EXAMPLE ~~FOR HOMEWORK ENTRIES!!!

TJ

Saturday Horizon Bootcamp ~ 50 Minutes

Monday ~ 3 hours road biking

Wednesday~ 2 hours road biking-1 hour jogging-30 minutes weight training

Friday~ Horizon PT session 40 minutes

Sunday~ 60 minute walk- 5 min walk 1 min jog Repeated…

Our Favorite (Healthy) Fast Food Breakfasts

by CookingLight.com

Next time you’re in a hurry, fuel up with these quick yet healthy fast food breakfast options. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. -By Karen Ansel, RD

Breakfast On-the-Go
Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but it’s also the one we have the least time for. But before you go without-or grab an oversized bagel or donut-check out the latest fast food offerings. Many are actually good for you and slimming too.

See More: Grab-and-Go Quick Breakfast Ideas

Starbucks: Protein Plate
When it comes to breakfast on the run, it can be hard to find one with plenty of protein that’s not also oozing with saturated fat. Enter Starbucks’ Protein Plate, an energizing combo of fruit, peanut butter, a hard cooked egg, and a mini bagel. Together these deliver the perfect balance of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats to help you power through your morning. One serving provides 370 calories, 5 grams of fiber, 17 grams each of protein and fat, and 5 grams of saturated fat. Pair it with a cup of green tea for an added antioxidantboost.

 

See More: Top-Rated Breakfast and Brunch

 

Subway: Western Egg White & Cheese Muffin Melt
The folks at Subway put the breakfast sandwich on a diet and came up with this ingenious muffin melt. They did it by swapping in egg whites for whole eggs and adding fresh vegetables like bell peppers and onions. The result: an egg muffin with only 160 calories, 4 grams of fat, and less than 2 grams of saturated fat. It also packs a satisfying 15 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber along with as much calcium as a glass of milk. Team it up with a bag of apple slices and you’ll work in a serving of produce to boot.

 

See More: 100-Calorie Oatmeal Toppings

 

Au Bon Pain: Large Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
If you’re looking to lower your cholesterol this heart-smart breakfast from Au Bon Pain has your name on it. Not only does it contain the cholesterol-lowering fiber beta-glucan, it also supplies avenanthramides, antioxidants exclusively found in oats that protect against atherosclerosis. And because it’s water-rich it’s naturally low in calories, so you can dig into a big bowlful. Made from rolled oats and apples and sweetened with a touch of honey and sugar, one heaping 16-ounce bowlful provides only 370 calories. Nine grams of filling fiber and 11 grams of slowly-digested protein mean it’s also guaranteed to fend off midmorning hunger pangs.

See More: Healthy Muffin Recipes

 

Jamba Juice: 12-oz Mango Peach Topper™

 

Jamba’s Ideal Meals™ make the perfect breakfast when there’s no time for breakfast. Part smoothie, part yogurt parfait, this meal has it all combining bananas, peaches, mangos, soymilk, and non-fat yogurt with a crunchy organic pumpkin flaxseed granola topping. One 12-oz serving has only 340 calories and 5 grams of fat and supplies 6 grams of fiber and at least half your daily dose of vitamins A and C. Order yours with an extra Whey Protein Superboost for a total of 19 grams of satiating protein.

 

See More: Vegetarian Egg Recipes

 

McDonald’s: Scrambled Eggs + English Muffin

 

You may think of it as the home of the Egg McMuffin but McDonald’s also dishes up a simpler – and healthier – scrambled egg breakfast. Just order each item individually (no oversized platters please!) and be sure to bypass the breakfast meat. Try a side of scrambled eggs, an English muffin, strawberry preserves, and a large coffee for 365 calories and half the sodium you’d get from the McMuffin.

 

See More: Superfast Kid-Friendly Recipes

 

Jack in the Box: Breakfast Jack®

 

If you think breakfast just isn’t breakfast without the meat, this sandwich is for you. By trading ham for bacon, Jack in the Box has managed to whip up one of the lightest breakfast ‘wiches around with just 284 calories and 11 grams of fat. Wash it down with an OJ and you’ll score a hefty dose of heart-healthy potassium and more than 100% of your day’s vitamin C.

 

See More: Breakfast for Dinner Recipes

 

Burger King: 3-Piece French Toast Sticks

 

Who says you can’t start your day on the sweet side? Instead of a giant cinnamon roll, check out this perfectly sized portion of French toast strips from Burger King. Three strips with a 1-ounce container of syrup provide a respectable 300 calories, 11 grams of fat and 2 grams of saturated fat. And it’s unusually low in sodium with only 260 milligrams per serving. Grab an 8-oz jug of fat free milk along with it for an additional protein boost plus a third of your day’s calcium.

 

See More: Ultimate Reader Recipe Winners and Finalists

 

Einstein Bros: Pumpernickel Bagel with Smoked Salmon and Whipped Reduced Fat Garlic and Herb Cream Cheese

 

Get your omega-3 fix first thing with this savory bagel sandwich from Einstein Bros. Made with fluffy whipped reduced-fat cream cheese and a not-too-big bagel, it’s a lot lighter than you’d expect, delivering only 380 calories and 11 grams of fat. And it’s heart-smart too thanks to a generous serving of DHA-rich smoked salmon and fiber-filled pumpernickel. In addition to their hearty flavor, feasting on dark breads like pumpernickel can reduce your heart disease risk by 25% according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

9 Habits that are Good 4 You! by Jessica Girdwain

coffee, beer, stressedcoffee, beer, stressedBy Jessica Girdwain

Look at the Bright Side

 

When it comes to your health, some missteps are OK to make from time to time. In fact, many of these so-called mistakes, such as downing coffee and forgetting to take your vitamins, can actually help you improve your health, feel better faster and boost your mood. Learn the nine “bad” habits you should keep and how to make them work for you.



You drink a huge cup of coffee in the morning… and pour yourself a refill (or two)

 

WHY IT’S NOT SO BAD

 

A couple of cups of joe may perk you up in more ways than you think. Coffee gets a bad rap because of the caffeine, but it may actually help regulate your mood. A recent study published inArchives of Internal Medicine showed that women who drank two to three cups of coffee daily had a 15% lower risk of depression. Photo by iStock

 

“Caffeine helps activate the brain chemicals involved in mood, like dopamine and serotonin,” says study author Alberto Ascherio, MD, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health. Coffee is also a rich source of antioxidants and other healthy compounds that may help protect against cancer, according to new research. One caveat: If you don’t drink coffee, don’t start (caffeine is a stimulant and can cause jitters or an upset stomach in some people). But if you’re a java lover, consider this permission to pour yourself an extra cup.
Learn 7 surprising things about your morning cup of joe.

You allow the Debbie Downer in you to sneak out

 

WHY IT’S NOT SO BAD

 

Think you should force yourself to stay positive (no matter what) when difficult things happen? Think again: Research shows that the key to long-term happiness may actually be dropping the “Everything’s fine!” act. A new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that newlyweds who remained positive in the face of negative but controllable circumstances (problems at work, financial issues) experienced more symptoms of depression four years later than people who looked at situations in a less positive (and more accurate) light. Photo by iStock

 

“Being realistic drives people to take steps to improve their lives, which helps ease stress and sadness,” says study author Erin O’Mara, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of Dayton in Ohio. Also, forcing yourself to stay positive often means you may be suppressing worries or other emotions, which can be unhealthy. Changing your outlook can be as simple as saying to yourself, “We’re in debt. What’s the first thing we can do to start digging out?” instead of denying the situation.
Discover 9 ways to think more positively.

You forget to take your vitamins

 

WHY IT’S NOT SO BAD

 

Although vitamins can fill in the gaps to make sure you get all the nutrients your body needs (a perfect diet all the time is next to impossible!), there’s a downside to always popping a vitamin. It may make you reach for the bag of potato chips instead of an apple-and skip your workout to boot, reveals a new study published inPsychological SciencePhoto by iStock

 

Researchers found that taking a multivitamin every day may make you feel like you have the leeway to blow off other healthy habits-like grabbing dinner at the drive-thru rather than eating right or channel surfing instead of taking a walk, notes Benjamin Caballero, MD, PhD, a professor of pediatrics, nutrition and international health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

 

In general, your body best absorbs nutrients in their natural form, so rather than relying on vitamins, focus on eating a healthy diet packed with whole foods. If you do take vitamins, remind yourself that they don’t replace a healthy diet and exercise or provide a buffer against unhealthy habits.
Find out which 5 nutrients you need the most-and how to get them.

You get angry-and show it!

 

WHY IT’S NOT SO BAD

 

“Anger is actually a good emotion that’s often misunderstood or irrationally used,” says Mary Lamia, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Kentfield, CA. “It motivates you to take action and remedy situations that are wrong.” The key is figuring out how to appropriately channel your anger rather than lash out. Dr. Lamia lays out the three easy steps: Photo by Thinkstock

 

1) Figure out exactly what triggered your anger. Was it the rude comment your coworker made during lunch?

 

2) Consider any other emotions that may be behind your anger. Do you feel embarrassed about the snide remark she made in front of other people? Are you really unhappy with your job but afraid of change, so you don’t look elsewhere?

 

3) Plan a course of action to fix the situation. Have a conversation with your coworker to find out why she made that comment. Check job boards and see what other opportunities are out there.

 

A good rule: Always “sleep on it” or take some time before reacting. The physiological effects of a triggered emotion affect how you think, says Dr. Lamia. Giving yourself a few hours can help you clearly think through what’s going on and the best action to take.
Boost your mood with these easy tips.

You drink beer

 

WHY IT’S NOT SO BAD

 

Red wine gets all the attention when it comes to heart-health benefits, but a brew can be good for you, too. “Beer is rich in disease-fighting antioxidants,” says Cassie Dimmick, MS, a registered dietitian in Springfield, MO. It also provides a dose of energy-revving iron (dark beers are a richer source than light lagers, says research) as well as dietary silicon, a mineral that helps promote bone formation, which may improve bone density and help protect against osteoporosis. In fact, research shows that some pale ales contain just as much or more silicon than oat bran, which is one of the best food sources of this mineral. Photo by iStock

 

Beer contains 120 to 150 calories per 12-oz serving, which can add up fast. So if you do drink beer, make sure you stick to one per day (or less) to get the healthy benefits without the added calories and pounds.
Get tasty ideas for cooking with beer.

You get stressed about the little stuff

 

WHY IT’S NOT SO BAD

 

Chronic stress is linked to conditions like heart disease, but short-term stress actually has a positive side, pushing you to get things done-and succeed at them. “Stress triggers the hormone cortisol, which helps energize us, revving up our systems to handle the day,” says Judith Orloff, MD, author of Emotional Freedom. “It also motivates us to do better on the things we care about and problem-solve.”Photo by iStock

 

So know that the brief stressed-out rush you get before a presentation at work will help you perform better, and when the car breaks down, a little stress will help you fix the situation quickly. Balance is key, though, so it’s important to recharge your batteries every day so those once-in-awhile stressed moments don’t turn into a constant thing, says Dr. Orloff. Her suggestions: Spend five minutes every day doing an activity or hobby you love, or if you prefer peace and quiet, sit in a dark room and breathe deeply. 

You skip your workout two days in a row

 

WHY IT’S NOT SO BAD

 

You don’t have to exercise hard every day to be healthy (and taking a break is actually better). “Three to four days a week is enough to keep you in shape,” says Mike Boyle, owner of Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning gym in Boston. Here’s why: Days off give muscles time to repair and strengthen, something that happens only with rest, he says. You may also get tired of-or start to dread-a strict routine.

 

It’s a good idea to be active every day (whether that’s walking with your friends at lunch or taking your dog out for a stroll around the block when you get home in the evening), but schedule tougher workouts for just a few days a week. At least two of those should be strength workouts with weights, which will deliver the biggest toning and fat-burning benefits, says Boyle.


You procrastinate by reading those forwarded jokes in your inbox

 

WHY IT’S NOT SO BAD

 

It may seem like a waste of time, but taking a break to do something that makes you laugh is worth it. A small study of 30 people from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore found that when people watched a funny movie (There’s Something About Mary), the lining of their blood vessels expanded up to 50% more than when they watched a stressful movie (Saving Private Ryan). Here’s why a hearty chuckle is so good for you: “Laughter activates blood vessels to release the chemical nitric oxide, which causes them to enlarge and can help reduce blood pressure,” says coauthor Michael Miller, MD. Photo by iStock

 

The harder you laugh, the bigger the benefits-deep belly laughs, not light chuckles, are more likely to trigger the healthy chemicals. And be sure to share that laugh with friends. Social laughter boosts levels of pain-relieving, feel-good endorphins, according to research from the University of Oxford. So watch a funny YouTube clip with your kids or call a friend and watch while on the phone together. 

You take an over-the-counter sleep aid occasionally

 

WHY IT’S NOT SO BAD

 

Taking these pills to induce sleep every once in a while is OK. They can be especially useful if you have trouble sleeping due to nasal allergies or congestion, says Ronald Popper, MD, medical director of the Southern California Pulmonary and Sleep Disorders Medical Center. Why? Many OTC options (like Unisom SleepTabs) work because of a side effect of an antihistamine, a common active ingredient that also helps relieve allergies. But most sleep specialists don’t recommend that you use them daily. All you’re doing is taking advantage of the side effect (sleepiness) of antihistamines, which are intended for another use (reducing allergy symptoms). By contrast, a prescription sleep aid acts on the “sleep center” of your brain to induce sleep, says Dr. Popper. Photo by iStock

 

If stuffed-up nasal passages are what’s keeping you up at night, OTC sleep aids may be a good solution. Talk to your doctor or a sleep expert before you start taking anything-antihistamines can cause other side effects because they affect the whole body and the longer you take them, the less likely they are to make you sleepy because your body builds up tolerance to their effect fast.
Get more sleep with these 10 natural remedies.

10 New Weight Loss Myths and Facts

By The chicks at TotalBeauty.com

Even though we all know that the best way to stay healthy and physically fit is to eat well-rounded, nutritionally sound meals and exercise for at least 20 minutes a day, it’s human nature to seek out better, “cutting-edge,” get-thin-quick fads and glom onto them like they’re gospel. Don’t eat after 8 p.m.? You got it. Wash down an acai berry with fish oil? Sign me up.

But what if those new fangled discoveries and quick fixes were steeped in misinformation and could actually be making you gain weight or harm your health? Oh, no thank you very much.

 


Related10 Ways to Lose 5 Pounds by This Weekend

 

In an effort to clear the air and get back to solid basics, we decided to tackle the most prevalent weight loss “facts” out there and reveal them as the myths they are. See the 10 biggest weight loss myths and facts now.

 

 

 

ONE: EATING AFTER 8 PM IS A DIET DON’T

 

Myth or Fact: Myth
It’s not when you eat, it’s what (and how much) you eat. The reason some diets suggest you close the kitchen after enjoying the early-bird special is that people have a tendency to overeat at night, especially if they have skipped a meal during the day. “If you are finding yourself bingeing at night, chances are you are not eating anywhere near enough good calories during the day,” says fitness and lifestyle consultant, Ashley Borden. Want to know what you can eat after 8? Click here.

 

 

 

TWO: A CALORIE IS A CALORIE IS A CALORIE

 

Myth or Fact: Myth
You gain weight when you consume more calories than your body burns. And yet, not all calories are the same. It’s really the good carb/bad carb distinction. “Bad carbohydrates (refined simple sugars) are rapidly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream,” celebrity nutritionist Paula Simpson explains. “If there is a high concentration of blood sugars (hyperglycemia), then [the excess sugars] can be stored as fat.” The fiber in good carbohydrates helps slow down the rate of digestion, controlling blood sugar levels, which results in a longer window of time during which the body can burn the calories from those good carbohydrates before the excess is stored as fat. What are the good carbohydrates? Click here to find out.

 

THREE: DRINKING BROTH-BASED SOUPS BEFORE YOU EAT CAN HELP YOU FEEL MORE FULL AND, THUS, EAT LESS

 

Myth or Fact: Fact
A study conducted at Penn State University demonstrated that eating foods with a high water content increases one’s sense of fullness. Interestingly, drinking water on its own has not been shown to have the same impact. Evidently, water is emptied out of your stomach more quickly than water incorporated into foods you eat, so it doesn’t trigger any of the body cues that tell your brain you are full.

 

 

 

FOUR: IF YOU ARE ON A DIET YOU SHOULD AVOID RED MEAT AT ALL COSTS

 

Myth or Fact: Myth
You don’t have to swear off red meat. Red meat, in moderation, is a great source of protein and iron. 

Which kind of red meats should you order? Click here.

 


 

 

FIVE: ALL GRAMS ARE CREATED EQUAL

 

Myth or Fact: Myth
Remember the old riddle: What weighs more — 100 lbs of brick or 100 lbs of feathers? They, of course, weigh the same, but the size of the feather pile would be much bigger than the stack of bricks. That analogy kind of helps when you think of grams of food: a gram of protein has four calories; a gram of carbohydrates also has four calories; but a gram of fat has nine calories. The difference in calories per gram is the reason why one food may have way more calories than an identical serving size of another. It’s also the reason for the proliferation of low-fat and fat-free products. Limiting the number of grams of fat you consume each day makes it easier to stay in your caloric budget (and your skinny jeans).

 

 

 

SIX: OVER-THE-COUNTER WEIGHT LOSS PRODUCTS THAT ARE LABELED “NATURAL” OR “HERBAL” ARE SAFE AND EFFECTIVE

 

Myth or Fact: Myth
This was a gimme, right? Ephedra ring any bells? Just because you can buy something in a health food store doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Unless and until a product’s claims have been evaluated by the FDA, you should be skeptical. And, in any event, it’s worth consulting a physician before taking any drugs. Not all diet pills are unsafe. See which ones help block fat absorption and are FDA-approved here.

 

SEVEN: YOUR BODY HAS A BIOLOGICALLY PRE-DETERMINED SET WEIGHT AND ALL ATTEMPTS TO CHANGE IT WILL FAIL

 

Myth or fact: Myth
Blaming your grandparents for the yo-yo-ing you see on the scale isn’t going to fly. “While our genetic heritage does play a role in our body composition,” Simpson explains, “we can still have control … by leading an active lifestyle and eating well.” And if you’re pre-disposed to be skinny (lucky bee-och — er — duck?), you still ought to be eating right and exercising — for your health. 
The key to losing weight after you’ve hit a plateau: click here.

 

 

 

EIGHT: IF YOU’RE NOT SWEATING WHILE WORKING OUT, YOU’RE NOT WORKING HARD ENOUGH

 

Myth or fact: Myth
There is zero correlation between perspiration and weight loss. The only thing sweat signifies is that the body is working to cool itself off. Everyone sweats differently. And, anyway, it is not clear that working out for a shorter period at a higher intensity is better than working out for a longer duration at a lower intensity. 
In terms of weight loss, what works best for your lifestyle and your schedule is what is going to work best — because you’ll stick with it. Your muscles will continue to burn calories after both aerobic and anaerobic exercise.


 

NINE: YOU SHOULD WAIT UNTIL YOU ARE HUNGRY TO EAT

 

Myth or fact: Myth
People who skip meals or eat erratically have a tendency to overeat to make up for the food they missed. And eating too few calories actually triggers your body to hold on to fat and burn fewer calories. “Hunger is a great indication that your metabolism is turned on,” says Borden. “If your metabolism is turned on, you should feel hunger every three to four hours.” Bottom line: Being hungry is a good sign, it means that your body’s working the way it’s supposed to, to burn off calories and keep running smoothly. On the other hand, starving yourself to the point where your body thinks it needs to conserve calories for the long haul is both unhealthy andworks against your weight loss goal. So don’t be afraid to eat when you’re hungry — just make wise choices.

 
TEN: THERE IS NO MIRACLE FAT-BURNING FOOD

 

Myth or fact: Fact
Not mustard, not grapefruit, not green tea, not celery. No food is going to do the work for you. While there are foods that might temporarily speed up your metabolism, it won’t be in any sustained way that will impact weight loss. Simpson points out that “much of the data to support these claims stem from nutraceutical research or studies [where] people ingested very large quantities of the particular food or natural health supplements for an extended period of time.” And don’t try replicating those studies at home. Simpson warns that consuming large quantities of certain foods may offset the body’s balance to digest, absorb or neutralize byproducts or toxins in the body. “For example, even though grapefruit has some benefits, it may also affect the way the body absorbs, processes and eliminates certain prescription drugs.”

 

7 Ways Exercise Can Improve Your Sex Life

By Emily G. W. Chau

 

If you want to turn up the heat in the bedroom, it can be as simple as lacing up your sneaks. After all, staying in shape doesn’t just help you look good—it can enhance your sex life, too.

“Physical fitness absolutely affects the physical intensity and quality of sex,” says Sara Nasserzadeh, PhD, co-author of The Orgasm Answer Guide. “Sex is a kind of exercise itself.” (Search: How many calories do you burn having sex?) Research shows that exercise can boost your testosterone levels, increase blood flow “down there,” and even improve your orgasms. Here, we get down and dirty and share seven ways that your workout could pay off between the sheets. Who knew that getting sweaty could be so sexy?

 

It just makes sense: The more you exercise, the healthier your arteries—including the ones that go between your legs. A cardio routine to get the blood pumping) Exercise increases the flexibility of your arteries, so it’s easier for them to expand and get blood coursing through your veins. And for men, the better your blood flow, the stronger your erection.

But it’s not just men who benefit. University of Texas at Austin researchers had 35 women come in on two separate occasions to watch a brief travel film followed by an erotic video; before one session, the women cycled for 20 minutes. Using a device that measures blood flow to the vagina, the researchers found that women were 169% more aroused while watching the X-rated film after a sweat session.

It Boosts Testosterone

Pumping iron can help pump up your levels of the sex hormone testosterone, too. A Baylor University study found that men’s testosterone levels were highest during the 48 hours after they lifted weights.

In general, staying fit can help keep your testosterone levels from plummeting. A study conducted by the New England Research Institutes documented that a man’s waist size correlates with his testosterone levels. They found that a waist circumference larger than 41 inches was a better predictor of low testosterone levels than overall weight.

It Makes You More Reliable

Before you hit the Viagra, try hitting the gym instead. Studies show that exercise can cause men to have sex more often, and it can make them more reliable, too. In large study of 31,000 men, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that those who exercised vigorously for 20 to 30 minutes a day were 30% less likely to report having erectile dysfunction than were couch potatoes.

50 Simple Ways to Help Your Heart

It’s never too late to start reaping the benefits of exercise. University of California, San Diego researchers tasked a group of sedentary but otherwise healthy middle-aged men to hit the gym for an hour, three to four times a week. After sticking to the exercise program for nine months, the men reported that sex was more frequent, more reliable, and more satisfying.

It Improves Your Stamina

To put it bluntly: Men, the better shape you’re in, the longer you’ll last in bed. “In most sex positions, the man needs to push, so he needs to have strong back muscles,” says Nasserzadeh. Plus, when you’re fit, your ejaculation lasts longer, and loose abdominal muscles or weak PC muscles might affect the angle or erection, she adds.

It Improves Flexibility

While trying out new sex positions might require some imagination, seeing how you can pull a muscle in the process doesn’t. “If you’re not flexible enough, you can’t strain yourself to do things when you’re exploring and becoming more adventurous in bed,” says Nasserzadeh.

If you want to get a little kinky beneath the sheets, lengthening and strengthening exercises (no pun intended!) can help you contort your body. To keep your muscles limber, yoga and Pilates are excellent options.

It Gets You in the Mood

Whether they’re worrying about their children or making a checklist for the next day, women are particularly prone to a mind that wanders during sex. And since, for women, emotions play such a large part in getting turned on, drifting thoughts can lower sexual satisfaction. Luckily, exercising can help you get more in tune with your body and emotion in the moment. “Yoga and breathing exercises can teach you to how to cut out external distractions so you can concentrate in the moment,” says Nasserzadeh.

  • It Boosts Blood Flow


  • It Boosts Testosterone


  • It Makes You More Reliable


  • It Improves Your Stamina


  • It Improves Flexibility


  • It Gets You in the Mood

    It Makes You Feel Hot

    Exercise makes you look good and feel good—and that confidence carries over to the bedroom. University of Arkansas researchers surveyed 450 college students and found that people who were physically fit also saw themselves as hotter commodities and better in the sack. More than 90% of men who said they had a much-above-average fitness level also ranked their sexual desirability and performance as above average or much above average. Among women, 80% of those who worked out four to five days a week rated their bedroom antics as above average, and 60% of them thought of themselves as above average on an attractiveness scale.

Mood Boosting Foods!

By David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding

Like most kids growing up in single-parent households, I had a lot of unstructured time in which to get into trouble. And my kind of trouble was junk food.

I didn’t pull fire alarm bells, I pulled Taco Bells. I didn’t run with the juvies, I ran with the Friendly’s. Burger King was my gang leader, and Pizza Hut was my hangout. But running with this dangerous crowd not only turned me into a fat kid, it turned me into a depressed kid as well.

Turns out my fast-food diet, with all those processed chemicals and hardly any nutrients, was throwing off my body’s feel-good chemistry. Drew Ramsey, M.D., co-author of The Happiness Diet, says that eating the wrong foods can add to our daily stress and make us feel anxious, lethargic, and downright grouchy.

What’s worse, a diet that deprives our brains of much-needed “happy” nutrients also makes us fat. When you’re stressed out, you’re more likely to reach for high-calorie junk foods that pack on the pounds, fueling a never-ending unhappiness cycle that goes like this: You eat bad, then you feel bad, so you eat worse, and then you feel—you guessed it—even worse.

But, Dr. Ramsey says, there’s an easy, drug-free way to boost your spirits and shrink your belly: brain food. Yep, feeding your brain with the right nutrients—found in the 11 simple foods below—is all you need to do to improve your mood, boost your energy, and keep your hands out of the chip bag for good.

And for more simple secrets that will keep you looking and feeling your best all year long,  follow me right here on Twitter or sign up for our FREE Eat This, Not That! daily newsletter. You’ll learn how to lose weight without ever dieting again.

 

Mood-Boosting Food #1: Mussels

Mussels are loaded with some of the highest naturally occurring levels of vitamin B12 on the planet—a nutrient that most of us are lacking. So what’s B12′s mood-saving trick? It helps insulate your brain cells, keeping your brain sharp as you age. Mussels also contain the trace nutrients zinc, iodine, and selenium, which keep your mood-regulating thyroid on track. Another benefit? Mussels are high in protein and low in fat and calories, making them one of the healthiest, most nutrient-dense seafood options you’ll find. (Tip: For mussels that are good for your body and the environment, look for farmed—not wild—options raised in the good ol’ USA.)

Mood-Boosting Food #2: Swiss Chard

This leafy green is packed with magnesium—a nutrient essential for the biochemical reactions in the brain that increase your energy levels. A 2009 study in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry also found that higher magnesium intake was associated with lower depression scores. And Swiss chard isn’t the only way to get your magnesium hit. Spinach, soybeans, and halibut also contain healthy doses of the energy-enhancing nutrient.

Mood-Boosting Food #3: Blue Potatoes

Blue potatoes aren’t a common supermarket find, but they’re worth looking out for on your next trip to the farmer’s market. Blue spuds get their color from anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that provide neuro-protective benefits like bolstering short-term memory and reducing mood-killing inflammation. Their skins are also loaded with iodine, an essential nutrient that helps regulate your thyroid. Other awesome anthocyanin-rich foods: berries, eggplant, and black beans.

Mood-Boosting Food #4: Grass-Fed Beef

Animals raised on grass pastures boast much higher levels of healthy conjugated linoleic acid (or CLA), a “happy” fat that combats stress hormones and blasts belly fat. Grass-fed beef also has a lower overall fat count and contains higher levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids compared to grain-feed beef. Another great grass-fed option: lamb. It’s packed with iron, a nutrient vital for a stable mood (the areas of the brain related to mood and memory contain the highest iron concentrations). For easy “happy fat” recipes, check out these 4 Simple Mood-Boosting Meals.

Mood-Boosting Food #5: Dark Chocolate

Turns out chocolate’s delicious taste isn’t the only reason it makes you feel so warm and fuzzy. The cocoa treat also gives you an instant boost in mood and concentration, and improves blood flow to your brain, helping you feel more vibrant and energized. But sorry, Snickers bars don’t count. Cocoa is the chocolate ingredient that does your body good, so pure dark chocolate is your best bet if you want the mood-boosting benefits minus the extra belly flab. And don’t overdo it: A recent study published in theJournal of Psychopharmacology found that a few ounces of dark chocolate a day is all you need to reap the benefits.

Mood-Boosting Food #6: Greek Yogurt

This dairy pick is packed with more calcium than you’ll find in milk or regular yogurt, which is good news for your mood. Calcium gives your body the “Go!” command, alerting your brain to release feel-good neurotransmitters. As a result, inadequate calcium intake can lead to anxiety, depression, irritability, impaired memory, and slow thinking. Greek yogurt also contains more protein than regular yogurt, making it a terrific stay-slim snack. Our Greek-yogurt pick: Fage Total 2%, which packs an impressive 10 grams of protein per serving.

Mood-Boosting Food #7: Asparagus

Your mom was on to something when she made you finish those green spears at the dinner table. This vegetable is one of the top plant-based sources of tryptophan, which serves as a basis for the creation of serotonin—one of the brain’s primary mood-regulating neurotransmitters. Asparagus also boasts high levels of folate, a nutrient that may fight depression (research shows that up to 50 percent of people with depression suffer from low folate levels). Some other terrific sources of tryptophan: turkey, tuna, and eggs.

Mood-Boosting Food #8: Honey

Honey, unlike table sugar, is packed with beneficial compounds like quercetin and kaempferol that reduce inflammation, keeping your brain healthy and warding off depression. Honey also has a less dramatic impact on your blood-sugar levels than regular sugar, so it won’t send your body into fat-storage mode the way the white stuff can. Try adding some honey to your afternoon tea or morning bowl of oatmeal, but don’t go overboard; the sweet nectar has 17 g of sugar and 64 calories per tablespoon, so too much honey can make you heavy, rather than happy.

Mood-Boosting Food #9: Cherry Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, an antioxidant that protects your brain and fights depression-causing inflammation. And because lycopene lives in tomato skins, you’ll get more of the stuff if you throw a handful of cherry tomatoes into your next salad instead of slicing up one full-size tomato. Or enjoy them on their own with a little olive oil, which has been shown to increase lycopene absorption. And try to go organic whenever possible: Researchers at the University of California-Davis found that organic tomatoes have higher lycopene levels.

MOOD-BOOSTING RESTAURANT MEALS: Not all delicious-sounding restaurant dishes will set you back in your quest for health and happiness. Find out which meals ended up on our list of 20 Shockingly Healthy Restaurant Foods.

Mood-Boosting Food #10: Eggs

Eggs are loaded with mood-promoting omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, B vitamins, and iodide, and because they’re packed with protein, they’ll also keep you full and energized long after you eat them. Need another reason to crack some shells in the morning? A 2008 study in the International Journal of Obesity found that people who ate two eggs for breakfast lost significantly more weight than those who ate a bagel breakfast. (Tip: Don’t buy into unregulated supermarket-egg claims like “omega-3 enriched” or “free-range.” If you’re looking for the most natural eggs, hit up a local farmer.)

Mood-Boosting Food #11: Coconut

Coconut is chock-full of medium-chain triglycerides, fats that keep your brain healthy and fuel better moods. And although coconut is commonly found in high-calorie desserts, you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) stuff your face with macaroons to get your fix. My suggestion: Try throwing some unsweetened coconut shavings in your oatmeal or yogurt, or toss some in your next healthy smoothie for a flavor boost that will keep you smiling and skinny.

For more foods that can improve your mood—and strengthen your heart, and fortify your bones, and boost your metabolism—check out these 40 Foods with Superpowers.

Fast-food tips and healthier picks!

No matter how healthy we try to be, there will always be times — at the airport, on road trips — when we have no choice but to take advantage of the inexpensive convenience of fast food.

“The minute you opt for fast food, you’re vulnerable,” says Lisa Gosselin, Editor-in-Chief of Eating Well Magazine. “You’re generally hungry, you’re pressed for time and you walk into this environment where everything is trying to make you eat and spend more money.”

 

While the big chains have enhanced the quality of their menus, it’s hard to really know which items are really healthy. It’s only until the end of the year when the FDA will require all major food outlets to post caloric values on all menu items.

 

In the meantime, here are some fast-food tips and healthier picks at the top chains to help you get the healthiest bang for your buck.

Taco Bell: Order tacos “al fresco.” They’ll skip the cheese and sauce and give you a fresh tomato, onion and cilantro salsa on it, instead.

Burger King: The Whopper Junior has 360 calories compared to the 670 calories and 40 grams of fat of the Regular Whopper.

Wendy’s: Opt for the small chili at just 210 calories. The sour cream and chives potato is a healthier option than their burgers.

Subway: Split a sandwich with a friend. Or if you go for the 6-inch veggie delight sandwich — with just 230 calories – have it all to yourself. It also costs less than $4.

McDonald’s: Rather than a Grilled Chicken Sandwich, choose the smaller honey mustard-flavored Grilled Chicken Snack Wrap. It’s just 250 calories and 8 grams of fat. Pair that with the snack size Fruit and Walnut Salad, and a bottle of water and you have a meal for less than $4.

Here are some good tips to follow no matter where you stop:

 

Plan Ahead
It pays to be organized. “If you’re going on a two-and-a-half hour drive, you can guess where you’re going to want to stop,” says Gosselin. She suggests checking online menus of any of the fast-food chains along your drive. “Many have nutrition and calorie counters…to help you avoid last minute temptation.”

 

Be Cautious With Salad
One trap is assuming salad is the healthier — or cheapest — option. Toppings are where the calories and fat hide so instead, opt for flavorful ingredients like grilled chicken, but skip the dressing and croutons.

 

Choose Foods With “Staying Power”
Foods with the similar caloric values don’t necessarily keep you full for equal lengths of time. They may not be equally healthy, either. “If you’re choosing between an Egg McMuffin and oatmeal [at McDonalds], they may have around the same number of calories, but the oatmeal is going to give you a lot of healthy fiber and it’s going to be much lower in saturated fat,” says Gosselin.

Choosing foods high in protein will also keep you full longer. Experts say, go ahead and order that double burger once in a while. Just skip the cheese and mayo. Scooping out some of the bun can also shed another 200 calories from the sandwich.

 

Save With Kids’ Portions

 

Remember: Adults aren’t restricted from ordering Happy Meals. “One of my favorite strategies is to order from the children’s menu,” says Gosselin. “For instance McDonald’s Happy Meal now has apple slices, a smaller portion of fries and low fat milk. It’s an economical choice and you can give the toy to a kid.”

 

Watch For Sodium

 

Always watch out for high levels of sodium when eating out. “Some entrees have as much as 900mg to 100mg of sodium and that’s almost half as much as you should be eating all day,” says Gosselin.

 

By Farnoosh Torabi

What are your Money-Saving Fast Food strategies? Get in touch on Twitter @Farnoosh, using the hash tag #FinFit.