How Vegan Bodybuilding Diet Keeps Hunger at Bay While Plant Based

I remember when I cracked the code to fat loss.It was in June 2015 and I was staring in the mirror. Traces of a sixpack had become visible. It was my first time I’d ever seen them. Ever.Since that moment on, my friends asked me jealously over and over again: “How did you do it?”I thanked them all. But they wouldn’t understand. Weight loss is simple, but not easy.

How I started the vegan bodybuilding diet

It was in the beginning of 2015 that I’d made the scary decision to stop eating animal products and started the vegan bodybuilding diet. I was a meat-head before.Poultry and rice in a tupperware was the only thing that I’d known. Readily packaged in my lunch box every morning before I left the house. While I did gain muscles with that diet I’ve felt unfulfilled. I had a lethargic attitude, with little energy.– “Is this what my life is going to be like?” I’d started to ask myself.I didn’t feel I could reach any destination with the little drive and constant fatigue that I had. People called me “Aschess” way back in high school. It’s the swiss-german word for having no drive. No interest. No direction.I didn’t have any direction. Nor did I feel I wanted to.Only later did I realize that it could all be linked to my eating habits. I was eating poison, not fuel. In hindsight, I was a monkey.

The pleasure-chasing money

Farmers and hunters in third world countries have been catching monkeys for centuries. The way they do it is by setting up a trap. A container, filled with fruits.The container contains two holes, one on the top, one on the bottom. The hole on the top is not big enough to get the food out, the fruits get sneaked in from the bottom by the trap-setters.Then they wait. Every once in a while a monkey approaches and tries desperately to retrieve the fruit through the top-hole. The farmers or hunters slowly move in but the monkey can’t let go of the fruit. It got competing demands.The monkey wants to keep the fruit more than it wants to keep its freedom. At the moment of life or death, it couldn’t let go of the enticing promise.If the monkey just surrendered what it was holding onto, it would be living a free life. At the sight of the dangerous humans, it could have dropped the food, pull out his limbs and flee the scene. Yet it didn’t. It couldn’t.Monkeys get caught with pleasure traps.Little did I know that I was also caught in a pleasure trap set up by the food industry.

Pleasure vs Motivation

I am not a big fan of Sigmund Freud and his theories. Yet what I agree with him on is that every human being deals with competing interests.At 2am in the morning, we decide that we want to better our life in an instant. The next day we catch ourselves scrolling mindlessly through Facebook.This phenomena can be explained by the motivational triad. Living beings are motivated by three things:

  1. Pleasure seeking
  2. Pain avoidance
  3. Energy conservation

These 3 motivators are omnipresent. We want to get in better shape because we seek the envious stares of our friends at the beach – we seek pleasure. Or because we hate seeing an unhealthy number on the weighing scale – pain avoidance.But probably one of the strongest motivators is energy conservation. We want to spend as little energy as we possibly can.If we expended energy like no tomorrow, we would’ve not be able to survive in scarce times.

Are you eating fuel or poison?

Our food choices are based on the motivational triad. We seek energy-dense, easy to eat food that give us maximum mouth pleasure. That’s why Nutella is so popular all around the world.Nutella is a snack, carefully formulated to appeal to our innate pleasure seeking and energy conservation factors. It’s perfectly manufactured to make us addictive.If we want to live healthy, lose weight and keep hunger at bay while eating plant-based, we have to eat fuel, not poison.

Eat fuel: The 3 distinctive factors

Filter your foods through these 3 filters and they will help you keep hunger at bay and lose weight. This helps you avoid the pleasure trap.

Filter #1: It’s vegan.

“First, nutrition is the master key to human health. Second, what most of us think of as proper nutrition—isn’t.” — Dr. Colin Campbell

If there’s one thing we have to realize, it’s that meat and dairy is not a super package.There is not a single gram of fiber to be found in animal products. Fiber helps us feel satiated and feeds our healthy gut microbiome. Also plant-based foods have up to 33 times more antioxidans than animal products.((Nutrition Journal: The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide))

Filter #2: It’s unprocessed.

Mother Nature’s powers cannot be stuffed into a pill. — Dr. Michael Greger, MD

The food is not fancy packaged. Most of the best food choices can be found in the produce isle.In processed foods we can often find added salt, sugar and other artifical sweeteners. Processed foods (even when vegan) also often contain less fiber. For example brown rice is to be preferred over white rice, because white rice is a processed product. It’s fiber content is greatly diminished.I have seen great results just by switching white rice with brown rice in my clients’ diets.

Filter #3: It’s solid.

All our calories should always come in solid form. This increases our satiety and is way more healthy.We should minimize our soda intake. Eliminating soda and smoothies out of our diets, for weight loss, can dramatically increase our progress.

What to eat in a day

This is a sample meal plan of how your day could look like. This meal plan is not meant to be followed 1:1. Pick what works for you and disregard what doesn’t.This day is taken out from my popular article:7-Day Vegan Diet Plan: Eat Healthy with Under 2,000 Calories per DayTotal stats of this plan is:1872 calories, 244g carbs (61%), 71g fat (18%), 85g protein (21%), 59g fiberFor the average women (5’4”, 126 pounds, moderately active, age: 26-45), this is a calorie deficit of about 100 calories.For the average men (5’10”, 154 pounds, moderately active, age: 26-45), this is a calorie deficit of about 700.((CNPP: Estimated Calorie Needs per Day by Age, Gender, and Physical Activity Level.))The goal deficit for sustainable weight loss is about 300 calories. For the most effective results, the average women should therefore eat a little bit less (minimize the nuts). And the average men should eat a little bit more (add handful of nuts and berries throughout the day).

Breakfast

Banana-Ginger-Pear-Bowl

(734 calories, 98g carbs, 27g fats, 32g protein, 20g fiber)Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • 1 pear, stoned
  • 1 date, stoned
  • 3 tablespoons almonds
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseeds
  • 1 tablespoon hemp flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon carob powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger
  • 250ml soy milk

Steps

  1. Cut the banana, pear, dates and almonds into pieces (size to your personal liking).
  2. Put all the ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Add the soy milk.

Lunch

Green Salad with Edamame and Beets((Eating Well: Green Salad with Edamame & Beets))

(271 calories, 30g carbs, 8g fat, 21g protein, 12g fiber)Ingredients

  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 1 cup shelled edamame
  • 1/2 medium beet, shredded
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Steps

  1. Combine greens, edamame, beet and cilantro.
  2. Top with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.

Snack

Handful of Pecan Nuts

(301 calories, 6g carbs, 31g fat, 4g protein, 4g fiber)Ingredients

  • pecan nuts

Steps

  1. Put a handful of antioxidant-rich nuts in your hands.
  2. Then eat it. Simple.

Dinner

Rice, Kale and Beans Combination

(566 calories, 110 carbs, 5g fat, 28g protein, 23g fiber)Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 200g kale
  • 2 cups Kidney Beans

Steps

  1. Cook the brown rice and the kale in a medium-sized pot.
  2. Add the kidney beans in a pan with a little bit of water.
  3. When the ingredients are ready: Drain the water.
  4. Add a tablespoon of flaxseeds (approx. 50 calories) for extra crunchiness and health.

Conclusion

We humans are caught up in pleasure traps in our dietary decisions. Too often we eat food that is silently poisoning us. It’s time to stop being a monkey.We need to fuel our precious engine instead of clogging it. Spare parts are few and there’s a waiting list. Repairing costs are expensive, especially in countries with no health coverage.Therefore we should pay special attention to where our food comes from, it’s level of manufacturing and consistency of substance.This way, we’re not only fueling our body, we’re also paving our way to our best shape ever.

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Working in the Third Trimester (The Complete Survival Guide)

When it comes to the third trimester, you are tired and uncomfortable. You’re desperately ready for the baby to make his or her debut. But this final stretch of pregnancy symbolizes a whole lot more than fatigue followed by labor and delivery whilst you continue to work your 9-5.In the third trimester you’ll start experiencing things like big feet, blotchy skin, constipation, incontinence blurry vision, bleeding gums, lacking sleep, more sickness and leaking breasts!Cheers miracle making – we can’t wait, but this is about survival. Working in the third trimester could be tough for moms, but here’s how to not just survive but thrive through your third trimester at work.

The physiology during the third trimester

The third trimester, starting at 28 weeks, comes along with a whole host of new changes in your body. The size and weight of your bundle of joy grows, consequently you’ll be kicked internally, experience lower back pain and/or pelvic pain due to the change in your centre of gravity and have a tiny person using your bladder as a cushion.Accompanying that you’ll experience swelling in your ankles, feet and hands as well as delightful disruptions in your sleep. Emotions run high and stress can elevate as you await, somewhat anxiously, the inevitable upturn of your life.You may feel as if time is running out to get everything ready, you’re not performing at your best at work and that you’re constantly tired.All of this is compounded by the physiological changes listed above and you’re guaranteed to be searching for gaining energy, vitality and maximise the rest of your time in work.It’s time to thrive at work – not just survive the third trimester.

Common obstacles at work in your third trimester

  • Clumsiness – That kind from disrupted sleep and leaves you feeling less than your best.
  • Difficulty concentrating and getting stuff done – Partly hormonal, partly lack of sleep, partly stress. All of this adds up to your mind jumping all over the place whilst at work and concentration lacking.
  • Discomfort at your desk or standing all day – Because as the weight at the front of your body increases it changes the positioning of your pelvis. The front dips forward to accommodate your bundle of joy which consequently puts pressure through your lumbar spine.
  • Frequent bathroom breaks – To pee and to try and poop as you experience constipation from a tiny person pressing on your bladder and intestines.
  • High stress levels with emotional outbursts – Because hormones and the (potential self imposed) expectations of what you’ve got to finish and do.
  • Forgetfulness – Baby brain is real. Combine the stress, the lack of sleep and any would become forgetful.
  • Pressure to complete tasks before you leave for maternity – Because you want to leave feeling accomplished and beneficial to your company.

How to survive and thrive

This really comes down to three parts: food, movement and mindfulness. There are several tools which I’ll discuss now.

Food

Whilst you’re growing a person, it’s important to realise that you needn’t ‘eat for two’. Simply adding an extra 300kCal per day is all that’s required.The most important thing to bear in mind is food quality – so enjoying a whole foods, varied diet with plenty of green vegetables, fish, smart carbohydrates and fibre.Washing this down with plenty of water. Having reached the third trimester I know you’ll be conscious of what you’re eating to provide the best for your unborn.You can use the following adjustments to make the best of your nutrition during this time.

  1. Eat small and frequent meals to allow for the compressed size of your stomach. This will reduce symptoms of heart burn and constipation.
  2. ‘Drink your food, chew your water’. Chew your food thoroughly so that it is completely combined with saliva beginning the digestion process. A good rule to use is to chew each mouthful 30 times. Chewing your water similarly combines the water with salvia so that it can be more easily absorbed by your body reducing swelling.
  3. Take time to eat away from your desk, which is something I recommend to everyone. This practice helps to lower stress, become more mindful of your meal and a mental break from your day to reduce stress.
  4. Drink so much water, which even though it means you’ll be nipping to the loo more frequently aids lymphatic flow. The lymphatic system is throughout the body and carries fluid, removes toxins and when blocked causes swollen joints. By drinking more you are turning the lymphatic system from a swamp like condition to a flowing river. This means your aching swollen joints will reduce.
  5. Focus on high nutrient dense foods which are high in volume to assist your satiety, concentration and fuel your baby’s growth. Because when you are fuelling right you feel right on the inside and out.

Movement

Regardless of whether your pregnant or not sitting OR standing ALL day isn’t good for your health. According to British Journal of Sports Medicine:((British Journal of Sports Medicine: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis))

“Every hour of television watched may reduce our lifespan by an average of 21.8 minutes. Smoking a cigarette, on the other hand, reduces our lifespan by about 11 minutes.”

The pain, clumsiness, foggy headedness, difficulty concentrating and stress of the third trimester can all be combated by movement.These movement tweaks can accompany your day whilst you’re working to thrive through your third trimester at work:

  1. Practicing breath work which will help in part to release the diaphragm which contributes to postural imbalances and has a further benefit of reducing stress. 3 to 5 times per day hug yourself wrapping your arms around your rib cage, breath into your hands so that your rib cage expands whilst keeping the shoulders down and relaxed. Breathe in for a count of 2 to 3 and out for a count of 4 to 5.
  2. Request an ergonomically suited chair to give you the utmost support taking pressure off leaning into uncomfortable positions to get closer to your computer screen to concentrate. Not only will this make your working environment more productive but it will also relieve pressure.
  3. Get up and move frequently either using a smart watch for movement tracking or setting reminders on your phone at least once per hour. Stand whilst you’re on the phone rather than remaining seated. By doing so you will improve circulation to reduce swelling as well as taking pressure off your joints.
  4. Stretch your hip flexors, the muscle at the front of your thighs. As your posture changes from the new weight distribution in your body, your quads become tight and consequently cause back pain. This is a big key hitter when it comes to removing back pain and boosting recovery post birth.
  5. Use a foam roller at your desk focusing on rolling your calves, quads, hips and chest. These areas are areas which, due to the postural changes, become very tight throughout pregnancy and beyond. Beginning foam rolling these areas now will reduce tension through your neck, shoulders and lower back whilst assisting drainage through your feet and ankles.

Mindfulness

Whatever type of birth plan you’re creating you’ll have spent and be spending time thinking of all you need to for the big day and time after. This energy that you’re putting out is essential for your peace of mind now and moving forwards.As your date comes nearer and closer by the day its more than likely your thoughts are ahead in that future. Being mindful to remain in the present is essential to remaining calm, thriving and surviving your last weeks of pregnancy.Here are four ways to remain mindful and present:

  1. Ask for help. Designate projects to people if you go into labour early. Reach out to your co-workers and delegate away things that add to your stress levels. Whilst asking for help can sometimes be uncomfortable and stressful, this habit will leave you feeling less stressed and comfortable in your role.
  2. Don’t overextend yourself as it’s ok to not promise the world. Slow down to get more done. By being realistic, you will not exhaust yourself aiming to reach unrealistic expectations leading up to your due date.
  3. Take mental health days especially if you already have kids at home. The need to get all the things done and look after the kids at the weekend can mean that you don’t have down days over the weekend. Taking time through the week will enable you to really rest and take time for yourself whilst you can.
  4. Dress comfortably in all the dresses, supportive shoes and layers. Because there is nothing more irritating than seams digging into you, tired feet and being too hot or too cold. When you’re comfortable, you’re less stressed and more calm. All good for bump and YOU.
  5. Don’t set a defined maternity leave date. Have a ball park but you may find that you become more fatigued sooner than you thought or if you start too soon that you’ll become too restless. Play by ear and listen to your body having open communication with your boss. This can massively reduce your stress and expectations enabling you to go with the flow more easily.

Final thoughts

Because this is the time that you have with yourself for the last time. You’ll have a tiny person to consume your time moving forwards. Using these three tips for each area can really help you be your best you throughout your life and work during your third trimester. It really is a time not only just to survive but to thrive.Look at each area and start with one tip to focus on for a week or two and see how it impacts your life. So for example picking to ‘drink your food, chew your water’, ‘practicing breath work’ and ‘asking for help’ are small steps that will make a huge difference.And the great thing about them is that they won’t ADD time to your day, they will actually take time and energy away. You already have to eat so eat with more consciousness. You already have to breathe so do it with awareness. You already have to do work, so ask for someone to help with what you’ve got.The third trimester is a time of anticipation and excitement for the baby’s arrival. Fear and worry about childbirth and caring for the baby after birth are common but needn’t interrupt your time at work. Using these techniques all good ways to prepare for childbirth and decrease anxiety.Some women may feel less attractive due to body changes, partner support and reassurance is very important during this time. Father’s may also feel anxious about their role in the childbirth process and question their ability to parent and provide for a larger family.Everyone may begin to feel impatient for the baby’s birth. Remember to enjoy your baby’s kicks inside you for these last few weeks and be sure to spend special time with your partner and other children- life is about to change!So, commit to yourself and do these practices and techniques for you, for now. By doing them, you’re alleviating pressure, removing pain and thriving your last trimester.

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8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

Computers and cell phones have become an integrated tool in our professional and personal lives that the original methods of using pen and paper may not be so common anymore.Although our old-school methods of note taking may not have entirely left us, technology is advancing with no intention of slowing down; iPads are moving into service industries, video calls are taking the place of in-person interviews, and store receipts are making its way into our email inbox – all of which requires the skill of typing.Learning a new skill doesn’t have to be boring and never had to be. Thankfully, there are effective games and apps that can help you learn to type fast with swift precision and accuracy.

Why typing fast matters?

Learning how to type fast is a game changer. In fact, you can save 21 days per year by typing fast!Although shaving several minutes from curating a long email or texting paragraphs in a text message may not seem to be of great significance, the minutes soon do eventually add up and the long list of tasks then evolve into frustration. By the end of the day, time is being wasted, and the work pile is stacked high over your head.Why not alleviate some of those frustrations through practice and dedicating your spare time to build muscle memory?Learning a simple skillset like speed typing can drastically improve other essential areas in life including time-management and prioritization. Not only does it help you efficiently complete tasks at work and in your personal life, but it also boosts your productivity.

8 Most effective typing games and apps

Everyone learns at different speeds and uses various methods. While some work better under pressure and tight deadlines, others thrive when given ample amounts of time to learn and soak in the knowledge that is being provided. Despite the number of resources that are available in the hollow corners of the internet, it’s all about finding one source that helps you learn at your fullest potential.Whether you’re a keyboard ninja or not, here are some effective typing games and apps that allow you to test your speed, accuracy, and maybe shoot some spaceships along the way.

For Beginners

1. Speed Typing Online

What’s more fun than to type to the story of Alice in Wonderland or the lyrics to “Hey Jude”? Speed Typing Online is an online typing game that allows you to dive into the creative and familiar world of famous books, fables, songs, and even hone your skills in data entry.The bright blue frame holds the text, which then turns green after punching in the accurate keystrokes. After the end of the personal timer, a statistics page appears to show you your typed words per minute, accuracy, correct and incorrect entries, and error rate.

2. Typing Trainer

Typing Trainer is another online platform suited for beginner typists looking for step-by-step lessons. Learning the keys on a keyboard can confusing especially for those who aren’t as familiar or getting adjusted to typing on a computer keyboard.Typing Trainer has a collection of step-by-step tutorials that covers everything from sentence drills, introduction to new keys as the lessons progress, and skills test. The Typing Trainer specifically highlights unique features in each lesson including a warm-up section where the user begin to build muscle memory and learn to type without looking at the keyboard.The website is also programed to identify difficulties the user is facing when typing specific words or sentences.

3. TapTyping – Typing Trainer

There is the feeling of physically typing on a keyboard and then there’s the feeling of typing on a touch screen mobile device.Since the use of cell phones has become closely integrated into our everyday lives, learning to type on a mobile is much of a skillset as it is to type on a computer. The mobile typing app, TapTyping – Typing Trainer, allows users to practice while on-the-go making it perfect for commuters who want to practice typing during their down time.The app allows you to challenge other typists around the world with TapTyping’s global leaderboard and test your skills by taking advanced lessons. There’s always room for improvement and with the app, you’ll be able to find your mistakes by watching a heat map of your finger strokes.

For professional writers and programmers

4. The Most Dangerous Writing App

Suitable for writers facing a creative block or on a tight-deadline, the Most Dangerous Writing App is a website that forces your fingers to type as quickly as your ideas.If you stop longer than 5 seconds, everything you had written will slowly disappear from the screen.Sessions are timed from 3 minutes to 20 minutes, or can go from 75 to 1667 words. This online app is perfect to brain dump ideas, write a chapter of a manuscript you’ve been stuck on, or help with procrastination.If you’re up to the challenge, try the hardcore mode – an alternative option where a single letter appears on the screen at a time. This level prevents you from seeing the entire word, sentences, or even correct any spelling or grammatical mistakes until the timer is complete.If you’re wondering, copying and pasting is not an option until each the end of each session.

5. The Typing Cat

Looking to upgrade your typing skills? Also working as a personal tutor, the Typing Cat has a list of regular typing courses with the option to try other lessons with more complexity such as HTML. Learning to type code is a another valulable skillset worth adding.Even with disregarded interest in the coding world, using the code course enhances your typing skills and allows your fingers to familiarize itself with uncommon word combinations and placement of punctuations on a keyboard.The coding course can be difficult even for typing whizzes, but it’s all a part of muscle memory. According Psychology Today,((Psychology Today: The Mysterious Neuroscience of Learning Automatic Skills)) only a handful of people actually learn how to type by looking at an actual keyboard, while a majority of the population locate specific keys intuitively through muscle memory.Available courses include EcmaScript 6, HTML 5, and CSS 3.

Fun typing games

6. ZType — Space Invaders Meet Webster

Remember playing the iconic 70’s game that allowed you to shoot tiny purple and green aliens from one end of the screen to the other with a two-bullet laser? It’s hard to believe that Space Invaders just turned 40 , but you can still get the same adrenaline rush with ZType, a typing game with the same shooting concept.Ztype works in waves – stages that must be cleared but instead of aliens, you must type out the words before the missiles destroy your ship at the bottom of the screen. Every so often, longer and mor complex words would appear and if the words are not typed in the allotted time, a series of letters will disperse like missles.The game is quick on the fingers and will still have your heart pumping until the very end.

7. Epistory – Typing Chronicles

Although this game does cost money to purchase, it is worth the investment if you’re looking for a refreshing and alternative mode to learning how to type fast.Epistory – Typing Chronicles is a role-playing action and adventure game of a young girl riding a fox in a magical and fictional realm; together they combat enemies in the shapes and forms of words.Once you’re starterted, you almost forget you’re playing a typing game. The paper craft art aesthetics of the game has you captivated by the vibrant colors and character’s storyline, while having you build your typing skills.

8. Daily Quote Typing

Need some inspiration? Say no more.Daily Quote Typing is one of many gammes available on Wordgames.com – a website that offers a variety of typing games ranging from different levels based on your experience.With Daily Quote Typing, users are able to type out inspirational quotes by famous leaders, inventors, and innovators such as Mark Twain and Albert Einstein.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, discipline and patience is what teaches to type faster. It comes down to making that commitment to improving not only your typing abilities, but in a lifelong skill that benefits other areas in life.By practicing daily and using effective games and apps, its only a matter of time before keystrokes will become second nature and your brain will adapt to learning other skills faster.

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12 Pieces of Child Rearing Advice for Today’s Modern Family

Children aren’t born with a manual on how to be raised. Every child is different and thus there is not a perfect way to raise all children. However, there are some best practices for raising children. Below are 13 practical tips that are good bits of child rearing advice for all parents.

1. Believe in your child

Parents need to be their child’s encourager and cheerleader in life. If their parents aren’t doing that for them, then who will?The power of a parent’s belief in their child’s ability to achieve can help that child feel that they can do just about anything. This empowers the child to try harder and to give their best when they have supportive parents who believe in their abilities.When parents believe in their child, they are helping their child to believe in themselves as well. Children learn that they are capable human beings who can achieve their goals when they have parents who believe in their abilities.The belief in themselves begins with someone believing in them first. It should be a parent who shows belief in their child and their abilities from a very young age.Kids can be very hard on one another. They pick on each other about their appearance, their ability to play sports, and more. The things that kids say to one another can be very damaging and defeating.However, having a parent who believes in them and their abilities can counteract the negativity from their peers.For example, your son may be getting ready for field day at school and he is feeling down because another child in class told him that he is going to lose at the 100 meter dash. You know that your child has been practicing for weeks and has beaten all the kids in his class previously.All it takes is a reminder of those previous wins and a pep talk about how hard work pays off to motivate your child. You tell your son that he can win and that you believe in his abilities. His attitude changes from one of defeat to one that is full of motivation, energy, and positivity. He is now ready to run the race tomorrow and do his best because you believed in him.

2. Let your child get dirty

Let your child have opportunities to get dirty. When kids play in dirt, mud, and nature they are engaging all five of their senses. Don’t miss the opportunities for their creativity to bloom while they play in nature.Nature is dirty, but that is okay. They have plenty of time in life to be sterile and clean. They need to get messy for the sake of their development.For example, when they are outside playing in a sand box with mud caked all over their arms and face, with toys strewn everywhere, it looks like a big mess to you. To that child, they may be creating an imaginary meal masterpiece with the sand and mud.The child is using their creativity, engaging their senses, and they are completing a project that is their own creation. Don’t rob them of these opportunities to flourish and develop, simply because you want them to stay clean. Allow them to flourish by getting in the dirt, mud, and nature.

3. Child rearing is not a competition

Some parents throw the best birthday parents, some have the best dressed kids, and others make healthy, organic meals three times a day. Each parent has a different skill set and passion, just as every child is different.Do what is right for your child. Don’t do things just because other parents are doing it. An old saying goes “Keep your eyes on your own paper.” The same goes with parenting. Keep your eyes on your own child. Do what is right for your child and don’t worry about what others are doing.The same mantra goes for milestones. Some kids walk at 9 months of age while others begin walking at 15 months. It doesn’t mean that one will be running the Boston Marathon as an adult and the other child won’t.It’s okay that children reach their milestones at different ages. Every child is different because they weren’t made as robots. If you are concerned about your child achieving their milestones in a timely manner, then listen to professionals not simply other parents. You will find that there is a considerable amount of flexibility in milestone achievement.For example, you have a friend whose 24-month-old toddler is using full sentences and has a vocabulary of over 100 words. Your 24-month-old only has a vocabulary of 40 words. You begin to feel that there may be something wrong with your child or that they aren’t smart.However, if you know that the standard for language development for a 24-month-old is that they should be speaking 40-50 words, you can have some peace of mind. You will have friends with children who excel in a variety of areas. Some will have children who are fully bilingual at a young age, and others will have children who can read by age three or four.These children are not the norm. Some people are blessed with very gifted children. Most of us are blessed with the norm, which is why it is called “normal.”Celebrate and love your normal child right where they are at because there are others who wish for a “normal” child. Every child is different with gifts and abilities of their own. Focus on the gifts of your own child. Parenting is not a competition. Simply do your best, raising the child that you have.

4. Safety first

Your goal of the first three years of your child’s life is to keep them alive. My mother once said this to me and I realized it’s true.Having made it through the first three years with three different children, I know that keeping my kids alive is first and foremost. This means that keeping them safe during those early years is the most important factor in their care.Of course you need to meet their basic needs. Feed them, change them, love them, but make sure they are safe first, otherwise the care becomes meaningless.For example, if you are feeding your toddler in a high chair be sure that they are strapped in, so they can’t climb out and fall on their head. Feeding them is important, but make sure they are safe and secure in their high chair first. Safety is always first.

5. Take a CPR and first aid course

Take a CPR and first aid course. Believe me, you never know when you will need these learned skills. When emergencies happen, you need to know how to handle things.Don’t think you can jump on your phone and YouTube how to do CPR when you need to be administering it to your child. Panic sets in when you don’t have the knowledge. Prepare yourself for potential emergencies by knowing what to do when a crisis arises.For example, our first born son went into cardiac arrest one evening. My husband began CPR. He had learned CPR years previously and I had learned it more recently. I coached my husband on what to do as he was doing it. We worked together to do CPR while waiting for the ambulance. According to the doctors at the hospital, the CPR that my husband did kept our son alive. We didn’t know in advance that we would ever be doing CPR on our own baby. However, having the training in our personal tool belt saved our son’s life that evening. There have been other instances where I have had to use the Heimlich Maneuver on my children and thus am thankful I took the CPR and first aid training classes.Don’t wait to enroll in a class because no emergency has happened in your home yet. Chances are that some kind of emergency will arise whether it is choking, a gaping wound, broken bones, head injury, or some other crisis that requires a level head and the skills to help your child.Be prepared for those situations by taking a CPR and first aid class. Most are just a few hours. The Red Cross provides a search tool on their website, so that you can find these classes near you.

6. Potty train when they are ready

Kids will start using the potty when they are ready. If you put undue pressure on a child to potty train, it likely will not result in successful potty training. They need to be ready and wanting to use the potty to make potty training a success.Don’t miss their cues when they are ready. There are some things you can do to help prepare them for the act of potty training, but don’t force the issue.For example, you can buy them their own potty training toilet for them to practice sitting on it, you can read them children’s books about potty training, and you can let them pick out their own underwear at the store. These things will help them prepare for potty training and one day they will decide that they are ready.When they are ready you will know. They will one day be a willing participant in the process, wanting to wear big boy or big girl undies and go in the toilet. Until they show an interest or desire, you are more than likely wasting your time.In some cases, parents extend the time it takes to potty train because it has become a traumatic experience for them with forceful potty training methods. Don’t force your child to go on the potty. It will not help you or them.Do yourself and them a favor and wait until they appear ready. When they appear ready, help motivate them to be successful by using sticker charts, rewards, or other methods that are proven to work for potty training children.

7. Kids desire structure

Kids have an innate desire for rules, structure, and boundaries. They also do better when routines are established. This doesn’t mean that they need or want parents who are dictators with little flexibility. Instead, they need boundaries with rules clearly explained; to help them grow and thrive to be the best people they can be.Consistency with the rules is also essential. For example, a child who doesn’t have a regular bedtime and gets yelled at one night for staying up too late, while the next night they stay up even later and there is no consequence, results in confusion for the child regarding their bedtime. Letting the child know that their bedtime is 8:00 PM every school night, so that they can get the sleep they need, sets a specific boundary and rule that helps them be more successful in school.Setting a specific time makes the rule known and their bedtime is no longer a guessing game. Kids want to know what is expected of them. They also want to have routines that they can reply upon. Routines make them feel secure. Having rules and structure also helps prepare them for adulthood and the real world.When kids don’t have structure, it makes them feel out of control. This can lead to feelings of anxiety. Teens especially need structure, but many parents think this is when kids need more flexibility and leniency. However, this leniency can lead to teens feeling that their life is out of control.They need rules and structure, but they also need to understand that the rules are for their benefit because you love them. This is why it is helpful for parents to explain to their child or teen why they have the rules that they have.For example, you set a midnight curfew for your teen and they ask why, to which you respond “I am the mom that’s why I set the curfew, so you need to obey.” They are likely to rebel to such a parental response. Instead, stating “I set the curfew because I need to know that you are home by that time and safe, because I love you” is likely to help them understand you are setting a curfew out of love and care for them.

8. Character develops by example

What you do matters. Your child is watching you. You are your child’s role model whether you want to be or not. Their morality and character is developed in the home first. They are watching you and your behaviors.Be the person you want them to grow up to become. Practice good decision-making when it comes to character and morality if you want them to become good, decent human beings.For example, if you are playing a board game with them, don’t cheat. If you cheat they learn that it is okay to cheat at board games. Cheating can become a slippery-slope. It can grow from board games into cheating in school or on exams.Don’t set your child up for trouble by being an example of how to cheat. Instead, be an example of integrity and strong character by playing honestly, even if it does mean losing.

9. Let your child be a child

Don’t make your child grow up too fast. Let them experience life at the age they are at; Because they are only little once.Don’t expect them to act like miniature adults. Kids are different than adults. Children tend to be more physically active than adults, they need more sleep, and they are naturally highly curious.Allow them to be kids, by keeping your expectations of them aligned with the fact that they are children and not adults. Let them run and play. Requiring a two year old to sit still and be quiet for hours on end is not realistic.For example, you want to expose your toddler to culture and the arts, so you purchase tickets to the symphony. You take your two-year-old to a three hour concert one evening and are sorely disappointed that they won’t sit still. To make matters worse, they are loud and disruptive to the other patrons. You had good intentions, but it would have probably better served both you and your child to attend a Mommy and Me music class that features classical music.That way you can expose them to the arts and culture in a fun, child-centered atmosphere that allows kids to act like kids. Therefore, do set yourself and your child up for failure by expecting them to act older than they are in any situation.

10. Use help

Babysitters can help you remain a sane person. If hiring a nanny or babysitter isn’t in your budget then find a friend who can exchange childcare with you. You watch their little one and they watch yours; which also makes it a playdate for your child. This is a win-win situation.Parents need down time. If you are a full time caregiver for your child, make sure you have a break every now and then. You will be a better caregiver when you take time for yourself.Don’t think that because you are the parent that you need to do it all by yourself. It takes a village to raise a child. Embrace your village and allow them to help you.Take breaks for yourself away from your child so you can recharge yourself. You will come back a better person, ready to parent and better take on the challenges of parenting because of the down time you took.

11. Let your child experience failure

Do not rescue your child every time they are headed for failure. Allow your child to fail. Especially when they are young. Let them learn early about how it feels to fail and how to recover from failure. Be there by them to walk them through the experience, but don’t rescue them from their failure.For example, your child is working on a school project that involves building a tower and you can see that the end result will fall apart because they haven’t made the base strong enough. You tell your child that they should make the base stronger. They don’t want to do it your way. They are insistent on doing it their way.Do not fix their project after they go to bed. The next day when they go to school and it falls over after they bring it into the classroom they can do their best to repair the structure on their own. You provided guidance along the way and they declined.Don’t force your way to prevent them from failing. Allow them to fail in this because they need to experience what failure feels like and how to recover. Will your child fall apart, breaking down, and crying or will they pick up the pieces and repair the tower as quickly and effectively as they can? You can help coach them by asking “If the tower does tip over when you get it into school, how do you think can repair it?”.You aren’t doing it for them. You are helping them mentally prepare for the potential failure before it happens. There will be instances when you can help them problem solve solutions. This is always better than swooping in to rescue them.Someday you won’t be there to rescue and help your child. You want to help instill in them skills like resilience, so they can help themselves when they do face failure.

12. Don’t miss their childhood

They are only little once. Childhood can’t be repeated. Don’t miss out on their childhood by working too much. Your children want you more than they want stuff.Make a good balance of work and time with your child so that you are an active and vibrant part of their childhood.

The bottom line

Children grow up in spite of their parents. So don’t be too hard on yourself.We all make mistakes as parents. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. Kids will grow up in spite of the mistakes we make.Learn and grow from your mistakes. Children grow and we grow with them, just as we learn to do better and be better as parents. Just do your best and that will earn you plenty of forgiveness from your kids.

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The Positive Impact That Drinking Healthy Tea Can Bring to Your Life

Tea is the beverage of choice for a number of people across myriads of cultures. Whether you work in your dream job or run your own business, stress and the numerous problems associated with it will always hang around to haunt you.Luckily, there is a simple solution and it only requires you to savor every sip. It’s the kind of beverage that has had an immense significance culturally in different parts of the world.In this article, we’ll look into the many benefits of a healthy tea, and the kind of teas that make you healthier.

Why should you include tea as part of a healthy lifestyle?

Having too much caffeine on a daily basis can wreck your system and cause a negative impact on your body. Have you felt your heart race after your fourth cup of coffee? The general discomfort and restlessness caused by too much caffeine are not unknown.Consuming caffeine moderately, on the other hand, is said to provide health benefits like keeping diabetes at bay and supplying a rich dose of antioxidants to your body, which are known to positively affect your immunity.Surprisingly, tea tends to tick these boxes effectively making it a desirable beverage for a healthy life.There is a vast variety of teas that you can choose from. Some teas, like black tea and green tea, have some amount of caffeine in them while some like chamomile and peppermint are herbal in nature and are brewed by soaking the leaves and flowers in hot boiling water for a few minutes.

Healthy teas and their positive impact

Irrespective of the caffeine content in the tea, each type of tea possesses unique components within them that impart the tremendous benefits to bring about a positive change in your daily life.

1. Black tea helps keep digestive troubles at bay

The next time you suffer from a bout of diarrhea, avoid popping the pill. Instead, brew yourself some black tea and squeeze some fresh lemon or lime in it.Drinking this lemon flavored black tea relieves you of the discomfort and bloating caused by diarrhea. Black tea is rich in tannins, which are known to possess anti-inflammatory properties. Not only does it help with an upset stomach, but also regular consumption of black tea creates an environment for better digestion in your body.

2. Green tea is a natural remedy for IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is known to affect a large chunk of the global population. If you suffer from IBS, you may attest to the fact that even the mildest of triggers can cause a flare-up leaving you in a miserable state for hours at end.Introducing green tea as a part of your diet can dramatically help ease your conditions. Green tea contains polyphenols that help to ease the inflammation caused to intestines due to IBS.((Real Simple: 6 Healthy Types of Tea))

3. Green tea helps you burn more calories

If you love being fit and active, you may want to start including a cup of tea as part of your daily diet.Green tea specifically is known to positively affect your metabolic rate.((Nursing Degree: 33 Health Benefits of Drinking Tea)) This fires up the calorie burning process. If you’ve hit a plateau in your workout and just can’t seem to shed those last few pounds, green tea may be one of the solutions that can help you immensely with reaching your fitness goals.

4. Lemon tea helps you recover from the cold and flu

There is an endless variety of herbal teas that you can brew at home. The different kinds of teas help aim a certain kind of uneasiness you may be facing and effectively nips them in the bud.Take for instance the most common kind of flu and hay fever. As seasons change, your body may sometimes take a while to adjust to these changes leaving you feeling tired and with a runny nose or constant bouts of sneezing.If you have fallen prey to a seasonal flu or hay fever, start including a cup of lemon tea in your daily routine and watch the illness disappear just as quickly as it emerged.Lemon tea helps open up the nasal passage. Constant coughing and sneezing can cause swelling of the throat. Drinking lemon tea helps contract this passage, which helps ease the symptoms. To make your lemon tea even tastier, you can add a dollop of honey and some spices.

5. Green tea keeps food poisoning away on your travels

The excitement of traveling to a place you’ve been wanting to tick off your bucket list is incomparable. The sheer joy of experiencing a new culture and the delicious foods a place has to offer is exciting and makes traveling an exciting affair.However, falling ill on your trip, particularly being hit by food poisoning can put a damper on your trip.An effective solution to stay healthy when traveling is to sip on green tea regularly on your travels.((WOLO: 20 Tips to Stay Healthy on Your Vacation)) Green tea is rich in Catechin. It is this substance that gives it its distinctive bitter taste. The bacteria known to cause food poisoning cannot survive in the presence of catechin.

6. Chamomile tea helps you sleep better and overcome stress

Stress in today’s day and age is inevitable. The need to be successful comes with its own baggage that can zap your sleep and leave you with a pit in your stomach.Depression and anxiety are at an all-time high and in such taxing times, a cup of chamomile tea can be that superhero that doesn’t always wear a cape.((Readers Digest: 14+ Ways to Use Tea to Ease What Ails You)) Simply taking in the aroma of this tea as it brews is enough to take the edge off the day’s stress.If the subsequent stress is keeping you awake all night, a cup of this soothing tea before bed can help you sleep better leaving you feeling fresh, productive and ready to take on a new day.

7. Green tea gets you a glowing acne-free skin

You may spend thousands on expensive skin creams that promise results within a week. However, they pale in comparison with natural remedies that are not just pocket-friendly but cleanse your system from the inside out.Green tea is one such remedy. If you’ve been struggling to get those breakouts under control, skip the skin cream and include green tea in your diet. The fact that tea is rich in antioxidants helps keep your skin healthy and glowing.In addition to the green tea, it is also necessary to clean up your overall diet to include fresh and natural ingredients and limited consumption of processed foods.

8. Black tea and green tea get you a healthy heart

With tea, it all boils down to the immensely rich antioxidants that it boasts of. The presence of these elements in tea instantly offers myriads of benefits that can help you lead a wholesome and happy life, a healthy heart being one of the many benefits.Particularly, black and green tea tend to have exceptional heart health benefits. The likelihood of suffering from cardiac arrest is much lower if you enjoy drinking your black tea.Similarly, as a green tea drinker, you can be assured that your cholesterol levels will be much lower. This is owed to the fact that it dramatically lowers the LDL and triglyceride levels in the body. In addition to this, HDL, which is known as the good cholesterol increases enormously with green tea consumption.

9. Green tea helps you live a diabetes-free life

Tea is rich in certain elements like polysaccharides and catechin, which can greatly affect the blood sugar levels, keeping them low. This helps keep diabetes at bay.Green tea, in particular, has a much higher level of polyphenols, thereby massively reducing your chances of developing type 2 diabetes by encouraging a healthy and normal functioning of insulin.

10. Tea can strengthen your immunity

Tea is rich in antioxidants. Not only is it an excellent way to slow down your aging, it can also dramatically impact your immune system, making it much stronger. The antioxidants in tea help in cell regeneration and repair, therefore, you are much less prone to falling ill in an environment harboring cold and flu symptoms.If recent studies are to be believed, the antioxidants found in a single cup of tea is about five times more than an average fruit or vegetable. Your afternoon tea ritual may well help your overall health and wellness by keeping flu and diseases at bay, helping you fight stress and keep your fitness levels in check.

11. Tea helps you stay hydrated throughout the day

Caffeinated beverages are known to cause dehydration in the body. However, this only stands true if you consume caffeine in very high amounts by drinking over 6 cups of coffee or tea in a day.Moderate consumption of tea on a daily basis provides as much hydration as water with the added benefits of rich antioxidants. This is true more so in the case of herbal teas as they have absolutely no caffeine in them.

12. Drinking tea gets you a bright and beautiful smile

Tea has had a bad reputation in the past and has been blamed for poor dental hygiene. This couldn’t be further from the truth.Tea is rich in fluoride and tannins.((Eat Right: The Health Benefits of Tea)) These substances are known to suppress the growth of bacteria on your teeth, keeping them healthy and bright. Savor your daily cuppa and you will find that plaque build-up reduces dramatically and your instances of cavities are diminished drastically.

13. Your daily cuppa can strengthen your bones

It has been established that people who drink tea on a regular basis tend to have higher bone density. Tea is rich in phytochemicals, flavonoids being one of them, which are responsible for bone health.Including tea in your daily life can be particularly advantageous in your older years by preventing the occurrence of rheumatoid arthritis in the future.((Fitness: Steep Perks: Why Drinking Tea Is Good for Your Health))

14. Tea is a healthy companion for your brain

A cup of tea can help you focus on your work better by substantially improving your attention span. Drinking tea regularly also has a positive impact on the functioning of your brain and the neurological processes associated with it.Therefore, tea can considerably help in keeping Parkinson’s disease at bay. It has also been found that while drinking tea can’t stop Alzheimer’s, it can significantly slow it down.

Conclusion

Tea is not just a warm hug on a cold winter evening, it is chock full of all the good nutrients that can help nourish your mind, body, and soul.Including it as part of your daily routine can massively impact your lifestyle, keeping you happy and healthy. Whether you enjoy caffeine or prefer going the herbal route, you have a variety of options at your disposal to pick a tea that suits your needs.So, get the kettle going, brew yourself a nice hot cuppa and savor the little moments in life:How to Steep a Perfect Cup of Tea Every Single Time

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7 Memory Boosters Straight from Nature That Actually Work

Forgot a name? Misplaced your keys? Taking longer to find the right words? Don’t panic. There’s plenty you can do to improve your memory.You’re probably expecting us to reveal 7 little known and newly discovered herbs from the forests of the Amazon, the peaks of the Himalayas and the Arctic tundra. No such luck.Despite Americans spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on Ginkgo Biloba, Ashwagandha, Periwinkle, Bacopa, Vitamin B’s, Omega 3’s and memory boosting supplement cocktails, there is very little scientific evidence they actually work. ((Consumer Reports: Do Memory Supplements Really Work?))Instead, we’re going to offer you 7 completely natural memory boosters, backed up by scientific research. It may take a little more effort than a magic memory pill, but the benefits will transcend your memory and improve your overall quality of life as well, making you more fit, energetic, happy and sharp.

How Do We Remember?

The first process in remembering is creating a memory.This is where our brain sends a signal, associated with a thought, event or piece of information our mind is processing, over our brains neural pathways, called synapses.Think of our neural pathways like roads and information like trucks. The better the roads, the more trucks can be driven.The second step in remembering is memory consolidation.Consolidation is when the brain takes that thought, event or piece of information and actually stores it in the brain. So now we’re talking about taking delivery of the trucks and storing its contents in the warehouse.Consolidation helps us store information and label it properly, so its organized and easy to retrieve when needed.The last step is memory retrieval.That’s the step whereby we try to retrieve the information stored in our brains. You know when you have the name of someone on the tip of your tongue.You have the information; it’s been stored, but you just can’t find it. Our memory recall is typically better the stronger the memory is and the more often we’ve used it.Memory decline is a normal part of aging. However, new scientific research is discovering many new ways for us to improve memory creation, consolidation and retrieval–no matter our age.

1. Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic activity is about as close as we get to a magic pill for our memories. Exercise helps your brain create new capillaries and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which creates new brain cells and connections. To put it in plain english, aerobic activity changes our brains and helps it grow.Studies have shown that exercising increases the size of the hippocampus and improves memory. In fact, even if you start exercising as an older adult, you can reverse cognitive decline by 1 to 2 years and protects against further decreases in the size of the hippocampus, which is essential for memory. ((NCBI: Exercise Increases Size of Hippocampus and Improves Memory))In another study, reviewed by Dr. Ian Robertson of the University of Dublin, they looked at a group of people of 60 years and older, who engaged in “active walking” for four months.They compared them with another group of people who only stretched over the same period of time. After testing both groups before and after the 4 month period, the walkers improved their memory and attention considerably more than the stretching group.So which exercises are best and how much do we have to exercise?Turns out, it doesn’t really matter whether you run, swim, row or bike. What does matter is that you push yourself beyond your current abilities, keep doing more, keep getting better. Set yourself short term goals and keep pushing the goal posts.

2. Sleep

You need your sleep. The deeper the better. Sleep helps improve your procedural memory (how to do things, like how do I navigate my iPhone) and declarative memory (facts, like what’s my password). ((NCBI: Sleep Improves Memory))Even short naps from 6 to 45 minutes have been shown to improve your memory. In one Harvard study, college students memorized pairs of unrelated words, memorized a maze and copied a complex form. All were tested on their work. Half were then allowed to take a 45 minute nap. They were then retested. Those who took a nap, got a boost in their performance. ((Harvard: Sleep Helps Learning, Memory))Another study showed that getting REM (deep) sleep can increase your memory and mental performance by 33% to 73%. Getting a deep sleep helps the brain consolidate memories through dreams and “associative processing”. However, the study also revealed that heart rate variability in deep sleep also contributed significantly to increased memory performance. ((Observer: How a Nap Can Improve Memory by 33%))

3. MIND Diet

Healthy eating, particularly more dark colored fruit, vegetables and oily fish has been shown to improve memory and stave off cognitive decline.The MIND diet is proven to reduce the risk of dementia. It’s a mix of the popular Mediterranean diet and the low blood pressure DASH diet. ((NCBI: Mind Diet Associated with Reduced Risk of Alzheimers))The study kept track of the diets of almost 1,000 older adults. They were followed for an average of 4½ years.The study concluded that “people whose diets were most strongly in line with the MIND diet had brains that functioned as if they were 7½ years younger than those whose diets least resembled this eating style.”The study also showed that people who followed the MIND diet in the study reduced their chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease in half.So what does the MIND diet consist of? Lots of vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, berries, beans, fish, poultry, olive oil, whole grains and wine.

4. Relax

We all know that stress is bad for our health. It can raise our blood pressure, impact our immune system and interrupt our sleep. Stress also impairs our memory.When our body gets stressed, it releases cortisol into our blood stream, which can cause short and long term physical changes to the brain. While cortisol has sometimes been shown to cause increases in short term memory, it can actually decrease our long term recall memory.To help reduce the stress in your life, try relaxing with meditation, yoga or breathing exercises. Unplug–even for just a few hours. Stop checking your emails, social accounts and news. Release some endorphins with some exercise.Bottom line, the more anxious and stressed we are, the less clearly we think, the poorer our memory works.

5. Keep Learning

The mind is like a muscle. The more you challenge it, the stronger it gets. The more you learn, the more you can learn.Research shows that learning can actually change the physical makeup of your brain. Not too long ago, we used to think that you were born with a fixed amount of brain cells, which declined with age. New research now shows that we can actually increase the number of brain cells we have throughout our life.Aside from staying physically active, learning new skills and studying can actually keep our brains healthier. Consider taking a continuing education class, studying a new language, learning a new instrument, playing new card games. ((Harvard: Learning a New Skill Can Slow Cognitive Aging))Studies show that the more complex the task, the more benefits for your mind. Simply showing up to class is not enough. You need to be actively engaged. Anything that forces you to focus and learn something new and get out of a rote routine will help you sharpen your mind and boost your memory.

6. Stay Social

The more deep and meaningful social connections you maintain, the more you protect your brain. Bottom line, the more friends you have, the more people you work with, the more you’re forced to use your brain.Social isolation and loneliness are significant risks of dementia. Without interacting with others, our brains wilt. Isolation and loneliness lead to depression, physical and mental decline. ((Research Gate: Loneliness and Cognitive Functioning in the Older Adult))In a 2016 study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, seniors with a full social calendar did better on memory, reasoning, and processing speed tests. ((Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience: The Busier the Better, Greater Busyness Associated with Better Cognition))What to do?Party! Seriously, get together with friends as often as possible. Have family dinners. Choose social activities or sports like tennis, golf, cards or go for walks with a friend. Bottom line have fun, build meaningful social relationships and stay connected. Not only will it make your mind sharper and your memory better, you’ll be happier, too!

7. Wakeful Rest

This one is getting harder and harder to do. In a world where we can’t sit on a bus, go up an elevator or go to the bathroom without our phones, doing absolutely nothing to distract our minds is becoming increasingly difficult.But, the results are in. Doing nothing is great for your memory. Quietly resting for 10 minutes, after you learn something will help you remember and help you create more detailed memories. ((Neuroscience News: Quiet Rest Helps Us Retain Detailed Memories))What we do minutes after we learn something new has a significant impact on how well we retain the new information. In another study, it didn’t matter what you did after you learned something new, as long as you weren’t distracted by outside factors. In other words, you could be thinking of your day, making a grocery list, or thinking of a story. In either case, wakeful rest for a period of 10 minutes helped the brain process and consolidate your memories so that you were better able to recall the information at a later date. ((Live Science: Wakeful Rest May Boost Memory))

Conclusion

You don’t have to spend a dime on cocktails and supplements promising a quick boost to your memory power. There is very little conclusive scientific evidence suggesting supplements will help improve the memories of healthy individuals–not for Ginkgo Biloba, Vitamin B, fish oils, Vitamin D, Folate or other supplements claiming they a secret formula.There are far cheaper and more effective ways to boost your memory: exercise, rest, eat well, learn, love, laugh and relax. Who wouldn’t want that prescription?

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5 Killer Stomach Workouts for Impressive Abs

Having a well-chiseled six pack is the ultimate fitness goal for many people. And it’s okay if you want some as well.Having a strong core is of vital importance – not just for aesthetics, but also for improved strength and overall health.But there’s a problem – many people never succeed in carving out the core of their dreams! For some people, the problem lies in their approach to working out, while others have got their feeding wrong. Either way, there’s a remedy and you can commence your journey to an impressive six pack – starting today!In this article, we’ll go over the role nutrition plays in carving out the body of your dreams, as well as non-sexy reasons for having a strong core.I’ll also be sharing some proven stomach workouts and core exercises that’ll help you carve out an impressive ab and then I’ll cap it up by revealing the fool-proof formula for carving out that magazine-worthy core that you desire. So, be sure to stick around to the end, okay?

Why you need rock-solid abs

Believe it or not, there’s actually more to having a strong core than just good looks. Core muscles are required for just about everything we do on daily basis, from sitting, to walking, running and throwing things around.Before we go any further, though, you should probably know that there’s more to core muscles than just the abdominals (abs), it also includes hip and pelvic muscles, as well as mid and lower back muscles. All these muscles work synergistically to support movement and maintain stability. Here are some benefits of having strong core:

1. It helps your posture.

When you engage in core-strengthening exercises, the thorough working of the torso helps to maintain a balanced posture. The posture balance in turn helps to reduce the risk of vertebrae degeneration and disc herniation…in other words, bad conditions for your spinal cord.

2. It reduces back pain.

Having a strong core also helps to alleviate back pain by providing adequate support for the spine. Research has also revealed that having strong core muscles reduces the risk of back injury during workouts.((Journal of Novel Physiotherapies: Effects of Core Strengthening on Cardiovascular Fitness, Flexibility and Strength on Patients with Low Back Pain))

3. It improves athletic performance.

You’re going to have a hard time finding a sport that doesn’t rely heavily on core muscles for effective performance. From running, to rowing, baseball, football and tennis, every sport you could possible think of engages the core in one way or the other.So, if you’re planning to become an athlete, then strengthening your core is absolutely indispensable.

4. It makes life easier on-the-job.

Life will become a whole lot easier for you on the job if you can manage to strengthen your core. And the reason is simple – just about every activity you engage in at work engages your core…from standing to lifting, twisting and even sitting.So, if you’d like to be a bit more comfortable and energetic at work, then strengthening your abs and back muscles would be a great place to start.

Nutritions you need for impressive abs

Alright, before we dive into which exercises you should start focusing on, let’s talk about the most important factor in building an impressive figure – what you eat.If you’re a frequent gym goer, then chances are that you’ve overheard this common saying among gym rats – “abs are made in the kitchen.” Well…they’re not wrong!Doing 1,000 crunches per day won’t give you magazine-worthy six packs if you’ve got your nutrition wrong. Okay, here’s how it works:Ab exercises are aimed at strengthening your core muscles, not revealing them.In other words, you may have a strong core, but until the fat layer above it is torched, it will stay hidden.This is why your first course of action should be weight loss…which begins with a proper diet.((Premium Health Writer: Why Nutrition is Important in Your Weight Loss Program)) Your daily diet should contain the right amount of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).So, in order to save yourself a whole lot of frustration and headache down the line, you need to ditch junk foods and start eating clean foods.

5 Amazing stomach workouts for rock-solid abs

Before diving into the specific workouts that will finally send your abs out of hiding, there are a couple of anatomical jargon you need to be familiar with. These are just fancy names for the muscles that make up the abs and they are:

  • Rectus abdominis (front abs commonly known as six-packs)
  • Internal and external obliques (side abs found around the waist).

Got it? Great! Keep those in mind because I’ll be mentioning them a lot in the coming paragraphs.Now, let’s move on to the actual workouts:

1. Crunches

Regardless of the negative media crunches may have received over the years, one thing is for certain – it works…when done correctly!Crunches are great for eliciting muscle activity in the rectus abdominis and this helps greatly in strengthening those muscles.

How to do the traditional crunch
  • Lie on your back, bend your knees and place your feet closely together and flat on the floor. You may want to hold on to something with your toes to make it easier.
  • Place your hands behind your head (without interlocking them) or place them across your chest.
  • Keep your elbows open to the sides.
  • Gently tighten and pull in your abs.
  • Curl forward lifting your head and shoulder blades off the floor towards your knee.
  • Hold it for a moment and lower back down slowly.

Several variations of the traditional crunch have been developed to focus on other core muscles ignored by regular crunches. One of these is the bicycle crunch or bicycle kicks. The bicycle crunch impacts the external obliques (on the side of the waist) in addition to the rectus abdominis and this helps to work the torso.

How to do the bicycle crunch
  • Lie on your back, bend your knees and place your feet wide apart on the floor.
  • Place your hands behind your head without interlocking them and avoid pulling your head with your hands to avoid neck pain.
  • Lift your right knee off the floor, toward the left side of your chest and simultaneously lift your left elbow to meet your right knee.
  • Repeat this process for the left knee and right elbow and keep up this cycle until your abs are thoroughly worked.
  • Be sure to completely lift your shoulder blades off the floor to keep the action concentrated on your core.

Check out this video for how to do the bicycle crunch:

2. Planks

There’s a good reason why plank has gained so much attention in the fitness industry – it works. Not only does it crush the rectus abdominis, it also greatly impacts the external obliques and transverse abdominis.In simple terms, it rocks your abs in a way regular crunches don’t and also doesn’t give you back pain no matter how long you hold out doing it.Planks aren’t just a great workout for abs, though, it also does a great job strengthening the arms, shoulders and glutes.Just like the crunch, there are several variations of the plank, each adapted to focus on specific muscle groups which may have been ignored by others. Here I’ll be discussing just two of them – the front plank and the side plank.

How to do the front plank

The front plank is the basic plank position and it targets your rectus abdominis. Here’s how to do it.

  • Start in the pushup position with your arms placed as far apart as your shoulders and place your feet together.
  • Rest your weight on your forearms, with your palms facing the ground and maintain a 90-degree angle between your shoulders and fore arm.
  • Raise your hip slightly and maintain a straight line from your head to your feet.
  • Hold the position for as long as you can before your form collapses.
  • Rest for a few minutes and repeat.
  • Aim for 3-5, 30-120 seconds sets per workout and it should get you shaking!
  • If this isn’t challenging enough, raise an arm and a leg to increase the difficulty level.
How to do the side plank

Apart from strengthening the front abs, the side plank also comes with an added advantage of working the external obliques and transverse abdominis, thus helping you to carve out that dreamy physique you’ve always desired in your midsection. Here’s how to do it:

  • Lie on your right side, supporting your body by placing your right forearm on the floor.
  • Place your left leg on the right leg while maintaining this position
  • Lift your hip off the ground maintaining a straight line from your shoulder to your feet.
  • Lift your left arm into the air to maintain balance.
  • Hold this position for as long as you can (one – two minutes is fine).
  • Rest for a few minutes and repeat for the other side.
  • Aim for 3-5 reps per workout.
  • To increase the difficulty level, you can raise the leg on top.

3. Russian twists

The Russian twist is an amazing workout that works just about every muscle in your core as you twist from side to side. The obliques are the more obvious beneficiaries, though, as the side-to-side motion really impacts the torso and helps to carve out an impressive side.And just like the other workouts listed so far, no serious gym equipment is required. All you need is some space on the floor and the will to keep going!

How to do the Russian twist
  • Sit on the ground and bend your knees such that there’s a 90-degree angle between your upper and lower legs.
  • You may place your feet under something immovable or lift them slightly off the floor.
  • Tilt your back towards the ground at an approximate angle of 45-degrees with the ground.
  • Hold your arms straight before you and twist as far as possible to one side before doing the same thing for the other side.
  • To kick things up a notch, hold a mildly heady object in your hands as you twist from side to side.
  • Aim for 10-12 reps on each side, rest and repeat the process 3-5 times.

4. Hanging leg raise or knee raise

This is another exercise that will rev up your core and leave your abs strengthened for days. The most beautiful thing about this workout is its scalability. You can start off with bent knee raises, then you can move on to straight leg raises and ultimately to toe-to-bar raises.

How to do the hanging leg raise or knee raise
  • Grab the pull-up bar, ensuring that your arms are straight and your feet are totally off the ground.
  • Straighten your legs and keep them firmly together all the while.
  • Tighten your abs and use your core to raise your straightened legs forward until they form an angle of 90-degrees with your midsection.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds and slowly return your legs back to their normal position.
  • For the knee raise, bend your knees before raising them to an angle of 90-degrees with your midsection.
  • For either movement, make sure you get your legs up using only your core. Avoid swinging them up with momentum.
  • To make things a bit more challenging, try placing a medicine ball between your ankles or knees.
  • Aim for 3-5 sets in the 10-15 rep range and you midsection should be burning for days to come.

5. Ab-wheel roll-out

Alright, this one may require a trip to the gym but trust me, it’ll be worth every minute of your time.If there’s one thing those infomercials got right, it’s the fact that ab wheels produces better muscle activation than crunches and leg raises.((SciELO: Muscle Activation Pattern During Isometric Ab Wheel Rollout Exercise in Different Shoulder Angle-Positions))As you roll out on the wheel, your trunk is forced to fire actively in order to maintain the neutrality of the spine and prevent collapsing due to gravity and your body weight.((Phys Ther.: Electromyographic analysis of traditional and nontraditional abdominal exercises: implications for rehabilitation and training.)) In order words, it does a great job of crushing your abs and carving out those much-desired six packs.

How to do the ab-wheel roll out
  • Get into a tabletop position and place some pads under your knees for protection.
  • Place your hands on the ab wheel and take a deep breath.
  • Push your belly backward to prevent it from sagging as you roll out.
  • Roll out the wheel as far as you comfortably can and keep your core tight all the way.
  • Hold the position for a few seconds and roll back in, fully engaging your abs as you do so.
  • To kick things up a notch, strap on a backpack containing some weight as you roll in and out.
  • Aim for 2-5 sets in the 10-15 rep range and you’ll definitely feel it in your abs for days to come.

Bonus Tip: Your other muscle groups

Before you dash off, don’t ignore other muscle groups!Here’s a little fact you need to wrap your head around – doing only ab exercises won’t give you six pack! Here’s why:Your abs are invisible because it’s covered by a heavy layer of abdominal fat.Excessive body fat results from calorie surplus, which means you take in more calories than you burn. And the abdomen is just one of the several fat-storage spots in the body.So, lowering your total body fat should be the first course of action and that requires a full body workout.Contrary to what some marketers would have you believe, you can’t directly target abdominal fat for elimination, there’s simply no scientific evidence behind this hocus pocus.((Med Sci Sports Exerc.: Subcutaneous fat alterations resulting from an upper-body resistance training program.))Although research has revealed that training a particular muscle group does increase lipolysis (conversion of fat into energy) and blood flow in that area, the effect is usually too negligible to matter.So, training a particular muscle group doesn’t make them cannibalize the fat covering them, although it does help those muscles to consume more energy as they get bigger.You may do hundreds of crunches and leg raises until your abs almost explode, but you still won’t see those abs if you don’t reduce the percentage of your total body fat 15% or less.((J Strength Cond Res.: The effect of abdominal exercise on abdominal fat.)) Fat loss is a full-body process and that means you need to stick to a calorie deficit and train all muscle groups to achieve it.

The bottom line

There are no magic tricks to carving out an impressive core! If you want great abs, you need to do three things – eat right, train right and burn fat!And no, this isn’t going to happen overnight, so you’ll have to commit months to the stomach workouts listed above, as well as full-body exercises to achieve your goal.Here’s the thing, though – you can do it!Start today, take it one day at a time and a few months from now you’ll look in the mirror and love what you see. Stop sitting around, get out there and get it done!

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