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Last Updated on February 27, 2018

How to Instantly Fall in Love With Moving and Start Shaking off the Extra Pounds

How to Instantly Fall in Love With Moving and Start Shaking off the Extra Pounds

Americans move a lot less than citizens of other countries. Average daily step counts vary quite a bit around the world: the U.S. ranks 30th, with an average daily step count of 4,774, while Hong Kong comes first, at 6,880 steps per day.[1] Outside of counting steps, there are other measures by which we fall behind in terms of physical fitness and exercise. Even though our step count (4,774) is similar to Mexico’s (4,692), the US’s obesity rate is higher: 3 8% (US) compared to 32.4% (Mexico).[2]

These figures are sobering. Many of us struggle with our weight and activity levels, largely because we are an especially work-obsessed nation. And yet it’s important to our physical and mental health, to our relationships with others, and our overall sense of well-being to be active.

We all know this, but how do we actually put our intentions into actions? It might be easier than you think.

Measure, measure, measure.

All you have to do, really, is measure your activity. Be totally honest with yourself, without judgment.

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Measure how much you move. How often are you active? How many times do you work out every week? For how long? What type of workout? How strenuous is the activity?

Count how many steps you take. Some of us drive to work, while other of us might walk well over a mile each way to get there. These steps count for a lot. If you don’t get a chance to move a lot at your job, or during your commute, find reasons to move – during a lunch break, while making a phone call, or just when you need a moment to think.

Finally, measure how much you stand, sit, and move around. Becoming aware of your sedentary activities and your active moving will give you a better picture of how active you are overall.

When you have a better picture of your overall activity levels, improvement will come, slowly but surely. You will find yourself unconsciously trying to up your step counts or number of workouts. This, in turn, will boost your health. Moving helps us stay active, decrease obesity, boost heart health, increases our energy levels.[3]

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Motivation and Goals

Measurement helps gives you the motivation you need! But as you become aware of that tendency toward wanting to improve yourself and increase your physical activity, you might find these four tips helpful.

1. It doesn’t matter how you measure it: just do it.

Some people use fitness tracking watches (see the many models of Fitbit, Garmin, etc.) to get tons of data automatically on their phone apps; others prefer the low-tech (and low-cost) solution of just logging it in a physical book. It honestly doesn’t matter which way you choose to go.

It’s sort of like playing games, you either want to make some numbers higher or lower; think, for example, about board games like Agricola or the many mobile games that require you to use “coins” to purchase certain tools or power-ups. You choose which things to prioritize (increasing your number of steps or spending less time sitting), and then work toward better fitness in that domain.

2. Talk about it with your friends or accountability partners.

It’s nice to know how you are doing, whether you’re doing great or need a little extra push. But either way, it’s more fun to work toward goals when you can compare with peers and add a little competition (or warm encouragement) to make it fun!

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This is the philosophy behind programs like Strava that connect workout logs with social media. You can pursue different targets – or the same ones, if you have similar goals – and make a point to talk about your progress with friends for accountability.

3. Create and stick to clear goals.

10,000 steps (equates to roughly five miles) per day is a good target for overall activity. If you are an able-bodied person who can walk without trouble, try to make this your goal. When you have this target, you’ll try to meet it. It’s helpful encouragement to keep you moving more!

Or if you have a gym membership, go to a yoga studio, or swim at your school’s gym, set a tangible and clear goal. Log it when you complete it, and make a note of it when you don’t. The goal is transparency and honesty with yourself; with this kind of visible marker of your progress or lack thereof, you have a much higher chance of success!

4. Be kind to yourself and revise when necessary.

Even though it’s key to set tangible goals, it’s equally important to be aware of your limitations. If you have very little experience with exercise, or if you’re injured or feeling unusual pangs or aches, take it easy. It is quite possible to overexert and injure yourself. As you work toward goals, do it mindfully. Check in with yourself often.

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There are also small ways to get more active, and these are good ways to implement more physical activity without any risk at all. Instead of going thru drive-in for food, walk there. Instead of taking the elevator all the time, take the stairs. Instead of sitting all day long in office, stand a while or walk around some time.

Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that this is not enough, but it’s important. Make sure to augment your little fixes with both aerobic workouts and strength-training activities. And every time you do, log it, measure it, and adjust your goals!

Featured photo credit: Photo by dan carlson on Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and black tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here:

11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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