7 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

People often get tired and stress when focusing in one particular aspect. There are many ways to solve this problem. You can take a break for short period so that the body can refresh again. You can also eat foods or snack which provides nutrition for the body and mind. Moreover, you should practice exercises every day to prevent illness and exhausted. It is better to have one effective machine at home to work out in the spare time. Spend sometimes searching on different spin bike reviews to pick up one suitable one.

Nowadays, chocolate is not a junk food anymore. In fact, it contains lots of nutrition for the body, especially your brain. This type of food is very useful for people who have to work all day. Check out these benefits below:

chocolateWHY YOU SHOULD EAT CHOCOLATE?

Studies have shown that eating dark chocolate is delicious and sweet. In addition, it is very effective for curing a broken heart. The main ingredient of chocolate is cacao; this also helps creating a favorable taste for chocolate. When eating dark chocolate regularly, you will receive a large number of benefits.

BENEFITS OF CHOCOLATE

Strengthen the heart

Researches have shown that chocolate is good for improving cardiovascular. For instance, a study of more than 33,000 women in Sweden showed that people who eat dark chocolate regularly will reduce the risk of taking cardiovascular disease.

On the other hand, a square piece of chocolate can lower the risk of stroke and heart attack up to 45%. The main ingredients of chocolate include flavonoids and antioxidant will enhance the flexibility of all the veins.

Lose weight

lose-weight-with-chocolate If you are still confuse whether chocolate can benefits your diet plan or not. It will give more things than you have expected.

On the other hand, dark chocolate gives more sense of full than its lighter-colored siblings. Individuals are less likely to crave for salty and fatty foods. Therefore, it is better if you stick it to the daily diet plan regularly.

Prevent diabetes

Sweet things are the main causes for diabetes. According to some researches from Italy, people who consume dark chocolate for half a month will reduce their level of insulin.

Make people happier

make-people-happierWomen who have pregnancy should eat chocolate regularly. This will make the mother become happier which is good for the children in the future. Therefore, the babies will become happier and smile more often.

You can also pick a small piece of dark chocolate in the baby’s mouth sometimes.

Release stress

release stress

In fact, people are more likely to get stressed when they are studying in college. This will make they eat more snack such as chocolate, candy bars or coke. In addition, study has showed that stressed people should eat one bar of chocolate twice a week. To illustrate, the level of hormone will reduce significantly.

Improve intelligence

When you are suffering from stress during the working time, don’t hesitate to take one chocolate bar from the machine. Eating this not only provides more energy for the body, but boosts the power for your brain as well.

In addition, research from a university in Nottingham found that ingredients in chocolate stimulate the blood in your brain for more than 4 hours. Therefore, it can help improving the performance and productivity of your work.

Reduce cough and diarrhea

People who are having cough can reduce their sickness after eating chocolate. To illustrate, it releases illness in each nerves of your mind.

In fact, the cocoa flavonoids will provide protein for the small intestine during the diarrhea time.

To conclude, there are information related to chocolate. You should check out the benefits of it in order to know clearly about the importance of chocolate. In addition, remember to stick to a healthy diet plan and regular exercises for a long period of time.

Rev up your weight-loss momentum

It’s natural to lose steam on any weight-loss program, no matter how committed you are to achieving your goal. This month, find ways to fire up your enthusiasm–and watch the pounds fall off even faster.

Nine months into our Real-Life Healthy Life (RLHL) program, participants Crystal, Lily, and Maria need some motivation. To help jumpstart their drive to lose, we asked them to assess their progress thus far and to set new, bolder weight-loss goals for the end of the year. Why not do the same thing yourself? And while you’re at it, check out the tips for cutting calories and boosting slim-down ambition from RLHL nutrition expert Elisa Zied, R.D., author of Feed Your Family Right!

HOW DO YOU PLAN TO MEET YOUR NEW GOAL WEIGHT BY DECEMBER?

“I recently sprained my knee and am doing physical therapy three times a week, so I can’t do much cardio exercise until it heals. To get my heart rate up, I’m going to do crunches and yoga twice a day instead of just once. Our dog wakes me up at 6 a.m. every day–long before the boys are up–so I can fit in more exercise then. As soon as my knee heals, I’ll be back on my treadmill.”

rev-up

Meal makeovers: To help Maria make more slimming food choices, Zied examined a page from her daily food log. Here, her suggestions.

BREAKFAST: 2 slices whole-butter, 1 banana, coffee with skim milk

Zied’s analysis: “The fiber in the whole-wheat toast is filling, and peanut butter provides healthy fats. I would add a serving of dairy, such as 1 cup of low-fat yogurt or skim milk, since Maria is regularly low on calcium.”

LUNCH: 1 oz boneless ribs, 1 steamed vegetable dumpling, 1/4 cup fried rice, 1/4 cup steamed broccoli

Zied’s analysis: “This meal is on the skimpy side: Fried rice and ribs are high in fat and salt, but the portions are small, so Maria’s shorting herself on protein. It’s also a lost opportunity to get some whole grains–steamed brown rice is a healthier bet than fried white rice. Doubling up on the amount of broccoli would also help Maria reach her daily veggie quota.”

SNACK: 1 cup grapes, 2 low-fat mozzarella cheese sticks

Zied’s analysis: “Great–Maria hit the daily recommended fruit intake of 1 1/2 cups.”

DINNER: 3 oz tilapia cooked, with 1 tsp olive oil 1/2 cup broccoli, 1/8 cup whole-grain brown rice

Zied’s analysis: “It’s great that Maria is making tilapia–she never cooked fish before joining RLHL! But she needs to make sure she’s getting enough calories each day to preserve her lean muscle tissue–which burns fat–and to prevent her body from going into starvation mode and storing all calories as fat. She should increase her broccoli and rice servings to 1 cup apiece.”

HOW DO YOU PLAN TO MEET YOUR NEW GOAL WEIGHT BY DECEMBER?

“I still skimp on cardiovascular exercise, so I’m scheduling a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes of cardio a day on weekdays. To build up from 15 minutes to 45 minutes on my TreadClimber, I’m going to add five minutes every few clays. I get bored during cardio, so to break up the monotony I’m going to start participating in the aqua program at my gym. I’ll take a class two times a week, then I’ll stay in the pool and develop my own workout using their water barbells.”

Meal makeovers: Zied’s suggestions to Crystal for making more slimming food choices:

BREAKFAST (7 a.m.): 1 container strawberry-banana yogurt

Zied’s analysis: “It’s great that Crystal’s eating yogurt since she tends to fall short on calcium, but flavored yogurt is high in added sugar, so I’d suggest switching to unsweetened and stirring in fresh sliced banana and strawberries.”

MIDMORNING SNACK (10 a.m.): 2 eggs, 2 slices oat bran toast

Zied’s analysis. “Eggs provide high-quality protein, but the yolks are packed with cholesterol and saturated fat, so I’d recommend replacing one egg with two egg whites. And try scrambling in some veggies, such as chopped peppers, tomatoes, or broccoli, or adding a small piece of fruit to the meal–Crystal tends to fall short on produce.”

LUNCH (3 p.m.): salad topped with breaded chicken and honey mustard dressing

Zied’s analysis: “Anything breaded tends to be high in unhealthy saturated and trans fats, so Crystal should opt for all-white meat grilled or baked skinless chicken. She could afford to add a serving of whole grains here, too, such as a slice of whole-wheat bread or some whole-wheat crackers.”

EVENING SNACK (6 p.m.): 1 apple Zied’s analysis: “Adding some protein to this snack, such as 2 Tbsp of raw or dry-roasted nuts, would help promote fullness and provide heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.”

DINNER (8 p.m.): 3 cookies, 1 cup 2 percent milk

Zied’s analysis. “Waiting so long to eat lunch threw Crystal off schedule, so she ended up skipping dinner and having cookies and milk as a substitute. It would be better if she planned out her meals to get three squares a day plus one or two between-meal snacks, since erratic eating can slow down metabolism.”

maria

Maria

Maria Mills, 37
Stay-at-home mom; married
with two children, ages 4
and 2; Binghamton, NY

              THEN            NOW

height        5'3"
weight        180.75 lbs       159.75 lbs
body fat      30.2%            31.4%
bust          40"              37"
waist         35 1/2"          31"
hips          45 1/2"          41"

Body fat percentages are derived from a
three-point caliper measurement, which has
a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points.

zied
Crystal

Crystal Smith, 34
Owns/runs a travel agency
from home; married with
three children, ages 6 and
4 (twins); Plainfield, NJ

           THEN          NOW

height     5'5"
weight     266 lbs       244 lbs
body fat   39.2%         33.9%
bust       52 1/2"       50"
waist      50"           45"
hips       53 1/2"       51"

HOW DO YOU PLAN TO MEET YOUR NEW GOAL WEIGHT BY DECEMBER?

“Keeping food logs helps me stay on track, but I never keep them on weekends–and that’s when I overeat the most. Going forward, I’m going to keep a notepad with me on weekends and write down everything! I also need to cut in half the number of times I eat out with friends: Every time I do, I eat more–and less healthfully. So I’m going to plan non-food activities with friends. I’m already setting up salsa-dancing dates and jewelry-making get-togethers!”

Meal makeovers: Zied’s suggestions to Lily for making more slimming food choices:

BREAKFAST: 1 container fat-free vanilla yogurt with granola, 1 handful pita chips, 1 cup vanilla soy milk, 1 chocolate-chip mini muffin

Zied’s analysis: “Flavored yogurt has added sugar, so Lily should switch to unsweetened yogurt and eat it with a flaky whole-grain cereal that’s less calorie-dense than granola. Trading the pita chips for a toasted whole-wheat pita will provide more filling fiber.

And Lily should skip sweets like the mini muffin early in the day and limit them to once a day, when she craves sugar the most.”

MIDMORNING SNACK: 1 packet blueberry oatmeal with skim milk

Zied’s analysis: “Switch to plain oatmeal, which has no added sugar, and add fresh blueberries.”

LUNCH: cheesy homestyle potatoes with broccoli (frozen meal), mixed-greens salad, 1 individual apple pie

Zied’s analysis: “This meal is skimpy on lean protein, which is satiating and energizing, so I’d add some fish or grilled chicken. And Lily should decide whether this apple pie is her daily sweet.”

MIDAFTERNOON SNACK: 2 slices dark german wheat bread, 1 apple, 1/8 cup nuts, 1 handful dried fruit

Zied’s analysis: “This is a great mini meal, but I’d skip the dried fruit since it’s a concentrated source of calories.”

DINNER: 2/3 cup rice, 1/3 cup steamed tofu, 1/2 cup spicy chige (seafood and tofu), 1 bite grilled eel, 1/5 cup house salad, 1 fried shrimp dumpling

Zied’s analysis: “Lily tends to have so many different foods at meals, and studies show that too much variety delays fullness and leads to overeating. She’d probably feel full faster–and eat less–if she had larger portions of fewer items.”

Lily
Lily

Lily Chern, 29
Business analyst/
entrepreneur, engaged,
no children; New THEN

                 THEN             NOW

height           5'1"
weight           136 lbs          130 lbs
body fat         24.6%            26%
bust             33 1/2"          32"
waist            30"              29"
hips             38 1/2"          37"

5 ways to get motivated

Restart your slim-down engines with these simple tricks from Zied.

(1) Set mini goals. Giving yourself too much time to reach your goal weight can make it seem like you have ample time to achieve it–which also makes it easier to put off making necessary diet and lifestyle changes. So break up your larger goal into a succession of smaller, more achievable ones.

(2) Track–and reward–your progress. Pick the same day each week to step on the scale. (Early in the week is best–it helps to keep weekend eating in check.) If you hit your mark, treat yourself to a non-food reward, and make it something you truly desire–like a massage or a new bag or bauble–so you’ll wont to work hard to earn it.

(3) Enlist a witness. Share your goals with a trusted friend or a family member and ask if you can give her regular progress reports. Knowing that you’re accountable to someone else will keep you motivated–and honest.

(4) Clear out your “fat clothes.” Seeing too-big clothes in your closet every morning sends your brain the message that you think you’ll need them again some day–not exactly the confident thoughts that inspire motivation to keep losing weight. So donate them to your favorite charity and …

(5) Buy clothes that fit. Simply perusing a rack of smaller sizes is an ego booster. And when you see how great you look in form-fitting clothes, you’ll want to do what it takes to stay in them.

Thick & Thin

weight-lossIt’s my personal War and Peace, this weight-loss journey. I feel like Tolstoy’s stoic Prince Andrey on those days when battle rages in my mind between a determination to stick to mindful eating and hard exercise and an urge to wave the white flag and let my legs give way under me.

Since I last reported to you, readers, from the Duke Diet & Fitness Center in North Carolina, I have lost sixteen pounds, making my four-month weight loss a total of 44 pounds.

It has not been easy. But I have learned that I am not fighting alone, whether the day has seen a skirmish with an ab-crunch machine or a tussle with a hotel minibar. (Last week at a five-star resort I forgot to ask the staff to mine-sweep the minibar before I checked in; I dumped the entire contents out on the carpet, futilely hoping they’d be hastily removed by housekeeping.) In my war, there are field generals, there are colonels, there are relief squadrons.

What a joy it was to return home from Duke on April 4 and be able to slide into the elegant trousers of my Richard Anderson English suit! As I buttoned my double-breasted jacket, like Prince Andrey who shouted “Hurrah!” in the thick of battle, I shouted “Hallelujah!” in my bedroom.

UNITED WE STAND

My great field general, my Kutuzov, is Oprah Winfrey. While flanking columns of friends greeted my return after seven weeks of Duke diet boot camp with cheers and encouragement, no one has been as magnificent in her support as Oprah.

The new queen of lean booked me to appear on her show and share my journey of weight loss on April 28 (airing soon). The day before flying to Chicago for the taping, I reluctantly decided to weigh myself in; Duke emphatically discourages clients from getting obsessed with the scales and checking their numbers every day, and I hadn’t weighed myself in some weeks. To make sure I had an accurate figure, I ran into the Sharper Image on my way to the airport. Well, it resulted in a plane ride of great peace, because the scale informed me that Oprah could announce to the world that thus far I had lost 44 pounds since the end of January.

I sat in the greenroom watching the first half of the show. Oprah was discussing her own personal diet experiences, with props to illustrate. How do you conquer an afternoon snack attack? She does it with her favorite herbal tea; less than a palmful of almonds, about five or six; a slice of thinly shaved parmesan cheese; and a very thin wedge of green apple. Oprah never eats after 7:30 in the evening, and when she craves a late-night snack (late night being around 9:00 p.m. according to Oprah time) she makes a hot brew, filling a china pot with fresh lemon slices and orange peel. When she’s really hungry, she chews on the orange peel. Oprah says nothing tastes as good as being thin.

TRAINING DAY

After that trip to Chicago, everything fell into place. Forty-four pounds? Just the beginning. To gallop boldly ahead, I phoned a personal trainer named Charles Cooperman, who had recently set up shop at Achieve Physical Therapy & Performance Enhancement, an airy, open space owned by Darren Riccio in a strip mall in Scarsdale, New York, ten minutes by car from my house. The atmosphere at Achieve is very private: no Mr. Universe wannabes, no hyperkinetic graduates of the Jane Fonda fitness-video school. I was happy this wasn’t a trendy gym but a bit worried because there was no Concept2 rowing machine, which had become my cardiovascular workout of choice back at Duke.

After my first three sessions, though, I began to appreciate Achieve’s choice of a state-of-the-art Paramount Functional Trainer, which allowed me to do seven different strength-training exercises in one spot. And the hellaciousness of abdominal crunches has been transformed into a battle won: On this new machine, I am now up to three sets of 50 or 60 reps, at 60 pounds.

The dieting strategies I learned at Duke are imprinted on my mental war map. Calories are forever in my silent thoughts. Green leafy salads and steamed broccoli with no salt are my new foods of choice. No milk shakes, no Frisbee-size oatmeal-raisin cookies. No hard alcohol at any time.

Travel days are difficult. Those minibars open to reveal chips in a can, and leering candy bars, and small winking bags of cookies (thank goodness minibars don’t stock supermarket-size cookie bags). But never mind. As they say, sometimes you have to lose a battle to win a war. Like they told us at Duke, it’s not the end of the world to eat a sandwich cookie. Just wake up the next day and work out harder.

CINDERFELLA

On Saturday, May 14, wearing a regal red Vera Wang dress, Oprah welcomed me on the silver carpet at her first-ever Legends Ball, held at the Bacara hotel in Santa Barbara, California. The ball was part of a long weekend that had begun on Friday with a ladies-only lunch for 25 celebrants, including Coretta Scott King; writers Alice Walker and Dr. Maya Angelou; singers Tina Turner, Diana Ross, and Nancy Wilson; actress Cicely Tyson; and the elegant model Naomi Sims. These African-American titans were honored by Oprah for the inspirations that they are. As a memento-and perfect proof of Oprah’s amazing generosity-she gave each Legend a pair of diamond earrings; the younger honorees, called “young’uns”-including Iman, Halle Berry, and Mariah Carey-got huge black-and-white diamond hoops.

On Sunday, a gospel brunch was held at Oprah’s house in Montecito, which she calls the Promised Land. It felt like a family reunion. There are 2,000 trees on the front lawn; there is a trolley to wheel guests around the various promenades and allees. Oprah steered me about in a golf cart, with Tina Turner, Cicely Tyson, and Cory Booker, who is running for mayor of Newark, New Jersey, bouncing along beside. We walked down the Hallelujah Trail, passing some 5,000 white hydrangeas, her grandmother’s favorite flower. (My spring allergies were acting up. What can I say? Many Kleenex were dampened, many tears were shed that weekend.)

The engraved ball invitation called for white tie, and a few days beforehand Ralph Lauren had supervised the final fitting on my custom-made tails, pique vest, and pique bow tie. Looking at myself in Ralph’s three-way mirror, I realized this was the first time since my diet began that I felt elegant. I was learning to walk like myself again. My energy was higher than it had been since I was eighteen.

And I can dance once more. As Oprah and I walked the silver carpet together at Bacara, I felt very proud. I thought of Tolstoy’s Natasha, who, exhausted from dancing in the arms of Prince Andrey at her debut ball in Saint Petersburg, breathlessly exclaimed: “Enjoying myself as I never have before in life.” Like Natasha, I love dancing, and, after Stedman Graham squired our hostess and mistress of ceremonies, I was the second to lead her out on the white-and-black floor. It felt grand to show this room of 362 guests that I was restoring my silhouette the way Oprah had restored hers, encouraging millions of her viewers to do the same. Later, I got the chance to dance with opera star Leontyne Price and with Michelle Obama, wife of Illinois senator Barack Obama.

courage

Onstage, Nancy Wilson, Ashford & Simpson, Smokey Robinson, Patti LaBelle, and Michael McDonald had a jam session. “Courage is giving more when you feel like giving up,” Oprah said in a voice-over narration as video images from the lives of the extraordinary Legends played out over the ballroom.

At 2:00 a.m., I got back to my room to find a silver-framed photograph on my bed. Somehow, while we were all partying, Oprah had had souvenir portraits taken and framed in Asprey silver, and they’d been wrapped and delivered to each guest. And there I was, a handsome Andre, a leaner man in white tie.

Waking up in my hotel bed the next morning, I had an epiphany. I would block out my June social calendar and head back to Duke for two weeks. Charge!

Team up to slim down

Supercharge your weight loss with these fun and easy tips from GH’s hot new book, The Girlfriends Diet

1. KEEP EACH OTHER IN CHECK

The simple strategy behind GHs Girlfriends Diet: Get faster results by losing with a friend. In fact, dieters who team up with a partner who successfully loses weight can drop twice as much as those who diet alone, confirms a Brown University study.

BOTTOM LINE: Experts say that if a buddy is checking up on you, and you on her, you can guide each other through the rough spots. It’s like an extra dose of willpower!

running

2. AMP UP THE FUN FACTOR

Recruiting a friend to lose weight with you turns dieting into an easy way to socialize more often. Plan a coffee-and-workout date with your girlfriend, for example, or train for a charity walk or run together. When you get tickets to see a play, make a pact to walk part of the way there or home, and use the stairs instead of the elevator. Meet at the gym to watch your favorite TV show on side-by-side treadmills, or at the mall for a power walk-and-shop. (Yes, carrying big shopping bags can tone muscles!)

BOTTOM LINE: Get creative. There are countless ways to sneak in fitness.

3. “JOURNAL” TOGETHER

Studies show people grossly under-estimate the number of calories they consume, which is why writing down what you eat is one of the best ways to achieve diet success. Keep an online journal with your friend through an app like MyFitnessPal, where you can get ideas and find inspiration while helping each other stay on track. Even better: A recent study shows you’ll be more consistent with your tracking using your phone instead of a pencil and paper. Why the advantage? “You always have your phone with you,” says lead researcher Christopher Wharton, Ph.D., associate professor of nutrition at Arizona State University.

BOTTOM LINE: Use your phone for best tracking results.

4. MAKE BRUNCH AND LUNCH DATES

Experts link eating earlier in the day with faster and greater weight loss, reveals a study in the International Journal of Obesity. Researchers tracked the eating habits and diet success of420 people on a 20-week program. Those who ate their main meal before 3 P.M.–lunch for the study’s Spanish population, and about 40% of their daily calories–lost five more pounds on average than the late eaters.

BOTTOM LINE: Eat your biggest meal early in the day.

5. SHARE A TRAINER

Personal trainers are great resources, but can be pricey. Gym classes are fun, but can be loud and full of strangers. One easy solution is to share the cost of a trainer with one or more girlfriends.

BOTTOM LINE: You’ll save money, and your crew can set the pace and the workout plan while still getting plenty of personal attention.

6. USE SOCIAL MEDIA

Post your progress online using tools like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. This is also a great way to garner even more support for yourself and your dieting partner. A weight-loss study in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests Web-based support can be helpful for weight management. “I post my weekly progress on Facebook,” says Wendy Kalman, a Girlfriends Diet fan, explaining that the “likes” she gets encourage her to carry on.

BOTTOM LINE: Tapping into online tools or your community can fuel accountability and success.

7. CELEBRATE YOUR WINS!

celebrate-your-win

Whenever one of you hits a milestone–say, every five to 10 pounds–treat yourselves with something simple you both enjoy.

“My friends and I organize game nights,” says Ashley Schwartau, a Girlfriends Dieter from Nashville.

BOTTOM LINE: Marking your achievements will not only let you enjoy the moment, but also inspire both of you to push through plateaus.

8. TRY GH’S GIRLFRIENDS GUIDE TO DIETING

Discover easy-to-use meal plans based on the expert-approved Mediterranean diet, 150-plus delicious recipes, fun exercise ideas and inspiring real-life makeover stories. One Navy wife and mother shed 80 pounds after reconnecting with an old friend. Another woman lost weight for her best friend’s wedding, eventually dropping 105 pounds, most of it in time for her own wedding day. All this along with stay-slim secrets to keep you on track–and keep the weight off for good!

Overcoming diet deadlock

You’ve lost weight again and again, but the pounds just won’t stay off. How three defeated dieters finally broke the cycle–and slimmed down for good.

defeated-dieter

It’s a sinking feeling: You try on a smashing outfit in the department-store changing, room, only to discover that you’ve jumped up yet another size. On the drive home, you grimly ponder which weight-loss weapons you should try this time: policing every bite you eat, swilling liquid dinners, hitting the gym five days a week. If only peeling off the pounds weren’t such a misery–and regaining the weight down the road so inevitable.

Thankfully, there’s new hope: Experts are finding that previous dieting failures don’t mean you’ll never keep the pounds off. A recent University of Pittsburgh study examined nearly 800 subjects who maintained an average weight loss of 30 pounds for just over five years and concluded that many dieters need several tries to find the strategy that works best for them.

The three women featured here had all tried m lose weight, but they couldn’t find the time to exercise or the willpower to abandon their favorite treats. It wasn’t until they exchanged drastic, self-denying regimens for sensible, carefully thought-out lifestyle changes that they put yo-yo dieting behind them forever.

The Secret of Staying Motivated

When you’re running yourself ragged from dawn to long past dusk–a full-time job, car-pool duty, cooking, and cleaning at night–nibbling one little cookie might not seem like such a felony. Since a jam-packed schedule allowed Jacklyn Marcus, 43, a Los Angeles mother of two and sculptor, little time for exercise or meal planning, indulging her sweet tooth was the only occasion she felt like she was doing something nice for herself.

The problem: “Once I had one cookie, I usually ate the whole box,” confesses Marcus. Depriving herself only made it worse. “I would first go for healthier snacks like pretzels or a piece of fruit, but eventually I would give in to my craving.” By the time she was 30, her weight had climbed from 120 pounds to 150; after the birth of her second child four years later, the scale hit 165.

Marcus’s first stop on the diet train was a high-protein, no-sweets regimen that took off 40 pounds–for about a year. Dismayed by the regain, she next tried a liquid diet and was disappointed again. The problem was, “I would overeat the moment I allowed myself to go back to real food,” she says. At parties she steered clear of the dessert table, nibbling on fresh veggies and crackers, but “once I got home, I would attack the pantry for anything sweet.”

It was bumping into an old friend who also longed to lose weight that started her on the right path-literally. “She suggested we begin jogging together, and we found we could use each other to stay motivated,” says Marcus. “At first we couldn’t run for more than five minutes, but gradually we worked up to three-mile runs for thirty minutes, four times a week.”

As these morning runs started to pay off, Marcus’s cravings for sugary treats lessened. She began cutting back on bread and pasta; a typical dinner became grilled fish, steamed vegetables, and a salad. “The more healthful foods I ate, the better I felt, and the more energy I had to go jogging,” she says. After dinner, she permitted herself one piece of fruit. “I still have to work hard to enforce this rule because I tend to be a late-night snacker,” she admits.

To handle parties, which have always spelled diet trouble, Marcus worked out a specific strategy. She modified her hands-off-the-goodies policy, permitting herself to sample a few high-calorie foods. “I constantly remind myself that a little taste here and there is better than bingeing on two thousand calories of junk food at home later,” she says.

To her delight, Marcus lost 35 pounds more than two and a half years ago and hasn’t relapsed. This is not to say her sweet tooth has been extracted. But instead of running from temptation, she’s made peace with it by indulging in Saturday-night restaurant dates with her husband that end with a sugary splurge. “If I know I’m going to have a dessert, I’ll order only a salad and soup or an appetizer to compensate for the extra fat and calories,” she explains.

And she’s discovered another trick that helps prevent her from polishing off the whole dessert plate. “I eat half of the serving very slowly, then go to the bathroom for a few minutes to give my body a chance to feel full from the meal,” she says. “I’ve found that what I want is just a taste–not an entire piece of cake!”

With a Little Help from Hubby

Flora Hochenberg, 48, of Norwood, NJ, took pride in being a stay-at-home mom, turning out plenty of cookies and cupcakes for PTA programs as well as serving her kids freshly baked treats after school. The trouble was, her home was loaded with dieting booby traps. “I couldn’t resist eating a large portion of whatever I baked,” she admits.

Hochenberg had been waging a war against the same 20 pounds for years. Back in 1981 she’d followed a strict Weight Watchers eating plan in order m dazzle guests (and her groom) on her wedding day. Sure enough, she reached her goal in time. “I looked fabulous in my dress, but then the wedding was over,” she says. “I found myself eating more to compensate for the months that I had deprived myself.”

Additional pounds crept back on when she quit smoking. “The weight gain didn’t Faze me too much, because I was proud of the fact that I had quit smoking,” Hochenberg says. Two kids later, she was 25 pounds over her wedding-day weight. It was no coincidence that when the bathroom scale broke, the family never got around to replacing it. “I stopped weighing myself, and I think this gave me more of a license to eat,” she says.

That mind-set changed a year and a half ago, when a 45-year-old neighbor died of a heart attack. It was a wake-up call not only for Hochenberg but also for her husband, who had put on his own 25 pounds. “My husband’s father was obese and died of a heart attack in his forties,” she says. And Hochenberg fretted over stories she’d read about a link between being overweight and developing breast cancer, the disease that killed her mother.

The couple decided to get serious about taking off the pounds together, but not by following a draconian diet. Instead, they started working nutritious, low-fat foods into their meals. “We substituted chicken and turkey for red meat and made sure to include at least two servings of vegetables with every meal,” she says. Spaghetti with meatballs made way for pasta primavera; meaty lasagna layered with high-fat cheeses morphed into spinach lasagna with part-skim ricotta and mozzarella.

Some sacrifices were harder than others: Hochenberg found it easier to wave good-bye to fried foods and wine than to give up an occasional slice of gooey chocolate cake. “I know I lost weight less quickly because I allowed myself to eat some of my favorite foods,” she says. “But I found the process was much easier than it had been in the past.” Focusing on the health risks of being overweight–not just vanity–did the trick for her.

How did Hochenberg conquer the home-with-the-treats dilemma? “Instead of baking for my children’s fundraising sales, now I go to a bakery and get a sealed box of cookies or cupcakes,” she says. And she’s recently started working for a bookstore catalog, bringing in a healthy brown-bag lunch every day. “I keep celery and carrot sticks both at work and around the house for snacks.”

The results: Over the course of six months, she lost 25 pounds and has kept them off for more than a year (her husband has also shed 25 pounds). And yes, she did get around to buying a new bathroom scale, which she steps on once a week. “No one could give me the perfect formula for losing weight,” says Hochenberg. “I had to find that out on my own.”

An Eating-Style Makeover

Being too busy to eat would seem like a surefire way to lose weight, but Barbara Ciment, a 53-year-old mother of two from Silver Spring, MD, actually saw her weight shoot up as a booming real-estate business kept her on the road from morning till late at night. The culprit: a steady supply of high-carb snacks stashed in both car and office. “I would eat only one meal a day-dinner with my family,” she says. “The rest of the day I would snack on fat-free crackers, pretzels, and jelly beans. I nibbled all day–sometimes I wouldn’t even notice I was eating.”

Carrying extra weight meant never feeling she looked her best in a business where image wins clients. “Shopping for clothes was so depressing,” she says. “I found my options were limited to long skirts and loose jackets.” One day, while trying on clothes in a department store, she realized that the size-10 skirts were too snug –she’d graduated to a size 12. At five feet six inches, Ciment weighed 164 pounds, an all-time high. It was time to make some changes.

She was determined not to repeat her past mistakes. Weight Watchers hadn’t led to permanent weight loss; a two-week-long “cabbage soup diet” also failed. So Ciment consulted a nutritionist, who, after analyzing her diet, frowned on her “fat-free” snacks. “She told me I wasn’t eating enough protein and that I was eating way too much sugar and starch.”

Ciment was informed that three meals a day would curtail snacking. “I forced myself to eat a bowl of shredded wheat with skim milk for breakfast, even though I never feel hungry in the morning,” she says. “I used to think that breakfast was a waste, but I found that it made me less hungry during mid-morning, when I would usually begin to nosh.” She also rearranged her schedule to take a 30-minute lunch break at home, grabbing a tuna- or egg-salad sandwich fixed the night before or a cup of low-fat yogurt. One unexpected benefit of the new lunch routine was an energy boost that lasted all afternoon.

Still, finding time to prepare healthy meals was no cinch. “I didn’t realize how much time it takes to cut up fruits and vegetables to make salads,” she says. “What works for me is making larger portions that last a few days.” Every Sunday she prepares a large bowl of coleslaw–shredded cabbage, carrots, and green peppers mixed with low-fat mayonnaise –for munching throughout the week.

Working exercise into her schedule was another problem. Ciment solved it by not booking any appointments before 9:00 A.M.–that way she can work out for a half hour on the treadmill or stationary bike at least three times a week. Brisk walks on the weekend with her husband help, as do vacations that involve hiking.

In eight months, Ciment lost 32 pounds, and she’s kept them off for more than a year. “I’m very happy with where I’m at,” she says. “Although I lost weight for my appearance, I find I also have a lot more energy now. I wasn’t expecting this payoff, yet it’s been very rewarding.”

Six Sensible Strategies for Success

summer-diet

Have diets left you convicted that you’ll never lose weight for good? What you need is a new way of thinking. Most important: Be realistic. Weight-loss experts stress that you should make only those changes that will fit into your lifestyle. “It’s those baby steps that barely notice–like switching from two-percent to one-percent milk–that lead to weight loss in the long run,” says Ronette Kolotkin, Ph.D., director of the behavioral program at the Duke University Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, NC. Armed with the following strategies, you could very well have a weight-loss breakthrough.

* Analyze past weight-loss efforts? Did previous diets often leave you feeling deprived? Was it a daily struggle to fit workouts and meal planing into your schedule? Did you find it impossible to maintain new eating habits? “Answering yes to any of those questions means you made too many drastic changes that you couldn’t stick with,” says Gary Foster, Ph.D., clinical director of Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania school of Medicine in Philadelphia. If your lifestyles is too hectic to accommodate big changes, make small ones. While more modest changes may mean slower weight loss, they’re still worth the effort.

* Don’t set yourself up for failure. Set a weight-loss goal of no more than 10 percent of your current body weight, according to a panel of experts from the National Academy of Sciences. (For example, a 150-pound woman should aim to lose no more than 15 pounds.) If you can keep that much weight off for six months, then go for another 10 percent.

* Think filling foods. Calorie for calorie, high-fiber foods such as apples, oranges, and shredded wheat will leave you feeling fuller than cookies and candy bars, which pack more calories into a smaller portion. Ditto for low-fat starchy foods (pasta and potatoes) compared to high-fat starches (croissants). The 230 calories in a croissant are packed into a measly two ounces, whereas a 230-calorie potato weighs in at a satisfying eight ounces.

* Allow for small regains. Although a two- to three- pound weight gain can be blamed on water retention, a gain of five pounds or more means you need to take stock. (If you don’t weigh yourself, use the fit of your clothes to gauge your progress.) Keeping your weight within a five-pound range means you’ll maintain a loss for good.

play-with-kids* Get physical. While you’ll lose weight faster if you work up a sweat for 25 minutes at least three days a week, smaller blocks of more frequent but less intense exercise will still get you results. Shoot for 25 to 30 minutes of activity on most days of the week–and that activity doesn’t all have to be at the gym. Play with your kids for ten minutes at the park; sweep the floor for five minutes; garden for 15. If you’re moving, it counts.

* Adjust your calorie intake. The more weight you lose, the fewer calories your body needs. If you are a five-foot-five-inch, 35-year-old woman who weighs 160 pounds, you burn about 1,443 calories a day, not counting exercise. If you then lose 30 pounds, you need to burn only 1,302 calories to maintain your 130-pound body–that means you’ll have to eat about 140 fewer calories every day (or burn them off through exercise) to maintain your new weight.