Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Posted from LiveStrong.com

Small Changes Can

 Yield Big Results

When you set and 
accomplish small, 
tangible changes, 
you get an immediate
 sense of gratification,
 and that is self-motivating.

Make Minor Adjustments 
That Will Pay Big Dividends

Showering with your eyes closed can
 help stimulate the mind by blocking one
 of the senses, according to studies. 
Try eating with a blindfold, as well. 
Hoby Finn/Digital Vision/Getty Images
By Chan Tran

Quit cold turkey. Run a marathon.
 Cut out carbohydrates. Reduce 
calorie intake by half. You may believe that 
drastic changes are the only ways to 
achieve the results you want, but that's
 hardly the case.

"When changes are too big, they
 may be too overwhelming," said
 registered dietitian Ellie Krieger, 
author of "Small Changes, Big 
Results: A 12-Week Action Plan
 to a Better Life." "People don't
 want to start, or they don't know
 where to begin so they don't at all."

Small lifestyle changes are easier
 to achieve and maintain. When
 successful, they are more likely 
to become habits and can lead 
to increased self-confidence.

"Most successful goals or 
changes are things you can
 literally check off and say, 
'I did this,'" Krieger said.
 "If you say, 'I am going to
 eat better,' you can't track
 or net that goal. But when
 you set and accomplish 
small, tangible changes, 
you get an immediate 
sense of gratification,
 and that is self-motivating."

So whether you're looking
to improve your finances,
 health, fitness or relationships,
 focusing on frequent, achievable

Confuse Your Muscles

Ellie Krieger, registered dietitian
 and author of "Small Changes,
 Big Results: A 12-Week Action 
Plan to a Better Life
When it comes to building
 muscles, a few tweaks to
 your fitness routine may be
 all you need to change your body.

"You don't necessarily have to 
change your entire workout; 
you would only need to change
 how you complete the exercises," 
said Jeff Plasschaert, an
 exercise physiologist at the 
University of Florida.

Some simple changes are doing
 an exercise bilaterally 
(working both limbs), adding 
in balancing, changing the
 mode of exercise (from machines
 to free weights), and grouping 
multiple exercises into one
 movement. Adjusting your grip
 can help get in a few more reps.
 Plasschaert suggests adding
 variations to these basic
 exercises to take your workouts
 up a notch.

Lunge: Add a twist or rotation;
 lunge onto unstable surface
(Airex Balance Pad or Bosu ball);
lunge with rotation using bands.

Biceps Curl: Switch between a
 palms-down and palms-up grip;
 use bands or cable machine; 
stand on one leg for balance; 
incorporate a lunge with biceps curl.

Triceps Extensions: Switch between
 a palms-down and palms-up grip; 
vary between single arm and double arm.

Plank: With marching feet; with
 elbows on a stability ball; with 
elbows on a stability ball and 
tracing the alphabet with your elbows.

Pushup: Vary width of hands;
 put hands on unstable surface; 
 little goals will lead you to success.
put a band around your elbows;
put one arm on top of a medicine ball.

You're Full
Stop Before 

"On a scale of one to 10,
 with one being you're 
famished and 10 being 
you're Thanksgiving full, 
stop eating when you're
 at a five or six," said Krieger.

To stay satisfied yet
 never stuffed,
 give your snack or 
meal undivided
 attention. So-called
 "mindful eating" 
means not eating
in front of the TV or 
anything that would 
distract you from
 the food.

Take small bites.
Chew slowly.
 Smell your food.
 Focus on
 the texture and taste.
 a few bites or one 
 ask yourself if you 
 more or are satisfied.

Using smaller plates and 
bowls can also help.

In a Cornell University 
published in the 
 2006 issue of the 
 Journal of Preventative
85 nutrition experts
 were given
 either a small or a 
large bowl
 for ice cream. Participants
 the larger bowl served 
 and ate 31 percent 
more calories
 than those with the
 smaller bowl.

According to Brian
 Cornell Food and 
Brand Lab
 director and lead
 author of the 
study, people are 
likely to serve
 themselves 22
 percent fewer
 calories if they use a 
plate instead of a 
12-inch plate.

Portion half of the
 dinner plate 
with vegetables and
 fruits, says
 Elisa Zied, registered
 and author of "Nutrition
 at Your 
Fingertips." This way you
 fill up
 on fruits and veggies
 instead of
 the high-caloric food.

Take aRelaxing Bath
If you're struggling to fall
 asleep at night, Harvard
 University sleep experts 
suggest establishing a 
soothing pre-sleep routine. 
Read a book, practice 
relaxation exercises or take
 a bath (the rise and fall in 
body temperature induces 
drowsiness). Keep your room 
slightly cool, and avoid the
 glow of your computer at night. 

After all, sleep is important for
 your well-being as well as
 your waistline. A study 
presented at the 2011 
meeting of the Associated 
Professional Sleep Societies
 shows that not getting 
enough shuteye may make
 junk food more tempting. 
Researchers say daytime
 sleepiness may impair your 
brain's inhibitory control
 when viewing tantalizing,
 high-caloric food.

Shower With

Your Eyes Closed
Blocking or combining one
 or more of your senses, such
 as showering with your eyes 
closed or eating blindfolded,
 can improve memory and your
 mental fitness, according to the
 Franklin Institute. 

When you use your senses
 in unexpected ways, you're
 stimulating nerve cells in the
 brain so that pathways and
 circuits get activated.

Listen to the rain and tap 
your fingers, or smell flowers
 while listening to music. Close
 your eyes when buying fresh 
produce and rely only on your 
spatial reasoning and sense of 
smell and touch.

Eat More, Drink Less

Whether it's a 140-calorie can of 
soda can or a 190-calorie soy latte, 
"liquid calories add up," said Zied.

Limit beverages that add to
 your daily caloric intake yet
 do little to make you feel full.
 And although low in calories, 
diet soda is not the solution.
 Researchers from the University
 of Texas Health Science Center
 in San Antonio reported that 
drinking diet soda is associated
 with a wider waistline. And a
 second study found that aspartame
 -- an artificial sweetener in diet
 sodas -- raised the blood sugar levels in mice.

Stick to water or unsweetened 
coffee/tea, or make fresh-fruit-infused
 water: Blend two cups of water with 
a cup of melon and pour over ice.

Sprint Your Workout

Burn fat, build muscles, boost
endurance and improve your 
cardiovascular health in the 
shortest time possible with
 interval training, or short bursts 
of high-intensity exercises, says
 Jeff Plasschaert, an exercise
 physiologist at the University of Florida.

An effective way of incorporating
 interval training is to make part
 of your workout a circuit, such as
 a six-exercise set completed for
 one minute each with 30-second 
rests and repeated three times for
 a 30-minute workout. Be sure to
 include a warm-up and cool-down routine.

"If you know how much time you 
have to work out, then you can pick
 a set number of exercises and
 repeat those exercises for the 
duration of the workout," said Plasschaert.

Spend 15 Minutes Saving

The average U.S. family carries
 $8,000 in credit-card debt. Rather 
than making drastic sacrifices --- such
 as downsizing from a two-car to 
a one-car household --- financial
expert Ellie Kay suggests small,
 workable changes that add up to major savings.

Before you shop, Kay recommends
seeking online coupon codes and 
promotions. Cut your grocery bill in
 half with deals from the newspaper
 or other online coupon sites, and 
before traveling, use sites that let
 you know where the cheapest gas 
is along your route.

"Devote 15 minutes a day to saving,
 and determine to never pay full price 
for anything," said Kay.

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