Welcome to the Biggest Loser - Turlock's 12 Week Weight Loss Challenge.

Biggest Loser Turlock begins a new 12-Week Individuals Challenge on January 7, 2014! You’re making a commitment to lose weight, and we’re looking forward to supporting you along the way. Check in on our blog often for weekly results, mini - challenges, and tips to help you stay on track and lead a healthy lifestyle!

Monday, October 31, 2011

5 Worst Halloween Candies...

(and 10 best Survival Tips!)

A cocker spaniel weighs about 24 pounds. You know what else weighs 24 pounds? The heft of candy the average American gobbles down each year, a big chunk of that falling to our waistlines in the days before and after Halloween. Fun size? I don't think so—unless it's fun being size 16. These stats could very well turn you as white as a ghost:
  • Three miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups—the kind you find in office candy bowls and trick-or-treat-bags—fill your belly with more sugar than a glazed doughnut.
  • Half a pack of Skittles has more sugar than a scoop of Haagen-Dazs Cookies and Cream Ice Cream.
  • Nine Twizzlers carry as many calories as a Wendy’s Double Stack Burger.
These are some spooky treats. And Halloween is only the beginning of the eating season: Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner. If you want to see your feet come January, start by conquering the sugar fest that’s nearly upon us. Here's your plan for surviving the scariest night of the year for your waistline. (And speaking of frightful food, check out the Scariest Food Creations of 2010!)

Butterfinger Fun Sized BarWORST “FUN SIZE” CANDY BAR
Butterfinger Bar (fun size bar)
100 calories
4 g fat (2 g saturated)
10 g sugars
Again, fun for whom? Your cardiologist? By calling it “fun,” food marketers are cleverly pulling your attention away from the fact that candy bars are flab-inducing logs of concentrated fats and sugars. And Butterfinger is the worst offender—there's no quicker way to swallow 100 calories.

Eat This, Instead!
3 Musketeers (fun size bar)
63 calories
2 g fat (1.5 g saturated)
10 g sugars

SURVIVAL TIP #1: Toss the candy bowl
Alabama researchers found that people who have snacks within reach when they're watching TV consume more calories per day overall. But instead of simply relocating the bowl to another table, limit the potential for mindless munching by keeping the candy bagged and in the cupboard.

SURVIVAL TIP #2: Consume drinks before treats
Drinking 16 ounces of water before a meal fills the stomach, quells hunger, and helps you lose weight, according to a study presented at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society. Use this strategy to help tamp your candy cravings. Just don't substitute a sugary beverage for the water or this strategy will backfire: A can of soda has more sugar than two Hershey’s Take 5 bars. (Get more food shockers and instant weight loss tips by following me right here on Twitter, and check out these 20 Worst Drinks in America to learn what other beverages you should avoid.)

Brach’s Airheads (3 pieces)
140 calories
1.5 g fat (1 g saturated)
19 g sugars

Here’s the basic formula for an Airhead: Sugar and filler carbohydrates, artificial colors and flavors, and partially hydrogenated oils—a source of trans fat. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like our Eat This Instead, Dum Dums, are nutritional paragons, but they do have two noteworthy advantages over Airheads: They have no heart-wrecking oils, and they're hard candy. That means they dissolve slowly on your tongue, letting you enjoy the sweetness over time.

Eat This, Instead!
Spangler Dum Dum Pops (3 pops)
77 calories
0 g fat
105 g sugars

SURVIVAL TIP #3: Work out on Halloween morning
Lifting weights reduces levels of blood sugar by 15 percent for more than 12 hours after you’ve left the gym, according to research from Syracuse University. Why does that matter? Some of the sugar you consume will stay in your blood stream, providing energy to your cells, instead of pitching a tent in your belly. (For more strategies that will keep you thin and healthy for life, check out The Best Fitness Tips Ever!)
SURVIVAL TIP #4: Switch to dark chocolate
It won’t necessarily save you calories, but dark chocolate boasts a bevy of health benefits that milk chocolate can’t claim. Flavonoids in the cocoa help keep your arteries soft, decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. And according to new research, a compound called epicatechin might help prevent brain damage from stroke. Keep a bar on hand to nibble on any time you have a craving. Seek out those bars with at least 60% cocoa.

Twix Miniatures (3 pieces)
150 calories
8 g fat (6 g saturated)
15 g sugars

Twix has the worst saturated fat profile of any candy in your kid’s trick-or-treat bag. Think about it like this: Each one of these bite-sized candies carries 10 percent of the saturated fat you should consume in an entire day. Switch to Tootsie Rolls and you’ll cut your calories by more than half and trim your total fat intake by a whopping 81 percent.

Eat This Instead!
Tootsie Roll (3 pieces)
70 calories
1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated)
9.5 g sugars

SURVIVAL TIP #5: Chew gum
Sort through any trick-or-treat bag and you’ll undoubtedly discover a handful of Super or Dubble Bubble—those small pink cubes wrapped in old-fashioned, end-twisted candy papers. Instead of plowing through the chocolates and taffies, throw a big gob of the gum in your mouth. The chewing suppresses cravings, and each piece has only about 15 calories.

SURVIVAL TIP #6: Don’t hand out your favorite candy
If your favorite candy is Milk Duds, and you’re handing out Milk Duds all night, doesn’t it seem likely that you’re going to wind up with a pound of chocolate and caramel in your stomach by night’s end? Of course! And that’s not even factoring in how many Duds you’ll plow through as they sit on the counter in the days leading up to Halloween. Choose something less tempting. And for tips to help you stay slim the other 364 days of the year, check out our 25 Best Nutrition Secrets.

Brach's Milk Maid CaramelsWORST CHEWY CANDY
Brach’s Milk Maid Caramels (4 pieces)
160 calories
4.5 g fat (3.5 g saturated)
16 g sugars

"Milk Maid” sounds a lot like "Milk Made,” doesn't it? Very clever, Brach's! This candy contains a couple milk derivatives (whey and “lipolyzed butter fat”), but it hardly constitutes a dairy product. Plus, 90 percent of the fat is saturated. That’s bad news for your heart. If you enjoy the challenge of fighting chewy candy out of your teeth, switch over to Now and Later and save more than 100 calories per serving.

Eat This, Instead!
Now and Later (4 pieces)
53 calories
0.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
10 g sugars

SURVIVAL TIP #7: Keep the candy-calorie load to 400
The fewer calories you take in during candy season, the better off you’ll be heading into turkey season. So if you worry that you risk overindulgence, set a caloric limit and hold yourself to it. Four hundred is a good number—indulgent yet not overly destructive. That means you could eat every “Eat This Instead” on our list, and have 65 calories left for one of your personal favorites.

SURVIVAL TIP #8: Don’t skip dinner
A healthy dinner will take the edge off your candy craving, not to mention temper the blood-sugar rush that converts your body into a flab factory and puts you at risk for diabetes. What you want is a meal rich with fiber and lean protein—think chicken breast with vegetables.

Reese’s Pumpkin
170 calories
10 g fat (3 g saturated)
16 g sugars

This one should send your gimmick radar into the red zone. It’s simply an oversized peanut butter cup shaped like a pumpkin. What price novelty? Nearly two-thirds more calories than a regular Reese’s peanut butter cup! Grab two bite-size Reese's instead—you'll save more than half the calories, fat, and sugar.

Eat This, Instead!
Reese's Bite Size Peanut Butter Cups (2 pieces)
72 calories
4 g fat (3 g saturated)
6 g sugars

SURVIVAL TIP #9: Take it outside
The worst thing you can do on Halloween night, after most of the trick-or-treaters have cleared off the street, is set your candy bowl by the door where you can grab a handful every day on your way out. Noshing 300 extra candy calories a day will add a pound of flab to your frame in less than two weeks. Instead, set the bowl on the porch before you go to bed. The leftover candy will be gone by morning, guaranteed.

SURVIVAL TIP #10: Remember: Halloween is a one-day event
A study in the journal of Nature Neuroscience found that eating junk food doesn’t just satisfy cravings—it creates them. That’s right; junk food is addictive. Limit your sugar splurging to October 31. If you start a week early, you’re going to have a serious candy habit to break after Halloween. You might find it to be frightfully difficult.
Bonus Tip! The NEW edition of Eat This, Not That!, completely updated for 2011, is on sale now! Pick up your copy today, and you could lose 10, 20, or even 30 pounds without giving up the foods you love.

By David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding for Men's Health

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No Weigh-IN on Halloween!

We will not have a weigh-in next Monday, 10/31 because of Halloween!
Our next weigh-in will be Monday, November 7th.

Don't Let Halloween Do Your Diet In!

For many people, the giant plastic pumpkin filled with tempting treats is what's most frightening about Halloween. Sure, the goodies are supposed to be for the trick-or-treaters, but many of us find ourselves dipping into the candy bowl to satisfy our sweet tooth. This year, instead of being haunted by this diet derailer, use my simple strategies to conquer candy cravings.

Buy late. Avoid stocking up on Halloween candy ahead of time, even if it's on sale. Giant bags of sweets sitting on your table or in your cabinet several days or even weeks before the big day is way too tempting. Head to the store next week, or even the day before, and buy only as much as you think you'll need.

Be picky. When shopping for Halloween candy, choose sweets you don't like. If you can't fight your love of chocolate, opt for Skittles or Sour Patch Kids instead of M&Ms and Hershey bars. That way, even if they're lying around, you're not tempted to dig in.

Give out other goodies.
The neighborhood kid may not agree, but you don't have to give out candy on Halloween. Healthier treats, like packaged pretzels or dried fruit, are good alternatives. You can even opt for non-food goodies, such as pencils or stickers.

Go trick-or-treating. Head outside with your kids for a walk around the neighborhood. You'll burn off some calories and get a break from the candy bowl.

Lighten your load. If you notice you have a lot of candy left in your bowl towards the end of the night, start giving out more generous portions to the trick-or-treaters. Your ultimate goal is to end the day with an empty bowl -- without you having to eat any of it!

Eat before you go out. If you're heading to a Halloween party, be sure to have a healthy meal or snack beforehand. A piece of fruit and part-skim string cheese, or even peanut butter and jelly on whole-wheat bread, are both good choices. That way, you'll keep your appetite in check, which will make it less likely that you'll give into the treats at the party.

Share leftovers. If you do have any candy left over afterward, bring it into work and share with co-workers.

Indulge wisely. It's OK to allow yourself to enjoy a little candy -- just be sure you do so carefully. For instance, pay attention to portion sizes. Mini-sized candies can be a good choice as long as you can cut yourself off after one or two. If not, you might want to opt for hard candies or lollipops because they're lower in calories and they last longer.

Exercise physiologist and certified personal trainer Bob Greene has helped millions of people slim down, most recently with his online program TheBestLife.com. The best-selling author shares the sure-fire strategies for losing weight, protecting your health and living your best life.

Friday, October 21, 2011

How Can I Lose My Belly Fat?

Question: What can I do to lose weight in my stomach? I've been doing lots of crunches but they don't seem to help.

Expert Answer:
There is no way to target weight loss to a specific area of the body because your body decides where it wants to put on weight and where it wants to take it off. The midsection is a common "problem" area for many people.

The best way to lose fat is through cardiovascular exercise. It is important to do a variety of abdominal exercises (including crunches) to keep your core strong, but until that excess fat is gone, you will not see the muscle definition. So if you're not doing cardio, crunches are not going to help get the 6-pack you've been hoping for. Regular cardio exercise at a level that's challenging for you is your best bet.

Exercise Extra: "Apple" shapes (fat storage around the belly) have been shown to have a higher risk of certain cardiovascular diseases, whereas storing fat in your lower half, known as a "Pear" shape, is actually a healthier site for fat accumulation.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Week 5 results are up and boy oh boy, look at those top spots! Amazing!
If you are not in the top 10, now is the time to really push yourself. Don't throw in the towel! You still have 5 weeks to make a BIG difference! Look what the folks in the top 10 spots did in 5 weeks! You can do that too!

The winners of our week 4 mini challenge were:
Jaime Heilman
Peter Perez

Kathy Guinnane
Donna Payne
They each won a Biggest Loser Food Journal for tracking what they ate at least 3 days last week by either writing it down or logging it in an app on their phones or computers!

There are lots of prizes waiting for winners next week.... will you be a winner? Lose 2 lbs this week and you have a good chance!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Case for Brisk Walking

For those who haven't exercised regularly in years, certain exercise programs require more than they can wrap their minds or their physical ability around.  A walking program can be an easy way to get back moving.  Walking is, in fact, America’s most popular exercise. And if the intention is to keep your weight in check, research shows you’d better pick up the pace.  Brisk walking continues to receive accolades for its health benefits as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, “brisk walking has been shown to reduce body fat, lower blood pressure, and reduce risks of bone fracture.”  A Mayo Clinic professor, Michael Joyner, MD says, “I personally think that brisk walking is far and away the single best exercise.”

What’s Brisk?
A study by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health found brisk walking was associated with preventing weight gain and maintaining weight loss whereas slow walking was not.  The difference between the two lies with you.  While the CDC reports brisk walking to be ≥ 3.5 mph, your level of exertion determines if brisk walking is the moderate intensity activity it is intended to be.  Ideally a brisk walk means you are between 50 and 70% of your maximum heart rate (MHR).  If you don’t know your MHR, use the talk test: you should be breathing harder than usual and be able to speak in long sentences, but not able to sing. Brisk walking isn’t just a faster leisurely walk; it requires proper posture and total body effort, complete with relaxed shoulders, eyes looking forward, and hands relaxed. As one arm moves forward, the other moves back, while alternating with each step.    

How much is enough?
The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week and two or more days of muscle strengthening activities.  So if you’re just starting out, brisk walking can have far-reaching benefits for your overall health. A review of a number of studies by Timothy Church, MD showed that, in general, a sedentary person’s risk of dying prematurely fell by almost 20% if they began brisk walking for 30 minutes five times a week. Another study by the CDC found diabetics who engaged in brisk walking three to four hours a week, reduced their risk of dying from any cause by 54%. On the weight loss tip, the amount of brisk walking you need hinges on how many calories you want to burn. Generally speaking, brisk walking doesn’t burn a lot of calories in comparison to other more vigorous exercise. For example, a 150-lb person would only burn approximately 258 calories per hour walking at 3.5 mph.  But don’t dismay, if you are sedentary, it is literally a great first step to exercising regularly.

Improved Endurance

Brisk walking also improves endurance, which can prepare you for more intense activity down the road. Hiroshi Nose, MD, PhD, a professor of sports medical sciences at Shinshu University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan, enrolled thousands of older Japanese citizens in an innovative, five-month-long program of brisk, interval-style walking.  The program incorporated three minutes of fast walking, then three minutes of slower walking, repeated ten times. Dr. Nose reports, “Physical fitness — maximal aerobic power and thigh muscle strength — increased by about 20%, which is sure to make you feel about 10 years younger than before training.” What’s more, symptoms of chronic diseases including hypertension, hyperglycemia, and obesity also decreased by about 20% after the study.

To get started try this 12-week walking program from the Harvard Medical School.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Breaking the Cycle of Gaining and Losing

Are you on the third, fourth or fifth time losing a significant amount of weight? Unfortunately this is a reality for far too many people. You may feel like you have the know-how to lose the weight, but maintaining has continued to be a struggle. Before you get to your goal weight yet again, consider the battle of the mind that, if won, will keep the weight off for good. This can be the last time you throw the dieting yo-yo.

Go Gradual

If you lost more than one or two pounds a week for months at a time, the behavioral changes you made in diet and exercise may have been too extreme to maintain a year later. Instead, gradually change your eating and physical activity habits. Generally speaking that means a daily caloric deficit of 500 to 1000 calories. You can do this by lowering the food you consume by 250 to 500 calories and burning the other half through exercise. Either way, go slow. According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, the initial target level for weight loss should be 10% for overweight and obesity. This practical approach allows for a tolerable behavioral change that can reduce the severity of obesity-related health risks. After you maintain the initial 10% weight loss for 6 months you can reassess what it will take to lose more weight.

Avoid Your Triggers

Yale University researchers recently found that food can be just as addictive as drugs. Whether it’s a certain restaurant or a dinner party, find out what’s on the menu and determine what you will or will not have before you go. Additionally, control your exposure to trigger foods by planning meals in advance. Last, avoid environments that trigger familiar overeating or overindulgent food choices. At least initially, wean yourself from purchases of unhealthy foods from the grocery store. Having daily access to multiple servings of your favorite treat is simply too hard to resist.

Protect Your Emotions
A study published in Obesity found that people who eat in response to emotions are more likely to regain the weight they lose and a related study found emotional eaters don’t lose as much weight as those who don’t use food to cope. To combat emotional eating, think about your feelings before every meal. When you are stressed, find ways to face negative thoughts and feelings head on. Emotional eating is a distraction and may comfort you short term, but it will not change the problem. Instead displace your energy toward coping with the resulting stress. Talk to someone or write down your feelings, and find out if there are ways to change stressors in your life. Self-soothe with relaxation techniques, meditation, or coping strategies that stimulate sight, sound, smell, and touch. Leave taste to a variety of healthy foods and try to regulate your mood before eating.

Reflection and Reward

Reward your weight loss, but leave food off the list. The no food gifts policy will allow you to focus on rewards that satisfy your overall well-being, not just your stomach. Reflect on old habits and be aware these habits are stronger than your new habits. By thinking through where old habits originated you can prepare a defense against reverting back to them. Think about the cause and effect of your healthier habits and create positive self-talk to stave off temptation to go backwards. When you have a misstep, recalibrate your goals, reflect on consequences and move forward.

By carolyn_r on Oct 13, 2011 10:00 AM in Dieting & You

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Week 4 results

Well, well, well, it's beginning to get tough, isn't it?
This past week showed a mixed bag of success. Some did great, others struggled and some gained.
Whatever you faced this week, DO NOT throw in the towel. When you started this challenge a month ago, you said to yourself,  "This time is going to be different, this time I'm going to lose the weight." The only thing between you and your goal is you. If you have to, recommit yourself  RIGHT NOW! It's not the 1st bad week you've ever had and it wont be the last....but in between, there are lots of moments of recommtting yourself. You CAN DO THIS! Yes, it is hard! But no battle worth fighting was ever easy.

The 2 winners for our challenge last week were the 2 folks (one male, one female) who increased their % of weight-loss the most from the week before. Our winners are:

NAMElw %tw%difference
Jenkins, Emmanuel-0.1%-2.5%-2.4%
Odell, Carol-1.0%-2.9%-1.9%

You each have won a Biggest Loser Food Journal!

Look to the left here on the blog to see this weeks challenge! We'll have 5 winners! It could be you!

The Importance of Keeping a Food Journal


You may have tried diet after diet trying to rid yourself of those unwanted pounds. It can become frustrating and overwhelming when long-term weight loss fails. One tool that is often put aside in weight loss efforts is keeping a food journal. A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests it may be the key to dieting success. The study concluded that keeping a food journal can double a person's weight loss.

Account for What You Eat

One of the main benefits of keeping a food journal is it makes you accountable for everything you eat. You may be enjoying three healthy meals a day, but all the little extras in between can start to add up. Maybe you are sneaking a piece of candy or two from the office candy dish, or finishing your kid's last few french fries. Just an extra 200 calories a day can add up to a weight gain of 20 lbs. in a year.

Identify Problem Times

Recording what and when you eat food also helps you determine when you're consuming too many calories. A study from the Washington University in St. Louis found that dieters seemed to slow weight loss on Saturdays. Life can be full of social events that take you to places that don't cater to your diet guidelines. Determining these problems will make you more aware of them, but also allow you to create a plan that allows you to stay on your diet next time.

Control Portions

One of the major components of weight management is portion control. A study done by Cornell University found that the bigger your meals are the more you will underestimate how much you ate. If you write down what you eat and how much of it, you will get a more accurate idea of your calorie intake. This could be an eye-opening activity that will help you reduce the size of your meals.

Treat Yourself

A food journal will help you account for calories, preventing you from overeating. However, it can also show you when you can afford to treat yourself. After a while of utilizing this tool, you will learn to control portions and identify trouble areas, thus creating better eating habits and self-control. All your hard work will pay off when you realize you can afford to indulge in chocolate and not feel guilty about it.

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/382649-importance-of-keeping-a-food-diary/#ixzz1aWiWKCDB

How to Keep a Food Diary for Weight Loss


It may seem a little tedious to write down everything that you eat, but it can be a very useful tool when it comes to weight loss. Every calorie and every pound counts--and adds up--so keeping a log of everything that you eat can help prevent unwanted pounds. It can also help you pinpoint your problem areas--what's wrecking your diet and preventing your weight loss.

Step 1

Log what you eat. Every meal, snack and beverage should be logged in your diary. You can pack on calories and pounds without sitting down to a real meal--the handful of candy here, the chocolate mocha with whipped cream and sprinkles there. Don't leave anything out of your food diary for the most accurate picture of what you're consuming each day.

Step 2

Record how much you ate. In addition to what you ate, you need to accurately record your portions. Record the weight or measurement of your food--for instance, a 4-ounce piece of chicken, ½ cup of rice, 2 tablespoons of salad dressing or 1 cup of popcorn. If it's easier to record quantity, write it that way--one apple or banana.

Step 3

Don't forget additives and flavorings. Don't just write that you had vegetables if you sautéed them in oil--make sure you count the oil, marinade or other seasonings that you use to prepare your food. Don't forget condiments (mayonnaise or ketchup) and salad dressing.

Step 4

Track the time and place. To help you figure out where you eat most and at what time of day you're most likely to splurge, record these details about your snacking habits. Next to what you ate, jot down where you were when you ate it, what time it was, and if you were alone or with friends. You should also note what you were doing at the time, like working or watching a movie. This can help you determine patterns in your eating habits, and figure out ways to thwart bad habits.

Step 5

Examine your thoughts. Consider how you felt and what you were thinking when you were eating, and record a word or short phrase describing your mood and thoughts. Maybe you tend to eat when you feel lonely, anxious or depressed. If you can identify what triggers you to eat, you can find healthier ways of coping with those emotions that spare calories and pounds.

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/31555-keep-diary-weight-loss/#ixzz1aWhHPnBP

Saturday, October 8, 2011

1 Step Back, 2 Steps Forward

Don't Let a Setback Stop You from Pushing Ahead

"Fall seven times, get up eight." - Japanese Proverb
"Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish." - John Quincy Adams
"The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials." - Chinese Proverb
"Never give in. Never. Never. Never. Never." - Winston Churchill
"Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance." - Samuel Johnson

These quotes all say the same thing. No matter how many obstacles you run into, what matters is that you’re able to overcome each of them, one at a time.

"Two steps forward, one step back" is usually a negative term to describe someone who is having trouble making progress. But switched around, "1 Step Back, 2 Steps Forward" means that instead of grousing or feeling guilty about a misstep, you can still come out ahead if you put your head down and push forward.

Steps back can take many forms: a family vacation, breaks in your routine, personal tragedies, injuries, or that lost weekend in front of the tube. A big mistake people make when trying to get healthier is that when they fall off a bit or something happens, they think they "have to start over". Wrong! When missteps do happen, a better strategy is to simply take two steps forward. You’re still ahead of where you were before, far beyond the starting line.

In tennis, losing one point isn’t the end of the world. It happens to the best of them. In fact, if you can consistently win a few more points that you lose, you may end up in the hall of fame. With healthy eating and exercising, as long as you’re consistently out-stepping your steps back, you’re ahead of the game. If you expect perfection (and many of us do), you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and guilt.

Guilt can be debilitating to your healthy habits. When you mess up (or even when things are messed up for you), it’s natural to feel guilty. At that point, you have a choice: to let that guilt plummet you into a cycle that could spit you out worse off than before, or to accept the step back and say "where do I go from here?"

Of course, consistent success is still something to strive for. You don’t want to roller-coaster up and down. That’s an "old" habit, remember? And the 1Step/2Step strategy doesn’t lessen the need to do your best. You should still work hard to keep those steps back from happening. But it helps to be prepared with a plan and a positive attitude for when they do happen.

Many times, this means a rededication, a refocusing, and a recommitment. You might want to look at your program and see why it’s allowing those landmines to stick around. Use it as a learning process. Ask how you can keep that misstep from happening again. 
  • Take a walk in the woods to clear your head and regroup.
  • Have a personal "bounce back" motto that will re-energize you. Put it everywhere.
  • Take a break if you think you’re trying too hard.
  • Return to the basics. Are you making it too complicated and tough on yourself?
  • Plan ahead for irregularities in your schedule, call ahead to healthy restaurants, pack healthy snacks.
  • Stay aware of what you’re doing. One meal mess up can turn into a one day mess up, a one week mess up if you’re not careful.
  • Remind yourself of your success so far when you need a boost.
Unlike people who run 10 miles today because they should have run two yesterday, "2 Steps Forward" doesn’t necessarily mean doing a lot more to make up for a blunder. Just make a commitment to do things as right as possible as much as you can.

Mike Kramer, SPARKPEOPLE Staff Writer

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Week 3 Update

We are 3 weeks into this 10-week challenge and we've already lost over 600lbs friends! That is great news!

If you took our mini-challenge on Monday at weigh-in, you realized just how good a workout simply standing and balancing on one foot is! This is a great exercise to do during commercial breaks while you are watching your favorite shows each night. The average commercial break is 2 minutes, 20 seconds. Can you stand and balance on one foot until your show comes back on? Try it!

And now be amazed at how long our mini-challenge winner stood balanced.... a Whopping 12 minutes 10 seconds! And she is MICHELLE KUNTZ! And we pullled 2 additional winners from everyone who participated and they are Becky Russell and Jaime Heilman! All 3 have won their own copy of Bob Harpers Ripped Core workout! Congratulations!

Don't forget to check the column to the left to find out how to participate in Week 4's mini challenge!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Everything You Wanted to Know about CALORIES

You know by now that both eating and activity affect your weight. Eating provides your body with the energy it needs, while physical activity burns off calories. So the key to successful weight loss is finding the right ways to balance the calories you take in with the calories you put out. It all sounds so simple – and it really is.
But there’s actually a lot to know. How to track calories in food. How calories are used and stored as fat. What is starvation mode? Can you cut calories too far? What to do about plateaus? This simple, little thing called a calorie can actually seem pretty complicated. Read on to help sort through the mystery.

The Confusing Calorie. The calorie is a measure of energy available to the body. When you eat food, the number of calories it contains is actually the amount of energy units the food provides the body. The calorie is also the measure of energy that your body uses. Your body uses calories for many functions, such as breathing, pumping blood, resting, sitting, working, and exercising. So the calorie is used to measure both the amount of energy contained in foods, as well as the amount of energy your body uses.

The difference between the two is the Calorie Equation. When you eat more calories than you use, the rest is stored as fat and you gain weight. To lose weight, you simply need to use more calories than you eat so your body is free to call upon other energy sources – such as stored fat.

Where Do Calories Come From? There are six classes of nutrients: carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water. Of these six classes of nutrients, only 3 provide calories or energy for the body: carbohydrate, protein and fat:
  • 1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
  • 1 gram of protein = 4 calories
  • 1 gram of fat = 9 calories
Calories are also found in alcohol. Alcohol is not a nutrient because it cannot be used in the body to promote growth, maintenance, or repair. It is a toxin that is broken down as an energy source and can be converted into fat.
  • 1 gram of alcohol = 7 calories

How are Calories Used and Stored? The function of each calorie-providing nutrient is different, but the end result of excessive intake is the same…FAT STORAGE.

Carbohydrate is broken down into glucose for immediate energy needs; the surplus is stored as glycogen for long-term energy needs and brain function. However, after the glycogen stores are filled, the excess carbohydrate is stored as FAT.

The nutrient Fat is initially broken down and used for its primary functions, such as providing cell structure. However, any excess fat fragments will be reassembled and stored in the FAT cells.

Protein will also encounter the same fate. Once protein has met immediate energy needs and provided the body with other building and repairing functions, the excess will be converted into FAT and stored away.

All foods supply energy or calories. However, some provide more calories than others. No single food or class of food is “fattening” by itself. When the calories provided in food are not needed by the body, the excess is stored in the body in the form of fat, no matter what food the calories came from. And while the storage of most cells is limited, fat tissue is able to store an unending amount of fat.

How Many Calories Do I Need? Your energy needs take precedence over all other body functions. For an adult, there are three factors that determine your total energy requirements:
  • Basal Energy Requirement. This is the minimum amount of energy needed by the body at rest in the fasting state. It includes basic body functions such as respiration, cellular metabolism, circulation, gland activity, and body temperature control. It is affected by such things as age, gender, pregnancy, body composition, nutritional status, sleep, climate, and fever.
  • Physical Activity. The amount of calories needed for physical activity depends on the type of activity or work, the intensity and the duration. To learn calorie levels for different activities, check out the Calorie Lookup tool in the Fitness Resource Center, or print the Calories Burned Chart from the Printable Resources page.
  • Specific Dynamic Action of Food. This is the amount of calories needed to manage food intake and includes digestion, absorption, and metabolism of food.

Balancing the calories you take in with those you put out is the safest, healthiest way to control your weight – for the next two weeks, or the next 20 years. It takes about 3500 calories to make one pound of fat. So to lose one pound, you can:
    a) Burn 3500 excess calories (if you have a few hours to kill) b) Eat 3500 fewer calories (starvation diet, anyone?) c) A combination of exercise and diet (the best option)
For example, to lose one pound in a week, you could simple create a calorie deficit of 500 per day (7x500 = 3500). That could be as simple as cutting out one donut (280 calories) and jogging for 25 minutes (240 calories) each day.

Paying attention to both sides of the Equation actually makes it easier to lose weight than relying on one or the other, and is much easier on your body. 

Starvation Mode. There is a common misperception that to lose weight, the lower the calories, the better. Ironically, the key may be eating more calories. You can actually hurt your body's ability to lose weight by going too low. Here's why. The body has a protective mechanism. When calories drop too low (we recommend a minimum of 1,200 for women and 1,500 for men) the body reacts as if it is starving and tries to conserve energy. It will lower your metabolism, conserve calories and fat, and you will not burn calories as quickly. This results in a slower weight loss or even no weight loss. This is what's know as "Starvation Mode."

When calorie intake falls below 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day, it is also extremely difficult to follow a balanced diet and obtain all the nutrients that are needed by the body to stay strong and energetic and prevent disease. These very low calorie intakes can also lead to other health problems such as eating disorders, gout, gallstones, and heart complications. For these reasons, we strongly suggests not going below 1,200 calories daily for women and 1,500 calories daily for men.

Muscle Power. Fat tissue lowers the rate at which one burns calories, because fat tissue requires less oxygen and is very inactive. On the other hand, muscle is a more physically and metabolically active tissue. It therefore burns more calories than fat. Through exercise, especially strength and resistance exercise, you can decrease the amount of fat in your body and increase the amount of muscle. This will then help you burn more calories each and every day, even when you’re not exercising.

Muscle also weighs more than fat. Near the beginning of your program, you may gain some weight after strength exercising. This is perfectly normal. As the composition of your body changes from fat to muscle, the muscle will help burn off that remaining fat at a faster rate, uncovering your lean, fit muscles.

On The Dreaded Plateau? Hitting a plateau during a weight loss program is normal (though it can still be frustrating). Your body requires fewer calories to function as your weight decreases. It needs time to adjust to all the healthy changes that are occurring due to the weight loss. So continuing to follow the same eating and exercise patterns won’t work forever.

Everyone’s body will adjust differently. To jump-start your metabolism and break out of the plateau, you may need to select a different form of exercise to stimulate other muscle groups to become more active. Do not become discouraged; this may take several weeks or months. Stay focused on all the positive things you have accomplished. Your goal during plateaus is to try not to gain any pounds back. Get energized with a brisk walk. Add on a little jogging or running. Try a new piece of equipment. Test out a strength training routine. Try a new activity like dancing, rollerblading, or cross-country skiing. Start taking the stairs at home and work.