Before I make my list, I want to commend Women’s Health. If you’re looking for a subscription, Kara and I both tend to love this magazine over the competition. It’s consistently filled with high-quality articles that are both fun and educational. Men’s Health also tends to be the chosen magazine for better articles and information over the competitors.
I loved so much of what I read this month and struggled to narrow down my list to only five. After contemplating changing my blog to “Touts’ Ten”, I realized life has it’s challenges and this shouldn’t be one. So, my list goes as follows:
1. Instruction matters
Verbal articulation is everything in Pilates. If an instructor doesn’t correctly explain what to do and when to do it, half of our effort may be wasted and our bodies will be unchanged by default. Also, if the student isn’t concentrating and fully listening, well… the same follows.
In a recent study, exercisers who were told which muscles to engage during strength moves were 26% more likely to activate that muscle then without guidance. This is a huge percentage! Listen to every cue and tap into every muscle.
Keep in mind–this percentage of change is just for verbal cues. What if other senses are used in addition to verbal aids? What would the percentage of muscle engagement be then? Don’t be afraid of a teacher’s hands-on instruction; it could drastically increase the efficiency of your workout.
Additionally, think about this in regards to working out on your own versus in a class. When in class, really concentrate and listen when you have instructor guidance so you can take what you’ve learned in your muscle memory to better engage your muscles on your own.
2. All in the clothes
When I run or workout for over an hour, I hate feeling uncomfortable. Let me rephrase; I can’t be uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable can completely distract me or hinder my focus, and my workout’s much shorter than intended. Whether it is a sleeve bothering me or fabric chaffing, it leads to an awful experience. We have enough going on with sweating, panting, having knee pain or just being tired; we don’t need another excuse to quit a workout.
Solution: I take my clothing seriously. It doesn’t have to match or be the top of the line, but I need to feel good in it. Lululemon, among other expensive fitness lines, really lets you wear the brand instead of the brand wearing you. It feels like the fabric becomes part of your legs and reaches with your stride. Also, there’s no denying that a good pair of their pants magically simulates a perfect, cellulite-free ass. I don’t know how they do it, but they do.
Big news in this month’s SELF magazine. There might be another perk to these tight pants we love so much! Compression apparel can increase blood flow, which helps flush the muscles of waste and assist recovery during interval training. This means that we can gain more stamina, helping us go farther and faster. Next time you’re shopping for apparel take this into consideration and buy a comfy, fitted pair of pants!
So, I guess my $100 pants are worth it? AND maybe I should get a new pair in another color?
3.Break your fast
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” This phrase is almost as recognizable as “An apple a day will keep the doctor away.” That said, maybe there some truth behind this.
A recent report found that people who started their day on empty are 75% more likely to be overweight than regular AM eaters. (AM eating means more than coffee with soy milk). So why is eating at this time of day so hard for us? Often we are rushed, not hungry yet, or just think its the best way to diet. Solution: stop rushing, no one is making you feast and no, it’s actually counterproductive to your diet.
At night, our body is fasting and running on our own resources and insulin to find energy. When we eat something healthy in the AM, we give our body the energy so it can stop using our resources and lower our blood sugar. What we feed our bodies is also a key factor. You’re breakfast should be anywhere between 250 – 500 calories and should breakdown into 53% carbs, 27% fat, 20% protein.
Perfect option: Two egg omelet with spinach and an apple (260 cal.) or one sunny side up egg with a piece of toast and a little Romano cheese (210). Delicious and good for you!
If you’re really short on time in the morning, there’s always planning the day before. Hard-boiled eggs, greek yogurt, fruit and peanut butter are all good to have in the house for those rushed mornings.
4.You workout, you eat healthy, you lose no weight. Why?
A lot of us work so hard to lose a pound, an inch, anything, but continue to see no results. If you begin to dissect your day-to-day schedule you may fine one continual issue…
The weekend. We work so hard five days of the week, but for what if all our rules go out the door those two days.
A recent study found that the average adult consumes more than 415 extra calories every weekend than the rest of their week. The extra calories come easily from happy hours, dining out, more snacking, less exercise, and even boredom. They add up fast and affect most of us every week(end).
The first step is acknowledging it. If you’re honest about how much you ate and drank on Saturday in comparison to Wednesday then you can begin to modify or change your behavior. Maybe you don’t want to change your behavior, which is completely fine, but you need to accept that your weight may stay the same and be okay with that too.
The second step is finding one big difference and ratifying it. For example, every weekend you may find you go out to a fun dinner where you snack on bread prior to your meal and have two glasses of wine (or more). Instead, have no bread and only one or two glasses of wine. The key is to make the change small instead of drastically changing the structure you love so much. Continue to add healthy activities every week and cut unhealthy behaviors, but take small steps for longterm effects.
5. Sport and Energy Drinks
A variety of magazines are addressing the benefits, if any, in all the sports drinks American’s consume daily. Long story short: we don’t need them.
It’s not that these drinks have bad ingredients, but they’re just unnecessary. You don’t need the carbohydrate boost from these drinks unless you are using them during a fitness routine that’s exceeding 75-minutes. Otherwise, you should be consuming the nutrients and vitamins these drinks provide in a regular diet.
If you like the flavor of a sports drink every now and then, by all means indulge. But, be smart and read the label. If you’re drinking a flavored nutrient-filled drink, like Vitamin Water, have the ZERO, the one without calories. Some drinks have 20, 40, 60 even 100 calories per serving. And when each bottle has 3 servings, you could potentially be drinking another meal. The point is: be mindful of the labels, assess what your body really needs in the moment and in general stick with the zero calorie options.
I hope some of this strikes a cord and you learn something new every time. I know I do!