11 Benefits of Doing Lunges Regularly

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woman doing a lunge

Lunges are a popular strength training exercise among people wanting to strengthen, sculpt, and tone their bodies, while also improving overall fitness and enhancing athletic performance.

This resistance exercise is popular for its ability to strengthen your back, hips, and legs, while improving mobility and stability. Lunges are ideal for those wishing to get stronger and for current athletes, including runners and cyclists.

Continue reading to take a look at the benefits of lunges along with what muscles they target and a few variation options.

Benefits of performing lunges

1. Weight loss

Lunges work the large muscle groups in your lower body, which builds leans muscle and reduces body fat. This can increase your resting metabolism, which allows you to burn more calories and trim excess weight.

If you’re looking to lose weight, push yourself to your outer limits by including lunges in a high-intensity circuit training routine using heavy weights.

2. Balance and stability

Lunges are a lower body unilateral exercise since you work on each side of your body independently. The single-leg movements activate your stabilizing muscles to develop balance, coordination, and stability.

Working one leg at a time causes your body to be less stable, which forces your spine and core to work harder to stay balanced.

3. Alignment and symmetry

Lunges are better than bilateral exercises for rehabilitation since they can correct imbalances and misalignments in your body to make it more symmetrical.

If you have one side that’s less strong or flexible, spend a bit of extra time working on this side so you don’t overcompensate or overuse the dominant side.

4. Stand taller

Lunges strengthen your back and core muscles without putting too much stress or strain on your spine. A strong, stable core reduces your chance of injury and improves your posture, making common movements easier.

Benefits by type of lunge

5. Stationary lunges

Stationary lunges target your glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. You’ll put most of your weight on your front leg and use your back leg to balance, stabilize, and support your entire body.

You’ll want to get the form down since stationary lunges are the foundation for all the lunge variations.

6. Side lunges

Lateral lunges develop balance, stability, and strength. They work your inner and outer thighs and may even help to reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Side lunges train your body to move side to side, which is a nice change from your body’s normal forward or twisting movements. Plus, side lunges target your quadriceps, hips, and legs at a slightly different angle, thus working them a little differently.

Pay attention to the outsides of your legs and work on activating these muscles as you do these lunges.

7. Walking lunges

To do walking lunges, you’ll need balance and coordination. The walking variation targets your core, hips, and glutes, and improves overall stability. They also increase your range of motion and help to improve your functional everyday movements.

To make walking lunges more difficult, add weights or a torso twist.

8. Reverse lunges

Reverse lunges activate your core, glutes, and hamstrings. They put less stress on your joints and give you a bit more stability in your front leg. This is ideal for people who have knee concerns, difficulty balancing, or less hip mobility.

Reverse lunges allow you to be more balanced as you move backward, changing up the direction from most of your movements and training your muscles to work differently.

9. Twist lunges

You can add a twist to stationary, walking, or reverse lunges to activate your core and glutes more deeply. Twisting lunges also require balance and stability as you twist your torso away from your lower body while maintaining the alignment of your knees.

You’ll also activate the muscles in your ankles and feet.

10. Curtsy lunge

Curtsy lunges are great for strengthening and toning your derrière, which is excellent for your posture. Strong glutes also prevent and relieve back and knee pain, all of which help to improve your athletic performance and lower your risk of injury.

Curtsy lunges also sculpt and strengthen your hip adductors, quadriceps, and hamstrings as well as improve hip stabilization. Use a kettlebell or dumbbell to up the intensity of this variation.

11. Lunges and squats

Lunges and squats both work your lower body and are a valuable addition to your fitness regime. You may favor lunges if you have low back pain since they’re less likely to strain your back. Consider focusing on squats if you feel more stable in this position.

Since this pair of exercises will work your body in similar ways, it’s a matter of personal preference to see if either exercise feels better for your body or brings you the best results. Of course, adding both lunges and squats to your routine is beneficial.

Muscles worked 

Lunges increase muscle mass to build up strength and tone your body, especially your core, butt, and legs. Improving your appearance isn’t the main benefit of shaping up your body, as you’ll also improve your posture and range of motion.

Lunges target the following muscles:

  • abdominals
  • back muscles
  • gluteal muscles
  • quadriceps
  • hamstrings
  • calves

How to get results 

Lunges are simple, making them accessible to people who want to add them to part of a longer routine or do them for a few minutes at a time throughout the day. You must stay on track and be consistent to maintain your results over time.

If you do lunges regularly as part of a larger fitness routine, you’ll notice results in terms of building muscle mass and shaping up your body. You’ll likely feel the results before they are visible.

You may develop tight, toned, and stronger muscles and start to lower your body fat percentage within a few weeks. More noticeable results may take a few months to develop.

For each lunge variation, do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions. If you feel yourself starting to plateau, up the intensity by doing more difficult variations, adding weights, or increasing the amount you do.

Source: https://www.healthline.com/

5 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Workouts

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Few things are more frustrating than seeing little progress after starting a workout routine—and sticking to it—no matter how many gym sessions you log or sweaty laundry loads you do. It’s so frustrating, in fact, that it might even tempt you to quit.

But before you start slacking, know the simple mistakes that could be sabotaging your results—and that you can fix them!

Below are six of the most common workout mistakes people make—and the expert advice you need to get your motivation and progress back on track.

1. Your Goals Are Unrealistic

Set the bar too high and you’re sure to fail. Whether it’s scoring a six-pack in a month or vowing to hit the gym every single day of the week, setting unrealistic goals is probably the number-one way people sabotage themselves, says trainer, yoga teacher, and nutrition coach Kendra Coppey Fitzgerald, C.P.T. When you can’t achieve these unrealistic goals, you’re bound to feel discouraged, which might lead you to give up on your exercise routine altogether.

The Fix: Check in with yourself to make sure your goals are realistic, and adjust if and as needed. Choose a goal you think you can accomplish and then commit to reaching it. So while scoring a six-pack in a month may not be feasible, goals like sticking to a regular workout routine or losing half a pound or so per week are attainable, says trainer and author Jeremy Scott, C.P.T., C.N.S.

Step one is creating a workout schedule that fits your lifestyle. You’re more likely to stay motivated when you have a schedule in place you can really commit to—even if that means squeezing in a quick 15-minute HIIT workout instead of spending an hour at the gym some days.

Then, adding mini fitness goals to your daily routine— such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work—can be really motivating, says Fitzgerald. This way, you’ll be more active—and feel more accomplished—every single day.

2. Your Pre-Workout Snack Game Is Off

What you eat (or don’t eat) before you get your sweat on can make the difference between having a killer workout and feeling like a sloth. Most people make one of two opposite mistakes: either eating too much too close to a workout or not eating enough.

Eat too much and your body doesn’t have time to digest and absorb the nutrients in your food, and you might feel sick to your stomach during your workout, says Fitzgerald. If you don’t eat enough, though, you could feel lightheaded and tired, and be more prone to muscle cramps, adds McCall. Your body relies heavily on glycogen (carbs stored in your muscles) during harder workouts, so if you don’t have enough available your body will turn to other less-ideal energy sources—like protein—and your performance will take a hit.

Another overlooked fuel issue: Not drinking enough water in the hours before a workout. Water comprises the majority of our muscle tissue, so you want to be well-hydrated before you exercise, says Pete McCall, M.S., C.S.C.S., C.P.T., master trainer for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Dehydration can make your body temperature and heart rate rise, which both put extra stress on your body during exercise—so much so that poor pre-workout hydration can actually cut your ability to do high intensity exercise almost in half, according to Sport Nutrition, Second Addition.

The Fix: If you work out first thing in the morning, don’t worry about eating much (if anything) beforehand, since your body still has fuel stashed away from your food you ate the night before, says Fitzgerald. If you’re saving your gym session for later in the day, though, and haven’t had a meal in a few hours, eat something that contains some protein and carbs about an hour beforehand, so you have time to digest. Some of our favorites are toast or a banana with nut butter, a serving of edamame, or Greek yogurt with berries. The carbs will cover your energy needs while the protein will keep your body stocked on the amino acids it needs to support your muscles, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

As for hydration, McCall recommends drinking 16 ounces of water an hour before working out.

And don’t forget to refuel after you work out, too! Nosh on something high in protein and carbs within an hour after you exercise, Fitzgerald recommends. The carbs will restock those energy stores while the protein will help your muscles repair and grow stronger. Fitzgerald’s go-to post-workout snack? Chocolate milk—because it provides protein, carbs and fats.

3. Your Workouts Are Too Repetitive

Yep, there is a such thing as too much routine. Mindlessly run through the same workouts day after day—whether it’s a spin class, weight-lifting session, or any old cardio—and your body will adapt and, eventually, you’ll stop seeing results, according to Fitzgerald. “If your body isn’t being stressed enough, or you’re not putting enough intensity into a workout, your body gets used to it,” Fitzgerald says.

Think of it this way: If a runner jogs at the same pace all the time, they’re not going to get any faster, she says. Bottom line: No matter how much you love a particular workout, it can’t be the only thing you do. And you definitely shouldn’t do it at the same speed or intensity every time.

Plus, doing only cardio—or only strength training—prevents you from developing well-rounded fitness. Cardio helps your heart pump blood (and oxygen and nutrients) throughout your body more efficiently, and helps you ward off cardiovascular issues and chronic conditions like diabetes, according to The Mayo ClinicStrength training, on the other hand, helps your muscle fibers work more efficiently and grow, boosts your metabolism, supports strong bones, and improves your balance.

Women especially may get stuck in a rut of repetitive cardio-only workouts and miss out on the benefits of strength training because they’re afraid of bulking up, says Scott. But without a balance of cardio and strength training, you’ll likely sabotage your metabolism and even gain fat.

The Fix: Switch up your routine throughout the week to include a balance of cardio, strength training, and stretching (such as yoga), so that you challenge your body in multiple ways, says Fitzgerald.

To keep your cardio and resistance training effective, try alternating between high and low-intensity workouts. This will stimulate your muscles in different ways and give your body time to recover between tough workouts, says McCall. Think track or treadmill sprints versus a nice steady jog, or lifting heavy for just a few reps versus lifting moderate weight for a dozen reps.

From there, switch up the tempo, intensity, or order of your strength-training exercises to keep your workouts challenging, adds Fitzgerald. For example, if you usually do squats before lunges, try swapping them, adding more weight to your squats, or turning bodyweight squats into jump squats. You can also mix up your cardio workouts by cross-training and swapping a run for a spin class or a swim. This will help keep your muscles from plateauing and prevent overuse injuries from doing the same repetitive movements all the time, Fitzgerald says.

4. You Skimp On Warmups And Cooldowns

Your workouts are key to making continuous fitness gains—but what you do before and after them matters, too. Let’s start with warming up: If you jump right into a high-intensity workout without prepping your body, you put yourself at greater risk for injuries like pulled and strained muscles, according to Scott. And the same goes if you run out of the gym before properly cooling down, says McCall. During a hard workout, your muscles produce waste your body needs to clear out of its system—and your cooldown and post-workout stretch give it the opportunity to do so, he says. Skimping on that cooldown can delay your recovery process and leave you sore.

The Fix: Spend at least 10 minutes warming up before a workout, Scott recommends. Perform simple moves like lunges, arm circles, toe touches, and hip swings, which get your whole body moving and start to boost your heartrate.

Then, spend about 10 minutes stretching and foam rolling after nailing your sweat session. Stretch all of your major muscle groups for 30 seconds each, and pay special attention to your hip flexors, calves, and hamstrings, McCall recommends. Using a foam roller to massage out your muscles can also help relieve tension and boost recovery, says Fitzgerald. In fact, a review published in Current Sports Medicine Reports found that foam rolling after strength training decreased participants’ soreness later on.

5. You Don’t Take Rest Days

This one might come as a bit of a surprise, but to see results from your workouts you have to rest. Remember that glycogen we talked about earlier? Your body needs time to replenish the stores it used up during your workout, says McCall. If you continue to push yourself on an empty tank, you’ll just feel fatigued and under-perform.

Without solid glycogen stores, your body may turn to protein for fuel—and that’s the opposite of what you want! Your body needs protein to repair damaged muscle tissue and help your muscles continue to grow, so running off protein leaves you more prone to soreness and injury, he says. If necessary, your body will even pull that protein from your muscle tissue and your workouts can actually break down some muscle instead of build it up. And because muscle supports your strength and burns a lot of calories, this is bad news for your overall fitness and your metabolism.

The Fix: Fitzgerald suggests taking a rest day after two or three workout days—especially if any of those workouts were high-intensity (which puts extra stress on your body). Make the most of rest days by foam rolling and stretching to help sore muscles recover, she says.

It’s normal for soreness from a workout to last a day or so, but if you’re still feeling it after a few days, consider it a sign that you’re overdoing it on exercise and putting yourself at risk for injury, McCall says.

Source: by Kate Magill

Better Body By Bk On the Job Workout Tip:

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Still standing!


Sure, standing around isn’t exactly traditional exercise, but research shows it’s got more than a leg up on sitting. After all, long periods of sitting are linked to increased risk for diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, whereas standing significantly increases your daily caloric expenditure Stand whenever you can, and consider roping in other coworkers to have standing meetings too! Small changes goes along way!

How to get your babe to workout

Dating & Relationships, Fat & Figuring It Out Podcast, fitness, Uncategorized

If your goal is to get your honey to lay off the “honey” and hit the gym, the worst approach you can take is a blunt one. No one wants to be told they need to work out, especially if they’ve put on a few “love” pounds over the years. However, you can motivate your significant other to get more fit without hurting his/her feelings or damaging your relationship.

Steps

  1. Take the “let’s get healthy” approach. You want your sweetheart around for the long haul and being out of shape is not only a little unattractive, it can be working against the aging process. Those who infuse cardio and exercise into their lives can help slow down the aging process and prevent chronic and possibly deadly diseases.
    • Let his/her doctor take the blame. Your significant other’s doctor told him/her some tests were a little off–the cholesterol or sugars were too high, for example. Tell your sweetheart you love him/her and that you want to lower the numbers together in the gym.
    • He/she is feeling a bit sluggish and tired lately–exercise can help. Rev the engines and increase energy levels by being more physically active. If he/she complains that he/she is exhausted all the time, consider adding a quick walk or run at night. Once your significant other sees the increase in energy he/she may want to hit the gym to achieve that level of pep.
    • Focus completely on health and not weight. Especially if you are heading into or are already in middle age or beyond, exercise is no longer just to look hot. It keeps the organs healthy and may help your honey avoid the same medications his/her friends have started (i.e. blood pressure pills etc.).

2. Compliment his/her toned physique after one workout. The best way to keep the motivation train running is to start gushing a few days following that initial workout. He/she will love the strokes, which may have him/her continuing with the workouts.

Be sincere and not fake. Don’t tell him/her that after that first workout he/she has certainly lost 20 pounds. However, a compliment like, “Hey, your biceps look firmer or your butt looks pretty good” will take you pretty far.

Don’t deliver a compliment while looking for one in return. Don’t be flexing in the mirror, glance over and then say, “Hey baby, you look hot, what do you think about these guns?” He/she will know it’s a backhanded compliment and see through your ruse.

3. Choose a fitness routine that may not seem like exercise. For example, suggest taking a doubles tennis class together or ballroom dancing. He/she may think it’s a fun way to bond, when in reality you’ll know that you are raising his/her heart rate.

Find something that will interest your mate. Maybe a game of touch football sounds like heaven on earth to you, but to him/her it’s a snooze fest. Consider what he/she would enjoy before you start making plans.

Get friends in on your game. If your friend wants to get his/her spouse or partner to workout too, make it a foursome for added fun (make sure that the spouses are friends before you commit).

Select something he/she can do. Don’t go hard core if your sweetie hasn’t been working out lately or hasn’t worked out at all. Find something you know he/she will find success and enjoy.

Get competitive. Some people are motivated by friendly competition. Consider rolling out a “challenge” where you will see who can be a better golfer, runner etc.

4. Talk about your successful results–without being annoying. Nothing motivates some people more than seeing their partner getting hot and toned while they are still sluggish and doughy (although be careful with this notion as some people may retreat into sloth even more).

Pull out old clothes that you’d been saving for a “skinny day.” He/she may be green with envy if you can fit back into your old size or better yet—the smallest size ever.

Purchase new clothing that accentuates your new figure. Shopping can be fun when you are able to wear outfits you couldn’t fit into before. He/she may see that and want the same for him or herself.

5. Ask him/her to motivate you to work out. Another way to entice your mate to exercise is to act as though (or maybe it’s true) you can’t get motivated to work out unless you have a partner–your significant other.

Ask him/her to help you devise a fitness plan. This is a sneaky way of getting him/her to perhaps look at a fitness plan for him or herself. Use online apps or fitness websites to help you configure a program that will fit both of your needs.

Tell him/her you can’t get motivated unless he/she joins you. Avoid whining when asking him/her to continue to stick to the program. Be direct but explain that your continued dedication is dependent upon his/her participation.

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Workout Wednesday: 10 WAYS TO MAKE FITNESS AND NUTRITION A PRIORITY

fitness, Food & Nutrition, Workout Wednesday

10 Ways to Make Fitness and Nutrition a Priority

10 Ways to Make Fitness and Nutrition a Priority

If you feel stuck in a rut and have no idea how to get back on track with your fitness and nutrition goals, you’re not alone. I totally get you, and I know it’s a hard spot to be in when you desperately want change. Rationally, you know you need to get back on track, but it feels too overwhelming or that “everything else” is getting in the way of you feeling good again.

Shifting your mindset when you are feeling unmotivated and in a fitness or weight loss plateau is tough, and it may just take some soul searching mixed with a little strategery to get you back on track. Here are our best tips for getting unstuck and making fitness and nutrition a priority, again.

1
LOSE THE JUDGMENT

Saying “I am” is a powerful phrase and can be used for good or bad. This is because “I am” is linked to your identity. It’s important first and foremost to separate any negative unhealthy behaviors from “I am” statements that define you. No, you are not lazy, unmotivated, stuck or a slacker. Maybe your actions are resulting in you feeling these things, but making that mindset shift to separate actions from identity can be a powerful tool. You feel stuck, you feel lazy, you feel unmotivated, you feel like a slacker. You absolutely have the power to change those feelings — and they do not define you.

2
CREATE SPACE

We’re talking about giving yourself space for soul searching. Maybe that’s going on a walk or sitting outside or at a coffee shop to clear your head enough to ask yourself questions about where you are on your health journey. Maybe start with “I feel unmotivated or stuck (or fill in the blank) because … “ and see what comes up for you.

Take this a step further and journal it on paper. Allow yourself to write freely without judgment or overthinking. Free writing doesn’t even have to make sense, but truly the answers to whatever problem you are facing with your motivation are within you. You just need to create enough space to ask the right questions. What would it look like to make your change? What would happen if you didn’t do it? Does it provide a breath of fresh air, create clarity or make you more inspired?

3
DEFINE YOUR WHY

Do you have kids or grandkids? Setting a healthy example is a big priority for many parents as well as living a long and healthy life to enjoy your little ones and their little ones. Handed a few bad genes? Many people eat well and exercise regularly because they want to reverse or prevent diseases that could be influenced by lifestyle factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, depression and the list goes on.

Know the reason why you want to make a change (and write it down, save it to your phone’s lock screen or tape it to your mirror or fridge) to keep you centered and channel those positive vibes and motivation.

4
BLOCK TIME

This is a great strategy for those who need routine and thrive on daily schedules. Plan your week on a Sunday to determine when, where and how you can get movement in, or make a list of simple dinner ideas for the week. Go ahead and pre-book your workouts if you have to check in at a studio or group fitness class. To create that routine and build momentum, you may find it’s easier to stick to if you set time aside every day for your health, by either committing to the routine of “sweating daily” in any form or by carving out time, at the same time, every day. Maybe you set aside two hours on a Sunday to grocery shop or meal prep. Developing a pattern builds a healthy momentum and flow to help your habits stick.

5
NAME YOUR TOP 3

In the morning, or even better the night before, look at your “to do’s” for the next day and pull out your top 3, making 1–2 of them personal dos that accomplish your health priorities. Ask yourself, if nothing else gets done today/tomorrow, what would make me feel proud of myself? Put at least one of those responses in your top 3 list and at the end of the day when you’ve checked it off, your confidence will get a nice boost.

6
TAKE A SANITY BREAK

We all need sanity breaks in our day, so take time to sit outside to eat your lunch or go to that barre class during your lunch break. Maybe you’re a morning person and working out first thing and refueling with a balanced breakfast sets the tone for your entire day. If nighttime is more your style (or fits your schedule better), get that workout in before you head home or prioritize it for after you tuck the kids into bed. Eating well and moving daily influences mental health — when we take care of our body we feel less anxious, more confident and better overall.

7
INVOLVE THE KIDS

Hey, maybe you feel stuck because you simply have no “me time.” If you are a stay at home or work from home parent, or work too many hours at the office and you find yourself choosing to workout or spend time with your kiddos, maybe you just need to involve the kids in your workout. If you have little ones, push them in the jogging stroller or go to a park and they can sit in the stroller while you do your weights workout, or use them as the weights while you do squats or push press. The whole family will benefit from involving the kids in your workout. Same goes for healthy eating, you may feel that it’s hard to eat well because the kids won’t eat the same healthy meal. Get them involved in the grocery shopping and meal prep because eventually (with practice and patience) they will catch on to your family’s new style of eating.

8
PUT MONEY ON THE LINE

Spa day, vacation, new outfit? Pick something that you’d like to work towards, and save 5, 10 or 20 dollars every time you do a workout. If you and your partner want to plan a little getaway, instead of booking it right way, create a challenge to work together by working out toward that vacation.

9
COMMIT TO THE FIRST STEP

Think about the first thing you have to do to achieve your health goal. With working out, commit to putting on your workout clothes, shoes and filling up your water bottle. Rarely do you do these things and then sit on the sofa. With healthy eating, commit to putting dinner in the crockpot in the morning, making smoothie bags or overnight oats for faster breakfasts, or going to the grocery store to have healthy ingredients on hand to eat well all week long.

10
FIND YOUR TRIBE

From social media challenges and healthy living groups, health challenge groups in apps and group fitness classes, to following healthy living influencers on social — there are ways to stay motivated and inspired all around us.

Source: KRISTINA LARUE, RD, CSSD, LDN

Motivation Monday: 8 Common Side Effects of Weight Loss Nobody Talks About

Fat & Figuring It Out Podcast, Uncategorized

When we begin a weight-loss journey, we often have a vision of what our body and life will be like when we reach our goal weight. But the reality is typically different.

“Weight loss is something that, for people who need it, can make a huge positive impact in their lives, physically and psychologically. But weight is such a complicated and publicly visible matter that sometimes weight loss is a mixed blessing,” says Patrick O’Neil, PhD, director of the Medical University of South Carolina Health Weight Management Center.

Here is how to handle eight typical consequences of losing weight that nobody tells you about:

EXCESS SKIN

Dropping a lot of weight can lead to loose skin. “If you’re losing a significant amount of body fat, that body fat has been under your skin protruding and helping to keep the skin taut,” O’Neil explains. Depending on your genes, age and how much weight you lost, your skin will recover somewhat, he adds. Resistance training to build muscle can help some, so try that first. You may also choose to talk to a plastic surgeon about surgery to remove the skin.

LIVING IN YOUR OLD BODY

When you grow up being teased for being heavier, “you incorporate that as part of your self image,” says Sofia Rydin-Gray, PhD, behavioral health director at Duke Diet and Fitness Center. “When you lose weight, unless you develop a realistic image of yourself, you may continue to think of yourself as a bigger person.” Movement is a great way to help tune into your body, she adds. Or consider keeping one piece of larger clothing and putting it on to see how much bigger it is now. Looking at photos of you at your starting weight may also help you see the changes in your body.

COMMENTS FROM FRIENDS AND FAMILY

“Often weight plays more of a role in some relationships than we might appreciate at first,” O’Neil says. Your friends and family may not always be supportive of your weight loss. If someone questions why you’re no longer eating certain foods or always going to the gym, explain why losing weight is important to you. If a friend says you’re getting too skinny, say, “Thanks for your concern, but I’ve spoken to my doctor, and I’m at a healthy weight for me.”

ATTENTION FROM STRANGERS

Often when women lose weight, they find they get more attention from men. If this is discomforting, you feel vulnerable or you fear relationships and intimacy, speak to a therapist. “Clients sometimes say the fat has been a protection,” O’Neil says. “Oftentimes there are other issues bound up in that. In some cases, there may be a history of sexual abuse.” It’s important to work through those things with a professional.

REALIZING LIFE ISN’T THAT DIFFERENT

When researchers studied 1,979 overweight and obese adults over four years, they discovered weight loss was associated with a reduction in health risks but not with psychological benefits. “When you’re in the active weight-loss phase, it’s the honeymoon period where you are seeing results and gaining confidence,” Rydin-Gray explains. “When you are in maintenance, you’re not getting that regular feedback.” And you may not land that job or have your girlfriend propose like you thought you would. Think back to why you wanted to lose weight — what were your deeper motivations? It can help to explore what you feel is missing in your life and the barriers to achieving those things with a therapist.


WORRY THAT IT’S “NOT REAL”

When you have lost weight in the past and later regained it, you may think you “can’t” lose weight. If you think your current weight loss isn’t real, listen to your self-talk and come up with counterpoints, O’Neil suggests. Pretend the weight loss is real — how would you behave differently? Why not do that now? Remember, too, that you have tools and skills you have used to lose the weight. Keep using those and it will be real, Rydin-Gray adds.

MARRIAGE CONFLICT

Shedding pounds after the wedding can cause your partner to feel threatened and insecure, leading to tension in your marriage, according to a study in the journal Health Communication. Talk to your partner if you sense this may be happening. Ask what their concerns are and talk together about how to address those concerns. If you think it’s best, see a couple’s therapist together.

YOU STILL NEED TO WORK

“Losing weight is one challenge; keeping it off is a whole new challenge,” O’Neil says. By now many of the skills you adopted in order to lose weight are habits, so keep them up. And be prepared to face setbacks. Identify the most critical pieces of your weight-control program that you can do if your weight starts to trend upward.

Source:  BY BRITTANY RISHER

 

What to Drink When Water Isn’t Enough

Fitness on a Budget, Food & Nutrition, Uncategorized
drinking water

We all know hydration is key. Yet it seems like the whole country is on an H2O hiatus. After all, who needs regular old water from the tap when you can chug coconut water? Courtesy of the energy and sports drink retail market, which recently topped $25 billionthere are more hydration options than ever before.

It’s a big business that wants us to imagine big things (like a single drink might make us perform like a star athlete). Yet the truth is, if you’re averaging an hour at the gym a few times per week, eating healthy snacks and drinking water before and after your workouts provides adequate fuel and rehydration. According to a recent UC Berkeley study, most people who drink sports drinks at least once a day aren’t as physically active as they should be.

Instead of overdoing the designer drinks, think before you sip and make sure you’re not taking in more calories or sodium than you should.

COCONUT WATER

While this all-natural, refreshing drink is hyped as a super-hydrating powerhouse, the majority of studies don’t prove that it rehydrates the body much better than water. On the plus side, it contains less sugar than sports drinks and far less than juice. It’s also naturally rich in potassium, a key electrolyte that supports blood pressure and heart health, as well as bone and muscle strength. Yet one cup still packs 45 calories, which can add up quickly if you’re drinking it frequently. Bottom line: An occasional coconut water is fine, but don’t go overboard and read the label: Coconut water with added juice or extra flavorings can contain as much sugar as regular juice.

HYDRATION TABLETS

Portable tablets like those made by Nuun are designed to be dissolved in 16 ounces of water to provide key electrolytes like sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. There’s no hidden high-calorie pitfall: Every tab has one gram or less of sugar and around 12 calories. Not everyone can get on board with the fairly weak taste, which is similar to lightly flavored water. However, if you’re active outdoors especially in the sun, where excessive sweating makes electrolyte replacement important, the delivery system is awesome: the tabs come in cylindrical tubes that are lightweight, making them easy to stash in your backpack for any on-demand needs if temps soar during an afternoon bike ride or if that Sunday hike takes hours longer than expected.

SPORTS DRINKS

A simple, effective sports drink is one that refuels the body with some carbs (aka sugar) and electrolytes (aka sodium and potassium). The formula has launched a dizzying number of “performance” beverages, with some brands like Gatorade going so far as to promote distinct products for before, during and after exercise.

Yet these drinks contain tons of sugar, ranging from 35–52 grams per bottle. In truth, the idea that sports drinks are “good for you” entirely depends on whether your body needs them to recover from extra-challenging exercise. So: Was your last workout a grueling endeavor that lasted two hours or longer? A super sweaty run on an extra hot day? Congratulations, you earned a sports drink! If not, skip the unneeded sugar and drink water instead.


“FITNESS” WATER

Zero-calorie drinks in this category include Propel, water designed for “performance” with an electrolyte content similar to Gatorade (which owns the brand). Then there’s what some call “designer” waters, such as Smartwater from Coca-Cola or the the recently introduced Lifewtr from Pepsi. These contain very small amounts of electrolytes, mainly for flavor and are more similar to regular bottled water than sports drinks. Yet another entry here is VitaminWater Zero, lightly flavored zero-calorie version of regular VitaminWater. (The latter, although promoted as “healthy,” actually contains tons of sugar, and tends to have vitamins such as B and C, which are the ones most people get enough of already.) Not sure which one is best? Keep it simple and drink a glass of regular water — nature’s perfect hydration system.


Source: BY KATE CHYNOWETH

Workout Wednesday: You’ve Lost Weight, Now How Do You Keep It Off?

Motivation, Inspiration and Encouragement, Uncategorized, Workout Wednesday
You’ve Lost Weight, Now How Do You Keep It Off?

Losing weight is one thing, keeping the weight off is another. We’ve all heard about yo-yo dieting, know a friend who yo-yos and have probably bobbled ourselves. But it is possible to stay at your new, lower weight — and the more you’ve lost, the more likely you may be to maintain, according to a new study.

In this 2017 study, researchers split 177,000 adults into four categories: those who lost less than 5% of their BMI, those who lost 5–10%, those who lost 10–15% and those who lost more than 15% after six months. At the two-year follow-up, the people in the last group — the “high weight loss” group — were least likely to regain more than half of what they’d lost.

Here are four ways to help maintain your weight loss:

1. UNDERSTAND IT’S A LIFETIME COMMITMENT

“Weight loss isn’t an event, it’s a process,” says Sofia Rydin-Gray, PhD, a clinical psychologist and behavioral health director at Duke Diet and Fitness Center. “It’s not only about food and exercise — it’s about behaviors, emotions and our way of thinking. People who keep the weight off are able to stay focused and commit to prioritizing their health.”

This commitment may include staying active, watching fewer than 10 hours of TV a week, getting adequate sleep and eating breakfast, according to researchers with the National Weight Loss Registry.

2. PLAN REGULAR WEIGH-INS

“You have to continue the behaviors that helped you lose weight in the first place,” explains dietitian Georgie Fear, RD. “We look forward to being able to liberalize our diet and ease up on workouts after losing weight, but you can’t go overboard.” And that’s exactly why the changes you make while dieting need to be ones you can live with for life.

Another habit both the National Weight Loss Registry and experts recommend is continuing to weigh in on a regular basis. “I discourage daily weigh-ins because then you’re too focused on the scoreboard and not on the plays going on the court — what you’re choosing for lunch and dinner,” says Fear, who, along with Rydin-Gray, recommends getting on the scale once a week.

If you notice a significant gain, ask yourself why this happened — you likely know you were stressed, skipped your morning walks and turned to mint chocolate chip rather than calling your friend to talk it out. Then reflect on what helped you lose weight before. Refocus and recommit to those habits, and you’ll get back on track.

3. REMEMBER WHY YOU WANT TO BE HEALTHY

If it’s hard to return to healthier habits, take some time to recall your motivation for losing weight in the first place. “You can’t just be motivated by the scale,” Rydin-Gray says. “You really need to drill down and have frequent reminders of why this is important for you.”

Know that life may not be what you expected when you decided to lose weight. “Sometimes during the weight-loss phase, we have this idea that, ‘Wow, when I get to my goal weight, things will be better in my life — better at work, my romantic situation, I’ll have a great social life,’” Rydin-Gray says. “Then when we get to the maintenance phase, we realize life is pretty much the same as when it was when we were heavier.”

4. TURN TO YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK

One thing that can help all of us maintain an optimistic outlook and manage stress — and keep weight off — is a strong support network. Having people you can turn to provides accountability and helps you stick to your healthy lifestyle. “You need supportive people who can lift you up and bring you back to feeling confident,” Rydin-Gray says.

It’s particularly essential that anyone you share a kitchen with is on your side. “It’s so difficult to overcome a cookie habit when the person you live with has cookies every night,” Fear says. Beyond that, your support system can be anyone from friends and coworkers to dietitians and online communities. “Many people don’t have an in-real-life circle of friends that encourage them to be kind to themselves or try a new vegetable recipe,” Fear adds. So if you can find that virtually, take advantage of it.

No matter what, know you can keep the weight off. “There’s a mindset shift where taking care of yourself feels better and more important than giving in to any cravings or slacking off,” Rydin-Gray says. That may sound crazy when you start the weight-loss journey, but once you reach your goal and feel how good it feels, you’ll know it’s better than any ‘high’ a food can give you.

Source: By Brittany Risher

Motivation Monday: 5 Tips to Lift You Up When Working Out Feels Pointless

Motivation, Inspiration and Encouragement, Uncategorized
5 Tips to Lift You Up When Working Out Feels Pointless

Have you ever felt like you’ve been working so hard to achieve your health and weight-loss goals but, no matter what, the people you want to notice just aren’t recognizing your slayage? You are not alone.

One of my group chats was all abuzz the other day about actress and SNL comedian Leslie Jones’ recent Instagram gym selfie:

While it took a lot of courage for Jones to express her vulnerability on social media, her caption got me thinking about how common these feelings of unworthiness about our bodies may be. Her comment made me reflect back to when I was 30 pounds heavier, struggling with my own feelings of failure, asking myself, “What’s the point in trying?” Heck, I’ve had those thoughts when I’m at a healthy weight and just not seeing the results I want, think I should be seeing or the results I want the world to see …

Leslie followed up with a post later in the day with the following caption:

“Hey!! I want everyone to know I post my real feelings cause I am a real person!! And I know I’m not alone. That being said I’m also 50 years old and know that life is life! And some days we are low! But the good thing is I know I’m loved by God and I’m good!! It’s important to respect your feelings as long as you don’t live there!! God bless!!”

Regardless of your religion or beliefs, Leslie’s thought is a powerful one — no matter who you are, some days you have low feelings, just don’t live there and know that you are loved.

With Valentine’s Day upon us, and images of perfect, happy couples everywhere, I want to leave you with a message: Stop trying for others. Start doing it for you.

Even if you are paired with a loving partner, you may still have those “What’s it all for?” moments.

Next time you wonder what’s it’s all for, take a look in the mirror and say: “Me.”

And yes, I know this can be hard. For example, maybe you’ve been regularly checking someone out at spin class with zero glances back, maybe you want your spouse to give you a hug when you get home from the gym, maybe you just want your work crush to notice you’ve lost 7/8 of a pound or maybe you just want someone, anyone to comment that you look damn good.

Drown out the need for external validation and just keep putting in work in the gym, keep logging (and sticking to your goals) and keep yourself top of mind — you will see results. Here are some self-love tips to help you along your health and fitness journey:

1. FIND SOMETHING YOU LOVE

Like most people, I love that post-exercise glow, the endorphin rush I feel just after leaving the gym, but I’ll be honest: I don’t always love the workout itself. So think about a workout you truly love. For me, it’s working out with my friend Alex. We always have the best time crushing stress in the gym. So, identify that thing for you. It could be a Zumba or dance class. Maybe walking, yoga or tai chi is your thing. Or, you may surprise yourself by trying something new like rock climbing, biking or even golfing.

2. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO LIFT YOU UP

I was taught at a young age that you really just need one good friend. To this day, it still rings true for me. Your group of friends doesn’t have to be big, but it should include people who lift you up and make you your best self. Reach out to friends who can help motivate and encourage you along the way. Try to get yourself one good friend who can support you on your health and fitness journey. My friend Deesha recently started doing 6 a.m. bootcamp workouts and she’s started sending a note to to let me know she was on her way to her session. Some days I’d wake up at 6:15 a.m. to a text from her saying she was going and that was all the motivation I needed to get out of bed to do my own workout instead of hitting snooze. The same thing goes for food — you might want to avoid a meal with a friend who’s known to go crazy at dinner (real talk: sometimes I am that friend) … but that friend might be the perfect fit for a movie or walk around the neighborhood.


3. REFLECT ON HOW FAR YOU’VE COME

If you’re in the middle of reclaiming a workout routine or tracking your food intake, remember that time you could barely lift the current dumbbells you are using. If you’re at the start of your wellness journey, think back to the time when you were too intimidated to even start. The fact you’ve made the commitment to start eating better or exercising is progress from where you began. I often get a rush of self love when I think about how I used to be terrified of the sled at the gym and now I run up to push it — loaded with weights — across the gym like a pro.

4. IT’S OK TO REACH OUT FOR HELP

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, sad or stressed, reach out to friends and family for support. It can be a text or a phone call. Better yet, tell the people that matter to you what you need from them: maybe it’s as simple as your spouse giving you a hug or high five when you get home from your run. The MFP community can also be incredibly supportive- check out the community message boards for inspiration from other users. You can even introduce yourself and ask for words of motivation. But if those tactics are not helping or not providing the level of support you need, then don’t hesitate to get help from a professional who is better equipped to help you explore the root of your sadness, stress or lack of self worth.

5. DO IT FOR YOURSELF

No matter what your health, fitness or weight-loss goal is, you’ve got to make the change for yourself. You can be motivated by others, but at the end of the day if you aren’t doing it for yourself you will be let down. Stop focusing on the number on the scale and the external praise, instead shift your focus to your increased energy and how much better you feel physically when you are a few pounds lighter.

Source: by Kirby Bumpus, MPH

Finish Strong Friday: Can Apple Cider Vinegar Fix All Your Problems?

Motivation, Inspiration and Encouragement, Uncategorized
Can Apple Cider Vinegar Fix All Your Problems?

Spring cleaning isn’t just for closets. After months of cold weather and cravings for rich meals, our bodies deserve a reset. Thanks in part to an ever-expanding selection of health drinks, this question burns as intensely for some as a teaspoon of ACV on a sore throat. Rumors are its health benefits include everything from increased energy and weight loss to improved digestion. Yet many of the claims associated with it remain unproven, so let’s to take a closer look at the trend.

Unpasteurized apple cider vinegar is rich in enzymes and probiotics, much like other raw fermented liquids such as kombucha. Probiotics aid digestion, keep us “regular” and prevent bloating (as yogurt commercials have informed us for years). Yet those benefits only are gained if you ingest the raw stuff sold by all-natural producers such as Bragg, because pasteurization kills probiotic strains. You’ll know you’ve hit the jackpot when you see cobwebby strands of the “mother” floating in your bottle of amber liquid. If you’re looking for a way to wake up and energize your digestion, a morning shot of apple cider vinegar might make sense.

Raw apple cider vinegar also contains acetic acid, which research shows can help block starch absorption. This can directly benefit pre-diabetics because blood sugar may be less likely to spike if you consume vinegar before a starchy meal. A related claim is that vinegar “increases energy levels” by stopping blood sugar spikes cold — but for the general population, however, this is a bit of an exaggeration. Scientific evidence shows only a very slight beneficial effect on non-pre-diabetic subjects. Likewise, studies have shown ingesting apple cider vinegar helped protect mice from the ill effects of high-fat diets by improving blood-sugar levels and cholesterol. Unfortunately, replicating these results in humans has been elusive.

As a key feature of many cleanse diets, apple cider vinegar is also touted as a great way to combat “toxic overload” — a vague diagnosis which purportedly threatens all of us who enjoy happy hour, dessert or both. However, the claim that apple cider vinegar cleanses the liver of “sludge” or toxins is more anecdotal than scientific. Similarly, the notion that apple cider vinegar can melt fat or promote weight loss isn’t backed by hard facts. It’s certainly plausible that adding a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to 8 ounces of water can suppress appetite — but one study concluded this resulted mainly from nausea caused by consuming highly acidic vinegar. (It’s also worth noting that drinking 8 ounces of plain water before a meal can dull appetite as well, with zero vinegar added.)


ACV TASTE TEST

“Sour” is one of the more polite words that can be used to describe drinking undiluted raw apple cider vinegar. But that’s exactly what fans of the stuff have done for years, taking a spoonful straight, every single morning. A gentler option is to mix it with 8 ounces of water, lemon juice and a bit of stevia.

Does this mean you should start guzzling? Probably not. Most health experts caution against overdoing it with apple cider vinegar, since it has the potential to negatively affect tooth enamel and irritate your stomach lining. In small doses, however, it might be well worth integrating into any healthy lifestyle.

Source: by Kate Chynoweth

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