The Art and Science of Foods That Fill You Up

A big part of healthy eating is filling up on the right foods. The problem is that trying to avoid cravings can feel crazy sometimes. Some people eat lunch and feel hungry again an hour later. What’s up with that?

The Science Behind Feeling Full

The reason you feel full after eating something is all in your head, literally. As your stomach digests your meal, it sends signals to your brain telling you that you’re not hungry anymore. Your body takes time to break down food into nutrients, releasing hormones that help you feel full and content.

Even your emotions are involved. Have you ever noticed how happy and satisfied you are after eating a meal that you love? On the other hand, when you’re stressed or depressed, you probably feel hungrier than normal. This is all because of hormones.

The Reason Some Foods Make You Feel Full Longer Than Others

Why are some foods more filling than others? One reason is that they take longer to digest. The more time your stomach spends processing food, the less time it has to feel hungry. Here are a few things that can make any meal more filling:

  • Fiber: Foods that are high in fiber take longer for your body to digest. Fiber turns the things you eat into a kind of gel, slowing them down as they move through your intestines. Another benefit of fiber is that it balances your blood-sugar levels, basically telling your body that your energy levels are good so you don’t need to eat anything else.

  • Protein: When you eat protein, your body releases specific hormones responsible for feelings of fullness. High-protein foods are the best snacks for calming the munchies. Eggs have a lot of protein, and so do nuts and different types of fish.

  • Water: Getting enough water with meals is a great way to calm your appetite. Not only does water have zero calories, it contributes to fullness. Fruit that naturally has high water content is very filling, such as a slice of watermelon or some fresh pineapple.

Other foods help you stay full longer because they have a low energy density. In other words, they have a lot of volume but not very many calories. You feel satisfied without feeling guilty.


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The Best Foods for Calming Hunger

The munchies can make cutting calories from your diet easier said than done. To have success with your weight loss goals, reach for these foods at meal time:

  • Soup: Cooked veggies and protein with plenty of water are the perfect recipe for a filling meal.

  • Greek yogurt: This healthy treat has a lot of protein and probiotics to calm hungry feelings.

  • Vegetables: Did you know that broccoli is 90% water? Leafy greens are packed with fiber, too. Carrots are another filling choice.

  • Fresh fruit: Apples, bananas and oranges have plenty of fiber and water, and they’re super-fast to grab on the go.

  • Potatoes: Boiled or baked potatoes are among the most filling foods on the planet. Scientists think they have a special protein that suppresses appetite.

My personal recommendation is to add a salad to everything (but skip the ranch dressing). If you’re making spaghetti for your kids, make some salad, too. That way you eat fewer calories but still feel satisfied. This helps calm nighttime snacking temptations a lot.

The Best Natural Ways To Get Electrolytes

Bottles

Did you know that electrolytes help your body conduct electricity? I’m not talking about zapping your hair into a frizzy nightmare like in the cartoons. Any time your muscles or nerves go to work, they need energy, which is where electrolytes come in. The more you sweat, the more of these essential vitamins and minerals you lose.

Woman Running on Beach

Electrolytes Are Pure Energy … Literally.

You should be getting potassium, magnesium, sodium and calcium every day anyway, but your muscles especially need them before, during and after physical or mental exertion. This is why being dehydrated makes you feel like your body is shutting down. And your brain isn’t exactly thrilled either; low electrolyte levels cause problems with concentration and mood.

Gatorade

Gatorade and Powerade and Vitamin Water, Oh My!

How do sports drinks stack up when it comes to giving your body the electrolytes it needs? They’re popular, that’s for sure. But there’s a bad reason for that: Most are filled with sugar.

In one popular brand, the ingredient list I saw read “water, crystalline fructose, cane sugar” and less than 0.5% of different vitamins. In other words, you’re basically getting water and two types of sugar.

Relying on these drinks for your daily fix of electrolytes is like hitting the snooze button on your alarm by taking a sledgehammer to it. Sure, they give you electrolytes, but they also give you a ton of fat-boosting carbs, which is what I’m trying to get rid of when I exercise!


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Coconut Water

The Best Options for Getting Electrolytes and Staying Hydrated.

Believe it or not, you can actually get a lot of electrolytes for free. My other favorite sources are 100% natural, as close to healthy as you can get. Here’s how to hydrate the right way:

  • Tap water: In may areas, tap water naturally has quite of bit of magnesium, sodium and calcium, meaning it compares to pretty much all of the sports drinks on the market. Of course, some people don’t love the taste.
  • Coconut water: This is nature’s answer to electrolyte water. Coconut water has absolutely everything you need for workouts: sodium, calcium, potassium and magnesium. It has a pleasant, neutral taste and just 46 calories a cup. I guess getting lost on a desert island isn’t that bad after all!
  • Watermelon: This refreshing summertime fave is over 90% water, making it smart for pre- and post-workout hydration. Sometimes I eat a few slices and other times I drink homemade watermelon juice. Watermelon has a lot of potassium and magnesium.
  • Tart cherry juice: Unsweetened tart cherry juice is rich in electrolytes and vitamins. It has 14% of your daily potassium, 60% of the vitamin A and 40% of the vitamin C you need. Plus, several studies say this juice can increase muscle strength while reducing soreness and recovery time!
  • Milk: Calcium, potassium, protein … remind you of anything? That’s right, milk! Most people wouldn't think of a milk moustache for electrolytes, but this healthy drink is actually one of the most balanced (unless you’re lactose intolerant). Since milk is more filling than other options, however, I would recommend drinking it after workouts, not before.
Coconuts

If you really want to target the perfect electrolyte balance for your body, make a smoothie! A blend of watermelon, frozen mango (or another favorite fruit), milk, pumpkin seeds and coconut water hits the spot after exercising. Always add a sprinkle of sea salt (1/8 teaspoon for every 5 cups of your smoothie) since that’s the electrolyte you sweat the most.

How To Make a Weight-Loss New Year’s Resolution That Will Actually Stick!

Measuring Tape

We open up a shiny new year by declaring all the things that will be different this year. We'll eat better. We'll exercise more. In reality, though, our resolutions last maybe a week, and then it's back to the same old thing, right? What if there was a trick to making a new habit stick? What if this trick worked even for habits you had tried (and failed) to cultivate many times in the past? News flash: There is such a trick, and it really does work. (Spoiler alert: It's actually not a trick at all. It's science.)

2021

Remember Your Why

Take a bit of time to dig down into why you want to lose weight this year. Get specific. Don't settle for a vague feeling of nostalgia. Instead, write down the personal and health benefits you want to gain by losing weight. Focus on outcomes, such as playing with your grandchildren without getting winded or being able to climb stairs without knee pain from the extra weight on your joints. Post your "why" somewhere you can see it often.

Goals

Set Specific Goals

Now that you know exactly why you want to lose weight write down what that will look like for you when you've accomplished it. Will you be down a certain number of pounds or pants sizes? Will you know you've hit your goal when you can walk a set distance without feeling like you need a nap? Write it down, whatever it is.


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Focus on Habits

After completing the two steps above, you've got your resolution. Now comes the part where you make it all happen. You already know how to lose weight. Although the details may vary depending on your health and other circumstances, it basically comes down to eating better and moving more. What new habits do you need to incorporate into your life to make weight loss happen for you? Create two category headings: one for food and one for movement. Under each heading, write down one or two habits to start with. One could be about filling up on fruits and veggies, and another could be about doubling your average daily steps. Try to choose new habits that are slightly out of reach but don't feel impossible.

Exercise

Tie It All Together

Once you have your new habits in mind (and down on paper!), figure out how to tie them to habits you already have. For example, you already brush your teeth every morning. If you want to create a new habit of drinking a big glass of water first thing in the morning, attach the new habit to the existing habit by placing your water glass next to the toothpaste so you remember to grab it and fill it up. If your new habit is eating two servings of fruit at breakfast and you're a coffee drinker, place a cutting board next to the coffee maker and link chopping fruit with waiting for the coffee to brew. Once your new behaviors start to truly become habits, add a couple more, always piggybacking onto something you already do.

Happy New Year

Give Yourself Grace

The true secret to success in anything is never to give up. New Year's resolutions that really stick are those you don't give up on, even when you have setbacks. When you feel like you've failed at keeping your resolutions, dust yourself off and start again. You've got this!

5 Coffee-Enhancing Hacks To Elevate Your Brew For Optimal Health Perks

Coffee Cup

As you can imagine, I was overjoyed when scientists announced that not only is coffee not a bad thing, it’s actually really good. Did you know there are way to make this amazing drink EVEN BETTER? You have to check out these 5 incredible hacks for taking coffee to the next level:

Coffee Smoothie

1. Supercharge a Smoothie.

Coffee can increase your metabolism (helping you burn more fat than you normally would) and give you more energy. It’s awesome for prepping for workouts. Turn iced coffee into a cardio-boosting smoothie with this recipe:

  • 1/4 cup chilled brewed coffee
  • 3/4 cup almond milk or skim milk
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter (or another nut butter)
  • 1 tablespoon un-brewed ground coffee
  • Ice for thickness

Before you ask … yes, it’s safe to include ground, un-brewed coffee in your smoothie. It gives you extra caffeine and antioxidants.

Cinnamon Bark

2. Curl Up With Cinnamon.

Cinnamon isn’t just for spicing up (pardon the pun) your coffee’s flavor. This delicious ingredient also has lots of health benefits. It gives you major manganese and antioxidants, helping to protect your heart, lower inflammation and help with menstrual pain. Cinnamon can also lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar and strengthen the immune system. Yes, please!

The easiest way to get cinnamon in your coffee is to add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder to the grounds before brewing.

Almond Milk


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3. Ask for Almond Milk.

For me, creamy coffee is irresistible. In fact, I’m a “no sugar, 2 creamers, please” type of girl. The only problem with that is that milk and creamers add a lot of calories to each cup.

The solution? Choose almond milk instead of dairy. Almond milk still has that supersmooth, creamy texture I love, but roughly half the calories. At the same time, it gives you lots of vitamin D, vitamin E and calcium.

Cup of Coffee

4. Go Bulletproof With Butter & Coconut Oil

Homemade bulletproof coffee uses medium-chain triglycerides to kickstart fat burning. Unlike normal fats, MCTs tend to get turned into energy packets for fuel instead of stubborn belly fat. This helps you avoid the energy drain that sometimes happens with keto diets. At the same time, keto coffee helps fill you up so you don’t feel the temptation to cheat.
To make your own keto brew, here’s what to do:

  • Brew a cup of coffee. Your favorite beans are fine.
  • Pour the coffee into a glass blender jar.
  • Add 1–2 tablespoons of unsalted butter or ghee (clarified butter).
  • Add anywhere from 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of coconut oil or MCT oil.
  • Blend until creamy.

That’s it! Enjoy the frothy, energy-enhancing drink on your way out the door or before working out.

Turmeric Latte

5. Try Turmeric Lattes.

One popular drink in India is called golden milk, a type of bright-yellow latte made with milk and spices. You can put your own twist on this energizing, depression-fighting beverage by adding some to your coffee. Here’s how:

  • Make a golden milk base with 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, sprinkle of black pepper and 1 tablespoon water.
  • Brew some coffee.
  • Combine 2 1/2 cups of coffee, 1 1/2 cups almond milk, 1/2 teaspoon honey and a few drops of vanilla extract.
  • Blend everything together until it’s smooth and enjoy!

Turmeric is an incredible spice. It has anti-inflammatory benefits, mood-boosting properties and powerful antioxidants for keeping your whole body healthy.

Do you have other health-boosting tips for my morning java? Please, I’m begging you. Share them with me!

These 5 Nuts Are What’s Missing in Your Diet

Heart shape made of pistachios

You could say that I go nuts over nuts. They’re everything I crave in a snack — crunchy, fast, healthy and tasty. Here are five of the healthiest nuts for your heart, mind and waistline:

Almonds

1. Almonds

We all knew that almonds would be at the top of the list. They’re simply phenomenal in every way — nature’s perfect health food. They have lots of fiber, protein, vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, antioxidants and healthy fat, all in a low-carb package.

Research shows that almonds help to balance your blood sugar, preventing type 2 diabetes and making it easier to lose weight. Whether you’re burning fat with a keto diet or just taking great care of your body, you can never go wrong with almonds.

Macadamia nuts

2. Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are packed with the same type of heart-healthy fat as olive oil and avocados. At the same time, they’re low in total carbs. For keto, macadamia nuts are one of the best ways to stay in ketosis.

Putting these mild, slightly sweet nuts in healthy cookie recipes is popular, and there are tons of other ways to use them. Make macadamia nuts the star of your favorite post-workout energy bites or use them crushed as a delicious coating for roasted chicken.

Peanuts


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3. Peanuts

Contrary to popular belief, peanuts can be very healthy (unless you have allergies). Dry-roasted peanuts are rich in protein, vitamin E, magnesium and B vitamins. Their protein content makes you feel full, getting rid of junk food cravings quickly. Peanuts also reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Of course, adding salt, sugar and chocolate gets rid of these health benefits. To keep peanuts healthy, choose unsweetened and no salt added peanut butter or ground peanut paste for recipes.

Pistachios

4. Pistachios

These green nuts are extremely low in calories, making them one of the best snack choices when focused on losing weight. One serving of pistachios gives you major potassium, antioxidants and plant nutrients. They’re good for your eyes, your heart and your waistline.

As a snack, pistachios help with mindful eating, because they force you to pause as you open the shells. Personally, I find this relaxing. The rhythmic motion of removing the nuts from the shells calms me down and I get a delicious treat for my efforts!

Walnuts

5. Walnuts

I’m going to be completely honest here — I don’t like the taste of walnuts. The thing is, they’re so healthy that I just have to include them in this list. Walnuts are a great source of healthy fats, and they’re the only nut that has omega-3 fatty acids. Getting lots of omega-3s takes care of your heart, reduces anxiety, moisturizes your skin, fights inflammation and gives your brain a huge boost.

If you’re like me and you despise the flavor of walnuts, do what you would when feeding your kids: hide them. Make raspberry pancakes with crushed walnuts or grind up some walnuts in a fruit smoothie.

Cooking with nuts

Add More Nuts to Your Cooking

You can add more protein and antioxidants to every meal by including nuts in your recipes. Give a fresh salad irresistible crunch by sprinkling pistachios on top. Take that Thai stir fry to the next level with a few spoons of peanut paste. Spice up pasta dishes with almond and basil pesto. Nuts are incredible, and they’re not just for snacking.

5 Tips on Eating Mindfully When Doing Everything from Home

Woman working from home

If you're like most people, you spend most of your time at home these days. While you surely don't miss your morning commute and cherish spending more time with your family, it's likely your diet has taken a turn for the worse.

Let's face it, it's tough to eat mindfully when you're constantly surrounded by snacks and goodies. It's also natural to turn to food for comfort when life gets stressful, which is a common experience for many. Fortunately, it is possible to eat mindfully these days, especially when you use the following tips.

Meal Plan

Make an Eating Plan Each Day

Meal plans eliminate the stress of deciding what to eat each day. When you have your food prepared and ready to go, you won't fall victim to ordering bad-for-you junk food just because it's quick and easy. When grocery shopping, consider your meals for the rest of the week. Prep your breakfast, lunch, and dinner the night before, so they're ready to go the next day. When meal time rolls around, just pop your prepped food out of the fridge and re-heat. It's as simple as that.

Salads

Know When You're Hungry

It's easy to mistake boredom for hunger, especially when you're working on a tedious task. Your chance of mindless snacking is highest during times of boredom, so pay attention to what your stomach is telling you. If you've recently eaten lunch or breakfast and aren't really feeling hunger pangs, look for another outlet that isn't food related. If you can, take a brief walk around the block. If you're stuck at home, take a ten-minute mediation break. You can also try moving to another task for a brief period to keep your mind engaged.


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Eat Smaller Portions

If the urge to snack is just too strong, consider reducing portion sizes. Try eating a light breakfast of yogurt and a slice of toast, followed up by a banana or other type of fruit. For lunch, have a lettuce wrap or healthy salad, followed up by a snack of kale chips or veggies with hummus. When you eat smaller meals consistently throughout the day, your metabolism will experience a much-needed boost. This helps you maintain a healthy weight, while also fighting back against any cravings you might experience.

Woman drinking water

Drink More Water and Other Fluids

Water is your best friend during a long and tedious day. It keeps you hydrated and refreshed, while also eliminating food cravings by creating a feeling of fullness. There are lots of other healthy beverages you can add into the mix for variety. Instead of coffee, try green tea. Green tea offers a boost thanks to caffeine and is also brimming with antioxidants. If you're trying to reduce your caffeine intake, try drinking a chamomile or ginger tea instead. You can also jazz up your water by adding a splash of lemon or picking up some flavored sparkling water.

Woman working at her desk

Don't Bring Food to Your Work Area

When there are delicious snacks right there on your desk, it's even harder to resist temptation. Consider your desk off limits for eating, even when it comes to healthy snacks. This will benefit you in a couple of ways. First, it will stop you from mindlessly snacking throughout the day. It will also help you achieve a good work/life balance. Taking time to enjoy meals is important for your health, both mentally and physically.

Try implementing the above tips during the day for a more enlightened attitude towards meals and snacking. It may be tough at first, especially if you're used to eating a lot during the day, but over time you'll feel better about yourself and your diet, which is much more gratifying.

What’s the Deal With Healthy Ice Cream “Alternatives”?

Ice cream

Lately, I’ve noticed when strolling happily through the frozen desserts section of the store that there are TONS of different ice cream “alternatives.” Are they worth the hype? I conducted a bunch of … um, “scientific” research to find the answers. Here’s what I discovered.

Gelato

Are Nondairy Desserts or Alternative Ice Creams Right for You?

First, let’s talk about the different options available for frozen treats. There are vegan alternatives, high-protein “keto” versions, Italian gelato, sorbet, frozen yogurt, frozen kefir and shaved ice. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Vegan desserts: These are nondairy desserts, meaning they don’t have any kind of cow’s milk, goat’s milk, etc. Instead, they use tasty coconut, almond, cashew or soy milk. If you’re lactose intolerant, these alternatives can be amazing. However, they also tend to be high in sugar and saturated fat.
  • Sorbet: This is whipped and frozen fruit puree. On the upside, it has zero saturated fat. On the downside, many varieties are packed with sugar.
  • Gelato: This is Italian ice cream. It’s thicker than traditional ice cream, and it has a heavenly texture (you can trust me on this). Ounce for ounce, gelato has significantly less calories, sugar and fat than ice cream. There’s a catch, however: One serving of gelato is quite a bit smaller than a serving of ice cream.
  • Frozen yogurt: This is a joke when it comes to losing weight. Frozen yogurt (and kefir) is tasty, and includes probiotics, but it usually has as much sugar and fat as regular ice cream.
  • Shaved ice: Bao bing, kakigori, Italian lemon ice — these are all types of shaved ice. Low in calories, gluten free and fat free, shaved ice sounds like the perfect alternative to ice cream. And, if you choose options with actual fruit juice and zero added sugar, it can be.

What about flavor? All of the healthy ice cream options I tried tasted great, though not quite as creamy as full-fat ice cream.


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Is Your Favorite Healthy Ice Cream Really Low in Fat?

At around 300–400 calories per pint compared to 1,200 calories in traditional ice cream, there’s no doubt that some varieties of healthy ice cream can help you skip the fat. To really benefit, however, you need to read the label. Some low-calorie desserts are full of added sugar (even more than full-fat ice cream) that adds to your waistline.

Ice cream bars

Are Ice Cream Alternatives Actually Healthy?

Can you benefit from choosing low-calorie alternatives to regular ice cream? Yes … and no. It honestly depends a lot on the specific ingredients. Some brands of healthy ice cream focus on natural ingredients (mint, dark chocolate, real fruit puree). Others use fillers, emulsifiers, sugar alcohols and a bunch of other things I can’t even pronounce.
After trying them over many weeks (purely out of scientific curiosity), my opinion is this: Choose healthy or vegan ice cream if you like it or need it, not as a weight-loss help. Many of these alternatives simply aren’t filling enough, which makes you want to eat more than you should.

Gelato store

Don’t fall for the “go for it!” trap. Even ice cream alternatives that are genuinely healthy can quickly add pounds if you eat the entire pint. Look at the serving size and compare it with what you normally eat. For some people, it’s better to indulge in a few scoops of normal ice cream on special occasions instead of demolishing an entire container of healthy ice cream regularly.

5 Hacks To Get Rid of Belly Bloat Quickly

I HATE trying to slip on that amazing pair of jeans I bought for girls’ nights out (the ones that make my butt look AWESOME) and not be able to close the zipper because of bloat. I know those jeans fit, but my tummy won’t cooperate! Sound familiar? If so, try these 5 secrets to getting rid of a bloated belly quickly.

1. Shake Your Booty

I know that going for a jog doesn’t sound very appetizing when your stomach feels bloated, but physical activity is one of the best ways to help get things moving inside. Even light exercise is fine, such as talking a walk, stretching or dancing for 5–10 minutes.

2. Massage Your Tummy

A fun way to calm a bloated belly and encourage your bowels to do their thing is with a gentle abdominal massage. It’s really easy.

Start by placing one of your hands on the right side of your belly, near your hip bone. Slowly move upwards, rubbing softly using a circular motion. Once you reach the top of your tummy, follow this movement straight across to the other side. Then move your hand down the left side of your stomach.

In other words, you’re massaging your tummy in a square pattern while making little circles with your hands. Repeat this several times. You don’t need to press hard for it to work.


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3. Enjoy a Warm Bubble Bath

Believe it or not, bloating is often caused by stress. Anxiety can mess with your hormones and cause digestive problems that lead to a bloated tummy. My favorite solution? Pampering myself with a warm bath and some scented oils (or Epsom salt).

This is great for relieving bloating for several reasons. The warm water soothes sore muscles and helps with abdominal pain. It’s also incredibly relaxing, especially with aromatic oils or candles. If bloating is a regular occurrence, try to schedule some private bubble bath “you” time once a week.

4. Drink Some Tea

Several herbal teas are wonderful for alleviating gas, bloating and abdominal pain. Here are a few of my favorite teas for times when you have a bloating emergency:

  • Star anise

  • Peppermint

  • Ginger

  • Lemon balm

  • Chamomile

  • Fennel

Peppermint tea may even help people who have irritable bowel syndrome to feel better. Studies show that peppermint oil helps to relax the gut in IBS patients.

5. Get More Fiber

“Fiber?! But I’m too young!” you say. Actually, all of need to get plenty of fiber in our diets. Bloating can happen to 18-year-old women with perfect curves as well as working moms with two kids and … slightly less perfect curves.

Most people don’t need fiber capsules; you can get what you need from a healthy diet. Add these fiber superstars to your meals or enjoy them as healthy snacks:

  • Whole grains: Oatmeal, quinoa and popcorn

  • Fresh fruits: Pears, strawberries, apples, raspberries and bananas

  • Veggies: Carrots, spinach, beets, kale and artichokes

  • Legumes: Lentils, black beans, chickpeas and kidney beans

  • Nuts and seeds: Chia seeds, almonds

Your body depends on plant fiber to keep its digestive system working properly. Smooth, regular trips to the bathroom are one of the best ways to enjoy a flat tummy and prevent bloating. Great nutrition is, not surprisingly, the key to fitting into those jeans every time.

5 of the Best Dance Classes for Weight Loss

Dance class

For me, what makes dancing amazing for exercise is the way it keeps you motivated. A great beat keeps you energized and helps you push through the burn for even better results. Here are five of my favorite dance classes:

1. Hip-Hop

Do you love to bounce and sway when your favorite songs come on the radio? I do. If you're like me, a hip-hop dance class is perfect for you. It involves a range of motion for your entire body, including arm punches, shoulder moves, high steps, hip slides, spins and jumps. These classes are a blast, and they’re amazing for slimming your waistline. You can easily reach 400–500 calories burned per hour or more.

Dance class

2. Freestyle

Freestyle classes are a great choice for people who love to dance but don’t like having to remember steps. Whether you’re into hip-hop rhythms, Latin music, electronic vibes or even classical music, freestyle lets you do your own thing. The important thing is to stay active the whole time, but you can move your feet, arms, hips and tummy however you feel like.


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3. Belly Dancing and Bollywood

If your goal is to specifically target stubborn tummy fat, then belly dancing is hard to beat. This exotic dance comes from places such as Morocco and Egypt. It involves precise movements of the hips, belly and buttocks, from slow gyrations and twists to sexy slides and vibrations. All of these movements are heaven for your midsection, burning fat while toning abdominal muscles and glutes like no tomorrow.

Bollywood dances use some of these motions while including whole-body moves and unique hand and arm flairs. Think hip-hop with a touch of gracefulness. These are some of the best feel-good dance activities out there. Trust me, you will have a huge smile afterwards.

Tango

4. Tango

Ballroom dances such as tango may burn less calories than intense aerobic activities, but they’re also gentler on your body. It takes some practice to learn the steps, but showing off your tango prowess is kind of the point. Other options include foxtrot and waltzes.

5. Salsa or Merengue

Latin dance rhythms can help you burn TONS of calories. You only need to learn six simple steps and the rest is up to your mood! Salsa is a high-energy, fast-tempo dance that gets your feet moving. It’s excellent for cardio and moves your lower body and hips a lot.

Merengue has a slower tempo than salsa and is lower impact for people with tender joints, but it still gives you a great workout. Salsa and merengue exercise your legs, glutes, hips and abdomen. Add in some arm movements and you’ve got a great whole-body workout that keeps you pumped.

Dancer

All the Benefits of Dancing

One hour of dancing can help you burn 400 calories or more, which is what you get from riding a bicycle, jogging or swimming. That makes it great for weight loss. In addition, you get tons of other benefits:

  • Better flexibility
  • Stronger bones
  • Higher energy levels
  • Happier mood
  • Less stress
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Lower risk of memory problems

Want some extra fun? You can do most dances with a partner for excitement (or some romance). Burning calories as a team is a great idea. No matter what dance class you’re interested in, my advice is just try it! You won’t believe how awesome you feel and how many calories you sweat.

The Link Between Stress and Weight Gain

Weight gain

From headaches to fatigue to restlessness to irritability, stress manifests itself in many ways, so it should come as no surprise to you that prolonged periods of stress can result in weight gain. If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed with work or life in general, you may have noticed that your pants fit a bit tighter and that that once flattering top isn’t so flattering anymore. This may be despite the fact that you work hard to keep off the pounds via exercise and good eating habits. Why is that though? How can an emotional state cause weight gain? It turns out, there are several reasons for the connection.

Stress

Fight or Flight and Cortisol

Stress triggers the flight or fight response in your brain, which then triggers the release of adrenaline, cortisol and, as a result, glucose, into the bloodstream. The purpose of this reaction is to give your body the energy it needs to escape a risky situation. Once the risk subsides, the adrenaline wears off and your blood sugar levels drop. At this point, your cortisol works overtime to replenish your energy levels quickly.

2 Minute Ritual

The quickest way to replenish the body’s energy levels is by eating sugary foods. This is why junk food is often the first thing people reach for when they’re stressed out. The problem is, your body did not burn any energy during your moments of stress, meaning you’re consuming excess sugar to replace calories you did not actually burn.
To make matters worse, the body tends to store sugar, especially following stressful situations. Because the body thinks its replenishing used up energy, it will fight to hold onto the sugar for the next “threat” that comes along. If you experience multiple episodes of stress close together, or if you live in a prolonged state of stress, a vicious cycle begins: Get stressed, release cortisol, reach for comfort foods, gain weight and repeat.

Doughnuts

Finally, and as if it doesn’t do enough damage, stress slows your metabolism. The findings of one study revealed that women who experienced an episode of stress 24 hours prior to finishing a meal burned 104 less calories than women who reported no stress.

Breaking the Cycle of Stress and Weight Gain

Meditate

Hormonal changes aside, stress causes individuals to partake in unhealthy habits that lead to weight gain. Those include over-eating, eating unhealthy foods, foregoing exercise, skipping meals and sleeping less. In short, everything about stress works against you in the weight loss battle. If you want to get a hold on your weight, you need to develop ways to better manage your stress. Some of the best ways to do just that are as follows:

  • Meditate
  • Exercise
  • Read
  • Listen to Music
  • Hang out with people that make you happy
  • Laugh

During those times you cannot relieve yourself of the stress, be mindful of how you react. When you crave sugary foods, reach for a banana instead of a cookie. Make exercise a priority, even when you don’t feel like it, as exercise can help with both stress and weight loss. Drink plenty of water to keep hunger at bay, and maintain a food journal. Maintaining a food journal can help you be mindful of what you put into your mouth and identify areas of your diet that need improvement.

Woman reading

Stress is a normal part of life, but when it starts to show in your middle, it can quickly become a health problem in more ways than one. Develop techniques to better manage your stress and watch the pounds melt away with it.