Lose that Belly - Feel Healthy & Look Slimmer
Are those stomach rolls ruining your looks?
Believe it or not, belly fat isn't just an aesthetic problem. In fact, it's just as harmful as smoking. It puts you at risk for heart disease, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes, and premature death. On top of that, it's the last to go.
Even skinny people can have big bellies. This type of fat surrounds their vital organs, such as the heart, liver, and kidneys. Over time, it doubles death risk and disrupts endocrine function, causing damage to your brain, metabolism, and immune function.
The good news is that you can lose belly fat through lifestyle changes. Your diet and exercise habits have the biggest impact. First, let's see why stomach fat is so dangerous and how it affects your health.
The Hidden Dangers of Belly Fat
Belly fat isn't just unsightly but harmful too. Also known as visceral fat or active fat, it is stored deep within the abdominal region. Subcutaneous fat, by comparison, is found right beneath the skin's surface.
Studies have linked belly fat to colon and endometrial cancers, atherosclerosis, dementia, and hypertension. According to science, obese people are 35 percent more likely to develop dementia compared to their peers. Other studies have found that belly fat may cause a decline in language and memory.
Furthermore, this type of fat increases cholesterol levels, insulin resistance, and triglycerides. It also causes inflammation of the blood vessels, contributing to cardiovascular problems. In clinical trials, women with a waist circumference over 39 inches had rates of death double than normal. Similar findings applied to men with waists exceeding 47 inches.
As you see, the size of your waist can tell a lot about your health. Even though some belly fat is normal, too much of it could kill. A waist circumference of more than 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women shouldn't be ignored.
How to Get Rid of Belly Fat for Good
The truth is that there's no quick fix to lose belly fat. Depending on your age, weight, and body shape, it can take months or even years to shrink your waistline. Crunches and sit-ups are pretty much useless. These exercises strengthen your core muscles but have little impact on fat deposits.
So what does it take to get rid of belly fat for good?
Here are a few strategies that actually work:
Manage Your Insulin Levels
When it comes to fat loss, the hormone insulin can be your best ally or your worst enemy. Stress, bad eating, lack of exercise, and certain diseases trigger insulin resistance, which in turn, contributes to belly fat. This relationship goes both ways. Visceral fat causes insulin resistance, and vice versa.
The best way to lose inches from your waist is to effectively manage insulin levels. As a rule of thumb, avoid high-sugar foods like candy, ice cream, bread, pasta, white rice, white potatoes, soda, grains, and most fruits. Fill up on foods with a low glycemic index, such as:
Certain foods have few or no carbs, so they lack a GI value. These are ideal for those with belly fat, insulin resistance, diabetes, and other related conditions. Make sure your diet includes plenty of meat, lean fish, low-fat dairy, eggs, unrefined vegetable oils, seafood, herbs, and spices.
Beware that cooking techniques can change the GI. For example, French fries boast a higher glycemic index than boiled or steamed potatoes. In general, the longer food is cooked, the faster its carbs are processed and absorbed into the bloodstream.
Train for Your Goals
Diet and physical activity are equally important. Regular exercise not only burns fat but also keeps your insulin levels within normal limits. On top of that, it triggers a positive hormonal response, offsetting the harm caused by visceral fat.
You may have heard that little exercise is better than none at all. However, when it comes to losing fat, some training methods are more effective than others. Contrary to popular belief, cardio isn't the key to leanness. In fact, it can do more harm than good, especially when struggling with belly fat. The explanation is simple.
HIIT, which stands for high intensity interval training, has emerged as the best way to burn fat. It’s particularly effective against visceral fat and has none of the adverse effects of traditional cardio. A single session will skyrocket your metabolism for up to 48 to 72 hours.
Last, get more rest and avoid stress at all costs. Stress and belly fat are strongly connected. Whenever you're angry, nervous, or anxious, your cortisol levels go up. Prolonged or chronic stress keeps your body in the fight-or-flight mode for weeks or even months, leading to obesity, heart disease, and insulin resistance.
Squeeze more "me" time into your daily routine. Get at least eight hours of sleep per night and allow your body to recover after exercise. Make health a priority and stop over-committing yourself.
These lifestyle changes can go a long way toward better health. You’ll not only get leaner but also feel better, think clearer, and have greater energy. A few months from now on, belly fat will be just a bad memory.
Perfect Fitness Gifts for Friends & Family
It’s never too early to start thinking about great gifts to give the people in your life for the holidays.
Planning ahead helps save money, plus it keeps you from stressing out. Giving gifts that are good for health and wellness won’t just make you feel good, but they will also serve to give the ones you love a better quality of life.
Not sure what to get?
Start looking this list over now and you’re sure to find something to help everyone on your list be their most fit and fabulous!
It’s true that not everyone is into yoga, but a yoga mat can be used for a variety of fitness activities. Crunches and floor exercises are all more comfortable on a good yoga mat. Look for ones that are non-slip. Plus, there are quite a few with unique designs on it so they can truly stand out during their next yoga class.
Just because she’s got a gym bag doesn’t mean she doesn’t need a new one. Today’s gym bags are designed with our modern needs in mind. Look for ones that house laptops and tech devices safely while keeping sweaty gym clothes and sports equipment neatly stowed. It eliminates the need to bring separate bags for everything which is ideal for those that hit the gym before or after work.
For the fitness fanatic that’s always on the go, traveling can really take its toll. A mini massager is just the thing to help relieve stress and tension from overworked muscles after using the fitness center at a hotel or even in the office after a particularly demanding meeting. They even make mini foam rollers which are totally tote-able anywhere!
Smart Athletic Wear
There are plenty of people that love a good run in the frigid cold. And if someone on your list is one of them, getting them a good pair of gloves that are lightweight, comfortable and keep their hands from freezing is the kind of gift they’ll love because they likely won’t think of getting it for themselves.
Now you and everyone else on your list can with wireless earbuds. With this brilliant invention, there are no cords to get tangled up in.
Gym Bag Toiletries
One thing most people forget about when packing their gym bag is to fill it with good toiletries for their post-gym shower. Some people even use cheap brands to fill it with, but they deserve so much more. Find travel sizes of quality brands for shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, lotion, anti-perspirant, lip balm and more to make her feel like she’s on top of the world post-gym.
Ropeless Jump Rope
One of the best exercises by far is jumping rope. But it can really trip you up. Now we live in such a world that there are ropeless jump ropes available. It’s perfect for the traveler or for use in very tight spaces, like behind the desk at work. No more tripping either!
Reusable Water Bottle
Drinking plenty of water each day is hard work.
It’s even worse if that person find water bland and boring. Reusable water bottles with large opening can easily allow one to make water delicious by making fruit infused water and can be taken on the go. They help add tons of flavor to water plus they add all the nutrients from the fruits, vegetables and herbs that are put into them for a tasty way to hit that water quota.
Plus - reusable will help cut down plastic waste and help the environment. A win-win for everyone.
Sweaty feet are no fun in any weather. Give the gift of all-weather socks that are lightweight and breathable. They can be used in winter to keep feet warm and in the summer, they won’t slip down or bunch up, making for a comfortable workout any time of year.
Handle Bar Grips
Whether they love to ride their bike or they religiously head off to spin class, handle bar grips are just the thing to keep sweaty hands in place. Plus, they protect your love’s hands from touching the sweat of all the other exercisers before her.
Now that you’ve got a head start on your holiday shopping, you can rest easy knowing you’ve found the most affordable fitness gifts around!
Surprising Benefits of Stretching
Feeling sore after a tough workout? Struggling with back or neck pain? Perhaps you want to boost your flexibility and range of motion? Stretching is the answer.
This gentle form of exercise improves muscle control, mobility, and blood flow. It also keeps your joints flexible and reduces injury risk. In the long run, it can make you a better athlete and enhance your overall fitness.
But what is stretching in the first place? And when it's the best time to do it? Should you stretch before or after exercise? Let's find out!
The Basics of Stretching
Studies have found that it helps those struggling with depression, diabetes, and breast cancer. This form of exercises boosts endorphin production in the brain, improving your mood and mental well-being. Endorphins are also referred to as the happiness hormones or "feel-good" chemicals. Stretching your body for just a few minutes can make you happier and more confident.
Beware that stretching isn't the same as warming up. To stay injury-free, you should warm up first, then stretch. For instance, you could walk on the treadmill or jog at a slow pace for five to 10 minutes before doing your stretching routine. This will warm up your muscles and get your heart pumping.
Types of Stretching
Most fitness pros recommend stretching after exercise when your muscles are warm and have a greater range of motion. However, there are dozens of ways to stretch, and each has its perks. Some are ideal before exercise, while others work best post-workout.
Let's take dynamic stretching. This form of exercise is perfect for warming up and works best before training. Due to its intense nature, it improves blood flow and boosts your range of motion. It involves controlled swinging of the arms and legs, such as arm swings, sideways leg swings, leg crossovers, and twisting reverse lunges.
Research shows that dynamic stretching leads to greater power and agility compared to static stretching. Furthermore, it improves reaction time and has a positive impact on vertical performance. To reap its benefits, stretch for five to 10 minutes before working out.
Static stretching is ideal after training. It involves holding a stretch in a challenging but comfortable position for 10 to 30 seconds or more. With regular practice, it boosts muscle and joint flexibility as well as functional fitness.
For instance, you could stretch your chest, back, shoulders, hamstrings, and other muscle groups. Think of it as a safe, effective way to cool down.
Beware that static and passive stretching are not one and the same. Passive stretching is done in a relaxed state where you assume a position and hold it with the help of a partner or object. Its role is to relieve muscle spasms, soreness, and fatigue after exercise.
Other stretching techniques are simply variations of active, passive, dynamic, and static stretching. Choosing one over another comes down to your needs and goals.
No matter how you stretch, you shouldn't feel pain. If you do, it means you're going too far.
Do You Need to Stretch at All?
Like any other exercise, stretching isn't mandatory, but it can make all the difference. Health professionals recommend stretching each of the major muscle groups at least twice a week. This will keep your joints flexible as you age. Plus, it can dramatically lower your risk of injury.
The benefits of stretching go beyond greater flexibility. This practice can improve your posture, prevent and relieve back pain, and speed up recovery from exercise. For example, physiotherapists often recommend back stretches to those suffering from sciatica or herniated discs. Stretching restores their range of motion and promotes healing.
Since stretching improves circulation, it leads to greater energy and stamina. Over time, it may improve muscular coordination and range of movement in the joints. Additionally, it's a good way to relieve muscle tension and reduce recovery time.
How to Stretch Properly
As a rule of thumb, focus on the muscles that are being worked. For instance, if you're going to train your legs, stretch your quads, hamstrings, and calves. Whole body stretches are beneficial as well, especially post-workout. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds; just make sure you maintain good form. Remember to breathe and relax.
Let’s say you want to stretch your back. Try the knees to chest stretch. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Place your hands on your hamstrings and pull both legs toward your chest until you feel a gentle stretch. Use a slow, controlled motion. Hold the position for about 30 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Stretching requires no equipment and suits all fitness levels (except for ballistic and isometric stretching). For a more challenging workout, you can use an exercise ball or resistance bands. These accessories are ideal for dynamic stretching. Over time, you'll move around more easily and with less pain, have greater energy, and get better results from your workout.
In our age of apps for everything and smartphones that don’t sleep, it can be challenging for many of us to find a break from our data-driven world. The fast-paced nature of our times can leave us undeniably drained. We may be tempted to overdose on coffee or reach for an afternoon sugar-fix to make it through the day.
However, these 5 natural energy boosts can keep up feeling fresh without experiencing the after-effects of a sugar high or caffeine jitters.
Consumption of regular, moderately-portioned, nutritious meals can allow us to feel nourished throughout the day. For stable energy levels, it is best to consume low glycemic index foods, like steel-cut oatmeal, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, and beans. These foods allow energy to be released slowly and stably. By contrast, consumption of large, irregular, high glycemic index foods (think white bread, russet potatoes, short-grain rice, and most sugary desserts) produces sharp spikes in energy after eating, followed by massive crashes. This glycemic spike is why we may want to curl up in a food coma following Thanksgiving feasts or take an afternoon nap after a lunch of donuts and cake.
Water makes up to 60% of our bodies and 75% of our brains. Thus, dehydration can make us feel irritable, headache-y, and heavy. A simple solution to this is to equip ourselves with a reusable water bottle, filled with plain water or fruit-infused water. Unsweetened green tea is another way to stay hydrated that provides just enough caffeine to keep us alert without making us overly-stimulated.
Sleep quality is undoubtedly one of the most important influences on our daily energy levels. For most adults, this means sleeping 7-9 hours per night, but some can feel rested on less, while others need more. Perhaps more important than the number of hours slept is the quality of our sleep. Sleeping deeply rather than tossing and turning throughout the night is essential to make us feel rested throughout the day. There are a few simple shifts we can make to improve our “sleep hygiene”, ensuring that we fall asleep and stay asleep longer. For example, unplugging from our computers or smart phones a few hours before bed will prevent over-stimulation from the light of our screens and the stress of our day jobs. Additionally, it may help to establish a “bedtime routine” that includes a regular, soothing activity to ease the transition from daytime to sleep. This routine may include, practicing meditation or visualization, drinking herbal tea, reading a book, practicing self-massage, or journaling.
You don't need to be a health expert to know that exercise is essential for the maintaining of a healthy lifestyle. But what is one to do if too busy to get to the gym or unable to engage in rigorous exercise?
You've gotta walk it out! Don't think walking is as effective as running, jogging or high intensity interval training?
Here are just some of the well known health benefits associated with walking.
Free yourself from expensive gym memberships and workout on your own time. Walking is a
low impact activity that anyone of any age can participate in. It's something the whole family can do, so get everyone together and put on your walking shoes. A walk today is what makes for a healthier tomorrow.
Summer is right around the corner and you want to look amazing on the beach! Luckily, it's not too late to get your body ready for shorts and tank tops. With a little planning and willpower, you can lose those pesky pounds and rev up your metabolism.
Crash diets and endless workouts are not an option. These mess with your hormones and drain your energy. Plus, they're not sustainable long term. Weight loss comes down to the small choices you make every day. There are no quick fixes or magic pills.
Ready to get in beach shape? Follow these six easy steps to build the body you want!
Ditch the Junk
Not all calories are created equal. If you eat sugar and junk food despite staying in a calorie deficit, don’t expect to get leaner. 600 calories worth of salmon and veggies are not the same as 600 calories worth of French fries or candy.
One gram of carbohydrates or protein contains 4 calories. One gram of fat contains nine calories. These nutrients go through different metabolic pathways and are processed differently by your body. To lose weight, increase your protein intake and cut back on carbs.
Ditch the sugar, processed meats, white flour, bread, cereals, cookies, and other foods that have little or no nutritional value. They provide nothing but empty calories and additives. Your calories should come from whole, natural foods.
Eat Protein at Every Meal
Whenever you eat high-protein foods, your body works hard to break them down and metabolize the protein. This leads to a stronger and faster metabolism and a prolonged feeling of fullness. Protein also helps build and preserve muscle even when you're in a calorie deficit. The more lean mass you have, the higher your energy expenditure.
For optimum results, eat protein at every meal. Start your day with Greek yogurt, protein shakes, cottage cheese, eggs, and other protein-rich foods. This helps reduce your food intake over the day and kick-starts your metabolism.
Upgrade Your Morning Coffee
If you want to burn even more calories, just mix one or two tablespoons of coconut oil into your morning coffee. Despite its high fat content, this superfood lowers cholesterol levels and promotes weight loss.
These benefits are due to its high levels of MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides), which help reduce body fat and raise your metabolism. MCTs also curb hunger, balance your fat-burning hormones, and boost your energy. These fats go straight to your liver where they can be used for fuel.
How you prepare your food can make or break your progress. Fried foods, for instance, are higher in calories and trans fats. This cooking method increases their glycemic value and releases toxins that may cause cancer and cardiovascular problems.
One serving of deep-fried cod delivers about 17 grams of fat and 232 calories. The same amount of baked fish has only one gram of fat and 105 calories. Additionally, the fats in fried food raise your cholesterol levels, clog your arteries, and contribute to chronic diseases.
Steam, grill, bake, or roast your food. Avoid frying at all costs.
Go Heavy in the Gym
Like it or not, heavy lifting is a must. Whether you're looking to torch fat, build mass, or gain muscle definition, it’s always important to add more plates on the bar, otherwise, you'll hit a plateau.
Your body has a fantastic ability to adapt to exercise. Therefore, it needs to be constantly stimulated. This can be done by trying new exercises, lifting heavier weights, and changing workout variables like intensity and duration. If you do the same workouts over and over, your progress will stall.
Heavy lifting promotes muscle growth, which in turn, revs up your metabolism. It also burns fat and brings your hormones into balance while increasing muscle tone. Diet alone won't help you get a strong, lean body. Sure, you'll lose fat, but your muscles will look flat and saggy.
Increase the load by five to 10 pounds every two weeks or so. Experiment with new lifting techniques like drop sets, pyramid sets, supersets, partials, and full body circuits. The whole point is to keep your routine varied and challenge your muscles into growth.
Replace Cardio with HIIT
Minute per minute, high intensity interval training is more effective for fat loss than cardio. Plus, it doesn't cause fatigue or break down muscle tissues like aerobic training.
HIIT involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by periods of rest. A typical session lasts only 10 to 15 minutes.
Cardio, on the other hand, raises cortisol and puts stress on your joints. Elevated cortisol levels lead to fat storage, muscle loss, lethargy, poor mental focus, and impaired immune function.
If you can't give up aerobic training, keep your sessions short. Finish your workout with 10-15 minutes of HIIT and another 10 minutes of steady state cardio. This approach results in faster weight loss and improved overall fitness.
These simple steps will get your body ready for swimsuit season in no time. Plus, they don’t require major lifestyle changes or fancy supplements.
Commit to regular exercise, clean up your diet, and limit stress. Hit the gym at least four times a week and train at high intensity. Load up on protein and healthy fats, cut back on carbs, and cook your own meals rather than eating out.
When it comes to your health and fitness, you must stay hydrated. Proper hydration during exercise is essential to prevent dehydration as well as keep your performance up. Whether you sweat it out at the gym or while running through the park, taking along a refreshing beverage is important to help keep you going. But which beverage is the best one to drink while you’re breaking a sweat?
Here’s the rundown on the four best beverages to drink for your fitness and health.
Sports drinks like Gatorade are another popular choice among athletes and fitness buffs. The most popular brands include anywhere from 13 to 19 grams of carbohydrates and somewhere around 120 milligrams of sodium. These drinks are formulated with the intention to replace your electrolytes during vigorous and lengthy stretches of exercise which is why experts recommend them for intense training session. For people that find water too plain, it provides a more flavorful choice. The cons of sports drinks though are that they are filled with artificial colors and flavors. They also have added sugars that you don’t need, which defeats the purpose of healthy and active living. If you must drink sports drinks, look for low-calorie options to help you power through without the additives.
Another option is to try an electrolyte drink, like the kind they make for children. One example is Pedialyte, which is flavorful and contains plenty of electrolyte and carbohydrates. It also has less sugar than standard sports drinks. However, it has the same cons as sports drinks in that it does contain sugar, so if you’re going to drink it, read the labels.
So, who which one wins? The choice is yours, though if you truly want to reap all the hydration benefits your body needs, a great option is to add sodium to your water to get back those electrolytes. You can cut out sugar from the equation by doing so, something that is very important for many that are trying to eat clean. If the flavor isn’t thrilling, add a fresh squeeze of lemon and for a healthy version of lemonade that really keeps you hydrated and going!
Tired of your old exercise routine? Want to get better results in less time? Or perhaps your training program could use some variety? If so, CrossFit is the way to go! Touted as one of the best workouts out there, it shapes your body from head to toe. You’ll not only get leaner but also gain strength, power, and stamina.
CrossFit has emerged as the go-to choice for millions of people worldwide. It appeals to all ages and can be customized according to your needs. With over four million practitioners, it has shown explosive growth on all fronts since its inception. Currently, there are about 13,000 CrossFit studios in 120 countries.
These numbers should be reason enough to give it a try. Getting started is the hardest part. Just like any other workout, CrossFit has its challenges. Let's see how it works and what to expect:
CrossFit at a Glance
CrossFit was introduced to the public in 2000. Since then, it has been marketed as a competitive sport and exercise philosophy. The workouts change daily, and consist of functional movements that build strength, power, and speed. Most exercises incorporate elements from strongman, plyometrics, gymnastics, powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
Due to its diverse nature, this training method keeps you engaged and wards off boredom. Each day, you can try new exercise routines known as WODs (workout of the day).
The movements are performed at high intensity, which helps increase work capacity and improves overall conditioning. Most gym goers gain strength and explosive power while losing stubborn fat.
CrossFit guarantees a strong, lean body and better health. The exercises are designed to build muscle, burn fat, and boost your metabolism. This training method is the opposite of steady state cardio and endless gym sessions that leave you bored and tired. The heart-pounding workouts ignite your fat-burning engine will building mental and physical strength.
Some exercises require dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, or truck tires. Some are done with your own bodyweight. Others involve distance running, sprinting, or gymnastics. This ensures that a total fitness level is achieved.
Unlike other training methods, CrossFit targets all aspects of fitness, including:
According to its advocates, this approach promotes hormonal and neurological adaptations across all metabolic pathways in the body. Since it consists of functional movements, it can make daily activities easier.
Another factor that differentiates CrossFit from other training method is the camaraderie. Once you begin to practice this sport, you become part of a community. You're no longer on your own in the gym.
Everyone has the goals as you do: to get in the best possible shape. They support and encourage each other, helping you push your boundaries with every workout. The friendly competition, the camaraderie, and the encouragement will keep you on track and boost your motivation.
Is CrossFit Right for You?
However, age isn’t the only factor to consider. Your fitness level matters the most. This training method works best for athletes, experienced lifters, and gym goers who are in a good shape. If you have never entered a gym or lifted weights, take the time to improve your fitness before getting into CrossFit.
This workout method isn't recommended to those who are obese or suffering from certain autoimmune disorders, bone diseases, or cardiovascular problems. Also, if you prefer working out alone, you may not enjoy the social factor. Give it a try anyway - you might get hooked from the first session!
How Safe Is CrossFit, Really?
These rigorous workouts carry a higher risk of injury compared to other training methods. In an interview, the company's founder has actually said that this sport could kill you. Due to its intense nature and the heavy weights, it's not exactly safe.
However, you can stay injury-free by using good lifting form. Start with baby steps and focus on building up your strength. This is particularly important for beginners. Most times, the benefits outweigh the risks. As long as you watch your form and listen to your body, injuries shouldn't be a reason for concern.
What Are the Benefits?
Additionally, it helps build lean muscle, strengthens your bones, and improves your posture. You'll also enjoy greater balance and flexibility, enhanced mental focus, and better overall health.
CrossFit is also a great way to drop those pesky pounds and stay fit year round. Due to its high intensity, it revs up your metabolism and burns fat.
According to a recent study, subjects following a CrossFit program experienced a greater reduction in body fat levels compared to those doing traditional workouts. Moreover, their VO2max, body composition, and physical endurance were significantly improved.
With CrossFit, you'll get better results in less time. On top of that, you'll no longer get bored as it happens when you lift weights or do steady state cardio.
Evidence shows that CrossFit workouts lead to greater enjoyment and adherence to exercise compared to other training methods. Plus, you'll benefit from a solid support system and become part of a community focused on health and well-being.
Tired of your old exercise routine? Want to get leaner and more flexible? Or perhaps you're feeling overwhelmed by stress? Yoga and Pilates might be the answer. They work both your mind and body, leading to better health. Think of them as a natural way to bust stress, keep your joints flexible, and improve overall fitness.
Despite their similarities, Pilates and yoga are not one and the same. Let's see how they differ and why they’re so great for your health:
Yoga vs. Pilates: What's the Difference?
In 2016, more than 36.7 million Americans were practicing yoga. Some do it for stress relief. Some want to improve their health and well-being. Others see it as a way to keep fit. This discipline has been around for over 5,000 years. Yet, it's just as popular today as it was centuries ago.
Yoga emphasizes the mind-body connection. It has evolved over the years into different styles, such as Bikram, Hatha, and Ashtanga. Each type of yoga has unique characteristics. Their end goal is to increase body awareness while improving emotional and spiritual health.
According to science, yoga may relieve back pain, lower blood pressure, and improve cardiovascular health. Moreover, it relieves depression and anxiety. Practitioners also report increased mental clarity and work performance.
Unlike yoga, Pilates is a relatively new discipline. It was developed in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates. Initially, it was used for physical rehab. Today, people practice it to stay strong and flexible, lose weight, and improve their fitness level.
Pilates exercises emphasize core strength. They also stretch and strengthen your muscles while enhancing your balance.
Compared to yoga, this discipline focuses more on building flexibility and strength, and less on the mental aspect. When practiced regularly, it helps develop a strong core, improves your posture, and gives your body more flexibility. Just like any exercise, it wards off stress and calms your mind.
Another difference between the two is how the exercises are performed. Yoga is largely based on standing poses, while Pilates involves mat work. Additionally, Pilates classes are more structured. Each workout consists of specific exercises, with a specific number of reps and sets. Yoga gives you more freedom and can be practiced anywhere.
What Are the Benefits
Who says you have to choose between yoga and Pilates? Both disciplines benefit your mind and body. The key is to be consistent and stick to your routine. Regardless of what you choose, you'll gain strength and endurance, improve your range of motion, and enjoy better health.
These disciplines complement each other. The flexibility you will gain from Yoga will enable you to move better in Pilates. Strengthening your core muscles during Pilates classes will boost your flexibility and balance in yoga. On top of that, both practices promote spiritual well-being and distract you from daily worries.
What if you want to lose weight? At first sight, Pilates might seem a better choice. After all, it provides a full body workout and helps build lean muscle, which in turn, boosts your metabolism. Depending on your weight and fitness level, you'll burn up to 336 calories per hour during a typical Pilates class.
However, yoga is just as beneficial. As we have mentioned earlier, this discipline has many different forms. Some are more intense than others.
Bikram or hot yoga, for instance, will leave you drenched in sweat and get your heart rate through the roof. It involves 26 poses that must be performed in a room heated at 105 degrees. A typical session lasts for 90 minutes and torches up to 716 calories.
Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga are ideal for weight loss too. Due to their intense nature, they raise your heart rate, increase muscle strength, and boost physical endurance. The best part is that you can work out anytime, anywhere. Unlike Pilates, yoga doesn’t require special equipment. You can exercise at home, on the beach, or in hotel rooms.
Furthermore, research shows that yoga improves self-esteem and body image, increases mindfulness, and soothes mental tension. It also boosts functional fitness, making daily activities easier.
In a study conducted on sedentary individuals, those who practiced yoga twice a week for eight weeks experience major improvements in muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance. Other studies have found that yoga may lower the risk of heart disease and regulate blood sugar levels.
As you see, both disciplines promote health and well-being. Getting started is the hardest part, especially for newbies. Depending on your budget and preferences, you have several options:
Ideally, start to exercise at home. This way, you can figure out which discipline best suits your needs.
Pilates, for instance, has exercises for beginners, intermediate, and advanced practitioners. There are hundreds of videos online, which you can use to learn good form. Eventually, you can take a class or two at a Pilates studio to develop your skills even further.
Begin with simple exercises to build up your strength and endurance. As you progress, try more advanced workouts. The same goes for yoga. Most asanas (yoga poses) can be easily customized to your fitness level. Some are perfect for beginners, while other involves greater balance and strength. To start, experiment with basic poses, such as:
Don’t worry that you're not flexible or strong enough to practice yoga. You do yoga and then you become strong and flexible. Everyone has to start somewhere. The more you practice, the better you'll be. Just make sure you don’t go overboard. 15-30 minutes of yoga or Pilates are more than enough for beginners.
So, are you ready to give it a try? Combine yoga with Pilates to build a strong mind and body! The benefits are immediate.
New Year - New You - New Goals
The New Years is around the corner. Luckily, it's not too late to set new health and fitness goals that you'll actually achieve. Whether you want to drop a few pounds, get fitter, or start a training plan, you still have plenty of time to make it happen. Discipline is the key.
This may come as a surprise, but about 80 percent of New Year's resolutions fail by February. Even though millions of people set goals for the upcoming year, only a few actually achieve them. Most times, their goals are too big, too broad, or they just have too many.
So how can you make sure you'll actually lose weight or stick to your workouts in the New Year? What's the key to success? Here are some tips to set SMART goals and get in your best shape ever:
Instead of telling yourself "I want to lose weight in the following year," say "I will lose X pounds by March 1." Decide exactly how many pounds you want to drop and then set a deadline.
Apply the same strategy to other goals, such as running a marathon or competing in a fitness contest. Be honest with yourself and don’t try to shoot for the moon too quickly. Unrealistic goals are a recipe for failure.
Make a Plan
This allows you to train anytime, anywhere. Do it at home, at the office, or in your hotel room. Go to the gym as soon as you free up your schedule.
Bodyweight exercises, for instance, are very intense, causing your muscles to work hard. They also raise your metabolism and heart rate, which aids in fat loss. The best part is that you can work out while watching TV or whenever you have some free time. With bodyweight training, you'll get leaner, stronger, and fitter.
Prep Your Meals Ahead
Just like exercise, good nutrition requires proper planning. Start before the holiday season kicks in. The average American gains about five pounds during this time of the year. Some sources say that it's actually 10 pounds. The weight you put on can take more than five months to go away. Thus, it's important to have a plan for fighting temptations.
The first step is to clean up your diet. Steer clear of sugar, refined oils, deli meats, white flour, and frozen meals. Whole and minimally processed foods should come first on your list.
Fill your fridge and cupboard with nuts, seeds, fish, lean meat, fresh fruit, and vegetables. Swap white flour for almond, coconut, or rye flour. Flax meal is a good choice too as it is low in carbs and loaded with healthy fats.
When reading food labels, look beyond calories. Check out the first ingredients listed on the label. If you see the words high-fructose corn syrup, table sugar, glucose, dextrose, or palm oil, move on.
Look at the amount of protein, carbs, and fats in each food. If your goal is weight loss, choose low-carb, high-protein foods. Get your daily fats from salmon, tuna, sardines, walnuts, flaxseeds, avocado, and olive oil.
Apply these strategies during the holiday season as well as in your everyday life. Plan your meals ahead of time and keep healthy snacks at hand. When dining out, order light dressings or ask for sauces on the side. Stick to basic combos, such as beef and veggies or fish with sweet potatoes and salad. Sure, you can indulge in your favorite treats as long as you don’t go overboard.
Your daily water intake can make or break your progress. The human body is more than 70 percent water. Every cell and organ needs this fluid to function at its peak. Water keeps your metabolism up, regulates your body's core temperature, and aids in nutrient absorption. Moreover, it supports physical performance and brain health.
Even the slightest dehydration can affect your gains in the gym. In the worst case scenario, you may experience electrolyte imbalances, arrhythmia, migraines, lightheadedness, or fainting.
A proper water intake can rev up your metabolism, so you'll burn more calories at rest. On top of that, you'll perform better in the gym and lose weight more easily. Water helps flush out toxins and metabolic waste, which reduces your risk of chronic diseases.
Beware that caffeine and alcohol may cause dehydration because of their diuretic properties. If you can't give up alcohol during the holiday season, drink one glass of water for every glass of booze. Start the day with lemon water or green tea. Rich in vitamin C, lemon water scavenges oxidative stress and slows down aging. Pectin, a fiber in lemons, improves digestion and suppresses hunger. Polyphenols support liver and kidney function, aid in enzyme production, and dissolve calcium stones.
What if you don't like plain water? In this case, drink a big glass of water infused with fresh fruits or add a few drop of apple cider vinegar. It will quench your thirst instantly! Or you can prepare large batches of unsweetened herbal tea, add stevia if desired, and refrigerate it for a few hours. This healthful concoction has zero calories and packs a bunch of antioxidants.
As you see, nutrition and exercise are equally important. Consider both aspects when setting your goals. Commit to making lasting changes and remember why you’ve started in the first place.
Imagine how great you’ll look and feel once you lose those pesky pounds and embrace a healthy diet. Your energy will go up, your sleep will improve, and your skin will look younger. Make these changes today! Don’t wait until it’s too late!
Blogging about health, diet, fitness, and just good information to live a healthy & happy lifestyle.