16 Tips To A Super-Effective Workout (Every Time)

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You don’t want to spend long hours at the gym, but you want to get stronger, fitter, leaner, and just plain look good. If that isn’t happening for you right now, it’s possible that you’re not getting the most out of your workout time. But don’t fret. It IS possible to get a super-effective workout in 30 minutes, and only do a few workouts a week, if you maximize your workouts.

Here are 16 tips to maximize your workouts – you will see quicker and better results and you would’ve have spent less time doing it.

  1. Limit your workouts to 30-40 minutes.

Though the tendency of some people who really want to get a lot out of their workouts is to spend a lot of time at the gym, the truth is that after 30 or 40 minutes, the benefit isn’t as great. To go that long, you’d have to lower the intensity of the workout, and that means that you’re spending too much time working out. It’s better to work out at a higher intensity for a shorter amount of time.

  1. High-intensity workouts.

If you’re just starting out with exercise, it’s best to take it slow. If you’re running or cycling, for example, build up your endurance for at least a month before you get into anything more intense. That means going at a rate where you can easily talk without being out of breath. However, once you have that base of endurance, step up the intensity to step up the effectiveness of the workout.

  1. Protein.

Many people don’t pay enough attention to getting the protein their muscles need to rebuild. If you don’t, you are going to get very little out of your workout, as both cardio and strength workouts require protein for building muscles. I recommend either whey or soy protein shakes.

  1. Water.

Be sure to hydrate throughout the day. It takes a couple of hours for your body to absorb the water, so you can’t just drink right before exercise. Make it a habit to drink water regularly throughout the day.

  1. Carbs.

Although the low-carb craze might say otherwise, carbs are our body’s main source of fuel. If you do intense workouts, you will need carbs, or you won’t have enough energy. If you do a shake, be sure to include carbs — or a banana is a great source of low fiber/high glycemic carbohydrates that you need for exercise.

  1. Shake before and after workout.

It’s best to take a protein/carb shake just before your workout and then just after. Taking it before your workout increases the flow of amino acids to your muscles during training, giving them the building blocks they need. After the workout, the shake stimulates muscle growth. Also take a small protein/carb meal 60-90 minutes after a workout — a meal replacement bar would work fine.

  1. Slow lifting. Many people contract their muscles slowly and then release more quickly. But if you lift slowly in both directions, you are maximizing each move. Lift and lower to a 5-second count in each direction.
  2. Heavier weight.

When you’re starting out, it’s best to start with lower weights so you can focus on good form. But once you’ve gotten your form down, it’s best to lift the heaviest weights you can lift while still keeping good form. Don’t sacrifice form for heavy weights — that is ineffective. But heavy weights, with good form, can give you better results in a shorter amount of time. Heavy weights are not just for those who want to bulk up — that’s a common misconception.

  1. One set, to failure.

Instead of doing 2-3 sets, as many people do, maximize your effectiveness by doing just one, with heavy weights, until you can no longer keep the proper form. Lifting to “failure” doesn’t mean that you should lift the last few times with a wobbly or inefficient form.

  1. Compound exercises.

Instead of isolating your muscles with exercises such as the bicep curl, you can maximize the time you spend in a workout by doing exercises that work out multiple muscle groups at once. With just a few exercises, you could get a full-body workout. Another benefit is that your muscles are working together as they do in the real world, rather than alone. Some great compound exercises include squats, deadlifts, good mornings, lunges, pushups, bench presses, military presses, rows, pullups, dips, and more.

  1. Balance lifting.

Instead of having exercises where you’re sitting down or holding on to something or otherwise stabilized, it’s more effective to do them standing up, or on one leg, or on a Swiss exercise ball. These types of exercises force you to balance yourself while lifting, which brings your core muscles into play. This gives you a stronger overall body and allows you to lift more over time.

  1. Pick a cardio exercise you enjoy.

It’s no fun to exercise if you hate it. And you won’t keep it up for very long. Pick something that’s fun — running, walking, swimming, biking, hiking, rowing, stairmaster, etc. After the initial phase when you’re getting used to exercise, you’ll start to have a blast and look forward to it.

  1. Mix it up.

Don’t stick to the same workout routine for too long, or your body will adjust to the stress level and you won’t be getting an effective workout. For strength training, change your routine every few weeks. For cardio, it’s best to cross train rather than, say, to run every time.

  1. Good form.

For strength training especially, and swimming, form is very important, but it’s also important for other types of exercise. If you’re strength training, start with lighter weights so you can work on your form. It’s good to have an experienced spotter or trainer who knows good form to help you for the first month or so. Never sacrifice form for heavier weight. For swimming, you’ll need to get a coach to teach you form.

  1. Hills.

If you run or bike or walk for cardio, you’ll want to incorporate hills (after the first month or two of doing it at an easy pace on flat ground). These will make you stronger and make your limited workout time even more effective. Take them easy at first, but once you’re used to hills, you can get a good pace going. Either use a hilly route or do repeats on one hill.

  1. Circuits.

One mistake that people make is to do multiple sets of the same exercise without rest between the sets. This doesn’t allow your muscles to recover and it’s a waste of your workout. But instead of doing a set, resting, and then doing your second set, it’s more effective to move on to multiple exercises in a circuit, so that you don’t rest between exercises but do rest each muscle group. This will give you a good cardio workout while you do your strength training.

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11 Weight Loss Myths Explained

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been working out, it is pretty certain that you’ve come across some amazingly popular misconceptions. Some probably odd, some funny and others a little scary.

One great example that’s been floating around LA lately is that eating pasta al- dente was better because it had less calories than its softer counterpart – they would say just about anything to eat more carbs there, huh?

And then there was this news announcer on a very popular morning show that was seriously pushing eating a grapefruit before every meal, because it would make you lose weight. WHAT?! Oh, but those myths are out there. So here is a list of those 11 fitness myths and the truths (or not) behind them.

1. Do Pilates or Yoga for long lean muscles.

While I’m a huge fan of both Pilates and Yoga, this statement is simply not true. Your muscles are pre-determined and by the time you are finished growing that won’t change. What the exercises can do, is focus on your alignment and posture which gives the illusion of height and length. They also teach you to move more elegantly.

2. Lifting weights will make you bulky.

Women don’t have enough testosterone to get bulky. Lifting weights has so many benefits (think speeding up your metabolism) that you don’t want to eliminate it from your fitness routine. In fact, women should be lifting weights regularly.

3. One “cheat” day a week will help you stay on your diet plan.

We see this advice a lot, but in truth one cheat day can completely throw you off your game. Also, if you are struggling with weight loss then it won’t do you any favours. The better way to look at it is to have that snack or eat that slightly bigger meal if you really need it and then get back on track for the next one. Unless you are training for a specific competition (like a body building or fitness competition) where your diet is very restricted, one meal likely won’t matter but a whole day probably will.

4. Eliminate carbs if you want to lose weight

We’re not sure that you can eliminate carbs completely, as they are present in fruits and vegetables, but for the purpose of this post, perhaps the most important point is that they won’t make you gain weight. It’s all about balance. Eating the type of complex carbohydrate found in grains is a necessary component of a healthy diet. They improve digestion, give you energy and help with brain function. Unless you have an allergy or a specific medical condition, it’s never a good idea to eliminate any food group from a healthy diet.

5. Do crunches for a flat stomach.

The truth is that a flat stomach begins in the kitchen, because it’s all about eating clean. Add a variety of abdominal exercises that will work your whole core and that will go a long way to a nicely toned midsection. See the 5 Best Exercises To Torch Your Flabby Belly.

6. Cut back drastically on calories if you want to lose weight.

Sure, it’s important to cut back on calories, but if you eat too little, the weight loss won’t be permanent and you will do greater damage to your body than good. In fact, you may wind up gaining weight in the long run. Losing weight is all about the balance of eating enough healthy foods in contrast to the energy you burn everyday.

7. You can eat as much healthy food as you want.

A calorie is a calorie is a calorie, period. If you eat too much you will gain weight.

8. Low fat foods will help you lose weight.

As a consumer, you always need to be vigilant and blindly trusting labels is never a good idea. Oftentimes these “low fat” foods aren’t necessarily low in calories and are packed with chemicals, preservatives and artificial sweeteners that will do your body more harm than good. Sometimes it’s better to eat something that is full fat, but more natural and in a smaller amount than its low fat counterpart.

9. The more you sweat the better the workout.

Truth. Everyone is different and how much you sweat is dependent on your physiology and maybe the conditions in which you are working out (you will probably sweat more outside in the summer than in the winter). Your muscles expend a certain amount of energy and the more they expend the harder you are working out.

10. Doing lots of cardio is best for burning fat.

Absolutely, cardio is good for you and it will help with fat burn, but doing just cardio is not enough. In fact, interval training will increase fat burn more than a steady cardio session.

11. Exercise in the morning for the best workout.

It doesn’t really matter what time you workout. Different people find different times thier body performs the best – could be evening, night or mid-morning. Remember though that doing a high impact workout right before bed might impact your sleep patterns.

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10 Ways To Lose 5 Pounds In One Week (No Dieting Required)

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You don’t have to go on a crash diet in order to lose weight at a fast pace. There are plenty of healthy methods to losing weight, and employing any of the strategies below should yield you an impressive amount of weight loss.

There’s no need to do all ten at once, simply start with the one that resonates with you and implement those changes into your life until it seems effortless. It’s not about making the right choice, but making a choice and then making it right by sticking with it and not giving up if things don’t drastically change overnight. So pick one out and get started!

1. Eat 3 Meals Plus 2 Snacks

If you tend to skip breakfast, or have a tendency to overdo it at lunch or dinner, switching to 3 meals a day with two snacks will make all the difference. Time your snacks so that they see you through from breakfast to lunch, and from lunch to dinner. Resist the urge to eat after you’ve had dinner, as this can not only disrupt your sleep, but can be a problem for your digestive system as well.

You’ll find that many diet programs have you getting into the idea of eating multiple meals per day and smaller sizes at each, but really it’s just a matter of being strategic and making sure that you don’t run into a situation where you’re super hungry and haven’t planned out your next meal or snack and then grab anything just to appease your stomach.

2. Hydration Therapy (Drink More Water)

It’s easy to get dehydrated, and many of us are and don’t even realize it. Simply drinking more water has been shown to be an effective means of weight loss for many, as it can curb your hunger, and many times the signal for thirst is confused for hunger, so keeping a bottle of water nearby can be very helpful.

It’s also going to help your body flush toxins and other waste from your system, keeping your liver and your kidneys properly engaged. Being well hydrated also means you’ll have improved digestion, as your digestive organs suffer as well from a state of dehydration.

3. Get a Fitness Tracker

Getting an objective look at how much or how little you move per day can be the wake up call needed to spur on more activity. Today’s fitness trackers can record all sorts of data, including how many steps you take, how many stairs you take, and even how well you’re sleeping at night. this information is graphed and presented to you in easy to understand charts so that you can easily determine how good of a day or week you’ve had. You get instant gratification from trying to outdo your best performance, and some of the trackers out there actually make it into a game, translating your data into how high up a mountain you would have climbed.

4. Fill Your Plate with Superfoods

Start adding more and more of them to your daily meals. They are all designed to give your body all of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it needs, while keeping your fat and calories down so that you can feel energized and light, rather than sluggish and heavy. The upside to eating these types of foods is that they’re helping you live a longer, happier life, as well as the short term benefit of a slimmer waistline and increased energy. The neat trick of filling your plate with good foods is that they’re bumping bad foods out of the picture.

5. Start Playing a Sport

It’s hard to get the motivation to exercise and get active, and getting involved in a sport makes it more fun, and also adds some accountability if you play a team sport or find a buddy to play with. It can be most any sport really, but of course you’ll want to pick one that has you moving around a lot if you plan on losing 3 pounds a week until you reach your goal weight. When you have a race coming up, or a game coming up, it’s easier to motivate yourself to get practicing or get training, rather than just finding the individual motivation to go for a run or to go to the gym.

6. Cut Out Sugar

Cutting out sugar can be hard for many because it is so prevalent in our society. Many sugary candies are labeled fat free, which is technically true, except that the body turns that excess sugar into fat, so in essence sugar is making you fat, and is also wreaking havoc on your blood glucose levels, which can lead to complications if left unchecked. You don’t have to go completely off sugar forever, but going cold turkey is the best way to eradicate it from your life, lose weight effectively, and kick any cravings you have. Once you reach the weight you want you can reintroduce it into your diet in small amounts if you find that you even want it anymore.

7. Walk One Hour Every Day

If you change nothing else in your lifestyle and simply start walking for an hour per day, you’ll see your weight reach its natural healthy level in no time at all. This doesn’t have to be a brisk walk either, you can simply go at a relaxing pace, but be sure you go for an hour. Take your walk outdoors in the sunshine for best results, although a treadmill can be used on rainy days. This is a great time to listen to audiobooks, or your favorite tunes to feel good, get your body moving, all in a low impact exercise that’s the most natural in the world.

8. Start Doing Yoga

Yoga is a great exercise for those that want to increase the mobility in their life, achieve an inner state of joy, and also to work up a sweat. You are stretching out the body, increasing flexibility, and allowing it to perform better, all in one activity. You can start off with whichever poses you find that you’re able to do, and work your way up to more complicated ones. It’s something you can practice just about anywhere, and the combination of stretching, strength training, and cardio is sure to help you shed the pounds. The nice part about yoga is that it’s very natural, so you’re not forcing the body to do things it wasn’t meant to do.

9. Cut Off Junk Food and Fast Food

It’s really hard to get rid of the junk food that surrounds us each day, but breaking this habit can do wonders for your health and wellbeing and is sure to show dividends when you do your weekly weigh-in. Not only is there no nutritional benefit from eating junk food, hence the name, but it also makes you feel lethargic and makes you less likely to engage in any sort of exercise. By cooking yourself real food you are able to have quality control over what is going into your body, and you’ll be cutting out things like trans fat, partially hydrogenated oils, MSG, and other nasties that can really make a mess of your internal organs, and the way you feel overall.

10. Build Lean Muscle

Building lean muscle is a way to increase your metabolism so you’re burning more calories each day, which in essence will help you lose the pounds. Be aware that when you start shifting your body structure so that it has less fat, and more muscle, you might not see much of a difference on the scale. When losing pounds you want to make sure that you’re tracking the right pounds, as a pound of muscle gained in exchange for losing a pound of fat will make a huge difference to your health, while showing no change on the scale. Get a scale that also measures your body fat percentage so that you can get an accurate reading on the progress you’re making.

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10 Ways To Avoid the Dreadful Autumn Belly

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Make the Most Out of Fall! Here are 10 ways to start making the most of the season. And who knows? This year, you might be in great shape before that New Year’s Eve party rolls around.

1. Take advantage of the weather.

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Fall can be a treat for the senses: the crisp air, apple picking, pumpkin carving, a gorgeous canopy of fall foliage, and the crunch of leaves underfoot. These months are a great time to exercise outdoors and enjoy cooler temperatures. Walking, hiking and cycling, for example, are all awesome in the fall.

Discover park trails and take in some new scenery, whether you’re walking, biking, or in-line skating, he suggests.

In places where snow falls early, try cross country skiing or snowshoeing. Or, if you live near the beach, get out and play volleyball, throw the Frisbee around, or play a vigorous game of fetch with your dog.

Fall a great time to do beach activities because it’s so much less crowded.

If you’re near a lake, try kayaking or canoeing, for an excellent whole-body workout and a great change of pace.

And remember, it doesn’t have to seem like exercise to be a great workout. Raking leaves or doing some fall outdoor yard work is a great way to get the heart pumping, and it’s great calorie-burning.

2. Think outside the box.

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Always wanted to learn to tap dance? Attempt to box? Master the jump rope? Ask any schoolchild: Fall is a great time to learn something new.

Many classes at gyms and elsewhere get started in the fall, so look around and see if something intrigues you.

And with the kids in school, parents have more time to check out those classes.

Fall is the perfect time to gain new physical skills because you burn fewer calories when you begin a new activity (thanks to the learning curve). If you learn something new now, by next summer, you’ll have mastered the skill — and you’ll burn more calories doing it, just in time for swimsuit season.

3. Be an active TV watcher.

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Many people get geared up for fall premieres of their favorite television shows, says Freytag. If you’re going to sit down and watch hours of TV, get moving – make a date with exercise and TV.

While you watch, you can walk or run in place, do standing lunges, do tricep dips off the couch, or lift weights. During commercials, do push-ups or sit-ups. In a one-hour show, you probably have close to 20 minutes worth of commercial interruption.

4. Integrate exercise into your life.

You already know the obvious suggestions: park farther away from your destination; take stairs instead of elevators; take a walk during your lunch break.

Here are a few that are less obvious:

  • If you’re spending the afternoon taking kids to soccer practice, instead of reading a book or visiting with another parent, walk around the outside of the field while they practice, or (if you feel comfortable) warm up and cool down with the kids.
  • Try “walking meetings” with your colleagues.
  • You can even get moving while you get motivated — for fitness or other life goals. Get some inspirational music or find a motivational talk and download it to your iPod. Walk while you listen for 30 minutes.

5. Rejuvenate yourself.

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Fall is the time to rejuvenate body, mind and spirit. Get a massage after your run. Learn to meditate. Take an art class. Treat yourself not just with exercise but other activities that promote wellness so you can feel good physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

6. Remember the 30-day rule.

It takes about four weeks for the body to adapt to lifestyle changes. That’s why people who give up on their fitness programs tend to do so within the first 30 days.

So, when the alarm goes off in the morning and it’s darker and colder, don’t roll over and hit the snooze button. Try to stick with a program for a month. After a month, behavior patterns will have adapted and it will be much easier to stick with it after that.

7. Strive for the 3 Cs.

The 3Cs are – commitment, convenience, and consistency.

First, exercise takes commitment. You have to start planning exercise, just like you do everything else. Put in on the calendar, because later always turns into never.

Convenience means choosing a gym that’s close by, or an activity you can do at home, or a time when you’re not likely to be interrupted.

Finally, there’s consistency. You rather work out for 10 minutes a day rather than one hour every month.

8. Deal with darkness.

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The best way to enjoy fall is to exercise outdoors. But it is getting darker earlier, and staying dark later in the morning, so be smart and safe.

Just because it’s 6 p.m. (or a.m.) and dark doesn’t mean you can’t work out. If walking or running outdoors wear a reflective vest and carry a flashlight.

When cycling, affix a light to your helmet or bike. If possible, use trails or a local school track to avoid vehicle traffic. Try to work out at the same time every day, so drivers get used to seeing you.

9. Dress in layers.

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When exercising outside, layer your clothing. Before your body warms up, you may feel chilled, but once the blood gets pumping, you’ll feel overdressed.

Three-Layer Rule: The inner layer should be a moisture-wicking fabric, so it wicks away sweat and you’re not chilled. The second layer should be a warmth layer, and the third layer should be a protective layer (like a windbreaker or rain slicker, depending on the weather).

Don’t forget the sunglasses! UV protection is important year round. Fall sun can be blinding at certain times of the day.

10. Find your motivation.

People are motivated by different things. It’s important to first discover what your individual goals are, whether it’s losing weight, strengthening and toning, or preparing for a race or event.

But goals aren’t enough to get you there; you have to be motivated by the day-to-day workouts. So choose something you’ll enjoy doing and will be likely to keep up, whether it’s walking or hiking with a friend, working with a trainer, or taking part in a “boot camp” class.

Creating a challenge for yourself will motivate you, as will encouragement and accountability. You want to know when you’re doing a good job, and when you’re not.

Remember too, that anything worth having takes work.

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10 Natural Ways To Get Rid Of Belly Fat

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If you’re wondering how to burn belly fat and have even considered taking diet pills or fat burners, you should try to do it the all natural way before taking extreme measures. It’s not really natural for us to carry all that weight on our midsections, so getting back to a more natural state is one sure way to watch the fat go away, almost as a byproduct of our actions. It doesn’t have to be an all out war to kill your stomach fat. Just make these 10 all-natural adjustments and it should effortlessly come off.

1. Drink More Water

This is perhaps the most easiest and effortless way to lose belly fat, and it’s a problem for countless Americans. There is a dehydration epidemic going on, and if we all just drank more water, and got closer to the amount that we actually need each day, there would be less obesity, fewer digestive problems, and more people that are awake and alert throughout the day. But here’s the kicker: because it’s only involves drinking water it’s pretty easy, and easy things are easy to forget to do. If you’re conditioned to not drink enough water it can be pretty tough to make a change. But stick with it and soon you’ll reach new levels of hydration and reduced levels of belly fat.

2. Aim for Total Body Fat

Trying to spot treat your stomach fat is one sure way to drive yourself up the wall. It may be the one area that you really care about the most, but you have to trust that if you aim for overall body fat loss, the stomach fat will have to go at some point too. Fixating on a trouble spot is one way to keep it around for the long term, because what we put our focus on grows. A problem is only as hard as we make it out to be, so if you’re constantly thinking that your belly fat is the hardest thing to get rid of, you’ll prove yourself right time and time again.

Get a scale that measures your body fat percentage and aim to get that down to a level that is right for your gender. Keep this in mind: if you want to see your abs guys will have to get to around 10% body fat, while women need to get below 19% or so.

3. Get Sound Sleep

This is perhaps the easiest and hardest thing to do for most of us. Doing things in your sleep can’t get much easier, but finding the time in our busy lives to get more sleep can be a challenge. The real struggle is that your deepest and most cleansing sleep comes from getting to bed earlier in the evening. For most that is just not an option, and others are so entrenched in their late nights that they can’t fathom going to bed at 10pm or earlier. But science has repeatedly shown the link between getting deep sleep on a consistent basis and having less belly fat. You’ll be stressed out less, and you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to greet the day, with more energy throughout the day. The body also repairs itself at night, so you’re helping yourself in many different ways just by snoozing.

4. Do High Intensity Interval Training

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is where you go hard out for anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute, followed by periods of rest where you go very low intensity. The beauty of this aerobic workout is that you spend a fraction of the time but the theory is that you’re getting results from this workout that last long into the next day. They say that if you spend 40 minutes on a stationary bike just doing a low intensity aerobic workout, you’re only burning fat during that 40 minutes. But with an HIIT workout lasting only 10-20 minutes you end up burning fat the entire day, and long after you’ve finished the workout.

The process is pretty particular, so you’ll need to study up on it. It involves getting your heart rate up to a certain level during the high intensity parts, and getting it back down during the low intensity parts, so you’ll need to get a heart rate monitor to effectively do this.

5. Mind Your Vitamins

It’s hard to make the connection between your belly fat and a vitamin deficiency, but there’s a high chance that if you’re struggling to lose fat you may be running short on several key vitamins needed for fat loss. The first of these is Vitamin D, often referred to as the Happy Vitamin. Feeling good is key to losing fat of all types, and if you don’t have sufficient amounts of Vitamin D you could be inhibiting your ability to feel good and feel like being active. The key is getting more exposure to sunlight so that your body can make its own supply. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re taking in enough natural sources of vitamins so that your body has all of the building blocks it needs to function at its best.

You should be eating foods high in Vitamin C, as well as Vitamin E if you want to give yourself the best shot at losing that stubborn fat. It’s best to get these vitamins from the foods you eat, rather than using a multivitamin, but if you find that you need to fill in the gaps go with a whole foods multivitamin, since it will be using food sources rather than using synthetic vitamins.

6. Get Healthy Fats Into Your System

Thanks to the no-fat and low-fat craze of the 90s and into the 2000s you’ll still find plenty of low and nonfat items at the grocery store. This instilled the wrong view on fats and labeled all fats as bad. But the body needs healthy fat in order to burn fat, so if you’ve taken to cutting out fat in your diet, it’s time to let some of it back in. Go for foods that contain high levels of the fats we’re after: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. The fat you want to continue to keep out is the saturated fat. Good sources of healthy fats include avocados, olive oil, salmon, and peanut butter. These foods will actually help your fat loss efforts, so don’t be afraid of them.

 7. Avoid the Unnatural

Our modern world presents us with many things that just aren’t natural for the human body to have to deal with. Large portion sizes, sedentary lifestyles, high levels of stress, massive amounts of entertainment to keep us glued to our couches, and tons of pollution in many major cities all contribute to the condition we find our bodies in. The more you can fight against these unnatural items, but better. Make sure you get some daily activity, because that’s natural for us. Feed your body plenty of fruits and vegetables, because that’s a very natural thing for a human to do. Limit the amount of TV you watch, and take time to just decompress and get in touch with your inner self. Cut out unnatural substances like fast food and junk food. They don’t do you any favors and are contributing to the unnatural shape you’ve taken on.

You don’t have to become a monk or anything, but if you just unplug from the grid for a bit each day you’ll see how unnatural our world has become, and you’ll see the link between your body and the lifestyle that the masses subscribe to.

8. Cut Back on Alcohol

Alcohol of all types is full of sugar, and sugar leads to fat. If you’ve managed to cut the sugar out of your life but still indulge in regular alcoholic beverages, you could be sabotaging yourself and not even know it. You may see a study now and then that says one alcoholic drink a day is good for the body because it helps you relax, or it thins the blood. But what those studies don’t talk about is the cumulative effect that has on the body, and whether or not you’d be better off in the stomach area by not having that drink each day.

9. Drink Herbal Teas

Herbal teas are about as natural as it gets, often using spices and herbs that have been proven to speed up the metabolism, cleanse the body’s internal organs, or reduce stress. You can also consider drinking green tea, as it contains EGCG, but not as much as green tea extract, which may be a better way to go and is still considered a natural way to lose fat. Really anything that helps to calm the body is going to help you lose fat, so you can choose an array of different teas to enjoy throughout the day, and if you replace sodas, juices, and other sugary beverages with herbals teas you’re sure to notice a difference in the near future.

10. Be Persistent

Your belly fat only wins when you give up on getting rid of it. Being persistent is a very natural trait. Nature is very persistent, time keeps on going no matter what, and over time if you neglect your belly fat the problem will only get worse. That’s why it’s good to be just as persistent as nature, and take steps each day to eat the right foods, get a bit of activity, be happy, and nourish yourself. As you do these little things each day, they will accumulate as more and more time passes. It’s natural for things to take time to work, which is why you want to avoid fast track promises and gimmicks to lose belly fat, because in all likelihood it will just backfire and you’ll be back at square one trying to start all over again.

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10 Diet Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

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If your favorite pair of jeans won’t fit, the scale seems stuck, or your weight drops off only to bounce back up, there’s a chance you could be making one of these 10 weight loss mistakes. Don’t let these mistakes hold you back.

1. Relying on Crash Diets

Determined to lose 10 pounds fast, you turn to a crash diet. Perhaps your plan calls for nothing but grapefruit or cabbage soup each day. You slash your daily calories to fewer than 1,000, and sure enough, the pounds melt away. But when you eat so few calories, you train your metabolism to slow down. Once the diet is over, you have a body that burns calories more slowly, and you usually regain the weight.

2. Skipping Breakfast

Skipping breakfast seems like a simple way to cut calories, but it can make you hungry the rest of the day. This may lead to unplanned snacking at work and eating a supersized portion at lunch, making calorie counts soar. But breakfasts that are high in protein and fiber can curb hunger throughout the day. In fact, studies show people who eat breakfast every morning are more likely to maintain a healthy weight.

3. Losing Track of Your Snacks

Maybe you count calories at every meal, but what about all those nibbles in between? There’s the bag of pretzels at your desk, the little slice of cake at a party, the taste of your son’s ice cream cone. All of this mindless munching adds up and could sabotage an otherwise well-planned diet. If you’re serious about counting calories, you may want to use your smartphone or a notebook to keep track of each bite.

4. Not Snacking at All

While mindless snacking can pad your waistline, thoughtful snacking may do just the opposite. People who eat several small meals and snacks a day are more likely to control hunger and lose weight. Snacking helps keep your metabolism in high gear, especially if the snacks are protein-rich. Having a few nuts is a good, high-protein choice, and research suggests people who snack on nuts tend to be slimmer than those who don’t.

5. Loading Up on Low-Fat

Low-fat products can play an important role in your diet. Just remember that low-fat isn’t the same as low-calorie, and it’s not a license to take second and third helpings. If you pile your plate with low-fat cake, you may end up eating more calories than if you had a smaller slice of regular cake. The best way to know how much fat, sugar, and calories you’re getting is to check the nutritional label.

6. Sipping Too Many Calories

When counting calories, many of us tend to overlook what’s in our drinks. This is a big mistake when you consider that some fancy coffees and alcoholic beverages have more than 500 calories. Even the calories in fruit juice and soda can add up quickly. What’s worse is that liquid calories don’t curb hunger. You’re not going to eat any less after a high-calorie drink.

7. Drinking Too Little Water

This is one of the simplest diet mistakes to fix. Water is essential for burning calories. If you let yourself get dehydrated, your metabolism drags, and that means slower weight loss. So try adding a glass of water to every meal and snack.

8. Ditching Dairy

Full-fat milk, cheese, and ice cream are taboo for many dieters, but ditching dairy foods may be counterproductive. Some research suggests the body burns more fat when it gets enough calcium and produces more fat when it’s calcium-deprived. Calcium supplements do not appear to yield the same benefits, so dairy may have other things going for it, too. Stick to nonfat or low-fat dairy options.

9. Going Drive-Thru Too Often

The drive-thru is convenient after a hectic day, and you can always order the salad or other healthier option. But once you’re there, can you resist that milkshake or other treat? And if you allow yourself the ease of fast food once, it could become a habit. According to one long-term study, people who ate fast food more than twice a week gained 10 more pounds than those who had it less than once a week.

10. Setting Unrealistic Goals

Telling yourself you’ll lose 20 pounds your first week is probably setting yourself up for failure. If you know you won’t be able to do it, you may never start your diet in the first place. If you diet and lose 5 pounds in a week, instead of celebrating, you may feel discouraged that you didn’t reach your goal. A realistic goal is vital to successful dieting. If you’re not sure what your goal should be, talk to a dietitian.

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9 Strategies For Fast And Healthy Weight Loss

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I recently had a really good girlfriend preparing for an upcoming trip to Fiji, where — get this — her husband’s ex-wife will be staying nearby (it’s because of their mutual children, etc, etc,). So my girlfriend needed a swimsuit-perfect body (where she can show-off in skimpy bikini) in just three weeks, which isn’t a lot of time.

Like my girlfriend, you may have a vacation scheduled, or maybe you just want to get into your skinny jeans – what both of you need is accelerated fat loss.

Here are 9 strategies that will give you those weight loss results quickly and safely:

1. Eliminate gluten from you diet.

One recent study found a gluten-free diet helps reduce inflammation, insulin resistance, and your waistline. And no, that does not mean replacing your favorite junk foods with gluten-free equivalents.

2. Swap out two meals a day for a protein shake.

One meta-analysis showed a meal replacement shake helps people lose fat and keep it off better. Blend non-soy, nondairy plant-based or defatted beef protein powder with raspberries, avocado, kale or other leafy greens, freshly ground flaxseed, and unsweetened coconut or almond milk.

3. Limit fruit to one cup of berries or cherries a day.

Fruit can be a part of a healthy fat-loss plan, but too much can stall fat loss. One study found excess fructose — the main sweetener in many fruits — could create leptin resistance and weight gain. Leptin tells your brain to stop eating, but when your brain becomes resistant to this hormone’s call, you’re more prone to eat seconds.

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4. Swap your starchy carb for another green vegetable.

Leafy and cruciferous veggies give you way more fiber, nutrient, and antioxidant bang for fewer calories compared with potatoes, rice, and other starchy carbohydrates.

5. Increase your fiber gradually.

Epidemiological studies show higher fiber intake is associated with lower body weight. High-fiber fat-burning foods include avocado, raspberries, lentils and other legumes, and quinoa.

6. Try this appetite-curbing trick.

About 30 to 60 minutes before meals, add a few teaspoons of freshly ground flaxseed or a fiber-blend supplement powder to a tall glass of water.

7. Get at least 7 (but more like 9) hours of high-quality sleep.

I recently wrote about why too little sleep can knock your fat-burning hormones out of whack. Insufficient sleep also makes you more likely to sheepishly order a low-fat banana nut muffin with your morning caffeine jolt.

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8. Burst to blast fat.

Exercise you can do in minutes that makes you an all-day fat-burning machine? That’s burst training, or “repeatedly exercising at a high intensity for 30 seconds to several minutes, separated by 1-5 minutes of recovery.” One study assigned young adults to either a 20-week endurance training or 15-week burst-training program. The burst-training group had “significantly greater” fat loss than the endurance trainers.

9. De-stress.

A five-year study with over 5,000 participants concluded what you already know: “Psychosocial stress, including both perceived stress and life events stress, was positively associated with weight gain but not weight loss.” Meditate, breathe deeply, get a massage, or walk your dog around the block. Figure out what works for you to manage stress and do it.

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9 Simple Ways To Lose 20 Pounds (Without Working Out)

Chrissy Teigen for ESQUIRE  September 2014 PHOTO CREDIT: Chris Fortuna

aerobics class without ever setting foot in a gym or snapping on spandex. It’s so easy. In fact, you probably did it at one time.

Remember when you had to walk into the gas station to pay? When delivery pizza wasn’t an option? When you mowed your own lawn? When you had to get off the couch to change the channel? These are just a few of the tasks that are becoming obsolete and depriving us of physical activity. If you add up all the extra calories you could burn just from doing a few things that involve actually moving, you could lose up to 20 pounds in a year!

If you’re using all that extra free time to take long walks, ride your bike, or in some way regularly exercise—great. But let’s be realistic: Most of us are spending those hours sitting in a car or slouched in front of a computer or TV or worst yet, standing in a corner of a bar playing with your smartphone.

Most people don’t realize how very sedentary their life has become. A major and often unrecognized reason for the widening waistlines of Americans is this gradual ratcheting down of daily life activity. The average adult expends about 300 to 700 fewer calories per day than her parents did.

The good news is that adding simple activity back into your daily life is an easy, effective way to shape up, burn calories, and get healthy. A Cooper Institute study found that lifestyle activities such as climbing stairs and parking your car in the farthest space offer benefits similar to those gained in a gym workout.

Here are 9 simple ways to bump up your activity level and burn calories.

1. Take yourself off cruise control.

Increase the intensity of your everyday tasks, from vacuuming to walking the dog. Turn on some music, add in some vigorous bursts, and enjoy the movement.

2. Step up and then step down.

Climbing stairs is a great leg strengthener, because you’re lifting your body weight against gravity. In addition to taking the stairs at every opportunity, try stepping up and down on the curb while you’re waiting for the bus or filling your gas tank.

3. Put a pen between your shoulder blades.

You’ll burn calories and look thinner when you stand tall. To improve posture, perform the following shoulder girdle crunch: Stand or sit with your arms relaxed at your sides, palms facing forward. Visualize a pen placed vertically between your shoulder blades, and squeeze them together as if you were trying to hold the pen in place. Hold for a count of 6, relax, and repeat 12 times.

4. Think of bags as dumbbells.

When you let someone else load your groceries or carry your suitcase, you’re missing a great opportunity for strengthening and calorie burning. Carry your groceries, balanced with a bag in each hand, even if you have to make several trips. And pack two smaller suitcases instead of one big one, so you can carry them yourself.

5. Have a ball.

Replace your desk chair with a giant exercise ball. You have to engage the core muscles to maintain stability, so you’re getting a great workout right at your desk.

6. Go the distance.

Stop using the closest rest room, parking space, or vending machine. Get in the habit of taking the longest route to the rest room (on a different floor, if that’s possible) and climb stairs to get there.

7. Do chair-robics.

Set a timer to ring hourly. When it goes off, stand up, and sit down slowly four times. This will boost circulation and give you a nice stretch, and you’ll be doing 4 squats an hour, or 32 a day. That’s a great way to strengthen your lower body.

8. Play waiting games.

Don’t just sit there while your computer is downloading or the copier is collating. Do a stretch (place both hands behind your head, open your elbows, and lean back), try balancing on one leg, or do a few buttocks squeezes.

9. Other little ways to burn more calories.

  • Gardening and Mowing
  • Wash and wax your car instead of going to a car wash
  • Shop at the mall instead of online
  • Vacuum and iron instead of a cleaning service
  • Walk the dog for 30 minutes, not just letting her out the back door
  • Skip the drive-thru window – Park and walk inside
  • Rake leaves, do not use a blower
  • Walk to the bus stop instead of asking for a ride
  • Stand while talking on the phone
  • Walk up three flights of stairs, do not use the elevator or escalators
  • Wash and chop vegetables, do not buy pre-packaged, pre sliced boxes
  • Park in the first spot you see, don’t find the closest one

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9 Foods To Help You Lose Weight

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The best way to achieve a flat stomach is through a healthy, low-calorie diet and plenty of exercise. But if you want to speed the process along, try incorporating some of these foods into your meals. Not only do they relieve water retention, but they also help to stave off cravings, boost your metabolism and keep you feeling fuller for longer, which is always a bonus.

1. Beans

Inexpensive, filling, and versatile, beans are a great source of protein. Beans are also high in fiber and slow to digest. That means you feel full longer, which may stop you from eating more.

2. Soup

Start a meal with a cup of soup, and you may end up eating less. It doesn’t matter if the soup is chunky or pureed, as long as it’s broth-based. You want to keep the soup to 100 to 150 calories a serving. So skip the dollops of cream and butter.

3. Dark Chocolate

Want to enjoy chocolate between meals? Pick a square or two of dark over the milky version. In one study, chocolate lovers who were given dark chocolate ate 15% less pizza a few hours later than those who had eaten milk chocolate.

4. Pureed Vegetables

You can add more veggies to your diet, enjoy your “cheat” foods, and cut back on the calories you’re eating, all at the same time. When Penn State researchers added pureed cauliflower and zucchini to mac and cheese, people seemed to like the dish just as much. But they ate 200 to 350 fewer calories. Those healthy vegetables added low-cal bulk to the tasty dish.

5. Eggs and Sausage, and maybe bacon?

A protein-rich breakfast may help you resist snack attacks throughout the day. In a study of a group of obese young women, those who started the day with 35 grams of protein — that’s probably way more than you’re eating — felt fuller right away. The women ate a 350-calorie breakfast that included eggs and a beef sausage patty (and sometimes bacon). The effect of the high-protein breakfast seemed to last into the evening, when the women munched less on fatty, sugary goods than the women who had cereal for breakfast.

6. Nuts

For a great snack on the run, take a small handful of almonds, peanuts, walnuts, or pecans. Research shows that when people munch on nuts, they automatically eat less at later meals.

7. Apples

Skip the apple juice and the applesauce and opt instead for a crunchy apple. Whole fruit blunts appetite in a way that fruit juices and sauces don’t. One reason is that raw fruit has more fiber. Plus, chewing sends signals to your brain that you’ve eaten something substantial.

8. Yogurt

Whether you prefer Greek or traditional, yogurt can be good for your waistline. A Harvard study followed more than 120,000 people for a decade or longer. Yogurt, of all the foods that were tracked, was most closely linked to weight loss. That doesn’t prove that yogurt caused weight loss, but it stood out among other foods.

9. Grapefruit

Yes, grapefruit really can help you shed pounds, especially if you are at risk for diabetes. Researchers at Scripps Clinic in San Diego found that when obese people ate half a grapefruit before each meal, they dropped an average of 3 ½ pounds over 12 weeks. Drinking grapefruit juice had the same results. But grapefruit juice doesn’t have any proven “fat-burning” properties — it may just have helped people feel full.

Be careful: You cannot have grapefruit or grapefruit juice if you are on certain medications, so check the label on all your prescriptions, or ask your pharmacist or doctor.

Remember to Shop Smart

Load your shopping cart with lots of lean protein, fresh veggies, fruit, and whole grains. The most important thing, when it comes to lasting weight loss, is the big picture of what you eat, not specific foods.

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7 Ways To Enjoy the Food You Love While Dieting

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Who says you have to deprive yourself of all deliciousness to stay fit? You can enjoy foods you love without adding pounds. Here’s how to pull it off:

1. Eat treats

Allow for two mouth-watering, indulgent sweets each week. And focus on quality—a scoop of really great real ice cream, a rich cookie or coffee drink. Budget about 200 to 300 calories for each.

2. Dine Out

Give yourself two nice “splurge” meals a week. This is your time to have the non-diet foods you thought were completely off limits—such as slices at your favorite pizzeria, or a filet with mashed potatoes. The only caveat: Use portion control. Limit yourself to two small slices of pizza with a side salad, order small cuts of meat, and eat just half of creamy, cheesy sides.

3. Limit your alcohol

You can still enjoy wine, beer, or a Cosmopolitan—but you’ll need to cut back if you’re trying to lose a pound or two a week. Figure out your weekly average, and cut that by one-fourth; that’s your maximum number of drinks each week.

4. Savor Some Chocolate

You can enjoy some every single day: Have two or three tasting squares—about 75 calories worth of chocolate. And buy the really good stuff. Choose great-tasting chocolate, and you’ll be able to eat smaller amounts and be satisfied.

5. Add to Your Salad

With all the extra toppings, restaurant salads can easily add up to 700, 800, even 900 calories. But who wants a bowl of naked lettuce? Instead, load a plate (not a bowl) with dark greens, some protein to fill you, and whatever fresh fruit and veggies you like. Cheat by adding two or three one-tablespoon servings of the fattening stuff (dried fruit, nuts, seeds, cheese, bacon crumbles, croutons, fried tortilla strips, or avocado). Dress your salad with one tablespoon of a real vinaigrette or oil and vinegar—fat helps satisfy you and unlocks some nutrients in your salad. Now, dig in.

6. Dig into the breadbasket

If bread is your weakness, eat the best: If the basket on the table is filled with stale, cold slices or squishy sandwich-style stuff, you’ve got a good reason to ask the waiter to take it away: That bread won’t make you happy. But when you’re offered a hearty, artisan loaf with a dense texture and crisp crust, treat yourself to a small slice. Gild it with a teaspoon of olive oil or butter and enjoy every wonderful bite.

7. Plan Your Food Attack

No need to camp out by the crudités during a party. Scan the buffet, making note of your favorite hors d’oeuvres. Go back, and choose only two or three higher-calorie appetizers. (Want chips and dip? Count out seven chips, and dip—don’t scoop—into the guacamole.) Fill up on veggies and fresh fruit, and save room for one sweet treat at the end. You deserve it!

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