Author Archives: bhealth
Author Archives: bhealth
The Benefits of Challenging Yourself to Master 100 Situps
Performing situps as a physical fitness exercise has so many benefits. Aside from requiring no expensive or special gym equipment, you improve your overall core strength. And though many searching for sexy six-pack abs focus on situps for that reason alone, the well-rounded exercise actually involves more of your muscles and a larger range of motion than crunches.
Muscles in your chest and legs, connecting stabilizer muscles and hip flexors are all employed, giving you a full body workout. And when you challenge yourself to reach the level where you can consistently perform 100 situps at a time your benefits are even greater.
Mentally, your brain has the advantage of endorphins which are released every time your body detects stress. Performing multiple situps at once sends these endorphins to your brain, and the response from your brain raises your heart rate and metabolism. This “fight or flight” response from your mind also means that your mental alertness and awareness are peaked.
With that increased heart rate comes higher metabolism and a better ability to burn fat and maintain a healthy body weight. There is also the high level of self-esteem which comes from performing 100 situps without stopping. This impressive physical achievement is rare among human beings to say the least. Additionally, a side benefit that you may not have considered is the desire to push yourself in other ways physically.
You have worked up from 10 consecutive situps to 20, and 50, and finally 100. The boost of energy and self-pride you feel will quickly have you pushing yourself to perform 100 pushups without stopping. Then you will want to run 1.5 miles in under 10 minutes, and bench press 1.5 times your body weight. When you see such an impressive achievement as a reality in your life, suddenly, running a marathon or participating in a triathlon seems well within your grasp.
A body at rest tends to stay at rest, and a body in motion tends to stay in motion. While this is one of Newton’s scientific laws of motion, it applies as well to human beings. Your mind tends to adapt your entire behavior according to your most consistent activities. This means that when you master 100 consecutive situps, you subconsciously program your mind to spend less time sitting and more time standing, less time lounging and more time exercising.
The overall health benefits include a longer and healthier life span, cardiovascular and core strengthening, and healthy weight and fat loss. You also feel great emotionally and mentally when others comment on your new, slim, trim and powerful body, which creates even a greater desire to continue to challenge yourself physically.
5 Places to Find Support to Help You Stick to Your Exercise Goals
Some of the most proven ways to support your exercising and fitness efforts are social ones. Countless studies have shown that when you get a friend or family member to team up with you in your fitness goals, both you and your partner are much more successful in achieving your intended results. The following 5 places to find support that helps you stick to your exercise goals are time tested and guaranteed to help you become the healthiest person you can be, without sabotaging your workout plans.
1 – Hit the World Wide Web
Just about everyone has a smartphone these days, and if you do, there are literally hundreds of fitness tracking applications you can download to your mobile handset. Sticking to your plan is sometimes as easy as tracking and reviewing your daily efforts. This is easy to do with a health and fitness tracking app, which you can download to your smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC.
2 – Find Support by Creating Challenging but Sensible Goals in the First Place
You are almost guaranteed to sabotage your exercise goals and workout plans if they are ridiculously lofty. Someone 30 pounds overweight that works a sedentary job and spends their evenings on the couch should not expect to run the Boston Marathon in 30 days. Make your goals achievable, but challenging as well, and you’ll have a much greater chance of sticking to your plan.
3 – Find Goal Support in Rewarding Small Milestones and Achievements
No lesser organization than the Harvard Business Review reported scientific proof that rewarding small victories is extremely important to achieving huge successes. They showed that the human brain, when presented with a short but incremental progression of improved achievements, actually extrapolates and plans for bigger successes and rewards along that growth rate over time. Rewarding yourself for performing 10 pushups, then 20, then 30 automatically programs your mind to push you to greater and more impressive physical fitness achievements down the road.
4 – Stick to Your Goals With a Laser Focus For One Fitness Activity at a Time
You may want to eat healthier, jog 5 miles a week, take up Pilates or yoga, begin lifting weights and join a local hiking club. But attempting all of these activities at once is a recipe for failure. Once you implement any one of your desired exercise or fitness activities in your life, and are performing it on a consistent basis, then integrate the next goal on your list. In six months to a year, you can be an entirely improved and different person physically and emotionally if you follow this proven “one goal at a time” plan.
5 – Make Your Goals Public and Get Someone Else Involved
We highlighted earlier that it is often times easier to achieve your fitness goals when you have a partner. At times of weakness, you and your partner can support each other. The natural competitive nature of humans is also supported when you are exercising with someone else, spurring you both on to better performances. And when you let your friends and family know of your specific fitness goals, you feel much more inclined to make them realities.
How Much Does Exercise Really Help You Lose Weight?
The average person understands that they need to eat a healthy, nutrition-filled diet and exercise regularly to maintain a healthy body weight. But just how much does exercising actually help you lose weight? Every day on television and the Internet there are dietary supplement and diet claims of significant weight loss without exercising. So why can’t you just change your diet to lose weight, instead of having to sweat and exert yourself with physical exercise?
Part of the answer has to do with what goes on inside your brain, and inside your body, when you exercise. Dieting is great, and totally changing your daily and weekly nutritional intake is even better. But without exercise, you can always regain unhealthy weight and fat if you slip off of your diet, and change back to your unhealthy approach to eating.
Concerning exercise, any time you ramp up your physical exertion to 80% of your maximum level, a wonderful thing happens. You begin to elevate your heart rate to what researchers say is the most efficient level for cardiovascular health. Your metabolism is also spiked, which helps you burn fat, in turn reducing the amount of unhealthy weight on your body.
And several hours after even a short 20 minute exercise regimen, your body is still burning fat, pumping oxygen to your muscles, and benefiting you in several ways. There is no mistake that you should immediately and critically take a look at the food you ingest on a regular basis, and make whatever healthy changes you need in that area.
However, the external and internal physical benefits you receive from regular exercise include so many that simple nutritional changes can never deliver. Just as importantly, you also benefit from a life-changing boost in self-esteem and self-worth that comes from the perception you and others have of your new, slimmer, trimmer body.
So, how much does exercise really help you lose weight, and how much must you do to benefit? The American College of Sports Medicine recently declared that just 200 to 300 minutes (3.3 to 5.0 hours) of weekly exercise will help you lose extra weight, improve your heart health, boost mental performance and help you live longer.
That means just 30 minutes a day of brisk walking, jogging, practicing yoga or Pilates, or engaging in some other moderate to aggressively strenuous activity can help you not only lose unwanted weight, but can help you keep it off long-term.
How to Get Rid of Man Boobs
Do you want to get rid of your man boobs? If so, you are not alone. Male breast reduction surgeries jumped 6% in 2011 alone according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. But before we get into how to get rid of them, let’s first talk about what causes them. There are three reasons why you might have unsightly man boobs:
1) Hormonal imbalance
If you have an elevated level of estrogen and lower than normal testosterone, male breast enlargement (known as clinical gynecomastia) can occur. As hormone levels change, it may correct itself on its own, but if you have had man boobs for a long time, then you may want to consult your doctor to find out if there is medication you can take to get your testosterone up and estrogen down.
2) Excess fat
If your hormone levels are within acceptable levels, then your body may be storing excess fat on your chest. The non-surgical way to get rid of it is through cardio and strength training. Cardio alone won’t do it as you need the strength training part to fire up your metabolism to burn more calories while exercising and to build muscle so your body burns more calories even when not exercising. Focus on exercises that target the large muscle masses, such chest, back, shoulders, glutes and legs.
3) Excess mammary gland tissue
Sometimes the cause is excess tissue in the breast area. Then the most effective measure is usually surgery called reduction mammoplasty. The surgery can take one of two directions.
Once inside, the surgeon may find that the culprit is fatty deposits that are resistant to loss in which case s/he may use liposuction to remove the excess fat and reduce the size of the breasts.
Or s/he may find excess tissue is the cause and reduce the amount of tissue in that area, thus reducing the breast profile.
Because reduction mammoplasty is not a life-threatening medical issue, most insurance companies will not cover the cost of this surgery which runs about $5,000 and up. However, this could be a small price to pay to improve your bodily self-image and self-esteem.
Depending on the cause of your man boobs (or moobs as they are called), you now have some options on how to get rid of them. It could be as easy as hormone re-balancing or dropping your body fat percentage through exercise and a healthy diet. As a last resort, surgery may be the cure. Whatever the reason, you do not have to live with man boobs – you do have options.
Side Effects of Losing Weight Too Rapidly
If you are overweight, losing weight can be the best thing you can do for yourself both from a physical and emotional health standpoint. Weighing less can significantly lower your risk for certain illnesses and cancer, let alone help improve your self-esteem.
But, by losing weight too fast, you run the risk of pounding headaches, malnutrition and dehydration, all of which can cause a whole host of other health ill-side effects, including nausea, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, lethargy and mood swings. Under extreme conditions, you can even suffer hair loss!
To prevent the above maladies, keep your weight loss to two pounds or less per week. Most healthcare professionals agree that up that amount is a safe weight loss that is sustainable over a longer period of time.
Sagging Skin and Stretch Marks
Two of the physical effects of losing weight too fast are sagging skin and stretch marks. In part sagging skin happens because as we age, our skin loses its elasticity and collagen. Excessive sun exposure accelerates this skin-aging process. So when you lose weight later in life, your skin does not rebound and tighten back up as fast as it did when you were younger.
Also the number of times you asked your skin to expand and contract over the years also play a part. If you yo-yo dieted in the past (gained and lost significant weight several times over), you may have more sagging skin than someone who has maintained a constant weight and is just now starting a weight loss program. There isn’t much that can be done for sagging skin except removal through cosmetic surgery in extreme cases.
Stretch marks happen if you gained weight faster than your skin could expand. As you pile on the pounds, your skin keeps expanding and expanding, but at some point, it can’t expand anymore. When you reach that point, your skin tears at the dermis level (underneath the surface of the skin). Stretch marks are the visual scars of these tears.
You most likely do not see them before you start losing weight, but they will appear as the weight comes off. While there no good way of getting rid of them, some of the laser treatments can mask their appearance.
When it comes to weight loss, slow and steady will win the race every time. Weight loss is not a sprint – it is a marathon; you did not gain your weight overnight, nor should you expect to lose it that fast. However, through healthy eating, exercise and a sensible weight loss program, you can get to your weight loss goal.
The Difference Between Losing Weight and Losing Fat
When most people say they want to lose weight, they really mean they want to reduce their body fat. If they really wanted to lose weight per se, their goal would be to reduce the weight of their bones, muscles, organs along with body fat … most likely not their real goal. Most of us want to preserve all but the body fat part.
So in reality, you want to reduce the amount of body fat you are carrying, but how much is healthy? If you are male, then you want your body fat to be around 10%; 15% for females.
Why the Scale is Your Worst Enemy
If you are trying to lose body fat, weighing yourself every day is frustrating at best. Because the scale measures your total weight, it can fluctuate up or down every time you get on the scale.
When you first started to eat fewer calories, you probably showed a significant drop in numbers on the scale. But because carbs bind to water, lowering your carb intake reduced the amount of water in your body, so the real loss was not body fat, but water loss – the water had fewer carbs to attach to. If you start eating more carbs again, your weight will go up proportionately due to water hanging onto the additional carbs.
As a matter-of-fact, you can lose body fat, gain muscle and your number on the scale can remain the same, even though you now look better. Why? Because a pound of muscle takes up less space than a pound of fat therefore your profile is much slimmer even though you weigh the same.
Measuring Body Fat
The only real way to measure body fat loss accurately at home is by measuring your girth in the same places each time with a pair of body fat calipers – the neck, chest, arms, waist and thighs. Your waist measurement should go down, but the rest of your measurements should go up.
Train for Success
The best overall workout strategy is a mix of cardio and strength training. Cardio burns more calories and thus speeds up fat loss, but it alone is not enough; without strength training, you’ll end up losing muscle. Through strength training, you’ll tone the muscle you have and build more. And because more muscle means you’ll burn more calories throughout the day, developing muscle mass is the key to long-term weight management.
Most likely your real goal of “losing weight” is to lose body fat and build muscle. Use the advice in this article to reach your goal.
Why You Should Eat More Protein for Better Fitness Results
Protein is the macronutrient building block of the body. It is what builds bones, muscle, cartilage, skin, nails and blood. But this all-important nutrient does not stop there. Because it is an amino acid, it also helps synthesize enzymes and hormones, maintains fluid balance, and regulates vital bodily functions, like creating antibodies, protecting against infection, and helping with blood clotting and scar tissue formation.
And because your body does not store protein, you need a certain amount every day just to adequately nourish your body so it can function. But a question frequently ask is how much is the right amount?
Let’s start by clearing up one misconception – more is not necessarily better. The body can only use up so much protein at one time. If your goal is building muscle mass you need a maximum of just under 1 gram of protein for each pound of body weight to maintain tissue construction which is what builds muscle mass; the actual formula is 0.9 gram of protein per pound of weight. Anything more is just wasted and can be counterproductive to your goal.
If your goal is weight loss, that amount drops to 0.36 gram per pound of body weight. Doing the math, we find a 170-pound person wanting to lose weight should consume about 61 grams of protein per day, whereas the goal of someone wanting to build muscle would be 153 grams.
Calorie-wise, protein should make up about 20% of your total daily calories. So taking the above number into consideration at 4 calories per gram of protein, this would give you a diet of 1,952 calories per day to lose weight and 4,896 calories per day to build muscle, respectively.
Keep in mind this is a starting point. Because each body is different, you’ll have to monitor your results and adjust your protein intake accordingly. Ideally, you’ll settle somewhere in between these two figures.
However, do not go let your protein intake go above 30%. Doing so at the sacrifice of carbohydrates changes your metabolism into a state called ketosis. The result is a suppressed appetite (causing you to eat less) and an increase in fluid excretion in the form of urine (resulting in water weight loss). While this would seem like a good thing, because you are losing weight, you are losing it for all the wrong reasons and can lead to severe dehydration and malnutrition.
As this article shows, eating more protein – up to a point – can help you achieve your fitness goal. The key is to eat smart by eating around 50% of your daily calories as complex carbohydrates, 30% good fats (poly and mono-unsaturated) and 20% protein and then adjusting as needed based on your desired results.
How Quickly Can You Improve Your Fitness?
Before answering the question of how quickly you can improve fitness, we have to accept two proven assumptions:
1. The body can only improve at a certain rate.
2. You can only exercise for a given amount of time without significantly increasing your risk for injury.
Let’s look at the first one. Your fitness level can improve about 50% per week sequentially, based on the training load or how much exertion you put on your body. To further explain this, if you increase your training load (whether that load is adding five miles per week to your running or lifting an additional 20 pounds of weight per strength training session, etc.), your body will improve and adjust to the new load at the rate of:
50% the first week
25% the second week (50% of 50%)
12.5% the third week (50% of 25%)
6.25% the fourth week (50% of 12.5%)
To show it another way, it would look like this:
Week one – 50%
Week two – 75%
Week three – 87.5%
Week four – 94%
So after four weeks of training using your new routine, your body has improved 94%. To increase any more significantly, you would have to increase the load and start over again from your last stopping point.
Let’s look at the second one – you can only exercise for a given amount of time. Regardless of your fitness level, your body is conditioned at a certain level. If you try to push your body harder than you should, you increase your risk of an injury. Plus add to the fact that your body only has so much energy it can burn at any one time. Based on these two facts, don’t expect to go from being a couch potato to running 5 miles in one day- it’s just not going to happen.
However, if you begin by walking 30 minutes the first day and then start a progressive walk/run exercise routine where you strive to walk less and run more, you should, over the course of a month, reach your goal of running 5 miles.
The other fact worth noting is different parts of the body develop at different rates. Your heart and skeletal muscles responds more quickly to exercise than do your bones. So for example if you have been doing cardio training by biking, your heart and large lower muscle groups may be ready to run, but your leg bones may not and thus you have an increased risk of a stress fracture due to the pounding of running. So to take up running, you must start slow and build from there.
The bottom line is when trying to improve your fitness level, listen to your body. It will tell you if you are trying to progress too fast. Listen and adjust or be prepared to suffer the consequences!