Friday, June 30, 2006

Walk Yourself To Health & Fitness

Does life feel so good that you cannot wait to get out of bed in the morning?
With the sedentary lifestyle so many of us lead nowadays, the chances of feeling like this are a little on the minus side. Hours of sitting at computers, driving to work and then watching TV at home, all lead to being overweight, having posture-related aches and pains and a general feeling of sluggishness.

These physical symptoms lead to mental sluggishness too. So we are trapped in this cycle of lethargy, draining us of our vital energy.

In order to lignite that vital spark, we need to break this cycle and the way to do it is...exercise. Exercise should not an optional extra that we fit into our lives when we feel like it, it needs to be an essential part.

Body and spirit are inextricably linked, so to achieve a healthy mind, you must firstly have a healthy body.

In order to make exercise an ingredient of our everyday lives, something that we will stick at, it needs to be fun. It needs to be enjoyable, challenging, motivational, have variety, achieve the desired results and suit your body and lifestyle.

One of the most natural forms of exercise is walking. Walking is an aerobic exercise that will not only increase your cardiovascular strength, but improve your posture as well. Whereas any form of walking is beneficial, the most powerful is...Power Walking.

There are numerous benefits to be gained from power walking and some of them are:
- Cardiovascular fitness is improved and thus the risk of coronary disease and strokes is reduced.
- Mental well-being is improved resulting in a reduction in anxiety, stress and tension.
- Muscles are toned and strengthened.
- Helps to reduce body fat and manage your body weight.
- Boosts energy and improves your self esteem.

The above are just a few of the physical and mental benefits to be gained from power walking. One benefit that deserves special mention and is often overlooked, is that if you walk with friends, it is socially enjoyable. This ensures that your power walking exercise is fun and not an activity that has to be endured.

Power walking is a low cost form of exercise. No special clothes or equipment are necessary to be able to participate. However, there is one item that I would strongly recommend and that is a good pair of walking shoes. Each time your foot hits the ground, it is subjected to two and a quarter times your body weight, so the purchase of walking shoes is a wise investment.

So, muster your friends, grab your walking shoes and power walk yourself to new levels of physical and mental well-being.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Why Exercise?

Why? Most of us do it because we want to reap the benefits that tag along; such as: weight management, muscle tone, fat-loss, strength gain, etc. Nothing compares to exercise and everyone should be doing it. This is where a motive must come in. It may be health related it may include a big event such as a wedding, reunion, or even a friendly competition. Whatever your motive is, think about it long and hard, and think about the feeling you will have once you achieve whatever it is you want to accomplish.

Set Goals

It is hard to hit a goal when you do not know where the target is! That is why goal setting is crucial in achieving victory. You want to set short term and long term goals. Setting a long term goal by itself is not smart. This is like driving to a foreign destination with no map or guidelines to help you along the way. Try setting a short term goal to be reached every three to six weeks. By doing so, you are allowing necessary adjustments to be made if needed. This will keep you on the track to success. The long term goal is your motive that you have already visualized, it is your climax, it is not however the end. Once you have achieved it you will re-evaluate and set new goals.

How Do We Get There?

Which way is fast and most efficient? This is the most important question we ask ourselves in the beginning; however this question should be asked each time a short term goal is reached to prepare for the next. We all have different goals, physical capabilities and lifestyles. There are no one size fits all workout programs!

Once we manage our lives into an exercise program, we must then keep in mind that our bodies will adapt to that program within four to six weeks time. When this happens our bodies will then become stagnant in producing results. It is extremely important that we cover many avenues in fitness so that hitting plateaus can be prevented. This includes changing the number of sets, repetitions, the amount of intensity (resistance), the amount of rest time among sets and workouts. Changing the types of exercises performed must also be done over time.

This is not only the most productive way of exercising but, it also helps to keep things fresh so that boredom is not a problem. Remember, workout time is supposed to be fun, which can make reaching goals very exciting! So, what is your motive?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Lose Weight With SparkPeople

I've been a member of the SparkPeople community for some time. Although I don't have to lose much weight, I like to hang around because of the daily recipes, tips, etc. I get, and because of the great community forum. It is unbelievable nowadays that you get so many tools, resources and help to lose weight at no cost at all. So I'm recommending them to you: Get a Free Online Diet

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sprouting Seeds at Home

Sprouting seeds is a fast and easy way to get fresh food, even during the winter months. They also carry plenty of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and enzymes. And above all, they taste great!

You can sprout many kinds of seeds, including alfalfa, various beans, pea, red clover, broccoli and radish. Just make sure you buy seeds meant for sprouting, or at the very least certified organic seeds, since seeds meant for planting could be contaminated with bacteria.

No expensive material is needed to get started. You only need a glass jar, some cheesecloth, a rubber band, fresh water and of course some seeds. Wash your jar first with water and vinegar, and rinse well.

To start growing your sprouts, you need to soak the seeds first. Put one or two tablespoons of seeds (depending on the size of the seeds) in the jar. Cover with the cheesecloth and secure with the rubber band, add some water and swirl to clean the seeds. After that, drain the water and add one cup of fresh water. Prop the jar at an angle in a bowl so the water drains. Let the seeds soak overnight.

The next day, empty the water and rinse with fresh water. Drain the water and put them back in their spot. Do that twice a day. In three to six days, your sprouts should be ready, at about one or two inch. The best way to know if they are ready is to taste them!

When they are ready, expose them to the sun for a few hours to green, rinse off the hulls and drain. Put them in a plastic (or even better: glass) container and store in the refrigerator once they are dry. If the sprouts are big enough, you can use a salad spinner to dry them. Sprouts from small seeds can keep for almost a week, while sprouts from bigger seeds can keep for about four days.

Now that your sprouts are ready, how to eat them? They can be used instead of lettuce in sandwiches, tacos, hamburgers and hot-dogs. They are also a great addition to salads, soups and vegetable or Chinese dishes. You can even try to add half a cup of sprouts per loaf in your homemade bread for a more nutritious loaf. I love eating them on a slice of homemade or other organic bread with tahini spread. Just use your imagination!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Good Fats and Bad Fats

All of us have probably heard that too much fat in our diets is bad for our health. However, not all fats are bad. In fact, some fat is actually good for us and is required by our body for proper function. Some of the uses that fat has in our body include:

1) Helps our body in the production of hormones

2) Insulates and cushions our body and internal organs

3) Keeps our skin and hair healthy

3) Regulates our blood pressure

4) Helps to improve brain function - especially in children

5) Provides us with energy

6) Lowers bad cholesterol levels

7) Alleviate symptoms of PMS and Menopause

8) Lowers our risk against heart disease and other cancers

9) Helps to transport certain vitamins through our bloodstream

Understanding the differences between fats, therefore, can be helpful to understand whether the fat content in a particular food will be helpful to you or harmful.

Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats are a rich source of Vitamin E and essential fatty acids which we need but can't be made by our bodies. These fats help to lower bad cholesterol levels, ease symptoms of PMS and aid in motor coordination. Polyunsaturated fats can be found in sunflower oil, safflower oil, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, and sesame seeds.

Monounsaturated Fats

Like polyunsaturated fats, it is thought that monounsaturated oils also assist in the lowering of bad cholesterol levels. Additionally, a diet rich in monounsaturated fats have been associated with lower risks of cancer and increased longevity. Some foods that are rich in monounsaturated oils include: olive oil, Angola oil, sesame oil, avocados, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, humus, mackerel, and lean meat.

Saturated Fats

A diet high is saturated fats have been proven to raise the levels of bad cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease, cancer and obesity. These fats have been found in large quantities in such foods as: cheese, lard, cakes, chocolate, pies, pastry, cookies and meat.

Trans Fat

As bad as saturated fats are for our health, Trans fats are even worse. Trans fats are nothing more than saturated fats that have been chemically modified in the food manufacturing process. And not only do they increase the levels of bad cholesterol in the body but they also lower the good cholesterol levels as well. There is also a link between Trans fats and various forms of cancer and heart disease. Trans fat is sometimes listed on the food label; however is mostly found in margarine, cookies, cakes, puddings, fried foods, chocolate bars and in many fast foods.