One of the best ways to make sure I’m consistently sticking to a healthy diet is with rewards. Yes, it’s true that nutritious meals are a reward unto themselves. However, when I’m faced with a choice between a tasty nutrient dense meal and one drowning in cheese, it can be a struggle. I do love a lot of cheese!
Therefore, when it comes to making sure I’ll make the right choices, I make rewards something other than food. I can’t in all good conscience reward myself for eating a huge spinach salad by having a bag of chips! The solution is to stop thinking of food as a reward. Food is food. It tastes great and the right choices make for a healthy body, too. Rewards need to come from elsewhere.
These Rewards Make Sticking to a Healthy Diet Easier
Some rewards are so great they not only let me stay motivated to keep up my diet, but they do more, too. Some of them can help me to keep up my exercising as well. These double duty rewards include:
• Buying a new workout outfit – There are few things that can motivate me to do a workout faster than getting myself a new outfit. Even if it’s the same yoga top I already wear but in a new color, the novelty makes me want to use it.
• Getting a new pair of running shoes – For the exact same reason as a new outfit, new running shoes will do the same thing. What I like about shoes is that they can help to improve my performance, too.
• Getting a massage – I absolutely love a good massage. What a fantastic reward for being good at meal time! Even better, when I get a massage, it works out all my muscle aches and pains and it helps me sleep better at night. When it comes to sticking to a healthy diet a massage is a great reward and it makes dieting easier, too.
Great Rewards for Sticking to a Healthy Diet and Reaching Goals
Some rewards are great because they help push you to meet your goals. Consider these ones to excite you enough to keep going.
• Check out a new movie – Head to the local theater and catch that movie you’ve been waiting to see. Make it your reward for sticking to our weight loss strategy. Just go easy on the popcorn or you’ll work against yourself.
• Get a mani/pedi – Pampering yourself with a manicure and/or a pedicure is a fantastic way to celebrate the good you’re doing for your body.
Get a new hairstyle – What better way to polish off how great you look than to get a fresh haircut. You’ll feel like a whole new you. It’s the perfect reward for sticking to a healthy diet.
One of the top tips you’ll ever hear when it comes to weight loss – aside from eating right and exercising – is to drink water. You’ve likely heard it dozens upon dozens of times and that isn’t about to stop any time soon. The fact is that adequate H2O makes a tremendous difference to your overall health and your body’s ability to function. At the same time, it also provides you with certain benefits that can be highly advantageous to your weight loss efforts.
Drinking enough water keeps your metabolism running as quickly as possible and supports healthy digestion. You rely on both of those functions to be at their best in order to be able to shed the pounds with as much speed and little effort as you can.
How Much Water to Drink for Weight Loss and Why
Is More Water the Key?
That said, more often than not, you’ll hear that the key to losing weight efficiently is to drink more water. Do you really need to drink more water than you already are? Is there a difference between seeking adequate hydration and continually drinking additional amounts of water? Absolutely!
The key to efficient weight loss may be to drink more water if you aren’t already drinking enough. However, if you’re already hydrated enough, then drinking more water may not do anything beneficial for you. If you’ve had enough, having more isn’t going to help.
The question you should be asking yourself is how much water you need to drink in order to be able to promote better health and fat loss. Are you dehydrated? Are you getting enough water, or could you possibly be drinking too much water? If you’re dehydrated, yes, you should drink more water. This isn’t just for weight loss, but for your overall wellness. If you’re already drinking enough water, you should focus on maintaining your current levels of hydration, not changing what you’re already doing correctly.
Water as a Metabolism Booster
Water plays a role in the function of every cell throughout your entire body. Even the best diet pill won’t be able to work if you aren’t taking it with plenty of water. When you become dehydrated, it means that those cells – some or all of them – are not able to function at their full efficiency level. They cannot transport nutrients or supplements the way they normally would under the right hydration levels.
The cells involved in your metabolism are no exception to that rule. Therefore, when you’re not drinking enough water, the result is a slower metabolic rate than your body is capable of achieving. Your entire body’s efficiency drops, slowing down your rate of calorie and fat burning and reducing the impact of your workouts.
After all, the metabolism isn’t an organ or a system. It’s a number of natural chemical reactions that occur throughout the body’s organs and systems. Both the chemical reactions and the organs and systems that produce those reactions are dependent on water. To get the results you want, you’ll need to hydrate.
Water as an Appetite Suppressant
Another way that being dehydrated can affect your weight loss is by controlling your appetite. The reason is that when you are thirsty, your brain may send you the wrong signals. Instead of feeling thirst, you may experience hunger pangs.
This means that some of the times when you find yourself craving something to eat, you’re not even really hungry. All you really need is some zero-calorie water, not a bag of chips. Therefore, the next time you’re feeling hungry, try drinking a glass of water and waiting ten minutes. You may find that the strength of your hunger will shrink considerably, or it may even disappear.
Similarly, if you drink a glass of water a half hour ahead of each meal, you might not need to eat as much at mealtime in order to be satisfied. When you feel fuller earlier in the meal, you’ll be less likely to overeat.
Water to Improve Digestion
Beyond the way water can help you to keep your eating under control, it can also help to improve the way you digest the food that you do eat. As was mentioned earlier, water helps to improve the function of every organ and system in the body.
For example, water is needed for the kidneys to function at their best. It is also a critical component to regularity, helping you to avoid becoming constipated. If you aren’t regular, you’ll suffer from bloating, fluid retention and discomforts that will make it unpleasant to try to exercise. This will only hold back your ability to diet and will make you appear bigger than you actually are.
Even worse is that chronic dehydration places you at an increased risk of more considerable discomforts such as kidney stones. Kidney stones are very painful and are produced by a buildup of minerals such as calcium in your urine when you don’t have enough water to flush them away.
So How Much Water Do You Really Need for Weight Loss?
How can you tell if you’re already getting enough water every day for health and weight loss, and how do you know if you’re dehydrated? Can you trust that rule of thumb that tells you to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day?
Not according to experts. That cookie-cutter rule is actually quite deceptive. There are many other factors that you will need to consider in order to get it right. The taller you are and the more you weigh, the more water you’ll need each day. The more active you are, the more you’ll need hydrate. When it’s hot out, or if you’re otherwise caused to sweat, your body will require extra water to regulate your body temperature.
Equally, if you already eat a lot of foods with a high water content, you’ll need to drink less water as a result of it. If you are petite, have lost a lot of weight or haven’t been all that active in a given day, you might not need as much water in order to achieve the same amount of hydration.
While the amount of water you need to drink to lose weight efficiently will vary depending on your activity level and the temperature outside, among other factors, there is a better rule of thumb for you to follow, according to some experts.
For every pound you weigh, drink one half to one ounce of water each day. For instance, if you weigh 170 pounds, you will need to drink somewhere between 85 ounces and 170 ounces of water per day. If it’s hot, you’ve eaten many dry foods and you’ve been active, you’ll need to aim for the higher end of that scale. If you didn’t exercise too much that day, it’s cold out and you’ve eaten many fruits and veggies that have a high water content, the lower end of that scale will likely work better for you.
As great as it would be to have one target for water intake each day, it’s much better for you to use a range meant for you and the conditions of that day.
One of my closest friends is getting married in a few months and I have been tasked with helping him choose a honeymoon destination that meets a pretty strict set of standards. He wants the location to be totally secluded, all-inclusive, sunny and of course…romantic! Mexico offers some of the most beautiful, safe and secluded honeymoon destinations in the world. I’ve narrowed the options down to 3 secluded honeymoon destinations able to fulfill all of the requirements. Mexico is the perfect place for a romantic getaway. The country is wealthy with warm temperatures, stunning beaches, gorgeous colonial cities and luxurious villas and resorts. Regardless of what they intend to do on this romantic vacation together as newlyweds, they are more than likely to find it here. For all of those future brides and grooms out there, this post is for you. I just couldn’t let all of this research be for a single happy couple!
Top 3 Secluded Honeymoon Destinations in Mexico
When you want to make sure you’re staying somewhere truly romantic, choose a region with privacy, luxury, spas and lots of great activities you can enjoy together. Consider the following locations as you book one of the most romantic trips of your life.
Secluded Honeymoon Destinations #1: Sayulita
This fishing village is an absolutely perfect location for couples who are looking into secluded honeymoon destinations that are also peaceful and laid back. The area is perfect for seafood lovers and long walks on the beach. It also has great surfing spots if you’re looking to give that a try together.
One of the top places to stay nearby is Villa Estrella, one of the most luxurious villa rentals in Mexico hidden away in a safe, quiet gated community. It’s right on the beach and has everything you need – including a private chef! Enjoy all your time right there in the villa or head away on unforgettable day trips which can all be arranged affordably at the gatehouse.
Secluded Honeymoon Destinations #2: Riviera Maya
If you’re looking for a trip into a more touristy part of the country, Riviera Maya is for you. It’s both packed with affordable and lovely resorts and has all the sights and experiences for a perfect romantic getaway. Among the safe and secluded honeymoon destinations Mexico has to offer, this is easily a favorite option.
If you’re a food lover, this area also features a number of well-known restaurants where you can taste the menus of top chefs. Don’t forget to head to Xcaret. It’s an eco-archaeological park with a wealth of things to see and do, from cave exploring to snorkeling.
Secluded Honeymoon Destinations #3: Puerto Vallarta
Is a happening beach town filled to the brim with gourmet experiences more your style? Spend your honeymoon in and around Puerto Vallarta. Or, even better, stay in a nearby luxury villa so you can enjoy your privacy when you want it and yet still experience everything this city has to offer.
If you’re there at the right time of year, don’t miss the chance to see the sea turtles making their way to the ocean. It’s an event that is absolutely magical to experience with the one you love.
When you’re trying to get more fit, you might wonder whether or not you’re making any progress. It’s one thing to lose a few pounds, but how do you know if you’re truly making it toward a fitness level body fat percentage?
After all, being able to understand whether or not you’re getting where you want to be can help you to decide if you should keep up the efforts you’ve been making or if you need to change. It helps you to better understand the impact your strategy is having and where you can make things even better. That said, just knowing your weight or BMI or other related figures isn’t the only way to know if you’re coming close to a fitness level body fat percentage. Your body can actually send you certain signals as well.
Watch for These Fitness Level Body Fat Percentage Signs
1. Your weight loss is slowing down or has plateaued
You may discover that when you get on the scale, you’re not burning through the pounds as you used to. There are many reasons for this, but one of them could be that you have stopped burning excess body fat and that you are now reaching a much fitter level. When you have reached a fitness level body fat percentage, you don’t have as much to burn away anymore so your overall weight loss will slow or stop. This is particularly true when you have been gaining muscle mass at the same time.
2. You’re changing shape
When you start coming closer to a fitness level body fat percentage, you may find that your clothes are fitting differently. You’re slimmer in areas where you used to be rounder and you may even be larger in other areas, depending on where you have built lean muscle mass. This doesn’t mean that you have accumulated a huge amount of additional muscle, but when you get fit, you may find that your muscle is visible where it didn’t used to be.
3. You feel like you’re in better shape
When you are building a fitter body, it will feel better. You’ll feel stronger, more balanced and even more energetic. What used to make you feel tired and winded is easier for you and you’ll need to do more in order to challenge yourself. A fitness level body fat is, after all, a part of a fitter body and that is something you can feel, particularly when you compare your current achievements with those from when you just started.
As you experience these various changes and signs, let them motivate you to keep up the good work. Feel proud of yourself. You earned it.
When you adopt a healthy lifestyle, you might think that it will be easy to find support from pretty much everyone around you, but it has been my experience that criticism comes from some pretty surprising places. From some people, it can feel as though they are giving you a huge hug with all the great things they say and do when you start living more healthfully and trying to treat yourself with a respect for your nutrition and fitness.
However, there are others who can make you feel like you’re suddenly under attack. For that reason, it’s a very good idea to be calmly prepared for criticisms you might face, even if they come from some of the people who love you unconditionally in your life. You don’t need to feel as though you’re at war with the people with whom you’re closest, and you don’t need to change your goals just because someone else doesn’t feel they’re right. Moreover, you also don’t need to avoid gatherings and meetings with people who have been critical of you just because you want to avoid the verbal pokes and prods at the efforts you’re making.
The key is to gain the right perspective and know how to react when criticisms happen.
View criticism as worry – Many people criticize changes their loved ones make because they’re worried about the reasons that motivated those changes. It may seem strange, but it is easy for someone to feel that the reason you’re trying to lose weight or eat more healthfully is because you have poor self image, low self confidence or you are otherwise dissatisfied with yourself. Therefore, they express disapproval for what you’re doing in a kind of misguided caring. They’re worried about you so they try to encourage you to be who you are in their eyes – a person who sticks to his or her old habits. Reminding yourself of the root of the criticisms can help you to better receive them.
Talk about it – While you can remind yourself that people are criticizing because they care, it doesn’t mean you need to silently put up with it. Speak to the people behind the harsh words. Tell them you know they care and that you understand that what they’re saying comes from love and worry but that their words are hurting you and that it would be more helpful to you if they found a new way to show you they care. Offer them alternative ways to show you their concerns without just cutting into what you’re trying to accomplish.
Know that there isn’t any benefit to negativity – All negativity does is sit there and be negative. It doesn’t improve any situation. Tell your relatives and friends that if they really want to help you, telling you what they think you’re doing wrong isn’t the way. They need to decide whether they’re being mean for the sake of it or if there is a better message they could be sharing with you. If someone is in the habit of being a bully, is acting out on their own insecurities or is critical because they feel good by putting other people down, that’s not your fault. That said, you don’t need to tolerate it either.
It’s already a month into the new year and I’ve been working hard to make sure I have a strong, healthy body. Since strong is beautiful, and we all want to look great, getting into the best possible strength training routine will do you all sorts of favors throughout the year and beyond.
At the same time, it’s important to remember that just because you’re lifting a weight on occasion, it doesn’t mean you’re doing what you need to do to get maximum results. So I’ve decided to share my own ultimate bodyweight workout for building serious strength. This workout is designed to make sure you build lean, dense muscle, so you’ll have healthy fitness and strength, not bulk.
To follow my method, you’ll need to do two strength training workouts per week. You’ll need to be dedicated to putting everything into these workouts if you want to be able to get the most out of them. They will work their way through your entire body’s worth of major muscle groups, including your biceps, chest, back, legs, shoulders and triceps. Using my method, it takes a full cycle a week before you’ll really hit each body part, but this workout has been created to work dynamically so if you follow it, everything will fit together with enough building and recovery time.
Don’t forget throughout this workout strategy, you also need to keep up days of the week that you’re dedicating to cardio and flexibility such as yoga. Those will only help to keep you at your maximum strength training performance while lowering your chances of injury.
By following my schedule, you should be working out your chest, biceps and back on Day 1. Days 2 and 3 are for cardio, with Day 4 for rest and flexibility. Day 5 should work your legs, shoulders and triceps. Day 6 is another cardio day and Day 7 should include both cardio and flexibility.
You may feel tempted to try to skip the resting and flexibility days in favor of more workouts in an attempt to get faster results. Resist that urge. Keep in mind that days of recovery are just as important to the days you’re actually strength training when you want to get stronger. Pushing your muscles too hard or too fast is a rapid route to hurting yourself and then facing avoidable setbacks.
Equally important are rest periods of 30 to 60 seconds between your sets. These help to give you the chance to push as hard as you can into each move, maximizing your performance and your results. For added workout performance support, a good diet pill with energy boosters can go a long way. I highly recommend these effective products.
Is it just me, or is coffee suddenly getting a very good name? After having been told to cut back on coffee for years, it’s now being linked with improved energy levels, focus, overall health and even longer life! Thank goodness, because I adore my morning coffee. Even better? This sudden reputation boost is encouraging us to come up with some even better ways to drink it! I recently spotted research suggesting that adding vitamin D drops to a morning cup of coffee is the best way to avoid deficiency. Still, my latest personal obsession is for protein coffee.
What a great way to combine something I need with something I love in the morning! I love the way they let me have my morning coffee – one of the best flavors in the world – and combine it with the protein I want my body to have handy after my workouts. It also leaves me more wiggle room for creating my breakfasts without having to focus quite as much on protein content. Just a word of caution: If you take a diet pill with stimulants like I sometimes do prior to workouts, use decaf to avoid side-effects from too much caffeine.
Although I alternate among several different recipes so that I’ll keep things interesting, there is one that I tend to go back to the most often because it’s delicious and contains very low carbs (giving me more space for carbs in the rest of my breakfast).
How simple is this? A cup of strong coffee or a shot (or two!) of espresso, a scoop of my favorite natural protein powder, a splash of half and half cream and a tablespoon of pure cacao powder. As an alternate, I may use pure cocoa powder if I’ve run out of cacao and forgot to replace it in time. They’re not the same and I genuinely like cacao more, but they’re both great.
It can be mixed in a shaker cup (add the coffee last if your cup is plastic), in a personal blender or even with an immersion blender. The point is just to make sure it’s thoroughly mixed, especially the protein powder.
This combination of creaminess with coffee and chocolate flavors absolutely makes my morning. After drinking this, there isn’t anything I can’t accomplish!
It’s also very filling. I tend to have a small bowl of steel cut oats and berries along with it just so that I’ll have what my body needs to get through my most intense morning workouts, but I try to keep that bowl small because I don’t want to feel too full when I’m trying to get started with my exercises. I’ve also been known to add a splash of my protein coffee to the oats and stir it in for a berry chocolaty breakfast!
On cold mornings, it can be tough to get out of bed. It’s not that I’m necessarily suffering from the winter blues or that I’m not looking forward to facing the day, but it’s so warm under the blankets and so cold outside them. After I make my fast-paced switch from pajamas to daytime clothes, the kitchen calls to me because I know I’m not far from a warm and hearty breakfast to fill me up and give me that snuggly blanket feeling again.
Beginning the day with cozy foods in the winter is one of the best ways for me to feel great and stay positive, even when my alarm clock is going off before the sunrise. Since they make such a difference to me, I thought I’d take a moment to share them with you, too. That way, you can enjoy a healthy, warm and hearty start to your day, just like I do.
1. Toast with nut better, banana and chia seeds – This is warm and super filling, and it comes with the bonus that I can hold my hands in front of the toaster while the whole grain bread is warming! I usually use almond butter or pure peanut butter (peanuts are the only ingredient), topped with half a banana cut into slices or mashed. I add about a half table spoon of chia seeds to the nut butter or the mashed banana. It’s warm, super-filling and the full feeling lasts throughout the morning. It’s also packed with vitamins and minerals. I try to eat this with a warm cup of lemon water to get some hydration early in the day and to make sure the chia seeds will have the chance to expand in my stomach where they’ll keep me feeling full.
2. Oatmeal with an egg – Yes, yes I’m pushing oatmeal here but give me a second to show you how delicious this can be! On the weekend, I make a big batch of steel cut oats and divide it into portions which I store in the fridge and freezer (fridge for the start of the week, freezer for later in the week). That way, I only have to take the time to cook it once and I have lots to cover me for the week. I just heat it up in the microwave. That said, instead of adding cinnamon and berries, I add a poached egg with a bit of black pepper when I eat it in the winter. I love the way the oatmeal tastes with runny egg yolk. It’s the most fantastic and creamy breakfast for a cold winter morning. It’s as though I’ve added cheese, but with far more nutrients and protein. I’ll often have this with a couple of Clementine oranges which are amazing at this time of year.
3. Chocolate berry quinoa porridge – This spin on oatmeal comes with a far different texture, lots of great protein and is a favorite on mornings when I have a serious sweet tooth. As I do with steel cut oats, I cook this on a weekend and portion it out in the fridge and freezer so I can grab one and quickly heat it up in the microwave in the morning. I make quinoa and toss in a ton of frozen berries (which I buy a ton of when they’re on sale) and a good tablespoon of pure cocoa powder. The berries sweeten the cocoa for a fantastic chocolaty taste that reminds me of the rare occasions when my mother would let me have sugary cereals when I was a kid. Only this bowl is full of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and protein.
I’ve traveled to Mexico several times and am always amazed at how different the experience is depending on the region or specific place I stay. I’ve stayed in some gorgeous resorts, which is where I fell in love with traveling to the country. However, since then, I’ve found my absolute favorite place to stay, hands down. It is in the form of a luxury retreat, a villa, in the state of Nayarit. It’s called Villa Estrella.
If you’ve ever wanted to travel somewhere that you’ll feel like you’re living a celebrity’s life – and yet still be able to afford it without making millions from your latest blockbuster – that’s how I felt when I stayed at Villa Estrella. Everything felt like it was taken care of for me. Suddenly, it’s like I didn’t feel stress at all anymore.
The first thing that I noticed when I first arrived at the villa was that it was exactly the way it was described on their website. The pictures looked just like the real thing and the description matched it precisely, right down to the natural culinary skill – and fantastic personality – of our own personal chef (which I still can’t believe we had twice per day for every day of our trip!).
I signed up for the meal plan and though I debated it at the time, I’m glad I made that choice. The next time I go back, I’ll do the same thing. It was wonderful to have breakfast and lunch made and arranged every day. Some days, we had the large meal for lunch and some days, we kept it to have for dinner. About ten minutes or so down the beach there were fantastic little places to get delicious seafood dishes. Our cravings for those usually dictated whether we were going to have our large meal at home as a lunch or dinner.
The Mexico beach villa is located right on the ocean. This made for a wonderful view while I was doing my workouts first thing every morning (yes, I managed to keep them up) and relaxing sounds while going to sleep at night. The entire property is incredible. I spent a lot of my time in the private pool, but headed to the bigger community pool as well.
Both Rosa and Sophia were very kind to us the entire time and helped to make sure we were always comfortable. It made us all feel as though we’d made some great new friends and we look forward to seeing them again next year.
Villa Estrella is off the beaten path and there certainly aren’t any malls nearby, but that was a gift that I wasn’t expecting. It felt so good to unplug, disconnect and step away from my normal life and experience a luxurious escape among very friendly people.
The winter may not be officially here yet, but the temperatures are already dropping and the winds have picked up. As much as I’m putting off wearing my heavy coat as long as possible, I know it won’t take many more days before I don’t have a choice but to wear it, especially when I go out after the sun sets (way too early!).
Over the last few years, I’ve had to do a little bit more preparing other than boots and a jacket. I’ve found that my cheeks have been a little more rosy than everyone else’s and that I need to use the right steps to stop it from getting worse. The thing is that I don’t just have rosy cheeks from the chill. I have rosacea, subtype 1. That involves redness, burning, itching and a lot of other symptoms I’d really rather avoid if at all possible.
According to the National Rosacea Society, many rosacea sufferers – myself included – find that winter is a very tough time of year. The dry heat inside and the cold and wind outside wreak havoc on my face, leaving me looking and feeling chapped and uncomfortable. Here are the steps I take to keep things under control:
Head to the doctor – I don’t do this every year anymore, but when I first started struggling with rosacea, I found that my doctor and dermatologist had some great suggestions to help get me started. This included things I should do as well as the things I shouldn’t. In both cases, some of the tips surprised me so I always recommend seeing a doctor first when I talk to other people.
Get the right skin care – Winter skin care is not the same as summer skin care. I put away the exfoliant (which I rarely use anyway) and get out a creamier cleanser, a hydrating serum (a step I skip in the summer, and a heavier skin oil moisturizer instead of just a lotion. I also remember to wear my SPF in the daytime, only a creamier form of it because the sun reflects off snow so it’s just as much of a rosacea trigger in winter as it is in summertime. I also have a cooling and healing salve that I wear overnight to help my skin recover from the day while protecting it from dryness in my home.
Stock up on scarves – Protecting my face from the cold and wind is a very important step. It’s just as important as protecting from heat and humidity in summertime. When I have to head outside, I need a scarf to pull up over my face (as well as a hat, of course). That said, not all scarves are created equal. Depending on the day, the wind and the temperature, I have lighter ones and I have much bulkier ones. There are ones I can wrap around my neck “just in case” or ones I wear pulled right up over my nose.
Get a humidifier – A cold mist humidifier (not a hot water one) is great to keep the humidity where it should be, particularly in my bedroom at night. It’s great for my face, but also for the rest of my dry skin and it’s easier to breathe, too.
Keep up to date – The National Rosacea Society and bloggers like Talonted Lex and Rosy JulieBC are always posting new information, testing new products and sharing great tips about how to cope with this skin condition. I’ve subscribed to them all and have learned a lot from them. There’s no one source with all the answers and studies are always being conducted. It’s great to hear about all the latest discoveries.