Six ways to kick start your fitness program — The Art of Being Fabulous

It can be difficult to start an exercise program after a period, or lifetime, of inactivity. Whether it’s due to bad habits, health issues, being intimidated by others at the gym, or the most popular excuse of all, “I don’t have the time,” it’s easy to find reasons not to exercise. I know first hand, […]

via Six ways to kick start your fitness program — The Art of Being Fabulous

The Health Benefits of Garlic

Exercise and Health

Garlic is one of my top three healthiest things that you should use daily, along with green tea and lemon juice.

Adding garlic to your diet can keep you alive for longer

If your parents were as health-conscious as mine, you’ve probably been told how garlic is a basically cure for everything. Is garlic really that good for you? Let’s find out.

Garlic Facts

Garlic is actually a part of the onion family, along with leeks and shallots. There are usually 10-20 cloves per head of garlic.

Hippocrates used to prescribe garlic for a variety of ailments

The father of medicine was a big fan of the medicinal properties of this bulb, and he wasn’t on his own. In fact, many ancient civilizations recorded the health benefits of garlic. These include Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Rome and China. Was it garlic that gave them the power to conquer the world?

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Top 5 Post-Workout Recovery Foods

 

One important part of a successful exercise regimen is post-workout nutrition. What you eat after a grueling and sweaty exercise session is responsible for restoring the body’s energy and nutrients. During exercise, the body breaks down muscle protein structures and glycogen. You also lose a lot of water through sweat. Therefore, the key to any great post workout meal-plan revolves around replenishing glycogen levels, rehydrating the body and providing essential nutrients that aid tissue repair. You should avoid snacks and foods that are high in fat content and empty calories since they only negate all the hard work of your exercise efforts. Instead, opt for a nutritious post-workout meal plan that helps the body to recover. To help you get started, here are some suggestions for top 5 post-workout recovery foods and beverages.

1. Fruit Smoothie with Protein Base
A fruit smoothie will not only hydrate the body after a workout, it also allows you to pack plenty of nutrients in a single beverage. Another advantage about liquid meals is that they are quick to digest and absorb. A smoothie recipe that combines carbohydrates and protein provides the primary food sources required after a workout. Try blending frozen fruit with Greek yogurt, whey protein shake, or soymilk. You can also add a natural sweetener for a better flavor.

2. Dried Fruits and Nuts
If you don’t have the time to whoop up a full meal after your workouts, dried fruits and nuts are a convenient snacking option with plenty of beneficial nutrients. Dried fruits will provide a healthy dose of simple carbohydrates plus you will get a quick injection of protein from the nuts.

3. Grilled Chicken Mixed with Veggies
When your body is in recovery mode, you will need a good supply of proteins and carbohydrates. A dish containing grilled chicken and vegetables makes a healthy full meal to help your body recover. Grilled chicken will nourish the body with low-fat lean protein to repair muscle tissue while the vegetables shall ensure you get complex carbohydrates to replenish your muscle glycogen.

4. Tofu Veggie Scramble
If you are a vegan, it is still possible to get a health protein and carbohydrate meal for post workout recovery. Tofu scrambled with spinach, green onions, sweet corn, roasted potatoes and red peppers makes a colorful and nutrient rich dish that you can whoop up for your main meal after hitting the gym, track or treadmill. You can add a dash of garlic for some flavor to your tofu veggie scramble.

5. Chocolate Milk
This fantastic recovery drink contains everything you need after a workout. It has carbs and proteins for muscle recovery, water to replace fluids lost through sweat along with electrolytes like sodium, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Chocolate milk is very easy to prepare since there are whey protein powders that come fortified with this flavor. All you need to do is take a scoop of your favorite whey chocolate powder, add to milk and mix thoroughly with a shaker bottle. You can even take this convenient drink with you to the gym and rehydrate immediately after a workout.

When Should You Eat After a Workout?

Foods and drinks have different time frames for consumption after a workout. For example, fluids can be taken during and even immediately after a workout in order to keep hydration levels up throughout the exercise session. Nutrition experts recommend snacking 30 minutes after a workout. Snacks can have 0.5 to 0.7 grams of carbs per pound of body weight. A full mean is best taken within two hours of your workout to ensure a fast recovery.

 

Top 5 Foods to Eat Before a Workout

Before exercising, it is important to fuel your body for the work that it is about to do. Eating too little or not at all before a workout will likely lead to quick fatigue and weakness due to low blood glucose. On the other hand, consuming too much food before exercise may cause stomach discomfort, nausea or cramping. The foods you choose to consume is just as important as eating pre-workout. The timing of meals as well can affect energy levels during exercise.

Pre-Workout Nutrition Facts

A good pre-workout meal plan should incorporate protein rich foods with carbohydrates. Of course, carbohydrates are your body’s primary source of energy. These macro-nutrients can be further broken down into two groups – complex carbs and simple sugars. The type of carbs to eat before an exercise session largely depends on the timing of a meal. Generally, food sources with simple sugars digest quickly and provide the body with fast acting glucose. For this reason, they make good snacks, which you can eat 30 minutes to an hour before exercise. On the other hand, complex or low GI carbohydrates are best eaten at least 3 hours before workouts since they take longer to digest. On the plus side, such carbohydrates will give the body a slow release of energy, allowing you to exercise for longer without experiencing total fatigue in the middle of your workout.

Proteins consumed pre-workout help to prevent muscle catabolism during the exercise session. Although high in calories, fats should be avoided before workouts since they metabolize slowly. In fact, they can leave you feeling sluggish and heavy.

Top 5 Pre-Workout Foods

Now that you know what nutrients are most beneficial to the body before exercise, the next step that follows is coming up with a meal plan. Here are a few suggestions for top 5 foods to eat before a workout. Take note also of the recommended meal timing for the various foods.

1. Chicken, Brown Rice and Leafy Greens
This dish will fully nourish your body if taken 3-hours before you hit the gym, running track or aerobics class. A meal like this will provide you with low-fat protein from the lean chicken to promote muscle anabolism as well as a slow release of energy from leafy greens and the brown rice.

2. Wholegrain Bread
Adding wholegrain bread to your pre-workout diet is highly recommended if you engage in endurance training activities like running, cycling or swimming. When consumed 2-3 hours pre-workout, wholegrain bread will help your body to increase glycogen reserves and provide a slow release of energy to fuel you throughout the exercise session.

3. Eggs
Eggs are great pre-workout foods for bodybuilders. Whether you like them fried, scrambled or boiled, they are rich in protein. As a result, eggs supply the body with branched chain amino acids, which prevent muscle breakdown in case glycogen reserves run out as you exercise. What’s more, you can control the fat and cholesterol content by removing the egg yolk. Eggs should be consumed 2-3 hours before your workouts to ensure ample digestion time.

4. Greek Yogurt and Dried Fruit
Dried fruits and yogurt can be consumed 1-1.5 hours before exercise to provide the body with a quick source of simple sugars and protein. For the best results, opt for low-fat, Greek yogurt, which tends to have the highest protein content.

5. Apples
Sometimes it can be hard to find time for whooping up a meal or even wholesome snack before heading out to the gym or running trail. In such cases, a quick dose of carbohydrates is your best bet to invigorate the body before the workout. Apples are healthy energizing foods that will boost your glucose levels when consumed even 30-40 minutes before a workout.

Lastly, remember to drink enough water before your workouts to avoid dehydration. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and loss of coordination, which may increase risk of injuries during exercise. Try drinking 16-24 ounces of water an hour before workouts and at least 7-10-ounces every 20-30 minutes of exercise.

 

 

 

Why Strength Training is Important as You Age

 

As you get older, it’s more important than ever to take care of your health and stay active for as long as possible. The great news is that you can maintain and even improve your physical condition with strength training. There are many reasons as to why strength training is so important to keep up with as you get older.

 

Daily Activities

 

If you keep up with strength training as you age you will be able to keep up with doing things like daily chores, getting the groceries and even something as simple as taking a shower. These are all things that can mean a lot to people who worry about losing their independence.

 

Build Muscle

 

People lose five to seven pounds of muscle every decade after they turn twenty. It is important to develop a proper strength training routine so you can avoid muscle loss and build it instead. And this is possible, even if you are quite a few years past twenty and are only just getting started!

 

Get Rid of High Blood Pressure

 

If you develop and keep up with a proper strength training routine you have a good chance of reducing your blood pressure, as strength training makes the heart stronger and forces it to pump blood more efficiently. Blood pressure has a knock-on effect on many other areas of health, too.

 

More Calories Bunt

 

Strength training will help you to be able to effectively burn more calories. This means that you will have much more success with shedding unwanted weight in the long term.

 

Some Tips for Starting a Strength Training Program:

 

  • Always, always get advice from your doctor before you start.

 

  • You should start with training two days a week with a day of rest in between. Then you should add a third day to challenge yourself.

 

  • You need to pay close attention to proper form when doing exercises. This way you will help to prevent injury by doing an exercise incorrectly.

 

  • Always keep in mind that when you are strength training it should never cause you pain. If you experience any pain stop right away.

 

No matter what age you happen to be, it’s never too late to incorporate strength training into your fitness routine – you just need to be willing to adapt it according to your specific circumstances, and get the OK from your doctor. By helping to make sure that your body stays strong you will be helping to maintain your independence for many years to come.

How Does Exercise Boost Your Self-Confidence?

 

Many people start fitness training for all kinds of reasons that range from losing weight, to building muscle, to avoiding health hazards of a sedentary lifestyle. One of the overlooked rewards of regular physical activity is its ability to boost self-confidence.

If you feel like lack of self-esteem is holding you back from pursuing your dreams or accomplishing more, you can get out of this rut by being more physically active. And, the best part is that regular exercise can help you become more successful even if your goals are not fitness related.

So, how does exercise boost your self-confidence? Well, being more physically active can improve self-esteem in a variety of ways. In this post, you can learn about the top four confidence boosting effects of regular exercise.

Exercise Improves Your Appearance

When we are not happy about our looks, we develop an inferiority complex about our image. Whether you are unhappy about being overweight or scrawny, having body image issues often sparks off negative emotions. You may begin to have negative self-talk about what you don’t like with your physical appearance. As a result, negativity permeates your thoughts, leading to shyness, fear and a general sense of low self-esteem.

Exercise helps to improve body physique by getting rid of excess unwanted fat and improving muscle definition. Achieving these kinds of results can make you feel more attractive and better about the way you look, ultimately bolstering your self-confidence.

Strength Increases with Regular Exercise

Every day you hit the gym, go for a run or participate in your preferred type of exercise, the body grows stronger. When you feel physically strong, the same will also reflect in your mental state. This manifests mostly when you start to reap the rewards of regular exercise. In a sense, working out lets you discover what you are capable off when you put effort. And, once you build your strength to be able to lift heavier weights, run longer miles or achieve harder exercises, you start to get a feeling that you can do anything!

Working Out Reduces Stress

Stress can be mentally and physically draining. If you are in that state on mind, it is hard to remain calm and focused on what you need to do to accomplish goals and solve problems.

The good news is that you can beat stress through exercise. Studies have shown that physical activity helps regulate stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline while at the same time releasing feel-good chemicals in the brain like endorphins and dopamine. All of these effects leave you feeling confident knowing that are not overwhelmed with stress and anxiety. Instead, you feel in charge of situations, your feelings, and actions.

Regular Exercise Improves Cognitive Function

Scientific evidence has shown that exercise boost brainpower. By committing to regular fitness training, you are able to concentrate more, think with clarity and become more productive. When you are at your best, you feel confident in your ability to get things done.

Conclusion

If you are in need of a confidence boost, make sure to get enough physical activity by committing to a regular fitness routine. Just remember to set realistic and attainable goals to avoid giving up on your fitness goals and end up not reaping the confidence boosting effects of exercise.

 

7 Ways to Prevent and Cope with Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) refers to the muscular aches and pains that you experience anywhere from 24 to 48 hours after a workout. This pain could be due to microscopic tears in the muscles because of weight training or it could lactic acid production in the body when the training takes on an anaerobic nature.
While doctors have not been able to fully determine the cause of DOMS, the general consensus is that it’s not harmful and your muscles will only ache if they’re stretched, contracted or you place pressure on them.
For example, if you did several sets of barbell squats today, your thigh muscles may be aching badly the next day. However, if you’re sitting or lying down, the muscles won’t hurt. It’ll only hurt when you walk, squat or do other movements that affect these muscles. Generally, the pain will dissipate after a few days. So, there’s really nothing to panic about.
In this article, we’ll look at 7 ways you can help to alleviate the aches and pains in your muscles.

1. Foam rollers
Foam rollers are great for helping to get the blood circulating around your muscles. You can purchase one of these from Amazon or your gym might have a few for you to use. By using foam rollers, you can enhance your recovery time and also reduce muscular fatigue and pain.
All you need to do is lie on the roller and roll on the affected areas. Your bodyweight and gravity will do the rest. The roller will apply pressure on the tight muscles and improve flexibility and sort out any ‘kinks’ in the muscles.

2. Compression tights
Compression tights are most effective when worn during the actual workout to prevent DOMS. This especially applies for training that involves the leg muscles such as running or resistance training that targets the legs.
These tights will hold your muscles in place and boost blood circulation to the areas that are affected by the stress and strain of exercise.

3. Hot and cold baths
This is a simple technique. All you need to do is adjust the temperature of the water during your shower. So, you’ll be showering in cold water for 3 minutes followed by warm water for the next 3 minutes. Alternate this for about 5 or 6 times.
What this will do is that it will cause your blood vessels to expand when the water is warm… and when you switch to cold water, the body will send the warm blood to the vital organs.
This will boost blood circulation and reduce the amount of lactate in the blood. It’s also said that this method of showering has detoxifying properties.

4. Muscle rubs
Muscle rubs could be creams or solutions that are topically applied to your affected areas. You can easily purchase them from any health store. Most can be bought over-the-counter and you won’t need a doctor’s prescription.

5. Sea salts
Soaking yourself in a bath tub of Epsom sea salts will help reduce your muscular pain too. Your body will absorb the magnesium in these salts through the skin and flush out the lactic acid in the muscles. This will help to relax your body and bring about pain relief.

6. Massage
Massage is another great way to relieve pain. While studies have shown that massage doesn’t really reduce the pain, it does get the blood circulation going and helps to hasten recovery.
Always get someone who is trained in sports massage to massage you. It may cost you money but you’ll be safer. Asking an inexperienced friend or family member to massage you might lead to injuries that cause more pain than DOMS and may actually need professional medical treatment.

7. Stretching
Stretching is highly underrated. All too often people hastily do a few simple stretches before a workout and rush to get to the actual workout. Light stretches for about 7 minutes will really help to get your body warmed up.
While you shouldn’t stretch too much before a resistance training session, it does help to do some light cardio to get the blood flowing and warm up the muscles. Even a 5-minute brisk walk on the treadmill followed by a few stretches will be really helpful.
Your muscles will be warmed up and you’ll be less likely to get severe muscular aches and pains the next day. Do remember to stretch for at least 10-minutes after your workout is over.
Stretching several times the following day will help too. It’ll keep your body limber and improve blood circulation which will aid in mitigating any possible DOMS that may arise.
Do apply these 7 tips where possible and you’ll not be prone to muscle soreness. Other than that, train progressively and don’t try to do too much too soon. Most people who suffer severe DOMS usually take on more than the body can handle. Exercise prudence and train sensibly and you’ll be able to train more often without having to rest too much due to pain.