How does depression affect the heart?

Depression and Heart Disease, Ever drown your sorrows in a big bowl of ice cream? When you’re feeling down, it’s easy to reach for your favorite comfort food. But thinking about your heart health is important, even when you’re not feeling too chipper.

That’s often easier said than done, said Nieca Goldberg, M.D., medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.  But it’s also important, because heart disease is the  No. 1 killer of all Americans.

“When people are stressed, anxious or feeling down, they’re not apt to make the healthy choice because they’re so overwhelmed by their situation,” Dr. Goldberg said. “A person’s mental health, in terms of their general health, is underestimated.”

Depression is reported in an estimated 1 in 10 of Americans ages 18 and older, and the figure can be as high as 33 percent for heart attack patients. But just feeling down can lead to changes that can affect your health, and not just because you may fall into habits that are bad for your hearth, Dr. Goldberg said.

“Other physiological things are happening in the body, including increased stress hormones, higher levels of cortisol and higher glucose levels,” she said. “Taking care of your overall outlook and well-being is as important as taking care of your blood pressure and cholesterol.”

It’s not surprising if you find it hard to get plenty of exercise, eat heart-healthy foods, limit alcohol or kick a smoking habit. All those things can seem like “just one more thing to add to their list of things that is already causing stress,” Dr. Goldberg said.  “People turn to things that give them comfort and aren’t thinking about whether those things are healthy or not.”

Out With the Bad, In With the Good

If you’re struggling with stress or anxiety, Dr. Goldberg said that taking three key steps can help.

  1. Identify the cause of your stress or anxiety and address it. Seek therapy if necessary.

    “If you’re feeling down for a couple days, that’s OK, but if it goes on for weeks, you need to seek help,” Dr. Goldberg said.

  2. Choose healthy habits and don’t rush it.  If you aren’t in the habit of exercising, start gradually rather than putting pressure on yourself to get back to a rigorous routine.

    “Something as simple as taking a walk, 30 minutes a day, even if you do only 10 minutes at a time, can help your heart,” Dr. Goldberg said.  “Exercise improves your mood while you’re doing it, but long-term studies show that people who exercise report better quality of life overall.”

    Exercise is especially important when you’re struggling with work, family and other life stresses, Dr. Goldberg said. In addition to being good for your heart health, “exercise can be a means to making you feel better,” she said.

    “Some people respond to stressful situations by eating because they’re so stressed out and that’s something that gives them pleasure and relaxes them,” Dr. Goldberg said.

    If reaching for unhealthy foods has become a habit, try using healthier cooking techniques or substituting ingredients to cut down on fat, added sugar, sodium and calories. Try reaching for healthy snacks, or choose undressed salads and other healthy dishes when dining out. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a nutritious and satisfying snack.

    “Focus on eating from all four food groups,” Dr. Goldberg said. “Many people say they have to eat on the go, but you can really find healthy items on the salad bar instead of getting a burger, fries and milkshake.”

  3. Incorporate other unhealthy lifestyle habits one a time instead of trying to “fix” everything at once.That’s especially true if one of the habits you want to break is a smoking habit.

    “Quitting smoking is a big deal and difficult to break,” Dr. Goldberg said. Learn about Life’s Simple 7 keys to prevention and how to get heart healthy one step at a time.

    Ultimately, you have to take care of yourself to break the cycle of feeling down. That could be doing something structured, like a yoga class or tai chi practice, or something you can do anywhere, such as a few minutes of meditation, listening to music or reading a book.

    “Even taking a bath can help,” Dr. Goldberg said. “Just take some time and relax.

How To Lose Weight: Tips on How to Lose 15 Pounds in Six Weeks

When you’re finally ready to make changes to your diet to lose weight, you always wish the weight was off yesterday. It’s always better to lose weight slowly if you want long-term results. Losing 15 pounds over six weeks is doable, but you may have to work a little harder to keep it off. Consult your doctor or dietitian to discuss safe ways to lose weight and help you design a plan that fits your needs.


“This is the magic ingredient to get you through those moments when you’re tempted to get off track” Dr Nash says. “What’s the reason you’ve decided to embark on this six-week regime? Is it a ‘moving away from’ goal to avoid something you don’t want, like a health condition getting worse or looking bad on the beach? Or a ‘moving towards’ goal – feeling great in your clothes again, or confident for an event? Anchor your Big Why with a physical reminder – a photo, an inspiring word or phrase you can put on your home screen and pull out when you need a shot of motivation.”


“Come up with 2-3 ways of saying ‘thanks, but no thanks’ when people tempt you off track,” says Dr Nash. “Whatever you say, the key is to say it with confidence – as soon as someone hears you falter, it’s a signal that you’re in two minds. Watch out for subtle forms of sabotage – often done unconsciously by loved ones who know that they too should be making changes but aren’t ready. Keeping your success to yourself can be the best way through it, and having ways to change the subject when it comes up can be a good strategy.”


“It’s common for couples to get into habits around using food to show love and affection, so find other ways of spending time together that don’t just revolve around sharing culinary delights,” says Dr Nash. “Take it in turns to share the little and big wins of the day, while you’re having dinner so you’re not solely talking about what you’re eating. It’s shown to help you de-stress too.”


“Consider weaving in some ‘free passes’ each week where you can allow yourself to go ‘off track’ a little,” says Dr Nash. “This can help you maintain after the six weeks is up as well – so you really can have your cake and eat it.”


“The Healthspan health and wellbeing app is a great way to help you reach your fitness goals, as it is designed to fit itself to your needs and targets in order to provide personalised advice,” Dr Nash says. Download it for free on Google Play and the Apple App Store.


You’re going to be working up quite a sweat over the next six weeks so you want to make sure you’re fuelled up enough to do so. That doesn’t mean loading up on Marylands for “instant energy release”. Instead, remember that however hard you try, you can’t out train a bad diet. Here’s what should be heading up your shopping list, along with fresh fruits and veggies.


“A healthy portion of oats with oat milk, berries and any grated nuts will ensure your metabolism and energy is at its peak,” says Alix Woods, nutritionist at Quest Nutra Pharma. “If you can’t have oats, eggs are another good option.”


“One of the easiest things you can do to improve weight loss from a nutritional perspective, is to replace carbs with good quality protein and healthy fats,” says Lawrance. “This encourages the body to utilise fat as its main energy source instead of using the carbs you consume for that purpose. Be sure to include coconut and avocado in your meals along with salmon, chicken, turkey and other lean cuts of meat.”


“Post training you should always refuel with carbs and protein to encourage muscle growth and fat loss,” says Lawrance. “Good sources of carbs include brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato and butternut squash.”


“Food intake needs to be carefully balanced and planned,” says clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer. “In order to effect consistent weight loss, it’s important that the body’s natural beneficial bacteria be in good shape. An overgrowth of bad bacteria will cause inflammation throughout the body and will stop the body from losing weight.”

How to ensure your gut is ticking along tip top? Sawyer recommends eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut, nori, kefir, tofu, tempeh, miso and natural yoghurt, which replenish good bacteria – and therefore support weight loss. She also suggests including seaweed in your diet. The iodine content is good for preventing thyroid problems such as an underactive thyroid, which can encourage weight gain rather than loss.


“At every main meal, make a minimum of half your plate a raw green salad,” says Nosh Detox founder Geeta Sidhu-Robb. “This increases fibre in your diet, makes your gut healthier and increases elimination.”


“Snacking is important as it maintains your metabolic rate and staves off awful hunger pangs – which can sometimes lead to temptation,” says Woods. “The key is to snack often, but ensure that you are eating healthy snacks in small portions. For example, mid-morning have a small handful of nuts, which are a rich source of protein to help you stay fuller for longer. Then mid-afternoon, have an oat biscuit or two with a generous topping of avocado, cream cheese or hummus. I also like to wind down in the afternoon with an antioxidant-rich, caffeine-free Redbush tea and I keep snacks like nuts, seeds, fruit and water in my car or handbag in case I get cravings while I’m on the go.”


“When we’re taking in less calories and working the body harder with exercise, you need additional nutrients to keep energy levels high,” says Sawyer. “The multivitamins in the Alive! range contain good levels of iodine as well as all essential vitamins and minerals, plus they are packed with 26 fruit and vegetables and are the only supplement to contain fruit, vegetables and green blends as well as multi-vitamins and multi-minerals.”


You’ve limited time so your exercise programme is going to need even harder for you. Which means? You want to choose workouts that are going to up the afterburn effect so you burn extra calories even when your session is over. On your marks, get set.


“Functional and HIIT workouts increase the amount of calories burned both during and after exercise through a process called EPOC – excess post exercise oxygen consumption,” says Lawrance. “This means the body continues to burn calories for hours after the training session, leading to greater weight and fat loss. The blend of functional movements such squats, lunges, push, pull and twisting, combined with high intensity intervals using weights, rowers, sleds, battle ropes, bodyweight, spin bikes, kettlebells and more, means you get a full body workout and there is no reduction in muscle mass, which can happen if you do long runs or bike rides.”


“Boxing is becoming more popular either outside with a partner (or trainer) or in a gym with punch bags,” says Sawyer. “And there’s a reason. Boxing is an all-body workout and a real heart-rate raiser, which can boost your metabolism all day. Try exercising first thing in the morning on an empty stomach for even greater gains.”

You won’t be the only one. Here are 7 celebrities who do boxing already. If it’s good enough for Gigi…


“Pilates strengthens and stretches the body from the inside by activating the deeper postural muscles that wouldn’t otherwise be activated during harder or more dynamic workouts,” says Eleonora Sansoni, an instructor at the new holistic wellness boutique, Maître of Thyme. “Regular and consistent Reformer Pilates training can lead to an increase in fitness levels and muscle tone by improving the muscle tone of both the deeper and more superficial muscles.”

Related: How to lose weight in six weeks – expert reveals diet plan tips

Weight loss can make you feel better and look better, and with the summer months rolling in many Britons will be looking to lose weight.

Many will be hoping they can lose weight fast, and now one expert have revealed a number of tips to help you do just that in only six weeks.

Whatever diet you aim to follow, or exercise you enjoy, there is one big psychological work out you need to do in order to get weight loss on track.

According to Healthspan’s clinical psychologist Dr Jen Nash, you need to discover your ‘big why’.

The expert told Women’s Health that identifying the motivation behind the weight loss with prevent dieters from giving up.

She said: “This is the magic ingredient to get you through those moments when you’re tempted to get off track.”

The expert added: “What’s the reason you’ve decided to embark on this six-week regime? Is it a ‘moving away from’ goal to avoid something you don’t want, like a health condition getting worse or looking bad on the beach?

“Or a ‘moving towards’ goal – feeling great in your clothes again, or confident for an event?

“Anchor your Big Why with a physical reminder – a photo, an inspiring word or phrase you can put on your home screen and pull out when you need a shot of motivation.”

The NHS also provides a 12 week weight loss guide for those looking to lose weight with more time to spare.

The NHS tips for weight loss include eating lots of carbs and tracking how much you are eating.

It said: “Eat the right amount of calories for how active you are, so that you balance the energy you consume with the energy you use.

“If you eat or drink too much, you’ll put on weight. If you eat and drink too little, you’ll lose weight.

“It is recommended that men have around 2,500 calories a day (10,500 kilojoules). Women should have around 2,000 calories a day (8,400 kilojoules).”

How much pasta should you eat every week to lose weight?

Experts have claimed that eating pasta will help you lose weight, according to a new large scale study of almost 2,500 people.

This is because pasta is different to other carbohydrates, because of its low GI status.

Another weight loss diet trick can help you lose weight, and it doesn’t even involve eating less.

Weight loss can be helped by quitting smoking, scientists at Yale University have found.

While it was once thought that smoking could help dieters stay slim by dulling down their appetite, smokers actually have far worse diets that former-smokers or non-smokers.


3-Day Abs Workout for a Shredded Six-Pack

A study came out years ago showing that certain infomercial devices activated the core better than traditional situps. What did I do? Ignored it, of course—after all, it was infomercial stuff. The problem was, the study appeared in the Journal of the American Physical Therapy Association, which is a pretty big deal. So I researched and found that all the infomercial gadgets that scored higher than the situp were basic versions of the ab wheel rollout or plank. Then, a study came out showing that a group in the military that focused on planks and side planks outperformed a group that focused on situps—in a situp test!

It became clear to me that various forms of stabilization, not traditional abs exercises, are the key to developing stronger abs. Read on, and I’ll share what I’ve discovered about how your midsection really works and the way you need to train it.


The primary purpose of the core—the muscles of the abdomen, including the abs, lower back, and lats—is not to flex the spine, as in crunches and situps, but to stabilize it, preventing the spine from moving. Stuart McGill, a leading expert on lower-back pain, has repeatedly shown that you can work your core more intensely with stability training than with traditional flexion exercises. It’s also safer, because flexing the lumbar spine is the exact same action that can ultimately lead to disc herniation. Let me be 100% clear: I believe so strongly in training stabilization over flexion that I don’t have my clients do any situp or crunch variations anymore. At my training facility, we’ve further broken down core work into three distinct categories:

The goal here is just to keep your spine straight, so it’s as simple as holding a plank, or side plank, for time. Progressions would include elevating the feet, reducing the base of support (try raising one elbow and the opposite foot off the floor), introducing instability (such as resting your elbows on a Swiss ball), or holding for a longer time.

This is a bit of a misnomer, since dynamic means “moving” and stabilization means “don’t move.” But it also may best describe the true purpose of the core: to stabilize the spine while the extremities are moving. Sample exercises are a front plank with pulldown combo (get into a plank in front of a low cable pulley or resistance band, and pull the handle toward you), ab wheel rollout, mountain climber, and half-kneeling cable chop.

The goal is always to allow zero movement in the spine or core. The core muscles have to control the forces from the extremities and stabilize accordingly. With mountain climbers, for instance, there can be no lumbar flexion at all (the lower back cannot round, a common problem).

This is where we do traditional exercises with a twist—for example, using one dumbbell instead of two in a lunge or shoulder press. Basically, we off set the center of gravity and force the core to work harder than it would with a traditional exercise. Sample movements would be suitcase walks (a farmer’s walk, like strongmen do, but holding only one dumbbell), Turkish getups, and various lunges and presses with uneven loads (one heavier dumbbell in one hand or weight on one side and not the other).

That’s it. Designing your core workouts with exercises that fit these categories is an effective way to strengthen your abs and build an injury-resistant lower back. They can be used as a single progression—one month you could focus only on pure stabilization, work on dynamic movements the next month, and then finally do integrated stabilization exercises the month after—or as a separate focus on each of your training days. I recommend doing all core exercises, except the ones in the integrated stabilization category, at the start of your workouts before you train other muscle groups.

How to Lose Weight Fast – Seven Ways to Burn Fat for Quicker Weight Loss

You Asked: What’s the Best Way to Lose Weight?.


Eating sugary foods might be satisfying in the moment, but they can increase your cravings for more sugary foods in the future — and that only leads to trouble. “Many foods high in added sugar are also higher in calories and fill you up less than lower-calorie, still-sweet alternatives like fruit,” says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. But there are still ways to satisfy your sweet tooth without ODing on sugar. “When you’re baking, cut out some of the sugar in recipes by adding in vanilla


It’s easy to overdo it when you’re eating something delicious — and that’s why it’s good to focus on foods that will force you to slow down. “Slowing down can help you check in with your hunger levels. For that reason, I love snacking on 100-calorie packs of in-shell pistachios,” Gorin says. “Shelling the pistachios helps you slow down your snacking, and the shells leave a visual cue to remind you of how much you’ve eaten. Because you’re more in tune with what’s gone into your mouth, you may be less likely to have extra servings.” In one preliminary


There’s a reason you’ve been hearing so much about cutting meat out of your diet lately. It’s not just great for your body, but also a quick way to shed some extra pounds. “Consider swapping a few meat-centric meals each week for ones centered around vegetarian proteins — or give a full-fledged vegetarian diet a try if that’s of interest to you,” Gorin says. “Research shows eating a vegetarian diet may boost and speed up weight loss, resulting in a loss of up to 10 pounds.” Gorin recommends topping a salad or

If you ever needed an excuse to eat more avocados, this is it. People tend to steer clear of healthy fats when they’re trying to lose weight, but they might just be the solution. Studies show that by simply adding some avocado to your lunch every day, it’ll fill you up enough that you won’t be mindlessly munching on junk food later. “Slice one in half, sprinkle a little sea salt, and eat the inside with a spoon,” says Alexandra Samit, a Be Well Health Coach at Dr. Frank Lipman’s Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in NYC.


Fighting constantly with your S.O.? It’s time to address your issues head-on. “Research has shown that cortisol, the hormone that’s released during stressful activity, is linked to fat storage,” says Gina Guddet, couples counselor and co-author of Love Metabolism. “And poor communication between couples is the most common type of stress that you tend to experience.”


Meal prepping takes a few hours a week, but it’s worth it: By getting your meals ready ahead of time, you won’t be so tempted to order your go-to Chinese takeout when you’re tired and hungry after work. “When you plan an entire week of dinner in advance, you’re way less likely to go off course and indulge in foods that aren’t good for you,” says Pamela Salzman, a certified holistic health expert and cooking instructor. And since you planned things out, you’ll actually get the protein, fruit, and veggies your body needs.


A new German study found that when you drink 17 ounces of water (about two glasses) within a certain time frame, your metabolic rate shoots up by about 30 percent. Using these results, they estimate that by increasing your current water intake by 1.5 liters a day, a person would burn an extra 17,400 calories a year, resulting in about a five-pound weight loss.

Fitness Program improves quality of life

Older adults experienced less pain, reduced stiffness and less fatigue after participating in a hospital-based exercise program, researchers report. “The study adds to the growing body of evidence that exercise can help people with muscle and joint conditions,” said one clinician.

It may seem counterintuitive, but exercise can be beneficial for people suffering from arthritis and other muscle and joint conditions. A new study at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) finds that older adults experienced less pain, reduced stiffness and less fatigue after participating in a hospital-based exercise program.

“The study adds to the growing body of evidence that exercise can help people with muscle and joint conditions,” said Sandra Goldsmith, MA, MS, RD, director of Public and Patient Education at Hospital for Special Surgery.

Up to 50 million adults in the United States have some type of musculoskeletal condition, affecting mobility and quality of life. Ms. Goldsmith and colleagues set out to assess the impact of HSS exercise classes on pain, stiffness, fatigue, balance, falls and physical activity.

A total of 1,400 adults participated in various exercise programs at the hospital during the course of the study, which began in 2011. The low-cost classes, led by certified instructors, included pilates mat, therapeutic yoga, yoga-lates (a combination of yoga and pilates), t’ai chi and dance. Classes met once each week and were open to the general public.

“Our data indicate that hospital-based programs can play an important role in pain relief, improved quality of life and improved levels of physical activity in older individuals with musculoskeletal conditions,” Ms. Goldsmith said. The research was presented at the American Public Health Association annual meeting in November.

“Often patients with musculoskeletal disease are more deconditioned than their disease-free counterparts. Strengthening the muscles around an arthritic joint has been shown to slow the progression of osteoarthritis and reduce pain,” said Linda Russell, MD, a rheumatologist and member of the Community Benefit & Services Committee of the Board of Trustees at Hospital for Special Surgery.

The majority of participants in the exercise program were age 75 or older. Thirty-six percent were 75 to 84 years old; 31.2 percent were over age 85; 24.8 percent were age 65 to 84; and eight percent were under 65. Ninety-two percent were women.

A total of 204 individuals handed in questionnaires both before and after completing the program. Survey results covered September 2011 to July 2014.

The study found that after taking the classes, fewer participants reported experiencing a high level of muscle/joint pain from their condition (56 percent before the program started vs. 47 percent after completing the program). The study also reported statistically significant reductions in how much their pain interfered with their general activities, ability to walk, mood, sleep and enjoyment of life.

Eighty-three percent of participants indicated a reduction in stiffness; eighty-two percent said they felt their balance improved; and sixty-seven percent said they experienced less fatigue as a result of taking part in the program.

Health outcomes were also related to the type of exercise class participants chose, with the greatest reduction in muscle/joint pain reported by those who took t’ai chi. “The survey results indicate that the hospital’s exercise programs have a positive impact on the musculoskeletal health of participants,” said Ms. Goldsmith. “Hospital for Special Surgery will continue to offer these programs to this community to help them stay active, decrease pain and improve their overall health.”

How to Lose Weight: 10 Ways to Drop 5 Pounds in a Week

How to lose weight quickly and sustainably with no hunger, no calorie counting, no magic products and no exercise, eating real food.

WITH SO MANY “get ripped yesterday” and “lose 50 pounds by tomorrow” schemes out there, it’s tempting to keep looking for that easy way to lean out. But, even extreme plans that seem to work for a while are fraught with trouble.

The reality: If you really want to be a slimmer you, you’ll be making some habit changes in terms of how you eat and move.

“Lifestyle changes are the best way to improve health and manage weight long term,” says Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program and editor of The Mayo Clinic Diet Book and The Mayo Clinic Cookbook Here are some of the most effective tips and tricks for changing your lifestyle and droppping those extra pounds.

1. Stop “dieting”

The good news: If you really want to succeed, you won’t be going on a diet. “When someone undertakes a program with the typical approach to diet, they do something that’s very restrictive and drudgery but they think, ‘If I can just do this until I lose the weight, I’ll be fine.’” Hensrud says. “But if it’s negative and restrictive, it’s temporary.” The potentially less-good news (if you’re resistant to change): You will likely have to modify what you eat, how much you eat, or (probably) both.

2. Think quality

“Accept that calories count.” Hensrud says. “This is basic, but there are many fads out there that say they don’t.” By the numbers, one pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. So in order to lose a pound per week, you’d have to reduce your calorie intake by 500 calories a day. This doesn’t mean that you need to count every morsel that goes into your mouth (though if you’re into that sort of thing, feel free).

Rather, you need to understand calorie density versus nutrient density. Foods that are calorie-dense tend to be high in fat (after all, there are 9 calories per gram of it) and/or full of “empty” calories—as in, ones that don’t provide much nutrition (sorry, French fries, candy bars, and soda). On the other hand, nutrient-dense foods have lots of good vitamins and minerals for their calorie load. The best ones also have fiber, protein, and/or “good” fat content, which will keep you fuller longer (which is another reason that sugar-laden juice should probably be limited). Hello, veggies, fruits, whole grains, lean fish, chicken, beans, and nuts.

3. Eat the best foods for weight loss

Vegetables are particularly nutrient dense, especially those that are vividly colored, like dark greens and bright red tomatoes. Greens like kale and cruciferous veggies like broccoli and Brussels sprouts are high in fiber, which will fill you up.

Fruit is a great choice, too, and though it is higher in sugar, the fiber content tends to offset that in terms of preventing a blood sugar spike. The color rule applies here, too, with brilliant berries leading the pack in terms of nutrient density. Still, watch your portions if your main goal is weight loss.

Whole grains are fiber-rich and provide necessary nutrients such as B vitamins and magnesium, and yes, even protein. Wheat, oats, and brown rice may be most common, but get creative with quinoa (a particularly good source of protein), amaranth, buckwheat, and teff.

Lean fish, such as wild-caught salmon, rainbow trout, and sardines are low in mercury and high in Omega 3s and, of course, protein.

Boneless, skinless chicken breast is one of the best bangs for your buck in terms of protein content, with 27 grams in a 4-ounce serving.

Beans are both low in calories yet very filling, being high in fiber and protein (how’s that for nutrient-dense?). Top choices include black beans, kidney beans, lentils, and chickpeas—but really any are worth your while.

Nuts are best enjoyed in moderation on account of their relatively high fat content, which makes them more caloric ounce for ounce than other healthy picks. Stick to the serving sizes (usually an ounce) and you’ll reap the benefits of their wide array of nutrients and their satiating abilities. Especially good picks are almonds, cashews, and pistachios.

Here’s our comprehensive list of the 103 best foods for weight loss, according to nutritionists.

4. Re-think quantity

OK, so you’re not dieting. That means that, yes, you can actually have those French fries. Just probably not every day. Consider quantity as a sliding scale, from limited fries and candy to unlimited veggies, and fill in from there with moderate portions of meat and beans (for protein), whole grains, and low-fat dairy. (The government is onto something with that whole MyPlate thing.) “An extreme example: If someone ate only 600 calories of jelly beans a day, yes, they’d lose weight, but not support their health,” says Hensrud. But they’d be pretty hungry and unsatisfied once the 60 or so jelly beans (or 150 smaller Jelly Bellys) were gone. (Note: We’re also not suggesting 600 as your target calorie count, but you get what we’re saying.)

5. Don’t eat these diet-busting foods:

Candy. Kinda a no-brainer, since it’s either all sugar or sugar and fat. Still need your sweet fix? Get down with fun size—and stick to one at a time.

Pastries. A combo of sugar, fat, and refined flour—yeah, not so great for the waistline. And, unfortunately, that danish containing apples or the pie made of blueberries aren’t any better.

Deep-fried…anything. Oil soaking into those potatoes and breadings might taste great… but it’s not filling and certainly won’t help you towards your weight loss goals.

Chips. Ones that are fried or cheese-powder-coated certainly don’t scream good for you, but even the ones that purport to be “healthy” by being baked or made of, say, sweet potatoes, still are mostly empty calories.

White bread. The grains have been de-germed, rendering white bread fairly nutrient-sparse. Many are fortified (for that reason), but it’s generally better to get your nutrients from their natural, original source.

6. Try 80-20

As noted, deprivation doesn’t work long term. That’s why Nathane Jackson, C.S.C.S., R.H.N,, a health and wellness coach and founder of Nathane Jackson Fitness, recommends his clients follow the 80-20 rule: 80% of your calories should come from fresh, whole “single-ingredient” foods that you eat in largely the form in which they grow in nature (produce, meat, nuts, etc.). The other 20% can be of the more “processed” variety, in which he includes foods that have a place in a healthy diet, such as whole-grain bread. Of that 20, he says 5 to 10% can be from the junk food column. But “don’t have chocolate or ice cream in the house,” he says. “Rig the game so you can win, rather that relying on willpower. If you want it, you can go get it, but make it an effort to do so.”

7. Look at the big picture

After reading all that, you may still think you have some major dietary changes to make. Before you freak out, start by taking inventory of exactly what you’re eating, including portion size. An app like MyFitnessPal can make logging easier, with its extensive database, barcode scanner, and “memory” of most-used foods (we’re creatures of habit, after all). If you’re not good at estimating how much you ate (and studies show that most people aren’t), measure your food until you’re better at eyeballing it. And don’t ignore the calories you drink (soda, juice, beer), which Jackson says are easy ones to cut down on right off the bat. Once you know where you’re starting, you can make changes—slowly. “Try adding one more serving of fruit and one more of veggies, and one less of meat each day,” suggest Hensrud. Gradually, the goal is to have the nutrient-dense foods you add crowd out the calorie-dense ones you should limit, so you can eat plenty of food and feel full but consume fewer overall calories.

8. Move more

When it comes to weight loss, what you eat (and don’t eat) is far more important than your exercise plan. However, the more you move, the more calories you’ll burn, which will set you up for greater success. Also, you’ll develop fitness habits that will be essential for maintaining that weight loss once you reach your goal. If you’ve been totally sedentary, that means starting by getting up off your duff more. Set a timer to go off every 50 minutes and stand up, walk around, move a little. Studies have shown time and again that people who are naturally thinner move more—up to two hours a day. This timer deal will get you there.

9. Add in exercise

Just like you won’t overhaul your diet, you don’t need to suddenly become a gym rat. We’re aiming for sustainable activity here, so if you go from zero to five days a week at the gym, eventually you’re going to burn out. A more manageable goal, Jackson says, is to ramp up your activity slowly, starting with a half-hour walk every day. Then, he suggests some strength training two to three times per week to retain muscle as you lose fat. Choose multi-joint movements like squats, pushups, overhead presses, and rows—”your biceps are a small muscle, so they don’t burn a ton of calories,” Jackson says—and allow yourself plenty of rest between sets at first. “Working out too intensely at first can affect your appetite and energy, so finding a balance is key,” he says. A great circuit could include two or three sets, with 8-12 reps each and a few minutes rest between, of the following exercises:

– Squats
– Supported Rows
– Step-Ups
– Overhead Presses
– Glute Bridges
– Incline Pushups

10. Ramp up the cardio

Once some of the weight is gone and you’re feeling stronger, you can increase your strength-training intensity, taking shorter breaks between the exercises, which will increase the aerobic benefits. You may also add in one or two higher-impact cardio days, such as incline walking or running, cycling, or rowing. Start with steady-state workouts, where you go at the same pace for a half hour to 45 minutes, then play with intervals of exertion and recovery, which are higher intensity and have more calorie-burning benefits. Keep the higher-impact portion shorter than the recovery at first—say 30 seconds or a minute on, 1 to 3 minutes off—and then gradually decrease the recovery. When you’re ready, you can then increase the push until you’re at even time.

Canada guy finds bulging lump on his hand after dentist trip

A pulsing lesion on a young man’s hand proved to be an unusual clue that a cardiac infection called endocarditis was insidiously spreading through his body.

The medical puzzle unfolded after the 27-year-old patient arrived at a Canadian emergency room with an oddly painful and pulsing palm, abdominal pain, and complaints of a six-week history of fever, night sweats, decreased appetite, and a 12-kilogram (26-pound) weight loss.

(Life tip: If you experience these severe symptoms, please seek medical care sooner.)

Physicians, who later reported the case to The New England Journal of Medicine, immediately began a series of examinations that revealed a worrisome heart murmur and abnormally high amounts of white blood cells. Upon closer inspection of the heart using an echocardiogram, the doctors found a large mass partially blocking the aortic valve.

CT scans showed that the mysterious lump was actually an ulnar-artery mycotic aneurysm – a swollen area on one of the hand’s main blood vessels – and that tissue in the spleen and one of the kidneys had died due to lack of oxygen.

Taken together, the diverse symptoms pointed clearly to endocarditis, a condition that arises when bacteria circulating throughout the bloodstream become attached to the lining of heart valves in clumps called vegetations. These vegetations can break off and travel through the arteries until they become wedged in place – forming an aneurysm.

In the meantime, smaller pockets of infection distributed throughout the body send the immune system into overdrive, leading to the flu-like symptoms of night sweats and weight loss.

A culture of blood taken when the patient first came to the hospital later identified the bacterial culprit as a strain of Streptococcus commonly found in the mouth.

As to how the patient developed a potentially deadly infection, the physicians highlight the well-known pathway wherein bacteria in the mouth are introduced into the bloodstream through openings in the gums and teeth created by poor oral hygiene and dental procedures. This can transport species that are harmless to the digestive tract into an internal environment where they can cause a real damage.

Thankfully, endocarditis rarely occurs due to bad flossing habits or an occasional root canal alone.

People with congenital heart defects or cardiac implants are at much higher risk for the infection because they have unusual anatomy, scar tissue, or medical devices that allows bacteria to stick onto their valves more easily.

The unfortunate patient was a three strikes scenario: In addition to a history of both neglected gums and a recent dental procedure, he had been living with an undiagnosed yet mild heart irregularity. His aorta, the site of his endocarditis clump, has only two valves instead of the normal three.

After surgeries to replace the aorta and repair the ulnar aneurysm, plus a course of antibiotics, the patient made a full recovery. In the future, his condition will necessitate that he takes antibiotics prior to going to the dentist.

Why you should drink coffee before a workout, Study

You’ve seen that person before: Strolling into the gym with a Starbucks cup in hand, then proceeding to bust out a PR on their deadlift. Or the one sipping their coffee mug before acing a sprint workout on the treadmill. Turns out they’ve been onto something. Research shows that downing a cup of joe before your sweat sesh can boost your performance.

But First, Coffee…

“Caffeine is a stimulant that acts on the central nervous system, the heart, and possibly the ‘center’ that controls blood pressure,” all of which play a vital role in helping your mind and body push harder in a workout, says Heidi Skolnik, M.S., a sports nutritionist and owner of Nutrition Conditioning, Inc. “It can also increase the release of feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine, which effects pain receptors and mood” while you’re working out.

In other words, you’ll actually enjoy getting sweaty and it will feel easier when you’re powering through those last few reps. Plus, researchers found that when people caffeinated before a workout, they ate 72 fewer calories later in the day and had an easier time keeping cravings in check. Not a bad deal. Here’s how you, too, can make the most of your next brew.

If You’re a Morning Exerciser…

Enjoy an a.m. cappuccino before the gym? Skolnik says timing can play an important role in your overall performance. “Caffeine is quickly absorbed from the stomach within 15 to 45 minutes of consumption, but it hits its peak stimulatory effects between 30 and 75 minutes,” she says. Drinking a cup about one hour before you work out is optimal, Skolnik says.

You’ll want more fluids than just an eight-ounce mug of joe to get adequately prepped, though. Chasing your brew with some water is key if you’re not getting to your workout right away. “Coffee counts as a fluid,” says Skolnik, but you’ll still want some additional liquid in your tank. If you have an hour or two before your workout, pair your java with seven to 12 ounces of water.

Just remember: Too much caffeine can have a laxative effect, Skolnik says. (Obviously, not an ideal situation to find yourself in.) OD’ing on coffee can also lead to dehydration, so keep an eye on how many cups you’re downing. (To check your hydration status, look at the color of your urine — the deeper the color, the more dehydrated you are.)

And if you usually take your coffee black, you might want to consider adding milk to your mug. Whether you choose real dairy or soy, you’ll get an extra hit of protein and carbs. Those nutrients can help boost blood sugar after a night of sleep, and can also rev your mental engine to help get your head around tough tasks (think: box jumps), Skolnik adds.

If You Work Out at Night…

Bad news for night owls: If you lace up more often in the afternoon or evening, you might have to miss out on the workout-boosting benefits of coffee. Caffeine stays in your system for four to six hours after drinking, says Skolnik. But it affects everyone differently. Having some before your 7 p.m. workout may be just fine, whereas your running BFF could do the exact same thing and find herself unable to sleep at 1a.m. Researchers think that’s because a person’s genetic makeup, body weight and age all play a role in how our enzymes break down caffeine.

Whatever you do, don’t sacrifice sleep for a caffeine fix. Shut-eye is “imperative for recovery, appetite regulation and more,” says Skolnik. If you’re unable to fall asleep at your desired bedtime, then she suggests skipping the stimulant or switching to a.m. workouts.

That said, you can also try changing your roast for a shorter-lasting buzz. Dark roast coffee can have less caffeine than a light one. (Smaller light roasted beans mean you get more beans, i.e. more caffeine, per scoop.) Cold brew coffee tends to have less caffeine, too. Tea is another option that can provide less of a jolt — black tea has 14 to 70 mg of caffeine in an eight-ounce cup compared to 95 to 200 mg in the same size cup of coffee.

Skolnik says most people only need 250 to 300 mg of caffeine per day to feel its performance-enhancing effect (though it varies based on your body weight and your fitness goals). So opting for a smaller dose could be the best way to get the biggest bang for your, er, mug without foregoing coffee completely.

Study: Poor moms breastfeed for shorter time

A new study has found that mothers of babies in households with food insecurity are less likely to breastfeed exclusively for the recommended six months after birth.

The study, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that half of the women who lived in households with food insecurity — inadequate or unpredictable access to food because of financial issues — stopped giving their baby only breast milk by the time the child was two months of age.

Of mothers in homes where food security was not an issue, fewer than 40 per cent stopped.

The researchers, including associate professor Lesley Frank of Acadia University’s sociology department, used data from 10,450 women who participated in the Canadian Community Health Survey between 2005 and 2014.

Of those respondents, 17 per cent lived in households with some level of food insecurity.

The study found that most women initiated breastfeeding: 91.6 per cent of those with food security, 88.8 per cent of those with marginal food insecurity, 83.3 per cent of those with moderate food insecurity and 86 per cent of those with severe food insecurity.

Stopping exclusive breastfeeding can be problematic because infants and babies may miss out on the physical and emotional benefits, but formula-feeding is an additional financial burden for families.

“It seems kind of counter-intuitive that a mom who lives in a food-insecure household would not breastfeed,” Frank said Tuesday.

While the study only looked at the association between food insecurity status and the initiation of breastfeeding and length of time of exclusive breastfeeing, Frank has spent years studying the reasons women with limited finances stop.

“It is the question that comes to mind when people hear the results,” she said. “It doesn’t seem logical.”

She said that in interviewing women across the province as part of her own research, she found that the two main reasons for wanting to breastfeed was because they believed it was the best option for the baby’s health, and because they felt it was the only affordable option.

“These two reasons go hand-in-hand,” Frank said. “Food insecurity was also, though, the driving factor to why they might stop early, which is what was quantified in this paper that was just released.”

She said women would stop because they were food insecure themselves, “and women have a tendency to prioritize the feeding of everyone else in the household before themselves as part of their ethic of mothering and caring and being responsible for the feeding in the home, so they’re the last to eat.”

She said women were also nutritionally concerned about the quality of their breast milk if they weren’t eating very much themselves.

“I haven’t done a medical study. I don’t know the physiological pathways that might lead to the experience of mothers feeling they have a poor milk supply either in amount or quality,” Frank said. “There hasn’t been a lot of research on that in high-income countries.”

She said food insecurity could be a stress factor as well.

“Prolonged exposure to stress has biological implications that we’re increasingly becoming aware of,” she said. “Whether it’s a perception of theirs about their milk, or whether it’s a reality, doesn’t really matter because it all leads to the same end: that they stop breastfeeding.”

That means their milk supply decreases and they move on to infant formula either exclusively or as a supplement, which is not really affordable for someone with financial restrictions.

Frank said that leads to mothers prioritizing the purchase of formula at the expense of other people in the household.

“You can supplement the diets of other people in the household from food charity sources in a way that you can’t often with formula.”

She said mothers can’t get formula often through charities, “and if you can get it at a food bank it’s kind of random and haphazard, and mothers are always switching the type of formula that they can get for free from wherever. That causes all kinds of other negative health outcomes.”

The authors of the study released Monday, which also includes researchers from the University of Toronto and Public Health Ontario, said their findings “raise serious questions about the adequacy of existing supports for mothers vulnerable to food insecurity.”

Frank said infant food security depends on maternal food security.

“Mothers need to be able to eat to be productive producers of food,” she said. “We need to support the work of feeding the baby economically.”

She said maternity leave, which only covers a bit more than half a mother’s pay, does not help, and for someone only making minimum wage, extended parental leave “only means that you’re poor longer.

“It’s a serious problem. If we’re expecting mothers to be responsible to feed infants through their bodies, we need them to be economically secure and able to do that.”

She said she thinks the solutions are income-based.

“It’s not making food banks better and having access to formula in food banks. That is not the organization that should be dealing with this issue,” she said.

Better access to maternity leave, or income supplement programs for new and expecting mothers, would be helpful, she said. There are some in Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador, but there is no national program for access to food for infants.

Such programs are available in the United Kingdom and the United States, she said.