16 Perfect Tips To Abs Of Envy

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It may not be a secret that the best way to a six-pack is regular exercise and a healthy diet (even if it’s no diet at all), but there’s a right way and wrong way to a flat stomach. Read on for the ultimate tips to getting toned and enviable abs.

1. Know the balance

Getting flat abs isn’t about starving yourself or living at the gym. Reducing belly fat involves a mix of smart eating and effective exercise. Make sure you eat enough food to keep your body from experiencing hormone imbalances; eating too little (fewer than 1200 calories a day) reduces the amount of the fat-burning hormone leptin in your body, which will slow down weight loss. And if you’re just exercising without changing your diet, you’ll spend a lot of time at the gym with little result.

2. Stand up straighter

Doing regular posture-building exercises pack a double punch when it comes to busting that belly. Having good posture helps you look slimmer instantly, while sticking to a posture-building routine every day will strengthen your ab muscles, and help get you well on your way to a six-pack.

3. Fight the Flab

Abs exercises will help define those muscles, but don’t forget cardio for overall weight loss; otherwise all those sit-ups will go to waste. If you want results fast, try high intensity interval training, which has been proven to be one of the best ways to fight belly fat.

4. De-Stress

Having too much stress can lead to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body, which can increase the amount of fat you store around your belly.

5. Start your mornings with oatmeal

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The secret to getting flat abs includes a diet that helps shrink that midsection. The best things to eat include foods high in fiber and other foods that help you beat the bloat. Swap your normal breakfast for a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries, for example; the fiber in the oatmeal will aid in digestion, and the antioxidants in blueberries may help you shed ab fat.

6. Detox and cleanse

It’s not in the foods you eat—what you drink can help de-bloat and flatten your tummy as well, so bottoms up! Drinking a glass of water every morning, for example, will help you alkalize your body—which helps you burn fat and detox your system.

7. Don’t touch certain foods

There are those foods that help slim your middle, and those that make you feel like a bloated balloon. As you continue your ab-flattening workout plan, be sure to avoid foods that cause bloating, like broccoli and cabbage, when things start getting serious.

8. Full-body exercises is the solution

If you’re looking for killer abs, don’t waste your time focusing solely on crunches, since they tone just one muscle group and exacerbate bad posture, especially if you sit with a rounded spine at a desk all day. Instead focus on full-body exercises, like squat to overhead press. Not only do these types of exercises save time by working multiple body parts while engaging your core, they also do so without the posture-wrecking position of a rounded spine.

9. You have layers in your belly – work them all

If you’ve only go one type of ab workout in your routine, your midsection is missing out. Working your core involves exercising all your abdominal layers, not just the top part that you can see. The inner muscles help pull in your belly for a slimming look, so be sure to work all of your ab muscles.

10. Don’t forget the muffin top and saddlebags

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Getting rid of a muffin top involves many of the same strategies you’re employing when it comes to washboard abs, but if you’ve got a little extra padding all around your waistline, there are a few more tricks you should have up your sleeve. Read labels carefully, for example; lurking trans fats in your favorite foods can increase the amount of fat you hold around your waist. And while you’re focusing on your abs while you work out, don’t forget back exercises like the Superman or the side bridge if you’ve got a muffin top to lose.

11. Eat clean and whole

Salt, sugar, and fatty foods can all lead to bloat, while fresh fruits and veggies and whole grains do just the opposite. Pay attention to labels as you shop and train your taste buds to prefer fresh produce.

12. Practice portion control

Even if you’ve been working on your abs, no one will see your strong, defined midsection if you’ve got a few extra pounds covering it. Keeping portions under control can help you lose weight.

13. Don’t be afraid to add weights

Think weights won’t help you get a six-pack? Think again. Grabbing hand weights for your ab work will increase the difficulty and challenge your ab muscles further.

14. Work out your back

A strong back will make you look taller and slimmer, and especially helps such in that pooch area.

15. Eat lean protein

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Lean protein burns fat and helps keep you full so you don’t overeat. Whether you opt for fish, turkey, or tofu, make sure your diet includes enough lean protein to keep you satisfied and your belly flat.

16. Plank it up

Planks are an amazing ab-definining move to incorporate into any workout. The plank focuses on your entire core, helping you work the muscles that tighten your midsection while also strengthening your arms and legs.

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9 Breakfasts for a Flat Belly

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Shrink your waist without sacrificing taste with these fat-busting breakfasts to trim your tum.

1. Mushroom and Feta Frittata

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Make a frittata with 2 egg whites, 1 whole egg, 15g fresh spinach, 55g chopped mushrooms and 30g feta cheese. Top with 1 tsp fresh coriander and serve with 1 slice oat-bran bread and 60ml pomegranate juice.

Researchers at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh found that powerful polyphenols in pomegranate juice can suppress your appetite and even make other foods taste better. It’s not called a superfruit for nothing.

350 calories

2. Scrambled Eggsadilla

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Scramble 1 whole egg and 1 egg white with 2 tbsp chopped green pepper and 2 tbsp chopped red onion. Put egg mixture in a warm 18in whole-wheat tortilla and top with 30g grated cheddar cheese and 2 tbsp chunky salsa.

Good news! Peppers prevent new fat cells forming, thanks to a compound called piperine, which interferes with the body’s fat-building genes. Now that should pep you up.

330 calories

3. Porridge with Pecans and Berries

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Combine 1 packet Original Quaker Instant Oat So Simple with 180ml skimmed milk, 30g chopped pecans, 100g raspberries and 100g blueberries.

The soluble fibre in the porridge will keep you full well past the time you usually start thinking about lunch. And raspberries are a top source of belly-filling fibre – just 100g bags you a quarter of your RDA.

351 calories

4. Avocado and egg on toast with grapefruit

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Top 1 slice wholegrain toast with 1 fried or poached egg + ½ sliced avocado. Serve with ½ medium grapefruit.

Start the day with a citrus twist. A study found eating grapefruit before each meal helped adults lose up to 10lb in 12 weeks without making any other dietary changes.

380 calories

5. French toast with sugared strawberries

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Whisk 1 egg with 2 tbsp skimmed milk and dip 2 slices wholemeal bread. Fry in a non-stick pan, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp icing sugar and add 13 sliced strawberries.

New research shows eating strawberries increases your production of fat-burning hormone adiponectin. Berry tasty.

275 calories

6. Orange and pomegranate ricotta toast

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Spread 1 slice wholemeal toast with 60g low-fat ricotta + 2 tsp honey. Top with 1 navel orange, 1 tbsp pomegranate seeds and 3/4 tsp nutmeg.

Studies show pomegranate seeds help reduce body fat and increase metabolism. Sweet!

290 calories

7. Pancakes with almond butter and berries

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Top 2 whole-wheat pancakes with 1 tbsp of almost butter and 20g each of blackberries, blueberries and raspberries.

Almond butter keeps blood sugar steady, a study in Nutrition and Metabolism found, so you’re less likely to nip to Greggs for a pre-lunch sugar hit.

310 calories

8. Pistachio rice pudding

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Cook 50g instant brown rice in 180ml skimmed milk. Mix in 15 pistachios, then top with 1 tsp brown sugar and ½ tsp cinnamon.

A Penn State University study found pistachios actually help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. That’s worth shelling out for.

220 calories

9. Eggs benedict and an apple

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Poach 2 poached eggs. Combine 3 tbsp 0% fat yoghurt with ¼ tsp dried dill, ¼ tsp lemon juice and ½ tsp lemon zest. Spread on 1 Kingsmill 50/50 muffin and top with eggs and 1 sprig fresh dill. Eat with 1 small apple.

Get belly-fighting protein in your diet with eggs. A recent study found people who ate two a day lost 65% more weight than those who had a carby bagel for brekkie. Crackin’.

440 calories

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One Trick To Efficiently Build A Lean Body

You’re wasting your time in the gym. Toned arms do not come from barbell curls or triceps pushdowns. Great legs don’t come from leg extensions and leg curls. The key and the only tip you need to efficiently building quality muscle is to ditch the isolation exercises and start replacing them with compound exercises.

Why Are Compound Exercises The Best For Building Lean Muscle?

Compound exercises work many muscle groups at one time. Isolation exercises, on the other hand, work a single muscle. Because of this, you can get a greater amount of work done in a shorter amount of time using compound exercises.

In addition, since compound exercises work several muscle groups at once, they help you improve your insulin sensitivity to a greater degree. By depleting glycogen stores in several muscles, you enable your body to keep insulin levels under control the rest of the day so that fatty acid mobilization can occur.

Compound exercises also cause a positive hormonal response that is beneficial for building muscle and burning fat. Hormones like testosterone and growth hormone are boosted in response to a set of intense squats.

Doing a set of squats will activate every muscle from head to toe. It forces you to have a high-intensity workout, which is key for both muscle building and fat loss.

Big arms are not made by doing curls, they are made through heaving rowing and pressing movements. A 300-400 pound bench press is going to do more for your arms than any triceps kickbacks or pushdown will do.

The same goes for your legs. You can sit on the leg extension machine trying to build great quads, and you might get a great pump and burn from it, but nothing is going to build great legs like squats will.

Are All Isolation Exercises Worthless?

No. Isolation exercises have their place, as you will soon see. However, they should not be the core of your workout. You will build all the muscle you need, and in a faster amount of time, if you would just stick to the core compound exercises.

When are isolation exercises effective? Two of the best times to use them are when you’re trying to work around an injury, or when you are trying to isolate a lagging body part (muscle imbalance).

Using isolation exercises when you’re injured allows you to continue exercising without aggravating your injury. For example, if you have an injured back, doing bent over rows is going to be detrimental to your recovery efforts. However, barbell curls will still allow you to train your arms.

The same goes for when you want to bring up a lagging body part. Isolation exercises let you hone in on one particular muscle without stimulating others.

Best Compound Exercises

The list of compound exercises is long, but there are a dozen or so core movements that you can incorporate that will make a big impact. These core movements also have several variations to them.

You can change the resistance curve by adding bands or chains, changing hand positioning to target slightly different muscles, changing angles, or by swapping out barbells for dumbbells. You can also do their bodyweight versions.

Here’s a list of compound exercises you should consider adding into your workout program:

  • Bench Press
  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Pullups
  • Good Mornings
  • Overhead Press
  • Barbell Rows
  • Front Squats
  • Incline Press
  • Stiff Legged Deadlifts

Whether you’re a male or female, compound exercise principles apply. There is no best exercise for a girl or best exercise for a guy. Muscle is muscle, and it grows the same regardless of gender. Men might have an easier time putting on muscle because of their hormonal profile, but that just makes it even more important that women take advantage of compound exercises.

As you put together your exercise program, make sure compound exercises form the core of your program. Isolation exercises are fun and add variety to your workouts, but only compound exercises can provide you with the resistance and intensity necessary to efficiently build muscle.

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6 Reasons You’re Always Feeling Hungry

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You’re an hour into the working day and already on the hunt for a second breakfast – why are you so hungry?

If you’re confused by unexpected tummy rumbles, take a closer look at your eating habits. Chances are, your diet will reveal a lot about those troublesome hunger pangs and why you’re always shopping for emergency snacks.

Always hungry? Here’s why.

1. You Drink Too Much

There’s science behind your pizza cravings after a pint or two. Alcohol increases levels of ghrelin in the body: the “hunger hormone” that regulates appetite and distributes energy. Drink a glass of wine before dinner, and you’re more likely to be reaching for seconds. What’s more, alcohol can also significantly decrease levels of leptin in the blood – the “satiety hormone” that works to inhibit hunger.

Boozy sessions are just asking for unrelenting hunger. If you’re sick of submitting to late night trips to the takeaway, try scrapping alcohol from your diet completely.

2. You Need Good Bacteria

Whilst eating habits play a huge role in determining your hunger levels, certain aspects are left in the hands of Mother Nature. Emotional eating is something we all battle with – only a bar of chocolate can save the day! And another perhaps lesser-known trigger for hunger pangs is the bacteria in our gut.

Research highlighted in the Journal of Bacteriology found that the trillions of microbes in our stomach/intestines respond to the food we eat and, in turn, influence how hungry we are and at what times. If you’re hungrier than your friends, it could be because your gut isn’t getting the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.

An imbalance of bacteria not only has the potential to produce toxins; they can also effect your eating decisions, manipulate your mood and stimulate hunger pangs. Ward off nasty microbes and feed your gut with the lots of tummy loving fibre – artichokes, beans, bananas and whole grains.

3. You Need More Protein

Hunger isn’t just a call for food. It’s a complex interaction between the brain, bloodstream, stomach and intestines. For this reason, it’s integral that you don’t just eat to satisfy random cravings – crisps, pasta, fast food. Feed your body with the nutrients it needs to stay fuller for longer, starting with protein.

Protein-dense foodstuffs such as lean meats, fish, eggs and soybeans are proven to promote fullness. In a study made by Purdue University, they found that even a “3-4 ounce portion of lean protein was enough to influence appetite,” reports WebMD, and that those whose diets didn’t meet the daily protein recommendations found they had an increased desire to eat.

Make simple food swaps to feel less hungry. At breakfast for instance, try switching from cereal to scrambled eggs to up your protein intake.

4. You’re Loading Up On Refined Carbs

You eat and eat and eat, but nothing seems to stop your stomach from rumbling.  Top tip: write down what you’re eating. If your diet is packed with ‘bad’ simple carbs that are broken down too quickly by the body, you won’t feel satisfied.

Refined carbohydrates tend to be processed, preservative-filled and topped with tons of sugar – all of which wreaks havoc on your hunger hormones.

Take fast food for instance. Whilst its sweet/salty goodness tastes great in the moment: the trans fat content can inflame the gut, and impair appetite-controlling hormones as a result. And to make matters worse, the high-carb intake is likely to spike insulin levels too, leaving you hungry for evenmore food.

Again, as tempting as it is, replace your takeaway trips with nutrient-rich, wholesome homemade dinners.

5. You’re Always Stressed

In many stressful situations, you probably don’t feel like eating. However, when stress becomes commonplace and you’re constantly feeling tired and irritable; you’ll probably start to eat more. Increased cortisol levels are a symptom of chronic stress, which can leave you super hungry and craving all kinds of sugary foods.

Rather than applying yourself to an unrealistic diet, look to eliminating the stress from your life. Stress can lead to all kinds of health complications; high blood pressure, heart problems, depression. A healthier you is a less snack-happy you.

6. You’re Taking Certain Medication

One of the hidden side effects to many medication types is weight gain. This could be for a range of reasons, and in some cases can even be considered a positive – perhaps you had a lack of appetite beforehand and the medication has given you a healthy hungriness again.

Even something as seemingly harmless as antihistamines can make your tummy rumble. Histamine is a chemical compound released by the body as an inflammatory response (to allergies for example) and suppresses your appetite. Thus, taking medication to prevent constant sneezing could also increase your hunger levels.

If you’re clueless as to why you’re constantly snacking, speak to a doctor and see if changing your prescription could make a difference.
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30 Day Plank Challenge

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WEEK 1:

DAY 1: 20 seconds

DAY 2: 25 seconds

DAY 3: 30 seconds

DAY 4: 30 seconds

DAY 5: REST

DAY 6: 40 seconds

DAY 7: 45 seconds

WEEK 2:

DAY 8: 45 seconds

DAY 9: 50 seconds

Day 10: REST

Day 11: 60 seconds

Day 12: 60 seconds

Day 13 70 seconds

Day 14: 70 seconds

WEEK 3:

Day 15: REST

Day 16: 90 seconds

Day 17: 120 seconds

Day 18: 90 seconds

Day 19: 120 seconds

Day 20: REST

Day 21: 150 seconds

WEEK 4:

Day 22: 150 seconds

Day 23: 180 seconds

Day 24: 180 seconds

Day 25: REST

Day 26: 210 seconds

Day 27: 210 seconds

Day 28: 240 seconds

THE LAST HURDLE:

Day 29: 270 seconds

Day 30: 300 seconds

BE PROUD! YOU DID IT!

11 Tips To Ease Back Into Exercise

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If you’re recovering from surgery or an illness, exercising can be tough. Maybe your doctor has told you it’s time to start exercising again to aid in your rehabilitation, but even though you know it’s important, you sometimes feel worse when you try to move. This can lead to feelings of discouragement and the desire to just give up.

But exercise is a great help in recovering from illness and surgery … just make sure it’s the right kind and the right amount. Here are 11 key things to remember about exercising when it hurts.

  1. Start slowly.

If you exercise too much, too hard or too fast, you’ll feel worse and it may be harder to make yourself exercise the next time. If your body is in pain, inflamed, fatigued or weak, it will respond best to a gentle, slow approach.

  1. Believe in your ability to get better.

Wherever you are in terms of fitness level, you can increase balance, strength, muscle tone, endurance and range of motion if you work with your body rather than against it.

  1. Treat your body like a good friend.

Exercise in a kind, enjoyable way. No bullying or forcing yourself!

  1. Little bits count!

Start exercising in short segments, maybe even three to five minutes, and very gradually add time. When I was first recovering from chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, I had to rest after walking up a flight of steps. Exercising for me at that time was walking slowly around my yard. Today, I climb mountains, hike, dance, lift weights and lead a vibrantly active life.

  1. Trust what you notice.

You’re the one who lives in your body. You’re the only one who can notice what’s going on inside your body. When you notice how you feel and trust what you notice, you become your own best teacher. Which activities and types of exercise make you feel better and which make you feel worse? What are the voices inside your head saying about exercising? Which voices are helpful and which ones are not?

Let your awareness and your trust of yourself guide you toward your best exercise.

  1. Breathe!

Move with your breath flowing freely in and out. No need to push your breath — just soften around it and let it flow all through your body.
Breathe through your nostrils, not your mouth, whenever possible. This calms your mind and prevents strain on the body.

Let your breath remind you when you’re doing too much. When you begin gasping and feel out of breath, slow down a bit so that you can work within your breathing capacity. As you gain stamina and lung capacity you will be able to exercise more and more vigorously while breathing easily and without strain. Enjoy, on each exhale, a letting-go-breath. Release tension, strain and discomfort as you breathe out.

  1. Warm your muscles.

Warm muscles exercise more happily than cold muscles. Exercise in a comfortably warm room. Wear layers so you can adjust your body temperature. Use a heating pad on sore muscles before or while stretching them. Stretch gently in a warm bath or shower.

  1. Work within your range of motion.

Gradually this will extend and you will do more with ease. If you force muscles beyond their range of motion, they’ll contract in self-protection.

  1. Practice relaxation-in-action.

Notice muscles that are unnecessarily tight and let them relax. How easy can you let each action be? Cats are fabulous movement teachers. Watch a cat move and imagine your own body, sleek relaxed, supple and powerful, moving with no extra tension exerted.

  1. Be cautious with repetitive movements.

… especially when there’s weight or pressure on your joints. Strength training is valuable, but to avoid the inflammation from repetitive movements, start with small weights, few repetitions and work up gradually. Free weights and stretchy exercise bands are often safer to use than weight machines when you are dealing with pain.

  1. Have fun!

Find a way of moving that is fun to you. Use the buddy system and regularly walk with friends, meet friends at the pool, sign up for a class with a friend or make new friends in a class. How can you let exercising be more fun for you?

Remember: Your body is made to move! So get moving, but do it gently and kindly. You will feel better with intelligent exercise.

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5 Ways to Banish Your Bloated Tummy

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We’ve all suffered through bouts of tummy troubles from time to time, but what if those symptoms never quite go away? For many, problems such as constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, wind and diarrhoea are a frequent source of pain and embarrassment. The cause? The umbrella term is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which refers to a collection of issues relating to a disturbed digestion process.

IBS affects around a third of the population at some point in their lives and, as the condition affects twice as many women as men, it’s likely to happen to you. Here’s what you need to know about the triggers, symptoms and treatments for IBS.

What causes IBS?

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Because IBS is a label for a group of unexplained symptoms that affect bowel function, there are several different theories about its cause. However, most experts agree that IBS is related to an increased sensitivity of the gut. It could be caused by a food intolerance, low levels of stomach acid or an imbalance of gut flora brought about by a course of antibiotics.

Even the way you eat could affect your digestion. Food that’s not broken down properly at the start of the digestive system (wolfing down food, rather than chewing your meals), can also knock the digestive process out of balance.

Occasionally, IBS can be triggered by a bout of gastroenteritis though it will usually clear up. If this root cause for your bloated tummy, then lessen your stress and anxieties, which can trigger chemical changes that interfere with the normal workings of your digestive system. In other words, your emotions are expressed through your gut.

What are the symptoms?

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The main symptoms of IBS are recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort, in combination with disturbed bowel habits. This could mean constipation, diarrhoea or alternating between the two. Other common symptoms include an urgent need to go to the loo, feeling like you haven’t fully emptied your bowels, and bloating caused by excess wind.

IBS sufferers may also experience symptoms in other parts of their body, such as chronic fatigue, headache, lower back pain, insomnia, sexual dysfunction and pain during vaginal intercourse.

Headaches are often caused by dehydration and a lack of B vitamins and magnesium, as sufferers aren’t able to absorb nutrients or water effectively. It’s also worth keeping an eye out for undigested food particles in your poo; these indicate your digestive enzymes and good bacteria are low, as food isn’t being broken down properly in your gut.

5 Ways to Stop Bloated Tummies

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Although IBS can’t be cured, its symptoms can be reduced by removing or reducing triggers – such as certain foods – from your diet and reducing stress by altering the way you handle pressure. Supplements including probiotics can help to ease symptoms, as can changing the type and frequency of exercise you take.

1. Avoid ‘gassy’ foods (foods that are likely to cause bloating).

These tend to differ from person to person so be prepared to spend some time experimenting with your diet until you find a balance that works for you. A good place to start is FODMAPS – these are poorly absorbed sugars or sugar alcohols that are found in a variety of food and drinks.

2. Take a probiotic.

Probiotics are found to significantly reduce the severity of symptoms in patients with moderate to severe IBS.

3. Reduce stress

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Do something that has a positive impact on your wellbeing by taking time to relax and unwind, for instance. Try a yoga or tai chi class or simply soak in a warm bath with a good book.

4. Chew your food properly

Slow down and use your teeth.

5. Aim to exercise regularly and moderately.

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Go jogging, swimming, or walking. If you’re prone to diarrhoea, avoid high-intensity workouts that can overstimulate your gut.

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9 Really Simple Ways To Be Healthy And Happy

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Perhaps you spent most of winter feeling stressed, being cooped inside, eating comfort food and rarely making it to the gym. You may have suffered a cold and gained a few pounds, and now you want to get your body back to being happy and healthy.

The good news is that warm weather is here and it’s a great time to get back out in nature and get nurtured. Here are nine easy ways to get started:

  1. Get outside.

Spending a lot of time indoors often means spending a lot of time on your phone or computer. We now know that excessive screen time is detrimental to our health but spending more time in nature is good for us. Twenty minutes in nature — gardening, walking, or resting while lying on the ground — is all it takes to access the benefits.

You can spend time by the ocean, walk in a forest or picnic in a park. Many trees and plants are loaded with phytoncides — chemicals that stimulate or relax your brain and may even benefit your immune system as they lower your stress response.

  1. Do some green exercise.

When you’re outside, you are more likely to exercise. And what’s better is that you’re more likely to enjoy your workout when you’re surrounded by greenery. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do it. Walk along the beach, take a bike ride, or play a game of Frisbee.

  1. Enjoy some sunshine (with safe sunscreen).

While you’re out in nature, you’ll also benefit from getting one of the sun’s healing remedies — Vitamin D. Do this safely and cover up so you don’t expose your skin to harmful ultraviolet rays for more than 15 minutes. Make sure to wear sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen that doesn’t have added chemicals in it.

  1. Eat wild.

Take advantage of the beautiful weather and get yourself to the farmer’s market. Enjoy seasonal fruits and vegetables. Get filled up with antioxidants from berries or dark leafy greens. Try to live by the rule that if it’s not fresh, don’t eat it, and if it grows in nature, especially in the wild, do.

  1. Sleep luxuriously.

Sleep is essential for your physical, psychological, and emotional well-being. A lack of sleep takes a large toll on your health. While you sleep, your stress system is turned down, your cortisol levels drop, your immune system gets stronger, your brain consolidates everything you have learned, and your body naturally releases hormones, most notably the important growth hormone as well as testosterone.

Not only will getting more sleep help prevent you from getting sick, but it will also improve your ability to get more fit andhave a better libido. Practice good sleep hygiene, remove stimuli from your bedroom, try not to eat too much or drink alcohol about three hours before sleep, luxuriate in your bed and get those zzz’s.

  1. Hydrate.

Being out in the sun and exercising more means sweating and dehydrating. Remember, your body is predominantly water, so it needs to be replenished. Try and shoot for half your body weight in ounces a day, and more if you are sweating a lot.

  1. Have fun with your friends.

Plan a barbeque, play dates or picnic outings with people you enjoy being around. When people feel a sense of belonging they not only feel better but also are healthier. Get that love hormone, oxytocin, working and spend time with people who help you feel good.

  1. Get dirty.

Garden, go for a hike, or simply follow your favorite child around and do what he does. Not only is spending time in nature good for you, but allowing yourself to relax and play like a child will do wonders to lower your stress levels and put a smile on your face. Pretend you’re going on an adventure in your backyard — or gather up your things and travel on a real adventure.

  1. Unwind.
    Slow down. Practice the art of mindfulness, simply being present, appreciating of the beauty around you. Immerse all your senses in the present moment, enjoying the gentle breeze against your skin, the aroma of the flowers in bloom, and the beauty of the blue sky or shapes of the clouds as they pass by.

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8 Mental Tricks To Get The Most Out Of Your Workout

You know that little voice in your head that whispers annoying things like “you can’t do it” and “just give up” when you’re uncertain about accomplishing a goal?

When the goal is finishing a 5K or holding a plank for 60 seconds, that voice turns into a screaming champion of doubt, urging you to cut your workout short right before the finish line.

To squash the non-believer in you, we asked fitness experts to give up their most motivating techniques. Here, the Jedi mind tricks that will help you finish your workout strong — and make healthier choices for the rest of the day.

1. It’s Not About Burning Calories

Sometimes, those fitness inspiration images of ridiculously ripped women have the opposite of their intended effect: they make you feel bad enough about yourself to consider spending half your salary on a personal trainer. But before you write that check, consider this: Science says that those who use health as their no. 1 fitness motivation reap more benefits than those who focus on physical appearance. That’s right, focusing on health benefits like better mood and memory will help you get back into your skinny jeans more than pictures of bikini bridges and thigh gaps will.

2. Repeat After Me: Exercise Is Fun

When the alarm goes off at 5:45 a.m., your beckoning spin class feels like anything but a good time. But one study suggests that seeing your workout as fun instead of a chore can have a major impact on your waistline. In the study, those who saw their workout as time to get away, enjoy nature or listen to music ate 200 fewer calories later in the day than those who viewed it as exercise. The exercise group also reported feeling grumpier and more fatigued, even though the mileage and calories burned were practically identical.

To avoid ruining your workout with high-calorie snacks, frame your physical activity as fun — and do something you really love. Create an awesome playlist that makes you forget to check your progress, or sign up for a fun run — it’s hard to think of a 5K as work when you’re wearing a tutu or are covered in colored powder.

3. Reward Yourself

From end-of-year bonuses to loyalty programs, we’re an incentive-based society. So why not use one at the gym?

Try this: If you finish your workout without stopping, they can put $10 in a cup. When the cup reaches $100, buy an amazing new workout outfit to rock. Think of it as making deposits into your fitness bank.

4. Make It a Competition

If you’ve got a competitive streak, you know the power of adding some friendly rivalry to goad you on.

Creating a competitive environment when athletes are struggling at the end of practice helps them to push through pain and fatigue, so why shouldn’t it work for you?

Research shows that working out with a super-fit buddy motivates women to work out harder and longer than those who exercise alone. The best part? The women increased their workout without even realizing it.

5. Visualize

It sounds cliché, but world-class athletes (and the people who train them) swear by visualization. As hocus-pocus as it seems, envisioning yourself crushing a ball into the stands or blasting by the competition as you sprint to the finish line can actually help you achieve that goal.

6. Break Up Your Goal

Sixty seconds usually goes by pretty quickly, unless, that is, you’re dripping sweat and struggling to complete that last Chaturanga.

You can do anything for one minute … and that minute turns into many more. Setting mini-goals within your workout breaks it up into less intimidating pieces. It’s not a two-mile jog, it’s just four little half-miles.

7. Crank Up the Beats

As long as the beat goes on, so will you — so say several pieces of research on the powerful effect music has on workout motivation.

Listening to a beat that matches the pace of your activity actually makes your workout feel easier, and can drown out that little voice that is telling you to stop. In some cases, music made people work out 15 percent longer and decreased use of oxygen by 7 percent (meaning they weren’t gasping for every last breath).

8. Come Up With a Mantra

It might sound hippy-dippy, but repeating a meaningful phrase or mantra can help you power through a difficult workout. Though yogis chant the traditional “Om,” you can use any word that summons strength. One of my favorite is, “Stay strong all day long” when I start to lose motivation. It reminds me that finishing the workout will make me feel stronger for the rest of the day.

According to sports psychologists, mantras should be action-based, short, instructive and positive. Choose a mantra that describes what you want to feel, rather than one that acknowledges pain. “Define yourself” was the mantra chosen by Deena Kastor in 2005 when she became the first American to win a major marathon since 1994. Sarah Reinertsen chose “You’re tougher than the rest” to qualify for a spot at the Ironman World Championship, where she became the first female leg amputee to finish the race.

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7 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Workout

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I was recently watching a TED talk given by Dan Gilbert called “The Surprising Science of Happiness,” where Mr. Gilbert points out that too many options actually lower our level of contentment about any given thing. One of the greatest kettlebell trainers of our time, Pavel Tsatsouline, mentioned how in Russia, there are two choices for coffee, with or without milk. When a Russian then enters a Starbucks with a full menu of coffee derived beverages, overwhelmed, he leaves with nothing.
Exercise is the same way for many people: spoiled for choice with no real direction, they often choose to do nothing.
If you’d like to see your body function like it used to or prevent it from losing ability to perform activities you enjoy, you’ll need to develop a good physical practice. Many training modalities pushed by professionals and machine-based exercises at the gym may actually make your body feel worse than before you started.
This can be for a variety of reasons, but is often a result of a cookie cutter approach to what should be a highly personalized practice. You may have goals that differ from another person, and you certainly have a different starting point. This means you’ll have to learn to listen to your body in a whole new way in order to see real, lasting change.
These are a few general concepts to help you know the exercises that’ll give you the most benefit with the least amount of risk and time. Use this guide to help you separate the good from the bad when it comes to gym equipment and exercise advice.
1. Learn some basic yoga.
Some people love yoga, but for others it just isn’t their thing. Regardless of where you find yourself on this scale, it’s highly beneficial to develop and maintain an ability for some of the basics. Contracting your own muscles to lengthen others is an ancient technique, and is about as pure and natural as any form of exercise.
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2. Lift with your legs.
The deadlift is the most important human movement for lifting anything off the ground. Learn to do it properly and practice weekly. It really doesn’t matter how much weight you use — especially at first. Just make sure you get the technique exact. You can advance to heavier weights when your body tells you it’s time.
Another way to lift with your legs is the squat, an excellent move overall flexibility and teaching you to keep anything held at the shoulder feeling as light as possible. Lunges are also a way to use your legs and are great for your hips, create good range of motion and work balance, coordination and core strength.
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3. Push and pull.
Use your upper body muscles to push and pull weights, or your own bodyweight (a push up or pull up, for example). Learn to pull and push in many directions, and how to engage your shoulders and move safely and most effectively. There are many ways to make body weighted exercises easier.
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4. Think of every rep an opportunity.
Bad technique is pointless. Remember that if you aren’t improving your body, you’re probably hurting it. Pay attention to your feet: keep them flat on the ground, toes pointing forward. Align your kinetic chain from the bottom up through your knees, hips shoulders and head.
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5. Keep off the machines.
Most machinery provides limited results and isn’t what’s in sync with human movement. Try not to sit or lie down when you weight train — doing so eliminates the engagement of your pelvic floor (you’ll need that strength if you ever use those muscles in the real world). The same goes for cardio and weight training machines, too. Free weights and bodyweight exercises are all you need for functionality.
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6. Combine cardio and strength.
Not only is interval training proven to give you better results, it’s also safer than endurance training. Using power phase weight training (such as the kettlebell swing) and plyometrics will ensure you get the cardiovascular benefits you need from your physical practice. Use circuits to your advantage or use the tabata protocol for ways to change things up.
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7. Invest in some basics.
You can use kettlebells, dumbells, swiss balls and resistance bands in small places. They don’t take much space to store, but they will give you a bang for your buck.
With all this in mind, remember that flexibility is the key to strength and injury prevention. Always be extremely mindful and develop flexibility through your strength training by using excellent technique. I also encourage you to practice what you enjoy: your physical practice should be enjoyable and something you look forward to.

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