Good Morning Sunshine! Why Sun Exposure is Vital to Your Health

New research shows how powerful the sun can be in regards to improving your health and overall well being. So get outside and show some skin!

It is no secret that vitamin D is good for the body. It helps strengthen bones and teeth, and it also helps us fight off diseases and illness.

However, as a whole, we may not be getting enough vitamin D. With the scare of skin cancer and the promotion of products designed to block the sun from damaging our skin, our vitamin D levels are dropping.

Professor Michael Holick, of Boston University School of Medicine, says “We get about 90 to 95 percent of our vitamin D from the sun. It is essential for absorbing calcium, keeping our bones healthy, and for protecting against serious chronic diseases later in life such as osteoporosis, Type II diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and many common cancers.”

However, just like everything else in our lives, moderation is key. Prolonged exposure to UVA rays can cause severe damage to our skin, while too much UVB rays (the rays that give us vitamin D, have been linked to photoaging and direct DNA damage.

So how do we get enough sun, without causing damage to our skin? Using the proper sunscreen and limiting your exposure to the midday sun is crucial. When applying sunscreen, you should opt for an SPF grade of 15 or higher.

Wearing a shirt and hat in the midday sun is also advised. However, you should allow the sun to have access to your skin on a regular basis. Five to 15 minutes of direct sunlight at least three times per week is about average.

There are other benefits to sun exposure though, and in today’s world of avoiding the sun for fear of damage, we should be looking back outside for the benefits.

Mood

The sun, or more specifically the UV rays of the sun, actually promote better moods. Our bodies create serotonin, a chemical that makes us feel happy. Sunlight will promote serotonin levels and make us feel better.

When combined with outdoor exercise, these levels can ward off moderate depression.

Diabetes Prevention

Recent studies in Finland and the United Kingdom have found that children exposed to higher levels of vitamin D are less likely to develop Type I diabetes later in life. The studies also show that Type II diabetes is less likely in adults who maintained higher levels of Vitamin D throughout childhood than those who did not.

The Finland studies on Type I diabetes reported prevention of the disease by up to 80%.

Melanoma Protection

Exposure to UVB can actually help protect your body against melanoma. Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer and is caused by repeated and prolonged exposure to UVA light.

However, UVB light interacts with the body and helps produce vitamin D3, which is shown to reduce the risk of melanoma, especially in unprotected portions of the skin.

UVA exposure breaks down vitamin D3 and over time can cause melanoma. People who spend most of their time indoors are actually at greater risk because, unlike UVB, UVA light can travel through window glass.

This means that those mainly getting sun exposure indoors are not getting the beneficial UVB exposure and are at a higher risk of melanoma.

Helps Ease IBD and Crohn’s disease

People suffering from Crohn’s or any other irritable bowel disorders have a difficult time absorbing Vitamin D from foods. Exposure to sunlight can help the body get the required levels of vitamin D without it having to be absorbed from food.

The effects of vitamin D on IBD allow it to ease symptoms and lessen inflammation.

Aids in Fertility

In men, sunlight will increase testosterone levels making them more fertile. In women, it also aids in fertility by reducing the melatonin levels which suppress fertility.

Because of the increase in fertility, studies have shown that women who get less than an hour of sunlight exposure per week reach menopause up to seven years earlier.

Suppresses Inflammation

Sunlight exposure can also reduce inflammation, making us feel better and recover from injury quicker.

Those that suffer from ailments such as arthritis and general inflammation note significant decreases of flare-ups and pain after being exposed to sunlight on a regular basis.

Cures Skin Conditions

Such skin conditions as acne, psoriasis, and eczema can be treated with some sunlight exposure.

The sunlight will react within the skin cells to promote healing and lessen the severity. You should always speak with your doctor before any treatment regimen. However, slight cases can be treated with up to half an hour of direct sunlight exposure before being covered or having sunscreen applied.

If you treat skin conditions with sunlight, you should ensure that you never allow the affected area to burn, or conditions could worsen.

Fights Infection

Sunlight and the UV spectrum have been known to help fight off infection. By encouraging the production of white blood cells, infections have a shorter lifespan and are less frequent in those that have regular, monitored sunlight exposure.

Conclusion

You should always monitor yourself in the sun. While the benefits are numerous and documented, overexposure can be even worse. Prolonged exposure to untreated or uncovered skin can have serious side effects including burns and even cancer.

You should limit your daily sun exposure to 15 to 30 minutes per day in the summer and no more than an hour in the winter. Darker skin can withstand longer periods of direct sunlight exposure, but everyone should monitor their skin carefully.

When the skin begins to turn pink, it is time to apply sunscreen or cover up. You should always speak with a doctor or medical professional if you believe you have had too much exposure, particularly to UVA radiation.

When using sunscreen, be sure to use an SPF rating of 15 or higher and limit your untreated exposure to less than 30 minutes per day. Reapply the sunscreen within the time mentioned on the packaging.

Always speak to a doctor before starting any sunlight or UV light (such as tanning beds) as a remedy or treatment for any inflammation, disease or illness.

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

Early Birds: 7 Tips to Help Your Early Morning Workouts

Have you ever tried to wake up at 5:00 am to go to the gym before work? Not easy, right? Try these 7 tips to help you ease into an early morning workout routine.

Let’s face it, being up and waking up are two different things. For some of you, it may be easy to wake up just before your alarm, get the coffee pot brewing and start your day.

For most, though, you have alarms for our alarms. Hitting the dismiss button and rolling back over is common. You can cover your heads with the sheets and convince yourself that you’ll start the early morning workout—tomorrow.

Doing your workout in the early morning has many benefits: it gets you ready for your day, you have the workout over and done with and still have the rest of your time to focus on work or family or relaxing.

We have compiled seven tips to help you with your early morning workouts, a little push to get going when you might not want to.

Start Slow

Everything looks good on paper. When you decide to start working out, you plan for every day of the week. This may not always be a good thing though.

If you aren’t used to rising with the sun (or before it), it may be difficult to do it every day. Let yourself get used to the idea by doing an early morning workout twice a week instead of five or more.

As you get used to the conditioning, add another day until you work yourself up to the full workout routine you have planned.

Prepare the Night Before

It’s always a lot easier to get motivated when the only thing you have to do is wake up and get dressed. It becomes even easier when you don’t have to search for all of your workout gear in the dark.

If your spouse is sleeping in, or your roommate is a light sleeper, set your clothes out the night before. Put them in a spot where you can see them right when you sit up. The visual motivation will help get you going.

Have your phone or MP3 player fully charged and ready to go as well. If you have to wait for something simple like that, you will find more and more excuses to go back to bed or skip the workout altogether.
Being up, ready and out the door gives you less time to talk yourself out of it and gets you moving for the rest of the day.

Warm Up

When you first wake up your body is cold. Your heart rate has slowed, your blood pressure has gone down, and your muscles are sluggish. Before you hit the door for that jog or the gym to lift the barbells, you need to warm up properly.

Not only will this increase the likelihood of you going and doing your workout, but it will prevent injuries as well.

You don’t need to do more than work up a little sweat and stretch out the muscles, so they don’t cramp. Once your body is ready, you will be ready.

Use A Friend

Accountability works for any situation. If you have to meet a deadline, finish prepping for a meeting or waking up an hour earlier to work out, there is no better motivator than letting someone else down.

Invite a friend and get them to join you. Plan on the spot to meet that is outside both of your homes. Having one person meet at another one’s house means less time working out and more time waiting.

When your alarm goes off you will be thinking about making your friend wait, hoping you get there first. Once you both arrive, you will be motivated throughout your workout, and a little friendly competition never hurt.

Sign Up for Classes

Money is the great motivator. If you sign up and pay for an early morning class, you are far more likely to go. You will be thinking about the wasted money as you lay there in bed deciding to either get up or turn the alarm off.

You work too hard just to give your money away, so the motivation to get in gear and get going will be there. Before too long, though, the money won’t matter, you will be looking forward to your sessions.

Small Goals

The most minor action is larger than the greatest plan. Putting everything into bite-sized chunks also helps create a sense of accomplishment.

Setting small goals that are easily obtained give you something to be proud of, a check off your list and extra motivation to reach the next goal and the bigger goals.

Just like with starting one or two days a week and working up to a full schedule, break your goals into manageable chunks. You will find the smaller ones are easier to obtain, which will, in turn, make it easier to get out of bed in the morning to reach them.

Rewards

Working out and exercising will have their physical and health rewards in due time. But there is nothing wrong with a little reward in the more immediate future. Allow yourself to celebrate the small victories.

Perhaps you can set up a weekly reward for accomplishing a goal every day. Then if you do it for a month, give yourself a larger monthly prize.

Maybe you stop by the coffee shop for the extra-large every Saturday and then a manicure or massage every 1at of the month. Level your rewards according to the goals met, and you will find it easier to jump up in the early morning and get to work.

No Rest for the Motivated

Whatever it is that works for you, is what you need to focus on. You know what will get you moving in the morning when your own brain is fighting you.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. If you are not an early riser, to begin with, it will be even more difficult. As they say though, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

Find your motivation, stick with it and soon it will become a habit. You won’t need the extra push, and you will find yourself enjoying your early morning sessions more and more.

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

Why Spending Time Outdoors is Great for Your Health

It's a fact: most people spend way too much time indoors, in front of their TVs and computers. Also a fact: spending more time outdoors has been scientifically proven to make you healthier.

The correlation between health and being outside is an ever-growing conclusion. More studies are being conducted to prove mental, physical and scientific benefits of the human body to being outdoors.

In a study by the American government, Americans spend near 90% of their life inside. The older we get, the more inclined we are to want to stay inside.

However, research is showing that the more time we spend outside, the better our overall mental and physical health becomes. From mental focus and improvements to mood and self-esteem to improvement in eyesight and healing, being outside has tremendous benefits.

Mental Benefits

Green exercise is workouts and exercise done in the presence of nature as opposed to exercising indoors. Doing your exercise outside might be just what you need to see vast mental benefits. Improved focus, mood, and self-esteem have all been reported in studies from being outside or doing green exercise.

Focus

Multiple studies and surveys have found an overwhelming increase in focus and mental aptitude by those that spend time outside. In one study, three groups were given mental tasks to deplete their mental focus.

One group was then sent outside for a walk, one group walked inside, and the third just relaxed indoors. The results showed that the group that went outdoors was able to focus and scored higher on proofreading tasks after the break.

The Journal of Attention Disorders (2008) also claims that children suffering from ADHD show improved mental focus and abilities after being exposed to the outdoors. After just a 20 minute break at an outdoor park, the study children showed marked improvement in concentration.

Mood and Self-Esteem

Nature also shows an improvement in our mood and self-esteem. Researchers at the University of Essex in England in 2010 report “results from a meta-analysis of their studies that showed just five minutes of green exercise resulted in improvements in self-esteem and mood.”

Natural light improves your mood, and you will find more natural light outside than you will indoors. Being able to go outside for even short amounts of time will increase your overall mood and emotional state.

Health

Aside from your mood and mental focus, engaging in outdoor activities on a regular basis has benefits to your health as well. Vitamin D increases in the body healing itself and other exercise benefits have all been linked to exposure to the outdoors.

There have even been links to improved health from just being able to see outside or pictures of inspiring nature scenes. The power of the great outdoors has been proven over again by studies conducted more frequently.

Vitamin D

When the sunlight hits the skin, the circuitous process begins. Once the kidneys and liver get involved, the vitamin D from the UVB spectrum of the sunlight helps the body fight and prevent diseases.

Biological vitamin D has been linked to protective effects against stroke, heart attacks, osteoporosis, depression and even cancer.

While the effects of sunblock and age can prevent the absorption of vitamin D through the skin, short-term exposure without sunscreen (10 to 15 minutes) will allow the body to absorb and circulate enough vitamin D to provide the benefits.

Increased Healing

Recent studies have shown that while healing after surgery or injuries, being outside can increase the self-healing aspects of the body and promote a faster recovery time.

Even patients in the hospital with a view of nature had faster recoveries than those that had windows overlooking parking lots or brick walls.

Going for short walks in the forest or natural places with great scenery were reported among the most beneficial aspects of a speedy recovery; even going so far as to have both physical and mental improvements in patients that merely looked at awe-inspiring photographs of nature.

Exercise

Being able to get exercise outdoors is far better for your health and well-being than doing so inside. Walks runs and jogs outside show marked improvement than being on a treadmill.

While any exercise is great, pairing it with the outdoors only works to increase the effects in our bodies. Inflammation decreases with outdoor activities, which prevents the body from working too hard and causing other side-effects such as autoimmune disorders, depression and even cancer.

According to the Biomedical and Environmental Services study in 2012, students who spent time in the woods showed less inflammation and stress than did the students who spent time in the city.

Science

Science goes a long way to prove the hypothesis and test theories on the effects of nature and the outdoors on the human body. As such, they have established correlations between nature and green exercising and health benefits.

Grounding

Because the human body is a positively charged entity, there have been tests on grounding. The earth is a negatively charged object, and we can absorb the negative ions through the soles of our feet.

Going out and walking in dirt, sand or mud barefoot has shown to restore a harmonious balance in our electrical charge; this is called grounding.

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola: “The effect is sufficient to maintain your body at the same negatively charged electrical potential as the Earth. This simple process is called “grounding” or “earthing,” and its effect is one of the most potent antioxidants we know of. Grounding has been shown to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, improve sleep, enhance well-being, and much, much more.”

EyeSight

Being outside on a regular basis has also shown signs of keeping vision healthy. Particularly in children.

One study in a high myopia (nearsightedness) distinct area, children in one group were sent outside daily while the others were kept in their regular routine of staying inside for school breaks and recess.

By the end of the study, myopia in the outdoor students was over 50% less than the indoor ones.

Whatever the reason, or the benefit, nothing can replace going outside. You will get more exercise, more vitamin D, and much better overall health and physical benefits.

Spend some of your day, every day, outside and if at all possible, barefoot.

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

Common Health Advice That is False

There is a ton of conflicting health and fitness advice floating around. Let's debunk a few common health topics that you may have thought to be true, but are actually false!

When it comes to diet, exercise and healthy living, you are sure to hear all sorts of advice from friends, co-workers’ family, and even television and the Internet.

Everything you hear is not always true. In fact, most things we are led to believe over the course of our healthy living lifestyle turn out to be false.

Without scientific research and support, anything you hear regarding your health, safety and eating habits should be taken with a grain of salt. While their intentions might be good, a lot of the falsehoods sent to us about what we eat and how we should act come from the producers or manufacturers of certain goods and services.

If you are ever in doubt, you should always check the sources and do your research. Chances are, what you are being told could be false.

Here we debunk some common false advice about health and healthy lifestyles.

Organic Food

You may have heard that organic food is more nutritious than regular food and that it is grown without the use of pesticides. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, organic and non-organic farmers are allowed to use pesticides on their crops and do so. The amount that makes it into our food, on both accounts is so minute the USDA doesn’t even take notice. There is also no scientific proof that organic food contains any more nutritional value than non-organic foods.

Sugar Causes Hyperactivity

You have probably learned, or been told that sugar causes hyperactivity or even ADHD in children. However, what you probably don’t know is that there is and never was any scientific proof to support the claim.

The first claim came from a letter written by Dr. William Crook in 1974 where he stated: “Only in the past three years have I become aware that sugar … is a leading cause of hyperactivity.” The problem is that a letter is not a research paper.

No scientific report, study or investigation has ever proven this theory. However, most studies conducted on the phenomenon have proven that sugar does not cause hyperactivity or ADHD.

Wait an Hour Before Swimming

If you eat and then go swimming, you will cramp up, sink to the bottom of the pool and drown. I bet you all heard this one growing up.

However, the evidence says that this is nothing more than a scare tactic. Only under extreme training are you likely to cramp during swimming (think Olympic training). Casual swimming offers no more danger before, during or after a meal.

This is not to say you shouldn’t be careful in water. Cramps, drowning, or injury can always be a present threat. However, there is no correlation between cramping and your digestive tract.

Taking a Multivitamin Will Make You Healthy

Did your parents make you take a cartoon character shaped multivitamin when you were a kid? Most of us did.

However, vitamins, just like herbal supplements are not regulated by the FDA, and there is no scientific proof that one pill can or does contain enough of the vitamins and minerals we need to survive a day.

What studies have shown is that eating a proper diet will give us what we need, and others have shown that some multivitamins have been linked to cancer.

You Need 8 Glasses of Water Every Day

Have you seen those people walking around counting the ounces the drink? They even have products on the market to count your water intake for you.

Unfortunately, there is no scientific proof that you must consume 8 glasses per day. That isn’t to say that drinking water isn’t healthy. It has zero calories and is a good replacement for sugary soda and sports drinks.

However, how much you need depends on your exertion, activity level, and physical abilities. If you are weight training and taking supplements, you will need to drink more water than someone who sits at a desk all day.

There has never been, though, any research showing a correlation between water intake and kidney, liver or organ function.

Vaccines Cause Autism

One of the greatest hoaxes of our time. Never has there ever been a study to prove that there is any link between vaccines and autism.

The “study” that started the entire debate was not a real study at all. Published in the Lancet in 1998, a false, and retracted, the statement said a case of only 12 children found that the MMR vaccine caused autism.

Since then, studies of millions of children and vaccines have never turned up any evidence to support any such claim, ever.

Sitting Close to the Television is Bad for Your Eyes

Saturday mornings used to be full of cartoons and mom yelling at you to back away from the television. You were warned you would go blind, or your vision would become fuzzy.

The truth is the worst that can happen is you might develop a headache from eye strain. However, losing your eyesight is not a proven fact of being too close to a screen.

Saturated Fat is Bad For You

The understanding that saturated fat increased the risk of heart disease somehow became common knowledge.

The truth is no scientific study can prove it. There are, however studies that can show that eating saturated fat raises the HDL, or good cholesterol, in the blood and changes the LDL or bad cholesterol from small to large. Both of which are good things for our bodies.

No proof has ever been found that saturated fat causes a risk or rise of a risk for heart disease or cardiovascular complications.

Conclusion

Regardless of what you hear or who you hear it from, you should always investigate things out for yourself. If you are ever in doubt research and studies are just a click away.

Don’t be afraid to learn all the facts for yourself before blindly believing what someone tells you or you hear on television.

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

Most Important Habits to Reduce Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a wide spread problem in today's society. It is important to know the most important things you can do reduce high blood pressure and maintain a healthy level.

High blood pressure can lead to serious health problems including stroke, heart attack, cardiovascular disease and even death. Knowing about high blood pressure, how you can control it and what the numbers mean can go a long way to helping you live a long and healthy life.

When your blood pressure is measured, you will see two numbers on the readout. The upper number, or systolic number, is the reading in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) of the pressure against the artery walls when your heart is beating.

The lower number, or diastolic number, is the measurement of pressure against the artery walls when the heart is at rest. In general, the two numbers should be within a normal range. However, due to circumstances in your life, they may elevate from time to time.

Understanding the Numbers

A healthy range for blood pressure is any systolic number at or below 120 and a diastolic number at or below 80. Note that both numbers must be at or below their respective range to be normal.

If either number (not both) is elevated, you may have an issue with high blood pressure. In general, the systolic number is the one most often used to diagnose high blood pressure. If the systolic number at or below 130 and above 120, you would be classed in the pre-hypertension zone. This is a warning zone that you can suffer from high blood pressure without changing your lifestyle.

There are 3 stages of hypertension: Stage 1, Stage 2 and Hypertension crisis. If the systolic number reaches 140 to 159, or the diastolic number reaches 90 to 99, you would fall into the Stage 1 range.

Stage two ranges for systolic numbers are 160 and higher. The diastolic number would be 100 or greater. In this range, you are at risk for hypertension crisis, which can result in a stroke or cardiac arrest.

Hypertension Crisis is any number in the systolic range above 180 or the diastolic range above 110. According to the American Heart Association: “If your blood pressure is higher than 180/110 mm Hg and you are NOT experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, changes in vision or difficulty speaking, wait about five minutes and retake it. If the reading is still at or above that level, you should CALL 9-1-1 and get help immediately.”

Ways to Reduce Your Risk

There are three broad categories which allow you to help manage and maintain your blood pressure: diet, exercise and lifestyle changes. With these three categories, you can lower your blood pressure and help avoid serious problems later in life.

Diet

Just like any other health factor in your life, it begins with your diet. If you are susceptible to high blood pressure, there are a few dietary changes you can make to reduce your risk of high blood pressure.

Decrease Sodium

Just by decreasing the sodium intake can reduce your blood pressure by up to 8 mm Hg. The daily limit you should strive for is between 1.5 and 2.3 grams per day. As a guide, one level teaspoon of salt is 2.3 grams.

To reduce your intake always read labels and try not to add salt to your food. Sodium occurs in low levels naturally, so reducing the number of processed foods will greatly decrease your intake.

Limit Caffeine

While it is unclear of the long term effects of caffeine on blood pressure, it is always better to play it safe.

For people who rarely drink caffeinated beverages, the caffeine can raise the blood pressure up to 10 mm Hg. However, studies have shown no real effect on blood pressure for habitual drinkers.

The only way to know for certain it to monitor your blood pressure and test it within 30 minutes of drinking caffeine. If it raises 5 to 10 mm Hg, you may be sensitive to the blood pressure effects of caffeine.

Eat Healthy

Diet is important when monitoring and maintaining blood pressure. You should strive to eat fruits and vegetables along with whole grains and low-fat dairy. You should also minimize saturated fats and cholesterol.

Limiting alcohol to one drink per day or less is also ideal. While alcohol is known to reduce blood pressure; having more than 1 drink per day can raise your blood pressure.

Exercise

Along with a healthy diet, exercise is a great way to reduce your blood pressure. You should always s consult a doctor before beginning any exercise regimen; however, walking and jogging are great ways to keep your blood pressure numbers down.

Swimming and cycling are also great methods if you also need low-impact routines.

Weight Loss

Controlling your weight is arguably the best prevention and treatment for high blood pressure. If you can lose excess pounds, your blood pressure will drop.

Your waistline is a general tell-tale of blood pressure related risks as well. Men with a waistline over 40 inches and women with a waistline over 35 inches are at a higher risk of blood pressure-related events.

With diet and exercise, you should also be able to help control your weight.

Lifestyle Changes

Other changes you can make include lifestyle changes. Quitting smoking is one of the highest methods of lifestyle changes to blood pressure. Each cigarette raises your blood pressure for up to half an hour after you have finished.

Reducing your overall stress levels can also reduce your blood pressure. While some changes may be easier than others, when it comes to your health, you should try and aim for as many goals as you can.

Conclusion

Regardless of your age or risk, high blood pressure can be a problem. You should monitor your blood pressure at home and seek medical advice whenever you have a question.

Always keep your doctor informed of your results and have your tests double checked by medical professionals. Eating healthy, regular exercise and reducing your stress levels will greatly reduce your risk of high blood pressure and the risks associated with it.

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

Goal Setting: A Realistic Approach

We all know in order to be successful at anything in life it helps to have a plan to reach your goals. Have you ever heard of SMART goals? It's a fun and logical way to set and measure goals that will keep you organized and motivated.

When you set out to make a change for yourself, be it health, new workout, diet, etc., you have high aspirations of what will happen.

Perhaps you want to fit into that bikini by next pool season or be able to bench press 20 pounds more by next month. Whatever your dream you need to set goals. The problem with setting goals is that we tend to strive for more than we should and end up with our first attempt being a failure and that failed attempt turning into a last attempt.

So how do we set goals in a realistic manner that will give us results, keep us on track and provide consistent improvement? We have the secrets to your goal setting. Read on to learn how you can set a goal and accomplish it.

Be Specific

How many times have you said to yourself “I want to lose weight!” only to end up saying the same thing again a year later?

The problem here is that you aren’t specific enough. Losing weight is a great goal to have, but you need to not only be specific but realistic. Put a number down on paper. Hold yourself accountable without any outs. Saying you just want to lose weight will allow you to lose a single pound, and then be done.

However, saying you want to lose 30 pounds will make you keep going until your specific number is reached.

Set A Date

If you want to lift more weight, then you need to start sometime. But starting doesn’t mean you will improve consistently.

Make yourself have a clear goal date in mind. Don’t leave it open to interpretation. If you set a specific date to shoot for you will avoid putting off today’s workout because it doesn’t matter in the long run. However, if every day you see a red circle on that calendar reminding you that the deadline for your goal is fast approaching, you’ll put down the bear claw and pick up the dumbbell.

You need two dates for every goal, a date to start and a date to finish. Telling yourself you want to be able to curl an extra 10 pound by the end of next month, and you will start on Monday, gives you no outs. You must begin on Monday, and you have a finite number of days to improve.

Go Slow

Far too often failure is found by trying to go too fast. While it may not be impossible to quit smoking, and eat healthy by next Friday, it will be challenging. Moreover, if next Friday comes and goes and you still light up, you will have failed and feel you can’t do it.

Take it slow. Understand the change you want to make and give yourself a realistic window of time to get it done. Being realistic means, you don’t get to take 4 years, either. Depending on what the goal is, the time frame will change.

When you understand this about your goal and account for a variable, you will be far better off and more likely to reach your goals.

Don’t Bite Off Too Much

When we set out to make changes, our hearts are often bigger than we let on. We want all the changes, and we want them now!

However, you need to try and limit your changes to one or two at a time. Having too many goals is just as bad as not having any. You won’t make any noticeable progress and will end up feeling like you have failed.

Instead, focus on one thing at a time until you are accustomed to it. Then, you can add the next goal until that, too, is mastered. Repeating this cycle will give you the confidence to achieve the next goal because you already have completed goals under your belt.

Accountability

Sometimes we may be ashamed of our goals, or what they say about us currently. You may not want to blab to the whole world or on social media that you need to lose 40 pounds. Perhaps you don’t want people to know that you have 40 pounds to lose.

However, accountability can be a huge motivator in meeting a goal. Tell a spouse or a close friend. Or, you are so inclined, make a social media post and ask people to check on your progress and demand updates as you go along.

You will find it much harder to tell someone you can’t or won’t after making them make sure you do.

Keep Records

Keeping track of what you are doing, your progress and what changes have come into play make meeting your goals easier.

You can say you want to lose 3 pounds a week. However, if you step on that scale at the end of the week and the needle doesn’t move, you need to know why. Keeping records of what you eat, drink, when you work out, what you did during your workout, and other factors will enable you to have a way to look back and see where you can make improvements.

If you didn’t reach your weekly weight goal and went back to your records to remember the office party where you had four bowls of frank and beans, might be a good reason why.

Schedule Off Days

Make sure you have at least one day off per week. Your body will need to recover, and your system will need a reset. Give yourself a rest and let nature take its course.

Scheduling off days will give you a chance to not only heal and recover but to refocus on areas of weakness for the remainder of the week.

Conclusion

Having goals is great, being able to reach them is even better. Use bite-sized chunks to allow yourself time to adjust and have attainable goals from the beginning. Be specific with your goals and set dates for when you want to start and end.

Give yourself accountability with others and keep track of your progress for yourself and your accountability partners. And above all else, take it easy. You can do it, give yourself time.

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

Posture: Need to Know Basics and Exercises

Our modern lifestyle makes it very easy to develop poor posture. We'd like to go over the basic things you should know about good posture and a few exercises that can help steer you in the right direction.

At some point in our lives, we have all been told to “sit up straight” or “stop slouching.” Bad posture is a habit, usually, and is the main reason for the parental nagging.

We often only think about posture when we have a problem: our back starts to hurt, or our hips feel out of line. The truth is, posture is a part of us every second. Sitting, standing, bending, reaching, even sleeping all take our posture into account.

Having good posture is a habit just as bad posture is. If you correct bad posture, you will see the benefits near immediately.

Basics

Before you can begin fixing a problem, you need to understand what the problem stems from. In the case of posture, you need to realize that everything you do is posture related. Head up, chest out, back straight, shoulders square: these are the signs of good posture.

Chest in, shoulders hunched, weight forward: these are the signs of bad posture. Which one best describes you right now?

Why should you worry so much about posture though? Let’s take a look:

Characteristics

Bad posture can result in a lot of different side effects. You should realize that every part of our body is connected to every other part in some way. That “way” is through our spinal cord.

When you stand or sit with poor posture, you are placing undue stress on the spine, which in turn will cause aches, pains, and even injury.

The characteristics of a good posture are to think of yourself as a puppet on a string. That line is running from the top of your head right through the center of your body. If you can imagine that string being attached to the ceiling, you should be able to stand tall, with your head up, and have good posture.

Health

According to research from Duke University, 8 out of 10 people will suffer back pain in their lifetime. With the only exception being trauma directly to the spine, each case of back pain can be traced back to bad posture.

Every time we stand or sit with bad posture, we put our body out of alignment and cause some parts to work harder than others. Generally, this leads to muscle fatigue, and why you are sore at the end of your day.

In other circumstances, it can cause you to have more severe side effects such as herniated discs, inflammation of the joints, arthritis and may even require surgery. The same research from Duke University estimates that Americans spend over 25 billion per year for back-related surgeries, medications, and physical therapy.

Reversal

The good news is that poor posture habits can be reversed. Just like any other bad habit, you can train your body always to use good posture. You can get in the habit of sitting up straight and not slouching, which aside from the health benefits, will make your nagging parents proud.

Training for good posture just takes practice. Learning to think about it consciously more often. When you look in the mirror, for example, check your posture. When you are driving to work, are your hands even on the steering wheel, or is one higher than the other, causing your shoulders to slope?

When you are sitting at your desk or the table for dinner, is your back straight and your shoulders back, or are you slouched over and humping your shoulders?

Exercises

We can’t all make it to the gym everyday or attend a yoga class, although that would be perfect. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t train our bodies to have better posture and get into good habits during our workday or downtime at home.

We have provided some exercises that you can do to help correct poor posture. These will help to remind you of good posture habits as well as alleviating back pain and muscle fatigue.

If you get in the habit of doing these daily, you will find yourself thinking less about your posture and maintaining a proper poise throughout the day. It is never too late to correct your posture.

Take Breaks and Stretch

We sit at the computer for work all day long. It is almost inevitable that bad posture will creep in while you sit there staring at the monthly reports. To correct bad posture at work:

  • Take a break every 30 minutes to stand up and walk around.
  • Nod your head front to back and side to side to work out the neck.

Lock your fingers together and turn your palms away from you. Straighten your arms at shoulder height and push your hands away from you.

Bird Dog

This simple stretch will help you tighten your core and give balance and strength as you breathe.

  • Start on your hands and knees with your back straight and head up, facing forward.
  • Straighten your right leg out, level with your back and point your toes towards the ground.
  • Tighten your core and buttocks to maintain stability while extending your left arm in front of you.
  • Turn your palm inward, so your thumb points towards the ceiling and inhale, holding the breath for 15 seconds.
  • Exhale as you bring your arm and leg slowly back to starting position.
  • Repeat with the left leg and right arm.

Continue to repeat until you have held your inhale for a total of 60 seconds for each side.

Pyramid

This exercise will maintain proper posture throughout the movement, which will help muscle memory for good posture habits while stretching to release tension and pain.

  • Step your left foot back, so both feet are flat on the floor.
  • Square your hips and grab your forearms behind your back.
  • Exhale as you bend forward from your hips, being mindful not to roll or round your spine.
  • Exhale and inhale 5 times and then rise to the starting position.
  • Reverse legs (right leg back) and repeat exercise.

With time, practice and conscious effort, you will have better posture and less fatigue. You can lower your risk of injury, need for surgery or physical therapy and improve your overall health.

All by taking care of your posture.

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.