Author Archives: Lisa

The Common Snack That’s a Better Source of Workout Fuel Than an Energy Drink

04191801

Sports drinks are an expensive habit that aren’t all that healthy.

If you down energy drinks like they’re water, you’ve probably developed a spendy little habit. At nearly $3 per 250 ml can and almost $5 for a 500 ml can, it’s estimated that your sports drink habit could easily cost you close to $3,000 a year, depending on how many you down in a day.

You may be willing to overlook the cost if those drinks truly give you the boost you need to get through the day and get through your workout, but what if there’s an alternative that’s not only better at providing energy but is also better for your health? As it turns out, there is just such a wonder-snack, and you might even have it sitting in your kitchen right now.

Nanas Have Superior Nutrients

04191802Researchers in North Carolina came up with the idea of comparing bananas to sports drinks as an energy source and found some surprising results. Their study not only showed that bananas gave energy drinks a run for their money when it came to delivering energy and nutrients during a workout, but bananas also offered better anti-inflammatory benefits. That element alone is worth its weight in Ibuprofen, as it means less fatigue during the workout and quicker muscle recovery afterward.

Bananas During Your Workout

04191803You may have an open mind and be willing to ditch the energy drinks, but maybe you’ve been told you shouldn’t eat during a workout. Muscle and Fitness points out that, for workouts 60 minutes or longer, it’s actually a good idea to eat during the first part of your workout to ensure you have what it takes to get to the end of it. However, it all depends on how empty or full your stomach is before you hit the gym. If you just ate—let’s say 30 minutes or less—before your workout, then, yeah, it’s probably best to save the snacking for after exercising. On the other hand, if your stomach is relatively empty, you’re gonna need that nana, and it will be a better choice than an energy drink.

Yes, both bananas and energy drinks contain sugars, vitamins, and other nutrients. Even the protein in both are comparable, but energy drinks have long been a concern for health professionals. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, excessive energy drink consumption was found to be related to high blood pressure and altering the electrical activity of the heart. On the other hand, Medical News Today pronounced bananas to be a heart-healthy food filled with safe, natural amounts of vitamins and minerals.

The Best Way to Incorporate Bananas for Energy

Bananas, chocolate, and a few other energy-boosting foods mix together well to create a satisfying and healthy energy drink you can down during a workout.

Consider this: if you sip on an energy drink while exercising for the energy boost, there is a way to incorporate bananas into a healthy drink that will serve the same purpose. Concoct a shake from a banana, skim milk and/or Greek yogurt, a dollop of almond or sunflower butter, and a dash of dark chocolate. Heck, even add a splash of cold coffee left over from breakfast if you need a little extra caffeine kick. They’re all energy-boosting foods that are healthy and, served in liquid form, will be as satisfying for your thirst as for your energy levels.

25 Ways Your Health Benefits From Cycling

This week, Targitfit is pleased to bring you a feature by James Rackliffe:

Cycling is a sport that I started as a side-effect of beginning to do Triathlons. Little did I know all the health benefits that would come out of it! Thanks to bad allergies, when I started my cycling journey, I used to get winded doing a 5-mile ride around a park near my house. Now, several years later, I am busy training to compete in my first Ironman and at the age of 35 have never been healthier. This led me to look into the changes I had experienced in weight, well-being, and vast improvements in other aspects of my health. When I started putting together all the results, these were the top 25 benefits I found for cycling:

25 Health Benefits of Cycling

This infographic first appeared on DocTriathalon.com.

James is a 35 year old Triathlete and owner of DocTriathlon. He started his site to help people get into the sport of triathlon and to help spread the benefits associated with the sports involved.

Top 5 Diet Mistakes Women Make

This week, TargitFit is pleased to post an article by Jessica:

04041801When it comes to diet, even smart women make mistakes. No matter how smart you think you are, there are some diet mistakes you will be making without even realizing it. These mistakes may be the reason why you are not seeing the results you want despite spending so many hours in the gym.

Regrettably, most women get their diet instruction from less than reliable sources.  When you are taking nutrition advice from a non-professional, you may be making mistakes that will affect your weight goal negatively. If you have been trying to lose weight but have not seen the result you are looking for, it may be time to revise your diet. Some unknown mistakes may be hindering your chances of achieving your objective.

In this article, you will learn about top dieting mistakes that you may be making without realizing it:

Top Diet Mistakes Most Women Are Making

  1. Cutting Out Too Many Calories

04041802Unfortunately, most women are waging a war against calories. You have heard that the reason you are obese or overweight is because you are eating too many calories. You then may have taken this personal and started a war against calories.

The fact is that you need calories for your muscles. When you avoid calories but continue doing cardio, you will lose more muscle and gain fat. When you are losing muscle, it slows down your rate of metabolism and makes it even harder to lose belly fat, firm-up your arms, and shrink your thighs.

Everyone’s caloric needs are different but, in general, you need to eat up to 1400 calories per day to make sure that you are not losing muscle.

  1. Relying Too Much on Packaged Foods

04041803Nowadays, there are tons of diet and weight loss programs that recommend their own pre-packaged meals and snacks. It is sad to see that most women in the United States now depend completely on these diet programs for their daily meals.

While these pre-packaged foods may be great for knowing how much you are eating, they are not the same as eating fresh foods and may not give you the right portion size you need.

Moreover, most of these pre-packaged foods contain added sodium and preservatives which may affect your health in one way or another. It is better than you get most of your daily nutrients from fresh foods than from pre-packaged meals.

  1. Ditching Carbs for Protein

04041804It looks like the modern weight-loss industry has succeeded in turning women against carbs. While some carbs are not necessarily good, most women who are on vegan and gluten-free diets have completely abandoned carbs because they want to lose weight fast. If you replace carbs entirely with protein, your gluten-free diet can lead to fatigue, weight gain, digestive problems, and irritability, too.

A good way to fix this is to adopt Goldilocks approach which recommends that you don’t take in too little or too much macronutrients.

  1. Not Paying Attention to Exercise

04041805Most women are too busy nowadays. In fact, many modern women who work in the corporate business environment have little or no time for exercise. Thus, they think they can lose weight relying on diet alone.

While diet is good, you also need to take exercise into account. You need to do cardio at least 2 to 3 times every week. Create an exercise plan and make sure that you follow it strictly. Avoid paying attention to diet only.

  1. Falling For Fad Diets

04041806Unfortunately, there are just too many fad diets on the market nowadays. Millions of people are looking for a way to lose weight. New statistics show that this is a multi-billion dollar industry and has attracted a lot of attention from people that just want to take your money and run away.

There are many diets you can see on the internet today. Some of these diets are created with fake testimonials and will never work for you no matter how closely you follow them. Instead of depending on fad diets, eat natural foods that are healthy for you in moderate amounts.

Conclusion

It is normal to make mistakes when you are choosing a diet. While some mistakes are costly, others may have little or no effect. However, the important thing is to find out the mistakes that may be hindering your weight and health objectives and stop them as soon as possible.

 

Jessica is a former competitive fitness athlete and now owner/operator of her own gym in sunny Southern California. Her website, GottaHaveFit.com, is a resource dedicated to the latest in science-backed nutrition, supplementation, and today’s hottest home fitness equipment and training regimens.

Get the Inner-You in Shape and the Outer-You Will Follow

When it comes to self-improvement, many people don’t get the connection between the physical body (the outer self) and the spirit (the inner self). If you have trouble losing weight and keeping it off or getting into shape and staying that way, it may be because you’re focusing everything on your outer self and neglecting your inner self. The concept may sound new-agey, but suspend skepticism and judgment for just a moment. Remember that you really do consist of the “inner” and the “outer.” If you want to get into the physics of it all, the inner you is really more you than the outer you. Give your spirit equal time to finally get your fitness and weight loss plan off that plateau.

Meditation and/or prayer, yoga and journaling are the main contemplative practices the University of Minnesota lists as ones that are important for health. While it can be argued that people who engage in regular spiritual practices tend to make healthier choices and, therefore, are healthier, it’s not just about the choices. Including practices in your lifestyle that strengthen the inner you will improve your life and health in other, surprising ways.

Meditate On It

Don’t scoff at the thought of meditation improving your physical health. According to the U.S. News and World Report Health section, meditating can improve your blood pressure significantly enough to actually get you off blood pressure meds. That alone will enhance your cardiovascular health, but you want to know how meditation can help you lose weight. Human Kinetics shines a light on that issue by pointing out that meditating improves athletic performance allowing you to work out more effectively and focus on your goal.

Meditation is just as beneficial for physical health as it is for mental and emotional well-being.

Further, meditating promotes cell repair by stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system. That helps recovery and muscle building, and we all know that muscle burns fat. Another way meditation supports recovery is by clearing your mind so you can sleep better. It’s during quality sleep that your body produces human growth hormone, a vital component of muscle building and cell regeneration. Possibly the most important benefit of meditation when it comes to weight loss is that it reduces the production of cortisol, the pesky stress hormone that encourages your body to hold onto belly fat.

You don’t need to find a solitary mountaintop for effective meditation. The privacy of your own home works as well.

Don’t buy into the myth that you have to sit lotus position for hours on end and completely master emptying your mind. You’ll benefit from just 10 minutes at a time of deep, mindful breathing. Set a timer to eliminate the need for frequent interrupting peeks at the clock. Headspace.com has a terrific free program that explains meditation in unique, understandable terms and guides you through getting into the practice on a daily basis. Alternatively, there are numerous guided meditations available on the internet, MP3 and CD. Some are free, some are not, but you’ll have scores to choose from with any theme you’re looking for, including weight loss. Go ahead and start out at only 10 minutes, then build up as you get better at it, and your schedule allows. Setting aside the same time each day, such as every morning or every evening, will make it part of your routine so you’re less likely to skip it, and fall out of the habit. Some days you may only have 10 minutes to spare, and that’s OK. Do what you can when you can, and you’ll see a huge difference.

Journal Yourself Fit

If the journaling part of a health and fitness spiritual practice seems unlikely to be of any help with a weight loss plan, consider Charmaine Jackson’s story. CNN reveals that she accomplished weight loss success, dropping half of her body weight and she credits journaling with helping her reach her goal. The journal provided her with an outlet to write down her feelings and emotions and figure out that she was an emotional eater who relieved stress with food. Journaling helped Jackson realize that crunchy chips and pretzels were her go-to comfort foods and that she could get the same satisfaction from munching on crunchy fruits and vegetables that she grew in her own garden.

Handwrite your journal or type it on your computer — whatever works for you is the right way to do it.

Journaling can do the same for anyone, and Discover Good Nutrition points out that many coaches require athletes to keep one. It keeps you accountable for your diet and workout plan; it helps you prioritize your health, fitness and weight loss; and it’s the perfect tool to monitor your progress. The beauty of a journal is the versatility and flexibility — there’s no right or wrong way to do it. If you love to handwrite and want to keep a leather-bound food and workout diary, do it. If you prefer typing, make a file on your computer and use Word to create an entry each day. You could even opt for software that’s designed specifically with journaling in mind. If you have the time and inclination to go into detail about your food, feelings and fitness regimen, by all means, do it. On the other hand, if you have minimal time and don’t aspire to any level of creative writing, keep it simple. Use a fresh page for each day and include

  • the day and date
  • your feelings — basic one-word descriptions are acceptable!
  • exercise — include type, intensity, time of day and duration
  • physical evaluation — note any pain, how tired or energized, strong or weak you feel
  • diet

For the diet part, you can simply rate your overall eating and nutrition for the day using a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 meaning you didn’t exceed your caloric intake and only ate healthy nutritious foods. Take note, however, that the more detailed the food part of your journal is, the more likely you are to lose weight. Web MD reports on a study in which participants who kept detailed food records at least six days a week enjoyed double the weight loss of those who only sporadically journaled about their diet. That may mean keeping notes throughout the day so that you can include everything later in your journal but, if it results in twice the weight loss, it’s worth the effort.

Foods That Speed the Metabolism for Weight Loss

We have an odd, unfortunate relationship with food. It is necessary for keeping bodies healthy and alive, but food gets cast as the villain in the weight loss struggle nearly 160 million Americans face, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. It is those pesky calories that interfere with the love affair your palate has with tasty, yummy fare. If only food worked to make you lose weight instead of gain it…

Don’t waste your time wishing for calorie-free cuisine. There are a number of delicious things you can eat and drink that will kick your metabolism into gear to actually burn calories.

Bring the Heat

The capsaicin in spices such as cinnamon and chili peppers kick-starts your metabolism.

One of the top ways to switch on the fat-burning signal in your brain is to eat warming, spicy foods. The element that flips that switch is capsaicin, and many foods that contain it are probably already on your favorites list. Of course, hot peppers are the first food to come to mind when you want to bring the heat to boost your metabolism but, according to Prevention, there are so many others including

  • bay leaves
  • cinnamon
  • cloves
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • mustard

Even vinegar is listed as a warming food that helps increase metabolism. If you are waiting for the catch, here it is: you do need to ingest quite a bit of capsaicin to raise your body temperature enough to increase your metabolism. The solution is to eat something spicy several times a day instead of trying to cram it all into one meal to ensure you benefit.

Foods With Substance

Muesli contains several foods with substance to get your metabolism going: whole grains, nuts and dried fruit.

High-fiber foods are filling, so they can help you eat less. However, they also have a thermic effect on your metabolism. That is because your body has to expend extra energy to digest foods such as barley, brown rice, oats, quinoa and other whole grains. Almonds, Brazils and other nuts are healthy foods that burn calories to digest, and the same goes for vegetables, but specifically cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

Berry Fast Metabolism

Dark berries contain metabolism-boosting antioxidants.

Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and the like have been touted as superfoods lately, and with good reason: their edible seeds and skin contribute fiber to your diet, so they have a similar effect on your metabolism as whole grains and vegetables do. However, berries are high in antioxidants. A specific antioxidant — catechins — is especially helpful for weight loss because it raises your resting metabolism, according to Prevention.

The Protein Bonus

You’ll burn over 30 percent of the calories in a steak just to chew and digest it.

Bodybuilders eat a high-protein diet to help them build muscle, but also to kick their metabolism into high gear for cutting body fat. LIVESTRONG reveals that your body burns over 25 percent of the calories in the protein you eat just to digest it. Whey protein is often recommended as the best quality and form of protein, but you should mix it up a little and get your protein from a variety of sources. One reason is that chewing up a piece of steak or chicken breast burns more calories than drinking down a protein shake, meaning you can take even more than 1/4 of the calories right off the top.

The Caffeine Advantage

Partaking of dark chocolate and coffee is a yummy way to rev your metabolism.

There is a good reason that most thermogenic supplements contain caffeine. The Huffington Post reveals that research has shown that drinking just one cup of coffee can increase your metabolism up to 15 percent. Additionally, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that drinking coffee increased fat oxidation. Chocolate lovers will appreciate the really good news. Dark chocolate not only contains caffeine, but it also has catechins, the same antioxidant that abounds in berries. Imagine the weight loss boost your metabolism will get when you snack on a few blueberries dipped in dark chocolate and wash them down with a cup of quality coffee.

Cool Down

Drink water on the rocks — the colder it is, the more calories your body will burn heating it up.

You should be drinking plenty of water every day anyway. Drinking water can help you eat less by making you feel full, and it flushes toxins from your body. However, water on the rocks can help with speeding up the metabolism for weight loss. Web MD reports on a German study that found that men and women’s metabolisms increased 30 percent after drinking water. Some of the increase was attributed to the energy the body has to expend to heat the water once it hits your stomach. It’s estimated that you could improve your calorie burn by 17,400 calories a year just by upping your cold water intake by 1.5 liters per day.

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. Nuts.com 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

03011802

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. Bodybuilding.com 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

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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

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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

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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.

Conclusion

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 tennisdrills.tv.

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

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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

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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 BayAlarmMedical.com.