Nails as Hard as…Nails

If you’ve been neglecting your nail health, it may be time to give them a little more of your attention. Here’s the why and how.

“Ow! I chipped a nail!” If you’re a woman, you’ve probably howled these words in pain a few times during your life. If you’re a man, you may never understand what the big deal is. Does it really hurt all that bad? Well, yeah, it does. But that’s beside the point. Because when someone damages his or her fingernail, the damage may be deeper than you imagine. Interested now? Read on and you’ll be more nail-savvy than you ever thought possible.

Why do nails matter?

A first impression is always important to getting off on the right foot of any relationship – whether business or pleasure. Since your fingernails are always in the public view, keeping them healthy and clean is just one more way to protect against a bad impression. On top of that, your fingernails act as small shields for your fingertips. In the event your good health comes under attack, you can often see signs of your declining well-being in your nails.

Do nails really indicate whether I’m healthy or not?

Yes they do. Granted, fingernails or toenails aren’t exactly crystal balls or computed tomography (CT) scans that give a direct look into your insides, but they can throw up red flags that something isn’t quite right within the interior of your body. For example, thin, concave nails may indicate an iron deficiency. (For more health cues you can take from your nails, read “From Nail to Body.”)

Okay, nail health really is important. But what’s the best way to have healthy nails?

For basic nail health, keep your nails clean and dry, moisturize them daily, and don’t file the tips to a point. You should also try to lay off of your lifelong nail-biting habit. And if you pick at your nails, don’t think that’s any better. Stop that as well. No matter if you have bad nail habits or not, ask your physician to give your nails the once-over at your next regular appointment.

Well, I already do all that. Is it really that easy?

Not necessarily. One of the first things you should know for optimal nail health is that more environmental factors affect your nails than you may think. Harsh soaps and shampoos and particularly rough emery boards can all damage your nails. Though the damage from soap may seem minimal, a long period of harm can lead to unappealing results that leave you wondering why your nails never look like the commercials.

Also, never tinker with your cuticles. They’re in place to serve as a barrier against bacteria and infection. Manipulating them in any way – even if it’s your most trusted manicure or pedicure expert doing the manipulating – puts your nails at greater risk for becoming injured by infection or bacteria.

From Nail to Body

Is the nail-body connection a gimmick? Find out yourself. If you’re wondering how your heart, kidney, and other systems are operating, check out the following list to see if you suffer any common nail health maladies. In the event you do have nail conditions described, you may want to consider getting checked out for its associated disease. After all, it’s better to be warned of your condition by your nails than by a life-altering event.

Anemia: pale or white nail beds
Diabetes: yellowish nails with pink base
Heart Disease: red nail beds
Hepatitis or Other Liver Diseases: white nails
Kidney Disease: half-white and half-pink nails
Lupus: irregular red lines on the nail
Melanoma: dark lines under the nail
Psoriasis: rippled or pitted nails
Various Lung Diseases: slow-growing, yellowish, thick nails or inverted nails

 

Surviving Sweaty Hands

What you can do to get on with life – even if your hands are a bit damp.

Your hair or makeup is in place, you smell fantastic, and your teeth are gleaming white. But you feel uncomfortable. You want to make a great first impression, but the pouring out of your palms makes it unlikely.

What is causing your clammy hands, and what can you do to control it on a daily basis? Read on to find out!

Behind the Sweat Scene

It’s normal to sweat a little bit – especially if you’re stuck in hot weather or are performing physical labor. If you find your hands are sweaty even when you’re working in the air conditioning at your office, it may be caused by excessive sweating, a condition also known as hyperhidrosis. Capable of causing excessive sweating in the hands, feet, face, and armpits, excessive sweating is not just embarrassing. It may be a sign of something more dangerous.

While many cases of hyperhidrosis are brought on by certain emotions (fear, anger, etc.), others are linked to conditions ranging from infection to spinal cord injury. Therefore, if home treatment does not remedy the sweaty problem, you should consider seeking medical attention to ensure your sweating is not a complication of another disease. If it is, getting the underlying condition taken care of should also resolve your wet-hand dilemma.

Stifle Your Sweat

Ready to put hand sweat in its place? You can kick the puddles off your palms by taking a few steps at home. First, regularly wash your hands to prevent potentially harmful bacteria from piling up. Additionally, grab a bar of antiperspirant from your local store and apply it to your palms at night. You will probably want to try something scentless to make the experience more tolerable for you and less likely to result in skin irritation. As you begin to gain control over your sweaty palms, cut back on the frequency of applying the antiperspirant. It can also be helpful to take up yoga or other relaxing exercises that help you get control over the stresses of life that may bring on palm sweating.

Tried all these and still find yourself stuck with sweaty palms? Your next option will have to be discussed in a doctor’s office. The first treatment your doctor will likely recommend is a stronger antiperspirant. By going with a prescription antiperspirant on your hands, you may find the relief you seek. Otherwise, you may require more invasive treatments. These treatments often require a multidisciplinary team consisting of neurologists, neurosurgeons, dermatologists, and other specialists.

Depending on your specific case, you may be prescribed oral medication to help your body cut back on its sweating ways. Or you may be prescribed a device that sends an electric shock through your hands in order to change the outer surface of your skin and ultimately block sweat from passing through.

Additionally, you may be prescribed BOTOX to paralyze your sweat-inducing nerves and keep them from pumping sweat into your hands. The final option involves surgical removal of the nerves that are the cause of palm sweating. Thanks to medical advances, this procedure can now be done on an outpatient basis in a minimally invasive manner.

Why Sweat?

Whether on your palms, feet, pits, or face, sweating shouldn’t be viewed only as a nuisance. In most cases, it serves a very important purpose. When you exercise or are in a hot environment, your body has to find a way to keep from overheating. Instead of giving you an unexplainable desire to go swimming, your body forces you to sweat. That way, your body is kept cool and you don’t wind up passed out from getting too hot.

If you’re very hot and aren’t sweating, you better drink some more water. You may be suffering from dehydration.

 

Colorectal Cancer: Cause, Effect, Protect, Correct

The down and dirty of one of the most common cancers in the world

Engulfing cancers that set in anywhere from the large intestine to the rectum, colorectal cancer is responsible for approximately 610,000 deaths around the world each year. Thankfully, with appropriate diagnosis and treatment, many cases of colorectal cancer can be detected and rectified for good.

But before you can catch cancer and get it out of your body, you should know a little more about the disease. Ready for colorectal cancer 101? Keep reading.

Cause

Though it’s unclear what exactly is responsible for the onset of colorectal cancer, many of the usual causes are suspected. These include a family history of colorectal cancer or other cancers and precancerous and benign growths in the colon. While the primary cause is unclear, colorectal cancer occurs when the cells in your body (the colon or rectum) begin to grow out of control. Instead of growing new cells as needed, the body begins mass-producing more cells than your colon or rectum can deal with. Eventually, these abnormal cells can go from being nothing more than a nuisance to life-threatening cancer.

Cancer is a word, not a sentence. – John Diamond

Effect

In the earliest stages of colorectal cancer, you will likely not experience any symptoms at all. It is during these earliest stages, however, that treatment is most effective. Once the cancer has set in long enough to cause symptoms, you may experience feelings of weakness or fatigue, rectal bleeding, bloody stools, unexplained weight loss, and frequent pains in your stomach. You may also notice a sudden change in your bowel habits, the consistency of your bowel movements may vary, and you may begin feeling that you can never quite empty your bowels.

Any of these symptoms is enough to make life difficult. Additionally, if they’re linked to colorectal cancer, they will do more than cause you difficult. They’ll change your life forever. If you find yourself stuck with any of the above symptoms, contact your physician immediately.

Protect

Whether you are experiencing symptoms of not, many of the leading health organizations recommend you begin undergoing screenings for colorectal cancer beginning no later than age 50. Depending on your personal health and preference, you may undergo a colonoscopy, virtual colonoscopy, fecal occult blog testing, flexible sigmoidoscopy, or other test. With these tests, you can find out early whether you’re living with colorectal cancer. With this knowledge, you can undergo the most beneficial treatment possible.

Whether you undergo these tests or not, there are some other things you should do to protect against falling prey to colorectal cancer. Eating a healthy and well-rounded diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, not drinking alcohol or drinking in moderation, and not smoking cigarettes all reduce your risk for colorectal cancer. If you’re at increased risk for colorectal cancer, some believe you can add an extra cushion of protection by taking medication such as aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs regularly.

Correct

Have you been diagnosed with colorectal cancer? It is not the end of your life. Rather, if you take control and are determined to overcome the disease, it may be the beginning of a new and healthier life.

Early-stage colorectal cancer that has not grown much is often removed totally through surgery. More advanced colorectal cancer is also removed via surgery, though its success is often improved when coupled with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

No matter what stage cancer you have, your prognosis is usually helped by complementary treatments. From music, art, and dance therapies to exercise, meditation, and relaxation, finding ways to keep your body fit and your mind at ease helps your body maintain maximum energy levels, which is important when you are fighting off cancer.

 

Complete Sun Protection

Because your skin should always be healthy and happy.

SUN PROTECTION
SUN PROTECTION

You want to get outside and have some fun in the sun, but you don’t want to wind up suffering the consequences of prolonged sun exposure. So what are you to do? Keep some common sense sun safety tips in mind and you’ll protect your skin for years to come.

Spread the Block

The most common way to protect against sunburn is by using sunscreen. And for good reason. It’s one of the most effective defenses from suffering injury by the hot, hot sun. However, while you may know that wearing sunscreen is a good idea, you may not be wearing it properly.

To get the most out of your sunscreen, wear sunscreen with the highest SPF (sun protection factor) available. This high-SPF sunscreen (think 30, 45, or higher) may keep you from getting a bronze tan, but you’ll reap the rewards when your skin is healthy years down the road. And no matter how high the SPF is, be sure to apply it a few minutes before going outside and reapply every couple hours for maximum protection.

Did You Know? When your skin gets tan, it is actually skin bruising. Doesn’t sound so attractive any more, does it?

Dress Up

You may usually don your skimpiest swimsuit during a day at the beach or the pool, but if you want to keep your skin good shape, that will have to change. Any time you’re not in the water, wear a light, breathable long-sleeved shirt and a pair of light pants. For even stronger UV protection, seek clothes that are made with sun-blocking fabrics. This clothing is usually very light and comfortable, and when worn along with sunscreen, you have twice the protection against the sun’s harmful rays.

In addition to wearing clothing, there are two other necessities for sun protection: a good hat and a pair of sunglasses. Whether you’re bald or have a heedful of hair, wearing a hat lends a hand to your sun-fighting efforts. Believe it or not, the eyelids are one of the most common sites prone to skin cancer. Wearing a pair of sunglasses will keep you from squinting, while keeping your eyelids from being sunburned and potentially suffering cancer in the future.

Stay Away

Are you particularly sensitive to the sun? Get sunburned in a mere 15 minutes? Then you’ll want to do everything in your power to avoid skin-changing burns. Another means to sidestep sunburn is by avoiding the sun at its most dangerous. In addition to the previous steps, you’ll want to soak in your vitamin D in the early mornings and stay indoors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun is its most dangerous.

By following these simple steps, you’ll avoid painful burns and potential cancer and enjoy a lifetime of healthier skin!

Cancer on Your Largest Organ

Just about anybody can wind up with skin cancer. However, your risk is greatly increased if you spend lots of time outside; have experienced a few bad sunburns; are older than 50 years of age; have a family history of skin cancer; or have light-colored skin, eyes, and hair.

To recognize skin cancer early, remember the alphabet of symptoms. Moles that may be cancerous usually have the following symptoms:

Asymmetry: one half of the mole is a different size than the other
Border: whether notched or indistinct, the border is irregular in some way
Color: the mole has more than one color or shade of a single color
Diameter: from one side to the other of your mole is larger than a pencil eraser
Elevation: the mole is raised from the surface of the skin

If you experience any of the above, consult your physician. In the event skin cancer is present, an early diagnosis allows for the best treatment and recovery.

 

Boost Your Balance

…with a few easy exercises.

Until you take a hard fall, you don’t realize how important good balance is. But if you don’t work to maintain good balance, you put yourself at risk for a variety of injuries, from bumps and bruises to broken bones. While you may not think you’re at risk for balance problems, working to improve it today will ensure your good balance tomorrow.
What can you do to better your balance? Give these exercises a shot.

Balance on One: With your feet hip-width apart, put your hands on your hips and lift your right leg off the floor, bending the right knee. Hold as long as possible (up to 30 seconds), return to the starting position, and repeat with the other leg. To try something different, extend your non-weight-bearing leg forward as far as possible during the exercise.

Shifting Weight: Begin by standing straight with your feet hip-width apart, weight balanced equally on both feet. Then shift all your weight to your right leg, as you raise your left food off the ground and allow your body to lean a bit to the right. While keeping your body straight, hold this position for up to 30 seconds. Return to the starting position, and repeat with the left leg.

Curl and Bend: Grab a dumbbell with your left hand, as you stand with your feet hip-width apart. Holding the dumbbell with your palm facing up, raise your right leg off the floor and bend it backward at the knee, like you did with “Balance on One.” Stay in this position for up to 30 seconds, return to the original position, and repeat with the dumbbell in your other hand and lifting the other leg.

Press for Balance: Holding a dumbbell with your right hand, lift your bicep to shoulder height and extend your forearm and hand up toward the sky, while you stand with your feet hip-width apart. Place all your weight on your right foot, lifting your left foot off the ground and bending your knee. Stay in this position for up to 30 seconds and then repeat using your left arm and left leg. When you master this, try holding the weight with your right hand as you lift your left leg, and vice versa.

Side Raises: With a dumbbell held in your right hand and straight out to your right side and your left hand on your hip, lift your right leg and bend your right knee. Hold for up to 30 seconds, return to the starting position, and repeat using your left arm and left leg.

Walking Close: Standing straight, begin walking, placing your right foot directly in front of your body. Follow this by putting your left foot directly in front of your right foot, touching your right toes to your left heel. Walk this way for 10 to 20 steps or longer.

Going Beyond: Want to take these balancing exercises to the extreme? Try doing them while standing on an uneven or unstable surface. You can also try them while standing on a pillow. Regardless, these different surfaces will further enhance your balancing abilities.

Knocked off Your Feet

Everyone takes a fall now and then. But if you’re suffering a balance disorder, you are at risk for falling on a regular basis.
Symptoms of balance disorders include the following:

  • frequent confusion or feeling disoriented
  • a floating sensation or feeling lightheaded or faint
  • blurred vision
  • feeling dizzy or as if you are spinning (vertigo)
  • falling often or feeling you are going to fall

Though exercises can help you overcome or avoid some balance disorders, other disorders affect your nervous system and therefore require the attention of a trained physician. If you suspect you’re living with a balance disorder, contact your physician.

 

Don’t Have a Stroke

Instead, maintain your mobility, communication ability, and quality of life – for the rest of your life.

Want to live life to the fullest, enjoying your children and grandchildren for years to come? Then you’re going to have to take some steps today to give yourself the greatest possible protection against a life-changing or life-threatening stroke tomorrow and well into the future.

What can you do to arm yourself against one of the leading causes of disability across the globe? You’re about to find out.

Put Your Food Where Your Mouth Is

As with most conditions, one of the first places to look for protection against stroke is your mouth. Pay careful attention to what you’re putting in it every day, and do your best to make sure you’re filling up with as much good stuff as possible.

Wondering what the good stuff is? It’s what mama always told you to eat: fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Get at least eight servings of fruits and vegetables each day, and your likelihood of suffering a stroke drops drastically. At the same time you’re amping up your good food intake, it’s a good idea to curb your appetite for salty foods and foods that have saturated fat or hydrogenated fat, as these can actually lead to stroke.

Keep the Bad Stuff Away

Now that you know what you should be eating, there are a couple things you’ll need to avoid putting in your mouth that aren’t foods. The first is cigarettes. Despite what they may do for your mood, your nerves, or your image, smoking wreaks havoc on your entire body, including the arteries that go through your neck. When these arteries are clogged and damaged, stroke can result.

Second on the chopping block is alcohol. No, you don’t have to cut alcohol out of your life altogether. But you do have to be smart about your consumption of it. Drink no more than a couple glasses of alcohol each day, and do your best to avoid high-calorie alcoholic beverages. These may taste good going down, but they don’t help your body avoid stroke once they settle into your belly.

Work It Out Often

So you’re eating the right foods, you’ve stopped smoking, and you’re drinking more responsibly. However, there’s still something else you should be doing every day to help your body fight against a potential stroke. You’ve got to get out from behind your computer desk, step away from your kitchen table, get up off the couch, and go to your local gym for a rigorous workout.

Get in at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week, and you can reduce your risk for stroke by nearly 25 percent. Sound too good to be true? Talk with your physician to see what he or she thinks. Or better yet – get in the gym and start working out more regularly, with more intensity. The way you’ll feel after a few good workouts should be enough to convince you that your routine is indeed leading to the greatest level of stroke protection you’ve ever enjoyed.

What You’ll See

Recognizing stroke is key to a full recovery. Someone who is in the midst of a stroke will experience the sudden onset of the following:

  • difficulty speaking
  • severe headache with no known cause
  • confusion or difficulty understanding speech
  • changes in vision
  • loss of movement, tingling, weakness, or numbness in the face, arm, or leg – especially on only one side of the body
  • problems walking or maintaining balance

If any of these symptoms exist, don’t waste time sitting around. Get to the hospital immediately. There is a short window of time following a stroke that allows the sufferer to sidestep many long-term consequences, but you’ve got to move fast.

 

Feed the Tyke Right!

Are you feeding your toddler the right foods? You’re about to find out.

Being a parent is the ultimate responsibility. You’ve got to make sure your children are safe and have their basic needs met on a daily basis. One of the most important needs your children have is good nutrition. However, feeding a toddler is a different experience from feeding an adult. What should you be putting into your little one’s system each and every day?

Just Enough

Have a toddler who refuses to eat all the food put in front of him or her? Don’t sweat it. Because while you may eat everything put in front of you, it’s taken years of training to do such a thing. Your toddler, on the other hand, is still kept reined in by hunger. Therefore, when your little one is full, he or she isn’t interested in eating. Since filling your toddler’s stomach only takes one-third to one-fourth the amount of food it takes to fill you up, your little one will lose interest in food faster than you.

Of course, as you probably know, your toddler may become hungry minutes after saying no to dinner. So be careful. If your toddler isn’t hungry for vegetables and is ready for cookies a few minutes later, there’s a problem. Make sure your little one is eating the right foods. Since toddlers don’t grow as fast as they did when they were infants and therefore don’t eat as much, you want to make sure the foods they’re eating are as beneficial as possible.

The Goods Explained

What good foods should you make sure your toddler eats each day? Basically, they need to eat all the foods that offer the vitamins and minerals essential for good health and energy. For your little one, this translates to the following each day:

  • a single serving of an orange or green vegetable or fruit (this equals about one-quarter cup of chopped fruit or vegetable or one-third cup of juice, which provides vitamin A)
  • a single serving (one-quarter cup fruit or vegetable or one-third cup juice) of a vegetable or fruit that is rich in vitamin C
  • 3 servings of cheese, yogurt, or milk (a serving of cheese is approximately half an ounce, and a serving of yogurt or milk is one-half cup)
  • 6 servings of grains (a single serving is a couple whole-grain crackers, a quarter cup of dry or hot cereal, or one quarter of a muffin or piece of toast)
  • 2 servings of protein-rich foods, such as meat or poultry (a single serving for toddlers is equal to one egg or a single tablespoon of poultry, fish, or meat that has been chopped up)
  • 3+ servings of any other fruit or vegetable your child enjoys (a serving is equal to one-quarter cup of a raw or cooked vegetable or fruit)

Don’t Forget Water!

In your effort to make sure your child is drinking enough milk and getting plenty of vegetables each day, you have to make sure you don’t forget one of the most important elements of your child’s diet: water. As more than half of the human body consists of water, keeping plenty of it in your toddler’s body makes sure he or she is as healthy as possible.

Otherwise, your toddler’s organs may begin to suffer or your little one may overheat with ease.

A good goal for your child’s water intake each day is approximately 8 ounces. However, if your child needs a little more or a little less to feel full and to keep thirst at bay, let him or her be the final judge. Just remember when your little one is outside in the heat and sweating, you’ll need to have him or her drink a little more to make up for the extra fluid loss.

 

How’s that Drink Affect You?

You’ve got plans to sip on a beer or a glass of wine. But what’s it going to do to you and your athletic prowess?

No matter what you may hear, a drink here or a drink there won’t cause irreparable damage to your insides. In fact, a little alcohol on occasion seems to reap some health benefits. But more on that later. Because not knowing how to drink in moderation can lead to some serious performance downsides.

So how does alcohol affect your physical abilities, and what does that mean for your drinking days?

It Puts You at Risk

Got plans for anything athletic or physically demanding? You’d be better off – much better off – leaving the alcohol for another time. Because as great as a cold one may taste right now, ingesting alcohol before or while playing softball, riding a snowboard, or lifting heavy objects puts you at greater risk for injury.

The causes of increased injury risk are many. As you may know, alcohol consumption may cause you to lose your coordination and have a decreased reaction time. These two side effects result in many sports-related injuries and cause all sorts of dangerous and deadly accidents. Pile on the fact that alcohol decreases your strength significantly, and it becomes clear that alcohol and athletics should not be combined.

The first thing in the human personality that dissolves in alcohol is dignity. – Author Unknown

You’ll Run Down Faster

When exercising, the last thing you want is to run out of gas before you’re ready to be finished with your routine. Therefore, you’re going to have to keep alcohol at arm’s length. Because not only will an alcoholic beverage increase your risk for injury during exercise, but it will also prevent you from working out as long and hard as you planned.

And before you decide to settle down with a drink after a hard workout, there’s something else you should know. That drink you have to celebrate a hard day at the gym may keep you from having an equally successful day tomorrow – especially if it’s the first thing you ingest post-workout. So instead of ruining tomorrow’s workout with today’s celebration, drink some water and eat a meal before tossing back a brew or mixed drink. Once you have a drink, you should also be wary of drinking too many more, as this can fill you up with unneeded calories that will serve to slow down your weight-loss or weight-maintenance efforts.

You’ll Be Healthier

Now that you know the downsides to drinking at the wrong time, you’re probably ready for some good news about alcohol. Ready? Drinking alcohol in moderation is good for your health. That’s right – sip on a little wine now and then or enjoy your other alcoholic beverage of choice, and you’ll actually help improve your health. How? Good question. Alcohol, when drank in moderation, drops your risk for heart disease, but you’ve got to be careful. Drink more than one or two glasses of alcohol a day, and your risk for heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure stops going down. When you drink more than a little bit of alcohol each day, and your risks for these issues all begin to climb.

For improved protection against heart disease, you’ve probably heard that you need to improve your good cholesterol. Known as HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, this good cholesterol is found in one of your favorite dinner drinks: white or red wine. But as with all other alcohol, you’ll need to be cautious. Don’t get the cheapest wine available, as it may contain chemicals that are known for causing breathing difficulty and headaches. Instead, hunt down organic wines. It’ll taste better and leave you feeling good immediately after drinking and well after.

 

The Changing Shape of Good Health

How the recent change from a food pyramid to a food plate affects you.

Remember a few years ago when the tried-and-true food pyramid was modified to be a bit more specific to your needs? Well, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has done it again. This time, they’ve taken away the beloved pyramid altogether and replaced it with something you’re much more likely to find on your table: a plate.

What’s with this dietary change in perspective, and how’s it affect what you put on your plate?

A Roundabout Way

With the original food pyramid, foods that should be eaten in the largest quantities were placed on the bottom of the pyramid, creating a solid foundation to your diet. Then came the change. Just a few years ago, there was no longer any true foundation to the pyramid. Suddenly, everything looked equal to one another, as the food groups ran up the pyramid side by side. The only obvious difference with the revised pyramid was the sudden appearance of someone climbing the side of the pyramid, which was supposed to represent the need to exercise on a regular basis.

Since a cursory glance at either of the previous pyramids would leave a first-time viewer stumped as to its purpose, the powers that be decided it was time to make something that was more user-friendly. So they axed the pyramid and made room for the plate. Now, instead of wondering exactly how the pyramid was supposed to work out in day-to-day eating, users can peek at the food plate to make sure they have the right portions of the right foods.

Inside the Plate

As soon as you see the USDA’s new vision for how you should eat, you’re overcome with its simplicity. A colorful plate that you can access at ChooseMyPlate.gov, the plate makes dietary recommendations clear. Half your food should be fresh fruits and vegetables, and the other half should be grains and proteins. According to the USDA’s recommendations, you’ll want to make at least half of your grains whole grains, but thanks to all the readily available whole-grain food options at the store, this should be no problem.

And don’t forget the blue circle sitting at the top right of the plate. You guessed it. You also need to include a little bit of dairy in your daily diet. The secret is to make sure it’s low-fat or fat-free. At the same time you’re modifying the amount of fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins you eat every day, you should consider cutting back on sodium and sugary drinks. This will ensure everything on your plate goes toward improving your health.

A Smaller Plate

Though you may have a great understanding of the plate that has taken the pyramid’s place, you may still have issues eating too much of a good thing. If you’re trying to lose weight or are having to work extra hard to maintain a healthy weight, there are two small steps you can take that will make it easier than ever to eat the right types of foods in the proper quantity.

Ready to cut back your overeating ways? Hang onto your fork and do the following:

  • Trade in your dinner plate for a salad plate. Look a little too small for your appetite? That’s the point! Eat one plateful of food and see if you’re full. If you need a little more, only get a little more, and make it fruits or vegetables.
  • Eat like you have all day to do it. In the hustle and bustle of life, it can be hard to eat slowly. Unfortunately, if you eat too fast, you don’t give your brain time to realize your stomach is full. The end result? You overeat. By chewing each bite 25 times, putting your fork down after each bite, and spending time talking during meals, you are more likely to realize when your stomach is comfortably full.

 

Your Chest Amplified

How to make your pecs bigger and better than ever.

A bigger chest reaps serious dividends, inside and outside of the gym. Ever wondered how exactly to increase your chest’s size and strength? Well, you don’t have to wonder any more! Because in the next few paragraphs, you’re about to get the lowdown on some of the best exercises to boost the size and strength of your chest.
Ready to beef up your pecs? Here we go!

Dumb It Down

Using barbells for bench presses is one of the most discussed and praised ways to improve your chest. Helpful as barbell-based bench presses may be, you can grow your chest even more if you add a little variety to your benching ways. So instead of using the barbell with each rep, do a set with the barbell and then switch to a set with dumbbells in each hand. This forces more of your pectoral muscles to get in on the action, giving them ample opportunity to grow.

Raise the Standard

Need something extra to add into your bench-pressing routine? It may be time to move to an inclined bench. By performing the same bench press routine on an incline, you work your chest muscles in new ways – no matter if you’re pushing up a barbell or dumbbells. As always, practice good technique to reduce the likelihood of injury when trying out new exercises.

Open Flies

Lying on your back on a weight bench with your feet on the ground, hold a dumbbell in both your hands, with your arms extended directly overhead and the weights touching. Lower your hands slowly to either side of your body, keeping both arms bent slightly throughout the motion. Open your hands as you lower the weights, careful to maintain balance of the weights in each hand. Once your hands are approximately parallel to the ground, hold for a moment and then return to the starting position, gradually regaining your grip on the weights.

Inclined Flies

Do everything you did for the open flies, but do it on an inclined bench. This time, your hands will not become parallel to the ground, as your body will be angled away from the floor. Instead, stop the motion when your arms are approximately level with your body. And though it may feel more natural to hold the weights over your face when at the top of your motion, keep them over your chest to ensure your workout is developing your pectoral muscles and not your shoulders.

Cable Crossovers

Standing tall in the middle of a cable-crossover station, reach out and grab a high cable handle in your left and right hand. Pull the cables until your arms are straight out to your sides, your arms and body forming a “T.” from this position, pull the handles slightly down and toward the middle of your body, keeping your arms bent slightly and your back straight. When your hands come together at your waist, hold for a moment and flex your chest. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

Seated Twisting Cable Flies

Have a seat in the middle of a cable-crossover station, grab a low cable with an underhand grip in each hand, and position yourself so far forward on the bench that your hands are a little behind your body and form a 45-degree angle with your body. Slowly move your arms forward and up until they meet together directly in front of your chest, arms still extended and elbows still slightly bent.

While moving toward this position, rotate your hands so they wind up facing down at the end position. Once in this position, hold for a moment, return to the starting position, and repeat.

Pec Perks

The reasons to beef up your chest are numerous. If you think a bigger chest is only desirable for those wanting to show off, think again. A bigger, stronger chest also offers the following benefits:

  • you’ll be better able to burn more calories during your exercise routine
  • you’ll have more overall strength
  • your athletic prowess will improve
  • your bottom half will look thinner and fitter

Now that you know why a bigger, stronger chest is worth having, what are you waiting for? The gym awaits!