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The Best Ways to Use Leftover Hummus (Besides Scraping the Container With Your Finger)

Who doesn’t love coating a pita chip with a glob of hummus at snack time? Yeah, thought so. But what do you do when you reach for the container to find there’s only a tablespoon or two left? Before a single tear runs down your cheek, think of it this way: You’re on your way to the start of a great recipe. From salad dressing to pasta sauce, these are the best ways to use the last remains of hummus. (TBH, these recipes are so good you may want to stock up on the spread anyway just to make them all.)

Not in the mood to read a recipe? Smear that extra hummus on a burger or sandwich (extra points for grilled cheese), or use it as “sauce” for a flatbread pizza with veggies and feta.

1. Hummus Dressing Photo: Delish Knowledge What’s the secret ingredient behind this thick, creamy dressing? Hummus, of course. Blend the dip with dill (for freshness) and a glug of zingy lemon juice, then pour it over salads and roasted veggies alike. 2. Hummus-Crusted Chicken Smear the dip over a chicken breast for dinner tonight and you’ll wonder why you ever used a flour-and-egg mixture. Garlicky hummus creates a thin crust on the meat, and when spooned over a baking dish of veggies, pools into a light sauce after its trip in the oven. 3. Greek Tot-Nachos Reimagine nachos with gobs of hummus instead of salsa and swap in tater tots for chips. This cozy skillet is perfect for winter eating sports season. 4. Hummus Pasta Sauce Photo: Quite Good Food We’d really like hummus pasta sauce to be the *next big thing.* The velvety sauce coats each noodle (or zoodle) strand just as well as alfredo sauce—only this creamy blend won’t make you too full for seconds. And isn’t that really what it’s all about? 5. Vegan Queso Hummus Photo: Fuduzzi OK, so you need 10 ounces of hummus for this recipe, but we couldn’t help ourselves: It’s vegan queso, y’all. If you need us, we’ll be spooning this over chips, pretending we’re 13 again at the movie theater. 6. Hummus Chicken Salad Ditch the mayo and spoon extra hummus into your chicken salad mixture. Not only does it add tons of flavor, the fat from chickpeas is much better for you than that white stuff. 7. Mediterranean Lentil Dip “Two pulses are better than one” is what this chickpea and lentil dip would say if it could talk. Super filling and way more exciting than boring ol’ bean dip, this hearty spread deserves to be smeared on thick slices of bread instead of wimpy crackers.

39 Paleo Snacks That Make the Eating Plan Look Easy (No, Really!)

No grains? No problem. Paleo eaters may shun grains, processed vegetable oils, and refined sugars, but that doesn’t stop them from enjoying plenty of delicious dishes—and creating some downright ingenious recipe substitutions. Whether you’re a longtime primal-eating fanatic or just curious about what it’s like to go back to dietary basics, we’ve got 39 delicious Paleo-approved snacks for whenever hunger strikes.

Paleo Classics 1. Cauliflower Popcorn Photo: Ditch the Wheat Corn is a Paleo no-no, so replace the movie theater favorite with a more nutritious cauliflower version. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then sprinkle with onion powder and chives. It’s not exactly the same, but you’ll get a similar satisfying crunch. 2. Pumpkin Hummus Photo: What Great Grandma Ate Going Paleo means saying good-bye to traditional hummus. This recipe swaps soaked cashews for chickpeas, giving it a slightly nutty taste that works oh so well with pumpkin purée. Serve with slices of your favorite dip-able vegetables, Paleo crackers, or just spoon it right into your mouth—we won’t judge. 3. Springtime Guacamole Photo: Clean Eating Veggie Girl We could eat guac all day, every day. This version keeps the classic cilantro and lime juice, but adds in green onions and radishes to keep it nightshade free. A little pink Himalayan salt and garlic powder goes a long way here. And we are adding a touch of hot sauce too. 4. Mediterranean Hummus Photo: Per Chance To Cook Sure, you can’t have chickpeas, but that’s no reason to ditch hummus for good. This Mediterranean alternative uses cauliflower and eggplant instead, plus red pepper, tahini, and lemon juice. Throw in some spices and a touch of olive oil, and snack away. 5. Roasted Garlic Baba Ghanoush Photo: A Clean Bake Eggplants are Paleo friendly for most, but store-bought baba ghanoush can still contain loads of hidden mayo—and that can mean unwanted vegetable oils. Go for a simple, mayo-free recipe with lots of garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice for a fresher take that won’t weigh you down. Try pairing this dip with some Paleo-friendly homemade rosemary sesame crackers. 6. Prosciutto-Wrapped Melon Photo: Delicious As It Looks A sweeter combo than most Paleo snacks, this easy recipe requires zero cooking. Pick a favorite melon (cantaloupe and honeydew work well) and wrap with preservative-free prosciutto for a juicy snack with a salty kick. Mint leaves and a balsamic vinegar and olive oil drizzle take this to an A+ level finger food. 7. Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus Photo: Bravo For Paleo Boil asparagus, cool in ice water, then wrap in a preservative-free prosciutto and roast for seven minutes, or until the prosciutto is crispy. This salty snack will also impress as an appetizer. Serve with a little olive oil drizzled on top and a dash of lemon pepper. 8. Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Bacon Photo: Food Faith Fitness Ah, Brussels sprouts. We’ve learned to love this veg in almost every form. Roast with diced bacon, chopped apples, and pomegranate seeds, and there’s even more to celebrate. 9. Avocado Deviled Eggs Photo: Slim Sanity Mash hard-boiled egg yolks with avocado, cilantro, garlic salt, and pepper, then stuff into egg whites for a greener take on deviled eggs. Bet you can’t eat just one. (We couldn’t eat just four.) 10. Baked Egg Cups Photo: A Healthy Life For Me Make these three-ingredient egg cups on Sunday and enjoy them throughout the week for breakfast or a quick snack. Each muffin tin slot gets a slice of bacon, an egg, and a few asparagus spears. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top and pop in the oven for 12-17 minutes, depending on how you like your eggs. 11. Avocado Tuna Salad Photo: Cook Eat Paleo Presentation is on point in this simple, protein-packed snack. Cut an avocado in half and scoop out the middle, mixing the good stuff in a bowl with lemon juice, onion, tuna, salt, and pepper. Scoop the mixture back into avocado halves and dig in. 12. Chunky Monkey Trail Mix Photo: Cotter Crunch Let’s face it: A lot of the best-tasting trail mixes aren’t the best for Paleo peeps, since sugar-coated dried fruit, milk chocolate morsels, and peanuts often take center stage. Make your own version at home by opting for walnuts, cashews, unsweetened banana chips, and Paleo-friendly fudge chunks for just the right amount of sweetness. 13. Bacon-Wrapped Butternut Squash Photo: Paleo Leap We’re pretty much down for bacon-wrapped anything, and lucky for us, it’s often Paleo approved. Try this sweet and savory combo for a snack that’s great served hot and cold. Experiment with different thicknesses and varieties of bacon for a twist on flavor. 14. Egg-Stuffed Peppers Photo: Stupid Easy Paleo Stuffed peppers just got way simpler. Cut off the top of the pepper, toss out the seeds, and bake for 15 minutes. Then stuff with spinach and a raw egg, and bake for another 15-20, or until the egg whites are no longer transparent. No scooping necessary! 15. Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes Photo: Tastes Lovely Sweet potatoes are a Paleo favorite, especially since they can be cooked so many different ways. This simple recipe lets the potato be the star, with just four other ingredients: fresh rosemary, olive oil, salt, and pepper. 16. Almond-Crusted Baked Zucchini Crisps Photo: The Iron You Course almond flour gives these crisps restaurant-style breading—without the bread. Garlic powder, thyme, sea salt, and pepper, bring out the flavor in these bad boys, and an egg ties it all together while also packing in some protein. Even non-Paleo eaters will love these. Carnivore's Delight 17. Pepperoni Pizza Bites Photo: Paleo Leap No crust? No problem. These bite-size snacks use preservative-free pepperoni or salami as their base. Top with sweet peppers, tomatoes, sauce, almond "cheese," and a sprinkle of fresh basil for the full pizza experience. 18. Honey-Lime Chicken Wings Photo: My Natural Family There are endless ways to serve chicken, but this recipe gets a special nod for proving wings don’t need to be breaded and deep-fried to taste great. 19. Turkey Meatballs Photo: A Healthy Life For Me Paleo enthusiasts have revamped the art of making meatballs, and this recipe goes above and beyond by using almond flour to ensure they actually stay together. The spicy hot sauce and fragrant Italian seasoning makes you forget all about the spaghetti that’s usually underneath. 20. Coconut-Crusted Chicken Strips Photo: In Sonnet's Kitchen Say good-bye to fried mystery meat. These coconut-crusted nuggets bring back some major childhood memories, but are way less sketchy than whatever comes out of a drive-through window. Best of all, these nuggets come with a recipe for Paleo honey mustard dipping sauce for a condiment we won’t have to write off as a cheat meal. 21. Kitchen Sink Egg Muffins Photo: Sarah Lynn Smile Miss muffins on Paleo? Try this version—basically mini omelets baked in a muffin tin—for an infinitely customizable snack. Fill with your favorite veggies and meats, like chicken sausage or ham, and enjoy for breakfast or whenever a snack craving hits. 22. Beef Jerky Photo: Flo and Grace Jerky lovers were eating Paleo before it was cool (well, before it was cool again). Dried or smoked meat is the modern caveman’s ultimate snack. This simple recipe has to go in a dehydrator for a few hours but lasts for about two weeks, so we think it’s worth the wait. 23. Lemon Garlic Chicken Skewers Photo: What The Fork Here’s a three-ingredient kebab combo that’s great to prep ahead of time (and trust us, they keep well enough in the fridge for a next-day snack). Cut chicken breasts into cubes and marinate in Tessemae’s Lemon Garlic Dressing for 1-3 hours. Thread cubes onto a skewer and grill for about 15 minutes, then garnish with fresh parsley. No extra sauce needed. On-the-Go Faves 24. Kale Chips With Garlic Aioli Photo: Bravo For Paleo Hand-tear kale into bite-size pieces, coat in olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, and bake until the edges are crunchy and brown. Serve with garlic aioli for a Paleo-approved snack that tastes anything but. 25. Toasted Pumpkin Seeds Photo: Simply Recipes While this recipe is probably easiest around Halloween, roasted pumpkin seeds keep great in bags for a truly mobile snack. Sprinkle with cumin or curry powder for a slightly spicier version. 26. Rosemary Sesame Herb Crackers Photo: The Healthy Foodie Crackers can be tough to replicate with Paleo-approved ingredients, but these taste pretty frickin good to us. A blend of nut flours, plenty of fresh herbs, and toasted sesame seeds give these crackers big flavor. Serve with any of the guac, hummus, or dip recipes above. 27. Ultimate Seed Crackers Photo: Downshiftology Pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, and chia seeds combine to make the ultimate crispy-crunchy Paleo crackers. These can be used as dippers if made thick enough, but are just as good on their own, especially when you add some herbs and spices, such as garlic, thyme, or basil. 28. Chocolate Coconut Cashew Bars Photo: Cotter Crunch Energy bars are great on the go, but sometimes their complex ingredient lists don’t make for the cleanest eating. Make some Paleo bars on the cheap by blending figs, cashews, coconut flakes, vanilla, and a dash of sea salt, then pouring a thin layer of melted dark chocolate chunks on top. 29. Garlic Herb-Roasted Nuts Photo: Little Bits Of DIY roasted nuts are easier than you’d think—all you need is a bag of mixed nuts, an egg white, and go-to spices: sea salt, pepper, rosemary, sage, garlic powder, and paprika. Coat the nuts in the egg white in one bowl, and mix all the spices in another. Pour the spice mix over the nuts, transfer to a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper, and roast for 16 minutes. 30. Carrot Cake Energy Balls Photo: Physical Kitchness Sweet treats that actually contain a ton veggies? Sign us up. Shred carrots and pecans, then mix with egg whites, cinnamon, raw honey, coconut flour, and ground flaxseed. Form into balls and bake for 12-15 minutes. Eat a few warm and save the rest for hikes, morning commutes, or that 3 p.m. hunger pang. Sweet Treats 31. Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream Photo: Jessica in the Kitchen It’s not quite as easy as one-ingredient banana ice cream, but it’s definitely as tasty. This recipe calls for coconut cream to give the finished product a smooth texture, and can be made with or without an ice cream maker. 32. Grilled Peaches Photo: Amee's Savory Dish Halve fresh peaches and coat the cut sides in ghee or coconut oil instead of grapeseed oil, then grill on medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, flesh side down. They’re sweet enough as is, but serving with some natural honey or a sprinkle of cinnamon can boost the flavor even more. 33. Almond Joy Fudgesicles Photo: My Modern Cookery A Paleo work-around for an ice cream truck classic? We thought it was impossible, till we tried these fudgy chocolate bars. They’re avocado based (obviously) and use cocoa powder, honey, and coconut milk to mirror the original’s taste and consistency. 34. Strawberry Banana Sorbet Photo: Recipe Diaries Four-ingredient recipes are always a winner in our book. This one uses frozen strawberries and bananas, plus almond milk and vanilla. Blend them all in a food processor or high-speed blender and freeze for a few hours. Sweet sweet sorbet, here you come. 35. Blackberry Mint Lime Fruit Leather Photo: Steele House Kitchen Avoid added sugars and preservatives with this homemade fruit leather. Use blackberries, mint, lime juice, and zest, and honey for a tart but sweet flavor combo. All the ingredients get blended together, then rolled out onto parchment paper and baked till dry. 36. Almond Butter Baked Apples Photo: Making Thyme For Health Core fresh apples and fill with almond butter, pecans, raisins, coconut, and pumpkin seeds, plus a pinch of sea salt and cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes and enjoy a dense, flavorful dessert (or breakfast!). 37. Dark Chocolate Coconut Energy Bites Photo: Healthy Liv Another take on the no-bake energy balls, this recipe uses dates, nuts, unsweetened cocoa powder, coconut, and vanilla for a sweet treat that tastes like a healthed-up brownie bite. 38. Magic Cookie Bars Photo: Food Faith Fitness Paleo cookie bars sounds like an oxymoron, but with coconut milk, honey, coconut flour, almonds, and coconut oil, it can be done. Warning: Dairy-free dark chocolate chips and unsweetened coconut flakes make it reallyyy hard to eat just one. 39. Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding Photo: Sprouted Routes Ditch the pumpkin pie and make this sweet custard instead, using dates, puréed pumpkin, creamy nut milk (like coconut or cashew), chia seeds, and all the fall spices—cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and salt.

Originally published June 2013. Updated January 2017.

Superbug resistant to all U.S. antibiotics kills Nevada woman

A Nevada woman has died from a “superbug,” an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria. This one, called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), is resistant to every antibiotic available in the United States.

The victim, who is unnamed, was in her 70s. She was initially hospitalized in August 2016 after returning from a trip to India. There, she had sought treatment for a broken hip several times in recent years, most recently in June 2016. Her most recent hospitalization, according to a postmortem CDC report, was in June 2016.

>> Read more trending stories

The victim died of septic shock. Though she died in September, the CDC report is the first public notice of this death; the hospital did not publicize her hospitalization or death. Washoe County Health District spokesman Phil Ulibarri said the superbug case wasn’t publicized at the time because it posed no threat to the public. He told the Las Vegas Review-Journal it was “an isolated case.”

Initially, the hospital discovered that all 14 types of antibiotics available to them were ineffective. Later testing would show that not one of the 26 antibiotics available in the United States would have impeded the progress of this aggressive bacteria. Once mutated, drug-resistant bacteria can pass on their resistance to others. Strains of bacteria primarily gain antibiotic resistance through overprescription and misuse. (Prescribing antibiotics for a virus and failing to take antibiotics through a full regimen are two examples.)

The CDC has been sounding the alarm on antibiotic-resistant superbugs for years. In a 2013 report, it said superbugs infect 2 million people and kill 23,000 every year.

Jessica Alba's Honest Co. recalls organic baby powder over infection risk

Jessica Alba's The Honest Co. is recalling its organic baby powder over risks of eye and skin infections.

The company, co-founded by Alba and Christopher Gavigan, announced earlier this month that it is recalling "all lots" of the product "due to possible contamination with microorganisms, including some species associated with skin infections or eye infections."

"We've decided to voluntarily recall this product out of an abundance of caution," Gavigan said last week in a YouTube video.

>> Watch the video here

<iframe width="390" height="219" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-ZUnWLHNPZs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

The recalled product has a UPC of 817810014529 and was sold in 4-ounce containers. Customers who bought the baby powder can return it for a refund.

>> Read more trending stories

For more information, call 1-888-688-8653 in the U.S. or 1-888-532-0190 in Canada from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday. Customers also can email support@thehonestcompany.com with the subject "Baby Powder."

Read more here.

#RECALL: @Honest recalls their Organic Baby Powder due to possible eye and skin infections https://t.co/pSG0IqEk2V pic.twitter.com/CjNLtTpzxV— Today's Parent (@Todaysparent) January 14, 2017

Is Weight-Loss Hurting Your Relationship?

Weight loss is tricky business, especially when you're in a relationship. After all, many people fall in love because they share common interests, such as watching the same sitcoms every Thursday night, going out for rich Italian food or playing video games together. However, what happens when one person in the relationship swaps his or her Thursday night TV-watching for group cycling? Or decides that ordering roasted chicken and steamed veggies is a better option than creamy fettuccine alfredo? Or that the Wii Fit is actually more fun than Super Mario Brothers? I smell relationship trouble a-brewin'. Losing weight and adapting to a healthy lifestyle requires a lot of change—change that your partner may not be ready for. In fact, according to some recent SparkPeople polls, 34 percent of respondents said that their spouse, partner or significant other sabotages their weight-loss efforts more than anyone else in their lives, and 43 percent said they their significant other negatively influences their eating habits. On the flip side, 24 percent say that they would be bothered if their partner gained weight, and 55 percent said they might be bothered, depending on how much weight he or she gained. Overall, it's easy to see that weight can play a heavy role in your relationship If you feel like your relationship may be under strain because of your weight-loss efforts, there are some general warning signs to look for. Typically, these types of actions are rooted in something larger than the direct issues, so it's important to understand them fully to know where your partner's or your feelings are coming from. In general, the "why" of a behavior comes from deep-seated emotion of which you or your partner may not even be aware. For just that reason, we've added an "emotional why" section to each warning sign exploring the emotion that might be behind these behaviors. Because we know how important support is to reaching your goals, we've included some action tips on how to improve whatever situation you may be facing. This way, you can find a way to maintain your healthy lifestyle without sacrificing the health of your relationship. 5 Signs Weight Loss is Hurting Your Relationship (and What to Do about It) 1. Your partner makes negative statements about you changing. SparkPeople member SULYLE admits that weight loss has affected her marriage. At 5 feet 6 inches, she's 13 pounds from her goal weight of 140 pounds (that's a BMI of 22.6, considered a "healthy" range for her height). Still, she says that she gets comments from her husband and his family that she's "skinny" and needs to stop losing weight. She's from the Dominican Republic, where curvier women are considered beautiful, but she doesn't feel attractive at her current size. SULYLE's story isn't that unusual. Your significant other may make other negative comments about your own weight loss or changing body because it signals change. And change is scary for your other half. The emotional why: Fear is behind this type of behavior. SULYLE's partner is afraid of losing her and life as he knows it. While she may be ready to change, he may be afraid and reluctant to take the first step, and he may be insecure that she will leave him, so he comments negatively about her changing body in hopes that things will go back to the way they once were. What to do: Create new rituals together so that your loved one is involved with your new lifestyle. You don't have to give up Friday date night. Try dinner at a restaurant with healthier options, or when you go to the movies, order a smaller size of popcorn (no butter) and a diet soda. See if he or she will walk around the block with you (take the kids if you have them) to catch up after dinner. Be sure to include your partner in as many ways as you can, and reassure them that you love them for who they are. If the behavior becomes overwhelmingly negative, do not be afraid to talk to your partner about how those comments make you feel. After all, a relationship is a two-way street and open communication helps prevent a head-on collision. 2. Your partner makes you feel guilty. Does your partner make you feel guilty about the success you've had with weight loss? Does he or she complain that you're not around as much or give you the guilt trip when you skip cuddle time or dessert to hit the gym? Whether your partner makes you feel guilty on purpose, or you just feel guilty for taking time for yourself, it's not a good feeling to have, and it can be detrimental to a relationship if it goes on too long. SparkPeople member THREADIE-LISA had a similar issue with her fiancé when it came to her gym membership. She says that he would grumble to his friends about how much time she spent at the gym or "jokingly" say that she spent more time with the elliptical than with him. The emotional why: Nostalgia. Your partner loves you and wants to spend time with you. He or she may miss what used to be rituals in your household and relationship. These comments may also reflect some of the fear of change mentioned above. What to do: Compromise. THREADIE-LISA ended up quitting the gym for financial reasons but has kept up with her exercise by using workout videos at home. "We are both happier, and I am more fit and less stressed for time. So, in the end his complaining helped!" she says. Don't be afraid to compromise when you can! However, remember that you deserve to be healthy and happy. If your loved one is putting a guilt trip on you, encourage him or her to join you. Couples workouts allow you to spend time together and exercise at the same time. And if it's just you feeling bad, then remind yourself that being fit is what you worked for and you deserve to feel good about your accomplishments. 3. Your partner tries to sabotage you. Sabotaging behavior can run the gamut, from your partner picking up your "favorite" fast-food burger on the way home (even though she knows you're trying to cut back) to begging you to sleep in when you have a date with that Spinning bike at 6 a.m. One very common example is having a partner who brings junk food into the house and then eats it in front of you, especially if the junk food is your favorite and one you have trouble avoiding. The emotional why: Jealousy and fear. Although it may not seem like it, your partner may actually be very jealous of your progress and is sabotaging your efforts to keep you exactly as you are. He or she may be afraid that if you lose weight, you'll get more attention from the opposite sex and possibly leave the relationship for someone else. What to do: Reaffirm your partner that you're still the same loving person you were before. Then read this entire SparkPeople article on how you can defend yourself from saboteurs, and follow the fantastic tips! 4. Your partner starts gaining weight as you're losing weight. If you've noticed that your partner has gained a few pounds during the time you've lost weight, this could be cause for concern. Your partner may be upset with your weight-loss success and may be rebelling against you—consciously or not-- by eating more, higher-calorie food. If this is the case, tread lightly. This will probably be a very touchy subject for your partner. He or she may also be eating emotionally for comfort as a way to deal with the deep-rooted emotions (fear, anger, jealousy) about your positive changes. The emotional why: Resistance and guilt. Your partner is probably feeling resistant to change and guilty about his or her own body and unhealthful habits. They may even be worried that as you get healthier, you won't love him or her as much anymore. SparkPeople member Amy says that her husband has been "self destructing" and views all of her positive changes as threatening to him. In fact, she says that she's been sleeping in an extra bedroom for the last few weeks because of his constant resistance to the positive changes she's trying to make in her life. What to do: If you're in a situation as Amy is, talk to your partner openly and regularly. Your partner may be very, very sensitive about this issue, so you may not want to bring the weight gain up directly, but rather ask how he or she is feeling during this time of change. Reassure your partner that you're still the same person and still love them. And invite them to join in some of your small changes or start something as simple as a SparkStreak! And if it's more serious than that or your attempts are ignored, consider getting a relationship counselor involved. 5. You look down at your partner. If you're a few pounds into your weight-loss journey and overhauled your lifelong habits, yet can't understand why your partner hasn't done the same, then honestly ask yourself: Do you look down on your partner? Do you feel like the changes you've made are going to create lasting friction between the two of you? Whether you indicate these feelings to your partner (directly or indirectly) or keep them to yourself, he or she can probably sense how you're feeling. Everyone wants their partner to be proud to be with them. When you stop being proud of your other half, it can really hurt your relationship. The emotional why: Pride and fear. Right now, you may be very proud of yourself for your changes—and you should be! But it's important to respect everyone's journey and realize that you can't force someone else to change. You may also find yourself being harsher on your loved one because he or she may remind you of where you started (a place where you don't want to return). What to do: You may not agree with all of the choices your partner makes, but try to be as understanding as possible. Remember how hard it was for you to change in the beginning? Remember how you had to decide to do it for yourself, not for someone else? Revisit that time in your past and treat your partner how you would have liked to be treated then. Recognize the reasons for your emotions. You don't have to encourage unhealthy habits, but try to be as understanding and encouraging as possible. If you're faced with many of the issues above, don't despair. A relationship may get rocky from your new dedication to a healthy lifestyle, especially in the beginning of your weight-loss journey, but many say that getting in shape and eating right actually helps their relationship in the end. Take SparkPeople member XCSARAH, who said that her weight loss has both hurt her relationship and improved it. Even though she says that she sometimes gets annoyed when her husband wants to do something that cuts into her workout time or gets frustrated when he eats an entire bag of chips in front of her, getting healthier has improved their relationship. "Any annoyances that have come from this journey have certainly been outdone by the benefits," she says. Now that's an inspiring and encouraging statement to anyone who is struggling with weight-related relationship issues. At the end of the day, your significant other should be one of the biggest and most supportive allies you have in getting healthy. However, you can't expect others to change over night. Getting healthy and losing weight is an incredibly personal journey, and it can't be started by telling someone what to do; it has to start with the person wanting to change. So be as nice and supportive to your partner as you'd like them to be to you. Follow the tips above and recognize what's really behind you and your partner's actions to continue on your weight-loss journey and keep your relationship strong. After all, leading by example is one of the most powerful ways to influence others in a positive way!Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=1187

Finding Inspiration In Your Biggest Temptations

Getting motivated--and staying motivated--can be difficult, and when temptations abound, it seems like the world is conspiring to keep you indoors, on the couch and stuck in your unhealthy life. Instead of viewing temptations as roadblocks, think of them as motivators--the devil on your shoulder, if you will. Their presence in your life should be just what you need to keep you from losing momentum, standing still or taking a break from your healthy journey. If you stop, they'll get you; if you stay one step ahead, you'll always come out on top. Temptations are like misunderstood Muses. They give you the chance to be creative while reaching your goals. Temptation No. 1: Sleeping in or hitting the snooze alarm. Inspiration: Taking care of your body. Get your eight hours a night. If you're consistently sleeping through your alarm or hitting the snooze bar more than twice, consider changing your sleep schedule. Try to head to bed earlier--even just 15 or 30 minutes can make a difference. To help you stay healthy and manage your weight, you need adequate sleep. Sleep loss affects the levels of certain hormones, which can in turn affect your metabolic processes and adversely affect your health. Sleep experts say most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimum performance, health and safety. When we don’t get adequate sleep, we accumulate a sleep debt that can be difficult to "pay back" if it becomes too big. The resulting sleep deprivation has been linked to health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure, negative mood and behavior, decreased productivity, and safety issues in the home, on the job, and on the road. Sleep loss also can cause a lack of desire to achieve goals because you feel fatigued and "run down." Sleep is also important in developing lean muscle tissue. When you work out, you are actually tearing your muscles – sleep and proper nutrients help rebuild the muscle so that you get stronger. Temptation No. 2: Grabbing takeout or stopping at a drive-thru. Inspiration: Making smart choices. Ideally, you should drive by the drive-thru and cook healthful meals at home every night. However, not all takeout is created equal, and you can find some healthful options at chain restaurants and even your neighborhood deli. See this temptation as a challenge to be creative and bring home a healthful meal when you're in a hurry. Plan ahead if you can, build a meal around vegetables and choose small portions to keep your takeout from taking away your self-control. (Find hundreds of tips and strategies to help you make smart, healthy choices when you're away from home here.) Follow the same rules at a restaurant that you would at home: Choose whole grains when possible, fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit, and opt for lean cuts of meat and low-calorie preparations. Baked potatoes, side salads, fruit cups and milk are ubiquitous at fast food restaurants these days. See this as an opportunity to stare French fries in the face--and win! Temptation No. 3: Grazing on junk food all night long. Inspiration: Getting to the root of a problem. Before you start chastising yourself for blowing your calorie budget after a good day of healthy, mindful eating, think about why you are snacking. Mindless munching is usually anything but. Are you thirsty? Many hunger pangs are actually just thirst in disguise. Drink a glass of water and wait 20 minutes. If your hunger subsides, you weren't really hungry after all. What did you eat for dinner? If you tried to save calories or reduce your carb intake by having a green salad or just a plate of veggies, it's no wonder you're hungry. Your body needs a bit of variety to stay happy. Protein takes longer to digest and helps keep you fuller longer. Toss some grilled chicken chunks, a small can of tuna or a half-cup of beans on your salad tomorrow night to give it some staying power. In the meantime, reach for a small servings of whole-grain crackers with a tablespoon of nut butter. The combo of fat, protein and carbs will tide you over until morning. Are you stressed or upset about something? Instead of reaching for the chocolate bar or the chips, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Eating your feelings leaves you feeling worse than when you started. Go for a walk, get out of the kitchen, remove trigger foods from the house--whatever it takes. To get a handle on emotional eating, you first need to understand it. Learn more about this common food problem, which is the cause of 75% of overeating, according to experts. Once you know your food weaknesses, you'll be prepared to confront those evening cravings instead of surrendering to them. Temptation No. 4: Vegging out on the couch. Inspiration: Taking time for you. You get home from work and gaze longingly at the sofa. You had a long day, and a bit of rest sounds much better than socializing or spending time with others. You just want to be alone with your feet up, mind empty and the TV on. Devote a chunk of time each week or each day to yourself. Maybe it's 15 minutes, or maybe it's two hours. Put yourself first as often as you need to. Instead of punishing yourself for being lazy, use this "me" time in a productive way. Do a crossword puzzle, read a book, watch a movie, call a friend, pick up knitting, or cuddle with your child or partner. Anticipate this respite from the hustle and bustle of your life and plan for it. Watch your favorite TV show, paint your nails, ask your partner to give you a foot rub. Reward yourself for being motivated, sticking with your healthy lifestyle plan and working out regularly. A bit of time spent doing nothing can help carry you through the rest of your hectic and action-packed life. (Read our Rest & Relaxation articles for more tips.) Temptation No. 5: Skipping your workout. Inspiration: Changing up your workout. You know how great you feel when you finish a workout: refreshed, revived and rejuvenated. You feel strong, confident and happy. So why would you want to skip exercise? Quite often, the reason is boredom. Does your workout schedule run on repeat? Do you do the same thing at the same time and in the same place every day? Now that you've made fitness a part of your life, try shaking up your routine from time to time. Instead of walking laps around the park in your neighborhood, try taking a new route. Instead of doing the same-old pushups and crunches, check out SparkPeople's free library of exercise demos. If you belong to a gym, trade the Stairmaster for the elliptical or the treadmill for the stationary bike. Tired of your DVDs? Trade with a friend or head to the library. Take a new class: Zumba, cardio dance, Pilates, yoga or Spinning are fun ones to try. Ask a trainer at your gym or a fit friend for suggestions. Speaking of which, one of the best ways to shake up your workout is to enlist a friend to blast calories with you. You can catch up on each other's lives while you firm up. When temptations step in your path, don't cower. Confront them and enlist them as your allies. Soon you'll be stronger and more determined and will have traveled a little farther in your healthy living journey.Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=1356

5 Mind Games You Need to Stop Playing

Motivation is like cold hard cash: You can never have too much! And when you’re trying to lose weight (for the umpteenth time for many of us) you know that you need a wealth of motivational strategies you can count on. But, with so many motivational tips and tricks to sift through, why are we so often losing our motivation rather than reaping the rewards?   One reason is that some of the most popular motivation strategies people use are mind games—games that don't really work for the long term. At first glance, they all seem helpful, but most are actually bound to fail. Instead of playing Russian roulette when you’re choosing a weight-loss strategy, read on to find out how you can beat the odds and pick a winner.   Mind Game #1:  Going for the Gold You have your perfect weight and pants size in mind. With a big, bold goal to aspire to, you start biking to work, cooking lighter, packing your lunch, skipping that morning latte, and taking the stairs. Then, three busy, butt-busting weeks later…the scale hasn’t really budged and you’re trying on the same size in the dressing room. Deflated, you start snacking a bit here and slacking a bit there, and your dream of a whittled waistline slowly fades from view.   Motivation Makeover: Going for the gold is a great way to start your weight-loss plan; setting a long-term goal can help you to keep an eye on where you’re headed. But it’s also important to remember that your goal weight is far from the only benefit of incorporating healthy eating and exercise—and it could be a long ways off. Taking note of smaller, more subtle changes (more energy, better sleep, lower cholesterol, better mood, etc.) can help you stay motivated, even if the pounds aren’t coming off as quickly as you’d hoped. Setting some shorter-term goals (1 pound, 5 pounds)—especially ones that aren't based on the scale (like getting to the gym 5 days a week) can also help you stay on track.   Mind Game #2:  Starting Out Super Strong It’s Sunday evening and you realize that you spent the weekend indulging on brews, barbeques, and binges. A twinge of guilt has you psyched to start speeding down the road to wellness first thing Monday. So you restock your pantry with healthy eats, download a hardcore training app to your phone, and plan out the next month's food and workouts. You figure that going full throttle is the way to reach your weight-loss goals as quickly as possible. And why not? You're excited for it! But two weeks into your overhaul, your muscles are so sore you have trouble rolling out of bed, you’re sick of salads and you’re already thinking about throwing in the towel.   Motivation Makeover: Maintaining motivation is like running a marathon. Instead of starting at full speed and running out of steam, it is better to focus on simply putting one foot in front of the other. Set small, achievable goals so that you can build momentum and feel successful in the beginning, and pat yourself on the back when you conquer each one. No matter how long it takes to reach the finish line, you’ll be reaping the rewards for years to come.   Mind Game #3:  Taking the Road Less Traveled There will always be a new diet or exercise program that promise fast progress and fantastic results. Reading about the latest food fad or watching a perky personal trainer push sweat-drenched clients through an infomercial workout can definitely spark your motivation. Who wouldn’t want to try an effective 4-minute workout or slim down fast with a celebrity-backed diet supplement? Deep down, we all know the truth: People are getting paid for those advertisements and whatever motivation you’ve mustered up during the commercial break will fade fast if you don’t get those "as seen on TV" results that were so motivating to you. Trying every new fad that comes on the market may leave you broke and brokenhearted.   Motivation Makeover: If you want a plan that works long term, stick with the tried and true. Keep your eating close to the earth with whole fruits, veggies, grains and lean meats. Get up and moving with whatever activity suits your style and schedule. Remind yourself that following through with real nutrition and fitness habits is a process: It takes the proper planning and commitment that can’t be found in a book, a box or a bottle.   Mind Game #4:  Flying Under the Radar You’re already feeling self-conscious about losing weight, so you certainly don’t want your friends and family making more of a fuss. Besides, you’re confident that you can do this all on your own! So what if your plan to be stealth has you skipping out on lunch with friends and sneaking veggies to parties in your purse? Going it alone may seem like a good idea, but it is actually counterproductive. Soon enough, you’ll be feeling lonely and left out, and that’s no way to maintain success in the long run.   Motivation Makeover: Call in the recruits! Whether it’s a neighbor down the street, a fellow play group parent or a Facebook friend, get someone to join you on your weight-loss journey. Studies in behavior science show that changes that you make in the public eye have a much better chance of sticking in the real world. Plus, sharing your weight-loss goals with friends opens you up for great personal payouts like counsel, camaraderie, and accountability from the people who know you best. SparkPeople Community, anyone?   Mind Game #5:  Staring Down the Scale There’s a scale in your bathroom and one next to your treadmill. You check in twice a day and diligently track your weight on a chart on the fridge. Still, even though you’re eating well and exercising, some days the numbers just don’t show it! Seeing real, objective results can be super motivating but being tethered to the scale often becomes a burden. Even though you know that body weight fluctuates throughout each day and hydration (or lack thereof) is usually responsible, unpredictable digits can be deceiving and downright disheartening. If you find yourself frowning at your feet during morning weigh-ins, then your scale is likely sapping your mojo.   Motivation Makeover: Stick that scale in the closet and find inspiration in other numbers (besides your weight). Track specific behaviors to gauge your progress; how many push-ups you can do in a minute, how many miles you walk or bike each week, how many flights of stairs you take each day at work. Keep tabs on a variety of positive results and you won’t be left wanting for fitness focus.     Making use of motivational mind games can really boost your fitness morale. But sometimes, techniques that seem perfectly logical can end up leading you astray. Mastering your own motivation doesn’t have to be a crap shoot. Bet on the time-tested strategies above to get your mind right and you’ll be sure to cash in on long-term wellness!Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=1676

Plan Today, Succeed Tomorrow

Athletes do it. Chess players do it. Novelists, successful scientists and even salespeople do it. These days, everyone who wants to make big things happen is planning ahead in order to succeed. What about you? When it comes to planning ahead to reach your goals, are you falling in line or falling behind? Thinking ahead can help you achieve your goals and, even more importantly, bounce back faster when you’re met with unexpected failures or setbacks.   What can you do today to make sure your health and fitness goals are met tomorrow? Maybe you need to pack a lunch to avoid that daily fast food fix, stock your pantry with healthy snacks so you have something to munch on, make a new bedtime routine so you get all the shut-eye you need, or sleep in your workout clothes so you’ll have no excuse to miss a morning workout.   Thinking "two steps ahead" means utilizing the present to make it easier to achieve your goals in the future. What are you waiting for? Here’s how to do it now, before you waste a few more minutes or lose your motivation altogether.   Think about Your Actions Take some time to envision yourself reaching your long-term goal, whether it's losing 40 pounds, running a 5K, or reducing your cholesterol. All of these big goals can (and should!) be broken down into specific behaviors that will increase your health and wellness. Losing 40 pounds may involve reducing and tracking your calories while also starting a consistent fitness program. Running a 5K starts with your first step, then requires a plan to slowly build endurance over several weeks. And reducing your cholesterol can happen when you make heart-smart food choices and increase your daily activity.   Taking it a step further, each of these action steps requires a plan or "mini goal" if you're going to achieve it.  Maybe you'll aim for a specific number of exercise minutes per week, servings of fruits and vegetables per day, or miles per month. Achieving these goals is easier when you start thinking ahead and formulating a process that fits into your schedule. When you spell out exactly what you’re working on, it will be so much easier to track progress toward your mini-goals and stay on course toward your bigger goals.   Head Off Potential Hurdles: Prepare Your Plan B You’ve planned to exercise three times a week and you're sticking with your program really well. Your workout wardrobe is freshly laundered. You’ve commandeered a babysitter during your evening runs. Best of all, you've scheduled your exercise sessions like appointments in your calendar. You're doing great.   But all of a sudden, a giant work project is dropped in your lap and you realize you’ll need to work from home every night this week to meet the deadline. Sound familiar?   Whether it's a nasty flu virus, a change in your partner’s work schedule, or a car in the shop, there will always be obnoxious and unexpected hurdles that can spring up and ruin your best laid plans. You can either wait for them to derail you or you can think ahead about all the possible scenarios that might get in the way of your goals—and plan how to tackle them in advance.   As soon as you’ve set mini goals for the week and put your commitments on the calendar, the next thing you should focus on is finding room for flexibility. Maybe you can pencil in a morning workout on the weekend as a backup plan, or make a list of healthy take-out options in case you find yourself in a dinnertime crunch. And if you have trouble resisting those donuts in the office break room, you’d better be sure to pack nutritious and delicious mid-morning snacks in your bag. Having a plan B in place before you need it means you're thinking strategically and will be more likely to stay on track.   Commit...and Don’t Quit Committing to any lifestyle change takes time and continued effort. If you’re having trouble implementing your strategic plan (and plan B's), here are some strategies that will help you sidestep obstacles that may arise.

  • Make your commitments public so that everyone around you knows the goals you’re working toward. If your boss, partner and friends have all heard you profess your plan, they’ll be more likely to support you (or at least they’ll know what you’re up to)--and you'll be more likely to stick with it to save face.  
  • Engage your friends and family in some friendly fitness activities. Get your colleagues involved in an exercise challenge, start a walking club after work, or put together a neighborhood gardening group. If you can encourage others to join your wellness quest, you’ll be more likely to remember your commitments. Plus, you may even plant the seeds for others’ health and fitness success.  
  • Keep track of your achievements. Sometimes, when you’re working hard to fit healthy habits into your schedule, it can feel like the rest of the world is against you. Seeing the progress you make toward your own goals will help you notice change and stay true to your healthy self—even in the event that you mess up. Log your workouts online, track your calories and H2O intake, and draw smiley faces on your calendar when you finish each yoga class. Keeping track will remind you how far you've come, which can help you keep the faith when life gets in the way of your best intentions.
Make Friends with Failure Even after you’ve set benchmarks for success, put a halt on potential hurdles, and prepared a plan B, you can still be sure that the road to health and fitness won’t always be smooth and straight. A storm will sweep in overnight and ruin your morning run. That family road trip will be wrought with tempting treats at truck stops. Though these problems may seem counterproductive, getting familiar with failure can be helpful in its own way. When you experience a succession of small setbacks or changes in course, it helps you hone your skills at dealing with issues that are outside of your control. Even the greatest athletes and strategic planners in the world fail—sometimes badly and sometimes publicly. But those who are great don't let failure define them or stop them. They set goals, plan ahead to avoid or minimize mishaps, and get back up and keep going when things don't go according to plan. They roll with the punches—and you can, too!Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=1735

Finding Inspiration In Your Biggest Temptations

Getting motivated--and staying motivated--can be difficult, and when temptations abound, it seems like the world is conspiring to keep you indoors, on the couch and stuck in your unhealthy life. Instead of viewing temptations as roadblocks, think of them as motivators--the devil on your shoulder, if you will. Their presence in your life should be just what you need to keep you from losing momentum, standing still or taking a break from your healthy journey. If you stop, they'll get you; if you stay one step ahead, you'll always come out on top. Temptations are like misunderstood Muses. They give you the chance to be creative while reaching your goals. Temptation No. 1: Sleeping in or hitting the snooze alarm. Inspiration: Taking care of your body. Get your eight hours a night. If you're consistently sleeping through your alarm or hitting the snooze bar more than twice, consider changing your sleep schedule. Try to head to bed earlier--even just 15 or 30 minutes can make a difference. To help you stay healthy and manage your weight, you need adequate sleep. Sleep loss affects the levels of certain hormones, which can in turn affect your metabolic processes and adversely affect your health. Sleep experts say most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimum performance, health and safety. When we don’t get adequate sleep, we accumulate a sleep debt that can be difficult to "pay back" if it becomes too big. The resulting sleep deprivation has been linked to health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure, negative mood and behavior, decreased productivity, and safety issues in the home, on the job, and on the road. Sleep loss also can cause a lack of desire to achieve goals because you feel fatigued and "run down." Sleep is also important in developing lean muscle tissue. When you work out, you are actually tearing your muscles – sleep and proper nutrients help rebuild the muscle so that you get stronger. Temptation No. 2: Grabbing takeout or stopping at a drive-thru. Inspiration: Making smart choices. Ideally, you should drive by the drive-thru and cook healthful meals at home every night. However, not all takeout is created equal, and you can find some healthful options at chain restaurants and even your neighborhood deli. See this temptation as a challenge to be creative and bring home a healthful meal when you're in a hurry. Plan ahead if you can, build a meal around vegetables and choose small portions to keep your takeout from taking away your self-control. (Find hundreds of tips and strategies to help you make smart, healthy choices when you're away from home here.) Follow the same rules at a restaurant that you would at home: Choose whole grains when possible, fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit, and opt for lean cuts of meat and low-calorie preparations. Baked potatoes, side salads, fruit cups and milk are ubiquitous at fast food restaurants these days. See this as an opportunity to stare French fries in the face--and win! Temptation No. 3: Grazing on junk food all night long. Inspiration: Getting to the root of a problem. Before you start chastising yourself for blowing your calorie budget after a good day of healthy, mindful eating, think about why you are snacking. Mindless munching is usually anything but. Are you thirsty? Many hunger pangs are actually just thirst in disguise. Drink a glass of water and wait 20 minutes. If your hunger subsides, you weren't really hungry after all. What did you eat for dinner? If you tried to save calories or reduce your carb intake by having a green salad or just a plate of veggies, it's no wonder you're hungry. Your body needs a bit of variety to stay happy. Protein takes longer to digest and helps keep you fuller longer. Toss some grilled chicken chunks, a small can of tuna or a half-cup of beans on your salad tomorrow night to give it some staying power. In the meantime, reach for a small servings of whole-grain crackers with a tablespoon of nut butter. The combo of fat, protein and carbs will tide you over until morning. Are you stressed or upset about something? Instead of reaching for the chocolate bar or the chips, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Eating your feelings leaves you feeling worse than when you started. Go for a walk, get out of the kitchen, remove trigger foods from the house--whatever it takes. To get a handle on emotional eating, you first need to understand it. Learn more about this common food problem, which is the cause of 75% of overeating, according to experts. Once you know your food weaknesses, you'll be prepared to confront those evening cravings instead of surrendering to them. Temptation No. 4: Vegging out on the couch. Inspiration: Taking time for you. You get home from work and gaze longingly at the sofa. You had a long day, and a bit of rest sounds much better than socializing or spending time with others. You just want to be alone with your feet up, mind empty and the TV on. Devote a chunk of time each week or each day to yourself. Maybe it's 15 minutes, or maybe it's two hours. Put yourself first as often as you need to. Instead of punishing yourself for being lazy, use this "me" time in a productive way. Do a crossword puzzle, read a book, watch a movie, call a friend, pick up knitting, or cuddle with your child or partner. Anticipate this respite from the hustle and bustle of your life and plan for it. Watch your favorite TV show, paint your nails, ask your partner to give you a foot rub. Reward yourself for being motivated, sticking with your healthy lifestyle plan and working out regularly. A bit of time spent doing nothing can help carry you through the rest of your hectic and action-packed life. (Read our Rest & Relaxation articles for more tips.) Temptation No. 5: Skipping your workout. Inspiration: Changing up your workout. You know how great you feel when you finish a workout: refreshed, revived and rejuvenated. You feel strong, confident and happy. So why would you want to skip exercise? Quite often, the reason is boredom. Does your workout schedule run on repeat? Do you do the same thing at the same time and in the same place every day? Now that you've made fitness a part of your life, try shaking up your routine from time to time. Instead of walking laps around the park in your neighborhood, try taking a new route. Instead of doing the same-old pushups and crunches, check out SparkPeople's free library of exercise demos. If you belong to a gym, trade the Stairmaster for the elliptical or the treadmill for the stationary bike. Tired of your DVDs? Trade with a friend or head to the library. Take a new class: Zumba, cardio dance, Pilates, yoga or Spinning are fun ones to try. Ask a trainer at your gym or a fit friend for suggestions. Speaking of which, one of the best ways to shake up your workout is to enlist a friend to blast calories with you. You can catch up on each other's lives while you firm up. When temptations step in your path, don't cower. Confront them and enlist them as your allies. Soon you'll be stronger and more determined and will have traveled a little farther in your healthy living journey.Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=1356

Plan Today, Succeed Tomorrow

Athletes do it. Chess players do it. Novelists, successful scientists and even salespeople do it. These days, everyone who wants to make big things happen is planning ahead in order to succeed. What about you? When it comes to planning ahead to reach your goals, are you falling in line or falling behind? Thinking ahead can help you achieve your goals and, even more importantly, bounce back faster when you’re met with unexpected failures or setbacks.   What can you do today to make sure your health and fitness goals are met tomorrow? Maybe you need to pack a lunch to avoid that daily fast food fix, stock your pantry with healthy snacks so you have something to munch on, make a new bedtime routine so you get all the shut-eye you need, or sleep in your workout clothes so you’ll have no excuse to miss a morning workout.   Thinking "two steps ahead" means utilizing the present to make it easier to achieve your goals in the future. What are you waiting for? Here’s how to do it now, before you waste a few more minutes or lose your motivation altogether.   Think about Your Actions Take some time to envision yourself reaching your long-term goal, whether it's losing 40 pounds, running a 5K, or reducing your cholesterol. All of these big goals can (and should!) be broken down into specific behaviors that will increase your health and wellness. Losing 40 pounds may involve reducing and tracking your calories while also starting a consistent fitness program. Running a 5K starts with your first step, then requires a plan to slowly build endurance over several weeks. And reducing your cholesterol can happen when you make heart-smart food choices and increase your daily activity.   Taking it a step further, each of these action steps requires a plan or "mini goal" if you're going to achieve it.  Maybe you'll aim for a specific number of exercise minutes per week, servings of fruits and vegetables per day, or miles per month. Achieving these goals is easier when you start thinking ahead and formulating a process that fits into your schedule. When you spell out exactly what you’re working on, it will be so much easier to track progress toward your mini-goals and stay on course toward your bigger goals.   Head Off Potential Hurdles: Prepare Your Plan B You’ve planned to exercise three times a week and you're sticking with your program really well. Your workout wardrobe is freshly laundered. You’ve commandeered a babysitter during your evening runs. Best of all, you've scheduled your exercise sessions like appointments in your calendar. You're doing great.   But all of a sudden, a giant work project is dropped in your lap and you realize you’ll need to work from home every night this week to meet the deadline. Sound familiar?   Whether it's a nasty flu virus, a change in your partner’s work schedule, or a car in the shop, there will always be obnoxious and unexpected hurdles that can spring up and ruin your best laid plans. You can either wait for them to derail you or you can think ahead about all the possible scenarios that might get in the way of your goals—and plan how to tackle them in advance.   As soon as you’ve set mini goals for the week and put your commitments on the calendar, the next thing you should focus on is finding room for flexibility. Maybe you can pencil in a morning workout on the weekend as a backup plan, or make a list of healthy take-out options in case you find yourself in a dinnertime crunch. And if you have trouble resisting those donuts in the office break room, you’d better be sure to pack nutritious and delicious mid-morning snacks in your bag. Having a plan B in place before you need it means you're thinking strategically and will be more likely to stay on track.   Commit...and Don’t Quit Committing to any lifestyle change takes time and continued effort. If you’re having trouble implementing your strategic plan (and plan B's), here are some strategies that will help you sidestep obstacles that may arise.

  • Make your commitments public so that everyone around you knows the goals you’re working toward. If your boss, partner and friends have all heard you profess your plan, they’ll be more likely to support you (or at least they’ll know what you’re up to)--and you'll be more likely to stick with it to save face.  
  • Engage your friends and family in some friendly fitness activities. Get your colleagues involved in an exercise challenge, start a walking club after work, or put together a neighborhood gardening group. If you can encourage others to join your wellness quest, you’ll be more likely to remember your commitments. Plus, you may even plant the seeds for others’ health and fitness success.  
  • Keep track of your achievements. Sometimes, when you’re working hard to fit healthy habits into your schedule, it can feel like the rest of the world is against you. Seeing the progress you make toward your own goals will help you notice change and stay true to your healthy self—even in the event that you mess up. Log your workouts online, track your calories and H2O intake, and draw smiley faces on your calendar when you finish each yoga class. Keeping track will remind you how far you've come, which can help you keep the faith when life gets in the way of your best intentions.
Make Friends with Failure Even after you’ve set benchmarks for success, put a halt on potential hurdles, and prepared a plan B, you can still be sure that the road to health and fitness won’t always be smooth and straight. A storm will sweep in overnight and ruin your morning run. That family road trip will be wrought with tempting treats at truck stops. Though these problems may seem counterproductive, getting familiar with failure can be helpful in its own way. When you experience a succession of small setbacks or changes in course, it helps you hone your skills at dealing with issues that are outside of your control. Even the greatest athletes and strategic planners in the world fail—sometimes badly and sometimes publicly. But those who are great don't let failure define them or stop them. They set goals, plan ahead to avoid or minimize mishaps, and get back up and keep going when things don't go according to plan. They roll with the punches—and you can, too!Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=1735

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