Fitness & Wellness

Tone Those Abs

Tone Those Abs

People often focus on a flat stomach and tone those abs, without getting the results they want. It may be because they’re carrying extra weight and the belly fat is hiding that six-pack underneath it. You can’t spot reduce, but you can strengthen and tone your muscles while you’re shedding the extra pounds. Be aware, belly fat is different and more difficult to shed. It may require extra effort.

Try an exercise you can do anywhere, no matter how you’re dressed.

When you workout at the gym, you’ll probably be doing exercises that not only tone your muscles but burn calories, helping you to shed the layer of fat. However, you can supplement your toning with a simple exercise that just requires you to pull in your abdomen, tighten and hold. To do it, breathe in while you pull your stomach in as tight as possible. Hold tight, you’ll really start to feel it. Slowly, exhale through your teeth (making a Ssss sound). Keep holding in your abs and to get rid of the last ounce of breath, push you rib cage down as you lift your pelvis upward forming a slight V.

Work on core training.

Whether you use a balance ball, body weight exercises or kettlebells, core training is imperative if you want to tone your abdominal muscles. Not only do kettlebells burn huge amounts of calories, they also provide a total body workout and focus on the core muscles, which include the abs you’re trying to tone. Best of all, kettlebells make core training fun, so you’ll work hard, but enjoy every minute of the workout.

Eat healthier and shed fat faster.

As noted earlier, it doesn’t matter how toned your abs are, even if you have a super six-pack, if you have a layer of fat covering them, nobody can see their great conditioning. The key to successful weight loss isn’t dieting, because diets don’t work. Instead, it’s learning to eat healthier and make smarter choices when it comes to food. Some foods, spices and herbs even stimulate the body to burn extra calories.

  • Get strength training to burn calories faster. You’ll get stronger while getting leaner at the same time. It builds your muscles all over your body and burns overall fat.
  • Keep breathing while you’re doing ab exercises. Too often I find clients holding their breath. That’s counterproductive to creating the look you want. If you’re doing crunches, inhale on the easy part, going down and exhale on the hard part, coming back up.
  • Include all ab muscles and all types of movements. While crunches help, many times, you’re only working on one type of movement. Vary your routine and make sure you do exercises that move your body in all ways.
  • Move slowly through the repetitions and focus on each movement. Most ab exercises are harder the slower you go.

Fitness Getaways

Fitness Getaways

You can combine vacation time with exercise when you opt for fitness getaways. Even if you have children, you’ll find there are ways to merge the two. Packing a healthy lunch and dinner and spending a few days at Disneyland or other large theme park can pack in the walking and maybe even add to strength training when the youngsters are simply too tired to walk. There are other getaways that are great ways to workout while vacationing at the same time. Some are more child friendly than others are.

Spend a week at a resort devoted to fitness.

There are a number of different resorts and cruises where you’ll find fitness as the theme. Some are places to detox and focus on the “inner” you, while others focus strictly on a healthier lifestyle. Canyon Ranch offers several versions, with the 7 Days to Change program focusing on lifestyle changes. Biggest Loser resorts are aimed at a weight loss and fitness, too. These can run about $2,000 a week. There are options that run far more and some, such as a fitness cruise that can run about half that amount.

Become an explorer and shave off pounds at the same time.

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic and exhale created a joint venture that lets you explore the islands Espiritu Sant and Isla Partida in the Sea of Cortez. Not only does it offer active outdoor things to doo, such as hiking the island and snorkeling, it also offers access to the Core Fusion Barre Bootcamp, Power Yoga classes, HIIT, SUP yoga and assisted stretching classes from exhale.

Create your fitcation closer to home.

If your budget is tight, it’s not a problem. You can plan your own fitcation time at home. One day could be fun, including hiking at a local park. Another day might include working hard and getting those jobs done around the house. There are so many active things to do in the Sacramento area that don’t cost a lot of money. You can even create your own spa and healthy menu. Plan a menu for the week and make it ahead so all you have to do is pamper yourself.

  • The Red Mountain Resort in St. George, Utah offers fitness seminars, massages and personal training sessions. They even have wellness packages that focus specifically on topics like weight loss.
  • There are a number of yoga retreats in beautiful areas where you’ll not only get to investigate the local attractions, you’ll get the benefit of healthy eating and yoga classes, body work and massages.
  • Do what you love, but make it work for you. If you love dancing, find a getaway that offers nightly bands and dancing. Make sure it offers restaurants that focus on healthy foods. You’ll often find you can combine many different interests at some resorts, such as hiking, sightseeing and swimming.
  • There are a number of fitness vacations you can take if you’re a marathon runner. Most of these locations have hotels that focus on fitness, particularly the week of the run and offer healthy menus for the participants.

Bad Fitness Advice

Bad Fitness Advice

Everyone has been at a party or gathering where fitness and weight loss is the topic. You’ll often find there’s more bad fitness advice coming from the group than valid, good advice. Some of the advice sounds right because it’s been around for years. Of course, longevity doesn’t make it right. After all, bleeding people to let out disease was around for years, but it often did more harm to the patient and exacerbated the condition. You may recognize a few of the ideas that you felt were truths.

No pain, no gain is a myth and can cause people to quit working out.

To maximize results, you need to work hard, but hard work doesn’t mean that pain has to enter the picture. There’s a big difference between pain and discomfort. If your muscles are sore, that’s one thing, but if you wince in pain, quite another. Pain may indicate you have an injury, especially if it’s localized and lasts longer than a day. It’s one reason working with a trainer is important. The trainer ensures you use the proper form to avoid injury and exercises that work you safely toward your potential.

Lifting weights will make women have bulky muscles.

The truth is that weight lifting actually does give you a sinewy look that comes from lean muscle mass. To get that bulky look, a woman would have to take supplements and get a lot more aggressive in the gym than the average or even tough workout would entail. Hormone levels help dictate the type of muscle development. Even with men, it takes a tough workout to build the muscle tissue you see in body builders.

Special super low calorie diets are guaranteed ways to lose weight.

Whether it’s sipping on grapefruit juice with a side of boiled eggs at every meal for a week or eating a cabbage soup concoction, these diets are not only unhealthy, they’re counterproductive to weight loss in the long run. Learning to eat healthier and watching portion control is the only way to lose weight and keep it off permanently. The other diets result in yo-yo weight loss that’s not good for the body. At the end of the super low calorie diet, you go back to old eating habits that put on the weight in the first place. Those pounds reappear and if the fad diet caused your body to go into starvation mode, burning fewer calories, those pounds bring friends with them.

  • If three to five days a week of hard work is good, exercising every day is better, right? Wrong. Your body needs rest for muscles to heal and adjust to the new work level.
  • Carbo loading is good for everyone. That’s just not true. If you’re running a marathon or other long endurance event, carbo loading helps. For anyone exercising less than two hours, it just adds calories.
  • You can get all the benefits you need for weight loss from eating fat burning foods. NOT! While some foods do help you burn fat more than others, ultimately, you still need to eat 3500 fewer calories than you burn to burn off a pound. That means a healthy lower calorie diet and regular exercise.
  • Exercise alone will help you shed pounds. If your weight is relatively stable, increasing your caloric output with exercise helps. The best way to achieve weight loss is through a healthy diet AND exercise.

Nutrition For Weight Loss

Nutrition For Weight Loss

Shedding pounds is tough, but simple. You eat fewer calories than you burn and when the deficit adds up to 3500 calories, you lose a pound. However, you also need adequate nutrition for weight loss and to keep you at your healthiest. That’s one reason many of the fad diets fail. They’re only meant for a short period, since they don’t contain all the nutrients necessary to keep your body at optimal health. They can slow the metabolism and leave you feeling tired. Eating healthy requires you intake all the nutrients to keep you functioning at your best. Some of the nutrients can boost your metabolism or make weight loss easier in other ways.

Are you getting enough magnesium?

Magnesium is part of a number of different functions that keep your body healthy. It helps synthesize protein by improving muscle contraction. That can aid in burning more fat. A study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that insulin levels and fasting glucose levels were lower when magnesium intake was higher. These two factors associate with the amount of fat stored and ultimately weight gain. Magnesium also boosts the process that uses stored fat. Dark leafy veggies like spinach or chard contain magnesium. So do cashews and almonds.

Eat a banana and get healthier.

If you want to help your muscles recover after a workout or have a natural diuretic that flushes out the fluid and sodium, eat a banana or other high potassium foods. Doctors often recommend bananas or foods like avocados, leafy greens, avocados, since it help maintain the functioning of the heart and kidneys. It’s estimated that only about 4.7 percent of the American public get enough potassium. You’ll lose the bloat and be kind to your body.

Make certain you include this nutritional fat fighter.

Arginine has been part of your diet if you eat grass fed beef, almonds, free range eggs, peanuts or walnuts and you probably didn’t realize that it was super effective for weight loss. One study written in the Journal of Dietary Supplements revealed that obese women who received arginine over a 12-week period had an average weight loss of 6.5 pounds and lost three inches. L-argenine works even better to help burn fat when it’s taken right before a workout.

  • Eat an egg and you’ll get a boost of choline, the B vitamin that turns off fat storing genes and makes you feel less hungry.
  • Raw oats, chilled potatoes, slightly green bananas and peas contain resistant starch. It feeds the bacteria in your digestive system and leaves you feeling fuller, while burning more fat in the process.
  • People often steer clear of fat when they diet, but healthy fat is important to weight loss. Omega-3 fatty acids from wild salmon, grass fed beef and chia or flaxseed oil can help with weight loss, while also fight inflammation and help your heart.
  • It’s been estimated that over half of America is low in the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D. Not only does it help with appetite control, it’s also good for a number of functions, like aiding in prevention of osteoporosis and lowering cancer risk. It can increase fat loss significantly. You get it in fish, eggs and of course, exposure to sunshine.

Nutrition For The Traveler

Nutrition For The Traveler

If you’re about to go on a trip that involves a change in time zone, you’ll probably plan for jet lag, but there are other problems when going on a trip, whether it’s by car or by plane or train. It’s eating healthy. You need to be prepared to eat healthy, which isn’t always possible. In fact, sometimes nutrition for the traveler, whether on the road or in the air, needs careful planning. It’s easier when on a long road trip, but with a little extra planning those plane trips can be just as healthy.

Problems getting adequate nutrition can occur when eating at fast food restaurants.

If you’re on a road trip, you probably are following well traveled roads with a multitude of restaurants. However, just because there are places to eat, it doesn’t mean you’ll be eating healthy. When mapping out your trip, check the places to eat near your fuel stops before you go. Rather than settling for belly bombers at one stop, you might find an earlier or slightly later stop offers a healthier option or a whole food grocery that offers fare you don’t have to cook. Flying into an area requires just as much planning. If you’re going to a foreign country, do you eat at the airport if the local cuisine is iffy or search on the net for local food that’s more acceptable. Do your research.

Pack healthy snacks on road trips.

No matter where I go, I always check to see if there’s a refrigerator in the room. Most hotels now have them. I love snacking at night and my favorite food is often raw veggies and my favorite low cal dip. While you may see it on a room service menu, you won’t see that option often…and the cost is outrageous. I always bring a small cooler of veggies or buy fresh ones at a local market when I arrive. Examples of great snacks to take along besides raw veggies and dip—such as hummus—are hard-boiled eggs, berries and almonds. Eat frequently and avoid skipping meals to keep your metabolism functioning at top speed.

Some foods leave you feeling better than others.

No matter how you’re traveling, keep sugar and difficult to digest foods at a minimum. Not only are the nutrients at a minimum, you’ll notice they affect your mood and often leave you feeling gassy and out of sorts. Carbonated sugary drinks, deep fried foods, foods that are prepackaged or are partially hydrogenated and those with artificial sweeteners or alcoholic drinks should be avoided.

  • Keep plenty of bottled water on hand. Dehydration not only leaves you feeling dragged out, but also makes you feel hungry. Since alcohol dehydrates you, it’s another reason to avoid it— and is especially dangerous and illegal if you’re driving.
  • Eat plenty of protein when traveling. It will keep you feeling fuller longer and won’t boost your sugar levels only to drop them later.
  • When traveling by air, apples, nuts or even a boiled egg fit nicely into your pocket and can be a good option for a mini meal snack in the air. Put the snack in a plastic bag so you have easy disposal of the core or eggshells.
  • Traveling by car gives you the option of packing up leftovers from the previous night’s dinner, putting them in the cooler and eating it on the road in place of snack foods or a meal. A small container of salad can be quite refreshing on a long trip.

Diet For Constipation

Diet For Constipation

At one time or another, almost everyone has felt the bloat that comes from constipation. While constipation isn’t exactly a topic that’s often discussed, it is a fact of life. You can avoid the problem by using a diet for constipation that will keep your bathroom visits shorter and with less strain. There are other things you can do to help prevent the problem that work quite well.

What causes constipation?

Constipation occurs when there’s not enough liquid in the colon or the food passes through too slowly and more liquid than normal is removed. That causes your stool to be hard and dry, making it really hard to pass. Exercise is one of the ways to improve that. It helps push the food through your intestine faster so there’s less fluid being absorbed. It also accelerates the contraction of the intestinal muscles to push the stool through faster by increasing your breathing and heart rate. The exercise can be as simple as walking or riding a bike to help push the food through.

Fiber is one key to unblocking the fecal dam.

You’ve probably heard of the high fiber poo aids, but did you know that you can incorporate natural ones in your diet? You don’t have to go to the drug store to get help, just change your eating habits a bit. High fiber foods such as fresh fruit like apples and brown rice are just a few of the high fiber foods. Of course, there’s the traditional prune that will get things going quickly. Air popped popcorn or popcorn without all the extra butter is another way to snack and get more fiber in your diet. Fiber isn’t easily digested and that’s the reason it gets you going.

Oatmeal can be magical.

Not only does oatmeal contain insoluble fiber, it also contains soluble fiber. Soluble fiber combines with water to create a gel-like substance that softens the stool and makes it easier to go. Combine that with the bulk producing mover insoluble fiber and you’re sure to get relief. Whole grains like oats and brown rice are excellent additions to your diet if you have problems with constipation.

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day to avoid constipation. One common reason for constipation is dehydration. Remember, hard poo comes because it’s too dry, making it hard to pass.
  • Grab a cup of coffee in the morning. Coffee contains caffeine that stimulates the muscles to contract in the intestine, getting you going effortlessly.
  • Eat spinach. Spinach provides your body with magnesium that can get you going. Magnesium is often found in laxatives, but when in food, provides a milder more natural method. Spinach also has fiber.
  • Follow the old rule of an apple a day to keep the doctor—and constipation—away. Leave the skins on the apple for good results.

What's In Your Bag

What’s In Your Bag

Working out at the gym takes more than just showing up. It takes a little pre-planning to be successful—luckily not a lot! You have to schedule your workout into your daily plan and create an ongoing appointment with yourself. What’s in your bag plays a huge role in whether you have a comfortable day at the gym or barely make it through the workout. Your gym bag should contain all the things you need to successful change you to a workout Superman or woman and back to a mild mannered reporter when it’s done.

Have the right workout clothes.

Whether you like your clothing to fit loosely and opt for lightweight sweats or appreciate how cool a tank top and workout shorts can be, you should have two sets of workout clothes. One that you wear and the other to replace it immediately when you wash the first set. Always have an extra pair of socks and while some people don’t, I like to have an extra set of undergarments hidden away, just in case I forget to bring extras to change into after the workout. Don’t forget your workout shoes—working out in socks, dress shoes or high heels simply won’t do. Designate those strictly for the gym. For ladies or men with longer hair, a hair bungee, head band or other method of keeping your hair in place is also important.

Stay hydrated and nourished.

Don’t forget a reusable water bottle. While you can get special bottles to refill at the gym, I know some clients who bring an inexpensive plastic bottle of water and just refill it on the go. Some even go so far as to wash and sterilize it, then refill it and freeze it. They bag it and put it in their gym bag and as it stays cool the whole day and is fully melted when they come to the gym. Have an appropriate snack ready, such as an apple or other healthy option. It’s particularly important if you’re working out hard or are prone to low blood sugar.

Is there a shower at the gym and do you have time to take one?

If you don’t have a shower, take along baby wipes, hand sanitizer or a wash cloth and a towel. You’ll also need a plastic bag to put them in once you’ve used them. ALWAYS remember to take them out of your gym bag at the end of the day and replace them with clean ones. Don’t forget the necessities, like deodorant. Nothing leaves you feeling less confident than spending the rest of the day without it. Have spare makeup or shower bag with a razor and other grooming necessities that you keep in a plastic bag in the gym bag. Don’t forget a hairbrush or comb and a travel toothbrush and toothpaste.

  • If you like listening to music while you workout, keep an extra set of earbuds in your bag.
  • Ladies might consider having a sports bra packed with a spare at home that they use exclusively at the gym.
  • Keep a sachet or odor ball in your bag. It will help take stop the odor of smelly socks that often emanates from a gym bag.
  • If you’re lifting, don’t forget your gloves and belt.

 Nutrition For Weight Loss

 Nutrition For Weight Loss

No matter how many hours you spend at the gym or how hard you workout, you still need good nutrition for weight loss to occur. Feeding your body right is a top priority when it comes to shedding pounds. Not only do you need to eliminate junk food and foods that have a high calorie count but no nutritional value, you also need to ensure you have all the nutrients necessary for your metabolism to do its magic and help you burn calories. It takes more than just lowering calories to ensure you lose weight, it takes nutrition to drive the fires to burn those calories.

Potassium and magnesium boost your weight loss efforts.

Grab a handful of cashews or almonds to get magnesium. It is so important for loads of processes in the body, including contracting muscles. That action improves the the synthesis of protein and helps burn fat in the process. Magnesium also makes it harder to store fat and gain weight by lowering fasting glucose levels. A banana, nuts or green leafy vegetables can boost your potassium levels. It helps reduce bloating that can occur when water accumulates from too much salt.

You’ll feel fuller with choline and resistant starch in your diet.

Eggs contain choline and rolled oats and cold cooked potatoes have resistant starch. Both leave you feeling fuller longer, but for two different reasons. The B vitamin, choline, helps the body shed pounds by shutting off the gene that causes the body to store fat. One study showed that people who ate eggs for breakfast lost weight faster than those who ate toast or other carb for breakfast. You can toss some rolled oats in your smoothie to boost your weight loss resolve. If you replace just a small percentage of the carbs you eat each day with a resistant starch, you’ll lose weight far faster without feeling deprived in the process.

Get the protein leucine and Omega-3 fatty acid to boost your weight loss efforts.

Lean meat like chicken is a great way to boost the protein leucine that helps build muscles, while you’re losing weight. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does so you’ll boost your metabolism, while also staying healthy. Omega-3 fatty acid is found in flax seeds, grass fed cows and salmon. It’s provides a number of health benefits, besides reducing inflammation and reducing abdominal fat storage. You’ll get rid of your belly fat with Omega-3 fatty acid.

  • Vitamin D can help you shed belly fat and also speed the fat loss process. While your body converts it from sunshine, you can also find it in shitake mushrooms, fortified milk and eggs.
  • Grab an avocado for monosaturated fat. This type of fat leaves you feeling fuller and can help eliminate the fat on your abdomen.
  • It’s good for your bones and teeth, but also for your waistline. It’s calcium and is found in dairy products and other foods, like black-eyed peas and sardines.
  • EGCG found in green tea can help you shed pounds, plus green tea has other weight loss benefits. Switch out a cup of coffee for a cup of tea and you’ll get better weight loss results.

How Do You Relax After A Long Day

How Do You Relax After A Long Day

How do you relax after a long day? Do you go to the local watering hole and throw back a few brewskis or sit and watch television for an hour or so to decompress? You might be surprised that these aren’t the best way to unwind after a long and arduous day. Not only will alcohol add more stress to your body while it’s metabolizing, it adds extra calories. To really relax, you often need to drink more than just one or two glasses and that’s definitely not good for your health. Sitting down and watching television might help if you get completely involved in the show, but most of us are prone to half watching and stewing about everything that went wrong in the day…Again, not healthy.

Workout at the gym.

The harder the day, the harder you should workout. It burns off the hormones created by stress and replaces them with ones that make you feel good. Tossing around the kettlebells can be tough, but also fun and invigorating. The total body workout will take away the stress and leave you feeling refreshed. You’ll enjoy it while you’re doing it and get a feeling of freedom as you swing them. Suspension training can also be fun, but also very tough! It will have your body back to a normal relaxed state in no time.

Try meditation.

You can combine meditation with yoga or deep breathing exercises. Once you learn the technique, you can use it anywhere to help reduce stress and relax. In fact, using this technique for a few minutes throughout the day can help prevent the overload of stress you feel at the end of the day. If you want to try it first, go to a quiet area and breathe deeply, focusing on your breath while intentionally relaxing every muscle in your body. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels.

Go for a walk.

Alternate your pace between rapid and leisurely to get the most out of your walk. Enjoy the scenery as you start to feel the pent up emotions slowly drain from your body. Make sure you walk in a location that isn’t crowded, but not too isolated either—for safety’s sake. Crowded conditions can often bring on more anxiety and stress than the walk releases. Remember how bad it was shopping during the holidays or on Black Friday?

  • If you need a quick way to get rid of stress and it’s not time to go home, excuse yourself for a minute and take to the stairs. Running up and down the stairs a few times will relieve the stress and help you make it through the rest of the day. Jogging in place will also help if you’re in a one story building.
  • Take a warm bath or shower. Adding a lavender scent to the water is known to bring quick relief.
  • Give yourself a break. Schedule in an hour or two a week just for you. Even if you give yourself a ten minute break to do nothing, it can go a long way to relieving stress.
  • Sit in a dark quiet room by yourself for a few minutes. The room doesn’t have to be pitch black, just not bright. It’s a way to decompress and help bring you back to normal.

Indoor Activities For Winter Workouts

Indoor Activities For Winter Workouts

If the sky has been gray for weeks with loads of drizzling rain, you’ll find that you start to crave indoor activities for Winter workouts that won’t force you out the door to face the chill. That five mile run can be put on hold while you pamper yourself with the warmth and get a good workout in the process. The easiest way to get your workout without facing the weather is to stop at the gym on the way home from work. A group workout or boot camp in the gym can be a great alternative when it’s too hot or cold outside.

Break the monotony with an indoor sport.

Whether you want to rock climb, do power lifting or shoot some hoops, not only will doing it in a gym save you from the chill of the outdoors, it also can help add a pleasant break from traditional workouts. Get a group together and spend your night out with the gals or guys getting a great workout while having fun. Martial arts, kickboxing and regular boxing can also be invigorating.

Create an indoor workout.

If you aren’t a gym member or just want to stay inside completely, create your own workout at home. If you have a yoga mat and some simple homemade equipment or exercise bands, that’s even better. Homemade equipment can include clean milk jugs filled with water as weights. Make sure your routine includes a warm up and cool down. You can work on strength one day, flexibility and endurance another or ask your personal trainer for some ideas for a workout you can do in a pinch at home.

Take up walking, indoors.

Mall walking was embraced by seniors because it was free and the walk outdoor came with cold blistery weather. You don’t have to be a senior to appreciate the benefits of walking in the mall. If you’re a compulsive shopper, leave your credit card at home, but otherwise, you might even find a few items you need or just want. Carry the weight of the bag around the mall can build strength, too.

  • Get active with the kids. Whether you dance with them, do jumping jacks and other exercises or just have another active game, you’ll have quality time with the kids and get a workout, too.
  • Embrace the cold. Go to the mountains to ski or try some ice skating. You may find the cold isn’t that bad at all.
  • Try yoga. It’s not as easy as you think and one session will prove that to you.
  • Take a self-defense course. Not only will you get fitter while staying warm, you’ll feel safer after you learned how to protect yourself.