Fitness & Wellness

Get Your Abs By Summer

Get Your Abs By Summer

It’s not too late to get your abs by summer. In fact, it’s perfect timing. You could be shopping for a beachwear that doesn’t cover you from head to toe as soon as the summer wear arrives. The key to working on your abs is not just focusing on the abs, but the whole body. Some people actually have rippling abs, but you can’t tell it under the layer of fat. You have to work on total body conditioning and shed any extra pounds that threaten to cover that six pack.

Include all types of exercises to burn calories.

Whether it’s strength training, aerobics or even yoga it’s all good. Stretching, lifting and running hard will help burn the calories and get you in top physical shape. Focusing on specific muscle groups, like the abs, should be part of the workout too. High intensity interval training and core training not only burn calories, you can set up exercises to boost building the abs. Total body training doesn’t focus on just one muscle group in the abdominal area, but all the abdominal muscles. That’s what you need to get the look you want.

Make your workout more fun.

There’s a lot of fun activities you can do that help build abs. While bicycling works the legs, it also works the abs. Boxing is fun and a break from traditional gym workouts. Training for it can be the perfect way to build the muscles you want and the actual boxing can reinforce that muscle building. After all, have you ever seen a good boxer with a beer belly? I doubt that you have. Grab a hula hoop or go roller blading for a fun activity that works toward a flatter abdomen.

Eat healthy.

Eating healthy isn’t dieting. Dieting has an expiration date, either when you cheat or when you succeed. Then you go back to old eating habits that put on the weight in the first place. Before you know it, those pesky pounds have come home to roost. Eating healthy means making lifestyle changes and learning to choose your food more wisely. It might be as simple as substituting brown rice for white to save a few calories. Abs aren’t sexy if they’re covered by a layer of fat.

  • Practice tucking your tummy in when you’re sitting and improve your posture at the same time. Sit up straight and pull your stomach in as hard as you can. Release it just enough so you can breathe comfortably and hold. You can do this throughout the day.
  • Make sure you have adequate hydration. Too often dehydration disguises itself as hunger. That means you’ll be eating without being hungry. Adequate hydration gives you energy. Keep a bottle of water with you and sip throughout the day.
  • Get plenty of fiber in your diet. Low fiber can clog you up and leave you constipated and bloated. You also need adequate fluids to help prevent that from occuring.
  • Carbohydrate cycling is one way of eating that can help shed pounds and is has a easy technique. Eat the same amount of fat and protein all week, but alternate high carb and low carb days.

Say Goodbye To Back Fat

Say Goodbye To Back Fat

You can start wearing more revealing clothing and ones not so covering when you say goodbye to back fat. Back fat comes from lack of muscle tone in the back muscles and excess pounds or bad nutrition. There’s no such thing as spot reducing, just taking off the fat from one area, so to attack back fat, you have to first come to grips with your weight and overall body fat. That means a healthy diet and regular exercise. However, you can also focus on toning those back muscles, which can help define and improve the appearance as you shed those extra pounds.

Start strength training exercises.

Not only does strength training help build those back muscles, it also helps burn calories fast. You’ll want to strengthen the upper back so try some weights too. Bent over flys are excellent for reconditioning those upper back muscles that are flabby. Don’t forget the cardio. Working at top speed on cardio, including skipping rope, burns extra calories and helps eliminate the fat.

Try other activities where the upper back gets a workout.

You can bet the Harvard heavyweight rowing team doesn’t have back fat, nor do many boxers. That’s because preparing for those activities require strong upper back muscles. Grab a rowing machine and start working out. Better yet, learn how to throw punches at the bag and prepare for boxing. Both of these activities will banish backfat quickly, while also burning loads of calories.

Eat healthy, but don’t diet.

Diets don’t work. They always end and all the progress you made ends with them. Besides, diets are so restrictive that it almost seems impossible to stick with them. Most of all, diets always end. Sometimes that ending occurs at three in the morning with a gallon of Ben and Jerry’s. Other times, it’s a happier moment. You’ve lost the weight and quit the diet. What happens next is what makes success a failure. You go back to old eating habits that made you gain the weight in the first place. Those lost pounds find their way home…sometimes bringing friends. Eating healthy is the way to go. You’ll take off pounds and keep them off for life.

  • Stay away from the booze. Alcoholic drinks put on more weight than you might imagine. One drink might be okay, but it normally doesn’t end at one. Before you know it, you’ve consumed a hot fudge sundae of calories of alcohol.
  • Exercise all the muscles in your back to get the best look.
  • Cool the stress. While exercise will burn off the hormone of stress, overexercising will produce them. Workout to a schedule that gives your body breaks so it can heal. Your trainer can help you do that.
  • Drink plenty of water and get your zzzs to achieve the most when you workout. Water also helps release fluids. In fact, one cause of water retention is actually too little water.

Should You Worry About Hormones In Food

Should You Worry About Hormones In Food

In today’s world it seems to be all about supersizing and getting to the ultimate goal faster. New farming practices create beef cows that grow to full size 20% faster and salmon that are ready for use twice as fast as their wild counterparts. There are cows that produce 15% more milk because of some of these practices. Some of it comes from genetic engineering, such as the AquAdvantage salmon that undergoes genetic engineering to boost the growth hormone. However, some comes from the use of growth hormones directly given to the animals. The key to these increases all come from boosting the growth hormone. Does that mean when you consume these as food, whether the milk or the actual animal, you’ll get a dose of the same hormone? Should you worry about hormones in food?

The FDA and the Food Industry agree.

Both say there is no harm in consuming these substances, but this is also the same agency that took 40 years to find out that trans fats are bad for you. As for the food industry, it’s their dime you’re talking about and they aren’t about to stop the use of hormones that have increased production of food and made farming more profitable. So what can you believe? Eating second hand hormones sounds a bit frightening, but is there any studies that show it has a nefarious effect on the body?

One thing leads to another when it comes to hormones.

The hormones given to cows to increase milk is rBGH—recombinant bovine growth hormone. It’s a synthetic cow hormone that shows no effect in humans and won’t harm your health. But it does trigger the production of IGF-1—insulin-like growth factor. That has the negative effects caused by human growth hormones and is as much as ten times higher in milk from cows given rBGH. The negative effects of too much of this in the blood include a 50% increase in the risk of prostate cancer and a 65% increase in the risk of hormone-dependent premenopausal breast cancer than people with low levels of it in the blood.

There are other hormones used in raising food.

Sex hormones have been used in raising cattle for over a half century. The hormone used is primarily estrogen. Unless the beef is labeled organic, most cattle receive an implant that goes behind their ear and creates a delivery system for the hormone. Just as antibiotics are given to chickens and pigs, as well as cattle, these hormones make the animals grow faster, but could also be responsible for the increasing pattern of earlier and earlier onset of puberty in children.

  • Besides potentially increasing the risk for breast, prostate and colon cancer, increased IGF-1levels in the blood may also increase the risk of diabetes.
  • A review in the journal Medical Hypotheses in 2009 warned pregnant women that drinking milk or eating products from the milk from cows given rBGH might create health problems for the infant when he or she reached adulthood.
  • Growth hormones can increase the risk for cows to get infections, so often they’re given antibiotics. The antibiotics are passed to humans in the milk and add to the potential of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
  • While the jury is still out on whether these hormones can affect human health, consider purchasing foods with labels indicating they’re hormone free, such as “no rbGH” or “no rbST.”

Are Carbs Unhealthy

Are Carbs Unhealthy

Is fat bad for you? Are carbs unhealthy? Before you can get an answer, you have to provide more information. Just like not all fat is unhealthy, not all carbs are. In fact, both fat and carbs are necessary for a healthy diet, but you have to have the right type of each. Trans fat and flaxseed oil are both fat, yet trans fat is bad for you, but flaxseed oil has omega-3 fatty acids that are extremely beneficial for your health and eating a lot of trans fats can lead to heart disease. Carbs include fruits and vegetables, but the group also contains processed sugar. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that negatively affects the body and fruits and vegetables are the complex form and important for good health.

Carbs can be broken down another way.

There is another way to categorize carbohydrates and that’s simple starchy carbs or sugar, complex starchy carbs and complex fibrous carbs. Even then, you can’t say that a group is good or bad. You have to break the groups down even further. Simple starchy carbs are normally vilified. But not all of them are villains and even those that aren’t healthy when eaten regularly have beneficial properties. This group contains table sugar (sucrose), fruit sugars (fructose), milk sugar (lactose) and glucose, the simplest form of them all. No one would ever say that fruit is bad for you, but high fructose corn syrup may be, particularly since it’s found in so many foods. If you want to lose weight or stabilize blood sugar levels, sucrose is the one to avoid.

Complex starchy carbs are made up of two different groups.

These types of carbs are in long chains and have vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber. In their natural state, such as whole grains and beans, they’re good for you. Unfortunately, most of this group has been refined and the bran and germ has been removed from the grain. Instead of slowly breaking down, it now acts just like a simple sugar might act and quickly turn turn glucose. This processing changes healthy nutrient rich foods like whole grains or brown rice and turns it into instant energy with few nutrients, such as white rice or white refined flour.

You need complex fibrous carbs for good health.

When people go on a low carbohydrate diet, they often fail to realize that this group of foods is healthy and should be in your diet, even though they’re carbohydrates, especially when you want to lose weight. This group of food includes fresh vegetables and greens. The fiber isn’t digestible and passes through your body, cleansing the elimination system in the process. They’re packed with nutrients and extremely low in calories, making them a good addition to any weight loss effort.

  • Making food choices requires that you know more than just that it’s a carb. You need to understand the type of carbohydrate it is.
  • For a diet that’s healthy, you need to include complex fibrous carbohydrates, which include vegetables, starchy complex carbs, such as beans and simple carbs, like dairy products or fruit.
  • The rule of thumb is that colorful carbs (vegetables and dairy) are good and white carbs (refined sugar and flour) aren’t. Of course, that doesn’t take into account M&Ms (colorful but not healthy) or cauliflower (white but healthy).
  • A healthy diet has all food groups, including healthy carbs and healthy fat.

Incorporate A Stability Ball In Your Life

Incorporate A Stability Ball In Your Life

People often use a stability ball when they exercise for a variety of reasons. It helps your posture, your core stability and helps develop good overall muscle strength. However, you don’t have to relegate it to storage when exercising is over, you can incorporate it into your daily life. Some people use a large stability ball to sit at when they’re at the computer for long hours. It can help relieve back pain that sometimes occurs.

Using a stability ball as a chair can also help you remember to change positions.

If you’re like most people at their desk, only your fingers are moving. When you’re sitting on a stability ball, you really don’t have to remember to change positions more frequently, it will tell you. Just a minor move of the head or arms will cause immediate movement and an attempt to balance yourself. It can prevent injury or damage from sitting in one position too long.

You’ll build up those abs more quickly when you use a stability ball as a chair.

The core muscles are used to help you stay balanced and part of the network is the abdominal muscles. While you won’t get the same invigorating workout of crunches, it does provide a continuous low key workout that makes a difference over time. Since people often sit for hours at a computer or desk, those small gains add up. You’ll notice it by how your muscles feel after sitting for a long time.

Every calorie counts.

Using a stability ball as your chair can burn a few extra calories that otherwise would remain on your thigh, butt or waist as fat. (Actually, all over your body, but nobody cares if their hands have a little extra weight. You’ll probably never hear, “Do these gloves make me look fat?”) The extra movement can burn up to 350 calories a day and in 10 days, cause you to lose a pound without changing your diet or other exercise practices. While you should have a healthy diet and a good workout program, this is a bonus to help shed pounds faster.

  • If you find your back hurts when you’re trying to work, don’t buy a special chair costing hundreds. A stability ball will stop the pain just as well.
  • You’ll be more apt to take a break and move, maybe even throw in a few other exercises using the ball if you’re sitting on a stability ball.
  • If you’re prone to falling, there’s no better way to improve your balance than with the ball as your seat.
  • You’ll improve your circulation with a stability ball as your chair. That means a better complexion and improved heart health.

Get More Out Of Each Session

Get More Out Of Each Session

Exercise takes commitment and the more committed you are, the harder you’ll work. It’s like most trainers say, to get more out of each session, you have to give more. You can start with your commitment to working out. Create a plan that has you exercising at least three times a week. Don’t just say you’ll try to workout but do it and put your heart into it. Everyone has seen the “lazy guy” at the gym who barely makes an effort, just going through the motions. I believe he’s the one that coasts down the hill on the exercise bike. He’s definitely not getting the most for his time or money.

Create a schedule, stick with it and track the progress you have.

When you schedule exercise into your calendar, you’re more apt to workout than if you just said, I’ll get to it when I have time. Staying with a program of regular exercise is the key to success. Tracking your progress not only provides motivation that can help you through frustrating times, it also helps give direction and shows you where you need to improve. When you track your progress, you don’t have to try to remember if you’re doing four sets or five, just look at your records.

Watch your form.

Take the time to learn the proper form and ensure it’s just as good as you build difficulty. If you’re lifting and the heavier weight causes your form to suffer, go back to a lighter weight until you perfect it. Form is everything when you exercise. If your form is wrong, it can cause injury or minimize the benefits of the workout. Move slowly until you’re sure you’ve mastered every movement and then ask help from someone if you’re unsure. When you work with a personal trainer, it’s not a problem. They’re tracking your movements and will let you know immediately.

Find exercises or equipment that does double duty.

It might be scary to learn how to use a new piece of equipment, but it also could boost your benefits. Kettlebells, for instance give a full body workout. Boxing may be totally intimidating, but you’ll love it once you try it and it also gives a full body workout. You’ll be amazed at how quickly time flies and how quickly you’ll trim your body when you do exercises that hit all areas of fitness and the body at once. You’ll enjoy yourself in the process.

  • Keep your cell phone off. Treat the appointment with the gym as a top priority, like you would a job interview or an interview with an important client.
  • Push yourself. Don’t sacrifice form, but do push a little harder each time. Before you know it, you’ll be doing things you didn’t think you could do.
  • Take your workout outside the gym. Once in a while, you need a change of pace. Take a break from regular exercising and do another active sport. Whether you rock climb, dance or swim, it’s all good exercise.
  • Believe in yourself. Whether it’s weight loss you hope for or a toned body with a stomach you could bounce a quarter on, YOU need to believe you can do it. Everyone else will sit back and weight for results before they do.

Thanksgiving Is Coming Fast

Thanksgiving Is Coming Fast

If you’ve made it through Halloween unscathed, avoiding the pitfalls of sampling the trick-or-treat candy, it’s time to start planning for the next holiday. Thanksgiving is coming fast and it’s a holiday that’s all about food and sitting around the table filled with a feast. Even worse, it merges with the preparation for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, St. Lucia Day. or Three Kings Day, depending on your beliefs. That makes it a hectic stressful time, too.

Create a holiday challenge for yourself.

Start now and work through New Year’s to achieve a holiday challenge. It an be something simple, such as adding an additional half hour to your present workout schedule or not missing any workouts. It can be a specific number of pounds you want to lose or how much weight you want to lift. Whatever excites and motivates you to get moving is excellent.

Get the facts on the food.

If you aren’t already knowledgeable about the best foods to eat and what not to choose, at least not in large portions, it’s time to start learning before you have to choose from the holiday fare. It’s also time to start planning a Thanksgiving menu of healthy food if you’re the one doing the cooking for the holidays. Remember, there are lower calorie alternatives that are still great desserts, so don’t omit them because you’re worried you’ll gain weight.

Set a goal for a new outfit for the holidays.

The size of that piece of clothing should be smaller than your present size. If it’s something that you can get anywhere, such as traditional jeans, no need to buy it ahead of time. If it’s a not-so-easy-to-find design, commit to it by putting it on layaway if possible. The fact that you’ve paid money upfront will help provide the incentive to earn that special reward. You can also reward yourself with some great looking boxing gloves.

  • Take up a new active sport. If you’ve never ice skated, it’s time to learn. Of course, I always promote boxing. It’s great for people of either sex, challenging and loads of fun.
  • Start your Christmas window shopping early. Go to the mall frequently and hike the area, checking out the buys in all the stores. You might even do a little early holiday shopping.
  • Plan a night out dancing to burn off a few extra calories and have some fun. Stick with water or coffee while you’re out on the town, since alcohol is high in calories, with little nutritional qualities.
  • Put in a workout video and train in your living room for an extra workout each week. It can be spontaneous and used when you have some extra time that you otherwise would waste lounging about.

What To Do With All The Leftover Halloween Candy

What To Do With All The Leftover Halloween Candy

After October 31, everyone has the problem of what to do with all the leftover Halloween candy and all the candy their kids collected. If it’s put in a candy dish and left on the counter, it’s more likely than not, you’ll be snitching a bite size Snickers and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup on a regular basis. You don’t even have to like those types of candy, they just have to be available when you get a craving for a sweet treat. The pounds of candy available are often too much for the kids to eat on their own. They’ve probably eaten enough already to keep them flying around the room for days. Here are some ideas on how to eliminate the problem.

Find your local Operation Gratitude Candy Buy Back participant.

The Buy Back Program was started by a dentist that was concerned with the dental health of children after gorging on candy for several weeks after Halloween. The concept is simple. You find a dentist that’s participating in your area, have your child take his or her candy into the dentist, they weigh it and pay your child a dollar a pound. The cash makes an impression on the children and so does where the candy go. It’s sent to troops overseas, where they get a small bit of home in the mail and can munch on the candy or give it to local children to improve relationships. If you use this option, impress on your child the good they’ll be doing and of course, they’ll get cash in return. Treats for Troops also has a similar program.

Donate the candy to Ronald McDonald House or other charities.

Ronald McDonald House accepts donations of candy for the parents of the children who are critically ill and stay there. A nibble of sweets can be quite soothing and offer a burst of energy, especially if you’ve been at the bedside of a sick child for over 24 hours. There are other local agencies where the donation will be appreciated. The Homeless Shelter, CAPS, Women’s Shelter and other organizations that help people who just need a helping hand often accept these sweet treats to brighten their client’s day.

Use it in a recipe for the upcoming holiday season.

You can freeze the candy to keep it at its freshest and also prevent it from disappearing too quickly. Once frozen, it’s the perfect extra for Thanksgiving brownies or as Rice Krispie treat extras. Frozen mini candy bars stored in a plastic bag can be set on a wooden cutting board and smashed with a hammer if you want to sprinkle it throughout the treat. Just open the plastic bag when you’re finished, then take off the wrapper and it’s the perfect size for your creation.

  • Budget the candy to a few pieces a day if you choose. Those not used for a while can be stored in the freezer and removed when ready for them.
  • Introduce the Candy Fairy to the kids. (She’s a sister to the tooth fairy who insures her sis will be collecting good teeth.) You leave the candy out one night and the fairy exchanges it for small toys.
  • Do a reverse trick-or-treat called treat-or-treat. Let the gets put their costumes on again and take the candy to a senior center. Not only will they appreciate the treat, they’ll love the attention from the children.
  • Use the candy for decorations, such as on the holiday gingerbread house.

Increasing Iron Can Increase Performance

Increasing Iron Can Increase Performance

There are a few obvious reasons that increasing iron can increase performance, such as its effect on anemia caused by low iron and the role it plays transporting oxygen in the blood to all the tissues of the body. Iron also helps the body to use the carbohydrates for energy while you perform a workout and aids in the process of recovery after a tough workout. It helps the body to produce proteins, hormones and new cells. As you age, absorption is less. Iron deficiency can also occur with excessive bleeding from menstruating, too frequently donating blood and digestive problems such as Crohn’s.

Athletes lose iron through sweating and it shows in their heart rate.

If your body is lower in iron, your heart rate isn’t as steady as you increase how strenuous your workout is. Your body can’t get the proper volume of oxygen to create the necessary energy, either. Long distance runners and other endurance athletes are most at risk, but so are females and vegetarians. That means all groups should ensure they have adequate supplies of iron in their diet, especially during training.

Your body stores iron 66% of the iron in the hemoglobin. The rest is in the liver, spleen and

bone marrow.

The higher the amount of iron in the hemoglobin, the more oxygen it can carry from the lungs. That means the more endurance you have when performing aerobic workouts and the higher your level of performance will be. Some foods promote the absorption of iron, while others prohibit it. Animal sources, such as shrimp, fish, beef and chicken tend to promote iron absorption, whereas sources of iron from vegetables, like pumpkin seed and tofu lower absorption rates.

Iron deficiency can lead to a poor performance.

If you feel tired and it gets worse with exertion, you may be iron-deficiency. It can lead to poor performance a tired feeling that is more than normal, poor concentration, irritability and feeling cold. One symptom is chewing or craving ice, although science has yet to find the reason. A decreased function of the immune system is another.

– Get a baseline iron test on your blood before you start working out. If you start a strenous workout program and begin feeling tired, have another test and compare it to the first. You’re likely to find iron-deficiency.

– Pay close attention to your diet to insure you get adequate amounts of iron. Make sure you have adequate B12, folate and vitamin C.

– Consider supplementation if the problem of low iron continues. Your health care professional can help guide you on this.

– Replenishing your store of iron may take up to eight weeks, so insuring your have adequate stores is of primary importance.


Fat Burning Foods

Fat Burning Foods

Fat burning foods don’t literally burn off fat or everyone would eat them until they reached their perfect weight. They do set in motion different mechanisms in the body that burns more calories in the body than the food itself contains. However, each fat burning food works in a different way to help take off fat. While these aren’t the tools for weight loss, they’re one tool you can add to your arsenal to help shed pounds faster and keep weight off permanently. Celery is always at the top of the list. It’s primarily fiber and water with very few calories, yet is filling.

Spice up your food with red peppers.

Peppers, all except bell peppers, contain capsaicin. It’s what produces the heat in the peppers. While it will burn the skin and your eyes if you happen to rub your eyes, it also boosts your metabolism. Capsaicin boosts thermogenesis, the rate your body burns fat and calories. It also lowers the effect of dietary fat, triggering some genes that inhibit fat accumulation. It also helps regulate blood sugar, has anti-inflammatory effects to help reduce the pain of arthritis, cleans the sinuses and flushes mucus from the nose and lungs, as well as slow the growth of certain types of cancer.

Green tea has certain compounds that boost your metabolism.

Green tea contains catechins, specifically EGCG. This antioxidant boosts fat oxidation rates by as much as 25 percent. It also contains caffeine, another metabolism booster. Don’t expect just one cup to do the trick. Studies show that in order to lose weight you need to do two things, combine it with exercise and drink six to seven cups a day. It flushes out your system in the process. The catechins and flavonoids protect the cells with antioxidant properties, too. It can reduce the risk for cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkisons, as well as help fight bacteria responsible for tooth decay.

Coffee boosts your metabolism, while apple cider vinegar helps you stick to your diet.

Coffee, the kind with caffeine, does boost your metabolism and help you burn calories faster. While you might think that Starbucks is the location of the new Holy Grail of weight loss, beware. Those fancy latte drinks pack on the pounds. Drink a cup of joe before your workout to make the workout more effective. Drinking a glass of cold water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in it each morning also boosts weight loss. The cold water makes your body work harder and the ACV gives you a full feeling longer.

– Whole grains make your body work harder to break down the fiber than you would on preprocessed grains.

– Lentils are a protein rich food that’s low in calories and high in fiber, which also requires more calories to digest that you ingest.

– Lean meat requires a large portion of the calories it contains to digest the meat, lowering its calorie count significantly.

– Add bone broth to your diet for a number of benefits besides weight loss. It does boost your metabolism, but is also a great source of protein. Make it from the bones of grass fed beef or free range chickens.