The Truth Behind Weight Loss Ads

weight loss

Summer is just around the corner, and so are the endless advertisements for weight loss.  Common sense will tell you that cutting down on your caloric intake and exercising are your best bets for shedding those extra pounds.  But just in case, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) provides some helpful information and tips on what to be aware of when looking for ways to lose weight.

Claims to watch out for include:

Lose weight without diet or exercise!

Getting to a healthy weight takes work. Take a pass on any product that promises miraculous results without the effort. The only thing you’ll lose is money.

Lose weight no matter how much you eat of your favorite foods!

Beware of any product that claims that you can eat all the high-calorie food you want and still lose weight. Losing weight requires sensible food choices. Filling up on healthy vegetables and fruits can make it easier to say no to fattening sweets and snacks.

Lose weight permanently! Never diet again!

Even if you’re successful in taking weight off, permanent weight loss requires permanent lifestyle changes. Don’t trust any product that promises once-and-for-all results without ongoing maintenance.

Just take a pill!

Doctors, dieticians, and other experts agree that there’s simply no magic way to lose weight without diet or exercise. Even pills approved by FDA to block the absorption of fat or help you eat less and feel full are to be taken with a low-calorie, low-fat diet and regular exercise.

Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!

Losing weight at the rate of a pound or two a week is the most effective way to take it off and keep it off. At best, products promising lightning-fast weight loss are a scam. At worst, they can ruin your health.

Everybody will lose weight!

Your habits and health concerns are unique. There is no one-size-fits-all product guaranteed to work for everyone. Team up with your health care provider to design a nutrition and exercise program suited to your lifestyle and metabolism.

Lose weight with our miracle diet patch or cream!

You’ve seen the ads for diet patches or creams that claim to melt away the pounds. Don’t believe them. There’s nothing you can wear or apply to your skin that will cause you to lose weight.

Acai Berry Supplements in the “News”

More and more, scam artists are exploiting people’s trust in well-known news organizations by setting up fake news sites with the logos of legitimate news organizations to peddle their wares. In particular, sites claiming to be objective news sources may describe a so-called “investigation” of the effectiveness of acai berry dietary supplements for weight loss. These sites are a marketing ploy created to sell acai berry supplements.

Tainted Weight Loss Products

In the last few years, FDA has discovered hundreds of dietary supplements containing drugs or other chemicals, often in products for weight loss and bodybuilding. These extras generally aren’t listed on the label — and might even be sold with false and misleading claims like “100% natural” and “safe.” They could cause serious side effects or interact in dangerous ways with medicines or other supplements you’re taking.

The Skinny on Electronic Muscle Stimulators

You might have seen ads for electronic muscle stimulators claiming they will tone, firm, and strengthen abdominal muscles, help you lose weight, or get rock hard abs. But according to FDA, while these devices may temporarily strengthen, tone, or firm a muscle, no electronic muscle stimulator device alone will give you “six-pack” abs.

Always, check with your doctor before starting any weight loss plan.  And be sure to check out any company before you do business with BBB at

5 Dinner Power Combos for Youth & Vitality


It’s the question we ask ourselves almost every day: What’s for dinner?

Entwined in this daily dialogue is wondering whether we’ll need to dash into the grocery store on the way home from work. The next time we make one of those supermarket pit stops, Dr. Eudene Harry, author of “Live Younger in 8 Simple Steps,” (, would like us to veer in a new direction.

“When people shop on the go, they tend to gravitate toward old standbys and foods they can multipurpose with – usually not the most nutritious choices possible. But by substituting a few items on your list, you can not only look and feel more youthful, you’ll boost your resistance to certain cancers and other illnesses.”

Some of the most nutrition-packed foods not only taste great, they’re readily available at the grocery store and easy to prepare, Harry says.

“The more you eat, the more you’ll crave them.”

Here are five food combos for shoppers with healthy eating on their minds:

• Tomato, garlic, chicken and almonds: Tomatoes contain one of the world’s most concentrated sources of cancer-fighting lycopene, which is best absorbed from tomatoes that are cooked. Garlic has been used for centuries for various health purposes and is a known free-radical destroyer. Nuts help to lose weight, maintain healthy blood pressure and support moods; almond crumbs are a great substitute for bread crumbs on chicken. Pair these goodies with whole wheat couscous for a full dinner.

• Pomegranate-Balsamic tempeh: With its high protein, fiber and isoflavones content, and meaty texture, tempeh is heavily utilized by vegetarians. It’s made from soybeans processed in a manner similar to cheese making. Like tofu, tempeh takes on the flavors with which it is cooked or marinated, including zesty-tangy balsamic vinegar – perfect for accentuating salads.

• Mashed cauliflower gone Greek: Not only does the “original” yogurt have a thicker texture and richer taste, it’s also denser in lactobacilli, the healthy bacteria that may delay the onset of cancer. And yogurt is low in fat and high in protein, which is essential for many body functions, including building and repairing muscle tissue, organs, bones and connective tissue. Rather than add fatty, cholesterol-filled butter and sour cream to starchy potatoes that stick to your ribs, why not pair two healthy options with mashed cauliflower with Greek yogurt and fresh black pepper for simple goodness?

• Sushi – wild salmon, minced cucumbers, shredded carrots, kelp, sesame seeds and rice: A sushi roll is much more filling and satisfying than a non-sushi eater would think. Many grocery chains offer ready-made rolls, but they are also fairly easy to make. A bamboo roller is a great start; place a sheet of nutrient-dense kelp as the first thing on the roller, and add, lengthwise, desired ingredients. Your first try is not likely to be perfect, but the tasty and healthy ingredients will be there.

• Fruit salad for dessert:
Bring together chopped apples, strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon and pineapple with blueberries and grapes for a sweet and juicy post-dinner palate-cleanser. Lemon juice prevents fruits from bruising. If that’s not enough, combine the salad with Greek yogurt – perhaps blended with vanilla or almond extract – and fiber-filled granola for a parfait.



About Eudene Harry, M.D.  – Dr. Eudene Harry holds a bachelor’s in biology from New York University and completed both her medical degree and residency training at Thomas Jefferson University. Currently the medical director for the integrative and holistic Oasis Wellness and Rejuvenation Center, she has practiced medicine for nearly 20 years, is board certified in both emergency and holistic medicine, and for more than a decade practiced emergency medicine as an attending physician in Level II trauma centers. In 2005 she opened Oasis for Optimal Health, a private practice focused on integrative, holistic wellness and empowering and educating the patient.

13 Tips for Smart Health-Food Shopping


By now you know which foods are healthy and which are not. Fruits and veggies should be snack staples, while Doritos and Red Bull really shouldn’t be part of your daily intake. Though you have a handle on where and what to buy, your new year’s resolution to eat healthier seemingly conflicts with your other goal to spend less money.

According to the USDA Economic Research Service, the average cost of fresh fruits and vegetables will increase between 3.5 and 4 percent in 2013. Not surprisingly, that’s higher than the estimated increase for sugar and sweets.

Despite these projections, healthy food doesn’t have to put a huge dent in your bank account. Follow these 13 strategies for smarter health-food shopping on a budget.

1. Plan meals through circulars.
Meal-planning is one of the fundamental rules of saving money at the grocery store and eating healthy. Take your planning session to the next level by reviewing store circulars for weekly sales. Find out which healthy and fresh foods are available for less and create your menu with those ingredients.

2. Go beyond the supermarket.
These days you can find healthy, vitamin-rich food in the same retail space as furniture and home decor. Broaden your grocery store horizons to include places like World Market, and save on everything from quinoa to organic coffee by using discount gift cards. Sites such as offer World Market gift cards for up to 10-percent off, yielding instant savings without coupons.

3. Opt for frozen berries.
Berries offer a number of health benefits: They’re low in calories, high in fiber and contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which promote optimum health and wellness. When not in season, however, fresh berries are expensive. As a cheap alternative — and one that offers a longer shelf life — opt for bags of frozen berries. Though nothing beats fresh fruit in season, frozen fruit tastes just as great in yogurt, oatmeal and smoothies.

4. Choose a cheaper fish.
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week, ideally those that contain omega-3 fatty acid like sole, tuna and salmon. We all know fresh fish comes with a high price tag, but luckily there are a few ways around expensive varieties. Frozen salmon and canned tuna (in water) boast the same health benefits as fresh fish at a lower cost. Look for deals on these alternatives and stock up during sale time.

5. Look for manager markdowns.
From bruised produce to meat nearing the recommended sell-by date, grocery stores typically feature an entire section devoted to discounted food — also known as manager markdowns. These items are perfectly safe for you to consume as long as you eat or freeze them immediately.

6. Buy whole produce.
When shopping for produce, always choose the whole fruit and vegetable. Bags of shredded carrots, cubed melon and sliced mushrooms are convenient, but ultimately costly. Any food that has been diced, chopped, sliced, minced, peeled or bagged is more expensive — a whopping 30 to 40 percent more, in fact. If time is an issue, set aside an hour one night each week to do all the prep work at once.

7. Go in on a side of meat.
Lean beef is a good source of protein and other nutrients when eaten in moderation. Thanks to last year’s drought, however, rising feed costs are transferring to consumers in the form of higher prices. That’s why going in on a side of grass-fed beef with a few other families is a good idea. Though you’ll need storage space, you’ll pay the same price for tenderloin as ground beef ($3 to $5 per pound on average) and get healthier, tastier meat.

8. Avoid select organic produce.
Being picky about what you put in your body is a good thing, but not all organic produce is created equal. Many fruits and veggies with tough or inedible peels — like pineapples, bananas, and avocados — are a waste of money when purchased organic. That’s because most of the pesticides are absorbed by the skin, so check this list from The Environmental Working Group to learn which produce you can skip in the organic section.

9. Try generic brands.
The organic movement has become so popular, many supermarkets have started selling their own organic food. Buying generic will save you up to 30 percent, so review store shelves for these private-label alternatives the next time you shop.

10. Buy select items in bulk.
Buying perishable items in bulk may not make sense for your family, but certain healthy staples represent the best value when purchased en masse. For example, olive oil is a healthy fat that may help lower your risk of heart disease. I save over 50 percent on Bertolli-brand olive oil by purchasing it from Sam’s Club every six months or so.

11. Go meatless.
“Meatless Mondays” is a movement started by mom bloggers who wanted to find healthy meat alternatives while cutting monthly grocery bills. Take a cue from their collective wisdom and cut meat from your menu at least once per week. You may go meatless more often once you see the health and budget benefits.

12. Get clipping.
Most people assume coupons are reserved for processed and otherwise bad-for-you foods. That’s actually a myth, as deals are available for most foods when you know where to look. Whole Foods, Brown Cow and Nature Made all have coupons available on their websites. Kashi includes coupons on their cereal and granola bar product boxes which I use when I need to restock. Ultimately, it’s best to check store or brand websites, social media profiles and email newsletters for coupons.

13. Grow your own.
Those with space for a small garden can benefit both their pocketbook and waistline by growing their own veggies. Tomatoes, bell peppers and various herbs are easy to grow and can reduce the amount you spend on produce. Use HGTV’s tips to build a small garden, and be sure to limit your plant selection to vegetables you consume and purchase frequently.


Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

5 Strategies to Curb Thoughtless Eating

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TOPS Offers Tips to Curb Thoughtless Eating

It’s a common scenario that many people often find themselves in: eating and overeating without rhyme or reason. Perhaps you always seem to feel hungry or eat “just because.” TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, explains the triggers that cause these behaviors and offers solutions to help curb thoughtless overindulgence.

Because It’s There
“It’s Monday, and we could all use a pick-me-up after the weekend,” says a co-worker. The local sandwich shop offers a free cookie with the purchase of a combo meal. The auto body shop replenishes a spread of sweet treats throughout the day while you wait for your service to be completed. When food is in plain sight, it’s convenient to grab a handful simply because it’s there. Be mindful, take personal inventory, and ask yourself if you are truly hungry at that moment. There are times when you may need to remove yourself from the situation or move the temptation out of reach, if necessary.

You Skip Breakfast
It can be difficult to fit a meal into the typical morning rush, but breakfast is considered the “most important meal of the day” for a reason. A study in the “American Journal of Epidemiology” showed that people who regularly skip breakfast are nearly five times as likely to be obese than those who don’t. Breakfast provides your body and mind with the fuel necessary to take on the day and get your metabolism out of its resting state and back to burning calories.

“So many people start every day on a diet and routinely skip breakfast in an effort to compensate for last night’s behavior with the hopes of losing weight,” says Nicholas “Dr. Nick” Yphantides, M.D., M.P.H., Medical Editor for TOPS. “In reality, skipping breakfast is much more likely to cause weight gain rather than weight loss. Overweight and obese individuals are much more likely to skip breakfast in comparison to healthier and leaner individuals.”

Unprocessed, fiber-rich foods like steel-cut or slow-cooked oatmeal, grapefruit, whole-grain and low-sugar cereals, and low-fat dairy are all best bets. If possible, prepare your breakfast ahead of time or bring your breakfast with you to work if you aren’t able to find the time to eat at home.

You’re Emotional
Emotions are a common eating trigger. You may typically celebrate happy news with a gourmet dinner and dessert, or soothe sadness with a large bowl of ice cream. Anger or stress can lead to munching on a seemingly bottomless bag of chips. While eating creates a temporary sense of physical fullness, it only temporarily distracts from the feelings that are bothering you. In actuality, the unhealthy decisions are likely to leave you feeling guilty with a sense of regret, which may start a vicious cycle of continued unhealthy decisions.

Instead, reach out to a friend or family for support and guidance. Even a quick workout releases tension, generates extra energy, and stimulates feel-good endorphins. Relaxing behaviors, like getting a quick massage or taking a hot bath, also help calm the system. If you are celebrating, remember that the occasion is about being with loved ones and creating memories – not about the food. Check in with your hunger level and see if you are actually hungry, or if you’ll be simply satisfied by the company.

You’re Bored
If you know boredom is a trigger for thoughtless eating, have a list of strategies in place to keep yourself busy and entertained when you feel like you don’t have anything else to do. An activity that occupies your hands is ideal, like giving yourself a manicure, reading a book, playing a game on the computer, or writing in a journal. Go for a walk with a friend and/or with your dog. This will also take you away from the kitchen and should help cravings subside. Or, drink a glass of water, which is filling. Snacking on celery or watermelon or chewing a piece of gum can also help curb appetite.

You Don’t Get Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep, or just the typical mid-afternoon energy slump, can lead a person to binge on sugary or salty treats and beverages for a boost. Researchers at Columbia University note, people who sleep two to four hours a night are 73 percent more likely to be obese than those who get seven to nine hours. Those who get five or more hours of sleep a night are 50 percent more likely to be obese than normal sleepers.

“There is substantial and growing medical evidence suggesting some important links between adequate sleep and a healthy weight,” notes Yphantides. “Recent research has indicated that the production of certain hormones, leptin and ghrelin, may be influenced by how much or how little we sleep. Inadequate sleep can influence these hormone levels in our body in such a way that when we are sleep-deprived, we may not be as satisfied when we eat and our appetite may be enhanced. Additionally, it’s harder to be disciplined and make the right decisions when we are exhausted. One way that we may try to perk ourselves up is to consume extra fuel. All these actions contribute to excess caloric consumption and resulting weight gain.”

Getting consistent exercise can improve the quality of sleep and make you feel more rested. Avoid exercising less than three hours before bedtime though, as it can make it more difficult for you to fall asleep. To combat an afternoon lull, drink a large class of refreshing, cold water, take a walk around the office, or head outside for a quick walk. A change of scenery, fresh air, and sunshine can be invigorating and give you a jolt of positive energy.


TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is the original weight-loss support and wellness education organization. Founded more than 64 years ago, TOPS is the only nonprofit, noncommercial weight-loss organization of its kind. TOPS promotes successful weight management with a “Real People. Real Weight Loss.SM” philosophy that combines support from others at weekly chapter meetings, healthy eating, regular exercise, and wellness information. TOPS has about 170,000 members – male and female, age seven and older – in nearly 10,000 chapters throughout the United States and Canada.

Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge. Membership is affordable at just $28 per year in the U.S. and $32 per year in Canada, plus nominal chapter fees. To find a local chapter, view or call (800) 932-8677.

Ten Underappreciated ‘Super Foods’

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Do you know what’s in your fridge?  Believe it or not, there are many ordinary foods in there that have extraordinary nutritional value.  Whether it’s a vegetable or seed, these foods can add flavor and health benefits to any meal or snack.  TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, examines ten ‘super foods’ that you already have at home.
Beans (also known as legumes), including kidney, black, white and red beans, chick peas, and lentils, are a powerful source of protein and complex carbohydrates, as well as fiber and important vitamins and minerals.  Eating beans has been proven to help reduce cholesterol levels, body weight, the risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and some instances of cancer.  Add a variety of beans to your meal, whether they are fresh, frozen, canned, or dried.

Celery is a simple, yet important vegetable, offering vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can reduce cholesterol and protect against cancer.  Add celery to soups, stews, meats, side dishes, and other meals.

With a distinct flavor and fragrance, garlic contains anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties that protect against heart disease, reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and provide anti-clotting features.  It also offers vitamins C and B6, manganese, and selenium.

Whether they’re sliced, diced, chopped, or pureed, onions have a pungent flavor and a lot of nutrition, containing fiber, minerals, and vitamins C and B6.  There has also been research to learn more about onions’ polyphenol and sulfur compounds, which may reduce the risk of cancer and boost immune function and heart health.

Green and yellow vegetables, including green peas, are often associated with reducing the risk of heart disease.  Garden, snow, snap, dried, and other varieties of peas are also loaded with vitamins A, C, K, and B, minerals, fiber, and protein.  They are a great source for eye-healthy compounds beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.  Include peas in a soup or stew, toss them into a salad, or eat them as a snack.

Black Pepper
This common spice is a great way to boost a meal’s flavor without adding calories.  Also, capsaicin, the substance that gives pepper its heat, is known for its anti-cancer properties and inflammation reduction, which is the root of chronic disease.  Use ground, cracked, or whole versions of pepper.

Bell Pepper
Bell peppers come in a variety of vibrant colors – green, red, yellow, orange, and purple.  Peppers offer powerful anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of certain cancers.  Enjoy cooked or raw peppers and their many health benefits.

Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a good source of vitamin E, which serves as an anti-oxidant and contains anti-inflammatory properties.   They also offer B vitamins, heart-healthy polyunsaturated oil, manganese, magnesium, selenium, and phytosterols, a compound known to reduce blood cholesterol levels.  Add sunflower seeds to a fresh salad, mix them into chicken salad, sprinkle them over meat, or grind them up for a spread.

Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are a rich source of copper, which can provide arthritis relief.  They also contain calcium and magnesium, which may lower blood pressure, protect against osteoporosis, and more.  Mix them with steamed vegetables, sautéed fish or chicken, or add sesame seeds to homemade bread.

Canned Tomatoes
Canned tomatoes are not only a versatile ingredient, but they are also a powerhouse of anti-oxidants and nutrients, including lycopene, vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and iron.  Keep some in your pantry for pasta and rice dishes, soups, stews, casseroles, ethnic meals, and other concoctions.


TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is the original weight-loss support and wellness education organization. Founded more than 64 years ago, TOPS is the only nonprofit, noncommercial weight-loss organization of its kind. TOPS promotes successful weight management with a “Real People. Real Weight Loss.” philosophy that combines support from others at weekly chapter meetings, healthy eating, regular exercise, and wellness information. TOPS has about 170,000 members – male and female, age seven and older – in nearly 10,000 chapters throughout the United States and Canada.

Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge. Membership is affordable at just $28 per year in the U.S. and $32 per year in Canada, plus nominal chapter fees. To find a local chapter, view or call (800) 932-8677.

Simple Changes Can Boost Your Health

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(StatePoint) Feeling a little off? Regardless of your age or fitness level, there are steps you can take every day to feel and perform your best.

“Many Americans ignore their pain and fatigue,” says Dr. Keith Overland, president of the American Chiropractic Association (ACA). “But just like world-class athletes who constantly search for ways to optimize their game, we can do better. Start with simple changes that promote greater health and wellness. You’ll feel better now and avoid bigger problems down the line.”

In honor of National Chiropractic Health Month, observed in October, ACA encourages Americans to “Find Your Game” by taking simple steps to promote optimal functioning:

• Get moving: Americans are more sedentary today than in the past. Lack of exercise can atrophy muscles and contribute to obesity, arthritis and other problems. You don’t have to train like an Olympian, just aim for a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes of exercise three to four days a week.

• Stretch daily: Improving flexibility is crucial to avoiding injury. Make a habit of stretching your major muscle groups each morning.

• Don’t work through pain: The earlier an injury is treated, the sooner healing can begin. Masking injuries with painkillers to get back into action before you’re healed could worsen your original injury and lead to a chronic condition. Treat the cause of pain, not the symptom. Chiropractic physicians can treat many injuries and enable healing to occur—without drugs or surgery.

• Outfit your feet: Think function when shopping for shoes used for exercise and walking long distances. The wrong shoes or worn-out shoes can cause pain throughout the body. A doctor of chiropractic can help you determine your arch type, match it to your gait and advise you on the best footwear.

• Eat right:  Even a few simple changes in diet can have a positive impact on your health. Limit red meat and excessive quantities of sugar and salt. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains. Consider consulting a health care professional to determine what supplements are right for you.

• Recharge: If you feel fatigued often, get more sleep. Instead of revitalizing with soft drinks or coffee, try a glass of pomegranate juice and a brisk walk. Have your B12 and iron levels checked at least once a year for deficiencies. Lean meats, nuts, legumes and green leafy vegetables can help put some pep in your step.

• Get the right stuff: From baby slings to telephones, small consumer choices can have a big impact on your well-being. Shop for products designed with the comfort of your neck and back in mind. If your job is causing you pain, talk to your employer about replacing your equipment with ergonomic models.

For more health tips, or to find a chiropractic physician near you, visit

There’s no need to live on life’s sidelines. With a few key changes, you can feel and perform your best.

California Chicken Wrap

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California Chicken Wrap

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 10 minutes

  • 3          tablespoons Hellmann’s® or Best Foods® Mayonnaise Dressing with Olive Oil
  • 4          6-inch fajita size whole wheat flour tortillas
  • 12        ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, grilled and sliced
  • 1          medium avocado, peeled and sliced
  • 1          red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/4       cup sliced red onion
  • 2          cups mixed salad greens

Spread Mayonnaise Dressing with Olive Oil on tortillas.

Layer chicken, avocado, red pepper, red onion and salad greens down center of each tortilla.

Roll and fold the filled tortillas.

5 Easy Ways to Kick the Sugar Habit


Sugar is the most frequently bought food on the grocery store shelves. It’s also one of the most dangerous substances on the face of the earth. Sugar is toxic, fattening, and addictive. But how do you kick the sugar habit?

People are addicted to sugar and don’t even know it.  They don’t think they eat a lot of sugar because they don’t eat a lot of candy, cakes, and pies. Yet they do.

The problem is that sugar is hidden in many foods, including breads, muffins, and even dried fruit. We get more than we need. In fact, the average American’s sugar load is over 120 pounds per year.

Sugar has no nutritional value, and while it is an important source of energy, it’s highly addictive, and it makes you sick and fat.

Are you having a panic attack right now just thinking about giving up sugar? You have to look at kicking the sugar habit as though you are ending an addiction. The key is to understand where your sugar is coming from and then find alternatives to eating so much sugar in your foods.

You can kick the sugar habit by following these 5 easy steps:

1. Just say NO! Quit Eating Sugar! Go Cold Turkey. Expect cravings, headaches, and irritability for 3- 5 days.  This is a good sign that you’re making progress.  Just keep sugar out of your diet and the cravings will disappear over time.

2. Use Stevia Instead of Sugar: To sweeten foods, it is always better to use stevia rather than sugar. Stevia is a natural, herbal sweetener that is calorie-free and does not affect blood glucose, which makes it a great alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners.

3. Read the Food Labels – Find the Hidden Sugars: Make sure you read labels to look for names that sugar is disguised as in our foods.  Refined white sugar, or table sugar, is the form that is most familiar to people. However, the other sugars that are commonly found in food are listed on labels as high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose (corn sugar), maltose (malt sugar), lactose (milk sugar), corn sweetener, brown sugar, powdered sugar, and maple sugar. Then avoid these foods.

4. Eat Foods That Have 5 Grams of Sugar or Less Per Serving: When the drink or food item has 5 grams or less of sugar per serving size, the body doesn’t overreact to the sugar. This means your pancreas will not have to release too much insulin, which can result in fat storage in the body. +Have only one serving!   Control what you eat.

5. Eat More Fruit To Curb Sugar Cravings: When you crave sweets, try fruit as a better alternative; it is high in fiber and phytonutrients and will curb the sweet tooth.

To find out if you are addicted to sugar, take the Are You Addicted to Sugar? Quiz in JJ Smith’s  book, Lose Weight Without Dieting or Working Out! In the book, there are numerous strategies to help you kick the sugar habit so you can lose weight and get healthy. Or visit

Get Real! 10 Tips for Setting Realistic Fitness Goals


By Amy Walker

Did you know there are several studies that claim it takes 21 days to form a habit? This reason alone is why most people traditionally abandon their fitness initiatives within one month of beginning a new diet or exercise plan. In my over 10 years as a health and fitness professional, I have seen many a newly-dedicated person fall of the proverbial wagon. So here are a few important points that may help you avoid becoming a statistic.

1. Write your goal down. Put it somewhere that you have to see it every day.

2. Write down several smaller goals – ideally with dates – you need to complete in order to reach the main goal. A goal with specific, measureable, obtainable tasks along the way is key to having success in almost any area of life, but most definitely in your fitness goals.

3. Start conservatively. Don’t start out by going to the gym for an hour if it has been a while since you have worked out. Remember, 20 minutes is better than nothing. As you get used to the habit of exercise and your body adjusts, begin to add in more time in small, five- to ten-minute increments.

4. If possible, find a workout partner. Ask around in your group of friends, talk to people in organizations you belong to, or take advantage of social media tools like Facebook and post a status saying you are looking for a workout buddy. If you have to contact someone to cancel, you are more likely to stay committed. A partner depending on you should make you think twice about whether or not you are really going to sleep in for an extra half hour.

5. Have someone take a “Before” picture of you from the front, side, and back in the least amount of clothes you are comfortable with, then set a date in your planner to take the pictures again in 4 weeks. This will be a great comparison tool in the future for how far you have come. You may not realize how far you have come until you look back at these initial pictures.

6. Document your successes along the way. Journal the changes you are seeing, make a list of the compliments you receive from family and friends, and/or take measurements. Each of these things will get you through times when you are not necessarily noticing changes on the scale.

7. Make a new “Get Motivated” playlist. I like to name my playlist after the goal I have set. For example, this year my husband and I are attending a wedding in Miami and plan to make it a mini-vacation. Since I would like to feel good about myself in a bathing suit, I named mine “Russ & Jill’s Wedding” so every time I scroll to this particular playlist I am reminded of my goal all over again.

8. Stay off the scale for the first two weeks of beginning a new program. This may be THE most important thing you do. If you do choose to get on the scale, do not panic if you gain a little bit in the beginning. This is extremely normal. When you first implement a program and start doing new, active things, your body’s composition (muscle to fat ratio) will change. As your body adjusts to the activities you are newly engaged in, it will put on some lean muscle. This will make you think you are gaining weight. You are not. You are gaining lean, calorie burning muscle, so give your body a few weeks to turn the corner.

9. Resist the temptation to do the same things over and over. The body is an incredible machine and will adapt very quickly to routines. In order to continue to see new progress, it is important to constantly vary your routine. Try new classes, hire a Personal Trainer at one of several local gyms for a few sessions to get some new ideas, or check into attending a local Boot Camp. Don’t let your muscles “catch on,” and your body will be forced to continue to respond and change. This principle is often referred to by fitness professionals as “muscle confusion”.

10. More IS NOT necessarily better. During cardio exercise, lifting weights, and/or taking classes, you should not stay out of breath for more than 2-minute bursts. If you can’t carry a conversation without gasping for breath, you are burning mostly quick-burning fuels like carbohydrates, sugar, and energy reserve that your body has tucked away in your blood (glucose) and muscles (glycogen). Slow down.


Amy Walker is a Certified Personal Trainer through the American Council on Exercise and holds additional certifications through the Cooper Institute of Dallas that include: Nutrition and Dietary Guidance, Special Populations, and the Biomechanics of Resistance Training.



This New Year, Resolve to Eat Smarter


Chances are, you’re probably one of the millions of Americans whose list of New Year’s resolutions include “Lose weight” or “Eat healthier.”

How about “Eat smarter”?

If you’re interested in a diet that is not only one of the most renowned and time-tested approaches to being healthier and losing weight, but is also instrumental for protecting the environment, helping to end world hunger, and saving animals from lives of pain and misery (yup, you knew that would come in somewhere), then perhaps you should consider following a vegetarian diet.

I’m going to tell you primarily about the first two reasons people become vegetarian: being healthier and losing weight. And by the way, nearly half of those who become vegetarians do it mainly for health- and/or weight-related reasons. (The other reasons—environmental, social and ethical—speak pretty loudly for themselves, and if you’re already concerned about them, then you probably already know about the connection between going veg and making the world a better place. For example, most people who consider themselves “environmentalists” are already aware that raising animals for food damages the environment more than just about anything else that we do.) But no matter what your reasons might be, keep in mind that going veg is a win-win; if you follow it correctly, it will improve your health, weight, and your sense of wellbeing, as well as help the planet and all of the other humans we share it with.

Why Going Veg = Eating Smarter

Let’s start with heart disease, the number-one killer of American women. According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), vegetarians and vegans are at a much lower risk of death from heart disease than non-vegetarians. Also, vegetarians tend to have lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes, as well as lower overall cancer rates. The ADA concludes that vegetarian or vegan diets “are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases” (ADA, “Vegetarian Diets,” vol 109, issue 7, pgs 1266-1282 (July 2009)).

And because they aren’t eating near the top of the food chain, vegetarians also have less exposure to heavy metals, DDT, PCBs, and other contaminants, and are less likely to contract a foodborne disease such as e. coli or salmonella.

For all of the above reasons, it should come as no surprise that vegetarians tend to live longer than non-vegetarians—an estimated seven to nine years longer. And they tend to be healthier in those senior years.

And finally, here’s “the skinny” on why vegetarians eat smarter. Because vegetarians typically eat lower amounts of fat, including animal fat, and have increased amounts of vegetables, legumes and fiber in their diets, they tend to have lower body mass indexes—meaning that they weigh less than their non-veg counterparts. In fact, according to Becoming Vegetarian (Melina and Davis, 2003), “Rates of obesity among meat-eaters are approximately double that of vegetarians and triple that of vegans.”

So what is taking the place of all that saturated fat, excessive protein, and “bad” cholesterol in a non-veg diet? The increased amounts of vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, seeds, nuts and soy add up to more fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals (plant chemicals) than diets that contain meat.

Now for the catch (you knew there had to be one, right?) Actually, this is more common sense than caveat. It is possible to eat nothing but cheese pizza, bagels, pasta and potato chips… and still technically be a vegetarian. And obviously, you’d see none of the health and weight loss benefits described above, and undoubtedly be worse off than if you’d had a well-balanced diet that did include some meat.

But with that said, a well-balanced vegetarian diet provides you with everything you need—calcium, fiber (of course), vitamins and minerals, and yes, even iron and protein. The myth of the pale, anemic vegetarian is just that: a myth—unless you fall into the category of “beige vegetarians” described above. Legumes (including beans and soy products), nuts, seeds, grains and vegetables are great sources of calcium, iron and protein.

Which leads to another reasons people shy away from going veg: unless you’re content to be a beige vegetarian or live on veggie burgers, you have to learn to cook a little differently. If you do it right, you’ll find yourself eating more whole, natural, locally produced, unprocessed foods. Personally, I’ve found this to be challenging, but in a good way. Going veg forced me to reexamine my eating habits, do research, try new and different things. But I did, starting off with a couple of vegetarian cookbooks, then adding a couple of vegan cookbooks, building my recipe collection—and my repertoire—one meal at a time. Before I started down this path, I’d never heard of quinoa or tempeh, bulgur or amaranth. I learned.

Nowadays, one of my favorite things to do is to choose a vegan recipe, shop for all of the whole, healthy ingredients, cook it up and serve it to my non-veg family… and enjoy their amazed expressions, watch them go back for seconds. The best part is that it both tastes great and is so healthy for them.

So back to those New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps you’ve gotten this far and are still thinking that going veg is just not something you’ll ever do. That’s fine, but keep in mind that even small changes—say, eating a vegetarian meal at least once or twice a week—can add up to big results for your health and weight. Do a little research about the health benefits of vegetarian diets. Check out the “Meatless Monday” campaign (started by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, by the way, in order to promote better health in our population). Buy a vegetarian or vegan cookbook and try something you’ve never heard of before. Take the vegetarian option one step at a time, going at a pace that you’re comfortable with. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised at where it will lead you.


Vegetarian Resource Group (

Johns Hopkins’ Meatless Monday campaign (

American Dietetic Association (

Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the ADA (

Vegetarian Nutrition Resource List (


Drink to Your Health


(Family Features) Getting fit and losing weight are two of the most common goals people set for themselves each year. Between gym memberships, the latest diet trends and miracle-promising supplements, billions of dollars get spent each year on achieving fitness goals.
But what if one of the simplest things you could do for yourself wasn’t found in a costly diet book or in an expensive pill?

Healthy Hydration and H2O
Believe it or not, being properly hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your body. That means being in balance – the water your body loses from perspiration, breathing and other body processes is replaced by the water you consume.

Based on clinical trials on adults, published in the journal Nutrition Reviews in 2005, scientists have identified that dehydration has an impact on physical and mental performance. Even mild dehydration – a loss of 1 to 2 percent of body weight – can impact your mental and physical performance. In addition to being thirsty, mild dehydration can cause headaches, decrease your alertness, concentration and memory, and reduce your endurance.

So making sure you stay healthfully hydrated is an important part of taking good care of your body. And water is the key.

Easy Ways to Stay Hydrated
Good hydration is at the heart of a healthy lifestyle. Here are some tips for getting water into your daily routine:

1. Choose water instead of caloric, sweetened beverages, especially during mealtime.
2. For an easy and inexpensive thirst-quencher, carry bottled water throughout the day.
3. Give your water variety by adding slices of lemon, lime, cucumber or watermelon.
4. Choose flavored sparkling water as another zero- calorie option.
5. Drink a cup of water before and after workouts, and more if it’s hot or your workout is long and strenuous. Sip water throughout the workout for steady rehydration.

Drink in the Facts

  • 38 out of 50 states have obesity rates higher than 25 percent. According to “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011,” a report funded by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, twenty years ago no state had an obesity rate above 15 percent.
  • The average person gets more than 20 percent of their total caloric intake each day from beverages. Research suggests this number should be closer to 10 percent. To achieve that goal, pay attention to the calories per serving in all your beverages.
  • We drink about 450 calories a day. In 1965 we consumed only 225 calories from beverages.
  • A 2010 study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that soda, energy and sports drinks – including sweetened water products – are the number 4 source of calories for Americans, providing an average of 114 calories/day.
  • Unlike soft drinks and sweetened juices, water has no calories. In fact, making a simple switch such as replacing one 140-calorie sugared beverage a day with water can reduce 50,000 calories from your diet each year, as reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Choosing water is one small healthy choice that can make a powerful difference.
To learn more about healthy hydration, visit

5 Holiday Tips to Keep Your Waistline


Five tricks for celebrating the holidays with smart and satisfying choices

(ARA) – Celebrating with friends and family over the holidays can lead to one too many glasses of eggnog and slices of pumpkin pie. But just because the holidays include decadent indulgences, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the celebrations and treats you love.

There is a way to dive into the holidays with smart and satisfying choices, says Lisa Lillien, New York Times bestselling author and creator of

As you head into the holiday season here are Lillien’s top five tips and tricks to keep your taste buds rejoicing and your holidays delightful:

* Say yes to the right passed hors d’œuvres: Is your company party looming and you’re already dreading the platters of mini quiches and pigs in a blanket? Don’t worry; just zero on in on the lean protein and veggies. Look for crudite with salsa and shrimp cocktail. These low-calorie yet filling appetizers will take the edge off your hunger without weighing you down.

* Happy hour done right: Eggnog is delicious, but a single cup without alcohol has around 400 calories. For something seasonal yet sensible, try a mixed drink made with one shot of fruity flavored vodka, club soda and a splash of cranberry juice. Wine and champagne are also good options.

* Cuckoo for chocolate: Everywhere you look chocolate candies and pastries tempt your taste buds, but those come with a high-calorie price tag. Luckily, you can have your candy and eat it too. When a chocolate craving hits, look for lower-calorie options, such as a piece of candy.

* Don’t deprive yourself of seasonal favorites: From pumpkin and apple pie a la mode to stuffing and holiday ham, tons of special treats show up during the holidays. You can still enjoy them, just in moderation. Instead of scooping a huge pile of stuffing on your plate, put just enough to satisfy a craving; then fill your plate with veggies and lean meat. For dessert, skip the “a la mode” and just have a few bites of your favorite sweet indulgence.

* Snack attack: If you allow yourself to get super-hungry before the big meal, there’s a good chance that you’re going to overdo it when dinner is served. Have a satisfying snack beforehand, like an apple, a container of fat-free yogurt, or a stick of light string cheese. Then you can focus on making smart decisions and enjoying the holiday festivities.

If you keep to these tips this holiday season, you won’t need that “undo the holiday damage” resolution this January.


Courtesy of ARA Content/ Skinny Cow Candy