Embracing Curves and Finding Your Healthy Weight

When people talk about finding their healthy weight, they often mention Body Mass Index or BMI — a measure of relative size based on body mass and height. Medical professionals may use this value as a marker to determine an individuals weight category or a specific weight range that they fall within.

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While BMI can be very useful in determining a loose idea of average weight, there are many factors that it fails to take into account, and therefore it shouldn’t be used as the only indication of overall health. Many professional athletes are considered to be overweight based on their BMI since muscle weighs more than normal tissue or fat deposits. Women with larger than average busts also often find themselves on the wrong side of the BMI scale, even if their waist and hip measurements are well within the average for their height, because of the weight of their breasts. So how can you determine what body weight is healthy for you? And when is it time to stop worrying about your weight and accept that your curves are healthy?

Exercise Regularly

The first thing you can do is stop focusing on how much you weigh and start focusing on how healthy you are instead. This means saying goodbye to fad diets and hello to regular exercise. It is better to be fit than thin, and consistent exercise will make you stronger and less vulnerable to viruses that pose threats to your immune system. Traditional exercise will also increase your muscle and bone strength, leaving you less susceptible to the risks of osteoporosis as you age, including the added benefit of making your body appear leaner, even if your weight doesn’t actually change when you step on the scale. In fact, why not throw your scale away and instead of measuring your weight, choose other variables to keep track of? Measure how many hours of exercise you fit in each week or how many of your five a day you eat. By focusing on healthy habits instead of your weight you will live a healthier overall lifestyle. This is particularly important for individuals that have experienced disordered eating or who are prone to obsessive thoughts who may find that looking at the numbers on the scale on a weekly basis is detrimental to their overall health and well-being. 

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Eat Right

Although we may ignore the rules now and again, we all know which foods are healthy and which are laden with saturated fats. We also know that we should aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day, and that fruit makes a better snack than chocolate. A good way to assess how healthy your diet really is to write down everything you eat over the course of a week. Include everything in your food journal all of those afternoon snacks and every quick pick-me-up from Starbucks. We often think we are eating healthier than we are because we forget to count our small snacks and treats. By writing down exactly what you eat, you will have a clear picture of how healthy your diet really is, and will be able to see where you need to make changes without worrying about your weight. 

3Reassess Your “Normal”

One of the many reasons that women strive so hard to reduce their weight, and to fit into those size zero jeans, is because the media presents the idea that all women are slim, and that women who do not fit this have failed. Not only is this not true, it is ridiculous! Look around you and you will see happy and healthy women that come in all shapes and sizes. Being strong and healthy are better markers to judge yourself rather than just your number on the scale. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be considering weight loss — many of us do have a few pounds to lose to reach our ideal size and shape, and there are changes we can make to our diet and lifestyle that will help us to reach our goals. However, weight loss isn’t the most important target. By reassessing your normal, moving your goalposts to something that is healthy and realistic for your body shape, and accepting yourself for who you are, you will find that you are both happier and healthier overall.

 

Article submitted and written by: Helen Ulu

Seeking Artificial Sweeteners to Lose Weight? Think Again!

It’s simple to understand why people who are trying to lose weight turn to sugar-free options when the label clearly shows zero calories. Many of us enjoy the sweetness but not so much the calories that these foods and beverages can pack on. But are the benefits of artificial sweeteners really all what they are cracked up to be?

Know the Difference: Sugar vs. Substitutes

Artificial sweeteners are much sweeter than natural sugar which is the reason why we only need a fraction of the amount to obtain the same level of sweetness as sugar. First off, there are several different types of sugar substitutes out there and many of them are marketed differently which can end up making it confusing for the consumer. For instance, some manufacturers state that their sweeteners (like stevia, aspartame or sucralose) are natural even though they are processed or refined. In most cases, these foods, although are low in calories, are filled with non-nutritive sugars which do not provide the same health benefits as natural whole foods. So which ever way that sweeteners are classified, it’s important to know that they are not the magical ingredient to a successful weight loss journey. As a matter of fact, they may be the cause of additional weight gain and can potentially hold you at higher risk of health problems.

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Health Concerns

It turns out that skipping out on the calories through synthetic sweeteners may be hurting us more than what we anticipated. Millions find it harmful to sip on “diet” soda daily, although what they don’t realize is that they may be setting themselves up for more health problems. Several studies have shown adverse effects on those who consume sugar substitutes regularly in comparison to those who do not. In fact, issues with our metabolism, gut health and overall appetite have been correlated to the consumption of artificial sweeteners.

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Artificial Sweeteners and Weight Loss

Many people actually end up compensating for the zero-calorie sodas by overeating and splurging elsewhere, thinking that they have saved on calories by going the sugar-free route. In reality, the regular consumption of synthetic sweeteners can play tricks on our minds and make it even harder to cut cravings and lose weight in more ways than one. These substitutes have been linked to an increase in appetite due to the fact that the body is not getting the fuel that it was expecting from the zero-calorie soda, which also impacts the natural metabolic rate. Artificial sugars simply do not satisfy the body in the same way that sugar does which may also cause your sweet tooth to amp up and crave even more, thus becoming addictive.

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Ultimately, studies have not shown support of the intended benefits of sugar substitutes on weight loss  in fact, they have demonstrated nearly the polar opposite of that! People who consume artificial sweeteners are more often associated with long-term weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and other health issues. So it’s time we realize that looking past the number of calories we “skip out on” through substitutes can actually work in our favor, especially when it comes to maintaining good health.

Back to School Meal Prepping Done Right

So it’s back to school which means it’s back to our busy schedules — cramming work, school and exercise into each of our hectic days. The truth is, many people slack when it comes to healthy eating as this time of year rolls around by taking shortcuts while cooking because they simply cannot find the time to do it. However, with a little extra planning, those weeknights can be made easier through mastering the art of meal prepping!

Meal prepping 101

Meal prepping may come across intimidating to most people — the thought of cooking for an entire week at one time can seem daunting. However, with proper planning and execution, you will find yourself with a ton of extra time on those busy weeknights without the stress of having to whip up meals off the top of your head!

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Plan Ahead

First thing is first, make a list! Avoid the grocery store chaos along with the overwhelming aspect of shopping for a weeks worth of food by making a shopping list before getting there. Once you come up with an organized lineup of your meals that you will be eating for the week, you can further break it down by the ingredients that you will be needing for each meal. Be sure to include breakfast, lunch, dinner, along with snacks, and keep it as organized as possible. This will not only help save you time when you get to the grocery store, but also keep you from making pit stops in the candy aisle.

Tips to Successfully Meal Prep

Organization is definitely crucial to get you started however, it won’t be the only thing that keeps your meal prep going. Adapting a healthy and clean lifestyle takes time, hard work and a lot of dedication to be successful. The key to getting into a regimen that sticks is to make it as easy as possible for you to manage and continue in the longterm. So let’s dive into the tips and tricks of meal planning to help you successfully save time, money, all while eating clean and avoiding those frenzied weeknights.

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Don’t Do it all at Once

If you are a beginner when it comes to preparing your meals, start by cooking for a few days at a time, instead of the entire week. This will lessen your load when it comes down to cooking on that Sunday night. Not only that, but you won’t have to worry about eating the exact same thing for lunch all week  which can be a drag! Be sure to have a variety. Even if you stick with the same protein through the week, modifying side dishes or sprucing up salads is an easy way to keep it interesting while satisfying your taste buds. Another great yet simple tip is to plan snacks with minimal ingredients, while incorporating raw fruits, veggies or nuts. This way, you can constantly change up your repertoire without overcomplicating it.

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Pick your Foods Wisely 

Try to stick to staple food items, this will simplify your cooking when it comes to preparation and limit the time you spend in the kitchen. Not only will you save time, but you will most likely save some money when buying simple, yet fresh produce rather than specialty items. Going the gourmet route may be tempting for the taste however, the more extravagant the food is, the sooner it will spoil and stink up your fridge!

Choose the Right Packaging  

The containers you package your meals in should not be overlooked, especially when it comes to the size. Be sure your containers are not too big — this will likely lead to packing larger portion sizes and result in over eating. Since you will be using them throughout the week, it’s better to invest a higher quality, BPA-free packaging to be sure they won’t be falling apart through the constant heating and cooling or pose any health problems. 

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Remember that meal prepping is meant to help you throughout your week by lightening your load of things to do on weeknights when work and school become stressful. This will not only give you more time to do things you love but also the opportunity to workout and stay active! When done right, meal preparation will declutter your busy weeks and keep you on the right track for clean eating.

5 Simple Ways To Improve Your Diet

Getting started on a new workout routine may be tough but improving your diet doesn’t have to be. Instead of going cold turkey or making drastic changes which is often what many try and fail to stay consistent with, focus on your current regimen and make one small change at a time.

Skip the soda

Swap the soda out for water. If you are the type who finds water incredibly boring to drink, change it up a bit. Add a few slices of lemon and make things even more interesting by adding different berries, or grab some mint leaves from the garden. This will provide the refreshing flavour without any added calories or sugar which soda is loaded with!

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Cut down on processed sugar

Find a way to cut down on sugar while still fulfilling your sweet tooth. For instance, ditch the slice of cake and have a bowl of fruit instead. This will keep you feeling energized and provide you with additional vitamins and minerals that you would not get from traditional dessert that’s overfilled with processed sugars and fats.

Don’t cut out your favourite foods

That’s right, don’t say goodbye to your favourite delicacies! Instead, try to improve the amount of control you have when it comes to indulging. For many, cheat days can be an effective way to do so by allowing only small portions of comfort foods  as long as nutritional goals are being met throughout the week.

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Keep a food diary

Keep track of your progress by what you consume and how you feel after eating particular foods. This will not only give a better understanding of your personal eating habits but also help you to become more mindful of what you eat in the future. Keeping a food journal for just one week has been proven to help those dieting pinpoint exactly where they need improvement when it comes to nutritional needs as well. It’s also a great help for those who meal prep during the work week, keeping ideas of what to cook organized and can even lower your grocery bill! 

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Clean out your cupboards 

Out of sight, out of mind! Do some kitchen cleaning and clear out the junk from the cupboards. Many people find themselves snacking on unhealthy foods because they are simply surrounded by them. Purging processed foods will not only help control your unwanted cravings but also help with future eating habits in the long run.

All Things Detox — The Facts & Myths You Should Know

No two people are the same — especially when it comes to their diets. That is why it’s essential to adapt a regimen tailored to suit our body and attend to our own unique nutritional needs. 

Of course, maintaining a healthy balance of wholesome foods in our diet and more importantly keeping things in moderation is key. But for many, our modern day lifestyles get in the way of sustaining balance when it comes to eating healthy and exercising. Stuck in an age where we are constantly looking for shortcuts to help squeeze out every last minute of the day, it’s no surprise that we resort to the quicker and easier way of dieting. But just how effective are these alternative ways of losing weight? Do they actually work or are they just another fallacy? 

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What is a Detox?

First, let’s dive into the details involving the popular “detox diet”. There is no one particular detox out there — in fact there are several different types that involve either fasting, drinking cleansing juices, taking pills or other diets that restrict the consumption of certain foods. Regardless of which type of detox one chooses, the important thing to recognize is that they aren’t as promising as they sound. In actuality, they have not proven to accomplish what they say they will, which is to flush toxins from the body. If your goal is to ultimately cleanse your body from “harmful” substances, your best approach is a traditional clean-eating regimen. This is one that limits high in fat and sugar foods, by replacing them with naturally grown, raw whole foods. Cutting down on processed foods that many of our diets are overfilled with will also help achieve a more realistic long-term goal. However, science has in fact proven that the removal of stored toxic substances is a continuous process that the body undergoes naturally, regardless of whether or not we attempt to flush them through a diet.    

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Losing Weight Without Exercise

It is likely that you have heard about the several cleansing diets that are solely based on the consumption of pills, juices or limited foods and do not involve any form of exercise in order to lose weight. To many, the sound of not having to go through extensive training in order to achieve results may sound appealing, which has no wonder drawn popularity to these weight-reduction strategies. These forms of dieting may often yield in weight loss mainly due to their extreme nature and the fact that they restrict many foods or occasionally entire food groups. Of course, while it is possible to shed weight by cutting calories through a detox, skipping out on gym time will likely result in a decrease in muscle mass. What many people do not realize is that the less muscle mass your body has, the less energy (and in turn, calories) you use. It is safe to say that many of these diets do not involve much physical activity because they are in fact so low in calories that people often feel weak or simply do not have enough energy to burn off in the first place.      

The Verdict 

It’s indisputable that going cold turkey or making excessive cuts to your daily intake will without a doubt send your body into shock. However, by maintaining a lifestyle consistently overtime rather than putting a complete halt to one is much more effective, and more importantly easier on the body. It’s important to realize that although the pounds may shed at a rapid rate when detoxing for some, weight can quickly pack on once you end the diet. To increase the likelihood of long-term success in regards to achieving your healthy weight, smaller changes are recommended over dramatic ones. In most cases, conventional dieting methods of losing weight including exercise, although can be initially slower in yielding weight loss results, have proven to be more advantageous in the long haul when maintaining goals.

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How to Get Started

Don’t know where to begin? Not to worry — starting off a new regimen may be intimidating, especially when you have what seems to be an impossible goal to reach. Begin by making just one small change. For instance, add a portion of veggies with your lunch or make an effort to eat dinner at an earlier time. These small changes will remain easy to manage and maintain through longer periods of time as oppose to struggling to keep up with dieting fads. Remember, this is more than simply your caloric intake. All-around health involves the intricacies of physical, mental and emotional balance. Keep your mind alert and your heart happy! Start by focusing on your entire body as a series of mechanisms working together to keep it in its best shape possible. And just as mentioned off the top, moderation is the key to a healthy lifestyle.    

How Many Names are There for Sugar? This Infographic Will Tell You.

Sugar may be the biggest factor for weight gain and yet, it stays so well hidden in our everyday food items. Let’s see how well you know the different names of sugar after reading this infographic. 

Dietitian Julie Upton, MS, RD, of Appetite for Health, shared this infographic to help understand better our sugar intake. The first step: learn the many ways sugar is listed on ingredient labels.
Want to know more? Get more information about a healthy diet and sound nutrition from Appetite for Health.

"I’m Fat, But I’m Not…" The Buzzfeed Video That is Challengeing Fat Stereotypes

Buzzfeed recently released a video called, “I Fat, But I’m Not…” challenges the stereotypes associated with overweight people. In the video you see young individuals discuss how they don’t struggle with their weight. In fact, they talk about how they lead healthier and active lives like any other thin or fit person.



 
The video sheds light on a growing problem in the fitness and health industry; the image associated with health and fitness today. What discourages a lot of people from starting their weight loss journey is that they associate the idea of being healthy with being thin.

If you type in “fitness” or “weight loss” into Pinterest, or just Google it, you will find a barrage of images showing you how to get the body  of an Olympian or Supermodel. (Like the photo shown here.

 Some go as far as starving themselves trying to reach that perfect body without realizing that the body needs to metabolize in order for weight loss to begin.

One girl from the video put it best that her body does not metabolize fast enough, even though her friends, who are skinnier than her, eat more than her. 

This video sheds light on the issue of fat stereotypes and shows a different side of the health and fitness industry through people who do not fit industry standards. Check it out and let us know if you agree with the message I Am Fat, But I’m Not… is trying to project.

How to Embrace Your New Curves: Let Ashley Graham Show You with Her New Lingerie Collection

What happens to a woman’s wardrobe when they start losing weight? Do they go back to wearing clothes that are bigger than them to hide their excess fat or do they embrace their new bodies with the latest fashion trends?

  

           


I ask myself this, because recently I saw a very empowering video of a Ashley Graham’s runway show for New York Fashion Week, which used models of all different shapes and sizes. For those who are unfamiliar with Ashley Graham, she is a lingerie model who got her start with Lane Bryant. Ashley Graham’s “I Am Size Sexy” campaign is aiming to do away with referring to bigger models as “plus-size” and instead use the term curvy; going one step further with her collection of lingerie for the everyday woman. 

“There are so many adjectives that you could [use to] describe my body, but the one I love is curvy,” -Ashley Graham.

                                          
Lingerie is a very risqué item for any woman struggling through weight loss to wear, because it exposes the most intimate and vulnerable part of them. A lot of women consider it a victory to be able to wear a two piece bikini in public, much less lingerie in private. Even though nobody else (with the exception of your partner) is seeing it, you are seeing it and sometimes you are your biggest judge.


As a woman who lost some weight recently herself, I realize that choosing new clothes for myself is a challenge, because I STILL  have my curves and my biggest asset is my chest. Whatever I choose needs to be fitted to the top and the bottom, which is nauseating, because every big retail store I go to like Forever 21 or H & M has all these items made in China. Whenever I see a tag that says size 12, I want to laugh, because I can barely get the pant leg over my thigh. 


Many women with curvaceous or bigger bodies are fed up, because searching for clothes that fit them has become somewhat of a treasure hunt.


 So much so that a movie like the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants really resonates, because we have all gone through the exhilaration of finding something that fits us and suddenly wearing it everywhere. 

In my case, whenever I find anything that fits me well, I become loyal to that brand, since that brand understands my body type.


But why don’t more brands understand the average woman’s body type?

Why is the fashion industry missing out on their greatest market; the curvy gals. With the average clothing size in the U.S. being between 12-16, more clothing brands would be making a fortune including bigger sizes and cuts that don’t cut off a girl’s circulation at the hips. 

Ashley Graham’s collection reminds me that my body deserves to feel sexy. The more we become comfortable in our own skin, the more we can start reaching our weight loss goals. Body positivity is a huge factor in weight loss, because it is our insecurities that impact our eating habits to begin with. Learning to love your body starts with looking in the mirror, so might as well find something sexy to put on. 

             

Check out some more pictures from NYFW I Am Sexy show below.




This Girl Can and Why You Should Too!

If you have not seen the latest video to go viral on social media about fitness motivation, then be prepared to grab your work out gear, because the people of Sport England have released a campaign that encourages women of all shapes to be active and have fun while doing it!


 This Girl Can not only looks at a variety of women struggling with weight loss, but champions women’s fitness by showing women engaging in different sports activities. 




From spinning classes to Zumba, the 1:30 minute video shows real women enjoying their workout routines with existential fitness quotes over the screen saying, “I jiggle, therefore I am.” capturing the goal of body positivity; acceptance. The video celebrates active women everywhere by showing sweat and struggle of working out with a heavier body.

                             


The campaign even takes a look at the real stories of women who have found salvation in being active. The women in the video are not your typical lean and toned spokespersons that you see from most weight loss fitness motivation campaigns, but instead women who are simply speaking from a very real place like Alice Brazier. “Getting in the pool after a long day really pays off for both body and mind.”



This Girl Can even goes as far as providing a list of activities to browse through (in case an activity like running and yoga is not your thing). The purpose of the campaign is to find fun in whatever activity you choose, because you will reach your weight loss goal faster enjoying yourself. Let us know what your favourite activity is when you want to workout.

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