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Freaky Fitness Facts

Freaky Fitness Facts
Buy food with cash instead of credit
and you'll make healthier choices.

Just because it's odd, doesn't mean it won't work. Here are a few of the stranger pieces of advice I've gotten over the years that actually do what they're supposed to.

Wear a mouth guard to lift more weight. There are lots of little things you can do to stimulate your workouts and push past plateaus. One of the simpler ideas came out of a study done at the Marquette University Department of Physical Therapy in Wisconsin. Researchers found that subjects who clenched their jaws on a mouth guard demonstrated a 2.9 - 32.3% greater performance.

According to William Ebben, Ph.D., "It's a concept called 'concurrent activation potentiation': When your brain signals your jaw to clench, it may also cause a little more activation of the other muscles." So when you want to push yourself a little harder, or you're going for a personal best, get a mouth guard and bite down. Researchers used the very inexpensive Cramer dental vinyl mouth guard in their study.

Switch from credit cards to cash and you'll buy less junk food. When you walk into a casino to gamble, they trade your cash for brightly colored chips. They do that because the casino knows you won't think too much about throwing some chips on a table and risking it all. But if you had a $100 bill in your hand, you might think twice before betting because that money could be used to buy necessities like food, clothing or gas.

In a study published by the Journal of Consumer Research in 2010, investigators found similar behavior when 1,000 people paid for food with a credit or debit card instead of cash. Companies selling unhealthy foods use emotional imagery when marketing their products. Shoppers buy the products impulsively, even though they consider them, "unhealthy and experience regret after the purchase."

When you pay with a credit card, just like chips at a casino, you don't experience the immediate pain of wasting money on a purchase you'll later regret. Switch to cash and three things happen. First, you'll generally spend the same amount of money on healthy foods. Second, you're more likely to scrutinize the prices of what you're buying and save money. Third, you buy 70% less of the junk food you'll later regret.

Sign up for a healthy tips newsletter. Dutch researchers split people into three groups that all got a six-month "lifestyle intervention." The first group had behavior counseling by phone, the second by email and the third were a control group that received usual care.

After two years the email group lost 4.6 pounds more weight than the usual care group. Getting the updates helped keep weight loss goals and ideas active in the minds of the email group. If you'd like to get free daily health and fitness tips, you can get them by searching for WeBeFit on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr.

Say what you're going to do and lessen the damage. If you're up late and have a junk food craving, state your intentions out loud. Stand up and say, "I'm not hungry, but I'm going to eat a serving of potato chips because I want to."

By saying what you're going to do out loud you become more aware of what you're eating and why. Occasionally eating foods you crave can help you avoid binges. Narrating an indulgence can make the difference between a small bump on your diet path or a junk food relapse.

Drink 16 ounces of water (about two cups) before every meal to lose more weight. In a 2010 report released by Virginia Tech, they found that over three months, water drinkers lost an average of 15.5 pounds compared with a loss of 11 pounds for the control group.

After a year the water drinkers lost even more weight for a year-end total of 17 pounds weight loss. Meanwhile, the non-water drinkers gained weight and ended the year with an average of only 9 pounds weight loss.

But there's a catch. It didn't work for people who were under the age of 35. It takes longer for the stomach of an older person to empty, so researchers think the water made them feel fuller and less hungry. In younger people, the water leaves the stomach much quicker and may not provide the same feeling of fullness.

Start using these tips today to help you achieve your weight and fitness goals.

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.