Tag Archives: working out

Stop Procrastinating and Pre-Commit to Healthier Habits

Procrastinating can cost you so much more in healthcareWhat if I told you that we, as a nation, waste $317 billion a year in medical expenses just because of forgetfulness and procrastination? Research from Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefit manager, shows that the biggest healthcare issue facing the nation today is not illnesses related to smoking, excessive drinking or obesity due to overindulgence in bacon cheeseburgers, super-sized sodas and curly fries. No! It is what the healthcare industry calls “non-adherence” – not taking our medications as prescribed by the doctor, following guidelines and sticking to our promises to take better care of ourselves in general.

We all know the importance of diet and exercise. Yet, often times we just think up some lame excuse. My husband, for example, won’t eat dark, leafy greens as he claims he’s got supersensitive papillae on this tongue and therefore they taste way too bitter. And a friend of mine won’t get on what she terms the “Dread-mill,” even now in NYC when it’s too icy to walk outside, because she knew someone who caught her foot in the belt when it was moving and fell off. (Truth be told, I feel the same way about the “H-elliptical” machine!)

And how many people do all of us know who don’t sign up for a 401K even when it means they are losing out on the match made by their employer, just because they never “get around to it?” Voila! Procrastination at work!

Getting everyone to regularly focus on their health-related behaviors is the best method for combating issues ranging from obesity to missed doses of important maintenance medications. While the approach may be appealing, unfortunately, it may run headlong against millions of years of evolution. According to Bob Nease, Ph.D., Chief Scientist at Express Scripts, “Our brains, though amazing machines, simply are not made for continuous focus on anything that isn’t immediately painful or pleasurable. The gray matter in our heads can process about 10 million bits of information a second — the same bandwidth of the original Ethernet cable. Yet the conscious part, which we think of as our mind, can only process 50 bits every second. We are wired for inattention.” (Yikes! That’s a thousand times slower than dial-up!)

Ergo, the intent-behavior gap, which explains why we behave in ways detrimental to our health, despite our best intentions to do otherwise.

Nease cites Adam Davidson, who writes the weekly “It’s the Economy” column for The New York Times Magazine, as an example. Apparently, after a lifetime of trying and failing to lose weight, Davidson recently succeeded by committing to a program that left him no options. “Most diets and other good intentions fail because there’s always a third option — an easy way out — that allows us to tell ourselves we tried even while undermining our own success,” he explains. “And when we make a firm commitment that eliminates these escape routes, we are more likely to get results.”

According to Nease, there’s a concept known to behavioral science as ‘precommitment.’ The idea, in fact, was first documented as far back as the 8th Century BC. “In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus needed to sail his ship past the Sirens, who’s enchanting song tempted sailors to their deaths. So before entering those waters, he lashed himself to the ship’s mast so he could resist. His precommitment helped him stay the course.”

Nease contends, however, that he has yet to hear of a diet guru taking Odysseus’ approach literally –e.g., lashing our arms to the dining-room chair. “But some companies are working to make it easier for people to impose big financial penalties on themselves if they fail to meet their weight-loss goals. And precommitment strategies in the tradition of Odysseus propose a good way to navigate through modern life’s multitude of options and temptations to arrive at a healthier place.”

For their part, Express Scripts discovered, for example, that offering their employees the opportunity to precommit nearly tripled actual participation in a company exercise program. “If they agreed in advance to let us block the time on their calendar,” Nease insists, “they ultimately overcame the day-of excuses, showed up, and got in some good exercise.”

The real costs, both financially and heath-wise, come from non-adherence to taking prescribed medications. Forgetting to take a heart pill, for instance, could endanger your life. My husband must take the anti-blood clotting medicine Plavix thanks to his three coronary stents (hellooo filet mignons!!). His cardiologist doesn’t want him to miss even a single dose as that could mean a heart clog and possible death. (He always hides his pills when we have an argument, fearing that I will switch them for a placebo!)

Discipline and willpower are the simple answers, but remember what Bob Nease said about our being wired for inattention and inertia? Below are some simple pre-commitment techniques, starting with the ones I recommend to my audience:

• Use only smaller plates and eat in a room outside the kitchen, away from the refrigerator.

• Eliminate leftovers by buying food and preparing dishes in smaller quantities.

• Banish snack foods from the house. You can’t eat what you can’t find.

• If you’re a late riser, put the alarm clock across the room to avoid simply reaching over and swatting the Snooze — or worse, Off – button.

To precommit to your medications, I defer to Bob Nease:

• Tape a note to your refrigerator or set an alarm that will help make taking your pills part of your daily routine.

• Having your prescriptions delivered to your home in 90-day supplies has been proven to increase adherence.

• Check your prescription insurance plan to see if automatic refill reminders are available and how you can sign up to receive them.

• Long before you near the end of your final refill, schedule an appointment with your physician to renew the prescription. If you wait until the last minute, you might not be able to get there in time to stay on your therapy.

• Take advantage of being able to ‘opt out’ if your automatic enrollment gives you the choice. This approach leverages inertia – the opposite of patient engagement — by making you do something to stop the delivery.

No matter what method you use to pre-commit to all aspects of your personal wellbeing, remember that better decisions today lead to healthier results tomorrow. In other words, to feeling Better Than Before.

Keep Your Health and Fitness Intents by Varying Your Routine

bepresenteachmomentThe most popular resolutions that are made for New Year’s relate to health and fitness. At Intent we really push the idea that you should strive not to make resolutions or physical goals like “I want to lose 30 pounds” but dig deeper in yourself and set intentions about how you want to feel for the new year – “I want to feel healthier and have a better sense of wellness.” It’s also important that to achieve your intent you set realistic smaller goals to motivate you to satisfy the intent desire in your soul. But once you have set your intent and created realistic landmarks to help you get there, how do you stay on track? According to StatisticBrain.com, 24% of people never reach their intended resolutions.

Your chances of succeeding at your intent increase as long as you keep the passion for it alive, and that means not letting yourself get bored. More than half of new exercisers quit within three to six months after starting a workout program, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). If you get bored or dread working out then you are much less likely to keep up the regimen. So how do you step out of your comfort zone? Try these tips.

  1. Try a new healthy food or recipe once a week – By expanding your food vocabulary you force yourself to learn more about the nutritional values of food, making it easier for you to make decisions about meals and snacks in the long term. Think of finding a new recipe as a new adventure. You can learn to love new foods or love your current favorites in brand new ways and this will prevent you from getting burned out on the same routine meals. “Find healthy foods you love, or learn creative ways to prepare foods so that eating is not a punishment, but a pleasant, (sometimes even spiritual) experience that involves mindfulness and togetherness,” says Sports Club/LA nutritionist Karen Sherwood.
  2. Take a group fitness class – There are so many ways to get in shape besides tying yourself to a treadmill or elliptical. It can be as simple as going for walks outside or changing your running route. Look at your local fitness center for their classes and pick something that you’ve never tried before. In September, Sports Club/LA launched their “Recess” classes, which helped adults work out by playing the games they had so much fun playing as a child.  Or you may try one of their Blitz classes which is a full body work out designed to improve your endurance, strength and power. Take a yoga class for a month and then switch to cardio dance classes. Not only do you allow yourself the chance to try new things and meet new people, but also you work out different parts of the body and you allow exercising to be something you really enjoy rather than an appointment with a machine you’ve grown to dread. You are not a hamster on a wheel, so why create a work out routine that makes you feel like one?
  3. Stay centered and in touch with your intent – Sometimes our intents evolve as time goes on and it is important to stay connected to that feeling. Trust yourself to change as your intent changes. By building a meditation or yoga practice to keep your center you can feel when a routine has started to not work and you can use your inner instincts to adapt your routine to what your body and mind are telling you it needs. “Physical activity along with peaceful practices such as yoga or meditation to help build a refreshed sense of self. This is the glue that seals in the new lifestyle as the body begins to change physically, resulting in a new stream of motivation,” Sherwood explains.

By combining these tips you not only increase your chances of reaching your intent, but you also give yourself more opportunities to grow and learn more about your health. Being adventurous with your fitness and nutrition routines not only makes the journey more interesting but you get a deeper appreciation for the journey as you go on, and that will propel you forward. We hope you take these tips to heart and that your 2014 is healthier than ever.

Proper Nutrition to Keep Your Workout Rocking

By Tamal Dodge

We all want our workouts to have a result. It could be on a subtle level of getting peace of mind or a physical quest of losing body fat and gaining toned muscles. Regardless, nutrition plays a huge role in every facet of our goal. If we have the right foods and nutrients in our bodies, we will not only see results, but have more energy to keep our workouts rocking!

A few tips:

1. Fresh air. Oxygen is the most important nutrient for the human body. If you exercise outdoors, you will have an extra boost for your cells and attain deeper mental clarity. If you live somewhere cold and working out outdoors is not realistic, try to go outside for at least 5-10 minutes daily just to breathe deep. It will enhance your day incredibly.

2. Water. Drink lots of water — at least half of your body weight in ounces.  (If you weigh 100 pounds, drink 50 ounces of water every day.) Some people have a misconception that drinking too much water results in bloating and looking heavy. If you don’t drink water, you retain more of it, which really manifests your fear. Proper hydration helps you look leaner and boosts your energy.

3. First meal. The word breakfast come from the saying “breaking a fast.” Since it’s the first meal since the previous night’s dinner, you want to eat something highly nutritious and sustaining without being heavy. We often make the mistake of eating a huge meal first thing, draining our energy and slowing us down. I suggest drinking a smoothie or eating fruit, especially if plan on working out immediately after.

4. Eat plant-based foods instead of an omnivorous diet. The more you switch your food choices to plant-based foods the more energy, enzymes, nutrients and vitality you will have. Get your protein and carbohydrates from whole grains, beans, legumes,nuts and seeds. Try eating raw fruits and vegetables throughout your day, or with every meal to get your vitamins, phytochemicals and enzymes. This dietary shift can potentially change your entire body and give you longevity, according to studies such as the China Study and Blue Zones.

These are just a few tips to keep your workouts rocking and to see results from all your efforts.

Tamal Dodge is one of the youngest and most respected yoga instructors in the world. He was born and raised in his families yoga ashram in Hawaii and has been teaching and practicing yoga since childhood. Tamal will be teaching two classes at the Tadasana Festival in Santa Monica over Earth Day weekend: Intro to Inversion and In the Land of Power and Flow. By using his promo code, tamal7, you save $50 off a three-day festival pass until April 1. Purchase tickets here.

Photo by flickr user Tom Mooring.

Don’t Be A Gym Jerk: 11 Health Club Pet Peeves

Recently, I found myself racing around a posh health club—typically a peaceful place for me—annoyed.  Really miffed.  Possibly on the verge of going bat shit crazy… Over a jump rope.  I couldn’t find one, and this was irksome.  After all my holiday indulging, I was hoping my high intensity interval jump rope routine would be just the workout to incinerate a surplus of gingerbread cookies.

Jump ropes are pretty standard pieces of equipment for a gym—maybe the single, most standard; yet, they were nowhere to be found.  It was the health club equivalent of standing in line at Dunkin’ Donuts to be told they weren’t serving coffee that day.  I don’t even drink coffee, but I imagine this would make me peeved if I did.  I imagine it would make me want to climb over the counter and throw Munchkins at someone.

Then, I took a deep breath and my Rocky-without-a-rope moment spawned a brainstorm befitting the season.  On the cusp of the health club industry’s, um, heaviest time of year (I’m talking about increased membership sales, of course), I wondered which gym pet peeves evoke the most ire from OG readers.

I took a scientific poll, by emailing some experts.  Let’s call them my personal “brawn trust” of devoted coaches, athletes, gym rats, meatheads, and fitness fanatic friends.  Their input, along with my own thoughts, comprise this list of top gym pet peeves, also known as 11 Ways to Avoid Being a Gym Jerk in 2011.

11.  Sweat etiquette.

Hygiene ranked highest, with most people mentioning their abhorrence for those who don’t wipe down machines after use.  Lauren Hefez, an Equinox fitness instructor of the Zumba, Barre Burn, and dance variety, aptly put it, “Sweating all over a machine then not wiping it down . . . Blah.”

10.  Ring, ring, pick up the clue phone.

Talking, texting, or generally being more mesmerized by your mobile than attentive to your workout tends to tick off fellow gym goers.  What’s worse is when these cell phone infractions happen in the locker room.  Ditto computers.  True story: I once witnessed a woman power up her laptop in the locker room, while the rest of us were changing, showering, etc.  It’s not likely she was a voyeuristic creep catching us on video with her Photo Booth application, but let’s face it, stranger things have happened.  At the very least, being unable to “unplug” during a workout represents a disrespect for healthy boundaries, your own and those of the people around you.

9.  Ugly naked gal?

Weird locker rooms antics make people uncomfortable; both men and women made this clear.  Remember the sitcom Friends?  Remember Ugly Naked Guy, Monica and Rachael’s off-screen but oft-referenced neighbor who was always in the buff?  Jenn Welch, an uber athlete gal pal of mine from high school, who coaches women’s hockey, confided that a woman at her gym had a similar disdain for clothing and, thus, earned the nickname Ugly Naked Girl (the moniker being more an homage to Friends than a judgment of the woman’s appearance).  My friend made it clear she’s all for body confidence but assured me that this woman wasn’t simply an unabashed clothes changer.  Instead, she strolled and preened, brushed her teeth and blow dried her hair, and, even, applied mascara: naked.  Those nearby—fully clothed and applying their mascara, one presumes—didn’t find this real-life sitcom moment very comical.

8.  Everybody’s an expert.

A Division-1 all-American, NCAA Champion, former professional lacrosse player, and current Crossfit junkie, my friend Joe Yevoli shared, “I personally can’t stand when I have my head phones in, I’ve just finish a set of whatever exercise I’m doing, and someone comes up to me and starts telling me about some other variation of the exercise I’m currently doing that I might like.”  This seems more imposing than “Can I work in?,” which I also find off-putting.  Sure, you can work in.  In the midst of this monstrous gym, with all this equipment.  Of course it makes sense that you would need to share this adductor machine with me, right now, and, while you’re here, why don’t you advise me on how to use said adductor machine.  Because that’s not intrusive, at all.

7.  You’re so vain; I bet you think this post is about you.

From spending inordinate amounts of time primping before a workout, to wearing such elaborate workout apparel as to look like one is attending some kind of Nike prom, to grunting so loud that everyone in the vicinity must look at you at the exact moment you max out on the bench press . . . Vanity was among the more entertaining yet cringe worthy complaints shared.

6.  Spacial relations.

Observance of personal space is important, but it can also be a matter of safety at the gym. Another former professional lacrosse player, Crossfit fan, and triathlete “Om Bro” Reece Pacheco describes this as one of his pet peeves, “People who aren’t conscious of others’ lifting space (if I’m doing power cleans, then no, you shouldn’t walk right behind me—that goes for you, girl-who-works-at-the-gym!).”

5.  Sub-par staffers.

Any establishment is made or broken by its staff.  In general, health club staffers are helpful, cheerful, and energetic—perhaps due to the regular doses of endorphins they experience during exercise.  These people create bonds with members, which, in turn, make people feel more connected to their gym.  When people feel a connection to a place, they visit more often.  In the case of a gym, this directly and positively impacts one’s health.  Alternatively, unpleasant or aloof staffers and unhealthy role models (e.g. teachers and trainers) can subtly undermine our wellness goals.  I once attended a great, challenging, fun fitness class in which the teacher attempted to motivate us by telling us to get rid of “that disgusting fat behind our arms.”  Maybe this “tough love” approach works for some, but I think people are generally hard enough on their own bodies without others joining in.  Despite being a great workout, I never went back to the class.

4.  Can you hear me now?

Health clubs, like restaurants, spas, or yoga studios, have their own ambiance.  The right ambiance, even when simple and inexpensive, sets a mood, inspires positive associations, and creates good energy, with elements such as music, lighting, and décor.  Loud music, audible even through our own headphones, messes with our workout mojo.

3.  Broken/poorly kept equipment (and missing jump ropes).

For me this is one of the biggest bummers.  Nothing derails a workout like hopping on an elliptical that sounds like a jalopy in need of AAA roadside assistance or looking forward to skipping away the stir crazy of a recent blizzard only to find that all the jump ropes have gone AWOL.

2.  Teeny Towels.

This one needs no explanation.  We’ve all been there: You sweated.  You showered.  You’re standing in the shower stall, dripping wet, eyeing a towel the size of a cocktail napkin.  Now what?

1.  No shows.

Spoken like a true coach and apropos for the time of year, when asked for his top gym pet peeve, Jack Fultz, winner of the 1976 Boston Marathon, respected running coach of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge Running Team, and motivational speaker simply said, “The people who don’t come.”

If you’ve experienced any of the these pet peeves or have your own to share, post a comment.  If your resolution includes “getting in shape” this year, you’re in good company!  It’s the most popular resolution made each year.  Have fun hitting the gym, and, perhaps, consider bringing your own (standard-sized) towel.

Best Exercise Ball Routines

 
 
You have probably seen these colorful balls in your gym or in a magazine. There is a good reason that they have become so ubiquitous. Exercise balls are inexpensive and focus on your “core.” The “core” is defined asbalanced development of the deep and superficial muscles that stabilize, align, and move the trunk of the body, especially the abdominals and muscles of the back.”
 
Here are some great exercises you can do with only an exercise ball to help you strengthen your muscles, tone your body and look fabulous!
 
 
Back Extensions.  Make sure the ball is placed at your lower torso and hips. Put your hands behind your head and slowly roll your body down the ball. Lift your chest until your body is in a straight line. Repeat 12-16 times.
 
Seated Leg Extensions will strengthen both your abs and your back. Sit in a neutral, lumbar position. Place your hands on your hips, keep your back straight and shoulders down. Lift one foot at a time and straighten the knee. Repeat 10-20 times.
 
 
CrunchesIf you want flat abs, this is the way to do it! Keep your feet flat on the floor and your lower back on the ball. Your upper body and thighs should be parallel to the floor. Do sit-ups/crunches like you usually would.   Repeat 8-12 times. 
 
 
SquatsProp the ball between your lower back and the wall. Your feet should be hip-width apart. Bend at your knees and hips and move back-and-forth from a sitting to a standing position. Repeat 8-15 times. 
 
Plank Pike-UpThis exercise looks more difficult than it actually is. Lie on top of your ball with your shins on the ball and your hands on the floor. Use your abs and legs to roll the ball to your center. Lift your hips and keep your head down. Hold for one count and then roll it back. Repeat 10-12 times.
 
Bent-Knee BridgesTone up that behind with this great ball exercise! Place your feet flat on the ball. Extend your arms on either side, keeping your head and neck flat on the floor. Raise and lower your pelvis 10-20 times.
 
Opposite Limb Extensionswill improve both your balance and your core strength. Alternately lift your lift arm and right leg, hold for a count, lower, and then raise your right arm and left leg. 

 PHOTO (cc): Flickr /  Ksionic

Get More From Your Usual Stroll: Tips for Walking With Weights

Want to get more out of your work out?  Add weights!  Even light weights (2-5 lbs) can increase the rate at which you burn both fat and calories, all in the same amount of time as your usual routine.  In addition to losing weight, you will also increase your muscle tone and improve your cardiovascular health.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your weighted workout!

Using Ankle Weights:

1.      Don’t Use Heavy Weights.  Your goal is to improve your cardio rate, not add strength.

2.     Ankle Weights should be tight.  Don’t let them be loose around your foot as this will affect your natural stride.

3.     Consult Your Doctor if You Have Joint Issues.  If you have had difficulty with ankles, knees, or hips in the past, be sure to ask your doctor whether you should use ankle weights and how many pounds is safe.

Using Hand Weights:

1.     Swing Your Arms.  And do so higher than you normally would, at a 90 degree angle, bent at the elbows.

2.     Bicep Curls.   Tone up your triceps by extending your arms above your head.  Keep your upper arms close to your ears, and bend your arms behind you. Aim for 12-15 repetitions.

3.     Ten Hut!  Raise your weights when you step with your right foot and lower then when you step with the left.

4.     Lateral Lifts will tone the entire arm. Lift straight out in front of you until parallel with the ground.  Lift and lower for about 15 repetitions, and alternate between keeping the tops of your hands flat and straight and turning them to the sides.

Make (or Break) Your Workout: The Best Post-Gym Foods

I’m the first to admit that I’m a gym rat. To me, it’s relatively easy to sweat for about an hour while watching the Today Show, and then sail on through my day filled with those happy workout-given endorphins. 

The hard part for me, on the other hand, is deciding what to eat after my workout. I don’t always fit in the time to eat between the gym and the office, and sometimes I grab a greasy croissant on the way. Good post-workout food choices don’t come naturally to me. But I put a lot of effort into those grueling boot-camp classes and morning runs, so why not maximize that effort by filling up the right way? With all the hype out there—low-carb, low-calorie, high-protein, detox—what’s really the best, trend-free choice? What should the goal be (other than channeling Jessica Biel’s physique) when building a meal immediately after a workout? 

Fueling Up Right Matters
According to Pam Shawver, a Denver-based nutritionist, “You need to eat right immediately after … and that meal should contain specific elements.” When it comes to maximizing all that hard work we put in, whether it’s a spinning class, weightlifting, or a yoga session, the most important meal we eat is the one we gobble right after we exercise. Giving muscles the right food—at the right time—helps them build that tone that we all lust after. And this doesn’t mean egg whites and protein shakes (so keep reading!). 

After a strenuous workout of any kind, we’ve sweated out fluid, depleted our energy stores, and created small tears in our muscles that need repairing. Sounds wrong, but those micro-tears are actually good for us; it’s how working out makes our bodies stronger. When the muscles repair themselves, they rebuild stronger. This is known as the catabolic state, and an optimal post-workout meal will bring us back to our pre-workout, or anabolic, stage where energy stores are refilled and broken-down tissue is repaired. 

We make up for the lost fluid by drinking water. But we’re still left with depleted energy levels—technically referred to as our glycogen stores—and muscles that need repairing. How do we best address these needs? Our glycogen stores are sort of like a car’s gas tank—we need to refill it properly so the body’s ready to go next time we hop behind the wheel. “The best way to do this is to eat carb-rich foods within thirty minutes of working out,” says Kim Geisel, a Los Angeles–based personal trainer. “The body is starving for nutrients during this window of time.”

The Right Carbs and Proteins
Which carb-rich foods will do the trick? Ideally, says Geisel, we should take in a serving of carbs to replenish glycogen stores in that half-hour window, then take in another serving two to three hours later. (Carb lovers rejoice!) We should aim for slow-burning carbs, technically called complex carbohydrates, because they stick with us longest, allowing us to get more energy out of less food. Plus, they keep our blood sugar from spiking and crashing—a process that makes that 500-calorie pumpkin scone look less irresistible on a late-afternoon coffee run. Outsmart the scone with lasting choices like oatmeal, sprouted wheat toast, and brown rice. 

It’s not just about carbs, though. Adding some protein into the mix, around ten to eighteen grams or the equivalent of a serving of almond butter, a small piece of chicken, or a glass of milk, is important, too. This not only helps us replenish energy levels even quicker, but it stimulates muscle repair with amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Adding a little protein also keep us fuller longer, building up extra defenses against those late-afternoon candy crashes. 

Foods That Fit the Bill
Now that our post-workout meal IQ has been bumped way up, we know that we can concoct pretty much any combination of complex carbs and lean protein to fit the bill. For those of us lacking the time and creativity to come up with our own, I found some nutritionist-approved standbys. 

An Anytime Breakfast
Even though eggs and toast take about five minutes to whip up, they pack nutritional power that meets all our refueling needs. Eggs are one of the healthiest, lowest calorie sources of protein out there. I always go organic and cage-free because I think they taste better. (And after reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma I can’t help but shudder when I think of chicken cages.) Plus, (rejoice again!) the yolks are just fine in moderation. My go-to brekky is a full egg with an additional white and some toasted sprouted wheat bread with jam spread on it. Toss in a little cheese and some fresh veggies and you’ve got a gourmet breakfast. 

A Powerful Sandwich
It’s easy to go wrong with a sandwich (melts, mayonnaise, calorie-laden bread), but it’s also super simple to do it right. Plus, we can eat it on the go and even buy a good one from the nearest deli. Building blocks that would make any personal trainer proud include lean protein like turkey and chicken breast, ham, or fish, plus wholesome bread, and smart add-ons. “Wholesome bread means as close to 100 percent whole wheat as you can get,” says Shawver. The only way to tell is to read labels at the store. If I’m at a deli that serves a whole-wheat roll the size of my head? “Rip half off and throw it away. Roll the sandwich with what’s left,” Shawver says. “No one needs that much bread!” That’ll leave room for extras like avocado, veggies, and even a slice or two of cheese.

 A DIY Milkshake
Got a blender handy? Toss in some fruit, milk, or yogurt, and some almond or peanut butter. Blend it all together, and you’ve got a drink-on-the-go recovery shake that tastes a whole lot better and costs a whole lot less than those pre-made sports drinks from the store. Plus, it’s probably healthier—no added sugar or indecipherable ingredients. Not a milk drinker? I like to use almond milk in place of regular. Soy would work, too. 

A Fill-in-the-Blank Dinner
Any fish + any complex carb + any veggies = one heck of a post-workout meal. Of course, this takes a little more time, so it’s more of a dinner or weekend lunch option, but preparing a big meal like this on Sunday leaves leftovers ready to zap throughout the workweek. Whether it’s tuna, brown rice, and sautéed spinach or halibut stuffed into a corn tortilla with tomatoes and avocado, there are tons of ways to fill in the fish, complex carb, and veggie blanks. Plus, they’ll keep us satisfied past that late-night munching hour. 

Plant-Based Proteins
There are tons of options for those of us who are working with meat-free, lactose-free, and vegan diets. Beans are an easy and versatile standby (just rinse them off first thing when you take them out of the can) that contain both protein and complex carbs. Nuts and nut butter with toast also checks off all the requirements. And certain grains like bulgur, quinoa, and sprouted wheat toast also have higher protein contents than many traditional carbs. 

Common Errors: Easy to Make, Easy to Avoid
When we’re aware of common post-workout pitfalls, it’s easier to avoid negating all that hard work with uninformed food choices. “The most common mistakes I see are not eating enough and choosing high-sugar, high-calorie protein bars and shakes,” says Geisel. 

If we don’t eat enough, we’re not only denying our bodies the fuel it needs to rebuild, get stronger, and power us through our day, but we’re setting ourselves up for extreme hunger and unhealthy food choices later in the day. 

Store-bought protein bars and shake mixes seem smart (they look so healthy in that health-food section, right?), but many have extremely high levels of fat and refined sugar. These “health snacks” are tasty because they’re basically a candy bar and a milkshake in different clothing. Fixated on a bar? Read labels and avoid any added sugar and ingredient lists longer than six or seven items. And if you’re really looking for some shake mix to have on hand, the Jay Robb line is a tasty, natural alternative. 

No matter what time of day we exercise, or what type of exercise it is, the key is to follow the workout with foods that help us recover without packing on a bunch of calories that negate all our hard work. Whether it’s a snack, a drink, or a real meal, a few well-spent minutes in the kitchen can mean just as much as the hour we spend working up a sweat.

Updated August 31, 2010

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / burnt pixel

Home Cardio Exercises That Won’t Disturb Your Neighbors Living A Floor Below You

Surely some of you apartment dwellers face the same dilemna that I do when it comes to having a makeshift workout routine at home. 

I already rock with the sit-ups and weight-lifting in the comforts of my studio apartment. I also want to cardio work-outs at home, but I live on the third story and I don’t want my rigorous jumping jacks to disturb the tenants living below me. Buying a stationary bike or treadmill is also out of the question. What options do I have to work up my heart rate without getting the evil eye from my second-foor neighbors? 

With a little creativity, there are a couple of good cardio options for those of us who want to work out without paying gym membership or ruining relations with fellow tenants. Here are some ideas for working out at home, even for those of us with neighbors living right above us, below us, and next to us.

1. Walk up and down the stairs two or three times during the day. When I have to walk up and down three flights of stairs to do laundry in the one washer and dryer in the basement level, I always work up a good sweat just from doing this menial chore. If you live on a multiple story building, take advantage of it! Walk up and down the stairs and even if you may look crazy to some of your neighbors, at least you’re looking crazy–in glowing good health.

2. Dance rigorously for ten minutes with your headphones on, and be careful with stepping softly. You can still dance rigorously and work up a sweat–just land softly even though your body is moving like crazy.

3. Belly dance. It requires a lot of movement but it won’t produce loud, obnoxious steps like jump-roping on the wooden floor.

4. Invest in a mini-trampoline. Otherwise known as rebounders, these mini-trampolines will absorb the shock and sound of jumping directly on the floor, and is also better for your joints as well.

5. Make your own homemade aerobic step with old telephone bookes and glue. Do your aerobic steps on a tile floor, or cover the area you are stepping on with an area rug, which makes a huge difference in reducing noise level.

6. Do vigorous walks when you have to run errands to a nearby location. Need to grab something form the supermarket or deliver mail at the post office? Put on your running shoes and go for a very brisk walk to pick up those milk and eggs. Though this technically does not count since it does happen outdoors, getting your minimum dosage of natural vitamin D from moderate sunshine exposure does a body a whole lot of good.

For very do-able strength training exercises you can do in the comfort of your own living room, check out Holly Perkins’ very excellent video demonstration of 5 easy exercises you can do at home.

PHOTO  (cc): Flickr / deleted.scenes

 

Cult of Personality: What Your Workout Says About You

What you wear says a lot about you, as does where you buy your groceries (yuppie Whole Foods shopper or Waldbaum’s bargain hunter?), how you commute to work (conscientious cycler or SUV gas guzzler?), and even what you order for lunch (disciplined salad muncher or zest-for-life pasta fiend?). It’s the little things that draw the biggest pictures of our personality. So it should come as no surprise that our individual fitness routines tell the stories of our lives, too. 
 
 
What does your workout project about your personality? Suzanne Brue, author of The 8 Colors of Fitness, is the first to create a system of evaluating exercise regimens based on the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment. She’s classified people’s workouts into eight color-coded categories that correspond to their general personality traits. Are you a safety-conscious blue or a fun and flexible silver? Read on to find out. 

Personality Is a Four-Letter Word
The Myers-Brigg assessment determines your four-letter personality profile by classifying your behavior patterns in four distinct areas. Are you an introvert (I) who draws on inner resources for motivation, or are you an extrovert (E) who draws her energy from the world around her? Do you process information through 
intuition (N) and gut feelings, or do you rely instead on sensing (S) and seeking out hard facts and data? Are you a thinker (T) with detached and analytical reasoning habits, or a feeler (F) who makes emotional decisions? Finally, do you tend to judge (J) people and situations, finding comfort in definite answers and closure, or do you prefer to fully perceive (P) the world around you, keeping your options open before drawing any conclusions? 
 
There are sixteen possible permutations of these traits, which Brue has combined so that they reflect the following eight fitness types. 
 
Gold: Traditional and Social (ESTJ, ESFJ)
Like blues, golds are also traditional and conservative, but they’re more outgoing. They look to authority figures, like doctors and trainers, to help them build their fitness routines around proven methods. They also seek precision in all things and often ask for help in perfecting their forms. Group classes, such as yoga and Pilates, satisfy this desire for authority and positive reinforcement, as does working closely with a personal trainer. Golds also enjoy swimming, tennis, and hiking because these activities have clear, specific goals and accessible role models. 

 

Green: Nature Lover (ISTP, ISFP)
You’ll almost never find greens in the gym. That’s because they’re outside, getting their exercise the natural way. They usually prefer to be alone, working toward a set goal or just attuning themselves to the rhythms of the outdoors. You’ll find greens hiking, biking, mountain climbing, or running, though they may do some weight lifting to train for a long hike or climb. 
 
Red: Enthusiastic and Competitive (ESTP, ESFP)
Reds have a ton of energy and a competitive spirit. They want to be where the action is. Like greens, reds see the gym as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. Treadmills are just too boring for these guys. Unless they’re power-lifting, reds would much rather be outside, playing a team sport or a pickup game, such as basketball, beach volleyball, or touch football, with their friends. 
 
White: Independent and Introspective (INTJ, INFJ)
Whites use the rhythm of exercise to help them get more in touch with themselves. They prefer their own spaces and tried-and-true routines that leave their minds free. You’ll typically find whites at the gym during off-peak hours, listening to their iPods on treadmills or elliptical trainers. Whites tend to avoid group classes, since they resent any outward interference in their routines. They prefer hiking, running, yoga (done alone), and cardio and strength training at the gym. 
 
Saffron: Expressive and Spontaneous (INTP, INFP)

Brue writes that she chose the color saffron to represent this workout personality because it commands attention in a warm, comfortable way that is also subtle. Saffrons, too, are lively but not extravagant. They struggle with motivation if they aren’t in the mood. Yet they also seek challenges and don’t let their desire for fun lapse into frivolity. Saffrons do best when they mix up their workouts and choose fun activities. Dancing, group classes such as Zumba and spinning, and biking all appeal to these vivacious types. If they do work out on machines, saffrons will always have a great mix of funky beats to keep them motivated.

 

 

Color Me Fit
If you’re interested in finding out more about your workout color, check out Brue’s quiz on her 
Web site. And remember—any exercise, no matter what the color, is good exercise. If you’re a blue who wants to test her mettle and get dirty with the reds now and then, don’t let Brue’s categories stop you. They’re meant to be a guide for developing a workout that truly satisfies you, because the number one goal of any sound fitness regime.

 

Top 10 Workout Playlist: Get GLEEful:)!

GLEE is a noun defined as, “being full of joy”. It’s also one of my favorite, new TV shows this year having won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy. I love their diversely rich cast, and their weekly song mash-up that’s a combination of favorite new and oldie tunes. Lately, I’ve been adding some GLEE tunes to my workout playlist, because they make me smile:)

 

 

1. Don’t Stop Believin’—Glee Cast (3:50)

2. Bust a Move—Glee Cast (4:24)

3. Don’t Stand So Close To Me—Glee Cast (4:17)

4. Push It—Glee Cast (3:17)

5. Mercy—Glee Cast (3:27)

6. Gold Digger—Glee Cast (3:00)

7. Defying Gravity—Glee Cast (2:21)

*For more great workout articles including free workout videos visit me @http://www.LindaLaRue.com/members.

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