3 Reasons to Sweat Every Day

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How often do you embrace a good sweat?

Sweating occurs with an increase in body temperature. This can be brought on by several factors, such as anxiety, sickness, or physical activity.

Most people avoid sweating, as it’s inconvenient and uncomfortable. But sweating has many benefits, especially when the sweat is a result of exercise. For your next workout, push yourself to the point of a prolonged sweat and take note of how you feel afterwards.

In the meantime, check out these 3 reasons why I recommend sweating every day.

Sweating promotes healthy skin. First off, sweating helps keep your pores clean. As you perspire, bacteria and sebum in your pores can be flushed out and later washed away. Clean pores are the foundation for healthy skin and minimize your chances for blackheads and acne. Sweat can even act as a prebiotic which helps promote healthy skin bacteria, keeping any bad bacteria in check.

Sweating is a form of detox. The body is always trying to keep toxins out and works to expel them when they find their way in. A good sweat will flush out toxins which supports healthy immune function. Studies have shown that sweating is an effective method of detoxing certain heavy metals as well as other chemicals found in the environment.

Sweating gets you out of your comfort zone. How often do you exercise at the same comfortable intensity? You may go through the motions, but don’t always put in the effort to fully take advantage of the time invested. Sweating is a sign that you’re pushing yourself beyond what your body is comfortable with. It’s a gauge for your efforts when it comes to exercise. If you’re not exercising at a level that makes you sweat, you’re leaving a lot of room for improvement.

Obviously, if you sweat, you need to re-hydrate. Clean filtered water is always the best option, but if you sweat a lot or for an extended period of time, you may need to re-introduce some electrolytes. Adding a pinch of sea salt or Himalayan pink salt to your water can help with this and a slice of lemon or lime can add a bit of flavor and increase the pH factor as well.

So don’t be afraid to get comfortable with being uncomfortable for your next workout. Break a sweat and enjoy the benefits.

Bust Through That Plateau

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Bust_Through

As you continue your quest to lose weight and improve your health, you know how challenging it can be when you hit a plateau. You work harder and harder but nothing seems to happen.

A great thing about the human body is that it will adapt to the environment you put it in. For example, if you increase your activity levels and decrease your caloric intake, chances are, you’ll lose weight as your body sheds stored fat.

But, there are many things to take into consideration besides calories in and calories out when it comes to weight loss. If your body is able to meet the demands, it no longer has a reason to change or adapt. This is generally what happens when you hit a plateau. Rather than giving in to the frustration, try the following tips to keep your body moving in the right direction.

Think progression. If you aren’t pushing your body to do a little more each week, your results will fizzle out over time. Get in the habit of keeping a workout journal and recording your workouts from week to week. You can progress by lifting more weight, shortening your rest periods, increasing the volume of your workouts, or adding intervals to your cardio routine, just to name a few. Plan out your workouts for the next eight weeks and be sure to incorporate some form of progression each week.

Exercise properly. Too many people get in the habit of focusing on just cardiovascular exercise to help them lose weight. Walking, running, and biking are all great forms of exercise, but too much of it without a balance of strength training could be setting you up for minimal results. In addition to burning more calories than you take in you must maintain or increase your metabolism by building more muscle density while keeping your hormones in check. Too much monotonous cardio could actually tear down muscle tissue and increase stress hormones, therefore wreaking havoc on your metabolism and your results. Focus on a balance of strength training and cardio – so if you’re working out five days per week, three of them should include strength training and the other 2 can be cardio, with each workout lasting around 30-45 minutes.

Feed your body. Don’t make the mistake of starving your body and thinking you’ll lose weight faster. Your caloric intake will depend on your activity level and the amount of muscle mass you have on your body. If you eat too few calories you will lose precious muscle mass, so you may lose weight, but the wrong kind. As you lose muscle your metabolism will weaken along with your ability to burn fat. In addition, make sure you’re getting a balance of macronutrients. Too many carbohydrates and too little protein or healthy fats will impede your ability to burn fat. Get your body fat measured and determine you daily caloric needs and macronutrient percentages based on your goals.

Rest hard. If you’re working hard, you need to allow for proper rest. Most of the positive changes to your body occur when you’re resting or sleeping, so missing this recovery window will slow your results. Focus on getting a good night’s sleep every night and learn simple ways to relax or de-stress throughout the week. Take care of your body and you will see positive changes.

So try these tips to bust through a plateau or to avoid one altogether. You’ll be seeing results in no time.

Tips to Boost Your Vege Intake

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Blender-Veges-small

Eating a variety of fresh foods is a great way to ensure your body is getting well-rounded nutrition. What better food than vegetables to deliver many of these much needed nutrients? But wait, aren’t vegetables boring, tasteless, and unsatisfying? If your vegetable preparation relies on the microwave, it’s time to expand your options to get more out of these powerhouse foods.

Use your blender. Smoothies are a great way to make a quick breakfast or snack. A fruit and vege smoothie tastes great and is even better for you. If you’re new to smoothies, add the following to your blender: 1 large handful of fresh spinach, ½ banana, 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries, ¼ cup sunflower or flax seeds, and 1-2 cups of water or coconut water. This nutrient dense shake packs more punch than any breakfast bar or cereal. Enjoy the smoothie by itself as a snack or have it with a side of eggs or a serving of lean meat for a well rounded breakfast.

Include a vegetable in at least one of your daily snacks. Cherry tomatoes, snow peas, baby carrots, celery, and peppers are great grab-and-go snacks that add nutrients without adding extra calories. Pair them up with some hummus, Greek yogurt, or almond butter to add more flavor.

Have a side salad with your lunch. Rather than having a typical appetizer or bread before lunch, have a fresh salad with a variety of vegetables as a healthy alternative. Cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, zucchini, onions, arugula, spinach, and romaine taste great in a fresh salad. Choose a healthy dressing such as a balsamic vinaigrette or just add olive oil and spices.

Double up your vegetables for dinner rather than having a starch such as rice or potatoes. Two servings of veges along with a quality protein source make a well-balanced meal that doesn’t load you down with calories at the end of the day when you’re least active. When choosing your two vegetables, pick two different colors – such as broccoli and parsnips. The more color variety, the better.

Learn how to cook and be creative. It’s amazing how many great dishes include vegetables, you just have to take the time and learn the skills to create healthy options. Foods such as meatloaf, burgers, meatballs, and casseroles can have grated zucchini, chopped spinach, or diced peppers baked right into them. Baking and grilling vegetables can really bring out the natural flavors and make for a great meal. For example, asparagus and chopped peppers grilled on a cedar plank with a bit of coconut oil and spices will really wake up your taste buds. Pair with a grilled salmon filet and you have a meal that will truly satisfy.

So start adding more vegetables to your diet and move one step closer to taking control of your health.

 

 

Strength Training with Heavy Weights

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Do you ever lift heavy weights when you exercise?

So many people who come to us for help have mainly focused on ‘cardiovascular exercise’ in the past such as running or biking. For those who have done strength training, it’s usually been with light weights.

Now, these types of exercise are great and have many benefits, but don’t be afraid to incorporate heavier weights into your workouts. With any strength training, form is key, and especially with heavier weights, be sure to listen to your body and know your limitations. Of course the term ‘heavy’ is relative, but choose a weight that you can perform correctly for 3 to 6 reps and incorporate no more than one heavy exercise per workout.

The following exercises are great movements to use heavier weights with. You’ll want to be experienced and confident with these exercises before attempting to go heavier. Always warm up properly before lifting a heavy weight.

Deadlift

Barbell Deadlift. To perform a deadlift, step up to a weighted barbell with shins nearly touching the bar and feet hip to shoulder width apart. Squat down toward the bar as you keep your heels firmly planted while maintaining a natural curve through your back. Grasp the bar about shoulder width and tense your body. As you lift the weight, push your feet into the floor while exhaling. Be sure to keep the bar close to the body as you lift. Maintain your posture throughout the lift, keeping tension through your shoulder blades and core as you rise to the top position. Control the weight back down to the floor and repeat.

Dumbbell Chest Press. With a dumbbell in each hand lie back on a bench. Begin with your arms fully extended above your chest and the dumbbells touching each other. Slowly bend your elbows and allow the weights to drop downward and outward until your elbows come to a 90 degree angle. Pause and then exhale as you push the weights back up to the starting point. It’s important to have a spotter on this exercise.

Barbell Squat. Begin with your feet between hip and shoulder width apart with a weighted barbell resting on your upper back. Slowly squat down as you inhale, ensuring that your heels stay heavy, while pushing your hips back and maintaining the natural curve in your low back. Drop down to a depth where you still feel stable in your stance. Exhale as you stand back to the top, but don’t lock your knees all the way out. Be sure to maintain a controlled speed and don’t let the weight push you around and never bounce out of the bottom part of the movement.

Add one of these exercises to you workout routine each week for the next 4-6 weeks to elicit changes not brought on by cardio or lighter weights.

Reach your Fitness Goals in 2018

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If you set out to become healthier in 2018, be mindful of the following advice. They’re not your typical ‘must do’ tips, but play an important role in losing weight and keeping it off.

Take responsibility. If you’re not happy with your weight or current state of health, take responsibility and admit that you have not been doing your part. Don’t blame lack of time, the abundance of junk food, or depleted motivation. No one has more control over your actions than you do. Take responsibility for the poor choices you’ve made in the past that got you into your current state of health, and then work to fix those problems.

Think before you act. Before you make a big decision in life, you probably take time to think it over, right? Now, try to follow that same philosophy with food choices. Rather than just grabbing something and eating it, think about how it may affect your health, mood, and energy. Will you be proud of yourself in 30 minutes or ashamed? Become involved in the decision making aspect of eating, rather than just doing what you want to do in that moment, but then regretting your decision afterwards.

Focus on your health. It’s great to set a goal but many people become so focused on the prize that they lose sight of the best way to get there. Many diets and exercise protocols are just plain unhealthy. A good rule is to focus on becoming healthy, and the rest will follow. For example, if you want to lose 20 pounds to fit into that smaller pant size, focus on getting your body healthy through minimizing stress, improving your sleep, cleaning up your diet, and exercising. As your health improves, your body fat will drop as you gain muscle, endurance, and confidence. In time, your body will change for the better as a result of your improved health.

Respect yourself. The human body is an amazing machine and it tolerates a lot of abuse. Show some respect by taking care of it. Simple self-respect includes smart exercise choices and a clean, well-balanced diet. The more respect you give, the more progress you’ll see in return.

Enjoy your new lifestyle. What good are all these new changes if they’re only temporary? Learn to make exercise and nutrition a part of your life. You may have to wake early and get to the gym or skip on dessert, but make no mistake – as challenging as a healthy lifestyle may be, it is definitely worth the rewards.

15 Minute Workout

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stopwatch

This is obviously a busy time of the year. With all the holiday activities, you may find exercise dropping farther down the priority list due to lack of time.

But, how much time must you commit to exercise for it to be effective? This is obviously dependent on your goals, but studies show health benefits in as little as 5 minutes a day. Now, I’m not suggesting you cut all your workouts down to 5 minutes, but if you constantly talk yourself out of exercise because you’re short on time, it seems anything is better than nothing.

Our workouts at Push Fitness are between 30 and 45 minutes, but much of the exercise homework we prescribe to our clients is typically 30 minutes or less. The following is a sample workout we’ve prescribed that should only take you 15-20 minutes and uses minimal equipment for increased proficiency.

Warm-up. Begin your workout with a 5 minute warm-up protocol. This could be anything from walking to jumping rope. Steadily increase your heart rate to prep your body for the upcoming workload.

Perform the following 4 exercises circuit style – complete all 4 in a row and then repeat for 3 total rounds. For the first round you’ll perform each exercise for 20 seconds, the second round for 30 seconds, and the third round for 40 seconds. Rest when needed but push yourself to keep moving.

Squat to Dumbbell Press. Hold of a set of dumbbells at shoulder height with palms facing together. With feet shoulder width apart, squat down to a comfortable depth while making sure your heels stay planted on the floor. Stand up, exhale, and press the dumbbells overhead. As your arms near extension, pull your shoulder blades back and together to stabilize. Bring the dumbbells back down to shoulder height as you drop back into your squat position. Repeat for the appropriate time.

Plank Hold. Assume a plank positon with elbows bent 90 degrees and positioned directly under your shoulders. You are looking to maintain a straight line from your ears, through your shoulders and hips to your ankles. Maintain a slight natural curve in the low back and keep your knees unlocked. Tense your abdominals inward towards your spine and continue to breathe as you hold the position for the desired time. If this basic plank is too easy, raise one leg or extend one arm out in front of you.

Lunge with Arms Overhead. Grab a set of dumbbells and press them overhead and lock out your arms. Step back into a staggered stance but keep about 60% of your weight on the front leg. Bend both knees equally as you inhale and let your hips drop straight down, pausing when you have a 90 degree bend at each knee. Tighten your legs and hips as you exhale and step back to your starting position. Repeat on the other leg and continue alternating legs for the desired time.

Pushup. Assume a pushup position with hands shoulder width apart. Tighten your core, and make sure you have a straight line from shoulder to ankle. As you inhale, slowly bend your elbows and let your body drop down until you have a 90 degree bend at each elbow. Exhale as you push back to your starting point. Repeat for the appropriate time. You can make the pushup easier by elevating yourself on a bench or pushing off from your knees rather than your toes.

After your third round, recover for a minute and then perform at least two minutes of cool-down stretching.

So if your schedule is tight and you’re short on time, even 15-20 minutes of exercise is time well spent.

Stay Injury Free

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Injuries sustained during exercise are far too common and can discourage even the most focused athletes. Injury prevention is definitely time well spent and much more enjoyable than injury rehabilitation. Keep your body healthy by practicing the following tips and working to avoid injuries altogether.

Always get a proper warm-up. This starts by assessing how your body feels and noting any soreness or stiffness in your muscles and joints. If you feel residual soreness from your last workout, take some time to care for that area with myofascial release such as foam rolling, or maximizing range of motion in the surrounding joint with stretching or proper mobility exercises. If a joint feels tight, work on the surrounding muscles until you feel loose and mobile. This type of warm-up could take up to 30 minutes but may be necessary to allow healthy movement.

Train smart and know your limitations. Train smart by using proper form on all exercises and by learning how to fully engage your muscles. Proper form includes maintaining control of the weight at all times, even on ballistic movements. Use your muscles to decelerate movements rather than letting the weight push you around. If you’re working with heavy weights, make sure you understand exactly how to move and which muscle groups to engage and control. Never try lifting a weight that forces you into bad form.

Face your weaknesses. It’s natural to avoid exercises you struggle with, but most times that just means you need to spend more time performing them. For example, if you struggle with squats because you have tight hips and a weak core, it means you need to spend more time bringing these tight and weak areas up to speed. Having a functional body will pay off by not only minimizing your chance for injury, but by maximizing exercise output as well.

Run on the best fuels. Give your body what it needs to function at its best by maximizing nutrient uptake and staying hydrated. Quality proteins such as organic chicken and turkey, wild caught fish, and grass fed beef will support muscle mass while healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, and coconut oil will help you control blood sugar while positively impacting hormone levels. Limit processed and starchy carbohydrates like bread and pastas, and focus on getting a variety of organic fruits and vegetables. Drinking pure water throughout the day will help to naturally detox the body and keep your muscles working properly.

Recover effectively. Most of the physical progress your body makes happens after your workout is completed. This is why it’s so important to focus on recovery with fuel, sleep, and continued mobility after you leave the gym. Make sure you get a snack or meal within 45 minutes of the completion of your workout. Don’t skimp on sleep as this is such an important time for your body to repair and recharge. Just as a warm-up is important before your workout, continued mobility is important after your workouts. If you start to feel tight or fatigued in certain muscle groups, take time to move those muscles and joints through their full range of motion with flexibility exercises and stretching. Using the foam roller to smash out and release muscle tension will speed up the recovery process as well.

So spend much of your time and focus on preventing injuries so you can continually progress and move in a positive direction.

How To Keep Your Brain Active

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Brain Image

Brain health is an often overlooked aspect of wellness but has a major impact on your body’s well-being. Many times brain health is only addressed once there are known issues. Fortunately, many of the healthy steps we recommend for the body will also support healthy brain function.

The following tips will support brain health while improving overall wellness.

Never stop learning. Keep your brain sharp by challenging it on a daily basis. Simple things like brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, or trying a new activity that makes you think on your feet like a dance class, or simply reading a book on an unfamiliar topic are all great tools for keeping the brain active. These types of activities should make you think, learn, and use the brain while embracing the new challenges.

Exercise. We all know that consistent exercise is recommended to keep your body going strong, but these benefits will support brain health as well. High-intensity cardio and strength training will help produce a beneficial form of nitric oxide that promotes brain function and vascular health while reducing inflammation. Short bouts of extra high-intensity exercise have the greatest impact on these nitric oxide levels, so think interval style training rather than steady state.

Improve your sleep quality. Of course we’d all like to get more sleep, but if you find it challenging to get seven to eight hours a night, start focusing on the quality of your sleep. Maintaining a consistent blood sugar throughout the night will help you sleep straight through or for longer periods before waking unintentionally. You can help maintain overnight blood sugar levels by avoiding high carbohydrate foods later in the day or before bedtime. Consuming fibrous carbs instead and getting a quality fat and protein source will help keep levels more stable throughout the night.

Eat clean and nourish. Systemic inflammation from poor dietary choices and food intolerances can deplete brain health as well. The brain communicates directly with the digestive system through the vagus nerve. Poor brain function can impair this communication and lead to digestive issues which will in turn lead to continued brain impairment from lack of nutrient absorption. By limiting inflammatory foods and controlling insulin levels, you are improving your brain’s ability to communicate with the rest of the body.

Support brain oxygenation. If the brain is not getting an ample supply of oxygen, it may be struggling and performing poorly. Stress can cause shallow breathing and overstimulate the sympathetic nervous system and suppress the parasympathetic nervous system. This means that the “fight or flight” response is turned up and the “rest and digest” response is turned down and it becomes a vicious cycle. Proper diaphragmatic breathing will help balance out this issue while keeping your brain cells oxygenated.

So treat your brain well and you’ll notice an improvement in your overall health!

Make Better Exercise Choices

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Any exercise is better than no exercise, but if you’re taking the time to work out, make sure you’re choosing exercises that will truly improve your health and fitness.

The following exercises are too commonly performed in hopes of measurable results but often lead to injuries or disappointment.

The crunch with hands behind the head. The crunch is a staple exercise in many people’s abdominal routine, but there are just so many better options out there. Lying on the floor and pulling the head forward while rounding the torso a few degrees may create quite a muscle burn if done long enough, but it does not strengthen the core as many may think. Crunches performed incorrectly can actually strain the neck and accentuate poor posture.

Plank

Instead of the crunch, try any version of the plank. The plank is a great exercise as it strengthens many layers of the abdominal wall along with the stabilizing muscles of the back and hips while helping to improve posture. Set up in a plank as pictured. Keep your body in a straight line and be sure to squeeze your abs while continuing to breathe. Hold for as long as possible and record your time. Now, add 15-30 seconds to this time at your next workout and continue to increase this time at each workout over the next several weeks. With consistent practice, you should be able to hold the plank for several minutes.

Lying or seated chest press machine. This is the machine where you lie on your back and push a weight away from your chest. This is great if you want to add size to your chest, but lying on your back and moving a weight doesn’t involve much functionality. There are many more practical toning exercises out there for the typical person trying to tone up, lose weight, and get healthy. Using a fixed machine can actually limit your body’s natural range of motion and lead to tight joints and muscle imbalances.

TRX-Pushup

Rather than performing a chest press on a machine, try any version of the pushup. With a pushup, you are moving your body through space and requiring more total body recruitment. To perform a quality pushup, you must engage your core and stabilizing muscles – you’re in charge of how your body moves rather than the machine allowing you to move a certain way. If a traditional pushup is too difficult for you to perform, elevate the surface you are pushing from or try a pushup from your knees. If a traditional pushup is too easy, there are numerous options for progression, such as using a TRX strap.

Seated hip adduction/abduction machine. This is the machine you sit on with knees bent 90 degrees and either push your knees outward against resistance or pull them inward against resistance. This machine can target specific muscles of the hip, but it’s awkward at best. Trying to tone these areas won’t necessarily tighten and shrink the hips as many may think. These machines often lead to tight hips and imbalanced muscles.

Lateral-Lunge

Ditch these hip machines and try a lateral lunge instead. This lateral movement will work the muscles of the hips and upper leg while improving balance and range of motion. Stand with feet wider than shoulder width apart and toes turned slightly outward. Shift your weight sideways as you bend one leg and lunge down. The opposite leg should remain straight. As you near the bottom, make sure your heal stays planted on the floor and push your hips back. Return to your starting point and repeat on the other side.

So, encourage proper movement and overall results by avoiding exercises that are likely to hold you back.

How to Build a Salad

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Steak Salad

Salad. The word itself can conjure up thoughts of dieting and boring lunches, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Salads can be packed with nutrients, flavor, and color while giving you convenient options for meals or snacks.

The key is in the ingredients. Traditionally, a salad is a mixture of greens that is usually topped with a dressing. But, salads go way beyond iceberg lettuce, croutons, and ranch dressing. The possibilities are virtually endless as long as you understand how to build your salads to include all three macronutrients – carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

Carbohydrates. Build your salad on a foundation of vegetables. Leafy greens such as spinach, romaine, arugula, kale, and watercress add a ton of phytonutrients while giving the salad plenty of fullness. Additional vegetables such as red, orange, or yellow peppers, onions, beets, carrots, or parsnips will add some crunch and a splash of color. Fruit is a flavorful ingredient, but limit it to one serving or less per salad. Apples, pears, grapes, or strawberries add wonderful sweetness but still pack plenty of nutrition.

Protein. Without protein, a salad may leave you wishing for more sustenance. Add a protein source and your salad rises to a new level. Include 4-8 ounces of a meat source such as steak, chicken, turkey, pork, tuna or anything else you desire. Two hard-boiled eggs would also suffice as a protein source. If you follow a vegetarian diet, you should still focus on getting a serving of protein through beans, legumes, or other acceptable sources.

Fat. A fat source could be as simple as an olive oil based dressing but the options don’t end there. Toppings such as avocado, nuts, shredded cheese, or olives are all healthy fats that keep you satiated while adding incredible flavor.

Finally, add your favorite herbs and spices or a squeeze of lemon and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how flavorful a salad can be.

Salads work great if you’re packing your lunch because there is no need to heat anything up – you can eat everything cold. Just prep and pack your greens and veges in a bowl – remember to choose a bowl large enough to eventually hold all the ingredients of your salad. Cut up your protein source and keep it in a separate bowl. Pack a side of healthy fats in a third bowl along with a small container of dressing. When it’s time to eat, just add the protein and fat to your main bowl and you have a complete meal that’s ready to satisfy.

So structure your salad in a way that ensures you’re getting complete nutrition while enjoying everything a great salad has to offer.

Try this DIY salad dressing:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

1 Tbsp honey

Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper (to taste)

Keep refrigerated and use within a week. Enjoy!

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