New Year’s Resolution – The Trick to Meeting Them

New Year’s Resolution – The Trick to Meeting Them

Yep, it’s that time of year again.  As soon as we make the leap over the holiday season in a couple weeks, out will come the new year’s resolution.  “It’s a new year and it’s going to be a new me!”“This is the year I am finally going to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, stop smoking, make more money…”

Not to throw a wet towel on the excitement, but the reality is that only about 8% of people ever accomplish their new year’s resolution.  And, most don’t even stay committed to their resolution after the first 30 days into the new year.  At this point you might be thinking, “I’m going to be one of those 8%,” but you’re really not clear on HOW you will be part of that elite group.  Or, you’re totally discouraged because of your past new year’s resolution failures and so you aren’t going to bother making one. 

Before you charge ahead or give up, read on and I’ll give you 3 tricks of the trade for achieving your resolution.  And yes, you NEED to write things down in whatever medium you prefer.

First things first. What’s your resolution?  Have that in mind.

Trick # 1: Answer the Question, “Why Is This Your Resolution?”

This is trick of the trade #1 for a reason. It’s the first and most critical thing to ask and answer for yourself.  Too often we make a resolution because it’s the thing to do.  Everyone around you is making them. Gyms drop their membership and/or initiation prices.  You are inundated with sales on dieting programs and all sorts of other things.  But, if your why is just the thing to do and it isn’t important enough to you, you will fail! 

Let’s look at one of the most popular new year’s resolutions, to lose weight.  You may want to lose weight, but why?  Ask yourself “why” at least 3 times, each with a different answer.  Dig deeper than “it’s healthier.”  For example, “I want to lose weight.” 1) Why? “I want to look great in my clothes.” 2) Why? “I think people would take me more seriously at work.”  3) Why? “I’d have more confidence in myself.”  Now you see that it isn’t about just looking good, it’s about being a person that is confident.  What could this confidence in yourself bring?  A promotion, motivation to begin a new career, a happier marriage, meeting someone…?

Trust me, if you can’t come up with a bottom line answer that makes you feel good, then it will be an uphill battle to accomplish your new year’s resolution.

Trick # 2: Ditch Your Resolution! Have A Goal Instead.

This may sound like the same thing, but they are vastly different.  A resolution means you resolve to do such and such.  “I resolve to lose weight this year.”  Great!  Now what?  How are you going to do it?  Exactly when are you going to do it?  Resolutions are vague while goals have specificity.  A goal gives you direction, a sort of roadmap to follow.  Using the “I want to lose weight” example, your goal must be:

Specific…specifically how much weight do you want to lose?

Measurable…easy enough with a scale

Actionable…what are you going to do (i.e. exercise x days/week; cut xx calories/day)?

Realistic…are you giving yourself enough time to achieve it? (Realistic weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week.)

Timely…when do you want to lose the weight by?

If you really want to increase your chances of success, think in quarters of the year instead of a whole year at once.  Start your new year by creating a much smaller “New Quarter Goal” rather than a year goal.  This will seem easier to achieve  and give you confidence.  And you can make quicker changes if something isn’t working.  Once one quarter has ended you’ll make a new goal for the next quarter based upon your progress to date. 

What if by doing it this way, you ended up losing 15 pounds by the end of the year instead of the 20 pounds you really wanted?  You’d still feel really good!  You will have made fantastic progress and be confident you could keep the weight you lost off.

Trick #3: Schedule Time to Spend on Meeting Your Goal

Bottom line, if you are really serious about meeting your goal, you need to know what you are going to do and when you are going to work on it.  Each Sunday, look at your calendar and plan out your week.  For example, if weight loss is your goal, you need to block out times you will exercise that week.  This simple action works for anything you want to accomplish, whether it’s the one thing you have to get done that week or you want to spend uninterrupted time with your family or friends. 

So, be in that 8% of people that accomplish their new year’s resolution!  Just remember…

  • Know why the resolution is important to you,
  • Turn your resolution into a goal and start the new year by creating a much smaller “New Quarter Goal” to increase your chances of success, and
  • Set aside time to work towards your goal.

Goals or Daily Habits: Which is More Important?

Without goals you will have difficulty achieving a significant level of success.  This stands for anything you really want, whether it is health related like losing weight or career related such as becoming a CEO.  Without goals you don’t have a road ahead of you to follow.  If you don’t know where you are going how are you going to get there?

But, your goals are worthless.  They REALLY don’t matter.  It’s just a fantasy, a story of desire you tell yourself, unless…

UNLESS your daily habits are 100% congruent with your goals.  So, let’s look at daily habits. 

Let’s say one of your goals is to run a marathon in 6 months.  Great!  Your daily habits are as follows: 5-6 hours of sleep, run no more than 7 miles/skip workouts, poor eating habits. 

Results: Failure, or worse, serious injury trying to finish the marathon.  So, what did it matter what your goals were if your daily habits didn’t match? 

This is not to say you have to be perfect every single day.  You are human after all.  A slip up in your daily habits or a day off will not deep six your goals.  But, that can’t become your reality or you may as well have never made the goals in the first place.

How can you make your daily habits match your goals?

First…ask yourself what you need to do differently each day to make your goals a reality.  For example, if one of your goals is to lose weight, do your daily habits include exercising at a specific time and eating healthy meals?

Second…be honest with yourself.  Are you cheating and consuming more calories too often?  Are you skipping too many workouts, are they of a high enough intensity?  Do you need the help of a fitness professional or dietician?  Are your daily habits really matching your goals?

Third…make yourself accountable.  Whether you do this daily or weekly, you need to evaluate if what you’re doing is getting you closer to your goals.  If not, what changes do you need to make to your daily habits?  If it helps, have an accountable partner you check in with at least weekly.

So, which is more important, goals or daily habits? 

Goals are important to know where you are going.  Daily habits are important in getting you there.  Goals don’t mean squat if your daily habits don’t match up with meeting those goals.  So, if you want to make your goals a reality, your daily habits have to be the means to get you there.  Focus on the right daily habits and you will have success.

The Holiday Season is in Full Swing…How to Avoid the Overeating and Weight Gain

For many of us the holiday season is both stressful and enjoyable.  Stressful from ensuring the gifts get bought and wrapped in time, to getting those big meals cooked and on the table.  Enjoyable because it’s a festive time with pretty lights, gift giving, office celebrations, and gatherings with friends and family.

Underneath the festive nature of the holiday season lurks the overindulgence of food and disruptions to our time to exercise.  So, how can you manage your way around the food at the parties, at the holiday dinner table, and the home baked goodies in the office, so you don’t find yourself a few pounds heavier in the New Year?  Here are some tips to help you still enjoy the holidays without the guilt of weight gain.

Rather than trying to adhere to all the suggestions below, pick the 1 or 2 you can be most successful with and stick to those 80-90% of the time. 

  1. Plan ahead for the holiday parties.  There are several things that can help you navigate the food temptations at parties. 
    • Don’t arrive hungry.  This will most likely cause you to eat more and choose foods you normally wouldn’t.  Instead, eat a light protein-based snack before the party.
    • If it’s a potluck party, bring a healthy dish.  This way if the other dishes are high in fat and calories, you and the other guests have an alternative.
    • First, fill your plate with vegetables and lean meat.  Leave off the desert.  After you’ve finished your plate, wait 10-15 minutes before heading for the desert.  This will give you time to feel satiated, so when you reach for that desert you’ll be more likely to choose the one you most want.
    • If you are the host, send guests home with to-go containers of the leftovers.  If you are a guest, either take one serving of what you really want, or politely use the excuse you have too much at home and it would go to waste if you took it.

2.  Enjoy your holiday food favorites without the guilt.  At the holiday dinner table, what can you skip all together in order to enjoy one of those foods that are cooked special for the holiday?  For example, can you skip the bread, mashed potatoes, etc., that you can get any day of the year in favor of indulging in the candied sweet potatoes?

3.     Keep holiday treats and snacks out of sight.  Out of sight out of mind as they say.  To avoid mindlessly eating high calorie treats, put them in opaque containers on a higher shelf, or if they can be, freeze them in individual servings. 

4.     Stay active.  This is a busy time of the year which can easily derail any exercise routine.  Try working out first thing in the morning to avoid schedule conflicts later in the day.  If all you can spare is 10-15 minutes, you can get a quick body weight workout at home (i.e., squats, plank, push-ups, triceps dips), or take a brisk walk (or jog) in the cooler winter air.

Lastly, be realistic.  Holidays are centered around food, family and fun.  One day of splurging won’t break your fitness and nutrition efforts.  Just be careful one day doesn’t turn into many days or weeks.  Also, avoid dieting during the holidays.  It is one of the most difficult times of the year to lose any weight or weight gain with all the temptations facing you.  Focus on maintaining your weight rather than losing it with the tips provided above.

Want to Lose Weight and Perform Your Best? Avoid Telling Yourself This…

When it comes to weight loss and exercise, there is a missing ingredient in those diets and fitness routines that rarely, if ever, gets included and talked about.  And, it has a greater impact on how successful you can be reaching your weight loss and fitness goals, and being able to perform your best both professionally and personally.  That is, what you tell yourself matters.

Successfully Lose Weight and Keep it Off – Start by Eliminating These 2 Words from Your Vocabulary

Your thoughts and feelings have a great influence on how you act, or not, on something.  If you have a negative emotion towards it, say about exercising, then it’s likely you will not be rushing to do that cardio workout or pick up those weights.  This limits how often you exercise, and increases the chances you won’t lose weight or have the energy to perform your best.  Alternatively, if you have a positive emotion towards something, say eating a healthy diet, then it’s likely you will find ways to eat better more often.

But, telling yourself to be more positive likely isn’t going to solve the problem of exercising more often or eating a healthy diet.  Instead, consider the words you use.  Avoid saying these 2 words to yourself – “Should” and “Can’t,” and replace them with something different.

Why is “Should” so Bad?

Think about how it sounds, feels, or looks like when you say, “I should have exercised this week,” “I should exercise tomorrow,” “I should eat better.”  I should, I should, I should.  That word strongly implies an obligation or a sense of duty of having to do something, not out of choice.  Here’s what happens:

  • It decreases the feeling of having a personal choice, desire, and empowerment to act.
  • It’s a form of self-criticism and we feel bad about ourselves for not doing something that we know is good.
  • It decreases self-esteem, confidence, and motivation.

Contrast this with saying, “I want to exercise so I can lose weight,” “I am eating healthier (even if all you’ve done is substitute one unhealthy item for a healthier one),” “I desire to be stronger and more fit.”  Words like these are much more empowering and create a greater desire to do something that is good.

Why “Can’t” is Bad

The reason for avoiding this word is obvious.  If you tell yourself you can’t do something, well then you’ve convinced yourself you can’t.  It will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.  For example, have you ever said to yourself, “no matter how hard I try I can’t lose weight,” or “I’ve tried a handful of diets and I still can’t lose weight,” or “I can’t exercise, I’m too busy today.” 

The key is to be aware of the word when you use it.  With awareness comes change.  When you catch yourself saying “can’t,” ask yourself what you can do.  It could be as simple as, “I can eat a piece of fruit today,” or “I will get up from my desk and take a short brisk walk to get a bit of exercise and clear my head.” 

What you tell yourself matters.  It matters if you want to lose weight, be more fit, eat a healthier diet, or perform your best personally and professionally.  So, tell yourself nice things and this will increase your chances of achieving your goals.

Eliminating Foods to Successfully Lose Weight: Does It Work?

It’s probably safe to assume that most people trying to lose weight have attempted some sort of food elimination type diet to achieve it.  Whether that was through the latest fad diet or a self-attempt at eliminating foods we think or know are bad for us, it’s been a popular form of dieters in the U.S.  But, with around 70% of the U.S. adult population overweight (including those obese), it doesn’t appear elimination strategies are working.  

Let’s lay it out there.  Rarely does eliminating foods completely from your diet work in the long run.  And, eliminating some foods and micro-nutrients (carbs, fat, protein) aren’t particularly healthy no matter how badly you want to lose weight.  Rather than trying to find that perfect diet, or blaming yourself for not having the discipline to stay away from certain foods, we need to look at what happens in those great big heads of ours.  Then, just maybe, a weight loss attempt will be more successful.

The Wonders of the Human Brain…You Can Blame Your Food Problems On That If You Need a Scapegoat

Our desire for certain foods is a very complex combination of biological, cognitive and cultural factors that unconsciously affect our relationship with food.  So, instead of being in a constant battle with food, let’s understand what naturally happens around food and work with it, instead of against it. 

Neuroscientists have studied the brain’s activity in relation to food.  Do you know what draws us to sugar, besides of course the taste of it?  Dopamine.  Sugar releases dopamine, and dopamine makes us feel good.  And who doesn’t want to feel good! 

But what draws us to certain foods?  Our food preferences are actually part of our genetic make-up (biological factors).  The dominant or recessive genes associated with certain tastes determine if we can even taste it, let alone like it.  Additionally, if the food smells good to us we are more likely to want it, and if the texture is pleasing to us, (i.e., smooth, crunchy, etc.) we are more likely to consume it.  So, it’s not really all that surprising that eating something you really like gives you a sense of pleasure, and is pleasing to your palate.  That makes it difficult to eliminate it from your diet.

Then there’s how we think and feel about food (cognitive factors).  Ultimately, this is related to the decisions we make about what, and even when, to eat.  Why do you eat eggs and cereal for breakfast, rather than dinner?  Why do you eat 3 meals a day at certain times?  Why are certain foods associated with good or bad memories, or memories of childhood?  What foods conjure up feelings of reducing stress and being happy?  Exploring these questions gives an insight into such things as our eating habits and why we eat and associate certain foods with reward, comfort, or stress reduction.  Eliminating such foods will likely not change how you feel about, or desire, them.  Often depriving yourself of them results in an overindulgence later that leads to weight gain and yo-yo dieting. 

The other factor that most influences what you eat is from your culture.  Did you grow up or are you surrounded in a culture where red meat, white meat, fish, rice, potatoes, beans, or any number of other foods were/are the main components of meals?  There are traditional foods in all societies and cultures, and thus the beauty of a wide range of food options available to us.  Will eliminating these foods really limit such cultural influences drawing you to eat them?

Bottom Line on Eliminating Foods from your diet

Oftentimes the foods that we naturally love, make us feel good, and grew up around, are the ones that we try to unsuccessfully eliminate in order to lose weight.  This smacks right up against our natural and emotional desires, making it difficult to adhere to such a method of dieting.  And while short term success is possible, long term success is not because it didn’t address working with your natural inclinations or changing long term habits and/or beliefs. 

Instead, success lies in making slower changes so that you achieve eating healthy 80% of the time.  Rather than eliminate, limit unhealthy foods bit by bit and find ways to slowly replace them with healthier choices most of the time.  Over time, you may find those pounds drop off and stay off!

As with any dieting, be sure to speak with your doctor and a registered dietician to see what’s right for you.

Make Fitness a Lifestyle Instead of a Goal to be Reached

If being healthy and fit is important, why do so many of us fail at it?  It’s not from a lack of trying.  Truth is, each year consumers spend billions of dollars on weight loss products, diet programs, supplements, gym memberships, etc.  We spend this money to reach a goal of losing those 20, 30, 40…extra pounds we’ve been carrying around, getting 6-pack abs we see on TV, or being 60 and moving like a 30-year old.  

Are these goals bad or unachievable?  Of course not.  It’s important to know what you are shooting for.  But, it’s more than just about a goal.  It’s about creating a lifestyle, and it’s not as hard as you think.  In fact, you just might be more successful…Here’s why.  

What Happens When We Set a Goal?

Three unfortunate things tend to happen when we set a goal(s):

  1. We have unrealistic expectations.  Those 20+ pounds?  We try to lose them in a matter of weeks.  6-pack abs?  “My body can look like his/hers if I work hard enough.”  60 the new 30?  “All I need is that supplement.”
  2. We go to extremes, we try to do too much too fast.  We jump all in on the latest fad diet or workout trend only to exhaust ourselves, burn out, quit, and feel like a failure.
  3. We look at that goal(s) as the end all.  Once we reach it we think we are done.

Of course, as mentioned above, having a goal is important.  If you don’t know what you want to achieve, then shooting for something intangible is a sure miss.  We have to have goals.  But, if we focus more on making health and fitness a lifestyle, then our chances of not only reaching the goal, but maintaining what we achieved, are even greater.  

A Fit and Healthy Lifestyle…Yours for the Taking

Let’s look at 5 simple ways to make fitness a lifestyle.  Don’t try to do all 5 at once.  Just take one at a time until it is a part of who you are, then move on to what you think you can do next.

  1. Don’t deprive yourself of the foods you love, as it rarely lasts before you eat them again.  Instead, make them healthier.  Love pizza?  Make your own dough (it’s actually quick and easy) and load it up with more fresh vegetables than meat.
  2. Find exercise you like to do.  If you don’t like it, you won’t stick to it.  If you hate to run but love walking, make it really brisk walking to get your heart rate up.  Even consistent low intensity exercise is better than inconsistent high intensity, or worse, none at all.
  3. When you get off track, take 1 small step to get back on.  If you ate junk food today, make yourself a promise to eat 1 healthy meal tomorrow.
  4. While never easy, stop comparing yourself with someone else and how they look.  Your body is your body and it can be fit and healthy.  Our muscles aren’t built all the same and they won’t always take on the same look.  They don’t have to for you to be just as strong and healthy.
  5. Switch things up every once in a while.  Try new foods, mix up your exercise and physical activity/hobbies during the week.  You’d be surprised how this turns out to be a fun and motivating way to live a healthy, fit lifestyle.

Think about fitness as a lifestyle instead of a fixed goal to be won and done.  In the long run, it really is the key to long term success.

The One Thing Holding You Back From… (Excuses)

You want to lose weight.  You want to look and feel great all the time.  You want a profitable business/career.  You want to ditch the dieting forever.  Once you lose that weight you want to keep it off.  You want less stress and more energy.  

These are great things we all want.  Why is it so difficult then to lose that weight, or get off that dieting roller coaster, and achieve everything we want.  The answer most often lies in the excuses we tell ourselves.  

There are good reasons for not doing something we want or intend to do.  It might be an emergency or something of more importance that comes up and we have to postpone that thing we wanted/meant to do.  Any reason we give ourselves is real and valid at the time. 

What happens when we keep using these “reasons” day after day, month after month?  Sadly, these once valid reasons become the “good” excuses we have for putting off what we wanted, intended, or knew we should do.  The excuses we made were good, but they didn’t get us anywhere.

It’s safe to say all of us have used these 3 excuses at one time or another.

Excuse #1: “I Have No Time/I’m Too Busy.”

Time to get real on this excuse.  We all have 24 hours in a day…not more, not less.  People that perform at high levels of achievement don’t have any more time than the rest of us, and in fact it’s likely they are even busier.  Consider Richard Branson, Brendon Burchard, Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey…the list goes on.  What they do is make time for what is important to them, and yes their fitness and health are critical factors to their high performance.

Here are a few options for busting through the exercise time excuse:

  • Been off the exercise wagon a while?  Take 5-10 minutes each day (no more until this becomes so easy and a habit) and do something physical.  Walk, jog, do a few push-ups, crunches, stretches, etc. 
  • Exercise in the morning before your day truly becomes busy.
  • Literally schedule exercise into your day, just like you would a meeting.  If 15-minutes is all you have tomorrow, then 15-minutes it is.   

Excuse #2: “I’ve Tried [such and such] Before and It Didn’t Work.”

There are two things about this excuse.  One, maybe the diet or weight loss program you tried really didn’t work for you.  Fine, but did you try something else or just give up?  Second, maybe you had a failed attempt at losing weight or reaching whatever goal you had.  Did you get discouraged and just give up?

The biggest problem with this excuse is letting failure have its way.  Everyone fails at times.  High performers do.  The difference is they get back into the “game” quickly.

How about trying this:  Have a plan for when you do fail.  For example, 2 days in a row of skipping exercise is all I will allow myself; or if I eat poorly 1 day, the next day I’ll eat a healthy breakfast and dinner.

Excuse #3: “I Don’t Have Money To [join a gym, pay a personal trainer, buy a program].”

This excuse requires a certain amount of honesty.  Do you truly lack money to make even a small investment in your health and fitness?  Is losing weight and being fit really on the top of your list of importance?  How badly and how fast do you want to lose that weight, be stronger, more mobile…?

The key to ditching this excuse is being able to answer these questions.  Because what is important to us, we usually put our resources into and accomplish.  And while money is a legitimate concern, running or fast walking outside and doing bodyweight exercises at home are free.  Small purchases of a few key pieces of equipment to have at home can help you level up. 

Bottom Line…

Examine your reasons for skipping exercise and continuing to eat unhealthy.  Have these become excuses over time?  If so, take one excuse and make just one small change to be better.  Stick with that until it is so easy that you know you can make a second small change.  The road ahead to losing weight, feeling great and having the life you want then becomes that much easier.

Understanding the Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet, also known as the Caveman diet, has been around awhile and is still popular among some dieters and athletes.  But, is it a healthy diet and is it one that is good for you?  As with any diet, it’s important to understand what the diet is, the foods it includes, the foods it avoids, the benefits, and risks or concerns of the diet.  It’s even more important to determine if this diet is right for you by speaking with your doctor and a registered dietitian. 

What is the Paleo Diet?

The paleo diet is based on what cavemen and cavewomen are presumed to have eaten thousands of years ago.  Why eat like a caveman you ask?  The premise is that our bodies are genetically programmed to eat as our stone age ancestors did.  True or not, let’s take a look at what foods they had access to back then.

Since our stone age ancestors existed before modern agriculture became a thing, the foods they ate would have been ones they hunted and gathered for.  Wild animals, fish, and uncultivated plants, such as fruits, berries, eggs, and roots, rounded out the diet.  As such, the diet was high in protein and fiber, and low in fat.

If a food did not exist back then, it would not be an authentic paleo food item.  In modern times, we have many more cultivated healthy food choices available.  Additionally, most meats and plants are domesticated, thus making a true paleo diet difficult to follow.  What this means is, at best, a modified version of the paleo diet that is organic and gluten free would be one that a dieter could follow.  But that doesn’t alone make it good either.

Foods of the Paleo Diet

While there are many versions of the Paleo diet, with some stricter than others, below is a list that most paleo diets are made up of.

·  Grass-feed meats and poultry (versus corn fed) as the nutritional quality would be closer to what our stone age ancestors would have had available.

·  Wild-caught fish and seafood (salmon, haddock, trout, shellfish, shrimp, etc.)

·  Low carb vegetables (such as leafy greens, peppers, celery, asparagus, broccoli, cucumbers)

·  Pasture-raised eggs

·  Fruits (sometimes)

·  Tree nuts (only in moderation)

·  Raw cacao (high in polyphenol antioxidants)

·  Coconut milk

·  Organic green tea

·  Cold pressed avocado, coconut and olive oil

Foods not included in the Paleo Diet

·  Legumes

·  Grains

·  Starches (potatoes, corn, refined cereal, etc.)

·  Dairy

·  Alcohol

·  Sugar

·  Processed foods

·  Processed oils

Potential Benefits of a Paleo Diet

·  Fast weight loss

·  Improved blood markers (cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin)

·  Lower blood pressure

·  Reduced risk of chronic diseases

·  May benefit patients with type 2 diabetes

Potential Risks/Concerns of a Paleo Diet

·  Lack of energy (from carbohydrate restriction)

·  Vitamin and Mineral deficiencies (from legume and grain restriction)

·  Calcium deficiencies (from legume restriction)

·  Increased risk of chronic diseases (from legume and grain restriction)

·  Mental fatigue (from carbohydrate restriction)

·  Muscle loss (from carbohydrate restriction)

What’s The bottom line?

A well-formulated paleo diet may be beneficial for weight loss and improving overall nutritional health.  A major drawback may be the restriction of healthy legumes and grains in the diet, as well as other nutrient rich items like many fruits and vegetables.  Always seek the advice of a doctor and registered dietitian to determine if a paleo diet is good for you. 

In the long term, having a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meats, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and unprocessed foods, is easier to maintain and provides needed nutrients for optimal health.

The Home Gym Equipment Everyone Should Have

Can’t always make it to the gym?  Don’t have a gym membership?  Prefer working out at home?  If this is you, just having a few things on hand at home can help get and keep you in shape without having to give up any space to do it. Your home gym is simple (and cheap!) – elaborate is not necessary at all!

Resistance training is critical, whether you are trying to lose weight, get stronger, or get more toned.  Bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups, squats and planks are great.  But, if you want to go beyond that, you need some basic equipment at home.  And, it doesn’t have to cost you lots of money or space in the house. 

Recommended Minimum Resistance Training Equipment

The following equipment will provide you with everything you need to do your resistance workouts at home:

  • A set of exercise bands – Exercise bands provide varying degrees of resistance from very light to very heavy.  They come in both looped style and long bands with handles.  Most basic exercises can be done using these, from overhead shoulder presses to strengthening those glutes.  While you may think of these as good for beginners, there are ones on the market that provide higher resistance for intermediate and advanced exercisers as well.
  • 3 sets of dumbbells – Three is all you need, really!  A set of light, medium and heavy weights.  And, that means what is light, medium, or heavy to you personally.  Or, if you prefer the style and option of having a “one size fits all,” you can purchase one set that is adjustable to varying weights.  These tend to be a bit bulkier but offer more options for adjusting the weight as you progress.  If a “one size fits all” doesn’t appeal, you can start by just buying 1-2 sets based on your current need to help get you started.
  • Stability Ball – Often missing from a person’s workout is balance and stability training.  Athletes know the importance of this to reduce chances of injury, and be able to stay on their feet!  The same holds for the rest of us, we all need good balance and core strength to reduce the risk of injury while exercising and going about our daily lives.  There are many exercises that can be conducted using the stability ball, from ball squats to even push-ups for more advanced exercisers.

If you are an avid at home exerciser, then adding one of our favorite pieces of equipment, the Bosu Ball(R), can be useful.  This is great for increasing the level of difficulty of a workout by further challenging balance and core stability. 

This equipment is enough to ditch the excuses and get to working out!

Maybe Grab That Dark Chocolate the Next Time

It’s been widely publicized that dark chocolate may have the health benefit of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and inflammation.  With so many chocolate lovers out there, this was some great news.  Justifying eating this wonderful treat because it’s actually healthy for you!

But, are there buts to it like anything else?  Thus, deflating you yet again and steering you away from something delicious?  Maybe, maybe not.

What’s Behind the Chocolate Hype

Chocolate is derived from the cocoa bean, which is rich in antioxidant flavonoids.  Foods with antioxidant properties are wonderful to hear about.  Talk about guilt free foods! 

Antioxidant is a very broad term that refers to hundreds of substances.  The ones of most notoriety are Vitamins A, C, and E, beta-carotene, selenium, lutein, lycopene and polyphenols.  These are found in familiar foods such as berries, nuts, and beans.  Antioxidants neutralize free radicals.  Free radicals are both a natural byproduct of normal processes in our body’s cells, and from those environmental toxins we come into contact with such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet rays.  Our body’s cells naturally produce strong antioxidants, while the foods we eat supply others, such as those mentioned above.

Back to the Cocoa Bean

Remember, the cocoa bean was rich in flavonoids.  Flavonoids are a wonder of nature in that they are found only in plants, and help protect plants from those environmental toxins, fungi and microbes.  They also help the plant repair damage. 

Flavonoids have hit notoriety because of their possible medicinal use in fighting against certain types of cancers, atherosclerosis (build-up of plaque in the artery walls), and high cholesterol.  The main type of flavonoid in the cocoa bean are flavonols.  These flavonols contain antioxidant properties that may serve a role to improve blood flow and lower bad cholesterol (LDL).

Why Dark Chocolate over Milk Chocolate

Not all chocolate is created equally.  Cocoa is very pungent and bitter.  So, in order to make it taste good, most of the chocolates available on the U.S. grocery shelves are heavily processed.  The more heavily processed, the more flavonols are lost, and so it becomes just another unhealthy food to eat.

The silver lining is in the dark chocolate, and the darker the better.  It’s believed that more of the flavonols are retained during processing of dark chocolate than say, milk chocolate.  However, it all comes down to the manufacturing process, which we aren’t always privy to.  However, for now, dark chocolate appears to be the better health conscious choice.

So, when you feel you just have to treat yourself, a moderate amount of dark chocolate (one ounce) a few times a week may be a good choice.  This, along with those other flavonoid rich foods, such as berries, citrus fruits, and legumes, can round out your diet without the guilt.