Your life is busy enough — you work, you raise kids, you’re on the PTA and you sometimes get stuck in traffic coming home from work (or going to it, for that matter).
It becomes easy to say you don't have enough time for other things, such as exercise, no matter how important they can be. But most of us can spare at least 20 minutes.
Studies have shown that walking for just 20 minutes a day has a variety of health benefits, and could very well help you prolong your life.
In fact, one study in the United Kingdom showed that a sedentary lifestyle was responsible for twice as many deaths as obesity. When you think of it that way, carving out 20 minutes of your crammed schedule doesn't seem that hard, after all.
7 Benefits of Walking 20 Minutes a Day
1. Longer Life
It's worth repeating that even brief amounts of exercise - like 20 minutes of walking - can help you to live a longer life, while inactivity is responsible for a large amount of deaths.
2. Weight Loss
Twenty minutes of walking a day can help trim your belly and burn calories. It also helps to reduce visceral fat, a dangerous form of fat that presses against your body's organs. The U.K. study showed that simply having a body mass index (BMI) lower than obesity lowered mortality by nearly four percent.
3. Better Mood
Want to improve your mood after (or before) a long day? Research shows that even a moderately-paced walk can release endorphins that help trigger a positive mood.
4. More Energy
People who walked just 20 minutes a day reported feeling less fatigued and more energetic. Walking increases your blood flow, which increases the body's ability to create energy.
5. Less Risk of Heart Disease
The U.K. study showed that walking 20 minutes a day can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by eight percent. By doubling the walk to 40 minutes, your risk of heart disease is lowered by 18 to 20 percent, the report said.
6. Decreased Risk of Diabetes
Taking a walk after a meal will lower your blood sugar and lessen your risk of Type 2 diabetes.
7. Better Memory
Through walking and exercise, people have a larger hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Moreover, it can lower your risk of getting dementia.
Working with a personal trainer like Ralph Roberts can help you better attain your fitness and health goals. Contact Ralph today to schedule a free personal training session.
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You probably already know that setting workout goals is important, but did you realize that there are both short-term and long-term fitness goals that you need to set?
While they are very different, each one is important in its own right, and both will go a long way toward helping you achieve the body, fitness level and overall health you desire.
Here is the difference between short-term and long-term fitness goals, and what role each plays in your workouts.
What Are Some Examples Of Short-Term Fitness Goals?
A short-term goal is one that is achievable in a shorter amount of time. Some examples of short-term goals could include, "workout three times a week," "eat less carbs," "or run one mile every day."
If you already work out three times a week, vow to exercise five times a week.
Other examples of short-term goals include things like adjusting your eating habits like cutting out soft drinks, or adding extra reps onto your sets (perhaps doing 12 dumbbell biceps curls instead of 10) or adding more weight onto each set (lifting 15 pound weights for each bicep curl rather than 10).
If you are a runner, you might decide to add five minutes to your run or an extra block. Swimmers might decide to add an extra lap.
These are considered short-term goals because they are more quickly attained. You can achieve these by the end of the day, the end of the week, or the end of the month. Long-term goals, on the other hand, often take more time, more perseverance and more willpower to achieve. They are equally important, however, and shouldn't be ignored if you want to achieve your ideal fit.
What Is A Long-Term Fitness Goal?
A long-term goal is one that that you set for yourself as an end goal, one that you wish to achieve with all your workouts.
For example, do you want to lose 20 pounds? 50? 100? Obviously, this is not a short-term goal, as it is not achievable in just a couple of weeks or months. It is, however, a strong long-term fitness goal.
Long-term goals include living healthier, lowering your BMI or your cholesterol — making lifestyle changes. Your long-term goal is something you will get to by completing all of your short-term goals. If you run a bit further every week, or add an extra workout session each week, you will obviously up your calorie burn and make it to your goals, over time.
Another realistic long-term goal is setting fitness goals such as 'running a 5K' or 'running a half marathon.' If you are interested in one of these it is extremely important to set up short-term goals (like running more each week) to get you to that end, long-term goal. As you can see, short-term and long-term fitness goals go hand-in-hand.
How Can I Meet My Fitness Goals?
Once you've decided on the best short-term and long-term fitness goals for you, the next step is to plan out how you can achieve them. Schedule workout sessions on your calendar for months in advance. Go through your cabinets and throw out junk food, then hit the stores for some fresh fruit and vegetables. Consider meeting with a trusted friend once a week to discuss your progress. Accountability partners are a great way to stay on-track.
Another way to reach your fitness goals is by getting a personal trainer. A personal trainer can help you reach your goals through motivation and custom workouts. If you are ready to get in shape or make a lifestyle change, meet with me today. I'd love to help plan and achieve your fitness goals. You can find out more about my personal training, HERE.
Sign up for my 10-Day Fit Camp and start achieving your short-term and long-term goals!
*This post was originally published in April 2014 but has been updated and republished for the sake of accuracy and freshness.
Fasting is usually considered a gimmicky diet fad or outdated religious practice. But today, a new form of fasting has taken the dieting world by storm.
Intermittent Fasting (IF) has increased in popularity over the last several years. But is it safe?
Depriving yourself of food to lose weight can be very dangerous. However, an increasing amount of research finds there are numerous health benefits to IF.
Before you decide to give it a try, there are some things you should know.
Defining Intermittent Fasting
In a nutshell, intermittent fasting involves occasional starvation done in a systematic way.
The idea behind IF is to cycle through periods of normal eating and periods of fasting. During the fasting times, you significantly restrict calories or avoid food altogether.
Some people choose to fast during certain hours each day, while others fast one or two nonconsecutive days out of the week.
Should You Fast?
While many nutritionists are now spouting the benefits of IF, others warn against it. Here, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of fasting so you can determine if it’s right for you.
Pros Of IF
In addition to the weight loss you can experience with IF, fasting may also extend your life and improve overall health. Some studies have found that IF provides these health-boosting benefits:
Cons Of IF
With all the benefits mentioned above, you may be wondering what could possibly be wrong with intermittent fasting. While not necessarily dangerous, IF can be bad for you. For one, the focus of this type of diet is on when you eat, not what.
That means your body may not be getting the nutrients it needs and you’re more likely to binge on high-sugar, high-fat foods.
Additionally, you don’t always know how your body will react—mentally as well as physically—to such extreme calorie restrictions. You may become irritable, faint, dizzy, or suffer from headaches.
The most important thing to keep in mind about IF is that it’s not for everyone. Certain health conditions make fasting unadvisable, while others improve as a result of it.
If you choose to pursue an IF eating plan, speak with a healthcare professional first. He or she can help you determine which type of fasting will work best for your health and lifestyle.
Then, if your doctor gives the go-ahead, remember to maintain healthy eating habits. Be sure to include plenty of nutritious foods during your regular eating periods, and avoid unhealthy junk food all the time—not just during fasting phases.
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You've probably heard before that fat is bad for you. But you've probably also heard that carbs are, too. Maybe that's the reason why low-fat and low-carb diets are becoming so popular.
But which one really is the best weight loss solution? And which one is the healthier option? Let's compare the two diets to find out.
Some research suggests that people who cut fat lose more body fat than individuals who cut carbohydrates. A study by the National Institutes of Health said that people on low-fat diets experienced a bigger difference in the amount of fat they were eating and the fat that their bodies were burning.
While an excessive amount of fat in your diet may lead to health problems, consuming the right kind of fat is necessary for your body to function properly.
In fact, unsaturated fat helps aid healthy metabolic functioning, regulate vital organs, and maintaining good cholesterol levels. Fat also helps slow the rate at which sugar is absorbed into your bloodstream. The result is that you feel full longer and don't have as many sugar spikes.
Often, when people cut fat, they focus on cutting all kinds of fat – including the good stuff like olive oil, avocados and nuts.
A low-carb diet restricts your consumption of carbs such as sugars and starches (like pasta and bread) while replacing them with protein and fat.
While reducing unhealthy fat is clearly good for your overall health, the majority of recent studies say that a low-carb diet leads to more pounds shed. There are many reasons why:
Of course, there are also some problems to a low carb diet. If you don’t properly balance your meals with protein, vegetables and vegetable starches, you could drop your blood sugar too low. Eating too few carbs and unbalanced meals can cause fatigue, decrease your athletic and exercise performance, and potentially cause hypoglycemia.
What's The Bottom Line?
While the majority of studies fall on the side of low-carb diets when it comes to losing weight, there are a few things to consider.
For one, you may prefer a low-fat diet if you want to eat a variety of foods (but in moderation). An effective low-fat diet includes whole grains, proteins, fruits, vegetables, as well as lean meat and fish.
Because carbs are an important source of fuel for your workout, low-fat diets may work better for someone who is physically active. And a lot of people have a harder time giving up carbs than they do fats.
That being said, you’ll probably experience more results on a low-carb diet, both in terms of weight loss and overall health. Many people who go on paleo, candida, gluten-free or other low-carb diets report having more energy and feeling stronger. There are also a lot of low-carb options at restaurants now, making it easier to follow the diet while still socializing with friends and family.
Ultimately, whether you chose to cut fat or carbs, you should always aim to eat a variety of foods, with a majority of your diet being wholesome vegetables. Keep your protein portions about the size of your palm and try to eat one cup of vegetables with every meal. You may also try swapping sugary snacks with healthy fruits even when you’re not on a low-carb diet.
Not ready to cut out fat or carbs yet? Start incorporating these healthy foods into your diet to lose weight and lower your cholesterol.
Most people think eating healthy is enough to keep their weight down and tone muscles. But, often, they're not eating as healthy as they believe they are.
In fact, plenty of "healthy foods" can actually make you gain weight. And these five so-called health foods are probably the worst culprits.
1. Whole Wheat Bread
If you think you're doing your body a favor by swapping sugar-filled white bread with whole wheat, you're only half-right.
Though most experts agree whole wheat bread is healthier than white bread, eating whole wheat carbs for every meal actually has the potential to make you gain weight.
This is because carbohydrates (even the complex version found in whole grains) are readily converted into glucose. Eating lots of carbs creates excess glycogen (glucose stores), which leads to fat buildup.
While whole wheat fibers are clearly a better choice than processed white flour, they should still be consumed in moderation. You can get the minerals and fiber found in whole wheat bread from much healthier sources. It's always a safer bet to skip the bread altogether.
2. Real Nut Butter
Natural nut butters are loaded with protein. But they're also chock-full of fat. If you want to avoid packing on extra pounds, decrease your consumption of real nut butters. A single tablespoon of raw almond butter is 100 calories. Although almond butter contains good amounts of fiber, protein, calcium and vitamin E, its high-calorie count can add up fast.
Instead of spooning out nut butters, try eating a handful of whole nuts. These contain the health benefits of nut butter but are lower in calories.
Avocados are nutritional powerhouses. You have probably heard they have the good monounsaturated fat that's awesome for heart health. Experts also claim that avocados are great for eye health, bone health, digestion, cancer prevention and natural detoxification.
So how can such a healthy fruit (yep, it's a fruit) make you gain weight? It all comes down to moderation. When eaten in moderation, avocados are a great superfood for your diet. However, when eaten in excess, they can potentially cause weight gain.
Avocados are high in calories and high in fat. This can cause you to feel tired after eating them, which can lead to overeating and weight gain.
4. Tropical Fruit
We can all agree: tropical fruit tastes amazing. Plus, fruits like pineapple, mangos, papayas and bananas are full of vitamins and antioxidants. Unfortunately, eating a bunch of these fruits could cause weight gain.
These fruits are loaded with natural sugar. Although natural sugars are easier for your body to process than processed sugars, they can still contribute to weight gain. Don't be afraid to grab a banana every once-in-a-while. But, if you find yourself craving fruit for your everyday snack, choose fruits lower in sugar like green apples, berries or pomegranates.
5. Natural Granola
Athletes who want to increase muscle mass usually go for granola. Granola is usually made with rolled oats, sugar and a combination of healthy fats like coconut oil and nuts. Some people stir in dried fruit for extra nutrients and flavor.
That being said, most store-bought granolas are high in sugar, which could potentially cause you to gain weight. Some brands are bigger culprits than others. If you're a granola addict, try to make your own granola instead of buying it at grocery stores. You can choose the toppings you like and sugars with a lower glycemic index like coconut sugar, honey, stevia and xylitol.
Eating healthy is the key to losing weight. But if you aren’t careful, what you eat can do just the opposite. Try to limit how much of these five foods you eat to help prevent gaining extra pounds.
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Meditation has become part of mainstream Western culture like never before. That's no surprise when you consider its many benefits – from improved concentration to overall peace of mind.
But does meditation also help you lose weight? While researchers are still conducting studies on the topic, some research shows there is a connection between meditation and weight loss. Here are a few of the reasons why:
1. Meditation Reduces Stress
Stress has long been shown to trigger weight gain while hindering efforts to lose weight. Meditation may lower levels of cortisol – a stress hormone that has a huge impact on metabolism and insulin insensitivity. Cortisol helps you be more aware of what you're eating and why. Moreover, stress hormones tell the body to store extra weight while leading to physical problems that result in weight gain.
A study by Carnegie Mellon University showed that 25 minutes of daily meditation for three days significantly reduced stress. Another study showed that meditation prompts brain waves to shift into a relaxed state that's similar to sleep. This relaxation lowers your body's amount of stress hormones, which can decrease overeating and weight gain.
2. Meditation Improves Self-Control
Other studies show that meditation affects the parts of the brain that aid with self-control. Improved self-control helps you be more mindful of what you're eating and how much, and makes it easier to pass on unhealthy foods when you're feeling down or distressed.
3. Meditation Helps You Become More Mindful
Daily meditation practice helps you let go of the past and excessively thinking about the future. Your past may include previous attempts at weight loss that failed or faded away when results were slow in coming. You may also experience anxiety about the future, including whether or not you can consistently practice habits such as healthy eating and exercise.
Being present helps you keep your head on straight. It can also help you pay attention to how your mind and body feel as you eat.
4. Meditation Leads To Strong Intention
It's no secret that the power of intention can have a tremendous influence on our lives. By meditating on losing weight, you're putting in the positive energy and intent to accomplish it. You're also leaving yourself open to what the world can provide you. This dedication is crucial for helping you stay on track with your weight loss goals.
5. Meditation Creates A Sense Of Purpose
Meditation not only reduces stress and creates feelings of peace within you, but it also helps you to develop a sense of purpose. Lowered stress eases the fight-or-flight syndrome that can cause hormones to become out of balance.
Although there is still a lot of ongoing research out there about meditation and weight loss, there does seem to be a relationship between the two. Meditation can help lower stress hormones like cortisol, which stops you from overeating. It also improves your frame of mind, decreasing anxiety and improving your self-control, mindfulness and sense of purpose.
If you're trying to kick off those extra pounds, you can get the basics for medication, HERE. Or, to really start shredding the pounds, give my 2 Weeks Of At-Home Workouts a try!
Many people believe one of the best ways to shed weight is to eliminate carbohydrates from their diet. But carbs are not all bad. In fact, plenty of healthy foods like fruits and beans contain carbohydrates.
While cutting carbs from your diet can help you lose pounds, you should think twice before you go completely carb free. Eliminating all carbohydrates from your diet could jeopardize your health.
Simple Vs. Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates are often confused with simple carbs, the two are fairly different.
Foods like pastries, cookies, bagels, rolls, breads and pretzels contain simple carbohydrates. These carbs do nothing for your body but provide short-term energy. Cutting them out from your diet is safe, as they don't provide much nutritional benefit.
On the other hand, you shouldn't cut out all complex carbohydrates. These are the “good” carbohydrates, so to speak. Found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans, complex carbohydrates help maintain weight and also protect against cardiovascular problems and type 2 diabetes. Examples of foods with complex carbohydrates include broccoli, quinoa, apples and kidney beans.
Side Effects Of A No-Carb Diet
Carbohydrates are an important macronutrient that the body requires in substantial amounts. If you cut all carbohydrates out of your body, you could become malnourished. According to the McKinley Health Center, the body requires more carbohydrates than any other type of macronutrient.
If you drastically reduce your carb intake or completely cut them out, you'll probably feel fatigued. You'll also crave carb-filled foods, especially foods with simple carbohydrates like cookies or french fries. You could also experience headaches, irritability, hot flashes and some dizziness.
The most dangerous consequence of not getting enough carbs is low blood glucose. Carbs are rapidly converted into glucose, the body's natural source of energy. The carbs that aren't used for glucose are stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. If you don't eat enough complex carbs, you could deplete your body of its glycogen stores. This causes low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, a serious condition that can result in debilitating problems and even death.
Carbs are also essential for regular bowel movements and healthy digestion. Fiber is critical to keeping your excretory system operating efficiently. It also helps clean your body of toxins, preventing other health problems.
Experiment With Carbohydrate Intake
The amount of carbs your body needs is different from that of your coworkers, friends and family. This number depends on factors like activity level, age, gender, genetic disposition and weight.
If you want eat fewer carbs to lose weight, try limiting your carb consumption to 20 percent of your diet. Pay attention to how you feel. If you start to feel ill or shaky, slowly add more complex carbs into your diet.
If you want to lose weight, cutting carbs is a great way to do it. Many carb-rich foods, like white bread, muffins and chips, are high in sugar but low in nutritional value. Additionally, these simple carbs are usually heavily processed and high in calories and sodium.
That being said, not all carbs are bad for you. Complex carbs are full of fiber and necessary for keeping your body running smoothly.
So feel free to drop the donuts, but you may want to think twice about cutting carbs altogether. Otherwise, you may cause your body more harm than good.
*Always consult with your physician before starting any dietary or weight loss plan. This information is for general use and is not intended to replace the advice and direction of licensed medical professionals.
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If you're like a lot of health-conscious people, your daily diet includes a smoothie that's packed with nutrients to help keep your body running efficiently.
But not every smoothie is created equal. The fact is, smoothies may contribute to your weight gain if you're not careful about what ingredients you add to it (or leave out).
Here are eight ways that your smoothie may cause you to gain weight:
1. It's Too Big
Too much of a good thing is often unhealthy, and smoothies are no exception. Even a smoothie that's packed with healthy ingredients will add up to extra calories, carbs and sugar if you make it too big. Experts say that a smoothie should be no more than 8 to 10 ounces.
2. It Lacks Fiber
Fiber helps keep your hunger at bay and improves digestion. Make sure that your smoothie includes foods with high fiber content, such as avocado and kale.
3. It's Too High In Sugar
Buyer beware: many store-bought smoothies include almost as much sugar as soda. That much sugar isn't good for you no matter how many other health benefits the smoothie might include.
Your homemade smoothie should contain more vegetables than fruits, including sweet veggies such as carrots to replace berries that have a higher sugar content.
Too much sugar also leaves you feeling tired and hungry, which can make you eat even more.
4. There Isn't Enough Protein
Studies show that protein reduces your daily calorie intake while helping your body burn fat. Many smoothies are loaded with only carbohydrates and fats, so it's important to add high-protein foods such as plain Greek yogurt, beans, cottage cheese and nuts.
You should aim to add at least 10 grams of protein to your smoothie. It will help you sustain your energy while preventing you from indulging in high-calorie snacks.
But don't add excess protein powder to your smoothie. Many protein powders have artificial sweeteners and other unhealthy ingredients.
5. You've Added Sweeteners
Adding sweeteners like honey to your smoothie enhances the flavor, but take care not to add too much. One tablespoon of honey contains 60 calories. Instead, add sweet fruit, vegetables or Greek yogurt.
6. You Drink It At The Wrong Time Of Day
Your body processes and absorbs sugar better the more active you are, which means that your sugar levels won't spike as much and leave you tired and hungry hours later. That said, the best time for your smoothie is after your workout or another part of the day when you're physically active.
7. It's High Calorie
Even low-calories foods like fruits and vegetables can add up if you're not careful. But also beware of smoothies that include calorie-rich ingredients like nut butter and coconut oil. A good way to monitor your smoothie's calories is to measure out your ingredients and plug them into a calorie counter.
8. It's Always Made With The Same Ingredients
Using the same greens in your smoothie prevents you from getting a wide variety of nutrients. Replace and add a variety of greens every week to ensure that you're getting all the nutrients you need.
Want to eat healthier and lose weight? Check out my other blog posts on nutrition.
Going to the gym is an excellent way to get in shape, meet like-minded people and stay motivated. Unfortunately, many gym-goers make mistakes while working out that prohibit them from getting the results they desire.
Here are five common mistakes to avoid if you want to get the most out of your time at the gym.
1. Performing The Same Workouts At The Same Intensity
Repeating the same exercises at the same intensity for the same number of reps creates a plateau effect in your body. You’ll see results to begin with, but after a while, your muscles will become accustomed to the moves and won’t change any further.
To truly get fit, you need to stress your body to recover and grow, then repeat that process. Switch up your workouts, add weight to your favorite technique, or strive for more reps each session.
2. Training Too Hard
While pushing yourself is a good thing, going to the point of muscle exhaustion is too far. Muscles grow when stimulated, not when crushed.
Exercising this hard puts excessive stress on your muscles and nervous system—making it more difficult for your body to recover and easier for it to sustain injuries.
Instead of maxing out your muscles every time you train, add a little more intensity each session to gradually increase the stress on your body.
3. Overextending Your Spine
Maintaining a neutral spine is crucial when working out, especially if you’re lifting heavy weights. Overarching causes back pain and leaves you more susceptible to injury.
To combat this, keep your core and glutes tight to stabilize your lower back.
4. Stopping Short Of The Full Range Of Motion
Failing to complete a move with each and every rep is harmful to your joints. There’s a reason fitness pros have designed exercises certain ways.
Be sure to watch your technique and complete the range of motion for each move. This improves your results and strengthens your joints.
5. Not Paying Attention To Safety
When exercising with a barbell and weight plates, it’s vital to utilize the safety features that go with the equipment.
Weight collars and clips keep weight plates in place while you work out, and safety bars offer a solution in case you need to drop the bar. Each of these items is designed to prevent equipment-related injuries and should always be used.
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Fitness bands have certainly been hyped up by the media. However, a growing number of Fitbit-wearers are finding that their tracker has caused weight gain rather than weight loss or weight maintenance.
Why Fitness Trackers Spur Weight Gains
Part of the problem with fitness trackers is that they don't always provide sound advice. These monitoring devices gauge one's activity level and suggest a corresponding amount of calories that can be consumed and burned.
However, the device isn't completely accurate in terms of measuring fitness activity and caloric consumption levels. As a result, some fitness trackers have caused health-conscious individuals to consume more calories than they should. These bands mistakenly overestimate physical activity levels, making people think they are exercising more than they actually are.
The bottom line is that fitness trackers don't account for each wearer's unique metabolism and other biological idiosyncrasies. Some people process food quickly while others have a comparably slow metabolic rate. If your metabolism is faster or slower than the tracking device anticipates, you might not be provided with sound advice regarding daily caloric consumption and physical activity levels.
Fitness Trackers Don't Account For Well-being
Some fitness tracker users consume fewer calories than they burn yet still don't experience weight loss. Aside from metabolism speed and possible technical errors, an alternative explanation is that fitness bands don't account for overall well-being. In the end, weight loss is more than mathematics. One's well-being and other variables like hormones, the time of day/night when meals are consumed and sleep patterns, also play a role in weight loss.
The key is to not become overly fixated with the quantification of food consumption and exercise. Recognize that fitness bands have their limitations. For example, fitness trackers can't monitor the type of calories one assumes. Try to eliminate as many simple carbohydrates, artificial sugars and high-calorie foods/drinks to maximize the accuracy of your fitness tracker.
What To Do If You've Gained Weight
If you've gained weight, you can still get your body back. The summer is the perfect time to work off extra pounds. Join a gym. Try out a new workout program. Change up your diet. It's never too late to get the body you've always wanted.
Not comfortable working out at a gym? Try out my 2 Weeks Of At-Home Workouts and get back into shape from the comfort of your living room.
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