Break Into a Healthy Exercise Habit

A healthy diet is an important component in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but regular exercise may be the key to living a long healthy life.

Everyone knows that exercise is important. But many people struggle with consistently fitting it into their daily routine. Starting and stopping a workout program is not going to cut it when it comes to improving your overall health. You must make a commitment to exercise regularly throughout your life. It should be part of your daily routine that just naturally becomes a habit (think brushing your teeth).

Forming a new habit

A habit (good or bad) is something you do without thinking. It’s definitely not something you squeeze in when you have the time or something you come up with excuses to skip now and then. You probably won’t ever hear someone say they were going to bite their nails this morning, but they overslept.

Most habits are pick up unconsciously as we go about our daily lives, but it’s possible to consciously form a new habit through repetition and routine.

Do it again and again

We get up when out alarm goes off, take a shower, eat breakfast, brush our teeth and leave for work. We repeat these small tasks day after day, and for most people, there’s not a whole lot of thought or planning to it. That’s because after years of repetition, these things have become small habits that are part of our daily routine.

To make exercise one of those habits, we need to treat it just like any other task that we consider critical to our daily routine.

When can you realistically workout?

The first thing to do is decide on a time of day for exercising, as this could impact where you are able to exercise and what type of exercise you’ll be able to do.

For example, if you know you’ll have more time in the morning but need to be home to get the kids up for school, going to the gym wouldn’t be a good option. Instead, opt for an hour of yoga at home, or invest in a treadmill or other home equipment so you can check your workout off your to-do list first thing in the morning.

Where’s the best location?

If you’re able to schedule your workout for a time of day that allows you to be out of the house, it’s still important to consider where your workout will take place. Try to make it a convenient location, such as near your work or home. That way you’ll limit the amount of excuses you make for not getting there.

What’s your preferred workout?

Choosing the type of activity you’ll do for your daily workout is one of the most critical components to creating a habit. If you try something new and don’t like it, give it a week or two before giving up. But if you still dread it, move on to something else.

Don’t be discouraged if this happens a few times. Eventually you’ll find what works for you, and once you do, you’ll know it right away.

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How to Conquer Internal Inflammation

Improvements in medical care and increased knowledge of the importance of good nutrition and exercise have many individuals seeking ways to live a longer and healthier life. While this is good news, there also seems to be an increase in previously uncommon health conditions, such as chronic inflammation.

Inflammation is most widely associated with common injuries, such as a sprained ankle or a broken finger. But it seems that many adults are suffering from chronic inflammation, often without even being aware.

This type of inflammation occurs internally and, although the connection is not always made, can potentially lead to major diseases and other conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and more.

While research on the topic continues, it is largely believed that healthy lifestyle changes, including avoiding stress, eating healthy and staying active, can help combat this type of inflammation.

Learn to let it go

Stress is known to contribute to a long list of health issues, but it is possible that increased inflammation brought about by stress could be a contributing factor. There is no denying that today’s society is under a lot of stress. Even those who feel their lives are pretty well in order must still deal with the pressures of balancing family and work, and doing this on a daily basis over a period of several years or more can certainly lead to stress.

Weighing in on food and exercise

Being overweight causes undue stress on every part of your body. But the excess inflammation that goes along with even a few excess pounds could lead to health problems such as diabetes. Fortunately, we seem to be making great strides in understanding just how important diet and exercise are to our overall well-being. But when it comes to fighting inflammation with food, it seems what we eat is as important as what we don’t eat.

In with the good

Whether its tuna, salmon or sardines, be sure to up your intake of omega-3 fatty acids by consuming oily fish as your source of protein at least a few times a week. When choosing vegetables, go for the dark leafy greens-think broccoli, kale and spinach-as they are high in vitamin E. To spice up your dishes, add in fresh onions and garlic, which are known for their high anti-inflammatory chemical content, and be sure to use heart-healthy olive oil when preparing your foods. Lastly, when you crave something sweet, go for a big bowl of fresh berries that are full of antioxidants.

Out with the bad

Processed foods are almost never a good option, but if you must use them, read labels carefully and strictly avoid processed vegetable oils, and limit refined sugars and grains.

Stand up for exercise

Anyone who’s up on the latest health and fitness topics has probably heard about recent research that links sitting to a shortened lifespan. While that alone is a good enough reason to get moving, regular exercise is also known to reduce inflammation. As an added bonus, keeping active can also help with stress and weight gain, which are known contributors to chronic inflammation.

Be Happy to Stay Healthy

Some people are just naturally happy. These are the people you always see smiling even when the weather is bad or who never seem phased by any major changes in the workplace.

Chances are you know someone like this. But if your glasses tend to be anything but rose colored, you may think that’s just the way you are and there’s nothing you can do about it. However, everyone has the power to improve their emotional well-being and their overall health.

Why happiness matters

Generally speaking, people who are happy tend to lead a better quality of life. Happy people are hopeful in difficult times and they see opportunity in every challenge that comes along. And, while it’s not uncommon to hear people say that they are happy to have their good health, emotional health plays a very large role in physical health, so these same people just might be healthy because they are happy.

Make a conscious effort to be happy

Even if you naturally gravitate toward being negative or skeptical, with a little practice you can achieve a sunnier disposition, which will help you get more out of everything life has to offer.

Feeling out of control is one reason that people are often unhappy with the little bumps in the road life often brings. But the truth is, while you may not be able to control certain circumstances, you can always control how you react to them.

Being caught off guard is another catalyst for unhappiness. No matter who you are, where you live or what you do for a living, at some point you will encounter situations you were not prepared to handle at the time. The key to happiness in these situations is to learn to be flexible. You may not be ready for a sudden change, but if you are open minded about it you will automatically feel more positive.

Not having a plan for the future can also lead to an unhappy life. While you may not be able to prepare for everything life throws at you, having a plan for your life direction helps you move forward with a purpose.

Above all, to be truly happy you need to avoid comparing yourself to others. There may always be someone you think is a little smarter, faster or just seems to have it better than you. If you are in awe of someone else’s capabilities, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, make it an opportunity to learn from that person and to seek personal growth.

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Something So Small Can Make You Very Sick

If you have ever had water leaking from a pipe or seeping into your basement, you may be familiar with how quickly tiny mold spores can form. But many people aren’t aware that those tiny molecules can actually make you very sick.

Fortunately, when you are aware of a small incident, such as a leaky pipe, you can fix the damage right away and avoid any potentially dangerous mold growth. The real problems occur when large areas of mold are either undetected or not removed for an extended period of time.

What is mold?

Mold is a type of fungus that grows on almost any type of organic material. Because the spores are typically too tiny to see, when you find large blue, black or green patches that means there’s already significant mold growth.

Where does mold come from?

Water must be present in order for mold to grow, but the spores are easily spread through the air and can lie dormant for some time. If those spores land on a preferred food source, such as wood, paper or drywall, they will start to grow if the surface ever comes in contact with moisture.

Why is mold bad?

While mold naturally occurs in the outdoors, no one wants mold growing in their home. But for some individuals, it can become a source of debilitating illnesses. What’s even worse is that patients often experience symptoms such as head and body aches, asthma and even neurological disturbances without even realizing they are being caused by mold.

Keeping mold out

To keep mold from growing in your home, always remedy any source of moisture as soon as it’s spotted. This means making repairs, cleaning up any standing water and removing any carpet or drywall that can’t be quickly and thoroughly dried out.

Of course, it’s even better to be proactive to help avoid such situations. Be sure to check under sinks periodically for any signs of worn pipes, make sure gutters are clean and in working order to direct water away from the foundation and check for any cracks in basement floors and walls.

What if it’s too late?

If you suspect you may have a mold problem, you have probably already checked the obvious places. But make sure there is no mold hiding in your attic or crawl space that could have been caused by a leaky roof. It’s also a good idea to check around any appliances that use water, such as the clothes washer in the laundry room or the refrigerator and dishwasher in the kitchen.

Even when you are checking for mold you should wear protective gloves, goggles and a facemask. If you find mold that’s actually visible, it may be best to have it professionally tested before attempting to remove it yourself, as you could end up distributing toxic spores throughout your home if it’s not done properly.

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Is Technology Making Us Lazy?

Advancements in technology have made instant access to information and communication part of our daily lives. Although such advancements were intended to make things easier, some argue that technology has made us lazier and has hampered basic communication skills.

Many of these accusations are geared toward the younger generation, but the older generations who often make such declarations are not immune to the effects of technology, and they may be forgetting that similar statements were made by generations before them. In fact, even Albert Einstein was quoted as being fearful of the day technology surpasses human interaction, as he feared a generation of idiots would prevail.

More or less

In today’s modern society, all generations are leading increasingly hectic lifestyles. But are we jamming more into our days because we’re more motivated to make the most of our lives? More than likely it’s because advancements in technology have allowed us to accomplish more in less time, which has set a precedent for keeping up with what our neighbors, coworkers and friends are doing.

With smartphones in hand, consumers go about their busy days – running errands, going to work or picking up the kids – all while texting friends, updating social statuses, checking email, paying bills and even watching videos or catching up on a favorite show.

How doing more makes us lazy

Being able to do all of these activities simultaneously does save time and money, and just generally makes it easier to get more done during the course of a day. However, we’re so accustomed to having instantaneous access to everything and everyone that we become easily frustrated when something isn’t working quite right.

Could we be forgetting that we were somehow able to communicate and get things done before we had smartphones and the internet, or have we just gotten too lazy to do things the old fashioned way? It’s probably a little of both, but it’s clear that technology developments have certainly made things different for all generations.

Update your mindfulness

For those that criticize the younger generation’s inability to communicate without technology, be mindful of the examples you set. Instead of texting family members in your house to tell them it’s time for dinner, take the extra minute to communicate with them in person. You should also teach your children how to do things that involve face-to-face interaction in the real world.

When your teen gets a new job, take them to the bank so they learn how to access their money if they lose their ATM card. You could even send them to the grocery store with cash in hand so they learn to converse one-on-one with the cashier.

Ensuring these basic skills aren’t lost on the younger generation is important. But it’s also important to keep an open mind as to how quickly they adopt new technology, as someday we may be turning to them for help in keeping up.

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Heating Up More than Your Food

They are inexpensive and convenient, and they are in practically everyone’s kitchen. But those seemingly helpful plastic containers commonly used for storing food could pose serious health risks.

Most plastic food storage containers contain a slew of chemicals, with some being more toxic than others, but the storing part might not be the biggest problem. The bigger concern is the tendency to pop these containers out of the fridge and into the microwave.

What’s in your container?

Plastic food containers come in many shapes and sizes and can be made from any number of chemicals. Unfortunately, many of these chemicals are possible contributing factors to health problems such as various neurological disorders, high blood pressure and many other diseases and health-related issues in both young children and adults alike.

Concerns over the use of chemicals in containers that come in direct contact with the foods we eat have been around for some time. Because of this, some manufacturers have switched to alternative materials. However, there’s always the possibility that the use of new chemicals will simply bring about new health issues.

What are you really having for lunch?

Many consumers mainly use these convenient containers to take leftovers to the office for lunch or to pack healthy snacks for their kids at school. If you are like most, you may be thinking it’s not such a big deal if your food is only in them for a couple of hours.

While storing food for an hour or two might not be too bad, the real trouble starts when these same containers are used to heat up your leftovers in a microwave, as the heat can release toxic substances directly into the food. That’s probably not what you had in mind when you carefully packed your healthy, home cooked food this morning.

A safer bet

It may be a stretch to ask time-strapped consumers to avoid using the microwave altogether, but it’s not that difficult to make the switch to using only glass or ceramic containers. They may be slightly heavier to tote to work or school, and they will need to be packed a bit more carefully, but these are small sacrifices to make in order to avoid ingesting any toxic chemicals.

If you want to go a step further and cut down on your microwave use when possible, leave those leftovers at home and heat them in the oven for a quick dinner during the week. Instead, pack a chilled garden salad or homemade egg salad sandwich for your lunch.

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Prevalence of Autoimmune Diseases and Self-Diagnosis

Our immune systems are supposed to protect us against bacteria and viruses that may cause infections or diseases. Although the occurrence is somewhat rare, every now and then a person’s immune system becomes confused, allowing healthy tissues to come under attack. The occurrence of this strange phenomenon is known as an autoimmune disease.

Who’s at risk?

In the United States, the percentage of people diagnosed with an autoimmune disease is fairly low. But women and certain ethnicities seem to be affected more often.

There is also evidence that autoimmune diseases may be hereditary. This doesn’t mean that anyone with relatives who have been officially diagnosed will automatically inherit the condition. However, if anyone in your family has been diagnosed, it’s a good idea to be aware of the symptoms and check in regularly with your doctor.

Some more common than others

Although the chance of being diagnosed with one of the more than 80 autoimmune diseases known to exist may be low, there are some that are more prevalent than others. These include rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, celiac sprue disease, scleroderma, psoriasis and several others.

But I have so many symptoms

Autoimmune diseases can affect any part of the body, with the most common being joints, muscles, skin, red blood cells, blood vessels, connective tissue and endocrine glands. This is why there are many different diseases that fall within this category, but this also means there are a seemingly endless number of symptoms associated with such diseases. Some of the most common symptoms are fatigue, fever, and a general feeling of being unwell.

Unfortunately, the vast range of somewhat non-descript symptoms means that the average person who regularly turns to the internet to look up their ailments online has probably self-diagnosed themselves with one or more autoimmune diseases.

What to do

Although autoimmune diseases are very real and can be quite debilitating, they are still considered uncommon. It’s quite likely that your fatigue may be caused by something as simple as not get enough sleep, or you may be feeling unwell if you’re coming down with an illness.

However, any symptoms you’re having should be evaluated by a healthcare provider. It’s especially important to do this before you take any steps in self-diagnosis or treatment. It can be difficult even for doctors to diagnose autoimmune diseases, as many of the tests used are quite sensitive and may be impacted by any recent changes in medications, vitamins or diet.

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Clean Your Plate

Many of today’s popular diet trends promise quick fixes for all sorts of issues, with the most popular being easy weight loss. So how is clean eating any different?

For starters, it’s not a diet. Although the idea of clean eating does revolve around food, it’s a concept that encompasses various lifestyle choices. In other words, it’s about being more mindful of the food you eat, including where it came from, how it was grown and how it was prepared.

What is clean eating?

When it comes to clean eating, ingredients should be simple, high quality and as close to their natural state as possible. You should include as many unprocessed foods as possible, such as fresh produce, organic eggs, nuts and dried legumes. Minimally processed foods, such as hormone-free dairy products, unprocessed meats and unrefined grains, can also be included. To avoid harmful pesticides and other chemicals, it’s important to choose organic whenever possible.

Why clean eating is important

For many consumers, clean eating just makes sense. There’s no denying that chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity have been on the rise in developed nations. And although it isn’t always easy to pin the cause to a specific ingredient or method of processing, the list of suggested ingredients to avoid or being banned altogether seems to be growing at an alarming rate.

Many people claim that clean eating makes them feel healthier overall. Another benefit is feeling good about the foods you are serving your family, as knowing where they came from will help you make choices that are more sustainable with less impact on the environment.

Where to start

Most fad diets carry strict rules, often leading people to cheat or give up after only a short time. The difference with clean eating is you can choose to make the switch all at once or to make small adjustments at your own pace.

If you are leery about giving up some of your favorite foods or confused about how to begin, you might benefit from starting out with a few small changes.

Even just learning to read ingredient labels is a great beginning. While the ultimate goal is to avoid overly processed foods altogether, getting into the habit of checking ingredients before you buy something will train your brain to seek foods made from simple, easily identifiable ingredients. In fact, just looking up the origins of some of the unpronounceable ingredient names you will likely encounter will encourage you to continue on your path to clean eating.

Another great step for beginners is to get familiar with the produce sections of your local grocery stores. You probably already know where to find basic staples like lettuce, apples and bananas, but check out their organic options and see what other fruits and vegetables are available. This will make it easier when you are ready to take on preparing more meals from scratch at home.

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Rev Up Your Metabolism with a Few Simple Changes

If you have been attempting to shed a few pounds, focusing on all the things you can’t or shouldn’t eat may have you may feeling a bit deprived. Instead, try focusing on the healthy, fat-burning options you should actually be enjoying more of.

Of course, you still need to avoid all those high-calorie, over-processed foods, and you will still need to make it to the gym on a regular basis. But just a few simple additions to your diet and daily routine can give your metabolism the boost it needs to shed unwanted fat even faster.

Go to bed!

If you are like most people, the first thing you need more of is sleep. With today’s hectic lifestyle, it can be hard to get the recommended seven to eight hours every night. But lack of sleep can actually slow your metabolism, as your body thinks it needs to conserve energy. It can also lead to increased production of certain hormones that effect your appetite.

Just add water

Water is a basic necessity for properly maintaining our bodies’ regular functions. It flushes out waste from the digestive system and can aid in generating new skin cells. But water is especially beneficial to weight loss, as it can suppress the appetite and boost metabolism. Proper hydration levels vary depending on a person’s weight and activity level, so there is no magic formula to calculate how much water a person needs to consume. However, if you get to the point of feeling thirsty during the course of the day, you are likely already dehydrated, and any increase in consumption would be beneficial.

Fuel up

Everyone knows you need to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. But skipping meals is a bad idea, as it can significantly slow your metabolism. Instead, start your day with a good breakfast that is high in fiber and complex carbs, and add in more lean protein for your lunch and dinner. You should also consume more fruits and vegetables with every meal and as snacks throughout the day.

A better afternoon pick-me-up

That mid-afternoon energy crash can be the most difficult time for dieters looking for a quick pick-me-up to get through the rest of their work day. Instead of reaching for a candy bar or sugary soda, grab your water bottle and gym shoes, and take a 10-minute walk. Drinking water will help with your hydration goals and will curb any thoughts of hunger by keeping your stomach fuller. Even a short, fast-paced walk will burn calories and boost your metabolism for a some time after.

More time for you

After successfully getting through a long, busy work day while sticking to all your food intake goals and somehow fitting in your workout, it is important to allow time to relax. Being too stressed out can actually slow your metabolism, undoing all of your day’s hard work. Of course, this doesn’t mean sitting on the couch with a big bowl of ice cream or potato chips. Instead, try reading, meditating or whatever other activity you find relaxing.

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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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