A late workout is good!

Side kick in a Turbo Jam workoutI work out in the late afternoon. Many advocate an early-morning workout since distractions may be fewer, but late afternoon works for me. And it turns out that I may have inadvertently stumbled onto the most effective workout time!

  1. Better sleep when working out later. Studies have shown that those who lift weights later have better sleep than those who exercise earlier.
  2. Those who work out later have more muscle growth and better endurance.
  3. A study in Journal of Strength Conditioning Research found that those who exercise later lowered their blood pressure by 15% more than those who work out earlier.
  4. A study from The New England University of Birmingham found that those who work out in the evening can go 20 percent longer and at a higher intensity. So, more calories burned!
  5. Your body will be ready to work out later in the day! Studies have found that cortisol levels (which inhibit muscle growth) are higher in the morning, but testosterone levels (which boost muscle growth) are higher in the evening.

So, I’ve been on the right track all along.

But that’s not to say that you shouldn’t work out if the best time for you is the morning. Any workout is better than none!

7 Early Morning Things to Jump-Start Your Fitness

7 early morning things to jump-start your weight-loss journey:

1. Get plenty of sleep! You’ll be full of energy, which will help you stay on track. If you’re tired, you’re more likely to reach for whatever’s easiest, like those chocolate chip cookies.

2. Catch some rays – just a bit. Sunshine helps increase your energy level which boosts your metabolism. Don’t lie in the sun, just lift your face to the sunshine as you walk to your car. And when you reach your destination, do it again. It’ll lift your spirits and boost your metabolism.

3. Eat protein – lean protein also helps boost your metabolism! Egg whites are great for breakfast.

4. Drink water with your breakfast (after coffee…) more water helps fight bloat!

5. Pack snacks – pack healthy snacks for your day. A few almonds, celery or carrot sticks will help you avoid the vending machine. 10 almonds are just as satisfying as a fun-size candy bar – and much healthier.  A little thought saves a trip to the vending machine!

6. Get moving – try to fit in 20 minutes of exercise early – another metabolism booster! And just think how virtuous you’ll feel, having exercised before work. You’ll even have more energy before lunch.

7. Walk part of the way to work. Add to your exercise regime! And take a flight or two of stairs instead of the elevator the entire way.

Get to Sleep…

I sometimes have trouble falling asleep. Not like my dogs – they can take a nap anywhere, anytime. No matter what’s going on around them, and especially after some intense physical activity, Booker and Tango are out.

Not me. Even if I’ve had a busy day – one that’s productive and full of exercise, I still have trouble falling asleep. I know that a good night’s sleep is important for good health, but that doesn’t help me fall asleep.

Many people swear by this breathing method to help fall asleep:

Called the 4 – 7 – 8 Method, it’s been proposed by Dr. Andrew Weil as the body’s natural tranquilizer. (Sounds exactly like what I need.) Dr. Weil maintains that this method will help relax you when you’re feeling stressed, or help you fight off that sugar craving that hits at about 3:00 in the afternoon.

  1. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise.
  2. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  3. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  4. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  5. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  6. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat three more times for a total of four cycles.

It’s worth a try, right?

When you’re on vacation…

When you’re on vacation, be on vacation! I’m writing this in the beautiful Florida Keys. Right on the water, watching the boats and the sea birds. This is a working vacation for me, but I plan to make the most of my hours off.

It’s much too easy for my mind to go a million miles an hour, thinking about things I have to do, worry about things that might happen, what’s planned for the hours to come. I’m a big worrier – mostly about things I have no control over.

This time, though, I have resolved to focus on the now. What I have to do right now. Not about tomorrow or next week. I know that there is no sense in worrying about things I cannot control, and I will do my best to stop that as soon as I feel the worry starting. Just breathe and focus on the task at hand. 

To help me, I have also resolved to plan my goals and outline the steps that must be taken to accomplish them. That way, when I start to worry about the future, I will focus on the goals I’ve set and the fact that the task I’m working on is a step in that direction.

But during those off-hours, I plan to breathe and enjoy what’s around me.

I break my own rule – constantly

You know how I just told you to find a workout you love and you’ll be more likely to do it? Well, I don’t do that. I found results that I love and do the workout program that created them!

Reality check here – I hate working out. No, really! I’d much rather be reading a book than sweating and squatting. I’d rather be training my dogs than doing lunges. I’d rather be writing … anything … than doing bicep curls.

But I do it because I love to eat. I do it because I do love to train my dogs. I love to run agility with my dogs. I love to hike in new destinations. I love being able to run up and down the stairs five hundred times because I forgot … whatever … or I have loads of laundry to do.

And I love not having knee pain, back pain, hip pain. I stumbled in my dog agility class the other night. (I’m not the most graceful person, and some of the moves our instructor had us doing were a little complicated.) I didn’t fall, but I could feel the stress on my knees, ankles and shins. I thought to myself – well, tomorrow’s going to be an Aleve day! But it wasn’t. No pain.

Of course, I do like seeing more definition in my arms and abs. I like that my pants are feeling looser in the hips and tummy.

And it just takes 30 minutes a day in the basement for me to do an insane workout. Yup, a lot of days I don’t feel like working out, but I do it because it is just 30 minutes. I know that I’ll feel virtuous for having exercised. And that shower afterward feels SO good!

Is your head exploding?

Stress is bad in more ways than you know. It can also slow down your metabolism. Many people are stress-eaters. If you feel stress, every couple of hours, take 5 minutes and just breathe. Empty your brain and focus on your breathing. Close your eyes and think of water, mountains, flowers (like pansies), or whatever makes you happy. Not work. Not the kids. Not all the chores that aren’t getting done! Just the ocean or snow-capped mountains. Set a timer so you don’t worry about the time.

When the timer goes off and you open your eyes, you’ll be in a better frame of mind to tackle the work, the chores, and the kids.

If you’re not into meditating but still feel the stress. Go for a walk! Climb some stairs. If you have one, close your door and dance to a couple of your favorite songs. Bounce on the balls of your feet and get the blood moving. Sing along if you want to! (Off-key is fine!) Again, when you go back to your desk, you’ll be better able to manage the stress.

You won’t want that candy bar, but definitely have a drink of water! Your metabolism be chugging along, and you’ll feel much better.

Burn more calories every day

cross_jumpHere are a couple of easy tips. First, work out in the morning. You’ll burn more calories! Why? Since you’re more rested, you’re probably working harder and you may be exercising a little longer. Fewer rest breaks, too. It’s more convenient for me to exercise in the afternoons on most days. It’s just how my day goes. I understand that I’m burning fewer calories, and I may be taking an extra rest break. But when I’m done, the stress from my day is gone and I feel so much more virtuous!

Increase your speed and you’ll burn more calories! If you’re walking or running, add in a sprinting interval and up the speed. You can do this even if you’re doing a video. Double time it! And make sure you’re swinging your arms – you’ll up the calorie burn by as much as 15%!

See a flat surface? Do some counter push-ups! When you’re picking up a few things at the grocery store, use a basket rather than a cart and you’ll be working your arm muscles (biceps and triceps). Adding strength moves is a good idea since more muscle mass increases the calorie burn. Also, take the stairs when you can. Work your abs by sitting on an exercise ball rather than a traditional chair!

Find a workout you love, and you’ll do it!

sword_pullDo you hate to work out? The thought of exercise sends you running to the store until it’s too late to work out? You  know that exercise is good for you … and you really, really meant to go for a run this morning, but the kids were naughty, the dog threw up …

Yes, exercise is good for you. It’s good for your heart, it helps bring down your stress level, you’ve even heard that it’s good for your brain (that part is true, too, by the way!). But you hate running and jumping.

That’s OK. The key is to find an exercise program that you enjoy. Do you like music? Do you love to dance? Terrific! There are loads of dance-based workouts available. You like music but still don’t like jumping around? There are even ballet-based workouts.

Do the martial arts intrigue you, but you don’t want to fight anyone? Me neither. There are some great martial arts-based exercise programs. Chances are if you check out a local Krav Maga studio, they’ll have a fitness-type class in their schedule. A serious workout with martial arts flair.

Do you like the idea of yoga, but not all the touchy-feely stuff? Call a few local yoga studios and chances are you’ll find the perfect class for you.

The point is, whatever your interests are, you’ll find a workout that you’ll love. Need suggestions? Contact me!

Keep it simple!

chicken_broccoliniIt’s way too easy to zip in and out of a fast-food drive-thru on your way home from work. And that’s really dangerous. The portions are way too big. The food has too many calories, and it’s full of fat. It’s deep-fried. If you’re trying to watch your weight, and eat clean and healthy then drive-thrus are the most dangerous places on the planet!

Yes, french fries are delicious. Nothing can beat a burger and fries. Unless it’s a burger and fries with a shake. But I always feel a little sick and bloated before bed when I indulge like that. And it’s just not worth it. What is worth it is taking a few minutes to plan ahead for a delicious, healthy meal.

The first few times I planned meals for a week it was a real chore. Not fun at all. But then I wrote notes through the week about meal ideas and then I gathered those notes to plan the week’s menus and it was no big deal.

The key to actually following through on the meal plan on busy week nights is to keep it simple. Like the grilled chicken, steamed broccolini and sweet potato pictured. I microwave the sweet potato, so it just takes a few minutes. It’s done when the chicken is. I also use the microwave to steam vegetables. I do the potato first and wrap it in foil to stay warm and finish cooking. Delicious, nutritious and easy!

Happiness

keys_sunriseI’ve sort of been in a funk lately. My brain is spinning. A friend is hurting. We’re moving our business. My dogs have forgotten every bit of training they ever had. And I hurt my back. Time to try something new? First I have to decide what would make me happy.

What is happiness? A feeling of uplifting. A smiling feeling. When you can’t help but turn the corners of your mouth up. The anticipation you feel when you know you’ll see someone you love. Or you’ll be doing something you enjoy. Remembering something wonderful. A trip you took when you had so much fun! A gorgeous sunrise in the Florida Keys. Being with a friend. Eating a fantastic meal.

I’m trying to enjoy the small things every day. A particularly good tomato. A crunchy pea pod. The sunshine without much humidity. Cooler temperatures. The Cubs winning their Division.

So, I have to plan something fun! When to plan this for? After our moving date, of course, and after my back is feeling all better. I’ve weaned myself off of the heating pad and pain relievers, but there is still that occasional twinge. And I’m counting on the dogs to atleast remember how to sit!