Mix Up Your Workouts

Mix Up Your Workouts

If you dread going to the gym and doing the same thing repeatedly or can’t seem to shed those last few pounds, you need to mix up your workouts to get the most from your time. Doing the same old thing continuously can reduce your motivation. If you’re able to do each exercise with your eyes closed, while talking on the phone and writing down notes, you’ve been at it to long. It’s time to switch things up and make your workout interesting.

Having trouble shedding those last few pounds even though you’ve worked hard.

The body is amazing. When you do a specific movement enough, it learns to do that movement without expending as much energy, just as you learn specific tasks and how to make them easier. The longer you do a routine, the more chance you have of your body becoming too efficient. While normally, efficiency is good, when it comes to exercise, it’s not. It means your body isn’t expending as many calories and you could face plateauing, that point where you can’t seem to shake those last few pounds.

Get all your muscles in gear.

Even though you plan a thorough workout, not all muscles get into the groove. There are over 600 muscles in the body all types of ways to move them. You’re probably missing at least a few, if not many of these no matter how good your workout. Varying your workout allows you to move muscles in different ways and can target more muscles to ensure you exercise more of them.

You’ll boost your brain and keep it safe, too.

Exercise helps build brain power. It boosts the cell growth in your brain and sends vital oxygen due to increased circulation. It boosts BDNF—brain-derived neurotropic factor, that stimulates the growth of brain cells, particularly in the memory area. Exercise helps create more neural pathways and increases executive functioning. According to a study by The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Pittsburgh, the more different types of activities you do, the less are your chances of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

  • Adding activities like biking, running, dancing, swimming and other sports can break up the monotony of your workout and provide bigger benefits.
  • When you’re changing to a new routine, particularly if you’ve done your old one for very long, take it slow and easy at first. You’ll be working new muscles or working the same muscles in new ways.
  • Mixing it up broadens your physical abilities and can help protect you from injury.
  • Try to do something new every week, but not for the entire workout. Notice how your muscles feel and which ones you’re working.

Get Your Body Back After Baby

Get Your Body Back After Baby

Right after baby is born, your stomach looks flat as you lay in bed…until you stand up, then the little pouch drops like a ball and you wonder whether you can get your body back after baby. Don’t despair. Not only is it possible, but you can even return better than you looked before with a little extra effort. Many women wear a belly band, lightweight girdle or other type of tummy support for several weeks to hold things in place until their abdominal muscles can get back into shape and stronger. It also helps when you’re bending and lifting. Consult your health care professional, as with all recommendations.

Start slow and simple.

The easiest and most convenient exercise is walking. You may have enough pacing the floor with baby in arms to qualify for a marathon walker, but consider taking the baby for a walk outside if the weather is nice. It will be a good opportunity to get out of the house for both of you. If you have a baby sling, carry the baby, otherwise use the stroller. You may not get tired holding him or her in your arms, but if you do, there’s nowhere to put the baby down to rest, so error on the side of caution. Walking for a half hour a day can help get muscles working and burn calories. Start slowly at first walking about 20 minutes and build up time and speed as you go.

Aside from Kegel exercises and walking, you can start exercising in normally six to eight weeks.

If you’ve had vaginal birth wait six weeks or longer if your health care provider recommends it. For those who had cesarean, normally eight weeks is recommended. If you exercised throughout your pregnancy, you may find you’re ready with a normal delivery even earlier, but again, the decision is up to you and your doctor. Light weights and low impact exercises can help gain strength in your core. The fact is, you’re probably already lifting a light weight frequently, baby. When you go to the gym, add an extra pound or two to the baby’s weight and start there.

Use anti-rotation exercises that help build strength to prevent it from moving in a direction that’s not safe.

Dead bug, single arm wall push and Paloff presses are a few. They’ll build your core. Yoga classes, swimming and bicycling are also good exercises to get your body fit and help shed pounds. Don’t start with crunches or any exercise that puts too much pressure on the abdominal muscles. Give your body a chance to heal and get stronger before starting these.

  • Avoid exercises that have you bending over or leaning forward. Save these for later when your muscles are stronger and your body is completely healed.
  • Talk to your personal trainer for a specific program of exercises to guide you safely back into shape.
  • Eat a healthy diet to help shed pounds. Include lots of fiber, since your elimination system will be working slower after delivery.
  • Don’t expect to spend a full session at the gym your first few weeks back to exercise. Start slowly, 20 minutes or so and gradually work up to a full session. Be kind to yourself at first and take it easy when exercising. Your body has experienced a number of changes and needs to heal.

Your Authentic Self Is Enough

Your Authentic Self Is Enough

If you’ve tried before but find you sabotage your efforts to shed those extra pounds, you may have an emotional block that’s stopping you. Some people push down their anger by eating, others fill the empty void they feel with food. Once you learn that your authentic self is enough, you can spend far less time worrying about what others think of you and enjoy life to its fullest. At that point, the self-love will help those pounds come off with far less effort.

You deserve to feel good and good about yourself.

You may never have thought about it before, but you do deserve happiness, comfort and feeling good about yourself. Imagine that you’re your own nurturing mother. That may be hard for those who had critical parents or even absent ones, whether it was physically absent or emotional. For those people, think about the parent you wished you had and how they would have treated you. You may focus your attention on everyone else’s needs, but it’s time to focus on yours. If you simply go along with plans, but hate going to a specific restaurant every week. Speak up. Chances are that the other person may be simply going because they think you like it. You deserve to take time to treat your body well.

Your body is a unique beautiful instrument.

When you consider how amazing the human body is, you’ll treat yours with far more respect. You probably take care of your car or your kitchen appliances more than you do your own body, but it needs special care too. Eating healthy and exercise provides the fuel and care you need to stay healthy and live longer. Unlike your car or other mechanical appliance, you can’t trade your body in next year and get a new one. Also unlike those devices, your body heals and repair itself when you treat it right. It’s time you start doing that.

Failure is not an option, because there is no failure unless you quit trying.

When you start on a program of healthy eating and regular exercise, you’re going to have days where you grab a candy bar or revert to old habits no matter how much you try not to do it. It’s not a failure unless you give up entirely. You can start back on the right road immediately and just consider it a miscalculation. There may be some around you that fill your head with negative remarks that make you doubt your ability to achieve your goals. Ignore them and focus on people who truly care about you and will support and love you whether you gain weight, lose weight or remain the same. They may worry about your health, but it doesn’t shatter their love.

  • Be your own best friend and revel in your successes. Everyone needs an “atta’ girl” once in a while.
  • Learn that your opinion about how you choose to live your life is strictly your decision. Taking consideration for the others in your life may be part of your decision, but it shouldn’t be the only part.
  • Accepting yourself and self-love doesn’t conflict with weight loss and healthy living. As a matter of fact, it supports it. If you truly care of yourself, you want to be the healthiest and fittest you can be.
  • Shedding pounds to be stick thin or some other fashion magazine image isn’t part of the change, it’s about being the best you that you can be. It’s more like enjoying the work you do, but looking for a job that pays better or has better benefits. You don’t hate the job, you just want to live more comfortably.

The Holidays Are Around The Corner, Are You Ready?

The Holidays Are Around The Corner, Are You Ready?

It doesn’t matter whether you love or hate the holidays, they often impact your efforts to stick to a workout schedule and eat healthy. If you’re just starting your program, there’s so much to learn, especially when you face a holiday table loaded with all types of food. The Holidays are around the corner, are you ready with the knowledge it takes to make the healthiest choices?

Plan ahead for a healthy happy holiday.

Take time to learn about what to eat on the holidays. If you have family get-togethers where everyone brings a dish, often they create a group on Facebook or have another method that lets everyone know what they’re bringing so there are duplicates. Even if you don’t, you often know that Aunt Bessie will bring her favorite pea salad and your sister will bring a delicious pumpkin pie. Plan ahead what you’ll eat and the portion size. You can eat anything on the table, just smaller amounts of the less nutritious foods. If you’re cooking the dinner, plan a healthy one and ask for help to plan it from your coach if you need to do that.

Focus on your workout schedule.

Having time to do everything becomes difficult and sometimes impossible during the holidays, but carving out time for yourself is important. Whether you get up early to exercise or break it into manageable sections of 10 to 15 minutes at a time, having a plan before it gets to hectic is a top priority. Plan a walk with the family to see the holiday decorations in the neighborhood as part of your exercise program or focus on enjoying games with the children.

Vow to not show up to the family celebration starved.

Even though there will be loads of food available, make sure you’re not famished when you go. Have a big healthy family breakfast if your special holiday meal is a lunch and a healthy snack right before you leave the house. Even though the set time to eat is noon, you know no food will be served until one o’clock and by then the full feeling from breakfast will be gone.

  • If there’s always family conflict at these get-togethers, find ways to avoid them. Sometimes it’s just asking others to cool the disagreements at least for one day. Other times it involves going outside with the kids after the meal is over, saving you from nervous nibbling.
  • Focus more on socializing. If you’re talking, you aren’t eating or drinking.
  • Drink water before you eat. A glass of water can help fill you up and leave less room for food.
  • Remember to take small portions, particularly of high calorie foods. If you have a choice, make a smart choice, such as choosing a fresh fruit cup over a piece of Black Forest cake.

Fuel For Fitness

Fuel For Fitness

Fuel for fitness means not only eating the right foods to match your fitness goals, but also timing that consumption to maximize the benefits you’ll receive. No matter how much you workout, if you’re not eating healthy, you won’t get the results you hoped to achieve and will even find your workout isn’t as effective and will often lack the potency you hoped to reach. While it may sound counterproductive to eat before a workout, especially if you’re trying to lose weight, it does supply the energy to push your hardest, burn the most calories and get the best results.

Don’t forget to fuel up right about two hours before you start working out.

You don’t want to workout on a full stomach, but you also don’t want to feel drained. An hour to two hours gives your body enough time to pass the food through, but still provides you with energy. Choose a healthy carb, such as whole grain toast or brown rice, fruits or vegetables. You want foods that digest quickly, so avoid fatty or high protein foods.

ALWAYS hydrate…before, after and during your exercise.

Your water bottle should be your best friend when you workout. Sip the water throughout your exercise time, keeping yourself hydrated. That may be all you need to do while you’re exercising, unless your workout is long and vigorous, then taking along a small snack to eat might be important. After an hour, eating a handful of raisins, banana or other small snack can keep you going.

Finish your workout with a refueling.

Of course, you’ll want to have water after working out, but juice is also an option, since it can provide the body with quick energy. If you’re working out before mealtime, take a healthy snack along. Not only does the right type help your body recover, it also helps you steer clear of the candy counter at the gas station and will help you eat more moderately at your next meal.

  • Refuel with carbohydrates to feed your muscles after you workout. Carbs health to replenish the glycogen store used up during exercise.
  • Get some healthy protein. You need protein to help repair the muscles and as the building blocks for new muscle tissue.
  • Get some healthy fat. It will leave you feeling fuller, but won’t affect the nutrient absorption that people once thought it did. An avocado or some almond butter provide many nutrients, including healthy fat.
  • Eating healthy meals and snacks is just as important for fitness as working out. If you don’t have the right fuel, no matter how much you workout you won’t get the results you want.

Foam Roller Stretches For Muscle Pain

Foam Roller Stretches For Muscle Pain

Whether you’re warming up or cooling down, foam roller stretches for muscle pain can be a huge benefit for easing sore muscles with a good old fashioned self massage. You don’t have to wait until the next exercise session to get soothing relief from these simple tools. You can do the stretches anytime to bring quick relief to your muscles. Like a message, they improve blood flow to the area and that increased blood flow can speed the healing process. They can help break up scar tissue and release knots to bring almost instant relief. There’s no need to suffer through the pain when the solution is this simple.

You can roll the pain out of all the muscles in the leg.

No matter what muscle in the legs hurt, you can roller it out by insuring the weight of your body is on the roller at the point of pain. If the quadriceps ache, take a face down position with the roller at hip level. Work it down to the knees. Turn on your side for the IT band, connective tissue along the side of the hips.

Work on your glutes.

When the muscles are tight on your backside, it affects more than just that area. It can cause shooting pain throughout the lower back and even into the knee area. When you use a foam roller in this area, it can let you move freer by releasing the trigger points. Just sit on the foam roller and cross one leg over the other. The roller should be located at the top of the glutes, toward the lower back. You’ll be working one side with this exercise, then working the other. Lean a bit forward toward the side you’re working out and let the foam roller roll down the glutes. It’s just a few inches.

Upper back tightness can be painful and lead to headaches.

Lie on top of the foam roller with it perpendicular to the body, just under the shoulder blades. Put your knees flat on the floor with your knees bent and your hands behind your head. As you tighten your abs, you’ll slightly lift your hips and roll the foam roller slowly from the shoulder area to the middle back. Along the way, you’ll probably find the spot that hurts, roll over it a few times more.

  • If you’re new to the foam roller, you’ll probably try to roll it too fast. Don’t try to move it by more than an inch every second.
  • You’ll probably feel some discomfort, just as you would with a massage. It’s a good pain that means the tight muscle is getting loser and feel better when you’re done. The most painful areas are trigger points or knots in the muscles.
  • Use moderate pressure. If you use too little, you won’t get much benefit and too much can be counterproductive.
  • Remember a tight muscle in one area can create pain in another area. If you’re not getting relief, roller a different area until you find the location of the knot.

Surprisingly Healthy Snacks That Taste Good

Surprisingly Healthy Snacks That Taste Good

It’s always a challenge to find healthy snacks that taste good, but it shouldn’t be. There are a surprising number of them that will fill you up, not out, while giving your body the treat of nutrition…and best of all, they taste good. Snacks can be as simple as slicing an apple and putting on almond butter, which is similar to peanut butter, but wins the healthy race by a smidgen. If you’re feeling depressed, change that butter to cashew butter that is known for its properties that help with anxiety and depression. A medium size apple is 95 calories, a tablespoon of almond butter is 98 calories and a tablespoon of cashew butter is 94. It’s an easy, yet yummy snack under 200 calories.

You can make a healthy dip that tastes good from cottage cheese.

Just mix a half a cup of cottage cheese with chives and you’re ready to dip some vegetables. If you want something a bit more exciting, try mixing a ½ cup of cottage cheese with one chopped green onion, a tablespoon of fresh parsley, ½ tsp dried dill, a pinch of each pepper and garlic powder and a ¼ tsp of Worcestershire sauce. Put it in a blender and blend until smooth. It’s a great dip that will make you look forward to eating fresh vegetables.

Air popped popcorn with seasoning can be delicious.

You don’t need the movie style popcorn that’s drenched in butter if you season air popped right. When a sweet tooth strikes, toss on a tablespoon of mini-chocolate chips to three cups of popcorn. Add a dash of salt for a treat that’s under 150 calories. You can use other mini-chip flavors for variety. For a sweet treat that’s spicier and far less gooey, mix a couple of shakes of cinnamon with a bit of cayenne pepper and a tsp of cocoa powder. Drizzle the popcorn with a tsp of butter and shake on the mixture. Drizzle on coconut oil and then shake on jerk seasoning for a lively flavor. Add a tsp of unsalted butter then mix with a tsp of powdered ranch dressing. The choices are endless when it comes to popcorn and super low in calories.

Homemade creations can be a delight.

You can make a version of the ham, cream cheese and green onion roll that’s healthier and lower in calories. Use a Romaine leaf, a teaspoon of cream cheese and green onion. Put the cream cheese on the leaf, top it with the onion and roll it up. There are many other healthy lettuce wraps to add variety to your snacks. You can use lettuce wraps as an alternative to a quick sandwich for lunch. Watch your portions and keep the filling healthy.

– Hard boiled eggs have always been a favorite of mine. I love them freshly boiled and slightly warm, but you can make them ahead and keep them in the fridge. A dab of dressing can add flavor, but keep it to a dab.

  • A cube of Gouda cheese and a handful of grapes makes a great snack.
  • A half cup of cottage cheese and a half Mott’s applesauce cup is filling and just over 150 calories. Make sure you get the kind with no added sugar that’s 100% real fruit.
  • A 1 oz container of oven roasted almonds with sea salt has 170 calories. You could eat the whole bag or only half and have an apple or fruit with the nuts.

How To Cut Down On The Sugar And Still Satisfy Your Cravings

How To Cut Down On The Sugar And Still Satisfy Your Cravings

It’s not as easy to cut down on the sugar as you think. In fact, it’s almost as hard as quitting smoking and withdrawing from drugs. Please don’t think I’m making light of drug addiction, I’m not. James DiNicolantonio, from the Department of Preventive Cardiology, Saint Luke’s Mid American Heart Institute, Kansas City, MO and Sean Lucan, Department of Family and Social Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY, state that not only is sugar highly addictive, it’s in everything. They even note that salt may be getting a bum rap and sugar is the real culprit in high blood pressure.

Spend your time reading labels, better yet, eat whole foods.

Of course, you can kick the sugar habit cold turkey or just switch off processed foods and the sugar they contain, switching instead to natural forms of sugar in fruit. There are several road blocks to avoid in your quest to overcome sugar. Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep can make those sugar cravings worse and lower your serotonin level that leads to sugar hunger. Drinking adequate water can eliminate dehydration that’s often mistaken for sugar cravings. Eat more frequently. Rather than three meals a day, make it six. It helps stabilize blood sugar.

Go for naturally sweet fruit.

Lychees are one of the sweetest fruits around and packed with vitamins, particularly vitamin C. It will quench your hunger for sweets quickly. Mangos are super sweet and definitely will satisfy your sugar hunger. I recently ate a mango chutney made with tomatoes, cilantro, mango, fresh pineapple and a bit of vinegar. It was sweet and fabulous. It also was a great dessert that was healthy, while cutting down on my desire for sugar. Figs have as much sugar as a candy bar, but they also contain other nutrients. Fresh figs with cashew cream will satisfy that urge for a sweet treat.

Other sweet fruit treats to consider.

For one of the best treats that stops my sugar cravings in its tracks, I turn to sweet grapes and Havarti cheese. It only takes a handful of grapes and one slice of cheese to make me feel like I’ve had a delicious rich dessert. Another simple to make but satisfying treat is segmented and peels grapefruit, oranges and a few seeded black cherries. You’ll get the sugar with extra benefits.

  • At first, when you’re giving up sugar, you may want to eat fruit more often. While too much high sugar fruit isn’t good for dieting, if it helps you break the processed sugar habit, it’s worth it.
  • Try substituting Stevia for sugar. It’s 300 times sweeter than sugar but with zero calories.
  • Be aware of hidden sugar in some nut butters. A whole food store that grinds the butter for you from the nuts is the best option. For sweetness, nothing can beat cashews. Put some on an apple and you’re ready for a treat that will satisfy your urge for sugar.
  • Eat more fermented foods and drink while kicking the sugar habit. Coconut kefir, cultured vegetables, homemade sauerkraut and natto or other fermented foods can help you kick the sugar habit quickly.

Love Your Body, Don't Hate It

Love Your Body, Don’t Hate It

No matter what shape you’re in, love your body, don’t hate it. Hating your body is counterproductive to getting fit. While you don’t have to love the shape it’s in, you don’t need to hate yourself either. Think about it. When someone talks about a house that’s been allowed to become run down, you’ll hear them say, all it needs is a little love. So what makes that inanimate object deserves love more than your own being? Nothing. All you need is a little love.

You can control what your body looks like.

While there are some things you can’t control, such as how tall you are (although, exercise does improve your posture, which can actually make you taller.), you dictate how fit you are and that’s huge. That’s why there’s no place in fitness for hating your body. It interferes with the task of creating a program to achieve the way you want it to look. You have to be realistic. Remember, a lot of those pictures of stars are photoshopped to create teeny waists and Barbie doll hips and legs. Healthy is a good look to strive for when it comes to fitness goals.

Loving your body means you’ll treat it to better food.

If you’re feeding your body food that doesn’t contain all the nutrients you need, you’re not giving yourself the love you should have. Pretend your body is a small child and you’re responsible for keeping that child healthy with a good diet. Would you feed it cookies, Ben & Jerry’s, chips and French fries? No! You’d go out of your way to create menus that were nutritious and also yummy. You need to take care of your body and pamper it with a healthy diet like you would an innocent child.

Bodies have to do what they’re meant to do, move.

You weren’t created to sit in a chair all day. In fact, if you lived that way in prehistoric times, you wouldn’t last a week. The body has built in mechanisms that work best when you get a vigorous workout regularly. It burns off stress hormones and improves circulation, while also providing hormones that make your feel good. When you love your body, you’ll keep it moving and adore the feeling of controlling each muscle.

  • Dehydration takes its toll. About 50 to 65 percent of the body is water and about 73 percent of your brain is water. Take loving care to replenish it throughout the day.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Loving your body means not beating it up with overwork and no rest. Make sure you get adequate sleep at night.
  • Appreciate what you have. Sure, you may be overweight, but you can walk. As I watched older members of my family lose their ability to walk and slow down dramatically with years, I learned to appreciate and use the gifts I have, which is a healthy active body.
  • Set a goal and reward yourself when you reach that goal. Make that reward something you really want. It might be a special outfit or a night out on the town.

Say Goodbye To Your Muffin Top

Say Goodbye To Your Muffin Top

If you don’t love your love handles and would prefer to travel lighter—without a spare tire, say goodbye to your muffin top forever and get ready to have the body you want. Whether you call it a Buddha belly, muffin tops or other colloquialism, it’s still just the accumulation of fat around your middle. It’s one of the worst places to carry fat and caused by hormones, which includes cortisol, a hormone created by stress. Even if you do spot exercises, you may not see the difference if excess pounds are hiding the improved muscle tone. Luckily, there’s a way to get rid of these and improve the rest of your body at the same time.

You need to start with a healthy diet.

There are all types of philosophies of when to eat, how many meals to eat and the number of calories you should eat to be healthy, but it all boils down to eating healthy in the first place and letting that take care of the problem. Eating healthy means pitching those Twinkies and processed foods out the window and instead making your meal more whole foods that are both lower in calorie and high in nutrition. There are some foods that tend to be better in helping to reduce these, such as high fiber foods, black rice and tea, just to name three, but they’re not magic and won’t work if the rest of your diet is junk. Learn to make smarter choices when it comes to food and you’re on your way to eliminating that belly fat.

Get an overall workout, not just spot exercises.

Of course you want to tone your abdominal muscles, but to get rid of muffin tops, you need to workout the whole body. Doing cardio isn’t enough. Cardio doesn’t take off fat rapidly, strength training does. Weight lifting will help you shed those pounds, while also strengthening your core muscles. What it won’t do is build bulky muscles in women. Because of hormonal differences, women would have to do special exercises and spend most of their time at the gym to get those results. Instead, you’ll build lean muscles and start to see those love handles disappear.

Burn off stress hormones.

Stress contributes to belly fat by sending a message to the brain to increase cortisol. Cortisol is used to raise blood sugar levels to get the muscles ready for fighting or running. It raises blood pressure and provides a burst of glucose into the system. While that’s good if there’s a tiger chasing you, it’s not so helpful if it comes from a traffic jam or a discussion with the boss. It accumulates and creates fat cells on the belly, which by the way, contain four times more cortisol than other cells. It also leads to insulin resistance and diabetes. The good news!!!! Exercise burns off the hormones from stress..

  • One scientific study showed that a diet that’s high in both sugar and fat increases abdominal fat.
  • Don’t give up all fats. Yes, I know I just said that a high fat diet contributed to muffin tops, but healthy fat, Omega3 fatty acids found in salmon and avocado, actually helps regulate hormones and eliminates belly fat.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Too little sleep contributes to the accumulation of belly fat.
  • Drink plenty of water. Water not only keeps you hydrated and feeling good, it helps cleanse the system and even helps eliminate water retention and bloating.