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Why Can’t I Achieve My Fitness Goals?

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How many times have you heard someone, or yourself, make a certain fitness goal during New Years? We have all been guilty in one way or another claiming we will lose 10 pounds within the next week or that we will quit eating fast food. There’s nothing wrong with declaring these goals, except that if you do indeed lose 10 pounds in a week, you should probably see a physician. Most people can stay consistent for the first month or so, but by February they end up suddenly unmotivated from the lack of results and stop attempting all at once.

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The problem here is lack of consistency. I am sure we can all agree that if people did go to the gym for the entire year instead of the first month they would be closer to their fitness goals. The question is how?  

The first part of this milestone is to set your personal fitness goal that is feasible. The hard part is sticking through your promises because 73%  of people who set resolutions end up giving up on them. It is easy to get motivated initially, however, motivation is usually temporary. The key trick to accomplishing any task in life is consistency.

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One of the best ways to stay consistent with your fitness goals is to do something you actually enjoy. If your goal is to be more active or start going to the gym, then begin by experimenting with different training styles that can help you find what it is you enjoy doing. For example, if you take pleasure in doing weight lifting over cardio activity,  you are way more likely to remain consistent with it. You won’t see the activity as tedious and instead it will be something you look forward to.

Photo by Mattia Cioni on Unsplash         

There are so many options out there for you to try. To stay active, you can try a new sport, go to the gym, or even walk for 30 minutes a day. Even within the gym, there are a variety of different options. You can lift like a bodybuilder, Olympic weightlifter, powerlifter, etc. It can be overwhelming at first with so many options, but the best thing to do is pick something you think you may be interested in, and then try it out. Stick with whatever you choose for a while and then you’ll have a better idea of how much you like to do this activity. Overall, it is about having fun while trying to reach your fitness goals. If you can do that, you’ll find yourself being consistent with this lifestyle without even realizing it.

 

Another great way to stay consistent with your fitness goals is to have a training partner. A training partner can help keep you accountable and even make training more enjoyable. Training partners can also push you during workouts, and together you can even have some friendly competition. The key is to pick the right training partner. Choose someone with similar goals and someone you believe will be as consistent as you want to be. Finding the right training partner may not always be easy to do, but it can be a great way to help you stay consistent with your fitness goals. 

What are some other ways to stay consistent with your fitness or lifestyle goals? Comment below!

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Fitness/ Diet

The Next Super-Drink: Coconut Water

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When we think of tropical fruits, the first fruit that comes to most people’s mind is coconut. While the oil and chunks of the fruit are often used for cooking, the water, in recent times, has gained significant attention for containing a multitude of health benefits.

The water comes from coconuts that are about 5-7 months old and has been used to cure several ailments. The top three advantages of drinking coconut water is that it has high amounts of electrolytes, high levels of potassium, and reduces fat levels. Read more below!

1. Has High Amount of Electrolytes

Instead of using Gatorade for your next sports drink, consider drinking coconut water because it contains natural electrolytes that can help restore fluids after a long, arduous exercise.

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Electrolytes help us maintain blood volume, heart health, and prevent dehydration. This, in return helps us reduce stress, fatigue, and stimulates muscle relaxation.

2. High Levels of Potassium

When we think of intaking a daily healthy level of potassium, people assume a banana is the easiest choice. In fact, a banana contains only 440 milligrams of potassium whereas coconut water contains 660 milligrams of potassium.

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This super drink water has more than ten times of potassium compared to other sports drinks! Potassium is vital to our bodies because it restores fluid and electrolyte balance in the body, preventing hypokalemia or too little potassium in the body.

This greatly affects cardiovascular health because a certain amount of potassium intake reduces the likelihood of contracting a stroke. Essentially, coconut water helps us maintain optimal blood pressure and is therefore extremely heart healthy.

3. Helps Lower Fat Levels

Foods that are high in fiber are predominantly utilized to help lower fat. Some of these healthy fat foods are oatmeal, fish, avocado, and olive oil. But did we forget to mention another factor of coconut water is that it has super fat-lowering effects?

Researchers conducted a study in which rats consumed coconut water and were found to have less likely had a heart attack. The coconut water decreased the rat’s cholesterol levels, specifically the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) found in the heart.

LDL is considered to be the bad cholesterol because a buildup of this lipoprotein would increase the cholesterol in your arteries. Therefore, coconut water can have the same effect on humans and reduce our LDL levels.

Additionally, consumption of coconut water reduces triglycerides, which are a type of fat found in the bloodstream that increases the risk of heart disease. Reducing LDL levels and triglycerides are both important in the weight loss process.

With all of these health benefits, coconut water is sure to be the next super-drink that can significantly impact human health. Why consume all these other food when coconut water contains these top health benefits and more!

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My 26.21 Mile Accomplishment

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I never expected to run a complete marathon. Running a marathon may sound like something only elite athletes or future Olympians would do. It just didn’t seem plausible for me to run for hours straight, especially since I grew up like anyone else. I was involved in cross country in high school, went to class, work, and lived my daily routine normally.  But this year on March 18, 2018, I ran my first ever marathon. After I graduated college, I wanted to take on a new challenge and decided to get back into running. I thought to myself that I might as well “go-big or go-home.” Next thing I knew, I signed myself up for the LA Marathon.

While I did run cross-country in my senior year of high school in 2011, long-distance running was still new to me. Cross-country races are 5 kilometers, or about 3.1 miles, while a marathon is 26.2 miles long. Not only that, but I didn’t keep up with running after high school since I got into weightlifting. As some may know, weightlifting builds muscle, which contradicts the effects that long distance cardio has to break down muscle and build endurance.

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Signing Up- May 12, 2017

The first thing I did to prepare for the marathon was to give myself ample time between when I signed up for the marathon and when it actually took place. I signed up for the LA Marathon on May 12, 2017. That gave me a little over 10 months to prepare. Yes, I could have just started my training early and signed up later on, but by signing up early, there was an added motivation because actually doing the marathon became “real”. It also helped that once you sign up and pay for the LA Marathon, there are no refunds, which means there was no backing out now!

When I signed up for the LA Marathon, I signed up for two other races as well: The Santa Monica Classic 10k (6.2 miles) on September 10th, 2017 and the Pasadena Half Marathon (13.1 miles) on January 21, 2018. This three-race series was known as the “Conqur La Challenge” that gave me a bundle deal and helped me pace my progress throughout my training cycle.

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The First Milestone- September 10, 2017

Now, I was almost ready for a 6.1-mile race by September.  As time passed, these smaller run checkpoints ensured that my mileage was going up. I felt stronger and better with each practice run I made and noticed my time was improving, a critical factor when training for a race this long.

Besides my mileage going up over time, my running frequency also went up over time. I was still going to the gym and lifting weights in addition to my running as part of an experiment I was doing. I wanted to see if I could maintain my strength and minimize muscle loss while still building running endurance. Most people focus on bodybuilding or stamina, but balancing both at the same time was a challenge I wanted to overcome.

Photo by Chanan Greenblatt on Unsplash

The Second Milestone- January 21, 2018

Next came the half-marathon in January. I prepared for this by signing up with one of my closest friends. While we may not have trained together very often, we did go to all three races together. Knowing I was going through this marathon experience with a friend helped out a lot. I had someone to talk about training with and had support during the actual races. This was another great source of motivation and was very important to my training.

As the official marathon date approached closer and closer, I cut back the number of times I went to the gym to lift weights and increased the number of times I ran. Before beginning my marathon training, I was going to the gym 4-5 times a week and only running once a week. I slowly changed that to going to the gym 3-4 times a week and running two to three times a week.

Photo by Pietro Rampazzo on Unsplash

Marathon Day- March 18, 2018

As the marathon approached, I, unfortunately, had a minor setback. I hurt my knee after running some very steep hills a few weeks before the marathon. I realized I had neglected incline training but overcorrected by running too steep of an incline. While it was a tough decision, I decided to take some time off before the marathon to let my knee heal. Looking back, this was the right decision because I had already prepared a substantial amount up to this point. One extra week of running was not going to make a difference, but if I had chosen not to take some time off, I could have hurt my knee worse.

When the big day finally approached my knee had gotten better, but I was still a bit nervous about the grueling run I was about to partake in. However, I just remembered to have fun with it and before I knew it, I crossed the finish line and conquered the 26.2 miles!

“I crossed the finish line and conquered the 26.2 miles!”

Training for the LA Marathon and then actually running it were such great experiences and I hope to run another marathon sometime again in the future. I will take what worked from training for this marathon as well as what I learned (such as preventing injuries) to have a better experience next time around. Finishing a marathon helped me feel like I can accomplish whatever I set my mind to and it is a challenge I would want to conquer again. I hope that by sharing my experience in how I prepared for my first marathon, others can take something away or be inspired to run their first marathon soon.

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The Truth About These Supposedly “Healthy” Foods

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When we go to a supermarket or a food junction, it is almost impossible to resist grabbing a snack. On a surface level, some common snacks and drinks seem to boast a multitude of health benefits or do not seem inherently unhealthy. However, upon closer analysis, there is more to these foods than meets the eye.

Here is a reference for different dietetic intakes assuming your diet is the standard 2,000 calories per day:

Max Sugar Intake (g) Max Fat Intake (g)
Men 37.5 44-78
Women 25 44-78

Acai Bowls

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“It has fruit so that means it’s healthy, right?”

For a long time, acai has been proclaimed as a superfood and was deemed to be the secret to weight loss. However, researchers from the NIH have stated that “no independent studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals that substantiate claims that acai supplements alone promote rapid weight loss.”

While acai berries do have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, the ingredients in the acai bowl itself have an extremely high sugar content, ranging from 21-62 grams of sugar. The acai fruit itself is healthy; however, the toppings that contribute to this sugar spike include granola, chocolate chip, and honey.

Most of the acai at health food shops put added sugar into the acai mixture. Despite these drawbacks, it is still possible to enjoy the bowl but a few changes are necessary.

Health Tip: Try to omit those sugary toppings, and as a substitute, add grapes, apples or pears to make the bowl sweeter. Also, if you can find unsweetened acai, you can blend it with a banana to retain that sweet taste. If you are craving a more savory taste, you can mix the acai with greek yogurt or peanut butter, which contain healthy fats.

Boba Milk Tea

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Boba is a common drink that is loved amongst millennials, and at first glance, the drink may not be perceived as unhealthy. However, boba is “boiled and saturated with sugar” and each ball has about 5-14 calories, meaning that “100 extra calories are added to an already calorically dense drink.”

Nutrition wise, boba does not contain any minerals or vitamins, so it is essentially empty calories. The sugar levels are extremely high, as one cup of boba can amount to 50 grams of sugar. Toppings such as jelly and pudding also contribute to high fat and sugar content.

Health Tip: Everyday boba consumption is not recommended; however, you can adjust the sweetness by adding less syrup, dilute the drink with more ice, and ask for less boba.

Protein Bars

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The act of digging into a chocolate, gooey protein can seem quite scrumptious. Don’t be fooled though; these protein bars are packed with additives such as high fructose corn syrup and saturated fats. The bar Nutrimo contains 9.99 grams of saturated fat, which is equivalent to the amount of saturated fats in a big mac. Power Bar has around 27 grams of sugar as does two snack packs of Oreos.

Health Tip: A better alternative to these bars are oatmeal or flax seed bars that have natural sugars such as fruit sugar or honey.

Overall, the key is to consume these drinks and snacks in moderation and make adjustments that make the food just as delectable as before, while keeping it healthy.

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