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Friday, 20 March 2015

5 Things You Don't Know About Body Fat



Fat is the ultimate three-letter word, especially the kind that you spend so much time watching your diet and hitting the gym to keep at bay (or at least to keep off your butt). But beyond making you look less-than-svelte, fat can have significant physical and emotional implications. 

Fat Comes In Different Colors
More specifically, there are different types of fat that have different hues and functions: white, brown and beige. 
  • The white fat is what most people think of as fat -- pale and useless. Useless in that it has a low metabolic rate so it doesn't help you burn any calories the way muscle does, and it's the predominant type of fat in the human body, encompassing more than 90 percent of it. In other words, it's a storage unit for extra calories.
  • Brown fat is darker in color due to a rich blood supply and can actually burn calories rather than storing them -- but only if you're a rat (or other mammal); certain critters can activate brown fat to burn calories and generate heat to keep them warm in winter. Humans, sadly, have so little brown fat that it won't help you burn calories or keep you warm.
  • The third type of fat, beige fat, is in between white and brown in terms of its calorie-burning ability, which is actually very exciting. Why? Because researchers are looking into ways to shift white fat cells into more metabolically active beige ones via diet and exercise or supplements. In fact, there is preliminary evidence that certain hormones which are activated by exercise may convert white fat cells into beige ones, as well as some evidence that certain foods such as brown seaweed, licorice root and hot peppers may have the ability to do this as well.

The Fat On Your Butt Is Healthier Than The Fat On Your Belly
It's probably safe to say that no woman favors the fat on one body part over another, but it's actually safer health-wise to be more of a pear than an apple. Belly fat, also known as visceral fat, is much more responsive to the stress hormone cortisol compared to the fat on your thighs or butt, so when stress hits hard (and you don't find a healthy way to handle it), any extra calories consumed are more likely to end up around your middle.
Belly fat is also much more inflammatory than fat located elsewhere in the body and can create its own inflammatory chemicals (as a tumor would). These chemicals travel to the brain and make you hungry and tired, so you're more likely to overeat or eat junk food and not exercise, thus creating a vicious cycle and perpetuating the storage of more belly fat. The good news is that anything that helps you reduce inflammation helps reduce those signals to the brain. 
First You Burn Calories, Second You Burn Fat
The term "fat-burning" is often thrown around in fitness circles, but as an expression of weight loss, it's indirect. Before you "burn" fat, you burn calories, whether those calories come from stored carbohydrates (glycogen and blood sugar) or from stored body fat. The more calories you burn during each workout, the bigger deficit you will create and the more fat you will lose.
You can also create a calorie deficit by eating less. The trick, though, is time, since it's hard for most people to put in the time needed to burn enough calories to make a weight-loss dent. Fitness experts recommend using high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to burn as many calories as possible in as short amount of time as possible. This method, which alternates between hard/easy efforts, can burn double the calories in the same amount of time spent exercising in a steady state.
Fat Affects Your Mood
Certainly there is no easier way to ruin your day than seeing you've gone up a few numbers on the scale, but having excess fat -- especially around your belly -- activates that inflammation/cortisol cycle, which studies show may be a factor in serious mood disorders like bipolar disorder. If you're stuck in a stress/eat/gain/stress cycle, however, you're likely to experience at least a perpetually low mood, even if you don't have an actual clinical condition.
To help break the cycle, try eating a square of dark chocolate, there is just enough sugar to satisfy a stress-induced craving, but the healthy flavonoids help calm inflammation that leads to more stress. Low-fat dairy products like yogurt can have a similar effect -- the combination of calcium and magnesium can help calm the stress response.
Even Skinny People Can Have Cellulite
The dreaded c-word is caused by fat trapped under the skin (known as subcutaneous fat). The overlying skin "dimples" are created by connective tissues that tie the skin to the underlying muscle, with fat trapped in between like a sandwich. You don't need a lot of fat to cause a dimpling effect, so you can be in great shape and have low body fat but still have a little pocket of dimpled fat, for example, on your butt or the backs of your thighs.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

No More Excuses! 10 Tricks That'll Motivate You to Work Out

It's true what they say: 80 percent of success is just showing up. Once you're there — you're there. This advice can be hard to take when, after a late night of fun, your alarm goes off before the sun is up.
Propelling yourself to the gym, pool, mat, or trail can feel like a hurdle in its own right, but it's always one worth jumping. If you've resolved to work out more this year and get fit for 2015, motivate yourself to keep on sweating with these tricks.

  1. Channel that glorious post-workout feeling. Whenever you feel the instinct to skip a sweat session, imagine how accomplished and energized you feel after just 30 minutes or an hour of exercise. Just get there already.
  2. Make a date with a friend or fitness trainer. If you set a time to meet someone, you'll feel obligated to go, even when your mind and body are telling you otherwise.
  3. Create a healthy post-workout routine and make time for it, too. Reward yourself after a workout by scheduling extra moments to relax in the steam room, blow out your hair to perfection, or get a hot coffee or a protein-rich smoothie.
  4. This is the simplest, and possibly hardest, piece of advice to follow: schedule your workout early in the morning before the day's distractions detour you from lofty intentions.
  5. Carry a motivational token or photo with you. Beyoncé keeps a painting of an Oscar at the gym, so she's literally running toward her next goal. Instead of commissioning a masterpiece, snap a shot of the dress you want to wear on your next date, a beautiful beach you hope to visit this year, or even yourself at your best, and make it the wallpaper on your phone. When you feel like caving, look at it.
  6. Instead of going home to watch your favorite show on the couch, suit up and watch it on the treadmill. If your gym doesn't have TVs on each machine, load up your iPod or iPhone.
  7. Try something new. Sign up for an exercise class you've never taken before, take a hike to a vista point, ride your bike to a new trail, work out at a different time of day or try a virtual challenge.
  8. Throw on your favorite workout wear and some lip gloss. Kelly Osbourne admits to dolling up so she feels positive and pretty when she sees her reflection working out.
  9. Avoid taking a physical dip by fueling your body with a healthy pre-workout snack. You'll have something to burn and a boost of protein to keep your eye on the prize.
  10. Give yourself a gold star. Plot out a reward system and treat yourself when you hit your goal of workouts per week, weight loss, or the finish line. Wouldn't a massage or a pedicure feel great after all your hard work?
Source: Thinkstock
 
 

Friday, 6 March 2015

Need Motivation? Exercise with a friend



Exercising regularly is good for not just your weight and/or weight loss goals but also health and overall well being. Many studies have shown that regular exercise has mental benefits too.
It can ease depression, stress and irritability.

Look forward to your workout instead of dreading it

Think of Tomorrow not Today.
Always think about how much better you will feel after you workout instead of dreading getting started. Have you ever regretted a workout? I'm sure you have regretted not working out though!

Preparation.
Plan your day around an exercise routine. Thinks of exercise as a commonly as you would your shower, brushing your teeth and eating. Yes there are days you have had to miss a shower but didn't you feel so much better when you had the time to shower? Don't you normally plan a shower as part of a daily routine?

Alternatives.
As well as having healthy food options available to stop you snacking on fast/ processed foods. You should have options in case work, family or other obstacles force you to miss a planned gym session. have a quick workout prepared that you can do anywhere as a backup.
Keep Track.
Look at your calendar. Don't think about it as a daily chore but instead average out a low estimate of pounds you can lose if you stick with your plan and look ahead on the calendar. In two weeks you know you won't regret it, so think of a day you mark on the calendar, your difference in how you feel and how much closer you are to your weight loss goal!

Find Exercise Friends.
Many studies have shown having a friends to help keep you on track, motivated and inspired is a huge step toward regular and consistent exercise! An exercise friend will also help you look forward to exercise instead of dreading it!


Exercise with Friends

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Resolutions fading fast? Set yourself interim goals


resolutions-comp.jpg  

How to stick to your goals

Things like healthy eating, regular exercise and giving up smoking can have a real positive impact on our mental and physical health and are central to many people’s New Year's resolutions.
Every year millions of people make resolutions yet almost 80% of us fail to achieve them. Most of us strive for unrealistic goals and ultimately set ourselves up for a failure. 
 
Be realistic
Unattainable goals are often the enemy of achievable resolutions. Change one small thing at a time.
 
Planning helps
Don't wait until the last minute - plan ahead.
 
Develop a support network
Friends, family and colleagues can all help you - talk to them about what you're planning to do and tell them how they can help.
 
Measure your successes
Stay motivated by measuring how far you've come each week, whether it is miles or inches. This will help you realise how small changes can make a big difference.
 
Reward yourself
Celebrate when you succeed with a treat, which doesn't necessarily have to be the thing you're trying to avoid. You might reward the first month of your successful diet with a night at the cinema.
 
Treat failure as a small setback
If you slip and break your diet, forget to exercise or have a secret cigarette, don’t despair! Learn from the setback: what situations made you slip? Can you avoid them next time? Don't obsess over small setbacks - it won't help you achieve your goal. Start fresh the next day. Don't give up!
 
Make your resolution stick
After a couple of weeks, the changes you've made will become a habit and part of your routine, so don't be discouraged if you're still finding it hard after the first week. Stick to it and it will only get easier!

Give Virtual Fitness Training a try
Virtual Fitness Training gives you a set exercise and number of repetions or distance to be covered, that you must complete within a specified time period.
By taking on one of these challenges once a month or whenever you need to push yourself. It can help to keep you motivated and on track with your fitness goals.

How does it work?
Sign up to the challenge you wish to attempt. You have one calender month to complete the challenge so have as many attempts as you need.
When you are ready to perform the challenge, record or get a friend to record you completing the task and upload it to us for verification.
Once verified, at the end of the event period a medal will be sent out to you.

We also support Macmillan Cancer Support charity so whilst you are keeping your fitness on track you are also helping to support a great charity in their work.
We make our donations via Givey which unlike some other organisations give 100% of your donation to the charity

Saturday, 28 February 2015

How To Crank Up Your Metabolism

Don’t settle for a sluggish system. Boost your calorie-burning superpowers with these expert tips to burn fat 24/7.


Woman kick boxing
                                            
Have you ever watched a slim woman wolf down a giant bag of Kettle Chips and then wondered where she puts it all?
Well, she doesn’t put it anywhere. More likely she has a Maserati-fast metabolism that incinerates fat before it has had chance to latch on to her thighs.
Of course, to some degree our bodies hum along at a preset speed determined by gender and genetics – but there’s still plenty of wiggle room. In fact, you can rev up your metabolism to burn around an extra 500 calories every day simply by making a few pain-free lifestyle swaps.
“You actually have a huge amount of control over your metabolic rate,” says John Berardi, author of The Metabolism Advantage. While peoples’ metabolism typically nose-dives with age (see below), studies show that you can limit that decline to as little as 0.3% per decade – without gruelling daily sweat sessions and extreme diets.
Here we reveal the experts’ metabolism-stoking tips to help you fire up your body’s internal inferno and scorch through fat.

FIRST THING IN THE MORNING

Metabolic Rating: 3
Eat a decent breakfast. Every. Single. Day. If you don’t, your metabolism goes into starvation mode (it’s paranoid like that) and slows to a crawl. In fact, research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found testers who ate no less than 22% and up to 55% of their total daily calories at breakfast gained only 1.7lb on average over four years. But those who ate less than 11% of their calories first thing gained nearly 3lb. See the pattern there?

Crank it up: Go for morning munchies that are slow to digest. Try a mix of lean protein with complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Berardi recommends an omelette made with one egg and two egg whites, plus a handful of sliced mixed peppers and onions. Follow that with a small bowl of porridge topped with a handful of frozen berries and 3tbsp of omega-3-loaded flaxseed (try Linwoods, £5 for 425g from Tesco). Great, now you’re firing on all cylinders.
AT THE OFFICE
Metabolic rating: 2
Rejoice, caffeine addicts. According to a study in the US journal Physiology & Behavior, the metabolic rate of people who regularly drank caffeinated coffee was an average of 16% higher than those who drank decaf. “Caffeine stimulates your central nervous system by increasing your heart rate and breathing,” says Robert Kenefick, a research physiologist at the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine. We won’t argue with that, Sir.

Crank it up: Follow your morning cup of the black stuff with an ice-cold glass of water. Researchers at the University of Utah found just drinking one glassful can raise your body’s metabolic rate by up to 30 per cent and keep it raised for around 10 minutes. The theory is your body has to burn extra calories to maintain its core temperature. Get your recommended eight glasses a day.
AT THE GYM
Metabolic rating: 3
Swap hours on the treadmill for the Tabata Method. This school of exercising is all about fast and furious intervals – 20 seconds of gut-wrenching effort followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated a total of eight times over four minutes. Studies have shown working out this way is as effective at boosting your metabolism as much longer lower-intensity sweat sessions.

Crank it up: Geoff Bagshaw, a trainer at Equinox gyms, has come up with this three-move sequence. Do as many reps as you can of the first exercise in 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, then repeat eight times. Rest for two minutes, then do it again for the other two exercises. Got it?

Lunge with a bicep curl: Holding dumbbells at your sides, step back into a lunge, curling the weights up to your shoulders. Repeat on other leg. That’s one.
Squat overhead press: Hold your dumbbells at shoulder height, arms bent, and lower into a squat. Now raise the weights to the ceiling as you push back up.
Push-ups: You know this one. Assume push-up position, bend arms and lower.
AT MEAL TIMES
Metabolic rating: 3
To slim down, pile your plate with protein. Regular large helpings will help you build and maintain lean muscle. And we all know muscle burns more than fat by now, right? Aim for 30g of protein – that’s 250g of low-fat cottage cheese or 100g of chicken breast – at each meal.

Crank it up: Chase your meal with a cup of green tea. “It’s the closest thing to a metabolism potion,” says Tammy Lakatos Shames, co-author of Fire Up Your Metabolism. In tests, people who consumed three to five cups a day for 12 weeks shed an average of 4.6% of their total body weight. Another study found having two to five cups a day torched an extra 50 calories a day. Not bad. Try Clipper organic green tea. To really go for the burn, down it two hours after eating. Research shows it can increase breakdown of fat by a third. Now go forth and burn.

RAGE AGAINST TIME

Beat the downshift in metabolism that creeps up along with those laughter lines. With each passing decade, your metabolism slows down by about 5%. Ouch. Hormones are partly to blame, but so is the typical drop-off in physical activity. As a result you lose muscle mass, a major calorie consumer. So by the time you hit 35, you’ll burn about 75 fewer calories a day than you did at 25, and by age 65, it’s a hefty 500 fewer, says Dr Madelyn Fernstrom, author of The Real You Diet. But don’t panic. You can outsmart Mother Nature with the tips above. A warning: here’s what happens if you don’t.

20s: Your muscle and bone mass are at their peak and your metabolism should be firing on all cylinders. Enjoy it while you can.
30s: Your body’s cellular powerhouses, the mitochondria, start to get less effective at turning food into energy for your muscles to burn.
40s: The decline continues as your oestrogen levels go into free fall, further slowing your metabolism and causing belly fat.
 
By Jen Ator

Monday, 12 January 2015

Personalised Dietary Plan

In search of a personalised diet http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-30709297