Tag Archives: exercise

The 3 Fitness W’s for Success in 2015

Every year in January gyms across the nation become filled with new and enthusiastic people attempting to accomplish their new year’s resolution to lose weight.  People start by joining and maybe even get a coaching session or the latest weight loss supplement but by February already start to drop off from the gym.  While training a client and seeing the influx of people at a normally non-peak time, we discussed what it would actually take to make people successful with their weight loss goals.  Together we came up with the 3 W’s for weight loss; water, weightlifting and willpower. If people were to follow these simple rules they would significantly increase their chances of achieving their goals.

As much as 75% of Americans are considered to be chronically dehydrated, and water use is one of the most underutilized tools in weight loss.  Our bodies are composed of 60% water and our muscle tissues are 75% water! Water is necessary in the uptake of nutrients and minerals into our cells and studies have been shown that just by drinking 2 glasses of water before breakfast, lunch, and dinner has shown that people eat less.  Incorporating more water in the diet is essential for success.  A good starting point for water consumption is to take your body weight (lbs) and drink half of that number in ounces.  So a 200lb person would drink approximately 100oz of water a day.  The added benefit of this is that you will have to use the restroom on a relatively consistent basis which will also get you up from your work desk and get you moving and burning more calories.

Weightlifting is the second W for realizing your weight loss goals. People still fail to realize that lifting weights actually burns more calories than running steady state cardio. When Penn State researchers put dieters into three groups—no exercise, aerobic exercise only, or aerobic exercise and weight training—they all lost around 21 pounds, but the lifters shed six more pounds of fat than those who didn’t pump iron. Why? The lifters’ loss was almost pure fat; the others lost fat and muscle. Muscle loss may drop your scale weight, but it doesn’t improve your reflection in the mirror and it makes you more likely to gain back the flab you lost.

The hardest W to stay focused is willpower: The American Psychological Association calls willpower “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” Ultimately its hard work to lose weight and only you can resist foods that will hinder your progress, but here are several techniques to combat temptation when it arises. Set short and long-term goals to keep you motivated.  It can be hard to see yourself progressing; setting short-term goals constantly allows you to see the progress within reach. It’s also important to keep track of all of the short-term goals you are achieving, whether it’s in a journal or on your computer. If you keep a list of everything you have achieved, it is a constant reminder that you do have the power to achieve your goals. If dieting is a struggle, try some of these tricks:

Keep healthy snacks on you when you feel the urge to eat, so if your blood sugar drops and you get hungry you can fill up on healthy choices.  Another idea is to eat off a smaller plate, according to Cornell research, people who eat off of six-inch plates think they’re eating about 18 percent more food than they actually are. The ability to control willpower will be one of the single greatest factors to accomplish long-term success.

The 3 W’s are a simple approach to making 2015 a healthier year. By drinking water, lifting weights, and starting with a plan for willpower should set your year for great results.

The Conflict of Interest with Dietary Supplement Recommendations

Personal Trainers always are always look to maximize their time and money while doing training sessions month after month.  Once established as a certified personal trainer, you set your rate with clients (or your training facility does), and fill your schedule with as many clients as you can until inevitably trainers reach a plateau. Either you have some sanity in your day, and allow a healthy work/life balance, or you have more clients than you can handle and work 14 hour days training non stop. Either way your income hits a snag, and the certified personal trainer looks for alternative sources of revenue to boost their bottom line. The growing trend seems to be advising clients and other health conscious people on diet and workout supplements. This article will address some of the issues with the personal trainers and companies selling nutritional supplement to make extra money.

The client/certified personal trainer relationship is meant to be based on trust as well as a trainer having a competent understanding of the body and how to get their client to exercise safely, efficiently, and effectively. This is in the personal trainers scope of practice, to practice and preach what they learned either from a degree or certification, or both. Today, more personal trainers are veering away from their scope of practice and offering nutritional and dietary advice to their clients with no training in order to make more income. The conflict of interest arises when trainers get paid money make to make recommendations for certain dietary supplement companies. Whats even worse is you have lay people also recommending these products with no knowledge of whats in them.  You may have seen reps for companies such as Advocare, BodyByVi, Herbalife, and Juice Plus just to name a few.  They use a MLM system to recruit trainers as well as everyday people to pitch their fitness products to the masses in hopes of getting more people to rep product. The issue with many of these products is that they have never been reviewed by the FDA, and their quality is only “certified” by the companies who distribute them.

Due to The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, the FDA has limits on when and how they can act when it comes to dietary supplementation.  To many peoples surprise the supplement industry is very loosely regulated by the FDA. Basically, there is no regulation until a product is brought to the FDA documenting harmful affects.  A perfect example of this was back in 2009, the #1 dietary supplement on the market Hydroxycut which claimed to help burn body fat. Hydroxycut was finally was pulled after it was determined to have caused 23 serious health concerns including liver failure, and a fatality. This goes to show that what people can potentially recommend for you has no safety factors and potentially could be very harmful to your body. Shortly after being pulled from the market, Hydroxycut changed their formula and now can be found in supplement stores nationwide.  They also reformulated a second time after another death occurred while some was taking their product.

To best illustrate the conflict, I can look back at my story and the decision I had to make while considering a job offer. I moved to Atlanta in 2011 looking to break into the fitness industry.  I was certified and ready to make a difference in peoples lives through exercise.  I had a job interview from an in home personal training company whose owner also happened to be a representative from one of the companies mentioned above.  Since I was not trained in nutrition, or a R.D. I did not feel comfortable going beyond my scope of practice.  Here are two of the email exchanges:

Me:  I am interested in the personal training aspect especially if it’s around the city. I’m not thrilled about the product or a lot of the reviews it’s getting online and it’s reputation. If any due diligent customer did some research on the product they would at best get mixed reviews. If there is a market in the city then I would like to train those people but until I review the product more I would not push it to every client. Would that be a problem?
His Response was as follows:
I know you are skeptical man, and I don’t blame you.  If its not right for you now, maybe it will be down the line sometime.  I look at the Redacted angle like this;  I have been recommending Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey for the last 5 years.  I feel confident in them because they are the #1 protein brand in the world.  I bet I have convinced well over 100 people to buy the product.  And what has that gotten me in return?  The answer is NOTHING.  When I go buy the product, its still FULL price.  When my clients go buy the product, its still FULL price.  At some point, we need to be compensated for our recommendations.

This was the introduction I received in the fitness industry, regardless of the benefit of the product to the client, make sure you are compensated.

So in conclusion, I hope that before you opt to put something in your body, please do the research. Do I need this? Can I get these same benefits from food? Does the person have proper training to recommend this product?  If you can ensure well balanced meals are eaten on a regular basis, there shouldn’t be a need for supplementation. Combine healthy eating with exercise and the health benefits are exponential.

Counting Calories for the purpose of losing weight

Is counting calories the best way to live our lives?  Everyday, we hear the term calorie as an expression of how much we eat on a daily basis. Technically, a Calorie is a unit of heat measurement used to measure the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by 1 degree Celsius.  In this article I will discuss why is it so difficult to accurately count calories.

In America it has become increasingly popular to see calories on menus, see people reading food labels at the grocery store, and in general people obsess about calorie content. So how do those numbers make it on labels and menus? In order to see those nutrient values, scientists burn food samples in a bomb calorimeter. The result of this reaction then becomes the value for nutrient databases that are used today.  Unfortunately, there are several issues with the process.

  • Analytical methods are imprecise
  • Product variety
  • Soil and growing conditions
  • Ripeness at the time of harvest
  • Animals’ diets
  • Preparation method

The way we currently test nutrients and energy doesn’t always provide reliable results, so the analysis can only be as good as the testing method.  Besides the analysis we have to look at food as a whole.  No food is ever going to be the same, different batches of the same food will have different nutrient values, thus testing a food at a single point in time to describe all batches is extremely inaccurate. Produce is grown all over the world in different climates and varying soil conditions.  It would be improbable to say that produce grown in different regions would have the same nutrient estimates. Nutrient values are also different when picked during peak season versus out of season.  Nutrients in milk, meats, and eggs, vary based on how the particular animal lived and ate. Eating raw will have a much different affect that cooking produce. In fact, research has shown cooking provides more energy available for humans to use.  So with all these contributing factors related to food how accurate are the labels?

Foods listed in the nutrient database, or on food labels are as much as  +/-  25% off. Additional research has shown some frozen foods contain 8% more calories, and some restaurant meals are as much as 18% higher than listed on the menu. All this leads to one undeniable fact; you can’t rely on calorie counting for an accurate way to measure your weight. While this article is not meant to answer what is the best method to lose weight, hopefully it has shown that managing your weight by counting calories is time consuming, difficult, and extremely inaccurate.

Are you eating correctly for your body type?

Most people get their diet advice or meal ideas from magazines or the internet which generally has the latest and greatest one size fits all plan. While the plan or idea may have great concepts about losing/gaining weight, it never touches on the fact that each person is different based on their bodies.  In fact, most people fall into one of three somatoypes, or body types.  In order to get the best results you need to be able to customize your meals and macro nutrients around your body type and goals.

People need to be basing their macro nutrients around their specific body type.  People generally are either ectomorphs, who are characterized long and thin muscles and limbs with lower fat storage. Typically these people want to gain muscle strength and size or maintain body weight for endurance sports. Mesomorphs, typically have larger bones, a solid torso, wide shoulders, trim waist, and naturally muscular and athletic. Their goals generally are to continue to build muscle mass while maintaining a low body fat percentage. Endomorphs, usually are naturally thick and broad with higher fat storage and wider waist and large bone structure. Most goals are centered around fat loss.  While there are several other variations of these categories, its important as a starting point to find your somatotype, and base your meals and macro nutrients off your goals (build muscle, lose fat, gain/lose/maintain weight).

How many calories you need to be eating is based on your body weight and activity level throughout your day.  As a baseline measurement you can take your body weight in pounds and multiple it by the chart below as it corresponds with your activity level.

Calorie Estimator

For Example a 180 lb endomorph male that is moderately active working out 3-4 times per week and wants to lose weight would eat between 2160 (180×12) to 2540 (180×14) calories per week.

After discovering how much calories you will be consuming a day, we get to the customization that has been lacking from all the previous diets! The most important part is giving your body what it needs in macro nutrients.  Depending on your body type and goals this chart is a very good starting point in order to make the meals and macro nutrients work most efficiently for you.

bodytype2

Converting grams to calories 1g fat=9 calories, 1g carbs=4 calories, 1 g protein=4 calories

If we were to take that same 180 lb man looking to lose body weight his diet would need to consist of 35% protein, 25% carbs and 40% fat.  If he were to eat a fixed diet at 2160 calories we could break it down as follows: 2160 calories x .35=756 calories 756/4=189 grams of protein, 2160 x .25=540 calories, 540 calories/4=135 grams of carbs, and 2160 calories x.4=864, 864 calories/9=96g of fats. We are able to figure out both total grams and calories of each macro nutrient we should be consuming each day for our desired goal. This is one of the best ways to achieve results for your own body type and see great results.

In conclusion, before starting out on your next dieting adventure, see if the next great weight gain/ loss plan is right for your body type.  In no way is the process mentioned above the only way to achieve your desired results but it is very effective.  For more information on how to individualize your meal plan contact me at firefighterfitnessllc@gmail.com

Ten Tips to Tone that Tummy and Blast Belly Fat for Good!

Tired of doing crunches everyday and still not melting that muffin top? The solution may be simpler than stepping up your sit-ups. The truth is, it’s just not possible to spot-train any one muscle group, and that includes your abdomen. Even if it’s the only problem area you struggle with, ab exercises alone aren’t enough to pulverize that pooch. The key to a toned tummy involves a combo of diet, cardio, and core-strengthening moves. Read on for our top ten tips to help you whittle your middle and have you strutting in your skinny jeans in no time!

1. Fill up with Fiber

Fiber not only fills you up, helping you to consume less calories during the day, but it also helps transport the foods you eat through your body quicker. This allows your body to absorb less calories, and banishes belly bloat to boot! Try to incorporate more fiber-rich fruits into your diet such as apples, berries, and pears, as well as whole grains like quinoa and brown rice. Experts recommend getting 25 to 35 grams of fiber daily.

2. Own Your Omega-3s

We all know omega-3s are essential to a heart-healthy diet, but did you know they can also do wonders for your waistline? These healthy fats promote fat burning by making your metabolism more efficient. So, if you tend to carry a little extra pudge in your pants, upping your omega-3s will help to metabolize and melt that unwanted ab flab. Aim for at least two servings of fatty fish such as salmon or tuna per week, along with an ounce of almonds or peanuts (about 23) every day.

3. Perfect Your Proteins

The more muscle you build, the more fat you burn, and without protein you can’t build those muscles. The complex make-up of protein-rich foods make these foods harder for your body to digest, meaning your body uses more energy to digest them. In short, this means that you burn more calories when you eat protein. The amino acids found in protein also help speed up muscle recovery after a workout, helping you to build muscle more efficiently. To figure out how much protein you should be eating, multiply your body weight in pounds by .37. That number is the minimum amount of protein grams your body needs per day, but you may need more depending on how much you exercise. Make sure to stick to lean proteins such as turkey, chicken, eggs, fish, beans, and tofu.

4. Reach for Red Fruits

Recent studies have shown that compounds found in both watermelon and tomatoes help to reduce lipids (fat) in the blood which in turn helps to control belly fat. In one such study, women were given watermelon juice every day for eight weeks. The women ended up reducing their body weight and belly fat significantly more than those who were not given the watermelon juice. So add more tomatoes to your diet by topping a salad or using in soups and sauces, and enjoy a cup of cubed watermelon with breakfast or as a midday snack.

5. Keep up the Cardio

Everybody has a six pack; whether or not you can see it depends on how much fat it’s hiding behind. The best way to shed that extra layer around your abdomen is through cardiovascular exercise. As you lose extra fat, your skin will become more taut, and as the fat within your muscles decreases, you will begin to looked more toned. To reach that fat-burning zone, you want to get your heart rate up and keep it up for twenty minutes. For optimal fat-burning, shoot for five intense, twenty minute cardio sessions each week.

6. Target Your Core

Instead of doing endless sets of crunches which only work the rectus abdominis (the largest abdominal muscle), you need to pay attention to the other muscles that make up your core as well, such as your obliques and transversus abdominis (your “lower abs”). Target your core as a whole with moves such as medicine ball slams, planks, dumbbell side bends, sit-ups with a medicine ball toss, and twisting crunches. For more information on core strengthening moves and how to perform them properly, check out www.exrx.net.

7. Engage Your Abs

This is an easy little trick that you can do in and out of the gym. While working out in the gym, keep your back straight and tighten your abs during both cardio and weight training exercises. This way, even if you aren’t doing ab-specific workouts that day, you will still be engaging those abdominal muscles. When you’re not at the gym, practice good posture while standing and sitting, and keep those abs tight. Not only will you look better by standing up straighter, you’ll be getting in a little extra ab work too.

8. Stave Off Stress

Stress activates the secretion of cortisol, a hormone in our bodies that, at prolonged increased levels can lead to higher blood pressure, higher levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol), and ultimately, more belly fat. To keep cortisol levels under control, you need to learn to manage your stress levels in a healthy way. Whether it’s yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, or treating yourself to a monthly massage, be sure to find a stress reliever that keeps you cool under pressure.

9. Rest Up

Lack of sleep is another factor that can negatively affect your body’s cortisol levels. Not getting enough shut-eye messes with your body’s natural biorhythms, which can also trigger cravings for sugar and fatty foods. Not only that, but the longer you are up during the day, the more you’ll likely eat. That said, get 7 to 8 hours a night when possible.

10. Beware the Booze

While alcohol isn’t the only culprit in developing the dreaded “beer belly,” there is something to the saying. When you drink alcohol, your body burns that off first, meaning that it blocks your body’s ability to burn fat. Add to that the fact that when drinking, we don’t always use our best judgement when choosing what foods to eat, and often eat more or less healthy foods than we typically would, and you have a recipe for belly fat. The best thing you can do is stick to the USDA Dietary Guidelines for alcohol consumption: one drink per day for women, and two for men.

One Last Word…

The most important thing to remember is that there is no magical pill for toning your tummy. If there were, we’d all be on it. It takes hard work and a lot of patience to get the results you desire. So skip the pills and powders and contraptions that claim to magically melt away your muffin top, and remember that diet and exercise are the only real keys to success.

Just….don’t.

 

 

An Extra Excuse to Exercise: 9 Hidden Health Benefits You May Not Know About

We all know that exercise is good for us in many ways. It helps us to manage our weight, burn fat, build strength and endurance, and ultimately helps us to lead longer, healthier lives. But there are also lots of hidden benefits to working out that you may not be as aware of. For example, a recent study conducted by the Human Performance Lab at Appalachian State University showed that active people take 25 to 50% less sick days per year than those who are sedentary, and they recover from illnesses such as the common cold an average of three days faster than their inactive counterparts. And that’s not all; exercise has been found to reduce the risk of other diseases such as Alzheimer’s and certain types of cancer, and has also been found to reduce symptoms of depression. So if you’re in need of a little extra push to hit the gym this post-holiday week, here are 9 more reasons why you should.

1. Longer Life:

While most people know that exercise helps to combat heart related illnesses and diabetes, it has also been discovered to combat the ongoing damage done to cells in the body over time, which can contribute to other chronic diseases. Regular activity strengthens the immune system, which helps the body to ward off both serious and common ailments. Even people who are not considered to be overweight should be working out for this reason. A survey conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine found that only 4 out of 10 doctors talk about exercising for longevity with their patients, but it is important that people know that they should be working out not just for weight management, but for a longer life as well. Guidelines developed by the Department of Health and Human Services suggest 2 1/2 hours of moderate physical activity or 1 1/4 hours of vigorous activity per week to get the benefits.

2. Sexier Skin:

Circulation is increased during exercise, which helps blood to deliver nutrients to the skin cells and remove toxins such as free radicals.  This helps to rid the skin of impurities and give you that healthy glow. Just be sure to care for your skin properly during your workout by using sunscreen if exercising outdoors and washing your face post-workout to keep sweat from clogging your pores.

3. A Sunnier Disposition:

You’ve probably heard that exercise releases endorphins, the brain’s “feel-good” chemical, but it can even alleviate symptoms among those who suffer from depression. Studies have proven that clinically depressed people who began an exercise regimen began to feel a significant drop in their symptoms without the use of anti-depressants.

Exercise also decreases the physical and mental symptoms of stress, which can greatly improve your mood. While working out, the hormone norepinephrine is released, which moderates the brain’s response to stress, helping you to stay positive under pressure.

Finally, exercise can give your self-esteem a boost. Regardless of your weight, size, or how recently you started a new fitness routine, working out improves your perception of your own attractiveness. And when we feel like we look good, we tend to feel good too.

4. A Brain Boost:

Regular physical activity actually increases cell production in the hippocampus region of the brain, which is the part responsible for learning and memory. Studies in children have discovered that kids who are more active tend to do better in school, and this finding translates to adults too, especially later on in life. Exercise can help prevent cognitive decline and keep our minds sharp as we age. It can even help prevent cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

5. Productivity Power:

Along with the mental benefits of exercise like reduced stress and mental sharpness, increased productivity is another great result of physical fitness. Workers who exercise regularly are proven to be more productive and have more energy throughout the day than their less active co-workers. They’re also more creative; exercise has been found to increase creativity for up to tw0 hours post-workout. Who needs a better reason to hit the gym during lunch today?!

6. A More…Regular Schedule:

It sounds weird (and kind of gross!) but physical activity increases contractions in the intestinal walls, which in turn helps move things along the intestinal tract more quickly, keeping you more regular and helping to prevent constipation and the stomachaches and bloating that goes along with it.

He never misses a workout!

7. A Sound Sleep:

Like diet and exercise, sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. For many Americans however, falling asleep and staying asleep can be a struggle, especially with busy schedules and daily to-do lists getting in the way. As part of a study conducted at Northwestern University, participants were asked to rate their quality of sleep before beginning an exercise regimen and then again after they began working out regularly. The ratings went from poor quality of sleep to good quality in almost all of the participants, and they also reported lower levels of drowsiness during the day. Exercise also helps reduce stress levels, which in turn can help you to clear your mind when it’s time to hit the sheets.

8. Healthier Habits:

After a serious sweat session at the gym, you’re not likely to head straight to McDonald’s for a double cheeseburger and fries, right? After all, who would want to undo all that hard work? When you exercise, you tend to feel healthier, and in turn you want to do other healthy things such as eating better and watching your portion sizes. It’s true that diet and exercise need to go hand in hand, but it’s so much easier to get your diet on track when you’re logging in quality time at the gym.

9. New Friends:

It’s always great to meet new people, and joining a fitness class or boot camp can be a great way to meet others with similar interests in weight loss and fitness. By having people to talk to about your goals, share healthy recipes, and hold you accountable to come to the classes, you’ll be more likely to stick with a program and you’ll have a few new friends to boot. The goal at Firefighter Fitness is to create a community of people who can help each other reach their goals, and have fun doing it!

 

 

 

 

Diet Derailers: Why that Weight Just Won’t Go!

You’ve been eating healthy, hitting the gym on a regular basis, and yet still can’t seem to get rid of those last few pounds. So, what gives? While the formula for weight loss is simple: eat better, eat less, move more, there are a few common mistakes that people make that can end up standing between them and their goals. Becoming aware of these things can help you to make smarter decisions in the future and finally shed those extra pounds. Check out our list of common diet dilemmas and exercise errors and our solutions to help fix the problem, and put the pudge away for good!

1. You’re not eating as healthy as you think you are.

Sure, you’re avoiding the “bad” foods: chips, cookies, candy, etc., but how do you know just how healthy you’re actually eating? If you go out to eat often, there are likely some extra calories hiding in that seemingly nutritious dish. For example, you decide to go with a side of veggies instead of your usual order of fries. Sounds pretty good, right? Sure, it’s better than the fries, but those veggies may be grilled up in a vat of butter, adding unwanted calories and fat to an unknowing you. Be specific when ordering so that you know what’s going into your food. Remember that the word “drizzled” means “dunked,” and “sprinkled” means “smothered.” Restaurants use a lot more of an ingredient than you may think. Also, check yourself when cooking at home to make sure you’re not guilty of adding unwanted calories to your healthy meals. Get rid of the butter, vegetable oils, and heavy dressings, and lighten up with margarine, olive oil, and spices. Check out our spice article for more info on healthy seasonings you can use to spare the fat without sacrificing flavor.

 Your salad’s no good if you smother these on top!

2. Your portions are super-sized.

One thing a lot of people don’t realize is how small portion sizes actually are. Restaurant servings are often two or three times larger than what a portion should really look like, and it’s easy to use similar serving sizes when cooking at home. A good rule of thumb is to visually divide your plate into thirds. Protein and carbs should each make up 1/4 of the plate, and veggies should take up the other half. Another good idea is to use a smaller plate. It may sound silly, but I often use my salad plates rather than my dinner plates at home so I won’t accidentally overdo it when serving myself. Also, be sure to read the nutrition labels on food packages, so you can see what a serving of each food item is. Take cereal, for example. The calorie content may be 100 calories per serving, but the serving size is 2/3 of a cup. If you’re dumping half the box into your bowl each morning, you could be adding a couple hundred calories to your daily intake without even realizing it. Read those labels!

um…eating for two?

3. You’re over-fueling post-workout.

I actually hear this one a lot: “I don’t want to work out because I’ll be hungrier during the day and I’ll eat more, so then I won’t end up losing weight.” I apologize if you’ve used this excuse, but that’s really all it is…an excuse. Sure, you need to fuel your body properly before and after exercising in order to reap the benefits. However, unless you’re training for the Olympics, your body really doesn’t need much more than it did before you started hitting the gym. There are calorie calculators online that will help you to determine how many calories you need daily based on your activity level and weight loss goals. Check out: http://www.cancer.org/healthy/toolsandcalculators/calculators/app/calorie-counter-calculator to see how much you really need to eat each day.

It’s ok, she worked out today.

4. You succumb to the “snack attack.”

So, you eat three healthy meals a day, and that’s great! But what about that handful of M&Ms you snagged from the office candy jar this morning? What about that trip to the soda machine for that afternoon pick-me-up? What about the extra bites of food you tasted while fixing dinner for your family? Though you may not realize it, these things add up. Even if you eat healthy, mindless snacking can derail your diet and put the pause button on your weight loss. So check yourself. Do you find yourself casually snacking on whatever goodie that’s been left in the office break room? Do you end up grazing the fridge for a snack while watching TV? If so, try to be more cautious of the times you are most at risk for mindless snacking. Try chewing a piece of gum to distract you, and stay away from areas such as the snack machines where you may be tempted to sneak a snack. Also, you may want to just remove unhealthy snack items from your house or desk, or at least buy them in individually wrapped portions to prevent you from overeating.

Back away from the snack foods!

5. You watch what you eat, but not what you drink.

This rule is no one’s favorite, but what you drink definitely has an effect on your weight loss. Obviously, alcohol can be a major diet deterrent, depending on what and how much you drink. I’m not saying you have to sacrifice your social life, but be aware of how many drinks you are having, and opt for beer, wine, or calorie-free mixers instead of the sugary stuff. Alcohol isn’t the only culprit, however. If you’re a coffee drinker, be mindful of what you’re adding to that morning cup of java. Sugar and creamer can pack on the calories, especially if you have more than one cup a day. Also, limit (or better, eliminate) juices, energy and sports drinks, as they contain added sugars and calories that can really add up.

6. You avoid the weight room like the plague.

A common misconception about women and weight lifting is that if they do it, they’ll bulk up, so they should stick to cardio if they want to lose weight. Wrong. Sure, cardio burns calories and is thus an important part of a fitness regimen, but you need a combo of both cardio and weight training to slim down and tone up. Weight training is important for women in particular, because it increases bone density and can help prevent osteoporosis later in life. So instead of piddling around on the elliptical for an hour, try incorporating some basic weight training into your routine.

He’ll be losing weight in no time!

7. You diet, but don’t exercise, or vice-versa.

This one seems obvious, but it’s one I encounter on a pretty regular basis. You want to lose weight, so you just go on a diet. Or you hire a trainer or purchase a gym membership, but you fail to change your eating habits. This will stop weight loss dead in its tracks. While you may lose weight to a point, you cannot reach your goals without both diet and exercise. If you find yourself doing one and not the other, try incorporating both into your routine, and you will start seeing results.

Ya gotta have both!