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Thursday, April 28, 2016

What You Need to Know About Carb Cycling

Low carb or high carb? Why don't add the two in your nutrition regime?

Thanks ACE


If you can’t decide if you should follow a low-carb or a high-carb diet, why not just combine the two diets in an effort to address all of your sports-performance and weight-loss concerns? Believe it or not, this is an actual dietary approach known as carb cycling, which involves alternating between high- and low-carbohydrate days for six days and including a reward or “cheat” day on the seventh.
The theory is that low-carbohydrate diets lead to more effective weight loss (both from fat and water loss), but that rotating carbohydrates into the diet plan provides more energy for high-intensity training days. Proponents also claim that the reintroduction of carbohydrate helps boost metabolism, which may become stagnant on a chronically low-carbohydrate diet. Carb cycling has its roots in bodybuilding, a sport in which competitors cut carbohydrate prior to a event in an effort to lean out (the lack of glycogen and water from the muscles provides a lean, cut look). Eventually, the community noticed that alternating high-carb and low-carb days provided the best of both worlds—enough energy for training, but lower body fat.
How It Works
You may have heard of “plateau-busting” or “muscle-confusion” workouts for continued strength gains. Could it be possible that, like the musculoskeletal system, the human digestive system requires controlled chaos? There may, in fact, be some truth to this concept—at least mentally, if not also physiologically. Strict diet plans take a toll on both focus and mental drive (which is why they only work temporarily). Thus, keeping the mind and body guessing could be an effective plan for relatively long-term weight loss. Having said that, a completely chaotic or haphazard diet plan is not intuitive or productive.
Depending on your goals, proponents of carb cycling offer advice for tweaking the schedule. For example, if you would like to lose weight, include five low-carb days intermixed with two high-carb days. If your goal is to gain muscle mass, try doing the opposite—four or five high-carb days with just a few low-carb days. No plan is perfect for everyone, so monitor your results (both subjective and objective) to create a program that facilitates fat loss without completely depleting your energy.
Buyer Beware
Like every other diet plan in the world, carb cycling comes with its own set of pros and cons. Overall, if you have the discipline to count your macros and restrict your intake every other day (or so), this diet plan can be a healthy option. Also, like every other plan, the choice to follow it will depend on your goals. Outside of bodybuilding, carb cycling seems best suited for individuals who would like to lose weight, but have been unsuccessful with other diet plans.
Some carb-cycling diets, however, are tied to supplements. While supplementation is not necessarily unhealthy or counterproductive to goals, always use caution when following diet plans that require supplements. For example, some plans and products will sling jargon such as, “Low-carb days enhance your body’s fat-burning potential, while high-carb days boost your body’s metabolism into high gear.” Or they may recommend substituting a product (a shake, for example) for one of the daily meals.
Further, for those with high-energy needs, such as endurance and collegiate athletes, too many “low” days are counterproductive to training and may potentially increase the risk of injury. Regardless of the diet plan you follow, consider your goals and what will work for you consistently.
Value What Matters
In terms of evaluating progress, subjective fitness gains are arguably more important that objective ones. Monitoring variables such as how you sleep, how you recover and your energy level during workouts, for example, is more imperative than the number on a scale.
The carb-cycling plan may be more sustainable than other diets, but can you endure the countless counting? Given your work, travel, vacation and holiday commitments, is it a plan you can follow indefinitely? For that matter, will any incredibly specific plan be sustainable for an entire year? If you are a competitive bodybuilder, the answer may very well be “yes” (and good for you, if that is the case). But if you are trying to lose a few pounds, just want to feel better or would like to shave some time off of your next triathlon, don’t follow a strict diet and don’t count calories (but keep reading).
Types of Carbohydrate Matter
High-carb days and cheat days can be easily misconstrued. Like the term “moderation,” everyone has his or her own definition. Regardless of whether or not you are carb cycling, added sugars and processed carbohydrates should comprise a minimal part of your diet. Processed carbohydrates can have a negative impact on blood-sugar regulation, which may alter hormone levels. When hormones (such as insulin and ghrelin) are out of balance, weight loss becomes more difficult. Any time you eat carbohydrates, focus on minimally processed, high-fiber foods and naturally occurring sugars.
Create a Plan That Works
Conceptually, carb cycling follows the principle of nutrition periodization, which means matching your energy intake with expenditure. High-intensity training days require more energy (calories) than rest days. On a broader scale, certain months of the year may require more energy than others; for example, you may require a higher caloric intake during in-season training versus what might be required while training during the off season.
Consider the following plan, which incorporates the ideas of carb cycling and nutrition periodization, but makes the day-day-day management easier:
  • Follow a moderate carbohydrate intake (roughly 50 percent of total caloric intake).
  • Fill half of your plate with vegetables, one-third with protein and healthy fats, and slightly less than one-quarter with starches, grains or fruit at each meal.
  • Include fiber, protein and healthy fats at each meal and snack.
  • Include one or two higher-carbohydrate meals or snacks on your workout days, or even on the days before or after a very intense workout. Examples include a fruit smoothie with protein, homemade energy bars, oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts, fresh fruit with nut butter, trail mix, chocolate milk, 100 percent fruit juice or an extra serving of starch vegetables (potatoes, corn, peas) or whole-grain starches.
Justin RobinsonJUSTIN ROBINSON Contributor
Justin Robinson is a Registered Sports Dietitian and Strength and Conditioning Coach who has worked with athletes from youth to professional level. As the nutrition director and co-founder of Venn Performance Coaching, he specializes in practical sports nutrition recommendations and functional conditioning techniques. Over the past 15 years, he has worked with athletes from the youth to professional level, including runners and triathletes, MLB players and U.S. Military Special Operations soldiers. He graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a dual degree in Nutrition and Kinesiology, completed his dietetic internship at the University of Houston and earned his Master's Degree in Kinesiology at San Diego State University.
More Blogs by Justin Robinson »

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Workouts you can do in your Living Room

Great alternatives I find. They may be the basic usual ones you always hear about but they are really effective...

Original post here

Don't have time to go to the gym? Here are some workouts you can do at home with household items.

By Azumio, Inc.

Working out isn’t a matter of having time – it’s a matter of making time.
That said, we all endure days where getting to the gym just isn’t in the cards. Luckily, there are plenty of exercises you can do at home to make sure you keep up with your healthy lifestyle. Not only do you get to exercise in the comfort of your own home, you can do it with household items as well!
Get fit by targeting areas of your body you want to work on with just one or two props from your house and no professional workout equipment. The following are some examples you can do for each target area:

1. Lower body

  • Calf raises (you can use the stairs in your home)
  • Step-ups (on a chair)
  • Squats (squat jumps, reverse squats)
  • One-legged squats on a coffee table (place one foot behind you on the table for balance)

2. Upper body

  •     Elevated push ups (use your coffee table or the couch)
  •     Tricep dips (on a chair)
  •     Pull-ups (use the doorway or archway of your home)

3. Abs

  •     Crunches (bicycle crunch, reverse crunch, vertical leg crunch)
  •     Sit ups (use your couch for foot support)
  •     Low scissors/leg lifts

4. Core

  •     Superman
  •     Planks (reverse plank, side plank, plank twists)
  •     Sliding burpees (using a towel or two paper plates)
  •     Mountain climbers

5. Cardio

  •     Imaginary jump rope
  •     Knee highs
  •     Burpees
  •     Jumping jacks
Main Photo Credit: Solis Images/Shutterstock.com

Thursday, April 21, 2016

This Is Why Parents Are More Exhausted Than You Think They Should Be

The actual interest that sparks me more are the comments after the post. Super interesting.

And I like this thought. 'You will adjust'. Which is so true to parenthood. We just adjust and we will find things that we will enjoy in our own parenting ways and find that our priorities shift in other ways. Right now with me, it sucks to be sick.

At first, people understand that bringing new life also brings exhaustion. People ask new parents if the baby is sleeping through the night as if that is the magical key to them feeling like a fully functional human being. But, every parent knows, it is not. I’m quite sure that it is a scientific fact that parents never feel like fully functional human beings again. Or maybe they just change the definition of what “fully functional” means, so that it no longer implies anything closely related to “rested.”

 Here’s why:

They never sleep through the night. Never. Again.
 Sleeping through the night initially means sleeping for longer than two- or three-hour stretches. Once your infant gets past that point, people seem to forget that doesn’t mean jack. At first, parents wake up in a panic when the infant doesn’t wake them up, and they check on them, adrenaline rushing, thinking they’re going to find something very wrong. They nudge the baby. Nudge. Nudge. Until they hear an audible sigh. Then they either can’t fall back asleep because of all that adrenaline or they can’t fall back asleep because they woke up their kid. As the child gets older, the parents wake up hearing phantom baby cries that exist only in their heads. When they accept that their kid can sleep through the night and think they’ve finally arrived, the toddler begins waking up in the middle of the night and coming in their bedroom, waking up and peeing the bed, waking up and screaming, “I need a tissue!” I hear it doesn’t get any better. I’m already dreading waking up in a panic thinking about my kids as teenagers, wondering if they have snuck out of the house, and as college students, wondering if they are OK or if they have been roofied and are lying in a ditch. By the time their kid has a job, parents have aged and their sleep cycles have changed and their old selves become biologically incapable of sleeping. The end.

There is no downtime.
 The other day I tried to program my cousin’s number into my phone — she had texted me and I wanted to add her name to my contact list. I tried about eight times before giving up completely because my children were all up in my space, bumping my arms and touching the screen. It’s hard to explain to someone that you don’t have time to put a number in a phone, but this is a very real thing. Unless you’re in the bathroom. Sometimes parents get excited about shitting so they can scroll through their newsfeed. Sometimes they pretend to shit so they can scroll through their newsfeed. Unless, of course, they’re the parent that the kids just barge into the bathroom with (there’s always one parent who’s the designated bargee). Then there’s really no sanctuary, even in shitting.

There are no days off.
 There are millions of ways people can fill their time and expend their energy without being parents. Everyone is exhausted, no doubt about that. However, there is usually a way to get some sick time. Take a day off to rest. Parenting, however? Being sick is the worst, because you can’t be sick. At least, you can’t act like it. Food still needs to be served, laundry still needs to be done, kids still need to be loved. Parents are basically on the verge of illness at all times, because they never get a chance to recover. We blame our kids for bringing home germs from school, but the reality is that we are stinking sacks of pathogenic meat ourselves.

Their brains are on overload.
There is a never-ending stream of chatter. There are so many “Mama. Mama. Mama. Mamas,” and grabbing things or pointing while asking, “What’s this?” And no matter what response is given, there is an endless supply of, “Why? Why? Why? Why?” — and there are requests for songs and to “Tell me a story, Mama,” and loud, echoing whines about things like “I wannnnnntttt a red sippy cup,” even if they already have a red sippy cup. There is a lot of fake phone calling and talking to kids using a dirty sock as a puppet. It’s not so much that each individual question or statement is so bad (they’re not — they’re often quite amusing, actually); it’s more the fact that every second is packed with endless auditory assaults and required responses. As kids age, they might utter fewer words, but the ones they do say are usually not as cute, and the issues that arise are much more difficult to address. Brain overload doesn’t go away when the toddler years do.

Sometimes they have to stay up until 2 a.m. binge-watching Netflix with their spouse.
 Because sometimes they want to enjoy time with their spouse. And sitting like a sloth on a graham-cracker-crumb-littered couch while sipping on a glass of cheap wine next to the one you love, without having to make conversation, can be almost as beautiful as watching the sunset on a beach in Mexico while holding a margarita. Almost. It’s quiet (other than the occasional crumb crackle). It’s calming. It’s rejuvenating. And it is needed for marital stability. It’s worth paying the price of giving up a night’s sleep entirely now, so they don’t end up paying the high cost of divorce fees by the time the kids graduate from high school. They’ve already got college to pay for, don’t forget.

Stuff gets physical.

  Don’t get me started on what pregnancy does to your body — I’m solely talking about parenting here. There is a constant worry about torn corneas. Little hands start flailing from Day 1 and continue indefinitely. For the first few years, parents are constantly carrying their kids around, lifting a 35-pound toddler on one hip, and a 20-pound toddler on the other. These aren’t like bags of flour here, they’re writhing, wrenching, bucking broncos. Parents on the living room floor trying to get a push-up in during a Caillou episode are subject to little monsters in superhero capes jumping off the couch and onto their backs. There is little to no chance of getting through parenting without tearing a cornea or herniating a disc.

All the mother-loving cleaning.

 The other day I was running late for work and when I went to grab the infant from her crib I realized she had puked on herself in the middle of the night. Her hair stood up straight and smelled like sick. I tossed her in the tub and gave her a quick bath, before throwing some clothes on her and tossing her in the car. (There’s another example of physical exertion — lots of child-tossing going on). The amount of frenetic cleaning of bodies and houses that parents end up doing is mind-boggling. Of course, everyone needs to clean their house, but parents need to clean their house SO MUCH. Bending over, putting away, bending over, tidying up, putting away. Wiping. Wiping. Wiping. Picking up toys. Toys. Toys. Spooling reams of unrolled toilet paper. Dishes. Dishes. Dirty laundry. Bodily fluid-soaked laundry. Replacing grown-out-of laundry. Toys. Toys. Tiny pieces. Puke. Toys. Toys. Toys. Never-effing-ending bowls and bowls of Cheerios. As kids get bigger, so does their stuff. Teenagers have more surface area than toddlers, which means more dust, more circles around the tub. More bodily stench. And definitely more clothes on the floor.

Worries wear out their bodies.
 There are many mornings when new wrinkles and gray hairs suddenly pop up. Deep grooves. Thick, wiry hairs. I pretty much stopped getting carded the week after I became a mom. My daughter emerged from my body and I immediately developed a web of creases beneath my eyes, not just from the exhaustion but also from the worry. Anxieties tax the body, and parents have a never-ending stream of them running through their heads. Sudden infant death syndrome. Falling down the stairs. Ingesting cleaning products. Bumping heads on the corners of coffee tables. Witnessing the ALMOST bumping of heads on the corners of coffee tables. Thoughts of their kids being bullied, being out late at night, hanging out with the wrong crowd, marrying the right person... Our poor little cells explode from all the stress.

Parents are so tired they sometimes lie on the floor. Face smooshed right in the carpet. Now you know why.
P.S. Even when they’re on the floor, they’re still happy. They’re just too tired to smile.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

9 Common Weight Loss Myths

Courtesy of Azimo

Don't let these weight loss myths fool you and deter you from your goals.

By Katie Ringley

Weight loss can be super confusing at times due to all the different information presented to you on every website or magazine that you read, making you believe there are certain rules to follow. These rules are not always factually backed up by science so you want to make sure that you know how to avoid falling into these traps. You want to be educated and informed to make the best, safest, and healthiest choices for your weight loss journey. Here are some myths that you may have heard that needs debunking:

1. You shouldn’t eat carbohydrates to lose weight. 

Carbohydrates are needed for the essential functioning of vital cells and organs as well as for muscle, energy, and metabolism. If you completely avoid carbohydrates, then you will probably experience weight loss. However, this process for losing weight can lower your metabolic rate so that it becomes even harder in the future to lose weight. 
Avoiding carbohydrates will also cause you to rebound in weight gain when you reintroduce carbohydrates into your diet. Normally, someone would not be able to avoid carbohydrates for the rest of their life so it is essential to reduce carbohydrates in a moderate, realistic, and efficient manner to conserve metabolism and muscle. 

2. You should eat tons of fruit. 

On the opposite side of the pendulum, carbohydrates should be moderated. I have seen crazy weight loss detox programs where you only eat 17 bananas all day. That would mean that you intake approximately 510g of carbohydrates, and no protein. This makes little sense for weight loss, and you probably won’t feel satisfied or full. You should realize that a balance of fats, carbohydrates and proteins is essential for all the different functions of the body as well as weight loss, and that you should moderately eat all three. 

3. Starving yourself will get you results faster. 

First, starving yourself isn’t a smart move because this can lower your metabolic rate, making it harder and harder for you to lose weight in the future. I feel as if this is not taken seriously enough and many women end up in their fifties saying that they have to eat 800 calories just to lose one pound. This is from years of crash dieting. 
Keep your metabolism strong by dieting appropriately and your body will thank you for the rest of your life. Not to mention, if you starve yourself for a diet, you are going to be miserable, weak and your body will most likely start producing more cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can lead to water retention. As a result, you could end up not losing any weight. 

4. Low fat and low sugar is healthier. 

If you see something that is low in fat or low in sugar, it doesn’t mean that it is the healthier option. The same thing goes for any product that is a processed meal. Usually the product has a chemical alteration and added preservatives that keeps it edible. This also doesn’t mean that the calories are necessarily lower. Make sure to check the label on the product to see if there are any excessive amount of ingredients added. While you may want to save time by grabbing a microwave “healthy” cuisine, you would be much better off making yourself a meal to avoid the calories and chemicals. 

5. You should stop eating 3 hours before bed. 

Physiologically, our bodies do not mandate that we need to stop eating 3 hours before bed. Your weight loss is going to be an overarching caloric intake deficit that is created over time. Therefore, if you are eating within these requirements every single day over a period of time, no matter if it is is in the morning or at night, you will continue to lose weight. 

6. You should always avoid fat. 

Fat is another macronutrient essential for brain function and membrane protection. Many products contain exorbitant amounts of fat so be aware of that before eating. However, avoiding fat altogether is the wrong choice. You need it for survival. Fat also provides the most satiety than any of the other three macronutrients, though it does add 9kcal/g. 

7. The more cardio you do, the more weight you will lose. 

Low impact cardio like jogging is going to be counterintuitive to your long-term weight loss goals. In the beginning, you will see changes based on this amount of cardio; however, your body will become accustomed to this as a baseline requirement and you will have to do the same amount of cardio to stay at the desired weight. 
If you are not dieting correctly and are also lifting weights, you run the chance of decreasing muscle mass by doing excessive amounts of cardio. Decreasing your muscle mass can cause a decrease in metabolism, which is the last thing anyone on a weight loss plan wants. 

8. Supplements are good for weight loss goals (fat burners, carb blockers, fat blockers, etc.). 

Many times supplements are a money gimmick and have absolutely no science or regulations; they should be taken with precaution. If you are thinking about taking some sort of supplementation for weight loss purposes, first check with your doctor and read the literature to make sure that this supplement does in fact do something for you. Many times, supplements are not going to help to you, but will only hurt you and waste your time. 

9. Genetics are the reason that you can’t lose weight.

It would not be correct to say that genetics do not matter in weight loss. They absolutely matter, and it will be the predisposition of what your metabolic rate may be. However, this is not an excuse to not try. Losing weight works the same way in every person with bioindividuality in caloric intake needed and metabolic needs. If you begin a weight loss journey, but don’t see any results, you should adjust your caloric intake or quality of foods you are consuming wand not just assume that it’s not possible for you just because your mother or father never tried to lose weight. 
There is going to be information from all over the place guiding you in different directions and telling you what different rules to follow. Not everything that you read will lead you in the right direction and it’s important to realize what works for you will not work for everyone.
Katie is a pharmacist from NC. She moved to New York City with her husband and two teacup yorkies for an adventure. After completing her doctorate in pharmacy last May, Katie decided to pursue nutrition coaching. Katie specializes in creating custom macronutrient profiles for clients based on their individual goals. You can find Katie on her blog Katiesfitscript.
Main Photo Credit: Sebastian Duda/Shutterstock.com and Jogging Photo Credit: Maridav/Shutterstock.com.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Training While Sick


With winter well and truely on it's way here in NZ, keep warm.
Training while sick is a nightmare for bodybuilders. It’s harder to stay hydrated, sleep patterns change for the worse.
The biggest drawback of being sick with a cold or the flu is not being able to go to the gym, and having to endure the feeling that all of your gains are slowly withering away while your body conserves its resources for your immune system.
Can you train while sick? Read on the find the answer – it will surprise you!

Immune Response to Infection and Training

When you’re sick, your body mobilizes just like a country mobilizes for war. Chemicals begin to be produced throughout the body, including in the white blood cells and the cells lining blood vessels and the airways. The immune system contains a variety of natural substances called inflammatory mediators that help protect the body from infection. The names of some inflammatory mediators involved in colds include histamine, kinins, interleukins, and prostaglandins. These inflammatory mediators trigger mucus secretion and activate sneeze and cough reflexes while stimulating pain nerve fibers. All of these are the symptoms of a cold. Upper respiratory infections typically begin with a sore or scratchy throat, aversion to cold or alternating chills and feverish sensations, fatigue and muscle aches, and progress either to chest symptoms, such as cough and tightness, or to sinus problems. These symptoms can last from several days to several weeks.
Exercise does play a role in how our body’s immune system functions. In fact, one brief vigorous exercise session won’t cause an immune-suppressing effect, and one moderate-intensity exercise session can actually boostimmunity in healthy weightlifters.
However, extremely prolonged low-intensity exercise and prolonged high-intensity exercise makes healthy athletes more susceptible to infection. For example, marathon runners can have a depressed immune system for up to 72 hours after a race!
Since your immune system is already compromised by a cold or flu, it makes sense that long and intense workouts are out of the question. However, brief, intense workouts or moderate-intensity workouts may be better tolerated. In fact, anecdotal evidence suggests that in the early stages of sickness, you may find yourself even stronger than when you were before you got sick. 

Rules of Exercise When Sick

When to hit the gym:
If you have a cold and your symptoms include a sore throat, sneezing, coughing, and a runny nose, then you should be able to do some low-volume, moderate-to-high-intensity strength training sessions. You’ll probably find that your muscular endurance is compromised, and you’ll likely notice you’re out of breath faster. Keep the workout short. Aim for 5-8 reps at 70-80% of your 1RM for 3 sets/exercise. Don’t start a volume training program at this time. Keep your workouts short – nothing over 30 minutes.
When you shouldn’t train:
You shouldn’t be training while sick at all if you have a fever, serious chest congestion, stomach symptoms, or the flu. You likely will not even feel well enough to head to work or school that day, so training is out of the question and would only suppress your immune system further.
Get to bed early and get extra sleep. Numerous studies have shown that potent immune activators are released and many immune functions are greatly increased during deep sleep. Also, provide your body with plenty of fluids (no alcohol) and amino acids.
Do some extremely light cardio (walk outside to get some fresh air), and as you start to feel better you can even incorporate some light, low-volume bodyweight training to enhance your immune system.
Feeling better?
Yes, you should train while sick during the first week that you’re recovering from a cold, but you should reduce the training intensity so you’re in the 70% range or your 1RM with moderate volume. However, you’ll likely feel weaker as your body re-establishes a state of balance however.
The week after the cold recovery period you can get back into going full throttle.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Tips on Staying Healthy in the Office

I like no 3 :)

Don't let the demands of your job keep you from being healthy.

By Julia Kim Murphy

With the new year in full swing, we are all keeping busy again at work. Unfortunately this means that we are sitting down for much longer periods of time, forgetting to drink water, and move.
It is recommended that we move every 20 minutes, but if the majority of your work is behind a computer screen, it's hard to remember to move enough during the day. Here are some tips on what you can do to get moving even at the office:

1. Set a reminder on your phone.

Every 20 minutes, set a reminder to beep or alert you in some way that it’s time for you to move. Use this as an excuse to get up and get yourself a glass of water from the kitchen. This habit will also guarantee you're drinking more and walking around more often. The breaks can be anywhere between 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
Other ideas for what to do during your breaks:
  • Stand up for phone calls.
  • Go to the restroom or get a cup of coffee/water.
  • Alter your tasks (break up continuous computer time with checking phone messages, reading reports, etc.)

2. Exercise your neck.

While waiting for an email, a document to open, or a page to load, exercise your neck. There are many times in an office job that you'll be waiting for your computer. While that's happening, don't keep refreshing the screen or clicking away. Close your eyes and move your head from side to side and get your neck stretching a little. A lot of the tension from your shoulders will be alleviated if you get into this habit. Tightness in the neck can be caused by stress and prolonged sitting. This can lead to a sore neck and other spinal problems down the line.

3. Get an ergonomic assessment.

Most workplaces now offer to do an ergonomic assessment for you. Sign yourself up. It could be that your chair is too low or your screen is tilted and you haven't noticed. Hours of sitting in a bad ergonomic alignment can cause years of damage to your spine.

4. Ask for a standing desk.

Sitting for long periods of time can be detrimental in ways you don't even realise. When we are sitting down for longer than a few hours, our bodies receive "shut down" signals. A study has found that sitting down after eating is particularly bad for digestion and can lead to a lot of problems like heartburn and bloating.
Many companies today offer an option of having a standing desk with adjustable heights. This gives you the flexibility of having a standing desk when you need it. If your office doesn’t offer standing desks, you can also opt in for having one in your home.
I hope these tips will help you move more wherever you are - in the office or at home!
“Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live” - Jim Rohn.
Lifestyle and travel blogger Julia enjoys writing in and exploring the digital space. A Digital Marketing Professional with a passion for all things health, beauty, lifestyle and travel, Julia is on a mission to battle stress, live a healthy, happy life and lend a helping hand. An animal lover and avid globe trotter.
Main Photo Credit: g-stockstudio/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: Uber Images/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: everything possible/shutterstock.com

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Mobility and Why it's important

Sometimes we shouldn't really be lifting weights at the gym. It's gotta be more functional, so here's to why putting mobility workouts in our exercise is important. And, it's easier than you think it is ;)


So there I was…26 years old with knee problems, and while I could chalk it up to life in the Army I felt that there must be another cause for the pain. So I Google’d it, like any other citizen of the modern age.
I discovered that I spent too much time lifting weights, running, and eating whole cows to realize that I had neglected my body. The fact is that our bodies are designed to operate as a single unit. We are supposed to be able to move freely with ease and definitely without pain. Each muscle, tendon, and nerve, fire, stretch, and relax to allow for even the smallest movements. Our quality of movement is dependent on our body’s ability to perform action within its range of motion.
This brings us to mobility. According to Oxford Dictionaries, mobility is defined as the ability to move or be moved freely and easily. If you have ever had tightness in the muscles when trying to accomplish simple tasks or soreness in the joints for no reason at all, it could be from a lack of mobility. It is important to mention that mobility is not the same as flexibility. Mobility is the freedom with which a joint moves efficiently through its range of motion under specific conditions, for example in a squat. Flexibility speaks to the range of motion of a joint in general. While a flexible person may have enough range of motion to perform certain movements they may not possess the balance, coordination, or strength to do them. Just because a person is flexible enough to touch their toes doesn’t mean the can accurately complete more complex movements with strength and balance.
When your body lacks mobility it may compensate in other areas. For example, if you lack mobility in your ankles your knees and hips have to compensate when you squat or lunge. Tasks like picking something up off the floor or going up the stairs require mobility in the ankles. If you don’t have it, the task is more difficult and can be taxing on the body.
It is in our best interest to add mobility training to our daily regimen and weekly workouts. It assists the body in performing as one by strengthening it through a series of movements. A good mobility regimen consists of foam rolling, mobility drills, and potentially some stretching. Below I have listed some guidance and inspiration for developing your own mobility program.
The first task you should consider performing is foam rolling. It is a self massage activity which helps to loosen the muscle and relieve some of the tightness. Be advised, it may hurt but it feels awesome soon afterward. This is key to mobility as I’m pretty sure we can all attest to the fact that a stiff back does not move easily and freely. An example of a foam roll stretch would be the Foam Roller Gastrocnemius (Calf) Stretch. With this particular stretch you position you calf on the Foam Roller and place the opposite leg on top. Then starting from the back of the ankle you roll the foam roller up to the top of the calf (below the back of the knee). You want to keep both legs off the ground and ensure you stabilize your position with your hands. The goal here is to release tension in the muscle. There are plenty of other exercises for foam rolling in the Fitness Buddy app.
Mobility Drills are exercises that promote mobility by taking the muscles, tendons, and joints through the full range of motion with the intent to increase efficiency and quality of motion. Mobility exercises may also cause you to learn to adjust for balance or coordinate your movement with other muscle groups. One example of this would be wall slides. Wall slides improve the mobility of the shoulders. To perform wall slides you stand with your back against a wall. You place both of your hands and wrists on the wall behind you. You want your arms positioned as if you are about to perform a military press. Next, you slide your hands up the wall gently pressing into the wall with your forearms. Perform the movement slowly and with control. Only go as high as you can comfortably go, range of motion will increase the more you perform them. If you are looking for more mobility drills simply do a web search as there are many other examples including deep squats and yoga pushups.
Stretching is also key since flexibility is a contributing factor to mobility. Stretching prepares the muscles and loosens them up. A good time to stretch is after your body is warm. One stretch that is very beneficial after a workout is a Lunge Stretch or Kneeling Split Squat Stretch. This stretch is for the quadriceps (thighs) and is great after a run or leg workout.
You begin by kneeling on the ground and stepping forward with one foot until your knee is at a 90 degree angle. Your hind knee will remain on the ground and your back will be straight. Next, you will lean forward while keeping your back straight and your back knee should remain in contact with the ground. You will hold this position for 10 to 20 seconds.
Implement some mobility training in your daily routine. It is one of the best things you can do for your body.
Disclaimer: The medical information in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any pain or injuries.
Anthony Fowler is a certified Army Master Fitness Trainer who has been a fitness and nutrition enthusiast since he was 19. He has tried everything from Kefir to Tribulus in his quest to gain muscle mass and maintain a healthy lifestyle. He is a husband and father of three, and aspiring chef who enjoys lifting heavy weights, cooking healthy meals, and sharing his knowledge and experiences with anyone who will listen.
Main Photo Credit: Dudarev Mikhail/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: Syda Productions/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: GaudiLab/shutterstock.com

Sunday, April 3, 2016

13 Things You Need to Know About Nutrition as You Age

I can't stress any further the importance of protein in our diet regime as we age....

Thank you Kristina for the wonderful article! (original article here)

As medicine continues to advance and we are living longer, quality of life remains a high priority. Age can also bring with it some real weight struggles, like the stubborn middle-age spread and what feels like a sluggish metabolism. Meeting nutritional needs as you age may require an adjustment in lifestyle, including what you eat and how you exercise. Here are some things to keep in mind as you get closer to the golden years:
1. Eat light, frequent meals. Eating often throughout the day promotes energy, reduces fatigue and improves mood. Keeping meals small and blood-sugar levels stable by eating consistently may also reduce the risk of overeating. As you age, your GI tract slows down, making it harder to eat big meals without feeling uncomfortable. Small meals help your body absorb nutrients, too, because they are less taxing to digest.
2. Add protein to every meal and snack. As you age, protein is even more important. The body relies on amino acids found in protein foods as a trigger for muscle building. We all know metabolism slows as we age, but that’s mostly due to the breakdown and loss of muscle. Getting enough amino acids in the diet, specifically leucine, has also been linked to lower body-fat percentages. Protein also helps promote bone health and decreases risk for bone fractures. Animal proteins, in particular, contain a lot of B12, an important vitamin that we tend to malabsorb as we age, so older adults may need to increase their protein intake to get adequate amounts.
3. Reduce refined sugars. Rid the diet of processed sugars and refined carbohydrates, especially soda and other sugary drinks. A high sugar diet has been linked to poor bone mineral density (think: reduced bone strength) and weight gain. It’s OK to indulge every now and then, but follow the 80/20 rule, where 80% of the time you’re eating high-quality, minimally processed foods with little to no added sugars.
4. Fill up on fiber. Fiber promotes regularity, which often decreases with age. This puts the body at risk for diverticular disease, a condition where pouches called diverticula develop within your colon walls and can become inflamed. While only 1–2% of adults under age 30 get this disease, 50–66% of those over 80 do. Want to up your fiber game? Reach for fiber-rich beans, raspberries, pears, apples, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
5. Eat more fish. Fish and seafood are high-quality protein foods that should be included in the diet at least 2–3 times per week. Fatty fish (think: tuna, salmon, halibut, mackerel, anchovies and sardines) help with reducing inflammation, arthritis, heart disease, strokes, bone loss, mood issues and memory disorders.
6. Adjust portion sizes. Calories need to be adjusted to prevent weight gain because our metabolism slows down with age, and we’re also more likely to be sedentary. Eating smaller portion sizes helps shave calories to adjust for a decreased level of physical activity, both in intensity and duration, as we age.
7. Reduce blood pressure with potassium. We commonly link high sodium in the diet with heart issues, but have you ever thought about potassium? Increasing potassium-rich foods can help reduce blood pressure and stroke risk, but many people fall short of their potassium goals of 4,700 milligrams per day as recommended by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines. Potassium may also help reduce risk of developing kidney stones and bone loss with age. How can you get more potassium? Reach for root vegetables, leafy green vegetables and fruits that grow on a vine. For a potassium-rich diet, eat potatoes (white and sweet), winter squash, carrots, spinach, beet greens, kiwi, bananas, tomatoes, oranges, peaches, prunes, beans (especially white), lentils, yogurt, milk and fish. Keep in mind that too much potassium can be dangerous (this most commonly happens from taking supplements), so up your intake by eating healthfully instead of supplementing unless advised by a doctor.
8. Hydrate right. Make a habit to start the day with a tall glass of water, and drink plenty throughout the day. As we age, our thirst receptors decrease, which may lead to subpar fluid intakes and dehydration. Medications may also interfere with our ability to feel thirsty, making it easier to become dehydrated.
9. Build up your immunity. Enjoy a strong and vibrant life by keeping the immune system in shape. Immunity does weaken with age so you’re less able to fight off the common cold or flu. Some scientists conclude that seniors are more vulnerable due to decreased production of the cells that fight off infection. Take extra precautions to stay healthy by eating an antioxidant-rich diet high in colorful fruits and vegetables, specifically those that contain vitamins A and C, and zinc. Aim to include at least three colors at each meal — the more the better.
10. Add flavor with herbs. Senses are less sharp with age. Reduced taste acuity and smell can make it challenging to make food flavorful. Instead of turning to the salt shaker (a common pitfall), season foods with herbs and spices. The good news is these ingredients are also rich in antioxidant power.
11. Start blending. If it’s harder to chew through tough meats or you just don’t feel like cooking an elaborate dinner, add soups and smoothies to your diet. They are easy to eat and can be really comforting and nutrient-rich. Stick to those with lots of fruit and vegetables. And, vegetarian proteins are softer in texture yet convenient for adding nutrients; play with yogurt, milk, kefir, tofu and beans.
12. Support your bones. Calcium is commonly a diet shortfall. At age 50, the Recommended Dietary Allowance for this mineral increases to 1,200 mg/day because shortages are linked to brittle bones. Dairy is a major source of calcium in the American diet, but many of us increasingly become lactose intolerant as we age. Instead of turning to lactose-rich sources like milk, try dairy products with less lactose such as cheese and yogurt. Or, read our calcium-rich alternatives to milk.
13. Get a daily dose of sunshine. Getting outdoors does the body good on many levels. Sunlight helps the body make vitamin D, improves mood by boosting serotonin in the brain and regulates circadian rhythms to promote healthy sleep habits. After age 70, the RDA for vitamin D increases to 800 IU per day. Vitamin D is used in the body to absorb calcium, prevent osteoporosis and maintain bone density. It also can provide protection against some forms of cancers, arthritis and autoimmune diseases, and it may reduce the risk of falls in older people as well as symptoms of menopause. Supplementation may be necessary, considering an 8-ounce serving of fortified whole milk (one of the richest vitamin D sources) only contains 124 IU. Fatty fish, egg yolks and fortified cereals are other good sources.
As a population, we are also spending less time outside and wearing more protective clothing that decreases the absorption of vitamin D from sunlight. Get vitamin D levels checked annually with a routine blood work to determine whether intakes are adequate before supplementation.