80 Day OBSESSION: How Bad Do You Want This?

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      What is 80 Day Obsession? The latest breakthrough from Autumn Calabrese, fitness and nutrition expert. A total body transformation that helps sculpt your core and shape and lift your butt at the same time. A different workout every day – helps prevent plateaus! A Timed-Nutrition Eating Plan feeds your body perfect portions […]

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EXTREME FITNESS. SIMPLE EATING. SERIOUS RESULTS.

21 Day Fix EXTREME

Now there’s a program that makes losing weight so simple and easy to follow, you’ll never have to diet again! Introducing 21 Day Fix Extreme.

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What Is 21 Day Fix Extreme?

The original 21 Day Fix® was designed to make losing weight so simple . . . you never had to diet again. That’s why it became America’s #1 home fitness and nutrition program.

Now, Autumn Calabrese has created 21 Day Fix EXTREME, to get you seriously shredded in the shortest time possible. This breakthrough 21-day fitness and nutrition program combines simple portion control, clean eating, and extreme 30-minute workouts to help you finally get the lean, defined hardbody you’ve always wanted.

What makes 21 Day Fix EXTREME incredibly effective and unique?

You get seven EXTREME 30-minute workouts, one for each day of the week— so your mind never gets bored, and your body never adapts. The workouts feature a unique blend of steady-state aerobics, resistance training, and explosive power moves that target every muscle in the body—to help you get shredded fast.

For your nutrition, you’ll not only be practicing portion control—you’ll be eating ONLY clean foods. No treats. No cheats. No excuses. Plus, you’ll get Autumn’s all-new 21 Day Fix EXTREME recipes to help you achieve your very best results.

No other program has you eating this well and working this hard. But if you want a lean six-pack, cut arms, ripped shoulders, and toned legs . . . you have to take it up a notch. It’s going to take guts, intensity, and drive. But, it’s only 21 days.

You can do this.

Autumn Calabrese Is Your Personal Trainer

Autumn Calabrese is a celebrity fitness trainer, busy mom, and national-level bikini competitor. As creator of 21 Day Fix—the best-selling Beachbody® fitness program of 2014—this rising star in the fitness community has made a name for herself by helping people lose weight and get the bodies they’ve always wanted through simple portion control and working out consistently.

Holding personal training certificates from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the American Fitness Professionals & Associates (AFPA), she knows exactly what her clients need to eat and how they need to work out to achieve their best results. Autumn is the fitness specialist for ModernMom.com; she has appeared on the cover of Oxygen magazine; and her workouts have been featured in C magazine, LA Parent, The Palisadian- Post, and Daily Candy, as well as on TV shows like Home & Family.


EXTREME FITNESS. SIMPLE EATING. SERIOUS RESULTS.

Don’t Make a New Year’s Resolution. Make a #REALsolution.

This year we’re asking you NOT to make a New Year’s resolution. You read that correctly–DON’T make a resolution. They don’t work. Plain and simple. Take a look at the definition of resolution:

Definition of resolution

See the inherent problem? It’s vague, it’s ambiguous, and there’s nothing to sink your teeth into. It’s just a decision, not a plan of action.

More than 70% of people who make resolutions don’t keep them, and more than 40% never even start! Things don’t magically change on January 1st. You don’t suddenly become a different person, one who can stick to a diet or exercise program, if you never have in the past.

That’s why this year, we’re asking you to skip the resolution, and make a #REALsolution.

Follow this simple 4-step process to create a #REALsolution that will set you up for success all year long.

Step 1:
Set a clear, attainable goal. Think of exactly what you want to achieve, and be specific. Instead of, “I want to lose weight,” decide that, “I will lose 10 pounds by April 5.” Instead of “I want to eat clean,” decide that, “I will eat 7 servings of fruits and vegetables each day and I will try one new healthy recipe each week.”

Step 2:
Make a solid plan for achieving your goal. Choose a fitness program or nutrition plan to help you get there. Or, commit to using a program you already own and visit our YouTube channel for motivation and mini-workouts from Tony Horton and Autumn Calabrese.

Step 3:
Download this accountability contract. Sign it. Post it somewhere you will see it every day. Snap a photo of the contract and post it on Instagram. Make sure to tag #REALsolution and @beachbodyhq. We’ll pick 5 winners to win a program of your choice, one each week from December 26–February 1.

Step 4:
If you’re not already part of a Challenge Group, join our #REALsolution Challenge Group on Facebook where you can check in daily, get encouragement, and stay accountable.

REAL SOLUTIONS FOR JANUARY 2015:

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INSANITY MAX 30 CHALLENGE PACK PROMOTION:

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When you’ve reached your goal, repeat this 4-step process again to continue to improve!

Here are examples of what your accountability contract might look like:

REALsolution contract using 21 Day Fix.

 

REALsolution contract for NYC marathon

 


30 minutes. INSANE results.



How ‘Maxing Out’ Can Take Your Fitness to the Next Level

Max Out

 

Regardless of your fitness goals, the surest way to success is, ironically, failure.

That’s what research in recent years has revealed about the relationship between reps and results, which progress in sync with one another.

Momentary muscular fatigue—also known as training until failure or “maxing out”—simply demands performing movements until you can’t do them anymore. Rather than setting an arbitrary ceiling for yourself and hoping to, again arbitrarily, increase that ceiling over time, maxing out uses your body’s current capabilities to decide the variables (weight, reps, etc.), whether it’s high-intensity cardio, weight training or any combination of the two.

Once that ceiling is reached, you achieve failure, with the gains coming in the form of your body’s ability to go just a bit further the next time. “If you never fail at a set, you aren’t pushing hard enough,” says Steve Edwards, Vice President of Fitness and Nutrition at Beachbody.

But beyond a red-blooded sense of accomplishment, why is it important to press the limits? Edwards says, “Pushing towards failure is the only way to derive all of the benefits of a workout as it’s designed.” Most workouts, Edwards says, target energy systems, which, to be simplistic, are the physiological processes that facilitate the conversion of fuel into fitness. To make these systems more efficient—which is the very definition of fitness—Edwards says you’ve gotta fail.

“It’s the founding principle of all athletic training, or really, all physiological processes in the human body.”

insanity max

Turning it up to 11

Anaerobic activity (including interval and weight training) is designed around the body’s failure point in one of the aforementioned energy systems. In resistance training, this is represented by the amount of weight needed to fail at a given number of reps. In the case of cardiovascular workouts—most often interval training—this is represented by the use of body weight, speed, jumping and stopping to achieve failure.

“Training, philosophically, is about putting your body in environments that it’s not entirely adapted to,” says Dr. Marcus Elliott, Founder and Director of P3, a facility that applies scientific research to athletic performance. “Training to failure suggests taking your body as far as it can go. That is what your body responds to: being challenged.”

Resistance training has long been known to stimulate muscle growth, but recent research finds that there are diminishing returns to simply adding weight. A 2010 study commissioned by Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council found that low-load, high-volume resistance exercise (i.e., less weight, more repetitions) is more effective at building muscle than high-weight, low-rep resistance training. The researchers determined that muscle growth is dependent not only on weight, but also the number of reps performed.

The result are greater strength, muscle endurance and, of course, mass. But the benefits aren’t limited solely to muscle development. “In addition to muscle adaptation,” says Elliott, “you also increase adaptive response to lactic acid,” the chemical that builds up in overworked muscles, creating that burning feeling. “When you take a workout to failure, you can become more efficient at utilizing lactate (lactic acid) as energy.”

Adapting to lactate means that, instead of gasping and vomiting during intense exercise, you breathe more easily. You also develop blood buffers, which help maintain a healthy blood pH and prevent nausea. “How that shows up in terms of fitness is if you’re climbing or on a run and the guy next to you is suffering and you’re not” explains Elliott.

While not all of the particulars explaining the effects of “maxing out” are clear, Dr. Francis Stephens at the UK’s University of Nottingham, says, “It likely has to do with metabolic and mechanical stress associated with fatigue within the muscle signaling for the adaptation.” Translation: burn it down.


30 minutes. INSANE results.

 

Fail, recover, repeat

A vital component here is rest (also known as recovery). The harder the workout, the more muscle fiber and neuron groupings—known as motor units—are recruited. Outside of long-distance running, most workouts target the moderate and high motor units. The more those units are recruited, the more recovery is required.

“This is why almost all training is broken into microcycles (weekly training schedule) and macrocycles (longer schedules) so that your recovery is properly balanced between your training,” says Edwards. That explains why weight training is staggered by muscle group and why very intensive training (plyometrics, et al) is done only once per week.

Edwards says there was a time when professionals were afraid to use programs like high intensity interval training (HIIT) with out-of-shape subjects. “This started changing in the early ’90s as studies began on highly deconditioned people and saw them respond much quicker to HIIT than traditional low-level aerobic work.” That means the only people to whom maxing out doesn’t apply are those with an injury or physical limitation that might prohibit it.

Still, Edwards advises that maxing out should constitute the bulk of training for most people. As he says trainers always say, “Failure is not an option.”

PiYo Diet: Get the excess fat off you!

Piyo Kickstart

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Piyo is the new sensation for those who look for a stunning figure now. Introduced by Chalene Johnson, this plan is keenly created to get the leaner and thinner body shape out from all ages and genders of people. Is it easy? Well, that’s what Chalene says. Just by inculcating good food habits and a 25 minutes workout in a day, you will be able to define your body in a way you have always wanted to. Isn’t it wonderful?

Why Piyo diet?

Piyo diet is more of a clean and computed way of your food intake. This is much defined so that you take what you need. You can even eat what you want but the quantity is something that really should be thought upon. The most exciting news is that, you do not have to spend half day in cooking these low fat foods. They are all ready tasty foods, which are going to work fantastic on your body.

What should I eat while I am on Piyo diet?

Almost anything you want, but just be careful of how much to eat. That’s the only check here, to get into a stunning figure of lean body, flat tummy and powerful abs and muscles.

It’s a basic rule that makes this program so effective that, portion eating always helps in flat tummy. This is how you make the portions.

· Breakfast

· AM Snack

· Lunch

· PM Snack

· Dinner

Another point to ensure is to start your day early and finish it early, for a good physique.

Here is a menu of Piyo diet for a week:

Breakfast:

Monday, Wednesday and Friday

¼ cup of oat meal + cup of blueberries+ 2 Half Boiled eggs

Tuesday and Thursday

2 Eggs, 1 cup Spinach, 2 tb spoon Avacado.

AM Snacks:

Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Cucumbers, peppers (1 cup), 2 tb spoon Avacado

Tuesday and Thursday

Apple, 1 1/2 tbsp. of PB, Fat free yogurt ( 1 cup)

Lunch: 

Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Shakeology plus almond milk Plus 1/2 banana

Tuesday and Thursday

Shakeology plus almond milk and 1/2 banana

PM Snack:

Monday, Wednesday and Friday

1 cup broccoli, 1 cup carrots, 2 tbsp. hummus

Tuesday and Thursday

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cucumbers plus 1 tbsp. hummus

Dinner:

Monday, Wednesday and Friday

4oz. seasoned chicken or tilapia and 10 asparagus or summer squash

Tuesday and Thursday

3 oz. Pork Tenderloin or Steak, 1/2 cup sweet potato, Eggplant

You can get creative during Saturdays and Sundays make your own recipes of low fat yet tasty food, to satisfy your taste buds. We are not aiming at starving in this plan but we are trying to limit our diet so that we can eat more often than more quantity. Eating more often in small quantities always helps in fastened metabolism. This is the best advantage of this program that you get all the benefits of a strict starving diet system but you actually fill yourself more times than ever. Isn’t that amazing?

You can use more green vegetables and low fat yogurt in case if you don’t feel full. Adding more vegetables and vitamin c fruits will give you more energy spontaneously and you will have the instant energy but not the stubborn fat. So go for it today, to feel the magic!

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Carbs: A Love Story

CarbsNosh On

You’d be hard-pressed to find a woman watching her weight who doesn’t think that carbs are evil. Between diet books like Grain Brain, Wheat Belly, and Cavewomen Don’t Get Fat, it’s no wonder we’re not only terrified of croissants, we’re also pretty sure we shouldn’t be eating whole wheat anything either. But here’s a secret the authors of those best sellers don’t want you to know: You need carbs. In fact, eliminating them could harm your health and make you miss out on one of the most effective ways to stay slim. “Carbs should make up the majority of your diet, especially if you’re active,” says Kelly Pritchett, PhD, RD, a sports dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. We cut through the confusion so you can welcome back carbs with open (sculpted) arms.

What Are Carbs, Exactly?

They’re nutrients that break down into glucose, your body’s primary source of energy, and tons of foods contain them. “Carbs get a bad rap, but we need them to keep our brain working and our heart pumping,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, RD, the author of The Miracle Carb Diet.

Not all carbs are created equal, however. Naturally occurring sugars like fructose in fruit and lactose in dairy, sugars that are added to foods, and refined grains such as white rice are broken down quickly by your body. That means they provide almost-instant energy, but it doesn’t last. And unless they’re bundled with other nutrients, like the fiber in an apple or the protein in yogurt, they’re basically empty calories. Other carbs, such as those found in whole grains, vegetables and legumes, take longer to digest, so you get a steadier supply of energy.

“Carbohydrate-rich foods like bread can be very high in calories,” Pritchett says. “But many foods that contain carbs, such as fruits and vegetables, are low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals.” Others fall somewhere in between: Whole grains contain a lot of nutrients and calories, while low-fat dairy has a medium amount of both. The bottom line: Cut down on added sugar and refined grains and consider all other carbs fair game.

If Carbs Are So Great, Why Is Everyone on a Low-Carb Diet?

Well, it’s easy to overdo it on certain carbs. When you eat any type of carb, your body releases insulin to help you regulate an increase in blood sugar. But your system processes refined carbs so quickly that your blood sugar may dip, setting off an “eat more” signal in your brain.

The problem is, cutting out all carbs can hamper your weight-loss efforts, especially if you’re active. “They’re our primary energy source during exercise, and we can’t get to the same level of intensity if we’re carb depleted,” Pritchett says. She recommends getting 45 to 65 percent of your calories from carbs, depending on how much cardio you do (aerobic activity requires more carbs than Pilates, for example). “You need 130 grams a day just for your brain to function, and active women should aim for between 200 and 300 grams,” she explains.

Skimp on carbs and you’ll also miss out on important nutrients, Zuckerbrot says. “Many of the vitamins and minerals we need come from fruits and vegetables, so cutting these out can lead to deficiencies.” And your mood could suffer, too: A yearlong study found that people on a low-carb diet reported feeling angrier and more depressed than those on a low-fat diet did.

Carbs: Decoded

Why Do I Crave Carbs When I’m Tired or Sad?

They provide the quickest blood sugar boost, and your brain knows that, says Wendy Bazilian, RD, a coauthor of The SuperFoodsRx Diet. They also help your body produce the hormone serotonin, which balances your emotions and gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling (hey, macaroni and cheese is called comfort food for a reason).

The good news: Just because it’s a craving doesn’t mean it’s bad. “High-fiber carbs can help increase serotonin without wrecking your diet,” Zuckerbrot says. Add healthy fats and protein and they’ll keep your blood sugar steady too.

Should I Eat Carbs Before My Workout?

To kill it at the gym, yes. Bazilian suggests eating half a piece of whole-grain toast or half a banana 45 to 60 minutes before your workout. “The idea is to provide your body with easily digestible energy far enough in advance that your workout isn’t interrupted by the digestion process,” she says. (There’s no need to nosh if you’re exercising for less than 60 minutes within a couple of hours after a meal and don’t feel hungry.)

If you have a marathon or triathlon coming up, carb loading can help you store extra fuel and fluid in your muscles, explains Kim Larson, RD, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. But don’t pig out on pasta the night before or you’ll feel weighed down during the main event. “You want to increase your carbohydrate intake by up to 100 grams a day — about an extra three servings — starting three days before the big event,” Larson says.

Could I Become Addicted to Carbs?

It’s possible. Recent research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that study subjects who drank a super-sugary milk shake showed increased activity in their nucleus accumbens, the “pleasure center” in the brain that regulates reward and addiction, four hours afterward. In other words, eating the wrong kind of carbs can become a vicious cycle, Bazilian explains, because your body gets a rush and then crashes, leaving you craving a fix.

Breaking the cycle can be hard, but it’s definitely not impossible. Instead of trying to cut out treats entirely (as if!), combine something sweet, like dark chocolate chips or dried apricots, with something containing healthy protein and fats — think roasted almonds or Greek yogurt — to balance the sugar and slow digestion.

And while the occasional handful of pretzels or side of steamed white rice won’t hurt you, make most of your grains whole.

Your Daily Bread

So what does the right amount of carbohydrates look like? Use this sample menu as a guide. It adds up to nearly 215 grams of carbs, about the ideal amount for an active woman who’s taking in 1,800 calories a day.

Breakfast (43g carbs): Whole wheat English muffin with 1 slice Swiss cheese and 1 egg scrambled with 1 cup spinach + 1/2 grapefruit

Lunch (72g carbs): Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce, tomato, avocado, and cucumber + 6 ounces low-fat yogurt with 1/2 small peach, diced

Snack (15g carbs): Apple + low-fat string cheese

 

Dinner (51g carbs): 2 fish tacos made with corn tortillas, shredded cabbage and mango salsa + small side black beans

Dessert (32g carbs): 1/2 cup light ice cream with 1/2 cup sliced strawberries

It’s All Good — Really

No carb is off-limits, but some are better than others. Here’s how much of each type you should be eating daily.

Starches and Whole Grains: 6 servings

  • 1/2 cup corn or peas
  • 1 potato
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas or lentils
  • 1/2 cup brown rice or whole-grain pasta
  • 1 slice whole wheat bread

 

Vegetables: 3 to 5 servings

  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • 1 cup leafy greens
  • 12 baby carrots

 

Fruit: 3 to 4 servings

  • 1 apple
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup berries

 

Dairy: 2 to 3 servings

  • 1 cup low-fat yogurt
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 1/2 ounces reduced-fat cheddar

 

Refined grains: no more than 2 servings (count toward your starches)

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 flour tortilla
  • 1 plain bagel

 

Treats: no more than 1 serving

  • 2 squares dark chocolate
  • 1 small cookie

10 Things Everyone Has Thought About at Least Once During Yoga

Hey, we’ve all totally been there.

1. When the teacher says to try a headstand:

2. When your friend accidentally signs you up for hot yoga:

3. But then lets you use her last guest pass to her fancy, swanky studio:

4. When you’ve finally mastered scorpion pose:

5. When your mat is behind the guy who forgot underwear:

6. When your cell phone goes off during class and you try to pretend it’s not yours:

 

7. What you hope your upward dog looks like:

8. What it actually feels like:

9. When the girl on the mat next to you is in full makeup:

10. How you feel every time you leave a 90-minute class:

 

PiYo Workout: Don’t Buy It Until You Read This!

What is PiYo Workout?

piyo3

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As PiYo quickly gains popularity among the public, one question is being frequently asked; what is PiYo workout? The answer to this is quite simple. It is a low-impact, full-body, athletic workout brought to us by Chalene Johnson, directed at all individuals regardless of their age and fitness level.
PiYo combines Pilates, yoga and several dynamic exercises, to achieve a workout session that targets different muscles in the body. Each session lasts for between 25-45 minutes and is set to music, yet requires no weights or jumping motions. The overall aim of the workout is to develop strong, toned and lean muscles, build endurance, burn up fat and improve agility.

Below is a list of the 8 different workouts included:
1. Align- 46 minutes
2. Define: Upper body- 35 minutes
3. Define: Lower body- 25 minutes
4. Sweat- 35 minutes
5. Core- 30 minutes
6. Drench- 40 minutes
7. Strength intervals- 25 minutes
8. Sculpt- 30 minutes

When undertaking the aforementioned workouts, you should expect to exercise the following parts of your body.

LOWER BODY
1. PiYo lower body workouts target your calves, quads, hamstrings and glutes, and purpose to define and tone these areas with the intention of giving you lean leg muscles.

CORE AND BACK
1. A powerful core, chiseled back and sculpted abs is the dream of every individual working out. That is why PiYo makes use of core workouts, which eliminate fat and build muscles on these areas of your body.

UPPER BODY
1. You can always pinpoint a person who works out by examining the condition of their arms, shoulders and triceps.
2. Upper body workouts aim to define these 3 features, through strengthening and stretching the muscles located on your torso.

WHOLE BODY
There are several PiYo workout exercises that cater to your body in its entirety.

1. To begin with we have the Align workout that aims to educate you on the fundamental techniques involved in the PiYo workout, with the aim of familiarizing your body with the techniques undertaken throughout the workout. The goal of Align is to give each individual the tools needed to take full advantage of the program.
2. We also have another full-body workout in the form of Sculpt. This intense workout helps you achieve greater muscle endurance and a faster metabolism through the use of differently paced exercises, and in the process reshapes your figure.
3. The drench workout is a sweat inducing endurance exercise session that involves each muscle in your body. What you attain out of this exercise is a reduction in your fat deposits and a quick increase in your metabolic rate.
4. We also have the sweat workout which should not be confused with the drench workout listed above. This traditional PiYo workout has a fast tempo, and makes use of dynamic conditioning, ab workouts, cardio yoga flows and body weight resistance strength training to achieve a chiseled physique.
5. Unlike the workouts listed above, the strength intervals workout is designed to tone your muscles and burn your calories in a short period of time. This is done by making use of fast paced dynamic exercises, as opposed to weights.

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6 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

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Diet Mistakes Causing Your Weight-Loss Plateau

Food journal? Check. Regular workouts? Yes, indeed. Enough fiber to keep an entire army regular? You got it. I know how to lose weight. I’ve been writing about the topic for more than a decade. That’s why it was so frustrating when the pounds clung to me like a codependent boyfriend, no matter how hard I tried. A lot of women have this problem, the experts tell me. “Body weight can fluctuate by up to five pounds on any given day, so the amount you shed can easily get lost,” says Pamela Wartian Smith, MD, the author of Why You Can’t Lose Weight. I combed through research and grilled diet gurus to pinpoint little-known reasons that your efforts — and mine — haven’t been showing up on the scale. Who knew?

You Don’t Drink Enough Water

We’ve all heard how important H2O is when it comes to shedding pounds. It helps to suppress appetite, so you’re less likely to overeat. But that’s not all: When you’re dehydrated, your kidneys can’t function properly, so the body turns to the liver for additional support. Because the liver is working so hard, more of the fat you consume is stored rather than burned off.

What surprised me most, though, is that if you’re upping your fiber intake but not also hitting the bottle hard, things tend to get a wee bit, er, backed up. “It’s important to add fiber gradually and increase water intake at the same time. Otherwise, instead of helping with digestion, fiber may actually lead to constipation,” notes Anna-Lisa Finger, RD, a personal trainer for the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center in Baltimore. I often consume nearly double the recommended 25 grams of fiber daily. Gulp.

Just how much water should I be drinking? “About one-half your body weight in ounces every day, especially if you’re exercising,” Dr. Smith says. So the eight-cups-a-day rule applies only to sedentary women who weigh 128 pounds (sure as hell not me!). “If you consume an aggressive amount of fiber, another eight to 16 ounces a day is a good idea,” Dr. Smith adds. H2OMG! That amount of liquid — for me, 12 cups a day, minimum — requires serious effort. I fill up with about a liter at each meal, and I’m a peeing machine.

You Skimp on Protein

Several studies show that high-protein diets result in more pounds shed, at least initially. Protein enhances the feeling of satiety and prevents your losing muscle as you lose fat. You also have dietary thermogenesis, which is the energy you burn to process and use the food you eat, on your side. “Your body expends more energy to metabolize protein than carbs or fat,” says Cari Coulter, RD, the program director for Wellspring Weight Loss Camp in Kenosha, Wisconsin. “So higher-protein diets make you burn slightly more calories.”

So how much protein do I need a day? “It depends on your weight, but most women should get 40 to 80 grams,” Dr. Smith says. To accomplish that, I have Greek yogurt (18 grams) or a couple of eggs (13 grams) for breakfast, and I eat a few ounces of lean poultry (25 grams) or fish (22 grams) or a heaping helping of black beans (15 grams) or lentils (18 grams) at lunch and dinner. I snack on a handful of raw almonds (6 grams). As a result, I feel fuller — sometimes so full I don’t even sneak a bite of my son’s ice cream (the way I used to whether I was hungry or not) — so it’s easier to keep daily calories in check.

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More Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight

You Sit at a Desk All Day

I log a solid hour of exercise almost every day, but outside of that, my time is mostly spent sitting in front of a computer. Much to my dismay, research finds that dedicated workouts simply can’t compensate for being sedentary the rest of the time. According to one University of Missouri-Columbia study, sitting for just a few hours causes your body to stop making a fat-inhibiting enzyme called lipase. Getting up and walking for just two minutes during each of those hours burns an additional 59 calories a day, according to recent research from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Experts recommend setting a timer on the computer to remind you to move every hour, but what’s helped me is the Fitbit One ($100, fitbit.com). I keep this activity tracker clipped to my bra 24-7, and I won’t go to bed until I’ve logged 10,000 steps a day. To accomplish that, I heed some of those recommendations we’ve all heard a million times (“Take the stairs instead of the elevator,” “Park far away from the mall”). I even jog in place while brushing my teeth and watching TV. At first my husband and son laughed their skinny little butts off at me, but now seeing me hopping around the living room strikes them as normal. Walks are part of my family’s evening routine, and “How many steps do you have now?” has become the new “Are we there yet?” I’ve even given Fitbits to friends and family as gifts so we can see who takes the most steps. Move-more mission: accomplished.

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Your Numbers Are Off

I’ve always considered myself a math whiz, so I assumed that I had the whole calories-in, calories-out formula down pat. Here’s how I determined how many I should eat a day: I got my basal metabolic rate (BMR, or the amount of calories I need to maintain my weight) using the online calculator at fitnessmagazine.com/weight-loss/bmr, and I entered “moderate” for my activity level, because I exercise regularly. That gave me about 2,400 calories a day. Then I added whatever calories I burn during my workouts (usually about 500), according to my heart-rate monitor. That meant I could eat almost 3,000 calories a day without gaining a pound (or nearly 2,500 a day to lose a pound a week). Sure, it seemed high, but I had used a calculator. It had to be right!

Not so fast, Coulter says. “The BMR calculator already factors in the calories you burn with your workouts, so you shouldn’t add them in again,” she explains. Math club membership revoked! All this time I had thought my daily needs were 500 calories higher than they really were. No wonder I’d been maintaining instead of losing.

You Work Out Regularly

I know, I know. How can an exercise routine make you gain? For starters, people tend to eat more when they work out, either because they feel they’ve earned it or because they’re overestimating how much they’ve burned — or both. “This is especially true in the early stages of a fitness program, when your body is getting used to the decrease in calories consumed and the increase in calories burned,” Finger says. (Read: You’re freaking hungry.)

But here’s the real shocker: Working out can make you retain water. “To ensure that you don’t get dehydrated, the plasma in your bloodstream will store an extra two to four pounds of water,” explains Michele S. Olson, PhD, a FITNESS advisory board member and professor of exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama. “You’ll always carry that extra water unless you become inactive; it’s not fat or muscle, but simply superhydration. It’s a good thing.” It’s also a good thing to keep chugging H2O, which can, counterintuitively, help minimize additional water retention. So I’ll take Olson’s advice and stay active, well-hydrated…and off the scale.

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You’re a Stress Case

I’m a lot like the lab rats — and humans — who turn to comfort food and pack on pounds when they’re under duress. “The stress hormone cortisol triggers the fight-or-flight response, which is an appetite stimulant,” Dr. Smith says. “In addition, it steps up the production of a certain brain chemical, neuropeptide Y, which increases cravings for carbohydrates.”

Even when I don’t give in to cravings, stress can stall my slim-down. “Too much cortisol slows metabolism,” Dr. Smith says. “Even worse, excessive stress causes fat to be stored in the abdominal area, where weight is harder to lose.” Ugh! I can practically feel my belly expanding every time I have a meltdown over something, including my weight-loss efforts.

Luckily, a lot of the things I’m doing to whittle my middle should also ease my angst. “Exercise reduces stress,” Dr. Smith notes. “Balanced, nutritious meals can repair the damage that stress does to the body, and a social support network also helps.” So my team of Fitbit-wearing friends and fam is helping me beat belly bloat in more ways than one.

Get Weight-Loss Results

Scale Serenity

It’s been three months since I embarked on this adventure, and I’ve lost 12 pounds — a solid pound a week. I’ve increased my water and protein intake, I move more throughout the day, and I’m trying to stress less. But one of the best things I’ve done has been — go figure — not weighing myself, at least for a little while, as Olson suggested. I was tempted in the beginning, but I stuck to my scale embargo for a month. Now I weigh in weekly, but the fluctuations don’t bother me. Really. Because I know I’m creating a daily calorie deficit, and I’ve found other ways to measure my progress (see “Beyond the Numbers,” below). I know the fat is coming off, no matter what the scale says. I feel enlightened — in more ways than one.

Beyond the Numbers

When the scale bums you out, here are three other ways to gauge your progress.

How do your clothes fit? Try on the same pair of jeans and shirt every six to eight weeks.

How do you feel? You should have more energy, sleep better, and feel less stressed.

How much can you do? Keep a workout log and track how much weight you can lift and how many miles you can walk or run.

 

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How to Reduce Body Fat Percentage

The guidelines for how to reduce body fat percentage aren’t complicated.

It’s certainly not necessary to starve yourself to reduce body fat or spend hours every day sweating your body fat off at the gym.

But, in order to reduce body fat percentage numbers permanently you’ll have to make some lifestyle changes and learn some healthy new habits.

And if you put your mind to it, you’ll be the proud new owner of a brand new body in just a few short months. The twelve steps below are the best ways to reduce body fat. Just take it one step at a time to reach your destination.

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How to Reduce Body Fat Percentage in 12 Steps

1.  Build more muscle. One of the best ways to reduce body fat is weight training. As you increase lean muscle mass you burn more calories.

2.  Eat for great health. When you eat for great health you’re making sure to have the necessary energy to exercise and enjoy your life.

3.  Avoid refined carbs. Sugar and other refined carbohydrates, zap your energy, ruin your health and contribute to excess body fat. Stick with whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and other high fiber food.

4.  Enjoy your protein. To make sure you reduce fat and not muscle when losing weight, it’s essential to get enough protein. Use low calorie high protein shakes for mini meals. And have fun adding fruit or flavorings.

5.  Drink more water. As you up your water intake to at least 8 glasses a day, the less hungry and more refreshed you’ll feel.

6.  Increase activity. If you’re eating less calories, low impact physical activity, like walking, swimming and yoga for at least 30 minutes a day, burns fat, builds a strong lean body and helps boost metabolism activity.

7.  Know your calories. When we eat unconsciously, calories start adding up. Make sure you’re not storing up more than you burn for energy.

8.  Have 4-6 mini meals. Instead of 3 big meals a day, go for 4 to 6 small meals. It helps increase metabolism and burn extra calories.

9.   Eat more veggies. Most plain vegetables are so low in calories and so high in fiber content that it’s almost like you’ve eaten no calories at all.

10.  Eliminate sodas. Sodas are bad for your health and add unnecessary calories. Learn to love drinking pure, clean, calorie-free water.

11.  Enjoy other pleasures. Whenever possible, indulge in simple healthy activities that you enjoy (besides eating). Make a list and have fun.

12.  Get much stronger. Strength training improves flexibility, increases fitness, strengthens joints and bones, builds muscle and helps reduce fat.

Now that you know how to reduce body fat percentage, the rest is up to you. Just add one step at a time and increase your pace slow and easy.

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