If you could only be a fly on the wall in our kitchen each night after dinner. We are both on My Fitness Pal planning our food for the next day and weighing and measuring our portions. It is fun to meal plan together. I make the meal plan on Sunday and my hubby prepares the majority of the food. Firemen sure do know how to cook! Maybe that is why I married him. 
"Self-monitoring" refers to observing and recording some aspect of your behavior, such as calorie intake, servings of fruits and vegetables, amount of physical activity, etc., or an outcome of these behaviors, such as weight. Self-monitoring of a behavior can be used at times when you're not sure how you're doing, and at times when you want the behavior to improve. Self-monitoring of a behavior usually moves you closer to the desired direction and can produce "real-time" records for review by you and your health care provider. For example, keeping a record of your physical activity can let you and your provider know quickly how you're doing. When the record shows that your activity is increasing, you'll be encouraged to keep it up. Some patients find that specific self-monitoring forms make it easier, while others prefer to use their own recording system.
Getting rid of your belly bulge is important for more than just vanity's sake. Excess abdominal fat—particularly visceral fat, the kind that surrounds your organs and puffs your stomach into a "beer gut"—is a predictor of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and some cancers. If diet and exercise haven't done much to reduce your pooch, then your hormones, your age, and other genetic factors may be the reason why. Read on for 11 possible reasons why your belly fat won't budge.
The notion that abdominal obesity is the most dangerous kind isn't new. Back in the 1940s, the French physician Jean Vague observed that some obese patients had normal blood chemistry, while some moderately overweight patients showed serious abnormalities that predisposed them to heart disease or diabetes. Almost always, the latter patients carried their fat around their middles. And, almost always, they were men.
The brain signals fat cells to release the energy packages, or fatty acid molecules, to the bloodstream. The muscles, lungs and heart pick up these fatty acids, break them apart, and use the energy stored in the bonds to execute their activities. The scraps that remain are discarded as part of respiration, in the outgoing carbon dioxide, or in urine. This leaves the fat cell empty and renders it useless. The cells actually have a short lifespan so when they die the body absorbs the empty cast and doesn’t replace them. Over time, the body directly extracts the energy (i.e., calories) from food to the organs that need them instead of storing it first.
Do this: Fifteen to 30 minutes (or less) before training, consume 20g of protein powder in a whey shake or other protein powder source and 30-40g of carbohydrates to help you train hard all the way through your workout. Stick with slow-digesting carbs here, such as oat bran, oatmeal, rye or whole-wheat bread, fruit, or sweet potatoes. On nonworkout days, eat that meal as a snack and drop your post-workout feeding.
But if it's a person who always seems to find you at 4:58 p.m., your level of comfort telling Bob what’s what will determine your self-care promoting action. Put this in your calendar so that you know — even if you’re exhausted/hangry/busier than ever and have Bob clamoring at your office door — that this is a priority for you. Then, follow your Ulysses contract for tonight and tomorrow by saying, "See you tomorrow, Bob!"
4. Meditate daily: A study from the University of California, San Francisco found that meditating for just 30 minutes a day can reduce belly fat by way of reducing stress levels (remember that cortisol/fat connection). Plus, a regular mindfulness or meditation practice can help you eat less calories overall and cave less to cravings and emotional eating (and all those processed ingredients that wreak havoc on your fat-regulating hormones).
The rest of the meals throughout the day are fair game. You may distribute fat intake throughout the day however you prefer. You can spread it evenly among meals or eat most of it in one meal. It is recommended that you eat 10-15 grams of fat with your bedtime meal. This will be enough to slow digestion of your nighttime protein and preserve muscle tissue throughout the night while not having any effect on fat loss.
Grazing is a surprisingly good idea because it helps you avoid metabolic slowdown. "Your body will be tricked into thinking it's constantly eating, so it will never slow your metabolism down," explains Bauer. Aim for five small meals (200 to 500 calories) a day rather than three large ones. Also try not to go more than four hours without eating — if you eat breakfast at 7am, for example, have a snack at 10am, lunch at noon, another snack at 3pm and dinner at 7pm.

Protein. Deciding how much protein to eat at each meal is simple. Take the total protein you are supposed to consume during the day and divide it evenly among the essential eating times. Let’s say, for example, you are supposed to be eating 200 grams of protein per day. Since there 5 essential eating times you just need to divide 200 by 5. This means that you will need to take in 40 grams of protein at each meal.
Sometimes, to whip your body into shape, you have to get a little nutty. While nuts are high in fat, it’s that very fat that makes them such powerful weapons in the war against a ballooning belly. In fact, research from Reina Sofia University Hospital reveals that study participants who consumed a diet rich in monounsaturated fats, like those in nuts, over a 28-day period gained less belly fat than their saturated fat-consuming counterparts while improving their insulin sensitivity.
Harley acknowledged that "jumping 1,000 steps per day each week can be daunting" and that not everyone is starting at 10,000 steps each day. If you're hovering somewhere closer to 5,000 steps daily, the goal is the same. Add 1,000 steps per day for week one, another 1,000 for week two, and so on until your new daily average is 4,000 steps above your start point.
For this lightning-fast Tabata workout, pick four total-body moves (plank jacks, jump squats, etc.). Do one for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, then do it again. Continue to the next move and repeat. The routine is just four minutes long—and you’ll torch 13½ calories a minute and double your calorie burn for half an hour afterward, per research from Auburn University in Alabama.
"When we’re lacking in sleep, our body’s hormones get thrown off balance which can impact our hunger levels the next day. We all have two hormones that affect our appetite: ghrelin and leptin. When we don’t get enough sleep, our ghrelin levels (the hormone that makes us feel hungry) rise, and our leptin levels (the hormone that makes us feel full) drop. This means that when we’re awake, we tend to eat more but feel less satisfied. Try going to bed a little earlier than usual to avoid this imbalance and remember to remove any distractions that might prevent you from nodding off."

Jame LeCheminant and colleagues looked at the short-term effect restriction of night eating had on daily calorie consumption, weight trends, and even mood associated with this deprivation. They recruited 29 young men and asked them to avoid consuming calories (water was okay) between the hours of 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. for two weeks. During these two weeks the participants recorded every bite they consumed, and their weight, mood, and level of hunger at breakfast were monitored. There was a one-week break, and then for two more weeks (a control period) the subjects were monitored as they returned to their usual way of life. That’s it. There were no other interventions or exercises to perform.

Close the Kitchen at Night. Establish a time when you will stop eating so you won't give in to the late-night munchies or mindless snacking while watching television. "Have a cup of tea, suck on a piece of hard candy or enjoy a small bowl of light ice cream or frozen yogurt if you want something sweet after dinner, but then brush your teeth so you will be less likely to eat or drink anything else," suggests Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, WebMD's "Recipe Doctor" and the author of Comfort Food Makeovers.
I joined the August FWTFL group knowing that I was ready, both mentally and emotionally, to make some big changes. Two small kids, a full-time business, and just life in general have been so busy for the past several years that I have not consistently made the time to prioritize my own fitness and health. I knew I needed structure and accountability, but also the freedom to LIVE life and enjoy the things that are important to me (such as a glass of wine on occasion, dinners out at restaurants with the family, and fun social events) without constantly feeling deprived. I’ve tried those other exercise and food plans and just could never make them “stick” long-term because they did not fit my life.  

This could be because the body increases insulin secretion in anticipation that sugar will appear in the blood. When this doesn’t happen, blood sugar drops and hunger increases. Whether this chain of events regularly takes place is somewhat unclear. Something odd happened when I tested Pepsi Max though, and there are well-designed studies showing increased insulin when using artificial sweeteners.
Whole-grain rye crackers, sometimes called crispbreads, offer a low-fat, fiber-packed alternative to traditional crackers. Research suggests people who replace refined grains with whole grains tend to have less belly fat. Whole grains also provide a richer assortment of plant nutrients. This doesn't just apply to crackers. You can get the same benefits by switching to whole-grain breads, cereals, and pastas.
3. Stand up more: By now, we all know sitting for too long increases your risk for most diseases, including obesity. But it also shuts down your body’s ability to metabolize fat. According to a study from Missouri University, certain enzymes in the blood vessels of muscles that are responsible for burning fat are “shut off” if you sit still for too long. The good news? The researchers say standing and moving just lightly will re-engage the enzymes.
Want to burn more fat? Sleep more because the impact of sleep on weight loss is significant. The importance of sound sleep is the #1 non-negotiable – it is the time your body requires to heal, rest and power up for the next day. By not getting enough sleep, you are putting stress on your body and increase the hormones that make you even more tired – which leads your body to STORE fat instead of burn fat! Besides feeling excessively tired, lack of sound sleep also spurs bad carb cravings and caffeine which can become a vicious cycle that millions of people are currently stuck in. Tips: Stop all technology at least 30 minutes before bed, invest in a great bed/pillow, use blackout curtains and try doing something calm and restful before bed like reading. Sip on some sleepy time or chamomile tea 60 minutes before bed for the calming effects of the herbs. 

With my mind in a better place, I was able to buckle down and really learn about and change my approach nutrition. I didn't feel deprived at all, actually just the opposite! Some days I was too full to even finish all my food. The workouts were excellent. I loved that I could do them at home, and I actually look forward to working out and challenging myself now- a new sensation to say the least.
When trying to build and maintain muscle mass, adequate protein intake is a must. The best choices for protein are lean animal proteins. Protein that is not derived from an animal source is that it is considered an incomplete protein. This means that it lacks certain essential amino acids necessary to build muscle. Here are some of the best choices choices for protein:
Women who wake up and go to bed at the same time each day have lower levels of body fat, according to a study of more than 300 women from Brigham Young University in Utah. Chaotic sleep habits cause your internal clock to go haywire, which in turn causes your body to secrete fat-storing hormones like cortisol. The sweet spot? Try not to stray an hour from your usual sleep pattern, the study authors say. More than a 90-minute difference in sleep and wake times were linked to more body fat. (Tossing and turning? Check out these 100 tips to sleep better every night.)
Belly fat is, in fact, the colloquial term for abdominal fat. According to medical experts, belly fat can be potentially dangerous. Excess of it can lead to a number of health problems including heart diseases, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, a decrease in the level of HDL or good cholesterol, and can even lead to strokes or sleep apnea. You need to combat this problem before it gets too late.
In the study described above, the participants had to shut down the kitchen after 7 p.m. What’s so magical about this time? By 7 p.m., the researchers found that most participants had likely already consumed dinner (so there was no need for the study participants to skip meals and totally deprive themselves and their metabolism). You’ll likely agree that once dinner is over, your late-night snack options aren’t always healthy choices. By shutting down the kitchen (at 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. or even 8 p.m.), you’ll be more likely to eliminate consumption of late-night empty calories.
No more making excuses as to why you can’t lose weight. No app/tablet/personal chef? No problem. This study highlights the K.I.S.S. method at its best. The study authors state that “there were no gadgets or record-keeping, and the intervention was simple to understand and implement.” In other words, by simply not eating after a certain time, the participants took in fewer calories and lost weight. Remarkable.
REAL NUTRITION – Whether eating at home or eating out, you will always have healthy options to keep you nourished and satisfied. We DO Not use or require any pre-packaged foods nor any of those nasty shakes. We do not prescribe any pharmaceutical drugs and you will NOT receive any injections. Our Doctor- approved food list promotes proper nutrients so you can lose weight, not health.
After setting your “Kitchen Closing” time, determine the set dinnertime that works for you and your family most nights of the week. Sure, every now and again, life (think: sports practice, late nights at the office, etc.) will interfere. But by eating earlier in the evening, you’ll leave time for a brisk walk after dinner and certainly give yourself more time to digest before retiring for the night (and your heart and digestive system will thank you).
Some studies have shown that a protein shake consumed immediately after training can produce up to 25 times higher levels of protein synthesis when compared to a protein shake that is consumed 3 hours post workout. This shows how important it is to get this shake in right away. Since timing is so important in the post workout state it is important to choose a protein that is quickly digested.
The best tip I can give you on how to reroute yourself when you’re on your way to the bag of chips is to pause and think a little bit more about what you’re actually in the mood to eat — and what you’d really want if you could have absolutely ANYTHING. Do some strategic thinking and consider if it's the meal that you want, or if it's a specific spice or flavor. (Burritos? Maybe you just wanted some guac!)
To prep his patients for success, Dr. Seltzer tells them to plan around a large evening meal by eating a lighter breakfast and lunch—NBD since most people who eat a meal before bed tend to wake up feeling relatively full, he says. Research suggests balanced bedtime meals may also promote steady next-day blood sugar levels, which also helps with appetite regulation.
Spending your lunch break outside or taking a quick walk during your workday will make a huge difference. Taking 10-20 minutes in the sunshine mostly unprotected (but always protecting your face) will help to naturally boost your body’s vitamin D levels. There are so many benefits of Vitamin D – it will boost your immune system, energy levels, and overall mood!
Fitness and lifestyle coach Marci Nevin (@marcinevin on Instagram) posted nine simple, easy-to-follow eating tips to lose fat without the tediousness of having to count calories. She said that while counting calories ensures more accuracy in knowing if you're reaching your calorie goal, calorie counting isn't for everyone. Here's how you can still shed body fat "without meticulously counting every calorie."

Carbs. Carbs cause insulin release which, as we now know, is a double edged sword. The important thing is to consume carbs at times of the day where they will be most useful and will be less likely to inhibit fat loss. The three times of the day where carbs must be consumed are the pre-training meal, post-training shake, and the post-training meal. Here is how you should distribute your carbs among these meals.

Our journey started years ago when life decided to throw us into emotional turmoil. As a couple, we desired and longed to have children. Our hopes were shattered when we found out the little girl that we had prayed for had a terminal disease that was not compatible with life. We lost our little girl on Thanksgiving Day. We both began to lose site of our physical health as we were in survival mode. Emotional eating took over. A couple of years after we lost our daughter, my father in law committed suicide which again sent our family into a spiral of unhealthy choices as we were trying to cope with tremendous loss. Our physical health was of no importance as we were trying to heal emotionally. We were consumed by many unhealthy habits that temporarily made us feel better. Fast forward a couple of more years, and I was diagnosed with an extremely rare tumor in my low back. After my first surgery, the tumor returned aggressively within 3 months and my treatment options were small. At this time we realized that our health is nothing to take for granted. We had 2 small children that needed healthy parents. After years of abusing our bodies with unhealthy foods and lack of exercise, we decided to get serious about our health. Shawn worked out and I struggled to find a program that would actually work. Shawn was not a "program" type of guy but I needed structure and something to follow. I had tried so many things and nothing seemed to work. I was struggling with chronic pain and I seemed to never be able to complete anything because my body wasn't allowing it. I found the FWTFL program on a blog and started researching. The premise made sense to me, but I still needed direction. Shawn bought the first round for my Mother's Day gift and I knew this was my last hope. I was amazed that within the first 3 weeks, the pain in my low back and hip was so much better. My body was allowing me to work hard and I was getting stronger. I think the progressive workouts combined with whole food nutrition was key. My body was responding well. I wanted to continue because I knew it would only get better! After the first 6 weeks, I was a changed person. Emotionally, I felt amazing....for the first time in years. I felt confident and I could see awesome physical changes. I signed up for the second round and this is where Shawn entered the picture. He was so impressed with the changes I saw in the first round that he wanted to give the Men's Group a shot. I think for us, we wanted the physical changes in our appearance but it became so much more. My body was actually healing from the chronic pain and THAT was the selling point for Shawn. Because I am still battling this tumor, I have MRI's every 4 months. My last scan showed that what I was feeling was real. I have been battling bursitis in both hips for years. My last scan show this was totally gone. That is a huge win. This program not only gives you results physically but it allows your body to be as healthy as it can possibly be! Shawn was impressed and decided it was time for him to take control of his health as well. Together, we endured the loss of our baby, the loss of a father and we have battled for my health. Together, we ate clean, never missed a workout and pushed each other to be the best, healthiest we could possibly be. Together, we will continue to make healthy choices and live a life that will push others to do the same. We are both thankful for the knowledge that Amanda shared with us. It has given us the ability to take control of our emotional and physical health. We are two grateful people that share a passion for life and we do not take our health or each other for granted! We appreciate this opportunity!


Eat More Produce. Eating lots of low-calorie, high-volume fruits and vegetables crowds out other foods that are higher in fat and calories. Move the meat off the center of your plate and pile on the vegetables. Or try starting lunch or dinner with a vegetable salad or bowl of broth-based soup, suggests Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan. The U.S. government's 2005 Dietary Guidelines suggest that adults get 7-13 cups of produce daily. Ward says that's not really so difficult: "Stock your kitchen with plenty of fruits and vegetables and at every meal and snack, include a few servings," she says. "Your diet will be enriched with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, and if you fill up on super-nutritious produce, you won't be reaching for the cookie jar."
Instead of satisfying your sweet tooth with some refined sugar, turn to berries and enjoy a slimmer waistline in no time. Berries are loaded with antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, and research from the University of Michigan reveals that rats given a berry-rich diet shaved off a significant proportion of their belly fat when compared to a control group. Berries like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are also loaded with resveratrol, an antioxidant pigment that has been linked to reductions in belly fat and a reduced risk of dementia, to boot.
While maintaining good habits during the day—eating well, exercising regularly—are crucial for weight loss, resting at night is just as important for keeping off the pounds. In a study published by Plos One journal last year, researchers found that people who skimped on sleep were more likely to have higher body mass indexes and larger waist circumferences than those who got adequate shut-eye.

It's the age-old question: How many sets do you need, and how much time should you spend in the gym each day? The answer varies from person to person, but when burning fat is the primary goal, a good rule of thumb is to train until you're pretty beat up, but not to the point at which you're flattened and thoroughly exhausted. That type of kamikaze training may satisfy your pysche, but it does a number on your anabolic hormones.


There’s mounting evidence that our body’s natural internal clocks, or circadian rhythms, drive a lot of our biological processes, including weight maintenance. They tend to sync up with daylight. That could be why studies have shown that shift workers tend to have a higher rate of obesity and weight gain—their body clocks are out of sync. One study even found that a third of people who experienced an interrupted sleep cycle for less than two weeks became prediabetic; all of the poor sleepers saw markers for the risk of obesity and type two diabetes climb.

When it comes to the rate at which progress can be made fat loss is far different from muscle growth. Whereas building muscle is a slow process, fat loss can take place at a pretty rapid pace. We have all seen the commercials that promise to help you lose 10-20 lbs. in a few weeks. While it is entirely possible to lose huge amounts of weight in short periods of time, this is not what we are aiming for.

3. Caffeine: Coffee is good for more than just a jolt in the morning. A study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that consuming caffeine an hour before you hit the gym can help you burn about 15 percent more calories than normal. What’s more, other research has found that sipping on the stimulant before the gym can help you eat fewer calories afterward.

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