Weight Loss Success Story: "I Lost 68 Pounds Using the Buddy System"

Jennifer Walczak, 29, 5'5", from Bowmansville, N.Y.
Before: 215 lbs., size 18
After: 147 lbs., size 8
Total pounds lost: 68
Total sizes lost: 5

I was no stranger to overindulging; I routinely scarfed down wings and pizza during family takeout nights. I knew I was overweight, but in all honesty, my attempts to cut out unhealthy foods were halfhearted. That is, until my 2011 Florida vacation. After a week of cheesy, fried fare, not even my stretch leggings fit. On the flight home, the elastic band dug into my waist as I sat in a seat I'd had to squeeze myself into. I was mortified—even more so when I got home and realized I weighed 215 pounds.

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Finding food balance

I could no longer ignore my poor eating choices, so I signed up for Weight Watchers. The program's point system made planning healthy, portion-controlled meals (like chicken and veggie rice bowls) easy. I also became obsessed with the support I got at each weigh-in. Knowing the staff was so invested in my progress motivated me to work harder.

Onboarding exercise

My other strategy: enlisting the help of a friend to get me to the gym. On our first trip, the initial 10 minutes on the elliptical left me out of breath and convinced that exercise wouldn't even help me. But with her encouragement—and a water break—I pushed through to 25 minutes that day. By the end of the second week, I had ditched 7 pounds. Soon I began experimenting with different gym classes to keep things interesting.

I continued eating well and added 20 minutes of HIIT workouts daily. Eight months later, I had shed another 35 pounds, and friends from high school began to notice my progress.

These days, I'm 68 pounds lighter and the person my co-workers and friends come to when they want to get back on track themselves. I love that my story inspires the people I care about to live their healthiest lives.

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Jennifer credits smart eating and consistent exercise for her lasting success

Excuse-proof your morning: Getting out the door for my 5:30 a.m. workout isn't always easy. I lay out my workout clothes the night before so I have one less barrier between me and my favorite part of the day—exercising.

Pack in protein: I love pancakes, but the full-fat version made with butter isn't that healthy. I do 1/4 cup of oats, a mashed banana, an egg white, blueberries, and half a scoop of chocolate protein powder. It's just as satisfying and twice as filling!

Have an active commute: I live a mile and a half away from my office, so every day, I walk to and from work with a co-worker. It's a simple way to sneak in exercise, and doing it with a friend keeps us both motivated.

Jennifer's wearing: New Balance running jacket ($120, kohls.com), Gaiam yoga capri leggings ($45, kohls.com), and Nike women's running shoes ($80; kohls.com).


As told to Lindsey Murray

Source: http://www.health.com

The Buddha Diet Will Help You Lose Weight With Ancient Wisdom and Modern Science

Buddha may have been the world's first yo-yo dieter: Raised in luxury, the young prince Siddhartha had a taste of decadence before he swung hard in reaction, living as a wandering ascetic, starving himself nearly to death, until he finally arrived at his “middle way.” The Buddha was, of course, in search of something more profound than a svelte physique. But the insights he gleaned from his quest can be enlightening for the modern dieter. 

Writer, data scientist, and Zen priest Dan Zigmond (with co-author Tara Cottrell) has condensed wisdom gleaned from the Buddha’s teachings and from modern diet science into Buddha’s Diet: The Ancient Art of Losing Weight Without Losing Your Mind ($17, amazon.com).

And you don’t have to be Buddhist to try it. All you need is a clock, a scale, an open mind, and a willingness to endure some late-night stomach grumblings for a few weeks. 

The key to Buddha’s Diet is time-restricted dieting—sometimes known as intermittent fasting. The concept is simple: Instead of worrying about what or how much you eat, the diet asks you to concentrate on when you eat, and to gradually shrink the window in which you consume each day.

Research (in mice and people) shows that various forms of time-restricted feeding are safe and effective methods for weight loss. The idea is that to run most efficiently, your metabolism needs a daily break from food, something the modern Western eating style (with its round-the-clock nibbling and fueling) does not provide.

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To start on Buddha’s Diet, you begin by limiting your eating window to 13 hours each day for two weeks (which may be harder than it sounds, given that many of us habitually eat over the course of 15 hours or more each day). You then reduce your window to 12 hours per day, then 11, then 10, till you arrive at a daily 9-hour eating window. That might mean breakfast at 9am (at home or at work), then dinner no later than 6pm, followed by … nothing else, until the next day's breakfast.

If you think the 9-hour window is extreme, Zigmond reminds us that Buddhist monks (who practice the tradition set forth by the Buddha himself some 2,500 years ago) tend to eat only between dawn and noon, and they seem to do just fine in terms of nourishment and stamina.

“We tried to come up with our version of a ‘middle way,’” Zigmond told Health.com, “a path that we think most people could follow pretty comfortably and still get the health benefits of an intermittent fasting diet.”

Here are 7 surprising tips from the book that can help you get lean and stay healthy the Buddha’s way.

RELATED: Here's How 15 Real Women Lost 50+ Pounds

Go ahead, look at the scale

Zigmond urges Buddha’s Dieters to weigh themselves every day. Tracking your weight is a way of taking control of your diet and health, Zigmond notes, and a way to keep tabs on what is and isn’t working in your diet. Daily fluctuations, of course, are to be expected. 

Eat what you want (just not junk)

A nice thing about Buddha’s Diet: there are no hard and fast rules about what and what not to eat. “It’s most important to eat food you like and find filling,” writes Zigmond. “A diet that makes you miserable is not one that is going to last.”  In place of labeling foods as “good” or “bad,” think about what’s “useful” (healthy fats, fiber, and veggie- or meat-based protein) and what’s not (sugar, processed foods, more than two alcoholic drinks per week).

And since you won’t be eating in the late evening anymore, you’ll naturally be less likely to overdo it at happy hour or to pound Ben & Jerry’s by the pint, since, as Zigmond notes, almost 70% of all ice cream is consumed after 6pm.  Who knew?

Have a cheat day, really

That said, treats are not off-limits. Not only does Buddha’s Diet permit occasional cheat days, it encourages them. Why?  Zigmond notes that your body adapts to the “food environment” around it, slowing down your metabolism and pumping out hunger hormones if it thinks food is scarce. He cites research showing that splurging with some regularity can actually give a burst to the metabolism, causing us to burn more calories and reset those appetite-controlling hormones. 

Buddha’s diet allows one cheat day per week. On that day, you can eat outside your schedule (a great occasion for taking advantage of parties, birthdays, work events, date nights, and such).

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Exercise for its own sake

Zigmond points out that exercise typically doesn’t burn as many calories as you think, and it often has the effect of making you hungry. So the diet doesn’t require exercise, but encourages it if you enjoy it (the Buddha taught that staying physically fit helps “keep our minds strong and clear”). When to fit it in? Zigmond recommends first thing in the morning and cites research showing that exercising on an empty stomach burns 20% more fat than doing it after a meal.

Quit the clean plate club

Americans waste a staggering amount of food, roughly 42%, but the solution to waste, Zigmond argues, is not to clean your plate. Buddha’s Diet asks you to consider, once you’ve finished eating, whether the rest of your meal is better of in the trash or in your body.  “You have a choice to make,” Zigmond writes. “You can use the garbage can or you can be the garbage can.”  While you get the hang of it, you might start out throwing more food into the trash (or better yet, the compost bin) than you’d like, but once you learn to be more attentive to your own hunger and satiety clues (in other words, eating more mindfully), you’ll be able to right-size your portions, meaning less surplus food going into the trash or into your belly.

Say grace

Zigmond explains that thinking more deeply about the origin of our food can help us make better eating choices. And part of developing a mindful approach to eating involves cultivating gratitude for the food we eat. Try saying grace the way your family may have when you grew up. 

Or you can borrow from this recitation from the American Zen Buddhist tradition: “We reflect on the effort that brought us this food and consider how it comes to us. We reflect on our virtue and practice, and whether we are worthy of this offering. We regard it as essential to keep the mind free from excesses such as greed. We regard this food as good medicine to sustain our life. For the sake of enlightenment we now receive this food.”

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Pay attention

Because Buddha’s Diet asks you to watch the clock and think about what we’re eating and when, Zigmond explains, “it causes us to focus a little more." And when you really tune in, he adds, you begin to realize how much we eat when we’re not actually hungry. “When we start paying attention, we naturally start to achieve a kind of moderation in our eating.”

“The Buddha didn’t want anyone to take what he was saying on faith,” Zigmond adds. “He wanted people to try things out and follow those things that worked, all the while experimenting and adapting based on their own experiences.”

So try these tips, read the book, and see for yourself.  You’ll find that Buddha’s Diet is not merely an eating plan, but a whole-life calibration and balancing system. You might end up dropping a few pounds, but you may also come out with an overall more enlightened approach to wellbeing.

Source: http://www.health.com

This Is Exactly How Cold Weather Helps Your Body Burn More Calories

This time of year is filled with opportunities to pack on extra pounds. Think Christmas cookies, eggnog, lazy days when your only exercise is shuffling from the couch to the fridge … you get the idea. But if you live in a cold-weather climate, you have at least one calorie-burning weapon in your holiday arsenal: that arctic blast that hits you when you step outside.

Yup, cold temperatures can boost calorie burn. We already knew this, thanks to recent studies on brown fat and the hormone irisin, both of which are involved in energy expenditure and are activated by involuntary muscle contractions—like shivering when the temperature drops.

But we love how the American Chemical Society spells out the science for us in this new video, and shows us exactly how the process goes down. It’s a great reminder of how hard our bodies are working beneath the surface, even when we’re barely moving a muscle.

RELATED: 57 Ways to Lose Weight Forever, According to Science

To be clear, shivering on a ski lift or waiting on line outside a movie theater could never provide all the benefits of an actual heart-pounding, muscle-building workout—which can also, by the way, trigger brown fat to burn more calories. But at least we can take heart in knowing that it may help—even in the tiniest way—keep off some of that dreaded winter weight.

Source: http://www.health.com