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If you’ve ever tried to reach a weight loss goal, you know what it’s like; You make months of sacrifices, wake up at the crack of dawn for a jog, and starve yourself to the edge of sanity until you finally see the finish line:

Ten more pounds.

But check the scale two months later and you’re fifteen pounds away…then twenty. So what happened?

Well, here’s the thing: It’s basically gospel in the fitness community that the last ten pounds or so are the hardest to get rid of. And if you’re not careful, that can easily boomerang on you and discourage you enough to push you even farther away from where you want to be.

So here’s how you’re going to break through that weight loss plateau:

1) Don’t Lose Your Focus

A huge part of the reason losing the last ten or so pounds is hard is that with the goal so close in sight, it’s easy to lose your focus. You feel pretty good about the way you’re starting to look and the idea of strict dieting doesn’t really sound as important as when you started.

To lose the last ten pounds, you have to start by remembering why you started in the first and recommit to your fitness goals.

2) Use The 30/30 Cardio Plan

If you’re the kind of guy who hates cardio, the bad news is that it’s pretty important to weight loss. The good news is that if you can handle about thirty minutes at a time, the 30/3o plan is an easy and effective way to lose weight.

Basically, all you have to do is run for thirty minutes in the morning and thirty at night. The advantage is that you’re able to work in an hour of cardio without having to actually run for an hour, which is hard and tedious.

Breaking it up into two half-hour chunks is an excellent way to break through your weight loss plateau.

3) Readjust Your Diet

If you’ve managed to get within ten pounds of your goal, you probably know how important diet is. But sticking to the same eating routine may be holding you back.

As you lose weight the number of calories you burn at rest decreases, meaning that you either have to burn more calories or eat less just to lose the same amount of weight.

You can also try switching from three meals a day to five smaller meals. This can help jump start your metabolism.

If you’ve planned your diet out to account for the number of calories you used to burn at a heavier weight, now is the time to readjust.

4) Use Technology

We’re living in a time when technology is changing everything. That includes the way we lose weight. There are a huge number of apps you can download right onto your phone that will help you track what you eat and how many calories you burn.

Myfitnesspal is a pretty useful app that has a huge base of meals so you can log your calories easily and it keeps track of how many calories you need to burn that day to lose weight. There’s also Runkeeper, which can help you easily keep track of your cardio exercise.

Combine the two for some high-tech weight loss. 

5) Try Lifting Heavier

Lifting weights isn’t just for bulking up, and an intense weight lifting session can burn as many calories as a jog. Plus if you slip up on your diet, some of the extra calories will go towards building muscle instead of just adding fat.

If you’re already lifting weights, consider adding some more weight to up the intensity.

If you find yourself stuck trying to lose the last ten pounds, adding some intense weight lifting can really help burst through that final barrier.

6) Keep A Closer Eye On Your Weight

One of the best ways to lose weight is to keep a close eye on what you weigh. Following your progress closely can help you keep yourself accountable and let you know what is and isn’t working for you.

If you’ve been doing weekly weigh-ins, now might be the time to start weighing yourself more frequently. The added accountability and sense of progress will help you shed the last few pounds.

7) Watch Your Stress Levels

Stress is a killer in just about every way. In addition to hurting your heart, sleep, and mental well-being, stress can make losing weight much harder. And while it’s tough to just “reduce” the amount of stress in your life, you can focus on finding better ways to cope with it.

Yoga, meditation, or even counselling can help you deal with stress in a more productive way. And avoiding stress and the resulting stress-eating will make it much easier to avoid putting weight back on.

8)Try Interval Training

High-Intensity Interval Training is an exercise program that relies on short bursts of explosive movement. When people usually think of cardio exercise, they think of jogging at a moderate pace for an extended period of time. HIIT training is different in that it alternates a few minutes of sprinting with a few minutes of low-intensity walking.

A basic program would look something like this:

  • 1 minute of walking.
  • 5 minutes of running.
  • 1 minute of walking.
  • 2 minutes of sprints.
  • 1 minute of walking.

You would then repeat that until you run for a total of thirty minutes. The idea is that you get faster results because you burn the same number of calories in less time. If you’re

If you’re burned out on traditional cardio exercise, HIIT might just be the boost you need to lose the last few pounds.

9)Limit Carbs Before Exercise

You’ve probably heard of low-carb diets as a good way to lose weight. The idea behind low-carb plans like the Atkins Diet is that carbs are stored in the body for quick energy. The thinking goes that starving your body of those carbs forces it to turn to fat cells for the quick energy it needs for exercise.

By limiting the number of carbs you eat before exercise you can increase the amount of fat you burn.

10) Mentally Prepare For Long Term Weight Loss

So many people who try to lose weight find that they get trapped in “Yo-Yo dieting.” You lose a few pounds only to find yourself putting them back on so you have to lose them again.

A key part of how to lose the last ten pounds is to prepare for the fact that losing weight and keeping it off is a life-long commitment. Adjusting to the idea that you will have to watch what you eat and exercise every day is tough.

The trick is to develop healthy routines into habits. A solid habit of healthy eating is easier to maintain in the long run and will help you reach your goals and stay there.

Remember no matter what you chose to do that taking charge of your health is a process that will last a lifetime. But breaking through that last barrier to your ultimate goal is an amazing feeling. If you can stick with it, the results will be worth the effort.

Food

How to get the ball rolling on eating healthier

You may want to start eating healthier, but getting the ball rolling can be an uphill endeavor.

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Make a List

Make a list

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When you get hungry, the last thing you feel like doing is running down a mental list of available healthy foods to eat. That’s why you probably end up grabbing whatever is closest to you and chowing down, vowing to start eating healthy tomorrow.

Instead, sit down and make a list of foods that you determine to be healthiest for you and your goals. Don’t just write a shopping list. Make a list of actual meals that you can prepare and eat. Include what day you’re going to have them, and what time. The more prepared you are when hunger strikes, the more likely you will be to have something ready without having to think too hard about it.

Buy a Cookbook

 

Cookbook

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Flipping through a cookbook with enticing photographs of healthy food will get you inspired to start eating healthy. Buy a cookbook or two that has nothing but healthy food recipes. Make sure it has a photo for every recipe, so you can visualize yourself dining on the healthy options. Put bookmarks on pages that really make you want to get up and start cooking. These are the dishes that will offer you the best motivation to start your new healthy eating plan. Alternatively, you can create your own cookbook by searching around the internet for healthy recipes and saving them to your phone or computer.

Buy Some New Clothes

Clothing store

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Wearing the same clothes every day when you already feel unattractive can keep you in a negative rut that’s hard to get out of. Put on your favorite pair of jeans, jacket, whatever, and go shopping for some new clothes. Buy a few that fit you now, and something special that you can work toward fitting into after you’ve achieved your weight goal. The change will help you to see yourself as someone new and fresh who is capable of switching eating habits for the better.

Stop Looking in the Mirror

Girl looking in mirror

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If your appearance really gets you down, stop obsessing over your flaws in the mirror. Seriously, you don’t need a visual examination over every wrinkle or bulge. Just stop looking in the mirror, get dressed, and be on your merry way. Wait at least a month before you give yourself a once over again. This time, you’ll be pleasantly surprised, instead of walking away thinking how bad you look.

Buy a Cool Scale

Smart scale with tape measure

mojzagrebinfo / Pixabay

If you’re trying to lose weight (or even gain weight), having a cool scale will make the process easier to measure progress. Get yourself a digital scale that measures ounces as well as pounds. They even have scales that speak your weight, if that’s what you need to keep motivated to eat healthier. Just don’t weigh yourself every day, because daily fluctuations in weight are normal, and have little to do with your eating habits. If you gain a couple ounces after eating healthy all day, you could lose motivation to continue to eat healthy. Every three days or so is sufficient to track your progress and measure your results.

Choose Restaurants With Healthy Food

Healthy food on restaurant table

StockSnap / Pixabay

If cooking isn’t your thing, choose some local restaurants that serve healthy foods with wholesome ingredients. Keep a list of these restaurants at hand so that when you come home late from work and don’t feel like cooking, you’ll have a backup plan that doesn’t involve Domino’s Pizza.

Invest in Partitioned Storage Containers

Plastic food storage container

MMT / Pixabay

If you’re short on time like most of us, you need some quick options for meals every now and then. Invest in some portioned storage containers so you can make your own version of TV dinners. Instead of pudding and mashed potatoes, fill them with things like brown rice, steamed broccoli, and turkey breast. Prepare them ahead of time and stack in your refrigerator or freezer. Just pop one in the microwave when all you can think about is flopping on the couch in front of the television.

The key to getting the ball rolling to start eating healthier is to be prepared. When you stock up on the tools that will help you reach your goals, get ready for instances when there’s no time to cook, and be kind to yourself by not obsessing over your image, you stand a pretty good chance of improving your eating habits for good.

 

WATCH: Tips for Getting Your Significant-Other to Eat Healthier

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Health

Is Coffee Good or Bad for You? Myth vs. Fact

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coffee in white mug with smiley face
THIS CONTENT WAS REPUBLISHED FROM AN EARLIER DATE.

If you Google “coffee+health” and click on a random result, there’s about an equal chance you’ll be told it’s either bad for your health or that it significantly reduces your risk of some disease or other. So it’s understandable that there’s a lot of confusion about whether you should or shouldn’t be having your beloved morning cup of Joe.

The trouble is, both sides of the argument have the backing of scientific research. So what’s the truth—is coffee good or bad for us? Let’s find out by taking a look at some of the big claims:

Coffee Is Addictive

This is true to some extent, but not to the point where it would cause you the same problems as, say, alcohol or heroin. It all hinges on whether there’s some form of chemical dependence there, or whether people just drink coffee out of habit. In some cases, long-term users who attempt to give up coffee may experience withdrawal symptoms such as headache and lethargy, which might compel them to keep drinking the stuff. But the research says that coffee simply doesn’t fit the criteria to be labelled an addictive substance.

Coffee Can Help With Weight Loss

Yep, this one is true. There is plenty of evidence that caffeine consumption temporarily boosts thermogenesis (metabolism), and studies like this one show that it can increase fat burning by as much as 10-29 percent. Plus, the nervous energy you get from coffee means you’ll be more likely to drag your ass off the couch and get some exercise. With that said, don’t be fooled into thinking that more is better. Too much caffeine can cause insomnia, anxiety, adrenal fatigue and a range of other nasty side-effects.

Coffee Causes Cancer and Other Diseases

This is almost certainly myth. In fact, our most up-to-date research shows that coffee can actually help improve or protect against conditions like type 2 diabetes, liver cancer and Parkinson’s disease. The misconception about coffee and disease probably comes from the fact that previous research neglected to take associated high-risk behaviours like smoking and lack of physical activity into account, but we know better now. Too much coffee will certainly lead to negative side effects, but life-threatening diseases? Nope.

So what’s the verdict then—is coffee good or bad for you? First of all, I don’t agree with the belief held by some that drinking coffee is not a health decision; disregarding the impact it has on your physiology is simply not wise. However, unless you’re drinking silly amounts of it every day or you’re particularly sensitive to caffeine, the effect coffee has on your longevity is probably going to be quite marginal.

If you’re not a coffee drinker but you’re considering getting into it for the health benefits, I’d say don’t bother. There are far more meaningful changes you could make, such as cleaning up your diet, upping your exercise, or even substituting green tea instead. If you are a coffee drinker, just make sure you’re not using it as an energy crutch—stick to 1-2 cups max early in the day, and go decaf after that.

Q: What’s your take on the whole coffee and health argument? Give us your thoughts in the comments below!

David CarrollDavid Carroll is a freelance writer, self-published author, and chief health-nut at thepaleotoolkit.com. Outside of work, he loves hurling (an amazing Irish sport), playing video games and hanging out with his dogs. Follow him on Twitter (@DavidAshCarroll) and Google+.

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Health

Scientists Develop New Type of Cell That Could Revolutionize the Treatment of Heart Disease

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THIS CONTENT WAS REPUBLISHED FROM AN EARLIER DATE.

Heart disease has consistently been one of the biggest killers of both men and women, with hundreds of thousands of families losing loved ones to the condition every year. But now a new study published in the journal Cell Stem Cell has identified a possible breakthrough in the treatment of heart disease, offering hope to anyone suffering from a dodgy ticker. The study was conducted by a team of researchers from the Gladstones Institutes, who have discovered a way to make a remarkable new type of cell that could help damaged hearts repair themselves.

Heart failure occurs when the heart is overworked or the supply of oxygen is too low. A sudden attack can cause the loss of huge amounts of important muscle cells known as cardiomyocytes (CMs). These CMs cannot regenerate by themselves, nor can they be replaced because transplanted heart cells tend not to survive in the patient’s body. As you can imagine, this makes the treatment of heart disease quite tricky; since heart cells can’t regenerate or be replaced, the damage is usually irreversible. “Scientists have tried for decades to treat heart failure by transplanting adult heart cells, but these cells cannot reproduce themselves, and so they do not survive in the damaged heart,” said Yu Zhang, MD, PhD, one of the lead authors of the study.

To overcome this dilemma, the team investigated the possibility of regenerating the heart using progenitors—stem cells that have already been programmed to develop into a specific type of cell. In this case, they targeted cardiovascular progenitor cells (CPCs), which are produced as the heart begins to form within the embryo. Using a revolutionary technique, the team were able to produce CPCs in the lab and halt their development so the cells remained effectively “frozen” until use. They called these lab-grown cells “induced expandable CPCs,” or ieCPCs.

Unlike adult heart cells, ieCPCs have the ability to replicate. If transplanted successfully, they could replace a patient’s damaged heart cells and possibly continue to self-repair. “Our generated ieCPCs can prolifically replicate and reliably mature into the three types of cells in the heart, which makes them a very promising potential treatment for heart failure,” said Zhang. To test this theory, the team injected some of the cells into a mouse that had suffered a heart attack. Remarkably, most of the cells transformed into functioning heart cells, generating new muscle tissue and blood vessels and improving the mouse’s overall heart function.

So what does all this mean for the treatment of heart disease? Well, it’s definitely big news. The cells used to treat the mouse were derived from skin cells, which means a patient’s own cells could potentially be used to treat their heart disease. The next step is to try and form human ieCPCs in the lab, and then follow up with human trials to see if the method is as effective. All going well, this could be a viable treatment for heart disease patients within the next few years.

Q: Is this the most important breakthrough yet in the field of heart disease research? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Copyright 2016 David Carroll

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