Dr. Phil Shares: 10 Exercises to Strengthen Your Core

10 Ab Exercises to Get a Shredded Six-Pack

 

If there’s one thing we all value in a relationship, it’s honesty. So let’s get this one off on the right track.

That set of corrugated abs you want? Getting them is gonna require a lot more than just holding off on that third piece of pizza and doing an extra set of crunches next week.

The good news is we’ve assembled 10 ab exercises that will put you on the path to those abs you’ve always wanted to take for a walk on the beach.

These basic moves don’t require weights and won’t have you doing hundreds of boring crunches. They’re beginner-friendly, but they’re not easy. These are fast-paced, core-burning moves by Beachbody Master Trainers like Shaun TTony Horton, and Sagi Kalev.

10 of the Best Ab Exercises to Get a Six-Pack

Before you tackle these ab exercises, take a few minutes to warm up your core. Try jogging in place, jumping jacks, or just holding a plank for 45 seconds. Or try Tony Horton’s quick, total body warm-up routine.

Instead of thinking about reps for the following ab exercises, try to keep going for 30 to 60 seconds for each.

Standing Mountain Climber

best abs exercises men and woman standing mountain climber shaun t insanity max 30

This strong cardio ab exercise will get your heart rate elevated, your muscles warm, and your body ready to work out. Your abs and hip flexors are sure to feel it.

• Start out in a standing position, making sure there’s nothing on the floor around you. Push the coffee table out of the way and make sure you won’t step on the cat’s tail.

• Make fists and keep them at shoulder-height in front of you as you begin running in place, bringing your knees up as high as you can.

• As your right leg lifts up, punch your left arm toward the ceiling, keeping your core engaged throughout the move. Alternate arms and legs for 60 seconds.

Appears in: INSANITY MAX:30: Max Out Abs

Dolphin Knee Drop

best abs exercises men and woman dolphin knee drop masters hammer and chisel sagi kalev

Time to get on the floor for a kick-butt core strengthener that also targets your shoulders, which are recruited to stabilize your body.

• Start in a dolphin plank: Assume a push-up position, but with your weight on your forearms instead of your hands, elbows stacked beneath your shoulders, palms on the floor.

• Keeping your core braced and legs straight, walk your feet forward two to three small steps, lifting your hips into the air.

• Lower your knees until they brush the floor, keeping your belly button pulled in toward your spine, then lift your hips back up, straightening your legs.

• Walk your feet back to starting position. Repeat.

Appears in: Body Beast: Abs

Rock the Boat

10 Ab Exercises to Get a Shredded Six Pack men and woman rock the boat 22 minute hard corps tony horton

This ab exercise is a little bit crunch-y, a little bit rock and roll.

• Start in a V-sit, with your knees bent, shins parallel to the ceiling, spine elongated. Your fingers can gently rest on your hamstrings, just under your knees.

• Keeping your core engaged, gently roll backward, and begin to round your spine. Lightly tuck your chin and roll onto your upper back, hips lifted off the floor.

• Roll forward into a boat pose, balancing on your sit bones as you straighten your legs, and reach forward with your arms. Pause before repeating.

Appears in: 22 Minute Hard Corps: Core 1

Ski Down Abs

best abs exercises men and woman ski abs shaun t insanity max 30

Imagine a black diamond mogul course and get ready to sweat as you fire up your obliques.

• Start a V-sit with just your heels and sit bones on the floor. Your spine should be elongated, your lower back flat, and your hands together in fists in front of you.

• As you scoop your fists to your right, lift your heels and bring them to the left.

• Lift your left elbow to lead your hands to your left side. Heels lift, setting down to your right. Keep alternating quickly.

Appears in: INSANITY MAX:30: Max Out Abs

Mountain Climber/Twist/Spider

best abs exercises men and woman mountain climber twist spiderman masters hammer and chisel sagi kalev

This ab exercise will kickstart your heart rate and use all your abdominal muscles to stabilize your moving plank.

• Start in a high plank, shoulders stacked over wrists and away from your ears, eyes focused in between your hands. Keep your hips in line with your shoulders and engage your core.

• Start off with a mountain climber: bring your right knee to your chest, step it back in line with your left foot. Bring your left knee forward toward your chest, step it back in line with your right.

• Move into a twist by bringing your right knee across your body to your left elbow. Step it back to meet your left foot. Bring your left knee forward, across your body to your right elbow. Step it back.

• Finally, bring your right knee forward to the outside of your right elbow for the spider. Step your foot back to meet your left foot. Bring your left knee forward to the outside of your left elbow. Step it back. Repeat series.

Appears in: Body Beast: Abs

Crunch

best abs exercises men and woman crunch body beast sagi kalev

Give yourself a short breather with the basic crunch. By lifting your legs to 90 degrees, you’ll target your entire core.

• Lie on your back, with your knees and hips bent at 90 degrees so that your shins are parallel to the floor and your knees are stacked atop your hips.

• Place your hands behind your head and pretend there’s an orange underneath your chin as you peel your shoulder blades up off the floor. Don’t squish your imaginary orange, and keep your gaze locked on the ceiling to protect your neck.

• Lower to starting position with control and repeat.

Appears in: Body Beast: Abs – Classic

Hi-Low Jack

best abs exercises men and woman high low jack 22 minute hard corps tony horton

Take your ab workout to a new place with plank jacks, alternating between high and low movements.

• Start in a high plank, wrists directly beneath your shoulders, abs drawn in, and lower back flat.

• Hop your feet outward and back to starting position, then lower onto your right and left forearms, coming into your low, or forearm, plank.

• Hop your feet outward and back together, then press back up onto your right and left hands to come back into your high plank. Repeat.

Appears in: 22 Minute Hard Corps: Special Ops – Core

Switch Kick Abs

best abs exercises men and woman switch kick abs shaun t insanity max 30

This punch-to-the-gut ab exercise is designed to get the most out of your core. You might even feel your hip flexors begin to burn.

• Lie on your back with your legs lifted straight in the air at 90 degrees. If your hamstrings feel tight, bend your knees as necessary.

• Lower your left heel as close to the floor as you can, then punch your left arm toward your right heel, adding in a twist.

• Simultaneously lift your left leg and lower your right, bringing your left fist back toward your shoulder, and punching toward your lifted left leg with your right fist.

• Repeat, alternating legs as quickly as you can with control.

Appears in: INSANITY MAX:30: Ab Attack:10

Low Plank Side Punch

best abs exercises men and woman low plank side punch shaun t insanity max 30

Hop back into a forearm plank for this ab shredder that has you shift your weight as you throw stability-challenging haymakers.

• Start in a forearm plank, with your elbows stacked beneath your shoulders, core braced, and legs extended straight behind you.

• Shift your weight toward your left forearm and punch your right arm out to the side until it’s straight. Look toward your hand as you punch, then bring it back down to starting position.

• Shift your weight toward your right forearm and punch with your left. Repeat.

Appears in: INSANITY MAX:30: Ab Attack:10

Beast Abs

best abs exercises men and woman body beast sagi kalev

Wanna smile and cringe at the same time? Then get ready to spell!

• Lie on your back, and place your hands flat on the floor beneath your hips, bringing your forefingers and thumbs together into a diamond.

• Press your lower back to the floor, and engage your abs as you lift your legs and begin to spell out the letters B-E-A-S-T with your feet. Remember to breathe!

• Spell B-E-A-S-T backwards. Rest.

Appears in: Body Beast: Abs-Classic

To see how these moves unite to form complete workouts, stream all of our most popular programs at Beachbody On Demand. Pull up 22 Minute Hard CorpsINSANITY MAX: 30, and Body Beast, along with dozens more programs on your TV set-top box or mobile device now!

Thanks for Sharing 

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health

Dr. Phil Shares: 5 Tips For Getting Fit When You’re Plus Size

5 Tips For Getting Fit When You’re Plus Size

Starting a fitness journey is always a challenge, but it may feel even more daunting when you’re carrying a few extra pounds. If it’s been awhile since the last time you laced up your sneakers, you may not be 100 percent sure what you’re still capable of — which can make it a little intimidating to hit the gym alongside people who look like chiseled bodybuilders and aspiring fitness models.

But “fit” comes in many shapes and sizes — and you can always nail fitness goals in your own living room with Beachbody On Demand if the gym isn’t exactly your happy place. Here are a few tips for getting in shape, no matter what your shape is.

1. No workout is off limits.

Have you ever seen a workout that looked intriguing, but you were concerned you didn’t have the “right” body type for it yet? Maybe you want to try martial arts, but you’re worried that you lack the mobility, coordination, or power to execute a jab/cross/snap kick combo like a Muay Thai fighter. Or you want to try yoga, but you can barely hold downward dog.

Put those worries aside. If a workout program looks fun, such as Beachbody’s YOUv2 (an upbeat dance-inspired program for beginners), don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try it — because you’re more likely to stick with a workout program you actually enjoy. Plus, you can always do the modifiers (i.e., the less advanced variations of exercises) in the workouts in programs such as CORE DE FORCE or 21 Day Fix until you build the strength and mobility needed to execute the main exercises. “Be brave enough to try,” says Jericho McMatthews, Beachbody Super Trainer and co-creator of CORE DE FORCE. “Start with the modifier — even if you’re struggling to complete all the repetitions — and stick with it. You’ll get there.”

(Not sure what kind of workout style will motivate you the most? Test some out on Beachbody On Demand until you find one that inspires you.)

2. Don’t underestimate your fitness abilities.

Your weight or BMI (body mass index) can help you determine your starting point, but they’re not the only (or even the best) way to measure fitness.

Instead, gauge your progress by how strong and energetic you feel, and when you notice your workouts getting easier, go harder. “A lot of people get really safe about using modifications,” McMatthews says. “They don’t realize how fit they’re getting, and how fast they’re getting stronger.” If you begin to notice that the modifiers aren’t leaving you out of breath and drenched in sweat by the end of a workout, it’s time to move on to the main moves.

3. Get the right workout gear.

Splurging on workout gear might feel kind of vain, but it isn’t just about taking awesome sweaty selfies — the right gear can keep you comfortable and even help prevent discomfort and injury. A supportive sports bra can keep everything in place during plyometric (jumping) exercises, for example. Moisture-wicking fabric can prevent chafing between the thighs.

Working out with the right shoes is vital for many reasons. Unless you’re running, stop wearing running shoes when you exercise. Their thick treads can trip you up during MMA-inspired programs like CORE DE FORCE, their raised heels can sabotage stability and form in muscle building-focused programs like Body Beast, and their extra cushioning can throw off your balance during dance-inspired programs like YOUv2. Consider purchasing training shoes instead. (Need help picking a pair? Use our guide help you find the perfect shoes for any workout.) “Everyone’s feet are different, so it’s not one-size-fits all,” McMatthews says. “But for anyone — especially anyone who’s plus-sized — make sure you have a shoe that supports the workout you are doing.”

4. Pay attention to your technique.

Proper form is always important. Not only does it help you get the most out of the exercise, but it can also help you reduce your risk of injury. “It’s really important to make sure your technique is there — especially if you’re carrying around more weight, because you need to protect your joints,” McMatthews says. Beachbody’s PiYo (part pilates, part yoga) and 3 Week Yoga Retreat are great programs for those wanting to take it easy on their joints since they are both low impact.

Whatever program you choose, take it slow when you’re first learning a move, and listen to the form cues from the instructor. “Work on proper alignment and proper technique so you’re avoiding injury — and getting better results, as well,” says McMatthews. It can be tempting to go full-throttle from the get-go, but that can backfire — if you get hurt, you won’t be able to work out for awhile.

5. Set non-scale goals.

Don’t let the scale be your only barometer of success — look for other signs that you’re getting stronger and slimmer. Have you lost an inch off your waist? Are you using heavier weights than you were last month? Can you hold a 10 seconds plank longer? Do you see a thinner profile when you look in the mirror? “Focus on non-scale victories, like how you’re feeling during the workouts and if you have more energy during the day,” McMatthews says.

That includes emotional victories, too, such as feelings of pride and confidence following a tough workout. The keys to meeting fitness goals are to stay positive and not get discouraged. Stay consistent and be patient — results will come. “After a tough workout, a lot of people feel like a new and improved version of themselves, regardless of how much weight they have lost,” says McMatthews.

 

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Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health

How to get fit when you're overweight

Dr. Phil Shares: Should You Work Out If You Are Sore?

Should You Work Out If You Are Sore?

I often get complaints from clients about being sore. Statements like “I thought exercise was going to make me feel good, but now I feel worse than ever” are somewhat common with people who are new to exercising. And there’s not too much for me to tell them. The fact is that if you have any designs on changing your body for the better, you are going to spend some time being sore, which can be a scary prospect. But, it’s inevitable so you have to get over this fear. Fact: there is some pain associated with the ultimate pleasure of being fit.

Also, if you anticipate, plan, and take the proper steps, you can minimize your muscle soreness. I’ll get to this in a sec but, first, let me tell you a little story—a very short one—that might help you out a bit. When I say we all get sore, I mean all. When I originally wrote this, I was very sore. And I got that way by doing one set of lunges. Yes, that’s right, only one set!

I wasn’t out of shape. Quite the contrary, I was cycling harder than I had in years and a member of the U.S. National Duathlon Team. So by most people’s definition, I was ultra fit. However, I’d not been doing lunges. I hadn’t done a single one since I finished 10,000 of them over a four-month span the year before. My body wasn’t used to lunges and, whenever you do something physical that you’re not used to, your muscles get sore. What this means is that most of you reading this are going to get sore—maybe really, really sore—somewhere along your road to fitness.

But I can help, because I’ve been through every level of soreness possible, from the “ahhh, I’m starting a new program” feeling to the “@#&!, I can’t walk” misery. Here are eight ways to achieve the former statement and avoid the latter and find out if you should work out if you’re sore.

8 Tips to Reduce Muscle Soreness

1. Work out when you’re sore to increase circulation

Yes, you heard that right–work out! But, take it easy. This is what is called a “recovery workout,” which is aimed at increasing circulation rather than creating micro-tears (or microtrauma) in the muscles, which caused the soreness in the first place. Exercise promotes circulation, which reduces soreness. Sitting around while you’re sore is actually worse regarding relieving your soreness than having an easy working out. What you should do is warm up and then do part of your scheduled workout. Maybe do half, or even just a quarter. Use the extra time after the cool-down to stretch and ice. But, remember, if it’s only your legs that are sore, you don’t have to go easy on your upper body, and vice versa. Nice try.

2. Learn good pain from bad

There are generally two types of pain associated with working out: from muscle soreness or from injury. It’s not always clear which is which, so tread lightly until you know the difference. I’ve had quite a few clients over the years who thought they were injured but simply had muscle soreness. There is no absolute way to tell, but if your soreness lessens as you warm-up, there’s a very good chance you’re dealing with just soreness of the muscles. Increasing pain doesn’t necessarily mean you’re injured, but it means you shouldn’t exercise that day. If this pain doesn’t change in a day or two, injury is likely and you should see a professional. Muscle soreness always improves over time.

3. Embrace the pain

This idea is going to be foreign to many of you but eventually you’ll learn that a little soreness means you’ve embarked on something that is good for you. The first time, however, you’re going to have to show a little faith. Whenever I switch up my training, I go through an initial period of soreness. While it’s always bothersome, especially say, when it hurts to take off my shoes or wash my hair, I know that it’s only temporary and that it’s an important step along the road to my goal. So I embrace it. Sure, it hurts. But it hurts in a good way. A great way even. I love the beginning of a new training cycle because I know that once I work through the pain, I’m going to be fitter than before. In fact, when I haven’t had a period of soreness in a while, I start to feel like a slacker.

 

Should-You-Work-Out-If-You-Are-Sore-1

4. Stretch after you work out

The more time you can spend doing extra stretching at the end of your workout, the better you’ll recover. Don’t stretch your muscles when cold, as you’ll risk injuring them. An extra 10 minutes after you work out, however, can do wonders. Also, easy movements and stretches right before bed and again first thing in the morning helps your blood circulate better and will also improve your recovery time.

5. Anticipate

Remember that I said I knew I was going to get sore? You will be, too! So go easy on your first day. And I mean E-A-S-Y. It’s normal to get excited on day one. You just ordered Beachbody On Demand and you’ve had visions of yourself walking down the beach turning heads. This is great, but keep your wits about you. You’re not going to get ripped tomorrow or the next day. Hammering through your first workout could end up delaying your program two weeks while you recover from your exuberance. Instead, start slow. Do much less than you feel like you could. You’ll get sore in any case. Next day, push a bit harder. The following day, a bit harder still. Easing into a program is the best way to make steady progress in your fitness.

6. Eat well

The more you exercise, the better you need to eat. Junk food won’t fuel your muscles properly. This is especially true if you are trying to lose weight since you’re most likely eating less. So what you do eat becomes vital. The better you eat, the less sore you’ll be. Try to exercise on an empty stomach and then after your workout, drink Beachbody Recover or eat a small snack that is approximately four parts carbs to one part protein within an hour of finishing your workout. This will greatly help the recovery process and reduce soreness.

7. Massage

You don’t have to go to a masseuse; self-massage is another great tool to aid recovery. The only time you don’t want to massage your muscles is right after you work out because you will interfere with the natural recovery process. But at any other time, such as before heading to sleep, just five minutes of self-massage can help circulation immensely.

8. Ice

More on the circulation theme—nothing moves blood around like ice. It causes blood vessels to contract at first, and then open as you get used to it. If you’ve ever watched a locker room interview after a sporting event, you probably noticed a lot of the athletes were icing parts of their body. That’s because it’s one of the greatest recovery aids we have available. Almost all injuries heal quicker if you apply ice. Working out causes micro-tears in the muscles, which are necessary in order to get stronger but cause the pain of soreness. These micro-tears heal faster if you ice them. You can ice any sore body part up to 20 minutes at a time, a few times throughout the day. It’s hard at first, but you get used to it the more you do it.

BY:  @ Beachbody

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: How to Reduce Holiday Stress!

How to Reduce Holiday Stress

The topic I’m going to address today is how to handle holiday stress with greater ease.

If you think about it, we could make “holiday stress” a great opportunity to teach us how to manage “any time” stress. A great place to start is having our priorities straight so you’re clear on what matters and what doesn’t.

5 Tips for Holiday Stress Relief:

1. Write in your journal

Now is a good time to sit down, take a deep breath, and write in your journal to help you get organized and remember what the holidays are really about.

First, write down everything that needs to be handled. Then identify things that you can let go of or delegate to someone else. Even if you need to handle everything, taking the time to write it all down will help you feel less overwhelmed.

Now that you have written down and organized your to-do list, think to yourself, “What will be my state of ‘being’ while I’m doing all of these things? Will I be joyful or stressed, grateful or overwhelmed?” And, write a paragraph on this topic. Asking these questions is really important if you want the holidays to be something you actually enjoy. The busyness of the holidays doesn’t have to cause stress if you choose a calm and joyful way of being as you check off tasks from your to-do list.

Next, let’s get more specific. Write down how you would like certain aspects of the holidays to go. How would you like to experience cooking the holiday meal or having people over? While cooking, will you feel angry that you have to cook such a big meal, or curious and excited about making a new dish for your family? Or, while shopping, will you feel obligated or resentful that you have to buy for so many people, or grateful that you have the means to buy presents to begin with?

Now, make two columns in your journal. In one column, write the names of the people you are buying gifts for. In the second column, write what you are grateful for about this person. Leave out all the things they have or haven’t done, or what they’ve said or didn’t say – all of that ultimately doesn’t mean anything. Instead, write how they contribute positively to your life. Then take this list with you shopping so that the present you purchase is an expression of your appreciation for them. This can help you remember what the holidays are really about: celebration and gratitude for our friends and family.

2. Keep things in perspective

Rather than truly celebrating family and friends, we often get caught up in how things “look.” We worry about the holiday cards, or whether our hair and outfits look alright, or if we ordered enough pies for everyone. When you start to spiral into worry, go back to your shopping list of names and why you’re grateful for these people – does it really matter if your hair looks perfect that day?

I’m not saying to show up to your holiday events in your pajamas, but by choosing what you focus on, you can allow whether a certain situation will create stress or joy within you. Are you going to focus on whether your outfit looks perfect or focus on the joy you experience with your cousin who you haven’t seen in a while? You have a choice. Consciously choosing gratitude and joy will create positive situations and bring you closer to those you love.

And, if you’ve mastered this level of focused decision-making during the holidays, you can easily apply it throughout the year when there are less distractions.

3. Consider the past

Here is another topic to write about in your journal: What are the memories that get stirred up during the holidays? Which memories create a clenching in the pit of your stomach, or a fear-based emotion, or that feeling of “here we go again.” What creates that in you? Write them all down, be very real about it. Don’t let your mind take hold of the negative emotion and spiral you down into the same old pattern – nothing will change that way.

So write these memories down in your journal and what they stir up in you, then write whether they really matter in the grand scheme of things – get some perspective. And then consider whether you should communicate with someone so that this pattern doesn’t happen again, or just let it go. In either case, make that change internally to change that pattern. Do it now before it’s too late and suddenly it’s Christmas Eve and the same situation occurs. Also, write down enjoyable holiday memories and prioritize doing those activities again this year.

4. Learn to say “no”

If you have always lived the holidays with great stress, but have not done anything about it (as if the outside world will suddenly shift for you and make it all good), then nothing will change because at the end of the day nothing and nobody makes you feel in any way other than how you choose to feel, what you choose to allow in your field. That is very important to remember.

Because there are so many challenges, the holidays present so many amazing opportunities to take control of your life and to empower yourself. Let’s say you’ve cooked the turkey for your family for 30 years but never enjoyed the task, this is your opportunity to finally say “no.” You’re not a victim, you don’t owe anything, so don’t disempower yourself. If you don’t like having 50 people over every Hanukkah, but you allow it to happen because you’re not willing to experience the consequences of saying “no,” then you are allowing resentment to exist in you, once again. Am I saying that changing a pattern is easy? Of course not, but you must always remember that your life is under your control.

If spending quality time with your husband and children during the holidays is important to you, then make the time. Be more organized about the shopping, start way ahead as opposed to waiting to the last minute. Choose the events that you want to attend, and say “no” to the rest. Be empowered in what you are deciding to celebrate this year.

5. Make it a holiday for YOU

It is crucial for your well-being to learn what is important to you, and to prioritizing these things during the chaotic holiday season. It’s important to be very real and honest about the things that you never enjoy doing and yet, you still do them over and over again. You allow these situations to destroy your peace every single year. What is up with that? What would happen if you spoke up and said, “stop”? Make the holidays something different this year; make it a holiday for you, for how you feel.

Every day of this celebration, actually celebrate by having the courage to eliminate that which is not important to you. This allows a clearing for what does bring you joy. For example, if you’re not spending days in the kitchen preparing a meal for 50 people, you’ll have more time to play games with your children.

Try it and do your best not to feel obligated. If you feel guilty, engage with that experience with compassion and kindness for yourself. Remember, everybody is caught in the whirlwind of the holidays and the guilt of it all. We are all doing the best we can, so it’s nobody’s fault. But, you are in charge of what this holiday season could be for you and your family.

So, I invite you to be in a state of celebration for yourself this holiday season. In your journal, write: “What if this holiday was exactly what I wanted it to be. What would that look like? What if I had the courage to sit down with my family and discuss what we wanted to do and what we did not want to do this year?” Wouldn’t that be nice?

With these intentional actions – which are ultimately actions of love for yourself and the people who are important to you – you can make this year a true celebration, a true holiday, a true honoring of each other, peace, joy, and well-being. I hope this was helpful, thank you.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 10 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

10 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Do you find that the scale moves up a few pounds during this time of the year? During summertime, we’re focused on our bodies, given we know we’ll be wearing the revealing clothing that goes with the season. But when fall and winter come around, that mindset falls away like autumn leaves. Maybe it’s our primitive instinct to bulk up when the weather gets colder; it probably also has a lot to do with our busy holiday shopping and social schedules interfering with our regular workouts, and with all the tasty holiday treats lying in wait to tempt us everywhere we turn, regardless. But don’t let the layers of clothing become layers of fat. These tips can help you avoid holiday weight gain this season.

Avoid Holiday Weight Gain With These 10 Simple Tips

Staying healthy and fit during the holidays isn’t impossible. You just need the right tools! With convenient workouts you can do at home on Beachbody On Demand, and a craving-crushing drink like Shakeology, it will be easier than ever to end the year on a healthy high note.

1. Travel smart

Many people find themselves traveling during the holiday season, but that’s not an excuse to eat unhealthily and avoid exercise. Plan your meals in advance, and pack snacks when you are either on the road or in the air. Good travel snacks can include nuts or dried fruit. To help you be a happier traveler, get a good night sleep before you leave to increase your mood and alertness. Eating a heavy meal before traveling can make you sleepy, so eat a small, low-fat meal before you head out the door.

2. Get enough sleep

Try to keep a regular sleep schedule and get a full night’s rest as often as you can. If you fail to get a good night sleep, it can make you grumpy the next day and make it harder to focus on your healthy goals. No one wants to travel with a grouchy person, so do everyone a favor and get some shut eye. Sleeping well can also help you reduce your calorie consumption, because it inhibits the release of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin while promoting the release of leptin, another hormone that limits hunger. And keeping that hunger in check is a good idea when you find yourself surrounded by holiday goodies. Check out these natural sleep remedies to help you get some shut-eye.

3. Drink enough water

You’ve probably heard it before, but we’ll say it again: drink water! During the busy holiday season it can be easy to forget to fill up enough cups with H2O, but it can do wonders with keeping you healthy. It helps regulate your body temperature, helps with the digestion of food, and it can help you limit your caloric intake. How? Try drinking a glass of water before each meal, and you’ll likely feel more satisfied on less food because your stomach already has some liquid in there. And if you alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water, you’ll slow down your consumption of high-calorie beverages. If you don’t think a glass of plain old H2O is appetizing enough, here are 10 tasty ways to add flavor to your water.

4. Approach cocktails with caution

We’re not telling you to avoid alcohol completely – wine is allowed in Portion Fix after all! But do pace yourself by having at least one glass of water in between each drink (see tip #3). Remember that one gram of alcohol contains seven calories, and yet it yields virtually no energy or health benefits. Calories from alcohol can add up quickly, so be mindful of how much you are drinking. Also, drinking may reduce inhibitions at the dessert buffet, which can lead to a few too many sugar cookies. If you do indulge in eggnog, which is super-high in calories in its traditional form, try this lighter version that clocks in under 150 calories.

5. Get an accountability partner

The holidays are filled with temptation, and it’s your job to stop it in its tracks. But…that can be really tough to do on your own. If you need some assistance in fighting the temptation of cookies and cocktails and candies (oh my!), don’t be afraid to ask for help. An accountability partner can help you stick to your goals when your willpower gets a little shaky. Tell a family member that you’re trying to eat healthier, so they can give you a gentle reminder when you’re eyeing that second slice of cake. Or, get a group of friends and do morning workouts together. You’ll probably find that power in numbers is a key part in avoiding holiday weight gain. And if you can’t confide in someone in person, then try reaching out to a Team Beachbody Coach, who can help you stay on track even from afar.

6. Use screen time wisely

Who says the TV can only be used to watch classic holiday movies and rivalry sports games? Take over the screen for a few minutes and turn on one of your favorite Beachbody On Demand workouts. Don’t worry, you won’t have to be using precious TV time for hours at a time, there are plenty of workout that are less than 30 minutes! You can even get the whole family involved with the kid-friendly Double Time program, or the fun dance routines in Country Heat. And you don’t have to hog the TV. You can also cue up Beachbody On Demand on your computer, tablet, or phone. And when you you do decide to cozy up for a made-for-TV holiday film, encourage your family to get up in between commercials for some jumping jacks or push-ups. Make it a competition to see who can do the most during the break and watch the sibling rivalry do some good for once.

7. Make recipes healthier

Most recipes can be made healthier without compromising the recipe. Just check out how Autumn and Bobby Calabrese do it on FIXATE, Beachbody’s healthy cooking show. With a few substitutions, you can limit unnecessary salt, sugar, and fat in some of your favorite holiday recipes…and we doubt that your guests will notice. Here are some of our personal favorite holiday recipes made healthier, like Gingerbread Protein Pancakes and Herb-Crusted Beef Tenderloin.

8. Avoid serving food family-style

When food is placed right on the dining table, it’s much easier to grab a second helping. So make it harder: Keep the extra food away from the dining room. If you leave it in the kitchen, out of sight, it forces everyone to think about getting up to grab another helping. Here’s a tip: If you still feel hungry after your first plate, wait for 15 minutes and drink a full glass of water, then decide whether you want more food.

9. Eat smaller amounts more often

Instead of starving yourself all day so you can overindulge in that one, giant meal, have smaller meals throughout the day. At family holiday gatherings in particular, it’s asking too much to resist the lavish aromas of the kitchen, so being mindful of your portion sizes is important. You can still enjoy all your family-favorite recipes – just enjoy them in moderation. You’ll likely feel much better at the end of the meal that way.

10. Stay active

Whether you cue up a workout on Beachbody On Demand or gather up the troops for a walk around the block, regular exercise can help with so many of the challenges you face during the holiday season. It can help you cope with the stress of traveling by releasing endorphins that help boost your mood and energy. At the airport, if you have time, walk beside those moving sidewalks instead of standing and letting them carry you to your terminal. If you’re traveling by car, take frequent breaks, get out of the car, walk around, and get some fresh air. If you’re staying home for the holidays, get the family involved! Depending on the climate, go ice skating, hiking, sledding, skiing, biking, or walk the dog. And go for a walk together after your big meal—it’ll help you all digest better.

Wrapping Up

We’re not asking you to deprive yourself of any holiday cheer. Just be aware of your body and the temptations and pitfalls it faces this season. Because the holidays have a way of testing your self-control, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place well in advance for dealing with them. That way, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding holiday weight gain and remaining on your regular regimen of exercise and dieting. You can even make it your New Year’s resolution to keep a healthy lifestyle and continue working toward your goals.

Shared By Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: Post-Injury Tips to Help You Recover Faster

Post-Injury Tips to Help You Recover Faster

“Hey, don’t cry,” said the ER nurse, approaching my hospital bed. “We got that arm back in.”

Yes we did. It took two doctors, the nurse, me, the threat of being put under general anesthetic, and two giant IV bags of pain meds to do it. And it still hurt like hell. But that’s not why I was crying.

My injury was a season ender.

I had been doing a simple shoulder stretch at home—something I had done countless times before—when my shoulder dislocated suddenly. The sound was sickening. The pain was immediate. And after trying (and failing) to get my shoulder back into its socket on my own, I headed to the ER. Again.

It was the first time I had dislocated my shoulder while stretching, but it was the third time in as many years that it had popped out of its socket and refused to go back in, landing me in the ER. And as the doctor explained, strike three meant surgery.

That was in August 2016. I had surgery less than two months later, becoming yet another pro athlete with a career-pausing injury.

It is a universally acknowledged truth that injuries suck, and for an athlete, the pain isn’t even the worst part. If you live to compete, the most excruciating aspect of becoming injured is being unable to do what you love (training and racing). Most of us experience that disappointment at some point. Injuries are frustratingly common in endurance sports. We push our bodies to their limits, asking them to cover hundreds of miles each week across multiple athletic disciplines. It’s hardly surprising that they sometimes break and fail.

Until it happens to you. Then it’s definitely surprising and more than a little heartbreaking. If you’re lucky, and your injury is relatively minor, you can heal it yourself in a few days or weeks with a bit of smart self-care and rehab. But if your injury is serious enough to require prolonged medical attention—as mine was—you’ll need to play the long game, and how well you play it will determine how long you have to. Here’s what I learned from nearly a year on the sidelines, and how you can recover faster after an injury.

Find the Right Doctor

Finding a healthcare professional who knows your sport and has both an excellent reputation and extensive experience treating athletes is key for expediting your diagnosis and recovery. That’s because they’ll understand how your injury will affect your ability to move in the context of your sport, thus allowing them to customize your treatment plan and develop a realistic prognosis for how long it will take you to return to training and racing. Believe me when I say that such “insider” care can make a world of difference, especially when it comes to minimizing your recovery time.

How do you find such a physician? Ask friends and training buddies for recommendations, consult with your coach, and (most important) do your own research. Before finally settling on a doctor to perform for my surgery, there wasn’t a shoulder surgeon west of the Rockies that I didn’t Google-stalk. I ultimately chose the one that I did because he had been a competitive cyclist, had a successful track record treating athletes, and came highly recommended by a friend who’s a physical therapist, and whom I trust implicitly. When my friend said “EK, I would trust him with my shoulder, and I’ve seen hundreds of his patients,” I knew that I had found the right doc. It’s your body, and you want to make sure you have 100 percent faith in whomever you choose to repair it.

Accept Your Situation

As the saying goes “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” When you receive your post-injury diagnosis and prognosis, be ready to accept them regardless of whether or not they’re what you hoped to hear.

I came by that advice the hard way. When I went to see my shoulder specialist to learn the results of my MRI, I expected him to tell me that I could fix my injury with intensive physical therapy. Instead he told me that without surgery there was a 100 per cent chance my shoulder would dislocate again. “Surgery is a when,” he said, “not an if.”

His diagnosis hit me like a freight train. I wanted to cry. I struggled not to scream. I bit my tongue, fighting back the urge to tell him that his years of medical experience must have been ill spent if he couldn’t see that my injury wasn’t serious.

I was wrong and he was right, of course, but It took me a while to accept that. Some people liken the psychological process of dealing with a serious injury to that of grieving, suggesting that both follow the same progression—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I’m still not sure which phase I was in when I went under the knife a couple of weeks later. I knew it’s what I had to do have any hope of remaining a professional athlete, but I definitely had not accepted my situation yet. I just didn’t see any other option that had any chance of helping me return to racing.

Learn from my mistake. If you are recovering from an injury—especially one that required surgery—I urge you to do all you can to move through the grieving process as quickly as possible. That’s easier said than done, but if you surround yourself with strong people you trust and love—and who feel the same way about you—it expedites the process tremendously. They can help you see that your injury is just a blip on your athletic journey. It doesn’t define you, and it won’t last forever. It’s almost a rite of passage. When you realize all of that, you can finally start healing.

I speak from experience. After I reached the acceptance stage, everything—and I mean everything—became a whole lot easier. It took me almost two months to get there, but once I did, I stopped trying to rush my rehab, and I committed to following my treatment plan to the letter. Almost immediately, my progress began to pick up speed.

Recovering Post Injury

Treat Rehab Like Training

Endurance athletes are incredible creatures. To succeed at what we do, we need intense focus, a strong work ethic, and an unwavering dedication to our sport. All of these things help us through the highs and lows of training and racing, including getting injured.

Although it took me a while to accept my post-injury situation, I eventually threw myself into my rehabilitation with the same guts and gusto with which I train. I went to three one-hour physical therapy sessions a week, and did two sessions of mind-numbingly tedious rehabilitation exercises a day. Don’t get me wrong—my path to recovery wasn’t smooth. Far from it—my arm/shoulder complex had been unstable for years, and I had learned a lot of dysfunctional patterns to compensate for that. Unlearning those patterns took longer than anticipated, but I stayed focused, tried to remain positive, and kept telling myself that it would all work out in the end (which, of course, it did).

Through it all, I refused to allow myself to be just an “injured athlete,” waiting idly for my shoulder to heal. I used all of the free time that would otherwise have gone to training to pursue other passions and pastimes. That helped me keep my head in a good place. I also learned how important it is to maintain a sense of humor. The road to rehabilitation is not always an easy one, so staying upbeat is a key part of remaining motivated. Indeed, maintaining the ability to laugh at oneself during bleak times can be powerful medicine.

Focus On What You Can Do, Not On What You Can’t

It’s easy to get hung up on everything that you’re missing after an injury. Your training buddies might be posting all sorts of PRs on Strava and talking about upcoming events with the same excitement and fervor that you typically do. Competitors might be winning races that you feel you could have won. And you might find yourself filling out race refund requests instead of registration forms. But you need to learn to shut all of that out and train your brain to focus what you can do, because, trust me, there is still a great deal that you can do to stay in shape and work toward your goals.

Even though my right arm was completely out of action, I managed to swim using only my left arm three or four times a week from mid-November through March. That’s nearly five months of one-armed swimming, but it meant that I could get in the pool, see my teammates, and maintain my feel for the water, which is important for swim stroke mechanics. I also spent a lot of time in the pool doing vertical kicking and kicking with fins or a kickboard, all of which turned me into a total demon kicker; there’s no one on my team who can touch me at kicking now!

Outside of the pool, I began going on long walks, running on an AlterG (anti-gravity) treadmill, riding gently on the trainer, and working with my strength coach in the gym (mostly on core and lower body conditioning). Progress was slow, but my coach and I were able to gradually increase my training volume the so that by April/May I was putting together a 13 to 15-hour training week. Granted, that’s less than half of the time I usually spend training each week, but it was progress, and it felt good.

Focus on Prevention

Once you experience the sidelines, you never want to return to them. The best way to do that is with “prehab,” which means incorporating exercises that can help prevent future injuries into your training program. Even though my shoulder is healed, I continue to do a lot of joint-specific strength and mobility work to keep it healthy, for example.

I also can’t advocate enough the importance of following a total-body strength and conditioning program. You don’t need to hit the gym nearly as often as you run, swim, or bike, but logging a couple of hours there each week can increase your speed and power, and greatly reduce your risk of injury.

The winter months are the perfect time to build a strength base, which will help ensure that your body is robust enough to handle all of the miles you plan to put it through come spring. So will eating healthfully, sleeping adequately, and engaging in regular self-care (foam rolling, stretching, mobility training, etc.). If you look after your body, it will reward you.

By 

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 14 Exercises for Lower Back Pain

14 Exercises for Lower Back Pain

As with bedbugs and the national deficit, the source of lower back pain can be hard to trace. Sometimes it’s a sudden, jarring injury. Other times it’s due to long-term over- or underuse. Often the simple act of sitting (which most office workers do for an estimated 10 hours a day) is to blame for lower back pain, particularly if it emanates from around L1-L5, the vertebrae between your rib cage and your pelvis.

Unfortunately, strength and flexibility only do so much to prevent it.

“There are people who can twist themselves into a pretzel who have back pain because they lack endurance,” says neurophysiologist Chad Waterbury, author of Huge In a Hurry. “And there are people who are very strong who get back pain because they lack mobility, especially in the hamstrings, core, glutes, and hip muscles.”

The key to preventing lower back pain, says Waterbury, is building a combination of moves that improve your mobility and endurance so you can get some relief from the lower back pain you have—and avoid more of it in the future. That’s exactly what the moves below—broken into three escalating levels of intensity—are designed to do.

A few quick caveats: If your pain is intense (read: getting out of bed feels like you’re going one circle deeper into Dante’s Inferno), get cleared by a doctor before doing any type of exercise—these moves included.

If given the OK, avoid anything that causes or exacerbates pain in your lower back. This includes twisting or bending forcefully and sitting for hours on end. If you can, get up from your chair every 20 minutes, or better still, get a desk with a stand-up option.

If you feel pain doing the exercises below, shorten the range of motion or perform the moves more slowly. Still hurting? Follow the “if it hurts” modifications alongside each move. And if none of these changes help, save that move for another day. Remember you’re trying to alleviate your lower back pain… not make it worse!

14 Exercises to Help Relieve Lower Back Pain

LEVEL I: When your pain is acute, use these easy moves to gently mobilize — increase the pain-free range of motion — in your back.

Child’s Pose

Gently relieves tension in the lower back.

Source: 21 Day Fix, Yoga Fix

To Do This Exercise:
1. On a mat or blanket, kneel down, and, if possible, sit on your heels.
2. Lean forward, extending your arms in front of you, and rest your head on the floor in front of you.
3. Hold the position for 30 seconds to two minutes.

If It Hurts:
Cross your arms on the floor and rest on your forearms.

 

Cat/Cow

Easy stretch for forward and backward movement along the entire spine.

Source: 21 Day Fix, Pilates Fix

To Do This Exercise:
1. Assume an all-fours position, hands under shoulders, knees under hips, back in a natural arch, head in alignment with your spine.
2. On an exhale, slowly round your back towards the ceiling, lowering your head fully towards the floor.
3. Reverse the movement.
4. Keeping your arms straight, inhale as you arch your back, bringing your chest and belly towards the floor, your shoulder blades together, and your head up.

If It Hurts:
Reduce the range of motion and move more slowly.

 

Front-to-Back-Shoulder Squeeze

Increases range of motion in shoulder blades, helps reduce slouching.

Source: Ho’Ala ke Kino

To Do This Exercise:
1. Assume an athletic posture with your feet in a shoulder-width-and-a-half stance.
2. Keeping your back straight throughout the movement, cross your left hand over your right, press your palms together, straighten your arms, and point your fingertips towards the floor.
3. Press your palms together and round your upper back as if trying to touch the fronts of your shoulders together in front of you.
4. Hold for ten seconds.
5. Unclasp your hands, then interlace your fingers behind your back, straighten your arms and lift your chest high.
6. Hold for 10 seconds.
7. Alternate these two positions a total of 3-4 times.

If It Hurts:
Don’t stretch as deeply.

 

Clam

Supports healthy hip movement, which takes pressure off the lower back during everyday activities.

Source: Total Body Solution, Lower Back

To Do This Exercise:
1. Lie on your left side with your knees bent 90 degrees in front of you and your feet stacked.
2. Keeping your feet together and your hips vertical, lift your right knee as far away from your left as possible.
3. Hold for a moment, return to the starting position, and repeat for 15 reps.
4. Turn onto your right side and perform 15 reps.

If It Hurts:
Make sure your lower back doesn’t twist throughout the movement and limit the move to a pain-free range of motion.

 

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Restores proper positioning of the hips, taking tension off the lower back.

Source: The Master’s Hammer and Chisel, Hammer Conditioning

To Do This Exercise:
1. Kneel on a mat or pad and step your right foot flat on the floor in front of you.
2. Keeping your torso upright and your back in its natural arch, lunge forward towards your right foot.
3. Press the top of your left foot into the floor behind you.
4. Hold the stretched position for 30–45 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.

If It Hurts:
Contract your abs and flatten the lower back as much as possible throughout the stretch. Also try shifting your hips back and coming out of the stretch a bit.

Downward Facing Dog with Alternating Heel March

Extends and loosens hamstrings, calves, and upper back.

Source: Ho’Ala ke Kino

To Do This Exercise:
1. Assume a push-up position: facedown, hands and balls of your feet on the floor, body straight from your heels to the top of your head.
2. Keeping your arms and legs straight and your lower back in its natural arch, fold at the hips and press your hips into the air.
3. With your feet parallel, slowly bend your right knee until you feel a deep stretch in your left calf, then hold for ten seconds.
4. Straighten your right knee, then repeat on the other side.
5. Continue alternating sides for a total of three reps per side.

If It Hurts:
Hold the downdog position without the heel march.

 

LEVEL II: Use these moves when your lower back pain is less severe. They can help strengthen and stabilize the core.

Bird Dog

Tones extensor muscles of the upper back, shoulders, and glutes, while teaching back musculature to work with greater coordination and ease.

Source: Tai Cheng, Function Test

To Do This Exercise:
1. Assume an all-fours position on the floor, hands directly below your shoulders, knees directly below your hips.
2. Slowly extend your right leg behind you as if kicking something with your heel.
3. Simultaneously extend your left arm forward, straight and parallel to the floor.
4. Hold for 10 seconds, slowly lower your right left and left arm, then repeat the sequence using your left leg and right arm.
5. Perform 3–6 reps per side.

If It Hurts:
Contract your abs and flatten your back as much as possible throughout the move.

 

Glute Bridge

Increases tone in the glute muscles.

Source: INSANITY: THE ASYLUM, Back to Core

To Do This Exercise:
1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
2. Flex your feet so the balls of your feet lift off the floor.
3. Drive your heels into the floor, squeeze your glutes and lift your hips as high as you can.
4. Pause for a one-count, return to the starting position, and repeat for 20 reps.

If It Hurts:
Limit the movement to a pain-free range of motion.

 

Plank with Forearm Run

Tones the six-pack muscles, relieving lower-back pressure.

Source: The Master’s Hammer and Chisel, 10 Minute Ab Hammer

To Do This Exercise:
1. Assume a plank position: facedown, forearms and balls of the feet on the floor, body straight from your heels to the top of your head.
2. Keeping your hips down, bring your right knee towards your chest.
3. Reverse the move and repeat on the other side.
4. Alternate sides for 15–30 seconds.

If It Hurts:
Slow the movement down. Perform the move from the push-up position (arms extended). Perform a static plank position (no movement in the legs).

 

Side Plank and Knee Up

Tones the core muscles on the sides of your torso, which help you to bend and twist more easily.

Source: The Master’s Hammer and Chisel, 10 Minute Ab Hammer

To Do This Exercise:
1. Assume a right-side plank position: right elbow and forearm on the floor, feet stacked with the outside edge of your right foot on the floor, body straight from your heels to the top of your head.
2. Place your left hand behind your head and point your left elbow towards the ceiling.
3 Draw your left knee up and towards your chest.
4. Reverse the movement, then repeat for 12–15 reps.
5. Turn over and repeat the movement on your other side.

If It Hurts:
Hold the side plank position without movement.

 

LEVEL III: Use these moves when you’re feeling good to develop more spine-sparing mobility and endurance and help prevent future lower back pain.

Front Fold

Relaxes and increases range of motion in your hamstrings, calves, lower and upper back.

Source: 21 Day Fix, Yoga Fix

To Do This Exercise:
1. Assume an athletic posture with your feet in a shoulder-width-and-a-half stance.
2. Inhaling deeply, slowly extend your arms directly out to the side.
3. Keeping your back flat and your knees slightly bent, slowly hinge forward at the hip joints as far as you can.
4. Cross your arms in front of you, slowly round your back forward.
5. Hold the rounded-forward position for 20–30 seconds.

If It Hurts:
Avoid the rounded-forward position: hinge forward at the hips and return to the starting position for 3–5 reps.

Trunk Twist

Increases rotational range in rib cage, allowing you to turn and twist more comfortably.

Source: P90X3, Eccentric Lower

To Do This Exercise:
1. Lie on your left side with your bottom (left) leg extended and your right knee bent towards your chest, inside of your right knee on the floor.
2. Extend your arms straight out in front of your chest, left arm on the floor and palms together.
3. Keeping both arms straight, your right knee and your left arm and shoulder blade on the floor, lift your right arm up towards the ceiling.
4. With your eyes on your right hand, rotate your right arm back towards the floor behind you as far as you can without pain.
5. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for 15 repetitions.
6. Lie on your right side and repeat.

If It Hurts:
Place a pillow or block underneath the knee of your top leg and always rotate only as far back as you can without pain.

C-Sit Tap:

Increases strength and endurance in your six-pack muscles and improves rotation in your upper back.

Source: 21 Day Fix, Pilates Fix

To Do This Exercise:
1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat.
2. Lean back so that your torso forms a 45-degree angle to the floor and extend your arms in front of you, palms together.
3. Keeping your torso long, lean back slightly, rotate your right arm and shoulder back, and tap your right hand to the floor.
4. Reverse the movement, return to the starting position, and repeat the movement, this time turning to your left.
5. Alternate sides for 15 reps on each side.

If It Hurts:
Hold the “up” position without moving.

Lunge to Hip Extension

Strengthens glutes and lengthens hip flexors to improve posture and lower body strength and stamina.

Source: Active Maternity, Get Stable

To Do This Exercise:
1. Assume an athletic posture: feet shoulder width and parallel, knees slightly bent, shoulders square.
2. Step your right leg about two feet directly back.
3. Keeping your torso upright, bend both knees until your right knee comes close to the floor.
4. Reverse the move and return to the starting position.
5. Shift your weight onto your left foot, contract your right glute, and lift your right foot off the floor behind you.
6. Lower your right foot back to the floor and repeat the movement for 10-12 reps.
7. Switch your legs and repeat on the other side.

If It Hurts:
Lower your back knee only about halfway to the floor and keep your back foot on the floor throughout the movement.

BY:  @ Beachbody.com

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: Does Yoga Work for Shedding the Pounds?

Does Yoga Work for Weight Loss?

While there are some styles of yoga that can help one burn more than 500 calories per hour — such as Vinyasa (see below) — overall, yoga doesn’t top the list of calorie-torching weight loss workouts one can do to see relatively quick results. But research shows that practicing yoga may work for weight loss when combined with a healthy diet. And the more often you practice yoga, the greater the results you’re likely to see on the scale.

In a massive study of more than 15,000 adults, those who had been practicing yoga for at least four years clocked in at a lower weight than those who went without a regular session. But you don’t have to have do yoga for years to see results. A small study from South Korean researchers found obese women who practiced yoga for 16 weeks saw significant improvements in body weight, body fat percentage, BMI, waist circumference, and visceral fat compared to those who didn’t exercise. In addition, one study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that a short-term yoga program could reduce weight in overweight and obese men.

So how can yoga help you lose weight? Read on.

What Type of Yoga is Best for Weight Loss?

yoga for weight loss

“If you’re looking to burn the most calories, you want to find a class that incorporates a lot of strength positions and sun salutations, particularly chaturanga dandasanas [essentially, yoga push-ups],” says yoga instructor Seth Kaufmann, C.S.C.S., co-owner of Iron Lion Fitness Studio in Florida. “In order to burn calories efficiently, you need to be moving and using the most amount of mass and muscles.”

You’ve probably heard about people sweating like crazy in heated yoga classes like Bikram, which has to translate to a ton of weight lost — right? Kaufmann says, “In theory a hot yoga class would burn more calories than a non-heated room because anytime the external temperature is extreme (hot or cold), your body has to work harder to maintain your core temperature homeostasis, thus burning calories.”

However, a small study from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse found that yoga students in a non-heated yoga class showed the same increase in core temperature and heart rate than in a hot yoga class. Researchers found that the students’ perceived effort was higher than what their vital signs revealed, leading scientists to wonder whether students didn’t end up pushing themselves as hard during some poses to compensate for the added heat and humidity in the room.

Another study from the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies found 30 minutes of just sun salutations is invigorating enough to qualify as cardiorespiratory training, and helps a 130-pound person burn an average of 230 calories. These studies point to the idea that your final caloric burn is tied more closely to how hard you’re working than how hot the room is.

Calculating Your Caloric Burn

As mentioned previously, the style of yoga you perform can play a significant role in the amount of calories you burn. But other factors such as your weight, gender, body composition, and effort level are also important. What follows are averages based on the Health Status calories burned calculator.

A 165-pound woman will burn the resulting number of calories during an hour of yoga:

  • Hatha Yoga: 207 calories
  • Ashtanga/Power Yoga: 386 calories
  • Bikram Yoga: 524 calories
  • Vinyasa: 653 calories

A 190-pound man will burn the resulting number of calories during an hour of yoga:

  • Hatha Yoga: 239 calories
  • Ashtanga/Power Yoga: 445 calories
  • Bikram Yoga: 604 calories
  • Vinyasa: 752 calories

How Slow Yoga Helps Burn Fat

OK, so should you do the most intense yoga possible if you want to lose weight? Not so fast. Even super mellow methods have their weight-loss perks. A small study at the University of California, San Diego, found that overweight women who practiced restorative yoga, which focuses less on increased heart rate and more on relaxation and stress reduction, lost around three pounds and about five inches of subcutaneous fat after six months.

This may surprise you, but it makes sense to the experts. “If you’re super stressed, your body may actually respond better to yoga than [high intensity] cardio,” says Pete McCall, C.S.C.S., personal trainer and adjunct faculty of exercise science at San Diego Mesa College.

Physical stress (as triggered by high intensity exercise) and psychological stress (caused by work, family, etc.) both activate the sympathetic nervous system, which controls the “fight or flight” response. When you go into “fight or flight” mode, your body increases its production of the hormone cortisol. In the short term, that’s a good thing; cortisol is a performance enhancer, increasing the concentration of glucose (your body’s primary fuel source) in the blood. But if levels never return to normal (e.g., because of chronic stress), cortisol can also promote weight gain. That’s why doing high intensity workouts might hamper weight loss efforts if you’re already (and chronically) “super stressed”—you’re layering stress on top of stress, and cortisol on top of cortisol.

To counteract that, you need to activate your parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system. “By going to a gentle yoga class during a stressful time, you’ll be surprised that you’ll come out of it calmer — and actually lose weight,” says

Kaufmann agrees, “There are many physiological benefits to yoga, including stabilizing our nervous systems, improving respiratory efficiency, stomach function, hormone production, and, of course, increased strength and energy levels. These benefits in turn lower stress, improve sleep, and help the body recover and run more efficiently.”

Plus, more than half of people who do yoga report that it helps them sleep better, according to a survey from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Scoring less than five hours a night is directly related to more abdominal fat and an increase in body mass index, according to a study performed over five years on adults younger than 40 and published in the journal SLEEP. It’s hard to deny the importance of sleep — not just for your quality of life but also for weight loss.

How the Psychological Benefits of Yoga Can Aid Weight Loss

yoga for weight loss

“The greatest benefit of yoga for weight loss is learning how to love and care for yourself more, which helps you make better lifestyle decisions when it comes to caring for your body,” says Kaufmann.

And the research agrees: A study in Qualitative Health Research found that practicing yoga helped people develop physical self-empowerment, and better awareness of the self and the present moment. The women who participated in the 12-week yoga treatment program for binge eating (in the study mentioned above) reported an overall reduction in the quantity of food consumed, decreased eating speed, and an improvement in food choices.

“The core essence of yoga is to teach us to live fully present in the moment, accepting what is, and letting go of anything that doesn’t serve us,” says Kaufmann. “When we can live our lives with more mindfulness we will make better decisions when it comes to what we do for our health.”

To most Westerners, yoga is more often associated with trendy fitness studios. But the practice originally began as a philosophy in India roughly 5,000 years ago, and incorporates so much more than merely the postures and poses it’s famous for today.

The true practice of yoga encompasses eight limbs: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption). It’s the combination of all eight of those limbs (not just the one that stretches the limbs) that can lead to weight loss for men and women.

“There are many studies that suggest that stress and the hyper-palatable food supply filled with refined carbohydrates create an internal biochemistry that activates the amygdala of the brain and make us less thoughtful choice-makers,” explains Annie B. Kay, RDN, E-RYT 500 registered yoga instructor, and lead nutritionist at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. “Yoga helps reduce stress as well as provides movement, which helps change that internal biochemistry to one that supports a more balanced brain activation (the cerebral cortex or executive function), which makes us better choice makers.

“From my experience, the primary way yoga helps with weight management is through stress management, and with its philosophy of compassion and cultivation of contentment,” continues Kay. “With yoga, there is an entire philosophical guide for living in balance with yourself and with others that can be helpful from an emotional standpoint. It provides a framework through which to look at life issues.”

Yoga is a path toward a deep self-discovery, and the practice not only helps unearth the difference between physical and emotional hunger for those who practice, but it also stretches the mind and body in new ways to open students up for more active lifestyles. Because yoga operates on so many levels (physical, mental, emotional), it has a way of making following an overall healthful lifestyle more easily attainable.

If you’d like to give yoga a try, check out the 5-Day Yoga Body Challenge to burn calories while you stretch, or try 3 Week Yoga Retreat to learn the fundamentals of yoga.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @Forward Health

Thank you to Beachbody.

Dr. Phil Shares: Static Stretching vs. Dynamic Stretching: Which Should You Do?

warmup exercises dynamic stretching vs static

One of the biggest mistakes newcomers to fitness can make is skipping warm-up exercises before a workout. Not only is warming up valuable, it’s essential, delivering benefits beyond simply preparing your body for exercise, and extending to issues of safety and performance.

But older notions of the warm-up may compromise both, making it important to know the difference between active and passive warm-ups, static and dynamic stretching. Once you’ve settled on a workout program, budget properly for some warm-up exercises by incorporating the information below into your fitness regimen.

Static Stretching vs. Dynamic Stretching

When preparing to do any type of vigorous activity — be it playing a team sport, performing aerobic exercise, or lifting weights — you need to prepare your muscles for action. Traditionally, there have been two primary ways to do that: static stretching and active warm-up exercises.

warm-up-exercises-dynamic-vs-static-2Static stretching

This is what you probably did in your middle school P.E. class: gradually elongating a muscle and holding it for up to 30 seconds. Think side bends or the classic hamstring stretch, where you reach for your toes while sitting on the floor. The goal of these stretches is to release tension, making muscles more pliable and less susceptible to pulls and strains.

Dynamic stretching

Part of the larger category of active warm-ups, this type of preparatory activity involves movement-based stretching like bodyweight lunges and trunk rotations. Additional active warm-ups include sport-specific agility drills, sprints and shuttle runs, jumping rope, jogging, and other low-impact, light effort exercises. The goal is to prime the body for action, and it’s what smart trainers and coaches now recommend that people do not only before competition, but also before every workout.

 

The Benefits of Active Warm-Ups

Research has found that while static stretching can provide recovery benefits when performed at the end of a workout, it can hamper performance if performed at the beginning. That’s because it relaxes muscles, sapping strength, while reducing blood flow and decreasing central nervous system activity.

Active warm-up exercises — especially those that involve dynamic stretching — have the opposite effect, boosting blood flow, activating the central nervous system, and enhancing strength, power, and range of motion. As a result, they offer a host of both immediate and long term benefits.

Active warm-ups improve performance

A 2014 systematic review of 31 studies published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that active warm-ups encompassing such exercises as sprints and plyometrics can enhance power and strength performance. Meanwhile shorter, static stretching not only fails to provide such a boost, but may also reduce strength. A meta-analysis of 32 studies on warming up and performance in 2010 also found that doing an active warm-up before engaging in sports yields improved performance — in this case, by 79 percent across all criteria examined.

“I have even seen runners who are doubling up in distance events on the same day run their second event better than the first,” says Brad A. Roy, Ph.D., FACHE, FACSM, FMFA, executive director of The Summit Medical Fitness Center in Kalispell, Montana. “With adequate rest, the initial event serves as an enhanced warm-up for the second event.”

Even if you aren’t playing a sport every week — or competing in two running events in a single day — doing some dynamic stretching every time you lace up for exercise can help optimize your performance and fast track your results. It doesn’t matter whether you’re exercising in your living room, pumping iron in the gym, pounding the pavement, or hitting the links with your bros on a Sunday — priming your body for action will elevate your game and accelerate your gains.

Active warm-ups prevent injury

A 2008 study of roughly 2,000 soccer players in The BMJ found that a structured warm-up program that included running, jumping, dynamic stretching, and targeted exercises for strength, balance, core stability, and hip and knee durability decreased the overall risk of injury by 35 percent, and cut severe injuries by almost half.

Scientists at Northwestern University had similar results in their 2011 study of 1,500 athletes. They found that 20 minutes of strength, balance, plyometric, and other dynamic stretching exercises before practice yielded a 65 percent reduction in gradual-onset injuries, a 56 percent reduction in acute non-contact injuries, and a 66 percent reduction in non-contact ankle sprains. More recently, a 2014 review of studies published in Orthopaedic Nursing found that tailoring a warm-up to a specific sport led to the fewest injuries and best outcomes.

6 Quick Warm-up Exercises Everyone Should Do

Although a sport-specific warm-up is always preferable, the following dynamic stretching circuit encompassing a broad range of movements can help prepare your body for just about any athletic endeavor. Perform each move for one minute prior to working out or competing.

Shoulder Circle

  • Stand tall with your shoulders relaxed and your arms by your sides.
  • Slowly roll your shoulders in a circle (forward, up, back, down) for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat in the opposite direction.

Trunk Rotation

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  • Keeping your back straight (not arched), raise your arms straight out to your sides, and bend at the elbows.
  • Keeping your knees bent, pivot on the ball of your right foot as you rotate your torso to the left and invert the motion to the right.

Standing Hip Circle

  • Stand on one leg and raise the opposite knee to 90 degrees (your thigh should be parallel to the ground).
  • Keeping your knee raised, open your hip, making wide circles with your leg. Continue for 30 seconds.
  • Switch legs and repeat.

Leg Swing

  • Stand tall with your feet together and your arms out to your sides or gripping a stable surface for balance.
  • Shift your weight to your left leg and raise your right leg out to your side.
  • Swing your right leg parallel with your shoulders back and forth in front of your left leg. Continue for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.

Lunge

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on your hips.
  • Keeping your chest up, shoulders back, core braced, and back flat, take a large step forward with your right foot. Lower your body until your front thigh is parallel to the ground and your rear knee is bent 90 degrees. (It should hover a couple of inches above the ground.)
  • Pause, and then reverse the movement to return to the starting position. Repeat, this time stepping forward with your left foot. Continue alternating legs.

Related: How to Do the Perfect Forward Lunge

Half Squat

  • Stand tall with your arms by your sides and your feet hip- to shoulder-width apart.
  • Keeping your back flat and core braced, raise your arms straight out in front of you as you push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • Pause, and then push yourself back up to the starting position.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health

Dr. Phil Shares: How to Bring Mindfulness to Work

How to Bring Mindfulness to Work

You may ask yourself, “How do I bring mindfulness to work?” Mindfulness is something you practice as a being, as a person. And then it brings itself to every situation you’re in, every role that you play: at work, being a parent, being a wife, being a friend. So it’s more about how to bring mindfulness to your life.

What Is Mindfulness?

Let’s clarify what mindfulness is. For me, one of the ways I talk about it is how to be less reactive, more loving, and more present in how I act in a given situation, or how I decide not to act in a given situation as opposed to a knee-jerk reaction based on what we are conditioned to do.

The beauty of mindfulness is that the situations that come up that are challenging or could create a knee-jerk reaction are the actual situations that can bring mindfulness into your life.

How Can I Become More Mindful in My Life?

When you get triggered, you can use the situation as an opportunity to identify the types of situations that trigger you. And, rather than reacting, you can take a deep breath and allow the breath to center you.

With some practice, you become more aware and realize that when you’re reactive, you actually create more problems. So, these high-stress situations, where you feel you are not being mindful at all, serve as the best learning opportunities because you can “catch” yourself and make the shift from reactivity to mindfulness in the moment. With continuous practice, you can become a more mindful person.

It’s kind of funny, isn’t it? The very thing that you feel is disrupting your peace is the very thing that can create more peace in your life.

Any situation brings to you an opportunity to being mindful. It really forces you—if you are intent—to stop these constant, crazy reactions that just exhaust you. These reactions cause you to have bad days, then terrible weeks… as if the week is having you. But, you are the week, you create it. The week is not coming to you and saying, “This week is going to be horrible, so just enjoy the ride.”

This process has become fun for me over time—it’s a sort of game with myself. When there are situations that are quite challenging for me, I know they are also my gateway—my way in—into mindfulness. 

How Can I Bring Mindfulness into My Work Life?

Rather than thinking about how you can bring mindfulness to work, try and see it more as how mindfulness is being brought to you from work. Each time something challenging happens that brings on anger, frustration, resentment, jealously, envy, disappointment—all these emotions that come and go—you are presented with an opportunity to cultivate mindfulness within yourself by how you respond to these emotions.

Let’s say someone at work doesn’t take responsibility for something that wasn’t done or your opinion about something is not in harmony with theirs. The moment you get triggered is the moment you can take a beat and take a deep breath rather than react.

You can slow down and become a little more aware. That’s mindfulness.

You can think to yourself, “Here’s a situation that usually creates uncomfortable emotions in me and I usually feel attacked and then I react. But, instead I’m going to see this situation as an opportunity to step into mindfulness.” So, rather than speaking with frustration or running away, see your trigger as an indicator of how your mind works, then take a breath and bring mindfulness to the situation.

Shared by

Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health