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How to do a Perfect Plank Pose

By Maire,

Plank pose is sort of a magical pose. You do it during a yoga class as well as during a strength training class and fitness trainers often call it “the only exercise you need to train your whole body”.

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10 Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables Ripe for March

By Maire,

March marks the end of winter (hurrah!) and the beginning of spring—even if it doesn’t quite feel it yet. (You know, that whole in like a lion, out like a lamb thing?) But when it comes to our food, it’s an interesting month: You’ll find the tail end of winter produce is still available during early March, then later in the month, early spring produce makes its debut. Soon, you’ll be planting your garden and humming around the local farmers’ markets that’ll begin to spring back up on every corner (pun intended!). Until then, add these 10 ready-right-now fruits and veggies to your grocery list. (And, stock on these 10 Winter Vegetables, Fruits, and More to Buy at the Farmers Market—while supplies last.)

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The Gender Neutral Way to Work Out

By Maire,

Walk into your average sweatbox and it’s a safe bet that you’ll see guys grunting in the free weights area whilst girls hog the cardio machines. It’s partly because they have diverging goals, but it’s also socialization. Hence the advent of pink kettlebells and “broga”: we’re so conditioned to what athletic pursuits are considered suitable for our respective gender that we rarely think to question them.

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7 Reasons You Should Listen To Music When You Workout

By Maire,

Research consistently finds that listening to music distracts athletes from their “bodily awareness”. And a recent study found that not just listening, but controlling and creating music in time to one’s pace had an even more profound effect on perceived effort during a workout. Here are seven very good reasons to rock out during your next gym session. More

How to Use Cheat Days to Lose Weight

By Maire,

Science says go for it.

 

Bigfoot. The deadly combo of Pop Rocks and cola. Uncontrollable holiday weight gain. Turns out, not even that last one was ever real.

When National Institutes of Health researchers looked into the oft-repeated claims that most people pack on five or more pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s (some estimates have gone as high as 10!), they found the actual average gain was less than a pound.

“The concerns are very exaggerated,” says Traci Mann, Ph.D., author of Secrets from the Eating Lab. “Yes, your scale might show a temporary blip, but it’s unlikely you’ll move up to a higher weight and stay there unless you start and maintain a new habit.”

Data published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology earlier this year found that designating a weekly cheat day (in science-speak, planned hedonic deviation) improves people’s ability to stick to a healthy eating regimen in the long run. (Sweat towards your weight-loss goals with these moves from Women’s Health’s Look Better Naked DVD.)

The key word here? Planned. Spur-of-the-moment splurges can set in motion what University of Toronto researcher Janet Polivy, Ph.D., has dubbed the “what-the-hell effect”: You feel like you’ve already blown it, so why not chow down?

“You don’t want to be heavily restrictive about what you eat during the holidays, nor do you want to go overboard to the point of discomfort,” says Mann.

Use the novel cooking tips that follow to make the feast less of a beast. (See ya, belly bloat.)

Get a head start on starch.

Cooking and then cooling potatoes, pasta, and rice converts some of their carbs into what’s known as resistant starch, a fiber-like substance that your body can’t digest. As it passes through your system, it occupies space in your stomach, filling you up. Besides helping you feel sated, one study showed that replacing just over 5 percent of a meal’s carbohydrates with resistant starch increases fat burning by about 20 percent. So at least 12 hours before the big meal, cook any potato, pasta, or rice dish you plan to serve. The effect persists even when you reheat, so you’ll save both time and calories at your dinner.

Make over your mash.

Once you’ve cooked the spuds ahead, lighten them more by using a contraption called the Smood ($25, dreamfarm.com). Its shape—a cross between a whisk and a plunger—is perfect for making fluffy potatoes without cream or butter. Other handheld mashers require a lot more elbow grease and still leave chunks behind, but this tool forces potato between gaps in the coil to iron out lumps.

Be a bread winner.

If you want to indulge in white bread on your cheat day rather than the more blood-sugar-friendly wheat, try this: Freeze it, then pop it in the toaster. That will lower its glycemic index (a measure of how quickly a food spikes blood glucose) by nearly 50 percent, according to a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers suspect the two-step process changes the structure of the starch molecules in bread, leading it to behave more like a complex carb (those good-for-you whole grains) than a simple one (the nonfilling, fast-digesting, refined baddies). Result: fewer blood-sugar roller-coaster rides that promote cravings.

Ban cans.

Canned food = processed food. And the more processed a food, the faster your body can turn it into glucose, a.k.a. sugar. Biologists at Pomona College served calorically identical meals, but gave one group food made with processed ingredients while the other group was served whole foods. When they measured diet-induced thermogenesis—the additional calories burned when eating and digesting—in the hours afterward, it was nearly 50 percent higher in the group that ate the unprocessed meal. Swap canned green beans for fresh, and store-bought fried onions for caramelized ones or toasted nuts, which provide the same crunch but have healthier fats. In sweet potato casserole, nix the marshmallows and top with a mixture of fat-free Greek yogurt, honey, chopped mint, toasted walnuts, and a pinch of salt, suggests chef Isaac Bancaco of the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort in Hawaii.

This article was originally published in the November 2016 issue of Women’s Health, on newsstands now.

7 Ways to Make Your Lunges More Effective

By Maire,

drink h2o

These aren’t your average lunges.

by: Alexa Tucker | Self.com

 

Lunges are a fantastic compound exercise to target your legs and glutes, but if you rely on the same movement to work your lower body in every workout, you might be hampering the butt-strengthening benefits of the exercise. You can avoid this by mixing in different lunge variations, explains David Juhn, CPT, personal training manager at Life Time Athletic at Sky in NYC.

“The body can adapt to same sequence of exercise over time,” says Juhn. “It’s important to constantly challenge our bodies with different movements.” Changing things up can help avoid fitness plateaus, whether your goal is to gain strength or lose fat.

Plus, many lunge variations incorporate other fitness benefits, including twists that work your core and plyometric jumps that jack up your heart rate. “[Variations] can turn normal mundane workout to dynamic and challenging routines,” says Juhn. Here are seven amazing ones that will make your regular lunge envious.

Lunge Exercise Tip

Step Up With Reverse Lunge

“This entire sequence demands coordination, balance, and core stability,” says Juhn.

  • Stand in front of a box or step, about one foot away.
  • Step up with your left foot and drive your right knee up towards your chest.
  • Step your right foot back to the starting position and step your left back into a lunge, lowering your knee toward the ground (make sure your right knee doesn’t go past your right toes).
  • Step your left leg back onto the step or box to repeat the movement.