Hit a Weight Loss Plateau? Hit Back With These Five Tips

by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, FAND – Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training at Herbalife
When weight loss stalls, review your diet plan.

If your weight loss has stalled, take a look at my top five tips to help you avoid a weight loss plateau and achieve your weight-loss goal.

One of the more frustrating parts of losing weight is the inevitable weight loss plateau. Everything seems to be going along fine, and then all of a sudden––no matter what you do––you find that the scale just doesn’t budge. When you find that your weekly weight loss has stalled, you’ve hit a ‘weight loss plateau,’ and many dieters find the sudden lack of progress deeply frustrating. When you cut back on your calories, your body reacts as if there’s no more food coming its way. So, it does what it’s programmed to do: it hangs onto stored up calories by slowing down the rate at which you burn them. Your resting metabolic rate––the calories you burn every day just to keep your body functioning––goes down a little bit. The drop isn’t huge (10% at most), but it’s often enough to put your weight loss on hold. And suddenly you’re feeling stranded on the dreaded weight loss plateau.

Your resting metabolic rate is determined by your body size and accounts for most of the calories you burn each day. So, it makes sense that as your weight drops your metabolic rate goes down, too.

In order to keep losing weight at the same rate, you need to either cut your calorie intake further, or exercise more. Or, accept that your rate of weight loss will be slower as you approach your goal. Below are some tips to help get you started:

1. Use a food diary to keep track of your calorie intake.

You may have been more careful when you started your diet, by weighing and measuring everything that passed your lips, but you might not be as accurate as you once were. Being more consistent with your journal can help get you off the weight loss plateau and back on track.

2. Drink a protein shake.

Replace two meals a day with a protein shake to help you stay within your calorie limit. When you make your shake, you know exactly what goes into it and how many calories are in the protein powder, the milk and the fruit. That takes the guesswork out of calorie counting. Use the shake for two meals a day, have a healthy third meal, and fill in with snacks of low-fat protein foods,
veggies and fruits.

3. Dine out less often.

This one may be hard to do, but it can make a difference. No matter how careful you think you are when you go to a restaurant, it’s usually difficult to accurately estimate how many calories you’re eating. It’s often hard to tell exactly how foods are prepared––extra fats and calories are often lurking. If you’ve been eating out more often than usual, try to cut back for a couple weeks to see if it helps get your weight moving again.

4. Increase your cardio and strength training.

As you build muscle, your resting metabolic rate goes up. If you’ve been working out for a while, you might also be in better shape. And that means that if you haven’t increased the intensity of
your activity, you might not be burning as many calories as you used to. Add some new moves to your exercise routine, increase the intensity and pump some iron.

5. Get your body composition checked.

Consider that you might actually have reached an appropriate weight. If you can, get your body composition checked. Muscle is denser and takes up less space than body fat. So, if you’re carrying more muscle than the average person, your body fat percentage might be well within the normal range, even though you might weigh more than you think you should. If that’s the case, then you may not have much, if any, additional weight to lose.

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Soy Protein – Your Essential Guide to Soy and Tofu

by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, FAND –
Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training at Herbalife
Soy is a high quality plant protein.

Are you a fan of soy protein? With so many variations, soy can be a delicious extra in many recipes or even the main focus for a nutrient-packed healthy meal. Today, I’m writing about soy and sharing one of my favorite tofu recipes, because soybeans and soy foods provide high quality protein which are often overlooked in the grocery store.

What Is Soy?

Soybeans are not much of a dietary staple in the western world. But traditional soy foods, like tofu, miso and tempeh, have formed the basis of the diet in East Asia for centuries, where they’re valued not only for their versatility but also for the healthy nutrition they offer.

Soy Is Nutrient-Packed

While all beans provide protein, soybeans top the list when it comes to protein quality. Proteins are made up of small building blocks called amino acids. Some amino acids are termed essential, which means that we have to get them from foods because our bodies can’t make them. A protein that contains all the essential amino acids is termed ‘complete’—and soy is one of the few complete proteins in the plant world.

Soybeans are low in saturated fat and, like all plant foods, are also naturally cholesterol-free. Soybeans also offer up calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and B-vitamins, along with omega-3 fats.

If you’re trying to work more plant protein into your diet, you might want to give soy a try. With so many soy products to choose from, it’s easier than ever. Here are some of the most popular forms of soy.

Soy Options

  • Edamame are fresh green soybeans. You can often find these in your grocer’s freezer, either in the pod or already shelled. After briefly cooking in salted water, they can be eaten as a snack or added to soups and salads.
  • Tempeh is made from soybeans that are partially cooked, allowed to ferment and then formed into a firm block. Since tempeh is fermented, it’s a source of “good bacteria,” or probiotics. Tempeh has a meaty flavor and firm texture that holds its shape, so it’s great for salads and stir-fry dishes.
  • Miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans, which means it also contains probiotics. It’s used as base for soup as well as an ingredient in sauces, salad dressings and marinades. There are different varieties, and the color can range from light yellow to very deep brown. In general, light miso is less salty and milder in flavor than dark miso.
  • Soy milk is made from dried soybeans which are soaked in water until they’re rehydrated, then ground with water. The resulting milk is sold as a beverage or made into yogurt. Soy milk and soy yogurt each have about 7 grams of protein per 8 ounce (250 ml) serving. You can use soy milk as a beverage on its own, or you can substitute it for regular milk in most recipes or in protein shakes.
  • Soy nuts are roasted whole soybeans. They make a nice snack on their own, and they’re also good in salads, trail mix and on cereal. Soy nuts (and soy nut butter, which is made from ground soy nuts) have a bit more protein and a bit less fat than peanuts or peanut butter.
  • Soy protein powders and meat substitutes are made from soybean flour that’s had most of the fat removed. The powders can be added to shakes or stirred into oatmeal, and the soy meat substitutes can be used in all sorts of recipes in place of meat or poultry.
  • Tofu is essentially a cheese that’s made from soy milk. It ranges in texture from extra firm to extra soft and has a very mild flavor. It mixes well with anything from spicy sauces to naturally sweet fruits. The firmer type of tofu is good for grilling or stir-frying, while the softer, creamier style is good in shakes or sweetened and topped with fruit as a dessert.

Your Quick Guide to Tofu

There are so many types of tofu that it can seem confusing. I’m afraid many westerners dismiss tofu but it can taste great, and with so many benefits it’s worth finding a few favorite types of tofu.

Silken tofu has the most moisture of all types of tofu. It has a soft, very smooth, custard-like texture and tends to fall apart easily. It also comes in different degrees of firmness, so don’t assume that all silken tofu is soft. Silken tofu is the best tofu for whipping up in the blender or food processor. Once it’s blended, silken tofu adds a smooth texture and nice protein boost to shakes, soups and sauce. Silken tofu can be turned into a healthy dessert when it’s blended with fruit, a dab of honey and a dash of cinnamon. Or you can blend it with garlic and herbs and use as a tasty dip for raw veggies.

Soft or medium tofu holds its shape a bit better than silken tofu, and it’s often mashed with a fork into a soft crumbly texture that makes a nice meat substitute in foods like pasta sauce. It’s also often used to make an ‘eggless’ egg salad by mashing with a bit of mustard and low-fat mayonnaise or with some avocado.

Firm or extra firm tofu has the meatiest texture of any tofu, which means it holds up to stir-frying, roasting or grilling. To make it even chewier and more ‘meat-like,’ some people slice it up and freeze it (which will change the color, but not affect the taste) before using in recipes.

The Best Roasted Tofu Recipe

Still not sure about soy and tofu? Try my recipe for roasted tofu. It’s great right out of the oven or with some stir-fried veggies, and it’s good cold, too. I like to put my roasted tofu spears on top of a salad for lunch, or have a few pieces with some cucumber slices for a quick snack.

Ingredients

– 1 package firm tofu (typically, 14 oz, 425 g)

For the marinade
– 3 tbsp light soy sauce
– 3 tbsp rice vinegar
– 1 tsp sugar or honey
– 1 tsp sesame oil
– dash ground ginger
– dash garlic powder
– dash white pepper
– Olive oil (to lightly grease the baking sheet)

Method

– Whisk together the ingredients for the marinade in a shallow baking pan and set aside.
– Remove the tofu from the package and drain off all the water.
– Wrap the tofu block in a few paper towels or a regular clean kitchen towel, and gently press out any additional moisture.
– Cut the tofu into triangles, or ‘spears,’ and arrange in a single layer in the pan with the marinade, turning the pieces over to coat all sides.
– Cover with plastic wrap, and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. (I love this recipe because you can leave the tofu to marinate for up to 48 hours.)

When you’re ready to cook the tofu:
– Preheat the oven to 350 F / 180 C / Gas Mark 4
– Coat a large baking sheet with a bit of olive oil to prevent the tofu from sticking. (You can cover with pan spray instead, or line your baking sheet with parchment paper.)
– Arrange the tofu pieces in a single layer on the baking sheet, and pour any remaining marinade over the tofu pieces.
– Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, turning occasionally (and gently).
– The pieces should be firm and have a nice brown glaze.
– If you aren’t going to eat these delicious tofu spears right away, you can store in the refrigerator. This roasted tofu is delicious hot or cold.

 

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How to Conquer Fear and Reach Your Goals

by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA

No fear.

Does fear hold you back? If you want to lose weight, gain muscle, increase your speed, or improve some areas of your life, then you must conquer fear. And you need a plan.

Whatever your goal may be, if you want to be successful you have to first believe in yourself and then follow a plan. Today I want to talk about letting go of fear.

Snow and ice athletes are a perfect example of people who overcome and channel their fear every day. My sister Jackie has won bobsled medals for her country. I have utmost respect for her love of the sport, and her ability to conquer fear. I’ve always supported her events, but standing in the crowd I could tangibly feel my fear coursing through my veins.

How to conquer fear in sports

Jackie believes that the fear of failure is the main thing that stops people from performing at their best. In her sport, there is a very real possibility of crashing at 80 mph, and the consequences could be dire. What makes my sister a champion is that she’s able to separate her fears into a concern for her safety and anxiety about failure. Jackie knows that she’s undertaken every safety precaution and has practiced, practiced, practiced.

Fear can promote a release of adrenaline into our bloodstream. To protect ourselves, the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism comes into play and our bodies prepare for action. In sports and other competitive environments, it’s not typically the fear of danger that creates this rush of adrenaline, but more a mix of anticipation and excitement.

Being prepared and having a plan of action will allow you to train your mind to overcome any negative emotions that are standing in your way. And you don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from mental training techniques.

Jackie put aside her safety fears because she had a plan and she was committed. She was determined to use her fear to make her train and compete, rather than giving in to fear and saying goodbye to the triumph she felt each time she clocked a personal best.

How to use fear to get closer to your goals

We don’t all have to hurtle down hills to face our fears. In everyday life, there are things we might want to do but don’t because the fear of failure is too great.

Making lifestyle changes, especially those that involve weight loss and health goals, often make people feel anxious and fearful. The fear of failure or a fear of the unknown can often stop people from trying something new. Try using my three simple tips to help you conquer fear and overcome any negative emotions to turn them into success.

1: Fear assessment:
Write down a list of the worst things that could happen if you fail. This will often put things into perspective and make you realize that you should just get started on your journey. We can all be guilty of having an over-active imagination, so writing down your fears will help you assess if they are in fact valid.

2: Define your goal:
Ensure that your goals are written down and use a S.M.A R.T.1 goal-setting framework. Having a clear destination and time frame in mind will help you on days you want to quit. Clear goal setting will put you in full control of your success.

3:  Positivity training:
Write a positive affirmation and say it every day. The more you tell yourself that you can be successful, the more you will start to believe it’s true. An example from my old training diary from my athletic days is ‘I am strong, I am powerful I was born to compete at a world level.’ And from my days of trying to lose extra baby weight I wrote, ‘I will regain my pre-baby body, I am strong and focused.’

Many athletes will tell you that the mental side of sports is more important than the physical aspect. That constructed belief is one of the keys to making your dreams come true.

If you have found yourself starting and stopping over the years with your body composition goals, you may benefit from trying a new positive mental approach. Try not to let your fear of failure get in the way of your success. It’s better to try and fail than not try at all.

To end, here’s an inspirational quote from my sister in her new quest of getting back her pre-baby, athletic physique:

I’m going to think myself thin. I thought my way to two Olympic games, so I’m just going to believe I have a perfect body. Of course, I’m going to stop eating unhealthy snacks and get my butt to the gym, too.”

[1] Specific. Measured. Agreed upon. Realistic. Time-based.

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What Is Physical Fitness? How to Tell If You’re Really Exercising

by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA

 

Keep fit with exercise that’s right for you.

I often get asked: “Is doing physical activity enough, or do I need a structured fitness program to get in shape?”

My answer is different for each person who asks. I have to tailor my answers because fitness is not a one size fits all situation. For many people simply increasing their physical activity will be enough to meet their health goals and expectations; however, for others I may recommend a detailed fitness plan.

a

The Difference Between Activity and Exercise

Physical activity

 

Physical activity is simply body movements that involve the contraction of your muscles. All of the activities we do throughout the day that involve movement, such as walking, lifting, cleaning and yard work are examples of physical activity. Most people perform at least a few physical activities everyday without even realizing it – for instance standing and cooking, or popping out to post a letter both require basic movement.

You might find it interesting to write a little mental list of some of the physical activities you conduct each day without usually thinking about them. You may be surprised by how long, or how short, your list is.

Exercise

Exercise is a specific form of physical activity that is planned, purposeful and performed with the intention of gaining specific adaptations in the body, such as stronger muscles, increased flexibility or improved cardiovascular function. Dancing, swimming, cycling, and running are all examples of exercise.

Are you exercising or being active?

There can be a fine line between the two, so the best way to determine if you are just being active or if you are exercising is to do the talk test.

  • If you can talk easily while performing the activity, you are simply being active.
  • If you need to catch your breath and find talking difficult, then you are exercising.

It is the intensity of the task being performed that will determine the health benefits that you will gain from the activity.

Look out for these four physical fitness components, and you’ll understand why exercising is just as important as being physically active:

  • Cardio-respiratory endurance
  • Muscular strength
  • Muscular endurance
  • Flexibility

Although it is possible to address all of these fitness components with a physically active lifestyle, an exercise program can help you achieve even greater benefits.

How to get started with an exercise regime

Increasing the amount of physical activity in your everyday life is a perfect way to start on the path toward a healthier, happier more energized you! But if you really want to achieve increased fitness, you’ll want to incorporate structured, more vigorous activities into your schedule a few days a week.

The key to living a healthy, active lifestyle is to take it one day at a time and try to choose activities that you thoroughly enjoy. Over time, you can increase intensity and, perhaps, the duration. Remember that your body is unique, and understanding your health needs (rather than your neighbors’ needs) will keep you on the right track toward a healthy lifestyle.

Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Senior Director of Worldwide Fitness Education at Herbalife.

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How to Make Air Travel More Interesting and Land Feeling Great

by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA

Keeping active during a flight can enhance the adventure.

Right now I’m on a plane. I’m a long way up over the Atlantic Ocean and I’m feeling a little conflicted: I love to travel but I’m not a fan of sitting still.

I’ve been doing a lot of flying recently, and although I’ve been to some great places and met wonderful people, it still means I’ve been sitting down for long periods of time during air travel. That’s just not something my body is used to doing. In fact, I’m such a believer in keeping my body moving that I find it hard to sit still at home, too.

Related Article: A New Aproach to Being Active

How often have you seen a kid sitting still for a long time?

My constant need for movement makes me laugh, as I remind myself that I am constantly telling my kids to stop fidgeting and sit still. I’m typing this while confined to a chair and I’ve been hit by a revelation – kids have got the right idea. With all the known facts about how movement can improve your mood, it makes sense that kids are almost always happy. And it makes me wonder: should we ever be sat in one position for hours at a time? 

It’s my opinion that the human body is designed for movement. Sitting still for prolonged periods of time isn’t a great idea, especially as it can impact your circulation while also making you feel stiff and cranky. Many airlines provide an exercise sheet to encourage you to stretch and wiggle your feet to keep your circulation moving efficiently, and I encourage you to follow their instructions. Don’t feel that completing the exercise card routine once is enough – you need to listen to your body. If you’re on a long flight, then revisit the exercise card routine every couple of hours. And I suggest also adding your own moves to make sure stiffness doesn’t get a chance to build up anywhere. For instance, if you spend a lot of time reading or staring at a screen, then loosen up your neck muscles periodically. And if you fall asleep at an odd angle, then take the time to work out all the kinks systematically when you wake up.

Channel your inner child: keep on moving

Wondering about all this made me decide to do want my what body wanted – to move around. I just stepped into the aisle and stretched. And you know what? It felt wonderful. My low-key aisle aerobics were certainly worth the looks and smiles I received from fellow passengers.

I made sure not to get in anyone’s way and made the most of the small amount of space available. I’m not tall, so reaching for the ceiling felt great, and releasing the tension that had built up in my neck and shoulders was a relief. I’d say a few people were intrigued by my actions, and unfortunately everyone was too shy to join me. We are taught from a young age to sit still and not cause a fuss, but one curious passenger on my right asked a few fitness questions and I was happy to explain. I’m on a mission to inspire people to take ownership of their bodies. And if that means I also need to help people free themselves from social awkwardness, then so be it. Let’s all rid ourselves of the social awkwardness that comes hand in hand with going outside of what is considered normal.

Since returning to my seat, I’ve been daydreaming of how fun it would be if air stewards interrupted the quiet sedentary slumber with some upbeat music, combined with a few chair exercises to revitalize and energize passengers. It could even be done using the TV system, or they could do it over the intercom. I’m convinced it would spark conversations among chair partners about their views on movement or lack of it. I’m sure you have a few thoughts on whether this is a good or bad idea but, whatever you think, you know it will make for a more ‘interesting’ flight. 

Follow these tips and you’ll feel great when you land

Travel tip – Hydrate yourself often

Drink enough to stay hydrated inside and out. You may find that your skin looks better for it even after the harsh air conditioning on board. You’re also more likely to avoid a dehydration headache if you drink frequently enough to avoid ever feeling really thirsty. Drinking often will also mean that you have no choice but to move because you’ll be going to the bathroom!

Travel tip – Sit comfortably

Sitting with your back fully supported in the chair and being mindful of your posture combined with occasional lower leg, neck and shoulder stretches will ensure you get off your flight feeling refreshed and ready for action.

Travel tip – Move your body

At regular intervals throughout the air travel adventure, make sure you move. Make time to follow the exercise card if it’s provided, and embrace your inner child by fidgeting to your heart’s content.

***

When I get off a plane, I have to hit the road full steam ahead, whether I’m headed to a fitness class or home to my excited (and fidgeting) children. It’s important that my body is feeling great and I’m ready to tackle my next challenge head on. So, next time you fly, shake your shyness and move around a little! You may be surprised by how liberated you feel.

Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Senior Director of Worldwide Fitness Education at Herbalife.

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Need fitness motivation? 6 tips to get and stay on track

by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA

15

Always have something to look forward to.

We all stray from out fitness routines from time to time. If you’re looking for some fitness motivation, let me help you get into a fit-for-life frame of mind with my positive approach to living a healthy, active lifestyle.

I know that many people are motivated when they a have a big event or vacation coming up. I also know that many people lose that initial boost of what I call event-based motivation very quickly. Some people will admit to abandoning their healthy eating and exercise plan before they even get started.

Today I want to share with you some motivational tricks to help you get focused and start working towards your personal body goals. Regardless of what season we’re in, I believe your body deserves to be well taken care of all year round. Taking the mental approach of getting fit for a lifetime is much better than just getting fit for a few weeks or a special event.

Don’t let yourself get to your special day or summer vacation and realize that you said “I’ll start my fitness plan tomorrow” one too many times. Instead, try to change your mindset and understand that today is a perfect day to get started.

3 Fitness Motivation Tips to Get Started

No tomorrow

There is no time like today to get started. Small changes add up over time and can often lead to big changes in lifestyle. So, if you’re thinking about making some changes, make one right now—write it down and implement immediately.

Say the words ‘I can’ and ‘I will’ often

The word ‘I can’t’ will often translate directly into ‘I didn’t,’ so try to redress your vocabulary with positively charged words. Set a positive intention for each day and believe that you can do it. A positive approach often leads to positive results.

Love who you are

Try not to be negative about yourself. Stop looking in the mirror and thinking, ‘I need to change.’ Even if your goal is to lose a lot of weight, it doesn’t mean you should look at your self in a negative light. The fact that you realize you need to take care of yourself is a step in the right direction.

When we tell ourselves we’re not good enough, it can spark feelings of sadness and can negatively effect our energy levels. Let’s all try to use more positive statements.

Affirmations like, ‘I’m ready to improve,’ or ‘I’m going to evolve into the best version of myself I can be’ will make it easier to keep your spirits up and motivation high.

Once you’ve mastered getting into a positive frame of mind, you’ll need to find something to help keep you motivated long-term. Fitness and nutrition is not just a quick fix. Only a long-term lifestyle change plan will keep your body positively evolving.

The reason yo-yo diets and extreme fitness plans don’t work is because they tend to have a start point and an end point. Once you stop eating well and exercising, your body negatively reacts and goes back to square one.

3 Fitness Motivation Tips for Long-Term Motivation

Find an active hobby

If you find a hobby that’s active such as doing long walks, marathons or even committing to learning something new, you’ll always have something to strive towards. Once you get involved in a hobby, especially when it involves being part of a group, it’s much easier to stay motivated and accountable to your long-term goals.

Make it a family affair

Get your family and close friends on board with your healthy, active lifestyle plan. If you all commit to eating well and getting active, it can help create strong bonds and fun times. If you feel like you want to quit, chances are that at least one family member will convince you to keep going.

Plan rewards

Put a reward system in place so that you can continually motivate yourself and others with incentives. It could be a day trip out every few moths or a shopping trip to buy a new outfit. Try to pick a reward that gets you excited, and one that you know you can afford. Hopefully your reward will inspire you to keep going on the tough days.

***

Motivation is a personal thing, and what motivates one person may not motivate another. Try to find a few motivational tricks that work for you. I try to stay away from being motivated purely by how I look. But I do understand that most people want to look good and it can be a good fitness motivation booster. Just understand that external changes take time. If you combine your ‘how I look’ with ‘how I feel,’ it’s a great way to ensure that you stay positive. With most healthy, active lifestyle plans, you’ll start to feel better long before you see visible changes. If you feel that your healthy, active plan is making you feel more confident and awake, it may inspire you to keep going.

Find ways to be positive and stay motivated. The only way you will fail on your plan is to quit, so do whatever it takes to keep yourself on track and feeling great!

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