Weight Loss Success Story: “I Finally Put Myself First”

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Twyla Grimes

Katy, Texas

Age: 35

Courtesy Twyla Grimes

I was never a healthy eater. In fact, the only reason I was able to stay thin for so long was that I was a cardio addict. That ended when I remarried in 2011; focusing on my newly blended family left little time for workouts. The result: I put on 25 pounds in less than a year. One time, someone even asked when my baby was due! Still, it wasn’t until December 2012, when I saw a video of myself looking doughy all over, that I knew it was time to take action.

RELATED: The Same 10 Weight Loss Mistakes All Women Make

Up for the challenge

I started 2013 off with a promise to exercise but didn’t get my butt in gear until February, when I joined the Labrada Lean Body Challenge, a 12-week fitness contest. Through it, I learned about strength training, which I did nightly. I also made sure to fit in an hour on the stairmill or treadmill each morning before work. I shed 18 pounds in three months.

Back to basics

I also focused on eating better; I measured and weighed everything. The hardest part was cleaning up my cooking habits. I learned to use zero-calorie seasonings, as well as olive oil instead of butter, sugar and salt. The results quickly showed; I peeled off 2 to 3 pounds each week. Then the scale started creeping up again, but this time it was because of the lean muscle I was building. I didn’t mind it–those new, “strong” pounds whittled my body fat percentage down by more than 15 percent! Seeing my frame transform made it clear to me that I needed to stop feeling guilty for making myself a priority–to be a good mom, I had to be a healthy one.

RELATED: 13 Women Who’ve Lost 100+ Pounds

4 Tips to Keep Pounds Away

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Felix Sanchez

How does Twyla stay so lean and toned? Check out her favorite strategies below, and find even more tactics at health.com/weight-loss-stories.

Sweat with your spouse

My hubby and I make exercise outings “our” time. We’ll go to the gym for an hour and lift weights together. Having him there keeps me accountable.

Swap out store-bought

I make healthier versions of sweets: For chocolate chip cookies, I use unsweetened applesauce instead of butter and sub in oat flour for white.

Workout must: Military press

There is something about this exercise that makes me feel empowered and strong. Plus, I love training my shoulders, and this really works that part of my body.

Pull out that stopwatch

I love that I can jog three miles in 24 minutes now; before, it took me 46 minutes! Tracking my running times and seeing how far I’ve come helps me stay committed.

As told to Rozalynn S. Frazier

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20 Things You Should Throw Away for Better Health

Clean out expired products and clutter to make way for a healthier you.

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by Nicole Cherie Jones

When we talk about the steps you need to take to get healthier, they often involve buying new things: workout clothes, fitness equipment, ingredients for healthy recipes, and the list goes on. But becoming the healthiest version of yourself also means throwing away the stuff that’s holding you back–and we don’t only mean junk food. Get your recycling or garbage can ready!

Next: Old plastic containers

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Get the latest health, fitness, anti-aging, and nutrition news, plus special offers, insights and updates from Health.com!

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Tame Your Tummy Troubles

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A bellyache has a long list of potential culprits–but stress is right up at the top. “Stress can affect every part of the digestive system,” says Kenneth Koch, MD, chief of gastroenterology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. It can ramp up acid production in the stomach or slow down digestion, inducing feelings of nausea and fullness. It can even change the consistency of your–well, you know. And sometimes, Dr. Koch says, it worsens the symptoms of an underlying problem. How do you know when abdominal discomfort stems from nerves or something else? For the good of your gut, here’s a guide to some other usual suspects behind digestive trouble –and how to soothe your system.

RELATED: Quick Ways to Beat Stress

Problem: You have white-hot pain in your chest.

It could be: Heartburn

The burning sensation is caused by acid from your stomach backing up into your esophagus. Certain foods and beverages can bring on the condition–such as tomato sauce, coffee and alcohol (which can relax your lower esophageal sphincter) and fatty fare (which may linger in your stomach). Stress and certain medications are often to blame, too. Proton pump inhibitors like Prevacid 24HR and Prilosec OTC offer relief by slowing acid production. But if your symptoms last more than three months, ask your doctor about prescription drugs.

Problem: You strain to go number two.

It could be: Constipation

“This can be an issue as women get into their late 30s and 40s,” says Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, a gastroenterologist at NYU Langone Medical Center. “Women tend to become less active,” she explains, which can lead to a sluggish gut. We also begin to experience hormonal changes that can cause hard, dry stools. (Blech.) “Drink four extra glasses of water a day and up your physical activity,” suggests Dr. Rajapaksa. And make sure you’re eating at least 25 grams of fiber daily. (A cup of cooked lentils, a bran muffin and a pear should do the trick.)

RELATED: 13 Surprising Causes of Constipation

Problem: Your abdominal discomfort and altered BMs have lasted three months or more.

It could be: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Twice as many women as men suffer from IBS: “Women may have more bowel hypersensitivity, so nerves there overrespond to stimuli such as food or stress–causing increased gut activity,” says Douglas Drossman, MD, professor emeritus of medicine and psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The good news? About half of cases improve with dietary changes. Try avoiding trigger foods such as nuts, coffee and chocolate. Probiotics (in food or supplement form) could also help. If not, your doctor might prescribe medication.

RELATED: 18 Reasons Why Your Stomach Hurts

Problem: Your belly feels like an inflated beach ball. Plus: cramps.

It could be: Nonceliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS)

Some people literally can’t stomach gluten. But there is no conclusive explanation for NCGS and its range of symptoms, from gas and diarrhea to headaches, joint pain and more. Before you give up bread and pasta, get tested for a wheat allergy and celiac disease. Once they’re ruled out, your doctor may suggest you go gluten-free to see if your symptoms improve.

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Menopause Causes Cholesterol Jump, Study Shows

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FRIDAY, Dec. 11, 2009 (Health.com) — Doctors have known for years that a woman’s risk of developing heart disease rises after menopause, but they weren’t exactly sure why. It wasn’t clear whether the increased risk is due to the hormonal changes associated with menopause, to aging itself, or to some combination of the two.

Now, we have at least part of the answer: A new study shows beyond a doubt that menopause, not the natural aging process, is responsible for a sharp increase in cholesterol levels.

This seems to be true of all women, regardless of ethnicity, according to the study, which will be published next week in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“As they approach menopause, many, many women show a very striking increase in cholesterol levels, which in turn increases risk for later heart disease,” says the lead author of the study, Karen A. Matthews, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh.

Over a 10-year period, Matthews and her colleagues followed 1,054 U.S. women as they went through menopause. Each year the researchers tested study participants for cholesterol, blood pressure, and other heart disease risk factors such as blood glucose and insulin.

In nearly every woman, the study found, cholesterol levels jumped around the time of menopause. (Menopause usually occurs around age 50 but can happen naturally as early as 40 and as late as 60.)

In the two-year window surrounding their final menstrual period, the women’s average LDL, or bad cholesterol, rose by about 10.5 points, or about 9%. The average total cholesterol level also increased substantially, by about 6.5%.

Other risk factors, such as insulin and systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading), also rose during the study, but they did so at a steady rate, suggesting that the increases–unlike those for cholesterol–were related to aging, not menopause. Of all the risk factors measured in the study, the changes in cholesterol were the most dramatic.

The jumps in cholesterol reported in the study could definitely have an impact on a womans health, says Vera Bittner, MD, a professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who wrote an editorial accompanying Matthewss study.

“The changes don’t look large, but given that the typical woman lives several decades after menopause, any adverse change becomes cumulative over time,” says Dr. Bittner. “If somebody had cholesterol levels at the lower ranges of normal, the small change may not make a difference. But if somebody’s risk factors were already borderline in several categories, this increase may tip them over the edge and put them in a risk category where treatment may be beneficial.”

In a first, the study did not find any measurable differences in the impact of menopause on cholesterol across ethnic groups.

Experts have been unsure how ethnicity may affect the link between menopause and cardiovascular risk, because most research to date has been conducted in Caucasian women. Matthews and her colleagues were able to explore the role of ethnicity because their research is part of the larger Study of Womens Health Across the Nation (SWAN), which includes substantial numbers of African-American, Hispanic, and Asian-American women.

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How To Exercise With High Blood Pressure

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exercising with blood pressureBlood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, is a condition where there is abnormal pressure in the arteries. The possibility of getting high blood pressure increases as one becomes older. Medication can help you deal with high blood pressure. Nonetheless, there is yet a way free of drugs that you can use to control your high blood pressure. Exercises may help decrease the blood pressure and sustain it at controllable levels. However, what is the link between exercise and hypertension?

Exercises help to strengthen your heart. Strong hearts do not struggle to pump blood to different parts of your body. When the heart uses little effort to pump blood to your glans, the force on the arteries is reduced thus decreasing the blood pressure. Exercise works better than medication. Exercises can help those suffering from primary blood pressure manage their high blood pressure problem for the last time.In addition to lowering blood pressure, exercises can also help to maintain it at normal levels. To appreciate the benefits, you must exercise regularly.

The only way this works is by exercising on a regular basis.Nevertheless, understanding the fact that the benefits last only as long as one goes on exercising is vital. Aerobics are said to be the most helpful exercises.However, you may also participate in strength exercises such as weight lifting. Cycling, climbing stairs, walking, swimming and jogging are examples of other undemanding yet highly helpful exercises.

One important thing you need to do before joining an exercise program is gets a go ahead from your doctor. Particular groups of people ought to check with their physicians before exercising. They are those more than 40 years, smokers, those that have suffered heart attacks obese individuals as well as those obese people. You must also consult your doctor if you are on medication for information on whether exercise will affect its efficacy. Make certain you start little by little. Prior to embarking on serious exercises, always engage in warm ups.If you experience dizziness, faintness, chest pains, shortness of breath and excessive fatigue when exercise stop.

These are warning signs that not everything is right. Make certain that you monitor your blood pressure as you perform your exercises. You could buy a blood pressure monitor for this function.Check the pressure before and after you exercise and document the changes. If you suffer from hypertension, exercising is the easiest and cheapest way of bringing down your blood pressure.

Working Out Without Using Supplements

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Getting the best results from a workout routine is the goal that all of us are searching for when we begin a regular exercise regimen. The several roads to get to the ideal goal depending on your personal dedication and current health situation. Today’s post will focus on exercising without the use of body building supplements.

Some people think that in order to get the body that you want, it is mandatory that you buy and drink some form of supplements.   However, the truth of the matter is that body building without supplements is completely doable and the strongest proof of this one is that there are some who are already doing it.   If you wish to get involved on body building without supplements, better study the following.

natural workoutInstead of avoiding foods completely, you should just pick out the foods that you are going to eat.   There are some who think that if you want to get the body that you want, then you have to minimize the amount of food that you eat every day.  The truth of the matter though is that you don’t really need to eat less, you just have to know the foods that you should eat.  Your diet must be full of proteins, carbohydrates and great fats.  These nutrients can make sure that you have enough energy to do other activities other than exercise.   These nutrients also aid in the repair of muscles and tendons that get stretched, overused and ultimately broken down because of your exercise routines.

Exercising is something that you should do regularly as well.   To make sure that you’re doing the right exercise routines, you have to go to your gym instructor and your doctor.  Be mindful of the intensity of your workout.   The types of exercises that you should do in order to proceed with body building without supplements are multi-joint exercise, isolation exercise and weight exercises.   In order for your muscles to develop, you will need to do a whole body workout which is what these types of exercises do.

You should also sleep a minimum of 8 hrs each day.  Even though you aren’t getting any muscles once you sleep, it helps to ensure that the muscles get to recover from all of the exploitation that it has had in due to your routines.  Doing exercise routines is something that you should really do.   On the other hand, you need to make sure that you do not overwork the muscles and the easiest method to do that is by having sufficient sleep. It can also make sure that you have enough energy to do body building without supplement routines the next day.

Besides wanting to go natural in your working routines, many of us may be limited by obstacles such as allergies. With that being said, before you consider taking supplements, you should always make sure that your body is able to handle the side effects. Consult with your physician and read the labels very carefully. Remember that the only way to ensure avoiding side effects is to go natural and eat right.

How Women Can Lose Weight

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Weight is an issue to many women. Each woman wants to look slimmer than their friends and to have curves. Weight loss enhances self esteem to most women who are uncomfortable with their bodies. There is no one universal reason as to why women want to lose weight as each has their own reasons.

Some people believe that not eating food is the best way to lose weight but it is wrong. This is because the body starts to burn the muscles and only get to the fats when there is no other option. Once a person goes back to their normal eating habit, the body tries to store as much fat as possible to shield the body from future starvation. There are other ways to lose weight other than starving.

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There is a PH diet. This is where the body’s’ pH is controlled by consuming certain foods. The more one feeds on acid generating foods such as red meat, the more the pH is interfered with. High acid concentration overworks the excretory organs such as liver thus making them not able to break down all the acids. A high acid residue slows down the body translating to idol energy. Acids are stored in fat cells making the fat cells swell. To check on the pH ensure that your meals are 70% vegetables. They help in managing the alkalinity. Eating more vegetables and fruits ensure that your body is not overwhelmed thus less energy. Any woman trying to cut weight should feed more on vegetables that are not overcooked since they have fewer calories. It is also advisable to eat raw vegetables to reduce the amount material whose toxins must be removed. Drink much water to wash out toxins from the body.

A good diet for breakfast will start with a glass of warm water and if possible add lemon as it is alkaline. Avoid milk from cows and wheat products as they are a source of acid. Eat more vegetables, fruit salads over lunch and replace meat with beans, peas or soya for supper. Include apples, sweet potatoes, raspberries and oats to your diet. Always have some healthy snacks such as apples or ground nuts between meals.

The best way to keep your body the way you want it is to take measures to avoid gaining weight. Such measures include proper and healthy eating as well as doing some exercise.