Strength Training: The Secret to Looking Younger and Better

Walking, running, swimming, biking, or getting on the elliptical for 30 minutes are the most popular forms of exercise and typically what people turn to when they want to lose weight.

If this is how you spend your time at the gym or outdoors, the heart health benefits are undeniable. But, unless you’re pushing around some weights a couple of times a week, you’re missing out on one of the most important components of physical fitness. The one that will make you look younger and better.

Weights

Save Your Muscles

As you age you lose muscle. People that are inactive lose about three to five percent of their muscle mass per decade after the age of 30. That means, by the time you’re 50 you will have lost up to 15 percent. Physically active people also experience age-related muscle loss although not quite as drastically.

The loss of muscle tissue can generate a variety of inflictions including sarcopenia, osteoporosis, weight gain, loss of balance and decreased energy. It is the primary reason why people begin to look frail and weak as they age and many take on a stooped appearance.

Adding a couple of strength training workouts to your cardio routine a couple of times a week can turn these conditions around or prevent them from occurring in the first place. Strength training is the key to looking and feeling younger than your age.

You don’t need a gym membership or expensive equipment to do some basic exercises that will help you save your muscles.  I’ve picked seven exercises that target the larger muscle groups so you get the best results for your time spent.

If you have time left over and want to work on biceps, triceps and calves – what I call vanity muscles – go for it. But focus first on working the larger muscle groups to prevent overall muscle loss and stimulate muscle gain.

1. Chest Press – Lie on your back on a bench or exercise ball with a dumbbell in each hand. Slowly press your hands to the ceiling and then back down so that the elbows drop slightly below the ball.  Repeat 12 times. Do two sets.

Chest Press

2.  Upper Back or Rear Deltoid Fly – Still holding the weights, stand and bend over so your hands are down by your knees. Lift your arms out to the side as though you’re getting ready to take off and fly.  Release slowly to starting position. Focus on pulling the shoulder blades together in the back.

Rear Deltoid Fly

3.  Clean and Press – This is a multi-purpose exercise.  It works the large muscle groups in the legs as well as shoulders. Holding the dumbbells down by your sides, squat down slowly. As you come up, push weights overhead to a shoulder press.  Release the weights back down and repeat.

Clean and press

4.  Dead Lift – This exercise works the hamstrings.  Start by holding a weight, weighted ball or kettle bell in front.  Slowly bend over lowering the weight down to the floor.  Try to keep your knees straight as you bend over. Slowly come back up to starting position.

Dead Lift

 

5.  Side Leg Raise – Having strong abductors (outer thighs) will help you maintain balance. In a standing position or laying on your side on the floor, slowly lift one leg away from the body and back in 12 times.  Repeat on the other leg. Using a resistance tube will make this exercise more challenging.

Side Leg Raise

6.  Push-Ups – On your knees or with toes on the floor, place hands under your shoulders and lower your chest down to the floor. Come back to starting position and repeat.

Push Up

7.  Plank – With your elbows and toes on the floor, tighten your tummy and hold your body in a straight line for 10 seconds.  Work up to holding the position for 30 seconds and eventually a minute.

Elbow Plank

There are numerous variations to these moves, but if you want to get started with some basic exercises that don’t take a lot of time or equipment these should do the trick.

Try to do two sets of 12 of each exercise two to three times a week.  When they start to feel easy to you keep challenging yourself by increasing the weight or adding a weight bar or other equipment such as kettle bells. You should notice some noticeable changes within three to four weeks.

Strength training will save your muscle and your bones. Did I mention that these basic strength training exercises will make you look better?

(Pics are from Pinterest. Click on the picture to see the source.)

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Why Cheat Days (And A Few Other Things) Are A Bad Idea

I hear a lot about cheat days when I’m talking to people that are trying to lose weight.

Many people say one cheat day a week keeps them motivated to stay on the diet on the other six days. If you’re truly seeking long-term weight loss, being on a deprivation diet where the reward is one day when you can eat anything and everything is a bad idea.

Cheat days are a sign that your relationship with food needs some work and keeps you stuck on that wheel of using food as a form of punishment and reward.

Dog with bone

If you are someone that is engaged in a lifelong battle with your weight I’m willing to bet you follow a pattern that goes something like this.

1.  Is That Really Me? - Something happens in your life and you decide you have to lose weight right now.  Maybe the decision was brought on by a trip to the doctor where you get some not-so-good news about a health condition related to your weight, or you see a picture of yourself and can’t believe that’s how you look. Maybe there’s an event like a wedding or high school class reunion coming up that you want to look great for. You’re ready to get started and your motivation is high.

2. It Worked For My Cousin’s Mother – You share your plans to lose weight with a friend or co-worker. They tell you about a diet their sister-in-law is on. She’s lost 20 pounds in three weeks.  You say “sign me up”.

3.  Game On – You start out on the top of the wave.  You’re losing weight, maybe drop a pants size or two, and are having no trouble adhering to the diet. It doesn’t bother you that you can’t join your friends once a week for lunch or meet your co-workers for a cocktail after work on Friday because the slightest digression could blow everything.  There is no temptation strong enough to come between you and your goal.

4.   Victory – After several months of weekly – maybe even daily – weigh-ins and the highs and lows that come from that practice, you reach your goal weight.  You. Win!  No one really knows or understands how much you’ve had to sacrifice to get that scale to display the arbitrary number that you selected six months ago.

Now What?

You look great. You feel even better. Three or four weeks go by and you decide an occasional splurge will be okay. You shouldn’t have to deprive yourself forever. That would just be wrong.

You go to lunch with your friends and order the creamy shrimp alfredo that you’ve so missed and join your co-workers for the Friday happy hour drink specials once again. You begin to slip back into living your life the way you did before that moment in time when you vowed that things were going to change.

The pounds creep back on, and, as disappointing as that is, you can’t find the motivation you need to go back to ‘the diet’.

What Does This Have To Do With Cheat Days?

Cheat days are a sign that you are participating in a process that is unsustainable. Having a cheat day means that you feel that you’re giving up so much on days one through six that on day seven you deserve a treat so you’ll be able to keep doing the deprivation thing on the other days. You’ve made a deal with yourself.

Rather than trying to keep your promise to be good six days out of seven, why not put some work into figuring out how important it is to be at that oh so coveted weight and what you’re going to have to do different from now on to stay there? Getting there is easy. Staying there is much trickier because, over the years, you’ve developed habits and eating patterns that make gaining weight inevitable.

Although you may not recognize it, you’ve also developed this internal belief that having to eat right every day and exercise at least a few times a week to stay healthy and look good in your black dress isn’t fair.

Don't reward yourself

It’s Not Your Fault (but it’s up to you to fix it).

Dr. Phil says that you are not to blame for what happened to you as a child.  But, as an adult, despite whatever took place back then, you have to take responsibility for your life now.

The same is true of your battle with food. We live in a society that is obsessed with high calorie, overly processed, yet highly satiable foods.  These tempting foods are on every street corner. Super market rows are stocked full of them. Indulgent foods are at the center of every social event.

We ignore that the purpose of food is to provide fuel to our bodies. Most of the foods that are consumed today don’t fulfill this primary objective.

You’re not to blame for the obsession our society has with food that has led to obesity for 35% of American adults.  There is nothing you can do about the endless deluge of foods that test your willpower each day. That’s all way bigger than you.

You’re also not to blame for the prevelance of the idea that healthy, nutritious whole foods that provide vitamins and fiber along with a bunch of ther nutrients that our bodies actually need are tasteless. Or that ’clean’ eating (forgive me for using that buzzword) is nearly impossible to do for any length of time. Neither are true.

I hope you will begin to re-think your truths about food, what you’re eating, why you’re eating it and whether or not you should be on a diet where the incentive is a day of eating ‘bad’ foods. The reward for even the most heroic of acts should never be a cookie.

What do you think? Do cheat days work for you?

If you liked this article, you might also like Do It Right The First Time So You Won’t Have To Do It Twice.

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What You Can Learn From Star Trainer Michelle Bridges: Just Friggin Do It!

“Success is all down to how badly you want it.  Nothing will ever be handed to you, and if it is you never appreciate it anyway. Successful people are hard workers.  Period!”
– Michelle Bridges

There’s a lot you can learn from Michelle Bridges. Not just in relation to reaching your health and fitness goals, but about life in general.

Michelle has been a trainer on the Australian version of The Biggest Loser since 2007. She is the author of eight bestselling books including Crunch Time: Lose Weight Fast and Keep It Off, and Losing the Last 5 Kilos: Your Kick-Arse Guide to Looking and Feeling Fantastic.

Michelle Bridges

She started the on-line 12 Week Body Transformation program in 2012 and has helped people around the world lose over a million pounds.

Michelle has been a go-getter since she was 14 when she began teaching fitness to the other teenagers at her school.  At the age of 26 she realized that it was time to take her fitness career to the next level and moved to Sydney, Australia where, with $275 in the bank, she began her own personal training business, became a freelance group fitness instructor and a trainer for Les Mills.

The business that she began with $275 is now a multi-million fitness empire that reaches people across the globe.

Her enthusiasm for health and fitness is infectious and engages millions of people around the world. Much of her inspiration comes from her “don’t overthink it, just friggin do it” mantra.

Besides, “just friggin do it”, here are five things that you can learn from Michelle:

1.  Motivation Is Like A Bad Boyfriend – Michelle is shocked by the obesity epidemic that is facing many countries and says that people are eating their way to the grave.  She believes part of the problem is that people are hung up on motivation and if you’re waiting around for it, it may never come. Losing weight isn’t about motivation.  “No way.  Motivation is a crock, you see.  I’m in the motivation business; but motivation is like a bad boyfriend.  He’s never there when you need him.”  Michelle says being healthy is about forming good habits and practices.”

2.  No Matter What Exercise You’re Doing, Go Hard In the End – Michelle calls this the Final Blast and says it’s what you have to do at the end of every workout.  “Leave it all on the field.  Hold nothing back.  Go all in.”  Whatever you’re doing, whether it’s running, doing ab crunches or squatting, the final push at the end will help your fitness go up and your weight go down.

3.  Don’t Let Low Temps Keep You From Training – Michelle answers the age old question, “How do you stay motivated to exercise in the winter?” She says she likes to look at winter exercise as “a time of careful preparation for the coming spring and summer.” If you’re not sure how to approach exercise during the winter months, consult with a personal trainer who can help you put a plan in place. Whatever you do, don’t use the winter months as an excuse not to exercise.

4.  Unless You Change Your Mind Set Your Weight Loss Endeavors Will Fail – One of the biggest challenge Michelle faces in helping people achieve their weight loss goals is getting them to overcome the victim mentality and the blame game.  They say “It’s not my fault, it’s my children’s fault.” Or, “It my husband’s fault. When the truth is staring back at them from the fridge.” Her advice is to ditch the victim mentality and start accepting responsibility for absolutely everything you do. Everything.

5.  Accept Your Body For The Things It Can and Cannot Do – Comparing ourselves with others isn’t just bad.  It’s disastrous. You probably heard your parents tell you when you were young that there will always be someone better looking, smarter, and more athletic than you.  Michelle agrees.  “Put the work into your emotional self to get to a state of truly accepting your body as the gift that it is – the way it looks, and the things it can and can’t do.” It’s okay to be you.

Globe Trotter

Last year Michelle came to the United States to launch her 12 Week Body Transformation and is quickly becoming a fitness celebrity here too.  She is in the business of changing lives and works to help people conquer their mental barriers about weight loss, food and exercise.

According to Michelle, “The whole yo-yo—up-down, off-on, in-out is far more damaging than being overweight will ever be because that stuff messes with your head.  It’s almost like psychological obesity.  Then I come in with a sledgehammer and go, “Right. Let’s get real!”

For more information about the 12 Week Body Transformation, click here.

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3 Practical Weight Loss Tips, Not Tricks

Weight loss tips and gimmicks are never in short supply.  Figuring out which strategies to try and which ones are a waste of time and money can be tricky.

Here are three tips that have been in the news lately that are backed by research and can help you reach your weight loss goals.

Just say no to starvation diets.  Flickr photo by Gideon

Just say no to starvation diets. Flickr photo by Gideon

1. Healthy Gut Bacteria Aids Weight Loss – The theory that having ‘good’ bacteria in our gut keeps us healthy, improves digestion and lowers intestinal inflammation isn’t new.  Now, a couple of recent studies have tested the effects of probiotic yogurt on weight loss in women and show that healthy bacteria may also help reduce belly fat.

In one 24 week study, 125 obese men and women were divided into two groups.  During the first two weeks all participants maintained a low-calorie diet.  One group was taking a pill that consisted of one full serving of yogurt.  The other group was given a placebo. The women in the study that were taking the probiotic pills lost an average of 9.7 pounds during the two weeks.  Those taking the placebo lost approximately 5.7 pounds.

During the second half of the study all of the participants followed a specific diet regimen that helped them maintain their weight loss.  The average weight loss for women taking the probiotics was, on average, 11.5 pounds. The women on the placebo stayed at the same weight.  The men did not seem to be affected by the probiotics.

In a Japanese study 210 overweight people were divided into three groups.  For 12 weeks everyone drank a daily seven ounce serving of fermented milk.  Two of the groups had probiotics mixed in the milk. The participants that had the milk with the probiotics lost one to three percent of belly fat and eight to nine percent visceral fat.

Researchers say that to see a reduction in body fat, you will have to eat yogurt on a regular basis, maybe even every day as the subjects in the studies did.

Check the label to make sure the yogurt you buy has a graphic that says “live and active cultures” on the container and provides a list of the cultures.

Also, watch out for the added sugar that is in many yogurt brands. Your best bet is to buy plain Greek yogurt because it is low in sugar, higher in protein, and more filling.  Then add fresh or frozen fruit to sweeten it.  The active cultures found in kefir will also provide an abundance of probiotics.  Kefir can be added to yogurt, mixed into smoothies or eaten alone.

2. Structured Weekdays Can Un-do Weekend Splurges – Putting most of the efforts into staying on a structured eating plan Monday through Friday may improve your changes for weight loss even if you splurge a little on the weekend.

Dr. Brian Wansink, a researcher at Cornell University, says that there is a natural seven day weight cycle that is similar in all humans.  Almost everyone gains weight over the weekend and loses some weight during the week.  Typically people weigh the most on Sunday and the least on Friday.

Dr. Wansink and a team of researchers studied 80 adults ranging in age from 25 to 62.  He categorized them as weight losers, weight gainers, and weight maintainers.  The researchers  found that the difference between the weight losers and the weight gainers was that the ‘losers’ had a stronger compensation pattern after the weekend weight gain so their weight began dropping immediately after the weekend.

The weight ‘gainers’ had no clear decrease during the week which possibly indicates they weren’t able to recapture their discipline after the weekend.

If you’re someone that tends to overdo it on the weekend and feels depressed when you get on the scale on Monday morning the best thing to do is move on and focus on what happens next. That doesn’t mean that you can eat unabashedly every weekend  and still see many results.

But if you do have a piece of triple layer chocolate cake or a cheesy pasta entrée that’s loaded with calories, don’t beat yourself up over it. On Monday morning get your calories back under control and continue working toward you goal.

3. Lower The Thermostat To Increase Metabolism – When I first read about the theory that shivering can help you lose weight I laughed because it sounded so ridiculous. But it turns out that there may be some truth to this shiver-to-lose-weight stuff.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) claims that both moderate exercise and moderate shivering convert bad white fat into healthier brown fat. In a nutshell white fat stores fat and brown fat burns it.

The research done by the NIH found that both moderate exercise and shivering from being cold increases the level of the hormone irisin and FGF21.  Over a six day period irisin and FGF21 turned human white fat cells into brown fat cells.

This is exciting news according to Dr. Paul Lee, an endocrinologist from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia that conducted the study while at the NIH. “White fat transformation into brown fat could protect animals against diabetes, obesity and fatty liver. Glucose (blood sugar) levels are lower in humans with more brown fat,” Lee said.

Lee also says that people with more brown fat are thinner than those with less of it.

The good news is you may not have to stand out in sub-zero temperatures to reap the benefits of shivering.  A Japanese study found that people experienced a drop in body fat after spending two hours a day for six weeks at a temperature of about 63 degrees Fahrenheit.

Over To You

Do you have a weight-loss tip that has worked for you?

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New Study Shows Avocados Are Good For Appetite Control and Weight Loss.

For anyone trying to lose or maintain weight, the hunger factor can be a big problem.  Diets always start out great. You’re following the plan, tracking calories and the pounds are melting away.

Then you hit a wall. You’re hungry. No, not hungry.  Famished!  You’ve been hungry for days, or even weeks, and you’re over the diet. You can’t live like this any longer and into the bag of kettle chips or tub of rocky road ice cream you go. You’re on a bender and there’s no stopping it.

Once you’ve recovered from the food coma you have a couple of options.  You can pick up where you left off and get back on the diet and deal with being hungry all of the time.

Or, you can think about your diet in a different way.  Instead of thinking about how many calories are in the foods you eat, you can pick your foods by where they fall on the Satiety Index.

Avocado

New studies show that avocados may be a natural appetite suppressant.

Solving Your Hunger Crisis

Some foods – potato chips for example – are irresistible.  It’s true that no one can eat just one.  The crunchy saltiness of a potato chip is one of those foods that can destroy a day of dieting because we can eat a ton of them before we feel the least bit full. Combine that with the fact that they are high in calories (20 chips has about 147) and have little to no nutritional value makes them a dieter’s disaster.

Watermelon, on the other hand, is a dieter’s friend.  It is sweet and crunchy, loaded with vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants.  It is low in calories (one cup has about 46).  Watermelon will fill you up quickly and keep you full much longer than the chips will.

Researchers have been studying satiety for year.  The results?  Some foods fill you up quicker and stay in your stomach longer and therefore do a better job of holding off hunger.

Avocados: Friend or Foe?

A recent study on satiety found that consuming half of an avocado leads to a greater feeling of fullness and less of a tendency to snack between meals.  Since the study, the internet has been aflutter with stories about how avocados can help people lose weight.

The avocado is a fruit rich in nutrients that is high on the Satiety Index.  Oranges, bananas, apples and proteins like lentils, cheese, fish and beef also rank high on the index.

In a detailed study, led by Suzanna Holt from the University of Sydney, researchers fed human test subjects fixed-calorie portions of 38 different foods.  They recorded the subject’s perceived hunger following each feeding.

From this study the researchers determined that satiety is “most strongly related to the weight of the food consumed”.  Foods that weigh the most, satisfy our hunger the best, despite how many calories they contain. The study also found that high amounts of certain nutrients, protein, and dietary fiber improve satiety.

Low In Calories/High In Satiety

The key is to consume generous amounts of those foods that rank high on the satiety chart, but are low in calories and, at the same time, avoid high calories foods that have a low satiety rating.  Potato chips, for example, have a satiety score of 1.2.  Watermelon is at 4.5.  A roasted chicken breast is at 3.4 while a Snickers bar is at 1.5.

You can spend a lot of time trying to find out where all of the foods you eat rank on the Satiety Index. If you purchase whole foods and make your meals at home you’re sure to consume foods higher on the scale.

Fast foods and heat-and-eat convenience meals have, through processing, been stripped of most their nutrients and fiber so they don’t leave much for your digestive tract to do once you’ve eaten them. Processed foods are on the Satiety Index along side the potato chips and Snickers Bar.

Meals that you create in your own kitchen have the most staying power. I love this video, How Cooking Can Change Your Life.  It says it all in two and a half minutes.

You can learn more about where some of your favorite foods rank on the Satiety Index, and get help calculating meals using the Fullness Factor at Self Nutrition Data.com.

What’s your favorite filling food?

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Is Your Job Making You Fat?: Tips To Conquer Occupational Health Hazards

We know what causes obesity, too many high calorie foods and not enough physical activity. A recent study by the Center for Disease Control has uncovered one more factor:  Your Occupation.

What you do between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm has a big impact on your weight and your health. And while there’s nothing shocking about the findings of the report the CDC recently released  we can learn from it and put a plan in place to limit the effects our workplace has on our weight.

What you do from 8 to 5 can have a big impact on your weight.

What you do from 8 to 5 can have a big impact on your weight.  Flickr photo by Dan Perry

For the study, researchers reviewed 37,626 people working in the state of Washington.  They used the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System – the largest telephonic health survey system in the world – during odd numbered years between 2003 and 2009 and gathered data on demographics, occupation, physical activity levels, fruit and vegetable consumption, leisure-time activities and smoking levels.

Overall the obesity level of workers in the State of Washington was at 24.6 percent which is lower than the rate across the United States as a whole, which is 35.7 percent.  According to the CDC over one-third of American adults are obese.

What’s more, the CDC report states that “obesity prevalence and health risk behaviors vary substantially by occupation” providing an opportunity for employers, policy makers, and health promotion practitioners to target workplace obesity prevention and health behavior programs. [Read more...]

Do It Right The First Time So You Won’t Have To Do It Twice

“People don’t have time to do it right the first time, but they always have time to do it twice.”
– Dr. David Hunnicutt, CEO, Wellness Council of America.

Attacking your weight loss goals like you’re a contestant on NBC’s Biggest Loser may be one of the worst approaches for long-term success.  When you dramatically limit calories, sacrifice eating real food for pre-packaged shakes and heat-and-eat meals, and push yourself to lose five to six pounds a week, you’ll see drastic results the first couple of weeks.

After that you burn out and stop losing weight before you reach your goal.  Most people gain the weight back, and many put on more than they lost.

Blackboard

You’re Not In A Contest

Unless you stand to win a large sum of money for losing a lot of weight fast, slow down. You’ll have better success at dropping pounds, and keeping them off, if you approach weight-loss as a long-term project that will lead you to better health.

Don Moffitt, a state representative that lives near Peoria, IL, accomplished a personal goal of losing 100 pounds by doing just that. He tackled his 100 pound weight loss goal ten pounds at a time.  He lost the weight slowly, established new and healthier habits, and has kept it off for more than a year.

“I never looked at it as losing 100 pounds.  I just looked at it as taking off 10, and then repeated it nine more times,” Moffit said.

Don also put some other tried and true practices into play.  He tracked calories and tried to not consume more than 1500 a day.  He also set a target goal of walking 10,000 steps per day, which is about three miles.

Before losing the weight he was on medications for high blood pressure, cholesterol, and was told by his doctor that he would soon need medications for diabetes.

Not only did he shed pounds, but he is now being phased off of all medications, no longer has sleep apnea and has “kicked diabetes to the curb”.

Setting those small, realistic goals that we discussed in Forget About Lofty Resolutions and Set Achievable Goals applies to losing weight.  Whether you have 10 pounds or 100 to lose, a weight-loss goal of one to two pounds a week is realistic.

Take time to establish different eating patterns, find the options for physical activity that work best for you, and allow some wiggle room for an occasional set-back. Do it right the first time and you won’t have to do it twice.

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Leftover Halloween Candy? When In Doubt, Throw It Out!

We had a ton of rain in our area for Halloween this year.  The tricker treater traffic was about half of what it would be in a normal year.  You know what that means?  Leftover Halloweed candy.

Does this look like the mess you're left with?

Does this look like the mess you’re left with? Flickr photo by Rochelle just Rochelle

I don’t want to be the Scrooge of Halloween and certainly don’t want to be compared to the woman in Fargo, ND that said she planned to send a ‘fat’ letter home with overweight trick or treaters instead of a treat.  This helpful (ahem) letter suggested that the parents limit the amount of candy their children eat at Halloween. She argues that she is trying to be helpful.

There is a lot of candy purchased and consumed on Halloween. When it comes to leftover Halloween candy, the garbage is the best place for it. The actual moment when you release the candy into the garbage might be excruciatingly painful but after that you don’t ever have to think about it again.

What To Do? 

On the morning F.M. radio station that I listen to on the way to work the DJs were talking about a lady that takes leftover Halloween candy and freezes it.  A year later she pulls it out of the freezer and passes it out to the trick or treaters again. Everybody thought that was kind of icky.  But . . . . . what do you do with leftover Halloween candy?  It’s a problem!

Do The Math

We all know that when leftover candy is in the house our brain gets in that loop and we’re thinking about it every 30 seconds or so.   After we’ve thought about it every 30 seconds for an hour, we’ve figured out a way to justify eating it:  “If I only eat three of the mini Twix bars it’s only 151 calories. That amounts to nothing really.”

That might be okay for two days, but if you’ve got a boat load of candy and eat three pieces a day for a week, you’ve consumed 1,071 extra calories in candy which may very well keep you from losing that pound you’ve been working on.

Some people think the answer to the problem is to take it to the office and torture the co-workers with it.  Rather than working, they will be thinking about the candy every 30 seconds and deep down they will hate you for it.

Did You Know That:

  • Children on average receive between 3,700 and 7,000 calories worth of Halloween candy each year.
  • They would have to walk for 44 hours to burn off the extra calories
  • Approximately 17 percent of children ages 2-19 are obese; 31 percent are overweight or obese.

Throw It Out; Feed A Child?  Umm. No. 

I beg of you.  Throw it away and do not feel guilty about it. Despite what our mother’s may have told us, throwing away food that we don’t want or need does not have any impact on a child starving somewhere across the globe. To help a hungry child we can donate to mini Twix bars it’s only 151 calories, 3,700 and 7,000 calories, or Plan USA.

You can throw away the candy and still help feed a child.

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Six Body Weight Plateau-Buster Exercises To Do Every Day

Have you reached the dreaded weight loss plateau?

Just because you’re stuck doesn’t mean you have to find an extra hour a day to work out or incorporate harsher calorie restrictions.  Both strategies can end up working against you.  Instead, try adding a few simple, yet powerful, exercises to your daily workout routine.

Below are six fat-busting bodyweight moves you can do every day.  The best thing is that you don’t need a gym membership, or equipment at home to do them.  They can be done anywhere, anytime, and trigger a variety of muscle groups.

You should be able to complete one set of 12 repetitions of each exercise in about ten minutes.

1.  Plyo Suqats - Stand with feet wide.  Drop hips back to a squat position.  As you come up, jump off of the floor while swinging arms up and overhead.  Repeat. This is an excellent cardio move and will get your heart rate up so that you’ll burn extra calories.

Plyo Suat With Jump

Plyo Suat With Jump

2.  Squat Thrust – They are similar to P.E. burpees.  Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.  Drop down so that both hands are on the floor.  Jump feet back so that you are in plank position.  Jump feet back to hands, then jump up to standing position.  Repeat. (Tip: add a push-up when you’re in the plank position for more intensity.)

Burpee with jump.

Burpee With Jump.

 

3.  Skater Lunge – Imitate the motion of skating, as you alternate driving legs back and across while swinging  your arms (as pictured below).  It’s a great cardio move and will tone and strengthen hamstrings.

Skater Lunge

Skater Lunge

4.   Staggered Hand Push Ups – I love the staggered hand push-ups because they work the upper body and, at the same time, challenge the core.  In push up position, stagger the hands so that the right hand is at 2 o’clock position and the left is at 8 o’clock.  Do one push up.  Quickly move the hands so that the left is at 2 and the right is at 8 and do another push up.  Continue to do the push-ups and try to move the hands quickly enough so that both hands are off of the floor at once.

Staggered hand push up

Staggered Hand Push Up

5.  Walking Hand Plank – Get in a plank position with both hands on the floor.  Hands should be directly below the shoulders.  Slowly walk the hands and feet forward four steps.  Be sure to keep the core tight so that you don’t lift your buns in the air as your move.  Slowly walk four steps back.  Repeat.

Walking Plank

Walking Plank

6.  Scissors – Lie on your back with both legs out to the front.  Lift your shoulder slightly off of the floor.  You can use your hands to support your head.  Lift the legs off of the floor and slowly scissor legs.

Scissors

Scissors

All of the moves are challenging so do them at your own pace.  As the exercises become easier, increase the number of repetitions of each exercise and eventually increase the speed.

These six, dynamic, body weight exercises will help you improve your overall strength and agility and get the number on the scale moving in the right direction again.

Do you have a favorite body weight exercise?  Leave your best exercise tip in the comment section below.

(All pictures are from Pinterest.  Click on the photos to link to the original picture.)

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Almonds: A Good Snack for Nutrition and Weight Loss

Almonds are my number one snack food.  I eat them every morning for a little extra post-workout recovery protein and in the afternoon to curb my appetite until dinner.  I always knew that almonds were loaded with fiber and nutrition, but now a new study released shows that they also reduce hunger and that eating them on a regular basis poses little risk for weight gain.

Almonds

Researchers at Purdue University that wanted to learn what impact snacking on almonds had on hunger and weight gain took 137 adults who were at risk for type 2 diabetes and divided them into five groups:

  • One group avoided all nuts and seeds.
  • A second group ate 1.5 ounces of almonds with breakfast each day.
  • A third group ate 1.5 ounces with lunch each day.
  • The fourth group ate 1.5 ounces of almonds as morning snack.
  • A fifth group ate the same amount as an afternoon snack.

The participants were not on any calorie or food restrictions or given any other dietary guidelines to follow.  They were expected to follow their usual eating pattern. The almonds provided the participants with about 250 calories per day.

At the end of the four week study the results showed that despite the increase in calories from the almonds, the participants did not increase the total number of calories they ate and drank over the course of the day and they did not gain weight.

Researchers concluded that almonds are a good snack option, especially for those concerned about weight.  One of the lead researchers, Richard Mattes, PhD, MPH, RD, distinguished professor of nutrition science at Purdue University and the study’s principal investigator said, “In this study, participants compensated for the additional calories provided by the almonds so daily energy intake did not rise and reported reduced hunger levels and desire to eat at subsequent meals, particularly when almonds were consumed as a snack.”

Health Benefits of Almonds

Not only do almonds fill you up and keep you from nibbling on other snacks throughout the day, they also contain a significant quantity of several nutrients.  One quarter cup of almonds supplies 45% daily value of manganese; 44.8% of vitamin E; 24.6% of magnesium; 21.8% of tryptophan; 257 mg of potassium, 6 grams of fiber and a little over 200 calories.

Almonds are also known to lower LDL cholesterol, reduce the risk for heart disease, and decrease the after-meal rises in blood sugar.  A study on 9 healthy volunteers that were fed high glycemic meals showed that eating almonds with the meal reduced the rise in the subjects’ blood sugar.  The more almonds the volunteers ate, the less their blood sugar’s rose indicating they are a factor in the prevention of type 2 diabetes.

All of the research showing that almonds are a superfood and power houses of nutrition reassures me that my daily almond habit isn’t one that I need to try and break.  For that I’m grateful.

And almonds aren’t just great for snacking.  Slivered almonds are delicious in salads, vegetable dishes, and Greek yogurt.  Add them to cereal, oatmeal and rice for a nutty taste.

Your Turn

Are you an almond lover or is there another nut that keeps you satisfied between meals?

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