Ditching the “All or Nothing” Mentality – Fitness as a Lifestyle

The health and fitness industry is filled with “quick fixes” and 30-day challenges. It’s also filled with ripped bodies sharing how they work out five days a week for two hours a day. So, as you scroll through Instagram on your couch, you’re feeling like you either need to go hard or stay home. Both approaches can easily become unhealthy.

As passionate proponents of fitness as a lifestyle, we’re sharing more about how you can ditch the “all or nothing” mentality when it comes to fitness.

What is the “all or nothing” mentality?

We’ve all been guilty of adopting an “all or nothing” mentality in one way or another. It’s the idea that we either do something to the absolute extreme or we don’t do it at all. It’s the cousin of perfectionism and it never works.

When we’re operating in an “all or nothing” mindset, we’re expecting too much of ourselves. We won’t always feel motivated. We won’t always choose healthy snacks. We won’t always have lots of energy. In fact, we should actually expect ourselves to fail more than we might succeed in any endeavor.

And this shouldn’t be a sign that we’re failures as a whole and don’t deserve to be rewarded for our hard work. It should be a sign that we’re free to make mistakes and that no one is too good to fall off the horse and start over. But, all too often we’re so afraid of not being perfect, that we don’t try at all.

Nothing Happens When You Don’t Try

The biggest failure of all is not trying. You might fall down a hundred times but as long as you keep picking yourself up, you’re making progress. It’s the consistency that matters most.

Some days, just showing up at the gym is something to be proud of. Resisting a second bowl of ice cream was hard but you did it. Good work! When you have absolutely no energy, maybe it’s time for a rest day or some stretching instead of a kickboxing session.

There’s always something you can do to move toward your goals. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t even have to be close to perfect. It just has to get done. You just have to try.

The is No “End Goal”

When we are working toward something we want, it’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting an end result. It happens with fitness, careers, and even happiness. We have this idea that eventually, we’ll be fit. Eventually, we’ll have our dream job. Eventually, we’ll be happy. But that’s not how life works.

Instead, we should be focusing on smaller wins and creating a lifestyle that keeps us healthy overall. It’s unrealistic to work out six days a week for years and years, but sticking to the goal of moving your body every day is an important step to a maintainable active lifestyle.

Pushing yourself to the limits all the time will inevitably lead to burnout. It’s not a matter of if, but when. And when you’re burnt out, you’ll be completely derailed. If avoiding burnout means taking the weekend off from your fitness routine and starting things back up on Monday, do that.

And don’t beat yourself up about it in the meantime. Remember, you’re human!

Go in With No Expectations

As with anything in life, we should approach our fitness goals with no expectations. Don’t expect things to happen overnight but at the same time, don’t expect yourself to fail. Social media and pop culture lead us to believe in the myth of “overnight success” but it’s important to resist making those assumptions.

Fitness takes a lifetime of work and it never stops. If you’re expecting a quick fix or an end date to your gym membership, think again. Take your fitness journey day by day, push yourself but be kind to yourself, and after a while, you’ll realize that staying active and healthy isn’t something you dread or are just doing for a while. It’s now your lifestyle.

And that’s the way it should be.

The best fitness trainers in Dubai will never pressure you to work out past your limits. We’re here to motivate, educate, and inspire you to embrace fitness for life! And that means having a realistic approach to working out and nutrition. So, go ahead and ditch that “all or nothing” mentality and let’s find balance with a true fitness lifestyle.

Motivation vs Purpose: Why Purpose Wins Every Time!

Motivation and purpose are two very similar terms but when they go head to head, purpose wins every time. Why is that so? How can we use them both to achieve our goals? What is the true difference between motivation and purpose? 

Defining Motivation and Purpose 

Before we can understand the differences between motivation and purpose, we have to understand what they mean on their own. These concepts are somewhat subjective and difficult to nail down since they are so similar. But here are a few definitions that can help us.

Motivation is your reason for behaving or enthusiasm for doing something. When you’re feeling motivated, you probably just finished reading a self-help book or you saw a YouTube video of someone with a healthy gym habit. It’s exciting and you feel energized when you’re motivated.

Purpose is also your reason for behaving but instead of enthusiasm, purpose expresses itself in the form of resolve and determination. This is an important distinction because purpose is long-lasting while motivation is short-lived.

Why Purpose Beats Motivation Every Time 

Whether you’re looking to change your eating habits or you’re hoping to exercise more often, you probably start off feeling motivated and excited about changing your life for the better. The problem is, in a couple of weeks, the excitement wears off and you fall off the wagon.

That’s why we can’t trust our motivation. It’s a fleeting feeling and you won’t always feel motivated to finish what you start. The good news is that this is completely normal and the way to combat a lack of motivation is with purpose.

You can think of your purpose as your “why.” Why do you want to eat more nutritious foods? Why do you want to improve your fitness? Why will you keep going even when motivation fails you? Keep asking why until there’s no higher goal to be achieved.

Your purpose should be something that never changes. For example, your purpose might be:

  • I want to eat healthy foods so that I can watch my kids grow up.
  • I want to exercise more to improve my mental health.
  • I want to explore better nutrition to help prevent disease.
  • I want to improve my health and fitness to perform better in all aspects of my life.

Use Both Motivation and Purpose to Achieve Your Goals 

The thing is, motivation and purpose can work together. Once you figure out your purpose, you’re more likely to stick with it but finding a motivation that’s based more on short-term rewards helps you start in the first place.

Some things that can encourage motivation might be:

  • Signing up to run a half marathon
  • Changing your diet to reverse your Type 2 Diabetes
  • Losing 50 pounds
  • Working out for your wedding day

As you can see, all of these goals are extremely motivational but the problem is, they have an end date. But if you have purpose, you’re more likely to continue on your journey to health even after you’ve met the goal that was motivating you in the first place.

Even if your purpose is really strong, habits must form in order to live your purpose. That’s where motivation comes in handy. Since motivation works with short-term rewards, it’s easier to start a healthy habit when you’re feeling motivated. Then, your purpose swoops in when your motivation fades.

Final Thoughts 

Makes sense, right? Motivation helps us get out of bed and start building better habits, but it only works in the short-term. Purpose, on the other hand, comes to rescue when our motivation goes away and keeps us on track with the habits we built with the help of motivation.

It’s important to get really clear on your purpose and keep it at the top of your mind. Write it down and tape it to your bathroom mirror or the fridge. It’s normal for us to not always feel motivated and it’s essential not to confuse motivation for purpose. After all, we’re not always going to be “in the mood.”

If you’re struggling with a lack of motivation, a personal trainer can help. Our fitness trainer Dubai services not only help with personalized workouts and fitness plans, but we can also help you find your purpose and keep you accountable when our short-term feelings change – because they always will.

Ready to find your purpose?

Walls, Bands, Benches: The Perfect Outdoor Workout

As the seasons change, outdoor workouts are looking more and more appealing. Whether you love getting extra sweaty in the sun or breathing in the cool, fresh air hypes you up, it’s exciting to remember that you don’t have to exercise in a gym all the time.

Using walls, bands, and benches, you can get an amazing full-body workout in any outdoor space. Here’s how.

How to Use Walls to Workout 

Targeting your abs, legs, and arms, find an outdoor wall and try out these killer moves while getting a little sunshine and fresh air.

Plank Wall Taps:

  • Start in a plank position with your head toward the wall.
  • Lift one hand to tap the wall above your head before returning to a plank position.
  • Repeat with your other hand and continue, alternating for 30 seconds.
  • For a challenge, add a push-up between each wall tap.

Tricep Push-Ups:

  • Stand facing the wall and place your forearms on the wall, hands toward the sky and elbows straight out from your shoulders.
  • Carefully walk your feet away from the wall until you form an angle with your body, abs engaged.
  • Press into your hands and lift your elbows off the wall in a Tricep push-up.
  • Gently return to the forearm position and repeat 10 times.

Lifted Bridge:

  • Lie on your back and place your feet on the wall at a 90-degree angle.
  • Extend one leg toward the sky and keep your hands on the floor at your sides.
  • Press into the leg that’s on the wall and slowly lift your hips.
  • With your hips lifted, tap the extended leg against the wall while keeping it straight before lifting it back toward the sky.
  • Gently lower your hips to the ground. Repeat the entire sequence 15 times before switching legs. 

How to Use Bands to Workout 

Using resistance bands are a simple way to take a bodyweight workout to the next level. They’re easy to travel with and can make an outdoor workout just as hard as a session using machines.

Squats with a Resistance Band:

  • Place a circular resistance band taut above the knees and stand slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  • Keeping your chest lifted, bend your knees as if you’re sitting in a chair.
  • Pressing into your heels, come back to standing and repeat 20 times.

Side Plank with Extension:

  • Holding each end of a resistance band, come into a side plank making the band taut as you extend your top arm toward the sky.
  • Twist toward the ground activating your core as you thread your top arm through the empty space created between your bottom arm and your body.
  • Extend your arm up to the sky again, feeling the resistance of the band as you open your chest to the side. Repeat 15 times and switch sides.

Bicep Curls with a Resistance Band

  • Stand on top of the middle of a resistance band while holding the two ends with each hand making sure it’s taut.
  • Keeping your elbows in line with your ribs and complete 30 bicep curls.

How to Use Benches to Workout 

In many outdoor spaces, you’re likely to find a park bench. Benches can be used as workout equipment and are the perfect addition to any outdoor exercise session.

Tricep Dips:

  • Sit on the edge of the bench with your hands pressed into the bench, fingers facing forward.
  • Slide your bottom off the bench and straighten your legs.
  • Bend your elbows completing a tricep dip and repeat 15 times.

Bulgarian Split Squat:

  • Stand facing away from a bench with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Place one leg up on the bench behind you.
  • Keeping your chest lifted, perform a single leg lunge and repeat 15 times before switching legs.

Mountain Climbers:

  • Place your hands on the bench in line with your shoulders.
  • Step your feet out away from the bench to come into an inclined plank position.
  • Bend one knee and hug it toward your chest as you activate your core.
  • Switch knees alternating as fast as you can. Repeat 40 times (20 times with each knee).

These are just a few ideas of ways to spend time outdoors while getting a great workout using minimal equipment. All you need to find is a wall, band, and bench either separately or all together and you’ll have the perfect outdoor workout.

As always, it’s important to first consult a personal trainer in Dubai to make sure you’re using the correct form before attempting an outdoor workout on your own. Once you’re confident in your fitness technique, working out outside is a fun way to switch things up.

So, go ahead! Get out there!

PS. We have a great team of personal trainers here at Amino App. Download the app and check them out.

Hormones 101: What You Need to Know

Every part of your body plays a specific role, completing a specific job. Direction comes from your endocrine system where glands produce hormones to tell each of these body parts what to do, when to do it, and for how long.

Even though hormones are vital parts of human health, they’re often misunderstood – if understood at all.

Here, we’re talking all about hormones including what they are, what they do, and why they matter. 

What are Hormones?

Hormones are chemical messages secreted into the bloodstream. They mingle with different cells in your body and contribute to its overall function.

What Do Hormones Do?

Overall, hormones do their work slowly and in cycles. Your hormones affect bodily processes such as:

  • Growth and development
  • Your metabolism
  • Sexual function and reproduction
  • Mood
  • Weight

When your hormones are functioning properly and their levels are balanced, things tend to operate smoothly. That is until things get out of whack.

Hormones that are out of balance can cause various problems like diabetes, weight gain or loss, infertility, and weak bones. To understand your fitness better, hormones can also shape your experience with fat loss.

Hormones Affecting Weight Loss

There are a few key hormones to understand that can affect your weight. Knowing what they do and how to get them under control can help you get through common weight loss struggles.

Ghrelin

Produced in the stomach, ghrelin is the hormone that tells you you’re hungry. Cutting calories may help with weight loss, but it also causes increased ghrelin.

To decrease your ghrelin levels, you need to exercise. Working out lowers the production of ghrelin and your body will tell you that you’re hungry less often.

Leptin

Leptin is released exclusively from fat cells and it urges your body to eat less and burn more. The more body fat you have, the more leptin is released. When too much leptin is being pumped into your blood, your body starts to become immune to its signals.

The goal then is to maximize your leptin sensitivity by getting enough sleep and enriching your diet with antioxidants. Ultimately, losing weight will decrease your leptin production and getting everything back into a balance.

Adiponectin

Adiponectin is released to enhance your muscles’ ability to use carbs and break down fat. It boosts your metabolism and curbs your appetite.

This hormone is produced more when your body is leaner, so the goal is to be as lean as possible. To do this, make sure you move your body every day and replace carbs with monounsaturated fats like olives and avocados.

Glucagon

Essentially the opposite of insulin, glucagon is responsible for breaking down your body’s stored carbs and fats to use them for energy. That means you want to maximize the secretion of glucagon when attempting to lose weight.

To do so, eat protein-rich, low-cab meals.

CCK

Cholecystokinin or CCK is released in your intestines after eating protein or fat. It signals the feeling of being full and slows the rate of digestion. To take advantage of CCK, make sure to eat protein and fat with every meal.

Epinephrine (aka Adrenaline)

Epinephrine is the fight or flight hormone. It burns fat and releases energy while also helping with appetite suppression. The best way to crank up the release of epinephrine in your body is by interval training.

Hormones for Muscle Building 

The three main muscle-building hormones are testosterone, human growth hormone, and insulin. These are all anabolic hormones meaning they help build muscles.

Testosterone

Testosterone prompts the release of the Insulin Growth Factor (IGF) in the liver. Therefore, it’s directly linked to the synthesis of protein in the body. To increase testosterone production, you should:

  • Do heavy resistance training at 80 – 90% of your max effort
  • Keep your workouts short with short rest period in between sets
  • Do compound exercises 

Human Growth Hormone

Produced in high amounts as a child (think growing pains), it’s the key hormone responsible for the growth of your muscles and bones. Your body releases the most HGH during sleep (which is why teenagers seem to sleep forever), so it’s imperative you get ample amounts of sleep when you want to build muscle.

Insulin

Insulin helps you recover from exercise, build muscle, and maintains your blood sugar. Consuming high levels of carbs causes excess insulin production which inhibits the breakdown of fats.

So, to achieve fat loss, aim for carbohydrates with a low glycemic index like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

All in all, hormones account for a huge part of what happens in our bodies. But, there are ways to get in control of your hormones to help them work toward your fitness goals. By understanding key hormones, you’re on the right track toward a more balanced you.

How to Workout While Traveling

Whether you travel all the time for work, you’re a backpacker always on the move, or you simply can’t live without your annual vacations, knowing how to work out while traveling can make or break your fitness goals.

Luckily, there are countless things you can do to make sure you’re working out, boosting those endorphins, and feeling your best while on the road. Here are some tips. 

Travel with Resistance Bands 

Resistance bands are light and take up hardly any room in your suitcase. But boy, are they effective! Adding a resistance band to your hotel room workout will give you that extra burn on a tight schedule.

Whether you get up half an hour early and smash a quick 20-minute circuit or you get a short beach workout in during your coastal escape, add a resistance band to your mobile workouts and you’ll feel accomplished. 

Do Exercises That Need No Equipment 

Still, it’s more than possible to get a killer workout with no equipment at all. From push-up variations to planks to walking lunges, there’s no excuse to get your sweat on while traveling.

Here are some simple circuit ideas, no equipment necessary:

  • Walking lunges 24x (12 on each leg)
  • Planks and side planks holding for 30 seconds
  • Jumping jacks 50x
  • Commandos 24x (12 on each side)
  • Donkey kicks 24x (12 on each leg) 

Find Workouts that Require Minimal Space 

On vacation, it’s easy to make the excuse that you won’t have enough room to exercise. So, before you go, find some workouts you can do in confined spaces.

Try these workout ideas that don’t take up more space than a yoga mat:

  • Bodyweight squats
  • Incline or decline push-ups (use the bed or desk chair)
  • Single-arm rows (use your luggage as weights)
  • Reverse crunches
  • Tricep dips (again, use the bed or desk chair) 

Book a Hotel with a Gym 

These days, lots of hotels have gyms downstairs that guests can use at their leisure. If you’re committed to your workouts (which is great because consistency is key) or you’re afraid of getting off track with your newfound healthy lifestyle on vacation, opt for a hotel with a gym.

Don’t look at going to the gym on vacation as a torture sentence. It’s time you’re setting aside for yourself and should still be part of your life, even while you’re away.

For constant travelers, a gym membership with worldwide brands is a smart investment. Having access to a gym anywhere in the world makes it that much more plausible that you’ll keep up your routine. 

Break a Sweat During Your Explorations 

It doesn’t even need to be a gym-style sweat session, either. Hike along a local trail. Ride bikes through the city. Take a run along the beach. Go skiing on the snowy slopes.

Don’t feel like you have to skip out on the adventures of travel just to work out. As long as you make active choices during your vacation, there’s no need to stress about getting to a gym. 

Keep Up with Your Nutrition 

Of course, when you’re gallivanting through Italy or basking in the Mexican Riviera, the last thing you want to hear is that you should watch what you eat. But, it’s undeniable that how we look and feel have a lot to do with what we put in our mouths.

So, this is just a friendly reminder to put a cap on alcoholic beverages, a limit on the pasta, and only a few bites of flan. By all means, enjoy, just do so in moderation!

See – there’s no excuse not to work out while you travel. Get out there and have fun!

Stretching: The Basics of What to Do and When

When it comes to stretching, there’s a lot of misconception. Some people say that you should never stretch before you train while others swear by it. Some say that static stretching produces the best results while others are hell-bent on dynamic stretching.

However, the consensus is that stretching is important and the benefits are clear. Here, we’re talking about all things stretching, what to do, and when to do it.

Why Is Stretching Important?

Stretching is imperative for increasing mobility and flexibility. It allows the joints to complete their full range of motion and it creates more supple muscle structure.

Also, certain activities require different levels of flexibility. For example, a gymnast’s focus on hamstring flexibility will be different than that of a cyclist.

Most experts recommend stretching at least two times a week. Some of the additional benefits of stretching regularly include: 

  • Improved posture
  • Better range of motion
  • Pain relief 

How to Stretch Properly 

So, now that we know how beneficial stretching is, what’s the proper way to go about it? Does holding a stretch for long periods give you the most benefit? Can bouncing in a stretch cause you to pull a muscle? Could you hurt yourself if you skip stretching before a workout?

The short answer to all of these questions is no, but to help clarify, let’s go over the different kinds of stretching.

Static Stretching 

The word static means unchanging. That means you push your muscles to an uncomfortable point and hold it there for at least thirty seconds. 

Dynamic Stretching 

Dynamic stretching, as the name implies, involve movement. You perform gentle movements like arm swings or plies which stretch the muscles by gradually increasing their range of motion.

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) Stretching 

Common in methods like Pilates, PNF stretching aims to increase range of motion by holding a position while contracting and relaxing the muscles. The idea is that you’ll get a deeper stretch as the muscle relaxes. 

Ballistic Stretching 

Otherwise known as bouncing stretches, this type is used to increase range of motion by bouncing or jerking into it.

When to Stretch 

Sure, it’s great to know the different kinds of stretching you can do, but when do you do them? As always, everyone is different and will respond differently to different kinds of stretching but, here are the basics. 

Pre-Workout Stretches 

Before you exercise or go for a run, dynamic stretches are the best way to go. Especially if you workout first thing in the morning or you’ve been sedentary for most of the day. They help mobilize your joints, warm up your muscles, and prep your body for the exercise you’re about to do.

The stretches you pick should be specific to your workout. If you’re doing a lower body workout, you could do some bodyweight squats, lunges, or walkouts to warm up. If you’re going to do an upper body workout, arm circles and torso rotations are a good start. Doing a full body workout? Do a mix of both upper and lower body stretches.

The goal is to move your body while you stretch so you’re not only preparing your muscles and joints but you’re getting your heart rate up and more blood flow. Not only will dynamic stretching before a workout help prevent injuries, but it also usually leads to better performance as well.

Static stretching, on the other hand, is a terrible idea pre-workout. Your muscles are cold, stiff, and with limited blood flow. Forcing a static stretch is more likely to make you feel weaker and perform worse.

Stretches to Do After You Train 

After you’re sweaty and quite frankly exhausted, it’s tempting to get out of the gym and into the shower as quickly as possible, but a simple five-minute cool down with some static stretches can do wonders for your body.

Static stretching focuses on relaxing the muscle which is exactly what they’ll want after a full session of contracting. You won’t necessarily be less sore the next day, but you’ll notice your body can do more for you when you add a stretch session after your workout.

PNF stretching and ballistic stretching are more goal-oriented and used by athletes like gymnasts or dancers to reach flexibility goals that help with their craft.

Are you excited to start stretching? Give it a try. Warm up before you hit the dumbbells and cool down by at least touching your toes. Watch your body, mobility, and flexibility change before your eyes.

Resistance Bands: A Full Body Workout

You’ve seen them at the gym and in workout videos but you’ve never tried them yourself. Are you curious about resistance bands but not sure where to start?

Here, we’ll go over what resistance bands are, their benefits, and how to use them yourself.

What are Resistance Bands?

Resistance bands come in a few varieties depending on their shape and thickness.

Some resistance bands are long strips of rubbery, stretchy material. Others are formed into circles. Others look more like rubber ropes with handles on the end.

Thickness matters too. The thicker the material, the more resistance they create. You can use them in countless ways to change and intensify your workouts.

While there’s no right or wrong way to use resistance bands, there are clear benefits to making them work for you.

Benefits of Using Resistance Bands

Cost-Effective

Resistance bands are one of the most cost-effective ways to work out. A set pf resistance bands usually costs under AED 250. This is a steal for the amount of work they can do. When purchasing your first set, choose a variety pack with different shapes, sizes, and resistance levels.

Perfect for All Fitness Levels

No matter whether you’re a beginner or an extreme gym junkie – everyone can benefit from resistance bands.

The various band strengths – usually light, medium, and heavy – make them suitable for all fitness levels. Double them up for a more intense workout or use them to modify more difficult exercises. More on that later.

Simple to Store

Tight on space? No worries! Resistance bands take up such little space that you can pretty much store them anywhere. Roll them up and stick them in a bedroom drawer or hang them on hooks already installed in the garage. They’re thin and take up hardly any room at all.

Light and Portable

And not only are resistance bands easily storable, but they’re also light and portable too. This makes mobile workouts simple. The only downside is that you no longer have an excuse not to work out on your vacation.

Highly Effective

Of course, there are many extremely effective ways to get the most out of your training schedule. Resistance bands are simply another way to boost that effectiveness.

Adding a resistance band means that you’re not only getting the burn of pulling the weight from a motionless starting position, but you’re also getting the burn from reaching the end of the movement when the band is most taut.

Essentially, adding resistance bands to the exercises you already do gives you the best of both worlds.

How to Use Resistance Bands

Use Resistance Bands as a Modifier

Resistance bands offer – you guessed it… resistance, they’re great tools for modifying exercises. They’re especially useful with exercises that you might be having trouble with.

For example, say you’re working on pull-ups but your upper body strength isn’t quite there yet. Wrapping a resistance band from the bar to below your feet gives you that extra bit of support.

Use Resistance Bands to Intensify a Workout

Resistance bands intensify your workouts by not only contributing to weight loss but to strengthening and toning as well.

Say you’re working on your booty with some tried and true hip raises. You can create a deeper burn by adding a resistance band over your hips force you to push your hips against the resistance.

Use Resistance Bands to Stretch

Stretching is a important aspect of training and resistance bands can help. Say you have super tight hamstrings and you’re having trouble stretching the area. Wrapping a resistance band around your foot while lying on your back can help assist you to bring your leg toward you.

Use Resistance Bands For a Full Body Workout

Overall, resistance bands are the ultimate full-body workout. They can work your arms during leg day or fire up your abs when you thought you were training your shoulders. It adds that extra layer to your gym session that works your whole body at once without changing anything else.

So, next time you see a few resistance bands lying around the gym, give them a try. Prepare to be sore in the morning!

 

Posture 101: How to relieve Back and Neck Pain

Maintaining proper posture is more than just feeling confident. Good posture reduces back pain and neck pain, increases energy levels, reduces stress on your muscles and ligaments, and, in turn, help to prevent injuries.

Other than constantly hearing your mother screaming, “Stand up straight!” there are noticeable signs of bad posture. To fix it, we’ll talk about some causes of bad posture and exercises to help relieve any associated pain.

What Causes Bad Posture?

Poor sitting and standing habits are usually the culprit for bad posture. The good news is, there are ways to fix the mistakes you’ve been making in your everyday life that contribute to your chronic pain and less-than-ideal posture.

Slouching in your Chair

While slouching may seem more comfortable than sitting up straight in a chair, it’s doing long-term harm. It can increase tension in your back muscles while sitting correctly will keep your body feeling better for longer. So, in short – don’t slouch when sitting.

Standing with “Swayback”

Having a “swayback” refers to a standing position where your bottom sticks out and you have a pronounced arch in your lower back. It can be caused by wearing high heels, excess belly weight, or pregnancy.

Making a conscious effort slightly tuck your hips is necessary to stand with better posture.

Standing with a Flat Back

Opposite to “swayback,” standing with a completely flat lower back can also cause issues. Your pelvis will be overly tucked, instead of with a natural curve, which will make you seem like you’re stooped forward.

Often caused by muscle imbalances or too much time sitting, untucking your pelvis and engaging between your shoulder blades is something you’ll need to work on.

Hunched Back or ”Text Neck”

When you hunch your back over a keyboard or as you’re texting on a cell phone, it’s usually a signal that you have a tight chest and weak upper back. Therefore, stretches to open up your chest as well as strengthening exercises for your upper back are suggested.

Leaning on One Leg

Leaning to one side may seem like the more comfortable choice, but after constant repetition, your body will begin to show imbalances which often cause pain. Carrying backpacks on one shoulder or carrying a baby on one hip can create the same issues.

Try getting into the habit of standing with your weight evenly distributed between both feet.

Lifted Chin

Also known as poking your chin, this poor posture is usually associated with sitting in a chair that’s too low, working on a computer screen that’s too high, hunched back issues, or a combination of the three.

Work on extending through the back of your neck as you tuck your chin, rolling your shoulder blades back and down, as well as activating your lower core. Of course, adjusting your seat can also help.

Rounded Shoulders

When standing up straight with your arms resting at your sides, you should see your thumbs in the mirror, not your knuckles. If you see your knuckles, your shoulders are rounding too far forward.

Usually a case of poor posture habits, rounded shoulders can be helped by stretching through your chest and strengthening your upper back.

Phone Cradling

If you cradle a phone between your neck and your shoulder, it can strain the muscles of your neck and cause postural problems. Try holding your phone in your hand or, even better, use a hands-free option.

Exercises to Improve Your Posture

Try these exercises if you’re looking to improve your posture.

Child’s Pose

  • Sit on shinbones with knees and toes together.
  • Fold forward at the hips, walk your hands out along the ground, and place your forehead on the ground.
  • Relax here for up to five minutes.

Forward Fold

  • Stand up straight with toes touching or feet hip-width apart.
  • Hinge at the hips and fold forward aiming to touch the floor.
  • Bend knees slightly, soften at the hips, and lengthen your spine.

Cat-Cow

  • Come to your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
  • Inhale and drop your belly toward the ground.
  • Exhale and arch your back bringing your belly toward your spine.
  • Continue alternating for at least one minute.

Chest Opener

  • Standing with your feet hip-width apart, clasp your hands behind your back.
  • Inhale as you lift your chest toward the ceiling while continuing to look straight forward and reach your hands toward the ground.
  • Hold for five seconds, release, and repeat at least ten times.

Pigeon

  • Come to all fours in a tabletop position.
  • Bring your left knee to your left wrist and straighten your right leg behind you, keeping your hips square.
  • Lower your pelvis to the floor and relax into the position.
  • Release your torso to fold over your left leg.
  • Hold for up to one minute and repeat on the other side.

By stretching, strengthening, and eliminating bad habits, you can steadily improve your posture over time. Your mother is sure to be impressed.

Intermittent fasting: What’s the big fuss?

Intermittent fasting, or IF, is currently one of the hottest fitness and health trends. Intermittent fasting is claimed to cause weight loss, improve metabolic health, and even extend lifespan. Everyone seems to be talking about it, but what is it exactly? With a little help of our personal trainers, we created this beginners guide for intermittent fasting.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. Since it doesn’t specify the foods you should eat, you can’t really call it a diet, it’s more of a habit. Intermittent fasting is not about which foods you should eat, but rather when you should eat them.

Normally intermittent fasting means daily 16-hour fasts or fasting 24 hours two times a week. Humans have evolved to be able to function without food for extended periods of time just because of the circumstances our ancestors had. Many religions include fasting as a spiritual practice as well. Fasting is actually more natural than always eating 3-4 meals per day.

Popular intermittent fasting methods

There are several different ways of doing intermittent fasting. All of them involve cycles of eating and fasting.

Some popular methods are:

  • The 16/8 method: This method is also called the Leangains method. In this method, you’ll skip breakfast and only eat for an eight hour period, such as between 1 pm and 9 pm, and then you’ll fast the remaining 16 hours. It doesn’t matter which time you decide to be your eating period, it can also be from 8 am to 4 pm. The only rule is to have 8 hours of eating period and 16 hours of fasting. This is probably the most popular way of doing intermittent fasting.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours a few times a week. The next time you’ll be eating for example after Tuesday dinner is the Wednesday dinner.
  • The 5:2 diet: This method is not completely about fasting, you consume only 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, and then you’ll eat normally the other 5 days.

All these methods are reducing your calorie intake and it should help you to lose weight. The most popular method seems to be the 16/8 method as it’s simple and it creates a habit.

What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting affects your calorie intake, and it should make it easier to lose weight. Besides this, several other things happen in your body on the cellular and molecular level. For example, the levels of growth hormone increases as much as 5-fold, which will help you to lose fat and gain muscle. Your insulin levels drop also dramatically and this makes stored body fat more accessible. It also increases the release of the fat burning hormone norepinephrine. When fasting, your cells initiate cellular repair processes and it cleans old and dysfunctional proteins. Intermittent fasting changes the expression of certain genes, which helps the body protect itself from disease and it promotes longevity. In addition, it lowers blood sugars, blood pressure, and inflammation levels.

Weight loss is usually the most common reason to try intermittent fasting, and no wonder why!

Besides finding the right workouts, Amino App personal trainers can help you find the best diet to reach your goals.

Top 12 Foods That Fight Inflammation

When your cells become inflamed, it’s usually for two reasons. Either your body is fighting off an infection or it’s due to chronic stress, low activity levels, or an inflammatory diet.

Chronic inflammation makes your cells more susceptible to disease. Not to mention it causes pain, swelling, and irritation. This is why fighting inflammation through weight loss and diet is critical

Here, we’re going over what foods cause inflammation and the best foods to fight it.

Foods That Cause Inflammation

Eating anti-inflammatory foods is only half the battle. Knowing which ones to avoid is the second half.

The following food groups are the usual culprits of inflammation. Avoid these as much as you can:

  • Refined carbohydrates (white bread, pastries, cookies)
  • Fried foods
  • Soda and other sugary beverages
  • Processed meat (sausages, hot dogs)
  • Margarine, shortening, and lard

Best Foods to Fight Inflammation

Once you’ve eliminated inflammatory foods, it’s time to fight back. The best anti-inflammatory foods to include in your diet are:

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are impressive foods when it comes to nutrient-density. High in vitamin C, potassium, and the antioxidant lycopene, the anti-inflammatory effects are off the charts.

Whether your drink tomato juice or add them chopped to your salad, the reduction in inflammation is undeniable.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Full of monounsaturated fats (the good stuff), extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is the base of a Mediterranean diet. It contains oleocanthal, an antioxidant with effects that have been compared to ibuprofen.

EVOO reduces the risk of heart disease and brain cancer. Be careful not to confuse EVOO with more refined olive oils.

Broccoli

It might smell weird, but broccoli is amazingly nutritious. Known as a cruciferous vegetable, a family of veggies including cauliflower and kale, broccoli is a great source of sulforaphane.

Sulforaphane is an antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory properties, so adding more broccoli to your diet is a good idea.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms like truffles, Portobello mushrooms, and shiitake are usually underrated. They’re low-calorie but packed with nutrients like selenium, copper, and B vitamins. Mushrooms also contain antioxidants like phenols that contribute to reduced inflammation.

To get the most benefits from mushroom consumption, it’s best to eat them raw or only slightly cooked.

Peppers

From sweet bell peppers to spicy chilis, peppers are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, specifically quercetin. Both of which produce anti-inflammatory effects.

Peppers also contain sinapic acid and ferulic acid, also correlated with reduced inflammation. Long story short, packing your next fajita dish with peppers can become quite the anti-inflammatory meal.

Fish

Fatty fish are essential to an anti-inflammatory diet. They are a fantastic source of protein while also supplying your body with the long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids called EPA and DHA.

Not only are EPA and DHA anti-inflammatory in and of themselves, but your body metabolizes these fatty acids creating even more anti-inflammatory effects.

All kinds of fish contain fatty acids, but the best sources and the kind of fish you should be eating are:

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Tuna
  • Sardines
  • Herring
  • Anchovies

Berries

These small fruits are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Berries also contain antioxidants known as anthocyanins which have anti-inflammatory properties. Add strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries to your yogurt or cereal for a good hit.

Grapes and Cherries

As easy to pop in your mouth as delicious berries, grapes are another fruit group that contains anthocyanins. They also are a great source of resveratrol that creates other health effects and may reduce your risk of various diseases.

Similar to grapes and berries, cherries are high in antioxidants and have awesome anti-inflammatory effects.

Avocado

More than just a trendy food to put on toast, avocados are truly a superfood. Not only do they contain potassium, magnesium, fiber, and good fats, but they also have carotenoids and tocopherols which are linked to reduced inflammation.

So, go ahead – smash it on some toast and snap a photo of it for Instagram. It’s good for you!

Dark Chocolate and Cocoa

That’s right – chocolate can be good for you. Packed with antioxidants like flavanols, dark chocolate is rich, yummy, and anti-inflammatory.

When choosing dark chocolate for its health properties, it’s best to go with at least 70% cocoa. The more cocoa, the better.

Turmeric

The orange-colored spice, often associated with Indian food contains the powerful antioxidant curcumin. Combining a gram of turmeric with black pepper has shown significant anti-inflammatory results.

Many people take turmeric as a supplement but it can also be delicious in curries or even as a golden latte.

Green Tea

Now that we’re getting into beverage territory, if you’re going to drink something other than water, green tea is your best bet. It’s said to be able to reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, obesity… the list goes on.

Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is the key substance in green tea that prohibits inflammation.