Fitness & Wellness

Exercising On Your Cycle

Exercising On Your Cycle

Clients often take me aside at The Worx in Alexandria, VA, and ask if it’s safe exercising on your cycle. The answer is not only yes, but a resounding yes. Not only is it safe, there are several benefits of doing it. There are some things you need to ensure before you start, such as the type of exercise you’re doing. Sticking with light exercise when you’re suffering pain, cramps and bloating can help relieve those symptoms.

You’ll lift your mood when you workout.

When you’re menstruating, you can experience everything from irritability and mood swings to fatigue and depression. Exercise helps stabilize those moods changes and lifts your spirits. Think about early woman. During her cycle, she couldn’t take to bed or lay in a cave. She had to keep moving if her group was migratory and help bring food for herself and family. Women wouldn’t have survived if exercise shouldn’t be part of life at that time.

When it’s your period, there are some exercises you shouldn’t do.

While exercising is okay, don’t push yourself beyond normal. Exercising beyond your normal length of time and doing a workout more intense should be avoided. Keep your exercise regimen at that time to 45 minutes or less to avoid inflammation. Avoid exercises that cause your body to be inverted and if you feel tired, nauseous or have an increasing amount of discomfort, take a break and rest. Listen to your body.

Listen to your body and stick with exercises that feel good and help.

If working out at the gym and doing your regular workout is painful, switch your training. Go for a walk or do light aerobic exercise. Use lighter weights and do strength training, but don’t try power lifting if you’re dealing with issues from your cycle. Exercises that promote stretching to help muscles relax can also be beneficial.

  • If you have a regular cycle, work your exercise schedule so your toughest workout is after the first few days when bleeding and cramping can be at its worst. Move your toughest workout to later in your cycle.
  • Take precautions when working out during your period. You can combine feminine hygiene products to get the best coverage and take a break mid exercise to ensure you don’t have leakage.
  • Exercise can make changes in your period and the amount of flow. A program of regular exercise can cause a lighter flow with less cramping. The change in the amount of body fat caused by exercise reduces the thickness of the lining of the uterus causing your period to be lighter.
  • Your body’s hormones change during your period and that can lead to fatigue. When you exercise, it can increase your energy levels, especially during your period. At The Worx, we’ll work with you to find the right exercises to help relieve pain.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx

Smoothies Vs. Juicing

Smoothies Vs. Juicing

If you like drinking your lunch through a straw making smoothies, or juicing fruits and vegetables can be a viable option. It’s quick and easy, plus contains tons of nutrients and can be a way to get a high number of different fruits and vegetables into your menu. What’s the difference? Which one is better? The discussion is strictly on making your juice or smoothie at home, where you can control the ingredients. Too often commercially sold smoothies or juice have additives, like added sugar.

What’s the difference between the two?

Juicers are different from blenders and created for different purposes. A juicer separates the fiber from the fruit or vegetable. The pulp—fiber—is then discarded, leaving only the juice. That allows you to process more fruits and vegetables for each cup of juice, thereby getting more nutrients. The blender for smoothies use the whole fruit or vegetable, leaving in the fiber.

You’ll get benefits from smoothies you won’t get from juicing.

While both types of drinks provide tons of nutrients, there are some benefits you’ll enjoy with smoothies you won’t get from juicing. When you make a smoothie, the drink is thicker and it takes longer to digest, thanks to the fiber that slows down digestion. You still get the nutrients, but because it digests slower, you feel full longer. That slower processing in your system due to the fiber helps keep blood sugar level, so it’s more beneficial for diabetics. The fiber helps improve digestion, plus there’s no waste.

Juicing also has many benefits.

Of course, just like smoothies, juicing helps boost your nutritional intake. Without the fiber, particularly the insoluble fiber that doesn’t digest, one cup of juice can contain more fruits or vegetables than a cup of blended smoothie. Juice is easier to digest, since the fiber is removed, which makes it the best option for people who have problems with digestion. The nutrients are easier to extract from the juice.

  • Juicers often cost more than blenders. While the cheapest are centrifugal juicers, masticating or cold press are often considered the best and tend to be quite pricey. By contrast, both jug blenders for large quantities and individual size blenders are often relatively inexpensive.
  • While you can include all fruits and vegetables in smoothies, you can’t juice certain types of fruits and vegetables, such as bananas and avocados. These can provide important nutrients you’ll be missing.
  • Clean up is far easier with a blender than it is with a juicer. With a blender you pour out the smoothie, put water in it, blend and empty. You can then wash the individual parts with ease.
  • While it can be more expensive to make juices, since it takes more to make a cup, you’ll also get more nutrients, since there are more in a cup and it’s less filling. For those trying to lose weight, a smoothie is best. It offers fiber to keep you feeling fuller longer.

For more information, contact us today at The Worx Fitness

Can You Balance Hormones With Certain Foods?

Can You Balance Hormones With Certain Foods?

At The Worx in Alexandria, VA, we focus on getting and staying in shape. It’s particularly important the older you get and particularly for women during perimenopause and menopause, but sex hormones aren’t the only hormones that get out of balance. Exercise helps lower stress levels that can disrupt hormonal balance. In fact, it’s one of the biggest factors that affect hormonal balances. Besides exercise, you can help balance hormones with certain foods.

There are two primary hormones that may be out of balance, progesterone and estrogen.

Hormones are the body’s messengers. When everything is functioning correctly, you’re happy, fit and energized. That’s not always the case. Many things can cause hormonal imbalances. Lack of exercise, stress and a poor diet are just three. Too much of one hormone and too little of another can disrupt your health, both mentally and physically. We normally think of hormone imbalance in terms of sex hormones, like estrogen and progesterone, which can cause weight gain and problems like hot flashes, but there are other types of imbalance, such as ghrelin—the hunger hormone—and leptin—the satiety hormone—that can get out of balance and cause you to eat too much.

Your body needs healthy fat to keep hormones in balance.

Food that contains healthy fat, such as avocados, egg yolks, nuts and seeds are important for hormonal support. It’s the raw material for the production of hormones and to maintain hormonal functioning. Hormones are created from cholesterol and specific fatty acids. A hormone imbalance can occur if the body doesn’t have the raw materials to make them. Included in the group of healthy fats are also ghee, coconut oil and raw butter.

Getting high quality protein and plenty of nutritious vegetables can help produce many hormones.

To balance sex hormones, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone eating foods that mimic hormones can help, such as flax seeds, which contain phytoestrogens. Wild salmon not only contains omega-3 fatty acids, but also vitamin D, which is necessary to make hormones. Miso, lentils, sweet potatoes and broccoli are also important. To balance thyroid hormones, add food that provide a source of iodine, such as sea vegetables. Brazil nuts, sardines, spinach, and quinoa are also good. If your adrenal hormones are out of whack, it can affect your sex hormones. Balance those hormones by eating bell peppers, kale, almonds, avocado, pumpkin seeds and eggs.

  • The best way to find out if your hormones are out of balance is to get a blood test and discuss the results with your doctor. However, eating a healthy well balanced diet can help both your hormones and your overall health.
  • You can keep your hunger hormones and satiety hormone in balance by getting adequate sleep. Lack of sleep can curb the production of the hormone that makes you feel full and increase the production of the hormone that makes you hungry.
  • A little bit of dark chocolate, blueberries, strawberries, papaya and avocados can help control inflammation and too much cortisol. So can turmeric, salmon and green leafy vegetables. Regulating cortisol can help you lose weight, especially around your middle.
  • Foods high in zinc, vitamins C, E and B6, magnesium, beneficial cholesterol, sulfur, L-arginine and fiber can help regulate sex hormones. Eating more fiber and fermented foods and less sugar also helps balance all hormones.

For more information, contact us today at The Worx Fitness

Do You Really Need To Warm Up Before A Workout?

Do You Really Need To Warm Up Before A Workout?

Why do you warm up before a workout? It’s all in the name. It’s warming up your muscles to help you avoid a potential injury. It’s like priming the pump and preparing both your body and your mind for the workout you face and doesn’t have to be hard. Jumping rope, doing jumping jacks or a brisk walk for ten minutes can be a good warm-up session.

You’ll raise your body temperature and stimulate your cardiovascular system.

If you’re a morning exerciser, your body temperature is at slightly lower temperature, since you just woke up. Warming up helps increase your body temperature and because of that, burns more calories and improves your workout. It also gets your heart ready for a tough workout, making the transition from sedentary to a demanding workout easier. It can help prevent a sudden rise in blood pressure that can come from a sudden demand on the heart.

You’ll improve your co-ordination.

A warm-up prepares the nervous system, too. That makes muscle control better, more agility and quicker reaction times. When warming up, always use dynamic stretches, which involve movement that loosens the muscles and joints, while static stretching, like touching your toes, simply stretches the muscles, pushing it past resistance. Dynamic stretches include mountain climbers, planks and lunges, besides the others already mentioned.

You’ll workout longer by preventing lactic acid build-up.

Lactic acid builds up in your blood if you don’t get enough oxygen or have a sudden increased demand for oxygen, which occurs if you go from sedentary to extremely active quickly. It builds up too quickly and can’t be removed by the body, making fluids in your body, such as your blood, become too acidic and causing an imbalance in the body’s pH level. Too much lactic acid in your blood can make your workout far more difficult at first and maybe even cause you to quit too early.

  • Have you ever heard of “getting your head in the game?” Warming up helps you do that. It prepares you mentally, turning your thoughts away from the day’s stressors and onto exercise.
  • Your muscles will be more pliable when you warm up the tissues. That means you’ll be far less likely to have muscle strain and far more delivery of oxygen and nutrients to them.
  • A warm-up can help you talk yourself into exercising on days when you simply don’t feel like it. That easy warm-up may be just enough to help you feel better and overcome that feeling.
  • At The Worx, we always emphasize dynamic stretching before working out and also include cool-down time to help you finish your workout safely.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx Fitness

Invest In Rest With Nighttime Yoga

Invest In Rest With Nighttime Yoga

I see so many of the same faces early in the morning at The Worx in Alexandria, VA. Many of you have told me how you love that early workout to jumpstart your energy for the day. While building your energy is important, if you don’t get enough rest, it will never happen. Even though working out can help you sleep better, sometimes you need a more right before bed to calm you down, and that’s where nighttime yoga can help.

A lot of things can keep you awake at night and cause a multitude of sleep disorders.

Do you have trouble going to sleep or simply poor quality sleep, waking up several times throughout the night? No matter what the problem, getting adequate and a more restful sleep is important to both your physical and mental health. Even if you normally sleep well, sometimes, stressful events can throw it off. During the pandemic lockdowns, recent studies showed that insomnia increased. Part of it was a change in routine, part was lack of exercise and some came from stress or depression.

Try this quick five minute yoga stretch to relax your body and sleep better.

What’s keeping you awake? Is it lower body aches and pains or those thousands of thoughts running through your brain? Stretching the muscles can help and so can deep breathing and meditation. Always breathe in through your nose, hold and breathe out through your mouth, doing each to a count of five or more to slow it. Start by sitting with legs outstretched, exhaling as you bend your body over your legs, grabbing your toes. If you prefer to stand, breathe out as you bend forward and allow your arms to dangle. Lift your arms parallel to the floor with palms downward facing as you exhale and stand up straight or sit up straight.

The key is calming the mind and breathing, but adding the cat-cow can help.

If you work at a desk all day, this exercise will release the tension you hold in your spine, shoulders, back or neck. Start with the cat part of the cat-cow position by beginning with knees and palms on the floor, your shoulders directly above your wrist and knees right below your hips. Inhale through your nose and as you exhale, round your back, pushing it toward the ceiling, attempting to get your belly button to touch your spine. Your head should be dropped with your chin tucked in toward the chest. Inhale deeply through your nose, hold and as you exhale, lift your head and tailbone as you drop your middle toward the floor with your body forming a U. You’re now in cow position. Alternate between the two.

  • You can do the happy baby pose laying in bed. Lie on your back, bending at your hips and your knees, lifting the soles of your feet toward the ceiling. Grab the big toe of each foot, attempting to put your knees in your armpits. Breathe deeply as you do and rock from side to side for a more relaxed feeling.
  • A yoga child pose can also relieve lower back and neck tension. Sit on your calves with your shins touching the floor and breathe in deeply. Fold forward and as you do, exhale, bending at the hips.
  • Just rolling your head and stretching your neck can help relax muscles. Try other stretches before bedtime to lower your blood pressure and relax your body.
  • Your personal trainer will be happy to create a relaxation routine you can use before bedtime. No one stretch works for everyone, so trying different ones can help.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx Fitness

Are All Processed Foods Bad For You?

Are All Processed Foods Bad For You?

I know this may sound contrary to most of the things you read, but not all processed foods are bad. Before you run out and buy a bag of Cheetos, thinking they may be healthy, let me qualify that. All foods are processed. In fact, the healthiest of foods, such as ripe, fresh tomatoes and broccoli are processed. Washing them means and removing dirt is part of processing fruits and vegetables. In most cases, processing is defined as being canned, cooked, frozen, packaged or changing their nutritional composition by adding preservatives, fortifying them or preparing them in a variety of ways.

Cooking food, such as tomatoes, may actually make them healthier.

While cooking destroys some nutrients, like vitamin C, it can actually enhance others. For instance, tomatoes contain lycopene, which is a strong antioxidant. Fresh tomatoes also contain vitamin C, another antioxidant. When you cook tomatoes, you destroy the vitamin C, but you also boost the amount of lycopene per serving. Now compare that to the processing of wheat into flour. Milling removes the bran and germ, leaving the endosperm. The bran has fiber and the germ has many nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, healthy fat and protein. That flour is then bleached and bromated. In fact, there’s no need for insecticide with white flour. Eating the flour kills bugs.

Another health processing is freezing.

Frozen fruits and vegetables are actually better for you than fresh. If the fruit or vegetable has to travel to market, it’s picked early, before it ripens, so it has fewer nutrients. Frozen vegetables and fruit are often processed right where they’re grown. They are left on the vine or tree longer and picked at optimum ripeness. When fresh fruits and vegetables are shipped to the store, it takes a while to get there and then sometimes they sit on the shelf for days before you buy them. Each day they lose a little nutrition. That’s not true with frozen fruits and vegetables. They’re as healthy as growing them yourself and eating them immediately from the garden.

Don’t avoid canned food either.

When you eat canned food, you’re probably eating healthy, but need to read the label. Some of the food contains additives, salt or added sugar. Canned tuna, salmon, canned fruit and vegetables can be an affordable option for people who want to eat healthy but are on a budget. Green beans, for example, often have added salt. You’re better off opting for a can with no salt added, but if it is, you still can use it even if you’re on a low sodium diet. Just dump the liquid and rinse the beans and most of it will go down the drain. If you read on the label that the fruit has you chose added sugar, don’t buy it. It is definitely not healthy. It’s linked to high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes, dental carries and other diseases.

  • Avoid the snacks and food with empty calories. If the first ingredient is white flour or sugar, walk away. Even food you might think that’s healthy isn’t. If you read the label on granola or protein bars, you’ll find they’re often nothing more than really expensive candy bars.
  • Peanut butter is a healthy option for protein and will fill you up, so it makes a good snack when combined with apples. Read the label and make sure the only ingredient is peanuts.
  • Another processed food that’s healthy is yogurt, but you have to be careful. Make sure it doesn’t contain extra sugar to improve the flavor and also has live bacteria. Opt for full fat yogurt if possible.
  • The best way to choose healthy foods is to look for food with the fewest ingredients. You don’t have to destroy your budget to eat healthier. Wise use of canned and frozen food in your diet can help you keep costs lower.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx

Why Is A Food Journal Important?

Why Is A Food Journal Important?

Many of my clients at The Worx in Alexandria, VA, have found that keeping a food journal made big difference in not only how successful they were with weight loss, but also opening their eyes to the amount of food they eat without thinking. While they might skip lunch or dinner, they may snack a little at a time throughout the day. On the surface, it seems like they barely eat, but once they write everything down, it’s amazing the number of calories consumed and how unhealthy their choices were.

You have to record everything you eat or drink.

Luckily, technology makes it far easier to track your food intake. There’s no need to carry a pencil and paper with you to record it. You can use the note area in your phone and later transcribe it and add in the amount of calories. The more information you give, the more benefit you’ll get. If you record your mood when you eat something, you can learn if you’re a stress eater or are stuffing your emotions with food.

It may not be the food that’s the problem, but what you drink.

Some people pride themselves on eating healthy, but slug down a soft drink or two with every meal. Even if it’s liquid, it still counts toward calories and in the case of a soft drink, a lot of empty calories. Think of it this way, gravy is fattening and you probably don’t pour it generously on your potatoes for that reason. It’s also a liquid. Just one small fast food 16-ounce cup of cola with a meal increases your calorie intake by 130 calories. Drink three or four of those a day and you’re adding between 390 calories and 520 calories every day. If you drank four a day and gave them up, changing nothing else, in one week you’d lose a pound.

Is a food allergy or intolerance a potential problem?

Tracking your issues, whether it’s hives, diarrhea, bloating or gas, particularly if you’re food journaling to find out if you have a food allergy or intolerance, is important. If you record feeling bloated or sick after eating certain foods, you have more of an idea what’s making you sick, particularly if it occurs several times. You’ll have more information for your health care professional if it is severe enough to go, with anecdotal incidences that provide clues to your discomfort or illness.

  • When you track your food, you can identify those times you eat mindlessly, like grabbing a few chips as you pass by a bowl or open bag or cleaning up that last bit of food from the serving bowl when you do dishes.
  • Learning portion control is another great lesson from food journaling. You’ll be able to identify what a portion size of any food is after a while and be more aware of how much you really eat.
  • You can monitor your balance of food and the percentage of carbs, fats and proteins that you consume daily to be more aware of your macronutrients.
  • There are several studies that show the benefit of food journaling. One study noted that just by journaling, without dieting, people lost weight during a three-month period, compared to a control group that didn’t.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx

How Many Times Should You Workout A Week?

How Many Times Should You Workout A Week?

If you’ve wondered how often to workout a week, you might be asking the wrong question or have missing information, like what types of workouts should you do and should they be varied. While it’s true that working out at least three days a week is a great start, you can actually do more and get good results, but not if you’re doing the same type of exercise every day.

You need all types of training.

If you’re only doing cardio, you’re not doing yourself a favor. You need a variety of training to achieve fitness in all areas, strength, balance, flexibility and endurance, also known as cardio. You need balance when you workout. If you do strength training every day, you’ll actually be doing your body a disservice. Your body needs at least 48 hours to recover, since strength training causes micro tears in the muscles. If you don’t have that time for your body to heal, it can cause muscle loss and set you back, rather than aid you in achieving your goals.

Start slower and add to your workout.

If you haven’t worked out for a while, you shouldn’t start by planning to work out at high intensity for an hour a day. It’s better to start slowly and work up toward a tougher workout. The reason is simple. Those initial workouts prepare your body and get it ready for tougher ones. If you do too much initially, you’ll either end up sore, which can lead to skipping the next workout, or injured, which leads to skipping the next month of workouts. Starting with a half-hour three days a week and building up to an hour, can help boost your chances for success.

Supplementing your workout can be quite beneficial.

If you’re working hard in the gym or online three days a week doing flexibility training and strength training, with a touch of cardio, there’s nothing wrong with going for a walk on those days off or doing yoga. Those types of workouts help you stretch your muscle groups and participate in active recovery. They’re easy on the body, but increase circulation to boost the healing of muscle tissue.

  • At The Worx, we can provide a program of healthy eating and exercise designed specifically for you. You won’t overwork your body, but will get in the right amount of exercise to see the transformation faster.
  • The longer you participate in a fitness program, the more days a week you can exercise, as long as it’s not all strength training. For the average person who isn’t a bodybuilder, strength training should never be done two days in a row.
  • No matter what your workout program, the key to success is consistency. Even the best program created by a personal trainer won’t work if you don’t do it on a consistent basis.
  • If you’re unsure where to begin, at The Worx, we offer two weeks of free at home training. You’ll get zoom workouts, meal plans and so much more, which takes the confusion out of how many days a week to train.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx Fitness!

Can Running Make You Fat?

Can Running Make You Fat?

I love watching all my people change and become their best versions of themselves at The Worx in Alexandria, VA, whether it’s working with them online or in person. I have clients that have added to their workout at the gym or the online workout by running on days they don’t do the traditional workout programs. One client was visibly upset and asked whether what she read about running was true. Does running make you fat or is that another myth?

People tend to forget the most important part of a fitness program.

If you go out for a run to the local donut shop and stop for a while to sample their wares, you probably will gain weight if you go running regularly. Running does burn calories, but it can’t compensate for a bad diet. Just one donut contains about the same number of calories as you burn in a half hour run. You’d have to run for about two and a half hours to burn off the calories of a Big Mac, without the fries and drink. There’s a saying, “You can’t out=exercise a bad diet.” It’s very true.

Running can stress the body.

Not only does running long distances cause stress, which causes cortisol to be released—that increases belly fat, it also burns calories. However, when you run, those calories come from both fat and muscle tissue. Muscle tissue uses more calories for maintenance than fat tissue does, so the more you have, the higher your metabolism will be. If you burn muscle tissue during a run, you will actually be lowering your metabolism by burning off lean muscle tissue.

Do a combination of a healthy diet and a variety of exercises.

Any exercise is better than no exercise at all, but if you have strength training built into your program, weight loss will be easier. You’ll be building muscle tissue, thus boosting your metabolism and making pounds come off more quickly. There’s nothing wrong with going for a run on your days away from your regular program, particularly if you enjoy it, but don’t skimp on strength training either.

  • When you go for a marathon run, you’re more likely to be either hungry throughout the day and eat more or lounge on the couch because you’re exhausted when you get home, burning fewer calories.
  • Vary your intensity to create a HIIT—high intensity interval training—workout. HIIT workouts burn tones of calories, so if you’re going to run, make it worth your while on those days.
  • Plan your snacks ahead. If you eat a small amount about an hour-and-a-half before a run, you’ll have the energy to run at your peak. Make sure you have a healthy snack following it. Peanut butter and jelly on whole grain or Greek yogurt with fruit makes a good combination of carbs and protein.
  • At The Worx, we can create the best diet for you with meal plans to make it even easier. You’ll lose weight in a healthy manner when you follow these and never feel hungry.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx Fitness!


How Yoga Can Be Good For You

How Yoga Can Be Good For You

We use a wide variety of workouts at The Worx in Alexandria, VA. We incorporate many of the yoga moves, particularly for flexibility training. Like strength training with weights, or running for endurance, yoga is great to help you improve your flexibility and protect you from injury. It improves your range of motion and is good for you. Many of the yoga moves and positions are used in traditional exercise programs, since they work. My goal is to always use the best exercises possible to get the fastest progress.

Exercise helps reduce chronic pain and yoga can be a start.

Whether you want to increase flexibility, which can reduce pain or improve your muscle strength and tone, which helps reduce pressure on joints and lower pain, yoga positions can help. Even though these movements may look easy, they still burn calories, which can help with weight control. Like any type of exercise, it improves respiration and boosts your energy level, lowering blood pressure in the process, too.

Many of the yoga poses are quite similar to western bodyweight exercises.

No matter what continent you’re from, everyone’s body gets the same benefits from doing certain types of exercise. If you do lunges, you’re making moves that are similar to the warrior position in yoga. Like all exercise, yoga can help with lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and improved cardio and circulatory health. Like other exercises that build strength and flexibility, it can protect your body from injury.

You’ll build strength with yoga workouts, too.

You might wonder why I promote yoga. It’s because I promote all types of exercise and am constantly working to help you reach your goals and get your healthiest. When you come to The Worx or become an online client, you’ll get the best of all types of exercise. For instance, the phalakasana forearm movement is called the forearm plank at the gym, but it’s the same move that works the whole body.

  • To get the most out of your exercise program, combine it with a program of healthy eating. Your body needs the nutrients from healthy food to be its strongest and to lose weight. No matter how hard you workout, if you eat junk, you’ll delay your weight loss or compromise it.
  • Is stress a problem in your life? Just like any type of exercise, yoga helps.
  • If you want to sleep better at night, you can turn to traditional exercise programs or turn to yoga. Both help you sleep sounder, with a higher quality of sleep.
  • When you learn exercises at The Worx, we also focus on when to inhale or exhale. Breathing techniques are important in both traditional Western exercise programs and yoga. The correct breathing techniques can help relax you and improve your workout.

For more information, contact us today at The Worx Fitness