Tuesday, August 30, 2016

12 Things You Should Never Do When Trying to Burn Fat

If you’re trying to lose weight, but you're really not seeing results in your fat burning regime, there are likely some things that you may be doing wrong. Exercising the right way to burn fat efficiently is important (see workouts on this blog for lots of ideas), but it is also important not to do the wrong things in the process.

Here are 12 things that can keep you from burning fat:

1. Not Eating Enough Calories – You should know how many calories you need to eat per day to maintain a certain weight. Choose to use your goal weight as your calorie range for best results. When you don't eat enough, your body may start slowing your metabolism to compensate, which is the opposite of what you want.

2. Eating Too Many Calories – Conversely, many people do not track their calories at all, and therefore they eat too many calories. Even if you eat only healthy foods, you can still eat too many calories and not burn fat.

3. Not Eating the Right Amount of Protein – You can both eat too little protein and too much protein. Shoot for about 20 to 30 percent of your daily calories to be healthy protein. Remember that you can get protein from vegetables, fruit, beans, legumes and nuts in addition to fish and meat.

English: A picture of a collection of healthy ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
4. Not Eating Enough Vegetables – Try filling half of your plate with vegetables at every meal. The great thing about veggies is that they are very low in calories so you can eat a high volume of them without breaking your calorie bank. Plus, they're filled with fiber, vitamins, and other healthy nutrients.

5. Not Eating Enough Fruit – The sugar in fruit is not bad for you - as long as you don't over-indulge. When you feel like eating a snack or something sweet and you have the calories to spare, eat fruit. It’ll give you energy plus vitamins and minerals.

6. Not Eating Enough Whole Grains – Don’t give up grains just because you’re trying to burn fat. Steel cut oats, quinoa, cracked wheat, and other whole grains can be good for you in measured serving sizes.

7. You Drink Your Calories – To burn the greatest amount of fat, don’t drink your calories. Avoid drinking juice, sweetened coffee or tea, and other calorie-laden drinks in favor of fresh filtered calorie-free water.

8. You Eat “Calorie Free” Fake Food – Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can drink diet soda, and use fake zero calorie sweeteners and still burn fat. These additives can not only be dangerous but studies also show that people who use them tend to be fatter, not thinner!

9. You Avoid Exercise Entirely – You can’t burn fat and be a couch potato. Even if you have health issues that keep you from doing very strenuous activities, you can still use walking, swimming, or other gentle activities to get you moving and burn calories.

10. You Don’t Do Enough Cardio – Cardio is essential to burning fat. If you have health issues that prevent you from doing hard enough cardio, you’ll need to eat fewer calories to make up for it. But you can also try breathing exercises that can increase your oxygen intake and help burn fat.

11. You Are Too Stressed Out – If you have a lot of stress in your life, it will manifest itself as added fat, usually on your belly. Try to find a way to a way to de-stress every day. Try yoga, meditation or even prayer to take you out of your worries and calm yourself.

12. You Don’t Get Enough Sleep – Most people need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. It’s important that you schedule your life so that on most nights you can accomplish this task, because not doing so can affect your hormone levels and cause your fat burning to stall.

Knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what to do when it comes to burning fat and losing weight. Being healthy is about taking action to do more of the right things, and fewer of the wrong things every day!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

[Video] 10-Minute Fat Burning Bodyweight Workout

As we discussed on Tuesday, there is a clear difference between weight loss and fat loss. What we're all really looking to do is lose fat, and this quick workout will help you do just that. It's short, simple, and requires no equipment, so you can do it anywhere, and fit it into your busy schedule - even if you're traveling.

This simple workout consists of just 5 exercises which will strengthen and tone your entire body, while also providing cardio to help burn off that stubborn fat. Each exercise is done for 30 seconds, with at least 30 seconds of rest between sets. You will do 3 rounds of the exercises, so go ahead and follow along slowly with the demo the first time, to make sure you are doing the exercises properly, then pick up the pace and follow along for this quick fat-burning workout.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What Is the Difference Between Losing Weight & Losing Fat?

When most people say they want to lose weight, they really mean they want to reduce their body fat. If they really wanted to lose weight per se, their goal would be to reduce the weight of their bones, muscles, organs along with body fat … most likely not their real goal - or it should not be! Most of us want to preserve all but the body fat part.

So in reality, you want to reduce the amount of body fat you are carrying, but how much is healthy? If you are male, then you want your body fat to be around 10%; 15% for females.

Why the Scale is Your Worst Enemy

English: Soehnle body scale with integrated bo...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you are trying to lose body fat, weighing yourself every day is frustrating at best. Because the scale measures your total weight, it can fluctuate up or down every time you get on the scale.

When you first started to eat fewer calories, you probably showed a significant drop in numbers on the scale. But because carbs bind to water, lowering your carb intake reduced the amount of water in your body, so the real loss was not body fat, but water loss – the water had fewer carbs to attach to. If you start eating more carbs again, your weight will go up proportionately due to water hanging onto the additional carbs.

As a matter-of-fact, you can lose body fat, gain muscle and your number on the scale can remain the same, even though you now look better. Why? Because a pound of muscle takes up less space than a pound of fat therefore your profile is much slimmer even though you weigh the same.

Measuring Body Fat

The only real way to measure body fat loss accurately at home is by measuring your girth in the same places each time with a pair of body fat calipers – the neck, chest, arms, waist and thighs. Your waist measurement should go down, but the rest of your measurements should go up.

Train for Success

The best overall workout strategy is a mix of cardio and strength training. Cardio burns more calories and thus speeds up fat loss, but it alone is not enough; without strength training, you’ll end up losing muscle. Through strength training, you’ll tone the muscle you have and build more. And because more muscle means you’ll burn more calories throughout the day, developing muscle mass is the key to long-term weight management.

Most likely your real goal of “losing weight” is to lose body fat and build muscle. Be sure to check back for our weekly workouts every Thursday to help you accomplish these goals!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

[Video] 5 Great Pool Exercises to Stay In Shape All Summer

This time of year it can sometimes feel too hot to work out, but if you get your exercise in the pool you can stay cool and still burn calories and lose fat!

Swimming is great exercise, but you can do a lot of other exercises in the pool as well. Transitioning exercise from dry land to water increases resistance, meaning you're working harder without even realizing it!

This short video shares 5 fun pool exercises that you can do in the water this summer to boost your fitness and help you achieve your weight loss goals. From legs, to upper body, to cardio, these exercises will work your entire body, all while enjoying the water and the beautiful summer weather.

Check it out here, and try these next time you're at the pool and want to get a quick workout in!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

3 Top Benefits of Swimming for Fitness

Swimming is one of those exercises that's hard to hate, since it’s gentle and yet fun at the same time! Most people enjoy a dip in the pool, so why not turn that dip into some laps as a form of exercise? There are many fitness benefits that one can get from swimming. If you're not convinced, here are 3 reasons why:

1. Swimming Is Great Cardio

(Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)
Swimming requires a lot of energy and burns a lot of calories thanks to the fact that, when you swim, you need to move your whole body instead of just your legs or your arms. Swimming works your body and heart the same way any cardio workout, such as dancing or running would. So if you take up swimming for fitness, you will work your heart and boost your metabolism at the same time. To get the most out of swimming, it’s best to carry out interval training where you do high-intensity sprint swimming alternated with easier workouts. This way you’ll push your body hard - but not too hard, and boost your metabolism for a longer period of time.

2. Swimming Is Great For Strength Training

Not only is swimming good for a cardio workout, swimming challenges muscles all over your body and is great for increasing overall body strength. The water resistance you face while swimming forces your muscles to work harder - just like traditional forms of strength training. You’ll be able to gain some muscle and tone up your body at the same time. Swimming is also widely used as therapy to strengthen injured muscles in athletes since the water resistance provides a good workout without adding stress to the injured body parts.

3. Swimming Is Great For Everybody!

The great thing about swimming is that everybody can do it and enjoy it. It's suitable for every age group and fitness level; you can decide how hard to push yourself when you swim. Elderly people can benefit from swimming as the water provides support and cushioning so that they can stay fit without worrying about injuring their back or joints. It’s also a great activity for you to do with your family: you can have fun together and stay healthy at the same time! If you bring little kids along to the pool or beach, though, be sure to always keep an eye on them to prevent any accidents.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

[Video] 9-Minute Morning Wake Up Workout

Start off your morning the right way with this gentle workout which gets you moving and helps you wake up and get ready for the day!

Some research has found that working out in the morning can boost your energy, improve your mood, and increase productivity throughout your entire day.

This workout uses Pilates principles to improve flexibility, get your blood moving, and warm up your muscles in preparation for your day. (You can also use this short workout as a cool down session after a more strenuous workout.)

If you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, start with this flowing and energizing workout, and see what a difference it makes in your day!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Does Exercising In The Morning Make You More Productive?

It is no big secret that exercise, proper nutrition, getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of water throughout the day is a proven recipe for health. Regarding exercise, is there a particular time of day when working out or staying physically active will deliver greater rewards? The answer to that question seems to be "yes", and the time you should be exercising is in the morning (which is why we usually post our weekly workouts on Thursday morning).

When you are productive in any area of your life, you enjoy less stress and anxiety, more happiness and a sense of fulfillment, and more success. To boost your productivity, get active more often. Jogging, taking a walk, lifting weights, cycling, and performing yoga or Pilates will give you more energy than if you are sedentary, which will naturally lead to better productivity. When you schedule that exercise in the morning, you supercharge that productivity.

Here's how it works.

(Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)
Exercise in the morning means fewer scheduling conflicts. You never miss a workout when you wake up early, and you don't have to push other responsibilities aside to make sure you get a workout in. This means after your morning workout, your entire day can be focused on productively knocking out your to-do list and daily responsibilities.

Waking up is hard for a lot of people. You're one of them if you're sluggishly getting through the morning and heading to work without much energy. Exercise fires up your endorphins and cranks up your energy levels. Enjoying even just 20 minutes of physical activity in the morning can lead to energy reserves to fuel a productive day.

Early-morning fitness means a spike in your metabolism. So when you have a mid-morning snack and lunch while you are working throughout the day, you effectively burn more calories. This means you're less likely to suffer a mid-afternoon energy crash. Moderately intense to intense physical activity also wakes up your brain. So you start the day with a clear head, improving your chances of keeping ahead of your workload and responsibilities all day long.

As far as motivation goes, getting your workout in early gives you a boost of self-esteem. You have barely begun your day, and you have already accomplished something important. Success can build upon itself. The feel-good hormones that exercise releases make you feel good about yourself for exercising in the morning, a time when it may be tough to think about physical activity. This successful early-morning achievement develops the proper mindset to attack subsequent goals and commitments with a lot of productive energy and positive feelings.

Be sure to check back here each Thursday morning for a free workout to get your motivated and start your day off on the right foot!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

[Video] Cool Down & Stretch Routine

As we discussed on Tuesday, flexibility and stretching are an important part of your fitness routine - or at least, they should be!

Stretching after a workout can help prevent soreness, cool down your muscles, and finish off your workout on the right foot.

This stretch routine can also be done anytime you are feeling tight and need to improve your flexibility. If you're feeling extra tired and can't handle a strenuous workout, why not do this one instead? It will help to relax you, relieve stress, and improve flexibility and posture.

These are active stretches, so you will be moving fluidly from one movement into another at a slow pace to help your muscles relax and lengthen. You will do 8 repetitions of 9 different flexibility exercises. 

No equipment is required, though you may want a yoga mat for some of the exercises.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

4 Exercises to Increase Your Flexibility

Many people practice both cardio and strength training routines as part of their fitness plan, but fail to include exercises that would increase their flexibility. Not only does being more flexible benefit you in the gym by lessening your risk of an injury and increasing joint range of motion, it also helps you in your daily life, such as allowing you to easily bend over and tie your shoes.

Stretching is one of the best ways to get back or increase flexibility. There are two types of stretching – static and dynamic. Your fitness routine will generally dictate when each type is performed. Generally speaking, static exercises are done after a workout as a cool down, where dynamic exercises are done after a warm-up but before a workout to get you loosened up. With either type of stretching, you don’t want to stretch cold muscles, as this can lead to an injury.

Static Stretches

In this type of stretching, a muscle is slowly stretched and then held in the stretched position for several seconds before relaxing. If done properly, there is a low risk of injury, making it one of the safest forms of stretching.

(Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)
A popular upper body muscle group to stretch is the shoulder. To perform the shoulder stretch seated or standing:
  • Hold your right arm parallel with the ground and across the front of your chest.
  • With your left arm grab your right arm just above the elbow and pull the stretched arm.
  • Pull gently until you just start to feel the stretch.
  • Hold for 30 seconds and then release.
  • Repeat with the other arm.
A great lower body static stretch is the butterfly groin stretch. To start, sit on the floor with your back straight: 
  • With the soles of your feet together, grasp your ankles and pull both of your feet towards your body; allow your knees to come up and out to the side.
  • While still grasping your ankles, gently push your knees down towards the floor.
  • You will feel the stretch along the inside of your thighs and groin.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
Dynamic Stretches

Dynamic stretching is stretching while in motion. The muscles that will be used in the upcoming workout are stretched, but are not held in the stretched position as they would be with static stretching.

One great stretching exercise for the lower body is forward lunges. To start:
  • Keep your upper body straight, shoulders back and look straight forward.
  • Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle. Ensure your front knee is centered over your ankle; your other knee should not touch the floor. 
  • Push back with your front leg to the starting position. 
  • Do 5 to 10 repetitions and then switch legs.
(Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)
To increase the flexibility in your back, do some side bends:
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms straight in the air.
  • Without moving your lower body, slowly alternate bending laterally to your left, back up and to the right as far as possible. 
  • Do 5 to 20 repetitions in each direction.
Stretching is an important part of your fitness routine. Not only does it complete your fitness plan, but increased flexibility makes many everyday life tasks easier.

Check back Thursday for a great stretching routine to try!