Protein pancakes got boring. So we filled the mix into a baking pan with some chia seeds and pecans and, voila, “panbread”! Delicious with some honey and blueberries!
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Nowadays, people are more aware about health and fitness than ever before. But we are constantly bombarded with information and this can lead to misconceptions. Most of us desire to be thin and may end up taking the “easy” way, which may have severe repercussions on our bodies and our health.
What is fitness?
The first step to developing an effective fitness program and to achieving optimum health, is to understand that fitness and nutrition are two sides of the same coin. A fit body is one that has cardiovascular fitness, muscle endurance, strength, flexibility and optimal body composition. Most of the time, we fail to consider this and only concentrate on losing weight. But it is important to remember that losing weight and having a good body composition is not the same thing.
What is body composition?
Body composition is the right proportion of fat and muscle in your body. But the number we see on our scale can cause confusion. One must understand that body weight is made up of skeletal mass, muscles, organs, water, body fluids and fat.
In today’s world, with significant improvements in technology, body weight is an archaic concept. If you weigh a lot, do not be alarmed, but if you have a high percentage of fat in your body you may need to worry. You need to consider that muscle mass is heavier/denser than fat. A seemingly thin body frame with a low body weight should be considered a sign of poor health ONLY if the muscle mass is low. Understand that irrespective of shape and size what is important is to have less fat and more muscle in your body – this is what defines health in very simple terms.
Therefore achieving the right body composition should be the first goal for everyone. The only way to accomplish this goal is by incorporating a good workout and eating healthy food into your everyday lifestyle.Read More »
If you’re slim and lean, you don’t have to do resistance training – true or false? As long as you watch what you eat you’re healthy, right? Most people believe in these and other false “fitness facts”.
Fitness is a product of healthy diet and exercise, sleep and mental well being. “Physical fitness is considered a measure of the body’s ability to function efficiently and effectively in work and leisure activities, to be healthy, to resist hypo-kinetic diseases, and to meet emergency situations” as defined in Wikipedia. Here is why fitness is a far better goal than weight loss in the long run.
Difference between weight loss and fitness
While fitness usually does involve weight loss, all weight loss does not involve fitness. One can lose weight – the unhealthy way – through crash dieting, over-exercising, weight loss pills and several other, equally, harmful quack methods.
Unhealthy weight loss involves losing mostly muscle mass and small quantities of topical fat. Visceral fat, or fat that is stored internally around organs, does not decrease with unhealthy weight loss practices. In fact, it can increase due to the starvation mode set off with unhealthy dieting.
Pursuing general fitness and well being, on the other hand, takes care of the harmful body fat, while giving you a healthier mind and body and, yes, burning, calories. Weight loss is about losing weight rapidly. Fitness is about healthy living and longevity. Fitness is a combination of exercise, diet and rest. When weight loss is your only target, you tend to ignore the other benefits of living a healthy life.
Let’s look at what impact fitness has on the different systems in your body:
Importance of fitness: respiratory and circulatory system
You know the heart is a muscle that pumps blood and oxygen to the body. Exercise helps the heart in circulation of blood and oxygen. That means healthy skin, alertness and a healthy system, among other benefits. Similarly, a healthy diet aids your circulatory and respiratory system by preventing thickening arterial walls and better blood circulation.
Importance of fitness: digestive system
When we are constipated or feeling bloated we look for a change in diet to relieve us from our discomfort. But exercise can help you avoid digestive problems, as well. Walking, running and other physical activities can improve your digestive system.
A poor digestive system leads to a poor well-being and quick weight loss ignores this fact. The result of crash dieting is often Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and plenty of fat gain once you stop the fad diet. Instead, focusing on general fitness through balanced nutrition and exercise will give you a smoother digestive function.
Importance of fitness: lymphatic system
‘”The lymphatic system is a part of the circulatory system, comprising a network of conduits called lymphatic vessels that carry a clear fluid called lymph”, as explained on Wikipedia. Stretching, strength training and aerobic exercises improve the lymphatic system. A healthy lymphatic system reduces swelling, improves circulation, metabolism and flexibility.
Importance of fitness: cardiovascular system
Research has proven, time and again, that pursuing fitness is the best way to achieve better cardiovascular health. This means that your cardiovascular system is able to function a lot better when you’re fit, within your ideal weight range, and live an active life with healthy eating.
The cardiovascular system is responsible for circulating oxygen and important nutrients to the body. Opting for fitness, instead of quick weight loss, will help you avoid diseases related to the cardiovascular system like heart attack and stroke. Strength, stamina, and agility also get a boost with a well functioning cardiovascular system. Cardio exercises are the key to a functioning cardiovascular system.
However, many make the mistake of associating ‘cardio’ exercise with rapid weight loss. This usually leads to long hours of cardio that cause fatigue and over-train your body. What does this mean? Over-training leads to more fat storage in your body. So, if you walk/run/jog/swim too much, your body will start craving more food.
Importance of fitness: nervous system
The nervous system includes the brain and the spinal cord. Physical activity helps to keep the brain sharp and alert and improves hand-eye co-ordination and balance.
Mental health is crucial for a healthy life. By pursuing weight loss only, without any thought toward fitness and the right way to achieve it, your mind will experience fatigue and negativity. Those that rely on vanity alone as a motivator tend to drop out of their ‘fitness’ routine. A balanced diet and regular exercise over the long term, because you want to be fit instead of a size zero, is a better idea.
Importance of fitness: musculoskeletal system
This is the easiest association to make. We use muscles everyday, consciously or subconsciously. All aspects of exercising, from resistance training to flexibility and cardio training, and eating right improve the musculoskeletal system.
Importance of fitness: overall health
When you focus on weight loss alone, and quick weight loss at that, you ignore your body’s actual needs. A common sign of rapid weight loss is weakness and fatigue. This is because your body loses muscle a lot faster than fat. With muscle loss, your metabolic activity decreases, causing imbalances and increased fat storage. The result: short term weight loss, and long term weight gain.
For the over-weight and obese, fitness does involve weight loss. But this is sustainable weight loss that comes with a shift in lifestyle habits. If your only concern is to look good in that slinky outfit or that wedding dress, then you will set yourself up for failure. Chasing the short term dream by radical, unsustainable means is a recipe for disaster.Read More »
When it comes to weight loss, the scale isn’t telling you the whole story. The scale is an important tool in tracking progress, as is a measuring tape, but they don’t tell you how much of your loss is fat and how much is muscle. In order to know if your weight loss has been primarily fat loss, you need to know your bodyfat percentage preferably from skin fold calipers, hydrostatic weighing or DEXA.
I’ve encountered too many people who are proud that they’ve reached their “ideal” weight, but more often than not they achieved it through unhealthy diets. If they exercised at all, they probably only did aerobic/cardiovascular exercise and left out resistance training. The result is a loss of muscle mass and they still have an unhealthy bodyfat percentage that can potentially be higher than it was before they started the diet.
When a caloric deficit is created through diet and aerobic exercise, the body will probably lose weight. Unfortunately, your body would much rather shed muscle than fat so you need to send a message to your body that it needs to keep the muscle it has. The way to do this is with a properly designed resistance training program. In addition to keeping the muscle you have, you might also build more muscle which will help you burn even more calories even while at rest. Plus, resistance training will help increase bone density, reduce the chance of injury, lower high blood pressure, reduce the risk of diabetes, and the list just goes on and on.
So, be sure to include all of the necessary components in your weight loss program. An incomplete fitness and weight loss program will lead to incomplete and compromised results.
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Magazines and websites everywhere want to tell you how shed weight quickly or, even better, “melt” your fat off either through diet or exercise. But they leave out the negative effect that quick weight loss has on your body. We all want to lose weight in a hurry but we hate to break it to you: the only ‘quick’ solutions to weight loss are usually unhealthy. Are you aware of the effects of rapid weight loss on your body? Let’s find out.
Bottom line: Don’t be fooled with quick weight loss diets. Effective weight loss is a combination of exercise and diet, the healthy way. Weight loss is not a piece of cake!Read More »