Fitness & Wellness

The Magic Of Exercise Is In Recovery

The Magic Of Exercise Is In Recovery

If you’re going to get the maximum out of your exercise program, you need to make sure it includes a recovery period. Rest is important for a number of reasons. If you’re focusing on performance, you need to get rest for maximum high performance levels. Your body needs rest to repair itself and also your mind needs it too. If you’re spending all your time at the gym in Alexandria; work and home suffer since you neglect them. Even your fitness goals can suffer too, as you tend to burn out and workout less frequently.

The magic does occur during recovery.

When you exercise, you’re working your muscles hard and creating micro tears in them. During the recovery, the body is mending those tears. That tissue repair is building the muscles, while also replenishing energy stores. That’s the time you’re actually building muscle tissue, not during the workout, where you’re really tearing it down. Of course, for the repair to occur, you need the breakdown to happen first.

There are two types of recovery, short term and long term.

Short-term recovery starts within hours. In fact, it can start immediately in the form of active recovery during the cool-down phase. It’s during the process of recovery that you see the most changes in your muscles. They’re replenishing fuel and fluids, while boosting the protein synthesis that increases protein in the muscles, boosts muscle size and prevents muscle breakdown. Long term recovery tends to be more for avid athletes that participate in a seasonal sport or even a year around sport. It may mean taking a few weeks off of training periodically, or even a season focusing on other types of training.

What happens when you don’t get the needed recovery time?

One problem overzealous beginners often face is overexercising. Sometimes, even seasoned athletes have the same problem. Too much of a good thing doesn’t give your body time to repair and it comes with consequences. Those consequences include, apathy, malaise, depression, increased potential for injury and impaired performance. It can even cause weight gain.

  • During recovery time, it’s important to consume the right types of food to boost muscle development and burn stores of fat.
  • To ensure you have the best recovery, you need adequate sleep. It’s particularly important for anyone on a grueling training schedule. It can also help you shed pounds quicker.
  • You need to change your routine frequently to avoid efficiency that occurs when the body adapts to a group of exercises. You don’t get the effect of muscle building when you’re doing the same exercise repeatedly.
  • Be aware that you can overdo, which could make recovery time even longer. It can cause muscle damage and injury that takes weeks to heal. However, doing too little also won’t give you the results you hope to achieve. Finding the perfect blend is one of the reasons people use a personal trainer.

Get Pain Relief From Arthritis Naturally

Get Pain Relief From Arthritis Naturally

Your body is an amazing machine, but like any machine it can break. That causes illness or injury. Body aches are frequent when you’re working out, especially at first, but deep pain from arthritis isn’t. It can cause anyone to recoil at the thought of working out, which actually only makes pain worse. You don’t have to reach for a prescription or over-the-counter pain reliever. You can get pain relief from arthritis naturally.

Start with moderate exercise.

I think most health care professionals agree that exercise is a great pain reliever. Not only does it kick the body’s natural pain killing hormones into gear, it also reduces the stiffness and strengthens muscle tissue in the process. It helps you lose weight, which can relieve the pressure on knee and hip joints, improves your balance and bone strength. You’ll even sleep better at night and that helps you face the next day with more vigor. If you’re just getting back into exercise, use low impact workouts or consult a personal trainer who will create a program specific to your needs.

Eating the right ratio of healthy fatty acids can also ease the pain.

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids help. They include fatty fish like salmon, walnuts, flaxseed and meat from grassfed beef. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, too. You need to have this fat and Omega-6 fatty acids in your diet, but the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 should be 4 to 1. The average American diet is 25 to 1. An imbalance with too much Omega 6 causes arthritis, inflammation, heart disease and many other problems. Many studies show that changing your diet so that the ratio is 2 to 1, two units of Omega 6 to one unit of Omega 3, can actually reduce arthritis pain and even help reverse it.

Make other changes to your diet.

Anthocyanins are phytonutrients that make blueberries blue and give the brilliant red color to tart cherries. These flavonoids not only create a rainbow of color, they also help reduce inflammation and provide many other benefits. Since arthritis pain is caused by inflammation, adding colorful veggies and fruit to the diet can help. Eat foods rich in sulforaphane like broccoli and other crucifers. Asparagus is also high in nutrients and has been found beneficial for arthritis.

  • Steer clear of junk food and foods high in sugar. It depletes nutrients from the system, just like alcohol does, and can exacerbate the pain.
  • Natural pain relievers include turmeric, ginger, astaxanthin and boswellia. Try sprinkling turmeric on veggies for a taste treat, in soups or other foods at the table. Ginger tea is also soothing.
  • If you’re taking over-the-counter pain relievers daily, talk to your physician about switching to white willow bark. It has salicin which was the original aspirin and changes to salicylic acid which acts like aspirin without severe stomach irritation.
  • Enjoy Mother Nature. Get out in the sun, take your shoes off and walk in the grass. It’s soothing and relaxing and could be just what you need to help speed pain relief.

Is Fruit Juice Bad For You?

Is Fruit Juice Bad For You?

Just when you think you have the right drink to rehydrate, you read the next study that leaves you rethinking that decision. If you’ve switched from carbonated drinks to fruit drinks or fruit juice, you may need to do a little further investigation. Is fruit juice bad for you and should it be part of your diet? People on the go often opt for a glass of fresh juice to quickly get the nutrients they need in the morning. Others choose a fruit drink for their children or as a post workout option, while patting themselves on the back for making a wise decision.

Even if there is fresh fruit on the packaging, it doesn’t mean that’s what you’ll get.

Those little juice boxes certainly look healthy. They show vivid pictures of fresh fruit on the front, so you simply presume that’s what they contain. That’s why reading the label is so important. Many fruit drinks are really just flavored sugar water, but you can’t tell that by the artwork. They often go by names like “fruit beverage” or “fruit drink” in a weak attempt at full disclosure, but the label tells a different tale. Look for words like, “100 percent fruit juice” to get the real thing. Even then, it’s not necessarily a healthy choice.

Fruit juice is concentrated calories and a barrel of fructose to boost your sugar levels.

While there’s no denying it, fruit juice does have almost all the nutrients you’d get from eating the whole fruit, especially if you squeeze it fresh, but it also is loaded with sugar. Whether it’s natural fructose or added sugar or sweetener, it all plays havoc with your body. If you drink just one glass of orange juice in the morning, you’ll be getting eight teaspoons of sugar—four of which comes from the fructose in the juice. Compare that with the ten teaspoons you get from drinking a can of soda and the trade off isn’t nearly as perfect…but still better.

Eating the whole fruit is better than drinking the juice.

When you eat a whole fruit, as opposed to a glass of juice, you get all the fiber from the fruit and less concentrated sugar. For instance, an 8-oz glass of orange juice has 112 calories compared to 45 calories of a whole orange. The glass of juice also contains 2.5 times the sugar and only one third of the fiber contained in a whole orange. No matter which fruit you investigate, the statistics are about the same, far more sugar, far more calories and less fiber. Even home squeezed juice lacks the fiber necessary for good health.

  • Fruit juice consumption is linked to increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes. It’s also closely associated with childhood obesity, while eating its whole fruit counterpart isn’t.
  • Whole fruit contains fiber that has polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants that aid in preventing and fighting cancer and protecting your body. Adding back the fiber, as some juice companies do, doesn’t have the same effect as eating the whole fruit.
  • The consumption of fructose, whether it comes from fruit juice or other source, is closely associated with the development of gout, heart disease, non-alcoholic liver disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, obesity and diabetes.
  • Today, the average American diet contains approximately 135 grams of fructose. Compare that with the average consumption of approximately 15 grams found in the average diet 100 years ago and you can see why there’s a meteoric rise in obesity.

See Yourself As Better To Become The New You

See Yourself As Better To Become The New You

If you start your fitness regimen, whether it’s just to get fitter or shed extra pounds, with the attitude that this will just become another failure in your long list of attempts, you will fail. You have to see yourself as better to become the new you. Mentally visualizing the new you will help you have the good health and body you want to see in the mirror. If your self-image is a positive one, you’ll get results. That’s why negative self-talk has no place in your fitness program, or in your life for that matter. You must believe in yourself first to get the best results.

Sometimes, it takes help for that self-belief.

If you’re like many people that I’ve coached, it’s hard to change the mental picture of being overweight or out of shape. You see it in the mirror every day. You may have to get help to change how you visualize yourself and that help can come from a personal trainer. Many of the people I train don’t believe in themselves, but they do believe that I can help them, which is a start. I believe so strongly, not only in my ability to help, but also in their ability to succeed, that it often takes them beyond their first hurdle and keeps them going until they see success at the gym.

The power of belief isn’t mumbo-jumbo, it works.

It’s not magic or new age smoke and mirrors, but logic. When you believe something is going to happen because of your actions, you go until you get those results. If you were cold, but you thought the furnace was broken, you probably wouldn’t try to turn up the heat. You might simply sit there cold and probably complaining. There are some people that would mess with the thermostat in an attempt to do something about their plight and a few that might even try to fix the furnace. Those that would get the best results would try it again and if they had the know-how, try to fix it, but when that didn’t work, call a specialist, like a heating and cooling repairman for the furnace, to get results.

Getting results in any endeavor requires you to try.

What type of person are you? Do you sit and complain about your weight or fitness without attempting to change anything? Do you try something easy, like the person who turned up thermostat or give it your best like the person who tried to fix it on their own? If those things don’t work, do you turn to experts for help? In the case of fitness, that’s a personal trainer. The person who knows they can make a change will do all these steps until they achieve success. If you don’t believe getting fit is possible, you’ll do nothing. You must be able to see yourself successful before you can be successful or you won’t even try.

  • Listen to your self-talk. Do you constantly think of yourself as fat or out of shape or do you have a mental image of how you will look as you get fitter?
  • Do you feel like working out is punishment for years of being inactive or do you look forward to the time at the gym, enjoying each minute of your transformation?
  • Is being overweight or out of shape part of your identity? When you see yourself in a different light, you’ll realize that who you are has nothing to do with how you look. Looking and feeling good is a bonus.
  • Give yourself a pat on the back when you achieve any step toward good health and fitness. The more you congratulate yourself for success, no matter how small, the more you’ll be successful.

Get Out Those Tank Tops And Show Those Arms

Get Out Those Tank Tops And Show Those Arms

One of my clients loves the winter months. It’s not because she adores the colder weather or hates the sunshine. It’s that she gets to hide her batwings under long sleeves. Summer is a time to get out those tank tops and show those arms, but a lot of people shy away from doing that because they don’t have toned muscles. Arm flab, bat wings, whatever you want to call it is embarrassing for most women, but there’s a way to change it and have arms you’ll be proud to show the world.

You don’t have to win the genetic lottery to have toned arms.

If you’ve tried to tone your arms before and did all the exercises you thought would give you that dazzling look, but failed, you probably forgot to add weight to the equation. I see it all the time, women who are afraid that if they use weights to tone their arms, they’ll start to look like the Incredible Hulk, sans the green. It just doesn’t work that way. Women, unless they spend their life working out or take supplements to enhance muscle building, just don’t bulk up like men do, even if they’re super strong.

New moms start to see a change in both upper body strength and toning.

Many of the mothers I see note that after their child was born, especially if their weight was normal, started to notice their arms were more toned and looked great until their child was about three. That’s when they carried their child far less than previously. Little did they realize they were toning their arms every time they lifted the baby and as the baby put on more weight, the toning process became more intense. Many of these mothers also carried diaper bags, groceries and other things while carrying the baby. Take note if you don’t have a child yet, toning your arms now can get you into shape for motherhood.

You need to put effort and add weights to upper body exercises for toned arms.

If you want arm definition, use exercises like pushups, rows, presses and pulldowns combined with curls triceps and pressdowns. Both types of movements are important. One shapes your arms and the others build muscles to give you the strength to go heavier and press weights that will make a difference. You need to workout more than just your arms to get the results you want. Our workout will have you looking great and be proud to show off your arms.

  • No matter how toned you are, if you have excess body fat, those great muscles won’t show. Add a healthy diet to your workout to get results faster.
  • Your mix of exercises should include all muscles in the arm, not just biceps. You also need to work on triceps, rotary cuff (the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint- supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis) and shoulder muscles, too.
  • A total body workout or strength training can help you get those arms you wanted faster. You’ll have a program that helps you because it fits your goals.
  • Try our one week free boot camp for more ideas on toning your arms and say good-bye to batwings forever.

Nutrition For Your First 5K

Nutrition For Your First 5K

If you want to stay energized all the way to the end, you need the proper nutrition for your first 5K. It starts with good nutritional meals while you’re training that replace the vital nutrients and help your body repair after a tough workout. Get a good balance of carbs, protein and healthy fat with a daily amount of about 2.5 grams of carbs and 0.5 grams of protein for each pound you weight daily. Don’t forget the healthy fats, either. Nuts, salmon and butter from grass fed cows are good sources of Omega 3s, which help lower inflammation and speed your recovery time.

Get plenty of these specific nutrients.

While you need a well balanced diet containing all nutrients, three vitamins and minerals are particularly important. Iron is often lost when running, so add some extra lean red meat, lentils or leafy greens to your diet. If you want to maintain muscle function and bone health, eat foods high in calcium. Dairy, bone broth, sardines and leafy greens provide it. Don’t forget the vitamin B if you want to maintain your energy level. Snack on nuts to increase this nutrient.

Don’t worry about carbo-loading.

Eating a diet higher in carbohydrates, while you cut back on fats and protein may be good for races that take 90 minutes or longer. Unless you’re really, really slow (which is okay—at least you’re trying), you’ll finish the race a lot quicker. You won’t need the extra fuel from just eating healthy before the race. In fact, carbo-loading could actually make you feel sick and slow you down when the race starts.

Keep your breakfast light and make it a few hours before the race.

You want to eat something before a morning race, but not a heavy breakfast and not as you’re headed for the starting line. Eating a meal that contains200 to 300 calories, is low in hard to digest fiber and fat and comes from unprocessed carbs is best. Keep the fiber under ten grams and steer clear of spicy foods to avoid an upset stomach. If the race is later in the day or at night, follow the same protocol for lunch and dinner.

  • Make sure you stay hydrated, drink about 20 ounces of fluids a few hours before the race and another ten ounces about 20 minutes before the race starts.
  • Test drive some breakfasts before you go for training so you know what works the best. For example, you might find that a bagel, small apple and an 8-oz sports drink works better for you than a bowl of oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar. Try a few different combinations and go with the best one the day of the race.
  • Take a snack along in case you’re hungry before the race. A small banana, some animal crackers or anything to curb the hunger that’s about 100 to 200 calories will do.
  • Several weeks before the race, practice mock up races that start the same time as your first 5 K. Create sample diets to eat before the race and see what helps you feel and do your best. Not everyone reacts to specific foods in the same way, find out what works best for you.

Fitness Products You'll Love

Fitness Products You’ll Love

If you find giving yourself a special treat for accomplishing goals, here are some fitness products you’ll love as your reward. You’ll also find some are so low cost and helpful that you’ll want them to help you on the road to fitness. Apps for instance, can be free or very low cost. Clothing and gadgets are far more expensive. If you choose a more expensive item, start tucking away a small amount weekly to save for the time you reach your goal.

Fooducate provides a tool that lets you know the nutritional values of foods while shop.

Just scan the food item with your smartphone and it grades it from an A+ to D-. It averages the grades for your purchases and offers ideas for alternatives that are healthier. While this app is free, the free version doesn’t offer much, except how many calories you should eat daily. To get the best features you have to subscribe. Based on the version, it costs between $4 and $5 a month.

Get a home version of the TRX system.

This equipment at the gym is so popular and there’s a reason why. It’s more than just effective, it’s fun. Now you can get a home version to use on your days away from the gym and it’s portable enough to take on trips. You use body weight exercises like lunges and squats and will get maximum results with this tool. It’s great for those busy weeks when you don’t have time for a full workout at the gym. Just put in 20 to 30 minutes in the morning and you’re set. The price is about $150, so it might be best as a big reward for accomplishing your major goals.

Don’t wait for a reason, get this great sports bra before you start working out.

If you are well endowed and curvy or just want to make sure the girls stay in place, you need a top-notch sports bra, especially for high impact cardio. One of those recommended by some of my clients is the Enell Maximum Control Wire-Free Sports Bra. These bras have wider shoulder straps, easy and secure closure, a wide band to move with your body and a cross-strap design for back comfort and better posture. It also has fabric that wicks to keep moisture away from your skin. Good support, like good shoes, are a must when you first start working out.

  • If you’re overweight and your inner thighs are painful and sore from chaffing when you walk or run, it’s easy to call it quits. Before you start working out, treat yourself to a pain free one with Body Glide Original Anti Chafe Balm.
  • Get some equipment for your home. At about $40, you can get a great start on creating a six-pack. The Ab-Carver Pro Roller can be perfect for core workouts at home, regardless of your fitness level.
  • Sure you pay special attention to your shoes, but have you considered special workout socks. Finding great socks that offer support and exceptional wicking ability doesn’t have to cost a fortune and could be your next great investment.
  • Work out the kinks with a foam roller. Rollers cost less than $10 and will hurt like crazy while you roll out every stiff muscle, but leave you feeling fantastic.


Is It Time For New Workout Shoes?

Is It Time For New Workout Shoes?

You may have your favorite workout shoes that you’ve had for years. Even though you’ve used Gorilla glue to glue the sole back on or ignored the hole on top, that doesn’t mean they’re gymworthy. In fact, it’s probably time for new workout shoes, not because they’re really tattered but because they’re dangerous and can cause injury when you workout.

How can workout shoes cause injury?

There are a number of reasons. One is that they lose their spring. If the midsole is worn, they lose their ability to absorb shocks and also may lead to excess foot motion. The midsole can also change formation after months of use and change the way your foot aligns. That stresses parts of the foot that weren’t meant to be stressed and causes injuries that come from overuse.

There’s no specific amount of time or usage that you can use.

There’s a wide range of estimates on how long a shoe should last. If you have a high quality shoe, it’s going to last far longer than one that’s not as good, which in some cases translates to cost less. One constant is the ability to absorb shock when you jump. In other words, the shoe’s compression ability. The NSCA—National Strength and Conditioning Association—estimated that the average wear for running shoes is about 300 to 500 miles, approximately 6 months, before the compression capabilities are lost. If you’re doing floor pounding cardio, it could be before that. Working with weights and less intense floor pounding give the same shoes a longer lifespan.

The ball of the foot and the heel receive a pounding when you workout and show it.

If your heel is well worn and shows more wear on one side or the other, they’re no longer good for the gym. That means it’s broken down and allows more heel motion. Can you say injury waiting to happen? You can also tell if the heel compresses when you squeeze from side to side.

  • Take a look at the shoe. If the ball of the foot shows a lot of wear, it’s time for new shoes.
  • Shoes can wear without wearing them. If they’ve been with you for ages from that last failed attempt at getting fit, the materials might have dried out in the midsole, outsole and upper area. That affects their functionality, even though they may look great.
  • If you find your feet or knees hurt after a workout, suspect wear on your shoes immediately.
  • Give a good visual inspection. Check the shoe from the side, look at the underside and check the wear at the heel. You’ll notice excessive wear if they’re ready for retirement.

Pros And Cons To A Keto Diet

Pros And Cons To A Keto Diet

One of the latest diets being touted is actually quite old. It’s the Keto diet—which is short for ketogenic diet. Originally, it was used as a substitute for fasting to control epileptic seizures. For 1400 years there’s been a hypothesis that fasting helped control seizures, but you simply can’t fast away your life. In the 1920s, doctors at the Mayo clinic found that super low carbohydrate and high fat meals helped control seizures just like fasting did. By the 1980s, body builder’s latched onto the diet and it became their tool for boosting weight loss and building a great body, while still enjoying the once forbidden foods like bacon, cream and butter. Today, it’s a viable tool for weight loss, but it isn’t for everybody.

The keto diet contains 20% protein, 5% carbohydrates and 75% fat.

If you’ve been on a low carb diet, you’re close to a keto diet, but the protein and carbohydrate numbers are lower. Instead of 40% protein, 10% carbs and 50% fat, you’re cutting carbs and protein in half and throwing those calories into the fat category. That translates to approximately 10 or 15 grams of carbohydrates a day. If you translate that to food, it’s about 15 grapes or a fist-size serving of cooked carrots. That’s not just for one meal but for the entire day. The fat comes from nuts, coconut milk or oil, cheese and avocado. It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure.

The body normally uses carbs for fuel but with this diet, it uses keytones.

That’s important because ketones come from breaking down fat. They’re formed in the liver and used as energy instead of glucose. In fact, you can even measure the amount of ketones by using urine and ketone strips. It burns ketones because there’s less glucose available. So basically, it reduces the body’s insulin levels and the inflammation that occurs when they’re high.

It helps you shed pounds and eliminate the sugar urge.

You’ll definitely feel fuller with the extra fat in your diet. A few weeks off sugar will also help you curb the sugar cravings, since you won’t have the blood sugar spikes and drops that occur with a high carb, high sugar diet. It also puts more healthy fat into your diet, something many people lack. Healthy fat, like avocados, can boost your mood and improve everything from your skin and hair to cholesterol, heart and brain functioning.

  • One big problem with the keto diet is that it’s hard to follow. You have to carefully plan each meal to ensure you get the right proportions.
  • People often don’t choose the healthiest fat content for their diet. Instead of turning to nuts and avocados, people often turn to bacon and animal fats that don’t come from organic, grass fed beef. That doesn’t promote good health.
  • The weight you lose may not be significant or long lasting.
  • There’s limited fiber. That can slow digestion. Just the very nature of the diet, low carb, can leave you feeling stuffy and out of sorts.