11 Benefits of Doing Lunges Regularly

fitness
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/

Motivation Monday: 8 Foods That Are Surprisingly Good for Weight Loss

Motivation, Inspiration and Encouragement, Uncategorized

Losing weight doesn’t always have to be about deprivation and denial. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Successful, sustainable weight loss is far more attainable when you focus on the quality of food rather than the quantity. Eat wholesome, nutritious, (and even calorie-filled) foods and you’ll be far more satisfied and content on less. Many of the foods people think are off-limits when it comes to losing weight are the very foods that have the ability to actually help us reach our goal. Here are eight foods that cannot only help you reach your weight-loss goal, but help you keep it off for good.

Drink skim and stay slim? Not always so when it comes to dairy. A recent study published in the American Journal of Nutrition found that more than 18,000 women who consumed more higher-fat and whole-milk dairy products had a lower risk of being overweight.

How can this be? Some essential fatty acids are stripped when milk is skimmed — the very component that may help you feel fuller sooner and stay full longer with full fat products. Several studies have found that when people reduce the amount of fat in their diet, they tend to replace it with sugar and refined carbohydrates, which can have a worse effect on overall health.

Bottom line: Eat a variety of dairy and worry less about how much fat it contains. Limit high-sugar ice cream treats, and buy plain yogurt with no added sugars, which tend to pile up in the flavored and fruited varieties.

In addition to healthy fats, nut butters contain an impressive amount of protein and fiber, too. Peanut butter boasts a plentiful 8 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons along with 2 grams of fiber.

A study from Harvard School of Public Health found that regular nut consumption among a group of more than 51,000 women was associated with a lower risk of weight gain and obesity. A similar study in the Journal of Nutrition found that weight changed very little among people who consumed a normal versus nut-enhanced diet. In other words: Nuts and nut butters can be a healthy addition to your diet, even when trying to lose weight. Try snacking on nut butters in between meals to sustain your appetite. A 200-calorie cashew or peanut butter snack is far more satisfying and filling than say, 200 calories of crackers or pretzels.


Shopping tip: Skip the reduced-fat versions, which ironically tend to have more calories, sugar, sodium and preservatives than regular nut butter. Buy those that list nuts — and maybe a bit of salt — in the ingredient list, and use them as a way to eat more whole grains, fruits, and veggies. What’s not to love about an apple smeared in almond butter?

Pasta is surprisingly low on the glycemic index — a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale of 0 to 100, based on how quickly they raise blood-sugar levels. The lower the number, the longer it takes to digest, leaving you with a steadier source of fuel to support energy levels. Whole-grain pasta falls in the 32–37 range (about half that of white bread), while white pasta averages in the mid-40 range — still much lower than that slice of white bread. And because pasta is traditionally tossed with other wholesome foods like seafood, vegetables and olive oil, a healthy pasta meal is far from off-limits for those concerned about their weight.

Pro tip: Stick to whole-grain varieties, double up on veggies and skip the super cheesy, cream-based sauces.

Rich in high-quality protein, healthy fats and essential vitamins and minerals, eggs are a low-calorie, nutrient-dense choice when it comes to snacks and meals. At just 70 calories per egg, there’s no reason not to enjoy the entire egg, yolk and white combined. Yes, egg yolks are a source of dietary cholesterol, but recent studies now prove that dietary cholesterol has less of an effect on blood cholesterol than we once thought. The evidence says eating whole eggs in moderation is safe, and some studies even show they may aid in weight loss when eaten in place of refined carbs.



Bonus: Eggs are super cheap and cook quickly — a perfect solution for busy, time-crunched mornings. Cook your eggs in olive oil and use them as a vessel for sautéed greens and vegetables, then serve them over whole-grain toast for a complete, well-balanced, weight-conscious meal.

What most people fail to realize is that per ounce, dark meat chicken or turkey (from the leg and thigh) only has about 5 extra calories and 1g of fat more than white breast meat. The skin is where most of the fat lies — skip that on any part of the bird for a far more calorie-conscious choice. Dark meat poultry tends to be more tender, juicy and rich in flavor than white meat — requiring not only less butter and oil to cook with, but also less sauce or creamy condiments to make it palatable than breast meat. It’s a great source of lean protein that may leave you more satisfied at meal time, and less likely to overeat later.

Dark meat contains more myoglobin, an oxygen-carrying protein that gives it a gray-reddish color, as well as more iron and zinc — two immune-boosting minerals.

When it comes to weight loss, limiting liquid calories can be the key to success. Alcohol carries 7 calories per gram, which not only adds up quickly, but goes down quickly, too. But giving up our occasional cocktail at the end of a long day is non-negotiable for some.

Red wine may be more beneficial than white, according to one study from Washington State University, which found the polyphenols in red wine (including resveratrol) may even prevent obesity by aiding in metabolism. The heftiest boost of polyphenols comes from whole grapes, but wine certainly carries a portion of those benefits.


Bottom line: Alcoholic beverages won’t necessarily aid in weight loss, but they do help us relax and wind down from stressful days. In moderation, alcohol is good for the heart, too. Drink responsibly (not on an empty stomach), limit your intake and choose a 120-calorie glass of wine over sugar-loaded cocktails and carbohydrate-dense beer for better weight-loss success.

Your daily cup of joe may do more than just help you roll out of bed each morning. It stimulates the brain and nervous system, and contains antioxidants that may help improve glucose metabolism — which not only helps suppress the appetite, but also lowers the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Caffeinated coffee may also stimulate thermogenesis, and the body’s ability to burn more fat stores, improving performance in endurance exercises like running and biking.

While the effects of coffee on weight loss are likely minimal, the overall health benefits are reason enough to enjoy a cup or two each morning as part of your daily routine. A 2014 systematic review and meta-analysis of 36 studies found those who drank their morning cups of coffee were actually at the lowest risk for heart problems.

A cup of advice: Not all coffee is created equal — most of the benefits associated with coffee are singular to black coffee — not the cream and sugar-filled coffee beverages from drive-thrus and coffee boutiques. Limit the flavored (and over-priced) lattes to a rare treat.

Just one or two bites of rich, satisfying chocolate can not only reduce stress levels, but help curb cravings for other sugar-loaded treats, too. High stress levels can lead to cortisol hormone spikes, which increase the appetite and emotional eating behaviors.

The benefits of chocolate are specific to the concentration of cocoa flavonoids, which have been shown in studies to have multiple health benefits, such as improving blood flow to the brain and reducing the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels, blood sugar and blood pressure. The higher the percentage of cacao, the greater the benefits.

Buying tip: Skip the convenience store and check-out lane chocolate bars, which contain a lot of added fats and sugars — which can counteract some of cocoa’s health benefits. Look for bars with at least 70% cacao or higher, with a short, simple ingredient list … and indulge in just an ounce or two. Eating too much will work against you.

Portion tip: Thighs are about half the size of the breast, making them a far more portion-savvy option than today’s 9- and 10-ounce breast halves. Double bonus: They’re cheaper, too.

 

Source:

BY: SIDNEY FRY, MS, RD

8 Things Trainers Wish Everyone Knew About Weight Loss

Uncategorized, Weekly Workout Meet Up!
8 Things Trainers Wish Everyone Knew About Weight Loss

Weight loss is one of the most common fitness goals trainers deal with. The reality, however, is that not every person who seeks to lose weight ends up reaching their goal. Often times, that’s because people striving for weight loss don’t go into it with the right mindset or information about what really works when it comes to shedding fat and building muscle.

Drawing upon their expertise and years of experience with clients, here’s what trainers want you to know about dropping pounds, plus what successful weight loss looks like from their perspective.

1
RESULTS TAKE TIME, AND IT’S BETTER THAT WAY

You probably already know it can take a while to see the benefits of working out and eating healthy, but knowing something and accepting it are two different things. “Many clients will join a fitness program only to terminate too soon,” says Michael Piercy, MS, certified strength and conditioning specialist, owner of The LAB and IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year 2017. Think about it this way: “The weight that you might want to lose didn’t get there in one day, so we know that it won’t come off in a day.”

Plus, there’s the fact that losing weight really quickly isn’t a great idea. “The faster you lose weight, the more likely it is to come right back (plus some) when you stop dieting,” says Christel Oerum, a certified personal trainer and diabetes coach. “When you lose weight too quickly, you also decrease your body’s metabolism, meaning that you burn fewer calories. When you have reached your weight goal and go back to a normal, healthy diet, you may have decreased your metabolism so much that even a ‘normal’ diet will make you gain weight fast.” That’s why slow and steady is the best approach, which means 1–2 pounds of weight loss per week maximum.

2
YOUR “WHY” IS AS IMPORTANT AS YOUR “HOW”

Having a plan for how you’re going to lose weight is great, but there will inevitably be moments when your motivation wanes. During those times, your reason for wanting to lose weight in the first place becomes even more crucial, according to Brian Nguyen, CEO of Elementally Strong. Ask yourself: Why are you doing this? Is this doctor-ordered for your health? If so, why would you follow those orders? “After all, most people know what they should be doing: Eat more broccoli and less sugar, get eight hours of sleep, exercise or be active for about 20 minutes a day,” Nguyen points out. To actually make those lifestyle changes that will affect your body composition requires a big “why.”

“Maybe it’s to be able to play with the kids without pain. Maybe it’s to reinvigorate your sex life with your partner. Whatever it is, no one’s goal is really the number on the scale,” Nguyen says. “Get to the real why and make yourself conscious of it daily.” That can include making a vision board, creating your own mantra, or journaling about your weight-loss experience. However you do it, the more you focus on the specific reasons you want to lose weight — the ones without numbers attached — the more likely you are to stick to it.

3
WHAT WORKED FOR YOUR FRIEND MIGHT NOT WORK FOR YOU

It’s easy to get caught up in trendy workouts, diets and wellness trends, thinking they could be the answer to all your weight-related woes. “I see this all the time,” says Alix Turoff, a certified personal trainer and registered dietitian. “A client will come to me and tell me what’s working for their friend and think that they need to be doing the same thing. If your friend is following a Paleo diet, and it’s working for them, that’s great but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to lose weight or meet your goals,” Turoff explains. Instead, it’s better to figure out a plan that capitalizes on the healthy eating and workout habits you may already have. “It’s important to realize that weight loss and nutrition are extremely individual and it’s OK to follow your own set of rules — within reason, of course.”

4
CRAZY-HARD WORKOUTS AREN’T REQUIRED

You might think the harder you work out, the faster the weight will come off, but that’s not necessarily true. “Don’t sign up for the most challenging boot camp in town with a goal of totally burning off your bad food choices,” says Shana Verstegen, fitness director at Supreme Health and Fitness. “This is a recipe for injury and burnout. Instead, find fitness activities that you enjoy and stick with them. If fitness is viewed as fun and something you look forward to, then there is no limit to how long you can maintain it.”

5
RESISTANCE TRAINING WILL MAKE A BIGGER DIFFERENCE THAN CARDIO

It’s a common misconception that to lose weight, you have to do a ton of cardio. “By mainly basing your weight loss on lifting weights and eating healthy food — and not just on lots of cardio and a super low-calorie diet — you will permanently increase your base metabolism, meaning that you will burn more calories every second of the day, even when you are not working out,” Oerum explains. “As you build more muscle mass and your metabolism increases, it will become easier and easier to both lose weight and to maintain your weight loss.” Of course, cardio isn’t a bad thing, and it deserves a place in your routine no matter what your goals are, but perhaps a smaller one than you might expect. Oerum emphasizes that resistance training and good nutrition are more effective for long-term results.

6
THE PEOPLE YOU SURROUND YOURSELF WITH MATTER

Having a community to reach out to can make a world of difference, and while you might not be able to control your family’s health habits, you can certainly make an effort to spend time with fitness-minded friends. “Don’t forget that you are the culmination of the five people you hang around with the most, so be sure to seek out friends who are already living that healthy and fit lifestyle,” Nguyen advises. “The bottom line is that no one does this alone.”

If you can, find a workout buddy who can help keep you accountable. “Have fun with the fitness game using a system of checks and balances with rewards and penalties,” Nguyen suggests. “Maybe the most consistent partner gets a free steak dinner or whoever is later to workouts does the meal prep for the following week.” By motivating each other, you’re also motivating yourselves.

PLAN HOW YOU’LL END YOUR WEIGHT LOSS

“One of the most common weight-loss mistakes is not having a plan for what to do after you reach your goals,” Oerum says. “Most people either keep following the same diet they used to lose weight or end up going back to how they ate before their weight loss.” Neither choice is ideal. “Instead, don’t think of your weight-loss journey as being done until you have managed to keep your goal weight for at least a month.” How do you do this? “After you reach your weight-loss goal, slowly start adding a little more (healthy) food into your daily diet.” Finding a calorie intake that allows you to keep your weight stable is just as much a part of the weight-loss process as shedding pounds.

8

IT’S BETTER NOT TO HAVE WEIGHT LOSS AS YOUR PRIMARY GOAL

You might be thinking, “What? How can this not be the goal if it’s why I’m training?” Easy. “Strive for athletic and wellness goals such as completing a race, improving your maximum lifts or tracking your food intake for 30 days straight,” Verstegen says. “The weight loss will follow. If you train as an athlete, you will eventually look like an athlete.”

Source: JULIA MALACOFF

 

10 Simple Things to Do Every Day to Lose Weight 

fitness, Fitness on a Budget, Motivation, Inspiration and Encouragement, Uncategorized

You’ve made the decision to lose weight, and you are so pumped right now! Great — so how do you begin? What should you eat? How should you work out? Here are the 10 healthiest, most effective things you can do to lose weight . . . and keep it off.

Set Small, Realistic Goals and Have a Plan

Even if you have big weight-loss goals, set mini weekly or monthly goals to act as stepping stones to get there. “Lose one pound this week” or “exercise five times this week” are great specific goals you can work on every day. Get out a notebook, your calendar, or your laptop and set a weekly plan. Write down your meals for the week and include your workouts, too.

Eat These Three Things Every Time You Eat

In order to feel satisfied and stay full longer, aim to eat protein (20 to 30 grams), carbs (40 to 75 grams), and healthy fats (six to 25 grams) at every meal. Go for lean or plant-based protein, such as grilled chicken or tofu, and choose complex carbs like baked sweet potatoes rather than processed carbs. And eat whole grains and unsaturated fats like nuts and avocado.

Keep a Food Journal

It’s important to know how many calories you should be eating each day so you can figure out how many you need to stick to in order to lose weight.

Just remember to tally every single thing you eat for accuracy — taking photos of what you eat can help you remember. It’ll not only allow you to track your calories and your macros, but you’ll also be able to see if you’re eating healthy most of the time.

Do These Two Types of Workouts

Commit to exercising every single day. Five days out of the week should be 45- to 60-minute workouts that include a mix of calorie-burning cardio (especially HIIT!) and muscle-building strength training. And the other two days of the week can be active rest, like some light yoga or going for a walk.

While cardio will burn fat, weightlifting boosts your metabolism and will allow you to gain more muscle mass, which lets you burn even more calories. Aim to strength train three to four times a week.

Drink Mostly Water — and Drink a Lot of It

Skip the soda (yes, even diet!), juices, and milk, and make your go-to beverage plain, refreshing water. With zero calories, it not only hydrates you and prevents bloating, but it also fills you up. Many times thirst can be mistaken for hunger, so aim to drink water throughout the day, around 70 to 100 ounces. If you hate plain water, add fresh lemon or grapefruit slices for flavor.

Eat Veggies at Every Meal

Certified dietitian Leslie Langevin, MS, RD, CD, of Whole Health Nutrition says there’s one simple thing you need to do to jump-start your weight loss and start seeing results: “eat more veggies.” Aim to eat them at every meal, even breakfast. Since they’re low in calories and high in fiber, they’ll fill you up without using up a ton of your daily calories.

Get Enough Sleep

Not getting enough sleep can contribute to weight gain. It lowers levels of the hunger-regulating hormone, leptin, while raising levels of ghrelin, which stimulates appetite. Studies show that women who don’t sleep enough eat an average of 300 more calories than those who get enough sleep. So snuggle into bed early and get at least seven hours of sleep.

Keep the Hunger Scale in Mind

Counting calories is one way to lose weight, but this is going to be a lifestyle for you, and you can’t always count calories 100 percent of the time. That’s where the hunger scale comes into play when it comes to practicing portion control. Don’t eat unless you’re hungry, and eat until you’re satisfied but not stuffed.

Live by the 80/20 Rule

Eating healthy most of the time and allowing indulgences every once in a while, known as 80/20, is a lifestyle you can maintain forever. This means that 80 percent of the time, you eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats, and that you cut down on the sugar, processed foods, and alcohol. Then, 20 percent of the time, you get the green light to enjoy some chocolate, a glass of wine, or some french fries. Knowing you can indulge a little satisfies cravings so you never feel deprived.

Monitor Your Progress

Find a way to keep track of your progress. The scale can be a great measure of how much weight you’ve lost, but don’t rely on it as your only method. Take photos of yourself every month, have your body-fat percentage measured. How you feel is also an excellent judge, so if you feel great and your clothes are fitting better, you might want to ditch the scale entirely!

For more information on Meal & Workout plans, send us an email:  bricksbybk@gmail.com.

 

THIS LIFE-SAVING FITNESS ADVICE IS VITAL TO YOUR WELL-BEING

Before & After Photos, Built Like A Brick, fitness, Fitness on a Budget, Uncategorized
laughter
Exercise is kind of like laughter: it’s one of the few things in life that is free (though yes, you may pay for instruction with the former and entertainment to facilitate the latter), will make you feel better, and has no negative side effects. It’s also something that can be experienced alone, but is always better with a friend or a group. Exercise, like laughter, will pick you up when you’re feeling down. Both are also positive lifestyle traits that can be taught and shared with succeeding generations.
 
Exercise: it’s vital to your survival. Here’s some life-saving fitness advice. 
Exercise has been part of humanity throughout history, albeit in different forms and with perhaps different goals than today. Our ancestors depended on physical fitness for survival: it offered the ability to effectively hunt, fight, or flee, depending on the situation at hand. These days, it’s a common misconception that exercise is a leisure activity or hobby. However, this mentality is not only incorrect, but potentially life-shortening. While exercise may not be as vital for our immediate survival, but it’s just as important for our quality of life and longevity.
Exercise improves your vitality and quality of life. The older you get, the more important these things become! Fitness should be part of a healthy lifestyle from youth through old age. It has been widely proven that increasing lean tissue muscle mass and bone density in your younger years (through exercise) can decrease risks for age related ailments including osteoporosis, loss of muscle mass, and falling related injuries caused by loss of coordination and balance.
 
Need proof? Check out the results of this study by the International Osteoporosis Foundation. Based on the results, it’s clear that fitness can save (or at least improve) your quality of life!
 
Exercise like your life depends on it.
Workout
 
It’s true: I believe that fitness can do more than simply improve the quality of your life. I believe that a regular fitness regime can literally save your life. This is something I feel compelled to share, as unfortunately I recently faced the loss of someone close to me, which has served as a powerful reminder of how precious our time is and how we must make the most of it!
 
My all-time favorite illustration of this concept is the Sickness-Wellness-Fitness Continuumwhich was published by Greg Glassman in the CrossFit Journal back in 2002. In this article, Glassman proposes that if you take any measurable value of health and put it on a continuum, with sickness on one side, and fitness on the other, your exercise/fitness regimen should be one that drives all of those health markers further to the fitness end of the spectrum and away from sickness.
 
Fitness prevents sickness.
Fitness and sickness
 
A health-conscious person will pursue fitness as a hedge against sickness. The more you work toward health and fitness, the harder it is to become sick. If and when you do become sick, you’re more likely to recover quickly and return to a state of fitness. On the other hand, if you have poor health markers and are not committed to physical fitness, you’re not only more prone toward illness, but you’ll remain sick longer and will have a more difficult time with recovery. When you look at fitness from this point of view, it becomes far more than just a measure of pounds lost and body fat percentage. It becomes a sum of all of our health markers.
 
Loss and life lessons.
 
Last month, I suffered an incredible loss when my older brother Joe died unexpectedly, at the age of 38. A bad case of the flu turned into acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and he was gone 4 days later.
 
My brother was not extremely fit, but had more of a “middle of the road” fitness level. His sudden illness was a freak occurrence, and I don’t know if anything could have saved him. While I don’t think that his lack of fitness level was completely responsible for his death, I do believe a higher level of physical fitness could have saved him. As it was, his body was simply not strong enough to fend off an abnormally bad case of influenza.
 
Within grief, there is gratitude.
 
The grieving process has been incredibly difficult. But it has also opened up a huge well of gratitude. I’ve been overwhelmed with gratitude for my family, my health, and for friends and loved ones who have shown support. I also feel gratitude for my physical fitness.
 
This loss has acted as a powerful reminder to never take my health and fitness for granted.
I urge you, too, to appreciate and respect your physical form.
 
Now is the time to take an honest assessment of your own health, to pinpoint areas where you have room for improvement, and to take action to improve in those areas. Whether it’s cutting out processed foods, sleeping more, finding a gym that works with your busy schedule, adding in a some meditation every morning, or taking a good fish oil supplements, take positive steps toward health. Even the smallest and humblest step toward fitness is one that takes you further from sickness.
 
Your future self will thank you for taking proactive action toward your own health…hell, it could even save your life.
 
 
image courtesy of CrossFit Inc.
SOURCE: https://newyouchallenge.com/fitness/life-saving-fitness-advice/

The Most Dangerous Fat Is the Easiest to Lose

Food & Nutrition, Motivation, Inspiration and Encouragement, Uncategorized
The Most Dangerous Fat Is the Easiest to Lose

It’s every weight loss enthusiast’s dream to zap belly fat but, far from pure vanity, there’s actually a reason why having a lot of fat in the abdominal region can be dangerous. Fat is stored all over our body, but how does an expanding waistline grow your risk for chronic illness?

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Your body’s fat impacts your health differently depending on where it’s stored. While most fat found on other parts of our bodies (think arms, legs, buttocks) are considered “subcutaneous fat,” belly fat is more likely to be “visceral.”

PINCHABLE VERSUS PRESSABLE

“Subcutaneous fat” is the pinchable, squishy fat right between your skin and muscle that helps keep you warm, cushions you against shock, and stores extra calories. “Visceral fat” stores calories too, but isn’t as pinchable because it is located in and around your organs. It’s hidden deep within the belly region, which is what makes it firm (rather than squishy) when you press it.

PROXIMITY

Fat doesn’t just store calories—it’s a living tissue capable of producing and releasing hormones that affect your other organs. Because visceral fat sits near our organs, its release of these chemicals is poorly situated. Having more visceral fat can raise your LDL (a.k.a. “bad” cholesterol) and blood pressure. Visceral fat can also make you less sensitive to insulin, which increases your risk for Type 2 Diabetes.

TELLING BAD BELLY FAT APART

Even if you’re thin, you can still have visceral fat around the abdominal region—being “skinny” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy. There’s no sure-fire way to tell visceral from subcutaneous fat short of an expensive CT scan, but it’s important for you to get a rough idea of what your visceral stores are. Here are a few tricks to figure out where your belly stands:

APPLES AND PEARS

You’re probably wondering, “What does fruit have to do with it?” These two fruits give a quick visual of where most of your fat is stored on the body. Pears tend to store fat in the lower extremities (hips, thighs, buttocks) as subcutaneous fat while apples tend to store fat in the upper region (belly, chest) as visceral fat. It takes a quick inspection, but this is an imperfect way to tell these two fats apart.

WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE (WC)

Feel for the top of your hip bone (it’s at the same level as the top of your belly button) and circle a tape measure around this point. Remember to relax and don’t suck in your gut (be honest!). Take 2-3 measurements and figure out the average. Men should have a WC of less than 40 inches (102 cm) and women should have a WC of less than 35 inches (89 cm).

WAIST-TO-HIP RATIO

The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) takes the circumference of your waist (see above) and divides it by the circumference of your hips. To measure your hips, stand in front of a mirror then figure out the widest part of your butt and measure that circumference. Then use this formula:
WHR = (Waist circumference) / (Hip circumference).
Men should have a WHR of less than 1 while women should have a WHR of less than 0.8.

KNOW YOUR FAMILY HEALTHY HISTORY

If your parents or siblings have insulin resistance, heart disease or non-alcoholic fatty liver, you may be at a greater risk for storing visceral fat. Keeping an eye on your visceral fat may be beneficial, but know that the causes of these chronic diseases are complex. If you’re in doubt, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider.


READ MORE > ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO FAT


BANISHING VISCERAL FAT

If you fall in the normal range for WC and WHR, that’s great! Keep working at your weight goals as you see fit. If you’re not there, don’t despair. Because of its proximity to the liver, visceral fat is usually the easier fat to burn. It’s the less risky subcutaneous fat that likes to stick around.

Unfortunately, you can’t forcefully spot reduce fat around your belly no matter how many crunches you do. The next best thing is to live a healthy lifestyle:

  • Go beyond weight tracking. You can track your waist, hip and even neck circumference in the app. Use this feature to see how your measurements change over time as you lose weight.
  • Sweat for 30-60 minutes each day. Visceral fat responds well to regular endurance exercises, such as running, biking, rowing, swimming, that elevate your heart rate. As your body uses fat to fuel exercise, it’ll start using up your visceral stores.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Eat a diet high in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean protein with calories set for gradual weight loss (e.g. about 1-2 pounds per week). Cut way back on added sugars and alcohol since these nutrients will more likely end up as visceral fat.
  • Sleep more, stress less. It’s easier said than done, but in order to take care of your physical body, you have to take care of your mental state. Sleep loss and stress can sabotage your health and fitness goals, so learn more about getting a quality night’s rest and use meditation or yoga to calm your mind. Remember, it’s not just about your health; it’s about your happiness, too.
BY TRINH LE, MPH, RD

12 Fun Facts About Exercising

Humor, Uncategorized, Workout Wednesday

Are you in need of work out motivation? Well you’re in luck because here are 12 fun facts about exercising that are sure to inspire you.

1. Music improves workout performance
1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listening to music while exercising can improve work out performance by 15%.

2. Exercising improves brain performance
2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cardiovascular exercise helps create new brain cells. This
improves brain power and brain activity.

3. Working out sharpens your memory
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Exercising increases the production of cells that are responsible for learning and memory

4. Running burns calories!
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If you run at a 10 minute per mile pace you can burn 104.3 calories per mile.

5. More muscle mass = burning more fat while resting

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The more muscle mass you have, the more fat your body burns while resting.

6.Exercise prevents signs of aging
6

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you exercise 3 times a week for 45 minutes you can help prevent signs of aging.

7. A pound of muscle burns 3 times more calories than a pound of fat
7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having more muscle than fat means you can consume more calories.

8. You get sick less often
8

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercising on a regular basis helps boost your immune system.
This means you’ll get sick less often than people who don’t exercise.

9.Increases productivity
9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercising increases the amount of endorphins that are released into your body and increases productivity.

10. Workouts can improve the look of your skin
10

 

 

 

 

 

Sweat releases dirt through your pores which reduces acne and breakouts.
Workouts improve the overall look of your skin.

11. Exercising boosts self-confidence
11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercising can help ease your mind and rejuvenate your body. Working out will make you feel great and boost your confidence.

12 Working out helps you sleep better
12

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re someone who has trouble sleeping or staying asleep then working out
is your answer.Exercise helps to clear your head and helps you feel relaxed.

end

How To Get Motivated To Workout:

fitness, Fitness on a Budget, Holiday Fast Track, Humor, Uncategorized, Workout Wednesday

workout1

Over 40% of women say that the reason they aren’t as fit and healthy as they would like is because of a lack of motivation. Another 40% say it’s because of laziness. So, how do you beat both laziness and a lack of motivation? You keep on reading, that’s how!

Here are 5 ways to get motivated and push your laziness aside – sure to get all 80% of you fit and healthy, fast!

Ask yourself why you want to get fit. Having a clear reason for working out and getting healthy – one that matters to you! – is the best way to get motivated and stay that way. So, figure out your reason (it will be different for everyone!). Maybe you want to be healthy to live a long life for your children or perhaps you want to be able to climb the stairs without getting winded at work. So, spend time figuring out why you want to get fit and remind yourself of your reason regularly. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you or set your computer background with an image that will keep you focused. If you can keep the reason you want to be fit in the forefront of your mind, you will stay motivated to get to the gym without even thinking about it!

 

Have fun. Finding a workout you enjoy is one of the easiest ways to ensure you stay motivated (and not bored!). It’s hard to stay motivated to do something you hate, but, if you can find an exercise you love, it will be easy! Not into running in circles around a track or elliptical training? Think outside the box! Plan a dance party with friends, take in intenSati class or make a deal with yourself that you can only watch your favorite TV show while moving!

workout 2

Set realistic goals. It’s easy to lose motivation when your goals are so lofty that you feel defeated before you’ve even begun. So, let’s change that! Instead of deciding to workout every day if you haven’t been to the gym in 6 months, aim to workout just 1 day each week at first. One easy way to ensure your workout goals are manageable is to try to increase your fitness by just 10% each week by either adding 10% more time to your workouts, 10% more weight while strength training or 10% more repetitions every 7 days.

Reward yourself. Each of us are motivated by different things – for some of us, working towards a new pair of shoeswill do the trick while others may be more motivated by the dream of a vacation. Give yourself a point for each goal you achieve (maybe you keep track of the number of miles you run or the number of dance classes you attend) and, when you hit a certain number of points, splurge on something that makes you happy! Need more constant reinforcement? Set smaller goals and reward yourself more often with smaller, more manageable rewards (like a dinner out!).

workout 3.gif

Reevaluate often. If you’re starting to feel lazy, be honest with yourself (without passing judgment) and start from scratch. Reevaluate why you want to get fit and redefine your answer. Find a new workout to try, alter your goals or change your reward system.

 

Source: http://thebeautybean.com/fitness-2/how-to-get-motivated-to-workout-5-ways-to-jump-start-your-fitness-motivation

Your 9-Step Strategy to Maintain Your Weight During the Holidays

Holiday Fast Track, Uncategorized

 

BY DARYA ROSE

NOVEMBER 3, 2017

 

9 ways to survive the holidays when you’re alone

Holiday Fast Track, Motivation, Inspiration and Encouragement, Uncategorized

 (fotostorm)

The holidays can be a bittersweet time of year. On the one hand, you’ve got twinkle lights, hot chocolate, and holiday cheer galore. On the other, you’re surrounded by not-so-subtle reminders of what’s missing in your life—particularly, if you’re separated, divorced, or widowed. And even if you’re content with being single the rest of the year, the idea of not having a significant other to swap gifts with can be enough to make you question your life choices. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“Single people shouldn’t look to simply survive the holidays, but rather, use the reflective time of the season to thrive,” says Paul Hokemeyer, PhD, a Manhattan-based marriage and family therapist (check out these 7 awesome benefits of being single) . “To do this, they must gently shift their view of the holidays from an externally defined time of year to an internally defined one.”

At their most basic level, he explains, Christmas represents a period of rebirth and Hanukkah a time to regain control of one’s life. By digging deep, you’ll anchor yourself in something solid and real, and in turn, connect to the essence of the season. Here’s how to get started. (Let’s stay in touch! Sign up to get FREE health, weight loss, and relationship tips delivered straight to your inbox!)

Fess up about how you feel.

When the people around you are all merry and bright and you’re, well, not, sucking it up because you’re not “supposed” to feel bad during the holidays just leads to more crappy feelings. “Acknowledging your emotions gives you the opportunity to let them go,” says Vivian Sierra, a licensed marriage and family therapist in St. Louis. By suppressing them, you’re basically allowing your life to get stuck in neutral. “Being authentic is the gateway to future healthy relationships—and ultimately, love,” she says. Translation: Take the time to put your feet up and get your bah humbug on. (These 8 tricks will beat a rotten mood in 60 seconds flat.)

Get out there, even if you don’t feel like it.

It’s natural to assume that the link between behavior and mood only goes in one direction. (Think: “I feel depressed and therefore skipped the Christmas party.”) However, it’s a 2-way street more often than we realize—you may feel depressed precisely because you’re dodging holiday invites, and in turn, not coming into contact with more positive stimuli. “Increasing pleasant and meaningful activities have been shown to have broad support for individuals who have problems with mood,” says Jason Holland, PhD, geropsychologist and assistant professor at William James College in Boston. So force yourself to put at least one party on your calendar this month. You might be surprised by how much fun you have. (And if not? Well, it’s just one party.)

Develop a plan for dealing with potential holiday triggers.

For someone who’s adjusting to post-divorce singledom or widowhood, the holidays can bring back painful memories and exacerbate feelings of loneliness, says Holland. Stay ahead of the curve by clearly defining the people, places, or things that may trigger negative thoughts or emotions during the holiday season, he suggests, then come up with a game plan for how to best manage these situations before they crop up. Example: If your late husband’s sister is a drama queen and visits always leave you feeling on edge, come up with a reason ahead of time for why you can only stay at her place for an hour. Maybe that reason is meeting up with a friend who always puts you in a good mood.

Shake up your holiday routine.

“Switching things up gives your brain a workout by encouraging new associations versus the old neural pathways,” explains Nancy Irwin, PsyD, a Los Angeles-based therapist. If you and your ex-husband had a specific holiday itinerary that you followed every year, interrupting your old patterns can help lessen the blow—even little things like preparing different foods, shopping at different stores, or watching different movies can help you miss that person less.

Be proactive.

Planning ahead is always the best way to ward off a case of the lonelies, especially during the holidays. Reach out to friends, family, and acquaintances in advance and casually ask what their plans are. Once you share that you don’t have any plans, they’re likely to invite you to join them. “It’s important to remember that when we’re lonely, we tend to underestimate how much those around us care about us and would be happy to spend the holidays together,” says A.J. Marsden, PhD, assistant professor of human services and psychology at Beacon College in Florida. If this strategy is too awkward, who says you can’t do the inviting? Plan a shindig specifically for people who don’t have plans. (Feeling lonely is as unhealthy as smoking 15 cigarettes a day—but here’s how to fight it.)

Get back to your roots.

Think back to a time when the holidays gave you the warm and fuzzies—what were the rituals or traditions that you loved most? Bringing them back into your present can help you regain that spark. “Rituals induce calm and relieve stress by projecting a sense of order and control into the unpredictability of life,” says Sierra. “They provide a sense of continuity and belonging that significantly contribute to mental health.”

Reach out to long lost friends and relatives.

Just because you’re unable to spend time with certain family members or friends during the holidays doesn’t mean you can’t connect with them in other ways. “Reaching out to your social connections is good for your mental and emotional health,” says Sierra. It boosts your sense of belonging, while also strengthening your social network. All it takes is a festive text message, a funny Facebook post, or an old-school Christmas card to let someone know you care, which boosts their overall wellness too. It’s a win-win. (Just make sure you’re not breaking one of these 14 Facebook etiquette rules that will get you unfriended fast.)

Do some good.

It can be frightening to see the dark places your mind can wander to when given the opportunity. “Too much time on one’s hands can be dangerous,” says Hokemeyer. “Get out of the house and into the service of others.” Finding community service opportunities is easy, and not only will providing service boost your mood and morale, but it may also foster connections with new people.

Don’t put so much pressure on yourself.

Try not to force yourself to have a certain type of holiday experience this year, or for “things to ‘be a certain way,'” says Marsden. Keep it simple, and remember that “spending the holidays alone can be a very enjoyable experience if you make time for yourself,” she says.

One place to start: Getting some fresh air. Recent research has shown that exercise can help ease depression, especially during the holidays, notes Marsden. Plus, “exercise releases endorphins that make us feel good and spending time outdoors can help increase vitamin D, which also helps ease depression.”

By Krissy Brady

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