Music: The Ultimate Exercise Companion


If you are thinking about beginning a weight loss  journey then you have probably heard that the exercise component of weight management is much easier done with an exercise buddy; someone who can push and support you along the way. But that buddy doesn’t have to be a person.  Music can be your workout companion. Don’t laugh, this is serious business—even scientists say so! [Read more…]

Weight Loss is Not Fat Loss, What’s the difference?

Many people who are trying to lose weight fail to make the distinction between weight loss and fat loss. A big mistake, since weight loss and fat loss are not interchangeable terms.  Misunderstanding that there is a major difference between weight loss and fat loss often leads people to fitness frustration and stagnation. In order to really achieve your optimal body and health, you need to have a proper understanding of how everything really works so let’s start by getting a better understanding of the difference between losing weight and losing fat.

Fat loss is not about how many kilos you lose, how much you weigh on the scale—fat loss is about getting rid of body fat and inches in the right places while maintaining a good muscle mass. Weight loss, on the other hand, is literally only about how much you weigh. It does not care about whether or not your body weight is made up of fat or muscle—only the kilos count.

The biggest red herring in physical fitness is the numbers on the scale. Your weight is not what defines your fitness. Muscles weigh more than fat, so sometimes you may have a lower weight but still look flabby and out of shape. Many people focus solely on their weight as a sign of their fitness progress and become exasperated that they aren’t looking any better even as their kilos go down. Some people stop focusing on building muscle mass (the right thing to do) because they see that their kilos are going up.

Both of the approaches to fitness mentioned above betray the fact that many people do not understand how their bodies work.  Your body has two stores that it uses for energy: fat and muscle. When your caloric intake goes down, your body selects one of these stores to use for energy. If you are not working to build muscle through physical fitness, your body will turn to the muscle stores for energy and leave you stuck with excess fat. Fat weighs less than muscle and so losing muscle means that you may weigh less, but still have that pesky stomach overhang.

The way to ensure that you get fit, lose fat and retain your muscle is by combining a healthy diet with regular exercise. Crash dieting is the perfect recipe for fat disaster—without the exercise it needs, your body will eat away at your muscle for energy and leave you stuck with flab (and frustrated beyond belief).  Don’t cheat by crash dieting or taking diet pills. Get fit the healthy way by working out, eating right and understanding how your body works to avoid excess fat that won’t go away.

The Yogurt Hype

If you are trying to lose weight, thinking about losing weight, or simply have an interest in nutritious eating, then you have probably come across the yogurt hype. One of the first things that health-conscious eaters seem to go for at the grocery store is the dairy aisle, with a very specific goal in mind: yogurt.

Since yogurt has become such a fad, it is importantly to take a closer look at whether or not it can fulfill its promises—one should always be a little suspicious of major trends, especially in the diet and exercise world.  Since many claim that yogurt is one of the staple, super foods in a nutritious diet, let’s see this dairy wonder food is all that it’s cracked up to be.

Experts agree that yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, protein and other nutrients. The biggest health attribute in yogurt is its probiotic nature; yogurt contains lactobacteria and other healthy bacteria that keep your body in balance.  Eating yogurt regularly also has the following probiotic benefits:

  • Improves colon health: Yogurt has lactobacteria which are bacteria that are friendly to your colon. They promote the growth of healthy bacteria and this then stops bile from being turned into carcinogenic bile acids.
  • Immunity Booster: Yogurt is a healthy immunity booster since the probiotics keep the body’s systems in balance and running smoothly.
  • Prevents Yeast Infections: Yogurt that contains live and active cultures decrease that inhibit yeast overgrowth in the body. Many people do not realize that yeast infections do not only affect women; yeast overgrowth is not restricted to female genitalia, it can actually systemically infect the entire body of both men and women. This is a condition commonly known as Candida Albicans. This condition is developed when the body is thrown off balance by way of immune disorders, heavy doses of antibiotics, or a diet high in sugar and processed foods. It can attack your blood or any other vital organ and it causes fatigue, chronic pain and severe moodiness.
  • Lowers Cholesterol: Studies have shown that yogurt lowers your blood cholesterol and improves the overall health of your circulatory system.

As you can see, yogurt plays a vital role in keeping your body in balance. It is an excellent source of important nutrients and most people do not object to eating yogurt—it is generally well-liked. Here we have a case of hype living up to its promises. However, a word of warning:  Yogurt is only as healthy as the rest of the ingredients in it. If you really want the full health power of yogurt, then you need to eat plain yogurt with no sugar or preservatives added. Eating yogurt loaded with sugar (as most flavored yogurts are, even the organic ones) will cancel out all of the health benefits, particularly its ability to combat yeast overgrowth. The good news is you can jazz up bland yogurt with slices of fruit, peanut butter or whatever other healthy thing you can find. In short: yogurt is as great as they say it is!

The Importance of Grains in a Balanced Diet

While grains stripped of their nutrients, known as refined grains, hold no nutritional value, whole grains are an especially vital part of a balanced diet. Grains are an important source of healthy complex carbohydrates as well as other crucial vitamins and minerals. Grains are a staple of a healthy diet and you should make sure that you are incorporating the right grains—whole grains—into the foods that you eat on a regular basis.

We all eat grains and lots and lots of grains at that. But many people are not always sure how to discern the healthy whole grains from other types of grains including refined grains. Let’s take the time to make the distinction—it is an important to your health and vitality.

Grains are the seeds of grasses that are used as a means of making food, most notably breads, pastas etc. They come in all shapes, sizes and consistencies. In our current food culture, there are three types of grains that you can encounter when making or buying something to eat:

  • Whole Grains: While grains are pure grains that have not been stripped of their bran or germ during the refining process known as milling. As a result, these grains are high in fiber and other nutrients like potassium, selenium and magnesium. Whole gains are extremely healthy and you should definitely make them a core part of your regular diet.  While grains are most often found in organic breads and food stores, but you can find them anywhere as long as you take the time to read the packaging.
  • Refined Grains: Refined grains are whole grains’ evil twin: they have no nutritional value and are often clumped with other health hazards such as sugars, Trans fats and preservatives. Refined grains are milled and stripped of their nutrients and end up white. White break, white flour, cakes etc. All of these things are made with refined grains.
  • Enriched Grains: Enriched grains are the in-between vis à vis whole and refined grains. They are fortified, meaning that some of the nutrients lost during milling are put back in, but not all of them. Eating enriched grains is better than eating refined grains but not nearly as good as eating whole grains—just think of it that way.

Grains provide you with the fiber and nutrients your body needs to process food and stay strong and healthy. It is important that you have them at the nexus of your diet, but only the right ones: whole grains (or if necessary, enriched grains). Refined grains are totally counterproductive to any efforts at maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Whole grain bread, quinoa, brown rice—all of these grains should be combined with proteins and vegetables to keep your feeling fresh and exhilarated!

When Is The Best Time Of Day To Exercise?

If you are trying to lose weight or are simply interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, then regular exercise is a key ingredient in their recipe of goal achievement. However, many of us are struggling with lives that are increasingly busy and, consequently, we see our free time diminish as our responsibilities increase. This is bad news for people who want to exercise, especially because the best time of day for a work out is between 4 and 6 pm. Great. Right after work and right before dinner—probably the time of day when we have the least amount of energy!

Of course, exercise practices are subject to much debate among nutritionists and researchers and as with nearly everything else in life, not all agree with each other regarding how to design the optimal exercise program. However, most experts generally agree that the late afternoon/early evening is the best time to exercise because

  • Our strength levels are greatest in the afternoon and this helps our endurance. We can exercise longer, harder and push our bodies more than we can any other time of day.
  • Due to increased strength, we are less likely to injure ourselves while exercising. Many people injure themselves when exercising in the morning or late at night, but mid-day strength keeps us from getting hurt as often.
  • Our body is in balance hormonally and our body temperature is at its highest. We are thus feeling our best and mindset is an important part of exercise.

The problem with the late afternoon vis a vis exercise is that it is a time of day when we are least likely to exercise or be able to exercise. Researchers have also concluded that people who have a fitness program that they do in the mornings are the most likely to be consistent and keep up with their work outs. However, in the morning our body is at its weakest and most vulnerable , so its looks like we have run into a bit of a conundrum here.

The truth is, while it would be great to exercise at the right time of day, it is more important that you exercise at all. If the only way you can keep your work-out routine regular is by going for a 5 am jog, then go for 5 am jogs.  Don’t stop yourself from exercising just because you can’t get on the treadmill at 5 pm everyday. One strategy that you can use to get the best of both worlds is to try and walk as much as you can between workouts and maybe commit to going on a walk before or after dinner (if weather permits). You may not have the strength for a full-on work-out at the end of each workday, but if you can incorporate movement in some capacity, you will take advantage of your body’s optimal late afternoon condition. Whatever you do, get active—your body needs it!

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