Losing Weight is Easier When You Put Your Mind to It

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You’ve gotten used to eating on the go and super-sizing that order–but it’s undermining your attempts to lose weight

We’re all guilty of it. Everyone stops for fast food at least once in awhile, and who hasn’t at one time or another crammed a cheeseburger down their cake-hole in a frenzy while maneuvering through lunchtime traffic? Or plowed through a full dinner plate in record time and piled the second helping high because you still felt hungry? Even if you work out religiously and are *fairly* good at watching what you eat, your eating habits could be what’s undermining your ability to lose weight.

In a fast-paced world of fast food that’s readily supersized, it’s easy to fall into a routine of wolfing your food and eating too much of it. Brian Wasink, author of “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think,” says that people make approximately 250 food-related decisions each day, but few of them can explain their motivations behind those choices. That’s because eating has become automated, something we do when we’re hungry (of course), when we’re stressed, when we’re in social situations and, sometimes, just because it’s time to eat.

Deciding to eat on purpose and with purpose is one of the most important weight loss tips you can put into action. Mindful Eating didn’t start out as a diet and exercise plan, but instead began as a Buddist mindfulness exercise. For those who have given it a sincere try, though, being attentive when eating has turned out to be one of the best weight loss programs they’ve participated in.

How It Works

Mindful eating starts during meal preparation.

The truth is that most people know how to plan a healthy diet; they just don’t do it. The really cool thing about eating mindfully and with purpose is that it’s not all centered on denying yourself favorite foods or measuring out portions. Mindful Eating starts with preparing the food. Some people take it to the extreme of growing their own fruits and vegetables and keeping chickens and goats or cows so that they can start meditating on the food they eat before and during the preparation process. If you want to go to those levels, feel free, but you don’t have to be a farmer to improve your eating habits and lose weight.

Those who visit the local grocery to buy food can begin their mindful eating weight loss plan by paying focused attention to the steps they take in preparing any of the food they eat. Notice textures, be aware of sounds and smells and take care in dishing food up for serving, even if you’re eating lunch alone at your desk.

When it comes to the actual eating part, take a few pointers from the pros. And, no, we’re not talking Buddhist monks. Many medical and scientific professionals have become interested in Mindful Eating after seeing studies such as the one published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. What intrigued doctors, dieticians and the like was that the study found that eating slower by increasing the number of times mouthfuls were chewed reduced the amount subjects ate. To be more aware while you eat, the University of Health Services at Berkeley says to avoid multitasking with food. If you don’t have time to take a full hour for lunch, at least give yourself the 15 minutes it takes to eat a snack for sustenance and give that snack 100 percent of your attention while you’re eating it. The attention factor is actually the central theme in any Mindful Eating advice. Pay attention to what you’re eating and truly enjoy it, chewing slowly, anywhere from 30 to 50 times per mouthful. Don’t get hung up on the number, though. If the food in your mouth has been pulverized and mostly swallowed, there’s no need to continue chomping air to get in your 50 chews. Do make sure, though, that your mouth is empty before taking another bite.

savoring food

Remember what it was like to eat something really good when you were a kid? Savor your food like that.
Image by James Emery/Flickr

Take smaller bites, too, concentrating on measuring out your spoon or forkfuls as they come from the plate or bowl. Or break off small chunks of bread, cake, or a protein bar before unhurriedly placing them in your mouth. Almost every expert on eating mindfully recommends trying to schedule at least one meal a week that’s without distractions from television or your mobile phone and even advise you abstain from reading during the meal so you can immerse yourself fully in your food.

Why It Works

Even when you know how to do something, it always helps to know why it works. In the case of eating mindfully, it works as a weight loss plan mostly because it gives your body time to communicate. Web MD says that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to recognize that you are full. That’s why it’s easy to overeat to the point of discomfort if you’re famished. Eating slowly allows you time to recognize when you’re full, but you’ll also feel full longer.  Additionally, taking the time to chew your food is healthier for you. According to the Institute of Food Technologies, food (specifically almonds in one study) that is chewed 40 times is better absorbed and utilized by the body. What’s more, a study published on PLOS.org found that slow eating and increased chewing prevents diabetes.

Since you’ll eat less when you eat slowly, you can have your cake and eat it, too!

So there it is: the diet and weight loss plan you’ve been looking for. The one that doesn’t tell you to stop eating the things you love or to cut out entire food groups. The advice is simple and worth following if it means you can have your cake and eat it, too. So, here is the official challenge to do your own research and see how Mindful Eating affects you. When you take the time to eat mindfully, you’ll eat less, feel more satisfied for longer and will actually enjoy your food. How awesome would it be to gain a healthy relationship with food and lose weight at the same time?

Ask the Expert: What are the Best Fat-Busting, Muscle Building Supplements?

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You don’t have to fill your shopping cart with product. Just a few key supplements will help you build muscle and burn fat. Image by Noodles and Beef/Flickr

As a gym owner, personal trainer and former body builder, the question I get asked almost as much as, “How can I lose weight fast?” is, “What are the best muscle building and/or weight loss supplements?” With shelves upon shelves of different supplements that each supposedly serve a unique purpose, the confusion and apprehension is understandable. After all, if it truly takes all of those supplements to reach your weight loss and muscle building goals, you’ll be in bankruptcy pretty quick.

The good news is that you don’t need all those supplements. While some do have positive effects, most are unnecessary if you’re not out to compete in a bodybuilding competition. There are a handful of muscle building supplements that you absolutely should be taking on a regular basis. You’ll notice that not many are necessarily considered to be weight loss supplements. However, by virtue of helping increase your muscle mass, they are fat-busters. Experts such as the American Council on Exercise tells us that building and maintaining muscle burns more calories than a soft, sedentary body does. That’s why, even though the following supplements are mostly considered to be muscle building supplements, they’re also effective weight loss supplements, helping you to achieve two goals at once.

Good Ol’ Protein

Protein is an essential ingredient for building lean muscle tissue.

At the top of the list of the best supplements for women and men alike is every dieter and body builder’s best friend: protein. It’s a vital element for building muscle tissue. If you’ve been protein shopping, you already know that there are a number of different types and sources of protein, including powders made from egg whites as well as whey. Whey is one of the best forms of protein, as it’s easily absorbed by the body, even more readily than food sources such as fish or chicken. If you’re the type who wants to cover your bases and benefit from several types of protein, Beverly International’s Ultimate Muscle Protein (UMP) is your dream protein. In addition to whey, it contains egg white and casein, which is ultra-useful in the repair stage of muscle building.

Creatine Supplements Enhance Anabolic Results

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Creatine can help increase muscle mass, improve endurance and ease post-workout soreness.

Creatine supplements are helpful for improved muscle and strength gains and busting through plateaus. According to a study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, creatine supplements increased IGF-I (insulin-like growth factor-1) which is essential for the repair and building of muscle tissue. You may have heard of side effects associated with the use of creatine, but if you stick to the recommended cycling and servings, you should do fine. Also, because creatine works partially by drawing water into the muscle cells, you’ll want to ensure you’re drinking plenty of water to avoid muscle cramping and other symptoms of dehydration.

Muscle-Metabolized Aminos

L-Leucine is just one of the BCAAs that metabolize in your muscle tissue, and provide strength and recovery assistance. Image by Benjah-bmm27 (Own work) [Public domain]/Wikimedia Commons

Whether or not you’re familiar with all nine essential amino acids, you should familiarize yourself with the three known as the Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs):

  • L-IsoLeucine
  • L-Leucine
  • L-Valine

These are the ones that are metabolized in the muscles, instead of in the liver like the rest of the aminos. BCAAs are awesome because they support energy levels, strength and recovery. Additionally, a study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that supplementing BCAAs reduces fatigue during workouts and also increases fat oxidation — yep, that’s fat-burning to you and me. More good news for those taking UMP: this “ultimate” muscle building supplement also contains the three BCAAs in addition to L-Arginine and L-Glutamine.

Take Your Viteys

A quality multivitamin with minerals will provide nutrients that your diet doesn’t. Image by Matt Reinbold

Even with the best intentions, your diet will fail in providing you the complete nutrition you need to build lean muscle to burn fat. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition revealed that, even when careful attention was paid to improving nutritional intake, most (up to 90 percent!) failed to provide 100 percent of recommended micronutrients. A quality multivitamin that also contains minerals is the answer. Vitamins provide energy and give your body what it needs to build and repair muscles. I’ve you’ve plateaued and have been dragging, the lack of a quality multivitamin could be the reason. It will fill in the blanks left by your diet to help you get through your workouts, building lean muscle and burning fat.

Still, your diet does play an important part in your health and fitness goals. Taking vitamins and protein doesn’t mean you can slack off on eating right. Making healthy choices when you eat, drinking plenty of water and including these few supplements will get you over the hump, off the plateau and back on track to building muscle and reducing body fat.

–Matt

Dear Diary…The Benefits of Keeping a Food Journal

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Food journals have shown to provide significant help for people who have trouble losing weight.
Image by Pw95/Flickr

In this age of social media and publishing every random thought that occurs, you’d think that keeping a food diary would be easy. But if that were true, then so many people wouldn’t still be fighting the battle to lose weight. Maybe you’ve heard the advice before—that keeping a journal to track your food intake can be beneficial, and maybe you rolled your eyes. Possibly you thought it was a good idea but just haven’t gotten around to doing it yet. Well, it’s time to take this weight loss secret seriously. A study published by Kaiser Permanente revealed that keeping a journal on food intake can double weight loss, and the more detailed the diary is, the more weight that will likely come off.

What’s more, listening to and understanding your body is so important in general, but especially when you’re trying to lose weight. Health says that keeping a food journal will shine a light on issues such as why you eat when you’re not hungry, how who you’re eating with may affect your meals, and can even identify foods you may be allergic to or that have negative effects on your health.  Armed with that kind of insight, you’ll be more in touch with your body and its relationship with food, and will be able to fine-tune your eating habits to reach your goals. So grab a notebook and a pen and start writing to lose weight.

The Magic Of Writing

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Unless you write down everything you consume, you may not have an accurate picture of how much you’re eating–or even whether you’re eating healthy.

One reason food journals can be so successful is that they track the amount of food you eat to give you an accurate picture of what you’re actually eating. Kristin Kirkpatrick, a Registered Dietician, says that clients routinely tell her that they hardly eat at all, yet still can’t seem to lose weight. One of the first things she does is have them start keeping a food diary, and they’re always surprised at how much they really do consume.

That’s because many people have gotten used to eating on the run, so they subconsciously dismiss any food not eaten at the dining room table. Another trick of the mind is that they don’t see the “little” calories adding up: a handful of chips here, half a sandwich there, several spoonfuls of Ben and Jerry’s illicitly scarfed down in the middle of the night (if you don’t eat it from a dish, it doesn’t count, right?). It all does add up, though, and writing it down makes you accountable, putting you face-to-face with the truth of how much you’re really eating.

How To Keep a Food Diary

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Yep, keep track of everything you drink, too.
Image by Fredrik Rubensson/Flickr

Keeping a food journal is about more than writing down what you eat. According to Organic Authority, in addition to writing down the time of day you’re eating and exactly how much of each item you’re eating, there are other important issues that need to be kept track of that relate to the food part of the log. Every time you eat, you should record your hunger level, the reason you’re eating (stress? it’s noon? I’m bored? everyone else is doing it?), how long it takes you to eat, and reactions, such as whether the food affects your mood or makes you feel contented, happy, hyper, nauseated, tired, or irritable.

Periodic summaries are essential, too. Do it daily, do it weekly, or do it monthly, but the summaries will centralize the data on the food you’re eating and give you the clearest picture of your diet. What’s more, summarizing reveals patterns in your health, moods, and eating habits, and identifying those can do more than help you lose weight. That information can end up being vital for improving your general health.

Get In the Habit and Don’t Stop

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After a few months of keeping a food diary, you might be surprised at how motivating it can be.

However you choose to record your experience with food, make a commitment to do it consistently for at least 90 days. By then, the habit should be ingrained enough that you won’t have trouble keeping it up if you want to or haven’t reached your goal yet and need to keep journaling. You’ll be surprised at the picture the diary will paint over those 3 months and may be even more surprised at the incentive you get from reviewing it.

Finding the Best Health Club For You

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With cooler seasons just around the corner, days of outdoor exercise are numbered.
Image by Raquel Baranow/Flickr

Not to bum anyone out, but summer is drawing to a close. If you took your workout outdoors last spring and haven’t stepped foot inside a gym ever since, now is a good time to find a health club so your fitness routine can smoothly continue on after the weather takes a turn. Since a combination of strength training and cardio exercise is the best way to lose weight, a gym or health club will have the equipment you need as well as the professionals who can help get you on the right track. If you live in a small town, you may not have many choices, if any. People who live in larger cities, though, often have several different gyms and health clubs to choose from, and that’s where another problem arises. You may get stuck at choosing a gym, or might choose one that’s not right for you. Either way, your resolve to exercise to lose weight will dissolve, and you’ll be back at square one. Consider the important issues when choosing a health club to ensure it is the ideal choice, one that will drive you to reach your weight loss and fitness goals.

Location and Hours

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If the gym’s hours don’t match your schedule, you’ll never workout. Image by Edward Webb/Flickr

IDEA Health and Fitness reports that inconvenience is the number one reason people leave a health club. By not looking at the location and the hours of business to determine how conveniently a club will fit into your lifestyle, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Even so, though you may be more likely to use a nearby health club frequently, it will be of no use to you if it isn’t open during hours when you have time to exercise. Many clubs have extended hours and are open early mornings and late evenings. Additionally, 24-hour clubs are more popular and available than ever. Whatever your schedule and your preference, find a gym that doesn’t take you out of your normal way and is open when you can work a workout into your schedule.

Gym or a Club?

An old-school gym won’t satisfy those who crave pampering and amenities.
Image by Alka Pool/Flickr

You can eliminate a handful of choices if you know what you’re looking for in a fitness facility. Are you super-serious about your workout, and know the value of old-school iron and well-built fitness equipment? Or is a plush locker room, flat-screen TVs on all the cardio equipment and mint-infused cooling towels important to you? There’s nothing wrong with either scenario, unless you pick a facility that doesn’t fit with your preferences. A no-frills, down-to-earth gym will give you at least the basics you need by way of weight and cardio equipment and is the perfect choice for the person who just wants to hit it and quit it. A health club should be the choice for those who enjoy amenities and the social aspect of working out.

The Bottom Line Is the Bottom Line

Affordability is one of the most important elements in choosing a gym or health club.

Though the economy is getting back on track, many people find that they still don’t have an excess of disposable income to spend on “luxuries.” While the argument over whether a health club membership is a luxury or a necessity is a topic for an entirely different blog, the fact remains that finding an affordable place to work out is essential. The American Council on Exercise points out that there are as many different payment options as there are health clubs. Some charge initiation fees as well as monthly fees; some require up-front payment for at least a year at a time; others allow you to pay month-to-month and don’t lock you into a contract. While a lot of people believe that signing a contract will motivate them to exercise regularly, the reality is that many who sign one end up spending money and not working out. Sign that contract if it truly will motivate you, but also consider whether you can afford the monthly payments along with the initiation fee. If not, you may be surprised to find that many clubs that don’t require contracts have low, affordable monthly rates.

Is a Club Right for You?

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Some would rather invest in home gym fitness equipment instead of joining a health club.

Harvard Health‘s checklist for choosing a club asks first if joining a club is even the right option for you. While there are many benefits to signing on with a gym or health club, it does you no good if you don’t use it. Whatever the reason, whether there’s no fitness facilities nearby, none of them are open during hours that match your schedule or you simply feel more comfortable working out in private instead of in front of God and everybody, you don’t have to give up on your goals to lose weight and get fit. You only need a few pieces of quality equipment to put together an effective home gym to get a gym-quality workout. Well, that — and the dedication to use it.

Just How Important Is Building Leg Muscles?

Male or female–everyone benefits from strong leg muscles.
Image by Sabre Blade/Flickr

It’s not an uncommon sight: a dedicated weight lifter or fitness enthusiast who religiously works his upper body and completely ignores his leg muscles. Typically it’s because building a big barrel of a chest, massive shoulders and impressive, big “guns” are the priority. Men aren’t the only ones guilty of neglecting the muscles of the leg. Many times women become too sensitive about the size of their thighs and glutes so they concentrate on reducing their legs instead of focusing on how to build up leg muscle. There are important reasons for working your legs, though, and not all of them are geared toward bodybuilding. Everyone of all genders and ages can benefit from strong leg muscles.

The Fat Burning Factor

Leg muscle mass helps keep your entire body trim.

You already know that maintaining muscle helps with burning fat for healthy weight loss. It stands to reason that the more muscle weight you put on, the easier it will be to take fat weight off and keep it off. You leg muscles are the largest muscle group you have, taking up the entire lower half of your body. Building lower and upper leg muscles will go a long way in increasing your overall muscle mass for increased fat burning potential.

Keeping You Mobile

Strong leg muscles keep you on the go and make it possible to do everyday things like climb stairs and get you from point A to point B.

It’s easy to take your leg muscles for granted, but just try to get through one day without using your leg muscles and you’ll recognize the essential role they play in keeping you agile and mobile. The importance of agility and mobility are obvious for athletes, both professional and weekend warriors, but these elements increase in importance as people age. A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology concluded that leg extension strength in older adults is associated with the ability to keep balance and prevent falling. Additionally, the medical information website Patient says that problems with balance and gait are directly related to muscle weakness, both in the upper leg muscles, such as the quadriceps and abductors, and in the lower legs where calf muscles affect foot flexion.

Symmetry: It’s Not Just for Bodybuilders Anymore

Weak leg muscles are weak links in your body’s muscle chain.

It’s no secret that symmetry is as important to bodybuilders as muscle building. According to Bodybuilding.com, an evenly developed body has no noticeable weak points and simply looks better. Aside from the appealing physical appearance, symmetry in your muscles can help reduce the chances of injury. The muscles of your body are all connected, and the ones that aren’t connected directly are linked together through other muscles. They all team up to get you around and allow you to do what you do. However, if one section of the team is weaker than others, it can’t perform properly, resulting in injury whether you’re working out or just performing simple, daily tasks. Former endurance athlete Mark Sisson explains that having weak hamstrings, for example, may result in torn cartilage, bad knees, an abnormal inward curving of the spine, or all three.

How to Strengthen Leg Muscles

In the simplest terms, the answer to how to build up leg muscles and strength is to work them — but work all of them. There are different schools of thought on whether you can or should work upper and lower body on the same day, but ExRx.net recommends dedicating one entire workout day to your leg muscles. Do exercises such as

 

  • squats
  • lunges
  • calf raises
  • leg curls and extensions
  • hip adductors and abductors
  • hip flexions

Two to three sets of each exercise will challenge your leg muscles to start growing in strength and size. Those strong muscles will pay you back for the effort by helping keep you lean, reducing your chances of an injury and keeping you on your feet and on the go.

3 Simple Things You Need To Build the Best Home Gym

If you’ve been thinking about joining a gym, there are plenty out there. Statista reports that there are over 36,500 health clubs in the U.S. open and ready to help people reach their goals. On the other hand, tt’s understandable if you don’t join one. Maybe you don’t live near one of those thousands of facilities; maybe you don’t want to sign a contract to get affordable rates; or maybe the hours of business don’t sync up with your schedule. Those excuses don’t mean that you can’t get fit. With a few pieces of equipment, you can have 24-hour access to the best home gym on the planet.

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Kettlebells give you more options than simple dumbbells.

Kettlebells: Valuable Versatility
Kettlebells aren’t new in the world of workouts, but they’ve made a comeback in popularity. According to Fitness, the equipment’s versatility makes kettlebells trainer favorites, allowing them to add useful moves such as swings to strength training regimens. You’ll only need three kettlebells to start. In his book “The Ultimate Kettlebells Workbook,” Dave Randolph advises that you get one lighter-weight kettlebell for pressing overhead, on heavier-weight for lower body work and one that falls in between the two for dynamic exercises. You won’t have to buy additional kettlebells until you’re ready to move up in weight.

 

Cardio is Crucial for the Best Home Gyms

Get your cardio on a treadmill, elliptical, or rowing machine - or get a special stand that turns a regular bike into a stationary bike with the twist of a couple of screws.

Get your cardio on a treadmill, elliptical, or rowing machine – or get a special stand that turns a regular bike into a stationary bike with the twist of a couple of screws.

You need cardio options along with resistance to create the best home gym, but you don’t have to invest thousands in club-quality equipment to get a decent aerobic workout. Exercise trainer stands are an affordable way to turn a street bike into a stationary one for effective indoor cardio workouts. Quality stands have dials that adjust tension on the rear wheel so, much like in Spin class, you can simulate going up and down hills. Human Kinetics recommends using an old bike if this is the cardio route you favor. That’s because the stand holds your bike stationary and prevents it from moving freely. This puts a great deal of pressure on the frame and may end up impairing how it handles if you try to ride it outdoors again.

The Benefits of Bands

Bands are a safe form of resistance plus they provide a refreshing change from traditional weights.

Bands are a safe form of resistance plus they provide a refreshing change from traditional weights.

Resistance bands are some of the best pieces of equipment for home gyms, according to WebMD. Jim Stoppani, Ph.D., says that bands supply linear variable resistance (LVR), a condition in which resistance increases as you work through the motion of an exercise, and that’s great for building muscle. You may have seen guys at the gym attaching chains to free weights to generate LVR, but you won’t need chains if you equip your home gym with a TargitFit Trainer. It uses resistance bands to perform over 115 gym-quality exercises, earning it the title of the best home gym. Skeptical? In Roy M. Wallack’s LA Times article comparing portable exercise equipment, TargitFit was the only piece that garnered no “dislikes” and was described as having the “closest real-gym feel.”

So, what are you waiting for? Get started building the best home gym right in your own home today!

Targit In Your Toolbox

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Expand your workout options. Make sure you have more than one type of resistance training tool in your fitness toolbox.

No matter what your goals are, you need to build muscle as well as get your cardiovascular system in shape. WebMD advises that building lean muscle via resistance training is vital for getting in shape because it helps burn fat for weight loss and helps keep it off. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends both resistance training and aerobic activity on a weekly basis in their Physical Activity Guidelines. The aerobic part is easy enough to solve, as you really don’t need any unusual or special equipment to get your heart rate up. Hop on your bike, take a jog around the neighborhood or jump rope for awhile — it’s all good. For building muscle, though, it’s useful to have more than one tool in your fitness toolbox.

Open Your Mind to Options

Some people are die-hard free weight lifters. They don’t consider it a serious workout unless they’re using the dumbbells or any equipment that incorporates weight plates. There’s nothing wrong with that while you’re young, but as you get older your body doesn’t recover as quickly as it used to. Plus, lifting heavy weights is hard on your joints and tendons in general but, as you age, it’s natural for cartilage to deteriorate, according to Healthline, making heavy weight lifting difficult and even risky. That’s not to say that you should give up free weights entirely. Many experts from personal trainers to physical therapists to doctors advocate using bands in conjunction with free weights for effective strength training programs.

The benefits of resistance bands increase the effectiveness of your workout. Image by Dave Crosby/Flickr

Advice like that from experts is what makes the TargitFit Trainer a valuable piece of equipment for your fitness toolbox. It uses bands for resistance, eliminating the load placed on your joints while still giving you a challenging workout. If you’re one of the intractable free weight enthusiasts, open your mind a little to discover the benefits of bands as resistance. Colorado State University lists a whole slew of them including but not limited to

  • constant tension that isn’t subject to gravity
  • momentum is eliminated, which encourages proper form and prevents “cheating”
  • activates core muscles to improve posture and torso stabilization
  • greater range of motion for increased effectiveness of resistance, resulting in more muscle fibers recruited for greater muscle strength

Additionally, the American College of Sports Medicine says that resistance bands are useful for athletes of all fitness levels, from beginners to advanced.

Injuries Last a Lifetime

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Bench presses with resistance bands won’t aggravate your shoulder joints.

Injuries never go away. Your body may heal, but you’ll likely never be the same after your knee blows out or you injure your rotator cuff. Band-based resistance is a valuable training tool for anyone, but those who have an injury, currently or one in the past, will find that the non-load type of resistance bands offer are easier on their injured limbs and/or joints. It’s the reason why resistance bands are used in physical therapy and injury rehab. If squats bother your knees or bench pressing irritates your shoulder, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that you can do both pain-free with equipment like the TargitFit Trainer. The resistance is challenging, yet won’t inflict damage or cause further injury, so you’ll be able to keep working out. Also, you’ll recover — from your workouts and your injury — more effectively.

Resistance Training for the Young ‘Uns

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Kids as young as 7 can safely workout on the TargitFit Trainer.

Another case for adding TargitFit to your toolbox is that it can safely be used by anyone of any age or fitness level. Though a study published in Sports Health concluded that strength training is beneficial for children as young as 7 years, the Mayo Clinic points out that lifting too heavy and using inappropriate equipment contribute to injuries, such as bone plate fractures and lower back, joint and tendon damage. The Mayo Clinic and the Sports Health study agree that resistance bands and tubing are the answer. Bands are viable and safe alternatives for weight lifting for kids, and using them is a terrific way to introduce children to strength training. It allows them to learn proper form to prepare them to lift free weights when they get older.

Multiple Uses, Never-Ending Benefits

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Portable, easy to store and safe — TargitFit is a valuable addition to your fitness toolbox.

As stated before, you should have more than one resistance tool in your fitness toolbox. Most experts agree that giving yourself options benefits you in multiple ways. Having access to a tool such as the TargitFit Trainer increases your chances of working out consistently, because you’ll have access to it when the gym is closed or overcrowded, when you’re on vacation or when you just don’t feel like leaving the house. You can use it without concern that it will aggravate old or new injuries. It’s useful as a transition tool, from young to old. It takes the place of free weight accessories such as chains for linear variable resistance but isn’t as bothersome to store and transport. Also, working out with TargitFit is a refreshing change of pace when you get bored with your workout routine. The health and fitness benefits of the TargitFit Trainer are reason enough to try it. The sheer convenience and effectiveness will make you a believer.

Weight Loss Tips Part Two: How To Stick To a Diet Plan

Last week’s post got the weight loss ball rolling with advice on how to lose weight by making your weight loss plan a part of your lifestyle. Studies show the most effective weight loss programs to be ones that include both diet and exercise. The American Council on Exercise confirms this, revealing that 89 percent of the members of the National Weight Control Registry owe their weight loss success stories to using both strategies.

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Soda addiction, stress, and lack of time for preparing healthy meals are all excuses for not sticking to a diet – but it’s all another way of saying weight loss isn’t that important to you.

There are loads of common excuses for not sticking to a diet, but most of them boil down to not having enough willpower. “I’m stressed,” “I’m addicted to soda,” “I slipped up earlier, so why not make today a total loss?” can all be said another way: “I don’t want to try.” You shouldn’t let the lack of willpower be yet another excuse not to stick to your diet, though. A study conducted by the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition found that starting a diet and sticking to it was more about how complicated the dieters perceived their diet plans to be than it was about having the will or desire. So let’s make that the first on our list of diet tips.

K.I.S.S.

It’s hard to stick to eating plans with complicated guidelines.

No, not the rockin’ glam-metal band, the acronym: Keep It Simple Sweetie. (There are no stupid dieters, just stupid excuses.) When a diet requires you count each and every calorie that goes into your mouth; when you start carrying a digital scale wherever you go to ensure you don’t eat one fraction of an ounce more than diet guidelines allow; when you hang your food journal from a chain around your neck for quick access each time you pop a handful of nuts or sip from a glass of juice, your diet is too complicated. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be aware of caloric intake or portion sizes, but when it takes over your life, you’ll be less likely to stick with the weight loss plan.

Importance of Mindset

We covered it last week, but changing your mindset is so vital for successful weight loss that it bears mentioning again. How about this: don’t ever go on a diet. The word has developed a negative association to the point of being equivalent with curse words. (“‘Diet’ is a four letter word!”) Instead of calling it a diet, rename it your healthy eating plan.  While the word “diet” may make you feel deprived, an “eating plan” has a pro-active tone. It’s also important to make a commitment to a lifestyle change. Healthy weight loss that lasts requires making healthy choices every day for the rest of your life.

Don’t Demand Perfection

The Healthy Eating Plate has replaced the old-school Food Pyramid.
Image by TipsTimesAdmin/Flickr.

Most people know what foods are considered healthy. You may have been introduced to the food pyramid in health class, but these days nutritional experts advocate the Healthy Eating Plate. For the most part your daily diet should be comprised of the healthy, nutritious foods outlined on the Healthy Eating Plate. However, don’t entirely deny yourself the occasional treat, and don’t beat yourself up over slip-ups when they occur. A helpful way to keep from feeling deprived is to allow yourself a “cheat” day on which to eat small to moderate amounts of the foods you feel you can’t live without. Plan what you’ll eat on your cheat day, even write out a menu, just don’t go overboard. Pigging out on fat and calories even one day a week can undo an entire week’s worth of healthy eating benefits.

A Few More Tips

Cut off eating at 6 p.m. or earlier to avoid taking in and storing calories that you won’t immediately use.

The TargitFit Never Fail Extreme Weight Loss Diet includes loads of tips for accelerating your results by sticking with the eating plan, and it’s free — just fill out the form on the right-hand side of this page. It explains how you can estimate portion sizes, how to figure out how much water you should be drinking and gives options for protein, vegetable and carbohydrate choices. Some other valuable diet tips include

  • avoid eating after 6 p.m.
  • switch to skim milk
  • ditch the soda and even juice in favor of more water
  • never skip breakfast
  • eat your meals slowly to give your brain time to recognize when your stomach is full

How To Stick With a Weight Loss Program

07271704How many times have you started a weight loss program? If you started and are still sticking with it, good for you! You’re definitely in an elite minority. According to Psychology Today, even when people are faced with a major incentive such as losing weight and getting fit or dying, about 90 percent don’t make the necessary changes, or they start and don’t stick with it. If you’re tired of feeling tired and wish your clothing was a few sizes smaller, you need more than another weight loss plan. Follow these weight loss tips to understand how to lose weight and make it part of your lifestyle.

Change Your Mind, Change Your Life

There is no finish line for weight loss. Losing weight and keeping it off requires a long-term lifestyle change.

Whether it’s on doctor’s orders, for an event like a wedding or class reunion or you just want to lose weight to look and feel better, you have to understand that weight loss success only comes when you change your mindset and your lifestyle. Don’t start with the thought that you only have to keep it up for 3 weeks, 4 months or any set time. According to HelpGuide.org, there’s no such thing as a quick fix that results in permanent weight loss. Yes, you’ll have to keep eating better. No, you won’t reach a point where you can quit working out. It will all be worth it once you start seeing results.

The Secret to Setting Goals

Treat yourself to a day at the beach or any other reward when you meet short-term weight loss goals.

You might have one big overall goal in mind when you start a weight loss plan, such as dropping two dress sizes or losing 50 pounds. Even when they need to happen, those numbers as goals are overwhelming. To make losing weight more manageable (and more likely), break up your overall goal into smaller, short-term goals. Aim to lose 4 to 5 pounds in the first four weeks, for example. That’s a goal that you can achieve and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), accomplishing short-term goals will motivate you to stick with your weight loss program. Celebrate those small accomplishments, too. Treat yourself to that gadget you’ve been eyeing or a new outfit for the thinner, fitter you. Recognizing those accomplishments will encourage you to keep going.

Take Your Time

Use a heart rate monitor to ensure you work hard enough without over-exerting yourself.

When you first start, you’ll be all fired up to lose weight fast, but having such high expectations guarantees disappointment and failure. After years of a sedentary lifestyle, your body won’t know what to make of the sudden change. It may take anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months to start seeing results. Know that going in and don’t get discouraged. Don’t try to force quick weight loss, either. Overexertion for a body that’s used to sitting all day and lounging all night can be detrimental to your health. Figure your optimum heart rate and use a heart rate monitor to keep it high enough but don’t exceed maximum heart rate. The CDC recommends this calculation for figuring your target exercising heart rate:

  • 200 – your age = maximum heart rate (MHR)
  • MHR x 60 to 70% for moderate intensity
  • MHR x 75 to 85% for vigorous intensity

Partners Shouldn’t Make or Break Weight Loss

bench press

Not having a work out partner shouldn’t derail your weight loss plans.

Weight loss programs are easier when you have a partner to help keep in check. Even if you have a friend who is willing to work out with you and help you stay accountable in the diet department, don’t put all your weight loss eggs in someone else’s basket. Do it for yourself and don’t count on them to keep you eating healthy or getting to the gym. There will be times your workout partner can’t make it, or he might lose interest in the diet part of the . Accept any support you get from a partner, but commit to doing it yourself.

Muscle Building: A Good Idea For Women, Too

Putting on muscle mass may have seem like a topic for guys who want to bulk up. However, building muscle is important for women, too. Keep your active imagination in check, resisting images of bikini-clad, muscle-bound women bodybuilders. While that level of muscle mass on a woman is an impressive demonstration of self-control and the ability to train muscles, it’s a result that requires a lot of hard work and more attention to your diet than you ever want to give. For the average woman, female muscle growth will provide vital support for the bones and can positively affect the aging process. Plus, it’s easier for women who put on muscle mass to lose fat.

You Can’t Bulk Up (Easily)

It takes a lot of testosterone–more than you have–to build big, bulky muscles.
Image by Eduardo García Cruz/Flickr

The fact that women bodybuilders exist proves that women are capable of putting on muscle mass in serious amounts. However, as fitness and nutrition expert Catherine Piot points out in her book “The Fit Body Plan,” women don’t produce as much testosterone as men do, so they don’t have the genetics to gain muscle as easily as guys can. To accomplish significant female muscle growth, a gal has to adjust her entire lifestyle, centering it around workouts and diet.

If I Could Turn Back Time

Resistance training can do more for anti-aging than a ton of expensive cosmetic treatments.

Growing older is a fact of life for everyone. Right around the age of 40, people start to notice little differences in how their bodies function and those little differences soon become major limitations. According to a study reported by the IDEA Health and Fitness Association, however, not only can muscle building workouts slow the aging process, but they can actually reverse it. In fact, the study showed that resistance training reversed the aging process right down at the genetic level.

Support Those Bones

Bones supported by strong muscles don’t break easily.

The International Osteoporosis Foundation reports that osteoporosis affects an estimated 200 million women worldwide and that 1 in 3 women over 50 will suffer from osteoporosis-related fractures. Considering that major loss of muscle mass is one of the leading causes of osteoporosis, it’s a shame that more women don’t engage in strength training for building muscle. Everyone from the National Institute of Health to the CDC recommends muscle building for avoiding osteoporosis. That’s because muscles not only provide support for your bones, but the stress of strong muscles working against your bones improves bone strength and will even stimulate bone growth, according to a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports Exercise. In light of these facts, muscle fitness for women should be a top priority.

Tip the Scales: Build Muscle Mass, Lose Fat

Maintaining muscle mass keeps the fat off your middle–and everywhere else.

If anti-aging and avoiding osteoporosis aren’t enough reasons for you to embark on a muscle-building regimen, then do it to stay trim. Not only do women who strength train have a pleasing, toned look to their physiques, but they also have an easier time keeping fat weight off. That’s because muscle is metabolically active. It literally burns calories all the time, even when you’re not working out. This is one of those times when something that sounds too good to be true isn’t; it’s a scientifically proven fact.

If you’re in a panic, thinking that you should have started putting on muscle mass long ago, you’re right. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s too late for you, regardless of your age. That’s where resistance training comes in, and you don’t have to pump iron if you don’t want to. Training with resistance bands is an excellent, safe alternative. It speeds up strength and muscle gains by allowing you to lift at your maximum potential. Go ahead, give it a try. You have nothing to lose and only muscle mass to gain.