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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8 Simple Exercises You Can Do While Watching TV

In a perfect world, you’d like to make it to the gym, but sometimes (okay, most times) after a long day of work, lacing up your sneakers and hitting the treadmill could not sound more unappealing. Curling up with Netflix usually wins out over a good ab-tightening, glute-toning workout. But who said the two had to be mutually exclusive?

Keep reading to find out about the workout you can do from the comfort of your bed!

1. Pillow Crunches

Stack two pillows at the foot of bed. Lie flat on your back with your feet resting on the pillows and arms crossed over your chest. Inhale to pull your core in, and then exhale as you lift your upper body towards your feet. Slowly lower your body down and repeat ten times to strengthen your entire core.

2. Roundhouse Kicks

Lie on your back with your arms and legs extended. Lift your right leg an inch or two off the bed and rotate it out in a wide circle, keeping your leg straight. Once your leg is level with your hip, bring it up to the center of your body and lower it back down to the starting position. Repeat your circle in a slow and controlled motion five times. Then reverse the direction. Once you’ve completed ten glute- and ab-toning roundhouse kicks on the right leg, switch to the left leg.

3. Leg Circles

Lie on your back with your legs extended out in front of you. Squeeze your legs together and lift them up about three inches off of the bed. Draw a basketball in the air with your toes. Do this 20 times, and then switch directions. For more of a challenge for your lower abdominals, swap the basketballs for figure-eights.

4. Sit and Twist

Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat. Place your hands behind your head, elbows bent. Exhale as you sit up. Once you reach sitting position, twist your right elbow towards your left knee. Come back to center and lower down. Do 20 sit-ups, alternating the side you twist to each time. You’ll be working your entire core and your hamstrings.

5. Seated Floor Taps

Sit on the edge of the couch or bed, legs slightly wider than wide-distance. Extend your arms straight overhead. Keep your shoulders down and stomach pulled in as you lower your body. When your hands reach the floor, raise back up to the upright position. Repeat this slow and controlled movement 15 times to strengthen your back muscles and your core.

6. Oblique Twists

Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor and your abs engaged. Hold your arms at a 90-degree angle, elbows in line with your shoulders. Keeping your head stationary, start twisting side to side. Do this for 60 seconds to tone your obliques. To increase the calorie burn, pick up the pace and add a punch each time you twist.

7. Knees To Chest

Sitting on the edge of the bed or couch, bring your knees up into your chest, legs squeezing together, core engaged. Lean back as you extend your legs out straight to a 45-degree angle. Your body should be in the shape of a V. Hold that position for a few seconds then return to starting position. Do this 15 times to tone your inner thighs and lower abdominals.

8. Hip Rotations

Lie face down on the bed with your legs extended behind you and your arms folded under your head. Bend your right leg and place your foot on the back of your knee. Keeping both hips flat against the bed, contract your right glute and lift your right knee a few inches off of the floor. Hold that position for a few seconds, and then release. Repeat ten times on the right side before switching to the left. The movement is small, but don’t be fooled—you’ll feel the burn in your glutes and hips.

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7 Surprising Workout Mistakes You Don’t Realize You’re Making

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Busting your ass on the Stairmaster and banging out a gazillion crunches and squats isn’t going to do, well, squat, if you’re making these common mistakes. And what’s more, most women make at least one, if not more, of the seven errors listed below. Luckily, they’re easy to correct, and once you make the fixes, you can spend less time at the gym and shed more pounds.

Mistake #1: You don’t think about your tongue when you do sit-ups.

Yeah, we know it sounds strange, but hear us out. Women tend to use their neck muscles more than their abs when they do crunches. Totally uncomfortable, not to mention a huge waste of time. Shift the focus back to your abdominals with this trick: Press your tongue flush against the roof of your mouth before starting your reps. It helps keep the strain off of your neck so your stomach is forced to do the work.

Mistake #2: You stretch before cardio.

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There’s no danger in sitting on a mat and trying to touch your toes, but it’s kinda boring and doesn’t do much for your bod. The best way to warm up your muscles and prevent injury before going on a run or jumping on the Elliptical is to mimic the exercise at a low level. So get on the machine you’re about to use, set it at the easiest level, and exercise for about five minutes. Then start to increase the level until you’re at the desired speed or difficulty. This is way better than stretching, since it gets your heart rate elevated and helps avoid burnout.

Mistake #3: You lift the same weights every time.

Many women are under the impression that using heavy weights equals bulking up, so they stick with 10 or 15-pounders and don’t increase. But if you’re using free weights or weight machines once or more a week, you should be slowly upping the poundage. Since your muscles build up resistance over time, aim to increase the weight by about five pounds every two or three weeks. As long as you can do 15 without feeling anything more than fatigue (as in, you’re not shaking, panting, or about to pass out), you don’t have to worry about ending up with arms that could star in an action flick.

Mistake #4: You do real push-ups.

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Modified push-ups (where your knees are on the ground) have long been considered the lazy girl’s routine. The problem is that most women have a hard time doing the knees-off-the-ground version and when they try, their form ends up suffering, making the move sort of pointless. So go on, do the modified style and ignore the smug look from the girl next to you who has her knees up. (She’s probably doing them wrong anyway!) Plant your arms directly below your shoulders and keep everything from your knees to your neck in a straight line as you slowly lower yourself to the ground. Trust us, you’ll still get a kick-ass arm workout.

Mistake #5: You prep with a pre-gym snack.

Downing an energy bar before the gym can actually zap your energy. How come? Many of those bars are high in fiber, which is normally a good thing, but it takes forever to digest. And that digestion requires energy — energy that would be better spent on your muscles. You end up feeling sluggish and having trouble pushing yourself. If you’re ravenous beforehand, opt for a banana, which is digested super quickly and won’t inhibit your gym time. (Just steer clear of the apples many gyms offer at the front desk — they’re high in fiber too.)

Mistake #6: You overindulge afterwards.

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Hey, there’s nothing wrong with replenishing yourself after a strenuous sweat session — in fact, it’s recommended you get some protein and carbs in your system within an hour of working out. What you don’t want is to totally undo all the hard work you just put in, which is extremely common. A recent study found that people tend to overestimate the number of calories burned and underestimate the number of calories consumed. To keep yourself from eating so much your workout becomes pointless, make sure you check the label of whatever you’re eating and aim for something in the 150 calories or under range. (In other words, not that mega-muffin at the gym cafe.)

Mistake #7: You don’t weigh yourself.

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You might have been told not to worry about the number on the scale or heard that weighing yourself regularly is obsessive. But the scale is actually a key tool for ditching — and keeping off — fat. Experts have found that people who weigh themselves regularly lose more weight than those who don’t. It could be because we can actually see the pounds come off (motivation to keep exercising) and we also get a concrete reminder that eating unhealthily for a week straight has consequences.

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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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