Fat Loss Weight Loss 

The Weight Loss Motivation Bible: How To Program Your Mind For Sustainable Fat Loss

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Acorn Squash Breakfast Bowls With Yogurt

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Roasted acorn squash breakfast bowls served warm with yogurt and your favorite toppings! A delicious, comforting breakfast for the Fall and Winter months.

The first time I had an acorn squash breakfast bowl was at my cousin’s house a couple years ago. One morning while I was visiting, she roasted up a squash for us to share. We each loaded up one half with yogurt and fun toppings like granola, cinnamon, chia seeds, and peanut butter. One bite and I was hooked! I loved the sweet roasted squash topped with tangy yogurt.

I immediately decided I needed to share the idea here on EBF. It took me a while (over two years!!), but I finally have the recipe for you today. I’m excited because I love bowl meals — especially when they’re edible — and I know you are going to enjoy these acorn squash breakfast bowls, too.

These bowls are not only gorgeous and fun to put together, but they’re healthy and satisfying, and will definitely keep you feeling full until lunch. With the protein from the yogurt, complex carbs from the squash, and a little fat from the toppings, you’re set! Plus, you get bonus health points because you’re eating a vegetable for breakfast!

The bowls are super customizable. You can use whatever yogurt you prefer and the topping options are limitless. I used Siggi’s Plain Sykr and then added dried cranberries, cacao nibs, and sunflower seeds, plus a drizzle of both maple syrup and almond butter. This combo was heavenly!

When it comes to putting the acorn squash breakfast bowls together, you can use freshly roasted acorn squash that’s cooled for a few minutes or reheat preroasted squash to make the prep faster. Another option is to roast and chill the acorn squash, but I prefer it warm. It’s the perfect way to enjoy yogurt through the Fall and Winter months when a traditional yogurt bowl seems too cold.

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Amanda's Secret to Losing Over 100 Pounds Wasn't a Diet

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Our next Before & After story comes from Amanda Fraijo-Tobin, who blogs about life after losing 130 pounds on her blog Friday Love Song, which is part of our POPSUGAR Select Fitness network. Below, she shares how she lost the weight and how she keeps it off.

Amanda: Before

Growing up, I wasn’t severely overweight — sure, I had a pudgy stage, but a lot of people did! My weight wasn’t something I thought much about being a kid (as it shouldn’t be). My parents had good intentions, like most, but we certainly did not grow up eating very healthy. Snacks, soda, meals prepared without nutritional aspects considered. Soda became a very bad habit for me, especially as I got into my teens and didn’t have anyone stopping me from drinking so many.

Fast-forward to high school — like most high school girls, I thought I was fat. Even though, in retrospect, I clearly wasn’t. I didn’t let it consume my life, though I was a little on the chubby side (so I thought) and I was OK with that. Looking back, I think senior year is when the trouble began for me. Stress, changes in my life, poor eating, and not exercising (hello, gym-class-not-required-after-ninth-grade!) led me to pack on some weight. Again, I already felt like a “fat girl,” so I kept going with the mind-set of “This is me — this is who I am.” I was married young, had my first child at 20, and of course, packed on more weight. Divorced, remarried, and two more babies later — more weight.

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My weight wasn’t something I paid attention to. I never weighed myself. The only time anyone took my weight was maybe once or twice a year when I had a doctor’s visit — and even then, I didn’t think much about it. This is me — this is who I am . . .

Amanda: Before

My husband is a type 2 diabetic. He had already been on tons of medications for several years to control his blood sugar and other problems associated with the disease. He got to the point of having to add insulin injections to his enormous list of meds. His doctor kept urging him to consider weight-loss surgery, telling him that, if he lost some weight, there was a possibility he may be able to stop taking some of his medications. This seemed like a great solution to my husband — I, on the other hand, disagreed. I told him repeatedly, this wasn’t the solution. If you don’t break bad habits that got you to a certain point, you could not possibly make a real change.

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Insert light bulb moment. Pot calling kettle black. Even though it wasn’t something I monitored, I was surely at the heaviest point of my life. I was waking up to get my son to school and collapsing on the couch for a nap once he was off. I was having random pains in my foot. I felt gross. I knew I needed to start making changes. I needed to make changes for myself, but also for my husband, for my kids. I needed to be a better example. This wasn’t about vanity. This was about life, making a better life for myself and my family.

I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. I had packed on the weight over the course of 10 years. I knew it was going to take some time to take it back off. I knew there would be times I would feel like quitting. But from the start, I adopted a “Today I will do what I can” kind of attitude. This went for exercise as well as eating habits. I knew all my bad eating habits were not going to disappear overnight. Slowly but surely, I made mental lists of things I was doing that were awful for my body and thought of ways to change them. Drink more water, read labels of items I was eating, etc. I had been having such severe pains in my heel that some days I could not even walk on it. Some days, I may not get through an entire workout like I wanted to — that’s OK. Today I will do what I can.

Amanda: After

I chose not to be vocal about my weight-loss journey from the start. I didn’t mention it to friends. My husband and my father were about the only people who knew what I was trying to accomplish. There were many days of whining on my part to my husband about aches and pains from making my body do things it wasn’t used to doing. I admit I have no idea for sure what my starting weight was. I have a general idea based on the last time I had been weighed at the doctors — but my journey began about six months, and what I’m guessing, may even be more pounds later. I did not start out with a goal weight in mind. I didn’t want one. I wanted to be healthier. Period. Healthy is not pounds on a scale. This is not a short fix; this is a change I will continue to make for the rest of my life.

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How Did I Do It?

This is common sense, things we have heard a million times again and again. Change the way you eat. Exercise. Repeat. It’s amazing to me when people want to know my “secret.” I have no secret. And I find it even funnier when people feel let down by my answer. There is no magic pill. I have not dieted. I have not counted calories. I knew from the start that was not the way I wanted to live my life. This is a lifestyle change. Know that it’s going to be challenging, but have faith that you can make the changes you want to.

Amanda: After

About two years later now and around 125 to 135 pounds down, here I am. Still chugging along. Still making it part of my life to make better decisions for my own as well as my family’s health. Honestly, I still feel a little silly writing this. I have had people tell me that they think I am an inspiration, which blows my mind. But I am here to tell you: if I can do this, you can do this. All it takes is a true commitment. Am I a superfit person? No, of course not. But every day, I strive to be a little better. I am a real person who did this. I am a mom to three children with a full-time job, a husband, two dogs, and a million other things going on. It takes work. It takes time. But you can do this. Start today, one small change at a time. This is me — this is who I am. Today I will do what I can. Will you?

Do you have an inspiring Before & After story to share? Message us on Facebook, and give us a few details about your journey. We might even profile you on the site, like Amanda!

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Is It Safe to Eat Raw Oats (as in Overnight Oats)?

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You fell hard for the overnight oats craze, and we don’t blame you for becoming completely obsessed (we did too!) Overnight oats taste amazing because you can come up with all kinds of delicious flavor combinations from chocolate coconut almond, to banana cashew, to vanilla almond raspberry. They’re easy to throw together and eat on-the-go, and they’re one of the quickest breakfasts you can make that keep you feeling full all morning long. The only issue is that you may have heard that eating raw oats isn’t safe because they contain phytic acid.

Why is phytic acid bad? Also known as phytate, it’s found in grains, nuts, seeds, and beans and binds to essential minerals such as calcium, zinc, and iron, preventing your body from being able to absorb them. So it makes sense that if you consume too much phytic acid, you can have issues with mineral deficiencies. But don’t worry! Nutritionists Stephanie Clarke, RD, and Willow Jarosh, RD, of C&J Nutrition say that even though “oats do contain phytic acid, soaking them overnight will remove some of it.”

Soaking oats also helps to break down the starches, so they’re easier to digest (read: less bloating) than cooked oats. If traditionally prepared oatmeal made with rolled or steel cut oats have always been off-limits because it bothers your stomach, overnight oats may not.

So go ahead and eat overnight oats every morning of the week! They’re safe, easy on the tummy, and a great choice if you’re watching your weight because the complex carbs and fiber keep you fuller. If you really crave a warm bowl, pop your glass jar in the microwave for 30 to 60 seconds.

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How to Kill Your Sugar Addiction Before It Kills You

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While excusing yourself from sugary celebrations is no fun, neither is dealing with a post-sugar-binge hangover. And on top of it, the more sugar you eat, the more you crave — it can take a few days to weeks to get over an addiction to refined sugar once you start. Not only that, but studies have shown that eating too much refined sugar can speed up your body’s aging process. If you know you can’t resist sweet temptations, read on to learn nutritionist-approved strategies that will keep you on the right track.

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Choose wisely: If you’re going to indulge, go for seasonal sweets that you know you can’t get when it’s not the holidays. “You can have chocolate any time of the year,” says registered dietitian, nutritionist, and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson Tamara Melton. Go for a seasonal dessert you crave all year, like a treat from an ice cream truck in the Summer or pumpkin pie in the Fall. Just remember that just because these treats are only available for a limited time doesn’t mean you should go overboard. Practice portion control by having a plan, Tamara advises.

Think positive: Set yourself up for success by telling yourself that you got this. “Words are powerful,” says Kathie Dolgin, author of Sugar Savvy Solution: Kick Your Sugar Addiction for Life and Get Healthy. “If you think resisting sugar is going to be hard, it will be hard. Change that negative self-talk if you are going to take control of your diet and your health. Believe you can do this!”

Not being hungry is key: Don’t want to chow down on the entire candy bowl? Set yourself up for success by eating a balanced meal or snack every three to four hours, Tamara says. Simone Gloger, a registered nutritionist and Dukan Diet nutritionist, recommends three protein-rich meals and two protein-rich snacks every day to help you resist cravings. “I usually pack my lunch and snacks each day so I don’t give into the temptation that is all around me,” Simone says.

Know that cravings might be something else: Before you reach for that peanut butter cup, think about what you really need. “People mistake thirst for hunger or cravings,” Kathie says. “That dip in energy that sends you hunting for a snack is often just a sign of dehydration. So hydrate and hydrate and drink water, not juice or soda.” Kathie recommends spa water — water infused with your favorite fruits — to hit sugar cravings the natural way. If you are craving a treat, opt for a small piece of dark chocolate or a single-serving yogurt that comes with sweet mix-ins like chocolate or granola, Tamara advises.

Don’t dwell: Tried your best, but couldn’t resist the siren song of holiday treats? Don’t beat yourself up about it. “Forgive yourself and get back on track,” Kathie says. “Forgiving and being kind to others (as well as yourself!) boosts self-esteem and gratitude for what you have (thus combating the negative self-talk that can send you running for the cookie jar) and gives you the same endorphin rush as sugar.” Afterward, make sure your next meal is only when you are hungry, Tamara says. “Resolve to eat healthier at your next meal, then load up on plenty of fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains. Be sure to also include lean sources of protein, which help to keep you satisfied.”

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Hot or Cold: What's the Best Way to Shower After a Workout?

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Have you heard of recovery showers? Apparently there’s a better way to rinse off after an intense workout — one that boosts recovery. Best part? It’s not an ice bath.

The concept of a “recovery shower” is alternating temperatures from hot to cold. Is this an effective way to stimulate circulation and aid in muscular recovery? “There is no yes or no answer to this question,” said Dr. Kristin Maynes, PT, DPT. “We all have to remember that every person’s body is different and may react to certain therapies differently.” That said, she totally recommends recovery showers.

“Yes, it can be an effective aid to muscle or injury recovery; however only for someone without an acute injury,” she told POPSUGAR. So as this is a great general method for recovery, keep in mind that if you’re dealing with an injury, you’ll need to discuss this with your own physical therapist. “If there is no injury, it [can] speed up the recovery process, keep the body mobile, and prevent stiffness.” Here’s how the recovery shower works:

First, Cold

“After a workout, you want to start off with cold — an ice bath or cold shower — to aid in the decrease in inflammation of muscles, joints, and tendons,” said Dr. Maynes. Exercise inflames these parts of your body, and as she put it, “it’s unhealthy to be in an inflamed state for prolonged periods of time.”

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The cold water locally decreases blood flow, reducing inflammation, stiffening the muscles and joints — thus decreasing pain (just like icing an injury). This is “very important for immediate recovery and works well in the acute stages of injury or right after a workout,” she said. “It is like a ‘pause’ button in the healing process to decrease the body’s quick response to injury, which can be very painful at times.”

Then Hot

Then switch to hot. “This will improve muscle and joint recovery to flush out all the build up of inflammatory cells, dead cells, scar tissue build up, etc. to improve the health of the bones.” Going from cold to hot also helps with potential stiffness. You know how you sometimes can’t walk after leg day? Try a cold-to-hot shower. “This can also aid in improvement of mobility of body structures so stiffness does not set in,” she said. “This is very good to use in the subacute and chronic stages of an injury.”

That said, if you’re injured, she stressed that this is not the way to recover. “You do not want to use heat in the first few days up to a week of an injury,” so avoid this kind of recovery shower.

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The Best Workout Recovery?

Post-workout recovery is essential, and it varies for everyone. “If you are active in aiding your recovery after an intense workout [with] stretching, foam rolling, yoga, etc., then adding an alternating hot shower or an ice bath is going to help,” said Dr. Maynes. “Find out what works best for your body whether it be hot shower, ice bath, or both; stick to it and it will help you.”

But be patient! “Nothing works in a day; you have to do it more than once to see an effect.”

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5 Healthy Travel Hacks to Help You Stay on Track

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Traveling isn’t always as glamorous as it sounds. Long drives, cab rides, flights, hours in terminals, and the occasional jaunt through a train station can result in major stress — on the body and mind. For me, travel is a fact of my everyday life. The benefit of that, beyond frequent flyer miles and knowing how to pack very quickly, is knowing the simple tricks to staying healthy while on the go.

So how do you make sure your traveling doesn’t interfere with your healthy habits? Here are my five best tips that you can start today to get back on track!

1. Bring Healthy Snacks With You
The stress of traveling can make you hungry, so it’s a good idea to keep something on hand that will satisfy you. Let’s be honest here, there aren’t many healthy options on an airplane, so packing healthy snacks is your best bet. According to Toronto-based culinary nutritionist Keisha Luke, “Try to bring along some mixed nuts, low-sugar or naturally sweetened with raw honey, maple syrup, agave, or even dried fruit granola, protein balls (natural peanut butter, oatmeal, honey, and nuts), fruits, and opt for water when offered a beverage.”

2. Wear Your Exercise Shoes
Heck, wear your sweats, too! Why? Because exercise clothes and shoes are never out of style, plus dressing for fitness means that you’ll be more likely to walk to your destinations. You’re also more likely to go check out the city, the gym, or the mall a few blocks away without calling a cab.

The more you walk during your time away from home, the better you will feel. Take the long way, take the stairs, whatever you’ve gotta do to keep moving, do it.

3. Order à la Carte
Most meals are already put together for you on many menus, and most of the time you’ll have no idea what the calorie content is. Luke told us to keep it simple: “Order things you know are healthy. For dinners, pick a lean cut of meat and choose sides that are as simple as possible such as steamed veggies, brown rice, quinoa, or a side salad.”

For lunches, choose turkey wraps, salads, or other lighter fare and opt for more simple dressings. Say no to fries as a side, and choose sliced tomatoes, cottage cheese, or even a small salad instead. Remember: there’s no law that says you have to finish everything they put in front of you. We won’t tell your mom, honest!

Breakfast can be tricky with all the sweet treats offered such as pancakes, french toast, and more, so choose wisely and go for good old eggs and oatmeal if you have to. Even a cup of yogurt can be a great option here.

For drinks, stick to water or unsweetened tea. If you drink alcohol, keep it to a minimum and choose wisely. No cola in your mixed drinks; go for unsweetened grapefruit juice or seltzer and lime as a mixer.

4. Bring Your Personal Trainer and Nutritionist With You
Literally! With today’s technology making it possible, you can still travel and complete your sessions with a personal trainer or fitness apps. Either plan ahead with your trainer for some Skype sessions to stay on track, or as certified personal trainer Heather Neff told us, “Use LiftSession.com; all you need is a laptop or tablet and some WiFi (which is usually available and free at hotels) to get in a great workout.”

Mobile personal trainer apps and sites allow you to connect with a live online personal trainer and never miss a workout while you are traveling. You can do it from the comfort of your own hotel room (or mom’s guest bedroom).

You can do the same thing with your nutrition. Either seek out food delivery services that will get your meals to you no matter where you are, or seek out a culinary nutritionist in the city you plan on visiting to give your diet a new kick.

5. Do Your Best and Don’t Dwell on a Mistake
You’re traveling, after all. This is supposed to be an exciting time where you get to try new things and let loose a little. My best advice would be to never eat two bad meals in a row, keep moving as much as you can, and enjoy your time away. In addition to that, try to de-stress and have a little fun. You deserve it.

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Are Egg Whites Healthier Than Egg Yolks?

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Chock-full of protein, eggs are a quick and easy way to get this essential nutrient anytime of the day. From omelets in the morning to quiche at night, you may be shying away from the yolks to save calories and cholesterol. The yolk may contain all the fat, but it also contains most of the vitamins and nutrients. Take a look at the comparison below to see what you may be missing when you only eat the whites.

1 egg white
1 egg yolk
1 whole egg

Calories
16
54
71

Total fat (g)
0
5
5

Saturated fat (g)
0
2
2

Cholesterol (mg)
0
211
211

Sodium (mg)
55
8
70

Carbs (g)
0
1
0

Fiber (g)
0
0
0

Sugars (g)
0
0
0

Protein (g)
4
3
6

Vitamin A (IU)
0
244
244

Vitamin B12 (mcg)
0
0.3
0.6

Vitamin D (IU)
0
18.2
17.5

Calcium (mg)
2.3
21.9
26.5

Folate (mcg)
1.3
24.8
23.5

Potassium (g)
53.8
18.5
67

Selenium (mcg)
6.6
9.5
15.8

Omega-3s (mg)
0
38.8
37

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The yolks are where it’s at if you’re looking to up your intake of vitamins A, B12, and D, as well as your daily calcium, folate, and omega-3s. If it’s cholesterol you’re worried about, the recommended limit is about 300 mg a day. That means you could enjoy an egg a day if you wanted to, but it’s important to be mindful about how much meat, cheese, and other dairy products you eat during the rest of the day.

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Welcome to Your Clean-Eating Plan For 2017

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Eating clean is easy when you have all the ingredients on hand. Our 2-Week Clean-Eating Plan sets you up for success with easy-to-make and delicious recipes, printable shopping lists, and a weekly rundown of what to prep, make, and save. The plan, created by the registered dietitians Stephanie Clarke and Willow Jarosh of C&J Nutrition, focuses on whole foods — fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins. You’ll eat three meals, a snack, and a treat daily. That’s right! Eating clean doesn’t mean denying yourself of foods you love. The plan is alcohol-free, but you can have your morning cup of caffeine provided you drink it without cream since the the plan is dairy-free.

The meals, with snacks and treats included, add up to about 1,600 calories per day. The carb, protein, and fat ratio is close to 50:20:30. The carbs are all whole grains so they’re high in fiber. The protein is lean, and the fats are primarily plant-based. And all the food is tasty.

How the Plan Works

The 14-day plan is divided into two weeks, with a separate shopping list for each.

Week 1 Shopping List
Week 2 Shopping List
The first day of each week is your prep day when you wash, chop, and store the many ingredients you will be cooking with throughout the week. On your prep day and during the week, you will prepare extra servings of some ingredients to use later in the week. Talk about convenience.
Week 1 Daily Rundown
Week 2 Daily Rundown

While you can start the program on any day of the week, you need to follow it in sequence since this plan uses leftovers throughout each week. To help you prep and plan, we have created a rundown of the daily meals and a to-do list for each week. Think of this as your cheat sheet: print it out and put it on your fridge so you can easily follow along.

Prep Ahead For Ease

Prep days are important, and honestly, we think the commitment of planning ahead will help you stick to the program. On days one and eight, there is plenty of slicing and dicing to be done and a good amount of cooking. Plan to set aside two to three hours for prep and cook time. It’s also a great idea to think about a day in the middle of the week that might work for doing a small amount of prep for the end of the week.

Tips For Success

Clean Out Your Fridge: Since you will be buying a bunch of fresh ingredients and then making fabulous meals with all this yummy food, you’ll need ample storage for both the ingredients and the leftovers. Take some time to create space in your fridge to make this process easier. Trust us. We learned from experience.
Shop Early: Plan your grocery shopping day one day ahead of your prep day, if possible, since shopping and cooking all in one day can be a little daunting. And since you are only shopping once each week, you will be freezing some of the meat on the plan. Just make sure to start thawing those items the day before, but don’t worry — we remind you about it in the daily rundown.
Bulk Bins: Shop the bulk bins to save money by ensuring you have just the amount you need and no more. Look for nuts, seeds, spices, tea, dry goods, and even chocolate in the bulk bins of your local grocery store.
Clear Containers: Store prepped produce and other ingredients in clear containers. The more you can see what’s in the fridge, the more likely you are to eat it and not forget about it!

We’re sure you have a few questions, so do check out our Frequently Asked Questions, and hopefully you will find your answers there.

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Feeling Fit? Here's How to Challenge Yourself More in 2017

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I am a planner and I like setting goals. In fact, I need them. Especially when it comes to my fitness life, specific goals keep me motivated and active. Finding new challenges to keep your workouts feeling fresh can be difficult when you’re already pretty fit. Nothing beats the beginner’s mind when it come to tackling a new fitness goal. I remember when I started running, building up to the 5K mark was beyond motivating; when I hit that distance, I was left with the question of what’s next? But you guys, the fitness world is so large — you can always find new challenges. With that in mind, here are a few ideas to consider as you turn your thoughts toward all the possibilities 2017 has to offer.

Running

Up your distance. If you finished a 5K sign up for a 10K. Just conquered a half-marathon? Train for a marathon, with the emphasis on train. Increasing your mileage should always come with a plan that slowly builds to ensure you don’t try to conquer too much too quickly and sideline yourself with an overuse injury, like runner’s knee or shin splints.
Try a tri. Mix up your training and sign up for a sprint-distance triathlon and really dedicate yourself to cross-training by adding swimming and biking into your weekly routine. If you’re intimidated by swimming, sign up for a class or find a group that does open-water swims.
Race with a relay team. Round up your like-minded friends and create a team for a long-distance relay, where 12-person teams cover 195+ miles over a 24-hour time period, like Oregon’s Hood to Coast or a Ragnar Relay. These races mix the sleep-deprivation silliness of a slumber party with teamwork and distance running. Trust me, it’s a great combo.

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In the Gym

Go heavy with power lifting. Lifting heavy weights is a great full-body workout. Find a gym that offers courses on power lifting and learn the differences between snatch, clean, and jerk as you heave barbells loaded with weight to your chest and above your head.
Master the pull-up. Leave the weights behind and finally master the pull-up. This ultimate bodyweight exercise feels elusive to many women, well at least me, and pulling off five pull-ups is an excellent challenge to work toward. Yeah, this is on my list for 2017.
Push your push-ups and conquer the burpee. You don’t need to leave the comfort of your home to get stronger when you focus on push-ups — here’s a 30-day challenge to work up to 50 push-ups. If burpees are your nemesis, try this burpee challenge that builds to 100 reps.
Get classy. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and try a new group fitness class, preferably a workout that is out of your comfort zone — the activities we tend to avoid are often really beneficial. Hip-hop aerobics, yoga, indoor cycling, Pilates, Megaformer, boxing — the options are endless especially if you add some studio fitness classes into the mix. Heck, push yourself to try a new class once a month. You just might find your new jam.
Certify your passion. Do you love yoga? Do you go to SoulCycle almost daily? Take your passion and get certified to train other people and inspire them to love what you love.

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Take It On the Road

Take a hike; a long, long hike. Backpacking might not be considered a sport, but hiking for days and carrying all you need to survive is a physical challenge. And one that can take you to some amazing places. Spending time in nature is great for your mental health, too. Check out the John Muir Trail in California, the 2000 miles Appalachian Trail that runs from Georgia to Maine, or shorter trails in our beautiful National Parks.
Ride a bike — anywhere. Hop on your bike weekly to run your weekend errands, sign up for century ride (yeah, that’s 100 miles), or a fund-raising stage ride like AIDS/LifeCyle Ride.
Start a community. Gather your like-minded friends and create a group dedicated to the activity you love, be it running, hiking, or cycling. Non-competitive clubs can be equal parts social and sport, and are great way to get your sweat on with a group.

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