As the new year approaches, many of us begin to focus on making healthier lifestyle choices. Whether you’re interested in losing weight, getting fit or both, educating yourself about good eating and safe exercise practices is key.
While we often know what we have to do, we have trouble doing it. What is your excuse? What are you willing to let go of to transform your life? Instead of waiting for Jan. 1, start thinking now about small shifts you can make today to be more healthy and fit.
As a trainer and consultant, I am frequently asked the same questions over and over.
1. Should I eat before I work out? Absolutely! To perform optimally, fuel your muscles in the hour before hitting the gym with a snack that is 150 to 250 calories. Try a rice cake with a tablespoon of natural peanut butter, a half-cup of low-fat cottage cheese with six to 12 almonds, or a Granny Smith apple with a tablespoon of almond butter. A double chocolate doughnut is not considered a healthy snack! The body needs fuel to perform at its best. Make the most of your workout by starting with a full tank. You will be glad you did.
2. What is DOMS? DOMS stands for delayed onset muscle soreness, or what I call the “36-hour rule.” After a vigorous workout, your muscles have depleted their glycogen store. Also during your workout, your muscles experience micro-trauma to the muscle fibers. As a result, muscle soreness ensures. How sore you are depends on the intensity of your workout, duration, hormone levels and also how well your tank is fueled. It is imperative that, after completing a vigorous workout, you hydrate, eat healthy and rest to allow the body to recover. Maximize your benefits by giving the body what it needs for restoration. Make your restoration time as important as your workouts. Some may call it extreme self-care. I call it smart living!
3. What’s all the buzz about yoga? Yoga is thousands of years old but is still a new concept for many of us. There are many different practices of yoga, so be sure that if you are interested in taking a class that you ask what method of yoga is taught and what the teacher’s credentials are. Make the teacher aware of your injuries or limitations so that posture modifications are offered. Start slowly, and be gentle with yourself. A flexible body is a strong body, and yoga is a wonderful way to increase your flexibility, thereby reducing your chance of injury. Yoga is also great for increasing body awareness, reducing stress, and connecting the mind and the body. Studies show that you can achieve greater results in our workouts through visualization of specific muscles. This mind/body connection will improve your workouts and benefit other phases of your life. I believe that by connecting to the body, great things can happen.
Celebrate your body through movement, whether it is yoga, weight training, walking your dog or skipping with your kids to the bus stop. Reclaim your freedom of movement. Don’t use age, injury, lack of time or whatever other tape runs through your mind as an excuse any longer. You have nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.
Make it a great day!
Kate McKay, an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer and business consultant, resides in Newburyport. For more fitness tips, visit her website at www.kate-mckay.com. Please feel free to submit any fitness and health questions to Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org.