Health and Beauty en-US If You're Eating These 6 Things, Your "Diet" Is Doing Nothing <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/if-youre-eating-these-6-things-your-diet-is-doing-nothing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="smoothie bar" title="smoothie bar" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Dieting is hard. But guess what? <em>Bad</em> dieting can require the same amount of stress and effort, and no positive result. (See also: <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">14 Dumb Things Holding You Back From Losing Weight</a>)</p> <p>If you're trying to lose weight, it's hard to know what foods to avoid. Sometimes we fall into the traps set by food marketers, or fall prey to our own sweet tooths. We're especially susceptible to foods that superficially &quot;feel&quot; healthy, but are actually working against our regimens. If you're eating these six things, your diet is for nothing.</p> <h2>&quot;100-Calorie&quot; Snacks</h2> <p>We know that chips, crackers and cookies are bad, but even those 100-calorie snack packs are unhealthy. Part of the problem is how they train you to think about calories. The wrong idea that &quot;<a style="text-decoration:none;" href=";_type=blogs&amp;_r=0">a calorie is a calorie</a>&quot; fuels the marketing of the seemingly innocuous packs, which cause an insulin spike that works against you by storing more fat.</p> <p>What's more, research shows that consuming a package boasting low-calorie count actually <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">makes us eat more</a>. Thus, diet ruined.</p> <p><strong>Eat Instead</strong>: A small handful of unsalted nuts will give you the power to last between meals without the useless empty calories.</p> <h2>Meatless Frozen Foods</h2> <p>Veggie burgers, meatless chicken nuggets, and everything else marketed as healthy or eco-conscious alternatives to meat are still processed foods. Many frozen veggie foods are full of grains and <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">genetically modified soy</a>. Also, think of the carbs. Put a bun on that Boca Burger and now you have three times the carbohydrates!</p> <p>Many processed veggie patties also have upwards of <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">400 mg of sodium</a>, which can increase the risk of <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">high blood pressure</a>.</p> <p><strong>Eat Instead</strong>: Make your own veggie patties with as few ingredients as possible. Skew to tasty but nutritious foods like <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">beets and black beans</a>.</p> <h2>Flavored Yogurt</h2> <p>If you're eating yogurt that is not &quot;plain&quot; or &quot;unsweetened,&quot; you are hurting your diet with unnecessary sugar and calories. The average flavored yogurt contains around <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">16 grams of sugar</a>. Some yogurts have more sugar content <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">than a Twinkie</a>.</p> <p>Yogurts that read &quot;fat-free&quot; could be worse, because additives like cornstarch (known on labels as &quot;maltodextrin&quot;) provide extra carbohydrates.</p> <p><strong>Eat Instead</strong>: Buy plain yogurt and add fresh (not preserved or dried) fruit for flavor to get more nutrition, decrease sugar, and fight the fitness plateau.</p> <h2>White Flour</h2> <p>We've been lying to ourselves with our flour tortillas, wraps, flatbreads, and &quot;gluten-free&quot; pasta. It's all refined carbs, and sometimes those items are even more calorie and sugar dense than regular old Wonder bread.</p> <p>The author of the book <a style="text-decoration:none;" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1609614798&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=SHHO4HEWTSQSI5Y2">Wheat Belly</a>, Dr. William Davis, goes so far as to suggest that grains are the <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">root of problems</a> such as gut flora imbalance and diabetes. Other doctors suggest to keep some of your favorite white flour items to a minimum and mostly eat more satisfying <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">high-fiber carbs</a>.</p> <p><strong>Eat Instead</strong>: Choose high-fiber carbohydrates that will make you fuller, longer, such as a plate of vegetables. If you're jonesing for a sandwich, go for a half- or open-faced sandwich using a high-fiber, sprouted grain bread.</p> <h2>Smoothies</h2> <p>Delicious smoothies. They can be great for you. But the ones we're drinking the most, the ones we order while on the go from places like <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">Jamba Juice</a>, are basically just sugar delivery systems. Let's be honest, we usually don't use them as full meal replacements as intended, and here's why: You experience a sugar spike, crash, and then two hours later you're starving again.What do you do? Reach for whatever is closest to you regardless of health value (which, let's face it, is probably pizza). (See also: <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">You'll Be Surprised How Much Sugar These 10 Foods Have</a>)</p> <p><strong>Eat Instead</strong>: Make smoothies for yourself at home <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">without unhealthy ingredients</a> like sugary fruit juices, excess dairy, or added sweeteners.</p> <h2>Dried Fruit</h2> <p>Dried fruit can be mor accessible than fresh fruit. However, it's also a lot easier to overeat, because it's addictively sweet. Dehydrating fruit makes it taste sweeter and makes each unit smaller than its fresh equivalent. This places dried fruit high on the <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">glycemic index</a>. For example, a cup of grapes is 60 calories, while a cup of raisins is <em>460</em>.</p> <p>Dried fruit is also <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">harder to digest</a> than fresh fruit, making your attempt to eat healthy for nothing.</p> <p><strong>Eat Instead</strong>: Default to fresh fruit because it's easier to reap the benefits of its nutrients. If you do eat dried fruit, measure out a small amount (⅛ cup) before eating and mix it with a handful of nuts such as raw almonds.</p> <p><em>Can you think of anything else that's touted as healthy but is actually killing you diet?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="If You&#039;re Eating These 6 Things, Your &quot;Diet&quot; Is Doing Nothing" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Amanda Meadows</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink Health and Beauty diet fitness health food junk food Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:00:05 +0000 Amanda Meadows 1166924 at 5 Apps That Pay You To Exercise <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-apps-that-pay-you-to-exercise" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="exercise" title="exercise" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="161" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are lots of websites and apps out there that will help you track your eating and log your miles. However, these programs are typically the most useful for those individuals who have a great internal drive or commitment to healthy living. Or at very least, the motivation to remember to log in and stick to the plan. What about the rest of us who need a little (or a big) push? (Related: <a href="">8 Ways to Track Your Diet and Fitness for Free</a>)</p> <p>Well, there are several unique apps out there that provide just that. You can enjoy anything from monetary compensation for a job well done to support for your favorite cause as the fruit of all your efforts. So, if your current health app isn't doing it for you, be sure to check out this list for some fresh ideas that have the power to propel your routine into another dimension.</p> <h2>1. PACT</h2> <p>With <a href="">PACT</a>, users make weekly healthy living goals and track their progress all for cash stakes. Those users who eat well and exercise frequently reap cash rewards paid by those members who don't meet their goals. Yes &mdash; you can lose money, which is certainly motivating to a penny pincher like me.</p> <p>Sign on to make veggie pacts, gym pacts, food log pacts, and more. Rewards generally range between $0.30 to $5 per week.</p> <p><strong>Cost</strong>: Free with exception of how much money you commit to meeting your goals.</p> <h2>2. Healthy Wage</h2> <p>If you'd like to up the stakes, try <a href="">Healthy Wage</a>. Users simply log in, get a verified weigh-in, and then wager to win big cash prizes for pounds lost in the timeframe allotted. Payouts come in the form of Amazon credit or PayPal balance. Plus, you can engage in a solo journey or sign up as a team.</p> <p><strong>Cost</strong>: Free with the exception of what you wager monthly.</p> <h2>3. DietBet</h2> <p>The money pot grows as more players join up with <a href="">DietBet</a>. Over $6,761,605 has been paid out since the site's inception. That's some major cash! You can start a new game of your own or join an existing challenge to start. And the site claims that over 90% of DietBetters indeed lose weight through their extra incentive &mdash; some upwards of $1,000.</p> <p><strong>Cost</strong>: Free besides bets.</p> <h2>4. Nexercise</h2> <p>The folks at <a href="">Nexercise</a> believe that &quot;healthy living is a mindset that's 99% mental.&quot; I wholeheartedly agree. And what's better to entice the mind than positive reinforcement (a payout)?</p> <p>Users support one another and track activities to earn points by working out and eating well. Points can then be cashed in for credit at Amazon, CVS, and many other merchants.</p> <p><strong>Cost</strong>: Free.</p> <h2>5. Charity Miles</h2> <p>If you'd like to do some good with all your exercise, check out <a href="">Charity Miles</a>. Bikers earn 10 cents a mile and walkers and runners earn 25 cents a mile. Charities include Habitat for Humanity, Stand Up To Cancer, RED, Every Mother Counts, Pencils of Promise, Feeding America, Wounded Warrior Project, The Nature Conservancy, and more. Money is earned up to the group's initial $1,000,000 sponsorship pool.</p> <p><strong>Cost</strong>: Free.</p> <p><em>How do you stay motivated to keep up with your diet or fitness routine? Please share in comments.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Apps That Pay You To Exercise " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Health and Beauty Personal Development apps diets fitness fitness trackers motivation Mon, 14 Jul 2014 11:00:05 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1157260 at Best Money Tips: The Health and Beauty Edition <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-the-health-and-beauty-edition" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="makeup" title="makeup" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some of the best articles from around the web on keeping your health and beauty costs low!</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="">13 Healthy and Cheap Beauty Replacements</a> &mdash; Instead of purchasing blush, use just a small dab of lipstick to get some color on your cheeks. [Learnvest]</p> <p><a href="">Money, Stress, and Your Health</a> &mdash; Did you know that people who are stressed are four times as likely to get ulcers? [Get Rich Slowly]</p> <p><a href="">Save Time &amp; Money With These 7 Beauty Hacks</a> &mdash; If you break your powder cosmetics, you can use rubbing alcohol to put them back together! [CouponPal]</p> <p><a href="">How To Make Healthy Habits Stick&hellip; Tips From A Former Couch Potato</a> &mdash; To make healthy habits stick, discover what truly motivates you to change and create new habits. [Frugal Beautiful]</p> <p><a href="">11 Frugal Beauty Secrets Every Woman Must Know</a> &mdash; Shampooing less frequently and eating foods that clean your teeth are a couple frugal beauty secrets every woman must know. [US News &amp; World Report]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="">DIY Beauty Products You Can Make at Home</a> &mdash; Instead of purchasing deodorant, try using coconut oil instead. [SmartAsset Blog]</p> <p><a href="">In-Store Health Care Savings</a> &mdash; Did you know you can get tests for high cholesterol, hypertension, and more at pharmacy-based clinics? [Five Cent Nickel]</p> <p><a href="">Keep Parents Healthy and Safe</a> &mdash; To keep your aging parents health and safe, know about their insurance plan. [Three Thrifty Guys]</p> <p><a href="">Easy and Budget-Friendly Homemade Lotion</a> &mdash; There is no need for you to spend money on lotion with this awesome DIY! [POPSUGAR Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="">3 Steps to Setting Health and Nutritional Goals as a Parent</a> &mdash; When setting health and nutritional goals as a parent, make sure the goals are measurable. [Parenting Squad]</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: The Health and Beauty Edition" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Health and Beauty beauty best money tips Health Fri, 11 Jul 2014 19:00:03 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1149321 at 7 Ways to Eat More Slowly — and Lose More Weight <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-ways-to-eat-more-slowly-and-lose-more-weight" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="eating chopsticks" title="eating chopsticks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="151" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Several years ago, my father's best friend started bringing his own silverware to dinner at our house and requesting salad plates to eat off of. Despite the ribbing he endured from my father and their other friends, Arnold remained steadfast in the importance of his new habits.</p> <p>That's because he had discovered an important secret in being a healthy eater: small utensils. Several studies have shown that our <a href="">minds tend to misjudge the quantity of food</a> set in front of us based upon the size of the plate we're using. The same amount of food looks scanty on a large plate and overly generous on a small one.</p> <p>Arnold took this idea one further by also using tiny forks and spoons to eat with. Not only do his portions look bigger when eating them off of wee plates with itty-bitty silverware, but the smaller utensils also force him to slow down while he eats.</p> <p>Although it's unlikely we'll stop teasing Arnold about his tiny forks and plates, he has been vindicated by science. This habit has made him a more mindful and slower eater, which, as it turns out, is the cornerstone of better digestive health and a healthier weight.</p> <p>Here's what you need to know about being a slow eater, and how to implement techniques to slow yourself down when it tastes so good.</p> <h2>Why Eat Slow</h2> <p>One of the things I really appreciated about spending time in Europe was adapting to the European view of meals. As Americans, we tend to motor our way through our food, as if dining is an inconvenience that we just have to get through. In the old world, however, meals are an event and a pleasure, and it's considered both bad manners and foolish to try to rush through them.</p> <p>As it turns out, slow meals are one big reason why Europeans tend to be so much slimmer and healthier than we are.</p> <p>First, researchers have determined that it takes the brain 20 minutes to register that you feel full. That's the amount of time it takes for stretch receptors in your stomach to indicate they have expanded to capacity, as well as the amount of time the <a href="">hormone leptin takes to signal satiety</a>. If you have ever scarfed down five slices of pizza, only to feel ill 20 minutes later, then you know that eating quickly can overburden your stomach.</p> <p>Eating slowly means that you will feel full with less food. Based on this, slow eating has been touted as an aid to weight loss. In fact, researchers have found that diners consume as much as <a href="">88 fewer calories per meal</a> by eating slowly.</p> <p>In addition, eating slowly helps your digestion. As you probably remember from your fifth grade science class (or <a href="">Slim Goodbody</a> if you're a fellow child of the 80s, like me), digestion begins in your mouth. If you eat quickly, you are likely not chewing your food as thoroughly, giving your stomach a more difficult job, which can lead to indigestion and other issues.</p> <p>Finally, slow eating means that you really get a chance to savor your food. Instead of hurrying through the buttery and chocolatey delicacy of your Mom's famous cookies, eating slowly allows you to truly taste, smell, and feel each bite, making the experience ultimately more satisfying.</p> <h2>How to Slow Down While Eating</h2> <p>Okay, so eating slower will help you better enjoy and digest your food, and may decrease your waistline to boot. The only question is, how do you go about eating more slowly? Here are seven tactics that will help.</p> <h3>Use Smaller Silverware</h3> <p>Arnold's strategy is an excellent way to force yourself to slow down without thinking too hard about it. If each bite you take is smaller than usual, but you take the usual amount of time to chew and swallow, then you will necessarily slow down the pace of your eating.</p> <p>It is important to note, however, that researchers have found that diners who are (unwittingly) given larger forks eat less than those using smaller forks. However, the study only found this to be true when <a href="">diners were sitting down to a meal</a>. Those who are snacking with small forks eat less than those who are snacking with large forks. The thinking is that diners sitting down to a meal have a goal &mdash; satiety &mdash; and the large fork (and corresponding large bite) makes them feel as if they are making progress on that goal.</p> <p>However, since you are intentionally switching out your normal fork for a tiny one, you are more likely to allow yourself to anchor on the fork size as the appropriate bite size, while also eating more mindfully.</p> <h3>Time Your Meals</h3> <p>The next time you sit down to eat, start a stopwatch as you take your first bite. Chances are that you'll find you've eaten your final bite within five to seven minutes. That's far too fast, particularly if you're very hungry, since the fifteen-minute wait between the final bite and the signal that you're full will be interminable. (Which is why you'll go for seconds and then feel ill later.)</p> <p>Once you know how long you usually take to eat, plan on stretching out your meals with the help of a timer. Set it for 20 minutes and try to &quot;beat&quot; the clock by still having a little food on your plate by the time it goes off. If you know you're trying to be slower than your timer, you're more likely to pause between bites and take your time to enjoy the flavor of your food. This strategy has an added benefit if you are trying to encourage your entire family to eat more slowly &mdash; it can be a fun game to see who can eat the slowest.</p> <h3>Lower the Lights and Play Soft Music</h3> <p>If you've ever wondered why the atmosphere in chain restaurants is so different from that of fine-dining establishments, it comes down to speed. Applebee's and Ruby Tuesday are in the business of getting you fed and out the door quickly, while your favorite French restaurant intends for your meal to take some time.</p> <p>Because of this, the chains play loud, fast-paced tunes and turn up the lights, while <em>Chez Pain Sage</em> gives you candlelight and soothing classical music. As it turns out, in addition turning tables over more quickly, the bright-and-loud atmosphere also <a href="">causes diners to eat more quickly</a> and consume more calories.</p> <p>That means you can help slow down your own consumption at home by breaking out the candles and queuing up the Miles Davis. (Or the Barry White, depending on who you're eating with.)</p> <h3>Take a Sip of Water Between Each Bite</h3> <p>&quot;Washing down&quot; every bite you eat is a good way to make sure that you slow down, but it also helps you to feel fuller sooner and aids in digestion &mdash; you need as much as <a href="">12 cups of water to properly digest your food</a> and absorb its nutrients. It is also a trick that you can use anywhere &mdash; from restaurants to parties to snacking on the couch &mdash; which makes it an excellent habit to get into.</p> <h3>Count Your Chews</h3> <p>Your mother may have told you to chew your food at least 20 times before swallowing, but there is surprisingly little consensus on exactly how many chews is ideal. However, a recent study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants <a href="">who chewed almonds at least 25 times</a> absorbed more unsaturated fat (that's the good kind) than those who only gave the food ten good chews.</p> <p>Journalist A.J. Jacobs (who attempted to chew every bite 50 times for a week) found <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">many benefits to counting his chews</a>, in addition to eating more slowly. He appreciated the subtle tastes of his food much more; he avoided bloat after a Thanksgiving meal; and he found he was a better listener at the dinner table.</p> <h3>Use Chopsticks for Everything</h3> <p>Even if you are a champion chopstick-user, it's likely that you will eat more slowly with these utensils than with a fork or spoon. You can also try eating with chopsticks with your non-dominant hand to slow yourself down even more. An added benefit of using chopsticks is that they don't scoop up calorie-dense sauces as easily as forks and spoons do.</p> <h3>Snack on Food That Needs to Be Peeled</h3> <p>Snack time is an easy time to go overboard. Since we generally don't eat snacks at a table, we're more likely to mindlessly munch our way through a bag of chips or handful of cookies without even noticing what we've eaten.</p> <p>An excellent way to combat this trend is to only snack on foods that require some work on your part to eat them: oranges, bananas, pistachios, and edamame are all delicious snacks that will force you to eat slowly and mindfully.</p> <h2>Leaner Waist and Better Taste</h2> <p>Not only can eating slowly help you achieve your weight loss goals, but you'll also enjoy your food more by taking the time to savor it. That's a win-win.</p> <p>You may have to put up with some teasing, however, if you start bringing your own tiny fork to dinner parties.</p> <p><em>Are you a slow eater? How do you slow down at the table? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="7 Ways to Eat More Slowly — and Lose More Weight" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Emily Guy Birken</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Health and Beauty Lifestyle diet metabolism slow eating slow food weight loss Fri, 11 Jul 2014 17:00:03 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1156617 at 5 Ways to Turn Your Walk Into a Real Workout <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-to-turn-your-walk-into-a-real-workout" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="power walking" title="power walking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="143" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Summer is the season for getting fit and strong, for strolling and striding outdoors. Did you know you could be getting more from your morning walk? It's true! And it's as simple as upping the intensity or heading to a new location. Before you lace up for your next loop around town, be sure to check out these tips and tricks. (See also: <a href="">25 Reasons You Should Take a Walk</a>)</p> <h2>1. Add Intervals</h2> <p>Instead of heading out on a steady jaunt around the neighborhood, try mixing up your walk by warming up for 10 minutes, alternating fast walking with recovery spells, and finishing up with a cool down. You can use any ratio that works for you, for example 1 minute of fast walking with 1 minute of recovery, but the longer the quick portions are, the stronger you'll become overall. You'll even <a href="">boost your metabolism</a> this way, meaning you'll burn more calories in less time and keep the burn going after you finish your workout.</p> <h2>2. Climb Hills</h2> <p>This same concept applies when it comes to inclines as well. Walking uphill requires much more energy than staying on even ground. And adding this challenge to your routine has its own set of benefits. For instance, with each increase of 5% incline, you'll burn an extra <a href="">3 to 5 calories</a> per minute. You'll also work different muscle groups, giving your legs a more toned look and increased endurance to boot.</p> <h2>3. Try Jogging</h2> <p>Consider jogging your ultimate interval option when it comes to walking. In fact, there is a growing group of exercisers who engage in a <a href="">walk/run approach</a> to exercise and racing on the daily. Versus standard running, mixing the two is easier on the body yet increases your cardiovascular output. If your goal is to eventually run a 5K race, walk/jogging can get you over the finish line faster (and with less chance of injury) than, say, going cold turkey into running territory.</p> <h2>4. Vary Terrain</h2> <p>If you're sick of standard sidewalks, take your walk to a new location. Not only will you get the change of scenery, but you'll also increase your calorie burn. Trekking on dry sand, loose gravel, dirt trails, and other surfaces has the power burn up to <a href="">30% more calories</a> than on solid ground. Of course, be sure to slather on the sunscreen and bring the bug repellent, as there's no shade on the beach and hiking can invite a brigade of bugs to the party. (See also: <a href="">Homemade Sunblock and 6 Other Non-Toxic Recipes to Get Your Skin Sun-Ready</a>)</p> <h2>5. Stop and Drop</h2> <p>Punctuate your walk with body-weight training exercises for a total body workout. For example, walk for 10 minutes, then drop and do 25 pushups or sit-ups. Resume your walk for another spell and then do 50 jumping jacks. Continue on your way and then stop to complete a set of squats. Anything from tricep dips at the playground to lunges beside a park bench should do the trick. Try to do this type of varied routine once a week to see some toned results. (See also: <a href="">These At-Home Exercises Will Give You a Gym-Quality Workout for Free</a>)</p> <p><em>How do you supercharge your walk? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Ways to Turn Your Walk Into a Real Workout" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Health and Beauty Lifestyle circuit training fitness jogging walking weight loss Tue, 08 Jul 2014 17:00:04 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1153956 at 7 Tips for Getting the Best Morning Workout <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-tips-for-getting-the-best-morning-workout" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="morning jogging" title="morning jogging" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The sun is rising earlier these days, which means you can exercise earlier than usual, before your normal workday begins. Plus, who wants to go for a walk or jog outdoors when the temperatures regularly hit peaks in the 90s and humidity levels are sky high? Not me. There are also many advantages to switching routines to the AM hours, foremost of which is eliminating the excuse factor for skipping workouts. If you get it out of the way for the day, you'll likely stick with the routine. (Related: <a href="">These At-Home Exercises Will Give You a Gym-Quality Workout for Free</a>)</p> <p>As a long-time runner who prefers moving in the evening hours, I do find the switch quite jarring at first. So, the following are tips for how to get the most of your morning workout, from waking consistently to getting your body moving with less coaxing.</p> <h2>1. Banish the Blackouts</h2> <p>Since I'd rather sleep as long as possible in a darker than dark cave, I've taken a cue from nature to help myself rise and shine. I allow my room to flood with light, and when I start to stir, usually around 6 a.m., I can't fall back to sleep. Always set a standard alarm as a backup for those unexpected cloudy days.</p> <h2>2. Set the Stage</h2> <p>I set out my clothing and shoes the night before so they are ready and waiting without requiring me to use many brain cells. Since I'm not keen on waking early, anything to make the process more automatic is key.</p> <h2>3. Eat Something</h2> <p>I used to lace up and head right out the door at this point. Over time, though, I realized that I had zero energy mid-way through my 6-mile loop. The culprit? No fuel. Eating a small morning snack (think toast with peanut butter or a banana and crackers) before exercising will help keep blood sugar levels going and allow you to dig deeper. And don't forget a glass of water! (Related: <a href="">15 Grab-and-Go Post-Workout Breakfasts</a>)</p> <h2>4. Ease Expectations</h2> <p>If you're new to the early morning routine, go easy on yourself at first. Maybe you can smash a killer interval workout in the afternoon and evening hours, but the morning leaves your legs feeling limp. Start your new program by doing simple moves &mdash; and even spending dedicated time warming up &mdash; to transition into the harder stuff over time. Don't worry, going from zero to 100 is hard for everyone.</p> <h2>5. Call a Buddy</h2> <p>One of the surest ways to get out the door and enjoy a more fruitful workout is to involve someone else in your routine. The company not only makes you more accountable, but it also means friendly chatter that will help make the time go faster &mdash; I promise. If you can't think of anyone else who'd want to subject themselves to exercise so early, consider signing up for an exercise class at your gym. (Related: <a href="">The Cheapest Way to Get Fit and Strong in 30 Days or Less</a>)</p> <h2>6. Try Something New</h2> <p>If you're diehard into one sport specifically, maybe you're finding that the activity doesn't jive with your morning self. You can always try something new, from biking to swimming to walking and beyond, to mix it up and get a better overall workout. Cross-training is also a great way to strengthen muscles you haven't used in years. (Related: <a href="">22 Fun and Free Summer Exercise Ideas</a>)</p> <h2>7. Incentivize</h2> <p>Some of us need an extra push to get into consistent healthy habits, and that's OK. So do those extra 20 pushups, finish that additional mile, or burst past that pace plateau. The good news is that you can <a href="">reward yourself for free</a> for all your hard work.</p> <p><em>How do you get the most out of your morning workouts? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title=" 7 Tips for Getting the Best Morning Workout" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Health and Beauty Lifestyle exercise morning workout running workouts Mon, 07 Jul 2014 15:00:04 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1153234 at Don't Let Poor Health Kill Your Retirement Fund <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-let-poor-health-kill-your-retirement-fund" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="retirement health" title="retirement health" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="151" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Poor health can destroy your finances in retirement if you fail to build both a healthy retirement fund and a healthy retirement body.</p> <p>Research shows that physical and financial health are closely linked. In a 2002 University of Michigan study, <a href="">married couples with excellent health averaged $500,000</a> in net worth, about three times that of married couples with poor health who had an average of $164,000. (See also: <a href="">10 Easy Ways to Supercharge Your Retirement</a>)</p> <p>When it comes to costs, many Americans may underestimate how much money they'll spend on health care in their golden years. Over half of the respondents to a Fidelity Investments Retirement Savings Assessment survey say they'll need about $50,000. But Fidelity predicts an average couple will <a href="">need more than $220,000</a> over the course of their retirement &mdash; just for health care!</p> <p>Indeed, retirees now spend more on health care than they do on food, and at the present rate, health care will be retirees' largest expense after housing.</p> <p>So to help you prepare, start thinking hard about the following steps.</p> <h2>Building a Healthy Retirement Budget</h2> <p>Investment broker Fidelity recommends <a href="">taking these four steps</a> to prepare for health care costs in retirement.</p> <h3>1. Set a Savings Goal</h3> <p>Set an annual savings goal of 10% to 15% or more of your income, including 401(k) plans and IRAs. Consider saving part of any raises, bonuses, or tax refunds and increasing contributions to savings plans by 1% every year.</p> <h3>2. Go on Auto-Pilot</h3> <p>Sign up for automatic savings plans with your financial services company. Use the automatic increase feature in your 401(k) plan if it's offered.</p> <h3>3. Use Health Care Savings Accounts</h3> <p>HSAs, offered through employers, offer a triple tax advantage. Contributions and investment earnings accumulate tax-free and roll over year to year if not spent. Distributions for qualified medical expenses are not subject to federal taxes. (See also: <a href="">How to Choose a Health Insurance Plan</a>)</p> <h3>4. Understand Medicare Options</h3> <p>Most people qualify for Medicare hospital insurance, or Part A, at age 65 and don't pay for the coverage if they paid Medicare taxes while working, according to Fidelity.</p> <p>However, you pay monthly premiums for Medicare medical insurance, or Part B, which covers doctor visits and other medical services. Plus, there's no limit on out-of-pocket expenses.</p> <h3>4. Understand Unbundled Vs. Bundled Coverage</h3> <p>Unbundled coverage involves using Medicare Part A and Part B along with Veterans benefits, former employer retiree plans or purchasing supplemental, or Medigap, insurance from a private insurance company. That route may be best if you want to fill in gaps in coverage and keep the original Medicare coverage. You can use any doctor or facility you like but may pay higher premium. The policies don't include prescription coverage so you'll need to buy Medicare Part D to cover prescription drugs.</p> <p>Bundled coverage is Medicare Advantage or Managed Care plans, privately managed plans that combine Medicare Parts A and B, and supplemental coverage you purchase. They often include prescription coverage and can offer lower premiums or better benefits. Simpler than unbundled coverage, it requires just one ID card.</p> <p>The disadvantage is that it can limit you to only network providers.</p> <p>Medicare's website offers a <a href="">useful tool</a> for comparing supplemental insurance in your state.</p> <h2>Building a Healthy Retirement Body</h2> <p>Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and being informed during your working years is key to your financial fitness in retirement. Here's ten actions to take now to improve your health in the future (some pulled from health care insurer Aetna's excellent website, <a href="">Plan For Your Health</a>):</p> <h3>1. Know Your Cholesterol</h3> <p>Cholesterol has a big impact on heart health. Healthy cholesterol levels are 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or <a href="">lower for total cholesterol</a>, 100 mg/dL or lower for LDL cholesterol, and 60 mg/dL or higher for HDL (or &quot;good&quot;) cholesterol, and 150 mg/dL or lower for triglycerides (fat).</p> <h3>2. Don't Smoke</h3> <p>Smoking raises blood pressure, increases fatty plaque in arteries, and increases chances for heart attacks.</p> <h3>3. Check Your Blood Sugar</h3> <p>Have your blood sugar level tested once a year. High blood sugar levels indicate higher chances of diabetes, which in turn means higher odds for other health problems.</p> <h3>4. Eat Right</h3> <p>Eat high-fiber foods, fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Apples can decrease the risk of cancer, according to <a href="">AARP</a>. A handful of nuts a day may help prevent both heart disease and cancer. Beans and lentils are good for your colon, garlic fights off digestive-tract cancers, and curry has ingredients that may offer protection against brain tumors. (See also: <a href="">Eating at the Intersection of Cheap and Healthy</a>)</p> <h3>5. Exercise Daily</h3> <p>Daily exercise reduces the ill-effects of aging, such as worsening eyesight and less bone density. Even 10 minutes of exercise a day helps, writes James Rouse, a naturopathic physician and host of &quot;<a href="">Optimum Wellness</a>.&quot; The many simple exercise options, he says, include going for walking, dancing, bicycling, playing water volleyball, or jumping on a trampoline.</p> <h3>6. Be Friendly</h3> <p>Stress builds up if you keep your feelings bottled inside. Talk to your friends and family and ask for support. If you don't have a good support system, work to develop one to have someone to talk to when you're upset.</p> <h3>7. Relieve Pressure</h3> <p>To prevent or manage high blood pressure, use less salt, limit alcohol and caffeine, quit smoking, mind your cholesterol, and exercise daily. Besides making you unhappy, too much stress can increase your heart rate and raise your blood pressure. Try meditation, deep breathing, muscle relaxation, listening to relaxing music, or picturing pleasant scenes.</p> <h3>8. Take Health Tests</h3> <p>Women should have a Pap smear annually until age 65, a mammogram annually starting at age 50, a bone density test to guard against bone thinning, <a href="">advises Dr. Mehmet Oz</a>, host of &quot;The Dr. Oz Show.&quot;</p> <p>Men should have a prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, test at age 50 for a baseline reading, followed by yearly testing. Both men and women should have a colonoscopy at age 50, then once every 10 years.</p> <h3>9. Watch Your Weight</h3> <p>Over 60% of American adults are overweight and a third are obese. An average woman of 5 feet 4 inches is obese at 175 pounds. An average man of 5 feet 9 inches is obese at 196 pounds, says Dr. Oz. Measure your waist above your hip bone and below your rib cage. It should be less than half your height.</p> <h3>10. Beware the Sun</h3> <p>Use sunscreen and reapply it every two hours when you're in the sun, Dr. Oz advises. Men should remember their ears and scalp where they're more prone to skin cancer than women. Wear sunglasses in bright sun to help ward of failing eyesight in latter years.</p> <p><em>How are you planning for health care costs in retirement? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Don&#039;t Let Poor Health Kill Your Retirement Fund" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Michael Kling</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Health and Beauty Retirement aging fitness Health investing retirement retirement fund Fri, 04 Jul 2014 13:00:04 +0000 Michael Kling 1153231 at 10 Simple All Natural Bug and Mosquito Repellents <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-simple-all-natural-bug-and-mosquito-repellents" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Citronella Candles" title="Citronella Candles" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="148" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Bugs. Can't live with them, but can't live without them. Despite all the good flies, mosquitoes, bees, and other insects do for our ecosystem, they can sure seem like pests during that backyard BBQ or annual camping extravaganza. With a little foresight, common sense, and maybe a few essential oils, however, you can battle with these creatures and win. Better yet? You can do it all without using harsh chemicals or other ingredients that are hazardous to your health. Here are 10 ways to keep the bugs away. (See also: <a href="">Homemade Sunblock and 6 Other Recipes to Get Your Skin Ready for Summer</a>)</p> <h2>1. Loose Cover</h2> <p>When I hang outdoors for long periods of time or go camping, I try to wear a lightweight layer, usually loose cotton or linen, that covers my extremities as much as possible. It's not a perfect method because bugs can squirm their way in wherever there's an opening, but it can dramatically reduce the number of bites and stings I experience. Tucking in shirts and wearing shoes instead of sandals is the next stage of defense.</p> <h2>2. DIY Bug Repellent</h2> <p>With a base of purified water or witch hazel, this <a href="">DIY bug repellent</a> comes together quickly and easily. You can use any combination of essential oils that appeal to your senses (or that you happen to have around the house), but the most effective and long-lasting combo is lemon and eucalyptus. (See also: <a href=""> 15 Wonderful Uses for Witch Hazel</a>)</p> <h2>3. Natural Wasp and Bee Repellent</h2> <p>My friends and family know I am terrified of anything that stings. So, when I hear a buzz, I go running. I'd love to make some of this<a href="">natural repellent</a> &mdash; just equal parts peppermint essential oil and water. Peppermint is one of my favorite scents and is also cooling, which is an added benefit for the steamy summer weather.</p> <h2>4. Bug-Off Bars</h2> <p>For more portable bug protection, try these <a href="">moisturizing lotion bars</a> made with Purification and Thieves oil blends whipped into a coconut oil, beeswax, and cocoa butter mixture. Also? They make great gifts &mdash; you can pour them into fun molds for extra flair.</p> <h2>5. Citronella Candles</h2> <p>If you're having company over, why not protect them all with these beautiful <a href="">floating candles</a>? They contain citronella oil, sliced citrus fruits, and sprigs of mint and evergreen. Yet another genius use of the ubiquitous Ball jar.</p> <h2>6. Mosquito Plants</h2> <p>I'd never heard of <a href="">Mosquito Plants</a> until I saw them pop up at our local garden center. The concept makes total sense to me, though. Though the plant itself doesn't repel insects &mdash; the citronella fragrance in the leaves works when crushed and rubbed on the skin. If you plant one of these, it's always in your garden and ready to use.</p> <h2>7. Fan Away</h2> <p>A trick my family has used for years involves nothing more than a standard <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00002ND67&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=DBOKCMLWSSUYAXA4">box fan</a>. Simply plug one in by your party (use an outdoor extension cord if you must) and make sure to weigh down any light objects that might otherwise fly away.</p> <h2>8. Netting</h2> <p>One of the surest ways to keep insects of all sorts away is by physically screening them out. If you don't have the space or funds to enclose a patio or porch, consider purchasing an inexpensive <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00AE8CHS6&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=UUQWQDVOQRAOHK4N">screened gazebo</a> or <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0035LZSIK&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=CXC6AL7C6Q5EJKNP">umbrella net</a>.</p> <h2>9. Color Game</h2> <p>Wasps and bees are attracted to the colors <a href="">yellow and white</a>. Conversely, they cannot see the color red. So, a great way to stay relatively invisible when you're working or playing outdoors is to choose your wardrobe wisely. And the same goes with any overly smelly perfume &mdash; they'll be attracted to it.</p> <h2>10. Avoid a Squashing Spree</h2> <p>It can surely be tempting to swat or squash a pest &mdash; especially bees, wasps, etc. &mdash; but doing so can cause more harm to you than good. Crushed bees emit a pheromone that <a href=";page=2">attracts more of their buddies</a> to come running toward the scene. Swatting makes the situation worse. If you find yourself in a swarm, run for the nearest indoor area and try to cover your head and face with a shirt for protection from stings.</p> <p><em>How do you keep bugs at bay &mdash; naturally? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Simple All Natural Bug and Mosquito Repellents" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Health and Beauty bug repellent bug spray bugs natural bug spray Mon, 30 Jun 2014 17:00:04 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1150190 at 8 Easy Beauty Tricks to Hide Your Flaws (Not That You Have Any!) <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-easy-beauty-tricks-to-hide-your-flaws-not-that-you-have-any" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="makeup" title="makeup" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="150" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Many of us have parts of our bodies that we absolutely love. Alternatively, many of us have features we'd like to change or at least temporarily modify using makeup or other methods. I'm an advocate for embracing your uniqueness in all its forms; however, even I look for new ways to cover pimples or banish my dark circles.</p> <p>Here are some quick, clever ways to hide your flaws using a few beauty tricks. (Related: <a href="">24 Places to Buy Inexpensive Natural Beauty Products</a>)</p> <h2>Contour</h2> <p>You don't need expensive, invasive plastic surgery to look your best (or at all, ever). If there are areas of your face that you would like to highlight or, in turn, recede into the shadows &mdash; learn some <a href="">basic contouring techniques</a>. For example, you can detract from a large nose or sharpen cheekbones with some well applied bronzer or darker foundation. Conversely, you can call attention to specific areas using powder and even a light-colored concealer. Beware, though, a little goes a long way and blending the two is key. You want to enhance your features, not &quot;paint on an entirely new face.&quot;</p> <h2>Conceal</h2> <p>Most of us have imperfections in our skin like dark spots and those dreaded adult breakouts, which I &mdash; myself &mdash; get all the time. Start with clean hands, as dirt and grime will only irritate zits more. After applying foundation, use a concealer <a href="">with cool undertones</a> to counteract the redness and, if you have one, blend with a brush for a flawless finish.</p> <h2>Lighten Up</h2> <p>For dark under eye circles, use a <a href="">creamy, light concealer</a> that won't invite cracks to appear &mdash; you can even use your standard foundation in a pinch. And you only need to apply the product to the <a href="">actual dark crescent</a>, not the entire under eye area. Finish your face with a translucent powder to set.</p> <h2>Draw In</h2> <p>Have sparse or nearly invisible eyebrows? I sure do. I don't go anywhere without <a href="">drawing in a bolder brow</a> with a pencil and even shadow. I simply use a pencil or even shadow and follow my natural brow shape. A little clear mascara will keep unruly hair in line. It's an easy, dramatic way to draw attention to your eyes and give your face more structure. (Related: <a href="">14 Beauty Products You're Using That Actually Do Nothing</a>)</p> <h2>Plump Up</h2> <p>If you'd like to enhance thin lips, it's an easy fix. First, brush lips with a toothbrush to exfoliate dead skin and create blood flow. Use a colored lip balm as a base to moisturize. Then, employ <a href="">a few makeup tricks</a> &mdash; including using foundation to highlight around lips, lightly penciling them in, and finishing with a gloss for shine &mdash; to get the pout you're after.</p> <h2>Brush Over</h2> <p>I've seen those over-the-counter serums that promise thick, luxurious eyelashes. I'm skeptical, especially since I've read many can darken your overall eyelid area. To temporarily pump up the volume of your lash line, start by choosing the right formula (or two) and shade of mascara. Invest a few dollars in a curler and some eyeliner. And then just curl, line your upper lid with eyeliner, and apply <a href="">several layers of mascara</a> for a full finish.</p> <h2>Fake Bake</h2> <p>For any body imperfections, ranging from chest/back breakouts to cellulite, a summer glow will go a long way. Of course, to keep your skin happy for ages to come, you'll want to apply tanning solution versus sit out for long hours risking sun damage. This <a href=",14249">guide to at-home tanning</a> should help streamline your process. You'll want to start with smooth, exfoliated skin for the best results. Beyond that, it's best to focus on big areas &mdash; like legs and arms &mdash; and then cut your product in half with regular lotion to avoid dark ankle and wrist streaks. Be sure to apply a moisturizer daily to keep your glow stronger, longer.</p> <h2>Hide in Plain Sight</h2> <p>If you color your hair, you know the dreaded re-growth roots, including grey hairs, come in only a couple weeks after a session. You can hide them temporarily and go longer between colorings by using dry shampoo, parting your hair in interesting ways, and <a href=";slide=2">creating more volume</a> overall.</p> <p><em>How do you hide your flaws? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="8 Easy Beauty Tricks to Hide Your Flaws (Not That You Have Any!)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Health and Beauty beauty tricks flaws makeup Wed, 25 Jun 2014 15:00:03 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1146610 at Is Your Doctor Helping or Hurting? This Is How to Find Out <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/is-your-doctor-helping-or-hurting-this-is-how-to-find-out" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="doctor with patient" title="doctor with patient" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="152" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Recently, I made the difficult decision to leave my primary care physician of nearly 20 years.</p> <p>Finding a replacement seemed daunting. But some digital sleuthing and real-life conversations helped me with this process. At our first meeting, my newly vetted physician quickly resolved nagging problems, showing me that mutual understanding can happen even in young relationships. If you are ready for a change or have been forced by circumstances to find a new physician, here are ways to vet your doctor:</p> <h2>Physician Review Sites</h2> <p>Physician review sites offer a way for patients to rate services and provide commentary on their experiences. Reviews are often based on a layperson's opinion rather than quality of care. However, you can often detect physicians' patterns of behavior that affect diagnosis and effectiveness of treatment by perusing these sites.</p> <h3>1. Vitals</h3> <p>Locate potential physicians through searches by specialty or conditions treated, location, and insurance plans at <a href="">Vitals</a>. Find out the medical school she attended and the hospital affiliations she has, along with the ratings of those schools and hospitals.</p> <p>Learn about professional certifications as well as awards; note that certain recognitions, such as the Patient's Choice Award, may indicate a physician's popularity rather than competence. In addition, find patient evaluations created by Vitals' users and pulled from third-party sites.</p> <p>Vitals is particularly comprehensive. For example, you can read about a physician's research and publications in the credentials area. (In my case, I even noticed that one of the physicians I was vetting had done research in a field that my past physician had told me was too new for him.)</p> <h3>2. Angie's List</h3> <p>There are more than reviews of home-improvement professionals at <a href="">Angie's List</a>. Get detailed ratings and commentaries about health care providers through this paid subscription site. Physicians are rated on overall service as well as availability, office environment, punctuality, staff friendliness, bedside manner, communication, effectiveness of treatment, and billing administration.</p> <p>When the regimen that my former physician recommended didn't address my son's foot problem, I consulted member reviews at Angie's List to find a podiatrist. One practice was repeatedly recommended. Both my son and I were pleased with the physician I found, and the treatment was effective.</p> <h3>3. RateMDs</h3> <p>Glance at the top 10 doctors among various specialties in your area at <a href="">RateMDs</a>. You can also search by specialty and location as well as browse doctors in all specialties within your state.</p> <p>There are patient ratings of staff, punctuality, helpfulness, and knowledge, along with more detailed reviews.</p> <p>A few features are unique:</p> <ul> <li> <p>&quot;Birds of a feather&quot; draws on the Medicare database to connect physicians based on their referrals, so if you like (or dislike) a physician, then you can choose (or rule out) her cross-referring colleagues;</p> </li> <li> <p>Convenient links to the practicing physician's state medical board, where you can check for disciplinary actions; and</p> </li> <li> <p>Streaming tweets linking to news reports on physicians' transgressions.</p> </li> </ul> <h3>4. Healthgrades</h3> <p>Search for physicians by specialty, medical conditions treated, or procedure required and location at <a href="">Healthgrades</a>. When you've pinned down the ones you want to investigate, view insurances accepted, board certifications, education and training, background checks, and patient ratings.</p> <p>Background checks consist of malpractice judgments, sanctions, and board actions; note that malpractice information is publicly available in 14 states only. Patient-satisfaction evaluations involve ratings of the office and staff, experiences with the provider, and the likelihood that patients will recommend the physician to family and friends. These ratings are compared to national averages.</p> <h3>5.</h3> <p>Get basic information on a physician (such as education and years of experience) along with ratings on clinical exams, timeliness, treatment, and staff at <a href=""></a>. This site also provides patient satisfaction reporting services to physicians; these surveys support medical-practice compliance with Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) quality programs.</p> <h2>Crowdsourcing</h2> <p>Those in your social circles and industry experts may be able to give you information about physicians that meet your specific criteria.</p> <h3>6. Friends ( Medicine, If Possible)</h3> <p>When I started the process of locating a physician, I got recommendations from a friend who worked for a large medical group in my area. He provided me with a list of several candidates, both male and female. Because this person works in a professional position (and was not a senior executive who physicians may be more likely to try to impress), I believe he had a realistic view of various physicians' genuine character and communication style, which were key concerns for me.</p> <h3>7. Facebook</h3> <p>Crowdsource your new physician on Facebook by asking your friends for recommendations. You can also check out medical groups and physician practices with Facebook pages; look at patient ratings and see how responsive administrators are to patient concerns.</p> <h3>8. Castle Connolly &mdash; Top Doctors</h3> <p>Locate top doctors as selected by physicians at the <a href="">Castle Connolly &mdash; Top Doctors website</a>. Some information is available to casual users. But you must join as a premium member to get full access to search capabilities and results. Note that physicians may list their selection as a top doctor in their profiles on physician review sites.</p> <h2>Physician Directories</h2> <p>If you don't have friends in the know about doctors or if you want to vet only those physicians in your insurance network, use a physician directory (and call to confirm the information is current). Directories may also have patient reviews of physicians.</p> <h3>9. Insurance Company Websites</h3> <p>Find a physician in your insurance network by visiting the website of your insurance company, such as <a href="">Aetna</a> or <a href="">United Health</a>. Learn more about a prospective physician's board certifications; electronic capabilities, such as e-prescribing and email communications; and special training and recognition, such as designations for diabetes management or stroke care.</p> <p>Check out quality-performance data indicating compliance with medical standards. For example, <a href="">Blue Cross Blue Shield</a> lets you see how many patients of each physician received recommended tests in key areas, such as blood sugar testing or colorectal cancer screening. This information is provided in terms of patient numbers and percentages, and comparisons to area averages. Patient reviews of physicians are also available.</p> <h3>10. ZocDoc</h3> <p>Find a physician, read patient reviews, and book an appointment online at <a href="">ZocDoc</a>. You can also verify whether a provider is within your insurance network. Register with the site for free access to booking services.</p> <p>There are limited listings here, although there are indications that more are to be added in various categories. For example, a search for primary care doctors returned just a handful of hopefuls in an area that has hundreds of practicing physicians. Categories &quot;coming soon&quot; include dermatologists, midwives, and orthopedic surgeons.</p> <h3>11. WebMD</h3> <p>Get basic information about physicians from <a href="">WebMD's directory of doctors</a>. Look at practice specialties, years of experience, hospital affiliations, locations, and insurances accepted.</p> <h2>Professional Resources</h2> <p>Before setting up an appointment with a new physician, check out credentials from industry resources.</p> <h3>12. State Medical Boards</h3> <p>Learn about your physician by verifying credentials at your state's medical board, which you can find on the <a href="">American Medical Association website</a>. Check for board actions such as practice surrenders, suspensions, and revocations.</p> <h3>13. American Board of Medical Specialties</h3> <p>Verify that your physician is board certified in the specialty in which she practices at the American Board of Medical Specialties <a href="">Certification Matters</a> website. You'll have to register before you can check for certification, but the site is free to use.</p> <h2>General Review Sites</h2> <p>After you've developed a short list of candidates, do a general search on each potential physician. You will likely land on general review sites that may reveal more insights.</p> <h3>14. Google+ Local Reviews</h3> <p>Medical practices and physicians are occasionally reviewed on <a href="">Google+</a>. These may appear in local pages on Google+, Google search results, and Google Maps. Reviews here don't follow a standard format; reviewers simply speak their minds on issues that are important to them.</p> <h3>15. Yelp</h3> <p>Just as patrons review restaurants, patients review their physicians on <a href="">Yelp</a>. Again, there is not a standard format specific to health care practices. However, you can learn about topics relevant to reviewers in regard to medical care and their experiences with various physicians.</p> <p>Visit multiple sites to get a broad understanding of a physician's background, capabilities, and strengths. Supplement web-based investigations by talking with friends, including those who work in the medical field and can give you an insider's point of view. Finally, decide on your health care priorities and speak directly to your potential physician to make sure your needs will be met.</p> <p><em>How did you find and select your current doctor? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Is Your Doctor Helping or Hurting? This Is How to Find Out" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Julie Rains</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Health and Beauty Shopping doctor finding a doctor physician Mon, 23 Jun 2014 17:00:07 +0000 Julie Rains 1145898 at Sex, Drugs, Rock 'n Roll — And Other Surprisingly Healthy Activities <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/sex-drugs-rock-n-roll-and-other-surprisingly-healthy-activities" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="rocking out" title="rocking out" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="147" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>So much of what we read about health revolves around the stuff we <em>should</em> be doing, ways to change our diet and exercise routines, and similar tips and tricks. Well, I'm here to give us all a big pat on the back for those activities we're <em>already </em>engaging in on a daily basis that contribute to overall wellness. Here are some things you're already doing to improve your health. (Related: <a href="">13 Bad Habits That Are Actually Good For You</a>)</p> <h2>Reading</h2> <p>By taking the time to read online or offline, you're exercising your mind in many ways. Reading &mdash; especially longer works, like novels &mdash; &quot;requires <a href="">several different regions</a> of the brain to work together&quot; and this heightened state of thinking can continue beyond the page and into everyday life.</p> <h2>Laughing</h2> <p>We've all heard it before, but did you know laughter really may be the best medicine? A good laugh can <a href="">regulate blood flow</a>, improve your immune system, lower blood sugar, aid with sleep, and even burn calories. Time to stream that comedy in your queue!</p> <h2>Sleeping</h2> <p>While experts seem split on exactly how much shut-eye adults need each night, what they seem to agree upon are the benefits. Think of your bedtime as a pit-stop for your body, where you'll service your &quot;<a href="">molecular, energy balance</a>, as well as intellectual function, alertness, and mood&quot; all at one time.</p> <h2>Hanging Out</h2> <p>If you spend time with friends and family, you enjoy a host of good vibes and support. Beyond that, spending time with friends can <a href="">improve confidence</a> while reducing stress levels. And quality really does trump quantity when it comes to companions, so foster those close connections for a full, rich life.</p> <h2>Yawning</h2> <p>Although I was once told that yawning was the brain's way of getting more oxygen, recent information shows that just isn't the case. However, yawning may actually <a href="">regulate brain temperature</a> to keep things cool and clear in your head. Apparently my brain is currently overheated, as I can't get through writing another sentence about this subject without, yes, yawning.</p> <h2>Stretching</h2> <p>Stretching your arms and legs or gently twisting your spine might feel great, but it's also a healthy habit that helps you stand up straight. If you exercise, a little stretch can go a long way toward improving flexibility and range of motion, both keys to preventing injuries. (Related: <a href="">Get &mdash; and Keep &mdash; Amazing Posture By Doing These 10 Stretches Today</a>)</p> <h2>Blinking</h2> <p>I always thought blinking was simply how our eyes kept clean and moist. Turns out, blinking serves a much more important function: <a href="">wakeful rest</a>. On average, our eyes are closed 10% of the daytime hours through blinking, allowing our minds to regularly reset and renew.</p> <h2>Burping</h2> <p>And farting are much more than smelly, loud embarrassments. The body produces a staggering <a href="">6.6 gallons of gas</a> each day, with most being conveniently recycled in the gut. What remains needs somewhere to go, so it's OK to let it rip. And don't avoid those healthy foods (<a href="">fibrous fruits and veggies</a>) that produce gas &mdash; they nourish your whole digestive system.</p> <h2>Drinking</h2> <p>In a study that included 38,000 men over a 12-year period, moderate drinking appeared to lower the risk of cardiovascular distress (heart attacks) by as much as <a href="">30% to 35%</a>. And the beverage you choose doesn't seem to matter as much as the regularity with which you drink it. So, sip that glass of wine or pint of beer with confidence. Cheers!</p> <h2>Making Love</h2> <p>That's right! Sex is good or you &mdash; very good, in fact. Love making in a stable, monogamous relationship has the power to reduce stress, relieve chronic pain, improve cardiovascular function, fight prostate cancer, heal wounds faster, and even slow the aging process. And <a href="">the benefits</a> increase with the more sex you have.</p> <h2>Rocking Out</h2> <p>Listening to your favorite tunes is a fun way to relax, and it's also heart healthy. In a study of cardiac disease patients, those who cranked music while exercising saw 10% <a href="">better heart function</a> overall than those who exercised alone. No one genre was shown to yield better results than another, so it's cool if you're into Bach or Bowie or The Black Keys.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Sex, Drugs, Rock &#039;n Roll — And Other Surprisingly Healthy Activities" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Health and Beauty fitness habits Health healthy habits Mon, 23 Jun 2014 13:00:05 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1146612 at 6 Simple Ways to Get More Exercise Without Working Out <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-simple-ways-to-get-more-exercise-without-working-out" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="exercise at home" title="exercise at home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>By now we've all heard that getting <a href="">10,000 steps per day</a> (approximately 5 miles) is the key to a more active lifestyle, weight management, and general well-being. Thing is, hitting that number sounds daunting &mdash; especially for those of us who work desk jobs and long hours. In fact, a 2010 study revealed that Americans are strolling <a href=";_type=blogs&amp;_r=0">only half</a> the recommended guideline at just over 5,000 steps per day. (Related: <a href="">50 Ways to Walk More</a>)</p> <p>It's easy to get caught in a sedentary lifestyle rut. With a few tweaks to your routine, you'll be on the road to better health in no time. The best part: You can do it for free! (Related: <a href="">How Being Healthy Saves You Money</a>)</p> <h2>1. Exercise at Work</h2> <p>There are <a href="">a number of ways</a> you can move at your desk without working up a major sweat. Body weight workouts like pushups and sit-ups are quiet and perfect for lunchtime. You can stash a mat in your office to try some yoga or Pilates moves all while being discrete. If you're able to get outside for breaks, try walking outdoors or up stairwells. Even <a href=";_type=blogs&amp;_r=0">short bursts of exercise</a> interspersed into your routine can add up to something big.</p> <h2>2. Take All Opportunities</h2> <p>If you're finding regular workouts are difficult to commit to in daily life, sneak in movement whenever and wherever it's possible. Park farther away from the grocery store. Walk to run simple errands like taking mail to the post office or picking up dry cleaning. Consider biking or walking to work. Ask a friend to take a walk instead of sitting in a coffee shop or at a movie. We all have opportunities; it's taking them that's the trick.</p> <h2>3. Skip the Gym</h2> <p>As much as I love working out, whenever I join a gym, I tend to stop going after a short while. Thankfully, you can exercise <a href="">in your living room</a> for free! There are numerous videos and tutorials online for anything from yoga to circuit training, and most of them don't require any fancy equipment. If you choose to work out from home, mix it up by getting a good blend of cardio and strength training to keep things interesting.</p> <h2>4. Join a Team</h2> <p>Cities and towns across the globe have free or low-cost soccer, basketball, baseball/softball, and other sports leagues for adults. If you don't like going to the gym or working out solo, these teams may be just the thing for you. Sites like <a href="">Sportsvite</a> help you find existing teams in your area or you can even form them yourself with other interested individuals.</p> <h2>5. Surround Yourself With Movers</h2> <p>Chances are if your friends and family are sedentary, you might be as well. The converse is also true, as &quot;sociologists and philosophers have [long] suspected that <a href="">behaviors can be contagious</a>.&quot; So, examine your friendships to seek out good influences. That buddy always bugging you to sign up for a local 5K might be onto something. Plus, having the support of others is great way to keep yourself accountable and moving for years to come.</p> <h2>6. Get the Ball Rolling</h2> <p>Sometimes all you need to do to break out of a sedentary lifestyle is to move and keep moving. It might feel unnatural at first, but eventually you'll get into a groove. Don't be discouraged if it doesn't happen overnight, however. A 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology revealed that new <a href="">habits become more automatic</a> anywhere between 18 to 254 days, with the average being 66 days (or around two months) total.</p> <p><em>How do you squeeze in a little more exercise each day? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="6 Simple Ways to Get More Exercise Without Working Out" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Health and Beauty exercise fitness Health sedentary Wed, 18 Jun 2014 11:00:03 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1144274 at Homemade Sunblock and 6 Other Non-Toxic Recipes to Get Your Skin Sun-Ready <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/homemade-sunblock-and-6-other-non-toxic-recipes-to-get-your-skin-sun-ready" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="sunblock" title="sunblock" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As the days get brighter and the nights warm up, we're spending more and more time outdoors. Summer is the prime season for enjoyment and activity, but it's also the height of painful sunburns. I'm trying to become more conscious and careful about the lotions and salves I slather onto my body. Sometimes, even the most natural sunblocks contain more harmful ingredients than I'd like to see. (See also: <a href="">Cheap and Simple Sunburn Remedies That Really Work</a>)</p> <p>The following &quot;recipes&quot; are all natural and non-toxic. After the initial investment in a few key ingredients, they are sure to give your store bought 'block a run for its money.</p> <h2>1. Sunblock With Zinc Oxide</h2> <p>This <a href="">thick and creamy sunblock</a> melts like butter onto your skin. The SPF rating is at least 20, if not higher. You may even have some of the required ingredients &mdash; coconut oil, almond oil, shea butter, etc. &mdash; already in your kitchen and bath cabinets. (Ingredients are measured in grams, so here's a <a href="">converting calculator</a> to switch to cups.)</p> <h2>2. Bronzing Bars</h2> <p>If you'd like a natural tan look with your protection, these <a href="">DIY Bronzing Bars</a> are for you! A reader suggested including coffee infused oil for that bronzing effect. Bonus? They double as bug repellent!</p> <h2>3. Soothing Sunblock</h2> <p>This next mix <a href="">contains aloe</a>, which soothes burns. It's rated around 30-40 SPF, so great for a day at the beach or out at a backyard barbecue. You can choose to use either carrot seed or raspberry seed oil, with raspberry having more SPF power.</p> <h2>4. Fragrance Block</h2> <p>This <a href="">sweet smelling sunblock</a> has a hefty dose of essential oils in it &mdash; 40-50 drops to be exact. For me, I'd take the opportunity to do a mix of lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus to get some natural allergy relief from all that pollen flying through the air.</p> <h2>5. Foundation SPF</h2> <p>I'm super excited to try this <a href="">homemade foundation and sunblock</a> in one! The color comes from a custom mix of cinnamon and cocoa powder.</p> <h2>6. Tinted Mix</h2> <p>If you'd rather add a more subtle color to your sunblock, this <a href="">tinted mix</a> will do the trick. It uses iron oxide powder for those who have a darker natural completions. It blends better on skin with fewer noticeable streaks.</p> <h2>7. Cooling Burn Treatment</h2> <p>If you haven't had a chance to make any of these protective recipes, you might have a nasty burn to contend with. Try <a href="">freezing aloe juice</a> in ice cube trays. When you get a burn, pop a few cubes out of the freezer and enjoy the soothing sensation.</p> <p><em>What's your favorite homemade sunblock recipe? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Homemade Sunblock and 6 Other Non-Toxic Recipes to Get Your Skin Sun-Ready" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Green Living Health and Beauty Homemade sunblock sunscreen Tue, 17 Jun 2014 13:00:03 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1142904 at 14 Dumb Things Holding You Back From Losing Weight <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/14-dumb-things-holding-you-back-from-losing-weight" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman on scale" title="woman on scale" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="159" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If the number of advertisements, books, TV shows, and websites devoted to weight loss are any indicator, losing weight is generally viewed as a monumental task, one that requires many pages of instruction and encouragement, as well as starving and sweating and self denial.</p> <p>Or&hellip; maybe not.</p> <p>After all, many studies suggest that gaining and losing weight aren't so much tied to one big effort so much as a lot of smaller ones. If you've been trying to lose a few pounds, here are 14 dumb little things that might be holding you back. (See also: <a href="">7 Killer Ways to Really, Actually Lose Weight</a>)</p> <h2>1. You Have the Wrong Genes</h2> <p>Before someone looks at my picture and sends me hate mail, I'll come right out and say it: I'm thin. My secret? A thin mother, a thin father, and a whole long line of unusually tall, lean ancestors. I also have huge, flat flipper feet and an uncooperative complexion. Genetics is a mixed bag.</p> <p>When it comes to carrying extra weight, research suggests that how easily we gain and lose weight <a href="">is largely genetic</a>. That isn't to say that diet and exercise won't work for you, and working to stay at a weight that keeps you feeling good and that falls within what your doctor says is healthy is still important. However, if big bodies (or, in my case, feet), run in your family, striving for a completely different physique may be unrealistic &mdash; and unhealthy. Unfortunately, this is one dumb impediment to weight loss that you can't do much about.</p> <h2>2. Your Plates Are Too Big</h2> <p>At some restaurants, the plates are so big the server can hardly fit two of them on the table. It looks impressive, it feels generous&hellip; and it's really really bad for your waistline. That's because, according to research by Cornell University Food Lab, most people aren't very good at <a href="">judging portion sizes</a>. So, if we usually fill a small bowl with cereal, we are just as likely to fill a much larger one and assume that the portion size is about the same. In other words, bigger plates tend to lead to bigger portions.</p> <p>If you're struggling with weight gain, getting smaller dishes might be a great way to enjoy a full plate &mdash; and a smaller portion size.</p> <h2>3. You're More Sedentary Than You Think</h2> <p>Exercising regularly &mdash; even daily &mdash; may not be enough if you have a sedentary job. That's because long periods of sitting can essentially undo many of the benefits of exercise, and <a href=";_type=blogs&amp;_r=0">have negative effects</a> on your cardiovascular health, risk for diabetes, and waistline. If you work at a desk, that probably won't change. What you can do is try to get up more and add more exercise into your everyday routine. Take a walk or a yoga class during your lunch break. Get a <a href="">standing desk</a>. Walk to speak to a co-worker instead of emailing. Take the stairs to use the restroom on the next floor.</p> <p>All these little things take little effort but can make a huge difference in your metabolism over the course of a day.</p> <h2>4. You're Eating Less Instead of Eating Right</h2> <p>The old adage of weight loss is &quot;calories in, calories out.&quot; But while that's true to an extent, more recent research shows that <em>what</em> we eat and the <em>quality</em> of our diets is actually tremendously important, and may even have a <a href="">greater impact on weight loss</a> than the number of calories we consume. A study released by Harvard researchers in 2011 found that potato chips were more strongly associated with weight gain than any other food (betcha can't eat just one!), while those who ate more servings of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and yogurt, gained the least weight over time. The lesson? Focus on quality first.</p> <h2>5. You're Exercising Too Much</h2> <p>Have you ever gone out and burned about a zillion calories exercising for hours only to come home and spend the rest of the day devouring everything in sight? It happens. And for some people, the hunger that a lot of exercise produces is so intense, they fail to lose weight &mdash; and <a href="">might even gain some</a>. This isn't to say that you shouldn't exercise. It's good for you! But if a long run makes you ravenous, exercising even more might not be the key to weight loss for you.</p> <h2>6. You Aren't Sleeping Enough</h2> <p>It seems counter-intuitive, but spending more time lying in bed can actually help keep you both leaner and healthier (not to mention less grouchy). Many studies have associated <a href="">&quot;short sleep duration&quot; </a>with weight gain and obesity. Not only does lack of sleep leave you too tired to be active and more likely to make poor food choices, but it also has a physiological effect on your metabolism. So get to bed earlier and sleep in when you can. Hey, maybe this game isn't all about deprivation after all!</p> <h2>7. You're Eating Too Fast</h2> <p>Are you usually the first to clean your plate at the dinner table? Research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2011 found that the fastest eaters tended to gain the most weight. After all, if you're the first to finish your meal, you're more likely to add a few more spoonfuls to your plate. Plus, it takes some more time for the stomach to <a href="">register that it's full</a>. If you polish of your dinner in a few minutes, you may still feel hungry for more, even if your body doesn't need it.</p> <h2>8. You're Too Stressed Out</h2> <p>Stress sucks. Over the long term, it can affect just about <a href="">every part of your body</a>, including your body weight. That's because our bodies were designed for short-term, fight-or-flight stress. Like the kind where you see a predator coming after and you quickly produce hormones that help you run away. This is followed by the release of cortisol, a hormone that essentially tells you to eat to replenish your energy stores. The problem is that while sitting on the couch worrying about your bills essentially produces the same kind of stress and the same surge of hormones, it doesn't burn nearly as many calories as fighting off a saber-toothed tiger. That makes keeping long-term stress in a check a major component to losing and maintaining weight loss. (See also: <a href="">20 Free (or Really Cheap) Ways to Reduce Stress</a>)</p> <h2>9. You're Dieting</h2> <p>Just about every bit of research out there shows that when it comes to long-term weight loss, extreme diets are bad news. As it turns out, starving yourself not only makes you hungry (and possibly homicidal), it also sets your body up for failure. That's because the faster you lose weight, the more likely you are to <a href="">lose a lot of muscle</a>, and it's muscle that helps keep your metabolism high. So, once you quit your diet, your body will actually be less efficient, making you more likely to gain weight &mdash; and even gain more weight than you lost. Small changes and slow, steady weight loss are best.</p> <h2>10. You're Snacking</h2> <p>Ask your grandparents how they ate growing up, and chances are they'll tell you that they ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And, for the most part, that's about all. Snacks are a relatively new phenomenon. And it doesn't help that most typical snack foods are little more than processed junk. That's why it might just be better to skip snacks altogether; a recent Dutch study found that <a href="">eating three larger, well-balanced meals a day</a> may help reduce the accumulation of abdominal fat.</p> <h2>11. You're Watching TV</h2> <p>Maybe there's a reason we tend to use terms like &quot;binge watching&quot; and &quot;couch potato&quot; to refer to habits around TV; while the latest season of &quot;Game of Thrones&quot; may be calorie-free, watching can still have a negative impact on your waistline. In fact, research shows that <a href="">watching TV has more links to weight gain</a> than any other sedentary activity. That means swapping TV time for just about any other activity may have a positive effect when it comes to weight loss.</p> <h2>12. You're Not Taking Care of Your Intestines</h2> <p>Yes, your intestines. You probably don't give much thought to that squiggly mess of an organ, now do you? Recent research suggests, however, that keeping things just right in there can really affect our overall health &mdash; and determine our success at maintaining a healthy weight. A study released in January found that <a href="">regular consumption of probiotics</a> (bacteria that's good for your gut), can help accelerate weight loss in women. Foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and just about anything that's fermented contains healthy bacteria that helps keep your digestive system &mdash; and metabolism &mdash; going strong. You can also take a supplement.</p> <h2>13. You're a Woman</h2> <p>Sorry, ladies, but there is some evidence to suggest that <a href="">weight loss is harder for women than it is for men</a>, at least initially. That's because men tend to have more lean muscle tissue, which helps them kick-start their weight loss more quickly. But there's another reason too: Women are designed to have more body fat, particularly on our lower bodies. And that isn't necessarily a bad thing. According to Dr. David Katz, founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center at the Yale University School of Medicine, the fat women find it hardest to lose is generally the least harmful to health.</p> <h2>14. You Need to See a Doctor</h2> <p>In some cases, weight gain doesn't just indicate a change in exercise or dietary habits, it can signal a health problem. Thyroid problems, hormone imbalances, food intolerances and certain medications can all <a href="">contribute to weight gain</a>. If you think a medical problem could be the reason you're gaining weight, see your doctor. Being treated for the problem might help you lose a few pounds &mdash; and feel a whole lot better.</p> <p><em>What's helped you shed those unwanted pounds? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="14 Dumb Things Holding You Back From Losing Weight" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Tara Struyk</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Health and Beauty diets fitness Health weight weight loss Tue, 17 Jun 2014 11:00:04 +0000 Tara Struyk 1142930 at Turn Your Home Into a Spa With These 5 Frugal Stress Relievers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/turn-your-home-into-a-spa-with-these-5-frugal-stress-relievers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="relaxing" title="relaxing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You need a break. We all do! You may already know all about the scientific evidence that shows the mental and physical <a href="">health benefits of taking a vacation</a>. However, you don't need to wait for a full vacation to get some relaxation time. In fact, small doses of relaxation work wonders for your overall health. (See also: <a href="">25 Ways to Have the Best, Cheapest Summer Vacation</a>)</p> <p>Here are five ways to give yourself some regularly-scheduled R&amp;R without breaking the bank.</p> <h2>1. Treat Your Feet, Treat Yourself</h2> <p>Ever notice what happens to your mood when you're wearing uncomfortable shoes? It takes a serious nose dive! The converse is also true &mdash; when your feet feel good, life feels good.</p> <p>You could spend a lot of money on pedicures, foot massages, and reflexology treatments. The money is well worth the benefits, although there is another way to give yourself an inexpensive dose of foot-focused happiness: an <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=foot%20spa&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Daps">at-home foot spa</a>. I found options as low as $27, about the price of one pedicure at my local salon. Some are water-based while others offer heat, vibration, bubble jets, and even massages. (See also: <a href="">10 Spa Treatments You Can Do at Home</a>)</p> <h2>2. Make Your Bed a Sanctuary</h2> <p>A good night's sleep is the foundation of a satisfying life. Everything about our beds should feel cozy, comforting, and stress-free. I look for 500+ thread count sheets on sale (the higher the thread count, the softer the sheets!), change out my pillows for new ones once a year, and use both a pillow topper and a duvet. Stores such as <a href="">HomeGoods</a> and T.J.Maxx often have all of these items at deep discounts. I also spritz my bed regularly with a few drops of lavender oil diluted in a half cup of water.</p> <h2>3. Loosen Up With the MELT Method</h2> <p>The <a href="">MELT Method</a> is a type of bodywork that relieves physical and mental tension and stress. The routine employs a variety of stretches, foam rollers, and rubber balls to massage muscles and limber up connective tissue.</p> <p>A relatively new concept, MELT classes are available in some cities and occasionally you may find a MELT instructor in your neighborhood who offers private sessions. Luckily you can purchase all of the gear and follow instructions in a manual or on videos (online and DVDs) that are just as effective at a fraction of the cost. It takes just 10 minutes a day and relieves chronic pain in many people. For a very low-cost substitute, you can use tennis balls or small rubber exercise balls and a standard issue foam roller available at many stores that sell sporting goods or on Amazon. There are <a href="">MELT Method videos</a> available on YouTube for free! (See also: <a href="">Half Moon, Full Wallet; Free Online Yoga Videos</a>)</p> <h2>4. Reduce Stress With Soothing Sounds</h2> <p>It's amazing what some nature sounds, a short guided meditation, and even just relaxing music can do for our minds. There are <a href="">a number of scientific studies</a> that show that soothing sounds reduce our levels of stress hormones, lower anxiety, and improve our communication abilities. Best of all, this method ranges in price from cheap to free! I am a yoga and meditation teacher and created three free <a href="">guided online meditations</a> you can try. If that's not your thing, try listening to the sounds of nature. My favorites are <a href="">Relaxing Sounds of Nature</a> and <a href="">Naturespace</a>, which I listen to on my iPad.</p> <p>Finally, music is a great way to escape from the mundane. I am a big fan of playing music all the time &mdash; I'm more productive and happier with it, even when I'm doing a task that isn't much fun.</p> <h2>5. Spend Time With Animals</h2> <p>Science shows that <a href="">spending time with animals</a>, especially our own pets, reduces stress, relieves anxiety, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, improves heart health, and alleviates depression. Worried you don't have time to properly care for a pet? Offer to walk a friend's dog, pet sit while a friend or family member is out of town, or volunteer at your local animal shelter. You'll reap the relaxation benefits and helps others at the same time. (See also: <a href="">5 Surprising Ways Your Dog Can Save You Money</a>)</p> <p>There's no doubt that we all need to get out of town and on vacation from time to time. These five ideas will help tide you over between those well-deserved breaks with home-baked rest and relaxation that's affordable and available every day.</p> <p><em>Do you have favorite affordable ways to relax at home? Share them in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Turn Your Home Into a Spa With These 5 Frugal Stress Relievers" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Christa Avampato</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Health and Beauty relaxation rest travel vacation Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:00:02 +0000 Christa Avampato 1142657 at