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Follow This 4-Week Guide to a Calmer, Slimmer, and Healthier You

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Week 1: Wrangle your stress.

In an Ohio State University study, women who were experiencing high levels of stress burned fewer calories after eating a fatty meal than their peers. "When you're stressed, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode," says obesity specialist Alexandra Sowa, M.D., founder of SoWell Health and clinical instructor at NYU Langone. "Hormones shift, and your metabolism can slow, because your body wants to conserve energy and store fat for the challenges ahead."

Higher levels of the stress horomone cortisol can also disrupt sleep and increase hunger, making you crave foods high in sugar and fat, explains Jessica Bartfield, M.D., assistant professor in the Weight Management Center at Wake Forest Medical Center in North Carolina. Activities like meditation can help counteract the physiological effects of stress. Here's how three busy women carve out time for this every day.

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Find a relaxing hobby.

"After a tough day at work, I plop down on my couch to knit, and within minutes I feel more relaxed. The clicking of the needles is really soothing, and the repetitive motion lets me zone out." — Randi Pellett, Brooklyn

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Jot down your thoughts.

"I sit at my kitchen island for 15 minutes each morning, before anyone else is awake, to write in my gratitude journal, have a cup of coffee, and watch the sun rise. This routine helped keep me calm and focused during a difficult year." — Carol Winett Perlman, Franklin, Maine

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Find time for meditation.

"I get to the school pickup lane 20 minutes early so I can meditate in my car while I wait for my kids. I either focus my attention on my breath — inhaling and exhaling for three seconds each time — or play a guided meditation onYouTube. It's the only uninterrupted time I get all day." — Natalie King Smith, Ramsey, New Jersey

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Week 2: Finally get a good night's sleep.

Your newfound chill will help you meet your next challenge: getting some much-needed shut-eye. The hormone ghrelin, which makes you hungry, tends to rise if you don't sleep well — and leptin, which tells you when you're full, tends to drop, explains Dr. Sowa. This throws off your hunger cues and may actually slow your metabolism.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that when subjects were allowed to sleep only four hours a night for five nights in a row, their resting metabolic rate decreased by about 50 calories per day. (And research shows that sleep-deprived people eat more.) Find out what's keeping you up and work to fix it this week.

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Sleep is for your bed.

You're so exhausted that you crash on the couch after dinner — but those catnaps can prevent you from sleeping soundly when it really counts, says Robbins. "When you fall asleep in front of the TV, you're using some of the sleep pressure that builds up during the day. If you then get up and move to the bedroom, sleep pressure, and with it the hormone melatonin, is reduced, making it harder to fall back asleep."

If you're super tired, do something to stay awake — clean up the kitchen or work on the puzzle you never finished. "Then start your bedtime routine and get into bed, and the still-building pressure will help you drift off," Robbins says.

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Leave tech out of the bedroom.

If bedtime bleeds into the wee hours as you catch up on emails, Facebook, orQueer Eye, so you try to make up for it by sleeping in on the weekends, just stop. You can't stockpile sleep and spending extra hours in bed on the weekend can mess with your circadian rhythm, says Rebecca Robbins, Ph.D., a sleep researcher and author ofSleep for Success!

Set a specific bedtime (count back seven hours before you need wake up), then spend the hour before that winding down. "Shut off electronics and start a routine of reading, bathing, or meditating," Robbins suggests. When you reach your cutoff time, slide into bed and shut your eyes.

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De-stress before hitting the pillow.

Falling asleep is no problem, but staying asleep is impossible. You toss and turn constantly worrying about the next day. Keep a notebook on your nightstand and write down your concerns each night. "Putting those thoughts down on paper gets them out of your mind and onto a physical list you can deal with in the morning," explains Robbins.

If you still wake up at 3 a.m., get out of bed. "You don't want to associate your bed with the anxiety of tossing and turning," she says. Read or meditate in an armchair until your eyelids feel heavy again. (No screens!)

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Week 3: Tackle your eating habits.
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What you should be eating.

Here's what a protein- and fiber-packed day should look like, with sample meals from Lyssie and her twin sister, registered dietitian Tammy Lakatos Shames. (You can find ideas and recipes to fill up your week at nutritiontwins.com.)

7 A.M. BREAKFAST:Fill a whole-grain wrap with two eggs (any style) and sprinkle with low-fat mozzarella; have kiwi or banana on the side.

11 A.M. MIDMORNING SNACK:1 oz pistachios (roughly 45)

1 P.M. LUNCH:Combine 1/2 cup farro with 1/4 cup lentils, roasted veggies, and 2 oz grilled or roasted chicken breast; toss over mixed greens with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

4 P.M. MIDAFTERNOON SNACK:3/4 cup frozen grapes (about 24 small grapes) dipped in 1/2 cup Greek yogurt

7 P.M. DINNER:Prepare 4 oz salmon fillet with 1/3 cup pineapple salsa, ½ cup brown rice, and 1 to 2 cups steamed or roasted Brussels sprouts or green beans.

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Week 4: Burn even more calories.
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Move as much as possible.
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Start small.

Never lifted a dumbbell before? That's okay — start with body-weight exercises. "Even if you just do 10 squats while you're cooking dinner, that's a great start," says Perkins, who suggests working your way up to the range of moves at right.

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Change things up.

As you get older, you naturally lose muscle mass — but you can fight back by consistently challenging your body with your routine. Add reps or try heavier weights every two weeks, and make the switch to an entirely new workout every three to four months.

If you really want to push your workout to its full potential, try High-intensity interval training (HIIT). It's been shown to boost metabolism and burn more fat. The concept is simple: Alternate intense activity with more moderate intervals. "Choose any type of cardiovascular exercise you like — jogging, cycling, elliptical, swimming," says Perkins. "Go at an intensity of about 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 for two minutes, then recover for one minute before going again." After you've done that for two to four weeks, increase your intensity to a 9 or 10.

This story was originally published in the September 2019 issue ofRedbook.






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Date: 11.12.2018, 18:01 / Views: 93395