Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Treadmill, Cross-Trainer or Exercise Bike: How to Choose?

The post-Christmas blues may long be over, but the desire to shed those extra pounds still lingers on for many. 
With temperatures continuing to hover around an uncomfortable 2 or 3°C on many days, the desire to pull on your running shoes and take to the streets may not be so strong. If you want a way to exercise and get fit but in a warmer and more comfortable environment, why not consider a fitness machine? With just a few minutes set aside to build the machine and place it in your desired location, you’ll soon be looking at a highly convenient way to have a workout session at any time which suits you, without even having to leave the house.

Which type of machine is right for you?
When choosing your new fitness machine, it is important to think about your goals and the reasons behind your desire to start exercising, as this will influence which machine is most suitable for you. Are you perhaps looking for a way to ‘feel fit’, training for an upcoming event or hoping to lose weight? If weight loss is your aim for example, a treadmill or cross-trainer can help you to burn more calories than an exercise bike for example. Therefore it is important to think about your goals and choose your machine accordingly.

treadmill is an excellent way of burning calories, around 100 calories per mile in fact, and will also help you to build your speed and endurance. However, unlike the other options, you will be supporting your own body weight on a treadmill, so is no easy option for beginners. Remember to mix up your speed and your incline when using a treadmill. Speeds generally start at 1-2mph and standard inclination is up to 10%. This gives you the option to vary between sprints on flat ground to a slow, steady, uphill walk, and varying your speed and the incline makes for a better workout overall. Many treadmills now offer much more than basic controls too: we expect to be kept up-to-date with speed, distance travelled and calories burned, but if you are looking for a machine that simply does more, then consider the Domyos TC3 treadmill. The TC3 offers a broad speed range from 1-14 kph and also features a soft belt for excellent cushioning, reducing the impact on your joints. Better still, this treadmill comes with 8 in-built programmes to match your goals, with 4 calorie and 4 performance programmes, and so is an excellent option for a beginner looking to lose weight.

The cross-trainer is a smart option for somebody looking for a near full-body workout. A cross-trainer works 80% of your body’s muscles, including thighs, calf muscles, buttocks, back, chest, biceps and triceps. In terms of burn calories, when used vigourously using the arm poles as well as the foot pedals, the cross-trainer can almost be on a par with the treadmill. It is also an ideal machine for building endurance, developing resistance, as well as for recovery. By adjusting the resistance to meet your needs, you are able to work at a high level without putting unnecessary pressure on your joints. Whereas treadmills can be harsh on the joints if overused, or not used with the suitable footwear, cross-trainers offer a smoother, more fluid motion. The upright position and holding on to the arm poles also helps to strengthen your back and avoids the strain that you may feel when running. For those interested in a top of the range cross-trainer, you may want to consider the Nordictrack E4.1. This machine features a 14kg flywheel (as a general rule, the heavier the flywheel, the smoother the motion, which is essential if used regularly), wide pedals to increase comfort, speakers and 17 in-built programmes, meaning you can simply hop on and select a programme to help you work towards your goal. 

Exercise Bikes
Exercise bikes are a great option for building your overall fitness and endurance. Whilst they will help you to burn calories, they are not as effective for weight loss as either a treadmill or cross-trainer because it fundamentally works out your leg muscles. A very good option for those interested in an indoor fitness bike would be the Domyos VS730. The bike features a 14kg flywheel, offering you a smooth and comfortable ride. It also takes just fifteen minutes to assemble, meaning less time doing DIY and more time to spend doing the sport you love.

Other Fitness Machines
Whilst treadmills, cross-trainers and exercise bikes are the most popular options for people looking to get fit at home, there are a few other options available. These include rowing machines, which are ideal for anybody looking for an intensive workout, as well as stepper machines and hand bikes.

Treadmills, cross-trainers and exercise bikes offer an excellent way into the world of fitness. Each is designed for cardio training, to improve cardiovascular and cardio respiratory condition: to keep you looking good and feeling great. By thinking about which option is most suitable for your needs, you can enjoy great benefits from the comfort of your own home.

Which is your preffered exercise machine? Comment below and let us know.


Monday, 18 April 2016

Cross Trainer vs Treadmill for Weight Loss

In the world of weight loss, there are two very popular pieces of gym equipment to help you burn those calories. Any quality gym or fitness centre you visit will have both treadmills and cross trainers (aka ellipticals) occupying a significant portion of gym space. And in most cases, you’ll see people happily (or not so happily) burning away calories on each machine.
Cross Trainer vs Treadmill for Weight Loss
Most people who have spent some time in a gym or working out have probably given both of these machines a try. After all, they both seem like great tools with great benefits to help burn fat and achieve a weight loss goal. However, there are a pretty good amount of people who want you to believe one is better than the other for your workouts.
In many cases, there are staunch supporters of either side. The ‘Team Treadmill’ supporters say that since a treadmill is essentially a running trainer, it’s a more effective weight loss tool. On the other hand, the ‘Team Elliptical’ people note the features of that equipment’s design make it more optimal for weight loss help – without sacrificing your knees due to lower impact.
So what’s the real answer here? Is a cross trainer good for weight loss? Is an elliptical better than a treadmill? The benefits of these workouts show how different they are in comparison. However, the overall results of both types of machines will likely surprise you.


Elliptical training remains one of the most popular workouts in gyms across the world. Its versatility, range of options and ease of use make it a great tool for beginners up to advanced users.
Understanding your calorie burning results on a cross trainer will vary depending on a few factors:
  •  Your current weight
  • Your level of cardiovascular fitness
  • The intensity level/resistance selected on the machine
  • Whether or not you use the arm handles
  • The amount of time for your workout
Obviously the higher the resistance, the more calories you’ll burn within your workout window.
The primary benefit of elliptical training is precisely that it’s not running. Many people experience joint pain or other issues that prevents them from running. This machine offers a solution with great cardio potential and less impact on your joints.


As most of us know, a treadmill is an effective tool for walking, running, incline training and a variety of other activities. As you adjust the speed and incline, you can increase the overall challenge on a treadmill. This can quickly boost up your potential to burn fat as well.
Much like the cross trainer, your calorie burn on a treadmill will also vary due to a few factors:
  • Your weight & cardiovascular fitness
  • The treadmill speed setting
  • The incline height adjustment
  • Amount of time for your workout
As you improve in your overall running shape, you can increase the speed or challenge yourself with inclines to keep your body effectively burning fat.
Proper running form is obviously essential on these machines – and maintaining it will actually prevent knee and other joint issues. For people strong enough to use it, the treadmill offers some of the best indoor-based training available in fitness.


As most research shows, there are a few striking points that distinguish these two machines based on their calorie-burning potential. According to one study from the Medical College of Wisconsin, treadmills have elliptical training beat in overall calories burned – but just barely. In their study they used a controlled setting to determine their subjects’ average calorie consumption per hour on each machine. Here are the results:
Cross Trainer vs Treadmill Calories Burned
  • Treadmills: average of 705 to 866 calories burned per hour
  • Ellipticals: average of 773 calories burned per hour
While the data shows a bit of a potential advantage to the treadmill, the elliptical is not far behind at all in overall results. This shows a pretty close comparison between the two.
Another study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness conducted a 12 week study with a closer spotlight on burning fat. Researchers took a look at the two machines as well as stair climbers and measured all their fat burning potential.
What these researchers found over their 12 week study was similar to the above-mentioned study. All the machines had a similar physiological effect on the body. All the exercises helped participants burn fat with just about identical cardiovascular results.


Weight Loss

The research may not give a true answer to the question “is an elliptical better than a treadmill?” But the answers make one conclusion abundantly clear: there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the best choice for weight loss.
The truth is that both machines have their advantages when it comes to weight loss. Treadmills always seem like the logical choice for sustained weight loss. After all, a platform that allows continual running can easily contribute to a major weight loss goal.
Despite the typical presumption surrounding a treadmill, however, elliptical machines can pack just as much punch for weight loss as their treadmill counterparts. Many people love using them because they deliver a great workout with less strain on the body – particularly the joints.
In most cases, fitness trainers and exercise physiologists recommend recommend incorporating both of these machines into your fitness routine. Ellipticals can be great when you’re first starting out because they’re simpler and bring less risk for injury. Treadmills are also just as easy to use for beginners, too. Walking is a natural movement and low to moderate intensity while walking on a treadmill is low impact. However, your potential for injury does increase a little faster on a treadmill compared to other cardio equipment.
By using both types of machines, you’ll keep your workouts fresh and keep your body guessing. This type of changeup helps ensure your body won’t over-train in specific muscle areas. Additionally, you can enjoy a much broader range of options when hitting the gym.


Both an elliptical and treadmill are similar in comparison for potential calories burned and weight/fat loss. Both offer great benefits and will yield great workouts. And when paired with a sound nutrition plan, both types of equipment can help you burn fat.
Identify your specific needs, wants and ability to determine which machine is right for you. But change your routine from time to time by using both. In the end, this will only improve your overall results – both to burn fat and to improve your cardiovascular health.


Sunday, 17 April 2016

How to Lose Weight With a Cross Trainer

The cross trainer, also known as an elliptical, is a low impact cardiovascular exercise machine. The machine mimics the movement of cross country skiing, making it the perfect exercise machine for those who have lower body injuries and can't handle the lower body stress that comes with running or jogging. If you are looking to lose weight but have injury issues or simply don't like the treadmill, the elliptical might be the cardio machine for you.

Follow the Guidelines

When it comes to getting healthy, the American Heart Association offers some helpful advice. Its health guidelines suggest 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week, which can be easily accomplished on the cross trainer. According to Harvard Medical School, a 155-pound person burns roughly 335 calories in 30 minutes on the elliptical. If you are following the guidelines and using the elliptical five days a week for 30 minutes each time, you should be burning plenty of excess calories. Paired with a healthy diet, this could help you drop the unwanted pounds.

Interval Training

Interval training involves short bursts of speed followed by longer periods of recovery for the course of a workout. An example of an interval workout would be to add an increase in pace for a minute followed by two minutes of a slower speed. Interval training causes your heart rate to increase when your speed on the elliptical machine increases, which in turn helps you to burn more calories. Interval training also allows you to burn the same amount of calories as a steady state workout in half the time.

Bump Up the Resistance

Almost every elliptical machine allows you the option to make the workout harder by changing the resistance. When you heighten the resistance on the elliptical you are making it harder for yourself to push through the pedals with your legs and arms. This not only makes your heart work harder and increases your calorie burn but also engages your muscles more, especially challenging your lower body.

Mix Up Intervals With Resistance

The best way to lose weight is to keep your body guessing. When you perform the same exercise week after week, your body starts to become accustomed to it and is no longer challenged by it. By pairing intervals with higher resistance on the elliptical you are challenging your body to something that it is not used to. This causes your heart and muscles to work harder, keeping your calorie burn high and your body changing.



Saturday, 16 April 2016

5 Ways to Boost your Cross Trainer Workout

If you’re looking for a piece of exercise equipment that will give you a great cardio workout and improve your strength and muscle tone, the cross trainer is your go-to machine. 
Creating a motion best described as ‘like cross-country skiing’, the cross trainer targets almost every major muscle group in your body, including the arms, shoulders, back, thighs, calves, abdominals, and of course, the butt. Unlike running, it doesn’t place anywhere near the same amount of stress on your joints. And when used at a high level of intensity, it can burn up to 38 kilojoules (9 calories) per minute – need we say more?
But that doesn’t mean you can just jump on a cross trainer and reap the rewards; more than any other machine, you really need to focus on the exercise you’re doing to get the benefits. Unlike the treadmill, where you can set the speed and incline and allow your mind to wander while your legs keep pace, the cross trainer requires constant effort on your behalf to maintain your speed and keep the momentum going.
One of the ways you can keep your focus is by adding variety to your workout. By doing so, you’ll also boost the intensity, burn more kilojoules, and tone and sculpt different muscles in your body. Here’s how to do it:

1. Add some intervals to boost your fitness

Interval training is the quickest way to boost your cardiovascular fitness, and it’s so easy to do on a cross trainer. The principle of interval training is to repeat a cycle of short, high intensity bursts of speed, with slow, recovery phases. Because your fitness is based on the rate at which you recover, continuing to practice this rotation of exercise and recovery trains your body to recover more efficiently, boosting your fitness levels.
To add intervals to your cross trainer workout, simply add periods of faster pedalling. Try this: after a five minute warm up, pedal for one minute as fast as you can. Use the next two to three minutes to recover at a normal pace, then repeat. As you get fitter, you can increase the amount of time you spend pedalling at top speed and decrease your rest periods.
Interval training has also been proven to boost your metabolism during the time after your workout, helping you burn more kilojoules than exercise performed at a steady pace.

2. Drop your arms to work your core

By strengthening your core muscles – the abdominals, lower back, thoracic and cervical region of the spine – you can improve your stability and posture, create a leaner looking waistline, and dramatically decrease the symptoms of lower back pain.
Although we often think of ab crunches and planks when we think of core strength, a cross trainer can provide an effective core-strengthening workout as well. By letting go of the handles, you force yourself to engage your abdominal and core muscles to maintain your balance – a leaner, stronger, you, is closer than you think.

3. Pedal backwards to boost your thigh tone

If you want to challenge your balance, improve your agility, and give your quads a workout they won’t soon forget, give backwards pedalling a go. By pedalling backwards, you’ll immediately feel the difference as your body changes the way it uses its muscles to work the backwards motion.
Tip: For a real thigh burner, let go of the handles and squat down into your legs as you continue to pedal backwards. It will burn, so keep it short and aim for around 30 seconds, before your legs start to tire and you lose your form. Throw a few of these into your cross trainer workout every few minutes and you’ll quickly notice the difference to your upper legs and butt!

4. Push and pull on the handlebars for upper body toning

To tone your arms, chest, shoulders and back, simply grab onto the handlebars, stop using your legs to pedal, and begin pushing and pulling with your arms to power the machine. Ensure you keep a straight back to avoid injury; you may have to drop the resistance to do so. The push motion will work your chest and triceps more, while the pull motion will give your biceps, shoulders and back more of a workout. Intersperse two to three intervals of upper body training throughout your workout for the best results.

5. Increase the resistance to improve your strength and burn more kilojoules

It’s really quite simple, if you want to strengthen your upper and lower body and burn more kilojoules, turn the resistance up! The higher the resistance, the more effort your body needs to exert to continue pedalling, the more strength you build and the more kilojoules you burn. So up that dial and keep going!


Friday, 15 April 2016

The Mindset for Successful Weight Loss

NO! This article is not going to say that weight loss is all about emotions!
It’s more about exploring the changing mindsets of those people who are successful in lasting weight loss:
  1. as they were putting on weight
  2. as they were trying to change and trying to lose weight to achieve their target weight
  3. as they adapted to their new weight and started witnessing their mindset change
So what is mindset? (The word isn’t in the Oxford Dictionary!) Let’s loosely describe it as a combination of your worldview about a subject, any biases and beliefs, and particularly the habits that attach to those beliefs.
With food, does the belief or the habit come first? Perhaps the person never thought about it, but just repeatedly ate something and got into the habit, and so they subconsciously thought that it was OK.The habit is like another one we’re all familiar with: have you ever planned to drive somewhere after work, but found yourself heading home as the habit was automatic? It’s the same with food choices; often a conscious decision is not made and so habit rules.
1. The Mindset that Led to Weight Gain
Often this is a melting pot of two ingredients; mindlessness and false beliefs. Mindlessness is when the person has been just eating whatever food they wanted or was easily available, and actually not being consciously aware of their food choices. False beliefs about food and drinks can be based upon thinking that some food is ‘good for me’ but in reality it is helping the body store fat. 
2. Mindset during the start of the weight loss journey
This is a time when success depends on the willingness to be teachable and trust the teacher, or at least the program. When the program is not a ‘one size fits all’ but rather a step-by-step process, like the Healthy Inspirations programs, success can be tailored to the individual and that gives the confidence to employ a positive mindset. 
Often various FEARs (False Evidence Appearing Real) need to be faced as the jump into the weight loss pool is taken. Some might fear failing. Others might fear succeeding. The good news is that we all have fears when it comes to any change process. Saying “hello” to those fears and simply taking one step and then the next, will see those fears dissipate.
3. Mindset once a personal weight loss goal has been achieved
This is when the movement starts going from conscious actions and decisions about food and exercise choices to new rituals and habits. Be warned that there will be forces within (the body and the mind) that might try to drag you back. There will also be environmental forces (places and people) who will try to drag you back – so you have to stay conscious of your new habits and rituals.
When the weight loss process has provided the desired outcome, it makes sense to stick with that process regardless of what other people say is right. The reality is that those who have been successful have discovered what is right for their body and their mind. Something else might be right for another person, so keep in mind that well-meaning advice and comments are based on what others perceive is right for them.

Wherever you are on your journey, be aware of the change process and your current mindset, and always be willing to ask for help along the way.


Thursday, 14 April 2016

9 Ways to Mentally Prepare for Weight Loss

Before you get to enjoy the physical changes that come with healthy weight loss, you first must undergo a mental makeover that helps you break your old bad habits. The key to beginning your transformation is thinking of it properly — you want a true lifestyle change instead of a lose-weight-quick crash diet. Think of your goal as weight control and remember that you want to stick to your new healthy diet for the foreseeable future.
“Framing your diet as weight control makes it long-term. It’s not as dramatic or drastic a push to get yourself to a certain weight at any cost,” Brian Quebbemann, MD, founder of the NEW (Nutrition, Exercise, Wellness) Program in Newport Beach, Calif., says. If you “diet” and set unrealistic expectations, you’ll probably regain any weight lost as soon as you go off the plan. But if you make attainable lifestyle changes, the lost pounds will stay away.
Before you jump into your new lifestyle, prep properly by following this mental checklist for success.

State Your Weight Loss Goals

Having the right mind-set starts with knowing why you want to lose weight. It could be as simple as wanting to look and feel better — dragging around 30 extra pounds makes you tired and lethargic and uncomfortable in your clothes. Or you may have specific health needs, such as lowering your risk for diabetes or reducing high blood pressure. Getting psyched up about the very real rewards of weight loss builds motivation that makes it easier to stick to your meal plan and exercise routine, explains Heather Bauer, RD, author of Bread Is the Devil: Win the Weight Loss Battle by Taking Control of Your Diet Demons.

Hire a Dietitian

When you’re ready to lose weight for life, make an appointment to see a registered dietitian, advises Jackie Newgent, RD, a New York City-based nutritionist, author of Big Green Cookbook, and a healthy-cooking instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education. “You can follow any diet you want and lose weight,” she says, “but it might not be the best diet for you or for your health.”
Working with a dietitian will enable you to find a weight-loss program that best fits your lifestyle, your dietary needs, and any medical conditions you have and one that includes healthy foods you like and will want to eat. “The reason most people fall off the wagon is because they’ve chosen a plan that’s not for them,” Newgent says. A dietitian can also help you get mentally ready for the challenge ahead.
If you’re worried about the cost, check with your insurance company. Some plans provide reimbursement for nutrition counseling.

Ink Your Weight Loss Meal Plan

Once you’ve decided on a weight-loss plan, map out all the steps needed to implement it. At the beginning of each week, create a meal plan for your diet that you’ll use as your guide for grocery shopping, cooking, eating out, and avoiding unplanned indulgences. “Having that plan helps you reach for the right foods,” Newgent says. If you know you’ll be meeting friends for dinner at a restaurant, Bauer suggests going online to look at the menu. Plan what you will order to avoid being tempted when you get there. Pick two healthy entrees, she says, so that if the restaurant is out of your first choice, you’re not stuck.

Invest in a Personal Trainer

Exercise is an essential part of any weight-loss program, says Scott White, a personal trainer in Scottsdale, Ariz. But when most people think about weight loss, they think about what foods they will eat rather than what exercises they will do — and skipping exercise could be sabotaging their dietary efforts. Working with a trainer — or just setting up a free consultation through your gym — will help you map out an exercise routine that you enjoy and find ways to fit it into your busy schedule, White says. At the beginning of each week, mark every workout session in your calendar, just as you would a hairdresser or dentist appointment — you’re more likely to stick to your plan when you see it in black and white.

Prepare to Log Your Food and Fitness Activities

Whether you use an online tool, a mobile app, or simple pen and paper (maybe this is the excuse you’ve been waiting for to get that iPad!), logging your diet and exercise activity is key to weight-loss success. Whichever format you choose, promise yourself to religiously outline and track every aspect of your weight loss process, from every bite you take to every rep in your exercise routine. If you’re faithful about recording what you eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, you’ll see patterns and routines emerge. You can analyze them to find solutions to the problems that have derailed your previous efforts to lose weight, Bauer says.

Set a Realistic Timetable for Weight Loss

The more realistic you are about your weight-loss goals, the more likely you are to reach them. Remember that you’re developing a lifelong strategy, so don’t set unattainable time limits — forget the concept of dropping 10 pounds in 10 days. And while you might need to ultimately lose 50 pounds, that goal can be overwhelming at first, Quebbemann says. A better mind-set is to focus on losing 1 to 2 pounds a week, and maintaining that consistent rate of weight loss over weeks if not months.
Approach exercise goals the same way. If you haven’t exercised for a while, starting off running a marathon would be a huge mistake — if you’re out of shape, even running a mile on your first day could backfire. Start small: Decide that you’ll walk for 15 to 30 minutes five times a week, and then ramp up your schedule as you make measurable progress.

Believe in Yourself

You may have failed with weight loss in the past, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to fail now. Sure, there will be days ahead when you’ll eat more than you should or skip a planned workout, but it’s essential to stay positive and move forward with your plan. Realize that your weight-loss goals will take time to achieve, but believe that you can go the distance one milestone at a time, Newgent suggests. Even losing 5 pounds is good for your health and can give you the impetus to work toward the next 5-pound drop. Recognize that weight loss rarely occurs in a straight line, and if you overeat one day, don’t berate yourself — just get back on your program at the very next meal.

Pick Motivating Rewards

After breaking your weight-loss goals into attainable increments, decide on a small reward you’ll give yourself for reaching each one, Quebbemann suggests. No, not a cupcake from your favorite bakery — don’t repeat old patterns by making it a food reward. Instead, choose other types of favorite treats, such as getting a relaxing massage or pedicure, going to a concert, or buying a new fashion accessory that helps you break away from your “fat clothes.” Write your rewards down as part of your master plan, just as you do your diet and exercise routine, Newgent says.

Create a Weight Loss Support Network

Everything is easier when you have the support and encouragement of family and friends, and that includes embarking on a new weight-loss lifestyle. You don’t have to announce your diet to the world, but you should confide in those closest to you, like your lunch group at work. Tell them why you’re trying to eat healthy and how they can help you stay on track, Bauer says. If you let them know how much reaching your weight-loss goals means to you, they’ll want to do what they can to help. And if you have a friend who is trying to lose weight too, make a pact to text each other at crucial times during the day, and you’ll both stay on track.


Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Are Your Friends a Fat Influence?

Research shows that your ability to lose weight now 

hinges on who you hang out with

Friends Drinking

Chances are, you've dined with a friend and had a scenario like this unfold: You start salivating over the idea of ordering linguine carbonara, but tell yourself, Oh, I really shouldn't. Then your friend requests that very dish before snapping the menu shut and handing it to the waiter. "Make it two," you say. And there goes your diet.

Friends' health decisions have a funny way of rubbing off on us. So important is their power that the World Health Organization lists them as a determinant of health, as big a factor as genetics and income level. In fact, understanding how pals shape one another's health behavior has top billing in Healthy People 2010, the government's plan for improving national well-being.
Research has found that smoking, deciding to get the flu shot, and taking vitamins are all socially contagious behaviors. But where our friends have perhaps the most influence is on how much we eat, drink, and exercise.

The (Fudge) Ripple Effect
Having a buddy who packs on pounds makes you 57 percent more likely to do so yourself, according to the key findings of James Fowler, Ph.D., a professor at the University of California at San Diego, and Nicholas Christakis, M.D., Ph.D., a sociology professor at Harvard, who have studied social networks for 10 years. "Consciously or unconsciously, people look to others when deciding what and how much to eat, and how much weight is too much," says Fowler.

So while you weren't planning to even glance at the dessert menu, you might change your mind when everyone else orders brownie sundaes. In some cases, we may even seek out relationships that allow us to indulge, says Susan Bowerman, R.D., of UCLA's Center for Human Nutrition. "Many women have 'food friends' they can call up to say, 'I had a lousy day and some fried mozzarella sticks sure would make me feel better.'"
Your social circle influences your drinking habits too. Alcohol is a notorious diet buster (if you can resist a nacho after a margarita, bless you), and according to University of Pennsylvania researchers, drinking is among the "risk behaviors" that they found study participants were twice as likely to engage in if their friends did.
Part of the reason we're so easily swayed may be hardwired. Gregory Berns, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and economics at Emory University, found that when others influence us, the area of our brain that makes conscious decisions is not activated. Instead, the occipital lobe, where vision originates, lights up. Translation: We focus on what we see other people doing (like biting into a cupcake), not what we know is right for ourselves (biting into an apple).

Unhealthy Competition
Copycatting isn't always bad for your waistline. Research has found that you are just as likely to pick up good habits from pals. If everyone is ordering salad, do you want to be the one to splurge on a burger and fries? Same goes for booze. "We want to behave appropriately, to make a good impression on others," says Patricia Pliner, Ph.D., professor at the University of Toronto at Mississauga.

Sounds admirable, right? Well, there's often a subtext in these civilized dinner scenes. When two girlfriends are competitive with each other—over guys, work, grades—it can manifest at the table. Undereating is a form of one-upmanship. In her study, Pliner found that when women competed against each other in a variety of skills, those who thought they were losing chose lighter entrees than their rivals at lunchtime. "It was their way of winning," Pliner says. In another study, researchers found that even after being literally starved for more than 24 hours, women would consume only as much food (in some cases, as little as 300 calories) as their companions did.
Things can get especially ugly when friends try to sabotage each other—for instance, pressuring a dieting pal to go ahead and order those french fries or skip the gym. "We don't want to be reminded of our own struggles with weight by watching a healthy eater make careful choices," Bowerman says. "We want her to join our club."

Set Your Own Agenda
Hanging with a calorie-conscious crew may keep you on the slim side, but what happens when you join a new club, move to a new town, or start a new job and begin socializing with a new group—one that eats fruit only if it's in a pie? Hint: You'll need to buy some new jeans. That's why it's important to get into the habit of making your own decisions about food. "Being aware of how others influence us is an important first step," says Brent McFerran, Ph.D., an assistant professor of marketing at the University of British Columbia. "If you recognize where you're likely to follow the crowd, you can correct your course." He recommends pre-committing to your meal when you can: Bring your lunch to work, or if you're eating out, be the one who orders first. You'll find that a little independence will keep you healthier and happier in the long run. 


Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Think Yourself Thin

Are you convinced that your normal-weight frame is...well, fat? By thinking so, you could be packing on the pounds.
New research published in the Journal of Obesity found that normal weight women who perceive themselves as fat are more likely to become fat. In the 10-year study of 1,196 normal-weight teenagers, nearly 6 in 10 women who perceived themselves as fat became overweight (measured by body mass index) within the decade, while only 3 in 10 of those with an accurate body image became overweight.

While a distorted body image might motivate some to hit the gym, the study found that exercise didn't compensate for the effects of a negative self-image. Previous research done on normal-weight adults found similar results: an increase in weight over time in those who perceive themselves as overweight.
One explanation for the weight gain is psychological stress, which has been linked to putting pounds on—especially around the middle. What’s more, we behave according to how we view ourselves. So if we think we are overweight couch potatoes, we are more likely eat unhealthily and generally act like said couch potatoes.
Ready to think yourself thin? Here are five mental tricks for a slimmer self-fulfilling prophecy:
See Your Vision It might seem a little silly, but the results are anything but: "Create a vision board in which you display pictures showing what you want to achieve," says Steve Siebold, motivation expert and author ofDie Fat or Get Tough: 101 Differences in Thinking Between Fat People and Fit People. Seeing a bunch of strong, healthy women on your wall will give you a real goal to work toward. So get clipping on the latest issue of Women's Health (after reading it, of course). Not feeling crafty? Check out our FITspiration Pinterest board.
Write It Down Do you want to lose five pounds? Fit—not squeeze—into your bridesmaid dress by next month? Write out your weight loss goal and how you are going to make it happen, Siebold advises, because a goal without a plan is never a reality. (Follow this personalized fitness plan to lose five pounds fast.)
Do the Dishes Apart from holding less food, smaller dishes make you think you're eating more than you really are. A recent Cornell University study found that people who eat off 6-inch-wide plates think they are eating about 18 percent more than they really are. Meanwhile, people who eat of 12-inch-wide dishes know exactly how much they are putting away (that is, a lot).
Make Fit Friends Ask yourself: Are your friends a fat influence? If they don’t live a healthy lifestyle, they probably are affecting your waistline, Siebold says. In fact, having a pound-packing buddy makes you 57 percent more likely to join them, according to research from the University of California at San Diego and Harvard. You don’t have to break up with your less-fit friends, though. Just make a point of only eating out or setting a gym date with your fit ones.
Be Messy The easiest way to not grab a Snickers? Look at all the other candy wrappers on your desk. By reminding you how much you’ve already eaten, piling up your opened snack wrappers can cut how many calories you wolf down by more than 40 percent, according to a 2010 study published in Appetite.