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With society’s standards of beauty paired with the national obesity epidemic, it’s no surprise that millions of Americans clock to fad diets and dietary supplements in order to achieve the “perfect figure.” Unfortunately, many individuals jump on the weight loss bandwagon and consume dietary supplements (for weight loss) and participate in vigorous exercise routines without the proper research. As it turns out, these supplements often do more harm than good, wreaking havoc on their bodies and leading to weight “regain” over the long term.

What people don’t realize is that these so called “quick” ways are entirely unsafe and very rarely lead to a healthy lifestyle. Truth be told, there is only one way to lose weight, and as redundant as it sounds, it’s through healthy eating and a daily exercise routine.

The Secret Is a Calorie Deficit

A calorie deficit is the only answer to weight loss. Without a calorie deficit, you cannot lose weight. So, what exactly is a calorie deficit? Well, it basically means that each day, you burn enough calories so that you have some “left over” at the end of the day (or week). This does not, however, mean that you must burn as many calories as you consume per day.

You see, every individual has a “Daily Energy Expenditure” which is the amount of calories they burn each day, based on age, gender, height, weight, and daily activity levels. For example, a 25-year-old male, 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, living a sedentary lifestyle might have a Daily Energy Expenditure of around 2800 calories. In other words, he burns 2800 calories per day, even though he is generally inactive. To lose weight, he would need to reduce his daily caloric intake either by diet, exercise, or both. To gain weight, he would need to increase his daily caloric intake.

It should be noted that when dieting, the more calories you burn, the more you’re allowed to eat. With that said, you should never have to starve to lose weight.

Cardio Exercise vs. Strength Training

Losing fat is dependent on cardio exercise, whereas gaining muscle mass is dependent on strength training.

However, you cannot target fat loss. You can, however, target muscle gain and definition.

In other words, jumping rope seven days a week may shed fat, but you cannot dictate where you will lose that fat. It may first shed in your face, then your arms, and so on. However, with strength training, you can target muscle gain. For example, doing push ups will strengthen the pectoral muscles and the muscles in the arms.

A woman trying to lose “baby weight” after giving birth might think that cardio exercise is all it takes to “snap back” to her previous body, but that is not true. Cardio will help to drop fat, but it will not increase muscle mass in the way that strength training does. So, while the woman would lose fat, her stomach may remain flabby. With strength training and cardio, however, she could increase muscle tone, while also reducing her body fat percentage.

Muscle vs. Fat

You may have heard the saying, “Muscle weighs more than fat.” This isn’t exactly true. You see, a pound of muscle is the same as a pound of fat. However, if you were to take a cup of fat and a cup of muscle, you would see that in that case, the cup of muscle WOULD weigh more, simply because of the density.

Getting the Nutrients Your Body Needs

It is very important to make sure that your body is getting the nutrients that it needs in order to function properly and keep up with your weight loss routine. For example, if you’re vigorously exercising, your caloric intake should be high enough to support the energy you’ll be using, but not so high that you are unable to reach a calorie deficit.

A balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean meats or other proteins such as nuts and seeds, and whole grains is ideal. Plenty of water is a must, with a reduction in your sugar intake. Foods laden with chemicals such as MSG and processed corn products should only be eaten in moderation, if at all. Eating as healthy and as clean as possible will help to lower your daily caloric intake while still having the sustenance you need to get through a day without excess hunger.

Excess hunger typically leads to overindulging. Some people flock to appetite suppressants as they find themselves wanting to indulge each and every day. Instead of attempting to suppress your appetite, consider eating foods that keep you full until your next meal, with healthy, filling snacks on hand to curb cravings. Studies show that people who completely cut out foods from their diet are more likely to feel negatively about weight loss. Those who reward themselves from time to time tend to be more successful.

Pay Attention to Cravings

Some people flock to appetite suppressants, to prevent overeating. However, paying attention to our cravings may actually help us take care of our bodies. Certain cravings may indicate vitamin/mineral deficiencies. For example, if you crave salty foods, you may need more sodium. Sugar cravings could indicate low blood sugar levels. Craving carrots may indicate a lack of Vitamin A.

Talk to your doctor if you’re worried about cravings.

Eating Disorders

Reducing your caloric intake to dangerously low levels can cause you to lose muscle mass, and may also cause other health problems related to malnutrition and vitamin/mineral deficiencies, including irritability, hairloss, immune system suppression, and more.

If you suspect that you may have an eating disorder, please talk to your physician.

Planning Meals

Planning meals is a great way to stick to your routine and curb cravings. If you eat out quite a bit, start preparing your meals in advance each week to avoid impulse eating. Large, fresh salads full of greens and fat free dressing make for filling, tasty meals. Add lean meat or nuts for protein, or even a boiled egg or two. Fruit smoothies made with fresh fruit, nonfat Greek yogurt, and reduced fat whipped topping make for a nice midday snack. A few dark chocolate squares allow you to indulge in your chocolate craving without going overboard. Remember, appetite suppressants are not needed to lose weight.

Being a society of consumers means that we’re often captivated by the claims made about specific products, or the words written on labels. However, the more you get to know your body, the more you will realize just how easy it is to take care of it. Losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle starts with paying attention to detail. Learn about what your body needs, what foods you can get it from, and how many calories you need to burn each day to maintain a healthy body.

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Geese: 10 Things to Know About Raising Them

Geese are an easy care, multi-purpose animal that can be a great addition to almost any homestead. In my experience, geese are even easier to care for than chickens because they’re very self-sufficient. Even better, they are usually good mommas and can often be trusted to raise up their own babies.

10 Key Things to Know About Geese

1. Geese Like to Graze

In some ways, geese are very different from chickens and ducks, and this is one of them. While your chickens and ducks will search for bugs and other high protein snacks when they forage, geese have digestive systems that are made to convert grass into eggs and meat. That means that your geese will need abundant access to fresh greens along with their standard poultry pellets. (Never give geese medicated poultry food; it’s dosed for chickens, and it can be toxic to other types of fowl.)

2. Geese are Tough

If you live in a climate with very cold winters, geese might just be the perfect type of poultry for you. They prefer to be outside, even on the coldest of days. It’s not at all unusual to see a flock of geese happily grooming themselves out in the snow, right in the middle of a blizzard. That means you don’t have to provide elaborate housing; just make sure they’re safe from predators and the can get out of the elements if they want to.

3. Geese are Great for Free Ranging

While ducks and chickens are nearly defenseless when they free range, geese can actually defend themselves against many predators very well. In fact, if you have a mixed poultry flock, your geese can do a pretty good job of keeping your chickens and ducks safer while they’re free ranging, too. Just remember to put them in a safe spot at night because they’re night vision is horrible, and they can’t fight off a predator if they can’t see it.

4. Geese are Ground Dwelling Birds

Geese don’t roost the way chickens do. Their large webbed feet are made for paddling in the water and walking across soggy, muddy ground; they are not meant for roosting on a perch. Be sure they’re enclosure has plenty of clean floor space. The won’t use raised nesting boxes either; they’ll need large nesting boxes on the floor.

5. Geese Love Water

Geese are at their happiest when they have access to water. A plastic kid’s swimming pool will do the trick, there’s no need to provide an actual pond. They’ll splash and bath in it very happily all summer long. During the colder months, you’ll need to provide a small water source that’s just deep enough for them to submerge their heads and change it often to prevent it from freezing up on them. Don’t provide a water source that’s big enough for them to bathe in during freezing temperatures, though. They should be kept as dry as possible during the coldest months because their wet breasts and feet might actually freeze to the snow and ice. Trust me, chipping a goose out of the ice in the middle of a snowstorm is not a good time for you or the goose.

6. Goose Eggs Won’t Hatch Without Moisture

Chickens are land birds, and their nests should be kept completely dry during the incubation process. Goose eggs, on the other hand, need moisture to hatch. The momma goose will leave the nest for a short time and bath in order to get her feathers wet so that their eggs will have the necessary moisture they need during incubation. If you want to hatch goose eggs in an incubator, be sure to do some research first to familiarize yourself with the proper procedures.

7. Goose Eggs Don’t Cook Up the Same as Chicken Eggs

Since goose eggs have all that extra moisture, they will cook up a little bit different than chicken eggs. The first thing you’ll notice is that their yolks are much richer and bigger. The whites are quite a bit runnier, too. I’ve found the yolks to be fantastic for making custards, but the whites are terrible for making meringue because they don’t whip up correctly.

8. Goose Meat Does Not Taste Like Chicken

Many people assume that goose meat will taste like chicken or turkey, but that’s not the case at all. Their meat is actually more reminiscent of beef. If your homestead is quite small, raising geese for meat can give you some much-needed variety in your production without the need to raise a beef cow. In fact, even you don’t plan to raise geese for meat, sometimes ganders can be aggressive, and no matter what you do, their attacking behavior can’t be stopped. If you must harvest an aggressive gander, you’ll be in for a special treat.

9. Geese Usually Aren’t Aggressive

Geese have been given a bad rap for being aggressive, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Just like any other animal, it usually comes down to the way they’re handled. Geese that have been handled a lot and raised by hand are often more like cuddly lap dogs than they are farm animals. Our geese used to come running when we got home. They would even circle around our ankles and nuzzle us, just like kitty cats.

10. Geese are a Bit Like Guard Dogs

Be aware though, they probably won’t be nearly as welcoming to strangers. Even a flock of friendly geese will probably have to be locked up when company calls. Steps will have to be taken to protect your mailman and UPS guy, too. They’ll think of you, your family, and the other animals on your farms as part of their flock, but strangers, not so much. In fact, they can be used in much the same way as guard dogs because they will fiercely defend their territory against all intruders.

Geese would be a perfect easy-care addition to many homesteads. With their ability to lay delicious eggs, mow the grass, and provide fantastic meat for the freezer, they might be just the multipurpose animal you’re looking for.

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