Monthly Archives: March 2014

Can Acupuncture Help You Lose Weight?

weight lossAcupuncture is an ancient practice with origins in China, but it has recently become a popular treatment for Westerners seeking to lose weight and treat a number of ailments. It has now been increasingly embraced by practitioners in the West interested in its ability to alter the body’s energy and restore balance to its flow by inserting very fine needles into the skin.

People gain weight for a multitude of reasons, including slowed metabolism, inadequate nutrition, hormone imbalances and overeating, and acupuncture can be used to address many of these issues.

Weight gain may also be caused by an interruption in the energy flow of the body, specifically to and from the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for regulating many hormones and processes. Ideally, this part of the brain runs like a well-oiled machine, but when it is off balance, it can make your hunger levels go haywire.

Acupuncture and Hormone Regulation

Studies show that acupuncture affects one of the hormones related to the hypothalamus and regulation, called ghrelin. This hormone is related closely to leptin, the compound in our bodies that regulates metabolism and fat storage.

The Many Benefits of Acupuncture for Weight Loss

Acupuncture can produce many positive effects for people who are trying to lose weight, including fewer cravings, a decreased appetite, an increase in metabolism and better digestion. The practice can also improve the health and functioning of the liver, which makes many of the compounds that are critical to healthy digestion and nutrient use.

For best results, you should only see a qualified acupuncture practitioner, like those at Valley Medical Weight Loss, and make acupuncture part of a comprehensive weight loss plan.

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Are My Sleep Habits Sabotaging My Weight Loss Efforts?

When you are feeling sleepy at the office, you might be tempted to reach for a cup of coffee ID-100144021and a sugary snack from the vending machine for a little pick-me-up. When the clock strikes five, you may skip the gym and stop at the drive-thru on the way home because you are just too exhausted to cook. You end up relaxing on the couch with a cheeseburger in one hand and the remote in the other, and suddenly you can’t sleep.

If this cycle sounds familiar, your sleep pattern may be sabotaging your weight loss efforts and your overall health. On the surface, the connection is obvious: when you don’t get enough sleep, your energy dwindles, and you reach for a comfort food, like potato chips, or a cup of caffeine-infused coffee or soda. The immediate result may be a quick burst of energy, but the longer-term effect is unwanted pounds, more sleep loss and possibly serious health consequences.

When you are sleep deprived, your metabolism suffers, and this chemical transformation is essential for weight loss. Most people need about 7.5 hours of shut-eye a night, and increasing that won’t magically help you lose weight, but if you are sleep deprived, getting seven hours a night will help boost your metabolism and help you shed pounds.

Sleep deprivation also ups the body’s production of ghrelin, a hormone that signals when it is time to eat. To make matters worse, when the body doesn’t get enough sleep, it reduces production of leptin, the hormone that tells your brain that your belly is full. This combination of effects can spell disaster for your weight loss plan.

If you aren’t getting enough quality sleep at night, it is time to make a change. Follow these tips to start giving your body the rest it needs so you can lose weight and feel your best during the day:

Skip the Caffeine

It’s fine to start your day with a cup of joe, but skip caffeine in the afternoon. When you down caffeinated drinks after about 2pm, your body stays stuck in sleep’s lighter stages at night instead of getting the deeper rest it needs.

Get Exercise

Physical exercise can boost the quality of your sleep, and it doesn’t matter much when you do it. Aim to get at least one hour of exercise each day to sleep better at night.

Skip the Midnight Snack

If you are about to hit the pillows, stay away from snacks like pizza or hot wings. These fatty, greasy foods can cause heartburn and keep you up half the night. If your stomach is grumbling close to bedtime, opt for a lighter snack, like a cup of low-fat cottage cheese or an apple, and if battling bedtime cravings is a regular issue for you, try Crave-away to conquer the temptation.

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Our 5 Favorite Apps for Losing Weight

Your smartphone can do more than send emails, ensure you never get lost again and text Best Apps for Getting in Shape your friends. It can now help keep you in shape, thanks to the huge number of apps dedicated to fitness and healthy eating. They can motivate you, help you make better choices at the grocery store, guide your workouts and more. Here are our five favorite apps that can help you shed pounds, make healthier decisions and feel your best.

The Best Calorie Counting App

There are hundreds of apps that count calories, but nothing tops MyFitnessPal’s Calorie Counter. The app makes it easy to track what you are eating, and the massive database includes over 3 million foods. More are being added each day, you can track over 350 exercises, add your own workouts and even share your progress with friends.

The Best App for Healthy Eating

From the folks at EatingWell comes the Healthy in a Hurry app, which is great for anyone who struggles the find the time to whip up a healthy meal at the end of a long day. In the large database, you will find hundreds of recipes that reflect a variety of cuisines and lifestyles, plus full nutritional information. Deciding what’s for dinner has never been easier!

The Best App for Fast Fitness

Like Healthy in a Hurry, the Hot5 app is designed for folks who don’t have much time to spare in their busy schedules. The app is loaded with 5-minute video workouts focusing on everything from your abs to flexibility, yoga, your core and much more. There are sleek, professional videos for every difficulty level, and you’ll never be able to say you don’t have time to workout again.

The Best App for Runners

RunKeeper is actually the best app not just for runners, but for walkers and cyclists too. You can easily track your exercise on the road with your phone’s GPS system, and the app delivers detailed stats that make tracking progress simple. You can even connect with your friends and get real-time coaching through audio cues that update you on your distance, pace, time and more.

The Best App for Customizing Your Workout

If you are looking for the most in-depth and specific workout tracking, look no further than JEFIT. This app is perfect for spot-training, and it includes hundreds of exercises that you can choose from a detailed map of the body. Using the exercises, you can create custom workouts that target specific areas of your body. It’s the next best thing to having a personal trainer.

These apps can be an important part of a healthy weight loss plan. To learn more about shedding pounds the healthy way, contact us today!

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Burn Calories Without Burning Your Budget

Getting a million-dollar body doesn’t have to break the bank, and you can get great results Burn Calories Without Burning Your Budget without flashy workout equipment, an expensive gym membership or fancy health foods. If you want to trim your waistline while growing your bank account, try these low-cost ways to burn calories:

Workout for Free

Before you invest a small fortune in the latest workout DVDs, look for free alternatives. Check out the fitness section in your library’s collection of DVDs, hit the web to find hundreds of free workouts, or look at your cable networks’ on-demand selections. Your cable package may even include a free exercise channel.

Turn Your Home Into a Gym

For the cost of a few month’s gym membership, you can turn a corner of your home into a workout sanctuary. Look for online deals to score an inexpensive yoga mat, set of handweights and a few workout DVDs, or check auction sites to save even more on used goods. You won’t have the fancy equipment offered at the gym, but you really don’t need it to break a sweat anyway.

Change Up Your Commute

Every day is packed with opportunities to burn more calories. Instead of driving to work, try walking, biking or even running. If you live too far away to totally change your commuting style, park your car a few blocks from the office to sneak in a brisk walk twice a day. Take the stairs up to your floor and use your lunch break to take a stroll. You’ll save on gas while burning calories, and that’s a win-win situation.

These tips show that you can lose weight without breaking the bank, and we make every effort to make our weight loss programs as affordable as possible. To learn more about our solutions for every budget, contact us today!

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Healthier Alternatives to Butter for Baking

It is said that baking feeds the soul in addition to the belly, but baked goods loaded with ID-100192176buttery goodness can make the scale spike and cause a host of health issues. Reducing the amount of butter you use in the kitchen or eliminating it entirely can significantly cut the amount of fat, cholesterol and calories in your favorite treats, giving you more freedom to indulge in these healthier alternatives. Next time you are on a baking spree, reach for these substitutions instead of butter to get steps closer to your weight loss goals:

Applesauce

This sweet stuff is often used as an oil replacement in baking recipes, but it works just as well for butter. Try swapping it in cake-like recipes for half the butter: If a recipe calls for two cups of butter, use one cup applesauce and one butter. If you replace all the butter with applesauce, your baked goods will be more moist and dense but have less fat and calories.

Canola Oil

This oil may have more calories than butter, but it is far lower in sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol. This substitution is best for recipes that call for melted butter, and you can make an equal swap.

Greek Yogurt

Your favorite breakfast food is a great substitute for butter, especially when making cookies. If a recipe demands a full cup of butter, use a quarter cup of Greek yogurt and a half a cup of the real stuff. You’ll still get the taste and texture you love but with less saturated fat and calories.

Prune Puree

It may sound crazy, but prune puree works as a healthier alternative to butter, especially in recipes that use cinnamon and chocolate. Replace the butter entirely with prune puree, either store-bought or homemade, to make low-fat and low-calorie treats you will love. 

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Make the Outdoors Your Gym in Arizona

Arizona is an ideal playground for those who love the great outdoors and have an outdoor-gymadventurous spirit. While people in other areas of the country are stuck inside and going to crowded, expensive gyms to get in their daily exercises, we have plenty of options for getting fit under the sun. From trekking our stunning mountains to biking along peaceful trails or even hitting the slopes on skis, there are always opportunities to burn calories while exploring the outdoors here in Arizona. Here are some of our favorites:

Hiking and Caving

Our vibrant scenery and spectacular natural features make exploring Arizona on foot a true pleasure. Lace up your hiking boots and hit the Arizona Trail, on which you can make your way across the entire state one step at a time, or check out one of the less-explored trails in the Grand Canyon. To cool off from the heat, take your hike underground by exploring the Kartchner Caverns State Park or the Colossal Cave near Tucson, where you can climb around incredible stalactite formations.

Swimming, Kayaking and Canoeing

Home to over 30 lakes and more streams and rivers than we can count, Arizona is overflowing with opportunities for water adventures. Head to Lake Powell to swim in the crystal waters, rent a kayak to explore the Colorado River from the jumping-off point of Lake Havasu, or cool down from a hike by taking a dip at Prescott. Work your legs by spending an afternoon paddle boating at Tempe Town Lake, or take a canoe trip through the Black Canyon before relaxing in the hot springs.

Mountain and Road Biking

Strap on your helmet and get ready to explore some of the most picturesque yet challenging terrain in the United States. There is a biking trail for every level in Arizona, from winding through the pines in High Country to speeding down steep runs near Mount Humphrey. If you are interested in a more leisurely trip, coast along the many historic byways and scenic roads that will take you through lovely river valleys and gently rolling hills.

Skiing and Snow Sports

We may be known for sun and sand, but we’ve also got plenty of snow-capped peaks that offer great opportunities for skiing and other sports. There are runs for every skill level at the Snowbowl, Sunrise has three mountains to challenge you, and Mount Lemmon has more than 20 trails that offer hours of outdoor exercise and fun.

Physical exercise is an essential part of successful weight loss, but it is not the only component of an overall healthy weight loss program. To learn more about losing weight in Arizona, check out our programs today.

Choosing the Best Weight Loss Program for You

weight lossMillions of people eagerly sign up for weight-loss programs every year, and unfortunately, a large percentage of them fail to lose weight and keep it off. The reason often has little to do with willpower or motivation. Instead, many people fail to shed pounds because they attempt to follow a program that does not support their goals, needs or lifestyle. This kind of mismatch often leads to frustration and discouragement instead of smaller waistlines.

Losing weight can be tough, but it can be even harder when the program you choose isn’t right for you. That’s why it is so important to make the right choice right off the bat. If you are ready to lose weight, follow this guide to find a program that will work for you.

Support Levels

The road to weight loss is far easier to travel when you have the right support. Being able to turn to a professional or a support group is a great tool when you have questions, your motivation wanes or when you just need someone to talk to.

Clinical Support

Losing weight is a medical issue, and having a team of health care professionals on your side can be invaluable. These weight loss programs may provide a variety of services, including nutrition education, supplements, testing, detailed analysis and more, and many clients see results very quickly with these clinical tools and support.

Your Personal Needs

Before you make your choice, think about your personal needs, like your food preferences or related conditions, your budget and desired level of flexibility. Do you need a plan that works with a vegetarian diet? How much of an investment can you make in your weight loss? Do you want a plan that gives you the freedom to choose your own foods, or do you feel more comfortable following a stricter plan? Thinking about these questions will help you better define what you are looking for in a weight loss program.

Weight loss programs are clearly not one-size-fits-all. That’s why we offer custom-formulated plans that will help you reduce cravings, increase your metabolism and help you lose weight and keep it off. Check out our healthy weight loss programs today to find the best match for your needs and goals.

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Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress

stressedFeeling stressed out can cause more than a headache or breakdown, it can also trigger weight gain. According to a 2013 study conducted by the American Psychological Association, over 40 percent of people report eating unhealthy foods or overeating in response to stress. You may have done it yourself after a long day at work that included a showdown with your boss, a flat tire and difficult customer. In an attempt to get a much-needed pick-me-up, you reach for that half-empty box of chocolates in the bottom of your desk drawer, or you stop at the drive-thru on the way home for a giant box of fries.

This is a common response to stress, and there is a good reason why – cortisol, the hormone released by the brain when we are stressed, triggers a ravenous hunger response. It may even interfere with the compounds that tell your brain when your hunger is satiated, leading to even more overeating.

Unfortunately, this response to stress can have unhealthy side effects, including weight gain. Cortisol doesn’t just make you hungry, but it also encourages the body to hold onto fat, particularly in the abdominal area.

Although you cannot control the body’s automatic, natural response to stress, you can make moves to limit stress in your life and relieve tension. Next time you are feeling stressed, try these strategies instead of reaching for an unhealthy snack:

Avoid Unnecessary Stress

It is impossible to avoid stress entirely, but you can limit it by learning how to say “no,” avoiding environments and people that cause you to stress out and cutting down your to-do list to just your top priorities.

Alter Stressful Situations

If you find yourself in a stressful situation, try to change it by expressing your feelings, being more assertive and being willing to compromise if necessary to find a common ground.

Find Healthy Ways to Cope

There are far more healthy ways to deal with stress than by downing a pint of ice cream. Next time you are on the verge of overeating due to stress, release healthy endorphins by going for a walk instead. Spending time outdoors can do wonders for your stress level, as can laughing with a friend, writing down your thoughts in a journal, unwinding with a massage, soaking in the tub or having a solo dance party in your kitchen. Get moving, connect with others and do something you love each and every day, no matter how stressed you are.

Learning healthy ways to cope with stress is one of the most important steps toward reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. To learn more about ways you can adopt healthy habits, check out our healthy weight loss programs today!

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Get the Flavor Your Crave Without the Calories

low calorie foodsIf you are like most people, your list of favorite foods is probably filled with treats that taste great but don’t rank high on the nutrition scale. Luckily, eating a healthier, more balanced diet does not have to mean forgoing all your favorites. With these lower-calorie substitutions, you can still enjoy the flavors you crave without the calories that pack on the pounds.

Cookies

Cookies are often loaded with sugar, chocolate, cream and other things that may make your taste buds rejoice but your waistline suffer. Swap high-calorie, high-fat treats with a more sensible, lower-calorie alternative, like fig bars. Still technically cookies, the sweet treats give you the flavor you desire without as many calories, and the fruit inside delivers an extra nutritional punch.

Potato Chips

Ruffled, covered with barbecue flavoring or sour cream and onion powder, kettle cooked or just plain, potato chips are a favorite indulgence but an unhealthy choice. Once you tear open a bag, you might eat half without even realizing it, and the calories and fat in each chip really add up. Next time you are tempted, try a serving of air-popped popcorn instead. It’s salty, crunchy, satisfying and has far less calories and fat than deep-fried chips.

Ice Cream

If you are craving something cool on a hot Arizona summer afternoon, skip high-calorie ice cream in favor of homemade Greek yogurt popsicles made with the season’s ripest berries, a smoothie made with ice, fresh peaches and almond milk, or ice cream made with coconut milk and topped with your favorite fruits.

Pizza

The cheesy, saucy goodness of pizza is certainly delicious, but it is also loaded with fat and calories. Instead of indulging in a slice (or three!) of traditional pizza, make your own on a whole-wheat pita with fresh veggies and a light sprinkling of low-fat cheese. Dress it up with your favorite spices and dig in without the guilt.

Soda

The high fructose corn syrup, sugar and calories in soda can do serious damage on your body, but you don’t have to give up sweet drinks entirely to get healthier and cut calories. Instead of gulping down a calorie-laden soda, try a glass of unsweetened tea or ice cold water with slices of lemon, lime or strawberries. You’ll get the sweetness you want without the calories.

French Fries

As with potato chips, it is hard to just eat one french fry. Instead of reaching for a deep-fried, crisp and salty fry, try slices of baked avocado topped with panko crumbs, zucchini fries or slices of baked sweet potatoes.

Learning to deal with cravings is one of the cornerstones of healthy weight loss, and making these simple substitutions can help you make healthier choices and shed pounds. To learn more about curbing cravings, boosting your metabolism and upping your energy, check out our weight loss programs today!

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