The PROs and CONs of loosing weight with ephedra

Ephedra has been the center of controversy and debate recently, because of its many adverse side effects and at one time the FDA even banned the herb for a short time. The herb ephedra, also known as ma huang and often described as the miracle fat burner – contains natural alkaloids and has been used by the Chinese in herbal medicines for thousands of years. Over the years, it has been used to treat various ailments, but today it is best known an aid to helping with weight loss.

Ephedra is not an innovative diet product.Many doctors and dietitians do not recommend taking ephedra. Despite their recommendations, more than 12 million Americans take ephedra, primarily to lose weight.

Apart from weight loss, ephedra has several other benefits. Many athletes and sports players regularly take ephedra not only to lose weight, but to help boost energy and enhance performance. It can certainly boost energy levels and increase metabolism, which helps the body to process food more efficiently.

Ephedra has other benefits which most people overlook, because of its amazing ability to help with weight loss. Consumption of ephedra can help to cure coughing and asthma by relaxing the air passage in the lungs. It can also relieve the effects of edema, a condition caused by excess fluid, by promoting increased urination.

There is no doubt of the herb’s usefulness and effectiveness as an aid in losing weight quickly and effectively. More than one expert considers ephedra to be the best method for losing weight. And most people take it sensibly and in moderation, with few side effects or adverse reactions. When used in the correct amounts and in moderation, ephedra helps the body to burn fat for energy. Ephedra is effective because it helps increase the breakdown of fatty tissues, suppresses the appetite and maintains energy levels. It also produces more body heat, which in turn burns more calories – a process known as thermogenesis.

However, ephedra can have many side effects if it is not ingested sensibly and in the correct dosage. Side effects can include headaches, dizziness, increased blood pressure, chest pain, stroke and seizures. Some experts have pointed out that many of these side effects result from other common substances – such as coffee – and are not unique to ephedra. One disadvantage of ephedra is that it is not suitable for everyone. It should not be taken by pregnant women or people suffering from such ailments as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease. And people who are using various other prescription drugs on a regular basis should not take ephedra.

Perhaps the most serious side effect of ephedra is its tendency to over stimulate the central nervous system, when ingested. This has the dual effect of increasing the heart ate and raising blood pressure, a potentially dangerous combination.

The controversy surrounding the so-called miracle fat burner is likely to be around for a while. If you are thinking of taking ephedra, always consult with your physician and make sure you have all the facts before making a decision. As with most supplements, you must have your ìbody foundationî ñ the training and nutrition – set before you will be able to determine any added benefit. Choose wisely, and decide if ephedra works for you!

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The Psychology Of Weight Loss

You see the razor-thin models gracing the covers of magazinesÖyou watch actors and actresses on the big screen who seem to never gain a pound. And you wonder: How do I differ from them? You may be surprised to learn that a number of famous people at one time had difficulty maintaining a healthy weight. But they were able to conquer their problem, thanks to a new-and-improved, healthy view of eating.

You may not realize it, but there is a certain psychology at work in successful weight loss. It is no surprise, then, that the magazine Psychology Today has explored the issue in-depth. In October of 2004, the magazine posted an article on its website detailing the experiences of Diane Berry, a nurse practitioner who studied women who had shed at least 15 pounds and had maintained their weight loss for an average of seven years.

The women shared some important things in common. For instance, they all achieved their weight loss through either Weight Watchers or TOPS, which meant that they had a firm support network as they tried to maintain their weight. The group meetings were highly important, because they learned to recognize that they were certainly not alone in their struggles with weight. The women were also quite unusual because up to 90 percent of individuals who have lost weight end up putting it back on within five years.

Another common trait of these women is that they appeared to undergo a profound mood shift as they made the transition from fat to thin. From all indications, they appeared to be depressed when they were heavy but, as they attempted to lose weight, their mood brightened.

For these women, healthy eating became a habitóa habit they refused to break. They themselves recognized the tremendous role that psychology plays in weight loss. They refused to give in to negative feelings of frustration and denial and chose a positive path instead. The women also made it a point to weigh themselves regularly so that they could chart their progress.

And they recognized that maintaining weight loss would be a lifetime struggle. They knew that they could not attempt a weight loss program then put it back on the shelf. They had to learn new eating patterns that they could continue week in and week out. In some cases, they likened their struggle to that of an alcoholic. In other words, they recognized the gravity of their problem and took steps to correct the situation.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of these womenís experiences was the fact that their weight loss actually came in spurts. At times, they regained their weight, but they did not let that deter them from their final goal. They simply viewed their setbacks as challenges that they needed to overcome. This may be the key psychological trait that separates successful dieters from unsuccessful onesóperseverance. In essence, these women were able to change their personalities in a positive way in order to achieve their long-term weight loss goals.

Another interesting aspect of this study was that it showed that the women who had undergone weight loss transformation were genuinely happy. This shows the tremendous psychological impact that weight loss can have on an individual. Once an individual is free from the burden of extra weight, he or she is better able to meet the challenges of life head-on. The dieter benefits from positive reinforcement, as relatives, friends, and co-workers congratulate him or her for the weight loss. In this way, losing weight can be quite a life-affirming experience and can lead to a more optimistic outlook on life.

It must be noted here that the psychology of weight loss is a complicated matter. There is no single ingredient that can turn a fat person into a thin one. However, recognizing that there is a psychological component to successful weight loss may, in fact, be half the battle. Once an individual recognizes that he or she is engaged in a psychological fight, he or she is better able to do battle. By retraining oneself to seek healthy approaches to diet, one can, in effect, mold oneself into a new individualóone that no longer lives to eat, but simply eats to live.

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Rid Belly Fat

Specialists have come to the conclusion that it is very difficult to rid belly fat if you don’t give up on refined processed carbohydrates (except for some occasional treats). Refined carbs include sugary sweets of all kinds as well as white flour products like pastas, breads, cookies etc. The problem with such foods is that they cause insulin resistance, which leads to the accumulation of fat around the abdomen or stomach area. Refined carbs should be replaced with fat-burning foods. Check out the fastest way to lose weight here…

There are lists with refined carbs and fat-burning foods available online. Use them and apply the information to your dietary plans. You’ll see results for yourself once you give yourself a new chance for trying a different approach to rid belly fat.

Stay well hydrated!

Drinking lots of water helps the body break down fat deposits more easily. Hydration also prevents electrolytic imbalance when you exercise, because minerals get lost through perspiration. Moreover, water and fresh fruit juices help flush toxins away from the system and improve digestion. Eliminate caffeine drinks and sugary beverages from your diet because they make you fat too.

Use cardio exercise to rid belly fat!

Regular cardiovascular workouts allow the body to lose excessive body fat. Yet, they also prevent the accumulation of more fat deposits on the abdomen. Cardio exercise includes brisk walking, cross-country skiing, swimming, dancing or even rough chores around the house such as lawn mowing.

Deal with food addiction and emotional eating!

Emotional eating is one of the major causes of weight gain. When you are too stressed and you don’t sleep enough, you might feel like taking refuge in food more often. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, yoga and meditation may help deal with such problems and rid belly fat no matter how stubborn it is.

Don’t put your hopes in ab workouts!

Contrary to popular belief, situps and crunches don’t rid belly fat because it’s impossible to target a specific body part when trying to lose weight. Don’t waste your time performing a hundred situps per day because you won’t get a thinner waistline. The only impact of such exercises is on the abdominal muscles; they do get stronger and firmer. Too bad that you can’t see them underneath the layers of fat!

In case you can’t organize yourself and work efficiently to rid belly fat, consider joining a professionally designed weight loss program in order to have the psychological support and the step-by-step guidance to achieve fitness goals.

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The Real Weight Loss Secret

Look around and you will see that you are surrounded by weight loss “secrets”, diet pills that imply they can do it all for you, drinks that will “help” you lose weight, doctors with “secret weight loss formulas”, fad diets that promise all kinds of wonderful weight loss effects…you can’t help but wonder who’s telling you the truth. Then there’s the biggest question of all. Is there such a thing as a weight loss secret?

Something is only a “secret” as long as no one knows about it. The “truth” about weight loss has been known for a long time, so it’s not really a secret.

If you take a look at the label of most diet pills, drinks, meal substitutes, diet books, and other weight loss problem, you will begin to notice that they often have one thing in common. Again and again, they have statements that say something to the effect of “…when used with exercise and proper nutrition.”

The secret is, that most, if not all of these diet products at best only ASSIST in what nature can do almost perfectly well without their help!

The basic biology and physics of weight gain and weight loss has been known for years! Even if your math wasn’t too good in school, this equation is easy. Take in more calories than you burn…you gain weight. Burn more calories than you take in…you lose weight. The problem, and it’s not a secret, is that we are human!

SO WHAT’S WRONG WITH BEING HUMAN, BUD!

There is nothing wrong with BEING human. In fact, sometimes I even talk to one. I have a couple of human friends, one lives next door (I think), and I would even let my daughter marry one. The problem is that each human is, as Sister Mary Fides used to drum into our teenage human skulls, unique. This means that if I show you the perfect weight loss program and it works like a charm for you, your next door neighbor might have a problem making that exact program work for her or him.

WHY WOULD A WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAM WORK FOR ONE PERSON AND NOT ANOTHER?

As Shakespeare has Cassius say in Julius Caesar, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves…!”

Now, I am NOT saying that it is YOUR FAULT, per se, but the difficulty of making one magic thing, even the perfect weight loss program, lies in the very uniqueness that makes us so human.

One person inherits some genes that tend to make them fatter than others. Another person would have been a lot smaller, but they were raised in a home where a type of cooking or lifestyle was common that encouraged them to grow fatter. Someone else experiences some severe emotional ups and downs that contribute to bad eating habits that cause them to gain weight. Nature designed some chemical changes in our bodies to meet certain needs, and we changed OUR natural surroundings so that these changes now work against us rather than serving us. And if any one of those isn’t enough, most people who are overweight actually have more than one of these things going on, and some of them actually increase the affect of other contributing factors!

We have other differences that make it difficult to create a one-size-fits-all weight loss program. Your brother-in-law loves to work out with weights, but that bores you to tears. Your neighbor has a Bowflex and you think it is great, but you travel a lot and can’t figure out how to take a Bowflex with you! Your cousin lost a lot of weight on a certain diet, but your metabolism is different, and you didn’t really lose any weight when you tried it. In fact, you tried diet after diet and actually GAINED weight! By the way, it is fairly common to gain weight when you try a lot of different diets. It’s slightly complicated to go into here, but often when you go on a diet and then come back off of it, your body has learned to get by on fewer calories. Once you go back to eating like you used to, it now has extra calories to store as fat. Remember our equations up above?

There are also many people who want the “lose 30 pounds in 30 days” promise to be true. They have been so upset over their weight for so long that they want to believe that almost any claim is true, no matter how silly it seems, or how dangerous to their health it actually is!

CAN’T I JUST CUT WAY BACK ON CALORIES?

Probably, you (and I) could stand to cut some of the calories out of our daily diet. However, there is a point at which the body resets some internal bells and whistles, and we may actually begin to gain weight. Also, cutting out food means cutting out the nutritional elements our body needs to be healthy.

WELL, I CAN’T JUST SPEND MY DAY EXERCISING FROM DAWN TO DUSK!

That was the other side of the equation, wasn’t it? Well, you’re absolutely correct, and I would begin to worry about you if you did. You don’t have to go to that extreme. There is a solution.

WHAT? YOU’LL SIGN ON AS MY PERSONAL TRAINER?

Nope! I’m too lazy for that, but YOU can sign on as your personal trainer. That is, you can do a little experimentation, find some activities you like and begin doing one or more of them on a regular basis…three or four times a week, let’s say. You could garden, ride a bike, play with the kids or grandkids, take a walk, do some yoga, lift weights…the list goes on. You don’t have to do all of them every day, and if you find one you really like, you can do it several times a week if you want. One thing to remember, of course, is that you should ease into any program and only increase it once you are sure that you are fine at the level you are at…and then, increase it gradually. I’ve seen some champion bodybuilders who started out lifting just the barbell with no weights on it at all, and I know of runners who started out by walking to the mailbox and back. In the army, I used to run six miles or more, but when I started running, I barely got a block down the road before I had to drop back to walking.

Start making some small changes to your diet as well. I am using the word “diet” in this case to mean the things you eat, not some particular diet. Start popping a multivitamin every day. You may find that helps make you feel a tiny bit more energetic. Cut out sugar. As much as I don’t like artificial sweeteners, they are probably going to be better for you than sugar. If, like me, you worry about the effects of artificial sweeteners, try stevia. My wife and I have been using it for some time. It took a little getting used to, but I have noticed a definite decrease in heartburn and carb cravings.

Educate yourself about nutrition and exercise. You don’t have to take a college course. If you are reading this online, you can go to webmd.com or mayoclinic.com/ and get a lot of great health, fitness, and weight loss information.

Read food labels, and start thinking about what you are putting in your mouth. Most of us can look at some foods and realize that they might not be good for us, at least not in large quantities, so cut you portion sizes. Don’t know what a portion size is? Look on the label!

Stay away from prepackaged foods, junk food, fast food, or learn enough about them to make intelligent choices.

SET SOME GOALS

This is where I’m supposed to tell you to decide to lose X number of pounds in Y number of days, right? Wrong. This is where I tell you to start setting some performance goals about how you are going to try to live. I say “try” because you WILL slip from time to time, and there will be times you will just have to make do in a situation and eat that Big Mac, darn it! Go ahead, make the sacrifice and eat it, but then get back on the wagon. Don’t worry about a Big Mac or a single bowl of ice cream or even a binge after you catch him/her cheating on you. The occasional dietary sin will not send you plunging back into fat hell…unless you let it.

ON THAT NOTE….

The point is that losing weight is going to happen today and tomorrow, and it is going to depend on the future choices you make, not on what the past has done to you.

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