Can You Really Think Yourself Thin?

The latest weight-loss trend: using brain science to adopt a healthier approach to eating
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Why Tracking Your Weight Loss on Social Media (Like Ciara) Can Actually Help

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Even two months after giving birth to baby number two, Ciara’s body is still #goals. But according to an Instagram post the singer shared a few weeks ago, she put on more weight than she planned to while pregnant with her second child.


“I said I wasn’t going to gain 60lbs Carrying Sienna, and… I did exactly that!!” Ciara captioned the photo of her feet standing on a scale that read 178.6 pounds. “4 weeks after her birth I lost 20 lbs. This Weeks Goal is 10lbs. I was 183 yesterday.”




Ciara has since shared two more scale updates: On June 13, she was down to 175.2. Then on June 20, the singer reported she had a “no movement week”—and was still hovering around 175 pounds: “Started my stretch mark removal process this week, and the Doc told me I couldn’t work out…so I ate healthy & added a few [cookies] in the mix!” But Ciara didn’t let the exercise restriction squash her motivation: “This weeks goal 3lbs. #BounceBack” 




RELATED: 57 Ways to Lose Weight Forever, According to Science


While the notion of posting scale pics on Insta may seem daunting, Ciara is on to something. For a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, researchers looked at people who belonged to an online weight loss community for six months. They found that those who regularly logged in, “friended” others, and shared the number on their scale shed more pounds —8.3% of their body weight, on average—compared to those who didn’t network on the site, and lost only 4.1% of their body weight.


Another study, published in 2014 in the Journal of the American Informatics Association, found that people who posted slim-down updates on Twitter reported receiving more support from their Twitter followers than their real-life friends and family. What’s more, greater support from social media friends was associated with greater weight loss success.


Meanwhile, research on weight-loss bloggers has found that the longer they maintain a blog, the more pounds they ditch. In a 2016 study, bloggers reported that sharing their progress online helped them stay focused on their goals, kept them accountable, and led to social support.


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There’s no question that encouraging words can go a long way when you’re trying to make a big change. And it might be easier to get that kind of support online: Posting about your weight loss journey on social media may feel less intimidating than talking about it IRL, points out Sherry Pagoto, PhD, co-founder of the UMass Center for Health and Social Media


“Some people say they like the anonymity [online],” she explains. “On Twitter, you can choose a handle and use an avatar on your profile, which makes some people feel like they can speak more freely and not be ashamed or embarrassed to talk about their weight.”


And it’s worth noting that you don’t need 16.7 million followers like Ciara to leverage social media for your health. A small but mighty group of virtual supporters may be enough, says Pagoto. “It’s takes time to create an online community. But if you engage and stick with it, you can experience a lot of weight loss benefits. It just takes a little bit of work.”


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Shonda Rhimes Wrote the Realest Essay About Her 150-Pound Weight Loss

According to Shonda Rhimes, the only thing worse than shedding a lot of weight is getting the wrong kind of attention for it afterward. In a newsletter sent to Shondaland subscribers last week, Rhimes, 47, reveals that it wasn’t until she lost nearly 150 pounds that people seemed to find her “valuable.”


Though the Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal creator dropped the weight about two years ago, she’s still stunned and disturbed by the way people, even strangers, reacted to her transformation.


“I did not do it because I thought I would become beautiful like in the movies,” Rhimes explains. “I did it because I could not walk up a short flight up stairs without stopping to take a break and wiping sweat from my brow. I did it because my body was physically rebelling against the brain that had been ignoring it for so long.”


RELATED: 4 Annoying Comments to Expect When You’re Losing Weight


And don’t get her wrong, Rhimes still isn’t taken with #cleanliving. In fact, she loathed what it took to lose so many pounds.


“Losing weight is not a topic I like discussing,” she writes. “Why? Because there is nothing fun or interesting or great about it. I hated losing weight. I hated every single second of it. And I hate every single second of maintaining my weight, too.”


What Rhimes hated even more was how slimming down changed the way people reacted to her. “But you know what was worse than losing weight? What was SO MUCH MORE HORRIFYING? How people treated me after I lost weight,” she explains.


“I mean, things got weird,” writes Rhimes. Especially when women she hardly knew gushed over her new look. “Like I was holding-a-new-baby-gushed. Only there was no new baby. It was just me. In a dress. With makeup on and my hair all did, yes. But…still the same me.”


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Men began to take notice of Rhimes too, she recalls. “THEY SPOKE TO ME. Like stood still and had long conversations with me about things. It was disconcerting.”


The newfound attention wasn’t the only thing that made this high-powered TV producer uncomfortable. She was also appalled by how breezily people commented on her appearance, calling her “hot” or telling her they were were “proud of her.”


“After I lost weight, I discovered that people found me valuable. Worthy of conversation. A person one could look at. A person one could compliment. A person one could admire,” she continues. 


To Rhimes, it felt like others only considered her worthy of conversation once she looked a certain way. After that realization, she began to wonder. “What the hell did they see me as before? How invisible was I to them? How hard did they work to avoid me?” she writes.


WATCH THE VIDEO: What 5 Olympic Athletes Can Teach You About Body Confidence 


Of course Rhimes also infuses her newsletter with humor. While lamenting how hard it was to drop the 150 pounds, she says she misses eating “all the fried chicken,” and not just when it was on her plate. “No. I miss eating ALL THE FRIED CHICKEN,” she writes. “All of it. Every piece, everywhere.”


Jokes aside, Rhimes makes a powerful point in a world where unrealistic body ideals are everywhere and a person’s size is often linked to their value. “Being thinner doesn’t make you a different person,” she says. “It just makes you thinner.”


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Almost 30% of People In the World Are Obese or Overweight

This article originally appeared on Time.com. 


The global obesity epidemic continues, and a new report shows that about two billion people worldwide are overweight or obese. That’s about 30% of the world’s population.


The new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that about a third of the global population—including adults and children—exceed a healthy weight. About 10% of people in the world are obese, according to the findings. Studies have linked overweight and obesity to a higher risk for health complications like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, respiratory problems, major cancers and more.


MORE: 9 Science-Backed Weight Loss Tips


The study authors looked at data from people in 195 countries and territories from 1980 through 2015. They found that in 2015, there were 107 million children and 603 million adults with obesity. Having a high body mass index accounted for 4 million deaths in 2015, and more than two thirds of these deaths were from heart disease.


Since 1980, obesity rates in 70 countries have doubled, the study found, and the rate of childhood obesity has increased faster in many countries than the adult obesity rate.


As TIME recently reported, several factors have contributed to the growing obesity epidemic, including greater access to fast food, larger portion sizes and ubiquitous processed food. Emerging science also suggests that chemicals from food and household products may have an effect.


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Woman Who Lost 70 Lbs. Says Having a Partner with Parkinson's Inspired Her to Be Her Best Self

This article originally appeared on People.com. 


Marie Byrne used to deal with her unhappiness by eating.


“I was an emotional eater — happy, sad or angry, I ate,” the Gloucester, U.K.-based nursery manager, 42, tells PEOPLE. “Plus, my husband at the time was very overweight so he didn’t mind what I looked like. When you live with someone who doesn’t support you and encourages you to eat takeaway multiple times a week, the weight is bound to go on. I made excuses, as that was easier than facing up to the fact that I was overweight.”


Before she knew it, Byrne — a mom of two — weighed 223 lbs. at 5’3″. But it wasn’t until an alarming doctor visit that she started to seriously consider the health implications of carrying so much weight.


“My blood pressure was through the roof,” she says. “The doctor even said that I was a heart attack or stroke waiting to happen. My mum had a stroke very young, and it scared us as a family. I didn’t want to put my family through the same thing, so knew I had to do something.”


Byrne started doing Jillian Michaels’ workouts (available on her app and FitFusion) and says they played a crucial part in her weight loss.


“It was not easy — there were days when I swore at the TV, but the feeling I felt after the workout and still do, there are no words for,” she says. “I had energy, stamina and inner-strength that I did not know that I had.”


In addition to starting a workout regimen, Byrne worked to overhaul her diet.


“The same day I started to exercise was the day I started to really look at what went into my body,” she says. “I decided to split my meals into calories per meal, and tried not to go over that. I also made sure that I ate three meals a day, something that I never did before. I never had breakfast, and my lunch was always huge with extra helpings of junk. My biggest change was portion size. The first time I looked at my plate I wondered how that was going to satisfy me, but it did.”


Byrne has dropped 70 lbs., and continues to do Michaels’ workouts at 5 a.m. before work every day.


“Sometimes I’m so tired, but once I get into my own head, I push on regardless of how my body feels,” she says. “I truly believe she changed my life, and that’s a strong statement to make. The changes with my body encouraged me to push on.”


Another motivation for her weight loss journey has been dating someone with Parkinson’s disease, who inspires her to be her healthiest self.


“He was with me at my heaviest and still wanted me for me,” says Byrne. “He doesn’t moan about his condition. When we first got together he was going to Pilates and would walk his dog three times a day. He was way more active than me. What excuse did I have not to exercise when he didn’t make any excuses?”


“I know I’m going to be with this man for the rest of my life, and we don’t know how Parkinson’s will affect him in the future, so I need to be strong for him because one day he may need me to be,” she continues. “I know he’s proud of me, and that inspires me to continue, because I’m so proud of him for not being defeated by something he has no control over.”


Byrne says her partner not only inspired her to be more active, but to be her best self inside and out.


“If I wasn’t happy with me, how could I expect anyone else to be?” she says. “My smile is a genuine one now, not masked. I’m happy.”


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9 Science-Backed Weight Loss Tips

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This article originally appeared on Time.com. 


Losing weight is tough, both mentally and physically. New science shows that when the body starts to lose substantial amounts of weight, it fights viciously to gain it back. But despite the biological roadblocks, plenty of people are successful at losing weight and keeping it off over the long term.


But how? As part of its recent exploration of the new science of weight loss, TIME asked 9 weight loss and obesity experts their best advice for people who are trying to lose weight. Here are their top tips for what works when it comes to slimming down.


Cut out soda


“Avoid all sugary drinks, as they provide ’empty calories’ that don’t fill you up. The sugar may uniquely act on the liver to produce belly fat.”


—Dr. Dean Schillinger, chief of the University of California, San Francisco Division of General Internal Medicine


Don’t focus on calories


“The ‘calorie in, calorie out’ approach fails, because it disregards how food affects our hormones and metabolism. Pay attention to food quality.”


—Dr. David S. Ludwig, professor of nutrition at Harvard Medical School


MORE: You Asked: What’s the Best Way to Lose Weight?


Keep it basic


“The simple message is to eat a healthful diet and to engage in more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. The challenge is how to actually accomplish that in an environment that seems to push us constantly in the wrong direction.”


—Dr. Stephen R. Daniels, pediatrician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital Colorado


TIME Health NewsletterGet the latest health and science news, plus: burning questions and expert tips. View Sample


Adjust your goal weight


“Aim to achieve and improve health and reach a psychologically ‘happy weight,’ not an unrealistic ‘ideal’ weight that may be impossible to reach for most.”


—Dr. Jaideep Behari, associate professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine


Commit to change


“People need to have the mindset of someone who is ready and willing to make some permanent changes in the way they live. A number of treatments can create short-term weight loss without a great deal of effort from the person, but they don’t allow for long-term weight loss.”


—Dr. Michael Jensen, obesity researcher at the Mayo Clinic


MORE: ‘I Swallowed a Balloon For Weight Loss and Lost 40 Lbs.’


Eat delicious food


“You need a program that satisfies hunger and has good food so it doesn’t feel like a diet. Hunger erodes willpower, and that’s the reason most diets fail.”


—Susan B. Roberts, professor of nutrition at Tufts University and founder of iDiet


Recruit support


“Make small changes that stick, make changes as a family and keep it positive.”


—Dr. Stephen Pont, medical director of the childhood obesity center at Dell Children’s Medical Center


Get educated


“The culprit is not bad choices by individuals. It is the toxic food environment in which calories are ubiquitous. Until the food environment changes, everyone must become aware of the calories they consume, especially those from beverages, sweets, and other calorie-dense foods.”


—Dr. Lawrence J. Appel, director of the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research at Johns Hopkins University


MORE: If You Want to Lose Weight, Don’t Eat Out


Make friends with moderation


“A person can eat almost anything they want, but the portion size has to be appropriate. For example, eat dinner on a salad plate rather than a dinner plate to cut the portion size in half.”


—Melinda L. Irwin, professor of epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health


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5 Weight Loss Tips From People Who Have Actually Done It

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This article originally appeared on Time.com. 


Most Americans want to lose weight, but it’s no simple feat. Just ask someone who’s done it.


That’s exactly what TIME did in a recent cover story looking at new weight loss science. After speaking to people who had successfully lost weight (after failing many times), it became clear that there’s no best way to go about it. Instead, evidence—both scientific and anecdotal—show that it’s possible for anyone to reach a healthy weight through a strategy that works best for them.


Here’s what worked for five people who lost weight and kept it off.


Go slow and steady


“I’ve been overweight my entire life. I’d try different diets, lose a few pounds and then gain it back. When I turned 25, I was 485 lb. and I knew I was fighting for my life. I want to have kids one day and be more active with my husband. I wanted to stop sitting on the sidelines of my own life. At the beginning of 2016, I started tracking my calories, working out and making healthier versions of the foods I loved. Ultimately, I fell in love with taking care of myself. My advice is to focus on each day, not how far you have to go. Weight loss is a journey, not a sprint.”


Lexi Reed, age 26, lost 278 lb. in 16 months


MORE: 9 Science-Backed Weight Loss Tips


Keep a journal


“Don’t just write down everything you eat. Write down how you feel that day, what is going on in your life and how you feel after eating. After a while, look through your journal for patterns. Chances are you’ll find some. I’m a recovering food addict, and nothing was more freeing than realizing what behaviors or events were triggering my addiction. It wasn’t that I had no willpower; my brain was reacting to certain habits that made it hard for my willpower to do its job. Once I removed those patterns—like keeping cookies around the house—my willpower muscle could finally flex.”


Erika Nicole Kendall, 33, lost 170 lb. over two years


Give yourself a break


“You don’t have to eat salad all the time to lose weight. There are so many ways to tweak ingredients and make food you actually love to eat—even pancakes. (Try almond flour.) That being said, the type of food you eat also defines your lifestyle. You can eat junk food and lose weight, but you will probably be hungry all the time. So give yourself an occasional cheat day or reward for sticking to your plan. In the end, you want to lose weight in a healthy way, without feeling like you’re hurting yourself.”


Nivedith Renga, age 26, lost 65 lb. in nine months


Find something that sticks


“When I graduated college in 2012, I was at my highest weight ever. I was embarrassed about my weight and what I looked like, and I was terrified of being the person in the gym who didn’t know what they were doing. I sat in my doctor’s office and remember deciding that I was going to do whatever it took, however long it took, to change my life. I tried a variety of different diets that worked, but I felt like I was losing my mind not being able to eat certain foods, and I hated that even though I was ‘losing weight’, I still had a really disordered relationship with food. Food is supposed to bring joy and happiness.


I decided to give ‘macro counting’ a whirl. It’s similar to calorie counting, but rather than keeping track of your calories, you keep track of the number of grams of protein, fat, and carbs you eat per day. Following this is what ended up giving me the biggest change overall. I felt like I wasn’t starving myself or depriving myself to lose weight. You have to find something you can stick to. What works for one person may not work for another. Whatever you choose, it has to be for life.”


Kelly Rojek, 27, lost 50 lb. in 18 months


Manage expectations


“You have to make slow and steady adjustments, that worked for me. I measured and weighed food to become more aware of portion size. I wrote down what I ate and ate more frequent, smaller meals throughout the day. I try to include protein in each meal to control hunger. I don’t deprive myself, and I’ve gotten rid of ‘all or nothing’ thinking. People could still look at me and consider me overweight. You have to accept you’re never going to be a willowy model, but I am at a very good weight that I can manage.”


Jody Jeans, 52, lost 75 lb. over five years.


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8 Metabolism Secrets That Help You Blast Calories

Discover how to torch more calories every day and boost your metabolism in this complete guide to your body’s fat-burning engine.
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Formerly Overweight Nurse Loses Over 70 Lbs.: 'I Didn't Want to Be a Contradiction to My Patients'

This article originally appeared on People.com. 


Megan McGee started gaining weight when she got involved in an unhealthy relationship.


“I stopped doing all the things I used to do like seeing friends and going to the gym, so I became quite isolated,” the Middlesex, England-based nurse, 26, tells PEOPLE. Then she decided to break free. “When I started reconnecting with my friends again, I realized that I’d become the ‘fat friend.’ I didn’t like going out because I hated the way I looked and shopping for clothes would always end in tears. I was a deeply unhappy person — I had no self-worth and no self-esteem.”


RELATED: Woman Who Lost 185 Lbs. Shows Off Excess Skin: ‘I Wanted People to Realize What Obesity Does’


What really motivated McGee to get healthy was entering the nursing profession.


“As a nurse, I wanted to be the healthiest version of myself that I could be,” she says. “I didn’t want to be a walking contradiction to my patients, promoting healthy living but not being healthy myself.”



When a friend asked McGee to join the weight loss program Slimming World with her, she decided to give it a try.


“I thought to myself, ‘Just imagine how different life could be if I were to take all of this time and effort that I spend hating myself and put it into creating a life that I love and could be proud of,’ ” she says. “I realized that I needed to become my own best friend instead of my harshest critic, so when a friend of mine asked me to join with her it just felt like the timing was right.”


RELATED: Your Favorite Chocolate Bars Are About to Get Smaller. Here’s Why


Before joining, McGee would regularly skip meals and snack throughout the day on high-calorie foods.


“Now I have regular mealtimes and enjoy wholesome homemade dinners,” she says. “I eat a lot of the same meals as before, but I’ve learned how to make them differently so they’re healthier, like using lean meat and making sauces from scratch. I eat more now than I did before, and I never feel hungry or unsatisfied.”


She also found the confidence to return to the gym.


“As I lost weight, I became much more active,” says McGee. “I enjoy exercise classes at my gym and have regular personal training sessions. And I have lots more energy for my busy shifts as a nurse.”



While she’s lost over 70 lbs. since joining Slimming World, she says the best changes have been those you can’t see.


“I’m mentally stronger than I’ve ever been before,” she says. “The physical changes are great, but the psychological changes I’ve had are the ones that have benefited my life beyond anything I could ever have imagined; my weight loss has been an outward reflection of my healthier state of mind.”


RELATED: Do Diet and Exercise Really Make You Fat? Experts Respond to the TED Talk People Are Buzzing About 


“Since losing weight I’ve had the confidence to volunteer in Tanzania on a nursing placement, and this summer I traveled to Alaska to work for my family,” McGee continues. “My biggest ambition in life now is to see the world, travel, explore and to use my life and profession to help as many people as I can while experiencing all the world has to offer.”



She hopes to be an inspiration to others, including the patients she works with every day.


“I have so many patients who are on Slimming World and when I tell them that I am too, it has helped to build rapport and they become much more comfortable discussing weight-related aspects of their care, because I can empathize and can speak from the heart,” she says. “I want to be an ambassador of hope to those who feel as hopeless as I did. I want to inspire people to be brave enough to take that first step, and embrace the chance to change. There is nothing to lose and so much life to gain.”


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