Your Ad Here

How to Tone Up with Back Extensions

During exercises like yoga, running, swimming, cycling, or weight lifting, the abs work with the obliques and lower back to keep your body stable. And even though a flat stomach may be on your mind since it's almost bathing suit season, it's important to think about the 360 degree view.

"The lower back is part of the core too," says Kate Brown, ISSA CFT for "Don't get so concerned with having flat abs that you forget aboutworking on your back side as well."

To get a strong lower back, use a piece of equipment in your gym that allows you to secure your feet while bending forward at a 90 degree angle. Most gyms have at least one of these. "The back extension is a great exercise to strengthen the lower back. This exercise is performed either just by using body weight, or you can add weights to increase resistance," says Brown.

Brown notes that without a strong lower back, you risk getting an injury as you increase training volume and intensity. This move can also help tone your butt as it builds up the muscles along your spine.


Starting Position
• Secure your heels behind a back extension machine.
• Lean forward toward the ground, facing the ground.

Upward Movement
• Start the movement by crossing your arms over your chest, contract your lower back and raise to be parallel with your legs.
• Your body should be straight at the top of the movement.

Downward Movement
• Slowly release your back and lower yourself to starting position.
• This move resembles a backward crunch—you are contracting your lower back toward the ceiling instead of your abs.

• Complete 15 reps to start. To make this move more difficult, increase reps, or hug a 5 or 10 lb weight to your chest with your hands.

This move is more about function than form. You won't see a difference in your lower back unless you are losing fat to reveal muscles all over, but you will feel a difference. Without a strong lower back, you cannot perform other exercises efficiently or correctly.

5 Exercises to Score a Celeb Bikini Body

Consider this your build-it-yourself workout plan. Here, five areas on the fittest stars we love and the moves for you to tone up and slim down.

You Want: Cameron Diaz's Arms

There's no question Cameron Diaz puts in some serious time at the gym to get her arms in G.I. Jane shape, and with these moves you'll be one step closer to a sculpted pair of your very ownTricep Dips:

Start by lying on your back. Bending your knees, place your feet about a foot away from your butt, heels down; toes pointed up. Place your hands flat behind you, fingertips pointing towards your back, elbows tucked against your sides. Bend your arms and lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Your hips should drop straight toward the ground, but try not to let your butt sit on the floor.) Hold for a beat, then push up through your palms to straighten your arms and repeat.

You Want: Gisele Bundchen's Abs

The secret to Gisele Bündchen's abs is a mix of both diet and exercise. Eating three cupcakes a day won't whittle your waistline like hers, but pair a healthy diet with these moves and you'll be showing off your six-pack all summer long.

The Plank:

Get into a push-up position with your forearms on the floor. Lift your legs and torso up off the ground so that only your toes and the flats of your forearms remain on the floor. Keeping your back neutral and your belly button pulled in, hold this position. Your body should be in a straight line—keep your gaze on the floor (so you don't put stress on your neck) and remember to take deep breaths.

You Want: Halle Berry's Shoulders

Halle Berry has one of the most famous décolletages on the red carpet. Tone up your chest and shoulders with the moves below.

Chest Flies:

Lie on your back with knees, feet flat on the floor. Hold dumbbells over your chest, with your palms facing each other. With a slight bend in your elbows, slowly lower your arms out to your side, but don't let your elbows touch the floor. Squeeze your chest to bring your arms back to start.

You Want: Jennifer Aniston's Legs

Jennifer Aniston's gams have been buzzed about for years (and with good reason). Try one of these moves to lean up your legs.


Stand with feet no more than shoulder-width apart and your hands out in front of you, lightly cupped. Make sure that your toes point forward. Bending your knees, lower your body and sink into your heels as if you were sitting back into a chair, and keep your chest high. Push through your heels until you are standing up straight. Keep your abs tight throughout. Repeat.

You Want: Jennifer Lopez's Butt

When it comes to rears, Jennifer Lopez's behind is ahead of the rest. These moves will have your tush looking perkier before you know it.

Lifting Crunch:

Lie on your back with knees bent, feet slightly apart, arms down at your sides. Squeeze glutes together and tighten your abdominals. Continue to squeeze glutes as you raise your pelvis toward the ceiling, lifting as high as you can. Hold for three counts. Keeping glutes tight, slowly lower your pelvis down to the floor, starting with your midback and ending with your tailbone.

Parents: Beware of forbidden food

We want what's best for our kids, therefore we want them to eat well, but what's the best way to influence our kids' eating habits?

I believe in the importance of good parental role-modeling regarding food choices; We have to watch what and how we eat not only for our own well-being, but because our kids are watching!

I also believe that we as parents have the right and the duty to decide what goes into our pantry and on our table.

But when it comes to the issue of control over kids' food intake it gets a little more complicated. Well-meaning parents, consciously or not, often participate in some form of pressure or restriction to further reinforce what they see as good eating habits.

I devoted a previous post to the issue of pressuring kids to eat healthy — pressure includes common practices, such as prizes and coercion tactics — not cruel torture. I concluded that pressure is counterproductive, and is more likely to lead to decreased consumption of the target food (aside from fostering an overall unpleasant experience).

But what about restricting foods you perceive as unhealthy? Could prohibiting certain unhealthy foods from kids benefit their diet?

I'm sure most of you already have an opinion about the wisdom and fairness of such tactics, but I pulled out a few studies to see if we can look at this topic in a more evidence-based way before we get to that.

There are several studies showing a correlation between parents' restrictions on food and overweight and obesity; the more restrictions on food intake the higher the body-weight. In these studies one can argue that parents restricted food because the kid was getting chubby, and not the other way round. That's why I'll discuss two studies that actually perform an experiment, and don't just look at associated findings. Both studies were lead by Esther Jansen, a clinical psychology researcher and both were published in the research journal Appetite.

In the first study, 74 kids aged 5-6 years were recruited from six elementary schools in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. The researchers set out to test whether prohibiting snack foods elevates their desirability and consumption. The snack food was M&M's of the red and yellow variety, and crisps (chips in American), also in red and yellow. The snacks did not differ in taste, only in color (yeah, that red doesn't come from strawberries or cherries; it's just color).

The kids were randomly assigned to either a prohibition group, or a no-prohibition (control) group. Each kid was tested individually and answered questions about taste, satiety and desirability of the snacks. 

Four bowls were filled with measured amounts of the snacks.In the first phase of the experiment, the kids were left alone with the four bowls for five minutes, in which the prohibition group was instructed not to eat red snacks, and the control group kids could eat whatever they wanted. The bowls were then taken away and measured. The level of desire for the snacks was assessed between the two phases of the tasting experience. In the second phase, both groups of kids had five minutes in privacy in which they could eat whatever they wanted from the four replaced and measured bowls of snacks.

The desire to eat the forbidden red snack increased after the prohibition even though this prohibition lasted only five minutes. Kids that were forbidden the red snack also ate relatively more of it in the second phase once they could.

This raised an interesting possibility: If restriction creates desirability, can restriction be used for positive purposes? Can we make healthy foods more attractive by forbidding them?

That's exactly what the researchers set out to test in the second experiment. Seventy kids, aged 5-7 years were divided into three groups. This experiment followed much the same protocol of the previous one, but the four foods tested this time were pineapple pieces, banana slices, M&Ms and fruitgums. In the first phase, one group was prohibited to eat from the two fruit bowls, the second group was prohibited to eat from the two candy bowls, and the control group could eat whatever they wanted. In the second phase, all kids could eat whatever they pleased.

And the results? Kids in both the fruit-banned group and the candy-banned group ate more of the forbidden food during the second phase of the experiment. What's more, total food intake (and total calorie intake) was higher in the two prohibition groups compared to the controls, proving that prohibition indeed results in higher intake, not only of tempting unhealthy food, but also of food kids usually don't crave and fight over.

These studies support previous research showing that strict restrictions of foods lead to unintended consequences (many argue that The Prohibition in the twenties and early thirties increased drinking—or at least binge drinking—proving the same point).

What's a parent to do? As with many other issues of effective parenting, I think what we're all looking for is the middle ground between too much freedom, which isn't a good thing for a kid, and to much control, which usually backfires, leads to rebellion, and I personally feel isn't really fair!

A few suggestions I follow (none too strictly):

• Strive to make your home a sanctuary of nothing but healthy wholesome foods (by my definition that does include quality desserts in moderation).

• Try to provide as many of the meals your family eats.

• Don't worry about imposing your rules out of home. I don't dwell too much on what my kids eat at other people's home or about the snacks they're served at parties and sports events. Kids should know what their parents think, but then use their own judgment. I see with satisfaction that my kids often dismiss the typical after-soccer snacks and choose healthier options out of home, too.

• Provide an explanation for your objection to foods you think aren't good to eat.

• Make healthy eating so pleasurable and tasty that it would be self-evident that anyone would prefer it over fast food and junk food. It actually isn't that hard to do. If kids get accustomed to the great taste of quality real food, junk food will look more and more like the cheap imitation it really is.

And no, I definitely don't think we should prohibit healthy foods so that kids will desire them more: I'm against tricking kids.

Kids will need to eventually build up their own self-control. Empowering them with the knowledge and tools to do so isn't easy, but providing the control from the outside isn't the solution either.

Please share your experience, opinion and advice.

Dr. Ayala

The Terrible Ten: The Villains within Your Favorite Foods...Part 1

Label literacy is key these days, as we learn more and more about how commonly used ingredients can jeopardize our health.

On the one hand, it's depressing that big food companies don't have our best interests in mind—their goals have to do with extending shelf life, boosting appeal with gaudy colors, and increasing their profit margins.

On the other hand, knowledge is power! Steering clear of toxic ingredients isn't just logical—it also protects your family members and sends a message to mega food companies that individual consumers are educated enough to reject their products for something more wholesome--and they need to clean up their act.

Feel overwhelmed? We've made it easy to shop safely and toxin-proof your pantry by listing the ten diciest ingredients hiding in your favorite foods.  

As we say at, foods should heal, not harm. Otherwise, every time you take a bite, you're complicit in a toxic relationship. And I bet your mama didn't raise you for that!


WHAT IT IS: an amino acid used as a flavor enhancer in processed foods (one of the most common food additives).

WHY IT'S BAD: It's known as an excitotoxin, which is a neurotoxic chemical additive shown to harm nerve cells— overexciting them to the point of cell death. Regularly consuming excitotoxins like MSG destroys significant numbers of brain cells and can lead to serious health problems, including neurological disorders. (The two other common excitotoxins used in food are aspartic acid (found in aspartame) and l-cysteine,which is used as a dough conditioner.) In addition, regular consumption of MSG has been shown to stimulate the appetite and contribute to weight gain and obesity.

 MSG goes by several aliases, such as Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Hydrolyzed Plant Protein, Vegetable Protein Extract, Yeast Extract, Glutamate, Glutamic Acid, Sodium Caseinate, Textured Protein, Soy Protein Isolates, Barley Malt, Calcium Caseinate and Malt Extract.

 processed foods like salad dressings, low-fat yogurt, canned meats, frozen entrees, potato chips, canned soups (including Campbell's Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup), and flavored crackers (like Wheat Thins, Cheez-Its and Triscuits).


 an artificial sweetener.

 Like MSG, aspartame is a known excitotoxin. It is believed to be carcinogenic, and produces neurotoxic effects such as headaches, dizziness, blurry vision, and gastrointestinal disturbances.

Aspartame contains 10-percent methanolwhich has been shown to be released in the body and further broken down by the body into the toxic by-products formic acid and formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is considered to be a potent nerve toxin and carcinogen, which may explain why aspartame accounts for more reports to the FDA of adverse reactions than all other foods and food additives combined.

 NutraSweet, Equal, Canderel, Spoonful, Natrataste, AminoSweet, and more.

 over 6,000 products, including diet and sugar-free sodas and drinks, sugar-free chewing gum, yogurt, breath mints, instant breakfasts, frozen desserts, juice beverages, and gelatins.

AVOID ITS PALS: Splenda (Sucralose), Sweet 'n' Low (saccharine)


WHAT IT IS: a highly refined artificial sweetener in which corn starch is separated from the corn kernel. The corn starch is then converted into corn syrup through a process called acid hydrolysis. 

WHY IT'S BAD: Nearly all corn syrup is made from genetically modified corn. It is the number-one source of calories in the United States, and has been shown to contribute to weight gain and the development of diabetes. Fructose is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease, arthritis, insulin resistance, and elevated triglycerides and LDL. In 2009, the Environmental Health Journal reported that a study conducted by theInstitute for Agriculture and Trade Policy found mercury in 9 of 20 samples of commercial HFCS. The HFCS came from 3 different manufacturers including recognizable brands such as Quaker, Hunts, Kraft, Yoplait, Nutri-Grain, and Smuckers. Mercury is a heavy metal and is considered a potent brain toxin. The use ofmercury-contaminated caustic soda in the production of HFCS is common.

AKA: Corn Sugar, glucose-fructose syrup, glucose/fructose, high-fructose maize syrup

IT'S FOUND IN: soda, salad dressings, breads, cereals, yogurt, soups, lunch meats, pizza sauce and condiments. On average, Americans consume 12 teaspoons a day.


WHAT IT IS: a highly processed sweetener that is derived from the desert agave plant. Most agave sold in the United States comes from Mexico.

WHY IT'S BAD:  Agave nectar contains the highest amount of fructose (55-97 percent) among all the commercial sweeteners, including HFCS. By way of example, HFCS averages 55 percent fructose. Fructose has been shown to increase insulin resistance. It is mainly broken down in the liver and then converted to fat. Excessive fructose, when consumed in quantities greater than 25 grams a day, has been shown to elevate uric acid levels, which causes chronic, low level inflammation. Excessive fructose can also lead to weight gain, elevated blood sugar, triglycerides and blood pressure.

AKA:  Agave Syrup

 ice cream, to energy bars and cereals, ketchup and other sauces. Agave is also sold as a stand-alone sweetener.



 If your food isn't naturally colorful, these additives tint them much like dyes color clothing.

 Artificial food dyes were synthesized originally from coal tar and now petroleum. They have long been controversial, and are one of the most widely used additives. Many dyes have been banned because of their adverse effects on laboratory animals. Studies have confirmed that nine currently approved dyes raise health concerns.

  According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest's (CSPI) study on food dyes, "The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens.  Another dye, Red 3, has been acknowledged for years by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen, yet it is still in the food supply." CPSI further revealed that nine of the food dyes currently approved for use in the United States are linked to health issues ranging from cancer and hyperactivity to allergy-like reactions.

  A large-scale British government study (published in the UK medical journal the Lancet in 2007) found that a variety of common food dyes and the preservative sodium benzoate increased hyperactivity and decreased the attention spans of children. These additives were shown to affect not only children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but also children with no prior history of behavior problems.

The European Union has put labeling regulations in place to inform consumers of the health risks, but the United States has failed to follow suit.

AKA: To name a few: Caramel color, FD&C Blue #1, Brilliant Blue FCF, Bright blue, Blue # 2, Ingtotine, Royal Blue, Red Number 3, Erythrosine, FD&C Red No.40, Allura Red AC, Yellow 5 and 6, FD&C Green Number 3, Fast Green, Sea Green.

IT'S FOUND IN: beverages, candy, baked goods, cereal, energy bars, puddings, jams, bread, macaroni and cheese, deli meat,  frostings, condiments, fast food, ice cream, sherbet, sorbet…even meat and fish. And that's just for starters.

In our next post, we'll share ingredient villains 6-10, as well as ways to sidestep these substances and buy (or make) healthful, satisfying alternatives. Until then, stay healthy!

Prevention’s Quick Fix: 11 Ways to prevent a scar

If you're made of flesh and blood, you've got a scar. Some are bigger than others; some may be reminders of major life events (think C-section); others, more mundane mishaps (the time you fell off your bike in 4th grade). But you can keep the addition of news ones to a minimum with these expert tips:

1) Thoroughly clean the wound. A wound that heals quickly and neatly is less likely to develop a scar than one that festers. Make sure all of your cuts and scrapes are properly cleaned, says Jeffrey H. Binstock, MD.

Get easy home cures for everyday bumps and bruises

It's critical to remove dirt and debris that may impede healing or become visible through the skin as a "road tattoo." If particles remain in the wound after washing, use tweezers cleaned with alcohol to remove them.

2) But skip the hydrogen peroxide. It destroys white blood cells that help repair wounds and actually slows healing. Plus, it extends the time that the wound is open and vulnerable. Also not helpful: soap and rubbing alcohol, which can be irritating. Instead, rinse the cut with clear, warm water and a gentle soap, if necessary, even though it might sting.

3) Keep it moist and covered. Moisture prevents a hard scab from forming, which slows development of new tissue. Plus, cells regenerate faster in a moist environment, so leaving a cut open to the air may promote scarring. Cover your wound with plain petroleum jelly to keep it moist, then slap on an adhesive bandage. Research shows that keeping wounds bandaged speeds healing by as much as 50%.

Get dozens of ways to keep skin gorgeous

4) But consider skipping the ointment. "Neosporin and other ointments are virtually useless," says Dr. Imber. "They don't penetrate or allow the daily washing needed to keep the wound clean."

5) Don't pick. Mom was right. Picking a scab off a healing wound could increase the chances of leaving a scar, says John F. Romano, MD.

6) Close gaps with a butterfly bandage. You should see a doctor for stitches if you get a large cut, particularly on the face, where a scar would be most visible. But if you're concerned about scarring from even a small cut, consider using a butterfly bandage, says Dr. Romano. These bandages, available at most drugstores, help keep wounds closed for better healing and minimal scarring. Use one only after the wound has been thoroughly cleaned.

7) Eat a well-balanced diet. Wounds won't heal right unless your body gets what it needs for proper healing. What does it take? Protein and vitamins—obtained from a healthy, well-balanced diet—are essential. Of particular importance for wound healing is the mineral zinc, which is found in good amounts in roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, Swiss and Cheddar cheese, peanuts, dark-meat turkey, and lean beef.

25 Ridiculously healthy foods

8) Get moving. Exercise can speed the healing process by as much as 25%. Ohio State University researchers gave 28 sedentary men and women each a small puncture wound. (How'd they get people to volunteer for that?) The researchers then asked half of the people to exercise on a treadmill, ride a stationary bike, or strength-train for an hour 3 times a week for 3 months, while the other half stayed sedentary. After 3 months, the wounds of the active people healed an average of 10 days faster (in 29 days versus 39) than those of the couch potatoes.

The researchers suggest that exercise increases circulation and helps regulate the immune system and hormones that influence the healing process. They believe that exercise may even help wound healing in people who are traditionally slow to heal, such as those with diabetes. Is there nothing exercise can't do?

Free plans that strip fat and inches

9) Manage your anger. Inability to control strong emotions can slow recovery from an injury, so try to keep your cool. OSU scientists gave 100 volunteers identical blisters on their forearms. The hot-tempered subjects took 4 times longer to heal than their calmer peers. The researchers think that increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol can suppress the immune system.

Why you need to rethink your stress solutions

10) Cover scars with sunblock. Scars have less pigment than the rest of your skin. This means they lack the ability to develop a protective tan and are especially vulnerable to sunburn. Cover all scars with a strong sunscreen whenever you head outside.

Also, UV rays slow healing by interfering with new collagen production. Always protect healed wounds with a broad-spectrum SPF 15 or higher sunscreen. It's a myth that scars blend better into surrounding skin after sun exposure. The contrast of a tan may actually make the scar more visible.

Sunscreen excuses that age you

11) Level out. After your scar has healed, OTC treatment, such as ScarGuard Scar Care or Curad Scar Therapy Clear Pads, may help level raised areas. You can buy these products at drugstores.

What home remedy do you always have on hand?

Countess LuAnn’s Top 10 Tips

luAnn de Lesseps

luAnn de Lesseps

Just in case you're invited to the next royal wedding, meet a celeb, or bump into a duke on the street! Hey, you never know! -Countess LuAnn de Lesseps,

Countess Luann, star of Bravo's The Real Housewives of New York, author and singer, knows firsthand the money can't buy you class and that elegance is learned. Here are her Top Ten Class Tips that will make the world a more civil and happier place.

 1. Don't take yourself too seriously!

People are usually too concerned with their own shortcomings to take notice of yours. So accentuate the positive about yourself and do not focus on the negative.

2. Never stop learning.

Being interested is what makes you interesting. Find your passions and stay curious. When you try new things you will meet new people and discover more about yourself. You will have more energy and purpose when you take chances and try new things.

3. Be charitable and give to others.

Compassion is sexy and generosity is a huge part of elegance. So give what you can, when you can.

4. Beauty comes from within.

When you feel good inside, you will glow on the outside. So eat healthy, nutritious foods, get enough sleep and exercise regularly. Your glow will grow when you take good care of yourself.

5. Make time to pamper yourself.

You have to carve out time for yourself. Most spa treatments can be done at home, including facials, hair conditioning treatments, and massage.

6. Learn the most common social graces.

Like how to make introductions and the proper way to use your dining utensils. Remember a little charm goes a long way so don't keep compliments to yourself.

7. Be more interested in what others have to say to you, than what you have to say to them.

Never ask a person "what do you do". Instead, let conversations unfold naturally and ask questions that show you are interested in the other person.

8. Celebrate often.

Throw parties and share special meals with the people you love to commemorate life's milestones or just to have fun. You don't have to spend a lot of money, but you must spend time so that your guests feel welcome and happy in your home.

9. Teach your children manners and etiquette from the very beginning.

Put your foot down on bad behavior and make it clear to your children that self-centeredness is unacceptable. Make sure your children get enough sleep and that they eat healthy meals every day. Children love routine, so be consistent.

10. Practice the "Golden Rule."

Treat people as you would like to be treated. A smile and a kind word go a long way to making others feel comfortable around you. You will be amazed by how much happier you will be when treat others with respect and courtesy.

To learn more about how to live with elegance and flair, read Luann's book 'Class With the Countess' and go to her site . You can follow Luann on Facebook and Twitter, @CountessLuAnn.

Want flat abs? Make over your diet

Regain that flat stomach by doing abdominal exercises.

Regain that flat stomach by doing abdominal exercises.Credit: geotrac,

Articles have a tendency to wrap up six-pack abs and abdominal exercises in one big, pretty bow, but that's not how it works. Any article that says you can get abs without mentioning a change in your nutritional program missed a huge factor. No doubt, you can have strong abs whether you're skinny or overweight, but you will never see a smooth, hard abdominal area without proper nutrition. If you want the skinny on your abs, here it is.

It takes more than exercise

Your abs will become stronger if you do the exercises correctly, but no amount of sit ups, crunches, twists, vacuums or reverse crunches will bring out your abs. The stronger your rectus abdominal, oblique and transverse abdominal become, the more support your spinal column receives. Though beneficial, it will not show your abs if you have a high body fat content. You should not stop doing abdominal exercises, but you should add these exercises to a nutrition and weight training program.

Calorie reduction

Begin your nutrition program by eating smaller, more frequent meals or smaller calorie counts. Although I don't necessarily suggest calorie counting, some people have difficulties watching their food otherwise. Find out how many you are allotted for the day before you lower your calories. Cutting back too much of your food without knowing your caloric intake is dangerous if it's too low.

Do the math

There are many programs and equations available to help with calorie counting. Determine the calories it takes to maintain your body weight, then deduct calories to lose roughly one pound a week. Also, remember these equations do not consider the amount of muscle you may already have, so alter the numbers accordingly.

Changing up the diet

Begin with small steps if you have never regulated your food. Begin by writing everything you eat in a food log for one week. Jot down the times you eat, as well. Study this food log and make note of the most important changes you must make immediately. Does your log show that you are skipping meals? Are you binging at night? Are you eating foods high in saturated fat? Do you consume enough water? Are your meals mainly comprised of boxed or canned food items? These are all very important questions to help you change your nutrition program.

Consistency is the key

Consistently eat meals and plan to eat smaller portions that include a fat, carbohydrate and protein in each meal. There are diets such as the Keto diet, which excludes entire food groups for a length of time, but it's best to eat each macronutrient. Also, realize that you have to eat to lose weight. Small meals throughout the day will keep your metabolism fueled to burn more calories.

Keep working out

Your nutrition, paired with a weight training program, is the best way to get a flat stomach. Unless you are a fitness athlete, there's no need to train every day. Try several weight training sessions a week with two or three cardio sessions, and increase it when you feel comfortable. Don't go crazy with sessions that are hours long; it's not necessary. Combine half-hour intervals of weight training with a good nutritional program, and you'll see the abs you've been developing.



Other articles by Lisa White:

Reducing the baby pooch

Three benefits of using a spotter

5 best ways to ruin your personal training career

Read more from Yahoo! Contributor Network on Shine »

The Health Benefits of Rice

Talk about the merits of white rice with folks who pay attention to their diets, and chances are the decision will be a split one. Some will think rice is healthy and a good choice for keeping weight down. Others will believe it's an unhealthy dish that packs on the pounds.  What's the truth?

First, some background: Rice has fed more people, for a longer period of time, than any other crop on the face of the earth. It can be traced back to 2500 BC. Since it thrives in variety of climates and landscapes, it is the most eaten food on the planet. A whopping three billion people consume rice on an everyday basis.

Top 10 Super Fruits

However, the kind of white rice the average American eats (and we consume individually less than 25lbs. a year) is milled rice hat has had its husk removed. This is done largely to prevent spoilage and to extend the storage life of the grain. After milling, the rice is then polished resulting in a seed with a bright, white, shiny appearance. The problem is this polishing process removes important nutrients.

However, white rice is often enriched with some of the nutrients stripped from it during its processing. For example, it's always enriched with B-1, B-3 and iron because that's required by law in the United States.

On the plus side, white rice is not fattening if you eat a proper portion.  On the downside, it rates high on the glycemic scale and that increases the blood sugar level in our bodies. For this reason, rice is never recommended for people with sugar issues.

Top 10 Romantic Foods

If you enjoy rice, especially with a healthy meal like stir-fried vegetables, and want to keep it as part of your diet, there are ways to get the most benefits out of this simple, inexpensive food. Here's how:

--One serving should be measured as one cup of cooked rice. That comes to 204 calories.

--Boil the rice with excess water and drain the water after the rice is cooked to keep the starch levels low.

--Eat steamed rice or boiled rice -- not fattening fried rice.

--Add a fibrous food along with it for faster digestion such as vegetables or tofu.


5 Ways To Lose Weight (Before Bathing Suit Season)

By Shira Scott,

The season I fear most is just weeks away! It's nearly bathing suit season.  It's early May and my anxiety level is starting to spike.  I need to lose these love handles, the ones I hide so well under my sweaters.  Not being one for crash dieting, I know it might take until July 4th to really feel comfortable in my own skin, but I'm ready to put my health (and my beach body) first!

Here are 5 habits I'm putting to practice stat!

1. Set small, realistic goals.

I want to lose 10 pounds, but not in week one!  Week one, I'll shoot for 1-2 pounds.  Same for weeks 2 and 3.  Now, week 4 is going to be Memorial Day Weekend.  My goal for that holiday?  Maintain, maintain, maintain... by making healthier food choices and eating normal amounts of my barbecue favorites.

Related: Bootylicious!! Moves That Give Your Butt a Boost

2.  Find a diet buddy (or a support system that works for you).

Diet buddies keep you motivated.  You can always count on your partner, a friend of relative to give you the evil eye when you dip into the potato salad one too many times. Organized programs like Weight Watchershave strong support groups, too.

3. Keep a food journal.

I fought this one for years, but recently in desperation decided to try writing down everything I put into my mouth... at least for one day to see if I would be as shocked as everyone predicted.  !#&!* WOW.... a taste of this, a crumb of that... the calories really do add up. Taking pen to paper makes you aware of your behavior. While I went old school, there are plenty of apps out there you can use to keep your journal.  And while the goal is to stop thoughtless eating, don't skip meals.  Research shows that's a diet killer.

Related: Fab Abs By Summer

4. Make exercise fun!

The treadmill can get mighty boring day after day.  No matter what music is on my iTouch, I can't stay motivated for too long unless I mix it up.  This spring and summer, I'm going to go dancing, take my bike out of storage and play frisbee on the beach.  In other words, I'm turning exercise into entertainment!

5. Get enough sleep.

That means eight hours a night for most people.  Why is this so important?  Studies show that too little sleep can lead to weight gain.  Research also shows too much tech time can lead to extra poundage, so try to limit your computer and TV hours.

More from