What’s Your Perfect Six-pack?


Most men have probably wished for perfect six-pack abs at some point in their lives. But more than likely, just wishing for it didn’t really achieve the results they were looking for.

The fact is, even men who work out rigorously never even come close to achieving that magazine cover look. But why is it so difficult for the average guy to carve out a lean set of six-pack abs? And can anything be done about it?

What it takes

That perfect definition that every man wants is not easy to come by. It’s the result of continuously building lean muscle and losing the unwanted fat that is covering up those muscles you worked so hard to build. It requires a delicate balance between food intake, exercise and, believe it or not, genetics.

Slimming down calories

While being mindful of every calorie you consume is essential to achieving this look, starving yourself to get lean isn’t sustainable and is never a good idea. However, to get six-pack results, you will need to continually cut more calories as your body becomes leaner. This practice eventually becomes unsustainable as thoughts of all your favorite foods suddenly become too much to bear, or other side effects, such as irritability and fatigue, start to take their toll.

Beefing up your workout routine

Of course, cutting calories alone won’t give you abs of steel, but we are talking about much more than just an occasional workout at the gym. You will need to adopt a rigorous lifestyle of intense cardio and weight training. If done correctly, you will start to see result. But this is when some men become obsessed with the process and start ignoring other important aspects of their lives, which is not a healthy way to live for many reasons.

Is a six-pack in you genes?

After fully committing to this process and getting your food intake and workout routine down to a science, why aren’t you getting the results you had hoped for? Actually, it may have something to do with genetics. Just as some people are naturally slimmer or more muscular than others, some people just naturally hold on to a bit more body fat than others. So while the muscle tone you have worked so hard for is actually there, it’s just not as visible as it would be on someone with a lower percentage of body fat.

A healthier approach

It’s much more common to be one of those guys that just can’t realistically maintain a super-low percentage of body fat. Instead of becoming discouraged, be proud of the work you put into improving your health and appearance, and embrace the level of fitness you have achieved.

You might not look exactly like the guys on those magazine covers, but you are likely in much better shape than most of your friends. Besides, accepting your body’s limitations will allow you to spend just a little less time at the gym and a little more on other important things in your life.

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When the workout is tough, you can be tougher

The idea is that working out is supposed to make you feel great. But there are just some days when even a simple workout seems too tough to handle. This happens to almost everyone at some point, no matter what state of fitness they are in. So what should you do?

Whatever you do, don’t quit. Instead, have a plan that will help get you through those rough patches. It’s easier than you might think. Just make a list to remind yourself of everything that motivates you to be healthy and stay fit. But be sure to write it down, either on paper or stored on your phone or tablet, because it’s guaranteed that you will forget each and every one of these motivators when you are having a bad day.

Where should you start?
The best way to come up with your list is to jot down all the positive psychological and physical and attributes of working out. These are things that probably already go through your head when you are having a good day.

Have you ever been out for a run when the weather is perfect, the wind seems to stay at your back no matter which way you turn and every muscle in your body seems to be working together like a fine-tuned machine? Yes! That’s the day to make your list, but here are a few ideas to get you started.

Psychological benefits of working out
It’s not always easy to make the time to exercise, so remind yourself to make the most of your workout so you feel good about using your time wisely. Also, it never feels good to be a quitter. When it comes to other areas of your life, such as your job or your family, you always find a way to get through the tough times. So, when it comes to a tough workout, just remind yourself you have done it before so you can do it again.

Physical benefits of working out
There is no denying how awesome you feel after a great workout, but for those days when the after part can’t come soon enough, just focus on how much energy you will have to get through the rest of your day’s to-do list. Lastly, while exercise is important for you overall health, the way it makes your clothes fit can boost your confidence like nothing else. So remind yourself that you probably didn’t have a small salad for lunch today, and you will tackle that workout with ease.

Reward yourself for your success
Using these, or your own, reminders will help you get through those really tough workouts or even those not so tough workouts that just seem harder because you are having an off day. If you are having an exceptionally bad day, try breaking your workout into segments and using your list of reminders to get through each segment. Instead of lamenting how much you have left to go, congratulate yourself for each segment you finish.

For more articles go to http://thegym.lifestyleezine.com

When the workout is tough, you can be tougher

The idea is that working out is supposed to make you feel great. But there are just some days when even a simple workout seems too tough to handle. This happens to almost everyone at some point, no matter what state of fitness they are in. So what should you do?

Whatever you do, don’t quit. Instead, have a plan that will help get you through those rough patches. It’s easier than you might think. Just make a list to remind yourself of everything that motivates you to be healthy and stay fit. But be sure to write it down, either on paper or stored on your phone or tablet, because it’s guaranteed that you will forget each and every one of these motivators when you are having a bad day.

Where should you start?
The best way to come up with your list is to jot down all the positive psychological and physical and attributes of working out. These are things that probably already go through your head when you are having a good day.

Have you ever been out for a run when the weather is perfect, the wind seems to stay at your back no matter which way you turn and every muscle in your body seems to be working together like a fine-tuned machine? Yes! That’s the day to make your list, but here are a few ideas to get you started.

Psychological benefits of working out
It’s not always easy to make the time to exercise, so remind yourself to make the most of your workout so you feel good about using your time wisely. Also, it never feels good to be a quitter. When it comes to other areas of your life, such as your job or your family, you always find a way to get through the tough times. So, when it comes to a tough workout, just remind yourself you have done it before so you can do it again.

Physical benefits of working out
There is no denying how awesome you feel after a great workout, but for those days when the after part can’t come soon enough, just focus on how much energy you will have to get through the rest of your day’s to-do list. Lastly, while exercise is important for you overall health, the way it makes your clothes fit can boost your confidence like nothing else. So remind yourself that you probably didn’t have a small salad for lunch today, and you will tackle that workout with ease.

Reward yourself for your success
Using these, or your own, reminders will help you get through those really tough workouts or even those not so tough workouts that just seem harder because you are having an off day. If you are having an exceptionally bad day, try breaking your workout into segments and using your list of reminders to get through each segment. Instead of lamenting how much you have left to go, congratulate yourself for each segment you finish.

For more articles go to http://thegym.lifestyleezine.com

Movers and Shakers

If you like to spend more time on the sofa than on the treadmill-blame your mother. New research suggests it’s not your fault. You may be genetically programmed to be sedentary, while skinny people are just naturally motivated to get up and dance.
Good news for couch potatoes and jumping beans alike-no more need to feel guilty-evidence suggests your activity level may be genetically pre-determined.

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT appears to be a defining characteristic of body type. Think of NEAT as a switch controlling activity level. If you overeat, it increases energy output, and helps burn those extra calories. When it fails to engage, calories accumulate as fat.

Obese people seem to have a faulty switch, which accounts for their more sedentary habits -that’s the finding of researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota, (http://www.Mayoclinic.com). The overweight are biologically programmed to sit, no matter how little or great their food intake.

A team headed by endocrinologist Dr. James Levine, measured the expenditure of calories in a study whose participants were instructed to carry out their regular, daily activities-wearing sensor-equipped underwear. Calculating a person’s NEAT requires precise measurement of every movement, no matter how innocuous.

Ever wonder how many calories you burn while driving, or watching television? The answer can be found among the millions of lines of data downloaded from the sensors, which were recorded non-stop over a ten-day period.

Twenty people were monitored, half of them obese and the other ten lean. All were healthy, lived in Rochester and were instructed to conduct themselves normally. Diet, however, was strictly controlled, with all food intake supervised by the clinic. The obese subjects were placed on a calorie-reduced diet, the lean ones overfed. Loss of weight had no impact on the activity level of the obese. They remained sedentary, whereas the lean subjects became more energetic, the calorie increase triggering greater movement.

Dr. Levine has concluded that every person has a fixed NEAT, or programmed response to calorie intake. It would seem obese people are at a disadvantage, one that diet alone cannot address. Call them NEAT-challenged- lacking in the impulse that compels others to burn calories.

Since it appears less active people are genetically programmed for a more sedate lifestyle, is it possible their bodies are better equipped to handle excess fat? It’s worth noting that the 10 obese subjects in the Mayo study were as healthy as their lean counterparts.

What about those in the general population who regularly gain and shed weight? What’s their category? Is it likely that people whose weight continually fluctuates may be genetically hay wire?”

“Bingo-possibly,” says Dr. Levine.

His primary goal now is to devise methods of supercharging people’s NEAT.

“A drug is a possibility, but I am not a great fan. We think that motor neuronal plasticity occurs-the brain changes with more NEAT to crave more NEAT and so on. If we are right, obesity will disappear in the next twenty years.”

To achieve such an ambitious goal, people need to focus as much attention on their energy levels as they do food. Dr. Levine determines that on average obese people sit two-and-a- half-hours longer a day than those who are lean. They are burning fewer calories, on the order of 350 every twenty-four hours. Over time that adds-up-hence the urgency of Levine’s message, and its underlying simplicity:

Just move it!

NEAT Freaks:

Given a choice between sitting at a desk or walking, Dr. Levine opts for a stroll every time, something he can do on the job because of a unique work station that features a computer mounted over a treadmill. So he’s literally on the go all day, thanks to a little ingenuity and a great deal of resolve. In his case, technology is working for him, a claim few others can make. Look backward instead of forward when seeking ways of increasing your NEAT:

  • Use a push mower to cut the grass.
  • Discard the leaf blower and grab a rake.
  • Hide the car keys and walk to the corner store.
  • Disconnect the microwave and cook a meal from scratch.
  • America On the Move (www.americaonthemove.org) wisely advises people to incorporate an extra 2,000 steps a day into their routine, which is the equivalent of walking a mile.

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Read to Me

“Again! Again! Again!” The familiar cry of a toddler at bedtime pierces the peaceful evening air. Whether it’s Pat the Bunny or Hop on Pop, parents will soon have the story memorized as children beg for more. What may seem like stalling to stay awake just a few minutes later is actually a vital learning activity for little ones. Parents, this time it’s ok to spoil your kids and feel good about it too.

Building Brains

According to Dr. Mercola, reading to children, especially at an early age has a great effect on brain development. When an adult reads aloud, a child’s brain lights up with activity and imagination. This stimulation leads to more advanced language skills, better motivation, active curiosity, and improved memory. A child learns how to cope with stress and emotional events while listening to a story. An activity that is relatively simple and free exposes children to new situations and ideas. For families, it’s a “no brainer;” reading is good for kids.

Reading is fun

The more kids read, the more they want to read. Parents should aim to create life-long reading habits in their children by reading aloud. Even after a child can read to him or herself, reading aloud increases the chance that the child will continue to enjoy reading into adulthood. Reading aloud is a special time to share between children and caregivers. Memories of such times are likely to be cherished and lead to a healthy literary appetite.

Avoid the obstacles

On the path to literacy, a child encounters many obstacles. Adults can help children navigate these waters by avoiding three things: processed foods, physical inactivity, and excessive screen time. Children who eat a diet of primarily fresh whole foods tend to have higher IQ scores than their junk food-eating counterparts. Physical exercise also plays a role in IQ and task efficiency. Adults and children can both benefit from the brain-boosting rewards of cardiorespiratory fitness. Finally, screen time should be limited for budding readers. The effects of too much computer gaming and cell phone use are wide ranging and negative toward behavior, emotional health, and sleep habits. What better way to avoid screens than with a good book?

Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, or teacher, you can help a child by reading. Adults have the privilege of modeling good habits for children. Reading to a child and encouraging a healthy lifestyle to support literacy impacts a child’s life and brain development forever. So, indulge in a little Goodnight Moon. Your time and efforts will be rewarded!

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Get Happy and Get Healthy

Everyone wants to be healthy, and most people would like to be happy.
But does being happy make you healthier or does being healthy make you happier?
While this question may be difficult to answer, the two do seem to go hand in hand.

Power in positive thinking

Happy people have a positive outlook on life. Even when faced with difficult obstacles such as divorce or job loss, optimistic individuals always see the bright side. Having a positive attitude certainly makes it easier to move forward in the face of adversity, but it’s also believed to have an effect on physical wellness, as optimists seem to become ill less often than pessimists.

Food for your mood

It’s no secret that what you eat can affect your health. Consuming too many processed foods that are full of saturated fat, salt and sugar can lead to chronic problems such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. An unhealthy diet can also impact your energy levels and ability to focus. It’s hard to be in a good mood when you’re feeling tired and having trouble concentrating.

However, some foods can have a positive effect. Eating a balanced diet full of fresh, unprocessed foods can help you get the healthy fats, vitamins and minerals you need. This will also help keep your energy levels more stable throughout the day, making drastic mood swings less likely.

Sleep it off

It may seem obvious that not getting enough sleep could impact your mood. But many people don’t get adequate rest on a regular basis. While missing a few hours here and there may not have dire consequences, not getting enough sleep for an extended period of time can also affect your health.

Slow things down

We’re all guilty of it. We zip through life, trying to check things off of our “to do” lists that only seem to get longer every day. Repeating this behavior on a daily basis simply leads to frustration and dissatisfaction. For an instant boost in happiness, slow down and appreciate the little things life has to offer.

The good kind of contagious

A little kindness can go a long way when it comes to making someone else’s day. But it can actually make you feel happier too. The next time you go out for your coffee, let that person that looks a little frazzled go ahead of you in line or put a little extra in the tip jar on the counter. When you get to work, offer a friendly greeting to the first person you see, and maybe compliment a coworker on their new shoes or haircut. But don’t be surprised when you suddenly find yourself in a good mood.

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How to Save When You Buy a Home

Buying a home is expensive. In fact, for most people it’s the biggest purchase they’ll ever make. While some costs are unavoidable, it’s important to save money wherever you can.

Know your limit

The best place to start is knowing how much you can afford. Of course, the more you can put into a down payment the less your monthly mortgage payments will be, but most buyers still need to finance some portion of their purchase. So, before you start shopping for a home, you’ll need to shop for the best mortgage rates and get preapproved by a lender.

Getting preapproved will tell you what price range you can afford, which will save you from wasting time looking at homes that are above your limit. It will also give you a good idea of what your monthly payment might look like, which will keep you from falling in love with a home that would stretch your budget a bit too far.

Hire a pro

Some people try to navigate the complex home-buying process on their own, but it may be best to contact a reputable real estate agent. A good agent will know the market, which means they’ll know whether a home is priced appropriately and can help you negotiate a fair price. This can save you a good deal of money and will relieve any worries over whether or not you’ve overpaid for your home.

If you’re concerned about having to pay fees to the agent, their commission typically comes from the sale of the home. This means buyers do not need to pay their real estate agent for helping them find a new home.

Saving after you buy

Once you’ve found the perfect home and the sellers have accepted your offer, you may have to wait a few weeks or more before you go to settlement and can actually move in. It’s a very exciting time, but don’t be tempted to run out and purchase all the things you think you might need in your new home.

Hold off on big-ticket items

Your mind may be racing with ideas on how you want to decorate your new home, but it’s best to wait until you’ve actually moved in before buying big-ticket items such as furniture or appliances.

Even if you’ve taken accurate measurements, it’s difficult to plan the layout of a room until you’ve actually spent some time in the space. Things such as access to doorways, heating or cooling vents, and even how light comes through the windows can influence where you put furniture in a room. If you buy too much ahead of time, you could be stuck with pieces that just don’t work.

If the existing appliances are in working order, you should hold off on buying new ones even if you’re certain you want to replace them because of the style or color. Appliances are a big expense and it’s a good idea to reserve some cash in case of any unforeseen emergency repair or other expense.

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The Link Between Insomnia and Alzheimer’s Disease

A recent study has indicated that poor sleep may not just be a symptom of Alzheimer’s Disease, but also a contributing factor. Research indicates that poor sleep may cause an increasing number of amyloid plaques to build up in the brain, and these plaques are associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Scientists took measurements of the brain waves of 26 older adults who did not have Alzheimer’s while they were sleeping. They found that the ones who did not sleep well had brains with more amyloid plaques in them than did the ones who slept well. The researchers also found that the adults who slept poorly and had amyloid plaques did worse on memory tests administered both before and after sleep.

How does sleep deprivation cause brain damage?
The brain needs sleep in order to maintain metabolic homeostasis. Prolonged wakefulness stresses the mitochondria in our cells, and sleep deprivation cases neurons to degenerate.

In one study involving mice, the scientists kept them on an inconsistent and erratic sleep schedule akin to that experienced by many human shift workers. The mice suffered significant and irreversible brain damage, for 25 percent of the neurons in their locus coeruleus decayed. The locus coeruleus is a part of the brain stem that controls wakefulness, arousal and some cognitive processes. Scientists have also found that the brain shrinks over time in someone who doesn’t get enough sleep. The process is quicker and more severe in people over 60.

In addition, the lymphatic system and the brain’s glial cells work together to clean toxins and waste out of the brain. They do most of their work at night. In fact the glial cells and lymphatic system are ten times more active during a person’s sleep than during their waking hours. Among the toxins they clear out are proteins linked to Alzheimer’s.

Researchers studied yet more mice and divided them into two groups. One group was exposed to 12 hours of darkness and 12 hours of light while the other group was exposed to 4 hours of darkness and 20 hours of light. Both groups were bred to develop dementia and had amyloid plaques, but the second group displayed more and more severe memory problems. The researchers concluded that insomnia is a trigger of the processes that cause dementia to develop.

Sleep problems in the US

Many Americans sleep poorly. Forty percent of the country’s adults have reported falling asleep during the daytime without meaning to, and another 5 percent have reported falling asleep while driving. Some people do have sleep disorders, but many others simply don’t go to bed early enough.

Other health problems caused by insomnia
Lack of sleep affects the immune system in the same way that chronic stress and illness do. Sleep deprivation increases the chances of developing certain chronic illnesses. For example, the risk of developing high blood pressure is tripled in people who sleep less than six hours per night. Insomnia also increases the chances of developing cancer, slows down neuron production in the brain, and contributes to premature aging.

Tips for getting a good night’s sleep

  • Stop watching TV or using the computer an hour before bedtime.
  • Sleep in complete darkness.
  • Keep the temperature in the bedroom below 70 degrees. The optimal temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 68 degrees.

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Is Your Salad Good or Bad?

Salads are often thought of as something bland and boring you have to eat when you’re on a diet. Fast food restaurants have cashed in on this mindset by offering taste-tempting salads that are anything but boring. Unfortunately, they’re also anything but diet friendly, as many of these creations pack more fat and calories than some of the burger and french fry combinations.

But this doesn’t mean that all salads are either boring or diet busters. With the right ingredients, a salad can make a delicious, healthy meal that hits all the right food groups.

Greens are good, but some are better
Of course, having lettuce as a base for your salad is nothing new. But other dark leafy vegetables, such as kale, chard and spinach, would be perfect for a healthy salad. They have lots of flavor and are packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Fat – the bad

Where a good salad often goes wrong is when it’s covered in store-bought dressing, deep-fried croutons or chicken that has been breaded, fried or saturated with a high-fat sauce. This is the type of salad you often find at fast food or chain restaurants. However, most places do have healthier options that contain mainly fresh vegetables and lean grilled or broiled meats. Just be sure to steer clear of creamy dressings made from unhealthy oils and chemicals, or skip the dressing altogether.

Fat – the good

What’s surprising to most people is that not all fats are bad. We actually need high-quality fats to help our bodies absorb certain nutrients. These can be added to your salad in the form of eggs, avocados, coconut or olive oil, and other similar ingredients.

Make your own

The easiest way to make sure you’re getting the most nutrition out of your salad is to make it yourself. It’s also the best way to make sure your salad will be a flavorful meal that you’ll really enjoy. Try experimenting with different combinations of all your favorite fresh vegetables and lean proteins. Just be sure to choose organic vegetables and grass-fed proteins to avoid adding pesticides or other toxic chemicals to your healthy meal.

Dress it up

Dressings are often used to add flavor to salads that may not be all that fresh or are lacking quality ingredients. But salads made from fresh and flavorful organic ingredients are often more delicious without added dressings. If you feel the need to add a little something to top of your salad, try mixing up your own dressing using fresh organic herbs and spices with a little olive or coconut oil, and apple cider vinegar.

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Choose Natural and Organic to Fuel up Your Workout

The importance of eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise have been promoted to the general public for some time now. Consumers seem to be getting the message and are hitting the gym in record numbers. But the health benefits of daily exercise may be hampered by the fact that most consumers’ balanced diets don’t actually include very much real food.

As crazy as that sounds, it’s true. Mechanized farming and genetic modification have actually reduced the overall quality and antioxidant value in many of the fresh fruits and vegetables we consumer. But what’s even worse is that many time-strapped consumers turn to prepackaged, processed foods and drive-thru restaurants for a majority of their meals. This is not real food.

What’s the difference?

Conventionally grown fruits, vegetables and grains are typically genetically modified and use dangerous toxins such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and traditionally produced meats and seafood often contain added growth hormones and antibiotics. Consuming such toxins is something everyone should avoid, not just athletes and gym goers.

In addition, processed foods tend to be high in sugar, salt and unhealthy fats, which have been linked to increases in obesity, various diseases and chronic ailments.

However, real foods, such as organic fruits, vegetables and grains, grass-fed meats and wild-caught seafood do not contain any of these toxins, and in some instances may have higher nutritional or antioxidant values.

Why we need real food

Food fuels our bodies, and while the quality of foods we choose is important for everyone, it’s especially important for athletes and exercise enthusiasts who need to replace vital nutrients and energy expended during a workout.

In addition, consuming high levels of antioxidants has been shown to decrease the risk of certain diseases.

What you can do

Increasing your daily intake of real foods isn’t all that difficult. A good place to start is by choosing organic fruits and vegetables. While organic produce can be a little more expensive, it’s easy to mitigate the higher costs by buying what’s in season in your area instead of paying extra for out-of-season produce that had to be transported.

Another good idea is to avoid processed foods whenever possible. While this may mean a bit more meal planning and cooking at home, you’ll likely see an increase in your energy level, which will make it well worth it.

Lastly, try to stay away from foods that are high in unhealthy fats, salt and sugar. This is a tough one for most people, as it usually means avoiding fast food altogether, but you’ll see big improvements on the scale if you’ve been working out in an attempt to lose weight.

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