I’m fat?! Blame my metabolism!

 

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Have you ever heard someone (or you!) nagging like this?

“I’ve cut off  my calorie intake, I maintain those regular exercises,..but..why am I NOT losing weight?”

And they will start to blame themselves by saying “Perhaps, my metabolism is low!”

Do you know what METABOLISM is ? 

Metabolism is the chemical reactions that occur in our body. It requires energy for us to undergo living processes such as breathing, digesting, healing processes and etc.

And wait! Is your metabolism same as mine?

Each and everyone of us has different metabolic rate; it depends on your gender, age, body size and of course your genes.

Men have more muscles, high bone mass and therefore they have high metabolism compared to women. And as we grow older, we tend to loose muscle and gain fat, and these two lead to slow metabolism. People with big body size will have more fat, thus their metabolism is slow. Yes, genes basically play a role in determining your muscle growth and size – hence affects your metabolism.

Now, you will start saying, “Let’s kill those fats, and start build muscle!”  Right?

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But wait, to increase body metabolism, it is not all about building muscles. I will share a few tips that you can practice to boost your body metabolism.

1. Don’t miss your breakfast – Start your day with nutritional breakfast. It can start up your metabolism and keep your energy high throughout the day. People who skip breakfast tend to eat a lot during lunch and this will increase calorie intake more than what you need.

Eat them all!

Eat them all!

2. Take enough protein– Our body needs protein to build muscle. The more muscles you have, the more calories you will burn. Besides, our body use up more calories to digest protein compare to fat and carbohydrates.

3. Eat enough everyday – It simply means consume food moderately and do not overeat. Do not starve yourself either. If you cut too much calories, your body will start to reduce metabolic reaction to conserve energy. Thus, the fat burning process will be slower. You will start to lose muscle and this will slow down your metabolism.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

Be a Snow White – Eat an apple

3. Be active – When you increase physical activities, you will burn more calories. Build up more muscles by running and pilate regularly or perform strength training. You will use up more energy and burn those stubborn fat.

Marilah beramai-ramai bersukan sambil bersosial!

Marilah beramai-ramai bersukan sambil bersosial!

4. Drink a lot of water – take 3-4 litres of water per day to stay hydrated. Your body needs water to process those calories, if you are not drinking enough, your body will burn less calories, thus your metabolism will be slow down. Cut off your sweet drink, it contains high calories.

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Bring a bottle full of water with you everyday.

6. Have adequate sleep –  having sleep deprivation will increase cortisol level (stress hormone) in our blood.  Thus, it will disrupt glucose metabolism, thus lead to glucose intolerance. Leptin will be reduced and ghrelin will increase. This can cause increase in appetite, craving and tendency to eat a lot unnecessary.

After a run get a good sleep

Be a Sleeping Beauty.  After a run get a good sleep

 

Basically, you can still enjoy your food while maintaining a good metabolism.

Till then, we’ll meet again, keep fit and be inspired! 😉

Healthy isn’t a goal, it’s a way of living ;)

 

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To be healthy, you don’t need to run full marathon, you don’t need to starve yourself. All you need is.. be active and eat well…

So here, I want to share some of my diet routine that I’ve been practising since high school. I’ve been inspired a lot by my supermum 😉

Drink Plenty of Plain Water

I drink lots of plain water everyday. I drink 3 to 4L per day. Reduce or better cut off your high sugar drinks such as soft drinks, carbonated drinks, etc because it will increase your calories intake.

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Consume Oats

I take oats once per day, either for my breakfast or for my dinner. Oats are high in fibers, which is very good for your digestion, and you will feel full faster and last long.

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Large Portion of Vegetables

I take a large portion of vegetables in my meal. For those who plan to reduce their weight, reduce your carb portion and replace it with veggies.

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Milk

I have a glass of milk for my breakfast and before going for sleep. My favourite one is Anlene chocolate as it is high in calcium and…yummeh! You can have any brand of milk that you like, and if you are lactose intolerance, you can have soy milk. My favourite one is V-soy…you can try it guys!

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No Junk Food

I don’t take junk food as it is high in salt and seasoning. I like fast food too but I don’t take it regularly.

Be active

I spend at least 30 minutes per day for a run. I walk to hospital and class every day. For those who are very busy, you can walk to your office from the carpark (park your car far away from your office then). And use stairs instead of lift, you will burn more calories.  IMG_0341[1]

Smile the brightest!

Be happy, have confidence and give your biggest smile to everyone. Spread the positive vibes and be a happy you!14581342_10208611588820541_2851726595590193638_n

Last but not least, don’t take heavy meal 4 hours before sleep. Because our gastrointestinal system starts to slow down to digest food when we are going to sleep. You may develop reflux or delay gastric emptying if you take late meal. This will lead you to have poor metabolic rate, thus it’s easier to gain weight faster.

That’s all for now,  so let’s eat well and live healthily 😉

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Home-made solutions for coughs and cold

In my pursuit of clearing up my cough and cold as soon as possible so I can get back on track with running, I knew that on top of the normal medication as prescribed by my doctor, it does not hurt to explore other natural alternatives. Sometimes in this modern world, we need to go back to basics.

Based on the good ol’ Google search engine, I found countless of blogs, writings, and recommendations about natural remedies to help cough and cold. Unfortunately, most natural remedies are not properly researched, and there is a lack of journals and papers written about them. So I decided to do a little ‘experiment’ on myself to test if these home-made remedies work as they claim it should:

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My personal favourite would be the honey + olive oil combination. Not only did it helped to soothe my throat, it also helped me clear up my complexion, and reduced my eczema and allergies. I hope it works for you too!

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.

 

 

 

Tips and Tricks for Dining Out

Eating out shouldn’t be considered as an excuse to sabotage your whole diet, especially if you eat out regularly. Eating out can still be a fun experience filled with delicious, but healthier, choices. Here are some tips and tricks for staying healthy at the restaurant:

 

Have the right mindset

Take some time to prepare before going out to eat. The first thing you want to do it’s create the right mindset. Don’t think of it as one big ‘cheat night.’ I like to allow myself a small treat every day, rather than dedicating a whole meal or day to binging. Surly you can enjoy yourself, but instead of choosing to most unhealthy meal you can think of, choose a balanced meal that is still healthy, but can also be considered a treat.

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Plan ahead

Choose your restaurant ahead of time. Most restaurants have their menus available online. Check it out and make your decision before you even get there. This way, you don’t have to look through the menu while you’re hungry and ready to eat. Not only telling yourself you will make a smart choice, but committing to a meal before you get to the restaurant will make you more likely to stick to that goal.

 

Don’t starve all day

Many people make the dire mistake of skipping meals before a night out to eat. They think they can make up for missed times. Skipping meals will only make you hungrier and more inclined to crave the fattier options. Think about it; you’re starving and you’ve been waiting for a good 30 minutes for your food to come out…would you be excited for a grilled chicken salad? Not so much. Eat like you normally would any other day. Try to plan it out so that your last meal is a light snack about 2-3 hours before going to the restaurant.

 

Control portions

Make sure to control your portions, especially if you decide to treat yourself with your meal. Here are a few tips for portion control at a restaurant:

  • Order from the kids menu if they have one
  • Split a meal with a friend
  • Turn an appetizer into a meal with a side salad
  • Ask the waiter/waitress for a to-go container so you can put half of your plate out of sight to take home
  • Ask the waiter/waitress not to bring bread to the table

 

Substitute

Make substitutions when necessary. If you’re going to treat yourself to a cheeseburger, you probably don’t need the fries on the side. Order a side of salad or veggies instead and order a vinaigrette dressing, or oil and vinegar, over creamy salad dressings.

 

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Dessert?

The most important question, should I have dessert? If are out to dinner for a special occasion, and you don’t do it often, I say go for it…only if you have room for it of course! If you ordered a healthy meal and were good with your portion sizes, a little piece of dessert on a special occasion is perfectly fine. Be sure to split it with at least one other person. On the other hand, if you tend to eat out often, and/or you decided to treat yourself with your main meal (maybe you ordered a cheese burger or a creamy pasta dish), then I would say skip the dessert for the night.

 

Remember that healthy eating is all about balance. Going out and treating yourself to a delicious dinner is fine,  just find your balance by choosing a meal that is well-balanced (meaning it contains protein, carbs and fats), watching your portion sizes, and substitute with healthier options when you need to.

 

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6 Sunnah Foods to Incorporate Into Your Diet

Faith and fitness; what do they have in common? I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of connecting our quest for health with our spirituality. This makes out path to wellness much more meaningful and full of remembrance. One way that we can do this, as Muslims, is by incorporating sunnah foods into our diet. Sunnah foods hold so many amazing blessings and benefits. Here are some easy ways to eat sunnah foods on a daily basis.

 

Honey

The Prophet (saw) said, “Upon you is the two cures: the honey and the Qur’aan” [Ibn Maajah]

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Honey not only has a high nutritional value containing vitamins, minerals and antioxidants but it has medicinal uses as well. It can treat nausea, cough and cold and has been shown to be effective against advanced cases of stomach and bone cancer.

Honey can be easily integrated into your diet by having one tablespoon every day. You can eat it plain, mix it into your tea or drizzle it over some toast with peanut butter. It is also popular in baking as a natural sugar substitute to table sugar or artificial sweeteners.

 

 

Dates

Allah’s Apostle said, “He who eats seven ‘Ajwa dates every morning, will not be affected by poison or magic on the day he eats them.” [Bukhari]

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Dates are a very low-fat, nutrient-dense food that provide a great source of energy and a natural sweetness. They contain a rich amount of dietary fiber, antioxidants and minerals. Dates aid in healthy digestion, heart problems, admoninal cancer and more. They are also great for providing natural energy.

I like to eat 1 or 2 dates just before a quick, HIIT workout. It provides me with the short burst of energy I need. Dates are a great, natural replacement for processed sweets like candy or chocolate bars. Lastly, it’s sunnah to break your fast with dates. This is effective because they give you energy after a tiring day of fasting, and they hold you over to perform your prayer before eating your larger meal.

 

 

Citrus

The Messenger (saw) said, “The example of a believer who recited the Qur’aan, is that of a citron which smells good and tastes good.” [Bukhari]

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Citrus fruits (lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit etc) are rich in vitamin C which can help protect against the cold and other illnesses. They also contain anti inflammatory and pain relieving properties, can relieve heartburn, can help maintain a healthy mouth and act as a natural remedy for bad breath.

Lemons/limes are probably the most common and popular citrus fruits and I personally always keep them in my house. They are great to have around for cooking. Adding the juice and/or zest of these fruits can brighten up the flavors of your dishes. Squeeze some lemon/lime juice on top of fish and other seafood dishes or add them to your salad to make it extra refreshing. They are also commonly used in dressings and can be used in baking as well. You can also cut up citrus fruits and use them in your water for added flavor and freshness.

 

 

Pomegranate

Rasulullah (saw) said, “Pomegranate and its rind strengthen digestion(stomach).” [Abu Nuaim]

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This amazing, bright and delicious fruit has many benefits. It can help to lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and has anti-cancer effects. It can also stem a cough.

Throw some pomegranates seeds onto your salad for a beautiful presentation and delicious crunch. They pair particularly well with arugula. You can also throw them into a blender with some of your other favorite fruits to make a smoothie, or simply eat them plain with a side of nuts or low-fat cheese.

 

 

Vinegar

Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, “Allah has put blessing in vinegar, for truly it was used by the Prophets before me.” [Muslim and Ibn Maja]

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Vinegar is pretty well-known for its benefits, particularly apple cider vinegar. Vinegar has antioxidants which can help to prevent cancer, it is heart healthy, it may improve insulin-sensitivity and it may help with diabetes.

Vinegar is another thing that I always have in my house, specifically balsamic and apple cider vinegar. They are great for homemade salad dressings which are much cheaper and healthier than buying them in the store. A basic vinaigrette recipe is 3 parts oil and 1 part vinegar. To add more sunnah foods throw in some honey for sweetness and squeeze lemon or lime for citrus flavor.

 

 

Thyme

Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, “Fumigate your houses with Mugwort, Myrrh & Thyme.” [Kanz-ul-Ummal]

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Thyme is not only an herb with a distinctive taste, but it has medicinal benefits as well. It can help to lower blood pressure, suppress cough, boost the immune system and mood, and is used in many skin care products for its wonderful scent.

Right next to basil, thyme is one of my favorite herbs. I think it has a very warm, minty taste and is such a great way to add flavor to dishes. It pairs very well with lamb and also many vegetables. I like to roast my Brussles sprouts, tomatoes and sweet potato with some thyme and a dash of salt and pepper. Next time you are cooking lamb or vegetables, consider the addition of this wonderful herb.

 

 

 

 

References

http://www.cabdirect.org/abstracts/20103251958.html;jsessionid=C266DAEDD072D290284CF60877B4E516

http://www.natureword.com/properties-and-benefits-of-citron/

https://www.drfuhrman.com/library/article19.aspx#ref2

 


 

 

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Sticking to Your New Years Goals Part 3: “I want to eat breakfast everyday.”

While breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, it is often the hardest to implement. Morning-times tend to be rushed; you overslept, you have to get the kids ready for school and make it to work on time, you can’t find your keys. It’s no wonder why so many people skip it.

However, adding breakfast into your daily routine may be worth it. A nutritious breakfast has been shown to:

  • Aid in a more nutritionally complete diet
  • Give a mental edge
  • Help with energy and alertness throughout the day
  • Provide more strength and endurance during physical activity
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Aid in weight control and appetite control

 

WHAT SHOULD BREAKFAST CONSIST OF?

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Adding a lean protein to your breakfast, such as eggs, Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, will keep you feeling fuller longer. It may even hold you over until your lunchbreak at work!

Complex carbohydrates, like oatmeal or fruit, provide a slower-releasing energy which will last throughout the day.

Healthy fats, such as nuts, nut butters or avocado will not only provide you with extra energy during workout time, but will also promote the fat-burning process.

A little caffeine can give you that quick mental alertness that you so desperately need in the mornings!

 

HOW CAN I EAT BREAKFAST EVERYDAY?

  • Wake up early enough to give yourself time to prepare and eat breakfast
  • Prepare breakfast ahead of time: overnight oats are a great option
  • Have a ‘no-cook’ breakfast like Greek yogurt with granola or cottage cheese and fruit
  • Take breakfast on-the-go: Quest bar or a piece of fruit with nuts are good choices
  • If you are able you might even take some breakfast with you and eat it while you are at work

I hope these tips were beneficial and can help you to add breakfast into your daily routine, inshallah.


 

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Sticking to Your New Years Goals Part 2: “I want to cut back on sugar.”

If you’re looking to cut back sugar this year, then you are on the right track. Excess sugar, particularly added sugars, can not only lead to weight gain but also diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay. In fact, even if you are thin and eating reasonably, you may still be consuming too much added sugars without even knowing it, which can harm your health regardless of being at a healthy weight.

Before we get started on how to cut back our sugar intake, let’s make a distinction between added sugars and natural sugars. Natural sugars are found in healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. These foods are healthy and contain water, fiber and various nutrients. Added sugars, on the other hand, are those that are added to foods; foods which typically have little nutritional value.

Thus, in order to lose weight and optimize health you should do your best to avoid foods with added sugars. However, some sugar in your diet is unavoidable. According to the American Heart Association, men should get about 150 daily calories from sugar (9 teaspoons), and women should get about 100 daily calories from sugar (6 teaspoons).

Here are some ways to start reducing sugar:

1. Don’t add it to foods

The easiest way to cut back on sugar is to simply not add it. The biggest targets for adding sugar is cereal, coffee and tea. Instead, try to substitute with natural sugar substitutes. Use things like organic honey, agave or stevia in the raw.

2. Eliminate fruit juices and soda

Juices and sodas can seem harmless, but they contain tons of added sugars that benefit you in no way. While a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice may be OK once in a while, for the most part you want to eliminate soda and fruit juices. If plain water isn’t your thing, buy some all natural crystal light packets, or add some fresh fruit or even vegetables and herbs like cucumbers and basil, to your water to add a fresh flavor.

3. Limit fruits

While fruits contain fiber and good nutrients, they also contain quite a bit of sugar. Therefore, fruit should not be eliminated from the diet but rather limited to 1-2 servings per day. Go for lower-glycemic choices like grapefruit, apples and berries.

4. Read food labels

If you want to reduce sugar consumption, a good place to start is by knowing where all that sugar is hiding in the first place. Start reading food labels and avoid foods that have a lot of added sugars.

You may want to consider tracking your sugar intake for a few weeks. You will start to realize how much sugar you have actually been consuming and where you need to cut back. You will learn which types of foods are better and which should be limited or avoided.

5. Cream over milk

Believe it or not, milk is filled with more sugar than cream. Whole milk has 12 grams of sugar per cup, which is equal to 3 teaspoons of sugar (that’s half of the recommended daily sugar intake for women!).

And don’t be fooled by skim milk. Once all of the healthy animal fat is taken out, skim milk is essentially a sugary water. It may have less fat but it doesn’t have less sugar. Next time your drinking coffee or tea, add cream instead of milk. Unsweetened almond milk is also a good choice but may not give you the sweet taste you are looking for.

6. Contemplate complete avoidance

Some people are great with moderation. Other people have a hard time exercising willpower and can’t stop at just one. If you are one of these people, you may consider completely avoiding sugar altogether.

Sugary foods stimulate the same areas in the brain as drugs do. For this reason, people who would consider themselves ‘sugar addicts’ may lose control upon consumption. Instead of cutting back, consume healthy versions of your favorite sweets. You can use things like cocoa nibs, mashed banana, whole wheat flour, nuts and dark chocolate to make up healthy desserts.

7. Reduce or eliminate processed carbohydrates

Most processed carbs – like white bread, pasta, rice, crackers etc. – are loaded with added sugars and spike blood sugar levels quickly. Complex carbohydrates – things like brown rice, sweet potato, and whole grains – have less sugar content and release a longer lasting energy, so you don’t see that spike in blood sugar. Replacing simple carbohydrates (processed carbs) with complex carbohydrates will help reduce overall sugar intake.

8. Kick out trigger foods

Stay away from foods that will make you lose control! Nutella and ice cream are my triggers and I cannot keep them in the house. 1 tbsp of nutella turns into half of the jar and a bowl of ice cream turns into 4 heaping scoops. Get these foods out of your house and stay away from them at all costs.

9. Cut back slowly 

Unless you are a sugar addict who can’t control themselves, your best bet is to cut back slowly, otherwise, your cravings may worsen. For example, if you can’t imagine life without soda, start by drinking half regular soda and half diet soda. As time goes on increase the diet soda until that’s all your drinking, then start cutting back on that until soda is eventually eliminated from your diet altogether.

If you like your coffee sweet, start by using half of your normal sugar amount and half stevia or truvia. Use the same process with the soda and eventually you may even come to enjoy a sugarless cup of coffee.

In conclusion

While sugar may taste delicious and give you a temporary feeling of pleasure, it’s not worth the health risks. Cutting back on sugar and getting as close to the recommended daily servings as possible is one of the best things you can do for your health.

Sticking to your new years goals part 1. “I want to eat healthy”

By now we’ve all made our New Year’s resolutions; laid them out in writing, pondered over them, and talked ourselves into the new and improved person we want to become. That’s great, but that’s only the first step. The next step is actually sticking to those goals rather than becoming among the 40% of individuals who drop out.

I’ve decided to create a series dedicated to providing you with information to help you stick to some of the most common New Year’s resolutions. This four-part series will, inshallah, be very short and informative to give you just what you need.

Without a doubt the most common resolution is: “I want to eat healthier.” Here’s how you can stick to it.

 

Eat more fruits and veggies

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Eating more fruits and veggies will not only provide you with a variety of nutrients but will help to bulk up meals and help you to feel full faster.

Try adding vegetables to as many meals as possible. Throw some in your eggs at breakfast time, have a side salad at lunch, and roast your favorite vegetables to have with dinner. Vegetables can be incorporated into many dishes like soups, stir-fries, eggs and can even make great snacks with some hummus or a low-fat yogurt dip.

Fruits are a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth without added sugars and preservatives. Shoot for 1-2 servings per day.

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Go homemade

Whenever you can, make your own foods instead of buying it pre-packaged. Granola can be quite deceiving in stores; it seems healthy but the nutrition label is filled with added sugars. Mix together some rolled oats, nuts and seeds, and a little honey. Throw on a sheet pan and bake it at home.

Instead of buying frozen dinners like pizza, make an easy and healthy version of your own. Grab some whole wheat pita bread, top with your favorite veggies, a small handful of low-fat cheese and drizzle with some olive oil, salt and pepper in throw in the oven for a few minutes.

 

Snack

Hummus with pita bread and vegetables

Instead of 2 or 3 larger meals a day, try snacking in between and have 5-6 smaller meals. Snacking will help to prevent you from overeating by keeping you satisfied and energized throughout the day.

Great snacks include a piece of fruit with a handful of nuts, trail mix, some raw veggies dipped in low-fat yogurt, whole wheat crackers with hummus, or some pretzels with string cheese.

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In conclusion

Eating healthy is a totally approachable goal, as long as you do it in the right way. Take small steps. Add one more healthy food into your routine each week. Start by adding more fruits and vegetables. Once you feel comfortable with that, start making some of you own foods. Then a week after, start adding healthy snacks in between your meals.

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6 Tips to Staying on Track

It’s easy to get started, exciting actually. It’s Sunday afternoon and you sit down with a cup of coffee and your last cookie, and begin to plan out the next week. Healthy meals. Gym sessions. You have everything all set up and ready to start your new journey on Monday. The week goes really well, but then it begins to fall. You’re sick of the eating the same meals and your schedule is way too crammed to keep up with these workouts. You lose all motivation and eventually fall back into old habits.

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This is a very common scenario for someone starting down their healthy journey. The slip ups become more frequent and eventually discouragement and hopeless take over the once so lively enthusiasm. It seems to be that other people live up to their goals but you are just not made to do it.

Maintaining motivation it the hardest part of any fitness journey. But, it is not impossible! Many times, people are just going about it in the wrong ways. Here are some pointers what will help you to stay on track all the way to your goals and beyond.

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1. Don’t Rush

The biggest reason for a lack of motivation is that people try to do too many things at once. Think about the years of unhealthy habits you have down your belt. You can’t try and change them all in one day and expect to keep it up. Take small steps. Don’t go from laying on the couch everyday to 6 days a week of intense exercise. Start with 2-3 days per week, even for only 10 or 20 minutes. After about a month, once you feel it’s become a habit and your body is more accustomed, start adding in a bit more and overtime you will be a pro!

 

2. Plan Ahead

Don’t go into the week blindsided. Go over your schedule for the week and plan your meals and workouts around your schedule. Take one or two days to do some food prep for the week. Schedule your workouts on days where you have more free time and schedule your rests on busy days. If you have any plans to go out to dinner, check on the menu ahead of time and plan out your meal. Having things written out will make the week a lot easier.

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3. Make the Time

This goes along with planning ahead. While you don’t want to overwhelm yourself, you also don’t want work and other responsibilities to take over your YOU time. If you really want to be healthy, make the time. 10 minutes of fast-paced exercise is better than nothing.

 

4. Have a Plan B

There will be many times when uncontrollable situations might ruin your plans. Always have a backup plan. Design a few quick at-home exercise routines in case you can’t make it to the gym. Keep smart food items in the house that will be there in case you have no time to cook. Examples of back-up foods I always keep in my house are canned beans, non-fat Greek yogurt, eggs, cans of tuna, and frozen vegetables. Just because you have to throw something together quick doesn’t mean it can’t be healthy.

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5. Modify When Needed

Never be ashamed to modify. If you don’t have the time, modify your workout. If you’re trying a new workout class that is a little too intense, ask the instructor to show you some modifications. It’s great to push yourself, but when you go too far beyond your limits you may discourage yourself and drop out. Stop right at the edge of your comfort zone and work there.

 

6. Make a List

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Write a list of your reasons for beginning a health journey. Don’t be afraid to make it personal, after all, it’s only for you. Whenever you need a little pick-me-up, dig out your list and remind yourself of why you started in the first place. This can be a powerful tool to bringing motivation levels back up.

 

Most importantly…have fun. There will be times when you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone. There will be times when you will have to force yourself to work out when you are dreading it. But always remember to keep it balanced. Push yourself, but not over your limits. Recognize the times when you have to listen to your body and just take a rest. The most important means of staying on track is enjoying the journey.

 

xoxo

phonto

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7 tips to gain weight the healthy way

The words “fitness,” “health,” and “dieting” are often associated with weight loss, although they do not apply only to those who want to drop pounds. Fitness and health refer to keeping the body and mind in a state where it can function optimally, and dieting is defined simply as the types of foods one eats, whether healthy or not-so-healthy.

Whether one wants to lose weight, gain weight or simply maintain their current state, these goals can all be reached through the fundamentals of a healthy diet and exercise.

 

1. Define your why

The first thing you want is to identify your why. Why do you want/need to gain weight? Some people are naturally thin and want to increase their weight, while others may be recovering from an eating disorder or other disease.

Do you want to put on muscle? Do you want to reach a healthier weight? Are you trying to overcome a bad relationship with food? Defining your reason will give your journey a purpose and thus make it more meaningful.

If you suffer from an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, or any other medical condition, you should always consult a professional first. These are tips that are meant to be used as a general guideline.

 

2. Set small and realistic goals

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Setting small and realistic goals can help you to stay on track without overdoing it. Acknowledge each goal you reach by giving yourself a reward.Gaining weight may not be as easy a task as it seems. Just as with weight loss, weight gain can be a  slow process. Take everything step by step and rather than trying to reach one big goal, set small, reachable goals along the way.

Don’t try to go from eating 1200 calories to 2,500 in one day. Increase your calories slowly and overtime you will reach the larger goal.

Setting small and realistic goals can help you to stay on track without overdoing it. Acknowledge each goal you reach by giving yourself a reward.

For example, your goal might be to increase your calorie intake by eating 200 more calories everyday for a week. Once you hit this goal you might ask some friends out to dinner or go shopping and buy yourself the outfit you’ve been wanting. This will help you to stay motivated and keep going.

 

3. Supplementation

I’m not a huge advocate of supplements. Sure there are some out there that are great, and individuals who experience nutritional deficiencies can certainly benefit from supplementation. But in general a healthy individual can usually get what they need from their diet.

However, for individuals who are underweight supplements can be a great tool to start with until you build up your diet. For example, many people who are under-nourished often experience iron, potassium and calcium deficiencies.

I recommend getting a check up from your doctor to identify any nutritional deficiencies, if any. From there decide if you need to take any supplements until those levels get back to normal.

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4. Exercise

To exercise or not to exercise? Depending on your starting weight, you may want to hold off. If your body is quite weak I would suggest starting with a few days a week of exercise. Definitely stay away from any high-intensity cardio as that burns a lot of calories.

I am a huge advocate of yoga as it is low-impact and works on strength, flexibility, relaxation and endurance all at once. Start with some easy beginners yoga workouts. If you’re not a yoga fan then start with some light weight-lifting and/or bodyweight exercises.

Once you’re body starts getting used to the extra calories you may feel your strength is improving as well as your energy-levels, sleep, skin, hair and mental state. Once you get to this point, maybe after about one or two months, you can begin to add to your workouts. Start to do more intense versions of yoga such as ashtanga yoga or power yoga, or begin lifting heavier weights.

Make sure you are still taking it slow and work your way up over time. It’s still a good idea to stay away from high-intensity training or long bouts of cardio.

 

5. Eat frequently

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Eating frequently, about 5-6 meals a day will help ensure you are getting in enough food. There will be times when you don’t feel hungry but want to make sure you are eating enough calories. Eating every 3-4 hours is a great way to not only get all of your calories in but also to get your body used to eating regularly.

Here is a sample meal plan:

  • Breakfast: 2 whole eggs, oatmeal with all natural nut butter, piece of fruit
  • Snack: whole fat Greek yogurt, sprinkle of granola, some berries
  • Lunch: lean beef, sweet potato, side salad
  • Snack: handful of nuts with fruit
  • Dinner: salmon, brown rice, vegetables
  • Snack: glass of milk and a dark chocolate bar

6. Go for full-fat

In weight loss diets you are always hearing about “low-fat” “non-fat” and “sugar-free” options. Remove these words from your vocabulary for the time being and focus on full-fat yogurt, milk and cheese. If you enjoy juice go for the sugary variations rather than the chemically altered, sugar free drinks.

 

7. Healthy but dense foods 

Although you want to nourish and repair your body with healthy foods, you always want to get the best bang for your buck. Choose healthy foods that are rich in calories and pack a lot of protein, carbohydrates and fats into a small amount.

Here are some options:

  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Healthy oil
  • Dried and fresh fruit
  • Starchy vegetables

For a quick and delicious snack make a homemade trail mix by combining some nuts, seeds, coconut flakes and dark chocolate chips.

 

A few last words

Weight gain will take time. The best advice I can give is to go slow and let the process happen with time. Listen to your body and never move onto a bigger goal until you’ve mastered the smaller one.

If you end up gaining a little too much weight, just cut your calories back by about 200 until you get where you want. You can also add in some HIIT training and cardio if too much weight gain occurs.

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