Several years ago, when I transitioned from full-time status in a busy publishing house to working as an independent contractor based out of my home, I was ecstatic. I had grown a bit weary of the 9-to-5 grind, and I looked forward to the flexibility of my new working arrangement. Plus, I knew I was disciplined and organized enough that I wouldn’t have a problem with distractions, procrastination and the like.
In fact, I ended up having the opposite problem: I worked too many hours. I rarely closed the door to my office. I rushed to answer my office phone whenever it rang, regardless of day or time. I checked my e-mail relentlessly. In short, I let work merge into my home life. And my sense of serenity evaporated, right along with my safe haven, where I could unplug from the office.
If you, too, are finding it difficult to strike a healthy work-life balance—whether you are working from home or in an office —know that you are far from alone. According to a Harvard Business School survey, a full 94 percent of consultants and other professionals reported that they clock in at 50-plus hours per week; almost 50 percent said they work more than 65.1
Even worse, in our culture of the never-ending workday, many people don’t get the chance to truly unplug. According to a poll of more than 1,000 American employees, 27 percent said they check their phones for work-related issues within 15 minutes of waking up.2 And 82 percent report that they’ve handled work-related emails while on vacation!
Needless to say, a lack of work-life balance isn’t healthy … not for you, not for your home life and not for your significant other. But there are steps you can take—starting today—to bring more balance into your life. Here’s how.
1. Set reasonable work hours from the start.
If you’re new to a job, resist the temptation to work unreasonably long hours; doing so establishes a habit that can be difficult to break. What’s more, your co-workers may come to expect that those are the hours you’ll always keep. On the other hand, if you establish reasonable work hours from the beginning, you’re more likely to stick to them—and your office mates are more likely to respect them.
And if you think that working more hours makes you more productive, it’s worth rethinking. According to an article published in the Harvard Business Review, numerous studies have found that long hours don’t seem to equate to more work being accomplished.3 And it doesn’t stop there—stress caused by overwork may lead to a host of health problems including impaired sleep, diabetes, impaired memory and even heart disease.3
2. Establish end-of-workday routines.
Choose specific activities that you will do at the end of each day to reinforce that the workday is over. For instance, you might turn off your computer monitor, straighten your office and make a to-do list for the next day. Also, consider doing something symbolic as you arrive home. One dad I knew would pause on his way to the front door and place a hand on his favorite tree, mentally signifying that he was home—and that the day’s work was behind him.
3. Resolve not to check email or voicemail from home.
It’s impossible to achieve that vital disconnect from work—and gain work-life balance in the process—if you don’t make the commitment to leave work at work. Do everything you can not to check your email or voicemail once you leave the office or end your work day; if you must check it, resolve to do so only once. (To avoid conflict or unmet expectations, just be sure to alert your co-workers ahead of time.) Disconnecting from work—electronically, mentally and physically—is vital to recovering from work stress during non-work hours, research shows.4
4. Turn off your notifications.
Having a hard time ignoring your phone? Try turning it off when you get home—or, at a minimum, turn off your notifications.
5. Take time for yourself.
It can be hard to dedicate time for yourself when you’re juggling work and family demands and the multitude of duties that go along with them. But it’s vital that you find time to tend to your own needs. Even if it’s simply a warm bath with candles, a quiet walk around the neighborhood or a cup of tea in the early morning, try to find time for regular self-care … and give yourself the permission to do it.
6. Schedule leisure activities.
If it’s on your calendar, chances are better that you’ll actually exercise. Or go to lunch with a friend. Or have a date with your spouse.
7. Commit to taking a vacation at least once a year.
When I worked full-time, I became a hoarder when it came to my vacation days. I found a dozen different ways to rationalize not taking some much-needed time off, but the fact is, I just liked to see the hours accrue. Other than a few days here and there, I never quite got around to taking the vacation that I—and my family—needed and deserved.
Don’t make the same mistake I did. Realize that taking time away from the office is vital to achieving work-life balance, then commit to taking a vacation at least once a year. If budget is an issue, keep this in mind: Your vacation can be restful and restorative without breaking the bank (think camping, visiting friends and family or taking a road trip). Just be sure to leave the email and voicemail behind!
Remember, it’s never too late to make changes to improve your health and wellness. With the right mindset, the conviction to make it happen and some good old trial and error, you can achieve work-life balance … and make yourself—and your loved ones—happier and healthier in the process.
Life is all about balance! If you’re ready to start living a healthier lifestyle, Jenny Craig can help. Contact us to book your free appointment to meet with a personal weight loss consultant today.
You may have heard about the “Freshman 15,” the weight gain common among first-year college students due to the all-hours food culture of the college dorm lifestyle. But have you heard about “love weight”? According to new research, the tendency to gain weight when married or in a romantic relationship is a thing … and a significant one at that.
A poll of 2,000 Americans who are married or in a relationship, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Jenny Craig, found that more than three-quarters of respondents—a full 79 percent—have gained weight since being married or in a relationship. In fact, the study found the average person has gained 36 pounds since being with their current partner, with 17 pounds gained in the first year alone.
The poll found that men are particularly susceptible to “love weight.” Sixty-nine percent of male respondents reported gaining weight during the first year of a relationship, compared with 45 percent of women. And they put on nearly twice as much weight as women during the first year of marriage, with an average of 22 pounds and 13 pounds gained, respectively.
However, it’s five years into marriage when people of both sexes tend to gain the most weight, the survey found, with starting a family being the No. 1 reason for weight gain.
But there is hope. “The data shows that while people have gained weight in a relationship, they are recognizing that they need to lose it, and that is great news for their health,” says Monty Sharma, president and CEO of Jenny Craig.
In other words, putting on weight in a relationship is not a foregone conclusion—and if you do gain “love weight,” that doesn’t mean you’re destined to keep it on forever. Most respondents—55 percent—say they have lost weight in the past year, with the average person having lost 16 pounds.
And that’s good news for both of you. “There are long-term negative side effects of weight gain—such as high blood pressure, sleep apnea, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer and more,” says Dr. Pamela Peeke, an assistant clinical professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and chairman of the Jenny Craig Science Advisory Board. “But by engaging in healthy habits earlier in your relationship, couples can potentially prevent these problems while also building a strong foundation for optimal health and wellness.”
Read on for ways you and your partner can help prevent love weight together … and help make you, and your relationship, healthier—and maybe even happier—in the process.
1. Make a commitment to better health with your partner.
If you’ve ever felt you were susceptible to your mate’s less-than-healthy habits, you’re not alone. Researchers have found that married couples, as well as those living together, are at risk of adopting each other’s unhealthy habits, such as those related to exercise, food consumption, sleep patterns and smoking.1
But that doesn’t mean you’re destined to become unhealthy. A study on “social contagion” among married or romantic partners found that while having an obese spouse or live-in partner increases your risk of obesity by almost 40 percent, couples can also have a positive influence on each other, especially related to diet and exercise.2 For instance, the researchers found that new couples are likely to develop healthy changes together, such as eating more fruits and vegetables, reducing their fat intake and avoiding fast food. They also found that if one person is trying to lose weight, their partner may undertake positive weight-loss behaviors as well. If one partner has good exercise habits, for example, the other is likely to develop a healthy level of physical activity too.
2. Consider working out with your significant other.
The poll conducted for Jenny Craig found that more than one-third of respondents—34 percent—had adopted a less active lifestyle since being in their current relationship. So why not make a commitment—together—to increase the amount of exercise you get? Even better, try working out with your significant other: Research shows that exercising with your partner can make you more likely to exercise than if you were to work out alone. It can also improve your mood.3
Working out with your better half may also help improve your relationship, especially if you try a new activity together. Studies have shown that couples tend to feel more in love with their partner, and more satisfied with their relationship, after taking part—as a couple—in a novel physical challenge or activity.4
3. Develop healthy eating habits.
To ensure a healthy eating pattern, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends that you limit saturated and trans fats, added sugars and sodium. You should also be sure your diet includes the following foods5:
Vegetables, including dark green, red and orange, beans and peas, and starchy types.
Fruits, especially whole fruits.
Grains, at least half of which are whole grains.
Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese or fortified soy beverages.
A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, nuts and seeds.
If you’re looking for ways to incorporate healthier meals into your routine, Jenny Craig follows expert guidelines with chef-crafted, nutritionally balanced, ready-made meals.
4. Eat in more often.
A full 70 percent of the Jenny Craig poll respondents reported that their weight gain was caused in large part by eating out often and trying new food and restaurants together. Research bears this out, as eating out has long been implicated as a factor in Americans’ battle with obesity.6 In fact, research shows that people tend to consume 200 more calories per day when they eat out, compared to when they eat meals at home.7 Meals eaten out also tend to contain more cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium, the researchers found.
If you have difficulty finding the time to cook (and 30 percent of married respondents do), you can still eat healthfully while keeping the shopping, food prep and cooking to a minimum. “The best way to start weight loss is with the right nutrition and exercise, and Jenny Craig incorporates both into our program alongside dedicated support for each individual,” says Sharma. “Our program helps couples develop a healthy relationship with all foods, which we know is something people want today.”
5. Keep your relationship strong.
Maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner can bring untold benefits, including less stress, healthier behaviors and a greater sense of purpose.8 What’s more, research shows that having a good marriage can actually help keep you from gaining weight.9 Researchers found that the better and more supportive a person’s marriage is, the less likely that person is to become obese in middle age.
As you and your partner get on the path to good health, keep this in mind: People who eat healthfully and exercise with their significant other are more than twice as likely to report that they’ve lost weight in the past year than people who don’t, according to the poll conducted for Jenny Craig. What’s more, couples who exercise and eat healthy together are almost twice as likely to say they’re consistently happy in their relationship than couples who don’t.
Peeke adds, “We know that close relationships affect the health outcomes of individuals. This data is a clear indicator that couples who support each other in a healthy lifestyle together can reap the benefits of happiness together as well.”
Do you or your partner want to find a healthier path together? Contact Jenny Craig to get started on your journey today!
When my sister Julie was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago, it was pretty scary. Even though the doctors caught it early and her prognosis was good, hearing the news still felt like someone had punched me in the gut—the ‘C’ word does that to you, I guess.
But I’m happy to report that like so many women today, Julie had a great outcome. After a successful lumpectomy and seven weeks of radiation—and, due to her tumor being estrogen-receptive, a long course of tamoxifen to halt her production of estrogen and reduce the risk of the disease returning—she is cancer-free. In fact, now that she has passed that all-important five-year mark, her doctors consider her to be cured.
Still, she stays vigilant. She watches her breasts closely (“my girls,” as she refers to them), gets regular mammograms and sees her oncologist yearly. And despite some unsavory side effects such as hot flashes and headaches, she will continue to take tamoxifen until she completes her full 10-year course. As Julie knows, despite the incredible advances in detection and treatment of breast cancer, it is up to her to make sure that she—and her girls—stay healthy.
We’d like to help you keep healthy, too. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here are the latest recommendations on what you can do to help keep your breasts—and the rest of you—in top form.
Watch Your Breasts
According to the American Cancer Society1, you should become intimately familiar with how your breasts look and feel—regardless of your age—so if you do notice any changes, you can act quickly. You should watch your breasts closely for any of the following changes:
Changes to your nipples (such as if they turn inward or retract, or if the skin gets red or scaly).
Discharge from your nipples.
Lumps in your breasts.
Pain anywhere in your breasts.
Swelling in or around your breasts, armpits or collarbones.
Thickening or redness of the skin on your breasts (often referred to as an orange-peel appearance).
Warmth or itching of your breasts.
Keep in mind that non-cancerous breast conditions are very common and most breast changes are benign.2 Still, if you notice any changes, it’s important to follow up with your doctor right away.
Stay on Top of Screening Tests
Once you reach your 40s, it’s time to start considering—or getting—screening tests, usually mammograms. According to the National Cancer Institute3, screening mammograms can help detect breast cancer earlier, in turn allowing for earlier treatment. In fact, research4 has shown that screening mammography helps reduce death from breast cancer among women aged 40 to 74, particularly for those over the age of 50.
These are the American Cancer Society’s guidelines5 for women who have an average risk of breast cancer:
If you are between the ages of 40 and 44: You should have the choice to have yearly mammograms.
If you are between the ages of 45 and 54: You should have a mammogram every year.
If you are 55 or older: You should have a mammogram every two years—or you can continue yearly screening.
Women who are at high risk for breast cancer should get an MRI and a mammogram every year, typically starting at age 30. This includes women who:
Have a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation (based on having had genetic testing)
Have a first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister, or child) with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, and have not had genetic testing themselves. Learn more about genetic testing and if it’s right for you.
Have a lifetime risk of breast cancer of about 20% to 25% or greater. Talk to your healthcare provider about assessment tools and your family history to help determine your risk
Had radiation therapy to the chest when they were between the ages of 10 and 30 years
Have Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome, or have first-degree relatives with one of these syndromes
Know if You Are at Increased Risk
Following are some of the factors that increase your risk of developing breast cancer. If you have any of them, it pays to remain extra alert to the breast changes mentioned above—and to be extra diligent about screening tests as well. And as always, work with your medical provider to help guide you to take the best course of action for your specific medical history.
Being older: According to the American Cancer Society6, most breast cancers occur in women aged 55 or older.
A family history of breast cancer: If you have a mother, sister or daughter (called a first-degree relative) who had breast cancer, your risk is almost doubled. And if you have two first-degree relatives with breast cancer, your risk increases almost threefold.7
A close male relative with breast cancer: According to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center7, men can get breast cancer, too—although it’s much less common than in women. If you have a male relative who has had breast cancer, you may be more likely to develop it, too—especially if it’s a close relative, such as a brother, father or son. MD Anderson recommends talking to your doctor about genetic testing if you do have a male relative with breast cancer.
Your heredity: Approximately 5 percent to 10 percent of breast cancers are likely hereditary, meaning they are caused by defects in genes passed from one or both parents.7 The most common of these is the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation; if you carry this gene, you have about a 70 percent chance of developing breast cancer by the age of 80. You are also more likely to develop breast cancer at a younger age and to have cancer in both breasts and have a higher risk of developing some other cancers, mainly ovarian cancer.
A personal history of breast cancer: Unfortunately, if you have had breast cancer before, you are more likely to develop it in the future.7
Starting menstruation early or menopause late: If you started getting periods before the age of 12, or if you went through menopause after the age of 55, you have a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer.7
Help Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer
While there’s no absolute way to prevent breast cancer, there are steps you can take to help reduce your risk of developing it. Here are several:
1. Limit your alcohol consumption.
According to the American Cancer Society,8 alcohol consumption is clearly linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. In fact, women who have two or three drinks per day have about a 20 percent higher risk than women who don’t drink at all. If you do drink, the ACS recommends having no more than one drink a day.
2. Reach a healthy weight.
Being overweight or obese after menopause increases your risk of breast cancer.9 Research also shows that having metabolic syndrome—which is often linked to obesity10—was associated with a 13 percent increased risk in a 2018 study.11
What’s more, a new study published in the American Cancer Society’s journal Cancer found that postmenopausal women who lost at least 5% of their body weight over a three year period had a 12% lower risk of developing breast cancer than those whose weight remained the same.12-13
3. Eat healthfully.
According to breastcancer.org,14 researchers are studying possible links between diet and breast cancer, with some studies suggesting that very low-fat diets may reduce your risk. In the meantime, they recommend that you:
Eat at least five cups of fruits and vegetables a day.
Limit saturated fat to less than 10 percent of your total daily calories.
Limit your fat intake to about 30 grams per day.
Avoid trans fats, processed meats, and charred or smoked foods.
Eat foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as seafood, nuts and seeds, and plant oils.15
4. Stay active.
According to research,16 physical activity is linked with a lower risk of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society7 recommends that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity every week.
5. Consider your choice of birth control.
Birth control that uses hormones—including oral contraceptives, birth control shots and hormonal IUDs—might increase your risk of breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.17 But also take into consideration that older studies have linked hormonal contraceptives to a lower risk of getting ovarian, endometrial, and colorectal cancers later in life. It’s important to discuss the benefits and risks of hormonal contraceptives with your doctor.
The thought of breast cancer can be scary, but keep in mind these statistics from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation18: If you are 20, your absolute risk of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years is 0.06 percent. If you are 30, your absolute risk is 0.4 percent. And if you are 40, your absolute risk of developing the disease in the next 10 years is 1.5 percent. And even if you are one of the estimated 12.4 percent of women who will develop breast cancer in their lifetime,19 keep in mind that advances in diagnosis and treatment have led to huge successes in women not only surviving the disease, but thriving. Just like Julie.
Exercise is great for building muscle, but did you know it’s just as important for your bones? Your bones are made up of living tissue that grows and eventually weakens with age. In a weakened state, bones may be more prone to fracturing and can cause injuries that take time to recover. Often, the culprit is osteoporosis, a disease that affects bone strength. Research suggests you may be able to improve your bone density by participating in weight-bearing activities.1 Read on as we discuss the basics of osteoporosis, risk factors and five weight-bearing exercises you can incorporate into your daily routine to potentially reduce your risk.
As you get older, it’s not uncommon for your bones to weaken over time. In their 30s, young adults who regularly exercise are more likely to have achieved greater “peak bone mass,” or their maximum bone strength and density, than those who do not, according to the National Institutes of Health. Along with their age, family history and other risk factors, those who haven’t reached peak bone mass may be more at risk of developing osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is characterized by the body making too little bone or losing too much bone.1 In some cases, both may occur. When bones become less dense, they’re weaker and more likely to break. Under a microscope, healthy bones resemble a honeycomb. But as they deteriorate, weakened bones develop holes and gaps much larger than healthy ones.2 Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis compared to men since they tend to have smaller, thinner bones and experience bone loss due to a decline in estrogen when they reach menopause. 3,4
Aside from age, the National Osteoporosis Foundation reports several health conditions, including autoimmune, digestive, and blood disorders, may increase your risk of osteoporosis. Per the foundation, nearly 54 million Americans “have osteoporosis and low bone mass, placing them at an increased risk for osteoporosis.” The foundation estimates about one in two women and up to one in four men, age 50 and older, will break a bone due to this condition. Known as a “silent disease,” osteoporotic bone loss occurs without symptoms, so it’s important to get screened.5
It’s possible to treat and potentially prevent osteoporosis with increased nutrition, medications and exercise. One of the best types of exercises for osteoporosis are weight-bearing activities. To maintain strong bones, try incorporating these activities into your lifestyle.
What are weight-bearing activities?
Weight-bearing exercises force your body to work against gravity while staying upright. This type of movement is great for bone health, since it may help to build and maintain bone density.6 Bones, just like muscles, respond to exercise and can become stronger. When you apply force to your bones through exercise, your bone cells sense the impact and send signals to create more bone.7 Regular exercise may also help prevent future bone loss, especially in men and women over the age of 20.8 Wondering where to start? We’ve compiled five great weight-bearing activities below!
5 weight bearing exercises for osteoporosis
There are many different types of weight-bearing activities you can incorporate into your lifestyle to promote healthy, strong bones. High-impact exercises exert more force on bones, while low-impact exercises offer gentler alternatives for those who need to be more careful. If you’ve broken a bone due to osteoporosis, or are at risk of developing this disease, check with your healthcare provider before attempting any of these exercises.9
High-impact weight-bearing exercises
Want to improve your bone strength and enjoy the beauty of nature? Hiking could be the right weight-bearing activity for you. Trails are often rated easy to difficult, so you can choose one that corresponds to your fitness level. Hiking in an area that has elevation changes may do even more to improve bone strength. Inclines from downhill and uphill areas will increase the impact you exert on your bones, which in turn, may help increase bone density.1
For a lively and fun activity, dancing is the perfect fit. Not only is dancing a great way to work up a sweat, but it’s also an excellent exercise for improving cardiovascular health and potentially strengthening your bones.11 Grab your dancing shoes and check out a local class with your fitness buddy!
Jogging and running are tried-and-true weight-bearing activities that you can incorporate into your lifestyle, depending on your level of physical fitness. However, if you suffer from injuries, especially knee problems, that may be worsened by high-impact exercise, consult with a physician before starting a fitness program. For a lower-impact version, try an elliptical machine at your local gym.
Low-impact weight-bearing exercises
4. Brisk Walking
Walking is a great low-impact alternative to running. It may seem like a simple exercise, but regular brisk walks offer a tremendous amount of health benefits. In one study, brisk walking was shown to reduce post-menopausal women’s risk of hip fractures by 40 percent!12 One of the best parts about walking is it can be done anywhere, whether it’s around your neighborhood, at work, down by the beach, or at the gym.
Try yoga for a boost in your bone health while increasing your flexibility, balance and strength. Yoga’s many poses may help to strengthen the bones in different areas prone to fracture, including the hips and spine.13 If you’re new to yoga, don’t worry! Your practice can be easily tailored to your fitness level, and there’s a variety of styles to choose from.
Weight-bearing exercises are great activities to incorporate into your day, and they may even help boost your bone health! Want even more? Check out these exercises that may improve your mood and complement your weight loss efforts.
If you’re looking to create some new healthy habits to feel better, Jenny Craig can help. Contact us to book a free appointment and speak with a personal consultant today.
It seems like everyone’s talking about antioxidants: You can find their benefits touted on skincare products, supplements and even fresh foods. There’s a reason why they’re such a popular topic—the health benefits of antioxidants have been widely studied and debated, with varying results.
So what exactly are antioxidants and what benefits do they provide? We tapped our Registered Dietitian, Briana Rodriquez, to give us a little more background on the healthy substances.
The truth about antioxidants & free radicals
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are chemical substances that may help prevent or delay certain types of cell damage. They can be man-made, like a supplement, or appear naturally in food, including vegetables and fruit, or even coffee and tea. Common antioxidants include vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene.1 Rodriquez explains, “Think of antioxidants as little cleaners, they go into the cells and remove waste products (free radicals).”
What are free radicals?
Free radicals are unstable and highly reactive molecules within the body’s cells, due to a missing electron.2 They’re formed by the body’s natural metabolic processes or from environmental sources, including pollution, cigarette smoking and even X-rays. They cause damage by attacking important molecules, including DNA and proteins, by donating or accepting their electrons.
According to Rodriquez, “free radicals attach, bind, and then ultimately damage normal cells in the body.” And while it’s normal for the body to have some free radicals, when free radicals overpower the body’s ability to regulate them, oxidative stress occurs.
To fight oxidative stress, some antioxidants donate their electrons to free radicals, helping to defend the body’s other cells.2 Oxidative stress is believed to be one of the factors responsible for a host of health concerns including cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, among others.3
A common misconception about antioxidants, free radicals and oxidative stress is that antioxidants are “good,” while free radicals and oxidation are “bad.” These chemicals and the process of oxidation all naturally occur within your body. When they become unbalanced, these factors may negatively impact your health.
Your body is made of trillions of cells, which interact with the environment in many ways. The body regularly experiences oxidation, which is a natural chemical process. Oxidation is similar to the reaction that happens to a sliced apple: The areas exposed to air turn brown.4
Antioxidant health benefits
Can antioxidants help me feel better?
Some research suggests that antioxidants may be able to counteract or ease symptoms of diseases caused by oxidative stress; however, more research is needed to clearly understand the benefits of antioxidants when it comes to disease prevention.5
Rodriquez adds, “There’s no one magical food that will make you feel better, but a diet that is rich in vegetables and fruits (which contain antioxidants) is certainly going to help in several ways like regulating blood sugar levels, providing energy and potentially aiding in weight loss.”
Can antioxidants be used for weight loss?
A study in 2012 explored the weight-loss effects of polyphenol-rich pomegranate juice and pomegranate molasses, a concentrated form of the juice, on mice.6 (Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant found in most diets.) The study found that the mice treated with pomegranate juice and molasses could resist weight gain and jumpstart fat loss.7 This study has only been done with animals, so more research is needed to better understand antioxidants’ effects on weight loss in humans.
Antioxidant-rich foods to try
While you can take certain supplements to receive antioxidants, it’s very easy to incorporate antioxidant-rich foods into your meals. Rodriquez’s choice? Coffee and berries!
“Coffee—black coffee—has phytonutrients and polyphenols that are beneficial for the liver. Don’t go too crazy though, coffee still has caffeine, so it is still good to be aware of your intake. Berries would be my next favorite—blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. Have a serving each day!”
Blueberries are not only good sources of vitamin K, which may assist with blood flow, but they’re also known for their potential anti-inflammatory benefits.
New findings suggest green vegetables, like spinach, may help protect the eyes against high-energy blue and ultraviolet light, since they’re a rich source of lutein.8 For a flavorful twist on fruit salad, you can combine antioxidant-rich foods by creating a smoothie bowl with strawberries, pomegranate seeds, blueberries and pineapple. Or create a savory side of artichokes, tomatoes and garlic for an extra dose of polyphenols, which may help with inflammation.9
Invest in your health
When adding antioxidant-rich foods to your meals, it’s important to maintain a nutritional balance and to eat mindfully. You’ll want to include a variety of foods to receive optimal nutrients and antioxidants to help you get to your health goals! Rodriquez notes, “I would love to see people eating at least three servings of fruits and vegetables each day.”
For delicious recipes featuring fresh, antioxidant-packed ingredients, check out our Simply Inspired recipes on the blog. And for support during your weight loss journey, contact a Jenny Craig consultant to learn more ways we can help you reach your goals.
 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/ <br>
 https://nccih.nih.gov/health/antioxidants/introduction.htm <br>
 https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/10/antioxidants-explained-why-these-compounds-are-so-important/247311/ <br>
 https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/antioxidants/ <br>
 http://japsonline.com/admin/php/uploads/500_pdf.pdf <br>
 http://japsonline.com/admin/php/uploads/500_pdf.pdf <br>
 https://www.aoa.org/news/clinical-eye-care/blue-light-nemesis-green-veggies-carotenoids <br>
 https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319728.php <br>
If you’re like many Americans living in today’s busy world, you may have developed an all-too-familiar habit of eating out, whether you opt for fast food, restaurant meals or takeout. After a long day at work and tending to your never-ending to-do list, it’s hard to argue with the convenience of having somebody else prepare your meals.
You may have even rationalized to yourself that eating out doesn’t really cost that much more than meals prepared at home—or having healthy, ready-made meals on hand. And the meals don’t differ that much when it comes to healthiness, right?
Unfortunately, that is not the case. While it’s true that the cost of food in general can be pricey, eating out, on average, is substantially more expensive than if you were to prepare your own meals.1 What’s more, restaurant fare of all types has been implicated—for years—as a likely factor in our nation’s obesity epidemic.2
Here’s a look at how consistently eating out can potentially harm your budget and your health, and how eating healthfully might actually save you money in the long run.
There’s just no way around it: Food can be expensive.
And chances are, it eats up a lot of your budget. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics3, in 2015, U.S. households spent an average 12.5 percent of their income—$7,023—on food. Of that, 43 percent, or $3,008, was spent on food outside of the home, such as in restaurants. In higher-income households, 11.2 percent of the total income was spent on food, while the amount of money spent on food outside the home totaled nearly half of the household food budget.
The cost of food is on the rise, particularly for restaurant meals.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service4 reports that in August 2018, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for restaurant meals was 2.6 percent higher than in August 2017. The CPI for store-bought food was also up, but only by 0.5 percent over the same time frame.
Looking ahead, the USDA says that the price growth of store-bought food may continue to stay low. It predicts that these prices will rise between 1 percent and 2 percent in 2019, and that restaurant prices will go up between 2 percent and 3 percent.
The cost of eating out may be higher than you think.
The average price for dinner in a full-service U.S. restaurant was $40.53 per person in 2013.5 In 2015, the average cost of a fast-food meal for one ranged from $3.86 to $14.6 Needless to say, that’s a lot of dough, especially if you’re eating out several times per week—which, research shows, may be the case. According to a 2016 Gallup poll7, 61 percent of Americans state that they ate at a restaurant at least once in the previous week; 16 percent ate out three times or more.
Eating out can be bad for your waistline.
Eating out has long been implicated as a factor in Americans’ battle with obesity.2 And according to a 2016 study8 that looked at restaurant meals in three geographically diverse U.S. cities—San Francisco, Boston and Little Rock—portion sizes in general are too large. In fact, a full 92 percent of all the meals analyzed “exceeded typical energy requirements for a single eating occasion,” the researchers reported.
Another study9, from 2015, found that Americans tend to consume 200 more calories per day when they eat out compared to when they eat meals at home. Meals eaten out also contain more cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium, according to the same study. And don’t think that avoiding fast-food places can put you in the clear: The results were similar whether people ate meals from fast-food or full-service restaurants.
Free-flowing beverages don’t help, either. A 2017 study10 found that fast-food customers who chose to refill their soft drinks consumed, on average, 29 additional ounces of beverages and 250 more calories (all from those beverages) than customers who did not get a refill.
Poor food is a driver of poor health.
According to experts from Tufts University11, food is the top cause of poor health in America. They state that an estimated 700,000 deaths may be influenced by dietary habits each year, and that a wide variety of conditions—brain function, cancers, heart disease, immune function, obesity, stroke and Type 2 diabetes—are affected by diet. Their research also suggests that almost half of all U.S. deaths due to diabetes, heart disease and stroke are caused by poor diets.
Poor diets cause billions in healthcare and other costs.
The Tufts researchers11 have found that diet-related conditions account for billions of dollars in healthcare costs. Each year, they say, cardiovascular diseases alone are responsible for approximately $200 billion in healthcare costs, plus $125 billion in lost productivity and other indirect costs.
The good news
Now for the good news: Eating healthfully doesn’t have to break the bank, especially if you cook your own meals at home or even outsource your meal planning. A recent study by Visa12 showed that the average American spends on average $78 for lunches consumed away from home over one week—but, by brown bagging it, they could be saving almost $34 a week just on lunch, with the average meal costing around $6.30 per day.
And if you’re in the habit of ordering meals to be delivered from a restaurant, hold onto your hat: The cost is almost five times higher than if you were to prepare the same meal at home.13 One 2018 analysis showed that having a meal of fish with kale and rice delivered came with a price tag of $25.94. If you were to make the same meal yourself, it would cost $3.94. That’s a savings of $22—for one meal!
Tips to Help You Eat Healthfully on a Budget
To help you save money while eating healthfully, the National Institutes of Health suggests the following14:
Consider generic or store brands.
These usually cost less than name brands.
Try to buy in bulk.
Prices are almost always lower if you buy larger quantities—just beware of spoilage if you buy perishable items and make sure to keep an eye on portion sizes when preparing food.
Buy less-expensive fruits and vegetables.
Apples, bananas, cabbage, carrots, dark-green leafy vegetables, green peppers, oranges and sweet potatoes are often more affordable than other types of produce.
Ignore the snacks at the check-out stand.
Those tempting treats are put there for a reason: impulse buying! Plus, they’re usually less-than-stellar options including candies and other low nutrient foods.
Make healthy choices.
Load up on fruits, veggies and natural low-fat dairy products at the grocery store. Try to avoid purchasing (or do so in moderation) processed foods like baked goods and chips. If you’re looking for healthier versions of your favorite snacks, Jenny Craig offers a variety of options to choose from.
Convenience of takeout without the cost
If you still like the convenience of not having to cook your own meals, you don’t have to resort to eating out. Jenny Craig, for instance, offers around 100 healthy, delicious, chef-designed meals and snacks…all for about $20 per day.15
And if you’re looking to lose weight, you should know that Jenny Craig has been ranked a top diet by U.S. News and World Report for eight years in a row.16
We hope we’ve convinced you of all the good reasons to skip the takeout, the fast food and the restaurant meals as your go-to eating plan, and that you’re inspired to start eating more healthfully—and more frugally. Your waistline and your wallet will thank you!
If you’re interested in learning more about healthy, ready-to-go meals, contact us to set up a free appointment.
 https://www.forbes.com/sites/priceonomics/2018/07/10/heres-how-much-money-do-you-save-by-cooking-at-home/ - 1d23cfe335e5
You’ve probably heard about melatonin, a hormone your body produces at night to help you get your beauty sleep. But did you know there’s a link between melatonin and weight loss? That’s right: Scientists are finding that the “sleep hormone” is intricately connected to metabolism and weight loss, and that it plays a role in other important body processes as well.1
Read on as we discuss how melatonin works in the body—and the many ways it affects your metabolism, sleep and natural body rhythms. We’ll also look at how you can optimize your own production of this important hormone to help you along your weight loss journey.
How Melatonin Works in Your Body
1. It’s intricately linked to circadian rhythms.
According to the National Sleep Foundation2, melatonin is produced and released in a daily circadian rhythm—the natural 24-hour cycle of light and darkness that helps to regulate the sleep/wake cycle that has been linked to weight loss. The gland in your brain that controls the production and release of melatonin is activated around sundown, when it begins to release the hormone into the bloodstream, helping to prepare your body for sleep. Melatonin levels rise sharply at around 9 p.m. and stay elevated for approximately 12 hours, until levels begin to drop to barely detectable daytime levels.
2. It promotes sleep.
Naturally secreted by your pineal gland, melatonin helps facilitate sleep. This is important for a number of health reasons, including that studies have found a link between length and quality of sleep and weight loss.3 What’s more, researchers have found that even partial sleep deprivation, if chronic, can increase the risk of obesity and diabetes.4
3. It may boost the production of a good type of body fat.
Although more research is needed, initial studies on animals5 have shown that melatonin increases the amount of beige fat—sometimes referred to as brown fat—in the body. This type of fat helps to burn calories instead of storing them, unlike the more dangerous white fat (usually found around the abdominal region).6 The researchers found that melatonin does this by inducing the “browning” of white fat, actually transforming it into the healthier, fat-burning type.
4. It may help reduce body weight.
In a small study7 of postmenopausal women, researchers found that subjects who took a daily melatonin supplement experienced reduced body weight, along with an improvement in sleep quality, after 24 weeks. The researchers state that melatonin secretion begins to decline with age, primarily affecting postmenopausal women—which may help explain the tendency to gain weight after menopause.
Research8 shows that suppression of melatonin—often brought on by night-time light—can cause significant shifts in the circadian rhythm. Irregular circadian rhythms are linked to a range of health problems, including depression, diabetes, obesity and sleep disorders.9
5. It helps prevent insulin resistance.
According to research10, melatonin is at least partly responsible for regulating normal metabolic processes related to the action of insulin. If melatonin production is reduced, the researchers say, insulin resistance and glucose intolerance can result. Both of these conditions are strongly linked to obesity.
How to Boost Melatonin Naturally
Melatonin plays a vital role in so many different body processes—so how can you naturally optimize yours? Here are a few ways you can boost the production of this beneficial hormone and potentially your health and weight loss along the way.
Avoid light when sleeping.
Melatonin is only produced in a relatively dark environment; sunlight and indoor lighting prevent its release.11 Make sure you sleep in a comfortable, dark room, and protect yourself from outside light, such as bright porch lights. Also, try to avoid screen time—whether TV, computer or phone—for at least an hour before bed, as the blue light these devices emit can dramatically affect the production and release of melatonin.12Read these other sleep hygiene tips to get a better night’s sleep tonight.
Research from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine13 also shows that exposure to light during sleep may increase insulin resistance. In fact, the researchers found that just one night of light exposure had an adverse effect on measures of insulin resistance. While the researchers state that the impact they witnessed is “acute,” they say more research is needed to determine whether chronic exposure to light during sleep has long-term effects on metabolic function.
Get bright light early in the day.
Get out into the sunlight in the morning—or, if you are unable to get outside, seek out a bright indoor light. Research14 shows that exposure to bright light early in the day causes melatonin to be produced earlier in the evening—and that sleep comes more easily.
Get regular exercise.
Researchers15 have found that just one hour of moderate exercise “contributed significantly” to the amount of melatonin produced at night. Use these simple tips to sneak more activity into your day.
Eat the right foods.
Experts16 say that the long-term safety of melatonin supplements hasn’t been established. To boost your melatonin naturally, focus on these foods, which are some of the highest in melatonin17:
Nuts, particularly pistachios
We hope you found these tips and information helpful. While more research is needed to better understand all the health benefits surrounding melatonin, it’s clear that the hormone plays an important role when it comes to your health.
If you’re thinking about making a lifestyle change to improve your health, Jenny Craig can help. Contact us to book a free appointment and get started today.
It’s the clock that keeps on ticking: your circadian rhythm. This innate 24-hour cycle runs in every cell and every organ of your body1, gently dictating when to fall asleep, when to wake, and when to eat—and regulates many critical functions like hormone levels, activity, body temperature, sleep and metabolism.2
And evidence-based science says that following its powerful and natural rhythm might have positive implications for your health.3
Think about it: So many things go well when the timing is just right. You make your flight connection; run into an old acquaintance you’d have missed if you had taken a different route; find a $20 bill in the pocket of your jeans on the same day you have no time to get to the bank.
Sleep and circadian rhythms
One example you may be well familiar with is your light-related circadian rhythm, (otherwise known as your sleep-wake cycle), which rotates between drowsiness and alertness at regular intervals throughout the night and day.
Your body responds naturally to that inner clock by feeling awake around the same times each day and feeling drowsy or all-out exhausted at various intervals (usually after lunch—hello, 3 p.m. slump—and in the middle of the night). By following that natural rhythm, and timing your meals around it, you can reap the benefits of working with your metabolism when it’s most active, and allowing your cells to rest and regenerate overnight, once your metabolism tapers. The next day, instead of waking up feeling bloated from a late-night meal, you can wake feeling well-rested, energized and at the top of your game.
It pays to pay attention
Ignore this natural rhythm and you may pay a price: sleep deprivation and the ensuing health complications that can accompany it. Blood pressure can spike, symptoms of depression may hit; your hunger hormones can be thrown out of whack and your blood sugar control could plummet4, setting the stage for type-2 diabetes, according to the National Sleep Foundation.5 Indeed, missing just one night of sleep can set an otherwise healthy person into a prediabetic state, according to experts at Johns Hopkins.6
It’s no wonder scientists say that if these rhythms are disrupted, your health and well-being may suffer, impacting cell repair and possibly even your longevity.7,8
How time-restricted feeding fits into your circadian rhythm
Time-restricted feeding, also referred to as TRF, is a type of intermittent fasting that focuses on an eating timeframe. Many experts feel—just like sleeping—aligning your eating patterns with your body clocks paves the way for your body to function at its best.9
Many studies10 demonstrate a strong link between metabolism and circadian rhythm. Respecting this relationship and working together with your body clock can contribute to weight loss, and may even lower the risk of metabolic diseases like diabetes, too. This is especially important, given the CDC’s latest report estimates that more than 100 million Americans are now living with diabetes or prediabetes.
One study11 found by limiting the eating timeframe of mice to an 8-12-hour window, they were able to lose weight faster than the control group that grazed as they pleased. And another, published in the International Journal of Obesity, found that the timing of meals (specifically eating earlier in the day vs. later) had a positive effect on the weight loss.12 Still another13 found that people who followed time-restricted feeding had lower insulin, lower blood pressure and reduced levels of oxidative stress. (Oxidative stress is implicated in diseases like diabetes and hypertension14.)
The complex relationship between your biology and the clock that is silently running in the background of your brain has wide and alarming implications for your health. As evidence mounts that timing is everything when it comes to eating and good health—and that it’s not just about what you eat, but when you eat15 - listening to the tick-tock of your inner clock and incorporating time-restricted feeding into your life may be more than just food for thought.
Are you ready to start improving your health by eating nutritious meals and focusing on weight loss? Jenny Craig’s newest program, Rapid Results, is based off innovative research on circadian rhythm, which was awarded the Nobel prize in 2017. Contact us today to start your journey towards better health!