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
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This common succulent is known to be a great solution to relieve burns but did you know that it's toxic to both cats and dogs? Symptoms of aloe poisoning include diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, depression, tremors and a change in urine color. Typically, symptoms begin to show about six to twleve hours after ingesting but if you fear your fur baby has nibbled on some, don't wait—get peace of mind and seek medical assistance to avoid any further complications. How to curb food aggression in dogs
Calla lillies, although quite beautiful, contain insoluble crystals of calcium oxalate that are toxic to dogs and cats if ingested. Symptoms of poisoning may be seen almost immediately and include pawing at face, drooling, foaming and vomiting. More severe symptoms include swelling of the lips, tongue, oral cavity and upper airway, making it difficult to breathe or swallow. In most cases where a pet eats a plant containing calcium oxalate, treatment can be managed at home by rinsing your pet's mouth thoroughly, but it's always best to seek medical advice from your vet.
This easy-to-grow houseplant contains a chemical that is toxic to cats and dogs. If consumed, your pet may experience mouth irritation, increased salivation, vomiting and difficulty swallowing. If you want to keep this plant in your home, be sure to store it in a place that is out of reach to ensure your pet's safety. How to keep your pet safe and healthy this summer
Hyacinth's toxicity is highly concentrated in the bulbs as oppose to the leaf and when ingested in large amounts, can result in problems for your pet. Depending on the amount ingested, symptoms can be moderate to severe and include irritation to the mouth and esophagus, profuse drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. In severe situations, symptoms range from increased heart rate to changes in respiration and difficulty breathing. If you fear your dog or cat has ingested hyacinths, contact your vet for treatment recommendations.
Like the calla lily, the satin pathos plant contains calcium oxalate. If massive amounts of plants containing this toxin are consumed, the symptoms become much more severe and include convulsions, renal failure, coma and death. It's possible for your pet to recover from severe calcium oxalate poisoning, but in most cases permanent liver and kidney damage will have already occurred. 8 ways to keep your dog healthy
Daffodils pose a danger to dogs and cats if ingested. Symptoms can include severe gastrointestinal issues like vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain, low blood pressure, lethargy and kidney damage. There is no specific treatment or antidote for daffodil ingestion, but you can rinse any existing plant matter from your pet's mouth thoroughly to prevent further damage. If your pet's vomiting or diarrhea is extensive, take them to the vet.
The asparagus fern is another common houseplant and can be toxic to your dog and/or cat if ingested and can also cause minor skin irritation in pets with sensitive skin. Beware the berries, as they are more toxic to your pet than the foliage and thus cause more serious symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Since treatment is generally symptomatic, most pets will make a full recovery in 24 to 48 hours, but always consult with your veterinarian if you're concerned. 5 reasons you shouldn't declaw your cat
Tulips can signify that spring has finally sprung but that doesn't mean they're safe for your dog or cat to be around. If ingested, tulips can cause depression, severe vomiting and diarrhea, excessive drooling and loss of appetite. Induce vomiting and seek veterinary help.
This common houseplant is know for it's hard-to-kill properties and can not only cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested, it can also cause skin irritation if your pet is exposed to it repeatedly. Keep the plant in an out-of-reach spot or in a room where you can close the door to keep your fur baby away.
This flowering shrub can do serious damage to your dog or cat depending on the amount consumed. Symptoms can vary from excessive drooling, sweating (nose and foot pads), vomiting, diarrhea and low blood pressure to more serious side effects such as total loss of coordination, severe muscular weakness, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, coma and possibly death. If a small amount is consumed by your pet, don't fret! The toxin found in azaleas is metabolized and excreted rapidly, so your pet will generally begin to feel better within hours and can make a full recovery in 24 hours. However, if large amounts are ingested, activated charcoal should be administered to your pet repeatedly on the first day. As always, consult your vet. 7 ways to cope with losing a pet
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:
Infused water Source: Ryan Brook
Weight loss goals can seem insurmountable. To lose each pound of fat, you need to cut 3,500 calories, and that number can sound scary. But taking little steps to cut just 100 or 200 calories at a time goes a long way. Use two of these tips each day and you'll lose a pound in a little over a week—no starvation necessary.
We all know about the dangers of soda, but even drinking unsweetened juice will give you a sugar rush at a rate of 120 calories per cup. And chances are you don't just drink a cup. Individual serving-size bottles of juice are typically about 450 mL, and can clock in at over 200 calories. But if you're a juice drinker, it can be hard to switch to water right away. Try muddling some watermelon and mint into your water to get all kinds of flavour, and a touch of sweetness, for almost no calories. Or make iced tea using a fruity flavoured tea, and skip the sugar.
Who doesn't love pasta? But when your fettuccine comes with around 400 calories in two cups (even before the sauce!), you can feel guilty about eating it. Try replacing half the pasta with a cup of zucchini that's been cut into thin strips to match the shape of the pasta. Just throw it in the water a couple of minutes before the noodles are done. You'll still get the flavour and texture of the pasta that you crave, but with almost half the calories, because that cup of zucchini has just 30 calories.
Did you know that half a cup of barbeque sauce can contain about 250 calories? If you're someone who uses sauces liberally, this could be a big source of extra calories for you. Instead, give your meats a spice rub, which contains virtually no calories. And keep an eye on stir-fry sauces, such as teriyaki. You can often get a lot of flavour using spices (think fresh ginger, garlic and herbs) and little soy sauce, instead of using a rich sugar-filled sauce.
According to a study from the New England Journal of Medicine, potato chips are in fact the biggest contributor to obesity. In a study that found Americans gain about a pound a year, chips were the biggest cause of that weight gain. Though a serving might have about 160 calories, chances are you eat at least two to three times that. Instead, bake a cup of kale mixed with a teaspoon of oil and a bit of salt to make your own kale chips. For about 70 calories, you'll get a much more nutrient-dense snack that won't make you pack on the pounds.
If you haven't yet heard of cauliflower rice, you're missing out. This simple recipe is the perfect low-calorie replacement for white rice, which will set you back about 250 calories. Just process cauliflower florets in a food processor or grate them with a box grater, then cook with a bit of water or oil until soft. Use it for the bed of rice below meat or fish, or on the side of a curry dish. The cauliflower mimics the texture of rice but has only about 30 calories per cup.
Hamburger buns can easily contain 200 calories or more. Instead of a bun, sandwich your burger or chicken breast with veggies that contain almost no calories. You've heard of using lettuce instead of a bun, but how about grilled portobello mushrooms? Or a tomato cut in half? If you can't give up bread entirely, try a small wrap, which should cut the calories in half. Thinking outside the bun will help you lighten up your meal.