Friday, February 6, 2009

Resistance Band Workout

Resistance bands are a great, portable way to maintain or gain physical fitness, whether you are on the run or not. They are easy to pack into a suitcase or bag, making them ideal for the busy traveler or business person. Resistance bands are just as effective, if not more so, than dumbbells, because the constant tension involved in using a bad versus a dumbbell puts a constant tension on the muscle- meaning you can't escape!!! It is hard to cheat with resistance bands. They can add a nice little twist to even the seasoned athlete's regimine. There are literally hundreds of various exercises you can do with resistance bands to work every muscle in the body! You can vary the tension or resistance making your workout more challenging, and you can vary the types of bands to change the intensity of it. Listed are a few basic exercises. These are a good place to start if you are new to resistance band exercise, because they hit all the major muscle groups. I found the following excerpt from
It demonstrates the exercise as well as the proper form and motion.

Resistance bands are available in a range of colors that relate to their stiffness or resistance. Color-coding varies between the brands but it typically as follows:

Yellow (thin)
Red (medium)
Green (heavy)
Blue (extra heavy)
Black (special heavy)
Silver (super heavy)

Resistance band squats

Resistance Band Squats
1. Start by stepping on the resistance band with both feet shoulder width apart.
2. Hold the resistance band at shoulder level with both hands. Start into a full squat while holding the band at shoulder height.
3. Return to the starting position and repeat.

Resistance band rows Resistance Band Bent Over Rows
1. Start by placing the band under one foot and stepping backwards with the other foot.
2. Bend over keeping your back flat and stop at a 45 degree angle.
3. Pull the bands up towards your waist keeping your elbows in close together.
4. Squeeze your shoulder blades together when performing rowing motion.

Resistance band chest presses Alternate Lying Chest Presses
1. Lie on your back and place the resistance band under your back and hold the ends with both hands.
2. Start by pressing one arm up towards the ceiling and then return to the starting position. Repeat with the other arm.

Resistance band woodchops Diagonal Woodchops
Starting Position: Loop the band under your left foot and grasp either end. Keep hands together and extend arms down towards left foot.
1. Bring band up and away in a wood chopping motion.
2. During this motion your feet stay stationary and you rotate at your trunk. Repeat this motion for the desired repetitions and then repeat in the opposite direction.

Resistance band triceps extension Triceps Extension with Resistance Band
1. Start by holding the tubing in one hand and placing that hand behind your back.
2. Now grab the other end of the band with the arm that is over your head.
3. Extend the top elbow until your arm is fully extended.
4. Return to the starting position and repeat for the prescribed repetitions.

Resistance band lunges Resistance Band Lunges
1. Stand with feet hip width apart. Take left leg and step back approximately 2 feet standing on the ball of the foot. Place resistance band under front foot and hold the other end with your hands. 2. Start position: Feet should be positioned at a staggered stance with head and back erect and straight in a neutral position.
3. Lower body by bending at right hip and knee until thigh is parallel to floor. Body should follow a straight line down towards the floor.
4. Return to start position.

Resistance band lateral rows Lateral Rows with Resistance Band
1. Step onto resistance band with feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent.
2. Start position: Grasp ends with a neutral grip (palms facing each other). Arms should hang down to sides with elbows slightly bent.
3. Raise band to side of body at shoulder height keeping elbows only slightly bent.
4. Return to start position.

Biceps curls with resistance bands Biceps Curls with Resistance Band
1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, and at a staggered stance.
2. Step onto middle of tubing with back foot or both feet.
3. Start position: Grasp ends with underhand grip (palms facing forward) with arms hanging down at sides. Elbows should be close to sides.
4. Flex at the elbows and curl band up to approximately shoulder level. Keep elbows close to sides throughout movement. 5. Return to start position.
6. Remember to keep back and head straight in a neutral position throughout movement. Shoulders should be stabilized by squeezing shoulder blades together slightly - only the elbow joint should be moving.

Now use your imagination! Search the web for more fun and challenging exercises or workout plans you can use when you can't get to a gym, or simply don't have the time. The result will be lean, strong muscles, to support you in all your travels!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Have a healthy, happy brain!!!

I recently posted this article on about how to cope with depression naturally without prescription medication. The nice thing is, you don't necessarily to be full blown depressed or diagnosed by a doctor to get "the blues". In fact, everyone gets that way from time to time, and using all natural and beneficial supplements is a great way for ANYONE from the massively depressed to those just feeling a little down to get a great mood boost! I have tried most of these and they really are amazing! If you would like to know how to have a more chipper disposition, read on!!!

Depression is becoming one of the most popular medical conditions today. Nearly everybody has experienced depression in varying degrees throughout their life, but for some people, it can be absolutely devastating and life hampering. Depression can be brought about by my different things- chemical imbalances, death, divorces...
Signs may include insomnia, sadness, change in appetite, and even thoughts or attempts at suicide.
The are literally millions of people taking prescription medications to treat their mild to severe depression. Even kids now too! Drugs like Prozac, Zoloft, ****, Valium, and ****- all come with dangerous and unpleasant side effects. There are , however, many wonderful natural alternatives to these sometimes deadly chemical-laden drugs. In addition to any natural supplements, I recommend maintaining a healthy balanced diet to keep your body and brain running smoothly, getting plenty of exercise for the good endorphins, and finding some form of spiritual sustenance, whether it be meditation, church, or just a nice long bath.

Take a multivitamin! What an easy way to cover a ton of bases! Taking a multivitamin will help ensure that your body is getting all the vitamins and minerals it needs to function at it's best. (Often times, health conditions arise as a result in some kind of deficiency!)
Pick a good one though!!! Centrum and One-a-Day are sadly the most well known and consumed, but they are a HUGE waste of your money! They are cheap for a reason are ridiculously ineffective. Check out my blog for tips on what makes a good multi and how to pick one.

A multivitamin will also supply plenty of B Vitamins, which are important for healthy brain function. A deficiency in B vitamins (especially B12) can result in depression and irritability. Also, cocktail lovers beware!!! Alcohol destroys B vitamins, which can lead to a vicious circle of depression and alcohol.
If you choose to take a B vitamin complex in addition to your daily multivitamin, generally you should take one 50 mg tablet daily. Don't worry about getting too much B vitamins, because they are water soluble, meaning that whatever your body does not need, it will flush out!

Get your Omegas!!! Especially Omega 3 fatty acids which are critical to the proper functioning to many systems of the body especially the brain. You'll come across the terms EPA and DHA which are the acids that compose Omega 3 fatty acids. Eating more fish is an easy way to get more healthy fats in your diet, but you can also opt for a fish oil supplement. Exercise caution when choosing though, some are less potent than others and may contain mercury. Make sure they are purified and check for the total amount of EPA and DHA which ranges from 300 to 1000 per pill. Also, don't be scared of any fishy odor or burps- most supplements today are formulated better to reduce those unpleasant "side effects". One way to avoid this to throw your fish oil supplements in the fridge or freezer to keep them fresher longer.

Fish oil supplements are very beneficial for many other health conditions. Basically, if you can think of a health issue, fish oil most certainly will help it. Children suffering from ADD, ADHD, or any cognitive disabilities have been shown to have great improvements by taking a fish supplement because it is so beneficial to the brain. There are many kid friendly versions out there too so it is easier than ever to have a healthy and smart kid!

5-HTP helps boost serotonin levels. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. It is very effective in helping get a good night's sleep as well as treat any brain disorders. It is a fraction of the cost of prescription medication and has proven to be equally effective with none of the side effects.

Tyrosine is amino acid that plays a major role in mood control, mental function, and even sex drive! It aids in the function of the adrenal, pituitary, and thyroid glands which control hormone levels in the body. (Can you say PMS!?) Depressed people often have low levels of Tyrosine in the brain and many prescription medications are used to boost Tyrosine levels. It helps reduce stress, increase mental function and alertness, ease depression and anxiety, and to top it all off, Tyrosine can help you lose weight!!! It has been shown to possibly build muscle and burn body fat as well as help control appetites in some emotional eaters who turn to food when they are depressed! It is best to take this supplement on an empty stomach so it doesn't have to compete with other amino acids for absorption.

St. John's Wort is a fairly well known natural depression treatment. It acts the same way as MAO inhibitors do, but less harshly. Many people have used this supplement with great results compared to a placebo.

*WARNING* - Always exercise caution and consult your doctor before begining any supplements.

If you are taking prescription antidepressants, and want to switch to natural supplements, do not discontinue your prescription drugs without first consulting your physician.

  • Always eat a healthy well rounded diet to ensure you are getting the vital nutrients your body and brain needs to function properly.
  • Exercise! You'll do yourself a huge favor in so many ways. You'll look great and by releasing all those good endorphins, you'll feel great as well!
  • Drink water! A hydrated brain is a happy one!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Apple Cider Vinegar

I am amazed if I haven't already wrote about apple cider vinegar in this blog. I LOVE IT! It is an amazing power supplement to add to your arsenal against aging, disease, and obesity!
Perhaps you've heard of it? Apple cider vinegar has been around for eons and rightly so. Because it works!!! It is claimed that apple cider vinegar is helpful in ailments such as constipation, headaches, arthritis, weak bones, indigestion, high cholesterol, diarrhea, eczema, sore eyes, chronic fatigue, mild food poisoning, hair loss, high blood pressure, obesity, along with a host of many other ailments. Hundreds of years of usage can't be wrong!
If you choose to give ACV a try, make sure to go with the organic unfiltered kind which will have brownish tint to the liquid. It may also appear to have web like particles floating about, in it, but that simply ensures that it is a high quality and still retains many nutrients.

The best way to have the vinegar is first thing in the morning. Mix two tablespoons each of apple cider vinegar and honey in a glass of water and drink it. This solution may taste slightly acidic, and may not seem to be the best way to start your morning, but once you know of the immense benefits that follow, it will not feel all that bad. Many find that following this routine first thing in the morning helps in eliminating constipation, which is one of the prime causes of many diseases. Constipation is also sometimes the cause of headaches - leading to a bad mood, deprived sleep, and a lethargic feeling the whole day. Once the constipation problem is solved, all the other symptoms vanish immediately, making you fresher and extremely active whole day long. Following this morning regime helps minor skin rashes vanish and the skin texture too improves, leaving you radiant and glowing naturally.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Flat Abs?! Yes please!

Pilates has definitely been a buzzword in the celebrity fitness world as of lately. Everyone from slim Gwyneth Paltrow to hard body Madonna seems to be doing Pilates. Apparently, it works!
Pilates focuses on strengthening your body's core muscles (abs, back, etc..) which help to keep the body more balanced and promote good posture. Not only will this help you function better in your daily life, but as a result your abs will be tighter and mightier than ever! Regularly doing Pilates has shown amazing results time and again, resulting in greater weight loss, improved muscle tone, and decreased back pain!
Pilates is simple enough for even the most inexperienced beginners and difficult enough for the biggest fitness enthusiast.
I hate to admit, but I definitely was humbled by a doing a few bouts of Pilates. I weight train and do cardio consistently and pretty intensely. I definitely take my training quite seriously. I'm no stranger to core training, I understand the components of a thorough core workout and regularly incorporate them into my workouts. As a result, I have a flat belly, with increasingly lovely ab definition. (Which I am quite proud of!) So, I think that this Pilates will be a walk in the park. It definitely appears decieving with it's relaxing "yoga-like" feel. After being lulled into a false sense of security, I began to proceed through several workout DVDs. Throughout the workout I was fine, probably as a result of regularly using my core already, but let me tell you, the next day and week after invoked the most pain I have ever felt in my abs. EVER! A good pain though...the pain that reminds you of how worthwhile a workout really is!
It is amazing experience for those of you newbies who may have been curious about it. And as for you hard core gym goers- if you want an awesome new workout to complement to your ab and core workout, toss this wild card in there!

More good news- Pilates is safe and beneficial for ALL ages! Which means, if you are a mommy and you feel you don't have time to exercise, you can certainly invite your little ones to join, and still get an amazing workout in just 20 minutes if you're really pressed for time! You can show your kids that being healthy is fun, easy, and makes them feel good! If you can promote a healthy lifestyle in your children while they are still young, then the chances of them maintaining that lifestyle as they get older is much greater, which will reduce their risks of developing high cholesterol, diabetes, arthritis, and it will help them maintain a healthy weight and mind! :)

Seniors have something to get excited about when it comes to Pilates too! Many older folks tend to avoid any structured exercise for fear of not being able to do them. There are however modified workouts developed those over 50! Pilates can be extremely beneficial to the older community by strengthening core muscles as well as the entire body. By doing so you are also reducing the odds of any bone fractures, reducing arthritis pain, increasing flexibility which can increase mobility for those who have a hard time getting around. Of course always consult your physician before beginning any workout problem, especially is you have any pre existing health conditions.

Here is a list of the key benefits of doing Pilates:

Tone and build long, lean muscles without bulk.
Reduce stress, relieve tension, and boost energy through deep stretching.
Restore postural alignment.
Create a stronger, more flexible spine.
Increase joint range of motion.
Improve circulation.
Heighten neuromuscular coordination.
Offer relief from back pain and joint stress.
Correct over-training of muscle groups which can lead to stress and injury.
Enhance mobility, agility and stamina.
Compliment sports training and develop functional fitness for daily life activity.
Improve the way your body looks and feels.

While Pilates is an amazing workout, I do recommend using it in addition to a workout plan consisting of resistance/weight training and regular cardio. Don't forget to try to maintain a healthy diet and nutrition program which will enhance the efforts you are making in your weight loss goals!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Shut Up Oprah!

Who doesn't like Oprah? I even confess to secretly indulging in her show if it happens to be on. I am not a die hard fan, but even a non- follower of Oprah knows about her overly publicized weight loss battle. She's skinny, then fat, then skinny, then chubby, etc... her weight yo-yos up and down so often, I am amazed that people are so willing to take her weight loss advice as gold! She is a normal person, so of course she is easy to relate to. She has her weight issues like many other people. But, that is because... SHE IS MAKING THE SAME MISTAKES AS EVERY OTHER OVERWEIGHT HUMAN BEING!!!
I'm sorry this is a bit of a vent, but I am tired of seeing all these people who want, and sometimes desperately need to lose weight and get in shape, not just for the aesthetics, but for their overall health! If I have to hear one more "miracle weight loss solution" from Oprah, so help me God....
Obviously, the woman hasn't gotten it right yet, so think about that before you jump on her next bandwagon for acai body cleansing or whatever crapola she claims is the answer. Here is a little secret- THERE IS NO MIRACLE WEIGHT LOSS SOLUTION! Sorry. There simply is not. The reason you cannot lose weight is the same reason everybody else can't lose weight. You are making the wrong choices regarding eating and exercises. It is not a difficult concept. In fact, it is one of the easiest and healthiest changes you can make.
Keep in mind---If you want to lose weight, and KEEP IT OFF, you need to start living a healthier lifestyle.

The only things you need to do for total body transformation are:
1- Eat right
2-Move more
3-Love yourself
4-Realize that only YOU have the power to change your body and your health. And trust me, you DO have the power.

You have to hold yourself accountable.
Often times, people are their own worst enemies, and they don't even realize it. If you don't think you can squeeze in that workout and push yourself, then it is your own fault. If you don't think you have the motivation to stick to a healthy diet, you are WRONG! You are the maker of your own destiny, and after you realize this and begin to take control of your own life and body, you will finally be able to achieve anything!
This is the truest thing I know! 'Cause I've been there. I've been overweight and clueless like 90% of people out there. I've felt I was powerless to control the fate of my own weight and even my very health! Luckily, I stuck to my guns, and thank goodness for a little willpower, I managed to find that "magical solution" which is no solution at all, it is simply to live your best life, and to live it for YOU!

Heat up your Metabolism!

Cayenne pepper.
You probably have it in your kitchen. You probably didn't know that it held a multitude of health benefits including weight loss! Cayenne’s benefits are derived from the active ingredient capsaicin. Capsaicin gives cayenne its heat. That's where the weight loss comes in- by ingesting this pepper you are literally heating up your body's fat burning furnace! Your metabolism can skyrocket and your energy levels will too! Did I mention that it can curb food cravings?!
The recommended way of taking this awesome spice is approximately 1 tsp of pepper mixed in a glass of water. You can use more or less depending how well you can tolerate it. There are capsules if you wish to go that route, but from what I have heard, they aren't quite as effective.

Ok, I understand that the idea of chugging down a glass of water with cayenne pepper may not sound too appealing to most people. I understand. I, on the other hand, am crazy enough to have tried it. I gotta say, it is definitely worth it! I like to take it right before I go to the gym to help me burn more calories and fat, and let me tell you, it definitely perks you up! Maybe instead of reaching for that morning coffee, do your body a favor and down some pepper water for that wake up jolt!!!

In addition to it's evident weight loss benefits it is also touted as a wonder spice for digestion and circulatory health! In fact, it is so powerful, that it can stop a heart attack within seconds! Regularly downing this fire water will also reduce your chances of blood clots, because it actually dissolves them! Pretty amazing stuff! It may seem a bit extreme for some, but given all the benefits and posititve reviews I have found on it, I would say give it a shot! You've got nothing to lose, it will only make you healthier!