8 Simple Exercises You Can Do While Watching TV

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

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

1. Pillow Crunches

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

2. Roundhouse Kicks

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

3. Leg Circles

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

4. Sit and Twist

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

5. Seated Floor Taps

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

6. Oblique Twists

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

7. Knees To Chest

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

8. Hip Rotations

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

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

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

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

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

Mistake #2: You stretch before cardio.

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

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

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

Mistake #4: You do real push-ups.

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

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

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

Mistake #6: You overindulge afterwards.

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

Mistake #7: You don’t weigh yourself.

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

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6 Reasons You’re Always Feeling Hungry

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

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

Always hungry? Here’s why.

1. You Drink Too Much

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

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

2. You Need Good Bacteria

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

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

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

3. You Need More Protein

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

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

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

4. You’re Loading Up On Refined Carbs

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

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

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

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

5. You’re Always Stressed

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

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

6. You’re Taking Certain Medication

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

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

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

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WEEK 1:

DAY 1: 20 seconds

DAY 2: 25 seconds

DAY 3: 30 seconds

DAY 4: 30 seconds

DAY 5: REST

DAY 6: 40 seconds

DAY 7: 45 seconds

WEEK 2:

DAY 8: 45 seconds

DAY 9: 50 seconds

Day 10: REST

Day 11: 60 seconds

Day 12: 60 seconds

Day 13 70 seconds

Day 14: 70 seconds

WEEK 3:

Day 15: REST

Day 16: 90 seconds

Day 17: 120 seconds

Day 18: 90 seconds

Day 19: 120 seconds

Day 20: REST

Day 21: 150 seconds

WEEK 4:

Day 22: 150 seconds

Day 23: 180 seconds

Day 24: 180 seconds

Day 25: REST

Day 26: 210 seconds

Day 27: 210 seconds

Day 28: 240 seconds

THE LAST HURDLE:

Day 29: 270 seconds

Day 30: 300 seconds

BE PROUD! YOU DID IT!

11 Tips To Ease Back Into Exercise

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

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

  1. Start slowly.

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

  1. Believe in your ability to get better.

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

  1. Treat your body like a good friend.

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

  1. Little bits count!

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

  1. Trust what you notice.

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

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

  1. Breathe!

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

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

  1. Warm your muscles.

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

  1. Work within your range of motion.

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

  1. Practice relaxation-in-action.

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

  1. Be cautious with repetitive movements.

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

  1. Have fun!

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

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

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5 Ways to Banish Your Bloated Tummy

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

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

What causes IBS?

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

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

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

What are the symptoms?

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

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

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

5 Ways to Stop Bloated Tummies

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

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

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

2. Take a probiotic.

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

3. Reduce stress

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

4. Chew your food properly

Slow down and use your teeth.

5. Aim to exercise regularly and moderately.

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

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9 Really Simple Ways To Be Healthy And Happy

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

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

  1. Get outside.

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

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

  1. Do some green exercise.

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

  1. Enjoy some sunshine (with safe sunscreen).

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

  1. Eat wild.

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

  1. Sleep luxuriously.

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

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

  1. Hydrate.

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

  1. Have fun with your friends.

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

  1. Get dirty.

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

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

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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.
Science PROVES it is possible to get skinny in JUST 6 Minutes a day
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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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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