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</P> Are you a scale slave? Do you step on the nefarious little box and pray that the numbers donâ??t add up? Many people fall into this habit when trying to establish a healthy body weight.

Scaling Back

Are you a scale slave? Do you step on the nefarious little box and pray that the numbers don’t add up? Many people fall into this habit when trying to establish a healthy body weight. The problem is that it’s easy to feel anxious or upset when it doesn’t look like the efforts you’ve put into your new exercise program are paying off. The solution? Stay off the scale!

Weight isn’t an accurate way of measuring your progress, according to the IDEA Health and Fitness Association in San Diego, Calif. It doesn’t take into account temporary water gain or tell you how much muscle you’re building. Muscle actually weighs nine times more than fat but takes up less space, so your weight could conceivably increase as your size shrinks.

Instead of stepping on the scale every day, do a body-check. Can you lift heavier weights than when you first started? Can you jog further without becoming out of breath? Do you notice muscle firmness that wasn’t there before? Do your clothes fit any differently? Asking yourself these types of questions will reveal the positive changes that may have occurred without you noticing, which in turn will help keep you motivated.

Physically Fit Men Suffer Fewer Strokes

The fact that regular exercise lowers the risk of stroke isn’t new. However, most studies reaching this conclusion have been based on self-reported physical activity rather than on actual scientific evaluation. Now researchers at the Cooper Institute and the West Texas A & M University have released the results of a 10-year study aimed at determining how physical fitness affected risk of stroke. The project, reported in the April 2002 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Medicine, involved 16,878 men between the ages of 40 and 87. The men’s cardio-respiratory fitness was determined through a treadmill test. The researchers found that the fittest men had a 68 per cent lower risk--and the moderately fit men a 63 per cent lower risk--of dying from a stroke than the least fit men.
--H. Larsen

Six Sensible Rules for a Healthier Diet

  1. Don’t skip breakfast. Do "break the fast." Eat something substantial such as a bowl of cereal or muesli with fruit and yogurt to give you energy throughout the morning.

  2. Don’t buy lunch. Do brown bag it. Packing a healthy meal to take to work or with you on your errands will help curb the temptation to overeat or indulge in trans-fatty junk food come lunch.

  3. Don’t scarf down a meal in front of the television or computer. Do take time to sit down at a table and enjoy what’s on your plate. You’d be surprised at how much better food actually tastes when you’re not distracted.

  4. Don’t wait until 6:00 p.m. to plan a 6:01 meal. Do put some thought into dinner plans and do any prep work in advance. You’ll be less likely to be tempted by takeout.

  5. Don’t skip meals, which lowers your metabolism and can make you crankier than a baby with a dirty diaper. Do eat regular meals and snacks consisting of whole grains and nuts, and fresh enzyme-rich fruits and vegetables.

  6. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that drinks don’t count. Alcohol isn’t nutritious and is full of empty calories. Do increase your consumption of bottled water, fresh juices and herbal teas.
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