Fitness & Nutrition Blog

How To Get Started On A Plant Based Diet

Plant-based or plant-forward eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources.

Mediterranean and vegetarian diets
What is the evidence that plant-based eating patterns are healthy? Much nutrition research has examined plant-based eating patterns such as the Mediterranean diet and a vegetarian diet. The Mediterranean diet has a foundation of plant-based foods; it also includes fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt a few times a week, with meats and sweets less often.

The Mediterranean diet has been shown in both large population studies and randomized clinical trials to reduce risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, certain cancers (specifically colon, breast, and prostate cancer), depression, and in older adults, a decreased risk of frailty, along with better mental and physical function.

Vegetarian diets have also been shown to support health, including a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and increased longevity.

Plant-based diets offer all the necessary protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals for optimal health, and are often higher in fiber and phytonutrients. However, some vegans may need to add a supplement (specifically vitamin B12) to ensure they receive all the nutrients required.

Vegetarian diet variety
Vegetarian diets come in lots of shapes and sizes, and you should choose the version that works best for you.
Semi-vegetarian or flexitarian includes eggs, dairy foods, and occasionally meat, poultry, fish, and seafood.
Pescatarian includes eggs, dairy foods, fish, and seafood, but no meat or poultry.
Vegetarian (sometimes referred to as lacto-ovo vegetarian) includes eggs and dairy foods, but no meat, poultry, fish, or seafood.
Vegan includes no animal foods.

8 ways to get started with a plant-based diet
Here are some tips to help you get started on a plant-based diet.
1. Eat lots of vegetables. Fill half your plate with vegetables at lunch and dinner. Make sure you include plenty of colors in choosing your vegetables. Enjoy vegetables as a snack with hummus, salsa, or guacamole.
2. Change the way you think about meat. Have smaller amounts. Use it as a garnish instead of a centerpiece.
3. Choose good fats. Fats in olive oil, olives, nuts and nut butters, seeds, and avocados are particularly healthy choices.
4. Cook a vegetarian meal at least one night a week. Build these meals around beans, whole grains, and vegetables.
5. Include whole grains for breakfast. Start with oatmeal, quinoa, buckwheat, or barley. Then add some nuts or seeds along with fresh fruit.
6. Go for greens. Try a variety of green leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, Swiss chard, spinach, and other greens each day. Steam, grill, braise, or stir-fry to preserve their flavor and nutrients.
7. Build a meal around a salad. Fill a bowl with salad greens such as romaine, spinach, Bibb, or red leafy greens. Add an assortment of other vegetables along with fresh herbs, beans, peas, or tofu.
8. Eat fruit for dessert. A ripe, juicy peach, a refreshing slice of watermelon, or a crisp apple will satisfy your craving for a sweet bite after a meal.
Inspiration for plant-based eating throughout the day.

Over time, eating a plant-based diet will become second nature. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Breakfast:
Rolled oats with walnuts, banana, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Breakfast wrap: Fill a whole-wheat tortilla with scrambled egg, black beans, peppers, onions, Monterey jack cheese, and a splash of hot sauce or salsa.
Whole-wheat English muffin topped with fresh tomato and avocado slices, and blueberries.

Lunch:
Greek salad: Chopped mixed greens with fresh tomato, Kalamata olives, fresh parsley, crumbled feta cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Whole-wheat pita on the side, fresh melon for dessert.
Tomato basil soup, whole-grain crackers with tabbouleh, and an apple.
Vegetarian pizza topped with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, broccoli, onions, peppers, and mushroom. Fresh strawberries for dessert.

Dinner:
Grilled vegetable kabobs with grilled tofu, and a quinoa and spinach salad.
Whole-wheat pasta with cannellini beans and peas, and a romaine salad with cherry tomatoes, dressed with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Vegetarian chili with a spinach-orzo salad.

Healthy Morning Habits



Developing healthy habits is on everyone’s agenda but following through with our good intentions is harder than it seems, especially when you’re busy. The good news is that the less time intensive and complicated a habit is, the more likely we are to stick to it. Research shows that people maintain healthy habits when these are small and manageable changes to one’s lifestyle.

1. Stretch
Our feline friends do it naturally after waking up from slumber but the practice isn’t common enough in humans, which is a shame! A simple stretch in the morning can  improve  your posture,  reduce chronic back pain, increase blood flow to your brain for better focus, and energize you all at once. Plus, stretching right after you roll out of bed gives you time to reconnect to yourself and wake up gently.
Experts from the American College of Sports Medicine suggest focusing on hamstrings, hip flexors, calves and chest muscles as these are the most commonly tight and stiff muscles. Hold each stretch 15 to 30 seconds and repeat 3 to 5 times on each side of your body. As a rule of thumb, you should feel a slight pull, being careful not to stretch to a painful point.
If starting a stretching routine sounds intimidating, don’t fret! The key is to do what feels right to you. Less than five minutes is more than enough to start reaping benefits from working on your flexibility every day.

2. Have a Cup of Tea
Whether you enjoy green tea, a classic English Breakfast tea, or the trendy chai, forming the habit of having a cup every morning is a good idea. Packed with antioxidants named Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) or catechins, tea leaves hold healing power. They fight free-radicals in our bodies to relieve inflammation, prevent diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and neurological decline.
Drinking tea as part of your morning rituals is also a good way to wake up gently as it promotes mental alertness without giving you a headache later on. Tea helps with digestive issues as well, and will get things moving so you can start your day feeling light and energized.

3. Get Some Sunshine
Getting a good dose of sunshine right when you wake up — whether by going outside for a short walk or having breakfast in a room with an east-facing window — is one of the easiest and most rewarding morning habits to get into.
Natural light is beneficial to regulate our circadian rhythms especially in the morning hours. It promotes wakefulness by stimulating the neurotransmitters involved with arousal in our brain. Exposure to light is also important to the production of melatonin an hormone essential to proper and restful sleep. How well you sleep at night can be determined as soon as you wake up!

4. Get Creative
Using our imagination and taking the time for creative pursuits is not something most of us are eager to do when we’re fighting with the snooze button but research says that early mornings are actually the best time to give our brains a bit of a workout.
Think of it this way: the demands put upon us during our day require us to make choices, use our willpower, and exercise our focus, all of which are tiring and weaken our ability to be creative. Getting our creative juices flowing not long after we wake up is a good way to seize upon those brain sources before our energies are depleted.
It also turns out this time of day is when our prefrontal cortex is most active. This brain area is closely related to artistic creativity and divergent thinking, or finding new ideas to solve problems.
Instead of scrolling through social media in the morning, why not try stream-of-consciousness journaling or mindlessly doodling for a few minutes while eating breakfast?

5. Eat a Piece of Fruit
Want to have a strong immune system, fight inflammation, get restful sleep, be full of energy, and have good skin?  Consuming fruit on a daily basis can help with all of that!
As the most important meal of the day, breakfast is the perfect time to incorporate at least one of our ‘5 a day’, especially as research shows that our ability to make healthy food choices weakens as the day goes on. Eating a good breakfast with the inclusion of at least one piece of fruit is an easy way to make sure that you get the necessary nutrients and antioxidants your body needs to thrive.

6. Add Chia Seeds to Your Breakfast
These seeds may be tiny, but their health benefits are not. Packed with omega-3s, fiber, a ton of micronutrients (potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus and manganese), and antioxidants, chia seeds are good for digestion, regulating blood glucose, and preventing major diseases.

7. Take Your Vitamin B12
Whether you eat a plant-based diet or not, supplementing with vitamin B12 is a good idea. Far from being a vegan issue, it is estimated that up to 30% of the population is deficient in this vitamin.
Essential for maintaining the insulation of our nerve cells to protect our neurological and cognitive functions, vitamin B12 is also responsible for breaking down amino acids and fatty acids to supply our bodies with energy.

While You Are Sleeping



Sleep is essential for good health. In fact, we need sleep to survive — just like we need food and water. So, it’s no wonder that we spend about one-third of our lives sleeping.
Many biological processes happen during sleep:

- The brain stores new information and gets rid of toxic waste.
- Nerve cells communicate and reorganize, which supports healthy brain function.
- The body repairs cells, restores energy, and releases molecules like hormones and proteins.

These processes are critical for overall health. Without them, your body can’t function correctly.
Let’s take a closer look at why you sleep, along with what happens if you don’t get enough.

Why do you need to sleep?
A lot is still unknown about the purpose of sleep. However, it’s widely accepted that there isn’t just one explanation for why we need to sleep. It’s likely necessary for many biological reasons.
To date, scientists have found that sleep helps the body in several ways. The most prominent theories and reasons are outlined below.

Energy conservation
According to the energy conservation theory, we need sleep to save energy. This concept is backed by the way our metabolic rate drops during sleep.
It’s also said this happens because the body needs less energy at night, when it’s inconvenient to find food.

Cellular restoration
Another theory, called the restorative theory, says the body needs sleep to restore itself.
The idea is that sleep allows cells to repair and regrow. This is supported by many important processes that happen during sleep, including:

- muscle repair
- protein synthesis
- tissue growth
- hormone release

Brain function
The brain plasticity theory, says sleep is required for brain function. Specifically, it allows your neurons, or nerve cells, to reorganize.

When you sleep, your brain’s glymphatic (waste clearance) system clears out waste from the central nervous system. It removes toxic byproducts from your brain, which build up throughout the day. This allows your brain to work well when you wake up.

Sleep affects many aspects of brain function, including:
- learning
- memory
- problem solving skills
- creativity
- decision-making
- focus
-       concentration

Emotional well-being
Similarly, sleep is necessary for emotional health. During sleep, brain activity increases in areas that regulate emotions, including the:
- striatum
- amygdala
- hyppocampus
- insula
- medial prefrontal cortex

This change in activity supports proper brain function and emotional stability.
For example, the amygdala is in charge of the fear response. It’s what controls your reaction when you face a perceived threat, like a stressful situation.

When you get enough sleep, the amygdala can respond in a more adaptive way. But if you’re sleep deprived, the amygdala is more likely to overreact.

Weight maintenance
Sleep affects your weight by controlling hunger hormoes. This includes ghrelin, which increases appetite, and leptin, which increases satiety.
During sleep, ghrelin decreases because you’re using less energy than when you’re awake.
Lack of sleep, however, elevates ghrelin and suppresses leptin. This imbalance makes you hungrier, which may increase the risk of weight gain.

Proper insulin function
Insulin is a hormone that helps your cells use glucose for energy. But in insulin reistance, your cells don’t respond properly to insulin. This can lead to high blood glucose levels and, eventually, type 2 diabetes.
Sleep may protect against insulin resistance. It keeps your cells healthy so they can easily take up glucose.
The brain also uses less glucose during sleep, which helps the body regulate overall blood glucose.

Immunity
A healthy and strong immune system depends on sleep.
When you sleep, your body makes cytokines, which are proteins that fight infection and inflammation. It also produces certain antibodies and immune cells. Together, these molecules prevent sickness by destroying harmful germs.
That’s why sleep is so important when you’re sick or stressed. During these times, the body needs even more immune cells and proteins.

Heart health
While the exact causes aren’t clear, scientists think sleep supports heart health. This stems from the link between heart disease and poor sleep.

Lack of sleep is associated with risk factors for heart disease, including:
- increased sympathetic nervous system activity
- high blood pressure
- increased inflammation
- elevated cortisol levels 
- weight gain
- insulin resistance

What happens when you sleep?
Your body cycles through four stages of sleep. The pattern typically repeats every 90 minutes. This means the stages will repeat about 4 to 6 times during a 7- to 9- hour sleep period.
The pattern includes three phases of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and one phase of REM sleep.

The NREM sleep stages used to be divided into stages 1, 2, 3, and 4, followed by REM sleep. The National Sleep Foundation now classifies them as follows:

N1 non-REM sleep (formerly stage 1)
Stage 1 occurs when you first fall asleep. As your body enters light sleep, your brain waves, heart rate, and eye movements slow down.
This phase lasts for about 7 minutes.

N2 non-REM sleep (formerly stage 2)
This stage involves the light sleep just before deep sleep.
Your body temperature decreases, your eye movements stop, and your heart rate and muscles continue to relax. Your brain waves briefly spike then slow down.
During a night of sleep, you spend the most time in stage 2.

N3 non-REM sleep (formerly stages 3 and 4)
In stages 3 and 4, deep sleep begins. Your eyes and muscles don’t move, and your brain waves slow down even further.

Deep sleep is restorative. Your body replenishes its energy and repairs cells, tissues, and muscles. You need this phase to feel awake and refreshed the next day.
REM sleep
This stage first happens about 90 minutes after you fall asleep. It can last for about an hour.
In REM sleep, your brain waves and eye movements increase. Your heart rate and breathing also speed up.
Dreaming often happens during REM sleep. Your brain also processes information during this stage, making it important for learning and memory.

How much sleep do you need?
The recommended amount of sleep depends on your age. It also varies from person to person, but the National Sleep Foundation suggests the following durations:
- Birth to 3 months: 14 to 17 hours
- 4 to 11 months: 12 to 15 hours
- 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours
- 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours
- 6 to 13 years: 9 to 11 hours
- 14 to 17 years: 8 to 10 hours
- 18 to 64 years: 7 to 9 hours
- 65 years and older: 7 to 8 hours

What happens if you don’t get enough sleep?
Without enough sleep, your body has a hard time functioning properly.
Possible consequences of sleep deprivation include:
- mood swings
- anxiety
- depression
- poor memory
- poor focus and concentration
- poor motor function
- fatigue
- weakened immune system 
- weight gain
- high blood pressure
- insulin resistance
- chronic diseases (like diabetes and heart disease)
- early mortality

The bottom line
Sleep keeps us healthy and functioning well. It lets your body and brain repair, restore, and reenergize.
If you don’t get enough sleep, you might experience side effects like poor memory and focus, weakened immunity, and mood swings.
Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. If you’re having trouble sleeping, talk to a doctor or sleep specialist. They can determine the underlying cause and help improve the quality of your sleep.







Stand up paddle boarding
Average Hourly Calorie Burn: 350 

Stand up paddle boarding (aka ‘SUP’) might look intimidating, but the way the board is designed makes it easy for anyone to do.  SUP is done on a large surfboard, which provides a wider area to stand on and balance. And while this activity can be almost meditative, you’ll still be strengthening your upper back, legs, glutes and abs while developing balance and coordination, too. 

To help maximize your workout—and minimize your chances of falling off, stand with feet hip width apart on the board, maintaining good posture and starting your paddle strokes on your dominant side (right if you're right handed) to help to find your rhythm, balance and strengthen your connection to both the board and the water. Once you're steady, start alternating sides after every third stroke. 

Hiking
Average Hourly Calorie Burn: 375 

Not only does hiking offer a physical challenge, it gets you out into nature, which can boost your mood. And the beautiful scenery and changing terrain shifts your focus to your movement and surroundings, taking your mind off exercising (unlike the boring repetition of a treadmill). Hiking is one workout you can't help but fall in love with. 

Hiking is a great cardio workout that challenges all of your muscles as the terrain shifts, going uphill and stepping over rocks.  The pace of your hike will influence the intensity of your workout and how many calories you burn, so pick a trail that meets both your fitness level and goals. 

Never go hiking alone—if you get lost or stuck you need a buddy -- and plan out a route in advance. 

Biking
Average Hourly Calorie Burn: 400 

It may have been years since you last rode your bike, but it’s never too late to get back in the saddle! Riding a bike outdoors offers even more benefits than a stationary bike since you’ll have to balance, steer your bike and respond to changing terrain as you pedal. Cycling works your glutes, thighs and hamstrings as well as your core.  

She recommends trying a pedal stroke interval to amp up your calorie burn and improve your cardiovascular fitness: Pedal as fast as you can for 60 seconds, then slow down and recover for 20, repeat five times in total. Make it a cardio and mental game knowing you're getting stronger with each pedal stroke. Wear clothing that is easy to pedal in (such as bike shorts) and stiff-soled or bike shoes. 

Swimming
Average Hourly Calorie Burn: 425 

Want a total body workout that’s easy on your joints but still a great calorie burner? Try swimming! Swimming challenges your muscles because of the density of the water. Your own body weight is your resistance and you are working much harder than you will feel in the moment.  Swimming develops strong, lean muscles as well as strengthening your core and low back to help protect your spine and improve posture, she notes. 

Focus on your form and breathing with each stroke -- if you are new to swimming, just get comfortable with moving in the water. The faster your pace and the shorter your rest time in between laps, the more intense your workout (and calorie burn) will be. 

Beach volleyball
Average Hourly Calorie Burn: 500

Turn exercising into a fun game with volleyball—you'll get both a strength-training and cardio session. Volleyball is a fabulous total body workout; it’s interval training at its best. You work hard, using the legs and butt to get under the ball, core to maintain your balance, and upper body to power through, followed by a period of rest, but you never know how long.  Playing in the soft, uneven terrain of sand on the beach means you’ll be working even harder (translation: burning up extra calories) than on a flat, indoor court every time you go to spike that ball. If you're not near a beach start a game of pool volleyball – it's just as challenging (and fun). 

Yoga in the park
Average Hourly Calorie Burn: 175 

Summer’s warmer weather makes it the perfect time of year to try an outdoor yoga, which is often offered in local parks as a sunrise or sunset group class. Most outdoor yoga classes are for all levels (check with your instructor first to be sure), making it easy for beginners to join in without any prior experience. Depending on the type of yoga, you might experience the benefits of flexibility, strength and/or cardiovascular training. Plus, you’ll have the most amazing backdrop, as you see the sun rise or set around you.

Come prepared for class in an outfit that you’ll feel comfortable wearing in both standing and floor postures. Most classes are BYM (bring your own mat) and toting a towel can be helpful if sweat and dirt start to show up on your mat. 

Gardening
Average Hourly Calorie Burn: 250 

If you've never planted a garden, you may not think of gardening as exercise, but it's a great full body workout! If you are doing some serious gardening, such as digging holes, planting and weeding, you will exert a significant workload, which can sometimes work the body harder than most typical exercise. From raking, lifting, pushing, pulling and shoveling, gardening is a complete body workout for the butt, legs, back, chest, arms and abs.


Take breaks every hour from that forward, hunched over position by standing up and walking around. Try a few standing back extensions to help relieve any stiffness. Get inspired to dig into the dirt with these amazing garden designs for spaces and landscapes of all shapes and sizes. 

Benefits of Using Resistance Training Bands During Your Workout



Resistance bands are great for those who want to exercise at home, or who like to take their workouts along when they travel, but their value doesn't end there. There are many benefits to these simple exercise tools, including versatility, convenience, safety, and effectiveness. The more you learn about the advantages of resistance band exercises, the more you'll be motivated to add them to your own home gym.

These inexpensive exercise tools are a convenient option for people of any age or fitness level. But don't let their simplicity fool you. Resistance band exercises are surprisingly effective and offer many benefits over traditional free weights.

1. GET A COST-EFFECTIVE WORKOUT
Whether you buy them individually or as a set, resistance bands are an inexpensive addition to your home gym equipment. Some resistance bands are even are sold with a guided exercise DVD.

2. ADAPT EASILY FOR MULTIPLE FITNESS LEVELS
Resistance bands come in multiple resistance levels, usually light, medium or heavy. You can further adjust the amount of resistance during exercise just by giving more or less slack on the band, as well as by combining multiple resistance bands to increase the challenge.

3. MODIFY FAMILIAR EXERCISES
Resistance band exercises are often based on familiar strength-training moves. For example, if you stand on one end of the cord and curl your arm up while holding the other end, you've replaced your standard dumbbell bicep curl.

4. EXERCISE YOUR WHOLE BODY
Many resistance band kits come with suggested exercises for nearly every major muscle group in your body. Stepping on one end of a resistance band or looping it around a stationary object, for example, opens up many exercise possibilities.

5. SAVE ON STORAGE SPACE
When you don't have a lot of room for a home gym, resistance bands are a great option that store in very little space. You can hang them on a hook after you exercise, or coil them up to store in a box or drawer.

6. EXERCISE ON THE ROAD
Because they are so small and portable, resistance bands are a great way to take your workout with you when you travel. There are many resistance band exercises that can easily be done in the small space of a hotel room.

7. ADD VARIETY TO YOUR WORKOUTS
Over time, your muscles adapt to any new exercise routine. It's a good idea to mix it up by cross-training with free weights, machines and resistance band exercises. Each will work your muscles in a slightly different way.

8. EXERCISE SAFELY, EVEN WHEN ALONE
Resistance bands offer strength-training without the risk of dropping a heavy weight on your foot or crushing your fingers between weight plates. That makes them ideal for working out when you don't have a personal trainer or exercise partner to spot you.

9. COMBINE WITH OTHER EXERCISE EQUIPMENT
While resistance bands work great on their own, they can also be combined with other exercise equipment. Performing bicep curls with both a resistance band and a dumbbell will give you the combined benefits of each type of equipment.

10. GET AN EFFECTIVE WORKOUT
Although there are differences between free weight and resistance band exercises, both are effective. Picture the arc motion your arm makes while doing a bicep curl. Free weights will feel heaviest at the beginning of that arc, while resistance bands make your muscles work harder at the end of the arc (when the band is most taut). Either way, your body is moving against resistance, and that will give your muscles an effective workout.

Exercising Outdoor Will Make You Feel Better



The warm weather has finally arrived -- and with it, yet another study showing a health boon to moving among the leaves and blossoms. Strolling through an outdoor green space quiets the mind and lessens brain fatigue. Here are more reasons to walk, bike, run, climb, blade and even strength train in nature.

You'll work out longer. Whether you power up and down a set of bleachers in your favorite park or mountain bike along a remote wooded trail, the distractions of your surroundings take your mind off the work of working out. As a result, you'll end up going a lot farther than you would have if you'd been walled in. You can press 'stop' on a treadmill, but you can't turn back time after you've walked or jogged three or more miles.

You'll zap more calories. Research shows that exercisers burn 10 percent more calories when they walk or run outdoors than they do when they hoof it inside on a treadmill at the same speed. When you're caught up in your environment, you're less focused on how tired you are or how much your muscles ache. 

You’ll get off the mat. Parks are good for more than dog-walking and picnics -- they’re an ideal spot for toning. Try this mini-workout: Using a park bench as your prop, do 12 reps each of tricep dips with one leg extended (then switch legs), power jump-ups (squat, then swing arms for momentum and jump on to the bench, landing in a squat) and bicycles (lean back 45 degrees on the bench, with your hands next to your hips). Then hit the grass for push-ups and punching lunges.

You'll elevate your self-esteem. Nature's stimulation also impacts your brain in positive ways. In an article in Environmental Science & Technology, British researchers shared their findings that exercising outdoors improves self-esteem and that a walk in the country improves one's mood. Outdoor exercise stimulates all five senses in a way that indoor activities can't. Breathing in fresh air, feeling the ground under your feet, and taking in all the colors and sounds in nature are positive stimulants hitting you at the same time. You can't help but feel better about yourself and the world around you.

You'll feel happier and have a greater sense of well-being. Communing in nature makes people feel more alive, according to a series of studies published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. In a number of recent studies, volunteers went for two walks for the same time or distance -- one inside (usually on a treadmill or around a track), the other outdoors. Virtually all of the participants reported enjoying the outside activity more and scored significantly higher on psychological tests measuring vitality and energy, and lower in anger and depression. 

You'll reduce stress. According to the California Outdoor Recreation Planning Program, over 100 studies found stress was lowered during activities that took place in either the wilderness or urban nature areas. Here are our recommendation for a stress-diminishing walk or run: Direct your focus away from your thoughts and try to get your body moving in a relaxed way. Soften your gaze, breathe deeply into your belly through your nose, drop your shoulders and direct your energy into your lower body and away from your head. Try not to plan, think, judge, worry, describe or consider.

Meditation: A Simple Way To Reduce Stress


If stress has you anxious, tense and worried, consider trying meditation. Spending even a few minutes in meditation can restore your calm and inner peace.
Anyone can practice meditation. It's simple and inexpensive, and it doesn't require any special equipment.

And you can practice meditation wherever you are — whether you're out for a walk, riding the bus, waiting at the doctor's office or even in the middle of a difficult business meeting.

Understanding meditation

Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. Meditation originally was meant to help deepen understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life. These days, meditation is commonly used for relaxation and stress reduction.
Meditation is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine. Meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind.

During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. This process may result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.
Benefits of meditation

Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health.
And these benefits don't end when your meditation session ends. Meditation can help carry you more calmly through your day and may help you manage symptoms of certain medical conditions.

Meditation and emotional well-being

When you meditate, you may clear away the information overload that builds up every day and contributes to your stress.

The emotional benefits of meditation can include:
Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
Building skills to manage your stress
Increasing self-awareness
Focusing on the present
Reducing negative emotions
Increasing imagination and creativity
Increasing patience and tolerance

Meditation and illness

Meditation might also be useful if you have a medical condition, especially one that may be worsened by stress.

While a growing body of scientific research supports the health benefits of meditation, some researchers believe it's not yet possible to draw conclusions about the possible benefits of meditation.

With that in mind, some research suggests that meditation may help people manage symptoms of conditions such as:
Anxiety
Asthma
Cancer
Chronic pain
Depression
Heart disease
High blood pressure
Irritable bowel syndrome
Sleep problems
Tension headaches

Be sure to talk to your health care provider about the pros and cons of using meditation if you have any of these conditions or other health problems. In some cases, meditation can worsen symptoms associated with certain mental and physical health conditions.

Meditation isn't a replacement for traditional medical treatment. But it may be a useful addition to your other treatment.

Types of meditation

Meditation is an umbrella term for the many ways to a relaxed state of being. There are many types of meditation and relaxation techniques that have meditation components. All share the same goal of achieving inner peace.

Ways to meditate can include:
Guided meditation. Sometimes called guided imagery or visualization, with this method of meditation you form mental images of places or situations you find relaxing.
You try to use as many senses as possible, such as smells, sights, sounds and textures. You may be led through this process by a guide or teacher.
Mantra meditation. In this type of meditation, you silently repeat a calming word, thought or phrase to prevent distracting thoughts.
Mindfulness meditation. This type of meditation is based on being mindful, or having an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment. In mindfulness meditation, you broaden your conscious awareness. You focus on what you experience during meditation, such as the flow of your breath. You can observe your thoughts and emotions, but let them pass without judgment.
Qi gong. This practice generally combines meditation, relaxation, physical movement and breathing exercises to restore and maintain balance. Qi gong (CHEE-gung) is part of traditional Chinese medicine.
Tai chi. This is a form of gentle Chinese martial arts. In tai chi (TIE- CHEE), you perform a self-paced series of postures or movements in a slow, graceful manner while practicing deep breathing.
Transcendental Meditation®. Transcendental Meditation is a simple, natural technique. In Transcendental Meditation, you silently repeat a personally assigned mantra, such as a word, sound or phrase, in a specific way.  This form of meditation may allow your body to settle into a state of profound rest and relaxation and your mind to achieve a state of i nner peace, without needing to use concentration or effort.
Yoga. You perform a series of postures and controlled breathing exercises to promote a more flexible body and a calm mind. As you move through poses that require balance and concentration, you're encouraged to focus less on your busy day and more on the moment.

Elements of meditation

Different types of meditation may include different features to help you meditate. These may vary depending on whose guidance you follow or who's teaching a class. Some of the most common features in meditation include:
Focused attention. Focusing your attention is generally one of the most important elements of meditation.
Focusing your attention is what helps free your mind from the many distractions that cause stress and worry. You can focus your attention on such things as a specific object, an image, a mantra, or even your breathing.
Relaxed breathing. This technique involves deep, even-paced breathing using the diaphragm muscle to expand your lungs. The purpose is to slow your breathing, take in more oxygen, and reduce the use of shoulder, neck and upper chest muscles while breathing so that you breathe more efficiently.
A quiet setting. If you're a beginner, practicing meditation may be easier if you're in a quiet spot with few distractions, including no television, radios or cellphones.
As you get more skilled at meditation, you may be able to do it anywhere, especially in high-stress situations where you benefit the most from meditation, such as a traffic jam, a stressful work meeting or a long line at the grocery store.
A comfortable position. You can practice meditation whether you're sitting, lying down, walking, or in other positions or activities. Just try to be comfortable so that you can get the most out of your meditation. Aim to keep good posture during meditation.
Open attitude. Let thoughts pass through your mind without judgment.

Everyday ways to practice meditation

Don't let the thought of meditating the "right" way add to your stress. If you choose to, you can attend special meditation centers or group classes led by trained instructors. But you can also practice meditation easily on your own.
And you can make meditation as formal or informal as you like, however it suits your lifestyle and situation. Some people build meditation into their daily routine. For example, they may start and end each day with an hour of meditation. But all you really need is a few minutes of quality time for meditation.

Here are some ways you can practice meditation on your own, whenever you choose:
Breathe deeply. This technique is good for beginners because breathing is a natural function.
Focus all your attention on your breathing. Concentrate on feeling and listening as you inhale and exhale through your nostrils. Breathe deeply and slowly. When your attention wanders, gently return your focus to your breathing.
Scan your body. When using this technique, focus attention on different parts of your body. Become aware of your body's various sensations, whether that's pain, tension, warmth or relaxation.
Combine body scanning with breathing exercises and imagine breathing heat or relaxation into and out of different parts of your body.
Repeat a mantra. You can create your own mantra, whether it's religious or secular. Examples of religious mantras include the Jesus Prayer in the Christian tradition, the holy name of God in Judaism, or the om mantra of Hinduism, Buddhism and other Eastern religions.
Walk and meditate. Combining a walk with meditation is an efficient and healthy way to relax. You can use this technique anywhere you're walking, such as in a tranquil forest, on a city sidewalk or at the mall.
When you use this method, slow down your walking pace so that you can focus on each movement of your legs or feet. Don't focus on a particular destination. Concentrate on your legs and feet, repeating action words in your mind such as "lifting," "moving" and "placing" as you lift each foot, move your leg forward and place your foot on the ground.
Engage in prayer. Prayer is the best known and most widely practiced example of meditation. Spoken and written prayers are found in most faith traditions.
You can pray using your own words or read prayers written by others. Check the self-help section of your local bookstore for examples. Talk with your rabbi, priest, pastor or other spiritual leader about possible resources.
Read and reflect. Many people report that they benefit from reading poems or sacred texts, and taking a few moments to quietly reflect on their meaning.
You can also listen to sacred music, spoken words, or any music you find relaxing or inspiring. You may want to write your reflections in a journal or discuss them with a friend or spiritual leader.
Focus your love and gratitude. In this type of meditation, you focus your attention on a sacred image or being, weaving feelings of love, compassion and gratitude into your thoughts. You can also close your eyes and use your imagination or gaze at representations of the image.

Building your meditation skills

Don't judge your meditation skills, which may only increase your stress. Meditation takes practice.
Keep in mind, for instance, that it's common for your mind to wander during meditation, no matter how long you've been practicing meditation. If you're meditating to calm your mind and your attention wanders, slowly return to the object, sensation or movement you're focusing on.

Experiment, and you'll likely find out what types of meditation work best for you and what you enjoy doing. Adapt meditation to your needs at the moment. Remember, there's no right way or wrong way to meditate. What matters is that meditation helps you reduce your stress and feel better overall.

Use Exercise As Your Stress Relief



Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever. If you're not an athlete or even if you're out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management. Discover the connection between exercise and stress relief — and why exercise should be part of your stress management plan.

Exercise and stress relief

Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits.

It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps bump up the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner's high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.

It's meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you'll often find that you've forgotten the day's irritations and concentrated only on your body's movements.

As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything you do.

It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence, it can relax you, and it can lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All of these exercise benefits can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.

Put exercise and stress relief to work for you.  

A successful exercise program begins with a few simple steps.

Consult with your doctor. If you haven't exercised for some time and you have health concerns, you may want to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

Walk before you run. Build up your fitness level gradually. Excitement about a new program can lead to overdoing it and possibly even injury.

For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity (such as brisk walking or swimming) or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity (such as running). You also can do a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.

Also, incorporate strength training exercises at least twice a week.

Do what you love. Virtually any form of exercise or movement can increase your fitness level while decreasing your stress. The most important thing is to pick an activity that you enjoy. Examples include walking, stair climbing, jogging, bicycling, yoga, tai chi, gardening, weightlifting and swimming.

Pencil it in. Although your schedule may necessitate a morning workout one day and an evening activity the next, carving out some time to move every day helps you make your exercise program an ongoing priority.

Stick with it

Starting an exercise program is just the first step. Here are some tips for sticking with a new routine or reinvigorating a tired workout:

Set SMART goals. Write down SMART goals — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-limited goals.
If your primary goal is to reduce stress in your life and recharge your batteries, your specific goals might include committing to walking during your lunch hour three times a week or, if needed, finding a baby sitter to watch your children so that you can slip away to attend a cycling class.

Find a friend. Knowing that someone is waiting for you to show up at the gym or the park can be a powerful incentive. Working out with a friend, co-worker or family member often brings a new level of motivation and commitment to your workouts.

Change up your routine. If you've always been a competitive runner, take a look at other less competitive options that may help with stress reduction, such as Pilates or yoga classes. As an added bonus, these kinder, gentler workouts may enhance your running while also decreasing your stress.

Exercise in increments. Even brief bouts of activity offer benefits. For instance, if you can't fit in one 30-minute walk, try three 10-minute walks instead. Interval training, which entails brief (60 to 90 seconds) bursts of intense activity at almost full effort, is being shown to be a safe, effective and efficient way of gaining many of the benefits of longer duration exercise. What's most important is making regular physical activity part of your lifestyle.

Whatever you do, don't think of exercise as just one more thing on your to-do list. Find an activity you enjoy — whether it's an active tennis match or a meditative meander down to a local park and back — and make it part of your regular routine. Any form of physical activity can help you unwind and become an important part of your approach to easing stress.

Boost Up Your Immune System To Fight Of Viruses



Reduce Your Stress Levels
Chronic stress suppresses the immune response of the body by releasing the hormone cortisol. Cortisol interferes with the T-cells(a specific white blood cell) to reproduce and receive signals from the body. Cortisol also reduces the antibody secretory IgA, which lines the gut and respiratory tract, which are our first line of defense against pathogens. To keep your stress in check, practice yoga, meditation or deep breathing in your regular routine.

Moderate Your Alcohol Intake
Numerous researches have shown that excess intake of alcohol can tamper with the immune system and its pathway in a complicated manner. However, moderate consumption of alcohol can be helpful to the overall health of the body.

Make Sure You Get Your A-B-C-D-Es
The saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” can actually be true as consumption of vitamins can boost your immune system. Vitamin A, B6, C, D and E can help increase the strength of the immune system. Vitamin C is the biggest booster of all and lack of it can cause several diseases including Scurvy. You can get Vitamin C from citrus fruits like Orange, Grapefruit, Spinach and Strawberries. You can take multivitamin supplements from your doctor, however, natural intake through food is the best way. 

Eat More Vegetables
Vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts are loaded with nutrients that are essential for our immune system. Consuming them on a daily basis boosts the immunity. For a healthy liver, cruciferous vegetables like Kale, Broccoli and Cabbage should be included in daily diet. Healthy liver ensures the body’s’ natural detoxification process.

Herbs & Supplements
Herbs like AHCC, Echinacea, Elderberry, Andrographis and Astragalus can help reduce the duration and severity of illness. On top of that, using vitamin and mineral supplements provide the necessary nutrients for a strong immune system.

Get Your Exercise On
Working out on a regular basis has been scientifically proven to boost the immune system. Regular exercise mobilises the T cells, a type of white blood cell which guards the body against infection. However, continuous rigorous workout weakens the immune system, leaving you prone to flu and viral infections.

Get Sufficient Sleep
Lack of sleep can cause the inflammatory immune response to activate, reducing the activity of T cells in the body. This can weaken your immune system and response to vaccines. Try to sleep for 7–8 hours and avoid having an all-nighter. If you happen to be traveling in different time zones on a regular basis, consume 2–3mg of Melatonin to reset the circadian rhythm.

Start Consuming Mushrooms
Mushroom are nature’s way of breaking down the organic matters to convert it into fertile soil. One of the healthiest food on the planet, mushrooms are rich in essential nutrients and minerals. Some of the mushrooms that are really good for immune systems are — A Turkey tail mushroom, Maitake and Shiitake Mushrooms, Tremella Mushrooms.

Stop The Habit Of Smoking
Stop the habit of smoking because not only does it increases the risk of cancer but it also impairs the immune system. Smoking is said to have a negative impact on both adaptive and innate immunity. It can also increase the chances of developing harmful pathogenic immune responses and smoking also reduces the effectiveness of your immune system’s defenses. 

Step Out In The Sun
Stepping out in the natural light is one of the major contributors to the production of Vitamin D in our body. Vitamin D is essential for healthy functioning of the immune system as it helps the body to produce antibodies. Low level of Vitamin D in the body has been termed as one of the major reasons for respiratory problems. A brisk walk in the sunlight for 10–15 minutes will ensure that enough Vitamin D is produced in the body.

With these little efforts and tweaks in your daily routine, you can ensure a healthy immune system. A healthy body is not just about being healthy from the outside but also ensuring a stronger immunity and these 11 natural ways to boost your immune system can help you achieve the goal of a healthy body. These steps would reduce the toxins in the body and would provide the needed nutrients which are essential for your health. Keeping a check on the immune system is not only going to keep you safe from getting sick but it will also help you prevent diseases like cancer in the latter half of your life. Also, these natural ways can help you age gracefully.



Ways To Stop Eating Lots of Sugar




1. Cut Back on Sugar-Filled Drinks
Some popular drinks contain a heap of added sugar.
Sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks and fruit drinks contribute an astounding 44% of the added sugar in the American diet.

So-called "healthy" drinks, such as smoothies and fruit juices, can still contain eye-watering amounts of it. For example, 15.2 ounces (450 ml) of 100% apple juice contains more than 12 teaspoons (49 grams)

Your body does not recognize calories from drinks in the same way it does from food. Drinks don't make you feel as full, so people who consume lots of calories from drinks do not eat less to compensate.

Studies have consistently shown that reducing your intake of sugary drinks can help with weight loss.

Here are some better, lower-sugar drink options:
Water: It's free and has zero calories.
Sparkling water with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime: Homemade soda.
Water with mint and cucumber: Amazingly refreshing in warm weather.
Herbal or fruit teas: Drink them hot or cold with ice.
Tea and coffee: Stick to unsweetened tea or black or flat white coffee.

Cutting back on sugary drinks can massively reduce your sugar intake and help you lose weight. 

2. Avoid Sugar-Loaded Desserts
Most desserts don't provide much in the way of nutritional value.
They are loaded with sugar, which causes blood sugar spikes and can leave you feeling tired, hungry and craving more sugar.

Grain and dairy-based desserts, such as cakes, pies, doughnuts and ice cream, account for over 18% of the intake of added sugar in the American diet.
If you really feel the need for something sweet, try these alternatives:

Fresh fruit: Naturally sweet and full of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Greek yogurt with cinnamon or fruit: Rich in calcium, protein and vitamin B12.
Baked fruit with cream: Try pears, apple or plums.
Dark chocolate: In general, the higher the cocoa content, the lower the sugar.
A handful of dates: They're naturally sweet and extremely nutritious.

Swapping sugar-heavy desserts for fresh or baked fruit not only reduces your sugar intake, it also increases the fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in your diet.

3. Avoid Sauces With Lots of Sugar
Sauces such as ketchup, barbecue sauce and sweet chili sauce are commonplace in most kitchens. However, most people aren't aware of their shocking sugar content.
A single tablespoon (15-gram) serving of ketchup may contain 1 teaspoon (4 grams).
Although, some varieties have no added sugar. Always read the label to be sure you are choosing the lowest-sugar option.

Here are some other options to flavor your food:
Fresh or dried herbs and spices: Contain no sugar or calories and can have added health benefits.
Fresh chili: Give your food a sugar-free kick.
Yellow mustard: Tasty and contains virtually no sugar or calories.
Vinegar: Sugar and calorie-free, with a zing similar to that of ketchup. Some balsamic vinegars and creams may contain sugar.
Harissa paste: Can be bought or made and is a good replacement for sweet chili sauce.
Pesto: Fresh and nutty, great on sandwiches or eggs.
Mayonnaise: Although it's sugar-free, it's high in fat, so be cautious if you're trying to lose weight.

4. Eat Full-Fat Foods
Low-fat options of your favorite foods — peanut butter, yogurt, salad dressing — are everywhere.
If you've been told that fat is bad, it may feel natural to reach for these alternatives, rather than the full-fat versions, when you're trying to lose weight.
However, the unsettling truth is that they usually contain more sugar and sometimes more calories than their full-fat counterparts.

A 4-ounce (113-gram) serving of low-fat vanilla yogurt contains 4 teaspoons (16 grams) of sugar and 96 calories.

The same amount of full-fat plain yogurt contains just over a teaspoon (5 grams) of naturally occurring milk sugar and only 69 calories.
Another example is an 8-ounce (237-ml) coffee made with whole milk and no added sugar, which contains half a teaspoon (2 grams) of naturally occurring milk sugar and 18 calories.

In contrast, the same amount of a low-fat mocha drink contains 6.5 teaspoons (26 grams) of added sugar and 160 calories.
High sugar intake has also been shown to cause weight gain, which negates the reason you might have chosen a low-fat food in the first place.
When you're trying to cut your sugar intake, it's often better to choose the full-fat version instead.

5. Eat Whole Foods
Whole foods have not been processed or refined. They are also free of additives and other artificial substances.

At the other end are ultra-processed foods. These are prepared foods that contain salt, sugar and fats, but also substances not usually used in home cooking.
These substances can be artificial flavors, colors, emulsifiers or other additives. Examples of ultra-processed foods are soft drinks, desserts, cereals, pizzas and pies.
Ultra-processed foods differ from standard processed foods, which usually only have minimal ingredients added, all of which you might find in a standard kitchen.
Examples of standard processed foods are simple bread and cheese.
90% of the added sugars in the average American's diet come from ultra-processed foods, whereas only 8.7% come from foods prepared from scratch at home using whole foods.

And it isn't just junk food that contains high amounts of it.
Seemingly healthy options like canned pasta sauce can also contain alarming amounts. One serving (128 grams) can contain nearly 3 teaspoons (11 grams).
Try to cook from scratch when possible so you can avoid added sugars. You don't have to cook elaborate meals. Simple tricks like marinating meat and fish in herbs, spices and olive oil will give you delicious results.

6. Check for Sugar in Canned Foods
Canned foods can be a useful and cheap addition to your diet, but they can also contain a lot of added sugar.

Fruits and vegetables contain naturally occurring sugars. However, they're not an issue since they do not affect your blood sugar in the same way that added sugar does.  Avoid canned foods that are packed in syrup or have sugar in the ingredients list. Fruit is sweet enough, so go for versions that are labeled with "in own juice" or "no added sugar.

If you buy canned fruits or vegetables that do have added sugar, you can remove some of it by rinsing them in water before you eat them.

7. Be Careful With So-Called "Healthy" Processed Snack Foods
Most people know that candy and cookies contain a lot of sugar, so they may look for "healthy" snack alternatives. Surprisingly, snacks like granola bars, protein bars and dried fruit can contain as much, if not more, sugar than their unhealthy rivals, such as chocolate bars.
Some granola bars can contain as much as 8 teaspoons (32 grams).

Dried fruit is full of fiber, nutrients and antioxidants. However, it is also full of natural sugar, so it should be eaten in moderation.  Some dried fruit also contains high quantities of added sugar. To avoid this, look for ingredients labels that say "100% fruit.

Or try these healthy snack ideas instead:
A handful of nuts: Packed with good calories, protein and healthy fats.
Trail mix: Make sure it's just nuts and dried fruit, without added sugar.
No-added-sugar jerky: Full of protein and low in calories.
Hard-boiled egg: This superfood is high in protein, vitamins and minerals.
Fresh fruit: Contains natural sugar to satisfy those sugar cravings.

Don't be fooled by the "healthy" marketing messages on some snacks. Be prepared and take low-sugar snacks with you when you're on the go.

8. Avoid Sugar-Filled Breakfast Foods
Breakfast cereals are among the worst when it comes to added sugar. One reports found that some of the most popular ones contained over half of their weight in added sugar.  One cereal in the report contained over 12 teaspoons (50 grams) per serving, which made it 88% sugar by weight.

What's more, the report found that granola, which is usually marketed as "healthy," has more sugar than any other type of cereal, on average.
Popular breakfast foods, such as pancakes, waffles, muffins and jams, are also loaded with added sugar.

Switch to these low-sugar breakfast options instead:
Hot oatmeal: Add some chopped fruit if you like it sweet.
Greek yogurt: Add fruit and nuts for extra good calories.
Eggs: Boiled, poached, scrambled or as an omelet.
Avocado: Packed full of nutrition and healthy fats for energy.

Choosing a low-sugar option with high protein and fiber at breakfast will help you feel full until lunchtime, preventing unnecessary snacking.

9. Read Labels
Eating less sugar isn't as easy as just avoiding sweet foods. You've already seen that it can hide in unlikely foods, including some breakfast cereals, granola bars and dried fruit.

However, some savory foods, such as bread, can also contain a lot of added sugar. Two slices can contain 1.5 teaspoons (6 grams).
Unfortunately, it isn't always easy to identify added sugars on a food label. Current food labels don't differentiate between natural sugars, such as those in milk or fruits, and added sugars.

To see if a food has sugars added, you will need to check the ingredients list. It is also important to note the order in which sugar appears on the list, since ingredients are listed in order of the highest percentage first.

Food companies also use more than 50 other names for added sugar, which makes it more difficult to spot. Here are some of the most common:
High-fructose corn syrup
Cane sugar or juice
Maltose
Dextrose
Invert sugar
Rice syrup
Molasses
Caramel

Thankfully, identifying sugar in packaged food in the US just got much easier.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has changed their rules so that companies have to show the amount of added sugar in their products on the ingredients label in grams, along with a percentage of the daily value.
Companies have until 2018 to change their labels to comply.

10. Eat More Protein and Fat
A high sugar intake is linked to increased appetite and weight gain.
Conversely, a diet low in added sugar but high in protein and fat has the opposite effect, reducing hunger and food intake.

Added sugar in the diet, particularly fructose, increases appetite. The signals that usually let your brain know that you are full do not work properly, which can lead to overeating and weight gain.

On the other hand, protein has been proven to reduce appetite and hunger. If you feel full, then you are less likely to crave the quick hunger fix that sugar provides.
Protein has also been shown to directly reduce food cravings. One study showed that increasing protein in the diet by 25% reduced cravings by 60%
Fat is very high in energy. It contains 9 calories per gram, compared to 4 calories per gram in protein or carbs.

A high fat intake is also associated with reduced appetite. According to the fat content of a food, fat receptors in the mouth and gut alter the way it's digested. This causes a reduction in appetite and subsequently, calorie intake.
To curb sugar cravings, stock up on protein and fat-rich whole foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, full-fat dairy products, avocados and nuts.

11. Consider Natural Sweeteners
For some people, sugar can be as addictive as drugs or alcohol. In fact, studies have shown that it can affect the brain in a way similar to that of some drugs.

Addiction to sugar produces cravings and a "tolerance" level, meaning more and more of it must be consumed to satisfy those cravings.
It is also possible to suffer from sugar withdrawal.

Studies have found that rats experienced signs of anxiety and depression after a high sugar diet was stopped.

This shows that giving up sugar can be very difficult for some people. If you are struggling, there are a few naturally sweet alternatives that are actually good for you.
Stevia: Extracted from the leaves of a plant called Stevia rebaudiana, it has virtually no calories and has been shown to help reduce blood pressure and blood sugar in people with diabetes.
Erythritol: Found naturally in fruit, it only contains 6% of the calories of sugar, but it's much sweeter, so only a little is needed. It also doesn't cause blood sugar spikes.
Xylitol: A sweetener found naturally in many fruits and vegetables. It doesn't cause blood sugar spikes.

Once you cut your sugar intake, you'll adjust to enjoying foods that are less sweet.

12. Don't Keep Sugar in the House
If you keep high-sugar foods in the house, you are more likely to eat them.
It takes a lot of willpower to stop yourself if you only have to go as far as the pantry or fridge to get a sugar hit.

Although cravings for snacks and sweet foods can occur at any time of the day or night, they may be worse in the evenings. Evidence shows that your circadian rhythm, or internal clock, increases hunger and cravings for sweet and starchy foods in the evenings.

It is important to consider how you're going to distract yourself when you feel the need to eat something sweet.  Studies have shown that distraction, such as doing puzzles, can be very effective at reducing cravings. If that doesn't work, then try to keep some healthy, low-sugar snacks in the house to munch on instead.

13. Don't Shop When You're Hungry
If you've ever been shopping when you're hungry, you know what can happen.
Not only do you buy more food, but you also tend to put less healthy options in your shopping cart.

Shopping while hungry has been shown not only to increase the amount of food purchased, but also to affect the type of foods you buy. In a controlled study, 68 participants fasted for five hours. Half the participants were then allowed to eat as many wheat crackers as they liked just before going shopping, while the other half went shopping on an empty stomach. They found that the hungry group purchased more high-calorie products, compared to those who were less hungry.
In another study, 82 grocery shoppers were observed to see if the time of day they went shopping had any effect on their purchases.

The study found that those who shopped between 4–7 pm, around dinnertime, when they were likely to be hungry, bought more high-calorie products than those who shopped between 1–4 pm, shortly after lunch.

14. Get Enough Sleep
Good sleep habits are incredibly important for your health. Poor sleep has been linked to depression, poor concentration and reduced immune function.
The link between lack of sleep and obesity is well known. But recently, researchers discovered that lack of sleep also affects the types of food you eat.

One study looked into this phenomenon in 23 healthy adults. Their brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), first after a full night's sleep and then following a sleepless night.

The researchers found that function of the frontal lobe, the part of the brain that controls decision making, was impaired after a sleepless night. Furthermore, the area of the brain that responds to rewards and controls motivation and desire was stimulated.  These changes meant that participants favored high-calorie, sweet and salty foods when they were sleep deprived.

Another study found that people who went to bed late and did not get a full night's sleep consumed more calories, junk food and soda and fewer fruits and vegetables, compared to those who went to bed earlier and got a full night's sleep.
So going to bed early and sleeping well may help you reduce your sugar intake.

What Is The Optimal Heart Rate To Lose Fat



The link between heart rate and fat loss
Your body requires glucose as fuel for your muscles. The 2 main sources of fuel are glycogen (a substance that stores carbohydrate) and fat, which breaks down to form glucose and ultimately carbon dioxide and water. Oxygen is required to oxidize (break down) either the glycogen or fat stores into glucose to fuel the muscles.

During a workout, your body requires more energy. Thus, your heart pumps faster and harder to send oxygen to your muscle cells to break down more glycogen and fat to fuel your muscles.

While 1 gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories of energy, 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories. This makes glycogen (carbohydrate) a less dense form of energy storage that is readily broken down into glucose, as compared to fats. As such, glycogen is your body's first source of energy during exercise. Since high-intensity workouts require more energy quickly, you tap on glycogen rather than fat in your body for fuel. Your body only taps onto the next fuel, fat, when you start to run out of glycogen.

The truth of the fat burning zone theory
The fat burning zone theory seeks to help adherents lose weight by tapping on the body’s fat storage rather than glycogen. They argue that the body burns a greater percentage of fat with lower-intensity exercises than at higher intensities because the body does not require ‘fast energy’ from glycogen. As such, this theory promotes longer and lower-intensity cardio workouts that maintain your heart rate within the ‘fat burning zone’.

However, that is a bit of a misconception. While it is true that the body burns fat during low-intensity workouts, the fat burning rate remains low and you have to exercise longer to burn the same amount of calories you would at higher intensities.
In a high-intensity workout, although your body uses your glycogen stores first for ‘fast energy’, it depletes the glycogen stores rapidly enough to force your body to tap on the fat storage. This means that high-intensity workouts are more efficient in burning way more total calories – both glycogen and fat calories. Ultimately, the total number of calories you burn leads to the most weight (and fat) loss.

The 4 training zones
Working out with a heart rate monitor helps you to gauge the specific zones in which your body is working and how your body benefits from different intensities of exercise. Each of the 4 main training zones can be predicted by your heart rate:
Your warm-up zone is where you prepare your cardio-respiratory system, muscles and joints to exercise harder. Here, you are functioning at 60 – 70% of your maximum heart rate. It is a comfortable pace where you feel as though you can go on for a long time.

Just beyond the warm-up zone is the so-called fat burning zone where you are working out at about 70 – 80% of your maximum heart rate. It is still a comfortable rate but you might sweat more and breathe harder than usual. Although you may burn more fat than glycogen at this zone, the absolute amount of fat burnt is much less than the subsequent stages.

Still in the comfortable zone is the aerobic zone. Your heart rate is at 81 – 93% of your maximum heart rate. You will be able to talk but only in short phrases. The calories you burn here split evenly between your fat stores and glycogen. Although you will not burn more fat calories than glycogen, you will be burning more calories overall. (Plus, the aerobic zone makes your heart pump hard, which is great to keep your heart healthy!)

Finally, you will be at 94 – 100% of your maximum heart rate in the anaerobic territory. You are panting and unable to talk. It is hard work and nearly impossible to spend more than a minute here as your glycogen stores are depleted faster than they can be replenished. Anaerobic intervals widen your fat and aerobic zones and zap tons of calories. This is where the afterburn (temporary increase in metabolism) kicks in. Also known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), your body continues to burn more calories even after a high-intensity workout, as compared to a low-intensity exercise.

A high-intensity workout reaps many benefits of burning total calories efficiently both during and after exercising, and keeping your heart healthy. But if you prefer a low-intensity workout, it would require you to devote a longer amount of time to burn the same amount of calories!

What Are Essential Oils



Essential oils are found in plants for very essential purposes! It helps with allelopathy, attracts pollinators, defends against insects, and protects against fungus and bacteria.

The process of extracting essential oils is by water or steam distillation, or even cold-pressing. Pure essential oils are those that are not obtained by chemical processes. Some oils are isolated by maceration. The plant material is softened in warm water, which releases the essential oil.  Several factors influence the quality of essential oils, such as; the weather, geographical location, and distillation.

Essential oils are widely used for aromatic and medicinal purposes. You will notice that when you open a bottle, the scent quickly fills the room, and the aroma is potent. These are due to chemical properties in the essential oil that allow it to move rapidly in the air. That is why essential oils are ideal for physical and emotional wellness.  

Essential for Your Health?
Inhaling the aromas can stimulate the limbic system; it involves our emotions, behaviors, smell, breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and long-term memory. Have you ever associated a smell with a memory? This explains why certain smells can trigger memories.

Aromatherapy
There are several ways in which to apply essential oils to positively affect the mind and body.

Cosmetic Aromatherapy – Used for cleansing, moisturizing, drying, and toning on the skin, body, face, and air. It is also beneficial to use in a full-body or foot bath.
Massage Aromatherapy – Essential oils are combined with carrier oils to use for massage.

Medical Aromatherapy – Used to promote and treat clinically diagnosed medical ailments, and even for massage on patients during surgery.
Olfactory Aromatherapy – Inhaling essential oils can enhance emotional well-being, encouraging relaxation and calmness.

Psycho-aromatherapy – Since our brain links scents with memories, essential oils can help promote a pleasant memory by infusing it in the room of the patient.

Choosing the Correct Essential Oils
It is important to make sure that the essential oils you purchase are pure and medical grade. Many companies will claim this, but there are ways to determine its true nature. Here are three things to consider:

Purity – Oils that provide mild fragrance or flavors do not have therapeutic benefits like essential oils. Find retailers that specialize in selling essential oils.

Quality  – Look for essential oils that identify with their scientific or botanical name. It is also important to note the extraction process, plant origin, and expiration date. As much as possible, use oils that are organic (no pesticides or sprays)

Reputation – Companies should be transparent about their essential oil products, have done extensive testing on the product, and are able to answer questions relating to it. Another bonus is when companies are members of associations or other affiliations that have ethical standards.

Current Market Trends
In 2016, the global essential oils market size was valued at USD 6.63 billion (2). “It is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of more than 11% during period 2017-202 (3)1.”

This is due to a growing demand for product line extensions, air fresheners with essential oils as the active ingredient, natural personal care products and cleaning products, spa and relaxation, and flavors in pharmaceutical ingredients. Growing consumer income and more knowledge on personal health are expected to contribute to the growth of this industry.

Essential Oil Safety
As with many things that we ingest in or apply to our bodies, moderation and correct application are key. It is also important to do a test patch before applying it in the desired area of the body. Essential oils are considered safe. It should not be ingested but can be used topically when diluted with a carrier oil, through steam inhalation, and in an essential oil diffuser. Essential oils are very concentrated, so a little goes a long way.

Where Does The Fat Go?




Myths About Fat Loss
There are misconceptions about fat loss among doctors, dietitians and even fitness professionals.  In this blog we are going to simplify how weight loss occurs in a molecular level. 
The following are common myths about fat metabolism:
- Fat turns into muscle
- Fat converts into energy
- Fat escape through your colon

What Is Fat?
The clinical term for body fat is adipose tissue. There are two different types in the human body. The white adipose tissue is primarily responsible for energy storage and releasing fatty acids when fuel is low. Your body contains mostly this type of fat. It is stored beneath the skin and surrounding organs. This is the kind of fat that most of us are trying to lose. 

Brown adipose tissue is considered good fat that helps regulate body temperature. It’s derived from muscle tissue and burns calories to keep you warm. Brown fat also contains more capillaries than white fat and shuttles valuable nutrients and oxygen throughout the body.

Fat is made up of individual cells called adipocytes (cells that contain fat). The human body contains billions of fat cells ranging in different sizes. White fat cells are filled with one large fat droplet surrounded by water, salts, and protein. The fat droplet is comprised mostly of triglycerides (glycerol and three fatty acids). High levels of triglycerides in the bloodstream have been shown to increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Brown fat cells contain multiple fat droplets and considerably more water, salt, and protein. These cells are also filled with lots of mitochondria responsible for the chemical energy that burns calories to produce heat in your body. 

What Does Fat Do?
Fat is made up of cells in your body that are used primarily for stored energy and protection.  The body uses this stored energy for working muscles as well as a host of other metabolic pathways and enzymatic breakdowns.

When you consume more calories than your body needs, it will store the rest within your fat cells or adipocytes. The storage form of energy is known as triglycerides, a type of fat or lipid collected within individual fat cells. Besides providing energy, stored fat also helps insulate the body and protect vital organs. 

During Fat Burning
Before explaining what happens during the fat burning process, it will help to understand where all the weight within the fat cell comes from. 
The average American breathes in about 1.5 pounds of oxygen daily. This is in addition to what you eat and drink every day. According to the latest government figures, the average person consumes approximately five to 7.8 pounds of food and beverages daily. What you eat and what you breathe needs to exit your body somehow if you want to lose weight. 

During the fat burning process, the body converts fat into usable energy causing the fat cell to shrink. This metabolic energy conversion also generates heat which helps to control body temperature. At the same time, oxygen is also converted into byproducts.

Many enzymes and biochemical steps are involved to completely break down a single triglyceride molecule.  Some of the fat is available for usable energy, but carbon dioxide (CO2) and water are also released from the fat cell during the process. In fact, a large percentage of carbon dioxide (CO2) is created and expelled from the body when you burn fat. 


Where Fat Goes
Most of us really don’t think about where fat goes when we lose it. We’re just happy the scale says it’s gone. You may be curious to know fat doesn’t magically disappear after going through the fat-burning process.

The research calculations show when fat is lost, 84 percent is exhaled as carbon dioxide. The remaining 16 percent is excreted as water.1 During the conversion of energy, carbon dioxide and water are byproducts or waste. They are excreted via urine, perspiration, and exhalation.

It has also been shown that the lungs as the primary organ used to remove fat from your body.


Ways to Improve Fat Loss
Since fat leaves the body by exhaling carbon dioxide, you may be wondering if breathing faster will help you lose weight. Unfortunately, this isn't an effective method. You will only cause hyperventilation, feel dizzy, and possibly faint. 

There are healthy ways to increase oxygen intake and improve weight loss. Working toward improving your metabolic rate would be a great start. This includes being more active in general and participating in regular exercise.
You can increase carbon dioxide (CO2) exhalation by performing physical activities that double the metabolic rate. For example, swapping out one hour of rest with exercise like jogging removes more CO2 from the body and improves your ability to lose fat.
Other basic suggestions to increase your metabolic rate and rid your body of CO2 include the following:

- Take the stairs instead of the elevator/escalator.
- Park your car far away and walk more.
- Engage in active playtime with your kids.
- Stand at your computer vs. sitting.
- Take walk and stretch breaks at work.
- Stay active over the weekend and avoid being a couch potato.

Your body is also at work removing CO2 while you sleep. In fact, you exhale approximately seven ounces of carbon dioxide which is 25 percent of the daily amount you need to get rid of. This means you are waking up starting your day ahead of the game.  
What is recommended for successful fat loss is to eat less and move more. This means reducing caloric intake to cause an energy deficit, but also exercising regularly. Exercise will naturally increase the rate of oxygen is used and help remove more carbon dioxide from your body. 


Strategies To Lose Fat, Not Muscle




Maintain your strength as you shed pounds with these proven strategies.

When you lose weight, those pounds can come from either fat or muscle. And you don’t want to lose muscle, especially as you get older.

Not only does muscle help you stay strong and independent, but it’s a leading indicator of overall health and longevity. In fact, research shows lean muscle mass is better at predicting overall health than body mass index (BMI), a score that uses both your height and weight to provide a rough estimate of whether you’re underweight, normal weight, or overweight.

Unfortunately, the state of our muscle is bleak. One out of every three adults ages 60 and older suffers from severe muscle loss, called sarcopenia, according to an Age and Aging review.
Loss of muscle mass is one of the biggest causes of age-related decline. Older adults who get or stay strong can continue to perform daily tasks and active hobbies with fewer limitations. They also have a much lower risk of injury from falls and other accidents.

What’s more, when we lose muscle, our metabolism slows, making it harder to lose or maintain a healthy weight, Juster says. Lean muscle mass is a primary factor in basal metabolic rate, or the number of calories your body burns per day simply by living.

The more muscle we hold on to, the better we will look and feel, and the easier it will be to lose fat. And those are the pounds you want to lose.

Here are four strategies to help you stay strong and retain—or even build—muscle as you drop pounds.

Fat Loss Rule #1: Cut Calories Gradually
To lose weight, you have to maintain a calorie deficit, meaning that you use more calories than you consume each day. However, cutting your calories too drastically can lead to muscle loss.
If you’re counting calories, aim to cut no more than 500 per day. That will keep you in the healthy, gradual range of losing one to two pounds per week.

You can achieve this deficit by cutting 500 calories from your regular meal plan, burning an extra 500 calories with exercise, or a combination of nutrition and fitness changes that lead to 500 calories total. The good news is cutting even 100 calories a day can help—and may be more manageable for some people.

Now sure how many calories you should be eating per day? It depends on how active you are.  Ask your personal trainer, doctor or registered dietitian for guidance, especially if you have a chronic condition.

Fat Loss Rule #2: Focus on Total-Body Strength
To lose fat and build muscle, the bulk of your exercise time should go to total-body strength workouts. Compound, multi-joint movements, such as squats, pushups, and rows, are especially beneficial. These exercises involve multiple large muscle groups, so they build strength—and increase your heart rate and burn calories with every rep.

For those who are newer to the weight room, I recommend two days of strength training each week. More experienced exercisers can do as many as three or four sessions per week.
These workouts don’t need to be long or grueling, she says. Start with 20- to 30-minute full-body workouts and build from there, focusing on improving your performance from week to week.
That might mean gradually increasing the weight you use,  performing more total reps during your workout, or simply executing the same workout with better form. When you focus on performance in the gym or working out at home, you will maintain or even build muscle as you lose fat.

Fat Loss Rule #3: Double Down on Protein
The protein you eat contains the essential amino acids needed for your muscles to grow back stronger after each workout.

According to the National Academy of Medicine, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of protein for adults in their 50s and older is 0.36 grams per pound of bodyweight (multiply your weight by 0.36). But it’s important to know that the RDA is the minimum amount you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements.

For optimal health, older adults may need almost double the RDA of protein, according to mounting research. One 2015 study found older adults improved their muscle health by consuming 0.68 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight (multiply your weight by 0.68).
For an adult who weighs 130 pounds, that’s about 88 grams of protein per day. For one who weighs 150 pounds, 102 grams. And for one who weighs 170 pounds, 115 grams.

If that seems like a lot, take it one meal at a time. Other research recommends adults consume between 25 and 35 grams of protein at every meal for both muscle health and weight loss.
If you’re not interested in counting your macronutrients try including one to two palm-sized servings of protein-rich foods like meat, fish, poultry, beans and legumes, or eggs with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

And as with figuring out exactly how many calories you need based on your health, your doctor or a registered dietitian can help you figure out how much protein per day is right for you.

Fat Loss Rule #4: Use Cardio for Recovery
For many people, the first step to losing weight is hopping on a treadmill or elliptical for hours of cardio, this is a big mistake, because with excessive cardio, we often lose our hard-earned muscle along with our extra fat.

Avoiding excessive aerobic exercise doesn’t mean cutting it completely—after all, it’s a vital part of a well-rounded exercise plan. But for weight loss, it may help to think of it as a method to help your body and muscles recover in between strength sessions.

Research in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation shows low-intensity aerobic exercise is an effective way to promote muscle strength and recovery after challenging workouts.

On the days you don’t perform strength training, make a point to complete at least 30 minutes of gentle, low-intensity movement such as walking, cycling, or swimming. Choose a pace that allows you to carry on a conversation—without huffing and puffing.

Strength Training Benefits As You Age



Sometimes it feels like the number of things that stop working in your body directly correlates to the number candles on your birthday cake.

But you can regain some control in a number of ways — and improving your strength is one of them.

Muscle strength is important for bone health, balance and just being strong enough for daily activities, such as climbing stairs or carrying groceries. Regular muscle strengthening has also been shown to help you manage blood pressure, blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels, as well as prevent and control heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Research also shows it's good for your brain

There is evidence that both improvements in cognitive function and depressive symptoms in older adults are linked to the amount of strength gains or intensity of the strength training.

Why it's downhill from 30
Each decade from the age of 30 we lose 3 to 5 per cent of the muscle mass we naturally carry, which causes us to lose muscle function — a condition called sarcopenia.  But this doesn't mean you necessarily end up frail, there are studies on men in their 70s who'd been lifting weight for 15 to 20 years and their muscles looked identical to that of 20-year-old men in terms of size and strength.

The really good news — it's never too late to get started, even if you've never picked up a weight in your life.  There are muscle biopsies of people over 100 years old and you can see changes in their muscle cells, even at that age.
Size matters - but strength matters more

While having big muscles might hold some appeal for some of us, it's your strength that really matters when it comes to functioning well in old age. And if you're training right, getting stronger is relatively easy, even if your body type doesn't build muscle easily.

So what's the right kind of training? That depends on your fitness and health goals.
High-intensity resistance training is the best way to increase and maintain muscle function. The best results come from high-intensity interval training, which is lifting weight that's 80 per cent or more of the maximum amount you can physically do. Two, preferably three, sessions a week is ideal and the most important thing is intensity and progression — so increasing the amount of weight you're lifting once it stops feeling hard to lift. If you can tolerate it, increase your power as well as strength by performing high-velocity, high-intensity movements. An example of that would be lifting a heavy weight really fast (concentric phase), then slowly lowering it down (eccentric phase). If you don't have arthritis or other joint problems, adding high-impact movements, like jumping, improves bone density, can help to prevent osteoporosis.

Weight machines good for older people
It is important to get guidance from an experienced trainer, especially if you're new to lifting weights, have injuries or suffer any other health issues, cannot be underestimated. Training the older person needs to have a double-barrelled perspective. It's not just sarcopenia, you also want to prevent falls. So there needs to be two styles of programming: increasing strength and muscle mass safely, and preventing falls.  Machines are a great option for working on strength because they do all the stability work. The machine controls your movement which is great, especially if you haven't trained before and have poor body awareness — you can work hard with good control.

Adding in stability work will help to prevent falls, so include exercises like banded walks, single-leg balancing and woodchops on the cable machine.
Aerobic exercise still important

Despite all the benefits of strength training, it's not going to give you all the health benefits you need. So you still need to make the effort to get some regular aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming or cycling.


The Importance of Shoulder Health



The shoulder is a very complex and important joint. Not only is it important to your training, but it is important in everyday life. Your shoulders play a part in just about every single upper body movement. Your shoulder can move in multiple planes of motion and perform multiple functions so any sort of limitation can be potentially dangerous and may even cause injury. But what makes shoulder mobility so important? How can you tell if your shoulders are adequately mobile and how do you address it if they aren't?

First, let’s talk about the general importance of shoulder mobility. One thing that needs to be understood when addressing shoulder mobility is that shoulder mobility itself also requires adequate stability of the scapula. Without a stable scapula, impingement can occur and your shoulder mobility and health could be compromised. But if your shoulders have too much stability, it can restrict your range of motion, affecting your ability to perform a wide variety of common movements in and outside of the gym. Speaking in terms of a gym setting, any overhead movement is going to be compromised by poor shoulder mobility. If you cannot get into a proper pressing position with your shoulders, you run the risk of putting unwanted stress on your shoulders in that position. This leaves a large amount of the shoulder structure susceptible to injury. Similarly, poor shoulder mobility can also affect your squat even though it’s a lower body movement. Hand placement in the squat will not only affect placement of the bar but also tension on your shoulders. The narrower your hands are on the bar in your squat, the better shelf you will have to place the bar comfortably; however, your shoulders need to be mobile enough for this narrow hand placement. Lacking that shoulder mobility can also potentially cause pain in the shoulders, regardless of hand placement. The list of movements affected by poor shoulder mobility can go on and on, but the idea is that you NEED proper shoulder mobility to safely and effectively perform a large majority of weight bearing exercises.

How do you know if your shoulder mobility is good enough? One of the most common tests performed to check for adequate shoulder mobility is called the reach test. To perform this, you will start with one arm high overhead and the other arm low at your side. Then you will bend each of your elbows in an attempt to have both of your hands meet in the middle of your back. You should repeat this on both sides. The goal is for your hands to be able to touch one another. If this is the case, your shoulder mobility should be considered good or even great if you can overlap your fingers. If your hands cannot touch, measure the distance in between your fingertips. If there is more than 2 inches between your fingers, you have some work to do to increase your shoulder mobility. 

If you discovered you have poor shoulder mobility, it should be made priority in your training to increase your shoulder mobility. But how do you improve it? Here are a few ways to improve your shoulder mobility that I've personally found to be helpful and I hope they work for you too!

Train your back muscles as much, if not more than your chest muscles. This will help prevent over-tightness of the chest which can cause forward rolled shoulders leading t poor positioning and a lack of mobility. I would argue that neglecting this is one of the primary causes of poor shoulder mobility and also one of the easiest ones to address.

Wall extension. For this, you will want your heels and back flat against the wall, the back of your hands to the wall and your elbows at a 90 degree angle. From there, try to reach up as far as you can while also keeping your arms pinned against the wall. This is an easily repeatable movement that you can do almost everywhere.

Door stretch. For this, you will walk through a doorway and grab each side of the doorway, walking forward so that your hands are behind you. You'll take a bit of a forward lean until you feel a good stretch in your chest and anterior shoulder.

“L-Arm Stretch”. For this movement, you will begin lying on your stomach with one arm crossed over your chest (you will be lying on your arm). From there, you will want to flatten your chest toward the floor to get a good stretch in the outside of the shoulder. Make sure to move in and out of this position a few times prior to holding the stretch.

Each of these movements should help improve your shoulder mobility. Continue to assess and monitor your improvements!

There needs to be a balance of stability and strength within your shoulder. Having both will help improve your movement quality and comfort as well as help keep you from getting injured when exercising. You also must be sure to assess your shoulder mobility. Do not make assumptions on your mobility just based on how you perceive you move, as you can potentially not notice poor mobility patterns if you have nothing else to compare it to. Whether you have low or high mobility, you should consistently monitor this. Poor mobility needs to be improved, while great mobility should be maintained!

Remedies For Dry Itchy Skin



1. Coconut oil
Coconut oil has emollient properties  
Emollients fill the spaces between skin cells, creating a smooth surface. That’s why the saturated fatty acids that occur naturally in coconut oil can hydrate and smooth the skin.
You can use coconut oil daily on even the most sensitive parts of your body. These include the area underneath your eyes and around your mouth. Another advantage of coconut oil is that you don’t need to mix it with anything. Coconut is gentle enough for substantial everyday use.

2. Petroleum jelly
According to a study petroleum jelly products can heal skin in older adults. Petroleum jelly, also known as mineral oil, covers the skin in a protective layer. It traps moisture underneath. This helps heal dry, irritated skin patches.

3. Oatmeal baths
Oatmeal is common folk remedy for irritated skin. A 2015 study showed why grandmothers and great-grandmothers have been recommending this home remedy for centuries: It works.
Colloidal oatmeal has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that soothe irritation. This remedy is especially effective if you’re seeking to relieve itching. After you’ve taken an oatmeal bath, make sure you moisturize your skin to lock in the barrier.
You can make an oatmeal bath at home. Use a food processor to chop oatmeal into a fine powder, then stir it into warm water. You can also try one of the many commercial products available to make an oatmeal soak.

4. Antioxidants and omega-3s
When your skin is dry, it means you’re exposing it to elements that are damaging skin cells faster than your body can repair them. There are some foods that can help your skin appear healthier, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Foods rich in antioxidants can minimize damage from toxins and help your body make healthy cells. Some of the foods that contribute to skin health include:
blueberries
tomatoes
carrots
beans
peas
lentils
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, may also contribute to a glowing-skin diet.

5. Gloves
Hands tend to experience the most direct contact with environmental irritants. These include dish soap and laundry detergent.
Get in the habit of wearing gloves when your hands are in water. Your hands also take a lot of abuse when temperatures drop and you’re working outside in the cold.
Wearing insulated gloves while doing household chores, or when you’re outside in extreme temperatures can cut down on dry, irritated skin.

6. Adjust your shower temperature
The American Academy of Dermatology notes that relieving dry skin is sometimes as simple as changing your shower routine. While most people tend to take hot showers, these can scald the skin and cause damage.
And some soaps that claim to moisturize and repair the skin can cause the opposite effect. They can trigger allergic reactions and make the skin thinner with harsh chemicals.
Take short showers with water that’s warm, not hot. And look for soaps that are fragrance-free and gentler on skin than traditional soaps.

7. Use a humidifier
Keeping a humidifier in your home can help minimize the dryness caused by home heating systems. Though gas and electric heat strip moisture from the air, a humidifier set to 60 percent is enough to offset this effect, according to the Harvard Medical School. 

8. Avoid allergens and irritants
A sudden occurrence of dry skin might be connected to the clothes you’re wearing or what you’ve exposed your skin to.
Sitting by the fireplace, spending time in chlorinated or chemically-treated water, or even wearing wool clothing can all irritate your skin and make it feel dry. Check what you’re putting your skin through, and try to treat it gently.

Prevention
It’s important to preserve healthy skin. Your skin is the first line of defense against bacteria and viruses. When your skin is compromised by itching, an infection can occur. You may want to incorporate a good moisturizer into your daily routine, even when your skin isn’t bothering you.
In fact, maintaining a healthy skin barrier daily is one of the best ways to prevent outbreaks of dry skin. Another essential skincare tip is to use a moisturizing sunscreen every day to prevent skin damage and dryness.
Make sure to wear loose-fitting, cotton clothing that draws sweat away from the skin when you’re exposed to high temperatures or skin-irritating conditions.
Remember that extremely dry skin can be an indication of a more serious condition. If home remedies aren’t helping, you may need to see a doctor to get a prescription treatment to relieve your dry skin.

How To Successfully Navigate Thanksgiving Day





1. Exercise 1st Thing in The Morning Thanksgiving Day
There are all kinds of 5k Turkey Trots going on which is a fun and festive way to start your day with a really good calorie burn. Does this mean you get to eat extra because you worked out? Not really. It means your workout will help you to burn off the extra calories you are bound to consume!

2. Don’t Starve Yourself All Day
Most people think if they don’t eat they will be able to eat all they want at the Thanksgiving dinner table. The reality is, you have now put your body into starvation mode. The minute you finally do eat, #1 you are going to be so ravenous that you eat all that is in sight, and #2, your body is going to take everything you eat, healthy or not so healthy, and store it for reserves since you put your body into starvation mode. Your best bet is to still eat small meals throughout the day. Ex: 1 Egg or 2 egg-white omelet with veggies and a ½ cup berries for breakfast,  a nice chicken salad for lunch and some deli turkey and crackers for a snack to keep you going before dinner. Then, even after all that eating, you still eat dinner! This will keep your  metabolism revving all day making it much easier burning off the excess calories.

3. Eat Everything But in Small Portions
Don’t go eat-crazy as if you’ll never see this food again. The reality is, you most likely will have mini Thanksgiving feasts for days with leftovers. So go light, try everything, and try really hard NOT to stuff yourself! This is key! The minute you stuff yourself, whatever your body cannot use for muscle repair and energy, will be stored as fat. So make a decision to not overeat.

4. Take a Walk After Dinner or a Bike Ride
Something active will help in the digestion process and it will also add to your calorie burn vs. the alternative go-to of lounging on the couch in front of the football game as the tryptophan sinks in and your body goes into hibernation for the remainder of the day.

5. Don’t Take Too Many Leftovers
Do you really need to be eating this kind of food every day, for every meal for the next week? Let me help as you try to justify that answer. The answer is NO. Resist the mashup of potatoes, turkey, gravy, stuffing, corn, and everything else you can cram into that double-duty  zip lock. Just take one more meal’s worth. Trust that your meal will taste that much better.

6. Workout Hard The Next Day
The next morning, hit the gym, the outdoors or your home to get another really good calorie burn in.

7. Get Right Back on Track the NEXT Meal
Come breakfast the next day, get  back on top of things! They healthier you eat, the better you will feel post Thanksgiving.
You don’t have to deprive yourself when trying to lose weight, just do, think, eat and move smarter! Stuffing yourself with food is never the answer. Eating small portions is!

Healthy Sources of Vitamin D



1. Salmon
Salmon is a popular fatty fish and a great source of vitamin D.
According to the USDA Food Composition Database, one 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of salmon contains between 361 and 685 IU of vitamin D.
However, it’s usually not specified whether the salmon was wild or farmed. This may not seem important, but it can make a big difference.
On average, wild-caught salmon packs 988 IU of vitamin D per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, or 165% of the RDI. Some studies have found even higher levels in wild salmon — up to 1,300 IU per serving.
However, farmed salmon contains only 25% of that amount. Still, a serving of farmed salmon provides about 250 IU of vitamin D, or 42% of the RDI.

2. Herring and Sardines
Herring is a fish eaten around the world. It can be served raw, canned, smoked or pickled.
This small fish is also one of the best sources of vitamin D.
Fresh Atlantic herring provides 1,628 IU per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, which is nearly three times the RDI.
If fresh fish isn't your thing, pickled herring is also a great source of vitamin D, providing 680 IU per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, or 113% of the RDI.
However, pickled herring also contains a high amount of sodium,  which some people consume too much of.
Sardines are a good source of vitamin D as well — one serving contains 272 IU, or 45% of the RDI.
Other types of fatty fish are also good vitamin D sources. Halibut and mackerel provide 600 and 360 IU per serving, respectively. 

3. Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is a popular supplement. If you don't like fish, taking cod liver oil can be key to obtaining certain nutrients unavailable in other sources.
It’s an excellent source of vitamin D — at about 450 IU per teaspoon (4.9 ml), it clocks in at a massive 75% of the RDI. It's been used for many years to prevent and treat deficiency in children.
Cod liver oil is also a fantastic source of vitamin A, with 90% of the RDI in just one teaspoon (4.9 ml). However, vitamin A can be toxic in high amounts.
Therefore, be cautious with cod liver oil, making sure to not take too much.
In addition, cod liver oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, in which many people are deficient.

4. Canned Tuna
Many people enjoy canned tuna because of its flavor and easy storage methods.
It’s also usually cheaper than buying fresh fish.
Canned light tuna packs up to 236 IU of vitamin D in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, which is nearly half of the RDI.
It’s also a good source of niacin and vitamin K.
Unfortunately, canned tuna contains methylmercury, a toxin found in many types of fish. If it builds up in your body, it can cause serious health problems.
However, some types of fish pose less risk than others. For instance, light tuna is typically a better choice than white tuna — it's considered safe to eat up to 6 ounces (170 grams) per week.

5. Oysters
Oysters are a type of clam that lives in saltwater. They’re delicious, low in calories and full of nutrients.
One 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of wild oysters has only 68 calories but contains 320 IU of vitamin D — over half the RDI.
In addition, one serving packs 2–6 times the RDI for vitamin B12, copper and zinc — far more than multivitamins. 

6. Shrimp
Shrimp is a popular type of shellfish.
Yet unlike most other seafood sources of vitamin D, shrimp are very low in fat.
However, they still contain a good amount of vitamin D — 152 IU per serving, or 25% of the RDI.
They also contain beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, although at lower amounts than many other foods rich in vitamin D.
Shrimp also pack about 152 mg of cholesterol per serving, which is a significant amount.  Yet, this should not be a cause for concern.
No strong evidence supports the idea that dietary cholesterol intake increases heart disease risk.
Even the US Department of Health and Human Services has removed its upper limit for cholesterol intake, stating that overconsumption of cholesterol is not an issue.

7. Egg Yolks
People who don't eat fish should know that seafood is not the only source of vitamin D. Whole eggs are another good source, as well as a wonderfully nutritious food.
While most of the protein in an egg is found in the white, the fat, vitamins and minerals are found mostly in the yolk.
One typical egg yolk from chickens raised indoors contains 18–39 IU of vitamin D, which isn't very high.
However, pasture-raised chickens that roam outside in the sunlight produce eggs with levels 3–4 times higher.
Additionally, eggs from chickens given vitamin D-enriched feed have up to 6,000 IU of vitamin D per yolk. That’s a whopping 10 times the RDI.
Choosing eggs either from chickens raised outside or marketed as high in vitamin D can be a great way to meet your daily requirements.

8. Mushrooms
Excluding fortified foods, mushrooms are the only plant source of vitamin D.
Like humans, mushrooms can synthesize this vitamin when exposed to UV light.
However, mushrooms produce vitamin D2, whereas animals produce vitamin D3.
Though vitamin D2 helps raise blood levels of vitamin D, it may not be as effective as Vitamin D3. 
Nonetheless, wild mushrooms are excellent sources of vitamin D2. In fact, some varieties pack up to 2,300 IU per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving — nearly four times the RDI.
On the other hand, commercially grown mushrooms are often grown in the dark and contain very little D2.
However, certain brands are treated with UV light. These mushrooms can provide anywhere from 130–450 IU of vitamin D2 per 3.5 ounces (100 grams).

Vitamin D To Help Fight Colds and The Winter Blues




Vitamin D plays a major role in disease prevention and maintaining optimal health.  It has long been known to be important for bone health, but it serves many other functions. Vitamin D has been linked to the prevention of cancer, immunity to the cold, and the reduction of depression.  It supports cardiovascular health and proper immune function, making you much less likely to get the flu when you have optimal levels!  

Your body can make its own vitamin D when you expose your skin to sunlight.  The UVB rays react with your skin and produce vitamin D3, which is sent to your liver and converted to calcidiol, also known as 25(OH)D.  Generally, 20-30 minutes of mid day sun exposure is sufficient for light skinned people, if you have darker skin you may need to double the time.  Interestingly, once your body has produced enough vitamin D through sun exposure, those same UVB rays will begin to prevent excess vitamin D production.  This means there’s no need to worry about getting too much vitamin D from sunlight.

This is a great natural system, however, if you live the US (or other northern latitudes) it’s very difficult and likely impossible to meet your Vitamin D needs from sunlight during the winter months. 

During this time just about everyone in the US is in need of vitamin D supplementation.  One caveat with taking vitamin D orally is that it is possible to take too much.  However, this is unlikely as you would have to take large amounts very frequently.  As an oral supplement vitamin D3 is preferred over D2 as researchers have found that vitamin D3 is twice as effective as vitamin D2 in raising levels in the body.  Recent research indicates that taking 4000 IU  - 8000 IU per day will put you at an optimal level.  When you take vitamin D orally it is sent to your liver where it is converted to calcidiol, or 25(OH)D, the same as when your body creates it from sunlight. Since vitamin D is fat soluble it’s beneficial to take your vitamin D supplement with a healthy fat for better absorption.  The only way to know for sure the proper supplementation amount for you is to get a blood test for 25(OH)D before you begin supplementing and check it after 6-8 weeks.  An optimal level for 25(OH)D is 50-60 ng/mL.  

In addition to playing a part in your emotional health maintaining optimal Vitamin D levels will support and enhance your athletic performance.  Studies have shown that athletes with optimal serum vitamin D concentrations bounced back better after intense exercise.  As athletes, we know that being able to get out there and feel good in our training also plays a part in our sense of well being!

The Truth About Carbohydrates




1. Carbs Are Not Uniquely Fattening
Scientists once hypothesized that carbs increased the risk of obesity more than fat and protein.
According to this hypothesis, carbs are the primary cause of obesity  due to their ability to raise insulin levels, which in turn promotes the storage of calories as fat. This idea is known as the carbohydrate-insulin model of obesity.
Of course, excessive intake of any calorie-providing nutrient — fat, carb, or protein — is an effective recipe for weight gain and obesity.
But no compelling evidence supports the idea that high-carb diets are especially fattening. In fact, many studies suggest that there is no significant association between high carb intake and obesity.
Nevertheless, healthy low-carb diets have been proven effective for weight loss — at least in the short term.
Scientists believe that their effectiveness is due to the elimination of refined carbs like sugar and an increased focus on healthy, high-fiber carb sources, as well as protein and fat.
Still, one large, 12-month study that compared the effectiveness of a healthy low-carb diet with a healthy low-fat diet detected no significant differences in weight loss.
In short, the quality of the carbs you eat is of greater importance than the proportion of carbs in your diet.
Thus, you should avoid eating a lot of sugar and other refined carbs, and instead focus on whole, carb-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, roots, and tubers.

SUMMARY Carbs don’t cause weight gain unless they contribute to excessive calorie intake. Carb quality is of greater importance. Avoid unhealthy, refined carbs and focus instead on healthy, high-fiber carb sources.

2. Early Humans Frequently Ate Carbs
Learning to cook was a game-changer for early humans, as cooked meat provided increased protein, fat, and calories.
Yet, new evidence indicates that carb-rich foods like root vegetables, legumes, and even grains were cooked and consumed by human ancestors as well.
Cooked carbs would not only have been more nutritious but also more appealing to a hungry hunter-gatherer.
This theory is supported by emerging biological evidence showing that early humans began developing extra copies of the amylase gene, which helps produce the enzymes you need to digest starchy carbs.
In fact, this change in DNA occurred long before humans started farming.
That's why people today can have up to 18 amylase gene copies, indicating that humans have evolved to digest starches more efficiently.
Also, consider that every single cell in your body runs on glucose, which is a carbohydrate sugar. Even the most fat-adapted brain requires at least 20% of its energy from carbs.

SUMMARY Genetics and archaeological evidence suggest that humans ate high-carb foods long before they started farming.

3. Gluten Intolerance Affects Few People
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. By cutting carbs from your diet, you automatically cut out gluten, too.
A gluten-free diet  is necessary for the small number of people with celiac disease or some other types of autoimmune disease.
Gluten-free diets may also benefit people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity or wheat intolerance.
However, studies indicate that few people with self-reported gluten sensitivity have this condition at all. One study showed that only 3 out of 59 participants who believed they were gluten sensitive reacted to gluten.
New research strongly suggests that the condition known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity is not sensitivity to gluten at all.
Instead, it appears to be sensitivity to fructan, a type of soluble fiber or FODMAPs found in wheat.
FODMAPs like fructans cause digestive symptoms like gas, diarrhea, and stomach pain in some people — especially those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
If you have FODMAPs sensitivity, there is no reason for you to avoid carbs altogether. Instead, try to identify and avoid only those foods to which you’re sensitive.

SUMMARY Though removing gluten is crucial for some people, current evidence suggests that most people don't benefit from a gluten-free diet.

4. Fiber — a Carbohydrate — Is Important for Optimal Health
Nutrition is rarely black and white.
Still, most experts agree that eating fiber is good for your health.
In particular, soluble fiber is known to benefit heart health and weight management.
The thick and sticky soluble fiber found in high-carb foods like legumes, fruits, and oats helps slow down digestion.
Fiber also increases the time it takes to digest and absorb nutrients, contributing to reduced body weight and improved health.

SUMMARY Most dietary fiber is made of carbohydrates. Soluble fiber is particularly beneficial for weight maintenance and heart health.

5. Gut Bacteria Rely on Carbs for Energy
The balance between beneficial and harmful gut bacteria may influence your risk for many lifestyle diseases, both physical and psychological.
To grow, your beneficial gut bacteria need carbs that they can ferment for energy.
As it turns out, soluble fiber appears to be the important nutrient they feed on.
Once again, some of the best food sources of soluble fiber include legumes and oats, which are high in carbs.

SUMMARY Eating soluble fiber may play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria.

6. Legumes Are a Superfood — on a Nutrient-To-Cost Basis
Legumes are edible plant seeds that include beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts.
They’re naturally high in carbs and thus often excluded from low-carb eating patterns. They’re also eliminated on a strict paleo diet. 
However, legumes are nutritionally unique.
They’re one of the few foods rich in both protein and fiber. Legumes are also high in vitamins and minerals. Plus, calorie for calorie, they’re one of the most nutrient-dense foods available.
Additionally, they’re very cheap to produce and package compared to other high-protein food sources like meat and dairy.
This remarkable nutrition-to-cost ratio is why legumes are an important food staple in many developing countries.

SUMMARY Legumes are incredibly healthy and amazingly cheap. They’re rich in protein, fiber, and other valuable nutrients. Calorie for calorie, they’re one of the most nutritious foods.

7. Cutting Carbs Does Not Improve Exercise Performance
It’s a myth that a low-carb diet can outperform a conventional high-carb diet for athletes.
In a well-designed study in cyclists performing a 62-mile (100-km) trial with intermittent sprints, participants followed either a low-carb or a high-carb diet for the week leading up to the test.
Though both groups had similar race times, the high-carb group outperformed the low-carb group's sprint output on all four occasions.
While a single study is insufficient to draw solid conclusions, the weight of evidence overwhelmingly supports these results.
If you're fat-adapted on a low-carb diet, you can still perform very well, but no high-quality studies show that cutting carbs allows you to outperform those on higher-carb diets.
This holds true for cardio endurance events like cycling, as well as weight training and bodybuilding for muscular strength and endurance.
For those who simply exercise to keep fit, a low-carb diet will likely not have a negative impact on your performance — but it probably won't improve it either.

SUMMARY Athletes don’t perform better on low-carb diets than higher-carb ones. Performance is similar for endurance but worse for sprinting if you’ve cut down on carbs.

8. Carbs Don't Cause Brain Damage
Some claim that carbs cause harmful brain inflammation. However, this idea is not based on scientific evidence.
Unlike refined grains, whole grains are high in magnesium and fiber — both of which are linked to less inflammation.
In fact, the extensively studied Mediterranean diet, which is rich in whole grains, is strongly associated with slower age-related mental decline and a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease.
On the other hand, high intake of refined carbs and added sugar should be avoided. As part of an unhealthy lifestyle, these ingredients reduce overall health, adversely affecting your body as a whole.

SUMMARY There is no evidence linking whole carb sources to brain damage or diseases like Alzheimer's. In fact, the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in whole grains, is linked to improved brain health.

9. The World's Longest-Lived Populations Eat Plenty of Carbs
The Blue Zones — the regions where people live measurably longer — provide scientists with unique insights into certain eating patterns.
The island of Okinawa in Japan has the most centenarians (people who live over the age of 100) in the world.
Their diet is very high in carb-rich sweet potatoes, green vegetables, and legumes. Prior to 1950, a whopping 69% of their calorie intake came from sweet potatoes alone.
Another long-living population inhabits the Greek island of Ikaria. Nearly 1 in every 3 people lives to be 90, and they eat a diet rich in legumes, potatoes, and bread.
Several other Blue Zone regions share similar dietary traits, indicating that carbs are not causing problems for these people.

SUMMARY Some of the world's longest-living populations eat diets with plenty of high-carb plant foods.

The Bottom Line
It's important to think about foods as a whole and not just consider their individual nutrients. This is especially true when it comes to carbs.
For instance, carb-laden junk foods are unhealthy, providing no nutritional value. They’re today's biggest contributors to excess calories. 
And though low-carb diets can be an effective tool for weight loss and diabetes control, that doesn't mean carbs alone cause weight gain or disease — nor are they the sole cause of the current state of public health.
This depends entirely on the context and varies between individuals.
Some people do well with fewer carbs, while others function just fine eating plenty of carbs from healthy food.  
In any case, whole-carb foods can be part of a healthy diet and don’t need to be avoided at all cost.

Super Healthy High Carbohydrate Foods



It is a myth that carbs are unhealthy. The truth is that some of the world's healthiest foods are high in carbohydrates and are important nutrient sources.  
While refined carbs may be unhealthy in high amounts, whole food sources of carbs are very healthy.

Here is a list of 12 high-carb foods that also happen to be incredibly healthy.

1. Quinoa
Quinoa is a nutritious seed that has become incredibly popular in the natural health community.
It is classified as a pseudocereal, a seed that is prepared and eaten like a grain.
Cooked quinoa is 21.3% carbs, making it a high-carb food. However, it is also a good source of protein and fiber.
Quinoa is rich in many minerals and plant compounds. It has been linked to health benefits including improved blood sugar control.
It does not contain any gluten, making it a popular alternative to wheat for those on a gluten-free diet. 
Quinoa is also very filling since it is relatively high in fiber and protein. For this reason, it may aid in weight loss.
Summary Quinoa is highly nutritious. It numerous health benefits include improved blood sugar control. Quinoa is also high in protein and fiber, so it may be useful for weight loss.

2. Oats
Oats may be the healthiest whole grain food on the planet.
They are a great source of many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  
Raw oats contain 66% carbs, nearly 11% of which is fiber. They are particularly high in a powerful soluble fiber called oat beta-glucan.
Oats are also a relatively good source of protein, containing more than most grains.
Research suggests that oats may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels.
Eating oats may also lower blood sugar levels, especially in people with type 2 diabetes.
Furthermore, oats are very filling and may help you lose weight.
Summary Oats contain many beneficial nutrients, including fiber and protein. Oats have been shown to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

3. Buckwheat
Buckwheat is also a pseudocereal.
Despite the name, buckwheat is not related to wheat and does not contain gluten.
Raw buckwheat contains 71.5% carbs, while cooked buckwheat groats contain about 20% carbs.
Buckwheat is very nutritious, containing both protein and fiber. It also has more minerals and antioxidants than most grains. Additionally, it may be particularly beneficial for heart health and blood sugar control, especially in people with diabetes. Buckwheat is the main ingredient in soba noodles, which are popular in Japan.
Summary Buckwheat is highly nutritious and contains more antioxidants and minerals than most grains. Eating buckwheat may have benefits for heart health and blood sugar control.

4. Bananas
Bananas are among the world's most popular fruits.
They are made up of about 23% carbs, either in the form of starches or sugars.
Unripe, green bananas are higher in starches, which transform into natural sugars as the bananas ripen, turning yellow in the process.
Bananas are high in potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. They also contain several beneficial plant compounds.
Due to their potassium content, bananas may help lower blood pressure and improve heart health.
Unripe bananas also contain decent amounts of resistant starch and pectin, both of which support digestive health and feed friendly gut bacteria.
Summary Bananas are high in potassium, which may help regulate blood pressure. Unripe bananas also contain resistant starch and pectin, which can improve digestive health.

5. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a delicious, nutritious tuber.
Cooked sweet potatoes contain about 18–21% carbs. This carb content consists of starch, sugar and fiber. 
Sweet potatoes are a rich source of provitamin A (from beta-carotene), vitamin C and potassium.
They are very rich in antioxidants and may help reduce oxidative damage, lowering the risk of several diseases.
Summary Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of provitamin A (from beta-carotene), as well as several other vitamins and antioxidants.

6. Beetroots
Beetroots are a purple root vegetable, commonly referred to as beets. 
Raw and cooked beets contain about 8–10% carbs, mainly from sugar and fiber.
They are packed with vitamins, minerals, potent antioxidants and plant compounds.
Beets are also high in inorganic nitrates, which transform into nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide lowers blood pressure and may decrease the risk of several diseases.
Beet juice is also very high in inorganic nitrates and is often used to enhance physical performance during endurance exercises.
Summary Beets are loaded with vitamins, minerals and plant compounds. They contain high amounts of inorganic nitrates, which can improve health and boost physical performance.

7. Oranges
Oranges are among the world’s most popular fruits.
They are mainly composed of water and contain 11.8% carbs. Oranges are also a good source of fiber.
Oranges are especially rich in vitamin C, potassium and some B vitamins. In addition, they contain citric acid as well as several very potent plant compounds and antioxidants.
Eating oranges may improve heart health and help prevent kidney stones. They may also increase your uptake of iron from food, reducing the risk of anemia.
Summary Oranges are a good source of fiber. They also contain high amounts of vitamin C and other healthy plant compounds. Eating oranges may benefit heart health and help prevent anemia.

8. Blueberries
Blueberries are incredibly delicious.
They are frequently marketed as a superfood due to their high amounts of plant compounds and antioxidants.
They consist mostly of water as well as about 14.5% carbs.
Blueberries also contain high amounts of many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese.
Studies have shown that blueberries safeguard your body from oxidative damage. They may also improve memory in older adults.
Summary Blueberries are phenomenally healthy. They contain many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and protect your body from oxidative damage.

9. Grapefruit
Grapefruit is a citrus fruit with a sweet, bitter and sour flavor.
It contains about 9% carbs and has high amounts of several vitamins, minerals and plant compounds.
Eating grapefruit can aid weight loss and reduce insulin resistant. Furthermore, eating grapefruit may help prevent kidney stones, lower cholesterol levels and protect against colon cancer.
Summary Grapefruit contains various vitamins, minerals and plant compounds. It may help with weight loss and provide numerous health benefits.

10. Apples
Apples are a popular fruit with a sweet flavor and a distinctive crunchy texture.
They are available in many colors, sizes and flavors, all of which generally contain 13–15% carbs.
Apples boast many vitamins and minerals, but usually only in small amounts.
However, they are a decent source of vitamin C, antioxidants and healthy plant compounds.
Eating apples may benefit health in several ways, such as improving blood sugar control and reducing the risk of heart disease. Apples may also decrease the risk of some types of cancer.
Summary Apples contain a decent amount of vitamin C, antioxidants and plant compounds. Eating apples may improve blood sugar control as well as reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.

11. Kidney Beans
Kidney beans are a variety of the common bean. They are part of the legume family.  Cooked kidney beans contain 22.8% carbs in the form of starches and fiber. They are also high in protein.   
Kidney beans are rich in many vitamins, minerals and plant compounds. They’re also rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins and isoflavones.
Their numerous health benefits include improved blood sugar control and reduced risk of colon cancer. However, never eat them raw. Raw or improperly cooked kidney beans are toxic.
Summary Kidney beans contain many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Cooked kidney beans are also a good source of protein and are linked to several health benefits.

12. Chickpeas
Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are part of the legume family.
Cooked chickpeas contain 27.4% carbs, 8% of which are fiber. They are also a good source of plant-based protein. 
Chickpeas contain many vitamins and minerals, including iron, phosphorus and B-vitamins.
Chickpeas are linked to improved heart and digestive health. They may also help prevent cancer.
Summary Chickpeas are an excellent source of plant-based protein and contain many vitamins and minerals. Eating chickpeas has been linked to benefits for heart and digestive health as well as cancer prevention.




Healthy Ways To Transition Into Fall



1. Journal About Your 10 Best Summer Memories
Gratitude or happiness journals can help retrain your mind to focus on the positive. Put a new spin on the gratitude journal and spend 20 to 30 minutes (or longer, if you like) writing about each of your top 10 favorite memories from summer. 
The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit, and feel. Journaling about positive memories from your summer can evoke a state of mindfulness as you close the chapter on summer and focus on the present.

2. Preserve Your Memories in a Photo Collage
Photos are one of the best ways to induce positive memories. Think about how happy you are when you look back on pictures of yourself and your loved ones enjoying the summer season. Surround yourself with fun photographs that will keep you in happy spirits for months to come. They're also a great conversation piece when friends and family come to visit.

Put together a collage of photos from the summer that you can put in your home or office. Perhaps you can select one photo from each of the fun times you spent time journaling about to represent your "Summer 2015" memories.
Another fun project is to make photo books (you can do this through online photo galleries like Snapfish or iPhoto) to put on your coffee table, or calendars that you can send as gifts.

3. Organize and Pack Away Your Summer Gear
Set aside time to wash and purge this season’s supplies. Now is a good time to wash all summer clothing and determine what you want to hold on to for another season and what can be donated, or given to younger relatives as hand-me-downs.
Do the same with your outdoor supplies like tents, tablecloths, grilling supplies, pool toys, and other items you collected over the summer. Box everything up and store them for next year.

4. Find Your New Flow
Our routines tend to shift with the seasons. For many families, fall is when kids begin a new school year and join extracurricular activities. For others, it may be a time to focus on work, whether it’s at an office or starting new projects around the house.
Going back to school or work doesn't have to be a bummer. It can be an exciting new chapter in your life, if you place your intention on setting new goals and having fun.

As you set your new routine, consider your responsibilities, health and wellness as well as your favorite leisure activities. Make a list of what is most important to you and your family. Your list might include exercise, sleep, proper nutrition, setting new goals, scheduling down time, beginning (or getting back into) a meditation practice, organizing activities, making time for fun and leisure, and establishing a new hobby.
Get the whole family involved to ensure everyone is on ready and excited for the fall routine.

5. Create a New Meal Plan
Fall means new seasonal fruits and vegetables will hit store shelves and your local farmers’ market. Revisit your meal plan and design one that includes fresh seasonal veggies and fruits, and explore new recipes for more grounding foods as you move into the cooler months.

Remember to shop around the outside perimeter of the grocery store, where all the fresh foods can be found. Minimize processed foods that are frozen, come in a box or a can; do your best to get all the colors of the rainbow in your diet each day.
Make it fun and involve the whole family when preparing your meals. Cooking together can be a lot of fun.

Plan and prep your snacks and meals for school or work in advance. Pack smaller containers with seeds, nuts, fresh-cut veggies, and fruits to keep you healthy when you’re on the go. Having healthy snack-size portions to munch on between meals will keep you satisfied and away from the vending machine or cookie jar. The key is to get creative and have fun, while keeping it healthy.

6. Get Daily Exercise or Movement
An active body is an important component to physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise or movement every day. Do your best to make sure you're doing some form of cardio to get your circulation moving, strength-building exercises to develop strong bones and muscle, and stretching to loosen and lengthen your muscles. Whether you're hitting the hiking trails, taking a yoga class, cycling, or swimming, choose an activity that you enjoy. If it’s fun, you'll keep doing it! 

*Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you haven't exercised for a long time or have chronic health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, or arthritis.

7. Get Social
Research shows that individuals who lack social connections or report frequent feelings of loneliness tend to suffer higher rates of infection, depression, and cognitive decline, according to an article published in Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 

Plan fun get-togethers with friends regularly. Whether it’s a weekend getaway, lunch, dinner, a social gathering with friends, or an event in your community, be sure to take time to stay connected with others and have fun. When we maintain a social connection with friends we tend to laugh more, have engaging conversations, and feel more supported through life's challenges.

8. Find an Activity for Shorter Days
Hobbies or activities that keep us mentally stimulated and bring us joy are a great way to pass the time indoors when the temperature falls and the days get shorter. Many people take on various creative projects such as expressive writing, arts and crafts, reading, and re-arranging interior spaces to keep them actively engaged during the fall and winter seasons when outdoor activities aren't as accessible.

You might find that this is a good time to explore taking an online course in an area that you want to learn more about. Coursera is a resource for free online courses offered by top universities and organizations worldwide. Here you can find more than 1,000 options for different topics to study at your own pace. Whatever you choose, find a class that inspires you to learn and keep growing, or one that brings you happiness, joy, and fulfillment.

9. Take Some Down Time
The Western world has trained us to be intently focused on the frenzy of doing, accomplishing, and acquiring. We spend the majority of our days outwardly focused. Unless we’re able to balance our lives with down time, we may find ourselves overloaded or exhausted. Many people think of down time as watching television, running errands, or scrolling through their social media feeds.
For Dr. Deepak Chopra, down time means doing no mental work and just letting the mind and brain simply be. Taking a hot bath, gazing at a fire in the hearth, meditating, or cozying up on the couch with a good book can be incredibly nourishing down-time activities. Down time allows you to rest and reboot, which should give you the focus and stamina to take on work or other challenges.

"The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration—it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done," essayist Tim Kreider wrote in The New York Times.

Transitioning gracefully from free-spirited, rule-breaking, and fun-loving summer back into fall routines can be fun, if that is your intention. A smooth transition to fall comes down to identifying how you want to spend your time and creating healthy new habits for the next six months. A small shift in perspective and a bit of self-discipline will help get you into a great new routine in no time at all.

Remember to design your routine with balance in mind and you’ll set yourself up for success as you transition into the fall season.

Shift Your Mindset For Weight Loss




Shifting your mindset about how to lose weight is the biggest factor in losing weight.  We can't shift our weight from the outside without realizing the correct inner resolve and intention. Most people try to lose weight with the worst state of mind possible: wanting to "fix" themselves. They jump into diets and exercise plans out of self-deprecation, all the while pinching their "trouble" spots, calling themselves "fat" and feeling altogether less-than. They get obsessed with results, focus on quick fixes and lose sight of sustainability and even health.

This type of thinking can be destructive, rather than focusing on the good that can come of weight loss – such as better health, a longer life, more enjoyment in everyday activities and the prevention of diabetes and heart disease – these folks focus on negative thoughts. Ultimately, a negative mindset leads to failure.
Yes, shifting your attitude around weight loss isn't just about feel-goodery; it's about results. In fact, research from Syracuse University shows that the more dissatisfied women are with their bodies, the more likely they are to avoid exercise. And simply thinking that you're overweight predicts future weight gain, according to 2015 research published in the International Journal of Obesity.

While psychologists stress that how you see yourself and your core identity predicts your actions (see yourself as overweight, averse to exercise or unworthy, and you'll act accordingly), biology may also play a role. Research published in Psychosomatic Medicine even show that the stress hormone cortisol, which your adrenal glands secrete every time you get down on yourself or worry about how you measure up on the scale, increases distribution of fat around the abdomen. 

Fortunately, the mind is a flexible thing. Follow these 10 expert-approved tips to change your mindset and make your weight-loss approach healthier, happier and way more effective.

1. Change Your Goals
Losing weight might be a result, but it shouldn't be the goal. Rather, your goals should small, sustainable things over which you have full control.  Did you eat five servings of fruits and veggies today? There's one goal met. What about eight hours of sleep; did you get them in? If so, you can check another goal off of your list.

2. Gravitate to Positivity
Surround yourself with positive people. Doing so provides you an encouraging, emotionally healthy environment in which to invest in yourself. Don't be afraid to ask for help or support. 

3. Rethink Rewards and Punishments
Keep in mind that making healthy choices is a way of practicing self-care.  Food is not a reward, and exercise is not a punishment. They are both ways of caring for your body and helping you feel your best. You deserve both.

4. Take a Breath
Taking a few minutes at the beginning of your workout, or even at the beginning of your day, to slow down and simply focus on the act of breathing can help you set your intentions, connect with your body and even lower your body's stress response, Hutchins says. Lie on your back with your legs extended and place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. Breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold for two and then exhale through your mouth for six, she says. With each breath, the hand placed on your stomach should be the only one to rise or fall.

5. Throw Out the Calendar
Patience is also important when you are losing weight in a healthy and sustainable matter. Plus, if you focus on meeting truly actionable goals, like taking 10,000 steps each and every day, there's no need to get wrapped up in a timeline of goals ahead. Every 24 hours comes with new successes; focus on those.

6. Identify Your 'Trouble Thoughts'
Identify the thoughts that get you into trouble and work to stop and change them. Maybe it's your internal dialogue when you look into the mirror. Or cravings when you get stressed. Consciously make them stop by saying 'stop' out loud.  It might sound silly, but that simple action will break your chain of thought and allow yourself the opportunity to introduce a new, healthier one. The best way to do this is to count from one to 100 as many times as you need until the destructive thoughts subside.

7. Don't Step on the Scale
While the scale isn’t intrinsically bad, a lot of us have learned to associate it with self-destructive thoughts and actions. If that's you, don't even bother stepping on the scale until you get to a place in which the number on the scale doesn't define your worth.

8. Talk to Yourself Like You Would a Friend
When it comes to ideals of beauty and body image, we are incredibly hard on ourselves. The standards we adopt for ourselves are punishing. And we'd never hold our friends or loved ones to many of those standards. You deserve the same respect and compassion as anyone else; treat yourself like it.

9. Forget the Whole 'Foods Are Good or Bad' Mentality
Somewhere along the line, we've learned to feel either proud or guilty about every food choice we make. But it's just food, and you shouldn't have to feel guilty about wanting the occasional cookie. Give yourself permission to have a glass wine or a piece of chocolate cake. Remember, all foods fit.

10. Focus on the Attainable
If you have never stepped into a gym before, your goal shouldn't be doing 30 minutes on the elliptical on day one. A better goal may be to go for a 20-minute walk.  If you want to cook more, but have little experience with healthy recipes or are strapped for time, don't expect yourself to craft new healthy recipes every night after work. Maybe consider using a delivery service such as HelloFresh or Blue Apron in which pre-portioned ingredients and recipes are sent to your door, helping you to get acquainted with new ingredients, try out new recipes and build fundamental cooking skills. Start where you are and build from there.

Healthier & Tasty Pumpkin Spice Latte Alternatives




It’s the start of fall, and we all know what that means: pumpkin spice lattes are back! And while the fans of the so-called “PSL” are everywhere, most people don’t know much about the ingredients or nutritional value of their beloved drink. Let’s take a closer look.

A medium, 16-ounce pumpkin spice latte made with reduced fat milk that’s topped with whipped cream is about 380 calories. While that might seem like a compromise — no whole milk, and not the largest size – it’s still the calorie equivalent of a meal! The medium PSL contains 14 grams of fat (half of it saturated) and 50 grams of sugar (12 teaspoons!).

It’s not all bad news, however. A PSL has a good protein boost with 14 grams (the amount in nearly two eggs or half a chicken breast).
The bottom line: If the PSL is part of your fall tradition, enjoy it – but in moderation. Look at it as a special indulgence, rather than a daily go-to drink.

Keep the same taste you know and love, but consider downsizing your portion. Going down a size saves 100 calories and cuts the fat and sugar by 25 percent. If you also swap out the reduced fat milk to skim milk (or unsweetened soy or almond milk) and skip the whipped cream, you’ll save about 140 calories, and wind up with a drink around 250 calories. And if you think 140 calories isn’t much — if you saved that every day, you’d lose a pound at the end of a month!

There are also a number of good alternatives to get the PSL experience, without the added calories, fat, and sugar.

1. Try a pumpkin pie spice ready-to-drink creamer. 
At a mere 35 calories per tablespoon, you can get the essence of the PSL with a tablespoon or two added to your coffee. Add a splash of the milk (or alternative) of your choice to boost the flavor.

2. Try this 60-calorie pumpkin spice coffee drink.
Take a large mug and add eight ounces hot coffee (regular or decaf), four ounces reduced fat milk (or unsweetened almond, soy or your choice), one teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, ½ teaspoon vanilla, one teaspoon sugar (or low calorie sweetener).

3. Consider this pumpkin spice chai.
Take a large mug and add one cup of oat milk (or milk of your choice), one chai tea bag, ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, ¼ teaspoon ginger, ½ teaspoon vanilla, and one teaspoon sugar (or low calorie sweetener). Heat in a small pan or the microwave. Stir and enjoy. (around 150 calories).

4. Go to town with this frappuccino-esque PSL.

Blend together one medium banana, 1/3 cup canned pumpkin puree, one cup unsweetened milk of your choice (non-fat or low fat milk, almond, soy, oatmeal), ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, one teaspoon sugar (or low calorie sweetener). Mix and enjoy — serves two and has just 125 calories per serving.