• Losing weight after pregnancy

    Losing weight after pregnancy may prove difficult. Even though it‘s perfectly normal to put on some weight after pregnancy, many women worry about shedding those unwanted pounds. To do so requires considering some important things first.

    You may have been expecting to lose a great deal of weight after the pregnancy and felt utterly let-down when you stepped on to the scales. It isn’t all doom and gloom though; if you haven’t lost a lot of weight since the birth, it’s possibly due to fluid retention. This can be reduced by improving fluid intake and exercising more.

    So how do you lose weight after pregnancy? Here are some simple, effective measures you can introduce:

    • Try to avoid fast-foods and take-outs. It may be difficult to resist temptation but it is one of the biggest culprits for weight gain. If you do go for it, order a healthier option like salad instead of fries
    • Consume lean meats- boneless chicken, leanest cuts of beef etc.
    • When you feel up to it, start exercising. Nothing too strenuous of course; start with taking your baby for a gentle stroll, and slowly increase your walking-time by building it up.
    • Breastfeeding is an excellent way to burn calories! It uses up your fat stores, burning around 500-550 calories a day, so the more you feed the baby, the more calories you’re burning.
    • Drink at least 10 glasses of water everyday, the equivalent of about 1.8 liters of water. This will expel extra body weight from fluid retention and give you radiant skin, as well as keeping you refreshed and energized.
    • Eat healthy snacks regularly like fruit, rice cakes and nuts. They will keep you satisfied and are a healthy option between meals.

    Bear in mind when losing weight after pregnancy that it took you 9 months to gain the weight and it’s not going to be an overnight process losing it. Better to take a slow, steady route and achieve long-term results rather than ‘yo-yo dieting’ which will consequently lead to more weight gain.

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    Fat Loss Tips for Women

    Women are more likely to carry extra weight around their middle than men – it’s a fact. This is because women have to sustain pregnancies and the additional fat is needed to protect a growing baby. But, losing weight need not be hard. Here are some of the best fat loss tips for women:

    • ditch your carbs. Cut down on bread, sugar, white flour, pasta, rice, potatoes
    • decrease the amount of starchy carbs such as rice and bananas
    • increase the amount of water you drink – aim for 2 litres daily
    • ensure you eat at least one carb free meal a day
    • decrease the amount of fat in your diet – in processed food, look for food with less than 3g of fat per 100g (3% fat)
    • increase the amount of fresh fruit and veg and use these in your cooking creatively
    • stick to fat free cooking methods such as boiling, steaming, roasting and grilling
    • if you have to use fat, use an oil spray such as fry light
    • stick to whole wheat and wholegrain carbs and small portions. Eat one wholemeal bread slice instead of two slices of white bread and use low fat spread instead of butter
    • aim for at least 20 minutes of cardio three times a week – try power walking or swimming
    • do at least 3 weight training sessions weekly using 2-5 lb weights only
    • walk more and use the car less
    • take the stairs!
    • drink green tea  instead of your normal tea or coffee to help burn fat

    The above fat loss tips for women should prove to be quite simple – and they are easy to implement. A proper diet and fitness plan will have you well on your way to looking gorgeous in record time.

    You do have to be dedicated and work at it though, and the occasional slip up will not wreck your efforts. Think of it like this, as long as you work at it 80% of the time, you can afford to have the odd day off.

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    Burning fat can be a daunting task, especially if you’ve got a lot to lose. Certain ‘fat burning foods’ will help your weight loss, along with regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle. There are specific foods you can eat to boost your metabolism in the long-run.

    Eating these ‘fat burning’ foods will give you that much needed boost and help you keep it off. It’s easy to incorporate the foods in a day-to-day menu.

    It is important to remember that these foods must be consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet if you want to see results.

    • One great booster for your diet is apples. Eating one of these fruits a day, it has been proven, gives you a 33% increase in weight loss due to the high level of pectin they contain.
    • Fat burning food number two is spinach. The amount of iron in this vegetable makes it an ideal contender for the list of metabolism-boosters, as well as being extremely nutritious and strengthening your immune system.
    • Garlic, believe it or not, is a great for keeping cholesterol levels low and controlling unhealthy fats in the body. This is because it contains allicin, an anti-bacterial compound.
    • Eggs contain lots of protein, and when eaten in moderation (up to an egg a day is fine), the B12 vitamin they contain aid the body in breaking up fat-cells.
    • Finally, aim to incorporate olive-oil into your diet. It contains that “good-fatâ€� that everyone talks about, and is proven to have outstanding health-benefits such as lowering your cholesterol as well as lowering your incidence of heart disease.

    These are just a few examples of what good food can do for you. To maximize results replace caffeine riddled drinks like tea and coffee with a healthier alternative. Green tea helps boost your metabolism as well as being a natural anti-oxidant. And for the ladies, it is a great cellulite-minimizing tool.

    Along with this, exercise regularly and reduce the amount of sugary and carbohydrate snacks you intake on a daily basis; replacing that cream cake for a fruit salad may just be the answer to your problems!

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    Review: Billy Blanks Tae Bo

    Billy released his studio workouts based on the practice of Tae Bo, he created a sensation. Billy Blanks is a martial arts genius and trains the likes of Liam Neeson and Carmen Electra. With a form of martial arts which uses Taekwondo and boxing moves, hence the name Tae Bo.

    The Tae Bo workouts are available on DVD from Amazon and all good DVD retailers. The workouts themselves are cardio intensive and really work your whole body by a series of explosive movements which get your heart rate up quickly and burn lots of calories.

    The Tae Bo workouts come in different program lengths and for those who are pressed for time, there is an 8 minute workout. Now, I know what you are thinking, 8 minutes to a great workout? Most people would be highly skeptical of these claims, but the workout delivers from start to finish and turns you into a sweaty, jelly-legged mess at the end of it!

    A word of warning though for the short workout – you should take your time to really warm up and stretch your muscles before attempting the workout. Don’t be fooled by the time length – if you are tight on time, bear in mind you will definitely need a shower afterwards.

    Billy is highly motivational throughout all of his videos and does a series of high energy moves repeatedly. There are no difficult choreographed moves to learn at all, but the nature of the exercises mean that your muscles are aching and sore the next day. You feel energized and great after a Tae Bo workout, and perhaps best of all, it makes you feel as if you are literally melting away the pounds.

    The ab workout is the hardest workout I have personally ever come across. Using a combination of kickboxing and standing moves right through to traditional floor work, your muscles will quiver and shake and will feel positively on fire while you do them. A beginner would struggle to get through the workout without needing to take a break.

    Tae Bo is an exciting workout which delivers fat-busting results. Doing the videos three times a week and eating healthy would no doubt make a dramatic difference to how you look and feel.

    Billy Blanks Tae Bo Workouts

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    Review: Winsor Pilates DVDs

    Mari Windsor is a highly respected Pilates instructor who is based in Hollywood and trains A list celebrities in her private studio. She has released several DVDs, but this review focuses on her original Windsor Pilates box set which includes the 20 minute workout, basic workout and the Accelerated workout.

    The basics workout is a no-nonsense beginner’s workout aimed at teaching correct breathing and spinal alignment through Mari’s intensive instruction and focuses on core moves which benefit overall body strength and flexibility. The workout uses arrows as a guide and shows you in detail how to perform the exercises correctly. Mari’s instructions are clear and concise and you have no need to worry about whether you are performing the exercises correctly.

    The main aim of the beginner’s workout is to teach you how to perform the exercises correctly. The next workout is the 20 minute workout and as far as workouts go – it is fantastic. The workouts build on what you have learnt from the basics video and this time Mari picks up the pace, with exercises being performed in a sequence to work your core muscles, your lower body and to increase the flexibility in your whole body.

    The 20 minute video is recommended to be completed three times a week, and after two weeks of doing these moves, I lost nearly 2 inches from my waist without changing my diet. I also added in the Accelerated DVD twice a week. This workout is tougher and some of the exercises were very challenging. However, results are achieved quicker and you really feel it the next day.

    Unlike some workouts which leave your muscles feeling tight and uncomfortable, Mari Windsor’s workouts leave your feeling taller, looser and stronger. Her instruction is excellent and she even has a modifier in each workout for those who are unable to complete the more advanced version.

    Mari is a pleasure to workout with and you feel as if she is in your living room guiding you all the way. The DVDs are better than expected and results even better – a tighter, more toned body and a flatter stomach. An overall exceptional workout which would be suitable for all levels of fitness.

    Winsor Pilates DVDs

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    Review: Claudia Schiffer Perfectly Fit Lower Body Video

    There is a reason why I keep my VHS player – and that is to play the ‘Perfectly Fit’ upper and lower body videos by Claudia Schiffer. These videos have not been released on DVD and it is a real shame because they would certainly get more people ‘Perfectly Fit’ if they were.

    I bought these videos because Claudia is gorgeous and the video is shot in some beautiful locations. Watching Claudia really inspires you to want to workout – and she looks amazing. It is no surprise then that with legs as gorgeous as hers, her workout was never going to be a walk in the park.

    The lower body workout works the legs, hips, buttocks and calves as well as the inner and outer thighs. The focus on this video is a general butt workout and a general leg workout and are in my opinion, highly effective at working the entire muscles. The moves themselves are not difficult and rely on using the body’s own weight as resistance to perform exercises such as lunges and squats and variations on them.

    Working through this video was a killer and the pain in my legs and buttocks lasted an entire week! I literally woke up in the morning unable to move my legs properly and it hurt to sit down and stand up because my butt muscles were so sore. It took nearly a month for me to build up to completing the workout twice a week, and each time my muscles really felt like they had been put through their paces.

    My overall leg strength improved as did my stamina, and after a month of working out, I had a curve in the back of my leg and my quads were so much more toned. My butt lifted by a few inches and tightened up all over. After 3 months of regular workouts, I could still only manage to complete it twice a week.

    Claudia Schiffer Perfectly Fit Lower Body Videos

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    Water as a Weight Loss Aid?

    We all know the health benefits of drinking water – it keeps you hydrated and flushes your body of toxins, keeping your kidneys functioning at their optimum best. But, did you know that water can also be used as a weight loss aid?

    Water plays a vital role in our daily lives. A human being can survive for weeks without food – but without water, you would die within 72 hours. Apart from the hydration benefits, water is necessary to help your brain function at its best – dehydration is a prime cause of an inability to focus or concentrate on the tasks ahead.

    Health benefits aside, studies have found that water clears your skin and is ideal for those who suffer from breakouts and congested skin, as the water literally purges the skin of toxins which can contribute to spots. But, perhaps the one thing that people miss is the fact that water is an excellent weight-loss aid.

    Water has zero calories, so no matter how much you consume, you will never put on weight with it. In fact, for people who suffer from water retention, drinking lots of water has the added benefit of flushing the excess fluid from the body – this can literally melt pounds of water weight from your body almost overnight.

    Water drunk at room temperature is best for the body, but if you want to force your body to burn calories, opt for iced water or water as cold as you can stand it. The average person burns around 100 calories for every glass of water that you drink. That’s because the body requires energy to heat the water to body temperature for the purpose of digestion and metabolism.

    Imagine if you drank 8 large glasses of iced water daily – you could potentially burn anything up to 800 calories daily just from this simple trick alone. Apart from the calorie burning potential of water, drinking a glass of water between meals and just before a meal has the bonus of filling you up so that you will naturally eat less. Although water does not burn fat, it is a great free and easy weight loss aid.

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    Six ways to a healthy diet

    The body has six basic dietary needs that are all essential for good health. A healthy diet needs to have a good supply of protein, good fat, carbohydrates, water, vitamins and minerals.

    1. Protein

    It is important to have a healthy balance between plant and animal protein as too much animal protein is not good for the heart, muscles and bones. Believe it or not plant proteins are actually the best sources of essential amino acids, although fish, chicken, and beef are also good sources of protein.

    2. Fat

    It is widely believed that fat is the worst food type known the man – yet your body needs fat! It is essential to realise that there are good fats and bad fats. Fat provides a concentrated source of energy and helps with the absorption of vitamins as well as helping to maintain healthy skin. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are present in avocadoes, olive/hemp/flaxseed oil, oily fish (such as mackerel, and pilchards) live yogurt and various seeds.

    3. Carbohydrate

    Despite the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets, the fact is carbohydrates are a necessary fuel for the body. Avoid refined carbohydrates such as white pasta, white bread, white rice, and even white potatoes. Stick to wholemeal pasta and bread, brown or red rice, and sweet potatoes. Whole fruits and vegetables are also a good source.

    4. Water

    We all know we need to drink a lot of water, and the human body is more than 60% water. Refined foods, and excessive alcohol and salt consumption mean we all tend to be dehydrated, which can lead to cell damage. Put simply: you know it’s good for you so drink the stuff.

    5. Vitamins

    If you eat a healthy diet you will never be short of all the vitamins necessary for a healthy body. However it is important to know that synthetic vitamins should not be a replacement for naturally sourced vitamins.

    6. Minerals

    Minerals, like vitamins, are essential for the smooth running of our bodies. But unlike vitamins, none can be manufactured by the body, so we need to get an adequate supply through organic fruits and vegetables.

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    Diet for Life

    The one thing you need to remember when embarking on the latest health and fitness regime: diet for life and not just for Christmas! By ‘diet’ we mean the food you consume on a daily basis, and all the habits associated with eating; not the latest ‘fad diets’ that involve constant calorie counting and obsessing over food types.

    When aiming to ‘diet for life’ it is important to be aware of the different food groups and sources of energy.

    Dairy products are a good source of energy, but we tend to eat too much of these nowadays, which explains why so many of us are overweight. Why? Because fat produces fat. You should cut down on fat but do not cut it out completely.

    Saturated fats – come from mainly animal products such as cheese, butter, and meat and increase cholesterol levels.

    Polyunsaturated fats – are found in vegetable oils such as sunflower seed, safflower and soya bean oils, as well as in oily fish and some nuts. These are ‘good fats’ and help to lower your cholesterol.

    Monounsaturated fats – are found in olive and rapeseed oils and are also beneficial for good cholesterol levels.

    It is a known fact that we eat far too much sugar in the western world, and white refined sugar is without doubt more dangerous to our health than any other food product. This includes all refined carbohydrates like white bread, white pasta and flour, as once they are eaten they are quickly converted into glucose, raising insulin levels dramatically. In the US the incidence of diabetes has increased proportionally with the consumption of sugar. Stick to wholemeal breads, pastas and flours and avoid eating the ‘empty calories’ of refined sugar.

    All processed and refined foods contain salt, so it can be hard to avoid if you prefer to buy ready meals. However salt can be avoided by preparing foods yourself as much as possible with fresh fruits, vegetables and pulses.

    A simple, balanced approach, combined with a sensible fitness regime is all you need to help maintain a good diet for life.

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    Black Rice Beats Berries for Antioxidant Power

    Blueberries and blackberries are renowned for their high levels of healthful antioxidants, which exert beneficial influences over human genes related to inflammation, cancer, brain health, and more.

    But Louisiana State University (LSU) researchers report that, ounce for ounce, black rice contains even more of the health-promoting antioxidants found in these berries.

    Black rice also has less sugar and more fiber and vitamin E-class antioxidants. And the new findings apply generally to similar strains called ‘purple rice’.

    According to Professor Zhimin Xu of LSU, “Black rice would be a unique and economical material to increase consumption of health promoting antioxidants.� Colleagues analyzed samples of bran from black rice grown commercially in the southern United States. Black rice, which is an available but uncommon “heritage� variety of the grain, was once called “Forbidden Rice� in ancient China, allegedly because nobles grabbed every grain for themselves … and forbade commoners from eating it.

    Black rice is now used mainly in Asia for food decoration, noodles, sushi, and pudding. It is very similar to so-called purple rice. Black and purple rice beat brown for antioxidant power.

    Like grapes and berries, “black rice� is rich in anthocyanins … a group of phenolic antioxidants that show promise for boosting brain health and deterring heart disease, cancer, and more.

    Brown rice is the most widely produced rice variety worldwide. Rice millers remove only the outer husks, or “chaff,� from each rice grain to produce brown rice. If they process the rice further, removing the underlying nutrient rich bran, it becomes white rice.

    Brown rice is more nutritious than white rice because the bran of brown rice contains higher level of gamma-tocotrienol, a key vitamin E compound lacking from most vitamin supplements, plus beneficial, lipid-soluble gamma-oryzanol antioxidants.

    Studies show that these particular antioxidants can reduce blood levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) — so-called “bad� cholesterol — and may help fight heart disease.

    But in addition to the antioxidants in brown rice, black/purple rice offer high levels of the water-soluble anthocyanin-type antioxidants abundant in berries, making these dark-hued strains even healthier.

    The LSU scientists also showed that pigments in black rice bran extracts can produce a variety of different colors, ranging from pink to black, and may provide a healthier alternative to artificial food colorants that manufacturers now add to some foods and beverages. Recent animal and cell studies show that black rice antioxidants may inhibit skin inflammation and curb growth of colon cancer (Jing P et al. 2008; Choi SP et al. 2010).

    Food manufacturers could potentially use black rice bran or the bran extracts to boost the health value of breakfast cereals, beverages, cakes, cookies, and other foods, Dr. Xu and his colleagues suggested.

    Dr. Xu said that he would like to see people in this country embrace its use … and I agree, wholeheartedly.

    American Chemical Society (ACS). Black rice rivals pricey blueberries as source of healthful antioxidants.August 26, 2010. Accessed athttp://portal.acs.org
    Jing P, Bomser JA, Schwartz SJ, He J, Magnuson BA, Giusti MM.Structure−Function Relationships of Anthocyanins from Various Anthocyanin-Rich Extracts on the Inhibition of Colon Cancer Cell Growth. J. Agric. Food Chem., 2008, 56 (20), pp 9391–9398
    DOI: 10.1021/jf8005917
    Choi SP, Kim SP, Kang MY, Nam SH, Friedman M. Protective Effects of Black Rice Bran against Chemically-Induced Inflammation of Mouse Skin. J. Agric. Food Chem., Article ASAP. Publication Date (Web): August 23, 2010 (Article) DOI: 10.1021/jf102224b


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    Review: Claudia Schiffer Perfectly Fit Upper Body Workout

    Twin sister to the lower body workout, Claudia Schiffer’s ‘Perfectly Fit’ upper body workout which is only available on VHS is a fantastic workout and is the number one reason why my VHS player has not been scrapped.

    The upper body workout works the core muscles of the abs and back as well as the arms and shoulders. The actual workout is split into core work and arms/shoulder moves. Claudia looks stunning and we get to see a lot of her amazing abs and arms throughout the video. This really helps to motivate and inspire you to work that bit harder.

    The core work focuses on traditional crunches for the upper abs, lower abs and the obliques. There are crunches and lots of them! My muscles ached and felt sore for days afterwards, but a month in and there was an overall improvement in my muscle tone and I even my lower belly or pooch as I call it started to iron out!

    It would have been nice to see a variation in the types of exercises being performed such as Pilates and yoga moves, but that said, the crunches really did work my muscles hard. The upper body exercises working the arms, shoulders , back and chest really make your muscles sore to the point that they are shaking!

    Using weights, Claudia and personal trainer to the stars Kathy Kaehler sculpt your muscles to within an inch of their life using a combination of weights and resistance work including tricep dips and press ups. The moves are very traditional with nothing fancy or new age – this is a classic and unadulterated workout that really delivers.

    I started this workout twice a week and by week 5 I was doing this three times a week. The video itself is shot in some beautiful locations and Ms Schiffer looks fantastically lean and limber throughout the video. What was also really neat about this video is that Kathy hones in on an exercise and gives you tips to maintain correct form and posture.

    Overall, this was a no nonsense workout which delivered results and was more importantly was motivating and inspiring to use.

    Claudia Schiffer Perfectly Fit Upper Body Workouts

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    Tips for Low Fat Cooking

    Low fat cooking does not have to be bland and boring like many people seem to think it is. Just because a food is deemed low in fat does not mean that it is low in flavor. There are many ways to spice up your cooking and get it tasting great. Just follow the tips for low fat cooking below and never eat a boring meal again!

    Use spices to their full effect. This seems logical and simple, but without a good balance of herbs and spices, it is difficult to jazz up even the simplest dish. Tarragon is an excellent accompaniment to chicken and fish, while lamb has a natural affinity to thyme, mint and rosemary.

    To get the most from these flavors, marinade your chosen food with olive oil, salt, pepper, herbs and garlic. Using something acidic such as lemon will tenderize the meat and make it moist. Let the flavors sit for an hour or so and then grill, BBQ or roast for the best flavor – no need for additional fat. You can also steam food using a simple marinade – the best tip for low fat cooking here is to rub the food rather than soak it in oil.

    Another excellent way to jazz up food without fat is to BBQ vegetables and anything else for an intense smoky hit. Get the most from the flavors by ditching the creamy dressings for salsa and fat free dips. These provide moisture and flavor, but without the calories or fat.

    Rice is made extra tasty by dropping in a stock cube into the water before adding the rice. Be careful with the salt though, as stock cubes tend to have a high salt content. You can also use stock for cooking pasta and couscous for a subtle but yummy flavor and by adding a tiny drop of olive oil, you will prevent the grains from sticking together.

    Tips for low fat puddings and brownie points all round: nothing beats stewed fruit sweetened with sweetener and served with fat free Greek yogurt or low fat custard/ice cream. Not only is the fruit healthy for you, but it’s fat free and delicious.

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    Does Weight Loss Tea Work?

    Weight loss products come in many different types, from tablets and powders to patches and more recently, weight loss tea. But do weight loss teas really work, or are they just another fad?

    There are lots of different types of weight loss tea and we shall look at these in a moment. But firstly, are these teas of any benefit at all? Overall, tea is something that is natural and easy to ingest. Plus it adds towards the daily water intake you should be having. There is nothing quite like a cup of tea when you are feeling stressed. Which one you choose is entirely up to you.

    Green Tea: This is by far the most popular weight loss tea because it is the most well known and its benefits are well documented. Green tea is a natural anti-oxidant and studies have found that it boosts your metabolism by as much as 30% and accelerates fat mobilization to help you shift pounds. Drink about 3-5 cups a day.

    Wu Long Tea: Wu long is rapidly climbing the ladder for the most popular weight loss tea because it accelerates fat burning very efficiently. Over 37 independent studies have found that wu long tea has unmatched weight loss abilities and that it boosts energy and clarifies skin to boot. Definitely one to have in your weight loss arsenal.

    Pu-erh Tea: Although not as well known as the other weight loss teas, pu-erh has been shown to increase fat metabolism and decrease cholesterol, so is ideal for those who are health conscious and suffer from high cholesterol. Taken with each meal, pu-erh reduces appetite and stimulates weight loss. An excellent tea for general weight management.

    Baozhong Tea: This tea is similar in benefits to green tea and has a milder flavor, so is ideal for those who dislike the flavor of green tea.
    Fennel Tea: Herbal teas such as fennel are ideal as a weight loss tea because they behave like a natural appetite suppressant and so are perfect for those who have a tendency to eat too much.

    As you can see, there are many weight loss teas on the market that can help you achieve your weight loss goals and are certainly worth a try.

    Wu-Yi Tea Products

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    Reader Review of: ’10 Minute Solutions Carb and Calorie Burner DVD’ by Arfa Iqbal

    Rarely does a workout DVD deliver so much in so little time. The ’10 Minute Solutions’ DVDs are new and fantastic – and especially geared towards people who are tight on time. The DVDs are available from Amazon and all good DVD retailers and are an excellent addition to any home fitness solution.

    Taught by fitness instructor Michelle Dozois, the Carb and Calorie burner workout is split into five different workouts :

    • Slow and steady burn – an excellent introduction to the workouts and suitable for all levels, this one gets your heart rate up and is fun and easy to do
    • Carb killer – this does exactly what it says on the tin. It takes your workout to the next level using kickboxing moves and is good sweaty fun!
    • Power blast – a more challenging workout using your own body strength and more explosive moves to make your muscles ache
    • Interval burn – a great workout which really challenges you – it switches between faster moves and slower moves to really burn some calories
    • Metabolism booster – an excellent workout using weights and resistance work to work the various muscles in your body and tone them up

    I started with the slow and steady burn and the carb killer – it was so much harder than I thought it would be! As a time pushed mother of two, I really felt the benefits of this workout. After four workouts in the first week focusing on just the first two segments, I decided to alternate with the other sections.

    Make no mistake about it – each segment is 10 minutes of pure workout genius. Michelle is a brilliant instructor and really motivates you without sounding too motherly and annoying. I did these workouts with my toddler playing in the same room – he found it most amusing and even joined in!

    I lost 5lbs in two weeks without even trying. The workouts are easy to follow and easy to stick to, plus the big bonus here is that each segment is only 10 minutes and means that even the most time-pushed person can slot it into their busy lifestyle.

    Check out the ’10 Minute Solution Workouts’

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    New Mechanism for Berries’ Potential Brain Benefits Uncovered

    News Release: Written by Megan Brooks From Medscape Medical News

    August 31, 2010 — US scientists say they have uncovered a new mechanism by which berries may protect the aging brain.

    In cultured mouse hippocampal cells, they found that extracts of blueberries, strawberries, and acai berries induce autophagy, a mechanism by which toxic debris are sequestered in the brain. Studies have shown that this “housekeeping” function in the brain declines considerably with age, which can lead to the buildup of proteins linked to age-related mental decline and memory loss.

    Shibu Poulose, PhD, from the US Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, presented the preliminary findings at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston.

    Dr. Poulose did the research with James Joseph, PhD, who died June 1.

    Berries and Walnuts

    Natural polyphenols in berries and other fruits, vegetables, and nuts are known to enhance brain health via their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. “There are many publications using animal models both from our lab and elsewhere reporting effects of berries and walnuts on memory, motor skills, and other behavior,” Dr. Poulose noted in an email to Medscape Medical News.

    For example, in a prior study, Dr. Poulose and Dr. Joseph showed that aging laboratory rats maintained for 2 months on diets containing 2% high-antioxidant strawberry, blueberry, or blackberry extract showed a reversal of age-related deficits in nerve function and behavior involving learning and memory.

    “We have reported berries and walnuts exert powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on the brain cells as well as regions of the brain in rats,” Dr. Poulose noted.

    The new research suggests that the benefits of berries on the aging brain extend beyond the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects to cellular toxic clearance through induction of autophagy in the brain.

    They found that a blueberry, strawberry, and acai berry extract added to cultured HT22 hippocampal neuronal cells and BV2 microglial cells inhibited mammalian target of rapamycin, a protein that negatively regulates autophagy, and increased levels of proteins that facilitate the autophagic process to clear toxic proteins.

    “Our research suggests that the polyphenolics in berries have a rescuing effect,” Dr. Poulose noted in a written statement from the meeting. “They seem to restore the normal housekeeping function. These findings are the first to show these effects of berries.”

    A New Mechanism

    Reached for outside comment, Joseph A. Vinson, PhD, professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the study, noted that this is “a mechanistic study and it uncovers a new mechanism.”

    The study, he said, provides “a hint as to how berries can be good for you,” but much more study is needed. “It’s possible that this mechanism operates when you consume berries but until such a mechanism is found in vivo, I wouldn’t get too excited,” Dr. Vinson noted in a telephone interview with Medscape Medical News.

    On the other hand, Dr. Vinson added, “I do think that berries have a biological effect.” He cautioned, however, that the concentration used in the study is “incredibly high, so the question is: if the concentration were diluted a lot, would it have an effect?”

    The study was funded in part by the Wild Blueberry Association of North America, US Highbush Blueberry Council, California Strawberry Commission, California Walnut Commission, and American Institute for Biosocial and Medical Research Life Sciences Inc. The study authors and Dr. Vinson have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

    240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society. Presented August 23, 2010

    Acai Berry Choices

    ‘Vital Choice’ Organic Berries

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    Use Water to Maintain Weight Control

    Clinical trial confirms that drinking two glasses before a meal helps people lose pounds! Water can help us lose weight seems shocking in the age of commercial diet plans and weight-loss products.

    Last week, scientists reported results of a three-month clinical trial, whose results confirm that drinking two eight-ounce glasses of water before meals leads to substantial weight loss.

    The weight-loss findings were presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), and the study was funded by The Institute for Public Health and Water Research.

    “We are presenting results of the first randomized controlled intervention trial demonstrating that increased water consumption is an effective weight loss strategy,� said senior author Brenda Davy, Ph.D., of Virginia Tech.

    Dr. Davy went on to say, “…we found that over the course of 12 weeks, dieters who drank water before meals, three times per day, lost about 5 pounds more than dieters who did not increase their water intake.�

    She pointed out that folklore and everyday experience long have suggested that water can help promote weight loss. But there has been surprisingly little scientific information on the topic.

    Dr. Davy cited an earlier study by her group, which showed that middle aged and older people who drank two cups of water right before eating a meal consumed 75 to 90 fewer calories during it (Van Walleghen EL et al. 2007).

    And while her Virginia Tech team detected no calorie intake cuts among young people in that 2007 study, their later study showed that obese people over 60 consumed 13 percent fewer calories during breakfast when they drank water before the morning meal (Davy BM et al. 2008).

    But until now, we’ve lacked “gold-standard� evidence from a randomized, controlled clinical trial that compares weight loss among dieters who drink water before meals with those who do not.

    Increased water consumption may also help people lose weight if they drink it in place of sweetened calorie-containing beverages.

    How much water is enough for health?

    Nobody knows exactly how much water people should drink daily, and a recent study found that the conventional medical advice – to drink eight eight-ounce glasses per day – has no basis in research.

    The U.S. Institute of Medicine says that most healthy people can simply let thirst be their guide. It does not specify exact requirements for water, but set general recommendations for women at about 9 cups of fluids — from all beverages including water — each day, and men at about 13 cups of fluids.

    There is little risk that drinking two cups before each meal will produce any problems. While it is possible to drink too much water and thereby suffer a serious condition known as water intoxication, this is a rare occurrence.

    • American Chemical Society (ACS). Clinical trial confirms effectiveness of simple appetite control method. August 23, 2010. Accessed at http://portal.acs.org/portal/acs/corg/content?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=PP_ARTICLEMAIN&node_id=222&content_id=CNBP_025391
    • Davy BM, Dennis EA, Dengo AL, Wilson KL, Davy KP. Water consumption reduces energy intake at a breakfast meal in obese older adults. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008 Jul;108(7):1236-9.
    • Dennis EA, Dengo AL, Comber DL, Flack KD, Savla J, Davy KP, Davy BM. Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Feb;18(2):300-7. Epub 2009 Aug 6.
    • Van Walleghen EL, Orr JS, Gentile CL, Davy BM. Pre-meal water consumption reduces meal energy intake in older but not younger subjects. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Jan;15(1):93-9.

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    Take Care of Yourself and Family

    This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Hampton Hotels. All opinions are 100% mine.


    It doesn’t take a genius to realize that taking time off with your family is one of the best ways to wind down and take care of yourself and family. While you’re at it you can take care of a few of your friends as well. Hampton Inn is having a promotion right now that you have to know about. They’re having a daily giveaway of a free weekend stay at any of their Hampton Hotels for you and three of your friends or family! But better yet they are giving away an entire hotel for a weekend (100 rooms for 2 nights) as a grand prize! Now that’s very cool!

    Don’t under estimate the benefits to your physical and mental health. Getting together during leisure time with family and friends at a great location in excellent accommodations will relieve stress and wipe out depression (at least for the weekend). Wouldn’t it be great to have an entire hotel to yourself and all of your family and friends for free! WOW! If you won, where would you go? What Hampton Hotel would you stay at? Who would you bring with you?

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    Benefits of Exercise

    Do you feel unfit and unhealthy? If so, why does it seem so hard to squeeze an exercise routine into your day? In today’s lifestyle, everything is geared towards making life as easy as possible. We don’t have to walk up the stairs because there is usually a lift or escalators to carry us, or even walk a lot because most of us have cars, and we don’t even have to spend time scrubbing our clothes as we just need to throw them in the washing machine. However, there are many benefits of exercise which we should not really ignore.

    Fitness is the key to a healthy mind and body. But although we may be more conscious about our diet, regular exercise is still not a regular part of our lives. The following health benefits of doing exercise may inspire you to start your own regime:

    -          Reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke. Inactive people have almost double the risk of dying from heart disease.

    -          Helps to reduce high blood pressure (hypertension)

    -          Can help improve your cholesterol levels. Studies show that being active helps to increase levels of “good” cholesterol in the body.

    -          Helps to promote healthy blood sugar levels. Type-2 diabetes develops in at least one in 10 people.

    -          Reduces the risk of osteoporosis and other joint-related diseases. Try high impact exercise such as running or skipping, or low impact if you already have bone problems.

    -          Helps to beat stress, phobias, panic attacks, pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) and insomnia.

    -          You are less likely to develop cancer if you are physically active. There is clear evidence that exercise protects against colon cancer and against breast cancer in women who have been through the menopause.

    -          Can both help prevent and treat mental illness. An inactive lifestyle for long periods means you are more likely to suffer from clinical depression.

    -          Helps you to lose weight! Probably the most obvious reason for people to start exercising

    To see most of the benefits of exercise, aim for 30 minutes of activity daily.

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    Healthy food choices

    Today’s modern lifestyles are full of nutrient-deficient ‘fast foods’ and ready meals. This can make it very difficult for people to make healthy food choices and to know what foods are good for them or not. It is possible to swap some fat and sugar-rich foods for healthier alternatives for one or more meals during the day. Some alternative foods that you can try are listed below.


    • Never skip breakfast, or just eat fruit
    • If you struggle to eat breakfast, make a banana smoothie or juice a mixture or fruit and vegetables to provide you with the energy and fibre you need at the start of the day.
    • Avoid too much caffeine.
    • Try protein-rich egg omelette stuffed with tuna.

    Dinner Alternatives

    • Lentil, chickpea and red kidney bean soup
    • Chicken or beef stir-fry with rice or buckwheat noodles
    • Grilled chicken breast with vegetables and low-fat yogurt dressing
    • Sardines on wholemeal toast with salad
    • Wholemeal pasta with fresh tomato and aubergine sauce
    • Low-fat chilli con carne with brown or red rice
    • Baked salmon with lima beans and salad
    • Low-fat vegetable curry and wholemeal pita bread
    • Vegetable frittata with salad
    • Couscous with Mediterranean vegetables

    You may think that your eating habits are healthy, but if you are not losing weight a point to remember when making healthy food choices and preparing healthy food is you should take care to avoid ‘hidden fats’. These include cooking with a lot of olive oil, which although good for you, is still fat and contains calories.

    Snack Alternatives

    • Low-fat yogurt with a handful of raisins or sultanas
    • High-fibre/low-fat muffins or scones
    • Small can of tuna on wholemeal bruschetta
    • Rice crackers
    • Muesli or granola bars
    • Banana or other fruit
    • Carrot sticks with low-fat yogurt dip
    • Canned/homemade soup
    • Fresh fruit smoothie

    It can be hard to make healthy food choices while at work, which can lead you to snack on high-fat foods. It is recommended to make your lunch to take to work, and keep a good supply of low-fat foods with you.

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    Smoothies for Weight Loss

    Smoothies have a deliciously smooth and intense flavor and pack a punch in the fruit department, ensuring you get the vitamins and minerals you need in a healthy and convenient drink. But did you know that smoothies can also be used to aid weight loss?

    Smoothies by nature have a high fruit content and tend to be naturally sweet. They rarely need sugar adding to them and can easily replace a meal when time is tight or if you are on a calorie controlled diet. They are naturally filling and very healthy. One large glass of smoothie is one portion.

    An excellent breakfast smoothie which will set you up for the day and easily get you through until lunchtime: simply place a small banana with 1tsp of peanut butter, one small pot of low fat yogurt, a handful of berries and a tablespoon of oat bran in a blender and add half a cup of skimmed milk. Whizz it all up and voila! A highly nutritious and delicious way to start the day and replace any meal.

    The banana provides energy, while the milk and yogurt provide calcium and protein. The addition of peanut butter gives a lovely nutty taste and ensures your smoothie is bursting with protein, while the berries provide antioxidants. Finally, the oat bran helps to lower cholesterol by binding to bad fat in your body and flushing it out of your system.

    Smoothies for weight loss can include almost any combination of fruit, but always remember one rule. If you are using acidic fruit such as oranges, it is better to have it as a juice instead, since the combination of acidity and yogurt and milk can cause the mixture to curdle.

    Another excellent combination is to combine a ripe mango with a ripe papaya and add in the milk, yogurt, peanut butter and oat bran as in the above recipe. It works a treat and tastes fantastic. Some people like to replace the peanut butter with silken tofu – another protein packed ingredient which helps prevent hunger pangs and aids weight loss by helping build lean muscle.

    Some Smoothie Recipe Books

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