Ways to Work Out from Home


Face it, with today’s hectic schedules; it is difficult enough to make time for the important stuff like laundry, meal making, grocery shopping and house cleaning. More and more common what little free time we have for exercise gets sidelined driving around getting our kids or our dry cleaning or what have you. By the time we have all of our day’s things done, it is way too late to do any of the things that you wanted to do like go on a jog or swim some laps at the pool.

And yet somehow it is not as impossible as we thought to get an excellent workout at home. Working out does not necessarily have to mean going out.

Stair workout

Do you know how many steps that there are in your home? You can exercise your heart and lungs just by leaving the hamper behind and taking a few extra trips up and down the stairs with your laundry. Remember to start your workout with a set of five or ten trips up and down to get warmed up, and don’t take those stairs too quickly either! Even if you don’t have many stairs in your house you can still get a great workout with just one! Just use the first step at the bottom of a stairway instead of buying a stair stepper. Put on your favorite workout CD and get started, start with you right foot and then switch back and forth, then repeat stepping up with one foot for a while and then the other. Add some variety to your workout too, go into a squat as you step up, or make a side step every few steps. And don’t forget your upper body during this! As you step up raise your arms up in front of you and then as you step down let them come to rest at your sides.

Pet Workout

Don’t like the idea of staring at the stairs during your workout? Let’s find some better scenery for you. Grab your iPod or a loved CD and take the dog for a walk. The dog will enjoy it and you’ll be benefitting from a good cardio workout. You should try to move to the rhythm of the music, and if you’re feeling especially brave or alone, sing along too, No dog? We can work around that too. You’ve finished eating and have cleaned up after the meal, don’t plop on the sofa, turn up the music and dance! The whole family can get in on the fun, and it will help boost your stamina as well! And this is no time for a slow dance, swing those arms around and lift your knees up to get the most from this fun workout!

It’s so easy to workout and home, why aren’t you doing it already? These are just two examples that you can implement – How many more can you come up with? 

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Do Online Diet Plans Work?

As our lives become more focused around online activities, it was only natural that diets would make the move towards becoming more online based. There are literally thousands of different sites that purport to help you lose weight, but do these plans really work? For many dieters, they do, and it’s due to the fact that online diets include a few things that a book or an exercise plan can’t provide. Let’s take a look at why online diets can be successful, and whether or not they may be right for you.

The first component that helps online diet plans reach such a phenomenal success rate is the fact that they often have a community atmosphere. Support is a vital part of being able to lose weight, and when you have access to hundreds of other people that are going through the exact same problems that you are. Having that support system can make a big difference, both in motivation and in having a shoulder or three to lean on. This may be the biggest reason that online diet plans are so successful.

The next component is the ability to easily log and calculate what you are eating. It’s tough trying to keep track on paper and you may not always have access to dietary information on food. Most online diet sites include calorie calculators as well as common labels for many different types of food. They offer interfaces that allow you to easily add up what you’re eating and figure out more about your food choices. Sometimes, seeing it in front of you like that makes all the difference in the world.

Thirdly, online diet plans can offer a greater degree of accountability. When you are involved in a community atmosphere, there is that competitive element that can help motivate you and help you stick to your diet. When you are seeing your progress in black and white, and where you may be having problems, it’s easier to learn how to stick to your diet and keep going.

Online dieting also offers a degree of anonymity that appeals to many people. You’ll be able to share your problems with other people, but they never really have to know who you are. For those that are embarrassed about their weight problems, this offers a level of freedom that is unparalleled and it may be the turning point in helping them finally reach their fitness and health goals.

Online diets may not be for everyone, but there is evidence that they can make a big difference in how you lose the weight, and how you stay motivated. If you don’t feel like joining a membership site, there are other ways that you can harness the power of the Internet to help you on your weight loss journey. Whether it is through a blog that details your efforts, or using online calculators and software to help you track your progress, the resources that are available online can be incredibly beneficial to those looking to lose weight. 

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Making Winter Fitness Plans

As summer winds to a close, it’s time to start thinking about what you plan to do to keep fit over the winter. If your current exercise plan requires you to be outdoors, or if you live in an area where extreme temperatures or weather events make it hard to travel to a gym, it’s important to put together a plan that will allow you to keep fit, no matter how bad the weather gets.

Many people make the mistake of forgetting to make their plans, and end up completely off their fitness tracks just a few months into winter. If you don’t want this to happen to you, the key is making sure that you are prepared. It doesn’t take long to come up with alternative plans and if you’re already to go, it won’t be any big deal to implement your plan when bad weather hits. Here are a few ideas to get you going.

1. Consider indoor swimming.

This is a great way to stay fit in winter, and if you live in an area where it is very cold outside, there is nothing quite like getting in a nice heated pool. Swimming is great cardio exercise and there is no impact, so it is perfect for those that are either coming off of an injury, or for those that aren’t quite ready for strenuous exercise. Even though it’s joint friendly, you can still get quite a workout by swimming a few laps. Most towns should have at least one indoor swimming pool and larger cities will have gyms that offer this feature.

2. Walk inside.

If you are into walking to keep fit, transferring your walks indoors will ensure that you are able to stick with your exercise plan no matter how cold it gets. Consider signing up at a gym that has an indoor track, or you can always walk for free at a local mall. Walking is a great way to get your heart pumping, and it’s also one of the easiest ways to get exercise.

3. Start a gym membership.

If you need to use exercise equipment, or you want the structure that a class can bring your exercise plan, you may want to consider signing up at a nearby gym. The one downside is that you may not be able to get to the gym if there is bad weather, but you can also set up alternative plans for those days ahead of time.

4. Get a few pieces of exercise equipment for your home.

If you don’t want to work out at a gym, but you would still like to get a good workout, consider picking up a few pieces of workout equipment and making a small home gym that you can use anytime, rain or shine. You can even get great deals on equipment at local garage sales or even consignment stores.

Winter doesn’t have to mean an end to all of your hard work and great progress. By planning ahead, you’ll be able to stay on your fitness track all year round. 

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Fads Every Dieter Should Ignore

Even the most sensible dieter can be lured into a fad diet by outrageous claims and seemingly easy results. However, there are a few fads out there that can be incredibly dangerous, especially if you are not in good physical condition. While some fad diets are harmless and are designed to make only your wallet lose weight, there are many irresponsible fads out there that could do a lot more damage. Here are just a few that every dieter should ignore.

1. Starvation Diets –

While fasting is a religious practice that many swear by, if you have never fasted before, it is all too easy to harm your body. It is especially important to avoid this type of diet when there are extreme temperatures. For example, fasting in winter is not advised since your body will need more calories to keep warm. Fasting in summer can cause a myriad of health problems, especially if you become dehydrated.

2. Unsafe Purging Diets –

To put it simply, surviving for a weekend on some pre-packaged juice and supplements is not a smart idea. Besides the natural reaction of spending all of your weekend running to the bathroom, this type of diet can quickly deplete your body’s natural resources. You can easily run too low on your potassium, sodium and water levels, and this can lead to dehydration or in severe cases, a heart attack.

3. The tapeworm diet –

Does this one really need to be stated? Judging from the amount of people who have bought the idea hook, line and sinker and visit the website, sadly, yes. Having a parasite take up residence inside your body is a bad idea. Yes, you may lose weight, but you are risking permanent harm to your internal organs. Parasites are something everyone should avoid, not welcome.

The last entry on this list illustrates that desperate people will go to desperate measures, even if they know better. While 98% of us would probably recoil from the thought of welcoming Mr. Tapeworm into our stomachs, there are those that may actually stop and think, “well, gee, that would be nice – I could eat whatever I want.” It is this segment of the population that is most at risk for being harmed by fad diets.

While this is certainly an extreme example, we included it for one main reason. There are many fad diets out there that are just as dangerous – if not more so – than the tapeworm diet. The bottom line – if it doesn’t sound healthy, if it is not something your doctor would recommend, if it involves putting your body through extreme stress, it is not worth it.

Keeping the right perspective on fad diets is essential and that is something that no dieter should ignore. Losing weight is important, but not at the cost of your health. Stick to the tried and true methods of eating right, exercising regularly and staying motivated. It’s a lot healthier than the alternatives. 

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Review: Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes

Good Calories, Bad Calories took the author five years to write, and it contains some groundbreaking information that will undoubtedly be the cause of much controversy. Whether or not you agree with Taubes assertions, the book is certainly well worth the read and it is obvious that he did put a lot of research into it as well as time.

The main assertion of the book is that we become fat due in a large part to the types of calories that we eat. By focusing on good calories and cutting out the bad calories in our lives, Taubes insists that it is much easier to lose weight and stay healthy. He is against, for an example, carbohydrates, stating that due to the fact they raise insulin levels, they make it impossible to lose weight. There is a lot of strong science to back that up, and to the author’s credit, he does mention good carbs.

Our main issue with the book was the author’s stance on exercise. He maintains that exercise can actually help you gain weight instead of losing it. The basic premise here is that because you are doing more, you are hungrier and will eat more. Again, it sounds good on paper, but there are many other reasons and scientific assertions that back up the fact that exercise is vital. Granted, it can make you hungrier, but if you are eating the right foods and making sure to fuel up before and after exercise, this can be prevented.

It’s difficult to wholeheartedly recommend a book that is so anti-exercise. While there is a lot of truth to what Taubes says, at the end of the day, there is no substitute for adding a healthy workout plan to your diet. With care, you can avoid falling into the trap of eating too much after exercising, and it just makes sense that burning calories will help you lose weight.

That said, the book is still a fascinating read, if for no other reason than it discusses the different types of foods that can actually promote weight loss, while bringing up the foods that you should avoid. Beginning dieters may be thrown off track by some of the advice however, but those interested in learning more about nutrition, or those that are well versed in dieting would be able to get quite a lot out of this book.

It has some flaws, but it is still an interesting take on the whole diet equation. If for no other reason, the book has value in that it exposes a lot of the diet industry foibles and poor research that is rampant in the industry. Read it if you’re looking for more information on health in general, or how to eat right, but don’t take it as gospel when it comes to finding an effective way to lose weight. If for nothing else, you’ll be able to learn a lot about the food you eat. 

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Local Produce from Farmers Markets


During the latter half of the summer and the earlier part of the fall, you are dealing with what is the perfect season for visiting a farmers market. There are small “mom and pop” style stands and larger, more organized markets offering extensive selections from multiple vendors. No matter which option you choose, you are definitely going to find it to be worth the trip if you are trying to expand your horizons in terms of fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy food choices. Experiencing food in its finest forms is a great way to encourage even the pickiest people to try a few nibbles of something new. When it comes to consuming fresh fruits and vegetables, the farmers market is definitely the perfect place for you to find some brand new and fabulous foods that will suit everyone in your family.

Benefits of Farmers Market Shopping

1. One of the greatest benefits of shopping at the farmers market is that the vegetables and the fruit are grown locally and they are picked at the peak of ripeness, meaning that their aroma, their taste and their texture are all enhanced greatly for better enjoyment.

2. Another benefit is that farmers market prices are typically much lower than what you will find in traditional grocery store outlets.

3. Buying locally at farmers markets is eco-friendly! Our current system for food transportation and food distribution requires the expenditure of incredible amounts of energy as well as resources. The average food item in the US is going to travel more than 1,300 miles before it reaches your dinner table. 10 percent of the energy that goes into the food system is for the production of the food, and the other 90 percent goes into transportation, packaging and marketing of the food, and many environmental problems are created by this inefficiency and wastefulness.

4. Not only does shopping at a farmers market benefit the local farmers in your area, but it also builds strength for your entire local community as well.

5. Because the produce you buy is being picked at the absolute peak of the season, the phytochemicals and the nutrients are going to be more abundant. According to Hippocrates, we should allow food to be our medicine, and this is a great way to do it. In part two of this article we are going to talk more about the phytochemicals and nutrients that can be found in fresh produce. Do not try to remember all of the names belonging to these different phytochemicals as it will only bog you down. What you should remember is that eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables is the absolute best way to benefit from all of the healthy nutrients that fresh fruits and vegetables have to offer you, especially when they are at the peak of the season and freshness. 

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6 Ways to Tell When Exercise Is Hurting You

We’ve all been conditioned to think that unless we “feel the burn” we’re not working hard enough when we exercise. However, there is a fine line between reaching that optimum fat burning zone and over doing it. Here are some tips to help you figure out when your exercise is hurting instead of helping you.

1. You feel pulling or popping.

This is not good! You want to feel a slow, fluid stretch and pulling should not be involved. If you feel or hear popping, this is also not a good thing. Stop what you are doing and slowly stretch while you cool down. This will help prevent any further injury. If you are in too much pain, you may need to seek some physical therapy to undo the damage.

2. You feel acute pain.

There is a big difference between “the burn” and physical pain. If you are seconds from crying out, or in actual real, physical pain, you are not doing the exercise correctly, or you are attempting to do too much. Stop, and once again, stretch out the problem area. If you are injured, seek help immediately.

3. Breathing is nearly impossible.

It’s one thing to breath hard after an exercise, it’s another to start gasping, or worse, vomiting. While this can be a normal reaction for someone that is not fit, it is not a good one. This means that you have overexerted yourself. Cool down properly and try to take nice deep breaths. It may take a few minutes to return to normal.

4. You feel dizzy or your heart feels like it is pounding out of your chest.

This is a sign that you have gone past the point of burning fat and entered your zone of “too much.” Start walking slowly and take deep breaths. If you are too dizzy to move, sit in a quiet spot but do not put your head between your knees. Have some water and drink it slowly. If your heart rate does not come down, you may need to get some help.

5. You cannot move the next day.

Being a little stiff and sore is one thing. Being crippled is another. While you’re not going to be able to go through your first few workouts without a little after workout soreness, you should not be in serious physical pain. This means that you did too much and took your muscles too far. Try soaking in a bath and avoid exercise for a day.

6. You have an actual injury.

This is the most obvious sign that you went too far. Whether it is a pulled muscle, or a broken bone, you need to make sure that you are not doing too much too soon. Work with a trainer to devise a safe workout plan that is built for you, not someone in peak physical condition. By being honest with yourself, you can train the right way and avoid injury. 

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Snacking Without Ruining Your Diet


One of the major reasons that people have difficulty keeping on their diets is the urge to snack. For many of us, it’s hard to get through the day without having at least one snack. However, that one snack can easily turn into ten and before you know it you’re grazing all day long, adding useless calories to your daily intake. While snacking can be important, you’re going to need to be smart about it to make sure that you can stick to your diet.

When we need a little snack fix, most of us reach for a bag of chips or a candy bar. It’s a quick fix and provides you with that burst of sugar that will make you feel pretty good right away, but not so good later on. The key to snacking without ruining your diet is picking the right kind of snacks. It may take a little while at first to get used to eating healthier snacks, but before long, you’ll be able to prefer it.

Start by figuring out how many calories you want to eat per day. Add up your three main meals and then figure out how many calories you have left over. This can be used as a guide to help you pick the snacks that will keep you on your diet. You’ll also need to figure out the times when you are most likely to snack and target some changes in your regular meals to help you get through the day.

A great snack will contain enough protein to give you the energy you need to make it to your next meal without feeling deprived. Over the long term it is much more effective than carbs at keeping your body fueled right. For example, instead of that can of soda and a serving of chips, which can equal more than 300 calories, have one serving of low fat cottage cheese. This contains only about 80 calories and can actually be quite satisfying. Nuts, nuts, nuts… Almonds are particularly good for you, but almost any kind of nut is a great source of energy and in appropriate amounts nuts will fit into any diet. (5 almounds is equal to 1 protien serving on my diet. I get 14 protien a day.) Even a small block of cheese, a serving of tuna or some other small treat can be a great low calorie high protein alternative. A really great healthy snack that I just picked up at the local Costco (seriously tastes great) is dry roasted and lightly salted edamame aka soybean. 70% Less fat and 40% more protein than peanuts… one serving is 14 grams of soy protein and 2 net carbs.

Figure out what kind of protein snacks you like to eat. If you are one that absolutely needs to feed your sweet tooth, look for special protein bars that are low in calories and carbs while high in protein. These can provide a great boost of energy and keep you balanced all day.

Earlier, we mentioned that it is also important to figure out what times of the day you are most likely to snack. This is usually a sign that you are not eating a balanced enough meal before hand. For example, if you have a lot of carbs for breakfast, that sugar is going to wear off well before lunch, leaving you feeling hungry. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but is should contain enough protein to give you the fuel you need to make it to lunch. 

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The 5 Most Common Diet Myths


When it comes to dieting over the past 100 years, there have been so many new techniques and advice books that they could literally fill a library all on their own. With these new techniques have come a lot of myths that have been ingrained in our consciousness. We may not even know where we picked up a factoid, but we’re certain that it is true. There are numerous diet myths out there that are not only false, but also harmful. Let’s take a look at the most common ones.

1. Carbs are evil.

While in large quantities carbs can be very bad for you, each and every one of us does need carbs in a balanced diet. The key is finding the right kind of carbs. Yes, you should stay away from refined flour, white rice and other high-starch foods. However, adding whole grains, oats and other smart carbs can actually help you lose weight. You’ll still be able to lose weight without feeling so deprived.

2. You can target zones of fat on your body.

While it would be great if this were true, it simply is not. There is no magic belly fat buster. We all have our problem areas and it would be terrific if we could target them, but it’s just not true. If you want to lose weight in your stomach, you’re going to have to eat less, exercise more and wait for the results. You’ll lose fat all over, not just in your stomach.

3. It’s a good thing to trick your body into dangerous medical states.

One of the most common diets involves cutting out carbs so that your body thinks it is in a state of ketosis. While it sounds like it could work, this is actually quite dangerous in some cases and may even cause organ damage. There are medical conditions that can cause a fatal form of Ketosis. Do you want to mimic one of these dangerous conditions? It’s just not smart without doctor supervision. As we mentioned earlier, we all need carbs, we just need to eat the ones that are “smart.”

4. Starvation or fasting is an effective weight loss tool.

This is patently false. Although you’ll see quick results, you are doing irreparable harm to your body’s metabolism. When you go into starvation mode, you’re telling your body that it needs to store more calories, not less. Once you’re done with your fast and you go back to eating normally, that weight you lost is going to pile right back and then some. That’s right, you’ll be gaining more weight since your body is now thoroughly confused.

5. You can lose tons of weight without exercise.

While this would be great, the only way to consistently lose weight without exercising is by starvation or deprivation. Yes, reducing calories will make you lose weight, but you’re going to eventually plateau. A healthy diet includes the right amount of exercise to keep building lean muscle mass, the key to continuing your journey to burn fat. 

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