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The post-holiday 9-day recovery cleanse

The holiday season: the phrase is synonymous with overindulgence. We eat a little too much, drink a little too much, and have a little too much fun. Really, it’s what this time of year is all about.

As we recover from the holiday hangover, however, we start to set our sights on the new year and make our resolutions. For many of us, they’re going to be health related (sign-ups for gym memberships skyrocket this time of year): some of us want to get back into the gym and some want to eat better. Nevertheless, we all want to be healthier.

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How do we kick off 2018 and put our best foot forward for the year? I recommend a cleanse.

I’ve covered this topic before in an earlier post (you can check that out here).

With this post I’ll tell you why a 9-day cleanse is the perfect way to start off your new year and how to execute a good cleanse (using an example).

The What and Why of a cleanse

Before you start planning your New Year’s cleanse, you should first know what a cleanse is and why it’s going to benefit you. So, I’ll briefly take you through that here.

A cleanse is a type of nutritionally supported fast. In other words, you cut out all extra crap from your diet for a short period of time. This break allows your body to re-energize, it supports good health, and it promotes healthy weight management. After the cleanse is over, you return to a normal diet – the healthier your normal diet after the cleanse the more long term you’ll experience.

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The overall goal of a cleanse: significantly limit calories for up to two consecutive days per week while receiving nourishment from a cleanse day snack option.

For people who are familiar with cleansing, it’s not all that complicated. If you are new to it, however, it can be an adjustment.

It’s important to remember that cleansing is not about starving yourself: cleansing is about letting your body rest, recharge, and recuperate.

That covers the what. The why?

Cleanses like the one I’m going to be talking about shortly have been shown to benefit the body in four important ways compared to a standard “heart-healthy” diet:

  • 56% greater reduction in body weight
  • 47% greater reduction in body fat
  • 2X more reduction of visceral fat (fat that’s stored further underneath the skin than belly fat)
  • 35% greater reduction in oxidative stress (a form of stress caused by reactive oxygen species that can damage cellular machinery and disrupt function)

Try tell me that’s not an exciting, inspiring reason to start your new year off with a cleanse.

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Now that you’re pumped to start a cleanse, there’s just one thing left to get to: the nuts and bolts, or the ‘how to.’

How to do a 9-day cleanse

Step 1

Get your cleanse day nutrition. There are a lot of different options on the market; you want to choose one with meal replacement shakes, supplements, snacks, and a well put together guide. A company like Isagenix puts together a really good, well-rounded package (the rest of the article will use their 9-day cleanse system as an example).

Step 2

Two days of pre-cleansing. Before you start the actual cleanse, you want to prepare you body first.

With the Isagenix system, this includes taking 1 to 2 oz of the “Ionix Supreme” supplement and replacing two of your meals with an “IsaLean” meal replacement shake – I’ve seen the best results replacing breakfast and dinner.

For lunch, have something healthy, high fiber, and low fat that’s approximately 400 to 600 calories.

Repeat this routine for two days.

Step 3

Now you’re ready to start the actual cleanse; this is day one of the nine-day schedule.

Day’s one and two are your cleanse days. On these days you drink 4 oz. of “Cleanse for Life” four times a day. You can also eat up to six of the supplied Isagenix snacks. These snacks will help keep you feeling full throughout the day: they’ll also help control your blood sugar and cravings.

Starting on day one, and continuing for the entirety of the cleanse, take the “Natural Accelerator” capsule twice a day – one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Again, two days in a row of this.

Step 4

Now we’re into days three to seven of the nine-day schedule. Similar to the two pre-cleansing days, replace breakfast and dinner with “IsaLean” meal replacement shakes and have a 400-600 calorie lunch.

On days three to seven you can also satiate any hunger you may feel by having up to six Isagenix snacks.

Step 5

Do two more cleanse days just like Step 3 on days eight and nine.

Things to remember to do throughout the 9-day cleanse

For the nine days that you’re on the cleanse, exercise for at least 20 minutes per day (do cardio centered activities like swimming, hiking, cycling, and jogging).

Drink plenty of water: aim for about three liters. Water helps dilute impurities as they are removed from your body and it helps prevent constipation.

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Conclusion

Kicking off 2018 with a cleanse is the perfect way to get yourself feeling great right out of the gate. And if you feel good, it makes your other health related goals that much easier to achieve.

Isagenix’s 9-day cleanse is just one of the options out there. Please contact me to learn more; I’d love to help you out.

Have you tried a cleanse before? Let me know what you used and how it worked for you in the comments and be sure to follow Healthy Wheys on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. That way you’ll get instant updates about new content on the site.

 

Taking a week off from the gym during the holidays won’t kill you; it could actually make you stronger

The holidays: that special time of year when health and fitness is at the back of everyone’s mind.

“That’s a 2018 problem,” they say.

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2018: The magical land where all the hard work gets done.

But you disagree. You’re committed. I mean, you haven’t made all these sacrifices (the early mornings, eating right, fast days, protein shakes, going for a run instead of binge watching Netflix) for nothing.

The thought of throwing it all down the toilet while you’re away visiting family – or on a beach in Mexico, if you’re lucky – can be anxiety-inducing. You just can’t handle staying out of the gym that long.

I know these people: people that haven’t gone more than two consecutive days without working out.

These are also the people that plateaued ages ago.

They come in every day lifting the same amount of weight and setting the treadmill to the same speed they always have. Nothing changes.

What are they missing? Adequate recovery.

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Get more by doing less? How’s that for a mind-pretzel?

Taking a week off from the gym and letting yourself fully recover mentally and physically won’t negate everything you’ve worked for so far; in fact, it’ll make you stronger.

Maybe you’re so committed to the gym that just reading that sentence gave you a sour, bitter taste in your mouth.

But, please, just hear me out.

Read on and you’ll find out why you need a recovery week (spoiler: it has a lot to do with avoiding the danger of overtraining) and how to do a recovery week properly.

We’re in the middle of December – there’s shopping to do, family to visit, trips to go on, and parties to go to.

Due to all the craziness, this is the perfect time to plan your week off.

Trust me, your body and mind will thank you for it.

Why you need a recovery week

While you may think you’re withering away, getting slower and sloppier the more days you’re away from the gym, nothing could be further from the truth.

First off, inadequate rest can have a severe consequence: overtraining syndrome.

Overtraining syndrome happens when you’ve gone too hard for too long.

With overtraining syndrome, all the things you need to grow, build, and increase fitness – protein synthesis, proper hormone production, cellular energy – slow down. Your body goes into protection and survival mode.

From a progress perspective, this is the worst place you can be.

You need enough rest to prevent overtraining and keep your body in growth mode.

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Lack of rest can prevent you from making solid fitness gains.

Extended breaks from training also provide a mental lift – the brain is arguably the most important organ involved in performance – and trigger powerful physical and biochemical changes aiding improvements in fitness in the long run.

Exercise places stress on the body. It’s this stress that initiates adaptation and increases fitness.

While exercise is the time for stress, recovery is the time for adaptation; one cannot happen without the other.

Its during recovery that important biochemical, neural, and hormonal changes occur: these change your body so you can lift more, or run further, next time.

If you short change your recovery, you don’t allow these changes to have their full effect. It’s kind of like paying for an hour massage and leaving after 30 minutes – you made the investment, why not stay for the full benefit?

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You’ve already made the investment, now capitalize on it.

While an extended break may seem counterintuitive, it can help stave off the harmful effects of overtraining (helping you push passed plateaus), it provides a mental lift, and it allows the body to positively recover from the stresses of exercise.

Enough rest could be what’s missing from your regular routine that will push you to the next level.

How to take a recovery week

When I talk about taking a week off from working out, or other types of intense activity, I don’t mean completely throwing caution to the wind, parking on the couch, and eating Cheetos until you can no longer tell the difference between your natural skin color and the pigment of Cheeto dust.

Of course, there’s a right way and a wrong way to take a body vacation.

The right way depends on two things: timing and your behavior during the recovery week.

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Get out and take a walk.

Step 1: Schedule your week off

Ideally, it’s in the midst of the holiday season at a time when it’s going to be difficult to get into the gym anyways: when you’re away, family is over, or maybe your gym actually closes down for a stretch during the holidays.

Knowing when you’re going to be on break also allows you to plan your workouts accordingly. You want to be ramping up the intensity until your recovery week.

Step 2: Nutrition

Yes, you still need to eat well.

While your body is trying to recover and repair itself it needs proper fuel and nutrition – antioxidants, protein, BCAAs, etc.

Step 3: Light activity

It’s a good thing to get out and do something light, but you shouldn’t do an activity that you normally do intensely.

For example, a runner shouldn’t go out for a light jog; they’d be better off with a walk or a bike ride.

Doing something too similar may trigger the competitive part of your brain – we are creatures of habit after all. A runner trying to take a light jog may feel the motivation to try best their usual time once they start moving. Or, maybe, they’ll think they aren’t getting anything out of the run if they’re not going as fast, or as far, as they usually go.

Keep it simple, keep it light, and make it different.

Conclusion

Taking time off for rest may seem like blasphemy, but some much needed R and R may be exactly what you need to come back in the new year feeling stronger and better than ever.

Trust the science and trust the process. A well thought out recovery week will do you good.

Avoiding holiday and Christmas fatigue: 7 ways to keep your energy levels up

While the holiday season is a joyous, cheerful time of year, it can also be insane and draining.

Because you’re constantly on the go with Christmas parties, shopping, family coming to town, friends coming over, and the kids Christmas pageants (just to name a few), energy levels can be completely tapped by the first week of December.

Then you’re left fighting fatigue all the way through to New Years.

When you don’t have the energy, the holidays are an uphill battle; it turns fun occasions into obstacles and joy into stress.

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Luckily, there are scientifically backed ways to increase your energy and avoid holiday and Christmas fatigue.

I’ve listed 7 of the best ones here in this article; use them and you’ll come out of the holidays healthy and on top.

1. Move

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Exercise may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re tired.

The mere thought of expending more energy when you’ve got nothing left in the tank is exhausting, but it seems to have the opposite effect.

In an article for WebMD, Kerry J. Stewart, professor of medicine and director of clinical and research exercise physiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said, “Exercise has consistently been linked to improved vigor and overall quality of life.”

“People who become active have a greater sense of self-confidence. But exercise also improves the working efficiency of your heart, lungs, and muscles,” Stewart added. “That’s the equivalent of improving the fuel efficiency of a car. It gives you more energy for any kind of activity.

2. Yoga

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Yoga is one type of exercise that may be particularly effective for boosting energy; moreover, it doesn’t seem to matter how old you are when you do it.

Volunteers at a British University participated in a study consisting of one 60-minute yoga class per week for 6 weeks. At the end of the trial, they reported greater feelings of clear-mindedness, composure, elation, energy, and confidence.

Another study included 135 generally healthy men and women 65-85 years old. The participants took part in a yoga program for 6 months.

Compared to other groups in the study, the yogis came out further ahead in a number of quality-of-life measures related to well-being, energy, and fatigue.

3. Drink Water

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“Dehydration affects all people, and staying properly hydrated is just as important for those who work all day at a computer as it is for marathon runners,” said Lawrence E. Armstrong to News Medical. Armstrong is a professor of physiology at the University of Connecticut and one of the lead scientists of a study investigating dehydration and energy.

They looked at 25 women and 26 men, all healthy and active.

They found dehydration is an energy killer; it alters a person’s mood, energy level, and even their ability to think clearly.

“Even mild dehydration that can occur during the course of our ordinary daily activities can degrade how we are feeling – especially for women, who appear to be more susceptible to the adverse effects of low levels of dehydration than men,” commented Harris Lieberman, one of the studies’ co-authors.

4. Supplement with Fish Oils

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In a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, participants were asked to take fish oil supplements for three months. As a result of the supplementation, the researchers found evidence of reduced mental fatigue and faster reaction times in 18-35-year-olds.

5. Adaptogens

healthy wheys corey munegatto isagenix 6 adaptogens that will help you combat stress and maintain your energy

 

Stress and fatigue go hand in hand. Little bouts of stress are tolerable, but when the little bouts turn into long stretches, stress can manifest as a continual feeling of fatigue.

Chronic stress, the kind that lasts for days and weeks at a time, can directly deplete your energy reserves leaving you feeling depressed, worried, irritable, and exhausted. It can also affect other areas of your life critical to recovering from stress: sleep, for example.

If you’re not sleeping because your stressed, you can’t adequately recover from the previous days stressors and you won’t be equipped for what’s coming up tomorrow. Then you’re behind the eight ball and the cycle continues.

Adaptogens are compounds that help prevent the physical and chemical effects of stress – they’re something I’ve brought up on this website a few times before.

Adaptogens, by helping maintain homeostasis during a stressful event, prevent fatigue. Here are 6 that are particularly useful.

6. Combine Carbohydrates with Protein

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Consuming sugar makes us sleepy because sugar influences a group of cells in the brain that secrete orexin.

Orexin is a neuropeptide that regulates a myriad of mental properties, including sleepiness and hunger.

Sugar slows down the secretion of orexin from this group of cells and this makes us feel slow and sleepy. Interestingly, protein has the opposite effect on orexin secretion – protein increases it.

Therefore, the sleepy effects of sugar intake can be counteracted with protein.

7. Be Fair to Yourself

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There could be one simple reason you can’t maintain your energy levels this holiday season: you’re just trying to do way too much.

There are a lot of demands on our time, especially around the holidays. The mere thought of it can make a person want to curl into a ball and whimper.

That’s why it’s so important, at this time of year more than any other, to be realistic with yourself about your workload and your schedule.

If you spread yourself too thin, you’re going to feel fatigue no matter what you do. And you, and everyone else around you, will suffer for it.

Conclusion

Keeping the “gitty up” in your step can be tough this time of year. But there are certain things you can do to help you keep your energy levels as high as possible.

Give a few of my suggestions a try and let me know if they work for you in the comments.

If you’d like to know more, please contact me, I’d love to help you out.

Follow the blog for email updates of when new articles are available.

Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for regular information on living your healthiest life.

6 tips for not blowing your diet this holiday season

It’s that time of year again, the holidays. Peace on earth and goodwill to our fellow man.

While the holidays are an exciting, joyous time, there’s one thing they are not good for: diet and nutrition.

For anyone that has been busting their hump this year trying to get in shape – working out like someone possessed, watching everything you eat, and supplementing to give your body that extra edge – the mere thought of the holiday season can be anxiety inducing.

It’s a constant barrage of parties, happy hours, and treats shoved in front of your face. Your will power seems like it’s challenged every minute of every day.

And you’ve been so good for so long. It’d be an absolute shame to throw it all away.

How do you avoid completely obliterating your diet this holiday season, and maintain that healthy glow you’ve worked for so long to achieve?

I’m here to help you out with some of my best tried and true strategies. Pick one, or pick them all; either way you’re going to have some success.

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  1. Get your rest

With all the festivities and cheer happening around us, it’s easy to push your own well-being to the wayside and cut back on sleep.

But will power is a limited resource, and it’s intimately related to how rested we are.

The less sleep you get, the less will power you have. It’s that simple.

That’s exactly what a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition told us last year. The researchers found that sleep deprived people consumed an average of 385 extra calories per day more compared to those that got adequate rest.

Furthermore, the sleep deprived were more likely to consume more fat and less protein.

So if you want to keep a cap on overindulging, don’t sacrifice your pillow time during the holidays.

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  1. Plan ahead

If you’re going to a party and trying to stay disciplined, there’s one thing you absolutely must not do: show up hungry.

It can make it damn near impossible to not give in.

If you know you’re going to a party where there’s going to be a lot of unhealthy options, have a light meal, snack, or meal replacement shake before you get there.

Any of these options can help you stay in the driver seat when it comes to your cravings.

If you manage your hunger in advance, you can go into the party knowing you have the upper hand on your appetite; hunger won’t get the better of your judgement.

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  1. Schedule cleanse days

A study published in Nutrition Journal found that intermittent fasting, one or two days a week, can be just as effective for weight management as daily caloric restriction.

Scheduling a few cleanse days throughout the holidays can help manage the extra calories in your diet this time of year.

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  1. Adaptogens

The holidays can be stressful, really stressful.

Persistent stress influences our behavior in many ways; many of which alter the way we eat.

It causes our body to release cortisol – a hormone known to increase the motivation to eat. Stress also affects our food preferences, seemingly pushing us towards the intake of food high in fat, sugar, or both. And, finally, stress is linked with less sleep, less exercise, and more alcohol consumption.

We can head stress off at the pass this holiday season with adaptogens.

Adaptogens are compounds that prevent the physical and chemical effects of stress in the body.

Depending on the particular blend you take, they can also combat the damage of free radicals, establish a foundation of homeostasis, and promote healthy aging.

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  1. The 85/15 rule

Life is about having fun. We’re especially reminded of this during the holidays when we get to spend time with our friends and loved ones.

The 85/15 rule is all about allowing yourself little indulgences.

This is so you don’t become so overwhelmed with the unhealthy options constantly thrown in your face that you crack, go completely overboard, and just resort to telling yourself that you’ll get back on track in the new year.

85/15 means eating healthy 85% of the time and allowing yourself 15% for a little diet fun. It allows room for foods that may not be that good for you but you really enjoy.

In more understandable terms, if you eat six small meals a day during the holidays, one of those meals can include some indulgent foods.

Allowing these little indulgences satisfies that little monster in your head so he, or she, doesn’t take over your whole mind.

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  1. Don’t beat yourself up

As I said, the holidays are for fun, family, and friends. It’s not a time for self-loathing and discovering new ways to think of yourself as a failure.

A little indulgence every now and again doesn’t mean you suck and you’re a terrible person. It also doesn’t mean that your entire diet is shot because you had a cupcake.

The holidays are about love. Love for yourself and love for other people.

If you go a little overboard one day, that’s life. You’re human. Just get right back to the present and aim to stay on track toward good health and an optimal life from this point on and into tomorrow.

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Conclusion

The holidays are a fun time; they shouldn’t be a time of year you dread.

And they don’t have to be if you arm yourself with some of the strategies I’ve mentioned here. These tips will give you the confidence you need to go into the holiday season knowing you’re not going to become part of the statistic of average holiday weight gain.

With some planning and a little will power, you can make it through the holidays unscathed.

Let me know some of your strategies in the comments.

If you’d like to know more, please contact me, I’d love to help you out.

Follow the blog for email updates of when new articles are available.

Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for regular information on living your healthiest life.

 

 

 

Residual income: What it is, why you want it, and how to create it

It’s probably crossed your mind before: Why do I have to work so hard just to make ends meet while Joe and Karen up the street work six hours a day from home and spend every other month on vacation?

What are they doing that I’m not? They must have got an inheritance or something. There’s no way I’ll ever have that kind of lifestyle.

We all know, and secretly despise, our “Joe and Karen from up the street”.

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I’m here to tell you that you can have that kind of lifestyle. And, no, they probably didn’t get some sort of huge inheritance that allows them to live that way.

The difference between you and “Joe and Karen” is your mindset.

They think of money differently than you do.

You think the only way you can make money is by working. More work = more money. And the only way you can shift the equation is by putting in more hours or getting paid more for your time.

“Joe and Karen” haven’t been waiting to get a raise. And they haven’t been putting in more hours.

They’ve been concentrating their effort on creating residual income.

What is that you say?

I’ll tell you just that and offer a suggestion on one of the best ways to create residual income for yourself.

The difference between residual and active income

Going back to my earlier example (more work = more money), most people think in terms of active income. It’s the money we get as a direct result of the work that we do.

We work for an hour and we get paid for an hour’s worth of work. Simple as that. It’s our wages, salaries, and the money we get as a result of our services if we’re self-employed.

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Residual, which is also called passive, income on the other hand is income that keeps rolling in even after the work is done.

The most commonly mentioned sources of residual income are royalties from books, movies, or songs and things like real estate or business investments.

The key difference between the two is that with residual income, you don’t actually have to be working, or even present, to earn the money.

Take Bill Gates, for example. He’s still earning a residual income from Microsoft even though he hasn’t been putting working hours into the business for years.

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How do you create residual income?

Residual income comes from building an asset.

In financial terms, an asset is an economic resource. It is anything tangible or intangible that can be owned or controlled to produce value.

A house is an asset to a landlord because they get paid rent every month.

A business is an asset to a business owner.

Each are assets because they produce value (in the form of income) for the person that owns or controls them (i.e. the landlord or the business owner).

How to start building an asset

There are a lot of different ways to build an asset and start generating a residual income.

Purchasing a rental property, investing in the stock market, writing a book, writing a song, or owning a business are just a few examples listed on many websites talking about residual income.

But what if you don’t have the capital you need to just up and purchase a house?

Or the financial savvy to get into the stock market?

And the articles that tell you to simply sit down and write a book… or pick up a guitar and write a song…

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They can get bent.

They make it sound like writing a book and navigating the publishing world is child’s play. And coming up with a killer, catchy song? The only reason I haven’t done it yet is because I haven’t felt like it. It’s not like it takes a life time of practice, natural ability, and some luck to write a hit single.

Here, I want to talk about generating residual income for us real-world people.

I’d like to introduce you to network marketing.

What is network marketing?

Entrepreneur.com defines network marketing as “A business model in which a distributor network is needed to build the business. Usually such businesses are also multilevel marketing in nature in that payouts occur at more than one level.”

Avon, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Tupperware, and Isagenix fall under the network marketing business model.

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Network marketing is a way to own your own business without having to come up with a huge initial investment or go through the turmoil of establishing the brand from the ground up.

It’s usually as little as a few hundred dollars for the purchase of a product sample kit and you have the opportunity to work with a brand that already has a reputation.

You can then build your own business by selling products or services and by recruiting other sales representatives into the structure.

How to find success with network marketing

Here are some tips for getting started with network marketing as your full- or part-time business.

1) Do your research.

You want to choose a good company to get involved with. This requires some research. Here are some questions you should get the answers to before you get involved:

  • How old is the company?
  • Are the products or services something consumers will use and need more of?
  • What is the payment structure like?
  • Is the company well respected?
  • Is the company growing?
  • What kind of support is there?
  • Will you be mentored at all?

2) Take the advice

The way network marketing businesses are structured, it’s in your mentor’s best interest to help you succeed. They succeed when you succeed. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can do it better or do it without them.

Listen to what they did to become successful. Be willing to listen and be taught.

3) Be a good mentor

This is the flip side of the last point.

It’s easy to get caught up with bringing new people in that you don’t spend enough time training the people you have already brought in. Their success is your success. Take the time to help them get started and it will pay off in the long run.

4) Don’t miss an opportunity to follow up

So many people in the industry get calls, emails, or texts from someone who’s interested, but they don’t follow up with that person, then they’re gone forever.

Don’t be this person.

It reflects poorly on you and it can also give the company you’re working with a bad reputation. Not to mention you’re missing out on potential sales.

5) Treat it like a business

This is a business, so it deserves the respect of a business. That means there are things to consider before you go in.

  • How is this going to affect you tax-wise?
  • What are your write-offs?

Consider seeking the advice of accountants and lawyers who deal specialize in network marketing businesses. They know the answers to the questions above and they’ll be able to consider a myriad of things you haven’t thought of.

6) Patience

Don’t quit your day job because of a dream or good prospects. It needs to become reality first.

I wouldn’t recommend leaving your full-time position until you’re absolutely sure the income coming in from your new business will be there.

That means you’ve got to do it for a while to make sure it’s a stable company, you can successfully manage it, and the earnings are equal to or greater than what you were getting from your day job.

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Conclusion

Residual income is the way to wealth and financial freedom. Make your money work for you and you’ll be able to work until the day you die.

Residual income comes from building an asset. That is, something that can be owned or controlled to produce value for you.

A great asset is a business. And good business to get into are network marketing businesses. They require relatively little initial investment and they have an established reputation you can take advantage of.

But, it’s not easy. Contact me today and I can help you get started transitioning your life towards residual income.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

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Everything you need to know about branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)

Everyone and their dogs are taking branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs.

The market is huge. According to a recent report, the market for protein ingredients is projected to reach 58.49 billion dollars by 2022. That’s a compound annual growth rate of 6%. That’s insane.

And we’re talking about a market that is already gigantic.

BCAAs are a big part of this protein market. And in this article, I’m going to tell you why. I’ll tell you what they are, what they do biologically, what the supplements do, why their so effective when you’re dieting, and when it’s best to take them.

What are they?

BCAAs refer to three amino acids in particular – leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. And proteins are what make up the muscles that allow you to easily lift that 50-pound dumbbell at the gym.

Essential amino acids are amino acids that the body can’t make itself. That means we need to ingest them in our diet or get them from a supplement.

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BCAAs are important and have gotten a lot of attention from the men and women in the research world. Maybe more than any other supplement out there. They represent 50% of essential amino acids in food and make up 35% of the total amount of essential amino acids in muscle proteins.

Considering there are 21 amino acids in total and three of them represent this much, you can start to understand the importance they have in your body and why they’ve gotten so much interest.

Their biological function

BCAAS are essential amino acids involved in a myriad of functions within working cells.

They:

  • Contribute to energy production
  • Are important components of muscle proteins
  • Act as signaling molecules promoting protein synthesis
  • Increase antioxidant capacity

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Because they serve so many beneficial functions and are delivered straight to muscles (other essential amino acids are broken down in the liver), BCAAs have long been considered an effective nutritional strategy to prevent exercise-induced muscle damage and its consequences.

The idea is: if you can prevent excessive muscle-protein breakdown and promote repair (both functions BCAAs can do), then you can promote muscle sparing and growth.

What BCAA supplements do

There has been a lot of research done with BCAAs. They have been shown to have positive effects on:

Protein synthesis

BCAAs stimulate protein synthesis as well as the cellular machinery that carries out the process of protein synthesis. This means BCAAs increase the speed of protein synthesis AND the cell’s capacity for protein synthesis. They can produce more protein faster.

Protein breakdown

BCAAs reduce the rate of protein breakdown by decreasing the cellular machinery that breaks down protein.

Workout intensity

The proteins that make up the BCAAs – leucine, isoleucine, and valine – compete with another amino acid, tryptophan, for entry into the brain.

You’ve probably heard of tryptophan before, it’s the amino acid found in turkey that makes you so goddamn tired after eating it.

Once tryptophan makes its way into the brain it is converted into the brain molecule (neurotransmitter), serotonin.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has many different functions on the brain, one of them being increased perception of fatigue during exercise.

Because BCAAs compete with tryptophan, an increase in one means a decrease in the other. So, when you have more BCAAs present, you get less tryptophan getting into the brain being converted to serotonin and less perceived fatigue.

This all comes together to allow you to work harder, longer.

Aerobic exercise

There is an increased time to exhaustion during prolonged exercise in untrained or lightly trained people. Athletes with advanced training don’t seem to experience the same benefits.

Fatigue

Alongside BCAAs effects on aerobic exercise, there’s also moderate evidence showing BCAAs decrease the mental fatigue associated with working out too.

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Why BCAAs are so effective when you’re dieting

While BCAA supplementation has positive effects on gaining muscle, it really earns its weight in gold by preserving the muscle mass you already have. Especially if you’re dieting.

Dieting is catabolic. When you’re dieting you’re in a state of calorie restriction, which can lead to muscle breakdown.

Basically, your body starts to break down muscle as an energy source. It does this because fat is the most efficient way to store energy.

One gram of fat has more energy than one gram of protein. For that reason your body wants to keep it around. Think of it like storage for a rainy day.

Your body wants to keep it around so bad it will break down muscle instead.

The proteins making up muscle are broken down into amino acids, which are then used as fuel.

What we also have is less muscle being made. Because you’re at a loss for energy, your body is going to slow down energy synthesis to preserve the energy that it has.

So, we have more muscle being broken down and less muscle being made. This can make it really difficult to lean out.

It’s even more difficult when you add exercise into the mix.

Exercise tends to exacerbate the metabolic effects of dieting. Everything I’ve said in this section so far gets kicked up a notch with exercise.

The muscle preserving effects of BCAAs and their ability to promote protein synthesis tips the catabolic scale so you can preserve muscle while you’re dieting.

This means maximizing fat loss with the overall effect of losing a greater percentage of body fat than your friends that aren’t supplementing with BCAAs. It’s a miracle supplement if you’re trying to lean out.

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When is it best to take them?

BCAA supplements are best taken immediately after exercise to support muscle building and recovery.

I recommend something with at least 1800 mg of leucine and at least 800 mg of isoleucine and valine. These amounts of the BCAAs will make sure you enjoy all the benefits I’ve highlighted in this article.

Conclusion

From the research that has been done so far, it seems that supplementing with BCAAs increases muscle retention, maximizes fat loss, increases muscle building, increases aerobic endurance, and decrease mental fatigue while exercising.

You’ll experience the best results when you take BCAAs right after you workout at clinically relevant doses.

Let me know what you think about BCAA supplements in the comments.

If you’d like to know more, please contact me, I’d love to help you out.

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Meal replacement shakes – your best option for weight loss and weight management

If there is one universal truth in the weight loss and weight management industry, it’s this: Nutrition is key.

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It doesn’t matter how hard you work out, how many hours you spend in the gym, or how many calories you burn at spin class, you won’t get the results you’re after without proper diet and nutrition.

Another truth: Nutrition is often the biggest struggle. Most of us don’t get enough fruits and veggies as it is. Never mind trying to do so when you’re cutting calories.

And when you’re cutting calories and not getting enough nutrients, good luck feeling full and satisfied. You’re going to feel hungry all the time. And then you start snacking blowing all of your efforts to hell.

If this sounds at all like you, meal replacement shakes might be exactly what you have been looking for.

They work for a lot of people.

Read on to learn the differences between meal replacement shakes and protein shakes, how meal replacement shakes compare to heart healthy diets for weight loss and weight management, and how to get the most out of meal replacement shakes.

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What’s the difference between meal replacement shakes and protein shakes?

The difference between the two is quite simple, but very important.

Protein shakes are formulated to supplement your protein intake. Meal replacement shakes are designed to replace entire meals.

Protein shakes contain little to no carbohydrates, fat, or other essential nutrients. They are also low in calories.

Meal replacement shakes, on the other hand, have a wide range of essential nutrients, are rich in proteins, and contain carbohydrates. They have everything you need to replace a meal.

For weight loss, meal replacement shakes outperform a regular “heart healthy” diet

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A study conducted in 2014 by Dr. Krista Varady of the University of Illinois at Chicago of Applied Sciences did a direct comparison of meal replacement shakes versus whole food. Each was combined with a dietary plan of caloric restriction and intermittent fasting. The results of the study were published in Journal Nutrition.

The study consisted of two phases. The first phase was a two-week maintenance period. The second was an eight-week weight loss period.

The results of the study were astounding.

The participants drinking the meal replacement shakes lost more body weight, more fat mass, and more visceral fat than the group that did not.

Meal replacement shakes also decreased a lot of factors associated with coronary heart disease. Low density lipoprotein (LDL) and total cholesterol levels went down. And so did heart rate, insulin, and homocysteine levels.

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The results of the study highlight a few things.

1) A quality meal replacement shake is essential

For optimal weight maintenance or weight loss you need a meal replacement shake that is going to give you everything you need.

That means the shake has:

If you’re skimping out on these things regularly you’re going to experience adverse health effects and you’ll constantly be hungry.

Some meal replacement shakes on the market are very high in sugar and use various mixtures of artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners.

You don’t want these ones.

Too much sugar can urge you to eat more because of rapid spikes and drops in blood sugar. It kind of defeats the purpose of using meal replacement shakes to lose weight or maintain weight in the first place.

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  • Good protein sources

High-quality proteins are highly digestible and contain all the essential amino acids your body needs to build and maintain muscle. This is critical, especially if you’re training and exercising.

2) There is no substitute for planning

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A major reason why the study conducted by Dr. Varady was such a success is because of the regimented dietary schedule.

Meal replacement shakes are part of the equation. Not the whole answer.

In this study, the shakes were used in combination with calorie restriction and intermittent fasting.

Both experimental groups consumed a calorie restricted diet for the first 6 days of the weight loss phase. On the 7th day, they fasted.

There are many ways to combine intermittent fasting and calorie restriction. This is just one. Contact me and I can tell you more.

3) Ease of use is huge

Meal replacement shakes work in part because of the convenience factor they are associated with. They fit really well into the fast-paced, busy lifestyles most of us have these days.

During the course of the study, Dr. Varady noticed many of the participants enjoyed the meal replacement supplements because of their convenience.

The prep is minimal, cleanup is virtually non-existent, and you can be confident knowing you’re supplying your body with everything that it needs while also cutting excess calories out of your diet.

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As Dr. Varady said, “If a diet is hard to do, people aren’t going to do it for very long.”

Conclusion

In a lot of cases, meal replacement shakes are healthy alternatives to satisfying your appetite with junk food. And they’re a lot better than skipping a meal altogether.

Whether your find yourself too busy to sit down and have a real lunch or you’re looking for a good weight loss solution, a meal replacement shake is a good option. You don’t have to worry about nutrients and caloric intake, you can just down a shake that will satiate your hunger and you know contains everything you need to fuel your body and help you get, or stay, lean.

Let me know what you think about meal replacement shakes in the comments.

If you’d like to know more, please contact me, I’d love to help you out.

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