People usually go on a diet to lose weight, but weight loss is easier said that done. It takes hard work and usually weeks of healthy eating to see results. And, if you’ve been dieting for a while and not seeing the results you were hoping for, it’s understandable that you’d get fed up with the whole process.
Now, new research suggests there’s an easier way to lose weight, and it involves ditching your diet entirely—for set periods of time, at least. That’s the takeaway from a study published in the International Journal for Obesity.
For the study, which was a randomized clinical trial, researchers split obese participants into two groups who followed a 16-week diet that cut their normal calorie intake by a third. One group stayed on the diet for the full 16 weeks, while the other group followed the diet for two weeks, broke it for another two weeks and just tried to eat healthier, and went back on and off the diet in two week periods for a total of 30 weeks (to make sure they did 16 weeks of actual dieting).
The researchers found that people who dieted off and on lost
more weight that those who were all-in for 16 weeks.
Not only that, they gained less weight back after the dieting
period was over. Six months after wrapping up the diet, the off
and on group had an average weight loss of more than
17 pounds more than the group that followed the diet for
16 straight weeks. (Hit the reset button—and burn fat like
crazy with The Body Clock Diet!)
There’s no way around it: Long runs can be... long. Seriously, seriously long. But if you’re training for a race—whether it’s a 10K, a half-marathon, or the full 26—there’s no option to cut down the physical distance you have to traverse on those long-run days.
However, there are ways to make the time fly. Take it from ladies who spend their evenings and weekends logging miles. Use their tricks for taking the boring out of the distance and you’ll (dare we say it) speed through that lengthy date with the pavement.
LOOP AROUND AN AREA YOU LOVE
“One trick I use to spice up my long run is to pick a destination where I either have a landmark I want to see or an errand to run and create a running loop based on that. The goal of seeing that landmark or completing the errand gives the run extra purpose. I currently live in Boston, so one destination I venture to is Fenway Park—creating a route from my neighborhood to Fenway allows me to see a good deal of the city and makes the run feel more like a tourist experience than a chore.” —Samantha Scarpato, 29, a sales and marketing director in Boston, MA
BUILD A POWER PLAYLIST
"Long runs can be daunting when race training... especially if your weekly program leaves you logging miles on the weekend. That being said, training can be a little less stressful when paired with a power playlist to tackle each mile. I have found this to be the catalyst in getting me out on the road and genuinely excited to log miles. My method? Spend the time curating a power playlist throughout the week in an effort to set the tone (and tempo) of your anticipated run." —Ali Martillotta, 27, publicist in New York City
MENTALLY SPLIT UP YOUR RUNS
“I call my 16-miler my four, four-milers which sounds easier mentally. Then, after each four-miler, I have a focused activity that gives me a rest period. For example, at mile four I refill my water bottle; at mile eight, I eat a peanut butter and jelly; at mile 12, I take a bathroom break and get more water; and mile 16, I make a recover my smoothie.” —Rebecca Scritchfield, 40, author of Body Kindness based in Washington D.C.
REPEAT A MANTRA
“I have a super dumb, embarrassing mantra that I repeat when I get really tired and think I can't keep going. I've never told anyone and only repeat it in my head but I'll say that it follows a popular Dr Seuss rhyme... with profanity. I've added on to it over the years so it's pretty long now. It's silly but it really does help me to chant it, especially when I'm exhausted.” —Charlotte Anderson, 38, writer based in Denver, CO
MAKE IT A ONE-WAY TRIP
“I bring my phone, credit card, and a subway pass (I usually put it in a SPIbelt), and plan to end the run at my endpoint for the day. For me it's sometimes a grocery store, because I never have time to get errands done, or even home in North Jersey to cut out my commute from work. On the weekend, you can also head somewhere fun, where you don't mind being sweaty for a little bit!” —Meggie Sullivan, 29, communications manager in New York City
TAKE IT INDOORS
“Treadmill classes are all the rage right now, and it’s the perfect opportunity to bring your running into a group fitness setting, with a coach to motivate you the whole way! Equinox offers the only method-driven program in the industry, Precision Running. You will be coached through a patterned flow of constantly changing speeds, time, and incline to run smarter, hurt less, and ignite potential! There is never a dull moment!” —Ali Baldassare, 32, group fitness manager at Equinox Franklin Street in Boston, MA.
TRY A RADIO SHOW
“I started listening to replays of my favorite funny radio show rather than music! Not sure why, but I find it feels more entertaining than music and distracts me from the actual running. Replays of the Elvis Duran Morning Show on a local radio in NYC can be streamed on iHeart Radio nationally and I have been listening to them for about 15 years! I was never really a runner and once I joined the gym I really needed to find something that would distract me...music just wasn't cutting it.” —Nicole Morelli, 28, marketing manager in New York City
LISTEN TO A BOOK
“I listen to books on tape. It's the only way I have time to exercise and read in the same day!” —Abby Gregor, 33, lawyer living in Newton, MA
The concept of a plank is pretty simple: You hold yourself up in a pushup position for a set period of time to tone your core, glutes, and hamstrings. But while you probably already know how to do a plank, you might be hazy on how long you should actually hold one to max out results.
The answer is not as simple as you think. Albert Matheny, R.D., C.S.C.S., co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab and advisor to Promix Nutrition, says you can plank daily, but the length of time you should hold a plank for can vary from 10 seconds to a minute. Here’s why: Your form matters most. “Keeping perfect form is goal—only do it as long as you can keep this,” Matheny says.
As a general guideline, Doug Sklar, a certified personal trainer and founder of PhilanthroFIT in New York City, recommends striving to do three sets of up to 60 seconds. “It’s OK to start with shorter sets and work up to 60 seconds,” he says.
Plus, shorter planks can still give you a solid workout, Sklar says. If you’re more into shorter sessions, he suggests holding a plank for 10 seconds, relaxing for five to 10 seconds, then re-engaging for 10 seconds, and repeating for three to six sets.
“You receive very similar strengthening benefits because you are engaging your muscles for the same amount of total time as if you just held the plank for 30 to 60 seconds without stopping,” he says.
A minute seems to be the ideal time frame. “Longer time under tension is more of a challenge,” Matheny says. But, he adds, if you can easily plank for a minute, you increase the difficulty by contracting your abs more, and squeezing your glutes and quads more. Or, you can try these 10 plank variations that'll help you mix up your workout routine:
Again, don’t push yourself to do it or hold a plank for even longer if you’re not ready. “Forcing yourself to hold a plank for an excessive amount of time can put a lot of strain on your lower back,” Sklar says. “As fatigue sets in, the lower back may start to arch. This is where you put yourself at risk for injury.”
So, plank when you can and do it as long as you can hold good form, for up to a minute. You should see great results. “When done correctly, planks can help strengthen almost your entire body,” Sklar says.
These common behaviors take a toll, inside and out.
Just like death and taxes, growing older is inevitable. But aging before your time? That’s something that can be under your control.
Turns out, many of the habits you do every day—some you probably don’t even recognize you’re doing—might be making you look way older than your years.
Nix these six habits from your routine, and watch the years slip off your mug.
The number one thing you can do to keep your skin looking young and healthy? Slather on the SPF, says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital.
“UV light exposure causes free radicals that damage collagen, elastin, and skin cells themselves. This leads to premature aging of the skin, with wrinkling, dark spots, and the development of skin cancers. Even short amounts of sun exposure on a daily basis add up over a lifetime,” he explains. (More on that in the video below.)
Case in point: When Australian researchers followed more than 900 people for four years, they found those who were instructed to apply—and properly reapply—sunscreen daily were 24 percent less likely to show signs of aging in their skin than people who weren’t given any SPF instructions.
Even using SPF 30 alone for 12 weeks is enough to visibly reverse the signs of UV-related skin damage, like uneven texture and pigmentation, according to a study published in Dermatologic Surgery. Looking for a great all-purpose choice? Check out Neuturogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry Touch SPF 100, suggests Dr. Zeichner.
Sleep not only maintains your sanity—it helps you look younger for longer, too.
Your skin cells function on a circadian rhythm, similar to the sleep-wake cycle that makes you tired at night and wakes you up in the morning, explains Dr. Zeichner.
Its nighttime function? Repairing the damage it endured during the day, he says, like being exposed to sunlight, pollution, or a breakout.
So when you skimp on sleep, that entire process is thrown off, and your skin can’t prep for the next day, says Dr. Zeichner. This stresses your skin out, throwing off the repair process, which ultimately leads to less healthy cells and premature aging.
Try to clock in at least eight hours a night, he suggests. Before you plop into your bed, make sure you apply moisturizer to your entire body, since your skin can get dehydrated as you sleep. Dry, inflamed skin doesn’t function properly, limiting its ability to heal itself overnight, says Dr. Zeichner. Try Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Lotion, he says. For your face, opt for one of these best moisturizers for your skin type.
Nearly 90 percent of Americans don’t eat the recommended 2 to 3 cups of vegetables a day, while 76 percent fail to eat enough fruit, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, several studies suggest that eating a balanced diet loaded with disease-fighting fruits and vegetables can help prevent damage that causes your skin to age too early, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
That’s because fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients, like antioxidants and vitamins, which help fight free radical damage and keep your skin cells healthy.
Research has shown that vitamin E specifically might help protect you your skin from UV damage, even out any pigmentation issues, and reduce inflammation, a review published in ISRN Dermatology notes.
Vitamins A, C, and B3 are also great for your skin, according to research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, since they may help prevent collagen breakdown, produce and maintain elasticity, and reduce hyperpigmentation, respectively.
Some fruits and vegetables to consider for your grocery list that fit the bill? Dark leafy greens like spinach, sweet potatoes, oranges, red peppers, strawberries, asparagus, and mushrooms.
That donut does damage beyond your waistline. Starchy, sugary foods—like white bread, ice cream, and potato chips—can cause all sorts of problems with your face, too. That’s because they spike your blood sugar levels, which can ignite inflammation and spur acne breakouts, says Dr. Zeichner.
Dealing with pimple after pimple can lead to permanent scarring, either in the form of a depressed or raised bump in the skin caused by damaged collagen, he explains. Even if they go away, you might deal with brown and red marks, similar to sun spots that tend to make you look older. They will fade over time, but not keeping your acne in check will continue to spur that cycle. (Here's how to get rid of acne scars.)
Plus, eating too much of the sweet stuff can lead to glycation, a process in which sugar molecules attach to your collagen, or the main building blocks of your skin, says Dr. Zeichner. This makes your collagen hard and less flexible, promoting premature wrinkling.
To make matters worse, dark sugary drinks like soda and sweetened coffee can also damage and stain your teeth, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), which is often a sign of one too many years under your belt.
Have a hard time fighting that sweet tooth? Here are four smart ways to kill a sugar craving.
Before your light another cigarette, keep in mind that your lungs aren’t the only part of your body paying a painful price.
Smoking tobacco can make you look older, faster. The proof? After researchers compared the facial features of 79 sets of twins—in which one twin currently smoked or smoked five years longer than his or her double—they found that those who puffed on cigs experienced greater eye bags, more lip wrinkles, and jowls, according to a study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
And it’s not just your face that bears the damage. Other parts of your body, like your inner arms, may start to wrinkle, too. One potential reason? “Smoking decreases delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your skin by constricting blood vessels and cutting off circulation,” says Dr. Zeichner.
Plus, tobacco is loaded with chemicals that may harm your collagen and elastin, the Mayo Clinic says, both of which are crucial for a youthful looking mug. On top of that, smoking can also do a number on your mouth, since it can cause periodontal disease—which may lead to tooth loss—gum recession, and stain your teeth, according to the ADA.
Need one last reminder to quit? “Smoking has been found to harm nearly every bodily organ and organ system in the body,” says the American Cancer Society, making it a leading cause in cancer deaths.
There’s a reason no one looks great the morning after one too many beers.
Research suggests that alcohol can lower antioxidant levels in your skin. This can cause inflammation and free radical damage to your skin cells, says Dr. Zeichner, promoting wrinkles earlier on. Alcohol also tends to dehydrate your skin, which can make your face look dry and rough, the AAD says.
Still, there’s not a ton of research out there to support that alcohol alone is directly linked to premature aging, says Dr. Zeichner. If you really can’t resist a post-dinner libation, stay within the recommended limit of no more than one drink per day for women. You should also take note of the ingredients you’re mixing your booze with. Say, if your drink is loaded with sweet mixers and juices, it’s probably loaded with skin-damaging sugars, too.
Booze can just make you feel older, too. Drinking too much raises your risk for serious health problems, like heart and liver disease, depression, and several types of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, here’s how drinking a little booze each day may be killing you.
Stop scrubbing ASAP!!
If you’ve ever looked back at pictures after a night out only to find that you can practically see the photographer’s reflection in your forehead, we've got you.
Whether your skin throws a tantrum every time you dare to try out a new serum or your T-zone seems completely immune to any and every setting powder out there, we've all got our skin bugbears. And unfortunately, it could be your bad beauty habits that are making them worse.
For all of you sensitive, oily or dry skin beauties out there, here’s a rundown of what to avoid and what to embrace based on your skin type.
1. AVOID: Switching things up. It can be frustrating when you start using a brand new beauty product only for your skin to a) get worse or b) show absolutely zero results. But hopping from one routine to the next can actually aggravate sensitive skin even more. "Switching your products too frequently also makes it very difficult to keep track of which products are actually helping, or which ingredients may be causing irritation," says consultant dermatologist Dr Sharon Wong.
Instead: Give it time. In general, it takes your skin around a month to adjust to a new product, so be patient. However, if your skin feels irritated from the get-go, sniff out the culprit and stop using, sharpish.
2. AVOID: Skipping sun cream. It might feel like a chore when you're in a rush to leave the house in the morning, but irritable skin usually has a heightened sensitivity to the sun.
Instead: Never go below SPF 30, and "look for physical sun creams that contain minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide," advises Dr Wong. "These will irritate skin less than than chemical sunscreens, which some people can become sensitive to."
3. AVOID: Overly complicated, 100-step routines. It's common sense that the simpler your beauty routine is, the less chance of something aggravating your skin.
Instead: Keep it simple and your skin will thank you for it. Look out for phrases like 'fragrance-free' and consider brands like AVEENO, whose formulas contain naturally active ingredients and help to soothe dry, irritable skin. If you're not sure about a product, do a test patch behind your ear a few times over a week before going all in.
1. AVOID: Skipping moisturiser. It might feel like your face doesn’t need it, but cutting out moisturiser can cause your skin to dry out and overcompensate by producing even more oil. Argh.
Instead: Keep an eye out for oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturisers and get into a routine. Non-comedogenic basically means your pores won’t get blocked, which means less risk of a breakout. Aces.
2. AVOID: Over-scrubbing your face. As with ditching the moisturiser, washing your face with a harsh scrub to eliminate grease is actually doing you more harm than good. Over-exfoliating strips your skin of its natural oils and just like above, your skin will react by producing even more. Dr Wong adds that over-scrubbing "can also irritate blocked pores and cause a break out."
Instead: Choose a gentle, soap-free face wash like La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Cleansing Gel. Wash your face with lukewarm water in the morning and give it a double cleanse in the evening to banish make-up, pollution and all of the other nasties of the day.
3. AVOID: Going in on the powder. Powder might seem like your best friend if you have oily skin, but using it to soak up oil every five minutes is not the solution and could lead to blocked pores and breakouts.
Instead: Carry some blotting papers on you, as these will lift oil from your face instead of blocking it. Gently press them against the most oily parts of your face to banish those shiny bits. Dr Wong also advises adding "a topical retinoid based product such as adapelene into your skin care routine to help reduce sebum production."
1. AVOID: Hot water. It might feel glorious, but that steaming hot shower could be stripping away your skin's natural oils and drying out your skin even more.
Instead: Use lukewarm water where possible and limit your showers to 5-10 minutes max to avoid drying out your skin. "If you're having a longer soak in the bath, use bath oils designed for dry skin from brands like AVEENO, which moisturises therefore protects the skin from the drying effects of water," Dr Wong recommends.
2. AVOID: Delaying moisturizing. Lying in your towel for an hour as you scroll through Instagram might feel dreamy, but as the water evaporates off your skin and leaves it parched, it won’t thank you in the long run.
Instead: Moisturize as soon as you get out of the shower while your skin is still damp to trap moisture using an emollient like the AVEENO Daily Moisturizing Lotion, which helps prevent water loss and helps to restore the skin's natural barrier. "What creates dry skin is a defective skin barrier which causes loss of lipids and moisture from the skin surface," explains Dr Wong. "So supporting the barrier function of the skin and replacing the moisture levels throughout the day is a must."
3. AVOID: Reaching for the soap. If you recognize that horrible tight feeling after washing your face, you're probably using the wrong cleanser. "Any product that foams or lathers by nature contains a surfactant," says Dr Wong. "As when washing dishes, surfactants effectively have a de-greasing effect, which is exactly the opposite of what you want on dry skin."
Instead: Try cleansing with a gentle, soap-free product like Lush’s Ultrabland, which is made with almond oil, rose water, beeswax and honey and won't strip away your skin’s natural defenses.
After gaining nearly 100lbs while suffering from PCOS, my journey to lose weight has finally ended and my love and appreciation for healthy but delicious food has just begun. This my story on how I lost nearly 90lbs while still completely indulging in life.