The Greatest Sports Drink of All!

Question: Which “sports” drink promotes fat loss AND also promotes muscle growth?

Answer: Water. Drink plenty of it!

This week’s “Bonus” post comes from the “Fit Tips” newsletter that I offer to all new clients. I decided to post it this week because, as with the previous post, it is a fundamental aspect of fitness. In fact, besides proper nutrition, water is the most important aspect of fitness. People way more knowledgeable about the details of human anatomy and physiology can explain exactly how water does all the miraculous things that it does better than I can. However, what’s important is that you know that you should be drinking plenty of water each day. I’m going to tell you exactly how much and also give you a few basic facts about water consumption. I’ll leave you with some very easy things that you can do to make sure you meet your daily water intake needs.

Question: How much water should I drink each day?

Answer: Ten (10) 8 oz. glasses is about 2/3 of a gallon. This is JUST enough for the average person! The more active you become, the more water you need to consume. Aim for 1 gallon per day.

Here’s some trivia to help you understand why:

  • Water makes up about 60-75% of the human body
  • Dehydration can occur with a minimal loss of water (only about 2-3%)
  • Water is a great appetite suppressant and will help burn fat
  • Water is great for detoxing the body of harsh chemicals
  • Water helps keep the skin tight and smooth
  • The more overweight you are, the more water you need. For every 25 lbs. you are overweight, you need 1 additional glass!

Now, here are some things you can do to make sure you get enough water.

1. Buy a water bottle! Simple enough. There are tons of BPA Free options out there. This way, you can carry your water with you and sip throughout the day.

2. When you’re at work, never pass by the water cooler without getting some water. It’s important to drink at least a small amount of water even when you’re not thirsty.

3. For every cup of coffee or alcohol you consume, you should be drinking 1 cup of water. (Easier said than done…I know. Give it a shot, anyway!)

4. Want some chips or something sweet? Drink a glass of water first. Then see if you still want it.

5. Mix up your water intake: Spring Water, Club Soda, Seltzer Water and Herbal Tea all count towards your daily totals.

Water serves you in so many ways. It aids in digestion, helps fuel your workouts, helps burn fat, and promotes muscle growth. As soon as you consistently up your intake you will notice a change in how you feel and subtle changes in how you look.

So now that you’ve read this GET UP AND DRINK SOME WATER!

 Dream Fit. Live Fit.

One way to drink more water is to buy a water bottle and keep it with you! There are tons of great BPA Free Options.

Learning How To Breathe…The Right Way!!!

Hello and welcome back! I’ve been on a slight hiatus as I’ve been in the midst of moving and also planning a video workout series designed to help all of you. I’m back now, just in time for fall, with a post that is not only about fitness but about your general wellness!

Question: Do you want to know how to improve your alertness, reduce stress and help your cardiovascular fitness by doing “almost nothing”?

Answer: Of course you do! I’m going to show you how, with a technique called Diaphragmatic Breathing.

Diaphragmatic Breathing (AKA Deep Breathing or “Belly Breathing”) is a method of drawing in the breath to reduce stress, relax and give yourself greater energy. It’s a technique that has been used for decades in the professional athletic community and for thousands of years in eastern spiritual in religious circles. I can tell you personally that I’ve used deep breathing in tons of different scenarios (from martial arts competition to studying and test taking to easing stress on the job) always to great effect.

Question: So how is it done?

Answer: Doing Diaphragmatic Breathing is simple:

  1. Sit up straight, back erect.
  2. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
  3. Slowly inhale through your nose for a count of 10. As you inhale, push your stomach out, making your hand go outward. Imagine breathing fresh oxygen in from your nose and sending it down “into your feet.”
  4. Slowly exhale through your nose. Feel your stomach contract and your hand go inward.
  5. Return to resting position.

Repeat this cycle 5-10 times and notice any changes in your body. If you notice any shortness of breath and/or light-headedness please discontinue this practice.

The more you practice this technique the more you will begin to notice that Diaphragmatic breathing will replace your regular breathing. It will result in more mental alertness, reduced stress and a greater sense of ease. You will also that you are less fatigued during your workouts. This is because of the greater oxygen capacity your lungs now have!

Give Diaphragmatic Breathing a try and remember…

Dream Fit. Live Fit

Diaphragmatic Breathing has a variety of benefits including increased mental alertness, a boost in energy and decreased stress.
(picture courtesy of: Knowcopd.com)

Reduce your back and joint pain simply by stretching!

Question: Can stretching help with my back and joint pain?

Answer: Absolutely! Regular stretching can reduce back and joint pain by 30% or more.

Did you feel any aches, pains or stiffness when you got out of bed this morning? How about when you’ve been sitting in one position too long? This most likely happens because your muscles and surrounding tissue have become tight, rigid and stagnant. This tightness can cause throbbing, aching and pain.

Stretching at least once per day (preferably in the morning) reduces pain by increasing blood flow throughout your body. It also makes you more flexible and limber, which creates more looseness in your muscles and joints. Health studies show that even the lingering pain from certain injuries and degenerative conditions (i.e. arthritis, scoliosis, injuries do to accidents and exercise) can be reduced by 25-30% or more by incorporating a daily stretching routine into your life.

Sample Stretch Routine

This is a sample 5 to 10 minute stretch routine that will help you loosen the major areas of your body. You should do this routine when you wake up in the morning and before you go to sleep at night.

  1. Back Stretch (AKA “Cat Stretch”): Get down on your hands and knees in a solid base. With your hands shoulder width apart and knees hip width apart, round your back toward the ceiling. Imagine that there is a string attached to your mid back pulling you upward. Hold the position for 15 seconds. Then, drop your stomach down and arch your back. Imagine that same string pulling your stomach toward the ground. Hold the position for 15 seconds. Finally, return to a rest position. Do this 3 times.
  2. Full Body Stretch: Stand tall, with your feet slightly less than shoulder width apart. Place your hands over your head and reach upward as if you were trying to touch the ceiling. Do this for 15 seconds. Next, maintaining the natural curve in your lower back, bend forward at your hips and reach for your toes. Make sure to bend slowly and try to keep your knees as straight as possible. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings, glutes and lower back. Hold for 15 seconds and then return to the starting position. Do this entire cycle 3 times.
  3. Quad Stretch: Stand tall, with your feet about shoulder width apart. Reach back and grab your left foot with your left hand. Slowly pull your left leg back as if you were trying to touch your foot to your buttocks. Pull until you feel a good stretch (if it becomes uncomfortable, stop!) and hold for 15 seconds. Then return your left leg to its original position. Hold on to a chair or wall for balance if necessary. Do this 2 times and Repeat on opposite side.
  4. Cross-Body Stretch (AKA Shoulder Stretch): Stand tall, with your feet shoulder width apart. Reach your left arm across your body, bringing it as close to your chest as possible. Next, lock your right arm underneath your left at the elbow (Your arms will look like a “cross” in this position). Gently hold and slightly increase pressure for 15 seconds. Then return your arm to the side. Do this 2 times and repeat on opposite side.
  5. Neck Stretch: Stand tall and keep your shoulders relaxed. Move your head downward toward the right (as if you were touching your ear to your shoulder). Hold for 15 seconds. Next, slowly “roll” your head down and forward (as if to touch your chin to your chest). Hold for 15 seconds. Next, slowly “roll” your head toward the left (just like you did toward the left) and hold for 15 seconds. Finally, slowly “roll” your head back (as if you were touching the back of your head to your upper back). Hold for 15 seconds. Then return to your starting position.

Things to remember while stretching:

  • Stretching should be, AT MOST, mildly uncomfortable. Not painful! If you experience any pain then stop immediately.
  • Move your body into each position gently and slowly.
  • When stretching, hold each position without rocking or “bouncing”. Jerky movements may lead to muscle and connective tissue damage.
  • If you are engaging in any workout routine, be sure to stretch before and after sessions to keep your body loose, help with muscle soreness and to prevent injury.

The above routine should give you noticeable results in the amount of flexibility and the reduction of back and joint pain. However, if you suffer from chronic or severe conditions, make sure you visit your doctor and alternative health providers (chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists) along with doing your daily stretches!

Dream Fit. Live Fit.

The “Cross-Body” Stretch (AKA Shoulder Stretch)

“Now you know…And knowing is half the battle!”

Hats off to you if you know where this quote comes from. It’s true. Knowledge is power. Which is why this very first fitness post will be about knowing how to properly weigh yourself and take your body measurements. This information will be vital in your quest to become more fit. Now, I know that this can be a humbling experience in the beginning but as you progress you will come to love your numbers and even brag about them to family and friends. The whole measurement process will only take about 10-15 minutes and you should do it every 6 weeks. Weighing yourself can be done as often as you like but, as I’ll next explain, you should keep “official” weigh-ins to once per week.

Question: When is the best time to weigh yourself?

Answer: The best time to weigh yourself is right after you wake up. You aren’t carrying excess weight from food or liquid.

Your body weight fluctuates greatly during the day and during the week. The best time to assess your weight is after you wake up. Your body is essentially empty of most food and consumable liquid when you wake up. This is the most accurate time to weigh yourself. You should also make it a point to record your weight each week on the same day, ideally after you wake up. You’ll then have a great gauge of your weekly progress. Whether you’re trying to lose fat or gain lean muscle, you should aim for no more than a 2 lb. change per week. Any more than that and you’re risking a host of issues like dehydration, fatigue, muscle loss (if you’re losing weight) or excess fat gain (if you’re “bulking up”).

Question: Which areas of my body should I measure and how often should I keep track of them?

Answer: Generally speaking, there are 7 main areas that are important to track:

  • Shoulders
  • Chest
  • Waist
  • Hips
  • Thighs
  • Calves
  • Arms

It is important to track these changes every six weeks so that you can get a good idea of how you’re progressing.

You may need some help the first time you measure but after a few attempts you should be able to do it by yourself. There are great clips on YouTube about how to do this, so I’ll skip the detailed instructions. However, a few tips to remember are:

  1. Get yourself a good soft plastic or nylon tape measure and a journal to record your entries in.
  2. Measure yourself on the same day of the week, every 6 weeks. Try to do it under the same conditions: i.e. before a meal or after you wake up.
  3. Always measure each area 3 times. This ensures accuracy.
  4. Make sure you are relaxed when you measure yourself. Do not tense and contract your muscles.
  5. There are many thoughts on where exactly the waist is. I am from the school that measures it above the belly button but below the rib cage. At the narrowest part of the abdomen. The point is to pick a place and make sure that you measure the same area each time. Also, never measure yourself immediately after a meal (unless you want to be depressed for the rest of the day.)
  6. Have fun! Use these measurements as only one gauge of your progress. The important thing is that you learn something about yourself so that you can see what’s working and what’s not.

Well, there you have it. Two great ways to keep track of your progress. Remember to reward yourself for your success and continue to set new goals. In the next post, I will be sharing with you the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING you’ll ever need on your journey to being more fit and healthy.Image

Remember…

Dream Fit. Live Fit.