Friday, August 16, 2019

How Bioavailable Supplements Work

BetterYou sublingual workout recovery vitamins and supplements are an effective method for delivering essential nutrients directly to the bloodstream. Sublingual administration has been scientifically proven to deliver active ingredients with up to 2.5 times efficacy. That's because the soft tissues in your mouth contain hundreds of small blood vessels, which are capable of taking the ingredients in each product directly into circulation. Unlike absorption through the intestines where many nutrients are typically lost, sublingual or transdermal application is more beneficial for repair and recovery.

Studies have shown that the use of transdermal magnesium significantly increases magnesium levels in the bloodstream, and that magnesium levels are increased more and faster than with traditional caplets. Transdermal magnesium spray is an effective way to increase your magnesium levels. Magnesium helps to ease muscle tension and is recommended for athletes and those with excess soreness or muscle fatigue. BetterYou magnesium can be applied directly to the skin, where it's quickly absorbed through the pores and into the blood vessels beneath. Transdermal magnesium is ideal for sports recovery because skin application allows you to bypass the digestive system, where some of the product’s efficacy is lost.

If traditional iron supplements cause you discomfort, you're not alone. A healthy dose of iron can cause a wide range of gastrointestinal problems, which causes many people to abandon iron supplementation altogether. However, iron supplementation is critical for some, including women who are pregnant or have heavy menstrual cycles, those with malabsorption issues and athletes. Adequate iron levels fight fatigue, contribute to a healthy immune system and ensure normal cognitive function. Traditional forms of supplementation such as tablets and capsules must first pass the iron through the small intestine to be properly absorbed. If you've taken an iron supplement in the past, you may have stopped taking it because you experienced nausea, flatulence, pain, constipation or diarrhea. BetterYou iron sprays are specifically formulated with iron that's quickly absorbed and gentle on the stomach.

Vitamin D3 deficiency has been a global epidemic for well over a decade. Although your body
naturally creates vitamin D from the sun, the CDC warns there's no such thing as a healthy tan. Sun-tanned skin is damaged skin. Any change in the color of your skin after spending time outside—whether sunburn or suntan—shows damage from UV rays.
Lower exposure to sunlight, poor supplementation and inadequate diets have caused billions of people across the globe to become deficient in this essential vitamin. A vitamin D deficiency can speed up obesity, diabetes, the development of cancers, hypertension, depression, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, osteoporosis and neuro-degenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease.
BetterYou sprays deliver a daily dose of bioavailable vitamin D3 in just one spray. Using the most absorbable form of vitamin D, BetterYou sprays are 52% more effective than tablets and capsules.

B12 is a water-soluble B vitamin that can generally be obtained through dietary means. However, vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal products - particularly meat and dairy - which makes those with restrictive diets, such as vegans, particularly vulnerable to developing a vitamin B12 deficiency.
B12 plays an important role in keeping your nerves healthy, maintaining normal neurological and psychological functions including reasoning, concentration and memory, and supporting the production of red blood cells. B12 is also necessary for the metabolism of folic acid, which makes this vitamin even more critical for pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding.

BetterYou uses the most bioavailable ingredients on the market to create their array of safe and effective health supplements, and all intraoral vitamin sprays are convenient and nutritionally complete. To use sublingual sprays, simply spray the inside of your cheek; absorption commences immediately upon impact.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

At-Home Massage Tips and Product Guide

Whether you’re a massage pro or a beginner, an at-home massage is a fantastic way to relax. Not only does it comes with the general benefits of a massage including improved circulation and pain reduction, but it also comes with the comfort of being in your own home. Here are some of our top tips for at-home massage techniques.

Take your time.
Slow down and focus on areas that feel tense. Try to think of areas that might be tighter than others. For example, do you often sit hunched over a desk, causing neck and shoulder pain? Perhaps you work out often and experience a lot of muscle tension in your legs? Take time to tend to the areas that need it most. Remember, it’s a massage, not a race!

Create a relaxing environment. 
Turn down the lighting and put on some soft music. Burn a candle with a relaxing scent or use an essential oil diffuser. Although you aren’t at a spa, it’s important make your surroundings as pleasant and soothing as possible. After all, the goal of a massage is to relieve stress and tension.

Avoid pinching or grabbing muscles.
The goal of a massage is to relax muscles, not injure them. Like with exercise, muscles need to be warmed up before the use of intense pressure. Use your whole hand to begin the massage. Keep your fingers together as you warm up the muscles for a few minutes. Then, slowly, you can begin to knead as necessary.

Listen to the body.
Whether you are massaging yourself or someone else, it’s important to continually check-in. If you’re massaging yourself, be mindful of the sensations you feel. If you’re massaging someone else, frequently ask them how they feel. Don’t be afraid to lighten up on the pressure, apply more massage product or take a break if needed. Listening is one of the most important components of massage.

Use the right massage product.
It’s important to use the right product for a successful at-home massage. Between lotions and creams, it can get confusing to find an option that is best suited for your needs. Premax offers a variety of versatile, high-quality massage tools. Created by spots physiotherapist Randall Cooper, these products are perfect for your at-home massage arsenal. We’ll take you through the best ways to use each Premax product.

For a quick massage, lotion is your best choice. Its lightweight formula quickly absorbs into the skin, making for a mess-free massage. Lotion is also perfect for targeting dry areas because of its moisturizing properties. Premax’s non-greasy massage lotion features sweet almond oil and shea butter for soft skin. It’s especially good for giving yourself (or someone else) a luxurious head, face or neck massage at home. Because it has the most amount of glide, we recommend lotion for gentler massage techniques such as Swedish massage.

If you want to try a more in-depth massage, a cream will likely
work better. Because of its thicker consistency, it delivers more resistance than lotion. This feature makes it easy to glide and work on larger surface areas like the back or shoulders without the product sinking into the skin too quickly. Its higher resistance also allows you the freedom to spend more time on tense areas if needed. The Premax Essential Massage Cream is versatile enough for a number of different massage techniques, making it ideal for both massage experts and beginners alike. Ingredients like patchouli and ylang-ylang have a pleasing aroma that soothes the mind in addition to the body.

We know that for sports massage and trigger point therapy, resistance is key. However, it’s just as important to have a product that assists with a smooth glide. The Premax Original Massage Cream offers both in one screw-top jar. Different to Premax’s Essential cream, this thick cream has a firm resistance, great for kneading out those knots at home. If you want to deeply concentrate on one area of the body, this cream works best. It also has a light peppermint and lavender scent, creating a pleasant aromatherapy experience.

Trigger Point Self Massage

Trigger point techniques are used in professional settings to relieve tension, both via massage and dry needling. Here we’ll learn how someone can use trigger point therapy at home, in between therapy appointments.

Who can benefit from manual trigger point therapy?

Trigger points often present as “regional, persistent pain that results in a decreased range of motion of the muscle in question”. It is common for trigger point pain to appear in muscles that maintain posture, during muscle activity. However, trigger points can also present constant pain in rare cases. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it’s possible that you are dealing with a trigger point related issue.

Due to busy schedules, financial obligations and a variety of other real-world circumstances, it’s unlikely that you are able to fit in an appointment every time you need one to professionally alleviate this sort of muscular tension and stiffness. However, that does not nullify the importance of relieving those muscle knots as soon as they arise, rather than waiting until your schedule permits.

Trigger point techniques are widely used by professionals in order to alleviate body stiffness and tension, but recent studies have shown that a manual or at-home trigger point massage can also be highly effective in terms of pain moderation and tension release. Self-massage for trigger points can also have “superior short-term outcomes” for patients struggling with plantar heel pain, in particular.

Finding trigger points for self-massage

The first step in manual trigger point therapy is understanding where and how to find sensitive spots that will assist in overall pain reduction. The most common physical manifestations of a trigger point are:

  • Hypersensitive area of muscle that may be slightly harder than usual
  • Radiation of pain throughout the area when trigger point is pressed on using fingers or trigger point ball

Tips for at-home trigger point therapy

If you have visited a physician and determined the exact location of your trigger point, trigger point balls can be an excellent tool for providing overall pain reduction by massaging your trigger point. One study compared this sort of trigger point therapy to sham therapy in patients struggling with unilateral shoulder pain caused by pressure points, revealing that the manual trigger point therapy was significantly more effective than the placebo treatment. To use a trigger point ball:

  • Position it on the chosen trigger point
  • For back or glute pain, place the ball between the floor and the trigger point and slowly roll in order to reduce tension
  • For shoulder and upper back, place the ball between a wall and the trigger point
  • For neck pain, use the palm to apply pressure to the ball and roll back and forth

If you can’t exactly determine the trigger point that is the root of your generalized muscle pain, using a trigger point foam roller can provide a self-massage that covers a larger surface area of muscle at a time. In addition to trigger point therapy, this type of foam roller can also be used to assist with:

  • IT Band injuries
  • General muscle tightness
  • Exercise recovery
  • Yoga or pilates

For a mixture of the localized pressure from the trigger point ball and the more general massage capabilities of the foam roller, we recommend using a spiky massage ball, whose soft spikes rejuvenate muscle by targeting tension and stimulating blood flow, similar to the effects of a professional sports massage. The spiky massage ball is used in the same way as the trigger point balls, but is often used as well for the treatment of aching feet caused by plantar fasciitis.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Compression Shorts for Adductor Pain and Weakness

Most adults have experienced a strain at some point during their lives; a strain injury can affect any
muscle but is most common in the back, neck, shoulders and legs. Oftentimes, strains are simply referred to as a "pulled muscle", which is an accurate description of what happens during a strain, since a strain is caused by a muscle being stretched beyond capacity.

When you experience a "pulled groin", you’ve stretched the muscles that are also known as the hip adductors. There are three muscles that comprise the hip adductor, all of which can potentially be affected by a sports injury.
The adductor muscles are responsible for thigh adduction and rotation, as well as proper extension of the hip. An adductor strain is most common in sports such as soccer, hockey, tennis, sprinting, rugby and baseball. That's because the adductor muscle group becomes most challenged when rotation occurs, typically during a sudden movement when an athlete changes direction or kicks a ball using the inside of their foot. During actions such as these, the groin muscles have to contract to generate oppositional forces, which places a significant load on the entire adductor complex.

While anyone could potentially suffer an adductor injury, some people are more inclined.

Factors that put you at higher risk for a groin pull include:

  • Sports & activities that require sudden changes in direction
  • Sports & activities that require sudden exaggerated force
  • Weak adductors from chronic under-use
  • Muscle fatigue from overuse
  • Improper stretching
  • Excessive pronation
  • A previous injury
  • Advancing age

Exercises to Strengthen the Adductor Complex

While injuries are never 100 percent preventable, there are ways to protect yourself. Stretching and strengthening your muscles while focusing on small as well as large muscle groups, are an integral part of staying fit and healthy.
Since your adductor complex is comprised of several individual muscles, there are a range of exercises available to you. Creating a strong and flexible hip will help you to not only prevent injuries during workouts but also in your day to day activities.

Adductor Squeeze

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor
  • With a Pilates ring or exercise ball between your thighs, bring your knees together slowly for 5 seconds before relaxing
  • Repeat for several minutes

Forward, Backward & Side Lunges

  • Forward Lunging
  • Standing with your feet hip-width apart, take a confident step forward onto your right leg
  • Shift your weight forward
  • Begin to bend your knees, taking care not to extend your right knee beyond your right toe
  • Lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to the floor
  • Press the right heel into the ground to return to a standing position
  • Repeat using other leg

Backward Lunging

  • Standing with your feet hip-width apart, take a confident step backward onto your right leg
  • Shift your weight forward
  • Keeping your knee positioned directly over your ankle, lower your hips until your right thigh is parallel to the floor
  • Drive back up through the heel
  • Repeat using other leg

Side Lunging

  • Standing with your feet hip-width apart, take a slow step out to the side with your right leg
  • With toes pointed forward, shift your weight to the right
  • Keeping your left leg straight, lower your hips so that your right knee does not extend past your toes
  • Push through your right heel to return to your starting position
  • Repeat using other leg

Groin Stretch

  • Take a wide stance
  • With your toes pointed slightly outward at a comfortable ankle, drop your hips
  • Keeping your chest up, use your elbows to push your knees out and back while relaxing into this position

Hip Extension

  • Beginning on all fours, shift your weight to the left and raise your right leg up behind you
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds before releasing and switching to the other leg

  • This exercise can also be performed using light to medium strength resistance tubing or a resistance band.

Hip Flexor Stretch

  • Begin this stretch as you would a lunge, taking a large step forward with your right knee
  • Kneel with your left knee on the floor, creating a 90 degree angle with the leg in front of you
  • With your palms on your lower back, slightly arch your back while sinking into your hip
  • Lean forward into your hip while engaging your core and buttock
  • Hold for 30 seconds, Repeat using other leg

Lateral Jumping

  • With feet slightly apart and knees bended to a squat position, push upward through the heels to jump side to side
  • Jump over tape on the floor
  • Jump to two opposing cones
  • Jump over a small obstacle
  • Jump onto a plyobox
  • Perform at 30- to 60-second intervals

Strain Management

A strain should be managed with rest, ice, compression and proper physical therapy. You can further alleviate pain and discomfort associated with a strain by taking an analgesic such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Alongside stretching and range of motion exercises, physical rehabilitation for strains can also include resistance and strength training exercises. Most people recover from strains within 1-2 months, however, everyone is different and proper medical supervision is advised.

Products for Groin Pain & Weakness

Athletes who are at high risk for adductor injuries can benefit from directional compression shorts, both for the prevention and during the treatment of groin strains. Thermoskin athletic compression shorts are endorsed by the Australian Physiotherapy Association, and are designed to help treat and prevent adductor injuries. These shorts are also ideal for athletes or active people who need additional support for their quadricep muscles, the lower back and hamstrings.
Thermoskin's athletic compression shorts work by applying even compression to tissues without becoming constrictive or uncomfortable. They can be worn for long periods of time and fit well under clothing including work pants.

Combating the Sedentary Workday

Whether you're at a desk all day or your work is more physically demanding, you're putting stress on your body. The wear and tear of even small repetitive movements can culminate in pains, strains, and a variety of short- and long-term health problems. In this blog post, we'll talk about how a sedentary lifestyle is affecting our health and how we can combat the effects with the help of everyday changes.

More and more of us are experiencing the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. While you may make time in your life to exercise regularly, you probably spend the majority of your workday in some kind of office or indoor environment. New studies have found that if you're spending much of your workday sitting around, you're not just increasing your risk of obesity, but a range of other illnesses as well, including cancer, kidney, lung and liver disease, digestive disorders, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, nervous disorders and musculoskeletal disorders.
Daily and continual small movements such as typing also contribute to repetitive strain injuries such as Carpal Tunnel, furthering the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle. Who knew spending so much time in the safety of an air-conditioned space could prove to be so dangerous?

You don't have to give up your desk job to improve your health. Here are some things you can do to combat the sedentary workday:

Take regular breaks
We're all busy at work, and there's nothing like the satisfying feeling of a good work flow. But if you've been at your desk in the same position for over an hour, it's time for a break.

Taking a break to move and stretch can be beneficial in as little as two to five minutes. Additionally, looking away from your screen periodically helps to prevent eye fatigue, also known as Digital Eye Strain, which can lead to common workday problems such as headaches, shoulder pain and neck stiffness.
Stepping away from your computer regularly has also been shown to boost productivity, so if you're one of the many people who avoid taking breaks due to fear of falling behind schedule, rest assured that your workday intermissions can actually increase how much you'll get done.

Practice good posture
Your mother always told you to sit up straight, and now science is telling us the same thing: good posture minimises excessive force on your joints and reduces aches and pains.
To get good posture in the workplace, a proper chair is paramount; avoid sitting in bucket seats, on couches or any other seat that causes your pelvis to rock back or forward into a slouch.
When typing, make sure you practice proper form, including keeping the wrists straight and in line with your hands. This means allowing your wrists to float rather than resting them on the desk. You can also use a wrist rest to accomplish this, and ensuring that your chair and desk are both in the proper position will allow you to type comfortably like this until your next break.
Avoid using a laptop and finding unconventional places to work; while that beanbag chair might look tempting and can be a nice place to rest, it’s not a proper workplace seating arrangement.
Lastly, make sure your feet are able to rest comfortably on the ground. If you don't have an adjustable table to work at to achieve the proper balance between flat feet, supported back and straight wrists, try using a pillow and/or footstool.
Proper form when typing helps you to avoid a range of short-term aches and chronic conditions including carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful condition caused by nerve compression, which becomes irreversible over time. If you are currently already experiencing pain, numbness or tingling in your forearms, wrists or fingers, making the right adjustments to your posture and wearing a supportive wrist brace can help you to reverse the damage while there's still time.

Stretch and take time to exercise
A regular break at work and good posture while sitting are critical steps to staying healthy at a desk job, but nothing beats shaking off the workday like regular exercise. Exercise has been shown to contribute to healthy weight, longevity and an overall sense of wellbeing. Strength training, low-impact cardio and stretching are all important components of regular exercise, and there are endless ways in which you can engage your body in healthy movement. Whether you enjoy the gym, you prefer the outdoors or you thrive on alternative activities such as dancing, trapeze or geocaching, there's an activity out there for you.

Learn more about how to make stretching, exercise and healthy living a part of your daily habits.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Exercise to Prevent Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain can occur for a wide range of reasons, and reportedly affects as many as 80 percent of adults at one point during their lifetime. And that's because we're talking about a significantly large area of the body, one that can be prone to inflammation, strains, sprains and even arthritis.
As we age, our bodies naturally become more susceptible to wear and tear. Aging is a common risk factor for lower back pain for a variety of reasons that are simply beyond our control.

During middle age, most people will begin to show signs of bone loss, or osteoporosis. Most commonly, bone fractures increase as bone density decreases.
At the same time, aging contributes to a loss of collagen and elastic tissues. Weaker bones and decreased flexibility ultimately are a perfect recipe for common lower back injuries, and this combined with an upward trend in sedentary lifestyles has made back pain more common than ever.

But just because it's not possible to reverse the hands of time, doesn’t mean you’re entirely at the mercy of the Natural Law. While aging is inevitable, getting old early doesn't have to be.

One of the most effective ways to thwart the effects that time has on your body is exercise. If you aren't already exercising daily, it's time to start. Keeping your back and abdominal muscles in check so they can properly support your spine and prevent muscle or bone injuries is one of the quickest, easiest and most affordable ways to mitigate injuries now and in the future.
Don’t worry, you don't need to be a candidate for the annual Universe Championships to reap the benefits of exercise; simple stretches and movements for just for 20-30 minutes every day will help you to become stronger to protect your back from a range of potential injuries.

Whether you're at your desk all day in a collapsed position, or you’ve overdone it at the gym, stretching your back can help you to stay healthy and limber.
1. With feet shoulder-width apart, slowly bend your upper body backward while breathing deeply. Engage your muscles, including your buttocks and thighs, but don’t lock out your knees.
2. With hands and knees on the floor, slowly round your shoulders and begin to lower your hips toward your heels. Tighten your abs, hold and repeat.
3. Laying on your back, slowly bring your knees to your chest while engaging your abdominal muscles. Wrap your arms around your legs, either under or over the knees; hold this position before repeating.

Build Muscle!
Strong muscles, particularly in the back and abdominal region, will keep your spine better supported, and help to prevent a range of health issues down the line. When you have proper musculature to support your body's movements, you're placing less strain on single joints because you're able to distribute pressure from jumping, running and even just walking more evenly. Proper muscle tone will also support your long-term quest for a healthy weight, which is essential to staying young and free of unnecessary aches and pains.
Strength training doesn't have to be difficult or time consuming. A set of resistance bands and just 30 minutes three times per week can help you to build up the muscles you'll need to become stronger, more flexible and more resistant to injuries.
Learn more about the benefits of TheraBand Resistance Bands here.

A daily exercise routine comes with a wide range of benefits, including stable body weight. Why is weight just as important as strength and flexibility? Being a healthy weight reduces your risks of developing acute and chronic injuries because it eliminates excess pressure that's put on your joints when you're above your ideal weight. While a few additional pounds are usually hardly noticeable to friends and family, your joints agree that even a little bit can make a big difference; for every pound you lose, you'll also take four pounds of pressure off your spine!
And it's not just your back that'll thank you, your knees greatly benefit from you being as close as possible to your ideal BMI as well. So whether you enjoy walking, biking, swimming or salsa dancing, make daily movement a part of your routine today.

Exercise has never-ending benefits that range from mental health to joint support. Remember to underpin your exercise routine with other daily habits that are proven to contribute to a long and healthy life.
If you suspect you have an injury, speak with your doctor promptly to see what steps you can take to help heal faster. We offer a range of back braces designed to aid in prevention and recovery by providing proper support and/or partial immobilisation.
Looking for additional weight loss tips? Check out these easy-to-digest diet resources to learn how you can manage your weight by changing your habits today.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Healthy Knees

How to Keep Knees Healthy Longer & Counter Osteoporosis Arthritis

Knee problems and other joint-related health issues seem to be a rite of passage for anyone over the age of 50. While knee pain, injuries and surgeries are extremely common, and millions of people currently already have artificial knees, knee-related issues are highly preventable according to the Harvard Medical School. An artificial joint can make all the difference in a person’s life, but major surgeries like these can come at more than a financial cost. There are a number of measures that you can take in order to avoid or prolong knee problems that often lead to Osteoporosis Arthritis. We’ll discuss how to keep knees healthy for longer, and several alternative ways to combat knee pain or injury where possible.

Stay Active & Regulate Your Weight
This is by far, the most important precaution you can take in order to avoid knee problems and many other health issues. Daily exercise a few times per week will help fortify your muscles and can help regulate your weight, both of which work to prevent knee deterioration.

When you strengthen your muscles, this helps absorb some of the stress you place on your knee from simply walking. According to the Harvard Medical School, your knees absorb 1.5 times your body weight when you walk. If you work to strengthen your quads, hamstrings, hips and core muscles, they alleviate some of the stress off your knees and help stabilize the knee joint. 

Furthermore, daily exercise can help regulate your weight, which determines the amount of stress placed on the knees. One pound of unhealthy weight can add up to four times the amount of stress on your knees, and obesity alone is a common cause for knee deterioration. The more shock your knees absorb, the faster their cartilage deteriorates and once the cartilage is gone, your bones start to rub against each other, which leads to pain, stiffness and swelling. Since cartilage can’t be replaced, prevention is vital.

Regulating your weight, also helps reduce the risk of diabetes and helps you control your blood-sugar levels. This is important because high glucose levels in your blood can cause your body to produce molecules that make your cartilage stiff and more sensitive to stress. The higher the glucose level, the faster the generation of these molecules, which is why there is a high correlation between diabetes and Osteoporosis Arthritis.

Exercising also improves your range of motion, which matters because your muscles become more stiff with age. Having a range of motion that allows you to straighten the knee can be an indicator of a healthy knee according to the Harvard Medical School.

Eat Foods to Strengthen Your Bones
Strengthening your bones is also key to avoiding Osteoporosis Arthritis, and this means eating the right nutrient-rich foods. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the following foods are great for your bone health:

  • Foods high in Vitamin C: red peppers, green peppers, oranges, grapefruit, broccoli, strawberries, brussels sprouts, papaya, pineapples and more.
  • Vitamin D: mushrooms, salmon, mackerel and more.
  • Calcium; found not just in milk: broccoli, collard greens, turnip greens, kale, okra, mustard greens, tofu and more.

Find a complete nutrition guide to fortify your bones here.

Be Mindful With Daily Activity
In addition to taking preventative measures such as exercising and eating right, it’s important to pay attention to your body’s cues. Listen to your joints when you are running or walking for extended periods of time. If you experience discomfort in your knees, you may want to skip the high impact exercise that day as there is a high possibility that it can lead to knee injury. 

Ladies, it’s time to ditch the high heels in favor of a flat; if you wear heels every day to the office and notice that your knees hurt at the end of the day, you’re placing too much stress on your joints and risking long term damage.

Care for Your Injured Knees
While it is always easier to prevent than to repair, a full recovery is still within reach if you choose to focus on the process and have a dedicated attitude toward your health. 

  • Use a knee brace to protect the injured area
  • Rest as much as possible to allow for a faster recovery
  • Use a bandage to apply the right amount of compression and ice to reduce swelling in the injured area.

Once your doctor has deemed it appropriate for you to become active again, make sure to continue to
wear your knee brace along with the right shoes. Your athletic and daily activity shoes must offer adequate cushion and support for your knees. 

If you have any questions, you can consult here for more information on the types of knee braces you can use to treat injuries, and for other ways to prevent knee injuries from physical activity.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Improving Balance & Coordination with Proprioception Exercises

If you're not familiar with this term, "proprioception" is simply a more concise way of saying "the sense of knowing where your body is in space". For example, you don't have to look at yourself to touch your finger to your nose, you can pick up a glass without knocking it over, and you know where your feet go even when you're walking on an uneven path.
Proprioception is learned at a young age and it includes both gross and fine motor skills. It starts the first time you reach for your mum's face as she's holding you and continues to evolve through early childhood. By the time you're in primary school, you're already pretty good at most things like holding a pencil to paper or kicking a football, and as you mature into an adult, you'll no longer need to think consciously about how your body moves even if you're trying something new.
But an injury, illness or surgery can change all that. Anytime immobilization occurs, it's very common to lose some of your proprioception. This can range from feeling a bit unstable to experiencing a complete loss of balance.
The good news is, just as you did when you were young, you can better your proprioception again with practice. Proprioception exercises have been shown to improve sensorimotor function, and with the right therapy, it's possible to recover from injury or illness return to your normal activities.

The purpose of proprioception exercises is to improve balance and spatial awareness and therefore also your sense of position in space. Water therapy may be a part of your recovery, particularly if your range of motion has been severely impeded or your muscle mass is greatly reduced. Starting in the water is a great way to get reacquainted with your body as you begin to make strides toward your recovery. Learn more about how water therapy can improve your balance and muscle function here.

Which specific exercises you'll engage in will depend largely on which body part is affected. For example, if you've injured your shoulder, you'll likely not also need to re-learn how to put one foot in front of the other.
Below are some of our favorite general balancing and spacial awareness techniques, good for the entire body. If you find that your senses are mildly affected after an injury, or you'd generally like to increase your proprioception for strength purposes, try these exercises at home.
Anyone can benefit from increased proprioception, not just those of us who are a big more accident-prone. Whether you've had an injury or simply want to be more balanced and graceful for athletic purposes, these exercises can help you gain more confidence and awareness.

The major factors contributing to proprioception development are activities that focus on balance, strength and eventually plyometrics such as jumping. If you're already an advanced player and simply want to improve your kinetic awareness, plyometric exercises are a great place to start:

  • Squats & Lunges
  • Jump Squats & Lunges
  • Box/Vertical Jumps
  • Lateral Jumps
  • Balance Boards
  • Weighted Balls for Overhead & Side-to-Side Exercises
  • Stop-and-Go Drills
  • Hurdles

If you need help re-training your proprioception after an injury, it's important to start with the basics, no matter where you were at prior to the incident. Keep in mind that any training after an injury should remain under the care of a specialist, such as a physical therapist, unless otherwise recommended.


Anything from walking to shifting your balance from one leg to another will help you to improve your stability.
You may be noticing that it's a bit more challenging to gain equilibrium, and this is expected after a period of recovery. Engaging in balancing exercises every day will help re-teach your brain where your body is in space, helping to prevent further complications from additional injuries.

All of these exercises are adaptable to suit a range of needs and abilities. When performing an
exercise, think of all of the ways in which you can break down your movements into smaller steps. For example, if you're not yet capable of doing a standing leg lift, you can try simply shifting your weight from one leg to another. Once you've completed this action, you can think about bending the knee but keeping the toes on the ground. Once you feel comfortable here, try just flexing the toes on your bent leg to move them a few inches above the floor.
Giving yourself permission to feel accomplished each step of the way will speed up your recovery and help you to stay motivated. Here are some easy-to-modify balancing exercises we love:

  • Standing on One Leg
  • Standing on Tiptoes
  • Superman
  • Plank


Improving your strength requires proprioception and your proprioception will improve by practicing
strength training. It's a two-way street that's closely intertwined; without one, the other suffers.
Strength training will often naturally be a part of your recovery, whether you need proprioception retraining or not. Strength exercises will help to re-establish important connections between your muscles and brain, and as your strength improves, you'll also begin to increase your body's awareness in space. This, in turn, will give you the ability to train harder, improving strength and proprioception even further.

Lower Body
Exercises such as squats and lateral lunges are some of the most popular and effective ways of regaining leg stability.

Core exercises are an essential part of whole-body stability, and their benefits reach far beyond injury recovery. A strong core is an essential part of injury prevention, and focusing your workouts to include your abs and back will allow you to take your fitness to the next level.

Upper Body
Improving strength and mobility after an arm, shoulder or back injury can range from simple movements such as rotation to active resistance training using weights or bands.

Here are a few workouts to help get you started:

  • Leg Lifts
    • Standing
    • Sitting
    • Lateral
  • Squat
  • Lunge
  • Curtsy
  • Bicycle Crunch
  • Superman
  • Bridge
  • Resistance Band
    • Across chest
    • Behind back
    • Vertical

If you've suffered from an acute injury or are currently in recovery from an illness or a surgical procedure, it's important you talk to your doctor about how to get your physical health back on track. He or she may recommend professional physical therapy, at-home exercises or a combination or both.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Alleviate Post-Surgical Pain with the Abdominal Binder

Combating Swelling & Post-Surgical Discomfort with the Thermoskin Abdominal Binder

Abdominal surgeries are amongst some of the most common medical procedures, particularly for
women. Whether you need to have your appendix removed, are scheduling a c-section, or want to avoid future pregnancies, you will have to undergo abdominal surgery. While this may seem daunting as your abdomen is one of the largest and most precarious areas of your body, there are a variety of steps you can take to ensure the process from pre-surgery to recovery goes off without a hitch.  So you have your surgery scheduled for next month, next week or you are in the recovery stage even today, what now? Let’s discuss some common side effects of abdominal surgery, along with some products and processes to aid you in recovery.

What Are Some Common Abdominal Surgeries?

  • Abdominal surgeries are actually incredibly common, given that your abdomen is the most organ-dense part of your body. But the most common surgeries are the following: 
  • Appendectomy: removal of the appendix. 
  • Myomectomy: removal of uterine fibroids without the removal of the uterus to maintain fertility. Hysterectomy: removal of the uterus to avoid pregnancy. 
  • Caesarean Section: also known as a C-Section, the use of surgery to deliver babies. 
  • Any other type of surgery related to stomach or digestion issues such as a tummy tuck or a laparoscopic surgery.

What Side Effects Can I Expect? 

The most common side effects immediately after surgery will be nausea and possibly vomiting due to the anesthesia. But once this subsides, you are likely to experience a low yet uncomfortable level of pain. The easiest way to subside this pain is to apply compression to your abdomen. Other side effects can also include swelling and soreness, which can also subside through compression.

What Can I Use to Alleviate Pain? 

Using the Thermoskin Abdominal Binder applies a comfortable amount of compression to alleviate a variety of common side effects post-surgery such as swelling, soreness, pain and stomach discomfort. Its continuous design eliminates seams and provides an even distribution of compression, which increases the crucially needed level of comfort post-surgery. The abdominal binder even includes adjustable fasteners that allow you to easily determine which level of compression is most comfortable for your body. The design and build of the abdominal binder allows it to contour to your body for a more relaxed and comfortable fit that doesn't inhibit your natural range of movement. Its breathable knit lets you wear this product for extended periods of time while a stabilizing level of support combined with a low level of warmth helps reduce swelling. Furthermore, because your back will require additional support during this period of abdominal weakness, the abdominal binder assists the lower back area while applied.

What Else Can I do for a Healthy Recovery? 

Recovering after your surgery is a process that requires the right care and above all, patience. It’s best to not expect a speedy recovery so that you can give your body enough time to regain its strength. Here are some things you can do to nourish your body and avoid further complications in your abdomen area:

  • Follow directions to a T: Avoid baths and swimming, do not lift heavy items, clean your incision and go to your follow up appointments if your physician instructs you to do so.  
  • Fuel up: A huge part of your recovery for any kind of procedure or even just daily physical activity is making sure you are getting enough food and water. But it is especially important that you nourish your body after surgery. Make sure you are eating easy to digest foods and getting enough fiber above all since your body is prone to constipation during the recovery period.  
  • Care for the incision: It’s not only important to keep an eye on your incision, it is also paramount that you exercise proper hygiene. Just make sure to take a look at your incision every day after your surgery and know that it is normal to see some scabbing around the incision as it heals. As far as hygiene is concerned, don’t apply rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide unless your physician instructs you to do so. Just soap and water will do and make sure to wash your hands before you touch your incision! 
  • Watch Your Coughing: This may sound silly but this is especially important for abdominal surgeries. When you cough, it’s important to brace your incision by applying pressure to it. The Thermoskin abdominal binder helps with this but it wouldn’t hurt to simply brace your incision when you cough. It is normal for you to cough more than usual after surgery so you want to be very careful with your incision.

Having the right tools at your disposal is the first and most critical step in any kind of recovery. Now that you know what the abdominal binder is for and how you can use it, talk to your doctor about whether this could be an option for you while in post-surgery recovery.

Diastasis Recti

How to Prevent & Recover from Diastasis Recti During & After Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be a tough nine months, but even when it's relatively routine and easy, it's still bound
to wreak havoc on your body. Although many women will bring their babies to term without any major complications, most new mothers report experiencing one or more bodily changes lasting longer than the average recovery period.
One of the most common and under-discussed post-pregnancy symptoms women experience is diastasis recti. This is the separation of the abdominal muscles in a way that the midline is left vulnerable and exposed. This separation is required in order to allow the baby to grow, but also results in a more prominent pooch after pregnancy, persistent lower back pain and some degree of urinary incontinence.

A good majority of women see their diastasis recti improve naturally once their hormones return to pre-pregnancy levels, however, about a third of all women who have delivered simply don't spring back and the gap remains.

The best treatment for diastasis recti is prevention. Working on your ab strength before pregnancy and engaging in appropriate abdominal exercises throughout your term will allow you to recover faster. However, if it’s too late for prevention, there are still plenty of things you can do.

While many fitness magazines have recommended ab exercises to correct this condition, crunches, sit ups and planks can make abdominal separation even more severe. Using force to push the belly outward, for example during a sit-up, when lifting heavy objects, or when in the bathroom, can actually make this matter much worse. Even standing up suddenly from a lying position can be detrimental for someone with ab separation. Instead of focusing on traditional ab workouts geared toward pre-pregnancy abs, you'll benefit from engaging in gentle movements that use your breath to guide you. You’ll recognize a quality at-home workout programs designed for new moms because it pays close attention to avoid traditional ab exercises in favor of smaller, more deliberate movements.

While your abs are in recovery, practice sensible movements all around, such as rolling over on your side and propping yourself on your elbows when getting out of bed. Additionally, using a brace to protect your abdomen during this time will keep your vulnerable abdominal parts protected and support your lower back. However, be mindful that wearing a brace will not result in automatic abdominal repair. Simply telling the muscles where you'd like them by holding them in place will unfortunately not cause them to grow back together.
For that, you'll need to engage in appropriate diastasis recti exercises, designed to repair post-pregnancy muscles. Once the connective tissues are healed, engaging in deep core exercises with yoga or pilates can improve this situation even further. Using your finger or a soft measuring tape, measure how far apart your abdominal muscles are today and whether or not they are improving with time and exercise.

Combating Pain & Soreness with Anti-Flamme

You’ve suffered from occasional soreness, stiffness and pain, but when these symptoms become a part of everyday life and keep you from your favorite activities, you need relief fast. Whether you've overdone new exercise regimen or you suffer from pain due to chronic inflammation, such as arthritis, Anti-Flamme can help you.

Other topical analgesics such as Icy Hot aren’t for everyone; they can cause stinging and burning, and
the long-term use of over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen can lead to gastrointestinal and liver complications. Unlike these other pain treatments, Anti-Flamme contains only four active ingredients:
arnica montana, hypericum perforatum, calendula officinalis and peppermint.

Let's break down these ingredients to learn more about how Anti-Flamme works to soothe and relax sore or strained muscles and aching joints.

Arnica montana has a long history of medicinal use across Siberia, Europe and in the temperate climates of North America. This is where the flowering herb readily grows, and when applied to bruising or sore muscles, the analgesic effects are quick and powerful. That's because arnica contains chemicals that are known to naturally decrease pain and reduce swelling associated with a variety of conditions from arthritis to overuse. In addition, arnica has antibiotic properties, which means this herb is also effective in treating cuts, sores or insect bites.

You've likely heard hypericum perforatum called by its common name: St. John's wort. Like arnica, St. John's also has a long history in alternative medicine, both for internal and external applications. Externally, its topical preparations have been used for millennia to treat everything from cuts and burns to muscle pain. St. John's wort has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

Calendula officinalis, the calendula flower, helps to decrease swelling and regrow new tissue after a wound's been inflicted but as trouble healing. Calendula extracts on their own have been used in a wide range of scenarios, from the treatment of menstrual cramps to use as an insect repellent. Their chemical properties have applications in sports medicine as they help to prevent muscle spasms, reduce pain and swelling and more.

Peppermint oil is a natural analgesic with anti-inflammatory properties to help alleviate joint pain and stiffness. This natural ingredient can soothe muscle cramps, pain, spasms and tightness.

Using Anti-Flamme in conjunction with trigger point massage and stretching helps to alleviate pain, rightness, stiffness and general soreness quickly and effectively;
Anti-Flamme smells like relaxing peppermint, not like medicine. Use it to treat sports- or exercise-related injuries, joint pain, bruising, aching, tightness, knots and more.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Easing Digestion with Movement

Many efforts have been made to help researchers understand the link between physical activity and gut health. In recent years, the body of evidence connecting exercise with a healthy gut has significantly widened. We now know that there’s actually a strong correlation on a microscopic level: The bacterial composition of the digestive system seems to change based on how often you exercise. The link is so strong, in fact, that one study found that physical activity three to five times per week can noticeably reduce the severity in IBS symptoms.

Because gastrointestinal health is such a multifaceted issue, there’s still a lot to learn. However, implementing a physical activity regimen can provide a range of benefits to you today. So what works?

Running, Hiking & Walking
If you've ever noticed you have more of an urge to go when you're out on a walk, run or hike, you're not imagining things. Exercise stimulates the intestines to contract, which helps to move things along naturally. A regular exercise regimen lasting 20-30 minutes per day can improve constipation and provide a more general sense of wellbeing.

But exercising is about more than just being regular. In addition to stimulating the intestines, regular exercise also strengthens your whole digestive tract, making digestion more efficient.

Yoga, Breathing & Stretching
You don't have to engage in hard-hitting exercises to get benefits for digestion. Intentional breathing exercises such as yoga or meditation both help to strengthen diaphragm muscles, which can ease the symptoms of acid reflux. Using a basic resistance band such as a Theraband will help you to stretch more deeply and hold poses for longer using the correct form. Therabands are a versatile tool that can be used in physical rehabilitation capacity and to improve strength by targeting specific muscle groups.

Breathing deeply and slowly using the muscles around your diaphragm, try a range of deep stretches to compress and extend your abdominal region. Deep, intentional movements can stimulate and ease digestion by improving blood flow, and will help to strengthen the muscles that surround your gut.
In addition, this type of exercise is strongly associated with stress reduction and a boost in mental energy.

Now that you know you don't need to hit the gym hard after every meal to get digestive benefits from movement, we encourage you to try stretching with a Theraband daily.
Make exercise a part of your health care routine, along with a balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh foods and fiber.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day, not waiting until you are thirsty to do so. Staying hydrated allows your body's cells to work in peak condition by helping to transport vital nutrients and regulating a range of bodily functions, including digestion.

5 Tips for Keeping Your Resolutions

Changing Your Habits for Good

A New Year's resolution can feel like a new door has opened. But getting into the right mindset and staying there are two different things. Keeping up with new goals can be exciting at first, but as the year progresses, it's not uncommon to stray. Here are five tips to help you turn your New Year's resolution into a lasting habit.

1. Believe You Can Change

Belief is one of the main cornerstones of change. It's truly a powerful contributing ingredient when it comes to new habits taking hold. Believing that change actually is possible, whether that belief comes from within or through an external source, adds a tremendous resource to your toolkit. Belief helps to cultivate a powerful mindset that's more critical than perseverance, willingness or personal commitment. Start by believing and take it from there.

2. Visualize the Change

Once you've opened yourself up to the reality that change really is possible, visualization will become a lot easier. Visualization is an essential tool for building new habits. In addition to offering relaxation, inspiration and improved focus, this important step of the process allows you to fully immerse yourself in your goal in order to build your confidence, reinforce your purpose, and actually see yourself meeting your goals at the finish line.
It might sound like a bit of fiction, but visualization can actually implant memories as if they were real. Visualizing each step of a process helps to ingrain habits until they become second nature, which makes it that much easier to stay the course even when the unexpected happens.
This technique has actually been a key ingredient for athletes' success for many years. Olympic swimmers including Michael Phelps are famous for utilizing this process so often and with such efficacy that they attribute it to their success. By visualizing each stroke needed to propel himself through the water in a race, winning became second nature. That's how he landed a new world record in Bejing even though, for much of the race, his goggles were filled with water. The power of visualization is real. It works for world class athletes and it can work for you.

3. Break it Up 

In order to visualize achieving your goal, you'll need to be able to clearly think about each piece of the puzzle, not just the end result. But breaking up the task serves another important purpose: Giving each goal a milestone along the way will provide clear-cut markers for success and more reasons to pat yourself on the back along the way. Goals aren't achieved overnight, and that's true for the big tasks as well as the smaller ones.
No matter the size of your goal, your initial milestone should be small enough to be totally attainable. This is particularly true for large, long-term goals and goals that require you to change an ingrained habit. For example, if your goal is to lose 30 pounds, don't immediately make weight loss your milestone. First, consider that replacing one bad food with a better one is already a huge success. If you can replace one food once a week, you might set a new goal to replace two foods in the week after that; goals of this proportion help keep your momentum up and will boost your confidence to keep you working toward your goal. An ideal first small goal should be attainable within 5-10 days. Once you have a few small goals under your belt, you can begin to up the ante.

4. Set a Date

Procrastination can undo even the most ambitious planner's goals. Without a deadline, things tend to get pushed aside in favor of other tasks.
Whether your own bad habits are keeping you from achieving your goal or your lifestyle keeps you endlessly busy, setting aside time each day to work on things like visualization is necessary in order to get you closer to your objective. Getting into the habit of setting a target date for each individual milestone will keep you from getting off course and derailing completely. That being said, if you do happen to get off track, don't spend too much time dwelling. Give yourself permission to fail and fail quickly. Use your failures as a learning opportunity rather than a tool for personal punishment; getting back up after any damaging setback is how you'll grow and eventually accomplish your goals.

5. Loop Someone In

Telling someone about your goals might be just the support you need to keep going even when times get tough. A support group might give you something to believe in or it might just hold you accountable. When you're accountable, you're more likely to follow through on a task because of the power of social expectations. Social expectations give you one more reason to stick with your new goals, whether that's to eat better, quit smoking or finish school. Having a buddy with a similar goal by your side allows you to check in, measure and record your progress regularly,giving the both of you a real reason to follow through. Telling one or more people about your goal also provides you with the support you'll need when you may feel like giving up. Like a coach by your side, an accountability friend or support group will be able to rally around and encourage you to finish this week's goal even when you're not feeling up to the task.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Revamping Your Pantry

Simple Yet Powerful Tips to Help You Change the Way You Eat

The new year is a great time to shed old baggage, and why wait until January 1st to start setting new goals for your health. The sooner you can get into the swing of things, the sooner you can nix old habits and start building new ones. Whether you have a New Year's goal or you simply think it's time, you really can change.

Let's talk about some best practices for stocking your pantry to serve your own health.

1.    Stock Foods You Like

When stocking your home with healthier foods, it's important to be realistic about what you will and will not enjoy eating. Making drastic changes that aim to eliminate instead of replace old habits is unrealistic and not sustainable in the long-term.

2. Keep Staples, Not Snacks

For many households, the word "pantry" might as well be synonymous with the words "vending machine". If sugary drinks, cakes, cookies and crisps fill the shelves of your pantry, consider how you might be able to push these out with more healthy alternatives.
Stocking your pantry with staples such as beans, rice, oils and preserved goods will make meal planning easier and grocery trips less stressful.

3. Oil vs. Oil

We're all familiar with the olive oil vs. vegetable oil debate, but is it really worth swapping out one for the other? Both have similar calorie content, and one is undeniably cheaper. So why the big fuss?
The short version is that western diets tend to be supremely deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. On the contrary, we eat a lot of foods that contain omega-6 fatty acids. Omega 6's are essential, but an unbalanced ratio promotes inflammatory conditions, high LDL, IBS and cardiovascular disease. A 6:3 omega ratio of 4:1 (or less, like 1:1) is really ideal, which is a far cry from what vegetable oils can provide. Because we tend to use oils in so many food preparations, this is a good place to start when making dietary changes. Whereas olive oil's ratio is about 13:1, vegetable oils range from 45:1 to 60:1, depending on the source and how the oil is processed.
When purchasing pre-made foods or snacks, be especially aware of this, as most processed foods contain soy, palm and other vegetable oils.

4. Spice Up Your Life

Struggling in the spice isle? With so many items on the shelf at such varying prices, things can quickly become overwhelming, making salt and pepper seem like the optimal choices. But a well-seasoned meal can mean all the difference between something you greatly enjoy and mediocrity.
Relying on salt to carry the burden of a meal that'll tantalise your tastebuds is both unrealistic and unhealthy. But if you do exclusively enjoy salty foods, consider switching to a low-sodium option such as Nu-Salt.
When creating a meal, consider some other kinds of tastes available to you:

  • savory
  • sour
  • sweet
  • bitter
  • spicy

We recommend stocking your pantry with salt-free options that can be used in versatile ways, such as garlic and onion (fresh, preferably), all-spice, cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin and curry.
Finding a local grocery store with a bulk spice isle will allow you to sample a range of tastes without committing to an amount you won’t be able to finish.

5. Broth, Soups and Sodium

Broths and soups are a great staple for your pantry because these will allow you to create quick and simple meals without the added effort of cooking completely from scratch. A hearty soup makes a great meal alone or together on a bed of mixed rice or quinoa.
However, be aware of the hidden amounts of salt found in many canned goods, namely soups and broths. The daily recommended allowance of sodium is 2,000 mg per day, which is about one tablespoon of regular table salt.

6. Other Canned Goods

Canned goods offer an easy solution to the problem of food preparation. Keeping black beans, navy beans or great northern beans in your pantry will expand your meal planning options while promoting a healthy omega 3:6 intake.
Canned vegetables are easier (and to some more palatable) than fresh options, but while most aren't a nutritional disaster, these also provide fewer vitamins and fiber.
Avoid stocking canned fruits as alternative snacks to cookies or cakes; while these might seem like a healthier option at a glance, they're often packed in sugar-laden syrup to the excess of five tablespoons per can. While peaches in their own juices will contain only about one tablespoon in each can, it's important to consider just how much more quickly this sugar can get into your bloodstream compared with the sugar found in a whole fruit, such as an apple.

Now that you’ve mentally stocked your pantry, it’s time to focus on how you’ll achieve your goals without falling back into your old ways.

You might have already noticed that setting goals is much easier than executing them over time. That's because a variety of factors come into play when you're trying to change habits, and some of these are emotional in nature, making them more difficult to identify and control.
If you find yourself setting health goals that include the words "always" or "never", we recommend a new strategy: Instead of eliminating things from your life or attempting to add a whole new routine, simply consider what it would take for you to replace a bad habit with a better one. Pushing out the bad by adding more good is a well-known and proven strategy for creating better habits, because it doesn't add unnecessary pressure that automatically sets you up for failure.

How to Change Habits Once and For All

1. Identify Your Habit

Over the course of our lives, we develop thousands of habits that we never stop to think about. From putting on shoes to backing the car out of the garage, your habits save you a lot of wasted mental energy. But habits can also be dangerous; they're the reason you zone out when driving home from work and why you unthinkingly over-indulge in foods or vices.

All habits follow the same path: they are triggered by a prompt, then the habit takes place, and soon a reward follows. When you come home after a long day at work, and you're tired and hungry, your habits for microwave foods, takeaways or quick snacks kick in. After you eat, you're satisfied - if even just for a while - and the habit loop is complete.

2. Replace Something Bad with Something Better

When thinking about our health goals, it's generally pretty easy to identify the bad habits, such as ordering a lot of takeaways. And this is where most of us get overly ambitious with statements such as, “I’m never eating takeaways again.” When that doesn't work, some of us try to bargain with ourselves by promising takeaway if certain other goals are met, such as daily exercise.  But a new exercise routine is difficult to fit into your life, so you try other ways to keep takeaway from weaseling its way back in, but ultimately realize that the sum these changes is simply too exhausting to follow through on. This is why so many resolutions are abandoned even before February.

When we begin to identify not just our habits, but the cue that sets a habit into motion, that's when change can really take place. Identifying your cues allows you to take control of all the actions that follow, by making proactive changes that don't change the habit in its entirety. It's important to recognize this loop because knowledge is power. Knowing how a prompt sets a habit into motion is half the battle.
Keeping a journal of your activities is a great way to help you take charge of the changes you want to see. Each time you reach for the phone to order a pizza or you plop down in front of the TV instead of picking up a resistance band or dumbbell, ask yourself "what triggered this action?"
Additionally, make a note of the anticipated reward you'd expect from completing this old habit. One journal entry might look like this:

Prompt: Nothing good to eat in fridge
Habit: Order pizza
Reward: Tasty food that doesn't require shopping, preparation or cleanup

Seeing this loop unfolding on paper gives you time to think about some alternative ways to approach this problem.

What Goes Into Creating a New Habit

Relying on Willpower
Many people believe that willpower is the key to a healthy lifestyle. Fit people are forever wondering why unfit people don't have more of it.
But, the truth is, while willpower is an absolute necessity for many things in life, it's a learned behavior, and even then, willpower tends to be highly inconsistent. In addition, evidence strongly suggests that willpower is actually a limited resource, which can be depleted by resisting your urges.
While you may be able to rely on willpower some of the time, there will be plenty of other times when willpower just won't step in to help you overcome your hurdles. This is especially true with habits rooted in addiction.

Being More Proactive
Everyone can benefit from being more proactive. Being proactive simply means that you learn to anticipate outcomes rather than blindly falling into them. This approach teaches you to take more personal responsibility for the situations you find yourself in, and is a great way to help you take more charge of your life generally. Being proactive can help you to recognize that stocking your fridge with foods you like will keep you from feeling overwhelmed when you're tired and hungry at the end of the day, something that normally leads you to order a pizza.
However, solely relying on being proactive can also lead to feelings of guilt and self-blame, so it's important to supplement this strategy.

Finding a New Reward
Being proactive helps you to focus on changing the thing that prompts a habit, but this is oftentimes more difficult than simply changing the habit instead. For example, if you find your fridge empty yet again, don't despair; now is the time to change your habit of ordering out forever. Here’s how: find an option that offers you a comparable reward -  tasty food that doesn't require shopping, preparation or cleanup.

Let’s consider some options:

If the most daunting portion of changing this habit are the meal planning and grocery shopping:
  • Buy health-friendly ready-to-eat meals that simply require re-heating
  • Shop at smaller supermarkets during the least busy times of the week, and keep your list short or have groceries delivered
  • Order boxed meals that contain all of the ingredients you'll need to prepare fresh food at home

If you find that an aversion to food preparation limits your meals:
  • Purchase pre-cut fruit and veg from the local supermarket
  • Enjoy pre-made meals that can be reheated in the microwave
  • Use single-step or crockpot meals that require little to no preparation

If you're someone who hates cleanup:
  • Prepare foods that only require one pot or pan
  • Clean as you go instead of leaving pots on the range or in the sink
  • Share cleaning responsibilities with a housemate or your significant other

By trading your pizza habit for an easy and satisfying crockpot roast, you still receive the reward you're used to without the empty calories and guilt.
Remember that your goals don't need to be enormous. In fact, by setting realistic goals such as replacing takeaways with a homemade pasta dish, you're much more likely to follow through.

Habit's Secret Ingredient

Why do some new habits fail to take hold? Believe it or not, the power of your own thinking has a lot to do with it. When you believe in yourself or you believe in a process, it's easier to continue even when everything else fails. It's why AA works better for alcohol dependency than quitting on your own, and why people experience real healing powers from the placebo effect.
Believing in yourself or in your process and your new habits can be challenging for many, which is why it can also help to be able to rely on others through this process.

A belief in yourself is vital, no matter which task you're tackling today. Believing in yourself gives you the confidence you'll need to give your all to a worthy cause.

The belief in others establishes strength in numbers, and is especially valuable when you're running low on self-belief. Having someone to turn to, whether it's a workout buddy, an over-eaters group or a self-help book, lets you recharge and find hope and strength again.

Sometimes it's the belief over others that carries us along. Seeing that Bob has accomplished something - even though Bob is hardly better than you in any other way - can actually renew your own belief, confidence and willpower.

The belief over everything is oftentimes referred to as faith, and while it's not for everyone, it is a tremendous resource for people who subscribe to a higher power. The belief in a god, god-like being, energy or universal truth helps to take the pressure off the individual to help create willpower without having to solely rely on yourself or other.

Take control over your habits once and for all. By recognizing your unconscious actions and making reasonable changes that are sustainable for years to come, you’ll be able to push out the things you want less of to make room for your new healthy life.