When it comes to getting in shape and improving your overall fitness, just finding the time and motivation to get yourself to the gym can be half the battle. Unfortunately, once you're at the gym there are several common mistakes that can derail even the most dedicated fitness fans during their workouts. Watch out for these 10 errors that can hinder your efforts.
1. Socializing too much
Having a buddy can be a great way to make sure you get to the gym regularly. However, working out with a friend can also be a distraction. It's fine to socialize, but try to make sure that your trips to the gym actually involve some focus on fitness!
2. Lifting weights that are too heavy
Don't head right for the heaviest dumbbells in the gym. Lifting weights that are too heavy for you can lead to muscle strains, so don't feel like you have to show off. In many cases, studies have shown that lighter weights – used effectively – can have just as much of an impact as heavy ones.
3. Lifting weights that are too light
On the other hand, lifting weights that aren't causing you to exert yourself at all won't help. Fitness experts suggest choosing a weight that you can lift 30 times during your first set, but can lift only 15 times during your second.
4. Not mixing up your routine
If you're getting on the treadmill regularly, that's great! But fitness experts recommend switching up your workout to promote full-body fitness, rather than focusing on just one area.
5. Exclusively using the machines
Sure, your gym may be full of fun equipment that you're eager to try. But many of these machines focus on one particular muscle group, meaning that your time could be better spent elsewhere. Lots of free weight exercises require that you use your whole body, so they can help you burn more calories and strengthen more muscles in less time.
6. Ignoring your core
According to experts, the body's core is where all human movement originates. Therefore, a strong core can help you get fit much faster. It's a great idea to use ab machines and do sit-ups, but it can also be beneficial to keep your core strengthened during other workouts, like the bench press and leg press.
7. Not understanding the equipment
If you're new to the gym and have questions about a certain machine, just ask! Using a piece of equipment incorrectly is ineffective and won't help you get in shape any faster, and you want to ensure that you get the most out of every minute of your workout.
8. Inconsistent workout schedule
This is a common and easily-avoided mistake. Instead of going to the gym four days in a row and then skipping your workouts for the next two weeks, try to hit the gym with relative consistency. This helps you get into a routine and can promote a speedy metabolism.
9. Setting unrealistic expectations
Improving your fitness is all about hard work and perseverance. While it's common to yearn for instant results, it's important to remember that healthy living is an ongoing process. Don't stop hitting the gym because you didn't drop 10 pounds in one week – continue working hard and you'll start to see results!
10. Not changing your diet
Even if you're going to the gym regularly and avoiding these common workout mistakes, exercise alone often isn't enough to help you lose weight. If you've been sticking to your routine like a pro, you can consider adding a weight loss supplement or trying a protein meal replacement to kick your metabolism into gear and help you get the body you want.
Many people in today's fast-paced world don't have enough time to plan out their meals, and their efforts to find foods that are quick and easy often mean that they end up eating something fried and greasy. Luckily, there are many delicious "superfoods" that can aid in weight loss while helping you stay healthy. Many of these foods take little (or no) time to prepare, so they're perfect for healthy eaters on the go.
Many people are surprised to learn that avocados are healthy because they're so high in fat. Luckily, it's the good kind of fat – monosaturated fat – which can actually help your body maintain lean muscle tissue.
2. Soups with broth
While a heavy chowder or bisque won't help you shed pounds, a light, broth-based soup can be a great weight loss food. They're low in calories and high in vegetable nutrients, keeping you healthy and fit while getting your body the vitamins it needs.
Blueberries are a low-calorie, antioxidant-rich snack that's delicious to boot. Plus, they're bite sized, which makes them great for travel or as a part of your lunch at the office.
Like blueberries, apples are a great superfood because they're so compact – you can throw one in your backpack, gym bag or briefcase without worrying about Tupperware or plastic bags! They're low in calories and packed with fiber, and they may even help to prevent the buildup of belly fat.
5. Hot peppers
Not for the faint of heart, hot peppers – especially chili peppers - contain compounds called capsaicinoids that give them their fiery flavor. But in addition to their spicy taste, capsaicinoids have anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy effects. If you can take the heat, give chili peppers a try.
That instant stuff won't do you too much good as it's chock full of sugar and calories, but old-fashioned, steel-cut oats are rich in nutrients and fiber that can help you lose weight.
7. Protein shakes
If you're looking for a tasty meal that's also easy to make, try a shake! Packed with protein that can keep you lean and fill you up, a protein meal replacement can be a tasty choice for breakfast or on your way to the gym.
Eating salmon is a great way to improve your heart health. The fish is full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are one of the good fats that can lower cholesterol. Omega-3's are missing from many people's diets, and eating salmon can be a great way to fix that.
9. Nuts and seeds
Getting a little hungry between meals? Reach for some nuts or seeds. Raw, unsalted nuts are a healthy snack that can also be extremely satisfying and filling. You can also add a tablespoon of chopped nuts to many meals – a salad, for example – for a flavorful treat that's full of protein.
10. Green tea
It's always pleasant to unwind with a mug of tea, and green tea is well known for its antioxidant and anti-aging properties. But that's not all it has to offer – this particular type of tea contains catechins, which can boost metabolism and help you lose weight.
Whether you live in a city, in the mountains, at the beach or in a suburban neighborhood, biking can be a great way to get from place to place. In addition to being an environmentally friendly and cost-effective way to get around, biking has numerous health benefits that can keep you fit while you're having fun. Here are ten reasons to grab life by the handlebars and take advantage of all your bicycle has to offer.
1. It's good for your heart
Because it gets your heart pumping and helps regulate breathing, bicycling can be good for cardiovascular health. Frequent biking can also help improve stamina and endurance.
2. Weight loss
Biking is a great way to burn calories and keep weight down, but it can also lead to a faster metabolism, meaning that you can stay fit even after your ride is over.
3. Benefits the immune system
Studies have shown that riding your bike can actually help strengthen your immune system, which may help keep you healthy year-round.
4. It's easy on joints
Unlike high-impact physical activities like running, biking gets you moving without putting too much stress on your joints. Knees, ankles and feet can all benefit from a low impact fitness routine like cycling, which makes it an especially great exercise for those who may want to stay active while recovering from an injury.
5. Strengthens and tones muscles
Because cycling primarily uses your largest muscle group – the legs – many cyclists see improved muscle tone in their thighs, calves and hips. And, because it's a low-impact activity, you'll build muscle gradually without risking a muscle strain or tear.
6. Improves coordination
It's a fairly common misconception that biking is a workout that only helps your legs, but it's actually a full-body workout! Bikers pedal with their legs, steer with their arms and keep their heads on a swivel to look for cars and pedestrians. This can lead to improved arm-to-leg, feet-to-hands and body-to-eye coordination.
7. Reduces stress
According to some psychotherapists, biking can actually be extremely effective in reducing stress. In fact, more general practitioners are actually recommending that their patients try biking when they feel overwhelmed.
8. Improves mental health
In addition to lessening stress, biking can improve general mental health. Neurologists have found that a spike in endorphins occurs after bike rides, leading cyclists to experience a "biker's high," similar to what joggers feel after a run.
9. Corrects posture
Many of the muscles you use on a bike ride are the same ones that can help improve posture. Cyclists need strong abdominal muscles to pedal without wobbling, and the back is a contributor to bike fitness as well, especially on longer rides.
10. You'll sleep better
Many cyclists know how well a good bike ride can wear you out, and it's true – biking can help you fall and stay asleep each night. Scientists have found that outdoor exercise like cycling helps helps regulate your circadian rhythm, which can in turn improve and regulate sleeping patterns. In addition, because stress hormones like cortisol can prevent deep sleep, cycling's stress-relieving ability means you'll snooze more soundly, too.
Maintaining a healthy heart throughout your life is essential for keeping a healthy body and improving factors like flexibility, endurance and strength. While eating a balanced diet is a key part of keeping a healthy heart, exercise is the other vital component. Here are some exercises that are going to benefit your ticker:
Finding your Zen could mean improved heart health. Yoga has been shown to decrease stress, which helps to lower blood pressure and put less impact on the heart. It also increases lung capacity, improves respiratory function, heart rate and immune health, and boosts circulation and muscle tone.
This aquatic activity is not only great for the joints, it works wonders for the heart as well. Due to the resistance from moving in the water, your muscles have to work harder to move, helping to improve your muscle strength and tone. Swimming works the heart and lungs and trains the body to use oxygen more efficiently, which often results in a decline of the resting heart rate.
If running is too hard on your joints, walking at a particularly brisk pace is great for improving your fitness and helping your heart to stay healthy. In fact, a brisk walk wards off poor heart health just as much as running does.
Interval training includes combining high intensity exercise with a normal speed and switching off between the two. If you're walking, you might walk at a faster pace for about a minute, then go back down to your normal speed for three minutes, then repeat the process. By doing so, your heart has to work harder to continuously lower and raise your heart rate. This burns calories, improves cardiovascular function and essentially makes the body better at getting fat and sugar out of the blood. You can do the same with strength training exercises by doing more reps or moving to a higher weight.
In the many diets that we read about and see on television these days, it's quite the difficult task to decipher which diet actually works and which is better left ignored. Well, there's good news for vegans, vegetarians and anyone who loves to munch on fruits and veggies for the immune system health, antioxidants and all the other benefits that they bring. The Mediterranean diet – a generic term applied to the culinary lifestyles of people from the Mediterranean region – has been shown to help those who are at risk for poor heart health.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
This diet consists of traditional food and drink from the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. It's more than just a diet, however. It's more of a lifestyle that includes foods, activities, meals with friends and family, and wine in moderation. There has even been a Mediterranean Diet Pyramid developed by scientists from Mediterranean countries, the Harvard School of Public Health and Oldways Health Through Heritage.
This diet consists of fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts, healthy grains, fish, olive oil, small amounts of meat and dairy, and red wine. Other elements to the diet include daily exercise, sharing meals with others and developing a deep understanding and appreciation for the pleasures of eating healthy.
Here are just a few examples of the things you can enjoy while on this diet:
Vegetables and tubers: Artichokes, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, kale, lemons, spinach, sweet potatoes and zucchini.
Fruits: Avocados, apples, cherries, pears, pomegranates, strawberries, tangerines, grapes, oranges and tomatoes.
Grains: Breads, oats, rice, polenta, buckwheat, barley, couscous and wheatberries.
Fish and seafood: Cockles, clams, crab, eel, flounder, lobster, tuna, sardines, shrimp, salmon and mussels.
Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt: Chicken, duck, quail, ricotta, brie, chevre, feta and Greek yogurt.
Nuts, seeds and legumes: Almonds, beans (chickpeas, fava, kidney, green), hazelnuts, pistachios, sesame seeds, split peas, walnuts.
Herbs and spices: Basil, bay leaf, clove, chiles, fennel, lavender, tarragon, thyme, sage and sumac.
Meats and sweets: Pork, beef, lamb, goat, button, baklava, biscotti, creme caramel, chocolate, and gelato.
Water and wine: Plenty of water and wine in moderation with your meals
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, individuals who stuck to a Mediterranean Diet had greater heart health than those who adhered to a low-fat diet. Study lead author, Dr. Miguel Angel Martinez-Gonzalez, said that this diet seemed to boost heart health due to the combination of good-quality fats – both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Vegetable oils and olive oils and a wide range of other nutrients can be credited for a healthy heart.
When you're not snacking on fruits and vegetables, including a dietary supplement in your diet may be a good idea to keep your ticker healthy. Heart health supplements help maintain blood pressure levels that are within the normal range. A normal blood pressure consists of a systolic reading that is less than 120 and a diastolic reading that is less than 80. This dietary supplement should be used in conjunction with exercise and a healthy diet to promote a healthy heart.
Foods containing soy have a lot to brag about: Soy has no cholesterol, protects against poor heart health and tastes delicious. It may even show promise for boosting mental health and promoting healthy bones – it's no wonder so many parents are jumping on the soy bandwagon and incorporating these healthy soyfoods into their child's diet. The American Heart Association even supports soyfoods as part of a heart-healthy diet.
The benefits of soy for children
Soy contains many essential nutrients that are vital for growth and development. It also is a great source of protein and can be substituted for meat, dairy or vegetables. Products containing soy tend to be lower in both fat and calories when compared to those meat or dairy foods. Therefore, soy is extremely helpful in maintaining a healthy weight. Soy products are also lactose-free, allowing children who can't have dairy products to enjoy a glass of soy milk. Those with nut allergies can also enjoy a soy nut butter and jelly sandwich or snack on roasted soy nuts. Soy is also a quick fix for children who have wheat allergies.
Children should be eating 2 to 3 cups per day of milk or milk equivalent, about 5 ounces or protein per day and approximately 2 ½ cups of vegetables. With soyfoods, reaching these equivalents is super simple. There are so many soy products out there, giving even the pickiest of eaters a few options. From soy dairy-free frozen desserts and soy pasta to soy chips and soy nut butter, there is plenty to choose from! Here are a few ways to help your children enjoy soyfoods and all of the benefits that come along with them:
- Whip up a protein-rich fruit smoothie for your little one using a protein powder like Naturade Total Soy. Make sure to add in all of their favorite fruits and cool crushed ice to amp up the natural sweetness and keep them coming back for more!
- Opt for meatless pizza and use soy versions of pepperoni, sausage crumbles, deli ham or bacon as healthy and tasty alternatives.
- Make some homemade trail mix using honey-roasted and chocolate-covered soy nuts, whole-grain cereal, raisins and dried fruit.
- For a morning meal that will leave kids satisfied, spread some soy nut butter on whole wheat toast for a perfect alternative to peanut butter.
- Chocolate soy milk works for a refreshing and sweet drink.
- Pack soy yogurt in their lunch for a creamy treat packed with lots of calcium.
- Cut up their favorite veggies to dip in hummus made from soybeans – this also makes a tasty sandwich spread.
- Add soybeans to your family garden to teach your children about new foods and the benefits of soy. They can be planted alongside potatoes, cucumbers, corn, strawberries and celery.
- Use soy milk in their favorite cereal for a super simple way to up their soy intake
- Have veggie burgers for dinner – they're tasty and lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than regular hamburgers
Your office puts out a birthday cake for a co-worker's birthday and you begin the battle with yourself to resist the sweet treat. Sure, it's delicious and homemade, but all those calories won't be good for the figure or for your health. But what if we told you that indulging cookies and cake may actually be better for you than you thought? Get ready for the best news you'll hear all day:
According to a new study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, having a cookie or a piece of cake could lower your chances for poor heart health. Researchers at the German Institute of Human Nutrition studied more than 20,000 participants' total food intake. Of course, they discovered much of what we already know – consuming whole grains and eating more fruits and veggies promoted a healthy heart. However, research also showed that there was less of an association between dessert and disease prevention.
However, this research doesn't mean that overindulging in slices of cake and copious amounts of cookies is okay. These sweet treats can be made part of a healthy diet when eaten in moderation. The American Heart Association recommended that women get no more than six teaspoons of sugar per day. For men, it should be no more than nine teaspoons per day. However, many Americans often overindulge, getting closer to 22 teaspoons or 355 calories per day.
Luckily, there are a few desserts out there that don't have loads of sugar and calories. Protein powders make a great addition to any dessert. A few scoops of Naturade 100% Soy can give you the protein you need to promote healthy muscle growth. Here are a few dessert recipes from Health.com that you can try out right at home without having to feel guilty about indulging!
Calories per serving: 113
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon sweetener
¼ teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
1 cup orange juice
1 ½ cups sliced strawberries
6 spongecake dessert shells
Combine the sweetener and cornstarch. Stir in the orange juice and bring to a boil. Stir constantly for one minute. Remove from heat and stir in extract. Let it cool completely before moving on to the next step. Combine orange juice mixture and strawberries and chill for 30 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the dessert shells to complete this guilt-free dessert.
Vanilla Lemon Berry Parfait
Calories per serving: 176
2 containers fat-free vanilla pudding
2 tablespoons bottled lemon curd
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 teaspoons honey
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 cups mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries)
Fresh mint leaves
Whisk together the lemon curd, vanilla extract and yogurt. In a separate bowl, stir lemon zest, lemon juice and honey together and mix well. Add in the berries and stir to coat the fruit in the honey mixture. Scoop three tablespoons of the yogurt mixture into four separate glasses and top with ¼ cup of the berries and another 3 tablespoons of yogurt. Next, add another layer of berries. Garnish with the fresh mint leaves if desired.
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in bodily function. It helps to promote strong bones and regulates the immune system. There are two types of vitamin D: D2 and D3. Research suggests that the latter may be better at raising levels of vitamin D in the blood. Studies show that getting a proper amount of vitamin D may help to promote healthy blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, approximately two out of three U.S. adults have blood pressure within the normal and the slightly elevated ranges.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, individuals with low levels of vitamin D seem to have a higher risk of developing poor blood pressure health than those with higher levels of vitamin D.
During the winter months, it can be hard to soak in vitamin D from the sun, due to the amount of time spent indoors. However, there are a few ways to get a healthy amount of vitamin D in your diet, even if you're stuck inside.
A dietary supplement
Naturade BP Health may help maintain blood pressure levels that are within the normal range. Normal blood pressure is characterized as having a systolic reading that is less than 120 and a diastolic reading that is less than 80. With this supplement, you will be getting a healthy dose of vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol.
Vitamin D-rich foods
There are plenty of foods that contain a healthy amount of vitamin D. Here are a few delicious options to choose from:
Fatty fish: Specific types of fish, like salmon, mackerel, light canned tuna, herring and sardines, contain about 165 to 445 IUs of vitamin D. Keep in mind that canned fish in oil contains more vitamin D than canned fish in water. When it comes to salmon, there are plenty of tasty ways to cook it, whether you sear, grill, broil or bake it.
Eggs: Before you turn away the yolk of the egg for just the egg white, think again. One egg yolk has about 20 IU, which is about 6 percent of your daily value of Vitamin D. Whip up some scrambled eggs in the morning or hard boil them and stick them on your sandwich or in a salad.
Swiss cheese: This dairy treat may be filled with holes, but it is also filled with about 12 IU of vitamin D, which is 4 percent of your daily value. This type of cheese also contains less sodium than a highly processed variety like American.
According to the American Heart Association, individuals must adhere to these seven factors in order to keep a healthy heart: be physically active, maintain a healthy weight, eat a healthy diet, have healthy cholesterol levels, keep a healthy blood pressure, regulate blood sugar levels and steer clear of smoking. Adhering to these factors may help you to maintain better overall health and keep your heart in good shape.
Take care of your teeth
Many don't immediately associate clean teeth with a healthy heart. However, there may be a link between heart health and less than optimal tooth health. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, one out of every two adults aged 30 and over has poor tooth health, which is associated with decreased cardiovascular health. To keep clean teeth and gums, floss and brush regularly and make sure that you're scheduling dentist appointments at least twice a year for regular check-ups.
Enjoy dark chocolate in moderation
Snacking on this sweet treat may actually have cardiovascular benefits. One square of dark chocolate a day may be good for your blood pressure and promote a healthy heart. Just be sure to indulge in moderation and stick to chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao.
Manage your stress
Stress is often unavoidable in everyday life, but it can be managed. Find an activity that relaxes you, whether it's taking a hot shower, being with family and friends, or watching TV. Stress can also lead to unhealthy behaviors like drinking, smoking and overeating, all of which have a negative impact on the heart.
Catch enough z's
Getting an adequate amount of sleep can have positive effects on your health. Lack of sleep raises levels of a hormone called cortisol, which can lead to inflammation and causes plaques to break apart and travel to the heart. Getting enough sleep may also help to lower cholesterol by lowering LDL levels. For a better night's sleep, try limiting your food and beverage intake before bed. When you eat, your metabolism increases slightly, which can increase your energy levels and make it a bit harder to fall asleep. It may also help to create an environment that prepares you for sleep. Elements like relaxing music, soft lighting and comfortable bedding may make all the difference.
Exercise produces a wide array of health benefits, with a stronger heart being just one of them. Try to incorporate at least thirty minutes of exercise into your daily routine. Finding something that is enjoyable to you will make make physical activity more pleasant, so stick to exercises that you enjoy.
It's a known fact that poor heart health is the number one cause of death in the U.S. due to things like unhealthy diet, sedentary culture and weight gain. However, there are ways to help reverse the effects of damage to the heart and steps you can take to become healthier. Many find making extreme lifestyle changes to be a difficult place to begin. Instead, try starting out with small steps that will get you on the right track to a healthier heart.
Take a daily walk
If you've gotten out of the habit of exercising because of your hectic schedule, get back into the swing of things by simply taking a walk around the block. As this becomes easier, try pumping up your workout a bit more by walking longer distances or even running for short periods of time. You could even opt to add some weights into the mix to tone your arms and legs for an effective workout. The more cardiovascular strength you acquire, the better off your heart will be.
The more plaque that builds up in the heart, the higher your cholesterol will be. You may be able to control these levels by starting your morning off with a healthy meal replacement shake. They are super delicious, easy to make, fill you up and even work to lower your cholesterol. Try a Total Soy meal replacement, which contains health-healthy soy and delicious flavors. The Food & Drug Administration declared that soy protein may reduce the risk of heart disease. This may also reduce cholesterol and promote weight loss – plus, it's packed with vitamins, protein and fiber. You can opt for delicious flavors like chocolate, strawberry and vanilla!
The vitamin D in soy protein has been shown in studies to be beneficial to the heart. According to Prevention magazine, up to 53 percent of people do not get enough of this vitamin in their diet or through direct sunlight. Meal replacement shakes provide an easy and tasty way to fit this nutrient into a balanced diet.
Get some shut eye
One of the best habits you can get into is getting enough sleep at night. However, this is often easier said than done. But when you see how it's benefiting your heart, you may work a little harder to get to bed earlier.
"Lack of sleep can alter your metabolism, making you prone to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease," explained health expert Dr. Arthur Agatston, creator of the South Beach Diet.
Get on a schedule in which you head to bed at a normal hour every night, allowing you to get a proper amount of sleep. Avoid eating big meals before bed, as this can make it difficult for your body to wind down and get into sleep mode.
Cut out sugary beverages
If your go-to drink is soda or sugary juice, you may be consuming more calories than you realize. But don't worry, you don't have to completely remove these items from your diet. According to Harvard Health Publications, even cutting out just one single sugary soda or latte can save you on average 100 calories per day. This adds up to about a 10 pound weight loss in a year.