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  • Losing Weight Online

    In recent years online weight loss plans have gained increasing popularity.  But are they the right choice for you?  Below are some things to think about when deciding whether or not an online weight loss plan or fitness program is right for you.

    Online fitness or weight loss plans are programs designed to allow for people to join up with groups and support systems online in order to help them lose weight.  They are generally provided with information about weight loss, progress tracking programs, workout options, support from online trainers or ‘coaches’, goal setting help and even meal plans.  Of course, all online plans are not created equal, but some or all of these aspects may be a part of an online weight loss program.

    Some of these programs also offer support by way of connecting you with other participants.  This can be very useful for those people who lack support from the people in their direct lives and who feel that having an online support system is beneficial.  Moreover, this buddy system can make a person feel more accountable then they otherwise might without someone to report to.

    Whether or not this kind of thing could work for you depends of course on your own personality and on your life situation.  As mentioned, if you are lacking in direct support from a spouse, friend or family then an online program might help.  Also if you are the kind of person that needs to feel accountable to another person rather than just yourself then this might be a good option for you.

    Another thing to consider is how good you are at sticking to a highly scheduled or rigorous plan.  For some people having someone else decide their daily menus is a godsend while for others it is worse than awful.  If you don’t mind being told what to eat when and when and how to exercise than this might be a good idea for you.  This can take the thinking out of it allowing you to simply follow the rules and lose weight without having to think too hard about whether or not you should or shouldn’t eat this or that.

    For others of course, this can be too limiting.  If you prefer a little more variety than you might want to come up with a diet plan that works better for you instead.  Of course, some online plans may allow you more choice so do your research first.

    Finally, accountability is somewhat different in the online world than in person.  If you are the type who needs to be accountable and prefers to have someone you can see in person than you might opt for a personal trainer at your local gym alongside a weight loss clinic of your choosing.  Again it all depends on how you work best.

    Online weight loss programs can work really well for some people.  Just be sure you consider first what helps you to succeed at your goals and how you work best.

  • Healthy Heart Meals

    Heart Disease is a serious problem in today’s society and accounts for millions of deaths worldwide.  In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and one of the most frequent causes of death in Canada.

    Because of the truly epidemic proportions of this disease it is more important than ever to understand how to keep one’s heart healthy.  A great deal of keeping one’s heart healthy involves eating right.  This alongside a good dose of cardiovascular exercise each week will ensure a measure of security in keeping your heart healthy and functioning.

    Below are some of the best foods you can eat to keep your heart well.  Beyond this though you also need to make sure that you avoid foods that are artery clogging.  Avoid saturated fats as much as possible, use less red meat in your diet, and steer clear of sugary, fatty and fried foods.  When possible opt for fresh fruits and veggies.

    Salmon is one of the best possible foods for your heart.  Chalked full with essential fatty acids, salmon provides a tasty and wholesome treat.  Omega 3 fatty acids help to protect the heart.  These acids reduce inflammation and therefore help to prevent blood clots.  Salmon is also a great fish for lowering the bad cholesterol while raising the good kind.  Having a healthy salmon fillet with grilled veggies or a green salad is a terrific way to keep your body healthy.

    A great healthy snack that also helps to protect the heart is almonds.  Almonds are also a kind of healthy oil and they contain a good dose of fiber and protein to boot.  They contain vitamin E which is also known for lowering the bad kind of cholesterol.  Snacking on these delicious little nuts, or sprinkling some slivered almonds on your next meal will help keep your heart happy and healthy.

    Red wine, believe it or not, can also be good for protecting the heart.  Because reservatrol, which is found in red wine, is a powerful antioxidant, helping yourself to a glass of red wine can be extremely beneficial for your heart.  Just make sure though that you don’t take this to mean that indulging in many glasses will mean better health.  Studies show that four to eight ounces a day is all that is required for reaping the reservatrol benefits, so be sure to stick to a moderate intake.

    Protecting your heart is key to a long and happy life.  The heart can either keep us feeling young or lead to premature aging and chronic disease, so be sure to be kind to your heart and eat right.

  • An Apple a Day

    As everyone has heard, an apple a day keeps the doctor a way.  But is this saying really true?  Well according to recent research the noble apple deserves its healthy reputation.  The apple is a terrific source of vitamins and nutrients and eating just one a day can therefore be a great way to reap a variety of health rewards.

    Apples are a great source of vitamin C and especially in the cold and flu season, this is a very, very important vitamin.  Vitamin C can help boost immune function as well as speed healing.  Vitamin C is essential to healthy gums as well.  Bruising easily is also a sign that you may be lacking in this nutrient, so pick up an apple and enjoy.

    Apples are also a great source of flavanoids.  Flavanoids help to prevent heart disease, lower the risk of coronaries, and improve cardiovascular function overall.  As such, these are important little nutrients for keeping your heart and body healthy.  Flavanoids are also vital for antioxidant effects, so eating an apple can help increase antioxidant power.

    Apples are also important for keeping cholesterol levels in check.  Apples contain something called phenols, which are capable of reducing the bad cholesterol while increasing the good kind.  This is important for many reasons, of course, including the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.  Apples help to prevent cholesterol from oxidizing which is a very serious effect.

    Apples are also good for the lungs.  Research reveals that those people who ate apples regularly, five or more apples a week, were less prone to respiratory problems like asthma.  Again, just one apple a day can be enough to help prevent these issues.

    Finally, apples are low in calories.  Most apples contain somewhere between seventy to one hundred calories.  Because they are sweet they can also satisfy that sugary craving.  Opting for an apple instead of candy or chocolate will therefore not only help prevent a host of diseases, but will also keep your waistline slimmer.

    Apples are a great snack food.  They are flavourful and healthy and offer a host of essential vitamins and nutrients.  Pair an apple with a handful of almonds or walnuts and you have a protein and vitamin rich snack.

  • Swimming your way Slim

    Swimming is a terrific exercise, yet one that tends to be highly underrated in the fitness world.  So many people spend all their time at the local gym pumping weights and running for an hour or more on the treadmill without considering that swimming could provide some or all of these fitness benefits.  Not only is it a terrific workout, but it is also a great way to reap the benefits of water therapy.  After a good long swim you can take advantage of a steam, hot tub or sauna and relax those sore and achy muscles.

    A great way to get started if you’re not a great swimmer is to simply use the floatation devices in the water and use your legs to kick back and forth in the laps.  This is a terrific workout for the legs and butt and one that will get your heart rate going as well.

    Another good option for beginners is to choose a water aerobics course that is designed for those new to water fitness.  There are often different choices when it comes to aquafit classes, one of which being shallow end water aerobics.  These can still be made to be intense workouts if you so choose, so don’t let the older participants fool you.  Most classes can be made to be just as intense as a Stairmaster workout and a lot more fun to boot.

    If you’re interested in really getting your swim on though you may just opt for lane swimming.  Most pools will divide up their space allowing for either 25 to 50 meter lanes.  Here you can get your hearts content of any of the swim variations.  Try starting out with the easier breaststroke, sidestroke or backstroke if you like and then work your way up to the front crawl and for a real challenge the butterfly.

    If you need a little assistance then you should ask at your local rec-centre about swimming lessons for adults.  Most pools will offer these allowing you to choose from larger classes, smaller ones or even private one-on-one lessons.  These can all be a great way to learn something new, hone up your already well developed strokes, or simply to have fun while challenging yourself.

    Swimming can be a challenging and exciting workout and can certainly help vary things up a little if you’re getting tired of the same old gym routine.  Check out your local recreation centre or see if you gym has a pool included in your membership.

    Makes sure to maintain a healthy diet and supplement with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other sports nutrition.

  • Stress Reduction Techniques

    Stress is a very serious side effect of today’s busy lifestyles.  Stress has serious implications for you health and well being.  Scientists, researchers and health professionals are increasingly finding that chronic long term stress can play a very harmful role in one’s physical and psychological well being.

    Stress has been linked to a wide range of health problems, including everything from inflammatory bowel disorder, to arthritis, immune system malfunctions, adrenal fatigue and many, many other chronic and acute diseases.  Stress is also responsible for a variety of mental health problems, including depression and anxiety disorders.  As such, it is more important than ever that we reflect on how we are currently living in order to evaluate whether or not our health might be being negatively impacted by our stress levels.

    Stress reduction can take several forms, each of which might appeal to different people.  Whatever stress reduction works best for you and fits best into your current life is probably the one you should stick with.  It doesn’t really matter what it is that de-stresses you, so long as it can help you relax and enjoy yourself a little.

    A great way to relieve pent up stress and anxiety is exercise.  Exercising even as little as twenty to thirty minutes a day can be a terrific way to ease stress, worry and anxiety.  Getting out and getting active releases endorphins in your brain that can go a long way to actually countering the effects of stress.  So, hit the gym or go for a long walk or hike and get your body moving.

    Meditation is another great stress reduction technique.  For beginners, you may want to try a meditation centre or class in order to get the basics down.  But you don’t need to do this if you’d rather just take matters into your own hands.  Sit down with your legs crossed, or in another comfortable position (don’t lie down though as you may fall asleep), and begin to breath deeply.  Watching your breath as you inhale and exhale while letting the thoughts gently pass by is generally the advice given, however there are plenty of different techniques.  Find whichever one most appeals to you and go with it.

    Finally, doing something you enjoy is one of the best stress relievers around.  Because we are often so focused on accomplishing tasks or getting ahead on our to-do lists, we tend to forget to simply stop and smell the roses.  Joy is essential to our physical and mental well being, so if its simply playing with your child, going to a great movie, catching up with an old friend over a meal, or whatever it is, make sure to include time for joy in your life.

  • Best Drinks for your Health

    Much of the day we reach for our favourite drinks and often this includes those favourites that are not exactly the healthiest choice for our bodies.  Mounds of coffee and caffeinated tea can be terrific tasting and can help us get through that afternoon slump when we’re tired, but they can also have a negative effect on our immune function and general health.

    Because these caffeinated beverages dehydrate us, we tend to get into a vicious circle whereby we reach for more of the same dehydrating beverages to quench our thirst.  Instead what we need to do is to think about what drinks are going to help us in the long run.  Instead of a quick caffeine fix, think about adding in some of these drinks to your day for long term health.

    Water.  Well of course water is the best and most healthful drink you can drink.  We all need to drink at least 8 eight ounce glasses of water a day.  Few of us however manage even to get three glasses in each day.  Because so many other beverages like juice, pop and coffee and tea are available, water tends to get crowded out.  Yet there is simply nothing more thirst quenching and cleansing for the body than this humble drink.  So next time you find yourself reaching for a juice or coffee, think twice and fill up your stainless steel water bottle instead.

    Green tea.  Ok, so if you do need a little pick me up during the day and are already hydrating yourself well with water, then there is nothing wrong with adding a little green tea stimulant to your day.  Green tea is packed with antioxidants and has therefore been found to have cancer preventing effects.  More than this though, green tea is also a thermogenic beverage.  What this means is that drinking lots of green tea can help boost your metabolic function and increase the calories burned during the day.  This is certainly a terrific bang for your buck.

    Carrot juice.  Carrot juice can be made fresh or store bought (just be sure it is fresh).  Carrot juice is also loaded with vitamins and minerals, particularly beta carotene and can be a great way to get a juice fill without all the sugar found in fruit juices.

    Green drinks.  If you need something a little bit more filling and tasty, why not try one of the green drinks available on the market today.  These can even act as meal replacements assuming they have all the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients.  Choose a non-dairy, vegan kind from a reputable company for best results.  Mix with water or a little almond milk for a good protein boost.

    Opting for nutritious drinks is an important component of a healthy diet.  Instead of high calorie fruit juices or worse yet soda pops, try to keep your drinks as healthy as your meals in order to reduce the likelihood of filling up on empty calories.

  • Light Therapy for your Mood

    Light therapy is an increasingly popular choice for people suffering from certain mood disorders, specifically those caused by seasonal low light like SAD (seasonal affective disorder).  Light therapy is a very safe, and often effective, alternative to prescription medication for certain people.  Light therapy also referred to as phototherapy (or more traditionally as heliotherapy) is the use of lasers, lamps or full spectrum lights to help induce particular states of mind and body.

    Light therapy can be used for a variety of disorders, SAD and mood difficulties being just one variant.  According to proponents, different types of light therapy can also be effective for the treatment of acne, neonatal jaundice, delayed sleep phase syndrome and a variety of other disorders.  Light therapy has recently been suggested as potentially useful for pain management, hair growth, wound healing, and improved circulation.

    Light boxes or lamps designed to emit non-UV photo rays, can also help with a variety of insomnia like illnesses.  Light boxes are used to help regulate and/or manipulate melatonin levels in the body.  By sitting in front of one of these lamps or light boxes upon rising (or at your desired wake up time) you train your body to respond to the light and realize that this is daytime, making sleep cycles more regularly.  This is particularly effective for those living in climates where there is little or no daylight during the winter months.

    Light therapy is however particularly useful for the treatment of SAD.  According to clinical trials, it may also have a moderate affect on non seasonal depression.  This makes light therapy a promising possibility for use as opposed to, or even in conjunction with standard supplements or prescription therapies.

    Trying out a light therapy solution is a good way to go if you feel you might be suffering from a low grade depression, insomnia or a seasonal mood disorder.  It is generally side effect free, so long as you follow the instructions carefully and do not already have light sensitivities or macular degeneration in your eyes.  At the very least, it may shine just a little more light into these long winter days.

  • Stress and Chronic Disease

    For some time now, researchers have remarked on the correlation between high stress levels and susceptibility to disease.  A new study has found another aspect of this connection.

    According to a study published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, people who had high stress levels during a laboratory task and who reported emotions of anger and anxiety during said task, also had an increase in a circulating marker of inflammation known as interleukin-6.

    Interleukin-6 is a marker that suggests there is inflammation in the body.  Inflammation, of course, is one of the effects or causes of chronic illness.

    What this means is that for individuals who become stressed or anxious over relatively small matters may be at risk for increased inflammation.  Emotionally-reactive individuals, as the study called them, are therefore perhaps more prone to inflammatory diseases such as cardiovascular disease.

    It may not only be cardiovascular disease though that is affected by stress.  Many diseases have an inflammatory component.  Inflammation is associated with immune function as well and thus any wide range of diseases may be influenced by our emotional lives, especially our response to challenging situations.

    Inflammation is a problem for a lot of people, including those suffering from arthritis, and other chronic health problems.  Because this study has linked inflammatory responses in the body to stress and emotional reactivity, it is a good bet that lowering your levels of stress will have a significant impact on your overall health.

    Finding ways to nurture your emotional life and let go of stress and anxiety are key to the maintenance of good health.  Meditation, yoga or any other mindfulness practice is a terrific way to melt away the stress.  All exercise, in fact, has been shown to reduce and relive stress levels, so get out there and get those endorphins pumping.  Exercise and emotional relaxation will both go a long way to a healthier and happier you.

  • Building Lean Muscle Mass

    When it comes to looking and feeling good nothing beats toned, tight muscles.  Whether you’re a man or a woman, having long, lean muscles makes you look and feel great.  But ever wondered just what goes in to building these gorgeous limbs?  If you’re hoping to tone up and slim down keep reading for the best tips on building lean muscle mass.

    Diet.  Diet is of course one of the most important ingredients to muscle building and fat loss.  Because excess fat hides event the best abs or sleekest biceps, you will need to eat a healthy diet in order to burn fat.

    Building muscle also requires a good diet because muscle takes energy to build.  A diet with low saturated fats and low carbs is best when it comes to building a lean muscular physique.  Concentrate on eating high protein foods and lean meats such as chicken, fish and tofu.  Also eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies.  Vitamins and minerals are essential to building muscle.

    Supplements.  Bodybuilding supplements can be an important aspect of building muscle.  Protein powders, fat burners and the like can enable faster weight loss and boost energy levels.  Be sure to eat a healthy diet alongside these supplements, as they are usually not designed as meal replacements.

    A good multivitamin and mineral supplement is also important to building muscle.  Because we can’t always get all the nutrients we need in our diets, especially if we are restricting our caloric intake in order to lose weight, it can be important to make sure you are covering all your bases.  A multivitamin supplement can do the trick.

    Exercise.  Finally, in order to build muscle you need to exercise the given muscle two to three times per week.  Weights need to be used and you should build up your maximum weight.  Increase the weight every two weeks and continue to do so as you get stronger.  If you’re looking not to get too bulky and rather simply wish to tone up though you can always just up your reps without upping the weight too significantly.

    Building muscle is a great way to tone up and slim down all at once.  More muscle means you’ll burn more calories.  Plus feeling strong and fit is in itself a terrific feeling even aside from looking fabulous.

  • Mood Enhancing Supplements

    Getting down, especially during the darker months of the year, is a problem than affects millions of people across the globe.  If you feel yourself getting a little bit down, or simply a little less motivated and somewhat sluggish during the winter months, then you may be suffering from some sort of seasonal affective disorder.  Seasonal affective disorder, sometimes known as SAD, is a kind of depression that can hit people when they are not exposed to as much sunlight during the colder seasons.

    SAD is however just one kind of ailment that can affect a person’s mood.  Depression, anxiety and stress are all other symptoms of mood disorders.  Sometimes it can just be a rough patch or a particularly stressful time that can cause mood problems.  If you feel like you are suffering more than usual from some sort of stress, anxiety or depression, you may want to try a herbal or all natural supplement before hitting any kind of pharmaceutical solution.

    St. John’s Wort is a well known and effective mood elevator.  Used traditionally for depression, taking St. John’s Wort has been shown to significantly reduce the incidence and length of depressive episodes.  This is the case though only for those suffering from mild to moderate depression.  If you are having a more serious struggle than you should certainly consult your doctor or health care practitioner.

    GABA is another mood elevating supplement.  An amino acid that helps the neurotransmitters in the brain, GABA helps to reduce stress and nervous tension.  GABA is sometimes called the brain’s natural calming agent.  It is great for relaxation and can help promote sleep for those suffering from insomnia.

    5HTP is another supplement that can help to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.  It is a mood enhancer that is also a precursor to serotonin (the good feeling hormone).  5HTP can help to increase the nerve impulses between the synapses in the brain thereby improving mood and cognitive function.  It not only has these properties, but it has also been shown to increase the ability and ease of weight loss (a sure way to get you in better spirits).

    Instead of suffering through a bout of anxiety and depression or low energy levels until summer roles around, try out a few of these mood elevating substances and see if you can get yourself back into an upbeat sort of mood.  All natural herbal supplements are much safer than their pharmaceutical equivalents and can sometimes be all you need to start feeling better.

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