5 Signs You Need a Shakeup to Your Shapeup

SONY DSCWhen it comes to exercise, it’s always good to mix it up a bit, but there are also times when your exercise routine may be ready for a more major overhaul. Because exercise is a personal thing, and your workout results (and problems) can only be recognized by you, here are a few things to be on the lookout for to determine if you need a shakeup in your shapeup. No matter if you’re a novice to physical fitness or an expert, here are 5 signs that you need to switch up your exercise regime ASAP! –

  1.  If you’re working out and eating properly, you should be seeing results. If you aren’t seeing anything noticeable in the mirror, or if your clothing sizes haven’t changed (or gotten tighter), it’s likely that you need a new exercise routine. With the right routine, you should be able to watch your body transform, even if it is only a little bit. Inches should be coming off and you should start to see more tone to your body.
  2. If in the beginning you wanted to lose weight and improve your endurance, so you did a lot of cardio exercises, such as running on the treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, etc. However, now that you’ve lost weight and built-up your endurance, you want to focus more on gaining muscle, which requires lifting weights. When your fitness goals change, your workout routine should change with them.
  3. Exercising releases hormones within the brain that are supposed to induce a happier mood. If you’re unhappy with your exercise routine, you rush through your exercises, you cannot wait to get out of the gym, or you find yourself losing focus when you work out, you may be bored. A boring workout is never a good one, and it only makes sense to change it. Being unhappy with your workouts means that you aren’t doing exercises that make you feel good. You should be enthused (okay if ‘enthused’ doesn’t quite describe you, let’s just say you shouldn’t dread your workout), and by the end of it all you should be happy with the physical activity that you do.
  4. You could do your workout routine with your eyes closed. You don’t sweat nearly as much as you used to. You don’t have to put forth a lot of effort to complete your workout. When your workout becomes a walk in the park instead of a challenge, it’s definitely time to change things around. You want your workouts to challenge you and to cause you to push yourself to the limit. If you are going to take the time to exercise, you might as well make it count.
  5. Since the day you’ve started working out until now, you’re been doing the same exact exercise. Even though you’re comfortable with this routine, it’s always helpful to switch up your routine at least every couple of weeks. Doing the same workout for months at a time could not only lead to boredom, but your body get used to the workout and you may find that your exercises are now completely and ineffective.

Tricks For Travel – How to Eat Healthy on Vacation

Fall break starts soon, and we are making our annual trip to San Diego. Fortunately, we stay in a house with a great kitchen, so we don’t have to eat out every meal, but it still seems like temptation is lurking in every corner café.

It’s difficult eating healthy while on vacation, even with a kitchen stocked full of healthy options. But there’s no sense ruining my diet for a week of excessive eating. The key is to find that happy medium between feast and healthy. So here are some of my tricks to stay on track.

On The Road:

We are driving to San Diego, and often times boredom can be mistaken for hunger. Eating healthy and road trips are two words that are not commonly used together, but it is possible.

We will pack a cooler full of healthy snacks like fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy sandwiches, string cheese, yogurt, and my new favorite munchy snack – Trader Joe’s Organic Popcorn with Olive Oil… and lots of water to keep us hydrated.

Of course we will need to pull over to stretch our legs and use the bathroom. The roadside stops can be dangerous territory, but with a cooler packed with good food, there is no need to buy any treats at the roadside stops.

When to indulge:

Most cities have unique foods and treats that may be worth the indulgence.  I can’t think of anything specific to San Diego, but we definitely have our favorites there…including my Mom’s biscuit and gravy breakfast.  It is all about how much you eat, so limit your treats to the local goodies and the ones that are really worth it. (Read: a Big Mac is not okay)

It can be very tempting to take a vacation from your healthy diet —when on vacation.  Vacation eating is much more mental, as we have a completely different mindset when we are taking a break from the daily grind. But there is no reason to throw caution to the wind and use vacation as an excuse to pig out.

In San Diego, there is nothing better than walking up and down the boardwalk, but eventually someone wants to stop and grab a bite. And it is no fun to sit and watch everyone else gobble down their ice cream cone or bag of *insert fattening snack here*.  If I am hungry, a small scoop of ice cream or a low-cal, nonfat drink is the perfect solution.

I also plan a cheat day, just like I would if I were at home— usually gravy and biscuit day, where I treat myself to whatever sounds good.

There is nothing better than a great vacation, and the memories of spending time with family. But the feeling of getting on the scale after a week at the beach, and seeing the same number as when I started, is priceless.

Exercise Smart to Avoid Injury

I thought I had bowlers elbow from playing X-Box with Samantha, but after a few weeks, I thought  it may be a more serious injury. It can be very frustrating to have to halt your progress due to a strain, but you can definitely hurt yourself and cause pain if you aren’t paying attention to your body.

The idea behind smart exercising is to work out with intensity, but equally as important— avoid doing anything that will hinder the process of getting into shape. When you’re exercising, you will reach a point where your muscles begin to tire, and you feel like you should stop. This is where it gets a little tricky, and you really have to pay attention to what you are doing.

My advice to exercising smarter usually refers to intensity, and I recommend pushing yourself beyond that limit where you start to feel tired. However, it must be something you can realistically do by keeping the same form that you started with.

If you keep trying to do more and more repetitions by whatever means possible, like swinging the weights or using other muscles to “cheat”, you are not doing any of your muscles any good.

Building up muscle takes time, and your muscles are only capable of so much. That is why you exercise them, so that they become stronger. But you still must take care by paying attention. If you push farther than your muscles can go, then you will possibly strain, tear, or otherwise injure your muscles and body. If you hurt yourself while exercising, you may be out of commission for a while and not be able to make progress.

On another note, there is something called delayed onset muscle soreness. It is common after exercise to feel a little tenderness in your muscles. This is completely different from an injury. To read about DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) check out this link to an article I wrote all about it. http://fitchicktricks.com/why-do-muscles-get-sore-after-exercise/

Symptoms of DOMS:

1. The pain is generalized and usually a dull pain or tenderness .

2. It tends to arise symmetrically in the body .

3. It lasts a short time (24-48 hours) then goes away.

Symptoms of an injury:

1. The pain is localized in one area of your body. It can be a sharp pain when the muscle is moved in a certain way.

2. The pain lasts for 3 days or more.

So after a month of thinking that I had injured my bicep, I was not doing any upper body exercises involving my right arm. And it was not getting any better, so I finally went to the doctor, and come to find out, I have tennis elbow. Or in my case it is more accurately described as “mouse” elbow, as I am always on the computer writing about health and fitness.  The rest I was giving my arm was completely the wrong type of rest. But now I know how to work to get rid of my mouse elbow. Luckily it doesn’t include giving up the computer.

Free Weights v.s. Machines

A friend of mine recently asked me what type of workout I do. I change my workouts often, but currently I take a spinning class three times a week, I do a leg work out two times a week, and I split my upper body into two days. But one thing remains consistent no matter what kind of mix and match exercise routine I am doing. I try to stay off of the machines, and here is why:

  1. Machines control your range of motion.
    Sounds like a good thing, right? Not really. Machines often eliminate a lot of work on your part. This is great for beginners, but once you’re past the rookie stage, it is much more effective to be in control of your movement and range of motion.
  2. Many machines put you in a seated position.
    Whenever possible, a standing position is better. Standing while working with weights, pulleys, or bands loads your skeleton (good for bone health), requires you to engage your core muscles, and challenges your balance. It’s like a three for one.
  3. Many machines may isolate only one muscle group.
    Our muscles rarely work in isolation. Although there’s nothing wrong with supplementing a good workout with exercises that isolate a muscle group. But exercises likes squats, lunges, and assisted pull-ups involve several joints which develops more muscle mass (muscle burns calories all day long), improves core strength, and shortens workout time.
Of course there will always be circumstances where a machine will come in handy, and some days you may want the assistance of a machine or look forward to sitting down through parts of your workout, but if you have a choice between a machine and free weights or body weight exercises, try to go with the weights.

Eating Right-5 Foods For A Better Workout

Eat Right For A Better Workout

Exercise and nutrition go hand in hand to create a fit and healthy life, but sometimes there is so much information, it can be confusing.  We take the time to eat right and exercise, so it is always nice to know when we are doing it right.

Being strategic with nutrition is a must for maximum results, and what you eat before working out can either make or break your workout.  Everyone has a different schedule and different workout times, so what you eat depends on when you workout.

It takes time for food to digest, and the last thing you want is a stomach full of food gurgling around while you try to focus on your exercise.

The kind of exercise you are doing is also important in determining the best pre-workout meal. It makes sense for a marathon runner to carb load the night before a race, but an apple might be better suited if you are going for a lunchtime date with the treadmill.

The article from I Village, “5 Foods To Fuel Your Workout,”  doesn’t just provide a few ideas for pre-workout menu items, but it offers a how to guide for timing meals depending on what time of day you work out, what kind of exercise you are doing, as well as using catchy titles to help remember these tips. Names like the Double A and Berry Cheesy may become an important part of your food lingo.

Leave the guesswork behind when deciding what to eat before your workout. This article will help you to keep your nutrition requirements in check, along with some yummy pre-workout ideas. Here is an excerpt from the article which highlights the five foods to fuel up.

“With a smear

This is one of my favorite snacks, period. I take some hearts of celery and fill in the groove with some organic almond butter or peanut butter. This snack really travels well in Tupperware and makes a terrific pre-workout snack. Why? The celery has fiber and nutrients (including calcium and vitamin A) and a ridiculously low 6 calories per medium stalk. The nut butter has protein and fat. The overall calories are low, and this really fills you up without slowing you down, providing great “slow-release” energy for a terrific workout

The double A

Simply put, an apple with almonds. The apple is the perfect food for a pre-exercise snack. The sugar load is moderate, it contains valuable pectin fiber which slows the entrance of that sugar into the bloodstream, and it’s a nutritional powerhouse containing vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Combine it with about a dozen almonds, which add some fat and protein. They’ll further slow the entrance of the sugar into the bloodstream for sustained energy and keep hunger away.

Whey to go

Whey protein is my favorite kind of protein powder. Not only is it extremely high-quality, bioavailable protein; it supports the immune system by providing the building blocks for glutathione, arguably the body’s most important antioxidant. And studies indicate that whey protein may boost weight loss efforts. According to one French study, eating whey before exercise supports fat burning and may help with gaining or maintaining lean body mass. I suggest a whey protein shake made with either water alone or with frozen berries. The berries add fiber, nutrients and some extra carbohydrates, and make for a more delicious drink.

Berry cheesy

Here’s a tidbit of info that you might enjoy: In my book The 150 Healthiest Foods on the Planet, I asked 16 nutrition experts to contribute lists of their 10 favorite healthy foods. Berries, especially blueberries, made the list of more experts than any other food. Berries are loaded with phytonutrients, antioxidants and fiber, and are low in sugar. Mix a bowl of berries with a piece of string cheese for the perfect pre-workout snack. The string cheese has 8 grams of protein, some fat to keep hunger at bay and only about 80 calories. And it’s an excellent source of calcium.

TG: too good

The initials of this snack stand for turkey and grapes. It’s a perfect match of protein, carbs and low calories to take the edge off your hunger and prime your exercise pump. Four small slices of deli-packaged turkey contain only 87 calories but give you more than 14 grams of protein, plus some of the cancer-fighting mineral selenium to boot. A cup of grapes adds some carbs to the mix together with phytochemicals. Go for fresh turkey whenever possible as the packaged kind is high in sodium, and choose red or purple grapes because they have more antioxidants.

Remember: What you eat after the workout is even more important than what you eat before it. That’s when your muscles are hungry and your depleted glycogen (muscle sugar) stores need replacing. The “golden hour” after the workout is the time when those muscles soak up nutrients most effectively. Choose what you eat after the workout with just as much care as you choose that pre-workout snack.”

Read all of the article here: http://www.ivillage.com/5-foods-fuel-your-workout/4-a-142430

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