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23
APR

5-Move Kettlebell Workout for the Uncoordinated

Filed Under: Exercise and Fitness at 4:40 pm | By: Michele Shapiro

If someone told you that you could work your entire body efficiently and effectively, and that it would actually be fun, you’d jump at the chance, right? Well, all you need is a kettlebell—the free weight alternative that’s made of cast iron and looks sort of like a cylindrical purse (or, some say, a cannonball) with a handle.

What makes the kettlebell such a great workout partner is that the moves it’s used for combine strength training and cardio. Plus, you’re so busy focusing on not dropping the bell that time flies by. The result? Maximum results with a minimum time commitment.

If you’re concerned about throwing out your back, or accidentally hurling the bell through your living room window, fear not. “Wearing training gloves or rubbing hands with chalk before you begin can help you keep a firm grip on the kettlebell until you feel more confident,” suggests Terri Arends, group fitness instructor at the Aaron Family JCC of Dallas, who has two kettlebell certifications.

The five-move kettlebell workout that Arends generated below can be done at the gym or at home—in less than 30 minutes. So clear some space, grab a bell, and start swinging.

Kettlebell Reps and Sets

Kettlebells come in various sizes and weights. The weight you use and number of reps you perform of each move depends on your goal. Are you looking to amp up your cardio? Use a lighter bell (9-12 pounds) and do three sets of 10-20 reps. If you’re hoping to build muscle mass, go a little heavier (15+ pounds) and do three sets of 6-10 reps.

Move 1: Kettlebell Deadlift

Body parts worked: Back, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders

Stand with feet hip-width (8-12 inches) apart. With arms straight, grip kettlebell handle with both hands so that it hangs between your legs. Hinge at the hips, tilting your torso forward and keeping your back straight as you lower the kettlebell toward the floor. Hold for a count of three. Press your feet into the floor and return to starting position, keeping back straight.

Tip: Only go as deep as your hips will allow. When your hips move back, keep your spine neutral to avoid back strain. (No rounding or hyper-extending your back!)

Move 2: Kettlebell Squat

Body parts worked: Quads, glutes, hamstrings

Stand with feet hip-width apart. Place both hands on kettlebell handle and hold at chest height, elbows bent. Lower body as far as you can by driving hips back and transferring weight to heels. Return to start position.

Tip: Be sure to brace your abs and keep your chest lifted throughout the move to avoid putting undue pressure on your lower back.

Move 3: Single-Hand Kettlebell Squat

Body parts worked: Hips, glutes, hamstrings, core

Hold kettlebell by handle with right arm. Bend elbow, resting the bell in the nook of your upper arm and shoulder on same side. Extend left hand to act as a counterbalance. Drive hips back, transferring weight to heels, simultaneously bending knees into squat position. Return to start position and repeat on left side.

Tip: Make a fist with the extended hand and squeeze hard to elicit more tension in the body.

Move 4: Single-Hand Kettlebell Row

Body parts worked: Back, rhomboids, rear deltoids, triceps, trapezius, core

With kettlebell handle in right hand, lunge forward with left foot, keeping body in a long, forward-leaning angle. Prop left elbow on left thigh for support, and drive right elbow back, keeping it close to body and pointing it toward ceiling. Lower the weight. Repeat on opposite side.

Tip: Keep body as still as possible and isolate the arm movement for maximum results.

Move 5: Kettlebell Swing

Body parts worked: Glutes, hamstrings, lats, abs

Standing with feet hip-width apart and gripping kettlebell handle with both hands, hike the bell back between legs, knees bent. Drive feet into ground while using the momentum of your hip thrust to bring bell in front of you. Raise bell to eye level. Let the bell hang there for a count of three. Hinge hips back and repeat.

Tip: Control the descent of the kettlebell by keeping your abs engaged. As the bell lowers, move immediately and fluidly into the next rep.

 

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6
APR

3 Easy Ways to Motivate Yourself to Work Out When You’re Not Feeling It

Filed Under: Exercise and Fitness,General Wellness & Wellbeing at 4:17 pm | By: Joe Palinsky

No matter how dedicated you are to your personal fitness goals, there will be times when you can’t even. Working out is an admirable goal, but you never know when the pressures and responsibilities from your daily routine might get in the way of you hitting the gym. Drumming up the motivation to engage in some intense physical activity might not be possible some days. Luckily, there are plenty of tips you can explore to trick yourself into working out, even when you absolutely cannot deal.

1. Find a Workout Buddy

Motivation is tricky. You probably have some fitness goals you are working toward at the gym. Whether you’re looking to slim down, bulk up, or get your body a bit more toned for warmer weather, it won’t always be enough to motivate you to act. Psychologically speaking, this comes down to accountability. When the only person you are letting down by skipping the gym is yourself, it is easier to feel fine with the decision. To get out of this habit, you might want to include another person in your plans.

Exercising with a friend can be useful for a number of reasons. First and foremost, you are far more likely to make it to the gym when you have another person who expects you to be there. Holding yourself to higher standards can be a difficult process, but working with a friend who has similar fitness goals can help both of you become better at commitment. Some studies suggest taking a class with a consistent group increases the odds of a person consistently going to the gym each week (1).

2. Adjust Your Attitude

Complaining is an ugly color on anyone. Sure, everyone needs to vent and let out some steam now and again. If people didn’t get frustrations out when they began to bottle up, the world would be a much more tense place to live. Of course, listening to someone complain can be a huge turnoff. Attitude is everything when it comes to your mental health (2). When you harbor resentment toward the fact that you need to hit the gym, you are going to treat the activity as a chore.

On top of this resentment, you’re more likely to complain to those around you about how much you do not want to go to the gym. This negative attitude is going to work against you, making it more likely that you’re going to skip out. People who hear you complain will most likely tell you to skip out because they’re simply tired of hearing you go on and on. Though it might be difficult, changing your attitude about going to the gym can do wonders for motivating you to actually go.

3. Reward Yourself

No matter how mature people get, at their core, they always remain children. This can work to your advantage when it comes to finding motivation to exercise. The classic system of rewarding good behavior can do wonders when it comes to tricking your mind. If you like to shop, head to your favorite store and browse for workout outfits. Pick something you absolutely love and buy it with the specific intention of going to the gym that night. You’ll most likely be so excited to put the outfit to use that you’ll actually be excited to work out.

Rewarding yourself can take many forms (3). If you aren’t the type of person who gets excited by gym clothes, then switch the reward out for something you have had your eye on. It doesn’t have to be exercise related for it to motivate you. When a splurge purchase has been in the back of your mind, it can work wonders to get you to do something you are resistant toward. As long as you find a tactic that makes sense for your personality, you will be ready to work up all the motivation you need to keep yourself fit.




5
APR

4 Ways Essential Oils Can Boost Your Yoga Practice

Filed Under: Aromatherapy,Exercise and Fitness at 4:30 pm | By: Joe Palinsky

Close your eyes and try to imagine what it feels like to enter your favorite yoga studio. You might picture the way sunlight cascades in through the windows during your class or the calm energy you experience when you first sit and focus your breathing. After thinking about how the studio looks, try and think about how it smells. Most yoga studios take advantage of using essential oils during classes in order to help participants feel relaxed, focused, and ready to get to work.

Whether you practice yoga in a studio with other people or you are someone who likes to experience the activity alone at home (1), adding essential oils into the mix can transform the way you feel throughout. Check out these interesting ways essential oils can boost your yoga practice.

1. Improve Breathing

Breath is a crucial part of yoga. In fact, most meditative practices and exercises will ask you to try to slow your breathing and focus on how it feels to inhale and exhale. The more you focus on your breath, the easier it becomes to lose yourself in the rhythm of movements yoga involves. You might have heard instructors mention the word “prana” before (2). This word loosely translates from Sanskrit to mean “vital life force.” Since breathing is a vital action, discovering essential oils to help improve the quality of your breath can be a great find.

Peppermint should be at the top of your list when you are aiming to use essential oils in your yoga practice. According to several studies (3), using peppermint essential oils while exercising can improve how your body takes in oxygen. Additional studies reveal that peppermint can give your mind a boost as well. Getting into the habit of using peppermint will make yoga a more calming and rewarding experience in no time.

2. Sharpen Focus

Clearing your mind is another important aspect of practicing yoga. You want to free yourself of the thoughts that tend to plague the mind throughout the day while practicing. Of course, this is easier said than done. As much as you might try to keep yourself focused, you may discover you can’t get a certain tune out of your head or you keep going back to a mistake you made at work the previous day. To err is human and to go back to that same error in your mind time and time again is just as human.

To keep your spirits high and your mind focused while going through each movement, you might want to try cinnamon. Cinnamon essential oil has been shown to have a number of key benefits for those who use it (4). In fact, there has been a ton of research centered on how much of a medicinal punch cinnamon tends to pack. To keep the mood light and your energy positive during your practice, check out what cinnamon has to offer.

3. Clean the Air

If you have frequented a yoga studio or two in your day, then you most likely know how gross a studio can become. People can become sweaty, sticky, and smelly when they are putting their bodies through intense physical movements. There is no shame in what your body is attempting to cleanse through your skin, though you might not want to smell what is pouring out of everyone’s sweat. To keep a room clean and fresh, essential oils are definitely the way to go.

Classic scents like lemon can be a perfect fit, but you might feel like you want to try something a bit more adventurous. Tea tree oil has been a popular choice in recent years for people who want to give their homes and businesses deep cleans without relying on harsh chemicals (5). Mixing some of this oil with water in a spray bottle and using it to wet and wipe down surfaces will help rid the air of toxins and prevent the smells of the human body from lingering in your space for too long.

4. Fight Stress

Finally, having a solid spiritual center is another key part of engaging with yoga. You want to focus your mind, body, and spirit through your movements, and the spirit can often prove to be the most challenging. Unlike the body and the mind, the spirit tends to be the hardest concept to nail down. Focusing on essential oils that aid in calming anxiety can often prove to be invaluable when it comes to discovering your own spiritual core.

Essential oils like bergamot might be what you need (6). In various research studies, bergamot was shown to have a positive impact on psychological stress. If you find that you are unable to keep yourself calm or spiritually focused, this oil might be a useful tool in getting back on the right track.

There are countless options for you to consider when it comes to improving your yoga experience with essential oils. All you need to do is find the scent that works best for your goals.




21
MAR

Amping Up Your Workouts? Here’s What Your Recovery Should Look Like

Filed Under: Diet & Weight Loss,Exercise and Fitness,Sports Nutrition at 3:13 pm | By: Joe Palinsky

There is nothing quite like heading to the gym for a workout. Engaging with your muscles and testing your limits can be an absolutely fantastic way to transform your body and feel good about your choices. Seeing success with your routine is all about focusing on each aspect of the process. You might have a good idea about which workouts are most appropriate for your goals but you also may not have spent much time thinking over other aspects like recovery.

The recovery portion of your workout is absolutely essential if you want to see lasting results from your workout. Though the recovery period is always somewhat important, it can become even more crucial when you decide to amp-up or enhance your routine. In order to be ready for whatever these new attempts bring your way, you might want a bit of advice on how to best find a recovery process that works for your needs.

Before You Begin

What you eat before you hit the gym is definitely going to have influence over what your recovery period looks like. You are most likely going to hear a lot of varying opinions on what you should be munching on before a workout. Some people claim you should avoid eating altogether and others are big proponents of loading up on carbs and proteins. What you are attempting to work out will change what you should be eating.

Lean proteins are always your best bet when eating close to a workout. These proteins are going to be present in your body for several hours after you ingest them and can be used to your advantage during and after the exercise routine. A number of health specialists also believe in the power of BCAAs and what these vitamins can offer the body during and after a workout. Many specialists in the world of fitness rave about BCAAs and how these products can lower fatigue and reduce soreness while a person is engaging in intense physical activity.

Chocolate is Key

Do you want an excuse to eat a bit more chocolate each day? Most people do but refrain from this because of how sugary most chocolates can be. While you will definitely regret eating a couple of candy bars after your workout, you can still incorporate chocolate into your recovery period for some impressive results. A glass of chocolate milk after a workout has been shown to assist in muscle recovery due to the protein found in the milk.

The chocolate itself is also said to assist the body with speeding along the recovery process. Carbs found in chocolate syrups and sauces aid the muscles with recovery by helping them to be ready for action in a shorter amount of time. When you want to sweeten the process of exercising while also improving the way you feel, a glass of this delicious drink can be a great fit.

Tart and Sweet

Have you ever had such an intense workout that you are still feeling it pretty seriously the next day? This is commonplace for many people who are just starting to increase their workouts. Though part of the process, the pain felt after a workout can often deter many people from pushing themselves as hard as they might like. Instead of giving up the moment you feel too sore to get out of bed, you can drink a glass of cherry juice. Though not as sweet as chocolate milk, pure cherry juice has been shown to reduce swelling in the muscles and make the experiences far less painful.

When you hit the gym, you probably have some very specific goals in your mind. If you want to reach those goals and develop the body of your dreams, you are going to need to take time to learn about each stage of the fitness process. Discover the best recovery techniques for what you are hoping to accomplish and in no time you are going to feel ready to take on lots more!




20
MAR

Introducing: LuckyVitamin Pure Collagen!

Filed Under: Beauty,Exercise and Fitness,Supplements at 11:35 am | By: Madeline Reiss
Keep skin, hair, nails and joints healthy with LuckyVitamin’s Pure Collagen. It provides your body with essential building blocks for tissue growth and repair so you can look and feel your best. This flavorless powder easily mixes with water, coffee, juice or your favorite smoothie!

Subscribe to LuckyVitamin’s YouTube Channel!

 




22
FEB

7 Ways to Replenish Your Electrolytes Naturally

Filed Under: Exercise and Fitness,Health Foods at 12:01 am | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor

Electrolytes are essential nutrients that help maintain fluid balance and conduct electrical activity. Directly responsible for muscle contractions and neural activity, electrolyte imbalance may happen when you lose an excessive amount of body fluids through sweat, vomiting, diarrhea, or a high fever. Most common symptoms include feeling woozy or experiencing muscles cramps. You can easily get your body back in balance by eating or drinking foods that contain these essential nutrients and avoiding highly processed foods loaded with sodium but lacking important electrolytes such as potassium or magnesium. So, let’s check out 7 ways to replenish your electrolytes naturally.

1. Coconut water

One of the richest natural sources of electrolytes, coconut water is high in potassium as one cup contains about 600mg of potassium as well as 250mg of sodium. Coconut water is also lower in carbohydrates compared to other sports drinks, making it a great electrolyte replacement during or after a workout.

2. Bananas

Need potassium? Go bananas.  Known as the best source of this impotent mineral among fruits and vegetables, one single banana provides over 400mg of potassium which helps control muscles and blood pressure. It’s the perfect snack for pre and post workout.

3. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are also a great way to naturally replace electrolytes. This amazing superfood is loaded with vital nutrients such as omega-3 essential fatty acids, antioxidants, protein, vitamins, and lots of minerals like calcium, iron, and potassium.

4. Nuts and Seeds

Almonds, cashews, peanuts, and pumpkin seeds are great sources of magnesium and snacking them helps to replenish levels of this important mineral.

5. Salt

It might sound weird, but adding a pinch of salt to a glass of water helps with rehydration by replacing sodium and chloride. Some salty foods, such as broth or vegetable juice, are also good for replenishing sodium levels.

6. Yogurt

Including calcium-rich foods are also important to prevent dehydration and restore electrolytes lost during sweaty workout sessions. Yogurt is an excellent choice not only for the amount of calcium provided but also for the beneficial probiotics.

7. Water

The amount of water you need to drink on a daily basis depends on your age, how often and how intense you exercise, the climate you live in, and even your body size. One thing is for certain: drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.




5
DEC

4 Tips To Keep You Productive All Winter Long

Beautiful happy young adult woman drinking coffee near New York City skyline wearing winter clothes and smiling. Beautiful woman holding coffee cup outdoors in the city.

Article written by Joe Palinsky

Once the dazzling colors of autumn have faded and the temperature has begun its shift in colder directions, it means winter has arrived. While the end of the year tends to get people all caught up in the excitement of the holidays, the winter also has a way of taking away a person’s motivation. Whether you are someone who suffers from seasonal depression or you can’t seem to find the mental energy to be productive on a bitterly chilly day, it can be almost impossible to get anything done.

If you are trying to break the mold this winter and be the most productive version of yourself, you might need a bit of help. Follow these suggestions to stay as motivated as possible this season.

1.) Consume Quality Foods

What you eat plays a huge part in the way you feel throughout the season. The short days and freezing temperatures of the winter tend to push people towards specific food groups. “Comfort foods” are popular at this time of year because they can make a person feel safe and content. Unfortunately, these dishes are usually packed with butter and fat. Though you might feel inclined to make a huge batch of macaroni and cheese every night, your motivation requires something a bit more nourishing.

Maintaining a productive lifestyle is a challenge in the winter because many people face depression or decreased moods. For some, this comes from a lack of exposure to sunlight. To counteract this, it can be in your best interests to eat meals loaded with Vitamin D. Salmon, yogurt, and tofu are all excellent choices. By consuming a healthy amount of Vitamin D throughout the winter, you are more likely to feel motivated, have a strengthened immune system, and keep your metabolism running efficiently.

2.) Life is Company

Feeling less motivated in the winter can be detrimental to your life in a number of ways. For one, you are not going to want to take on personal projects or engage in hobbies you normally find appealing. It also stands to reason you’ll want to stay home and limit your social interactions. This is no coincidence. According to several studies, people feel less social when there is an absence of warm light for extended periods. Though it might be natural to limit your social interactions at this time of year, it actually adds to depression.

Winter can be isolating. Since you might not be planning on going out after work as much as you did in the summer, you need to find ways to interact with others whenever possible. Small steps like making the decision to meet with friends for lunch on a Saturday or spend some extra time talking with coworkers at the start of the workday can be great moves. The more you interact with other people on a daily basis, even if it is only your local barista, the more likely it is you will feel motivated to be productive.

3.) Fight the Sickness

A lack of motivation is not the only issue people deal with in the winter. Colder weather also makes it far easier for germs to spread, with influenza and the common cold being most prevalent between December and March. Since coming down with a cold can easily ruin any motivation you have drummed up, you want to go above and beyond to stay as healthy as possible. A bowl of oatmeal each morning can provide your body with fiber and zinc, both which aid in keeping your body regular and well.

Foods high in Vitamin C should also make appearances on your plate throughout the season. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, oranges, spinach, and tomatoes are all practical choices.

4.) Get Out and Move

Finally, nothing beats exercise when it comes to staying motivated. Getting off the couch and heading to the gym for a workout might feel like an impossible feat in the winter but it can make a huge difference in your mood. The more you engage with your body, the less likely you are to feel stuck in a rut. Exercise releases endorphins, allowing for an improved mood and a newfound feeling of self-worth.

Winter can be harsh and unforgiving. To stay one step ahead of the blues that come from this time of year, remember to motivate yourself in the right ways. Eat foods rich in both Vitamin C and D, exercise regularly, and keep social to make it through the winter in one piece.

 

Joe Palinsky is a full-time writer and theater professional in Philadelphia. He predominantly works with ensemble-based Found Theater Company, where his writing has been featured in numerous productions. Though primarily a ghostwriter, his work has been published in the now-defunct Spirit News and as a guest on Found Theater’s blog.




29
NOV

5 Ways To Keep Moving When It’s Too Cold To Function

Filed Under: Exercise and Fitness,General Wellness & Wellbeing,Mindfulness at 9:31 am | By: Guest Blogger
Legs of two runners outside in winter nature

Article Written by Jessica Thiefels

Staying active in the winter is hard—especially on the coldest days when even getting out of bed is a challenge. Don’t let the winter doldrums keep you from moving your body and working toward new goals and resolutions. Instead, use the following ideas to stay motivated and bring more movement into your day, even when it’s too cold to function.

 

Make Time for Stretching

If you don’t want to go outside, take time to stretch while relaxing in your warm home. Not only will this get your blood flowing, but stretching is critical to maintaining a healthy body:

“Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains and muscle damage,” explain experts at Harvard Health Publishing.

Here are a few stretching routines to try:

You can also browse a full library of stretching videos from Flexy Friday.

 

Try An Active Meditation Flow

Meditation brings mind-body alignment and can help drive away those wintertime blues. However, you don’t have to sit still to reap the benefits. Active meditation is a great way to get moving on the coldest winter days while tuning into yourself and taking some time to relish in silence.

To find an active meditation, search general meditation apps like Insight Timer. If you want something more structured, check out this series from Cody. Each video has a different focus, allowing you enjoy a well-rounded practice with guidance.

 

Do An At-Home Workout

Even a small amount of space can be enough for a great at-home workout, you just have to know how to use it. Instead of ruling it out altogether, take a look at some of these great at-home workout platforms and find the ones that work best for your home.

In many cases, the best workout for a small space will be strength-based (opposed to plyometric or cardio); this is especially true if:

  • You live above someone to avoid stomping.
  • You have a lot of things that can fall off shelves.
  • You have minimal space to move and most exercises need to be done in one place.

 

Take a Lunch Walk

If you work in a big building, lunch is your chance to burn some calories while staying warm—especially if you bring your afternoon coffee along for the ride. To get more out of your walk, take the stairs whenever possible and add exercises to the mix, including walking lunges, squats, wall pushups and calf raises.

If you don’t have a large building, it’s time to bundle up and get outside. To motivate yourself to get moving, invest in some new winter gear. Just like buying new gym clothes as motivation, investing in new winter apparel may be just what you need to get you outside for a short jaunt.

 

Find Ways to Boost Accountability

The best way to keep moving when it’s too cold to function is to get someone or something to hold you accountable! When the morning alarm goes off, the sun isn’t up yet and your bed is warm and cozy, the motivation to get up and head to the gym is nearly non-existent. Especially when you’re the only one making these decisions.

That’s where accountability tricks come in handy; when you’ve already paid for a class or your gym partner will be waiting outside in 10 minutes, you’re less likely to bail. Here are a few ways to take your accountability up a notch:

  • Find a workout partner.
  • Sign up for classes ahead of time; if you don’t go, you’re wasting money.
  • Try one of the following apps: DietBet, Pact, or Healthy Wage.
  • Reward yourself with weekly treats: a massage, a night out with friends, an extra glass of wine at dinner or a new outfit.

 

Stay Warm and Fit

Use these simple tips to stay fit and healthy, despite the cold. With a little extra accountability, extra stretching and at-home workouts, you’ll fit it all in while staying warm and strong all season long!

 

Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than ten years and is currently a full-time writer, ACE Certified Personal Trainer and NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition specialist. She’s also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Honest Body Fitness, an online health magazine for women who are fed up with being told how to look and how to get there, yet still don’t feel like enough. She’s written for Shape, Reader’s Digest, AARP, Snap Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness and more. Follow her on TwitterFacebook and Instagram for health articles, workouts tips and more.




20
OCT

How To Trick Yourself Into Becoming A Morning Workout Person

Filed Under: Diet & Weight Loss,Exercise and Fitness at 8:00 am | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
Close up of a man running in the park

It’s not an easy task but if you like to take on a challenge, here’s a great one: becoming a morning workout person.

Many people simply cannot exercise in the early hours of the day for different reasons. Some people need a slow start. Some people only start functioning after a cup of coffee or tea. Some people simply don’t have the energy to work out in the morning hours. Plus, the majority of people can’t seem to fit a workout into their busy schedules. Work, school, kids—everything else seems to take up our morning time, but there’s a way to make it happen!

You can wake up earlier, get your workout done and then start your day as you normally would.
Waking up an hour earlier than your usual time may be sufficient, but as we know, this is easier said than done and takes some habit-forming skills. Of course, going to bed earlier is necessary to become a morning person as you still need to sleep enough hours and wake up rested. Making this a habit may actually bring a lot of health benefits for you.

Eating properly is essential. You may choose to eat a light breakfast or a nutritional bar before your workout and then complement with a healthy breakfast once your activity is done. You can also eat a full healthy breakfast and then workout, of course, this option may only work you have enough time in the morning. In both cases, eating well and exercising in the morning hours are two important factors that can help regulate your eating habits, and in some cases, making you less hungry for the rest of day.

Since waking up early and starting a new habit are two, not-so-easy things to do, you can start slowly, exercising just 10-15 minutes, two or three times a week. Once your mind and your body are used to the new workout time, bump up to 20-30 minutes and more frequently if you wish. This way, it may be easier for you to get that great feeling after getting your exercise done in the morning hours without feeling tired during the day.

Remember that it may take time and you may feel like quitting but don’t give up. Once you have established yourself as a morning workout person, you will feel energized every day.




10
OCT

5 Best Mindful Activities When Meditation Isn’t Cutting It

Filed Under: Exercise and Fitness,Mental Wellbeing,Mindfulness at 12:27 pm | By: Guest Blogger
Mid adult woman riding bike

Article Written by Jessica Thiefels

“Mindfulness” is a buzzword we can’t seem to ignore any longer because it’s more than just a passing trend. In fact, this concept is rooted in ancient Eastern customs and culture and, when practiced regularly, can have a wide variety of holistic benefits that strengthen the mind, body and spirit.

Greater Good Magazine defines this term as “moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and the surrounding environment.” This mental exercise grounds us in the present, enables us to observe our inner selves without judgment, and keeps our focus off the “white noise” of this distracted, hyper-frenetic world.

I know what you’re thinking: “But I can’t just sit still for 20 minutes; I’ve tried meditation, I just can’t do it.” The good news is you don’t have to sit still to reap the benefits of mindfulness. If you want to experience more balance and peace in your own life, these sports are ideal for practicing mindfulness and getting a workout at the same time.

Cycling

Cycling engages the mind-body connection in several capacities, from the physical act of steering and pedaling to the mental drill of pushing through challenges, finding your pace and anticipating the route ahead.

“Every aspect of cycling can become a meditation,” suggests Nick Moore, author of Mindful Thoughts for Cyclists. He explains that preparing for a ride “has its own rituals that switch us unconsciously from civilian to cyclist—a mental shift of gears in which we transition from one energy state to another, from the potential to the kinetic.” And after, “giving the bike a rub-down, re-lube and once-over is a chance to decompress and gather our thoughts.”

Take your cycling outside for even greater mental health benefits. If you can only cycle in a gym or your home, stay in tune with your body and your breathing to maintain mindfulness.

Tennis

The elements of competition and self-awareness that are prevalent in tennis work to keep your attention engaged in the action and energy of the court rather than your mind. According to a discipline known as Mindfulness-Based Tennis Psychology, this practice “enhances overall performance by increasing an athlete’s ability to function ‘in the zone,’ by sharpening concentration” to hone both “accuracy and precision.”

The Huffington Post also reports that tennis champion Novak Djokovic uses mindfulness in this tennis to release self-doubt, anger and worry, a skill he deems “just as important as physical training.”

You can play tennis alone against a wall, or with a partner; in either case, you may not have to try very hard to maintain mindfulness in this game. The game will keep you naturally focused on breath and movement.

Running

Running has a way of giving you clarity and focus as you move to the rhythm of your footfalls and feel the deepness of your breath. That may be why 22 percent of runners said they started running as a natural form of stress-relief, according to a 2017 runners poll by Fit2Run.

This type of movement leaves room for “reflection and exploration,” suggests Runner’s World, making it the perfect way to practice active mindfulness. Tune into the repetitive motion that engages both the upper- and lower-body and listen to your feet as they strike the ground. Take note of how that feels, as your foot flows from heel to toe and back into the air again.

Archery

This less popular sport is rooted in the “kyudo” tradition of samurai warriors and has been described as a “moving meditation” to synchronize and bring about a sense of equilibrium to a person’s inner world. “Kyudo [which means ‘way of the bow’] is infused with philosophical influences…making it a ritualistic practice,” explains Archery360.

This unique form of archery eliminates all outside diversions to “symbolize leaving your worries at the door.” Instead, you enter the practice range, uninhibited from stressors with a clarity of “pure heart and mind.” The precision needed to align your stance, engage your isometric muscles, then fixate on the target is both an intuitive and immersive experience.

To enjoy this active meditation, look for a local archery school or class, which you may be able to find at a local college or recreation center.

Weightlifting

The breathing sequence of “inhale, exhale, lift, hold, pause and repeat” is a powerful way to activate active meditation during your workout. Tuning into yourself in the weight room, finding stillness in the sound of barbells making contact with a metal rack or the feel of your biceps protruding under a heavy mass, boosts strength, both mental and physical.

Ayurveda expert Larissa Carlson suggests that by noticing the “sensation of muscles contracting and releasing, the roughness of your skin against the weight or the sweat trickling down your back,” it’s possible to achieve a posture she calls “meditation in motion.”

Start Moving Mindfully

Find time for these activities in your regular fitness routine—but don’t expect mindfulness to come naturally. Tune into your breath, make note of how your muscles are feeling, and connect breath with movement as much as possible. Soon, this mindful active state will come naturally, and you’ll leave very workout feeling that familiar post-yoga bliss that comes with focusing on breath and our bodies.

Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than ten years and is currently a full-time writer, ACE Certified Personal Trainer and NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition specialist. She’s also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Honest Body Fitness, an online health magazine for women who are fed up with being told how to look and how to get there, yet still don’t feel like enough. She’s written for Shape, Reader’s Digest, AARP, Snap Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness and more. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for health articles, workouts tips and more.




19
SEP

6 Resistance Band Workouts You Can Do Anywhere

Filed Under: Exercise and Fitness,Men's Health,Women's Health at 5:00 pm | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
Athlete training with a resistance band

If you want to get in shape but can’t afford a gym membership or kettlebells and dumbbells, we have great news for you. Resistance bands are the way to go! Affordable, space-efficient, highly portable and even more effective than a set of dumbbells, these bands are known to improve strength and balance by working in a full range of motion, targeting muscles that you may miss with weights. So, let’s look at 6 resistance band workouts you can do anywhere.

1. Band Pull Apart

This exercise targets chest, triceps, and upper back. Simply stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and head facing forward. Hold a resistance band in front of you with your arms extended straight out. Leave a little bit of band left at the ends and pull the band apart by bringing your shoulder blades together so that the band touches your chest. Slowly return to the starting position by bringing your arms back down in front you at eye level. Repeat slowly and under control, up to 10 reps.

2. Lunge with Biceps Curl

Place the center of the band under the instep of your left foot and position your right foot about two feet behind you. With an underhand grip on the band’s handles, perform a biceps curl while bending your knees to lower into a lunge position, repeating up to 20 times, then switch legs.

3. Donkey Kicks

A great exercise for legs. Get down on all fours holding the ends of the band with your hands and loop it around your foot. Kick your leg straight back while raising your foot slightly towards the ceiling against the resistance of the band. Hold for a couple of seconds at the top and slowly lower to starting position. Repeat as many times as you can and up to 15 reps per leg.

4. Squat with Overhead Press

Stand in the middle of the band with feet parallel and shoulder-width apart. Hold handles at shoulder height, with palms facing away from you and elbows bent. Squat deeply while pressing your arms directly over your head. Keep your weight on your heels and resist the band as you return to standing position. Repeat about 10-15 times.

5. Glute Bridge

An easy and effective exercise. Tie a band around your legs right above your knees. Lie on your back with your feet on the floor, bending your knees to 90 degrees. Rise up with your hips until your shoulders, hips and knees align, contracting your glutes through the entire movement.

6. Lateral Band Wall

This exercise targets hips, glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. Just place the band around your ankles and get into a squat position with your thighs parallel to the ground and feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart. Step out laterally to the left against the band, remaining in the squat position with your hands in front you in an athletic stance. Alternate sides and step to your right against the band. Step out five times on each side and repeat up to 10 reps.

 

 




5
JUN

6 Items To Always Bring On A Hike

flatlay top hiking with shirt hiking shoes and wristwatch

I’ve been hiking for a few years now and I still ALWAYS manage to forget (at least) one essential item when packing. Hoping you can learn from my mistakes, below are six things I always double and triple check before heading on an outdoor adventure!

1. Water
This may sound obvious, but often water is easily overlooked. No matter how long or how far you’re hiking, water is a “must-not-forget” item. Opt for a reusable water bottle that’s light weight & can fit comfortably in your backpack. Refill at a ranger station if necessary, or along the trail if the water sources are clean and your bottle has a filter. This also minimizes the amount of plastic waste you could potentially leave behind with on-time-use bottles.

2. Food storage
If you’re planning to have lunch at the overlook, you’ll need something to carry it in! Bringing a food container with a packed lunch is an excellent solution. It saves money to bring your own food and cuts down on packaging waste from convenience store lunches (another win for the environment!).

3. Trash bags
Since you will most likely need some snacks to keep you fueled for the day, have a plan to store the trash and wrappers from any protein bars, jerky and other trail snacks. As the biggest rule of thumb in regards to nature goes: take nothing with you and leave nothing behind. Make sure you bring along something to collect your trash!

4. Natural bug spray
When exploring a new trail, it’s hard to predict what the bug situation will be like. Bugs are not only annoying, but can carry diseases, so it’s a good idea to slip bug spray in your pack. Make sure it’s natural so as not to expose your skin or the environment to harsh chemicals!

5. First Aid
You never know what can happen outdoors, so always be prepared for even the most minor cuts and bruises. I don’t wear my hiking shoes often, so I know from experience it is the WORST when your shoes start to give you blisters. Because of this, I always have extra band-aids or some moleskin on hand.

6 Sunscreen!
Hiking can often include large portions of uncovered trail, so don’t get caught without sun protection! Same as with your bug spray, make sure to opt for something natural to protect your skin and water-resistant to prevent it from running in your eyes.

What are some of your hiking/outdoor adventuring essentials? Let us know in the comments!




7
APR

The 5 Best Supplements to Take Before a Workout

Filed Under: Exercise and Fitness,Sports Nutrition,Supplements at 12:01 am | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
Some people tend to focus only on post-workout supplements and while it is no secret these products are essential to help recovery, let’s not forget that something else can really make a difference on your workout. Pre-workout supplements may be equally as helpful as they provide the extra energy push needed to get through the entire workout.

Since you already know what to take after your workout, let’s look at the 5 best supplements to take before your workout.

1. BCAA’s – Branched-Chain Amino Acids

Leucine, isoleucine, and valine are essential to regulate protein metabolism, stimulate protein synthesis, and suppress protein breakdown.It is important that you get the ideal ratio of 2:1:1 for leucine to isoleucine to valine respectively. Taking BCAAs before your workout allows your body to break them down and use them as an energy source. Drinking them during the workout can prevent the decrease in BCAA levels, helping to delay fatigue. On top of that, BCAAs help decrease delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) the following day.

2. Caffeine

You can’t exercise if you don’t have energy and no matter how much some people avoid it, caffeine is an effective performance booster for both endurance training as well as short, sprint workouts. Plus, caffeine will not only fire you up for a workout but it can also help decrease the rate of fatigue, increase muscular endurance, enhance the rate of fat oxidation, and improve mental focus and drive.

3. Citrulline Malate

A natural amino acid, Citrulline Malate is produced in the body from other amino acids you consume. Boosting the levels of Citrulline Malate in your body can help increase energy levels and performance while speeding up the recovery rate. If you often wake up sore from a hard workout the next day, this ingredient can be helpful. Citrulline also helps remove the byproduct of lactic acid from your muscles during a set, which would otherwise create that intense burning sensation, causing you to stop early.

4. Beta-Alanine

A great ingredient to increase muscular endurance and improve overall training volume, beta-alanine works by buffering hydrogen ions which help keep the intensity up for longer periods of time. Beta-alanine is excellent at diminishing the sensation of fatigue you experience during each session by maintaining a favorable pH level in the body.

5. Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine monohydrate is a well-proven ingredient you’ll want in any pre-workout product as it saturates muscles with the energy source needed to produce fast and big energy pumps. Used by bodybuilders for decades, creatine works by boosting the level of ATP generation in the muscles, allowing you to perform more before hitting the point of fatigue, as well as enhancing strength, lean mass muscle, and sprinting capability.

 




16
MAR

Start Up Your Fitness, Slowly but Surely

Filed Under: Diet & Weight Loss,Exercise and Fitness,Sports Nutrition at 7:00 pm | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
The winter is almost over. Longer days and warmer weather seems like the perfect combo to get some people exercising and burning the extra calories from the winter months. So, it’s time to start up your fitness program.

Overdoing your fitness capabilities is one of the most common mistakes people make when starting, or re-starting, a new exercise routine. It’s understandable. Many people get excited about it and want to burn off a 3-month, sometimes 5-month, extra weight in 2 weeks or less. Unfortunately, our bodies do not work like that and time is needed to lose weight properly.

Slowly but surely. It fits perfectly as it’s more important to take time and ensure you are doing a fitness program that fits your needs than trying to get it done as quickly as possible.

If your goal is the upcoming summer, no hurry, you have plenty of time. Organize a good monthly plan and go from there. Another great tip: set up short-time goals. Some people find it helpful to divide the goal in stages. For example, if you are trying to lose 10 lbs. by mid-August, it may sound too difficult and you may find it difficult to motivate yourself. Let’s say you set up a goal to lose 2 lbs. per month and you may find that you are way more likely to reach this goal. Short-time goals with less intensity are a great way to reach better results.

Lacking energy is another issue many people face when starting to exercise. Your body isn’t used to a higher amount of activity and as a result, you may need an extra kick. On top of that, many people eat less when trying to lose weight and this combination may result in lack of vitamin and minerals and, therefore, lack of energy.
Energy supplements or drinks can be helpful as these products provide the necessary energy for your workout without the unwanted calories.

Get started, slowly but surely, and you will reach your fitness goals without any issues.

 




24
FEB

New Brands Showcase: Hydracup

Filed Under: Exercise and Fitness,Water Purification and Storage at 8:00 pm | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
Lucky Vitamin is introducing another premium brand to keep you prepared both in fitness and outside the gym: Hydracup.

Hydracup was originally developed for carrying pre and post workout in one shaker but it didn’t take time to realize it can be used to replace all other shakers. Today, this innovative shaker bottle is being used by hundreds of thousands of followers in over 100 countries. With over 400,000 sold in only two years, Hydracup has added something original and fresh to an industry that was flooded with cookie cutter and knock off products but, more importantly, the company has helped customers save time and stay prepared.

Designed to help customers take control of their fitness goals, Hydracup’s 28oz total capacity is equal or bigger than comparable shakers and is super easy to use. Just fill both sides up with the same ingredients or when you don’t need two drinks, use it as a regular shaker. Even if the dual function isn’t your main priority, use Hydracup just like a normal shaker and you will never need another shaker again.

The company believes in taking chances and being different as opposed to the corporate approach of only chasing $ signs. That’s the reason Hydracup is always making progress to bring you the freshest colors and as well as fun and motivational quotes that you’ve never seen before.

You can save even more when you shop Hydracup products at Lucky Vitamin com. No code needed at checkout to save an extra 15% on all items of this new brand as savings are automatically applied.