Make Exercise and Good Nutrition a Family Affair

Family exercising together.

Have you ever noticed that it’s much easier to stick to a exercise or diet plan if you have someone in the trenches with you? Have you ever been the person eating carrot sticks and celery while watching someone else eat fat-drenched carbs with sugar on top? Why not make exercise and good nutrition a family affair?

Get Rid of the Junk Food

Starting with food, which is often the most difficult part of the willpower bandwagon, if the whole family is working on eating healthy foods, you can just keep those sinful temptations out of the house. Consider avoiding the junk food aisle all together and purchasing healthy alternatives for snacks.

Whole grain crackers, pretzels, yogurt, string cheese, nuts, apples, carrots, celery, kale, berries, bananas and other fruits are healthy alternatives that often cost less in the long run and are chock-full of vitamins, dietary fiber and low in calories and fat. Experts recommend placing the healthy alternatives at eye-level in the cupboards or refrigerator so that the healthy items are the first thing a person sees when they look for a snack.

Look for Healthy Alternatives to Family Favorites

If your whole family is working on good nutrition, you can look for healthy alternatives to your favorite dishes. Enjoy baking? Often substituting pumpkin or applesauce for the butter or oil can work well in muffin, cake or brownie recipes. It replaces the fat, adds flavor and vitamins and is an easy swap.

Use cooking spray instead of high calorie oils in your cooking, and add more green leafy items, more vegetables and fruits to your meals, which can make a big difference as well. Does your family enjoy spaghetti dinners? Consider swapping the heavy pasta for lighter alternatives – spaghetti squash is a vitamin-rich alternative. Eight minutes in the microwave, top with your favorite marinara sauce and you’d hardly know the difference. Yet the difference between them is huge — 31 calories in spaghetti squash versus 158 in spaghetti per serving.

Family Fitness

Why head out to the gym on your own if you can bring the whole family? Often a gym will offer a substantial discount for a whole family membership, and many gyms even provide childcare and play rooms for smaller children. Older children will enjoy shooting baskets, running around the track, and your pre-teens and teens will enjoy learning to use the weight machines and free weights.

Exercise doesn’t have to stop at the gym. Gearing up for a 5K? Why not register the spouse and kids as well? They’re likely to be there to cheer you on anyway, but if you’re all in it together you can prep for it together and eat healthy in preparation together.

Maybe you’re not a runner. Family walks after dinner are a nice way to wind down and hear about each others day. Weekend hikes, skiing, biking or paddling trips are excellent ways to commune with nature and create memories your kids will have with them forever.

What is the best thing about involving the whole family in healthy eating and exercise? Making healthy choices now will make all of you healthier in the long run and will help to establish wonderful fitness and eating habits in your children that they will continue throughout their lives. Studies show that children who are active do better in school, have more confidence and even do better on some tests. With the multitude of benefits for everyone, why not get everyone involved?

Beachbody

5 Simple Strategies for Sticking to Your Fitness Goals

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No matter what your fitness goals are, strength training is an important component to any exercise program.

Sticking to your fitness goals can be challenging, but it is also very rewarding. Learning to be healthy takes time and dedication to your fitness goals. Sticking with those goals also takes time and patience to perfect.

Don’t be discouraged if you stumble every now and then, the most important part is that you get back up and try again.

Here are some tips to help you stick with your fitness goals.

Commitment

Make fitness more than a goal, make it a lifestyle. The more committed you are to your fitness goals, the more likely you will be to stick with them.

  • Tell others about your decision to be healthy. When we make public our intent to be fit and healthy we also make that commitment more real in our minds. Every so often it is good to reaffirm your commitment to being healthy and fit.
  • Teach others what you have learned about fitness. By teaching others you will gain a unique perspective on how fitness works.
  • Write it down. Write down your commitment to yourself and the specific goals that you want to reach.

Switch It Up

Your exercise routine should not become boring. Once your workout becomes boring, it won’t be long before you stop doing it. Try new things, and keep it fresh and exciting.

  • Take A Class: Instead of doing your same old workout, try taking a class. There are so many different classes and teachers, each with their own unique approach to helping you meet your fitness goals. Classes can be really fun, especially when there is an energetic and highly motivating teacher.Also, classes are great places to meet other fitness conscious people, and when you have people with a fitness mindset in your life, you are more likely to stick with your fitness goals.Class choices are plentiful and include: aerobics, cycling, Kettlebell, CrossFit, ViPR, Bosu, ballet barre, boot camp, Pilates, Tai Chi, QiGong, Zumba, Doonya, and kickboxing, just to name a few.
  • Hire A Personal Trainer: They are experts at motivating people to workout. They will also give you fresh ideas for your workout and can guide you to take your fitness to the next level and that can be motivating in and of itself.The other critical benefit of getting a trainer is that it gives you someone to answer to, it’s much harder to skip a workout when you have an appointment with a trainer.

Start Small And Set Specific Goals

When choosing your fitness goals, you should pick a goal that is easy to stick with. Start with small goals and work your way up to the bigger and longer goals. Don’t set a goal that will be too hard to manage. Anything we make hard we will stop doing, make your goals fun and easy.

Goals should be categorized as short and long term, and specific action steps should be included as to how you will reach each of the goals.

Take each goal one step at a time. Break each goal up into steps that are easy to implement. Even a hard goal can be made easier if you break it up.

Starting with smaller goals will help you to build momentum. Each goal that you complete will empower you to start working on the more challenging ones.

Motivation

Motivation is the key element to sticking with your fitness goals, and it is the driving force that pushes you to succeed and to keep with it. Here are some tips to help you stay  motivated.

  • Remember why you made a fitness goal in the first place! Keep connected with the reasons you started in the first place. When you stumble, use those reasons to motivate yourself.
  • Reward yourself!! When you do good and push through a hard workout remember to reward yourself in a healthy way. If you workout all the time without noticing and acknowledging the payoffs and rewards, it will be much harder to stick with your goals. A reward will help you to remember how gratifying all the hard work can be.

Momentum

Motivation is the driving force, but momentum is what makes the whole process easier. When we have momentum on our side, nothing can stop us. It’s only when we lose that momentum that it becomes hard to stick to our goals.

  • Don’t take long breaks or to many breaks between your workouts, this will cause you to lose focus and momentum. When you feel that momentum, keep it going.
  • Don’t think about it, just do it. Many people tend to over think and wonder if they should workout or complete a step on their goals action list and this causes them to talk themselves out of doing those things.

Motivation and momentum are critical to sticking with your fitness goals. Use your commitment to strengthen your resolve and take each goal one step at a time. Make your workouts fun, exciting and different. Most of all, don’t forget to reward yourself!

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The Importance of Physical Fitness as a Pre-Teen

Photo credit: Man vyi (own photo) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Does your pre-teen seem more interested these days in watching movies or playing video games than engaging in fun fitness activities? If so, you’re not alone. The struggle is real for many families. In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov), roughly 62% of children between the ages of 9 and 13 do not engage in organized sports outside of school and 23% do not engage in any physical activity during their free time. The importance of physical fitness as a pre-teen cannot be understated. The key is to form healthy habits early on and find more creative ways to motivate this age group to move more and actually enjoy it. Some of the health benefits of regular physical activity include stronger muscles and bones, weight control, better sleep, less stress, more energy, and the ability to think more clearly. All the more reason to get the whole family moving!

Exercise Is No Longer a Priority

Today’s middle-aged adults may find themselves fighting a stubborn middle-age spread. Former high school track stars have evolved into busy parents who juggle careers and families and it’s hard to keep up the fitness levels we once had. When we were young, however, many of us were more active. We rode bikes to our friends’ houses and spent hours running around and playing outside. If we wanted to watch a movie, we had to actually get up and go to a theater or make a trip to the video rental store. If we wanted to play video games, many of us went to an arcade – often traveling by bike to get there.

Compare that to today’s kids, who have everything they need for hours of entertainment conveniently located in their family computer or smartphone. Even buying things can be done with the click of a mouse. As a result, today’s kids are inherently more sedentary than past generations. The exercise we got naturally – through bike rides to our friends’ houses and playing outside – are not a necessary part of their daily life. Exercise has to be planned, squeezed in. It’s an additional activity, not a natural part of the process.

Instill Healthy Habits

Establishing fitness habits at an early age can lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy habits. A pre-teen is still malleable. The habits you instill now as a parent are habits that will continue with your child for a lifetime. Be a role model yourself by eating a balanced diet and exercising daily. Remember, your actions speak louder than words. Make time to be active as a family, too – go for a bike ride or a family hike. Buy gifts for your kids that will get them moving, such as a skateboard, a basketball, or a jump rope. Also, encourage your pre-teen to get involved in vigorous activities like running, swimming or playing sports like volleyball, tennis or soccer. Most importantly, limit the amount of time that your pre-teen spends playing computer games and watching TV to no more than an hour or two a day.

Psychological Benefits of Exercise

Pre-teens are in the awkward years. Exercise can help boost confidence, release endorphins, alleviate tension, and reduce that antsy pent-up energy kids get at this age. Physical activity also enhances thinking skills and brain function by increasing oxygen and blood flow to the brain. Furthermore, studies have shown that when pre-teens participate in organized sports and other fitness activities, they develop greater self-esteem and a more positive self-image than pre-teens who weren’t physically active.

Beachbody

5 Daily Habits of Super Fit People

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

Have you ever noticed that some people find it much easier to lead a healthy life and exercise regularly, while others can barely manage to get enough motivation to go for a run once a month. In some cases, certain people will work out every day for a couple of months, only to return to their old sedentary ways and unhealthy eating habits after a certain amount of time.

So, what’s the secret behind being able to exercise and maintain a healthy diet on a regular basis? Here are 5 daily habits of super fit people that will show you what type of mentality is needed for leading a healthy life.

Make It Fun

If exercising feels like something you have to do, then don’t expect to have a lot of motivation to work out in the long run. People who are successful in maintaining a fitness routine always find a way to feel enjoyment and fun when they’re working out and fueling up with nutrient rich foods. Try different activities, such as biking, hiking or a group fitness class, until you find something that peaks your interest.

Learning to cook healthy foods and having friends over to try your meals or exercising with someone close to you is also a great idea, as it will make you look forward to leading a healthy life. Ideally, you should be constantly experimenting and trying new things to stay fit.

Set Short and Long-term Goals

No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, setting goals will definitely keep you motivated and on track. However, when it comes to fitness, it’s best to have both short and long-term goals. Short-term goals will allow you to take baby steps towards attainable goals and help ward off frustration, as well as give you the extra time and energy to achieve those long-term goals, such as completing a fitness challenge or losing a significant amount of weight.

This means that you will feel good about yourself sooner, which will without a doubt help you stay motivated to reach your next goal. However, if you constantly need motivation to keep exercising and eating right, it might be a good idea to re-evaluate your goals.

Keep Expectations Realistic

You’ve started working out and eating healthy, and you’ve kept up this routine for about three weeks. Great. However, you’re not really seeing any significant changes in your appearance. Well, the thing is that you aren’t really supposed to see any major differences yet, and results are also dependent on your fitness goals. Some people exercise for weight loss while others want improved endurance, energy, or to build muscle. Generally, most beginners will start to see results after the first 6 to 8 weeks of exercise.

While finding the motivation to begin your fitness journey is an essential first step, it doesn’t mean that you will instantly reap the benefits. The key is to make exercise a regular, sustainable and integral part of your life.

To stay motivated, you need to keep your expectations realistic. Don’t expect to have a perfect beach body in less than 2 months.  It might even take you 2 years or longer, but the important thing is to stay consistent and focused with your workouts and good nutrition. Permanent healthy lifestyle changes take time, so don’t expect any quick fixes.  If you put in the effort, you will see results.

Eat In Moderation

Just because you’ve started eating healthy doesn’t mean that you need to eliminate treats completely. The all or nothing approach will not last very long, so allow yourself to splurge on rich food every now and then.

Focus on eating a variety of whole foods and cut down on processed foods which offer very little nutritional value. Build your meals around vegetables, lean protein sources, and fruits.  Choose whole grains instead of processed white starch, avoid added sugars, drink plenty of water and avoid trans fats. The key is portion control and moderation. If you starve yourself or constantly deprive yourself of foods you love, no diet will ever work.

Push Yourself

Fit people don’t just hit the gym regularly; they make sure that every workout they do is better than their last. They do this because that’s the only way that they will see real results. Whenever you push yourself past your comfort zone, you will instantly get that feeling of accomplishment as soon as you’re done with the workout, which will also motivate you to continue exercising.

Beachbody

 

Vegetable Soup As An Appetizer – An Easy Way to Eat Fewer Calories and Get Your Veggies In!

Vegetable Soup.

If you are like most people in the US, you aren’t getting enough fruits and vegetables in your diet. The recommended daily serving is at least five! With the hustle and bustle of busy lives and access to so much fast food and convenience foods, it’s no wonder people aren’t eating enough of them. But that’s no excuse. You should still make a conscious decision to do what you can to ensure that you’re eating more fruits and vegetables.

Another reason so many people don’t eat more vegetables is because they don’t like eating them plain. Whether it’s the texture or the taste, plain vegetables just aren’t an option for some so instead they skip them altogether. That’s the great thing about vegetable soup, though – it makes eating vegetables easier because they’re combined with a broth and plenty of seasonings.

Not only is starting your meal with vegetable soup a good way to eat more vegetables, it also prevents you from over indulging on higher calorie foods when the main meal is served because the liquid (broth) and fiber-rich vegetables make you feel full quicker. Research has even shown that those who start a meal by eating soup first, actually consume 20% less calories than those who don’t!

Below is a quick and easy, very basic vegetable soup that is packed full of flavor and only takes about 30 minutes to cook.

Easy Vegetable Soup Recipe

1 cup whole kernel corn
14 ounces veggie broth or chicken broth
14.5 ounces diced tomatoes
1 cup green beans
11.5 ounces tomato vegetable juice
1 cup water
1 diced potato
2 diced celery stalks
2 sliced carrots
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

In a large pot, add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

The great thing about vegetable soup is you can add as many or as few vegetables as you like. Of course if the idea is to eat more vegetables, then you’ll obviously want to go with adding more instead of less.

If you want an easy way to not only add more vegetables to your diet, but to also help prevent overindulging on higher calorie foods, try starting your meal off with a bowl of hearty vegetable soup. You might just find you come to enjoy the added dose of goodness!

Beachbody

Staying Healthy On the Go is Easier than You Might Think

Photo credit: Velislav Panchev CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0

In this day and age, hectic personal and professional schedules often make staying healthy seem like a distant possibility. Going to the gym or indulging in a long exercise routine at home can be difficult to fit into a day, along with preparing the food you need to eat well.

Staying healthy on the go is much easier than you might think! Healthy living can easily be incorporated into your busy schedule, thus enabling you to be healthy and productive at the same time. Take a look at the following health tips for busy people and customize a plan that works for you.

The Importance of Routine

Staying healthy on the go involves advanced planning and a fixed routine in context with eating, sleeping, and exercise. A strict no-excuses plan of action will enable you to turn fitness and health into a habit rather than something which you indulge in occasionally.

Understanding your own health and fitness goals will be the first step to being healthy; this will be followed with a weekly meal plan. Pre-planning and preparing your meals will enable you to eat healthier while on the go, and will prevent you from giving in to unhealthy food cravings. Carrying a bottle of water is also a good idea, as you will need to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Exercise is Vital

There are little things you can do throughout your day that will enable you to get the exercise you need without having to resort to an expensive gym membership. From choosing to walk or bike to work to climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator, there are a number of small changes you can make that will keep you fit and healthy even on the busiest days.

For those who travel frequently, you could consider packing a portable gym with you, such as a yoga mat, resistance bands, running shoes, or your favorite bodyweight workout DVD, all of which will facilitate an effective cardio and strength training routine on the go. Also, fitness trackers and pedometers like Fitbit are ideal for tracking your physical activity and providing a motivational tool for increasing the steps you take each day on the road or at home.

Staying healthy on the go involves just a few small lifestyle changes, which will enable you to eat healthy and stay physically active. These changes are important for your health and will also serve as a stress buster for the busiest people. Exercise gives you endorphins, which contribute towards making you feel happy and relaxed. You can also invest in a few portable exercise items such as a skipping rope or resistance bands, which are easy to carry around with you and will enable you to follow a no-excuses policy when it comes to staying healthy at all times.

Beachbody

Waiting for the Sandman: Tips on How to Fall Asleep Faster

Photo credit: Emoji One [CC BY-SA 4.0]

To ensure optimum cerebral and physiological performance, the average human should get at least eight hours of sleep a day. A neglect of sleeping pattern or insufficient hours of productive sleep can be detrimental to the body in more than one way. A loss of sleep or insomnia can lead to weight gain, problems of high blood pressure, and a lowered immune system. Sometimes the solution to insufficient sleep can he attained by simply understanding how to fall asleep faster.

There are several advantages of getting a good night’s sleep. A proper sleep cycle ensures maximum productivity of the brain and keeps our emotional health in good order. The brain is one of the most overworked organs of the body. Although it is not at complete rest while we sleep, it gets enough time to reboot itself and get ready for the next day. Sleep deficiency does not only hinder learning, it also has adverse effects on our decision making faculty. Lack of sleep can result in making a person emotionally imbalanced and can lead to concomitant behavioral changes. More often than not, people with anger issues and irritability suffer from sleep deprivation.

Advantages of Sleep

There are several benefits of sleep. For instance, sleep controls the body’s regular flow of ghrelin and leptin – hormones to make us feel hungry and full respectively. A study has shown that the flow of ghrelin rises exponentially to the total reduction of the flow of leptin in case of sleep deprivation. That is why people with sleeping problems tend to feel hungrier than people who get well-rounded sleep.

If you need to know how to fall asleep faster, there are several ways of ensuring a restful night sleep that you follow. Taking a bath before going to bed is a good idea, because it helps to relax our body and calms our mind. Some people find drinking milk before going to sleep very beneficial. Then there are others who always sleep with mild incense burning on their bedside table.

How to Fall Asleep Faster

In case you feel you lack proper sleep, you could try to improve the ambience of your bedroom to maximize comfort. Design your bedroom to give it a calming effect. Keep the temperature of your room between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and do remember to turn out the lights. If you are one of those people who cannot sleep in total darkness, keep a light on in the other room or maybe keep a window open to let a crack of light enter from the streets. You could wear a night mask to block out light and listen to soothing music before going off to sleep.  The benefits of sleep are endless. Still wondering how to fall asleep faster? Simply lay on your bed with your eyes closed, relax, and count those sheep!

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