Think Your Way Thin

illustrated african american woman standing on a scale

( — There are many ways to lose weight and many weight-loss tips, but the secret to ultimate weight-loss success is a good mental game plan. Healthy weight loss starts with healthy thinking. No matter what your current weight, you can begin to think and live like a thinner person.

The Right Attitude for Losing Weight

By creating the right attitude and approaching healthy weight loss strategically, you can start to think your way thin. Here are weight-loss tips that can help get your mind in shape so your body will follow:

  1. Make a commitment not only to lose weight, but also to change your lifestyle. To solidify what you’re doing, write up a contract. Include the weight you want to lose and the changes you want to make to get there. Sign it and post it where you can see it.
  2. Get professional advice. Consider finding a coach or motivator to help you. For some people, working with an exercise or a diet counselor can be one of the best ways to lose weight. This extra motivation and encouragement can make a positive difference in your success.
  3. Break down weight loss into achievable goals. Healthy weight loss comes slowly and regularly, not quickly. Setting unrealistic goals just leads to frustration and failure.
  4. Seek measurable goals that are more than just pounds. By focusing on improved health and not a number on the scale, we can learn to appreciate small goals along the way. One way that we can see weight loss without focusing too much on weight is by being in tune with how our clothing fits. Select a pair of pants or a particular dress and try it on at the same time of the day one day each week, taking note of how it fits.
  5. Keep a food diary. By writing down what you eat, when you eat, and how you feel when you eat, you can begin to be aware of your personal eating behaviors and start to avoid mindless eating that comes from stress or boredom.
  6. Monitor your health. Another idea is to focus on improved health. Have your blood pressure read on a weekly basis. Is it improving? Or monitor other health factors. When you walk up the stairs on your way to bed each night, do you breathe more easily? Do you feel less tired at the end of a long day?
  7. Accept the ups and downs. Expect some setbacks along the way and, instead of giving up, think through weight-loss obstacles to overcome them. There are no perfect plans to lose weight. You can fall off the wagon occasionally without giving up the journey.
  8. Plate size makes a difference. Your grandmother’s china plates were 36 percent smaller than today’s plates. That means bigger food portions fill today’s bigger plates. One tip to think your way to better portion control is to use smaller plates.
  9. Resize your portions. Another trick for portion control is knowing that a healthy portion of meat is about the size of a deck of cards, and a healthy portion of starch is about the size of a tennis ball. You can fill in all the empty areas of your plate with plenty of fruits or vegetables and still expect healthy weight loss.
  10. Reward yourself when you reach your goals. Every time you make it through the week on your healthy diet, put a few dollars in a piggy bank. At the end of the month, reward yourself with a gift or activity — other than eating — that you enjoy.

Finally, don’t forget that healthy weight loss is hard work and that you don’t have to pursue it alone. Seek support from your friends and family. Let them know how important your weight-loss goals are. The lifestyle changes you make now can serve as a powerful example for your loved ones.

Reduce Pet Allergens At Home

woman-with-spring-allergies-sneezing( — Pets can be your best friends. If you have allergies or asthma, they can also be your worst enemy.

Pets shed dander, a combination of dead skin cells and hair (or feathers), which can trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to the allergens.

Some guidelines recommend that people with allergies or asthma avoid keeping pets—especially cats. If a doctor says that you—or your child’s—allergies or asthma is aggravated by dander, you may ultimately need to find a new home for your pet. However, there are several ways you can cut down on pet allergens at home.

Minimize contact

You can reduce dander in your home by keeping your pet outdoors as much as possible. At the very least, you should bar pets from bedrooms where people with allergies or asthma sleep.

Children with allergies should also avoid petting or touching animals. If they do come into contact with a pet, they should wash their hands thoroughly.

Restricting pets to rooms with wood floors may also help. Wood flooring traps less dander than carpet and is easier to clean; keeping pets off carpet may help cut down on allergens.

Keep Fluffy off the couch

Keeping pets off carpets, upholstered furniture, and beds can reduce exposure to dander. (Using allergen-resistant bedding will help fend off any dander that does find its way into bedrooms.) Keeping pets out of cars—or restricting them to a tailgate area, if possible—is also a good idea.

In addition, any furniture, fabrics, or materials that pets do come into contact with should be vacuumed or washed frequently. This includes throw rugs, pet beds, cushions, pillows, and blankets.

Clean, clean, clean

Dusting as often as possible will keep dander (as well as dust mites and other allergens) to a minimum. Vacuuming, however, may not get all the allergens from the lower levels of a rug and may stir up a bit of dander as you clean. It may help to use vacuums equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter or double bags. However, it’s still a good idea to dust or vacuum when the person with allergies or asthma is not at home.

Replacing wall-to-wall carpets with wood floors will make it easier to remove dander.

Close registers

If you have forced-air heating and air conditioning, closing air registers may reduce the amount of animal dander that circulates through your home. If closing all of the registers isn’t practical, try closing those in the rooms where asthmatic or allergic individuals spend the most time (especially bedrooms).

Replacing the filter in your furnace or air conditioner with a HEPA filter and/or purchasing a room air cleaner may also help. Studies on the effectiveness of these methods have been inconclusive, however.

Bathe your pet

Research shows that frequently bathing your pet reduces the allergens found in their dander.

A 1999 study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology compared the levels of allergens in dog dander before and after a five-minute bath with an unnamed “proprietary shampoo” (which could describe an allergen-reducing shampoo such as Groomax). The researchers found that the bath reduced the dogs’ allergen levels by about 85% (pdf). But the allergen levels returned to normal in about three days, which suggests that dogs need to be washed at least twice a week.

Similar studies using cats have had mixed but generally less encouraging results.