10 Awesome Hacks That Will Make You Healthier

10 Awesome Hacks That Will Make You Healthier

 

10 Awesome Hacks that will make You Healthier

I don’t know of a single soul who has not wished for a pill that they could take for better fitness.

It would be so much easier, wouldn’t it?

Easier than all that time, that commitment and sweat you have to deposit for a better-looking body that will stay above ground for the longest period of time.

However, we don’t have that… yet.

Currently there are no secrets, no pills and no magic formulas (no matter what Dr. Oz says) that will get us healthy.

What I can share with you, though, are some life hacks that you can add into your day. Easy hacks that will improve your health, your fitness and your waistline.

10 [awesome] hacks that will make you healthier

1/ Have protein for breakfast.

Specifically over 30 grams. A study by the Biofortis Clinical Research team at the University of Missouri showed that protein in the morning can help you consume fewer calories throughout the day, as well as burn more fat over time.

The likely reason is due to an improved glycemic control protein has on the body. In other words, your blood sugar levels will be more stable, which in turn will lead to the desire to eat less, while that in turn will lead to a slimmer and trimmer you.

Some examples of a high-protein breakfast are:

  • 1 egg + 1 cup of egg whites (33 grams) scrambled with veggies
  • Egg, black bean and cheese burrito. Try this recipe – it rocks!
  • ¾ cup of plain Greek yogurt and mix in 10-15 grams of protein powder to both up the protein count as well as change the flavour (I love strawberry protein powder in my plain yogurt)
  • A quinoa parfait mixed with Greek yogurt is another great high-protein non-egg option
  • High-protein overnight oats, with added tablespoon of chia seed to add another 4 grams of protein
  • Protein Pancake
  • Slow Cooker Frittata
>> Never Eat This for Breakfast

2/ Ditch the car.

While fitness is important for better health, you cannot ignore the other 23 hours of the day. In fact the science is showing us that it is what we do throughout the day that will better health.

These incremental movements we do throughout the day are called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). This is the energy (calories) the body expends for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise.

The more NEAT we have in our lives the better off our body weight is, as well as our blood pressure, blood sugar levels and stress levels.

Control these and we also ward off a host of diseases.

Some examples of adding NEAT into your life are:

  • Walk whenever you are on the phone
  • Have a walking meeting at work, or instead of coffee out with your friends enjoy your java while walking
  • Take the long way to the bathroom at work
  • Go for walk and do some stretches at lunchtime
  • Get a pedometer to encourage you to walk more
  • Always use the stairs
  • Get up and move around every 30 minutes when on the computer
  • Park your car in the farthest stall away from your destination’s door
  • Stretch while watching television (I am always stretching when watching a movie at home – now if only the movie theatre would be so accommodating!)
  • Do some squats at every commercial break, or before you park your butt on the toilet
  • Perform 10-minutes of yoga before bed. Try this stretch routine.
  • Wake up with 10-minutes stretches or yoga. Try this workout.
  • Walk to the store
  • Make it a point to never go from the dinner table to the living room couch! Spend at least 30-minutes, following dinner, on your feet and moving around.

3/ Get some sleep.

The science on sleep and its importance to our health is abundant. The consequences of lack of shut eye range from higher disease risk, lower mortality, increased waistlines, lowered immune system, depression, memory problems and even accidental death.

>>> How to Improve Your Sleep

Sleep is just as important to our bodies as the air that we breathe and the food that we eat. You see it’s during sleep that our body is tending to our physical and mental health and getting us ready for another day.

>>> Try my Stretches for a Better Night’s Sleep tonight!

Some sleep hacks that you can add into your life for better quality shut eye:

  • Turn off all electronics at least one hour before bed
  • Maintain the same time you go to bed and get up all week
  • Keep your bedroom clutter-free, dark and on the cooler side
  • Try meditation and/or yoga before bed to help calm the mind and central nervous system
  • There are also natural sleep aids such as: melatonin, valerian, chamomile, magnesium and calcium. Talk to a health practitioner, however, before adding any natural herb or supplement to your diet as they can interact with certain medications.
>>> Click here for more awesome sleep tips.

4/ Have your workout clothes ready.

Whether you workout in the morning, or after work, have your gear ready and waiting for you. This one tip has even helped me!

I have started performing fasted cardio 2-3 mornings a week and knowing my gear is out and ready for me gets me out of bed.

I have everything set up. My water with BCAAs is sitting by the sink and my workout gear, my runners and my iPod are in the spare bedroom (so I don’t wake loving husband).

On the flip side, if you want to workout in the evening have your gear in your car and do not go home until you workout.

In my experience most people see more success with sticking to their workouts if they get them done in the morning, or before they go home from work – because once you get home chaos usually ensures, or the couch starts to beacon.

Follow my 1-month training program for fast results.

1 Month FREE Workout Plan - Fitness with PJ

5/ Eat off of smaller plates.

Smaller plates, as well as taller thinner glasses, gives us the illusion that we are eating and drinking more than we really are.

Yes, as ridiculous as it sounds we are actually able to fool ourselves from ourselves.

Here’s a good example. Take a look at the picture below.

Each dot is the exact same in diameter, but doesn’t the one on the left look bigger?

So, if this were a plate or bowl of food it would also seem bigger to your brain, and in turn your brain would mentally “think” that it’s eating more food than it really is therefore telling our stomach to shut up and be satisfied.

Yep, like I said it’s that easy to trick ourselves!

5/ Drink water.

Our body cannot distinguish whether it is thirsty or hungry. Rather it has one signal that it releases when it craves either, and in my experience people are usually dehydrated before they are actually hungry.

TRY THIS: When you get the “signal” from your stomach have a large glass of water and wait 10 minutes. Stomach still grumbling? Have another glass and wait another 10 minutes.

In addition, do not want you to drink too many of your calories either.

Recent studies have found that the calories we consume in liquid form don’t “register” as food in the brain’s satiety centres.

Water is the only liquid that will “fill us up” – anything else is simply extra calories to our waistline.

6/ Keep your workout short and sweet.

Perform a higher intensity workout, like a HIIT or a Tabata, so you can reap the benefits without having to spend a lot of time working out.

This is key for those days you do not want to workout because simply the act of knowing your workout is only 15-20 minutes makes it that much easier to get your runners on.

Need some workout ideas? Try these workouts:

7/ Listen to a podcast or audiobook to get you through your cardio.

Keep your brain busy and learn something new – all while performing your cardio.

Need some podcast ideas? Here are a few top the rated health and fitness podcasts that can be found on iTunes:

Fitness

Nutrition

Health

Self-Improvement

8/ Prep!

Prepare for the week ahead by menu planning and prepping your breakfasts, at least four lunches and a large salad (I call them BAS – big ass salads) to carry you through for dinner side dishes.

This one act alone can help you drop inches and fat, as well as save a lot of time for you during the hectic work week AND you will also get the bulk of your dishes done in one go. Awesome, eh?

9/ Pay yourself.

Start a “tip jar” and tip yourself a dollar (or a loonie for my Canadian peeps) every time you workout and meal plan and prep.

At the end of the month you should have yourself enough coin to buy a new workout top, or a treatment at the spa, or flowers to brighten your kitchen.

10/ Join.

Accountability will hold you true to your health and fitness goals, and nothing breeds accountability than registering and paying for a fitness class, program or a trainer.

This is one of the reasons my 30-Day Diet Bootcamp has quickly become one of my most popular programs.

Each week for four weeks my client meets me one-on-one or on Skype. This personal meeting encourages them to stay on point for the week because they are now answering to more than just themselves.

Got some fitness hacks that you use and work? Share below!
WAIT, BEFORE YOU GO

Want a full month’s workout plan? I’ve put together a one-month plan using my workouts from my YouTube channel.

Follow my 1-month training program for fast results.

1 Month FREE Workout Plan - Fitness with PJ

 

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Beginner Tabata Workout

Beginner Tabata Workout

Beginner Tabata Workout

In March I had the nicest email come my way. It was from a YouTube subscriber who is in her 70’s requesting a beginner’s Tabata workout.

She wanted to see what a Tabata was. However, she wanted to try one that was low impact and would not hurt her.

How can I say no to that?

What is a Tabata?

Tabata workouts are named after this gentleman, Dr. Izumi Tabata, a Japanese physician and researcher.

He conducted a study using an interval-based workout to see if athletes would see the same gains from a shorter training program as they do with a longer duration one.

His initial study used the Japanese Olympic Speed Skating team as his test subjects and the workout consisted of 20 seconds intense work, followed by 10 seconds of rest, for 8 rounds on a stationary bike. The whole workout took 4 minutes for the athletes to complete.

In just 6-weeks of training his subjects improved their anaerobic capacity (the ability for the body to work without oxygen, which in turn promotes speed, strength and power) by 28%, and they increased their VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen the body can use, which improves endurance) by 14%.

While this is a pretty cool study, it is used with elite athletes as the test subjects. Would this type of training work for us mere mortals, as well?

Beginner Tabata Workout

Further proof

In 2013 the American Council on Exercise enlisted a research team of their own to gauge how effective a Tabata-style workout really is – with normal people.

They took a group of 16 men and women who were deemed healthy and either moderately to very fit and between the ages of 20 to 47 years. After their initial treadmill test (to assess their starting VO2 max, maximal heart rate and ratings of perceived exertion – RPE) they had the participants perform 8 rounds of 4 different exercises, using the 20 seconds hard and 10 seconds rest interval for a total of 20 minutes.

The participants used full-body calisthenics with exercises such as: push-ups, mountain climbers, high knees, split squats, box jumps, burpees, jumping rope, side skaters, plank and punch, lunges, squats, high-knees and Russian twists.

The subject’s heart rates were  monitored throughout the workout, while their blood lactate levels were tested with a finger prick blood test and RPE was evaluated after every four-minute segment of exercise.

Immediately following the sessions, the researchers crunched the data and on average showed that during a Tabata workout their subjects averaged 86 percent of HR max and 74 percent of VO2 max —both of which meet or exceed established industry guidelines for improving cardio fitness and promoting fat loss.

As for calorie burning, the 16 subjects burned between 240 and 360 kcals during the workout, for an average of 15 kcals per minute burned.

Again, Tabata met established guidelines for calorie expenditure for improving health and facilitating weight loss.

I love this study due to two reasons:

They used body weight exercises (instead of a stationary bike like Dr. Tabata used), and they used exercises that can be easily replicated at home.

The researcher’s also increased the total workout time from 4 minutes to 20 minutes.

You see what a lot of people don’t understand is that the intensity that Dr. Tabata used on his athletes was extreme.

Even the most fit person would most likely puke at the 2 minute mark. So, by increasing the time of the workout, and dropping the intensity, it makes this type of workout a lot more doable for the average person.

Read more about Tabata workouts and their protocols here.

Beginner Tabata Workout

 

Beginner Tabata Workout Routine

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Skipping Rope Circuit Workout

Skipping Rope Circuit Workout

Skipping Rope Circuit Workout

This 20-minute skipping rope circuit workout is the BOMB!

For 50 seconds an exercise we rotate through 10 exercises alternating between a skipping drill and a lower body or a core drill.

After the 20-minutes is up we finish off with a nice stretch and you get to end your workout all sweaty and happy.

Skipping Rope Facts

  • Jumping rope burns more than 10 calories a minute
  • The effort it takes to jump rope for 10 minutes is the equilvalent of running a mile in eight minutes
  • Skipping is a full body workout. You use your core to stabilize, your legs and glutes for jumping and your arms and shoulders to turn the rope
  • You can burn 200 calories in two 10-minute skipping sessions
  • Skipping is less jolting on the joints than running
  • Jumping rope is a weight-bearing exercise, so it can help improve bone density and stave off osteoporosis
  • Skipping helps improve your heart rate and blood pressure
  • Skipping also aids your coordination and balance

Skipping Rope Workout - Fitness with PJ

Skipping Rope Circuit Workout

 

Skipping Rope Circuit Workout - Fitness with PJ

 

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The Best Vitamins You Should Be Taking

The Best Vitamins You Should Be Taking

The Best Vitamins You Should be Taking

In a perfect world we would consume all of the needed nutrients for good health through diet alone.

However, this is far from a perfect world.

Our diets are not nourishing us like they should be, and this is due to a number of reasons.

Why we need vitamins

First, most of us don’t eat “clean” 100% of time. We don’t always eat the recommended servings for fruits and vegetables and we have been known, on occasion, to eat from a box instead of a home-cooked meal.

Second, the foods today do not possess the same nutrients that they used to (due to poor soil quality and GMOs), and third we are not getting the variety of foods, on a daily basis, that we should be to cover the gamut of nutrients we need to function our best with.

All of these leave gaps in our diet that need to be filled by vitamins and supplements.

This does not, however, give you free rein to eat what you want because you can supplement good health.

You will always get more from a vegetable and a piece of fruit than you will from a pill.

The best vitamins you should be taking

To find out what the best vitamins and supplements most people should be taking on a regular basis I consulted with Halina Kwiatkowska, owner and operator of Ladner’s sweetest little health store Parsley, Sage and Thyme.

I wanted to know if there were certain vitamins that we should be taking, and if so, do these recommendations change as we get older.

For all ages Kwiatkowska recommends a:

– A good multi-vitamin

– A probiotic

– Omega-3

(Note: These are general recommendation. Grab a more detailed and specific recommendation for your health by visiting Parsley, Sage and Thyme).

Multivitamin

She explains that a multivitamin is a “foundational supplement” containing vitamins and minerals (and in some cases other nutrients as well), considered necessary for our daily functioning.

Think of a multivitamin as our “insurance”. A little extra added protection for our health.

You can also buy multivitamins specific to your gender, as we well as your age group and other specific conditions like prenatal or active multi’s for athletes, tailoring your multi to your life and lifestyle.

I am in love with this brand of multivitamin and I buy the over 40 women blend.

Health is like money. We never have a true idea of its worth until we lose it. #Truth Click To Tweet

Probiotics

Probiotics are recommended for a healthy digestive tract and gut. They are the healthy bacteria keeping our gut, and our health, happy.

Unfortunately, our modern North American diet, accompanied with overmedication and over-sterilization, has stripped us of essential, beneficial bacteria in our gut and we need to supplement with a probiotic to counteract this.

Probiotics will help to keep our digestion and absorption going, not to mention help support our immune system so we can fight off infections, flus, colds and other illnesses.

Probiotics can be found in fermented foods such as:

Sauerkraut

Kimichi

Kosher pickles

Tempeh

Kombucha tea

Miso soup

Kefir

Yogurt

These are not foods a lot of us eat on a regular basis, though, which is understandable why they are a recommended supplement.

Local peeps! If you need a kick in the a** to get your diet and waistline back in order sign up for my 30-Day Diet Bootcamp. You get the plan, weekly coaching and support for the 30 days.

Omega 3’s

Omega-3’s are essential to our health as well. However, as essential as they are our bodies we cannot produce them. We have to consume omega-3 rich foods and supplements from our diet.

Omega-3’s protect our cells from inflammation. They are able to envelope every cell of our body, giving them the protection they need from the stresses of daily life.

These stresses and inflammations can be brought on by a poor diet, a high stress life, an active lifestyle (yes, exercise is inflammatory), as well as current disease and sickness.

Omega 3’s can also be used to combat diseases like arthritis, as well as the prevention of Alzheimer’s.

Omega 3’s are most abundant in cold water fish, as well as in some seeds like chia, sacha inchi and flax.

When supplementing, look for an Omega-3 that has a higher EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) to DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). In addition, talk to your physician before adding them as a supplement to your diet as they can interact with some medications.

Over 40 vitamin recommendations

As we get older, into our 40’s and 50’s, Kwiatkowska recommends adding an adrenal support supplement, vitamin D3 and magnesium to our daily diet as well.

Adrenal support is particularly important for women in their peri and menopausal years, as well as anyone who has high levels of the stress hormone cortisol floating through their blood on a daily basis.

How do you know if that’s you?

Some classic signs of adrenal exhaustion are:

Fatigue

Depressed mood

Irritability

Unable to drag yourself out of bed, yet in the evening you can’t fall asleep

Brain fog and poor memory

You rely on sugary snacks and caffeine to get you through the day.

If that’s you, you need to start taking care of your adrenal glands and begin making some lifestyle choices that will lower your cortisol levels.

Vitamin D3 is important because it is involved in regulating the levels of the minerals calcium and phosphorus. It also boosts our immune system and is used for conditions of the heart and blood vessels, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

In addition, vitamin D3 is used for diabetes, obesity, muscle weakness, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, bronchitis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and tooth and gum disease and certain skin conditions.

It’s lack in our bodies has been linked to every cancer ever known.

Health Canada has recognized the importance of D3 and recently raised the daily intake of vitamin D3 to 8,000 IU (International Units) per day, even in the summer months.

Magnesium is an important supplement as we age as it is needed to help combat diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, osteoporosis, and liver disease to name a few.

Magnesium will also help curb anxiety and panic attacks, relieve insomnia and reduce muscle cramping (important if you are active).

The Best Vitamins

Best time to take your vitamins

When the best time to take your vitamins?

Most supplements are best taken in the morning, but some require to be taken twice or even three times a day.

Most multivitamins are twice a day, with the first one always in the morning and the second one in the afternoon, but not too late in the evening.

Other supplements that are specific to a condition may vary on when the best times are to take.

For example, most minerals should be taken in the evening as they absorb better when you are sleeping.

Take your vitamins with or without food

Multivitamins, minerals and most supplements should be taken with food to help ease their digestion and absorption.

Kwiatkowska explains that in the presence of a snack or a meal, your vitamins will be broken down as part of that meal and enter the bloodstream slowly.

This will prevent a stomach ache, burping (which can be a tad embarrassing when out in public), or a digestive upset.

Taking your vitamins and supplements with food will also slow down the uptake of nutrients into the bloodstream.

In the end, though, it’s important to first eat real food, second supplement when you need to and third live an active and healthy lifestyle – no matter what age you are.

Parsley, Sage &Thyme Natural Health Store has been part the Delta/Ladner community since the early 1970s. www.parsleysagethyme.com

 

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Toning Cardio Workout for Home

Toning Cardio Workout for Home

Toning Cardio Workout

My 20-Minute Toning Cardio Workout for Home is perfect for on vacation, as well as any time you are travelling and don’t have any access to equipment.

I added a lot of core moves into this one too, so if you are desiring stronger abs this is a great toning cardio workout for you.

The sad news is I am all by myself for this workout. Loving husband was not feeling well so I did not have the heart to drag him along. I must admit, though, I missed him.

20-Minute Toning Cardio Workout

What exactly is a “toning cardio workout”, you might be wondering?

Well, basically it’s a workout where we are going to build some strength as well as build your heart and lungs. I have used a lot of body weight moves that will challenge the muscles enough to stimulate some growth (good news!) and at a pace that will keep the heart rate up.

You’re gonna love it!

Click here if the video does not appear for you.

20-Minute Toning Cardio Workout

Burn more fat by doing this workout first thing in the morning, before you eat.

By performing cardio in a “fasted” state research is now indicating that we will hit our fat stores faster. You see instead of using the carbs from our food to help motor us through our cardio, we will use our pesky fat stores instead.

I, myself, have been testing this theory and have seen positive results with it. Give it a try with this workout.

20-Minute Toning Cardio Workout

20-Minute Toning Cardio Workout

 

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