Eat Right! The Best Pre- and Post-Workout Foods For Your Workout
If you truly are what you eat, then my body must be 80% water and 20% pickle juice. Clearly, a diet of salty brine is not ideal before a tough workout. So what is?
To go full throttle at the gym or wherever our fitness adventures may take us, we need to eat right. But the definition of “right” changes depending on the nature of upcoming or recently completed activities from yoga to running.
Thankfully, “The Bikini Chef” Susan Irby, host of “Bikini Lifestyles” on KABC AM 790 and author of myriad healthy cookbooks including the latest Substitute Yourself Skinny, offers guidelines (and her very own recipes) for eating before and after our various workouts:
Susan Irby – who hosts the likes of Venus Williams, Billy Bush and Wolfgang Puck on her radio show – is a runner herself and stresses the importance of hydration. Before and after a workout, one absolutely must drink water! When it comes to actual nourishment, she explains, “Food is like fuel for your body. And, like gas in your car, the longer the journey the more gas you’re going to need. So, if your workout is longer or more intense, you’re going to need different types and amounts of food.”
Skipping meals altogether is a big mistake: “People fall into the trap of not eating before or after, but then their workouts will start to take away from carbohydrate and muscle resources that they already have.”
Each genre of workout demands a different meal before and afterward to help maintain energy, but also balance the body for maximum results.
Before: Though yoga can be difficult, it’s generally lower impact than certain other types of exercise. It’s also good for your digestion, so there’s less concern about upsetting the stomach. For a morning yoga class, for example, you want to eat fibrous foods like a whole grain cereal perhaps or yogurt – Greek or traditional – with fresh berries. Some protein will help build muscles and healthy fats are great, but also that fiber content will further promote digestion and won’t weigh you down. Something heavier will take more time for your body to breakdown and digest, so it won’t be as fuel efficient.
For Example: Kashi GOLEAN cereal w/almond milk.
After: You want to replenish after a workout, so try a sports energy drink. But then – again if it’s morning – you’ll want to have a healthy, simple snack that won’t make you nauseous like an egg white burrito, while your body is still burning calories. It will help build more muscle.
For Example: An ACTIVATE workout drink and a breakfast burrito.
Before: Before you go bouncing around, you don’t want to eat food that might make you nauseous as your stomach is jostled. Because of the physicality of the exercise, you’ll need a little more energy, but you don’t want a heavy meal. For a midday cardio workout, eat a healthy snack beforehand and your actual lunch afterward. Again, high-fiber foods break down well, so eat a banana, trail mix or an energy bar. You mainly need energy and you’re going to get that from healthier carbs, fruits, grains and good fats like nuts.
For Example: A high protein and fiber KIRSCHBAR (in Coffee Mocha, Almond Crunch or Cookies & Cream) from trainer David Kirsch.
After: For lunch, after your workout, choose a salad with mixed greens and some lean protein like chicken breast or grilled fish. Stay away from bottled dressings or anything that has high fat content. You’ve worked your metabolism up and your muscles are hungry, so it’s going to absorb that protein right into your muscles. If you eat high fat or processed foods, your body won’t know what to do with them and all that wonderful calorie-burning metabolism you’ve built up, will actually get slowed back down.
For Example: A lean turkey sandwich or burger (served on a portobello mushroom as Irby does, below) would work well too!
Before: Eat 2 to 3 ounces of protein before you work out and, again, stay away from heavy meals. Your muscles are going to be working extra hard, so they need that type of food to sustain you throughout the workout. Your body is depleting those resources, so you need to introduce them back in. Portion control is also really important because, if you consume too much, your muscles will focus on digesting that food instead of the workout.
For Example: A turkey breast.
After: After a good strength training workout, eat 4 to 6 ounces of protein and healthy grains like brown or Basmati rice. Stay away from heavier starches like potatoes and reward your body with yummy pieces of grilled fish or shrimp and vegetables. For a balanced meal, it’s very important to include high fiber veggies like with your protein.
For Example: A piece of salmon with kale or Irby’s grilled shrimp salad.
Adds Irby, “I wish people would eat this way most of the time anyway because they would have more energy and also find that they can actually even eat a little bit more. If you eat the right kinds of foods, then your body is going to consume them correctly.”
There is so much information floating around on the Internet, in magazines, and by word of mouth that who knows what is true anymore. Some people say it’s all in your head, while others say it’s all in my belly fat! Read this article from Web-MD to uncover some fascinating fitness myths!
Top 9 Fitness Myths — Busted!
Think you know the facts about getting fit? You may be surprised to learn how many are really fiction.
It’s easy to fall into the trap: A workout buddy passes along an exercise tip, and then you pass it on to several folks you know. Your kid’s coach gives you advice, and sure enough you hear the same thing from several other parents. So you figure it must be true. But experts say that in the world of fitness, myths and half-truths abound – and some of them may be keeping you and your family from getting the best and safest workout.
“Some myths are just harmless half-truths, but many others can actually be harmful,” says professional triathlete and personal coach Eric Harr, author of The Portable Personal Trainer. “They can cause frustration in working out and sometimes even lead to injury,” he notes.
One reason myths get started, says Harr, is that we all react to exercise a little differently. So what’s true for one person may not be true for another.
“In this sense you sometimes have to find your own ‘exercise truths’ – the things that are true for you,” says Harr.
That said, experts say there are also some fitness myths that just need busting, and the sooner the better!
To help put you and your family on the path to a healthier, safer, and more enjoyable workout, WebMD got the lowdown from several top experts on what’s true and what’s not when it comes to exercise tips.
Fitness Myth No. 1: Running on a treadmill puts less stress on your knees than running on asphalt or pavement.
“Running is a great workout, but it can impact the knees — and since it’s the force of your body weight on your joints that causes the stress, it’s the same whether you’re on a treadmill or on asphalt,” says Todd Schlifstein, DO, a clinical instructor at New York University Medical Center’s Rusk Institute.
The best way to reduce knee impact, says Schlifstein, is to vary your workout.
“If you mix running with other cardio activities, like an elliptical machine, or you ride a stationary bike, you will reduce impact on your knees so you’ll be able to run for many more years,” says Schlifstein.
Fitness Myth No. 2: Doing crunches or working on an “ab machine” will get rid of belly fat.
Don’t believe everything you hear on those late-night infomercials! Harr says that while an ab-crunching device might “help strengthen the muscles around your midsection and improve your posture,” being able to “see” your abdominal muscles has to do with your overall percentage of body fat. If you don’t lose the belly fat, he says, you won’t see the ab muscles.
But can doing ab crunches help you to lose that belly fat? Experts say no.
“You can’t pick and choose areas where you’d like to burn fat,” says Phil Tyne, director of the fitness center at the Baylor Tom Landry Health & Wellness Center in Dallas. So crunches aren’t going to target weight loss in that area.
“In order to burn fat, you should create a workout that includes both cardiovascular and strength-training elements. This will decrease your overall body fat content,” including the area around your midsection, he says.
Fitness Myth No. 3: An aerobic workout will boost your metabolism for hours after you stop working out.
This statement is actually true — but the calorie burn is probably not nearly as much as you think!
Harr says that while your metabolism will continue to burn at a slightly higher rate after you finish an aerobic workout, the amount is not statistically significant. In fact, it allows you to burn only about 20 extra calories for the day. While there’s a little bit more of a metabolic boost after strength training, he says, it’s still marginal.
“It doesn’t really count towards your caloric burn,” he says.
Fitness Myth No. 4: Swimming is a great weight loss activity.
While swimming is great for increasing lung capacity, toning muscles, and even helping to burn off excess tension, Harr says the surprising truth is that unless you are swimming for hours a day, it may not help you lose much weight.
“Because the buoyancy of the water is supporting your body, you’re not working as hard as it would if, say, you were moving on your own steam — like you do when you run,” says Harr.
Further, he says, it’s not uncommon to feel ravenous when you come out of the water.
“It may actually cause you to eat more than you normally would, so it can make it harder to stay with an eating plan,” he says.
Fitness Myth No. 5: Yoga can help with all sorts of back pain.
The truth is that yoga can help with back pain, but it’s not equally good for all types.
“If your back pain is muscle-related, then yes, the yoga stretches and some of the positions can help. It can also help build a stronger core, which for many people is the answer to lower back pain,” says Schlifstein.
But if your back problems are related other problems (such as a ruptured disc) yoga is not likely to help, he says. What’s more, it could actually irritate the injury and cause you more pain.
If you do have back pain, get your doctor’s OK before starting any type of exercise program.
Fitness Myth No. 6: If you’re not working up a sweat, you’re not working hard enough.
“Sweating is not necessarily an indicator of exertion,” says Tyne. “Sweating is your body’s way of cooling itself.”
It’s possible to burn a significant number of calories without breaking a sweat: Try taking a walk or doing some light weight training.
Fitness Myth No. 7: As long as you feel OK when you’re working out, you’re probably not overdoing it.
One of the biggest mistakes people tend to make when starting or returning to an exercise program is doing too much too soon. The reason we do that, says Schlifstein, is because we feel OK while we are working out.
“You don’t really feel the overdoing it part until a day or two later,” he says.
No matter how good you feel when you return to an activity after an absence, Schlifstein says you should never try to duplicate how much or how hard you worked in the past. Even if you don’t feel it at the moment, you’ll feel it in time, he says — and it could take you back out of the game again.
Fitness Myth No. 8: Machines are a safer way to exercise because you’re doing it right every time.
Although it may seem as if an exercise machine automatically puts your body in the right position and helps you do all the movements correctly, that’s only true if the machine is properly adjusted for your weight and height, experts say.
“Unless you have a coach or a trainer or someone figure out what is the right setting for you, you can make just as many mistakes in form and function, and have just as high a risk of injury, on a machine as if you work out with free weights or do any other type of nonmachine workout,” says Schlifstein.
Fitness Myth No. 9: When it comes to working out, you’ve got to feel some pain if you’re going to gain any benefits.
Of all the fitness rumors ever to have surfaced, experts agree that the “no pain-no gain” holds the most potential for harm.
While you should expect to have some degree of soreness a day or two after working out, Schlifstein says, that’s very different from feeling pain while you are working out.
“A fitness activity should not hurt while you are doing it, and if it does, then either you are doing it wrong, or you already have an injury,” he says.
As for “working through the pain,” experts don’t advise it. They say that if it hurts, stop, rest, and see if the pain goes away. If it doesn’t go away, or if it begins again or increases after you start to work out, Schlifstein says, see a doctor.
Spring Break is just a week away, which means it is the perfect time to know what is needed to be physically fit and get that perfect bikini body.
One of the top body insecurities women complain about are the abdominal muscles. In the eyes of women, the perfect bikini body cannot exist without a flatter stomach.
However, second year graduate student and fitness graduate assistant Julia Pohlman discourages doing repetitive crunches every day.
“It is the fat that’s over top the muscle that creates the problem,” Pohlman said. “You could have a 6-pack under that but it is not going to show if you have the fat.”
She recommends doing plank workouts to strengthen the core as well as exercises on a fitness ball and cardio. Just doing one or the other will not get the results. Getting the heart rate up with cardio and core exercises will decrease belly fat.
Pohlman also recommended turbo kick classes, such as kickboxing, which targets the muscles in the core while giving the body a good cardio workout.
With this type of exercise, there are also many misconceptions.
“With cardio, some people think they can run all the time, and they will just jump on the treadmill and bust it out three times a week,” Pohlman said. “But it is important to switch it up.”
To switch up the cardio, try the rowing machine one day, the elliptical another. The Student Recreation and Wellness Center has a vast amount of cardio equipment, including the stair step and stationary bikes which will target different muscle groups. Working different muscles groups will prevent the body from plateauing or becoming too used to the workout.
According to Pohlman, another important component that pairs with cardio is strength training. This does include the pesky abdominal muscles but focuses on the entire strength of the body.
Strength training boosts the metabolism. That means, Pohlman said, that if the metabolism is higher from strength training, the body will burn more calories even when the body is at rest while watching television or lying around.
There is another component to being physically fit that many people forget about. Stretching is common in the routine of a dancer or a professional athlete, but not as often for the average person or college student.
“I think the average person is uninformed about the need to stretch, and people just don’t do it because its boring,”Pohlman said, “People think, ‘Well, stretching isn’t going to get me the bikini body that I want. Why would I spend 10-15 minutes stretching,?’ But it is so important.”
Nicole Koontz, assistant director of Ball State’s adult physical fitness program and instructor in exercise science, said stretching will improve blood pressure, weight, soreness and circulation.
Ball State University dance instructor Susan Koper said she believes dance helps cover all of the basic needs of the body, including stretching.
“The older I get, I feel, the more important it [stretching] is to me,” Koper said. “After I take class and I do stretches, I feel physically and emotionally better.”
When performing stretches, Koper, Pohlman and Koontz all agree it is important to hold them for at least 30 seconds. Although the total amount of time varies in different studies, the 30-second mark is when the muscles have just begun to relax and expand. Koontz said that holding the stretch for 30 seconds is ideal according to her research, butPohlman said that holding it for about a minute would be even more beneficial.
For some good workouts that cover all three components of being physically fit — strength training, cardio and stretching — there are many online such as P90X on Youtube. Also, the rec center offers Zumba, Turbo Kick, Pilates, and yoga classes that focus on the different components.
Spring Break is just around the corner. Today could be the right time to start a routine bikini body workout.
Know Your Needs
Before you choose a shoe for gym training, it is important to think about what you plan to do at the gym. Common gym activities include weightlifting, exercising on various cardiovascular training machines, stretching and participating in a variety of group fitness classes. Within those activities, you may have particular favorites that are important to plan for. Perhaps you spend most of your time jogging on the treadmill, lifting moderately heavy weights, going to a spin class or doing agility drills with a personal trainer. If you run or jog regularly at the gym, you may wish to purchase a durable pair of running shoes. If you spend most of your time in spin class, you may want to buy specialized spinning shoes. If you do a bit of everything, a cross trainer is the perfect shoe for you.
Types of Athletic Shoes
There are several types of athletic shoes that are good for gym training. Court shoes are made to provide a great deal of lateral and mid-foot support, durability and traction on court surfaces, which are important for regular basketball, racquetball and tennis players. Running shoes are specifically designed for frequent straight running, such as on a treadmill, but are not designed for the lateral movements performed in court sports. Walking shoes are designed for a smooth heel-to-toe motion, but should not be used for running or court sports. If you engage in these activities on a regular basis, it is a good idea to invest in shoes specifically designed for them. If you are looking for a shoe that is versatile and performs well in a variety of gym activities, cross trainers are the best choice. They offer basic cushioning, durability and stability for many activities.
Features of Cross Trainers
Cross-trainers are an economical choice for gym-goers who are looking for a shoe that performs well in many gym activities. The soles of cross-trainers are stable and have good enough traction to provide moderate support for lateral, or side-to-side, movements. The soles are also thick and durable enough to perform well on hard gym floors, court surfaces and even asphalt. Cross-trainers also offer moderate cushioning throughout. This cushioning is usually dense, which gives the shoes a feeling of stability. Most are made with leather or synthetic uppers, which provide some ankle support, while others use a more breathable mesh material to dissipate heat.
Getting the Right Fit
When buying shoes for gym training, it is very important to get the right fit. Getting the right fit will prevent blisters, foot pain and general discomfort. Even if you choose to buy your shoes online, going to a store and trying them on beforehand is worthwhile. When shopping for gym shoes, it is best to try them on at the end of the day or after a typical workout. This way, your feet will be at their largest and the fit will be similar to the way they will fit at the gym. Try and wear the same types of socks that you usually wear at the gym. Thick socks can make a big difference in how your shoes feel on your feet. If possible, have both feet measured and try on the size suitable for your largest foot. When the shoe is on, you should be able to freely move your toes and they should feel comfortable. Your heel should not slip as you walk. Check to make sure the shoes are laced the way you wear them. If they are laced a different way, take the time to re-lace them, as it can impact the distribution of pressure on your foot.
Where to Buy Gym Shoes
Many stores sell shoes for gym training. Stores like the Foot Locker and Ladies’ Foot Locker specialize in selling a wide selection of athletic shoes and some athletic clothing. Other retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods, The Sports Authority and Play It Again Sports also sell a large selection of athletic shoes within a larger range of athletic gear and equipment. You can also look at specialty stores, like Road Runner’s Sports, if you are looking for a shoe for a particular sport or activity. Lastly, there are many places online to purchase shoes for gym training. Zappos.com, Eastbay.com, Payless.com and even Amazon.com sell athletic shoes.
Brrrrr It’s cold out side. I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t make me want to get out of bed. Also, the darker it gets earlier on in the day…I’m just feeling tired all the time!
According to studies done, fatigue is the first sign of dehydration. So, if you’re feeling tired during the day try chugging a class of water or two for a nice pick-me-up!
Don’t believe me…read more
Body pH Can Effect Your Energy, Digestion, & Health
The consumption of too little water is a common source of weakness and fatigue. Drinking water will perk you up just as a wilted flower perks up in water. To understand how water can help give you a midday boost…all you have to do is understand how your body’s pH level works.
What is pH? PH is a scale that measures how acidic or alkaline a substance is. The scale ranges from 1 to 14 with 1 being very acid, 7 neutral and 14 very alkaline. So what does pH have to do with you and your blood? Well, the pH of your blood is extremely important. The ideal pH level for your blood is right around 7.35 and your body goes to enormous lengths to maintain this level. Why? Because if your blood pH were to vary 1 or 2 points in either direction, it would change the electrical chemistry in your body, there would be no electrical power and in short order you would drop dead. As you can see, maintaining the right pH level in your blood is pretty important!!
With this in mind a good way to avoid upsetting this delicate bio chemical balance would be to take a look at those things that can compromise the maintenance of the ideal pH level in your body. And what is the main culprit in this case? The answer is the creation of acid in your body. Before we look at what causes acid, here’s a graphic example to give you an idea of what can happen in the blood when your pH drops to less than ideal. Red blood cells are how oxygen is transported to all the cells in your body. As red blood cells move into the tiny, little, capillaries, the space they have to move through gets pretty small. In fact, the diameter of the capillaries gets so small that the red blood cells sometimes have to pass through these capillaries one red blood cell at a time!
Because of this, and because it’s important for the red blood cells to be able to flow easily and quickly through your body, they have a mechanism that allows them to remain separate from each other. This mechanism comes in the form of the outside of healthy red blood cells having a negative charge. This causes them to stay apart from each other, sort of like when you try to push the negative ends of two magnets together. They resist each other and stay apart.
Unfortunately, acid interferes with this very important mechanism in a pretty frightening way. Acid actually strips away the negative charge from red blood cells. The result is that your red blood cells then tend to clump together and not flow as easily. This makes it much more difficult for them to flow easily through the bloodstream. But it also makes it harder for them to move freely through those small capillaries. This means less oxygen gets to your cells. Acid also weakens the red blood cells and they begin to die. And guess what they release into your system when they die? More acid. I could describe a whole list of processes that occur when your system becomes and remains acid but I think you get the idea.
The point is that aside from the acid that is secreted into your stomach to aid digestion, acid in your body is bad. In regard to producing energy in the body, here’s an easy question for you. What do you think happens to a person’s energy level if over time their system becomes more and more acid, their biochemical balance is disrupted and their red blood cells can’t deliver oxygen and nutrients as efficiently to all their cells? The answer is simple. Their energy level drops. Dramatically. Are you beginning to get the picture here as to the importance of pH in your body? Good. Now let’s take a quick look at what causes acidity in your body and then look at steps you can take to get your body pH back to an ideal level. What exactly causes acid in the body? The primary cause of an acidic condition in your body is from what you put in your mouth.
In other words, what you eat and what you drink. And it isn’t how “acid” something may seem when you eat or drink it. It has to do with what is left over when you digest it. Specifically, does eating or drinking something leave behind an acid or alkaline “ash”. For example, I don’t know about you but I love seafood. Scallops are one of my favorites. However, when your body digests scallops, it leaves an extremely acid ash. In fact, scallops are one of the most acid foods you can eat. Unfortunately, a lot of the things most people put in their mouths create an acid ash. These include alcohol, coffee and a lot of flesh protein in your diet. Interestingly enough, stress also tends to create an acid condition in the body. So how do we improve our pH levels?
Fortunately, it is pretty easy to immediately change your pH for the better and make it more alkaline. The first step is to understand which of the foods you are eating and the drinks you are drinking are acid and which are alkaline. Then it’s simply a matter of eliminating some of the more acid foods you are eating and adding in more alkaline foods. Fortunately, there are a number of other simple causes of fatigue. In addition to drinking more water, if we eliminate these, fatigue will usually disappear. A rarely understood cause of fatigue is overeating.
It would seem that a snack, or between meal eating would be the very thing to help cure fatigue, but the reverse is actually the case. Do not overeat, use between meal snacks or heavy suppers. While a heavy supper may enable some to sleep the sleep of the drugged, it does not cause refreshment. Next morning the person awakens in a partial stupor. Chronic dehydration is often caused by diuretics such as coffee, tea, colas, and chocolate. Eating concentrated, rich, or heavy foods promotes chronic dehydration. Protein food supplements can also cause chronic dehydration. Too little exercise is another common cause of fatigue. Again it would appear that exercise would cause fatigue in itself. Not so! As the out-of-condition person begins to exercise, chronic fatigue may disappear like magic.
Want to be sharper at work? Feel less tired at home? Spend some quality time with your spouse? How about enjoying a cookie without guilt?
If you answered “yes” to all of these questions (and who wouldn’t?), exercise is the answer.
Being physically active offers benefits far beyond the obvious. (Of course, an improved physique and a clean bill of health aren’t too shabby, either.)
If you’ve been looking for the motivation to begin an exercise program or get back into working out regularly, here are 10 fitness facts that may help inspire you to get off the couch.
1. Exercise Boosts Brainpower
Not only does exercise improve your body, it helps your mental function, says certified trainer David Atkinson.
“Exercise increases energy levels and increases serotonin in the brain, which leads to improved mental clarity,” says Atkinson, director of program development for Cooper Ventures, a division of the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas.
All that makes for a more productive day.
“It is clear that those who are active and who exercise are much more productive at work,” says Todd A. Astorino, assistant professor of kinesiology at California State University-San Marcos.
Improved productivity not only makes you a better worker, it makes things better for everyone in the workplace. Companies with less wasted work hours and less sick time end up with lower health care costs — and an improved bottom line, Astorino says.
2. Movement Melts Away Stress
As much as it may stress you out just to think about exercising, once you actually start working out, you’ll experience less stress in every part of your life.
“Exercise produces a relaxation response that serves as a positive distraction,” says Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. He says it also helps elevate your mood and keep depression at bay.
You’re not the only person who will benefit from more happiness and less stress in your life. When you’re less stressed, you’re less irritable, Atkinson says — and that could improve relationships with your partner, kids, and co-workers.
3. Exercise Gives You Energy
You might be surprised at how, say, popping in a workout tape for 30 minutes in the morning can change your whole day. When endorphins are released into your bloodstream during exercise, says Astorino, “you feel much more energized the rest of the day.”
And when you improve your strength and stamina, it’s easier to accomplish everyday tasks like carrying groceries and climbing stairs. This also helps you feel more energetic over the course of the day.
A common excuse among Atkinson’s clients is that they’re too tired to exercise, he says. While exercise may make you feel more tired at first, he says, that won’t last long.
The physical tiredness you feel after working out isn’t the same as everyday fatigue, he says. Besides, once your body adjusts to exercise, you’ll have more energy than ever.
4. It’s Not That Hard to Find Time for Fitness
The key, says Atkinson, is to use your time more wisely. Think about killing two birds with one stone.
Take your kids to the park or ride bikes together, and you’re getting physical activity while enjoying family time, he says. Beyond that, go for a hike, take the kids swimming, or play hide-and-seek, tag, softball, or horseshoes in the backyard.
At work, he says, schedule a meeting on the jogging track or on the golf course.
Also, forget the idea that you have to trudge to the gym and spend an hour or more doing a formal workout. Instead, you can work short spurts of physical activity into your day.
“Everyone has 20 minutes,” Atkinson says. “Everyone has 10 minutes to jump rope, and sometimes that’s better than 20 minutes of walking or running.”
Indeed, squeezing in two or three bouts of 15 or 20 minutes of activity is just as effective as doing it all at once, says Astorino. Vacuuming the house in the morning, riding bikes in the park with the kids in the afternoon, then taking a brisk walk in the evening can add up to an active day.
Recent U.S. government guidelines say that to lose weight and keep it weight off, you should accumulate at least 60 minutes of exercise a day, says Astorino. But half an hour a day is all you need to reap the health and disease-fighting benefits of exercise.
5. Fitness Can Help Build Relationships
Think of what exercising with a partner can do for a relationship, whether it’s with a spouse, a sibling, or a friend you used to go to lunch with once a week.
Not only that, says Astorino, but exercise is always more fun when there’s someone to do it with. So plan to walk with your spouse after dinner every night. Meet your sister or that friend for tennis or an aerobics class instead of lunch.
Besides, Astorino says, people who have exercise partners stay with their programs and reach their goals more often than those who try to go it alone.
“For long-term weight loss, you need to have social support,” Astorino says.
6. Exercise Helps Ward Off Disease
Research has shown that exercise can slow or help prevent heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis (bone loss), and loss of muscle mass, says Astorino.
It also helps ease some aspects of the aging process.
“Because exercise strengthens the muscles and joints, it is going to reduce your odds of having some of those aches and pains and problems most adults have, mostly because of the inactive lives they lead,” Bryant says.
Provided you don’t overdo it, he says, exercise can even boost immune function — so you spend less time down with a cold or flu.
“There isn’t a major health problem where exercise cannot have a positive effect,” says Byrant.
7. Fitness Pumps Up Your Heart
Not only does exercise help fight disease, says Bryant, it creates a stronger heart — the most important muscle in the body. That helps makes exercise — and the activities of daily life — feel easier.
“Your heart and cardiovascular system will function more effectively,” says Bryant. “The heart will build up less plaque. It will become a more efficient pump.”
And “when the heart becomes stronger, it pumps more blood per beat, so at rest, the heart rate is lower,” says Astorino. “It’s not going to have to beat as fast” to expend the same amount of effort.
Within only a couple days after you start exercising, Astorino says, “the body readily adapts to the stimulus it’s getting and it becomes easier. You will feel less fatigue. It will not take as much effort when it comes to breathing. You shouldn’t have as much pain or soreness.”
8. Exercise Lets You Eat More
Pound for pound, muscle burns more calories at rest than body fat. So the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate. And, of course, you also burn calories while you’re actually exercising.
All this means that “cheating” with a cookie once in a while isn’t going to take you back 10 steps. “Can you eat anything? No,” says Atkinson. “But you can afford to enjoy some of the things you really like when you exercise regularly. You can better get away with those things in moderation than you can when you’re not working out.”
9. Exercise Boosts Performance
After a few weeks of consistent exercise, you may feel your clothes fitting differently and see that your muscle tone has improved, Atkinson says.
You may also notice your newly pumped-up muscles in other ways, especially if you’re a recreational golfer or tennis player, or like a friendly game of pick-up basketball, says Atkinson. Exercising consistently will strengthen your muscles, increase flexibility, and improve your overall performance.
“Your muscles will work much more efficiently and you’ll gain a greater sense of endurance,” says Bryant. In addition, he says, your reaction time and balance will improve.
10. Weight Loss Is Not the Most Important Goal
Weight loss is the reason many people exercise in the first place. But it’s certainly not the sole benefit of an exercise program.
Bryant says the long-term goal of weight loss is sold too heavily to people starting fitness programs, and that can be discouraging. People have trouble sticking with something if they don’t see results quickly.
“Really, they should think about the level of functioning in the activities of daily living,” says Bryant. “That can serve as the motivation to keep them coming back for more.”
So whatever weight loss goal you have when starting a fitness program, don’t make it your only goal. Strive to feel better, to have more energy, to be less stressed. Notice the small things that exercise does for you quickly, rather than getting hung up on the narrow goal of the number on a scale.
“With a goal of losing weight and enhancing health, exercise has to become a part of a person’s life, not an afterthought,” Astorino says.
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature
Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
Boosting the metabolism is the holy grail of weight watchers everywhere, but how fast your body burns calories depends on several factors. Some people inherit a speedy metabolism. Men tend to burn more calories than women, even while resting. And for most people, metabolism slows steadily after age 40. Although you can’t control your age, gender, or genetics, there are other ways to get a boost. Read on for 10 ways to rev up.
Our bodies constantly burn calories, even when we’re doing nothing. This resting metabolic rate is much higher in people with more muscle. Every pound of muscle uses about 6 calories a day just to sustain itself, while each pound of fat burns only 2 calories daily. That small difference can add up over time. In addition, after a bout of resistance training, muscles are activated all over your body, increasing your average daily metabolic rate.
Step Up Your Workout
Aerobic exercise may not build big muscles, but it can rev up your metabolism in the hours after a workout. The key is to push yourself. High-intensity exercise delivers a bigger, longer increase in resting metabolic rate than low- or moderate-intensity workouts. To get the benefits, try a more intense class at the gym or include short bursts of jogging during your regular walk.
Fuel Up with Water
The body needs water to process calories. If you are even mildly dehydrated, your metabolism may slow down. In one study, adults who drank eight or more glasses of water a day burned more calories than those who drank four. To stay hydrated, drink a glass of water or other unsweetened beverage before every meal and snack. In addition, try munching on fresh fruits and vegetables, which are full of fluid, rather than pretzels or chips.
Have Your Drinks on the Rocks
Ice-cold beverages prompt the body to burn more calories during digestion. Research suggests five or six glasses of water on the rocks can use up an extra 10 calories a day. That might not sound like much, but it adds up to a pound of weight loss per year — without dieting. You can get the same benefit by drinking iced tea or coffee, as long as you forego the cream and sugar.
Eating more really can help you lose weight — eating more often, that is. When you eat large meals with many hours in between, you train your metabolism to slow down. Having a small meal or snack every 3 to 4 hours keeps your metabolism cranking, so you burn more calories over the course of a day. Several studies have also shown that people who snack regularly eat less at meal time.
Spice Up Your Meals
Spicy foods contain chemical compounds that kick the metabolism into high gear. Eating a tablespoon of chopped red or green chili pepper can boost your metabolic rate. The effect is likely temporary, but if you eat spicy foods often, the benefits may add up. For a quick boost, spice up pasta dishes, chili, and stews with red-pepper flakes.
Power Up with Protein
The body burns many more calories digesting protein as it uses for fat or carbohydrates. Protein may require almost 25% more energy to digest compared to fat. Although you want to eat a balanced diet, replacing some carbs with lean, protein-rich foods can jump-start the metabolism at mealtime. Healthy sources of protein include lean beef, turkey, fish, white meat chicken, tofu, nuts, beans, eggs, and low-fat dairy products.
Booster Shot: Black Coffee
If you’re a coffee drinker, you probably enjoy the increased energy and concentration that follows your morning ritual. Taken in moderation, one of coffee’s benefits may be a short-term increase in your metabolic rate.
Recharge with Green Tea
Drinking green tea or oolong tea offers the combined benefits of caffeine and catechins, substances shown to rev up the metabolism for a couple hours. Research suggests that drinking two to four cups of either tea may push the body to burn 17% more calories than normal for a short period of time.
Avoid Crash Diets
Crash diets — those involving eating fewer than 1,000 calories a day — are disastrous for anyone hoping to quicken their metabolism. Although these diets may help you drop pounds (at the expense of good nutrition), a high percentage of the loss comes from muscle. The lower your muscle mass, the slower your metabolism. The final result is a body that burns far fewer calories (and gains weight faster) than the one you had before the diet
The impact of different foods and drinks on the metabolism is small compared to what you need for sustained weight loss. Your best bet for creating a mean calorie-burning machine is to build muscle and stay active. The more you move during the day, the more calories you burn. And remember: working out in the morning has the benefit of revving up your metabolism for hours
The past couple of weeks have really tested my motivation to maintain my Feel Great Weight.
The Northeast, especially Boston, was hit hard with snow, sleet, and ice. The last thing I wanted to do in that horrible weather was exercise. Bundling up, cleaning the snow off of my car, scraping the windows, and dealing with the messy roads require a lot of effort just to get myself to the gym! Instead of throwing in the towel on my motivation, however, I refocused, reminded myself of my goals, and went back to the basics. Here’s what I did to get myself back on track.
Write down my goals…again
In January, I committed to running four half marathons in 2011. I created a half-marathon training program for myself, but with the snow, I’ve gotten a little off track. So, last weekend, I rewrote my goals and refined my training schedule to motivate myself. Putting it down on paper made me feel more in control of the situation and ready to tackle the plan.
Identify the missed workouts
My Google calendar keeps me organized with all aspects of my daily life—from blogging deadlines and grocery lists to workouts and social events. I typically spend some time on Sunday afternoons scheduling my workouts for the week. Seeing my day laid out with plenty of time for exercise motivates me to stick to my plan. This is a great idea in theory, because I still missed quite a few of my scheduled workouts in the past couple of weeks. I went through my calendar to identify the ones I missed and to figure out why. Looking at my excuses for skipping them made me much more aware of how to deal with low motivation when it strikes, which will help me accomplish my future workouts.
Eat for energy
Eating foods for energy has totally changed my thinking about what I was putting into my mouth—and how it affects my hunger later. I used to keep a food journal online, but I found that I only focused on the calories consumed and not on eating nutritious and satisfying foods. It was also time-consuming and inconvenient to continuously calculate all of those calories, so hundreds of them often went unaccounted for each day, which made me feel like a failure.
When I started working at NuVal, I realized that the best foods were the most nutritious and also the most figure-friendly. I began choosing nutritious foods over those simply low in calories, and, eventually, I started making better choices. For instance, I realized that when measured in terms of calories, my lunches were much too small, making me overeat in the afternoon and sometimes at dinner too. Filling my meals with protein, fiber, and some healthy fats helped control my hungry, fuel my workouts, and keep my weight in check.
Blog about it
After finding my Feel Great Weight, I started my blog, Carrots ’N’ Cake, to keep me accountable in the months leading up to my wedding. Beginning with my first post, I’ve always been up front with my readers about what I want to accomplish. Sharing my goals makes me accountable to my family, friends, and even to strangers. My readers provide support, motivation—and even praise and encouragement!
Remind myself of how far I’ve come
So I haven’t been very motivated lately. But when I remind myself of how far I’ve come with my training—I recently ran my first marathon!—I know I can keep at my goals. Even though I’ve scaled back my mileage, I don’t want to take for granted the progress I’ve made. I’ve managed to keep my weight within 10 pounds of where I want to be. I’ve incorporated more fresh produce, whole grains, and unprocessed food into my diet. And I’ve even had an easier time saying no to my weaknesses–sweet splurges like cookies and cupcakes!
By Tina Haupert
Tis the season to be jolly. Are you naughty or nice?!
With music blasting in your ear buds and your focus in full force, try to keep in mind that others are trying to do the same thing as you. Here are some general guidelines that will make your next gym experience pleasant for everyone:
In addition to using equipment properly and respectfully, the way you carry yourself also affects those around you. If every gym member abides by these personal rules of conduct, the gym would be a more pleasant place for everyone! So do your best to:
Lower the volume. While exercising to music is motivating and fun, blasting your MP3 player at maximum volume is not. Respect the people around you and turn down the music—not everyone wants to hear your play-list.
Turn off the cell phone. Are you there to exercise or to chat? Keep your private life private by shutting off your phone while you’re at the gym. Some facilities have rules against bringing phones inside, especially camera phones. Respect the people around you and leave your phone in the car while you’re working out.
Share the water fountain. If you’re filling up a huge water bottle, check to see if anyone is waiting to take a quick drink and let him or her go first. Don’t spit in the fountain or use it to dispose of your used chewing gum.
Don’t offer unsolicited advice. Unless you are a certified personal trainer, don’t go around correcting other people’s form without permission. If someone asks you how to perform an exercise, don’t give them advice unless you’re absolutely sure—injuries happen all the time and your wrong suggestion could end up hurting someone.
Dress appropriately. Torn, dirty clothing doesn’t belong at the gym—nobody wants to see your underwear peeking through your ratty sweatpants. Similarly, cover your body appropriately up top too. The gym isn’t the place for women to show off their cleavage (always wear a well-supporting sports bra too), or for men to go shirtless (talk about spreading sweat and germs onto equipment).
Wear deodorant. Exercising will make you sweat and that can cause body odor. Wear a good deodorant/antiperspirant to keep odor to a minimum, but don’t spray yourself with perfume before hitting the gym—some people are very sensitive to scent and get headaches or migraines from the chemicals.
Above all, always respect the people around you and follow any posted rules that your gym may have. If you see someone blatantly breaking the rules, ask them politely to correct the behavior or talk to the facility manager about the problem. If you’ve noticed a situation, others probably have as well. Getting along with others at the gym just takes a little common sense. By following the rules of gym etiquette, you—and the exercisers around you—can all enjoy a great workout with minimal aggravation.