control. It’s the proverbial vicious cycle.

The good news is that glucose is sugar, which is fuel for the brain, and it can be replenished. Ideally your sugar should come from a healthy source, such as fruits.

Don’t drink a regular soda to avoid eating a cookie.

What you want to do is ward off decision fatigue. McMaster University associate professor of kinesiology Kathleen Martin Ginis says that having to make many decisions can cause a person to cave into temptation.

In his efficiency book "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity," David Allen urges busy people who want to be more productive to create folders in their email, and in their file cabinets, into which they can file decisions that don’t need to be made until later.

Allen’s tactic acknowledges that it takes a lot of energy to focus on the present and remain productive. Folders remove the burdens of constant decision-making.

Ginis said making regular plans to exercise at the same time every day also nets positive results.

The Depletion Debate

Not everyone agrees with the Baumeister camp. Many researchers believe that willpower, in fact, can not be depleted. For example, Stanford psychologists found that people who think willpower can be depleted are more likely to be tired when performing a tough task. People who think that willpower cannot be drained easily stay on task longer without losing focus.

So which one are you?

Can you stay focused on one thing for long periods of time? If you can, you’re in the Stanford camp. Soldier on.

Do you find that your energy drains quickly when you’re focusing? If so, you’re in the Baumeister camp. Grab an orange.

The Future of Willpower

It has only been three years since Caltech scientists pinpointed the parts of the brain that regulate willpower—the ventral medial prefrontal cortex and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

“After centuries of debate in social sciences, we are finally making big strides in understanding self-control from watching the brain resist temptation directly," researcher Colin Camerer said on discovery. Camerer hopes his research will lead to better theories on how self-control develops and how it works for various types of temptations.

Until science makes a willpower pill, find hacks that help you will your way past the donut.

How will you strengthen your self-control?

Picture Credit: - My personal training clients have used a lot of these strategies to lose weight. Do you have the self-control to stay away from a cupcake when you need to?

Article Credit:
Author: Michael Moody Fitness with excerpt sourced from the article "4 Science-Backed Hacks to Strengthen Your Self-Control" on
"4 Science-Backed Hacks to Strengthen Your Self-Control" Review
Learn how to lose weight from a personal trainer in Chicago.

Over 200 Tips on Weight Loss, Fitness, Stress Management, and More (My Ultimate Resource Guide of Links)!

Up to this point, you've been stuffed with endless health and fitness information from the internet, tv, and magazines. It's time to decipher between fact and fiction! Here is my master list of tips on how to lose weight, achieve peak fitness, cook healthy, minimize stress, and more. Considering the number of articles, I did my best to categorize them in an approachable way. Please share this list with anyone who wants to change their life and finally see a difference in their health and lifestyle. Also, be sure to save this link in a folder for future reference.

Weight Loss

-The Secret to Losing Nearly 27 lbs!
-Your 1 Month Weight Loss Plan
-7 Ways to Lose Weight After 50
-Will Eating at Night Really Make You Gain Weight?
-5 Non-Diet Ways to Trick Yourself into Losing Weight
-5 Summer Foods That Cause Bloating
-Determine Your Boundaries to Achieve Weight Loss
-Do This Every Day, and You May Lose 20 Pounds in 6 Months
-The Secret to Losing Weight
-How to Eat Healthy at the Airport

Why You're Not Losing Weight

-11 Diet Foods That Make You Fat
-2 Foods You Should Avoid During Weight Loss
-More Surprising Reasons You're Gaining Weight
-17 Meals That Will Erase Your Weight Loss
-2 Foods You Should Avoid During Weight Loss
-6 Diet Tricks That Are Actually Making You Gain Weight
-The Underlying Influence on Your Weight Loss Failures

Weight Loss Recipes

-The Best Fish Nachos for Weight Loss!
-Weight Loss Recipe: Chili Cajun Chicken and Sauteed Vegetables
-The Best Spinach Stuffed Salmon Weight Loss Recipe Ever!
-Weight Loss Quick Supper: Cajun Almond Crusted Chicken with Asparagus and White Beans
-Weight Loss Recipe: Almond Crusted Mahi with Brussels Sprouts and Roasted Garlic Potatoes
-New Weight Loss Salads
-Weight Loss Dinner: Chicken Shawarma with Spinach and Veggie Slaw
-Weight Loss Recipe: Kena's Kale Smoothie
-Weight Loss Recipe: Island Mahi with Roasted Kale Chips
-Vera Cruz Fish and Brussels Sprouts Weight Loss Dinner
-15 Minute Weight Loss Dinner from Trader Joes

Healthy Food Choices

-You Won't Believe What's in These Girl Scout Cookies!
-Save the Cow! Here is a List of Non Animal Protein Sources
-36 Ways to Fulfill Your Protein Needs While Losing Weight

Fitness and The Body

-10 Reasons You Should Never, Ever Wear Flip-Flops
-5 Things You Should Never Do Before You Work Out
-4 Simple Ways to Flatten Your Stomach
-What You Don't Know About Your Waistline
-End Your Lower Back Pain Today
-Exercise May Not Help You Lose Weight
-Personal Trainer Wisdom: 1 Fitness Myth Unraveled
-Keep These Items in Your Gym Bag!

Creating the Life Your Want

-99 Ways to Redefine Yourself Today
-Top 15 Travel Tips That You Need to Know
-Excerpt from the book Redefine Yourself: Define Your Purpose
-Your New Years Resolutions
-Your New Goals for a New Life in 2015
-Your Top 3 New Years Resolutions

Picture Credit:

Article Credit:
Author: Michael Moody Fitness
Over 200 tips on weight loss, fitness, stress management, and more (my ultimate resource guide of links)!
Weight loss and fitness tips from Michael Moody, author and personal trainer in Chicago.

6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before the Age of 45

I think there's a point in everyone's life in which he or she asks "What does my life mean?". You've worked in your career for several years. Maybe you've started a family, too. These things define you, but you still feel a little sense of unfulfillment. Why? Perhaps you haven't been asking yourself the right questions. Here is a list of 6 questions to ask yourself before the age of 45. Get a head start on making the most of your life before retirement is even thought at your dinner table.

1.) How have your fears and insecurities steered your life? How would your life be different if they didn't influence your behavior?

2.) How do you handle stress and what's the effect on your physical, mental, and emotional health?

3.) Do you feel in control of your life? If not, why? How can you control the negative and destructive influences in your environment?

4.) Are you willing to accept the mistakes in your past?

5.) What's your purpose? What are you passionate about in your life? What's your mission statement?

6.) What's on your bucket list and why haven't you been checking it off? What have you always wanted to be? What have you always wanted to accomplish? Where have you always wanted to travel? What have you always wanted to see?

*****I'm extremely thankful for the friends and personal training clients who have forced me to ask these questions over the last 10 years as a personal trainer in Chicago. I hope these questions prod you to start creating the life you want and achieve the happiness you deserve.

Article Credit:
Author: Michael Moody Fitness
6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before the Age of 45
Create the life you want by finding your purpose.

The Underlying Influence on Your Weight Loss Failures

Fear is a very powerful influence, and you should question how it affects your approach to weight loss or personal training in Chicago. How many times have you avoided a session with a personal trainer? Have you ever backed out of a weight loss plan? Have you ever taken a different path to avoid another personal training client at the gym? What were your reasons? Fear of failure? Fear of commitment? Fear of judgement?

Although fear can lead you to avoidance, is it always a bad thing? No. Fear can protect you from potentially harmful situations. The mind automatically triggers its efficient response system when it recognizes a learned threat. This system of fear has grown inside of you based on past experiences or what you’ve learned.

If an experience or something else has built a strong enough association, the mind will make it tough to forget and will consequently hide it in our subconscious like a protective mechanism. It usually takes repeated experiences before you internally say to yourself, “Maybe I shouldn’t drive erratically because I will hit another car,” or, “Maybe I shouldn’t work 10 hours per day in a stressful job because I’m at risk for a heart attack.” Either way, it can help you avoid destructive or stressful situations. This inner voice is quite essential when we need a wake-up call from life’s distractions.

We need to remember that our minds thrive on reinforcement and don’t always effectively decipher between good and bad or rational and irrational. The fear of flying is a common example, and one which I can relate to.

Rocking back and forth by the open door of the plane, I looked down 13,000 feet on a still landscape of cornfields and a distant Lake Michigan. Three seconds later my tandem partner pushed me out, and we free-fell 5,000 feet before my parachute popped open. That was the first and only time I ever skydived.

Funny enough, I wasn’t scared while crouching on the edge of the doorway. The experience was surreal; however, I didn’t feel that way 30 seconds earlier.

Most people have a fear of heights, and I can’t blame them. The higher we travel, the less likely we’ll survive in the case of an accident. This fear is a survival instinct.

On that day, though, the height didn’t scare me (or the fear of dropping 13,000 feet with a parachute, which is safe, but still crazy). Above all, the plane ride scared me the most.

The plane was a ten-person, single-engine plane. As it rose up into the sky, you heard the engine roar through the cabin as the wind knocked the plane back and forth like a pinball. I looked down at my new altimeter wristwatch and saw the steady climb in elevation. I had never been more nervous in my life. At the same time, I couldn’t wait to jump.

Why was I more scared of the plane than the actual jump? If you think about it, being in a closed cabin seems safer and more controlled than a free-fall with plastic strapped to your back.

That thought never crossed my mind, though. I couldn’t stop thinking about all the small planes I had seen on the news, including the plane carrying JFK Jr. that had crashed and killed everyone on board. I had a constant newsreel showing me these horrible images and bylines of those fatal crashes playing in my head.

My fear is an excellent tool for survival —when it’s rational. I finally understood why many people fear flying. Despite this fear, though, I still flew up and jumped after debating whether or not I should. I finally realized that it wasn’t rational to fear flying on that day. The weather conditions were sunny and warm, and the airline had a perfect flight history. It’s hard to believe that fear almost steered me from an unbelievable experience.

It truly is a problem when irrational fears overtake our being. Despite our efforts at times to repress or erase them, they tend to scratch and claw their way out like a cat trapped in a bag. They pop up in our minds as thoughtful, rational monologues that appear in our best interests, but are actually self-sabotaging pushes to maintain our current culture, like a familiar job or relationship, even though it causes us stress or leads to weight gain.

It doesn’t seem to make sense. Why would we allow these things to ruminate within us? Why would we allow them to take over our being when we’re not paying attention?

For you, it may manifest itself in an underlying voice telling you “Don’t do this!” Despite your best efforts to eliminate the message, it continues to torment you as an unfiltered guided voice; much like it did to me as I was preparing to board that small plane.

We carve our experiences and our interactions into a writeable disc that plays the background music to our life. Unfortunately—and fortunately—fears are written on the disc along the way, too. They make a deeper groove, and it takes more repetitions to change them.

You need to face your fears by defining their influence on your perspective and behavior, and by repeatedly reinforcing a positive message. Don’t feel the pressure to figure out the root of every fear. It may take more work than you’re willing to handle.

It’s time to redefine the legacy of fear within you.

Reflection Section:

1.) Awareness: Name three fears that steer your behavior (e.g., avoidance, projection, isolation, etc.). Where have these fears stemmed from and what evidence do you have to justify listening to these fears?

2.) Acceptance: Are you prepared to face these fears again with a new self-confidence? If not, what positive message can you repeatedly reinforce? How will you carry this out?

3.) Adaptation: Which fears are unjustified and how will you no longer allow them to change your approach? What positive messages can you reinforce repeatedly to convince yourself that these fears aren’t rational?

Article Credit:
The Underlying Influence on Your Weight Loss Failures
Discovering the underlying reasons why you can't lose weight.