10 Ways to Achieve Fitness Success

Exercise and Nutrition for the VegetarianHow many of you struggle to stay consistent with a workout program? Do you tend to throw in the towel within the first 3 months? Well, you’re not alone by any means. Unfortunately, what many people don’t realize is that had they stuck it out a little longer, they would have succeeded. Make exercise a lifelong habit, and choose activities that you enjoy doing. If exercise becomes a chore, then you will lose interest and give up.

Incorporating positive lifestyle changes will require time and patience. There is no quick fix. If you make exercise and eating right a habit, then usually by the 3rd or 4th month you will start to see some light at the end of the tunnel. So, don’t give up! Stick with it, and you will see results!

Here are 10 simple ways to achieve fitness success.

  • Get up and move! Make a decision to engage in a variety of physical activities on a consistent basis that will develop cardiovascular capacity, strength, balance, and flexibility.
  • Rev the engine. Participate in physical activities that involve the large muscle groups of the body, such as biking, swimming, running, skiing and jumping rope, just to name a few.
  • Get stronger. Resistance training is a must for toning, strengthening, and sculpting the body. This is especially important for those trying to lose weight. The more lean muscle you have, the higher your metabolism. You will burn more calories, even when you’re not working out! You should do strength training exercises at least 2 non-consecutive days a week, and a minimum of 20 minutes per session.
  • Get flexible. Always stretch before, during, and after exercise to help improve physical performance, increase joint range of motion, and prevent injury. Remember to move your muscles through their full range of motion on a regular basis.
  • Win the losing game. Strive to keep your weight at an appropriate level. If you need to lose weight, a general rule to follow is to eat less and exercise more (both in moderation).
  • You are what you eat. Make a goal to eat healthy at least 75 to 80 percent of the time. You can easily out-eat any exercise program, so choose quality over quantity. Stick to whole foods whenever possible, and greatly reduce your consumption of processed foods. Sugar is one of the biggest no-no’s, and it’s a major metabolic disruptor. So, begin by staying away from sugar and you’ll make a huge dent in your weight loss efforts and dramatically improve your overall health.
  • Go easy. Try to keep matters of your life in proper perspective. Know what factors you can and cannot control in your life. Don’t stress out over those things beyond your control. See change as an opportunity, not a threat.
  • Get your Zzzz’s on. Most people need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep to feel refreshed, alert and in relative good spirits the next day. Sleep helps to rest and restore your body both physically and mentally.
  • Focus on the task at hand. Make time to exercise on a regular basis. Consistency gets results. Focus on the muscles that you are training. Don’t just go through the motions. When you get discouraged, remember your “why” for choosing to live a healthier lifestyle. Are you doing it for your kids? To live a better quality of life? To live long enough to see your grandkids?
  • Persistence and hard work pays off. Commit to sound lifestyle choices and you will achieve your health goals. For example, I will quit smoking or stop eating fast foods. Maintain an appropriate level of body fat. Avoid the latest fitness and diet fads, magic potions and exercise gadgets that seem too good to be true (they always are).

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3 Unhealthy Habits that are Holding You Back

Photo credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simões CC-BY-2.0

Throughout life we will make choices that will form good or bad habits in our daily routine. Those bad habits are the ones that will potentially put us on a path to an unhealthy, stressful life. Once we recognize what these bad habits are, it’s easier to form a plan of action to eliminate them altogether. It will take some effort and discipline in order to maintain a new way of life, but it is doable. We tend to stand in our own way most of the time and that is what holds us back from change. What are these habits that hold us back from a successful, happy life?

Nobody is Perfect! – Feeling the need to be perfect all of the time will not only do harm to any progress you could make, but it also does something to your self-confidence. You will constantly feel like you come up short if you are always striving to be perfect. Let’s face it, no one is perfect and you don’t need to be. Success doesn’t depend on perfection, but rather depends on your ability to take action and follow through with the goals you set. You can’t be truly happy if you are always reaching for something that will never happen. Understanding this about yourself is the first step in overcoming it. Make a plan, take action, and put it out there. If it’s not perfect at first, don’t stress about it. There is always time to make changes and improvements.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others – This is one of the biggest mistakes we can make as humans. We are all different in a way that is unique to each and every one of us. We damage our own self-worth by comparing our life with someone else’s, because we always come up short feeling like we are not good enough. Every person, every situation, and every life is unique. There are circumstances in one person’s life that brought them to where they are today. You can’t compare your journey to theirs simply because of that. It’s important to value yourself and what you have to offer because it is enough.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy! – Some people spend so much time worrying about the outcome of a situation that no action is taken. This means nothing gets accomplished and any goals they’ve set will fall by the wayside. Worrying is a useless emotion, and it does nothing but torment us into conjuring up scenarios that will never come to be. No one knows what the future holds, so what is the point of worrying about it? Worrying that a business venture will fail or a product launch will fall flat are just one of those things that can happen on the road to success. Whatever will be, will be. There is no sense in ruining your day and stressing over issues that may or may not happen.

We have a way of backing ourselves into a corner with some of these unhealthy habits. They not only keep us from achieving the success we deserve, but also messes with our confidence and self-esteem. We can overcome these habits through discipline and consistency. Focus on the habits you have and take the steps to get past them. Read books, do research, and be persistent when it comes reaching your goals and creating a healthy, less stressful life.

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Hiking and Biking: Get Out and Get Some Fresh Air

Photo credit: Robin Reichert

In this fast paced life, we don’t often stop to smell the roses or pause to reflect on how beautiful this world really is.  There are many benefits to getting outside, breathing in some fresh air, and taking in the nature around us. This is especially true for busy families who barely have time to eat dinner together.

Two activities that can pull a family together and get them moving are hiking and biking. Not only will you get some great exercise, but also you will be able to connect with your family again and strengthen those relationships. Not only that, but both hiking and biking have some fantastic benefits.

Great cardio – We all know how important it is to incorporate exercise into a daily/weekly routine, but this is sometimes hard to stick to, especially for busy families.  However, both hiking and biking are wonderful ways to get that important workout without having to visit a gym every night. Both are wonderful for your cardiovascular system. Your blood gets pumping and all those unused muscles are put to work helping to build strength and muscle tone.

Low/No Cost – Hiking and biking have a huge advantage over many other workouts. They are both totally free to enjoy whenever you choose. Of course, you will need bicycles and possibly some good hiking boots, but other than that you are free and clear to enjoy these activities without worrying about them impacting your bank account.

Stress reduction – It has been proven that outdoor activities, fresh air, and sunshine can help reduce stress or worry in your life.  Getting outside with your family and connecting with them in a different way can do a world of good on any worrisome issues that are plaguing you. Without the weight of the world pushing down on your shoulders, it will be easier to enjoy your family time together, laughing and bonding in a way you wouldn’t otherwise.

Variety – Both of these activities provide variety in your workout. When you hit the gym, it can often become monotonous and boring to stare at a television screen while on the treadmill or stationary bike. When you get outdoors and take a bike ride or hike one of the trails, you get to take in different scenery every time you go. Keep each member of the family involved and give everyone a chance to pick where they want to go one of the times you are out and about.

There are benefits to just about any outdoor activity you choose. Hiking and biking are wonderful simply because they allow you and your family to get back to the basics and take in all the wonders nature has to offer. It’s a great way to connect with your family and take in some beautiful scenery at the same time. The fresh air, cool breeze, and quiet calm can make you see things from a different perspective and enjoy your family time and what really matters in life.

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Best Foods for Healthy, Lasting Weight Loss

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Trying to figure out which foods are best for losing weight can be a bit overwhelming. To keep it simple, try to select nutrient-dense foods whenever possible to help you feel more satiated, so you don’t get those unhealthy cravings throughout the day. Making healthy lifestyle changes takes time and patience, so don’t give up. Stay focused on your goals, and the reasons why you are making these changes in the first place. The best foods for weight loss listed below will give you a clearer picture as to the kinds of foods you should be eating on a regular basis to help you achieve lasting weight loss and better overall health.

Vegetables

Eating plenty of vegetables is absolutely essential for long-term weight loss. They are low in calories and fat, abundant in disease-fighting antioxidants, high in fiber, and contain many other essential vitamins and minerals that your body craves. Choose from a colorful array of veggies every day, such as spinach, cauliflower, kale, carrots and broccoli. Vegetables make a great snack, too. Before the hunger pangs strike, put together a variety of fresh cut veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, celery, red peppers and a homemade ranch dip. This way you’ll have a healthy and filling snack readily available. Another delicious, low-calorie veggie snack are baked kale chips. They are salty, crispy and make a great pre-dinner snack for the whole family. And baked zucchini chips are yummy too! Don’t be afraid to expand your horizons and try something new. You can find many vegetable recipes on the Internet, such as allrecipes.com, eatingwell.com, foodnetwork.com, myrecipes.com, and cookinglight.com.

Eggs

Eggs provide a rich source of protein, containing all of the essential amino acids, which offers satiety and keeps you feeling full. Another big plus is that eggs are low in calories. For instance, one hard-boiled egg contains only 78 calories and about 6g of protein, but keep in mind that frying or scrambling eggs increases the calorie content because of the extra butter or oil used for cooking. For additional appetite control, add your favorite high-fiber fruit or whole-wheat toast.

Fruit

Fruits are tasty and chock-full of antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, and they don’t require preparation. Include a colorful variety of fruits so you get the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals, but don’t overdo it. Even though fruit is very good for you, portion size and calories still count. The amount of fruit you need to eat depends on age, sex, and the amount of exercise you get on a daily basis. Fruits that are abundant in soluble fiber, such as berries, apricots and apples, make an ideal choice for appetite control. Soluble fiber helps to attract water and slow digestion, so not only does it make you feel full, but also has a cleansing effect on the body and keeps blood-sugar levels in check by delaying the absorption of sugar.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is an excellent weight loss food, because it’s low-fat, low-calorie and loaded with soluble fiber to help control your appetite by making you feel full longer. One serving of oatmeal contains only 150 calories, so as long as you don’t add things like cinnamon sugar or butter, it’s the perfect low-calorie breakfast. For a nutritional boost, add a chopped apple and pinch of ground cinnamon that tastes like apple crisp on a chilly morning, or add a handful of blueberries for extra fiber, antioxidants and brain power.

Nuts and Seeds

Even though nuts and seeds are energy dense and rich in fats, eating nuts is associated with lower body weight, improved insulin sensitivity and better health. Both of these foods are high in protein and fiber, making them a nutritious and filling snack option. For weight loss purposes, it’s best to choose raw, unsalted nuts. Almonds, cashews and pistachios are the lowest in calories, roughly 160 calories per ounce. Sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds contain about 150 to 180 calories per ounce. Some of the healthiest nuts and seeds include cashews, flaxseeds, walnuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds. All of these contain healthy fats, including anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and other important vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins. Just remember that nuts are high in calories and can easily wreck a weight loss plan if you don’t stick to the proper portion size, which is a small handful per day for most people.

Beachbody

Enjoy Exercising with 4 Simple Changes

Photo credit: RadioKAOS [CC-BY-SA 3.0]

If you are like the majority of people, the mere thought of exercising is enough to have your mind make up all kinds of reasons why you should not, could not, and perhaps will not exercise. However, once you begin to exercise on a regular basis, you will be amazed at how exercise can transform the way you look, feel and think. The key is to make exercise fun and something that you look forward to doing.

Here are a few ideas to help you create a fitness routine that is interesting and enjoyable, so you can make it a lasting part of your life.

 

Find a Workout Partner

Often times we may view exercise regimens as solitary confinement – like a sentence we have to endure all on our own. Guaranteed you have a pal or co-worker who feels exactly the same way. The old adage that misery loves company would apply in this situation. However, once you get together with a friend to exercise and actually go to the gym or take that power walk or a Zumba class, you will begin to see how much fun it really is and begin to enjoy exercising.

Change Your Perception of Exercise

Only you have the ability to change how you perceive something. Only when you have associated positive thoughts and feelings with exercise will you begin to override the negative connotations with exercising. You will find that excuses, such as being tired or not having enough time, will be outweighed by feelings of accomplishment, such as recognition that you burned 500 calories that night or even the simple fact that you feel energized and were glad you went.

Focus on the positive results and feelings you get the first time you go to exercise and bring that feeling back up to the forefront of your mind the next time you are heading out to exercise.

Spice It Up!

Be creative with your exercise routines and regimens. You do not have to think about gigantic machinery that you are unfamiliar with or a gym full of strangers. Find something you love to do and incorporate that into exercise. For some, that is walking briskly and for others it is dancing your heart out. Dance is not only a creative outlet, it is also one that will burn hundreds of calories. Even if you are not a professional dancer, taking a swing class or a jazz class is only the beginning to discovering one of the secrets to enjoying exercise.

Make It a Date

If you leave exercising to a chance date or time, you will more than likely set yourself up for failure. Make a specific date and time for exercise, whether you go out to the gym or do it at home. Write in on your calendar, put it on your to do list and commit to it. After you are done, you will be glad you did.

Beachbody

4 Healthy Habits to Help Manage Stress and Maintain Calm

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Stress, especially chronic stress, is an unhealthy disadvantage of living in this fast-paced, 24/7 world. We get so caught up in work, family, children’s activities, grocery store runs, and keeping the household running smoothly that we end up creating a daily routine of unhealthy habits. It doesn’t have to be this way, however. We have the ability to make better choices, beat the stress, and a live a life that allows us to breath and enjoy each minute. What are some healthy habits we can pick up that will help maintain a sense of calm and keep stress levels in check?

Get more sleep – This may seem like a no brainer, but it’s surprising how many people don’t allow themselves a good night’s sleep. If you deprive yourself of this time of rest, you will begin to let stress creep in and issues that come along will seem bigger than they really are. Remember to let yourself unwind a little bit before going to sleep. This will prevent you from lying in bed thinking about the events of the day, and, in turn, not being able to fall asleep easily.

Meditation – Begin the day with a meditation session. It doesn’t have to be extremely long, but even 10 minutes of quiet and calm will make a world of difference on how the day unfolds. Wake up a half hour earlier and make time to get in touch with your goals for the day and what you hope to accomplish. Find a quiet spot where you won’t be bothered, and take advantage of that time to focus on breathing and just being in the moment.

Write it down – Writing down your thoughts for the day can help to rid your mind and body of unwanted stressors that bog you down. Getting it all out of your head and down on paper has a calming effect that makes any situation seem better. You can do this in the morning or when you are winding down during the evening hours. Just pick a time that feels comfortable for you and make it a daily routine.

Read a good book – Read one of your favorite, uplifting books to help calm your mind from a long, demanding day and to prepare you for a restful nights sleep. If you’re not into reading that much, you can always choose the audio version of the book and listen while you relax. You can also get up early in the morning and choose this time to read, if that is what fits your schedule.

There are numerous ways to maintain a set of healthy habits in your daily routine. If you can find a way to carve out a little quiet, relaxing “you” time on a daily basis, not only will you make daily stresses more manageable, but also improve your productivity, concentration and overall health. You just need to plan ahead and take action to make your life as calm and stress free as you want it to be. Find out what activities fit your family life and schedule, and then set some goals for everyone involved. Your whole family can benefit from this, and you will see a noticeable difference in the stress level all around.

Beachbody

 

5 Healthy Snacks to Fire Up Your Creative Juices

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Choosing the right kinds of snacks to eat during the day can be tricky. We are bombarded with the unhealthy, caffeine induced, sugary items each and every day, which makes them hard to avoid. It’s important to choose the right kinds of foods and snacks in order to maintain our health. Certain foods can help boost our brain power and get those creative juices flowing, especially when you need to rely on creativity and sharp thinking skills to get the job done. Here are a few snack ideas that will give your brain the fuel necessary to fire up your creative process.

Oatmeal – This healthy snack is an ideal way to start the day. Oatmeal is a superfood that gives your brain power a boost and promotes cardiovascular health. The soluble fiber, protein and healthy carbohydrates contained in oatmeal will sustain you and help you avoid snacking in between meals. Oatmeal also helps to fight cholesterol, and it’s a quick and easy snack that is perfect for any time of the day.

Blueberries – This is a powerful snack that can help protect the brain against oxidative stress, which in turn will enhance your brain activity and get those innovative juices flowing. Blueberries are extremely rich in antioxidants, which help to support the immune system and overall health. You can consume them by the handful or mix them in with other fruits and make a smoothie. Either way, you are getting the benefits of one of the best brain foods out there. It’s also been said that blueberries are one of the best anti-stress foods that you can eat.

Walnuts – One of the best snacks containing Omega-3 fatty acids are walnuts. Omega 3’s are excellent for boosting brain power and also promote optimal cardiovascular health. You can eat walnuts by themselves, put them in a smoothie, or eat them on a salad. This is definitely one snack you can make a part of your daily routine.

Sunflower Seeds – This tiny snack is full of the nutrients necessary for high-level brain power. These seeds are packed with Vitamin E and have been known to lower cholesterol. As with walnuts, you can eat these on a salad or simply by the handful. The Vitamin E contained in sunflower seeds can also help reduce the anti-inflammatory symptoms that come along with asthma, joint pain, ulcers, etc.

Whole Grains – When you choose to make whole grains a part of your daily snacking routine, you’ve already put yourself on a path to a healthier lifestyle. Whole grains are packed with nutrients including fiber, protein, antioxidants, B vitamins, and trace minerals (e.g. zinc, copper, magnesium and iron). Brown cereals, rice, pasta, and bread are all on the list of smart whole grain brain boosters. These foods have been linked in preventing certain diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer, and allow us the steady supply of energy we need to get through the day.

With all the unhealthy choices we face each day, it’s hard to pick those snacks that will give us the steady energy we need to get through the day. Find a way to get in the routine of making better and healthier choices when it comes to the fuel we give our bodies. The right kinds of foods will jump-start our brain activity and give us the creative spark we need to accomplish our goals and be one step closer to the success we desire.

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