7 Simple Ways to Stay on Track at the BBQ

7 Simple Ways to Stay on Track at the BBQ

Backyard barbecues are a real minefield when you”;re trying to lose weight and stay healthy. First, most of them are a carnivore”;s delight–;lots of steak, burgers and bratwurst sizzling irresistibly on the grill. Second, cookouts redefine salad as “;something soaking in high-fat mayonnaise.”; And the desserts? Fuggedaboutit, even if you do have room after that outdoor feast.

But if you choose to step away from your diet plan to take in the festivities, you can till successfully stay on track at the BBQ by making good choices and doing a little prep. First, know which foods to stay away from (or at least to keep to a teeny tiny portion size). Click here to get our list of the 5 Worst Calorie Bombs at the BBQ. Then, be smart about the food choices you make while there. Here’s how to keep winning at weight loss without missing out on the fun:

1. Volunteer to Bring the Apps
If you don”;t want your only choice to be chips and high-calorie onion dip or a cheese and sausage tray, offer to bring a gorgeous cut veggie plate with low-fat dip, or baked chips with salsa or hummus.

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2. BYOM (Bring Your Own Meat)
Easy enough to do when you”;re hosting and much appreciated by your hosts when you”;re not, since meat is the most expensive part of the meal. Check first that your host is okay with it. If he or she is planning a gourmet feast of kobe beef or individual quail, you may just want to exercise portion control. But it”;s just as easy to throw a turkey or veggie burger or hot dog on the grill when the grillmaster is cooking regular burgers and brats. Friends are usually happy to accommodate you.

If you have the choice, go for grilled chicken, fish or lean beef. Even a regular hot dog is less fatty and calorie-laden than other kinds of sausage. Save a load of calories and carbs by saying no to the bun and cheese. Avoid mayo. Stick to mustard, dill relish or a little ketchup (just a little since it”;s full of sugar which can stimulate your appetite).

3. Take a Small Scoop of Coleslaw
Even if it”;s made with high-fat mayonnaise, one serving (around three ounces) is only about 172 calories and has two grams of fiber (thank you cabbage!), according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Better yet, make your own–;just substitute low-cal mayo for the regular or do a vinegar-based dressing and you can cut the calories by as much a two-thirds.

4. Have Some Baked Beans
Stick to half a cup or less because they”;re high in calories. One cup has more than 300 of them, depending on the brand. But they”;re high in satisfying fiber–;half a cup of Bush”;s Original, for example, has five grams of fiber for only 150 calories.* Be sure to opt for low-sodium varieties if you’re the bean-bringer.

5. Load Up on Green Salad
This time of year, produce is abundant. Bring your own green salad (add lots of low-cal veggies) to share as well as bottle of low-cal dressing. Or, opt for grilled veggie kebabs, which are full of fiber and go light on calories.

6. Have Whole Wheat Pasta Salad
The chances of someone making this? Pretty slim. But you don”;t have to be much of a cook to throw together an awesome pasta salad. Pick a fun shape, like corkscrew (fusilli), wagon wheels, bowties or gemelli. Add some veggies, like halved cherry tomatoes, fresh peas, snapbeans (blanched a little to soften them), grated carrots, edamame (soybeans), corn, scallions, peppers, onions or whatever you have fresh. Punch up the flavor with fresh herbs, like basil, oregano or mint or even shavings of ginger with a light dressing of olive oil and balsamic or flavored vinegar with a touch of Dijon mustard to bind it. A sprinkling of fat-free feta adds some protein with very few calories.

7. For Dessert, Think Fresh or Frozen
End your meal with a slice of watermelon, a scoop of fruit salad or fruity sorbet, or a healthier frozen fruit bar like Outshine brand*, which has 60-80 calories, depending on the flavor, and contains no high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener research suggests may put you at risk for obesity and diabetes.

The post 7 Simple Ways to Stay on Track at the BBQ appeared first on The Leaf.

Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com

5 Low Calorie Condiments to Use at the BBQ

5 Low Calorie Condiments to Use at the BBQ

You can still enjoy the delicious fun of summertime cookouts and stay on track with your weight loss goal. We have lots of lower-calorie ideas to help you do that, such as 5 Better for You Burger Recipes You”;ll Love > and Healthier Potato Salad> But while you are choosing healthy dishes like those, be aware that sneaky excess calories are lurking in places where you might not expect them. Condiments may seem like just little dabs of flavor, but, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a single tablespoon of ketchup can have four grams of sugar and an equal amount of mayonnaise can come with 90 calories and 10 grams of fat. That”;s why they”;re counted as “;Extras”; in your Nutrisystem weight loss plan (Not on Nutrisystem yet? Click here to get started >). Good news: These five low calorie condiments are loaded with flavor. Better news: They are all “;Free”; foods you can enjoy to your heart”;s content.

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Here”;s what you need to know about choosing and using low calorie condiments :
1. Mustard

honey mustard

The seeds from the mustard plant, a leafy green with a spicy flavor, are ground up and blended with vinegar and other ingredients to make the familiar yellow condiment. The color actually comes from turmeric, another flavorful spice. The mustard shelf at the grocery store is filled with lots of choices, from mild, smooth-textured bright yellow types to browner, grainier and very hot varieties. Dijon mustard is blended with white wine to add a tart flavor to balance the moderately spicy taste of the mustard. Beware of honey mustard, which has added sugar, and “;dijonnaise,”; which has all the excess calories and fats of mayonnaise.

TRY: Mustard is most commonly used to add zest to burgers and hot dogs, but it makes a tasty glaze for grilled chicken, fish or vegetables. You can also use it to make a low calorie flavorful salad dressing, such as our Creamy Honey Mustard topping >

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2. Lemon/Lime Juice

low-calorie lemon lime juice

Your food gets a spark of bright, acidic flavor from the juice of these two citrus fruits. Both are nearly calorie-free and loaded with vitamin C. Generally, lemons are slightly more sour than limes, while for many people the latter has a lightly bitter taste. Fresh lemons and limes have the best flavor and they”;re easy to slice up and squeeze for juice by hand. You can also find packaged lemon and lime juice in supermarkets–;just be sure before you buy that they are pure juice and contain no added sweeteners.

TRY: Fresh lemon or lime juice adds a refreshing splash of flavor to calorie-free seltzer. These juices also brighten the taste of grilled fish or chicken, and they add a spark of acid to mixed and fruit salads. Briefly grill lemon or lime halves to infuse them with a smoky taste that gives many dishes a flame-cooked flavor.

3. Hot Sauce

low calorie condiments

Also known as chili sauce or pepper sauce, this spicy condiment is made from hot peppers blended with a little vinegar. Hot sauce comes in a wide range of heat options, from mildly tongue tingling to five-alarm fire. Those made with habanero or ghost peppers tend to be the spiciest. Sriracha (sometimes call “;rooster sauce”; because of the image on its label) is a popular Vietnamese-style hot sauce that”;s moderately spicy. According to BioMed Central, all hot sauces are loaded with capsaicin, the heat-bearing compound that research shows speeds metabolism and can help burn fat.

TRY: Unless you”;re an experienced hot-sauce lover, start with just a few drops on your food and add more once you”;ve tasted it. Mix a little hot sauce into ground turkey to punch up the flavor of your burgers with one of the most flavorful low calorie condiments. Sprinkle a little on grilled vegetables or seafood, such a shrimp or clams. Use hot sauce to make a zesty (and sugar-free) marinade for meats by whisking it with a little olive oil, fresh lime juice, minced garlic and chopped scallions.

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4. Salsa

low calorie condiments

When we think of salsa, we typically picture a chunky sauce made with tomatoes, chile peppers and onions that comes in various levels of spiciness. You can also find salsas that are based on tomatillos (green or “;salsa verde”;) or fruit such as mangoes or pineapple. When shopping for bottled salsa, be sure to check the label for added sugar, which will load on extra calories. To get all the goodness and nothing more, you can use our recipe to whip up your own fresh salsa in minutes.

TRY: Skip the cream-based dips and instead slip your veggies into a bowl of one of our favorite low calorie condiments: Salsa. Make quick and healthy guacamole for dipping by blending salsa and lemon or lime juice with mashed avocado. Hold the ketchup and top your burger with a spoonful of salsa. Fruit-based salsas turn plain grilled fish into tropical treat.

5. Vinegar

low calorie condiments

According to the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine, vinegar is made, like wine, by fermentation, which in this case produces acetic acid rather than alcohol. While vinegar generally has a tangy flavor, you”;ll see a variety of types made with such ingredients as apple cider, red wine, and even champagne, each with slightly different tastes. Balsamic vinegar, made from grapes leftover from wine-making, is dark-colored and tends to be thicker and more flavor-intense than other types. Vinegar has long been used in cooking as well as a folk remedy for many conditions. One recent study even found that vinegar may prevent spikes in blood sugar, which can be very beneficial for people with diabetes.

TRY: Vinegar infused with herbs such as tarragon or basil make a flavorful (and calorie-free) salad dressing. A trick many chefs use is to splash roasted or grilled meats or vegetables with a little vinegar while they”;re still warm, which brings out the full flavor of the ingredients. Use apple cider vinegar in place of the creamy dressing in coleslaw or potato to reduce their fat content.

Interested in learning more about low-calorie options? Check out more recipes here >

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Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com

6 Foods You Should Never Eat Before Bed

6 Foods You Should Never Eat Before Bed

A good night”;s sleep is just as important as a good diet and home exercise plan to help you lose weight. Many studies have found a link between lack of sleep and weight gain. One big reason: Your hormones–;specifically the ones that regulate hunger. One study, for example, found that sleep-deprived people had higher levels of the appetite-boosting hormone ghrelin and lower levels of leptin, the hormone that tells you when you”;re full. You know what happens when those two are out of balance.

Another reason: When you”;re tired, your energy levels are likely to make the couch–;and not the walking trail–;look like the perfect place to be. In fact, a 2008 review study in the journal Obesity found that sleep-deprived people spent more time watching TV than doing something active.

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Most sleep experts recommend that you maintain a consistent sleep routine: Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on the weekends; exercise regularly; get a good dose of sunshine (to set your internal clock); keep it low-key before you hit the hay, and avoid foods and beverages that can interfere with your eight hours.

Here are six foods you should never eat before bed:
1. Anything with Caffeine

You know tea and coffee have this pick-me-up ingredient that can keep you awake at night, but did you know that chocolate and colas do, too? There are a few more sources that might surprise you that should be avoided before bed. For example, some non-cola sodas also have caffeine. One citrus-flavored brand has 41 milligrams per serving–;about half the caffeine in a cup of coffee. Energy bars and drinks often rely on caffeine for their boost. And watch out for ice cream and yogurt, particularly those with coffee, mocha or “;java,”; which is just another word for coffee.

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2. Alcohol

A glass or two of wine may help you fall asleep, but it won”;t be restful. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, studies have consistently shown that having a drink or two within an hour of bedtime increases wakefulness during the second–;and most important–;half of the sleep cycle. You”;re likely to wake up and not be able to get back to sleep readily, leaving you exhausted (and hungry) the next day. Although that glass might seem like a relaxing way to unwind, keep in mind why it should be avoided before bed.

3. Fatty Foods

There are three big reasons not to indulge in greasy burgers, fries, and full-fat ice cream during the day. You can guess the first–;they”;re unhealthy and fattening. But the other two relate to sleep. If you have acid reflux or even just suffer from occasional heartburn, fatty meals can wake you–;painfully–;many times a night. Fatty foods are harder to digest, so they”;re in your digestive system longer, requiring more acid to break them down. Plus, they can contribute to weight gain by hurting your healthy diet and interfering with your sleep. Studies suggest that a high fat diet may decrease your sensitivity to orexin, a chemical that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Rats on a high fat menu stopped responding effectively to orexin, decreased their physical activity, and gained weight. Add these foods to your list of things to avoid before bed for a better night”;s rest.

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4. Spicy Foods

Of course, we all know that spicy foods can lead to indigestion and that can keep us up at night. But that”;s only one way that evening enchilada can interfere with our ZZZs. One small study found that a spicy meal (the researchers doused it with Tabasco sauce and mustard) kept their subjects up at night possibly because it increased their body temperatures. A night-time drop in body temperature is suspected to be an essential trigger for sleep.

5. Citrus Fruits

Not only does the acid in citrus trigger heartburn, aromatherapists use the essential oils of citrus fruits as an energizer–;not something you want right before bed.

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6. A Big Drink of Anything

Drinking even one glass of water before bed can get you up once–;or more frequently–;to urinate at night. But make sure you”;re well hydrated during the day otherwise what might wake you up is a painful nighttime leg cramp, usually in the calf or feet, caused by dehydration. While hydration is beneficial, avoiding over drinking before bed can help ensure a better night”;s sleep.

Looking for healthy late-night snack idea? Try these Late Night Chicken Taquitos! > Then check out these Five Things To Do Tonight To Lose Weight Tomorrow and learn to Sleep Better Tonight To Lose Weight Tomorrow. Two excellent articles to help you learn how to lose fat.

The post 6 Foods You Should Never Eat Before Bed appeared first on The Leaf.

Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com

Cardio vs. Strength Training: What’s Better?

Cardio vs. Strength Training: What’s Better?

If you could only choose one, should you strength train or do cardio? Trick question! You don”;t have to choose, and you shouldn”;t. Both types of exercise are important not just for maintaining a healthy weight, but for your overall health. That”;s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio each week, plus two strength-training sessions.

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Here”;s a rundown of why both strength training and cardio work benefit your health and your weight loss goals, with easy ways to fit both into your busy life.
Why you need cardio:

cardioAlmost 80 percent of Americans don”;t achieve the CDC”;s 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week, meaning they miss out on a ton of benefits: Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, of course, but also decreased risks for diabetes, osetoporosis and premature death.

If you vary the pace of your cardio work, it can be supercharged: Interval training, where short bursts of harder work are alternated with easier work or total rest have been found in multiple studies, according to Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, to burn more fat and increase cardiovascular function better than steady-state, medium-paced work.

Why cardio alone isn”;t good enough:

Some studies seem to suggest that cardiovascular exercise, by itself, is better for weight loss than combining it with strength training. In an eight-month study of 234 overweight people conducted by Duke University Medical Center, researchers found that those who did cardio alone lost 1.76 kilograms, while those who did a combination of cardio and strength lost slightly less, 1.63 kilograms. Members of a third group, who did just strength training, actually gained about 2 pounds during the study.

strength trainingBut if you look a little deeper, the cardio-only group lost weight, but they didn”;t lose lean body mass–;meaning they lost muscle, not fat. The combo group gained .81 kilograms of muscle, and the strength-only group tacked on more than two pounds of muscle–;meaning they lost fat overall. And a body with less fat and more muscle not only looks good, but burns more calories at rest and can help protect against disease, reduce fall risk and lower your overall risk of death.

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An easy way to do it:

Walk! You may think you have to sprint or jog to get all these benefits, but walking does a lot of good. While your watch may be telling you that 10,000 steps is somehow magical, you don”;t need that many to get benefits: For every 1,000 steps you take each day, you can reduce your risk of “;functional limitation”; in the future due to arthritis by 16 to 18 percent (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140612085120.htm).

And walking can help keep weight off: One study conducted by Hopkins Medicine found that “;moderately active”; people lowered their levels of dangerous visceral fat by 7.4 percent compared with inactive subjects . And you can even get the fat-burning benefits of interval training while walking: Try changing your pace by as little as five inches per second for bursts of one minute, followed by one minute of slower walking. According to Biology Letters, when study participants did this, they burned 20 percent more calories than when they walked the same pace throughout their walk.

Why you need strength:

Having muscular strength means you can do more than just pick up a barbell. The American Heart Association recommends strength training because it improves cardiovascular function, lowers your heart disease risk, Walkingincreases resting metabolism and improves your “;psychosocial well-being.”; But that”;s not all! Strength training improves cognitive function, according to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and even works productivity.

And, of course, it can help stave off weight gain: In a Harvard study, researchers found that men who did 20 minutes of daily weight training had less age-related belly fat gains than those who did the same amount of cardio work.

Why strength training alone isn”;t enough:

It”;s possible to increase your heart rate while performing strength work so that you”;re “;doing cardio”; while lifting weights, but for many of us, it”;s unlikely that we”;ll elevate our heart rate enough during strength training to match the 150 cumulative weekly minutes needed to realize the cardio benefits described above. And if you do, it”;s possible you”;re sacrificing strength work–;that is, your strength training isn”;t challenging your strength enough, and has “;turned into”; cardio. You need both!

An easy way to do it:

People using dumbbellsIf you”;re going to the gym, lift light weights. Studies have found that lifting weights to failure–;continuing the movement until you can”;t do another repetition–;is the most important factor in building muscle strength and size, whether the load is heavy or light. One study of this kind showed that men who lifted 30 to 50 percent of their maximum weight for sets of 20 to 25 repetitions gained as much strength and size as others who lifted 75 to 80 percent of their maximum for eight repetitions per set. So if big, heavy weights make you nervous, stick to the smaller stuff. And if training to failure, be safe: Consider using a machine or a really light dumbbell so that if you truly fail, the weight isn”;t putting you in danger.

No gym membership? No problem! Your body weight provides plenty of resistance. The act of getting in and out of a chair without using your hands for assistance is a strength training exercise–;and it helps build muscle power, which can increase your ability to avoid a fall as you age. Try these five simple power-building exercises to start.

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OK, which should I do first?:

If you”;re going to perform cardio and strength work in the same day, studies vary on which you should do first. One study published by Ace Fitness found that if you perform weight training first, your cardio workout can be harder than it would normally–;resulting in an increase in pulse of 12 beats per minute compared to when the cardio”;s done first. In that case, it would seem that the answer is cardio first is better.

But other studies have shown the opposite: Performing cardio first can use up the fuel you”;ll need for strength training so you won”;t get the same benefits. Doing weight training first can also mean you burn more fat while doing cardio, since weight training can use up the carbohydrates in your body in advance of your aerobic work.

So the real answer is: It depends on your goals, and more importantly, your preferences. If you find you prefer cardio work first and it”;s the only way you have enough energy to also do your strength work–;stick with that. If when you do strength traninig first, you feel like you have more zip to finish your aerobic session, do that. If all things are equal and weight loss is your goal, do your strength work first.

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Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com

Hike Your Way to Weight Loss: 10 Reasons to Go for a Hike Today

Hike Your Way to Weight Loss: 10 Reasons to Go for a Hike Today

Walking is one of the easiest ways to achieve your 30 minutes of daily activity. Hiking might as well be called “;next level”; walking–;it”;s more enjoyable, more engaging and a bit more challenging (but still not too hard). That”;s probably why hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities, with more than 47 million Americans reporting that they hiked at least once in 2018, says Statista.com. If you haven’t added hiking to your weight loss exercise routine, we”;re here to tell you why you should start today.

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Get outside and take a hike! Here are 10 reasons to start hiking today:
1. Hiking is easy.

easy workout

You don”;t need to learn special skills, be super fit or have any prior experience. Hiking is simply walking on an outdoor trail. Even the challenges, such as going up and down hills or navigating uneven terrain, are manageable for beginners. If you can walk, you can most likely hike.

2. It burns more calories than walking.

burn calories

At a brisk walking pace of 17 minutes per mile, a 155-pound person burns about 149 calories in 30 minutes, says Harvard Health Publishing. Add a few hills on a hike and the calories burned jumps to 223 calories in 30 minutes–;that”;s about 50 percent more calories burned in the same amount of time.

3. It lifts your mood.

hiking

According to Stanford News, walking in natural areas rather than in man-made environments reduces “activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression.” The 2015 study was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Other research has found that spending time in nature may help to reduce stress, says Harvard Health Publishing.

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4. Hiking strengthens your heart.

stress

Stress is said to be contributor to heart disease and hypertension (high blood pressure), so reducing stress might also lower your risk of suffering from these cardiac conditions, says Harvard Health Publishing. Hiking also gives your heart–;a powerful muscle–;a steady workout, helping it to grow strong and pump more efficiently even when you”;re at rest. “Like brisk walking, hiking is a good way to improve your cardiovascular fitness, particularly if your route includes some hills, which will force your heart to work harder,” explains Harvard Health Publishing.

5. Hiking flattens your belly.

flat belly

Going up and down inclines and traversing uneven terrain engages your core muscles–;the big muscles between your rib cage and knees, says Harvard Health Publishing. These include your abdominals, glutes (backside) and thighs. Hiking helps strengthen and tone those muscles as you shed excess pounds, so you become visibly leaner and firmer. Don’t forget to bring some flat belly snacks along on your hike! Check out these four easy ideas. >

6. It improves your balance.

hiking

Our sense of balance is essential to many everyday activities, such as climbing stairs, getting in and out of the shower or reaching up to high shelves. According to Time Magazine, the uneven terrain experienced while hiking can help to build up muscles that you don’t normally use. “Pumping up those oft-neglected muscles may improve your balance and stability, which helps protect you from falls,” they explain. For most people, the sense of balance deteriorates with age. Hiking keeps it working effectively.

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7. It expands your mind.

hiking

Most of us spend our time looking at lit screens and the same views day in and day out. When we get out in nature, we get better at focusing our attention, solving problems and developing creative ideas, according to the scientific journal, PLoS One. So, get outside, take a hike and get inspired!

8. Hiking is inexpensive.

easy workout

Unlike nearly every other fitness activity, hiking costs you almost nothing. All you need is a sturdy pair of shoes with a good tread. Yes, you can buy hiking shoes that will make your hikes easier and more comfortable. However, feel free to start out wearing ordinary sneakers before committing to purchasing footwear designed for this purpose.

9. Hiking happens anywhere.

hiking

Every state in the U.S. has national parks, historic trails and protected wilderness areas that you can visit. The National Park Service website allows you to search by state to find those closest to you. Many state and county parks also feature marked trails with signs that tell you how long and how challenging the trails are. With a little observation and investigation, you can often find unofficial trails to hike and undeveloped areas around your home. (Just be sure you”;re not trespassing on private property.) For more trail ideas, check out the American Trails Website.

10. Hiking is for everyone.

hiking

Wherever you are on your weight loss journey, you can enjoy the pleasures of hiking. You don”;t need to train, set goals or measure results. You can just take a walk in nature and feel good while you”;re doing it and for hours after you”;re back.

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New to hiking? Check out these four helpful tips for beginners:
1. Start slow.

hiking

For your first few hikes, choose routes that are shorter than you would normally walk–;hiking is more challenging than walking and you don”;t want to overdo it and find yourself sore or too exhausted when you are finished.

2. Bring water.

drink water

This will ensure you don”;t dehydrate along the way. Adequate water helps you stay alert and energized and keeps your metabolism working. Looking for the perfect water bottle to take on your hiking adventures? Click here for our water bottle shopping tips! >

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3. Go with a buddy.

hiking

Almost everything is more fun when you do it together. Hiking with a partner also ensures that in the unlikely event something goes wrong–;whether you get lost or twist an ankle–;help is right by your side. If you do choose to go on your own for a little solitude, be sure to tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.

4. Keep your eyes and ears open.

hiking

We”;re accustomed to listening to our inner dialogues all day long. Take time while you”;re hiking to tune in to the sights and sounds around you. There are so many delights in nature, from birds chirping and flowers blooming to the rustle of tree leaves in a gentle breeze. Focusing on them can chase away your everyday cares and worries for a little while and make your life feel a little bit better, no matter what else is happening in the world.

Looking for a healthy meal delivery service to pair with your fitness routine? Learn more about Nutrisystem! >

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The post Hike Your Way to Weight Loss: 10 Reasons to Go for a Hike Today appeared first on The Leaf.

Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com