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Does Yoga Help Anxiety? | POPSUGAR Fitness UK



I have always been a worrier. From the small things like the weather to the more serious stuff — you know, like global warming — I sweat it all. And I’ve been in this frantic state of mind ever since I can remember. My mom tells me this is just who I am; it’s part of my personality. But who wants to be a ball of nerves all the time? Not me.

Yet after months (OK, more like years) of experimenting with different anxiety-easing methods — therapy, colouring, list-writing . . . you name it, I’ve tried it — I’ve finally found something to quiet my worrisome mind. That something is yoga. Now don’t get me wrong, I am by no means a yogi (more like a wannabe yogi), but with every class, I can feel my mind turning down the volume on my anxiety. More importantly, I can feel myself becoming stronger, both mentally and physically. And oh, how liberating it feels!

If you, too, are at wit’s end with thoughts constantly rattling around, I challenge you to roll out a mat and give yoga a go. You most likely won’t feel a difference right away, but give it time and the change will come. Trust me, as someone with 26 years of worrying experience, this calming practice can work wonders if you give it the chance. Below are three ways yoga has helped tidy up my messy mind.

1. I’ve captured control of my inner thoughts.

My first yoga class was a total wreck. My noisy, nagging brain wouldn’t simmer down. I kept thinking about all I needed to get done that day. That week. That month. Even thoughts of the coming years were starting to creep in. Yet I quickly realised that if I was going to one day reap the rewards of serenity, I would have to embrace mindfulness. But how?

I challenged myself to only focus on the mat. Not the room. Not the people perfecting the poses in front of me. Just me and my island of foam. And for 60 minutes, that’s what I slowly learned to do. But because focusing on the present moment felt so soothing, I sought out ways to be mindful outside of yoga. I challenged myself to switch up little things throughout my day. Whether it was walking down a new street or forcing myself to actually take a lunch break and step outside for fresh air, by becoming more aware of my surroundings, I captured more control of my mind instead of allowing my mind to completely control me.

2. I can harness the power of breathing.

I once heard a yoga teacher direct a class to “inhale the good sh*t and exhale the bullsh*t.” I laughed at the time (which helped me get through that moment’s Chair Pose), but that saying has stuck with me like glue. In fact, it’s become somewhat of my mantra. Think about it: when you breathe in positivity, that energy has power over your thoughts. And the same goes with negativity. So get those negative vibes out!

At the studio where I regularly attend classes, we take a lot of collective breaths together during our practice. The instructor will tell us to exhale everything out of our lungs. Next, take a deeeeep inhale and hold it. Breathe in one more sip of air and then let it all go with a big “H-A.” Talk about a meditative feeling. Try it, you’ll see!

Before yoga, I wasn’t aware of the healing power breathing can have on the mind. But now that I see this glorious light, I can’t begin to tell you how many times I use these techniques in my everyday. When I have control over my breath, I find control over my thoughts and the cycle continues.

3. I’ve gained a new sense of patience.

Nothing happens quickly in yoga. Even after months of practice, I am still far from a euphoric state of mind. My thoughts still often ripple through any given Downward Dog. I am still far from those acro-yoga tricks. Come to think of it, I still haven’t mastered the forearm headstand. I have a long way to go, but that’s the point. Yoga isn’t just a beautiful practice, it’s a way of life.

If you look at the practice as a whole, it can be overwhelming, but if you take it one step at a time — one day at a time — you will improve your skills. With diligence, practice, and patience, your mind will become more balanced. Your thoughts will slow down. Ultimately, you will carve the path to becoming your own warrior rather than worrier.

Ready for Child’s Pose yet?

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Can You Boost Your Metabolism?




Metabolism is one of those words that gets thrown around a lot in health and wellness, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Yes, you can boost your metabolism, but eating hot peppers and drinking cold water first thing in the morning won’t work. In order to learn more about our metabolism and how we can boost it, we spoke to Dori Arad, PhD, RDN, CDE, a Mount Sinai Physiolab director.

“When people refer to metabolism at its most simplistic form or meaning, it’s taking stored energy that is in food and liquid and transforming it to usable energy or stored energy in the body,” Dr. Arad told POPSUGAR. He explained that metabolism is “a very complex and involved process with a lot of different factors.” According to Dr. Arad, when people refer to metabolism, they’re referring to their metabolic rate, “which simply means energy production — how quick and efficient they produce energy.”

Dr. Arad explained that everyone is born with a different metabolic rate; some people are able to produce more energy, resulting in a higher metabolism, whereas others produce less energy and have a slower metabolism. Although everybody is different, Dr. Arad explained that it is possible to biohack or boost your metabolism by eating well and becoming more physically active.

Continue reading to find out the formula for boosting your metabolism.

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What Happens When You Drink Kombucha Every Day?




“You’ve never tried kombucha?” a friend asked on a recent lunch date. She was utterly shocked. How could I be a health and fitness writer, a yoga instructor, and love the plant-based life yet not be obsessed with kombucha?

The truth is, I’m a water girl. Plain water is always my beverage of choice. Sometimes I throw in a few slices of fruit or a splash of apple cider vinegar to mix things up, but I really just prefer nature’s beverage on its own. I also drink a little tea and black coffee, and sometimes have unsweetened soy milk with granola or in my smoothie, and rarely I’ll have a protein shake, but that’s about it. I don’t drink soda, energy drinks, alcohol (the sugar kills my stomach), fruit or veggie juice, or apparently, kombucha.

Since I don’t drink seltzer or beer, the idea of drinking a fermented beverage did not appeal to me whatsoever. But since it was made from tea, I took a swig. I was surprised that I actually liked how sweet, sharp, and fizzy it was — that’s probably one of the reasons people guzzle down these bottles. That, and for its health claims.

The Experiment

In order to see for myself if kombucha really did deliver on its health benefits, including help with bloating, digestion, and fighting inflammation, I decided to drink it for one week. I added it to my weekly grocery list and was shocked it was so expensive! Maybe that’s because I’m used to paying absolutely nada for water, I wasn’t expecting to throw down $21 for a week’s worth of kombucha.

I was worried I’d like it and end of paying $84 a month for my new addiction! I actually hid it from my husband because I knew he’d love it too (huge beer drinker), and we might end up having to pay $40 a week! OK, slow down, Sugar. You’ve had one sip of your friend’s kombucha, so don’t get ahead of yourself!

The First Few Days

I picked up a few flavours to add to the fun of this seven-day experiment. I went with the brand GT’s Kombucha (since that was the one my friend was drinking) and bought Gingerade, Lemonade, Gingerberry, and Original.

“The yeasty flavour started to gross me out a little, but I’ve heard people say it can take a little getting used to, so I pressed on!”

I drank that first bottle with my dinner, and I have to say, it was really hard to get all 16 ounces down, because the bold flavour and fizziness is not something I’m used to. Guzzling down a bottle of water is one thing, but with this kombucha, I had to take small sips or else it just felt too overwhelming. The yeasty flavour started to gross me out a little, but I’ve heard people say it can take a little getting used to, so I pressed on!

For the rest of the week, I made a point to open it while I was making dinner so I’d have a head start and just be able to sip on it over the course of a few hours. By the third and fourth days, I was kind of over it — it started to feel like a chore to drink with dinner; not something I enjoyed like my usual glass of H20.

After 1 Week

I was surprised by how the bubbly factor and pungent flavour filled me up in a sort of uncomfortable way. I felt so full, in fact, that I wasn’t able to finish all my dinner (that never happens), which meant by bedtime I was hungry, and then by morning, I was even more so, when I normally don’t get hungry until noon (I do intermittent fasting). A full bottle was about 50 calories, and although it offered probiotics, it didn’t offer much else nutritionally, so I felt like I was doing my body a disservice by not finishing my tofu kale salad, or whatever healthy dinner I had prepared.

Did I feel amazing digestively? Not really. I actually felt more bloated from what I thought was the fizz I wasn’t used to. But upon reading the bottle, it says, “Kombucha is a fermented tea that has naturally occurring alcohol. Do not consume if you are avoiding alcohol due to pregnancy, allergies, sensitivities, or religious beliefs.” Hmm. Alcohol and me definitely don’t mix. Great. I was supposed to be drinking this to help my body!

Will I Keep Going?

A big “no” on that one. I didn’t really get anything positive out of this little experiment, except I now know that I positively am not a fan of drinking kombucha every day. That’s just me though. I have a sensitive digestive system, and I enjoy plain, simple foods. I also get my daily probiotics from a capsule, which works perfectly, so I definitely don’t want to mess with that. And for the cherry on top, I’m cheap — $3 a bottle seems outrageous to spend every day when I can pay nothing for water and feel amazing. Sorry, kombucha, but we’re just not meant to be.

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Clean Program Review | POPSUGAR Fitness UK




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I’ve never followed a strict or restrictive diet like the low-carb, high-fat keto diet — dieting just isn’t my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against diets, but for me, it’s not necessary. I’ve never had the desire to count calories, track my macros, or go low-carb. Instead, I was taught from a young age to focus on the nutrients I was providing my body with in order to fuel my athletic performance and recovery, and it’s something I still do to this day.

During a session, a client of mine told me about a detox called the Clean Program created by cardiologist Alejandro Junger, MD, (Gwyenth Paltrow’s favourite doctor and Goop contributor, who is known for blending Eastern and Western medicine) and it piqued my interest. After doing some research of my own, I decided to read his book Clean to learn more about the program. Once I finished the book, I was interested in trying the program, especially because Dr. Junger explained that the program could help people identify foods that were causing irritation, improve digestion, improve your skin, and give you more energy.

After postponing the 21-day program for months, I finally decided to try it. To be honest, I thought my client was just raving about another fad detox program, but after following it for myself, I now see why she was so excited about it. Here are the four biggest changes I noticed on the Clean Program.

My Skin Cleared Up

Call me vain, but in the words of Erykah Badu, “I’m sensitive about my sh*t.” Seriously, I’m self-conscious about my skin, especially when I have a bad breakout. My skin is so sensitive, if I look at it long enough in the mirror, I’ll get a pimple. I’ve tried it all — and very few, expensive things work. On the eighth day of the program, I noticed that the indefinite breakout on my forehead was clearing up — so did a friend, which means it was actually getting better. After the program was over, I began to reintroduce foods into my diet, and I realised large amounts of oats and dairy in my diet were the cause of the breakout on my forehead.

My Energy Levels Were Up

Not only did I figure out the foods that were irritating my skin, I noticed I had a boost of energy. I know I probably sound like someone on an infomercial, but I promise you, this is the truth. In the notes I was taking over the span of 21 days I wrote, “More energy. Waking up earlier than normal.” Since I train clients and work full-time, I hardly ever feel energised or well rested. Nothing about my work schedule had changed — I was still waking up at 4:45 a.m. to train — but for once, I actually had the energy to get up. More often than not, I was waking up before my alarm clock and was still able to stay up later into the evening.

My Cravings Didn’t Magically Disappear

I remember reading in the book that cravings for processed foods and foods high in artificial sugars would go away during the program. Specifically that I would have a “palette makeover.” My love for chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and gooey cookies didn’t suddenly disappear, I just didn’t give in to my cravings. I will say that after sitting with my cravings for a few minutes, they would dissipate, and if I really felt the need to consume sugar, I’d have dates with almond butter, fruit, or a homemade juice with fruit.

I Stopped Snacking Just to Snack

I have a habit of snacking when I’m bored or in a bad mood. I could have just finished eating dinner, but if there’s something in my cabinets that looks tasty, please believe I’m going to eat it. In his book, Dr. Junger encouraged sticking to two liquid meals for breakfast and dinner and a solid meal for lunch, adding that snacking was OK. On the first few days, I used snacking as a form of comfort. I was still adapting to having one solid meal a day, and honestly, having a snack made me feel better in the beginning. Eventually, I was able to go without snacks, but if I knew I had a longer day or was going to work out, I always had nuts or fruit prepared.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I surprisingly found this program to be enjoyable. It made my weeks easier since I had to plan out and prepare everything I was going to be eating in advance. While I’ve gone back to eating three solid meals a majority of the time, I like having a plan I can follow if and when I feel like I’ve overdone it on desserts, or when I feel like I haven’t been eating that well (like after my holiday to Mexico). There are many methods to the program that can be incorporated into your nutritional plan, but the two liquid meals and one solid meal a day isn’t meant to be followed long-term. Dr. Junger advises following the 21-day program once a year, and I plan on completing it again next year — especially to redeem myself of my poor smoothie-making skills.

Image Source: Getty / Squaredpixels

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