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7 Tips For A Fit Summer Body

7 Tips For A Fit Summer Body

Summer is a time for fun and sun… for vacations, barbecues, parties, and drinking. While you should relish these activities during this time of the year, it is often difficult to maintain a fit body during these months and it is important to make sure that your health doesn’t suffer along the way.

You can have fun as well as take care of yourself this summer. If you are able to keep your body fit, healthy, and happy throughout the summer months, you will build the habits to keep it going onto the next summer as well. Here are seven tips for building and maintaining a fit summer body.

1. Eat right

Your diet should consist of lots of fruits and vegetables. According to The Harvard School of Public Health you should be eating nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day, equivalent to two cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables per day. That is a minimum estimation so you should be able to eat as many fruits and vegetables as you want.

You also need to focus on eating the right amount of protein, fats, and good carbohydrates. Good carbohydrates include quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat, rye, and barley. Bad carbohydrates are found in refined white bread and processed foods like French fries. The amount you need to consume depends on how active you are, your height and weight, your age, your gender, etc.

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A general guideline is to stay away from fast foods which are loaded with Trans fats and added sugars. Substitute hamburgers and hotdogs with turkey burgers and turkey dogs. Try grilling salmon and shrimp instead of bratwursts. Eat grilled vegetables such as zucchini, peppers, and onions or salad on the side as opposed to French fries or potato chips. (French fries do not count as a vegetable contrary to popular belief). Fruit salads make great summer desserts as a substitute for ice cream and cake.

Eating right takes discipline and awareness. It doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat a hamburger, cookie, or potato chip. It means you are consistently putting healthy foods in your body. You will notice how much better you feel because you are eating healthy and clean. After a while you might not crave the hot dog like you did before.

2. Eat light

Don’t starve yourself: if you are hungry you need to eat, but try to concentrate on how much you eat. Make an effort to not overeat. When eating there is a point when you have eaten enough and are satisfied, and then there is that point that many of us go past. This is the point you should try to avoid.

Try eating smaller meals throughout the day. Eat a large breakfast and smaller portions throughout the day. Eating this way can be beneficial especially if you are looking to shed a few pounds or get more toned. But remember just because you are eating smaller meals doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about what you are eating. Eating right and eating light go hand in hand.

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3. Hydrate

It is always important to drink enough water. This is especially necessary during the summer months. According to the American Heart Association, staying hydrated is critical for your heart health. “Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles. And, it helps the muscles work efficiently.” This is not anything to take for granted. Without enough water your heart is going to suffer. If your heart suffers your body will as well.

The amount of water you should drink depends on many different variables. A useful way to test if you are drinking enough water is to pay attention to your urine. If it is light in color than you are drinking enough. If it is darker than you aren’t drinking enough. Also pay attention to how often you go to the bathroom. You don’t want to drown yourself because that can have negative consequences as well, but you want to ensure your body is properly hydrated.

If you are planning on spending a lot of time outside in the sun counteract dehydration symptoms with lots of H2O. This is really important when you plan on drinking alcohol or any other liquids that can lead to dehydration. Always have enough water available during the summer months no matter what you are doing.

4. Exercise

Humans aren’t meant to be a sedentary, so try to get as much exercise as you can. There are so many ways you can exercise effectively especially during the summer months. Running, walking, swimming, hiking are all simple forms of exercise you can do outside in the sunny weather. Unless you have severe health restrictions, there is a form of exercise out there waiting for you.

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The summer months are the perfect time to start taking exercise seriously. It can often be difficult to undertake an exercise regimen during the fall and winter months because of the cold and unfavorable weather. Play beach volleyball, go for long walks on the beach, or swim in the lake or the ocean. Exercise doesn’t have to be intense cardio or strength training. Take advantage of the warm weather and treat your body well.

It is important to determine what kind of body you want. Are you trying to lose body fat or do you desire to be more fit and active? Cater your exercise to fit your individual needs.

5. Focus on the core

Just as the foundation keeps a house strong and solid, the core keeps your body strong and solid. Even though core training is a form of exercise in itself I thought it deserved its own point of emphasis. Whether you are trying to form a six pack in your stomach or merely wanting to be stronger, focus on your core when you build your body for the summer. The core keeps your entire body together. If your core is weak than your whole body is going to suffer. Along with the normal exercise you do throughout the week add in some extra core work 3-4 times per week. This routine doesn’t need to be extreme. It is important to give your core the extra attention it deserves.

Having a strong core is more than just constructing sexy-looking abs. According to the Mayo Clinic, having strong core muscles is important for performing any physical activity. “Weak core muscles leave you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries.” Building a strong core is essential to a healthy body and beneficial for those of all ages.

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6. Limit alcohol

This one can be tough especially during the summer months. I know how nice it can be to sit around outside during the summer months enjoying some adult beverages. As I said previously this is an enjoyable part of summer that you should take advantage of. But try to limit how much you drink and pay attention to what you drink.

If you are concerned with your body than you will limit how much beer you drink. Beer is refreshing in the summer but it is filled with empty calories, which can be detrimental to your body. Also watch out for liquors like whiskey and rum because they tend to have a lot of added sugars. Light liquors such as gin and vodka are probably your safest bet if you plan on drinking often throughout the summer.

7. Get rest

Your body needs rest. Make sure you provide it with plenty of rest. Don’t stay up late all the time partying. Get enough sleep. At the same time don’t workout incessantly. Your body needs time to recuperate and strengthen. Take rest as needed. Find a balance between having a good time, exercising, and resting. Your body will thank you.

Featured photo credit: Zhuoku via img.article.pchome.net

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How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

His motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • He riles up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

Becoming the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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