woman with a headache

Having Killer Headaches? Try These Cures

Headaches are the second most common form of chronic pain, and, when your head is truly pounding, it can be hard to concentrate on other parts of life, whether this may be work, driving, or even having a simple conversation.

Rather than reaching for the drugs, give one of these tips a try the next time you are having a killer headache.

Sip on Ginger Tea

Ginger has long since been used to treat a variety of ailments, by cultures all around the world. Now, thanks to a number of clinical studies that have been carried out with this ingredient, scientists are backing it too.

So, what exactly does ginger do?

It targets the blood vessels in the head, reducing inflammation and therefore reducing pain. This is especially useful for those who suffer from migraines, as migraines are caused by excessive dilation of blood vessels in the head.

The quickest and easiest way to make use of ginger is by steeping the root in some water to make a tea, adding in some fresh lemon juice if you would like an extra tang.

ginger tea

To use ginger topically, mix together a paste with some ginger powder and a couple of tablespoons of water, and apply this directly to your forehead for a few minutes.

Stretch It Out

Headaches are often caused by muscle tension, and this can sometimes be relieved through stretching.

There are a few stretches in particular that will help to target the muscles that often contribute to headaches:

  • Stretch your neck by moving your chin forwards, upwards and then towards each shoulder, before repeating
  • Shrug your shoulders upwards, and then forwards and backwards, before repeating
  • Press your palm into your forehead and hold it there for a few seconds, before pressing a hand onto each side of your head
  • Rotate your neck in clockwise and anticlockwise directions

Try to do these stretches twice a day, repeating each stretch three to five times, with a five second break in between each one.

Give Acupuncture a Try

Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine that has been used for centuries to treat a wide range of different health issues, with thin needles being inserted underneath the skin, to rebalance the body’s flow of energy.

Sound painful?

It really isn’t. All you will feel is a slight tingling feeling when each needle is inserted.

However, there are only certain headaches that acupuncture can treat…

There are two main types of headaches out there; primary and secondary. Primary headaches include tension headaches and migraines, while secondary headaches are brought on by another health condition, such as a head injury or allergies.

Acupuncture is mainly used to treat primary headaches, whether this may be a frustrating headache that seems to return each day, or a migraine that seems to never completely disappear.

acupuncture

Each session lasts for around 30 minutes to an hour, and the cumulative effects of a few sessions can be a long-lasting way to prevent any future headaches.

Drink Up

Headaches are a common symptom of dehydration, and these can often be quickly cleared simply by drinking a few glasses of water.

This method can work for a variety of different headache types, from tension to cluster. Even if you do not feel dehydrated, drinking a few glasses of water is an easy method that is still definitely worth a try.

Beverages containing electrolytes are also a great way to boost hydration, and could help if plain water does not seem to be working quickly enough.

Take a Screen Break

If you have been spending a significant amount of time staring at a screen, whether this may be your computer at work, your TV at home, or your smartphone, this could be the reason behind your tension headache.

Try taking a break from your screen for a while, and seeing if that eases the pain.

Whether or not your screen is causing your headaches, you should really be taking regular screen breaks anyway, even if this is just for a few minutes at a time to have a drink of water or stretch your legs.

Use a Compress

Another easy method to soothe a headache away is to use a compress, holding this against the back of your neck.

hot compress

Wondering whether to go hot or cold?

If your headache is more of a dull pain, go with a hot compress, whereas if it is pulsating or throbbing, use a cold compress. This will help to lower the temperature of your blood before it enters your brain, reducing any inflammation.

Sniff A Soothing Scent

There are certain herbs out there that have scents capable of clearing even the roughest of headaches.

Here are a few to try:

  • Peppermint Oil – opens up clogged blood vessels in the head and regulates blood flow. Either mix some with water and rub this on the back of your neck, as well as your temples, or simply rub some crushed peppermint leaves on your forehead. You could also make a herbal tea with peppermint leaves, either fresh or dried, and sip this slowly, while inhaling the scent.
  • Lavender Oil this is another herb that is known for alleviating headaches, and can simply be inhaled straight to enjoy its benefits. Alternatively, mix a couple of drops in with some almond or olive oil and massage your head with this, or put a few drops into some hot water, and inhale the steam.
  • Rosemary or Thyme Oil rosemary and thyme oil have been used for centuries to treat headaches. For best results, dab a drop of the oil onto each temple, as well as onto your forehead, and massage this gently into your skin.
  • Basil Oil works as a muscle relaxant, so will clear headaches caused by muscle tension. Make a tea with fresh basil leaves, or simply chew on the leaves themselves. You can also place some fresh leaves into hot water, and inhale the steam.
  • Cloves contains cooling and pain-relieving properties, making them great for throbbing headaches. Crush a few cloves and wrap them in a clean cloth, before inhaling the scent repeatedly. Alternatively, mix some clove oil with coconut oil, as well as a bit of sea salt, and use this to gently massage your forehead and temples.

Try Yoga for Tension Headaches

If you know that your headaches are caused by tension, then yoga is something that you may want to try.

Why?

Yoga relaxes the muscles in your head, neck and back, while boosting circulation to your upper body and brain, all of which can quickly relieve a tension headache.

As soon as you notice the first sign that a headache is on its way, you should give a few of these yoga poses a go, as this will prevent your muscles from going into spasm:

  • The Simple Seated Twist
  • Gomukhasana Arms
  • The Side Stretch
  • Grabbing Opposite Elbows

Take a Magnesium Supplement

Magnesium used to be abundant in the plants and animals eaten by humans, but, due to a depletion in soil quality, natural sources of magnesium are hard to come by.

Why does this matter when you have a raging headache?

Because one of the most common symptoms of a magnesium deficiency is a headache, especially migraines.

Not only do people who experience migraines have lower levels of magnesium in their body than people who do not, but one study found that a regular intake of magnesium could actually lower the frequency of developing a migraine by 41.6%.

Wondering which is the best form of magnesium to take as a supplement?

Go for magnesium oxide, of which you will need between 400-500 milligrams each day. Even if your migraine has already started, taking a magnesium supplement immediately can help to soothe it.

Need some help right now, but don’t have any magnesium supplements to hand?

Try snacking on one of these:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Blue poppy seeds
  • Cashew nuts
  • Almonds
  • Dark chocolate

sources of magnesium

See if these sources of magnesium help with your migraines; if they do, you can count on having them regularly.

Eat Some Headache-Busting Foods

There are certain foods out there that contain compounds capable of quickly soothing a headache.

Feel the pain beginning to come in?

Head on down to your nearest grocery store and stock up on these ingredients:

  • Cherries – contain a compound called quercetin, which is not only a strong antioxidant, but also has anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory properties. Quercetin helps the body to block out pain, reducing the severity of a headache. Eat around 20 tart cherries to experience the effects, or a glass of cherry juice.
  • Spicy Foods whether you go siracha or hot peppers, spicy foods will clear your sinuses, and therefore open up your airways. This alleviates any pressure and soothes the pain of a sinus headache.
  • Bananas bananas are packed with B vitamins, which increase the levels of serotonin in the brain, meaning that they work in a similar way to an anti-depressant. This then lowers the amount of pain that your body feels, reducing the severity of a headache.

While you are dealing with a headache, it is also important to avoid headache-triggering foods. From cheese to processed meats to artificial sweeteners, try to stick to a wholesome diet when healing your body.

Walk It Off

While you may not feel like exerting yourself too much when suffering from a killer headache, exercise is actually a great way to relieve yourself of the pain.

How?

Exercise triggers the body to release endorphins, which are basically the body’s natural painkillers. If you begin to exercise regularly, you will notice a reduction in the frequency and intensity of your headaches, as well as your migraines.

So, the next time you feel a headache coming on, step outdoors and take a brisk walk, preferably somewhere quiet. Even if this is only for ten minutes, this is still enough time to stimulate your brain to release the endorphins that will soothe your head.

Relaxation Exercises

While additional research in this area is still needed, current studies show that relaxation exercises could really help reduce the intensity of a headache.

What exactly are relaxation exercises?

They could be anything from listening to calming music, using mental imagery to unwind, or doing some deep breathing.

Try this the next time you have a headache:

  • Lie still, breathing in and out slowly
  • Think of a mantra and repeat this in your head, to stop your mind from wandering
  • Beginning with your toes, contract and relax your muscles one at a time, working your way up your legs through your body, until you reach your head.
  • Take your time with this, so that it takes around 20 minutes

Change Your Pillow

If you tend to wake up with a headache in the morning, this could be down to your pillow.

Pillows are designed to keep the head in line with the neck and spine while a person is sleeping, but if you end up with your head being misaligned, this can lead to headaches.

Pay attention to your pillow density, as those that are too soft do not provide enough support, while those that are too hard can lead to other problems.

How often should you be changing your pillow.

Every few months, or when they start to lose their original form. 

When suffering from killer headaches, it can be easy to just reach for the pills to numb the pain, but this is not something that you want to be relying on in the long run. By giving some of these methods a try, you may just find an easy, and completely natural, way to soothe a raging headache.

 

woman doing crunches

20 Bodyweight Exercises You Can Try at Home

Unlike many other workout types, bodyweight exercises do not actually require any special equipment, and can easily be carried out at home. By using nothing else but the weight of your body and the power of gravity, these 20 bodyweight exercises will help you to build muscle and burn fat, while giving yourself such a satisfying workout.

1. Squats

squats

Squats are not only one of the most effective of bodyweight exercises, but are also the most natural, as this is the same way in which a baby would sit down.

While this may seem like a simple exercise, a squat works out all of the muscles in the lower body, and gives your core a boost as well, since you will be using your abdominal muscles to keep yourself upright.

However, make sure that your technique is correct when doing this exercise, otherwise you may cause more damage than good…

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and then bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Use your heels to help you to stand back up straight again, squeezing your buttocks in and keeping your core tight while you do so.

 

2. Burpees

While burpees are quite intense, many would argue that this is the single most effective exercise in the world, as it works out almost every muscle group, combining cardio and strength into one exercise. 

To do a burpee, these are the four steps that you must follow:

  • Stand with your feet together, and then drop into a deep squat position with your hands on the floor
  • Kick your feet backwards so that your body is in a plank position
  • Jump your feet back into a low squat position
  • Jump back up, with your arms reaching overhead

If you want to make this exercise a little easier to begin with, take out the last jump, and simply stand up at the end instead.

Or, if you want to make this exercise a little harder, add in a tuck jump just before the squat.

 

3. Push-Ups

push ups

Push-ups are great as they work out just about every muscle group in the upper body, from your back to your arms to your abs.

They are also easy to do, but you need to ensure that your position is correct…

Your shoulders should be lined up with your wrists, while your elbows should be tucked in towards your side. You should also be trying to get your hips and chest as close to the floor as possible while doing this exercise, without actually touching the floor.

 

4. Calf-Raise

The calf-raise is an extremely simple exercise, but can be adapted to suit your needs.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Stand up straight and slowly rise up on your toes, until your heels are off the floor, but make sure that you keep your knees straight
  • Hold the position briefly before coming back down and repeating

Wondering how to make this exercise a bit more challenging?

Try standing on a step while doing it, or bounce up and down quickly so that you get more reps in.

 

5. Step-Up

This is an exercise that requires a raised surface, such as a step, low chair or bench.

All you need to do is place one foot onto this surface and then step up on it, until your front leg is straight.

Hold this briefly before returning to your starting position, making sure that you step down rather than jump down.

 

6. Plank

plank

When it comes to defining the core, the plank has become one of the most popular exercises.

Here are the steps to follow to correctly carry out a plank:

  • Lie face down with your forearms touching the floor and your hands clasped
  • Extend your legs behind you and rise up on your toes
  • Tighten your core, and hold this position for as long as you can, making sure that your back is kept straight

 

7. Feet-Elevated Plank

Once you have mastered the standard plank, you can then move on to trying some of the many plank variations that are out there.

The feet-elevated plank is one of these, and is basically the same as a standard plank, but is carried out on a raised surface to make it more challenging.

Try it on something like a chair or low table first, as you do not want the surface to be too high.

 

8. Side Plank

side plank

Another plank variation, the side plank requires you to lie on your side, with just one foot, and one forearm, touching the floor.

Once you have done this, raise your body up slowly, making sure to keep it in a straight line.

Hold this for as long as you can before gently lowering yourself back down. Make sure that you do this exercise using both sides of your body.

 

9. Handstand Push-Up

Handstand push-ups will give your body a great workout, and are especially effective at building up the shoulders.

Haven’t yet mastered the handstand?

Use a wall to help you, placing your feet against this.

Once you can do this for 60 seconds, you can then begin incorporating push-ups into this.

 

10. Donkey Kicks

donkey kick

The donkey kick, also known as the back kick, works out a number of different muscle groups:

  • The core
  • All three muscles in the buttocks
  • The lower back
  • The legs

Here is what you need to do:

    • Begin on the floor on all fours
    • Bring your right knee in towards your chest, keeping your foot flexed
    • Kick your right leg up behind you, and then bring it back down, keeping your knee bent while doing so
    • Repeat this with the other leg

 

11. Crab Walk

The crab walk targets your triceps, glutes and your core, while also improving your coordination. While it may take a few days to master this move, it will not be long before you are speeding across the floor…crab-style, of course!

All you need to do is sit on the ground in a comfortable position, with your palms behind your hips. Then, pull your body up off the ground, so that your weight is resting on your hands and feet.

Use your left foot, and your right hand, to move yourself one step forward or backward, before repeating with the other hand and foot.

TOP TIP: Make sure that you keep your abdominal muscles engaged, and your hips lifted off the floor for the entire duration of the exercise.

 

12. Bicycle Crunches

bicycle crunches

Unlike regular crunches, bicycle crunches require deeper abdominal rotation and stabilization, which gives your core an intense workout.

They are also easy to do, with only a few steps to follow:

  • Lie on the ground with your knees bent and hands behind your head
  • Lift your legs off the ground and slowly make a pedalling motion, just like riding a bicycle
  • Keep your hands behind your head, and, as each leg comes towards you, bring the opposing elbow over to meet it

 

13. Dragon Flag

Looking for a serious challenge?

Then the dragon flag is the exercise for you.

If you have not heard of this one before, here is what you need to do:

  • Lie on your back and hold on to something behind your head
  • Keeping your upper back on the floor, raise the rest of your body off of the floor
  • Brace every muscle that you can in order to keep your body in a straight line

 

14. Side Lunges

side lunge

When it comes to the majority of bodyweight exercises out there, these tend to move your body in one of two ways; up and down, or forward and back.

This is exactly why the side lunge is such a good exercise to incorporate into your workout, as it gets your body moving in a different way. This means that it will challenge your muscle fibers, ligaments, and tendons in a way that the rest of your workout does not.

To do this exercise, begin by standing with your feet apart, and then take a large step out towards your right. Bend your knee and push your buttocks back, while keeping your core tight and your chest lifted.

Return back to your starting position and then repeat on the other side.

Want to give your core even more of a challenge?

Try adding in a side leg lift with each lunge.

 

15. Sit-Up

Sit-ups are quite a popular exercise, and this is because they are also one of the most challenging of bodyweight exercises.

Why?

Since you are not able to use your arms or legs to help you to sit up, you end up using a far greater amount of abdominal strength.

Simply lie on the ground with your knees bent, and then contract your abs to lift your body up off the ground. Make sure that you limit the amount of movement that your lower back does.

Finding standard sit-ups too challenging?

Try doing a crunch variation instead, until you build up some abdominal strength.

 

16. Twisting Sit-Up

twisting sit up

If you are bored of regular sit-ups, try giving the twisting sit-up a try instead, which is an advanced form of the standard version.

For those of you who are already familiar with sit-ups, this exercise will be easy to do. The only difference with this one is that at the top of each movement, you need to bring the opposite elbow towards your knee.

Make sure that you do not over-rotate your body, as this can cause quite a bit of damage over time.

 

17. Jumping Jacks

When it comes to the different types of exercise out there, jumping often gets a bad reputation. However, there is nothing quite like it when it comes to increasing bone density, so, if this is one of your aims, you may want to give this exercise a try. 

Here are a few of the other benefits that jumping jacks can bring:

  • One of the best plyometric exercises there is
  • Provides a great cardio workout
  • Will improve your speed and quickness

Ready to give it a go?

Simply jump up, spreading your legs to the side while lifting your arms at the same time. Once you land, jump back up and do it again.

Jumping jacks are also a great one to warm up with, so consider adding this to the start of your workout.

 

18. Squat Jacks

jumping jack before squat

Squat jacks take jumping jacks to the next level, by throwing a squat in there too.

Here are the steps to follow:

    • Stand with your feet together and your hands at your chest
    • Jump so that your feet go outwards, but sit into a small squat at the same time
    • Jump your feet back together to bring yourself back into your standing position
    • Repeat

 

19. Tuck Jumps

Everyone has their own individual goals when it comes to working out, and if yours include improving your agility and power, while working on jumping higher, then tuck jumps are the way to go.

This is a powerful, yet fun, exercise that has been proven to strengthen just about every single part of the body, and is especially beneficial when it comes to heart health.

To begin with…

Stand up straight with your knees slightly bent, and then jump as high as possible.

Now for the tricky part…

While you are in the air, bring your knees in towards your chest, while extending the arms straight out, almost as though you are tucking your knees in.

Bend your knees slightly as you land, and then repeat the exercise.

 

20. Wall Sit

wall sit

The wall sit works out a number of different muscle groups, including your hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and your core. 

To do this exercise, follow these steps:

  • Slide your back down a wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground, and your knees are directly over your ankles
  • Keep your back straight, and hold this position for 60 seconds, before returning to standing position.
  • Try to repeat this five times, although you may need to build up to this gradually.

If you want to give yourself an extra challenge, try adding in some bicep curls while you are “sitting”.

 

When it comes to working out, it is important to make sure that you do not push yourself too hard to begin with, as this may only end up deterring you. Instead, set yourself some realistic goals, and take the steps necessary to ensure that you stick to them. 

The Profile Of A Healthy TV Dinner

The Profile Of A Healthy TV Dinner

The original frozen dinners were literal recipes for disaster. Take the fact that they were first introduced  in the 1950’s when a nutritious dinner was defined by meatloaf and mashed potatoes with pie for desert. Add to that the fact that they catered to bachelors, whose main goals of eating were to fill their stomachs. Then, consider that the food had to be preserved, which adds a boatload of sodium to the equation. Put it all together, and you get a 1,040 calorie chicken pot pie, with 62 grams of fat, 26 grams of saturated fat, 1,480 mgs of sodium, and 14 grams of sugar.

As you may have guessed, there has been an appropriate amount of backlash. With the increased knowledge of nutrition, it comes as no surprise that sooner or later someone was likely to come up with a slightly more balanced way of preparing dinner instantly. Here are some of the kindler, more gentler versions of the original enemy of the artery.

Chicken and Harissa Chickpeas

The ingredient list in this meal is so healthy, you might start feeling stronger just thinking about it.  This North African option blends chicken, broccoli, butternut squash, chickpeas, brown jasmine rice and kale, topped with harissa, a spicy paste consisting of garlic, hot chili peppers, coriander, and caraway seeds, known to blast away fat. Capsaicin, the ingredient that gives the sauce its kick, is a proven appetite suppressant and metabolism booster, and the regular consumption of the caraway seed is associated with weight loss as well.

Quinoa Bowls

You may not know how to pronounce it, but you have probably seen quinoa popping up on restaurant menus and in health food stores quite a lot recently. Why are the bowls popular? They provide an easy way to combine flavors and spices with protein, healthy grains, and produce. The South American inspired quinoa bowl mixes meat free proteins, such as black beans, and red quinoa, for a meat free answer to high protein.

The Profile Of A Healthy TV Dinner

Thai Stir Fry

With all the new super foods on the market, tofu almost seems to get taken for granted. However, its still a very healthy option and can be the basis of a smart frozen dinner choice. Try an organic heat and eat, mixing tofu with a rainbow of veggies, including carrots, cabbage, broccoli, jalapeños, zucchini, and hot pepper for a low fat, high protein boost.

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Ravioli in the microwave! How revolutionary! These protein and vitamin A filled ravs are stuffed with ricotta and butternut squash, and topped with kale, roasted tomatoes, and a sage garlic and lemon sauce. Wait til you tell your coworkers what was on the menu at your house last night!

Black Bean and Mango Bowl

This is an exotic combo for a frozen dinner. The entree is served on a bed of whole grain and sesame pilaf, comprised of brown rice oats rye, red wheat, barley, and sesame seeds. Top that with black beans, peppers, carrots and roasted onions, and you’ve got a bowl loaded with fiber and protein. Add some mango, ginger, and other seasonings, and you have preservatives that keeps the sodium content down for better heart health.

What is your best frozen dinner recipe? Let us know how you do health in front of the TV!

This Side Dish Is Great For Your Health

This Side Dish Is Great For Your Health

Sauerkraut. It may be thought of as cole slaw’s less appreciated distant cousin. Both are made from sliced cabbage, yet, it may be said that sauerkraut takes a more acquired taste. However, that’s not to say the sour side dish does not have its own cult following. Dyed in the wool New Yorkers couldn’t imagine their beloved Reuben sandwich without the distinctive taste of the fermented cabbage, and a baseball game just wouldn’t be the same without a tangy heap of the condiment topping traditional the hot dog. It may not surprise you to know, that there may be a reason for the less favorable comparison the less favorable comparison to cole slaw.
Although both dishes are vegetable based, cole slaw is smothered in processed mayonnaise, whereas coleslaw get its taste from more natural sources, which actually, makes it surprisingly good for you. Here are some of the reasons sauerkraut may be giving coleslaw a run for the money/

  • Sauerkraut is Packed With Vitamins

Sauerkraut is packed with vitamin C, a vital antioxidant that joins forces with vitamin K, calcium, potassium, and phosphorous to give sauerkraut its vitamin packed punch. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant which helps the body defend itself from stress and damage from free radicals. Vitamin K is know to support healthy clotting of bloods, while fermentation makes minerals easier for the body to absorb.

  • Sauerkraut Is Good For Digestion

Sauerkraut is a probiotic, which means it contains beneficial bacteria that help to protect against toxins and less beneficial bacteria. In other words, probiotics fuel the good bacteria in the gut to improve digestive health, which can lessen bloating, diarrhea, gas, constipation and even symptoms linked to ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

  • Sauerkraut can Assist In Weight Loss

Fiber filled and low in calories, sauerkraut can make you feel full longer which makes it a perfect snack for in between meals and an excellent aid in weight control. Its tangy potent taste also stays around for a while to keep taste buds satisfied, and at only 15 calories in two thirds a cup, it would be hard to gain a significant amount of weight on a sauerkraut diet.

  • Sauerkraut Can Reduce Alzheimer’s

Studies show a link between gut health and brain health. In fact, a recent study done by Lund University in Sweden found that unhealthy flora in the intestines can speed the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Additional research on mice showed that probiotics have a positive effect on the memory.

  • Sauerkraut is Heart Healthy

Researchers have found that sauerkraut reduces triglyceride and cholesterol levels while boosting antioxidant levels that help to rid the body of oxidative agents that can damage the blood vessels and heart. The fiber in sauerkraut helps rid the walls of the arteries and blood vessels of cholesterol by forming a bond with the fats and cholesterol and removing them from the body, resulting in lower cholesterol absorption by the bloodstream.

What ways are you finding to include more sauerkraut in your diet? Let us know your best sauerkraut recipes!

couple doing walking lunges

Exercises That Help Shape Your Body

Some people look great exercising. Their limbs seem to relax into certain positions, their faces full of fierce determination, their bodies long and lithe. For others, however, the struggle is a little more evident. Graceful angles seem unattainable, body parts jiggle, eyes cross, mouths gasp, hip width and sweat drips. If you find yourself in the latter category, exercising publicly may not be on the agenda. However, if you are one of the blessed, for whom physical exercise comes effortlessly, you can exercise just about anywhere. Here are some exercises for those without issues.

Walking Lunges
If you don’t mind people wondering why you’re taking such emphasized steps, walking lunges are a great way to get some outside exercise in. Start off standing with you hip-width apart. Take a giant step forward and bend your knees until your rear knee almost reaches the ground. You will know if you are doing them correctly if your shoulder, hip, and knee form a straight line. Be sure to keep your shoulders back and continue, alternating legs.

Body Weight of Air Squats
The squat is another great way of toning the legs and butt. Begin with the feet about a shoulder width apart, turning toes out slightly. Hold your chest up and shoulders back as you bend your knees and begin to sit back onto your heels. Lower yourself to an angle of approximately 90 degrees, or a little less, and then use your muscles to power your body back up with a little more speed, without overextending your knee. Do three to five sets of 20-30 repetitions.

woman doing mountain climbers

Mountain Climber
This is a great exercise which targets the whole body and is great for alternating between lunges and air squats. Start in a plank position with lips lined up directly under your shoulder with your stomach muscles tight. Alternate lifting feet up toward your hands in a running motion. Do three to five sets of 30- 40 reps of this, making sure to keep your tummy tight while trying to keep hips from sagging.

Push Ups
Because women often lack the upper body strength for pushups, stabilizing the upper body may be a helpful strategy in execution. Begin with hands just beyond your shoulders and stomach, keeping your glutes tight. Lower yourself, leading with the chest and then push yourself away whatever you are leaning on. Allow your chest to stretch and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you lower yourself. Use your legs, abs, and chest to pull yourself back up. Try to get in three to five sets of 10 to 15 pushup repetitions.

woman doing step-ups outdoors

Step Ups
Another great booty shaper, step ups are done by first finding something stable to step your foot on. Keep all your weight on the heel of the raised foot, and step up. Try to prevent going forward as you go up, keeping your upper body in a straight line. Use your butt, keeping your weight centered on your heel. You can add a little more core resistance by starting with the foot on the ground slightly bent. Aim for three to five sets of 15 to 20 repetitions, alternating legs.

If you give any of these a try, let us know how they go. And let us know what other exercises we can do without a gym membership.

woman refusing cupcakes

Living A Sugar-Free Lifestyle

If you’re planning to give up sugar, the first thing you need to realize is, it’s going to be tough. You may have seen articles about how you can, “Give up Sugar In Ten Easy Steps.” Well, you can omit the easy part. These articles will probably tell you that if you realized how much sugar was in your favorite candy bar, you wouldn’t eat it. The truth is, once you realize what the sugarless version of the candy bar tastes like, you’ll be running back to the original. The second thing you need to realize about giving up sugar is, it may be worth it. Here are some of the facts on living a sugar-free lifestyle.

Why Is Sugar Bad?

Worsens Cholesterol
Scientists have found a definite link between sugar and high levels of blood fats. Studies show that eating sugar can more than triple the odds of having low HDL cholesterol levels, which are strongly associated with heart disease.

Sugar and Diabetes
Although eating sugar does not cause diabetes, higher sugar intakes have been linked to the disease. According to Rachel K. Johnson, RD, it may be that the sugar contributes to obesity, which, in turn, raises the risk for diabetes. She says, “It may be because the sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with higher BMIs or associated with overweight and obesity, which we know is a risk factor for diabetes.”

woman eating salad

Living Sugar-Free
It has been said that withdrawing from sugar may cause the same neurological symptoms as quitting morphine, nicotine, cocaine, and alcohol. If you think you’re up to the challenge, here are a few pieces of advice.

Don’t Use Artificial Sugar Substitutes
Most scientists agree that replacing sugar with artificial substitutes is just trading one bad habit for the other. By still fulfilling your craving for sweetness, you are leaving yourself open to sugar temptations. The real trick is to trade the sweet stuff for the savory, or as Kristine Kirkpatrick MD recommends, trading “licorice for salmon.”

Don’t Go Fat-Free
Fat-free doesn’t mean sugar fee. In fact, many fat-free products have higher sugar levels to compensate for the lack of fat. Fat-free angel cake has 20 more grams of sugar per slice than the sugary version. A better solution is to keep monosaturated fat-containing products, like salad dressing and peanut butter to the full-fat variety and avoid saturated fats, found typically in cookies, cakes, and muffins.

woman drinking milk

Exercise and Drink Milk
One thing that makes sugar hard to kick is the feel good factor. Sugar has been shown to stimulate reward mechanisms within the brain. One study shows that consuming whey protein ( a major component of milk) has a similar effect. Milk increases serotonin levels in the brain known to cause mood elevation and therefore may make a good replacement for the “sugar high.” Exercise has been proven to have similar effects.

Keep Healthy Snacks On Hand
Keeping healthy, sugar-free food options close by are a good way of avoiding the temptation to grab the occasional ice cream or candy from the vending machine. Nuts, raisins, fruit, and cheese are all options for replacing sugar loaded snacks. Try to keep them within reach, glove compartments, purses, and desk drawers are all handy places for a healthy stash.

If you’re quitting, or have quit sugar, let us know how you’re handling the challenge. Let us know what you’re doing to keep sugar free.

Woman with headphones on the bed

Add Pink Noise To Your Bedroom Routine

Let’s face it, everything is better in pink. If there are two cupcakes, one with white icing and one with pink, which one do you pick? Hostess snowballs? Definitely better in pink. If your Mom bought you and your sister notebooks, she had better have made sure both or neither were pink. Party dresses? Don’t even go there.

If you are familiar with white noise, you know it to be that pleasant buzzing that often occurs when the radio loses reception. It is often used in healthcare to block out noise caused by hearing impairments or as a sleep aid, but did you know about pink noise? Although it may sound like the latest psychedelic rock movement, pink noise is more accurately the latest proposed solution to sleep interruption. And, according to a recent study, it may actually help to improve memory as well.

Sound Stimulation and Sleep
According to recent research done at Northwestern University, when gentle sound stimulation is synced up to the rhythm of brain waves, it can not only lead to a better sleep in older adults, but can also improve their ability to remember specific words.

Why Deep Sleep Is important
Memory loss typically occurs throughout the process of aging; so does the gradual decrease in deep sleep. Scientists suspect a connection. Because deep sleep is a critical component in the consolidation of memory, it is believed that a reduction in one may be responsible for a reduction in the other. Therefore, scientists believe that using sound stimulation to induce deep sleep may be the solution to memory loss.

During deep sleep, brainwave production is reduced to a rate of one per second, quite a bit slower than the 10 oscillations that happen during the seconds when one is awake. Giovanni Santstasi, co-author of the study was able to create an algorithm capable of transmitting audio during the rising of slow wave oscillations, to boost the synchronization of neural activity.

Woman sleeping

The Study
The study was comprised of 13 individuals aged 60 and up recruited from Northwestern’s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center. It targeted individuals suffering from low levels of sleep and memory loss.

The aim of the study was to monitor brain waves in individuals using a breakthrough audio system that can lock in audio stimulation at the moment when specific neuron communication occurs during deep sleep.

Participants were exposed to a night of acoustic stimulation followed by a night of false stimulation. The two stimulations were identical, except for the fact that the individuals did not hear noise in the false stimulation. Upon awakening, the subjects were given memory tests, with another set given the following morning.

Results
The study found that while memory recall ability rose by a couple of percentage points following the false stimulation, those who listened to the pink noise showed a vast increase in memory recall. In fact, those who were subjected to the acoustic stimulation showed three times as much improvement as their counterparts. These finding suggest that slow wave sleep can indeed have a significant impact on memory.

What Does This Mean?
For those suffering memory loss, the new is good. It suggests that there might be a way to safely improve memory without the use of expensive, side effect inducing medicine. “Pink noise” may offer a completely safe and simple alternative.

What do you think about the latest findings? Is pink the new white? Let us know!

Your Diet May Help Regulate Your Mood

Normally, eating when stressed is ill advised. The term usually brings to mind the image of someone who has just had some shocking news running frantically to their freezer in search of the curative pint of ice cream. He/she gorges greedily, only to awaken the next day not only to find their troubles still very much present, but an additional five pounds added to their body weight.

However, what if you learned that eating actually can relieve stress? You just need to make sure that when you open that freezer, you reach for the frozen grapes instead of the vanilla swirl.

The Anti-Stress Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables
You may know that fruit and vegetables are packed with vitamins and nutrients, but did you know that they might also help to ease stress, anxiety, and depression. A recent study examined diet of 60,000 Australians aged 45 and up, only to reveal that those who had 3-4 servings of fruits and begins a day had 12% less psychological stress than those who had just one. Those who got five to seven servings had an even bigger reduction in stress, showing a 14% reduction as compared to the single serving percentage.

Ladies Only?
However, the researchers found that in a study based on a 10 question comparative survey focusing on anxiety and depression between the years of 2006 -2008 and 2010, males subjects did not show the same results. Says study co-author and University of Sidney PhD student, Binh Nguyen, “We found the fruit and vegetables were more protective for women than men, suggesting that women may benefit more from fruit and vegetables.” The questionnaire revealed that women who consumed 5 to 7 portions of vegetables and fruits experienced a 23% reaction in stress levels in comparison to ladies who only ate 0-1 portion. Two portions produced a reduction in stress of 16%.

Happy woman

More Work To Be Done
While you may not want to wait to start consuming more fruits and veggies, the authors of the studies do stipulate that there is more work to be done before any definite conclusions can be reached. They state that while the intake of fruits and vegetables may reduce the stress levels in middle-aged and older adults, the link between the diet and psychological distress requires further investigation.

Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables
But while we wait for the final verdict, keep eating those veggies and fruits. The mental health charity “Mind” says, “Vegetables and fruit contain a lot of the minerals, vitamins, and fiber we need to keep us physically and mentally healthy. Eating a variety of different-colored fruits and vegetables every day means you’ll get a good range of nutrients-several portions of the same type of food won’t be so good for you.”

As for choosing the best fruits and veggies: tomatoes, bananas and mushrooms top the list for their high potassium levels which are “essential for your whole nervous system, including your brain. they also advise keeping fruits and veggies raw for the highest number of nutrients.

What do you think? Do fruits and veggies make you feel a little less stressed? Let us know the results of your private research.

Summer walking

Tips For Starting A Summer Walking Routine

To some, high-intensity internal workouts are the most efficient way of exercising; to others, they are a bizarre three-minute self-torture ritual. Although at times it may seem like the world is being overtaken by the overachieving and impossibly healthy, there are some who still prefer to keep their exercise routines a bit more humane.

Most of us learn to walk by the time we’re eighteen months – so let’s talk about an exercise routine so easy that even a baby can do it. Here are some tips for beginning a summer walking routine.

How To Start
The first thing you need for walking is a good pair of shoes and some comfy clothes. Start out slow. Head out the door, walk for ten minutes and walk back. Repeat every day for a week. If you find yourself building stamina, add five minutes to next week’s walk. Keep increasing as is comfortable.

Posture
Keep good posture in mind when you walk. Walk tall. Keep your mind on elongating your body. Your head should be up, your eyes focused forward, Keep your shoulders down, relaxed and back, with your abdominal muscles and buttocks tight.

Preparation
Make sure to have water handy at all times. Be sure to get enough to drink before you walk, and take the water bottle along for mid walk hydration. Try adding stretches to your routine. For example, you might start at a slow pace and stop to do a few warm up drills for flexibility. Slow down your pace at the end of the walk and take some time for a few more stretches. This will help you to feel better while preventing injury.

Sticking with It
The toughest thing for most people starting a fitness routine is making it routine. You should try to walk daily, aiming for a minimum five days of exercise per week. Walk fast enough to increase your heart rate, but not so fast that you find yourself short of breath.

Three friends walking

How Much Should You Do?
Speed and distance should not be a priority in the beginning, but once the habit starts to stick, you may want to start developing goals. Here are some general health guidelines:

People walking for general health benefits should try and get in a half hour minimum each day, most days of the week, keeping to “talking pace,” or a comfortable pace at which you can still hold a conversation.

For improvement of cardiovascular fitness, three to four days a week are recommended, doing 20 to 30 minutes at a very fast pace. You will find your breathing is elevated, but you should not be gasping for air. Warming up and cooling down time should be additional to the time spent walking.

Those walking to lose weight should probably aim to do 45 to 60 minutes five days a week at a moderate to brisk rate. The faster you walk, the more calories you will burn. However, make sure to increase pace and mileage gradually to prevent injury.

Tips For Walking Faster
Once you become comfortable with your routine, you may want to speed it up a little. Here are some guidelines for walking faster:

  • Use good posture. Walk tall, keep your gaze forward, focused about 20 feet ahead of you, chin level and head up.
  • Your chest should be slightly raised with your shoulders down, back and relaxed.
  • Your arms should be bent at an angle slightly less severe than 90 degrees. Gently cup your hands and swing arms front to back. The faster you swing your arms, the faster your feet will go, but do not swing elbows higher than your breastbone.
  • Tighten abs and buttocks; keep back flat and pelvis slightly forward.
  • Visualize yourself walking in a straight line.Take smaller faster steps to go faster, trying not to elongate your stride.
  • Push off with your toes, concentrating on landing on your heel and rolling through the step. Use the spring of your calf to propel you.
  • Take deep rhythmic breaths to get the maximum amount of oxygen. Your breathing should be heightened, but not strained.

Have you started your summer exercise routine? How are you staying hot this summer? Let us know!

Happy mother and daughter

Help The Girls In Your Life Glow With Confidence

You’ve had your highs and lows. Your walks of fame and your walks of shame. And if there’s one thing you’ve learned from your experiences, its that confidence is the key. There is no situation that cannot be handled by holding your head high and shaking what your mama gave you. And now, its time for you to pass the torch. You’ve got a niece or a daughter and, if you teach her anything in this life, you’re determined that it will be the power of confidence. But, how can you do it? How can you show this shy acne plagued girl that she has so much untapped power at her command? Here are a few ideas.

Manage Your Inner Critic
Your girl is probably pretty hard on herself. Teach her to take notice of her inner voice. Would her best friend talk to her like that? Teach her to work on changing negative thoughts into helpful feedback.

Focus On the Good Things
A lot of teens focus so much on their problems, that its hard for them to see all the things that are going well for them. Suggest that she write down three good things about herself everyday or three ways she’s able to bring about a positive change in her life daily.

Mother and daughter

Don’t Aim For Perfection
Teach her that any achievements are valid. Even if she doesn’t get a perfect mark on a test, it doesn’t mean that she didn’t do well. Encourage her to always put in her best effort.

Mistakes Are Learning Opportunities
Remind your teenager that if she can fix her mistakes, they are not mistakes at all, but victories. Don’t let her get down on herself for messing up and remind her to focus on what she can do better next time.

Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
Teach your girl that her own accomplishments are the only ones that matter. Trying to get ahead of other people will only leave her further behind them.

Accept Compliments
She’s great and needs to get used to people telling her so. Advise her to give herself time to absorb a compliment and take it seriously, and pass it on! Complements should be given and received.

Happy teenage girl

Exercise
Staying physically active always helps to improve self-esteem. She’ll look better and feel less stressed while staying healthy.

Take Pride In Your Thoughts
If she’s a chip off the old block, your girl probably has a lot of good ideas to offer. Tell her to be bold about them. If someone disagrees, it just means that they see things differently than she does.

Accept What You Can’t Change
Sure, there are going to be things about herself that she’s not completely happy with. If its something she can change, like reaching a healthy weight, she should start today. If its something she can’t change, she probably notices it more than anyone else, and its probably not worth obsessing over.

Contribute
Nothing builds self esteem like helping to make a positive change. When she sees how much she can accomplish, her self esteem will sky rocket.

if you have a girl in you’re life that you want to see flourish, tell us about her. Let us know what she’s doing to build confidence and how you’re helping her do it. We want to hear all about it.

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