Our experts answer reader questions about dropping the last 10 pounds—or more.
Question: I've heard that lifting weights helps the body burn calories even when you're not active. True or false? — Reiko
Answer: That's true. A lot of women prioritize cardio because they want to lose fat, but that burns calories only while you're exercising; as soon as you stop, you're no longer burning as much. Instead, lifting weights revs up your metabolism, so you'll continue burning calories for a few hours after your workout. And don't worry about bulking up; women don't have enough testosterone for that. But you will get leaner!
— Trudie German, certified personal trainer and owner of bodyenvy.ca, Toronto
Question: Is it possible I'm meant to be this big? I've been about the same size all my adult life, give or take a dress size. My mom and my sister are both size 14, and so were my grandmas. Maybe it's genetics? — Anne
Answer: Your genes do play a role, but it's more important to remember that size isn't really a good measure of health. If you're active, feeling good and sleeping and eating well, you probably don't have to worry. According to the World Health Organization, obesity is defined as "abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health." Of course, as you get heavier, there's a greater likelihood your health could be negatively impacted. But it's impossible for me to tell just by having you step on a scale; I have to do all sorts of tests to see if your weight really is affecting your health.
— Dr. Arya Sharma, founder of the Canadian Obesity Network and professor at the University of Alberta
Question: I'm injured and I can't work out. Is it still possible to lose weight? (Even if I'm eating my feelings about not being able to exercise?) — Katie
Answer: It's certainly possible! In fact, what you eat has more of an impact on your weight than exercise. You won't be able to work off extra calories, so be particularly mindful of other factors that influence weight, too, by getting enough sleep, finding ways to manage stress and choosing healthy whole foods in appropriate portions. And try these tricks: Serve vegetables family-style so they're within easy reach, but keep richer foods on the stovetop; use a smaller plate; and focus on your food—you're more likely to overindulge if you're distracted, so try not to eat in front of the TV, in the car or at your desk at work. Lastly, don't deny your hunger; eventually, it will backfire and you'll find yourself overeating or grabbing a convenient but unhealthy snack. People often think they have to cut back on food if they're going to lose weight, but I counsel my clients to eat more during the day. The idea isn't to willpower your way to weight loss; it's to make sustainable changes.
— Casey Berglund, registered dietitian and owner of worthyandwell.com, Calgary
Photography by Lauren Hayes Credits: Photography by Lauren Hayes
You don't need a gym membership to build muscle. These strengthening exercises from trainer Samantha Montpetit-Huynh of Toronto's Core Expectations are easy to do at home. The payoff? You'll burn more calories, protect your joints and help your bones stay healthy. Here's how to do it.
1. Squat with shoulder press
Standing with feet a little more than hip-width apart and holding weights at shoulder level with arms bent and palms facing forward, inhale and slowly bend at the knees into a squat. Exhale and stand up, extending your arms straight overhead. Do eight to 12 reps.
Tip: This is a compound movement, which means you're working more than one muscle group at a time to maximize the rewards.
Works: Quads, hamstrings, glutes and shoulders
2. Reverse lunge with knee up
Standing with feet shoulder-width apart and holding weights at your sides, inhale and lift your right knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Then, swing that leg behind you and plant your toes on the floor, bending both knees until they form 90-degree angles. Exhale and push off your toes to bring your knee back up. Do eight to 12 reps with each leg.
Tip: Swinging your leg elevates this lunge to a dynamic movement, which helps get your heart rate up.
Works: Quads, hamstrings and glutes
3. Biceps curl one leg
Standing with feet together and holding weights at your sides with palms facing forward, bend your right knee, keeping both knees together, until your calf is parallel to the floor. Balancing on your left leg, exhale and bend your elbows to bring the weights toward your shoulders, keeping your wrists straight. Inhale as you release back down. Do eight to 12 reps on each leg.
Tip: Standing on one leg forces you to engage your core muscles for balance.
Works: Biceps and core
4. Triceps dip
Sitting on the edge of a chair with your hands on either side of the seat and your feet together on the floor, scoot forward a bit off the seat, supporting your weight with your arms. Inhale and bend your elbows to lower your body, keeping your knees directly above your ankles and your shoulders dropped, until your arms are at a 90-degree angle. Exhale and straighten your arms, pushing yourself up. Do eight to 12 reps.
Tip: For an added challenge, rest your feet on a step or a chair instead of the floor and extend your legs.
Works: Triceps and shoulders
Do one of these plank positions and hold for 20 to 30 seconds, progressing to one minute once you get stronger. When you can do the easiest plank position for one minute, move on to the more advanced positions.
A. Easy: Hover plank
On your hands and knees, with your back flat, abs tight and arms straight with shoulders aligned directly over your wrists, lift your knees to hover about two inches off the floor.
B. Intermediate: Knee plank
Support your weight on your forearms and knees, with your feet crossed in the air behind you. Keep your shoulders directly above your elbows, your back flat and abs tight.
C. Advanced: Full plank
Support your weight on your forearms and toes, with legs extended. Keep your shoulders directly above your elbows, your back flat and abs tight.
Tip: If you're feeling the burn in your lower back, your hips are too low. Make sure your back is straight.
Works: Core muscles, including the transversus abdominis (the innermost
abdominal muscle that stabilizes the pelvis), obliques (muscles along the sides that allow you to bend sideways and twist) and rectus abdominis (the outer muscles—sometimes called the six-pack— which help you bend forward)
On your hands and knees, straighten your arms, keeping your shoulders aligned directly over your wrists, then scoot your knees back and lift your feet behind you, dropping your hips so your torso forms a straight line. With your neck straight and abs tight, inhale and slowly bend your arms to lower your chest toward the floor. Exhale and push yourself up. Do eight to 12 reps.
Tip: When you can do 12 to 15 knee pushups, you're ready for the regular pushup. Remember to keep your torso lengthened and straight.
Works: Chest, shoulders and triceps
Lying on your stomach with arms and legs extended, raise your left arm and right leg a few inches off the floor without rotating your spine and hold for two or three seconds. Return to start position, then repeat with your right arm and left leg. Alternate from side to side, exhaling as you lift your limbs and inhaling as you lower. Do four to six reps per side.
Tip: These movements are small but effective; don't try to lift too high or you'll risk injuring yourself.
Works: Erector spinae (the muscles that run along the spine, which bend and extend the back and let you move from side to side)
Lying on your back with arms relaxed at your sides, knees bent and feet flat on the floor, exhale and lift your hips, squeezing your glutes and keeping your back flat. Inhale as you lower your bum to the floor. Do eight to 12 reps.
Tip: For an added challenge, extend one leg as you lift and lower your hips.
Works: Hamstrings, glutes and lower back
Check out the full workout for these strength-boosting moves.
Canadian Living recipes get a lot of love online and we've rounded up 25 of our most-searched recipes, from beef stew and lasagna to pancakes and carrot cake. And the list wouldn't be complete with our #1 recipe of all time: classic scalloped potatoes!
With a nice hint of garlic, these potatoes are a delicious addition to any meal and are much lighter than those with a cream-laden gratin. To slice them easily, cut a little piece off the bottom of each potato to stabilize it on the cutting board. Serve with your favourite baked fish or chicken.
This classic warm-you-up stew becomes even more comforting when made with well-marbled pot roast rather than the usual stewing beef. The fat melts slowly as it cooks, tenderizing the beef into juicy melt-in-your-mouth morsels. A slow finish in the oven gives the stew its rich, hearty texture.
Serve this saucy pulled pork as sandwiches: piled high on buns, with bowls of garnishes, such as pickled jalapenos, sour cream, shredded cheese and thinly shredded red cabbage (or better yet, red cabbage slaw), and let guests build their own sandwiches.
Our most popular recipe ever! This moist carrot cake is welcome at birthdays, weddings, reunions and all special occasions.
These wings can get sticky as they bake, so line your baking sheet with greased nonstick foil or parchment paper for easy turning.
Whether runny or firm, with raisins or nuts, butter tarts are treats that never go out of style. Because any sugar filling that overflows the pastry hardens quickly and sticks to the pan, be sure to remove the tarts as directed. Or count on family members to hang around the kitchen waiting to eat the tarts that stick and break.
Weeknight entertaining is a breeze when you put your slow cooker to work! Adding a bit of flour to the sauce at the end of cooking turns it into a rich gravy to serve alongside the roast. Green peas and mashed sweet potatoes make great accompaniments to this hearty cold-weather dish.
If comfort food is what you're after, nothing beats a generous helping of creamy, oozy mac and cheese. This recipe is the yummiest version – and the only one you'll ever need.
The decadent pie crust and the perfect touch of cinnamon in this recipe are evidence that you will make this pie more than once in your lifetime.
Lasagna is the go-to meal that feeds a crowd and leaves everyone asking for seconds. We have many different lasagnas in our repertoire, but this one is classic in its simplicity.
Simple aromatic herbs lend gentle flavour to the meat, and a butter rub makes the skin crisp and golden.
Fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside, these potatoes truly deserve their “ultimate” status. Duck fat is the key to their rich flavour, but you can customize the taste by switching up the type of fat.
A splash of vanilla and a small pat of butter are the secret ingredients in these decadent, fluffy pancakes.
This recipe can easily be left to simmer away in a slow cooker for eight hours before adding the chicken. It yields a large quantity of sauce that freezes well if you're feeding a smaller group. Serve over hot steamed basmati rice.
Chock-full of a variety of seafood, fish and vegetables, this rich soup is inspired by a similar chowder served at the Masstown Market, near Truro, N.S.
The traditional (and indulgent) toppings of crispy crumbled bacon and sour cream really bring these perogies to life.
The aroma of baking banana bread is enough to drive just about anyone wild with anticipation. Our best version delivers on all counts. It's moist, buttery, sweet and chockfull of banana flavour.
Inspired by sunny Italy, our flavourful chicken cacciatore is rich with herbs and spices that are both healthy and savoury. Whether it's served over pasta or on its own, this Italian dish is sure to please your taste buds.
This recipe combines the snap and the melt-in-your-mouth qualities we've come to love in shortbread.
This classic salad is traditionally assembled in front of patrons at fine-dining restaurants.
This traditional pea soup is the ultimate in Quebec-style comfort food.
These brownies have become The Test Kitchen's secret weapon for parties, showers, gifts and other occasions. The combination of rich dark chocolate and a subtle crunch from chopped toffee bars is what makes them the best brownies you'll ever make.
This simple pork tenderloin is a healthy spin on everyone's favourite Greek culinary staple: souvlaki. We've swapped sweet potatoes for the traditional white potatoes and added other colourful veggies to boost the nutrient content.
If the stomach is indeed the way to a loved one's heart, then this ultra-decadent chocolate cake is sure to seal the deal. Just as easy and versatile as a cake mix— but way more moist and delicious—it's a recipe you'll want to make again and again.
Pull this mildly seasoned, comforting chili together in minutes. It's loaded with veggies and lean protein—perfect for growing minds and bodies.
©iStockphoto.com/slidezero_com Credits: ©iStockphoto.com/slidezero_com
Learn how feng shui techniques can declutter your home and create positive space in your life.
Do you want to bring happiness, good fortune and wellness into your life this year? Turn to the positive energies of feng shui as your guide. The ancient Chinese art of living in harmony with your environment can help spruce up your home and simultaneously create balance and joy.
Bridget Saraka, the Saskatoon-based owner of Feng Shui by Bridget, says the practice offers life-changing benefits. "Feng shui is about creating a space that's not only pleasing to your eye, but also pleasing to all your senses, so that your home supports and enriches your life," she says. "How we live has a profound impact on what our experiences will be. When you apply feng shui principles to your home, you can attract a great new year."
If your home is cluttered, dimly lit and has poorly arranged furniture, feng shui principles state that your life will be filled with obstacles and present few opportunities for growth. As a result, your job, relationships, finances and health can become stagnant. By making a few small changes, you can revitalize your space and your life. Here are six simple tips to get started:
1. Make your front door visible to receive blessings
In feng shui, a hard-to-read house number or a blocked walkway to a door will prevent positive energy from entering the home. "Have an address that's easy to see from the street and a path from your front door into your home that isn't cluttered with obstacles," says Saraka. "If the universe can't find you, how can fortunate blessings find you?"
2. Add colour for good health
Taupes and other neutral colours are popular in home decor, but they might contribute to low moods and energy levels during Canada's long, dark winters. "They're the wrong colour palate for Canadians because many of us suffer from seasonal affective disorder," says Saraka. From a feng shui perspective, these colours absorb the winter light, leaving Canadians feeling depressed and directionless.
To boost health and energy, start by painting your walls. "Choose a colour that's warm yet still reflects light – soft yellows, soft greens – colours that give a feeling of the sun and nature," says Saraka. "Green makes all colours pop, plus it's about life, vitality, growth and new vibrations." If you can't afford to paint, use colourful accessories—accent pillows, throws, live flowers, lighting in dark corners—to ignite powerful energy shifts in your home. "It's the easiest and most affordable way to do it," says Saraka.
3. Edit your belongings
Clear the bad vibes that accompany clutter. "Go through your home with a keen eye to what no longer serves you. If you haven't worn or used it within a year, donate it," says Saraka. "If it's broken and you're not going to repair it, remove it from the space. This editing practice opens up your home so you have room to experience a new chapter." Items that hold upsetting memories should be removed, too.
4. Let indoor plants and water bring prosperity
¨Want to attract wealth this year? Bring plants and a water fountain into your home. "Jade plants and fountains are symbols that represent wealth and finance in feng shui," says Saraka. Your health may also benefit from plants and flowers inside the home. "They purify the air," says Saraka, "And as you nurture the plant, you're nurturing yourself."
5. Position furniture for safety
If you don't feel safe and comfortable in your home, your furniture placement might be to blame. "Feng shui is first and foremost about comfort and safety," says Saraka. "Make sure that the largest piece of furniture in any room is in a position where you can see the door. If the sofa or head of the bed is against the same wall as the door, you can't see who is coming in. This creates a sense of vulnerability."
6. Use essential oils to attain happiness
Essential oils can help clear negative energy and add happy vibes to your home. "Put distilled water in a spritzer bottle, add three to six droplets of oil, and then spritz the air," says Saraka. If someone has been ill, Saraka recommends a blend of frankincense and cinnamon. ¨"To infuse a space with joy, use rose and orange essential oils. Rose is about love. Orange is about joy. So you're infusing joyful love into your space." Essential oils can be purchased from most health-food stores.
For more feng shui tips, check out how you can declutter your car.