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Why is it so hard to stick with a diet, or exercise plan?

Diet and exercise. To lose weight, to manage blood pressure, to keep your blood sugar in check, to lower the risk of heart attacks, cancer and many other diseases.

You probably have heard the recommended goals: 30 minutes of moderate activity five times a week, loads of fruit and vegetables, and whole grains in place of refined ones.

It sounds so easy; why is it so hard? Science has something interesting to say on the topic.

A study published this spring analyzed the effect of lifestyle modification on weight loss among 5,145 overweight and obese people with Type 2 diabetes. They were randomly assigned to receive either intensive coaching on diet and exercise in weekly meetings for six months, with diminishing frequency after that, or to get diabetes support and education only three times a year.

After four years, those who had been assigned to lifestyle modification, including severely obese patients, had lost more weight and their cardio risk factors — such as cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure — had improved significantly more than among those getting only support and education.

Good results in a hospital-based study do not always translate to other settings. It can be quite a challenge to fit diet and exercise — and potentially coaching help — into a busy life.

A Tufts University research team tested a workplace weight-loss program based on nearly 20 years of weight management study experience. At two companies, 94 employees who were overweight or obese met for weekly sessions with nutritionists during their lunch hour and lost an average of 17.6 pounds over six months. Monthly sessions were offered for another six months, and the 40 employees who attended them kept their lost weight off.

By comparison, 39 overweight or obese employees at two control locations received no counseling. They gained two pounds, on average, over six months.

How did the nutritional counseling seem to make such a difference? The dietary advice was based on the “I” diet and included eating foods that address what study co-author Sai Das calls “hunger management.” That means foods that are high in fiber and low in glycemic load — or how much a food raises blood sugar — says Das, an assistant professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts. Eating such meals allowed the study participants to reduce caloric intake; the counseling component included help with portion control, the challenges posed by eating out and other self-management topics.

Importantly, Das says, the counseling sessions were built into employees’ workdays, making it easy for them to attend.

The take-away here is that for people to lose weight and keep it off, a wellness program needs to do more than just provide dieting help, such as by putting more-healthful snacks in vending machines. That change, while good, is not enough to bring about measurable effects.

A much smaller study looked at the effect of weekly diabetes self-management classes on a group of African Americans with Type 2 diabetes at three churches. “We wanted to see if we could reach people where they eat and work and play,” says study co-author Janice Collins-McNeil, an associate professor of nursing at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina.

The 12 study participants learned about healthful eating, being active, self-monitoring their blood sugar and stress management. At the end of 12 weeks, participants saw reductions in blood pressure and waist circumference.

Collins-McNeil says adopting new eating and exercise habits was important in these results. “There are many reasons why people don’t bother to exercise or take care of their health,” she says. The main one her team was up against: “As long as they are functioning and in no pain, they’re okay,” she says. They had little motivation to change their habits until the research team educated them otherwise.

Indeed, there are plenty of roadblocks to making healthful lifestyle changes, and, oddly, too much information is one of them. The studies above suggest that people can benefit by being helped through the thicket of possibilities out there and ny being given goals.

Health insurance giant Aetna has put considerable effort into wellness programs, both for its own employees and in the advice it offers to companies whose workers it insures, says Susan Kosman, Aetna’s chief nursing officer. “In our own study of 80 employers that use our programs, we saw a 150 percent return” on the money spent for the program, she says. “That includes decreased medical and pharmacy costs, decreased absenteeism and increased productivity.”

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet has been proved effective in managing high blood pressure in clinical studies, yet many doctors don’t recommend it, says Marla Heller, a Los Angeles-based dietitian and author of “The DASH Diet Action Plan.”

“Physicians still think the DASH diet is too hard to follow, that it’s just a research tool,” Heller says. “It can sound off-putting to hear you need four to five servings of vegetables and four to five servings of fruit. But one cup of cooked vegetables is two servings. Eat a salad, too, and you’ve got three servings at one meal.”

Heller says she offers meal plans and advice to help people visualize how they can accomplish their wellness goals instead of getting bogged down in details about nutrients and numbers. “We don’t need to turn people into dietitians,” she says.

If there’s a common theme in these disparate approaches, it’s that having a coach, or a support group, can make a big difference in helping maintain a new diet or exercise routine.

“I continue to be amazed at how creative people are and how supportive they are,” says Heller, who has set up a Facebook group where people can offer encouragement to others trying to control their weight. “They come up with tips and tricks for each other.”

By Jill U. Adams, The Washington Post

What Is Beauty? A Plastic Surgeon’s Perspective


Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. ~ Confucius

The word “beauty” is the most overused, misunderstood, poorly defined word in the English language. What makes a woman beautiful? The Holy Grail of beauty has never been completely understood. The cliché, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” is incorrect in my opinion. Perception is the key. It is “perception of beauty” that is in the eye of the beholder. Each of us, however, has a different perception of beauty. We all have different tastes, likes and dislikes, and this affects our definition and perception of beauty with regard to the American woman. As a plastic surgeon, it is my job to counsel people about this perception of beauty because so many misconceptions exist.

We are all familiar with the “classic” physical features that are considered beautiful in our society. A pretty face, gorgeous eyes and a nice figure are examples often cited. However, it is my contention that each of us has a different perception of a pretty face, gorgeous eyes and a nice figure. It is that perception — believing that a blonde is prettier than a redhead, or blue eyes are prettier than green eyes, for instance — that causes confusion. If we cannot agree on what traits define beauty, because each of us perceives beauty differently, how can a woman discover her own beauty?

Unfortunately, we rely on “beauty authorities,” such as Hollywood, fashion designers and style experts to define beauty for us. The standards and criteria of beauty set by our society have been manipulated and bastardized and are wrong, absurd and unrealistic. Our role models have become 20-something starlets and fashion models whose photographs have been carefully orchestrated, airbrushed, Photoshopped and drastically altered. In person, these people do not look like their photos! The Huffington Post is certainly doing their part to expose this.

So, how does the non-celebrity woman compete? She cannot! Women are unduly influenced into negative opinions about themselves and forced to chase an illusion. The deck is stacked totally against them. We must change our perception of beauty and choose realistic role models. We also must abandon the notion that youth is the only path towards beauty. Women must embrace the fact that true beauty does, and must, transcend the decades as we age. We are all familiar with gorgeous women in every decade of life. If we must use celebrities as examples, there are actresses such as Betty White, Helen Mirren and Penelope Cruz.

We must change these perceptions, attitudes and behavior to make it better for the next generation. We must educate our children to recognize that physical characteristics alone do not make a woman beautiful. We must stop sending the wrong, unhealthy, superficial message to our daughters and granddaughters about the definition of beauty. It would help to choose role models who make sense: smart, vivacious, confident women, representing every decade of life.

It is my assertion that each woman has a Beauty Quotient. This quotient is made up of three distinct categories: Physical Health, Psychological Health and Personal Appearance:

  • Physical Health consists of corporeal characteristics that define a woman’s beauty, and trust me — each and every woman has physical characteristics that are truly beautiful. A woman’s face or body can be structurally imperfect, but still exquisite.
  • Psychological Health involves one’s personality, intelligence, sensitivity and warmth, sense of humor, attitude and overall level of confidence.
  • Personal Appearance includes your beauty routine. This involves habits regarding skin-care regimen, hair and makeup routines, wardrobe, posture and style.

It is the combination of physical and mental elements from these three categories that define a woman’s beauty. A woman may raise her Beauty Quotient significantly by simply tweaking various elements within these categories. A combination of intangibles can make a woman beautiful.

My quest is about convincing women to recognize their inner and outer beauty by changing their attitude and being able to take an honest, positive look at themselves. I would like them to look in the mirror and see the glass half full instead of half empty. It is OK to look like yourself and not someone else. My recommendation is that women identify and embrace those attributes that make them beautiful, and then learn to accentuate them. Learn to celebrate your best features and set realistic, achievable goals regarding your own beauty.

We, as a society, must change the rules and allow a woman’s beauty to evolve with her as she ages to suit her current stage of life. Age with dignity, while still looking your best and, more importantly, still looking like you. It is my opinion that a combination of physical and mental traits truly makes a woman beautiful. So much of a woman’s beauty is under her direct control. Learn to take control!

You don’t love a woman because she is beautiful, but she is beautiful because you love her. –Oscar Wilde[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Pretty Boys: Plastic Surgery Isn’t Just for Women Anymore

What economic downturn? According to the latest figures, the rate of plastic surgery procedures is not only back on the upswing, but the surgeries are becoming increasingly popular among men.

According to data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), men underwent 1.1 million plastic surgery procedures in 2010, an average 2% increase over the previous years. That might not sound like a huge uptick, but the increases in popularity of certain procedures were in the double digits.

Among men, facelifts saw the biggest gains, with a 14% increase, largely among men in their 50s and 60s. Other procedures that men received more frequently: ear surgery, which increased by 11%; soft tissue fillers like Juvederm and Botox, which increased by 10% and 9%, respectively; and liposuction (7% increase) and breast reduction (6% increase). Eyelid surgery and dermabrasion also enjoyed 4% increases each.

The rate of some other procedures declined, but still remained among the most popular for men: nose reshaping, chemical peel and microdermabrasion.

“The growth in cosmetic surgical procedures for men may be a product of our aging baby boomers who are now ready to have plastic surgery,” said ASPS President Phillip Haeck in a statement. “Minimally invasive procedures such as Botox and soft tissue fillers work to a point. However, as you age and gravity takes over, surgical procedures that lift the skin are necessary in order to show significant improvement.”

Although more and more men are getting cosmetic surgeries, women still make up the majority of patients.

6 precautions before and after cosmetic surgery

People have found a very quick and easy solution to look their best through cosmetic surgeries.What used to be impossible has become possible now, as one can regain her youth and stop the effects of ageing on the skin. People are fast opting for cosmetic surgeries for not only skin beautification but weight loss as well.

Going under plastic surgeon’s knife for pout, nose job, lip job or any other skin problem has become fashionable but there are always areas of concern and safety which you need to take care before and after cosmetic surgery. So before you consent to change the way you look, Dr Sandeep Bhasin, cosmetic surgeon, Carewell Medical Centre, shares some tips on precautions before and after cosmetic surgery.

1. No cosmetics: People are getting more conscious of their facial features and often go under the knife for nose correction (rhinoplasty) or even for plastic surgery. But after the surgery one should avoid the application of any cosmetics in the area as it can lead to allergies or infections. The area of surgery should be kept clean, it should be washed with meditated water.

2. Stay indoor: Exposure to sun should be minimum, the UV rays can prove to be very harmful for the surgical stitches and the area in which it has been performed. Application of just sunscreen is no solution. Apply antibiotic and ointment as prescribed by the doctor after the sutures are removed.

3. Healthy diet: Antibiotics sometimes lead to gastric problems. A proper diet should be followed, there should be sufficient consumption of fruits, toned milk and light food. In facial surgery there is difficulty in having food, liquid diet could be followed in such cases. Do not smoke or drink till the operated area recovers completely. Consumption of alcohol and smoking should also be avoided even before the surgery.

4. Avoid medicines and supplements: Medicines should be avoided that make the blood clotting hard. The patient should have a strong immunity system before the surgical procedure starts. Intake of supplements without doctors consent can lead to harmful effects.

5. Aloe vera juice: For ages aloe vera is known for its medicinal powers. Intake of aloe vera juice helps in healing the ruptured cells from inside and also building the quality of skin. The surgeries, even facial, usually leads to loss of skin glow. Aloe vera helps in restoring the glow, but it should be consumed only on doctor’s recommendation.

6. Know your doctor: Before deciding on a surgeon, one should do enough research on the credentials and his/her area of skill. Going for a nose surgery by a liposuction expert wont be a good idea. One should also discuss the medical history with the doctor one is consulting as it aides further medical procedures.

(With inputs from Dr. Sandeep Bhasin, cosmetic surgeon, Carewell Medical Centre)

Everything You Want To Know About Losing Weight

Shedding unwanted pounds has to do with much more than looking better. Obviously you will look better, but an entire weight loss program will also have you feeling better and much healthier, too. Read this article to find out more about different weight loss methods and how to design your own program.

If you are trying to shed some pounds, eat every meal. When you skip a meal your body notices. You have the risk of eating more at the next meal to compensate. You are also losing out on nutrients when you skip meals. Although it seems that skipping meals would help you lose weight faster, it actually works against you and can sabotage your weight loss plan.

Instead of mashed potatoes, try mashed cauliflower. Boil your cauliflower covered with some chopped onion until it’s tender. Then, while it’s still hot, put it in a food processor and puree it with chicken or vegetable bouillon and some pepper. This is a great side dish for larger dinners and provides a lot of nutrition, with a small amount of carbohydrates.

One tip to help in weight loss is to only eat the whites of the eggs. The yolk is healthy, but it has a lot of cholesterol and fat, which are not good for you. Eggs are a great source of protein, especially the whites.

When you know what is and what isn’t good for your body, you have a higher chance of successful weight loss. If you feel great in the morning, maybe you can incorporate a morning jog. Those who feel strongest in the evening hours will prefer a later workout schedule. This will help you maintain consistency, because if you dislike early mornings, you will not want to work out and exercise.

Stop trying to put a stop to your habits that cause you to gain weight, instead, create new habits that will help you lose weight. By making positive changes, you can stick to your diet. Rather than trying to avoid the doughnut shop each day, get into the habit of stopping elsewhere for fruit or a healthy smoothie instead. Replacing bad habits with good ones is much easier than trying to eliminate the habit altogether.

The one key thing that these tips offer you is that like so many other weight loss tips is that they are here to help you. There is no one way to lose weight, there are a lot of ways this can happen. Try these tips out for yourself and take the first steps on your weight loss journey.