We often remind our patients of the importance of exercise, both in aiding weight loss and in preventing disease. But more and more research also indicates that exercise is good for your mental and emotional health as well.

 

A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry shared some dramatic findings. Over the course of a decade, researchers tracked 22,000 study participants. Their exercise habits were recorded, and participants were divided into groups based upon those habits. Then, researchers looked for diagnoses of depression within each group.

 

As you might expect, the study demonstrated a positive link between exercise and mental health. But the strength of the correlation might surprise you: Those who did not exercise at all were 44 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression, than those who exercised at least one hour per week!

 

Exercise might even reduce or eliminate the need for anti-depressant medications in those who are eventually diagnosed with depression. One study tracked two groups of participants, one of which were prescribed an anti-depressant medication and another which only exercised. At the end of the study, both groups showed similar improvements, suggesting that exercise could offer the same benefits as medication.

 

Yet another study tracked a group of participants whose depression previously did not respond to serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These individuals reached “remission” of their depression symptoms after participating in a 12-week exercise program, suggesting that exercise might even be more effective than anti-depressants in some people!

 

These findings have been reflected in many other research studies, as well.

 

If you suffer from depression, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to get out of the house and exercise. Various strategies work for different people, such as making “dates” with a workout buddy, or promising yourself that you can quit after ten minutes if you don’t feel better (usually you will find that you can keep going). Experiment to find the strategy that keeps you going.

 

In the meantime, make an appointment with us if you’re concerned about weight loss or need nutritional advice. We can help you set goals for your health, and develop a plan for success.

 

 

Yes, you know that eating fewer calories and burning more through exercise is usually the key to weight loss… But all of your favorite foods are so heavy in calories! How can you cut back on your energy consumption, while still enjoying your cravings?

 

One method is to trick your taste buds, by substituting healthier alternatives for your favorite ingredients. Try some of the following tricks to reduce your overall caloric intake, while still enjoying a satisfying eating plan.

 

Ready for breakfast? One quarter-cup of granola will add 150 calories to your daily count, while ¼ cup of muesli only contains 110 calories. Little differences add up!

 

You love sour cream… Swap it for Greek yogurt. One quarter-cup of Greek yogurt contains 45 calories, as opposed to 125 calories in the same serving size of sour cream.

 

Speaking of condiments… Two tablespoons of mayonnaise will pack an additional 180 calories into your diet. Is the creamy goodness really worth it? Hummus lends a similar texture, and two tablespoons only contains 60 calories.

 

Need a half-cup of canola oil for baking? Swap ¼ cup of oil plus ¼ cup of applesauce. You’ll reduce the calories from 960 down to 505.

 

Speaking of baking… Swap one stick of butter for a half stick of butter, plus ¼ cup of mashed avocado. You’ll slash your calorie count from 810 to 505.

 

Hungry for pasta? Substitute one cup of zucchini noodles for one cup of regular pasta. You can reduce your calorie count from 220 all the way down to 25!

 

Want some sauce on that pasta? A half cup of jarred alfredo sauce packs a whopping 160 calories, but you can reduce that down to 35 calories by subbing cauliflower sauce (look online for a recipe).

 

It’s dessert time, and you’re craving ice cream… But a half-cup serving of chocolate ice cream contains 150 calories. You can satisfy that craving with chocolate banana “ice cream” (just blend frozen bananas and cocoa powder in your blender). The same serving size of this healthier option only contains 105 calories.

 

Of course, you still need to decide how many calories you should be eating each day. Come see us, and we’ll help you analyze your body type and health goals, and together we’ll make an eating plan for success.

 

So, you’ve decided to revamp your lifestyle, get healthier, and maybe even pursue medical weight loss with us. You already know that changing your habits is quite an undertaking… But where do you begin?

 

It might sound silly, but may we suggest your kitchen?

 

Many of our habits concerning food have to do with convenience and organization. You might be surprised out how renovating your kitchen can change your mindset and your “food mood”.

 

De-clutter the counter tops. Most of us tend to throw everything, from bills to car keys to library books, on the kitchen counters. All of those little items pile up, leading to an intense amount of clutter. Think of your counter tops as your sacred space for preparing healthy meals to nourish your body. A clean space will inspire you.

 

Throw out the junk. It’s harder to resist temptation when it’s staring you in the face all the time! Throw out unhealthy junk food, or at least move it to a spot where you won’t encounter it regularly.

 

Institute the “fruit bowl strategy”. Fill a large bowl with your favorite fruits, and display it prominently on the counter (or hang a fruit basket from the ceiling, if you prefer). Keeping healthy, delicious options out in plain sight will remind you to actually eat them!

 

Clean out your pantry. Toss the clutter, consolidate half-eaten containers of food, and organize items like pasta, rice, dry beans, and so on. Choose clear containers so you can easily identify the contents (and you’ll be much more likely to use them). Organize cans so that you can easily find what you need.

 

Let your fridge inspire you. After cleaning and organizing your fridge, utilize the front of it as a space for inspiration. Post a few quotes or pictures that motivate you, along with recipes you want to try or pictures of delicious, healthy meal ideas. Think of your fridge as your real-life Pinterest board.

 

Throughout this process, you will probably think of a few ideas on your own. Make the kitchen a soothing, happy place where you can create exciting new meals. Remember, what is mentally nourishing is also physically nourishing!

 

And of course, keep in touch with us as you renovate your diet plan. Make an appointment with us to discuss medical weight loss and other options to help you live your healthiest life.

 

 

Some of our clients want to lose weight for purely aesthetic reasons. However, most recognize that weight loss will help them live longer, healthier lives. We’re all more prone to certain health conditions as we grow older, but some of us definitely carry a higher risk than others. Considering that cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in this country, we should all take steps to improve our heart health, aside from losing weight.

 

Here are five ways to improve your heart health, but remember to schedule an appointment with us before starting an exercise routine or drastically altering your lifestyle.

 

Exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. Include moderate to vigorous aerobic activities such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, dancing, or even more difficult household chores like cutting the grass (with a push mower, obviously).

 

Manage your stress. Even “thin” people can develop heart problems, and maybe this is why: Studies have linked excess stress to increased blood pressure, and anyone can suffer chronic stress. This is why we remind our weight loss clients that overall health is about more than just weight, and your health is an ongoing endeavor. So manage your stress, with meditation, yoga, massages, counseling, or hobbies that relax you.

 

Eat more unsaturated fats. Omega-3 fats, like those found in fish, can lower blood pressure and decrease stroke risks. These nutrients also help to reduce inflammation in your body, which can lead to heart disease. Try salmon, mackeral, tuna, sardines, flaxseed oil, walnuts, and chia seeds to get more unsaturated fats in your diet.

 

Eat more fiber. Women should be consuming about 25 grams of fiber daily, and men should aim for about 38 grams. Fiber lowers your risk of heart disease by helping you lower your cholesterol and blood pressure.

 

Eat your veggies. Squeeze in more vegetables wherever you can; add spinach to your omelet, or tomato slices to your sandwich. Increase your serving size of veggies at dinner, and snack on raw vegetables during the day. Just one extra serving daily can make a difference.

 

And of course, visit us to discuss your dietary plan in more detail. We can help ensure that you’re eating the right balance of nutrients to aid in weight loss and prevent disease for years to come.

 

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