Stretch your definition of a workout

For most people, getting motivated to exercise is tough. The idea of just stepping outside for a brisk walk or run seems so difficult for many people. What stretches should I be doing? Am I wearing the right clothes or shoes? What kind of fitness tracker do I need?

If you’re like most Americans, you aren’t getting the recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day. There are a lot of reasons for this – busy lives, intimidation, slow results and a lifetime of bad habits are just a few things that cause people not to move enough. You might even think that because you can’t commit to a full 30 minutes of activity, then making the move to move just isn’t worth it.

So how do you get over these roadblocks and start getting healthier? Begin to stretch your definition of what it means to exercise. Finding something you like doing is a great first step. If you hate running, you’re going to look for every reason not to do it. But if you really like step class or even working in the yard, focus your workout efforts there. There are so many ways to be active, so find one you really like.

Setting goals and rewards is another way that helps some people. Write down your goals on a slip of paper and put it in a place you will see it. Be realistic with it and come up with benchmarks you can reach. Even if it’s just walking for 10 minutes a day, 4 days a week to start out with, you can always reevaluate the goal after a couple weeks and change it up. Stretch your thinking in terms of rewards – a movie, a new pair of running shoes – maybe a new nail polish you’ve had your eye on.

The bottom line is, just start moving and it will become easier if you can stick with it. If you don’t have an hour to workout, but could squeeze in a 20 minute power walk, do it. Ditch the all or nothing attitude, stretch your definition of what it means to exercise and know that every little step helps when it comes to your health.

Keen on quinoa: Tips for cooking these healthy seeds

Trends and fads with health food tend to change every year, but one whole grain that’s sticking around is quinoa. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) is technically a seed, but it has many of the qualities of a grain. High in fiber and protein with plenty of vitamins and minerals, quinoa is great to incorporate into side and main dishes. It can be daunting to tackle cooking a new and unusual food, but follow these tips and you’ll get perfectly light and fluffy quinoa every time!

1. Shop smart.
Make sure you’re buying your quinoa in seed form. Grocery stores also sell quinoa flour and flakes, but these are for special recipes.
2. Rinse away.
Quinoa has a bitter coating on the tiny seeds that you won’t want to taste in your dish. Use a fine mesh strainer and rinse the seeds well.
3. Timing is everything.
The difference between perfect quinoa and overcooked mush is timing. Here’s a simple method to remember: Combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups liquid in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.
4. Flavor up with broth.
Quinoa can be cooked with water, but using vegetable or chicken broth can really amp up the flavor. You’ll be able to taste the difference in your final meal!
5. Don’t forget to drain.
Quinoa holds on to a lot of water, so break out the fine mesh strainer again and let the seeds drain.
6. Take a rest.
Let the quinoa sit in the saucepan for another 15 minutes. This dries out the seeds and prevents lumpy or mush quinoa.

Now that you have a pot of perfectly cooked quinoa, it’s time to decide what to do with it! You can use it in place of rice or couscous in main dishes, as a filler in burgers, in a new recipe like this one, or add some salt and olive oil and enjoy it straight from the pan!

Tips for developing a better relationship with your doctor

How is your relationship with your doctor? No one enjoys hanging out in a doctor’s office but when it comes to your health, it can be necessary. As with most things in life, a good relationship with the person you’re meeting up with can make the experience better. Here are some tips to develop a better relationship with your doctor so you make sure to get the care you need.

Don’t be afraid to speak up. Your doctor can’t read your mind and if you feel like he/she isn’t addressing your concerns, say something. Leaving the appointment without getting your concerns addressed isn’t helpful to you or your doctor. It means more time being spent on visits that are unnecessary. If you’re not comfortable talking to your doctor, bring along someone who can help you.

Come prepared for your appointment. This means more than just showing up on time, it’s about being ready to accomplish your goals for this meeting. Write down a list of concerns or topics you specifically want to address during the visit. Also bringing a record of your current medications, both prescription and OTC is helpful too. You want to make the most of a short amount of time your doctor has. Don’t waste your time and theirs by not getting the answers to your questions.

Sometimes, having an extra set of ears with you during an appointment can help you get the answers you need. Again, you’re not going to meet up for a social visit with your doctor. This is about your health and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Having someone as vested in your health as you are accompanying you to your visit can ensure you and your doctor are on the same page. Think of this person as an advocate and a second line of defense in case you forget something.

Your health is important and so is your relationship with your doctor. Putting your trust in someone else’s hands isn’t a minor thing. Developing a healthy and strong rapport with your doctor will help you feel better and get the care you need.

How to start building your home gym

Did you know that over 25 million people use a home gym per year? With people wanting to be healthy while avoiding expensive gym membership fees, a home gym is a great alternative. If you want to get started on creating your own home gym, follow the tips below and soon you’ll be working up a home-grown sweat!

Be smart with dumbbells

Dumbbells are so versatile, and they can transform even simple exercise moves into full-body workouts. Choose two or three weights that you use often, or invest in an adjustable set.

Have a ball

Inexpensive and adaptable, a stability ball is an excellent addition to any home gym. Use it as a bench when you use your dumbbells or try one of these exercises.

Don’t forget cardio

While the word “cardio” brings to mind big (and expensive!) machines such as treadmills, you can get your heart pounding with much simpler items. A jump rope is inexpensive and one of the greatest tools for burning calories and tightening your ab muscles.

Bring in the experts

Instead of hiring a personal trainer, keep some workout videos handy to motivate you and help you get the most out of your workout. Save even more money by using YouTube (there are plenty of fitness vloggers out there).

Big ticket items for less

You don’t have to break the bank to get bigger items such as treadmills or ellipticals. Check Craigslist and other local listings to find pre-owned equipment, or contact manufacturers and retailers to see if they have any deals.

For the final touch, make sure to check out our products. Combining our weight loss solutions with your home gym workouts can help you reach your health goals in no time!

Fitness tips to help you stick with your routine

We all know that exercise is good for us, but sometimes it can be a real downer too. It can be discouraging when you don’t see or feel results. But the key to exercise is consistency. Here is some advice when you feel like giving up.

  • Put the scale away – Weighing yourself every day could actually make it harder to lose weight. When you put it away, you are able to focus on the positive things you are doing to reach your goal. Your weight can fluctuate a little every day, even if you haven’t changed your routine. Use the scale weekly to help you stay on track.
  • Don’t push yourself too hard – It’s easy to keep going when you’re feeling good. But it can also lead to fatigue and injury. This brings out the negative emotions, which makes staying motivated nearly impossible. Give yourself time to rest properly.
  • Practice fitness smarts in the kitchen – You can’t expect your body to change for the better if you’re feeding it the wrong kind of food. A balanced diet with fruit, veggies, dairy, carbs, protein, and so on is essential to providing fuel for your body. Ditch the processed foods and stick with lean meats, fresh produce and high-quality dairy products.
  • Don’t forget to have fun – Developing a habit you will stick with will make your success rate much higher. Forget the gym and head outside. Go for a hike or a bike ride. See what nature has to offer while you help your body become healthier.
  • Quit tracking every single calorie – Any time you restrict yourself, you create a monster. Taking something away cold turkey invokes negative feelings which can lead to binging. Keeping a food journal is a great way to see what you’re eating every day, but keep it simple.

Being healthy is something that takes time and effort. It won’t happen overnight, but it will eventually happen if you keep working at it. Hopefully these tips will help keep you motivated to keep working hard.

Don’t let wrinkles ruin your day

No one likes a wrinkle, on their face or their favorite silk blouse. As we age, our skin changes and if we’re not careful, we could start to show a lot more of those pesky wrinkles. But wrinkles aren’t a given as we get older. With a little genetic luck and some personal care, you can avoid those dreaded lines. Here are a few tips for maintaining flawless skin.

Have you noticed that when wrinkles develop, it happens a lot around your eyes? That happens when a constant repetitive motion causes the muscles in the face to develop which leaves behind wrinkles. When you squint your eyes, the skin wrinkles. If you keep doing it, the wrinkles will stay even when the muscles aren’t contracting.

The skin around your eyes is some of the most delicate on your body and needs to have special care. Rubbing your eyes roughly can stretch the skin and can break down collagen and elastin, leaving wrinkles. The same happens if you stretch the skin around your eyes to apply makeup. Our best advice is to leave the skin around your eyes alone as much as possible.

The sun is public enemy #1 when it comes to causing wrinkles. You should be wearing sunscreen every day, regardless of the weather or season. You don’t need to slather on SPF 100 or anything for incidental sun exposure, like when you walk from your car to a building. For women, find a foundation that has sunscreen in it. For men, use your favorite sunscreen after you shower.

Did you know smoking can cause wrinkles and serious skin damage, not to mention all the other health problems it brings along? Nicotine restricts the blood vessels in your skin, which starves your skin of oxygen and helpful nutrients. And then there is the smoke, which contains more than 4,000 chemicals, none of which are good for you or your skin.

We can’t control aging, but we can certainly control how we look doing it. Don’t let wrinkles and saggy skin make you look old and haggard. Along with these tips, be sure to use a retinol product, which helps minimize fine lines and wrinkles. Show those wrinkles who is in charge and send them back to where they came from.

Top tips for a healthy BBQ

Lawn chairs, fresh-cut grass and crackling meat on the grill. Soon barbeque season will be in full swing! Even if you’re fully committed to your health goals, there’s no reason you can’t join in on the summer fun. Just follow these handy tips for having a healthy barbeque.

1. Rethink the bun.

Bread can weigh your meal down and add extra calories to your burger. Try using crunchy romaine or a portabello mushroom to wrap your patty instead.

2. Satisfy your sweet tooth.

An ice cream sundae may be inviting on a warm summer evening, but there’s a better way to get your sugar fix. Chow down on summer fruits like watermelon and pineapple to get a sweet dose of nutritious fiber.

3. Stay away from the ice cooler.

Barbeques offer many drink options: beer, soda, punch – all of which pose a problem for those trying to lose weight. Additionally, the heat can leave you dehydrated, and these beverages won’t do much to help with that. Stick with water, and flavor it with fruit for a fun twist.

4. Control portion sizes.

Everything is good in moderation. As a general guide, your meat serving should be the size of a deck of cards, starchy sides may equal one baseball and any dressing or spread should be equivalent to the size of your thumb. One portion size you don’t have to worry about – veggies. Pile as many fresh veggies as you like on your plate. As a bonus tip – if you eat your veggies first, you may find you are not hungry for those dishes enjoyed best in moderation.

5. Have some outdoors fun.

When you’re done eating, go play ball with the children or round up your friends for a game of horseshoes. You’ll stop yourself from snacking on the leftovers and burn some calories – not to mention, enjoy the weather and have a little fun!

Tips for staying healthy and safe during exercise

Pushing your body hard and making it better helps you be healthy and happy. But when you push yourself too hard, you can cause injuries. When you get injured, you run the risk of doing even more damage if you don’t take it easy and allow the injury to heal. Here are some tips for staying in the game.

Using the right equipment is essential to staying healthy. It might sound complicated, but it’s really quite simple. When your athletic shoes wear out, instead of continuing to use them, replace the shoes and opt for a style designed for the activity you’re doing. The right shoes provide the right kind of support which will minimize the chance of sprains, strains and muscle tears.

You can’t expect to go from not being active to completing a marathon. It takes time to train your body and work up to that kind of level of exertion. The best thing you can do is to keep training, adding cardiovascular exercise, strength training and stretching. Start slow and eventually work your way up to at least 30 minutes a day.

You need to take care of your body so it can take care of you. That means making sure you drink enough water and stay hydrated. Water helps keep your joints lubricated and helps lower your body temperature, which will help you avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Be sure to start each exercise session with proper stretching and finish up with a cool down period. The most important thing you can do is listen to your body. Take care to not overexert yourself so that you don’t hurt yourself. The key to exercise is to keep going and build on the steps you’ve already taken. But an injury can derail that progress. Stay safe and keep your body healthy so you can live the life you’ve always dreamed about.

Top tips for taking your training outdoors

It’s the time of year when days are longer and warmer, which could be good news for your health goals. It’s time to change up your routine and get out of the gym. There are several advantages to training outside, and these tips can help you make the most of your workout.

Safety First

Whether you’re taking your workout to the busy streets or finding a more secluded running trail, it’s important to keep safety in mind. The best precaution you can take is telling someone where you plan on working out and when you expect to return. Also remember to be aware of your surroundings, run against traffic and only use one headphone when listening to music.

Stay Hydrated

Unlike at the gym, there’s no water fountain just around the corner. On top of that, you’ll likely be sweating more due to the heat. Your body can’t perform at its best without proper hydration, so pack a water bottle along with you during your workout.

Take Advantage of the Terrain

The outdoors offer plenty of ways to take your workout up a few notches. Find a few muscle-building hills to climb or burn extra calories by jogging along a beach. You could also incorporate swimming, kayaking or other water sports into your workout routine.

Track Your Mileage

Without the tools that a treadmill can give you, it might be hard to figure out how far you’ve ran. To keep track of your miles, which in turn helps you reach your goals, download an app that will monitor you workout. Check out the MapMyFitness or iFit Outdoor apps.

Fresh air and a fresh workout routine could be exactly what you need to reach your health goals. Consider these tips and plan a workout in the great outdoors sometime soon. It could be a fun and challenging experience to add to your weekly exercise plan. See you on the trails!

Step into spring

Have you ever heard someone say that a sedentary lifestyle is equivalent to cigarettes for today’s generation? We might have wised up to the dangers of smoking, but our nearly 24/7 addiction to electronics, especially during the winter months, takes a toll of its own.

Luckily spring, with its blue skies and warming sunshine, offers the perfect opportunity to reverse the trend. In short, it’s time to get out there and get walking—still one of the greatest exercises around. Here’s some more good news: You don’t have to zone in on 10,000 steps a day to make a difference.

So pull on a comfortable pair of shoes, warm up with a few stretches and step out. Here are a few tips for working more walk into your routine.

  1. Find out where you are right now by counting how many steps you take in an average day, then look for ways to increase that number by 500. Maybe this is when you start parking at the farthest corner of the parking lot, whether at work or while out shopping. Enlist the family and head out for a walk after dinner. Find a walking buddy and do a friend a favor, encouraging each other along the way.
  2.  Work little pockets of activity into your day. At least once an hour, get up and walk around. Set a timer, if needed, to break the hypnotic hold of the computer screen. Have you ever started a project in the morning, only to realize later that hours have passed without notice? This isn’t good for your health.
  3. Find additional structure. Walking videos are available in which a trainer leads you through a variety of paces and motions. If that’s what works for you, go for it. Your body will thank you, and it will repay your efforts with good health.