10 Reasons Why Every Woman Should Be Doing Squats

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If you’re not used to doing them, squats can be more difficult than you might have thought, but once you’ve mastered the technique, you can do them just about anywhere. Squats are beneficial for all parts of your body and more – here are ten benefits of squats just in case you’re not convinced that they’re good for you:

1. Squat exercises improve your circulation, so that you can forget about the cellulite!

The muscle stretching that you get from doing the squats gets the blood pumping throughout your entire body and improves your overall health. Good circulation means that more nutrients and oxygen is getting to all the vital organs and muscles, throughout your body; and yes, you can say ‘bye, bye’ to cellulite, if you do squats regularly.

2. Squat exercises are even good for the digestion

Squats help you to remove waste from the body. The muscular action of the squat exercise improves the flow of fluids in your body and eases the passing of waste through your bowels, so it helps to keep you regular too.

3. Squat exercises help build muscles throughout your body

Even though you are working primarily on your leg muscles, squats also promote muscle growth around your entire body. The exercise is so intense that it creates an anabolic environment and makes the body release hormones, that are vital for the growth of muscle tissue; squats improve strength of your upper and lower body.

4. Squats are non-impact and don’t put a strain on your back

Other means of working out can put undue strain on your knees, ankles and back, whereas squats, being a low impact exercise, do not have this effect, which is particularly useful to know, if you have back problems or weakened knees or ankles.

5. You can do squat exercises anywhere and you don’t need any accessories or equipment

You don’t need a gym or any equipment, so this extremely effective exercise can be done pretty much anywhere. You can do squats in the privacy of your own home or you can do a squat mini-work out in the park when you walk your dog.

6. You will walk like a beauty queen!

Benefits of squats also include improved posture. Squats are a great way not only to improve your posture, but also build better balance. The balance that you need to do them will help to sit, stand and walk tall and straight, just like a beauty queen; and it will also strengthen your back muscles and help to avoid the back pain caused by sitting in a chair for too long.

7. Squat exercises burn fat and can help you to lose weight

As well as toning muscles, squats burn calories too. As you tone and build your muscles, you are burning more and more calories, so squats make a superb general work out for health and weight loss, as well as being a specific muscle toning exercise.

8. Squats help keep your knees supple and strong, improving your flexibility and preventing injury

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The bending and stretching of your knees will strengthen your knee muscles and allow more oxygen and blood to flow around the joints, thus helping to keep them supple and strong.

9. Squats exercises tone your whole leg

One of the greatest benefits of squats is that squat exercises tone your whole leg. Unlike any particular exercise equipment at the gym, which target only specific muscles, you use every single muscle in your leg, when you perform a squat. The act of keeping yourself balanced and upright will give your entire leg a workout, all in one go!

10. Get a rounder butt!

Squats tone your butt, of course! Benefits of squats wouldn’t be complete without including a butt toning in our list. Squats can firm up your buttocks in no time at all, without placing any undue train on your back. So, if you want a rear to be proud of, squat!

Stay beautiful!

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10 Exercises That Build Strength Without Bulk

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Eager to achieve long, lean, sculpted muscles, but you’re really not the type to spend hours pumping iron or pushing a metal weight machine at the gym? We hear you! Even though the fear of “bulking up” with weight training is a myth (See Related Post: 6 Reasons Why Women Need To Lift Weights), especially for women over 40, building muscle is a must, both for strong bones and to boost metabolism.

If you’re game, then follow this metabolism-boosting workout that builds strength and tones your abdominals, back, thighs, butt and arms. These are the most effective “bulk-free” ways to get longer, leaner and stronger from head to toe, without any weights of course.

1. Monkey push

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Strengthens: Arms and shoulders, abdominals, back

Get into the “up” part of push-up position with hands directly below shoulders and body in a straight line from head to heels. Keeping core tight, push through toes and hop forward, landing gently with feet on the outside of hands. Hop back to starting position. Bend elbows (keeping them close to body) to lower body toward floor, then push back up; that’s 1 rep. Do 10–12 reps.

2. One-leg rear-delt raise

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Strengthens: Core, shoulders, biceps, triceps, back, hamstrings, glutes

Hold 5- to 8-pound weight in each hand, palms facing in. Bend forward at waist, letting arms hang, while lifting left leg back so it’s in line with torso. Flex shoulder muscles and raise weights out to sides until arms are parallel to floor (as shown). Lower arms. Do 15 reps; switch legs, and repeat.

3. Opposite arm & leg lift

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Strengthens: Upper body, lower body, biceps, triceps, shoulders, upper and lower back, glutes

Get down on all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Reach your right arm forward; at the same time, stretch your left leg back. Hold for 5 seconds, then release and repeat using the left arm and right leg; that’s one rep. Do 10 to 15 reps.

4. Triceps down dog

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Strengthens: Upper body, biceps, triceps, shoulders

From plank position, bend elbows to lower down as far as you can, then straighten them. Lift your hips up as you push back into Down Dog position, pressing your heels toward the floor. Return to plank. Do entire sequence 10 times.

5. Twisting knee plank

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Strengthens: Upper and lower body; arms, shoulders, abdominals, obliques, butt

Get into plank position (the up part of a push-up). Twist your lower body to the left, then to the right; return to center. Bring your left knee forward to touch your left elbow; hold for 1 second, then return to center and repeat on the right side. That’s 1 rep; do 20 reps.

6. Kneeling Glute Toner

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Strengthens: Glutes, hamstrings, inner and outer thighs, abdominals

Kneel with knees hip-width apart, and hold the back of a chair; tighten abs, tuck pelvis. Slide left foot back, lift knee and toes off floor; press straight back with foot (knee bent) 20 reps. Keeping knee behind hip, pelvis tucked, turn out leg slightly (toe to 8 on clock); lift toes 20 reps. Rotate thigh out; press foot back 20 reps. Lift leg diagonally to side 20 reps. Switch legs; repeat series.

7. Chair twist

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Strengthens: Lower and upper abdominals, obliques, hips, thighs, butt

Stand with your feet together. Bend knees, reaching hips back (knees behind toes), lowering until thighs are nearly parallel with floor; raise arms forward and up. Rotate torso to right and secure left elbow on outside of right knee. Hold for 3 breaths; return to starting position. Repeat on left side; that’s 1 rep. Do 3 reps.

8. Dancing half-moon kick

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Strengthens: Obliques, hips, back, butt, arms

Begin in a straddle stance with your knees bent and feet wide, and your toes pointing slightly outward. Shift your weight onto your right leg while straightening your left leg. Round your arms, as if holding a large ball, and bend sideways from the waist over your bent knee.

9. Quadriceps stretch

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Strengthens: Lower body, hips, legs, butt, thighs

Start on hands and knees with feet toward stability ball or wall. Lift right leg, point right toes toward ceiling; move your knee 4 inches away from ball. Rest top of foot against ball. Slowly bring left leg into lunge position with left foot flat on the floor, knee over ankle; lift torso. Kick top of right foot into ball to contract quads; as you kick, use left leg to push body back and torso upright, stretching quads. 
Do 5 to 10 reps. Repeat on other side.

10. Waist Trimmer

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Strengthens: Core, butt

Sit with knees bent to 90° (right knee in front, left knee to side with left toes pointing back). Place right hand on the floor and left hand on left hip. Bend slightly forward at waist, lifting chest. Lift left leg an inch off the floor (as shown); lower it. Do 20 reps, then press left leg an inch backward and forward for 20 more reps. Switch sides; repeat sequence.

8 Late Night Snacks That Won’t Make You Fat

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We all know that late night snacking isn’t exactly part of a good diet plan. But then again, we also know that eating late at night is sometimes inevitable.

Because you’re likely to do it anyway, you may as well make some good food choices. Late night snacking may not mean weight loss, but that doesn’t mean it has to equal weight gain. Try these 8 late night snacks that won’t make you fat.

1. Carrots

Because they’re fluid-dense (meaning they’re great at making you feel full quickly), carrots are fantastic for not only keeping weight off, but also for losing weight. They’re also packed with vitamins and antioxidants, so your skin will thank you for eating carrots. For an extra dose of flavor, dip carrots in hummus, another great snack that won’t cause weight gain.

2. Celery

Have you ever heard that eating celery burns more calories than consuming it does? That’s not untrue, and because they’re made of mostly water and fiber, your body will think you’re full quicker than eating something else. If you’re not the biggest fan of celery, swipe on a thin layer of all natural, unsalted peanut butter to add some protein into the snack.

3. Blueberries

Get yourself one cup of blueberries and snack away with only 80 calories and 4 grams of protein. With a high water content and enough antioxidants to make your skin glow, blueberries will fill you up and hold off signs of aging. That’s a win-win.

4. Raw, Unsalted Almonds:

Pick up a package of raw, unsalted almonds for a snack packed with protein and good for you fats. Stay away from anything roasted, salted or flavored to keep the integrity of the snack pure, and limit yourself to no more than about 15 almonds.

5. Plain, Low-Fat Yogurt

Yogurt is one of the best foods your body can eat, especially because it balances the bacteria in your gut and helps with digestion. For the best results, opt for plain, unsweetened, unflavored, low-fat yogurt. The flavorings can add up to a ton of sugar that will lay in your stomach at night, which can contribute to weight gain. Also, stick to low-fat instead of non-fat. When all of the natural fat is taken out of yogurt, other additives are put in to make it taste like regular yogurt, and those additives are not good for your body.

6. Cottage Cheese

Some people hate cottage cheese, but it’s a fantastic snack for weight control. Make your serving a tasty treat by mixing in blueberries and almonds for an anytime snack, whether it be late night or early morning.

7. Hard Boiled Egg

Boil a batch of eggs one night and store them in your fridge for easy snacks throughout the week. Eggs are high in protein, good fats and they’re low calories, so do yourself a favor and choose this over that handful of chips.

8. Peppers

The “heat” factor in peppers has been shown to help with appetite control and increased heart rate, which in turn burns calories. Red peppers are especially great, and if you need a bit of extra flavor, dip peppers in a bit of hummus.

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6 Best Fat Burning Foods

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Certain foods have a very high thermogenic effect, so you literally scorch calories as you chew. Other eats contain nutrients and compounds that stoke your metabolic fire. Feed your metabolism with these.

1. Whole Grains

Your body burns twice as many calories breaking down whole foods (especially those rich in fiber such as oatmeal and brown rice) than processed foods.

2. Lean Meats

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Protein has a high thermogenic effect: You burn about 30% of the calories the food contains during digestion (so a 300-calorie chicken breast requires about 90 calories to break it down).

3. Low fat Dairy Products

Rich in calcium and vitamin D, these help preserve and build muscle mass—essential for maintaining a robust metabolism.

4. Green Tea

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Drinking four cups of green tea a day helped people shed more than six pounds in eight weeks, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports. Credit EGCG, a compound in the brew that temporarily speeds metabolism after sipping it. To up your intake, keep a jug of iced tea in the fridge.

5. Lentils

One cup packs 35% of your daily iron needs—good news, since up to 20% of us are iron- deficient. When you lack a nutrient, your metabolism slows because the body’s not getting what it needs to work efficiently.

6. Hot Peppers

Capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their kick, heats up your body, which makes you melt additional calories. You can get it by eating raw, cooked, dried, or powdered peppers. Add as much cayenne or hot sauce as possible to soups, eggs, and meats.

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5 Exercises That Will Transform Your Butt

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In order to really challenge the glutes and force them to become more than just a backseat driver, your workout needs to include a mix of movements that come at this large muscle group from multiple angles. You need strength work that hits every part of your lower body. Here are 5 moves that will do just that.

How This Workout Works: Three days a week on non-consecutive days, do 1 set of each exercise back to back. Rest for 1 to 2 minutes, and repeat the full routine 2 more times (for 3x total).

Equipment: Optional dumbbells and/ or kettlebells.

1. Donkey Kicks (15 reps per leg)

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Starting on your hands and knees, keeping your core tight and back flat, raise 1 leg and keeping knee at 90 degrees. Push that leg as high as you can in the air and lower back down, repeat for 15 reps, then switch legs.

2. Hip Bridge (15 reps)

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Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, (optional – place the weight on your pelvic area).

Keeping your core tight, rise your hips up off the floor and thrust them as high into the air as you can, squeezing your butt at the top. Keep shoulders on the ground.

Lower hips back down, but do not touch butt to the floor. That is one rep. Repeat for 15 reps.

3. Mountain Climbers (20 reps)

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Assume a push-up position with your arms straight and your body in a straight line from your head to your ankles. Without changing the posture of your lower back (it should be arched), raise your right knee toward your chest.

Pause, return to the starting position and repeat with your left leg. That’s one rep. Alternate until you’ve completed 20 reps.

4. Sumo Squats (15 reps)

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Start by taking an excessively wide stance. The more your feet are apart, the more you activate your glute muscles and not your quads (front of thighs).

Point your feet to 45 degrees away from your body. Holding a dumbbell or if you prefer a kettlebell in front of you (arms should not be flexed), with your core engaged and your back kept straight, bend your knees and send your hips backwards, lowering your body and the kettlebell as far as you can without compromising your posture. Try to get the weight all the way to the ground without actually touching it. If you prefer not to use weights, you can hold you arms out for balance.

Rise back to your starting stance, squeezing your butt at the top of the movement. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps.

5. Fire Hydrants (20 reps)

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Start on all fours, knees directly under your hips, and hands directly below your shoulders. Keep your back, neck in a straight line, and look slightly forward. Keeping your knee bent, raise your right leg out to the side, until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Keep your pelvis stable and not leaning to the left, slowly lower your leg back to starting position.

Repeat 15 times on one side, then switch legs.

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4-Minute Insanely Fast Cardio Workout

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The most common reason for the vast majority of people who do not make regular exercise a priority is a “lack of time”.

Yes, you are busy, really busy – maybe even way too busy, but this full body fat busting cardio workout that requires no equipment and takes only 4 minutes to complete is going to blow all of your time related excuses out of the water.

4 Minutes is quick; lunch break – baby is down for a short nap – my boss isn’t looking – dinner is almost out of the oven – two commercial breaks of your favorite show quick.

And it will go by quick with this fun workout that burns belly fat, butt fat and all types off body fat, by torching calories, bumping up your metabolism, and calling upon muscles that you didn’t know you had.

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How This Workout Works:

4 Exercises
20 Seconds
10 Second Rest Intervals
2 Rounds
4 Minutes Total

Here’s the lineup:

1. Squat Thrusts (Burpees)

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Step 1: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands tucked behind your head with elbows out.

Step 2: Start with a quick jump then push your hips back, bend your knees and drop down, placing your hands on the floor in front of you.

Step 3: Kick your legs backward so that you’re now in a push up position.

Step 4: Quickly reverse the movement to return to the starting position by bringing your feet back into your hands.

Step 5: Push through your feet and jump up to the start position. That’s one rep.

2. Mountain Climbers

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Step 1: Get in a push up position. Your body should be in a straight, diagonal line from your head to your toes.

Step 2: Raise your right knee toward your chest.

Step 3: Kick the right leg back as the left leg comes forward. The feet only touch the floor when they return to the back.

Step 4: Alternate legs quickly for 60 seconds.
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3. High Knees

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Step 1: Stand tall with your core pulled in and your shoulders back.

Step 2: Keep this posture and raise your right knee as high as you can. Lower it back and repeat with your left leg.

4. Jumping Jacks

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Step 1:

Stand with your feet together and your hands at your sides.

Step 2:

Jump up and raise your arms above your head, while simultaneously kicking your legs out to the sides. You should form an “x.” Without taking a break, quickly reverse the movement and repeat.

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Top 20 Fruits and Vegetables That Will Help You Lose Weight

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The theory behind zero calorie or negative calorie foods is that they contain such a scant amount of calories that the energy you expend eating them cancels out their calories. In essence the bottom line is that you don’t take on any excess calories, and in some instances you end up burning calories as you eat them. It’s clear that the following foods have such a slight caloric load they won’t put a dent in your daily total.

Each of these foods has fewer than 50 calories per 100 gram serving. Considering that chicken breast has 172 calories in that same portion size and is considered a low calorie food, it’s clear to see these foods rank very low in terms of calories.

1. Celery

Celery is a food that when you eat it you don’t really feel like you’re eating anything, so it’s not a total shocker to find out that it has essentially zero calories. The stringy nature of celery makes it seem as if it only exists to hold the water it contains. What you’ll typically see is celery with peanut butter or cream-based fillings inside of it, and you’ll want to avoid those if you are keeping track of calories, as they can swing it back the other way quite quickly.

2. Oranges

Oranges are known for their Vitamin C, but they’re also low in calories compared to other fruits. Whether or not you expend the total number of calories while eating oranges is debatable, but the point of eating foods this low in calorie is not to cancel out the calories, but to keep your total caloric load for the day lower than normal. You’re trying to create a caloric deficit, and an orange can help reach that goal.

3. Cabbage

Cabbage often gets brought up for its ability to prevent cancer and heart disease, and it often ranks on lists of foods that help with weight loss. That’s because it has a calorie count so low you end up burning it off just by going about the normal motions of your day. Cabbage soup is one great way to eat cabbage, as it is a filling meal while containing far fewer calories than most soups.

4. Asparagus

Asparagus shows up as a side dish to many meals, and is a great choice because its fibrous nature means it will satisfy your hunger, but the number of calories makes it so it doesn’t add much to your daily total. Eating asparagus fresh on a salad is a crunchy and satisfying treat, while grilling it or steaming it are the two best cooking methods. Be sure to go easy on the butter or oil, as that will bring the calorie count right back up.

5. Beets

If you’re going to use beets as a low calorie food you should stick to fresh beets that you either steam, boil, or grill. If you go with the pickled variety you’ll be adding a bit more calories to the mix. In addition to being low in calories, beets are great for the body, containing betalains, an antioxidant that gives it its color and is only found in a few select foods.

6. Cucumber

Cucumbers contain so much water in them it’s not surprising that they’re low in calories. That’s why cucumbers make a great adornment to most salads, especially when the salad is full of other low-cal veggies. You can eat until you feel full, while still keeping your total number of calories to a minimum. Combine this sort of eating with a more active lifestyle, and you start to tip the scales in your favor, literally and figuratively.

7. Lemons

It’s not as if you’re going to sit around eating lemons in order to keep your calories down, but it’s nice to know that you can use them as much as you want and you won’t be putting much of a strain on your total calories consumed in a day. That’s why lemons are great for flavoring up a glass of water, or sprinkling on top of fish and other foods to give them a bit of zest. They’re also an alkalizing food and contain antioxidants to keep you healthy.

8. Cauliflower

Cauliflower also limbos as one of the lowest ranking foods on the calorie chart. It’s also a cruciferous vegetable and has many healthy benefits to it, including being an anti-inflammatory food, and helping the body’s cardiovascular and digestive systems. It’s a great weight loss aid all the way around, not just because it’s very low in calories. You easily burn through it’s caloric load with the act of cooking it.

9. Mushrooms

No matter which mushroom you choose to go with, the chances are it’s going to be low in calories. These fungi just don’t know how to be high in calories, so you don’t have to worry when using them in a recipe, or sauteing them as a side dish. Even the big, popular portabella mushroom is low in calories, having only 22 of them in a 100 gram serving. Perhaps that’s why it makes such a great replacement to high calorie beef in mushroom burgers.

10. Watermelon

Watermelon has a low number of calories, despite being so naturally sweet. This has to be the sweetest food on our list, while still ranking considerably low in calories. The great news is that in addition to being a crowd pleaser, watermelon has antioxidants that help your body in many ways. It’s also been shown to be able to boost your metabolism, just don’t go overboard on portion sizes.

11. Zucchini

It’s great news that zucchini is low in calories because it is a popular side dish, and can even be incorporated into things like zucchini bread. It’s a very versatile vegetable that puts up such small numbers in the calorie department, it’s hard to do any damage with it. That being said, too much of a good thing is never good, so you’ll want to use this to help you feel satisfied during a meal without overdoing it.

12. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of the healthiest foods you can eat, and it’s only fitting that they come in low on the calorie radar. The lycopene they contain helps prevent cancer, and staves off heart disease, so you’re doing yourself a favor each time you eat it. It also makes a great weight loss food because it has such few calories that you burn it off just getting it prepped for cooking. Combine it with other foods on this list and you’ll get a delicious, low-calorie meal.

13. Grapefruit

Grapefruit is often pegged as diet food, a title it deserves seeing how it has been shown to rev up a sluggish metabolism, and is recommended to heart patients after surgery. The calories on this aren’t the lowest you can find, but they’re still not worth mentioning when you’re tallying up your total calories for the day. Fruits in general tend to have more calories than vegetables, but they often bring a preferred flavor to the table as well.

14. Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts may win the award for food most often given to the dog under the table, but it’s a shame because these little guys are packed with nutrients and clock in rather low on the calorie meter. They are also a cruciferous vegetable, so they provide similar benefits to eating broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. Doctoring them up with cheese or butter to make them taste better will bump up your calories, so be careful and find the right balance.

15. Kale

You simply have to start eating more kale, that’s how good it is for you. And on top of all of the protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients it provides, it manages to keep its calories down, so it’s nothing but beneficial to you. Want a snacking alternative that’s naturally low in calories? Try baking up some kale chips in an assortment of different flavors. This is a much better alternative to potato chips.

16. Turnips

You probably don’t feel like eating a heaping helping of turnips, but if you did you wouldn’t really affect your calorie intake much. These vegetables show up from time to time in recipes, but most often they’ll be used as part of a side dish. You can also use them on a salad. They are an anti-inflammatory food, so they can help calm down the symptoms of several conditions caused by excessive inflammation in the body.

17. Apples

The “apple a day” adage seems to hold water, with apples containing plenty of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. This is no forbidden fruit, and should be used as part of a calorie conscious diet to make sure that you’re not exceeding your daily allotment. Apples can make a great snack between meals to hold you over, and keep you from eating junk food or fast food in a moment of hunger-induced weakness.

18. Onions

Onions are used in so many recipes it’s good that they’re low in calories. Most of us aren’t going to bite into an onion as a food source on its own, so it’s nice to know that they aren’t adding much in the way of calories when we cook with them and add them to soups and main dishes. Onions are often referenced as a healthy food that can help you reach your weight loss goals, and studies show that they contain flavonoids that help the body.

19. Carrots

Eating carrots to protect your eyesight is a good idea, but is just one reason to eat them. They’re also a low glycemic food, so they can help you manage your blood glucose levels, and they are an all natural diuretic, so they can help rid your body of excess sodium and retained water. They’re also an anti-inflammatory food so they can be used to help treat inflammation in the body.

20. Broccoli

Broccoli is a wonderfood, there’s no other way to describe it. It’s a cancer-fighting food that is also very low in calories. It’s packed with phytonutrients, as well as fiber so it helps keep your digestive system humming along, which is key to maintaining a proper weight. It even contains plant-based protein which can help you if you’re resistance training to build lean muscle.

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The 5 Best Martial Arts for Weight Loss and Fitness

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Combat and play fighting is well aligned with the primal nature of many intelligent animals. In terms of evolutionary usefulness, it’s about as functional as any form of exercise can get.

Until you’ve participated in martial arts, it’s impossible to understand just how frail and “in danger” you would be during a physical attack or confrontation. Training in martial arts is great for weight loss and fitness; and it could also save your life.

The reason some martial arts are so well suited to promoting fat loss and improved body composition is because they blend functional movements with strength training, cardiovascular conditioning, agility, mobility and flexibility, spatial awareness, and gross motor control.

Here are the top five martial arts for fat loss and fitness.

1. Muay Thai

Muay Thai is characterized by brutal kicks, knees, and elbows. It’s a very basic and straightforward martial art that doesn’t contain a lot of flashy and fancy techniques, throws (though sweeps are common), joint locks, and so on.

Training for Muay Thai centers around developing punching, kicking, knee, and movement skills, fight strategy, and conditioning. Workouts are very tough and sparring is even tougher. It may be possible to find a gym that allows you to not spar, but it’s uncommon.

2. Brazilian Jiu JitSu

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a martial art characterized by devastating throws, takedowns, sweeps, joint locks and limb manipulation, chokes, and controlling positions.

Aside from wrestling and judo, it offers the unique advantage of taking another human being out of the domain of using kicks and punches in a standing position to the ground where only skills specific to ground martial arts will prevail. For this reason, it’s one of the best self defense martial arts for single attacker scenarios.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is very physically demanding, beautifully blending aerobic and anaerobic demand. It conditions practitioners in a unique way — it seems the only way to condition yourself for BJJ is to practice BJJ. Sparring is a staple in nearly every practice which is where most of the demand comes from.

3. Wrestling

Wrestling is another martial art that takes place primarily on the ground, though wrestling starts in a standup position. It features devastating takedowns and top position control. Like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there is no punching or kicking — it’s all about the control of the opponent.

Wrestling got the nod for fitness and fat loss over BJJ because there tends to be less stalling in advanced level wrestling matches and more emphasis on strength and endurance (versus BJJ’s emphasis on grace and flow).

4. Olympic Taekwando

The only martial art besides judo to be featured as an olympic sport is Taekwondo. It’s important to mention that there are various styles of Taekwondo and the olympic version is much different than the traditional styles. There’s no kata, no board breaking, no throws, etc. — it’s all about developing the most devastating kicking techniques possible while utilizing one of the broadest striking arsenals of any martial art.

Olympic Taekwondo is characterized by devastating and highly dynamic kicking techniques. It emphasizes both speed and power while using flexibility and spatial awareness to deliver many techniques in quick succession to both the body and head.

Because it requires so much speed, agility, and explosiveness, training is very demanding and feels more demanding than other martial arts because it solely focuses on developing the largest muscle groups in the body (legs).

5. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

MMA is a combination of many traditional styles but as morphed into a cohesive style of its own. As an interesting note, most of of the styles in this list have risen to the top when tested inside the MMA arena. The top MMA athletes tend to be well versed in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Wrestling, and Muay Thai. There are a few title holders who have roots in Taekwondo as well.

Many gyms will allow you to participate in the very demanding training style of MMA without ever “fighting” in MMA. Light sparring is almost always required though. Training is very demanding because there are so many skills and so many positions with a strong emphasis on speed, strength, endurance, and agility. For this reason, MMA athletes are among the fittest athletes in the world.

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Shed 7 Pounds In 7 Days

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Can this really be done? Is there a plan that will really subtract up to 7 pounds from your body in seven days — without starvation, bizarre supplements, or cutting out entire food groups? The quick answer is ‘yes’.

It all boils down to making small sacrifices and employing specific techniques. And rather than giving you a one-size-fits-all regimen, we figure you’re more likely to stick with the plan if you pick the eating and exercise strategies that fit your lifestyle.

So choose at least four of the nutritionist and fitness expert-backed tips that follow, and vow to work them into your schedule for seven days straight. If you feel ambitious, tack on a few more. The more you pick, the more weight you’ll lose. If you start now, by this time next week, you’ll look and feel way lighter.

1. Drink Mainly Water

A serving of sports or energy drink, fruit smoothie, or light beer can contain about 100 calories. Yet these beverages don’t satisfy you the way 100 calories of food does, so they’re a waste. Other liquids may be high in sodium and carbohydrates, which trick your body into retaining water, puffing you out.

Water, on the other hand, has zero calories and carbs and little to no sodium, making it the perfect slim-down drink. And strangely, it actually helps flush out excess water weight as well as jump-starts your metabolism. If it’s just too boring, add lemon wedges or mint leaves.

2. Stop Eating White Bread and Pasta (and also whole wheat)

Cutting out all white grain products — such as white rice, spaghetti, sandwich rolls — will instantly slim you down because the simple carbs in these foods cause bloating, especially around your belly. “Simple carbohydrates wreak havoc on your weight because they’re digested very quickly, leaving you hungry and more likely to overeat later,” says Jane Messer, M.D., author of The Upper East Side Nutrition Menu.

To go a step further, instead of replacing them with healthier yet still bloat-triggering whole-grain bread products, substitute vegetables for the week. This way, a chicken sandwich becomes chicken salad, and chips and dip turn into carrots and dip. The complex carbs from vegetables are digested more slowly, so you remain full longer. And because veggies are mostly water, they also help flush out excess water weight.

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3. Do Cardio 30 Minutes a Day

Any workout that gets your heart rate up will burn calories. But you’ll use more calories if you pick a cardio routine that engages multiple muscles simultaneously, says Gillian Lindy, personal-training manager at Crunch’s Polk Street gym, in San Francisco.

Three to consider: spinning, cardio kickboxing, and boot-camp workouts. Half an hour of each torches 200 to 300 calories while toning up your arms, legs, and core so everything appears sleeker and tighter.

You’ll burn even more calories per session if your workout incorporates interval training: alternating short bursts of intense cardio with slower activity. Experts aren’t sure why it works, but trainers swear by it.

4. Drink Coffee an Hour Before Working Out

This is the one exception to the stick-to-water-only rule: Just as a coffee run makes your morning at work more productive, a pre-exercise cup of java with a splash of skim milk (about 11 calories) or black (just 5 calories) will energize your workout, explains Dr. Messer. “You’ll burn more calories without realizing you’re pushing yourself harder.”

5. Have Nightly You-on-Top Sex

Not that you needed an excuse to hook up with your guy every night, but the fact is, this position is a fat blaster. Being on top means you do the rocking, and the more active you are, the more calories you burn — up to 144 for 30 minutes.

Sex also pumps levels of feel-good neurotransmitters, endorphins, helping you ride out food cravings. Get on top in reverse-cowgirl (i.e., facing away from your guy) to give your thigh and butt muscles an extra push.

6. Do 36 Push-Ups and Lunges Every Other Day

These gym-class staples will help sculpt muscle, so you’ll sport a more streamlined appearance. Do three sets of 12 of each exercise every other day. “Push-ups target your upper body, while lunges work your butt, hips, and thighs,” says Lindy. Quick tip: Make sure your back and legs remain in a straight line during your push-ups; it’ll improve muscle tone. Also, you can build even more muscle with the lunges if you hold free weights in each hand while doing them.

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7. Sleep 30 Minutes More a Night

That extra half an hour, whether you sleep 5 hours or 8, can refresh you enough that you will make better food choices (in other words, no quick sugar fix for breakfast in search of energy) and won’t feel lethargic and skip the gym, says registered dietician Esther Blum, author of Eat, Drink, and Be Gorgeous. More restful sleep (7 to 8 hours is best) also boosts your metabolism. And since your body builds muscle while you snooze, getting zzz’s equals better muscle tone.

8. Make One Food Sacrifice

Cutting out one indulgence — such as the chips you have with lunch or the chocolate dessert you eat after dinner — can subtract a few hundred calories from your diet, which translates into less flab, says Messer. “Your body won’t even notice their absence.”

9. Eat Salmon for Lunch

It’s packed with nutrients that build muscle tone and give your skin a healthy glow. Some nutritionists claim that consuming a portion (doesn’t matter how it’s cooked) may immediately make your face look a bit more contoured.

10. Stand Up Straight

Keeping your spine rigid and your shoulders back while sucking in your belly toward your spine gives you a slimmer, more streamlined middle.

11. Do Squats and Sit-Ups

Bodybuilders use this technique before competitions because it adds definition to muscle. Do three sets of 12 of each exercise to tighten your abs, butt, and legs temporarily.

12. Pop an Antigas Pill

Take one of these chewable tablets, sold over-the-counter at drugstores, to relieve bloating in your abdomen and break up gas bubbles in your digestive track, leaving you with a flatter tummy.

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17 Tips To Ensure An Awesome Workout

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We’ve all been there. You know, that dark place where it feels like nothing short of a personal invitation from Brad Pitt will get you off the couch and into the gym. But whether you’re battling workout boredom, weight loss plateaus, or injuries, you don’t have to let any obstacle sidetrack your fitness. All you need is the right preparation. These 17 tips will get you ready and rekindle your passion for working out.

1. Make a date

If your excuse is that you’re always too tired, then set up a standing appointment with a friend whose fitness level matches yours—your mutual motivation lulls will cancel each other out. Research shows that having a dedicated workout partner makes you more likely to stick with an exercise program and be ready every time.

2. Have a snack

When you run low on fuel, the extra energy demands of exercise lead your body to decide that you’ve overdone it and you need to conserve some fuel –  by slowing down your metabolism. And that’s the last thing you want, so have a protein-and-complex-carbohydrate snack, like a hard-boiled egg and a slice of whole wheat toast 2 hours before you plan to work out.

3. Put On Your Shoes

Think baby steps: If you truly don’t feel like you can get out the door, just put on your workout clothes. If that feels good, throw on some sneakers. Even if you stay in the house, the clothes will give you an increased range of motion, so you’ll probably put more energy into your chores.

4. Eat More Iron (not the lifting weights kind)

As a mineral that helps convert food to energy, iron is essential to keeping energy levels high. But dieting, avoiding meat, and having heavy menstrual periods can put you at risk for low iron. Iron supplements can be risky, so make sure your diet includes 18 mg of iron every day—choose lean meats or legumes, leafy greens, and whole grains. Don’t forget citrus fruit and other juice with vitamin C, which improves iron absorption from plant foods.

5. Fuel Up Early

Eating the bulk of your calories in the early part of the day will give you the energy you need to make it through daytime workouts. Many women on weight loss plans find it easier to eat less during the day and more at night—exactly the opposite plan for optimal energy and weight loss.

6. Hydrate Yourself

Dehydration can seriously drag your energy down. Research shows that even when you drink eight glasses of water a day, 45 minutes of exercise can put you into a dehydrated state. Don’t rely on thirst as a measure of need—to prevent exercise fatigue, take a sip of water every 15 to 20 minutes while you work out.

7. Make it fun.

If you’re bored with your exercise routine you may want to try and link exercise with happy, social activities. Free yourself up to think of movement as your birthright every hour on the hour. Join an African dance class, or try inline skating. Instead of dreading sweat, think of it as calories pleasantly leaking from your body. You’ll get fit and allow yourself to escape at the same time.

8. Pile On The Rewards

Women tend to save rewards for distant, huge goals, like a 20-pound weight loss or three lost dress sizes. Rather than make goals destination-oriented, make them behavior-oriented. Set a goal to work out three times this week, and when you achieve it, give yourself a nonfood reward, like a glossy magazine or new nail polish—little indulgences you wouldn’t ordinarily give yourself.

9. Try interval training

Interval-style exercise—spinning classes, for example—raises your metabolism both during and after the exercise. Steady activity—say, 30 minutes on a treadmill—burns about 6 to 8 calories per minute. A brief, 30- to 60-second burst of intense interval activity burns about 10 calories per minute and stimulates your muscles to burn 20 to 30% more calories within the same workout.

10. Make a music mix

Listening to music eases exercise in three ways: It distracts you from fatigue, it encourages coordination, and it relaxes your muscles to encourage bloodflow. If music doesn’t work, try a book on tape. Anything pleasurable you can link to exercise will help motivate you.

11. Cover all your bases

Do you include each of the triumvirate—cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility—in your workouts each week? A combination of all three keeps your metabolism burning high, your energy level up, and your body injury-free. It’s best to have a variety of plans so you can do something 5 out of 7 days a week.

12. Create An Exercise Menu

Get to know your rhythms, and have an exercise plan for each mood. Feeling low? Go for a walk in the park. Keyed up from work? Take a high-energy class. Missing your kids? Bundle them into the car and head for the local soccer field.

13. Up Your Frequency

By increasing frequency, you’ll automatically spend more time burning calories and add another workout time to your schedule. Start with one extra 10-minute walk or weight session per week, and after it becomes a habit, increase the time or the intensity.

14. Check Your Expectations

Within three workouts, the heart already becomes more efficient. Congratulate yourself for running upstairs without losing your breath; celebrate when your thighs no longer rub together. Changes in weight, fat percentage, and muscle development may take a little bit longer, sometimes up to 2 months. But progress is still progress.

15. Consult a Trainer

A certified personal trainer can fine-tune your workout for extra results without wasted time and effort. Find a trainer you like, and then schedule follow-up visits four times a year—those dates will give you built-in goals to strive for. One hour of training costs $50 to $70—buddy up with a friend to share the cost. (Just don’t lie to your trainer!

16. Hit The Weights

Many women now dedicate 70% of their efforts to resistance training. Especially for many women over 40, they could benefit from starting with weight training even before they start cardio—a stronger woman is less likely to be injured in a step class or while walking. Weight training develops the strength of the all-important core muscles in the trunk, lower back, and hip area, making your body better equipped for cardiovascular challenges. To start, substitute strength training for at least one of your regular workouts.

17. Sleep More

Sleep not only gives you energy, but it also protects your body’s muscle-building and fat-burning efficiency. Trade Jimmy Fallon in for an extra hour of sleep and help your body adjust to an earlier bedtime with a soothing shower, a cup of warm milk, and low lights.

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