Wednesday, August 31, 2016

How Yoga Helped Me Finally Lose Weight

How Yoga Helped Me Finally Lose Weight Hero Image

The debate over whether yoga is an effective tool for weight loss has been discussed for years. Many believe that yoga is not fast-paced enough to burn the number of calories required for true weight loss. Others swear by yoga and say it's an extremely effective way to shed pounds.

While everyone is different, I am living proof that yoga is extremely effective when it comes to lasting weight loss. When I first rolled out the mat seven years ago, I was 85 pounds overweight. I was unhealthy, unhappy, and fueled by a passion for binge-drinking and pizza. 
When I first announced my mission to lose weight through yoga, I remember people laughing at me. "Yoga doesn't help with weight loss! You have to bust your butt in the gym to get real results," people told me. 
Less than one year after practicing yoga six to seven days per week, I lost a total of 85 pounds.
My weight loss was a direct result of a committed yoga practice coupled with a plant-based diet. No other exercise or gym equipment was required. I shed excess fat using nothing but a yoga mat and my own body weight.
If you have yet to roll out the mat, the practice may appear to be just a light stretching routine, rendering it an ineffective way to lose weight and increase lean muscle mass. For those of you who already practice yoga, you know that this is a severe misconception. Yoga demands a great deal of both physical and mental strength, focus, endurance, and flexibility.
To truly grasp the concept of how weight loss and yoga go hand-in-hand, we must understand the three layers that our energetic bodies are comprised of: the mind, body, and soul. Each layer depends on and affects the other two. When one layer is unbalanced, such as the mind, the body and soul follow suit. 
You cannot have a healthy body and pure soul if the mind is overactive and unbalanced, which is the case for more people than not. Luckily, yoga has a way of uniting and creating harmony among these three key decision-makers that rule your life. 
When all three bosses get along, everything runs in a more balanced and efficient manner. You have a real chance at success—and weight loss!
Without further ado, let's break it down. 
The Mental
When you embark upon a yoga journey, you will begin to see things in a new light. Yoga transforms you from the inside out—and typically in that order. 
As your practice leads you down the rabbit hole of truth, consciousness, and connectedness, you begin the process of "waking up." The process of becoming aware. The process of disconnecting from the ego, also known as that incessant little voice in your mind that constantly dwells on problems.
Since the ego clings to unhealthy attachments, it is responsible for fueling bad decision-making. When the mind is tamed through a consistent yoga practice, the soul is essentially set free. You become liberated from identifying with the same old sad stories that the ego has been using as a tool to imprison you for far too long. When you stop living obsessively in your head and start identifying with the voice, positive change always follows.
You will begin to take pleasure in what actually feels good instead of acting according to the ego's version of what feels good. As a result, unconscious and destructive habits are revealed. This insight leads to better decision-making. Lifestyle changes and healthier food choices are guaranteed to follow, resulting in weight loss.
The Physical
Yoga offers hundreds of asanas (postures) contained within a countless number of flows or sequences. All postures deliver a variety of physical benefits. Additionally, almost every pose addresses detoxification on some level. Detoxification encourages the purification of both the body and mind. This directly affects weight loss as it eradicates the stagnant junk in the body that weighs us down. 
Although all types of yoga are effective when it comes to purification, burning calories, improving flexibility and muscle tone, calming the mind, and providing a feeling of inner peace and contentment, if your goal is to lose weight, certain practices are more effective than others.
If you want to burn fat and keep it off, power yoga and vinyasa flow are what you should be focusing on. These are both fast-paced flows that provide the perfect mixture of cardio and strength-training. The dual combination is a potent cocktail geared toward effective fat burning and increased lean muscle mass. These two types of yoga enable the body to burn anywhere from 400 to 600 calories per hour. This is equivalent to the number of calories burned during a typical hour in the gym! 
And finally, The Soul
When the soul is awakened through yoga practice, the things that used to please you just no longer cut it. When you are in touch with your spiritual nature, you begin to realize that life has deeper meaning. You come to understand that destructive habits no longer serve your ultimate goal. This awakening directly affects weight loss because it encourages the elimination of unhealthy habits.
For example, eating until you are so full that you can barely move and have to unbutton your pants. Or drinking to the point at which you can barely stand up, let alone walk in a straight line. You will quickly come to realize that these detrimental behaviors do not please the soul. They do not actually feel good. In fact, they feel pretty bad!
What pleases the soul is contentment in the current moment. What pleases the soul is a pure body and mind. A clean temple that permits the wise eternal layer within you to shine brightly for the world to see.
When you get to this point of detachment in your practice, you realize that the only authentic way to see the world is through the eyes of the soul. Instead of identifying with the ego and allowing it to dominate your life, you begin to realize that "you" are not your mind. "You" are the soul. You are the observer of the racing mind that encourages you to overeat, get drunk, and gravitate toward unhealthy food.
If you are serious about losing weight and getting fit, implement a 60-minute power yoga and/or vinyasa flow practice at least five to six days per week. Make sure to couple your practice with a natural diet for optimal results. In my experience, as well as many others who have had similar transformations, eliminating unnatural substances—or non-foods, as I like to call them—such as meat, animal products, and processed junk makes all the difference. Also, try not to drink alcohol more than once a month. Just one measly drink can sabotage seven days of hard work.
So roll out the mat. Connect with your breath. Detach from that destructive inner voice. Tune in to your spiritual nature that connects every cell of your body to the universe. Liberate the soul. And get ready to bask in the glory of all the positive changes that are coming.

~Thanks to Jennifer Niles 

Friday, August 12, 2016

How to Keep Fruits And Vegetables Fresh for Months

1. Apples

Store apples in a plastic bag in your fruit crisper drawer, away from vegetables in an area which is cooler than 30 degrees. Here, they will last for weeks.

2. Beets

You can store them for 2-4 months in the refrigerator. Cut off the greens, and then store them in a perforated plastic bag, and then in a vegetable crisper.

3. Cabbage

Though they taste best when fresh, they can last up to 2 months if wrapped in plastic and stored in the fridge. This trick also works for other delicate leafy green vegetables due to their high water content.

4. Carrots

A way to keep carrots fresh for months is to keep them dry. Wrap the carrots in a paper towel, and put them in a plastic bag. Change the paper towel whenever it gets saturated.

5. Garlic

A temperature of 60-65 degrees in moderate humidity is enough to make them last for months. Store a whole bulb in the refrigerator in a paper bag. Don’t take them out of the fridge until you’d like to use them.

6. Onions

Store them in a dry area with temperature between 30-50 degrees F. This way, they will stay fresh for close to a year. Keep them in mesh bags, and store them in a dark cabinet to make them last for longer than a month.

7. Potatoes

Store them in a place maintaining 40 degrees F. Keep them away from light to avoid them from turning green. Basements or cellars are the perfect places for potato storage. Here, they will stay fresh for up to 2-4 months.

8. Radishes

Remove the greens from the radish, and put them in a plastic bag lined thickly with paper towel. Don’t store too many radishes in one bunch. This way, they will last for almost a month.

9. Winter Squash

All varieties of squash will last between 2-6 months if stored in a dark cabinet. Keep all your squash in a single layer in your cabinet to let air circulate around them.
~Thanks to Cure Joy

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Ab-tastic Workout — No Equipment Required


While Akin Akman can usually be found shouting feel good mantras from the seat of a SoulCycle bike, come summer, he likes to head outside the dark studio for some fresh air…and a good sweat sesh.
For an ab-blasting sequence, Akman says your body weight along is enough to leave you shaking to your core (literally) in a quick and easy way—meaning you can get back to all those fun, summer activities ASAP.
“These two moves, especially when combined, target all areas of your core and will leave you feeling strong and powerful—and definitely feeling it the next day,” he promises.
Plus, it takes less than five minutes, meaning you can squeeze in a hardcore (get it?) workout while on your lunch break, when you’re hanging out by the pool, or during The Bachelorette commercial breaks (hey, no judgment here).
But this means no excuses. So go on, drop and feel the burn anytime, anywhere.akin-shoulder-tap

Shoulder Tap Plank

1. Begin in a plank position, with your hands below your shoulders.
2. Lift one hand off the ground to tap opposite shoulder and bring it back down, before switching sides. Be sure to keep hips and shoulders square to the ground and avoid lifting hips to keep your torso still. Alternate for one minute.
Photo: Akin Akman

Leg Lift

1. Start with your legs outstretched, core engaged, and arms above your head.
2. Then, simply lift your legs a few inches off the ground, keeping your back flat and arms above your head. Hold for one minute before releasing to the ground.
~Thanks to Katie McGuire

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The 9 Best Exercises for Weight Loss, Ranked in Order of Effectiveness

Cranking out any kind of exercise on the regular can help you lose weight, but by strategically planning your sweat fest, you can get to your goal faster—and who doesn't want that?
To make your workouts as efficient as possible, we ranked the best exercises for weight loss based on calories burned during your workout, including the estimate for the number of calories burned for a 125-pound person and a 185-pound person (the more you weigh, the more calories you tend to burn on any particular task). 
And since we know that the calories burned during your workout aren't the only ones that matter, we're addressing how to modify your workout to ramp up the afterburn effect. That way, your body can continue to burn calories at a higher rate—even after you hit the showers. Now go forth and burn, baby, burn! 

Throw these moves into your gym routine for more calorie-torching power.

The move: Jumping rope (120 skips per minute)
The burn: 667-990 calories/hour
The bonus burn: As it turns out, this little rope is actually a big-time fat burner. Try using a weighted jump rope to engage your arms and shoulders even more.
Before people we're sweating it out to get in shape, they were doing some pretty cray cray things. Check out some of the weirdest weight-loss trends through history:
The move: Running (10 min/mile)
The burn: 566-839/hour
The bonus burn: After running at a steady pace, you’ll continue to burn extra calories over the rest of the day. (If that's not motivation to tackle the treadmill nothing is). To torch more during and after your workout add short bursts of sprints or faster running into your jog, says Tamir. He recommends keeping a 2:1 work-to-rest ratio to get the most afterburn. For example, if you run for 60 seconds, walk 30 seconds.
The move: Kettlebell intervals
The burn: 554-822 calories/hour
The bonus burn: Tamir says that a HIIT circuit using kettlebells can keep the afterburn going for 36 hours after you leave the gym. To get the best results, make sure you’re doing a fluid circuit and not stopping to rest between each move. Tamir recommends switching between upper- and lower-body movements so you can keep exercising for a longer period of time. Try doing a set of kettle bell swings, kettlebell squats, and kettlebell push presses. Then, rest for 15 to 20 seconds after completing the three moves.
The move: Kickboxing
The burn: 582-864 calories/hour
The bonus burn: Whether you’re kicking it on your own or in class, make sure you keep the rest periods between rounds of jabs and kicks super short. Aim for 30 seconds of rest for every 90 seconds of sparring. 
The move: Stationary bike (at a vigorous pace)
The burn: 498-738 calories/hour
The bonus burn: To get the most afterburn, Tamir says to start with 10 seconds of intense pedaling and 50 seconds of rest. Then, move to 15 seconds of sprints and 45 seconds of rest, and do 20 seconds of sprints 40 seconds of rest after that. Don't forget to turn up the resistance as you progress!
The move: Rowing machine (150 watts)
The burn: 481-713 calories/hour
The bonus burn: To get maximum torching power, row in super-fast one-minute intervals, and take 30- to 60-second active rest periods by alternating between squats, pushups, and planks.
The move: Stairs (77 steps/minute)
The burn: 452-670 calories/hour
The bonus burn: Whether you’re working the Stair Master or running steps around town, à la Rocky, stair climbing provides a good mix of aerobic and anaerobic exercise. To up the ante, hold a one- to five-pound dumbbell in each hand to get your upper body fired up, too.
The move: Elliptical/arc trainers (resistance level 8)
The burn: 322-478 calories/hour
The bonus burn: If you’re after a better burn, don’t keep the same pace the entire time you’re on the elliptical. Vary the incline and levels of resistance to keep things interesting (read: challenging).
The move: Power yoga
The burn: 226-335 calories/hour
The bonus burn: To get the most burn, sign up for a power vinyasa flow class. “Strength-driven practices, where you match the breath with the movement, is where you would have the most afterburn,” says Tamir.
~Thanks to Macaela McKenzie

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Destress, Build Bones, & Boost Metabolism

By now, you probably know that stress takes a tremendous toll on your body, often showing up in the form of headaches, intestinal issues, weight gain, hypertension, insomnia, and other health problems.
Did you know stress also wreaks havoc on your bones and calorie burning capacity?
If stress travels with you like unwanted baggage, take advantage of summer's slower pace to let it go, boost metabolism and build strong bones. By making a commitment to incorporate these stress-reduction techniques into your summer routine, you will stand taller, breathe easier, feel stronger and burn more calories.

First, let's take a quick look at how stress impacts your health.

  • When stressed, your body releases the hormones cortisol and insulin.
  • Elevated cortisol and insulin lead to increases in blood sugar, cholesterol, and signals the body to store fat and not build lean muscle.
  • Stress causes salt retention.
  • Stress decreases gut flora, healthy bacteria, needed for good digestion.
  • Stress decreases the amount growth hormone in your body which is needed for growth and to build muscle.
  • Stress decreases thyroid hormone needed to regulate metabolism.
  • Stress increases inflammation in the body and oxidative stress and causes premature aging.
  • Stress increases nutrient excretion.  The body excretes calcium as well, chromium, selenium, magnesium, zinc and all the micro minerals, through the urine, from going to your bones for the good of other tissues-it's like the anti-Vitamin D.

Slow Down to De-stress. 

Don't worry-if changing gears doesn't come naturally, it's very hard for me, too. Thankfully, summer's warm temps and laid back attitude presents the IDEAL environment to slow down. For me, heading to Oconomowoc Lake, Wisconsin for time with my family and friends beside the beautiful lake with huge oak treed lawns helps me truly relax and recharge.

Here are 5 tips to help you de-sstress:
  1. Cut down on your commitments. Say "NO".  Create a NOT to-do list.
  2. Take a vacation, spend time in nature, and truly unplug (NOTE: this means your mobile phone and laptop also take a rest!) Try not to worry. What you resist, persists!
  3. Practice deep breathing, rhythmically, which short cuts the stress response and allows you to feel relaxed very quickly, which increases calorie burning capacity.
  4. Read a good book; catch up on your summer novels!
  5. Get quality sleep and give yourself permission to nap. Sleep deprivation increases the hunger hormone, ghrelin, which causes refined carbohydrate and sugar cravings.

Summer also presents the perfect season for strengthening bones, as you're naturally more active in the warmer months. Cycling, walking and Pilates are my exercises of choice, especially in the morning to get my day started right; it's a great option for stress reduction, which in turn helps keep cortisol levels regulated. Simple daily walks, weight training and finding loving ways to move your body will go a long way toward rebuilding your bones.

Reducing caffeine and other acidic foods such as animal protein, milk, packaged foods and soda, and adding in a nutrient dense array of colorful whole foods from summer's harvest helps ward off bone deterioration. Fruits and vegetables, especially calcium rich leafy greens and those high in lycopene and polyphenols such as tomatoes, berries and watermelon are particularly beneficial for bone health. Additionally, Food + Oxygen = increased calorie burning capacity.  

Am I stressing you out?  Move to De-stress  Eat to De-stress
Take deep sips of air before and during each meal. Eating under stress slows down metabolism. Turn on the parasympathetic nervous system by relaxing, which burns more calories and boosts metabolism! So, in the remaining weeks of the season, claim your space in the hammock, spend time with the people you love, take a walk in nature, catch up on your summer read, and fill your plate with dark leafy greens, fresh fruit and lots of vegetables. Your body-and bones will thank you. Keep your eye on the prize: a long and healthy life!

~Thanks to Karen Malkin

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