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It’s Not Just About the Scale: 20 Victories by MyFitnessPal Users

New year, new you! If only it were that simple, right? We’ve said this before and it bears repeating: Just because you’re not dropping pounds doesn’t mean your weight-loss journey isn’t a success. It isn’t always about stepping on the scale. Weight loss is much more: creating lasting habits that change your body chemistry and help you live a healthier life. We can think of no better way to celebrate this fact than by sharing what we call “non-scale victories.” Have a look at what you told us:

1. Sometimes, maintaining is a victory in itself.

2. Way to get low.

3. A picture is worth a thousand words.

4. We’re happy to see less of you!

5. Now that is bloodwork any doc would be proud of.

6. Victories start with some serious goal setting.

7. Give that brownie the hand.

8. Now that is a non-scale victory with a view!

9. Everyone needs an “accountabilibuddy.”

10. You’ve come a long way!

11. Hope you made enough for all of us.

12. The sky’s the limit!

13. Now that’s community activism.

14. Restraint with a capital “R.”

15. Step by step wins the race.

16. Crisps, chips or fries — it’s all about self-control.

17. Now that is gorgeous.

18. Get after it!

19. We heart you back, Mr. Inspiration.

20. You’ve got the power in you — nice work!

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Smoky Slow-Cooked Chipotle Barbacoa Brisket

Slow-Cooker Barbacoa Brisket

Slow-cooking tougher cuts like beef brisket gives you meat so tender, it melts in your mouth. Top whole-wheat tortillas with Cooking Light’s slow-cooked barbacoa brisket, then add onions, cilantro, jalapeños and lime juice for an irresistible dinner tonight!

Slow Cooker Barbacoa Brisket

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced chipotle chilies in adobo sauce (certified gluten-free if necessary)
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (certified gluten-free if necessary)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 pound trimmed beef brisket
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped

Directions

Combine first 9 ingredients (through garlic) in a medium bowl, stirring well to combine. Rub mixture onto brisket.

Arrange tomatoes, onion, bell pepper and jalapeño in the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker. Place the brisket on top of vegetables, and drizzle any remaining spice mixture over brisket and vegetables. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Remove the brisket from the slow cooker, and shred meat with 2 forks. Return brisket to cooker, and toss with the vegetables.

Nutrition Information

Serves: 4 |  Serving Size: 1 cup beef mixture 

Per serving: Calories: 299; Total Fat: 14g; Saturated Fat: 4g; Monounsaturated Fat: 8g; Cholesterol: 70mg; Sodium: 515mg; Carbohydrate: 11g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 7g; Protein: 32g

Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 145mg; Iron: 6%; Vitamin A: 15%; Vitamin C: 43%; Calcium: 2% 

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NASA, the Trampoline and You

Trampolines aren’t just for kids anymore. For adults, jumping on a trampoline offers far more than mere entertainment. Rebounding can be a full-body workout that builds muscle and increases cardiovascular fitness — all while channeling your inner kid.  

WHAT IS REBOUNDING?

Rebounding is the technical name for hopping on a mini trampoline, or rebounder. When you bounce on a rebounder, your body goes through several actions. First, you experience acceleration as you spring upward. This is followed by a split-second of weightlessness in the air. You will then decelerate at an increased g-force downward to hit the trampoline and bounce back up — thus repeating the process over and over.

WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF REBOUNDING?

Rebounding has been around for a long time, but its resurgence began in the 80s. That’s when NASA researched its benefits as a means of finding an effective way for their astronauts regain bone and muscle mass after being in outer space. NASA discovered that rebounding:

  • Can work the entire body without applying excess pressure to the legs and feet.
  • Increases oxygen uptake about 68% more than running does due to the increase g-force.
  • Benefits the body on a cellular level at a greater rate than other methods of exercising.

In addition to torching calories and being fun, rebounding has been said to provide an array of benefits to the body such as:

  • Works the Entire Body: “Rebounding itself creates an increased g-force (gravitational lead) affecting our body, which positively stresses every cell in our body and involves more than 400 muscles working at the same time,” says Jakub Novotny, a master trainer at Jumping Fitness. “While you are rebounding, the whole body must be engaged, starting with the core, and working together as one unit.”
  • Oxygenates and Is Anti-Aging: As demonstrated by the NASA study, rebounding is a great way to boost the oxygen levels in your cells. “As muscles relax, the arteries through the body relax and expand, and all the body’s organs are filled with blood rich in oxygen and nutrients,” says Manhattan-based dermatologist Dr. Natasha Sandy. “This is great for anti-aging!”
  • Is Joint-Friendly: “It reduces the amount of gravitational pull exerted on your body as you rebound, which effectively cuts down on the strain that is placed on your joints,” says Caprice O’Bryant, a certified personal trainer and owner of Excuse Free Fitness. “This makes it a low-impact workout because it decreases the shock on your joints by more than 85%.” Novotny adds that he’s had many clients that are unable to run due to knee issues that do very well on rebounder workouts. “On a trampoline, our feet land to a soft mat, which makes rebounding very friendly to our joints,” he says.
  • Elicits Pure Joy: O’Bryant stresses that among the many benefits of rebounding, it’s important to remember that an overall appeal of bouncing on a mini trampoline is the fact that it is fun. “We have so many duties, tasks and responsibilities already that we don’t need to have our workouts feeling like a chore because sometimes it’s the only hour we get to ourselves all day,” she explains. “When you’re doing a creative and fun workout, you are more likely to stick with it! Have you ever watched the pure joy of a kid jumping on a bed? It’s the same adrenaline and excitement for rebounding, so I’m calling it impossible to not love this workout.”

WHERE TO TRY REBOUNDING?

Rebounding classes can be found around the country. Check out your gym’s group fitness schedule — Crunch offers Urban Rebounding at its New York locations and elsewhere, for example — or seek out a trampoline studio, such as Jump Life in Los Angeles or Airobics in Chicago.

HOW TO DO IT AT HOME?

No classes near you? You can also rebound in the comfort of your own home. Rebounders cost anywhere from $ 40–$ 200, depending on the size and type.

To reap the benefits of rebounding, experts like Novotny suggest doing it for a minimum of 15 minutes per day. This can be performed in one session or split up throughout the day.

Choose a rebounder with solid springs so you can jump with shoes or in bare feet. Beyond just jumping, try doing jumping jacks, high knees, running in place, dancing or bouncing from side to side to shake up your workout. Or use Novotny’s go-to guide for beginners:

  • Jogging: Mimic a jog, but lift your knees to your hips. Try to maintain a 90-degree angle between your thighs and shins. To challenge your core more, double-time the movement. Don’t forget to use your arms as well, and use them as you would for regular jogging.
  • Basic jumping: Spread your feet shoulder-distance and bounce. Focus more on bounces than height. Play with directions or shifting/transferring weight from one side to the other.
  • Side steps: Jump in the center of the trampoline, keeping your feet together. Perform a single step to the side of the trampoline and return. Alternate legs. You can play with the directions and move to the front and back as well, or modify the rhythm by double-timing it.
  • Squats/lunges: These exercises require extra balance on a trampoline. A trampoline also allows you to do jump squats and jump lunges. When you are returning from the squat or the lunge, perform an additional jump to add more intensity.

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Why Strength Training Is the Workout You Need If You’re Trying to Lose Weight

When you think about the best type of workouts for weight loss, your mind might not immediately jump to strength training, but it should. While it’s definitely true that cardio workouts get your heart working harder and as a result, help your body burn calories, strength training is what’s really going to give your weight-loss goals that extra boost.

Before we really get into it, we want to make it clear that weight loss as a goal isn’t necessarily for everyone. For anyone who has a history of disordered eating, even if you’re in recovery, you should speak with a doctor before you pursue any weight-loss goal, including starting a new exercise routine. And even if you don’t have a history of disordered eating, it’s really important to have realistic expectations and make sure you’re pursuing weight loss in a healthy way. Results can be incredibly difficult to come by, may take a very long time to achieve, and are also really hard to maintain. Also important to remember: Exercise is only part of the equation. You have to create a calorie deficit (burning more calories than you consume in a day) in order to lose weight, which requires not just working out, but also being cognizant about what you’re eating, making sure to eat quality calories and watch portion sizes. You need to get good sleep, regularly. You need to have lowered stress levels. You need to take care of your other bodily needs. With so many factors at play, it’s no wonder weight loss is a very unique experience for every person.

If weight loss is a goal of yours, incorporating strength training into your routine is key. Here’s the thing, while strength training may not give you the instant heart-pounding, sweat-dripping satisfaction of, say, Zumba or an indoor cycling class, in the long run, building lean muscle definitely works in favor of your weight-loss goals. The short version? Having more muscle means your body burns more calories at rest. The long version? Read on for more on why strength training is the best exercise for weight loss.

STRENGTH TRAINING HELPS BUILD LEAN MUSCLE

“Aerobic exercise is actually the most effective in losing weight, however, it’s not the best at burning fat and increasing lean mass (muscle),” says Noam Tamir, C.S.C.S., founder of TS Fitness. When you’re losing weight strictly through cardio, it’s normal to lose muscle and fat. And if resistance training isn’t a part of your plan to counteract this, you could actually be slowing down your metabolism by losing lean muscle mass, rather than revving it up (which can lead to weight-loss plateaus).

Strength training is better at much building muscle than a cardio-only routine, explains Michaela Devries-Aboud, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at McMaster University. “When you lift weights, you overload the muscle and it works to adapt to be able to lift more weight. The way the muscle adapts is by increasing something called myofibrillar size (the contractile units of the muscle),” she explains. Resistance training stimulates this growth, which leads to an increase in muscle mass over time. “And while aerobic exercise can also [stimulate this process], this increase is not as great as it is with resistance exercise.”

MORE MUSCLE = A HIGHER BMR (BASE METABOLIC RATE)

Having more lean muscle means your body will burn more calories at rest. Having more muscle increases your everyday base metabolic rate, or BMR (AKA, how many calories your body would burn just to keep itself running if you did nothing but binge on Netflix all day). “Muscle mass is a more metabolically expensive tissue,” explains Devries-Aboud. “The metabolic demand of a pound of muscle is greater than it is for a pound of fat, so just sitting around, the amount of energy needed to maintain a pound of muscle per day is greater than that of a pound of fat. The more muscle you have the more calories you burn throughout the day.”

“Muscle is constantly being broken down, recreated, and synthesized, and all these processes require energy. The more muscle you have, the more energy it takes for this process,” adds Tamir. So by building more muscle, you’re stoking the fires of your metabolism. By increasing your BMR and burning more calories at rest, you’re also increasing your calorie deficit, which is necessary for weight loss. (Get all of the formulas and information you need to figure out how many calories you should eat for weight loss.)

And don’t freak out if you don’t see huge results on the scale: “Go by how your clothes fit, because muscle is more compact than fat,” suggests Devries-Aboud. If you’re not losing as much weight as you think you should be, you’re probably building muscle as you’re losing fat, and that’s a good thing! (And no, you won’t get bulky.)

“That new muscle has a huge influence on decreasing body fat,” explains Holly Perkins, B.S., C.S.C.S. “The net result is that you are tighter and leaner, regardless of what the scale says.”

YOU’LL STILL BURN CALORIES DURING A STRENGTH WORKOUT

Even though cardio gets a lot of the credit when it comes to calorie-torching workouts, you can still get a great burn during a strength-training session by adding in some heart-pumping elements. There are several things you can do maximize your burn, says Perkins: Move faster between exercises, don’t rest between sets, move quickly during each set, increase your reps, and choose heavier weights (but don’t go so heavy that you risk injury, of course). Or, “add a five-minute cardio burst in-between strength moves: Hop on the treadmill and jog or sprint for five minutes,” says Perkins.

“These methods work mostly because they increase your heart rate during the workout,” she explains. “An increase in heart rate means a greater need for fuel, and a greater need for fuel means that your body will demand more calories. Also, as a result of an intense workout, your excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC, will [go up and] result in more calories being burned after the workout. Think of EPOC as a temporary boost to your metabolism.” This is known as the afterburn effect.

HERE’S HOW TO ADD STRENGTH TRAINING INTO YOUR WEIGHT-LOSS PLAN

At the end of the day, you still have to burn more calories than you take in to lose weight, and even though building muscle can help keep that up long-term, it’s still important to chip away at calories on a day-to-day basis. “Having a challenging cardiovascular routine helps in your caloric deficit,” says Tamir.

Moral of the story: Do both strength training and cardio, says Tamir. It’s important to include both types of training in a successful weight-loss plan. In general, Tamir recommends strength training three to four times a week for 45 to 60 minutes. “Strength training also gives you the ability to endure more during your aerobic training,” notes Tamir. “The stronger you are, the less effort it takes for you to complete aerobic exercise.”

This means you can increase your performance in cardio-based activities: “For example, having strong glutes for running helps you go faster for longer, which burns more calories. And doing exercises to strengthen your core can help you maintain form for biking, which can also help you burn more calories,” says Tamir.

So no need to ditch the dance cardio or treadmill workout—just throw some weights into your routine a few times a week, too.

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