Women, Hormonal Changes and Exercise

Enhance your mood with exercise.

If your hormonal cycle is making you feel like you want to avoid exercise and just eat cookies instead, let me share with you how exercise may actually help you to feel better.

As women, we go through so many hormonal changes in our lifetime. As a woman who has experienced the ups and downs of hormonal changes, I have learned that staying positive and living a healthy, active lifestyle can help me to cope with the rollercoaster ride that is being a woman.

Related Article: How to look and feel younger – tips to help you age with style

The benefits of being physically active go far beyond the physical. Exercising releases endorphins that make you feel good. It also causes you to sweat and improve circulation, which gives your skin a youthful postexercise glow. Although we can’t stop the aging process, building lean muscle mass helps to counteract nature’s plan, allowing you to feel strong and toned as you age. With all of these benefits, why is it that so many women just can’t seem to get motivated to exercise?

I believe it’s because the hormonal shift and lack of energy that comes with the female monthly cycle. It’s very real and we all experience it in different ways. The bloating and general irritable mood, however, seem to be pretty standard for all of us.

My dedication to following a regular exercise routine has been my saving grace. It has helped me to boost my mood, reduce water retention and increase my energy levels. Whether you’re pre-menstrual, dealing with the postpregnancy hormone shift, are premenopausal or in full-blown menopause, make an effort to commit yourself to being active.

Here are some practical tips to help keep you away from the cookie jar and up off the couch.

Consistency is key.

As your body is going through changes, having a set time of day that you focus on yourself is important. Aim to be active for at least 30 minutes doing something that you enjoy. Exercising at the same time each day helps to create a sense of routine, which can mentally give you a boost and make you feel accomplished. Having control of something during a time when physical changes seem so out of your control is essential.

Don’t underestimate the power of walking.

Walking is a fantastic form of cardiovascular exercise for people of all ages. You can add in a challenge by walking up hill or perform some lunges along the way to strengthen your legs. When you are suffering from hot flashes, performing high-intensity workouts may make you feel worse so a low-intensity routine is best. When you have cramps, the last thing you need is to make yourself feel worse, so listen to your body and do only what feels right.

Meet up with a friend.

Consider exercising with a friend, or treat yourself to a personal training session or fitness class each month. As women, we naturally feel better when we have a support system around us. The added sense of accountability that comes from meeting someone for a workout will help you to keep focused.

Keep healthy snacks handy.

I know that you may want to eat a pint of ice cream, indulge in potato chips or worse, visit a fast food restaurant to help improve your mood. However, chances are you will feel way worse afterward and gain excess weight in the process. Eating and binging during your cycle is something that so many women do, and it sometimes feels unavoidable. The professional in me wants to tell you to avoid all unhealthy calorie options and eat only nutrient-dense snacks, but the real woman in me says try to find a balance. I personally try to fill up on healthy fruits, veggies and protein. I also ensure I am well hydrated. Only then, if I am really craving a sweet or salty treat, do I indulge. At that point chances are I will only need a small amount to feel satisfied and won’t totally overdo it.

I have been through a lot, from difficult and unpredictable cycles, infertility struggles, pregnancy, post-pregnancy hormones, and a major surgery that has caused my hormones to be out of sync. But, my stable and consistent approach toward nutrition and exercise has allowed me to keep my body composition and my sanity intact. I hope that you find a way to navigate your way through life’s changes in a healthy and active way.

Regardless of what challenges you are going through in your life, fitness, focus and friendship can pretty much get you through it all, so stay active and help others stay active, too.

Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Senior Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.

Find out more at: http://www.DiscoverHerbalife.com

6 Steps to Get Fit Now

Write down three specific fitness goals.

Sometime it just takes the correct approach to achieve your fitness goals. Here are six steps to help you make your workout plan more effective.

The New Year is a great time to evaluate your goals, set new ones or recommit to old ones. If you’re reading this and know that your old habits are hard to break, then it’s time to take a new approach and spruce up your workout routine. A fitness makeover could be just the thing you need to get motivated and excited about getting fit. Some changes may be simple and subtle, but when it comes to getting fitter and healthier, even the small changes can make a big difference. Make this New Year when you establish new, healthy habits that’ll lead to positive results.

6 Steps to Get Fit Now

Write it down

Ask yourself what three specific goals you want to achieve this coming year and write them down. Make sure that you have a way to monitor your progress, such as weighing yourself or taking measurements.
The more specific your goal is, the better. If you’re new to activity, start small. Be practical and realistic about your activity goals. Whatever your goals are, write them down. So many people have told me that they’ve been able to reach their fitness goals when they have specific goals and track their journeys. Write down what your goal means to you. Does it mean feeling energized, looking better or reaching a certain number of activity minutes? The more opportunities you create to measure and log your success throughout the year, the better the chances of you making a lasting lifestyle change.

Forget about yesterday

It’s time to let go of any failed diet and fitness plans of the past and get your mind engaged with the present. Now that you’ve written down your goals, move forward with them. It’s time to focus solely on today and let the past be in the past. Once you can make a commitment to being present in today’s choices, you’ll step toward success more smoothly. When you wake up each morning, think that today is the only day that counts (even if you severely derailed your diet the night before). No more promises of tomorrow. Accomplish what matters to you most TODAY.

Mix up your workout time

If you always workout in the morning, try to add in at least one afternoon workout session per week, or vice-versa. If you never do a morning workout, try to add one into your schedule. Sometimes your body needs to be pushed out of its usual routine. You may even find that a particular time works better for you than what you originally thought. We are each individuals and our bodies perform better at different times of the day. Experiment and try to find the time of day that you feel most awake and energized, and make that your go-to workout time. You may find that you push yourself more, burn more calories and get more benefit out of your exercise routine.

Increase your intensity

Who says you need to spend hours in the gym to reach your fitness goals? Keep your workouts short and sweet––or more accurately, short and sweaty! On at least two days of the week, perform an interval style workout that pushes you to get out of breath. When your intensity level is high, your sessions can be kept as short as 15-30 minutes in length. This is perfect for those with a busy schedule who always come up with the same excuse of not having enough time to exercise.

Add weights

Short, effective workouts should be your new approach to fitness, especially if you lead a busy lifestyle. Building lean muscle mass should be an essential part of any weight loss or weight gain program. If you currently use weights in your fitness routines, try to increase them. If you’re just getting started, be sure you are using a comfortable weight that allows you to maintain good form. Don’t be afraid of bulking up from lifting heavy weights. In my opinion, lifting very light weights that don’t feel challenging for many reps is a waste of time.

Have fun with fitness

Creating good habits and setting a solid routine is essential, especially when you are first starting out with a new exercise plan, but it doesn’t have to be predictable and boring. When you get stuck in the same old routine, you often mentally tune out and become less productive with the task at hand. This year, try to keep your body guessing by trying new activities, changing your workout style, having fun with a new exercise partner or by adding in a weekly fun fitness challenge. The more fun and exciting you make your exercise time, the more you’ll look forward to it and stick with it. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring to be effective.

Find out more at: http://www.DiscoverHerbalife.com

Five Workout Secrets for a Perfect Body

A good diet with a steady workout plan is the key.

With New Year’s right around the corner, many of you have ‘get fit’ or ‘achieve my perfect body’ on your resolution list. I’m going to share my top five secrets to getting that perfect body.

I’ve told you many times that it’s impossible to out-train a bad diet. The fact that your diet is a crucial piece of the puzzle, when it comes to achieving your perfect body, can’t be denied. There are many personal trainers, pieces of equipment and infomercials that may promise you that you can torch away thousands of calories in one simple workout.

Don’t believe the hype. There are two sides to every equation, and in this case the perfect body equation involves a good diet and a good exercise routine.

Two-sided approach

For years, people focused on diet alone to help with weight loss. It was a common topic in the media, but science proves that there are many benefits you can get from being active. Being active on a regular basis can help to improve your physical wellness, slow down the aging process, improve your mood and boost your self-esteem just to name a few. It can also help you better master your nutritional needs, so that you can keep your body in balance long term. You’ll start noticing that when you exercise you’ll crave nutritious foods. When you eat better, you’ll have more energy for exercise.

What is a perfect body?

A perfect body in my mind isn’t all about looks. It’s one that’s healthy and ready to perform the tasks that you need it to, so that you can live a happy and fulfilling life. My definition of perfect is very personal and ever evolving. There’s no set standard of what a perfect body is—despite what the media says. Your perfect body equation could be striving for feeling energized and well, looking fit or performing your best, or some combination of all three. Whatever your definition is, you need to have a 100% good attitude so you can succeed.

5 P’s to a perfect body

Use my Five P’s to get your perfect body and to help you get started and stay in control of your own body perfection equation.

Provide

Provide your body with what it needs. The aim of your daily nutrition intake is to give your body the fuel it needs to perform the essential functions of daily life. Your body also needs nutrients to recover, replenish and re-build itself, especially after a hard workout.

Be Present

Today is what’s important because tomorrow isn’t a promise. We’re all guilty of saying ‘I’ll start tomorrow,’ but what is wrong with today? Start today and be present in the choices you make. The smallest changes can lead to significant results, but you have to start in order to elicit change.

Persistence

Getting fit and feeling healthy should never just be a short-term goal. Yes, you may be motivated by an upcoming event to whip yourself into shape. But to get good results and maintain healthy habits, you must be persistent and committed long-term. Persistence pays off when it comes to establishing new healthy lifestyle habits.

Be Productive

Make the most of your time and make every second count. Don’t watch TV or read a magazine while you’re on the treadmill. Instead, work hard and keep your intensity high, especially if you only have a short amount of time available for exercise. Mix up your routine, keep it simple and be as practical as possible. Set yourself up for success by making your daily activity goals achievable.

Patience

The best gift you can give yourself is the gift of patience. In order for your body to change, you must give it time to adapt to your new and improved healthy lifestyle habits. Repetition and time is what it takes to form good habits that’ll last. The best approach is to take it one day at a time.

I’ll admit it, I’m exhausted by the letter P now! This post was inspired by a perfect stranger I came across at an airport who asked me for my definition of a perfect body. What prompted her to ask? It may have been my slightly out-of-place stretching routine after getting off a 15-hour flight, or maybe it was the wall sits I was doing whilst waiting for my next flight. I’m happy to say that she left my side with more than a quick answer. She left knowing that we all deserve to be perfectly healthy, and achieving it is simpler than she thought.

Find out more at: http://www.DiscoverHerbalife.com

Booty challenge: Best butt exercises for toning your backside

Booty challenge: Best butt exercises for toning your backsideDo you want to tighten and tone your butt? Try my favorite butt exercises in a 4-week challenge for a toned and defined rear!

There’s been a lot of focus in the media in the past few years on the glutes. It’s no surprise that people are always looking for a better and more effective booty blasting routine to try. I’m not a huge fan of people working out purely for the aesthetic benefits that come as a result of exercise, because I believe in the power of working out on a regular basis as a lifestyle change. But in reality, many people want their body to look a certain way and a toned booty is usually at the top of the perfect body wish list!

I’m fine with whatever your personal reasons for exercising are, because that means you’re at least getting active! If you’re squatting and moving just to firm your booty, there’s a pretty good chance that that you’re burning calories, losing unwanted body fat, trimming your waist and improving your muscle tone. If that’s not enough to get you up and going, know that every time you push yourself to get out of breath, you naturally improve your body’s ability to transport oxygen rich blood to your muscles.

The glutes are one of the largest muscle groups in your body. It requires a lot of energy to work them, so you can maximize your overall workout calorie burn with a glutes focused routine a few times a week. A toned butt can help give you the visual illusion of having a smaller waist. Over time you’ll tone and define your rear. You may even have to invest in a new pair of jeans as a result of doing my booty challenge!

These are my favorite booty toning exercises:

Deadlift

The deadlift is an excellent exercise for your hamstrings (back of your legs), butt and your lower back. Because this move involves a forward leaning stance, good form is essential to keep your body safe and to get the maximum benefits from this exercise.

How to do it: Start by standing with your feet hip width apart and place your hands on your thighs. Keeping your back flat with a neutral spine, engage your core muscles and push your hips back as you lower your torso. Let your hands slide down to your shins (or as far as you can go while keeping a flat back). With your body weight in your heels, begin to rise back up squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement.

Next step: Master this movement without weights and then do it with dumbbells or a weighted bar ensuring that you keep the weights close to your thighs. Don’t hyper extend your back. You can have a very slight bend in the knees as you go through this movement.

Tip: Have a trainer talk you through it at the gym, watch it in one of my YouTube videos or observe yourself doing it the mirror. Mastering this move takes a little bit of practice, but once you get it it’s a perfect butt and leg toning exercise.

Glute bridge

I like this move because it really works your core muscles, easy to do and requires no equipment.

How to do it: Start out by lying flat on the floor. Bend one knee at a time and place your feet flat on the floor. Your heels should be about 12 inches away from your glutes, hip distance apart. Get comfortable in this position. The aim is to lift your hips up off the floor into a bridge position. To do this, you push through your heels to lift your butt off the floor. At the top of the movement, pause and squeeze your glutes, then gently lower back down.

Tip: Don’t push up too high, as this will stress your lower back. Make sure your body weight is distributed through your heels and upper back. At no time should you feel like your body weight is on your neck.

Squat

A squat is a simple and classic exercise. It’s a move that we all do everyday when we go to sit down in a chair! It’s a useful and functional move.

How to do it: Stand up tall with your feet hip width apart. You can have your hands on your hips or straight out in front of you. Bend your knees, keeping your body weight in your heels as if you are going to sit in a chair. As you reach sitting position (90 degrees) come back to standing.

Extra tip: You can squat slightly lower than 90 if your range of motion allows. Add weights once you can master a perfect functional body weight squat.

4-Week Booty Challenge

Build these moves into your current workout routine for one month.

Week 1:  

Number of days: 2 days

Structure: Perform 8-12 repetitions of each exercise focusing on your form, slow and steady movements.

How much: Do 3 sets total

Week 2:

Number of days: 2 days

Structure: Do all 3 exercises as an interval circuit. Do 45 seconds of each move followed by 15 seconds of rest. Complete all of exercise number 1, take a 60 second recovery then move onto exercise 2.

How much: 4 sets total

Week 3:

Number of days: 2 days as a10-minute challenge.

Structure: Do 10 reps of each move. All 3 exercises = one set.

How much: How many sets can you do in 10-minutes.

Week 4:

Number of days: 3 days

Structure: Do the same structure of routine I listed for weeks 1, 2 and 3, once each time. Ensure that you do don’t work your glutes three days in a row. The best approach to allow for recovery is Monday-Wednesday-Saturday.

***

Have fun adding some butt exercises into your workout. If you’re new to exercise, do these moves without weights until you’re ready to use them. If you’re an avid exerciser, take it up a notch by alternating in some jumping squats (don’t jump with weights!). Listen to your body; push yourself enough to feel it, but not too much that you get hurt.

In the same way that 6-pack abs are made in the kitchen, so are perfect buns. You must complement your workouts with good nutrition if you want to see real results. In order to build muscle, you must provide your body with all of the essential nutrition it needs to replenish and repair itself. If you wish to lose weight, you must make sensible dietary choices and stick to the correct portion sizes at mealtime.

It may sound like a lot of hard work, “butt “ if you ask me, it’s totally worth it!

Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife

Find out more at: http://www.DiscoverHerbalife.com

Burn Steam and KO Stress: Box Your Way to Fitness

Mix it up and get fit.

Had a rough day? This 20-minute boxing workout will help you burn calories, steam and stress.

The benefits of boxing are numerous: it can give you conditioned muscles, a lean physique and in general, a strong body that’s athletic enough to move freely. It can also help you to clear your head and reduce stress. Here’s a practical, minimal-equipment, boxing workout I’ve developed that you can do at home, with weights, leaving you no excuse not to stick with it:

3 Punch Boxing Blast

Equipment:
    • Dumbbells. If you don’t have them, use water bottles. If you don’t have water bottles, you can still do this boxing workout using your body-weight. (No excuses!)
    • Jump rope. If you don’t have one, just pretend that you do and jump without it.
Warm-up

Stretch for five minutes. Focus on your neck and shoulder muscles. Rotate your ankles and prepare your leg muscles with simple dynamic stretches.
Relaxed jump rope for three minutes to get your heart rate up.

Boxing Workout Method

Punch 1: Jab

A jab is a punch that goes straight forward.

    • Place your left foot in front of your right and angle your right foot out as if pointing it toward an opponent.
    • Put your hands up by your chin, tuck your elbows in, keep your chin down and make sure your hips are above your feet. Whichever foot is forward is the hand you’ll jab with.
    • Keep an athletic stance with a slight bend in your knees and bring up your back heel just a bit. Bounce around and get comfortable in the stance. Make sure your feet are around shoulder-width apart and your front foot is pointing mostly forward and your back foot is pointing mostly out.
Punch 2: Cross

The cross is a punch where you punch across your body. You must transfer your weight from your rear foot to your lead foot. Do this by pivoting your rear foot, rotating your body, bending your knees and leaning forward very slightly. All of this is done at the exact same time as the cross is thrown.

    • Stand in a jab stance. As you punch, rotate your body counter-clockwise (if your left foot is forward), or clockwise (if your right foot is forward).
    • Pivot your rear foot at the same time that you’re throwing the cross. You should end up with your heel upward and toes on the ground, facing in the same direction as where your cross is heading.
    • Rotate your fist just before you reach the end of the punch so that the palm of your hand is facing downwards towards the floor.
    • Sit down on your punch as you throw the punch. Bending at your knees will allow you to gain more power and maintain your balance.
Punch 3: Hook

A hook uses power from your hips and upper body. It should be done in a fluid motion, using both your upper and lower body to follow through with the punch.

    • Take a comfortable boxing stance by putting both of your legs parallel to your shoulders. Then bring your most dominant foot one-half of a step back, and slightly bend your knees so you’re in an athletic stance.
    • Keep your fists in front of your face. Your hands should be lined up outside of your eyes and a few inches away from your face.
    • As you punch, twist your body to your dominant foot side and rotate your front foot. Rotate your upper body as well.
Round 1:

Perform each of the punches without weights for 45 seconds. After each one, do 60 seconds of relaxed-pace jump rope.

Rest for 30 seconds.

Round 2:

Perform each of the punches with your chosen weight. Be slow and controlled with each movement for eight punches.

Jump rope for 30 seconds at high intensity after each set of eight.

Rest for 30 seconds.

Round 3 – Knockout Round:

Do 30 seconds of punches without weights. Do all five sets, then jump rope for three minutes at a moderate intensity.

Cool down with your favorite stretches, placing added focus on your upper body. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds.

Find out more at: http://www.DiscoverHerbalife.com

15 Minute workout to improve sports performance

15 Minute workout to improve sports performanceAre you a sports player? Or do you enjoy an occasional game of your favorite sport? Try my 15 minute workout to help you improve your sports performance!

Most people train their body in only one direction. Often times while playing sports, something will happen that’ll require them to rapidly step to the side. If you only train in one direction, instead of being able to do rapid side movements with ease, it’ll be challenging. In some instances, they pull a muscle or damage a tendon in their knee, putting them on the sidelines for months at a time! Think about it: cycling, running and many exercises in the gym tend to focus on forwards and backwards movements. It makes sense because the majority of the time during our daily life, people move in a straight line, so it’s wise to focus on the most utilized movement patterns. This can be different when it comes to playing sports. Those are the occasions when moving sideways is essential, and you need to be ready for it. Training in a sideways manner can improve your sports performance by getting your body used to otherwise foreign moves.

I talk a lot about having a balanced and functional body because I believe that when you don’t work on the small muscles and tendons that are responsible for stability, it puts you at a greater risk of getting injured. Prevention is a much better approach than a cure when it comes to taking care of your joints. My sideways strengthening routine is aimed to get you ready for that rock on the running trail that you have to dodge at the last minute, or for a fun pick-up game at the local park. I add this routine into my training week at least once a month.

Sports performance workout

Side step: Stand with both feet together in an athletic stance with a slight bend in the knees. Take a 3 steps to the right, then 3 steps to the left. Start out slowly then pick up the pace.

Speed skater: Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms by sides. Hop to right, landing on your right foot while sweeping left foot diagonally behind right leg and swinging left arm across body and right arm behind back. Jump to left, switching legs and arms to complete 1 rep.

Side hops: Place a piece of tape on the floor and stand on the left side of it. Stand with both feet together in an athletic stance with a slight bend in the knees. Keeping feet together, hop to the right over the tape as you land immediately hop back over to the left.

Lateral lunge: Step to the right with your right foot, keeping your toes forward and your feet flat. Squat through your right hip while keeping your left leg straight. Squat as low as is comfortable and hold the position for 2 seconds. Push back to the starting position and repeat to the opposite side. You can also try my ‘around-the-clock’ lunge, which can take it a step further.

Obstacle run: place cones or water bottles spaced out every 10 steps over a set distance. Decide the distanced based on your space available, it can be as short as 20 steps or as long as 50. Perform shuttle runs in and out of the obstacle. Do this for 5 reps.

Method

Slow and focused: For the first few times you do this sports performance workout, you should do it in a slow and controlled manner. Performing reps means you can do it at your own pace.

Do each exercise for 12 reps (left and right = 1 rep)

Perform 3 sets total.

Fast and agile: As you become comfortable with sideways movement. you can do this workout as an interval style session. Perform each exercise at a low intensity for 30 seconds then again at a high intensity for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds then repeat. Repeat sequence 3 times.

Protect your body

Protect your precious joints by preparing them as part of your workout routine. I believe that adding one laterally focused routine to your schedule every few weeks will drastically improve your sports performance and overall leg joint stability. An added bonus is that you’ll be working and toning up your inner thighs and glutes too. It ‘s well worth it!

If you have any existing joint issues, are very overweight or have had knee or hip surgery in the past, you should check with your doctor before performing any laterally focused routines.

***

Try this athletic conditioning routine and let me know if you enjoy it!

Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife

Find out more at: http://www.DiscoverHerbalife.com

Family Fitness: Reach Your Goals in 3 Steps

You and your kids can get fit together.

If you set your children up for success in fitness when they’re young, it will help keep them on track when they’re adults. Here’s your action plan for reaching your family fitness goals. Added bonus: You’ll up your own fitness level, too.

The old saying ‘monkey see, monkey do’ comes to mind when we’re talking about teaching children about physical fitness, especially in their early stages of development. When it comes to physical fitness, parents can positively encourage their children to be active by being active themselves. Children’s behavior is essentially modeled from our own. I think the same applies when it comes to our body image, too. Our kids don’t see us the way we see ourselves. They don’t notice the cellulite or lumps and bumps. Children see their parents as love and perfection personified. If you start making negative statements about your body, kids can start picking up on it, and in turn they start feeling insecure about themselves.

I appreciate that when we’re struggling with weight issues, it’s difficult to keep negative thoughts at bay. It can be quite distressing to a child if you think you’re unattractive, yet in their eyes you’re perfect. At its core, family fitness is a balancing act. We don’t want to be accepting of unhealthy weight gain or sedentary habits, but we don’t want to be overly consumed with negative thoughts either. Every parent has to master the fine balance of being healthy and active in a positive way. It’s not an easy task, and there’s no one proven approach to raising a healthy, well-balanced family. There is a way that I do it, and these three simple steps make a lot of sense to me. I hope they work for you as well.

Step 1: Positive Words

Our choice of words is very important in life. Whether it’s with friendships, relationships, business affairs or your body confidence, it’s essential to make an active choice to use positive language.

I’m convinced that we all have some sort of body issues. I’ve been guilty of upsetting my daughter unintentionally by referring to my tummy scars as ‘horrid.’ Her response was “I love your tummy, because without it we wouldn’t be here.” As you can imagine, I felt terrible when she said this. My negative thoughts (like many women’s) came right in the middle of summer swimsuit season a few years ago. I think I felt even worse because she has a small scar on her arm. It made me realize that I must always be positive with my words. I believe true beauty comes from within, even on a tough day. Always try to find a positive verbal approach to situations.

Step 2: Positive Thoughts

If you do have negative thoughts about your body, try to work on finding some positive body confidence statements. These statements come much more naturally when you make small physical changes in your routine to make yourself feel better.

For example, referring to a healthy diet as something you dread because it makes you feel deprived is a prime example of teaching kids that there’s some form of negative emotion attached to restricting the consumption of unhealthy calories. Like I said, the balancing act is not easy. A change in mindset about what you know is best for your overall health is the key.

Attempt to only share positive statements, such as ‘I’m getting healthy’ or ‘I’m working on being an active parent.’ This is especially important when speaking in front of young children, because they’re most influenced before teenage years. Remember that positive actions and words start with positive thoughts.

Step 3: Mindset to Action

Have you heard the saying “all talk and no action”? Well, it’s time for the action part of my post. It doesn’t have to be a chore to get the entire family moving. Once you get going with weekly activities, your entire family will start to look forward to family fitness time together.

This year I launched a program called ‘Fit from the Sidelines,’ to encourage parents to maximize every second of their time when taking their kids to sports games. I’ve always felt that kids’ sports practices are an ideal opportunity for parents to squeeze in a workout. While kids are busy playing, it’s the perfect opportunity for a parent to work on getting fit during this time. What a great example a parent can be, right at the moment their child starts to look for them and sees mom or dad doing exercises.

Start getting yourself active and feeling great, then slowly start introducing your family to your ideas. Here is a custom ‘Fit from the Sidelines’ workout to help get you started.

Workout of the Week
Ultimate Goal: Perform this routine 5 times through.
Every Second Counts Goal: Get through this once.

– (1) Walk (2) jog (3) run
– Choose two numbers based on your fitness level.
– Note: If you’re new to exercise, choose numbers 1 and 2. If you feel ready, choose 2-3.
– Perform 45 seconds of the low number, followed by 30 seconds of your second number.
– Perform a few stretches while you catch your breath for 30 seconds.
– Repeat.

Not ready for jogging? Walk slowly as your 1, and then walk fast as your 2.

Stick to the time frame and sets, but adjust your running/jogging/walking as needed to fit your current fitness level.

The majority of your actions start with a thought, so keep your thoughts positive, your words to match your thoughts and hopefully your body will follow. It truly takes a village to raise a healthy active family.

Find out more at: http://www.DiscoverHerbalife.com

Fitness Motivation: 12 Reasons to Work Out Today

Exercise for a wide range of health benefits.[/frame_left]Are you struggling to find some fitness motivation this week? Is the idea of squeezing into that outfit or adjusting your belt buckle to a smaller hole not giving you the motivational push you need? If you’re looking for some reasons to get in shape, here are 12 winners to get you motivated today.

With the holiday season upon us, we may all need a bit of extra fitness motivation to help us stay focused with our health goals. I talk a lot about the internal health benefits associated with leading a healthy and active lifestyle. Improved health is the primary reason we need to exercise and consume a nutritious diet. We are often easily motivated by our external appearance, but that’s always changing—especially as we age. It feels like we have to work twice as hard and be twice as disciplined to get the same results that came so easily when we were younger. Change is something we all have to accept. Your body may be continually changing, both internally and externally, but your desire to be healthy should never change.

12 Tips on Fitness Motivation

1. Heart health

Engaging in cardiovascular activity is good for your heart. Your heart is a muscle, and pushing it to work hard a few days each week may help to improve your cardiac output. If you engage in cardiovascular activity on a regular basis, you may lower your overall resting heart rate, which is good for your health long-term.

2. Glowing skin

When you exercise, you increase the blood flow around your body. Your post-workout glow may not last all day, but you’ll look more radiant right after your session. If you’re lucky, the healthy glow will make you look and feel great.

3. Improved posture

Exercising on a regular basis may make you become more aware of your posture. As you gain body confidence and movement awareness, you become more conscious of what feels right for your body. Slouching may become a bad habit of the past. As an extra bonus, good posture makes you look taller.

4. Fewer aches and pains

If you have sore and stiff joints that are caused from sitting down all day, moving more often will help to alleviate that stiffness. Joints that are immobile tend to get sore. Once you’re moving on a regular basis, you improve the range of motion, and movements of everyday living become easier to perform.

5. Improved body composition

When you make exercise a part of your lifestyle, you’ll start to notice changes in how you look and feel. You may lose excess body fat and gain lean muscle mass, which is great for your appearance and it also helps your body to become more efficient at burning calories. Having a high percentage of lean muscle mass requires more calories just to sustain itself than someone of the same weight who has a higher percentage of body fat.

6. Feel happier

Performing physical exercise can make you feel happier in your daily life. One of the reasons for this is that your body releases an increased amount of endorphins when you’re active. Endorphins are your body’s natural happy hormone. You may also feel happier because you’re taking good care of your body. This sense of accomplishment can often make you have a greater sense of well-being.

7. Control your weight

Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain and help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn.

8. More energy

Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. When you exercise, your body must deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues to help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. When your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily tasks.

9. Boost brain power

Working out on a regular basis may help to improve your brain function. Various studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells (neurogenesis) and improve overall brain performance. Studies suggest that a tough workout may also increase levels of a brain-derived protein (known as BDNF) in the body. BDNF is believed to help with decision-making and higher learning.

10. Less stress

Exercise may act as a temporary diversion to daily stress. When you’re exercising or having fun doing activities, you’re generally not thinking about the things in your life that are difficult. Taking time out of your busy day to focus on yourself can reduce the feeling of stress. Less stress can also help with weight loss, because many people eat unhealthy foods to combat stress.

11. Meet new people

Exercise provides an opportunity for social interaction that may otherwise be lacking in your life. Starting a new activity can help you find a new circle of friends or provide you with a healthier opportunity to reconnect with old ones. So often we go out to eat to socialize, but doing an activity is much better for your waistline.

12. Better sleep

Being active can help to improve your sleep habits for several reasons. Exercising raises your body’s core temperature. As it cools back down to normal, it can help you to feel relaxed and ready to sleep. Because activity can help reduce your stress levels, drifting off at night may become easier.

There you have it—my top 12 fitness motivation reasons.

Find out more at: http://www.DiscoverHerbalife.com

How to Work the Right Muscles to Get Toned Abs

Strengthen your core muscles.

If you want six-pack abs, you need to know how to work all of the muscles that make up your core. There are five major muscles that you need to work to get a flat tummy and strong midsection.

Your core is made up of much more than your six-pack muscles. All humans are born with six-pack abs, but for the majority of people they ’re hidden behind a layer of abdominal fat. Working your core muscles with specific exercises will help make them bigger and more defined.

In order to get six-pack abs, I suggest doing a comprehensive exercise routine that effectively burns fat, strengthens your muscle and works the core. I like to say that ‘six-packs are made in the kitchen,’ because good nutrition is essential if you want to display these muscles or any other muscles in your body.

Below are some exercises to work each of the muscles that make up your core complex, as part of your well-balanced fitness routine.

Crunches

Crunches are a simple, yet effective exercise that will activate the abdominals, the most external of the core muscles. These are the famous six-pack muscles.

How to do it: Lie face up on the floor with your knees up and bent. Begin the crunch movement by contracting your abs to curl your shoulders towards the pelvis. Clasp your hands behind your neck or crossed over your chest. Injury can be caused by pushing against your head or neck with your hands, so be careful to use your abs and not your head to lift your shoulders off the floor. Hold for a second then return to starting position.

How many: 15-20 perfect form crunches, 3-5 sets.

Bicycle Ab Crunch

The muscles at the side of your waist are called the internal and external obliques. These muscles are important for stability, especially for movements that involve lateral (sideways) movements.

To activate these muscles, you’ll need to perform exercises that involve side bending or twisting. The bicycle ab crunch is my favorite exercise for working the obliques.

How to do it: Lie on your back on the floor. Stretch your legs out straight and place your hands behind your head. Raise your legs one at a time so that your thighs are perpendicular to the ground and your calves are parallel to the ground. Keep your feet together. Contract your abdominal muscles and touch your right elbow to your left knee. At the same time, straighten your right leg out in front, keeping it several inches off of the floor. Then switch, bending your right leg and straightening your left, like pedaling a bicycle. Use your abdominal muscles to crunch your body forward so that your elbow can reach your knee.

Note: Do not pull on your neck. It’s OK if you can’t quite reach your elbow to you knee.

How many: 30 seconds of bicycle crunches, 3-5 times.

Side Plank

The deep stabilizing muscle that connects the upper and lower body is called the quadratus lumborum. It’s an important muscle for stabilizing the hips and the spine, and it also plays a role with the diaphragm for deep breathing.

This muscle is worked with side bending or twisting movements. My favorite exercise to strengthen this muscle is the side plank.

How to do it: Lie on the floor on your side. Place your hand on the floor under you and straighten your arm, raising the top half of your body off the ground. Raise your other arm straight up, or let it rest on your side. Keep your legs straight, letting the lower half of your body rest on your underside leg.

How many: Try to hold this position for 45-60 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.

Leg Raise

The hip flexor muscle, called the psoas major, is used for all activities that involve moving your legs. My favorite exercise for working this muscle is the lying down leg raise.

How to do it: Lie on your back on a mat. Place your hands under your butt to stabilize your pelvis. Without letting your lower back lift, pull your knees toward your chest, then straighten your legs back to the starting position. To increase the resistance, try the exercise with straight legs. To increase the difficulty, do leg raises on an incline bench.

How many: Start out doing 10 raises, 3 sets. If your back starts to lift, stop, because you’ll be engaging the incorrect muscles.

The Vacuum

What I call the flat tummy muscle, the transverse abdominal, is a deep core muscle that’s responsible for stabilizing your spine and pelvis, especially for lifting movements. The best exercise is so easy you can do it anywhere—it’s called the vacuum.

How to do it: You can do this exercise while sitting up or lying down. It can be done in bed, at the office, or while driving your car. All you have to do is suck your belly in as far as you can and hold. Make sure you’re pulling your abs in as if they’re meeting your back.

How many: Hold your tummy for 10 to 15 seconds then release. Try to continue breathing and don’t hold your breath.

Find out more at: http://www.DiscoverHerbalife.com

How much exercise do you need? Plan your activity for the week

Doing crunches during a gym classFor some, a 30 minute workout is perfect. For others, a longer gym session is necessary to reach fitness goals. So how do you know how much exercise you really need? Read on to find out how you can determine a personalized activity plan.

I’m a firm believer that there’s no such thing as one–size-fits-all when it comes to fitness. We’re all individuals with our own preferences, especially when it comes to getting fit. We each have our own unique body type (unless you’re an identical twin), and we each have different needs and goals. How much exercise you need depends on your overall goal. What may be a good workout plan for you may not be the best for someone else. Let me guide you to find a nutrition and fitness plan that works best for your own schedule and current fitness level.

There are several sources that recommend a weekly 150 minutes of exercise (about 30 minutes, five times a week) for weight-loss and general health.  This is classified by moderate to vigorous physical activity.  However, let’s say your goal is to run a marathon. In this case, you’ll need to train for a lot longer than 30 minutes at a time. If your goal is simply to lose weight or improve you overall fitness level, 30 minutes may be all you need.

Striving to achieve the minimum recommended amount of activity is important for everyone. When you think about it, 30 minutes is a relatively short time commitment and is, in my opinion, a very achievable goal. I believe that although a workout time of 30 minutes is adequate for achieving the health benefits associated with exercise, you should attempt to schedule a longer workout. Approximately 50-60 minutes per day will allow you to have an additional focus on yourself. This extra time could be for a warm up, cool down as well as time to write in an exercise journal or prepare a healthy post exercise snack.

Your activity plans shouldn’t be something that stresses you out. It’s counter productive to have to rush right after your exercise routine. I think it somehow spoils the good mood that performing activity can have on your body.

Don’t overdo it

When it comes to exercise, too much of a good thing can spoil it. Overdoing your workout can be just as harmful as not doing any at all. There are several reasons as to why doing too much exercise can set you back:

Weight Loss: Taking your fitness to the extreme may actually slow down your metabolism and that’s because your body tries to conserve precious energy, causing you to burn fewer calories. In addition, maxing out your intensity level without sufficient breaks may stimulate the release of cortisol, a stress hormone linked to weight gain.

Muscle Growth: Exercising promotes small tears in your muscle fiber, and as they heal, your muscles grow. Without a sufficient healing period and adequate nutrition, your muscles won’t regenerate properly.

Overall Health: Severe cases of over-exercising can lead to exhaustion, dehydration, serious injury and even rhabdomyolysis—a condition that occurs when muscle tissue breaks down and muscle fibers enter your bloodstream, potentially damaging your liver.

So how much exercise is too much? Restricting your hard workout regimens to 3-4 days a week and allowing a rest day or two is a great idea. You need to be conscious to combine an intense exercise regimen with great nutrition as well. Only you know your body the best, so my advice as always is to pay attention to how your body feels. Push yourself enough, but not to the point of exhaustion.

Exercise produces the best results when you’re consistent with your routine. I believe it should be simply part of an overall wellness strategy to improve your life.

I encourage you to get active, keep a journal to monitor your minutes, and at the very least, meet your healthy active minimum each week. If you’re an avid exerciser make sure you take time to recover.

Here is my personal workout-rest schedule to give you an idea of how I plan my week:

Monday: Running and gym, high intensity level

Tuesday: Cycling and yoga, moderate intensity level

Wednesday: Body weight Interval training, high intensity level

Thursday: Active rest day for fun walk or hiking, low intensity level

Friday: Cycling and running, moderate intensity level but long duration

Saturday: Active rest for family fun swimming, paddle boarding, low intensity level

Sunday: Rest

I usually adjust my intensity level and workout duration to ensure my workout is stress free and fun.

I shared my fitness schedule for the week. Now it’s your turn. What does your week look like?

Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife

Find out more at: http://www.DiscoverHerbalife.com

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