Monday, July 28, 2014

Retreat Spa Health & Fitness Focus Summer Special


It’s summertime, the beaches beckon and we all want be in swimsuit shape.
If you're feeling a little flabby around the middle or just want to do a little toning up, let these tips be your guide.

1. Avoid eating anything 2-3 hours before sleeping.
Your body slows down when you sleep, which will prevent your body from digesting the food in your stomach properly.
You are also much less active in the evenings and at night, which means that your body is more likely to store the calories you consume late at night as fat, rather than burning them as energy.

2. Eat healthier.
There's no real secret when it comes to having a flat-tummy friendly diet, you simply need to eat more healthy foods like fruit, vegetable and whole grains, and cut down on junk food, like chocolate, chips and fast food. Just by making this simple switch, you'll see a world of difference to your stomach. Try to ease into a healthy diet by slowly, but consistently replacing the bad with the good. Here are some simple examples:

Eat lots of lean protein. Avoid fatty meats and remove the skin from Chicken. Eat lean proteins such as beans, nuts chicken breast and fish.
Eat whole grains. Look for labels that say "100% whole grain" or "100% whole wheat" and not just "wheat flour." They keep you fuller longer, which helps with weight loss and getting a flat tummy.
Eat healthy fats. Not all fat is bad! The monounsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts and fish are actually very good for you and can help you to lose weight. Just stay away from the trans fats found in processed foods and baked goods.
Lower your sodium intake. Sodium causes your body to retain water, which causes you to look bloated—especially around your abdominal region. Whenever possible, try replacing high-sodium foods with healthier options. Switch regular table salt for kosher or sea salt, or Himalayan salt , which are low in sodium, and stay away from soy sauce as it's full of it.

3. Check your portion sizes.
Many people just eat too much of the right foods. If you're eating regular, healthy snacks throughout the day, this shouldn't leave you feeling hungry.
A simple way to determine portion size is:
Your protein portion should be the size of your palm (without fingers)
(Complete protein includes: Lean chicken breast, white fish, tuna, egg whites, lean pork, turkey, beef tenderloins, etc)
A serving of complete carbohydrates (grains) is a cupped handful.
(Complete carbohydrates includes: fresh fruit, grains, vegetables, etc.)
A serving of vegetables you can hold in two cupped hands together.
Also try to eat slower, so that the extra time will give your stomach a chance to realize that it's full, thus preventing you from over-eating.

4. Eat low-glycemic index foods.
These items take longer to digest, so you feel full longer. Your body will slowly absorb the nutrients so you'll avoid any spikes or drops in your blood sugar until your next meal. Some of the best low-GI foods are:
Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumbers, Zucchini, Dark leaf lettuce, Onions, Pears, Tomatoes, Watercress, Broccoli, Bananas, Apples, Berries.

5. Cut down on sugary food and drinks.
Besides being full of empty calories, having less sugar in your system will help to lower your insulin levels.
Lower insulin levels equate to greater production of a hormone known as glucagon in your system. Glucagon is a substance that allows glucose to be burned as energy, thus contributing to a fabulously flat stomach!

6. Eat protein-rich snacks.
According to experts, eating a protein-rich snack at the magic hour between three and four in the afternoon will boost your metabolism and balance your blood sugar.
A protein bar or shake, a handful of almonds or pumpkin seeds are all good options.
Having balanced blood sugars lowers the amount of insulin in your system, which is good because insulin can cause you to store fat around your middle.

7. Eat small, frequent meals.
Replace your usual system of eating three large meals a day, with eating smaller, more regular meals. Many people make the mistake of eating nothing at all between breakfast, lunch and dinner, especially when they are trying to lose weight.
However, this type of diet will negatively effect blood sugar levels and cause you to eat more due to hunger, thus making it harder to loose weight.
Having a small, healthy snack every three to four hours and not letting yourself go hungry is a much healthier and more effective system.

8. Cut down on alcohol.
Alcohol, particularly wine and beer, is full of calories (one bottle of wine contains approximately 600 calories).
Alcohol consumption also releases estrogen into the system, which is undesirable, as excess estrogen causes the body to retain weight.
In addition, alcohol stimulates appetite and causes will power to melt away, making you much more likely to binge on all the things you've been depriving yourself of, like burgers, fries, pizza, chocolate and potato chips.

9. Drink plenty of water.
You should replace all your regular beverages with water, especially soda and sugared drinks which are full of empty calories and will cause your stomach to bloat.
Drinking lots of water will help to flush toxins out of your system and keep your bowels moving, both of which are essential for a flat stomach.
If you find regular water too boring, consider making sassy water instead. Sassy water is simply regular water infused with a number of refreshing and energizing natural ingredients, which help to speed up the metabolism and cut down on belly fat. Recipes vary, but many include some combination of ingredients such as orange slices, lemon slices, grated ginger, cucumber, fresh spearmint and fresh basil. The water is left to infuse overnight - making it refreshingly "sassy" by the next morning!
Pay attention to your body's signs. Your urine should be a light yellow or clear color; dark yellow with an odor could be a sign that you are dehydrated.

10. Exercise
Lie flat on your back placing your feet on the floor with your knees hip distance apart. Place your hands at your temples, with your shoulders and elbows back. Take a deep breath in and lift in an upward direction. Hold for 5 seconds breathing outwards and expelling all your air whilst making sure that you focus on the core muscles of the abdominals. To increase the intensity, place the soles of your feet together and open your knees so that your hips turn outwards. This removes the hip flexors from the exercise and further isolates the abdominals strengthening and toning them. Do 30 repetitions of each exercise.

Good luck and wishing you all a great summer ! 
From The Retreat Spa Team 


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