Healthy Byte: The Mighty Six

Originally Posted HERE

Trimming the fat — that’s what fitness is all about. But taking the very notion of slimming things down and applying it to all aspects of your life can be equally as difficult, and equally as satisfying, as becoming more fit and muscular. Imagine if you could trim the proverbial fat from your workday, commute, or any other number of responsibilities? Chances are, you’d reclaim a good amount of time, and be a lot happier.

 For the uninitiated, playing the architect and devising a fitness routine can be difficult — so difficult that we’ve trimmed things down to six simple exercises that can get you started on the path to success.

1. Squats

man performing bodyweight squats on a track

Squats will always be a workout staple. | iStock.com

 We discuss squats a lot — and for a good reason. Squats are basically the founding lift or exercise that everything else builds on top of. Squats not only help you build a powerful lower body, but also work your abs, back, and really to some extent, your entire body. You’ll become stronger, faster, improve your range of motion, and your balance as well. There are many, many reasons why squats are integral to a balanced workout, so be sure to get them in.

This is why they tell you not to skip leg day.

2. Pull-ups

man doing pull-ups

Chin-ups and pull-ups are the ultimate display of strength. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Think of pull-ups as the squat of the upper-body. It’s an exercise that incorporates nearly every muscle in your personal northern hemisphere, and forces everything to work in conjunction: your back, chest, abs, and arms. Hell, you’ll even get a little cardio going. Of course, there’s a steep curve for pull-ups, as a lot of people can’t even do one. But that shouldn’t deter you — do what you can, focusing on form. Before you know it, you’ll be busting several out over a few sets.

3. Power cleans

bodybuilder power cleans

This lift works your entire body. | Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

The clean is an excellent lift, with the only potential downside being they require access to barbells and gym space. Even so, this is one of those lifts that, similar to squats, will get your whole body into action. Not only will you be using your lower body to get a powerful lift off, but you’ll need your back and core, and finally your arms to handle the weight once you get it above your waist. You’ll develop explosiveness and definitely build a lot of muscle by incorporating cleans into your workout. There are substitutes, like rows, but if you can, get your hands on a barbell and some plates for the full experience.

4. Planks

man doing planks while a woman times him

Planks will give you the abs of your dreams. | iStock.com

Here’s an exercise that can be done in a barren fitness center, devoid of any equipment, or even in a hotel room or airport. Planking is so much more than just a passing internet video fad — it’s one of the better exercises that can be adopted into your regimen. Planks will give your core and upper legs a real workout and even help sculpt your abs. And there are a ton of variations you can throw into the mix as well to ensure you don’t get bored.

5. Lunges

man doing a dumbbell lunge

Lunges are great for your booty. | iStock.com

As if we haven’t given your lower body enough of a run-through, we’re going to add lunges to the list. Lunges, like planks, can be done in a much more convenient setting, and only require a set of barbells — or anything weighty that can be carried, really. Lunges will train your glutes and quads, helping you build explosive muscle that will also help with cleans, squats, and deadlifts. Use them in addition to your other lifts, or if you can’t do anything else, use the simplicity of lunges to your advantage.

6. Burpees

man in the bottom phase of a push-up in an empty room

Burpees are tough, but they’re seriously effective. | iStock.com

Yes, the exercise you probably hate the most is, indeed, one of the most effective. Burpees are the whole package — they raise your heart rate with the jumping movement and offer strength gains with the squat, plank, and push-up positions. If you’re unfamiliar with how a burpee works, you begin by jumping up and then immediately lowering to the ground to perform a push-up. Once the push-up is complete, hop your feet back in, and jump skyward once more. This is just one rep — do as many as you can in a minute to complete a set, or try out one of these difficult variations.

 

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Healthy Byte: Body Size Perception

Originally Posted HERE

Full Research Article HERE

A new study from Macquarie University has found that people’s perception of their own and other people’s body weight can change in as little as two minutes.

“After two minutes of being exposed to images of thinner versions of themselves or others, we saw that the neural mechanisms controlling participants’ perceptions actually adapted to see thin images as normal,” lead author Associate Professor Kevin Brooks explained.

“Original sized body images now looked fatter to them.”

The opposite was also true: exposure to fatter body types made participants see original body sizes as skinny.

The researchers also found that while there were different brain mechanisms controlling a person’s perception of their own  and the body size of other people, the two mechanisms can also affect each other.

“This means that being exposed to images of skinny people doesn’t just make you feel bad about your own body size, which has been known for a while, it actually affects the perceptual mechanisms in your brain and makes you think you are bigger or smaller than you really are,” said Dr Ian Stephen, another author of the study.

“Duration and frequency of exposure definitely play a role, but the fact that the brain adapts after such a short exposure time suggests we are incredibly susceptible to being manipulated by images of different sized bodies.”

The researchers say that the results add another piece of the puzzle to our current understanding of  involving body image disturbance, such as anorexia nervosa and muscle dysmorphia, and could potentially be used in the development of treatments for such conditions.

“There is only one way for information to be received by our brains: through the perceptual and neural mechanisms fed by our senses. By unpacking the details of the  involved in body size perception we are hoping to discover more about how the brain deals with this information as a whole, so that we can understand how conditions involving  image disturbance arise,” Associate Professor Brooks concluded.

HEALTHY BYTE: Eat Instinctively

 NOTE: I am sorting through a year’s worth of links that I thought would be interesting reads for Healthy Byte. Although some of this information maybe old, there’s still tremendous value in the content. So I am meticulously picking & choosing articles that provides the most timeless information. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Originally Posted HERE 

By: Jan Bowen

It’s not exactly a secret that there’s more to being happy with your body weight than eating a specific number of calories. Food is intricately connected to our emotions and to our sense of identity.

Our meals should nourish not only our physical body, but also sustain us emotionally and spiritually, helping us live the fullest life possible. Sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? Sure. But by the time we’ve reached our early teens, we’ve often forgotten how to determine what real hunger is.

In fact, most of us, fortunate enough to never experience true physical hunger, have only experienced emotional hunger.

We’ve complicated our food, turning it into a source of conflict rather than contentment, or even — joy.

There IS a way to get back to enjoying meals as an easy, guilt-free experience again. To do so, you must ‘trust your gut’ by eating instinctively (not impulsively). This is the secret to never worrying about your weight again.

Your gut already has all the answers you need. In fact, scientists tell us there is a secondary brain in our belly, containing over one hundred million neurons of intelligence! So use that gut wisdom to help you eat well! Those gut hunches you experience aren’t just your imagination. They’re literally your body’s attempt to advise you. So, listen to it!

1. Pay attention to how you feel about food.

Focus first on ways you’re emotional eating. Diet books often focus on this as the key to permanent weight loss, and it’s definitely a large percentage of the equation. Burying our feelings via overeating or eating unhealthy foods only adds pounds and guilt.

Trusting your gut at this level means paying attention to what you’re feeling in the momentbefore you reach for the food you want to overeat. If you pause and listen, your stomach will tell you what you’re feeling.

If hearing that wisdom feels too difficult — your emotions (and all of that ice cream you spoon down) are drowning out your gut talk. Try this: After you eat something you regret, consider what you ate. Doreen Virtue, in her book Constant Craving:  What Your Food Cravings Mean and How to Overcome Them tells us that often, the type of food we eat is a clue to the emotions we’re trying to stuff.

Sometimes ice cream helps us self-medicate feelings of depression. Crunchy, salty chips tend to soothe us when we’re feeling anxious and stressed. And that slice of pie might be a substitute for the bit of encouragement you really wanted.

Notice the feelings you felt when you craved a specific food, the correlation might surprise you. Until you address the underlying issue that’s bothering you, the unhealthy eating habit won’t stop.

2. Ask yourself if you’re really hungry for something else.

If you’re handling your emotions in a healthy way and your appetite still isn’t satisfied, figure out what you’re really hungry for in life that goes beyond emotions. In what areas of your life do you lack fulfillment? Sometimes, overeating is connected to an urge to fill a void of happiness or deep-seated purpose.

Your enteric nervous system clues you in to your emotions, which is possibly why it is often considered the home seat of wisdom. You “know it at a gut level” if you pay attention. Once you identify what’s missing, don’t try to fill that emptiness with food. It won’t work.

You’ll never find peace until you forgo emotional eating and start living the life you’re meant to live.

3. Let your intuition guide what you eat.

Your body has infinite intelligence. In fact, there is individual knowledge contained within each cell of your body. It will tell you what it needs — if you listen to it. When you explore intuitive eating, your body will tell you when it’s hungry and when it’s full. Your gut will tell you what type of food your body requires and how much it needs to adequately feel nourished.

Pay attention to your body’s requests as you decide which of the many food choices are best for you. We are each biochemically unique, with distinctly individual needs. Allow your highly-tuned body-mind unit to tell you when it needs re-calibration. If you start craving nutritious foods, it’s a signal from your body that it needs the specific nutrients from that food.

 Craving beets? Maybe your blood pressure needs normalizing, or your liver needs extra support. Eggplant sounds irresistible? Maybe your brain power needs a few extra antioxidants.

Does the idea of trusting your gut to tell you what to eat sound crazy? It’s not. Try eating instinctively for six months to a year and you’ll notice your body — and health — responding in the most positive way.

Eating instinctively is an approach to food, not a diet.

When you tune into what your body is saying and give it what it needs, you will never worry about your weight again.

Healthy Byte: Three Steps to Eating Healthier for Life

A happy couple eating in Stockholm, Sweden.Maridav/Shutterstock

Every January, people making resolutions to lose weight are peppered with loads of free dieting advice. Most of it is absolutely terrible, or plain lies. Even worse, many weight loss hucksters over complicate the very simple truths we know about eating for health.

That’s why I love this chart from the Swedish National Food Agency. Its succinct (and still impressively science-based) advice is summed up in this nice graphic:

Sweden’s dietary guidelines summed up in “one minute.”

While American guideline makers are reluctant to urge the public to eat less of anything (lest they offend powerful industry lobby groups), the Swedes are clear about what people really need to cut back on: red and processed meat, salt, and sugar.

Likewise, while fad diet peddlers often suggest people eat a certain “superfood,” avoid some overly specific substance like gluten, or follow a fat-busting workout routine to stay fit, the Swedes keep it real: Just eat more plants and exercise. Instead of suggesting people do the impossible and banish fat from their diets, these Scandinavians are advised to seek out “fabulous fats” in vegetable oils and nuts. (Again, these findings jibe with what researchers have found.)

 “In truth,” the experts at the Swedish food agency write, “most people know perfectly well what they should eat. It’s no secret that vegetables are good for you and sugar isn’t.”
So here’s an idea: Save your money, and tune out the fads you’ll be inundated with this year. Ignore the unreasonable diet plans that time has shown will fail, and forget the punishing workouts. Instead, eat like a Swede.
Originally Posted HERE

HB Sig

Healthy Byte: Weight Loss Strategies for the Everyday Folks

Image result for regular people getting healthy

For some reason, people treat changing calendars as an event that marks the beginning of a new lifestyle, usually one that includes a focus on health. Sure enough, the two most popular resolutions are “losing weight” and “staying fit and healthy.” It’s pretty much a given that come January 1, gyms will be slammed and salad bars will be crammed.

But what about the folks who aren’t ready to dive into something extremely demanding, like CrossFit five days a week or a seriously restrictive diet plan? Are there less-challenging, yet still effective ways to lose weight? Absolutely!

 

Nix the sodas and fruit juices
Here’s something to think about: if you currently drink two servings of soda or juice a day, and you simply stopped drinking it right now, opting instead for healthier alternatives like sparkling water or just plain water, you’d easily be able to eliminate 300+ calories from your day and shed almost 1lb a week without any additional exercise.

2016-01-06-1452098034-4041274-weightmain.jpgCredit: Anthony Humphreys/Thrillist

Simplify your coffee
Since coffee contains caffeine, it can stimulate fat burn and weight loss. Unfortunately, coffee loses all of its weight-loss potential when you cram it with unhealthy additives like super-sweet syrups and sugars. End result: a once-healthy black coffee becomes a fattening sugarbomb. So here’s a simple solution for coffee-lovers who also want to lose weight: start taking your coffee black, and if you really can’t stand the bitterness, go for a naturally low-calorie sweetener, like stevia. Bottom line, by going au natural with your coffee, you’ll tighten up your waistline.

2016-01-06-1452098285-8879627-weight2.jpgCredit: Flickr/Jpellgen

Reduce your carbs three days per week
Not all carbs are the devil, but eating a diet high in refined carbs (think white rice, pasta, cereal, bread) can cause elevated blood sugar and insulin. End result: eating a diet high in refined carbs can make you fat and sick— and it can make it harder to lose weight.

 

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: Turn Fitness Goal to Lifetime of Good Health

NOTE: If you are like me and you simply don’t like to exercise then perhaps finding something that you “love” may be too far of a stretch. Try finding something that you don’t hate and can be consistent with and you may just end up with something you can tolerate for the long term. 🙂

While you’re working on your fitness resolutions, let’s clear up a few misconceptions:

●Your weight will fluctuate, even after hitting that feel-good goal. It happens to everyone, even elite athletes.

●At some point, you will hit a plateau.

●Your running pace will regress after initial gains.

●You will get stuck on a weight-lifting benchmark.

None of this means your work is done and you should quit. In fact, it means the work is just beginning.

Many people who accomplish short-term goals get a rush of achievement in the moment but don’t create the behavioral changes needed to maintain and improve, said Tom Raedeke, a professor of kinesiology at East Carolina University who specializes in exercise psychology. “Somehow, we have to help people go beyond . . . just meeting the New Year’s resolutions or just accomplishing this goal,” Raedeke said.

MAKE YOUR SYSTEM WORK FOR YOU

The main difference between an average adult and a high-level athlete isn’t a lack of talent or willpower but rather a lack of a system.

Sam Zizzi, professor of exercise and sports psychology at West Virginia University, points out that athletes succeed because of the infrastructure created for them: coaches and trainers, set practice times, and a methodical approach to nutrition.

All that’s left for them is to, well, just do it.

The vast majority of adults, however, do not have that in place.

“We’re competing with a wide variety of priorities, and things kind of get lost in the mix,” Zizzi said. Individuals have to either make their fitness goals a top priority and pivot their life to accommodate that goal, or merge a goal with something or someone that already is a top priority.

“There’s not this coherent goal where everyone is on board with you walking 10,000 steps a day,” Zizzi said. “You have to put the structure in place. You have to hold yourself accountable.”

Creating that structure takes accountability and support, something Evan Hakalir is building for himself. Hakalir, a 35-year-old New Yorker, lost 70 pounds in his early 20s and was physically active. During the Great Recession, he lost his real estate equity job and decided to start a new children’s clothing line, Andy & Evan, with his partner.

“With a baby on the way, I felt, ‘Oh my God, this has gotten out of control,’ ” Hakalir said. “So instead of buying the larger suit size, I decided to recommit myself to being fit.”

To keep himself accountable, Hakalir joined Weight Watchers. Wanting to use the in-person weigh-ins (and the embarrassment of a bad weigh-in) as initial motivation, he’s instead found a supportive environment.

“What I actually found were nice, like-minded people of all shapes and sizes who were on this journey. Some were much thinner than I ever was, and some were heavier. They all were on this lifelong struggle of staying healthy and fit,” Hakalir said.

Zizzi said making a plan is key. He encourages his clients to have a Plan A and a Plan B so they are prepared when life intervenes.

Raedeke recommends that individuals focus on planning an activity with details a reporter wants to know: the who, what, when, where and how. Instead of saying, “I want to walk more,” make a plan: “I will walk one mile every Monday and Wednesday at 1 p.m. with my co-worker.”

An action plan shifts the “Why?” from the outcome to the process.

Image result for fitness confidence

CULTIVATE CONFIDENCE

Just as in other areas of life, competency is a key marker when it comes to long-term health. “People are very good at their jobs and feel good and competent as a parent, but they don’t feel competent as a healthy person,” Zizzi said. “We invest and take time to do things we are good at.”

With his clients, Raedeke starts by finding out whether they have been successful in making a change in the past. “If you have, what things helped? Then, I know right away I can build on what’s worked for them in the past. It can be something unrelated to diet, but what worked for them may work for diet and exercise,” Raedeke said.

To keep the momentum going, you have to be dedicated to educating yourself (perhaps taking a healthful-cooking class or hiring a personal trainer) and to experimenting.

“Even when I first started out in my journey, I’ve had confidence to try things. I started out with workout videos, and now I have more of an idea about what I can do,” Williams said. “And I had a personal trainer a few years ago, and it was extremely helpful to get me comfortable with the gym.”

When the weight fluctuates or the running pace slows, people often get discouraged and give up or overcompensate in training, which can lead to burnout and injury. Self-sabotage is the pathway to undercutting confidence. Raedeke said individuals start viewing the regression “as a failure and also a reflection of their underlying ability versus it’s just a process.”

Understanding the science and psychology behind fitness regression and plateaus — even understanding that plateauing is a natural component of getting stronger and faster — can save a person a lot of frustration.

Experimentation not only combats boredom but also allows short-term goals to grow into long-term behavior. Williams said her goals evolved from losing weight to being healthier to becoming stronger, an activity Williams said is particularly hard for women.

Women are “fine doing a group fitness class but shy away from lifting weights, and I’ve heard so many say, ‘I want to get into weights, but I don’t know how. I’m too embarrassed.’ That’s frustrating for me,” Williams said.

Image result for regular people workout

DO WHAT YOU LOVE

In 2012, Mike Stollenwerk, a Philadelphia-based chef, made the decision to get healthy.

On a friend’s advice, he took up the martial arts discipline of muay thai. “The first month was hard because you don’t see results right away,” Stollenwerk said. “I couldn’t do a push-up, I couldn’t do a pull-up, I couldn’t jump rope. I was really out of shape. After the first two to three months, I started seeing results. I lost 10 pounds. It was getting exciting.”

In a year, Stollenwerk lost 160 pounds and was going to muay thai five days a week. But life intervened: He was in the process of opening a new restaurant in Philadelphia, which consumed the majority of his time and disrupted his eating schedule of six small meals a day.

Stollenwerk had to cut back on his hobby because it didn’t fit his schedule. As a supplement, he took up hot yoga because it “keeps the chi correct and keeps you feeling good.” It also fit his schedule; he goes to hot yoga at 6 a.m., then goes to work. Now that the restaurant, 26 North, is up and running, he’s looking forward to working more muay thai back into his weekly routine.

A sense of enjoyment is key to staying motivated for the long haul, Raedeke said. “If they can grit through it for a week or two, that’s not a lifestyle change.”

Ultimately, the goal of living healthfully is to find meaning and to embrace, rather than fight, all the peaks and valleys.

“In the process, there’s going to be natural fluctuations, and it’s part of the journey,” Raedeke said. “And the delicate nature is how to help people find meaning in the process of change, not just the outcome.”

Originally Posted HERE

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