Friday, May 13, 2011

Pilates -- What is it and how to do it properly

Pilates is a form of exercise that targets the core of the body. It works on the abdomen, the back and the hips while using the entire body. It increases flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination, and improves posture. The exercises are slow and controlled and each exercise uses the muscles to its maximum capacity. Since pilates utilizes all the muscles in the body, it is more intense and increases the level of resistance in the body. 

Joseph H Pilates, the founder of the pilates methodology was born in Germany. He worked as a nurse in the First World War and during that he developed exercise methods and equipment for injured and immobilized war patients. He believed that physical and mental health are correlated and designed exercise programs to improve concentration, precision, control, breathing, and flowing movements.
Pilates can be done using a number of equipments; however, a mat is sufficient. A few things one must keep in mind while practicing pilates are:
Be comfortable: wear comfortable clothes. You need to do pilates barefoot preferably on a mat. If you are uncomfortable or feel the strain, you should stop immediately. Initially, do not force yourself to do ant posture that you cannot handle.
Breath easy: pilates combines the moves with easy breathing. You need to concentrate on your muscles and unite your mind and body to relieve stress.
Get your heart rate going: you may work the exercises quickly to get your heart rate going.
Be consistent: avoid quick jerky movements and let your body move in a flow.
Enjoy while you do it: make the regime diverse and interesting and enjoy every step of what you are doing.
Brought to you in association with Desi Dieter

Is Blu-Ray worth its Price?

Expert Q&A

I saw a movie on Blu-ray for the first time at a friend's house and I was surprised by how much better it looked than DVD. Prices on players now start at around $300. Should I jump into the format?

Advice By Mike Gaughn Men's Life Today

While $300 is relatively affordable, it’s still quadruple the price of a decent standard-def DVD player. Blu-ray is definitely worth this higher cost if you have the right TV setup. If you don’t, you may not notice the spike in quality.
To appreciate the high-definition images, you need an HDTV with at least a 42-inch screen -- and you’ll really see the benefit if your TV’s 50 inches or larger. But you won’t see any improvement if you hook your Blu-ray player up wrong, so make sure to use a component-video, or preferably, an HDMI connection (don’t even think about using those yellow composite cables).

One advantage of Blu-ray -- and high-def in general -- is that you can sit closer to the screen than you could with older, analog TVs -- at least when you’re watching stuff in high-def. Sitting at a distance about twice the screen size will do the trick (example: a bit more than eight feet from a 50-inch TV).
For surround sound, you’ll want an A/V receiver than can either accept or decode Dolby TrueHD, which will give you way better sound than the Dolby Digital from DVD.

So, to sum up: If you have good TV and sound system, Blu-ray can blow DVD away.

How to create stand-out resumes using digital techniques

Written By Thomas P. Farley for our content partner Men's Life Today -- Handpicked for you by our team.

Make Your Resume Stand out in the Digital Age

You’re a job seeker who’s just crafted an e-mail you’re positive will get you an interview for your dream job. After attaching your killer resume you hit “send” and wait for a call from the hiring manager. And wait. And wait. Weeks later, you’re shocked to learn the position has gone to someone else. You never even got in the door.

If this has happened to you, chances are good that a computer program -- not a human being -- eliminated you from consideration. In an age in which there are far more job seekers than jobs, an increasing number of businesses are relying on software to weed out applicants. “The vast majority of companies with 50 or more employees are using this software,” says Chandlee Bryan, a certified professional resume writer based in New York. So how do you ensure you don’t fall victim to a thumbs-down from a machine? You’ve got to give the machine what it wants: keywords.

Deborah Bell, a certified career counselor based in Santa Rosa, Calif., recalls the time when, as an experiment, she answered an ad with nothing but a long series of words lifted straight from the job description. “I got an e-mail back saying that I matched the job description and that someone would be calling me shortly to set up an interview.” The call never actually came -- apparently, humans are still good for something -- but the fact that her application made it as far as it did underscores how important keywords are for getting noticed.

What’s the Word?
To determine your keywords, Michele Dagle, a certified Los Angeles-based professional resume writer, suggests crafting the text by cribbing from several job listings similar to the position you’re seeking. “Other excellent sources of these terms are industry websites, blogs and e-newsletters,” she says.
Once you’ve collected a batch of ads, you can quickly suss out the most important words by pasting all the text you’ve collected into the website, says Bryan (who also co-authored The Twitter Job Search Guide). In the resulting tag cloud, look out for the words that literally loom largest (the size directly correlates to frequency). Those are the terms you definitely want to use in your resume.

Bobbing and Weaving
So what’s the best way to work those words into your resume? Not by sneaking them in, Bryan counsels, explaining she has heard of candidates who “hide” keywords in their resumes by changing the words from black to white so they don’t appear on-screen or in print. This subliminal scheme goes awry, however, when the resume is scanned and converted to plain text. Suddenly, those stowaway keywords go from invisible to visible, and a recruiter will easily be able to read between the lines, so to speak. “If you don’t have the skills, don’t use those keywords,” says Dagle. You might get an interview, but you will be eliminated once it becomes apparent you don’t have the skill set you said you did.
Your goal is to get the important keywords into both your executive summary and body of the resume. Use the terms in your bullet points to convey your experience and, where possible, associate them with specific accomplishments you made at each job.

It’s not necessary to include every keyword, says Bryan. “As long as you’ve got 60 to 75 percent of what they’re looking for, you should most certainly apply.”

Format Wars
And when you’re finally ready to transmit your qualifications, make sure to follow the submission instructions. For example, don’t send a PDF if the ad calls for a Microsoft Word file. And be careful with non-text characters such as bullet points, which can show up differently depending on the computer. Last but not least, do not title your attachment “resume.doc” -- be certain your last name is in the document name. In this market, if you give a company the opportunity to disregard or forget your application, it most likely will.
Thomas P. Farley is the career writer for Men’s Life Today. An etiquette and lifestyle expert, he is also the editor of Modern Manners: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Social Graces.

Advice on switching jobs in a bad economy

Written By Thomas P. Farley for our Content Partner Men's Life Today -- Handpicked for you by our team.
Switching Jobs in Bad Times: Should You Make the Leap?

Have you lost that lovin’ feeling when it comes to your job? Do you daydream about your boss’s stunned expression as you triumphantly tender your letter of resignation? We’ve all been there. Just like staying in a long-term relationship that has run its course, showing up every day to an office when your heart is not in it can be a recipe for resentment. Yet with the Federal Reserve predicting that the unemployment rate will remain around 9 percent throughout 2011, upping and quitting seems like a dicey proposition. So what’s a guy to do?

Stay Close to Home
“I always counsel people to look within before looking outside,” says Stella Angelakos, a New York City­-based career adviser. “Before you leave, explore opportunities within your existing company.” To do so, she says, become friendly with people in the departments that are of most interest to you. Let co-workers whom you trust know you’re seeking a new position. If you have a good relationship with your boss, he can be your ally too. On the other hand, if you fear retribution once you admit you’re itching for a change, talk with a member of your company’s human resources department instead. If you’re a good worker, it’s in their best interest to try to retain you.

Look Before You Leap
But what if you’re at a small firm with little room for movement? Or perhaps you want to change industries entirely? Don’t be afraid to take those steps, but take them wisely. Do your research, says Angelakos. Plan to make your move at a time of year when your industry does most of its hiring. Talk to recruiters. And make sure you know where you’re headed: “You don’t want to take a job that’s worse than the one you left,” warns Angelakos.

To prepare for your jump, get your references in order and make sure your resume is ready to rock and roll. Put out feelers with your network of friends, family members and former colleagues, letting them know you’re exploring new options. Finally, says California-based recruiter Margo Morgenlader of Professional Recruitment Solutions, “Clean up your online brand.” This starts first and foremost with Facebook, which most employers will look at when researching your background. “You should have a spotless online presence -- even if your presence in life is not so spotless,” advises Morgenlander. Unlike Facebook, a website that can really shore up -- rather than sink -- your job prospects is LinkedIn. “It’s a great way to deepen your connections,” she says, pointing out that it can take a lot of the heavy lifting out of networking.

If You Have to, Leap Before You Look
What if you’re so overworked or in despair that you can’t get in the right head space for a job search? If you can afford the loss of paycheck -- potentially for six months or more -- then go for it. “I would never advocate people being so miserable in a job that they can’t go another day,” says Morgenlander. But when you start going on job interviews, she warns, “Don’t air dirty laundry about your old place of work.” Keep the tone positive. You don’t want to give prospective employers any reason to doubt your integrity or commitment.
The fact is you may actually find it a whole lot easier to remain positive if you cut your ties to your old job before looking anew. Many individuals, freed from the fear of losing the paycheck that kept them at a job well past its “sell-by” date, are surprised to discover they can get actually get by on less. “Once people get over the shock of not having money, as long as they’re doing something they really like, they tend to be happier,” says Angelakos.

In retrospect, whenever you determine the time has come to tender a resignation, the act should be a true declaration of independence -- a chance to reclaim your life, liberty and yes, your pursuit of happiness.

Thomas P. Farley is a regular writer for Men’s Life Today. A manners and lifestyle expert, he is also the creator of the blog What Manners Most and host of the web television show "New York Insider TV." Follow him on Twitter at mistermanners and new york insider.

How to live healthy to have a good sex life

Written By Michael Castleman for our Content Partner Men's Life Today -- Handpicked for you by our team.

Live Healthy Now -- Have More Sex Later

Think what you do today has no bearing on your sex life tomorrow, or the day after? Think again.

The plight of the typical young man isn’t the inability to have sex; it's usually the inability to find someone to have sex with.
Fact is, though, if you think you don’t have to worry about erectile dysfunction (ED) until your hair starts to turn gray, think again. Even in your early 20s, chances are your arteries are already undergoing changes that may culminate years from now in ED.
Fundamentally, erection depends on blood flow into the penis. The more blood, the more reliable and firm your erection. But when arteries become narrowed by cholesterol-rich atherosclerotic plaque deposits, less blood flows into the penis and erections wilt. This becomes apparent by the time a man hits 50.
Harvard researchers tracked 31,742 middle-aged men for 14 years and found that ED is strongly linked to lifestyle factors that spur the growth of atherosclerotic plaques: smoking, obesity, heavy drinking and lack of exercise.
But plaques don’t pop up out of nowhere when you hit 50. They start to develop in childhood. Autopsies of American males killed in their late teens and 20s in accidents or in war consistently show the beginnings of atherosclerotic plaques, which means the beginning of ED.
Meanwhile, a healthy lifestyle keeps blood flowing freely through the arteries and preserves erection function. Healthy living doesn’t mean you’ll have the ability of legends at 90. But if you want to function sexually on Social Security, you’d be smart to adopt a healthy lifestyle now. Here’s how:
Get Regular, Moderate Exercise
Exercise is crucial for arterial health and blood flow into the penis. Exercise lowers cholesterol, which minimizes the deposits (plaques) on artery walls that narrow them and reduce blood flow. A study of middle-aged men at the University of California, San Diego, shows that as regular, moderate exercise increased, erections become more reliable. ED-preventive exercise doesn’t require extreme sports, but rather the equivalent of brisk walking for about an hour a day. “No question about it,” says Hank Wuh, M.D., author of Sexual Fitness. “Regular exercise improves erection function and sex.”
Eat Less Meat, Cheese and Junk Food, and More fruits and Vegetables
Meat, cheese and junk food are high in saturated (animal) fat. Like cholesterol, this fat narrows the arteries, limiting blood flow to the penis. Fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, contain antioxidant nutrients that minimize plaques and improve arterial blood flow. Italian researchers identified 65 men with incipient ED and asked half of them to eat less meat and cheese, and more fruits and vegetables. After two years, those who maintained a high-fat diet continued to have erection difficulties. But those who increased their fruit and vegetable consumption reported significantly less ED.
Lose Excess Weight
According to the Harvard study of middle-aged men, obesity is strongly associated with ED, and weight loss improves erection function. That’s not surprising. As we’ve seen, exercise and a diet low in saturated fat improve erections. They are also cornerstones of weight control. Studies at the Duke University Diet and Fitness Center show that as men lose weight and become more physically active, they report better erections.
Stop Smoking
Cigarettes greatly accelerate the growth of artery-narrowing plaques. A study at the New England Research Institute in Watertown, Mass., shows that smoking almost doubles risk of ED. Australian epidemiologist Christopher Millett, Ph.D., says, “Health promotion programs should use the link between tobacco and ED to help convince men to quit smoking.”
Manage Your Stress
Many young men feel like they have heavy weights on their shoulders. In one recent survey, 60 percent of Americans said they feel they’re “under significant stress” at least once a week. And since the stock market crash last fall, ComPsych, the nation’s largest employee-assistance program, reports that requests for psychotherapy have surged 40 percent.
The biological result of this emotional stress: the release of two hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) that constrict arteries, reducing blood flow into the genitals.
The erection-firming antidote is an ongoing stress-management program. Proven stress relievers include exercise -- aerobic or non-aerobic (e.g., yoga) -- meditation, music (playing or listening to), massage, laughter, hot baths, gardening, caring for a pet, visualization (of relaxing scenes) and quality time with friends, family or a lover. Incorporate one or more into your daily life, or even better, combine them: Exercise with friends or bathe with your girlfriend, for instance.
Bottom line: Couch potatoes are on a one-way trip to ED. But if you get off the sofa, work out and switch from Big Macs to big salads -- with low-fat dressing, of course -- you’re much more likely to maintain firm, reliable erections as you get older and to enjoy satisfying sex.