Belly FatWe all have to deal with belly fat at one point or another. Regardless of your weight or body type, everyone has some sort of abdominal fat. Yes, even if you’re thin and have clearly defined abs! A certain amount of fat is normal. However, when your waistline starts to expand, it can indicate bigger issues beneath the surface, so take note.

If you’ve noticed you’re carrying more weight around the middle than you used to, you might also be dealing with visceral fat located deep inside around your organs. This type of fat is intended for cushioning, but if it starts to build up, it can cause all kinds of problems – diabetes, heart disease, and more. What causes visceral fat? It’s not all greasy food and chocolate shakes, although diet is most definitely a factor. Genetics and activity level also play a significant role, with inactivity being a top contender in a person’s likelihood to have excess visceral fat.

So how do you keep yourself fit and make sure your organs aren’t developing too much padding? Here are a few of our tips!

  1. Increase your activity level. This is the absolute best way to both lose that pesky pooch and make sure that you’re staying healthy. If you spend more time on the couch than the treadmill, it can be difficult to get into the exercise mentality. However, there are plenty of ways to start increasing your activity level that don’t involve rigorous step aerobics or hitting the gym. Even walking at a brisk pace for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week will do wonders for your health and help reduce the fat.
  2. Reduce your stress levels. While everyone has to deal with stress, there are definitely things in our everyday life that can exacerbate it even more. If you’re dealing with digestive trouble or weight gain due to your diet or lack of exercise, it may add to your stress level, which feeds right back into weight gain. Exercise to increase your endorphins and unwind, or incorporate more relaxation into your routine. It’s good for your body AND mind!
  3. Improve your diet. While there’s no miracle diet that will specifically help get rid of visceral and belly fat, being mindful of your diet will help your overall health while reducing fat. Increasing your fiber intake will help a great deal, as studies show that people with good fiber intake tend to have less belly fat.
  4. Get a good night’s rest. Your sleep habits also affect your weight! Research has shown that people who get an average of 6 to 7 hours of sleep a night have less visceral fat than people who get more or less. Make sure you’re getting in quality zzz’s, but don’t overdo it.

Follow this advice and you’ll be well on your way to slimming down that stubborn belly fat and living a healthier life. For more advice or to speak with a nutrition expert about your options, contact us here at Med Lite!


Losing WeightWe all know the typical tricks and tips for losing weight and keeping it off – weigh yourself daily, keep track of your calories, don’t eat fattening foods often, cut back on beer and wine. But what about the things that are less obvious? Here are five more ways to keep the weight off after you’ve shed those pounds.

  1. Keep it simple – one step at a time! One of the top ways to get discouraged during your weight loss journey (which continues on even after you’ve dropped the weight) is to bite off more than you can comfortably chew. Don’t try to leap directly from your average daily routine to a two-hour workout every evening. Start small – cut the cream in your morning coffee, take a longer walk after work, or vow to do ten minutes of cardio. You can always build on it once you’ve made it part of the routine!
  2. Watch your portion sizes. Our culture doesn’t exactly make things easy on people who practice portion control. Practically everywhere you go, the portions are out of control — from the snack aisle at the supermarket to just about any restaurant. When we’re hungry and we have a big plate of food in front of us, it’s easy to polish off more than we should without a second thought. Don’t fall into that trap! Take the time to learn what a “portion” actually is and keep track of exactly how much you’re eating.
  3. Plan ahead for tough times. Stress is a major factor when it comes to weight gain. When things feel out of control or you’re tight for time, falling into easy fixes and skipping workouts is only natural. In order to avoid the worst of it, plan ahead. When you know something’s coming up on you, make sure you factor in ways to maintain your healthy eating habits and regular activities, too. Sometimes the simple act of mental prep can keep you on the right track.
  4. Keep a list of behaviors that hurt you in the past. Write down all of your known bad habits on a list and keep it somewhere that you’ll be able to see regularly. It may seem a little silly, but check it often. If you find yourself slipping into your “danger zone” behaviors, nip them in the bud.
  5. Make tangible goals that build on each other. Build a climbing list of goals, with the easily reachable stuff first and the tougher stuff later. Give yourself mini-goals in between, too, so there’s always something to work toward. For example, you can start with “add five minutes to walk every day until I reach 45 minutes” and move toward “run a half-marathon.” Plan out a nice reward for yourself after every major goal to keep you motivated.

Here’s the most important tip of all: stay positive! You can do this! Maintaining a healthy weight is a constant journey, but with the right tools and support, you’re already well on your way. For more guidance, contact us here at St. Joseph Health Medical Group!


Holiday Weight GainHoliday weight gain can really sneak up on you, which is why we’ve offered up tips on staying slim during all the big meals and parties. Even with New Year’s Resolutions for weight loss and getting your weight back down, it’s likely it’ll come right back again – up to 80% of people who lose weight gain it back within a year. Those seem like pretty steep odds, but with the right combination of willpower and helpful tricks, you can maintain your slimmed-down size.

The most important way to keep your weight down is to stay active. Too many people try an amped-up exercise routine to lose the pounds and then promptly drop it when it’s no longer “necessary.” In order to maintain a healthy weight, activity level can never go by the wayside. Fear not – you don’t have to keep up with a hardcore routine, you just have to make sure you’re staying regularly active. One study showed that people who walk approximately five miles a day are more likely to keep the weight off.

Keep a food and activity journal. Writing down everything you’re doing to stay healthy helps keep you accountable. Once you’re no longer in the midst of weight loss, it’s easy to lose track of calories and skimp on exercise. Keeping a record will force you to really pay attention to what’s going in your body, how much you’re eating, and how much you’re working off. Having everything in plain numbers will also help you detect patterns with your weight gain. For example, did you gain weight after eating particular foods?

Always eat breakfast… and other meals! Study after study shows that people who eat breakfast regularly have more success in keeping weight off. The reason is multifold – consuming more calories earlier in the day, rather than later, gives you more opportunity to get active and burn off the excess. In addition, skipping meals has a negative impact on your metabolism. When your body expects less food, it adjusts to compensate. Morning hunger may also cause you to overeat later in the day.

Maintain a balanced diet. This tip goes back to grade school, but it remains as true as ever! Ensuring your body gets all its nutrients every day helps prevent cravings and keeps you feeling good. Fruits, veggies, lean protein, whole grains… make sure you’re eating the right combination in the right portions.

Weigh yourself every single day. We don’t recommend obsessing over it, but getting in a daily weight check will prevent surprises and help you see if you’re getting off track. Our weight naturally fluctuates over time, so don’t get too worried about a pound or two that goes up and down, but if you start to see that number ticking steadily up, you know something’s got to change. Research shows that people who use this method are more likely to maintain a healthy weight.

These are a few of the most effective tricks used by people who keep their weight off for more than two years. For more advice, weight loss plans, and more, contact us here at St. Joseph Health Medical Group!


Keeping Slim Through the Holiday SeasonAs soon as those holiday decorations start going up, we’re all hit with a deluge of memories and sentiment. It reminds us of family, togetherness, love, warmth… and food. Lots and lots of holiday food. There’s a reason so many New Year’s Resolutions involve diet and exercise – when it comes to the winter holidays, we tend to indulge. However, the onslaught of colder weather doesn’t have to mean packing on the pounds.

There are many ways to keep your figure safe and sound during the busiest and most fattening time of the year. Here are a few tips that will keep your willpower strong and your waist trim.

Don’t come to the party hungry. It’s not uncommon for people to skip the meal before a big holiday dinner so that they can “pack it in” later. Don’t do this — it only lends to the psychology of overindulging. Instead, have a healthy snack and a glass of water before you leave so there’s something in your stomach to temper the temptation to eat everything in sight. Continue to drink water throughout the event, and pace yourself! Listen to your body.

Avoid getting into Grazing Mode. November and December are packed full of events, company dinners, potlucks, parties, and a million other get togethers that involve copious amounts of finger food and buffet-style eating. When you’re at a party with ample holiday food constantly available, it’s incredibly easy to take a nibble here and a bite there for hours on end. It may not feel like much at the time, but it all adds up. Be mindful of everything you’re eating and give yourself a cutoff, or gravitate toward the healthier fare, like the fruit and veggie platter. If you don’t know what’s in it, don’t eat too much.

Stay active, even when you don’t feel like it. It’s incredibly tempting to go into exercise hibernation during the coldest months of the year, especially if you’re a jogger or someone who gets your activity outdoors. It may be cozier under a blanket with a mug of hot cocoa, but your body will notice the change in activity level and put on weight accordingly. Either maintain your current regimen or find alternate exercise outlets indoors.

Mind your portion sizes. The holidays are all about excess, so it’s important to be mindful of how much is going on your plate. It’s not uncommon to pile your servings high or go back for a second helping, but you can’t ignore the skyrocketing calorie count. Don’t eat to stuff yourself. Consume your food slowly, and when you’re full, stop. Don’t let Grandma guilt you into licking your plate clean!

Watch out for alcohol. Drinking certainly lowers your inhibitions and makes you more likely to throw caution to the wind when it comes to food, but beverages also contain calories of their own. We often forget that a glass of wine or beer contains a lot of sugar and calories. Have one or two drinks if you must, then switch to water. Be especially mindful of eggnog!

You don’t have to completely avoid all of the yummiest foods the holidays have to offer, you just have to be smart about how you consume them. For more information and advice, or even holiday food plans, contact us here at St. Joseph Health Medical Group! Happy Holidays!


Sleep HabitsMany people associate sleep with laziness, assuming that more sleep means you’re lethargic and out of shape. For many, packing more activity into their day and getting the bare minimum amount of sleep is actually a point of pride. They think sleep isn’t important. Those people are wrong – sleep is one of our body’s most essential needs.

Sleeping isn’t just something we do to replenish our energy. While we sleep, our body is doing many things – releasing hormones to regulate our system, digesting food, repairing tissue, and making sure everything’s working as it should. This is especially important when as it relates to weight management. It’s a common misconception that sleeping is the opposite of exercise, implying that because your body is inactive, you’re not doing anything to help with weight loss. This isn’t true. In fact, your body is releasing two hormones – Leptin and Ghrelin – that specifically affect your appetite. If you’re regularly getting poor or too little sleep, these hormones end up at skewed levels, which is especially important when it comes to Leptin. Leptin is the hormone that lets you know when it’s time to stop eating. When you have less of this hormone in your system, it’s very easy to overeat.

If you’re getting a good night’s rest, which most experts agree is somewhere between 6.5-8 hours, then studies show that you’re likely to have lower body fat than people who get more or less sleep. Consistency is also a key factor! Irregular sleep schedules can put the body off its game, as shown by a recent study at Brigham Young University. Turns out the best bet for losing weight and maintaining healthy weight is by getting regular, quality sleep.

Energy level can also greatly affect your weight. When you’re constantly waking up groggy and tired, psychologically you’re less likely to make healthy choices. You’ll be more prone to choosing easier and less healthy food options, such as processed foods, and you may be tempted to skip out on your usual activities. If this happens often enough, you’ll start to notice it in your weight. Additionally, lack of sleep can increase our stress levels, which in turn can result in any number of bad habits, including overeating.

Mind what you’re eating before you hit the hay. While it’s a myth that you should go to bed on an empty stomach, you should also be mindful of acidic or fatty foods if you have health issues that crop up while you’re sleeping, such as acid reflux or gallbladder pain. These problems can cause poor sleep, which has a similar effect to no sleep.

For more information and guidance about how to structure your schedule and diet to maximize weight loss, give the St. Joseph Health Medical Group team a call!


Exercise PlanWhen you’re scouring the internet for exercise plans and weight loss tips, you’ll often see a lot of conflicting information. You may also see some advice that sounds downright wrong… things like “push through the pain” and “you can train to run a marathon in six weeks.” When it comes to exercise, there’s really only one “best” exercise plan: the one that you’ll actually stick to!

Everyone is unique. Your body, metabolism, energy levels, and personal needs can’t be reduced to a single one-size-fits-all exercise plan. Many people start out aiming too high, quickly become discouraged, and quit. Don’t try to take on more than you can realistically handle. Start slow – a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise three days a week is a good place to start. Don’t immediately jump into hard-core cardio, though. Try something appropriate to your level. Even if you’re just walking with small weights for thirty minutes, that’s good enough to start. You can always build up!

You do have to stick to continuous exercise. Whatever you choose, you should be able to do it for half an hour without stopping or resting. Listen to your body. If it’s telling you to slow down, that’s okay. If you ever have chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, or anything else that makes you feel sick or in pain, stop immediately and consult a medical professional. Don’t “push through the pain” – you could seriously hurt yourself.

The key is really in finding an exercise routine that you enjoy. If you hate the treadmill, then don’t use it! Find something that works for you. If you love to dance, try Zumba. Want to mix it up? Try out a “boot camp.” To get outside and enjoy the fresh air, take up walking or jogging. Trouble with your joints? Try swimming instead. Need something low-impact that will improve your strength and flexibility? Pilates might be for you. Improve muscle tone with weight training, or feel the burn with aerobic exercise to amp up that cardio. Do something that makes you feel good after you’re done.

Weight loss takes dedication. You’ll likely have to modify your diet AND exercise regularly to see the results you want. This is why it’s important to find the routine that works for you! For counseling or coaching, contact St. Joseph Health Medical Group.


Staying HydratedEveryone’s heard the adage that staying hydrated is good for the body, but do we really know why? Your body requires an adequate amount of water to maintain proper cellular function. This means that dehydration actually impairs your body’s ability to function correctly, which can cause any number of health issues, ranging from mild to serious. You may think you get enough fluids, but that’s not always the case. Many people don’t know they are chronically dehydrated. Dehydration comes at many levels, and most of us are likely to fall under the “mildly dehydrated” category at any given time.

You’ve likely also heard the term “water weight” before, and possibly erroneously assumed it relates to weight caused by the level of water in our body. If you consume less water, that means less water weight, right? This isn’t true. When you’re dehydrated, you can actually gain weight. Why? If your system doesn’t receive adequate hydration, it will respond by conserving water, which actually leads to water weight gain.

How can you prevent this from happening? By drinking plenty of water. How much should you drink? This is a tougher question. There’s no set rule on how much one should drink, though a common guideline is eight to ten 8oz glasses of water a day (that’s 64-80oz total). If you need to gauge whether you’re drinking enough water, take a look at your urine output. Your urine should NOT be dark, cloudy, or foul-smelling. If it is, you need to increase your water intake, and if symptoms persist, see a medical professional. If you’re properly hydrated, your urine should be very light yellow or pale straw colored. Sometimes diet or vitamin intake can change the color of your urine, so keep that in mind as well.

Don’t assume that you don’t have to consume water if you aren’t active on a particular day. While much of our moisture is lost through sweat, we also regularly use fluid through urination and even breathing. If the weather has been especially warm, you’ve been sick, or you work out regularly, you’ll need to make sure you’re replenishing the water you’ve lost. If you need help increasing your water intake, try keeping a water bottle with you throughout the day to help remind you to drink and help you keep track of your intake. For any additional questions about staying hydrated, leave a comment!