Category Archives: Food & Nutrition

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Summer in Texas

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About 60% of your entire body is water.

And if you live in Texas, the sun will take as much out of you as you let it.

So, hydrate.

Stay cool.

The ODIGIE Collection

As Loneliness Rises Among Americans, Experts Warn It’s Making Many Sick

Former Surgeon General Doctor Vivek Murthy brought mental health to the forefront last September when he wrote in the Harvard Business Review that loneliness is a “growing health epidemic.” Now a recent survey by health service company Cigna adds to that by showing many Americans say they sometimes or always feel alone.

The survey of more than 20,000 U.S. adults ages 18 years and older revealed some alarming findings:

  • Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone (46 percent) or left out (47 percent).
  • One in four Americans (27 percent) rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them.
  • Two in five Americans sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful (43 percent) and that they are isolated from others (43 percent).
  • One in five people report they rarely or never feel close to people (20 percent) or feel like there are people they can talk to (18 percent).

Interestingly, Generation Z — those ages 18 to 22 — were the loneliest group in the survey, while adults 72 and older were the least lonely. “Loneliness is defined as a feeling of being alone or lacking social connectedness,” Dr. Douglas Nemecek, M.D., chief medical officer for Behavioral Health at Cigna, told CBS News. “At Cigna, we’ve been hearing more and more from our customers and individuals calling us that they’re feeling lonely, alone and disconnected from others.

Murthy, who was appointed Surgeon General by President Barack Obama in 2013, wrote that today 40% of adults in America say they feel lonely and the rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s. Some experts are doubling down on Murthy’s health concerns, going as far as saying loneliness is making people ill and can even shorten one’s lifespan.

“We get multiple ways that our physical body can break down,” cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf recently told KTSB-TV. “But also there’s the mind where the frustration, depression, anxiety, all those adjectives, all those descriptions those are are also side-effects, so people pull away.”

Leaf, who focuses her work on the mind-brain connection, writes on her website that “75 to 95 percent of the illnesses that plague us today are a direct result of our thought life.” That is, negative or toxic thoughts can singlehandedly affect our health and lead to serious diseases including diabetes, asthma, and even cancer, she believes.

“When we think, feel, and choose, we are changing and influencing every single cell in our body,” she told KTSB.

The uptick in loneliness rates is impacting the overall health of the country. According to a report from Gallup, loneliness causes long-term stress and people who don’t have strong social connections in the workplace are more likely to fall sick or be injured.

“One feels a sense of emptiness, kind of like an emptiness of the soul. A wounded heart and lack of connection. A sense of disconnection,” Dr. Cheryl Bemel told CBS Minnesota. “It’s very hard to have someone really listen. When someone says ‘how are you doing?’ Are they really asking how are we doing? We typically ask that question and expect people to say ‘I’m good.’”

Previous research shows that loneliness can contribute to health problems, like heart disease. A study in 2010 showed loneliness has the same effect on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it more dangerous than obesity.

Original article: Depression Makes Many Sick


A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.

Proverbs 14:30

6 Ways To Reduce Body Fat While Increasing Muscle

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Ladies, you can walk the fine line between increasing muscle tissue while reducing body fat. Here’s how!

Bodybuilding and fitness articles geared toward men often say you need to bulk up when you want to increase muscle tissue. But many women have no desire to get bulky while increasing lean mass. In fact, that might be the understatement of the year.

Adding muscle while burning fat is a tricky proposition; you have to eat enough to feed muscle growth while making smart nutrition choices to help your body preferentially tap into fat stores over muscle tissue. Diet on its own isn’t enough. To maximize my recommendations, perform a combination of resistance training and high-intensity cardio as well.

Here are my six most effective tricks to help you walk the fine line between muscle building and fat loss.

1 – Bump Up Your Protein Consumption

Don’t be afraid to push protein consumption. Consider increasing your daily protein to 1.5 or even 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Yup. You read that right. Throughout my 17 years of bodybuilding, I have refused to consume less than that on any diet.

Getting in plenty of protein, spread fairly evenly throughout the day, helps protect your muscle tissue from breakdown. When amino acids are floating around in your system, your body senses that it doesn’t need to break down muscle tissue to harvest them. How much is “plenty”? That would be up to 300 grams for a healthy 150-pound woman.

Before you freak out, that’s only 1,200 or so calories, a far cry from your daily total under the plan I lay out below. Plus, recent research has shown that eating five times the current daily protein recommendation (0. 36 grams per pound of body weight) has shown no adverse impact on body-fat stores.

Furthermore, a high-protein diet has been shown to positively impact the number of calories you burn throughout the day. This manifests as an increase in the amount of calories burned through the process of digestion, absorption, and distribution of nutrients, referred to as the thermic effect of food (TEF).

2 – Train for Muscle Gain, Not Fat Loss

Spending time doing endless circuit training using light weight for high reps isn’t the best recipe for muscle gain. Instead, focus on integrating compound movements, such as squats, deadlifts, presses, and rows. These moves allow you to lift the most weight and stimulate the most total muscle mass possible, which is why they should be the foundation of each workout. Focus on increasing the weight you’re able to use over time while aiming for 5-8 reps per set.

You can still incorporate higher-rep training, but it should be with a weight that is challenging to complete 15-20 reps with. Incorporating a combination of heavy resistance training alongside high-repetition training is ideal for muscle growth.

3 – Cut Your Carbs

You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? Yeah, you’ve got to cut carbs—not completely, but to a point where they’re efficiently used. Many of us have a real problem when it comes to tackling this, which is why the obesity epidemic is worsening as you read this.

Consume most of your carbs when they benefit you the most: two hours before your workout and right after your workout. The rest of your carbohydrates throughout the day should come from high-fiber vegetables. Vegetables will help keep your energy in check and work to stave off hunger.

A good starting place is to aim for 1.5 grams of carbs per pound of body weight throughout the day (or 1 gram per pound if you’re overweight). Of course, the amount of exercise you do in a given day will affect this. On non-training days, consider dropping your carbs to 0.75-1.0 gram per pound.

4 – Eat Healthy Fats

Too many women outrageously slash their fat intake in an attempt to reduce body fat. As a result, not only do they lose weight, but they begin losing their hair, as well as their once-beautiful skin and nails. Fats play an integral role in maintaining optimal cell structure and hormone levels, each of which are crucial for supporting a muscle-building environment. They also play a role in keeping you feeling full.

Strive to consume about 0.5 grams of fat for every pound of body weight each day. That means a 150-pound woman should consume about 75 grams of fat each day. Make sure you include a variety of sources to reap the many benefits various types of fat (omega-3s and 6s, monounsaturated and saturated fats) have to offer.

Examples of healthy fats include salmon, sardines, walnuts, flax, chia seeds, macadamia nuts, avocado, olive oil, hemp oil, egg yolks, and coconut oil.

5 – Consume a Moderate Number of Calories

To walk the fine line of building muscle while burning fat, it’s imperative you find your caloric “sweet spot.” You need to eat enough calories to fuel muscle building while encouraging release of fat from storage.

Let’s review my recommendations for each of the macronutrients to see how they work together:

Remember, you’re not on a diet! You’re trying to increase muscle tissue while preferentially burning stored fat. A woman who is going all-out in the gym needs the proper balance of macronutrients and enough calories to fuel her efforts to build muscle and lose fat. That’s what my recommendations are designed to do.

6 – Use Cardio to Burn Fat, Not Calories

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they’re trying to burn body fat is performing lengthy sessions of steady-state cardio. This works for burning calories, but it can also spin you into a caloric deficit where your body begins to preferentially burn muscle tissue over body fat. Instead, use high-intensity interval training (HIIT) as your primary form of cardio. Why? HIIT has been shown to preserve muscle mass, and even enhance fat use as fuel. That’s a winning combination!

After a warm-up of 3-5 minutes, perform your first interval by going all-out for 60 seconds. Then allow yourself to recover by backing off until your heart rate returns to a comfortable rate, which should take 2-4 minutes. At that point, you are ready to go all-out again. The key with HIIT is to go full-force like a bat of out hell on those work intervals. Otherwise, your results will be disappointing.

HIIT is very taxing for your body, so don’t attempt it every day. Do 1-3 sessions per week, with 3 as the absolute max. If you feel like HIIT is draining your energy in the weights department, scale back.

Original article: 6 Ways to Reduce Body Fat While Increasing Muscle

Wifeplay: Smart Goals

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Ambitious goals are a dime a dozen this time of year. Is your approach to yours setting you up to fail? Three successful women and athletes give you their hard-learned lessons!

We live in a world where acronyms are as plentiful as smart phones, especially right now, when everyone is talking about their goals for the upcoming year. You’ve no doubt seen this one in recent weeks:

S.M.A.R.T. = Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely

Easy enough, right? If it were, we’d all be we’d all be beautiful, successful, and philanthropic billionaires. In actuality, even this seemingly perfect formula can leave you another disappointed statistic.

Let these three top NLA for Her athletes show you the inside track to achieving your goals this year. This is the approach that took them to the top of their industry and earned them millions of combined social media followers!

Look at the Big Picture Before Your Set Your Goals

In a perfect world you’d have plenty of time to train, you’d have a personal chef to prepare all your healthy meals, and you’d have an awesome support system to buoy you. But reality-land is too often dominated by work, sick kids, a busted car, and a fridge full of nothing but condiments. Add to that an unrealistic fitness goal, and you’re asking for calamity.

“Your work, school, and family all play a big role in setting and reaching goals. It would be crazy to pretend they don’t!” says pro fitness model Lais DeLeon. “You can change your life, but you can’t change your life into someone else’s. This is why it’s important to consider your existing schedule and the influence of those around you in your goal-making process.”

So how do you quantify something that large and important? Go old school. Get a paper calendar or a poster board, and physically mark off any days when you’ve got obligations; have your family pencil in the same. Then step back and have a look. Having it laid out in black and white often gives you a new perspective and will better help you create a timeline to set and reach your goal.

Set Concreted, Behavior-Based Goals

Once you’ve got the big picture in your head, it’s time to choose a goal. But rather than asking for the world, sharpen your focus.

“Setting too big of a goal—one that requires a dramatic change—is the number one reason people fail,” says IFBB figure pro Jessie Hilgenberg. “For instance, if your goal is losing 20 pounds, but you haven’t changed your eating habits or started a well-designed fitness program yet, there’s a good chance you’ll become overwhelmed and give up.”

So what are examples of specific, reasonable goals? “You could start with ‘train everything at least once a week and a weaker body part twice a week’ instead of ‘gain muscle’ or ‘prep meals every Sunday’ instead of ‘eat healthy,'” suggests DeLeon. “Notice how the quantifiable goal can be tracked from day to day or week to week. The other is a wish with no plan.”

Now is the time to brainstorm goals. Open up the mental faucet and put a lot of ideas on the page, then evaluate them more carefully. Which ones are specific enough to plot a course of action? If you like a goal but can’t see the action, how can you rewrite it to make it work?

Get Real

So you’ve got a goal. Now comes the hard part, which is matching it up to Step 1 and your actual life. You can do that with three simple questions.

Can I follow this plan indefinitely? “The most important thing to ask yourself about any plan or goal is ‘is this sustainable?'” says Hilgenberg. “If you can’t do it forever, or if you can’t teach your children to do it as well, it isn’t sustainable. You need a plan that gets you to your goal via a realistic path. Otherwise, it will not work.”

Does this goal match up with my abilities? “The key to setting realistic goals is to be ambitious while taking into consideration your actual abilities,” says DeLeon. “For example, if my goal was to go from 20 percent body fat to 12, but I was able to only drop to 17 percent at the end of my timeline, my goal probably wasn’t realistic.” When this happens, take the lesson to heart and set your goals accordingly next time!

Is this my goal or someone else’s? This sad truth is that while the girl on the bench next to you might make what appears to be significant progress in a matter of weeks, it might take you months to achieve the same—or vice versa. “Everyone has different body types and personal goals, so don’t compare yourself to others,” says NPC bikini competitor Theresa Miller. “Stay focused on what you want to achieve for yourself, and put on blinders when it comes to other people.”

Does your goal pass those three tests? If not, tinker with it until it does.

Set a Timeline and Mini Goals

For many people, the simple addition of a deadline means the difference between action and stagnation. If there’s no end point, the start point is also invisible.

“If you don’t have a deadline, it’s easy to keep pushing it back,” says Hilgenberg. “Mark your goal deadline on your calendar, tell a friend, or post it on your Facebook page. Declaring it publicly will hold you accountable!”

Along with your end point, set a procession of mini goals along the way to generate momentum. For example, if your aim is to lose 15 pounds and get into your skinny jeans by summer, then you could set:

  • a goal each month for body fat or weight loss
  • a goal each week for healthy eating and training
  • a goal each day for meal planning, training, and hydration

All three are equally important. Each time you reach a mini-goal, you’ve made progress on the front end, which will encourage you and propel you toward your end point!

Throw It Out to the Universe

Writing down a goal is a great way of solidifying it in your mind; sharing it with friends and family solidifies it in your life. Build enough accountability around you, and failure will quickly cease to be an option!

“Setting the goal is just the start. Being reminded of your goal frequently makes you much more likely to be successful in achieving it,” says DeLeon.

Enlist your friends and family to remind you about your goal regularly. After all, they’re the people in your life who want you to succeed most! If it helps, use social media or online groups to connect with others who are also making goals similar to yours.

This may be the most productive thing you use social media for all year!

Create a Sister Goal

Physical goals like fat-loss goals are probably the most tempting for many of us to set, since everyone has something they’d like to better about their physical self. But as millions can attest, getting serious about training and nutrition can encourage many other positive life changes. So why not embrace this opportunity?

“I am a ‘yes’ girl and always put everyone else’s needs before my own,” says Hilgenberg. “Now that I have a daughter, it has become more important than ever to say ‘no’ to unnecessary work, favors, or events so that I can just simply sit on the living-room floor with her and play. I recommend this goal highly! It leads to so many other things: more time with your children, more time for yourself, and all sorts of good stuff.”

Your sister goal can accompany anything physical you’ve already decided upon. Examples include making time for yourself daily, growing your career, building relationships, or even meditating for 10 minutes a day. Make it matter to you!

Reward Yourself Along the Way

There’s a good reason that the gym in March looks so different than it does in January. Keeping up this lifestyle is hard work! And you definitely deserve major props if you’re able to keep it up—particularly if it hasn’t been the norm for you. So don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back.

“Taking the time to reward yourself and acknowledge your accomplishments will build better self-confidence and encourage future goal setting,” says DeLeon. “When deciding on a reward, ask yourself what motivates you. What do you want most, and what will help you surpass your goals?”

Scale your reward to the goal achieved. A few ideas include having a date night to your favorite restaurant for a cheat meal after losing 5 pounds, or a new pair of running shoes after four consistent weeks of training. For the larger goals reached, consider a photo shoot!

“I know it’s daunting, but few people regret it afterward,” says DeLeon. “It gives you something to look forward to as well as something to look back on and remember why you worked so hard.”

Perform Damage Control

Missed workouts, questionable meals, crazy weeks—these things happen! That’s not going to change. Build this expectation into your plan, and give yourself a little cushion of time—not to mention compassion—when life tries to derail your plans.

“It’s easy to get discouraged when your expectations aren’t met as quickly as you want them to be,” says Miller. “The key is to keep it from creating doubt about whether you reach your goal. As long as you can learn to put out the big fires, you’ll still get there—no matter how long it takes!”

You started this plan with the big picture, so let’s go back there. A few days or weeks of unexpected delay is really nothing when you consider a lifetime of health and happiness. It’s just a speedbump.

“We all make bad choices and have bad things happen. Be gentle and forgiving with yourself,” says Hilgenberg. “When you fall, get up, dust yourself off, and keep going!”

Original article: A Woman’s Guide to Setting “Smart” Goals