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10 ways to keep your new year’s resolution weight loss plan!

10 ways to keep your new year’s resolution weight loss plan!

Well, you finally made it to 2016, and like most of us, you probably started a new year’s resolution! A new year’s resolution is a great way to improve you and your life. But like everything in life, change isn’t easy, and weight loss goals are even harder. Remember, they don’t have to be! Here are ten ways to help you keep that weight off and keep yourself in good shape!

1. Stay away from the weight scale and measurements.

Let’s face it. When you start to lose weight, unless you are taking progress photos you never SEE a difference, you only feel a difference. Yes you may step on the scale, but most people make the mistake of stepping on it every day or every week. You should keep the weight scale to a minimum, as feeling good is the first step to any successful adventure. Stop caring what you look like, that will come in time. Instead, pay attention to how you feel. Do you feel better after every workout? How do you feel after eating healthier? I can tell you after the first few weeks of working out your body will feel better, you will have more energy, your brain will open up, and you will no longer feel “cloudy,” and the list goes on and on!

2. Don’t go cold turkey.

Cold turkey is nice, it’s even better slapped between two pieces of bread and a piece of lettuce (no mayo, mayo is bad)! But let’s be real, sometimes you may want some mayo, or you may want that cheeseburger. So eat it! Plan for cheat meals, and keep the portions consistent. For example, if on a normal day you have one hundred grams of rice, some veggies, and one hundred grams of lean chicken, just ensure when you have your cheat meal it’s proportionate. Cheat meals are okay. Disproportionate meals are NOT okay! But remember to keep the cheat meals to a minimum (1- 2 times a week)!

3. Eat before grocery shopping.

Studies show that when you’re surrounded by food, and you haven’t eaten you are more inclined to crave food, want food and buy food. Is that surprising? No. Did they need a study; perhaps not? But the fact is this; if you don’t buy unhealthy things, you can’t eat them. Cheat days are okay, snacks are not. So next time you go shopping make sure it’s on a full stomach, it will make it that much easier to walk by the muffins, cookies, and cake, or the fresh smell of cooked pizza and breaded chicken.

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4. Break your days into six meals.

When I hired a health expert I was advised to eat six meals a day. At first I was shocked, I was surprised with the amount of food I was told to consume. The idea was simple; don’t count calories, count fat, sugars, proteins and carbohydrates. The difference between complex carbs and simple carbs, and the importance of proteins and sugars was explained to me. I won’t discuss these differences if you need more information on this stuff a simple Google search will answer your questions.

Anyway, with all this information I broke my day into six meals. One meal every three hours, with a portion of carbs 20-30g, and a portion of protein, 30-40gs and vegetables are free. By the end of the day I wasn’t complaining. Six meals a day actually allows you to eat more in a given day, but it allows your body to burn more efficiently. Think of yourself as a vehicle, when you’re hungry and you wait till lunch, or supper, you consume more because YOU’RE STARVING, and you’ve been running on empty!

But when you break your day into six meals, you eat less because most of the time you still feel “satisfied” so you’re just adding to the fuel. You are basically training your body to know that it doesn’t need to don’t worry, food is COMING. It makes it easier for your body to digest the food, and speeds up your metabolism. Most people think eating fewer calories is the way to lose weight, which is true. You must consume less calories, but eating healthy and eating a balanced meal six times a day allows your body to drop those pounds at a much more efficient rate.

5. Make it an activity, bring a friend, and get a Pre-Workout.

Sometimes going to the gym is hard, but this is a skill you will develop i.e., doing what you don’t want to do because you just got to do it. Some days you may not want to go to the gym, but if you have a friend who you go with you will be more inclined to go. Why? Because what evil person leaves their friend to walk through hell alone? (Just kidding, gym isn’t hell, it is heaven!).

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But in all seriousness, every once in a while time gets rough, you feel unmotivated, fat, unhealthy, maybe not strong enough, etc. It’s always good to have a friend to kick you in the butt and say “get your bum here now!” If you feel you need a little more than that, I suggest a pre-workout. People don’t usually recommend these because of the high caffeine content. But I just discovered one medium Starbucks coffee has 300mg of caffeine! That is more than one scoop of your average Pre-Workout!) So, when |I’m feeling tired, or sluggish, I use my Pre-Workout as a “if I take this I have to go!” mentality. However, if you take a Pre-Workout and don’t feel the effects, I recommend cutting out coffee and reducing your caffeine intake. Never go above 500mg of caffeine a day.

6. Make a workout journal.

Workout journals are great and everyday journals are better. Plan your meals, write down times and what you ate, etc. Not only will this help you keep track, but it will allow you to adjust your meals. Also, if you have a piece of pizza, or ice-cream write it down! At the end of the month when you go to do your weigh in you can look back at your meals, and portions (it helps if you use a weight scale for food too). Referencing your journal will allow you to see where you can cut back, what you need to work on and where to improve. Weight loss is a pretty simple variable; you must consume fewer calories than what your body needs. So if you see that your consuming 1500 calories a day, 240g of protein, and 180g of carbs, and only 5g of fat per day and have lost a total of three pounds over the course of a month (which is actually really good), then you may want to keep what you’re doing, and up the fitness intensity. If you find that you are losing too much weight too quickly (you should look to lose about 0.5-1lb of body fat a week) and you lost 10lbs at the end of the month, then you can increase your calorie intake. A journal removes the need for a guessing game. If you don’t guess, you can reach success!

7. Set realistic goals.

You may want to bench press 350lbs, squat 400lbs and run for 10km, that will happen in time, lots of time. These are good goals to have, but those are long-term goals. I’m talking years of weight lifting. So when you set a goal, make sure you set a goal that can be obtained in a reasonable amount of time i.e., run 5kms, do 20 pushups and don’t set a time limit, it will come when it comes!

Let’s say you aim to be able to do 20 push-ups without stopping, write it down in your journal from #6 and bring it everywhere you go. When you do your fitness workouts, write down your weights, and remember this, DON’T aim for weight, aim for good form. Knowledge is success, and you can waste your time doing exercises wrong, and you can HURT YOURSELF. Injuries are no joke, and can lead to long term problems and ongoing issues. If you want a free workout, head to www.bodybuilding.com. They have hundreds of videos that show you proper form and the correct way to do exercises. In my gym there is a little motto “Don’t train harder, train smarter.” and remember this… goals are for you and only you. So don’t cheat at the gym, don’t try to impress, go to the gym and focus on you. Focus on your goals and your aspirations, and focus on why YOU’RE there. You’re there to improve you, and to smash those goals into oblivion

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8. Throw out all those big plates and over sized cups.

Believe it or not, your eyes play a big part of food consumption. That old saying, “are your eyes bigger than your belly?” holds weight. If you eat off big plates and drink from larger glasses, you will find yourself eating more before feeling satisfied. If you limit yourself to small plates, and small glasses you will eat less but feel fuller.

9. No processed foods.

Do you ever crave a pizza, a microwave dinner, perhaps a Kraft Dinner? STAY AWAY!! Processed foods are never good for you. Firstly, all those unreadable ingredients are hard on your body’s digestion system. A little saying goes a long way… “If you can’t read it don’t eat it!” I’m not saying don’t eat that pizza, don’t have Kraft Dinner; I’m saying make your own Kraft Dinner or your own pizza (from scratch) and if you don’t have time, please step away from the microwave dinners. Anything frozen and packaged to be microwaved is the worst thing for you. They are always high in fat, sodium and other preservatives.

10. Join a community.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you this isn’t hard. There will be times when you feel like you’re in a rut, and your body will be screaming to have cheat foods. Those skills take time to develop and old habits to break, just remember this; you’re not alone. I suggest you join a forum based community to help push you along, to post photos of your adventure, and to share your challenges and success stories with others. Once again a good website to visit is www.bodybuilding.com. They have a great community and tons of educational resources.

Remember this… Knowledge = success. The more you know the more places you’ll go!

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Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Published on September 20, 2018

15 Static Stretching Exercises to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

15 Static Stretching Exercises to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

Stretching is one of those aspects of fitness that many people conveniently forget about. Perhaps you’re one of those who consider stretching nothing but a mere chore meant for ballerinas and gymnasts.

Well… you’re wrong!

Everyone needs stretching! Irrespective of your reasons for working out, be it for sports or personal fitness, one thing is certain – stretching can help you. Stretching – static or dynamic – comes with myriads of benefits – such as improvement in flexibility and reduction in muscle tightness – which ultimately allow you to go through your workout routines with greater efficiency.

For the purpose of this article, though, we’ll zero in on static stretching and take a look at its benefits and when it should be done. Finally I’ll cap it up by revealing 15 great static stretching exercises that’ll help keep your whole body in tip-top condition. So sit back, relax and enjoy!

Benefits of static stretching

Static stretching comes with tons of benefits that can help you to make the most of your workout routine. Some of them include:

1. Improved flexibility

Alright! Here’s the deal – if you want to perform better, flexibility is of tremendous importance, irrespective of the specific workouts you do. And luckily enough, static stretching is all you need to get all the flexibility you desire.

Flexibility, also known as the range of motion (ROM) around a joint, has been shown by several studies to be improved by static stretching.[1] And although the specific mechanism through which this occurs is still unclear, static stretching has been shown to greatly increase joint flexibility[2] and tissue length,[3] which work in tandem to make your workout more effective.

2. Decreased risk of injury

If you’re looking to push yourself to your training limits without coming down with injuries, then stretching will do you a great service. Research has shown time and time again, that performing the right stretch exercises pre- and post-workout greatly helps with injury prevention.[4]

So, how does it work? Well, think of it this way:

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When you stretch you literally push your joints and muscle fibers to their limit. This increases the stretch tolerance in these muscles and joints over time and the increased tolerance allows you to perform more rigorous exercises without negatively impacting your body or risking an injury.

3. Increased blood flow and nutrient supply to the joints

Another benefit of stretching is increased blood flow – and by extension, nutrient supply – to the joints and muscles of the target areas. This, in turn, improves the performance of these muscles and joints due to the availability of more nutrients, improved oxygenation and removal of metabolites.

For static stretching though, the mechanism of action isn’t as straightforward. When stretching statically, blood flow (capillary oxygenation) temporarily reduces due to vascular compression.

However, immediately after releasing the stretch, the blood flow to these areas nearly doubles the pre-stretching levels.[5] Thus, blood flow increases.

4. Improvement in recovery

If you’ve been working out for some time, then you’ve probably discovered that a rigorous workout session can leave you battling with sore muscles… for days!

Recovery essentially means getting rid of this soreness and returning your muscle fibres back to their tip-top condition.

So, how does stretching come in? See…that’s the thing, research has shown that practicing static stretching after your workout session helps to reduce muscle soreness. And while some may argue that this effect is minimal, the fact still remains that stretching does help shorten your recovery time.

Stretching allows tissues to be better hydrated after the induced tension is released and this encourages the inflammation and faster repair of such tissues.

Other reasons why you really should incorporate stretching into your workout include:

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  • Improved relaxation
  • Increased movement efficiency
  • Reduction in the risk of lower back pain
  • Reduction in muscular tension
  • Improvement in neuromuscular coordination
  • Improvement in balance and postural awareness
  • Provision of relief from cramping

Alrighty! Now that it’s crystal clear that stretching does your body a world of good, let’s dive right into the actual stretching exercises.

15 Great static stretching exercises you should start doing

Here are some amazing exercises that will keep your body in tip-top condition and take your workout routine to the next level.

1. Neck stretch

    While sitting tall or standing, place your right arm gently on the right side of your head and place the other arm straightly on your side.

    • Slowly pull your head towards your right shoulder until you can feel the stretch on the left side of your neck.
    • Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing.
    • Repeat for the opposite side.

    2. Chest Stretch

      Stand right, with your fingers interlocked behind your back, near your buttocks.

      • While keeping your shoulder blades together and your back straight, push your arms up behind you, until you feel the stretch in your chest.
      • Hold for about 20-30 seconds before releasing.

      3. Cross-body shoulder stretch

        Stand right or sit tall

        • Extend one arm to your front to shoulder height.
        • Grab the extended arm with your other arm and pull it towards your chest while keeping the extended arm straight.
        • Continue the pull until you feel the stretch in your shoulder.
        • Hold for 30 seconds and repeat for the other arm.

        4. Triceps stretch

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          • Lift your arms overhead with both arms slightly behind your head and bent at the elbow.
          • Use your right hand to pull your left elbow until you feel a stretch in your triceps.
          • Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the other arm.

          5. Biceps stretch

            • Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
            • With your fingers pointing away from your body, place your two palms flat on the floor behind you.
            • While your hands are steadily in place, slowly slide your butt downward toward your feet until you can feel the stretch in your biceps, shoulders and chest.
            • Hold for about 30 seconds before release.

            6. Wrist stretch

              • While Standing straight or sitting tall, extend your right arm forward to shoulder height with your fingers pointing towards the ceiling.
              • Grab your right fingers with your left hand and pull your right hand to bend the wrist until you can feel the stretch
              • Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the opposite arm.

              7. Side stretch

                • Stand straight with your feet hip-wide apart.
                • Take your right arm and reach over your head towards your left side while bending your side.
                • Keep bending your side slowly until you can feel a stretch on your right side.
                • Maintain this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the opposite side.

                8. Abdominal stretch

                  • Lie down on your stomach with your face towards the ground and your palms facing the floor as though you’re about to do a push up.
                  • While keeping your pelvis firmly on the floor, gently push up your upper body from the ground. This should make your feel some stretch in your abs.
                  • Maintain this position for about 30 seconds before releasing.

                  9. Reclined spinal twist

                    • Lie down facing the ceiling, with your arms extended to the sides and placed on the floor.
                    • While keeping the right leg extended, pull up your left knee towards your chest, tilt it toward your right side and then drop it slowly over your extended right leg.
                    • Keep your shoulder blades flat on the ground and you should feel the stretch around your back
                    • Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the opposite side.

                    10. Low-back stretch

                      • Lie on the ground facing the ceiling, with your knees bent.
                      • Hold your shins and pull up your knees toward your chest.
                      • This should make you feel some stretch in your lower back.
                      • Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing.

                      11. Hip flexor stretch

                        • Stand right in a standard lunge position.
                        • Place your two hands on your hips.
                        • Step out on your right foot into mini-lunge position, without your knee going beyond your right toe.
                        • Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left side.

                        12. Glutes stretch

                          • Sit tall on the ground with both knees bent and both feet on the floor.
                          • Lift your right leg and cross it over your left thigh, while your left knee remains bent.
                          • Pull both legs inwards toward your abdomen for a deep stretch of your glutes.
                          • Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.

                          13. Quadriceps stretch

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                            • Stand tall while maintaining a straight posture.
                            • With your left hand, grab a pole, wall or anything durable for balance.
                            • With your right hand, grab your right foot and pull up your heels until they touch your buttocks.
                            • Keep your knees close together while doing this and you should feel the stretch in your quadriceps.
                            • Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the other side.

                            14. Hamstring stretch

                              • Sit on the floor with your right leg extended straight in front of you and your left leg bent.
                              • Reach forward with your right hand and touch your right toes. This should cause a stretch in your right hamstring.
                              • Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left leg.
                              • If you’re unable to reach your toes, try holding your shin instead but seek to go further every time you perform the stretch until you can touch your toes.

                              15. Calf stretch

                                • Sit on the ground and extend your right foot straight in front of you.
                                • Gently pull your right toes backwards with your right hand. This should cause a noticeable stretch in your calf.
                                • Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left leg.
                                • If you’re unable to reach your toes, use a rope or towel to pull your toes inward.

                                When should you be doing static stretches?

                                Static stretching is great…when done correctly and at the right time. Over the years, research has shown that static stretching produces best results when done after working out or on rest days,[6] but not as a part of warm up exercises before an explosive workout session.

                                This is because static stretching exercises have a “cool-down” effect on the muscles and are more effective when done after the muscles are already warm.

                                So, does that mean you must never ever perform static stretches before working out? Certainly not! You can, but it should be kept to the barest minimum.

                                Dynamic stretches – that involve more movement – are generally recommended for warming up as it helps the body to prepare better for the work ahead.

                                The bottom line

                                Carving out the body of your dreams isn’t only about lifting weights and running, you need to keep your body “elastic” if you’re going to make the most of your training. And that’s the whole point of stretching exercises.

                                So, starting today, be sure to incorporate these static stretching exercises into your routine and in no time, you’ll find yourself recovering faster and performing better than ever before.

                                Just remember to keep these stretches a part of your post-workout dessert for maximum benefit.

                                You’ve got this!

                                Featured photo credit: Scott Broome via unsplash.com

                                Reference

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