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
Aside from being an easy snack for the office, yogurt is chock full of ingredients that help your body run smoothly, no matter what age you are.
Although yogurt has long been a staple in the health food world, it has become even more popular thanks to Greek yogurt. Whether you eat it plain, low-fat, greek, frozen, from a tube or a bottle, or in your smoothies, yogurt has health benefits beyond good old calcium. Read on for the lowdown on its many health benefits.
1. The probiotics.
You know yogurt has probiotics because every commercial for yogurt says so, but what does that actually mean? In the simplest of terms, probiotics are good-for-you bacteria. They help in regulating your digestive system and decreasing gas, diarrhea and bloating. Research has even suggested that probiotics can aid in boosting your immune system, help you manage your weight and reduce the risk of cancer.
2. The calcium.
Just like all products in the dairy family, yogurt is a great source of calcium, which plays a huge role in the development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth. It is also important for blood clotting, healing wounds and maintaining a normal blood pressure. Some yogurts contain vitamin D, which helps the small intestine absorb calcium to its fullest potential, so finding those yogurts or pairing yogurt with foods high in vitamin D is always a good idea.
3. The protein.
Plain yogurt made from whole milk is a rich source of protein, which can increase the absorption of minerals, promote lower blood pressure and aid in weight loss.
4. The vitamins.
Yogurt made with whole milk contains every single nutrient the human body needs. Yogurt contains vitamin B12, which keeps your nerves and red blood cells healthy and can only be found in foods originating from an animal. Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is also in yogurt. This helps the body convert carbohydrates into glucose, or 'food into fuel.'
Want to incorporate yogurt into your diet, but don't want to be stuck with buying processed, sugary yogurt cups? Check out Canadian Living's recipes:
From lunges to overhead presses, our do-it-all workout routin gets your heart rate up, builds muscles and burns calories.If you're exhausted just thinking about what you need to accomplish at the gym—get your heart rate up, build muscle, protect your bones—you're not alone. This dynamic routine from certified personal trainer Justine Keyserlingk, owner of Toronto's Just Get Fit, lets you target all of your health goals in a single session.
Photography by Angus Fergusson
The best way to beat those midwinter blues? A touch of green. Read on for our guide to low-maintenance houseplants.
When it comes to decorating, we believe most spaces benefit from a plant or two, and the decor world agrees—houseplants have made a comeback. According to Jill Jensen, founder of Jill Jensen Botanicals, a Clarington, Ont., tropical-plant wholesale company, the resurgence in popularity comes down to four things: Compact, easy-to-care-for plants appeal to both small-space dwellers and novice gardeners; good-quality botanicals are more readily available at garden centres, flower shops and even your local grocery store; we now know they improve our mental health; and decorative pots have received an esthetic upgrade, with options in everything from marble to ombré woven baskets. When caring for houseplants, Jensen says the first step is having the right environment. Tropical houseplants typically do best in a temperature-controlled space—over 17°C is OK, but above 21°C is ideal. Read on for our selections and Jensen's best tips to ensure that your plants thrive.
Great for spaces that don't get a lot of natural light, this leafy choice is also less susceptible to both pests and disease.
This stylish plant is almost indestructible. It thrives in low-light conditions and needs only moderate watering, so it's ideal for first-time plant owners—or for those with black thumbs!
Named for its colourful spiky flower, this pretty tropical will sprout suckers, or tiny shoots, as it ages; once the shoots reach a substantial size, you can separate them to form new plants.
This hardy variety can grow up to six feet tall but doesn't tend to spread out, which makes it ideal for small living or work spaces.
A succulent is any plant that stores water in its leaves or stem. Available in a variety of rich textures and colours, these trendy botanicals prefer lots of light; since they're desert plants, don't overwater them (allow the soil to dry completely between waterings).
Don't expose the maroon leaves of this plant to direct sunlight—it will cause the delicate tissue to burn
This compact version of the popular fiddle-leaf fig adds visual impact without taking up too much space.
One of the few plants with the same common and botanical name, this lush pick purifies the air in your home. It's also easy to care for, as it does well in most light conditions (except direct sun) and can survive with occasional two- to three-week intervals between waterings.
This fast-growing plant benefits from regular pruning— otherwise, it will quickly become overgrown. If the wide, flat leaves get dusty, wipe them gently with a soft damp cloth.
Unlike most cacti, this variety is native to the rainforest, so it prefers ample moisture (ensure good drainage so roots don't sit in water) and indirect light. It produces small white flowers in late winter or early spring, followed by small berries (similar to the ones on mistletoe, hence the name). Handle with care—the stems break easily.
Three perfect perches for your plants.