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Fitness & Exercise

The ABCs of Weight Loss

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Key to an effective exercise plan is variety. Try something new -- maybe Pilates, yoga, or water aerobics. Having fun and trying new things will keep you interested and enhance your commitment to exercise. Another key: starting your day with activity is one of the best ways to make sure it does not get squeezed out of your schedule.

Low blood sugar is often the cause of between-meal cravings, especially for sweets. Eating meals and small snacks that contain lean protein and fiber every few hours helps keep blood sugar levels steady. When sweets cravings strike, try to satisfy them with naturally sweet foods such as fruit (accompany it with a little low-fat yogurt for protein).

Mindful eating means taking time to savor every bite. Turn off the distractions, and concentrate on the aroma, texture, and flavor of food. Becoming more mindful when you eat will give you more pleasure from your meals. The bonus: You'll also be more in tuned with your body's signals of fullness, and you'll be less likely to overeat.

Nighttime snacking, for most of us, is a habit that can undermine weight loss success. That's because the calories we eat after dinner tend to be empty ones, from chips, cookies, etc. Brushing your teeth after supper will help you make dinner the last meal of the day. If you need a little something at night, try to satisfy the urge with few calories -- have a stick of gum, one piece of hard candy, or a cup of hot tea).

One more scoop, one more cookie, one more glass of wine -- "just one more" can add lots of extra calories. Controlling portions is fundamental to weight loss success. You don't need to give up your favorite foods, but you do need to keep track of your portions. At home, use smaller plates and keep food at the stove instead of on the table at mealtime. When you go out to eat, order a soup and a salad instead of an entrée, or take home half your meal in a doggie bag.

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