5 Bad Habits that are Stopping You from reaching your Fitness Goals

pretty woman doing pilates

Bad habits are something that everyone has, whether you bite your fingernails, indulge in a little too much partying, impulse shop or have been smoking since you were 16. When it comes to achieving a personal fitness goal, bad habits can really cramp your style. There are a number of different aspects that need to be considered when setting a fitness goal, from the kind of lifestyle you lead to the type of food you eat and what you actually want to achieve from improving your fitness levels. Below are just a few of the bad habits that you may want to think about before embarking on your fitness overhaul.

The Wrong Type of Food

When you set out on a fitness health kick, the first thing people generally focus on is banishing bad foods from their diet. While this is great in theory, it can often be harder to kick your junk food habit than first anticipated. The first thing you need to do is become a little more knowledgeable about food and what types are actually good for you. With fancy labelling and catchy slogans, like “99% fat free”, it can be rather confusing to figure out what’s right for you. Everyone’s individual needs vary, so it is best to talk to a dietician or other health professional.

Smoking

If you currently smoke or are a reformed smoker, you’ll know that this is one nasty habit that is possibly the hardest to break. People can smoke for in excess of 10 or 20 years before they decide to ditch this bad habit to reach their fitness goals, making the addiction even stronger. Years ago, there was only the option of quitting cold turkey, but nowadays smokers can throw this habit aside by using quitting aids, such as gum, patches or even electronic cigarettes. For many smokers, the actual action and socialising aspect of smoking is what they miss, rather than their nicotine fix, and this is where ‘vaping’ comes into play. A number of companies, including BLACKHAWX, have released a range of nicotine and non-nicotine e-cigs, which are better for your overall health and the environment, assisting many reformed smokers into achieving their fitness goals.

Failure to Set Goals

Over the years, many studies have shown that people who set personal goals are more likely to achieve the task at hand. Whether you want to build a better career, focus on your fitness or get rid of clutter around the house, setting short term goals is an important step to reaching your final goal. When it comes to your personal fitness, health or wellbeing, it is of the utmost importance that you always set realistic goals for yourself. Comparing yourself to gym junkies or people who have been committed to maintaining a good fitness levels throughout the entirety of their lives can actually hinder your ability to achieve success. Set short term goals first, such as how many times you aim to exercise per week or which bad habit you are giving up first, in order to pave the road to reaching your own fitness goals.

Partying

We all know that partying is lots of fun and a great way to socialise with friends or meet new people, but it can also prohibit you from reaching your fitness goals. Binge drinking has horrific side effects to one’s health, particularly when combined with sleep deprivation, inhalation of second hand smoke and, of course, hangovers. If you’re serious about reaching your fitness goals, keep the outrageous partying to a minimum – you never know what other fun things you’ll find to do when you’re not hung over all weekend!

Procrastination

This is one major bad habit that is often overlooked when setting out to achieve any sort of goal, whether it is work, fitness or family orientated. Procrastination prevents you from achieving your goals and can actually send you in the complete wrong direction. Goal setting does help to prevent procrastination, but it is also important that you remember to constantly regain focus on what it is you first wished to achieve.

Always remember, setting goals is important for achieving your desired results. Becoming a fitter person doesn’t necessarily mean giving up the things you love, just replacing them for a healthier option. So next time you go to pick up a cigarette, try vaping instead or when you reach for that candy bar, replace it with a healthy bowl of fruit salad.

Bad eating habits can affect everyone – even avid runners

running at sunrise

Conventional wisdom says you can pretty much eat whatever you want if you’re an avid runner, as your body is burning off all of the excess calories. But is that really true? New research now suggests that avid runners need to pay attention to their diets as well when it comes to the potential for heart disease.

As a 10-mile-a-day runner, Dave McGillivray thought he could eat whatever he wanted without worrying about his heart. “I figured if the furnace was hot enough, it would burn everything,” said McGillivray, who is 59.

But a diagnosis six months ago of coronary artery disease shocked McGillivray, a finisher of 130 marathons and several Ironman-distance triathlons. Suddenly he regretted including a chocolate-chip-cookie recipe in his memoir about endurance athletics.

“My first reaction was, I was embarrassed,” he said.

As race director of the Boston Marathon, McGillivray is a high-profile exhibit in a growing medical case against the devil-may-care diets of many marathoners. Their high-mileage habit tends to lower their weight, blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol levels, leading them (and sometimes their doctors) to assume their cardiac health is robust regardless of diet.

“‘I will run it off’—that attitude clearly prevails among the marathoners themselves, almost sometimes to an arrogance,” said Paul Thompson, a veteran marathoner who is chief of cardiology at Hartford Hospital.

A growing body of research shows the error of that thinking. A study published in the current edition of Missouri Medicine found that 50 men who had run at least one marathon a year for 25 years had higher levels of coronary-artery plaque than a control group of sedentary men. A British Medical Journal study published this year compared the carotid arteries of 42 Boston Marathon qualifiers with their much-less active spouses. “We hypothesized that the runners would have a more favourable atherosclerotic risk profile,” says the article. As it turned out, that hypothesis was wrong.

Many assumed that extreme-endurance sports could help prevent heart disease, but now the research suggests this extreme activity may actually cause problems.

We should be careful of course to jump to conclusions after several studies, but certainly this raises questions and challenges old assumptions.

It also brings us back to some common sense notions that moderation in diet and excercise can be the best combination. Pushing anything to the limit – whether its your diet or your activities, can lead to risks.

Handy sports betting tips

Ubaldo Jimenez Cleveland Indians home dubut

For those who do like at least one sport, once you have chosen a suitable one to bet on, make sure that you know how much you can afford to wager each month – and do not exceed this amount, even if you experience a large loss or win. Remaining in control of your betting in the wake of this is what separates the smart, responsible gambling punter from the addict. The next handy tip would be to study the actual betting, as understanding the sport is only half the information you need. Learn about the different types of sports bets you can place, how the bookies odds work and how you work out the “value” of a potential bet – as all these will help you maximise your potential winnings.

This may seem like quite a lot of information to take on board, but most types of gambling will involve some form of learning process. For example, if you are keen to play blackjack you can do so on your phone from a mobile casino such as online casino Canada these days, but you will still have to learn how the game works – including both the player and dealer advantage and when you should split your starting hand. Most casino games will need to be learned, but there are always slot games that can be played with no prior knowledge or instruction. This has led to slot machines becoming the favored casino games amongst casual players, with the jackpot and low-cost betting simply being enjoyable bonuses.

How to control nervous sweats

professor in front of class

Anxiety sweats have the ability to affect us at the worst of times. Hence the name anxiety. You could be preparing for a massive presentation at your new job. It’s the first one you’ve had to do and you spent all week preparing for it. However, despite being a 10 degree temperature outside, you notice a sudden dampness under your pits before you’ve even made it to the office. The mere thought of having to speak in front of people has turned you into a sweaty nervous mess. The enemy is now spreading fast and your levels of stress is increasing. You consider calling in sick, but your boss has just noticed you and given you the big thumbs up. What a jerk.

Does this scenario sound familiar? At least the sweating and the nervous part of it? Hyperhidrosis is a common condition that affects more people than you know. The reasons as to why people experience excess sweating is different for each. Some only need to imagine having a conversation with people and they start sweating. If you’re at your wits end and unable to control nervous sweating, here’s some tips to help you out.

Wear breathable clothing

When you’re nervous your body temperature tends to increase resulting in those undesirable wet patches. The level of sweat you produce can reduce significantly if you are wearing clothing that is light and breathable. Try to avoid cheap synthetic materials opting for fabrics like cotton and silk.

Recognise your triggers

Anxiety attacks are overwhelming and besides sweating, you are likely to experience tightening in the chest, overactive heart rate, intrusive or unwanted thoughts, obsessive thinking or compulsive behaviour patterns. If you can recognise a few of the things that trigger your anxiety, find ways to redirect your focus on anything other than how you are feeling. This may be talking to others, exercise, playing or listening to music, watching a movie and painting a picture to hang in the hallway.

Adopt deep breathing techniques

This sounds far too simple to be effective, however breathing is a calming technique that cools down the body and reduces the need to sweat. By sitting down and taking a deep breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, you’ll begin to notice results within a few minutes.

Clinical Strength Antiperspirant

If you’re currently using a deodorant over an antiperspirant, it’s time to make the switch. Along with sweating, also comes body odour. An unpleasant aroma that is not only embarrassing but makes you even more anxious in social and professional environments. Curb this with a strong antiperspirant like Rexona Clinical for Men, which will block the pores stopping excessive sweating in its tracks.

Watch what you eat

An overlooked cause for anxiety sweats is eating foods that your body can’t tolerate. For many people this may mean dairy products or gluten. By eating foods that make your body unhappy, it has to work overtime to protect your tissue from the harmful components of the food your body disagrees with. When your immune system kicks into overdrive, your sympathetic nervous system mistakes this for stress, which activates stress coping mechanisms like sweat. Not sure if you’re intolerant to anything? Pay a visit to your naturopath, what they say might surprise you.

While there are plenty of quick fixes to excessive sweating like Botox and anti-depressants, make sure you talk to your doctor before deciding whether these options are right for you.

Bikini bodybuilding journey

Here’s a very interesting story as a reporter goes through a training cycle to compete in a figure competition. Wall Street Journal reporter Alyssa Abkowitz took on a more intense project after toning up for her wedding by entering into a fitness competition and discovering the world of bikini bodybuilding. In the video she discusses the process along with her diet and workout routines.

PAIN TOLERANCE: The Most Underrated Exercise Variable

As yet another year in the new millennium gets underway, it isn’t a secret that scribbled next to ‘Quit smoking’, or ‘Cut back on alcohol intake’, many a resolute soul jotted down earnest promises regarding the acquisition of fitness and health. In other words:

Get ripped.

Get a six-pack.

Pack on ‘x’ amount of lean muscle.

Lose ‘x’ amount of fat.

Complete particular endurance event.

Return to pre-pregnancy body.

Lower blood pressure.

And so on and so forth, et cetera, et cetera.

In fitness terms, an entire year is a long time; definitely sufficient enough to complete a transformation that would make even Voltron blush. However, if the modus operandi is faulty, no amount of time or trendy new exercises and equipment will yield the results you really deserve.

So where do you go for that extra edge? That one X-factor that will separate your killer new routine from the ones that do little more than cause mass boredom and a hopeless staring contest with your anything-but-broken-in running shoes.

What if there was a variable regarding training that most people never considered and ever had the option of seeing listed alongside a workout routine? Not only is this tidbit free to everyone, but also incredibly potent and if learned correctly, can morph any dull exercise into award-winning training and allow an individual to truly succeed with their physical endeavors.

This variable is Pain Tolerance, or, in other words, one’s ability to confront and digest the party platter of discomfort brought about through hard exercise.

Before I go any further, let me clarify that the type of pain in question here is healthy strain derived from proper exercise and NOT joint pain, heart pain, or any other skeletal pain that comes from improper form or poor health and could potentially be dangerous and damaging. Regardless, this distress can take many forms, from a quad-searing burnout on the leg extension to a chest-annihilating giant set on the bench press; even a screaming in the lungs from a personal best at running the mile.

There is a quote that gets tossed around a lot in cycling that simply goes, “To be a cyclist is to be a student of pain.” We may not all be cyclists or even have the slightest inclination to don a skin-tight cycling kit and ride up a few mountains, yet that is the truly great thing about pain tolerance: it applies to everything physical.

Sure, if someone has a great pain tolerance yet goes into the gym and trains like a drunken Richard Simmons, he/she is not going to automatically be on the road to reaching true results, yet when that person does in fact learn to execute their workouts with the precision of science-based routines, it is safe to say they will surpass another doing the same routines due to the fact that they have taught their mind to turn the volume down on that pesky voice in the back of your head screams, “QUIT!”

Pain is tied into working out at the most basic levels. It truly is a physiological variable, although a more scholarly exercise physiologist or personal trainer may use language that disguises pain with smug terms such as ‘lactic acid buildup’, or ’100% VO2 max’ – AKA, “THIS IS BRUTAL!”

Let’s think about some real life exercise situations. When you walk into the weight room and are looking to start off with some bicep training, you may head over to a weight rack, pick up a barbell, then begin doing focused curls. The muscle fibers in your biceps will soon contract and relax in unison with each exertion and your mind perceives this strain as a form of pain.

It hurts, burns, whatever, the main point is that when attempting many exercises, pain is going to a one of the first and most unruly people knocking at the door of your workout party with one goal – crashing it. One of the main things that sets a successful, results-based exerciser apart from one who flounders aloofly and never loses the weight or gets the strength/muscle, is what he/she does when the pain enters the room.

Are you the type of person who begins the repetitions yet drops the barbell and curses, “Damn, that is really painful, let me grab a lighter weight or cut back a few reps”, or do you confront the pain head on and say, “YEAH? SO WHAT? I’m getting this fitness no matter how much you scream and complain,” and proceed to push pain to the side and break through its limitations?

We’ve all seen shows like the Biggest Loser, where a frustrated trainer watches as client after client easily bails on a particular workout and claims they simply can’t go on. When you see something like that occurring, truly analyze what that person is basically saying: it is clear as day that they are not familiar with the physical pain needed to really make results and this unfamiliarity is too shocking for their system to cope with, causing the mind the give up.

The thing is, that is OK! It doesn’t make them a bad or lazy person, it is just that their previous way of life and absence of physicality has left them with a currently very poor ability to digest the stress and pain tied to hard training and it will take some time before they can speak that language.

It is similar to a situation where a shredded workout guru with the utmost masochistic prowess suddenly makes a resolution to become versed in Russian History, yet on their first lesson with the professor, flounders under the heavy course load and cries out at the amount of focused, relentless studying needed to master the material. It isn’t that they will never be able to give a brilliant oration on Rasputin and the Tsars, it’s just that most human beings need time to adjust to the stresses necessary for seriously excelling above the norm.

So how does one gauge his/her pain tolerance? You probably already have a good concept of this, yet here are two great ways to get a feel for it:

Leg extensions: (Even better if done at the end of leg day). Set the weight to about 50% of your one rep max and begin doing focused, squeezing-at-the-top reps, and continue this until that familiar discomfort starts growing out of your quads and attempting to smack your motivation around.

Preacher curls: Grab a similarly graded weight and begin doing concentrated reps. Preacher curls and leg extensions are great ways to gauge pain tolerance because they are completed in a fixed motion and do not require any real form. For instance, if two people were doing squats, there would be a whole myriad of factors that may throw off the delegation of work to the muscles.

With these exercises, and many others like it, you can easily become familiar with what true physical and mental exercise strain feels like, and acclimating yourself to such an extreme will do wonders for every other motion you attempt to do work with.

There have been countless cases of athletes who, according to high-tech lab tests and pages of results, shouldn’t have outperformed their counterparts yet did so because there is no number or test that can quantify a humans ability to dig deep and really desire something.

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” -Vince Lombardi.

That’s it for now. Remember, when trying to fulfill your fitness goals this year, try taking a little detour from browsing the newest workouts or equipment and instead focus on being comfortable with the uncomfortable – your workouts will thank you.

Strategies for Online 7-Card Stud: Starting Hand and 4th Street

One of the biggest threats to your health and overall well-being is stress. It’s important for you to have some stress-relieving hobbies to help alleviate some of the tension. Poker is an excellent way of relieving stress. Of course, learning to successfully play is necessary to maximize the experience, as constantly losing can tack its own undesired levels of stress.

Becoming even more popular than Texas Hold ‘em, 7-Card Stud is an entertaining card game that requires a lot of strategies and close attention. Here are some basic strategies that you can utilize as you get started relieving your stress and having fun.

Starting Hand

When playing 7-card stud, the first strategy is whether to continue the hand once you’ve put in your ante and dealt the first three cards. Remember, you don’t want to get too attached to your ante. You can play online poker for real money, but antes really aren’t that much money and you don’t want to get too invested on a rotten hand. With the first three cards, you want to take a look and see if they fit into any of these four categories:

• Three of a kind
• High pair (10 or above)
• Three to a flush
• Three to a straight

If you have a high pair, you want to drive out the others by betting and getting them to fold early on before they have a pair or other hand that is potentially higher than yours. With a flush, you want a strong flush with a high card, preferably an ace. Since this is a draw hand, it’s a slow build rather than raising wherever possible. It’s pretty much the same deal with three to a straight. With this hand, you’re looking for an outside straight, such as a 9, 10 and Jack, rather than something like an 8, 9, and Jack.

If none of these works out for you, consider folding here rather than losing more down the line.

4th Street Strategies

Once you get to 4th street, if you have a four of a kind, play it slow so that others will drive up the pot as they develop straights and flushes. If you have a three of a kind, you want to drive others out quickly by jamming the pot so that they don’t get the straights and flushes they’re working on. Same goes for a high two-pair. If you have a draw hand, because you’re working on a flush or straight, place a bet and call if you are raised. Keep your eye out too for the cards you need on another player’s porch. The more cards you need that are there, the less chance you are to get the card(s) you need.

Once you get to 5th street, the strategies will change as you near the end of the game, and the most money is lost, so check your pride at the door and be ready to fold if the cards aren’t in your favor.

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