Recipe: Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash is a good source of vitamin A.

During the cold months, few things are better than a good cup of soup. This creamy and healthy butternut squash-based soup is filling, delicious and easy to make.

Butternut squash is a versatile vegetable and a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamin A. When bought in season, it’s budget friendly. Plus, butternut squash soup is easy to store. So what are you waiting for?


  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 lb. peeled and diced butternut squash
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 package soft tofu, drained and diced
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and sauté for a few minutes until tender. Add the butternut squash and sauté a few more minutes, and then add broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes. Add the tofu and ginger, lemon juice, thyme, salt and pepper to the pot, and simmer a few more minutes until the tofu is heated through.

Purée the soup in batches in a blender or food processor. Return to the pan and reheat until the soup is very hot, but not boiling. Ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh thyme or thin strips of lemon peel, if desired.

Makes 6 servings.

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Eat Root to Leaf: Consume Every Part of Your Fruits and Veggies

Broccoli stalks have nutrient benefits.

Those fruit and veggie stalks, stems and peels you’re throwing away can add flavor and nutrition to your meals.

Have you heard the term “nose to tail eating”? It’s a concept that aims to reduce food waste by encouraging the use of all parts of an animal during food preparation.

Another similar trend – called “root to leaf eating” – is really the same concept applied to plants. Rather than throwing away skins, stems, stalks and peels, the aim of root-to-leaf is to make use of as many parts of the plant as possible when preparing meals.

The average American throws away about $1,600 worth of fruits and vegetables every year, and much of what we toss consists of plant parts that are perfectly usable, delicious and nutritious. Rather than tossing them in the trash or the compost heap, you can make use of some of your plant discards to increase your nutrient intake.

Beet and turnip greens take a little longer to cook than more tender greens like spinach or chard, but they’re equally delicious. If your supermarket sells your beets or turnips with the tops still on, you’re in luck – you get two veggies for the price of one. Like other leafy greens, they’re loaded with nutrients – especially vitamins C and K, beta-carotene, folic acid, copper and potassium.

Broccoli stalks are often tossed out, but they’re rich in nutrients – especially vitamin C, folate, fiber and a phytonutrient compound called sulforaphane, which acts as an antioxidant. They can be finely shredded into a salad or slaw, or added to soup during the last few minutes of cooking. You can also try slicing them into ¼-inch thick slices, adding a little olive oil and salt, and roasting them in a hot oven until tender.

Carrot and fennel tops make a nice garnish, but they’re also completely edible and can be snipped into salads, sautéed with a little olive oil and salt to make a fresh sauce for grilled chicken or fish, or made into a pesto with olive oil, nuts and garlic. Carrot tops have more vitamin C than carrots themselves, and fennel tops are a good source of B vitamins.

Celery leaves are delicious, and I’m always surprised when people throw them away. I actually look for the leafiest bunch when I buy celery because I love to add the leaves to green salads, sandwiches and soups. Like the stalks, the leaves are a good source of vitamin C.

Citrus Peel contains compounds called bioflavonoids, which act as antioxidants. Finely grate the peel (avoid the white part, which tends to be bitter), and add to salad dressings, cooked vegetables or smoothies. You can also add strips of fresh peel to enhance the flavor of water, mineral water or tea, or add some citrus zest into the water when you cook rice.

Stems from leafy greens like chard, kale and collard greens can be tough, so many people cut them out before cooking the greens. But you can chop them coarsely and add them to dishes like soups and stews – they’ll soften with the long cooking times. Or cut them finely and sauté with a little oil and garlic or onion until they begin to soften, then add the leafy tops and finish cooking. You can treat green cauliflower leaves the same way. Adding the greens and stems of these nutrition powerhouses boosts your intake of vitamins A, K, iron, potassium and fiber.

Strawberry tops are great to add to a pitcher of drinking water or to hot or cold tea. They’ll add a bit of flavor and a dash of vitamin C to your drink.

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Your Winter Fitness Guide

Get active at least 30 minutes a day.

In order for your body to be fit, you have to get active. Let me help you get started with an activity plan to help you get the results you want. My approach to getting fit is sustainable and long-term, so you can get and keep your results progressing week after week.

Everyone should be active in some way, especially as our modern technology filled life keeps us seated for too many hours a day.No matter what your current fitness or activity level is, there’s so much research that shows us that balanced nutrition and a consistent approach to being active is a great long-term strategy for improving and maintaining a healthy body. If you’ve been resisting fitness and trying to control your body composition with diet alone, let me show you how to enhance your nutrition results and sustain them by adding regular activity into your week.

Get the amount of activity you need

Each person should strive to get active for at least 30 minutes, five days a week. Some of the many health benefits associated with exercise are improved bone density, improved muscle tone, cardiovascular improvements and increased energy levels. If you want to make a big impact on body composition or improve your athletic performance, you’ll need to strive to be active for longer periods of time. Aim for 60-90 minutes of varied intensity levels that fit in with your specific personal fitness goals.

Don’t be scared of exercise

The reason so many people avoid exercise is because they associate it with many negative things, like not feeling good, sweating, hard work and sore muscles. Now, I can’t promise that getting active won’t make you sweat, but I can tell you that if you follow a slow, progressive approach to getting active, you’ll start to associate fitness with improved body composition, body confidence and feeling great. Jumping into a routine too quickly can lead to increased muscle soreness, so be kind to your body and increase your intensity as your fitness level increases. If it’s too late and you’re already sore, plan a few days of easy exercise to recover, such as gentle walking and stretches. During your next session, push yourself enough to get results, but not so hard that you can’t walk the next day.

Take a fun approach to getting active

Your chosen activity should be fun because it’s what’ll keep you coming back for more. Avoid the extreme January jump or summer push and slowly progress your activity level as your fitness level improves. If you fall off-track, you’ll have to start back at the beginning. When you stop exercising, you lose some of your cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength.* Have confidence, though, because the climb back to where you left off may be faster than the first time you started out. Your body has an amazing muscle memory.
How to improve your fitness level

Here are some simple tips to get you started:

  • Perform simple stretches to ensure you’re moving your muscles and joints through their full range of motion each day.
  • Increase your daily activity level by taking the stairs, parking in the furthest space from the store, gardening, dancing, and playing with your children. Just get moving!
  • Start adding regular walks to your day. You can slowly increase your time until 30 minutes feel comfortable. Then increase your intensity level by walking faster. Start including varied terrain such as hills, and then progress to a jogging or running pace.
  • Perform bodyweight resistance exercises, such as simple squats, lunges, push-ups, and then progress to using weights.

The most important thing is to listen to your body. Push yourself enough so you feel like you’re challenging yourself, but not too hard that you risk getting injured or walk around feeling terribly sore the next day.
*Egner IM, Bruusgaard JC, Eftestøl E, Gundersen K. A cellular memory mechanism aids overload hypertrophy in muscle long after an episodic exposure to anabolic steroids. J Physiol. 2013 Dec 15;591(Pt 24):6221-30.

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5 New Year’s Skin Resolutions

Sunscreen is critical to protecting your skin.

Your skin is the largest organ of your body. Between pollution, unprotected sun exposure and non-existent skin care routines, it can really take a beating.It’s time to break some of your bad habits and avoid common skin mistakes to give your skin a break.

We’ve all made mistakes in our beauty regimen. Maybe you wash your face with plain old bar soap or don’t regularly use body lotion. It’s time to stop theis cycle. Here are five New Year’s resolutions to benefit the health of your skin:

Using the Right Cleanser
Cleansing is the first step in any skin care regimen, and that cleanser choice is important. So many people make the mistake of picking up any old random bar of soap to wash their face. Most bar soaps that are designed to cleanse your body contain harsh deodorizers and detergents that are not gentle enough for your face. Evaluate your skin to determine what type of cleanser your skin requires. If it’s oily, look for a cleanser to target sebum production. Perhaps a lightweight foaming gel cleanser would be best. If your skin is on the dry side, look for a cleanser that will moisturize the skin while cleansing. A lotion-based cleanser may be perfect for you. Pay attention to your skin and choose the right cleanser. But whatever you do, put down that ordinary bar soap.

Don’t Worship the Sun
You might look better with a suntan, but there’s a good chance you’re doing mor harm than good. Put down the tanning oil and pick up the sunscreen. And whatever you do, avoid tanning beds at all costs. It’s important to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays. These rays burn your skin and are a leading contributor to early aging. You might look good with that savage tan today, but flash-forward and you might not be happy with the wrinkly person staring back at you from the mirror. Sunscreen is critical when it comes to protecting your skin and you should never go out into the sun without it. Sunless tanners have come a long way and you don’t need to worry about the orange ‘fake bake’ look anymore. And the best part is you can get that gorgeous tan 12 months out of the year.

Avoid Over-scrubbing
You probably love the way you look after a good buffing and polishing, but there‘s such a thing as too much of a good thing. Exfoliation of the face and body is something that you should be doing on a regular basis. But you need to be gentle. Remember, your skin is a living organ and you need to take care of it. The last thing you want to do is scrub your skin so much that it becomes red and irritated. Take it easy when cleansing and exfoliating. Use soft and gentle circular motions to achieve the most desirable skin. Nothing good can come from over-scrubbing your skin.

Never Pop Pimples
You’re probably guilty of popping a pimple or two at some point. It’s so tempting to do that it seems almost unavoidable. But it’s very important to resist the urge to jab at outbreaks. Every time you start attacking a pimple, you run the risk of making the problem even worse. You can spread bacteria to other areas of your face. The troubling spot can now look bigger and much redder than before. Not only that, but the picking could result in permanent scarring. No matter what, resist the urge to pop those pimples and be patient in weathering the breakout storm.

Reduce Stress
It’s amazing how a lack of sleep and stress can negatively impact your skin. It’s impossible to look your best when you’re exhausted and stressed out. Your skin loses its glow and vibrancy, the circles under your eyes become darker and more apparent. Beyond that, it just makes you look older. Remember, we call it “beauty sleep” for a reason, because we definitely look our best when we’re well rested. You’d be surprised at just how many people aren’t getting enough hours of sleep in a night. So, for the sake of your skin, get a good night’s sleep and try to unwind and relax.

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Skincare:Take a Holiday From the Holidays

Cleanse your skin twice a day.

Sure, you look forward to the family gatherings and parties, but after the holidays, sometimes you feel like you just need a vacation.

It’s all fun and games while you’re eating to your heart’s content, but once the party ends, you look at your waistline and your skin, and you think, “I need a vacation.”You’re also probably staying out late, overindulging on sugary treats and alcohol. All of these can contribute to tired, dull looking skin. So here are three easy steps to get your skin healthy and glowing.

Use a Cleanser
Cleanse your skin in the morning and at night before going to bed. Make it a routine, just like brushing your teeth. Avoid harsh, ordinary soaps, and choose cleansers that are gentle, dermatologist tested and sulfate free. Choose something that’s appropriate for your skin type. For dryer skin, select products with ingredients like aloe vera, which help to soften and moisturize the skin. If your skin is oilier, pick ingredients like orange or citrus oil, which can leave your skin feeling refreshed. Also, make sure to use lukewarm water when removing or preparing products before they go on your skin, as hot water may irritate it.

Hydrate Your Skin
You know about the importance of drinking water for the healthy maintenance of your body, but it’s also vital for your skin. When your skin is hydrated, it looks beautiful and has a radiant glow. A daytime moisturizer is essential to maintain your skin’s moisture barrier and nourish the skin. Look for added benefits in the product like vitamins A, C and E, which are antioxidants that prevent free radical cell damage. To make it easier on yourself, you should use a protective daytime moisturizer with a broad spectrum sunscreen already in it. The sun emits harmful UV rays all year round, even on days when it’s less sunny. These rays can not only burn your skin, but also contribute to skin aging, sun spots and skin cancer.

Exfoliating your face can leave your skin looking smoother and brighter in minutes. It’s important to scrub at least once a week because it helps to remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. When you’re young, your body automatically sheds skin about every two weeks, but as you get older, that process is altered and slows down. Exfoliation reveals smoother, healthier looking skin. Also, it helps to remove the barrier that prevents your skincare products from penetrating into your skin and gives you the benefits they have to offer. Look for products with blueberry seeds, grapefruit, pomegranate or jojoba beads. These types of ingredients can help you achieve soft, smooth skin.
The New Year is a great time to get started on a healthy skincare routine and it only takes minutes. Remember, the skin is delicate and it needs to be taken care of, so look for quality ingredients that’ll deliver results.

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Recipe: Lean Meatballs (GF/High-Protein)

Easy to make meatballs.

These easy to make, oven-baked meatballs are high-protein, juicy and gluten-free. Made with very lean ground pork and turkey, you’ll be able to taste the difference.

Don’t settle for those frozen meatballs when you can make your own in less than 30 minutes. They’re so easy to prepare that even the kids can get involved, turning cooking time into family time.

You can add some extra spice and serve with marinara sauce for a delicious appetizer, lunch or dinner. Make a big batch and enjoy them hot or cold.

So, next time you have last minute company, don’t worry, because these meatballs will make your guests think a professional chef lives in the house.


1 lb. extra lean ground pork (95% fat free)

1 lb. ground turkey

1 egg, beaten

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 TBSP chopped fresh parsley

1 TBSP dried oregano

1 TBSP salt

1 tsp pepper

½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

1 ½ cups prepared marinara sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with nonstick pan spray.
  2. Put meats, egg, garlic, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper into a large bowl. Combine with hands to mix well.
  3. Form mixture into about 24 meatballs (about the size of a ping-pong ball) and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake 20-22 minutes until cooked through.
  4. Serve with ¼ cup marinara sauce.

Makes about 24 meatballs/6 servings (1 serving = 4 meatballs)

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Recipe: Southwest Vegetarian Chili

The nutrition you need in one dish.

This vegetarian chili recipe is easy to prepare, it will keep you full and warm, and will deliver the nutrition your body needs in one dish.

It’s that time of the year when the weather turns from hot to cold and those chilly nights call for something to keep you warm. This vegetarian chili recipe is easy to prepare, it will keep you full and warm, and will deliver the nutrition your body needs in one dish.

While there’s no meat, it’s prepared with quinoa and loaded with vegetables. The corn, chili powder, cumin, garlic and onions will add that Southwest flavor you’re looking for. So grab your slow cooker, get comfy and get ready to play your favorite movie, while the smell of this recipe will make you go OLÉ.


2 ¼ cups vegetable broth
½ cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed if not pre-rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can black beans
1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 green bell pepper, chopped
½ medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP chili powder
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
Toppings:  chopped green onion, avocado slices

Place all ingredients in a crock pot and stir to combine. Cook on high for 2 ½ to 3 hours, or on low for 5 to 6 hours; check the last hour or so and add liquid as needed. Makes 6 servings.

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New Year Diet Makeover: 12 proven diet tips to last all year

New Year Diet Makeover: 12 proven diet tips to last all year | Herbalife Healthy Eating AdviceIs a diet makeover on your 2015 resolution list? Here are 12 common bad eating habits and how you can resolve to change them!

For most people, the New Year is the time to make big plans – which often include eating better, losing weight and getting in shape. And while those are all great goals to have, the problem is that they’re not quite specific enough. It takes more than just deciding what you’re going to do to make yourself over this year -  you also need to figure out how you’re going to do it.

Your New Year Diet Makeover Step by Step

The first step forward in your New Year makeover is to actually take a look back, and figure out what has interfered with your success in the past.  I’ll bet you made some promises to yourself at the beginning of 2014 … so, ask yourself, how did it go? Did you make the progress you hoped you would make? Or did you start out strong – only to see your old habits sneaking back up on you?

If your 2014 resolution to get into shape didn’t go quite as well as you hoped, here’s some advice for 2015 – take some time to really think about the specific bad eating habits that you know are interfering with your progress, and then make a plan for how you’ll tackle them. And, don’t plan to tackle all of your bad habits at once. Trying to make too many changes at one time is usually very difficult to do – and it’s even harder to keep it going.

Instead, decide on one or two habits that you want to work on, and allow some time for those new habits to get established. Once they become a part of your regular routine, you can start working on the next habit you want to change.

Not everyone’s list of bad habits is the same, but most lists include some of the dozen I’ve listed below. These are some of the most common bad eating habits – with suggestions for ways to change them.

12 Bad Eating Habits – And How to Change Them For Good

You skip meals

Skipping meals rarely helps with weight loss. Most people simply make up for a skipped meal by eating more at other meals. Breakfast is the most frequently skipped meal – usually because people say they’re too busy in the morning, or they’re just not hungry. A simple remedy is to have something quick and light but satisfying – such as an Herbalife ® Formula 1 shake, some yogurt or cottage cheese with some fruit, or a hard-boiled egg and a piece of fruit. If you just can’t face food first thing in the morning, try easing into it. Sip on your shake throughout the morning, or have your cottage cheese, yogurt or egg first, and then eat your fruit and hour or so later.

You eat too much

Eating quickly, eating when distracted or stressed, or skipping meals and getting overly hungry – all can lead to overeating. But the amount you eat is really determined by the amount of food that’s on your plate, so that’s where portion control really begins. When you eat at home, serve yourself in the kitchen, rather than putting serving dishes on the table – it’s easier to resist second helpings that way. Start by putting about 20% less food on your plate than you normally would. It’s an easy way to cut out some calories without feeling deprived. Use smaller plates, or even a bowl, to help you control portion size. When you eat out, you can split an entrée with a dining partner and order extra salad and veggies, or ask that part of your meal be set aside to take home before it’s served to you. Sometimes you can make a meal out of a few appetizers – the portions are usually small – but choose carefully, because some appetizer foods are often very high in calories.

You eat too fast

When you eat quickly, it’s also easy to eat too much. Eating in courses is one way to slow your pace. Taking smaller bites helps, too.  If you’re eating food that needs to be cut up – like a piece of meat or chicken – cut as you go. Practice putting your utensils down periodically during the meal, stop to sip on water, or simply take a little break. Work towards making your meal last for 15 or 20 minutes.

You eat too much sugar

Read nutrition labels carefully for sugar content and, rather than buying pre-sweetened items like cereals or yogurt, buy unsweetened versions and sweeten them yourself – you’ll probably use a lot less sugar than the food manufacturers do.  Start a habit of having fresh fruit for dessert rather than other sweets, and turn to spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves to add a sweet flavor to foods.  If you’re getting most of your sugar in liquid form, switch from sugary sodas and fruity drinks to flavorful teas, or sparkling water with a few chunks of fresh fruit added for flavor.

You eat too much fat

Deep-fried foods, fatty meats, snack foods, sauces, dressings, and many desserts can dump huge amounts of fat and calories into your system.  Use lean cuts of meat, eat more fish and poultry, and experiment with recipes so you can find other ways to prepare foods other than frying. Use low fat versions of salad dressings, cheese, milk, yogurt, mayonnaise and salad dressings (Link to video of low fat salad dressings) and season your foods with herbs, spices, lemon, onion and garlic rather than relying on high fat sauces, gravies and butter.  Instead of rich desserts, satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh fruit or an occasional scoop of sorbet.

You don’t drink enough water

When you don’t take in enough liquid, it can make you tired and irritable, and it can affect your exercise performance, too. Keeping a water bottle nearby will encourage you to drink, and many people find that it helps if they keep track of their intake, too. Make a habit of drinking a glass of water as soon as you get up in the morning. If you don’t like plain water, try mineral water or tea, such as Herbalife® Herbal Tea concentrate.

You don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables

New Year Diet Makeover: 12 Resolutions to MakeFresh fruits and veggies are perishable, and they do require some preparation, which are two reasons people don’t eat them as often as they should.  This is where your freezer can be your best friend – loose pack fruits are easy to add to protein shakes, yogurt or hot cereal, and frozen vegetables can be tossed into soups, stews, curries, omelets and stir-fries.  To cut down on preparation time, look for prewashed leafy greens and pre-cut vegetables, and easy-to-eat bananas, apples, pears, baby carrots and cherry tomatoes.  Supermarket salad bars often have raw veggies that are washed and cut – which means you just need to take them home and cook.

You snack on the wrong foods

Snacking, done right, can help you control your overall calorie intake for the day by helping to keep your hunger in check. But many snack foods are high in fat and sugar, and don’t offer enough protein to satisfy hunger.  A healthy snack combines some carbohydrate – in the form of whole grains, fruits or vegetables – coupled with some low fat protein.  For snack suggestions, check out these 25 snacks for 150 calories or less.

You eat when you’re stressed

Stress eating usually has nothing to do with hunger and, most of the time, it doesn’t really make you feel better. Start by keeping a diary and make note of what triggers your stress eating – that way you can anticipate when it’s likely to happen. It’s important to find other ways to calm yourself – some deep breathing, drinking a cup of herbal tea, giving yourself a foot massage or taking a mind-clearing walk can all help.

You eat nearly every meal out

The more you eat out, the less control you have – portions are often larger than you need, foods might contain more fat, sugar and calories than you want, and servers typically try to ‘upsell’ and get you to order more than you want or need. Stick to your general eating plan and order accordingly. If you normally eat a salad with some protein for lunch, don’t even think about a sandwich or pasta. Some restaurants posts their calorie counts online – get familiar with them and decide ahead of time what you’ll have. Always get sauces and dressings on the side so you control the amount that you use. If your meal consists of meat, starch and vegetable, ask for double vegetables and skip the starch. And, start thinking about packing your own lunch or making dinner at home one or two nights per week.

You don’t read the nutrition facts

If you look at a food package, but don’t really study the nutrition facts panel, you may not always be making the best choice.  The front of the package might tell you a food is “made with whole grain” or “low fat” but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good for you, or that it’s low in calories.  Learn your way around the nutrition facts panel, and know that all the nutrition information that’s given is for a single serving – not the entire package.  A cookie that’s low in fat might have a lot more sugar than its full-fat cousin – which means the low fat version may not save you many calories.

You don’t have a plan

Having a plan doesn’t necessarily mean that you know exactly what you’re going to eat at every meal or snack. But it does mean that you have a general idea of how your calories are distributed over the day, and what foods can be plugged into your plan to create a variety of meals. Meal plans are a huge help in keeping you on track because once you’ve got a plan in mind, you’re a bit more committed. Take a little extra time on the weekend to plan out both your meals and your shopping list for the week, or take a look at my meal plans for various calorie levels to get you started.

Susan Bowerman is Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.

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Weigh Yourself: 10 Common Mistakes People Make

Weigh Yourself 101: 10 Common MistakesHave you ever looked down at the scale, wondering if it’s the correct number? It’s a common occurrence because you might be making one of these ten common mistakes when you weigh yourself!

Weighing yourself seems like a fairly straightforward procedure – you hop on the scale, see what it says, hop off, and get on with your day.  As simple as that sounds, there are some common mistakes that people make when they weigh themselves.  Here are a few tips to help you weigh yourself correctly.

Common mistakes when it comes to weighing yourself:

You weigh yourself too often

It’s normal for weight to fluctuate from day to day – by as much as a 5 pounds (or a couple of kilos).  Most weight fluctuations are due to fluid shifts, and may also have to do with what you recently ate.  For instance, if you eat a salty meal at night, your body might retain some extra fluid – and you’ll see an uptick on the scale in the morning.  On the other hand, cutting back too far on your carbohydrate intake can cause a temporary water loss, which may make you appear lighter on the scale.  Recognize these shifts for what they are, and try to weigh yourself less frequently – it will be easier for you to see how your weight is trending over time.  And, for women only: know that fluid retention during your menstrual cycle may give you the false impression that you’ve gained body weight – so you may want to avoid the scale during your cycle.

You don’t know how much your clothes weigh

When you don’t weigh yourself at home, you may not know how to adjust for your clothing – and, you may tell yourself that it weighs a lot more than it actually does. An article1 published last year actually shed some light on the topic. Researchers weighed 35 women and 15 men – wearing only their indoor clothing, but no shoes – four times during a one year period and averaged the clothing weight for each person. Men’s clothing (on average) was heavier than women’s, and – interestingly – the clothing weight didn’t vary all that much throughout the year. From their findings, it was suggested that women make a weight adjustment for clothing of about 1.75 pounds (0.8 kg) and men should make an adjustment of about 2.5 pounds (1.2 kg).

You focus only your weight, not your body composition

Keep in mind that your weight on the scale is only that – you may know how much your total body weighs, but what really matters is your body composition.  A person who carries a lot of muscle could be “overweight” according to a height and weight chart, but a body composition analysis would likely reveal a healthy body fat percentage – and that they’re actually at an appropriate weight.  On the flip side, someone who is “thin on the outside but fat on the inside” might have a “normal” weight on a height and weight chart, and yet be carrying an unhealthy amount of body fat.

You weigh yourself at night

If you’re one of those people who hops on the scale several times a day, you’ve probably noticed that your weight can shift quite a bit from morning to night. Among other things, the extra weight comes from foods and fluids you’ve eaten all day. Ideally, you should weigh yourself first thing in the morning, without clothing, after you’ve emptied your bladder.

You use more than one scale

You’d think all scales would give you the same reading, but that’s often not the case. (I can’t tell you how often I’ve weighed a client in my office, only to have them say, “I don’t weigh that much at home!!”). Scales do vary, so track your progress by using readings from only one instrument. The actual weight is one thing – what really matters is the direction in which your weight is moving. If you weigh on the same instrument all the time, you’ll get a more accurate sense for what your weight is doing over time.

You don’t have a decent scale

That said, if you’re going to keep a scale at home, do invest in a reliable instrument. Digital scales tend to be more reliable than the old-fashioned spring scales. Take time to read reviews before you buy.

Your scale sits on a rug

Scales are designed to rest on a hard surface, like a wood or tile floor. If your scale is sitting on a throw rug or carpeted floor, it may not sit evenly on the floor and you may get an inaccurate reading.

You weigh on Mondays

If you’ve been reading my posts regularly, you probably know that I often suggest that people weigh themselves on Friday mornings, not on Mondays. Here’s why: Most people have a more consistent structure to their eating during the week than they do on the weekend. If they’ve been trying to keep their calories in check, their weight is often at its lowest point for the week on Friday. I think this can really motivate you to stay on track over the weekend. But, if you “blow it” on the weekend, your weight could be at its highest point on Monday morning, and the damage is already done.

You weigh after you exercise

After a workout, there’s a good chance that you’ve experienced some fluid losses, so your weight might be down. Since you’re not adequately hydrated, you won’t be getting an accurate body weight. The only reason to weigh yourself after exercise is if you’re trying to keep tabs on your fluid losses during exercise. Some athletes weigh themselves before and after exercise so they know how much fluid they need in order to replenish their losses (every 2 pounds – or 1 kg – lost during activity represents 4 cups – or 1 liter – of fluid that needs replacing).

You let the reading on the scale affect your mood for the rest of the day

If the reading on the scale is disappointing to you, don’t let it ruin your whole day. Keep in mind that whenever you weigh yourself, you’re simply capturing a moment in time. And – like your blood pressure or your cholesterol level – it’s just a reading that tells you where you are … it’s not a judgment of who you are. Keep tabs on your weight to follow the trend, but don’t judge your progress solely by what the scale is telling you. In the long run, the everyday healthy habits that you establish will bring you closer to your goal, so keep your focus on all the positive changes you’re making and let your weight take care of itself.

1Whigham LD et al. Int J Obesity. 37:160; 2013.

Susan Bowerman is Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.

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Don’t let holiday weight gain creep up on you! 12 tips to curb overeating

Holiday weight gain: Why it’s so easy and what you can do about itHoliday weight gain doesn’t have to happen.  Here’s how to avoid overeating during the holiday season. 

Gaining weight over the holidays is what you might call a “no-brainer.”  When you’re facing a month-long holiday season of non-stop parties, family get-togethers and once-a-year holiday foods, it’s easy to think, “who wouldn’t gain a few extra pounds?” Holiday weight gain doesn’t have to happen, but a lot of people just assume that it will.  And that kind of thinking could get you into a lot of trouble.  If you’re convinced that holiday weight gain is inevitable, you’re probably not going to do much to prevent it.

Why It’s So Easy to Gain Weight Over the Holidays

That’s not to say that maintaining your weight over the holidays is easy – it’s a huge challenge to keep your eating under control during the holiday season. When you’re facing so many situations (and for so long) that entice you to eat more than you should, your willpower is being tested nearly nonstop.

Look at it this way: in your daily life, you can probably name a situation or two that you know will trigger you to overeat.  Maybe you eat too much when you’re stressed, or you overdo it on the weekends.  And when  you’ve only got one or two triggers to manage, you can probably do that pretty well most of the year.

But when the holidays come around, it’s not just one or two things that can trigger you to overeat.  In fact, if I were to list (as I’m about to do) some of the most common overeating triggers, it’s as if every single one of them is coming at you from all sides during the holidays. And, it goes on for weeks.   When you look at it that way, it’s amazing we don’t gain more weight than we do over the holidays.

We Don’t Gain That Much Over the Holidays (But We Don’t Lose It, Either)

In fact, according to a widely cited study1, the average American only gains about 1 pound (about half a kilo) during the (roughly) 6-week holiday season that stretches from the end of November through the first of the New Year.

Now the bad news:  The same study also noted that those who start the season with extra weight do have larger weight gains over the holidays – closer to 5 pounds (2.3 kg).   And, no matter how much weight you gain over the holidays – even if it’s only a pound or so – that weight tends to stay with you. Hang onto that extra pound year after year, and you could have a case of obesity creeping up on you.

12 Reasons Why We Overeat at Holidays

  • Longer meals can lead to overeating. Holiday meals tend to be more leisurely – we enjoy sitting around the table visiting, without the need to rush.  But the longer you sit at the table, the more you’re likely to eat . You absent-mindedly grab another spoonful of potatoes or a second slice of pie.  To signal that your meal is over, take your plate into the kitchen, or pop a breath mint in your mouth.
  • Eating with other people can lead to overeating.  When you eat with other people, meals tend to be longer.  You might also find yourself influenced by the large portions other people are eating, and give yourself permission to follow suit.  Being the first one to plate up sometimes helps – that way, you can serve yourself a reasonable portion without being swayed by the amount of food others are piling onto their plates.
  • Drinking alcohol can lead to overeating.  An alcoholic drink or two can loosen your inhibitions – often bringing on the “what the heck, it’s the holidays!” attitude.  Your best defense here is to set a limit of how many drinks you’re planning to have – and stick to it – and alternate alcoholic drinks with calorie-free beverages.
  • Exposure to a wide variety of foods can lead to overeating.  The more variety on your plate, the more you’re likely to eat.  That’s because it takes longer for your taste buds to get bored – when every bite is a little different, you just want to keep eating.  To handle this, you can either limit the number of choices you allow yourself, or keep your portions very small if you’re going for variety.
  • Pressure from friends and family can lead to overeating. At no time of the year is the pressure more intense, it seems, than at holidays.  Relatives knock themselves out making special holiday dishes, and you run the risk of insulting them if you don’t indulge (or over-indulge).  You can gently push back by agreeing to just a small portion, or you can try saying, “I know I’d enjoy this a lot more if I weren’t so full – maybe later.”
  • Getting out of your usual routine can lead to overeating. One reason people overeat on the weekends is because they’re out of their usual routine – and the holiday season can seem like a weekend that lasts for a month.  Even when you have parties and get-togethers to attend, it’s unlikely that every single meal is affected.  So, stick to your usual eating routine when you’re not at an event, and make a commitment to stay on track with your exercise, too.
  • Eating away from home can lead to overeating.  You tend to eat more calories when you eat away from home because it’s harder to control portion sizes or ingredients. Holiday meals often involve large portions of rich food, so you need a strategy.  Do your best to keep portions of rich food on the small side, and try to load up on any items that won’t break your calorie bank, like vegetables and green salads.  Resist the temptation to fill your plate, and use a smaller plate if one is available to help you control portions.
  • Stress can lead to overeating. Holiday time is fun, but it’s also stressful.  If stress is one of your overeating triggers, you’ll want to find other ways to calm down.  Try to carve some downtime for yourself so you’re not over-committed, and be sure to set time aside for the best stress-buster of all – exercise.  Rather than turning to food when you’re stressed, have a cup of tea, call a friend, take a walk, or meditate for a few minutes instead.
  • Family style meals can lead to overeating.  When serving dishes are placed on the table – as they often are at holiday meals – overeating is encouraged.  Second helpings (and thirds…) can happen before you know it.  Pass bowls and platters of tempting foods to the opposite end of the table to get them out of your line of sight.
  • Serving yourself from large containers can lead to overeating.  Behavioral psychology research tells us that we serve ourselves more food from large containers than we do from smaller ones.  Holiday platters are often gigantic, and food is piled up so high that even if you take an enormous serving, it hardly makes a dent.  Keep an image in your head of the portion sizes you know you should eat, and do your best to stick to them.
  • Eating from a buffet line can lead to overeating. Buffets can be the ‘’perfect storm” of overeating – there’s lots of variety, serving dishes are huge, you can go back as many times as you want, and you have no idea how most of the dishes were prepared.  Before you dig in, take a stroll down the length of the buffet line and determine what you’re going to have.  Fill up your plate with as many of the lower-calorie items that you can identify, with much smaller portions of the richer fare.  If you can, sit with your back to the buffet line.  Out of sight, out of mind.
  • Increased exposure to food can lead to overeating.  Ever notice how – at holiday time – there’s food everywhere you go?  From goodies in the break room at work, candy canes on the counter at the bank, and gift baskets arriving unexpectedly at your door, you’re exposed to more temptation at this time of the year than any other.  While it’s hard to limit your exposure to all these treats, you can change the way you respond when you see them.  Rather than letting your impulses get the best of you, stop and ask yourself, “did I plan to eat this?”  If you didn’t plan for it, didn’t want it until you saw it, or wouldn’t go out of your way to get it – you probably shouldn’t be eating it.

1Yanovski JA et al. N Eng J Med. 2000; 23:861

Susan Bowerman is Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.

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