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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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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Get Fit Challenge 5: A Reader's Treadmill Workout

I really enjoy walking or running outdoors, but it's been way too cold here in VA for outdoor workouts so I've been a gym rat for the past few months. Here's one of my recent treadmill workouts. I like it because it switches from walking to running and also changes inclines, keeps your mind busy, and goes by faster than if you were doing the same pace for 40 minutes. 

Share your latest workout (cardio, strength training, warm-up) in our Get Fit For 2011 challenge group to enter to win a $100 Nike gift card and a chance to win our grand prize — a four-day fitness boot camp in LA!
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Monday, December 12, 2011

From the Community: Beat Boredom With This 40-Minute Treadmill Workout

Caught in a rut on the treadmill? FitSugar reader FitFabCities has created a 40-minute treadmill workout that is certain to get you excited about the gym again!
I'm not afraid to say it: I love the treadmill. I know, I know, my fellow runners out there probably gasp in horror at the thought of spending even 30 minutes "running but going nowhere," but I love it. I love staying dry, I love watching TV, and I really love being warm.
That said, I am willing to admit it can get a wee bit  boring if every time you hop on the old treadmill, you hit your regular three to five miles. Well that's why I love this workout; you'll be changing speeds, inclines, even directions every minute, so there is no chance you'll get bored. After all,  keeping your mind and body guessing is the best way to keep seeing results!
See this interval workout (and get a printable copy) after the break!
Here is how it works:
  • You'll warm up and alternate fast and medium running speeds every minute while also increasing your incline. Great treadmill bonus: you can add hills whenever you like.
  • Then you'll recover and move onto a section where you jog backwards and shuffle sideways on the treadmill. Tip: make sure you hold onto the arm rails until you get the hang of this exercise. (I loveit since it's great for toning the back of the legs and outer thighs).
  • Rest and catch your breath, then it's onto alternating sprints and recovery jogs.
The 40 minutes will fly by and if you're not already a treadmill convert, hopefully this workout will help you on your way! Happy running!
Printable 40 Minute Treadmill Workout
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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Why You Aren't Toning Up With Strength Training

We are pumped to share one of our fave stories from Self here on FitSugar!
If you aren't seeing the results you want and you know you're putting in the effort, it might be because you're not getting the most from your strength training workouts. Tempo is an oft overlooked, but pivotal aspect to toning and strengthening muscles.
Tempo is the pace or speed at which you move through the reps of the exercises. "Most people do not pay attention to tempo for one of two reasons; either they are trying to do too much weight and need to use momentum (to create the movement) or they are in a hurry and rushing through their exercises," says strength training expert Tim Bishop M.S., C.S.C.S., owner of sports performance facility, PerformFit and author of the new book Stronger Legs & Lower Body (Human Kinetics, 2011).
Next time you're at the gym, try this tempo timing trick Bishop shared: generally, you should count about four seconds on the down (or eccentric phase), and about two seconds on the up (or concentric phase).
Learn more about tempo after the break!
So why is tempo so important? "Proper pacing is important for maintaining correct technique," Bishop says. When thinking about the tempo of your exercise, there is the exercise's movement and its negative (i.e. the downward part of a bicep curl). Don't rush through either movement and keep muscles engaged the entire time instead of passively lowering weights, to maximize your workout's efficiency (meaning majorly toned muscles). "The down phase, or the negative, should be the focus. This is the phase of the movement that develops the most strength," Bishop says.
While Bishop notes a faster pace could be appropriate when training for explosive power, for most gym sessions, a slow, controlled tempo will ensure targeted muscles are engaged and reduce the risk of injury. "Proper tempo will work the targeted muscle much more effectively. Momentum will draw in other muscles of the body to help with the movement and will not focus on the involved muscle(s) attempting to be trained," he says.
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