Looking for the path toward a healthier you? It’s not hard to find. The journey begins with some simple tweaks to your lifestyle. The right diet, exercise, and stress-relief plan all play a big role.
Follow a Heart-Healthy Diet
There’s an easy recipe if your goal is to keep away problems like heart disease and strokes.
- Eat more fruits and veggies.
- Choose whole grains. Try brown rice instead of white. Switch to whole wheat pasta.
- Choose lean proteins like poultry, fish, beans, and legumes.
- Cut down on processed foods, sugar, salt, and saturated fat.
When eating healthy, flexibility often works best, says Joyce Meng, MD, assistant professor at the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at UConn Health. If you like to follow a strict diet plan, go for it. If not, it’s OK. “Find what works for you.”
Tricia Montgomery, 52, the founder of K9 Fit Club, knows first-hand how the right diet and lifestyle can help. For her, choosing healthy foods and planning small, frequent meals works well. “I don’t deny myself anything,” she says. “I still have
Getting out on the road to brush up on your running technique offers a completely different experience to pounding the treadmill at the gym – and we guarantee you’ll soon be bitten by the running bug. Read our guide to find out what could be in it for you.
1 Feel refreshed
A change of scenery and a varied workout – what’s not to get excited about? There are plenty of things to look forward to when you take your runs from the treadmill to the great outdoors, whether you’re running down winding country lanes or sprinting around the city streets.’ Due to the rhythmic nature of the activity, it’s easy to zone out, switch off from the outside world and let your mind
For Children and Families
- Start the day with a healthy breakfast. It refuels your body and gives you energy for the day.
- Let kids help plan one meal each week and eat together as often as possible.
- Eat slowly. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full.
- Eat more vegetables and fresh fruits. Aim for a total of 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables every day.
- Eat more whole grains (e.g., oats, brown rice, rye, crackers, whole-wheat pasta). Try to eat at least 3 ounces of whole grains every day.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Choose water, low-fat or nonfat milk and low calorie or diet beverages.
- Serve a variety of foods.
- Reward children with praise rather than with food.
- Serve food in smaller portions. Do not demand or reward “a clean plate.” Let your child ask for more if he or she is still hungry.
- Read nutrition labels for serving size and calorie information. The information on the labels can help you select foods that best fit into your family’s meal and snack plans.
- Bake, broil or grill foods to reduce
1. COMBINE WEIGHTS AND CARDIO
Once you have a good postural base (no injuries or specific weaknesses) metabolic resistance training (think circuit training with higher reps and less rest between different moves) is
a hugely effective way to drop body fat. This combination of strength and cardio training works wonders if you want the best results in the shortest time. Just make sure you learn the correct technique before you speed things up – you need to keep your form as you move from one exercise to the next before you’ve fully recovered – otherwise you risk injury.
2. DO WHAT YOU’RE NOT GOOD AT
When you get good at doing something, you become more efficient, so you burn fewer calories doing the same thing. Great news if you’re training for long- distance events, but not what we’re after for shifting a few pounds.
If you want rapid fat loss, pick activities you’re not good at and do them repeatedly. So go running if you don’t normally run, or do weight training instead of treadmill running, for example. Once you get good at them, switch to something else and do the same.
There’s nothing like the feeling of getting all hot and sweaty from a good cardio workout. You feel amazing, full of energy, and all revved up on endorphins, so why do people keep asking if you’re OK? You catch a glimpse of your sweaty self in the bathroom mirror, and the unnaturally, brilliantly red face staring back takes you by surprise, too. Wait—are you OK?
Your frighteningly scarlet skin may not look the prettiest, but it’s no cause for alarm. It’s actually just a sign that you’re working hard and building up heat. When your body temperature begins to climb, you perspire to keep cool, but it also dilates the blood vessels in your skin to reduce your overall body temp. Your face turns red because warm, oxygenated blood rushes to the surface of your skin, which helps heat radiate off of it and prevents you from overheating.
There are two huge motivators in group fitness classes: an instructor that pushes you harder than you would if you were working out solo, and a group of like-minded people who motivate you even further. Sometimes, you crush it in group workouts. But other times (and we’ve all been there), everything feels hard. Whether it’s your first time trying a new class, you’re tired or sore, or just not feeling it, fighting to keep up doesn’t always feel great in a group setting—and can even lead to injury
We talked to a sports psychologist to find out why we feel that need to constantly keep up, then we tapped instructors who teach some of the most hardcore workout classes at Barry’s Bootcamp and YG Studios for the scoop on how to push yourself without breaking good form and risking an injury.
1. Set Realistic Goals
Whenever you step foot in the gym, you’re already making the decision to better yourself. Don’t ruin your efforts by having unrealistic expectations, which can include trying to keep up with your neighbor. “Nobody needs to be a hero, especially the first time trying a workout,” says
There comes a point in every cycling and barre class, right when you’re so sweaty and exhausted you don’t even care what your hair looks like, when the instructor announces it’s time to transition to arm exercises. You pick up the 1- to 3-pound weights and you do the dang thing. But do those 10-15 minutes of pulses and reps really count as strength training?
Technically, yes, but it ultimately depends on your goals, says Joslyn Ahlgren, cycling instructor and lecturer of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology at University of Florida.
When your muscle is contracting to resist a force, that’s technically strength training, whether that force is a paperclip or a dumbbell. So when you’re lifting super light weights for just a few minutes, it’s unlikely you’re building much strength. “The arm components in barre and cycling workouts help build endurance for your muscles, not make you stronger,” explains Ahlgren.
If you exercise at a traditional gym, you probably know your way around the treadmill, elliptical, stair stepper, and stationary bike pretty well. (Ever wonder if the calorie counters on those machines at the gym are (in)accurate? We found out.) But what about some of the new cutting-edge machines that are popping up in gyms everywhere? These under-the-radar machines are great for incorporating into your HIIT workouts, so step out of your elliptical-comfort zone and get to know this new equipment.
These machines are totally unplugged, so instead of electricity powering the belt you’ll harness the power from your own muscles to start it up and keep it going. “On the Woodway Curve, a curved, super ergonomic, non-motorized treadmill, you do all the work yourself, so everything you do is automatically 30 percent harder and more efficient since you’re burning more calories in a shorter amount of time,” says Xavier Quimbo, co-founder and expert trainer at Speedplay in Los Angeles, which uses them during his HIIT classes. It’s easy to let the belt get away from you if you’re not paying attention, and the higher up on the belt you are, the faster you’ll go, so the best
1. Don’t skip breakfast
Research shows eating breakfast helps you control your weight. Some people skip breakfast because they think it will help them lose weight, but missing meals doesn’t help us lose weight and isn’t good for us as we can miss out on essential nutrients. It could also encourage us to snack more throughout the day because you feel hungry. Check out five healthy breakfasts.
2. Eat regular meals
Some people think missing meals will help them lose weight, but it’s been shown eating regularly during the day helps burn calories at a faster rate. It also reduces the temptation to snack on foods high in fat and sugar. Find out more about eating heathily.
3. Eat plenty of fruit and veg
Fruit and veg are low in calories and fat, and high in fibre – three essential ingredients for successful weight loss. They also contain plenty of vitamins and minerals. Read up on getting your 5 A DAY.
4. Get more active
Studies show regular activity is key to losing weight and keeping it off. As well as providing numerous health benefits, exercise can help burn off the excess calories you can’t cut through diet alone. Find an activity
- Make sure to eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables – at least 5 a day! Eat your vegetables at dinner time.*10
- Try to listen to your body signals – eat when you’re hungry; stop eating when you’re full.*10
- Sleep when you’re tired, exercise when you lack energy.*10
- Breathe deeply when you’re stressed and get involved in fun activities if you’re bored.*10
- Be a fat finder – choose foods by reading labels and choosing the lower fat choice.*10
- You can eat four apples for the number of calories in a fast food apple pie.*10
- You can have five cups of unbuttered popcorn for the same calories as in one serving of potato chips. (15 chips)*10
- Try not to mix eating with other activities, especially watching TV- Often you wind up eating more without even being conscious of it.*10
- If you have to snack while watching TV, chew on lower-fat stuff like plain popcorn, pretzels, fruit salad or fresh veggies with a yogurt dip.*10
- Don’t say never – especially to your favorite foods. Just enjoy them a little at a
Taking good care of your mouth and teeth throughout your whole life can help prevent problems as you get older. Taking care of your teeth means brushing and flossing every day and seeing the dentist regularly.
Infants and children
The first set of teeth is already almost completely formed at birth. At first these teeth are “hiding” under the gums. These teeth are important, because after they come in, they let your baby chew food and talk well. You baby’s first set of teeth also holds the space where permanent teeth will eventually be. They help permanent teeth grow in straight.
You can care for your baby’s teeth by following these suggestions:
- Clean the new teeth every day. When the teeth first come in, clean them by rubbing them gently with a clean wet washcloth. When the teeth are bigger, use a child’s toothbrush.
- Children under 2 years of age shouldn’t use toothpaste. Instead, use water to brush your child’s teeth.
- Don’t let your baby go to sleep with a bottle. This can leave milk or juice sitting on the teeth and cause cavities that are known as “baby-bottle tooth decay.”
- Encourage older
How do I start an exercise program?
First, talk to your family doctor. This is especially important if you haven’t been active, if you have any health problems, if you’re pregnant, or if you’re an older adult.
What kind of exercise should I do?
The best type of exercise is one that you will do on a regular basis, so choose activities that you enjoy. Physical activities that increase your heart rate and move large muscles (such as the muscles in your legs and arms) are good choices. Walking is a popular choice and does not require special equipment, except for appropriate shoes. Other good options include swimming, biking, jogging, and dancing.
Exercising with a friend or a family member can make it more fun, and having a partner to encourage you can help you stay on track.
How much should I exercise?
Talk to your family doctor about how much exercise is right for you. A good goal for many people is to work up to exercising 5 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes at a time. If 30 to 60 minutes at a time sounds
Are high cholesterol levels only a problem for adults?
No. Many people don’t realize that problems with high cholesterol levels can begin in childhood. High cholesterol levels are likely to continue to rise as a child grows into a teen and adult. This increases your child’s risk for cholesterol-related health problems.
What are the risks of high cholesterol levels?
Your child’s body needs some cholesterol to protect nerves, make cell tissues, and produce certain hormones. But too much cholesterol damages blood vessels. It builds up along blood vessel walls and forms sticky, fatty deposits called “plaque.” Studies show that plaque can begin to form in childhood. It is more likely to form when a child’s cholesterol levels are high.
High cholesterol levels increase your child’s risk of heart disease and stroke when he or she gets older. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. The risk is higher in people who have a family history of heart disease, have diabetes, are overweight or obese, have unhealthy eating habits, are not physically active, or smoke.
Where does cholesterol come from?
The liver makes all the cholesterol your child’s
We all need energy to grow, stay alive, keep warm and be active. Energy is provided by the carbohydrate, protein and fat in the food and drinks we consume. It is also provided by alcohol. Different food and drinks provide different amounts of energy.
The amount of energy (measured in units of calories or kilojoules) a food contains per gram is known as its energy density.
- Foods with fewer calories per gram such as fruits, vegetables, soups, lean protein- and carbohydrate-rich foods have a relatively low energy density.
- Foods with a high fat and/or low water content such as chocolate, fried snacks, nuts and crackers have a relatively higher energy density.
Having a diet with a low energy density overall can help to control calorie intake while helping to avoid feeling too hungry.
Carbohydrate is the most important source of energy for the body because it is the main fuel for both your muscles and brain. Sources of carbohydrate include starchy foods, e.g. bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, pulses and breakfast cereals.
Different people need different amounts of energy. This depends on your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which measures the amount
# Base your meals on starchy foods: bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, noodles
- Choose whole grains and potatoes with skin where possible which havemore fibre, vitamins and minerals.
- Remember starchy foods contain fewer than half the calories of fats per gram
# Eat lots of fruit and veg
- Choose a variety of fruit and vegetables as they contain different combinations of vitamins and minerals.
- Fresh, frozen, tinned and 100% fruit juices all count!
- Try grating vegetables like carrots and courgettes into bolognaise or add lots of vegetables to homemade tomato sauce and blend.
# Eat more fish – aim for at least two portions per week and one of these should be oily
- Remember that one portion of fish is approximately 140g cooked weight.
Oily fish are one of the only natural food sources of vitamin D, important for bone health. Oily fish includes salmon, fresh tuna, sardines, mackerel and trout.
- Choose from fresh, frozen, smoked and canned, but remember that smoked fish contains salt, and canned can do, so check labels and pick lower salt varieties.
# Cut down on saturated fat and sugar
- Although we need some fat in our diet (to provide the