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Saturday, December 31, 2011

How to Jump-Start Your 2012 Workout Action Plan

f you're the type of person who likes to set New Year's resolutions each year, then you've probably already come up with some fitness-related goals to add to the list. With the holidays soon coming to a close, it can be difficult to carve out some time to plan for the next 12 months, which is why I've come up with some easy tips to help you get your workout plan underway. Just make sure your list doesn't include some of these unrealistic resolutions, which are pretty much guaranteed to fail!
running shoes
  • Get Calendar Crazy: Don't stress about filling in your calendar for the entire year, but what can be helpful is to plan out the next two or three months. Is there a yoga or spin class you've been wanting to try? Find the class time each week and add it to your calendar so you instantly block off that time. If you know you want to get back into running, carve some time out of your calendar for scheduled running sessions. Also pencil in marathons and anything else fitness-related that interests you and is happening in 2012.
Keep reading to check out the rest of the plan!
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Friday, December 23, 2011

The Burning Question: Is Doing a Detox a Good Idea?

NO: It's risky — and you don't need it.
Glenn Braunstein, MD, professor and chairman, department of medicine, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles
  • Our bodies have built-in detoxifiers.
    The liver, the kidneys, and the colon are naturally designed to remove toxins and eliminate them through our waste, so there's no need for additional help.
A (Safe!) Jump-Start Cleanse
  • It's potentially harmful.
    Many extreme programs, like fasting, juice diets, and the Master Cleanse, can leave the body weak and devoid of vital nutrients, like protein and essential vitamins, even if you do them for a short time. Colonics — which flush the colon with warm water to remove a supposed buildup of waste there — carry the risk of dehydration, infection, and even perforation of the colon wall.
Diet Tricks the Pros Tell Their Friends
  • Detoxes can create more toxins.
    Plans that severely restrict food can cause the body to burn fat for fuel. Burning large amounts of fat releases chemicals called ketones into the blood — and a buildup of these can cause bad breath, loss of appetite, nausea, and in rare cases, coma or death.
Keep reading to hear the argument for detox cleanses.
YES: Some types may be healthy.
Cathy Wong, ND, naturopathic doctor and an American College of Nutrition – certified nutrition specialist
  • A detox can help clear you out.
    A cleanse that combines vegetable-based meals with green juices can get things moving in your digestive system, thanks to its high fiber-and-water content. It may even help flush toxins. (Don't do one for more than a week or so.)
Detox Meals to Soothe Your System
  • It might make you feel better.
    Many people report that they have more energy, better concentration, less bloating, and fewer cravings after going on a detox diet.
  • It gets you into a new groove.
    Detoxes shift you away from bad habits (like excessive intake of coffee, alcohol, and fatty or sugary foods) and can help foster healthier habits even once we're off them.
Diet Crutches: What Works, What Doesn't's advice:
If you've been feeling bogged down by junk food, alcohol, additives, or extra weight, a diet of whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is a good way to reboot healthy habits. But stay away from hard-core programs that require severe caloric restriction. They'll only leave you nutrient-deficient and grumpy, not to mention slow your metabolism. Skip the colonic, too, and have lots of water and fiber-rich fruits and veggies instead to keep your digestive system moving safely.
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

3 Must-Have Items For New Year Fitness Goals

For a lot of us, the New Year equals a fresh start, and getting healthy and fit seems to be on everyone's mind. Regardless of what your fitness goals might be, it's never too early to start the journey. Here are a few items to get now, which will help ensure that 2012 is your fittest year ever!
  • Planner or calendar: There's something about scheduling a fitness date that keeps people committed. Before the New Year, go old school and treat yourself to a brand-new planner or calendar. When planning out your week, pencil in workouts the same way you do meetings, happy hours, and other engagements; doing this will keep you from double-booking and help you better organize your workouts. I'm partial to one of these handmade planners from Etsy.
  • New shoes or gear: There's no motivation to hit the gym or running trail than a new pair of shoes! In the same way that you can't wait to wear a brand-new dress, you'll be dying to break in your new shoes. If your shoes don't need to be replaced yet, treat yourself to a pair of high-quality capris or a couple of cute fitness tanks. Check out these picks of cute and fashionable fitness finds.
  • Personal training session: The beginning of a new year is a perfect time to assess your fitness level and set new goals. What better way to do that than to meet with a personal trainer? It might seem like a waste of money, but a trainer can assess where you're at, know which areas you need improvement in, and challenge you where you most need to be pushed. If you can only spring for one session, make sure to maximize your time with the trainer: ask a lot of questions and let him or her know what your expecting to get out of the session. Hopefully you'll walk away with a new workout or a plan that pushes you to the next level.
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Monday, December 19, 2011

Quick Fixes For When You Have Overindulged

While we'd all love to be more conscious of portion sizes to help reduce holiday weight gain, all it takes is a cheese ball here, and a pigs in a blanket there, and those innocent bite-sized holiday treats can produce an explosion of heartburn and bloating in your belly. If you went a little overboard at the hors d'oeuvres table (or the main course), and are now feeling the negative side effects, here are some quick remedies to help ease the pain.
  • Walk It Off: No need for a brisk, speed-walking session, but around 20 minutes after your meal, a leisurely walk can assist in dispelling gas from your abdomen. What walking does is help to relieve overall intestinal pressure and therefore will reduce that uncomfortable bloating feeling. Walking also helps to get the blood flowing, which aids in the overall digestion process. Fresh air in itself can make you feel better too!
Keep reading for more tips.
  • Bloating-Busting Foods: About a half hour after you've indulged, if you can still stomach some food, try eating a small portion of either papaya, pineapple, or yogurt, since all of these food items are great in aiding in the digestion process. For instance, pineapple is high in the enzyme bromelain, which helps break down protein, making it easier for your body to digest your food.
  • Drink Green Tea: Help your body cut fat accumulation and cholesterol levels by drinking green tea during or after your meal. Controlled studies have shown that green tea contains certain polyphenols, or plant-based antioxidants, which help break down fat, thus helping to lower cholesterol level and BMI.
  • Refrain From Lying Down: You may be tempted to hit the sofa for some post-party relief, but don't! Wait at least three hours after your meal to avoid acid reflux since all those gastric juices will be working hard to help digest your food.
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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Celebrate Winter Solstice With Sun Salutation A

Although it feels like we were just talking about bikini workouts and sunscreen, December 22 is the first day of Winter — the Winter Solstice. You can celebrate by getting outside for a Winter run, cooking up a hearty pot of soup, or do like the yogis do: perform 108 Sun Salutations, a practice called Mala. The number 108 is considered sacred in Hindu and Buddhist belief systems, and it represents quite a physical challenge too.
If there's no yoga studio close to you hosting a group Mala, unroll your yoga mat and try it on your own. Light some candles or perform your sun salutes under the twinkling glow of your Christmas tree. Get ready to welcome Winter and say hello to the sun.
Not sure how to do a sun salute? Watch this video of the calming yoga sequence.
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Get the Bod: Katie Holmes

Katie Holmes worked out on her birthday. The actress is a huge fan of spinning, and to celebrate her b-day, we're bringing you tips from her her spin instructor, Audrey Adler. Learn three moves Audrey using a stationary bike to tone your legs and bum. This video is full of great tips to help you maximize your indoor cycling workout and take it to the next level. Bike on!
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Is Going on a Juice Fast a Good Idea?

Going on a juice cleanse, or drinking nothing but pressed juices extracted from fruits and vegetables, has been all the rage lately. The idea sounds like a good one — combat the effects of a wild night out or a life of indulgent eating with a few days or weeks of "detox" to rid your body of lurking toxins. Backed by celebrities and celebrity doctors alike, it's no wonder that drinking your diet has been gaining popularity. But is following a juice cleanse safe? Read on to learn more.
What's the Appeal?
Many of juicing's benefits are more anecdotal than scientifically based, but proponents of juicing are enthusiastic about it. Many claim that juicing vegetables and fruits allows you to absorb the nutrients easier than eating them since less digestive work is needed. Proponents also claim that following a juice-only diet can help your body detox, which may lead to more energy, clearer skin, and fewer digestive and other health issues. With high-profile juicing fans like Nicole Richie, Salma Hayek, and Gwyneth Paltrow and filmed testimonials like Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead — a documentary about a man's 60-day all-juice diet and his subsequent healthy transformation — the popularity of going on an all-juice diet has only grown.

Does It Work?
The lack of peer-reviewed studies on the effects of juicing has led to conflicting information about whether it's a do or don't. Most scientists, however, agree that going on a juice fast is unnecessary for ridding your body of toxins. Our liver and kidneys are already effective at eliminating any unneeded waste, so following a liquid-based diet won't help any more than normal.
Find out more about going on a juice fast after the break.
A juice-based diet, however, can be a good way of getting far more phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables than you could normally eat, and going on a "detox" for a few days can also help jump-start a commitment to a healthier diet. Many experts, like Dr. Frank Lipman, tout the psychological effect of going on a juice fast, like motivating you to be healthier overall, or feeling like you can think more clearly. But if you're thinking of going on a juice cleanse to lose weight, know that weight loss doesn't happen for everyone, since many juice cleanse programs include an adequate amount of calories. 

Should You Do It?
The promise of a clearer, less foggy mind, more nutrients in your diet, and possible weight loss is enough to have many wanting to forgo the fork. And since we are what we eat, replacing processed foods high in saturated fat with fresh, organic produce can only help, and may even help determine if we are sensitive to any foods eliminated during the cleanse. But, depending on your particular program, detox diets like juice fasts may cause many different problems, like dehydration, nausea, or fatigue, and it can cause you miss out on other much-needed nutrients like fiber and protein. Also keep in mind that whatever benefits you experience during those few days of your detox diet will go away if you revert back to old unhealthy eating habits.
While some doctors believe that going on a juice fast won't do any harm, all recommend that you talk to your doctor to make sure your body is up for it. Dr. Oz recommends that you should never start a juice fast without first ensuring that you are eating a normal nutrient-rich diet for at least a month.

Getting Started
Not all juice fasts are created equal. Whether or not they are as restrictive as going on a Master Cleanse, one program may have you only ingesting fewer than 500 calories a day, while others allow you to drink as much juice as you want or incorporate eating fresh, whole foods as well. Do your research so you know whether or not you'll be getting all the nutrients and calories you need, and talk to your doctor before you start a detox program.
You don't, of course, have to subsist on only juice to feel its effects. If you're looking to add a healthy juice or two to your daily diet to boost energy or get more nutrients, try a few of these recipes below:
  • Nutritionist Kimberly Snyder's Glowing Green Smoothie
  • Green Juice With Apple and Carrot
  • Dr. Oz's Green Drink
Choosing the right juicer is also important. Read our guide to the top five juicing machines before you buy.
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