Exercise PlanOn the internet, absolutely no one can agree on the best exercise plans and methods for weight loss. There’s a reason for that, of course… there isn’t one answer. Every person’s body and weight loss journey is different, and you have to find the path that works best for you. However, there are a few bits of advice floating around out there that are definitely worth avoiding, such as the recommendation to “push through the pain” or any miracle exercise plan that claims to help you train to run a marathon in “only six weeks.”

Your Body Knows What You Need

If it’s causing you pain, there’s a reason, and there’s a distinct difference between slight soreness after a good workout and a sharp muscle pain during one. Your energy levels, metabolism, and personal needs will dictate the type of exercise plan that will work best for you. It’s important not to start out aiming too high so that you don’t get discouraged and quit. Always start slow — 30 minutes of exercise three days a week is an excellent place to begin. Avoid jumping directly into hardcore cardio or weight training. Pay attention to your current fitness level and ability and choose an appropriate exercise regimen. Visiting a trainer at a gym can help you create a good plan if you don’t know where to start, and even if you’re just lifting small weights for 30 minutes a few days a week, that’s perfect. We all have to start somewhere!

The most important thing is sticking to a continued plan. No matter what you choose, you should be able to do it for half an hour without stopping or resting. Don’t ignore your body’s signals — if it’s telling you to slow down or stop, listen. If you ever have chest pain, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, or any other concerning issues, stop immediately and consult a medical professional. Pushing through could cause you serious injury or health problems.

The last piece of the puzzle is choosing to do something you really enjoy. Exercise shouldn’t be stressful and something you hate doing. Do you love to stretch and dance? Try Zumba! Prefer to be outside? Consider power walking or jogging. If you have trouble with your joints, swimming is excellent cardio exercise that doesn’t stress them. Pilates, yoga, strength training, cycling, jump rope, even pole dancing… do something that makes you feel good when you’re done!

Dedicated weight loss takes time and persistence. Don’t give up! It’s also important to take a good look at your diet — all the exercise in the world can’t make up for a poor diet. If you look closely at what you’re putting in your body and what you’re putting your body through, you’ll see results! For counseling or coaching, contact us here at St. Joseph Health Medical Group.


Staying HydratedWe all know that staying hydrated is good for our health, but do you understand why? Surprisingly, many people don’t. In fact, most people are likely to be considered “mildly dehydrated” on a given day because they aren’t getting enough fluids, even though they think they are.

First things first: why is hydration important?

Our body is made up of mostly water because we need it to maintain proper cellular function. When we don’t regularly replenish our water levels by consuming fluids, our body’s ability to function on a cellular level can be seriously impaired. To combat this, adults should be consuming about 64-80 ounces of water every day — or 8-10 ten-ounce glasses.

Part of the problem comes in when people are trying to lose weight. Exercise and sweating causes us to lose more water in our system, of course, but even when you aren’t active, you should be drinking water. We lose moisture every day from urination and even breathing, so there’s never a day when you shouldn’t be consuming water regularly. People often hear the term “water weight” and assume it means weight that comes from the water in your system at a given time, so they choose to drink less. Unfortunately, this actually has the opposite effect on your weight — dehydration causes you to retain water, which increases your water weight gain. This is also why you may notice your weight fluctuates after eating salty foods. Salt dehydrates us, which causes water retention as our body tries to compensate.

What’s the solution?

Drink more water. The easiest way to determine whether or not you’re dehydrated is by checking your urine every time you use the toilet. It should never smell bad or be dark or cloudy, which are all indicators of dehydration. While some vitamins and supplements can change the color of your urine, for the most part it should be pale yellow or straw-colored if you’re getting enough fluids.

Keep a water bottle with you throughout the day, especially if you’re exercising or the weather is warm. Pregnancy and nursing also have an impact on your water levels because you’re producing more blood, amniotic fluid, or milk, so make sure you take that into account and consume more staying hydrated as necessary. There are many apps for smart devices to help you keep track of your water intake, so don’t be afraid to test them out!


Holiday Weight GainWe all know the literal burden of holiday weight gain well. It seems like it sneaks up on us, and then suddenly we’re preparing to go back to work and notice that the scale is telling you that you’re ten pounds heavier than you were a month or two ago. Yikes! We generally offer plenty of tips to stay slim during the holiday season, before the weight gain becomes an issue, but we know that sometimes it gets away from you. Even with New Year’s Resolutions for weight loss, it’s very likely that the weight will come right back — 80% of people who lose weight end up gaining it back within a year. That’s not great to hear, but with the right focus on maintaining a healthy weight, you can figure out how to keep it off.

Holiday Weight Loss Tips

Staying active is the most important thing you can do to maintain your weight.

Crash diets and exercise “boot camps” that end after 30-60 days may give you immediate results and a sudden drop in weight, but it won’t last. In order to maintain a healthy weight, your activity level must remain consistent and can never be abandoned outright. Don’t fret — your routine doesn’t have to be a hardcore Crossfit-style regimen in order to keep your weight down. One study showed that people who walk about five miles a day are more likely to keep the weight off. That’s certainly doable.

Start a food and activity journal.

The simple action of paying more attention to your calorie intake and output will help keep you accountable and give you a better grasp on how, when, and what you’re eating. Once you’ve reached a weight loss goal, it’s very easy to stop keeping track of calories and skip exercise, but doing so will almost certainly lead to your weight creeping back up. When you keep a regular diary, you can see the patterns in your daily life and learn what helps you — and what hinders you.

Always eat all your meals, especially breakfast.

Numerous studies have shown that skipping meals, particularly the first meal of the day, impacts your eating habits and can actually lead to weight gain. By having regular meals, especially earlier in the day, you have more opportunity to burn off the calories and maintain a functional metabolism. Hunger from missed meals can also cause you to overeat, so be careful.

Maintain a healthy balanced diet.

You’ve been hearing this one since grade school, but it’s still true! Getting the proper nutrients every day and maintaining a proper balance from a variety of foods will keep your body fine-tuned and feeling good. Fruits, veggies, lean protein, whole grains… they all help you function. Make sure you’re eating the proper portions!

Weigh yourself regularly, but don’t obsess.

Regular weigh-ins shouldn’t be used to guilt yourself or stress out when the number fluctuates. They’re a way to prevent surprises and make sure you’re on track, as well as showing you just how much your weight can fluctuate given the time of day, your water and salt intake, your exercise level, monthly hormonal changes, and more. In combination with a food and exercise diary, it lets you notice the patterns and not freak out when your weight fluctuates a tiny bit on a given week. It’s normal! The most important thing is maintaining a healthy weight.

These are the most effective tricks used by people who keep the weight off for two or more years. If you’d like additional guidance, reach out to the team at St. Joseph Health Medical Group anytime!


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!


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!