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“You have to be the boss of your body.”

HBO

“You’re only as old as you feel,” goes the old cliche, and judging from this week’s HBO documentary about the upsides of life after 90, it might be true. If You’re Not In The Obit, Eat Breakfast is named after Carl Reiner’s joke about how now that he’s 95, he picks up his newspaper every morning, finds the obituary section, and checks if he’s listed. “If I’m not, I have my breakfast,” he quips.

Wondering why he and so many of his friends “got the extra years” when others didn’t, Reiner set out to find some answers. Does longevity come down to luck? Genes? Or life choices? While the answer is surely some combination of the three, the documentary is a fascinating and uplifting treasure trove of wisdom from your favorite nonagenarian icons, including Betty White, Dick Van Dyke, and Norman Lear. Here are seven of the doc’s best pieces of advice for life in your nineties.

1. Stay busy and current.

Reiner’s nephew and manager, George Shapiro, gives props to Reiner for “his productivity and his commitment to being vital and involved.” Reiner is notoriously internet-savvy, knows how selfies work, and memorably invented the #Selfishie during an appearance on Conan. “His computer is always busy, there’s never a time he hasn’t got something working,” says Shapiro.

“When people tell you you look good in your 90s, what they mean is you don’t look dead.” —Dick van Dyke

2. Build face-to-face interaction into daily life.

Longevity expert Dan Buettner, who delivered a TED Talk on the subject and is quoted regularly throughout the doc, has one very specific piece of advice. The happiest people in America, he says, are interacting face-to-face roughly six to seven hours a day. “We evolved with these traits,” he says, “we succeed as a species because we know how to collaborate and interact and that in turn brings us joy.” Translation: Put the smartphone down!

3. Be the boss of your body.

Arguably the doc’s most inspiring subject is 100-year-old Ida Keeling, who started running at the age of 67 after experiencing severe depression brought on by the death of her two adult sons. Her daughter Shelly encouraged her to run a 5K race, after which, she says “I felt so different. I felt I had come out of a shell.” Keeling now runs races regularly with her daughter, and works out with weights for at least half an hour each day. “I will never consider myself old, never did. If you don’t take care of yourself, nobody else will. You’ve got to be the boss of your body.”

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4. Don’t fear the aging process.

“Meet it head on, don’t fear it,” says Dick Van Dyke, though he acknowledges that certain things become harder after a certain age. “When people tell you you look good in your 90s, what they mean is you don’t look dead.” Van Dyke says he overhauled his exercise regime and never looked back after starring in a Broadway show years ago, after seeing how the dancers worked out with strength training equipment. “At 30, I exercised to look good. In my 50s, I exercised to stay fit. In my 70s, to stay ambulatory. In my 80s, to avoid assisted living. Now, in my 90s, I’m just doing it out of pure defiance,” he jokes.

“I don’t want to be a burden to anybody—except possibly Robert Redford.” —Betty White

5. Live in the moment.

One of Norman Lear’s tips for staying young is to live in the moment, and pay attention to the conversations that you’re having. “In a way, I’m the age of whoever I’m talking to,” he explains, whether that person is 12 or 50, “I’m the peer of whoever I’m talking to.” Lear says that he likes to live in what he calls “the hammock of time in between ‘over’ and ‘next'”, after one thing is complete and before the next begins. Given that Lear, at 94, is still actively producing television shows like Netflix’s new version of One Day At A Time, it’s no surprise that a little mindfulness goes a long way.

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6. Enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Now that she’s in her nineties, Betty White enjoys a more relaxed approach to her career. “It’s more fun … you don’t have to do it,” she says of working at her age, “and if it doesn’t work, I’ve had my career. I’m not going to worry about it. Beyond that, she says, “I don’t want to be a burden to anybody — except possibly Robert Redford.”

7. Figure out what you love, and do it every day.

If you take away only one thing from the doc, make it the story of pianist Irving Fields, who died last year at the age of 101. Fields is shown playing regular piano concerts – every Friday, Saturday and Sunday – at the Park Lane Hotel in Manhattan. “I could work nine days a week and not be tired,” he says. “I go on and on because I love what I do.”

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Hot flashes, irritability, anxiety, night sweats, low libido, and depression are just a few of the many symptoms associated with menopause. Most of us have at least one friend or family member who has struggled with the side effects of this massive hormonal shift. If you’re a woman, it’s normal to feel some anxiety about this time in your life.

But is there anything you can do about it? Can you reduce the discomfort you experience with diet and lifestyle changes? According to a new Mayo Clinic study—published in Climacteric: The Journal of the International Menopause Society—yes. Their research showed that mindfulness can help reduce symptoms of menopause, especially for women who are under higher amounts of perceived stress.

Many of us are already familiar with mindfulness, which is the practice of focusing on the present and using tools like meditation and breathing exercises to anchor yourself in the moment. Previous research has already shown that having a mindfulness practice can help reduce stress and improve quality of life, but this study goes a step further and shows how it can help women with specific symptoms in a specific era in their life.

The study collected dates from 1,744 women ages 40 to 65 and found that women with higher mindfulness scores experienced fewer menopausal symptoms. Interestingly, more mindful women did not have fewer hot flashes or night sweats, but they did have significantly less irritability, depression, and anxiety. This suggests that mindfulness might change not the number of symptoms you experience but your ability to cope with them.

So what does this really mean? According to the study’s lead authorRicha Sood, M.D., “These findings suggest that mindfulness may be a promising tool to help women reduce menopausal symptoms and overall stress.”

Luckily, mindfulness is something that can be cultivated (for free!) through meditation, journaling, yoga, breathing exercises or other practices. If you’re not sure where to start, try this simple 60-second breathing exercise or just sit still and observe your thoughts. “The goal during mindful moments is not to empty the mind but to become an observer of the mind’s activity while being kind to oneself. The second step is to create a pause. Take a deep breath, and observe one’s own space, thoughts and emotions non-judgmentally. The resulting calm helps lower stress,” explained Dr. Sood.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/mindfulness-reduces-menopausal-symptoms-according-to-new-mayo-clinic-study?otm_medium=onespot&otm_source=inbox&otm_campaign=Daily+Mailer&otm_content=daily_20190118&otm_click_id=ed232393c7c2f1ee15a7df583d212492&os_ehash

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Because taking more time for yourself is always a good idea.

There’s a lot of chatter around self-care these days, and the term has come to mean so much more than spa days and yoga classes. For some people, it may mean shoppinggetting to the gym, having morning meditationseating chocolate, or reading a book. The point is to do something for you—anything that leaves you feeling fresh and rejuvenated.

“Women are often busy with their lives at work and at home, especially those with a family,” says Marcia Villavicencio, a certified life coach who focuses on mindset and body-positive fitness. “They have so much on their plate that they can quickly feel burned out. A self-care routine that’s easy and doesn’t take much of their time is beneficial, not only for their physical health, but also for their mental health.”

More and more women are realizing they have set time apart for themselves to recuperate. According to a survey from Shine, a free self-care app that gives you daily personalized challenges to boost your mood and confidence, self-care has been the top New Year’s resolution for millennial women for the past two years, with 72 percent indicating that they want to put self-care and their mental health first in 2019.

The health benefits of a self-care routine

Although self-care can seem like an indulgence, it’s a deeply important practice for health reasons. “Self-care is often underrated in its impact,” says Katie Krimer, LCSW, a therapist at Union Square Practice in New York. “Even the smallest of gestures can help reduce overall stress, make you feel more present amidst anxiety, and remind you that you’re worth taking care of. Over time, self-care practice can improve self-worth, reduce stress, increase motivation, and, most importantly, teach us that not everything in our lives has to revolve around the more difficult aspects of our internal and external world.”

Life coach and author Karen L. Garvey, MBA, explains that much like cars, our bodies run on fuel—but we don’t come with a low-fuel warning light to remind us to recharge. “Instead, our body messages us through irritability, illness, lack of mental clarity, exhaustion, a decrease in productivity, and so on. These symptoms of depleted fuel can be largely prevented through self-care,” she says. She points out that women often have a tendency to take care of everyone else before themselves, but showing yourself a little love will give you more energy to return that love to others.

That said, creating a sustainable self-care routine that feels like a treat rather than a chore can be challenging. That’s why we turned to experts for their top tips on creating a self-care routine you’ll actually stick with.

1.Think about why

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Before starting a new self-care routine, spend some time really thinking about why you need more self-care (dig a little bit here—is it because you work too hard, always put others before yourself, etc.?), as well as what you hope to achieve. “Maybe you want to be calmer, more focused, or to feel better. Once you’re clear on this, you can use it to help you choose what will be a good activity or routine to incorporate,” says Jane Scudder, a certified coach and motivational speaker.

2.Get back to the basics

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Check in with yourself to make sure your most basic needs are being met. “Secure your oxygen mask before assisting others. We hear it on every flight, and it’s essential for life as well,” says Rebecca Newman, LCSW, a Philadelphia-based psychotherapist. “This means making sure you’re sleeping, showering, eating nutritiously, taking your medications, and drinking water at a minimum before you can assist others.”

3.Brainstorm ideas and write them down

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Carrie Krawiec, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Birmingham Maple Clinic in Troy, MI, recommends breaking down potential activities by size. “Small may be taking a shower by yourself, whereas medium may be going to lunch with a friend. Large could be a weekend away,” she explains.

Once you’re clear on why you want to engage in more self-care and have ideas, get it all down on paper, says Krimer. She suggests writing down your motivations, self-care options, and anything that might get in your way. “Is it that you’re telling yourself you don’t have the time? Is it the belief that you need to focus on others and not yourself? Is it that you don’t think self-care will have a positive impact on you?” This can be a one-time exercise, or you can turn it into a journalingpractice, which may help you reach your goals as well.

4.Start small

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Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to do it all at once. It’s important to be realistic about your self-care routine, which means starting small and building up. “If you are just starting off, then a 20-minute daily meditation, three to five trips to the gym weekly, half of every Sunday spent exfoliating and meal prepping, and 10 minutes each morning and night on gratitude practice is likely going to last for a day—max,” says Scudder. “Pick one or two things to start, and be realistic, patient, and gentle with yourself.”

5.Focus on consistency

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While your goal may be to meditate for 20 minutes at a time, anything is better than nothing; consistency is key to making a habit stick. “It’s better to exercise every day, even if it’s only three sun salutations, or a five-minute YouTube core workout, than to focus on length of time,” says Tamsin Astor, PhD, author of Force of Habit: Unleash Your Power by Developing Great Habits

6.Set a schedule

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It may seem silly to schedule something as simple as a 5-minute yoga break or 20 minutes to read, but setting aside that time—and fiercely protecting it—is key to creating a self-care routine that sticks. “Think about creating time for self-care within your regular routine instead of keeping it separate. You wouldn’t cancel on a meeting at work or a plan with a friend if it was in your schedule, so including time for yourself to manage stress or exercise in your schedule will help keep you on task in the same way,” says Samantha Markovitz, a certified health and wellness coach and founder of GraceMark Wellness & Lifestyle Coaching.

7.Use the sandwich principle

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No, don’t actually eat a sandwich—unless that’s part of your self-care. Astor uses what she calls the 3 S’s of habit cultivation: same time, same place, sandwich. “When you add a new habit, sandwich it between two habits you consistently practice consecutively. It’s much more likely to stick,” she says. “For example, sit to meditate between brushing your teeth and showering.”

8.Practice saying no

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“As women, we’re often expected to say ‘yes’ to many demands throughout the day. This happens both at home and at work,” says Josephine Hardman, PhD, an intuitive healer and spiritual coach. “One of the most crucial ways to practice self-care is to work on saying ‘no’ in order to protect your energy, space, resources, and sanity.”

At the very least, give yourself time to consider before saying yes right away. Hardman notes that though it may feel like you’re being selfish, “by putting yourself first and breaking the pattern of habitually saying yes to everything, you’ll have more energy and vitality to extend a helping hand to others.”

9.Find accountability buddies

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Sometimes it can be difficult to hold yourself accountable, so try finding a friend or a group to help. “Participating in a public self-care challenge on social media, with friends, or at work offers a level of accountability that some people need to stick to their goals,” advises Nedra Glover Tawwab, LCSW, founding therapist at Kaleidoscope Counseling in Charlotte, NC.

If a group isn’t your thing, even just having one go-to person can make a huge difference. “Find someone with whom you can share goals and encourage one another. Never underestimate the power of having your own personal cheerleader,” says Garvey. At the same time, you may also want to distance yourself from people who are unsupportive of your goals, she says.

10.Stop comparing yourself to others

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Accountability is one thing, but comparing yourself to others—especially on social media—can be detrimental. “The more that you compare yourself to others, the more you hold yourself back from true happiness and giving the world all that you have to offer,” says Lauren Zoller, a yoga instructor and certified life coach in Nashville.

One solution? Cut back on your social media time. “Decreasing your time on social media will give you free time to focus on the qualities YOU bring to the table, not someone else,” says Zoller. “Compare yourself to who YOU were yesterday, not who someone else is today.”

11.Don’t be a perfectionist

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As the old saying goes, perfect is the enemy of good. “If perfectionism is holding you back, practice giving yourself the space to let things get messy,” advises Zoller. If you let busy thoughts swirl around in your head during meditation, or fall out of a yoga pose, it’s all ok. “Nobody in the history of time has ever created something that was perfect. In fact, most of the most brilliant success stories were created from bouts of extreme failure. When you allow yourself the freedom to let go of perfection, you open the door to create something new,” she says.

12.Tap into affirmations

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There’s plenty of research out there to show the power of positive affirmations, so why not use them as a tool in creating a sustainable self-care routine? “For example: ‘I’m taking the time for yoga, because this hour nurtures my mind and my body and my spirit,'” suggests Garvey. “Although the process of tapping into the power of these statements is very simple, do not let the simplicity fool you. Affirmations that are diligently embraced can transform a non-productive habit into a new positive reality.”

13.Recognize your successes

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Take time to recognize yourself practicing self-care in the moment, and appreciate your long-term success in sticking with your goals. “Celebrate your wins and strengths,” says Benjamin Ritter, MPH, founder of Live for Yourself Consulting. “Take the time each day to recognize the areas you have succeeded, and your personal strengths. List each of them out specifically and review them daily.”

14.Plan for when you break your routine

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Rather than let a blip in your self-care routine get you down, plan for it. “This is not to be negative, but the reality is the best-laid plans get broken sometimes. Maybe your kid is sick, a flight is delayed, your website crashes, or a client pitch corrupts,” says Cudder. “The point isn’t to jump to how you’ll get back into the swing of it, but rather you should develop a way to be with yourself when something gets in your way of your self-care.”

Source: https://www.prevention.com/health/mental-health/g25935471/self-care-routine/

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Babies of moms who are in the ICU with severe flu have a greater chance of being born premature and underweight.
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Need another reason to get the flu shot if you’re pregnant?

A study out this week shows that pregnant women with the flu who are hospitalized in an intensive care unit are four times more likely to deliver babies prematurely and four and a half times more likely to have a baby of low birth weight.

Researchers compared 490 pregnant women with the flu and 1,451 who did not have the flu. Sixty-four of the women with flu were so ill that they were admitted to a hospital ICU. The results appear in the journal Birth Defects Research.

The study also found that babies of the most seriously ill women were eight times more likely to have low Apgar scores, a measure of a baby’s health in the minutes after birth. The test assesses the baby’s color, heart rate, reflexes, muscle tone and breathing.

It’s not clear exactly how being in the ICU may have affected the newborns, says Dr. Sonja Rasmussen of the University of Florida College of Medicine, one of the study’s authors. She doesn’t think the virus itself causes the problems, but concedes there’s not enough information to draw firm conclusions.

More likely, Rasmussen believes, the problems arise because pregnant women with the flu are at “greater risk of getting pneumonia, of needing to be hospitalized and even being admitted to an intensive care unit,” she says.

“When moms are in the ICU, they often need help breathing, they need a ventilator to breath for them, and it may be that there is some period of time where they aren’t breathing well enough to get adequate oxygen to the baby,” says Rasmussen.

For pregnant women in the study who were diagnosed with flu but who were able to stay home — and even those with flu who were hospitalized but not admitted to the ICU — there was no significant increase in risk for adverse health outcomes for their babies.

Rasmussen says it’s possible that nutrition plays a role in the newborns’ problems. “When you’re having trouble breathing, you have trouble eating and it may be that mom wasn’t getting good nutrition during her time in the ICU.”

Rasmussen says the findings underscore the importance of pregnant women receiving the influenza vaccine and getting prompt treatment with antiviral medications.

Prior to the 2009 pandemic, only about 20 to 30 percent of pregnant women got the flu vaccine. After doctors and health professionals strongly urged vaccination, the rate increased to about 50 percent.

“Since then, flu vaccine rates have stagnated” as memories of the pandemic have faded, says obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Denise Jamieson of Emory University School of Medicine. The “vast majority” of pregnant women should be vaccinated, she says.

Jamieson says the reasons patients give for not getting the vaccine are numerous. Some say they’ve just never had the flu before and don’t expect to get it while pregnant, which “doesn’t mean they’ll avoid the flu this season,” she says.

Others say they got the vaccine in the past and it made them sick. That’s unlikely, Jamieson says. The flu vaccine does not contain active virus, but rather is a “killed” virus vaccine, and therefore not infectious.

Still other patients worry the vaccine might not be safe for their developing baby. That’s another fallacy, Jamieson says.

“This is a vaccine we have been giving in pregnancy for many decades and there is no indication of any problems,” she says. “It’s a safe vaccine and we know more about this vaccine than any other vaccine in pregnancy.”

And, importantly, it has huge benefits which include “safeguarding pregnant women and their infants against what could be devastating complications of influenza,” she says.

When women get vaccinated, they make antibodies to fight the virus. Those antibodies can cross the placenta and protect the baby from severe illness, which is important, Jamieson says, because infants’ immune systems are still developing and they can’t be vaccinated until they are 6-months-old.

So the vaccine “provides some protection from birth up to six months of age,” she says.

And it’s never too late or too early to get the vaccine, according to Jamieson. Pregnant women should get their flu vaccine as “soon as it’s available,” she says.

Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/01/10/683927732/severe-flu-raises-risk-of-birth-problems-for-pregnant-women-babies

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A series of miscarriages may signal that a man’s sperm is not up to par, new British research suggests.

The findings could lead to new treatments to reduce the risk of miscarriage, said researchers at Imperial College London.

“Traditionally, doctors have focused attention on women when looking for the causes of recurrent miscarriage. The men’s health, and the health of their sperm, wasn’t analyzed,” explained study author Dr. Channa Jayasena, from the department of medicine at Imperial College.

“However, this research adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests sperm health dictates the health of a pregnancy,” he said in a university news release. “For instance, previous research suggests sperm has an important role in the formation of the placenta, which is crucial for oxygen and nutrient supply to the fetus.”

In the study, scientists analyzed the sperm quality of 50 men whose partners had suffered three or more consecutive miscarriages and found their sperm had twice as much DNA damage as the sperm of men whose partners had not experienced miscarriages.

DNA damage in sperm may be caused by molecules called reactive oxygen species. These molecules are present in semen to protect sperm from bacteria and infection, but high concentrations of these molecules can cause significant damage to sperm, the researchers explained.

Men whose partners had suffered recurrent miscarriages had four times higher levels of reactive oxygen species than men whose partners had not had a miscarriage.

The researchers said they are now trying to determine what may cause high levels of reactive oxygen species.

“Although none of the men in the trial had any ongoing infection such as chlamydia — which we know can affect sperm health — it is possible there may be other bacteria from previous infections lingering in the prostate gland, which makes semen,” Jayasena said. “This may lead to permanently high levels of reactive oxygen species.”

The researchers only found an association between sperm quality and miscarriages, not a cause-and-effect link.

And while this was a small study, “it gives us clues to follow,” Jayasena noted.

“If we confirm in further work that high levels of reactive oxygen species in semen increase the risk of miscarriage, we could try to develop treatments that lower these levels and increase the chance of a healthy pregnancy,” he said.

The study was published recently in the journal Clinical Chemistry.

More information

The March of Dimes has more on miscarriage.

SOURCE: Imperial College London, news release, Jan. 4, 2019

Source: https://consumer.healthday.com/infertility-information-22/infertility-news-412/faulty-sperm-may-explain-recurring-miscarriages-741291.html

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The fertility rate in the U.S. has hit a 30-year low, and Americans are not having enough babies to replace themselves, according to a new report from the federal government.

A report published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) titled “National Vital Statistics” found that the country’s fertility rate in 2017 was 16 percent below the level needed for a population to replace itself.

Utah and New Mexico are the only two states in the country with total fertility rates above replacement levels, the report found. Washington, D.C., had the lowest fertility rate.

“Although nearly all states lack a (total fertility rate) that indicates their total population will increase due to births, these results demonstrate that there is variation in fertility patterns within states among groups according to race and Hispanic origin,” the researchers wrote.

The total fertility rate is comprised of the expected number of lifetime births per 1,000 women, given current birth rates by age. The report was based on birth certificate data from 2017.

When broken down by race, the results show that non-Hispanic white women do not have fertility rates above replacement level in any states.

Black women had fertility rates above replacement level in 12 states, as did Hispanic women in 29 states, according to the report.

The U.S. fertility rate has been dropping for years and women are generally having babies later in life, the CDC found.

Source: https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/425025-cdc-americans-not-having-enough-babies-to-sustain-population

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Gastroenterologists explain.

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If you cut back on your food intake, will your stomach actually get smaller, so you’re satisfied with less food?

Of course, said your mom, as she dutifully stuck to her diet of cottage cheese-filled cantaloupe halves and cabbage soup. And though she might’ve been right about everything else, she was wrong about this one.

Sorry, but it’s a myth that your stomach can shrink

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We’ve all heard that thing about how cutting back on calories causes your appetite to reset, and how over time, your elastic stomach actually shrinks down, so you fill up on tinier portions.

If it sounds ridiculous, that’s because it kind of is, experts say. Yes, your belly does boast rubber band-like properties that allow it to change size, explains gastroenterologist Nitin Kumar, MD. For instance, the elasticity makes it easier to gorge when presented with a giant meal to help us avoid starving in times of famine. (Something most modern humans don’t have to worry about. But back in our cave-people days, it was helpful.)

As for the shrinkage? Your stomach is capable of quickly snapping back to normal size after a feast. But it’s not going to continue to get smaller—even if you start eating much, much less, says Kumar.


All our stomachs are the same size, regardless of how much we weigh

If eating less was all it took to shrink your stomach, it would follow that normal-weight people have smaller food pouches than people who are overweight or obese. But that’s not the case, according to findings published in the journal Gastroenterology. Regardless of how much we weigh, everyone’s stomach is pretty much the same size.

If you’re still skeptical, consider this: Your body was designed to take in enough calories to keep it running, even during times when food is scarce. So you better believe that it’s not going to shrink your stomach when you feed it less.

In fact, most of us tend to feel hungrier when we slash our caloric intake. “Your body begins to think that you’re starving. So you get multiple physiologic and hormonal responses to try to get you back to your weight,” Kumar says. Your system gets flooded with the hunger hormone ghrelin, making food even harder to resist. At the same time, your body temperature and metabolic rate slow down in an attempt to conserve precious energy.

Why you shouldn’t slash calories to shrink your stomach

That’s a long-winded, science-y way of saying this: Drastically cutting your portions not only won’t shrink your stomach—it’ll probably backfire. And if you managed to lose any weight, you’ll likely regain the pounds with interest, Kumar says.

None of this is to say that losing weight is impossible. But in order to do it successfully, you need to cut back on food gradually—so your body doesn’t suddenly freak out and think that it’s never getting food again. That means instead of embarking on a crash diet, try cutting back by just 100 or 200 calories a day, Kumar says. It’s enough to help you lose weight slowly and sustainably, but not so much that your body mistakenly thinks that you’re starving.

Source: https://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/a20499763/stomach-shrink/

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