How To Stick With a Weight Loss Program

How 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 versus dying, about 90 percent don’t make the necessary changes. Alternatively, many start but 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 make weight loss 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 continue eating better for the rest of your life. No, you won’t reach a point where you can quit working out. But trust us–it will all be worth it once you start seeing results.

The Secret to Setting Goals

Treat yourself to a reward like a day at the beach 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 is great motivation to stick with a 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

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Not having a workout 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.

Ask the Expert: How Do I Lose Weight Fast?

Being a personal trainer and having been a natural bodybuilder for years, the question people ask me most is how to lose weight — often, it’s specifically how to lose weight fast. Although there are some basic, common-sense guidelines for weight loss, everyone is working from a different starting point and with different circumstances including health history, genetics and personal weight loss motivation. It’s sometimes hard to hear, but weight loss success stories typically include equal parts exercise and attention to diet. If you can get past what you wish were true about weight loss programs and get motivated to put effective weight loss tips to work, the outcome will be guaranteed weight loss.

Diet and Exercise: the Power Couple of the Best Weight Loss Program

Those who aren’t partial to working out want to do it all through diet, and those who love their food hope for significant weight loss through exercise alone. Either approach will bring results, but when you incorporate both together, those results will be even quicker and more significant, and it will be a healthy weight loss that will last.

Avoiding the Hunger Games

Drinking water before, during, and after your workout will help fight hunger.

Your body is used to doing its normal thing using a certain number of calories. When you up your calorie burn with exercise, be prepared for your appetite to increase when you first start working out. To avoid the urge to binge after working out, make sure to fuel up ahead of time by eating a full, protein-packed meal about 2 hours before your work out. If you don’t have time for a big meal, the American Council on Exercise recommends having a light snack that includes both carbs and protein about 30 minutes before exercising. Other useful tips for avoiding hunger when dieting include chewing gum, drinking water, and brushing your teeth immediately after eating.

A Healthy Weight Loss Diet

Track calories to ensure you’re burning more than you’re eating. Image by mayberryhealthandhome.com via Kevin Simmons/Flickr

To lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you take in, and it helps if those are healthy calories. Start keeping track of how many calories you eat each day. MyFitnessPal has a calorie counter along with an extensive library of the calorie content of different foods. The good news is that successful diet plans are less about depriving yourself and more about portion control and when you eat. Most people will benefit from small adjustments to their diet such as increasing protein, switching to skim milk, and not eating after 6 pm (or at least getting a 12 to 14-hour fast between your last meal of the day and the first meal of the next day). As for calories, the free extreme weight loss diet from TargitFit runs around 1200 calories, which may be perfect for kick-starting weight loss, but might not be optimal for some people. To make sure you’re getting enough calories for your specific situation, you can figure the best calorie intake for weight loss using this formula:

your current weight x 15 – 500=optimal calories you need to lose weight

This calculation allows for a healthy maintainable weight loss of about 1 lb per week. Increase the “500” in the formula to 750 or 1000 for more rapid weight loss, or eliminate it entirely for the number of calories you need for weight maintenance.

Working Out for Weight Loss

Jen working out

Resistance training increases your fat-burning capabilities.

Taking an aerobics class or hitting the treadmill for 30 to 45 minutes three or four times a week will burn fat and keep your cardiovascular system in top condition. You can do more, though. Building muscle with resistance training will enhance your body’s fat-burning and weight loss capabilities because muscle is metabolically active. According to ShapeFit, every pound of muscle you put on will burn an extra six calories each day. So, let’s say your weight stays the same, but you replace 3 lbs of fat with 3 lbs of muscle. That’s an extra 126 calories you’ll burn every week without doing anything. That’s a nice payoff for time spent on the TargitFit Trainer or other resistance training program.

–Matt

Can Substituting Stevia for Sugar Help You Lose Weight?

Sometimes weight loss can feel like an uphill battle, and a lot of advice from the “experts” can seem to conflict. We asked Pyure Organic what they know about using stevia for weight loss and they were kind enough to share this information:

The bottom line is that the only way to lose weight is to create a calorie deficit by eating fewer calories than your body burns for energy.

There are many ways to accomplish this, and targeting added sugars and replacing them with stevia is an easy and tasty fix.

Research has shown that subjects given foods or beverages containing stevia consumed fewer calories throughout the day. (2,3)

The Surprise About Added Sugars

It seems like everything we read talks about avoiding carbs and sugar.

In the U.S., the average intake of added sugars reaches up to 270 calories or more than 13 percent of calories per day based on an average 2000 calorie diet.

Not surprisingly, the largest source of added sugars in the typical diet is beverages, including soft drinks, fruit drinks, sweetened coffee and tea, energy drinks, alcoholic beverages, and flavored waters.

They account for almost half (47%) of all added sugars consumed by the U.S. population.

The other major source of added sugars is snacks and sweets. (1) Most people don’t realize how much sugar they consume from other sources like marinades, sauces, salad dressings, yogurt, crackers and other items that don’t “seem sweet.”

Dietary Guideline Limits

The 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting added sugars to less than 10% of total calories or about 50 grams per day based on 2000 calories.

If your body needs fewer calories based on size, age, and activity level, the gram limits are even lower.

To take it a step further, the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to 25g grams per day (6 teaspoons) for women and 36 grams per day (9 teaspoons) for men.

It’s obviously an area of concern in our standard American diet as the term “added sugars” appeared 138 times in the dietary guidelines report!

Limiting Added Sugars Means Less Calories

Simply put, consumption of added sugars can make it difficult for people desiring to lose weight to meet their nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits.

Whenever anyone restricts total calories, everything eaten needs to contain more nutrients to make sure you get what you need for proper fueling while limiting total calories.

One of the simplest strategies is to limit added sugars.

Why? Because they are more often found in foods that do not provide quality vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that we look for to help prevent lifestyle diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancers.

That’s where products like stevia fit in.

How Can Stevia Help With Weight Loss?

Since stevia is a plant-based, zero-calorie sweetener with a taste 50-350 times sweeter than sugar, a little goes a long way. By substituting stevia for sugar in your daily routine, there are many ways to cut total calories and sugar grams.

Using stevia to sweeten your coffee or tea (hot or iced), saves 16 calories per teaspoon over sugar. Afew cups per day with a few teaspoons each can really add up quickly. Each stevia packet is formulatedto equal the sweetness of 2 teaspoons of sugar. Take some with you to your favorite coffeehouse or restaurant and add your own.

Instead of eating pre-sweetened Greek yogurt with up to 20 grams of sugar, start with the plain variety and add your own stevia, vanilla extract, cinnamon and fruit.

Swap stevia for sugar, honey or maple syrup in your oatmeal, homemade salad dressings, baked goods and other recipes that call for sugar. Even subbing in ½ the amount in a recipe can make a big difference.

This article originally appeared on the Pyure Organic website.

References:

  1. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015- 2018, 8th edition, Added Sugars page 54: https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/resources/2015-2020_Dietary_Guidelines.pdf
  2. Anton SD, Martin CK, Han H, Coulon S, Cefalu WT, Geiselman P, Williamson DA. Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels. Appetite 2010;55:37–43.
  3. Tey SL, Salleh NB, Henry J, Forde CG. Effects of aspartame-, monk fruit-, stevia- and sucrose-sweetened beverages on postprandial glucose, insulin and energy intake. Int J Obes (Lond) 2017;41:450–7.

7 Tips For Better Sleep

This week, TargitFit is pleased to offer some healthy sleep advice courtesy of guest blogger, Brenda Bostwick:

It’s a vicious cyclical world we live in these days, hyper-caffeinated during the day and restless at night.  We can’t fall into a good sleep so we have to keep our engines running in other ways.  If only we could wake up completely rested every day, maybe then we would feel like we’re ahead of the game instead of just barely staying afloat.

09151607Sleep is essential to the health and wellbeing of your mind and body.  It is amazing we survive the way we do with the demands that are put on us daily.  But we are just surviving most of the time, when the goal of living is to thrive.  We could all use a more sleep, but how do we obtain it?  Here are seven great ways to start getting the most amazing night’s sleep… every night.

1. Find the right mattress

06081703The right mattress is like the right pair of running shoes.  Slightly more expensive, yes, but you will never be happier with a decision than finding the mattress that cradles and supports you in all of the most perfect ways.  One size certainly doesn’t fit all, and you may not get it right on the first or even second try.  Do your research and find your perfect match; for example, these mattresses work well with platform beds.

2. The way you eat is the way you sleep

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Save that cuppa joe for morning. Non-caffeinated tea is a better choice at night.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that caffeine, sugar, alcohol, eating too heavy (or too light), and using tobacco products can highly affect your sleep.

Tolerance differs, but in general caffeine has a half-life of 7 hours, meaning it takes on average 7 hours for half the amount of caffeine to leave your system.  Try to avoid caffeine after late morning and remember to look at the ingredients of packaged products for hidden caffeine.

3. Physical activity is important, but…

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Your workout is important, but give yourself adequate time to calm down and relax between exercising and going to bed.

 

 

While, yes, it is extremely important to maintain a physical activity routine, the time of day you’re working on your fitness can be killing your ability to drift away into dreamland.  It’s best to exercise in the morning or early afternoon, giving your body time to get pumped up and then slowly come down off of the natural high.

4. Napping

06081701Studies have shown power naps are super beneficial to brain activity, alertness, problem solving, and creativity.  But napping too long or too late in the day will only keep you up later that night, lessening the amount of REM-cycled sleep you need.

While some situations call for longer naps, make sure your naps are between 20-30 minutes to avoid waking up feeling groggy.  Thirty minutes is just enough time to give us a quick boost of energy without falling into the deep sleep process.  Keep your nap routine in the early afternoon and keep the room warm and dark.

5. Routine and Rituals

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Following the same before-bed routine as often as possible will help prepare your body to sleep.

 

Growing up, the majority of us had bedtime routines: dinner, bath, brush teeth, bedtime story.  Most of the time we drifted right off to sleep and stayed that way until morning.

Just because we got older doesn’t mean we need any less of a routine.  Life is certainly more crazy and unexpected than a toddler’s, but your brain still works best when it knows what is going to happen next.  Creating routines is the best way to a good night’s sleep.  If you follow the same steps before bed every night your brain will eventually start quieting down on its own sooner into that routine because it will know to anticipate the rhythm of the repetition.

6. Your bedroom is your sanctuary

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Set the mood for sleep. Use curtains or blinds to tone down or block outside light completely.

Your bedroom is the one place in your home you should feel most at peace and relaxed.  It is for certain activities only.  It is not your office, tv room, or storage room, nor is it a place you put things to deal with them later.  Your mind can’t rest if there is constant clutter or if it is continually being stimulated.

A clean, quiet space is best.  Make it somewhere you want to be.  Spend some quality time making a refuge.  Find bedding you love, hang artwork, use an oil diffuser to fill the room with peaceful scents, use a humidifier to make the air easier to breathe, try a fan for white noise.

The room should be cool and dark, turn all electronics off and cover all lights. Also, consider getting a circadian rhythm alarm clock to naturally and gently wake you up.

7. When you just can’t get there

Maybe you’ve followed every suggestion you’ve ever been given and you’re still not able to fall asleep consistently or well enough to wake up rested.  Well, here are a few more options:

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Journaling before bedtime can help clear your mind to help you sleep better.

Journal.  Most of the time our minds are racing with all that stuff we didn’t get done today and all the stuff we need to do tomorrow.  Just jot it down.  Make this a part of your routine.

Leave the sanctuary.  Sometimes, it’s just not time.  And that is okay.  But don’t lie there counting down the remaining minutes you have left until you have to be up, remember your bedroom has a specific purpose and lying there waiting isn’t one of them.  If you truly cannot fall asleep, get up and try your routine again.  Try to find the source of the problem and find a relatively quick solution to help yourself into as much sleep as possible.

Ask for help.  We live in a self-help world.  But, there are degrees that other people have paid a lot of money for to help you with the exact problem you’re suffering from, I promise.  Let them do their job so you can do yours.  Find the right doctor and try everything they suggest that you feel comfortable with, you never know what will be the missing piece just for you.

Remember, your sleep is just like the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the nutrition you intake.  It is required to live, let alone live happily and healthily.  What you put into it, you get back from it.  Make certain you are giving your body what it needs so it can give everything it has back to you.

Fitness Equipment Your Home Gym Needs

There are over 25.4 million home gyms in the U.S., according to Statista.com’s most recent count–and that number has likely gone up this year alone. Whatever your motivation for working out at home, there are a few pieces of vital fitness equipment home gyms require. They can vary, depending on what your workout style and goals are but, overall, the same essential pieces show up on all the lists.

Join the Resistance
No matter what your fitness goals are, whether they’re losing weight, gaining muscle or a combination of both, resistance fitness equipment for home gyms is essential. If you can afford commercial quality, there’s no reason not to buy it, especially if you’re a bodybuilder and need access to serious tools. For most people, though, the dumbbells, barbells, weight plates, benches, and even kettlebells that BreakingMuscle.com lists as home gym essentials should suffice. Plus, practically all of it can be found at sporting goods stores and online.

Chin Up, Old Chap
Even people who pay for a health club membership include bodyweight exercises in their workout routines. They’re doubly valuable in a home gym because they provide variety without breaking your budget. That’s why pull-up bars are Stack’s home gym essential equipment pick. Use a variety of grips to do pull-ups, or work your abs with hanging leg raises. If your pull-up bar is movable instead of permanently attached to your wall or ceiling, Stack says you should also be able to use it to do incline push-ups and dips.

 

Band Together for a Dynamic Workout
“Lifestyle Medicine, Second Edition” recommends resistance bands as a controlled mode of resistance because they’re safer, easier on your joints and tendons, and don’t require a spotter on hand to get you out of sticky situations. Make no mistake: the bands you’ll need for your home work out center aren’t flimsy, over-sized rubber bands. The ones you want are thick and substantial and come in a variety of lengths, widths and resistance capabilities, according to Bodybuilding.com .

 

 

Opt for the All-In-One
The one piece of fitness equipment home gyms need to be able to do almost any exercise you can do at the health club is the TargitFit Trainer Bonus: it uses bands for resistance. In fact, it comes with 220 pounds of resistance, but can be upgraded to over 400 pounds. It also includes all the accessories you need to perform over 115 club-quality exercises — including squats! It can even be used as an aerobic step, and everything packs neatly away into the Trainer itself for easy storage so you won’t have to give up significant square footage to create a useful home gym.

Carnivore Diet: Everything You Need to Know

Interested in a carnivore diet? This week, Targitfit is pleased to bring you an informative article by Carnivore Aurelius:

Source

Heck yes, you’re interested in the carnivore diet.

Let’s face it. Vegetables suck.

You haven’t liked them since the first time your mom served you bland, microwaved broccoli.

You’re tired of having to starve yourself and eat like a rabbit when you want to be healthy.

Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to be a slave to plant foods to have the body, mind and energy you want.

The carnivore diet is the exact opposite of what we’re fed by today’s diet culture. Yet it has:

  • Cleared people’s skin
  • Supercharged energy
  • Helped people drop weight faster than a vegan drops $16 on avocado toast

All while eating the juiciest, most flavorful, mouthwatering foods in the world.

It may not do these things for you, but it’s still too interesting to ignore.

Read more to learn everything you need to know about the carnivore diet: the benefits, meal plan, results and how it works.

What is the Carnivore Diet?

Everything You Need to Know

The carnivore diet is a high-fat, high-protein diet consisting mainly of animal products. Yes, that’s right. No more grains. No more sugar. No more vegetables. And no more bitching.

Wait, vegetables? The healthiest foods in the world? The foods God put on our beautiful earth so Karen from yoga could have her green smoothies?

Yup. As I’ll describe below, it turns out plants are loaded with endogenous pesticides (like lectins, oxalates and goitrogens) that could be causing your health issues.

It’s surprising, but you should be happy. After all, don’t we only eat salads for the dressing and the bacon bits? Let’s be honest.

The carnivore diet is a more restrictive variation of the ketogenic diet. It’s very low in carbs and will put you into ketosis, which has tremendous health benefits. It’s also sometimes referred to as the all-meat diet or the zero carb diet.

Some people say that if your ketones are high enough, you can talk to electricity. I haven’t confirmed this yet, but please let me know if you can.

The carnivore diet took the world by storm when Shawn Baker appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast The Joe Rogan Experience. Dr. Baker is an athlete in his fifties, and to put it bluntly, he’s absolutely ripped.

I tried counting his abs but lost track at 3,412. He recently set two indoor rowing world records, and he attributes his success to the carnivore diet.

Other prominent advocates include clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson and his daughter Mikhaila – both have reversed lifelong autoimmune and mental health issues by adopting the carnivore diet.

I get it – this may be shocking at first. The carnivore diet preaches the exact opposite of all mainstream nutrition recommendations. We’re told to limit our meat intake and subsist mainly on whole grains and vegetables—including the controversial Game Changers documentary on Netflix. But are we any healthier for it?

If you look at the state of health around the world, it shouldn’t be all that surprising that people are looking for a change. What everybody is doing is undoubtedly NOT working. And as I’ll argue, the exact opposite will. Eating meat. Cutting out plant foods. And walking backwards.

The carnivore diet is centered around some of the healthiest, tastiest, most nutritious foods in the world: steaks, animal fats, lamb, butter, beef tallow and liver.

Think of this diet like Noah’s ark: if it’s an animal, hop on board. Noah left plants behind – why shouldn’t you?

Read the complete Carnivore Diet Guide at www.carnivoreaurelius.com.

Carnivore Aurelius is a nutrition and biochemistry expert who’s studied for over 5 years. He used the carnivore diet to cure IBS, rheumatoid arthritis and his acne. He’s passionate about distilling complex nutritional information down to actionable advice.

Strengthen Those Calves

Building the muscles that make up your calves can help alleviate foot pain as well as give your legs some nice shape. Image by Bigdrewdle/Wikimedia

Last week we recommended strengthening your calves as a way to alleviate plantar fascia pain so this week’s blog is dedicated to giving a little more direction on how you can go about doing that. The good news is that it doesn’t take a ton of time to work your calves–only about 15 minutes a day at least three days a week, according to Muscle and Fitness. While some experts say you can work your calves up to five times a week, we say you’ll get better results if you keep it between one and three times a week. Calf muscles notoriously recover fast but over-training any muscle group won’t give it enough time to rest, and it’s during rest periods when you’re not working the muscle that it will strengthen and grow. Bodybuilding.com says that means giving your calves 48 to 72 hours between workouts, and that averages out to barely three to four workouts in 7 days time if you go with the minimum rest period.

They’re Called “Calves” For a Reason

 

The reason “calves” is plural isn’t that you’ve got two legs. It’s because there are actually three muscles that make up the entire calf muscle group. In the anatomy of the legs, those muscles are the gastrocnemius, the soleus, and the tibialis anterior. Technically, the tibialis anterior runs down the front of your shin, but all three muscles work together to move your foot up and down at the ankle joint, so it’s essential to work them all as part of a calves-strengthening regimen.

So Many Exercises to Choose From

Movements that get you on your toes or drop your heel to flex your toes upward are the ones that will strengthen your calves. Considering that those are only two actions, you might be surprised at the extensive list of exercises ExRx.net has for strengthening the calves. They’ve thoughtfully grouped them into exercises that work each of the muscles that make up the lower legs but, once you get to studying them, you’ll see that they’re all different versions of two basic exercises: calf raises and calf presses. There are standing versions, seated versions, versions that use weights for resistance and ones that rely solely on your bodyweight.

It’s useful to note that if you perform seated leg curls with your feet flexed (toes pointing up), you’ll target your calves as well as your hamstrings. And, in fact, the position of your feet as you perform all calves exercises tweaks the angle at which your muscles get worked and will help build lower-leg muscles faster. Joe Wuebben of Muscle and Fitness1 recommends doing each exercise three times with your feet positioned differently each time: toes pointed outward, toes pointed forward, and toes pointed inward.

Also interesting is that ExRx.net includes a small fourth muscle in the calves group: the popliteus. It’s the muscle in the back of your knee that connects your hamstrings to the muscles in the lower part of your leg, so it’s important not to ignore it when strengthening your calves. The exercise website recommends hamstring exercises that involve knee flexion movements to target this small but significant muscle.

Sample Calf Workout

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Using bands for your calves workout is a safe way to add resistance for building muscle and they won’t tax your joints.

With a ton of calf exercises to pick from, you can do a different routine every time you work your calves. To make it easy, pick one exercise to target each calf muscle and do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps of them on calves day. For example, you could do standing barbell calf raises, seated lever plate-loaded calf raises, and reverse calf presses (done off the top of the platform on the hip sled). Once you’ve mastered those or hit a plateau, then try out the other types of raises and presses. In addition to building stronger lower-leg muscles and easing your foot pain, you’ll get some nice definition in your calves–just the kind you want during swimsuit and shorts season.

1Wuebben, Joe. “The Level Up Series: Calves.” Muscle & Fitness. May 2017: 127

The Pain In Your Foot: Plantar Fasciitis

It’s bad enough to have tired, aching feet at the end of the day, but it’s even worse to wake up with foot pain. If you find it painful to walk after getting out of bed first thing in the morning, you may be suffering from plantar fasciitis. According to WebMD, although walking around may initially alleviate the morning pain, it’s typical for the soreness and discomfort to return with a vengeance later on, especially if you spend a lot of time on your feet throughout the day. Plantar fasciitis is a condition that’s not fully understood. That has led the experts to cover their bases and behinds by mentioning everything that could be the cause as well as numerous solutions that might help but, in the end, the actual causes and effective treatments can depend on individual circumstances.

We’re not claiming to know all the answers or have the final word in plantar fasciitis, but we have done a little digging around and want to share the information we’ve found. Depending on your physical health and lifestyle, you may find it useful.

It’s Not What They Say

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The plantar fascia is the band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot, from heel to toes. Image by mmarchin/Flickr

The plantar fascia is the band of tissues that runs along the bottom of your foot from heel bone to toes. Many people compare it to an archery bow because that’s what is resembles. It’s naturally taut, though flexible, and supports the arch in your foot. If you’ve done any research on your own, you’ve probably seen authoritative resources refer to it as a tendon, but that’s not completely true. The plantar fascia tissue is closer to being a ligament because it connects bone to bone, rather than connecting muscle to bone.

That misclassification isn’t the only misleading thing about conventional plantar fasciitis information. The pain is typically attributed to inflammation, thus the “itis” at the end of the name. However, a study published in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association found that tissue inflammation is not typically present with the true cases of the condition, and that it is actually a case of tissue degeneration. Sometimes degenerative issues can develop as you age and sometimes they are genetic.

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis-osis?

Running–or even standing or walking–on hard surfaces can result in plantar fascia pain.

No one has been able to really pinpoint one, conclusive cause of plantar fascia pain, but many educated theories are floating around out there. Some common hypotheses include:

  • obesity
  • improperly fitting shoes
  • over pronation–rolling your feet inward as you walk
  • standing, walking, or running on hard surfaces for extended periods of time
  • high arches
  • no arches–flat feet

Notice how those last two seem to conflict with each other? Having arches can cause pain, but so does not having them?

In some cases, the way your foot is shaped can cause you to develop plantar fascia pain. Sometimes that can be caused by an injury like if you break your foot and it heals screwy, but you can also be born with an abnormality, like science writer Paul Ingram. He was born with a slight deformity of his foot bones that interferes with his arch and has caused chronic problems with his plantar fascia.

If you have plantar fascia pain that isn’t an inherited condition or due to the shape of your foot, it’s probably the result of a repetitive use injury, kind of like carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, or runner’s knee.

Pain Treatments and Management

A foot massage will feel good and may temporarily alleviate plantar fascia pain, but it’s not a long-term fix.

There are a number of ways medical professionals treat plantar fascia pain and,  according to Sports Injury Clinic, many times the plan of attack is to use a combination of methods. That is likely due to the fact that the cause is difficult to pinpoint, so your healthcare provider will cast a wide net to increase the odds of addressing what’s really at the root of your problem. In severe cases when more conservative treatment doesn’t help, steroid injections or surgery might be recommended. However, in the study mentioned above, the researchers concluded that steroid injections weren’t necessarily the best treatment for the condition because they cannot stop or reverse tissue degeneration and have the potential to cause further damage to the plantar fascia.

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Weighted calf raises are just one resistance exercise that will strengthen your calf muscles for a longer-term solution for your foot pain.

Managing the pain through therapies and lifestyle changes may be your best bet. Over the counter painkillers can help, and you can try over the counter orthotic inserts in your shoes or have your doctor prescribe custom-made ones. Physical therapists have seen some improvement in patients who wear special splints at night that stretch the plantar fascia and the Achilles tendon during sleep. Physical therapists also recommend calf stretches for plantar fascia pain, but you shouldn’t stop with simple stretching. Strengthening your calf and other lower-leg muscles is a proven way to effectively combat the pain. A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports found that people who participated in high-load strength training for their legs and calves experienced faster plantar fascia pain reduction and improved function than those who only performed stretches.

Dealing With a Cervical Herniated Disc

Neck injuries can be sudden, or they can creep up on you. Maybe you wiped out on your rollerblades and, other than a scraped elbow and some overall soreness, you didn’t think you were injured. Then, after an aggressive workout a couple of months or even years later, you start experiencing pain and weakness in your shoulders and arms and possibly tingling in your hands. While it could be a new injury brought on by the workout, it could also be the old injury coming back to haunt you if your fall caused a disc in your neck to herniate.

A cervical herniated disc, also known as a bulging disc, isn’t a condition that will go away quickly on its own, especially if you continue to try to push through the pain and work out. A short break from some exercise is required, and you should absolutely see a doctor or chiropractor for treatment so you can recover as soon as possible.

Injuries Not Required

Sports injuries, like a rollerblade wreck, can easily cause a herniated disc. However, Spine Health reveals that those pesky discs can spontaneously start bulging for no apparent reason in people over the age of 30. However you acquire the condition, the result is the same. The inner, gel-like core of a disc sitting between two vertebrae squeezes out and presses up against the nerves in your spine. Because of the tight fit between your neck and spinal cord, it doesn’t even have to be much of a bulge to cause pain to run down your shoulders, through your arms, and into your hands.

Treating a Herniated Cervical Disc

Chiropractic treatment can be an effective way to control pain caused by a herniated cervical disc. Image by Michael Dorausch/Flickr

You might try to tough it out for a day or two, but the pain that’s a symptom of your condition will likely have you calling the doctor. That’s all for the best because the sooner you get treatment, the sooner you can get back to life as usual. Whether you consult a medical doctor who specializes in treating the spine or a chiropractor, either will likely prescribe rest from strenuous activities for at least a few days–maybe longer, depending on the severity of your condition. Giving up your workouts can be almost as hard to deal with as the pain, but relieving the pain is top priority and will mean you can get back to exercising.

As for actual treatment, WebMD says that conservative, nonsurgical treatment is usually the first thing doctors recommend and, unless the injury is severe, it’s best to try to avoid surgery. Over the counter medications are typically sufficient for relieving inflammation and pain, but your doctor may prescribe something stronger if aspirin or ibuprofen aren’t cutting it. He might also fit you with a soft collar to apply traction to your neck. That will draw the vertebrae apart enough to pull the bulging disc away from your spinal cord. Your doc may also refer you to a physical therapist to learn some exercises that will protect and strengthen your neck, or he might even show you how to do them himself.

Exercises to Avoid, Exercises to Do

No. You read that right. Part of your treatment for a bulging disc in your neck is exercising, but not necessarily the hardcore, heavy resistance you’re used to. According to LIVESTRONG, during recovery you should avoid activities that put pressure on your neck, arms, and shoulders, as well as ones that strain your spine in general. You’ll probably find it next to impossible to lift your arms over your head when you have a herniated cervical disc, but you shouldn’t be lifting anything over your head with that condition anyway. If not being able to exercise makes you crazy, do some cardio on the elliptical. Because it’s practically zero-impact and you remain erect while working out on an elliptical machine, it’s the preferred way to exercise with a neck injury. A stationary bike is fine, too, as long as you remain upright and don’t lean forward. Doing so puts you in a position to crane your neck back, which will aggravate the injured disc.

Your doctor or PT will have you do lateral neck bends for a bulging disc in your neck. Image by motivationaldoc/YouTube

But what about these exercises that your doctor will want you to do?  HealthLine lists a few neck-friendly exercises and stretches including

  • head lifts
  • chin tucks
  • neck extensions
  • lateral neck bends
  • neck rotations
  • scalene stretches

Doctors and physical therapists alike have found MacKenzie exercises to be effective for helping eliminate pain from the extremities so the disc can become better. Unfortunately, herniated discs don’t really heal, although you can manage them with proper exercise and lifestyle modification. Yes, that means you may not be able to compete in powerlifting meets anymore and will have to do your neck stretches and exercises as often as you do a resistance workout. If that means your disc will slide back and stay where it belongs, leaving you pain-free, it’s worth it.

Strengthening Your Neck

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Shoulder shrugs done with resistance bands are as effective as dumbbell shrugs, but they aren’t as likely to aggravate your injury.

Take advantage of the times when your herniated disk isn’t acting up by incorporating neck-strengthening exercises into your routine. Building up the muscles in your neck and shoulders will support your cervical spine to minimize opportunities for the disk to bulge again. According to Bodybuilding.com, some effective exercises are

  • barbell and dumbbell shrugs
  • front dumbbell raises
  • side lateral raises

Even if you favor free weights as your preferred form of resistance, consider working out with resistance bands the first couple of weeks after your doctor has released you to exercise again. Bands are as effective as iron but won’t be as stressful on your neck, shoulder joints, and tendons.

Losing Weight With Hypothyroidism

Gaining weight that’s hard to take off is one effect of a malfunctioning thyroid.

Recently, a reader reached out and requested help with losing weight. While that is a typical issue we deal with all the time, this person is dealing with a not-so-typical roadblock: hypothyroidism. According to Web MD, it’s a disorder of the thyroid gland, also known as underactive thyroid disease. When the thyroid doesn’t perform as it should, not producing enough thyroid hormone in this case, all kinds of health issues can arise including slowed heart rate, fatigue, inexplicable weight gain and difficulty taking weight off.

The fatigue and slowed heart rate alone can make you want to skip exercising, or will at least interfere with how vigorously you go at it, but exercise is one of the four key things you can do to control your weight with hypothyroidism. With your body working against weight loss, you have more of a challenge ahead of you than other people do, so don’t get discouraged if your progress is slow at first. If you get serious about doing the things that can help you lose weight, you really will see results.

Work Closely With Your Doctor

Your doctor is a valuable partner in the quest to lose weight with hypothyroidism.

Even under normal circumstances, everyone’s body is different. That’s why different exercise regimens and diets affect everyone differently. If you have hypothyroidism, getting your doctor’s input every step of the way on your path to weight loss will help you tailor a program that works for you. Let your doctor know how your medication is affecting you, such as how it makes you feel and the ways you see your body reacting. She should be checking your reverse T3 levels on a regular basis anyway and may adjust your prescription a few times to get it right. Also, make sure she knows about other medications you are on as well as vitamins and supplements you’re taking. Discuss planned dietary changes and the type of workout you’d like to do, as well. Your doctor may have some helpful advice for you in both areas.

Fine Tuning Your Diet

Reduce processed foods and get more lean protein, whole grains, and fresh vegetables to fine tune your diet and encourage weight loss if your thyroid isn’t working right.

One of the problems with hypothyroidism that makes it hard to lose weight is that the hormonal imbalance it causes affects the signals your body sends to your brain. One of those signals is hunger, and you may find yourself craving carbs or thinking you’re hungry when your body really doesn’t need the fuel. You do still need a reasonable amount of calories, though, so going on a reduced calorie diet isn’t the answer. According to Dr. Kent Holtorf, doing so when you have hypothyroidism can reduce your metabolism and keep it burning slow (in starvation mode) years after you ditch the diet and increase your caloric intake.

The solution is to continue to eat the number of calories you need to function and stay healthy, but make them quality calories. Avoid processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and products made with white flour including pasta, pastries, and bread. Structure meals to include lean protein, fresh vegetables, and healthy fats–go organic, if you can. Also, Everyday Health points out that digestive function can be slowed along with metabolism for people who have hypothyroidism. To help with digestion as well as keep you from overeating, cut your meal size, but increase the number of times you eat in a day, eating smaller but more frequent meals. You might even consider taking digestive enzymes.

Move It to Lose It

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If hypothyroidism leaves you drained, resistance exercises are effective for helping with weight loss.

OK, we just told you not to go on a reduced calorie diet, so here is where you burn those “extra” calories instead of cutting them. If hypothyroidism has you feeling too fatigued to do a HIIT class, start out slow and go for a walk instead. If you have the energy, kick it up a notch and do an aerobics class or turn that walk into a jog or run. Once you start exercising, you’ll have more energy and will eventually be able to increase the intensity of your exercise. Experts advise that resistance training is just as important for your health as cardio is–and even more so for hypothyroidism patients. That makes it essential to include regular weight lifting or resistance band training days in your workout schedule. Plus, for those who just don’t have the energy for cardio, resistance training is an effective way to work exercise into your lifestyle. It burns extra calories and it builds lean muscle which, in turn, helps increase your metabolism to–that’s right!–burn even more calories. Once you have your energy back, resistance training in a HIIT format is ultra-effective for burning fat and building muscle.

Getcher Z’s

Incorporate relaxing rituals into your bedtime routine, like taking a relaxing bubble bath.

Hormonal imbalance from hypothyroidism can also interfere with sleep, but adequate sleep is essential for losing weight. In fact, a study done at the University of Chicago found that getting adequate rest increases the amount of fat you can lose with diet and exercise. Eating cleaner and exercising can help you get a better night’s sleep when you have hypothyroidism, but there are additional things you can do to get better quality sleep with an overactive thyroid. Everday Health suggests:

  • keeping your bedroom dark to stimulate your body’s melatonin production
  • turning the thermostat in your bedroom down, somewhere between 65 to 70°F
  • sleep on a supportive but comfortable bed, even if it means getting a new mattress
  • don’t eat a large meal right before bed, but do have a light snack of carbs if you’re feeling peckish
  • develop a calming bedtime routine and follow it every night, i.e.: listen to soothing music, soak in a warm bath, or read a book (a real one–not an ebook, because they have backlit screens that can make you more alert instead of relaxing you).