Fitness & Wellness

How To Simply Cut Out Junk Food

How To Simply Cut Out Junk Food

If you want to lose weight, learning how to simply cut out junk food is the first place to start. Almost everyone knows what junk food is. It’s those sugary snacks close to the checkout counter, the salty crisp chips piled high in a prominent place in the store and foods in the frozen food department, bakery and even in the soft drink area, although most people fail to identify soft drinks as food. They’re all empty calories that are specifically created to tickle our taste buds with just the right blend of sugar, salt and flavors that make us want more. Junk food may contain ingredients that actually make you hungrier and can cause weight gain.

Switch to whole foods and those less processed.

Whole foods are foods closest to their natural state, such as fresh vegetables and fruits. If you read the label and there’s more than just two or three ingredients, it’s probably highly processed. You can create your own treats like trail mix, by purchasing bulk items such as nuts and seed, with a bit of dried fruit for the sugar. Other treats can include raw veggies and healthy dip or sliced fresh fruits with a bit of nut butter on the slices. Have them ready for those times you need something sweet and quick.

Create a vision for the eye that won’t create an abundance of calories.

Visual appeal is part of marketing junk foods, but you can use that to your benefit. Did you know that most people like foods that have three colors and three visible ingredients? That trail mix is starting to look a lot better, but a plate with celery, carrots and red pepper slices with a dopple of white dip will do too. Who wouldn’t love cantaloupe, honey dew and watermelon kabobs ready to eat in the refrigerator. When you plan ahead, it helps you stick to your weight loss plans.

Breaking any habit takes at least three weeks.

You can control what you have in your home, so plan ahead and you’ll beat the junk food habit. Create healthy snack menus and make them up ahead of time. Make a grocery list, so you won’t have to “shop,” which can lead to craving and impulse buying. Give yourself at least a month and then identify whether you still have cravings for sweet, salty, fried or other empty calorie foods.

  • Know your weaknesses. Is there a time of day you crave certain foods or emotional triggers? Do you crave some foods more than others?
  • When you find you have a craving for your favorite junk food, get busy. Even if you have to take a walk or run up and down the stairs, keep your body moving. Grab a healthy snack if it’s real hunger.
  • Give up your daily soft drink, even if it’s a diet soft drink. One study showed that diet soda puts extra inches on the waistline. That’s visceral fat, the most dangerous type to your health.
  • If you break down and sneak a snack, chew it slowly. Masticate it until there’s no evidence left that it was once whole and don’t take another bite until you swallow it. Eating slower will let you really taste the snack and not just gobble it for the memory of how it tastes. You’ll eat less, the slower you eat.

Healthy Weekend Activities

Healthy Weekend Activities

While it might not sound like a great activity, getting up at your normal time and getting weekend tasks completed will not only free you for fun things, but also maintain your biological clock and sleep schedule. It gives you time for other healthy weekend activities that will help you stay fit, while having fun. Shifting your sleep schedule just one hour increases the risk of heart disease by 11 percent.

Plan something outdoors.

Whether it’s a walk to the park with the kids, a day of hiking, bike riding or sight seeing walk to appreciate the historic buildings on Main Street, plan to spend some time outdoors in the sun. It’s the best if you go to a natural setting and soak in the atmosphere Mother Nature provides. Studies show that spending time in natural settings makes people happier and soaking in the sun’s rays boosts the production of vitamin D. If you live near the shoreline or on a lake and the weather is right for it, spending time near water can also be quite relaxing.

Plan meals ahead and spend a few hours cooking them for the whole week.

Unless you love cooking, it may not sound like much fun, but it can be. Get the kids involved to make a week’s worth of make ahead healthy meals, so all you have to do during the work week is heat them. It may take a few hours, but you’ll only have to clean the kitchen once and you’ll be done. Not only will it save you time, it will save you money too, especially if you’re often tempted to pick up carry out. If you love experimenting with healthy cooking, this could be the time to get adventurous.

Enjoy everything that McKinney has to offer.

Whether you take a walk around town or go visit Chestnut Square, there’s a lot to see in McKinney. Too often we spend vacations visiting other towns for their historic value, when there’s plenty of that close to home. Take the kids to the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary where they can get in touch with nature, walk the butterfly and bird gardens and learn as everyone gets exercise on the paths.

  • Enjoy sprucing up the house. Nothing makes you feel better than painting a room, creating a garden or organizing a room. Pick just one project that can be done in a day.
  • Save one day for fun. If you spend all day Saturday, fixing meals, cleaning and doing chores, make sure Sunday is strictly fun for you and the family.
  • Take some time to get together with others. Socializing is important to your health. It lowers the risk of depression and helps improve mental skills.
  • Make one day a non-tech day. Put your computers away and turn off the TV. Those iPhones should be shut off too. Spend a day with just conversation and family fun.

Breakfast Is The Most Important

Breakfast Is The Most Important

You were probably raised to believe, or at least heard, that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That’s somewhat true for children. Studies show that the first meal of the day creates the energy for improved cognitive performance and better focus and task performance throughout the day. However, when kids reach the age of 18, it’s a toss up whether a hearty breakfast actually helps the individual and it becomes more a question of personal preference. People whose daily routine causes them to eat later at night often find they aren’t hungry for breakfast. Rule of thumb, if you want to lose weight, pay attention to your hunger pangs. Don’t eat if there aren’t any. However, be ready with a healthy snack for those times you need sustenance.

There are reasons to eat in the morning.

If your workout is in the morning, you’ll want to make sure you have something ready to eat before you continue the day. The same is true for anyone with diabetes or other chronic health conditions. The food doesn’t have to be the farmhouse breakfast of flapjacks, eggs, grits, potatoes and bacon. In fact, that’s probably what you don’t want to eat. You’re not going out to work in the fields, but going to the office. Choose healthy foods and if they aren’t traditional breakfast foods, it’s okay.

A healthy breakfast does provide a good amount of nutrients.

Even though some people can function well without eating a healthy breakfast, that doesn’t mean that a healthy breakfast doesn’t have its benefits. Not only do you get valuable nutrients, they’re spread out throughout the day. This is ideal since it sustains higher blood levels. Even though adults don’t have to perform in school, good cognitive functioning is still important. Breakfast can boost your performance. It also can give a boost to your energy level.

Some studies link a good breakfast to better health.

There are contradictory studies about breakfast, as noted previously. Some of them declare that unless you’re young, you don’t need to eat it. Others link a good breakfast to lower levels of LDL cholesterol—bad cholesterol—to a healthy breakfast. It could be the oatmeal that helps with that. Some show that it helps keep weight in check and lowers the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

  • Skipping breakfast can interfere with the fasting and eating cycle of the body. It might make the difference between having the energy to think clearly or have muscle power when you to the most.
  • As noted earlier, certain foods, such as oatmeal, that are relegated to breakfast may have benefits no matter when they’re eaten. If you skip breakfast, consider adding them to your diet later in the day.
  • While one study showed that eating a breakfast lowered the risk for coronary heart disease by 27%, another showed that a high fat breakfast increased the risk of atherosclerosis. Be careful what you eat.
  • Eating breakfast has been linked to weight loss. Effectively, when you eat breakfast, you’re giving your body the sign that you have ample food for the day, so it can burn those calories. Studies show that people who skip breakfast have a higher weight compared to height, even though they eat fewer calories.

Is Cardio Making You Fat?

Is Cardio Making You Fat?

There are many schools of thought when it comes to the best type of exercise to shed pounds. At one time, cardio was the exercise of choice to lose weight, now some are touting the belief that cardio actually adds pounds. Is cardio making you fat? There are some good reasons that cardio may not be the best route to take if you’re trying to lose weight. There are also ways to use cardio and maximize its fat burning capabilities.

As with all types of exercise, the more you do it, the more efficient your body becomes.

Efficiency is a good thing at work, but not when you’re trying to shed fat and burn calories. In fact, it can cause you to burn fewer calories. If you’re using one type of aerobic exercise for your fitness workout, such as running, bike riding or rowing, and doing the same thing each day, you’re body becomes efficient. What burned hundreds of calories initially, now burns far less. You’ll be working longer to get the most benefits because your body adapts.

Your body produces a stress reaction when you put on your running shoes.

While the timing of that stress reaction may not be exactly when you put on your running shoes, but rather based on when you run or do your cardio, it does occur. In fact, some trainers recommend you vary your running time to avoid it. The stress reaction spews out cortisol, which increases your insulin levels. That increase not only makes you crave sugar, insulin is the fat storage hormone that packs that fight on your body.

Aerobic exercise doesn’t differentiate in the type of fuel it uses.

Your body has options when it comes to converting materials into usable fuel. It can choose to burn your fat or burn your muscle mass. When you do aerobic exercise, it could be either one. However, with strength training, it’s building the muscles so it tends to use fat. Strength training burns more fat while also building muscle mass and is the preferred method to aerobic exercises. When you burn muscle mass, it can interfere with the weight loss process and even make you gain weight because muscle tissue requires more calories to maintain than fat tissue does.

  • Studies show that after a run, most people eat 100 calories more than they burn.
  • The speed of your cardio makes a difference. You need to make it super fast or slow, the middle of the road actually puts on weight. Walking on an incline is one way to take it slow.
  • Some strength training can also double as cardio. Think kettlebells or other types of exercise that provide multiple benefits.
  • Including cardio, strength, balance and flexibility training in your workout is important for total fitness. While doing cardio exclusively may affect your weight loss goals, combining it with other strength training provides an afterburn that keeps your furnace burning extra calories after the workout ends.

Grains Are The Hardest To Digest

Grains Are The Hardest To Digest

It’s a known fact that grains are the hardest to digest. After all, they’re nothing more than seeds. Seeds are meant to be tough and durable. Seeds are often scattered by birds or animals in their excrement after they eat the fruit of the plant. If they can go through the digestive system of animals without being harmed or digested, why would you think your digestive system is any different? Of course, we grind and mill the grains until it’s flour, so that should make them easier to digest, right? The answer is no. There are other reasons that grains are hard to digest.

Grains contain more complex proteins, especially whole grains.

The simpler the food, the easier it is to digest and absorb. Simple sugars are the easiest for the body to break down, the more complex a food source, the more difficult it is to digest. Gluten, one of the new buzz words that have manufacturers putting gluten free on chips, as though they’re a health food, is one of the hardest to break down and through the years of research, the gluten in grains has increased.

Your body needs enzymes for digestion and other processes.

Enzymes act as catalysts for digestion. Without enzymes, no digestion can occur. Grains contain enzyme inhibitors to prevent plants from growing until the conditions are right. Since seeds, such as grains, don’t want to sprout without adequate water and good conditions, the inhibitors help them, but they play havoc with your digestion. You need enzymes to start the digestive process.

Your digestion is affected by the phytic acid in grains.

If you eat too many grains, it could affect the absorption of minerals, since grains contain phytic acid that prevents the absorption of minerals in the small intestines. That can lead to bone loss and is bad for all your organs and cells. Effectively, the way grains are processed for commercial use doesn’t eliminate the problem and can cause digestive problems. One of those is leaky gut, which rears its ugly head in many ways.

  • Disaccharides are in grains and hard to digest. Fermenting, soaking and sprouting is one way to make them easier to digest and help digestion. They also help with other problems from grains, such as removing the reducing the phytic acid.
  • Unfortunately, most grains aren’t prepared properly to remove the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors when used for commercial use. This explains one of the reasons for the rise in many food related conditions.
  • Whether or not Leaky Gut is real or not doesn’t matter. It’s a common practice to use an elimination diet to find offending foods that lead to health problems, which is one step in identifying the cause of leaky gut. If you’re having digestive problems, remove grains from your diet for a while to see if it helps.
  • Some grains are harder to digest than others. For instance, wheat has more gluten, raw grains—like any raw seeds—are difficult to process and easy to digest quinoa—which isn’t really a grain—needs adequate cooking to make it digestible.

Build Muscle And Lose Fat

Build Muscle And Lose Fat

Many people who want to lose weight, don’t want to lose muscle mass, or at least they shouldn’t want to lose it. That’s because the more muscle tissue you have, the easier it is to lose weight. Don’t worry, you can build muscle and lose fat while doing it. You can also shed those unwanted pounds at the same time and create a body environment that will keep off weight permanently.

Eat healthy.

It sounds like the same old advice and it actually is, but it doesn’t make it any less true. That’s because eating healthy helps you lose weight and build muscle mass. Protein is important when you’re trying to build muscles, so make certain you eat an adequate amount of lean protein from plant or animal sources. Animal sources include lean chicken, beef, fish and turkey. Plant sources include beans, tofu, nuts or seeds. To maximize the benefits of the plant protein, soak, ferment or sprout them first.

Focus on the right type of exercise.

If the only type of exercise you’re doing is aerobic, you’ll burn fat, but you’ll also burn muscle tissue at the same time. While aerobic exercise is important to endurance for the best results for weight loss, use strength building exercise. It builds muscle tissue, burns a high amount of calories and burns fat. Strength training also helps you prevent pounds from returning since it builds muscles. Muscle tissue requires more calories to maintain than fat tissue does.

Don’t spend more than an hour in a workout.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work hard. In fact, when you’re in the gym you’ll boost your muscle building activity if you work at a more difficult pace, with shorter breaks between exercises. If you want to increase your activity, do it by increasing the amount of weight you lift or the number of reps. Those all help build muscle tissue, while also burning calories in the process. Spending more time working out doesn’t get more results after the first hour.

  • Get adequate sleep. The body converts fat into the energy it uses during sleep. When you get the right amount of sleep, you’ll have the energy to work harder in the gym and won’t be tempted by sugary treats to raise your energy level.
  • Stay hydrated. Not only does it help you stay active and have the energy you need to workout, you may avoid the problem of eating when in reality you’re just thirsty.
  • Combine some fat burning foods into your meal plans. Not only is high protein food fat burning, it also helps build muscle mass.
  • Don’t get discouraged by the scales if weight loss is part of the goal. Sometimes weight loss doesn’t show on the scales when you’re building muscle tissue. Make shedding inches a goal too.

What Is So Wrong With Grains

What Is So Wrong With Grains

Everyone has an opinion when it comes to food and what’s good for you. Luckily, most of those opinions match. However, with the Paleo diet becoming popular and gluten intolerance becoming better known, many people feel there’s something wrong with grains in your diet, while others say it’s one of the food groups necessary for good health. If you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, eating grains is definitely not good for you, but otherwise, it’s open for debate.

The question is—Is it the grain that’s bad or the processing of the flour?

So much has changed since grain was first introduced into the diet. In fact, even the grain has changed. Spelt, Kamut, Einkorn are earlier forms of wheat. These early forms of wheat, like Einkorn, have two sets of chromosomes and a naturally low content of gluten compared to today’s wheat. Not only is the wheat different, it’s milled differently and the end results has little or no nutritional value. In fact, even though they’re supplemented with extra nutrients they still lack many found in grain before the milling process. The processing strips most of the thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin, pyridoxine (B6), pantothenic acid, vitamin E, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, sodium, chromium, manganese, iron, cobalt, zinc, copper and molybdenum. It also wipes out almost 16% of selenium. That makes it a relatively empty food source, providing mostly calories. To make matters worse, the soil is being depleted of nutrients, so the grain doesn’t start as nutrient rich.

Not all grains are wheat. Oats have many benefits.

Not only do oats help you lose weight, they are filling, just as all grains are. Unless you’re gluten intolerant, there’s no direct evidence that grains eaten in moderation are really bad for you. Even though most strict Paleo diet enthusiasts won’t admit it, the caveman probably ate some grains. There is evidence of grain starch on grinding tools dating back as far a 30,000 years ago. Grains have nutrients that can prevent a number of diseases but you have to choose your grain carefully and avoid highly processed grains.

The real evil isn’t grain, but all the other ingredients it mixes with to create the food.

While eating more grain than necessary for a balanced diet can lead to weight gain, most of the problem from grain comes from the processed fats and sugars it’s mixed with to create the product you eat. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, don’t put the food in your mouth. Don’t eat too many grains, no matter how good they are for you. They are a great source of calories and that can cause excess weight gain.

  • When you eat, eat sensibly. A well balanced, healthy diet will help you lose weight without having to give up a major food group. Make smart choices, such as opting for brown rice instead of white rice for increased nutrition and lower calories.
  • Sprouting seeds may be a good route to getting grain intake and provide more nutrients in the process. The sprouting increases the vitamin B, C folate, fiber and amino acids in the grain and reduces the potential for protein sensitivities.
  • If you’re having problems when you eat grain, you could have a food sensitivity. Remove it from your diet for a while and see if you feel better, then slowly reintroduce it to see if there’s a change.
  • Almond and coconut flour are an alternative to grain flour if you’re sold on the fact that grain is bad for your health.

What Is Functional Fitness

What Is Functional Fitness

What is functional fitness? Functional fitness is what ensures you won’t be knocked out of commission from lifting a lightweight box or a small child. It’s being fit enough to do normal activities without worrying about injury or pulling muscles. It helps build balance and coordination with muscle groups, plus makes your muscles stronger. It improves your range of motion and helps prevent muscle and joint injuries in the process.

Functional fitness training works your whole body and gets muscles ready for everyday movements.

Unlike some workouts that are designed specifically to build muscles or help you shed pounds, functional fitness training prepares you to safely do every day tasks, whether at home, playing sports or at work. It causes you to use several different muscle groups at the same time and helps build core strength and stability. Many of the exercises you already do are functional fitness exercises. Squats can build muscle tissue but it also can help you sit down or get up from a chair.

Core training can also be functional fitness training.

No matter how you train, if you’re doing some form of core training or exercising several groups of muscles at once, you’re probably already doing some functional fitness training even though it’s not labeled that. No matter what your age, working out gives you a better chance of staying healthy and avoiding injury throughout your life. People who greatly benefit from functional fitness training can be of any age, but it’s even more important as you age. It can help people live on their own longer and also help prevent falls and injury.

There are many places to get functional fitness training.

Most gyms have a program that promotes functional fitness, even if it’s not called that. Kettlebells, exercise balls and weights are often incorporated into the training, since they work many body parts at once and create synergy. The fitness ball is extremely good for core and balance training, too. If you specifically want this type of training, a personal trainer can help you by created a program specifically for your needs.

  • An exercise for functional fitness normally works several joints and muscles at once, rather than focusing on a smaller area. Instead of working just the muscles in the calf, it works the whole leg and hip.
  • Functional fitness can improve balance and reduce the risk of falls. That makes it exceptionally good for older individuals.
  • If you’re out of shape or have physical limitations, check with your health care professional first before starting a functional fitness program. Also make certain you let the personal trainer know about those limitations.
  • Functional fitness improves strength, plus improve your power, besides improving balance and flexibility.

Are Hormones Affecting Your Weight Loss

Are Hormones Affecting Your Weight Loss

Are hormones affecting your weight loss? The answer is yes and no. It all depends on your body and all the factors contributing to weight gain or plateauing. That’s probably not the answer you wanted to read, but it’s honest. Sometimes hormones do interfere with shedding extra pounds. You’ll be amazed at which hormone does it, especially if you’re going through menopause, where your hormone levels are dropping daily.

Lower estrogen levels don’t ensure you won’t gain weight.

Menopause and perimenopause are times when you least expect higher estrogen levels to cause you to gain weight, but it may be exactly when it happens. While your estrogen levels are dropping, so are your progesterone levels. If you end up with your progesterone levels dropping faster than your estrogen levels, you have estrogen dominance. A higher level of estrogen can be part of the reason for weight gain. This dominance can occur at any time in your life, not just at menopause.

Other hormones play a role in weight gain.

Besides estrogen dominance, there are three other hormones you need to consider leptin, insulin and cortisol. These also affect weight gain and the area where you put on the weight. You may immediately have thought of sex hormones like estrogen, but leptin, insulin and cortisol are also extremely important. Cortisol is a stress hormone and too much of it can cause fat to build on the abdomen—the dreaded belly fat. Leptin comes from fat cells and it tells the body we’re full. Excessive leptin leads to leptin resistance where that message never gets through to the body. Insulin is created by the pancreas and is responsible for regulating blood sugar. Out of whack, it can make it more difficult to lose weight.

You can help regulate these hormones.

If you have high levels of cortisol, it may mean you’re often stressed out and don’t get proper exercise. Exercise burns off the hormones of stress, including cortisol. In fact, exercise is also good in regulating insulin levels, too. Strength-building exercises and mild cardio is good to help balance all the hormones in your body. Mild cardio includes walking,swimming or riding a bike. Take it slowly at first and build up to more rigorous exercise as you hormone levels normalize.

  • Eat healthier, consume less red meat and avoid caffeine. Healthy fat is important and high sugar products should be eliminated from your diet. Make certain you eat a wide variety of foods to ensure you have all the necessary nutrients.
  • Get plenty of sleep. The body regulates hormones during sleep. Lack of sleep, even for one night can throw your hormones out of whack.
  • Even if you eat well, you may need to supplement. Consider taking a B vitamin, magnesium, D3 and add some bone broth for extra collagen and nutrients in your diet.
  • Address the health of your gut and the bacteria in it. If your digestive system is out of whack, it affects your whole body.

Best Wintery Date Nights

Best Wintery Date Nights

While it’s way too cold to go on a moonlit boat ride in the winter, there are still a lot of opportunities for great date nights that don’t involve a movie or dinner. Some of the best wintery date nights are free and give a great opportunity to get to know one another better or reignite the spark that brought you together in the first place. You can still bundle up on our winter nights and set out under the stars with a hot cup of coffee or cocoa and talk about anything and everything, even though boating on water may be a bit too chilly.

Let’s get active!

Whether you decide to go for an indoor rock climb or do some indoor scuba diving, you can have an active date. It’s fun for both short term and longer term relationships. Taking a long brisk walk to a favorite restaurant, have a nice meal and walk home, or go for an afternoon walk in the woods with a basket full of healthy foods for a bite along the way. Wait for a sunny day for the picnic. It can be a fun impromptu date night. Indoor ice skating is also fun.

Make a romantic and healthy dinner together.

Find a few recipes you’d like to try and pick the best ones with your significant other. Shop together for the fresh ingredients, which can be a fun date in itself, especially at a farmer’s market where you know the food is best. Don’t forget to get fresh herbs and all the spices you need. Most healthy dishes have a few more of those, which helps reduce the amount of salt and sugar in the dish. The cooking can be fun and eating it by candlelight sets the mood for the rest of the evening.

Make a date night a home project.

These can be fun and leave you with something special for your home. Of course, this type of date night is only for couples that actually live together. Don’t make the project your normal type, like cleaning out a room or something that looks too much like work. Make it fun, such as painting a room or creating a piece of furniture for the home. It can be especially good if you both have office jobs. You’ll look forward to doing something more tangible where you can see the results. You can make it a two date night project, one to plan and get the materials and the other to do the project.

  • Go to a sporting event and be a spectator, cheering on your favorite team for the win.
  • Enjoy the local culture, watch the stars, learn about history or watch Mother Nature at work under the sea. Museums, whether art or history, planetariums and aquariums make a wonderful date location.
  • Take a class together. You may learn a craft or how to do small repairs on your car or around the house. Find something that interests both of you and learn it together.
  • Make it game night at home. Whether you play Monopoly or other board game, make sure the kids are at Grandma’s so it’s just the two of you.