Emotional Eating

"25 Late Night Habits That Prevent Weight Loss" Review

If you're a late night person like myself, you may want to reevaluate your habits (especially if it's affecting your weight loss results). Check out this wakeup call to your nocturnal patterns (from the recent msn.com article "25 Late Night Habits That Prevent Weight Loss")!


First things first: Your Netflix habit is not doing your body any favors. Researchers from the University of Vermont found that overweight folks who cut their tube-time in half experienced an increase in daily calorie burn, burning an added 119 calories per day on average. It may not sound like a lot, but over the course of a year alone those can add up to significant weight loss. You don't need to cut ties with your favorites shows altogether, but reducing the amount of time you spend watching them each day will certainly help to tip the scale in your favor.


Nothing seems to melt away the aches and pains of a tough day like a bag of chips or bowl of ice cream on the couch watching your favorite show. The problem is, that food that makes you feel oh-so-good at night may actually be the reason you aren't seeing results with your weight loss regime. "Using food as a relaxation method is very common because for a lot of people food comes along with relaxing on the couch at night. What you need to do is tune your brain into paying attention to what's happening during that day. Ask yourself, 'Why is this happening? Did I not eat enough? Did I not drink enough water?' Sometimes not drinking enough water can make you feel hungry when you're actually thirsty," says Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition. Becoming more aware of why you're always hungry and eating at night is the first step to cutting back on it. Next, you've got to replace the chewing with something else to calm your nerves, like taking a hot shower or maybe doing some yoga.


Late nights spent munching can lead to even longer nights tossing and turning in your bed—and when you don't sleep, your body suffers. "Generally, if we eat big meals before we go to bed, our body has trouble winding down because there's still a lot of blood flow required to our stomach for digestion which is disruptive. In a perfect world, if you can resist eating 2-3 hours before going to bed, that's great so long as you're not hungry. However, being more realistic, I would aim to have a smaller meal for dinner and eat more during the day, so that eating an hour before bed won't be as disruptive," says Smith.


Once you crunch down on that first chip, sometimes there's no going back. Worry not, though, because we've all been there. "If someone is really having trouble and can't stop the eating at night, then I suggest they choose foods that it won't matter if they eat a ton of. Something like popcorn is really satisfying for many and while veggies are not so exciting, they're always a good choice. I definitely recommend staying away from any artificial sweetener because that can make you hungrier," says Smith. Note that chemical and saturated fat-laden microwave popcorn does not qualify! Use an air popper if you've got one or simply throw some plain kernels in a brown paper bag, fold over the top, microwave for two minutes and season yourself.


Our minds are turned on all day, so it's only natural to want to completely zone out at night. However, when we aren't actively paying attention we tend to not make the best food choices. "I have a lot of my clients journal to become more aware of the other things that are going on in their brain that they're not paying attention to. When people start to write down what they're thinking on paper it makes it easier to see what's really going on. Maybe they're experiencing some anxiety, stress, or dissatisfaction that [they aren't addressing]. Sometimes, just being aware of these things can make you more able to discern physical hunger versus emotional hunger," says Smith.


Research continues to stack up supporting the ties between sleep and weight. "When we don't get enough sleep our hunger hormones are greatly affected, [which can mess with your body's ability to determine when it's actually hungry, when it should stop burning calories, and when it should store energy as fat]," says Smith. Not to mention, the stress hormone cortisol is increased when you don't sleep enough, which can affect blood sugar levels and also lead to poor food choices.


Maybe you've run out of shows or things to clean and suddenly you're fiddling around the pantry for something to occupy your time. "I think that people find that they're bored and that's why they're eating too much. When we're looking for an activity eating becomes the easiest thing to do. I usually like to talk them through finding a couple activities to do that are specific to the evening that can help keep them occupied like reading, taking a bath, or calling a friend," says Smith.


Look away from the screen if you care at all about your body. Looking at your phone, computer screen, or television too closely to bedtime can get in the way of your body's natural wind-down process by suppressing the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin—and, as a result, make it more difficult to fall asleep. As you already know, when you don't get enough sleep, it's much harder to manage your weight.


If you live by the "treat yo-self" motto, then you might want to take a second to think about just how often you're expressing it. Dessert on occasion is fine and can actually help you stick with your diet. However, eating dessert too often will no doubt slow down or altogether halt your weight loss plans. "Try drinking herbal tea at night. They make all sorts of fun flavors now like herbal chocolate teas, which can help quench the need to eat something," says Smith.


It's actually a scientific fact that scrolling through delicious and perfectly arranged foods on your Instagram feed can actually lead to weight gain. Research published in the journal Brain and Cognition found that regular exposure to virtual foods might be exacerbating our physiological hunger way too frequently. Translation: There are plenty of Insta-Worthy Foods to Never Actually Eat, so put the phone down!


This should be a no-brainer, but in case you forgot: skip the caffeine at night! It's not just your evening espresso or caffeinated tea that needs distance. Sodas and certain sweets like chocolate actually do contain some caffeine and may make it difficult for you to pass out when your head hits the pillow. Go herbal or just stick with plain old water. Still not convinced? Find out how caffeine will affect your weight loss in the article How Caffeine Can Prevent You From Losing Body Fat.


You may be bonding with your co-workers and getting on your boss's good side—and yes, there are some benefits of drinking alcohol—but there really is nothing happy about what those post-work drinks pack on the pounds. "Not drinking at all may be unrealistic, so less is, of course, more. I recommend choosing the most satisfying option. Choose that drink that's going to take you the furthest satisfaction wise with the least quantity. I also generally find that cravings-wise wine is the worst and can open up the fridge more easily than something like a vodka soda," says Smith. Need more tricks? Check out 15 Daily Life Hacks to Achieve Greater Fat Loss.


Preparation is the ultimate key when it comes to effective weight loss plans. If you pack a healthy lunch before you go to bed, then you'll have a healthy lunch ready to go the next day. However, if you're too lazy to throw something together, when noon hits the next day you're left answering your hunger pains with the questionable lunch spots surrounding your office. Chances are whatever you pick won't nearly be as healthy as what you could have thrown together the night before—not to mention much more expensive.


Scheduling your workouts—whether it be spin class or a date with your personal trainer in Chicago—is going to set you up for success time and time again. Failing to do so will most likely leave you battling your snooze button in the morning only to find you've missed your workout window and have to head straight to the office. The less you move, the more strict you've got to be with your diet. It's your choice!


Yes, spicy foods can boost metabolism. But think twice once the sun sets. Spices like cayenne and tabasco can actually increase your blood flow, which can keep your body revved up and make it more difficult to wind down at night and get the sleep you need.


Go ahead and pat yourself on the back for making a delicious meal, but don't forget to put it away once you've had your fill. Keeping food out and accessible for quick seconds and thirds (no matter how healthy) is going to up your total calorie intake for the day and as a result make it more difficult for you to lose weight. Throw your feast in some Tupperware and save it for lunch or dinner the next day.


Whatever is preventing you from eating regular meals and snacks throughout the day, well, it's time to figure it out. While your daily snacks (if properly portioned) won't ruin your diet, the intense hunger that hits at night after undereating all day has the potential to do a lot of damage. "A lot of times people aren't eating enough during the day, so they're really hungry at night, [which can lead to overeating]," says Smith.


While eating too much at night presents its own problem, going to bed on a totally empty stomach brings about a different issue. Hunger pains can actually keep the brain on high alert preventing you from getting a good night's sleep, and when you don't sleep well your body produces too much of the hormone ghrelin which can boost appetite and disrupt your body's natural hunger cues.


When you cook for yourself you have complete control over ingredients and portions. When you order in, portion control becomes more difficult and you can only guess how many calories, fat and sodium you're shoveling into your mouth. That pad thai may taste amazing going down, but the nutritional unknown is impactful enough to just stay away from it completely.


If you're lucky enough to have someone else cook for you, then chances are you've got a decent meal on your hands. However, it's easy to forget that you don't always have to eat every last bite of what's on your plate. Mothers are notorious for wanting to fill you up, so eat slowly and practice mindfulness and moderation at every meal. Know when to stop, compliment the chef, and save leftovers for another time.


You've had your dinner, you've had your healthy snack, and you're still up wandering around not quite ready to hit the sack. Do yourself a favor and just brush your teeth! Commit to no more eating until bed because you've had enough. Brushing your teeth earlier in the night is an easy way to extinguish overeating, which all too easily happens at night.


Whether it be fine china or mismatched plasticware, the size of your dishes can and will influence how much food you eat overall. The bigger your plate the more likely you are to fill it up and eat up all that extra food. If you keep your plates small, your portions will remain smaller and make it easier for you to stay on track.


Cooking your own meals is one of the best ways to take control over your diet and lead you to your goals. A common mistake, however, is failing to measure ingredients and guessing how much oil or butter or cheese the dish calls for. One extra tablespoon of oil may go unnoticed to your taste buds, but as a calorie dense food, it can certainly add up over time. Keep measuring cups and spoons handy at all times to prevent any sneaky calorie additions.


Did your mother ever tell you to slow down and chew your food? Well, there's actually some logic behind that. It takes your stomach close to 20 minutes to signal to your brain that you're full. At night especially we are prone to mindless eating, so it's more difficult to cue into the volume of food we're consuming. However, research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that people who took their time eating actually consumed 66 fewer calories on average per meal compared to those who scarfed down their food. Over time, that adds up—trust us.


Eating is strongly tied to our emotions and so it can be rather difficult to moderate. The evenings are especially tough on all of us because our energy is low and we've had more opportunities throughout the day to encounter stressful situations. "People might notice that they're particularly more hungry on days that they're more stressed," says Smith. Finding other outlets for stress such as exercise or listening to music can help divert your desire to drown your feelings in food. Deal with it tonight so that you can make tomorrow a great day—and start becoming a happier you!

What other habits do you think are preventing your weight loss?

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

Picture Credit: MSN.com - Are you cleaning too many plates every night?

Article Credit:
Author: Michael Moody Fitness with excerpt sourced from the article " 25 Late Night Habits That Prevent Weight Loss " on MSN.com.
"25 Late Night Habits That Prevent Weight Loss" Review
Learn how to lose weight from a personal trainer in Chicago.

"Do These 10 Things in Your Kitchen to Lose Weight" Review

It's the start of the week and you're ready to jump back on the weight loss bandwagon. Your first focus should be your kitchen. Take a look at this quick list and adapt your cooking space for success (from the recent msn.com article "Do These 10 Things in Your Kitchen to Lose Weight")!


Wash, cut up, and store produce such as grapes, melon, kiwi, strawberries, carrots, peppers, and celery in reusable containers in the fridge so they're easy to grab. Make sure they're right up front at eye level so they're the first thing you see when you open the fridge door.

Moody Wisdom: Be careful choosing "healthy" foods...some options aren't what they claim. Check out the article "4 Foods That Sound Healthy But Really Aren't" for everyday examples.


Having a salad before dinner is a great way to fill you up so you eat less of the main course, but preparing a salad every night takes so much time that it's tempting to skip out. Ensure you get a bowl of greens every night by making an enormous bowl of salad at the beginning of the week. You're sure to eat a salad with dinner if it's already made -- just scoop out a bowl, top with vinaigrette, and enjoy.

Moody Wisdom: Salad greens aren't enough. Be sure to add a heaping amount of vegetables with substance like bell peppers, tomatoes, black beans, and more. You may want to read Why Salad Is So Overrated too.


Measuring your food will keep portions in check since overestimating serving sizes is a huge reason people don't lose weight. Seeing measuring spoons and cups on your kitchen counter will be a visual reminder not to forget to use them.


You know what happens when you eat chips or crackers out of the box -- you practically end up polishing off the entire package! Take your favorite healthy snacks such as mixed nuts, popcorn, cheese, and fresh fruit, grab some Ziploc baggies, and make some 100-calorie or 150-calorie snack packs you can keep in your cupboard or in a snack box in your fridge.


Buy larger bags of fruits and veggies at the store and wash, cut, and store them in baggies in the freezer. You'll not only save money when you buy in bulk, but you'll also have them on hand to add to your smoothies, yogurt, pasta dishes, soups, and omelets. You can also puree veggies and freeze cubes to add to soups, tomato sauce, mashed potatoes, dips, and smoothies.


If you're in a rush in the morning, prep these fruit and veggie smoothie bags and keep them in the freezer. Just empty the contents in the blender, add the extras labeled on the bag, and you'll have a low-cal, fiber- and protein-packed breakfast that'll keep you full all morning long.


Your spouse and kids might be fans of an occasional can of soda, bowl of cookie dough ice cream, or Hershey's Kiss, but if those foods are within your reach, you're bound to crave them. Throw out or give away the junk, because if it's not in your kitchen, you can't be tempted to eat it.

Moody Wisdom: Add diet soda to this list. Can't fight it? Here are 4 Ways to Beat Your Diet Soda Addiction in One Week.


When we prepare a plate of food, we feel the need to fill it up completely. If you start out with a smaller-sized salad plate, there's only so much you can pile on, so you'll end up consuming fewer calories.


Whether you're making soup, roasted veggies, homemade veggie burgers, or something else for dinner, don't just make enough for one meal. Package the leftovers in containers you can easily grab for the next few days' meals. If your lunch or dinner is already prepared, you won't have to resort to unhealthy takeout.


After you've cooked up an amazing vegan mac and cheese, serve yourself an appropriate serving size and then wrap it up and put leftovers in the fridge. If you leave it out, you're more likely to go back for unnecessary seconds or thirds. Out of sight means off your hips.

What other tricks will help you lose weight? Check out the list The 68 Best Ways to Lose Body Fat and More to find the most efficient ways while you meet with a Chicago personal trainer or try on your own.

Picture Credit: MSN.com - What can you pre-pack to help you lose weight?

Article Credit:
Author: Michael Moody Fitness with excerpt sourced from the article "Do These 10 Things in Your Kitchen to Lose Weight" on www.msn.com.
"Do These 10 Things in Your Kitchen to Lose Weight" Review
Learn how to lose weight from a personal trainer in Chicago.

"50 Unhealthiest Foods On the Planet" Review

In the world of endless food options, how do you know which foods to stay away from while trying to lose weight with a Chicago personal trainer or live a healthy life? Take a look at this abbreviated list of the most unhealthy foods (from the article "50 Unhealthiest Foods On the Planet"). You might be surprised of what's hidden in your grocery cart and affecting your weight loss approach.

Which of these foods have affected your health goals up to this point? What changes will you make in your approach? Check out the list The 68 Best Ways to Lose Body Fat and More for more weight loss tips.

Picture Credit: www.slate.com - Is salmon always healthy for you?

Article Credit:
Author: Michael Moody Fitness with excerpt sourced from the article "50 Unhealthiest Foods On the Planet" on www.msn.com.
"50 Unhealthiest Foods On the Planet" Review
Learn how to lose weight from a personal trainer in Chicago.

"26 Weight-Loss Myths You Shouldn't Believe" Review

When it comes to weight loss, how do you decipher between truth and fiction? There are many myths that may have been misleading you up to this point. Here is a list of the most popular myths unraveled (from the article "26 Weight-Loss Myths You Shouldn't Believe"). You may need to redefine your weight loss approach after reading it.


"Most of the time, detox diets are more like a crash diet," says Melissa Rifkin, MS, RD, a bariatric dietitian at Montefiore Health System in New York City. "They restrict certain food groups and sometimes deprive the body of adequate calories and nutrition for a short period of time." In fact, detox diets are notorious for causing weight gain: "When the body feels deprived and then foods are reintroduced, our bodies will regain more weight as if in fear of another starvation or restriction," Rifkin says. If a detox appeals to you, consult with your doctor on whether or not the benefits it promises are the real deal.


While "calories in vs. calories out" may be the foundation of slimming down, it's not the only equation at work. Yes, you need to burn more calories than you consume in order to lose weight, but the weight you lose will be a combination of fat, lean tissue, and water--and your body's metabolism will adapt to those losses, making the math a bit more complicated. For a better sense of what your personal calorie intake and activity levels should be, plug your personal details into the National Institutes of Health's Body Weight Planner, which will use your current weight and target weight to calculate the right numbers for you.


Between the low-carb and Paleo crazes, we've all learned to fear the bread basket. But you don't have to eliminate carbohydrates from your diet to lose weight and be healthier. In fact, healthy carb sources such as fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans and legumes (aka pulses) are an important, nutrient- and fiber-rich part of any diet. (However, experts agree you should aim to cut down or eliminate refined carbs, including white rice, white pasta, processed snacks, and sweets.)


Resolving to exercise regularly is well and good, but asking your body to adapt to a rigorous new routine overnight can backfire. "This can lead to injury or burnout, which keeps you from participating in any exercise at all," says Abraham Krikhely, MD, a bariatric surgeon at ColumbiaDoctors in New York City. "It's demoralizing and can lead to behaviors that cause even more weight gain. For most people, it can be much more effective and sustainable to gradually build muscle and tolerance, and do those exercises you enjoy."


Not so: "In a review of 53 randomized controlled trials lasting a year or more, high-fat diets consistently beat out low-fat diets for weight loss," says Mark Hyman, MD, director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine and author of Eat Fat, Get Thin ($28; amazon.com). "Fat, it turns out, cuts your appetite, boosts your calorie burning and prevents fat storage, while sugar and refined carbs do the opposite." Cutting out sugar and refined carbs, eating mostly vegetables with some fruit, and then consuming fat (in the form of olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, coconut butter, and grass-fed or sustainably and organically raised animal foods) is "the fastest and most effective way to create sustained weight loss," he says.


While some research has associated late-night calorie intake with higher BMI, the debate about when we should or shouldn't eat dinner is far from over. "My favorite weight-loss myth is 'Don't eat after 7 p.m.,' says Rifkin. "But if you wake up late, 7 p.m. might be too early to cut yourself off from food. My suggestion is to eat within an hour to two hours of waking, don't go for more than four to six hours between meals, and don't eat two hours before bed. That structure is helpful for creating a good meal-timing foundation."


"It's essential not to compare yourself to others," says Albers. "Our bodies are like a fingerprint; no two are remotely the same. Not only can trying to match someone else's weight loss goals be way off from what is realistic for you, but it can be discouraging." The best guidepost for your goals is, logically enough, your own "best version" of yourself; working your way back into your own favorite pair of jeans makes infinitely more sense than worrying about your gym buddy's progress.


Surprise: Many low-fat foods (and reduced-fat and fat-free foods) have just as many calories as the full-fat versions, and they may even contain more sugar and additives to help them taste better without the fat. And a low-fat label can lead you to overeat, thanks to the "health halo" cast by those magic words. In many cases, you may be better off eating a smaller (but more satisfying) portion of the real deal. With salad dressing, for example, the full-fat version can actually be healthier: Fat helps your body absorb important nutrients from the veggies in your salad.

Moody Wisdom: You should be careful with salads either way. Read "Why Salad is so Overrated" to find out why.


In a perfect world, we'd all have time each day to fit in a workout and prepare satisfying-yet-healthful meals for our families and ourselves. But the reality is that most of us don't have that time and never will--so we should be careful not to fall into the trap of what Albers calls the "wait-until approach." "Waiting until life 'settles down' is a recipe for disaster," she says. "Come to terms with the fact that life will always be filled with stress and unpredictable events. Now is the time to get started." You don't have to overhaul your daily routine--small tweaks can have big results!


On the contrary: By intentionally building a couple of so-called "cheats" into your weekly eating plan--high-quality sweets like a scoop of premium ice cream, cocktails with your girlfriends, a slice of your favorite pizza, or even bacon on your salad--you can enjoy your meals more and avoid feeling deprived, making you much more likely to stay on track long-term. Budget 200-300 calories for each indulgence, and you won't derail the virtuous decisions you've been making the rest of the week.


Once that love affair with spin classes finally takes off and you're working hard, it's tempting to treat yourself as a reward. "However, the amount of calories you burn from exercise is often modest when compared with the calories you can influence by changing your diet," Dr. Krikhely says. (Thirty minutes of running, for example, burns around 320 calories--you could cancel that out with one frozen margarita!) "It's important to develop healthy habits that involve both nutrition and exercise."


"Processed sugars like table sugars should be avoided at all costs; in fact, the new dietary guidelines recommend no more than 200 calories per day from sugar," Rifkin says. However, you don't have to shun naturally occurring sugars (like in fruit or dairy). That said, "the key here is moderation," she continues. "Pairing a sugar and protein source (such as an apple and peanut butter) is always a smart idea in order to maintain good glycemic control. When we have sugar spikes, we tend to get shaky and crave more sugar."


Skipping breakfast (or lunch, or dinner) will just make you hungry and cranky, and you're likely to blow through those "saved" calories (and more) when you're ravenous later in the day. "It's easy to overeat quickly and make poor food choices when you're starving and exhausted," Dr. Krikhely notes. In fact, a 2012 study found that women who missed meals lost eight fewer pounds over the course of a year than those who ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.


If your belly is rumbling all day, you're probably not making smart food choices. Meals that are too low in protein and high in refined carbs can cause blood-sugar spikes--as well as crashes that will leave you feeling depleted and ravenous. Pick diet-friendly filling foods that are high in fiber (such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, beans and seeds) along with high-quality proteins, and you'll feel full longer (even on fewer calories!). Plus, your blood sugar will be on a more even keel throughout the day.

Moody Wisdom: No matter your goals with a Chicago personal trainer, you should never feel starved or stuffed.


Before you pick up your fourth piece of avocado toast, consider this: Though it's true that the monounsaturated fats found in liquid-based plant oils, nuts, seeds, and that Instagram-friendly avocado can have a positive effect on your health in moderation--and are vastly preferable to saturated fats and trans fats, which have a negative effect on your health--all fats contain 9 calories per gram. Eating too much of anything, even the "good" stuff, can hamper your weight-loss progress.


If you're trying to lose weight, yes, chances are you're going to need to cut down on alcohol consumption. Aside from the empty calories in alcohol itself, drinking can mess with your willpower, making you more likely to overeat or indulge in greasy, high-calorie foods (hello, midnight chili cheese fries!). But you don't have to cut booze out of your life completely. Limit yourself to just one drink, and go for lower-carb beverages like light beer or a dry wine--and skip the sugary mixers.


According to FDA guidelines, the caloric and fat content of a product can vary by up to 20% from what's printed on its nutritional label. This means that, say, a 100-calorie snack pack could actually ring in at 120 calories--and if you're counting calories based mostly on packaged foods, you could be way off by the end of the day. That doesn't mean you should ignore the labels entirely: "Research indicates that people who check out the back of packages lose more weight; they become more aware of and attuned to what they are eating and how it makes their bodies feel," Dr. Albers says.


While genes can play a role in obesity, you can still overcome that genetic tendency with diet and exercise. Remember, too, that the most common reason why some families are overweight while others aren't has nothing to do with genetics. Behaviors are inherited; children learn good and poor eating habits at their parents' dinner table. If your parents and other family members were or are overweight, you can still break the cycle of "environmental" obesity by resolving to make better choices at your table.


Most people underestimate how much they eat. In a 2007 study in which diners at an Italian restaurant were filmed on a hidden camera, 31% couldn't remember afterward how much bread they ate, and 12% who were filmed eating bread said they hadn't had any at all (how's that for selective amnesia?). Giving a food diary a try--and comparing your notes to what you recall eating after, say, a week--will help you put a stop to mindless munching.


The truth is, there are high-quality calories (ones that come with nutrients and fiber, for example) and low-quality ones. This means that what you eat is just as important as how much. "Some approaches say, 'sure, have marshmallows for lunch as long as you stay under a certain calorie amount!'" says Albers. "What you eat does matter in terms of what's going on inside. A bowl of marshmallows will make your sugar spike and then drop. How you feel will drop, too--in an hour, you'll feel awful!"


Our bodies' requirements and capabilities fluctuate for all kinds of reasons, which means that the routines we set for them will need to change every now and then as well. "Understand that weight loss is a journey," Dr. Krikhely says. "What works may not always work. Your preferences may change. Life events may happen and cause you to fall off track. The weight can come back. This is normal--it is not a failure." Lasting success stems from knowing that adjustment is inevitable, and being open to it when the time comes to change.

Which of these weight loss myths have you believed up to this point? What changes will you make in your approach? Check out the list The 68 Best Ways to Lose Body Fat and More for more weight loss tips.

Picture Credit: www.lafondwinery.com - Is late night eating really that bad for your weight loss goals?

Article Credit:
Author: Michael Moody Fitness with excerpt sourced from the article "26 Weight-Loss Myths You Shouldn't Believe" on www.msn.com.
"26 Weight-Loss Myths You Shouldn't Believe" Review
Learn how to lose weight from a personal trainer in Chicago.

"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: www.Livestrong.com - 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 Livestrong.com
"4 Science-Backed Hacks to Strengthen Your Self-Control" Review
Learn how to lose weight from a personal trainer in Chicago.