Most people understand the importance of working out to get fit and strong but many don’t understand the importance of rest and recovery. A successful program needs both work and rest.
Rest And Recovery – Are They The Same Thing?
Rest is actually different from recovery. Rest is the time spent not working out and you actually spend a lot of time resting when you think about it. Why then are you finding that you’re dragging yourself into some workouts feeling sluggish and weak? It’s because you haven’t allowed your muscles to recover properly. Recovery happens when you take actions to maximize your body’s ability to repair itself.
Rest And Recovery – Not Just For Muscles
It’s not just your muscles that need to recover. There are other systems that need to recover too. Muscles, tendons, ligaments and bone are structural but recovery also needs to happen for your hormonal and neurological systems.
Rest And Recovery Done Right
You need proper sleep to recover. When you get into the deeper stages of sleep your body produces human growth hormone which is necessary for growth and repair. Adequate levels of sleep also help mental health and hormonal balance. Aim for 7-9 hours a night.
Hydration is critical to our health. A few of the things water helps facilitate are more efficient nutrient uptake, lower levels of stress on the heart and other organs as well as improved skin tone and hair quality.
Not sure if you’re drinking enough? Check the colour of your urine. It should be pale yellow. If it’s dark and you haven’t just taken vitamins you need to drink more water.
Your body makes itself up out of what you put into it so make sure you’re supplying it with quality ingredients. Every time you eat you have a choice. You can either choose food that will heal your body or you can choose fake food that will poison your body.
Eat an all-natural diet with the proper amounts of carbs, protein and fats 80% of the time and indulge in the not so healthy stuff 20% of the time. Don’t strive for perfection.
Heat, ice and compression
When your training is intense and/or high in volume heat, ice and compression can really aid in recovery. Try contrast baths or showers where you use hot water for 30 seconds and then cold water for 30 seconds and repeat a few times to help flush out the metabolic waste in your muscles. Compression also helps to move the waste out of your muscles.
After your workout be sure to stretch your muscles. They’ll be tight from your workout and this tightness could lead to a lot of pressure on your joints and result in injury. Do static stretching for 20-45 seconds per muscle group right after your workout for best results. Maintaining flexibility will help keep you pain free.
A Well Rounded Program
In order to be your best you need to address all components of fitness: cardio, strength, flexibility, rest and recovery. If you’re leaving anything out you’ll experience imbalance and that can lead to injury. Allow yourself the time to rest and recover so you can enjoy your workouts and be your very best.
Snacks are an important part of your diet. Snacking keeps your blood sugar stable so you don’t suffer that afternoon crash. Snacking also helps to keep cravings at bay. Here are some easy healthy snack ideas which are great for everyone.
Fruits are a great source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They’re a natural source of energy and are easily prepared. Aside from eating whole fruits as snacks you can also get a little creative:
- Sprinkle some cinnamon on slices of apples or oranges.
- Make canapés out of dried apricots, topping them with cheese and nuts.
- Freeze some grapes or bananas and take them out for a quick treat.
- Roll banana slices in cocoa powder and sprinkle them with desiccated coconut.
- Make your own fruit smoothie from berries, bananas and non-fat milk or yogurt.
- Have an apple with a slice of cheddar.
- Dip apple or grapes in hummus.
Complete your daily requirement for vegetables by having them for snacks:
- Have celery or some other vegetable with some hummus.
- Have a small plate of tomatoes, olives and cheese.
- Put a few cherry tomatoes in your cottage cheese.
- Mix a bit of Dijon mustard in some plain yogurt and use it as veggie dip.
More Healthy Snack Ideas
Other ideas for quick and healthy snacks include your favorite treats:
- Enjoy a cup of yogurt topped with fruits and nuts.
- Have a handful of homemade kale chips
- Popcorn is a great snack! Add a bit of butter or olive oil and sea salt
- Make your own healthy granola bars with oats, dried fruit and nuts and a bit of honey. Try to get raw honey that hasn’t been pasteurized.
- Toss some walnuts in a hot skillet with honey until completely coated. Take them out and sprinkle with sea salt, and spices like cumin, coriander, and cayenne.
There are tons of easy snacks that you can prepare quickly that are delicious. Use your imagination and get snacking!
Are you sick of setting the same goal over and over again and never achieving it? If you want change you have to change! The definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again but expecting a different result. If you really want to change your life and finally achieve your goals, you have to start changing your habits. Align your actions with the outcome that you want!
Your Action Plan
Start small!! If you try to do too much too soon you’ll feel overwhelmed. Change is hard so make it easier on yourself by making small changes you’re comfortable with. Once you start making those small changes you’ll be preparing yourself for the bigger changes.
Start your fitness routine.
Get up 30 minutes earlier tomorrow and exercise! Go for a walk or jog, get on a treadmill, do an online workout. It doesn’t matter just set the goal and do it. Once you achieve success with one goal, even a small one, you’ll be motivated to make more changes. Stop making these promises to yourself only to break them! If you tell yourself you’re going to do it THEN do it. You can do anything you want to do! You just have to make the decision to do it and then don’t let anything stop you. If you catch yourself making excuses stop yourself! Don’t let yourself listen to that voice. Shut it out and take action. You’re important enough to put in the effort to achieve your goal.
Fix your nutrition.
Change one thing with your nutrition. What do you have for breakfast? Nothing? Then it’s time to start eating breakfast tomorrow. Try some fruit on yogurt, or eggs, or a high density nutrition shake. Just make sure it’s a healthy option that’s going to nourish and fuel your body. Take pride in putting quality food into your body. Your body is made up of what you put into it and you only get one body so make sure you’re treating it right to it serves you well for life!
You Are Now On Your Way!
Just those two simple changes in your day will start to make a HUGE difference in your health. Just 30 minutes of exercise and changing your breakfast habit is not a lot to do but over time the impact will be HUGE!
There you go! Start small but make the commitment to change something and keep the promise you made to yourself. You wouldn’t make a promise to someone important to you and then flake out would you? So how can you possibly think it’s okay to flake out on yourself? Just commit to it and follow through. Everyone has the power to achieve their goals and everyone deserves to live their best life possible.
If you need help with accountability or making the changes contact me on Facebook or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
We absolutely need fat in our diet, but it has to be the healthy kind. There’s a lot of confusion regarding fat. We once believed that fat made us fat and many people cut fat out of their diet which resulted in poor health and weight gain. Healthy fats are needed to build cell membranes, and the sheaths surrounding nerves. They also help you absorb some vitamins and minerals and are essential for blood clotting and muscle movement. Just make sure you’re getting the right fats in your diet.
Good fats are found in vegetables, nuts, seeds and fish. The two types of good fat are called monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat.
Sources of monounsaturated fats:
You’ll find monounsaturated fats in olive oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, avocado and most nuts.
It became apparent that these fats are healthy when it was found that people in Greece and other parts of the Mediterranean region had a low rate of heart disease despite the fact that they ate a diet high in fat. Their main source of fat is olive oil.
There is no recommended daily intake of monounsaturated fats, but the Institute of Medicine recommends using mono and polyunsaturated fats as much as possible to replace saturated and trans fats.
Sources of polyunsaturated fats:
Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats which means they are required for normal body function but your body can’t make them. You have to get them from your diet. Good sources include flax seeds, walnuts, and fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines.
The absolute worst type of fat is trans fat. It’s the byproduct of a process called hydrogenation which basically turns healthy oils into solids to prevent them from going rancid. If you see ‘partially hydrogenated oil’ on the label DO NOT EAT IT! That’s just a fancy term for trans fat.
Trans fats are found in such things as solid margarine, vegetable shortening, commercial cookies and pastries and fast food French fries. These unhealthy fats increase the amount of harmful LDL cholesterol in your blood and decreases the amount of beneficial HDL. They also create inflammation which is linked to stroke, heart disease, diabetes as well as many other chronic conditions. It also contributes to insulin resistance which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Scary fact: Research from the Harvard School of Public Health showed that every 2% of calories from trans fat consumed daily, the risk of heart disease rises by 23%! There are no health benefits from consuming any trans fats in your diet so stay away from them!
Not Bad But Maybe Not The Best Fat
Saturated fats are kind of in between. These are solid at room temperature. Sources of saturated fats are red meat, cheese, butter, coconut oil and many commercially prepared baked goods.
Eating a lot of saturated fat can increase your total cholesterol, most of it being LDL, which can lead to blockages in arteries. However, it was actually found that there was not enough evidence to conclude that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease. Most nutrition experts recommend keeping total consumption to no more that 10% of your calories.
Eat Fat To Be Healthy!
Just like healthy proteins and carbs, your body needs healthy fats. Eat the healthy ones so your body functions properly and stay away from trans fats aka partially hydrogenated oils.
As a fitness instructor and Sports Nutrition Advisor I get asked a lot of questions about fat loss. Let me help you by taking the confusion out of fat loss by sharing some common questions I’ve gotten over the years:
If I want to lose fat quickly, should I do as much cardio as possible?
The answer to this one is no! When you start working out, if you do a lot of cardio you will lose weight quite quickly at first, but the human body has this amazing ability to adapt to stresses put on it. Once your body adapts to what you’ve been doing, the fat loss will slow down and you’ll end up having to do more cardio to see results. Instead of doing more and more cardio, focus on these three things: mode (change what you do frequently), frequency (3-6 days a week consistently) and intensity (do workouts where you push all out for a short period of time, recover and repeat).
Will cardio, especially high intensity cardio, inhibit muscle building or even destroy the muscle I’ve worked so hard for?
Some people worry that if they do cardio, especially high intensity cardio they’ll end up burning muscle or at the very least make it impossible to gain any muscle. This one could actually be true but only if you’re not providing enough of the proper nutrients to your body. When you start a workout program, you need to adjust your food intake as well. If you don’t provide your body with the high quality nutrients it needs, it won’t be able to rebuild itself after your workouts. When you work out you actually break down your muscle a bit. This then initiates protein synthesis (aka muscle building). If you’re providing the right amount of protein, carbs and fat in your diet your body will be able to maintain and even build muscle even if your workouts include high intensity cardio.
Which is best for fat burning – high intensity or low intensity cardio?
This has caused a lot of confusion for a lot of people. They’ve heard that the body burns a greater percentage of fat when working out at a lower intensity and a higher percentage of sugar when working out at a higher intensity. This is true, but a big part of the equation was left out: total calories burned. You could spend 1 hour running and burn 500 calories, or spend 1 hour walking and only burn about 250 calories. Even though a greater percentage of the 250 calories were coming from fat, the total amount of fat calories burned was relatively low. You need to spend some of your workout in the discomfort zone to really see results 😉
Is working out first thing in the morning on an empty stomach the best way to lose fat?
This is another very common question. First of all the best time to workout is when you’re able to workout! As for working out on an empty stomach? Not the best plan. When you work out on an empty stomach you don’t have any fuel for your body to get energy from. If you don’t have enough energy to push yourself hard enough you won’t get the best workout. You want to come to your workouts fueled, watered and ready to go! Have something small before your workout such as a super food nutrition shake and then hit it hard!
So there you have it! Some of the most common fat loss questions answered. If you have any questions that I didn’t cover please contact me!