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Vima Fitness Blog

21 Sep


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The Surprising Health Benefits of Cycling

September 21, 2015 | By | No Comments

Thinking of buying a new bike? Go ahead! According to health experts, cycling is one of the best ways to stay fit and get your daily dose of exercise. This fun yet challenging activity relieves stress and lifts your mood, promotes cardiovascular health, and burns fat. It also lowers your risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity.

Cycling for Health and Fitness

Cycling is a low impact activity that benefits people of all ages. Compared to running and other sports, it’s mild on your joints and doesn’t require any special skills. Even those with back or knee pain can ride a bike. This form of exercise helps reduce lower back pain, strengthens the bones, and improves your fitness level.

Riding a bike makes you fitter, leaner, and more agile. Even those who haven’t been working out for years can start cycling. The best part is that you can enjoy this activity almost anywhere, at any time of the year. All you need is a bike, a helmet, and some comfortable clothes. Over time, cycling improves muscle tone, builds stamina, and boosts your endurance.

Your Brain on Bicycling

The health benefits of cycling go beyond a fit body and increased energy. This low impact exercise is good for your brain too. Studies have found that cycling wards off depression and anxiety, melts away stress, and sharpens your thinking. It also promotes the formation of new brain cells and improves problem solving skills.

People who ride a bike regularly are able to focus better at work and retain information with greater ease than those with a sedentary lifestyle. This basic form of exercise keeps your brain sharp and boosts memory while enhancing your body’s ability to handle stress. It can even banish the blues and reduce mood swings by increasing serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. So, are you ready for a ride?

17 Sep


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How to Stop Food Cravings Naturally

September 17, 2015 | By | No Comments

Are you constantly craving chocolate? Do you feel the urge to eat salty foods? Statistics show that 91 percent of women are dealing with strong food cravings at any given time. Men have cravings too. Your all-consuming desire for cookies can ruin your diet as well as your waistline. Fortunately, there are ways to stop food cravings naturally without drugs or supplements.

Calm Down

Sugar cravings are often a sign of stress. When you’re anxious or stressed out, your body releases cortisol. This hormone signals the brain to seek out rewards. As a result, you start craving sweets. Sugar also increases serotonin production, causing addiction. Serotonin is a feel-good hormone that lifts your mood. By avoiding stress, your sugar cravings will diminish.

Reach for Fruit

Fruit is a healthier alternative to sweets. If you crave sugar regularly, keep some fruits at hand. However, you still need to watch your portions. Too much fruit can cause weight gain too. If possible, choose low sugar fruit like berries, avocado, oranges, and grapefruit.

Consider What Your Body Needs

Food cravings may also indicate nutrient deficiencies. For example, a strong taste for chocolate could be hint that you’re low on magnesium. If you’re craving meat, you need more iron in your diet.

Avoid Your Triggers

Most people crave the foods they consume regularly. By changing your eating habits, you can curb your old cravings and reinforce new ones. For instance, if you eat potato chips once a week, replace them with raw almonds. After a few weeks, you’ll crave nuts instead of chips. Most nuts, including almonds, are packed with healthy fats, protein, and fiber, while potato chips have little or no nutrients.

Distract Yourself

Research shows that most cravings last about 10 minutes. Next time you feel the urge to eat ice cream, call a friend or go for a walk. Listening to music, working out, and watching TV can help too. Keep yourself busy for 10-15 minutes to make your cravings go away.

14 Sep


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Top 5 Foods That Prevent You from Losing Weight

September 14, 2015 | By | No Comments

Did you know that diet foods can make you fat? The truth is that even the healthiest foods can lead to weight gain when consumed in excess. However, some products should be avoided entirely. These include bagels, doughnuts, fries, refined pasta, high fructose corn syrup and much more. Diet foods aren’t safe either. Most times, they contain hydrogenated fats and hidden sugars that can ruin your health. So, here are top five foods that prevent you from losing weight:

High-Fiber Snack Bars

Most health stores sell high-fiber snacks bars that are supposed to improve digestion and boost overall health. However, these products are anything but healthy. That’s because they usually contain large amounts of sugar in the form of dextrose, fructose, corn syrup, honey, or dried fruit. Some have over 500 calories per serving, which is quite a lot. If you need more fiber in your diet, eat fresh fruit and vegetables daily.

Breakfast Cereals

Contrary to popular belief, breakfast cereals and whole grains are completely different things. Cereals are highly processed and contain tons of sugar, sweeteners, and artificial flavors. They also lack fiber and nutrients. Whole grains, on the other hand, are minimally processed and deliver large amounts of fiber, complex carbs, calcium, magnesium, and vitamins.

Frozen Dinners

Despite their convenience, frozen dinners are a terrible choice for any dieter. Not only they contain additives and preservatives, but are made with fattening ingredients like margarine, canola oil, sugar, and white flour. Some provide more than 1,000 calories per serving.

Fried Foods

Frying increases the glycemic index of food and produces dangerous toxins. If you care about your health, avoid fried foods altogether. French fries, potato chips, fried eggs, onion rings, chicken nuggets and other fried products affect digestion, cause acid reflux, and lead to weight gain.

Salad Dressings

The salad dressings available in stores are loaded with oil, salt, high fructose corn syrup, glucose, and flavorings. These products can turn the healthiest salad into a calorie bomb. Next time you make a salad, create your own dressing using olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, yogurt, chilies and other healthy ingredients.

11 Sep


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Is HIIT Better Than Steady-State Cardio?

September 11, 2015 | By | No Comments

High intensity interval training (HIIT) has emerged as one of the most popular workout methods available today. From celebrities to fitness gurus and athletes, everyone is praising the health benefits of HIIT. According to researchers, this form of exercise increases metabolism, preserves muscle, and burns fat. Compared to regular cardio, it produces better results in less time.

What Makes HIIT So Effective

This workout method alternates shorts, intense bursts of exercise with low intensity exercise. It can be applied to most activities, such as running, sprinting, treadmill walking, stair climbing, and even strength training. For example, you can run fast for 30 seconds, walk for 60 seconds, and then run for another 30 seconds. A typical HIIT workout can last anywhere from three minutes to 20 minutes.

Studies have found that high intensity interval training burns more calories per minute than any other workout method. It also improves insulin sensitivity, increases aerobic capacity, and helps build lean muscle. The best part is that you’ll get dramatic results without spending more time in the gym.

HIIT vs. Steady State Cardio

HIIT is considered a better alternative to steady state cardio due to its ability to preserve muscle and speed up metabolism. When done in excess, regular cardio can even decrease your metabolism and raise stress hormone levels, leading to weight gain. It also causes muscle loss and puts stress on your joints. High intensity interval training does exactly the opposite.

Additionally, this training method offers athletes and experienced lifters a new challenge. Whether you’re new to exercise or have years of practice behind your back, you can benefit from HIIT. For best results, do three weekly workouts. Mix HIIT with strength training to shed fat and gain lean muscle. Don’t forget to eat clean and watch your portions. Not even the best workout routine can compensate for poor nutrition.

08 Sep


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3 Proven Tips to Make Your Diet Work

September 8, 2015 | By | No Comments

Ever wonder why your diet doesn’t work? Do you eat clean and stick to your calorie goals, but your efforts are in vain? Most people follow cookie cutter diets with little or no results. However, these weight loss plans rarely work. It’s important to understand that there is no-one-size-fits-all diet.

The weight loss plans you see in magazine and on the Internet may work for some people, but this doesn’t mean they are good for you. For example, a 200-pound woman has different nutritional needs than a 150-pound girl with a history of bulimia or anorexia.

So, here are a few tips to make your diet work:

Customize Your Diet

If you can’t afford to see a nutritionist, use an existing diet with proven benefits. A good example is the Mediterranean diet or the ketogenic diet. There are thousands of websites and blogs that provide sample meal plans to help you out. Your job is to customize each meal plan according to your goals. For instance, if you’re lactose intolerant, replace dairy with soy products. Reduce or increase portions based on your weight and calorie goals. If you don’t take breakfast, have an extra snack later in the day.

Use Your Carbs Wisely

Some people are more sensitive to carbs than others. Your best bet is to eat carbs before and after working out. This way, your body will use sugar to fuel your muscles instead of storing it as fat. If you crave cake or ice cream, enjoy it right after your workout. Stick to protein and healthy fats throughout the day.

Eat Filling, Low-Calorie Foods

Are you constantly hungry? Do you feel the need to eat all the time? If so, choose low calorie foods that fill you up quickly. Fat-free yogurt, soup, celery, cucumbers, and protein shakes are a good choice. Soup has only a few calories, so there are no restrictions on how much you can eat. These foods fit into most diets and promote weight loss.

08 Sep


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How to Speed Up Your Metabolism Naturally

September 8, 2015 | By | No Comments

Stress, poor nutrition, fad diets and other factors affect your metabolism, leading to weight gain. A slow metabolism can stop you from losing fat and reaching your fitness goals. It may also affect your digestion, cause tiredness and fatigue, and drain your energy. Fortunately, there are ways to increase your metabolic rate without taking pills and supplements. Certain foods and exercises, proper sleep, and frequent meals can speed up your metabolism naturally.

Train at High Intensity

High-intensity training produces a bigger, longer rise in metabolic rate than steady state cardio. The same goes for weight lifting. The more intense your workout, the more calories you burn. For best results, you can either do HIIT or alternate biking, fast running, or rowing with strength exercises.

Increase Your Protein Intake

Protein requires over 25 percent more energy to digest than carbs and fats. By eating high-protein foods, you’ll burn more calories throughout the day. Your diet should include poultry, lean meat, fish, egg whites, raw nuts, and seeds. Legumes contain small amounts of protein too.

Get More Sleep

Recent studies have found that poor sleep may decrease metabolism, causing your body to store more calories from food. At the same time, it increases cortisol levels, which leads to weight gain and sugar cravings. If you want to keep your metabolism high, sleep at least eight hours a night.

Lift Weights

The amount of muscle you carry has a direct impact on your metabolism. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body needs. Weight training is the best way to build lean muscle, so don’t be afraid to pump iron. Start with lighter weights and increase the load gradually. Do multi-joint exercises that work your whole body, such as pull-ups, squats, shoulder press, chest press, lunges, and rows. Use barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells to stimulate muscle growth and burn fat.

04 Sep


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Improve Your Workouts in 4 Steps

September 4, 2015 | By | No Comments

Have you been working out for a few months or years? Want to make your routine more intense and get better results? Then you should reassess your diet and fitness plan. Even the smallest changes in your routine can lead to greater muscle and strength gains. What you eat affects your results too, so it’s important to determine your daily macronutrient ratios and plan your diet accordingly. Here are four steps to improve your workouts and build a better body:

Avoid Overtraining

As you progress, your strength and endurance will increase. Over time, you’ll find yourself working out harder for longer periods of time. However, this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Too much exercise can lead to muscle loss, poor immunity, increased stress hormone levels, and injuries. A typical workout shouldn’t exceed 45-50 minutes. Keep your cardio sessions under 40 minutes.

Superset Strength and Cardio

Another simple way to make your workouts more challenging is to superset strength and cardio exercises. Instead of taking breaks between sets, do jumping jacks, burpees, push-ups, sprints and other moves that elevate your heart rate. This technique will boost your metabolism and shock your muscles into growth.

Fuel Your Body

Protein shakes, glutamine, amino acids, and quality food promote muscle and repair. If you’re on a tight budget, stick to the basics. Eat according to your goals and use whey protein to supplement your diet. Whey protein powder aids in digestion, promotes fat loss, and improves recovery. It may also possess anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

Roll it Out

If you work out five or six times a week, you might not be able to recover fully between sessions. This can affect your performance and reduce your gains. To speed up recovery, use foam rolling. Also known as myofascial self release, this massage technique relieves tension in your bones and muscles, improves joint mobility, and eases stress.

03 Sep


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Painless Ways to Cut Calories

September 3, 2015 | By | No Comments

Most dieters exceed their calorie goals each day without even being aware of it. Some eat the wrong foods or indulge in high-calorie treats, while others overestimate their nutritional needs. Smart swaps can help cut calories and lower your risk of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Simple lifestyle changes, such as drinking more water and cutting back on salt, can slim you down and boost your health. Check out these painless ways to cut calories and shed those extra pounds:

Eat High-Water Foods

Cucumbers, radishes, celery, lettuce, and green leafy vegetables are high in water and dietary fiber, keeping you full longer. They also take more time to chew and suppress your appetite. Eat your veggies along with chicken breast or fish, add some flax seeds, and enjoy every bite.

Use Smaller Plates

Researchers have found that using smaller plates can lead to a 22 percent decrease in calories. Shifting from 12-inch plates to 10-inch plates is a simple yet effective way to cut calories. The same portion looks bigger when you see it on a small plate.

Lighten the Foods You Love

One of the best ways to cut calories effortlessly is to choose lower calorie versions of your favorite foods. If you love chocolate, go for dark varieties with at least 75 percent cocoa. Choose low fat yogurt instead of regular yogurt, whole grain bread instead of white bread, and cottage cheese instead of mozzarella. Dieters who love soda and fruit juices can replace them with fruit-infused water and sugar free lemonade.

Make Smart Food Swaps

If you cook your own meals, replace high-calorie ingredients with healthier alternatives. Coconut oil is a great substitute for shortening. Greek yogurt can successfully replace mayonnaise and salad dressings. Egg whites are much lower in calories than whole eggs. Air-popped popcorn can substitute potato chips and other salty snacks.

01 Sep


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5 Helpful Tips to Score Your Best Body

September 1, 2015 | By | No Comments

Looking to improve your workouts and make the most out of your gym time? By making a few small changes to your routine, you’ll get better results in less time. Simple things, such as changing your grip and doing supersets, can take your workouts to a whole new level. Here are some tips to help you look better, move faster, and become stronger:

Alternate Cardio and Strength Days

Instead of doing cardio before or after strength training, schedule your cardio and weight lofting sessions on different days. This way, you’ll have more energy for your strength training sessions and maximize your cardio workouts. Many athletes and fitness models do cardio in the morning and lift weights in the evening, or vice versa. It all comes down to your goals and individual needs.

Skip the Machines

Gym machines can help prevent injuries and maintain proper form when working out. However, free weights recruit more muscle fibers and burn more calories. They also work your core and back muscles more effectively, leading to better gains. Skip the machines for a month or so, use dumbbells and barbells, and try new exercises.

Add Instability

Have you ever used a stability ball, a wobble board, or TRX? These accessories require stability and balance, which helps stimulate more muscles. Next time you work out, do squats and crunches on a BOSU ball.

Train Unilaterally

Split squats, one-leg squats, single-arm push-ups, lunges and other similar exercises force each arm or leg to work harder. These moves can improve your balance and coordination, strengthen your core, and promote muscle growth. They can also help you break through plateaus and build overall strength.

Try Sprinting Intervals

Sprint training is one of the best cardio workouts out there. It also builds strength in your lower body and helps preserve muscle while burning fat. If you don’t train your legs regularly, sprinting is a great alternative to leg exercises. It’s a full body workout that can make you faster, leaner, and more agile.

26 Aug


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Stay Motivated to Reach Your Fitness Goals

August 26, 2015 | By | No Comments

Have you lost your motivation to work out? Do you find it hard to get to the gym and start exercising? If so, it’s time to change your approach. Simple things, such as setting fitness goals, buying a new pair of sneakers, or changing your workout plan, can boost your motivation. Even the most enthusiastic gym buffs hit plateaus and feel like giving up in some point in time. The key to overcoming boredom is to keep your workouts fun and set meaningful goals.

So, here are some useful tips on how to stay motivated to reach your fitness goals and overcome plateaus:

Set Realistic Goals

The first step is to decide why you want to work out or start a new diet in the first place. Is it because you carry a few extra pounds? Or maybe you wish to build muscle and get leaner at the same time? Do you want to improve your health and stay fit year round? Write down your fitness and weight loss goals, and then come up with a plan to achieve them.

Make sure your objectives are clear, realistic, and attainable. Losing 20 pounds in two weeks is possible, but unlikely to happen. Unless you’re on a strict low calorie diet and work out every day, you won’t lose that much weight in such a short time. It’s not healthy either, so forget about it. However, losing 20 pounds in five weeks is a realistic goal. It’s important to set goals that are attainable and time-bound. You should be able to measure your progress and break your long term goals into smaller goals. Knowing that you have a deadline will keep you motivated.

Make a Plan and Stick to It

Once you know what your goals are, make a plan to achieve them. Consider your schedule as well as your budget and your availability. Take your workouts seriously and stick to your plan. Be in it for the long run. Stop making excuses to skip your workouts. After all, everyone has problems at work or at home, but they still find time for exercise.

Change Your Eating Habits

Not even the best exercise plan can compensate for bad eating. Regardless of how hard you work out, you’ll get little or no results if your diet is based on sugars, trans fats, and processed food. Commit yourself to eating healthy 80 percent of the time. Create a diet that meets your needs and preferences. Make sure your daily meals include lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and heart-healthy fats.

If you have a sweet tooth, replace sugar with stevia and choose nutritious snacks that satisfy your cravings. Dark chocolate, peanut butter, and whey protein should be on top of your list. Make your own protein bars, high protein cookies, and peanut butter sandwiches. Mix and match ingredients to prepare healthy treats that fit into your diet.

Monitor Your Progress

As you change your diet and exercise routine, take before and after photos to document your progress. Measure your waist, hips, arms, back, and thighs, weigh yourself once a week and keep a workout diary. Write down what you eat, what exercises you do, and how often hit the gym. This will make it easier to track your results and adjust your workouts along the way.

Don’t rely too much on the scale. Even though it’s recommended to weigh yourself regularly, the results might not reflect your progress. For example, if you lose fat and build muscle, your weight may remain the same or even go up. For more accurate results, use skinfold calipers or a body scale that shows how much muscle, water, and fat you carry.