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It’s Tonic Time: Herbal Tonics for Health + Wellness - I am a huge fan of herbal tonics! Tonics are ancient medicines that can be traced back several millennia. If you search the internet, you might find that many sites make a common claim that tonics originated in specific areas of the world, which might very well be true. However, in my research into medicine passed down from ancestors and the ancient ones globally, I learned that tonics existed in many cultures and regions across the entire planet. They just weren’t always known as “tonics.” An herbal tonic is created from a variety of herbs that can prevent, restore, and invigorate all of our body systems. Although our bodies are home to various biological systems, it is important to be aware that even though they are individual systems, they work in synergy. Tonic herbs are specifically selected for their ability to tone and invigorate systems throughout the body. Tonics present a preventative approach to health, meaning they keep our entire body running strong, thus helping to prevent ailments from developing. Some tonics provide energy-boosting properties, while others boost our immune system. Whether you want a full-body cleanse or to increase your body’s natural defenses, tonics are an effective way to attain both. Energizing Tonics or Qi Tonics: Increase our body’s natural energy production The herbs used in energy tonics are selected because they help the body function in the best possible way to increase natural vitality. Energy tonics are believed to naturally enhance the absorption of nutrients within the gut, which helps turn food into energy and stimulate blood flow. We don’t just require energy to work or exercise, our entire body needs energy to function properly. This includes supporting our immune system, which defends our body from illness and/or injury. I prefer to make my own tonics for a few reasons, one being that I can make more for less, and another is so I KNOW what’s going in it! If you’re not into the DIY route, you can find energizing tonics at health food stores and online. I’ll go a little more in depth on how to prepare a tonic toward the end of this article, so keep reading. Recommendations: Some incredible energizing herbs one can add to a homemade tonic are American Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Schisandra, Rhodiola Root, Holy Basil or Tulsi, and Maca. Blood Tonics: Provide nourishment to the blood Blood tonics help the body utilize nutrients that are essential for optimal functioning systems. Blood tonics are incredibly beneficial for people who work out or at least for those who get regular exercise; this is because they help build muscle and naturally increase energy. Our blood provides nourishment to all the tissues in the body, and distributes nutrients, hormones and immune cells throughout.  Blood tonics are especially beneficial for people with low iron. These tonics can support the growth and glow of our hair, skin, and nails. Blood tonics are also incredible for promoting strong sensory organs. Sensory organs are our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin. Our body naturally cleanses our blood thanks to our liver and kidneys, which are responsible for the detox process by way of removing waste or toxins from our blood. Blood tonics also aid in the removal of waste and toxins. Recommendations: Holy Basil, Ginger, Green Tea, Hibiscus, and Dandelion are all great herbs for blood tonics. As are grapefruit, garlic, cranberries, and several other foods. Note: Blood tonics should be used with caution. Avoid taking excessive amounts of these products because they can damage the kidneys and liver. You know what they say about having too much of a good thing! Cold & Flu Tonics: Perfect for the cold and flu season I strongly believe in preventative medicine and preventative practices. One of my all-time favorite tonics or herbal remedies during the cold and flu season is Fire Cider. A few years ago, I spent a couple of months up in North Dakota, where I was privileged to meet an Indigenous Healer who shared her knowledge of Fire Cider with me. It’s called Fire Cider for a reason: there’s some spice to it. You can use it to ease cold and flu symptoms, but you can also take a couple of teaspoons daily to maintain strong health to avoid a cold or flu. Recommendations: Lemon, Ginger, Honey, Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV), Cinnamon, and Turmeric are all incredible options for cold and flu tonics.  The Fire Cider recipe is hands down, a great option, which is why I provided the recipe below! Making an Herbal Tonic Tonics can be made rather quickly; however, they require at least ten hours to steep to ensure all the medicinal and healing properties seep out into the fluid.  Step 1: The ratio of water to herbs is about 3 cups of water to 1 cup of dried herbs. I’d recommend adding honey as a sweetener, as it is both delicious and beneficial. If you’re using multiple herbs, simply be sure to adjust them so they equal one cup. Also, be sure and do any research regarding the herbs and plants you want to use. Some herbs are far more potent than others. For instance, ginger is really potent; therefore, you wouldn’t need as much of it as you would something like chamomile. Step 2: Toss your dried ingredients into a mason jar, bring your water to a boil, and pour the water into the jar. Sometimes I like to add some fresh slices of orange or lemon, which is delicious and nutritious. You can also add them right in with the herbs.  Step 3: After your water is added, close the jar tightly, and leave the mixture steeping for about 10 hours. Step 4: After the steeping is complete, strain your tonic into a clean and sterile jar and discard the leftover plant matter into the compost bin. Store your herbal tonic in the refrigerator and try to use it within the next couple of days. Some tonics will last longer because they have natural preservatives such as honey or ACV. Depending on the type of tonic you’d like to make, recipes will vary, as will the dosage, so as advised above, be sure to look into what you’re putting into your body before you do it. There are so many great recipes available to try, do you have any favorites? Drop us a line and let us know what tonics you enjoy and how they help! Safe & Happy Healing!! Some links above are connected to affiliate commission accounts. All products featured are handpicked to match the recommendations in this post.
7 Ways to Revamp Mental Clarity - “It’s a lack of clarity that causes chaos and frustration. Those emotions are poison to any living goal”  Steve Maraboli wrote in Life, the Truth, and Being Free and the quote seems fitting. Under the sustained pressure and stress of our busy, modern lives, our minds can get congested, leading to a hazy and sometimes dazed feeling. Having a cloudy perception can lead to daily mishaps. I know I’m not the only person to start a pot of coffee only to return disappointed after realizing I never added the coffee grounds. But apart from the seemingly harmless inconveniences a lack of mental clarity can cause, it can also lead to unfortunate disasters. Focus, short-term memory, response times, decision-making, and mental abilities in general can be negatively impacted, which is why I want to share different ways you can revamp your mental state. 7 Revamping Tips & Techniques 1. Space & Time “Me time” is an essential part of self-care, and an essential component of self-care is hitting all levels of “me time”: mental, physical, and emotional. In my opinion, it’s good to try and take a little time for yourself daily, even if it’s only a few minutes to reground and reboot. It’s also rewarding to make a day of it! The result can feel like a deep tissue massage for your brain rather than for your body. Action Step: Engaging in meditation, yoga, light exercise, crafts, and refocusing exercises can be effective ways to gain mental clarity.  2. Check Your Gut Health & Detox The gut-brain axis is basically the information highway on which the gut and brain communicate with each other. Our gut talks to our brain and vice versa. If we have gut health issues, we might feel depressed, confused, irritable, and experience several other mental and emotional issues as well. Every now and then, our tummy needs a refreshing flush, and delicious detox tea is a great choice.  Action Step: Drinking a detox tea will help the body remove toxins and acts as a diuretic, which helps the kidneys rid the body of excess fluid. Ridding the body of toxins improves our overall health and well-being. 3. Daily Meditation & Yoga When meditation and yoga are practiced regularly, they act as preventative medicine for the body and the brain. Something I love about both of these practices is that they are so very versatile. Whether it’s seeking mental clarity or boosting your core energy, there’s a meditation or yoga exercise that can help. Action Step: Find the forms and styles of meditation and yoga that meet your specific needs. 4. Aromatherapy Aromatherapy uses aromatic substances or materials such as essential oils, plants, flowers, and spices for whole-body health and healing. Diffusers, candles, specific perfumes or body oil, and essential oil diffuser necklaces are all great ways to encourage mental clarity and therapeutic healing. Some oils and scents naturally calm the nerves and ease anxiety. Different scents spur different senses, emotions, and stimuli to react, which is incredible. Studies show the palliative effect aromatherapy can have on depressive symptoms. Depression can lead to and be caused by a lack of mental clarity, which is another reason to practice whole-body healing. Action Step: If you have the space and time to unwind, light some candles or use an essential oil diffuser for aromatherapy. Nice bubble baths with aromatic scents work well too. For on-the-go aromatherapy check out some of the essential oil diffuser necklaces. 5. Breathing Techniques Breathing is 100% free and can be done anywhere, unless, of course, you’re under water without a breathing apparatus. Breathing techniques are an important part of yoga, meditation, regular exercise, and to calm and clear away mental clutter. Various studies and research shows just how much breath-control can impact your mental and physical well-being. Action Step: To calm the mind, inhale slowly through the nose, hold for a few seconds, and then gradually exhale out of your mouth. Repeat this technique four times and see how you feel. Don’t breathe too fast, hard, or hold the breath in for too long otherwise you may feel slightly dizzy. 6. Brain Food Here’s some food for thought, adjusting your diet and eating habits can positively impact your brain health. Omega-3s, B-vitamins, and antioxidants enhance cognitive functions. According to Harvard Health Publishing, research shows us that the same foods that are good for your brain are also good for your heart and blood vessels. These foods include leafy greens, berries, fatty fish like salmon, tea, coffee, and walnuts.  Action Step: Add some of the above-named food groups to your diet or find supplements that will give you the same benefits.  7. Journaling Journals can be a helpful tool for all sorts of things, including getting some mental clarity. You can simply make journal entries daily to help unwind from all of the thoughts of that day. You can also do some free writing or as some call it “brain dumping.” This is where order and structure don’t matter at all. Action Step: Simply begin writing every thought that comes to you, let them flow out onto the paper, even the unfinished thoughts. Avoid searching for any order or sense just go with the flow for about ten minutes. Once you’re done take a look at what you have. It might seem like useless information, and if that’s the case, it should no longer burden your mind by adding to the fog. Mental clarity can help you remember the little things and also help you in dire times of need. Clear away the unnecessary. Rest, rejuvenate, reassess, and restore! Some links above are connected to affiliate commission accounts. All products featured are handpicked to match the recommendations in this post.
Cycling Will Not Make You Physically Fit - As cycling explodes in popularity, reflected by Peloton’s IPO, SoulCycle’s intended IPO, and Amazon semi-joining in, it’s important to know that cycling in itself does not build a well-rounded body. In fact, it does the opposite. Cycling is an example of exercises that break the body down, rather than build it up. And this is not primarily because of the endurance aspect, as not all cycling workouts are high duration, especially not those held in corporate gym cycling studios. The degenerative risks associated with cycling are built into the movement pattern itself. Improper Form Any experienced personal trainer and, certainly, any decent physical therapist should be able to ascertain with little difficulty the posture challenges and muscle imbalance-inducing risks inherent in cycling form. When many people think about exercise, they focus on results, not the method. Fat loss is the primary goal of many adults. A such, when they select an activity, the focus is caloric burn. Often forgotten or not even registered on the minds of most of us is the importance of good posture and muscle balance or synergy. While cycling, the body is hinged forward, shortening the hip flexors and over lengthening the back at the same time; the quads are used predominantly over other muscle groups, such as the glutes, lower back, and upper back. One issue becomes very apparent: unequal stress on muscle groups (muscle imbalance). Muscle balance and synergy are not just important to safely and proficiently play a sport, but for functional movement throughout everyday life. Tight hip flexors can create ongoing posture issues and can disrupt something as everyday as your walking gait. I understand cycling for transportation, but biomechanically, it’s confounding how it has become such a marketed form of exercise to gain physical fitness when it so blatantly runs contrary to what physical fitness actually means. Physical fitness is the ability to execute full-body movement, by way of good mobility, flexibility, cardiovascular ability, and muscle synergy. “Physical fitness is one’s ability to execute daily activities with optimal performance, endurance, and strength with the management of disease, fatigue, and stress and reduced sedentary behavior.” – Nerissa Campbell, Stefanie De Jesus, Harry Prapavessis. “Physical Fitness.” Springer academic publishing The definition of physical fitness can be more narrowly defined based on a specific sport, but generally speaking, physical fitness describes a body free of mechanical limitations. Cycling form, on the other hand, forces muscle imbalances, which leads to mechanical limitations, e.g., tight hip flexors, poor posture, limited lateral strength and range. The words, “and reduced sedentary behavior,” in the above definition from Springer directly point to cycling form. Cycling involves sitting. Sitting is poor for posture, never mind the cardiovascular benefits the activity offers. This benefit-drawback entanglement is akin to when someone believes they are being proactive about their physical fitness when they select a stability ball chair over a standing desk. A standing desk addresses posture, core engagement, and blood circulation. A stability ball addresses upper body posture and core stability, not blood circulation or body mechanics from the waist down. As with traditional chairs – and cycling, tight hip flexors can be borne from prolonged sitting on a stability ball. Questionable Functionality Beyond being a form of transportation, cycling is not functional in the kinesiological sense: it will not aid in full-body control and movement through space; it will not enhance your ability to squat down, lift objects, and have enhanced flexibility or mobility. In other words, beyond cardiovascular capacity and quad lactate tolerance, cycling will not improve your ability to perform everyday activities or act in different emergency situations. Worse, prolonged sitting in a position that tightens the hip flexors and overarches the back, will serve to create a tighter and less mobile body the longer the activity is carried out – on a daily or yearly timescale. Cycling offers simple calorie burn by way of repetitive movement, along with an endurance high, and a community of zealot-like enthusiasts. None of which offer overall physical ability, never mind functional fitness. If caloric burn is the goal, strength training, which can burn calories for days after a workout, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are smarter alternatives to reaching high caloric burn, and those activities are regenerative (build the body up), versus degenerative (break the body down) because they are multi-joint, muscle-building movements that increase growth hormone levels.* Danger in High Accessibility Repetitive motion activities like cycling and running, are highly accessible, meaning there is a low learning threshold for the body: putting one foot in front of the other or pushing pedals forward over and over again. Other exercise forms, such as strength training, yoga, and other skills-based exercise cannot be so readily adopted. In fact, some exercises are not achievable without sometimes years of practice, e.g., a freeform handstand push-up or a Destroyer of the Universe pose. So, once an easily accessible, repetitive stress exercise is adopted, the average person with the goal of fat loss often thinks, “if I just repeat this movement over and over again I’ll burn such and such amount of calories.” And, unfortunately, that’s often the extent of thinking involved. Mechanics, however, matter if one desires true physical fitness and functional ability. If your goal is lifelong fitness, a shortcut to maintaining and reaching that goal with little difficulty is to focus on exercise programs and nutrition techniques that are regenerative, not degenerative. Sort out what activities are too narrowly focused on one or only a few aspects of fitness, e.g., strength, but not cardiovascular health; flexibility, but not strength; cardiovascular health, but not mobility, flexibility, or full-body strength – that’s the pitfall of cycling. Instead, emphasize exercises that train muscles to work synergistically, rather than exercises that overload only specific muscle groups. Also follow a nutrition program that supports a variety of food options from different food groups that can be adhered to without unreasonable standards or guidelines.   Again, cycling is not functional, but like running, its low learning curve attracts many. A logical alternative to focusing on a single sport that can lead to possible detrimental effects on the body is to cross-train, which helps develop full-body functionality. For more information on functional fitness that can build the body up in any age group and maintain a functional, agile, strong, flexible, and mobile body, click the image below and also research functional exercise on your own. If you still desire to engage in cycling after reading this post, there are solutions to lessen the built-in negative effects it can have on your body. The article, “Sitting, Cycling Posture and Back Problems,” describes the posture and muscle-imbalance risks inherent in cycling and offers mitigation exercises that can be undertaken in addition to cycling. Sources “Exercise Library.” FunctionalMovement.com. https://www.functionalmovement.com/exercises *"Growth Hormone – Raising Exercises.” Canadian Academy of Sports Nutrition. https://www.caasn.com/growth-hormone-raising-exercises.html#:~:text=Studies%20have%20shown%20that%20even,production%20is%20progressive%20weight%20training. “IT Band injuries and cycling: what you need to know.” Thomas McDaniel. https://www.bikeradar.com/advice/fitness-and-training/it-band-injuries-and-cycling-what-you-need-to-know/ “Physical Fitness.” Nerissa Campbell, Stefanie De Jesus, Harry Prapavessis. https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-1-4419-1005-9_1167 “What Functional Training Is and Why It's Important.” Amy Marturana Winderl, C.P.T. https://www.self.com/story/what-functional-training-is-why-its-important “What is Physical Fitness.” CHARLES CORBIN & GUY LE MASURIER. https://us.humankinetics.com/blogs/excerpt/what-is-physical-fitness  
EndyMed Laser Treatment Review - Earlier this year, I underwent six EndyMed sessions at a reputable medspa in my area. During a prior consultation with an aesthetic technician, I told her I had concerns about the scar across my eyebrow, which was self-inflicted from piercing myself as a teenager; it was a cool idea then, not so much now. That permanent reminder of reckless teenage boredom has caused me to constantly wear hairstyles that cover the unsightly scar tissue. We went over different options including microneedling, which I heard horror stories about from a friend, and other procedures such as surgically removing the scar — the most costly option of them all. Finally, she took a moment to think and suggested EndyMed. She said in addition to reducing my scar, the procedure would also tighten my skin if I opted to treat my entire face. Although currently in my mid-thirties, I haven’t seen any major facial signs of aging, I was curious to see what my face would look like tighter. The price, broken into six separate treatments of $150 (a discounted rate), wasn’t too bad either, so I went with it. What is EndyMed? Claimed to be safer than Botox at reducing wrinkles and promoted as an alternative to the surgical facelift, EndyMed is a new radio frequency laser technology that tightens the skin by heating the dermis to induce collagen production. Tightening is stated to occur to a small degree immediately after a treatment, with fully realized results within a week to weeks thereafter. Results last longer than Botox: 18 months to two years versus approximately three to six months for Botox. At the medspa I visited, I was told the primary benefit Botox has over EndyMed is immediate results, as a week or so for EndyMed might be too long for some. EndyMed, however, offers an extra benefit that Botox does not: natural-looking results. For those who might be wondering, Botox can be used for scar treatment in addition to wrinkle reduction and prevention, but it carries more severe risks than EndyMed. This post summarizes my experience after receiving a full cycle of facial EndyMed treatments. Six cycles were recommended to me; although, up to ten cycles can be recommended for other patients. “EndyMed® treatments are designed for the treatment of wrinkles, specifically to tighten and lift sagging skin on the face and neck, including the forehead, cheeks, under the chin, and neck. EndyMed® is also specially formulated to use on delicate, sensitive, and hard-to-treat areas around the eyes and mouth.” – Dr. Ayala Plastic Surgery, San Antonio, TX     Cost Speed of Results Duration of Results $200 – $2,600* Immediate or weeks* 18 months to 2 years** Scar treatment can be permanent.***   The Procedure The duration of the procedure is around 45 minutes. The laser releases a heat sensation on the skin that can border on intense burning. The technician adjusts the laser intensity, or heat level, based on what areas of the face are being targeted and feedback from the patient. Delicate areas of the face, such as around the lips, cannot bear the same temperature level as the cheek area, for example. Every time I had the procedure, the sensation of burning occurred at least a few times, but it did not leave redness or a burn on my skin — This can vary per patient. The technician informed me that any burning can affect the skin for up to roughly one week. Different types of lasers can be used. I’ve had the procedure with a small laser and a large laser; I prefer the larger laser. Each technician who treated me used a distinct technique of operating the laser. Of the two technicians I worked with, one woman moved around my face quickly in small circles, while the other traversed my face more slowly, in a languid circular or contouring motion. I found the latter to be more effective at producing noticeable results. Note: Patients are advised to cease the use of any complexion correction products, such as skin brighteners with hydroquinone, for about a week prior to the EndyMed procedure. Such products might be in common use for women who undergo the procedure, as such products are also used for anti-aging to combat melasma. According to the technician who consulted me for EndyMed treatment, continued use of skin brightening products while undergoing EndyMed can potentially cause skin discoloration. Side Effects The technician went over the side effects with me, and I found them to be minor and less risky than Botox side effects or any of the other side effects related to other scar removal options she suggested. Due to the heat emitted from the laser, some patients may experience temporary reddening, swelling, and/or flaking of their skin. More seriously, the radio frequency laser itself can interfere with medical devices, such as pacemakers. For a more detailed list of possible side effects, read Real Self’s review of EndyMed. Results Following the first treatment, I was told to expect a tightening sensation of my skin over the next couple of days, and a visible reduction in scarring and fine lines. After my first procedure, within a week the fine lines in my nasolabial area and on my forehead vanished. I didn’t notice it right away, but once I did, I was pleasantly surprised. Half a year later, those lines are still gone. Again, the results are supposed to last for about 2 years. For $150, I’d say that’s an excellent deal. I didn’t continue the procedures on the schedule recommended, which was once every three weeks. Instead, my being a single mom, I waited till I had the money. So, I underwent the procedure about every four to five weeks until I completed all six rounds of treatment. Although the scar above my eyebrow isn’t completely gone, after the first treatment, it was noticeably smoother to the touch, whereas it was once very tough and protruded from my skin. The second result I experienced was the disappearance of fine lines on my nasolabial area and forehead. However, unfortunately, I did not experience any skin tightening nor, at least, any sensation of skin tightening, as I was told to expect. That does not mean this treatment doesn’t work for skin tightening. I might perhaps be too young to have a noticeable reduction of collagen in order for the collagen-promoting powers of EndyMed to be more pronounced. On the other hand, I recommended EndyMed to a friend within my age group who experienced both a tightening sensation and a visible tightening of her skin, so this result can be dependent on one’s specific physiology. See before and after photos from various EndyMed patients. For the wrinkle-busting powers alone, EndyMed is going to be part of my anti-aging skin plan. Although I might not need the treatment for skin tightening at this time in my life, next year I will probably continue treatment on my scar until, hopefully, it becomes barely apparent. Perhaps a few years down the line, I’ll use EndyMed again for my overall face. Outside of my own experience with the treatment, EndyMed appears to be a great, new technology that will likely improve. It even has its own stock ticker. I’d like to see where this technology goes, as it’s an excellent alternative to the risks that come with Botox and the expense of various scar treatments. If you are curious about trying EndyMed, browse the clinic locator on the EndyMed website. If you have already tried EndyMed, please leave a comment below of your experience with the technology. Sources *Real Self: https://www.realself.com/endymed-3deep **Medical Aesthetics HV: https://www.medicalaestheticshv.com/endymed-3deep-kingston-new-york#:~:text=Typically%20results%20can%20last%2018,which%20includes%20sunblock%20every%20day! ***Dr. Doris Day on Wendy Williams: https://youtu.be/EI64qxD763I?t=69
Interview w/ Army Master of Fitness Marcus Wallace - Army SGT. First Class and Master Fitness Instructor Marcus Wallace will be partnering with Broke Single Mom Fitness to share exercises and nutrition advice with BSMF website visitors and social media followers. SGT. Wallace has years of experience as an athlete and trainer. Before joining the Army, he played basketball in college and became a 6-time MVP. Later, after receiving injuries in his basketball career, the appeal of Army fitness inspired him to become a soldier. His exceptional athleticism singled him out among other soldiers and he was selected to become a trainer. Today, he is a Master Fitness Instructor and a member of Fire Team Whiskey, a program to help soldiers improve their fitness levels. When not helping other soldiers excel in strength and overall fitness, he is making videos to help civilians reach their fitness goals through a low-equipment, hybrid approach to fitness: functional exercise, bodybuilding, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), Tabata, and other techniques to increase strength, conditioning, mobility, and agility. Because of his accomplishments as an athlete and master fitness instructor, Marcus has been featured in Muscle & Strength Magazine online and various military publications.
I Tried F45 Training - After 18 years of being my own personal trainer, I needed to change things up, challenge myself, and possibly learn new skills, so I tried F45 Training’s 3-day trial. I once relegated group exercise to the realm of those who crave external motivation or peer accountability to show up and workout. My old feelings toward group exercise are perfectly summed up in the introduction of “The Cold Hard Truth About F45 Training” from Dmarge.com, in which the author writes, “I’ve always thought group fitness is a cop-out. Pre-planned intensity and structure may be great for those with no motivation (or the army), but it’s not for me.” Likewise, I viewed some high-intensity group exercise training, such as CrossFit, as more focused on rep count and competition than proper form, injury prevention, and the primary stated goal of this site: lifelong fitness. Before trying F45, Dmarge’s writer viewed the gym as a “mecca of sports injuries and over-enthusiasm.” Although I agreed with his statements about group exercise and I see some group fitness training techniques and cultures as injury-inducing, I didn’t perceive F45 as a threat to my physical safety. I could see by the pacing of the trainees and structure of the classrooms in F45 videos that the competition-centric, sustained-high-intensity-at-any-cost training seen in many CrossFit videos, for example, were absent from F45 videos. That’s what encouraged me to look deeper. What is F45? F45 is an Australian-formed gym that stands for functional training in 45 minutes, or “Functional 45.” Functional exercise is about teaching your body how to maximize movement through space in everyday scenarios or in ways to enhance athletic movement for a specific sport. Free movement, free weights, and a body unbounded by machines is functional training, and functional exercise fortifies the body against injuries by promoting muscle synergy, mobility, flexibility, and stability. For the past five years, functional training has been the core of my lifelong fitness strategy. I elected to try F45 versus other functional exercise gyms in my area and other popular supposed functional gyms like CrossFit, because in watching F45 class videos, the training appeared to be focused on proper execution, not competition or rep count. After trying several classes, I found that to be the case. Instructors demonstrate correct form prior to every session, offer modifications, and navigate the floor to correct the form of trainees during classes. They also have a policy of training at your own pace. The Workouts F45 offers different strength and cardio splits, each have a specific name, such as The Piston, Varsity, and Athletica. Based on my trial period at the gym, I gathered that the foundation of F45’s routines is variety, intensity, and duration. Variety is for never doing the same workout twice, at least, not the exact same full-length workout. While you might do a burpee on more than one training day, you shouldn’t expect to do a burpee as part of the same order of exercises from a previous routine. Intensity is for challenging yourself. F45 offers heart-rate monitors to help trainees track whether they are hitting their target heart rate. Those numbers are posted on a screen for visual feedback, and some trainees might gain motivation from comparing their heart rate to others. Duration is for the length of set and rest periods. This is a core portion of any training program, as it can increase or decrease the intensity of any workout. At F45, to maximize caloric burn and training intensity, workouts have short rest periods between exercises; in other words, it’s circuit training. For the cardio sessions I attended, intra-set rest periods were as short as – get this, 5 seconds – yes, 5 seconds. Talk about not flushing out lactic acid build-up or allowing ATP replenishment for proper muscle contraction.  The below quote from the article “Rest Periods Between Sets” by the International Sports Sciences Association summarizes this point. “Due to the short rest interval between sets, strength gains are less than optimal with circuit training (30 to 50% less) when compared to traditional strength training.” – International Sports Sciences Association F45 workouts are pre-made; I’m guessing from the headquarters of the F45 franchise. There are a variety of exercises per class, up to 13 in my experience at the gym, performed at three to four sets for 45 seconds each exercise. During my trial, the rest between sets varied from 5 seconds to 30 seconds, depending on whether the workout was strength or cardio. Exercises ranged from basic movements, like push-ups, to somewhat advanced movements, such as bosu ball goblet squats. Pros F45’s trainers are in shape, knowledgeable, and energetic; the gym phone app is informative and makes reserving a spot in a class easy; the facility is to-the-point: nothing but what is needed per training session. Lastly, they offer nutrition plans and ready-made meals. Cons The set/rest durations run contrary to my training, which focuses on balancing recovery and intensity so I can output as close to 100% each set, thus promoting proper form and maximum muscle recruitment. This well-known and academically recommended training scheme built my body from skinny and shapeless to muscular and strong. However, over time, my focus on muscle-protecting set/rep schemes has caused me to lose focus on conditioning, and knowing the human body greatly benefits from cross-training via exposure to different stimuli, in a moment of madness (partly spurred by COVID cabin fever), I extended my F45 trial to a few weeks of paid classes, signing up for the “2x A Week” training plan. Cost Signing up for the gym was a moment of madness not only because I was aware that the training recovery time might be incompatible with my solo training days, but also because the gym is pretty expensive: $27 per week — yup, that’s per week — for the “2x A Week” package. All current rates for my state, Texas, are below. F45 Training Rates – Aug 2020 – TX, USA Unlimited $40 per week 2x A Week $27 per week Class Passes $170 for 10 classes valid for 3 months $300 for 20 classes valid for 6 months $400 for 30 classes valid for 6 months Month-to-Month $45 per week I would not recommend those rates to anyone practicing lifelong fitness on a budget or affordable fitness. However, the rates are comparable to other niche gyms, like Crossfit. Jack of all Trades, Master of None Remember P90X? — The intense training program that enticed a lot of people about a decade ago? In 2007, while working as a trainer, I tried P90X to give my clients an opinion of the program and challenge myself. P90X, F45, and other exercise programs that focus on high volume to achieve caloric burn are not programs for those hoping to advance in exercise technique. This is because performance is degraded by the rapid pace. When performance is deteriorated, technique inevitably drops, and the focus shifts to survival — lasting the full set duration. With F45’s current training schemes, your best-performing set will always be the first set of every exercise; after that, it’s all downhill due to lactic acid build-up and limited ATP replenishment time. Further, because all F45 routines are full-body, recovery days from strength training outside of F45 training can be interrupted – and were for me. F45 reminds me of P90X and other training programs people are drawn to for how intense they look rather than for their long-term practicality. My conclusion of F45 Training is the same as for P90X – I’ll get to that in a moment. To become a certified personal trainer, I learned about how inadequate rest between sets can stifle training output and thus hamper gains. Like P90X, F45’s set/rest lengths simply don’t permit maximal effort for every set or adequate per-set recovery. Further, the program is designed for caloric burn, not skills or technique development. For example, stretching, an integral skill that is part of true fitness, was absent from the majority of the workouts I tried. My Verdict F45’s training style (due to abbreviated rest periods) is not a smart choice for long-term training; the training intensity is impractical for everyday exercise, and it would be folly to hope to gain new skills through the program. Wait, that verdict does not mean I’m completely against P90X or F45 training styles. High-intensity-based workouts are excellent for fat loss and stress testing the body to gauge conditioning, agility, cardiovascular capacity, and, according to the International Sports Sciences Association, elevate growth hormone levels. “High volume, short rest period training has also been found to increase human growth hormone levels when compared to training with longer rest periods.” – International Sports Sciences Association I won’t lie, learning where my cardio capacity stood was beneficial and the workouts were energizing. But I could not follow the “2x A Week” plan without interfering with my skill- and strength-based workouts, which I value more than and worked too hard for to lose on account of keeping up with a group of strangers. So while I would not recommend F45 Training for lifelong fitness, muscle growth and maintenance, or skill development, I recommend finding ways to test your overall physical capacity by periodically (a few weeks out of the year) increasing the intensity of your training. One shortcut to achieving this could be putting your body through the F45 test, as I have. Have you tried F45 Training or CrossFit? If so, please leave a comment about your experience below.
The Benefits of Running - Written by Aj of moccasinguru.com Running is one of the most popular sports around the globe and is something everyone’s, at least, somewhat familiar with. What many may not know are the numerous benefits that running offers us. This isn’t limited to physical rewards, either. When I first started running at a young age—before many of you were born—I thought it was solely good for fitness endurance. You know, to help me run for longer. While this is true, little did I know that there are some other amazing benefits to running. I bet you didn’t realize some of these, either! Top 10 Benefits of Running Running comes with even more benefits than we have time for today. What I can say is that they range from physical to psychological and also some that are a matter of convenience. If you’re in a rush and want the shortlist, check these out, but if I were the nitty-gritty, scan below: Aids weight loss. Increases bone density. Boosts confidence. Improves mental health. Prevents high blood pressure. Strengthens immunity. Increases lung capacity. Do it anywhere. Totally legal high. 1. Aids Weight Loss Are you looking to lose some weight? Basic science tells us that to shed some pounds, we need to burn more calories than we consume. The good news is running burns calories at a higher rate than many other forms of physical fitness. This includes jumping rope, bicycling and swimming, among others. Not only that, but there’s the “afterburn effect,” as well. This refers to the energy our bodies continue to use after we exercise and when we’ve returned to a state of rest. For high-intensity runners, this effect could be even more rewarding. Maybe you’re a newbie, and full-on sprints sound like a nightmare. Don’t worry; it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You could sprinkle some high-intensity bursts into your normal routine and see where it takes you. Just make sure that you have the right footwear. If you’re in any doubt then check out our best running shoes page for all of our recommended shoes. No matter your sport or type of injury, we have you covered. Whether it’s high arches, plantar fasciitis, supination, flat feet, sprinting shoes, or something different you can find our assessment here at Moccasin Guru. 2. Increases Bone Density When we reach our 30s and 40s, this becomes a real concern. To prevent osteoporosis, we have to make sure our bones are in good shape, and one of the best ways to combat the condition is through regular exercise. Weight-bearing activities, in particular, are shown to have a great impact. For example, in one study conducted on men from the ages of 19 to 45, researchers noted the runners had better spine BMD (bone mineral density) than the cyclists. Do you already have osteoporosis? I recommend that you check with your doctor before taking up a new running routine. 3. Boosts Confidence It might sound cheesy, but hear me out. The media is always telling us, ladies and gents, that we just aren’t enough. This bombardment can easily stop us dead in our tracks from taking better care of ourselves or laying down some solid goals to get there. When we take up a new exercise, it’s never easy. Practice does, however, make perfect, and over time, we reap the rewards of sticking it out. There’s nothing that feels quite as good as starting something new (in our adult years, no less) and watching ourselves improve at it. It’s never too late. So why not grab yourself some running sneakers and head out for a five-minute run? That’s my challenge to you. It doesn’t have to be anything more than that, but the fact you did it is an excellent confidence booster. 4. Improves Mental Health Our confidence isn’t the only factor that gets a boost from running. Even the insurance companies are talking about it! Do you suffer from any of the following? The chances are that running could have a positive impact on these: Stress. Low productivity. Depression and anxiety. Insomnia. To be clear, I’m not claiming that running is a “cure-all,” by any means. There are many circumstances at play where the above points are concerned. However, a regular run won’t hurt, and there’s plenty of evidence to back that up. Also, given the issues we’re facing with the COVID crisis right now, it’s always wise to find additional ways to protect your mental health. Click here for some additional tips. 5. Builds Endurance One of the beautiful things about running is that doing it on-the-regular can prepare you for other physical activities you enjoy. Maybe you like hiking with your family or taking a swim once summer hits? If you’re going after your running routine, these activities could be much easier and more enjoyable for you. You may even be able to join in the kid’s soccer game and not feel totally exhausted by the end of it. It’ll feel great, I’m sure of it. 6. Prevents High Blood Pressure Please don’t get freaked out by this, but Americans are increasingly at risk for cardiovascular conditions. The AHA—American Heart Association—states that around 46 percent of the population already suffers from hypertension—high blood pressure. As you probably know, this is one of the leading causes of heart disease. The good news? Regular exercise can have a profound impact. According to the Mayo Clinic, it takes around one to three months of running before you’ll see an effect on blood pressure. Given the long-term results, I reckon it’s worth giving it a shot. If you already have a chronic heart condition or high blood pressure, consult your doctor before running, to be on the safe side. 7. Strengthens Immunity Now, I’m not talking about intense marathons when I talk about running. Even walking for between 20 and 30 minutes a day can strengthen your immunity. A regular running routine may help flush out your respiratory system from harmful bacteria, for starters. This could lower your risk of things like the common cold. Furthermore, the rise in body temperature that occurs once you’re running can prevent new bacteria from growing in the first place. 8. Increases Lung Capacity This refers to the amount of oxygen our bodies can use at any given time. Our hearts have to work harder to pump oxygen when we’re receiving less of it. In short, our lung capacity affects our overall health and longevity. Regular aerobic exercise, such as running, can boost our capacity by five to 15 percent. If you suffer from low stamina, have difficulty breathing or experience regular respiratory infections, your lung capacity might be low. While it could be nothing serious, you don’t want to run before clearing it with a health professional. 9. Do It Anywhere That’s right. It’s one of my favorite benefits of running because you have a variety of ways to go about it. For those that aren’t big on the gym, you can run in the comfort of your neighborhood or at the local trail—bonus: no cost. Maybe you prefer having a treadmill in the house where you and your partner can both use it conveniently? Do you travel for work? You won’t have to miss your chosen exercise class while you’re away. Throw your running shoes in your bag, and make it happen when you’re on-the-go. 10. Totally Legal High No, “totally legal high” isn’t a typo. If you’re already a runner, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Running can get you high—some describe it as “euphoria” or “bliss.” Research points to this high as being similar to that experienced when ingesting THC, which is the chemical in marijuana that’s responsible for the same. It could be one of the most harmless, rewarding and easily obtainable highs out there. What’s not to love about that? Tips for Running How you approach a running regime depends on you, your experience and your goals. It’ll look quite different for everyone, but these tried-and-true tips can make or break success: One Step at a Time This is mainly for all the newbies out there. Start slow, for crying out loud. There’s no need to bang the pavement hardcore from the get-go. For example, it could mean a brisk walk for 10 minutes a day until you’re ready to ramp it up. Eventually, you’ll start jogging and then running. A gentle approach means less chance for burning out or injuring yourself right off the bat. And yes, I talk from experience, being one of those loons that decided to try and blitz a 10k without building up to that distance. Don’t Forget to Stretch We shouldn’t only stretch before we work out, but afterward, as well. It can help prevent soreness and injury. So, as tempting as it is to throw yourself in the grass after a long run outside, take five minutes and stretch it out first. Your body will say “thank you” later. You’ll see that some runners advise to only stretch if that’s what your body is used to. The basis behind this is that running will stretch those muscles anyway, so you don’t want to overstretch. While I do agree to this sentiment to a point, if you’re a beginner, it’s best to do some light stretching. Consider investing in a foam roller to help you with your stretching routine. Stick With a Routine It sounds boring, I know. But without a regular exercise routine, it’s easy to procrastinate or prioritize other recreational activities. That’s not to say those aren’t important, but our health does rank up there at the top of our list. Running every other day is a great place to start. Give yourself a general timeframe and set yourself some realistic goals, so you don’t end up disappointed. Have a hard time with routines, in general? Call on a workout buddy or your partner to help you stay motivated. It could be that they give you a ring to pump you up or maybe they’ll join in, as well. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate It’s easy to forget, but drinking plenty of water is a crucial component of a successful workout. Doing so gives cushioning to our joints and helps regulate our body temperature, among other factors. Did you know we generate up to 20 times more heat when we’re running than when we’re at rest? We should be sipping on this beautiful resource throughout the day, of course. But when it comes to your runs, avoid drinking your entire bottle all in one go. Instead, aim for around 2 cups before and after, with some sips during your run, too. Stay Safe This is yet another tip that many may throw to the wayside, but disregarding it would be foolish. Do you like to run outside? Listen up. Things like poor weather conditions or evening runs can put you at risk of traffic accidents. Pay attention, and wear reflective clothing, so you easily stand out on the road. Watch out for uneven paved areas, ditches or slopes around your favorite trails, too. Too often, I’ve slipped and taken a fall because I was lost in my tunes when running. FAQs Running is an entire workout culture, in and of itself. There’s no way I can cover them all, but just in case, here are a few commonly asked questions I get: How Many Miles Should I Run a Day? Doing it a small amount each day certainly won’t hurt. The overall benefits of running top off at around 4.5 hours weekly, though. If you choose to do it every single day, keep your sessions short and manageable. This equates to around 15 to 20 minutes per session at a moderate pace of approximately 0.6 miles per hour. What’s Runner’s Stomach? It’s estimated that around 30 to 90 percent of runners or endurance athletes experience it from time to time. This refers to a slew of symptoms that can occur during a run, like...
Do You Need a Gym for an Effective Workout? – A Fit Mom’s Experience - As a young, broke mom, I worked out at home for five years before ever joining a gym. I developed a six-pack for the first time a month after giving birth to my son, and a few months later, my legs were toned for the first time. I had my first taste of muscle growth and progress with exercise. I developed so much strength and solid conditioning that when I joined the military a year later, I was awarded Top Female Physical Readiness Trainee and Warhawk. I created my own exercise schedule, starting at just three days per week, then I gradually moved up to doing something every day. My trainer was Fit TV, and my primary TV instructor was Cathe Friedrich, whom I can credit with the strengths I gained that led to my military fitness awards. Given those results, it took quite a bit of convincing from reading books by several professional coaches to encourage me to join a gym (based on my then-goal: muscle growth). After training at home for five years, being a personal trainer at various gyms for eight years, and working out at gyms for a decade, I know reaching your desired physique and performance goals can be achieved without a full-blown gym. I know many skilled, impressive, and well-built athletes who train at home gyms, some even train outdoors in the grass or utilize bars, wood planks, and other equipment at local playgrounds. The question isn’t whether you can effectively exercise without a gym, it is what kind of setup is required for you to effectively reach your goals. To help you best visualize the role your goals play in where you work out, this article is organized by general goals, focusing on the optimum setup for maximum results, based on my experience as a personal trainer and broke single mom with 18 straight years of dedication to health and fitness. Fat loss Fat loss exercise requires little to no equipment. In fact, I’ll go with the latter: fat loss requires zero equipment. Unlike exercising on a machine that provides momentum, such as a treadmill or elliptical, when propelling your body on the ground or on a floor, you get no assistance from the momentum of a machine. 100% of the force that moves your body comes from you, amounting to more caloric burn. Wasting time driving to a gym (in which you’re sitting down) and spending money on a gym membership simply to lose fat is a flawed approach. Instead, find an empty 6’x6’ space in your home or hit the pavement or grass; train immediately, with no travel time or money lost. You’ll also gain the bonus of high-caloric burn from using your own body’s resistance and strength, not the momentum from machines. Utilize the floor and pick up, hit, throw, drag, push, and pull objects. If being at home doesn’t motivate you, the outdoors is ideal for fat loss. It provides an abundance of space for the type of multi-joint, metabolic exercises that will maximize fat loss. Muscle Gain/Tone A gym with varying weights is ideal for the progressive overload required to stimulate muscle growth. It is possible to gain muscle at home, even with limited equipment, but muscle growth potential can vary by body type and genetics, and limited options for progressive overload can exasperate this. Assuming an appropriate diet with a caloric surplus has been implemented to aid in muscle growth, bodyweight exercise, for example, which is common with home workouts, can present limited opportunities for progressive overload for many people. This is because progressive overload in bodyweight training requires mastering the body in ways that aren’t as easily attainable as picking up a heavier weight. For example, advancing from a pike push-up on the floor to a freeform handstand push-up can require months and sometimes years of work. This is because the body must make many strength, balance, proprioception, stability, mobility, flexibility, and joint adjustments to enable someone to advance through each progression. That’s a lot of slow, mindful work that does not leave much room to focus on muscle gain, rather skill is emphasized. Beyond advanced bodyweight work, muscle growth and tone can still be achieved at home. The safest bet is equipping your home gym with gear such as bands, sandbags, and weights to ensure progressive overload can be executed regularly. Maintenance Save your money, train at home. When working to simply maintain your current body composition and fitness level, the primary benefit of the gym: loads of equipment, is most often unnecessary, unless maintaining your level of fitness involves access to a variety of equipment and weights. In which case, if you’d like to save money on a gym membership or enjoy the aforementioned perks of working out at home, perhaps consider investing in a home gym. The total cost can be cheaper than years of paying for a gym membership. Skills Home or the outdoors is sufficient for this goal. Of course, a gym can be used for varied equipment, but much of those pieces of equipment can be emulated outdoors or within your own home for skill work: bars, poles, walls, etc. Flexibility, Mobility, Functionality Save your money, train at home or outdoors. A gym is definitely not needed for optimal flexibility, mobility, or functionality. 500 years of ballet dancers acquiring extreme flexibility and mobility using little more than horizontal bars, walls, and floors confirms this. High flexibility and mobility translate to great physical functionality. Nuff said. The Verdict Currently, I’m rebuilding my home gym, spurred by COVID-19 lockdown orders. My goals are a mixture of functional strength, mobility, flexibility, gymnastics skills, and muscle retention/gain. I have a bare-minimum home gym setup. I purchased a yoga stand primarily for pull-up, muscle-up, and ring work that I have learned to use for leg exercises, and I’m creating new exercises as I go along. Because my goals involve muscle retention and building, I also plan to buy a few choice weights — that is, as soon as they’re available again owing to the COVID-19 exercise equipment shortage. Since March, when I returned to training 100% at home, I’ve finally been able to hold a handstand for longer than 10 seconds – and I’ve been working on handstands for three years! My splits have improved dramatically; my muscle-ups are finally getting somewhere; and my glutes are developing better than before, now that I can do publicly unacceptable glute exercises without shame. Although I love having access to the many heavy weights available at full-scale gyms, at home, I’m much more relaxed, at peace, and I have no judgers, onlookers, commentators, think-they-know-it-all-ers adding an air of negativity to my workout. Working out at home can be liberating, fun, and just as effective as training at a gym. When I work out at home, I can watch a movie and laugh out loud; I never forget my intra-workout drink (the kitchen is nearby); there are no haters, judgmental onlookers, or self-proclaimed know-it-alls critiquing me from a distance. Most of all, my focus is 100% on myself. So, no, a gym is not required to exercise effectively. People can work out anywhere. However, a lack of certain types of equipment can make it more difficult and inconvenient to reach some goals. Sure, many people advocate picking up random objects at home to use as weights, but that can be impractical and even dangerous because weights sold specifically for exercise are designed to be safe to grip and store away. If you’d like ideas on how to build your own home gym, read: “Best Home Gym Equipment for COVID-19 Self-Isolation.”
Can You Lose Weight Without Exercise? - Written by Aj of moccasinguru.com Losing weight without exercise requires a calorie deficit. You need to consume fewer calories than your body uses every day. The right filling foods and getting rid of water weight can get you well on your way to weight loss extreme and even losing a pound a day. I’ve always struggled with my weight, and it started impacting my life. Clothes fit strangely because of a disproportionate belly. Strangers sneered and looked at me like a lazy low-life. I had to make a change, but I find workouts difficult, and frankly, I haven’t always got the time. So it got me thinking, can you lose weight without exercise? It turns out you can. How to Lose Weight Without Exercise The process of losing weight is a simple one—on paper. If it were as easy as I’ll make it out to be, everybody would be stick-thin, and I wouldn’t be writing this article. It’s putting it into practice that causes problems. How Weight Loss Works The premise is simple. When you burn more calories than you consume, you lose weight. That doesn’t sound too difficult, does it? Consuming Calories Every day you consume food containing calories. According to the US Department of Health, the average adult man needs 2,000–3,000 calories, while adult women need 1,600–2,400. But you see, it’s not that simple. How many calories you need depends on copious variables. Sex, age, weight and activity level are the main culprits that make caloric intake needs confusing. Other factors might include genetics or underlying conditions, but I’ll let you discuss that with a doctor or nutritionist if you need to. Most people will be able to figure out how many calories they need from a helpful chart or a calorie calculator. Once you figure out your required daily intake, then your journey to the fat loss extreme can begin. Creating a Calorie Deficit Now you know how many calories you need to maintain your weight, it’s easy to go on. To lose weight, simply eat less than you need! One pound of fat is about 3,500 calories. That’s more than you need in a day—so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to lose a pound a day without exercise. By this logic, burning 3,500 calories gets rid of a pound of fat. You don’t need some magical negative-calorie food to shed it; you just need to be smart and create a calorie deficit. How to Create a Calorie Deficit You might think you’ve discovered a goldmine with this article. All you have to do is create a calorie deficit! It sounds easy. It’s even easier when you consider how easy it is to burn calories without exercise. Burning Calories Pretty much everything you do burns calories, such as walking, standing and sitting, and sleeping. Even thinking. Yes, thinking. Doing anything that requires energy will burn calories. Your metabolism converts the calories in your food into energy. Thus, burning through them to keep your body functioning. Losing calories while thinking seems entirely obscure, but I’ll explain it to you. Research shows the brain uses 20 percent of the body’s resting metabolic rate, or RMR. It’s sometimes referred to as BRM, basal metabolic rate. RMR varies from person to person, but what it is is simple. Your RMR determines how many calories you burn per day. And considering thinking uses up so much of it … yes, it burns calories. But you can’t think your way to thin. It’s just a contributing factor showing how easy it is to burn calories, even with the simplest activities. Creating the Deficit Now you have the following pieces of information: How many calories you need to consume daily. How many calories it takes to burn a pound of fat. How easy it is to burn calories. The connection is simple. You need the calories you need because that’s how many your body usually uses. But you can survive on fewer calories than your body uses every day—you have body fat. Your body can convert these fat stores into energy. Let’s assume you need 2,500 calories a day to maintain your weight. Simply cutting your daily intake by 500 calories means you’re taking in 3,500 fewer calories a week. Therefore you’re burning a pound of fat a week by doing no exercise and eating less. People with more body fat who need, let’s say 3,000 calories a day, may be able to cut even more. Cutting 1,000 calories a day means you’re cutting 7,000 a week—losing 2 pounds a week. I don’t recommend consuming less than 1,000 calories a day, though. Try to keep your deficit to 500–750 a day, regardless of weight. This will ensure you stay safe, healthy and you aren’t depriving yourself of anything. How to Cut the Calories If you want to do this the slow and steady way, it shouldn’t be too difficult to slash the 500–750 calories. Or 1,000, like I said, if you need or consume 3,000 or more each day. Your biggest enemy will be your will-power. I see ice cream, I see pizza, and I want to eat the entire tub or box. On the logic that I’m consuming 2,000 or even 1,500 calories a day, I could do this—but couldn’t eat much more that day. Cutting calories at a basic level isn’t about what you eat. It’s about how much. It’s about self-control and will power. You can still eat everything you’ve been eating up until now—just trim it. A smaller bowl of cereal. Two slices of toast, not three. One slice of pizza, not two. Half a cup of ice cream, not a whole tub of Ben and Jerry’s. But it’s all easier said than done, I’m afraid. Yet if you have the right mindset and motivation, you should be able to achieve it with some simple changes. Replace sugary fruit juice with water, tea or coffee. Cut out the snacks. Don’t eat when you’re bored. Only eat until you’re full. Count calories—round up or down, don’t get obsessive—and track your eating habits. You might start to miss your daily glass of orange juice or soda. You may feel dissatisfied with one less scoop or mashed potatoes. You may even feel hungry if you haven’t been eating the right foods. That’s another thing that makes this so tricky. If you haven’t been eating filling foods, cutting calories can make you feel hungry more often. Now cutting calories doesn’t seem so easy—for some people, it’ll involve a hefty dietary or lifestyle change. Foods That Aid Weight Loss Your impending lifestyle change doesn’t involve a gym membership and jogging shoes, don’t worry. The answer to “can you lose weight without exercise” is still yes. It just won’t be as easy as you thought from my initial description. Cutting the calories and losing weight forgoing exercise involves eating the right foods. The ones that keep you full for longer and give your body the energy it needs. You can eat less of them, meaning fewer calories, for a bigger nutritional benefit. Filling Foods If you want to stay full while eating less, there are a few ingredients to consider cooking with. They’re low calorie, nutritious and should help with that nifty deficit you’re after. Some of these low-calorie filling foods include: Oats—oatmeal, oatmeal cookies, oat milk, oat flour Greek yogurt Soup Berries—strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, alone or in smoothies Eggs Popcorn—try air-popped popcorn with no butter or salt Chia seeds—excellent on oatmeal or in smoothies Fish Cottage cheese Potatoes—try to go light on butter and cream, but seasoning is always a must Lean meat—chicken, turkey, even red meat with low fat content Legumes Watermelon With this list of healthy, nutritious, filling yet low-calorie foods, you should create a deficit in no time. Zero-Calorie Foods I doubt there are any foods that contain no calories at all. However, there are some foods where you burn as many calories digesting them as they contain. Some people seem to think negative-calorie foods exist. Your body burns more calories digesting the foods than they contain. However, many others disprove this theory. Really, there’s little knowledge on the negative/zero-calorie diet to go off of right now. Hopefully one day, we’ll have an answer we can all agree upon. That being said, there are a few low-calorie foods where most people do burn the calories off digesting them. Here are some of them: Tomatoes Apples Carrots Watermelon Broccoli Grapefruit Celery Cucumbers. Lettuce Carrots Arugula Beets Asparagus Cabbage Brussel sprouts Cauliflower Garlic—great in those filling potatoes! These foods have high water content, and water has no calories. That’s what makes them so low-calorie in the first place. For example, 100 grams of celery has only 14 calories and contains 95.43 grams of water. So, with a change in diet and/or lifestyle to include these foods, the fat should start to melt away. A healthy 1–2 pounds every week. How to Lose a Pound a Day Maybe a pound or two a week isn’t going to cut it for you. I understand completely—I was the same. Wouldn’t it be nice to lose a pound a day instead? Well I’ll tell you this—it’d be tough. Especially without exercise. Spend an entire day panting at the gym, and it’s definitely doable, especially if you don’t eat much. But that may not be good for you, and that’s probably not what you want. Instead of walking you through some fad diet claiming to burn a pound of fat a day, I’ll tell you the truth about it. Sometimes you can burn a pound of fat a day—but it’s not going to last. When Losing a Pound a Day Is Possible When you’re just starting your new diet, you may lose more than the 1–2 pounds a week. This may be done with little effort on your part. Your body stores water. Glycogen, the energy your body stores, is bound to this water. When you create a calorie deficit, the body goes straight for those glycogen stores. This causes your body to release the water weight you’re carrying. Once you’ve burned through all that water, then your body moves on to using fat. Now I’m no scientist, but I’m pretty sure it’s easier to lose water than burn through fat. If you’re carrying a lot of water weight, you might have some extreme weight loss in the first week. Even as much as a pound a day. Unfortunately, this isn’t sustainable as the water has to run out at some point. Why You Carry Water Weight Carbs You may be carrying extra water weight due to carbohydrate consumption. That’s why you hear so many people swear off carbs when on a diet. But there are good carbs and bad carbs, and your body needs the good carbs. Glycogen is made heavily of these carbohydrates. And glycogen pulls in water. So, the more carbs you consume, the more glycogen can hoard water. Be careful with your carb intake to keep the water weight down. Try and aim for the good carbs, in foods such as: Vegetables Whole fruits Whole grains Peanuts Lentils Kidney beans Seeds Nuts Salt Salt is another culprit of water weight. The more sodium there is in your diet, the more water weight may crop up. Decreasing salt shouldn’t be too difficult. Don’t use it to over-season. Perhaps switch to garlic if you like that flavor. I feel it adds so much more to a meal, in taste and nutritional value. Cut salt out of any recipes where it doesn’t add much to the finished product. For example, when I make a small pizza base out of oat flour, I go without salt and oil. It tastes and holds up the same, sans the sodium. Reducing salt in your diet is a guaranteed way to lose water weight. In the beginning, maybe up to a pound a day. Easy Exercises to Help You Lose Weight You can lose weight without lifting a finger, as I’ve...
Is Walking Good Exercise? - Written by Aj of moccasinguru.com Walking is your body’s natural movement. To count as exercise, you should aim to walk at a brisk pace for about 30 minutes, at least four times a week. Pay attention to your posture and footwear choices, and always warm up and cool down after your walks. I’ll go through some of the benefits of including walks into your daily routine. You’ll also need some pointers on the kinds of shoes you should wear on your walks. On top of running, you can also add some other exercises to help increase your heart rate and burn calories. Benefits of Walking While many people wouldn’t don’t consider walking as exercise, it certainly benefits you in many ways, both physically and mentally. Physical Condition Walking at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes, five times a week is the minimum recommended amount of exercise. In particular, walking a longer distance at a faster pace will provide even more benefits. People who walk regularly were found in a study to have a 31 percent decrease in their risk for cardiovascular diseases. Other benefits include: The stress release from walking will help you sleep better. Your overall health will improve as you lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. Like any exercise, it helps you maintain muscle tone and bone density. Walking will also help you burn some calories. Depending on your age and weight, a brisk 30-minute walk can help you burn an average of 129 more calories a day. If you’re also following a healthy diet, this can add up in the long run and help you lose weight. Mental Well-being If you take your walks as a moment to get in contact with yourself, you’ll get benefits that go far beyond the physical impact of the exercise. Exercise at even a moderate intensity can help reduce stress and anxiety and even improve cognitive function. You can use walking to get an active start to your day and a moment to focus on your goals for the day. You can also take a walk at the end of the day to unwind and release stress. How to Turn Walking into Exercise Walking is a natural movement of your body. It’s low-impact and meditative and helps you crank up the steps on your Fitbit. If you don’t do any exercise, starting a walking habit will certainly be an improvement for your health. It’s also a lot easier for your joints than running, especially if you’re overweight or have underlying problems. This is what makes it a good way to get active for beginners. But for such a low impact, is it even exercise? Yes, if you do it correctly. While some may consider walking an inferior form of movement, it’s a good way to burn calories and add activity. However, walking as an exercise doesn’t mean peacefully strolling around. To be an effective exercise, walking needs to be brisk. This means you have to be a little winded and feel your heart rate going up. Your pace should be fast enough so that it would be hard for you to talk while you’re walking. How Long Does it Take to Walk a Mile? You should be able to walk a mile in fifteen minutes for it to count as brisk. If you’re not able to do this at first, take your time and work on increasing your speed. Give yourself a goal to get a minute or 30 seconds out of your mile every time you go out. You’ll get to a 15-minute mile in no time. Good Walking Form The right form and speed are the most important things to get the biggest benefit out of your walks. Warm up your muscles at a slower pace before starting and cool down after you’ve finished. Always stretch after your walks to maintain and increase your mobility. Back: Keep your back straight, your shoulders back and your head high—that means no looking at your phone! Shoulders: Try to relax your shoulders and keep your arms slightly bent and swinging freely. Breathing: Focus on your breathing correctly, taking profound inhales. Feet: Try to walk as neutrally as possible, with your toes pointing forward. Land on the heel at first and then let your weight move naturally toward your toes. Engage: Keep your core and your legs and glutes engaged. Walking Equipment Walking for exercise doesn’t require much equipment to be effective, but you may need to pay attention to your clothes and shoes. You can also invest in some poles to try out Nordic walking. Comfortable Clothes Make sure you’re wearing comfortable clothes that don’t inhibit your movement or cause other types of discomfort. Your regular workout clothes will be fine, as long as they’re stretchy and don’t have seams that will make you chafe. Rather than wearing your regular comfy clothes, go for specific lightweight activewear. These offer protection from the elements while keeping you warm and will wick moisture away. A Good Pair of Shoes Walking is free, but you might want to invest in the most basic piece of equipment before you get started: shoes. The right shoes are the most important thing to take into consideration when you’re starting a walking hobby. The first thing is to wear shoes that are made for exercise and are comfortable. They need to have enough support and cushioning to help you get through many miles of walking without injury. Running Shoes vs. Walking Shoes Running shoes aren’t your best bet for walking practice. The two patterns of movement impact your foot differently, so you should give your foot the support it needs for the specific movement. Running will impact your heels more as they’re the first point of contact with the ground. Walking puts more pressure on the middle of your foot. That’s why running shoes have more cushioning in the heel, whereas walking shoes usually focus more on arch support. Finding Your Perfect Shoe Depending on your previous underlying conditions, you might need to find a shoe that adapts specifically for them. For example, people with flat feet need a little more support for the arch. If your arches are very high, you may need to balance them out to correct the alignment. This will help keep your ankles, knees and hips safe from unnecessary strain. If you have plantar fasciitis, you may need more cushioning in the heel to keep it slightly elevated. Spend some time figuring out whether you have flat or high arches or if your gait is neutral or if you tend to pronate. Then, make sure you’re wearing shoes that are right for you. Nordic Walking Poles Nordic walking can be helpful for people who are rehabilitating from injury. It can give some assistance in your upper body movement when walking and prevent your shoulders from curving forward. This is especially important for older adults. Nordic walking also helps you burn more calories since it gets your whole body moving. You’ll be using 80–90 percent of your muscles by engaging the upper body instead of 50 with normal walking. This helps you burn up to 67 percent more calories every time you work out. When you start with Nordic walking, make sure you’re using the right technique: The poles should be kept low, instead of ahead of your body. You should slightly swing your arms forward and back. Walking for Weight Loss Walking can be very therapeutic and a great way to aid you in weight loss. Keep these pointers in mind to get the most out of your walking workouts. Calories The basic equation of weight loss is that the calories you ingest need to be lower than the calories you use in a day. Your calorie expenditure depends on many things, from your weight to your age and general activity level. According to Health Department guidelines, an adult woman would need around 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day. A man would need from 2,000 to 3,000 calories a day. You can evaluate the calories you’ve burned with exercise with many apps or online calculators. Keep in mind that these are always rough estimates according to your body weight, as people have very different metabolisms. Also, remember that weight loss is dependent on a healthy and balanced diet. Half an hour of walking won’t help you burn through hundreds of extra calories, so make sure your diet is in check. Difficulty Try to challenge yourself with your pace. Increase your velocity slowly when you get more comfortable. Another way to increase the intensity of your walk is to choose a terrain you’re not as familiar with. Walking on the beach will add some real difficulty to your workout. Hiking up a hill will also help you burn extra calories and target your leg and glute muscles more. Intervals Doing intervals is also very beneficial for your weight loss goals and can help you improve your aerobic capacity faster. You could end up burning 20 percent more calories by simply changing your pace. This is also great if you’re having a hard time keeping up with a faster pace for longer periods. Try increasing your speed for a couple of minutes at a time and then relaxing it for another minute or two. It’s good if you can add these intervals to your walks a couple of times a week to really see improvements. Treadmill Walking If you’re walking indoors on a treadmill, you can easily make it more intense and add to the calorie burn. You can use different speeds and adaptable inclination to make your exercise more varied and interesting. Try starting slow and gradually increase the inclination on the treadmill to a degree you can handle for a couple of minutes. Then go back, give yourself a breath, and repeat. You can also try some intervals at a higher speed. Keep in Mind One important thing before you head to the treadmill, however, is not to hold onto the supports. You’ll end up relying too much on them and even putting some of your weight on top of the handles. This will not only make the exercise less effective but will also affect your posture in the long run. Keep your chin up and your arms swinging from side to side just like you would outdoors. If you need to grab the handles to give yourself a breath, only do it for a couple of seconds. Curved Manual Treadmills You might have seen the curved manual treadmills at your gym in recent years. They’re non-motorized, which means you move the treadmill with your steps. Since they’re concave, each step you take propels the movement of the treadmill. What’s great about this device is that it significantly ups the intensity of your exercise. It helps reduce the impact on your joints, while at the same time making it harder for your muscles to keep up. You can also make it more difficult by turning on the resistance of the treadmill. These kinds of treadmills can be a bit hard to master at first, especially with the balance. Ask a gym instructor for help, and lightly hold on to the railing until you’re sure you’re balanced. Overall, a curve treadmill can be a nice addition to your walking routine. Try to switch it up between a normal treadmill and walking outside to avoid affecting your gait. Other Exercises to Aid With Walking Getting in some muscle-strengthening exercises will help you have more power in your legs and improve your endurance and speed. It will also help your general wellbeing and, if done correctly, keep you injury-free. Another perk for building muscle is that it will help you burn more calories. While fat is more of a passive component, muscle needs calories to maintain density. This is why your body will burn more calories, even when resting when you have more muscle. Legs: Do basic squats or lunges to improve the strength in...




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