Category Archives: Health

Weight loss story tips

Are you stuck in a weight-loss rut, unsure which diet will help you shed that excess flab? Ah, if only we could train our bodies to burn more calories in less time. Wait a minute – our bodies can perform this diet-bending feat! Joel Marion, fitness coach and author of The Cheat to Lose Diet(Crown), shares two types of workouts that will kick your metabolism into overdrive. The secret lies in the after-burn, says Marion. All it takes is the right combination of exercises at varying levels of intensity…

When it comes to fat loss, research shows that metabolic resistance training is moreeffective in burning calories than aerobic exercise. Not sure what metabolic resistance training is? It’s a vigorous weight-lifting session that targets multiple muscle groups with only short rest periods between sets and exercises.

This type of training results in an “after-burn,” an increased metabolic rate that persists for hours after the training session ends.

So how does this happen? Well, the combination of intense weight training and short recovery periods disturbs the body’s metabolism – something that won’t occur with moderate aerobic exercise.

One study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology noted increased metabolism for 38 hours post exercise; other studies reported similar findings. That means if you’re sitting on the couch watching TV a day later, you’re still burning calories from the weight-training session you did the day before.

Achieve the after-burn with strength training
Instead of pedaling through a steady, one-hour cardio workout on the stationary bike, try a half hour of circuit-style (mixed intensity) weight training instead. Use a light to moderate weight, keep your rest periods short and most importantly, enjoy the after-burn!

Below, I’ve provided a special full-body weight-training circuit that’s perfect for exercisers of all levels, including beginners, because it uses a light to moderate weight. The principles of the workout are simple:

First, choose three exercises: one upper body push, one upper body pull and one lower body exercise. Pushing exercises are those in which you push, such as a shoulder press or a chest press. Pulling exercises entail pulling movements, for example lat pull-downs or seated rows.

Next, select a weight that you can handle for 15 to 25 repetitions for each exercise. Be careful not to choose a weight that is too light to be challenging or so heavy you are unable to do the prescribed number of repetitions.

To start, do each exercise, one after the other, for 15 minutes, resting as needed. As you tire, you may start doing fewer repetitions – that’s fine. This workout is more about burning calories and fat, rather than building lean muscle.

Startled Awake

Have you ever found that right at the beginning of what is promising to be some good shut eye you are startled awake for no apparent reason? This is not unusual. Sleep has five stages. During the first stage, which is very light sleep, you can be easily awakened.

First Phase of Sleep

  • In the first phase of sleep, people sometimes experience the sensation of starting to fall and hypnic myoclonia, which is an abrupt muscle contraction. Consequently, you may jump and awaken. This is comparable to being startled while awake and jumping in response.


  • When you are startled, especially while sleeping, you will experience the fight or flight response, which makes you breathe faster and your heart beat more quickly. You have this reaction for a reason: to prepare you either to fight or flee. Your body’s response is to increase the rate of blood that is pumped to both your brain and your muscles. Your lungs take in big gulps of oxygen, and your pupils enlarge so that you can see better. When this happens, both your urinary and digestive systems slow down, so that you can concentrate. Of course, when you are startled awake at night, it generally isn’t due to a prowler in your room or a wild animal trying to attack you, but your brain and body don’t know that and automatically go into survival mode.

Lucid Dreaming

  • You may also be startled awake when you realize you are dreaming, that is, when you experience a lucid dream. Lucid dreams tend to be intense and realistic.

Deep Sleep

  • If you are startled awake during stage four sleep, which is deep sleep, you will feel disoriented and groggy. Becoming fully awake will take a few minutes, perhaps more.

Why you can not sleep at night

There’s nothing worse than crawling into bed feeling so tired you swear you could sleep for a decade, only to find yourself physically unable to fall asleep. All day long, you looked forward to the moment you could head home and go to sleep, and now that you’re finally in bed with the lights off, you somehow can’t? Life can be so very cruel.

But here at Byrdie, we’re in the business of helping you learn how to live your healthiest, most beautiful life, and that includes falling asleep at a reasonable hour. We’re just as committed as you are to finding out why in the world you can’t fall asleep, so we got in touch with three top sleep experts to learn 10 common but little-known factors contributing to your insomnia. Meet the three people here to help you get some shut-eye: Rebecca Robbins, Ph.D.; Rachel Wong, OSO sleep research expert; and Anna Persaud, Ph.D. and CEO of This Works. Keep reading to learn the most likely but often overlooked reasons you can’t fall asleep.

Dangerous food that you need to avoid it

images-19When trying to eat healthy, there are some obvious no-nos we avoid. Categories like junk food, fast food, and candy are no-brainers to steer clear of, but even when we cut them out from our diets, harmful ingredients can still enter our bodies through foods we don’t necessarily consider unhealthy.

Eat This, Not That rounded up a list of the 50 unhealthiest foods, and a good number of them are surprising. You’ll be surprised by just how many of the foods we consume daily make the list for reasons much more serious than extra sugars and carbohydrates. Some of our everyday foods are loaded with harmful ingredients, chemicals, and additives. Here are five of the most surprising unhealthy foods that made the list.

Coffee creamer: The product you use every morning is actually scary stuff. Coffee creamer contains titanium dioxide, the same ultraviolet radiation blocker that’s in sunscreen. Studies surrounding the additive prove it causes liver and tissue damage in mice and has negative health implications for humans. Furthermore, most grocery store creamers are also packed with trans fats associated with diminished memory in adults under 45.

Fruit juice: While many of us were raised on it and still see it as a relatively natural option when it comes to beverages in a market saturated with sodas and energy drinks, it turns out that fruit juice should actually be avoided. Even 100% natural fruit juice contains up to 36 grams of sugar per cup (equal to four Krispy Kreme doughnuts, to put things in perspective). To make matters worse, fruit juice contains fructose, which is associated with the development of visceral adipose tissue, or belly fat.

Microwave popcorn: Though popcorn is often touted as a “healthy” snack option, microwave popcorn is best avoided. Many of the go-to brands for the microwave variety use heart-harming trans fats and diacetyl (DA), a chemical that breaks down the cells that protect our brains. Furthermore, the bags are often lined with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), the same toxic material found in Teflon. So stick to air-pop kernels the next time you curl up for a movie night.

Salad dressing: While salads are a popular “healthy” meal option, what’s lurking in the dressing may negate it all. The thickening agent sodium carboxymethyl cellulose used in salad dressings can cause cancer. Next time, top off your salad with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, or lemon juice to avoid this dangerous chemical.

Restaurant desserts: We’re not surprised this one made the list, but we are surprised as to why. It’s not just the sugar, calories, and fat in outrageously proportioned restaurant desserts that make them dangerous—but also their sodium. Yes, restaurant desserts with calorie counts up in the thousands also boast alarming amounts of sodium, which increases blood pressure as well as your risk of stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.


Your immune system’s not a muscle, but you should treat it like one. The same things you focus on when it comes to bulking up, like diet, exercise, and sleep, also play a big role in fending off colds and the flu. But, unlike the radical diet you might adopt to help speed up the six-pack process, the trick to using food to keep your immune system strong is balance, says Heidi Skolnik, a sports nutritionist and author of Nutrient Timing for Peak Performance.

While restrictive, evolution-inspired eating plans, like intermittent fasting, may help you bulk up or trim down, if your goal is to not get sick, you’ll benefit from eating regular meals throughout the day and including plenty of nutrients in those meals, says Skolnik, who works with New York-based sports teams such as the Giants, Knicks, and Mets. Why? Immune-boosting vitamins, like C and B6, don’t hang around in the body for very long.

“The vitamin C you have in the morning isn’t there for your body to use at night,” says Skolnik. “It’s water-soluble, so you need it throughout the day.”

So, this means chew on vitamin C tablets all day, right? Actually, there’s no real proof that swallowing supplements all winter will keep you cold-free, so working C-rich foods in at every meal is a better bet. But you don’t need to gulp glasses of orange juice around the clock. Instead, swap OJ into easy recipes at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Here’s how to do it.

7 Sneaky Ways to Get More Vitamin C:

1. Black Beans: Simmer black beans in orange juice for a zesty punch of flavor. Vitamin C may help increase the absorption of iron from the beans, says Skolnik.
2. Vegetables: Sauté vegetables with a splash of orange juice instead of butter to cut down on saturated fat.
3. Rice: Use orange juice instead of water when preparing rice or other grains.
4. Dip: Skip ranch or sour cream varieties and mix orange juice with plain yogurt instead.
5. Salad Dressing: For a no-fuss salad dressing, fill a mason jar one-third with orange juice, then add balsamic vinegar until the jar is half-full. Add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard and a teaspoon of honey and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
6. Garnish: Try blending avocado, sea salt, orange juice and olive oil for a tasty topping for broiled or grilled fish.
7. Low-Fat Float: Mix orange juice with seltzer, and then add a scoop of low-fat frozen yogurt for a twist on an old-fashioned dessert.

Perfect body tips

The twin goals of building muscle and burning fat are usually tied to workout routines. After all, what you do in the gym or outdoors goes a long way toward transforming your body into a lean, fat-burning machine.

But training regimens usually account for two hours or less of your 24-hour day. What you do during the other 22-plus hours has as much if not more impact. Here are seven ways to build muscle and burn fat—inside and outside the gym.

Pete Williams is a NASM certified personal trainer and the author or co-author of a number of books on performance and training.

Don’t be the person in the gym who checks your phone between every set, breaking any intensity you could have established. Instead, work in a focused, continuous manner that stimulates muscle growth and fat burning. Leave the phone at home or in a locker. Instead of resting between three sets of the same exercise, consider alternating an upper body pull (such as pull-ups) with an upper body push (push-ups) or a lower-body push (squats).  That way you keep yourself moving. There’s a reason CrossFit’s philosophy of performing AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of a workout circuit in the allotted time is so challenging—and effective.


Eating small meals more often regulates blood sugar, promotes muscle mass, and eliminates mood swings and overeating. The key is to plan ahead to make sure you have something healthy on hand at work or on-the-go so that you’re fueled every three hours. Ideally every meal will have a combination of carbs, protein, and fat. But if you’re on the go, at least aim for something healthy such as nuts, seeds, dried fruit, energy bars, or a ready-to-drink protein beverage.

Serious new risk of birth control risk

Since the 1960s, many women in the United States admitted they were not ready for a baby. These women were given the option to take birth control to prevent the unwanted pregnancy.

While family planning has helped women’s progress by leaps and bounds, some methods do come with health risks.

Women have reported feeling depressed while taking oral contraceptives, but finally, a scientific study published in the Journal of The American Medical Association has proven what many have been saying for years.

Researchers from the University of Copenahgen studied the medical records of more than one million women between ages of 15 and 34 years old. These studies showed those taking combination birth control pill were 23 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression.

Women who were prescribed a progesterone only pill were shown to be 34 percent more likely to suffer from depression.

Teenagers have the biggest depression risk. The study showed women between 15 and 19 on the pill were 80 percent more likely to have depression.

Weight gain and mood swings have been listed as possible side effects of the pill. However, this is the first study to officially correlate clinical depression with oral contraceptive use.

Align the Neck Tips

The human head weighs anywhere between 10 to 14 pounds. Since the neck is responsible for keeping the head up, it is important to keep it aligned. A misaligned neck will cause unwanted weight and tension on neck muscles, causing extreme pain in some cases. If you would like to align your neck at home and avoid a trip to the chiropractor, there are a few things to keep in mind.

    • Align your neck by bringing the front of your rib cage up. This will bring your head back over your shoulders to the correct position.
    • Buy a pillow that aligns your neck while you sleep. Many people lay on their neck the wrong way because of their pillow; or they watch television before falling asleep. The neck pillow is designed for back and side sleeping.
    • Perform a simple yoga technique at your desk, if you are crunched for time. Align your neck above your shoulders while sitting in a chair. Inhale, and while you breathe out, bring your ear down to your shoulder. Inhale and exhale several times, before repeating the stretch with the opposite ear and shoulder.
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  • Lay down on the floor and perform chin tucks, to aid in the alignment of your neck. Place a rolled towel under your neck. Bend your knees and keep your arms at your side. Lower your chin towards your chest and hold it there for a count of five. Release the stretch and repeat ten times.
  • Attend a pilates or yoga class, or ask an instructor for one-on-one personal training. You can easily find an instructor by using a yoga search site.

Gluten Allergy Tips

So, you’re feeling tired and headachy, and your digestive system is off (and has been for what seems like forever). Maybe you have some other symptoms: a rash, dandruff, a feeling that you’re operating in a depressed and disorganized manner, or are just in a fog. And maybe you’ve been trying to get pregnant, but it’s not working …and you have no idea why.

You’ve heard about gluten and know that lots of people are going gluten-free, and you start to wonder: Could I have a gluten allergy, too?

Well, maybe. There are actually five different kinds of gluten allergies, and each has its own set of signs and symptoms. Still, there’s plenty of overlap between these five conditions, and many of their symptoms involve the types of sometimes vague problems listed above: digestive issues, skin issues, and neurological issues.

Of course, not everyone with these symptoms will have a gluten allergy — there are plenty of other possible causes for each. But the possibility is worth considering if you and your physician can’t identify other potential reasons for your problems. Suffering from one or more of these nine signs could indicate that you may have a gluten allergy and should have some testing done, or that you should talk to your doctor about a trial of the gluten-free diet.

2 Dysfunctional Digestion

Woman asleep on couch with hot water bottle
Westend61/Getty Images
Not everyone with a gluten-related issue suffers from digestive problems, but enough people do have this issue to make it number one on our list.

These “problems” can involve diarrhea, constipation, reflux, or simply abdominal pain, and they’re frequently seen when you have one of the two most common types of gluten allergy: celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

In some cases, people who’ve been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome actually have a form of gluten allergy, and when they stop eating gluten, their IBS diminishes or goes away entirely.

Do you need to have digestive symptoms to have a gluten allergy? Nope, not at all — in fact, lots of people have one of the other issues on our list as their primary symptom, and report having cast iron stomachs. But if you do have dysfunctional digestion, it’s possible that gluten is the cause.

Learn more about potential digestive symptoms:

Gluten vs. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Can Celiac Disease Cause Reflux Symptoms?
Celiac Disease and Constipation
Can You Have Celiac Disease Without Diarrhea?

3 Intractable Dandruff

Getty Images/The Power of Forever Photography
Do you methodically avoid dark tops? Is your go-to shampoo Head & Shoulders (or something medicated and smelly that contains coal tar)? You probably think you have a dandruff problem, but you may in fact have a gluten allergy problem instead.

Most common dandruff is (also known as seborrheic dermatitis) actually a form of eczema, a skin condition that’s been linked to celiac disease (one of our five different types of gluten allergy).

There’s less research available to confirm a link between gluten sensitivity (another type of gluten allergy) and eczema, but anecdotal evidence indicates there may be one as well.

Finally, at least one study has linked chronic eczema (on your scalp or elsewhere) with wheat allergy, yet a third form of gluten allergy.

Not all dandruff stems from seborrheic dermatitis/eczema — some cases actually involve psoriasis, an autoimmune condition that also shares connections with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. Psoriasis on your scalp looks very much like seborrheic dermatitis, but if you have psoriasis, you’ll probably also have it elsewhere on your body, too.

Still, regardless of the specific condition involved, many people who go gluten-free to help digestive or other issues actually find their dandruff subsiding — a welcome bonus if you’ve suffered with those unsightly white flakes for most of your life.

Learn more about dandruff and other skin conditions:

Can Eating Gluten-Free Help with Your Eczema Treatment?
Can Gluten Cause Psoriasis?

Healthy cereal that you can choose for breakfast

Everyone knows it’s important to start your day with a healthy breakfast, but that doesn’t mean it always happens. Often, it’s little more than coffee or you wind up grabbing a calorie-packed pastry. Even with breakfast cereal, it’s easy to end up with something that’s mostly sugar and simple carbs, which will leave your stomach growling in no time. When choosing a breakfast cereal, you’ll always want to go with an option that’s balanced with a good amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fiber, without too much fat or sugar. If cereal is your go-to meal in the morning, these are seven of the healthiest options you can eat.

1. Kashi Cinnamon Harvest Whole Wheat Biscuits

Think of Frosted Mini-Wheats, except slightly better for you. This cereal has only four ingredients: organic whole-grain wheat, organic dried cane syrup, organic cinnamon, and natural cinnamon flavor. While it does have 9 grams of sugar, it contains 2 grams less than a serving of Frosted Mini-Wheats. While the carbohydrates are relatively high (like with most cereals), this option boasts 5 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein per serving. This minimally processed cereal will give you energy to start your day and keep you full for much longer than the average bowl.

2. Barbara’s Original Puffins Cereal

If you’re mindful of your sugar intake, the original version of Barbara’s Puffins Cereal is a great option. It only has 5 grams of sugar for a ¾-cup serving that offers 90 calories, 1 gram of fat, 5 grams of fiber, and only 23 grams of carbohydrates. It’s also made with no GMOs, wheat ingredients, or dairy. Opt for this cereal if you’re craving something crunchy with just a touch of sweetness.

3. Ezekiel 4:9 Almond Sprouted Whole Grain Cereal

According to The Whole Grains Council, sprouted grains often contain more key nutrients than other grains. This includes fiber, essential amino acids, B vitamins, and vitamin C. Sprouted barley, a key ingredient in this cereal, has also been linked to lower blood pressure levels. One serving offers 38 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein, and less than 1 gram of sugar. Although a ½-cup serving is 200 calories, you’re getting quality ingredients that will keep you full.

4. One Degree Organic Foods Sprouted Brown Rice Cacao Crisps

The Whole Grains Council also mentions sprouted brown rice is beneficial because it helps fight diabetes and can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. This cereal option from One Degree Organic Foods is like the healthier version of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies. It comes in original brown rice, but if you’re craving a chocolaty flavor, the cacao crisps are the way to go. It’s made with low-glycemic coconut palm sugar as a sweetener, delivering a reasonable 8 grams of sugar per serving. This is also a great choice for those sensitive to gluten and those steering clear of GMOs.