10 Reasons to Eat Organically—and Locally

Guest Post by  Steve Edwards Team Beachbody 

“Think globally, act locally” isn’t just for bumper stickers anymore. This grassroots politics–type slogan has become an important way of thinking about where your next meal should come from. But the implications here are far more than political. Buying local—as well as organic—foods allows you to protect your family by feeding them in the safest way possible. Here are 10 reasons to add “visit the local farmers’ market” to the top of your to-do list each week.

Local foods are safer.

Or at least you can find out if they are. Organic food standards are high, but there are still companies out there attempting to cloud the rules. When you buy locally, it’s easier to check out what you’re buying, and you won’t have to hire Magnum, P.I. to do it. The great thing about local media is that they love to cover this stuff. If for any reason a local farm is mixed up in nefarious activities, there’s a good chance your paper has a reporter dreaming of a gig at The New York Times who’ll be on the job for you. Even if this isn’t the case, you can be inquisitive at the farmers’ markets—you’ll be surprised how quickly you can get up to date on the local scoop. Farmers who adhere to a strict code of ethics love to talk about others who do, and those who don’t.

Organic foods are safer.

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Organic certification standards are the public’s assurance that their food and products have been grown and handled according to sustainable procedures, without toxic, synthetic, irradiated, or genetically modified elements, including chemical fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, and other additives. At least that’s what the law says. But even though many companies still cheat the system, most of them play by the rules. These rules are in place to help both soil longevity and the health and safety of the consumer. Many Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved pesticides were registered long before extensive research linked these chemicals to cancer and other diseases. Now, the EPA considers 60 percent of all herbicides, 90 percent of all fungicides, and 30 percent of all insecticides, none of which meet organic criteria, to potentially cause cancer. You can’t always be certain you’re getting safe food, but eating organic foods stacks the odds in your favor.

Organic food tastes better.

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Many people would be amazed to taste the difference between garden-grown fruits and vegetables (and wild meat) and the offerings you find down at your local mega-grocery-mart. The main reason for this disparity has to do with something called trophic levels, which is determined by where plants and animals fall on the food chain. When food—even natural food—is manufactured, as when plants are grown in poor soil with some added nutrients, or animals are raised using drugs and a non-native diet, their physiological chemistry is altered. This doesn’t just change their nutrient content—it changes the way they taste.

Organic food is more nutritious

—which stands to reason, based on the whole trophic levels thing. When soils are depleted and then fertilized, only certain nutrients are added with fertilizers. This results in the loss of many of the plants’ original phytonutrients. While these lost phytonutrients aren’t necessarily a major component of any individual plant, they add up in your diet and become a major component of who you are. This lack of phytonutrients in the plants in our diets has a lot to do with many modern-day maladies. With regard to meat, it’s basically the same story. Animals that are fed a poor diet are, as you might imagine, less healthy to eat, because they’re also missing out on essential nutrients thanks to the trophic level paradigm—just like you are.

You won’t have to eat genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Researchers with Genetically Modified Corn

A GMO is a plant, animal, or microorganism whose genetic sequence has been modified to introduce genes from another species. Because the long-term impact of GMOs on our health isn’t known yet, they’re forbidden by the Soil Association Standards for Organic Food and Farming. Furthermore, in order to qualify as organic, animals can’t be fed GMOs, nor can they be fed antibiotics, added hormones, or other drugs. It is not currently required, however, that GMOs be mentioned on food labels, so it’s very likely that anything not certified organic contains some GMO ingredients.

Your drinking water will be safer.

The EPA estimates that pesticides contaminate groundwater in 38 states, polluting the primary source of drinking water for more than half the country’s population. Because organic farmers practice water conservation and don’t use toxic chemicals that leach into your groundwater, organic farming leads to less waste intrusion into our aquifers, which helps keep your drinking water healthier.

Your kids will be healthier.

The toxicity of pesticide residue is determined not only by the chemicals used, but by our body weight in relation to how much we consume. This means that your children are even more at risk than you are. It’s estimated that the average child receives four times more exposure than the average adult to at least eight widely used cancer-causing pesticides in food. To try and minimize this risk, buy organic, but also make sure that your family eats a wide variety of foods.

To help farmers and farm communities.

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It’s estimated that the U.S. has lost more than 650,000 family farms since 1990. The USDA estimates that half of the U.S. farm production comes from only 1 percent of farms. Organic farming may be one of the few survival tactics left for the family farm and rural communities. The majority of organic farms are still small-scale operations, generally on fewer than 100 acres, and using an average of 70 percent less energy. Small farms use far more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices than large-scale farms do. For example, small farms use manure to fertilize soil, naturally recycling it to keep the land productive. Industrial farms produce so much manure that it’s a human health risk.

The overspill of manure has contaminated water wells with E. coli and other pathogens. This brings up another subject: Industrial farms still—though now illegally—feed animals the ground-up remnants of other animals that aren’t naturally part of their diet. This has led to pathogens like E. coli getting into our foods in the first place.Furthermore, farm workers are much safer on small farms. A National Cancer Institute study found that farmers exposed to herbicides had six times more risk of contracting cancer than nonfarmers did. Due to their direct exposure, field workers on conventional farms are the most vulnerable to illness as a result of pesticide use. Organic farms eliminate that risk by eliminating harmful pesticides and other chemical inputs from their practices.

For more humane treatment of animals.

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Factory farms treat animals like commodities. They are usually kept in tightly confined pens or cages and often never move more than a few feet for their entire lives. They are also fed the cheapest foods available, no matter how it affects their—and then our—health. Besides the fact that a host of illnesses have entered our world as a direct result of this practice, it’s also just not nice. Animals on organic farms are far likelier to be raised without cruelty. They are also fed a diet much closer to what they would eat naturally, and studies tell us—surprise!—that these animals tend to be significantly healthier than their factory-raised counterparts.

To promote a vibrant economy.

Organic products only seem more expensive because people base their cost on their sticker price alone. However, retail price represents a mere fraction of their true cost. Market prices for conventionally grown foods don’t reflect the costs of federal subsidies to conventional agriculture, the cost of contaminated drinking water, loss of wildlife habitat and soil erosion, or the cost of the disposal and cleanup of hazardous wastes generated by the manufacturing of pesticides. Compared to local farms, there’s also transportation—and the pollutants that result from it—to consider. All of this means that essentially, you can pay now or pay later—just remember that you’re going to be charged interest, mainly in the form of a socially and ecologically diminished world to live in.

 What if you can’t find organic food?

One of our members, who lives in a rural area, went to her local market and requested healthier options. Now the store owner can’t keep them on the shelf. You can, with a little initiative, make a difference. After all, retail stores are in business to serve you. If this doesn’t work, hit the Internet. Since “organic” is the current buzzword of the food industry, there will be options. And of course there’s always your local farmers’ market.

For more information on organic and local produce, check out the Web site for the Organic Trade Association, or type “Community Supported Agriculture” into your favorite search engine.

4 Healthy Fats from Fruits

Guest post by Andrew Rice 

Fat . . . fruit. Fat . . . fruit. Let’s say that one more time: fat . . . fruit. Hardly rolls off the tongue, does it? Most fruits and vegetables have very little fat. But there are exceptions; some of the best sources of healthy fats are fruits. Working them into your diet can provide your body with healthy fat that actually lowers your bad cholesterol while raising the good cholesterol to help protect you from heart disease. Not only that, these healthy, fatty fruits provide an array of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, something a slab of bacon just can’t do.

But not all fruit and vegetable fats are created equal, so let’s take a look at some fatty produce and how to incorporate it into your healthy diet. (Ben’s note; remember to always buy organic)

The Avocado

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It’s hard to believe, really, that something so rich and buttery-tasting is a fruit. To me, an avocado is one of nature’s perfect foods, straight from the tree to you. It’s simple, packs a lot of energy, and satisfies your hunger.

Ounce for ounce, an avocado has as many total grams of fat as a Big Mac®, something that led to its being vilified during the “fat free” diet crazes of the past. Seventy-five percent of the calories in an avocado come from fat, whereas most fruits derive their calories from sugars. But ever since nutritionists sorted out the difference between bad and good monounsaturated fats, the avocado has been voted back onto the island.

Half a California avocado has an excellent overall nutrient profile: 114 calories, 2 grams of protein, 4.5 grams of fiber, and 11 grams of fat, most of which (8 grams) is monounsaturated fat.

The monounsaturated fat found in avocados is mostly oleic acid, which, according to a 1996 study by researchers at the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social in Mexico, may help lower cholesterol. This study found that after seven days of a diet rich in avocados, subjects saw significant decreases in both total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, as well as an 11 percent increase in HDL (“good”) cholesterol. In other words, it showed that avocados raised good cholesterol levels while lowering the bad, a one-two punch against heart disease.

But good fats are not the only attractive side of this leathery-skinned green fruit. Avocados also have 60 percent more potassium than bananas, making them a great post-workout recovery food. They’re also rich in vitamin E and other antioxidants.

You’ll also find a large amount of omega-3s and omega-6s in avocados, excellent news for vegetarians and vegans who want to incorporate these beneficial fatty acids into their diet without consuming fish oil, poultry, or eggs.

Really, the only way you can go wrong eating avocados is if you eat so many of them that the excess calories make you overweight. But as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, bring on the avocados.

Cuckoo for Coconut

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You can argue that a coconut isn’t a fruit. People will also argue that a tomato is a vegetable and that a peanut, which is really a legume, is a nut. Whatever. We eat them all. While the avocado is unabashedly awesome for your health, the health benefits of the coconut’s flesh, and particularly its milk, are less clear-cut.

This is because unlike the avocado, with its wonderfully healthy monounsaturated fats, which provide it with its silky flavor, the coconut is rich in saturated fats. However, different kinds of saturated fats have different chemical compositions, depending on the number of carbon atoms they contain. The saturated fat in coconut oil consists mainly of lauric acid and myristic acid, whereas red meat like beef contains mostly palmitic acid. Lauric acid has been shown to increase good cholesterol levels, and, along with myristic acide, may have antimicrobial/anti-acne properties. Consumption of palmitic acid, on the other hand, has been shown to increase risk of heart disease in humans.

According to researchers, consuming coconut flesh and/or coconut oil can raise your cholesterol levels, but since they raise your good cholesterol more than your bad cholesterol, things would seem to balance out. But here’s where the research gets complicated: When studying the nutritional properties of one food, it’s important to take into account the other foods it’s consumed with, especially in terms of regional dietary habits.

The Asia Pacific Health and Nutrition Centre at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, studies the eating habits of people in Indonesia and other Pacific island regions who consume diets rich in coconut. Coconut has long been a staple in this region, where there has traditionally been a very low incidence of heart disease. But because the percentage of coconut in the regional diet has been declining for decades as imported foods like red meat have become more available, the incidence of coronary heart disease among these people has increased.

The reason appears to be that Pacific islanders have traditionally consumed coconut along with large quantities of fresh fruit, vegetables, and fish. (As a side note, the night before I finished this article, I had a traditional Thai dish that combined coconut, fish, and vegetables: squid curry.) So if coconut, coconut milk, and/or coconut oil encourage you to choose to cook a delicious meal of fresh vegetables and seafood, it’ll probably do you good. If you just like the taste of fresh coconut meat, it’s probably not doing you any harm. But frying your donuts in coconut oil isn’t going to turn them into anything resembling a healthy treat.

Olives

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The only fruit that can top the avocado for beneficial fats is the humble olive. Health researchers have been lauding the benefits of the olive and its oil for decades, and the olive rightfully holds a place of honor in the healthful Mediterranean diet.

The main type of fat found in all kinds of olives and olive oils is monounsaturated fatty acid, which helps to lower your total cholesterol and bad cholesterol levels. According to Mayo Cinic researchers, monounsaturated fatty acids may also help normalize blood clotting, as well as benefitting insulin levels and helping to control blood sugar.

In my own experience, cured olives are also highly portable, keep well without refrigeration, and satisfy the same type of hunger that might otherwise have me reaching for a piece of cheese or salami, neither of which is going to lower my cholesterol. My primary salad dressing of choice is simply extra virgin olive oil with a dash of balsamic vinegar. Both good things. Trading in your overly processed bottled dressing for some self-mixed olive oil and vinegar is a great way to cut your intake of sugar and unhealthy fats with no loss of taste or enjoyment.

The weirdest fruit of all? The durian

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To be honest, I’m really only writing about the durian for its novelty factor. Unless you grew up in Southeast Asia, it might be hard to feel any love for this giant prickly fruit that, when it’s ready to eat, smells like an overripe armpit. (Yes, you read that right: It smells like B.O.)

But the durian doesn’t taste like it smells, and it’s a great source of beneficial fats. One 100-gram serving (a little more than a third of a cup of cubed pieces) contains 147 calories and 5 grams (or 8 percent of your daily requirement) of beneficial monounsaturated fat. And unlike olives, the durian is also a source of the amino acid tryptophan, which is known to increase seratonin levels in your brain, which can lift your mood. (Interestingly enough, avocados have fairly high tryptophan levels too.)

Finally, like many other tropical fruits, the durian is a good overall source of fiber and vitamins. So next time you’re in a Thai or Indonesian fruit market and get a whiff of something that smells like it needs to take a bath, consider giving the durian a chance.

As soon as I learn a recipe for a delicious durian-avocado-coconut-olive shake, you’ll be the first to hear. Until then, I’ll be putting my money where my mouth is and eating a lot of guacamole and olives to help my cholesterol. And I’ll leave the durians for you.

Sleep and Skinny Jeans

What does skinny jeans and sleep have in common? Find out below.

Guest post by Karen Tonnis 

Your mission: to add lean muscle, form some well-defined curves. The prescription: get some sleep!

Crazy as it sounds, that’s the advice you’ll get from bodybuilders, trainers, professional coaches, and fitness experts in general. The fact is your body can only heal, repair, and grow during deep sleep. You can be doing the right things—perfectly portioning out your food, doing hardcore lifting that pushes you to the edge—but all that effort will be negated without enough recovery. You can’t cheat on sleep. We know sleep is essential to life, just like eating and breathing. But there are many theories as to exactly why we sleep, with no one clear answer. One is that sleep “restores” what our bodies lose while we’re awake. And recent findings actually support this theory, showing that many of the major restorative functions in the body, like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and the release of growth hormones, occur mostly, or as noted above, only during sleep.

Warning signs that you’re sleep-deprived

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Have a sneaking suspicion you might not be getting the sleep you need? You’re not alone. An estimated 50 to 70 million people in the U.S. don’t get adequate sleep every night. Here are a few classic signs:

  • Hitting the snooze button consistently on your alarm clock

  • Yawning uncontrollably and at inappropriate times (e.g., workplace meetings, parent-teacher conferences)

  • Feeling sluggish in the afternoon

  • Getting drowsy while driving

  • Having heavy eyelids and watery eyes

  • Experiencing memory lapses

  • Experiencing irritability and low energy

  • Feeling excessive hungriness or a complete lack of appetite

Tips for catching quality z’s

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Now that you know how important sleep is, don’t let it get away from you. Here are some handy tips to make the most of your rest time.

  • From 4 to 6 hours before bedtime, avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other chemicals that interfere with sleep.

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night. And wake up at the same time every morning. If you’re getting enough sleep, you’ll wake up automatically without an alarm clock.

  • Get regular exercise. Physical activity, especially aerobic exercise, can help you fall asleep faster and make your sleep more restful.

  • Have a relaxing bedtime routine that eases the transition between being awake and sleeping.

  • Sleep primarily at night. Short naps are great for recharging and catching up on missed sleep, but too many naps, and naps that are too long, can interfere with your regular schedule.

Make the most of your workouts

 

Be honest with yourself. If you’re doing the work and the healthy eating plan and you’re still not seeing great results, it could be lack of sleep that’s holding back your progress. Remember, your body is an incredible machine. Give it a chance to recover and build for the jump-start you’ve been looking for.

Blame Your Desk Job

This is a little embarrassing…

Several years ago I was the manager at a packing and shipping store in Bay Harbor Islands, Florida. An elderly lady walked into the store to ship a small package. I took the small box to the peanut machine (styrofoam peanuts for packing); a couple peanuts fell on the floor. I then bent down to pick them up and “snap, crackle, pop” my back gave out on me. Hunched over and sweating prefusely, the little old lady asked if I needed assistance. She then helped me up and placed me in a chair.

I was only 25 years old! How does this happen to a young man?! 

Today’s society is plagued by postural imbalances, mainly due to sedentary lifestyles caused by seated desk jobs, bad workout habits and advancements in technology. Most people are spending a lot of time in office-related jobs which require them to be seated for long periods of time; not only is this not conducive to calorie burning but the seated position is one of the WORST postures our backs can be subjected to. Not only are the tissues in the lumbar spine (lower back) under a tremendous amount of stress while seated but our muscles begin to adapt to this posture, rendering us with chronic muscle imbalances. These imbalances determine the way our bodies move and have a strong correlation with joint health and subsequent pain. When one piece of the kinetic chain is not properly functioning, it can alter the rest of the operating systems. Much like the old saying “you are only as strong as your weakest link”, the same applies to the human body.

What are the hazards of postural imbalances?

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It can lead to muscular imbalances, chronic lower back pain (computer back), weak gluteal muscles that usually lead to lower back pain, sciatica (pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in the leg), anterior pelvic tilt (protruding abdominal), lower crossed syndrome.

This subject is personal to me because I fell into the “blame your desk job” category. I developed lower back pain “computer back”, knee pain,  a serious case of APT (Anterior Pelvic Tilt) and lowered crossed syndrome. I never understood why I had all these issues until I started researching and learning; I discovered what my postural imbalances were, why I developed them, and how to correct them.

APT is when excessive anterior pelvic tilt can contribute heavily to postural dysfunction; as the pelvis tilts anteriorly, the thigh bones rotate inward, causing an increased stress on the medial (inside) portion of the knee joints. This was very frustrating for me because my lower abdominal would protrude. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have an ounce of fat, APT will make your lower abdominal stick out (unattractive).

“Lower Crossed Syndrome” is similar to APT. It is basically the combination of tight hip flexors and tight lower back, paired with weak abdominals and weak glutes. This combination leads to an excessive arching in your lower back, a flaccid or protrudingabdomen and a flat butt due to the weakness of the glutes. This muscle imbalance imposes excessive stresses on the lower back with or without heavy lifting, bending, twisting or turning.

The photo below illustrates anterior and posterior pelvic tilt.

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HOW TO CORRECT POSTURAL IMBALANCES:

#1 Maintain proper posture on a daily basis.

While at work sitting at your desk, make yourself aware of keeping good posture. This can be difficult at first, but here are a few things that I did to optimize my body positioning.

  • Lower the height of your chair so that your back touches the back of the chair and your feet rest firmly on the floor slightly in front of you.

  • Center the keyboard in front of you and position your screen so that the toolbar is eyelevel for you.

  • The keyboard and mouse should be moved close to the edge of the desk and your wrists should be supported by a gel pad or wrist support.

  • Avoid repetitive gripping of the mouse.

  • Get up from your chair every 20 minutes, stretch for about 30 seconds, and sit back down. Never be seated for more than 20 minutes. Yes, this also applies to when you’re sitting on the coach at home!

#2 Stretch!

Every morning, wake up and stretch for 5-10 minutes. Perform dynamic stretches designed to correct anterior pelvic tilt, lower crossed syndrome and other muscular imbalances. If you want to know which stretches I perform every day, just book an online session or an in person session with me — email me at shredfatinc@gmail.com

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#3 Develop a strong core.

The cornerstone of all athletic movements is the core muscles. You can train to increase strength, power, speed, agility, and quickness but if your core muscles are weak you will not reap the full benefits. The core muscles serve as a force couple to transfer the power developed in the hips and legs into the arms and vice-versa.  The SHREDFAT INC program not only helps you shred unwanted fat, it also helps develop overall core strength, and it teaches you value of core muscle coordination, AND you can do it from the comfort of your own living room! These exercises place the body in an unbalanced position help to develop the needed strength and coordination needed for your core muscles to function properly. This is CRUCIAL to correcting postural imbalances.

Core-MusclesMy knee problems are currently nonexistent. My APT and “lower crossed syndrome” are about 100% corrected. I owe this all to my weight loss via Shakeology, my SHREDFAT program and the tips I previously discussed. Smart interval training is so important because it helps maintain proper balance between each of your muscle group. Exercises for each muscle group promote optimal growth and are way more effective. This is simply because muscles work in pairs and not keeping the balance between opposing ones can also mean not getting the best results out of your workouts, which also prevents muscle imbalances.

 

 

Antioxidants…Why We Need ‘Um!

Antioxidants are surrounded by a lot of hype. They are touted as everything from disease fighters to memory protectors to the antidote to aging. So what are antioxidants? Why are they important? What is the best way to get them in your diet? 

Antioxidants help fight oxidation, a normal chemical process that takes place in the body every day. Oxidative stress and free radical damage to cells is harmful because it may initiate the early stages of cancer and heart disease. Eating foods rich in antioxidants help fight the oxidation and free radical damage plus, they also help you look and feel younger by helping to slow down the aging process and help to prevent cancer, heart disease and other degenerative diseases. Finally, an added bonus is that they also help to speed up the recovery from exercise which means more muscle and less fat on your body!

Health organizations such as the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research recommend eating between five and nine servings of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables every day.

Shakeology meets this recommendation and more because it contains some of the most potent antioxidants on the planet: flavonoids and phytonutrients such as spinach, blue green algae, carrot powder, strawberry powder, and vitamins E and C. All of these help to prevent free radicals from oxidizing and destroying cells. In addition, the ingredients in our antioxidant blend such as pomegranate, acai berry, camu-camu, goji, and blueberry also have powerful antioxidant effects to support your immune system and help protect your body from normal inflammatory response.

So the bottom line is to choose your foods wisely to help prevent healthy-aging as well as cellular health from the stress of oxidation on your cells. Your cells need a variety of antioxidants to fight the destructive little molecules that wage war in the body daily and Shakeology, as well as a well-rounded diet of fruits and vegetables, can help do exactly that!

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5 Reasons Why You Are Fat

REASON #1. YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO SAY NO

How many times have you eaten unhealthily because of food offers and meal invitations? It happens all the time! I know some of you may think it’s rude to turn down food especially at someone’s dinner party, but it’s really not rude at all. You have weight loss goals you need to accomplish and eating those foods will be a delay in accomplishing them. If the person(s) offering you food get offended, then they don’t have your best interest in mind; they should respect the fact that you are dedicated and determined to achieve your goal. When temptation kicks in, remind yourself this; nothing taste as good as feeling fit feels. Take my word for it, as someone who used to eat all kinds of unhealthy crap.

REASON #2. YOU HAVE TOO MANY EXCUSES

Excuses are like armpits, everyone has them and they all stink.

Excusitis; it’s an illness that many people suffer from not only in fitness goals but in all aspects of their life. People with excusitis let negative words sink into their mind, such words as embarrassment, bad genes, bad luck, fear of failing, and fear of people. If you are making excuses every day, you will continue to set yourself up for failure. Successful people DO what unsuccessful people aren’t willing to do. From this day on, take action, be confident, and just get things done. Stop making excuses about why you can’t workout, just get it done. Nobody ever says “Damn, I shouldn’t have worked out today”, but if they didn’t workout, they will always say “Damn, I should have worked out today”. It never fails. You’ll feel so much better once you start accomplishing goals. Start small as small steps equal big leaps.

Watch this incredibly inspirational video below. I bet you’ll stop making excuses now. #NeverGiveUp

REASON #3. YOU DON’T KNOW WHICH FOODS ARE HEALTHY

Food manufacturers spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year for the sole purpose of tricking consumers into thinking they are eating something healthy, but in reality it’s making them fat. For example, the term “low fat” is usually synonymous with “loaded with salt and cheap carbohydrates”. Labels are about marketing; the nutrition chart is about content. So ignore the front, and look for high saturated fat, protein and fiber, and low amounts of carbs. And remember, whole foods have no labels. They’re the best choice of all; it’s nearly impossible to eat too much of anything that grows on a tree, bush or vine.

 REASON #4. YOU ARE SEATED WAY TOO MUCH

The computer is the enemy of your abs.

The simple act of sitting in a chair for a long time is one of the riskiest activities we engage in on a regular basis. Not only is sitting for a long time not conducive to calorie burning, it’s also the major reason most of us have back problems and muscular imbalances. I know this all too well, I used to have “computer back” and APT (Anterior Pelvic Tilt). I made the decision, and the effort to correct those problems and now I feel better than ever. I used to have to wear a knee brace just to walk around the mall; now I don’t wear any braces when walking, and I can play basketball for multiple hours with no problem! If you want to learn how I corrected it, simply shoot me an email. shredfatinc@gmail.com

REASON #5. YOU DON’T PLAN YOUR MEALS

If you don’t plan, you plan to fail

The truth is, fit people plan their meals in advance. When you plan your meals you end up saving money, saving time, and you’ll avoid binge eating on junk food because your prepared healthy foods will be available. During my weight loss journey of shredding 80lbs of fat,  I made a habit of purchasing all my groceries each Sunday, then preparing, chopping and storing all the food so it would be easily accessible throughout the week; I can’t tell you how much doing this helped me achieve my weight loss goals. Need help creating healthy meal plans? Click here to get custom Meal Plans created for you, for only $2.99 per week!

Snacks Under 100 Calories

Although some of you may feel guilty about snacking, know this; snacks aren’t necessarily bad as long as you choose the right snack. In fact, well timed healthy snacks helped me reach my weight loss goals. You may be asking yourself which snacks should you eat? Select foods that satisfy your hunger, supply your body with energy and provide important nutrients.

I’ve compiled a list of 30 healthy snacks under 100 calories: *Always buy organic*

  • Grapes: 1 cup (62 calories)

  • Popcorn: 2 cups, air popped. (62 calories)

  • Raspberries: 1 cup (64 calories)

  • Tangerine: 1 (47 calories)

  • Pear: 1 (86 calories)

  • Peach: 1 (58 calories)

  • Mango: 1 cup (99 calories)

  • Apple: 1 (77 calories)

  • Broccoli: 1 cup (58 calories)

  • Cashews: 10 (91 calories)

  • Cherries: 19 raw (98 calories)

  • Watermelon: 2 cups cubed (94 calories)

  • Organic Free Range Egg: 1 hard boiled (70 calories)

  • Almonds: about 14 unsalted, skin on (98 calories)

  • Baby Carrots: 30 pieces (72 calories)

  • Strawberries: 1 cup (77 calories)

  • Kiwis: 2 medium (84 calories)

  • Peanuts: about 20 (96 calories)

  • Cheerios: about 1 cup (99 calories)

  • Blueberries: 1 cup (84 calories)

  • Banana: small/medium (about 95 calories)

  • Cucumber Slices with Hummus: 1 cup cucumber slices, 2 tbsp hummus (98 total calories)

  • Avocado: about 2 ounces (99 calories)

7 Colors of the Phytonutrient Rainbow: How Eating a Variety of Colors Can Keep You Healthy

Guest Post by Elisa Lenox 

Why is it that advice on healthy eating usually seems to center on what not to put in our mouths? With the endless ways we’re taught to limit calorie intakes and watch out for “bad” fat and carbohydrates, it’s almost easy to forget that there’s a whole world of foods out there that don’t threaten to give you heart disease, diabetes, or an expanded waistline.

Rather than focusing on what you shouldn’t eat, let’s take some time to focus on a few beautiful, flavorful, and health-building foods you should eat—specifically, foods rich in phytonutrients, the naturally occurring pigments that lend color and chemical protection to the plant kingdom, while also offering astounding health benefits.

The study of phytonutrients (“phyto” meaning “plant” and “nutrient” meaning, well, “nutrient”), also known as phytochemicals, is a relatively new field in nutrition, with more research unfolding on these substances than can be covered in one article. However, it’s fair to say that what is currently known lends powerful credence to that ageless maternal advice “eat your vegetables.”

Scientists have categorized classes of phytonutrients that offer different properties and benefits and it just so happens that many of these classes are represented by their colors. So read on and discover why becoming a connoisseur of the plant-based nutrient spectrum is a brilliant strategy that will help to preserve both your health and physical charm.

Blue/Purple – Anthocyanins are flavonoids that act as powerful antioxidants, neutralizing free radicals that cause aging and degenerative disease. There’s even a connection between this phytonutrient and decreased visceral (abdominal) fat! A 2008 study from Chubu University in Japan found a link between anthocyanin intake and reduced incidence of metabolic disorders, including abdominal weight gain, hypertension, and impaired glucose and insulin metabolism.

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True, blue anthocyanin sources include red cabbage, blueberries, blackberries, acai berries, cherries, grapes, blue potatoes, eggplant, and radicchio.

Orange/Yellow – Multiple studies indicate that diets rich in beta-carotene lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer. This amazing phytonutrient falls into the carotenoid class that (along with the flavonoid group) has been credited in a 2010 Tufts University study for providing photo-protective and antioxidant action in the skin. In short, these inflammation, wrinkle, and cancer-preventing nutrients protect your skin from the inside out!

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To get a bit of beta-carotene, try sweet potato, carrots and carrot juice, winter squash, pumpkin, and cantaloupe.

Red – Lycopene has been in the news a lot lately for its positive influence on prostate health, but it’s also thought to prevent cervical dysplasia in conjunction with other carotenoids. In other words, it’s also good for the uterus, making it an equal-opportunity nutrient. In addition, a 1996 University of Minnesota study found a significant increase in longevity based upon the blood lycopene levels of nuns living the same lifestyle, in the same conditions.

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If you’re ready to get into the red, try tomato and tomato products, watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava, and papaya.

Yellow/Green – The light absorbing properties of lutein are associated with eye health involving a decrease in cataract formation and macular degeneration. Mellow, yellow lutein sources include spinach, kale, collards, mustard and dandelion greens, summer squash, and pumpkin.

Green – Chlorophyll’s abilities to bind toxins and decrease oxidative stress make it a powerful bodily detoxifier and explain how it can actually reduce body odor.

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You’ll be seeing green with chlorophyll sources like spinach, kale, Swiss chard, arugula, green beans—any green vegetable. The darker, the better.

Green/White – Another detoxifier, sulphoraphane is part of the isotheocyanate class of phytonutrients that has been cited in multiple studies as a cancer preventative and detoxifier of carcinogens. Some super sulphoraphane sources include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, broccoli sprouts, cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower, and watercress.

White – The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial qualities of allicin lend to its reputation as an inhibitor of heart disease and gastric cancer as well as a potent immune booster. All-around awesome allicin sources include garlic, onion, leek, shallot, and chives.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to polychromatic eating. Use a food processor to quickly shred red cabbage and Brussels sprouts into an easy chopped salad with pomegranate seeds, blanched almonds, and a homemade lemony dressing, or gently wilt kale or Swiss chard in olive oil with garlic, onion, and thinly sliced yellow bell pepper. Spiced sweet potatoes or winter squash bake in less than 40 minutes for a simple, energy-boosting carbohydrate serving. Fruit and leafy green-packed smoothies are a fantastic way to throw together a quick, nutrient-dense breakfast, and don’t forget the most convenient and superfood-packed meal on the go . . . Shakeology®. Where else can you get over 20 phytonutrients and antioxidants in one delicious and easily portable package?

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How can you ensure that you’re drenching your system in these healthful, beauty-boosting nutrients every day? Make it a personal mission to sample from a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily and get as innovative with your recipes as your imagination and nature’s color palette will allow. Get creative and, before you know it, you’ll be benefiting from the phytonutrient rainbow!

Boost Your Hydration with Himalayan Salt

via The Shakeology Blog

Minerals, including salt, are essential to life. We can’t live without them. Sadly, today’s common table salt (sodium chloride), found in most homes and restaurants and in all processed foods, contains none of the trace minerals that make salt good for us.

Himalayan salt, which can be found in Tropical Strawberry Shakeology®, contains pure crystal salt that is minimally processed and contains up to 84 natural minerals and elements. These elements promote stable pH, aid with the absorption of food particles through the digestive tract, regulate water content through the body, prevent muscle cramps, and help support cellular function.

So, how can you use Himalayan salt in your diet?

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It’s easy! You can always drink Tropical Strawberry Shakeology but if that’s not your chosen flavor, fear not—we recommend substituting the current salt you’re using for Himalayan anyways! It tastes similar and is WAY better for you. That part is a no-brainer, but another insider tip that Darin and Isabel (creators of Shakeology) have been doing for years is adding Himalayan salt to distilled water for extra hydration.

Hydration is a huge part of the health equation, and drinking distilled water is the best way to hydrate your body. Distilled water is the purest water available; unlike tap, filtered, or bottled water, distilled water is stripped of everything except for its oxygen and hydrogen molecules. In order to get the minerals you need, Darin and Isabel recommend you add a pinch of Himalayan salt to your distilled water to supply you with the essential minerals and electrolytes your body needs for optimum health.

Recipe: Add half a teaspoon of Himalayan salt per gallon of distilled water, or a pinch (0.8 grams) to each 12 to 32 oz. glass of distilled water.

What water to drink:

  • First choice: distilled water with Himalayan salt added.

  • Second choice: tap water filtered through a reliable reverse osmosis or carbon filtration system, not a pitcher filtration unit.

  • Last choice: bottled water, preferably smartwater® or Penta®. (Bottled water comes last because most of it isn’t better than tap water.)

Where to find Himalayan salt: Trader Joe’s®, Whole Foods Market®, online.

Happy hydrating!

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Introducing Shakeology® Tropical Strawberry

You asked, and we delivered. This Valentine’s Day, we’re introducing you to the newest member of the Shakeology family: Shakeology Tropical Strawberry. And guess what? It’s vegan!

Just take one sip, and its sweet, luscious strawberry flavor along with notes of tropical fruits such as pineapple, banana, and papaya will whisk you away to paradise. You’ll quickly discover that the delicate flavor is easy to customize with your favorite fruits. For instance, it combines deliciously with bananas, blueberries, and coconut water. Wouldn’t that flavor combination be a great way to start your day?

This refreshing vegan shake is also the first addition to our new Beachbody Ultimate line—products that help nurture the body’s natural ability to heal itself and enhance the body’s own organic processes. Tropical Strawberry’s powerful protein punch comes from a proprietary vegan protein blend crafted from whole, plant-based proteins including sprouted brown rice, sacha inchi, chia, flax, quinoa, amaranth, and spirulina, and delivers all 9 essential amino acids. And it’s 100% dairy-free and lactose-free.

And, like our Chocolate and Greenberry flavors, Shakeology Tropical Strawberry is packed with vitamins and minerals that continue to make Shakeology the Healthiest Meal of the Day®. With 160 calories, 20 grams of carbs, and 15 grams of protein, it’s the ideal breakfast choice that can help you achieve the body you’ve always wanted.

Intrigued? Click here to find out more, and purchase a month’s supply of Shakeology Tropical Strawberry now.

New Superfoods in Shakeology® Tropical Strawberry

To create Shakeology, superfoods expert and ingredient hunter Darin Olien travels to some of the most remote parts of the globe to source the whole food ingredients that make Shakeology the Healthiest Meal of the Day®. Here are four new amazing superfoods that help make Shakeology Tropical Strawberry beneficial to your health:

Coconut Flower Nectar

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You’re familiar with the fruit of the coconut palm, but did you know that the flowers of the coco nucifera produce a naturally sweet, delicious nectar packed with vitamin C, B vitamins, and 17 of the 20 amino acids? It also has a low score on the glycemic index, so although it’s sweet, it releases its energy slowly so you don’t get a sugar high or the resulting crash.

Luo Han Guo

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Pronounced “law hawn gwah,” this fruit was discovered by Chinese monks in the 13th century. At first, they used this low-calorie, low-glycemic fruit as a sweetener for their tea. After all, it’s 300 times sweeter than sugar! But, they soon discovered that it could have a positive impact on coughs and other respiratory ailments. And recent research has revealed that it may work as an antioxidant to help eliminate the free radicals that can cause serious health concerns.

Himalayan Salt

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A touch of salt can go a long way in bringing out flavor, but this salt goes a step further . . . it’s even healthy for you! This raw, untouched, unprocessed salt contains more than 70 trace minerals which help detoxify the blood and maintain a stable pH balance in cells. And all that for less than 5% of the recommended daily intake for someone on a low-sodium diet!

Konjac Root

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This yam-like root has been used as a part of a healthy diet in India, China, Japan, and Korea for centuries, and for good reason: It’s recently been found that Konjac Root may be able to promote healthy blood sugar and ideal cholesterol levels, and help with regularity for optimal digestive health. Plus, if you’ve been having trouble with fighting off your not-so-healthy cravings, the fiber in this wonder food can help you out, thanks to its ability to absorb up to 200 times its weight in water, making you feel fuller for longer.

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