No Weight Loss Willpower? Start Setting Small Goals

Breaking down obstacles into small goals makes achieving them easier. Setting small goals helps you lose weight and keep it off.

Hopscotch

Dipped your hand in the candy bowl? Ordered a double scoop instead of a single? Think it’s because you’ve go no will power? Think again.

Big goals — say, losing 50 pounds — are much more easily accomplished by breaking them down into many smaller goals. Setting and achieving daily and weekly goals builds your self confidence and helps you stay focused. Done in small steps, big goals don’t seem so intimidating, and willpower (or lack thereof) doesn’t seem so daunting.

So, for example, instead of starting your diet by swearing off all carbs and exercising an hour a day, you might start by eliminating simple carbs (white carbs, candy, cake) and doing 10-20 minutes of exercise a day. After a couple of weeks, once you’ve achieved those goals, you might set two more small goals such as switching from diet soda to water and increasing your exercise to 20-30 minutes a day. Once those goals are achieved, you’ll feel successful and more motivated to keep going.

So, it’s set small goal. Accomplish goal. Feel good. Repeat.

Willpower’s got nothing on you.

Photo credit: FCC, Jan Tik

5 Ways to Fend Off Cravings

5 ways to fend off food cravings.

Everyone, including your spinning instructor, succumbs to cravings, even if she won’t admit it.

Here are five ways to fend off food cravings:

1.  Procrastinate: You know you’re good at this. Tell yourself you’ll eat it later and do something else. Most times, you won’t get back to it.

2. Toss it: The peanut M&Ms you hid behind the Kashi cereal in your pantry are calling you. Throw them away, and take the trash out. Then see #3.

3. Get moving: When a craving grips you, walk your dog, turn on your Wii Just Dance, or tackle that mountain of clutter on your desk. You’ll feel self-righteous, which is a powerful antidote to food cravings.

4. Drink up: Mild dehydration can cause feelings of hunger. Drink a tall glass of cool water, wait 10 minutes, and see if that craving doesn’t go away

5. Change your habits: Cravings are often psychological. So remove food triggers. Associate Jay Leno with a nightly bowl of ice cream? Change up your routine to break the pattern.

How about you? Got strategies that work? Share them with us below.

Photo credit: FCC, christopher frier brown

Will Eating Red Meat Make My Hair Grow?

Eating more red meat will not significantly affect your hair growth. Here’s what you should do.

Blond long-haired young lady woman girl watching the surfers at Morro Bay, CA

No. Unless you’re malnourished, eating more steak or other protein won’t significantly affect your hair growth. For your hair to grow you need to be free of disease, have your stress under control, and eat a well balanced diet.

Iron and biotin are essential for hair growth. If you’re a vegetarian or you don’t have a healthy diet, then consider iron and biotin supplements. And if you smoke, even occasionally, stop.

Photo credit, FCC, Mike Baird.

 

Does Eating Pizza Cause Acne?

Does Pizza Cause Acne?

School is just around the corner and this has been a popular question in my office this week. My mother always said it did, but does eating pizza really cause acne?

Yes, it does.

Eating simple carbohydrates such as white bread, bagels, and pizza can worsen acne. Simple carbohydrates are high-glycemic foods — they cause spikes in your blood sugar because the food is quickly digested then dumped into your blood stream. The resulting high blood sugar causes hormonal changes and inflammation that then triggers acne.

To tame your acne this school-year, change to a low-glycemic diet. Eat complex carbohydrates that are digested slowly avoiding sugar spikes and hormone changes. Here are three tips for an acne-busting diet:

  • Cut out high-glycemic foods such as blended coffee drinks, soft drinks, energy drinks, pasta, pastries, baguettes, watermelon, mangoes and potatoes.
  • Choose high fiber veggies such as asparagus, artichokes, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, leafy greens, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes and legumes such as black beans, chick peas, pinto beans, lentils and soy beans.  Eat low-glycemic fruits such as apples, berries, grapefruit, pears, plums and oranges.
  • Avoid processed flours. Instead eat 100% whole grains such as oats, barley, brown rice, millet, quinoa, wild rice, whole wheat pasta and bulgur.
Follow these tips and you be looking (and feeling) much better for your first co-ed dance this year.
Photo: tomek.pl, flickr

The Truth About Eating Antioxidant Foods For Your Skin

“Hi everyone. I’m @dermdoc. It’s been 3 weeks since my last acai berry shake.”

It’s been 4 months since I ate a blueberry. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a shot of pomegranate juice. Back when I was consuming 18 pounds of antioxidants a day, I used to look like this.

Now look at me.

Don’t let this happen to you! Eat your blueberries (only wild, please). Snack on some walnuts (just the red ones). And don’t forget your green tea (the white kind only). Otherwise you’ll be a wrinkled, spotted, mess; plus, you’ll die of a heart attack.

I love food. I love to eat local farmers’ market produce, I eat lots of fish and olive oil, and I even drink an occasional smoothie. But I don’t eat this way because it keeps me looking young. I eat real food because I enjoy it, because it tastes good, and because it makes me feel good. There are health benefits to eating well, including perhaps some advantages for your skin. But commonly held beliefs that eating antioxidant-rich foods will keep you looking young and cancer-free are still far from being scientifically proven.

So if you’re feeling guilty because your tightened family budget doesn’t allow you to buy the latest antioxidant berry, then stop it. Below is a list of all the scientific research (in people) that showed eating antioxidant-rich foods made people look younger, smoothed their wrinkles, or reduced their risk for skin cancer:

Yup. That’s all of them.

“Eat real food. Mostly plants. Wear your sunscreen.” – @dermdoc

Photos: Leedav (berries) and Tetsumo (old man), both from flickr.

Cellulite: What Is It? How Can You Treat It?

Spring is here. You can finally stop salting your icy sidewalk and start focusing on summer issues, like cellulite.

What is cellulite?

It’s the dimpling and nodularity that occurs in women on the thighs, pelvis and abdomen. Cellulite is the result of fat pouching out of holes in the connective tissue on the skin. It occurs in 98% of girls and women post puberty. That’s right. Essentially all females have cellulite. It is a normal characteristic of sexually mature women.

Here’s what cellulite is not:

  • Cellulite is not fat. It is the appearance of the superficial fat held loosely beneath the skin. The fat is held more tightly in men which is why we do not develop cellulite.
  • Obesity doesn’t cause cellulite. Look around and you will see that skinny women have cellulite (in real life anyway).
  • Cellulite is not an accumulation of toxins or fluids; it is normal fat.

How Can You Get Rid of Cellulite?

The best treatments for cellulite have at most shown mild improvements in the appearance. Unfortunately, in almost all cases, the improvements are not maintained over time. This is because it is hard to change the loose connective fibers under the skin, which are the primary cause.

  • Weight loss can improve cellulite, but not always. Losing weight can make the skin sag, and weight loss has been shown to actually worsen the appearance of cellulite in some women.
  • Endermologie is a kneading system (like my grandmother would knead the pizza dough). Although there is some evidence it can reduce thigh circumference, how long the effects last is questionable.
  • Liposuction removes fat through suction. It is not a good treatment for cellulite because the fat is too superficial. Liposuction combined with a laser to treat cellulite sounds interesting, but has not been shown to work better than ordinary liposuction.
  • Subcision, which targets the connective tissue bands by snipping them, is a great idea, but in practice has not been shown to be very effective. There is some concern that snipping the connective fibers might actually make the fat looser, worsening the problem.
  • Mesotherapy is the injection of medications under the skin to dissolve the fat. Although it has worked for some, the results are unpredictable and can cause adverse side effects such as bruising or pain.
  • Radiofrequency treatments like TriActive or VelaSmooth generate heat under the skin damaging the fat and connective tissue, hopefully smoothing the cellulite. Improvements have been reported, but no long term efficacy has been demonstrated.
  • Herbal creams have been studied and had no effect on cellulite. It is unlikely that any topical treatment can penetrate far enough down and be potent enough to have any effect.
  • Diet has no effect on cellulite.
  • It is possible that regular exercise can improve the circulation of cellulite areas, improving the appearance, but no studies have shown that it has a significant impact. Work out because it is good for you, but stop looking at your behind in the gym mirror.
  • There are some upcoming technologies that are promising. I’ll post about them later.

What Should You Do About Cellulite?

Because it is a normal occurence in women, it’s reasonable to simply tell yourself: “Hey, this is normal!” and stop killing yourself trying to eliminate it. Many women have been pleased with any of the above treatments, but they’re all expensive and likely all temporary. If it is worth spending $500 to have a 50% improvement in your cellulite, then make an appointment with your dermatologist or plastic surgeon to discuss your options.

Keep in mind that your friends or partner might not notice that your cellulite is 50% better (what does 50% better cellulite look like anyway?). If you’re worried that you might be featured in a magazine, don’t fret. You will receive the only known cure for cellulite: Photoshop.

Do you have cellulite? Have you tried to eliminate it? How successful was it?

Photo: Tassoman