Tips for Healthy Living A Complete Guide

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There is plenty of published research linking stress and weight gain.  While a variety of external behaviors and factors affect how we deal with stress, there are also biological responses automatically occurring within our body.

Cortisol, a stress-related hormone, has been associated with weight gain, especially abdominal fat.  When under stress, very large amounts of cortisol are released into the blood stream.  The most amount of fat is collected in the abdomen region when we eat under stress because receptors for cortisol are located in the abdomen.  To make things worse, a higher waist-to-hip ratio has been associated with higher levels of cortisol under stress.  That is a double whammy for those of us who are even slightly overweight.  It means we automatically start triggering more abdominal fat storage than our leaner peers.

Metabolism is also impacted by excess cortisol.  Metabolism slows down.  A slower metabolism means you can’t burn off calories efficiently, and this results in weight gain even when consuming a lower amount of calories. Another double whammy here.  Since most people tend to eat more when under stress, the rate of weight gain increases exponentially.

So what can you do to avoid having cortisol create a roadblock in your weight loss efforts?  Manage stress proactively!  Don’t wait until it catches up with you to start fighting it.  Here are a few things to do:
Raise awareness:  Gain awareness of your stress triggers and reactions.

Get in those workouts: Exercise regularly to regulate cortisol levels.  It can also help alleviate depression.  Try relaxation exercises such as guided meditations and yoga.
Get enough rest:  Your body rejuvenates itself while sleeping, and helps you cope with stress more effectively.  It may mean that you make a wiser food choice the next day, and help yourself in your weight loss or maintenance plan.

It is important to note that while it is important you manage stress and cortisol levels appropriately, medication is not a recommended first option.  Try one of the methods above first!

People often think of healthy eating as an all or nothing proposition, but a key foundation for any healthy diet is moderation. But what is moderation? How much is a moderate amount? That really depends on you and your overall eating habits. The goal of healthy eating is to develop a diet that you can maintain for life, not just a few weeks or months, or until you’ve hit your ideal weight. So try to think of moderation in terms of balance. Despite what certain fad diets would have you believe, we all need a balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to sustain a healthy body.

For most of us, moderation or balance means eating less than we do now. More specifically, it means eating far less of the unhealthy stuff (refined sugar, saturated fat, for example) and more of the healthy (such as fresh fruit and vegetables). But it doesn’t mean eliminating the foods you love. Eating bacon for breakfast once a week, for example, could be considered moderation if you follow it with a healthy lunch and dinner—but not if you follow it with a box of donuts and a sausage pizza. If you eat 100 calories of chocolate one afternoon, balance it out by deducting 100 calories from your evening meal. If you’re still hungry, fill up with an extra serving of fresh vegetables.

  • Try not to think of certain foods as “off-limits.” When you ban certain foods or food groups, it is natural to want those foods more, and then feel like a failure if you give in to temptation. If you are drawn towards sweet, salty, or unhealthy foods, start by reducing portion sizes and not eating them as often. Later you may find yourself craving them less or thinking of them as only occasional indulgences.
  • Think smaller portions. Serving sizes have ballooned recently, particularly in restaurants. When dining out, choose a starter instead of an entree, split a dish with a friend, and don’t order supersized anything. At home, use smaller plates, think about serving sizes in realistic terms, and start small. If you don’t feel satisfied at the end of a meal, try adding more leafy green vegetables or rounding off the meal with fresh fruit. Visual cues can help with portion sizes–your serving of meat, fish, or chicken should be the size of a deck of cards, a slice of bread should be the size of a CD case, and half a cup of mashed potato, rice, or pasta is about the size of a traditional light bulb.

Bones : – those wonderful inclusions to our body that keep us from going jello! They help us stand, sit, run, jog, dance, bend, twist, stretch and so on. Ever since childhood we do a host of activities, thanks to our bones.

All living being need food to fuel the body for growth and regeneration, so do the bones. Calcium is the most important nutrient for bone development and maintenance. If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet, your body pulls out calcium from your bones increasing the chances of osteoporosis and risk of fractures. So from where do you get calcium in the food?

That’s easy:

Cereals like ragi, and jowar are great sources of calcium. You can easily replace wheat with them. You can start your day with oats in any form.

Pulses and beans like soya, moong, chana, rajmah and their sprouted variants are good sources of calcium. You can have them as veggies or add them in salads as well.

Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, cashews etc are rich in calcium. A few of them as snacks can help in a great way. Seeds like sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds etc can also be added in salads.

Dairy products like milk, curd, cheese, paneer have the highest amount of calcium which is easily absorbed by the body. You can have 2-3 serving of any of these products daily but make sure to choose the low fat options to avoid cholesterol development.

Green leafy vegetables like spinach, methi, lettuce, celery, broccoli, cabbage etc are fair sources of calcium.

Fish like salmon, tuna etc are excellent sources of calcium and also have other health benefits. Steamed fish 3 times/week can contribute to bone health.

How can you avoid the drainage of calcium from your bones?

Caffeine: drinking excess of tea/coffee can lead to calcium loss. Avoid more than 2 cups.

Animal protein: excess of chicken, meat, pork etc can increase calcium loss by increasing acid in the body which is neutralized by calcium from the bones.

Alcohol: it hinders calcium absorption and can affect body’s calcium balance. Limit the intake not more than 7 drinks/week and not more than 2 drinks at a time.

Soft drinks: to balance the phosphates in the drink, the body releases calcium from the bones which get excreted. Drink lime juice, jaljeera, fresh juices instead.

Iron: avoid iron supplements along with calcium supplements or calcium rich foods as they compete for absorption and the body doesn’t get enough calcium.

You can also take calcium supplements of 500mg-1000mg a day depending on your diet. But do not take more than 500mg at one time as it may not get absorbed in excess.
When it comes to your bones, calcium alone is not enough. There are other vital nutrients that help your body absorb and make use of the calcium you consume. The most important of these are magnesium and vitamin D.
Magnesium helps to absorb and retain calcium and prevent osteoporosis and build strong bones. Magnesium is found in nuts, seeds, whole grains, seafood, legumes, tofu, and many vegetables.

Vitamin D is another important nutrient that helps the body absorb calcium and regulates calcium in the blood. Your body synthesizes vitamin D when exposed to the sun. However, a large percentage of people are vitamin D deficient-even those living in sunny climates.

If you don’t spend at least 15 minutes outside in the sun each day you may need an extra vitamin D boost. Good food sources of vitamin D include:

  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Fish
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Oysters
  • Fortified milk and cereals

You can also take vitamin D supplements of 1000 IU-2000 IU/day.

Exercise: exercise is a key component for healthy bones. Especially weight bearing exercises help in better calcium absorption, thereby strengthening your bones. Studies have shown that the risk of fractures and osteoporosis was lower in people who did weight bearing exercises at least 3 times in a week. Exercise also improves muscle strength and co-ordination which prevents injuries. Different forms of weight bearing exercises are:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Stair climbing
  • Skipping
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Weight lifting
  • Dancing

As a society, we focus a lot on steps to stay healthy.  We load up on multivitamins, pay attention to personal hygiene, and even sign up for gym memberships in the hope that we will be motivated to regularly work out.  It turns out that one of the easiest preventative steps we can take can be done at home right at the start of every day.

Regularly eating breakfast can help reduce the risk of insulin resistance syndrome, diabetes or coronary heart disease by 35% to 50% compared to your odds if you skip the morning meal.  That’s a lot of disease prevention just by paying attention to one meal of the day!  Turns out mom was right after all.  Breakfast is the most important meal.

So what is the best option for breakfast that the American Heart Association recommends to gain prevention against the above listed diseases?  A bowl of whole-grain cereal with milk added as part of a balanced breakfast.  The fiber in whole-grain cereals and dairy products help protect against obesity and heart disease by improving blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Well, why not wait to have whole grain bread at lunch instead?  The answer lies in the concentration of dietary fiber in whole-grain cereals.  It is very hard to match the quality and amount of fiber present in whole-grain cereals with whole-grain bread.  The soluble fiber in the cereals is directly associated with reduced risk of heart disease.

It forms a gel-like material that prevents cholesterol and saturated fats from entering the bloodstream, where they can collect and form plaques on artery walls. As an extra plus, for those of us who have trouble eating our daily servings of fruits and vegetables, the insoluble fiber helps keep us ‘moving’ from a digestive perspective and contributes to colon health.

Which ones should you pick?  Any cereal with whole grain or bran as their first ingredient and that contains at least 2 grams of dietary fiber per serving should be in your shopping cart, and on your breakfast table.

Healthy eating is about more than the food on your plate—it is also about how you think about food. Healthy eating habits can be learned and it is important to slow down and think about food as nourishment rather than just something to gulp down in between meetings or on the way to pick up the kids.

  • Eat with others whenever possible. Eating with other people has numerous social and emotional benefits—particularly for children—and allows you to model healthy eating habits. Eating in front of the TV or computer often leads to mindless overeating.
  • Take time to chew your food and enjoy mealtimes. Chew your food slowly, savoring every bite. We tend to rush though our meals, forgetting to actually taste the flavors and feel the textures of our food. Reconnect with the joy of eating.
  • Listen to your body. Ask yourself if you are really hungry, or have a glass of water to see if you are thirsty instead of hungry. During a meal, stop eating before you feel full. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food, so eat slowly.
  • Eat breakfast, and eat smaller meals throughout the day. A healthy breakfast can jumpstart your metabolism, and eating small, healthy meals throughout the day (rather than the standard three large meals) keeps your energy up and your metabolism going.
  • Avoid eating at night. Try to eat dinner earlier in the day and then fast for 14-16 hours until breakfast the next morning. Early studies suggest that this simple dietary adjustment—eating only when you’re most active and giving your digestive system a long break each day—may help to regulate weight. After-dinner snacks tend to be high in fat and calories so are best avoided, anyway.

Every person irrespective of age and gender has natural six packs abs but due to our own negligence, we tend to lose the attractive personality that nature has provided to every human being. It is true that most of the people in this modern age have become health conscious and always try to maintain a slim and trim body. It is the hectic yet sedentary lifestyle, and improper eating habits, which lead to the accumulation of fat in the body, especially in the mid section of the body and the natural six packs abs is lost in the rotund waist and the protruding stomach. If you want to maintain a healthy body, and ripped six packs abs, you have to eat healthy diet and choose workouts, which will help in weight loss.

Most of the people think that healthy diet means eating tasteless food or chewing raw vegetables. This concept drives them away from the idea of developing the regular routine of eating the food that will provide all the essential nutrients to the body and keep them fit and healthy besides working as a weight loss mechanism. It is essential that you should know about the type of diet that will help you to develop six packs abs and maintain it throughout life. Thus, first you have to pay attention towards the food that you eat everyday. If you have the habit of eating fried food, junk food, preserved food or using refined edible items in your daily diet then you should immediately give up the habit and plan a healthy menu.

If you think that only doing rigorous, workouts and exercises will help you to develop six packs abs and maintain it throughout life then you have to change this concept. All your attempts of attaining six packs abs will fail if your everyday calorie intake is higher than the amount of calorie that you burn during your workouts or while performing other activities throughout the day. This does not mean that you should starve yourself but on the contrary, you should pay attention towards the fact that whatever you eat provides the required energy to the body and has only that much amount of calorie, which you can easily burn. This way you will be able to eat a healthy diet, and burnt calories will lead to weight loss by dissolving the fat.

You have to try to develop the habit of eating more vegetables, fruits, and instead of consuming refined oil, grains, and sugar, you can switch over to whole grain breads, natural sugar available in fruits and for the small amount of oil required by the body, you could use natural products like coconut, and dry fruits. If you are fond of meat, you can easily include white meat in your diet, but you should totally avoid red meat, aerated waters, beverages, and preserved food. You can easily prepare a tasty menu everyday and eat a healthy diet without developing any kind of aversion towards the food that you are eating everyday.

This diet will also help in weight loss as the calorie that you intake will burn during your workouts and the body will have to use the accumulated fat in the body for providing energy to the body so that it can function efficiently. Only eating healthy diet is not enough but how and when you eat your food also has a great impact on your body. Thus, besides preparing a nutritious diet you should also develop the habit of eating small quantity of food at short intervals so that your body gets the required amount of calories for producing energy but does not have extra calories to store as fat thus leading to weight loss and development of six packs abs.

One thing that is just as important for your health and well being as working out fully and properly is eating well. Eating well is not a small supplement to your hard workouts—it goes hand in hand with them. If you eat healthy and do not work out, you won’t gain much. However, if you work out and still eat McDonald’s and processed foods every day, you gain even less. Keep this in mind in your everyday life—drink water instead of soda, and eat a whole grain bar instead of a candy bar. Making this type of small change in your life is extremely important to becoming healthier, getting leaner, and feeling better.

However, this is not as easy as it sounds. The money that can be made using false advertisement and dirt-cheap, unhealthy products is astronomical, which means that companies will try hard to convince you that their cheap, processed foods are healthy alternatives to real, organic, and healthy foods. Spotting false advertisement and making the right choices is something that you cannot learn immediately, but if you start looking at ingredients and stop just buying the cheapest item (it’s usually the least healthy), you will learn to eat better. And because of it, you will feel better every day. No matter how good a crappy food tastes, it’s not worth how bad you will feel after eating it.

The first thing that you can easily change is where you shop and where you eat. Rather than going to Safeway or another mega-chain store, go somewhere like Trader Joe’s that is a little bit more costly, but that sells all sorts of organic and healthy foods. If you just change where you shop, you will notice a difference. However, there is more you must pay attention to than where—you have to focus on what you’re eating too. When you’re shopping at the grocery store, turn the products around and check out the ingredients on the back. If one product contains things like corn syrup, sugar, and excess fats, and an alternative does not, get the one that does not contain them. One key word to keep your eye out for is organic. If something is organic, the growers of that product did not use pesticides, insecticides, and other harmful chemicals around this product. If you choose organic, you will not be ingesting any chemical that is made to kill cells—and will kill many of your cells as well.

The next thing that is important for you to do when shopping is products removing the healthy part of their ingredients. Egg whites, for example, remove the egg yolk, which is the healthy part of the egg. The yolk is a major source of vitamins and minerals, and contains almost all of an egg’s protein, cholesterol, and fat. If you remove the yolk, you’re taking away all of the egg’s A, D, E, and K vitamins (egg yolks are one of the very few natural sources of vitamin D). Many products, however, remove the yolk and claim their food is healthier—look out for products that include nuts to perform similar tricks, saving them money and costing you health.

Eating right is invaluable to your health. If you keep your eye out for false claims, like “healthier than the real alternative,” and check product’s ingredients and nutrition facts before buying, you will be a healthier person overall. If you buy organic, you will avoid harmful chemicals and support real farmers—not corporations. If you just pay attention while purchasing your food, you will feel better, look better, and be better.

There is one golden rule for dieters and non-dieters alike: Eat frequently but eat less. This is practically the easiest way to ensure we lose weight, even if we don’t change anything about our diet.  

Here’s why:

Bye-bye over-eating: 
When eating five or six times a day, we sit down for each meal only feeling a slight pang of hunger, as opposed to wanting to eat everything in sight when we are famished. Switching to more meals a day will also help us appreciate food better, which, again, will improve the quality of our life and change our relationship with food.

No binges: By eating more often, you’re less likely to get ravenous. When you eat a midmorning and mid-afternoon snack, you’re not starving at lunchtime or after work.  You are then much less likely to binge. For each meal or snack, eat both protein and carbs, such as cereal with milk, an apple with peanut butter or a turkey sandwich. Protein takes longer to digest than carbs, so you’ll stay satisfied longer.

Fire up your metabolism: Metabolism kicks into high gear when we feed ourselves regularly.  Our bodies are less likely to go into ‘survival mode’, as they do when we go for large periods of time with inadequate or no food, and then binge.  By feeding yourself regularly, your body thinks you’re getting ongoing fuel with no lack in supply.  It’ll keep burning those calories, and you will start feeling the results in no time.

Switching to six meals a day also has benefits beyond weight control. Since we no longer feel famished, our attention span improves, as also does our concentration, which, in turn, translates into increased productivity and an overall better mood at all times. You are also likely to eat more nutritiously because you won’t be loading up on empty calories.

Five Great Foods That Will Keep Your Liver from Conking Out

Ask anyone how healthy the typical Western diet is, and they’re likely to say ‘Not very!’ One of the first organs to fall victim to bad eating is the liver, due to its many functions and variety of stresses placed upon it. If you want your liver to still be healthy and to work with your metabolism, you’ll have to add a little something special to your diet.

However, these additions don’t need to be huge alterations to your lifestyle. Most of the things that will keep your liver going for the long haul are perfectly ordinary foods that cost less than what you’re already eating!
Fruits known for being high in antioxidants are one of the key things your liver needs.

This can be fresh fruit or fresh fruit juice, but shouldn’t generally be processed fruit products. This is because processed food tends to process out all the useful nutrients while adding in sugars and other unhealthy additives that are little better than junk food.

Prunes, raisins, apples, and various kinds of berries such as strawberries are highly preferable and can be eaten as regular snacks or turned into beverages in juice form.

If fruits aren’t something you fancy, then there are other plant-based options for a meal that makes your liver happy. Like salads? Then you might want to try adding in some chicory, dandelion greens, or endive

.

These are versatile ingredients that can be added in small, non-obtrusive amounts to most kinds of salads. Therefore they’re one of the least demanding of pro-liver foods you can add into your life.
Onions and garlic

 are two flavorful favorites that can add a lot to a meal, and unlike most strongly-flavored ingredients don’t have a negative impact on the liver. However, you don’t get the same benefits from just using a powder or flavor supplement based on these vegetables. Use the real thing, or don’t bother.

You might notice that all of these suggested foods are plant-based. It’s true that there are very few meat-based foods that your liver needs.

However, if you stick to lean varieties of meat

 and eat it only moderately, you’ll find that your liver can handle pretty much anything reasonable that you throw at it. Make sure that you also consume healthy calves liver also. So don’t feel the need to become a vegetarian!

As a final cautionary note, don’t forget to avoid excessive alcohol

, which is a definite bane of your poor long-suffering liver. You can remove the liver-harming elements by using it as a cooking agent instead of drinking it directly.

So you see, there are plenty of ways to include all the things you normally enjoy in a liver-healthy life… without really needing to give up the flavors that make life worth living!

The luxurious life that you lead due to the facilities provided by advanced technology has not only reduced the physical workouts that you did while doing the household chores but also made you a couch potato. The result of this lifestyle is accumulation of fat in the body, as you have not reduced your calorie intake, but have reduced the ways of burning the entire calories that has reached your body. That is why nowadays you will find most of the people suffering from the problem of obesity and always trying different exercises for weight loss. Most of the time, you will observe that we mostly fail in our endeavour of obtaining six pack abs in spite of doing the six packs abs exercises regularly.

Most of the time this failure leads to frustration and most of us tend to give up the routine of performing the six packs abs exercises thinking that our body constituency will not change and we will not attain success. At this stage, you should remember one essential a fact and that is the fact that nothing in this world is impossible. If you have firm determination and use your prudence, you can attain success in every field. In the same manner, you should use your prudence for choosing the exercises and workouts for attaining the six packs abs and your target of weight loss to develop an attractive personality full of health and vitality. Thus, let us peek into the basic fact that will give the desired result for your efforts.

The first and foremost essential factor is the choice of six packs abs exercises along with your weight loss program. While choosing the exercises and the workouts that you are going to include in your daily routine, you should carefully take into consideration all the pros and cons related to the exercises and verify the results. You can easily get all the information either through some experienced person or through the mediums that supply authentic information about the different types of six packs abs exercises and their effects. Nowadays, it has become very easy to gather all the related information through the internet. This knowledge will help you to decide about the best exercises that will give you fruitful result.

If you have already chosen your six packs abs exercises  but have failed to attain the desired result then you should immediately stop doing the exercises or workouts and try to find out about the mistakes that you are committing while doing the exercises or whether the exercises or workouts is actually affecting your body or not. In fact, most of us tend to choose those exercises or workouts that we can perform with ease within a short time. This thinking makes you choose the wrong types of exercises and foils all your attempts of attaining six packs abs. Thus, whenever, you start your routine of exercises or workouts you should always begin with light exercises and gradually move towards rigorous exercises or workouts.

You have to follow this procedure as your body has the tendency of easily adapting to any kind of extra effort that it has to put in as a part of its daily work. Your body also has the tendency of storing energy in the form of fat for using it during the exercises and workouts due to which you face the problem of accumulated fat in spite of doing all the exercises or workouts. You will also notice that after a short time your muscles stop responding to the exercises due to acclimatization to the workouts and in the end, you fail to achieve your goal of six packs abs and weight loss.

The luxurious life that you lead due to the facilities provided by advanced technology has not only reduced the physical workouts that you did while doing the household chores but also made you a couch potato. The result of this lifestyle is accumulation of fat in the body, as you have not reduced your calorie intake, but have reduced the ways of burning the entire calories that has reached your body. That is why nowadays you will find most of the people suffering from the problem of obesity and always trying different exercises for weight loss. Most of the time, you will observe that we mostly fail in our endeavour of obtaining six pack abs in spite of doing the six packs abs exercises regularly.

Most of the time this failure leads to frustration and most of us tend to give up the routine of performing the six packs abs exercises thinking that our body constituency will not change and we will not attain success. At this stage, you should remember one essential a fact and that is the fact that nothing in this world is impossible. If you have firm determination and use your prudence, you can attain success in every field. In the same manner, you should use your prudence for choosing the exercises and workouts for attaining the six packs abs and your target of weight loss to develop an attractive personality full of health and vitality. Thus, let us peek into the basic fact that will give the desired result for your efforts.

The first and foremost essential factor is the choice of six packs abs exercises along with your weight loss program. While choosing the exercises and the workouts that you are going to include in your daily routine, you should carefully take into consideration all the pros and cons related to the exercises and verify the results. You can easily get all the information either through some experienced person or through the mediums that supply authentic information about the different types of six packs abs exercises and their effects. Nowadays, it has become very easy to gather all the related information through the internet. This knowledge will help you to decide about the best exercises that will give you fruitful result.

If you have already chosen your six packs abs exercises  but have failed to attain the desired result then you should immediately stop doing the exercises or workouts and try to find out about the mistakes that you are committing while doing the exercises or whether the exercises or workouts is actually affecting your body or not. In fact, most of us tend to choose those exercises or workouts that we can perform with ease within a short time. This thinking makes you choose the wrong types of exercises and foils all your attempts of attaining six packs abs. Thus, whenever, you start your routine of exercises or workouts you should always begin with light exercises and gradually move towards rigorous exercises or workouts.

You have to follow this procedure as your body has the tendency of easily adapting to any kind of extra effort that it has to put in as a part of its daily work. Your body also has the tendency of storing energy in the form of fat for using it during the exercises and workouts due to which you face the problem of accumulated fat in spite of doing all the exercises or workouts. You will also notice that after a short time your muscles stop responding to the exercises due to acclimatization to the workouts and in the end, you fail to achieve your goal of six packs abs and weight loss.

One major aid in losing weight and improving your physique is knowing the science of what you’re trying to fix. If you’re going after a tighter upper body, reducing your stomach fat, or just trying to look more in shape, it’s important to realize what is healthy and unhealthy. There are two major factors to a dedicated diet and exercise program: your body being more attractive and being better looking. Both are important, but no matter how much you care about your looks, being healthy and in shape should be important.

One of the biggest problems that Americans have with their bodies, especially men, is an excess of fat in the abdomen and stomach area. It’s important to know what is going on with your stomach fat, how to get rid of it, and how to properly grow muscle in your abdomen as well. There are no easy fixes to an out of shape body, but it’s important to do the right workout and diet. Following the food pyramid, getting enough protein, and working out your abdominals is important. But to do so, you have to have knowledge about what exactly you’re trying to fix.

There are two types of fat in the abdominal area, as well as around the whole body: subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. Although an excess of either is problematic, visceral fat is the real villain of the torso. Subcutaneous fat is found directly beneath the skin, and when measured, it can be directly correlated to adiposity and obesity. Subcutaneous fat is contained between the muscle and skin in the peritoneal cavity, and is much more of a cosmetic issue than a health risk. There do exist; however, some benefits to having the right amount of—not too much—subcutaneous fat. The fat exists to create a thermal layer that keeps you warm in cold weather, absorb hits to the area, and can be used as an energy source as well. However, an excess of this fat is scientifically correlated with obesity and heart disease.

The second type of fat in the abdomen, called visceral fat, is the dangerous of the two. Also known as abdominal or intra-abdominal fat, visceral fat exists between your organs and torso, underneath your abdominal muscles. An excess of this fat is known as obesity, and a “beer belly” is the indicator of excess visceral fat. Having too much visceral fat leads to heart disease, but it harms more than just the heart. Excess fat, according to the American Heart Association, raises blood cholesterol, raises blood pressure, and can induce diabetes. Excess fat is measured by your Body Mass Index (BMI), which is the ratio of your weight to height squared, in metric (kg/m2). Obesity is defined as having a BMI of over 30, and being overweight is having a BMI of over 25. So, for an example, a six foot tall man weighing over 185 pounds is overweight, and if he is over 220 pounds, he is obese.

The key to reducing visceral and subcutaneous fat is exercise and diet. Eat natural foods that have not been processed, intake the right amounts of vegetables, fruits, and proteins, and do not overeat. Find out how many calories per day fit your lifestyle and stick to that. According to the International Journal of Obesity, at least ten hours per week of exercise is required to lose that fat. Also, shorter, more intense cardio workouts are more beneficial than longer, easier workouts. However, ten hours a week is nothing compared to all of the money and hardship that comes with obesity and the risk factors of heart disease.

Any person trying to figure out a good workout for his or herself needs to first research what type of workout works best and how to work out properly, and then plan out a daily and weekly schedule for it. One aspect of a workout plan is what type of workout you want to do: there is weight training, swimming, sprinting, jogging, and various types of cardio. But no one can do every type of workout regularly: so you have to figure out what works best for you. One aspect of any workout is cardio, which is traditionally very important in a workout plan. However, there are varying degrees of cardio and if you workout too lightly or improperly, the cardio will not work.

First of all, you have to know what cardio is. Also called aerobic exercise, it’s any exercise that improves your lung capacity and works out your heart. Often cardio, or cardiovascular exercise, is performed at moderate intensity for long periods of time. For example, lap swimming, running, elliptical trainers, bicycling, and more are all types of cardio. These all improve your overall fitness, stamina, and health. However, there are more helpful types of cardio as well. Another option is cardiovascular weight training.

Most do not consider lifting weights to be beneficial cardiovascular exercise. However, if you do the right exercises, you can combine cardio and weight training. The main difference between traditional weight training and cardio weight training is lifting more reps at faster speeds, but using lighter weights. As a rule of thumb, take 65% of your max and lift that repeatedly, getting your lungs and heart pumping away. Some examples of weight cardio you can do are dead lifts, dumbbells, and barbells. Take a percentage of your maximum—it does not have to be 65%, whatever you’re comfortable with—and lift quickly for about ten minutes. This type of exercise is healthy not only for your lungs and heart, but it builds muscle mass as well.

One of the major problems with most aerobic workouts is the neglect that the upper body and muscle strength gets. Running, swimming, and biking are all great for your health and fitness, but not working out your core and arms is problematic: it leads to an imbalance of power between your legs and upper body, and makes you much more prone to injury, including pulled muscles, torn ligaments, and broken bones.

Another problem with cardio training is that the main benefit’s to keep people in shape. Unlike weight training, aerobic exercise is not very effective at reducing obesity. It does not burn as many calories overall, and does not build as much muscle. Therefore, if your primary goal is to burn fat, get thinner, and have a better physique, standard cardio may not be the way to go. However, if you can combine your weight training and cardio as detailed above, you can save time and workout your muscles, heart, and lungs all at the same time.

Besides weight training, the best cardiovascular workout overall is swimming. If you swim laps for an hour a day as well as lift weights for the same amount of time, your muscles will get two types of workout: stamina and dead strength. Swimming, unlike running and biking, works out almost every muscle in your body and is a great addition to any workout. It also greatly increases your lung capacity which is a key for performing well in sports as well as healthy living. Overall, however, weight cardio is the best way to get a good workout of your whole body.

The need for something new and interesting to keep people enthusiastic about fitness has led to many kinds of new routines and workouts being developed, especially in the last few decades. Maybe you’ve tried everything and you feel like nothing excites you or adds that old spice back into things. But have you really tried everything there is? One option you may not have thought of that remains a great choice for cardio-based fitness is tae bo. Based on a unique fusion of tae kwon do and boxing, it combines many of the basic moves used in self-defense with the more creative, artistic side of aerobics to come up with something totally new and impressively effective.

The word ‘tae’ in tae kwon do incorporates the legs, while boxing, as everyone knows, utilizes one’s fists. Therefore tae bo is a well-balanced form of exercise that uses the whole body in coordination. Tae bo is focused primarily on using well-honed techniques over moderate to long periods of time to deepen one’s reserves of stamina and sharpen reflexes and coordination. Being a form of exercise that relies on particular easy to grasp but specialized techniques, most people will need to take classes to do it properly, or at the very least need to pick up a few books on the subject. But once you get into it, the rewards are more than worth the effort. Tae bo is designed to give back exactly what you put into it, and doesn’t stress competition so much as the perfect honing of one’s own body. Absolute control, power, lasting power and flexibility are called for, and one’s progress is easily self-monitored according to how easily the routines are gone through from one session to the next.

While it’s no exaggeration to say that tae bo expects a lot if you want to get a lot out of it, it’s also something that scales very well. Due to its non-competitive nature, it can easily be adjusted down to a mild, soothing form for the amateur, and then scaled up over time as the beginner acquires more experience. Perhaps the most significant reward tae bo offers is not so much physical as psychological. By being able to tell exactly how far you are along on mastering your forms, by being able to rate your own progress and see your improvements, the exercise becomes something enjoyable rather than intimidating or stressful. The simple pleasure of mastering your own body allows you to get lost in the exercise, and this in turn causes you to work harder at it. Working harder gets you better results, and… so you can see, it’s a positive feedback loop of sorts.

While tae bo is owned by Billy Blanks and accordingly requires licensing fees for anyone to teach it under that name, there are however many similar exercises under slightly different names attempting to cash in on the phenomenon. If you don’t think your local gym offers tae bo classes, check again. Chances are they have them, just not under that name! Try it out and see how it suits you; it can be a great break from something more annoying to force yourself to go through, such as sprinting or weightlifting.

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