There are lots of ways to find happiness: hanging out with friends, chowing down on your favorite meal or maybe sitting down and watching your favorite comedy. But there is one activity that is significantly underrated when it comes to lifting your mood: exercise. You may not be laughing, but going for a run or going to yoga class can really make a difference in your attitude, not to mention promotes anti-aging and a healthy immune system.
When you start to break a sweat, exercise releases feel-good endorphins into your body. Endorphins are chemicals that have the ability to cross through the gaps between neurons in order to pass along a message. There are many different kinds of endorphins, but one thing is for certain: they make you feel good. Michael Bracko, an exercise physiologist and spokesperson for the American College of Sports Medicine, told MSNBC that just one 30-minute session of moderate to intense exercise can help ease distress, depression, tension and anger. Other chemicals that contribute to the boost in mood include serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.
What many don't realize is that there are certain workouts that alter different parts of their mood. Some can make your brain feel shaper, while others relax you or make you happier. Try one of these mood-boosting workouts next time you hit the gym:
Grab a mat and some comfy clothes and get ready to find your center. Yoga can help you to feel more content. The deep, slow breathing involved in the practice of yoga increases oxygen flow, which leads to optimal functioning of all your organs, including your brain. According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, yoga is associated with increased levels of GABA, an amino acid and neurotransmitter that may help to reduce anxiety.
If you're looking for an increase in your energy levels, hop on a spin bike. You may immediately associate exercise with feeling tired and drained of energy afterwards, but that's not the case. Many gyms offer spin classes so you can give it a try if you're new. Cycling may activate brain neural circuits which make a person have more energy.
If your brain is feeling a little clouded, you may find clarity when you pick up a pair of dumbbells. It may be great for toning your biceps, but it's also perfect for your mental muscles. Researchers suspect the mental clarity may be due to neurotrophic growth factors. These growth factors help the brain generate new neurons even later in life, and help to increase the flexibility of existing ones.
For those who have trouble sleeping at night, Pilates may be the answer. Those who report having sleeping issues also reveal that they have a difficult time relaxing, de-stressing and winding down from a tough day. One fix is Pilates – it has been linked with better sleep at night. The theory is when you're more in tune with your body, you're better able to let go of that stress you're holding onto and feel more relaxed when you crawl into bed at night.
If you're trying to shed the pounds, you're likely sticking to a diet of whole grains, fruits and veggies. Of course, there is going to be the occasional moment when you choose to indulge, which is totally okay. But if you really want to stay slim and keep that glowing and youthful complexion, there are some foods that you should steer clear of.
There's nothing better than a little cake topped with a lot of frosting, but next time you whip up a tiered confection, make sure your frosting is made from scratch. Not only is it more delicious that way, but the store-bought frosting is packed with trans fats, which are your waistline's worst enemy. Trans fat raises your levels of bad cholesterol and lowers the good, and can lead to belly fat. Plus, the more sugar you consume, the more prone your skin may be to maladies like acne and premature wrinkles.
This popular morning meal smeared with cream cheese is a top choice among many. Although it may fill you up and satisfy your taste buds, you may want to pick a new breakfast item. Just one bagel provides between three and six servings of grains, which is some peoples' carbohydrate allotment for the entire day. You may grab a whole wheat bagel and think you're making a healthy choice, but even the whole wheat bagels are usually only partly whole wheat, which means you're getting refined flour with no fiber or nutrients.
We've known for years that soda isn't good for us because of the large amounts of sugar it contains. But some forget about other drinks that are disguised as healthy alternatives to soda, but pack just as much sugar, like sweetened teas or juices. Those empty calories camp out right on your waistline and although they lower cholesterol, they're lowering the good cholesterol levels and increasing triglycerides, which contribute to poor heart health.
This is a hyper-refined carbohydrate that lacks significant amounts of vitamins and minerals. What they do contain, however, is lots of butter and heavy cream, making them a worst enemy both to your waistline and to your heart.
Processed baked goods like donuts and mini muffins are great for a quick and tasty breakfast if you need to run out the door, but they have tons and tons of calories as well as unwanted sugar, making them hard to digest. Because they have preservatives, they can sit on the shelf for a long period of time without breaking down. The amount of sugar in these pastries can cause inflammation of the skin. As hard as it may be, skip the donut and go with fresh fruit or yogurt when you're looking for your morning breakfast fix.
You know the cereals I'm talking about – all of the ones you used to enjoy as a kid (and probably still enjoy as an adult) could be contributing to weight problems and poor skin. Frosted Flakes and Cap'n Crunch can wreak havoc on those with sensitive skin, causing them to break out and even see an uneven skin tone. Try low sugar options and if you need a little sweetness, try adding fruit like strawberries, bananas or raspberries.
There's a lot of things we should probably stay away from, like consuming excessive amounts of bacon, getting too much sun and having that fifth slice of deep dish pizza. But there is one thing we should be straying from that not many know about: GMOs.
What is a GMO?
A GMO is known as a genetically modified organism. GMOs have been genetically engineered with DNA derived from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. In other words, these combinations of genes don't occur in nature. They are specially built to withstand direct application of herbicides and insecticides. But why should we stay away from them? GMOs have been linked with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers' and consumers' rights. In fact, most developed nations have outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. But in the United States, the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that produce them purely for profit.
How can you tell what foods include GMOs?
Unfortunately, there is no regulated food label that indicates whether or not a particular product contains GMOs. Therefore, it's a guessing game when it comes to what you're purchasing. The first genetically modified crops included soybeans, cotton and corn, which were produced to control the growth of insects and weeds. The majority of processed foods – yes, even those veggie burgers – are made with soy, corn and/or corn oil, and often contain GMOs. Next time you hit the grocery store, look to see if the product you're buying has the USDA Certified Organic seal – according to USD regulations, GMOs are prohibited in organic agriculture production.
The impact of GMOs on the environment
Not only are GMOs unhealthy to consume, they're not great for the environment either. In fact, since GMOs have grown worldwide, the use of toxic herbicides like Roundup has increased 15-fold. Super bugs and super weeds are also a result of GMOs which can only be killed with extremely potent toxic poisons. The long term effects of GMOs are still not yet known. Farmers are also impacted – some are being sued by companies that make GMOs because the toxic substances have inevitably drifted onto their farmland from neighboring fields.
Here are a list of just some foods that have been verified to not include GMOs:
- Blue Diamond Almond Milk
- Silk Soymilk
- Simply Soy blueberry and strawberry yogurt
- Annie's Gluten-Free Cocoa & Vanilla Bunny Cookies
- A number of Kashi cereals – but research this company's products extensively, as some do contain GMOs
- Organic raisins
- Peggy's Premium edamame
- Nature Fed Brown and white shell egg
If you're looking to lose weight or get healthier, dietary fiber is certainly one way to get there. Commonly referred to as roughage, dietary fiber is considered an indigestible carbohydrate. While that doesn't seem like it would be good for the body, it certainly is.
There are essentially two types of dietary fiber. The first is insoluble fiber. This type is needed to clean out the colon and regulate bowel movements. It absorbs water and gives you the feeling of being full. Insoluble fiber also works its way through your digestive system to remove waste, toxins and materials that your body doesn't need. The other is soluble fiber, which comes from foods like brown rice, fruit, some vegetables, bran and oats. This fiber mixes with water and digestive enzymes created by the liver to make a gel that reduces the body's absorption of harmful substances.
There are many health benefits that come along with incorporating both type of fiber into your daily diet. Here are a few:
Lower cholesterol: Don't skip your breakfast of oatmeal. Soluble fiber is found in oat bran, which may help to lower your bad cholesterol levels. Top your morning bowl of oatmeal with fruit for added flavor and antioxidants.
Improves digestive health: A diet that is high in fiber helps to promote digestive health by getting rid of unwanted substances.
Boosts heart health: Fiber may significantly reduce an individual's risk for poor heart health.
Better skin: Certain types of fiber get rid of toxins that would otherwise be excreted through your skin and cause unwanted blemishes.
Getting fiber into your diet is easy with the right foods. Here are some food items to incorporate into your diet for improved health:
This includes food like corn, rice, oats and wheat. Bran is very high in fiber and is a great source of both magnesium and vitamin B6. Getting more bran into your diet is as simple as switching to whole wheat bread, having a bowl of oatmeal at breakfast or opting for a bit of brown rice with dinner. Whole wheat pasta is also a very easy switch to make in your diet for more fiber. It's the really small changes that often make the biggest difference.
That's right, chocolate can be good for you – but in moderation, of course. Cocoa powder provides about 33.2 grams of fiber per 100-gram serving.
Whether they're white, black, kidney or garbanzo beans, you'll be getting an ample amount of fiber when you eat them. Not only are they rich in fiber, they're also packed with protein, iron and potassium.
This creamy green food has about 2 grams of fiber in just a two-tablespoon serving. If you want to chow down on the whole thing, you'll be getting about 10 grams. They're also filled with good, mono and polyunsaturated fats, which can help lower cholesterol and decrease your risk for poor heart health.
Don't cut the skin off of this fresh and delicious fruit. Pears with the skin left on are among the most nutritious and fiber-rich fruits. Eat a pear plain or mix one into a salad for a sweet burst of flavor.
While certain foods are packed with the essential vitamins and minerals you need for a healthy body, you often need more of those nutrients than food can offer. This is where supplements come in. These healthy additions to your diet can provide you with the proper dosage of vitamins and minerals that your body needs. But when it comes to women and men, there are certain nutrients that men may need more of than women. Here are some of the most important vitamins and supplements that men should be taking:
You can get this vitamin from soaking up the sun, but if you're not outside much, you need to find another way to get vitamin D into your diet. According to Discovery Health, 61 percent of the population doesn't get enough vitamin D. Aside from being available in a supplement, vitamin D can be found in foods like fatty fish, fortified cereals, oysters, eggs and mushrooms. This vitamin is essential for the proper absorption of calcium, bone development, control of cell growth and proper immune system health.
By consuming herbs, dark leafy greens, spring onions and Brussels sprouts, you'll be getting a healthy dose of vitamin K. But if you're not a big vegetable lover, you can also get this essential vitamin via supplement. Vitamin K works to rebuild bones and protecting against bone fractures. It's also great for protein modification and blood clotting.
Chromium is a trace mineral that helps with burning carbohydrates and fat. It also assists in providing blood sugar to cells and may curb cravings if you're prone to a sweet tooth every now and again. Taking chromium may lower insulin levels to maintain optimum health. It's advised to take at least 35 micrograms a day.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish like salmon and tuna. These fatty acids reduce fats in the body called triglycerides, which are associated with poor heart health. Taking fish oil supplements may help to lower blood pressure and assist in maintaining a healthy heart. Other foods with a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids include avocados, edamame, wild rice, walnuts, canola oil, flax and beans.
Don't forget to drink your orange juice – this vitamin boasts a whole lot of health benefits. It's most commonly used to prevent and treat the common cold, but it's also great for men who work out regularly because it aids in bone strength. Its antioxidant properties also help to maintain optimal health. You can find this popular vitamin in supplement form as well as bell peppers, guavas, kiwi, dark leafy greens, oranges, clementines and strawberries, making it an easy vitamin to incorporate into any diet.
This less commonly known vitamin works to produce normal activity in the nerves. It also helps make DNA in your body, enables you to grow and develop naturally and even maintains your energy levels if you're feeling particularly sluggish. You can find vitamin B12 in clams, oysters, mussels, fish, crab, lobster, beef, lamb, cheese and eggs.
Hello Everyone, I’m Team Naturade athlete Dustin Hinton and I just wanted to introduce myself and share a quick smoothie recipe with you.
Less than 2 years ago I was a 5’7′, 220lbs. single dad, with a serious gut, I couldn’t swim one lap, I didn’t own a bike, and a 1-2 mile run would be a sheer terror for me to complete. After losing a family member to cancer, very quickly, I decided to make a big change. I’m pretty much an all or nothing kind of guy so I immediately picked a huge goal.
My goal was to complete the Ironman Louisville 140.6 mile triathlon in front of my hometown, my family, and my friends, and more importantly, my 4 year old son Boston would be at the finish line. In my mind I had this one idea, If I can complete the Ironman I would have to get into shape.
What is Ironman?
It’s a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a full 26.2 marathon with a 17 hour cut off. So just get to the Ironman, the right way, by eating clean, training hard and smart, and being honest with myself. But my goal had another twist, I wanted to do this plus complete every other race distance in within ONE year… I wanted to go Couch to Ironman in one year… Everyone thought I was a nut…
During the process I became Vegan, started eating super clean, joined a local running group, cycling group, taught myself how to swim from YouTube videos, I completed 5k’s, 10k’s, Olympic Triathlons, Half Marathons, Full Marathons, 70.3 Half Ironman Triathlons, Century Rides, and by the time I was in the car driving to home for Ironman Louisville I had lost 58lbs. On August 26th, 2012, I jumped in the water at Ironman Louisville at 7am and 140.6 miles later I was holding my son at the finish line as an Ironman. A dream come true.
It doesn’t end there. I have been training hard, learning, getting faster, physically stronger, and mentally stronger. I am about to take on Ironman Mont-Tremblant 140.6 mile triathlon (The Ironman North American Championships) in Quebec Canada on August 18th. I also Qualified for the Hy-Vee U.S. Olympic Distance Championships on Sept 1, 2013. As a Naturade Athlete I want to show you how to train smart, hard, stay healthy, eat clean, and consistently live an active healthy lifestyle. I look forward to writing some fun articles, giving you my favorite recipes, and connecting and reaching out to anyone who needs a little advice or maybe just a little pep talk.
I’m Dustin, and this is my son Boston… First, I’m a dad before anything else, after that I’m a 31 year old vegan expatriate Hoosier living right outside of New Orleans, LA.
On June 12th, 2011 I had a bit of a wake up call and began my road to the ironman 140.6 mile endurance event and after that I’ve got some big plans, so it won’t end there… This is my outlet to vent, rant, promote, and let everyone know what’s up.
In order to reach your goal weight, whether that's bulking up or shedding a few pounds, it's a combination of eating right and exercise that will get you there. But there's one thing that you need to keep an eye on in order to reach your goals, and that's calories.
What is a calorie?
A calorie is a unit of heat energy. It's what fuels our bodies – much like gasoline fuels a car. But you don't want to put in too much or too little, otherwise your car won't run properly. Different foods have different amounts of calories, which can come from three things: fat, carbohydrate and protein. Fat is what has the highest amount of calories – 9 calories per gram of pure fat. Carbohydrates and protein are a little less, with four calories per gram. This is why in order to lose weight, many ditch the fatty foods and reach for protein-packed meals instead.
How many calories do I need to lose weight?
There is no set magic number of calories a person needs to expend in order to lose weight. It depends on a number of factors, including activity level, body type, age, height, weight and gender. For example, an active person burns more calories, and therefore needs to consume more to stay healthy. If you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you're consuming. When your calories out is higher than your calories in, you will be at a caloric deficit, meaning body fat, muscle tissue or both will be burned. One pound is equal to 3,500 calories. So if your goal is one pound per week, you would need to cut out about 500 calories per day.
To gain weight?
Not everyone is looking to lose a few pounds; many are trying to do the exact opposite, whether it's to build more muscle or put on some weight after a surgery. Either way, it's all about consuming calories – and not calories from greasy fast food. Look for foods with lots of protein, like a healthy shake. Whip up a tasty shake using protein powder post-workout to help you bulk up in no time. Naturade Weight Gain is perfect for amplifying your caloric intake. But exactly how many calories do you need? You need to eat more calories than your body burns in order to create new muscle tissue. You must be above your calorie maintenance level, which is where your body is at when you consume and burn the same number of calories – if you do this, your weight will stay the same. But if you want to see the number on the scale increase, you want to be above the maintenance level, otherwise known as a caloric surplus.
Whatever your goals are, if you wish to reach your desired weight, keeping a calorie journal is a great way to do it. It will help you keep track of exactly what you're eating and how much you're exercising to help you see how you can improve or if you're on the way to reaching your goal.
Exercising is one of the healthiest things you can do for your body. It aids in weight loss, boosts immune health and even helps relieve stress. Whether you choose to run outside, hop on the treadmill or bike your way to a healthier you, you're using lots of muscles and tendons in your body in order to do so. This is why you need to check something off of your list both before and after you've finished breaking a sweat: stretching. Your exercise regimen isn't complete without it. Here are a few reasons why you should schedule a few minutes to the beginning and end of your workout:
Before your workout
Stretching out your muscles helps to boost circulation and even improve the elasticity of the muscles. It will give you better range of motion, flexibility and muscle control. By stretching, you're increasing the flow of oxygen to your muscles, which prevents things like cramps, aches and pains that show up and slow down your workout. If you're someone who tends to not get through a workout without feeling a little bit of discomfort, try stretching for at least 15 minutes beforehand – this can lead to improvements in the flow of oxygen, helping to rid your body of those aches and pains.
You muscles also benefit a whole lot from a little bit of stretching before physical activity. This act not only alleviates tight muscles, giving you better range of motion throughout your workout and helping to prevent injury - it also nourishes your muscles. Stretching promotes circulation, and without proper circulation, your muscles may not be getting enough blood and oxygen.
A study by Arnold Nelson, an associate professor of kinesiology at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, found that stretching regularly before a workout does more than just increase range of motion – it may actually enhance performance, helping to make people stronger and even increase their endurance. Nelson explained that stretching affects muscles in a similar way that strength training does – it's believed to activate some of the same things in the cell that exercise activates.
After your workout
Your exercise regimen isn't quite complete before stretching out all your muscles. As you break a sweat, lactic acid builds up in your muscles, which is what causes you to feel sore the next day. By stretching after you're done, you can help alleviate that soreness and recover faster from an intense workout. And if you're not sore the next day, you're less likely to skip a workout!
Exercises to try out before and after your workout
People should try to stretch all the major muscle groups to prevent any potential injury. Here are a few stretches to try out:
The seated straddle: Sit with your feet outstretched in front of you in the shape of a V. Slide your arms down your left leg toward your ankle, keeping the leg straight. You should feel a stretch in your hamstring. Switch to the other side.
The butterfly: This exercise stretches out your hips and lower back. Sit upright with the bottom of your feet touching and your knees out to the side. Bend forward over your feet and stretch the arms out in front of you to feel a lengthening spine.
The bicep stretch: Sitting upright, bring one arm across your chest, pulling it in with your other arm. You should feel a stretch in your bicep. Switch to the other arm.
Whipping yourself into shape requires you to eat right and do a combination of cardiovascular exercise and strength training. But you don't always have time to get to the gym in order to use the weight training equipment. The good news is, using your own bodyweight, you can take your workout virtually anywhere. If you're at home, all you need is your living room floor for a great workout that will help you shed the pounds fast, boost your immune system and promote anti-aging. Here are some bodyweight exercises you can do anywhere:
Tuck jumps: Stand with your knees slightly bent and jump up in the air as high as you can while lifting your knees toward your chest. Arms should be extended straight out. Be sure to land with your knees slightly bent. Not only is this a great cardio exercise, but the act of bringing your knees toward your chest works those abs!
Plyometric pushup: Get into traditional pushup position on a well-padded surface. Hands should be directly below the shoulders with no arch in the back. Lower down to the ground, then push up hard enough to come off the floor for a second. Once your hands touch the ground again, go immediately into the next repetition. For an extra challenge, see if you can clap your hands while you're in the air!
Plank: This exercise is really great for your lower abs. Get into a pushup position with forearms, rather than your hands, on the floor. Then, keeping your back straight and core tight, hold the position for about 30 to 60 seconds.
Bodyweight lunge: Starting with your feet together, step one leg forward and slowly lower the body until your front knee is bent at about 90 degrees. Be sure not to let the knee go past the toe. Then push yourself back up to starting position as quickly as you can. After you're done with repetitions for that leg, switch to the other.
Mountain climber: Start on your hands and knees in the pushup position. Then bring your left foot forward directly under the chest while straightening the right leg. Keep your hands on the ground and switch legs quickly, as if you're climbing a mountain. You should feel it in your core and your legs.
Burpees: Get yourself into a squatting position with your hands on the floor. Next, kick both of your feet back at the same time, jumping into a pushup position. Complete one pushup then return to the squatted position as fast as you can. Repeat this exercise for multiple repetitions.
Whether you're a vegetarian or a meat-eater going straight to the vegan lifestyle, there are things you need to know in order to make the transition a smooth one. It's important to know what you're getting yourself into and what to expect if you're going to succeed in this diet and lifestyle choice. Here are some of the most vital things to consider before you make the jump to becoming a vegan:
What does a vegan diet include?
Vegans exclude all animal products, even dairy and eggs. This means that vegans largely rely on fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes. There are also plenty of protein powders out there like Naturade's Pea Protein powder that are vegan-friendly and allow dieters to enjoy a cool, sweet and tasty shake.
Vegan doesn't always mean healthy
Many people assume that making the switch to a vegan diet means that they will be on a strict regimen of healthy foods only, which will help them to shed the pounds. However, there are a lot of processed vegan foods out there that are filled with unhealthy ingredients. You'll be able to maintain a healthy diet as long as you stick with simple, whole foods.
Don't get down on yourself
When making this diet and lifestyle change, you can't expect to adapt easily and right away. There are going to be certain things that you'll have to get used to and plenty of bumps along the road. Sometimes, it can take as long as several years to go vegan, whether it's due to lack of knowledge or not having the right ingredients to whip up dinner. Megan Salisbury, a 33-year-old social work student in Phoenix, told the New York Times that she prefers a vegan diet but can only really manage it about 75 percent of the time. Things like limited options in the cafeteria and pricey food choices tend to hold her back.
You'll have to learn to alter cooking techniques
Vegan ingredients and cooking techniques are different than those for meals. Substitutions like oil-based spreads, chia seed eggs or nutritional yeast can deliver an unexpected nutty or cheesy flavor to the dish that you didn't expect. It takes time to learn what ingredients and substitutions work best and which should be left out.
Support is everywhere
There are so many individuals who are making the jump into veganism, and the web is filled with individuals who are willing to support you and hold your hand on this journey to a new diet and lifestyle. Thanks to everything from books, movies and online forums that share delicious vegan dishes, it's easy to find a helping hand wherever you go.