Day: February 12, 2016

Beat the Belly Bloat! 5 Fast Flat Tummy Tips

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It’s one thing to have extra weight in the abdominal area that makes it appear larger, but what about the stomach with minimal fat and good muscle tone that still looks distended?

It can be very demotivating to work so hard getting those abs of steel ready for the world, only to have a puffy tummy ruin your plans to rock the skinny jeans you’d hoped to wear.

Belly bloat happens for many reasons, and most of them have nothing to do with your level of fitness. If you can figure out exactly what’s causing your abs to extend, despite your hours of crunches and calorie counting, you can eliminate this problem forever… and wear whatever you want, whenever you want.

Below are some of the reasons the abdominal area can look swollen, and 5 easy things everyone can do to avoid this annoying phenomenon:

 

1. Drink More Water—

What? Drink more water? But won’t that increase water weight bloating, you might ask?

Wrong. The concept of water weight being the main cause of belly bloat is a myth. When people actually do retain water, it’s often because of excess sodium in the diet, but most often presents in the feet and ankles – not the stomach area.

This doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to cut down on sodium-laden foods if you’re experiencing any type of bloating, however. Increasing potassium can also push water out of the cells, slimming your face and preventing all types of water retention.

But the most effective thing you can do to eliminate belly bloat in particular is to drink more water because dehydration can lead to constipation and gas, the main causes of this embarrassingly puffy problem.

By drinking lots of water, you’ll keep your gastrointestinal system lubricated and moving, ensuring that everything you eat goes through in a timely manner to keep gas from building up. And avoid carbonated beverages, because they contain air bubbles, which are the last thing a distended tummy needs.

 

2. Skip the Starches—

Have you ever looked at a starchy food in water, such as crackers, pasta or bread soaking in the sink? If you have, you probably noticed they swell greatly in size when wet.

Because they also puff up this way in your stomach, it’s best to skip simple carbohydrates and starchy foods, like white rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and white flour products. Instead, stick with lean protein, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates.

Non-starchy foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains also contain higher levels of fiber, which can help keep you regular, reducing bloating caused by constipation.

 

3. Work It Out—

It’s been shown in multiple studies that exercise is great for keeping the digestive system in shape, with a workout often leading to gastrointestinal movement, especially if the abdominal muscles are activated.

This means that if you were thinking about skipping the gym because you feel bloated, put on a baggy shirt and get to sweating. Because even though you don’t feel like it, that strength training or cardio session might reduce your stomach swelling. (Even just walking 15 minutes a day has been shown to reduce constipation.)

Yoga is another form of exercise that’s great for the internal organs, with certain poses that can speed up digestion and ease cramping or gas pains.

 

4. Flourishing Intestinal Flora—

Probiotics have been shown to help us stay healthy by boosting our immune systems, but they’re best known for the role they play in assisting with digestion and nutrient absorption.

If you’ve taken antibiotics in the last year and you’re experiencing belly bloat issues, this might be the reason, because every time antibiotics are taken they kill all the helpful intestinal bacteria along with the bad bacteria in the body, leaving your digestive system in disarray.

If you like yogurt, there are many with probiotics added that can be a great way to build up your intestinal flora, promote good digestion, and decrease belly bloat.

Kefir is a plain or flavored yogurt drink sold in many stores that contains a large amount of these beneficial bacteria, and can be easily added to your morning smoothie.

Many people simply take daily probiotics in pill form, as this allows consistent delivery of many good bacterial strains. Lactobacillus acidophilus, B. infantis and bifodobacterium lactis are 3 probiotic strains proven to specifically lessen belly bloating, so make sure you ingest them, whichever way you choose.

 

5. Drop the Dairy—

The first thing a doctor will usually tell a patient complaining about stomach issues is to cease all dairy. With 1 in 10 people unable to handle too much lactose, this is a common cause of bloating and cramping for many.

There are now multiple substitutes available, such as almond, soy, flax, coconut and rice milks, so sample these, find your favorite, and make the switch. If milk has been the cause of your abdominal issues, you should notice the difference within days.

You may also notice that your skin clears up and your sinuses are clearer, as food allergies can cause skin and respiratory problems as well.

 

Most belly bloat is caused by trapped gas, and not water retention, so as you can see from the tips above, keeping the digestive system working properly is the best way to get rid of this inner inflation. If you’re dealing with a puffy tummy, try to make some of the changes you’ve read about today, and keep the abs you work so hard to maintain looking flat and sexy, all of the time.

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Skinny Secrets: 7 Ways Naturally Fit People Stay in Super Shape

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Genetics certainly play a role in whatever body shape we’re given, but there are habits that people who stay lean and in shape seem to share that may contribute to their fit physiques.

Sometimes we sabotage ourselves, despite our best efforts and hard work, simply because we’re missing a crucial piece of the diet or fitness picture; and that’s when we should look to the effortlessly trim among us and ask for answers.

What we’d love to know is how they stay in such super shape, and most importantly, how can we do the same?

Read below about 7 ways naturally fit people maintain their amazing bodies:

 

1. Break for Breakfast—

At this point, we all know the importance of eating something for breakfast so we aren’t starving by lunchtime, leading to overeating.

But what fit and trim people seem to do differently is to eat a smart breakfast: one including lean protein for long-term energy and muscle-building, with carbs for quick energy if exercise is in the near future.

For example, an egg white and vegetable omelet with whole grain toast would be a better choice than a sugary granola bar or a bagel.

 

2. Find a Fun Form of Exercise—

If you don’t like what you’re doing to stay in shape, you won’t stick with it, and consistency is the key to staying fit.

What those naturally thin people have figured out is that finding an enjoyable exercise program is the most important fitness factor, rather than following trends or blindly doing what they’ve been told is best.

If you dread your workouts, rather than looking forward to them, try some different activities until you find something fun.

 

3. Choose Water, and Often—

It’s highly unlikely you’ll see a trim person chugging sugary sodas or even diet sodas with artificial sweeteners that can actually make people feel hungry. Water is generally the drink of choice for most health-conscious and slim people.

Water also plays an important role in all of the metabolic processes of your body, so if you want to keep the engine burning calories at top speed, give it the fuel it needs (at least 8-10 glasses per day).

 

4. Prioritize Sleep—

Being tired can lead to compensatory overeating, lowering of willpower, and the release of the stress hormone cortisol which contributes to weight gain. Being tired can also make people crave sugar because of the boost of energy we know it will bring, and that’s not a healthy habit.

Try to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night to stay strong, get sick less often, and avoid unnecessary weight gain.

And listen to your body: if you’re utterly exhausted, don’t force yourself to exercise, as you might injure yourself, or have a crummy workout. Instead, go to bed early so you’ll wake up refreshed and ready to go the next day.

 

5. Make Smart Food Choices—

Rather than jumping onto the latest diet trends and seeking a magical weight loss recipe that doesn’t exist, people who stay effortlessly thin don’t diet at all: they simply make healthy food choices.

To do this, switch your focus from obsessively calorie counting to eating whole, real foods and controlling portions to reasonable sizes. You don’t need to be stuffed after every meal, nor should you ever feel hungry if you’re finding the right dietary balance.

 

6. No Lazy Weekends—

This doesn’t mean you can’t relax and have fun on your days off work, but people who maintain healthy bodies don’t use the weekends as an excuse to eat horrible foods and skip all workouts.

Go to the gym or do whatever form of exercise you normally do on the weekends, and then relax, knowing you haven’t lost progress.

An occasional treat is fine, obviously, but you want to avoid the bad habit of viewing weekends as excuses for endless gluttony and laziness.

 

7. No Comparisons—

One habit researchers have noticed most people who stay effortlessly fit share is that they don’t waste time comparing themselves to others.

This is an often demotivating exercise in pointlessness, as by trying to look like someone you’re not, you’re only setting yourself up for feelings of inadequacy and failure.

So don’t worry about how you compare to anyone else; you’re only competing with yourself to try to be the healthiest, fittest, best you that you can be.

 

Researchers have discovered that the slender people who seem to have been gifted with high metabolisms and a propensity for building lean muscle are actually doing many of the same things as each other, with similar dietary and lifestyle habits.

These findings imply that perhaps genetics don’t play as large a role in body size as we once thought, and most importantly, that maybe the rest of us can learn some of their good habits and get into super shape, too. Use the tips above to discover and start living the slimming secrets of the skinny.

A Beautiful Mind: 6 Great Ways Exercise Can Train the Brain

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We all know the physical benefits of exercise on the body, such as increased muscle mass, higher metabolism, a healthy cardiovascular system and increased bone mineral density, but there are many mental benefits to regular workouts as well.

In addition to keeping us in great shape, exercise can also help everyone be happier and more productive in every area of life by keeping us emotionally stable and mentally sharp.

Even just 30 minutes of cardio (such as brisk walking) 5 times a week has been shown to reduce the risk for many diseases, and can often psychologically stabilize exercisers without the use of medication.

In addition to exercising regularly for your body, you may want to consider participating in a consistent fitness program for your mind. Check out the reasons below to understand why getting physical is always a great idea.

 

1. Exercise Releases Feel-Good Brain Chemicals—

When we exercise, chemicals in the brain that make us feel happy, such as serotonin and dopamine, are released.

Everyone has different biology, and many neurological conditions feature a deficit of these particular chemicals, such as ADHD.

For this reason, many people with ADHD find that exercise helps them think more clearly, focus better, and boosts memory for hours after the workout is over, making it a helpful way to naturally combat symptoms.

But exercise offers this euphoric effect for all, and regardless of neurology, everybody can benefit from the increased clarity and brain power a workout will deliver.

 

2. Exercise Can Lessen Depression—

Depression affects many people, sometimes because of a bad situation or unhappy circumstances, and sometimes for physiological reasons beyond their control.

Whatever the cause, this debilitating mental illness can settle over the depressed person like a fog that won’t lift; causing fatigue, hopelessness and even physical pain. But if they can find a way to get some exercise, it has been shown to help in highly significant ways.

While exercise doesn’t seem to benefit those diagnosed as bipolar, it has drastically improved the mental state of those with depression in multiple studies, and is highly beneficial for those with anxiety disorders.

 

3. Exercise Helps Us Learn—

By increasing the neurotransmitters – dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin – exercise can boost the ability to focus, concentrate and stay alert, allowing those trying to learn a new skill or memorize material to do better.

If you have the type of job that requires constant training, daily updates, or have started a new career with different responsibilities and tasks, a workout before you start your day can motivate you and get your brain ready to retain information.

 

4. Exercise Keeps the Brain Young—

As we age, there is a natural decline in memory and cognitive function that occurs, with jokes about having a “senior moment” often being made in reference to this sometimes frustrating phenomenon.

The good news is that forgetting why we walked into a room can happen less often if we exercise as we age. The increased blood flow of a workout can actually help the brain retain its youthful function, with research showing significant improvement in older people who stay active.

 

5. Exercise Keeps the Brain Flexible—

Brain plasticity is what allows us to make new connections and adapt to change, which is an extremely important function in a constantly evolving world. You never know what’s going to happen next, and being ready to handle anything that comes your way is a great skill to have in your mental tool kit.

Researchers have discovered that regular exercise enhances and increases brain plasticity, stimulates protective brain chemicals, and promotes long-term memory, all things that help us mentally cope with new situations and challenges.

 

6. Exercise Helps the Brain Prioritize—

If you often feel overwhelmed, like you don’t know where to start working on your constantly-growing list of things to do, exercise can help the brain prioritize from most to least important, making it easier to know where to get started.

The endorphins triggered by physical activity increase focus, block out distractions and allow you to make smart decisions about what to do next, rather than freezing because of anxiety.

 

Meditation and yoga have been shown to be complementary and mentally favorable activities when combined with a more vigorous exercise program, so if you can work some soothing stretching into your regimen, definitely do so. If you get your body moving every day to reap the physical and mental rewards of exercise, you can stay fit and keep your brain in great shape, too.

Sneaky Sabotage: 5 Ways to Accidentally Gain Weight

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Sometimes even when you think you’re doing all the right things – eating healthfully, exercising regularly, and counting calories – something that was once believed to be beneficial has since been proven wrong. This sneaky type of sabotage can destroy your best-laid fitness plans and leave you feeling like a frustrated failure when it’s not even your fault.

Because let’s face it: there’s a lot of conflicting advice out there, and not everything works the same way for everyone. People are different, and something that helps one person might actually hinder another.

But there are some common misconceptions and harmful habits that many people mistakenly believe in, and below we’ve compiled 5 top offenders. Read the list to see if you might be doing something to undo all of your hard work, making you accidentally gain weight.

 

1. The Scale Sabotage—

Many fitness fanatics argue that if you want to stay on top of weight gain, you have to watch your number like a hawk, with daily scale weigh-ins and dietary adjustments to compensate for lack of progress.

But for many people, daily weighing can actually be demotivating, giving them a hopeless “What’s the point?” attitude after noticing the number has climbed, even though they thought they had a good exercise and diet day. This can make some people give up and binge-eat because they’re so depressed by the unexpected number.

Most experts now recommend a balance between the pro-weigh and no-weigh debate, suggesting that  those wishing to watch their weight weigh themselves only once a week to avoid obsessing over every single pound.

2. Ignoring Portion Importance—

Especially if you eat out a lot, you’ll notice that restaurants tend to give everyone far more food than they should consume in one sitting. Often, however, even home-cooked meals are served in large portions because it’s simply what we’re used to seeing.

This can be a major cause of weight gain, because those daily splurges of excess calories add up over time, but in a not-so-obvious way. When everyone else around you is clearing their plate, this starts to feel normal. But if you’d like to keep your weight in check, you’ll need to change your way of thinking.

One way to control portion size is to ask the server for a to-go box with your meal, and immediately cut the entire dish in half. Close the box, enjoy your reasonably-sized meal, and know that you’ll have great leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

At home, consider using the small plates that come with most dishware sets rather than the large ones if you can’t whittle down the amount you’re dishing up. These plates will look full, effectively tricking your brain into not feeling deprived.

3. Not Strength Training—

If you primarily get your exercise by running, cycling, hiking or other forms of cardiovascular exercise, you’re missing out on one of the best weight loss secrets available: muscle mass.

By increasing muscle mass, you’ll automatically increase your metabolism, allowing you to lose weight quickly or eat more calories to maintain. Plus, who doesn’t want additional strength?

Weight machines, dumbbells, barbells, elastic bands, and any other form of resistance can give you this metabolic boost, so if you’re not including these types of exercises in your program, consider adding them immediately.

4. Choosing Low-Fat Foods—

Low-fat doesn’t mean low calorie, and many reduced-fat foods are actually higher in sugar, flour, flavor enhancers and thickeners to compensate for the missing fat, all of which add calories and cause inflammation in the body.

Low-fat foods often give people a false sense of reduced calories, causing them overindulge. The fat in foods also increases our feelings of satiety, so people tend to eat more of fat-free foods.

Try to buy whole, real foods – the less ingredients the better – and concentrate on eating good unsaturated fats over unhealthy saturated and trans fats.

5. Grazing and Lazing—

Unless you are hypoglycemic or extremely physically active and have a caloric need to ingest food all day long, the advice to “eat small snacks all day to keep the metabolism going” has been disproven.

The reality is that by adding food to the stomach all day, it can’t properly digest, overworking the gastrointestinal system and pulling valuable energy away from the rest of the bodily functions.

This type of all-day snacking can cause brain fog and weight gain, making the nibbler feel lethargic as one does after a meal… all day long. Instead, stick to 3 sensible meals per day, and pay attention to how you feel after a week: You may be surprised to find you have more energy and have lost weight.

 

Remember that getting adequate sleep, staying hydrated, skipping processed junk foods, and keeping the sugar you eat to minimum are all good ideas for those who wish to maintain a healthy weight as well. And if any of the habits above have been slowing your progress or sabotaging you, make the switch to a different way of doing things to get back on track.

 

7 Simple Steps to Sexy Summer Skin

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The weather’s getting warmer, and with summertime comes the revealing clothing and swimwear you’ll be wearing – especially if you’re planning on hanging out poolside or at the beach. This means the dry, pasty skin you’ve been hiding under layers of winter clothing will be visible to the world, so you’re going to want to be prepared.

Getting our bodies ready for summer can take some work, and below we’re going to discuss the things everyone should do to get skin ready for public viewing. Read and follow these 7 simple steps to sexy summer skin, and you’ll be gorgeously glowing in no time!

1. Hydrate to Look Great—

The first step to beautiful skin, no matter what the season, is proper hydration. If you want to look fresh and dewy, you need to give your skin the moisture it craves, and above all else, this comes from the inside out.

Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water per day, and carry a water bottle with you wherever you go to keep your skin revitalized and radiant.

2. Exfoliation for the Beauty Nation—

Now that you’ve hydrated to plump up skin from within, it’s time to get the dried upper level of your epidermis off so you can set free your inner shine with pretty polished perfection.

To exfoliate, you can use a body scrub like many of the sugar scrubs available, make your own version at home with sugar, honey, olive oil and other skin-friendly foods, or use a body brush with a liquid exfoliator to work the dead skin cells off and reveal your healthy glow.

3. Natural Nutrition—

You are what you eat, and if what you’re eating is a bunch of processed or greasy junk and fast food, it’s going to show on your skin. Poor food choices can lead to a lackluster look, and even acne, making it especially important to eat well when your skin will be on display in bathing suits or summer dresses.

If you want to have incredible skin year-round, go heavy on the fruits and vegetables, and always eat clean to cleanse the body of toxins, because a good diet can really make skin look amazing.

4. Super Soap—

Sometimes our choice of soap can dry out the skin, leaving it flaky and older-looking than it actually is by creating wrinkles caused by dehydration rather than age.

It’s important no matter what the season to use a soap that pampers the skin and doesn’t rob it of all its moisture. Choose an all-natural soap that contains olive, almond, avocado, coconut, or any other kind of oil that sounds good to you, and give your skin the gift of gentle cleansing.

5. Magical Moisturizer—

In addition to not stripping the skin of all its oils with a good soap, it’s important to hold in the moisture with a lotion that prevents it from drying and flaking later.

There are tinted lotions and those that gradually add color to the skin, and even creams that provide shimmer, so don’t be afraid to be the glittery girl at the pool party. It’s okay to sparkle on the outside as well as on the inside!

6. Terrifically Tanned—

Dermatologists no longer recommend basking in the sun for color, and with the rates of skin cancer rising higher yearly, they make a good point. Fortunately for us, there are sunless tanning options available that look just as good as the “real thing.”

Whether you use a sunless tanning lotion, or get a professional spray tan, if you follow the steps above, your skin will be perfectly prepared to soak up the color as long as you don’t moisturize immediately before sunless tanner application.

7. Save Skin with Sunscreen—

In addition to causing skin cancer, sun exposure can age people prematurely, create unwanted spots and freckles, and make skin look leathery and hard, rather than smooth, moist and young.

This means that always using sunscreen of at least 30 or 40 SPF is of the utmost importance. And remember that even though you have a sunless tan, this extra pigment provides no protection from sun damage.

Don’t forget to get a pedicure for cute summer feet, and if you’re going to shave or wax, time your hair removal so that skin won’t be red or irritated when you’re trying to show it off. Use the 7 helpful preparation tips above to present the sexiest summer skin ever this year, so you can feel beautiful and have fun, no matter where you go.