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10 Tips for maintaining a Beach Perfect Body

Brazil is famous for a number of things, but when it comes to health and exercise Brazil is most famous for its beautiful women, hunky men and sunny beaches.

Not everyone in Brazil is fit however. Yes, its true that fitness gyms are ubiquitous in Brazil... as commonplace as tiny Brazilian bikinis and men's Speedos, but did you know that Brazil's obesity rate is rising rapidly?

So you may be in for an eye-popping experience if you visit Brazil and see ample-sized women wearing bikinis and men with beer bellies spilling over the tops of their Speedos. Yes, it sounds disgusting, and its true.

The evidence is alarming for a country known for its beautiful women and hunky men. Brazilians are getting fatter and fatter, and in a country with a fondness for cosmetic surgery and breeding supermodels it is rather embarrassing.

Its described as the “American tendency” says Gloria Valeria da Veiga, a professor who specializes in obesity studies at the Institute of Nutrition at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil's booming economy has spawned a consumer class of people who can afford to eat fast food constantly and eat out regularly. The obesity rates in Rio, Sao Paulo and Brasilia where the working class has busy schedules means they also have less time for exercise and are buying more packaged, salty and sugary foods.

In the past the traditional Brazilian foodstuffs included manioc root, sweet potatoes, fish and fruits... But now that has been replaced by supersized portions of beef, potatoes and rice at restaurants... which means lots of carbs being eaten by a consumer class of people who don't exercise much.

33% of Brazilian children ages 5 to 9 are overweight and 14% are obese;

20% of Brazilian teenagers are overweight and 5% are obese; (This suggests teenagers are either getting more exercise than children, are eating better or both.)

50% of Brazilian adults are overweight and 15% are obese. (This suggests that once they go off to college and enter the working class of adults that they start putting on the pounds.)

Stats from the National Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, 2008-09 study.

Now of course these obesity rates aren't terribly high compared to some other countries. eg. Canada's obesity rate is 24% for adults and the USA is 36%. But give Brazil a decade or two and they may be waddling around like the Americans already do.

So how do we maintain a Brazilian Style "Beach Perfect Body"?

Exercise like a teenager. It is evident the teenagers are doing something right so lets go down the list of the types of activities do in terms of exercise.

#1. Bicycling. Teenagers ride bicycles (or rollerblades or skateboards) everywhere because they don't have a car yet. Want to have that beach perfect body? Start by cycling instead of taking a car.

#2. Walking quickly. Ever noticed that teenagers don't walk slowly? They're almost jogging they buzz from place to place so quickly. They're burning extra calories just by going a little bit faster.

#3. Walking instead of Driving. Again, like the bicycle teenagers will walk to where they need to go when they don't have a car.

#4. Running up stairs. When was the last time you ran up the stairs 2 or 3 at a time? That is cardio and teenagers do it for fun / because they're impatient.

#5. Jumping fences. If you haven't jumped a fence lately you're probably out of shape. Go ahead, trespass a little. Hop a fence or two.

#6. Swimming. Swimming is really good cardio exercise. It burns calories and swimming outdoors will also get you a nice tan in the process. If you don't know how to swim consider getting swimming lessons.

#7. Go outside more often. If you're staying inside and watching TV or on the internet constantly the chances you have an expanding waistline go up dramatically. It takes exercise to shed the pounds and the best way to exercise is to go outside.

#8. Play in Team Sports. Take up soccer, football, basketball, baseball for fun. It will get you outside and moving. If team sports aren't your thing try archery, boxing, dancing, martial arts, yoga or activities you can do alone.

#9. Teenagers are picky eaters. They basically won't eat anything that they think is disgusting, too fattening or maybe they just don't know how it was made and don't trust it. Do the same. Or you could even adopt the Traditional Brazilian Diet of manioc root, sweet potatoes, fish and fruits.

#10. Drink lots of water. Teenagers tend to drink a lot and so should you.

BONUS! Hire a personal trainer to get lots of extra advice and encouragement to exercise. If you live in Downtown Toronto and need a personal trainer you could hire me.

Family Fitness for Cancer Patients

By David Haas

Cancer patients often feel helpless when they are diagnosed with breast cancer, colon cancer, mesothelioma cancer, or another cancer type, but they aren’t the only ones who suffer from a perceived lack of control. Family members of cancer patients often feel helpless and useless in the face of a loved one's cancer battle and want to help any way they can. Studies have shown that physical fitness and exercise are helpful to cancer patients whose bodies need help to survive treatment, but loved ones of cancer patients can benefit from exercise as well.

While some cancer patients will not feel up to exercising during cancer treatment, many doctors agree that exercise helps the body fight. Physical fitness also boosts the mood, improves circulation, and gives the patient a sense of self-confidence. Group therapy may also be effective for cancer patients and the love and support of family members in particular will likely benefit both the patient and the family. Cancer patients may feel alone during treatment, but the support of others will help them soldier on with the treatment.

In addition to being an outlet for love and support, exercise can help an entire family burn through stress. Cancer patients suffer during treatments, but their families suffer by watching their pain as well. Exercise burns off that stress and produces feel-good chemicals in the brain that boost moods. Physical fitness is also good for general health; if families get in the habit of exercising together, then they might be able to avoid medical problems-- including contracting cancer later in life.

There are a variety of exercises that families can do that will benefit those dealing with cancer. Some gyms and health clubs offer special classes for cancer patients, but family members can exercise together at home as well. Yoga and tai chi, for example, are fairly simple to learn; while people can attend classes, they can also purchase books and instructional films or find information on the Internet. Some people do not consider such methods to be true exercises, but many yoga and tai chi routines can be quite rigorous.

Walking and hiking are also good family activities for those with cancer. Most doctors agree that exercise does not have to be strenuous in order to be effective; in fact, some experts believe that continuous, steady walking might be as good for the body as heavy cardiovascular exercising. Hiking especially gives families the opportunity to experience the great outdoors in a park; if cancer patients and their families live near such places, the parks will often have trails of differing lengths and difficulties.

Families dealing with cancer may also want to consider swimming if they have access to a pool. Swimming can be physically demanding, but the buoyancy caused by the water can often lessen the weight placed on joints. Everyone from the elderly to little children can enjoy swimming as long as proper precautions are taken. Swimming is a fun way for the whole family to cool down during the summer.

Not all cancer patients experience treatments in the same way and some patients have more energy and stamina than others. Those patients who can engage in rigorous exercise should do as much as possible as this builds up the body and helps it survive treatments. Team sports like soccer, football, and ultimate Frisbee are excellent ways to exercise, even for families. In fact, simply playing football or soccer in the backyard several times a week is good exercise. Dodgeball is another fun choice, especially for larger families that can get large groups together.

Families can also rollerblade and ride bikes together; cancer patients who can stand such vigorous exercise will enjoy the benefits of fitter bodies for treatments and the good times they are having with their families. Going to a skating rink can be fun for the whole family and everyone can do as much or as little as they want. There are also ample places at a skating rink for cancer patients to rest should they get tired.

Cancer patients will need to accept that they will not always feel up to exercising and that when they feel so inclined, they will not be able to exercise as strenuously as they normally can. Patients should not overextend themselves; families can help monitor fatigue levels and can proceed accordingly. Families will have to learn to walk the fine line between encouraging and pressuring, but the results are worth it.

The Frugal Summer Workout

Summertime is a great time to exercise and lose weight as long as you can avoid the beer tents and ice cream shops. In the summer most people eat less and become more active outdoors.

Below is a series of four exercises which take about 12 minutes to do. Done daily they provide a full body workout which focuses on the body parts most exposed in the summertime: Legs, butt, triceps and abs. Thus this workout is good for if you want to get that beach perfect body and is a great compliment to your regular cardio and/or weightlifting routine.

#1. Wall Sit for 1 Minute

#2. 20 Squats

#3. 20 Dips

#4. 20 Crunches

Repeat each of the four exercises 3 times in a rotating order and you've got yourself a full body workout that costs you nothing.

And its only 12 minutes per day!

You are what you eat!

Ever had pizza and then felt bloated and un-energetic the next day? Its the result of the amount of carbs and grease that goes into a pizza. Some people even get headaches after eating such food and it takes them awhile to realize what was really wrong with them.

Take my friend Kelly for instance. For many years she thought spicy food was giving her gas, so she would usually try to avoid spicy food but sometimes would eat it anyway because she likes it so much. Except 6 months ago she finally discovered it wasn't the spicy food at all. She was actually a bit lactose intolerant and the end result is flatulence. Which is kind of funny really. But at least now she can have spicy food without worrying, its the milk she has been forced to cut back on.

But my end point is that most of us don't track exactly what we eat an thus when we get weird symptoms we really don't know what piece of food or drink is causing it unless we take the time to observe and record.

For certain types of food the answer is most obvious. Fatty foods make you feel sluggish, bloated and un-energetic.

And the silly thing it is only made worse when we are tired. When too tired to cook we are more likely to do the following:

1. Eat out at a restaurant, which typically means foods higher in carbs / fatty foods.

2. Reach for the junk food as a quick snack (and before you know it, you've eaten the whole bag).

3. Reach for something that is quick and easy to make. The proverbial TV dinner is really not as healthy as we like to think because of lots of added sodium.

What we are supposed to be doing if we want our body to be healthy and feeling good is not dining in restaurants, limiting our sodium / fat intake, avoiding junk food, and having a healthy balance of food including lots of fruit and veggies.

I've also discovered that too much of certain types of food (eg. potatoes) can also make you feel bloated because your body can only absorb so much. You really do need a balanced mixture if you want to avoid such feelings. Thus in the future when you come home from work exhausted what you really need to do is eat some fruit and make a salad with veggies in it. If you have leftover chicken, make a chicken salad.

Try increasing the variety and aiming for a balanced mixture in your diet and then compare how much more energetic you feel.

Three High Protein Options for Veggie Lovers

If you want to increase your protein intake but still maintain a healthy balance with your veggies, here are some great options and you won't need to resort to using protein powder.

1. Eggs or Egg Whites or Fresh Egg Nog

I personally eat the whole egg, because the yellow bit has healthy Omega-3 fatty acids in it. Some people only eat the egg whites because they only want the protein, but don't underestimate the value of Omega-3 fatty acids since they speed up and maintain your metabolism - and your body cannot synthesize those acids, they can only be gained through egg yolks, certain types of fish and plants oils.

The best way to eat eggs is actually raw - so you get the most nutrients out of it - and one way to do this if you can't stomach drinking down raw eggs like Rocky Balboa [see the video below] is to make egg nog using nothing more than milk, eggs and a blender. No alcohol required, that is more of a festive thing to do.

2. Beans and Legumes

Green lentils, black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans etc all have a good amount of protein. They are also source of complex carbohydrates. This is not a bad thing! Try having a bean salad with veggies and get a well rounded meal!

3. Tempeh

If you don't know what tempeh is you're about to find out. Word to the wise, tofu is too processed. Tempeh is fermented soy and a healthier alternative to tofu. The best part is that tempeh has a taste and can still absorb flavor like tofu, but without the downsides of tofu. The only downside is that it has to be steamed for about 10 minutes. It has a slightly bitter taste, but depending on what you mix it with you won't even notice. When it's cooked properly the taste can be described as nutty or similar to mushrooms.

4. Jell-O

Believe it or not Jell-O has protein in it. The gelatin is mostly protein and the end result is that pack of Jell-O is 9 to 10% protein. Its not a huge source, but I thought I would include it in this list for kicks.

Jell-O is proof that it is a good idea to read labels, thus you learn that cottage cheese, natural Greek yogurt and other things are also high in protein. Often its things you wouldn't even think of.

Ever heard of the Accidentally Vegan List? Its a list of food items which, when you read the ingredients, are actually Vegan safe. Oreos for example. Maybe someone should make a list of things that are accidentally high in protein.

Preventing Loose Skin during Weight Loss

Loose Skin is a common result of weight loss programs (or liposuction / gastric bypass surgery), especially ones that make you lose a lot of weight at a faster rate.

If you are trying to lose weight, you probably want to improve your appearance and enhance your attractiveness. However, even when you do achieve your ideal weight, you can end up with a new worry when you see loose and sagging skin all over your body. Thus learning how to prevent loose skin from weight loss becomes just as important as the weight loss itself, because as you can see from the photo on the right it can be pretty embarrassing.

Lose Weight Gradually

Sagging skin usually afflicts people who have undergone a rapid weight loss method, sometimes due to gastric bypass surgery or liposuction. This is because when you lose weight at such a rapid rate, your skin becomes unable to keep up with your sudden weight loss. Despite its elasticity, your skin retains its former shape even after you’ve lost many pounds. The same thing happens to pregnant women after giving birth.

The best way to prevent loose skin is to try and lose weight gradually. Aim to lose 1 or 2 lbs per week. Less if you are over the age of 40.

Instead of going on a crash diet or under the knife to lose weight, try healthier weight loss methods like eating a well-balanced but low-calorie diet and doing regular exercise. Even though the results are not as fast, your skin will have time to adjust and will remain firm and younger looking. AVOID YO-YO DIETS, they will only stretch out your skin more. A slow and healthy weight loss and diet plan ensures that you keep the pounds off on a long term basis.

Avoid going super gungho at the gym and losing 10+ lbs in a month. If you lose that much in a hurry you will end up with sagging skin.

Increase + Maintain Muscle Tone

Another reason behind loose skin after weight loss is the decrease in muscle mass that sometimes comes with doing too much cardio and not enough weightlifting. When you lose weight too quickly by doing a lot of cardio, a lot of the weight comes from your muscle tissues. This is a common effect of crash diets. When your body is deprived of nutrients and calories, it resorts to digesting fat tissues as well as muscle tissues. This muscle loss results in sagging skin.

To avoid this, it’s important that you regularly perform toning exercises to maintain your muscles. Or better yet, do regular weightlifting exercises to build your muscle tone over time. A strength training workout can help you develop muscle mass and make your skin look firmer and tighter.

Hydrate Your Skin

Hydration is an important factor in maintaining taut and smooth skin so be sure to moisturize your skin daily. Cold water is best. Hot water will actually rob your skin of its moisture. It’s important that you drink a sufficient amount of water daily to make sure that your skin retains its elasticity.

Avoid drinking soft drinks, energy drinks and caffeinated beverages, because these will only rob your skin of essential nutrients. If you’re looking for a drink to help you relax, try drinking herbal teas instead.

Lose Weight while you are Still Young

The elasticity of your skin decreases as you grow older, so if you want to lose weight without suffering from loose skin, you shouldn’t put off weight loss. Perhaps you continue to indulge in unhealthy foods with the excuse that you will just try to lose weight later.

Tomorrow. Next Month. Next Year. Later. Eventually later comes and you still haven't done it and the task you wanted to do is now harder than ever.

The more you put off losing weight, the less elastic your skin becomes. When you do eventually get around to losing weight, your skin might not be able to adapt as well as it used to. Its best to get started now.

Eat Healthy Foods

The health of your skin not only depends on the products you use, but also on the foods you eat. Make sure you get plenty of nutrients from your diet. Protein, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats are all essential for healthy skin. Take multivitamins to make sure you are getting enough and try to get as much variety in your diet, in small portions, as best as you can.

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