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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 January 17, 2020

How to Learn Yoga (The Beginner’s Guide)

How to Learn Yoga (The Beginner’s Guide)

If you think yoga can be learned on the mat, you’re wrong! To learn yoga is to learn yourself, your life and the world around you, which happens mostly off the mat.

Since 2000, I study, practice, teach and live yoga – I grow with it from year to year – hence life becomes more interesting and more meaningful from year to year, too. Through all these years, I observe the evolution of yoga in the western culture and see, how (mostly) wrongly, has been interpreted, taught and practiced. Little is known about how to learn yoga – about its practice, its effect and its application. Yoga is all about finding the simplicity and the meaning in the complexity of life.

But when we look around us, it doesn’t seem so simple, even for those who practice it, and for the most who teach it. Everything about yoga begins in its definition from the original yogic scripture Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[1]

And the value for how to learn yoga, is in this article – showing the value of the above definition and how to practice it in the simplest way, effectively and efficiently.

What is Yoga?

Yoga-Citta-Vrtti-Hirodhah — and its translation is: Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations arising within consciousness.

The 195 Sutras, that the original yoga scripture consists of, are written in a strongly compressed manner with the idea to deliver a profound meaning and a lot of space for interpretation. However, the interpreter must be highly serious and competent, otherwise the interpretation will drastically deviate from what the message conveys.

When the definition about yoga is interpreted and applied the right way, it tells us how yoga is to be practiced and explored. To start the right way, we must know the right destination of yoga, which is Kaivalya:[2] The union between you, the other and the world.

Let’s see how to do that:

Beginning with the famous mainstream slogan “Union of Body, Mind and Soul”, brings up the question, “How to reunite the body, mind and soul?”

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Your feelings – created by outside stimuli result in the creation of thoughts, hence there’s connection between your body and mind. That’s easy to understand, right?

Now this connection and the thoughts must serve and improve the mind, making it capable to 1) understand the soul and 2) to unite it with the body and mind. That’s where our journey towards the goal of yoga (Samadhi) is interrupted – making the main part of the union not easy to understand, even less so to accomplish.

Yoga is More Spiritual than Physical

This is what makes yoga more spiritual than physical. To put it in numbers, yoga is 97% of psychological, philosophical and spiritual nature and only some 3% of physiological, considering that there are only seven out of 195 Sutras referring physiologically to sitting and breathing, of which I talked in my earlier post on Yoga For men.

But before experiencing any spirituality from yoga, there is the mental (emotional) part that needs to be mastered and that part is to establish a connection between the body and mind. How?

The simple thought and realization that you are conscious of how you feel within your body (cold, warm, relaxed, depressed, anxious, happy and so on), means that you have made the union between your body and mind. (below the step by step exercise for that).

But to establish a connection to your soul – to the finest part of yourself – the Self:

You must find out (through thinking) what is the subtlest thing that drives your body and mind – yourself as an individual and use that driver to go pass beyond your physicality and mentality.

It is right here that you use the definition about yoga and the realization – the moment, where you are not analyzing any thoughts or feelings. This is a state of Yoga – a state of union between body, mind and soul, in which your consciousness has ceased to identify with its fluctuations.

Yoga as Creativity and Expertise of the Individual

In such a case, there is no specific (like beginners, intermediate or advanced) technique for learning yoga. The moment of the state of yoga arises for everyone of us in an individual way as everybody’s physique and mental content are different. You might be very well advanced in performing the most difficult asanas for decades but still unable and incompetent to be in a state of union with your body, mind and soul. Whereas, if you are a beginner and possess the grace and other virtues, than it’s easier and quicker to establish that connection.

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As yoga is an inherent part of the human being, firstly, in order to pave the yoga path successfully and effectively, you must understand that yoga is not a technique for performance, but rather a creativity and expertise of yourself.

Your learning process cannot be focused on, nor conditioned by a certain handbook, someone’s instructions or some specific school.

Learning yoga requires your creativity to look within yourself and learn from yourself, become the expert of your feelings, emotions and desires. You, as a beginner might already possess many qualities and prerequisites for creating the union between your body, mind and soul, but your knowledge requires creativity for your growth to reach the state of union and then reap the fruits of that union. Once this happens there is no turning back – you’ll be pulled by the beauty and energy of your on being.

Be Fast Mentally and Slow Physically

As already mentioned, you don’t need to do physical performances like the split or the headstand to be able to immerse in a deep meditation or Samadhi. But you do need enough creativity for your self-inquiry.

Many of my students start working directly with meditation – attending the complexities of the mind, because that’s where the hindrances lie. There, the meditator is able to work on the cessation of identifying with the fluctuations of the consciousness – where intelligence expands, adversity ends and the individual is ready to pass through its physicality and mentality in order to reach the union with the soul.

But if you’re really a beginner and cannot start with that, then you can start enhancing your creativity on the body-mind level. The exercise follows in the next paragraph.

The greater your creativity, the better your expertise about yourself – the deeper your competence to inquire further into the union with your soul. Sure enough that a more pliable and healthy physical body has some advantages and better preconditions for that, but don’t get discouraged because your body-mind union will open up the way.

So here we are, you are at the moment to enhance your creativity upon that union. Please, take this as a very serious part of the practice as it is crucial for learning yoga – for learning yourself.

The Beginner’s Exercise – Creativity upon Body-Mind Union

The first and most important element to learn and practice yoga is of physiological and psychological nature: Stillness:

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  1. Make sure your body is still and comfortable.
  2. Focus on breathing to initiate observing.
  3. Observe your body and identify the first feeling that occurs to you.
  4. Keep identifying feelings and emotions, but without getting involved with them.
  5. Now create feelings and emotions as you please and let them go.

That’s it! That’s the creativity upon the body-mind union. The validity of this creativity lies in the stillness and observance of that union. In this practice you can learn to understand and catch the moment – the main ingredient of life.

Life is a sequence of moments and knowing that you’re able to manage that sequence is a new level of living life, called dharma – the practical and skillful way of living. An essential character develops as a result of practicing this discipline.

However, be aware that we are still talking about outward elements of yoga – the gross levels (from Yama to Pratyahara) whereas the subtle, inward elements (Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi) are yet to be approached, learned and implemented. It is on these subtle levels that you can realize the depth of spirituality and the essence of yoga.

It is remarkable how the science of yoga can take you in such heights and depths of exploring life and being. Little is known about the essence and the right practice of yoga in the west. There is a huge knowledge gap between how yoga should be learned and how it is practiced today in the west. You can bridge this gap by practicing the above exercise.

Know that yoga is of a very subtle nature – operating on a subtle energetic level – the level of your mental energies, your thoughts. That means that it is to be learned at that level and not on any other. A body posture alone cannot take you to that level if you don’t apply your creativity and self-inquiry.

Prerequisite for Yogic Success – Union between You and the Other

Yoga is nothing, if our relationships with others are not managed harmonically.

Learning yoga is also learning connecting with the other – with the stranger who’s not you but carries the same “core”, the same heart as you. We as individuals, possess the inborn feature of Ego – the “I-consciousness” that makes us feel separate from the rest of what makes the wholeness.

This separation is the second of the the five “klesah” afflictions[3] – that stand as major hindrance against the union (Yoga) – called “asmita” or I-am-ness / Egoism (Y.S. II.6.), and has to be cultivated and brought to a level of discernment that will lessen our disturbance that comes out the fragmentation between the “I-am-ness” and the “Other-ness”.

This is a crucial concept in Yoga and it is inevitable to be worked upon this hindrance in order to reach the inner “psychological” freedom or the ultimate liberation “Kaivalya” for which Yoga stands for. But, again, if you are beginner in this part, you want to know how to start dealing with all this. Here is the exercise:

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  1. Practice observance from the first exercise.
  2. Realize that the structure of your feelings, emotions, etc. is identical with the one of the other individuals.
  3. Practice witnessing, tolerating and gradually accepting the diversity between yourself and the other individuals.
  4. Observe for so long with equanimity, until you see the uniformity in that diversity.

This is one of the greatest accomplishments a human being can achieve. To be, means, to be in relationship – internally, as well as externally.

Yogic Lifestyle – Union Between You, The Other and The World

Here comes the last piece of the puzzle – the union – on the highest level of worldly existence – between you, the other and the world. This means that Yoga is also worthless if practiced only on the mat. So when learning yoga, especially when practicing the body-mind union, consider if:

You speak the language of nature and how you’re connected to nature and its basic elements? Do you complicate your existence by thinking that you are in the center of the world and require extra attention and acknowledgement?

Thinking this way interferes with the practice of yoga. And surely, you might wonder, what should be done here in order to create that harmony in union? You’d be amazed to know that there is one important yogic movement that needs to be done. That is:

The action of not doing anything but contemplating! Then yoga happens.

Yes, this goes beyond the physicality and mentality of your being. As our bodies play just a tiny part of the evolution of existence, we must not attach to the world in that sense – clinging to worldly life with that insatiable urge that generates worries and anxiety – but rather grow through life with detachment and the attitude that life has been gifted to us with the purpose to realize that gift and attain the wisdom of life.

Go Beyond Your Physicality and Mentality

Attaining greatness like connecting to the world and to your soul, we must pass beyond the thoughts, feelings and emotions, and the influence they have on us. Hence we want to make the mental fluctuations to cease and let yoga shine its light through this yogic movement:

The stillness and the watching within.

Can yoga be understood and achieved in one single session and then practiced continuously, productively and effectively? Of course it can. Your union within yourself, the other and the world is lot simpler and easier than you think. Practice these simple yogic movements diligently, seriously but also effortlessly and your yoga will be flourishing and fruitful. I salute the spirit in you!

More About Yoga

Featured photo credit: Avrielle Suleiman via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
[2] Wikipedia: Kaivalya
[3] Plato Stanford: Klesah

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