New Year new you? We all want to live a little healthier, but that doesn’t mean we have to make massive changes. These easy health tips are simple and sustainable ways to increase wellness in a big way…
You’re not imagining it. Winter is coming. Now, there’s no daylight when your alarm clock goes off, you will log more miles than you’d like to count on the “dreadmill”, and — duh — it’s getting really cold out there. We’ve rounded up our favorite calorie-busting workouts that can be done indoors to get through these long weeks of winter. And who knows — you might even find a workout you’ll want to do all year long.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Reverse Lunges With Dumbbell Twist
Adding a medium-weight dumbbell to a reverse lunge requires more muscle recruitment, and more energy spent means more calories burned, says Juhn.
- Start standing with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell at chest height.
- Take a big step back with your left foot and bend your knees to lower into lunge while twisting your torso over your right (front) leg.
- Return to standing.
This variation adds in an abs challenge, and the jump will raise your heart rate for a cardio boost, too.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Lunge back with right foot, bending both knees 90 degrees.
- Straighten left leg and jump into the air while driving right knee up in front of body.
- Immediately lower right foot back into a lunge.
Front Lunge With Twist
“[This is a] fun way to incorporate abs and balance work while doing a lunge,” says Juhn.
- Start standing with your feet hip-width apart and arms at shoulder-height, elbows bent to form a goal post around your head.
- Take a big step forward with your right foot and bend your knees to lower into lunge while twisting your torso over your right leg.
- Return to standing.
This plyometric exercise uses ~explosive~ power to raise your heart rate and incorporate some extra cardio into your workout.
- Starting standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Jump your left leg forward and your right leg back into a lunge, with both knees at 90 degrees.
- Jump up and switch your legs in midair so that you land in a lunge with your right leg in front.
- Continue jumping back and forth, pausing as little as possible.
Curtsy Lunges With Kick
This variation is especially great for targeting your hips, too.
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
- Step your left leg diagonally behind your right leg and bend your knees to lower into a lunge.
- Push through your right heel to stand, and sweep left leg out to side.
Single-Arm Reverse Lunge And Press
This compound exercise works both your lower and your upper body at the same time, explains Juhn.
- Start standing with your feet hip-width apart with your left hand on your hip. Hold the weight at your right shoulder with your right palm facing your body.
- Take a big step back with your right foot and bend your knees to lower into lunge. While you step back, straighten your right arm to press the dumbbell overhead.
- Return to standing and lower the weight back to your right shoulder.
There are going to be days when you just don’t want to go to the gym. It might be raining, snowing or it might just be darn right cold. There are a lot of exercises that you can do at home to get an efficient and challenging workout on those days.
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24 Morning Workout Tips That Are Actually Helpful
by: HANNAH NEWMAN
We know not everyone is a morning person. (And even fewer of us are eager to wake up and hit the gym.) But getting up and moving can actually be an amazing way to start your day. More
We’re more than halfway through 2016. How are your New Year’s resolutions shaping up? It’s never too late to re-start, and Fall is a perfect time. With school and a new season starting, it’s a great time to get your fitness goals back on track. Here are our tips for kick-starting a fresh fitness routine.
Revisit Your Goals & What Didn’t Work Last Time
The best way to pave the way for success is to identify what bumps derailed you last time. Why were you unable to keep your last fitness goal? Was it too large? Did you not equip yourself with the tools you needed to succeed? Figure out what didn’t work last time and what you can do to right it moving forward. If your goal is to eat healthier, maybe you need to do a better job of pre-planning meals.
Try New Tactics
Sometimes the approach is the reason for failure. For example, if your goal was to work out more often and you didn’t, were you setting unrealistic expectations? Were you approaching the goal the wrong way? If you want to exercise more and don’t like running, don’t try to become a marathon runner overnight. Try out different workouts to get your heart pumping, it just matters that you’re moving! (No matter the workout, find your perfect playlist on Fit Radio to set you up for success.)
Find a Partner
Were you trying to go at your fitness goals alone in January? Goals are much easier to attain in a group. Grab a workout buddy and hold each other accountable– you’ll be surprised at how much more driven you can become when you’re working as a team!
Respect the Process
Many people quit on their fitness goals because they don’t see results fast enough. It’s important to fall in love with the process and not perfection. Remember, reaching goals is more about the journey than the destination! If you learn to respect and enjoy the process and small wins, you’ll be more successful in the long-run.
As the weather changes, explore opportunities to change your workout too. Get outside and enjoy the crisp air on your next run or if your gym makes a change to its schedule seasonally, try taking your go-to workout class at a new time.
A new season is a great time to start a new fitness routine and hopefully, these ideas will help you get motivated to do just that. Embrace the change in seasons, weather, and your health habits. Soon enough, you’ll become healthier and happier for the new season ahead.