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If your ab training still consists of chasing some arbitrary number—like the old-school idea of 100- or 200-plus daily reps of various exercises—then maybe its time to rethink your approach. Volume alone won’t carve out your abs. Even if you’re not stuck in an outdated mindset, you can still reap the benefts of adding toes to bar to your workouts.

If you’re not familiar with the exercise, you have probably seen the movement performed. An athlete hanging straight down from a pull-up bar and swinging his feet up to touch the bar for multiple reps. Calling this move “dynamic” sells it short—it not only places incredible demands on your core muscles, it also builds your grip, arm, and shoulder strength. The move is trickier than it looks, though, so be sure to follow these tips for proper setup and execution.

Toes to Bar in 5 Steps

Grip
Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder width, wrapping your thumbs for a secure grip—when you kick your feet up, you don’t want to kick your hands.

Flex
Squeeze both your butt and abs, creating a “hollow-body” position where your feet are slightly in front of your torso. With these muscles flexed, your body’s ready to swing.

Transition
To transition from backswing to upswing, simply drive your knees toward your elbows, then extend your legs, kicking your feet toward the bar as they rise.

Downswing
As soon as your momentum toward the bar ends, pull back into an arc and squeeze your butt to load your hips for the next rep.

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Ingredients:

• 1 12-oz. block extra firm silken tofu
• ½ tsp agave nectar
• 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 1/2 cups dry penne pasta
• 1/8 cup almond milk
• 1 cup mozzarella “cheese” (I used Daiya mozzarella style shreds)
• 1 diced tomato
• 1 diced zucchini
• 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce

Equipment:

• Small baking dish
• Foil
• Medium-sized sauce pan
• Mixing bowl
• Colander

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350º.
2. Add the tofu, agave nectar, vinegar and salt to a mixing bowl. Use a fork to mash the ingredients together. This is your tofu ricotta. (How simple is that?!?)
3. Add the milk, ½ cup of the mozzarella, diced tomato, tomato sauce and diced zucchini to the bowl and stir everything together.
4. Fill a medium-sized saucepan about 2/3 of the way full with water. Bring to a boil.
5. Once the water boils, add your pasta and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 11 minutes.
6. Drain your pasta in a colander and add to mixing bowl. Stir everything together.
7. Spray your baking dish with olive oil.
8. Spoon the pasta mixture into the dish and sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella on top.
9. Cover your dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), in order to help the public make healthier food choices, has proposed changes to the nutrition fact and supplement labels. The label was first established in 1993 (more than 20 years ago – wow!), therefore, it is well due for a change! Don’t you think?!

 

The proposed changes include:

  1. Adding “added sugar” to the label. Added sugars have been in the spot light for quite some time now due to excessive intake causing health related risks including: obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, etc. The daily recommendations for women are to not exceed 100 kcal/day (6 tsp of sugar) and for men to not exceed 150 kcal/day (9 tsp of sugar).
  2. Adding potassium and vitamin D to the label due to their public health importance. Potassium has been shown to assist with improving blood pressure. Vitamin D has many health benefits including bone health and improved immunity.
  3. Daily values will be updated for certain nutrients, such as sodium, fiber and vitamin D since their recommendations have changed throughout the past years.
  4. Calories from fat will be removed from the label because the type of fat is more important than the calories from fat.
  5. The serving size will be changed based on what people really eat vs what they “should” be eating. Lets face it, who eats only half a cup of ice-cream?! most people eat 1 cup.
  6. Foods and beverages that are consumed in one sitting will be labeled as a single serving. Example: Gatorade, has on the 20 oz bottle, nutrition facts for a serving of 8 oz. You would need to multiply the facts by 2.5 to get what you consumed in one bottle. The new proposal states that the nutrition facts should use the whole bottle as the serving since most people will drink it all. Same goes for a frozen dinner, chocolate milk, etc.
  7. Food and beverages that are larger but could be consumed in one sitting will have both calories per serving and calories per whole package on the label. Example: medium size bag of chips, ice-cream pint or 24 oz bottles of fluid.
  8. Design changes have also been proposed. Mainly changing the location of the DV% (daily value percentage) as well as bigger/bolder calories and servings font.

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    I have spent years studying nutrition and the effects of healthy diet on the human body. Food labels are like a foreign language and with the government regulations constantly changing it gets pretty confusing. If the numbers and grams aren’t confusing enough, try to identify or pronounce one out of the numerous ingredients that make up your food choices. The only way to ensure that you are getting the best nutrition from your foods is to pick the most nutritious. How do you go about ensuring that you’re making the best choices? It really is easy. The healthiest foods don’t have to be labeled. They are what they are. They are 100% whole foods with no added ingredients nor have they been processed.

So, this is the section where I try to convince you to give Paleo diet and lifestyle a real go. Everyone gets into Paleo for different reasons and experiences different results and changes in their bodies, mood and energy levels. But pretty much everyone agrees that eating Paleo/Primal way makes you feel pretty damn awesome. Let’s go through a list of reported and known benefits (taken from multiple success stories, studies, books and articles).

What’s the difference between Paleo & Primal diets?

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You eat unprocessed, real food

Paleo and primal diets consist of real, whole foods – except for some natural but bottled or packaged sauces, condiments and ingredients –  so you automatically eliminate a whole range of preservatives, hidden sugars, sodium, additives, colouring, artificial flavouring and who knows what else. As a result you eliminate unnecessary toxins and consume more nutrients, plus the food tastes so much better.

Paleo diet is rich in nutrients 

One of the misconception about the Paleo diet is that it’s all about protein and fat. What many don’t realize is that by eliminating nutrient-void processed carbs – I call them fillers – we supplement with loads of vegetables, healthy fats, nuts, seeds, berries and fruit, all of which are full of minerals and vitamins. Combine that with the improved gut health and increased nutrient absorption which happens through avoidance of irritating grains and legumes, and you get a very balanced diet. You’d be surprised that we can get pretty much all required nutrients from animal, seafood and plant based foods.

Sustained weight loss

Most people experience weight loss and muscle growth while eating a paleo diet and keeping an active lifestyle. Improved metabolic processes and gut health, better sleep, stress management, sufficient Vitamin D and a healthy ratio of Omega-3/6 fatty acids all aid in burning off stored body fat.

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Reduced bloat (and gas)

Paleo diet provides lots of fiber, which together with adequate H2O intake and a smaller intake of sodium help to decrease the bloat many people experience on a Western diet. Plus, paleo diet helps to improve the gut flora which is essential in keeping a healthy digestion.

Say goodbye to Hangry 

Hangry is a combination of hungry+angry, which is a common symptom for many people suffering from acute or chronic hyperglycemia.. This also happens when the blood sugar drops and the person gets a rapid onset of hunger accompanied by irritability, fatigue, disorientation, and a foggy mind. Meals consisting of protein and fat are very satiating. The energy your body gets from fat, protein and some glucose from low GI carbs is released slowly and evenly throughout the day. As a result, the blood sugar levels stay stable and you rarely experience energy drops; hunger develops gradually without the crazy mood swings.

It’s rich in healthy fats

Paleo diet promotes healthy saturated fat from grass fed meat, poultry, seafood, ghee, butter and coconuts; lots of monounsaturated fat from olive oil, nuts and seeds and a small amount of polyunsaturated fats; no trans fats; a healthy ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids.  The right types of fat are essential in maintaining healthy arteries, brain function, healthy skin, as well as decreasing systemic inflammation.

People following the Paleo/Primal diet experience many of the below benefits:

Increased and more stable energy levels Improved sleep Clearer skin and healthier looking hair Mental clarity Improved mood and attitude Improvements in those suffering depression or anxieties Less or no bloating, decreased gas Sustained weight loss Muscle growth; increased fitness Lowered risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer Higher immune function and a general feeling of well being Improved glucose tolerance; decreased insulin secretion and increased insulin sensitivity Improved lipid profiles Healthier gut flora Better absorption of nutrients from food Reduced allergies Paleo diet is anti-inflammatory, most people experience reduction of pain associated with inflammation Improvements in those with respiratory problems such as asthma.

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Ingredients:

– 2 Cups of Almond Flour
– 2 Large eggs
– ½ teaspoon salt to taste
– ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste.
– 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

Preparation:

– In small bowl combine all ingredients. Mix well with spoon then use hand to kneed dough.
– Dough should be elastic and hold together. If dough too dry add small amount of water as needed.

– Divide dough in equal balls . Roll each ball on parchment paper.

– For circular tortilla divide dough with large bowl or large cookie cutter.

– Place olive oil in skillet and bring to medium heat. When olive oil hot place tortilla cook each side for 30 to 40 seconds. Remove drain paper towel.

– Continue and cook each tortilla. The longer tortilla fried crispier each tortilla becomes.
Serve warm or cool

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  • Muscles, Tissues, Enzymes, Hormones etc.:Proteins or amino acids are essential components of our cells, tissues, enzymes, hormones and every other body part. The proteins from salmon (and most other fishes) are easy digestible and easily absorbed into the body. They do neither have any adverse side effects nor contain carcinogenic compounds, like other meats do. Salmons are also source of good fat (omega-3 fatty acids) which also plays a vital role in keeping you healthy. Salmon is also rich in some of the very essential minerals like iron, calcium, selenium and phosphorus and vitamins like A, B and D. Selenium, which is very necessary for building up of tissues, hair, nails etc., is best obtained from animal proteins and among which, salmon is one of the best.
  • Cardio-Vascular Health: While the Omega-3 Fatty Acids help reduce cholesterol, maintain flexibility of arteries and veins and strengthen cardiac muscles, the essential amino acids repair damages to the cardio-vascular tissues. They help reduce the blood pressure too, as they lower cholesterol level and prevent hardening of walls of arteries and veins, thereby considerably reducing the chances of heart attack.
  • Metabolism: The Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin-D and selenium, together help increase influence of insulin, thereby facilitating absorption of sugar and consequent lowering of blood sugar level.
  • Eye Care: Again, the Omega-3 fatty acids and amino acids help prevent macular degeneration, dryness, loss of vision and fatigue of eyes. It is a proven fact that people who eat fishes regularly or more than others, have better vision than others, longer.
  • Brain & Nerves: The Omega-3 fatty acids increase efficiency of the brain, improves memory and keep it wide awake during long working hours. In company with the amino acids, vitamin-A & D and selenium, these fatty acids protect nervous system from damages from aging, act as anti depressant, relaxes the brain and are also helpful in treating Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Perhaps that is why the fish eaters are supposed to be more intelligent than the meat eaters.
  • Other Benefits: Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation of the arteries and digestive system, reduce chances of cancer of colon, prostrate and kidneys etc., improve skin texture, add shining to eyes, skin, hair and nails and help in the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon. The fatter the salmon, the more nutritious and healthy it is. It is a good protein supplement of older or sick people too, being easy digestible. In some parts of the world, it is cheaper than other sources of animal proteins such as meat, poultry etc.

Mentally-Tough

When training, concentration with 100 percent focus is crucial to reach greater intensity levels. The first step is to really believe that becoming stronger and faster is possible. In the same way you can command your body to push further when everything else suggests that you cannot, so you can mentally coax your body to train harder and with more intensity.

Athletes are masters of mind power or at least they should be if they want to be exceptionally focused. Athletes are always battling various fears at different levels and when they master the power of their mind they begin to enjoy greater success.
Confidence is the main challenge.You may think that professional athletes are always confident. But just like anybody else, they have times when they are not confident. This is another battle that they have to work with in their mind. Just because they’re professional athletes doesn’t mean that their mind doesn’t play tricks on them or that at times they don’t have as much confidence as they would like.

Then there’s fear – fear of losing and fear of success or not winning are real fears that athletes have to face and overcome. By working with the power of their mind they can overcome any and all fears, just like anybody else can. But you’d be surprised at how often these fears lead to their demise or reduce their success.

So how do they get the power of their mind to remove the fear?
Athletes need to focus on winning. Their focus should be on doing everything they can to win. That means tuning out any spectators, any fears, and even their opponent. This is what allows a professional to be successful and what compels so many to stay in the ranks of being an amateur.

Professional athletes have their mind focused on doing everything they can to win. This is what gives them real power.
Mind power is the ability to harness and direct the power of your mind so that you push the subconscious to help you create the outcomes that you want.
Before any event, an athlete needs to move the focus of their mind to only the challenge ahead. Energy should not be wasted on the audience, their outfits or even their opponent. To apply mind powers during any competition the athlete need only focus on winning and doing what they can to win. Victory celebrations should be saved for after the competition.

When athletes get distracted they tend to struggle. That’s why so many athletes will take time off when they lose a loved one or suffer an emotional setback. They understand that they’re not focused on their sport and that they may be distracted. These distractions impede their ability to apply mind power correctly or to apply the power of their mind to win their next competition.

So if you’re an athlete get focused on being the master of your sport. Apply the power of your mind to help you stay focused on your competition and your ability. Sure there will be fears and there will be distractions. But when these come up you need to focus your mind to help you succeed and again, focus on your ability.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb  sausage
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup fresh organic basil, torn
  • sea salt, black pepper and garlic powder, to taste

Directions:

  1. Using kitchen shears, cut sausage into slices. Add to an ovenproof skillet over medium heat.
  2. Crack eggs in a large bowl and whisk.
  3. Add onion and garlic to sausage and sauté until onions are translucent and sausage is browned.
  4. Add basil, stir to combine.
  5. Pour in eggs, season with sea salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Cook for 1-2 minutes on the stove then transfer the skillet to the broiler for the last 3-5 minutes (or until eggs have set).
  6. Remove skillet from oven (don’t forget the oven mitt!), slice like a pizza and serve.

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Energy isn’t the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

DEPRESSION:
According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.
PMS:
Forget the pills – eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.
ANEMIA:
High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.
BLOOD PRESSURE:
This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke. BRAIN POWER:
200 students at a Twickenham school ( England ) were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.
CONSTIPATION:
High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.  HANGOVERS:
One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.
HEARTBURN:
Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.
MORNING SICKNESS:
Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.
MOSQUITO BITES:
Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.
NERVES:
Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.. Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.
ULCERS:
The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach. –

The squat is one of the single best exercises for improving your strength, power, and size, yet it is poorly understood and often executed incorrectly.

While the sheer number of muscles involved do make it hard to master, they  are also the reason there is such a great pay-off; a properly executed squat  will work your glutes, quads, adductors, groin muscles, lower and upper back,  abdominal, costal, and lateral trunk muscles. It is a fantastic core exercise,  and when performed correctly, also the safest exercise for developing lower body  strength.

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#1 Achieve Proper Squat Depth

A  proper squat  should result in your hips lowering below the top of your  knees. Anything less than this is a partial squat, and consequently fails to  draw upon the strength of your glutes, adductors, and hamstrings.

Further, stopping the squat and reversing your downward momentum at anything less than a correct deep position will stress your knees and lead to injury. You need to drop to the point where you hamstrings and adductors are taut, and produce a slight ‘bounce’ which helps you straighten up.

#2 Open Your  Knees

A properly executed squat requires that you not only achieve the correct  depth, but also have your feet and knees correctly positioned to maximize your ability to control and lift the weight.

Without the bar, drop down into the bottom of your squat, feet at hip width  and toes pointed slightly out. Then place your elbows on the inside of your  knees and push them out wide. This is your target knee width. The reason you want this width is because it allows for easier depth and it harnesses the  power of your adductors.

If you can’t keep your knees out during a squat, you probably have weak  adductors.

#3 Lift With Your Hips

Once you have achieved proper depth, you need to rise up. It is important  that you visualize this properly so that you don’t focus on the wrong part of  your body.

What drives the squat back up are your glutes and hamstrings, and so it is  essentially your hips that do the lifting. Don’t try to straighten your knees,  or push down on the ground with your feet, or straighten your back. Instead, imagine a rope tied to your pelvic cradle that is drawing it straight up.

Simply lift your hips, and you will optimize your muscle usage as you finish  your squat.

If you focus on these three key elements, the rest of your squat should fall  into place. However, there is no substitute for a good training coach when  you’re getting started, and if you can find somebody to spot you as you learn, you will avoid developing bad habits that could plague you down the line.

Perfect form is essential when executing a complex compound exercise, and should allow you lift heavier weights with better results if you focus on  getting your form right from the get-go.