9 Really Simple Ways To Be Healthy And Happy

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

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

  1. Get outside.

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

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

  1. Do some green exercise.

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

  1. Enjoy some sunshine (with safe sunscreen).

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

  1. Eat wild.

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

  1. Sleep luxuriously.

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

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

  1. Hydrate.

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

  1. Have fun with your friends.

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

  1. Get dirty.

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

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

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8 Mental Tricks To Get The Most Out Of Your Workout

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

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

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

1. It’s Not About Burning Calories

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

2. Repeat After Me: Exercise Is Fun

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

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

3. Reward Yourself

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

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

4. Make It a Competition

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

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

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

5. Visualize

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

6. Break Up Your Goal

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

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

7. Crank Up the Beats

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

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

8. Come Up With a Mantra

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

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

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7 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Workout

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

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4 Reasons To Get Strong This Summer

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Memorial Day is right around the corner and that means one thing: summer is almost here. But rather than just trying to lose weight and get skinny for beach season, this summer I’d urge you to focus on getting strong — and healthy instead.

Here are four reasons to get strong (not skinny!) for summer:

  1. For a feeling of empowerment.

There’s no doubt about it, getting stronger and feeling like you’re improving and crushing your workouts helps you feel like you can do anything you put your mind to.

Just a few years ago, I rarely exercised and could barely do a single push up, let alone more difficult exercises like pull ups and one legged squats. I felt weak, lost, and hopeless in so many areas of my life. Today, I can bust out pull ups, do handstands and complete 100 burpees in nearly six minutes flat — and I’ve never felt more empowered.

Because the truth is that getting stronger and making improvements in your fitness will more likely than not translate to other areas of your life like career, relationships and overall self-confidence.

  1. For increased energy.

Who among us doesn’t want more energy so we can accomplish more during the day, have more fun and go after their dreams on a regular basis? I know I do.

Getting stronger through your workouts and fueling your body the right way send your energy levels through the roof so you’ll be able to accomplish all the awesome things you want to do. On the contrary, losing weight by simply eating less will leave you with lower energy levels (and will probably negatively affect your mood as well).

  1. Because muscle burns more calories.

Focusing on building muscle rather than just getting skinny means your body will actually burn more calories, helping you to lose more body fat and get leaner much faster than depriving your body of food. Plus, increased muscle means you can actually eat more without gaining weight — great news for all the food lovers among us!

  1. For long-term health.
    Putting an emphasis on strong rather than skinny helps to keep your body healthy and fit as you get older so you can still do all your favorite hobbies and activities, and keep up with your kids and grandkids as you age. So make it a goal to build more muscle and get stronger now, and keep your metabolism running high for life!

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2 Simple Reasons Why Women Should Strength Train For Weight Loss

When it comes to weight loss, most people are aware of the benefits of cardio and diet for reaching their goals.  Many people, especially women, seem to neglect adding strength training to their regimens.
When I talk to women about strength training and weight loss, the most common thing I hear is, “I just want to tone/lose weight, I don’t want to get bulky”. Although this is a very common thought among women, it really is just a myth.
Fears of Bulking Up are Overblown
Many women have seen pictures of professional female bodybuilders, and get the idea that if they start lifting weights that they are going to have bulging biceps, and this just isn’t true.
Testosterone is the main hormone responsible for increased muscle mass, and women just don’t have the testosterone levels to “get bulky” without the use of drugs, steroids, and an intense supplementation program. In addition to that, it takes these women years of intense training to get where they are.
When I first started my weight loss journey, I was concerned about how strength training would change my body. I wanted to be strong, but I didn’t want to appear masculine. After doing some research, I learned how beneficial strength training was.
In the past year, I have really gotten in to strength training and lifting weights. I have put most of my focus on gaining muscle with the hopes of competing in a figure competition, and I have discovered how difficult gaining muscle mass really is.
I now lift the heaviest weights I can five days a week, and am on a supplement program that is specifically designed to help me build muscle.  The progress is slow, and I often wish that it was as easy as I used to think it would be.
Turn Your Body Into A Fat Burning Machine
Even if you aren’t ready to start curling thirty pound dumbbells, adding strength training to your program will be extremely beneficial for your weight loss as well as your general health.
Why You Should Strength Train
1. Elevate Metabolism
The first reason that strength training should be added is because strength training has been shown to elevate your metabolism for up to 38 hours after you are done. That means that even after you stop strength training, you are still burning calories.
However, with cardio, the increased calorie burn practically stops as soon as you are done with the exercise. Additionally, the more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism is – even when you’re not being active. In a day, one pound of muscle burns approximately 5.67 calories, whereas a pound of fat only burns approximately 1.98 calories.
2. Retain Muscle Mass
Another reason that strength training is important is because when you get on the scale and see that you have lost 2 pounds, that doesn’t mean it is all fat. Some may be fat, but you can also be losing muscle.
Seeing as most people’s goals are fat loss, adding some kind of strength training will help you to retain more muscle. In addition to that, adding strength training can help with bone health, decreasing the risk of osteoporosis, and improve one’s mood.
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Overall, strength training has many benefits and can yield better results than diet and cardio alone. If you still hesitate to strength train because you don’t feel like you know what you are doing, schedule an appointment with a personal trainer. They will show you the equipment, how to set it up, how to use it, and how to properly perform exercises.
If that isn’t an option, you can do research online. Research strength training exercises for beginners or read a fitness magazine. Lastly, understand that people at the gym are not going to make fun of you just because you are starting out, because we were all there once.

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No Squats Belly, Butt and Thighs Workout

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The newest way to shape up your belly, butt, and thighs without stressing your joints: Flip your workout upside down!

These five moves only use one piece of equipment you’re sure to have in your home—a wall. You’ll isolate the tough-to-reach muscles that pull in your belly, lift your backside, and trim your thighs.

The perfect complement to weight-bearing exercises such as walking, inverted moves use gravity to naturally boost circulation and provide an instant energizing rush. They also give your knees and hips a break from the pounding of upright life.

Perform the following routine barefoot 4 or 5 times a week. Do 10 slow, controlled reps of each move. For faster results, do 2 sets of each exercise and add at least 30 minutes of cardio most days of the week.

1. Wall Bridge

Lie on your back with your butt against the wall and arms at your sides. Bend your knees and plant your feet 3 to 4 feet up the wall. Raise your lower and middle back off floor, keeping your shoulder blades on the ground. Hold for a deep inhale, then exhale and slowly return to the starting position.

MAKE IT HARDER


Cross your right ankle over your left knee so that only your left foot is on wall.

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Don’t use the wall. Keep your feet flat on floor as you lift into a bridge.

2. Windshield Wipers

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Lie faceup on the floor with your legs against a wall, the bottoms of your feet facing the ceiling. Slowly lower your left leg down the wall like a clock arm toward 9 o’clock, then return to the starting position. Repeat with right leg, sweeping toward 3 o’clock. Continue to alternate legs until you’ve completed all of the reps.

MAKE IT HARDER

Wrap an elastic exercise band around your left foot. Hold both ends at your right hip for added resistance as you sweep your left foot down the wall. Do all reps, then switch legs and repeat.

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Move your butt 3 to 6 inches away from the wall while performing the move.

3. Toe Reach

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Lie on the floor with your heels pressed against the wall, your legs straight. Reach your right hand toward your left foot, allowing your right shoulder to raise off the floor. Return to the starting position. Repeat with your left hand and right foot. Continue to alternate until you’ve completed all reps.

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Perform the exercise with your feet stacked toe to heel.

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Reach toward your knees.

4. Wall Scissor

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Begin with your butt close to the wall, knees bent, and your feet planted on the wall. Raise your hips up, and place your elbows on the floor and your hands on your hips to support your lower body. Walk your feet up the wall so that your legs are straight. This is your starting position.

From here, lower your left leg toward your head, keeping both legs straight. Return to the starting position and repeat with your right leg. Continue to alternate until you’ve completed all reps.

MAKE IT HARDER


As you lower your leg, pause and pulse 2 or 3 times, moving it up and down an inch or two, before returning it back to the wall.

MAKE IT EASIER


Start with your hips 3 to 6 inches away from the wall.

5. Knee Press

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Lie on your back with your butt against the wall, knees bent, and feet planted 3 to 4 feet up the wall. Raise your butt and back off the floor and cross your right ankle over your left knee. Without moving the rest of your body, pulse your knee toward the wall 20 times. Lower your body, and repeat on your left side.

MAKE IT HARDER


As you press your knee, lift and lower your hips a couple of inches with each rep.

MAKE IT EASIER


Do the move with your butt on the floor.

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27 Simple Tricks To Lose Belly Fat For Good

Belly fat is one of the most common problems with women. In fact, it has been observed that even those who have slim bodies are troubled by bulging belly. A bulging belly not only diminishes your appearance, but also increases the risk of diseases like stroke, diabetes, heart disease and cancers. Some people even go to the extent of taking diet pills or fat burners for reducing belly fat.

To lose this fat effectively, you need to focus on exercises that specifically target your belly and other parts of your body. A full body workout helps your body continue burning fat, long after you’ve completed your workout. In addition to exercising, there are certain natural ways such as dietary and lifestyle changes which can help you get those flat and sexy abs.

Exercises to Reduce Belly Fat:

There are plenty of exercises and food items that can go a long way in helping you get flat abs. All it takes is a little bit of discipline and perseverance. Exercises are one of the best ways to achieve your desired weight loss and the same is true with reducing belly fat. Given below are a few exercises that help you in getting rid of a bulging belly.

  1. Side Plank:

This is a great abs work out. It is different from traditional plank in the sense that it enables you to support your body weight on two points of contact instead of four, helping you work out your core muscles.

  • You can start off by lying on your elbow placed directly beneath your shoulders and your legs stacked together. Now place your right hand on your left shoulder or right hip.
  • Brace your abs and lift your hips off the floor so that you are balancing on your forearm and feet. Your body should form a diagonal line. Hold on to this position for 30 to 45 seconds or as long as you can if you are a beginner. Switch sides and repeat the procedure.
  1. Exercise Ball Crunch:

This exercise is done with the help of an exercise ball crunch and is great for working out your abdomen muscles. In this exercise, the abdomen gets exerted while the rest of the body is stabilized throughout the routine.

  • To start off, lie on the ball with your lower back fully supported and your hands placed behind your head.
  • Now lift the torso off the ball by contracting the abs to pull the bottom of the rib cage towards the hips.
  • Curl up, keeping the ball stable and then lower back down to stretch the abs. Do at least 1 to 3 sets each with 12 to 16 reps.
  1. Reverse Crunch:

This exercise has been considered more effective than regular crunches in strengthening the core muscles.

  • You can start off by lying flat on your stomach with your arms at your sides.
  • Crossing your feet, lift them off the floor to create a 90-degree angle with your knees.
  • Now contract your abs muscles and lift your hands and shoulders off the ground, exhaling when you contract and inhaling when you lower your back down.
  • Try doing 1 to 3 sets with 12 to 16 reps each.
  1. The Bicycle Exercise:

Cardio exercises are one of the best exercises for burning body and belly fat. Exercising on the bicycle is one of those which are great for body rotation, abdominal stabilization and more abdominal muscle activity.

  • Start off by lying on your back with your hands behind your head.
  • Now slowly raise your knees to your chest while lifting your head and shoulders off the floor.
  • Bringing your right elbow towards your left knee, straighten your right leg.
  • Now switch sides, bringing your left elbow to your right knee and straightening your left leg.
  • While doing this exercise, keep your breathing relaxed and even. Do 1 to 3 sets with 12 to 16 reps each.
  1. Vertical Leg Crunch:

This exercise is similar to leg crunch except that your legs are straight up, working out your abs and adding intensity to the routine.

  • To start off, lie down on the floor with your legs straight up, your knees crossed and your hands placed beneath your head for support.
  • Contract your legs, lifting your shoulders off the floor and keeping your legs in a fixed position to crunch.
  • Do at least 1 to 3 sets with 12 to 16 reps each.
  1. Long Arm Crunch:

This exercise has been derived from the traditional floor crunch where the arms are held straight behind you such that a lever is added to the move, making it a challenging exercise.

  • Start off by lying on the floor or a mat. While doing so, extend your arms straight behind, keeping them clasped and next to your ears.
  • Contracting your abs slowly, lift your shoulders off the floor to keep your arms straight.
  • Do 1 to 3 sets with 12 to 16 reps each.
  1. The Captain’s Chair Leg Raise:

As evident from its name, this exercise involves a captain’s chair and a rack with padded arms to allow the legs to hang free. It is commonly found in gyms and racks.

  • Start off by standing on the chair and griping hand holds.
  • Pressing your back against the pad, raise your knees to the chest to contract the abs.
  • Then lower the back down.
  • Perform 1 to 3 sets each with 12 to 16 reps.
  1. Interval Workout:

An interval workout is a workout where a high intensity exercise is followed by a lower intensity exercise. This is done to enable your body to workout at a good pace and then give it enough time to recover. For example, you can try jogging for the first 5 minutes to warm up. Then sprint for the next 2 minutes. After that, you can slow down to the spot where you are running at a jogging pace and then indulge in a full sprint for 2 more minutes. You can end up by jogging for the final 5 minutes.

  1. Running and Walking:

Running and walking are the best fat burning exercises. This is quite simple as all you need is a good pair of shoes. Running burns more calories but walking is also quite effective in this regard. You can try brisk walking for 30 minutes at least 5 days in a week. This will cause you to breathe harder and your heart rate to become faster than usual. To get the same results in half a time, you can try jogging for 20 minutes in a day, at least 4 days in a week.

Diet to Reduce Belly Fat:

In addition to exercise, there is a need to make certain changes in your dietary pattern to reduce belly fat. All kinds of junk foods, processed snacks and aerated drinks might seem pleasing to your taste buds but they cause more harm to your tummy both internally and externally, causing fat to accumulate in your mid section.

A balanced diet not only improves your overall fitness but also prevents your belly from bulging up. Besides, there are certain food items that can help reduce your belly fat naturally. Given below are a few dietary tips for reducing belly fat:

  1. Restrict your Caloric Intake:

As we all know, the key to weight loss is consumption of fewer calories than you normally consume. Spot reduction is rather impossible but when you start losing overall body weight, you tend to lose belly fat first. Thus, there is a need to restrict the intake of sugar and starch as these types of foods get stored in the body as fat if the calories are not burnt off immediately and do not provide much nutrition. Instead, it is advisable to consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins like chicken, fish, turkey and tofu. Processed foods and sweetened beverages also contain hidden fructose apart from fruits. Make sure to limit your fructose intake to less than 25 grams per day.

  1. Avoid Late Night Snacking:

Late night or in between meals snacking should be avoided. If you feel hunger cravings in between meals, go for healthy foods like carrots, celery, fruits or nuts.

  1. Eat Smaller Portions:

Reducing portion sizes can greatly help in weight loss including belly fat. Ensure to consume all kinds of foods in moderation to reap their health benefits.

  1. Keep Yourself Hydrated:

Staying hydrated is extremely important. Drink plenty of water as it keeps you full in-between meals. You can drink one full glass of water before every meal as this will fill up your stomach and you are likely to eat less. Replace the sugary sodas and fruit juices with water to prevent the consumption of unnecessary calories. Ensure to drink at least 8 glasses of water every day.

  1. Eat Fewer Carbs:

Carbs are an important source of energy. But most of us tend to consume more carbs than are need. These carbs get stored in the body as fat resulting in the appearance of belly fat.

  1. Eat More Protein:

Increase the consumption of lean proteins like fish, skinless chicken and eggs. Since protein has a higher thematic effect than other foods, your body burns more energy while processing proteins than it does while processing carbs and fat. Thus, a high protein diet is more effective in burning belly fat.

  1. Cut Down on Alcohol Consumption:

Alcohol is loaded with sugar which leads to fat. Even if you cut down your sugar consumption but continue consuming alcoholic beverages, you are no better off. Alcohol also places stress on your liver which is forced to overwork to remove toxins consumed. This adversely affects the building of muscles. Alcohol greatly contributes to belly fat so it is advisable to refrain from consuming it.

Foods that Reduce Belly Fat:

As stated earlier, there are certain foods which are especially effective in reducing belly fat. The foods given below should be included in your diet as they can provide you with a flat belly along with a rich boost of nutrition.

  1. Fruits and Fruit juices:

Among fruits, cranberries are especially effective in reducing belly fat. They have a high content of organic acid which act as a catalyst for enzymes. These enzymes help in reducing the fatty deposits. Ensure to include 100% cranberry juice in your diet. Cran-water also helps to lose belly fat. Dried fruits like raisins, apricots and figs are also quite nutritious and beneficial for weight loss.

  1. Fish Oil/ Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Omega-3 fatty acids help you to lose belly fat by directly targeting tummy fat. Fish oil is another great option to lose belly fat. Ensure to consume at least 6 grams of fish oil or eat mackerel, salmon at least twice a week. You can also munch chia seeds as they are high in protein and an excellent source of B vitamins. They also contain calcium and high quantity of antioxidants.

  1. Linolenic Acid (GLA and CLA):

Conjugated Linolenic Acid (CLA) and Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) help reduce belly fat by activating the brown fat in overweight people. You can obtain this GLA from precursor vegetable oils like sunflower oil. Otherwise you can also use GLA supplements. CLA helps in reducing fat by helping the body to utilize and access stored fat.

  1. Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA):

Monounsaturated fats like omega-9 fatty acids also play an important role in a flat belly diet. Certain studies have shown that MUFAs help to burn body fat in the belly. The American Heart Association recommends using MUFAs instead of trans-fats and saturated fats. To get the recommended amount of MUFAs, you can use olive, sunflower or safflower oil for cooking. Other sources of MUFA include filberts, olives, macadamia nuts and avocados.

  1. Lemon or Lime:

For a flat belly, try to drink lime juice in normal water daily in the morning. You can also sip lemon juice or use it in salads or in your diet. Lemon provides more energy to the liver to liquefy fat so that it gets flushed away more quickly from the system. Besides you should drink plenty of water to accelerate this process. Dehydration can cause your kidneys to take help from the liver, thereby reducing the liver’s speed to burn fat.

  1. Herbal Teas:

Herbal teas can be beneficial in this regard as they are prepared from spices and herbs that have been proven to speed up metabolism, reduce stress and cleanse the body’s internal organs. You can also consider using green tea as it has a load of antioxidants which are great for your body, skin, hair and brain. It contains EGCG which can help you lose belly fat naturally. Try having 3 to 4 cups of green tea in a day without adding milk or sugar. An effective way to lose belly fat is to replace the sodas, juices and other sugary foods with herbal teas.

Lifestyle Changes:

Apart from a healthy diet and regular exercise, it is important to incorporate certain changes in your lifestyle to accelerate the process of losing belly fat and be able to maintain the fitness level in the long run. To start off, it is important to maintain a positive attitude. If you believe that you will be able to do it, you can actually do it. In fact, you have to be patient enough as you cannot expect to get instant results. You need to make the following changes in your lifestyle:

  1. Get Proper Sleep:

Getting proper sleep is perhaps one of the best and easiest things that you can do to bring your body into shape including reduction of belly fat. Science has shown a link between getting deep sleep on a consistent basis and having less belly fat. Sleep deprived people tend to feel sluggish, causing them to eat more to compensate for the lack of energy. The deepest and most sound sleep comes from going to bed early in the evening. When you are awake till late in the night, you are tired and your body produces more Ghrelin, which increases cravings for sugar and other fat-building foods. Lack of sleep can also alter your hormone production, thus affecting your cortisol levels that cause insulin sensitivity which is one of the causes of belly fat. It is advisable to get at least 7 hours of sleep at night.

  1. Manage your Stress Levels:

Stress is a part and parcel of life today. But too much stress can increase the level of cortisol in the body which leads to excess fat storage. Stress can be managed by indulging in regular exercises, staying away from stress inducing people from your life and time management. You can try yoga, meditation or other mind-body building activities that improve breathing, posture and provide relaxation too. If your job is the cause of your stress, consider changing your careers to be better off and alive. Being late or constantly running out of time can also lead to stress. Try to manage time by making a list of things that you need to accomplish on a given day. This might help in reducing your stress levels and consequently the fat accumulated in your belly.

  1. Slow Down your Breath:

This is an effective method that you can try even if you are busy doing something else. Whenever you find that you are feeling tensed, try and check your breathing. When people are stressed out, they often alternate holding their breath with short breaths or take rapid shallow breaths. When you become aware of your breathing, relax your belly and try to slow down your breathing. To get the best results, focus on slowing down your exhalation rather than inhalation. This method is quite simple but extremely effective.

  1. Be Persistent:

It is our tendency to look for quick results in every aspect of life, fitness is one of those. Often when we are trying to lose belly fat or simply lose weight, we expect to see results within a short span. When we fail to see the difference, we end up feeling disappointed and giving up on the fitness regime.Another reason is that some people feel monotonous following a particular routine or are simply unwilling to make the requisite changes.

So the most important thing that you need to keep in mind while trying to lose belly fat is to be persistent. As we all know, nature is persistent, time keeps on moving no matter what. Like nature, you have to be persistent enough to take steps each day to eat the right foods, do your regular exercises and nourish yourself. You need to give some time to yourself before you can see positive results. Avoid pushing yourself while trying to lose belly fat as things take their own time to work out. And last but not the least, you have to maintain a positive mood and be happy. Make sure to measure your progress to know where you are heading.

So if you really want to look good in your favourite skinny jeans or a perfectly fitted dress and if you think that belly fat is incurable, you need to change your thinking. Just go ahead and adopt the simple yet effective ways given above. Though you cannot reduce fat, you can definitely lose belly fat by decreasing your total body fat percentage.

Remember a step taken in the right direction is always better than standing still on the wrong path. Go ahead and make those small changes in your life.

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12 Natural Remedies To Get Rid Of Vaginal Odor

Woman's part of body, hip and waist

You shower regularly, you eat a healthy diet and you change your underwear daily, but for some reason, you still have a funny stench downstairs.

This can make you feel uncomfortable when your partner wants to perform oral on you, or even when people come close to you.

If you’re struggling with vaginal odor, here are 12 natural remedies that can help you treat vaginal odor.

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Due to its antibacterial and antiseptic properties, apple cider vinegar can be used to fight vaginal odor. In fact, taking a bath with apple cider vinegar is one of the simplest ways to get rid of the bad odor. This will help fight off the toxins and bacteria that cause vaginal odor. It will also help restore the acidic quality of the vaginal flora.

  • Mix two cups of apple cider vinegar in warm bath water. Soak in it for about 20 minutes. Follow this remedy several times a week to get quick results.

You can also drink a glass of water mixed with one or two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar daily.

2. Baking Soda

Baking soda can be used to balance the pH level in your body. When the pH level is in balance, the problem of vaginal odor will dissipate.

  • Add one-half cup of baking soda to your bathwater.
  • Soak your lower body in it for about 20 minutes.
  • Dry yourself thoroughly with a clean towel. This remedy will help fight a yeast infection and can help get rid of odor quickly.

3. Yogurt

Yogurt is rich in lactobacillus bacteria, which help fight candida infection (one of the most common causes of vaginal odor) and restore the normal vaginal pH level. Once the pH level is balanced, the vaginal odor will be gone.

  • Eat two cups of unsweetened, plain yogurt daily. You can also take probiotic supplements.

4. White Vinegar

White vinegar has the power to neutralize odors by breaking down odor proteins. A white vinegar rinse will help eliminate vaginal odor. It will also help restore pH levels in the vagina.

  • Mix one-half cup each of white vinegar and salt in lukewarm bath water.
  • Soak in it for a few minutes.
  • Follow this remedy several times a week.

5. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil contains strong antifungal as well as antiseptic properties, and thus it can be used to get rid of unpleasant vaginal odor. It will help get rid of bacteria that are contributing to the problem.

  • Add three drops of tea tree oil to a cup of water. Use this solution to rinse the affected area daily or several times a week.

6. Garlic

Garlic is a natural antibiotic that can be great for dealing with vaginal infections as well as vaginal odor. The antifungal properties present in garlic will help fight a yeast infection and help your body get rid of bad bacteria.

  • Eat garlic in raw or cooked form on a daily basis. You can eat one or two raw garlic cloves on an empty stomach with a glass of warm water. You can also add garlic cloves or its paste to your dishes and salads.

7. Fenugreek

When consumed on a regular basis, fenugreek helps balance the hormones and promotes regular menstrual cycles.

  • Soak one or two teaspoons of fenugreek seeds in one cup of water before going to bed. The next morning, strain out the seeds and drink the water on an empty stomach.
  • You can also use fenugreek seeds to make herbal tea. To prepare this tea, boil one teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in a cup of water. Strain and drink it two times a day.

Note: Fenugreek can cause diarrhea and skin irritation. If you experience these effects, discontinue use of this remedy.

8. Lemon

Lemons support vaginal health and odor with their acidic nature – they help maintain the vagina’s healthy pH level. Antioxidants in lemons also help protect the cells from free-radical damage.

Lemons works as an immune booster to help your body prevent and fight any kind of infection.

Drink lemon water once or twice daily to help restore the pH balance in your body. To make lemon water, mix the juice of ½ lemon to a glass of warm water and add a little raw honey for taste.

9. Cranberry juice

Cranberry juice is great for improving your vaginal health. It helps balance the vagina’s pH level and its acidic property helps fight bacteria that cause UTIs, vaginal infections and other problems.

To reap the benefits, drink a glass of unsweetened, organic cranberry juice daily. Those who like the tart flavor can even eat a handful of cranberries daily. You can opt to take cranberry tablets, but consult your doctor first.

10. Kale and green vegetables

Kale can not only help you get rid of vaginal odor but it also helps combat vaginal dryness as well as itching and burning. Kale is a rich source of vitamins A and C and helps improve blood circulation. In addition, it gives a boost to your immunity to help keep infections at bay.

Add kale to your salad, vegetable juice or green smoothie. You can also cook it lightly and eat it as a side dish. Other green vegetables that are good for vaginal health include cabbage, celery and collard green.

11. Flaxseed

Rich in phytoestrogens and high in omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseeds also combat many vaginal issues on top of vaginal odor. The phytoestrogens increase estrogen levels, which prevents vaginal dryness and other menopausal symptoms.

In addition, the zinc in these seeds help treat vaginal dryness, itching and burning.

Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds on cereal, smoothies, yogurt, salads and juices. When eating flaxseeds, make sure to drink an ample amount of water for smooth digestion.

12. Avocado

Avocado stimulates vaginal health. The healthy fats in avocado support healthy vaginal walls and keep it naturally lubricated. This helps prevent vaginal dryness as well as itching and burning and vaginal odor.

In addition, its vitamin B6 and potassium content support vaginal health.

Make sure to eat avocado in moderation. Just ¼ of an avocado daily is enough to reap its benefits. You can include this creamy fruit in your salad, sandwich or smoothie.

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10 Reasons Your Hard Work Isn’t Paying Off

You work hard at the gym nearly every day, huffing and puffing on the treadmill, your spin class, or your favorite bootcamp routine – and yet nothing is happening. You’re not losing weight, you’re not gaining muscle, and you look no different than when you started exercising.

You’re not alone! Many women go through the same frustrations as you do  – but fret not. You have tosit down and really look at what you are doing (or not doing) and make adjustments. Here are the top 10 reasons why you are not seeing results and how you can fix them.

1. Doing the same workout routine.

Do you do the same thing day in and day out or stick to such a strict routine that you do not even waiver from your spot in class? The problem with doing the same thing all the time is that your body gets so used to it that it no longer has to work hard, which means your body will not be going through any changes. Rather than sticking with the same classes or machines over and over, vary your cardiovascular exercises so your body will wake up from its exercise-boredom coma.

2. Weight lifting is not part of your routine.

If you are neglecting weight lifting, then you are missing out on the most important part of body transformation. While cardio is good for heart health and losing weight, lifting weights is good for turning your body into a lean, mean, muscle machine. In fact, weight lifting is actually more effective than you think. If you are lifting heavy weights where reaching eight reps is almost impossible, your body will be burning calories for hours after you are done. You do not get that same benefit from doing cardiovascular exercise. Once you are done running, that is it. So start picking up some weights and lift!

3. You are just cruising along – where’s the challenge?

Do you always set your treadmill on the same speed and incline? Do you always use the same weight for your chest presses? If you do, then you are not giving your body a challenge that it desperately needs in order to see results. Start adding sprint intervals to those jogs or using heavier weights for those presses. It’s okay if you cannot run for long or can’t lift as many reps — that is good. Your body is being challenged which means it will have to work harder!

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4. Your eating habits have not changed.

Let’s face it — you can work out like an Olympic athlete, but if you go home and gorge on pizza, pasta and cake, all that hard work was for nothing. Exercising is not a license to eat whatever you want. Be mindful of what you are eating throughout the day including those little bits of your kids’ leftover food. Every bite adds up! Also know that eating healthy doesn’t mean sacrificing taste. There are plenty of delicious, full-flavor recipes that are mindful of calories, fat, carbs and more.

5. Your drinking habits have not changed either.

Just like food, what you drink can also have an impact on seeing results. Your favorite café mocha may be like heaven to drink, but it is probably packed with lots of sugar and carbohydrates. Some juices, smoothies, flavored teas, and coffees have many calories along with the added sugar and carbs. Enjoy them at your own risk or opt for something better like black coffee, herbal tea or lemon water.

6. You are always stressed.

Your emotional health can also take a toll on your physical health. If you are constantly stressing over everything, your body releases too much cortisol, a hormone that regulates stress. When you are under a lot of stress, your body reacts negatively to it. A decrease in muscle tissue, blood sugar imbalances, and increased abdominal fat can all result from constant high levels of stress.

7. You don’t get enough sleep.

As with stress, if you are not sleeping enough, cortisol levels will be higher than they should. Make sure to go to bed at the same time every night whenever possible and wake up at the same time. You should get at least seven quality hours of sleep. Create an environment that is conducive to a good night’s sleep like turning off your electronic devices (including your TV and smartphone) and/or playing soothing music.

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8. Your food may not be as healthy as you think.

There are a lot of healthy options when it comes to food, but there is also a lot of confusion. Some labels claim foods are natural or healthy, but they really are not. As a result, you’re not eating as healthy as you think you are. Become an avid label reader and read the ingredients first. If the ingredient list is a paragraph long, you would be wise to skip it and find something better. Foods should be mostly natural, unprocessed, and have minimal ingredients.

9. Are you staying hydrated?

It is just as important to stay hydrated as it is to eat right. Drinking water throughout the day will not only help your digestive system and flush things out (so to speak), but it will also help keep hunger in check. More often than not, those hunger pangs are really a cry for some hydration.

10. You need rest days.

Believe it or not, you need at least one day off from exercise each week. Your body needs time to recover, and the only chance it gets to do that is when it is not engaged in any physical activity. Gains are made during the recovery process and not when you are actually doing the work. So let your body do what it needs to give itself a break!

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How To Do A Proper Body Squat

wall-facing-squat

The squat movement is the most functional human movement we do. If you are good at doing a squat, this means you will be more efficient at doing normal, every day life activities. The squat improves your leg, butt, and core muscles. The stronger and more stable these muscles are, the more supported your body and spine will be, contributing to an overall attractive posture.

The best way to learn how to squat correctly is to do your squats facing a wall.

  1. Bring your toes to the wall, almost touching, then sit down.
  2. Stay looking straight so you learn to keep your torso up.
  3. Sit as low as you can go, and hold the seated position for 5-10 seconds and repeat. This move is great for butt, legs, and core.
  4. Do 20 reps slowly, rest for 30 seconds. Repeat the circuit 3 times thrice a week and see and feel the difference in about 2 weeks.

Good Luck.

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