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Heart Health: Obesity and Your Risk Factor

It’s a well-known fact that being overweight increases your chance of being at risk of a number of chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.  But research shows that even a small amount of weight loss can lessen your risk of falling victim to these deadly diseases.

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Research also shows that, unfortunately, eating just 100 more calories a day than you should, can cause your body weight to be in the obese category and not just the overweight category.

To determine whether or not you are overweight or obese, use a BMI Calculator.  A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight; a BMI between 30 and 39.9 is considered obese.  If your BMI is greater than 25 and you are older than 30 years old, you should strongly consider losing weight to reduce your risk of heart disease and other life-threatening conditions.

 

Pilates Moves to Help You Get Bikini Ready

Fitness for All

pilates

Pilates is one of the best ways to tone the hips, thighs, waist and abs… all places that you want tone when you are donning your bikini on the beach this summer.

Here are the some Pilates moves that you should be doing for that beach bod…

“The Hundred” – Start lying on your back and lift your legs 45 degrees off the mat and lengthen out through your arms as you lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the floor. Pump your arms vigorously up and down five times on an inhalation and five times on an exhalation. Repeat 10 times for 100 pumps.

“Single-leg circles” – Start lying on your back and lift your right leg up and keep your body still as you make 8 clockwise circles, then 8 counter-clockwise. Repeat with your left leg.

“Single-leg straight-leg stretch” – Start lying on your back and lift your head, neck, and shoulders up. Kick your left leg straight up and pull twice with your hands as you lengthen your right leg, then switch and pull the right leg. Continue alternating legs for 8 reps.

“Double leg stretch” – Pull your knees to your chest and lift your head and neck off the floor. Extend your arms overhead and your legs out to 45 degrees, then circle your arms around and pull your knees back in to your chest. Repeat 8 times.

“Small circles” – Start lying on your side with your legs slightly in front of your hips. Lift your top leg a few inches, turn your toes up to the ceiling. Circle your leg forward 8 times then backwards 8 times, making tiny circles. Don’t let your body rock at all–stay solid in your center. Repeat on the left side.

Eating Schedule – Before and After Workouts

personal trainer
Dedicating yourself to a healthy lifestyle by eating the right diet and living a more actively seems simple. But it entails a lot of discipline and a little know how. This is true especially for those who are planning to spend a couple of hours at the gym.

The body needs a steady source of energy and nutrients. This holds true for those planning to lose weight or adding muscles. Energy is needed to power your various workout exercises and getting enough energy is essential to proper functioning in the gym. What happens after workouts is also essential. It determines the most safest and opportune time to eat and help your body in the recovery process.

Before Workouts

If you’re planning to go on a workout it is important for you to adjust eating times accordingly. Working out with a full stomach could have a negative effect on your workout. The body spends energy digesting, energy which is needed during a workout. This only makes you tire easily as your body divides itself between digesting and providing you with energy during workouts.

Working out in the gym entails focus both mentally and physically. And a full stomach could make you feel lethargic or overly relaxed. Lifting weights especially free weights can be taxing mentally and needs full focus. Hard to do when your body is still busy digesting a meal.

Eating after Workouts

Your body’s natural reaction after a workout is to replace lost energy stores. Strenuous workouts may have caused minor muscle tear which require immediate repair. Feelings of hunger is triggered, signaling you that your body is in need of instant nourishment.

If you’re about to go through a long workout, one or two hours for example. Be sure to have something handy to provide you with a quick energy source. Eat snacks rich in protein and carbohydrates. Bring snacks in the gym to immediately replenish energy and jumpstart the repairing process. Water is also essential. This is needed to prevent dehydration after a grueling workout.

A 15 minute minimum is required after exercising before you eat.

For those not hungry

For some especially for those whose goal is losing weight, eating after your workout could be detrimental to your weight loss efforts. Eating after a workout actually helps the body restock lost fats which might have been lost during the workout. If you feel hungry, only consume that which is enough to keep you going through the day.

Drink water, pure fruit juices or an energy drink to prevent dehydration and replace lost electrolytes. Even when you’re not feeling hungry or trying to lose weight, replacing lost electrolytes is essential for maintaining proper energy levels.

Eating habits before and after workouts

Working out in the gym is one of the best and fastest way to a healthier body. But it entails an extra sense of discipline. This includes proper eating habits to maximize every second you spend in the gym. So the next time you plan on going to the gym, take note of this simple guide on eating before and after workouts.

Improving Brain Functioning through Healthy Eating

Healthy food
You can’t deny the fact that as we age, our body ages right along with us. Research shows that you can increase your chances of maintaining a healthy brain if you add “smart” foods to your daily regimen.

Blueberries

Studies shows that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Diets rich in blueberries also improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of aging rats, making them mentally equivalent to younger rats, as shown in some studies. Researchers also recommend adding at least 1 cup of blueberries a day in any form.

Wild salmon

Salmon, a deep-water fish is rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are essential for brain function. Wild salmon is recommended for its “cleanliness” and it is in plentiful supply. Anti-inflammatory substances are also found in omega-3s. Sardines and herring also provide the benefits of omega-3. A 4-ounce serving, two to three times a week is recommended.

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are foods rich in vitamin E. Higher levels of vitamin E correspond with less cognitive decline as you get older. An additional ounce a day of walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, filberts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower needs, sesame seeds, flax seed and unhydrogenated nut butters such as peanut butter, almond butter, and tahini.

Avocados

In promoting brain health, avocados are almost as good as blueberries. Avocado is a fatty fruit, a monounsaturated fat that contributes to healthy blood flow. It also lowers blood pressure. Add ¼ to ½ of an avocado to one daily meal as a side dish because avocadoes are high in calories.

Whole grains

Whole grains like oatmeal, whole-grain breads, and brown rice can reduce the risk for heart disease. Whole grains release glucose slowly into bloodstream that keeps you mentally alert throughout the day.

Beans

Beans stabilize glucose levels. The brain is dependent on glucose for fuel and it can’t store the glucose as it relies on a steady stream of energy that beans can provide. Add ½ cup of lentils and black beans every day.

Pomegranate juice

This fruit offer potent antioxidant benefits that protect the brain from the damage of free radicals. Citrus fruits and colorful vegetables are on the list of the “brainy” foods because of their anti oxidant properties. Approximately 2 ounces is recommended daily diluted with spring water or seltzer.

Freshly brewed tea

Hot or iced, two to three cups a day of freshly brewed tea contains a modest amount of caffeine. It can boost brain power by enhancing memory, focus and mood. It also has potent antioxidants, which promotes healthy blood flow. Tea bags do count too.

Dark chocolate

This food has a powerful antioxidant properties, contains several natural stimulants that includes caffeine, which enhance focus and concentration and it stimulates the production of endorphins, which helps improve mood. To provide all the benefits you need, take one-half ounce to 1 ounce a day. You have to do this in moderation.

Addicted to Junk Food

junk food addiction
According to a recent study published in the journal “Nature Neuroscience,” a high-calorie diet, including junk food, may be as addictive as drugs like nicotine or even cocaine. The study, conducted on rats, shows that overconsumption of high-calorie foods can trigger addiction-like responses in the brain, thereby turning the rats into compulsive eaters.

Decreased levels of a specific dopamine receptor – a brain chemical that allows a feeling of reward – have been found in these overweight rats, as they are found in humans with drug addictions. The research was conducted in conjunction with the announcement that obesity-related diseases cost the U.S. and estimated $150 billion each year and an estimated two-thirds of American adults and one-third of children are obese or overweight.

Researchers say that eating snack foods are okay to eat from time to time; it’s when we repeatedly overindulge that the problems begin.

Food Tip: Halt Cravings With Pleasant Mental Images

outdoors mood booster
Tired of your food cravings getting the best of you?  A new study shows that you can curb cravings with one simple step – mental images.  Just picture something, anything that isn’t food-related – a white sandy beach, a starry sky, a beautiful mountain range, the sight of your significant other.

Studies have shown than when people have a craving for food if they picture something that makes them happy, but isn’t that hot fudge sundae, that they can actually curb their cravings on their own without caving in.

Researchers suggest that by enlisting the help of your other senses and picturing some enjoyable activity that it takes the edge off their food urge.

While those studies didn’t resist their cravings each and every time, it did help to prevent them from giving in each and every time.  Over time using mental images just may help to keep off those extra pounds.

Managing Chronic Pain Naturally


It is estimated that around 100 million Americans are chronic pain sufferers. And a quick stroll into your local pharmacy’s extensive pain management section will confirm this. In today’s hustle and bustle world, finding relied from pain can be as easy as popping a pill. But even the “safest” pain medication is bound to have its own share of dangers and risks if not taken properly.

The danger with long term use of pain medications is that the body may become immune to its effects or worse damage vital organs such as the kidney. Some of us even go as far as self-medicate which could be dangerous even with the use of over the counter drugs.

There are definitely safer and more natural ways to manage pain. These methods do not only help in controlling pain but also restores the natural balance in our body. And one little known way is by simply switching to a healthier diet. This could be done by eating a plant-based, nutrient rich diet that reduces inflammation naturally.

A huge contributor to nagging chronic weight problems we see today could be traced to the Standard American Diet which has been described as one of the more inflammatory diets. Our fast food culture and salty snacks have lead to overweight, chronic pain and fatigue problems. Most of us seem to be unaware or generally unconcerned with how a typical western diet affects our health.

We are what we eat and most of the health problems we see today are diet or lifestyle related. Finding relief from chronic pain can be done by switching to a healthy diet. So the next time you’re planning a short trip to the pharmacy for some pain medications why not take a look into these simple tips before popping in that pill.

Eat green-leafy vegetables. If there is one great reason to start going the veggie route, it’s because it helps reduce chronic pain by increasing the number of good bacteria in the gut. This area of the body is constantly exposed to toxins from food and the environment. A healthy digestive system keeps our body in tip-top shape. Nutrients from food are processed better therefore strengthening our immune system. This is also the area where 96 percent of our serotonin is produced. Serotonin is a feel-good hormone that lessens the stress of chronic pain.

Cane sugar can be a good way of providing temporary relief from pain by stimulating reward centers in the brain but also increases pain levels in the long run. Sugars could set people suffering from chronic pain by 3-4 weeks. Avoid artificial sweeteners. Just because these are alternatives it does not mean that they are not likely to produce the same effects as other sugars.

Margarine and other hydrogenated contain fatty acids that coat cell membranes which interfere with cellular communication. It could also lead to toxin buildup and disrupt waste removal. A body full of toxins and lactic acid increases our risk for chronic pain.

Other foods that chronic pain sufferers should avoid include wheat and all its products. People should also avoid common allergens such as corn, eggs, peanuts and other dairy products.

Healthy sources of essential fatty acids include avocados, walnuts, fish and flax seed oil. Anti-inflammatory fatty acids reduce symptoms of asthma and chronic pain. Build your immune and inflammatory system by strengthening it with healthy fatty acids.

Stress is a major trigger for pain. This might only be psychological but it places so much pressure on our body that constant high levels of stress could lead to chronic pain. Low impact exercises such as swimming, brisk walking or yoga helps release pent-up stress. Getting enough sleep also helps the body recuperate more quickly.

Get that natural high by helping your body release more endorphins, the body’s answer for pain medications. Pain is our body’s signal that something is wrong physically. Pain is a personal experience and the intensity varies from one person to another. A positive attitude helps reduce the stress of pain and lessens our need for pain relievers. When we are able to handle pain naturally, we are able to live fuller and happier lives.

Simply Spinach


Ever since we saw Popeye take out that can of spinach to help make himself super strong, we have known about the nutritional benefits of spinach. But there are plenty of other benefits of spinach that maybe even Popeye was not aware of.

Leafy, green vegetables, like spinach, provide more nutrients than any other food. Researchers have found at least 13 different flavonoid compounds in spinach that have been known to act as antioxidants and as anti-cancer agents, combating specific cancers like ovarian and prostate cancer.

The vitamin K in spinach provides 200% of the daily value in fresh spinach and nearly 1000% of the daily value in boiled spinach.

Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A, folate and magnesium.

Cooked spinach is a great source of iron, and is totally fat free.

Spinach has been known to protect against osteoporosis, heart disease, arthritis and many other conditions.

So maybe Popeye was really onto something …

Straight From the Headlines: Eating Junk Food An Addiction?


According to a recent study published in the journal “Nature Neuroscience,” a high-calorie diet, including junk food, may be as addictive as drugs like nicotine or even cocaine.

The study, conducted on rats, shows that overconsumption of high-calorie foods can trigger addiction-like responses in the brain, thereby turning the rats into compulsive eaters.

Decreased levels of a specific dopamine receptor – a brain chemical that allows a feeling of reward – have been found in these overweight rats, as they are found in humans with drug addictions.

The research was conducted in conjunction with the announcement that obesity-related diseases cost the U.S. and estimated $150 billion each year and an estimated two-thirds of American adults and one-third of children are obese or overweight.

Researchers say that eating snack foods are okay to eat from time to time, it’s when we repeatedly overindulge that the problems begin.

Carrot Facts


We have always been told that by eating our carrots we are helping to improve our eyesight, and while this is true, there are many other great benefits to eating carrots.

The beta-carotene in carrots is an antioxidant combating the free radicals that contribute to conditions like cancer, heart disease, and a few other conditions.

Cooking carrots actually raises the nutritional benefits of this great vegetable. By cooking them you free the beta-carotene from the fiber, thereby allowing your body to better absorb the beta-carotene.

If you eat just a half cup of carrots each day you will get more than the recommended dosage of beta-carotene in your diet.

One good way to get your daily dosage without eating carrots everyday is to simply add the carrots to your favorite blended drink.