Weight Loss

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Food Diary Can Double Weight Loss, New Study Shows

 By Julie Upton, RD

When someone comes to me wanting advice on how to lose weight, one of the first things I tell them is to write down everything they eat and drink for three consecutive weekdays and one day on the weekend. New research supports what I’ve seen hold true in client after client: Food journals can accelerate weight loss.

In a study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers from Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore., found that keeping a daily diary doubled weight lost among overweight men and women with cardiovascular risk factors (high blood pressure and/or elevated cholesterol).

Diet, food diary, and support groups
Nearly 1,700 patients were enrolled in the study and were put on a heart-healthy D.A.S.H. (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) regimen, which is rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and potassium, and low in sodium. (Incidentally, this is the same diet that my sister followed to lose weight and reduce her blood pressure.)

In addition, subjects attended weekly group sessions and exercised at moderate intensity levels for at least 30 minutes a day. They were also instructed to keep diet and exercise journals. Individuals who did not record what they ate lost about 9 pounds, whereas those who kept daily diaries lost up to 18 pounds in five months. The average weight lost for the entire group was 13 pounds.

“The more food records people kept, the more weight they lost,” says lead researcher Jack Hollis, PhD. “Simply writing down what you eat encourages eating less.”

As one of the largest and longest-running weight-loss-maintenance trials ever conducted, this study gives support to a practice that we dietitians have been using for years. It’s also one of the few studies to recruit a large percentage (44%) of African Americans as participants. African Americans have a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease, conditions that are aggravated by being overweight. In this study, the majority of African American participants lost at least nine pounds, a higher number than in previous studies.

The write way to lose
Food journals can be written in notebooks or on Post-its, or you can go high-tech and use an online program that offers lots of bells and whistles to keep you motivated. Many of my clients prefer recording their problem meals or snacks (i.e., record all dinners and every between-meal bite) and other clients prefer to have checklists each day for their fruit and veggie goals, daily glasses of water, or 30 minutes of exercise.

I also suggest that you record the time when you eat, and how hungry you are on a scale of 1 to 10 before and after eating. This helps you get a better understanding of your cravings and food habits, and figure out whether you’re really eating when (and why) you should.

Overall, food journals serve two purposes. First, only those who really want to lose weight will actually use them regularly, so it automatically separates those with a commitment to getting healthier from those without the drive. Secondly, it helps put the brakes on mindless munching and makes us think before we eat or drink.

The Kaiser Permanente researchers set forth these guidelines for weight loss, based on their study conclusions:

  • Keep daily records of food and beverages consumed and minutes exercised.
  • Eat about 500 fewer calories each day.
  • Follow the D.A.S.H. guidelines.
  • Exercise a total of 180 minutes each week (e.g., 30 minutes for six days per week).
  • Women: Have no more than one drink per day.
  • Men: Have no more than two drinks per day

By Julie Upton, RD


Jenna Jameson Shares What She Eats Daily on the Keto Diet: ‘You Will See the Weight Drop Off’

Jenna Jameson says eats whenever she’s hungry, but the pounds are still falling off, thanks to the keto diet.

The former adult film actress, 44, shared with fans in a recent #MondayMotivation Instagram post an “updated menu” of what she eats daily. She’s dropped more than 80 lbs. on the keto diet — a low-carb, moderate protein and high-fat eating plan — since giving birth to her daughter Batel Lu in April 2017.

RELATED: 9 Fruits You Can Actually Eat on the Keto Diet

After waking up at 8 a.m., the mother of three drinks a cup of coffee with stevia and sugar-free creamer. Three hours later, she eats breakfast — usually three hard-boiled eggs, which she’s already cooked, mixed with one avocado and “everything but the bagel” seasoning.

RELATED: Jenna Jameson Shares Her Tips for Starting the Keto Diet: ‘Be Positive and Visualize Success!’

At 2 p.m., she cooks steak in some avocado oil for lunch and serves it on a bed of arugula. Two hours later, she snacks on a cup of cottage cheese and then eats dinner at 5 p.m. For her last meal of the day, she often opts for salmon seasoned with lemon butter and dill and a side of asparagus or broccoli.

Then, she fasts from 6 p.m. to 11 a.m. During this time, she only drinks water or tea.

RELATED: 7 Dangers of Going Keto

In the post, the Playboy TV alum also gave a few words of caution to her fans — namely, that it’s okay to mix meat and dairy on the diet (she just doesn’t as she keeps kosher) and that “if I feel hungry, I EAT!!!!” because she’s still breastfeeding.

She also recommends “staying away from keto breads and snacks” and instead choosing “whole organic foods … You will see the weight drop off.”

RELATED: Jenna Jameson Shares Photo of Herself at Her ‘Heaviest’ Post-Baby: ‘I’m So Sorry to My Body’

RELATED: Jenna Jameson Celebrates 18 Months Breastfeeding Her Daughter: ‘I Wouldn’t Change One Second’

To conclude, the New York Times best-selling author writes: “Remember my friend, losing weight isn’t easy, it’s a challenge. Push past your fear of failing and make the change! Love you!”

Now she’s got her diet down pat, Jameson recently shared with fans how she’s toning her new figure without going to the gym.

“Exercise is starting to pay off. Yes I’ve lost the weight I wanted, but I want to feel toned,” she wrote alongside a before-and-after shot of herself posted on Instagram in late November. “At my age it isn’t easy. I’m almost 45. Honestly I despise the gym. I feel self conscious and anxious when I’m there.”

RELATED VIDEO: Jenna Jameson Showers While Breastfeeding Daughter Batel During ‘Hard’ Day: ‘This Is Motherhood’

She explained that she incorporates mommy-and-me time into her workouts and finds ways to bring fitness into her daily routine.

“I told myself I would strengthen myself by hiking with Batel, walking as much as possible and run stairs,” she wrote. “It’s working. This progression proves you don’t have to spend hours in a gym… get out, move your body and live life!!!!”

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3 Secrets to Losing Weight and Keeping It Off

 By Shaun Chavis

My favorite part of my job is working on our “I Did It” weight loss success stories. I get to talk with so many amazing people who have truly changed their lives. Medical professionals say they think it’s an unusual achievement for someone to lose 10% of his or her body weight and keep it off, but every month we get emails from people who’ve topped that. Here are three things the successful dieters have in common:

They eat breakfast. Just about every single person who has sent me a success story kicked off her new eating habits with a healthy breakfast each morning. It boosts metabolism and keeps you from a mid-morning doughnut break. (Check out this research about breakfast and weight loss—trust me, you won’t want to skip your Wheaties.)

Getty Images

They compete. Many successful losers become regular marathon runners or triathletes. Unlike a simple gym session, the competition really keeps them motivated. Rachael Heitman, 31, our October 2007 success story, used to weigh 238 pounds. Inspired by watching an Ironman competition, she got herself a copy of Slow, Fat Triathlete and started cycling, jogging, and swimming. She felt nervous going to her first competition—but when she looked around, she saw people of every shape and age warming up. Rachael realized that you don’t have to look like you belong on the cover of Runner’s World to race. She lost 73 pounds and turned into an avid triathlete.

Jennifer Dearing, who lost 166 pounds, started with a 5K and has her sights set on doing an triathlon, too. Thirty-year-old Taysha Urquhart of Los Angeles lost 78 pounds and keeps it off by running marathons for charity; she started with the National AIDS Marathon Training Program. Friends and diet buddies Amanda Bard and Amber DeBeer Larson lost 200 pounds between them. They stay slim—and stay in touch—by running half-marathons together.

They launch new careers. Many big losers also go into fitness or diet-related work—sometimes working second jobs—to help themselves stay fit. A number of women who’ve shared their stories with us go on to become trainers or registered dietitians, or they start organizations and online communities to help others lose. It makes good sense: The hardest part about the weight loss journey is maintenance, and it’s the part of weight loss with the least support. You have to work harder—research shows women who’ve been overweight need to do more exercise to keep weight off than someone who’s never carried extra pounds.

You also have to master motivation. It’s inspiring when you can see the numbers change on the scale and people around you are complimenting your new bod. But once the flattery goes away and you don’t see your body changing, it helps to have strong tools in place to keep yourself on track every day. Mary Garrett, 37, our May 2007 success story, lost 90 pounds and increased her bone density after getting a diagnosis of osteopenia. Mary became a certified YMCA personal trainer and helps women who have weight to lose. She’s now working on a degree in health promotion. Twenty-nine-year-old Megan Marquis-Conner of Maine used to weigh 250 pounds. She started taking cardio-kickboxing classes and lost 104 pounds. Now she teaches cardio-kickboxing, and she’s about to be certified as a Zumba instructor. And check out our March 2009 issue (it should be on the stands in a few weeks) for the story of a Houston woman who lost 40 pounds and started a women’s-only boot camp. She says she’s found her calling by helping other women lose weight and feel good about themselves.

How do you keep weight off? Leave a comment and share your secrets. And if you’ve got a weight loss story to share, please email me.

The Art of Finding a Diet Partner

 By Shaun Chavis

I’m in the market for some motivation—in the form of a new fitness partner. It’s easier to tear myself away from work in the evening when I’ve got an unbreakable appointment with a walking buddy or my trainer (since I’m pinching pennies, I don’t see my trainer as often these days). People were more successful at losing weight if they had an exercise buddy who also lost weight, according to a 2005 study.

But finding a fitness partner isn’t always easy. For me, the best fitness partners were women who needed me as much as I needed them. I’ve had partners who hit the trails or the gym like clockwork every day. Exercising, to them, seemed as automatic as brushing their teeth in the morning. I’d partner with them, hoping that their great habits would magically rub off on me, but I’d always have this nagging thought, “She’s doing me a favor… she’s not getting anything out of this.” It felt like I was getting exercise charity!


My favorite partner was an anchor at a television station where we both worked. She was fitter than me, but we started going to a YMCA near the station between the 6 o’clock and 11 o’clock news. We’d get on side-by-side treadmills, so pace wasn’t an issue. We both needed each other: I was nervous about going to the gym alone. She couldn’t go alone either—not if she wanted to get a good workout. People would recognize her, come over to talk, and her hour would be up before she could work up a good sweat. I helped cut down the interruptions. It was a mutually beneficial relationship, even though we were at very different fitness levels. It was rewarding to know that she needed me to help her meet fitness goals, too.

But great partners don’t have to work out together: Amber DeBeer Larson and Amanda Bard both had about the same amount to lose—nearly 100 pounds each. They went to Weight Watchers together, checked in with each other throughout the day to cheer their successes, and pulled each other through rough spots. Sisters Julie Marsh and Cathy Andrew—our April 2007 success story—shared recipes, made diet-friendly food for family gatherings, and found ways to make exercise fun by trying things neither would have tried on her own. Julie lost 85 pounds, and Cathy lost over 100.

I’m curious, what’s been the best fitness or weight loss partnership you’ve had? Who is your “ideal partner?”

Want to See the Scale Move? Make Some New Friends

 By Tina Haupert

I recently chatted with Health‘s associate weight-loss editor, Shaun Chavis, about how my diet and fitness blog helped me find a community of health-focused women. These women have become dear friends even though, until recently, I’d never met many of them in person.

Last weekend, with the help of five like-minded bloggers, I hosted a Healthy Living Summit in Boston. Seeing a roomful of 125 people—most of them readers, fellow bloggers, and virtual friends—reminded me that interacting with a community was one of the keys to finding my Feel Great Weight. Blogging has been an avenue to connect with others and support my healthy living habits. Now I feel accountable not only to myself, but to my readers, who will call me out on skipping too many workouts or eating too many cheeseburgers.

Have you hit a weight-loss plateau? Are you short on motivation? Here are four reasons why a weight-loss blog may help you find your Feel Great Weight.

Endless support
When I first started losing weight, my support network didn’t extend past my family and closest friends. Feeling like I was the only one trying to live a healthier life made it tough to say no to dessert. When I started my blog, I found a group of people who understand what I’m going through and who can relate when I fall off the wagon. All of these virtual strangers support one another through comments, emails, photos, and links.

There are tons of weight-loss blogs out there, so just about everyone can find one written by someone who is struggling with the same issues that you might be struggling with too. The size of the blogger support network is endless, so the more effort I put into my blog, the more support I receive.

Extra accountability
For me, one of the hardest parts about tracking my calories was being honest, which is the most important part of losing weight. But on my blog, I’m writing to real people—not just myself. Even if I’m a little embarrassed, I tell my readers how I feel when I slip up at a friend’s birthday party by eating three cupcakes, and how I deal with skipping an entire week of workouts. It’s not that I never slip up—I’ve just learned to hold myself accountable. Plus, my readers are always willing to chime in with healthy tips—or a kick in the butt when I get off track! And I’ve noticed that blogging often keeps me on my healthiest behavior. It’s embarrassing to report a whole day of meals without including a single vegetable!

A reminder of how far you’ve come
Weight loss (and even maintenance) includes many ups and downs, so it’s easy to forget your successes. After I had been blogging for several months, it was motivating to look back at my earliest entries. I had only lost a couple of pounds, but I didn’t want to take for granted the progress I had made “off” the scale. For instance, I’d been incorporating more fresh produce, whole grains, and “real” food, and I had an easier time saying no to less-than-nutritious foods like a greasy ballpark sausage or a third pint of beer. I also didn’t want to forget that only a few months ago, I had never run more than 5 miles in a row. Having my blog gives me the means to document and review my successes, especially at times when I need them the most.

    Healthy Living Summit attendees gather for breakfast on Boston Common.

Your turn to help
I started my blog because I needed help looking good in my skinny jeans. I didn’t intend to help anyone else—I just wanted to keep myself on track. However, my readers soon realized that I had successfully overcome a challenge they still struggle with. Now, my blog is more than just a food journal—I try to address the emotional aspects of eating, exercising, and working toward a happy weight. Hearing tips helped me find my FGW, so now it’s my turn to help—plus I need those tips for when I occasionally fall off the wagon!

If you aren’t ready to start blogging just yet, there are plenty of other ways to reap the benefits of a community. Sign up for Health‘s free Feel Great Weight community, where I regularly share tips alongside other Health editors and readers. Or start following food bloggers you admire, and participate in the comments section. Even something as low-tech as finding a healthy eating buddy at work can help. In fact, together these women lost a combined total of 200 pounds!

Read Tina’s daily food and fitness blog, Carrots ‘N’ Cake.

How to Burn Off 24 Holiday Foods

Pile a few sides on your plate along with your slice of prime rib, and you’ve consumed enough calories to last you an entire day. Eating a lot of red meat has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease, certain cancers, and a shortened lifespan, but an occasional indulgence in a lower-fat cut, like tenderloin, is OK.

Calories: 1,035 per slice

Burn it off: Play touch football for 2 hours

5 Keto Apps That Make Sticking to a Low-Carb Diet So Much Easier

Let’s face it, the keto diet isn’t a piece of cake (literally). You have to keep constant tabs on what you’re eating to make the high-fat, low-carb plan work. The good news is, there are apps that can help with that—they can track your macronutrient intake, help you set goals, and even give you keto-approved recipes you’ll love. Below, we’ve rounded up five of the best keto apps and laid out their amazing features. Check it out, then start downloading.

RELATED: 9 Fruits You Can Actually Eat on the Keto Diet


KetoDiet is the digital sidekick you need to help you reach your weight-loss goals. You can use it to track both your macros and your weight, which makes it easy to see how any small changes in your diet affects your body. It also has hundreds of recipes and even lets you create your own custom meals. KetoDiet starts at $4 in the App Store.


Do you have goals you just can’t seem to reach? Keto.app can help with that. You can create personalized macro goals tailored to your body type and activity level. Just specify whether you want to lose weight, maintain weight, or gain muscle mass, and the app will tell you what you need to do. It can also help you set goals for daily water consumption. Keto.app is free, but there’s also a premium version starting at $3 per month.

Total Keto Diet

Once you start using Total Keto Diet, you’ll wonder how you ever stuck to a high-fat, low-carb regimen without it. The app not only lets you track your macros, but also gives you hundreds of keto-friendly recipes and helps you create your ideal grocery list. Unlike other keto apps, it’s completely free.

Carb Manager

This app’s built-in search engine will make your life 100 times easier. You can either search the extensive database for what you’re eating, like grilled salmon or plain yogurt, or simply scan the barcode. With Carb Manager, you’ll always know exactly how many net carbs you have left for the day. This app has both a free and premium version, which starts at $8.


FatSecret is the whole package. You can set goals for each macronutrient and track them to see your progress, and you can even choose to share your data with a health professional to get feedback and tips. The app can also show you a detailed overview of your daily, weekly, and monthly macro consumption. The best part? It’s free.

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Kate Hudson Is On a Mission to Get Back to Her "Fighting Weight" 8 Weeks After Giving Birth

Like most new moms, Kate Hudson has been on a long break from the gym to focus on her new baby and find a routine that works for her and her growing family. But now, she’s ready to get back to business and took to Instagram to share her fitness goals with her followers. (Here are 15 times Kate Hudson proved that she’s the definition of #Fitspiration.)

“The routine with our baby is getting more familiar and I’m ready to start taking a little time in the day focusing on myself,” she wrote alongside a photo of herself in a sports bra and leggings. “For me, that means my health,” she continued. “Why? Because I wanna be around a long time for these three kiddos of mine.”

RELATED: How to Get a Flat Stomach at Any Age

That said, the actress quickly noted that she knows how tough it can be to juggle being a new mom, taking care of your family, taking care of yourself, and keeping up with your job.

“I know that some are curious about what that means and for all you moms (whether working or not working moms) it is the most challenging thing in the world to balance kids and personal time,” she wrote. “Let’s be honest, kids take the number one position and it’s haaaaard to make the time for yourself.” (P.S. Here are six things you can learn from her book about self-love.)

That’s why Hudson vows to do the best she can with an end goal in mind. “I am on a mission right now to get back to my fighting weight and my strong body/mind back,” she wrote, adding that she hopes to lose 25 pounds by spring when she begins filming a new movie. (Check out the killer workout formula that’s kept her in such amazing shape.)

RELATED: Kate Hudson on How Her Third Pregnancy Is Different—from Prenatal Yoga to Morning Sickness

Her game plan? “I’d like to try new workouts and eat as healthy as I can,” she wrote. “I wanna do all this and keep up milk production, raise my kids, work every day, make time for my man, have girlfriend time and stay sane!” she joked.

Hudson’s celeb friends were the first to cheer her on for her raw and inspirational post. “Thank you, angel,” commented soon-to-be-mom Amy Schumer. “This is awesome, Kate. I love it,” added Chelsea Handler.

Supermodel Cindy Crawford also thanked Hudson for her realness and shared some real talk of her own. “Remember—it took 9 months to put the weight on so give your body time to get back to your ‘fighting’ weight,” she commented, before adding, “You look beautiful at every weight!”

While Hudson’s efforts to get fit again post-pregnancy are admirable, Crawford has a point: Losing the baby weight takes time, and it can be ridiculous that society expects women to return to their pre-pregnancy selves in five minutes flat. (Read Keira Knightley’s essay about the reality of childbirth to truly understand just how crazy it is.)

Whether Hudson meets her goal or not, there’s one thing for sure: Motherhood looks damn good on her.

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This article originally appeared on Shape.com

This New Ketosis Testing Breathalyzer Will Change the Way You Do Keto

The keto diet is, well, complicated. Though it can help you lose weight, the high-fat, low-carb regimen can also be very restrictive. Plus, it’s hard to know whether your body is actually in ketosis and is actively torching fat instead of carbs. (Getting to a state where you burn fat rather than carbs for energy is what makes the keto diet so unique.) 

But thanks to a new device called Keyto, the eating plan is set to get a whole lot easier.

Keyto is a breath analyzing tool and smart phone app that can tell you whether your body is truly in ketosis. Before Keyto, you had to either test your blood via a finger prick or pee on a stick and measure your urine to know if ketosis was happening. It was a hassle, and as a result, some followers would forgo testing for ketosis altogether and just hope they were reaching their goals.

RELATED: The Keto Diet Is Super Hard—These 3 Variations Are Much Easier to Follow

Cue Keyto, which can not only confirm if you are in ketosis, but also tell you what changes you need to make to reach your goals if you’re not. The app also includes keto-friendly recipes and lets you chat with other users. It’s not the first keto breath analyzer to hit the market, but it is the first with an accompanying app that provides actionable insights.

Keyto is estimated to ship January 2019, and is currently available for preorder for $99 on Indiegogo. Full price is $179, so get ‘em while they’re hot.

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50 Pounds Lighter in 6 Months: A Real-Life Biggest Loser’s Story


 By Julie Upton, RD

I’ve been frank in past blogs about the many issues I have with the Biggest Loser franchise, so I’ll spare you my rants in this post. Instead, in the spirit of the wildly popular show, I’ve found a real-life biggest loser…and she’s a friend of mine!

My girlfriend, Kimberly Eberl, asked me for a dietitian referral, so I suggested she see Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, in Chicago. Dawn is a colleague of mine whom I knew would have the personality and professionalism to inspire Kimberly to make some small changes that could add up to big weight-loss rewards.


During their initial one-on-one sessions, Dawn provided insights into Kimberly’s current diet, exercise, and overall lifestyle patterns to identify the ways in which Kimberly was sabotaging her diet and health. She also focused on how you can use positive messaging and self-talk—rather than being down on yourself for slipping up—to keep your entire weight-loss journey positive and rewarding, rather than a big bummer.

Armed with meal plans, a daily calorie limit, and healthy shopping lists and tips from Dawn, Kimberly made several changes that have added up to, well, big weight-loss rewards.

She started to follow a balanced, 1,500-calorie-a-day plan filled with healthy fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, and lots and lots of water and other calorie-free fluids. Since she was used to eating about 2,500 calories or more per day and had basically been sustaining her current weight, Dawn calculated that the new plan of 1,000 fewer calories a day should result in a safe, 2-pound-per-week weight loss. And although Kimberly first lost weight in 5- or 6-pound-per-week increments, that slowed to a steady (and healthy) 2 pounds per week after about a month.

At six months, Kimberly is 50 pounds lighter and hasn’t felt this good in years. Here are some of her best tips to lose big.

1. Seek professional help.
A registered dietitian can evaluate your current eating pattern and develop strategies that work as part of your lifestyle, using what you already like to eat.

2. Drink lots of calorie-free beverages.
“I figured out that I was eating when a glass of water was all I needed,” Kimberly tells me. “I find that keeping hydrated helps keep my hunger more manageable.”

3. Stay on schedule.
Stick with eating at regular times during the day, rather than snacking all day or skipping meals.

4. Exercise is not an excuse to pig out!
You still have to watch what you eat, even if you exercise a lot. Kimberly runs marathons and even ultra-distance events, but she realized that she used junk food and treats as rewards for her exercise. Once she started focusing more on her diet than exercise, she found the weight really started to drop off.

5. Do the calorie math.
The real reason why Kimberly had so much success is because she calculated, with the help of a professional, how many calories she needed to consume and burn off every day in order to lose weight at a safe rate. For her, and for many other women carrying around some extra weight, that means downsizing by about 500 calories a day. See what a 1,500-calorie-a-day meal plan looks like, and find other creative ways to consume fewer (or burn extra) calories.

Next page: 5 tips from Kimberly’s dietitian

I also asked Kimberly’s dietitian, Dawn Jackson Blatner, for her own list of advice. Here’s how she helps her clients shed the weight and learn to love a healthier diet.

1. Keep it positive.
Always motivate clients (and friends) with positive, not negative, reinforcement.

2. Explore different foods.
You’ll be less likely to cheat on your diet if your taste buds stay satisfied. Try at least one new and exciting healthy recipe each week so you don’t find yourself eating boring baked chicken and salad every day.

3. Mix up your workout sessions.
Try two to three different workouts per week to keep things fresh. Blend together a variety of activities such as a walk outside, jump rope, bike ride, or a fun exercise dance DVD.

4. Set goals and rewards.
Work on one goal at a time and be sure to give yourself a (diet-friendly) reward for each behavior you successfully change. For example, once you successfully decrease your soda-drinking, treat yourself to a movie or manicure. Then start working on limiting after-dinner snacking, with a reward of buying a new book or earrings.

5. Seek support.
If you are feeling the beginnings of a burnout, enlist the help of your healthy friends to motivate you. Start exercising with them, share workout music, or ask them for some new recipe or snack ideas to pump some excitement into your routine.