Good Ways to Track Progress in Fitness Level

One of the most important aspect of any fitness regimen or dieting plan is being able to determine the level of efficacy of your efforts. Many people believe that you need access to a high-tech fitness lab to effectively measure your results, but this simply is not true. There are a few simple things which you can track that will help you keep a tab on your success. Here are five fitness tests that will help you determent your general fitness level.

Cardiorespiratory Capacity or V02max

If you’ve seen the fitness TV spots featuring Olympic and Professional Athletes running on treadmills with masks on, the you have seen tests for V02max. Simply put, these tests are trying to determine how efficiently these athletes are utilizing oxygen while exerting energy. However, you do not need all of this fancy equipment in order to track this. Simply go to your local track, and be sure to bring your stopwatch. Run for twelve minutes and track your distance. Then use this online tool to help you figure out your personal V02Max.

One-Rep Max

Carl Koenemann Fitness 1Most people who log significant time in the weight-room have probably know of this test. This is because it was one the most effective manners with which to track improvements. However, experts warn against novices trying to lift their maximum weight in just one rep. They point to the Brzycki equation a a great alternative. This equation can take data from a multi-rep set, and quite accurately predict what your one-rep max would be.

Muscular Endurance

Muscular Endurance tracking includes both push and sit-up tests, as well as plank tests. You can compare your results to the general population by using an online tool provided by ExRx.

Regarding the pushup test, simply do as many repetitions of push ups as you can. Keep in mind that maintaining proper form is absolutely imperative in determining true improvement.

For the sit-up test, complete as many reps as you can in a minute time window. For best results, use a partner to hold own your feet.

7 Tips for Fitness Newbies

Staying healthy and getting fit are very challenging. There is a ton of information, much of which is not applicable to you or just plain erroneous and unhealthy. It is ever tougher when you are new to fitness and are just looking to get started down a good path. Here are 7 helpful tips for people that are new to fitness.

1. Explore changes to your daily habits and behaviors

Perhaps you have a goal of losing 20 pounds by a certain date, but that won’t come easy or thanks to one singular action. Your daily habits and behaviors have a longer term influence on you reaching your desired results.

2. Adopt the Pareto principle (80/20 rule)

Although this is borrowed from the business world, the 80/20 rule is a great rule to employ when sifting through the volumes of information that is out there as you start your fitness journey. For business; 20 percent of your customers represents 80 percent of your sales. We can adapt that to: 20 percent of your time leads to 80 percent of your results. Always look for the methods and advice that will give the most value to your goal.

Seven great tips for anyone who is beginning to work out

Seven great tips for anyone who is beginning to work out

3. Know that there are different paths to healthy eating

Healthy eating is not just eating the most obscure meals under the impression that they are good for you. What’s good for you may not always taste good for you, and there are plenty of palate pleasing foods that are good for you.

4. Get a good amount of sleep

Lack of sleep affects our bodies in many ways, including increasing hunger cravings which will cut into any result achieved thus far in your fitness journey. Sometimes, people devote more time to working out – which on top of an already busy schedule throughout the day can mean less sleep at night. Avoid that, sleep is your greatest ally.

5. Find the right workout program for your specific goals

Just as there are many paths to healthy eating, there are also many paths to reaching the rest of your goals. Finding a workout program you enjoy can mean the difference between sticking to it or giving up early on if you feel that you aren’t getting results.

6. Don’t be a prisoner to your diet

While sticking to your diet is important, it is not important (and not even encouraged) to be too strict with your diet. A slice of cake or a few glasses of wine will not ruin your efforts up to that point. Being discipline, i.e. having just ONE slice of cake as opposed to three, no matter how delicious the cake is, is more important.

7. Your self-worth is not determined by your body

For anyone looking to start getting into the fitness world, it is also important to maintain a healthy mindset. While it is okay to strive toward a certain look, always be aware that your self-worth is not determined by you reaching that mental image of what you want to look like.

6 of the best fitness devices on the market

The popularity of fitness tech has grown astronomically in recent years. Selecting the best device has become difficult as buyers are inundated with options. Here’s a few of the best to help you sift through the sea of fitness technology market.

1: Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale:

While it may just look like a regular modernly designed digital scale, the Fitbit Aria is equipped with a suite of features that make it quite useful for those already using fitbit products. The Aria accurately detects one’sbody fat percentage, perhaps a more telling statistic than absolute weight regarding a truly healthy body. Furthermore, the Aria will automatically recognize a user each time they use the scale, after initial setup, and will save the statistics over time. One can track these stats, and gauge their progress via the fitbit interface. The Aria cost $130, and can be purchased at Fitbit.com

2. Withings Activité:

The Activite from Withings

The Activite from Withings

Many are put off with many of the popular wearable fitness technology items by their blocky and industrial feel. For those who want to stay classy while tracking their fitness, the Withings Activé is a great fit. The Activé has the capability of tracking basic stats such as miles walked, sleep, and daily steps. Your daily steps appear in analog form on the device, but it uploads other statistics to the Health Mate app which provides the user with more details. The Activé is far and away the best looking fitness tracker on the market, but is lacking features compared to other options such as the Fitbit or Jawbone.

3. Skulpt.me: This device differntiates itself from many of the fitness devices on the market as it track progress by measuring the user’s activity level (i.e. daily steps, sleep), but provides a holistic snapshot of the body’s health. Somewhat incredibly, the gadget scans any part of the body, and measures the body fat percentage, and muscle quality. Skulpt.me can be a great tool for those who beginning a fitness regimen as it takes some time to see superficial results, but real improvements are occurring beneath the skin.

Fitbit Surge™ Fitness Super Watch

Fitbit Surge™ Fitness Super Watch

4. Fitbit Surge Fitness Super Watch: There seems to be an endless number of tracking bracelet options on the market, many of which are indistinguishable in both design and function. The Surge however separates itself from the pack. This device has the capability to track and measure any statistic you could possibly imagine. This “super watch” comes equipped with a built in heart rate monitor making for a much more accurate measure of how many calories one burned throughout the day. Furthermore, it allows you to see the degree of exertion of your workout: peak, fat burn, or cardio. The Surge also boats a GPS, and allows you to search for and flip through an array of workouts. You can finally leave your phone while going for a job as this watch  has the ability to show you social media updates, text messages, and plays music.

5. Smart Yoga Mat: Although it may not serve as a complete replacement for a visit to the yoga studio, the smart yoga mat comes quite close.  Sensors are embedded inside of the mat ensuring that you optimizing your yoga technique and performance. The mat delivers data to an iPad which provides the user with the number of calories burned, an alignment score, and various other stats. The Smart Yoga Mat is scheduled to be released at the end of the summer, so be sure to pre-order the device.

6. Bragi Dash Smart Earphones: These cordless earphones are one of the most powerful products on the market today. They serve as great headphones while running, but offer a range of other features. They provide the user with great fitness tracking data once synced with the phone app.  Such features include  monitoring one’s heart rate, body temperature, oxygen saturation, pace variation, and more.

The Harmful Effects of Sitting

According to Lisa Marshall at Men’s Journal, the time we spend sitting during the day may be one of the most detrimental things we do to our long-term health. The 33 year old Adam St. Pierre who runs more than 50 miles a week and goes to a massage therapist twice monthly experienced this firsthand. Last year, during the height of his running season, was being bothered by tight hip flexors. He tried nearly everything to alleviate this issue, but seemingly nothing was working. That is when Adam decided to convert his working space to a standing desk. According to Marshall, his ailment was cured within just one week.

Studies show that sitting every day can carry longterm health risks

Studies show that sitting every day can carry longterm health risks

Marshalls points out that  sitting may represent one of the least conspicuous health threats of the 21st century. Experts in the new field of inactivity physiology say that a rise in blood sugar, the tightening of muscles, the slowing of blood flow to the heart are all attributed to sitting for prolonged periods of time.  Marc Hamilton, who serves as a professor at Louisiana’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center, says that this sedentary activity for a day or week at a time is not particularly harmful. But, doing this everyday over the course of years or even decades can incredibly detrimental to one’s health. A recent study reveals that people who, on average, are sitting for the majority of the day develop cardiovascular disease as twice the rate of those who do not.

The data also highlights a somewhat unexpected effect regarding exercise and sitting. Marathoners are found to sit around an astonishing 11 hours the days that they train. Additionally, people sit twice as much on the days that they exercise.

However, experts say that the solution to the problem is quite easy and simple. Small movements even while sitting can have a big impact. Simply fidgeting in your chair, or flexing your calves can have a dramatic effect. Experts call this type of movement NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis). Studies have found that the these small movements can burn as much as 400 calories each day. That’s not to say that one shouldn’t exercise regularly or opt for a standing desk, but supplementing your daily routine with NEAT can help you in the long run . Experts have outlined 4 simple tips to help you stand more. These including standing when you feel tired or you yawn, plan your standing/sitting in minutes per day, changing your mindset about sitting, and take quick walks throughout the day.

 

Thai Chicken Curry Recipe

Carl Koenemann presents this easy, delicious, and healthy recipe… Enjoy!

 

New Study Reveals a Half-Day Window for Healthy Eating Habits

For quite a while, health experts have suspected that late night snacking may be particularly unhealthy. However, little scientific proof supported this inkling until recently.  A study that was published recently by Researchers at San Diego’s Salk Institute for Biological studies corroborates these claims. In their study, mice who were not allowed to eat all hours were more likely to avoid metabolic problems and obesity more than mice who snacked at all times.

In particular the researches organized the study so that some of the mice were allowed to eat high-fat food at any time, while others were allowed the same diet, but only during an eight hour time span. Additionally, none of the animals were permitted to exercise. The researchers discovered that the mice who were consuming food at all hours gained weight, and became generally unhealthy as they exhibited common symptoms of diabetes. However the mice who only ate on the eight hour schedule did not gain much weight, and did not develop any other medical conditions. This study was conducted in 2012.

Carl Koenemann examines a new study from the Salk Institute that reveals that one's eating over the day should be limited to a 12 hour window

Carl Koenemann examines a new study from the Salk Institute that reveals that one’s eating over the day should be limited to a 12 hour window

In a new study which was published in December, Salk researchers gave a group of mice four different diets including regular mouse kibble, high-fat, high-sucrose, and high-fructose.  Within each  group, some mice were allowed to snack whenever they chose while others were restricted to feeding times of 15, 12, or 9 hours.  Furthermore, the calories consumed for each mice was the same.

At the end of the 8 month long study, the mice who could eat whenever they chose became medically obese, and experienced general metabolic health issues.  However, their counterparts who were only allowed to consume food on restricted schedules remained skinny and healthy.

The exact reasons why this time-based eating pattern can prevent illness and obesity is not completely understood currently. However, the Salk scientists believe that the hour at which food is consumed somehow affects the body’s internal clock.  Dr. Panda reports that meal time greatly influences the circadian rhythm, and this, in turn, influences the functions of some metabolic genes.

Although the studies have so far been limited to mice, the researches believe the effects to extend to humans as well. The main take away is to be cognizant of the time frame of your eating habits. Try to limit your eating for a day to 12 hours or less. The clock begins to tick from the first bite you take of your daily breakfast.

Three Apps for Making Healthy Food Choices

The holiday season every winter presents one of the most difficult periods to make the healthy lifestyle decisions. The giant suppers and ample desserts feature an array of dishes that are as unhealthy as they are delicious. It is especially tempting to splurge given the sweaters, and baggy winter clothing that can easily hide your body. Here are some useful applications that will help you avoid the temptation, and continue upon your course of healthy lifestyle choices.

Fooducate

Fooducate

Fooducate

Fooducate is a great app to use next time you are perusing the nutritional facts of items at the grocery store. This app utilizes your phone’s camera to scan said item, and provides a grade about the nutritional value of the item, ranging from A to D. Fooducate also provides more healthy alternatives for which you should opt. It is quite useful if you’re looking for a delicious snack that has better nutritional value than the comfort food you enjoy. It also provides helpful features that keep allergies in mind. Fooducate exists on both Android and iPhone platforms, and is sans charge.

Meal Snap

As with Fooducate, Meal Snap also uses your phone’s camera. Simply snap a picture of your meal on a plate (as the name would indicate), and the app will estimate of number of calories. You can then label the meal as your breakfast, afternoon snack, or dinner to keep track of your meals. If you desire, you can seamlessly share your meal pics across twitter, facebook, and other social media sites. Meal snap goes for $.99 on the apple store.

Pic Healthy

GE and MedHelp partnered to create this app which allows you to take and then upload pictures of your meals. These pics are shared with your friends, family, or whoever you choose. The app allows you, and your friends to rate your eating choice. Furthermore, you can earn points when your followers indicate that your meal was healthy. Additionally, you can score honesty points for posting a unhealthy meal and giving yourself a bad rating. It’s a great tool for a group of friends to try to stick to their healthy lifestyle choices together!

Great Foods to Enjoy while Watching Football

Here are some great foods to enjoy while watching football games over the weekend.

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Seven Easy Things to Boost your Health

Here’s a list of seven easy things you should incorporate into your life to help boost your health.

1. Meditate
Meditation has been proven to yield a variety of health benefits.

Meditation has been proven to yield a variety of health benefits.

Meditation has been around for centuries, but has only recently emerged in the last few decades as a popular practice in the western world. Meditating for 10-20 minutes every day to relax and search introspectively has been shown to alleviate stress, improve sleep quality, improve blood pressure, boost the immune system, and help with cardiovascular function.

2. Sleep

Many career-oriented people simply do not get enough sleep on a nightly basis.  No matter healthy you eat or how often you work out, proper amount and quality of sleep is a must for wholistically healthy lifestyle. Sleep deprivation actually lessens the efficacy of exercise and diet. Experts recommend that you average around seven to eight hours a night, but it varies by person. Additionally, research has demonstrated that lack of sleep actually impairs brain function and makes it difficult to focus

3. Drink Tea

Tea boats an arsenal of benefits that helps boost both the health of one’s brain and body. Some research has proven that consistently consuming Green tea can improve memory and cognition. Also, tea speeds up your metabolism, lowers blood pressure, boosts immunity, and helps with bad breath. So when you’re thinking about grabbing another morning cup of coffee, opt for some tea instead.

4. Floss

Here’s something you probably didn’t think you would see on this list. Flossing is not only important to maintaining dental hygiene. If you don’t floss regularly and your gums become infected, that bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause internal inflammation.

5. Warm-up Before Workouts

Recent research has shown that stretching before exercise might actually do more harm than good. If you actually partake in a dynamic warm-up, including lunges and high-skips, will help mitigate the chance of injury and lead to a better workout

6. High Intensity Interval Training

British Researches have shown that training in a high-intensity interval training style can result with equal benefits you get with endurance training. The upside is that it takes a lot less time.

7. Wear Sunglasses

Sunglasses represent the only way to protect one’s eyes. You should throw on a pair of shades any time you think you’ll be exposed to the sun’s rays for a significant amount of time.

8. More Fiber

Fiber consumption is absolutely integral to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Fiber can help lead to a longer life by aiding weight loss, reducing inflammation and blood pressure, and lessen the risk of developing diabetes.

How To Make Your Own “Instant Noodles”

If you love Ramen noodles, but feel terrible about indulging in the MSG-filled, sodium packed noodles then you should simply make you own (and it’s much simpler than you could ever imagine).

These recipes are a product of pure genius. Inside of a jar, you need to place a combination of par-cooked noodles, some vegetable base, and just a couple of your favorite seasonings. Pour in boiling water, patiently wait several minutes, and then it is done. You’ve successfully made yourself a delicious concoction with all the robust flavors of ramen noodles, but a much fresher, complex, and healthier version. The versatility of this concept is what makes these instant noodle jars so fantastic. You can create almost any flavor profile you want. I’ll discuss a few different options.

Spicy Kimchi Beef Flavor

For this particular version, you are going to want to use a beef base, beef jerky, kimchi, chili-garlic sauce, scallions, and some noodles. Selecting a premium quality flavor base is absolutely essential. Do not use the powdered stuff or your finished product will not be all that different from the Ramen noodles that you are trying to improve upon.  To achieve the best results, you should opt for a moist base with a robust proportion of actual meat. Throw it in the jar (around a tablespoon of this should suffice).

RamenNext, add the kimchi and chilli-garlic sauce. Using old kimchi with lots of its picking juice will give you a very sour flavor. The sauce is the ingredient that provides the heat to this dish (you can make it as spicy as you wish). Then thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms and add them on top of the mix. This is when you should introduce the beef jerky. Cut the beef jerky into squares and then throw the into the jar. Next, put the noodles in this mix. You can use an array of noodles including the pre-cooked ramen variety or pre-cooked chinese-style egg noodles. Alternatively, you could try vietnamese style rice noodles. Now you should add some hot water as you would if you were making Ramen noodles. Close the lid, and wait until the ingredients are hot and ready to consume. You should begin to add the fresh elements to the jar.  Chow down and enjoy!

Note: Be audacious in the kitchen and experiment with a variety of flavors.


Look at Carl Koenemann’s other posts to discover some fantastic recipes.