Dukan Diet

Dukan Diet – High Protein Diet

Dukan diet banner

The Dukan diet has diet plan includes 100 high protein foods, 72 animal sourced and 28 come from plants, and you can eat as much as you want as long as you stick to those 100 foods. If you follow all the rules you can lose up to 10 pounds in within the first week.

The basic theory of Dukan diet is that counting calories isn’t the key to weight loss. Protein is. It’s a weight-loss powerhouse  –  it’s filling, takes time and work to digest, and has very few calories for each gram of food. When protein supplies the majority of a diet, and fats and carbs are all but squeezed out, fast weight loss ensues. Limiting carbs, the body’s preferred energy source, forces the body to turn to an alternative fuel – stored fat.

The Dukan diet itself is separated in 4 stages:

  • The attack phase
  • The cruise phase
  • The consolidation phase
  • The stabilization phase

The attack phase

It is designed to enable dieters to rapidly lose 4.4 to 6.6 pounds in 2-7 days by kick-starting their metabolism. The dieters can eat nothing but lean protein, and unlimited amounts, there is no calorie counting. It is important that the protein is low in fat. Protein could be all kinds of beef, fish, chicken, eggs, soy, and cottage cheese. The dieter is told to be careful to avoid meats with added sugars.

The dieter also consumes at least 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran, the only carbohydrate source allowed in this phase. It is very high in fiber, meaning that a large proportion of the carbs cannot be broken down and digested, making oat bran less carbohydrate-rich than they thought. Oat bran also helps suppress hunger because it grows to up to twenty times its size in the stomach.

The cruise phase

The second phase of Dukan diet, the cruise phase, is designed to allow dieters to more gradually achieve the weight they aim for by eating protein-rich foods with the addition of 28 specific vegetables (fruit is not allowed). The length of this phase is usually calculated as 2.2 pounds of weight loss per week, but this is based on specific personal conditions. Tolerated foods are also allowed as per the program, but any weight gain will ban some of these.

Vegetables can be consumed in unlimited amounts as long as they are not starchy – so, carrots, corn, and peas are out, and spinach, okra, lettuce and green beans are OK. The dieter can also eat unlimited amounts of low fat protein sources included during the first phase. The 1.5 liters of water and oat bran consumption continues.

 

The consolidation phase

This phase is of Dukan diet designed to help in preventing any future massive weight gain. During this phase, fruit, bread, cheese and starchy foods are reintroduced into a normal diet, leaving two celebratory meals a week as directed by the plan.

A typical menu for the week looks like this:

  • Continue eating protein plus vegetables to your heart’s desire. They are always on the menu.
  • You get one fruit a day, but you are looking for the watery fruits like watermelon, cantaloupe, apples, etc.
  • You get two slices of whole-grain bread. If you must have butter, make it low-fat. Be stingy with the butter.
  • You get one serving of carbs per week. This might be pasta or rice.
  • Your menu expands to include one “celebration meal” per week, where anything goes. But really, if you are losing a significant amount of weight, it has been 6 or 8 months since you had real food. Do you really want to blow it now? I guess if you travel, this meal would allow you to eat one normal restaurant meal a week. As you move to the second half of this phase, you get two of these “celebration meals” per week.

The stabilization phase

In this phase of Dukan diet dieters can essentially eat whatever they want without gaining weight by following a few rules: protein day once a week, eating oat bran every day and making a commitment to “take the stairs”. According to Dukan, dieters shall follow this last phase for the rest of their life to avoid regaining weight. Of course the glycemic index (on a scale from 1 to 100) of the kind of carbohydrate consumed is also of importance.

Dieters are allowed to consume artificial sweeteners, vinegar, sugar-free gum, and spices; they are also advised to take multivitamins with minerals.

100 foods allowed in Dukan diet

Lean meat

Beef tenderloin, Filet mignon, Buffalo, Extra-lean ham, Extra-lean Kosher beef hot dogs, Lean center-cut pork chops, Lean slices of roast beef, Pork tenderloin, pork loin roast, Reduced-fat bacon, soy bacon, Steak ( flank, sirloin, London broil), Veal chops, Veal scaloppini, Venison

Poultry

Chicken, Chicken liver, Cornish hen, Fat-free turkey and chicken sausages, Low fat deli slices of chicken or turkey, Ostrich steak, Quail, Turkey, Wild duck

Fish

Arctic char, Catfish, Cod, Flounder, Grouper, Haddock, Halibut and smoked halibut, Herring, Mackerel, Mahi Mahi, Monkfish, Orange roughy, Perch, Red snapper, Salmon or smoked salmon, Sardines( fresh or canned in water), Sea bass, Shark, Sole, Surimi, Swordfish, Tilapia, Trout, Tuna( fresh or canned in water)

Shellfish

Clams, Crab, Craw-fish, Crayfish, Lobster, Mussels, Octopus, Oysters, Scallops, Shrimp, Squid

Fat-free dairy products

Fat-free cottage cheese, Fat-free cream cheese, Fat-free milk, Fat-free plain Greek style yogurt, Fat-free ricotta, Fat-free sour cream

Eggs

Chicken, Quail, Duck

Vegetables

Artichoke, Asparagus, Aubergine (egg plant in US), Beetroot, Broccoli/purple sprouting broccoli, Cabbage (white, red, Savoy, cauliflower, Chinese leaves, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts), Carrot, Celery/celeriac, Chicory, Courgette (zucchini in US), Cucumber, Fennel, French beans/string beans/mange tout, Leek, Mushrooms, Onion, Palm hearts, Peppers (sweet), Pumpkin, Marrow, Squash, Radish, Rhubarb, Salad leaves (all types of lettuce, rocket, watercress, alfalfa, curly endive, sorrel), Soy beans sprouts, Spinach, Swiss chard, Tomatoes and Turnip.

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Diet Recipes

Diet Recipes – General Overview

Meltown Challenge Weight Loss BannerDieting is the practice of eating food in a regulated fashion to decrease, maintain, or increase body weight. Dieting is often used in combination with physical exercise to lose weight in those who are overweight or obese. Some people, however, follow a diet to gain weight (usually in the form of muscle). Diets can also be used to maintain a stable body weight.

Depending on what you want to achieve, there are different diet recipes:

Low-fat diets

High-fat diets are associated with increased risk of several serious medical conditions including obesity, cancer, and heart disease. Consequently, current public health recommendations emphasize the importance of reducing total fat intake to no more than 30% of total calories, or 60 grams of fat per day in an 1800 calorie diet. Tips for reducing fat intake include lowering intake of whole fat dairy products, red meats, and high-fat condiments. While most people can improve their health by reducing the total amount of fat in their diet, the consumption of fat by children under the age of two should not be restricted. In addition, adults reducing their total fat intake should still be careful to include adequate amount of specific, essential fats, particularly the omega 3 fatty acids.

In general, any diet, regardless of the foods eaten, can be considered “low-fat” if it includes no more than 30% of total calories as fat, which is 60 grams of fat per day in an 1800 calorie diet.

Learn more about Low-fat diets here.

Low-carbohydrate diets

Low-carbohydrate diets or low-carb diets are dietary programs that restrict carbohydrate consumption, often for the treatment of obesity. Foods high in easily digestible carbohydrates (e.g., sugar, bread, pasta) are limited or replaced with foods containing a higher percentage of fats and moderate protein (e.g., meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, cheese, nuts, and seeds) and other foods low in carbohydrates (e.g., most salad vegetables), although other vegetables and fruits (especially berries) are often allowed. The amount of carbohydrate not allowed varies with different low-carbohydrate diets.

Such diets are sometimes ketogenic (i.e., they restrict carbohydrate intake sufficiently to cause ketosis). The Induction phase of the Atkins diet is ketogenic. Good example of Low-carbohydrate diets is Atkins diet.

More information about Low-carbohydrate diets here.

Low-calorie diets

Traditional weight loss methods include low-calorie diets that allow between 800 to 1,500 calories a day and encourage regular exercise. Low-calorie diets usually produce an energy deficit of 500–1,000 calories per day, which can result in a 0.5 kilogram (1.1 lb) to 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) weight loss per week.

Click here for more details about Low-calorie diet.

Very low calorie diet

An alternative method that moderately to severely obese people may consider for significant, short-term weight loss is the very low-calorie diet (VLCD). Many VLCDs are commercially prepared formulas of 800 calories or less that replace all usual food eaten. Others, such as the well-known grapefruit diet (also called the Hollywood Diet), rely on eating a lot of the same low-calorie food or foods. VLCDs are not the same as over-the-counter meal replacements, which are substituted for one or two meals a day.

If you dare to try out Very low-calorie diet find out more about them here.

Detox diets

Advocates of detox diets say our bodies are continually overloaded with toxins from, for example, pollution, cigarette smoke, pesticides, a poor diet, food additives, alcohol and caffeine. As these toxins build up in our system, any number of health problems can occur, including weight gain, cellulite, headaches, dull skin, bloating, fatigue, lowered immunity, aches and pains, and a general lack of well-being. The process of detoxing helps to remove these toxins from the body with the result that you lose weight, feel healthier and recover from all those other niggling health problems. Continue reading about Detox diets here.

High-protein diets

Protein is one of the most important components of the diet and when you eat a high-protein diet, you’re generally less hungry, eat less and lose weight as a result. Diets with 30% protein are recognized as reasonable while a diet with over 50% protein is considered high protein. Estimated amount varies from one to four grams per kilo of body weight, per day, but most nutritionists agree that two grams is the minimum. As for how much you can digest at one sitting, at least 20-25g is required for muscle protein synthesis. If a High-protein diet just might be the best choice for you learn more about it here.

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Pilates – Benefits and Main Principles

Pilates

MeltdownChallenge Pilates BannerPilates is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates, and popular in many countries, including Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom. Pilates is a body conditioning routine that will help you build flexibility, muscle strength, and endurance in the legs, abdominals, arms, hips, and back. It puts emphasis on spinal and pelvic alignment, breathing, and developing a strong core or center, and improving coordination and balance. Pilates’ system allows for different exercises to be modified in range of difficulty from beginning to advanced. Intensity can be increased over time as the body conditions and adapts to the exercises.

Pilates main Principles

The first modern book on Pilates in 1980. outlined six “principles of Pilates”. These principles have been adopted by the wider community. The original six ones were: concentration, control, center, flow, precision, and breathing.

Concentration

Pilates demands intense focus! You have to concentrate on what you’re doing all the time. You must concentrate on your entire body for smooth movements. In Pilates the way that exercises are done is more important than the exercises themselves.

Control

The reason you need to concentrate so thoroughly is so you can be in control of every aspect of every moment. All exercises are done with control with the muscles working to lift against gravity and the resistance of the springs and thereby control the movement of the body and the apparatus. The Pilates teaches you to be in control of your body and not at its slave.

Centering

For practitioners to control their bodies, they must have a starting place: the center. The center is the focal point of the Pilates. Many Pilates teachers refer to the group of muscles in the center of the body (abdomen, lower and upper back, hips, buttocks, and inner thighs) as the powerhouse. Every move starts with or includes powerhouse and spreads to limbs.

The Powerhouse is activated effectively by hollowing of the deep abdominals, by drawing the navel back into the spine in a zipping-up motion, from the pubic bone to the breast bone thereby engaging the heels, the back of the inner thighs, the deep, lower-back muscles, and the muscles surrounding the sitting bones and tailbone area without inhibiting the natural function of the diaphragm. This should be done without the breath holding either from lifting the chest upwards or contracting the chest.

Flow

Pilates aims for elegant sufficiency of movement. Once precision has been achieved, the exercises are intended to flow within and into each other in order to build strength and stamina. In other words, the Pilates technique asserts that physical energy exerted from the center should coordinate movements of the extremities.

Precision

Precision is essential to correct Pilates. Not concentrating on the correct movements each time you exercise leads you to improper workout and you risk to lose all the benefits you would rather get. The focus is on doing one precise movement, rather than many sloppy ones. You will gain more strength from a few energetic efforts than from a thousand sluggish movements. The goal is for this precision to eventually become second nature, and carry over into everyday life as grace and economy of movement.

Breathing

Breathing is important in the Pilates method. Increasing the intake of oxygen and the circulation of this oxygenated blood is very important. Proper full inhalation and complete exhalation are key for this. Forced exhalation is the key to full inhalation. In order to keep the lower abdominals close to the spine, the breathing needs to be directed laterally (into the lower rib cage). Pilates breathing is described as a posterior lateral breathing, meaning that the practitioner is instructed to breathe deep into the back and sides of his or her rib cage.

The Benefits of Pilates

  • Body Awareness - It teaches you how to train your mind and build symmetry and coordination in the body. The biggest benefit in my eyes would be personal awareness: Awareness of how you sit or how you stand or how you move and being able to relate those habits to the aches and pains and injuries you have or have had in the past. If we don’t concentrate on building a good foundation and a strong trunk or core, we’ll end up tight in some places and weak in others.
  • Body Control – Unless you are taught how to move and discover with your teacher what is blocking you, you will never achieve body symmetry. When you start getting control of your body, it gives you a great degree of satisfaction.
  • Stronger Core - First of all, do not equate a Stronger Core with a Flatter Stomach. It’s not the same! When people want ‘flat abs,’ they are usually looking for weight loss, not abdominal strength and core support. As you develop body awareness, you will stand straighter and gain more flexibility with your body.

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How to Get Yourself Moving?

How to Get Workout Motivation?

Most of us have the best intentions when we start a new workout program. Something went wrong and we ended up sitting on our butts for six months straight as our muscles went into hiding and our waists expanded. It’s often hard to find proper Workout Motivation but its not impossible. Discover these little tips that will help you find motivation and maintain it long time too.

  1. How you feel after a workout. I always feel great after a good workout. It’s a high. And I let that motivate me the next time. You know how good you’re going to feel!
  2. Time for you. While many people make time to take care of others (kids, spouse, other family, co-workers, boss), they don’t often make time to take care of themselves. Instead, make your “you” time a priority, and don’t miss that exercise appointment.
  3. Calories burned. If you count calories (and it’s really one of the most effective ways to lose weight), you know that the more you exercise, the more calories you burn — and the bigger your calorie deficit.
  4. Having fun. Exercise should be fun. If it isn’t, try a different kind of activity that you enjoy. As long as you’re moving, it’s good for you.
  5. How you’re going to look. Imagine a slimmer, fitter you. Now let that visualization drive you.
  6. Magazines. It motivates me to read fitness magazines. Not sure why, but it works.
  7. Cover models. Sure, they’re genetically freaky, and probably Photoshopped to look perfect. But for some reason, looking at how good a cover model looks helps motivate me to work harder.
  8. Blogs. I enjoy reading blogs about people who are into running, or losing weight. It can show the ups and downs they go through, and you can learn from their experiences.
  9. Success stories. I find the success stories of others incredibly inspirational. If a fitness website has success stories, I’ll almost always read them.
  10. Forums. Do the monthly challenge on the Zen Habits forums, or join another forum full of like-minded or like-goaled peopled. Check in daily. It really helps.
  11. Rewards. If you exercise for a few days, give yourself a reward! A week? Another reward. Do it often in the beginning.
  12. Fitting into new clothes. Wanna look good in a smaller size? Work out!
  13. Being attractive. That’s always a good motivator, as I’m sure we all know. 
  14. Adrenaline rush. I get a rush when I exercise. Ride that rush to complete the workout.
  15. Stress relief. Wound up after a long day at the office? Get out and work off that stress. It makes a world of difference.
  16. Time for contemplation. I love, love the quiet time of exercise for thinking about things. Most of this post was written in my head as I exercised.
  17. A workout partner. Best thing there is. There is no better way to maintain Workout Motivation long time but with workout partner.
  18. An exercise class. Sign up for a class, perhaps with a friend, and you’ll be motivated to get there and work out.
  19. A coach or trainer. Worth the money, just for the motivation.
  20. An exercise log/graph. For some reason, writing it down is extremely important. Really. Do it for a week and you’ll see what I mean.
  21. Your before picture. You often don’t realize how far you’ve come. Take pictures.
  22. The dread of feeling “yuck” from not exercising. I hate how I feel after not exercising. So I remind myself of that when I feel tired.
  23. The scale. It’s not motivating to weigh yourself every day, as your weight fluctuates. But if you weigh yourself once a week, you’ll be motivated to have it keep going down, instead of up. Combine the scale with the measuring tape, and measure your waist.
  24. Reaching a goal. Set a goal for weight, or your waist measurement, or a number of days to work out, or a number of miles to run this week. Setting and tracking a goal helps motivate you to complete that goal. Make it easily achievable.
  25. Posting it on your blog. Tell people you’re going to lose weight or exercise daily, and report to them. You’ll make it happen.
  26. Motivational quotes. I like to print them out or put them on my computer desktop.
  27. Books. I just bought a strength-training book as a reward. It makes me want to hit the weights!
  28. Others commenting on how good you look. When someone notices the changes in your body, it feels good. And it makes you want to work out more.

How Much Exercise Do You Need

How Much Exercise Do You Need

how-much-exercise-bannerWhen it comes to physical activity, some is better than none, and more is better. If you don’t currently exercise and aren’t very active during the day, any increase in exercise or physical activity is good for you. Start slow, and gradually build up the length and intensity of your workouts over time.You don’t need to log all of your daily activity in one session: You can accumulate physical activity in 10-minute bursts, spread throughout the day.

Depending on age, there are different groups of exercises that you should try out.

Young Children (2 to 5 years)

Being physically active every day is important for the healthy growth and development of babies, toddlers and preschoolers. There is not a specific recommendation for the number of minutes young children should be active each day. Children ages 2-5 years should play actively several times each day. Their activity may happen in short bursts of time and not be all at once. Physical activities for young children should be developmentally-appropriate, fun, and offer variety.

Children And Adolescents

To maintain a basic level of health, children and young people aged 5-18 need to do at least 60 minutes (1 hour) of physical activity every day, which should be a mix of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as fast walking, and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as running. On three days a week, these activities should involve muscle-strengthening activities, such as push-ups, and bone-strengthening activities, such as running. Many vigorous-intensity aerobic activities can help you meet your weekly muscle- and bone-strengthening requirements, such as running, skipping, gymnastics, martial arts and football.

Adults (18 to 65)

Adults should do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity at a moderate level or 1 hour and 15 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity at a vigorous level. Being active 5 or more hours each week can provide even more health benefits. Spreading aerobic activity out over at least 3 days a week is best. Also, each activity should be done for at least 10 minutes at a time. Adults should also do strengthening activities, like push-ups, sit-ups and lifting weights, at least 2 days a week.

Older Adults (over 65)

To stay healthy or to improve health, older adults need to do two types of physical activity each week: aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. Older adults aged 65 or older, who are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility, should try to be active daily and should do 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity such as running or a game of singles tennis every week, and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

Moderate-intensity Aerobic Activity

Moderate-intensity activity will raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you’re exercising at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk but you can’t sing the words to a song. Daily activities such as shopping, cooking or housework count towards your 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity. It is also important to minimize the amount of time you spend sitting watching TV, reading or listening to music. Some activity, however light, is better for your health than none at all.

Vigorous-intensity Aerobic Activity

Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity means you’re breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you’re working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.In general, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity can give similar health benefits to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.

Muscle-strengthening Activity

Muscle-strengthening exercises are counted in repetitions and sets. A repetition is one complete movement of an activity, like lifting a weight or doing a sit-up. A set is a group of repetitions. For each activity, try to do 8 to 12 repetitions in each set. Try to do at least 1 set of each muscle-strengthening activity. You’ll get even more benefits if you do 2 or 3 sets.

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You can do activities that strengthen your muscles on the same day or on different days as your aerobic activity, whatever’s best for you. However, muscle-strengthening activities don’t count towards your aerobic activity total, so you’ll need to do them in addition to your aerobic activity. Some vigorous-intensity aerobic activities may provide 75 minutes of aerobic activity and sufficient muscle-strengthening activity. Exercise with our virtual fitness trainers to get the best exercise experience and and join meltdown challenge.

 

Exercise for Better Sleep

Exercise for Better Sleep

Better Sleep tips - Exercise BannerFirst of all, to understand Exercise for Better Sleep you need to understand Exercise-Sleep Connection - Everyone’s body temperature naturally goes up slightly in the daytime and back down at night, reaching its low just before dawn. Decreasing body temperature seems to be a trigger, signaling the body that it’s time to sleep. Vigorous exercise temporarily raises the body temperature as much as two degrees. Twenty or so minutes of aerobic exercise is sufficient to keep the body temperature at this higher level for a period of few hours, after which it drops. This lower body temperature is what helps you sleep better. So if you exercise five to six hours before going to bed, you will be attempting to sleep at the same time your temperature is beginning to go down.

People who exercised reported that their sleep quality improved, raising their diagnosis from poor to good sleeper. They also reported fewer depressive symptoms, more vitality, and less sleepiness in the daytime.

When it comes to having a direct effect on getting a good night’s sleep, it’s vigorous exercise in the late afternoon or early evening that appears most beneficial. That’s because it raises your body temperature above normal a few hours before bed, allowing it to start falling just as you’re getting ready for bed. So, try to schedule at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise three or four times a week.

Better Sleep quick Tips

  • Set a regular bedtime. Go to bed at the same time every night. Choose a time when you normally feel tired, so that you don’t toss and turn. Try not to break this routine on weekends when it may be tempting to stay up late.
  • Wake up at the same time every day. If you’re getting enough sleep, you should wake up naturally without an alarm. If you need an alarm clock to wake up on time, you may need to set an earlier bedtime.
  • Take naps to make up for lost sleep. If you need to make up for a few lost hours, opt for a daytime nap rather than sleeping late. This strategy allows you to pay off your sleep debt without disturbing your natural sleep-wake rhythm, which often backfires in insomnia and throws you off for days.
  • Be smart about napping. While taking a nap can be a great way to recharge, especially for older adults, it can make insomnia worse. If insomnia is a problem for you, consider eliminating napping.
  • Fight after-dinner drowsiness. If you find yourself getting sleepy way before your bedtime, get off the couch and do something mildly stimulating to avoid falling asleep, such as washing the dishes, calling a friend, or getting clothes ready for the next day.

Exercise and Bright Lights

Exercise may also help people to sleep because people often exercise outside, increasing their exposure to bright sunlight. This bright light exposure helps to properly regulate the body temperature which makes it easier to sleep better. Exercise and exposure to sunlight factors, may help explain why people find it so easy to sleep well when they have spent extended time outdoors.

Increase light exposure during the day

  • Remove your sunglasses in the morning and let light onto your face.
  • Spend more time outside during daylight. Try to take your work breaks outside in sunlight, exercise outside, or walk your dog during the day instead of at night.
  • Let as much light into your home/workspace as possible. Keep curtains and blinds open during the day, and try to move your desk closer to the window.
  • If necessary, use a light therapy box. A light therapy box can simulate sunshine and can be especially useful during short winter days when there’s limited daylight.

Boost Melatonin Production

  • Turn off your television and computer. People use the television to fall asleep or relax at the end of the day, and this is a mistake. Not only does the light suppress melatonin production, but television can actually stimulate the mind, rather than relaxing it.
  • Don’t read from a backlit device at night (such as an iPad). If you use a portable electronic device to read, use an eReader that has no backlit.
  • Avoid bright lights before bed, use low-wattage bulbs if possible.
  • When it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is dark. The darker it is, the better you’ll sleep. Cover electrical displays, use heavy curtains or shades to block light from windows.
  • Use a flashlight to go to the bathroom at night. If you wake up during the night to use the bathroom, keep the light to a minimum so it will be easier to go back to sleep.

Better Sleep = Less Stress

Stress is our response to daily life. It affects us emotionally, physically, and behaviorally. The right amount of stress can be a positive force that helps us to do our best and to keep alert and energetic. Too much stress, however, can make us tense, anxious, and can cause sleep problems. But, by having better, longer, and more quality sleep will get your stress levels back to normal.

Reducing stress can be tricky. This is why people often find themselves in need of a motivation to take such big steps in life. Join MeltdownChallenge - Stress Less Challenge and find out how other people take control over their stress levels and even win money doing so. There is no better and funnier way.

Easy Stretching Routine

Easy Stretching Routine

Exercising-makes-me-happy-bannerYou may feel awkward doing stretching exercises at your desk. But right now, as you sit there at your computer, you are doing one of the worst things you can do to your body – you’re sitting still. And not only that, but the way you sit — and type, and hold the phone – may be wreaking havoc on your bones, joints, and muscles.

If you want to keep your muscles flexible, the best thing you can do is stretch them regularly. Stretching doesn’t have to be reserved for only before and after workouts. You can do it anytime, anywhere, even in your office cubicle. The flexibility you’ll gain from stretching can also help you perform better when it comes to sports and agility. Use these basic stretches to start training your body to be more flexible.

First: Overall Stretch

Standing up, reach your arms to the ceiling; hold for five to 10 seconds. Bend to one side; hold again. Straighten and bend to the other side. Tip:Reach for tightness, not pain, with any stretching routine. In other words, stretch until you feel resistance, but don’t push so far that you hurt yourself.

Neck Stretch

Lower your chin to your chest and roll your head gently from side to side. TipPress, don’t bounce. Move slowly into any stretch and hold it for five to 10 seconds. Never bounce into a stretch; you can tear muscle fibers.

Shoulder Stretch

Reach your right arm across your chest and over your shoulder, placing your hand on your shoulder blade if you can. Hold for five to 10 seconds, then switch. Tip: Be symmetrical: Whatever you stretch out on one side of your body, stretch out on the other.

Back Stretch

Lie down on your back and bring both knees to your chest. Grasp your hands around your knees and gently pull your legs closer to your chest. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Tip: Stretch after exercise! That’s when your muscles are warm, which is the best time to improve your flexibility.

Chest and Biceps Stretch

Stand tall or sit upright. Interlace your fingers behind your back and straighten you arms. With arms straight, lift arms up behind you while keeping your back straight and your shoulders down. Keep the shoulders relaxed away from the ears.

Hip And Gluteal Stretch

Lie on your back with your legs extended and your back straight. Keep your hips level and your lower back down on the floor. Bend your left knee, placing left foot flat on the floor (not pictured). Cross your right ankle at your left knee. Grab the back of your left thigh and hug your legs toward your chest. Place your right elbow on the inner portion of your right knee and push it slightly to the side. Repeat on opposite side.

Tips To Maximize Your Flexibility From Stretching

  • Warm up with a light jog or ride on a bike for about 5-to-10 minutes before you stretch.
  • Don’t bounce or push to the point of pain while you stretch.
  • Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds, and exhale as you stretch.
  • Stretch at least two to three times a week. Try not to get out of the habit of stretching regularly or you could lose the range of motion you’ve built up.
  • Talk to a doctor about how to stretch any problems areas, such as joints where you’ve had a previous injury.

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Fighting Fat After 40

Fighting Fat After 40

Losing weight in your 20′s and 30′s is simple: just eat a bit less, move a bit more. If you crossed 40 maybe you found out that the pounds don’t peel off as easily as they used to or they come back faster than ever before.

Toxic stress triggers the release of stress hormones which leads to toxic weight gain. The average weight gain during the years preceding menopause (lasting five to ten years) can be two to three pounds or more per year. By controlling your diet (what and when you eat) and making exercise a part of your life you can minimize weight gain and stay fit at midlife and after.

What to eat after 40

fighting-fat-after-40Women are either stress resilient, stress over-eaters, or stress under-eaters. The diet plan for stress over-eaters should be designed for weight loss. For the stress-resilient ones a basic healthy balanced diet is just what they need. For the stress under-eaters, diet must include extras such as nutrition bars and shakes, granola, and nuts for extra calories.

We’ve identified our favorite healthy foods that not only help you lose weight, they also contain the nutrients you need to fend off age-related illnesses.

  • High-fiber granola barsA small British study found that women who eat a fiber-rich, high-carb breakfast burn twice as much fat during workouts later in the day as those who eat more refined (lower-fiber) foods.
  • Flax-seed - is rich in fiber and healthy fats, which help stabilize blood sugar, so you’re less likely to binge. Some research suggests flax can also help soothe symptoms of hormone swings.
  • WalnutsInstead of snacking on some chips, open up a bag of nuts: Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may keep you feeling fuller longer.
  • CinnamonSweeten your oatmeal or frothy coffee drinks with this sweet spice instead of sugar. You’ll also be doing your heart a favor as protective estrogen levels decline.

Try cereal, fresh fruit, and skim milk for breakfast. Sandwich, carrot and fresh fruit, celery sticks, and skim milk for lunch. Poultry or fish, vegetables and fresh fruit for dinner.

 After 40 weight control tips

  • Engage in exercise – Practice regular moderate-intensity physical activity — at least 30 minutes per day to control weight – and strength training
  • Pay attention to portion sizes - Actively think about what you are doing. Don’t eat out of boredom. If you do fell like you got spare time, use it to lose weight, not to gain it.
  • Include complex carbohydrates - like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, sorghum, farro, millet, spelt, quinoa, amaranth, khorasan wheat, frekeh, and teff.
  • Sleep well - Sleep is very important to weight management. Too little or poor quality sleep leads to weight gain, junk food cravings and increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.
  • Limit sugar intake - Sugar may cause unnecessary spikes and crashes of your blood sugar levels and, when consumed in excess, gets stored as fat.
  • Increase your lean protein foods - protein rich foods are eggs, nuts, beans and the most grains.
  • Take a vitamin D supplements - Also eat foods that are excellent sources of calcium, such as kale, chia seeds, or dairy products.
  • Increase vitamin C - found in citrus fruits, broccoli, peppers, can aid in keeping cortisol levels under control. Vitamin C is also essential in the production of carnitine, which the body uses to convert fat into energy.
  • Relax - When you’re stressed, cortisol rises. In cases of chronic stress your cortisol levels can reach extremes and even impair the function of your adrenal system altogether.

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Yoga And Weight Loss

Yoga And Weight Loss

yoga-and-weight-loss-bannerYoga is the physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India with a view to attain a state of permanent peace. The ultimate goal of Yoga is moksha (liberation) though the exact definition of what form this takes depends on the philosophical or theological system with which it is conjugated.

It has ability to foster an inward focus, making you more aware of how your body feels in all of your daily activities. That self-awareness can cause a shift in the way you think about how you treat your body in other ways, such as eating when you are hungry, rather than because it is your normal time to eat, and choosing to stop eating when you are satisfied, rather than over full.

Any style of yoga helps tone, lengthen, and strengthen the muscles, which can contribute to the sculpting of the body, but not necessarily to weight loss. Remember that muscle is, after all, denser and therefore heavier than an equivalent volume of fat tissue. According to yogic tradition, asana practice also gets the prana (vital energy) of the body moving, which can be helpful for you if weight gain, decreased energy, and sluggishness have appeared together.

Calories burned during yoga vary widely — from 180 to 360 per hour — depending on the type of yoga you practice. Certain poses, or asanas, are “killer apps” for weight loss, with benefits that far exceed mere calorie burning and muscle strengthening. Yoga speeds up the metabolism by stimulating endocrine glands that regulate the metabolic rate.

Certain poses can also help with trouble spots. You can try the following:

  • Shoulder stand and fish pose: Both rouse the thyroid, helping to give your body a metabolism boost .
  • Valrasana (spinal twist), a lengthening child’s pose, and cobra pose: These twisting poses massage the abdomen, target internal organs and aid with optimal digestion.
  • Dhanurasana (bow pose) stimulatesthe vital force of the liver.
  • Savasana (corpse pose) and Viparita Karani (legs up the wall) helps finding the right balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.
  • Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend) activates the internal heat of nervous system by lengthening the femoral nerve and the spinal nerves. This heat burns up and purifies visceral (deep) fat and subcutaneous (superficial) fat.
  • The dogs: Downward-facing dog  and upward-facing dog poses are particularly helpful in toning hips and thighs, also try Ardha Chandraasana(If you have digestive disorders, a spine injury or high blood pressure, avoid doing this pose).
  • Ardha Matsyendrasana: This aasana is specifically designed to increase the capacity of your lungs so it can inhale and hold more oxygen.
  • Pranayam is the best way to relax after exercise and allow your mind to reach a peaceful state.

But while you’re striking poses — particularly in fast-moving vinyasa or power yoga — it’s crucial that you pay attention to your body. Good alignment  is always important but when people are too focused on burning calories they sometimes compromise alignment.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Ask your doctor before you begin, and then go to a class, get a yoga DVD or get other how-to on basic yoga positions, or join meltdownchalenge.com to work out with professional trainers live via Skype.

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Weights or Cardio for You?

Weights or Cardio for You?

If you’re looking to lose weight, you might be wondering: Should I focus on doing cardio or should I train weight? Lets dig into it.

The important factor when it comes to boosting your metabolism and losing weight is recovering properly between workouts. This is why having a system is so important. Intense anaerobic training is stressful for your body. You need this stress to change your hormone balance, but if you over-stress yourself, it will lead to more problems.

Depending on their body type, people who easily put on muscle and people who easily put on both muscle and fat often find that they stay the same weight, or even gain weight, despite their shape improving. They gain muscle bulk, which explains why the scales haven’t shown a loss. Remember, the key to weight loss is to change your metabolism. While it’s easier to alter your metabolism through weight training than cardio, both will do it if the workouts are well designed.

It depends what you mean by “lose weight.” If you are in an epic battle with your scale, cardio is the way to go. If you want to look steamy under those fall sweaters, though, it’s time to cozy up to strength training. Cardio indisputably burns more calories than strength training, which could explain why compared to strength trainers, aerobic exercisers lose more weight in less time.

In one study, dieters lost 20 pounds whether they performed cardio or strength training. But for the cardio group, six of those pounds came from muscle, while the lifters lost almost pure fat.

Ask yourself what is the Goal

Your primary goal will give you a general starting point for figuring out exactly how to balance your training, as well as what type of cardio and weight training you should be doing. In addition to your primary goal, you will also need to take into account two other major factors:

  • Your Body Type – Are you naturally slim? Do you gain muscle easily? Do you tend to hold onto fat readily?
  • The Type Of Cardio Training You’re Doing – Is it high-intensity or low-intensity? Does it fatigue you for weights? Does your weight training fatigue you for your cardio?

Weights and Cardio Myths

We should debunk some popular Weights and Cardio Myths.

Weight Training Will Make You Bulky - During the initial stages of any kind of intense training, especially one you’re not used to, your body releases excess amounts of the hormone cortisol, which causes your body to retain water. Some people think this means they are bulking up when, in reality, it’s just the body adapting to the training. 

Cardio Doesn’t Build Muscle - Cardio is a term for any training that elevates your heart rate for the entire workout. Adding muscle increases your metabolism and that’s what helps you lose weight. Cardio does build muscles.

Training To Gain Muscle vs. Training To Lost Fat

If you’re training to lose fat, you’re going to need to do more cardio than someone who is training to gain muscle. A good starting point is three times per week, 20 to 30 minutes per session. Depending on the other factors we’re going to discuss, you may need more or less than this. Weight training three times per week should be sufficient to maintain and even build muscle mass.

With fat loss, your primary goal should be burning calories while sparing as much muscle as possible. Since you’re most likely eating fewer calories, your body is not going to be eager to add muscle, therefore it’s best to focus on keeping what you’ve got. If you’re training to gain muscle, you will need to do less cardio training. Too much cardio can actually hamper your muscle gain by slowing recovery and burning up calories that your body needs for the process of building muscle.

Summing it up

Whether your exercise routine is focused on cardio or weight training has very little to do with whether you’ll lose weight. The best training programs have elements of both aerobic and anaerobic training. For a well-rounded, fat-busting workout routine, your best bet is to swap the treadmill for resistance training. Strength training moves like dead lifts, squats, pull-ups, push-ups, and lunges should form the basis of your workout. If you hit the gym three times a week, focus on total-body strength training your first two days and cardio on the third.