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.
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People are obsessed with LaCroix Sparkling Water. You've probably seen people drinking LaCroix. You've definitely seen these cans at health food markets around town.
As a low calorie, artificial sweetener-free drink, LaCroix looks like a healthy drink. But is LaCroix Sparkling Water worth all the hype?
The LaCroix Appeal
The artfully designed LaCroix looks cool, but LaCroix doesn't necessarily do anything positive for your body. In fact, it won’t hydrate you like non-carbonated, non-sparkling water does.
LaCroix fans swear by the drink’s health benefits, the truth is that the drink isn’t healthier than regular water. That being said, it is a healthier alternative to cokes. Because it doesn’t contain the sweeteners or preservatives in soft drinks, LaCroix won’t spike your blood sugar or lead to weight gain.
READ: 5 REASONS TO STOP DRINKING SOFT DRINKS NOW
LaCroix Sparkling Water Ingredients
Check out the label on a can of LaCroix and you’ll see two ingredients: water and natural flavors. No high fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring or other additives.
LaCroix has zero calories, no added sugar and still tastes good. It comes in a variety of flavors, including lime, coconut, orange and apricot, and more tropical flavors like pomelo and passion fruit.
The Problem With LaCroix Sparkling Water
As noted above, carbonated water won’t hydrate the body as well regular water. They can also cause hiccups. Add in the fact that LaCroix is served up in aluminum cans that contain Bisphenol A (BPA), and it is easy to see why so many health aficionados avoid this trendy drink.
BPA is used to coat the interior of metal cans. This industrial chemical has been linked to health problems like premature puberty, infertility, hormone imbalances and even heart disease.
Should You Drink LaCroix?
If you really want to be healthy, regular water is always the best choice.
But, LaCroix can be a good alternative to Cokes. Because it doesn’t have the sugar of soft drinks, it won’t contribute to weight gain like other drinks can. And they cost about the same as a Coke or a Fanta, so you won’t have to worry about paying more for your health.
Ready to eat healthy? Pick up these ten healthy foods on your next grocery trip!
*This post was originally published in August 2016 but has been updated and republished for the sake of freshness and accuracy.
Many people avoid yoga because they're inflexible. The problem is, they're the ones who should take up yoga in the first place.
If you find yourself facing a similar situation, i.e., you'd like to start a yoga practice but don't feel flexible enough, here's the good news: There are plenty of poses you can start with while gradually deepening your practice.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind before you do the following poses:
1) Breathe deeply and evenly throughout the pose, and
2) Don't hold the pose for longer than your body allows.
1. Child's Pose
The Child's Pose is a basic resting pose you can hold for a few minutes.
How to do it: Begin with your knees and feet on the floor with your feet touching. Slowly lean forward to place your head on the floor while resting your belly and chest between your legs. Stretch your arms out in front of you.
2. Upper Chest and Back Opener
You can do this move almost anywhere and while either sitting or standing.
How to do it: Raise your arms to shoulder height with your elbows bent. Make your hands into loose fists that are facing each other. Open your chest by drawing your elbows back as if they were going to meet behind your back. Next, return to the starting position while continuing onward until your hands wrap around your shoulders with one elbow stacked on the other. Do two to three sets while switching which elbow is on top.
3. Chair Pose
Both sides of your body will move in and out of this pose at the same time. The Chair Pose is an excellent leg strengthener.
How to do it: Stand with either your feet together or hip-width apart if you're especially stiff. Bend your knees as if you're sitting in a chair while raising your arms alongside either side of your head.
4. Seated Forward Bend
If you're new to yoga, use a block and straps for this exercise, which increases flexibility in your legs and back.
How to do it: Sit on a block or blanket with your legs stretched out in front of you, knees slightly bent. Place the strap around your feet and gradually lengthen your spine as you move your upper body forward. Be careful not to round your spine.
5. Locust Pose
The Locust Pose is an excellent backbend for beginners that strengthens all of the muscles in your back.
How to do it: Lie on your belly and raise your arms, legs, and chest off of the floor. Your palms should face the floor as you focus on keeping your neck long while extending your head away from the chest. If you'd like, clasp your hands behind your back when you lift to create a deeper opening for your shoulders and chest.
6. Tree Pose
The Tree Pose is a one-legged balancing pose that helps center the mind while building confidence.
How to do it: Stand on one leg and bring the foot of your opposite leg up to your ankle (or higher depending on your flexibility). Lift your arms into the air to create the tree's "branches." It's OK to put a hand against the wall for balance or to stand with your back against the wall.
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There are many reasons why people gain weight - from lifestyle choices to diet to lack of exercise and even genetic risk factors. While research into the causes of weight gain and obesity is ever-evolving, it has become clear that another factor - attitude - plays a role, too.
The old saying, "You are what you think," can characterize many weight loss efforts in that your thoughts are either holding you back or helping you move forward. Here's a closer look at how your attitude could be making you gain weight.
1. You Aren't Patient
We live in a society where we can get things easily and quickly when compared with previous generations. Instant gratification is the norm, and weight loss often takes too long for anyone who has started exercise and/or a new diet. But experts agree that you achieve the best and longest-lasting results when you lose weight slowly. When you lose weight too quickly, you're often not losing fat but water or lean tissue.
2. All-Or-Nothing Thinking
You may be one of those people who overlook gray areas, i.e., you're either perfect or a failure. To combat this type of thinking, don't beat yourself up for an occasional slip, whether it's enjoying some cookies during an office meeting or missing a workout because of other commitments. The important thing is to stay with the program you've been following without worrying about perfection.
3. You Don't Have Enough Time
This is one of most common obstacles people face as they're trying to develop healthier habits such as exercise and eating right. While most people lead busy lives filled with work, family, and other activities, it's also possible to carve out time for yourself. Even just 20 minutes of activity a day can lead to a longer life.
4. Unrealistic Expectations
This attitude ties into patience and people sometimes set an ideal weight and think they can reach it in a matter of months. Instead, think of a weight range you can attain in the next 12 months.
5. Not Setting Small Goals
Creating a list of smaller goals will help you reach your bigger goals without forcing you to change your life radically. Some smaller goals include eating more fruits and vegetables each day and getting some physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day.
6. You Don't Believe In Yourself
Researchers have learned that people who think they can lose weight because of exercise and diet change tended to follow a healthier lifestyle with positive results. On the other hand, people who thought that they couldn't change their weight as a result of exercise and diet were less likely to make healthy choices.
7. You Follow The "Should" Illusion
In this case, you have a list of inflexible ways about how you think you and others should act. For example, you believe that you should always take on the most difficult challenge in any situation and end up injuring yourself because you over-do it during your workout routine. Be kind to yourself, accept your limitations, and be content with making small but steady progress.
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If you feel stressed out, you're not alone! Just about everyone experiences stress, especially when the temperature is soaring and other life events ramp up in intensity.
Stress is normal, yet it can be alleviated through exercise. Physical activity decreases the human body's stress hormone known as cortisol.
Exercise also spurs the release of endorphins within the body. These are the “happy chemicals” that help your mind and body relax. Incorporate the exercises outlined below in your workout and you will feel a liberating sense of relief.
Enjoy a lengthy run and you will undoubtedly feel better. Your run will take your focus off the issues or stimuli that are stressing you out. If possible, go for an outdoor run. Running outdoors is optimal as connecting with nature helps to calm the brain and melt that nasty stress away. If it is too hot to head outdoors, hit the treadmill or run in place.
Kickboxing is a fantastic, on-trend means of eliminating stress. It is best defined as a combination of traditional boxing and martial arts. This intense workout burns calories much faster than most other forms of exercise. It also helps to maintain a high metabolic rate.
Kickboxing decreases stress as it forces you to learn nuanced breathing techniques during intense physical activity. Commit to regular kickboxing sessions and you will feel more relaxed and confident in your ability to defend yourself. This means you won't stress out as much about potential physical attacks when venturing outside on your own.
This ancient Chinese martial art provides wide-ranging health benefits including stress reduction. Tai Chi combines specialized breathing techniques with flowing physical movements.
It enhances muscular strength, boosts immunity, improves flexibility, relieves pain and promotes a sense of internal peace. This is exactly what you need to unwind after a stressful day.
Most people don't think dancing does much but provide an outlet for music-lovers to move to the beat. Dancing relieves stress, tones the muscles and maintains flexibility.
Turn on your favorite music, shut the door and dance your heart out. This is your chance to express yourself, be creative and eliminate all that built-up stress.
Dancing boosts your confidence and helps you establish a healthy mindset that you can carry forth for the rest of the day and beyond. Studies have even shown that dancing boosts heart health, builds muscle, strengthens bones and spurs weight loss.
Mix yoga into your workouts and you will feel an empowering sense of inner calm and balance. Yoga boosts flexibility and strength while promoting mental and physical relaxation. Give yoga a chance and you will learn all sorts of different poses, mindfulness and controlled breathing.
The Mayo Clinic reports the benefits of yoga include decreased stress, a lower heart rate and lower blood pressure.
The best part is that yoga can be performed by anyone in just about any environment. Yoga requires minimal space and has a very short learning curve. All you need is a yoga mat and a few feet of room. It takes a mere 15 minutes of yoga to reduce your stress and boost your physique.
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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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As someone who lives in the Texas Panhandle, you know how hot it can get during the summer — especially in Palo Duro Canyon. Temperatures during the hottest months average around 90 degrees, and at times the heat can seem relentless.
It can also cause serious health issues — such as dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke — if you're not careful. Staying hydrated is a big part of staying healthy out in the heat.
Follow these steps to prevent heat stroke and other illnesses when you're out hiking in the sun.
1. Drink Before You're Thirsty
It's important to drink fluids even when you're not thirsty. When you do feel thirsty, your body is telling you that it's approaching dehydration. Replenish your fluids frequently rather than drinking simply to quench your thirst.
2. Water Is Best
While advertisements for sports drinks and other beverages may claim that they're the best way to stay hydrated, in the majority of cases, you're better off sticking with water.
Sports drinks provide certain electrolytes that are helpful for high-intensity training, but they usually contain high amounts of sugars (and calories) that you otherwise don't need.
The amount of water you should drink may vary depending on your age, weight, gender and activity level. Drinking water regularly throughout the day is the best way to stay hydrated.
3. Drink Cool Fluids
There's nothing quite like a cold drink on a hot day, but experts advise drinking cool water because the body absorbs it faster than it does cold water. Cool fluids will also encourage you to drink more during activity in hot weather.
4. Keep A Water Bottle
At Your SideA reusable water bottle is a great investment. You should always keep one nearby. You can easily replenish it during the day, and having a water bottle on hand allows you to drink fluids regularly whether you're doing strenuous activity or not.
5. Eat The Right Foods
Drinking water is the easiest and fastest way to hydrate, but eating foods that have a high water content can also ward off dehydration. Foods with high water content include watermelon, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes and celery.
Loose clothing that allows your sweat to evaporate and absorbs less heat will keep you from becoming overheated and dehydrated. If you're exercising outdoors, you should always wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
7. Avoid Alcohol
Few things sound better than a cold beer or other alcoholic beverage during a summer heat wave. But if hydration is your goal, alcohol isn't your friend. It acts as a diuretic and causes you to urinate more frequently — which leads to dehydration.
8. Watch The Clock
There's nothing wrong with exercising outside during the summer — as long as you do it during the appropriate time of day. Plan your workout for early in the morning or later in the evening when the sun isn't bearing down on you.
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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.
If you usually shop at grocery stores for your fruits and vegetables, you have probably grown tired of buying the same items over and over again. It is time to try something new.
Head out to a local farmers market and you'll find all sorts of tasty fruits and vegetables, many of which you can't find at nearby grocery stores.
The Best Foods To Buy At Farmers Markets
Farmers' markets specialize in fresh and delicious produce. The primary advantage of shopping at these markets is that they provide access to fruits and vegetables that were recently harvested at nearby farms. In some instances, farmers bring items from the farm to the market on the day they are sold. It doesn't get any fresher or healthier than that.
In terms of specific foods you will find at farmers markets, be on the lookout for bell peppers, onions, zucchini, green beans, okra, bread and jellies. Each farmer brings something unique and tasty to the table. You will likely find fruits and vegetables of different sizes, shapes and prices compared to those sold at traditional grocery stores.
So be adventurous! Give some new items a chance. Whether it is an organic version of your favorite fruit or an item you have never tried before, you just might find that it pleases your palate.
Farmers Markets In The Amarillo Area
Amarillo and Canyon have several regular farmers markets for you to give a try. Head on out to the Golden Spread Farmers Market at 15th and Pecos in the Sunset Center Parking Lot to find a variety of produce. The produce is picked within one or two days of reaching the tables for sale. The market is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. until items are sold out.
Located at 130 S. Grand St., Harold's Farmers Market is open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. every day of the week but for Sunday. It's smaller than Golden Spread but is usually less crowded.
The Amarillo Community Market at 1000 S. Polk St. features over 150 local vendors. They feature an assortment of vegetables, herbs, jams, jellies, baked goods, cut flowers and even some arts and crafts. The market is open from June 10th through October 14th. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Canyon Farmers Market is a mere 20-minute drive from the heart of Amarillo. This market is the largest in town, featuring over 40 vendors. Additionally, Amarillo's Zinnia bakery sales some of their gluten-free goods at the market. Located at the south side of the square in Canyon, the market is open every Saturday between 8 a.m. and Noon. It runs until October 8.
Ready To Eat Healthy This Summer?
Lose weight and feel better this summer by simply changing up your diet. What you eat has a huge impact on your overall wellbeing. Eating raw, organic veggies is a great place to start.
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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