Your Shape Effects Your Health

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Did you know that you could predict your own health future just by looking in the mirror? Well, you can. All you have to do it determine how your body is storing fat.

There are two standard body types. The apple body shape is larger around the midsection with thinner limbs. The pear body shape has a defined waist and heavier bottom, things and legs. Other shapes are just variations of one of these two body types.

Still not sure which shape you resemble the most?

There is a simple equation that can give you an immediate answer. Measure your waist; then measure your hips. Divide the number of the inches in your waist by the number of inches in your hips. If the number is less than .80 you are a pear and if it is greater than you are an apple.

So, What does this mean?

For an apple, it means greater risk for heart disease; type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, stress and irregular menstrual cycles. For pear-shaped women it means a greater risk of osteoporosis, varicose veins, low self-esteem, and issues with body image, eating disorders and menopausal symptoms.

Which Body Shape is Healthier?

In terms of disease, apples are at greater risk. It isn't healthy to carry fat around the middle. Generally, the closer the fat is stored near the heart, the more dangerous it is for long-term health. Pears aren't completely out of the woods though. They can become apples later in life if they don't control their weight.

How to Improve Your Health

Weather you are an apple or a pear shape, the best way to stay healthy is to maintain a healthy weight for your body. There may be areas you can't change. If you are a pear, for example, your thighs might always be larger in comparison to your waistline. But it is important to do the best you can with the body shape you have. Obviously, not everyone was made to have the perfect hourglass figure.

There are different strategies on how each shape can lose weight and work towards a healthy weight though. An apple-shaped woman should eat foods that will protect her from heart disease. Eating high quality carbs with a moderate amount of fat and protein will help with weight loss and long-term health. The pear-shaped woman should eat foods that strengthen her bones to prevent osteoporosis and follow a low-fat diet.

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2017 Weight Loss Challenges

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weight loss challenges
Studies show that people who try to lose weight on their own do not have a high success rate. Having support or a weight loss buddy is helpful for dieters to stay on track, lose weight and keep it off. That's the idea behind many weight loss challenges.

There are some popular 2017 weight loss challenges you can participate in that will provide motivation and support for your diet. These weight loss programs prove that you don't have to spend money to lose pounds and keep them off. You can find online tools and inspiration, as well as people just like you who are struggling to lose weight.

2017 Weight Loss Challenges:

Body for Life 12 Week Challenge
Body for Life offers a 12-week program that is a life changing challenge. It's a formal challenge that you must enter, although there is no entry fee. You could actually win big money by participating in the body for life challenge. You have to fill out a form and present before and after pictures exactly as the program states. There are four sessions available in 2017.
  • February 11 - May 4
  • April 7 - July 7
  • June 30 - September 22
  • September 3 - November 26

Body for Life for Women
Oprah and Bob’s Best Life Challenge
Oprah, along with her trainer Bob Greene, is challenging viewers to make a commitment to lose weight in 2017. You must go to the website, sign a contract and learn new skills for the best life diet plan. Once you sign up, you'll gain access to articles and menu plans to help you along the way.
Bally's National Body Challenge
Once again, Bally's is sponsoring an annual National Body Challenge that offers free comprehensive fitness tools and inspiration. The eight week Bally's membership is included with your registration. It kicks off January 5 - 6 at malls across the country. The challenge is led by Discovery Health experts. You can register for free online to get online support and weight and fitness trackers.

The Presidential Challenge
The Presidential Challenge is an ongoing weight loss program aimed at keeping you motivated to shed pounds. The site allows you to earn awards, log activity and order presidential challenge stickers, shirts, awards and more.

The Right Weight Loss Challenge for You

Finding a weight loss challenge that will work best for you will depend on your specific needs.
  • How much support do you need from an online program?
  • Do you need face-to-face support for accountability?
  • What inspires you to lose weight?
  • Are you motivated by a diet cash prize to lose weight?
  • Do small prizes and awards motivate you to reach your goals?
  • Do you have daily access to a computer to log your food and exercise?
Answering these questions will help you figure out your diet needs. Learn more about these what weight loss challenges by going to their specific websites to hear success stories, read expert advice and connect with other dieters like yourself. Weight loss challenges are a great way to find online support and motivation.

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Three Plyo Moves to Increase Calories Burned

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Plyometrics, often called "jump training," is a great way to increase calories burned during any workout routine. Add these three moves to your regular workout routine and you'll not only see improvement in the tone and look of your leg muscles, but you'll also burn serious calories during and after your workout.

It's important to note that these exercises are difficult to do in good form even for advanced exercisers, so use caution when attempting them and don't attempt them if you suffer from knee problems.
  1. jump squats: A regular squat is when one leg is placed in front at a right angle bent from the hip, and the knee is maintained behind the toes. You then squeeze and stretch the back leg behind you down as far as possible. For a jump squat, the same form applies, but then you switch positions of the legs by jumping up and landing in the correct squat position for the opposite leg. These are tough, but just doing 10 to 20 repetitions once or twice at different intervals during your workout will help you see results in both higher calories burned and stronger legs.
  2. Sumo jump squats: Stand in the sumo squat position by bending legs outward from the hip and pointing toes out, bending as low as possible so that legs are at a right angle. Then holding your hands together in front of you and keeping your back straight, jump up lightly and land in the same position on the balls of your feet. This is another tough move, but doing 20 to 30 of these at least once during a workout will raise your heart rate and continue building your leg strength.
  3. mountain climbers: Get into plank position and bring in one leg and then the other as if you're running, except with your hands on the floor. Do these for at least one or two minutes and you'll be pouring so much sweat that returning to your regular routine will seem like a nice reprieve.

Beginner Exercises to Burn More Calories

If you're just starting a workout routine, you can add common jumping exercises like jumping jacks or jumping rope (you don't need a rope...just jump up and down in rhythm) that are not as high impact as the plyometric moves above. Better yet, add both types of jumps during different intervals to quickly raise your heart rate into calorie-burning mode.

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Three Big Diet Mistakes That Derail Weight Loss

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big diet mistakes
Time and time again, folks seem to be looking for that magic pill when it comes to successfully losing weight. It seems that there are no limit to the number of marketing and advertising people that are willing to make that dream of losing weight come true. Or so it would seem anyway.

The truth is, like most things that are worth attaining in life, weight loss is going to actually take some hard work, willpower, and planning. So a person needs to be accountable to get all the right information and use that information in determining the best way to lose weight. Here are three things that can wreck even the best weight loss plan.

Weight Loss Mistake – Not Enough Water

Perhaps one of the easiest diet mistakes to fix is making certain that enough water is consumed, especially for those on a diet or weight loss plan. The simple fact is that if a person gets dehydrated, the metabolism can slow down. The metabolism is that calorie burning engine inside the body that is the key to weight loss.

Everyone has heard the research about drinking at least eight or more glasses of water each and every day for optimum health, and for the best weight loss results. Those same studies showed that those who drink eight or more glasses of water each day burn more calories than those who don't. Don't make this mistake. Add more water every day.

Cheese, Milk, and Ice Cream Help Weight Loss

What? Yes, it's true. There is actually some research out there that suggests that calorie-burning engine inside the body, the metabolism, actually burns more fat when it gets a sufficient amount of calcium. What's more, the metabolism may even produce more fat when it is deprived of calcium rich foods like milk, cheese, and ice cream.

Don't depend on calcium supplements to make up the difference because studies also show they don't provide the same benefits as eating the real stuff. So, don't take these calcium-rich foods out of the diet. But don't go overboard, either. Be sensible and stick to low-fat or non-fat varieties of milk, cheese, and yogurt. Ice cream is high in sugar as well, so try a no-fat or low-fat version.

Step Off the Scale as Part of a Successful Weight Loss Plan

How many times does a person need to walk into the daily judgmental courtroom of the bathroom scale? Weight loss is a long term plan and will take more than one day to accomplish. Weighing each and every day is just going to lead to frustration, and there's enough of that in life already.

Here's a better idea. Get a notebook and keep a record of weekly weight loss. Just step onto the scale once a week rather than every day. After a few weekly weigh-ins, take a look at the overall trend of weight lost, and be amazed. There is nothing like the encouraging downward sloping of a line on a weight loss chart.

Weight loss is not rocket science. It's not hard to figure out. So stop listening to all the hucksters out there touting the latest and greatest weight loss success program or diet. Weight loss is about changing the way food is perceived, getting educated about food, getting some exercise, and doing whatever it takes to maintain a healthy weight. Imagine what that's going to feel like and get started losing weight today.

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Simple Three Step Plan for Getting Six Pack Abs

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six pack abs
One reason not many people sport a six pack is they over-complicate the process. A flat stomach isn't about how many crunches you do, or how many hours you spend on the treadmill. In fact, you can skip the crunches, and if you want, even the treadmill. Here is a simple, three step plan for that toned stomach. After you know the plan, keep reading to discover the major pitfalls to avoid if you want to be successful.

Here is the three step plan:
  • strength train
  • perform intense, interval-style cardio
  • eat right
That's it. Simple, right? Nobody said it was easy, just simple. In fact, it's not easy to get lean enough to show off your ab muscles. It takes a lot of sweat, effort, and commitment. But it is simple.

So where do men and women go wrong in their journey? How come so few reach this elusive goal?
Here are the most common deterrents on the road to a ripped stomach.

Strength Train

A lot of readers will interpret that to mean "do a lot of crunches and other ab exercises." This is a huge waste of your time and energy. Ab exercises are good for strengthening the midsection and have a place in a well-rounded exercise program. However, regarding the goal of showing off your washboard abs, you can skip the crunches. Instead, you need to be doing a full-body workout at least two times per week that includes compound strength exercises for each of the major muscles. These exercises include squats, rows, and presses. If having a flat stomach were as simple as doing 1000 crunches per day, almost everyone would already have a six pack.

Perform Intense, Interval-style Cardio

Low intensity, long duration cardio is great if you are training for a marathon. But if you want to get lean enough to show off your abs, you should be doing interval-style cardio, up to five times per week. This is where you alternate a low intensity activity with a high intensity activity for about 20-30 minutes. The length of the intervals can vary, but 60 seconds low/30 seconds high is common. For example, you could sprint for 30 seconds, then jog for 60 seconds. Other exercises and activities that can be used for intervals are burpees, jump roping, hill sprints, and plyometric exercises just to mention a few. If you can continue for more than 20-30 minutes, your intervals aren't intense enough!

Eat Right

This section could be a book by itself, but one of the most common mistakes is being too strict. At the beginning of a program, you are excited and motivated to do everything right. So you cut out all processed sugar, fried foods, alcohol, and sweets. The problem is you deprive yourself too much and within a week, you are craving these foods like crazy. So one day you give in and have a couple cookies and the guilt about kills you. You figure there is no way you can ever do this so you drop the entire program. A much better plan is to allow yourself one cheat meal per week. At this meal you can enjoy your favorite foods with no guilt. This will satisfy your cravings and it will not hamper your progress.

That's it. Follow these three simple steps and you too can sport a washboard stomach on the beach. But start early because this process takes time. How much time is dependent on how lean you are when you start, but for a person of average body fat, you still need at least three months.
Not easy. But simple.

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A Food Journal is Key to Weight Loss Success

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food journal
It’s a common phrase among people who start writing down what they eat: “No wonder I’m not losing weight.”

They discover they may not be eating enough. They discover they may be eating too much. They discover they are just eating the wrong things.
How do you stack up? Do you know if you are eating the right amounts and types? Knowledge is power, and in this case it’s a simple fix: start keeping a food journal.

It may seem boring and it may feel tedious, but keeping a record of what you eat can make the difference between weight loss failure or success.
A study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that keeping a food log can actually double a person’s weight loss. Similarly the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks over 5,000 individuals who have lost large amounts of weight and maintained that weight loss, found that a large number of successful study participants tracked what they ate.

Writing down what you eat puts your food habits in perspective. A cookie here and there, your child’s leftovers, the four breadsticks with dinner…they all add up, and shockingly fast. Oftentimes people do not know how many calories they are actually consuming, especially among those who dine out frequently. Restaurant portions are often much larger than recommended sizes, and are laden with richer, higher calorie foods.
Food journals can record all that and help you make better choices. Many web sites offer nutritional information for popular restaurants and fast food establishments. Web-based journals (both free and “for fee”) also store much of that information in their databases, which can be easily plugged into your daily records.

Depending on your needs and style, your journal can be a few simple notes or highly detailed. Calories and fat are usually recorded, but what about carbohydrates and fiber? Do you have high blood pressure and need to track your sodium intake? Are you a vegetarian and need to ensure you are consuming enough protein? What about fruits, vegetables and water?

Keeping track of your emotions is also an effective way to identify triggers that cause you to overeat or make unhealthy choices. If you ate three pieces of cake, ask yourself why and write it down. How did you feel before? Were you tired, bored or angry? How did you feel after, both physically and emotionally?

Kristin West, Certified Nutritionist/Post Rehabilitation Specialist and founder of ACHIEVE Weight Loss and Wellness in Temecula, California, uses food and exercise journals with her clients. “Many of us are traveling on a dangerous road to disease and pain. You will never realize it until you start journaling what you are eating. That is the only way you can look back on the path to see just how destructive it really is.”

There are many methods of keeping track of your food consumption. Whether you write your entries down in a notebook, purchase a bound food journal, or use one of the online journaling web sites, the options are as varied as individual personalities. The method of recordkeeping that works is the one that works for you. You may have to try different styles until you find a match.

People are often surprised with the results their journals show and it becomes more clear why weight loss has been slow or stagnant. Record what you eat, if even for a short time, until you have a better picture of what you actually consume. It may not be pretty, but pictures don’t lie.

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Abdominal Obesity and Health Risks

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abdominal obesity
It is common knowledge that excess body fat has a negative affect on health. But while the emphasis has long been on the Body Mass Index to measure health-harming excess weight, the growing trend is to use waist measurements and waist-to-hip ratios as indicators for health issues such as metabolic syndrome and heart disease.

A belly full of health problems

Abdominal fat is a proven risk factor for many chronic conditions. In the December 2007 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, a study found that abdominal obesity is a better indicator of heart disease than weight or waist measurements alone.

Excess belly fat almost doubles a woman's chances of developing gallstones, as shown by a two-year study of more than 42,000 women in the United States published in the journal Gut in February 2006.

Other findings published on August 21 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed that people with higher waist-to-hip ratios have more atherosclerotic plaque than those with smaller waist-to-hip ratios.

A man’s waist size is also a better predictor of his risk of developing type 2 diabetes than BMI or a waist-to-hip ratio alone, according to 2005 data from the Harvard Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.

Researchers from the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, Canada also discovered in 2007 that large waist-to-hip ratios are associated with impaired breathing in the morbidly obese due to the large fat mass surrounding the abdomen.

Underlying causes

Although research is inconclusive about the exact causes of abdominal fat, many theories have been developed.

Genes could influence how much abdominal fat postmenopausal women accumulate and where according to a 2001 study by researchers at the Mayo Clinic.

Abdominal fat also seems to go hand in hand with stress, as shown by a Yale University study published in Psychosomatic Medicine in the fall of 2004, which reported that the stress hormone cortisol has an exaggerated effect on women with excess belly fat but who were otherwise lean.

Another substance in the body that is linked with abdominal fat, according to findings in 2001 by researchers at the Quebec Heart Institute, is C-reactive protein, a protein involved in the inflammation response.

It is inconclusive as to whether alcohol increases abdominal fat. While some scientists think that increased cortisol levels after alcohol consumption are to blame, others point to alcohol’s suppression of the body’s fat-burning ability.

Alternative medicine theories, on the other hand, link belly fat to accumulated undigested waste in the colon or impaired liver function due to excess toxins.

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