There is no magic pill when it comes to losing weight or getting in shape. Fortunately, there’s something even better: It’s high intensity interval training (HIIT). No, this isn’t one of those workout trends that will be outdated next year. Nor is it a workout designed by some exercise “guru” who promises you that you’ll
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Transformation of the Day: Mercedes lost 115 pounds. Seeing the women in her family die young made her focus on her own lifestyle choices. Over the years, this Delta Sigma Theta soror figured out what works for her when it comes to nutrition and exercise. She fell in love with weight training and recently went
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You may not be exactly sure what your metabolism is, but you’re pretty sure it has something to do with burning calories and you know you want it to be “fast.” You’ve heard that having a slow metabolism is bad for weight loss. You’re on the right track. Metabolism is basically the engine that keeps your body chugging. It’s a collection of chemical reactions that takes the food you eat and turns it into energy. Fast or slow, it’s always on, even when you’re sleeping, bec
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ause it keeps your tissues and organs alive and functioning.

And yes, fast is better. Some people are born with fast metabolisms. They seem to be able to eat anything and stay slim. But genetics aren’t destiny. You can play a major role in keeping your metabolism in high gear—and conversely, you can take some measures to ensure you don’t become the victim of a slow metabolism.

Here are a five things that may be contributing to your slow metabolism and how to avoid them:

1. You’re not getting enough ZZZs.

Missing one good night’s sleep may result in a yawn-filled next day but your metabolism will likely be unchanged. But make that a few nights of sleep deprivation, and you could risk turning your metabolic hormones on their heads, according to a number of studies examining the link between lack of sleep and gaining weight (yes, it’s a thing). For one thing, getting too few ZZZs can make your cells less responsive to insulin, the pancreatic hormonal messenger that tips your cells off that it’s time to absorb the glucose (sugar) in your blood stream. If they ignore the message, your blood sugar goes up. Lack of sleep can reduce the production of leptin, the hormone that tamps down your appetite, and also alters the production  of ghrelin, the hormone that encourages you to eat.

Very important for dieters: One 2010 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that people whose sleep was restricted to only five and a half hours a night lost less body fat and more lean muscle than when they were allowed to sleep eight and a half hours—all on the same calorie-controlled diet. It may seem outlandish, but not getting enough sleep is a huge contributor to a slow metabolism.

Solution: The Sleep Foundation recommends doing the same thing you may have done with your children when they were babies. Stick to a steady sleep schedule (going to bed and waking up at the same time), have a relaxing bedtime ritual, get some exercise every day (though not within a few hours of bedtime), and make sure your bedroom and bed are conducive to sleep.

2. You’re not eating enough.

We live in a 21st century world where food is always just a few steps away. But our bodies are still designed for the feast and famine years of eons ago. When you cut back too severely on how much you eat, your body is likely to react as if you’re starving and it starts slowing down your metabolism, say researchers at Harvard Medical School. Your body then burns fewer calories, which contributes to a slow metabolism.

Solution:  The key thing is to prevent your body from hoarding calories because it senses famine has arrived. You can do that by never skipping meals and by exercising, which helps thwart metabolic slowdown.

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 3. You’re not exercising.

Speaking of exercise… It’s true that you’re more likely to lose weight by cutting calories than by exercising. Think about it—you can probably cut 250-500 calories out of your diet every day, but to burn that much off you might have to be on the move for an hour or more daily. According to MedLine Plus, regular exercise not only helps you burn calories while you’re active, you’ll continue to torch those pesky calories for an hour or so afterwards.

Solution: Put exercise on your calendar. Sign up for classes three days a week, plan walking dates with family or friends, flick on an exercise video, or go mall walking early in the morning. A recent Duke University study found that cardio—the aerobic exercise that makes you huff and puff—is better for burning fat than weight training. In their study, people who spent all their exercise time on cardio lost weight faster than those who also did weight training.

But include some hefting with your huffing and puffing. Weight training builds muscle, which can boost your metabolism. One recent study conducted by Duke Health found it can boost metabolic rate by about seven percent, and other studies suggest it may keep chugging at a higher rate even when you’re at rest. It’s not a lot, but every little bit helps.

4. You’re eating too much.

Sounds contradictory, but research suggests that just as not eating enough can contribute to a slow metabolism, eating TOO much overwhelms the cells responsible for regulating how your body burns what you eat for fuel, according to research done at Duke University. Those cells are like traffic cops. They keep traffic flowing so your blood sugar remains stable. But when these traffic cops are facing a logjam, everything just moves much more slowly.

Solution: To help your metabolism chug along smoothly,  eat smaller, more frequent meals, the researchers say. When you’re on Nutrisystem, you should be eating six times a day.

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5. You’re stressed to the max.

In one 2014 Ohio State University study, women who dealt with one or more stressors, like arguments or work issues, before consuming a high-fat test meal burned 104 fewer calories after the meal than women who weren’t stressed. The stressed-out women also had higher levels of insulin, the pancreatic hormone that tells your body to store calories as fat, and their fat didn’t oxidize as much (meaning the fat didn’t burn off as much) thereby increasing fat storage. Chronic stress could result in as much as an 11-pound weight gain in a year, the researchers said.

Solution: You can’t always get rid of the things that are stressing you out, but you can change your response to them. About to explode? Take a walk. According to a study conducted by Harvard Medical School, exercise  helps by reducing levels of the chemicals your body produces in response to stress.

Can’t get your worries out of your head? Write them down. Studies conducted by the American Psychological Association—including those on students, Holocaust survivors and people who just lost their jobs—have found that journaling about what’s bothering you can help reduce your stress. Need an escape? Try meditation or prayer. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, meditation—essentially finding a quiet place and quieting your mind—can reduce stress even among people worried about health problems.

Ready to get in the driver’s seat with the help of Nutrisystem? Get started today! >

The post Slow Metabolism? Here Are 5 Ways You’re Sabotaging It appeared first on The Leaf.

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A group of dancers swarm the stage, their necks thrusting left to right, their hips gliding in the other direction as the chimes of the gamelan ring out. In Ubud, Bali, every night is garnished with traditional dance shows.

The performances are intended to enchant both the gods they celebrate and the tourists that come here to escape the buffet lines closer to the beach.

Two Rmayana dancers, in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia Buena Vista Images / Getty Images
Just inland toward the mountains, past the world-famous
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beaches and resorts, Ubud is a cultural hub showcasing the diverse facets of Balinese culture. On the steps of the many temples, boutiques, restaurants, and cafes, locals rest offerings of rice and flowers (canang sari) in mini leaf baskets three times a day. These Balinese Hindu traditions are gifts to the gods showing gratitude for the richness of life here and evidence to outsiders of the locals’ adherence to tradition.

The town lounges along two shopping roads, Jalan Monkey Forest and Jalan Hanoman, both of which are lined with friendly homestays—mostly smallish estates where extended families live together among statues of gods and gardens. We opted for Jangkrik Homestay, a great deal at $15/night. Across the road from Jangkrik is a stage where family members perform a Kecak trance dance (instead of instruments, a group of a hundred men chant as dancers perform) with other people in the community. It’s about $14 a show and proceeds go to the upkeep of the neighborhood.

Balinese Long-Tailed Monkey Edmund Lowe Photography / Getty Images
Just down Jalan Monkey Forest is The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. For $2, visitors can tour temples and an art museum while mingling with apes that are rather less concerned about the intrusion than the sanctuary’s name might suggest. After monkeys steal their food, travelers can head to Sukuma Road, where restaurants serve up Indonesian classics made extra spicy. Whether it’s an introduction or a long stay, Ubud hosts an array of classes and shows to keep any visitor occupied and inspired.

More Information: Downtown Ubud is roughly an hour drive north from Denpasar and Ngurah Rai International Airport along Jalan Batu Balan, which winds through the graceful rice fields around the small town of Lodtunduh.
For most of us, abs work comes at the end of the gym session. But by this point, you’ve probably run out of steam. And are likely lying on the floor. So if you really want to supercharge your core strength, get off the mat and put abs moves at the start of your workout, just after you’ve loosened up. And try the modified front lever, which has you hanging from a pullup bar and engaging your core to perform a lower-body tuck.



This has several advantages over traditional crunches or
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situps. For starters, you aren’t resting your body on the ground, so more of your middle is engaged.

“Movements in which you are hanging and bringing your feet all the way up don’t target just one part of your core but your entire abdominal wall,” says Mathew Forzaglia, coach and trainer at NEO U in New York City.

Plus, the unconventional move requires grip strength and arm and shoulder stamina, works your lats, and improves your body control. To start, focus on doing three to five reps, holding the tuck for 10 to 20 seconds at a time. Make it easier by using a box to reach the bar and stepping off gently, rather than jumping into starting position. And try using a mixed grip (one palm facing out, the other facing you), which will give you a stronger hold on the bar.

You can work up to the modified front lever with knees to chest (pulling your knees toward your sternum). On the other hand, if you achieve the position easily, try performing the tuck, then extending one leg out at a time. Or extend both legs for a full hollow hold. If you’re missing your post-workout lie down, don’t forget: There’s always foam rolling.

Front Lever James Michelfelder
How to do it:

Hang from a pullup bar, hands just wider than shoulder-width apart. Engage shoulders and lats by pulling shoulder blades together and down.
Bring knees to waist height (shown left). Engaging abs, simultaneously tuck chin, press hips forward, and pull knees to rib cage, getting shins and torso to parallel (shown right).
Slowly drop hips, unfurl legs, until torso is straight, to start.
Let’s be honest, Hawaiian vacations are more about beachside mai tais and overindulgent luaus than they are about backcountry adventures. And that’s fine, but lei-bedecked travelers are missing out because Volcanoes National Park, spread across 520 square miles on the Big Island, has everything from tropical rain forests to a snowcapped peak and Kilauea volcano, which has been erupting continually since 1983.



“Of the 13 climate zones found on Earth,” says ranger Jessica Ferr
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acane, “11 are found on the Big Island, and seven are found in the park alone, so the diversity is extreme.” That is to say there’s more to explore here than in most mainland states. Plus, with Hawaiian Airlines, round-trip flights from Maui and Oahu are only $170—and less than an hour long—meaning you can access the park no matter which Hawaiian island you’re lounging on.

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Backcountry Camp on a White-Sand Beach

Volcanoes is brimming with worthy hikes, including a half-mile walk to a rain-forest-enshrouded lava tube, and a three-day epic to the summit of 13,677-foot Mauna Loa. But one of the best trails, which also has some of the fewest crowds, is the Puna Coast, an 11.3-miler that starts near ancient petroglyphs and ends at a white-sand beach surrounded by volcanic rock. “There’s denim-blue ocean as wide as your imagination,” says Ferracane. “And along the trail you can see these green, forest-covered cliffs that have been cleaved by black lava flow — it’s as stunning as it gets.” With a backcountry permit, you can camp under the palm trees and cool off in the Pacific. If not, stop at Apua Point, 6.6 miles in; you’ll still have time to make it back to town for pre-dinner mai tais.

Lava from Kilauea Volcano flowing into ocean Danita Delimont / Getty Images
See the Lava Pool

There are few sights as unsettling or thrilling as watching the glow of magma belching from deep within the Earth. And there’s no easier place to encounter it than Kilauea volcano: A lava lake inside the crater has been active since 2008, and it’s viewable from multiple places along Crater Rim Drive. Of course, to fully experience the spectacle, you’ll need to go when it’s dark out. While most people tend to crowd around at sunset, a far better time is early morning, before the sun rises. You’ll see that same reddish blaze, but because the wind is light, you’ll also hear volcanic rocks exploding deep within the crater as superheated magma slowly rises and falls. “It sounds like giant surf breaking near shore,” says Ferracane. “Many of us like to say it’s Pele, the volcano goddess, speaking to us.”

Papakolea Beach paranyu pithayarungsarit / Getty Images
Can’t Miss Detour: Green-Sand Beach

Red, white, black — beaches in Hawaii come in all colors. Even green, like the sands of Papakolea Beach, on the Big Island’s south coast. They are rich in olivine, a mineral common in Hawaii’s lava rocks that lends the beach its unmistakable hue — one of only a handful of such beaches on the planet. The undertow can be severe, so swimming is not advisable, but the three-mile hike crosses rugged pasturelands that seem more appropriate to Scotland than Hawaii.

Where to Stay

Most Big Island visitors stay on the Kona Coast, three hours from the park, a commute that leaves little time to explore. Instead, book a night or two in the town of Volcano, right at the park’s entrance. If you can snag a room at the historic Volcano House, overlooking the crater, your bedtime light show will be brighter than the Las Vegas Strip. Otherwise, look to Volcano Village Lodge, a small resort with private cabins tucked into the rain forest.

Our expert: Jessica Ferracane, a lifelong resident of Hawaii, has worked in Volcanoes for five years. She’s been visiting the park for two decades.
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