How Yoga Helps Burn Fat

Yoga is not as easy or simple and static as many think. It is actually physically demanding and after spending 30 to 60 minutes striking and locking different yoga poses, you will realize this. Not only that, but there are different forms of yoga that exist too – some are more intense than others.

What is more important in regards to achieving weight loss with yoga exercises is what particular positions you are performing.

Here are a few examples of some great fat burning yoga poses:

The Cobra

This is one of the easiest and most effective yoga poses that exist. It not only aids with weight loss, but it helps to tighten the abdominal and buttocks muscles as well. Tightening of the mid-section also contributes towards that thinner look that you may be shooting for.

Lie down with your face to the ground. Put your hands onto your shoulders with your palms facing down and spread your fingers apart from each other. Then, begin pressing through your hands, bringing your head up, and then let your chest and upper back follow. This lift will take your body off the mat. While performing this movement, you should be looking ahead and your shoulder blades should be kept low and back. You will then want to push the shoulders back and let the stretch transmit evenly all throughout your spine.

You just have to take a few deep breathes when performing this pose and then you can return to the beginning position, where you lie face down on the ground.

The Bow

This one is a bit harder to pull off, but it can seriously help with weight loss and it helps to tone the abs, arms, and legs.

Lie on your belly and create a bend in your knees while reaching past them and grabbing your feet. Breathe your stomach in and stretch the feet upward, while simultaneously lifting the upper part of your body. Make sure that while doing this your shoulder blades are kept low and back.

Lock this pose in and take some deep breathes before going back to your relaxed starting position.

Other Poses

These are just two of the many effective yoga poses that exist. Take a look at this list of yoga exercises to find out about more poses that will help you with losing weight and shrinking down your mid-section, as well as strengthening your body and mind.


Healthy Summer Smoothies That Taste Great

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You already know the delicious, frosty, sweetness of a fruit smoothie, but you pass it up because you don’t want to undo all the hard work you’ve done to lose weight and keep your calories under control. Healthy smoothies don’t always taste good. Wouldn’t it be great to have the best of both worlds? You can have a delicious smoothie that is also good for you if you mix the right ingredients. You can’t go wrong with fresh fruit, raw vegetables, and berries blended to a smooth, cold, refreshing drink. Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find your favorite healthy smoothie.

Strawberries and bananas always go well together. The sweet tangy flavor of the strawberry is complimented by the delicious smoothness of the banana. You won’t have to add any sugar to enjoy a sweet treat if you combine these two fruits. Fill your blender with one banana, one cup of ice, a cup of 1 percent or low-fat milk, half a dozen sliced strawberries and top it off with a few tablespoons of low-fat plain yogurt. Blend until all the ingredients are mixed to a smooth texture. Pour it in a tall glass and enjoy!

Berry lovers will really enjoy a mixed berry smoothie made from blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. Blend with ice, low-fat yogurt, some spinach leaves and 1 percent milk for a low-calorie, high fiber, vitamin packed super drink. Mix different berries and try different combinations of berries until you find just the right combination to stimulate your taste buds and satisfy your berry craving.

If you are concerned about getting enough protein from your smoothie, you may consider adding a spoonful of peanut butter, almond butter, or your favorite protein or whole food powder to your smoothie mixture. Use all natural or organic peanut or almond butter, if you can find it. Of course, if you have nut allergies, you should not use any product that contains peanuts. Opt instead for fruits and vegetables that are higher in protein, such as watercress or apricots, currants or prunes. These fruits and vegetables add additional fiber to your diet as well as protein.

A healthy smoothie made with fresh fruits and low-fat yogurt is delicious as is, or you can add a few of your favorite veggies to punch up the vitamins and minerals. Add the juice of some raw carrots and celery for extra fiber and vitamins without adding too many calories. Carrots, spinach leaves, and celery will enhance the flavor of the fruits without overpowering them.



How Volunteering Can Help You Lose Weight and Get Healthier

Photo credit: Win Henderson (This image is from the FEMA Photo Library.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself and others is to volunteer. Volunteering not only helps others, but also gives you a sense of community and accomplishment. If you are having difficulty finding ways to stay busy or get more exercise, volunteering is one way to increase your activity level. Volunteering also helps boost your self-esteem, which can have a positive effect on your weight-loss efforts.

Working in a food pantry is an ideal way to squeeze in some strength training while helping the less fortunate. You will get plenty of exercise walking from place to place collecting donations. Someone has to unload the trucks, stock the shelves and help carry heavy bags of food. You can get a good workout lifting cans of food from boxes to shelves, and then from shelves to bags for those who utilize the pantry. You will feel good about yourself after working in the food pantry, because you helped provide a much-needed community service, as well as working up a sweat.

Join a walk-a-thon to help raise money for your favorite charity. Every year, organizations dedicated to finding a cure for cancer, diabetes, or to raise money for homeless or veterans, use the walk-a-thon to help raise money. These walks often require you to find sponsors who will donate a sum for every mile you walk. Many walk-a-thons can be up to 5 miles long, so do the best you can and don’t push yourself beyond your limit. Try to get ready for the big day by walking every day until you can go the distance.

Volunteer to a kids’ sports program. Many communities provide summer sports programs for children. These programs almost always need volunteers. Parents often volunteer to carry balls and other sports equipment, participate as coaches and umpires, or stand in the concession stands and sell refreshments. As long as you aren’t sneaking the popcorn and soda, working concession will keep you busy and physically active for a couple of hours. You will be surprised at the number of calories you can burn just by passing out popcorn, peanuts and drinks in the stands.

Volunteer to collect names for a petition for your favorite charity or cause. Collecting signatures requires you to walk from door to door or from business to business to get those signatures. You can cover a lot of ground by walking for an hour every day after work or on a Saturday. You can also get a good workout by volunteering to set up and tear down displays at job fairs and fundraising booths at local events. Volunteering not only benefits your body, it can benefit your heart and mind too.


Juicing Your Way to Weight Loss

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It seems that each new day brings a new weight-loss fad, and you can usually spot the fakes. They promote a pill, a powder or a belt that promises rapid weight loss without actually changing your diet or your lifestyle. Some of these fads may result in some weight loss in the short term, but you will most likely re-gain the weight you lost and then some more. You have to change your diet, get more exercise and drink healthier beverages if you want to lose weight and keep it off. Eating fresh vegetables and fruits is one way to change your diet to promote weight loss. If raw vegetables are unappetizing to you, consider getting more veggies in your diet by juicing. Juicing vegetables and fruits is one way to get all the benefits of raw, whole foods.

Juicing is not just squeezing fruit juice into a glass. A juicer blends raw fruits and vegetables into a cool, smooth drink that tastes great. Even if you don’t like vegetables, such as kale, spinach, or broccoli, you can combine these healthy greens with bananas, strawberries and apples for a delicious, refreshing and healthy drink.

Drinking your fruits and vegetables can help you to get more fiber and nutrients into your diet. Raw fruits and vegetables are the best way to get the nutrients, trace minerals and antioxidants your body needs to stay healthy. The raw fiber in fresh fruits and vegetables can help you feel full so that you do not overeat. Fiber also helps to regulate your digestive system and stimulate your metabolism for additional weight loss.

Invest in a high quality juicer for the best juicing. You don’t want your juice to be lumpy or contain chunks of raw vegetables. Find one that produces a smooth textured juice. Try juicing only the fruits and vegetables that you already love if you are new to juicing. Start with some sweet red apples, strawberries and a banana. You can blend these fruits with a cup of ice for a refreshing smoothie. Mix and match sweet fruits to find your favorite combination. Once you settle on a favorite flavor, add one green vegetable, such as a few kale or spinach leaves or one carrot. The rich flavor of the blended fruits will cover the taste of the carrot, spinach and kale, but you will still get all the benefits of these nutrient-rich vegetables.

Juice whole, unpeeled vegetables and fruit. Much of the taste and many of the nutrients are found in the skin. Replace your bacon, eggs and white toast with butter and enjoy a breakfast juice instead. Drinking juiced vegetables and fruits on an empty stomach will help you feel full faster and will keep you from getting hungry for hours. Take a thermos of juice to work for your lunch instead of a fast food burger. Your body will get the nutrients and energy it needs without the empty calories and bad carbohydrates found in most fast food. Even people who refuse to eat vegetables will enjoy a cold, fresh glass of juiced fruits and veggies.


Feel Better With These Five Healthy Foods

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With so many food choices, how do you know whether the foods you are eating are not only contributing to your nutritional needs, but are also playing a role in how you feel? The food you eat has a direct impact on your health. Some foods have specific health benefits, such as improving your skin and hair or helping ease digestive problems. Many of the foods you eat every day not only fuel your body, they help to alleviate health conditions. Fresh foods with few or no preservatives are best for your body. There are lots of choices, but here are five delicious foods that can help improve your health.

Chicken is a healthy food that contains not only protein but a number of essential vitamins and trace elements. Chicken is a good source of the B vitamins, B12, B6, and B3. People who have low energy despite eating carbohydrates may not be getting enough vitamin B. Vitamin B doesn’t give you energy, but helps your body extract energy from the carbohydrates and protein that you eat. In addition to helping your body extract energy from carbs, the nutrients in chicken can help your body maintain healthy red blood cells and avoid anemia.

How many times did your mother tell you to eat your broccoli? There’s a good reason she encouraged you to eat green foods, such as broccoli and spinach. Broccoli and spinach are rich in iron, and vitamins A, C, and vitamin E. These vitamins help improve blood health and boost your immune system. Raw vegetables provide the best source of these nutrients, but you can benefit from cooked vegetables too. Avoid overcooking vegetables. Overcooking can break down the nutrients making them unusable by your cells. Steaming vegetables brings out the flavor without destroying important nutrients.

Bananas are quite possibly the most perfect snack. They are naturally sweet, smooth in texture and rich in vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 affects mood and can help you have a sense of well-being. Bananas are great alone, in fruit salads or in smoothies and shakes. Try some sliced bananas in a bowl of plain low-fat yogurt. Slice up some bananas on whole grain cereal with low-fat milk for a delicious, nutritious breakfast or anytime snack. The natural sugar in bananas also boosts your energy level.

Those with a sweet tooth will be happy to hear that dark chocolate has health benefits besides improving mood and satisfying a sugar craving. Tryptophan and magnesium are beneficial trace elements found in dark chocolate that can help you feel calm and improve your mood. Dark chocolate can help to lower cholesterol, which reduces your risk of developing heart disease and coronary artery disease.

You have probably heard a lot about the benefits of eating whole grains. It’s all true. Whole grains, such as whole wheat and oats, contain a trace element called selenium, which can help alleviate the symptoms associated with depression. They are also loaded with fiber to help you feel fuller for longer and improve digestion. Switching from processed flours to whole grains does not mean you will be eating cardboard. Whole grains breads and muffins are delicious alone or with natural fruit spreads.



10 Ideas to Get Your Family Active and Moving

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If you want to get your family active and moving, sometimes coming at them with just one idea and forcing it upon them is not a great way to start. People always like when they are given choices. When it comes to family, having more choices will more than likely equate to having more success.

1. Take your entire family’s personality into consideration.

There may be an uneven number of males as compared to females in your family and you need to take gender, personal preference, and opinions into account. Before descending upon them with your new-found desire to become an active family, think about everyone’s individual needs and desires.

2. Have a family meeting.

Do not try to take this upon yourself because if you do, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Try to picture the conversation beforehand and have some answers ready for any complaints or negativity.

3. Let everyone take responsibility for their own choices.

Let everyone in your family come to the table with their own choice of activity.

4. Take a vote.

Once the initial conversations are over, take a vote on the most popular family activity, and begin planning.

5. Try a little bit of everything.

Wouldn’t it be fun to try each family member’s idea or activity on a rotating basis? Here are some ideas:

  • You could go bowling every Thursday night, for example, for one month.
  • Alternate the following month with a round of volleyball at the beach every Saturday.
  • For the bicycle lovers, choose bicycling every Sunday over the summer. Bicycling is a great family outing and gets you and your family active and moving willingly.

6. Do not be afraid to try something new.

If one of your family members suggests ice skating and you are the only one who does not know how – well, maybe it is time to learn. You can take a lesson or two while they skate circles around you.

7. Suggest a camping trip.

Put forward this idea while unwittingly knowing that you are going to get your family active and moving by incorporating a nice mountain hike into that trip. Let them be involved in the purchase of equipment.

8. Show that you are enthusiastic and committed.

By showing and keeping your enthusiasm, you will keep the positive energy alive. While they may not have a say in the matter of whether or not they will stay active and moving, they do have a say in what they do. Once the momentum starts rolling, it will be hard to stop.

9. Follow up.

By having regular meetings incorporating the theme of family fitness, you will set the bar high by letting your family know that this is an ongoing commitment to family fitness and not just a fad.

10. Join a club.

By joining a club that offers family activities with something for everyone, you offer everyone the chance to exercise together in the same facility while exercising apart. It is still a fine way to incorporate family activity.


Fun Family Activities That Get You Fit

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Summer is here and it’s time for holiday family gatherings and fun! Family vacations, weekend getaways or a day trip to the beach with the kids are great opportunities to enjoy family and get some exercise at the same time. Park the car and bike to the park. After the barbecue enjoy some fun games in the back yard with the whole family to burn off those extra calories. This Memorial Day weekend, get the whole family involved in fun fitness.

Have a hula-hoop contest! The kids will love the competition and you will love what hula-hooping does for your abdominal muscles and thighs. Hula-hooping engages your entire mid-section and  your legs. On the count of three everyone start hooping! The person who can hoop the longest wins. You can burn more than 100 calories in just 10 minutes of hula-hooping. Adults will find hula-hooping easier if they use a large hoop. A weighted hoop is even easier to use.

Jumping rope is another way the whole family can have fun and get fit. You and your kids can have a contest to see who can jump rope the longest or the fastest. Use two long ropes with one family member at each end throwing the rope and play double-dutch. Select two or three different types of jumping rope, such as jumping on one foot or double jumps. You kids will have fun and you will burn as many calories as running one mile.

Running is one of the best ways to get fit and burn calories. Why not make it a game? The whole family can play a game of tag on the beach, at the park or in the back yard. Freeze tag is a favorite among children. One person is “it” and chases the others trying to tag them. If you get tagged, you have to stop running, or “freeze,” until another player tags  you again. The child who is “it” wins the game when everyone is frozen. Make it a team sport by several “its” chasing and tagging others.

Staying home this holiday weekend? Play some one-on-one basketball or a game of HORSE in the driveway. Each player gets a shot from the free-throw line. Every time a player makes a basket, he or she gets one letter of the word HORSE. Keep score with sidewalk chalk. If you want a more vigorous workout, you can burn as many as 200 calories in a  half hour playing basketball. Basketball is a high-impact exercise that helps build bones and muscle too. Make sure you warm-up before and cool-down after the game to reduce your risk of a sprained ankle or pulled muscle. Cool off with fruit juice and water to re-energize your body after a vigorous game.

Taking long walks, swimming, biking and playing volleyball at the beach are great ways to spend a summer weekend or holiday while keeping fit. You will not only build muscle and strong bones, you’ll strengthen your relationship with your family and kids.



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