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3 Meditations To Nourish Your Heart

by Kathy Smith

In the simplest sense, meditation can help banish negative thoughts by clearing your mind entirely. One popular meditation technique is to focus on a positive idea or happy moment. As soon as a negative thought bubbles to the happy, calm surface you created, think of it as a duck that is paddling away from you and return your focus to happier thoughts. It’s not always easy to erase negative thought patterns, but meditation can at least help you become more conscious of them, and that’s the first step.

As if happier thoughts aren’t enough of a benefit, research is showing that meditation can help restructure the brain in ways that lead to more enhanced concentration, boosted immunity, and increased compassion. Even the most basic attempts at meditation have been shown to have immediate positive results.

If you haven’t begun a meditation practice, or are looking to take your practice to the next level, then stay tuned. Today, I’ll guide you through three meditation styles to enhance your life and recharge your batteries.

1. Nature Meditation

One of my favorite ways to change my mental state is to meditate deeply on a part of nature. Take five minutes to look closely at a flower. Study the details of its texture and the structure. By observing the smallest features of a flower or any object, you develop a sense of reverence. The flower becomes a little miracle. You begin to see how complete and fully alive the natural world is at all levels. Meditating on nature can be calming, fascinating, and inspiring all at once.

2. Gratitude Meditation

I love what Oprah said about gratitude, “I know for sure that appreciating whatever shows up for you in life changes your personal vibration. You radiate and generate more goodness for yourself when you’re aware of all you have and not focusing on your have-nots.”

Every morning, I start my day by making a gratitude list. It gets me moving on a positive track!

So take a few minutes today meditating on all the things in your life that you’re thankful for. You might even think about taking out your phone, opening the notes, and writing your daily list.

3. Breathing Meditation

Slow, deep breathing is one of the best stress busters there is. Focus your attention on the breath entering your body, your breath flowing out, and the spaces in between the breath. Several minutes of this can lower your pulse, reduce your blood pressure, and relax much of the muscular tension in your body.

This popular breathing method is one of the easiest and most effective forms for the uninitiated to attempt. Try it during stressful situations throughout your day. Within minutes, you’ll see how it helps you stay present in the moment, and yet separated from the situation that created stress in the first place.

Remember, as you work through these three meditations negative messages may surface. It’s o.k. (and very common) if they do. Your meditation practice will become more profound as you turn your focus back to nature, what you’re grateful for, or your breath. Like anything new, the more you practice, the easier it becomes to switch your mindset.

Here’s to your health and happiness!

Kathy Smith, New York Times bestselling author, has stood at the forefront of the fitness and health industries for over 30 years. The numbers speak for themselves: Kathy has sold more than 20 million exercise DVDs - landing her in the Video Hall of Fame - and $500 million in Kathy Smith products. With her revolutionary approach to fitness, Smith has touched millions of people, inspiring them to move, live, and love.

5-Min Chair Stretch

by Kathy Smith

We were built to move! And it’s been proven that spending too much time sitting increases your risk of having a heart attack, stroke, and metabolic syndrome. Plus, the more you sit, the more likely you are to have an achy back and muscle pain.

If you have low or mid back tension, or if your neck and shoulders feel tight throughout the day, chances are you’re slouching too much! You can release the discomfort from sitting all day in just 5 mins with today’s chair stretch routine.

The key is to become consistent with these types of stretches. They will not only make you feel revitalized by increasing circulation, but stretching also can ease the discomfort from sitting all day long.

As a bonus, it’s a great wake-me-up to refresh your mind and body before you head out the door!

Kathy Smith, New York Times bestselling author, has stood at the forefront of the fitness and health industries for over 30 years. The numbers speak for themselves: Kathy has sold more than 20 million exercise DVDs - landing her in the Video Hall of Fame - and $500 million in Kathy Smith products. With her revolutionary approach to fitness, Smith has touched millions of people, inspiring them to move, live, and love.

6 Ways To Protect Your Joints As You Age

by Kathy Smith

According to the Harvard Health Publications, close to 20 percent of people in the United States have arthritis. As we age, joint movements like gliding, rolling, bending, and rotating are no longer performed with ease. Instead, our joints creak and resist movement, causing aches and pains. So how can you protect your body from experiencing this as you get older?

Try these 6 tips to help protect your joints from injury as you age:


1. Add Omega-3 Fats To Your Plate

Foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids such as fish, olive oil and flax seeds help promote joint comfort. These omega-3s get incorporated into joint cartilage cells, where they allow joints move smoothly. To increase your intake of omega-3s, try cooking with olive oil, taking a daily fish oil supplement, or add flax seeds to your morning smoothie.

2. Eat Antioxidant-Rich Foods

Studies have shown that seniors with better joints also have more antioxidants in their blood and joint fluids. So eat plenty of antioxidant-rich fresh fruits and vegetables daily, along with a daily multivitamin will protect your joints. Foods that are high in anti-oxidants include the berry family: cranberries, blueberries, and blackberries.

3. Have a regular exercise program

Exercise is the fountain of youth, because it keeps your muscles well oiled and your joints fluid and supple. Exercises that are specifically gentle to joints are cycling, swimming, and stretching. Also, remember to include a warm-up before all of your aerobic and strength training activities. Tendons, ligaments and muscles tend to tighten with age and need a longer warm-up before engaging in physical activity. A simple marching in place can do the trick.

4. Keep Your Weight Down

The greater your weight, the more wear and tear your joints go through. Over time, your joints are unable to bear your excess weight, and there are minute tears in tissue of your joints can get inflamed leading to further complications. Also, obesity can trigger osteoporosis and arthritis, both of which can lead to ultimate joint degeneration.

5. Keep moving!

Sitting is the new smoking! Keep your body moving and avoid sitting in one place for more than a half hour. When you remain seated, your joints have to take a great deal of your seated weight, leading to more wear and tear.

6. Maintain proper posture

It’s time for a posture check! If you’re sitting, make sure your legs are straight and let your body make a 90-degree angle with your knees; do not stoop. Let your weight rest on your hip and leg bones. Use adequate back support and ensure proper height alignment to a counter, table or desk, keeping both feet on the floor.

When you stand, distribute your weight and stress evenly on both feet. Keep your head level; avoid holding the head bent forward nor to one side.

Remember, protecting your joints as you age should become a high priority in order to maximize your ability and function as long as you can.

Here’s to your health!

Kathy Smith, New York Times bestselling author, has stood at the forefront of the fitness and health industries for over 30 years. The numbers speak for themselves: Kathy has sold more than 20 million exercise DVDs - landing her in the Video Hall of Fame - and $500 million in Kathy Smith products. With her revolutionary approach to fitness, Smith has touched millions of people, inspiring them to move, live, and love.


Is Decision Fatigue Making You Fat?

by Kathy Smith

The complete Barre Body Lift workout

No matter what time you choose to workout throughout the week, what’s most important is to have a routine so you don’t fall victim to decision fatigue and miss your exercise session.

Studies show that as you navigate through a world of choices, it’s natural that your mental capacity starts to wear down.

As you increase the number of decisions you make throughout the day, the more tired your brain becomes, and it warps your judgment. But, you may not notice when this is happening to you, because when you’re running low on mental energy, your mind isn’t consciously aware of being tired.

Here’s an interesting study reported in the New York Times…

“…Studies show that people with the best self-control are the ones who structure their lives so as to conserve willpower. They don’t schedule endless back-to-back meetings. They avoid temptations like all-you-can-eat buffets, and they establish habits that eliminate the mental effort of making choices. Instead of deciding every morning whether or not to force themselves to exercise, they set up regular appointments to work out with a friend. Instead of counting on willpower to remain robust all day, they conserve it so that it’s available for emergencies and important decisions.”

So, if you like to exercise in the mornings, then set your alarm clock knowing what you’re doing when you wake up in the morning…whether it’s a walk or a yoga routine. Or, if you prefer to workout in the afternoon, then schedule a new class at the gym after work with a friend. This way, you’ve made the decision ahead of time and won’t have to rely on willpower to get moving.

And before you start your workout, don’t forget the importance of a warm-ups. Try this 5-minute gentle and invigorating warm-up video…it’s is like a latte for your mind. A simple warm-up will increase the oxygen in your brain and help you concentrate better, recall information more quickly, and focus more throughout the day.

Own it on DVD for only $11.99!

Kathy Smith, New York Times bestselling author, has stood at the forefront of the fitness and health industries for over 30 years. The numbers speak for themselves: Kathy has sold more than 20 million exercise DVDs - landing her in the Video Hall of Fame - and $500 million in Kathy Smith products. With her revolutionary approach to fitness, Smith has touched millions of people, inspiring them to move, live, and love.

The Best Workout For Your Body Type

by Kathy Smith

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We come in all shapes and sizes. The system of body types (also called somatotypes) commonly used in scientific and medical circles was developed in the 1950s by W. H. Sheldon and provides a convenient way of classifying the structural and performance differences between people. According to this system, there are three basic types: the slender ectomorph, the athletic mesomorph, and the soft endomorph. Each has its strengths and limits.

Most people don’t fit perfectly into any one type. However, as you read through the descriptions, I’ll bet you’ll be able to relate characteristics of one or more types to yourself or someone you know.

The Ectomorph: Thin, Little Fat or Muscle

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 4.25.40 PMEctomorphs have long, narrow, lean, lithe, angular bodies. Their muscles and connective tissues are loose, allowing more flexibility and mobility than other body types, and this general looseness and lack of muscle makes them more likely to have poor posture. Proportionately, ectomorphs are fine-boned, with narrow shoulders, a flat chest, and long limbs. What little fat they carry accumulates in the hips and thighs.

Ectomorphs tend to have inefficient cardiovascular systems and may have problems with low blood pressure, high heart rate, poor circulation, dizziness on standing, and poor endurance. They gain muscle slowly and with difficulty.

A well-developed and efficient nervous system makes ectomorphs highly sensitive and adept at activities requiring speed of movement. On the other hand, they have inefficient digestive systems, which helps them to stay thin but may leave them prone to hypoglycemia. There’s also some evidence that ectomorphs may be particularly susceptible to low back pain and osteoporosis.

The Mesomorph: Athletic and Muscular

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 4.28.10 PMMesomorphs are high-energy people, with high levels of adrenaline and an efficient cardiovascular system. In general, they excel at strength and endurance activities and, men especially, tend to bulk up when they lift weights.Mesomorphs are nature’s athletes, with hard, muscular bodies and a solid, square appearance. They’re sturdily built, and their tight, short muscles and strong connective tissue give them a very upright posture, but limit their flexibility. They’re medium-to-large-boned, with shoulders broader than hips, short torsos, and a well-proportioned distribution of weight.

Depending on their diet and activity level, mesomorphs can gain or lose weight easily. Although they get into shape quickly and can eat large amounts of calories as long as they stay active, they can also lose muscle quickly and gain fat through lack of training. When they’re inactive, their blood pressure and heart rate rise. That, combined with a greater concentration of fat near the middle of the body, makes them more prone to heart disease and stroke.

The Endomorph: Excess Body Fat

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Endomorphs have soft, rounded, naturally curvy bodies, with excess body fat and underdeveloped muscles. Their shoulders are slightly wider than their hips, but this often goes unnoticed because they carry excess fat at their waist, buttocks, and thighs. Their posture is fairly good, and their muscles and cardiovascular system are more efficient than those of the ectomorph, though less so than the mesomorph. This gives them natural potential for strength, endurance, and flexibility. However, an overly developed digestive system and a naturally low metabolism cause them to gain weight easily and lose it slowly. The endomorph usually has a slow heart rate and low blood pressure, and can relax and fall asleep easily. 

Mix and Match

You hardly ever see anyone who is a perfect ecto, meso, or endo. Most of us have traits of at least two types: Usually, we tend toward one while having traces of the others. A good pole vaulter, for instance, might be an ecto-meso, since long limbs (ectomorph) are desirable for speed and grip height, while strong upper body muscles (mesomorph) are important in levering the body over the bar.

I classify myself as an ecto-meso. Although I have the mesomorph’s capacity to gain muscle and be athletic, my body’s natural tendency is toward thinness.

By the way, other physical characteristics such as height, weight, or fitness level do not affect what type you are. You can be a meso, ecto, or endo of any dress size. Likewise, exercise won’t change your body type. You might go from an overweight endomorph to a more slender one; from a willowy ectomorph to a more contoured one, but the changes you experience will occur relative to your own physiology.

Body Type Self-Test

Here’s a quick way to gauge your body type: Take the middle finger and thumb of one hand, and encircle the wrist of the other hand. This is a simple way of making a length-versus-width comparison of the bones in your body. This ratio gives a clue as to which category you might fall into:

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 4.31.22 PM

Ectomorphs, endomorphs, and mesomorphs are like that game of rock, paper, scissors. Each can do something the others can’t, so there’s no better or worse type to be. And since your type was decided before you were born, your only job now is to accept and enjoy your body for its unique abilities, and learn to make the most of them.

The Mesomorph Myth

There seems to be a bias in our society in favor of the mesomorph. Most people feel that a more muscular, proportional physique is the ideal. The bias doesn’t stop there, though. Studies show we actually judge people with meso physiques more favorably than others.

In one experiment, a group of psychotherapists and grad students at Midwestern State University were shown drawings of three clients’ body types. Based on nothing but the outlines of the bodies, the subjects rated the clients according to various personal characteristics. Students and professionals alike all rated the mesomorphs more favorably than the others.

It’s true that mesomorphs have a definite edge in most physical pursuits. However, looking beyond athletics, the other body types have edges of their own. An ectomorph’s highly active nervous system may make her an exciting concert violinist. Likewise, an endomorph’s slow, relaxed demeanor may make her a more approachable and reassuring presence as a school counselor.

Even in the physical realm, though, each type has its strengths. The strengths and limitations of your body type (as well as your individual goals) help determine the type of training that’s right for you.

Here’s a summary and some training recommendations…

Training Considerations for Each Body Type

My program is designed to help everyone—no matter how you’re built—develop strength, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility. However, two people can have very different responses to the same training program. It helps to be as familiar as you can with your own body’s natural tendencies, so you know how to focus your efforts and assess your progress.

Ectomorph Focus

If you’re an ectomorph, you may have memories of leaving most of your elementary school classmates in the dust in the 50- yard dash. Ectomorphs are good sprinters, can become very flexible, and excel at sports involving quickness and agility. They’re not gifted in the strength or endurance departments, however, and while they don’t usually need to work to stay thin, they do need to work to stay strong.

The Role of Strength Training:

Ectomorphs need strength training to improve posture, create contour, protect joints from injury, and keep bones strong against osteoporosis.

While the ecto can improve muscle strength and endurance, the improvements may not be as great or come as fast as with the other types. An ectomorph trying to build muscle may feel at times like someone trying to grow vegetables in the desert. This is all the more reason why it’s so important for ectomorphs to train, and train consistently.

As for other aspects of training, ectos can usually maintain flexibility with minimal effort. And because they are often high-strung, they may benefit from relaxation and stress-reduction techniques.

Mesomorph Focus

If you’re a mesomorph, you’ve probably done well at most physical activities you’ve tried. If you haven’t been very active up to this point, you’ll probably find that your body responds quickly to training. Excess weight shouldn’t be a problem as long as you stay active and eat sensibly. Because mesomorphs tend to carry fat around the center of the body, they face a greater risk of heart problems than other types if they allow their weight to climb. The right combination of strength training, cardio, and a low-fat diet will minimize this risk and keep you looking your best.

The Role of Strength Training:

Your challenge is to find a level of strength training that allows you to tone up without building more muscle than you want. Weight lifting is a must for fighting age-related muscle loss and keeping your weight down, but you may want to do it at a lower intensity (using lighter weights, according to the guidelines in Chapter 5) to avoid building unwanted bulk. Since your muscles and connective tissues tend to be tightly strung together, you’ll probably need to spend extra time stretching in order to stay flexible.

Endomorph Focus

If you’re an endomorph, you may have memories of bringing up the rear when your classmates ran the track. Physical activity does not come easily for you, and you may find physical challenges frustrating. The main difficulty, though, is usually excess weight. Endomorphs, because of their tendency to store fat, may not seem to be natural athletes. But, surprisingly, they have the potential to develop strength and endurance more easily than the ectomorph.

With proper training, there’s no reason an endomorph can’t be toned and fit. Endos may tend to be a bit more voluptuous than other body types, but it’s possible to be voluptuous and be in great shape!

The Role of Strength Training:

The endomorph’s big challenge is her constant struggle with excess weight. Aerobic work, attention to diet, and strength training will all help. Strength training is vital, and will accomplish two things: First, it will help strengthen your joints and connective tissues to make your cardio work easier and less stressful. And second, it will help raise your metabolism so you can burn fat that much faster. Over the long run, you may want to do a little extra work on your upper body to help create a more symmetrical look. When it comes to cardio, start with low-impact varieties to minimize stress on the joints: good choices include walking or treadmill, swimming (or aqua aerobics), low-impact aerobics, bicycling on fairly level ground, or a stationary bike with low tension.

Kathy Smith, New York Times bestselling author, has stood at the forefront of the fitness and health industries for over 30 years. The numbers speak for themselves: Kathy has sold more than 20 million exercise DVDs - landing her in the Video Hall of Fame - and $500 million in Kathy Smith products. With her revolutionary approach to fitness, Smith has touched millions of people, inspiring them to move, live, and love.

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