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Before we dive into the topic of alkalinity, I think it is important to define who we are as a species. We have been designed to be alkaline, yes, but what does this mean exactly? Our two main fluids in the body are blood and lymph. They are meant to be alkaline so that our cells can sustain life and regenerate. When we eat the wrong foods (generally acidic food), do not exercise, and cannot handle our stress well, the cells can begin to deteriorate and damage other cells. Sustaining alkalinity is not only about eating the right foods – how we think and move can also contribute to acidity in the body. A healthy pH of 7.4-7.5 is desirable.

The blood will always maintain its alkalinity to protect the cells, but it will do so at the expense of other body systems. For example, if the cells are missing calcium because we have not been consuming enough of this mineral and are lacking exercise, the cells will pull calcium from your bones to survive. Sound familiar? This condition is called osteoporosis. Many symptoms of unrest in the body can be prevented by living an alkaline lifestyle.

Can we test for this? If you google this question, you will find many different answers. The two most common tests are the saliva and urine test. I do not like them, because the body works as a whole and not separately, so we really do not get true readings of how healthy a person is. Urine should always test acidic anyway because our kidneys are one of our channels of elimination, designed to get rid of uric acid. Our saliva should test alkaline, but what you eat and when you brushed your teeth can skew the results as well. The best test is how you feel.

If you are looking to lose weight, sticking to a diet with the highest alkaline foods is optimal. These foods, in their raw state of course, keep your digestive system healthy and functioning well. I always tell my clients that a healthy ratio would be 80% alkaline foods to 20% acidic foods. Alkaline foods are all fresh fruits and vegetables. Some are higher on the charts than others of course, with green leafy vegetables, broccoli, watermelon, mangoes and lemons at the top. In the alkaline category as well are coconut oil, almonds, apple cider vinegar, sweet potatoes, wild rice, quinoa, millet, raw goat milk and cheese. The most acidic foods to avoid are processed foods and fruit juices, artificial sweeteners, peanuts, walnuts, commercial cereals, flours, pastas, beef, pork, shellfish, dairy, beer and soft drinks. There are obviously other acidic foods but the ones mentioned here are the most acidic and should be avoided most of the time.

Out to dinner?

I find that today we are blessed with many options in restaurants. They are all trying harder to please the ‘healthy crowds “and those with intolerances. One tip is if you are having meat, have a green salad with it, not starchy foods.  This will help alkalize the meal and aid with digestion. Ask the serving staff not to bring any bread and have a glass of water before you eat. Drinking water while eating will dilute your enzymes, which will further hamper digestion.

Let’s face it – our world is getting more and more acidic every day, with pollution, acid rain, heavy metals, food temptations, busy lifestyles, stress from family and business. We must try harder. Here are my top ten tips … (á la letterman style)

  1. Stay hydrated …we are 70 % water. If you wait until you are thirsty, your cells are dehydrated!
  2. Keep your tablets and cell phone away from your bed. The frequencies can interfere with a good night’s sleep.
  3. Take time out of your day to just breathe deeply, even if it’s for 5 minutes.
  4. Aim for all your fruits and veggies to be organic.
  5. Eat a variety of fruits and veggies every day. Aim for 3 fruits and 6 vegetables.
  6. Move!
  7. Have a plant based smoothie every day. It’s an easy way to get those nutrients in.
  8. Invest in a juicer. All the nutrients go directly into the blood stream giving digestion a break.
  9. Eat 80% alkaline food versus 20% acidic food – cooked daily.
  10. Make exercise a habit and hire a personal trainer to get you going. Even it is only once a week, just having that appointment makes all the difference in getting it done!

The opinions shared in this article are those of the contributor and not Total Gym Direct.

The post Top Ten Tips to Stay Alkaline in an Acidic World appeared first on Total Gym Pulse.

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3 Ways to Become a Better Trail Runner - YouTube

As trail running is becoming increasingly trendy in the world, it is no surprise that more and more people are looking for ways to get faster, get stronger, avoid injury, and just become an overall better trail runner.

People who are somewhat new to running usually want to know if there is a difference between running on the road, running on a treadmill, and actually getting out in nature and finding a good open space to do some trail running and the answer to that question is simply, YES!

There are strong arguments for the pros and cons of each of those running options named above but in the running world, trail running seems to be in the lead for popularity. The reason that trail running is so popular is because it allows runners the opportunity to be outside and not be bored like some people are when they are running on a treadmill and it also allows runners to run outdoors without the same pounding effect that you would get from running on the pavement.

Trail running is an excellent cardiovascular option to get your heart pumping and some calories burned. However, just like with any other sport or physical activity, it is good to constantly educate yourself on how to get better so that you can avoid injury and also just learn ways to enjoy your trail running experience more.

Here are 3 tips that will immediately help you to train smarter for your next trail running experience:

 

  • Preparation – Like most things in life, preparation is the vital and can be the big difference between failure and success….and with trail running, it is no different. Make sure to have important items such as water, a cell phone, your ID, sunscreen, a piece of fruit or a bar in case you get light headed on your run. Depending on what time of day it is and what the weather is like, you may even need to bring a jacket or hat as
  • Mental Focus – Like preparation which is listed above, mental focus is another very important skillset that applies to not only trail running but also other areas in life where you can experience success or failure. As far as trail running though, it is extremely important to be locked in mentally when you are running on a trail because you just never know what you might step in or step on during your outing such as rocks, holes in the ground, or even rattlesnakes. It is highly recommended that you don’t just stare off into the horizon while you are trail running and instead be very conscious of every single step that you take so that your run doesn’t end up being
  • Cross Training – Cross Training is a great option to add to your training regimen because as humans, our bodies adapt very quickly to doing the same routine over and So, if you were only running every single day (or every other day) to prepare yourself to become a better trail runner, then your body would adapt over time and eventually you would risk overusing those same muscles and increase the likelihood of experiencing an injury. Instead opt to challenge your body in different ways such as with strength training, plyometrics, and other sporting hobbies that may be of interest to you. The more variety that you give your body, the better.

BONUS: Here are 2 exercises that you can add to your cross-training program today with your Total Gym Fit to help you develop your trail fitness:

  • Seated 2 Point Leg Swings – With your core engaged and sitting up nice and straight on your Total Gym Fit, place your left foot on the platform. Perform a one-legged squat on your left leg and as you come back up from your squat, kick your right leg up as high as you can. Perform another squat on your left leg and this time on your way back up from the squat, kick your right leg out to the right side as wide as you can. After performing both kicks on one leg, that is considered one rep. Repeat this sequence as fluidly as possible by alternating the two directions on your leg for the desired number of total reps. Be sure to perform all reps on one side before switching and repeating with the opposite leg. (2 Sets of 10 reps each direction on each leg)
  • Standing Squat & Side Lunge – Begin in a standup position with your right foot on the seat of your Total Gym Fit and your left foot on the ground. Slowly lower yourself in a squat on your left foot and as you do so, your right foot should be raising the board up towards the top of your Total Gym Fit. As your body comes back up from the squat position, you slowly lower the seat back down into its start Repeat this sequence to complete the first rep and then you repeat the exercise to complete the set. (2 Sets of 10 reps on each leg)

The post 3 Ways to Become a Better Trail Runner appeared first on Total Gym Pulse.

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As you start to age, you might feel that you just don’t seem to be able to have the strength, stamina, or vigor that you used to have in your youth. Well, the good news is that aging doesn’t have to be like that, and there are definitely steps you can take to maintain and sometimes even regain your strength, vigor and vitality.

The natural consequences of aging are hard to deny. You can see it in your face as fine lines begin to appear, or you might notice your hair seems thinner. You might even start to notice a strand or two of gray appearing. These subtle changes in your appearance are partly due to your genetics can be noticed in your family. Some of us are genetically lucky enough to be able to age less rapidly. The other important factors to keep in mind are environmental factors, such as whether or not you smoke, drink, how much sleep you get, your nutrition and whether you exercise regularly. In other words, basic components of health matter immensely in terms of how gracefully your body will age.

The reasons that we age are still not entirely understood, but there are some intriguing new studies that help us understand the process a little better. As we age you might start to notice that your skeletal muscles seem to weaken, which is a phenomenon known as sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is a degenerative process where you lose more and more skeletal muscle mass as you age, starting typically around the age of the age of 40 with the most rapid decline occurring after the age of 75.

Andrew R. Marks, an esteemed cardiologist and molecular biologist, performed studies in mice with sarcopenia. He and his team surmised that sarcopenia had to do with calcium leakage from an individual’s cells as well as from issues that cause increases in the production of oxygen free radicals, which are highly reactive and can cause adverse health effects. The leakage of calcium from cells causes the muscles to not be able to contract as well, resulting in weakness and atrophy, which in turn leads to a loss of skeletal muscle mass.

Other investigations, done at the University of Iowa, looked at certain types of proteins, which when activated can muscle weakness, atrophy and loss of skeletal muscle mass. Researches at this institution have also been exploring natural compounds found in certain types of fruit that can reduce the expression of these proteins that cause muscle atrophy and thus minimize or slow the effects of aging. The studies done here are encouraging because they give us a glimpse of why and how aging occurs and sheds some light on factors that can be potentially modified in order to slow down the ability of the body to grow and repair muscle tissue.

While there is a lot related to sarcopenia that we cannot control, one way to slow the effects of aging and sarcopenia is to adopt healthy habits. This includes ensuring you exercise consistently, (as exercise slows muscle atrophy), healthy eating habits, and getting enough sleep. No one is immune to aging, but the bottom line is that just because you are aging doesn’t mean you’ll have to get weaker.

I have plenty of folks in their eighties and nineties who are in remarkably good shape which lends to the old saying, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. Remember Jack LaLanne and how he was fit well into his nineties? There’s a good reason why – his habit of juicing and using healthy fruits, vegetables and proteins to replenish the body can slow down the effects of aging. The end result is that you too can age with grace and vigor, if you continue to nurture your body with good doses of rest, healthy lifestyle habits and lots of good old fashioned EXERCISE!

So don’t give up, start early, and just get moving!

The opinions shared in this article are those of the contributor and not Total Gym Direct.

The post Why Do We Seem to Get Weaker as We Age? appeared first on Total Gym Pulse.

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Travel & Train Hard Series 1 - Total Body "To-Go" - YouTube

Hot rays of sunshine on white sandy beaches. Pristine water adventures and natures explorations. Serenity spas coupled with delicious food and drinks… Ah, just the thought of voyaging off to a magical place sounds, well, spectacular!

Planning a summer vacation or even a weekend getaway will be amazing wherever you go, see, or do. But what happens with your health and fitness goals? Will you plan to be active and get a daily sweat dose or will you pass for some need R&R? Perhaps a few days off can be good to repair, but if your travels take you beyond three days, you should have a simple sweat plan packed with you!

Consistency is key to any successful plan. If you workout regularly, it’s best to keep on track and stay active. Of course, you should rest, relax, and enjoy the fun, but try not to let all your hard work take a leave of absence too. Aim to stay active during your vacation journey.

 

TRAVEL & TRAIN

Depending on where you travel and what type of vacation you’re on, there are always ways to sneak in some fitness sessions. Some destinations may have local gyms or  studio classes, and many hotels have gyms or fitness centers for guests. But in any case, you can make the world your playground. This is such a unique way to enjoy your surroundings while keeping fit on your journey. It’s an efficient way to explore and train anywhere you travel if you have a “go to” routine.

Being active on vacation should make you feel energized and rejuvenated, not stressed or exhausted. Here are some tips on how you can stay active and while you travels:

  1. Walk everywhere.

Walking is natural. You will most likely do more walking on vacation than you normally would at home. Nothing beats the sights, smells, and sounds of where you explore.  You also experience and see more by foot because it makes you pay attention to the details. Here’s a few examples of different environments you may find yourself in:

  • At the beach. Sand creates more resistance along with balance and stability.
  • Hiking mountains. Hills and uneven terrains challenge your cardiovascular fitness, balance, and muscles in different ranges of motion.
  • Big cities. Skip the Ubers and public transportation and explore by walking or running.
  1. Seek out a new activity.

Vacations are the perfect time to try a new activity. Whether it’s hiking, biking, climbing, surfing, beach volleyball, rollerblading, hang gliding—the list goes on.  Trying a new skill can be an excellent way to experience an adventure while burning some extra calories too!

  1. Plan ahead.

A little planning will a long way on your travels. If you head to a coastline, you may take a swim or try a water sport. If you go to a mountainous area, chances are there are trails to hike or run. Or, if you have a “bucket list” task to achieve, like hiking Machu Picchu in Peru, you must prepare by planning each days tasks, packing the right gear, and proper attire in your bag!

To make sure you stay active on your travels, I have created a series of short workouts that can be performed anywhere, equipment free! These workouts will be posted in a series of 6 different travel blogs and will consist of only 5 movements to effectively target specific muscles depending on the workout you choose for that day!

 

TOTAL BODY TO GO WORKOUT

To kick start this travel blog series, we will focus first on a total body workout.

 

Directions: 

  • Perform the exercises in circuit style, one exercise after the other, with little to no rest in between.
  • Always begin your workout with a dynamic warmup and conclude with a few stretches.
  • Aim for 20 reps for one set, or 10 reps if you do multiple sets.

You may chose to keep the workout short by performing one set of each exercise or repeat it as many times as you’d like! Therefore, your workout could be as short as 5 minutes or longer if you have more time. It’s really up to you, but the goal is to be prepared and do something each day you’re away.

5 Total Body Exercises you can do anywhere:

 

  1. Push-Up Knee In: Perform 1 push-up followed by 1 knee-in towards chest. Alternate knees after each push-up.
  1. Dip & Touch: From a crab position, perform 3 pulsing dips, then reach to one hand to the opposite leg. Repeat alternating sides.
  1. Shoulder Taps: From a plank position, alternate one arm to the opposite shoulder while maintaining the plank position.
  1. Reverse Lunge, Lateral Lunge, & Twist: With the same leg, perform one reverse lunge, one lateral lunge, then stand to twist over that working knee.
  1. Leg Lifts: Back, Side, Side with Core: Assume a quadruped position. Extend on leg straight to the back and lift it in small ranges of motion.  Next, extend the same leg out to the side and lift it up and down parallel to the floor.  Finally, open the body to a side kneeling position with the arm reaching overhead.  Lift the leg to the side and bend it toward the lifted elbow to work the core.

Check out the video to see how these exercises are performed.

Pack this Total Body Workout on your next traveling adventure. It’s a simple way to keep fit while enjoying the wonderful world we live in.

Stay turned for Travel & Train, Series 2 where you will learn a new set of exercises focused on your legs.

Happy travels,

Maria

www.groovysweatstore.com

Social Media: @groovysweat

The post Travel & Train Hard Series 1: Total Body To Go appeared first on Total Gym Pulse.

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Total Gym Exercises to Relieve Back Tension - YouTube

At some point in your life, chances are you may have experienced an injury or some sort of physical limitation that has prevented you from exercising. One of the most common areas of injury are the hips, glutes, and especially the lower back.

Why is the lower back area injured so frequently? Is it due to poor posture? Weak supporting muscles? Sedentary lifestyle? Sitting too much? It’s a combination of all of these.

A Big Problem: Sitting

“Sitting is the new smoking. “Sitting is killing you!” Chances are you’ve seen some dramatic headlines in recent years about sitting too much or too often. While those may be a bit dramatic, there is research supporting the fact that sitting can contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle.

From increased risk of heart disease, to increased cancer risks; the take-away here is we are too sedentary and sit too much. We are not designed to sit in a chair in an unhealthy flexed spine position for 8+ hours a day. This poor posture is hard on our bodies, especially our lower backs.

The Solution: Move More

So what’s the solution? Get your joints more mobile? Get your muscles and joints stronger? For many of you active folks, you may only focus on one strategy or the other.

A more complete approach that combines mobility and strength work might be the way to go. Once you’ve improved the mobility of a joint, add some stability and strength to that improved range of motion.

While sitting for prolonged periods may have negative effects on the entire body, let’s focus on “opening” up the hips, “activating” the glutes, and “strengthening” the lower back.

Open, Activate, Strengthen

Sitting shortens the hip flexors and weakens the core, glutes, and muscles of the posterior chain. These are all things that can contribute to lower back pain. If the hip flexors are shortened, they can essentially pull on the pelvis and put you in an unhealthy anterior pelvic tilt position which puts added stress on the back muscles.

Having a weak core and glute muscles forces the lower back to pick up more of the slack with certain movements which can also add more stress to these muscles. Over time, these structural imbalances will lead to lower back pain and eventual injury.

We need to combat these imbalances and this inactivity by improving range of motion and strengthening the muscles on the backside of the body. While there is certainly no “one size fits all approach” when it comes to fitness and injury prevention, there are effective movements that can be done to be proactive and help mobilize and strengthen these problem areas.

Let’s take a look at 4 exercises that will help to get us out of pain and feeling great.

Lower Back Workout Strategy

This 4-movement circuit can be incorporated into part of your warm-up, or as a quick stand-alone session whenever you need a 5-minute break from your desk.

Hip 90/90: Mobility Drill

Perform 5 reps.

Begin seated on the ground with one bent leg out in front of you and one bent leg out to the side. The “90” refers to the angles of the knee joints. Initiate the movement by “opening the side knee” (i.e. hip external rotation) up as far as your flexibility will allow. Then begin to bring the other knee up off the ground to follow. Continue to rotate your body until both knees hit to floor.

You should now be in the same position you were in at the start of the movement, just facing the opposite direction. Be mindful of your back and think “tall spine” throughout the exercise. Repeat the movement to get back to the start for one complete repetition.

Total Gym Active Hip Flexor

Perform for 30 seconds per leg.

This is a slight variation to the popular hip flexor stretch that many people are familiar with. The biggest adjustment is that we will remain very “active” during the stretch. We are also working on maintaining a neutral pelvis to help increase the intensity of the stretch.

Total Gym Superman

Perform 10 reps.

While this might seem contradictory to some, strengthening the anterior core muscles in a safe manner is a great way to help alleviate lower back discomfort. The ability to stay braced and control the movement as you extend your body helps to develop strength all the way up the chain. Be sure to resist anti-extension in the lower back as you extend your arms out in front of your shoulders.

Total Gym Glute Bridges

Perform for 20 reps.

Begin seated on the ground with your upper back against a bench. Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the ground and extend your hips as you lean back onto the bench.

The post Total Gym Exercises to Relieve Back Tension appeared first on Total Gym Pulse.

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Total Gym Pulse by Mark Kirkpatrick - 1w ago

The ketogenic diet is a low-carb eating plan that helps the liver manufacture ketones that can be utilized as energy. Also called a low-carb high-fat diet or low-carb diet, the ketogenic diet first became popular during the 1920s and 1930s as a way to treat childhood epilepsy. In fact, the Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Russell Wilder designed the diet in 1924, but it fell out of favor in the 1940s after the development of medications designed to target seizures.

In late 1994, the ketogenic diet received mass attention after a television program focused on how Charlie Abrahams, the epileptic son of Jim Abrahams, a Hollywood producer, experienced vast improvement after switching from medical therapies to the ketogenic diet. While mostly known for its connection to childhood epilepsy, the diet can help with weight loss and much more.

In order to give you an overview of what this diet entails, what follows is a look at the diet and what you should eat to achieve ketosis, how to get started, what a sample meal plan looks like, what side effects there could be and how to avoid or remedy them.

Purpose of Ketogenic Diet, What to Eat & How to Achieve Ketosis

What is keto? For beginners, ketogenic is a lifestyle change that can help your body to behave like a fine-tuned fat-burning machine. It was first viewed as a means of treating childhood epilepsy, but can also be a useful option if you want to accomplish the following:

  • Weight loss
  • Reverse type 2 diabetes
  • Increase mental focus
  • Enhance physical endurance
  • Normalize blood pressure
  • Reduce acne outbreaks
  • Reduce migraines

Yes, the benefits of adopting the ketogenic diet include the aforementioned and more, and these benefits are actually similar to the benefits that can derived from most strict low-carb diet plans. The ketogenic diet can help your body create ketones, which are little fuel molecules.

Your body will tap into it as an alternative fuel source when there is scant glucose reserves. Whenever you consume little by way of carbohydrates, your body will produce ketones, which will be transformed into sugar in short order. When you follow the ketogenic diet, your body will run almost entirely on fat as your insulin levels drop and your fat-burning capacities ramp up.

While most people can follow the ketogenic diet, if you are on medicine for diabetes, on medication for hypertension, or are breastfeeding, you should not follow this diet. In such cases, it’s best to consult with a medical professional who might be able to recommend an adapted form of the diet that you can safely follow.

Some sources say that people following the diet should stick to a carb allowance of only 5%, and should pick from the following food classifications:

  • Fats & Oils (meat or nuts as well as coconut oil and butter)
  • Protein
  • Vegetables (above-ground variety such as leafy green produce)
  • Dairy
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Beverages (primarily plain water or water with stevia-based flavors, lime juice, or lemon juice)
How to Start

When it comes to the ketogenic diet for beginners, it’s important to get started by altering what you eat. That might be the most difficult challenge since you may be accustomed to eating the sorts of things that are not in line with the ketogenic principle.

Your meals should include meat such as steak, chicken, turkey; fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and trout; eggs fortified with omega-3 fatty acids; butter and cream; cheese that is unprocessed; nuts and seeds like almonds, chia seeds, and walnuts; healthy oils like avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, and coconut oil; produce like green vegetables, peppers, and avocados; and condiments like salt, pepper, and spices.

The aforementioned foods should make up the bulk of your meals on the ketogenic diet. If you follow this diet, you will get your body to enter a ketogenic state that will help you get results.

 

Ketogenic Meal Plan

When it comes to considering what a ketogenic diet is, a good way of understanding what it entails is to look over a sample meal plan for a one-week period. What follows therefore is a sample meal plan focused on ketogenic diet for beginners:

Sunday
  • Breakfast: Fried eggs served with bacon and mushrooms
  • Lunch: Burger with guacamole, salsa, and cheese
  • Dinner: Steak served with eggs and salad
Monday
  • Breakfast: Eggs, bacon, and tomatoes
  • Lunch: Chicken salad topped with feta cheese and olive oil
  • Dinner: Salmon served in asparagus simmered in butter
Tuesday
  • Breakfast: Omelet with egg, goat cheese, tomato, and basil
  • Lunch: Milkshake with almost milk, cocoa powder, peanut butter, and stevia
  • Dinner: Meatballs, produce, and cheese
Wednesday
  • Breakfast: Milkshake with almost milk, cocoa powder, peanut butter, and stevia.
  • Lunch: Shrimp salad topped with avocado and olive oil
  • Dinner: Pork chops with broccoli, salad, and cheese
Thursday
  • Breakfast: Omelet with egg, spices, avocado, onion, peppers, and salsa
  • Lunch: Nuts and celery stick served with salsa and guacamole
  • Dinner: Chicken stuffed with cheese and pesto with a side of veggies
Friday
  • Breakfast: Unsweetened yogurt with stevia, peanut butter, and cocoa powder
  • Lunch: Beef stir-fry with vegetables
  • Dinner: Burger without the bun served with bacon, cheese, and egg
Saturday
  • Breakfast: Omelet with egg, cheese, and ham with produce
  • Lunch: Slices of cheese and ham with nuts
  • Dinner: Fish, spinach cooked using coconut oil, and egg

One thing to keep in mind is that it’s a good idea for you to rotate the produce and meat used as part of the diet since each offers different nutritional benefits. This will help you avoid malnutrition.

Possible Side Effects

As useful as the ketogenic diet can be, there are adverse effects that you need to be aware of going in. For instance, there are initial side effects that could materialize, such as keto flu, which includes symptoms like nausea, sleep problems, increased hunger, and even digestive discomfort. This is actually normal as your body gets used to the dietary change and will typically subside after a few days.

Something else to keep in mind is that the ketogenic diet may alter the balance of water and minerals in your body. In order to counteract this, you should add more salt to your food or use mineral supplements. Your medical professional can provide guidance.

If you’ve ever wanted to know what a ketogenic diet is, the aforementioned will give you a rundown as to what it entails so that you can decide whether or not to give it a try. It has been proven to be effective on many fronts. Just be sure to follow the eating plan and, if you’re unsure, talk to your doctor or a nutrition consultant for guidance on how to proceed.

The opinions shared in this article are those of the contributor and not Total Gym Direct.

The post What is a Ketogenic Diet? appeared first on Total Gym Pulse.

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Build Endurance and Footspeed to Progress Your Game

The French Open tournament just wrapped up and many of you may be watching/ playing tennis on clay during this time of the year. Clay court tennis involves having solid endurance and strong legs in order to meet the physical requirements that frequently occur while playing on this surface. There are different types of clay courts (red and green clay) and both tend to be substantially slower than other surfaces resulting in slower rallies, lengthy points, and longer matches.

While playing tennis on clay one must also be prepared mentally for the challenges of long point play and feeling positive and strong can go a long way when experiencing a close match on clay. Utilizing the capabilities of the Total Gym to build endurance and progress footwork is a great way to increase strength and stamina needed during a clay court match.

Leg Exercises for Strength and Endurance Squats with Arm Drivers and Variations

Target muscles groups: quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves

  • Disconnect the pulley from the glideboard, push the glideboard halfway up the rails, and slowly straddle the rails while sitting towards the bottom edge facing away from the tower.
  • Place your feet toward the top of the squat stand, positioned shoulder width apart, and slowly lie back ensuring your head is fully supported.
  • Slowly lower the glideboard by bending both knees and hips to around 90 degrees.
  • With a neutral spine continue to bend knees while squatting and drive your arms up and down by sides at the same time. Add some challenge by performing a unilateral squat while lifting only one leg at a time and keeping one foot on the squat stand.
  • Perform two sets of ten to twelve reps with a short break in between.
Plyometric Squats with Variations

Target muscles groups: quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves

  • Disconnect the pulley from the glideboard, push the glideboard halfway up the rails, slowly straddle the rails while sitting towards the bottom edge facing away from the tower.
  • Place your feet toward the top of the squat stand, positioned shoulder width apart, and slowly lie back ensuring your head is fully supported.
  • Slowly lower the glideboard by bending both knees and hips to around 90 degrees.
  • Begin with the right foot slightly positioned higher than the left on the squat stand. Rapidly press the feet with force into the squat stand to accelerate up the rails in a jumping manner while moving arms by sides. This should feel as if you are jogging in place while lying on the glideboard.
  • Add some variation by taking the stance out wide then bring the feet back to the middle.
  • Perform two sets of ten to twelve reps with a short break in between.
Heel Raises with Variations

Target muscles group: Gastrocnemius

  • Disconnect the pulley from the glideboard, push the glideboard halfway up the rails, slowly straddle the rails while sitting towards the bottom edge facing away from the tower.
  • Place the balls of feet towards bottom of squat stand with heels suspended under bottom edge.
  • Slowly lie back, ensuring head is fully supported on the glideboard.
  • Lower heels below squat stand until mild stretch is felt in the lower leg muscles. Press balls of feet into the squat stand, raising heels as high as possible.
  • Pause at top of movement before returning to the stretch position.
  • Add variation by pointing the toes in and then point the toes out. Increase challenge by performing a unilateral heel raise while lifting only one heel at a time and keeping one foot on the squat stand.
  • Perform two sets of ten to twelve reps with a short break in between.
Lunge Facing Lateral

Target muscles group: Quadriceps, Glutes, Hamstrings, Hip Adductors

  • With the squat stand removed stand behind the lower rail base, facing away from the tower. Place the foot that is closest to lower rail base on bottom edge of the glideboard.
  • Push the glideboard up the rails while performing a single leg squat with the stationary leg. Once mild stretch is felt in your inner resting leg, bring the glideboard back down rails by pressing active leg into upright position.
  • Keep the grounded hip, knee and foot in good alignment with the positioned over the foot throughout the movement.
  • Maintain a slow temp during the movement. Raise and lower the glideboard in a controlled manner.
  • Use caution throughout the exercise, beginners may need assistance or spotting when first performing the movement.
  • Perform two sets of ten to twelve reps on each leg with a short break in between.

 

Seated Backward for Upper Body Strength Exercises Bicep Curl with Variations

Target muscle groups: biceps, brachialis, brachioradialis

  • With the cable pulley attached grab handles to bring the glideboard halfway up the rails.
  • Straddle the rails and sit towards the top edge of the glideboard, facing the tower.
  • With tension in the cables, extend arms directly toward the pulleys and lift feet off the floor.
  • With tension in cables, extend arms directly toward pulleys with palms facing up. Lift feet from floor.
  • To add challenge transition to a kneeling position and perform the same exercise.
  • For variation try the static equilibrium movement by curling the handles up towards shoulders, keeping elbows stationary. Maintain stable trunk as hands return with control back to the starting position.
  • Perform two sets of ten to twelve reps for each exercise with a short break in between.
Tricep Kickback

Target muscle groups: triceps, rear deltoids

  • With the cable pulley attached grab handles to bring the glideboard halfway up the rails.
  • Straddle the rails and sit towards the top edge of the glideboard, facing the tower.
  • With tension in cables, left feet off the floor, pull elbows into sides of torso and slightly hinge forward at the hips.
  • Keeping elbows stationary, press handles down until arms are fully extended next to thighs.
  • Maintain elbow and spine position as hands return with control back to starting position.
  • Perform two sets of ten to twelve reps for each exercise with a short break in between.
Chest Press with Variations

Target muscle groups: pectoral group, triceps, deltoids (anterior)

  • With the cable pulley attached grab handles to bring the glideboard halfway up the rails.
  • Straddle the rails and sit towards the top edge of the glideboard, away from the tower.
  • Position handles next to rib cage with cables on the inside of the forearm.
  • With tension in cables, position legs on glideboard with knees slightly bent. Bring handles and elbows up to chest height with palms facing down.
  • From an upright seated position, press handles forward at chest height.
  • Maintain stable trunk as hands return with control back to starting position.
  • Add variation in challenge by performing a unilateral, incline, and decline chest press.
  • Perform two sets of ten to twelve reps for each exercise with a short break in between.

After playing tennis on clay with potentially a number of long points, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to stretch after a match. After discussing the physical fitness that clay court tennis involves, staying fit and flexible are two important elements for the long run. The recommended Total Gym exercises for clay court tennis can assist in keeping the body strong, healthy, and prepared for long matches on the court. Stay hydrated, wear proper clothing/shoes, and go out and have some fun on the clay.

Keep moving,

Cara

The post Total Gym Exercises for Clay Court Tennis appeared first on Total Gym Pulse.

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Very often, when you go on a diet, the most commonly used tool to help you stay on track is the scale. Weighing yourself often can be a helpful indicator of success, but it also helps if you understand what occurs to your weight over the course of the day or week. The truth of the matter about your weight is that it can fluctuate two to four pounds over the course of one 24-hour period.

Since your body contains more than 70% water, your weight can vary significantly with only a change in your water intake. Have you ever weighed yourself right after your aerobics class or before you were able to rehydrate after your workout? You may have lost a few pounds just in the sweat you lost during your exercise session. Or have you ever noticed how much weight you can gain from just eating a salty meal the night before and getting bloated from water retention the next morning? The truth about your weight is that it can vary a lot just by what you eat and drink, as well as your activity during your day.

So, if you are serious about your diet, and are using your scale to help you monitor your progress, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Buy a Good Quality Scale

Try to find one that has a good reputation for being accurate. You might even want to consider obtaining a scale that weighs your body, your water content and your body composition. These scales can be a bit more expensive, but they can give you a much more accurate picture of whether the pounds you seem to have lost overnight are truly from losing fat as opposed to water weight.

Weigh Yourself in the Morning

The best time to weigh yourself is usually in the morning on an empty stomach as your body is in a stable state, since typically you haven’t had anything to eat or drink for several hours. Keep in mind what you may have done to your body the day before, as this may impact the number you see on the scale.

Did you eat more salt or more starch the day prior? Did you exercise less? Did you have an excessive amount of alcohol the night before which can be lead to dehydration?

The number on the scale may vary greatly from day to day. The real key to sustainable weight loss is to weigh yourself at the same time every day, and gauge your success on a weekly average. If over the course a few weeks, you see your average weight slowly decline, chances are you are making legitimate progress with your weight loss efforts.

So, when it comes to tracking your dieting progress, use your morning weight as your guide. Before you know it, the numbers will start to drop and your body will thank you!

Elizabeth Salada MD, MPH

Internal Medicine and Wellness

The opinions shared in this article are those of the contributor and not Total Gym Direct.

The post Why Do We Weigh Less in the Morning? appeared first on Total Gym Pulse.

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There are a lot of healthy food blogs out there touting specialized or expensive food products to help you stay healthy and fit. You don’t need to purchase anything special for good health however. Just eating a variety of nutritious food from each food group can provide your body what it needs to build and maintain lean muscles and stay healthy. What you do need is balance and variety.

For instance, it doesn’t matter if you consume that “super food” or “super juice” daily if you forget to drink your milk or eat foods that provide calcium, because your bone health will suffer even if your mind is staying sharp.

The focus of this post is to help you choose cheap healthy food to keep your body looking and feeling its best. So here are my top 5 healthy foods to stock your kitchen with:

1. Milk or Milk Substitutes

I know it’s hard to believe, but plain old milk is very nutritious. Milk provides calcium and protein – both of which are important for keeping your bones and muscles strong. It is also fortified with vitamin D, which helps you absorb calcium, plays a role in muscle strength, and even helps keeps your immune system strong.

Most people need 3 cups per day. If you can’t drink milk, it’s important to get calcium from other sources such as a calcium-fortified milk substitute, like almond or soy milk. Even foods like cheese or yogurt, which are lower in lactose than milk can often be tolerated when milk isn’t. If your milk substitute doesn’t contain vitamin D, it’s probably best to take a supplement containing 800-1000 IU per day.

2. Fruits Such as Apples, Oranges and Bananas

You can eat more exotic fruit if you choose, but simple cheap everyday fruits do the trick too. Most people need about a cup a day of fruit or 100% fruit juice, or ½ cup of dried fruit.

Fruit provides vitamin C, important for your immune system and healthy skin. Fruits like bananas and oranges are also rich in potassium, a mineral that’s important for muscles, the heart and the nervous system.

3. Dark Leafy Green Vegetables

Romaine lettuce and spinach are rich in folate, the natural form of folic acid. Folate plays a big role in heart health throughout life, and helps prevent neural tube defects and cleft palate in babies; so pregnant women should be especially diligent about eating these nutrient power-houses regularly.

But it’s not just dark leafy green vegetables that you need to stock up on – all vegetables play a big role in health and fitness. Most adults need to consume 2½ cups of raw or cooked vegetables per day and should choose a variety of colors. Remember that a cup of green leafy vegetables only counts as a ½-cup towards your daily goal, due to the volume of air when measuring.

4. 100% Whole-Wheat Bread

As long as you don’t have Celiac disease or any wheat allergies, you should eat 100% whole grain wheat bread. Although slightly higher priced than processed white bread, it’s well worth the money.

Manufacturers do fortify refined flours with a few of the nutrients found in whole grain wheat, but it’s like giving the manufacturer $20 worth of nutrients and getting back $1 in nutrients. Whole grain bread, as well as other 100% whole grains like brown rice, are rich in B vitamins and insoluble fiber, which acts as a like a broom going down your digestive track cleaning out the yuck.

Don’t just buy brown bread that says wheat bread, which is just a marketing ploy trying to sell you processed and refined bread with a little brown coloring added; instead, turn the loaf over and read the label. The first ingredient listed should say 100% whole wheat. Most people need 6 servings per day of whole grains.

5. Red Meat

Animal products such as meat, eggs and milk provide the most biologically available protein for your body. Protein helps you build muscles, which in turn burn more calories, keeping you not only stronger but leaner as well.

Red meat such as beef provides the most absorbable form of iron, which helps your blood carry oxygen throughout your body, giving you energy. If you’ve ever had iron-deficiency anemia, you know how tired that can make you feel.

Combining red meat with citrus or foods with acidity increases iron absorption – providing another argument for the importance of eating a balanced diet rather than just concentrating on “super foods.” Most people need about 5½ ounces per day of protein.

Remember that eating good nutritious food is where good health starts. Although enjoying some super foods and including a delicious Total Gym FIT BLAST Shake can be a part of a good nutrition, it’s just as important to remember that good health has to start in the kitchen with good healthy food choices that feed every part of your body. Protein shakes and FIT BLAST protein are a convenient way to supplement your nutrition and provide a good source of extra protein for building lean muscles, especially when you’re on the run.

For more information on how many servings of each food group you need to eat each day, check out www.choosemyplate.gov. For a free daily checklist, go to www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate-Daily-Checklist.

The opinions shared in this article are those of the contributor and not Total Gym Direct.

The post 5 Healthy Foods You Should Have in Your Kitchen at All Times appeared first on Total Gym Pulse.

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Proper Breathing While Exercising - YouTube

There are many things about our body that we take for granted because we don’t have to think about them – it comes naturally. One of those things is breathing. Unless you are a professional athlete or frequent classes like Pilates, Yoga or dance, you aren’t taught how to breathe properly for maximum performance. This means your breathing is likely shallow, meaning you are breathing up high from your chest, not low and wide from deep in your lungs. Joseph Pilates once said ”Squeeze out the lungs as you would wring out a wet towel dry.”

Now before we get into some techniques of breathing, here is some little important information about the mechanics of our breathing.

Some Facts About Your Body

Your torso can be divided into two sections – the thoracic cavity (or chest cavity), and abdominal cavity. The thoracic cavity is essentially the “chamber” of the body, and contains the rib cage. Your abdominal cavity is where many of your organs are contained, such as the stomach, kidneys, small intestines, and more.

Every single time you inhale and take in oxygen, your thoracic cavity actually expands, and then contracts when you breathe out. Why is this important? Well, ideally you want make sure you’re letting out as much air as possible when you breathe out, and taking in as much air as possible when you’re breathing in. This way, fresh air enters your lungs, rather than the residual air in the lungs that are higher in carbon dioxide and other elements, and are not as “fresh” as the air you are taking in.

Running

For those beginner runners out there, breathing can be something you struggle with, and it can be a large road block to go further. The best advice, and this comes from all the runners I have talked to, is to breathe both from your nose and mouth. Two to three deep breaths for every foot strike, and follow the same for exhaling. I remember when I was playing soccer in high school and as our warm up the coach would make us run the field and sing or talk to each other. This taught us to not lose our breath or get ahead of ourselves. If we could not control our breathing, we needed to slow down to run at a pace our lungs and heart could handle. This was a great way to teach us how to progressively get faster and stronger.

Yoga

In yoga, breathing is one of the most fundamental skills used, and in some classes you don’t even get to move to the physical part of yoga until you can grasp the concept or show that you can properly apply your breath with movement. Yoga is an “in-the-nose out-the-nose” breathing technique that resonates from deep in the back of the throat in a space between the vocal cords. This is known as the “ujjayi” or “victorious breath.”

In a book by Lesli Kaminoff, Yoga Anatomy, she explains that the pathways must be clear of obstructing forces in order for prana and apana to have a healthy relationship. In yogic language, this translates as “good space,” whereas dukkha refers to “bad space,” which is commonly translated as suffering. The basic idea is that when you make more “good space,” your pranic forces will flow freely and restore normal function. That’s also why it’s commonly said that yoga is 90% about waste and removal. If you take care of the exhalation the inhalation takes care of itself. Wow, did you ever imagine that yoga would teach you all that?

Pilates

Now, because I am a Pilates teacher and I believe and love the breathing techniques taught in Pilates, I find myself doing this method in everything I do. No matter if I am lifting weights, running, doing yoga or dancing, I have found that when I train my lungs to be strong by breathing wide and deep by opening my ribcage, not quick and shallow, my endurance for the movement I am doing is longer and my recovery is much faster.

If you don’t already know, Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates who suffered from severe asthma as a child. Thus, he went out to teach himself boxing, diving and gymnastics. During this time, he thought to himself, if he could discipline his body to do these activities why not learn the discipline of correct breathing. Joseph Pilates said that the secret to correct breathing lies in the diaphragm.

In the book by Collen Craig, Pilates on the Ball: The World’s Most Popular Workout Using the Exercise Ball, she says the Pilates breathing pattern is a therapy in themselves. We attempt to slow down rate of breath, increase the depth of respiration and link the breath to the movement. “The ribcage is not fixed but is instead a very mobile interplay of living malleable tissue,” according to Frank Back, from a conscious movement workshop.

Most people like to exhale on the exertion while contracting your abdominals, or you can switch it around by inhaling on your exertion. The latter technique can help you be strong in a weak situation. But what if one day we need to inhale and exhale during exertion, but never trained your breathing to be strong? This is what Pilates teaches. The more you work on your breathing, the longer you’ll be able to inhale and exhale, so that you are not just doing one breath for every movement, but one breath for every two to three movements!

Yikes, you are probably dizzy from all of this breathing! Don’t worry, in time that goes away. Keep training, keep breathing, and keep pushing on. Your life depends on it!

The opinions shared in this article are those of the contributor and not Total Gym Direct.

The post How to Breathe Properly While Exercising appeared first on Total Gym Pulse.

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