Rich's Guests

How Controlling Your Diet can Enhance Fitness and Make You Feel Better

I haven’t written much about diet because I’m not so good at controlling mine. So I’m particularly happy to post Bridget’s article because her theme ties in so closely with mine. Quality of life is largely about feeling good. Developing an appetite for feeling good goes a long way to establishing a healthy lifestyle.

For instance the only reason I avoid eating heavy late in the evening or having snacks after supper is because I sleep better and feel actually good the next morning. I super enjoy my first cup of coffee at work and can drink it way up into the day. No serious energy slumps during the day. If I eat heavy the night before – the opposite of all those things.

So pick up on her points on how diet makes you feel, observe it in yourself, and take advantage of it. ~Richard

Good health and fitness do not happen overnight. It is a journey. You have to find exercise that you enjoy – activities that you would like to do even if they weren’t “exercise” and that you will look forward to doing often. Over time, you’ll build up your fitness levels naturally and without much effort. Then you use the energy and good feelings you have about exercise to do activities that you might not enjoy as much, such as weight lifting.

Eating well requires a similar approach. You can’t just decide to call off every “bad” thing you’ve ever eaten and only eat “good” things. Taking such an uncompromising approach will set you up for failure. Instead, you need to take a more realistic approach that recognizes that there are no good or bad foods, no strict rules that must be followed, and that eating well actually makes you feel better.

Learning to control your diet doesn’t need to be about deprivation. Here are a few ways that controlling your diet can help to enhance your fitness and make you feel better:

Improves Your Digestion

The typical American diet is loaded with processed foods, fried foods, excess sugar, excess salt and all manner of preservatives and chemicals. This way of eating isn’t natural for your body, and your body isn’t able to process the foods as quickly or as easily as it should. As a result, your digestion suffers. You can experience gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal issues.

By controlling your diet – and eating more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains – you can improve your digestion and significantly improve the way you feel. You’ll also make exercise easier, which can help you to work out more efficiently and to make greater fitness gains.

Stabilizes Blood-Sugar Levels

Your blood sugar levels can have a significant impact on the way you feel and on your overall health. The standard American diet sends your blood sugar levels sky high after each meal, which will crash shortly after. This results in a cavalcade of problems: low energy levels, shifting moods, weight gain or the inability to lose weight, poor sleep, and more.

You can stabilize your blood sugar levels by reigning in your diet. Even one nutritious meal can be enough to help you start feeling better. You’ll also have more energy to exercise, and will be able to get more out of every session, helping you to improve your fitness.

Increases Energy

Think about how you feel after you’ve eaten a large, unhealthy meal: You’re probably really tired. Maybe even nauseous. Maybe even uncomfortable. Now think about how you feel after you’ve eaten a meal that is rich in lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and fresh fruits or vegetables. How do you feel? You probably have a lot more energy and a lot more motivation to exercise and to engage in other healthy habits.

Watching what you eat can make sure that you always have the energy you need to exercise and to just feel better in general.

Your diet is about so much more than your weight. Everything you eat can affect the way you feel and your overall health and wellness. Controlling your diet can help you create optimal health and can enhance your fitness levels, as well.

What benefits do you notice when you control your diet and are eating well? Share your thoughts in the comments!

About the Author:

Bridget Sandorford is a freelance food and culinary writer, where recently she’s been researching Las Vegas culinary arts. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.

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Reducing Stress While Traveling

This is a guest post from Mike Manning. Mike is a fitness and living healthy enthusiast. You can find his future posts at Manning’s Musings.

Traveling can place a lot of unnecessary stress on one’s mind and body. Whether the trip is designed for business or pleasure, the many headaches that come with traveling can cause both physical sickness and mental sickness. Going through the long lines at the airport, dealing with airport security screenings, and buying expensive food at the airport are just a few of the many things that cause stress on a trip. Needless to say, many people worry about leaving their homes for an extended period of time or thinking about the responsibilities that they will have to endure when they return. However, if people are able to incorporate some type of exercise into their daily activities each day that they are away, they will be less likely to experience an abundant amount of stress.

There are many things that people can do to ensure that they are able to exercise during their trip, but one of the first things that they must do is research their lodging reservations. While most hotels will have some type of exercise facility, there are many others that do not. On a recent trip to Maui I was able to book a hotel with a great 24-hour fitness center by researching a travel reviews site. This site gave me a list of the top hotels in Maui and from here I was able to scroll through and see which ones had great gyms. Furthermore, even with exercise facilities, some do not supply the necessary equipment to give the person the type of workout he or she desires or needs. By researching the hotel before leaving for the trip, the person will have a clear idea about the pros and cons of the hotel’s exercise facility.

When it comes to traveling, most of a person’s stress will occur at the airport. Therefore, people should be sure to take advantage of any exercise facilities that may be available. Some airports offer yoga and zen rooms, and other airports offer walking trails. Two airports that will allow a person to engage in these types of exercise facilities are the San Francisco International Airport and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Finally, when it comes to staying physically and mentally fit on a trip, it is important to also adhere to a nutritious diet. A diet that consists of berries, fruits, vegetables, and lean meat will help to prevent added stress. Therefore, people should be sure to avoid fatty and greasy foods.

Going on a trip should be fun; therefore, people should be sure to take steps to prevent it from becoming a nightmare. By exercising at the airport, exercising at the hotel, and eating healthy foods, people will have a much more pleasant trip.

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Training for the Front Lever

This is a guest post from Logan Christopher at The Lost Art of Hand Balancing.

If you’re exercising you might as well make it fun in my opinion. One way to make it fun is to strive to achieve some amazing skills, beyond the ability of most people.

For me, one of those skills is the front lever.

This is an exercise commonly used in gymnastics on the rings. You may not see it in the Olympics simply because it’s too easy for those athletes, but it is an essential skill and one that leads up to what they do. And that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It requires full body tension and phenomenally strong abdominals and lats.

In this article I’m going to give you five progressions to follow to the front lever. In order to do these moves you’ll need gymnastic rings or any pullup bar. I often train at a local park myself on the playground set.

Work up to a 30 second hold in each exercise before moving onto the next one.

Tuck Lever

Front Lever Tuck

The tuck lever is done by holding onto the bar. From there you pull your legs up and basically hang like a ball with your back pointed towards the ground.

Advanced Tuck Lever

Front Lever Adv Tuck

In this move you’re going to straighten out your back. This increase the leverage and thus makes the move harder. In fact all these moves are about using leverage. Also make sure that your back is then level with the ground.

One Leg Lever

Front Lever One Leg

From the advanced tuck position you keep one leg tucked in and straighten the other one out until its completely extended. Be sure to work both sides.

Advanced One Leg Lever

Here we have one leg extended and then begin to extend the other leg. The foot should come in line with the knee of the extended leg. This may not seem like a big jump but it is. Once again, work both sides.

Full Lever

Front Lever

Now you extend both legs fully and completely and hold this position. By now you should have quite the six pack and not only will it look great but it will be super strong as well. (Note that I haven’t achieved this move yet and this image was taken from a dynamic move.)

By spending a little time in your workouts following this progression you’ll be able to build tons of strength and with time, achieve a move that very few people in the world can do.

Logan is an experienced physical culturist that started his passion for gymnastics from his high school time.You can read the knowledge he shares with us on his personal website where you can learn things like how to do a backflip and many more.

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How to Make Exercise Fun to Build a Lifelong Habit

This is a guest post from Tara Spencer at Working Capital.

Most people begin working out as a way to lose weight or to work on a specific health goal, like lowering blood pressure or cholesterol. They tell themselves that they “have to” work out, and they force themselves to go to the gym each day. Exercise becomes a chore, not something to be enjoyed.

When exercise is a chore, it’s not likely something that will become a lasting part of your life. Rather, it will become something to dread and try to avoid.

Finding ways to make exercise fun is key to making it a lifelong habit for real healthy change. The key is to find something you enjoy doing in the moment, so you can focus on the pleasure that exercise brings you rather than trying to “be all you can be” or to push yourself to extremes.

If you find that your relationship with exercise is more hate than love, here are a few ways you can make exercise fun again so that you can make it a lifelong habit:

Do Things You Already Enjoy Doing

There are plenty of ways to be active that don’t involve running on a treadmill or lifting dumbbells in an impersonal gym. What do you enjoy doing that gets you active? Maybe you like working in your garden. Or perhaps you’re a handyman who likes building in the workshop. Or maybe you like taking strolls around the lake where you can feed the ducks.

Whatever you enjoy doing that gets you active is exercise. This can include hiking, bike rides through your neighborhood, dancing, competitive sparring, swimming at the lake, and so on. When you add more of these activities into your day, you’ll be more active but it won’t seem like work since you’ll be doing something you already enjoy doing.

Combine It with Other Fun Activities

A little music can really energize your workout and make it seem much more fun. Create fun playlists of music you love to enjoy while you work out, either on your iPod or on a sound system in your home. You could also put on a fun television show in the background, or even read a magazine you enjoy while you’re on the treadmill.

Exercise with Friends

Working out with friends is a great way to exercise and have fun at the same time. When you are with friends, you can talk and enjoy one another, making the time pass more quickly. Friends can also support you in your fitness goals, making it easier for you to see them through.

When you meet up with friends for a workout, focus on having fun! Do something you enjoy doing together that will also let you socialize while you work out. Try rock climbing, horseback riding, or parasailing. Take a yoga class together, try martial arts together, or take a dance lesson together. The more fun you are having together, the more likely you will be to work out together again.

Make It a Family Event

Your family is another great resource to help you reach your fitness goals and to have more fun while doing it. Not only can you exercise together, but you can spend quality time together, catching up on your day and learning more about one another. If you have children, exercising with them can provide a healthy model.

Again, focus on activities that are fun for the whole family. This can include boating, swimming, roller skating, fishing, and more. Choose activities that allow you to connect, have fun, and be active.

Travel to New Places

Routine can make even the most fun activities seem stale and boring. Get out of the house — and out of the gym — and take your workout to new places. Explore new trails in your community. Go to new parks. Travel to nearby towns to check out new places to hike or run.

If you’re really adventurous, you can take your whole workout on the road. Seek out destinations that offer opportunities for fitness buffs. Explore beautiful mountains, hiking trails, and scenic bike routes in other states or even other countries. Enjoy a fitness retreat in an exotic land. You’ll get lots of exercise in, and you’ll enjoy learning about a new place.

Finding ways to make exercise fun is key to building a lifelong fitness habit. You will enjoy what you are doing more and not see it as a chore — as something you have to do. Instead you will see it as something you want to do, and that will keep you going for years!

What other strategies have you used to make exercise more fun? Share your ideas in the comments!

Tara Spenser is currently the resident writer for WorkingCapital.org, where she researches the most affordable small business working capital available. In her spare time, she enjoys blogging, swimming and being a mom.

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Guest Post: How to Increase Your Muscular Power to Jump

This is a post from James Rogers. This is a subject close to my heart because I think JumpRock is great for increasing your power to jump and great for cross training for any sport that requires strength and agility. But if you’re competing, you may want more. In addition, jumping in a controlled environment will decrease your risk of energy when you have to react in random directions. Regarding the one leg hop, you may notice I spend about half my time jumping on one leg. If you add in turning it’s really great for the obliques because one side has to handle all the weight. And if you tuck in your free foot behind your ankle it’s even better because you can’t use your free leg to help keep your balance and all the effort comes from your hips and midsection. Great for building the core. Last but not least, the nature of JumpRock is to involve the upper body, so when you jump you get into the habit of extending the jump with the muscles in your midsection. Richard / QFEGuy

How to Increase Your Muscular Power to Jump

Having the ability to jump high is important if you play a sport, such as basketball. Jumping higher will always give you an advantage over others. Committing to a program that will increase muscle power specifically meant for jumping higher can be done by following a few of the steps below.

Plyometric Exercises

Building strength and power in the muscles to be able to jump higher can be done through plyometric exercises. These exercises are powerful movements that will enhance an athlete’s performance quickly. They work by increasing the way your muscles contract, making them faster. This is going to allow you to jump much higher.

Jumps

Squat jumps will give you that push you need to make a higher vertical. They strengthen the thighs, so that they have the ability to work harder in a vertical direction. Jump squats begin like a normal bodyweight squat, but then they move into an upward jump. The longer you jump will help you do better. This is going to not only improve power, but agility and speed as well.

Below the Knee

The muscles in the calf are the ones that can give you the most power to jump at higher heights. There are many exercises you can do at home to strengthen the calf muscles and make them more powerful. Jumping rope, fast stair climbing and toe raises will all help you get more muscle power to jump higher.

One Leg Hop

One leg hops may seem a bit odd, but once you get used to them, you will see how effective they are in helping you jump higher. Standing on one leg only, push off from that leg moving forward in a jumping motion and land on that same leg you began with. The other leg will be used for balancing and moving forward motion. Try to jump higher each leap forward. Swap legs after 20 or so reps and repeat in the same manner.

Think of the amount of power and force you thrust into the ground from your toes as you begin a vertical jump. The toe-off is the control point in determining how fast your foot leaves the ground and ultimately, the desired height of the jump. The more strength and power you force along with your body weight will result in the highest jump possible. Working hard and diligently every time you jump will result in progress each and every time. Never slow down and never give up!

You will see great results when you use all the above exercises. There are other methods that work hand in hand with the above exercises, one of those being to strengthen the upper portion of your body as well as your legs. Work first on the way to jump the highest possible, and then combine more strength exercises with upper body and legs, to add to it!

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