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What You Can Do To Reduce Risks For Stroke

What You Can Do To Reduce Risks For Stroke

Stroke is a condition that falls under the umbrella of heart disease. Most people don’t realize that there are three kinds of stroke and that there are things you can do to reduce your risk of all kinds of stroke.  

The three major kinds of stroke include the following:

  • Thrombotic stroke - This is the type of stroke in which plaques build up on the arterial walls of the arteries leading to the brain. The plaques narrow the blood vessels and clots can form in the narrowed areas, causing a reduction in oxygen and blood flow to the brain stops.
  • Embolic stroke - This is the type of stroke in which there is a blood clot somewhere in the body (usually on a heart valve) that breaks off and travels through the bloodstream so that it cuts off the circulation to an area of the brain, resulting in a stroke.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke -  Rather than an area of the brain being without blood and oxygen, a blood vessel in the brain opens up, causing bleeding to occur within the brain. This can be due to areas of weakness in the blood vessels or to aneurysms in the brain that open up and bleed.

Stroke Statistics In The United States

  • Stroke is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States
  • There are 795,000 strokes every year
  • Someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds of each and every day in the US
  • Stroke is the leading reason for serious disability overall, and those who survive are often left with paralysis and speech impairment causing long-term disability, often requiring long-term care
  • After the age of 55 years old, the risk for stroke doubles every decade
  • Almost ¾ of all strokes occur in people age older than 65

(Data source: Internet Stroke Center)

Prevention Of Stroke

There are different ways to prevent a stroke depending on the type of stroke you are trying to prevent. There are some things you can do that prevent a certain type of stroke but that has the potential to worsen another type of stroke.

The following are some things you can do to prevent a stroke:

  • Maintain a normal blood pressure - This holds true for all kinds of stroke. If your blood pressure is too high, it contributes to arterial spasm and increases the risk of thrombotic stroke. If the blood pressure is too high, it can push the blood clot in the heart from the heart valve into the circulatory system of the brain, resulting in an embolic stroke. In a completely different way, high blood pressure can cause hemorrhagic strokes. If there is a weakness in the walls of any part of the brain’s circulatory system, high blood pressure can cause that weak area to open up, resulting in the kind of bleeding you see in a hemorrhagic stroke.
  • Maintain a normal cholesterol - Cholesterol is what makes up part of the plaques that contribute to getting a thrombotic stroke. If you maintain a good level of cholesterol, the plaques don’t build up so much and the chance that a blood clot can form in the arteries is much less. You can keep a good cholesterol level by eating food that is low in cholesterol or by taking medications designed to lower the cholesterol level.  
  • Stop smoking - Smoking has the potential to raise your blood pressure, increasing the risk of all kinds of strokes. Smoking also contributes to plaque formation in the walls of the blood vessels so that the risk of thrombotic stroke increases. The longer you smoke, the greater is the risk of developing all kinds of heart disease, including that of thrombotic stroke.
  • Take a baby aspirin - Baby aspirin is a commonly used medication used to prevent the recurrence of a heart attack in a patient who has already had a heart attack. Aspirin is a platelet inhibitor, which means that it blocks platelets from sticking together and forming a blood clot. This same phenomenon can work in the prevention of both thrombotic strokes and embolic strokes. If the platelets cannot form a blood clot, it will prevent a blood clot from forming on a heart valve so that it can’t travel to an area of the brain, leading to an embolic stroke. In the same way, when platelets are blocked from forming a clot inside a narrowed area of the blood vessels leading to the brain, this thwarts the onset of a thrombotic stroke.

Living a healthy lifestyle so that the blood pressure is reduced, smoking is not a problem, and cholesterol is kept within normal levels will go a long way toward reducing the incidence of all kinds of strokes.

If you are concerned about stroke, or any type of heart disease it is a great idea to see your doctor and get a full physical and relevant screenings to be sure that there is not more than that you can do to ensure you remain in optimal health.

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A Guide For Women: Finding "Me" Time

A Guide For Women: Finding "Me" Time

They say a woman’s work is never done. A hectic work schedule, combined with trying to balance other areas of your life, may lead to you feeling like you are spinning too many plates in the air at once.

With kids, family, work, chores, and the many responsibilities that we have to fulfill, there never seems to be enough time to let alone think about, never mind fulfill our own needs or desires.

This can lead to women experiencing depression, anxiety, or just a general feeling that you are worn out. Besides how it affects us personally, being worn out also means that your performance and attentiveness to all you have to do will suffer. Irritation becomes common, as we feel overwhelmed and unable to deal with the stressors of the day.

Everyone is different, and each individual has different ideas about how to find time to for ‘me’. This is a guide on how to make some ‘me’ time. The solutions below are not the only ones but may give you some ideas of how to find space and time in your life.

Utilize The Time You Have

If you have errands to run or appointments to keep but find yourself early or waiting around in your car, make use of the time. For example, read a book or practice meditation. These two activities require a certain amount of tranquility and peace, so why not use your window of opportunity to do this. Of course, you could just listen to some music and relax.

Alternatively, if you were in a more productive mood you could just catch up on paperwork that you have to do. This is your time; you can do with it what you wish. By carrying out this task now, you are freeing up time at a later date.

Make A Date With Yourself (And Keep It!)

Once a week, take time to do the things you like to do alone. To do this you need to learn to say no to the people in your life or learn to delegate your duties to someone else (mainly talking childcare here people!). This will enable you to have some time to relax.

Go and grab a drink somewhere, get some exercise, or even just disappear to another part of the house. Anything you can think of to do that would enable you to free up space in that busy head of yours.

Treat Yourself   

This can simply be an extension of the previous where you make a date with yourself. Once a month, go treat yourself, this can be anything you wish, such as shopping, a spa day, a movie, or even just spending time with your friends, catching up on their lives. This is totally your choice. Go and see the great outdoors, spend a day cycling. The point is this is ‘me’ time.   

You would think that these tips on finding ‘me’ time would be obvious. However, this time can often be difficult to find. A 2014 UK study looking at working mothers found 51% of them went weeks without relaxing on their own.

When further questioned, nearly 75% of the 2000 women felt they lived their whole lives for other people. Some women are lucky enough to have partners and family to rely on to take the strain; others are not so fortunate. However, there are still things you can do to make time in your life.

Learn to Say No

No, means setting boundaries and limiting what you will or are willing to do in a single day or week. This may mean having to say no to some things, but considering how much your wellness matters, it may be well worth it.

The best tip you all need to know is…

Be Organized  

By planning your day and week you can identify opportunities for ‘me’ time. Making lists and looking at your week would help you to see those times where gaps appear in your schedule. An organization can be the key to doing this.

The more you practice doing this the more you will learn where you can fit things in. It could be as simple as going for a walk for 20 minutes.

On that walk, take a look at the world around you. We live in a beautiful world, whether it is a flower or a smile on a person’s face. It is all there for us, you just need to be able to see it.

Now go get yourself some ‘me’ time.

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5 Tips for Women to Build Lean Muscle Tone

5 Tips for Women to Build Lean Muscle Tone

Many women seek to improve their fitness levels, partly for health reasons and partly for looks. When it comes to looking more toned this is achieved by building muscle tone and making those muscles much leaner.

But how is this achieved for women?

We all know that women’s bodies are different to men’s in many ways to how we build muscle is also a little different.  

Generally, muscle tone improves when the muscle fibers become larger, which is often the result of constant weight training. A key aspect to remember is muscle can weigh more than fat so don’t be alarmed if the scale numbers increase.

Here are the top 5 ways for women to build lean muscle tone and improve their overall appearance.

  1. Increased repetitions when weight training

Weight training is the best way to improve muscle tone and to overall build lean muscles. However, there is little benefit in rarely challenging yourself, as this does not provide enough of a challenge to the muscle fibers. Each time you are weight training you need to increase the number of repetitions that you are doing to stretch the muscles further.  

An ideal workout would be a sensible weight but at six to twelve repetition sessions. However, if you are looking for lean muscle the key aspect is to not go above this limit. This is because you want to train your muscles for strength rather than stamina as it is the strength that gives you the lean muscle tone.

  1. Eat more protein

We should all aim for a balanced diet, which includes a healthy amount of protein whether we are working out or not. However, if you are looking to build lean muscle tone this becomes even more important. Protein is essentially the building blocks for muscles, so quite simply, the more you have the bigger you can build your muscles. Protein is also filling so can help you feel fuller for longer and reduce the cravings to snack between meals.

  1. Reduce the number of carbohydrates you eat

Carbohydrates are most commonly found in foods such as bread, pasta, and rice. Although they are also a necessary part of a healthy diet if you are trying to build lean muscle tone you want to reduce the number of carbohydrates you are consuming.  

This is not to say cut them out completely; they are still an essential part of a healthy diet. Carbohydrates help the body release insulin, which is needed for energy and to help with muscle repair.  

  1. Eat more vegetables

Again, vegetables are a key part of a healthy diet and should be eaten every day whether you are working out or not. When you are trying to build lean muscle tone vegetables become even more important.  

Vegetables generally contain very few calories and have a high thermic effect. This means they consume a lot of energy to eat, digest, and burn through again. This helps with building muscle tone, particularly if they are eaten raw or just slightly cooked.

  1. Minimize the amount of cardio you do

Weight training to gain muscle is a very different type of exercise to cardio workouts and achieves different aims. If you are focusing on building lean muscle tone then you need to minimize the number of cardio workouts you do.  

The long distance running or cycling workouts are particularly the worst as they encourage muscle wastage. Rather than eliminate all cardio workouts, you will help build muscle tone by including very short bursts of high-intensity runs or cycle workouts. However, this is the absolute maximum cardio that you should do, as it will not help with building muscle.

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How To Beat Self-Doubt And Insecurities To Become The Best You

How To Beat Self-Doubt And Insecurities To Become The Best You

One of the most limiting things a person can experience in this life is self-doubt. It has the ability to keep you feeling locked away in a prison of your own insecurities. It will suffocate your ability to explore and be free to engage with opportunities and adventures and it will hold you back from ever achieving the things that you really want.

I have personally met people who even gave up on wanting anything at all due to having such a high level of self-doubt. Their insecurities had escalated to such a point over the course of their life where they eventually gave up on even considering that they had any level of freedom at all regarding their own choices.

This is a terrible place to find ourselves in and it causes a person to live a life that has been massively limited by the illusory constructs that have formed in their mind. Fortunately, though, with a little work and the right amount of determination, there is something that we can do to conquer this.

Dominating Doubt

Doubt itself, by its very nature, is negative. It is something that denounces and turns down any thoughts of positive or action-inspiring suggestion. If left unchecked, doubt becomes a mindset that keeps a person completely closed off from the world of positive inspiration and it keeps a person confined to a self-centered and destructive ego.

In order to dominate doubt, we must first desire to do so. If we do not have the desire to at least investigate the ability to overcome doubt, then there is truly no hope for us.

A person who is happy to live in a world of doubt is like cancer that will infect and overcome anyone who has even a shred of positivity to express, like a black hole, they consume all light, and there is no hope of it ever being re-produced in return.

Someone who has decided to overcome doubt though is like a black hole that has decided to try to stop sucking in everything and instead has chosen to learn how to produce and create a little light.

Without having made the choice to do this, without having personally decided that they want to become more positive, more inspiring and more encouraging, a person has no hope of ever conquering their own self-doubt.

The Argument Of Doubt

The main argument that people offer to encourage their own self-doubt is that they have either never been able to, or never witnessed something happen. For example, if you try to encourage a person to become a confident public speaker and they harbor massive amounts of internal self-doubt, they will argue that they have never been able to speak confidently in public before and so they just think that from their own point of view, it cannot be done.

Another person who doubts the ability of someone to come up with some kind of new and enlightening invention doubts it because he has never seen it done before and therefore thinks it simply cannot be done. In all cases of self-doubt, a person is living with a mindset that has experienced great limitation somewhere in the past.

Therefore, when we know this, we can implement strategies to conquer and eventually destroy these specific doubts. How do we do this?

Creationism

No not the kind of creationism that claims the world was created in 6 days and that all life on earth is somewhere in the region of 6,000 years old, do not even get me started on that! What I am talking about is a form of creationism that is completely and intimately personal. It is inspirational, encouraging, motivating, it is creating and producing and freeing. It is everything that self-doubt is not.

This works for all kinds of self-doubt and insecurity because it has the effect of contradicting and opposing every form that self-doubt or insecurity takes. We intimately prove the self-doubting limitation wrong, and eventually, the mind learns a newer and more positive way of thinking about things, because it has witnessed firsthand the undoing of every single one of its limiting, doubting thoughts.

In order to do this, we must either show or create a case for the opposite. We need proof. Show yourself the opposite of your own self-doubt. Investigate and encourage yourself to try your very best to achieve or to witness or experience the very thing that your mind doubts.

Commit yourself to the challenge of proving every single one of your doubts wrong, and if you can do this, you will slowly re-program your mind to be able to achieve anything that you could possibly want to achieve.

Conquer the limitations of your doubts and you become a purely positive, inspirational, creative force of life on this planet earth.

Sit with your doubting mind, however, and you will begin to fester in a world of negativity, opposition, and argument for all things limiting. I know which path I would rather choose.

Now the choice is up to you.

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Learning To Say No As Part Of Better Self-Care

Learning To Say No As Part Of Better Self-Care

There are too many nice people in the world today…or so it might seem, with the number of “yes” folks you run into on a daily basis. However, what about the lesser heard “evil sibling”, the word NO?

As a child, you were raised to be considerate of others, and to accommodate them as much as possible.

How do you know exactly when enough is enough? And more importantly, are you saying no to yourself by saying yes to others every time? Chances are that is exactly what you are doing, even if only subliminally.

Wondering when is the time for you to use your no’s effectively? We’ve got you covered!

 

Piling On Stress

Not being able to say no can greatly contribute to elevated stress and real quick! Doing too many feelings of overwhelm cause and add to the chronic stress, and people who cannot say no are usually the first to fall victim.

It is important to understand your own boundaries and limitations, and while helping others is important, you have to take care of yourself first.

This means sometimes saying no to friends and family, in order to maintain an optimal level of health and wellness for yourself.

 

Feelings Of Obligation

This is by far the most common cause of resentment in persons since they are basically “forced” to say yes whether or not they want to. Maybe the person asking did a major favor for you in life, maybe it is a family member.

You feel a sense of obligation to always be on beck and call for whatever that person requests of you, but you need to ask yourself “when is my bill paid in full?” will you continue to feel a forced sense of obligation forever?

This constant obligatory situation builds resentment, and resentment can literally make you physically ill!

You need to let them know you have to put yourself first, by doing what you need to do. If an issue arises, it may be best to sever ties and remove a toxic person from your life.

 

Weekday Partying

We sincerely hope you are not one of those weekday party animals! Though we fully understand the need to unwind after a tiring week’s work, there is absolutely no justification for staying out late and drinking on a weekday when you have responsibilities to meet the next morning! It is more than likely the result of friends asking or guilting you out even though your better sense says no.

You’re not doing yourself any favors as you will be sleeping deficient the following day, not to mention likely hungover and miserable. Saying yes to that is saying no to your well-being.

 

Enabling Bad Behavior

It has happened to all of us before, from a kid asking for something, hearing no and slowly breaking you down to much worse influences on your life.

From friends begging you for a loan, to unnecessary spending, while it may seem ok or insignificant at the time, it enables bad behavior and disrespect over the long haul.

When you say no, it needs to stay that way. You will gain infinite respect for having unbendable beliefs and will be looked at as a pillar of strength.

 

Not Speaking Up

There have undoubtedly been numerous times when you sit quietly while something (or someone) boils your blood to the point of an eruption, yet you show no outward emotions. This can range from a boss berating you in the office, a bully, or a random stranger who finds it appropriate to assert their dominance over you.

By allowing it, you are doing just that, rolling over and assuming the fetal position. Open your mouth, demand your respect and speak for what you believe in.

 

Conclusion

NO is not a bad word. It has been criminalized via society and the illusion that things must be ok all the time. You will only end up resenting yourself for being weak, and not ever doing what you want to do by allowing others to always walk over you. You need to look after yourself before you look after anyone else, after all, lead by example!

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Want To Lose Weight Faster? Try These Workouts

Want To Lose Weight Faster? Try These Workouts

It is a well-known fact that we can lose weight faster when we workout and there are some workouts that can make the process even faster. While some people chase “super fast” weight loss pipe dreams with fad diets, others choose the smart and effective path of a healthy diet and regular exercise to lose the weight and keep it off.

While there are days in which you feel excited about heading to the gym and engaging in challenging workouts with your friends, other times may not want to do so, and you’d rather be by yourself and workout in your own living room.

The good news is that you can lose weight fast by working out at home. So, whenever you don’t feel like going to the gym, the following home workouts will help you build your muscles and lose weight in the privacy of your own house.

Six 5-Minute Fat Burning Exercises

The following exercises are very effective in building your muscles and helping you lose weight, especially if you have a busy schedule. If you practice these exercises daily, you will lose weight and get your body in shape fast.

You will need a comfortable mat, a towel, and a skipping rope. Don’t forget to hydrate yourself before and after your workout. Let’s get started.  

Upside-Down Pipe Exercise – 30 Seconds

This exercise lasts for 30 seconds. It is extremely effective in shaping your abs.

  1. Place your hands on the mat and maintain your body balanced while relying only on your hands and toes.
  2. Stretch your legs next to your body. Next, pull the legs away from your hands, stretching them backward.
  3. Do this exercise for 30 seconds.

It will strengthen your abs, arms, and back.

Leg-lift Exercise – 30 seconds

This exercise focuses mainly on shaping your legs, tights, and abs.

  1. Lie down on your back on the mat. You need to keep your legs close to each other.
  2. Next, lift them up, while keeping them close to each other, as your body’s making the letter L.
  3. As you bring your legs back to the initial position, stretch them in the opposite directions.
  4. Repeat this exercise for 30 seconds.

Squats Exercise – 30 seconds

Squats are always included in cardio exercises because they aim not only at toning your tights but also at shaping your entire figure.

  1. For this exercise, you need to separate your legs and shoulders and lean over as you achieve the perfect squat and muscle contraction.
  2. Try jumping as you go back to the initial position.

This exercise will also improve your cardiovascular health. Your legs will look stunning in no time.

Mat Abs Exercise – 30 seconds

This exercise is great for shaping your abs and tights.

  1. For this mat exercise, you need to lie down on your stomach on the mat.
  2. Next, raise your hands, chest, and legs while trying to maintain your balance on the mat.
  3. Repeat the exercise for 30 seconds.

Knee Exercise – 30 seconds

The greatest thing about this exercise is that it shapes your entire body, while focusing especially on reducing your arm fat.

  1. Lie down on the ground and raise yourself pushing your entire weight on your hands. This is the initial starting position.
  2. Afterward, stretch your left knee, so it touches your left elbow.
  3. Do the same with the right knee and right elbow.

Rope-skipping Exercise – 30 seconds

This exercise is accessible to everybody and is more effective than you might think while at the same time being fun.

Skipping exercises are the perfect solution for shaping your legs, working your abs, improving balance and coordination, and getting a highly effective cardio fat burning workout.

Skip in place as long as your fitness level will allow. Start slow so you can learn to coordinate your skips with the jump rope. Keep your body straight during the exercise.

As you get more fit keep adding more time to each jump rope session and increase your speed.

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The Effect Of Weight Loss On Heart Health

The Effect Of Weight Loss On Heart Health

Being overweight can result in an increased risk of heart disease. In order to know if you are overweight, you need to check your body mass index or BMI. This can be done using a BMI calculator on the internet or by calculating it yourself, which means taking your weight in pounds and dividing it by your height in inches squared. You then multiply that number by 703 to get your body mass index.

A body mass index of between 18 and 25 is considered normal. A body mass index of 25 to 30 means you are overweight and a body mass index of above 30 means you are obese.  

If you are overweight or obese, you need to do what you can to get your BMI values into the normal range. It means getting in shape through regular exercise and eating foods that are lower in calories and fat.

You don’t have to lose a ton of weight in order to lessen your risk of heart attacks and strokes.

A weight loss of just 5 to 10% will greatly lessen your risk of the various types of heart disease, including stroke, heart attacks, or peripheral vascular disease.  

The Results of a Recent Study

Researchers who published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that when you reduce the number of calories you take in, the actual type of diet you choose isn’t as important. It means you can eat a low-fat diet, a low carb diet, or a high protein diet, as long as the total calorie count is below that which sustains your weight.  

An average person needs between 2000 and 2500 calories per day to sustain their weight. If you can reduce the number of calories you take in per day to 500 calories less than your baseline, you can lose up to a pound of body weight per day, regardless of where you choose to reduce those calories.

It isn’t as much about a specific balance of carbs, protein, or fat but depends on the total calorie count per day. Also, keep in mind that if you become very physically active you can actually eat more calories daily and still lose weight.

Weight Statistics

According to the organization that takes measurements of our health (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the CDC) about 66% of adults in the US are considered to be overweight while as many as 1/3 of us are to be considered obese.

If you fall into either of these categories, you will be able to lose weight through calorie reduction and will not become one of the statistics at risk for heart disease.

The Role of Exercise

Besides decreasing your calorie count by 500 calories per day, you can increase your level of exercise.

You can do this by running, brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or any other activity you enjoy that raises your heart rate and respiratory rate. This is called aerobic exercise and should be done about thirty minutes a day 3 to 4 times per week.  

On the other days of the week, you can do anaerobic exercise, which means lifting weights or using a specialized weight machine. Anaerobic exercise can increase your muscle mass, which makes it easier to lose weight because your basal metabolic rate will be higher allowing you to burn more fat even when at rest.

Between aerobic exercise and anaerobic exercise, you will be exercising thirty minutes a day every day of the week. It’s just thirty minutes and won’t take up too much time for the benefit it gives you.

How Does The Heart Respond To Weight Loss?

If you lose just ten percent of your body weight (which is twenty pounds for those who weigh 200 pounds already), your heart will respond accordingly and these things will happen:

  • Your blood vessels will be more elastic. The blood vessels will be less narrow and will be more elastic when you exercise. This reduces the workload on your heart and will take the stress away so your heart can function more effectively. There will be less fat in your arteries, which collects on the lining of blood vessels, forming plaques that narrow the arteries and can increase the chances that a blood clot will close off the arteries, causing strokes, peripheral vascular disease, and heart attacks.  
  • Your blood pressure will be lower. There is a direct connection between your weight and blood pressure. The lower your weight, the lower is the risk of developing hypertension, which can lead to heart disease. Exercise also lowers blood pressure, which is another reason to include exercise as part of your weight loss program. You can also take medications for hypertension that might need to be reduced if you can successfully lose some weight.
  • Your blood lipids will be lower.The number of lipids in your blood will be lower when you lose weight. Losing weight can decrease your triglyceride level, can raise your HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol), and can lower your LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol. All of these changes will improve your heart health.  
  • Blood clots will diminish.If you lose weight, it is less likely that you will develop blood clots, which means that your chances of having a blood clot close off an artery will decrease and the chance that a blood clot in your leg could break off, resulting in it traveling to your lungs, brain, and heart.

Your belly fat will go down. It turns out that the amount of fat you retain around your belly greatly increases the risk of heart disease. In a study out of the journal, Cardiology showed that belly fat could contribute to heart disease, even in people who are otherwise of a normal weight. Weight loss around the belly can reduce your risk of developing this complication.

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7 Key Foods That Boost Focus And Concentration

7 Key Foods That Boost Focus And Concentration

Focus and concentration are vital in just about everyone’s lives in one way or another. Many people find it hard to focus or concentrate for long periods of time, or sometimes to even get started. The elusive secret to endless focus and concentration is a myth, but there are certain ways you can increase your focus and concentration levels.  

Techniques such as yoga and meditation have been shown to help focus the mind and come highly recommended. In addition, there are certain foods that can help increase focus and concentration levels, and these are outlined below.

Berries and Tomatoes

Berries and tomatoes are high in antioxidants, specifically, vitamins A, C, and E. These foods help to maintain sufficient blood flow to the brain, which is essential to keep the brain working, as it should; without an adequate blood flow, the brain will struggle to focus. Moreover, these foods also contain anti-inflammatory properties, so also help to protect the brain cells.

Nuts 

Nuts are high in vitamin B6, which has been scientifically shown to be beneficial to our cognitive processes. Specifically, vitamin B6 directly affects our memory and concentration levels, so increasing our level of B6 intake can affect our focus and concentration levels.

Research has also suggested that apart from improving our focus and concentration, vitamin B6 may have an important role in protecting us from diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

Dark chocolate

Good quality dark chocolate has many important health benefits in addition to improving focus and concentration. Research has shown that dark chocolate can increase serotonin and endorphin levels, both of which can help our brain to function better.

Moreover, dark chocolate also contains anti-oxidants and a number of important vitamins and minerals such as potassium. However, too much chocolate can rapidly increase the calories consumed, which ultimately may reduce the positive effects it can have.

Water

Such a simple idea, but water is incredibly effective. A huge percentage of our bodies are made up of water so it is perhaps no wonder that we can struggle to function if we do not consume an adequate amount of water.

Dehydration can occur relatively quickly and one of the first parts to be affected is the brain. Without adequate water, it can be hard to think clearly and mental fatigue can quickly set in.

Green Tea

When you feel like you need a caffeine hit, most people reach for the coffee. By the time, you add sugar and milk, the calories can soon add up and there may not be so much of a positive effect. As an alternative, opt for the green tea instead.

Not only is it better for your waistline, but it contains caffeine, which will help with your focus and concentration. In addition, green tea is rich in anti-oxidants, which helps to protect the brain cells.

Bananas 

Bananas are a simple and easy snack to consume, even for those people on the go. Studies have shown that students who consume bananas before an exam performed much better than those who did not. Bananas contain high levels of potassium, an essential brain chemical.

Potassium helps to keep your brain and nerve cells in top working order. Combine this with other foods listed above and you should never be short of focus or concentration again.

Consider Your Diet

If you typically live on junk and processed food and find yourself struggling with focus and concentration, then consider eating these power foods and in general changing your diet to include more healthy whole food, it can really do wonders for your brain.

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Real Ways Fad Diets Can Harm You

Real Ways Fad Diets Can Harm You

Fad diets are weight loss schemes that promise quick fixes, often involving very strict and extreme eating plans, or very low caloric intake. Unfortunately, these diets do not provide long-term benefits. If anything, they can cause serious health problems.

6 Ways Fad Diets Can Harm You

  1. They Make You Gain Even More Weight

What usually makes fad diets very tempting are the promises of quick weight loss with little effort on the part of the participant. Sure, everyone would love to lose weight in the soonest possible time, with minimal effort and that is always the hook.

Unfortunately, the truth is that yes you can lose weight with fad diets but often it is mostly water weight. Also, fad diets are very hard to stick with, and so while you may lose an initial few pounds, once you resume your normal diet (and everyone always does), you will gain all the weight back, and more often than not, you gain more! This is called rebound weight gain.

Fad diets never implement or address the permanent lifestyle changes required for lasting healthy weight management.

  1. They Can Lead to Nutritional Deficits

Most fad diets restrict your options to specific types of food, thereby eliminating important nutrients the body needs. When you’re limited to a specific type of group, you sacrifice the nutrients that you would otherwise obtain if you were eating a healthy and well-balanced diet.

Carbohydrates are oftentimes considered a no-no in many of these diets, but in reality, restricting carbohydrates can significantly hurt your energy levels, making you feel fatigued. You will not have the necessary fuel to energize your workouts and function effectively on a day-to-day basis.

In reality, complex carbohydrates, like whole grains actually support healthy weight loss because they contain high amounts of fiber that keeps you full longer and prevents sugar spikes in the blood that keeps out of control cravings at bay.

The same misconception goes for fat. Many fad diets attempt to turn fat into a mortal enemy when in reality, not all fats are bad. In fact, certain types of fats such as omega-3 are necessary for optimum health and monosaturated fats are required for brain and heart health.

  1. Muscle Wasting and Hair Loss

Fad diets can lead to hair and muscle loss because they are nutrient deficient. For one, protein is a nutrient that you need if you want your hair to be and grow healthy. Not having enough may cause hair fall and brittleness.

Muscle loss is another common problem. Because of the caloric deficits associated with fad diets, the body naturally turns to other means to get that required energy, and as a result, muscle wasting occurs. You do not want to lose your muscle if you are planning to lose weight because having more muscle mass can help you burn more calories by boosting metabolism even when the body is at rest.

  1. They Ruin Your Body’s Natural Metabolism

Fad diets often dictate you how much to eat and when to eat, which goes against your body’s natural eating pattern. Our bodies are aware when we need to eat and when we have had enough. While fad diets may give you temporary results, there are long-term implications that can affect your health permanently.

Mindfulness is a technique taught in meditation and yoga and can help you to get in touch with your body and real hunger, and this is a much more effective and healthy way to lose weight.

  1. They Often Lack The Element of Exercise

Most fad diets are too focused on the food intake itself and neglect the importance of exercise. Since they often advise the intake of very low amounts of calories, exercise is often not recommended, if not restricted. This can be detrimental to your overall health.

  1. They Are Not Sustainable

Fad diets are just that – fads. They are not meant to last on a permanent basis. These types of diets promote rapid weight loss in an unreasonable amount of time, rather than a healthy lifestyle that is sustainable for the long term. They never address lifestyle changes, such as choosing an apple for dessert over apple pie and changing your taste accordingly.

Many people can attest that they have lost over 100 pounds over a lifetime in 10-pound spurts. Lose it, and gain it back, lose it, and gain it back, repeatedly in a vicious yo-yo cycle. Usually at the center of this merry-go-round is a fad diet turning the wheel.

How To Spot A Fad Diet

  • Quick fix promises
  • Involvement of “magic foods” or special food combinations
  • Exclusion of a particular food group, for example, carbohydrates
  • Unproven claims that are based on limited scientific study
  • The suggestion that certain food combinations can alter one’s body chemistry

A Better Way

Instead of going for fad diets, the best way to lose weight is a gradual transition to a healthy lifestyle. By combining regular exercise with a healthy balanced diet, you are sure to achieve your weight goals and be able to keep it off for the long term.

Small Changes

Start by making small changes with the foods you choose. Replace three desserts a week with a piece of fresh fruit. Substitute French fries with a side salad or steamed vegetables at lunch two times per week. Then increase it to three times, and so on.

Assess your kitchen and begin to gradually remove all unhealthy snacks and foods from the fridge and cupboard. If you don’t know what is healthy and what isn’t, find out. Replace all that you have removed with better choices.

Exercise

Begin an exercise regimen by taking a two block walk every day, then keep adding a block every two or three days, you cannot imagine how fast you become acclimated and fit and with gradual increases, you will be walking a mile before you know it, without even noticing how you got there!

Do some type of strength training is it with weights or bodyweight exercises three times per week. Building lean muscle mass will boost your metabolism and make you stronger and healthier, which will improve your overall quality of life.

It Works!

It is not difficult to implement small changes that together make a big difference in your weight, health and how you feel. The best part is that you will NEVER have to go on another diet, fad or otherwise again.

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5 Fresh Ideas To Boost The Effectiveness Of Your Workouts

5 Fresh Ideas To Boost The Effectiveness Of Your Workouts

You’ve been exercising for a few weeks, and have seen great results, but lately the workouts have lost their pizzazz. You are not losing as much weight as you did when you first started, you have lost your motivation, and really, you are just plain bored.

Don’t worry, you are not alone, this can and does happen to many. This can occur as the body becomes too acclimated the same old routines, and the body hits a plateau.

Boredom is common when you keep doing the same workouts day in and day out, and just as your body becomes acclimated to the same workouts, so does your brain.

 

Check out these 5 great ideas for improving the effectiveness of your workout.

 

  1. Switch Up Your Exercise Routine

Who enjoys spending an hour running on a treadmill or sweating on an elliptical for their entire workout session, 5 times a week? While a good cardio session can indeed burn off calories and gets your heart working to help burn fat and improve your overall health, there’s no reason why your workout should seem like such a chore.

Changing the way that you work out will not only help you to keep interested in your work out regime, it will also keep the body guessing so it does not get used to the same old same and will also allow you to target other areas of your body.

Do sets of bodyweight exercises such as burpees, lunges and crunches to not only burn energy but also work on toning up those muscles. Skip the weight machines, and add some free weights. Instead of the treadmill, join different exercise classes.

 

  1. Do Intervals

Interval workouts are the most effective methods of burning calories. The next time you are on the treadmill, running, cycling or even using a cross trainer, try using intervals.

These are done by maintaining a constant and steady pace, but every few minutes, up your speed to the fastest that you can manage before returning to the steady pace again after a few more minutes.

The way this works is that your heart is constantly being driven to work hard and then starts to relax again and this constant change of heart pace means that you get a more effective workout.

 

  1.  Choose Your Workout Buddy Wisely

When you’re working out, it really helps to have someone to help you keep to your goals. Make sure that you choose your workout buddy wisely. If your workout partner can’t keep up with you, you may find it difficult to fit in the pace of workout that you need.

Try to choose a workout buddy who is either at the same or slightly higher level of fitness so that you can keep up, go further and stay motivated. This will ensure that the time you spend working out with a friend is as effective as possible.

 

  1. Hire A Personal Trainer

While this one may seem like common sense to some, it’s surprising how many people think that they can just launch themselves into a workout routine and hope for the best.

If you know nothing about fitness or nutrition, you’re not likely to get very far when it comes to working out. By hiring your own personal trainer, you’ll receive tailored assistance with your workout routine and that trainer will help you grow your workout as your fitness level grows.

Not only will they be able to tell you what will help you burn off the weight or achieve your target goals, but you will also be able to get some nutritional advice. Your diet is very important when it comes to implementing changes to your body image and this is as specific to each individual as a workout routine.

 

  1. Get Moving On Your Break At Work

OK, when you’re at work, working out may not be the thing that you have on your mind, but it is important that you keep moving throughout the day. If you have an office job where you find yourself sitting at a desk all day, try incorporating some bursts of exercise into your breaks.

You could go for a brisk walk around the block, or simply take a jump rope to work and do some skipping for 10 minutes. If possible, get a standing desk; these are awesome new products that allow you to quickly convert your workspace to a standing area where you can work on your feet.

The more you can keep moving throughout the day, the more calories you’ll be able to burn.

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