The Best Way to Tone Your Butt for Hot Summer Buns

03161801Here comes summer…and shorts and miniskirts and swimsuits. Of course that means hitting the gym hard for the push to present well on the beach or when you make your first poolside appearance of the season. Still hot this year, as it has been for the last few years, is a firm, well-shaped backside, according to the May/June 2015 issue of “Muscle and Fitness Hers.” Some feel the best way to tone your butt and achieve a booty lift is by having body fat redistributed through a surgical procedure called a Brazilian Butt Lift; others have invested in a specialized workout program bearing the same name.

Working out is the best way to tone your butt and reduce fat, and it’s the technique that will garner lasting results. Though you can’t spot-reduce or literally move fat from one  area of your body to enhance another when working out, high intensity interval training routines (HIIT) or circuit training workouts that focus on your glutes and hamstrings will build muscle where you want it while reducing body fat overall.

DIY Lifting Butt Workouts

If you want to invest the money in hiring a trainer from Brazil or purchasing a “special, secret” workout to build your booty, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s your money. However, if you already know the secret exercises that are the best way to tone your butt by targeting your glutes and supporting muscles, you can spend the cash on summer wear that accentuates your newly toned hindquarters. This is no time for men to tune out. Flat, baggy 501 cut-offs or cargo shorts on a guy are just as unappealing as saggy or over-stuffed ones are on a girl. Get busy with these seven exercises to cultivate a sexy gluteus maximus that will have the opposite sex doing double-takes.

Lunges – you’ll feel your glutes engaging when you perform a number of lunge exercises, from walking lunges to weighted lunges or explosive lunges, as “Fitness” magazine suggests. Women’s Health and Fitness recommends a Lower Half Lunge, a variation that also works to  tone core muscles while contracting your glutes and getting your heart rate up for a nice fat burning workout.

Targit Squats (2)

Some find it easier to maintain proper form when squatting with resistance bands instead of free weights.

Squats – squats are another glute-centric exercise that also recruit your hamstrings as stabilizers and get your quads working as synergists, making them a terrific and effective butt lifting exercise. Maintaining proper form while squatting is essential for avoiding injury, and that’s why some people steer clear of this exercise altogether. However, you can safely perform squats using just your bodyweight or using band-based equipment such as the TargitFit Trainer.

Kickbacks – if you have access to the weight lifting equipment, rear kickbacks are killer for working your glutes. Alternatively, you can forego the equipment and weights and use gravity to your advantage by performing Heel Sky Raises.

Reverse Hyperextensionreverse hyperextensions do require equipment, but it doesn’t have to be specialized. If you belong to a gym, go ahead and take advantage of what they have to offer. Alternatively, any raised flat surface at home such as a countertop, can be used to support your torso to allow you to lift your legs straight behind you for this glute-targeting, butt lifting  exercise.

Dumbbell Deadliftdeadlifts work your hamstrings, the muscles located right below your glutes. Hand weights, dumbbells or even gallon jugs filled with water can be used to add weight and an element of resistance to this exercise.

Lying, standing, sitting — all leg curls tone and strengthen your hamstrings to lift and support your glutes.
Photo via ScottHermanFitness/YouTube

Leg Curls – any exercise in which you bend your knee and press back against resistance will build and strengthen your hamstrings to provide a nice foundation to press your glutes upward. Gyms typically have a number of leg curl machines, but resistance bands are effective for leg curls, too.

Hip Moves – don’t forget to work your hips as part of a strong foundation that lifts your butt. Lying side hip abductions and side-lying clam exercises are effective and don’t require weight lifting equipment.

The Plan

Use a stationary bike or jog in place between each butt lifting exercise to turn butt workouts into high intensity interval training routines (HIIT workouts).
Photo via POPSUGAR Fitness/YouTube

The best way to tone your butt and engineer your butt lift is by putting these exercises into practice at least once a week, either on their own or by adding them to your leg day. If you do them more than once a week, just allow 72 hours between butt workouts so your muscles can rest and recoup. You can perform them as circuit training workouts, doing 10 to 12 reps of one exercise before immediately moving to the next exercise, and making sure to go through the entire circuit three times. Allow 60 seconds for rest between each circuit. Alternatively, you can do them as HIIT or high intensity interval training routines. Do one exercise as many times as you can in 90 seconds, then jog in place or get on a stationary bike or treadmill to keep moving but at a more moderate pace for 30 seconds. Then move to the next exercise, continuing the 90/30-intense/moderate intervals until you’ve done each exercise three times. You’ll feel the burn, for sure and, by performing your butt workouts as a circuit or HIIT, you’ll have the boogie back in your butt in no time.

11 Tricks for Sticking With Your Diet

03081805How many times have you pledged to go on a diet? “I’ve got to do something!” It might surprise you to know you’re not the only one uttering those words – personal trainers, doctors, and health club personnel hear them multiple times a day. Unfortunately, starting a diet and sticking with a diet are two different things. That’s because there are so many issues that can derail your resolve and kick you off the course to a slimmer physique.

There isn’t a sure-fire, magical way to ensure you’ll stick to your diet long enough to reach your goal. What works for one person might not work for someone else. However, you can take advantage of others’ experiences. You can try any or all of these 11 tricks for sticking with your diet. Keep the ones that work best for you and use them to build a personalized diet regimen that you’ll not only stick with but will deliver the results you want.

1. Change your attitude toward food. When it comes to diets, most of the battle is in your head. Psychology Today advises changing your mindset about eating and dieting before you even start. Don’t stop at accepting that you can either be thinner OR you can eat whatever you want anytime you want to. Also recognize that food is fuel, not a delicious, comforting solution when you’re feeling lonely, bored, or stressed.

2. Don’t go on a “diet.” Instead, develop an “eating plan.” The difference is mostly in the mental perception you have. There’s a reason they say, “DIET is a four-letter word.” Everyone loathes what the word “diet” represents, but an eating plan has a positive connotation and isn’t as overwhelming.

03081807While you’re at it, don’t hop on board with the latest diet fad just because everyone and    their unfortunate dogs are doing it. The better option is to start by making healthier choices and allowing yourself to eat from all of the four food groups instead of cutting out all fat, all sugar, all wheat products, or all red meat. Unless you have a health concern that requires you avoid certain foods, you really do need to eat everything, but in moderation.

030818033. List your reasons for going on a diet. Actually write them down and then read over them every morning, every evening, and every time you are tempted to chuck the whole plan and go back to eating everything you get a craving for. Whether you’re dieting for health reasons or to lose weight—or both—it helps to be reminded of why you’re doing it.

030818024. Set realistic goals. Healthline points out that setting the bar too high when embarking on a diet—losing 15 pounds in two weeks, for example—will sabotage your plans, guaranteed. It’s another mind trick, of sorts. A study published by Obesity Research showed that subjects who expected to drop a lot of weight fast tended to give up on a diet more easily and earlier than those who set realistic goals.

So, what’s reasonable? LIVESTRONG says that, because everyone’s bodies and metabolisms are different, it can vary from ½ to 2 pounds a week. If you stay conservative and expect the lower end of the scale, then any weight loss more than that is a bonus. Also, divide up your overall goal into short-term, mini goals. You’ll reach them faster, and the satisfaction and excitement of that will bolster your confidence and build momentum to stick with your diet for the long haul.

5. Get rid of temptations. Clearing out all of the junk food and other items that aren’t on your diet is one of the best ways to ensure you won’t cheat. If those three pints of Ben and Jerry’s aren’t calling to you from the freezer, you won’t be likely to go on a midnight binge.

030818086. Buy a cookbook. Or search the Internet for new, healthier recipes and build your own cookbook. According to MSN, having a variety of healthy meal options on hand not only adds an element of fun to a diet, but it also keeps you from getting bored from eating the same, bland foods. Look for healthier versions of things you love to eat, snacks and meals like Rosie Dailey developed for Oprah, or keep an eye out for recipes that use herbs and spices to make them flavorful and satisfying.

7. Eat more often. No, that’s not a typo. It’s good diet advice. Spread your allotted calories out over the day instead of stuffing yourself full of them in three meals. If you’re eating five or six times a day, you won’t feel deprived. It will seem like you’re always eating instead of never eating, and it won’t even feel like you’re on a diet.

030818068. Recruit a diet buddy. Going on a diet with your spouse or a friend can help make it easier to stick with it. You can support each other when things get tough, and you’ll both have someone to be accountable to, as well. Weigh in together, plan meals together, and be sure to check in with each other at least once a day to report on your progress.



9. Consult a professional. A dietician, your family doctor, a counselor at your health club—any one of those fits the description and will be able to help you come up with a healthy, doable eating plan. Don’t stop with just one visit, either. Check in every few months to report your progress and get help tweaking the plan to make sure it keeps working for you.

10. Incorporate exercise with changing your eating habits. Supplementing a diet with exercise is an ultra-effective way to kickstart weight loss. Plus, studies have shown that when people start working out in conjunction with a change in eating habits, they’re more likely to stick with both than people who start one or the other.

11. Go easy on yourself. Recognize that it took you a long time to put the weight on and that it will take some time to get it off. Celebrate the little victories and don’t beat yourself up over the small slip-ups and plateaus. Every morning offers a new opportunity to do things differently, so take advantage of that.

03081801P.S. Celebrating the little victories can and probably should take the form of a cheat day, or at least a cheat meal. It gives you something to look forward to and you won’t feel so deprived. Plus, a frozen yogurt or other treat will taste that much sweeter when it’s a reward for sticking to your diet and reaching a goal.

Want to Build Muscle and Strength? Go Nuts!

While it is general knowledge that nuts are a good source of protein, you may not be aware that bodybuilders rely on nuts, off-season as well as when they’re preparing for a meet. For pros and amateurs alike, the muscle building secret relies on nuts that carry specific benefits. You’ll see future posts that focus on other types of nuts and their benefits but today’s spotlight is on an exceptionally super nut: the Brazil nut. Let’s argue about whether they’re actually a nut or a seed. Instead, let’s talk about the ways Brazil nuts are awesome.

Health Benefits for All

Although Brazil nuts are one of the best protein sources for muscle growth, they have basic health benefits for everyone, whether or not they’re trying to build muscle. We’ll focus on some very specific nutritional elements of Brazil nuts in just a moment, but their overall nutritional components work together to help protect against heart disease, some types of cancers and can help alleviate anxiety and the symptoms of asthma, AIDS, and skin disorders, according to The Daily Meal. reveals that Brazil nuts are rich in magnesium, too, which promotes the absorption of calcium to keep teeth and bones healthy and strong.

Perfect Protein

Many foods that have the reputation of being some of the best sources of protein are actually incomplete proteins because they contain only a handful of essential amino acids. You need to eat other types of proteins with them to gain the benefits of protein to help muscle growth. However, in his book “Laugh With Health,” health and nutrition expert Manfred Urs Koch points out that Brazil nuts are among the best protein for building muscle because they’re a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids:

  • lysine
  • methionine
  • tryptophan
  • phenylalanine
  • isoleucine
  • leucine
  • arginine
  • threonine
  • valine

Considering bodybuilders spend small fortunes on supplements for muscle growth to get these amino acids, it’s easy to see why the Brazil nut is a valuable muscle building secret.

Although many nuts are relatively low in methionine, Brazil nuts happen to be particularly high in that essential amino acid. Methionine and arginine make up two-thirds of the bodybuilding staple creatine. Additionally, arginine is a key ingredient in the majority of nitric oxide supplements and increases growth hormone levels, according to Muscle & Strength.

What About Fat and Calories?

03011803Nutrition and You claims that Brazil nuts are high in calories, but if you consider that one ounce (about six to eight nuts, according to Cleveland Clinic) equals one serving, that serving carries less than 190 calories. Not too shabby for a quick snack that provides energy and protein and will help curb your hunger if you’re dieting. So here’s the rub: most of those calories are derived from fats. HOWEVER, keep in mind that Brazil nuts happen to be high in monounsaturated fats, the “good” fats. You know, they’re the ones that help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and help increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol. The key, as with any food, is keeping control of the calories. Shape reminds readers that your snack of Brazil nuts should be included in your daily calorie count instead of in addition to it. What’s more, restricting carbs in your diet means you can be a little more lax with fat intake, especially if it’s a “good” fat.

The Selenium Issue


No need to binge on Brazils. An ounce or less a day is more than enough to benefit you.

Brazil nuts are especially high in selenium, another bonus for all athletes, especially anyone who is building muscle or dieting. points out that athletes and dieters run a risk of nutritional deficiency. Selenium promotes glucose absorption, so it’s essential for diabetics. Additionally, selenium is vital for thyroid health, and you know how important a functioning thyroid is for metabolism, energy, cardiovascular health, and weight control.

There’s always a catch and, in the case of selenium, you can have too much of a good thing. If you do any research, you’ll find warnings of selenium poisoning. It’s a serious issue. A scan of the National Institutes of Health‘s selenium information page turns up a warning that reads like a drug company disclaimer: “…common signs of selenium poisoning include brittleness or loss of hair and nails, skin lesions, nausea,  diarrhea, fatigue…acute selenium poisoning can cause myocardial infarction, kidney and/or cardiac failure and, in some cases, death.”

Remember that those issues will only arise if you eat too many Brazil nuts. Stick to one serving or less each day, and you’ll garner all the benefits without the risk.

5 Reasons Why Tennis is a Great Way to Stay Fit and Healthy

This week, TargitFit is pleased to bring you an informative fitness article by Anna Kucirkova:

What is the absolute best sport for staying healthy?

Many people would say running, biking, swimming, or basketball. After all, these sports all involve high amounts of cardio sustained over long periods of time. Plus, these sports have a huge cultural presence and are the first things that come to mind when thinking of exercise.

But would it surprise you to know that out of all the sports, tennis, squash, and badminton have been scientifically proven as the most effective ways to stay healthy?02221803

Analyzing a recent study of English and Scottish adults, the Daily Mail notes:

The racquet sports reduce the risk of death by 47 per cent compared to doing nothing, researchers discovered.

The study, which looked at the impact of different sports on health of people with an average age of 51, found swimming cut the risk of death by 28 per cent, aerobics by 27 per cent and cycling by 15 per cent.

In other words, if you want to stay healthy longer, get out on that tennis court!

The study analyzed health surveys (covering approximately 80,000 people) in both England and Scotland from from 1994-2008 to arrive at their conclusions.

Of course, this does raise some very specific questions, such as:

  • Why are racquet sports better than other sports?
  • Are there disadvantages to other sports like running that aren’t found in tennis, squash, and badminton?

In this post, we’re going to explain exactly why tennis is the best sport for staying in shape.

#1 – High Intensity Intervals



All my life I’d woken up to tennis, tennis, tennis. Even if I don’t go to practice, I’m thinking about it all day. – Serena Williams

Unlike sports such as running and cycling, tennis involves a massive amount of quick sprints. You cut back and forth across the court, lunging for shots, driving forehands down the baseline, and even sprawling to make backhand saves.

This rally between Nadal and Djokovic is a prime example:


This type of intense activity followed by brief breaks is often called “high intensity intervals” and is regularly used by top athletes to maintain peak performance.

As Harvard Health Publishing notes:

“Tennis great Bjorn Borg allegedly described a tennis match as “a thousand tiny sprints.” During a match, the frequent short bursts of high-intensity activity, interspersed with longer periods of lighter, less vigorous movements, are a perfect example of interval training. This workout strategy — which can be adapted to almost any type of exercise — seems to be a good way to boost cardiovascular fitness, according to exercise experts.”

High intensity interval training (HIIT) has been consistently proven to be more effective for burning fat and losing weight than sustained cardio like running. Yes, both tennis and running elevate the heart rate for an extended period of time, but when it comes to burning off harmful belly fat, HIIT is a better solution.

#2 – Full Body Workout

Tennis is a perfect combination of violent action taking place in an atmosphere of total tranquillity. – Billie Jean King

Sports like cycling and running provide workouts for very specific areas of the body, predominantly in the legs and hips. While it’s crucial to exercise these muscles, tennis provides an intense workout for the entire body.

Consider all that your body is doing while playing tennis. When you serve, you drive upwards with your legs, torque at the waist, and launch your arm forward at an incredible speed. When you run across the court to return a ball, you’re working your thighs, calves, arms, and shoulders. A backhand utilizes your triceps and forearms.

Vogue magazine, which is much more known for fashion than sports, comments:

“With its emphasis on quick, explosive movements, dynamic strength, endurance, and agility, tennis is perhaps the original cross-training workout—a fact we’ll be reminded of when watching the world’s top athletes crush 140-mile-per-hour serves and send balls zipping down the line at the U.S. Open over the next few weeks. One look at their powerful frames proves that while high-intensity interval training studios and dance-cardio sessions generate plenty of buzz among fitness enthusiasts these days, there’s still little that compares to the total-body sculpting benefits—or the sheer satisfaction—of a well-played tennis set.”

If even Vogue concedes that tennis is the ultimate body workout, there’s probably some truth to the matter.

#3 – Fewer Repetitive Movements



When you do something best in life, you don’t really want to give that up – and for me it’s tennis. – Roger Federer

Some sports are known for injuries due to specific repetitive movements. Baseball pitchers, for example, often encounter shoulder problems due to the stress of throwing a ball 100 times per game. Runners struggle with shin splints, joint pain, and foot issues because of the constant pounding associated with jogging mile after mile.

While tennis certainly does have some repeated movements, such as the serve, it also varies significantly. Rallies involve striking the ball from many different angles, sprinting back and forth, and often lunging. These movements have a cross-training effect, strengthening all the muscles and preventing injuries that come with repetitive movements.

Additionally, tennis can actually improve your bone density. As Health Fitness Revolution notes:

“Playing tennis isn’t good for your muscles alone; it has a positive impact on your bones as well. Exercising regularly can increase your peak bone mass and can slow the rate of bone mass loss over time. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), bone mass peaks around age 30 and begins to decline after that. You can maximize your bone mass prior to that age through exercise, and continuing to exercise after 30 can slow the rate of bone loss. The NIH names tennis as one of the weight-bearing activities well suited to building strong bones.”

If you want to avoid the stress injuries common with other sports, tennis is a great alternative.

#4 – Flexibility and Coordination

I submit that tennis is the most beautiful sport there is and also the most demanding. It requires body control, hand-eye coordination, quickness, flat-out speed, endurance, and that weird mix of caution and abandon we call courage. It also requires smarts. Just one single shot in one exchange in one point of a high-level match is a nightmare of mechanical variables. – David Foster Wallace

Tennis requires an astonishing amount of flexibility and coordination. If you play, you’ll be forced to put your body in positions it isn’t used to, stretching and loosening your muscles.

These astonishing shots show just how much flexibility and coordination is required:


Because of this, you should make a concerted effort to stretch before and after each game.

Tennis also demands that you coordinate your muscles precisely. You need to focus on the ball and control all your muscles as you strike it. If you waver for even a moment, it can be the difference between an ace and a fault. Practicing tennis helps you develop coordination in ways that you didn’t know were possible.

It also strengthens your ability to intensely focus on a single goal for a short period of time. The moment you lose focus, the ball zips by you or you strike it incorrectly.

#5 – Social Interaction



What is the single most important quality in a tennis champion? I would have to say desire, staying in there and winning matches when you are not playing that well. – John McEnroe

Some sports, by their very nature, can be solitary. Long distance running. Weight lifting. Swimming.

Tennis on the other hand, always requires at least one other person to play. This social interaction creates a community aspect to the game, allowing you to deepen friendships, get a workout, and get some intense competition all at the same time.

Because humans are social creatures, interaction is deeply healthy, both for our mental and emotional well being.

Tennis is a fantastic sport both for the body and the mind.


Few sports compare to tennis. It combines the intense action of a boxing match with the elegant movements of a ballet. It brings together intense speed and precise movement in shocking ways. And it allows us to enjoy a game while also getting an incredibly healthy workout.

There will always be a place for sports such as swimming, cycling, and running. But if it’s health you want, tennis may be your ticket.

Anna Kucirkova speaks 3 languages and has a passion for kids and writing. While she has been to many places in Europe and SE Asia, she still wants to explore the rest of the world.

This article first appeared on

Simple Things To Know When Living Alone

This week, TargitFit is pleased to bring you a post by John Hawthorne:

02161801While many people enjoy the solitude of living alone, others, who unexpectedly find themselves in an empty home, can face a difficult transition period. Aside from simply missing the company of another human being, living alone means you don’t have another person to help with certain chores.

Tasks that you used to do with another person, such as folding bed sheets, you now have to tackle on your own. This can be a particularly tough challenge for older individuals who may not have the strength to complete certain routine tasks. For example, routine tasks such as carrying out the trash or dusting high places can be an extreme challenge for some older adults.

Surviving alone takes a lot of independence, but it also takes some ingenuity. Being able to solve problems on your own and overcome the challenges that come with living alone is crucial.

To help with some of the obstacles of living alone, here is a list of 10 helpful survival tips. Many of these tricks require very little energy or effort, yet they can make your solo life worlds better and even keep you safe.

Your Dishwasher Can Wash More Than Dirty Dishes

A dishwasher is a big help when it comes time to clean up after a meal, but it can also be a huge help in other aspects of cleaning.

Rather than climbing up on a ladder or chair to clean your fan blades, you can just remove them and wash them in the dishwasher. They’ll come out cleaner, and you won’t be risking a bad fall. Most hard plastics are entirely fine to wash in the dishwasher.

Other handy things to clean in a dishwasher include lamp shades, broom and mop heads, dust pans, gardening tools, pet toys, plastic combs/brushes, sink sponges and many more items that would otherwise be hard to clean.

By giving your dishwasher this double duty, you’ll have a much cleaner home, and you won’t spend a ton of time keeping it clean.

Use Peppermint Oil To Ward Off Mice

02161802Musophobia (the fear of mice and rodents) is one of the more common phobias out there. Not everyone can handle trapping and removing mice from his/her home.

If you’re one of these people, there’s a very inexpensive fix that doesn’t force you to interact with the mice at all: peppermint oil. Mice hate this stuff and will steer clear of it. By mixing some peppermint oil with water in a spray bottle, you can give a quick spritz to any area with mice activity.

You never have to remove the mice yourself; they’ll get one whiff of the peppermint and move on. Plus, it is a very humane way of dealing with a small mice problem (if you have a large infestation, you may want to seek out more extreme measures of removing the mice).

Peppermint oil has a lot of uses. Even when the mice leave, you can still find ways to use it. Peppermint oil can be found at many pharmacies and large box stores. You can also buy it online.

Open Stubborn Jars With A Rubber Kitchen Glove

Nothing is worse than a jar that you just cannot open. Even after banging it on the side of a counter, turning it until your face turns red and soaking it in warm water, you still cannot get it to open.

There are tons of products out there that are designed specifically for opening stubborn jars. One easy trick, which doesn’t require you buying some As Seen On TV product, is to use a rubber glove. You probably already have a pair under your sink, and the rubber of the glove will give your hand much better traction and grip on the lid.

Another trick is to put one rubber band around the lid and another around the jar, wherever your hand is going to hold it. The concept is the same, the rubber of the bands helps provide much-needed traction, and you can pop the lid quickly.

Use Windex To Move Heavy Furniture And Appliances

02161803Moving heavy furniture and appliances is typically a two-person job, no matter what age you are. But, for older individuals, the challenge of moving something heavy on your own is much more difficult.

Luckily, there is a solution. By spraying Windex at the feet of an appliance and in a track of where you’re moving it, the item will slide with ease. Thus, you won’t have to strain yourself pushing and pulling it. Plus, it should protect some floors from marks, as you move the furniture.

Scotch Tape, Safety Pins, and String Are Your Friend For Dressing Up

“Can you zip me up?” A small request for a quick and easy task, if there’s another person around. When you are living alone, however, even getting dressed and wearing certain garments or jewelry can be a minor annoyance.

There are a few small things you can do to make life a little easier when you are trying to dress up for a night out. A string and a safety pin attached to the zipper of a dress makes it a breeze to zip up while using scotch tape on your wrist to hold a bracelet in place while you secure it means you can accessorize with one hand!

Put Your Mind At Ease With An Alarm System

02161804When others are around, you don’t feel vulnerable and alone. You have someone else around to put your mind at ease when you feel uncomfortable or insecure. That isn’t the case when you are living alone.

Maintaining a sense of security can be hard, especially if you have an active mind that often creates added fear or anxiety. A medical alert system may seem like a significant, unnecessary investment, but the cost of having a mind that feels secure and at ease is priceless.

Plus, many modern systems are extra affordable. You shouldn’t be afraid of living alone or have your mind racing at every small bump in the night.

Invest in a Silicone Microwave Lid

Transitioning into living alone means adjusting how much you spend on groceries and how much food to cook and prepare. You’re probably used to feeding others (or being fed by someone), but now you are just cooking for yourself.

This might mean you need to take some rudimentary cooking lessons and it means getting used to eating leftovers and reheating food in a microwave more often. Reheating rice, pasta and other similar dishes can be a real pain in the microwave.

There are some tips and tricks associated with microwaving food and an even greater number of gadgets, but the only one you need is a silicone microwave lid. This product traps in steam and heat to provide a more thorough cook. No more cold spots or mushy leftovers.

Budget and Shopping For One


Aside from adjusting how much you need to cook, you also have to learn how to manage your finances. The good news is that budgeting for one is a lot easier than learning how to budget and spend with a significant other or a roommate.

Nonetheless, it may take some getting used to, as you no longer have someone to split costs with and have to buy everything on your own. Groceries are going to be one of the areas that take a lot of adapting. You have to transition to buying smaller quantities, instead of in bulk. This is also going to be your biggest area of savings, which you’ll probably need to cover your payments and utilities.

In any scenario, budgeting takes some careful planning and smart innovating. You should track all of your spendings. Then, once you have a good amount of data, you can begin to see where you are spending money, how much you need each month and where spending can be cut.

Schedule A Daily Phone Call Or “Check In”

This tip serves two purposes. First, regular communication is important because for your mental health. Just because you live alone doesn’t mean you have to live without social interactions. People often underestimate how impactful a little chatting can be; a daily phone call can help in lifting your spirits up to get through the rest of the day or give you an ear to complain to and get some things off your mind to de-stress.

For retired individuals, this daily call can also be a lifesaver, if you’ve fallen and didn’t have a way to notify anyone. Your loved one will be expecting the call, and when it doesn’t come, they will know you are in trouble and send help.

Get To Know Your Neighbors


One of the best resources you can have when living alone are the people living around you. Not everyone likes meeting neighbors, and there are certainly neighbors you should avoid, but don’t let a little social awkwardness deter you from establishing connections in your neighborhood.

Not only are these valuable sources of social interactions, but you never know whom you might be living next to. You may come to find out that your next door neighbor is a handyman or a plumber, which is valuable knowledge if you have repairs or plumbing issues. Also, you may be able to call upon them to help with some tasks that are simply too difficult to do alone.

Final Advice

The last thing you need to remember to survive living alone is to have fun. Sure, it can be a scary, hectic transition that makes you have to alter your lifestyle and how you spend your money and live your life.

However, it’s also an excellent opportunity to learn things about yourself that you didn’t already know, explore new things and do things in your way. You no longer have to worry about the needs of another, so make bold decorating choices. Start a new hobby that takes up way too much space. Be messy for a week. Budget for the vacations and things that you want. Entertain guests and dazzle them with your newfound cooking skills.

There’s so much potential growth to be experienced from living alone, so shed the fear and anxiety and enjoy it!


John Hawthorne is a health nut from Canada with a passion for travel and taking part in humanitarian efforts. His writing not only solves a creative need, it has also lead to many new opportunities when traveling abroad.
This article was originally published on

Exercise During Pregnancy: The Ultimate Guide

This week, TargitFit is pleased to bring you a post by Jenny Silverstone:


Have you ditched your old exercise routine because you’re worried it’s too aggressive for you now that you’re pregnant? As you see the numbers on the scale creep up every week and your energy levels start to lower, the last thing you may feel like doing when you’re pregnant is exercising. But it’s exactly what you should be doing.

When done correctly, getting exercise while you’re pregnant is good for both you and your baby. As a side perk, it can help you cut down on all the extra junk in the trunk you’re starting to store up.

During my pregnancies, staying active helped keep me sane. It made me feel better — both physically and emotionally. This guide will show you why you should consider exercise during pregnancy and hopefully it’ll help you find motivation to do so.

While women will always have to tough out the full nine months of pregnancy, exercise is one of the biggest things you can do to help both yourself and your baby. It helps in every aspect of your pregnancy. Let’s take a look at 40 of the big benefits of exercising during pregnancy.

Physical benefits of exercise during pregnancy

Physical Perks for Moms

  1. Can ward off or help with gestational diabetes: Weight gain and inactivity during pregnancy set the stage for gestational diabetes for some mothers-to-be. Exercise can help control weight gain that in part leads to gestational diabetes. And getting exercise can help lower blood sugar if you do develop gestational diabetes, which can eliminate the need for insulin injections.
  2. It can help prevent extra weight gain: While some weight gain during pregnancy is healthy, you don’t want to overdo it. If you burn 300 calories per day during pregnancy from exercise, in 40 weeks, you will have prevented a weight gain of 24 pounds.
  3. More energy: Pregnancy can sap your energy like nothing else can, but exercise can help restore it.
  4. Fighting morning sickness: The next time you suffer from morning sickness, you can try putting down your crackers and doing some exercise. It helps with that queasy feeling.
  5. Alleviate back pain: Back pain is a well-known side effect of pregnancy and physical activity can help loosen it up.
  6. Gets things moving in the bathroom: Those iron pills we have to choke back in pregnancy can lead to some fierce constipation. Exercise can help loosen things back up again.
  7. Fight off muscle cramps: When your muscles start painfully tightening up during pregnancy, exercise can loosen them up.
  8. You’ll sleep better: Getting sleep is so important for both you and your baby during pregnancy. It helps your body deal with all the changes and it prevents you from being so overtired and frazzled.
  9. It builds up your immune system: Exercise is a known immune system booster, which is great when you’re trying to dodge any harmful colds or flus in pregnancy.
  10. You’ll be more flexible: If you’ve always envied other people’s flexibility, you’ll be pleased to know that your joints are more relaxed during pregnancy. You may be able to do yoga poses you’ve only dreamed of.
  11. Lower your blood pressure: Preeclampsia is a big problem in pregnancies and you can lower your risk for this complication by exercising three to five times a week.
  12. Less swollen legs: Leg swelling can be intense during pregnancy. Luckily, exercise can cut back on that pesky swelling.
  13. Exercise can help smokers quit: You shouldn’t be smoking when you’re pregnant and exercise can stop you from wanting cigarettes. That’s a win for you and the baby.
  14. Get ready for extra pounds: Weight training in early pregnancy can get you ready to carry the extra pounds your baby will add on to your body.
  15. It can give you balance: As you get further into pregnancy, you start to lose your balance. Exercises like bike riding in early pregnancy and pilates can help you maintain that balance.
Emotional benefits of exercise during pregnancy

Emotional Encouragement for Moms

  1. Take the stress off: Pregnant women seem to have the weight of the world on their shoulders — we worry about our health, our baby’s health, finances and the birthing process. Exercise is a known stress buster so it can help take that emotional edge off at the end of the day.
  2. It helps avoid that “just a baby incubator” feeling: You’re more than just a pregnant woman and exercise can help you remember that — you’ll feel more like your old self.
  3. Better mood: You’ll continue to get that exercise high even when you’re pregnant.
  4. You’ll get a lot of encouragement: Everyone loves to see a pregnant woman pursuing fitness. Be prepared to get some high fives from family and friends for your efforts.
  5. You’ll make your doctor happy: One of the biggest stressors for moms-to-be can be those nerve-wracking doctor’s visits where we worry we’ll be lectured about taking care of ourselves and having reasonable weight gain. You might earn a gold star at the doctor’s office for the exercise you’re doing.
  6. Feel more attractive: Let’s face it — losing your looks even temporarily isn’t fun. No one likes feeling dumpy and pregnancy can do that. Exercise can make you feel more attractive.
  7. Make new friends: If you join an exercise class, you can meet other moms there and develop a strong circle of friends.
  8. A sense of control: So much about pregnancy is beyond your influence, but exercise can make you feel like you’re in the driver’s seat.
  9. You’ll boost that pregnancy glow: While we may be heavier and winded easier, pregnancy does give us a Jennifer Lopez-like glow. That effect is increased by exercise.
Benefits of exercise for pregnant women in labor

Assistance for Moms in Labor

  1. It makes you stronger: For labor, you’re going to need strength and endurance. You’ll get both from regular exercise.
  2. Better chance of handling pain: Exercise can help you achieve the mental toughness you’ll need to get through labor.
  3. It can strengthen those pelvic muscles: Strong pelvic muscles can make for a better delivery experience. Exercise is a great way to build up those muscles.
  4. Cuts your risk of C-section: Getting a moderate amount of exercise in your pregnancy can help you avoid a C-section. Most moms I know would rather run or walk a few miles a week than deal with surgery pain.
  5. Shorter labor: Moms who continued to exercise throughout pregnancy often have shorter labors than those who didn’t.
Benefits of pregnancy exercise after labor

Benefits for Moms After Labor

  1. You bounce back quicker: Having the physical conditioning throughout your pregnancy can help you be in better shape right after delivery because your body is stronger. When you do begin your exercise program a few weeks after delivery, you won’t be starting from scratch.
  2. Fight off those post-baby blues: Exercise is the ultimate mood booster. With a short workout, you can feel less depressed and more able to tackle the challenges you’re facing.
  3. You’ll enjoy better lifelong fitness: Taking that exercise break during pregnancy can lead to you being less fit even years later. It’s often hard to find motivation after taking a long break from exercise.
  4. Trying new activities: Pregnancy is good for expanding your horizons. If you normally do a lot of skiing, which is a no-no in pregnancy, maybe you can try an activity you wouldn’t normally do instead.
Benefits of pregnancy exercise for baby

Bonuses for Your Baby

  1. A better birth weight: Exercise lowers mama’s blood sugar and cuts down on the risk of an obese baby.
  2. Greater oxygen flow: Your baby will be treated to increased oxygen when you exercise and start taking deeper breaths.
  3. More brain power for your baby: It may seem hard to believe but exercise for just 20 minutes at a time three days a week can boost your child’s brain activity. That’s worth the struggle to put your tennis shoes on!
  4. More mature lungs: Your lungs aren’t the only one benefitting from your exercise. Your baby’s lungs will too.
  5. Better immune system: Your baby’s immune system will also benefit from regular exercise during pregnancy, just like yours will.
  6. More blood vessels: When exercising during early pregnancy, extra blood vessels develop to help carry nutrients to your baby. Those blood vessels will still develop without exercise, but there will be more of them with exercise.
  7. Lower heart rates: By late pregnancy, fetuses whose moms exercise have lower heart rates than that of fetuses whose moms don’t exercise.

warning sign

Risks of Exercise During Pregnancy

Exercise during pregnancy isn’t without risk. But doctors continue to recommend it because, despite its risks, it gives both you and your baby the best chance at health.

For certain women, exercise should be avoided during pregnancy because it can endanger their health or the health of their baby. At other times, doctors recommend exercise just as they would with any other pregnancy, but they’re unaware of a problem that’s developing like uncontrolled high blood pressure.



Don’t pursue any aerobic exercise if you:

There are many medical conditions that will put the brakes on your aerobic exercise programs.

  • Suffer from lung and heart disease.
  • Have cervical insufficiency.
  • Are dilating early.
  • Are expecting multiple babies and your doctor is worried about preterm delivery.
  • Have had bleeding issues in your second or third trimesters.
  • Had placenta previa following your 26-week mark.
  • Are in preterm labor.
  • If your water has broken.
  • Have preeclampsia.
  • Suffer from severe anemia.
medical doctor

Consult your doctor exercise if you:

While some medical issues make exercise an automatic no-no, there are other ones your doctor will consider on a case-by-case basis. They may indicate exercise won’t be safe for you.

  • Are extremely obese or severely underweight.
  • Have anemia.
  • Have irregular heart rhythm.
  • Are suffering from chronic bronchitis.
  • Have uncontrolled blood pressure.
  • Don’t have your diabetes under control.
  • Have done very little exercise in the past — this isn’t the time to suddenly decide to exercise intensely.
  • Have bone or joint problems.
  • Suffer from seizures that you can’t control.
  • Have hyperthyroid issues that aren’t controlled.
  • Are a very heavy smoker.
warning sign

Warning signs to watch out for:

Whether you know exercise is risky or you believe you’re perfectly safe to exercise, you should always pay attention to any signs that things might be wrong. Whenever I exercised during pregnancy, I always paid attention to my body afterwards, just in case.

  • Any unexpected shortness of breath — more than usual in pregnancy.
  • Leaking fluid or vaginal bleeding.
  • Abdominal pain that keeps happening or any contractions you experience.
  • Pain in your chest.
  • Pain in your calf or swelling that’s different from the swelling you get in your ankles.
  • Racing heartbeat or skipping heartbeat.
  • Headaches.
  • Lightheaded feeling, dizziness or feeling faint.
  • Your baby isn’t moving as often.

If any of these things happen, you need to call your doctor right away.

15 Rules for Safe Exercise During Pregnancy

While there’s no guarantee that following any rules will safeguard your and your baby’s health during pregnancy, they can give you a better chance of getting to the delivery room safely for both of you.

Here are 15 rules you should consider following:

exercise schedule

Do It Consistently

Exercising once every couple of weeks isn’t going to earn you all the benefits you want to see for both you and your baby. The key to getting everything you want out of physical activity is to do it every week multiple times.

Write it on your calendar, just as you would any other appointments. Try to do at least 20 minutes a day as many days as you can every week.

walking shoes

Do Some Walking and Stretching

Don’t sit on the couch the minute your workout ends. If you do, you’ll feel sore and stiff soon after. After your workout ends, try to find time to take a five minute walk to cool down your muscles.

When that’s done, do some gentle stretching. Your muscles will thank you the next day.

jump rope

Don’t Jump to Your Feet

Pregnancy isn’t the best time to start adding burpees into your routine because changing positions quickly during pregnancy can leave you feeling lightheaded and dizzy.

You don’t want to faint of risk falling because you’ve changed positions too quickly. So whatever activity you’re doing, take it slow when you go from sitting to standing positions.


Stay Away From Heat

I had summer babies and for me, along with every other mom I’ve ever talked to about it, summer heat was brutal. I felt hot in 85 degree weather, let alone those days when the thermometer hit triple digits.

Because of our increased metabolic rate when we’re pregnant, we should stay away from exercising in hot or humid weather. You might overheat and end up dehydrated, dizzy or having trouble breathing.

Know Your Limits

You don’t need to run a marathon while you’re pregnant to reap the benefits of exercise. All you need is a minimum of 20 minutes a few days a week.

Make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew with your exercises. You shouldn’t feel like you have to crawl back into your house afterward — if you do, reduce the intensity or duration of the exercise.

free movement

Move Around — Don’t Stand Still

Exercises like yoga are good for pregnant women because they help us stay limber and more flexible. Plus, they feel good and can be energizing.

But make sure you’re not holding those poses for too long. Standing still for too long in pregnancy can decrease your blood flow, which in turn can lower your blood pressure and make you feel lightheaded.

If this happens to you, sit down until you feel better and make sure to move around a bit more in the future.

sit ups

Stay Off Your Back

At your doctor’s visits after you first found out you were pregnant, your doctor probably told you that you should stop sleeping on your back. When you do that, your heavier-than-usual uterus puts pressure on a big vein. That pressure cuts back on how much blood flow your heart, brain and uterus receive.

To be on the safe side and avoid any dizziness that position can cause, you’re best off to stay off your back.

water bottle

Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water is important when you’re exercising and after you’re done. You don’t want to become dehydrated, which is a real possibility if you’re a heavy sweater or it’s warm out.

Instead of counting ounces, which can be hard to remember with the effects of the forgetful pregnancy brain, keep tabs on your urine color. If you see it’s darker yellow, you need to increase your fluids.


Don’t Go From Zero to Hero

You don’t want to go from sitting down right into a hard workout with no warm-up time in between. That’s asking for more soreness the next day and your muscles will feel tighter after the workout ends too.

Start with some milder exercise to warm up your body first, like walking.

fitness clothing

Keep Your Clothes Loose

It’s best to avoid the form-fitting workout clothes that you probably favored pre-pregnancy. Go for loose-fitting clothes that let a lot of air circulate. You’ll stay cooler as you exercise so you’ll feel more comfortable and stay safer.

stationary bike

Stay With Doctor-Approved Sports

You might have been an avid skier before you became pregnant, but you’re going to have to hold off on that activity until after your baby is born. It’s just not safe. You should avoid any exercise where you risk falling because you can hurt your baby.

During pregnancy, once my belly started expanding, I gave up bicycling because I didn’t trust my balance and I knew a fall could be catastrophic. Instead, I stuck with a stationary bike because it was safer.

pregnancy diet

Don’t Skimp On the Calories

Pregnancy isn’t a time when you should be losing weight. Make sure you’re eating enough calories to support your baby’s nutritional needs as well as your own. Keep in mind that if you’re exercising you’ll need a little more food than you normally would.

But you should also remember that you don’t need more than a couple hundred extra calories a day if you’re exercising for 20 or 30 minutes at a time. Doing some exercise doesn’t give you a free ticket for repeated trips to the buffet line.

maternity doctor

Always Check With Your Doctor

Before you begin to exercise, you need to get clearance from your doctor. It doesn’t require a special doctor’s visit. Ask your doctor when you are at a regular pre-natal appointment if there is any reason you shouldn’t be exercising.

Most moms-to-be can safely incorporate exercise into their schedules.

yoga during pregnancy

Change Exercises as Your Body Changes

What may have seemed easy for you during early pregnancy can seem challenging as your belly expands and you become a little more breathless. Be prepared to adjust your routine accordingly.

You may find yourself swapping your daily run for a walk during later pregnancy and that’s perfectly okay. A brisk walk is still better than nothing.

dangerous sports

Stay Away From High-Altitude Activities

You should try to stay under 6,000 feet when it comes to elevation because it can be harder to breathe at higher elevations — you’re already having that problem just being pregnant. It’s not smart to aggravate it by throwing high elevation into the mix.

You should also pass on scuba diving because the change in pressure.

This article is an excerpt from a piece that originally appeared on
Jenny Silverstone is the chief editor at Mom Loves Best, a website she developed to help steer you in the right direction as well as save you the money, time, and frustration that comes along with being a first-time mother. For ultimate guides to quick little tips & tricks, Jenny will help you find the best for your baby!

Exercise During Cold and Flu Season

Strengthening your immune system will reduce your chances of becoming ill during cold and flu season.

Starting in the fall and lasting until spring, the season of sickness typically peaks in late January/early February. This year’s flu bug is especially nasty, and the colds don’t want to seem to let go once they’ve taken hold, either. You can always get a flu shot, but make sure your pharmacist or physician isn’t injecting you with a vaccination for last year’s virus. If it’s not designed to fight this year’s strain, you might as well go without. It may be surprising, but the solution to staying healthy during this notorious time of year isn’t found in a doctor’s office or pill bottle.

Exercising Strengthens More Than Muscles

Exercise literally transforms your T cells, making them into warriors ready to fight infection and even cancer!

Building strength and losing weight are the typical reasons for working out, but physical activity also strengthens your immune system, which is essential for defending your body against all types of infection. Of course that includes colds and influenza, but EurekAlert! reports that exercise bolsters the immune system enough to fight off cancer. If working out can help defend against the #2 cause of death in America, it can be trusted to help you stay fairly healthy throughout cold and flu season. If you’re the type who needs science to prove that physical activity really does help, consider the study published in the American Journal of Medicine. It found that women who engaged in moderate-intensity exercise–as little as a 30-minute walk every day–had half the number of colds than women who did not exercise at all.

How Working Out Helps

Working out increases blood flow and your temperature, which flushes your system and helps your body fight off infection.

When something works well, it’s always interesting to know why it does. In the case of working out and exercise as cold remedies, however, doctors admit that they don’t know exactly why they are effective. According to MedlinePlus, some theorize that increased blood flow during exercise causes white blood cells and antibodies to circulate throughout your system more quickly. Also, when you exercise, your body temperature goes up kind of like when you have a fever, inhibiting bacteria growth and helping your body fight infection. The increased blood flow and quicker, elevated breathing during exercise flushes your system, helping eliminate bacteria from your airways and lungs, too. Plus, working out reduces stress hormones in your body which chip away at your immune system. Fewer stress hormones equal stronger immune defenses.

Benefits of a Healthy Diet

Packed with healthy, healing foods, chicken soup comes by its illness-fighting reputation naturally.

Nutrition plays a big part in staying healthy any time of the year. Healthy Eating recommends padding your diet during cold and flu season with immune-boosting foods such as garlic, beef and chicken, peanuts, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products that contain probiotic cultures. Chicken soup has a legitimate reputation for being a flu and cold remedy because it contains zinc from the chicken, antioxidants and vitamins from the veggies, and antibiotic and healing properties from garlic. Don’t wait until you get sick to stay hydrated, either. Drink plenty of water and fruit juices, specifically citrus juice which contains Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant.

When You’re Sick

If increased heart rate is a side effect of your cold meds, skip exercise until you’re off medication.

When you do catch a cold, working out might be the last thing you feel like doing. However, working out is OK if you don’t have a fever, and exercise can even help you feel better. It will get your temperature up in a healthy way and increase blood flow. Plus, exercise often helps decongest your sinuses and lungs. WebMD points out the importance of listening to your body to determine if an illness is serious enough to keep you from exercising. For example, if you have a fever, skip the workout. Also, taking prescription or over the counter cold and flu medications that affect heart rate is another reason to forego exercise. If you do decide to workout, don’t share your germs. Minimize the chances of passing on your cold by wiping down all the equipment you use when you’re finished and washing your hands or using hand sanitizer frequently.

Don’t Resolve To Lose Weight and Get In Shape–Make It a Habit!

When organizations such as the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition publish statistics like ones that say only one-third of adults get the recommended amount of physical activity every week, do you ever wonder why the other two-thirds don’t exercise? Most people just accept the numbers without giving them a second thought, while some go the judgmental route and assume the non-active people are just lazy. However, it could simply be that they never got in the habit of exercising.

If you analyze your day, you will see that your habits get you through it. You put the same amount of sugar in your coffee each morning, and you probably have the same food for breakfast almost every day. You leave for work at the same time, and your evening routine is probably somewhat scheduled and automatic, too, right down to the time you go to bed.

No, not this kind of habit. Change your behavior, not your clothes, to lose weight, get fit, and stay healthy.


Being a creature of habit isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Habits can actually work to your advantage, and the really great thing is that you can change ones that don’t benefit you or form new ones that do work for your good. Life coaches and inspirational speakers motivate people by listing habits of highly successful people. Why not get motivated by imitating the habits of the fit and healthy?

Make a Commitment

People who are fit and healthy don’t play hit and miss with their food choices and workouts. They don’t view eating healthy and exercising as something they’ll do for a couple of weeks once or twice a year long enough to lose weight. Instead, they recognized long ago that being fit does not come from a crash diet or boot camp. It is a lifestyle, and they commit to it.

Give Yourself Some Slack

Factor in meals or entire days for your favorite “cheat” foods. Cutting yourself some slack with workouts, too, will keep life from derailing your fitness goals.

Making a lifestyle change doesn’t mean no more goodies or never getting a day off from the gym. It’s actually the reverse. According to LIVESTRONG, highly fit people go into their fit and healthy lifestyle change with significant slack built in known as the 85/15 Rule. It means eating healthy most of the time, but allowing themselves to indulge up to 15 percent of the time. In seven days, that translates to one entire cheat day or three to four cheat meals spread out over the week. That makes healthy choices way more doable.

As for working out to lose weight or just stay in shape, give yourself some leeway there, too. Set a high and low goal, such as working out three to five days each week and plan the days and times, too. That way, if you can only get in three days of exercising before life intervenes, you can feel good about having met your goal. On the other hand, if you can get in four or five days consistently, you can consider those weeks exceptionally successful and can feel even better about missing a few days on your “short” weeks.

Make it Fun

Take a fun fitness class or compete with yourself or a workout buddy to make exercising enjoyable.

Fun exercise might sound like an oxymoron, but fit people know that workouts they enjoy are ones that they’ll be more likely to stick with. In an interview with Parade Magazine, Biggest Loser Trainer Bob Harper says workouts that challenge him are what he considers fun. Take a kickboxing class or do your cardio on a computerized bike with animated scenery–or even take your workout outdoors. You can also turn your exercise into a competition whether it is with a workout buddy or with yourself. See how much farther you can bike or run, or how long it takes you to move up to the next heavier dumbbells in the gym. When you can start to enjoy your workouts, you’ll be amazed at how anxious you are to do them.

Stick With It

Sure there will be times when you want to just quit. Sticking with it despite that urge is what makes highly fit people successful in reaching their goals.

You’ve probably heard that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. The Huffington Post says that isn’t actually an accurate number. According to “Psycho-Cybernetics,” the original publication where that number appeared, it takes at least 21 days, but can take up to eight months or maybe even more to ingrain a new habit. The point here is that you need to stick with exercise and healthy food choices if you want to be fit and healthy. Yes, there will be days when you just don’t feel like it and, yes, there will be times when your strength, weight loss, or both plateaus. MyFitnessPal points out that one of the habits of healthy people is that they continue with their fitness routine no matter what. They embrace the challenge and recognize tough-going as an opportunity to switch up their workout routine or try different types of healthy cuisine. There won’t be a time when you’ve “made it,” but that shouldn’t discourage you. Welcome the opportunities for change and celebrate every victory no matter how big or small–and keep on going.

Don’t Cut Back–Eat More Often To Kick Start Weight Loss

Cutting back or entirely eliminating meals for reducing calories seems like the logical thing to do when you’re trying to lose weight. However, it’s the counter-intuitive approach that will charge your metabolism and encourage your body to let go of the fat it’s holding on to. The experts and the studies all point to eating more often instead of only eating once, twice or the common three meals a day to program your body for losing weight.

3 Vs. 5

Skipping meals makes your body want to hold onto fat for survival.

American society is conditioned to eat three squares a day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Just because that was the way you were brought up, though, doesn’t mean it’s the only or best way. According to Human Kinetics, research shows that people who eat five meals instead of three in a 24-hour period stay leaner. Essentially, your body is like that paranoid, needy person you dated in college, constantly requiring reassurance. If you go for more than three or four hours without eating, your body will freak out and start conserving energy because it thinks you’re trying to starve it. It will slow down your resting metabolism, and your cells will put a sleeper hold on fat stores. If you don’t eat every few hours, your body will do what it can to ensure it uses as little fuel as possible to hopefully live to see another day.

The rub is that if you’re participating in strength training exercise with the intent to build muscle for burning fat, infrequent eating essentially shoots that idea in the foot. Part of the protocol when your body goes into starvation mode is that it starts using muscle mass for energy. By eating more frequently, you’ll assure your body that it isn’t in danger of starving and it will leave your muscle tissue intact. Consequently, since maintaining lean muscle mass actually burns calories, your metabolism will increase.

Stay Mindful of Calories

Cut down your meal sizes and add in 2 snacks a day, such as fruit, nuts or a protein bar.

When stress over reducing calories has you eating less than three meals a day, the thought of increasing the number of times you eat might make your head explode. The secret is to spread your calories out over the course of five meals instead of getting them all in one or two sittings. Eating smaller portions during actual sit-down meals and then supplementing with protein bars or shakes in between meals is the easiest way to accomplish that, especially if you work a typical 9 to 5 job. That method still allows for your three meals a day, and you’ll easily be able to munch a protein bar or suck down a shake during breaks at work.

Drinking a protein shake 20 – 60 minutes before your workout can count as one of your 5 meals and will help burn calories.


As for fitting your workout into your eating schedule, or vice-versa, while you don’t want to exercise immediately after eating, you do need some fuel in your system. Otherwise, your body will slip into conservation mode. The ideal timing is to exercise 20 minutes to an hour after having a protein shake. Research shows that timing your workout after ingesting protein, specifically whey, elevates your resting metabolism up to 48 hours after your workout and can encourage fat burning.

Your Last Meal (…of the Day…)

Officially close your kitchen for the night to enforce the evening eating cut off.

So, if you’re eating five times a day, you might wonder how close to bedtime your last meal of the day should be. Most experts agree that it isn’t a good idea to eat and then immediately hit the sack, but they disagree on a specific amount of time between your last meal and bedtime. Some experts say that you should at least give it 2 hours after you eat before you go to bed, but that is mostly for digestion reasons rather than weight loss plans. One study performed in the Department of Exercise Sciences at BYU examined restricting night eating and focused more on avoiding eating between certain hours than on the amount of time between dinner and bedtime. It showed that when subjects effectively shut down the kitchen at 7 p.m. and didn’t eat again until 6 a.m., they reduced their caloric intake and experienced modest weight loss.

Going to bed neither full nor famished will help keep your body from holding onto excess weight — and you’ll sleep better, too.

If you’re trying to lose weight, take a cue from BYU. Decide on a time to place the kitchen off limits. Runner’s World advises posting a sign, if it helps, to remind yourself and support your evening eating cut off. What you eat for your last meal of the day matters, too. Go light on the fat, protein and carbs. That’s not to say you can’t have food that contains any of that, just limit the amounts. Your last meal should be the lightest of the day and designed to get you through the night to breakfast. After all, going to bed hungry red flags your body that it could starve. In the end, it’s all a balancing act. Put 2 to 4 hours between your last meal of the day and bedtime. That will ensure that you’re neither full nor famished when you hit the hay and will provide the opportunity to burn a few more calories, whether it’s doing housework or walking the dog before you call it a night.

Cheating Can Help You Stick to Your Diet

No, the headline isn’t a typo—it’s a fact. Bodybuilding pros, dieticians, and doctors all know that a planned cheat day can improve the results of most diets. It might seem counterintuitive to encourage someone who has been trying to lose weight to indulge in “real” food on a regular basis but hear us out. There are benefits to cheating, especially if you do it right.

The Leptin Factor


Dieters often have lower leptin levels, which signals the brain to slow down metabolism. Cheat days give you a chance to increase leptin and keep your metabolism burning.

Low calories are one of the reasons diets fail. Cutting the number of calories you eat often results in hunger which, in turn, causes leptin levels to drop. Leptin is the hormone that informs your brain that you have plenty of energy in reserves, but when the levels drop, your brain thinks that you’re starving. The result is that your metabolism slows down, adjusting so that you burn fewer calories. It’s a vicious cycle that typically causes frustrated dieters to quit dieting altogether.

Toss a cheat day into your dieting schedule, however, and, according to EatThis,  your leptin levels will go up, notifying your brain that all is well. It will keep your metabolism set to burn calories instead of conserving them.

Avoid Feeling Deprived


Knowing you can eat what you want to on a regular basis will keep you from feeling deprived.

Another reason it’s tough to stick to a diet is that you usually can’t eat many of your favorite foods, and you end up feeling deprived before you start seeing results. Consequently, working a cheat day into your diet will make you feel like you’re not being deprived at all. Bodybuilders like King Kamali tell Muscle & Fitness that cheating gives them a mental break. Knowing that you’ll be able to treat yourself on a specified day will make it easier to stick to stricter meal plans the rest of the time. What’s more, you might notice you perform better in the gym or TargitFit class the day after you cheat. Those extra calories will give you the energy to power through a beast of a workout, which will benefit your weight loss goals in the end.

Tips for Cheating the “Right” Way

Make a plan. If you want to use cheating as a dieting strategy, you can’t just randomly decide that today’s the day and you’ll go back to dieting tomorrow. Having a plan is always the best bet. Decide if you’re going to allow yourself one cheat meal every 10 meals or an entire cheat day every 10 days. There’s nothing magic about the number 10, so don’t get hung up on that. The point is to pick specific times for cheating and stick to that.

Don’t over-restrict your calories before your cheat day. You’re already cutting back by being on a diet, so it’s not necessary and will likely result in binge-eating on your cheat day—which is unacceptable…and it’s the next tip.


Taking a cheat day isn’t the same thing as having permission to eat yourself into a coma. On cheat days, eat moderate amounts of the foods you miss most when you’re following your diet. Image by Chelsea Marie Hicks/Flickr

Don’t binge! Allowing yourself a cheat day is not the same as getting permission to eat everything in sight. You’ll still need to eat reasonably on your cheat day; it’s just that you’re allowed to have foods typically off limits. Eating slowly can help. Not only will you get to savor every delicious crumb of chocolate cake or drop of silky Alfredo sauce, but eating slowly will give your stomach enough time to signal your brain when you are full.

Keep working out. You should have rest days worked into your exercise schedule, but it’s a good idea to manage them so that they don’t coincide with your cheat days. Resting on a day when your caloric intake is low will help keep your body from thinking it’s starving, and working out on a day when you indulge will help work off those extra calories before they’re stored in fat cells.


Dr. Oz recommends spreading out “cheat foods” throughout the day, such as having your “cheat sugar” as an afternoon snack.

Be strategic with your cheat meals. Dr. Oz  advises that having structured meals on a cheat day can minimize some of the cost of going off your diet. The Good Doctor’s plan even allows for you to eat three meals plus two snacks: have your “cheat fat” at breakfast, “cheat salt” during your morning snack, your “cheat carbohydrate” at lunch, your “cheat sugar” in the afternoon, and your “cheat protein” at dinner. This plan still recommends eating foods that you might consider to be diet foods and not cheating at all. If that’s the case and you don’t see Dr. Oz’s plan as a solution, another cheat day strategy is to cut down the number of eating hours on your diet day off—kind of like daylight savings time for your diet.


One cheat day strategy is to eat a larger breakfast of your favorite things a little later in the day–like after 10:30 a.m.–so you won’t get hungry before late afternoon/early evening, when you can have another delicious cheat meal.

The way to do that is to eat a high-protein meal for dinner the night before your cheat day, so you’re not starving by the next morning. Then, push your first meal of the day to lunchtime. That doesn’t mean not eating first thing in the morning, but unless you are living for pancakes with syrup and bacon, have a protein shake or granola bar for breakfast and indulge in your cheat foods for lunch and dinner. Alternatively, have that big breakfast but be sure to include fiber and protein so that you can skip lunch and won’t be famished to the point of gorging yourself when dinnertime rolls around. Yet another choice could be to have the big breakfast and an early dinner while foregoing lunch.

You really have nothing to lose but pounds, so why not give cheating a try? It might feel a little naughty, but you may be surprised at how easy it is to stick to a diet and lose weight when you know you have a reprieve coming.