Blog Posts by LIVESTRONG.COM

  • The 5 Biggest Healthy-Cooking Mistakes

    When you make the decision to eat a healthier diet, the prospect of cooking wholesome, nutritious meals at home can be a major change: You want to eat right, but you don't want the same bland, boring meals every day.

    While some healthy home-cooking practices follow common sense, such as steaming vegetables instead of sauteing them in gobs of oil, others can be a bit murkier. But don't fret. By avoiding some common healthy-cooking mistakes and dispelling some of the misconceptions about eating right at home, you can create interesting, tasty meals that will tickle the taste buds.

    Mistake No. 1: Solely Relying on Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

    Don't forget the freezer, registered dietitian E.A. Stewart says.

    "Frozen, organic fruits and veggies can be just as nutritious as fresh and are great for smoothies and last-minute side dishes for lunch and dinner," she said.

    Since vegetables and fruits are frozen at the peak of their freshness, their vitamins and

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  • More Than Meets the Eye

    Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the ... healthiest eater of them all?

    Beauty product sales in the United States rose 7 percent to $1.5 billion between January and July 2010, as reported in "The Seattle Times." And women invest an estimated 3,276 hours applying makeup and dressing to look their best throughout their lifetimes, according to a study commissioned by Australian beauty company Skinbliss.

    Current research indicates, though, that your appearance is influenced by more than just your makeup techniques, jeans brand or eye cream. Factors such as your dietary habits and attitudes also play a role.

    And of all the numerous contributing factors -- including genetics, ethnicity and age -- your dietary lifestyle is one you can change.

    Skin Deep

    Improving your complexion may begin with improving the length and quality of your sleep.

    "During REM sleep, we de-stress and our body and skin heals itself," said Dr. David E. Bank, a dermatologist and

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  • Who Pole Dances Anyway?

    Sometimes going to the gym can feel like an unbearable chore, schlepping yourself and your gym bag into the place for the same boring workout you did the day before and the day before that. It doesn't help that you haven't seen the results you were hoping for or that you spend the entire workout looking forward to the end of it.

    Perhaps what you need is a challenge, something that doesn't involve complicated machines, bulky equipment or boring repetitions. A distinctive fitness experience like this does exist, and it requires only yourself, a positive attitude and ... a pole.

    Part dance and part gymnastics, pole dancing, also known as pole fitness, is inspiring people -- young and old, from various backgrounds, careers and fitness levels -- with an exhilarating, challenging and sexy workout.


    Exotic Dance Meets Fitness Training

    In 1994, Fawnia Dietrich spent the first four months of her exotic dancing career learning her way around the dance pole -- and

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  • Venerable & Valuable: Christie Rampone


    Stress brings tension, anxiety and worry. But breathe in deeply and often these negative feelings are relieved. Now take a look in a dictionary. You'll find that "to breathe in" once meant "to inspire."

    This raises a question: Might stress and inspiration be more closely related than we imagined?

    There's no denying that the best athletes regularly use pressure as a source of inspiration. They understand it's a part of the game: The more you repress and resist pressure, the more stressful it becomes; the more you acknowledge and embrace pressure, the more inspiring you can be.

    The 2011 Women's World Cup offered the world a vivid example of this. During the grueling competition, 36-year-old captain Christie Rampone, along with her teammates on the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team, illustrated how professionals can effectively use pressure to break through obstacles instead of letting it stop them.


    The Art of Recovery

    "Pressure is good. Butterflies

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  • The Best Exercises You're Not Doing


    It's been said that human beings are creatures of habit, always following a predictable ebb and flow in life. Whether it's watching the same television shows on a weekly basis, eating at the same restaurants or putting the left sock on before the right, we generally don't like to stray too far from business as usual.

    When it comes to our exercise routines, the script is much the same: We stick with what we're good at and what's easy, often performing the same mundane exercises in the same order. Is it any wonder, then, that despite all the sweat and tears -- not to mention countless gym memberships -- people are frustrated that they haven't seen much progress in the gym? Whether you're trying to shed pounds or increase strength, hitting a plateau is frustrating. But adding just a couple of new exercises to your workout can provide a spark -- both physically and mentally -- to your fitness efforts.


    Goblet Squats With Pulse

    The squat, while a basic human

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  • Nourish Your Body, Nurture Yourself


    "Man is what he eats."

    First published in an essay in 1863, this statement by German philosopher Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach has become the mantra of modern-day fitness and nutrition gurus in describing the effect that food has on your body: Eat healthy foods, become physically healthy. But your dietary habits can affect far more than your physical self -- they can make or break your self-esteem.

    First, Seek Pleasure

    What excites you? Makes you laugh or smile? When is the last time you "played"? You might not be accustomed to considering these things in the context of your diet and physical health, but if you're drawing blanks in answering these questions, it's time to make a change -- for your body as well as your mind.

    In her book "The Emotional Energy Factor: The Secrets High-Energy People Use to Beat Emotional Fatigue," psychotherapist Mira Kirshenbaum explores a number of findings regarding energy and emotional fulfillment. After surveying

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  • Small Changes Can Yield Big Results


    Quit cold turkey. Run a marathon. Cut out carbohydrates. Reduce calorie intake by half. You may believe that drastic changes are the only ways to achieve the results you want, but that's hardly the case.

    "When changes are too big, they may be too overwhelming," said registered dietitian Ellie Krieger, author of "Small Changes, Big Results: A 12-Week Action Plan to a Better Life." "People don't want to start, or they don't know where to begin so they don't at all."

    Small lifestyle changes are easier to achieve and maintain. When successful, they are more likely to become habits and can lead to increased self-confidence.

    "Most successful goals or changes are things you can literally check off and say, 'I did this,'" Krieger said. "If you say, 'I am going to eat better,' you can't track or net that goal. But when you set and accomplish small, tangible changes, you get an immediate sense of gratification, and that is self-motivating."

    So whether you're looking

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  • Brown Bag Makeovers



    Bringing lunch from home saves you money, helps you avoid the lunch-hour crowds and is an excellent way to ensure you're getting a nutritious meal.

    "Healthy brown-bag meals can reduce fat, calories and sodium in our diets, improving overall health," said Amber Massey, a Dallas-based registered dietitian and food blogger.

    But let's face it, the typical brown-bag lunch is a little, or maybe a lot, boring -- especially when you keep pulling the same foods from your brown bag day after day. However, it doesn't have to be that way. Making just a few tweaks to some lunchtime classics brings fresh new flavor and added nutrients to those old standbys.

    The Classic: Tuna Salad / The Makeover: Salmon and White Bean Salad Over Spicy Greens

    You may be quick to order baked or broiled salmon at your favorite restaurant, but perhaps you've never even considered buying the canned variety that lines the shelves of your local grocery store. Well, you're missing out on a

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  • Find Your Motivation


    Though they may have you subconsciously biting your nails, lighting up after lunch or grabbing one more fistful of fries, your bad habits didn't start out bad. There was motivation behind them.

    "All habits -- even bad habits -- start out as true friends. They help, or helped, us deal with something," said Meg Selig, a counselor and author of "Changepower! 37 Secrets to Habit Change Success."

    Many habits help us regulate our moods, she says, so changing could leave us without a way to feel good.

    When you "want" chocolate to "feel better," for example, you don't really want chocolate.

    "You want a dopamine release," said Marie-Josee Shaar, founder of Smarts and Stamina in Pennsylvania.

    Dopamine is a chemical that makes you feel good, and chocolate helps your body release it. That good feeling is the motivation behind your craving. But if you can find another way to get the dopamine -- through sleep, exercise or interaction -- you can satisfy the craving

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  • 8 Foods You Should Avoid

    Some of the rules of a healthy diet are fairly obvious -- steer clear of fast food joints, say "no" to fried foods, and keep the chips and cookies to a minimum. Unfortunately, eating smart involves more than just avoiding notoriously unhealthy foods.

    Lurking behind the facade of words like "organic," "fat-free" and "natural" is a whole slew of foods that can kill a diet and pack on the calories. So here's a warning for any well-intentioned healthy eater: Just because it sounds nutritious, doesn't mean a food is actually good for you.

    1. Salad

    The biggest pitfall with a salad is ruining a veggie-filled meal with hundreds of calories in dressing. "Check the label," advised Keri Gans, a registered dietitian and author of "The Small Change Diet." Oftentimes the dressing with a salad at a restaurant has more calories than a candy bar. "Order dressing on the side," Gans said. "You should not be putting more than 60 calories of dressing on a salad."

    2. Smoothies

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