Latest and Greatest in Fitness Gadgets: Our top 5 picks

In this current century technology is best friend and this is also true in fitness. There is more and more scientific research on how to make sports safer, more efficient and fun. We’ve had a look at the latest trends and inventions and here are our favorites.

Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale fitbit

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You may not see the appeal of owning a scale right away but this little guy is really awesome. It will help you get a clear picture of where you are in terms of body composition ( which is a more comprehensive measure than your weight alone) and will help you reach your goals. It’s a super smart scale which will automatically recognize you, update your stats and is synced with other Fitbit devices and an app.

Nike Fuelband Nike Fuel Band

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This really stylish bracelet tracks your activity with built in motion sensors. You can get points for activity which allows you to compare and compete with others. It tells you how many steps you take daily and has a clock too. It looks sleek and stylish and comes in 3 colors so you can pick and choose which one you like best.

Jaybird BlueBuds X  Jaybird Bluebuds X

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The last thing you want to deal with when you’re getting your sweat on is working on untangling your headphone cords or them dangling around constantly. This cool wireless set sounds great and blocks some external noise, too. It fits nicely and seamlessly. Definitely a must-have fitness gadget.

HyperIce Vyper HyperIce

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This is the mother of all foam rollers. It’s like rolling on a power drill! But seriously, we often get busy with cool gimmicks and forget how important recovery and stretching is after working out. If you don’t relieve tension and stretch out these tight spots, you will most likely destroy your posture and it will lead to injuries. This is a firm foam roller which vibrates very vigorously to loosen up all these knots and tight spots. Great tool for everyone who is serious about their health and fitness!

Umoro One Umoro

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The amount of things you need to carry to the gym may be really getting on your nerves by now. This cool bottle serves as a regular water bottle but with a special compartment that will hold up to about 50 grams of protein powder or any other supplement and with a push of a button it’s released into the liquid. The powder compartment is shaped like a ball so it also helps dissolve any potential lumps when you shake. It will save you carrying two bottles or tubs of protein. It’s also great for a quick shake on the go wherever you are. If you’re busy and have no time to eat – don’t eat junk, just release, shake and enjoy a healthy shake.

Oils 101: The difference and benefits of the oils in the market

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Up until recent years, fat used to be considered our number one enemy.  In the 80s and 90s government health institutions set guidelines that made most people avoid fat like fire, hoping for a better health, reduced risk of heart attack and a hot body. This led to major decline in sales of oil, butter and dairy in general and the fat-free substitute market boomed. Low fat cooking sprays, spreads and milk grew ever more popular. But did it work? As it turns out the advice to avoid fat and oils was misinformed and potentially did more harm than good. Last year an American researcher suggested a campaign to tell people that avoiding saturated fat while not watching carbohydrate and sugar intake is a health threatening misconception.

So, Are Fats Good For You? 

Firstly, there are a few types of fat.

Saturated fat comes mainly from animal sources, such as red meat, poultry and full-fat dairy. High intake will increase your LDL cholesterol levels (deemed ‘bad’ cholesterol) and can increase the risk of heart disease.

Trans fat occurs naturally in some foods in low quantities however it is mostly present in oils that undergo processing – partial hydrogenation. This can also increase LDL and decrease the ‘good’ cholesterol HDL.

The healthy types of fat are all the unsaturated fats such as:

-Monounsaturated fatty acids, found for example in certain oils

-Polyunsaturated fatty acid are found mostly in plant-based foods and oils

-Omega-3 fatty acids found in some types of fatty fish

These all help reduce LDL cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Best Oil Sources

Even though a healthy diet should include variety, you should focus on getting enough healthy fats and reducing the bad ones to minimum.  But remember – even ‘good’ oils can become harmful when heated. So the oils used for cooking should not be the same ones you would eat cold as salad dressing, for example.

During cooking at a high heat, you want to use oils that are stable and don’t oxidize easily. When oils react with oxygen they form free radicals and harmful compounds that you should never consume!

Saturated fats have only single bonds in the fatty acid molecules, monounsaturated fats have one double bond and polyunsaturated fats have two or more. The double bonds that are chemically reactive are sensitive to heat.

Which fats should I use for cooking and which cold?

Saturated fats and monounsaturated fats are most resistant to high temperatures.  Polyunsaturated fats shouldn’t be used for cooking.

-Avocado oil – made from the flesh of the fruit rather than the seed. It’s great for cooking as well as cold. It contains lutein, beneficial for eye health

-Coconut oil – solid in room temperature- it’s excellent for withstanding high temperature. Ideal for cooking. Due to high level of medium chained triglycerides it is less likely to be stored as fat than other oils.

-Flaxseed oil – excellent as a salad dressing due to its delicious nutty taste. It reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol and inflammation.

-Fish oil – best taken as a supplement in capsules – great source of Omega 3

Our 3 Favorite No Pudge, Guit-Free Desserts! -you would never know they are healthy!

 

Achieving balance with your diet in this world full of crazy trends and fads may be tricky. We say you shouldn’t restrict yourself too much! Why? If you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle long term you have to be happy with what you eat. Your diet should be flexible and allow an occasional treat in moderation. If you eat tasty flavorful food that you enjoy you will be less likely to binge or forget the diet altogether. But how can you enjoy a sweet treat for dessert and not pack on extra pounds? Take a look at our take on low these low calorie unprocessed desserts.

1. Banana Ice Cream

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This super simple treat is extremely delicious. You can create your own varieties by adding extra flavoring. 1 banana and around 1-2 tablespoons of low-fat greek yoghurt make one portion which is only around 150 calories!

Freeze a peeled, chopped up banana.  Freeze yoghurt for about an hour so it’s not entirely solid. Place in a blender and blend until smooth. Top with fruit, nuts or sprinkles!

Tip: You can flavor the mix with cocoa or flavored protein powder, the possibilities are endless.

2. Chia Seed Pudding

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Chia seed desserts have become incredibly popular due to a great texture of the seed as well as its nutritional value.  For a tasty and pretty looking pudding mix raw cocoa with skim milk or a milk alternative (coconut milk, for example) and pour over your seeds. Wait around half an hour, stir every now and then until you achieve desired consistency. In a separate container prepare a low calorie option vanilla pudding/custard. Once cooled, layer chia and vanilla in a see through glass or bowl – it will look really cool. Top with nuts or sprinkles.

3. Banana Oat Muffins

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Combine 2 mashed bananas with 2 tbsp of coconut oil, 1egg, half a cup of skim milk, ¾ tsp of vanilla extract, 2/3 cup whole-wheat flour, half a cup of oats. Add 1,5 tsp of baking powder, ½ tsp of cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Combine in a food processor/blender and pour into greased muffin tins. Bake in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for around 15 minutes. This mix should make around 9 muffins at only 152 calories per muffin. If you feel adventurous you can ice your muffins/cupcakes with light greek yoghurt or cream cheese flavored with honey, maple syrup or a protein powder.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying a moderate amount of sweet treats as long as your overall nutrition and exercise are in check. In fact not only will ingredients such as low calorie pudding, dark chocolate and bananas keep your cravings at bay but also they will provide you with unique nutritional value.

Weight scales are out, inches are in! Why you should measure your weight loss goals by your size and not your weight.

 

Lose 20 pounds in a week! Is this another familiar headline that just sounds too good to be true? Well, that’s because it is. Obviously, marketing and sales experts who are concerned with selling another fad will try to convince you otherwise. How many times have you seen people bragging in advertisements or through social media about losing 10 pounds ‘last week’. While it’s quite possible to lose a lot of water in the first few days of a new diet, it is certainly not possible to lose that much fat. Especially if you limit your carbohydrate intake you will observe instant weight loss due to the fact that carbohydrates normally retain water in your system. This, however, is not a good way of measuring your fat loss and overall progress.

Another, even more worrying reason for weight loss may be that you may have lost lean muscle mass! This will slow down your metabolism and actually stall any further progress. One way to ensure that you don’t lose precious muscle is to consume enough calories and not starve yourself.

So, more to the point, what is the best way to monitor your progress? First of all, you and those around you will see the changes in your body. Secondly, you will see your clothes fall right off you. This is where inches come in.

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Measuring yourself can give you an idea on where you have lost and how much, but not necessarily if it was fat or muscle. In the ideal setting you would measure your body composition as well (body fat, muscle and water). You can purchase special equipment that will measure these parameters for you. However, measuring inches alone will be a better indicator on losing fat than the scales. Why? 1 pound of muscle is significantly smaller than 1 pound of fat. However on the scale they may appear the same. It’s quite obvious when you think about it. For example, would you compare a 250 pound bodybuilder with 5% body fat to an obese 250 pound individual? Exactly. Their measurements would differ significantly. When you lose fat, you drop volume rather than just weight.

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Obsessively weighing yourself day in and day out may discourage or confuse you since your water weight will always fluctuate. On the other hand, if you do lose a lot on the scale this may motivate you to continue losing weight through a fad and you will simply continue losing muscle mass just to drop the pounds, and you may not even realize.

Even though monitoring body fat is the most accurate system, simply measuring yourself will help you assess if you have lost fat and hopefully it will enable you to become fit rather than skinny-fat.

Bottom line: Measure your fitness goal success by how you feel in your clothes and your confidence level, and throw those scales in the trash!

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The Battle Of The Fruits: fruits that contain the most sugar VS fruits that contain the least sugar

Most people will probably tell you that fruit is really good for you, especially if you’re dieting and that you can consume it in unlimited quantities. But is that really the truth? Sadly, no. Yes, fruit is certainly high in vitamins and minerals, that much is true; but it also contains quite a lot of sugar and should be consumed in moderation. However, not all fruits are created equal. Certain kinds of fruit contain considerably larger amounts of sugar which will spike your insulin and can even make you gain weight! You should watch out for these:

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  1. Lychees – 29g/cup is quite a sugar rush! However they can be enjoyed in moderation and contain almost twice the daily recommended amount.
  2. Figs – 27g/cup. On the plus side, they contain significant amounts of fiber and potassium.
  3. Mango – as yummy as it is, be careful with overindulging. Mangoes contain around 23g of sugar per cup. They are also a good source of vitamin A.
  4. Cherries – 18g/cup. Again, enjoy them in moderation since they are packed with antioxidants.
  5. Similarly to cherries grapes are also rich in antioxidants but contain 15 grams of sugar per cup.
  6. Bananas while an excellent source of potassium contain 14grams of sugar

So what are the fruit you can and should enjoy more freely?

With the lowest sugar content, berries are generally the superheroes in the fruit world.

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  1. Cranberries – only 4g/cup. This tangy delicious fruit is healthy, full of vitamins and diet friendly.
  2. At only 5g/cup raspberries take second place on our list of delicious guilt free fruity snacks.
  3. Strawberries – 7g/cup – our summertime favorite.
  4. Blueberries – very refreshing helps you stay hydrated and only contains about 15g of sugar per cup.
  5. Peaches – 13g/cup – contain a lot of vitamin A, C and fiber. Their skin is the main source of fibre so there is no reason to peel them.
  6. Granny smith Apples 10g per medium apple. As they say, an apple a day can keep the doctor away!

Interestingly when it comes to containing vitamins and minerals veggies beat fruit in most cases. But of course moderate consumption of fruit (especially the ones lower in sugar) is perfectly healthy. Berries, in particular contain a lot of antioxidants and vitamins which can improve your health and are an integral part of a balanced diet. Antioxidants, for example, help remove free radicals from the body, and thus offer protection against cancers, aging, infections, etc. Consuming fruit regularly can help prevent heart disease and support digestive health due to high fiber content.

Leading a healthy balanced lifestyle should be a long term goal and not a fad. Therefore it is essential that you enjoy your food day in day out. Tasty fruit snacks or smoothies can definitely serve as dessert and help you remain on track with your healthy life.

How Much Cardio is Really Enough Cardio: Why you shouldn’t spend your life on the treadmill!

 

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Doing tons of cardiovascular exercise has long been believed to be the secret to losing fat and achieving the perfect physique. But what is cardio, really? Cardiovascular exercises are endurance exercises that strengthen the cardiovascular system (the heart and blood vessels). They are done for longer stretches of time which makes the heart beat faster and pump more blood through your system to distribute nutrients and oxygen to your cells. If your heart rate is increased to 50-80% of its maximum (220-your age) and you are doing it for at least 20 minutes, it is cardio. It can be running, tennis, skipping, swimming or cycling, just as long as it gets your heart rate into a cardiovascular zone.

To stay fit and keep your heart in good shape you should definitely incorporate regular cardio into your workout regiment. But are hours upon hours of cardio necessary to lose weight?

Even bodybuilders who aim for single digit body fat don’t do cardio for hours. Look at the bigger picture – your shape is conditioned by your diet and training. Your training consists (or should consist) of endurance (cardio) and resistance training (casually referred to as strength training). If you have a good nutrition plan and you follow a muscle building program (muscle, which will help you reduce fat and burn more calories), you only need minimal cardio.

It will also hugely depend on your lifestyle – if you have a sedentary job, do slightly more cardio. If you are on your feet all day – you can get away with less.

The one and only way to lose fat is a calorie deficit through either diet or exercise – preferably both. The healthiest way to lose is to combine a balanced diet, cardio and resistance training. Lifting weights is important since it helps build muscle mass which increases your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). This means that the more muscle you have the more calories you will burn just ‘living’ and performing everyday tasks. You can create a calorie deficit by dieting and lifting but we certainly recommend adding cardio for improved effects and cardiovascular health! But remember – if you follow the myth that starvation diets plus cardio will make you slim – you will fail and quite possibly harm your health. Why? Caloric deficit combined with strenuous cardio will put you in a catabolic state – your body will start eating away at itself. Your muscle will start wasting away and while you may think you’re losing pounds – it will not benefit you in the long run.

Ok, but how much cardio should I be doing? There is no magic number. Start easy and tweak your routine as you go along. You could start with 30 minutes 3 times a week. See how your body responds and take it from there. Again, this is just an example, everyone is different. For an obese person 10 minutes of walking daily may be a good start.

To summarize, the best and healthiest approach to weight loss is balance. A healthy diet with a moderate amount of cardio, interval and resistance training will enable you to see results and the variety will keep you on your toes, too!

Life is Better with Company: why it is better to work out with a partner

 

 

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Most gym goers fall into one of two categories: the ‘loner’ category, those who prefer to get in their daily sweat session solo; or the sociable gym rat who would would never get their burn on without a buddy.  Some may feel that there is no point in having a gym partner and may even think talking to others is a waste of time. The most legendary bodybuilder of all time – Arnold Schwarzenegger said that working out was mostly a solitary time for him, he took the time to focus on his goals and progress. On the other hand he often trained with a partner. He says it always challenged and stimulated him. A healthy amount of friendly rivalry was what motivated him to give a hundred percent. Before you dismiss the idea or imagine a gym session as an opportunity to catch up with your friends, have a look at what we think is great about working out with a partner.

1. Increased motivation and focus

In order for this to work you need to find a person as committed as you. If you both take your goals seriously you will motivate each other. If you feel like skipping a workout the thought of letting your partner down will keep you going, or your partner will convince you to get your butt in the studio.

2. Improved performance

Watching your friend do well during their workout will force you to keep up. You don’t want to look weaker, do you? A pinch of healthy competition will push both of you towards your goals.

3. Safety

If you want to go for a higher weight or just try to push yourself a little harder, but you are worried about not managing or hurting yourself – bingo! A training partner will spot and assist you at those times.

4. You will be their inspiration and motivation, and they yours

Whether you believe it or not, when you work hard at the gym you motivate those around you. You don’t need to be a pro coach or bodybuilder to inspire others. Showing up to your scheduled sessions will inspire your partner.

5. Variety

From time to time your partner will come up with a tip or idea you probably never tried. Use your differences to mix up and improve your workouts. Share your knowledge and experience.

6. Companionship

Looking forward to your training session is a big deal! Instead of dragging your feet to the gym you will look forward to seeing your partner and their progress. This doesn’t mean you should spend your workout sipping water and chatting, but even the great stars of fitness and bodybuilding enjoy a little bit of camaraderie in the gym now and then.

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Sports Bra Technology: The Evolution of the SPORTS BRA

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New gym goers should be divided into two groups: those who come prepared with every supplement, piece of clothing and other gimmicks available, and then those who think showing up is enough. So as a beginner should you invest in any professional clothing, equipment or other workout additions? Many accessories are cool but unnecessary, but what about a sports bra? Is it just a fashion gimmick or something worth investing in? Well let us tell you are thoughts on the age old SPORTS BRA!

Research

While wearing special fitness clothes or footwear may make you feel better and more confident, there is no reason why you can’t work out in a pair of joggers and an old tee. But for ladies, a good sports bra really is an essential when it comes to working out.

Believe it or not but breasts can move up and down as much as a few inches while you work out. Obviously the larger they are the more support you want to have. The skin on your chest and around the breasts is thin and gentle. The breasts have what’s called Coopers Ligaments – connective tissue responsible for keeping them in place – in other words keeping them as high as they can be and not sagging. The problem with Coopers Ligaments is that once stretched or broken down, they will sag and the damage is irreversible.

Support

Apart from preventing breast pain and injury a good sports bra will help take the weight off your back and prevent back pain. The straps are usually thicker and spread the weight of the breasts evenly. Sports bras, contrary to regular bras, are made from breathable fabric which will cool you down and make you feel comfortable.

According to Dr. Joanna Scurr, a biomechanist, a good sports bra can reduce the bounce factor by almost 60 per cent! Dr. LaJean Lawson, a top scientific researcher at Oregon State University explains that the research on sports bras started in the 70s and has evolved greatly ever since. State of art technology is used to monitor women’s movement and bounce rates. This allows for improvements in sports bra models, and ultimately female athlete performance

Comfort

Have you ever worked out in a regular bra? The lace itches, the straps dig into your shoulders or slide down and the under wiring….Ouch. Rather than focus on your workout you are busy pulling, fixing and adjusting.

Most women choose a smaller cup and larger band, when the opposite is correct. Of course you can use bra fitting services, including sports bras but here are a few tips:

1) For larger breasts choose bras with separate cups (encapsulation). Wide shoulder straps are preferable because they distribute the weight more evenly. If you choose a clasp regulated band rather than a pull-on, it will allow you to adjust the level of support even if the fabric stretches out a bit.

2) Smaller busted ladies will benefit from a pull-on, shelf style(compression) bra which will compress the volume or a racer back straps will provide good ventilation and sufficient support.

New Year, New You: 5 Healthy Habits you should adopt in 2016

Ok, so the bells stopped ringing and the fireworks are over, your New Year’s headache/hangover should just about be gone and you may be struggling to remember your resolutions for 2016. So here we are with some suggestions for you because it’s a new year and that means it’s time for a NEW YOU. Yes, we know, you are already amazing, but there is always room for improvement! It time to introduce some new habits into your lifestyle so let’s take a look at a few that may be simple but will definitely improve your health and wellbeing.

Take more interest in what you eat/drink
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We live in the era of processed foods. The all-present high fructose corn syrup is currently one of the biggest contributor to the development of cancers and cardiovascular diseases. There is not enough stressing how important it is to cook most of your meals at home and replace sugary drinks with water and herbal tea. This year, try to cook more foods from scratch and avoid store bought sauces and condiments. Try and see for yourself how much better you will feel!

Get off your computer/tablet/smartphone

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Get involved in real life! Social media is so 2015! Meet people, experience everything in person. Feel, live and be like never before! Enjoy the great outdoors more! Wherever you live I’m sure there is a nice place nearby for a walk, a run or a Sunday afternoon picnic with your friends. Spend some time outside just breathing in the air –yoga, meditation – anything that allows you a moment to chill and relax will be soothing to your stressed body and mind.  Move more and get fitter!

Sleep more

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Sleep is not only pleasant but also really good for you!  Sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Also, in recent studies lack of sleep has been linked to obesity! So go ahead and get those ZZZ’s in!

Drink more water

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Too obvious? Maybe. But I’m sure you’re still not hydrated enough. This is not a fad. Staying hydrated keeps your metabolism going, keeps your kidneys healthy and your skin glowing. Remember, if you are not a fan of plain water, try some fruit juice, herbal or green tea.

Follow your dreams!

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Yes, this is quite a cliché but very real nonetheless! This year, do not procrastinate or make excuses. If there is anything you’ve always wanted – fitness related or otherwise – focus, work on it and follow through! Be inspired by others who already achieved what you dream of – they are just people – like you. If they can do it, why can’t you? You can do anything if you put your mind to it.

Abs Are Made In The Kitchen: Why diet is so important to achieving a flat stomach

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While 90s infomercials taught us that with a simple piece of equipment we could all get flat abs from the comfort of our bedroom, the fact of the matter is we all know that simply is not true (Sigh). We have all tried a hundred and one gimmicks like wraps, lipo machines, and special massages to get beautiful, flat abs and the results are all the same. Because the truth is, flat stomachs are made in the kitchen. Yes abdominal muscles are made through exercise but abs alone do not necessarily guarantee you a flat, fat free stomach. Diet is the only way to get rid of fat around the abdomen.

The Myths

Doing crunches and other abdominal exercises will do absolutely nothing for a leaner middle section! Yes, you heard it right. Reducing fat in certain spots is impossible, we lose fat equally everywhere. Of course we tend to accumulate more in different places but the consensus is – lose overall body fat and your belly will lose fat! When it comes to such extreme measures as lipo – the fat will come back if you eat junk! In this case, the conclusion is clear. There are two things that are really effective for losing fat – a clean diet and weight training. Weight training increases muscle mass and your metabolism. Cardio may help you speed up fat burning. But the real key is your diet!

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Why it’s Important

We all have abs. The muscles are there and they work hard every day to stabilize our core, even while sitting or walking. Of course, it can’t hurt to strengthen them every now and then but the point is to figure out how to expose them. The key to this is dropping body fat. If you eat less more often – it helps to burn those calories as you go so your body won’t store the extra in the form of tummy flab. Avoiding sugar and processed foods will help you regulate blood sugar and facilitate fat burning.  In recent research is has been discovered that as people in the US work out more, they also become fatter. You may think that it’s crazy but how many times did you think you can have a treat since you had done so well at the gym? Exactly! Rather than using exercise as a tool to deepen your caloric deficit and lose more fat, most people treat is as a license to eat even more! Sorry, but the reality is – if you want to look fit and toned you will have to reduce these calories and make some dietary sacrifices. So instead of getting through a workout thinking about all the candy it ‘bought’ you, think how much fat you are going to burn and how much closer you are to seeing those sculpted abs you dream of!