Feeling fat is a drag on your self-esteem, saps your motivation and makes you think you're too klutzy for the basketball court or that aerobics class you've been eyeing. If that's what's keeping you on the couch watching "The Biggest Loser" rather than trying to be one, we've got a surprise for you.
What you don't see on TV is that even the top losers start out slowly, not with 20 lunges. If you're very overweight and haven't been physically active in a long time, start slowly, too. Here's a safe, simple way to get yourself going:
Set small goals. Ultimately, you want to walk 30 minutes a day every day, but make your first goals small ones that you know you can reach: Say, walk as briskly as you can for 5 minutes every morning. Or if there's a flight of stairs in your house that you regularly climb, plan to do two extra flights a day.
Protect your body. Your muscles and joints likely have been stressed by carrying around a lot of extra weight. If you have achy joints, try water walking. Have balance issues, but love outdoor cycling? Try a three-speed three-wheeler. Back problems? Work with a physical therapist to strengthen it. A heart or lung condition, or diabetes? Talk to your doctor before starting.
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Take it easy. Once what you're doing feels easy, add five more minutes of activity a day. When that's easy, kick it up another five minutes.
Bet you didn't know
There's a number you need to know about if you're interested in keeping your body younger and sexier. And your mind, too.
That vital number is your fasting blood sugar, which is what doctors look at when they're checking for diabetes. Yet even though rates of blood-sugar problems are going up faster than the mosquito count at a picnic, we bet you don't have a clue what your number is. Why? Not enough people are being tested early.
Old-school medicine says to get your blood sugar checked at age 45, earlier if you're at high risk (overweight, underactive, have high blood pressure or a family history of diabetes). But an impressive new study of 325,000 people suggests that even if you have no known risk factors, getting tested as young as 30 could identify diabetes up to six years sooner.
That's huge. It buys you time to avoid diabetes' complications, which, trust us, nobody wants. They include nerve damage, heart attacks, kidney failure, blindness, sexual problems and dementia. Getting tested earlier also spots prediabetes, meaning you can prevent it by getting more physical and eating much smarter (cutting saturated and trans fats, sugars and syrups, grains that aren't 100 percent whole and limiting portion sizes).
If you were born anytime between the late 1960s and 1980, ask your doctor about your blood sugar. Knowing this number could keep your health totally awesome for years.
Green tea a superhero?
Green tea has pretty much won the Superhero of Drinks title. It's already credited with defending you from cancer (bam!), protecting your brain and blood pressure from abnormalities (slam!) and shielding your skin from wrinkles and arteries from aging's destructive plaques (kapow!). Now guarding your eyes may be added to the list.
Tokyo researchers report that components of the brew stop a leading cause of blindness in babies: abnormal retinal blood vessels. This time, tea's inflammation blockers (called catechins) were not the only action heroes. Theanine (an amino acid) appears to have played War Machine to catechins' Iron Man.
A high-theanine green tea formula prevented the condition (retinopathy of prematurity) in lab rats. Yes, lab rats and newborn babies may be far apart on the evolutionary and cute scales, but if the eyes of either are exposed to too much oxygen shortly after birth, blindness results. Which makes green tea promising.
So add sharp sight to your own list of reasons to keep drinking green tea. We already know that one Iron Man-like catechin (called epigallocatechin gallate) halts changes linked to glaucoma and macular degeneration. Now that theanine appears to be a potent sidekick, there may be more help than suspected for grownup vision.
One tip: Green tea loses its powerful healing components quickly, so buy and brew it in small quantities, and squirt some lemon juice into it. Citrus enhances your ability to absorb its goodies.