Nutrition news you can use

Even if you’ll never choose looking smoking hot as your motivational focal point for getting fit and healthy, odds are you still have no wish to look older than your actual age…right?

Well, results of a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine this week found that four common bad health habits (smoking, drinking too much, physical inactivity and poor diet) when combined can age you by 12 years.

The study tracked 5,000 British adults for 20 years, and those with all four bad health habits seemed 12 years older than same-age counterparts in the “healthiest” group (the unhealthy folks also had a higher risk of death, naturally).

This is just the latest in a string of studies I’ve read pointing to what I now call the Big Four Bad Health Habits as the culprits in pretty much every widespread disease plaguing the U.S. and other western nations. So don’t smoke, eat nutritious food, get regular exercise, and drink moderately (if you drink at all). Those are your marching orders, so hop to it!

Ahem.

In other news, scientists at the University of Kentucky and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that when you’re trying to lose weight, the type of motivation you have and how well you monitor your progress could mean the difference between success and failure.

Researchers looked at two types of motivation. Autonomous motivation is driven by personal reasons (self-motivation). Controlled motivation is based on guilt or pressure from others. The study participants who were most successful at weight loss were self-motivated and kept a journal of what they ate and how much they exercised.

(Yes! Hello! Thank you! What have I been saying?)

Success also hinged on whether participants could keep their motivation going past the tricky 4- to 8-week mark, when weight loss often slows. The researchers suggested that if motivation starts to fall, boosting it with “initiatives” can be helpful. Carrots, anyone?