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The Joy of Yoga
Feeling blue? Find out why taking it to the mat will help heal your body and your mind.
Recent research from Boston University’s School of Medicine found that people who practiced yoga for 60 minutes three times a week had higher levels of GABA (the mood-boosting brain chemical) than those who did a walking workout for the same amount of time. They also reported feeling more cheerful and less anxious. “The deep breathing and poses used in yoga can calm the nervous system and encourage relaxation,” explains Liz Owen, study co-author and yoga instructor in Cambridge, Massachusetts. So the next time you’re feeling stressed or glum, say, “Om.” Can’t make it to the studio? “Do a few sun salutations in your living room,” suggests Owen. “Even 15 minutes is beneficial.” — Sharon Liao
picture garden/getty images
Junk food is not only bad for your body, but your mind too. Daily consumption of just 1.5 grams of trans fats — the kind found in some fried and packaged foods — can increase depression by up to 48 percent, reveals a recent study by author Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, Ph.D. “This fat triggers lowgrade inflammation that may affect brain function and mood,” she says. To stay upbeat, steer clear of anything that contains partially hydrogenated oil (i.e. trans fats). “Even a package that claims it has zero trans fats can have up to a half a gram per serving,” explains Chrissy Wellington, a nutritionist at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts. Instead, search out unsaturated
4. get a move-on: Put your plan into action.
continue to focus on positive outcomes. to help with the worries in your can-do-something column, rossman suggests learning to take effective action through guided imagery and good planning skills (find tips at worrysolution.com). — Amy Cassell
top: craig wetherby/getty images
fats like extra-virgin olive and organic canola oils and omega-3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish like salmon, ground flaxseed and walnuts). These fats have also been proven to protect your heart too. That’s another reason to smile! — SL
When it comes to Worrying, the solution is as simple as mind over matter. “The imagination is the most powerful human mental function,” explains Martin Rossman, M.D., a mind-body pioneer and founder of TheHealingMind.org, an online oasis of guided imagery and self-healing techniques. “It’s a great problem solver when used properly, but when we let it run away, it can put us on a hamster wheel of repetitive worry that drags us down, drives us nuts, and makes us anxious and stressed.” That hamster wheel of worry is known as bad worry. According to Dr. Rossman’s new book, The Worry Solution (Crown Archetype, $23.99), it can be turned into good worry, which helps us better solve problems and manage stress. “The book focuses on a process that teaches people that when they do have to worry, to worry better,” explains Rossman. Here are his four steps for developing a good worry habit: 1. get a clue: Identify the root cause of what’s eating at you.
Write down everything that you’re worried about — from little to big worries, even the mediocre ones. Don’t judge yourself; just write down everything that’s in your head.
2. get a grip: Acknowledge what is and what is not in your power.
sort the worries into three columns: things that you can’t do anything about, things you can do something about, and things you’re not really sure you can do anything about. as an example, rossman uses hurricanes: you can prepare your house for a hurricane (a worry you can do something about), but you can’t do anything about the actual hurricane (a worry you can’t do something about).
3. get a plan: Figure out what you need to do and how you need to get it.
For worries you can’t do anything about, rossman suggests learning how to make them positive, rather than negative. “if you’re about to hit a golf ball and there’s a lake, you don’t want to be worrying about hitting the ball in the lake, because then you’ve created a mental image of just the lake,” rossman says. “you want to identify a spot and tell yourself that you’re going to hit the ball there, instead of thinking about the lake.” When you put your intention into a positive situation, your negative thoughts will wane.
five fitness styles to try
Every year a different fitness technique promises to get you in swimsuit shape. We sweated through a slew of them to find five that deliver real results. For the best results, aim for sessions two to three times a week. — Amy Westervelt
Pure bArre tecHnIque (AkA bAr MetHod And dAIley MetHod) Good For toning the butt, thighs and hips detAIls a mix of pilates, yoga, ballet and strength training, pure barre technique is tough, but the pain is worth it. kettlebells Good For toning arms and shoulders detAIls russians have been using kettlebells (below) for over 2,000 years, and for good reason. for sculpted shoulders, learn the correct form from a pro, then add it to your gym routine. nordIc WAlkInG Good For Losing weight, toning legs and arms detAIls by incorporating poles that add an arm component, you’ll burn about 20 percent more calories than regular walking. trX susPensIon trAInInG Good For toning the torso detAIls originating in the navy, the trX system centers on suspended resistance bands that make things like push-ups and dips incredibly hard. but it works: you’ll see results in as little as three weeks. try it at the gym or get your own trX system for less than $200 (trxtraining.com). ZuMbA Good For Losing weight, toning legs and butt detAIls promising a “fitness party,” the classes pair aerobics moves with up-tempo world music for a sweat fest that’s as slimming as it is fun.
Is timing everything?
Developed by a French nutritionist, chrononutrition is based on the idea that by eating to your biological clock, you can prevent food from being stored as fat. There’s no calorie counting and individuals reportedly lose anywhere from three to 4.5 pounds a month. A typical day on a chrononutrition diet includes breakfast, lunch, a snack and dinner (the latter is optional, because the metabolism is weaker at night). So does it really work? The spa says yes, but Joan Salge Blake, M.S., R.D., spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, author of Nutrition and You (Benjamin Cummings, 2011) and clinical associate professor at Boston University, isn’t convinced. “There’s no science to support the idea that your body stores calories differently at different times during the day,” she says. “And no matter how you structure your eating plan, if you eat more calories than your body needs, you will gain weight.” However, as long as you’re eating balanced meals, Blake sees no harm in trying it out. Want to give it a shot? Follow these tips from Cinq Mondes Spa:
Apparently it’s not what you eat, it’s when you eat it that matters. At least that’s the supposition in the new chrononutrition program at Cinq Mondes Spa at Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne, Switzerland. But the question is, does it really work?
structure the day so your largest meals are breakfast and lunch. If you have dinner, keep it light. MAke breAkFAst rich in fatty acids and complex carbohydrates. Bread, butter and various cheeses, especially goat cheese, are best for breakfast. Avoid eating fruit. For luncH, pair protein like fish or lentils with a small amount of starch such as pasta or rice.
At dInner, consume lean protein such as fish or poultry and green vegetables seasoned with an oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like olive oil. Vary green veggies for better results. Also, avoid carbohydrate-rich foods such as pasta. MAke eAcH MeAl last at least 20 minutes (the longer the better), and don’t always eat the same thing every day. — Karen Asp
from top: amy redei; creative crop/getty images
For your AFternoon snAck, nosh on fruits and seeds rich in fat like walnuts and almonds. Or have dark chocolate (about 30 grams).
We all know that natural sunlight has its benefits, but studies are showing that darkness is equally important. Governed by so-called “clock genes,” the body’s circadian rhythm is its natural timetable for producing certain hormones. During the day, natural light signals the body to be alert; at night, darkness encourages the body to rest and repair itself. Throw electric light into that mix and there’s trouble. At night, electric light (like televisions, cell phones and alarm clocks) triggers the “wake up” response in the body and throws it into daytime mode, messing with melatonin production — an aid for sleep and the immune system. Studies published in the past two years have linked this disruption of the circadian rhythm to everything from breast cancer to obesity to bipolar disorder. But stay away from melatonin pills. Studies have shown that supplementing melatonin production spikes the body’s melatonin levels above the normal amount. The best way to go: During the evening wind down any ambient electric light. Richard Stevens, Ph.D., an epidemiologist leading much of the research in this realm, suggests using a red nightlight. (Red lights don’t trigger the wake-up response in the same way.) Another good idea: Start each day with at least 20 minutes of morning light, which will sync your body’s natural rhythms. — AW
5/17/11 5:17 PM
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