18 Secrets of the Super Motivated – Everyday Champions

Great suggestions on how to keep yourself motivated and committed to your exercise routine, straight from a few names you may recognize – athletes, stars, trainers to the stars.

18 Secrets of the Super Motivated – Everyday Champions – life-inspired – MSN Living.

My motivation has always come from a few places: the way exercise makes me feel (both during and after), a reminder of how long it took me to fall in love with fitness, and a desire to keep growing stronger, healthier and more fit. Not to mention that it’s become my favorite part of my day … working out is as vital to my life as breathing, eating and sleeping.

What helps you stay motivated to keep going strong?

Don’t Just Pass on the Sodas …

… pass on the sports and energy drinks, too. Not only do most sports and energy drinks contain a high number of calories – primarily from sugar – a recent study  found that sports and energy drinks cause “irreversible damage” to teeth.

Over the course of five days, researchers submerged teeth in one of 13 different sports or energy drinks. When exposed to the liquids four times a day, for 15 minutes each time – just one hour a day – reseachers discovered noticable damage to tooth enamel. Why? The drinks are acidic – meaning your Gatorade is essentially eating its way through your teeth. Scarier still? Energy drinks such as Red Bull or Monster – which have grown significantly in popularity over the last few years – were found to be twice as corrosive as sports drinks.

Just goes to further show that the best way to rehydrate is also the least expensive – good old H2O. Though everyone is different, the general rule is at least eight glasses (64 oz.) of water a day should do it – more if you are engaged in strenuous exercise. I take a 32 oz. bottle everywhere with me, and I usually fill it up and drink it down a good 4-5 times a day. (Remember, when you’re thirsty, you are already dehydrated!) And not only will water not negatively impact your tooth enamal – it’s calorie-free, too. So pass on the sports and energy drinks, find some water, and drink up!

You May Be Fat and Not Even Know It – MSN Health – Healthy Living

The continuing debate … can you be fat and fit, or appear thin, but still be fat? Just a reminder that all fat is not created equal – but you can always do something about it! Keep making exercise and clean eating a priority, and you can be healthy, fit … and thin, too.

You May Be Fat and Not Even Know It – MSN Health – Healthy Living.

Great Smartphone Apps to Keep You Fit!

Summer is just around the corner … will you be ready for bathing suits and tank tops? If you are looking for a little motivation, and possibly need a push to keep you on the right track, there are plenty of options out there – and there are plenty of tools available to help you, right on your phone!

iVillage came up with a great list of the top 20 new health and fitness apps that can help you get on the right track – and stay there. Check them out here!

8 Awesome New and Upcoming Fitness Gadgets

Looking for a cool new fitness toy to help you make the most of your workout? Some of these are pretty awesome … a few are already out there, the rest are coming soon!

8 Awesome New and Upcoming Fitness Gadgets | Fitbie.

Quick Weight Loss? No, Thanks … I’ll Pass on the Nasal Feeding Tube.

Listening to the radio on my way to work this morning, the conversation turned to a new weight loss fad that I found kind of horrifying – the “K-E Diet,” which claims to allow people (namely, pre-wedding brides) to quickly lose 15-20 pounds. What does it consist of? Having a tube inserted into your nose, and only ingesting 800 calories worth of (carb-free) liquid for up to 10 days. The price? $1,500. The cost? Your health, and perhaps your dignity.

Sure, weight loss is one of the biggest money makers out there – but what ever happened to putting in the effort to make it happen? I may consider myself a work in progress – but the key word there is work. I can’t see potentially risking my health just to lose a few pounds quick. This “diet” cuts calorie consumption so low that you are not ingesting enough energy to fuel your body for a day (you should never dip below 1,200), let alone the energy to make it through a day, let alone a workout. You’d be lethargic, cloudy, and probably cranky, too. And I certainly don’t want that “hunger headache” for a WEEK AND A HALF, no matter how skinny it’s going to make me.

When did we all get so lazy … always looking for the quick fix? Wouldn’t you be so much more proud to tell people that you lost 10 lbs. working your butt off – not because you had a tube shoved down your nose? Have we missed out on the fact that losing weight should contribute to our health – not risk it?

Here’s the story.

Eat Less, Remember More?

Need a little motivation to keep your daily calorie consumption within a healthy range? According to a new Mayo Clinic study, there is yet another reason to watch what you eat – it can help you maintain your memory!

The preliminary study, which was part of a larger overall study on aging, examined mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in 70-89 year olds. In the study, they defined MCI as “a decline in mental abilities, chiefly memory, that’s noticeable but not severe enough to affect the performance of day to day activities” – essentially, the step between age-related decline in memory and dementia.

As a part of the study, participants were divided into three groups, based on calorie consumption: low (600-1,525 cal./day), moderate (1,525-2,142 cal./day) or high (2,142-6,000 cal./day). At the end of one year, researchers found that those in the high calorie consumption group had higher instances of developing MCI – up to twice as likely as those in the low or moderate calorie group.

And though additional research is needed, this was not the first study to suggest higher calorie consumption can lead to mental decline. Yes, the participants may have been older – but the younger you start monitoring the foods – and quantities – you eat each day, the better your chances of staving off mental (and physical!) decline in the long run.

That said, it’s important to note that exercise, good nutrition and general health also play a part. Studies have shown that exercise and physical activity will do more than just keep you fit – it will keep your mind engaged, too. And chances are, the healthier your lifestyle, the longer you’ll live … and you’ll want to hold on to all your good memories you have collected throughout the years!

[Quick side note … remember that unless under doctor supervision, you should never dip below 1,200 calories a day. Without enough calories to keep your brain going, you’ll suffer from mental fog, at least in the short-term – and too few calories can also kick your body into calorie conservation mode, grinding your weight loss efforts to a standstill!]

Diet and Exercise Myths: Don’t Be Fooled!

There are a lot of lies out there. Myths. Partial truths. Perhaps with the information overload that is out there, just plain misunderstandings. Which is why today, I wanted to address a couple thoughts on diet and fitness that fall into this category.

So, let’s put these misconceptions to rest:

Lifting weights will make me “big.” Ladies, lifting weights will not turn you into a professional wrestler. You don’t have enough testosterone. So unless you start using steroids (yes, they are illegal!), committing the bulk of your day to lifting heavy weights, and consuming nothing but protein, you’re safe. That said … a little muscle is beautiful. And it burns a whole lot more calories than fat does! So don’t fear the weight room. Strong is the new skinny.

You’ll lose weight eating salad. This one is kind of tricky, because it depends on the salad. Many restaurant salads calorically outweigh the bulk of other menu items – and it’s because of the dressing, or the cheese, or the croutons, or any other fatty extra they throw into it. But plain lettuce isn’t going to satisfy you, either. Aim for a nice balance – greens (spinach, spring greens, romaine – anything but iceberg lettuce), vegetables, lean protein (chicken, turkey) – and be aware of the serving size, fat and sugar in your dressing.

I’m sweating, so I must be working hard! I walk into a gym and I start sweating before I’ve even done anything. Sweat is the body’s cooling mechanism, and while you probably do sweat when you’re pushing yourself, it could just mean that the gym’s a little warm today (think about a hot summer day, sitting on the porch, watching television and eating ice cream – you’re not doing anything strenuous, but you are sweating). Heart rate is a much better indicator of how much energy you are expending – and an effective workout should ideally be in the 75-85% range – lower if you’re recovering, higher if you’re doing high intensity and/or interval work. Invest in a good heart rate monitor (I’ve worn a Polar for years) and you can keep tabs on just how hard you’re working from beginning to end.

I can’t (fill in the blank). Never let the mental component get in your way. “I can’t lift 20 lbs.” “I can’t run five miles straight.” “I can’t lose weight.” “I can’t give up (insert junk food of choice here.” Guess what? Yes, you can. I’ve looked at my trainers like they were crazy when they handed me a heavier weight than I’d ever touched before … and then I lifted it. I remember being in high school gym class thinking running two miles was going to kill me … and 10 years later I was running 10 miles every Sunday just because I could (heck, my friend Jenny, who was in said gym class and equally not thrilled as I was about it ended up running marathons in her 20s). You can do anything you put your mind to. It may take a few tries, but you’ll get there!

Granted, these are just a few of the crazy things that are out there. My final piece of advice: know where your information is coming from. And stay away from the “healthy cleanse” (i.e. short starvation diet) your cousin’s-sister’s-friend’s-hairdresser lost 10 lbs. on. Be smart with your body and your health!

Chocoholics Rejoice! Study Claims Chocolate Keeps Us Thin!

I came across an article earlier that I couldn’t help but stop to read. “Chocolate keeps us thin,” it heralded. I’m sorry, what? Yes, I am an extremely healthy eater. But I’m also a raging chocoholic. So this may be the best news ever heard.

A study of more than 1,000 U.S. participants found that, on average, those who indulged in chocolate on a regular basis had lower body mass index (BMI) than those who consumed chocolate only occasionally. It was also noted that chocolate’s catechins – antioxidants shown to eliminate free radicals in the body –  especially those in dark chocolate, may be able to increase lean muscle mass, while at the same time decreasing body fat.

Coupled with other benefits found in previous studies – including heart health as well as decreased insulin sensitivity, blood pressure and cholesterol levels – chocolate has started to gain recognition as a healthy part of a normal diet (in moderation, of course).

Granted, yes, the type of chocolate of going to have an impact – the nutritional value of dark chocolate considerably outweighs that of white chocolate, and even of milk chocolate. As a general rule, the higher cacao percentage (ideally at least 70%), the better the health benefits – and, of course, a small piece of high-end dark chocolate is going to be less calorically costly than, say, a King Size Snickers (which, side note … I think I read that they are doing away with the King Size Snickers … which is a good thing, considering it can cost you more than 500 calories).

As much as I hate to admit it, this is still not an excuse to go out and find one of those giant chocolate Easter bunnies that are all over the place this time of year. Despite its nutritional value, chocolate is still high in fat, sugar and overall calories – so you do still want to limit it to a reasonable (i.e. 1 oz.) serving size.

Read more about the study here.