Fat Loss Weight Loss 

The Clutch Society – The Most Unique Lifestyle Membership On The Web

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Unique Fitness Offer: Automatic Dream Body

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The Weight Loss Motivation Bible: How To Program Your Mind For Sustainable Fat Loss

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This 12-Month "I Am Strong" Challenge Is Better Than Any New Year's Resolution

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While New Year’s resolutions are often well-intentioned, the sad truth is that they usually fall out of focus sometime around February. Have you been there before? We certainly have. So what’s a more actionable way to meet your goals every month? Mix it up and have a clear objective month by month, rather than for the year overall.

This year’s mantra for us is “I am strong.” Do you need some strength in your life? Are you hoping to feel more empowered, more in control, and more self-loving? Take a look at the 12 ways we’re instilling this positive affirmation and living our strongest lives yet in 2017. You can mix up the months and customize your schedule and even fill in things that make YOU feel strong in particular.

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Each day of 2017, make it your goal to say, “I am strong” and live your life accordingly. These 12 unique monthly challenges will help you remember the end goal: self love and a happier, better life.

January Challenge: Try a New Workout

Pick a new style of workout, and commit to it all month long. It has to be something you’ve never done before! If you’ve never run before, give yourself a goal of running a mile without stopping by the end of the month. New to yoga? You’ll be amazed at how strong you get by committing to a few classes a week.

February Challenge: Compliment Yourself More

Make it a goal to give yourself five compliments a day for a month. These are words of affirmation that will build on your inner strength and self love, and they can be big things like, “I’m so intelligent,” or smaller ones like, “My hair looks fabulous!” (We picked up this tip from the inspiring health coach and fitness fashionista, Joanne Encarnacion.)

March Challenge: Set a Strength Goal

You don’t have to complete your goal in March, but you definitely have to set it and start working toward it. What strong thing do you want to accomplish this year? Complete a pull-up? 50 push-ups? Your first half-marathon? Maybe even a triathlon? Summit a mountain? Decide now what your goal will be, when you’ll complete it, and create a plan to work toward that goal.

April Challenge: Pack Your Fitness Schedule

This month, plan five workouts each week for the whole month. They can be at-home videos, group fitness at a studio, a run, a dance class, or personal training. Pick a way to move each day at the beginning of the month, and stick to your schedule.

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May Challenge: Gratitude Journal

Find a journal or notebook, and each day in May write down five to 10 things you’re grateful for. You’ll be mentally and emotionally equipped to handle anything!

June Challenge: Strong-Body Diet

This is your month to learn about macronutrients and focus on getting more protein to nourish your strong muscles. Make it a goal to learn four to six new protein-rich recipes and eat them throughout the month. When you feed your body the right foods, you’ll feel strong.

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July Challenge: Kickass Combat

Try boxing, Muay Thai, kickboxing, or a similar style of workout. You could even sign up for a self-defense class! Plan out your month and go at least four times.

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August Challenge: The Buddy System

In August, find an accountability partner. Whether it’s your best friend, sister, or co-worker, find someone in your life who wants to feel strong, too. Go to healthy lunches together, plan workouts, and shower each other with empowering and meaningful words of affirmation. “You’re so strong!” is always a good one. You’ll be stronger together, and sharing your strength with another person will make you feel incredible.

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September Challenge: Meditation and Affirmation

While we’re hoping you’ll tell yourself “I am strong” every day this year, September is your month to really drive that home. This month, try a 10-minute meditation practice each morning right when you wake up, before the day gets away from you. Body-positive superstar and Movemeant Foundation founder Jenny Gaither says she creates a new mantra for herself each week, like, “love continues to flow in and out of me,” for instance. Repeat your daily, weekly, or September mantra to yourself as you clear your mind through mental-strengthening meditation.

October Challenge: Learn a New Skill

While fitness is a surefire way to create a sense of strength, you can find it in other ways, too! By learning something new and challenging yourself, you’ll feel so empowered. This can be as simple as, “I’m going to learn how to poach an egg,” or “I’m going to learn five phrases in Italian this month.” If fitness is the only way for you, then loop back to the challenge from January, and pick up a new kind of workout, or an exercise move you’re trying to master — maybe a Turkish Get-Up?

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November Challenge: Heat Things Up

As the weather gets chilly, choose workouts that make you really, really sweaty. Whether it’s hot yoga or an intense indoor cycling class, bring on the sweat! Also, if you haven’t yet, make sure you’re completing your strength goal from March.

December Challenge: Give Back

Choose a charity, cause, or nonprofit to focus your efforts on. You can even commit to a random-act-of-kindness challenge. Adopting more charitable habits, giving more of yourself, and doing something to help others will help you feel strong — especially when you know someone else needs a little extra strength. The power you’ve created all year long is ready to explode and impact the world in a great way. You did it!

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Have Scientists Discovered a Possible Way to Stop Zika Virus in Its Tracks?

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FRIDAY, June 17, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Scientists say they’ve identified a potential way to prevent Zika and similar viruses from spreading in the body.

They pinpointed a gene pathway that is vital for Zika and related viruses to spread infection between cells. The researchers found that shutting down a single gene in this pathway prevents these viruses from leaving an infected cell.

“We wanted to find out if we could identify genes present in the host cells that are absolutely required by the virus for infection,” said study senior author Dr. Michael Diamond, the Herbert S. Gasser Professor of Medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The discovery suggests a potential target for new drugs to fight Zika and other flaviviruses such as dengue and West Nile, according to the researchers.

“Out of about 19,000 genes that we looked at, we only found nine key genes that the virus relies on for infection or to spread,” Diamond said in a university news release.

“All of [the nine] are associated with an important part of the cell that processes viral particles, which is essential to spreading the infection,” he said.

Of those nine genes, disabling one called SPCS1 reduced viral infection but appeared to have no harmful effects on human cells, he added.

“Flaviviruses appear to be uniquely dependent on this particular gene to release the viral particle,” Diamond said.

“In these viruses, this gene sets off a domino effect that is required to assemble and release the viral particle,” he said. “Without it, the chain reaction doesn’t happen and the virus can’t spread. So we are interested in this gene as a potential drug target because it disrupts the virus and does not disrupt the host.”

The research was supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The study was published June 17 in the journal Nature.

More information

Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on the Zika virus.

This Q&A will tell you what you need to know about Zika.

To see the CDC list of sites where Zika virus is active and may pose a threat to pregnant women, click here.


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Yes, Your Office's Open Floor Plan Is Ruining Your Productivity

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If you’ve had trouble concentrating in an open floor-plan office, you’re not alone. Now, at least you’ve got science on your side: A new study suggests that overheard work conversations can decrease productivity—and increase annoyance—of other employees within earshot, more so than random and meaningless background buzz.

Open office plans are becoming increasingly common in workplaces, allowing companies to optimize space and, theoretically, encourage dialogue and collaboration among employees. But they also have their fair share of critics, and complaints about lack of privacy and noisy coworkers abound.

It’s no surprise that noise can be distracting, but researchers from Yamaguchi University in Japan wanted to see how work-related chatter might compare with other, less meaningful hubbub. So they performed a series of experiments to investigate the impact of different types of noises, using a test known as the “odd-ball” paradigm.

During odd-ball tests, people are asked to identify unique events sprinkled throughout a series of repetitive events. “To complete the odd-ball task it is necessary to regulate attention to a stimulus," said Takahiro Tamesue, associate professor of engineering, explained in a press release.

In one experiment, participants watched pictures flashing on a computer monitor while listening to either pink noise (similar to white noise, but with a spectrum closely resembling that of human voices) or actual male and female speech. Over a 10-minute period, they were asked to count the number of times a red square appeared in a mix of otherwise similar objects.

In the second experiment, people were asked to count the instances of an infrequent 2-kilohertz tone amid a series of 1-kilohertz tones. Afterward, they were asked to rate their level of annoyance at each sound, on a scale of one to seven.

During these and other trials, researchers measured participants’ brain waves using electrodes on their scalps. They looked specifically at two responses known as the N100 and P300 components, which peak approximately 100 and 300 milliseconds after a stimulus (in this case, a sound) is presented. These are thought to represent the activation of neurons involved in analyzing and making decisions about incoming sensory information, Tamesue says.

The researchers found that when participants listened to meaningful speech, they experienced large reductions in their N100 and P300 components—indicating that their selective attention to thinking-related tasks was influenced by the noise. Other experiments also showed that meaningful noises, such as music and conversation, led to greater declines in performance on memory and arithmetic tasks.

And yes, you guessed it: Meaningful noises had a stronger effect on levels of annoyance, as well, compared to meaningless ones.

Tamesue's research focuses on improving environments by analyzing the physiological and psychological effects of noise. He presented his new study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal, at a joint meeting of the Acoustical Societies of America and Japan, occurring this week in Hawaii.

The findings suggest that settings used for cognitive tasks, such as workplaces and schools, could benefit from designs that take into account the sound that’s likely to be present, says Tamesue—not just the volume, he adds, but the meaningfulness, as well.

“Surrounding conversations often disturb the business operations conducted in such open offices,” he says. “Because it is difficult to soundproof an open office, a way to mask meaningful speech with some other sound would be of great benefit for achieving a comfortable sound environment.”

As for employees already stuck in a poorly designed office space? You could always don your headphones and crank up the white noise. Or, take a cue from other scientific research: Studies have shown that music without lyrics can enhance mental performance, and that natural sounds like a babbling mountain brook can be relaxing (and not distracting) in stressful workplaces.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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Next Week’s Supermoon May Be a Once in a Lifetime Event

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Fall 2016 is proving to be an exciting season for stargazers, with three consecutive supermoons (which happen when the moon is closest to Earth) occurring in October, November, and December. But the upcoming supermoon on Monday, Nov. 14 will be particularly special, due to a unique alignment of the Earth, moon, and sun. The moon will be the closest it's been to the Earth since January 26, 1948—the next similarly large supermoon won’t occur until November 25, 2034. In short: You won't want to miss it.

On the night of the supermoon, the diameter of the moon could appear up to 14 percent larger and the total area of the moon may look up to 30 percent larger and brighter, according to Jonathan Kemp, a telescope specialist at Middlebury College Observatory. The moon appears so large due to its positioning on its orbit.

“The moon’s orbit is not a circle, but rather an ellipse, just as with the planets,” Kemp says. “On average, the moon is about 239,000 miles away from the Earth. When it is at perigee, or its closest point to Earth, it can be about 225,000 miles away. When this happens during full moon, the apparent size of the moon, as seen from Earth, appears to increase.”

This month, the full moon will occur within about two hours of the moon’s perigee, causing the extra-special supermoon. And because there is typically one supermoon per year, the fact that there are three in three months is also pretty spectacular.

The best way to view the supermoon is look for it low in the sky (as it rises or sets near the horizon) with foreground reference points (like buildings) to provide some context, Kemp says. Because it’s a full moon, it will rise as the sun sets, and set as the sun rises. With binoculars, you’ll get an even more exciting sight.

“When the moon is full, the larger craters show 'ray' features, which look like lines pointing away from the crater, spanning much of the surface of the moon,” says Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York. "These 'rays' are streams of rock that were ejected when the crater was formed by a colliding asteroid long, long ago."

 

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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Why Songs Get Stuck In Your Head—and How to Get Them Out 

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Why do some songs stick in our heads for infuriatingly long periods of time? According to the first large-scale study of its kind, it’s all about their combination of upbeat tempos, easy-to-remember melodies, and a little something unexpected. The new research looked at some of the most popular songs with this “stick factor"—and gives advice for how to get them unstuck, as well.

Tunes that we can’t seem to shake are sometimes known as earworms, or referred to in the scientific community as involuntary musical imagery. It makes sense that recent chart-toppers that get lots of radio play are more likely to find their place deep in our brains, but that theory—and the reasoning why some songs are catchier (and stickier) than others—has not been widely examined in a scientific way.

So Kelly Jakubowski, PhD, a former psychology teaching fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London, set out to do just that. Between 2010 and 2013, she and and her fellow researchers asked 3,000 people about their most frequent earworm, and compared those tunes' melodic features to other songs that were just as popular during the same time period (based on U.K. music charts), but were not named in the survey.

They found that the songs commonly cited as earworms were more likely to have fast tempos and, overall, fairly generic melodic contours. An example of a common contour pattern can be heard in Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, where the first phrase rises in pitch and the second falls, Jakubowski noted in a press release.

This rising-and-falling pitch pattern is followed in other nursery rhymes, as well, which makes them easy for young children to remember. And it's used in plenty of pop music, too, she says—like the beginning of Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger,” one of the most common earworms named in the study.

But earworms also tend to have some unique and unusual intervals, such as musical leaps or repeated notes, that set them apart from the average pop song. Jakubowski cites the opening notes of “Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple, the chorus of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” or the instrumental riffs of “My Sharona” by the Knack as examples.

"Our findings show that you can to some extent predict which songs are going to get stuck in people's heads based on the song's melodic content,” said Jakubowski, who’s now a research assistant in the Department of Music at Durham University. “This could help aspiring songwriters or advertisers write a jingle everyone will remember for days or months afterwards.”

The study confirmed the idea that frequent and recent exposure to a song make it more likely to become an earworm, and that people who sing and listen to music often tend to experience this phenomenon more than others. It also found that words, images, and other associations can bring songs to mind, often from deep in our memories.

"We now also know that, regardless of the chart success of a song, there are certain features of the melody that make it more prone to getting stuck in people's heads like some sort of private musical screensaver,” said Jakubowski.

But here’s the part of the study you’ve probably been waiting for: what to do about it when it happens to you. Based on survey responses of what’s worked for other people, the authors make three recommendations:

1. Engage with the song. Many people said that listening to a song all the way through helps quiet the constant loop in their heads.

2. Distract yourself. Thinking about or listening to another song helps some people, too. In the study—which surveyed Brits—the top-named “cure song” was “God Save the Queen.” (Maybe the U.S. equivalent is the “Star Spangled Banner?”)

3. Let it be. Other people reported that the best way to get rid of an earworm was to just try not to think about it, and let it fade away naturally on its own.

Jakubowski says that 90 percent of us get songs stuck in our heads at least once a week, normally when the brain is not doing much—while we’re in the shower, walking, or doing mindless chores, for example. Further research on this topic could potentially help scientists understand how brain networks involved in perception, emotion, memory, and spontaneous thought behave in different people, she says.

The study, which was published today in the academic journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, lists the following as the most frequently named earworms. (Remember, the survey was done between 2010 and 2013.) We apologize in advance for bringing them up, as we know you’ll be humming them all week long.

Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
Can't Get You Out Of My Head – Kylie Minogue
Don't Stop Believing – Journey
Somebody That I Used To Know – Gotye
Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5
California Gurls – Katy Perry
Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
Alejandro – Lady Gaga
Poker Face – Lady Gaga

 

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

 

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How to Stop Blushing So Much

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Literature is full of blushing characters: Everyone from Elizabeth Bennet to Hermione Granger—heck, even the ax-wielding Annie Wilkes from Misery—occasionally blushes, and as a result, the reader tends to like them all the more. (Until, you know, that ax scene.) But what’s cute in a Jane Austen novel isn’t necessarily endearing to the shareholders at your annual company-wide meeting. … Or is it? 

“Blushing is quite unique,” says Rowland Miller, PhD, a psychology professor at Sam Houston State University who specializes in social emotions. When humans are faced with certain threats, the fight-or-flight response kicks in, and blood is diverted away from the skin, to the muscles. The opposite occurs when we blush—the blood flow increases to the skin via the veins of the upper neck, chest, and face.

So why does your autonomic nervous system want to throw you under the bus? Well, it may actually be trying to help you. “Blushing serves a useful function,” says Miller. “It’s an authentic, non-verbal apology for misbehavior.” And socially speaking, "misbehavior" has a pretty broad definition—leaving your fly unzipped or mispronouncing a word can count.

RELATED: These Personality Traits Are Linked to a Healthier Sex Life

Blushing is important, Miller says, because people who convey remorse are less likely to be ostracized by their peers. “If someone misbehaves and remains calm, they aren’t as well liked,” he explains. Example: If you knocked your friend’s iPhone into a swimming pool and just shrugged your shoulders, you would likely then have one less friend.

Research supports the theory that blushing helps us: People think better of us if we turn a little red after we make a social faux pas—more so than if we don’t blush, according to one 2009 study in the journal Emotion. And a 2011 study by the same group of researchers found that people who blushed after doing something wrong were more likely to regain their partner’s trust during a subsequent task. (Interestingly, people were less likely to trust partners who expressed embarrassment by averting their gaze and suppressing a smile; that expression was perceived as amused rather than ashamed.)

“You can’t blush on command, so if you do [blush], you’re perceived to be truly remorseful,” says Miller.  “You can’t be embarrassed about something if you don’t care [about it].”

RELATED: How You Feel About Facebook 'Likes' Says Something About Your Personality

Okay, you might ask, then why do I blush when I give a speech in public? One theory: Back in grade school, being singled out for good or bad behavior usually resulted in some kind of consequence, either from your peers or your teachers, says Dr. Miller. And those memories (do we ever get over 5th grade, really?) might be enough to trigger a blush as an adult, he explains.

So how do you make yourself stop blushing? It’s actually pretty hard. And, in fact, thinking about it might make it worse: One study published in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy found that people who were told they were blushing (even if they weren’t), blushed more. “Believing that one will blush can act as a self-fulfilling prophecy,” the study authors wrote.

If you can’t psych that redness out of your cheeks, you can do the next best thing: Pretend as if it doesn’t bother you. Because really, it shouldn’t. Even though research shows that people think others look down on them for blushing, the exact opposite is true, says Miller. “Blushing is charming, and audiences judge people who are blushing more positively.” Realizing that your blushing makes you even more likeable, he says, might just be the best way to keep it under control.

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5 Things Everyone Should Know About Brain Tumors

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Earlier this summer, retired U.S. soccer player Lauren Holiday was sailing through her first pregnancy when suddenly, she began experiencing painful headaches. An MRI revealed a tumor on the right side of the 28-year-old's brain near her orbital socket, the Times-Picayune reports. 

Fortunately, the two-time Olympic gold medalist's growth is benign, operable, and not a risk to Holiday's unborn daughter. She's scheduled to have the tumor removed about six weeks after her delivery.

Though Holiday has a positive prognosis, her story is still scary because she's young and otherwise healthy—elite-athlete-level healthy. But next time you get a piercing headache, don't jump to any conclusions. The ones brought on by brain tumors aren't aren't your average headaches, says John G. Golfinos, MD, chair of the department of neurosurgery and co-director of the Brain Tumor Center at NYU Langone Medical Center. They're persistent, and tend to be worse in the morning and improve throughout the day. “That’s because when people are lying flat, the pressure in the skull and brain goes up, and during the day some of the pressure starts to go away,” he explains. What's more, brain tumor headaches are often associated with nausea and vomiting.

More good news: brain tumors are pretty rare. You have just a 1% chance of developing a malignant brain tumor in your lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. 

Here, Dr. Golfinos reveals more facts to know about brain tumors: 

Not all brain tumors are cancerous

“There’s a whole spectrum and range of outcomes for brain tumors,” says Dr. Golfinos. As in Holiday’s case, some are benign, “which means they grow very slowly in the brain or just outside the brain,” he explains. Others are malignant, grow very quickly, and are incurable.

RELATED: Early Signs of Stroke You Need to Know—Even If You're Young

Even benign tumors can cause major issues

The reason brain tumors can be so risky is that the skull is a thick, confined space: “So anything that grows inside or just outside the brain can take up a lot of room and press on important parts of the brain, causing a lot of problems,” he says. “That’s why we say with brain tumors, it’s not just what type of tumor is it, but where is it.”

The problems can include loss of vision, difficulties with speech, issues understanding language, or weakness on one side of the body. Symptoms can be subtle in the beginning, especially if they're caused by a benign, slow-growing tumor, says Dr. Golfinos. But if you notice any of those changes, it’s a good idea to see your doctor.

RELATED: 5 Times You Really, Seriously Need to Go to the ER

Brain tumors can’t escape your skull

Brain tumors are unique in that they can't spread to other organs, since they don't have the same access to the blood stream that tumors in other parts of the body do, says Dr. Golfinos. “The brain itself is a very privileged part of the body,” he notes. “It's good at keeping things out, but also good at keeping things in.”

Your phone won’t cause a tumor

You may have heard the myth that constantly talking on your cell causes cancer. According to Dr. Golfinos, you have nothing to worry about, since there's no good evidence to suggest this is true. The reality, he says, is that “[w]e really don’t understand what causes brain tumors.”

RELATED: 4 Health Rumors You Seriously Need to Stop Believing

You can't prevent tumors from developing

“Many people ask me if there’s anything they can do to avoid brain tumors,” says Dr. Golfinos. “And right now the answer to that is ‘no.’” That said, to play it safe, Dr. Golfinos recommends avoiding exposure to excess radiation whenever possible (by opting for an MRI over a CT scan for example), especially for anyone under the age of 18. 

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