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6 Common Weight-Loss Challenges and How to Solve Them


The latest research is clear: There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss. Who you are is the greatest variable if you’re trying to shed pounds, and there are innumerable factors that will make it easier or harder for you — poor diet, lack of exercise, genetics, medications and other lifestyle and environmental factors can all play a role.

Specific physiological circumstances, however, inflate the importance of certain approaches to weight loss. For that reason, focusing your efforts on what will give you the most bang for your buck is key. As with most things, once you get some traction and the pounds begin to fall off, taking on additional strategies can lead to additional weight loss. Here’s a quick guide on weight-loss strategies to fit some common life challenges — perhaps at least one of these applies to you.

The Challenge: People gain weight for different reasons as they age. Chief among them is a decline in physical activity. When you move less, a greater number of calories get stored in the body as fat, instead of getting converted into energy to fuel activity. What’s more, we naturally lose muscle mass as we age — upwards of 3-5% after age 30 if you’re inactive — which, in turn, leads to a slower metabolism.

The Solution: Strength training can help put the brakes on the loss of muscle mass, as well as build new muscle. Since muscle cells are far more metabolically active than fat cells, they burn more calories. As you increase your muscle mass, you also boost your metabolism.

Be sure to warm up before training, and start slow to build strength without injuring yourself. Begin with two sessions a week of 10 reps of 8–10 different exercises for the upper and lower body and the core. Utilize your own body weight for things like pushups and pullups and 5- to 10-pound dumbbells for other exercises. You should feel like you can’t do more than an extra rep or two at the end of each exercise — if you can, it’s time to increase the weight.

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7 Super Greens and How to Cook Them

Dark, leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses. “They’re really high in a lot of nutrients that are most essential for health,” certified nutritionist and cookbook author Gena Hamshaw says. “You’re getting a lot of nutritional bang for your buck.”

But so many of us don’t eat nearly enough of these amazing veggies. “People think if they’re eating a lot of salad, they’re maximizing their leafy green intake, but cooking them is far more nutrient-dense than a big old salad of arugula or baby spinach,” Hamshaw says. Plus, many of us fall into a spinach or kale rut — we aren’t sure what to do with collard greens or even know that we can eat beet greens.

Reinvigorate your eating plan and boost your health with these seven dark leafy greens, then use our cooking tips to help them taste their absolute best. Aim for at least 1 serving daily, which is 1 cup cooked or 2 cups raw.

Some have proclaimed kale the king (while others have declared it a passing fad), and it’s likely because it’s high in many of the nutrients found in all leafy greens, including protein, calcium, iron and vitamins A and K. It’s also the one of the best leafy greens for lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants key for eye health.

Tip: It may sound odd to massage a vegetable, but in this case, it helps break down kale’s tough fibers. Massage yours with lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil, then serve it topped with other vegetables, beans and avocado, suggests Sharon Palmer, RDN, author of “Plant-Powered for Life.”

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Are You Burning as Many Calories as You Think?

Every morning you crush your treadmill session and revel in the total number of calories burned glowing on the screen. Sorry to damper your post-workout spirits, but that number is probably incorrect.

POTENTIAL CAUSES OF INACCURATE READINGS

“Machines in gyms aren’t very accurate when it comes to calories burned, distance and other such metrics — they’re rough estimates at best,” says Brandon Mentore, a strength and conditioning coach from Philadelphia. “If two people weigh 200 pounds, but one is 5’3” and the other 6’1”, the amount of calories burned and the demand is vastly different.” This holds true even if the cardio equipment accounts for age and body weight.

Everyone has different metabolic rates as well. Mentore explains that athletes, for example, generally have a more efficient metabolisms that will actually burn fewer calories for the same effort and duration as someone with an average level of fitness.

The amount of calories you burn also depends on your lean tissue versus fat mass. “The leaner you are, the higher your metabolic rate and burn will be for the same effort and duration relative to someone who is less lean,” says Mentore.

In addition, the inaccuracy of caloric count could be related to the machine itself. Its age, calibration, elevation (for example, certain treadmill brands on a 0% grade are still not totally flat) and general maintenance upkeep all can keep it from displaying a more proper reading.

For those looking to lose or gain weight, these incorrect counts make it more challenging to try to gauge your daily caloric output. Most of us guess, but the odds of guessing correctly are slim to none.

THE SOLUTION? FITNESS WEARABLES

Wearables employ accelerometer and altimeter technology to detect your steps throughout a day — whether you are working out, or you’re simply walking from your car to work. Some trackers can even detect power output, making for super accurate results of your activity level.

When it comes to calorie counting, wearable fitness gear has given the user the ability to track calories instantly, rather than rely on memory, providing better results and more reliable data,” says Junior Leoso, a personal trainer from San Diego. “It’s provided an entirely different aspect to training, as it’s given data to a world of people who typically only care about the end result.”

Wearables also come with other benefits to entice you to spike your movement levels. “[They] can give you reminders when you haven’t been active in a while, as well as keep track of your data, enabling you to do weekly and monthly outlooks on calories burned and overall activity level,” says Mentore.

These devices aren’t limited to a younger, more technologically-savvy generation either. According to Rock Health, the first venture fund dedicated to digital health, no demographic variables had any significant effect on digital health. Seniors and millennials are equally as likely to use wearables.

The market for this technology is astoundingly healthy. Statistica, a statistics portal for market data, says wearables are expected to reach a value of $ 19 billion in 2018, more than 10 times its value in 2013. In addition, 27% of consumers expect to purchase a wearable fitness device within the next 12 months (2016 data).

The behavior toward fitness technology has shifted. It’s no longer viewed as a passing trend, but something that’s here to stay. It’s empowered people to improve their lifestyle behaviors in unparalleled fashion — from walking more to monitoring sleep to lowering heart rates. The impactful data created by wearables appears to motivate people to take charge and produce positive changes, making them worth their cost.

We are lucky to live in an age when technology can help solve challenges. Expect wearable fitness to continue to make individuals healthier for decades to come.

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What 1,500 Calories Look Like [INFOGRAPHIC]

Trying to clean up your diet and cut calories? A budget of 1,500 calories a day can be pretty satisfying when you fill up on nutrient-rich foods like produce, lean proteins, healthy fats and whole grains. Here’s a sample menu with some of our users’ favorite MyFitnessPal recipes to show you just how delicious and satiating 1,500 calories can be.

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