Friday, August 17, 2012

Just putting in time at the gym isn’t enough. If you want amazing results fast, you need to put equal emphasis on how you work out. To ramp up your fitness regimen and get ripped quickly, here’s what I advise: 
  1. High intensity interval training (HIIT). This simply means working short intervals of high intensity cardio into your strength-training routine. These cardio intervals can range from 20 seconds to 2 minutes. HIIT training enables you to burn more calories during your workout and hours after you’ve left the gym.
  2. Combination lifting. The concept here is combining two or more lifts into one exercise. For example, doing a squat at the same time as a bicep curl or a side lunge at the same time as a shoulder press. Because you’re working multiple muscle groups together, you burn more calories in a short time.
  3. Circuit training. This keeps you moving from exercise to exercise with no rest in between. So if you’re doing pushups, immediately go straight into a set of lunges. You’ve changed muscle groups, so you can rest the group you just exhausted, but still keep your heart rate up as you work your legs.
Now go get your burn on!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

  Jillian Michaels is someone that I love! I love her tips, her workout videos, her books and some of her recipes. Today's blog post is a good one that I feel a lot of us struggle with and continue to struggle with. In answering this question from a reader she gives some great advice and tips that I've never thought of and am going to be trying. Enjoy your reading!

Q: I have a hard time saying no to my cravings. When I go out to the grocery store, I can’t seem to stop myself from purchasing chips or chocolate bars. How can I stop this bad habit and not be tempted?Chris Goodine (via email)
A: Chris, having struggled with these issues personally, I have developed a somewhat unorthodox approach to cravings. I give in to them. Before your head explodes let me expand on that with two caveats:
I make the healthier treat choice. You mention that chips are one of your cravings. Think Popchips® instead of fried, greasy chips. Think all-natural frozen sorbet instead of regular ice cream. Same for chocolate bars; think Green & Black’s Organic® dark or white chocolate bars or Newman’s Own Organics® peanut butter cups in dark or milk chocolate instead of your run of the mill candy bar from the local convenience store. I could go on and on with healthier options. What makes one choice better than the other are the ingredients. You want to avoid “foods” with hormones, Trans fats (hydrogenated oils), HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup), artificial colors and flavors, MSG and so on. You see, your body doesn’t know how to process these chemicals and preservatives so they wreak havoc on your biochemistry, throwing your metabolism and overall health grossly out of whack. Sugar or salt on the other hand, while certainly not good for you, can be tolerated and processed by your body safely when consumed in moderation.
Which brings me to my second caveat ...
I follow the 80/20 rule. Make 20 percent of your daily controlled-calories allowance the treat food of your choice. While I am not a believer in “free” or “cheat” days, I do allow myself a treat every day. My reasoning is that I personally feel bloated, gross, and disappointed in myself after I’ve binged on something during a conveniently titled “free” day. Also, one calorie-filled “cheat” day can erase many good days of hard work. Think about it. If you are creating a 500-calorie deficit a day (which would equal a pound of weight loss a week), then on Sunday you consume 3,000 to 4,000 calories, you have instantly wiped out roughly four days of hard work! Plus, it creates and rewards a binge mentality. The key to success is not all and then nothing. It’s a balanced approach that is thought out and rooted in the math of weight loss.
So, you see, I do eat ice cream, chocolate, and chips. I just don’t binge on them and I don’t eat chemicals. EVER. You can’t deny a craving. The more you do the worse the kick back is going to be when you fall off the wagon.
If you find it hard to stop eating once you start, try a few of these techniques. First, buy treats in single-serving portions. Don’t get bags of chips or cookies and keep them in the house if you have trouble with binging. Second, take a few bites of the treat, and then occupy yourself with something else. Tell yourself that if you still want it after 15 minutes you will allow yourself more. You will find that 90 percent of the time your body will have had a chance to register the sugar or salt you were craving and feel satiated. Third, use logic. Think through the treat. Play it out in your head before you do it. Ask yourself how you will feel AFTER the binge has occurred. Probably guilty and disappointed with yourself, right? Knowing and feeling that ahead of time, let those emotions drive you to make better decisions and subsequently turn to a habit or behavior that rewards and fulfills you in life affirming ways like a bubble bath, foot massage, exercise, or a coffee with a good friend.
A life without treats is not only a virtual impossibility, but one I personally wouldn’t find worth living. Ok, I am exaggerating — a little. Food is not just fuel. It’s meant to be enjoyed and savored. Not denied and not abused. Acknowledge this, practice balance, and it all will work out fine.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Namaste A-Okay: 3 Surprising Ways Yoga Benefits You (Including Weight Loss!)

Yoga is invigoration in relaxation. Freedom in routine. Confidence through self control. Energy within and energy without.
—Ymber Delecto

The economy is a mess, the unemployment rate is at an all-time sustainable high, and people are feeling more insecure than ever. It's no surprise that the popularity of yoga is on the rise. Yes, this may be partly due to celebrity fads or the popularity of yoga pants and the resulting need to fit into them, but it may also be that people feel out of control in their outer worlds, so they're seeking the internal balance only a consistent yoga practice can bring. At any rate, this rise in popularity has researchers buzzing. Check out all the new research that supports you de-stressing on the mat.

Woman Meditating

  1. Woman StretchingBrain building. Yogis and yoginis alike are pretty hot and happy-looking people. The gift of walking around with a smile on your face while looking sexy in your hard tails is enough to win the attention of almost anyone. But it turns out yoga can help your brain as well. Researchers from Boston University, New York Medical College, and Columbia report that certain imbalances in the brain occur when a person suffers from depression or stress-related conditions. These imbalances include low activity of gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA), an issue linked to epilepsy, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and PTSD. The researchers found that yoga increases the activity of GABA, which in turn significantly improves symptoms. They suggest that, "This has far-reaching implications for the integration of yoga-based practices in the treatment of a broad array of disorders exacerbated by stress." In other words, you can treat depression while getting in shape at the same time.

    In January 2012, a study published in The Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research reported that yoga seemed protective/preventive for secondary school students when it came to controlling anger and feeling fatigue. Students were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The first did 11 weeks of physical activity and the second did 11 weeks of yoga. They found that the adolescents in the yoga group revealed "statistically significant differences over time relative to controls on measures of anger control and fatigue/inertia." The results, according to researchers, "suggest that implementation of yoga is acceptable and feasible in a secondary school setting and has the potential of playing a protective or preventive role in maintaining mental health."

    Smart cars. Smart water. Looks like yoga may join them as the Smart workout.
  2. Woman on ScaleFighting fat. The average person is likely to practice yoga to increase flexibility, improve balance, relieve stress, and reduce pain. But did you know yoga can also help you lose weight? Yoga may not burn as many calories as cardio, but it does influence your mind to help you lose and maintain a healthy weight.

    Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle conducted a 15,550-person public health study measuring physical activity, including yoga and weight change. Those who practiced yoga for 4 years showed a 3-lb. lower weight gain among normal-weight participants (BMI of less than 25) and an 18.5-lb. lower weight gain among overweight subjects.

    In 2011, researchers from The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, integrated yoga into eating disorder programs and weight management for obesity, at which point a small, randomized study of yoga for obese women was conducted. The subjects who practiced yoga for 16 weeks showed an impressive decrease in body weight, body fat percentage, BMI, waist circumference, and visceral fat area in comparison to those who didn't.

    Still not convinced? Researchers in Australia gathered data from 20 personal journals to examine the experience of a 12-week yoga treatment program for binge eating among a sample of 25 women who were obese. They noticed a positive shift experienced by the women during the program. "Specifically, women perceived an overall reduction in the quantity of food they consumed, decreased eating speed, and an improvement in food choices throughout the program." The women were able to establish a healthy reconnection with food, demonstrate self-empowerment, and in turn lose weight.

    Yoga literally changed these ladies' relationship to food. Maybe it can do the same for you.
  3. Woman Holding Back in PainConquering chronic pain. Therapeutic yoga is beginning to rise in popularity for many health conditions, particularly for chronic pain sufferers. It attacks the problem on many levels by preventing, reducing, or alleviating structural, physiological, emotional, and spiritual pain, suffering, or limitations. Furthermore, people who suffer from chronic pain may find they are better able to relax easier, think clearer, and get healthier.

    At the West Virginia University School of Medicine, researchers found that people who suffered from chronic lower back pain had significant reductions in pain intensity, functional disability, and pain medication usage after practicing 3 months of Iyengar yoga therapy.

    In another study, researchers from Oregon Health and Science University evaluated the success rate of a program derived from Kripalu yoga for female fibromyalgia patients. They found that the yoga group (as compared to the control group who did not practice yoga) showed incredible improvements regarding their fibromyalgia symptoms. The same researchers conducted a similar study with patients suffering from menopausal symptoms due to recovering from breast cancer. They found that post-treatment, women who received the yoga program showed significant improvements. At a 3-month follow-up, the subjects maintained their level of improvement.

    Lastly, researchers at Uludag University in Turkey found that, "A simplified yoga-based rehabilitation program is a complementary, safe and effective clinical treatment modality in patients with end-stage renal disease." They found that a 12-week intervention significantly improved pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance, and grip strength. If yoga can help with situations as serious as these, imagine what it can do for your daily aches and pains.
Many people make the mistake of thinking yoga is for hippies and housewives, but as you can see, yoga is a well-rounded exercise with benefits backed by a growing body of research. If you're looking for a relaxing, life-changing way to exercise, yoga might just be the thing for you. So give it a try. What have you got to lose? A cloudy mind? Excess weight? Chronic pain? Absolutely!
  • Streeter C.C., Gerbarg P.L., Saper R.B., Ciraulo D.A., Brown R.P. Effects of yoga on the autonomic nervous system, gamma-aminobutyric-acid, and allostasis in epilepsy, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder Medical Hypotheses.
  • Evaluation of the mental health benefits of yoga in a secondary school: a preliminary randomized controlled trial. J Behav Health Serv Res. 2012 Jan ;39(1):80-90.
  • Kristal AR, Littman AJ, Benitez D, White E. Yoga practice is associated with attenuated weight gain in healthy, middle-aged men and women. Altern Ther Health Med. 2005;11(4):28-33.
  • Lee JA, Kim JW, Kim DY. Effects of yoga exercise on serum adiponectin and metabolic syndrome factors in obese postmenopausal women. Menopause. 2011; Epub ahead of print.
  • McIver S, McGartland M, O’Halloran P. "Overeating is not about the food: women describe their experience of a yoga treatment program for binge eating." Qual Health Res. 2009; 19(9):1234-1245.
  • Mody BS. Acute effects of Surya Namaskar on the cardiovascular & metabolic system. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2011;15(3):343-347.
  • Anava A. Wren, Melissa A. Wright, James W. Carson, Francis J. Keefe. "Yoga for persistent pain: New findings and directions for an ancient practice." PAIN - March 2011 (Vol. 152, Issue 3, Pages 477-480, DOI: 10.1016/j.pain.2010.11.017)
  • An eight-week yoga intervention is associated with improvements in pain, psychological functioning and mindfulness, and changes in cortisol levels in women with fibromyalgia. Curtis K, Osadchuk A, Katz J. J Pain Res. 2011; 4:189-201. Epub 2011 Jul 26.
  • A modified yoga-based exercise program in hemodialysis patients: a randomized controlled study. Complement Ther Med. 2007 Sep ;15(3):164-71. Epub 2006 Aug. 22.
  • Yoga of Awareness program for menopausal symptoms in breast cancer survivors: results from a randomized trial. James W. Carson, Kimberly M. Carson, Laura S. Porter, Francis J. Keefe, Victoria L. Seewaldt Support Care Cancer. 2009 October; 17(10): 1301–1309. Published online 2009 February 12. doi: 10.1007/s00520-009-0587-5
  • Effect of Iyengar yoga therapy for chronic low back pain. Pain. 2005 May ;115(1-2):107-17.

Monday, January 2, 2012

How to Get Back on the Wagon

It happens — you over-indulged over the holidays, missed a few workouts and now you feel like you've fallen off the weight-loss wagon. It's tempting to mentally slap yourself around, right? (Or head for the fridge.) Before you start, I want to remind you of something: Being hard on yourself is so 2009 — that's the Old You.

The New You knows how to deal with setbacks and get back on the wagon. And after all, there are no mistakes, just learning experiences. Weight loss is a process — it takes time. You will encounter small failures — everyone does — but every pound you gain can be lost.

And if you miss a workout, it's not the end of the world! Get to the gym the next day and continue to focus on your short-term goals. Just because you made bad choices today doesn't mean you can't start over tomorrow. New day? New beginning. And don't you forget it!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Benefit of Vitamin E

The majority of vitamin E's benefits stem from its antioxidant qualities. That means it combines with oxygen and destroys free radicals. It protects polyunsaturated fats and other oxygen-sensitive compounds such as vitamin A from being destroyed by damaging oxidation reactions.

Vitamin E and Antioxidation

Vitamin E's antioxidant properties are also important to cell membranes. For example, vitamin E protects lung cells that are in constant contact with oxygen and white blood cells that help fight disease.

But the benefits of vitamin E's antioxidant role may actually go much further. There is significant evidence vitamin E can protect against heart disease and may slow the deterioration associated with aging. Critics scoffed at such claims in the past, but an understanding of the importance of vitamin E's antioxidant role may be beginning to pay off. However, as with betacarotene, the effect of vitamin E in preventing heart disease may be both timing-sensitive and dose sensitive.

Vitamin E also acts as an antioxidant in foods. The vitamin E in vegetable oils helps keep them from being oxidized and turning rancid. Likewise, it protects vitamin A in foods from being oxidized. This makes vitamin E a useful food preservative.

The Therapeutic Value of Vitamin E

As an antioxidant with a powerful punch, vitamin E helps prevent cancer, heart disease, strokes, cataracts, and possibly some of the signs of aging.

Vitamin E protects artery walls and keeps the "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from being oxidized. Oxidation of LDL cholesterol marks the beginning of clogged arteries. Vitamin E also keeps the blood thin by preventing blood platelets from clumping together. High levels of vitamin E in the body decrease the risk of a non-fatal heart attack or stroke in most people.

A dynamic cancer fighter, vitamin E protects cells and DNA from damage that can turn cancerous. It reduces the growth of tumors while enhancing immune function and preventing precancerous substances from being turned into carcinogens. Studies with mice show that vitamin E applied to the skin may help prevent skin cancer resulting from exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

Women who suffer from fibrocystic breast disease can often find relief with vitamin E supplementation. Fibrocystic breast disease is characterized by painful breasts, sometimes with benign lumps or swelling, starting several days before the menstrual period. Researchers aren't sure why vitamin E helps this condition, but numerous studies indicate that it does.

Vitamin E can be beneficial to people with diabetes. It enhances the action of insulin and improves blood glucose metabolism by reducing oxidative stress.

This humble nutrient keeps the nervous system healthy by protecting the myelin sheaths that surround nerves. It also appears to prevent mental degeneration due to aging, possibly including Alzheimer disease.

Athletes need to get adequate amounts of vitamin E. The body's own metabolism creates free radicals during excessive aerobic exercise. Vitamin E reserves make sure these free radicals don't get out of hand and cause trouble. Vitamin E therapy also treats claudication-pains in the calf muscles that occur at night or during exercise.

Premature babies receive vitamin E to reduce or prevent oxygen damage to the retina of the eye as a result of artificial ventilation.

Ongoing animal studies suggest that vitamin E may limit lung damage caused by air pollution. It appears that vitamin E can reduce the activity of such common air pollutants as ozone and nitrogen dioxide.

Vitamin E applied to cuts may very well increase the healing rate because it minimizes oxidation reactions in the wound and also keeps the wound moist.

Many women report that vitamin E helps reduce hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause.
Though vitamin E can slow down the oxidation of fats that occurs in aging, experimental studies have not shown it to increase the life span of animals. Neither has it been shown to control such signs of aging as wrinkled skin or gray hair.

However, the vitamin may indeed delay or prevent some diseases or a loss of function related to aging. Recent studies have reported improved short-term memory in older adults who took supplemental vitamin E. While vitamin E may not make you live longer, it may help you live a little better as you get older.

There are many more uses of vitamin E that science is only beginning to investigate. This helpful vitamin will probably continue to make the news every so often.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

5 ways to ease hunger pains

Do you start getting hunger pangs at 11:50 a.m. in anticipation of lunch? We've all been there. The cause is the hormone ghrelin; released when the stomach is empty, it sets off a chain reaction in the body to make you hungry. In general, you want to keep levels of ghrelin low during the day so you can keep hunger in check. Apart from an empty stomach, there are several factors that can raise ghrelin levels, including drinking alcohol, eating too few calories, and eating greasy, fatty foods. Here are some strategies that will help you manage these triggers and keep your ghrelin levels from rising:

Have a substantial breakfast. One study showed that people who ate a higher-calorie breakfast produced 33 percent less ghrelin throughout the day and felt satisfied for a longer period of time. Try a whole-wheat English muffin with organic peanut butter, a cup of strawberries, and some low-fat yogurt.

Choose complex carbs and get more fiber. Insulin and ghrelin go hand in hand. When insulin goes up after you eat, ghrelin goes down. If you eat the wrong kind of carbohydrates — refined carbs such as white bread and pasta — your blood sugar rises dramatically. In response, your body releases a surge of insulin to clear that sugar from the bloodstream. The insulin does its job very efficiently, and the resulting low blood sugar causes hunger sooner. These constant blood sugar ups and downs can wreak havoc on your metabolism, so it's best to eat complex carbs and fiber, which delay the release of sugar into the bloodstream so that insulin levels are kept stable and you feel full longer.

Eat on a schedule. Research has found that ghrelin levels rise and fall at your usual mealtimes, so eating on a schedule prevents spikes in ghrelin. If you're running errands and are away from the kitchen at one of your typical mealtimes, carry a small bag of almonds or other nuts with you — you can eat a little something to keep your stomach satisfied until you can get home and have a real meal.

Emphasize high-volume, low-calorie foods. Levels of ghrelin remain high until food stretches the walls of your stomach, making you feel full. High-volume, low-calorie foods, such as salads and soups, reduce ghrelin levels long before you've overeaten. All green veggies and any foods with a high water content count as high-volume, low-calorie foods.

Eat protein. Protein-rich foods can also suppress ghrelin levels — they help create a long-lasting feeling of fullness. Try adding whey protein to a low-calorie smoothie. (If you're sensitive to gluten, just be sure to check the ingredients list; some whey protein products contain gluten.) One study found that whey brought about a prolonged suppression of ghrelin.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Best Low Fat Ice Cream and Frozen Treats

By Molly Raisch at Prevention Mag

Ice cream is the perfect remedy to steamy, hot weather, but sometimes the calorie counts on the carton are downright scary. That's why we found frozen desserts that don't melt under scrutiny. These healthy treats get our vote (with a cherry on top!).

So Delicious Dairy Free Vanilla Frozen Dessert (½ cup)

Nutrition: 130 cal; 1 g pro; 13 g sugar; 3 g fiber; 3 g fat

Like: This soy treat tastes just like the real deal, making it perfect for people who have lactose intolerance.

Healthy takeaway: Some dairy-free varieties--based on soy, coconut, and rice milk--can be high in fat and sugar.

Breyers French Chocolate Fat Free (½ cup)

Nutrition: 90 cal; 3 g pro; 13 g sugar; 4 g fiber; 0 g fat

Like: Our pick has less fat than many premium frozen desserts and also boasts fiber, which gives it more texture.

Healthy takeaway: Be cautious about fudge ribbons, which are mostly corn syrup with a dab of artificial dye.

Stonyfield Farm Organic Nonfat Frozen Yogurt (½ cup)

Nutrition: 100 cal; 4 g pro; 18 g sugar; 1 g fiber; 0 g fat

Like: This carton is packed with the good-for-your-gut bacteria that we love in yogurt.

Healthy takeaway: Other fro-yos lure you in by touting their "live and active cultures," but the actual yogurt portion can be minuscule.

Ciao Bella Blood Orange Sorbet (½ cup)

Nutrition: 60 cal; 0 g pro; 16 g sugar; 0 g fiber; 0 g fat

Like: A keeper! It's bursting with flavor, plus it has 50% of your daily vitamin C intake.

Healthy takeaway: Many sorbets have no real fruit in sight. Steer clear of ones with ice cream swirls, which drive up the calories and fat.

Julie's Organic Juliette Ice Cream Sandwiches (1 bar)

Nutrition: 100 cal; 2 g pro; 6 g sugar; 0 g fiber; 0 g fat

Like: You're less likely to overindulge because these organic novelty bars are portion controlled for you.

Healthy takeaway: Some ice-cream sandwiches swap the wafers for cookies, doubling the calories.

Edy's All Natural Fruit Bars Strawberry (1 bar)

Nutrition: 80 cal; 0 g pro; 20 g sugar; 1 g fiber; 0 g fat

Like: The real strawberry bits in this pop taste like summer. No high fructose corn syrup here.

Healthy takeaway: Beware varieties that resemble a chemistry project: Would you like a little sodium benzoate with your polysorbate 80?