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Strange Stuff That Works

Strange Stuff That Works

Over the years I've collected lots of little tips that help me eat less, get more out of a workout and exit the gym faster. They're a bit unusual, but I keep using them because they work.

When you get up, reduce your risk of heart attack by 50%. After I found out that people who ate chocolate were half as likely to die of cardiovascular disease as the non-chocolate eaters, I decided to add some to my diet every morning. Eating a fat-filled chocolate bar wasn't going to cut it, so I decided to add a heaping teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder to my coffee. (Cocoa is the ingredient that provides the benefit.) Then I mix in a little Splenda or stevia sweetener. It's a heart-healthy and delicious way to start the day.

Click Here to learn more about the health benefits of chocolate.

In the gym, the simplest way to increase your bench press is to squeeze the bar hard, just before you lift it off the rack. That causes the trunk of your body to activate. With your core tightened up, you'll be more stable and able to lift more weight. Continue to squeeze the bar through the entire set for the best result.

After your workout, stop sweating by taking a shower. But don't turn the heat up, because it'll keep your skin warm and the sweat coming. Don't go the cold route either; your body will send warm blood to the skin and that'll keep you sweating too. Instead, take a mild or tepid shower to stop perspiration the quickest.

Use fruit to help you eat a smaller lunch. Start by peeling and slowly eating an orange, before you order something. It slows you down, the water in the fruit helps to hydrate you and you'll be less hungry. Then when you choose your food, you're less likely to order the 1,000 calorie gut buster because you're "starving."

To help you lose weight, set the table before you eat anything, including snacks. If you chow down on a bag of chips while standing over the sink or watching television, you're more likely to consider it an insignificant snack, instead of the 300-500 calorie meal it actually is. Put a realistic serving size on your plate and eat it with silverware. Then you'll realize it's real food and you're less likely to binge.

While you're at it, replace the dinner plates with something smaller. Ideally, they shouldn't be more than 9 inches across. Studies have found that when people eat off smaller plates, they fill them with less food yet still end the meal just as satisfied. I use small salad plates and I make it a rule that half of what goes on the plate should be vegetables.

When you finish a sensible meal, if you're still hungry, brush your teeth. It's a trick you can use to tell your brain that mealtime is over. Plus it helps prevent cavities, and who wants to eat when your breath is minty fresh?

For those times when cravings seem to be overwhelming, I pull out a chunk of fake fat. I hold it in my hands and decide if the food I want is really worth putting that fat in my body. Most of the time good sense wins and within a few minutes, the desire goes away.

At the end of the day, freshen up your shoes quickly. A shoe tree helps keep footwear in good shape, but a better idea is to use two rolled-up magazines. Put one inside each shoe when you take them off. As the magazines unroll they expand and stretch the shoe back into shape. As a bonus, the paper will absorb some of the moisture and smell. When the magazine gets old, recycle it and use a new one.

Hopefully, these tips will help you as much as they've helped me. Which one will you use first?

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Updated 2/5/2015