Get whatever you want in three simple steps. 

Only rebels step out from the “box” and defy convention. And so those who change the world must be “rebels.” They are the ones who get tattoos, eat expired yogurt, break the rules and stay up too late. Right? Wrong. Your “box” is your comfortable cozy bed. It’s allowing your brain to carry on autopilot. It’s doing the same behaviors you’ve always done because they are easy to do. Think about what you want. Really. Think about it right now. Choose one thing. Decide on that. It may be to lose 5 pounds. It may be to fix your relationship. It may be to get a better job. Whatever is most important to you, choose that one first. One at a time. First step to getting what you want:

1. Decide what you want.

Getting it is simple. You know how to do that. But actually going through the steps and being consistent with those steps is not an easy task. So as simple as getting what you want is, no one said it was easy to do. Anything that is a break from your routine is going to require you to forcefully put yourself into an uncomfortable situation. It won’t be cozy anymore. The second part to getting what you want:

2. Listen to your body’s signals.

If you are cold your body sends a signal to your brain and you do something to make you warmer. You put on a jacket or increase the heating or put some socks on. Same goes with sex, hunger, and dissatisfaction in life. When you are bored that is a signal. If you are bored, your body is telling you something. You may need more. You may need a challenge. You may need to step out of your comfortable cozy area. Basic needs like food, clothing and shelter are undeniable. We know we need them. But human beings have other needs. We yearn to explore. We crave adventure. We want to grow up and change with the times. Everything about your body grows throughout your life. And your soul needs exploration and growth too. It’s part of your essence. The third part to getting what you want:

3. Get over it and force yourself

It sounds ugly but dissatisfaction in life is uglier. “Get over it and force yourself” means to get out of your head, get over your feelings and remember what you want. Concentrate and look at what you want directly. If you listen to how you feel when it comes to what you want, you will not get what you want. Ever. Because getting what you want is not going to make you feel comfortable. Because you will never feel like it. This post was inspired by a TED talk by Mel Robbins,  called “How to stop screwing yourself.” For more information on how to stop screwing yourself or get what you want, watch it and let me know what you think by leaving me a comment:

Go get it!

xxSerena

What’s fascia and why should you work it out?

Fascia is a plastic type material that surrounds your muscles and other soft tissues like a net. Sort of like the net bag that holds your tomatoes. It’s not connected to the brain, so produces no sensation while you stretch or knead it. Those hard foam rollers you may have seen at your gym work on your fascia so that you can reduce the density of your fascia, thereby creating supple muscles and a greater flexibility of movement.

Bob Cooley, in his book “The Genius of Flexibility” has interesting things to say about fascia:

All past traumas are stored in the fascia. These traumas literally warp the natural form of the fascia, and deform it, thus holding the person into the damaged position. When the fascia is ‘thinned’ during RFST, the memories of those events surface and are brought to light so as to finally release the person from being held in the past.”

So what is RFST? It’s resistance flexibility and strength training. This means going further than just simply stretching. Contracting a muscle and lengthening it is a great way to stretch out your fascia:

So keeping your muscles contracted while you stretch, will help to thin out “bunched up” fascia tissue. So exercises that use resistance training, working against your own body weight, muscle conditioning with dynamic stretching, these are all great exercises to break up fascia and thereby create more movement, better posture and helps to avoid chronic joint stress.

What are other ways of working out your fascia?

Try a Yin Yoga class. In Yin Yoga we hold gravity-pulling poses for a long time, anywhere from 3 to 20 min, and this benefits deep connective tissue. You can prevent planar fascia (in the feet) by practicing barefoot training. Stretching while contracting is akin to holding a chin up exercise for a long time. It’s holding your leg up in a leg lift and moving it back down slowly. It’s slowing down your reps with dynamic weights at the gym. It’s rolling out your muscles with a hard foam roller.

Bob Cooley outlines stretches for specific ailments:

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The importance of Yin Yoga: 

Yin Yoga is a great balance to our regular fast and furious yoga and it has come to be in some classes. People believe that the faster, the more “athletic”, the more “power”, the better for your body. The truth is, yoga is a time to slow down, fully experience each pose in each moment, and there is strength and power in that. It takes great focus and a powerful mind to stay in the present. With a balance of yin and yang, the body becomes strong and less vulnerable to injury. Our daily lives are filled with fast-moving, high stress, trying to please others and overextend. Slowing it down and breathing through yin postures can bring a great relief to our emotional health, which of course, affects our physical health. Here’s an example of a 30 minute Yin practice:

Please leave me questions or comments about fascia, yin yoga, or flexibility!

xxSerena

Three small actions to lose big fat

Did you know that consistent action beats a perfect idea all the time? The idea is that little things, when done repeatedly, become large changes. And that goes for all the large and daunting goals in your life.

Let’s say you want to lose a lot of weight, or you want to have a better relationship, or you want to gain a lot of muscle, or you want to buy your dream house.

You get those big things by doing a lot of little things consistently, every day, and before you know it the year is over. And you have it.

In this blog post I will give three things that you can do to lose a lot of fat. They are little things. They are small decisions you make every day but before you know it the year will be over and you will have lost a lot of fat. You will get into that suit, bikini, or dress you are saving. Or you will finally splurge on that quality pair of jeans you can’t quite get into right now.

Three things:

1.  Take the stairs

An average flight of stairs is 12 steps. If you climb one flight of stairs, three times a day that is approximately 15 cal burned, according to a report done by the New Hampshire department of health. If you climb six flights of stairs, three times a day that is 90 cal burned.

Climbing just two flights of stairs every day could results in a loss of 6 pounds per year! And remember, that is by making no other change in diet and exercise. Just the stairs.

Using the stairs burns twice as many calories as walking. The action of stepping up is also a dynamic stretch for your hip joints, ankles, and the muscles in your legs and buttocks. This improves the health of your joints, bones and muscle tissue.

2. Incorporate two raw vegetable servings into your diet in addition to what you are already eating.

Try something you’ve never eaten before. Try a zucchini or a different type of green. Munch on that while you watch TV or clean up. Make a juice smoothie from raw vegetables and fruits. Incorporating two raw vegetables into your diet every day will result in large amounts of fat loss over time. It may also retrain your taste buds. Often our taste buds automatically crave sugar and salt. Adding two servings of raw vegetables in addition to what you already eat will benefit your body.

3. Eliminate two high-fat/high calorie foods that are typically your favorites.

These include things like cookies, candy, cake, ice cream, potato chips and fries. When I first started I cut out potato chips and cranberry juice. I would eat a few chips because I loved the salty crunch and I still do! But I don’t keep them in the house anymore. I loved the sweet tangy of cranberry juice. For the longest time it was my favorite drink and I would drink it throughout the day. But the sugar content was very high. So I cut that out too. Think of your two foods. You know what they are. Cut them out.

I replaced my potato chips with homemade baked kale chips. It was a great substitution because it tasted great and was good for my body. I replaced the juice with cold fresh clean water. The first week was hard. Looking back, having the excess fat around my mid line was harder.

What are your weaknesses? Leave me a comment below! Here are some of my other favorites, since I have so many:

Fried foods are high in fat, and not the good kind of fat either. I try to limit those now; when I first started I cut them out completely. I wanted to lose fat, not add more. Today, I eat them in moderation and love it wholeheartedly with zero guilt, just lots of happiness! Healthy sources of fat are avocado, nuts and flax seed. Sweet treats are another cheat meal I only have in moderation:

A great substitute for these things is, of course, fruit, or homemade fruit smoothies:

These three changes are small and create large amounts of fat loss in the long run. Remember, it’s not perfection we are striving for it is that daily progress and consistency. I will leave you with a few thoughts:

Go slow but go consistent! What do you think? What are your small steps? What has given you success? Leave me your comments and questions. I’ll answer you!

 

 

 

Three-step natural body beauty treatment

Winter is especially dry, in Canada, where I live. 



Cold weather can cause dull-looking skin. Dehydrated skin cells regenerate more slowly, causing a build up of dead skin. Circulation also gets sluggish and once that happens your glow is gone and your skin can get dry and flaky. That’s gross. So I’m going to share with you a secret beauty treatment for your body. It leaves your skin glowing, hydrated and healthy.

There are three steps to this:

  1. Dry brush
  2. Wet sugar scrub 
  3. Moisturize

This is something you do before you go in for the shower so allow a good 15 minutes. You will need:

  1. A natural bristled dry body brush
  2. A bowl you can take into the shower with you
  3. Sugar or brown sugar if you have sensitive skin
  4. Olive oil
  5. Half a fresh lemon 
  6. Vaseline (for moisturizing skin after your shower)



The idea here is to exfoliate your skin two different ways. One is a dry gentle rub with the brush before you get into the shower. The second is you take your bowl of mixture into the shower and gently rub your homemade health scrub over the more “durable” parts of your body. These are areas like your legs, buttocks, shoulders, upper back, arms, hands and feet.

Be more gentle on areas like your lower back, stomach and neck and face. This scrub is not for your face! That will be another post. Another area of the body I think is very important to discuss is the décolletage. This is the area between your breasts and your face, your chest. The skin here is very thin and sensitive. Do not exfoliate this. 

To make your body scrub, mix two parts sugar to one part oil. I use a little more than half a cup of sugar in the bowl and quarter cup of oil. Then I squeeze either half the lemon or a little less into this mixture and mix well. The lemon provides a chemical exfoliation that helps to blend any dark patches or skin spots. 

Before you get into the shower with the scrub, first you will gently dry brush for about 10 minutes. Details on how to dry brush your durable body parts:

Why dry brush?

Skin continuously eliminates toxins and waste products from its surface, but dead skin cells (unless physically removed) will clog and restrictive this process.  

I think I bought my brush for under 10 bucks at Walmart or Target or a drugstore. It came with a long handle but I removed that because that was just my personal preference:



What are the benefits of dry brushing?

  • Loosens and removes dead skin cells
  • Increases blood flow
  • Stimulates oil and hormone glands
  • Rejuvenates the nervous system, through the nerve endings, all over the skin

How?

With vigorous circular movements brush your durable body parts for about 10 minutes. Your skin should glow. Start from feet and move up. Put on some tunes that you love and enjoy this process of detoxification!

Next, take your scrub into the shower with you. Rinse your body with warm water, shut the water off and grab handfuls of scrub. Again, start with your feet and work your way up with long strokes and circular ones. Your skin will get pink. Be gentle on the soft areas.

The scrub will rinse away. Take a shower as normal. The sugar will have exfoliated your skin nicely and the oil should leave skin soft and moisturized. After your shower pat skin dry. Now you should be feeling good! All the toxins are out, and the largest organ of your body has been detoxified and you will be feeling fresh, new and great!

The last step is to moisturize. Here we use small amounts of natural petroleum jelly. That’s right, Vaseline.



This not only deeply moisturizes your skin, but it helps to ingrown hairs or other skin bumps from forming. The petroleum jelly will heal any tiny cuts or abrasions and keep your body skin flawless. Massage the petroleum jelly into your skin with firm gentle pressure. 

I urge you to try this. For men or women, this simple homemade beauty treatment will not only detoxify your skin but leave it feeling super soft, healthy and looking gorgeous.

What do you think? Have you tried it? What were your results? 

What are your beauty secrets? Leave me a comment or question below! Thank you for reading … :)))

xxSerena

How intermittent fasting gave me more time & what I did with it

When I started eating the bulk of my calories within an eight-hour window I noticed a few advantages right away. I had more energy, I was losing fat in stubborn areas like my waistline and I was drinking more water. I was finally recognizing my thirst for what it was: thirst, not hunger!  But the most important thing that intermittent fasting gave me was more time. It gave me time to concentrate on other goals, activities, relaxing, catching up with friends. I knew I wasn’t going to be eating. As a result, I focused on other things. As intermittent fasting became a habit in my life, I didn’t spend every 15 minutes wondering what I should snack on. I wasn’t opening the fridge, looking.

What I did at night, however, was make lunch for the next day. And for me, a big salad at work made a huge difference. Breaking my fast with a salad of a lot of chopped greens, a protein, fat usually avocado, a squeeze of lemon or apple cider vinegar, and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds worked for my body. Sometimes I would add cottage cheese, marinated chickpeas or a colorful vegetable.

Here’s a good guideline for making your own salad:

What’s your favorite salad? Do you meal prep? Leave me a question or comment!

Three foods to keep you lean

Ok my buddy Alif sent another super good comment that I think deserves a post. He wrote:

Day 2 of IF complete. 2 questions I hope you can answer. The first is with a job such as a Sales Manager at BMW Gallery (selfish plug sorry) it is hard for me to take in all the calories I require in the 8 hour window. I know you are anti-supplements but is a protein shake better than not taking in enough calories? Any other tips for the busy body to intake the “right” calories? Second question is some critics say that IF for males is bad because it eats away at muscle mass. Is this true?
Thank you for your help

I answered him in my reply but I wanted to elaborate on some of these topics. firstly, the “right” calories. i’m not a nutritionist. I’m just a 40-year-old woman with a bunch of girlfriends all over the world. i’ve been working out for years and we’ve been discussing diet and exercise our whole lives.

Tips for the busy body to intake the “right” calories would depend on the person’s goals. Lets say your goals are to lose excess fat and gain muscle. I have chosen three foods that will keep you lean and allow you to build muscle:

1. Oatmeal

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Oatmeal is a nutrient dense food with lots of vitamins. It regulates blood sugar and keeps you full for longer. It’s a good healthy fuel.

2. Salad

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When I say salad, I mean heavy on the greens. I don’t mean a small bowl with a few salad leaves in the middle. I mean two or three heaping handfulls, chopped, so they get smaller and bitesized so you you can eat more and lots. Salad greens have very few calories so you need a LARGE amount.

3. Chicken breast

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Chicken breast is low in fat and high in protein. So after a workout it’s good because the muscles need protein to build. Plus it’s another nutrient dense food. It keeps you full for longer.

Now, by no means should you only eat these three foods. But if you want to lean out and gain muscle, these three will help. I can’t stress vegetables enough too though. Other great choices include vegetables of all colours, fresh fruits, sweet potatoes, lean fish and beans.

What do you think of these three foods? Do you agree? Disagree? Leave me a question or comment below. Happy working out and eating right Fitfam!

xxSerena

Eating Dirty – Serenaglow pimento cheese

One thing I believe in is balance. I’ve been a yoga girl for over 15 years and was a chemistry/math teacher for over 10. In math we learn about equations. The right side equals the left side. There is a balance between what you want and what you have.

In yoga there is a balance. There is a routing of your foundation and at the same time a stretch of the extending body. There is push and pull. As one part of your body is static and grounded the other part of your body reaches away and challenges your present reality.

In chemistry there is equilibrium. There is homeostasis. The environment is always trying to equal itself out.

It’s like that in life as well. How do you know what sweet taste like if you’ve never tasted bitter? The sun rises and then the sun sets. There is daytime only to be followed by night. What goes up must come down. If life is disappointing you in someway? It soon will please you. Just have faith.

And yes I believe in clean food. Who doesn’t? But I also believe in a balance. So just as there is clean eating in my life there is dirty eating too because, in the illustrious words of Cyndi Lauper, “girls just want to have fun.”

Today I went to the doctor and saw this tacked on his cabinet:

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Then I went to yoga for strength which kicked my butt. We held a lot of lunges, a lot of forward bends, extended side angle’s and Trikonasana.

And then to break my fast, (see my post Intermittent Fasting Part One for more info) I decided to use my old kitchenmaid mixer to make one of my favorite dirty snacks. Pimento cheese. I like eating it with a loaf of freshly baked sourdough. I’ll list the recipe at the end of the post.

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Those are the main ingredients. I take the Philadelphia block of cream cheese out of the fridge and rest it on the counter when I know I’m going to make pimento cheese.

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First I grate mature sharp cheddar. For some reason I always choose sharp cheddar from Ireland. I like the taste.

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I put the block of softened Philadelphia cream cheese, the quarter cup mayonnaise, drained pimentos, the sprinkle of cayenne pepper, and the shake of spices in the mixer. I always drain my pimentos because if you put the brine in I feel the pimento cheese gets too watery.

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I start mixing on the lowest speed. I add my grated cheese and slowly increase this mixing speed by one. I keep it on low the whole way through.

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After I see the pimento cheese is whipped beautifully, I scrape down the sides mix a little bit more and voilà! Pimento cheese is ready to taste. This is the point where you can add either salt or pepper or some more cayenne or spices if you wish. If not, the pimento cheese is ready to put into a plastic container and refrigerate for a few hours. I use an old plastic yogurt container with stretch & seal on the top before closing with the lid.

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Mine tasted so good today that I put some on sourdough and just ate it unchilled. It’s even better when the pimento cheese has time to chill because the flavours mingle just right. Sourdough is one of my favorite breads. I don’t find the macros too bad. I have nothing against bread either! All in moderation.

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Leave me a comment or question about pimento cheese!

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients
1 block Philadelphia cream cheese
2 cups grated sharp or mature cheddar
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 jar diced pimentos, drained
One pinch cayenne powder
2 shakes your favorite spices (1 used 1 shake Italiano clubhouse and one shake garlic and herb clubhouse seasonings each)

Directions

Place softened cream cheese, mayonnaise, cayenne pepper, seasonings, grated cheddar cheese and drained pimentos into the large bowl of a mixture. Beat at low speed with paddle until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the sides, season to taste with salt and black pepper if needed or more seasonings. place in plastic container with saran wrap under lid for freshness. chill for two hours. Pimento cheese is good in the fridge for up to one week.

Don’t worry it won’t last more than one week.

xxSerena

How to start intermittent fasting

Some of you have never done IF before. Some of you are experts. If you’ve never done it before and you like to give it a try, here are some helpful tips for your first fast:

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I like the idea of eating a protein, preferably lean, such as tilapia or chicken breast, with greens at night. And when I say greens, I mean a lot of greens. Eat a cup or two. This will fill you up with nutrients and it is very low in calories. But any protein with vegetable is an optimal food for weight loss at night.  Sometimes I love a steak with potatoes, or fish with a huge green salad or chicken with sauteed vegetables like asparagus, peppers or mushrooms.

Here are some good ideas for dinner. Here we have a beef tenderloin with lightly sautéed spinach seasoned with the sodium free Mrs. Dash:

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Chicken with broccoli fills you up and keeps you trim:

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Tilapia with green beans is fast, low in fat and high in protein:

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Steak with sautéed mushrooms is delicious and a great post workout dinner:

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I also like the idea that removing the option of eating (at night) gives you the perfect opportunity to take a yoga class or go for a walk with someone you want to connect with. Maybe you can start reading that book you meant to get into. Maybe it’s time to start meditating or sorting that annoying pile of papers on the kitchen table.

During the night, when you are in your fasting window and not meant to eat anything with calories, make a soothing cup of green tea or herbal tea instead of water. In the mornings after I wake up I generally drink some matcha green tea since it doesn’t have calories. This feels great to my body. My brain feels more clear, sharp.

Do you agree with the tips above? Let me know. Leave me a comment or question and I’ll reply!

Intermittent fasting, part two

My friend Alif left a comment with some great questions about Intermittent fasting yesterday on my first intermittent blog post.

He wrote:

Alif
FEBRUARY 17, 2015 AT 1:33 PM
What if you wake up at 4am? Should you make sure you sleep during the not eating window?
For a morning workout, is a pre-workout drink ok? Or is it Zero calories during the 16 hour no eating window. How clean do you eat during the 8 hours?

Thanks in advance.

Part of your “non-eating window” as he calls it (the time when you are not eating, or “fasting” window) Part of these hours is the time you were sleeping. So 16 hour fast may sound like a long time, but it’s not. It’s not because 7 to 10 hours of that “fasting” time is when you are fast asleep. So yes, you are sleeping during the 16 hour fasting window.

So no matter what time you get up, and I do give kudos to him for waking up at 4 AM because that is discipline! but no matter what time you get up… You will prolong the fast to add hours where you are not eating. Let’s say you were one of those people who has to eat first thing in the morning. If you are one of those people then you will stop eating early in the evening so hours and hours before you go to sleep. so you have added hours to your fast, the time you were sleeping, before you sleep.

What I do is add a few hours after I sleep and add a few hours before I sleep and that is how I fast. So that means I don’t eat right away after I wake up. And it means I stop eating a few hours before bedtime.

Now about the pre-workout drink. I don’t believe in supplements anymore. I like to keep it natural. I have protein powder and sometimes I’ll make protein pancakes using a gluten fee pancake mix with some protein powder in it or sometimes if I’ve worked out really hard and I want to make sure I get proteins my muscles I’ll drink some whey isolate. But that is very rare. I believe in good clean REAL food. I believe that is most optimal.

And for the last question, how clean do I eat when I break my fast? Are usually break my fast with something clean. For me that is a salad with chicken breast and avocado. No dressing accept a squeeze of lemon or a splash of apple cider vinegar. sometimes I will break my fast with a banana and peanut butter. Sometimes I will break my fast with chocolate milk that I will drink after my workout. Sometimes if I know I’m lean and I feel my body needs it I will eat white rice, a protein and vegetables. Here are some examples of post workout meals but I have broken my fast with:

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A friend of mine who is 50 years old and very beautiful and fit told me that she eats whatever she wants but make sure she eats at least two vegetables every single day, different colors, and two fruits every single day, two different colors.

What do you eat when you want to lose fat? What do you eat when you want to gain muscle? What does “eating clean” mean for you? Leave a comment below!

Until the next post, I wish you good restorative sleep, a day full of love and a strong lean healthy body.

xxSerena

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Intermittent fasting part one

I get a lot of people asking me what intermittent fasting is. It means you have an eating window. That window last between 6 to 8 hours generally. The rest of the time, you don’t eat or drink anything with calories. You sleep, or exercise, or work. Some say the brain is more clear when it’s not digesting. When fasting, water is okay. Tea or coffee is okay. As long as you don’t add any sugar or cream or anything with calories to those drinks.

Generally if you want to start intermittent fasting, you start eating a little later in the day. I’ve never been a fan of an early breakfast so for me this is perfectly fine. My body takes a long time to warm up to wanting to eat. I have never been one of those people who woke up hungry. Intermittent fasting is something that you do if you want to lose body fat. when I do intermittent fasting I’m training at the same time. So when I work out, I work out fasted. Then I eat sometime after that workout.

I’ve had trainers and fitness professionals who’ve asked me what the sense behind this is. And I know why they are asking. Intermittent fasting goes against the most predominant idea in fitness and eating: that to lose excess weight you should graze throughout the day. They tell us to eat many small meals. And that is perfectly fine if that works for you. But I wasn’t losing the fat that way. As soon as I started intermittent fasting, my body fat started melting off. The idea the way I understand it is, your body takes a lot of energy to digest food. And if you are eating all throughout the day then it doesn’t give your bodies digestive system time to properly digest that food.

Also the night time is important. The body metabolizes fat and build muscle while you are sleeping. During your sleep is not the time to be digesting food you have just eaten. When you sleep, your body is metabolizing fat. If you have worked out your body build muscles while you are sleeping. An optimal time for building muscle? Two hours between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. So don’t go to sleep at midnight! You need your two hours between 10 and 1 a.m.

To start IF, you should aim for an eight hour eating window. That means start eating at noon or 1 PM and stop eating at seven or 8 PM generally. If you have any questions about this please leave a comment below! Now one last important point is that during your eight hour eating window, you should be eating the right amount of calories. To figure out the right amount of calories for you, you need to calculate two things. First is your basal metabolic rate or BMR. That is the number of calories you burn without doing any physical activity.

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If you want to lose weight, then you need to adjust the amount of calories you eat depending on how much you burn. It’s calories in versus calories out. So within your eight hour eating window, you must eat enough calories! Don’t eat too little calories. Eat as many calories as you are supposed to eat in the whole day, but eat it during your eating window.

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To me intermittent fasting makes sense.

We have a obesity and a myriad of health problems attacking our society today. Human beings created a society where it is too easy to get food whenever you want it. before this consumerism, human beings didn’t eat for a while. This gave their bodies a chance to metabolize the food properly. Now, with people being able to eat anytime they want, there’s too much food in our bodies. And we don’t give our bodies enough time to metabolize it. It’s something to think about.

Please leave me your comments! Do you agree with this? Do you disagree? Is this ridiculous? Your ideas are important. for me, intermittent fasting worked. but every body is different. I have been very happy with my results with intermittent fasting:

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