Lifestyle and supplement hacks to boost mental performance

Your mental state has a huge impact on your performance. This holds true in life, in sport, and in your regular day-to-day workouts. Fortunately, your mind – much like any muscle in your body – can be trained.

Training your mind for success is just as important as any other facet of exercise physiology. If you’re not in an optimal mental state, your performance will suffer. If your performance suffers, you’re not going to see the results you want. It’s that simple.

This article is going give you a little bit of background about how psychology influences performance, then it will follow with some mental performance tips taken straight out of sport psychology and provide some information about a few natural ingredients that help boost mental performance.

How psychology influences performance

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Psychological research strongly suggests your mental state plays a vital role in performance – positively and negatively. Psychological factors that impact performance are things like stress, anxiety, and tension.

1) Stress

Stress is a physical, mental, or emotional demand that takes the body or mind out of its comfort zone. Stress operates on a continuum: no stress isn’t good (if there is no challenge you cannot grow and develop), some stress is good (every person has their own optimal amount of stress), and too much stress is bad (the circumstances become overwhelming and you cannot perform).

2) Anxiety

Anxiety is a disturbed state of mind that includes physical symptoms – such as trembling, twitching, feelings of fullness in the throat or chest, feeling jumpy – and emotional symptoms – restlessness, worrying, irritability, among many others.

Much like general stress, some anxiety is good since it helps sharpen the attention. Too much or too little anxiety, however, and your performance suffers.

3) Tension

Tension is the physical manifestation of the internal mental state. Tension can be created by too much stress and anxiety. If you’re conflicted, overstressed, or overanxious it is reflected in your appearance or behavior as some, or all, of your muscles are in a partially contracted state. You lose fluidity in your movements making everything much more difficult as muscles combat one another across your joints.

As mentioned, stress and anxiety exist on a continuum. Too much or too little hurts performance. Like Goldy Locks, you need just the right amount.

The next section will provide you with a few tips to optimize your mental state.

Tips for boosting mental performance

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1) Goal-setting

It’s easy to set goals that exacerbate stress, anxiety, and tension rather than optimize them. Goals that do this are lofty, vague, and unrealistic.

An example of a bad goal would be for me to say, “I want to cut 20% of my body fat.”

Yes, it may be attainable with a lot of hard work and dedication, but it sets me up for unnecessary mental anguish as it is just too much to work for all at one time.

Goals should be designed in small, achievable increments. A better goal would be for me to say, “I’m going to lose 1% body fat every week.”

Another important facet of goal-setting is breaking down the goal into a game plan. How exactly are you going to turn it into a reality? What are you going to do every day? What do you have to add? What do you have to sacrifice?

Goal-setting like this breaks down stress and anxiety into bite-size pieces and prevents them from becoming overwhelming. It also shifts your perspective to the process rather than the end goal, allowing you to build confidence as you work towards your ultimate end-point.

2) Routine

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Don’t underestimate the power of a good routine. Your brain finds comfort in the expected and the less brain-power you have to use thinking about what you are going to do next the more brain-power you’ll have to devote to your performance.

If you’re struggling to find the motivation to go to the gym, developing a routine where it’s the first thing you do in the morning when you wake up can make it much easier as it becomes habit.

You can also create associations between activities. Certain playlists, for example, can be played every time you’re getting ready for a workout. Things like this are simple and seem trivial, but they are powerful tools to create a mental state conducive of your best effort in whatever task you’re performing.

Lifestyle factors like these can help ease stress and anxiety, ensuring you have just the right amount to be at your best.

Natural ingredients that boost mental performance

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1) Caffeine

There’s a reason caffeine is possibly the most popular ergogenic aid of all time. Humans have been using it to feel more energized and alert for hundreds of years.

If you’re feeling low and need a pick-me-up, a cup of coffee can get you to the arousal state that will help you perform at your best.

It is possible to go too far, though. Too much caffeine can cause anxiety and too much anxiety has a negative impact on performance.

2) Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba, in its supplement form, is derived from the Ginkgo biloba tree. It’s thought to increase blood flow to the brain and is linked to improving cognitive functions like focus.

3) Rhodiola Rosea

Derived from the herb Rhodiola rosea, this supplement has been used in Chinese medicine for a long time to promote well-being and healthy brain function.

Rhodiola Rosea is thought to benefit brain function by maintaining mental processing through the reduction of fatigue.

Conclusion

Your mental game is vital to performance. And performance can really mean anything. It could be your job, chores at home, your workouts, or even athletic performance. Whatever the task may be, having the tools available to reduce or raise stress and anxiety to their optimal level will help you always be the best you.

Please like the article if you enjoyed reading and found it useful; contact me if you’d like more information about lifestyle techniques and supplements linked to mental performance; follow the blog; and follow Healthy Wheys on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

4 steps to improve your financial life

It doesn’t matter where you’re starting from – drowning in debt and struggling to make ends meet or sitting comfortably – you can improve your financial well-being.

Where do you want to be in five years? No, really. Take some time and think about it. What do you think it’s going to take to get there?

We all have dreams and goals but they’re often vague and ambiguous. Dreams of this nature often stay in the realm of fantasy because they lack the substance to transition them to the real world. The substance is the game plan.

You need a strategy: a well thought out plan that identifies where you are now, where you want to be in a finite amount of time, and how exactly you’re going to get there.

Here are four steps to take to better your financial self in five years.

Pay down your debt

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There are a number of ways to go about it efficiently and effectively.

  • Pay more than the minimum amount owed

Paying minimums on your credit cards, overdraft, or line of credit can really extend the life of your debt. Even an extra 50 bucks over the bare minimum payment helps and adds up over time.

  • Be frugal and disciplined

We all have eyes bigger than our paycheques. While it’s easy to get whatever you want (credit is a wonderful thing), being realistic and getting only things you can afford is a much different story.

Stay within your means to keep the trajectory of your debt heading in the right direction – down.

  • Go for the heavy hitters first and work your way down

Start with the debt that is charging you the most interest and focus all your efforts there. Pay the minimums on the others for the time being.

Once the big monster is out of the way, turn your efforts and resources to the next big guy on the list. Lather, rinse, repeat until you’re debt free.

  • Track your spending

Even if you think you’re pretty good with money, you never know until you collect the data and have an unbiased look at things. You’d be surprised how much money you waste. For some people, tracking spending and identifying frivolous areas that could be cut out is almost as effective, financially, as getting a second job.

  • Consider a consolidation loan

Your bank may be able to consolidate all your consumer debts into one loan with a lower interest rate. This can help turn an overwhelming situation into something much more manageable.

Start saving consistently

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Once you’re debt free, start putting money away. Financial experts will tell you to strive for at least six-months-worth of savings for emergencies or to be able to capitalize on investment opportunities if the situation should present itself.

The hard part here is discipline.

Invest long-term

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The first two steps alone are going to put you in a way better spot than you were when you first started out.

Where do you go now that you’ve got a little extra money in the bank and want to keep carrying the momentum forward?

Start thinking about a long-term investment portfolio.

Getting the right advisor will help you with the nuts and bolts of everything. Generally, building a portfolio is a two-stage process. First, you lay the foundation with a mix of investments that aligns with your investment goals and risk tolerance. Then, once the foundation is in place, you can select other investments with a little more freedom that may be slightly riskier, but potentially pay off more in the end.

Manage your cash flow

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This is a step in attaining disposable income, which I’ve written about before: here. The more effort you put into making your money from sources independent of the amount of time you have to put in to them, the more freedom you have.

Proper effort into this area of your life will ensure you’re financially independent long before retirement comes around.

Some common ways of creating disposable income are things like a personal business or real estate.

Things to keep in mind to ensure your plan works

With each of the steps outlined, be specific. Saying, “I will decrease my debt” or “I will start saving X-amount of dollars” isn’t good enough. Be specific, be precise. How much? When? How much every month? Week? Year?

If you’re going to sit down with a wealth manager or a financial advisor, having answers to these questions will help them get you exactly where you want to be. This gives you a good starting point for you and your advisor to really delve into your situation and examine it from every possible angle.

Be flexible with your expectations. Big time investors and some articles may lead you to think you need $2 million in the bank to be able to retire comfortably. That you need all kinds of stuff in place before you can even consider the possibility of not working.

But, everything is flexible. Being rich looks and takes different things depending on who you are and what you’re starting from. Figuring out what’s doable given your particular situation is what matters most. Stop listening to those other people and other advice and you’ll be able to move through your own life with less pressure, and less unrealistic expectations to fall short of.

Be disciplined. There’s no easier way to say this. There’s going to be tough spots, but a plan is only good if it’s enacted. This is what separates success and failure.

Conclusion

When it comes to wealth and planning, simple and detailed is best. Drop debt, save, invest wisely, and invest in yourself.

The general themes of good financial health haven’t changed much, because they work.

Thanks for reading again this week and be sure to like the article if you think it deserves it, follow the blog, check back each week for new content, and follow Healthy Wheys on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Have a great weekend!

 

 

Body composition: what it is, how to measure it yourself, and how to see it improve

Body composition is a term often confused with body fat percentage or body mass index (BMI). But, they’re completely different things.

Body fat percentage is your total mass of fat divided by your total body mass, times 100. If a 30-year-old man had 16.4 kilograms of fat and their total body mass was 82 kilograms, they would have a body fat percentage of 20%.

16.4kg/82kg x 100 = 20 (body fat percentage)

Body mass index is your body mass divided by the square of your body height. Using a man with the same body mass as our previous example, with a height of 1.85 meters, he would have a BMI of 23.95.

82kg/(1.85)2 = 23.95 (body mass index)

BMI can be misleading from a fitness standpoint – it’s a measurement great for looking at trends in populations, but it’s not so good when your looking at an individual alone.

It’s because of how BMI values are correlated with body weight status.

Underweight = <18.5

Normal weight = 18.5-24.9

Overweight = 25-29.9

Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater

Our example man has a body fat percentage of 20% (below average for his age), but, according to his BMI, he’s overweight.

If he’s a fit guy, his muscle mass could be pushing his BMI into that higher range. He’s not an unhealthy person. On the contrary, he’s fitter than average.

Body fat percentage also doesn’t paint the whole picture. A person can starve themselves to drop their body fat: it doesn’t mean they’re healthy.

Because of the shortcomings of body fat percentage and BMI a person looking to get fitter should be paying attention to their body composition, not those other two.

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Body composition

Body composition takes into account everything that your body is made of: it’s the percentage of fat, bone, water, and muscle in your body.

Fat can be anywhere from 10% (considered very lean) to 50% (morbidly obese), muscle makes up 30 to 50%, and bone is about 15%.

The rest is minor. The brain weighs a few pounds, skin is approximately six pounds, and blood is about 7% of body weight.

Do you need some complex machine or a specialist to measure your body composition?

No. You can do it yourself with a little practice and some commitment. It can all be done with a set of calipers (to measure your body fat), a scale, a measuring tape, the mirror, and your camera.

Step one: Weigh yourself daily

Weight fluctuate 5 to 10 pounds a day depending on water retention, glycogen storage, and bowel movements. To get an accurate representation of your weight, weigh yourself daily (at the same time of day) for 7 to 10 days and average it (add up every weight from the weighing period and divide it by the number of days you weighed yourself for).

Step two: Caliper measurements

Measure one site once a week and keep track of the measurement over time. There’s plenty of calipers out there to purchase and here’s a pretty instructive video telling you how to use them.

Again, just measure one site. And you don’t need to do the whole body fat percentage extrapolation. You just need the one measurement to track a difference in you body composition over time.

Step three: Waist measurements

Use a measuring tape at the level of the belly-button. It’s crude, but it’s a decently reliable indicator of fatness.

If your waist is shrinking over time, you’re losing fat. If it’s getting bigger, you’re gaining fat.

Step four: Take pictures

It seems unscientific, but they eye can be pretty accurate in detecting changes in body composition.

Take weekly pictures from the front, back, and side. Comparing how your body looks over time will tell you what’s changing and what’s not.

Now that you know why body composition is a better indicator of fitness than body fat percentage or BMI, and you know how to measure changes in body composition over time by yourself, what kind of changes should you be looking for?

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What kind of body composition changes to look for

Bone composition is quite constant between individuals (15% of total body mass). The two variables at your disposal to manipulate are body fat percentage and muscle percentage.

Here are the average ranges of those two variables for three different levels of fitness:

Average fitness:

Male

Body fat percentage: 17%

Skeletal muscle percentage: 47%

Female

Body fat percentage: 27%

Skeletal muscle percentage: 41%

Athletic fitness:

Male

Body fat percentage: 12%

Skeletal muscle percentage: 50%

Female

Body fat percentage: 21%

Skeletal muscle percentage: 44%

Exceptional fitness:

Male

Body fat percentage: 8%

Skeletal muscle percentage: 54%

Female

Body fat percentage: 14%

Skeletal muscle percentage: 49%

There’s a trend to note here: as fitness level increases, skeletal muscle percentage increases while body fat percentage decreases.

If you’re looking to improve your overall fitness level, strive for a change in the ratio of skeletal muscle percentage and body fat percentage.

Here’s what an improvement in this ratio could look like using the measurement guidelines we previously discussed.

If you’re overweight and have a high body fat percentage:

You’ll notice a decrease in your caliper measurements over time, a decrease in your waist measurement, and a decrease in body weight. Also, your pictures will look as if your body is becoming “tighter”.

If you’re overweight in the body fat percentage sense, not the BMI sense, more of your body weight is represented by body fat. Therefore, if you start to lose fat you’re going to be losing it in a disproportionate rate to the muscle you’re gaining from exercising and you’ll lose body weight.

If you’re already of average fitness or better with an average body fat percentage:

You’ll notice a decrease in your caliper measurements, a decrease in your waste measurement, but no decreased, and possibly an increase, in your body weight. Everything will begin to look more toned with your picture assessment.

If you’re already in good physical condition, you’ll lose fat at a rate equal to or slower than the rate at which you gain muscle. Muscle gain will stabilize your weight where it is or increase it.

Conclusion

Don’t get hung up on bodyweight, or BMI, or body fat percentage if you’re trying to get fitter. There’s much more to physical fitness than these tiny components.

Focus on your body composition. And now that you know how to do it by yourself, you can.

Let me know what you think of the article by liking it or commenting below. Follow Healthy Wheys on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and check back weekly for new articles.

Contact me using the information you’ll find on my contact page, I’d love to hear from you.

Have a great week!

 

10 financial management tips for the new small business owner

Financial literacy is a key skill for small business owners; it could be the one difference between a successful business venture or joining the whopping 80% of businesses who fail within the first 18-months of opening their doors.

A solid grasp on your business’s financial situation drastically improves your chances of long-term success – you’re better able to plan for the future and avoid many common financial management traps.

Despite it’s importance, it seems many entrepreneurs struggle to get a grasp on their finances.

In a study conducted in Canada, 46% of business owners rated their knowledge of financial management as “sufficient” or “less than sufficient”.

Here are some tips for managing your small business finances and increasing your financial literacy to give you and your business the best chance for success.

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  1. Education

This is the most direct approach to combating insufficient financial management knowledge that I’ll give to you.

Start with financial statements. They contain four essential details: cash flow, income statement, balance sheet, and a statement of shareholders’ equity.

Cash Flow: It analyzes operating activities, investments, and financial in/outflow.

Income Statement: It reflects revenue earned within a specific period of time.

Balance Sheet: Provides information related to the business’s assets.

Shareholder’s Equity: This is a statement representing the amount of common and preferred shares financing the business.

Financial statements are a good place to start to drastically increase your financial literacy. They tell you all about your money, where it originated from, how many times it changed hands, and where it is now – this is critical knowledge to have.

  1. Business is business, personal is personal

Draw a line and don’t cross it. Your business finances are one thing and your personal finances should always be separate.

Get a business credit card and a savings account dedicated to your business.

A business credit card serves two beneficial purposes: it gives you a place to put all business-related expenses and it allows you to easily track outlays and maintain control.

A savings account gives you a place to put a certain percentage of each payment from which you can easily pay your taxes from at the end of the year.

  1. Be frugal

Especially when you’re first starting out, you’re going to have to be a bit of a penny-pincher; just not at the expense of pissing off your customers.

While you can’t do much about your fixed costs, you can exercise some financial responsibility in terms of your variable costs – use free, cloud-based software versus expensive branded software; Skype for long distances, barter your services with other professionals, etc.

  1. Web-based accounting software

Managing all your bills and finances can be complicated and stressful. You have two options: contract an accountant or get tech savvy.

Web-based software has the ability and convenience of providing real-time insights into your finances.

In most cases, it’s also free or low-cost. A lot of successful entrepreneurs are heading this direction as spending even a little money on technology is more affordable than hiring a whole other person.

  1. Be on the ball

You are the business owner and, thus, solely responsible for your business. That means it’s up to you to keep track of when and where money is moving, monitor your financial performance compared to previous statements, and project how things are going to go in the future.

The world, and especially the business world, benefits the prepared. Taking the time to inform yourself of everything that is happening with your business is a must.

  1. Plan for the future

Being prepared means being ready for the tough times. We live in a volatile economy – one day everything is great and the next it seems there’s a global economic panic.

Have a risk strategy in place in case there is any turbulence in the business environment.

  1. Audit your supply-chain

This is where having a careful eye on your financial statements comes in handy. Look at where your money is changing hands and identify unnecessary middle-men that are driving up your costs. Cut them out if you can.

  1. Move from paper to devices

You’d be surprised how much you can save by deciding to go paperless (and it’s good for the environment too). Smartphones and tablets are efficient ways to circulate documents, efficiently file important paper work, and they also boost productivity.

Giving your employees and customers access to what they need instantaneously does wonders for your bottom-line.

  1. Get your money!

It’s insane how much money get’s lost due to slack invoicing. Send out invoices as soon as possible and stipulate that payment must be received within 7-days (this helps make sure payments aren’t lost or forgotten).

Also, don’t be squeamish when it comes to following up. You provided a service and you deserve to be paid.

  1. Exercise patience

Don’t go too big too fast. It’s easy to fall into this trap when things start to go well, but don’t make huge investments in professional sign writing, marketing materials, cars, office space, and the like before the actual revenue comes in.

Just because things are going well now doesn’t mean there won’t be an unexpected dip in the near future. Make sure you’re able to handle and survive it.

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Conclusion

As a small business owner, the odds of success are against you.

Being “in the know” financially can dramatically increase your odds of success. While it may seem overwhelming at the get go, starting with the content in this list and expanding your knowledge from there will get you to where you need to be.

If you like the article, check out some of my previous posts, follow the blog, and find Healthy Wheys on social media (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter).

If you’d like personal help with health and fitness or business, contact me! I’d love to hear from you and help you reach your goals.

 

 

 

5 natural ingredients that boost metabolism and burn fat

Metabolism: our body’s internal governor of how efficiently we burn calories and, by extension, unwanted fat.

Some are blessed with a fast metabolism (meaning as they sit still doing nothing they’re burning more calories than the average Joe) and some are cursed with a slow metabolism (sitting still they burn less calories than the average person). And metabolism slows down with age.

Though it may feel like it, fortunately, the deck isn’t stacked against you. Even if you’re past your early twenties and you have a slow metabolism to begin with, there are things you can do to give your metabolism a bump, which will boost your ability to burn fat.

Here are 5 natural ingredients that boost metabolism. In this article you’ll learn everything you need to know about what these ingredients are and how they do what they do.

Cayenne (Capsicum annuum)

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Cayenne pepper is a delicious spice used in many different cuisines – Creole, Asian, and Mexican, just to name a few.

While it is a great part of food and can easily be incorporated into your diet, those among us that don’t like the heat may prefer to use cayenne as a supplement instead (a much cooler way to get some of the same benefits).

One of the primary ingredients in cayenne pepper is capsaicin. It’s this component of cayenne Dr. David Heber, a researcher and physician at the University of California Los Angeles Center for Human Nutrition, found encourages your body to use more fat as fuel.

In addition to upping your body’s fat burning ability, capsaicin generally increases energy expenditure.

Capsaicin potentially does both of these things by increasing catecholamine (the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine) secretion from the adrenal medulla.

Green tea (Camellia sinensis)

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Arguably, one of the healthiest things to drink on the planet; it improves brain function, fat loss, and lowers the risk of cancer. All that and it gives you that little pick me up only caffeine can supply.

Why does it have so many benefits?

Because green tea and its extracts are chalked full of nutrients and antioxidants, one of these being Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) – a substance that has been shown to boost metabolism.

EGCG boosts metabolism by inhibiting an enzyme that breaks down the catecholamine norepinephrine. Because it prevents its breakdown, norepinephrine is active longer, increasing the length of time that it’s effective. This simultaneously increases its activity and its circulating levels.

The downstream effect of all this is: fat cells break down more fat, which is released into the bloodstream and used as energy by cells.

Cocoa (Theobroma cacao)

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Cocoa is most commonly found in chocolate.

How is it listed in a post describing natural ingredients that can help weight loss and boost metabolism? Because in isolation it has those properties. Cramming a bar of dark chocolate with the justification that you’re “burning fat” won’t cut it here. Everything else in the chocolate is probably going to undermine you fat-burning goals with this approach.

To talk about cocoa more specifically, it is a mild stimulant and diuretic (means it increases the amount of water and salt expelled from the body); it can also improve insulin sensitivity and elevate mood.

Cocoa influences weight loss by mimicking some of the stimulating properties of its brother caffeine (Theobroma cacao and caffeine have a similar chemical structure allowing them to have some effects on the same receptors). Stimulants increase metabolism.

Because cocoa is also a diuretic, it will increase weight loss by losing water.

Cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum aromaticum)

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Cassia cinnamon, also known as Chinese cinnamon. In 2012, a study published in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine showed cinnamon supplementation in diabetic patients was able to significantly improve blood sugar and triglyceride levels after eight weeks. The patients also experienced weight loss.

Improved blood sugar levels are most likely due to improved insulin sensitivity, which has also been observed as a result of cinnamon supplementation.

Glucose, or sugar, is too big of a molecule to pass through the cell membrane. If it can’t get over the cell membrane it can’t get into cells and get broken down for energy. So, it just sits in the blood stream. Glucose in excess in the blood stream is assumed by the body to not be needed by cells for energy and some of it is converted to fat and stored.

Glucose needs the help of the hormone, insulin, to transport it across cell membranes and into cells.

Cinnamon appears to be able to increase insulin sensitivity – this means cells are more responsive to the hormone and get glucose into the cell more efficiently.

Less glucose lying around in the blood stream means less is converted to fat for storage.

Piperine (Piper nigrum)

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Also known by a much simpler name, black pepper. It’s one of the most common spices used worldwide and has been used as a traditional medicine for ages.

Black pepper may be able to boost metabolism by increasing lipid (fat) breakdown. It’s known as a thermogenic food, which means it speeds up metabolism and increases calorie expenditure by stimulating the production of heat in the body.

It’s through these thermogenic properties that black pepper is thought to enhance lipid metabolism and its breakdown.

Conclusion

Metabolism can be your enemy, but it can also be your closest ally. Some are blessed with a naturally fast one, and others have to work a little harder in other areas of their life to make up for an inherited deficit.

Whatever the case, diet is one way metabolism can be altered. I’ve outlined 5 ingredients that have been shown to boos metabolism in some way. If you do your research, you can find all these ingredients in one place and in one supplement. Contact me and I’ll tell you a little more about your options.

Be sure to like this post and follow the blog for weekly articles and follow Healthy Wheys on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter).

3 financial New Year’s resolutions and 6 steps to turn them into reality

The holidays are now in our rear-view mirror as the new year is upon us. Naturally, many people are feeling self-reflective and are re-evaluating some of their life choices – maybe it has a little bit to do with that smoking credit card burning a hole in your wallet from all the holiday spending.
Luckily, 2018 is a brand-new year; it’s a chance to start anew and curb some of your less desirable habits. This week I’m talking about your finances.

You see, most people know they have financial issues they’d like to remedy, but a lot of us don’t exactly know where to start. And since the vast majority of people fail to stick to their resolutions, you’ll need all the help you can get.

What I have for you in this article is a list of financial New Year’s resolutions you should make this year, followed by a cheat sheet that will help you follow through. The content in this article should give your all the ammunition you need to make 2018 a better financial year than 2017.

Here’s to a prosperous 2018!


What kind of goals should you make?

1) Decrease your debt

According to the Globe and Mail, the average amount of consumer debt – does not include a mortgage – in Canada is $20,967 and non-consumer debt, which does include your mortgage, makes up 163% of disposable income. In the US the average debt per indebted household is more than $131,000 (NerWallet analysis). With this data in mind, paying off high-interest consumer debt – credit cards and personal loans – should be a top priority.

2) Spend less

78% of people live paycheck to paycheck (Career Builder), and, according to the same report, this includes 1 in 10 making $100,000 or more. Some of this can be blamed on an inflated cost of living without a matching increase in income. But, based on the consumption of consumer goods and surmounting consumer debt, some can also be explained with frivolous spending. 2018 is your year to tighten up the purse strings and cut back.
3) Earn more

What’s your passion? Maybe starting your own business and working for yourself has been at the back of your mind for years – start now!

The best way to eventually become your own boss, while also supplementing your current income: a side hustle. With a side hustle you can get involved in something your truly passionate about and build your self-employed income while you still have the safety and security of your day job.
There’s plenty of opportunities out there (I’ve even talked about multilevel marketing on this website). For more ideas, check out this list by Side Hustle Nation: 99 side hustle business ideas you can start today.

How do you make your goals a reality?
Identifying what you need to do is great, but the more important part? The how. How do you turn a simple goal into a reality? With these 6 steps.

1) Define a clear goal

Be clear; be concise; be specific. It’s not good enough to say, “I want to decrease my debt,” instead, you should say, “My credit card right now is at $5000, I want that to be $0.”

2) Turn a negative into a positive

It’s a little trick from Dr. Will Meek, a psychologist in Vancouver, Washington. By wording the goal as a positive, you prevent your brain from thinking it’s giving something up. For instance, saying, “I’m going to spend less by not spending money on frivolous things,” could be replaced by, “I’m only going to spend money on things I truly value.”

3) Focus!

Do less. Everyone comes into the new year thinking they will be able to completely overhaul everything in their lives; wrong! If you really want to make successful change, focus on one to three things that are really important.
This way you don’t spread yourself too thin and you have the energy to commit to ensure your success.

4) Track your progress

Luckily, most financial goals are measurable because they involve numbers – nothing could be simpler. Because your goals are measurable, you can track your progress and define landmarks: this is essential for maintaining motivation.
Our goal was reducing our credit card from $5000 down to $0. We can break this down into 10 $500-dollar payments over the year, turning a mountain into a mole hill. Plus, we get the added satisfaction of watching ourselves make our goal a reality in real time as the balance decreases.

5) Make sure it’s realistic

This kind of goes hand-in-hand with not trying to do too much all at once. Telling yourself you’re going to pay off the mortgage on the house you just bought last year in 2018 is just setting yourself up for failure.

6) Give it a timeframe

This means they have a deadline. Again, going back to our credit card example: We have 10 $500-dollar payments to reach our goal of reducing the balance on our credit card to zero. If we do one a month we could have it all paid down by October (write this down and make it a hard deadline for yourself).

Conclusion
Stick to this list and you stand a much better chance of succeeding in making your financial goals a reality and avoiding the majority of people whose New Year’s resolutions are just that: resolutions.
One last thing: when you’ve accomplished your financial resolution for 2018, give yourself a reward! You’ve earned it.
Let me know about your resolutions in the comments, and if you’d like some more advice, please contact me; I’d love to hear from you.

And be sure to follow the blog and Healthy Wheys on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

10 goals you need in the new year to make some lean muscle gains

January: the time of year when one in every three people aim to better their nutrition and fitness in some way.

According to a study done in 2002, approximately 75% of people will stick to their goals for at least a week; by six months, however, less than half are still on target.

I’d be willing to wager the majority of people, those that fall off the wagon by six months at least, fail because they don’t set good goals: their goals don’t involve coming up with a strategy or game-plan of any sort.

With a lofty resolution, you’re never going to get where you want to go unless you sit down and come up with some actionable steps – goals that ensure you’re going in the right direction.

This article is for people who have made it their New Year’s resolution to gain lean muscle.

I’m going to help you make some dynamite goals – both exercise and nutritional – that will help you make those lean muscle gains you’ve always wanted a reality in 2018. These are simple, actionable, attainable steps that will keep you out of the 46% that don’t realize their New Year’s resolution by six months into the new year.

Exercise

Goal 1: Weight train 4-5 times per week.

To gain lean muscle mass, increase your lifting frequency to four or five times a week. Yes, the sessions will need to be shorter (you need to give your body adequate time for recovery), but the increased training stimulus is essential.

Goal 2: Add four weeks of muscle endurance and muscle strength training into your routine

The general rule of thumb for hypertrophy (aka increase muscle size) workouts is eight to twelve reps per exercise.

While this is true, your body craves, and will positively respond to, variety. So, mix in 4 weeks of muscle endurance (twenty to thirty rep sets per exercise) and 4 weeks of muscle strength (four to six rep sets per exercise).

Goal 3: Concentrate on compound movements

Compound movements are those that involve two or more joints – squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, pullups… you get the idea. These should make up the bulk of your workout.

Goal 4: Isolation

While compound movements are making up the bulk of your workout, isolated movements make up the remainder.

The ying to the yang of compound movements, isolation movements involve one joint – bicep curls, calf raises, etc.

Goal 5: Shoot for adequate recovery

Of course, the time you spend in the gym is responsible stimulating a training effect, but it’s your time away from the gym when repair and growth happens.

Maximize this phase of your daily training cycle by ensuring you get the proper nutrition, you’re getting enough sleep, and you’re reducing outside stress as much as possible; these factors play more of a role in gaining lean muscle than most people give them credit for.

Goal 6: Give your program a chance

Mixing up your training every so often is important – as I mentioned in Goal 2 – but, it’s also important to stick with a program long enough to see some changes.

Allow your body enough time to improve its strength and efficiency to similar movement patterns (at least four weeks) before changing to a different type of training.

Nutrition

Proper training goals are fifty percent of the battle when it comes to gaining lean muscle; the other fifty percent is nutrition.

A lot of times when people think of eating to gain lean muscle mass they think of eating fat-free. In actuality, though, a balanced diet (full of protein, carbohydrates, and fat) is what you need to create lean muscle.

Here are five nutritional goals to keep in mind in the new year.

Goal 1: Eat enough carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are a critical component of your diet when you’re looking to gain lean muscle, and it’s because carbohydrates are protein sparing.

How much is enough depends on your metabolism and the intensity of your training: too much and you’ll gain fat, not enough and you won’t have enough of a calorie surplus to gain any lean mass. The National Strength and Conditioning Association – a worldwide leader in strength and conditioning research – recommends approximately 1 gram of carbohydrate for every 1 kilogram of body weight.

Goal 2: Eat your carbohydrates at the right time

To maximize the protein sparing and anabolic effects of carbohydrates, they should primarily be consumed at three points in the day: when you wake up (because you haven’t eaten for an extended period of time and your cortisol levels are high), about an hour to an hour and a half before you workout, and after you workout (this causes insulin levels to spike, pulling amino acids out of the blood and getting them to the muscle tissue where they’re needed).

Goal 3: Make the glycemic index your best friend

The glycemic index is a number associated with carbohydrates in a particular type of food; it indicates the effects the carbohydrates are going to have on your blood glucose levels.

Foods with a low number on the glycemic index are generally of the fibrous sort – whole wheat bread, oatmeal, etc. Carbohydrates high on the index are your “fast sugars” – soda, fruit juices, fruit, fat free yogurt, etc.

In the morning and pre-workout you want foods that are low on the glycemic index – choices that aren’t going to cause spikes in your blood sugar levels; post- workout, on the other hand, go for high glycemic index foods.

Post-workout insulin spikes from “fast sugars” draw amino acids out of the blood and deliver them to muscle tissue: something you definitely want.

Goal 4: Eat enough fats

A diet with an adequate amount of fat in it has many benefits for your general health; moreover, a study in the Journal of Applied Physiologyhas shown a diet high in fat can benefit your training by elevating serum levels of testosterone – an anabolic hormone that promotes muscle building. Fat can also ensure cortisol – a stress-associated hormone that breaks down muscle – doesn’t completely evaporate your testosterone.

To make sure you have enough in your diet buy some peanut butter, eat your chicken breasts or turkey with oil and vinegar for flavor, and supplement with Omega 3 or eat fish at least twice a week.

Fat intake for someone training heavily should range between 20-35% of your total daily calories, and the majority should be poly- and mono-unsaturated (these two types are never solid at room temperature).

Conclusion

There are ten goals (6 exercise and 4 nutritional) that you should incorporate into you New Year’s resolution if you want to increase your lean muscle mass and make some real gains in 2018. These are simple, every day, actionable items backed by solid research.

Let me know what you think and whether these dietary and exercise tips work 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.