Fitness

Make it light at night

Sometimes when I talk with people who struggle with their weight, they’ll tell me that the reason they can’t lose weight is because they eat too much at night – “I eat,” they’ll say, “and then I just sit around and I don’t burn it off – that’s my problem”. While intuitively this might make sense, it doesn’t really work this way. Taking in too many calories – at any time of the day – is going to lead to weight gain.

The body just doesn’t micromanage calories that carefully. And here’s why: we evolved under conditions of food scarcity – in order to survive, we had to be able to store extra calories if we overate – whenever that might be – and then be able to call them up when we needed them. Our ancestors foraged for food all day long, and they needed to store (or use) all the calories they could get – whether they were eaten at dawn or around the fire at night.

The same thing is true for us today – it doesn’t matter if you eat your extra calories before the sun goes down or after – either way, your fat cells are more than happy to hang on to them for you to use later.

People probably think this way because they notice that they lose weight when they stop eating so much at night (or set some arbitrary rule, like “I won’t eat after 7 p.m.”). But it’s not the time of day that matters – if you were to eat your usual post-7 p.m. calories at 3 p.m. instead, you wouldn’t burn them off any faster.

A lot of people who overeat do the majority of their gorging late in the day and well into the evening. So when they stop eating at 7 PM, they cut out hundreds of calories that ordinarily would have consumed. They’re losing weight not because they stopped eating after a certain time – they’re losing weight because, well, they stopped eating.

One of the main reasons people overeat at night is, in fact, because they haven’t adequately fueled themselves during the day. Lots of people try to power through the day on very little food, then by the time they hit the door at night, they’re starving. And it’s easy to justify a bedtime binge if you tell yourself that you’ve “hardly eaten all day”.

There’s an old saying that you should eat ‘breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper’. It’s still great advice, and I often encourage people to ‘diet at night’. Start the day with a healthy, high protein breakfast (like a protein shake, a high protein cereal with milk and fruit, yogurt with fruit, or a veggie omelet), have a healthy lunch with plenty of protein and veggies, and then have a large snack – almost like another meal – in the middle of the afternoon, at around 3 or 4 o’clock. Then, you won’t be starving at dinner, and you can then get by with something light – like a small salad with a little protein in it or a bowl of soup.

Do TV commercials increase your appetite

Food commercials on television push us to eat more than our recommended daily intake of salt, fat, sugar and calories.

Watching television can really be dangerous to your health. And it’s not just because we sit for so long – although that’s certainly part of the problem. A recent study revealed just how bad a diet could be if it were based entirely on foods advertised on television (and yes, there are people who actually eat like this).

How bad, you ask? Well, if you were to eat 2000 calories – a modest intake for many, by the way – of food chosen only from those advertised on TV, you’d be digesting 25 times the recommended daily intake of sugar and 20 times the recommended fat intake.

In fact, these foods are so overloaded with fat and sugar that, on average, eating just ONE of the advertised items would put you more than three times above your recommended sugar intake and about 2 ½ times above your recommended fat intake for the entire day. No surprise, either, that you’d also be eating less than half the recommended servings for fruits, vegetables or dairy (when was the last time you saw a food ad urging you to eat your veggies?).

And this wasn’t just kids TV advertising that was looked at – researchers watched 84 hours of primetime and 12 hours of Saturday morning broadcasts, then did a nutritional analysis of all the food items advertised. Along with too much fat and sugar, came an excess of salt and cholesterol followed by a shortage of a bunch of nutrients including calcium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin D and fiber.

It may sound a little far-fetched – that people would eat this way day in and day out. Yet when you consider that we spend more on fast food than on higher education, or that about a quarter of the US population visits a fast food restaurant every day, maybe not.

We view an average of six food ads for every hour of television that we watch – but that doesn’t mean we have to eat everything ‘in sight.’ Next time the food commercials come on, try this: instead of walking to the refrigerator, grab a stick of gum, brush your teeth, or do some sit-ups or push ups instead.

Live long, live healthy – Life in the blue zone

Live long, live healthy – Life in the blue zone

Those who live the longest share common healthy habits.

When you read stories about people who’ve lived a century or more, they’re almost always asked to reveal the secret to their long life. And their answers are often all over the map. Some think the key is abstinence from alcohol and tobacco, while there are others who attribute their endurance to a daily breakfast of bacon and eggs.

There are plenty of factors that determine an individual’s life span – all part of a complex interplay between genetics and environment. While there’s yet to be a clear-cut path to the ‘fountain’ of youth, there may be, at least, some small ‘springs’ – centenarian hot spots termed ‘blue zones’ that are home to unusually high numbers of people over 100 years old. And naturally, everyone wants to know what makes these blue zoners tick – and keep on ticking.

The term ‘blue zone’ became popularized after researchers in Italy used blue ink to map the concentrations of centenarians inhabiting the island of Sardinia. As the map evolved, they identified a particularly large concentration in east-central Sardinia – a very blue zone where life expectancy was higher than anywhere else on the island.

Since that time, other blue zones have been identified: Okinawa, Japan, the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica and the Greek Island of Ikaria. There are also some blue zones in the US – one in Loma Linda, California, which is home to a large concentration of Seventh Day Adventists, and another patch that runs through the Dakotas and Minnesota and up into Canada.

Clearly, these zones are wide-ranging in distance and culture. But there do seem to be similarities in how residents of the blue zones lead their lives. They don’t overeat, and the majority of them don’t smoke. They stay active, both physically and mentally – they walk a lot, they socialize and they keep themselves busy. Remarkably, most centenarians live independently past the age of 90, and the majority of them stay quite healthy until the end of life.

Their diets feature whole grains, beans, nuts, an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables and – with the exception of the largely vegetarian Seventh Day Adventists – plenty of seafood. Mealtimes are an important event in everyday life – a reflection of a commitment to importance of maintaining strong connections to family and community.

They’re simple things, to be sure, but these lifestyle practices may be key to a longer, healthier life. We can learn from – and adopt – some of these habits ourselves. Keep moving, eat the right foods (and not too much), cultivate a sense of purpose in life and stay connected to family and community. You may not live in a blue zone, but it can’t hurt to behave as if you do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 steps to help you achieve your body composition goals

3 steps to help you achieve your body composition goals

If weight loss or weight maintenance is one of your goals this year, understanding how to keep a good energy balance, how to burn calories with exercise and how to maintain lean muscle mass during the process may help you to finally achieve your body composition goal.

Many people I meet want to lose body fat, gain lean muscle mass and eventually maintain a healthy body weight. In my opinion, the only way to achieve this is to start with understanding your body and striving to find the best balance for you. We are all individuals with likes and dislikes, so finding your individual balance is the key to long- term success. 

I feel that finding balance is not finding a set formula that you will stick to forever. Instead, it’s about making a commitment to adjusting to your body’s ever changing needs.

Today I want to give you some tips to help you make positive choices that will help to keep your body progressing toward your ultimate desired body composition. Here are my three tips that can help anyone—regardless of their current activity level.

Find balance with your nutrition plan

Controlling your nutrition with calorie intake and the types of foods you eat should be the primary focus of any healthy active lifestyle plan. In addition, exercise should always be part of your long-term body composition strategy because the health benefits associated with exercise are vast and definitely worth the time commitment.

Many people believe that if you’re exercising, you can eat what ever you want. The truth is that it’s very difficult to burn the number of calories found in just one large glass of soda. It’s true that exercise burns calories, but not enough to allow you to eat poorly. My favorite quote is “you can’t out train a bad diet.”

Burning calories with exercise is a pretty simple concept to understand. Calories are in essence your body’s fuel source. The more you move and the harder you work, the more overall fuel you will burn. The number of calories each individual burns varies from person to person and all exercises are not created equal when it comes to calorie burning. Thirty minutes of high intensity exercise will burn more overall calories than 30 minutes of low impact exercise. The mode of exercise you choose and the amount of time you commit to exercise can make a difference in your overall results.

Improving your body composition is not just a numbers game. You can’t just think about calories consumed vs. calories burned because the quality and source of the calories plays an important role. For example, 200 calories consumed by eating sugary fast food has a very different effect on your body than consuming 200 calories from fresh fruits and vegetables. That’s why I always say that finding your balance through both diet and exercise is important to long-term body composition success.

Perform a balanced and well-rounded exercise routine

Exercise is essential for long-term weight management and achieving great body composition results. Performing a balanced routine that challenges you enough to improve, but doesn’t challenge your body to the point of injury is essential. A balanced routine should include stretching, an element of resistance training, and a focus on cardiovascular activities including an activity that helps you to improve your endurance level. You don’t have to combine all of these elements into one fitness session, but each week try to ensure you’ve checked each box. A great starting commitment is 30 minutes of exercise on five days of the week.

Make a mental commitment to becoming the best you can be

I often talk about finding your athlete mentality and believing in your body’s ability to achieve greatness. The majority of our physical actions start out as a thought, so if you keep your thoughts positive, your actions will tend to be positive too!

I understand that changing your thought process into a more positive mindset can be a challenge for many people, especially if they’ve struggled to achieve their ultimate body composition goals in the past. I believe that a change in attitude is a gradual process that involves making small changes that help boost your overall confidence. As your confidence level soars, positivity seems to follow naturally. Set yourself up for success by understanding it takes a nutritional, physical and mental commitment to achieve your goals. Start today and create positive healthy habits both physically and mentally. It makes long-term success more achievable.

I read a quote recently that said “The body achieves what the mind believes.”  It made me get focused on my goals, and I hope reading this today will help you to do the same!

 Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife originally posted here.

 

The right way to run on a Beach

running

You are on vacation or on a beach anywhere in the world then you might want to enjoy by running on sea shore sand. This is the easiest way but it is a “wrong” way to run on sand.

While possibly easy on the knees, running in the sand puts excess strain on many of the muscles and tendons of the lower extremity, for even the fit runners.

Many runners have “tight calf,” which is due in part to genetics and years of running. This increases the risk for foot and ankle injuries when you take your run to the beach. Generally speaking, it doesn’t work when you tell especially runners to do that workout. This evades minimum risk of injury.

The great thing about running on the sand is that it is highly inefficient, It makes your body work a lot harder, which means an increase in calories burned and more rigorous muscle and cardio training.

Well then, sounds like it’s time to hit the sand. Check out some expert tips for a better, safer beach run:

1. Adopt a forefoot/mid-foot strike. While a heel strike is okay in hard sand, it will produce too much strain along the posterior muscle group of the leg when your heel sinks into the soft sand.

Instead, run with your feet pointed and engage your toe flexors by pushing off with your toes.

2. Don’t neglect your core. One of the most important parts of running on any surface is strong abs and back muscles. To support proper posture during your run, tighten the abs and tuck the rear to prevent increased lumbar curvature (or in other words, bending of lower back).

3. Keep an even pace. It might seem obvious to say don’t do too much too fast, but it’s easy to get caught up in the adrenaline rush of trying a new activity. Even if you’re used to running for 40 minutes, start with 15 minutes on the beach and ramp it up slowly. Your body will need a few runs to adapt.

4. Head to the shoreline. The wet sand is tightly packed in this area and provides a more stable surface for running.

5. Stretch, stretch, stretch. Stretching should become your new best friend. It’s important for any running regimen, but even more so on the beach. A thorough calf, hamstring, and quad stretch prior to running can help prevent sprains or strains.

6. Take a dip in the water. After your workout, spend 15 to 20 minutes soaking in the salt water. It will help reduce post workout inflammation.

7 Health Tricksters That Keep You Fat

Many of us exercise daily and want to see quick results but they shatter when they don’t see expected outcomes. This is a common complaint and most of us give up by saying “This don’t work for me”

The fact is you’re logging hours at the gym but you are not making the proper effort as expected. You may be committing what I call some “Health Tricksters.” And you don’t even realize it.

One of these tricksters, I’d say, is committed by almost EVERY person I see working out at the gym. Yes, almost every person. What is it? Let me share some of the other common fitness tricksters that people commit at the gym.

Health Trickster #1: You play the waiting game

You get to the gym, all set to work out. But there’s a waiting. No treadmills available as others are using it. So you try to make good use of your time and catch up on emails on your smart phone. Not a good use of your time at all, I say. You’re at the gym, not the office! Instead of exercising your fingers are on your phone, use the time to amplify your full-body workout. Do some squats, lunges, push-ups and planks. After a machine frees up, you may have torched a few hundred calories. Now THAT’S good use of your time.

Health Trickster #2: You watch television or read a newspaper

Listen, I’m a working dad of four children. I know the only time I may have to get through the morning paper is while I’m on the treadmill. But if I’m reading, or flipping through television channels, I’m likely not working hard enough.

When doing cardio, you should be working at least at a moderate pace – that means you’re slightly out of breath and couldn’t belt out “I Will Survive” without some trouble.

So put down that book or newspaper and concentrate on the task at hand.

If you really can’t get through a workout without reading or watching television, put the book / newspaper aside every three to four minutes and do a high-intensity interval. That means going all out as hard as you can for 20 to 30 seconds (or up to a minute, if you can). Then you can finish your paper while you’re doing an easy interval.

Health Trickster #3: You spend all your time on cardio machines

A lot of people, particularly women, tend to get cardio happy, spending hours walking on the treadmill or climbing the stair stepper at a moderate pace.

You should absolutely do your cardio. But not at the expense of weight training.

Why is weight training so important? Muscle uses more calories to maintain itself than fat – about three times more. In other words, for every pound of muscle you pack on, you automatically burn more calories. And that’s when you’re not exercising.

Plus muscle takes up less room on your body than fat does, so you’ll look leaner with more muscle.

So do your cardio, but after 30 minutes, hop off the treadmill and do some weight training.

Health Trickster #4: You get (too!) expert in what you’re doing

Sure, it’s great to be good at what you’re doing. But the body is highly adaptive. What works only works for a short period of time.

So if you’re walking on the treadmill day after day at the same pace, your muscles will soon learn the most efficient way to walk and basically operate on autopilot.

When the body no longer has to work as hard, you’ll expend less energy and burn fewer calories.

The key to seeing results? Give your body new and different challenges all the time. It doesn’t have to be anything drastic. Just spend 30 minutes on the elliptical on a particular day instead of the treadmill. Try the rowing machine another day. Switch up free weights for weight machines. Or try kettle balls for a change.

Anything to shake things up so your body has to “think” and use different muscles.

Switching it up has another benefit too – it keeps you from getting bored.

Catch the training and get his guidance.

Health Trickster #5: You’re holding the handrails

This is the cheat I see most often. People gripping the handrails of the treadmill, the elliptical or the stair stepper within an inch of their lives.

But hanging on so tightly robs you of the biggest calorie burn. Because your arms are stuck to the handrail, you’re not swinging them properly. Plus you’re slouching, so your spine isn’t getting the right support.

Instead of using the handrails, try lowering the incline or slowing your pace so you can keep yourself steady without the sidebars. If you must use the handrails, just place your fingertips on them ever so slightly.

So, are you committing any of these fitness cheats? Or do you know of any other cheats that I haven’t covered? I’d love to hear them.

 Health Trickster #6: Don’t talk when you exercise

It is often observed that people talk with others when they do exercise on machines. They talk on politics, latest news or family things which needs to be talked before or after exercise and not during exercise. You are at gym to do exercise and not to chit chat with others. Use your time efficiently. Spend your time dedicating your workout and complete the task in time. Talk later when you relax your body.

Health Trickster #7: Obey Trainer’s workout Plan

Your trainer gives you work out plan. You have to obey his plan and do your workouts. There is a challenge where you say I can’t do this now? May I do it tomorrow? These are common excuses given by everyone. You should do workout as per plan. Tomorrow never comes. If you have pain you take more rest or remain absent and you don’t see the results. The pain is temporary and it goes away if you take a challenge and do it confidently. The pain vanishes after practice and daily routine.

 

Understand the meaning and why fear the fat

Sheer the word “fat,” and most people shake. But, I’m not talking today about the kind of fat that deposits under our skin, making us soft and bulbous. I’m talking about the kinds of fat that we eat.

Fat, more than any other component of our diet, causes the most confusion. Everyone has an view as far as how much to eat, what kinds to eat, which ones are healthy and which ones should be evaded. It seems like every month there is a new “scientific study” hyping one kind of fat over another that contradicts the last study. There are many misconceptions and myths about fat in our diet, so I hope to address the most common ones and help you sort out the facts.

1. Eating fat makes us fat. True, dietary fat has more calories per gram (9 calories per gram) than either protein or carbohydrates (4 calories per gram), but it’s the total calories we eat that lead to weight gain. Too often we avoid fat but end up replacing those calories with sugar. When excess sugar is not burned off, it is stored as body fat. Eating fats slows down our digestion and helps us feel full longer, which can actually help with weight loss.

2. Our bodies don’t need fat in our diet. We can’t live without some fat in our diet. Fat gives us energy, helps absorb vitamins, including A, D, E and K , helps make necessary hormones, and is essential for nerve and brain function. A fat-deficient diet can result in stunted growth, reproductive failure, skin lesions, kidney and liver disorders, vision problems, subtle neurological problems, and chronic intestinal disease. In fact, 25 percent to 30 percent of our calories should come from fat.

3. It is best to stick to low-fat or fat-free foods. Not always. Processed foods that are low fat or fat-free have additional elements added to make up for the lack of fat. Often, the ingredient is sugar. Fat-free does not mean calorie-free, and many reduced-fat foods have as many or more calories than their traditional replacements.

4. Any food high in fat is high in cholesterol. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found only in animal foods. Vegetable oils and nuts do not have cholesterol.

5. Eating fat will raise my cholesterol and increase my risk for heart disease. Eating the wrong foods can definitely raise your cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease.

But some fats can actually help you lower your risks and improve your lipid levels. Fats found in fish, nuts, seeds, some vegetable oils and avocados help decrease inflammation and increase good cholesterol levels.

6. All fats are the same. True, all fats have the same 9 calories per gram, but they are not equal when it comes to health benefits. There are several different types of fats; the most talked about are:

  •  Saturated fat: Found in animal products, like meat and dairy, this is the type of fat that can negatively affect cholesterol levels and increase the risk for heart disease. However, there are more than two dozen different kinds of saturated fat and not all of them are harmful. Coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil are saturated fats but appear to be metabolized quickly, help reduce inflammation and do not elevate lipids. Beef and chocolate have a kind of saturated fat that that isn’t harmful to our health.
  • Polyunsaturated fat: This is the kind of fat found in most vegetable oils, like corn and soybean. These can help improve cholesterol levels.
  • Monounsaturated fat: Considered the healthiest kind of fat, you can find this in olive or canola oils, nuts, avocados and olives. Monounsaturated fat can help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Trans fat: Worst of the worst, trans fats or partially hydrogenated fats, increase our risk of heart disease and should be avoided. These are mostly found in processed foods.
  • Omega 3 fat: Found in fish, flax and chia seeds, omega 3 fatty acids can help decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke.

7. If you stick to healthy fats, there is no need to limit how much fat you eat. Healthy fat or not, all fat is still a major source of calories. Unless you can afford unlimited calories, it’s best to eat a diet moderate in fat.