IIFYM: Part 2 Are you doing it right?

images4MRCJONZWe have all heard the phrase “IIFYM brah!” and have seen the endless number of Poptart pictures on Instagram. IIFYM has been huge in the diet and workout industry as of lately. Even my first post on IIFYM has seen the most hits out of all the ones here on my blog. I personally shift back and forth from eating things I WANT to eat and eating things I SHOULD eat when it comes to macro tracking. First let’s start with the three macros one tracks when dieting or bulking: Fat, Protein and Carbs. There are a ton of sites and ways to calculate your macros and calories. From IIFYM.com to the plethora of google results you can get just by typing it in, it might be hard to choose the right formula.

Fret no more! Direct your attention to this article written by a good friend of mine: Scott Herman Fitness Now this isn’t a shameless plug or a bit of spam. I’ve known him since we were in high school and his fitness success has exploded on the internet. You can find him on Youtube as well and follow all his free workout videos.

By calculating the correct number of calories and macro percentages based on your goals, you will find that losing weight or gaining weight can be very easy.

One of the biggest takeaways from IIFYM however is what you put into your body. Many of these IGers will swear by IIFYM and because they are lean and “make gainz” IIFYM and eating poptarts and pizza must be right. Here is where I disagree. There are so many chemical in today’s foods that by eating whatever you want as long as it fits your macros, can set your body up for self destruction later on. Why do I say this? Another good friend of mine recently beat cancer by changing his diet and incorporating raw greens juicing and healthy organic foods into his diet. He is a professional bodybuilder and admits to eating fast food at least once a week as his cheat meal before his cancer diagnosis. After cancer, he realized that more should go into what you put into your body. Forget about all the conspiracy theories and people who go for media drama and hype, there are a number of chemicals that are banned in other countries but not here in the US (for those readers who are outside of the US, check online to see if any other chemicals your nation might use are considered harmful).

By raw juicing and eating organic, grass fed beef and chicken, you can rid your body of the harmful chemicals that are snuck into your foods. While it’s great to look lean and cut, what good is that going to do you if you decrease your future quality of life? Be smart about this folks!!

Now I don’t claim to have vast amounts of knowledge in dieting and nutrition. However I’m sure this photo will prove that I have made great progress in trying to understand health and fitness:

 

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While it might be fun to eat poptarts and pizza, please consider the damage you may be causing to your body. Instead, focus on clean foods that will round out your macros while allowing yourself to cheat once and a while so you don’t binge on snack foods. If you have any questions on counting calories or macros, comment below and we will get back to you right away!

As always, following along on Instagram and come on over to our Facebook page Fitness by Claire

 

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Leg Routine that Will Leave you Wobbly

Recently we conducted a survey from our readers on what they would like to see in future blog posts. You can take the survey yourself here. Your answers will help us better define our material!

The majority of readers wanted more workout routines, recipes and coming in third was supplement reviews. The top three muscles people wanted to see routines for were legs, back and biceps was a close third. Today we will post up a great leg workout. This one normally takes me 1.5-2 hours to complete as I usually throw in some calf exercises at the end. I enjoy working out legs as long as possible. Some will argue that less is more and you don’t need to be in the gym more than 45 min for a good workout. I say do what works for you. If 2 hours is your limit, do 2 hours, if you can go heavy and quick for 45 min, do that. The Leg routine is called “Thunder Quad”:

1. Leg extensions x 20/ Bodyweight squat x 50

This is a super set. Perform the leg extensions then get off and go right into the body weight squats. Do this set FIVE times.

2. Leg curls x 50/ walking lunges with dumbbell for 1 minute

Pick a weight you normally would do 20 leg curls with, and get it to 50. then grab some dumbbells and do walking lunges for a minute. Do this set FIVE times……yes we said five

3. Barbell Squat for 5 minutes

Pick a weight that’s either 70% of your max or something that is moderately challenging for you. Keep the bar on your back the whole time, but try to do this for five minutes, don’t count the reps. Do this ONCE.

4. Leg press x10/ calf press x20

Self explanatory. Do all three positions for calves: toes neutral, toes out and toes in. Do this set THREE times.

5. Leg extension x100

Go back to the weight you used at the beginning that got you to 20, man up, and do 100.

6. Wall Squat

Wall squat as long as you can. By this time, it shouldn’t be for very long. If you last more than a minute, you didn’t go hard enough on the rest of the exercises.

I like to finish up with some seated calf raises, ab and adductor machine and some brief cardio after. The cardio will help with the lactic acid build up later and should allow for your legs to not be as sore the next day.

Try to do this workout twice a week if you need work on your legs, otherwise once a week should be ok. Let us know how you did after you try it!!

As always, come follow us on Instagram at eat_lift_inspire where you will see fitness motivation photos, tips, progress and even a promo code for 25% off supplements. Follow us on Twitter at eatliftinspire and also on Pinterest at Levyii

Apple Cider Vinegar

Many people question the validity of Apple Cider Vinegar having as many health benefits as scientists say it does. I wanted to take this opportunity to provide some information I came across on apple cider vinegar and why you should incorporate this into your diet daily!

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Apple cider vinegar is purported to treat numerous diseases, health   conditions, and annoyances. To name a few, it kills  head lice, reverses aging, eases digestion, prevents flu, prevents acne, lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation, kills fungus, regulate pH balance, dissolves kidney stones and helps relieve allergies, migraines, asthma, nausea,  heart burn and wash toxins from the body.      Can it really do all these things? You bet it can and more! But what does science say?

  • Diabetes. The effect of apple cider vinegar on blood sugar levels is   perhaps the best researched and the most promising of APV’s  health benefits. Several studies have found that   vinegar may help lower glucose levels. For instance, a study (White, A. Diabetes Care, November 2007)  of 11   people with type 2 diabetes found that taking two tablespoons of apple   cider vinegar before bed lowered glucose levels in the morning by 4%-6%. In another study from Arizona State University, subjects took a drink of 20 grams of apple cider vinegar and   40 grams of water. Those with insulin   resistance who drank the vinegar had 34% lower postprandial (after-meal)   glucose compared to controls. Vinegar may be the most cost-effective medicine in history, but most people with diabetes still aren’t taking it.
  • High Cholesterol. A 2006 study reported in Medscape General Medicine, showed evidence that ACV could lower cholesterol.  In a study published in a foreign medical journal, scientists found an   apple cider vinegar-enhanced diet may increase in HDL (good   cholesterol), and reduce levels of triglycerides. Research in rats suggests that apple-cider vinegar can help  control triglycerides and cholesterol (Journal of Agricultural and  Food Chemistry, June 22, 2011).
  • Blood Pressure and Heart Health. Another study in rats found that vinegar could lower high blood   pressure. A large observational study also found that people who ate oil   and vinegar dressing on salads five to six times a week had lower rates   of heart disease than people who didn’t. Researchers   have suggested that ‘this reduction in blood pressure may be caused by the   significant reduction in renin activity and the subsequent decrease in   angiotensin II’. Potassium in   the vinegar ‘balances sodium levels in the body, which aids in   maintaining blood pressure within healthy limits’ and ‘apple cider   vinegar also contains magnesium, a mineral that works to relax   blood vessel walls and thus lower high blood pressure’.
  • CancerA few laboratory studies have found that vinegar may be   able to kill cancer cells or slow their growth. One study found that eating vinegar was   associated with a decreased risk of esophageal cancer. Another   associated it with an increased risk of bladder cancer.   In recent trials, pectin, which can be found in ACV, has shown promise   in helping to slow the growth of cancerous cells within the prostate (http://www.news-medical.net/news/20100702/Modified-Citrus-Pectin-holds-promise-against-prostate-cancer.aspx).   In addition, apple cider vinegar’s acidity aids in detoxifying and   cleansing the digestive tract and cleaning out the colon, which supports   the health of the prostate as well.
  • Weight LossFor thousands of years, vinegar has been used for   weight loss. White vinegar (and perhaps other types) might help people   feel full. A  study (Ostman, E. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2005) of 12 people found that those who ate a piece of   bread along with small amounts of  vinegar felt fuller and more   satisfied than those who just ate the bread. A 2009 study on mice showed that consuming acetic acid (the active component in ACV), upregulates the expression of genes for   fatty acid oxidation enzymes in the liver causing a suppression in body   fat accumulation. In a double-blind experiment, obese Japanese were assigned to three different groups based on similar body weights, body mass indexes (BMI), and waist circumference. Each group drank a 500 ml drink   containing either 30ml, 15ml, or 0ml of vinegar daily for 12 weeks.   Those in the 30ml and 15ml groups had lower BMI, visceral fat area, waist circumference, serum triglyceride,   and body weight to the control group of 0ml. The 12-week weight losses   were modest: 1.2kg in the 15ml group and 1.7kg in the 30ml group.   These two groups consumed a similar number of calories to the control   group and also performed a similar amount of exercise, so the effect is   not likely to have been due to an impact on appetite or other lifestyle   changes. It was concluded that consumption of vinegar might reduce   obesity.
  • Alkaline Acid Balance: Some alternative practitioners recommend using apple cider vinegar to   restore alkaline acid balance. The theory behind the alkaline diet is   that our blood is slightly alkaline (with a normal pH level of between   7.35 and 7.45) and that our diet should reflect this pH level.   Proponents of the alkaline-acid theory believe that a diet high in   acid-producing foods leads to lack of energy, excessive mucous   production, infections, anxiety, irritability, headache, sore throat,   nasal and sinus congestion, allergic reactions, and increased risk of   conditions such as arthritis and gout

Read the full article here: http://preventdisease.com/news/13/071113_Is-Apple-Cider-Vinegar-That-Powerful-of-a-Health-Tonic-Science-Says-Yes.shtml

Citation:

Summerly, J. (2013, July 11). Is Apple Cider Vinegar That Powerful of a Health Tonic? Science Says Yes. Retrieved March 12, 2014, from http://preventdisease.com/news/13/071113_Is-Apple-Cider-Vinegar-That-Powerful-of-a-Health-Tonic-Science-Says-Yes.shtml

 

Muscle Group of the Week: Leg Workouts

First I want to apologize for going so long between posts. I know not too many people read this but it seems my frozen turkey debacle was a big hit on thanksgiving. My find of putting the turkey in a cooler while it thaws was a gem and it worked perfectly. I wish I had saved my pictures of our Thanksgiving meal but I did hang on to the homemade apple pie we had!
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Needless to say the pie did not last long. Eventually I hope to add it to the recipes section on here. I feel those are lacking in quantity and quality.

Now, on to leg workouts. Today I will post a handful of pictures that explain pretty well how to perform these exercises. As always, you should aim to do 3-4 sets with 8-12 reps. Going heavy on leg day is a good idea because they are such a large muscle group. They can be hard to build muscle in so by going heavy you are really creating work for your body.

Sumo Deadlifts
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Sumo Deadlifts are great because they work the quads, hamstring, glutes and your back. Deadlifts in general are a compound exercise that should be in everyone’s arsenal.

Deadlifts
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As you can see in the picture, deadlifts work more than just the legs. If you have never done deadlifts before, be sure to start light and watch some videos on proper form. This is one exercise where if performed incorrectly, you can really do some damage.

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This image shows many other exercises that all should be incorporated into your workout. The front and back squat should be required. They really target the quads and will give nice development to them. Leg press is another great way to fatigue the quads. Again, if you’ve never done these, go light for the first few times. If you can complete 12 reps for 3-4 sets then it’s time to up the weight. Leg extensions and leg curls are a good superset to really fatigue the muscles as well. Try to do 15 reps if you do these towards the end of your workout. You can also pyramid any of these sets. Start light and go 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1, 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15. It’s guaranteed you’ll have trouble walking the next day!

One group people neglect is the calf muscle. If your gym has sitting or standing calf machine please add these in to your workout.
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Another thing people don’t do is vary the angle of the calf muscle. Just keeping your feet pointed forward only targets the main muscle, the gastrocnemius. Pointing your toes inward and outward will develop the Soleus and Plantaris.
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Please whatever you do, just don’t let this happen to you. Friends don’t let friends not lift legs:
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How to Beat the Thanksgiving Day Bulk

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Most Americans love the holidays. It is a time we get together with family, enjoy great food, and catch up on all that went on during the year. This is also the time where most Americans put on the most weight. With a spread like that pictured above, how can one NOT want to indulge during the holidays? Well if most of you are on a healthy diet or simply maintaining a healthy lifestyle, then these tips will surely help you avoid the holiday weight gain many of us dread.

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Tip #1: Drink Responsibly

This seems like a no-brainer however, when we get together with family, there seems to always bee alcohol available, especially around the holidays. Sam Adams has their pumpkin brew and I’m sure many other companies have similar beers. But, did you know that for example, the carbohydrates found in one pint of Guinness are 100% sugar! Sugars are simple carbs, used up faster by the body and can create unwanted insulin spikes! This can cause you to eat more than you wanted and crave more of the sugary sweet stuff you’ve worked so hard to avoid.

Tip #2: Drink H2O

Drink a full glass of water before you sit down to your Thanksgiving day dinner. Many times it is hard to differentiate between hunger and dehydration and that second and third helping you have, may have been better served with just another glass of water.

Tip #3: The 70/30 Rule

70% of the food on your plate should be protein in the form of turkey, chicken, or any meat of your choosing. Preferably the meat should be the white meat as it is lower in fat, but if you must have the dark meat (let’s face it, it tastes much better) just even it out with a mix of white and dark. Your protein should be no larger than approximately 4oz (basically the size of your fist or a deck of cards). 30% of the food on your plate should be from complex carbohydrates in the form of green beans (NOT the casserole), wild rice, or sweet potatoes (again, NOT the casserole).

Your carbs should equal no more than 2-3oz (the size of the inside of the palm of your hand). And that extra 10% we haven’t covered? Enjoy a small helping of the item of your choice. It IS the holiday season and that DOESN’T mean you can’t enjoy a small taste of Grandma’s homemade stuffing! Just make sure it’s ONLY 10% of what you’re eating!

Tip #4: Dessert

Beware! This is where you can really pack on the calories! Restrict your dessert to an item no larger than the palm of your hand, or no bigger than the size of your thumb. (So that 7 layer cake is OUT of the question!) Many of you may not like this suggestion. Hell, I’m known in my family to eat two slices of pie with ice cream before everyone is done being served their own slice! However, desserts are filled with sugar, butter, and are so calorically dense, that you could take all the precautions during dinner and throw it right out the window at dessert. Remember what you are working for and use your wits when it comes to these sweets.

Tip #5: No Round-Trips through the Table!

No going back for seconds or thirds… yet. Get enough in the first pass to keep you from going back. Many times, you’ll attempt to fill the plate in your hand again, either wasting food you’ll find you’re too full to eat, or an additional meal’s worth of calories you didn’t really need to eat. Stay where you are and catch up with family you might not have seen for awhile. Many times you’ll find a 2nd trip unnecessary if you’ve followed some of the tips above.

Tip #6: Wait 20 Minutes…

You’re allowed a trip back to the buffet… IF you wait 20 minutes first.

Wait 20 minutes after you’ve eaten your big holiday meal. If you’re still truly hungry, go back for a smaller version of whatever you’re hungry for.

However, chances are, after that 20 minute wait you’ll find you’re pleasantly satisfied. Why? It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to get the message to your brain that you’ve had enough to eat. Scarfing down a 2nd helping of Aunt May’s sweet potato casserole before your stomach has had time to get that memo to your brain can result in the top button of your pants relieving itself from the buttonhole without you even realizing it!

Tip #7: The Workouts

Try to get a good workout in the morning of Thanksgiving if your gym is open. If it’s not, go for a run. By burning off some calories you can increase your caloric deficit, helping you when it comes time to eat. You can also use Thanksgiving dinner as a refeed option and won’t have to feel as guilty or watch those calories so closely. The day after thanksgiving, while everyone is fighting each other in lines for Black Friday, go to the gym again. I’m almost positive they will be close to empty the day after, but not so much the Monday that follows. (Everyone feels guilty about the weekend they just had and all rush to the gym to work it off in one workout, we all know that won’t work!)

Tip #8: Diet Wisely Leading Up to Thanksgiving

Since weight loss or gain is determined based on calorie balance over time rather than day to day fluctuations, if you can create a decent calorie deficit during the week leading up to the meal, after you have that higher calorie meal on Thanksgiving, you’ll actually just set yourself back closer to baseline.

For example, even if you can remove 200 calories from your daily diet starting on Monday leading up to Thanksgiving that will be 600 additional calories you can add. Depending on where your calories are, 200 may seem like a lot. I know for me, if I eliminated 200 a day, I’d be down to 1100 calories a day, and I’d be hungry all week, which could be dangerous. Those of you on a bulk during the winter months, this might be a bit easier for you to do. If you are already on a caloric defict, try reducing by 50-100 calories a day.

Given a typical dinner meal of 500 calories, this allows you to eat 1100 calories that meal without gaining any weight (note that you may have typical dinner meals of more or less calories than this so the number would have to be adjusted).

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I know we won’t be doing much for Thanksgiving this year, I may cook a turkey, haven’t decided yet. However, I hope these tips will help some of you avoid feeling so guilty during the holidays. Family should understand your healthy lifestyle and help you rather than hinder you during this time. I know I love the holidays. In fact, it’s hard to go grocery shopping now as all the ingredients for ginger bread houses and pumpkin pies are screaming my name as I walk down the aisle (or atleast that’s how I see it!). By staying motivated and allowing yourself to relax a bit during the holiday, it will allow you to reduce your stress levels, which we know creates cortisol and increases body fat all on its own.

Preventing Strokes and Melanoma

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This is me on June 28, 2013. If you’ve read my blog before, my first post was about the stroke I had. I tore the inner lining of my carotid artery and needed an emergency angiogram and stent placement to open it back up. No one thinks they will have a stroke at 30, and I surely didn’t think I would have one. I maintain a very healthy diet, workout 5 days a week for 2 hours at least each day, don’t eat junk food, and my cholesterol is perfect. I’d like to take a moment and tell all of you how to do everything you can to minimize the possibility of having a stroke.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for having a stroke. Many people are on daily medication to control their blood pressure. Normal BP rates vary for everyone, however mine was very normal. Before the stroke my blood pressure was usually 116/70 and that was after two cups of coffee. I could tell the nurse when I would see the doctor what my BP would be and I would only be a few numbers off. Most grocery stores these days have free BP machines that you can check where your rates are for free. I highly recommend you try it, even once. It’s a useful tool that should not be over looked.

Smoking and Alcohol

Both of these things can increase your risk for stroke. Smoking is a gross habit and should not be done simply because of all the negative health affects you can suffer from. If a risk of stroke isn’t enough to scare you out of smoking, then the cancer should.

Knowing Cholesterol Levels

This is one that most people might not be aware of. You should get your cholesterol checked by your doctor. Anything over 200 is not good and should be addressed. Mine, is 176, perfect according to my doctor. When they did the angiogram they said there was no sign of any arteries having plaque in them.

Symptoms of a Stroke

If you experience ANY of these symptoms you should see a doctor. Never second guess the way your body feels. It took a week for me to have a doctor take me seriously because I am so young. I didn’t experience all of the symptoms either, which made me even more unsure as to whether or not I was actually having a stroke.

  1. Trouble walking
  2. trouble with speaking and understanding
  3. paralysis or numbness of the face, arm or leg
  4. trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  5. headache

Now, I experienced the trouble seeing as my left eye went cloudy, my right hand wouldn’t open and when I raised my arms above my head (Thank you Grey’s Anatomy for teaching me this trick!) my right arm fell, as if it were super tired. I also had an ongoing headache for quite a few days. The only thing that helped is that I took aspirin that day so the doctors believe it reduced the strength of the stroke.

Now on to Melanoma. I’m going to first start by saying I haven’t been diagnosed yet. However, more than one person in my family has had or currently suffers from melanoma. For almost a year now I have been going to the dermatologist to have precancerous moles removed. They are precancerous because the lab results come back as atypical and dysplastic. Because it runs in my family, my genetic makeup is more susceptible to mutating and turning into skin cancer.

Sunscreen is one of the most important sun protection tools out there. Not enough people use it. We are so focused as a society on tan bodies that it drives young teens to tanning beds during the winter months. I was one of those teens. Turns out those are notorious for causing skin cancer 15-20 years later in life. Even after you have sworn off tanning beds, you can develop it, the damage has already been done.

To prevent melanoma, do frequent skin checks on yourself. Check the color of your moles and freckles to make sure they aren’t changing. Check for symmetry. If you cut the mole in half, are both sides equal in shape and color? Do you have new moles that weren’t there recently and are growing in size or do you have any bigger than the eraser at the end of a pencil? If you have any moles you are suspicious of, get them looked at. Your doctor can do a biopsy and make sure it’s nothing to worry about. If they go untreated, they can metastasize rapidly and turn into lung, brain, liver, etc cancer before you realize it. Try to stay out of the sun from the hours of 10 am to 4 pm but if you must, get good sunscreen and be careful!

Fitness Facts: SUGAR

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Watch your sugar intake this Halloween!

🔹In moderation, sugar is an important and vital part of your diet. It is either used as an immediate energy source or saved for later use in your muscles, liver, or body fat.
🔹The body releases insulin when it detects too much sugar in the bloodstream to filter it out & store it for later. The problem with excess sugar intake is the excess insulin causes the sugar to be stored directly as body fat.
🔹A diet high in sugar can contribute to weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, & type-2 diabetes.
🔹2 main forms of sugars are refined & unrefined. Refined sugars come in sources like table sugar, candy, & pastries. Unrefined sugars are found in fruits, some vegetables, & other natural foods.
🔹Foods that contain refined sugars are normally less healthy because the sugar content is usually high, the products usually include other unhealthy ingredients, & are usually high in calories.
🔹Foods that contain unrefined sugars are more beneficial because they are generally more nutrient dense, usually containing more vitamins, minerals, & fiber.
🔹Sometimes when the body’s blood sugar levels are low it causes sugar cravings. If you’re going to eat sugar, get it from naturally occurring sweeteners fruit, dark chocolate, or yogurt. Be careful of fruit consumption at night as the natural fructose in sugar can be stored as fat if unused.
🔹Another way to curb sweet cravings is to use an artificial sweetener. One of the best to use is organic Stevia. Stevia can be found in your grocery store as drops or packets.
🔹The best time to consume sugar is post-workout. It helps carry nutrients to muscles, refuels energy storage, & helps aid recovery.
🔹If your primary goal is weight loss, minimizing sugar consumption can help decrease the amount of fat your body stores.
STAY TUNED FOR MORE #FITNESSFACTS

5 Halloween Treat Myths You Should Know!

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Halloween is fast upon us. Most of you have picked out your costumes, RSVP’d to your parties and have purchased candy to hand out to trick or treaters. For those of you trying to maintain a strict diet and weightloss program, this particular day may be difficult. With so much chocolate and sweet treats floating around, it could be difficult to pass it all up. Here we will provide you with 5 Halloween Treat myths to help you stay on track.

1. The Sugar Free Candy Myth

Just because it says “sugar free” it does not mean to go ahead and indulge in these candies. If you are looking at the sugar free hard candies, then you would be right in your assumption that they have fewer calories per piece. However, it is the sugar free chocolate candies you should watch out for. They tend to contain plenty of fat calories and can be worse in total calorie consumption compared to a sugar filled gummy candy.

2. The Size Illusion

Halloween candy is all about those cute fun sized little packages that make you think because it’s small, its ok to have. Let’s look at it this way: If you were to eat a full sized candy bar you probably would feel a little guilty after cosuming it, no? It wouldn’t impact your diet too much unless you are really cutting out sugar and you would continue about your day. This fully sized chocolate bar might contain 250-400 calories depending on what you ate. Now lets look at the bite sized candies. They typically have 70-100 calories per mini bar. The problem is, you might find yourself reaching for another an hour later, and then another, and then another. Before you know it, you’ve eaten a good 8-10 of the tiny candies, giving you 800-1000 calories to your day….at night! OH MY!

3. Dark Chocolate

When comparing dark chocolate to milk chocolate, yes, dark chocolate is the lesser of two evils. It will never be as healthy as an apple, a bowl of oatmeal or chicken breast. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of consuming large amounts of dark chocolate on Halloween. Keep your portions in check!

4. Raisins

Many people opt for the chocolate covered raisins over the chocolate covered peanuts. They seem to think that since raisins are fruit, they must be the better choice…..right? Well if you look at the macros, 20 grams of raisins have 90 calories, 3.2 grams of fat, 14.4 grams of carbs (13.6 of them from sugar) and 0.8 grams of protein.  20 grams of chocolate covered peanuts on the other hand, contain 109 calories, 6.7 grams of fat, 9.8 grams of carbs (only 7.6 grams from sugar) and 2.5 grams of protein. The fats in the peanuts are healthy fats and if you maintain good portion control, the peanuts get the win in this one!

5. How to Avoid Snacking

The trouble people have is reaching into that bowl in between the trick or treaters. One trick to ward off those cravings is to buy candy that you are not a fan of. Don’t go and buy your favorite peanut butter cups and butterfingers (I am guilty of this one!) but instead buy the candy you don’t really like, this way you are less inclined to reach into the bowl and snack!

Happy Halloween everyone, be safe, keep the diet in check, and we will see you again for how to maintain a good diet during Thanksgiving! Follow along on Twitter @levyii

Fitness Facts: STRESS

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🔹Stress does not just affect emotions and moods- it is something that can have a very physical effect on the body.
🔹High levels of stress are linked to all kinds of health issues, including high blood pressure, impaired immunity, insomnia, migraines, decreased muscle, increased fat storage, type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol, stroke, & even heart attack.
🔹The primary chemical the body releases during stress is called cortisol. Cortisol can have some positive benefits to the body, but constant high levels can be problematic.
🔹The body releases cortisol when it’s stressed as a safety precaution because it helps with the fight or flight response. It signals the release of glucose and fatty acids to the blood stream to provide energy for muscles.
🔹But too much cortisol can cause the body to increase storage of visceral fat- specifically the kind that stores around the belly. It also increases carbohydrate cravings- which can lead to over eating.
🔹Excess cortisol can cause muscles to tense & the heart rate to increase- so it’s very common for people to get muscle tension or pain, as well as headaches or migraines.
🔹Stress can also cause muscles to break down, as well as negatively impact muscle recovery time & exercise performance.
🔹Stress can also negatively affect reproductive systems. Women can get longer menstrual cycles & worse PMS symptoms, & men can get decreased testosterone or erectile dysfunction.
🔹There are many ways to minimize the effect of stress on your body. The best way to start would be determining the sources of stress in your life & considering better ways of coping with the sources, or consider removing some completely if possible.
🔹Exercise is one of the best activities to help prevent the negative effects of stress. The increased calorie burn & circulation burns off some excess cortisol, and can also allow for deeper sleep, which also decreases cortisol levels. Some other activites that can help are yoga, meditation, massage, sex, or recreational activities.
STAY TUNED FOR MORE #FITNESSFACTS

Information was pulled off Instagram, follow along at fitnessbyclaire for fitness motivation and tips!

Halloween ABS: 13 in 2013!

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Most of you have heard this before. Diet is 70% of your weight loss or muscle growth journey. While this is true, today we are going to give you 13 fantastic abdominal exercises that you can do right at home or in the gym. I get questions from people all the time about how I get my abs to show, and while they aren’t quite at the 6 pack formation I want just yet, they are coming along quite nicely:

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I try to maintain my diet as much as possible but usually on the weekends I let it slack a bit as I don’t go to the gym either those two days. That being said, here are 13 exercises that might make you feel a little bit better after eating all that Halloween candy!

1. Body Weight Bridge

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Lie down on the floor. Keep knees bent and feet on the floor. Wrap arms around your upper body. Lift your hip upward. Hold for one second. Return to starting position

2. Body Weight Crunch

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Lie down on the floor. Feet are flat on the floor and knees are bent. Position hands behind your head but do not pull on your neck. Raise your upper body upward while keeping your lower back on the floor. Hold for one second. Return to starting position.

3. Body Weight Bicycle

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Lie down on the floor. Lift legs so that your thighs are perpendicular with the ground. Put hands behind your head but do not pull on your neck. Move left elbow and right leg toward the body until they touch. Move left elbow and right leg back to starting position. At the same time, move right elbow and left leg toward the body until they touch. This is one repetition.

4. Body Weight Crunch Reverse

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Lie down on the floor. Lift legs so that your thighs are perpendicular with the ground. Position hands at your sides to stabilize position. Lift lower body towards the ceiling. Stop when only upper back is touching on the floor. Hold for one second. Return to starting position.

5. Heel Touch

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Lie down on the floor. Feet are flat on the floor and knees are bent. Position arms to your side. Lift shoulders off the floor. Touch your left heel with your left hand. Hold for one second. Return to starting position. Touch your right heel with your right hand. Hold for one second. Return to starting position. This is one repetition.

6. Plank

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Lie prone on the floor. Raise yourself up so that only your toes and forearms are on the floor. Keep your back straight. Hold for as long as possible.

7. Side Plank

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Lie on your side. Make sure one leg is on top of the other. Position your forearm on the floor perpendicular with your body. Use your forearm to lift your upper body off the ground. The other arm is placed on the side of your body. Hold for as long as possible.

8. Body Weight Pull In Seated

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Sit at the end of the bench and hold onto the bench with both hands. Lie back and raise your legs until you reach a position of balance. Keep legs straight. Bend Legs toward your upper body while you simultaneously move your upper body towards your thighs. Hold this position for one second before return to starting postion.

9. Scissor Kick

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Lie down on the floor. Place hands next to your sides. Extend legs fully and slightly elevated. While keeping legs straight, raise one leg up. As you lower leg, raise the other leg up. This is one repetition.

10. Sit-Up

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Lie back on the floor. Put hands behind your head but do not pull on your neck. Knees are bent and feet are on the floor. Raise your upper body upward. Hold for one second. Return to starting position.

11. Body Weight Toe Touch

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Lie down on the floor. Lift legs until legs are pependicular with the floor. Fully extend your arms above you. Reach for your toes with your hands. Hold for one second. Return to starting position.

12. Bodyweight Twist

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Lie down on the floor. Lift legs until thighs are perpendicular with the ground. Keep legs straight. Fully extend your arms to your sides. While twisting the upper body, lower your legs to one side. Hold for one second. Return to starting position. While twisting the upper body, lower your legs to the other side. Hold for one second. Return to starting position.

13. Russian Twist

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Sit down with your feet flat on the mat. Your knees should be bent. Lean back slightly. Position your hands together and keep your hands in this position for the rest of the movement (you can also hold a light dumbbell or medicine ball for more advanced exercise). Your arms should be perpendicular with your upper body. Twist your torso in one direction. Hold for one second. Twist your torso in the other direction. Hold for one second. This is one repetition.

So there you have 13 abdominal exercises to add to your arsenal. Complete each one 25-30 times. If you can not do them without stopping, take a break as many times as needed but complete 25-30 reps, 3 sets for each exercise. You don’t need to do all 13. Pick 3 for lower abs, 3 for your obliques and 3 for upper abs and this will round out your workout. Next week we will post a sample diet to follow while you try to bring out those abs! Happy Halloween everyone and be safe!

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