Obesity Rates in USA

by November 13, 2012

It is no surprise to we Americans that many of us have a weight problem. In the 1980’s and 1990’s we saw rapid increases in the US obesity rates, which now appear to be leveling out.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) complied data from more than 600,000 adult Americans were polled and showed that 35.7% are obese in comparison to 30.5% from 1999-2000.



Cynthia Ogden, a CDC epidemiologist and the report’s lead author comments “There is really a slowing down of the rapid increase in the prevalence of obesity that we saw in the 1980s and 1990s…Those increases we saw earlier are not continuing, and we may be seeing a plateau.” 

Some are questioning this statement of a plateau, citing that the percentages of obese children and adults varied little between 2008 and 2010. The fact remains though, there is still cause for concern. More than 1/3 of the population which translates to over 78 million Americans were obese from 2009-2010.

The effects of obesity on our health are well publicized, the raised risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, stroke and other obesity related health issues cost Americans approximately $147 billion annually.

The key to resolving our nation’s high obesity rates is education. By creating awareness and imparting knowledge, the people at ShapeWell will help Americans become equipped with the knowledge to prevent reaching an unhealthy weight.

Food Journal – A Dieter’s Secret Weapon

by November 10, 2012
Between our busy lives and hectic schedules, many of us eat on the go or while multitasking. By the end of the day we have no idea exactly how many calories we’ve eaten and don’t have a chance to succeed at weight loss.  Research has shown that dieters who keep a food journal are more likely to lose weight. Generally speaking they lose 6 pounds more on average than dieters who do not keep a record of food intake.

food diaryFood journals work because they make you aware of what, how much, when and why you are eating. You can easily see which foods you are consuming and those foods which you aren’t getting enough of. Dieters who use their food journals properly become aware of portion control and mindless snacking. By keeping a journal you are forcing yourself to acknowledge everything which passes your lips and chances are you’ll begin healthier eating habits.

Realize What You Are Eating

By writing it down, you can easily calculate the daily caloric intake and control your portion sizes.

Reduce Between Meal Snacking

Accountability is difficult when you don’t pay attention to what you are eating. With a food journal you’re fully focused on your nutrition and will find yourself less inclined to eat that tempting snack because it’s not really worth the calories in the end.

Identify Where Your Diet is Unbalanced

As you see your food listed on the page over a week you’ll be able to see where you’re not eating enough from certain food groups. Perhaps you think you are consuming the appropriate amount of dairy or vegetables a day but you won’t know for certain until you keep track.

Find Triggers

Seeing the hard facts of your eating patterns may bring to light the things which trigger you to eat. Uncovering emotional eating patterns allows you to put other coping mechanisms in place and raise your chances of weight lose success.

Get Results Quickly

As long as you are brutally honest within your food diary you will begin to see changes. Where you didn’t eat enough vegetables in the beginning you’ll see that you’ve increased the amounts, improving your digestive function and eating less calorie-rich foods. Your food journal will show you what you ate during a time when you lost weight so you can repeat this, knowing that your body responds well to those foods. On the other hand it will show when you’ve eaten foods which slowed weight loss and allow you to modify your diet appropriately.

Salt & Sugar – A Dieting Nightmare

by November 9, 2012

For people looking to become healthier by losing weight, it can be confusing to sort through all the information and advice give in the dieting world. Some experts say that only calories matter and as long as a person consumes fewer calories than the body requires for energy, weight loss will occur. Others say that different types of calories either promote or inhibit weight loss due to their effects on the metabolism and feelings of satiety.

The truth is that while calories-in-calories-out is still the fundamental principle behind weight loss, consuming foods high in salt or sugar can make it difficult for people to lose weight and stay healthy. Salt and sugar can derail weight loss efforts by increasing cravings and failing to give a feeling of fullness at a meal.

Sugar and dietingSugar is a type of carbohydrate. There are many naturally occurring forms of sugar, such as sugar found in fruit and milk. Sometimes there are added sugars in food, including ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup. Carbohydrates are a quick form of energy and are an important part of a balanced diet. According to the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), a healthy diet includes around six servings of carbohydrates a day. These carbohydrates should come mostly from whole grains, which are high in fiber and take a longer time to digest. One of the problems with sugar, according to the Mayo Clinic, is that it causes spikes in insulin and blood sugar. Once the spike drops, a person may feel groggy and crave more unhealthy foods. Added sugar should be avoided in favor of “slower” carbohydrates, such as whole grains.

Salt or sodium, can also be problematic for those trying to drop pounds. People think of salt inside the shaker at the dinner table, but the CDC reports most sodium intake comes from sodium already added to processed foods. Salt can increase a person’s likelihood of stroke, heart disease, and kidney disease. Better Health advises that salt can cause water retention, which causes disheartening jumps on the scale for dieters. The CDC recommends the average American consume no more than 2,000 mg of salt per day.

In summary, reducing the intake of salt and sugar is an important step to eating healthier and losing weight. While technically possible to only consume salty and sugary foods in low quantities and lose weight, this type of diet would be neither healthy nor sustainable. When eating at a calorie deficit, it is important to eat foods that are digested slowly and are high in fiber. This allows a person to feel fuller for longer and continue to make healthy choices. By following the guidelines set forth by the CDC and HSPH, a person can lose weight while eating balanced and healthy meals.

5 Worst Locations for Snacking While Dieting

by November 8, 2012

Snacking in-between meals is the number one reason why dieters fail or gain weight after losing weight. Snacking while dieting can be the downfall of any weight-loss attempts.The act of eating snacks isn’t actually the problem; it’s the lack of portion control, attention and choices which cause us to fail.

By having healthy choices on hand, controlling our portions and paying attention, we can see positive results.

There are locations which also pose a problem for dieters, mainly because they encourage the negative behaviors we’ve listed above. Even as certain high-fat and high-calorie snacks are best avoided by dieters, several popular snacking locations can prove perilous as well.

5 Worst Locations for Snacking While Dieting

Snacking While Driving

We all do it, drive through windows are a testament to our need for food on the go. Anyone who has seen the movie Supersize Me knows the dangers involved in drive through eating. When presented with a choice between a burger and a salad, chances are we’ll be making unwise eating choices.

Experts agree that people who are trying to lose weight should consume their food in an environment that is calming, paying attention to portion size and taste. When you’re on the road snacking you aren’t really paying attention to your food. Perhaps you’re doing a quick calculation of calories before taking the first bite but are you actually enjoying it?

Have you fallen into the habit of instant gratification while on the road?

Snacking While Dieting

Snacking at the Movie Theater

Ask anyone who has ever attended a movie theater and they’ll agree the first thought that comes to mind is the smell of buttery popcorn. This is no coincidence, movie theaters rely upon the income generated by their snack bars.

Not only are movie theater snacks expensive their portion sizes are large and full of empty calories. Ask yourself if you’ve ever sat through a two hour movie without munching with no memory of how much you had consumed.

Can you imagine going to the movies and bypassing the snack bar?

Snacking In Front of The TV

Sitting in front of the TV watching your favorite show or movie has become an extension of the movie going experience.

As we watch our programs we are inundated with triggers. Each commercial break brings advertisements from companies promoting their delicious, high calorie products. The ads stimulate our senses and we often find we’re suddenly craving something which isn’t on our diet.

Have you ever found yourself searching the fridge after a stimulating food commercial?

Snacking While On-line

Whether you’re taking on-line courses, working at your desk or simply browsing social media you’re at risk for snacking. Many people who are on-line spend their time snacking away without realizing it. Their fingers reach for food without much thought, certainly not realizing what they’re eating.

This can quickly become a habit and the weight begins to creep on.

Do you set yourself up for failure by bringing a full bag of chips to the computer?

Snacking At Bedtime

It’s the snacking right before we sleep that is actually the worst of all. Our bodies are about to be the least active of the day and our metabolism will be at its lowest rate of the day. By eating poor choices before bed we can sabotage all of the good choices we’ve made throughout the day.

There really is no good location for poor snacking; in the end it’s up to each of us to set our minds to the fact that we’re changing our lifestyles. Make the choice to eat food only in situations where you’re paying attention; such as at a dining room table, in the lunch room at work or school. Be sure to dish up appropriate portions and get the unhealthy snack foods out of the house.

Cutting Calories Without Eating Less

by November 7, 2012

As any dieter knows we must eat less calories than we burn in order to lose weight. If you’ve ever been on a diet you also know that eating less often leaves a person feeling hungry and looking for quick ways to feel full again. Rather than simply reducing your portion sizes we suggest that you increase your intake of foods that have high nutritional value without being high in calories.

vegetables and dietingFruits, vegetables, lean meats and low fat dairy are foods which leave you feeling satisfied without weighing you down.

5 Tips for Cutting Calories Without Eating Less

Eating Less With Vegetables

Jam It With Veggies

Add veggies to everything, by simply adding carrots, lettuce, avocado or tomatoes to a chicken wrap you’re increasing the nutritional value and satisfying your hunger at the same time.

Choose The Right Fruit

Fruit as a snack is a good choice right? Yes it is, but it can be the BEST choice if you’re choosing the right fruit. Choosing fruits which are high in water content means less calories.  Reach for fruits like watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, peaches and plums rather than high calorie choices like bananas.

Begin With Soup or Salad

Having a salad with light dressing or a broth-based soup prior to meals will have you feeling fuller faster. Your stomach will recognize the fluid or vegetables and your hunger will subside, leaving you less likely to consume wasted calories.

Choose Egg Whites

Egg whites are high in protein and low in fat and cholesterol. A large egg will set you back about 80 calories, yet the whites from two large eggs contain 34 calories and a quarter-cup of egg substitute has 30 calories.

Lean Protein Only

Lean protein is an important part of any healthy diet and can help with your weight-loss efforts. Lean protein provides you with a sense of fullness and helps prevent overeating. Good choices of lean proteins are:  shrimp, tilapia, light tuna in water, low fat dairy, beans, peas, lentils and roasted turkey breast.

Fat Burning Cardio & Heart Rate Levels

by October 31, 2012

A lot of people do cardio workouts in order to burn fat, and there is a lot of conflicting information in the fitness world about how intense workouts should be, in order to burn the most fat. One way to measure workout intensity is to measure heart rate. By finding the exercise intensity and heart rate level that fits your goals and comfort level the best, you can get the most out of your workout.

Low-intensity workouts burn a higher percentage of fat than higher intensity workouts, but higher intensity workouts burn more fat overall. To put it another way, low-intensity workouts are more geared towards “fat-burning,” but high intensity workouts burn so many more calories that more fat ends up getting burned in the end. That’s where personal preference comes into play – would you rather do a low-intensity workout for an hour and a half or a high intensity workout for forty-five minutes? Additionally, the different intensities have different health benefits. High intensity activities help improves cardiovascular health, whereas low intensity exercise may be gentler on joints.

How To Determine Your Heart Rate Level

One way of measuring the intensity of your workout is to measure your heart rate. First, calculate your maximum heart rate. To do this, take 220 and subtract your age. If you are 25, your maximum heart rate is 195. Exercise intensity is measured based on how fast your heart is beating relative to your maximum heart rate.

  • Low intensity means your heart rate during exercise is 40% to 50% of your maximum heart rate.
  • Medium intensity means your heart rate during exercise is 50% to 70% of your maximum heart rate.
  • High intensity means your heart rate during exercise is 70% to 85% of your maximum heart rate.

Use Heart Rate levels During High Intensity/Low Impact Cardio

The best way to utilize intensity rankings is to determine your target heart rate. Let’s say you want to have a medium intensity workout, and your maximum heart rate is 195. To get your target heart rate, take 60% of 195 (0.60 x 195 = 117). Your target heart rate would be 117. To check, stop during exercise for a second and count the number of times your heart beats in 10 seconds. Multiply this number by 6, and if it is close to your target, you are doing a medium intensity workout!

As mentioned above, all levels of intensity will burn fat, but the most fat is burned during a high intensity workout. It is always best to switch things up, plan on doing a couple of high intensity workouts a week with low intensity work outs scattered between. A quality heart rate monitor might be a good investment for those interested in heart rate and intensity levels.

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