Getting and Staying Motivated


Motivation plays such a crucial role when trying to accomplish a goal. The goal to be physically fit and live a healthier lifestyle should be a no-brainer. However, why is it so difficult for so many of us to accomplish such obvious goals? Shouldn’t wanting to be healthier be enough motivation to put that donut down and go to the gym? Many of us have the intention of becoming healthier and being physically fit, but we lack the drive and motivation to do so. Below are helpful tips to help keep you motivated.  

Find Good Reasons: Everything you’ve enjoyed repeatedly doing in your life is because there is good reason to. There are thousands of reasons why it’s good to be physically fit and eat healthy, but you’ll be more motivated to do so if you find reasons that are specific to you. Perhaps you want to be in better shape so you can fit in your clothes better, or you want to be able be more active with your family or children. Maybe you’re tired of feeling lethargic every day, or you want to save money on food and health bills. Whatever the reason, find one that will make you want to stick to your goal of living a healthier lifestyle and constantly remind yourself of the goal you’ve made.

Make It Fun: Attitude plays a key role in motivation. You won’t want to keep repeating something you don’t enjoy or aren’t having fun doing. One way to keep yourself motivated and continuing to get in shape is to find activities you enjoy doing that will also help you reach your goals. For many, going to the gym everyday and doing the same workout can feel very boring. It may feel very consistent but acts like a chore that you must cross off your list every day. Try changing up your workout routine constantly so it doesn’t feel like you are doing the same thing every time you go to the gym. You should also bring an mp3 player with songs that can keep you pumped and excited through your entire routine. Audio books also work great as they can make working out feel less strenuous and keep you relaxed.

As far as food goes, eating healthy doesn’t have to mean eating a plain bowl of salad or an unseasoned, boiled, skinless chicken every day. There are many people who have no problem doing this as they have trained their mind to view food as fuel and sustenance rather than something you need to enjoy. However, for the rest of us, meals play a big part of our mood every day. We constantly look forward to what we are going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and some of us can’t wait to try out that new restaurant down the street or try a new recipe from a cookbook. Like a workout routine, change up your diet constantly. Try healthy recipes and ingredients you’ve never heard of or make healthier versions of meals you enjoy.

Workout With Other People: Whether it’s a personal trainer, a friend, or a loved one, working out with someone else is always a great motivational tool. It makes you feel less alone on your journey because there is someone there who can sympathize with what you are going through or provide encouragement. They can encourage you to push for that extra repetition or keep you accountable and make sure you don’t go to McDonald’s or vice-versa. However, when finding a partner to work out with, make sure they are reliable and just as driven as you are. Sometimes people initially find a friend to work out with but they end up being flakes or less driven. They act like the devil on your shoulder, encouraging you to skip out on a workout or telling you it’s okay to have that milk-shake with extra toppings.

Group activities are also great ways to work out with other people. Most gyms have specialized classes such a boot camps, kickboxing, yoga, etc. You can also participate in intramural sports such as community based baseball, volleyball, and basketball. Whatever activity that keeps you happy, entertained, and healthy is always the best workout.

Reward Yourself: Positive reinforcement is always an effective way to get someone to feel good about what they are doing and encourage them to continue to repeat it. Most people tend to use food as a tool for positive reinforcement, such as “cheat meals” or “cheat snacks.” Perhaps after a long week of focus and dedication, you can treat yourself to a favorite meal or dessert. For example, actor and professional wrestler Dwayne Johnson, also known as “The Rock,” likes to eat cheese pizzas, pancakes, and brownies after “150 consecutive days of eating clean” and working hard. However, if you use food as a form of positive reinforcement, do so sparingly as sometimes it can develop into a habit. Before you know it, you’ll feel like you deserve to eat a scoop of ice cream every time you had a workout.

Alternative forms of positive reinforcement that don’t include food could be shopping or taking a vacation. It’s always a good feeling to try on clothes you would never thought you’d be able to fit into and really get a sense of the progress you are making.

Track Your Progress: As mentioned above, seeing yourself getting in better shape and progressing is a great motivational tool. It shows that all the hard work you are doing is paying off and well worth the effort to keep continuing what you are doing. The simplest way to track your progress would be go on the scale every day. However, this may not be the most effective form of measurement as weight can constantly fluctuate and scales cannot accurately show you how much weight being gained or lost is body fat. A lot of the times the fluctuation shown on the scale is due to water weight, which is easily changeable by how much you are sweating and hydrating yourself.

Effective ways of tracking progress and making sure you are going in the right direction is to take measurements and track body fat percentage. There are very simple and accurate methods of recording this data that you can do at home. However, you can always have it professionally done at most gyms or health clinics. Another method of tracking your progress is to create a photo journal and take a picture of yourself as frequently as you can. 

Living a healthy lifestyle and getting in shape seems like such an obvious choice when compared to the alternative, but it is very difficult for most people to make that jump because there are so many elements in our lives that make it difficult to do so. So many things can demotivate us from taking the better path because it may feel easier to eat whatever we want, however much we want, and exercise as little as we want. Stress and a busy schedule are also huge factors in our daily lives that makes us not want to get our work outs in or cook a healthy meal. Try using the tips mentioned above to make your goals to be healthy and fit more apparent in your every day. Don’t lose track of what you really want in life!

The High Intensity Rest

yawn.jpgGetting a good, restful, and sound sleep is just as important as any workout you do when trying to lose weight and become healthy. To get the best results from any workout, you also need time for your body to recover. During sleep, your pituitary glands produce more growth hormones than when you are awake. The main function of growth hormones is to stimulate cell reproduction, growth, and regeneration. This is significantly more important when you are living an active lifestyle, or are exercising, because the growth hormones help in the aid of muscle growth and repair. Consequently, stronger and bigger muscles will mean a faster metabolism, and we can always use a faster metabolism when we’re trying to lose weight.

Besides growth hormones, your body also balances two other important hormones that affect weight loss while you sleep. These hormones are called Leptin and Ghrelin, and they play a pivotal role in stimulating or suppressing your appetite when you are awake. Leptin is produced by your body’s fat cells and is responsible for curbing your appetite. Ghrelin is produced by your stomach and is responsible for stimulating your appetite. When you are sleep-deprived, your body produces less Leptin and more Ghrelin, resulting in an increase in appetite. This hormonal imbalance can suggest why you may sometimes have the urge to want to eat before going to sleep, especially when it’s past your usual bedtime. When your body gets enough sleep, more Leptin is produced to counter-balance Ghrelin production. This results in feeling more satiated throughout the day.

Getting enough sleep also lowers your cortisol levels in your blood. Cortisol functions by breaking down protein in your body and converting it into glucose. When you have too much glucose in your body, usually obtained through eating carbohydrates and foods with sugar, the glucose will get stored as fat. Moreover, cortisol affects your body’s ability to build muscle mass, which consequently has an affect your body’s metabolism. If you’re trying to lose weight, you want to make sure the cortisol levels in your blood are low by getting enough sleep.

According to the National Institute of Health, the average American adult gets seven hours of sleep per night. However, a study published in the Journal of Annals of Internal Medicine states that sleeping less than 8 and a half hours a night may hamper your body’s ability to lose fat. Some common symptoms of sleep deprivation are: relying on an alarm clock to wake up each morning, feel sleepy during low-energy activities such as meetings, or feeling the need to take naps or sleep in. Besides weight gain, poor sleep quality has also been linked to chronic pain, Fibromyalgia, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Here are a few basic tips to help you get a better sleep (Pete Cerqua, The High Intensity Fitness Revolution):

1. Reduce Caffeine Intake – Try cutting down to only one cup of caffeine a day (whether it’s a sugarless energy drink, coffee, or tea) and avoid consuming any caffeine past noon.

2. Don’t Eat Chocolate at Night – Though dark chocolate (in moderation) is a healthy snack, chocolate contains caffeine in it and should be especially avoided when it’s nearing bedtime.

3. Avoid an “Energy Boost” After 8:00 P.M. – Sugar or sugary foods will provide your body with an energy boost, which can sometimes by helpful before a workout. However, they should be avoided, especially before bed.

4. Abstain From Mental and Physical Stimulation – When you are getting ready for bed, make sure you close all electronics (including television, computer, laptop, iPad, phones, kindle, etc.). Electronics provide a mental stimulation that keep you engaged and awake. Regular books are usually an exception because they are slower-paced and easier to nod off to.

5. Physical Stimulation – For most individuals, working out and exercise usually wakes their bodies up because when you are working out, your heart rate is increasing. If you have trouble sleeping, try scheduling your exercises in the morning or early in the day rather than at night. This may also include any sexual activities.

6. Eat Foods High in Magnesium – Foods high in magnesium, such as almonds, legumes, pumpkin seeds, cashews, and dark leafy green vegetables, have been known to be a natural remedy for insomnia by helping to relax your brain and helping you fall asleep faster.

7. Take a Pill – Try something all natural, like L-Tryptophan or 5-HTP. These are basic, simple, and cost-effective.


1. Cerqua, Pete. High Intensity Fitness Revolution for Women: A Fast and Easy Workout with Amazing Results. New York: Skyhorse, 2013. Print.

2. Greenwood, Melanie. “Does Sleep Help With Weight Loss?” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG, Sept.-Oct. 2010. Web. 03 Mar. 2013.  

The Calorie Detective


Are you a calorie-counter always on the go? Do you do your best watching how much food goes into your mouth even when you spend most of your time dining out? Do you pick your meals according to how much calories are suggested for said menu items? If so, you should beware!

In this interesting short documentary titled Calorie Detective, filmmaker and self-proclaimed “obsessive calorie-counter” Casey Neistat, reveals the truth behind those “predicted” calories labeled on most restaurant and fast-food chains (1). To help combat obesity, the New York City Department of Health requires most chain restaurants to “post calorie content on their menus and fine those that don’t comply” (1). This requirement is expanding nationwide thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

This COULD be an excellent reform, but unfortunately is not very effective due to one fact: no one checks the accuracy of these labels according to F.D.A. and the city’s health department. That’s right, technically a company could write down any number on their labels to better market their item and, as long as the numbers are within reason, none would be the wiser.

In his study, Neistat selects five items he consumes on an average day to be tested: a muffin, a tofu sandwich, a Subway sandwich, a Starbucks Frappuccino, and a Chipotle burrito. With the aid of two food scientists at the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, they test each food for calorie content using a device called a bomb calorimeter. This process took more than an hour for each sample to provide the most precise information. These results may shock you.

One of the most surprising results comes from the tofu sandwich.  The spicy tofu sandwich is wrapped in a plastic printed with large pictures of vegetables and bright bold words suggesting how healthy the item is, such as vegan and kosher. Many people often fall victim to the these marketing ploys. According to the label, the sandwich contains only 228 calories. However, after going through the bomb calorimeter, the results revealed that the sandwich actually contained a whopping 548.4 calories. That’s about double the labeled calorie count. It is probably safe to assume that the other nutritional facts are inaccurate as well. This supposedly “healthy” vegan sandwich contains just as much calories as a McDonald’s 550 calorie Big Mac.

The only item that matched its labeled calorie count out of the five items that were tested was the Subway sandwich. Not only that, the actual calorie count for the Subway turkey sub was actually 10 calories short of the labeled 360 calories.

Though calorie-counting is not the be-all and end-all of obesity (as the contents of the calories one is consuming  are more if not just as important), it is both a fascinating and frightening idea that there is a large amount of unaccounted calories being consumed daily. Since the primary principle of losing weight is to burn more calories than you consume, this may illustrate why sometimes people don’t feel or show any progress when trying to slim down.

It is also impossible to make a conclusion about nutrition label inaccuracies among all restaurant and food chains based off the research found from five items. With all the rallying of the government to fight obesity, it brings to light the inadequacies of the current system.


1. Neistat, Casey. “Calorie Detective.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 13 Feb. 2013. Web. 23 Feb. 2013.

Getting (Back) On Track


Whether you are 14 and about to enter high school or 70 and about to retire, it will always be the right time to make the decision to live a healthier lifestyle. We are two and a half months into 2013, and some of you may have made some resolutions to get fit and eat clean. Some of you may not have made that decision, and others may have made those resolutions but have already fallen off the wagon. It is okay. It is never too late to make goals to better yourself, and if you’ve slipped up since New Year’s, just get back up on your feet and move forward. Even the strongest of us fall down sometimes, but it is the weak who choose to stay down. Now is a good time as any to take a look at what you are doing with your life and ask yourself these questions: Are you healthy? Are you physically fit? And most importantly, are you happy? If you answered no to any of these questions, Pete Cerqua has some awesome tips to get your life (back) on track.

If you’re still reading this, then it is safe to say you are ready to make changes towards the right direction. You must be willing to change old (current) habits, ditch bad influences, and gain control of your life again. This means you must get rid of anything that is holding you back. Most of things that are keeping you from becoming who you want to be are probably items lying all around your home.

When you open up your refrigerator and cupboards, what do you see? Most likely you’ll be seeing a lot of go-to comfort foods that have been making you fatter, unhealthier, and sluggish. Toss them out! Some may even find it therapeutic. Your house is like your mind, and it is time to clean house! Throw out all the negative influences; anything that tempts you to eat unhealthy. One of the biggest proponents for eating unhealthy at home is usually because we are bored and unhealthy foods are just a few steps away to provide instant, but temporary, satisfaction. It may be difficult to go off junk food cold turkey, especially if you’ve been eating that way for a long period, but like most bad habits, over time the cravings and urges will eventually diminish. Pete recommends removing any processed foods or  foods that are high in white sugar, white flour, or sodium. He also suggests giving the boot to foods containg gluten or soy.

Having cleaned out all the unhealthy foods, now it’s time to restock. Fill your house with lots of fresh groceries like fruits and vegetables. Things like baby carrots are great because they are naturally sweet and crunchy and work great when you are bored at home and get the urge to munch on something. Other great snack ideas are Greek yogurt and cottage cheese, which are both high in protein. For your meat proteins, free range chicken and eggs are excellent sources for omega-3 fatty acids. If you enjoy beef, get it from grass fed cows only. If you like fish, wild Alaskan salmon is the best choice.

Most healthy individuals do not get all the daily nutrition their body needs from food alone. That is why most athletes and people who want to get in shape need the help of supplements to give them that extra boost and support. Most people need B vitamins for stress and metabolism. If your joints are giving you problems, you can also add MSM, or methylsulfonylmethane, to your diet. A good and reliable place to get all your supplements is from Isagenix. Not only do they provide a variety of products for all your nutritional needs, all their protein products (such as their protein powder) comes from grass fed cows in New Zealand.

Now that you’ve cleaned out your house of any negativity, you are ready to achieve the body you want whole-heartedly. All the temptations you have to cheat are no longer in your home. When you are at home have the urge to chew on something, even when you’re not feeling hungry, you will have only healthy foods to fill that void. You will probably begin to notice that your mind is more free, and you are able to stay more focused on your goals. You are now ready to be the person you’ve always wanted to be!

For more information on getting started, staying focused, and achieving results, check out Pete Cerqua’s The High Intensity fitness Revolution For Women and Men at

For more information on Isagenix products, check out

Carbs: The Breakdown


What are carbs?

Carbohydrates are found in a wide variety of foods including bread, rice, milk, potatoes, pasta, fruit, soft drinks, and pie. They also come in an array of forms – the most common forms are sugars, fibers, and starches.

The basic building block of every carbohydrate is a sugar molecule: a simple union of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Starches and fibers are essentially chains of sugar molecules. Some contain hundreds of sugars (1). Carbohydrates can generally be grouped into two categories: simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates.

What is the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates?

Simple carbohydrates include sugars such as fruit sugar (fructose), corn or grape sugar (dextrose or glucose), and table sugar (sucrose).

Complex carbohydrates include everything made of three or more linked sugars.

The general idea has been that simple carbohydrates are good while complex carbohydrates are bad, particularly in terms of diet and weight loss. Though this is true on a chemical basis, carbohydrates and how they are digested is a little more complicated.

How do carbs benefit our bodies?

Like almost any kind of food, our digestive system handles carbohydrates by “attempting” to break them down and converting them into single sugar molecules so that they are able to be absorbed into the bloodstream. It also converts most digestible carbohydrates into glucose (also known as blood sugar), because cells are designed to use this as a universal energy source. As blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas creates special hormones called insulin that signals for cells to absorb blood sugar for energy and storage. As more and more blood sugar begins to be absorbed into the cell, its levels in the bloodstream begin to fall. That’s when the pancreas starts making glucagon, a hormone that tells the liver to start releasing stored sugar. This ensures that every cell in your body has a steady supply of blood sugar (1).

What is fiber in relation to carbohydrates?

Fiber is put together in such a way that it can’t be broken down into sugar molecules, and so it passes through the body undigested. Fiber comes in two forms: soluble fiber dissolves in water, while insoluble fiber does not. “Although neither type nourishes the body, they promote health in many ways. Soluble fiber binds to fatty substances in the intestines and carries them out as waste, thus lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad cholesterol). It also helps regulate the body’s use of sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar in check. Insoluble fiber helps push food through the intestinal tract, promoting regularity and helping prevent constipation. Adults need at least 20 to 30 grams of fiber per day for good health. But most Americans get only about 15 grams a day” (1).

How is insulin related to diabetes?

People with diabetes have trouble when it comes to the interplay of insulin and glucagon. People with type 1 diabetes don’t make enough insulin, so their cells can’t absorb sugar. People with type 2 diabetes have a different kind of problem where their cells don’t respond well to insulin. “This condition, known as insulin resistance, causes blood sugar and insulin levels to stay high long after eating. Over time, the heavy demands made on the insulin-making cells wears them out, and insulin production slows, then stops. A sedentary lifestyle, being overweight, genes, and a diet rich in processed carbohydrates all promote insulin resistance and can be linked to diabetes” (1).

What is the Glycemic Index?

As stated earlier, carbohydrates are a little more complicated than categorizing simple carbs as bad and complex carbs as good. For example, French fries and starch in white bread qualify as complex carbohydrates. However, the body converts this starch to blood sugar nearly as fast as it processes pure glucose. This causes rapid spikes in blood sugar which promotes insulin resistance. Foods like whole oats and whole grains are digested more slowly, causing a lower and gentler change in blood sugar. The glycemic index aims to classify carbohydrates based on how quickly and how high they boost blood sugar compared to pure glucose.

Glycemic Index

Many factors can affect a food’s glycemic index, including the following:

  • Processing: Grains that have been milled and refined—removing the bran and the germ—have a higher glycemic index than whole grains.
  • Type of starch: Starch comes in many different configurations. Some are easier to break into sugar molecules than others. The starch in potatoes, for example, is digested and absorbed into the bloodstream relatively quickly.
  • Fiber content: The sugars in fiber are linked in ways that the body has trouble breaking. The more fiber a food has, the less digestible carbohydrate it contains, and so the less sugar it can deliver.
  • Ripeness: Ripe fruits and vegetables tend to have more sugar than unripe ones, and so tend to have a higher glycemic index.
  • Fat content and acid content: The more fat or acid a food or meal contains, the slower its carbohydrates are converted to sugar and absorbed into the bloodstream.
  • Physical form: Finely ground grain is more rapidly digested, and so has a higher glycemic index, than more coarsely ground grain.

Carbs and weight loss

In a year-long study, published in 2007 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, overweight, premenopausal women were put on four types of diets: Atkins (a popular no carb diet), Zone, Ornish, or LEARN (a standard low-fat, moderately high-carbohydrate diet). In all four groups, the participants steadily lost weight in the first six months, with the most rapid weight loss occurring among the Atkins dieters. However, after the first six months, the women started to regain the weight. At the end of the year, the participants in the Akins group lost the most weight, about 10 pounds, compared with a loss of almost 6 pounds for the LEARN group, 5 for the Ornish group, and 3.5 for the Zone group. Though almost all the participants lost weight with their respective diets, the study showed that few of the women actually stuck with their diets after the study was over. More importantly, they rebounded. The women in the Atkins diet group, who had to restrict their carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams a day, took in triple that amount. Similar deviations were also found in the other group of diets.

The study shows that the most important component for losing weight and keeping it off long-term is to pick a dietary lifestyle that best suits you but is also full of healthy, clean foods. Yes, restricting yourself from carbs can help you lose weight fast, but as the study pointed out, it is also a strong possibility that you can rebound and gain the weight back twice as fast. If carbs have always been a big part of your diet, you shouldn’t cut them out completely. The idea is to choose healthy carbs that are unprocessed and high in fiber.


1. “Carbohydrates: Good Carbs Guide the Way.” The Nutrition Source. Harvard School of Public Health, n.d. Web. 08 Feb. 2013.

Getting What You Want in Less Time


According to the American College of Sports Medicine, short, high-intensity interval workouts, also known as HIIT training, are one of the best methods to increase overall health and burn calories. Not only are more calories burned, cardiovascular improvements also happen faster with something as short as a 30-second high intensity workout than with a long steady endurance exercise.

“For example, a 154 pound person running at a pace of 8mph burns 320 calories in 20 minutes. That same person, walking at 3 mph for an hour, burns 235 calories” (1). Pete improves on this science with his High Intensity Fitness revolution. With High Intensity Fitness, the plan is to balance bursts of strength, speed, and intensity with recovery time. With this method, “your body will never get accustomed to the workouts and overtraining or burning yourself out is not an option” (2).

The top reasons why High Intensity Fitness works and why short workouts are better include:

1. Less time – Pete suggests that in order to get in better shape and achieve the results you want, no exercise needs to be longer than 20 or 30 minutes. With the High Intensity Fitness solution, not only are you building more muscle and burning more calories in a short amount of time, you’re getting better results than you would if you were to put moderate effort in an exercise for a longer period at the gym. This fitness plan is great for people with busy schedules, and who are always on the go.

2. Actual results –  High Intensity Fitness training has been proven by science and testimonials that it actually works. In a recent article from the New York Times, a research performed at “McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, showed that 30-second a high intensity workout was more productive than a 30-minute moderate intensity workout” (2)!

3. Increased Strength and Metabolism – High intensity workouts strengthen and tone the body where low intensity, high volume workouts do not. The more strength you have means the more muscle you have, and the more muscle you have means the higher your metabolism will be. Muscle burns 25 more calories than fat. When you start increasing your strength and building muscle with High Intensity Fitness, you’ll be burning more calories sitting a couch than your buddy who is doing hours of walking.

4. Stronger Bones – 44 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis (2). High intensity strength training works wonders in combating symptoms of osteoporosis and other bone deterioration through age by increasing bone density up to 13 percent in only six months (2).

5. Prevent Arthritis – Not only does high intensity training give you stronger bones, the increased muscle and strength will undoubtedly aid in join stability. The increased strength in connective tissues can help in preventing injuries and improving quality of life.

6. Get in the Best Shape of Your Life – Not only will you look great, you will feel great too. If you’re a woman, high intensity  fitness will give you a smaller, tighter, and stronger body. If you’re a man, you’ll get leaner, stronger, and have more muscle mass. The key difference between the results between the two sexes is the amount of testosterone produced. Because men produce more testosterone, especially with high intensity fitness training, they gain larger muscle mass.

Spend less time getting what you want. Learn more about Pete’s High Intensity Fitness Revolution at


1.  Quinn, Elizabeth. “High Intensity Interval Training Benefits.”, 5 July 2012. Web. 02 Feb. 2013.

2.  Cerqua, Pete, and Tony Escobar. The High Intensity Fitness Revolution for Women: A Fast and Easy Workout with Amazing Results. New York: Skyhorse Pub., 2012. Print.

The Clear Connection Between Eating Early and Weight Loss


Though it should come as no surprise that eating earlier in the day can help you lose weight, recent studies published in the International Journal of Obesity have found the results to be even more clear. Carried out by researchers at Spain’s University of Murcia, Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Tufts University in Medford, Mass., 420 overweight men and women participated in a study proving that eating earlier in the day, specifically lunch, can provide a clear benefit to losing weight.

The participants monitored during a 20 week period were restricted to 1,400 calories a day. Researchers found that on average, those who ate early in the day lost an average of 22 pounds, while the late eaters comparably lost 17 pounds.

“This was the first long-term large-scale study to really demonstrate that the timing of meals can predict weight-loss effectiveness,” said one of the study’s authors Frank Scheer, director of the Medical Chronobiology Program and associate neuroscientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “But it all makes sense,” Scheer told Allison Aubrey on NPR, “and that the effects of sleep and biological clocks have long been known to affect weight regulation in animals” (1).

“When the timing of meals doesn’t match with the sleep-wave cycle, there is a disconnect between the different clocks we have in, basically, all the cells in our body,” he explained to Aubrey (1).

The surprise does not come in the conclusion of the study –  as there have been many studies prior alluding to the fact that people wanting to lose weight should avoid eating late at night – but how clear the conclusion appears to be in regards to the time people eat during the day and its correlation with losing weight. The only real difference between the participants in the study was when they ate. Amount of exercise, hunger levels, or sleeping habits had almost no impact on the individuals.

The study also found that participants who were the late eaters tended to skimp on breakfast more frequently than those who were the early eaters.

“What the study does is that it emphasizes that we should start thinking not only about what we eat but also when we eat,” Scheer noted. “It may be that we can improve, using this novel concept, existing dietary interventions in the battle against obesity.”

Prior research has shown that our metabolism is at its maximum efficiency during the day, so our body has energy to work and perform day-time activities. However, our metabolism slows down quite a bit at night, so we’re not burning as many calories as we are during the day. This usually results in weight gain.


1. Greenfield, Beth. “Eat Early, Shed Weight, Spanish Study Says.” Shine. (2013): n. page. Web. 31 Jan. 2013.

Top Diets of 2013: Veganism


One of the trending diets of 2013 is veganism. As an extension of the popular vegetarianism, veganism is a dietary practice and lifestyle that not only prohibits meats but also dairy and eggs. While most people who choose to be vegans do so to protect animals and the environment, other people become vegans to lose weight and improve overall health.

“According to research published in the British Medical Journal, obesity rates are the lowest among vegans, as are rates of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure” (1). Furthermore, the American Dietetic Association concludes that “well-planned” vegetarian and vegan diets can “be healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer. Such diets are appropriate even during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence and for athletes” (2).

While some may be born into veganism or adopt it quickly later in life, it is a difficult lifestyle to adjust to if you’ve been eating meat your entire life. Veganism is a very restrictive diet, and it is extremely difficult to quit eating meat cold turkey. This practice requires an almost complete lifestyle change that not only affects meal planning and grocery shopping, but also limits eating options outside of the home. Since the majority of the world are meat eaters, there may not be too many menus that cater to a vegan diet.

Author and founder of Vegan Outreach, Jack Norris, R.D., says, “I tell people to avoid obviously animal-based items, but don’t quibble over every ingredient. You don’t need to quiz the wait staff about whether there’s egg in the pastas or traces of dairy in the dinner rolls” (1). Norris also suggests, “the best way to approach [veganism] isn’t by cutting things out, but by adding them. First, make sure you include ample plant foods at each meal, especially ones in high protein such as [meat substitutes], beans, falafel, and nuts” (1).

Diets like vegetarianism and veganism have some nutritional disadvantages due to the fact that most people get their daily fix of protein, iron, calcium, omega 3 fatty acids, and Vitamin B12 from mostly animal products. To ensure adequate protein intake on a vegan diet, Norris suggests, “eating a variety of vegetables, legumes, fruits, and grains” (1). Besides vegetables and fruits, there are a numerous amount of supplements and vitamins available.

If you’re interested in veganism but are afraid it’s too restrictive, you can consider some of the alternatives such as:

Lacto vegetarian – dairy products are allowed

Ovo vegetarian – eggs are allowed

Lacto-ovo vegetarian – dairy products and eggs are allowed

Pollotarian – poultry and fowl are allowed

Pescatarian – fish and seafood are allowed

More information and recipes can be found at


1. Cander, Chris. “The Top Six Diets of 2013.” Men’s Fitness. 01 2013: 76-78. Print.

2. Derr, Mary. “Pros and Cons of a Vegetarian Diet.” (2011): n. page. Web. 20 Jan. 2013.

Comfort For Belly and Mind


As we delve deeper into winter, and the temperature continues to drop, our primal cravings for simple comfort foods continue to rise. (Un)fortunately, it’s the new year, and our weight-loss resolutions have just come into fruition. This is one of nature’s cruelest paradoxes.

So how do we satisfy our sweet tooth and our cold, empty bellies without all dangers and consequences of the glorious sugar-coated, batter-fried, butter-drenched, cheese-filled comfort foods we’ve grown up eating? In Zinczenko and Goulding’s latest book, Cook This, Not That! Skinny Comfort Foods, they turn “favorite comfort foods into mouth-watering weight-loss weapons” by offering simple tricks and techniques to making iconic American comfort dishes healthier. Below are just a few examples.

Mac & Cheese

“Many restaurants use low-cost, high-calorie cheeselike substances of the Velveeta variety. Instead, swap in bechamel – an easy, creamy white sauce. Add flavor-packed sharp Cheddar, along with lower-calorie Swiss and mozzarella for more meltability. To finish, top with Parmesan and panko, and broil for a crunchy crust.”


  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, fusili, or cavatappi pasta
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyere or other Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

How to Make

  1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions until just al dente. Drain and reserve the pastas.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually whisk in the milk and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, 5 minutes. Add the Gruyere, Cheddar, and mozzarella, and stir until melted. Cut the heat, add the yogurt and cooked pasta, and toss.
  3. Heat the broiler. Pour the mac & cheese mixture into an 8′ square baking dish. Top with bread crumbs and Parmesan, and season with black pepper. Broil until the bread crumbs are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

This recipe contains roughly 595 calories, 28G fat, and 462 MG sodium.  The estimated average restaurant mac & cheese contains 1,380 calories, 96G fat, and 3,150 MG sodium. You’d be saving yourself 785 calories, 68 g fat, and 2,688 mg sodium!


Ice Cream Sundae

“Seek out quality ice cream that lists milk, not cream, as the first ingredient. We like Breyers Natural Vanilla, at under 150 calories per serving. Garnish it with high-impact fruit, chocolate, and nuts, which add flavor rather than mere sweetness. And serve it in a rocks glass, which looks great while limiting portion size.”


  • 2 ripe bananas, unpeeled
  • 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 4 scoops good-quality vanilla ice cream, such as Breyers Natural Vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp dark chocolate syrup or fudge sauce (such as Ghirardelli) warmed in a bowl
  • 1/4 cup roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped

How to Make

  1. Preheat a grill pan or cast-iron skillet on medium high. Halve the bananas length-wise, being sure to leave each half in the peel. Coat the exposed banana flesh with the brown sugar, using your fingers to press the sugar in. When the skillet or grill pan is hot, place the bananas in the pan, cut side down. Cook them until the surface caramelizes to a deep brown, about 3 minutes.
  2. Let the bananas cool briefly, carefully remove the peels, and place each piece in the bottom of a rocks glass or a small bowl.  (You can break the pieces in half if that works better.) Top each portion of banana with a scoop of ice cream along with equally divided portions of warmed chocolate sauce and a sprinkling of chopped peanuts. Makes 4 servings.

This recipe contains 314 calories, 13G fat, and 37G sugars. The estimated average restaurant ice cream sundae contains 840 calories, 55G fat, and 95G sugars. You’d be saving yourself 526 calories, 42G fat, and 58G sugars!


1. Zinczenko, David, and Matt Goulding. “Eat Better.” Men’s Health. 07 Jan 2013: 132-136. Print.

2. Zinczenko, David, and Matt Goulding. Cook This, Not That! Skinny Comfort Foods. Rodale Books, 2012. Print. <;


Dealing With Post-Holiday Feelings


According to British research, January is the most depressing time of the year. Why? The weather is gloomy, your holiday high has faded, your New Year’s resolutions seem daunting, and opening your post-Christmas credit card statement can be quite frightening. As many of you have probably experienced in your life, emotions can play quite a heavy role when it comes to discipline, diet, and physical health. Therefore, it may come to no surprise that most people give up on their New Year’s resolutions by the end of the month.

Below are some tips to dealing with some of the most problematic emotions you may be feeling post-holidays.

Depression – Probably the most common negative emotion people have after the holidays. Dragging yourself back to work, or a routine, after spending what seemed like only a minute of relaxation and joy. Or maybe you didn’t get a chance to really enjoy your holidays because you were too busy planning, organizing, and making sure everyone else had a wonderful holiday. Regardless of the reason why you’re depressed, life is too short to be moping around and feeling miserable.

Try eating fruits. A British and American study showed that people who ate more than two servings of fruits and vegetables daily reported higher levels of happiness than those who ate less. Moreover, the findings suggested that the more produce you eat, the more your mood can improve (Men’s Health). People who ate 7 to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day were the happiest of all. Try loading your fridge with frozen berries (no added fructose). They have a long shelf-life, make great quick snacks, and retain a lot of their antioxidants, even when frozen.

Loneliness – Now that your family and friends have probably flown back home to go on with their lives, and all the wonderful parties have ended, you may be feeling quite lonely. You may be looking back at all the joyful pictures you took over the holidays and reminisce about all the great times you’ve had over the past couple of weeks, making you even more depressed that it’s over.

An effective way to stop from feeling lonely is to make new bonds with people with similar interests. Try going to one of the classes at your gym (most are usually free and are included in your membership) such as dance, yoga, aerobics, and kickboxing. You can also take a class you are passionate about at a community college such as a foreign language or a literature class. Being surrounded with like-minded people is an easy way to form friendships.

Anxiety– Are you nervous about going back to work or school? Worrying about how you are going to pay your latest credit card statements? Anxiety and stress can make us more tempted to eat food, especially junk food. This is because stress usually intensifies the taste of sweet and salty foods, making eating under stress more pleasurable. This can make counting calories and staying on a diet quite a challenge.

Try to do at least half an hour of moderate-intensity cardio three times a week.  Exercise is the best way to reduce stress and anxiety as it can provide a soothing effect similar to that of anti-anxiety meds.  Smiling can also reduce your stress and also has the added benefit of calming your heart rate. If you hate exercising and going to the gym, act like you like it. Eventually all the benefits you will reap will put a genuine smile on that face.


Kuzma, Cindy. “When Your Feelings Turn Fatal.” Men’s Health. 2012: 90-92. Print.