Category Archives: Food/Fitness
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Wake-up Calls: 7 Ways to Boost Your Energy Without Caffeine
By Lisa Palac
For most, it happens in the late afternoon, usually between lunch and 6ish: that feeling of sluggish, low-energy brain-deadness that makes you want to call it quits for the day. Since that’s generally not an option, you reach for the next solution: the caffeine pick-me-up. Whether it’s coffee or tea or a yerba mate, many of us are in the habit of using caffeine to prop ourselves up during the draggiest part of the day. Of course, some of us—and you know who you are—go one step further and combine refined sugar and caffeine. Nothing like a Frappucino® and double fudge mini-donut to shake things up. It’s a slippery slope.
But what if you don’t want to be a Coffee Achiever? Maybe it’s getting in the way of sleep later that night. Maybe you’re doing the Beachbody Ultimate Reset™ or a general cleanse. Or maybe you’ve done some research, weighed the pros and cons (as laid out in the Beachbody Newsletter a few weeks ago), and decided caffeine just isn’t your thing. How to break the cycle? Here are 7 healthy ways to pull yourself through an afternoon.
- Get 15 minutes of exercise. Researchers at the University of Georgia found overwhelming evidence that regular exercise plays a significant role in increasing energy levels and reducing fatigue. “A lot of times when people are fatigued, the last thing they want to do is exercise,” said professor Patrick O’Connor, co-director of the UGA exercise psychology laboratory. “But if you’re physically inactive and fatigued, being just a bit more active will help.” Take a power walk, take a quick run, do 15 sun salutes. Walk up and down the office stairs for 15 minutes. Jump rope for 3 minutes, then walk. The more active you can be in these 15 minutes, the better. Activity increases circulation, and circulation transports oxygen throughout the body, which in turn boosts our energy level.
- Start breathing deeply. Conscious breathing is, perhaps, the easiest way to energize your body and improve mental clarity, among many other benefits. Breathing deeply provides your body with the oxygen it needs to increase energy and alertness. Dr. Andrew Weil, who has written extensively on the restorative power of the breath, suggests “The Stimulating Breath” as an energy booster. (It’s basically a mini-version of Kundalini yoga’s “Breath of Fire.”) Close your mouth, and breathe forcefully and rapidly in and out of your nose for 15 seconds, then breathe naturally. Alternately, you can sit up straight, on a ball if possible, roll your shoulders back and breathe deeply for 10 minutes, pausing on the inhale and then again on the exhale, as a way to simply become aware of your breath.
- Eat some almonds. Here’s the amazing thing about almonds: they’re rich in proteinand they contain magnesium, a mineral that helps convert sugar into energy. Magnesium also helps with immune support, restful sleep, stress relief and heightens mood. The almond is often considered a superfood because it’s high in calcium and vitamin E with zero cholesterol. If you can’t/won’t eat almonds, try cashews, walnuts, or pecans. Nut butters are also a good way to mix up the textures, preferably unsalted. If almonds are too hard on your teeth, try soaking them in water overnight before you eat them. It softens them just enough.
- Crank up the music. Listening to your favorite fast song gets you pumped up and gives you a quick burst of energy, right? The music works on several physiological levels. One, music can raise your endorphin level. Endorphins are the biochemicals produced by our brains that both relieve pain and increase our sense of happiness. They’re the same chemicals responsible for “the runner’s high,” the euphoric feeling you get after a great workout. Two, music boosts your energy level by increasing blood flow. Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore concluded that listening to your favorite music has a measurably positive effect on your cardiovascular system by expanding the inner lining of your blood vessels, which increases circulation.
- Soak up the sun. Take a break and get out in the sunshine, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. The sun is a great source of vitamin D, a nutrient that’s essential for healthy bones and teeth, but research now suggests that vitamin D may help in preventing cancer, as well as regulating our moods, cognitive abilities, and energy levels. The sun also plays a huge role in our daily circadian rhythm, our body’s natural 24-hour sleep/awake cycle. When this cycle is thrown out of balance, it often leads to sleep loss and stress, which in turn leads to increased caffeine use.
- Take a power nap. Cornell psychology professor James Maas coined the term “power nap” in his 1997 book, Power Sleep. In it, he recommends the daytime nap as a healthy, even necessary activity—but only if you don’t have trouble falling asleep at night. He also believes they are most effective when you take them at the same time every day, which is usually about 8 hours after you wake. Maas says 15 to 30 minutes is the optimal amount of time for a nap; any longer and you’ll enter a deep sleep which can leave you feeling groggy. He also provides these nap tips:
- Turn off the lights, close the door, and get rid of other distractions.
- Lying down on a couch, or chair with your feet up, is ideal, but any position including head down on your desk will do.
- Set an alarm, so you can nap worry-free.
- Take a Scottish shower. It’s what James Bond does, and look at the energy that guy has. In the Ian Fleming novels, Bond’s showers start out hot but finish with icy cold invigorating water. Commonly known as the Scottish shower, the idea is that alternating between hot and cold water improves cardiovascular circulation, which leads to feeling energized. Beyond youthful vigor, practitioners of the Scottish shower claim it keeps them younger-looking, too. In addition, researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine found that short cold showers might even help relieve depression. If you want to give it a try, it’s simple: Spend four minutes in a hot shower, then slowly decrease the amount of hot water, until it’s pure cold. Enjoy the chill for at least two minutes.
If caffeine is your habit, it will require a bit of effort to replace it with other ways to lively up yourself. But the first step is simply becoming aware of all the other effective options available to you. And now you know. Welcome to your new, jitter-free, energized, oxygen-rich world.
You know what really grinds my gears…?
When some people see that I’m making really healthy food choices or hear me say that I’m trying really hard to work out every single day, they look at me up and down and ask, FOR WHAT?
Really? I have to be 300 pounds to choose to start living a healthy lifestyle? Some people really get under my skin doing that.
First of all, they have no idea what I look like naked; maybe I want to change that. And secondly (and most importantly), being physically fit and eating healthy clean foods is not always about “trying to be skinny.” And even if I was currently a size 3, it’s MY business if I want to be healthier.
I think many people are starting to associate the word “DIET” with women wanting to be thin. There are so many ads about weight loss that target women and even more ads targeted at us that feature long and lean models and celebrities. And I’m not going to lie. OF COURSE I’d love to be thinner. But I am not borderline anorexic nor do I have low self-esteem about my current weight.
These ignorant folks really have to start thinking about what BEING HEALTHY really means. As I get closer to age 30, my metabolism is going to start slowing down rapidly. And then, once I start getting closer to age 40 and 50, health problems may start to arise (such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, bone and muscle strength, etc.) That doesn’t mean I need to wait until it’s too late to do something about it!
No matter how much we weigh, we need to start taking care of our bodies NOW! If we want to live long and healthy lives, we need to start making healthy choices today. Not tomorrow.
My new coworkers are the main ones who jump on me when they see me pull out an organic salad or drink acai juice or snack on carrot sticks. “Girl, you need to eat some real food!” “You’re so young, you have plenty of time to try to be healthy!” “Wait till you start having kids; it’s just gonna mess your body up anyway!!”
Especially the coworker who actually is like 300 pounds: “I wish I was your size, what are you dieting for!? You’re crazy.”
Sometimes when people look down on me in this way for being healthy, I just get more motivated. Just wait til I pull out my guns (arms) and lift up my shirt to show off a sharp little six pack. YOU JUST WAIT! lol
My point is: dieting is not just for “fat” people. And if I think I’m fat, well that’s up to me!!!!
THANKS FOR LETTING ME VENT! 🙂
P.S. For those who know me or are my Twitter/Facebook friends, you know I struggle with sticking to hardcore fitness plans, lol. My weight fluctuates month to month…hell, week to week! But these new coworkers of mine pick on me daily about this and it irks me to my core. So I really have to show them what being healthy is all about! Give me two months from today – June 16 – to post a picture of myself here in a BIKINI! Yep, hold me accountable! Earlier, I recorded a before video of my body in a bikini (which I refuse to post any time before June 16th due to embarrassment lol)………………………….
Haters are the best motivation!
Even more motivation: (1) I now live in Florida and bikini season is nearly here already and (2) my sister and I are going to Hawaii/Palau this summer!
My favorite salad dressing of all time is Caeser (Ken’s Steakhouse brand, to be specific). But here are some healthier options that I also enjoy!
- Soy sauce/wasabi
- Black beans
- Cooked shrimp/bell peppers
- Cottage cheese
- Lemon juice/oregano
- Black olives
- Spicy mustard
- Banana peppers
Okay, I think I’ve listed enough for now. And I’m getting into salad toppings instead of dressings, lol.
If you have been following my blog here for a while, you might know that I have been trying to get in tip top shape for a long while now. I am proud to say that I am finally seeing some really motivating results! And feeling great!
SEE MY PROGRESS HERE! Click for Facebook Album
Now tell me this doesn’t sound DELISH!!
Once upon a time…
I had a diet and fitness plan! Remember that blog post?! What a joke! I need to stick to my plans whenever I decide I want to cut out bad foods and start working out daily. SHEESH.
I realize I need to find what makes me really focus on staying with these plans, because in the past I have been able to stick with them long enough to see amazing results. Like in fall 2007, I had the willpower (from where I got this willpower, who knows) to cut out all fast food and drank no other beverage but water! I rarely took in anything sugary and I mostly ate the South Beach/Atkins Diet meals from Wal-Mart. Oh yeah, and lots of unsweetened orange juice. My biggest weight loss story is from August 2007 when I was 160 wearing size 11 jeans. In one week, I stopped eating after 5pm and jogged/played tennis every other day. I lost 10 pounds in one week – crazy, right?
BOTTOM LINE IS…what does Jasmine need to do RIGHT NOW to find a plan and stick with it?
This is what I’ll do (and let’s see how long it lasts). I plan on keeping a daily journal of what I eat at each meal/snack and also how many calories it was. I’ve found in the past that keeping track of calorie intake indirectly helps you eat less calories. Also in this journal, I’ll write down what exercise I did. As far as working out goes, I plan to attend at least four group fitness classes at the RAC on campus each week. The best classes for my school-work schedule are anything at 7 and beyond. So that’s Hip Hop on Mondays, Cardio Sculpt on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Spin-Sculpt on Wednesdays. If I’m ever feeling energetic enough, I’ll attend an Awesome Abs class at 8 afterward (hmmmm, sure).
Another thing that helps is having a partner that you know will help you stick through it. I have a partner and we BBM each other through out the day to see what we ate or what we did and to make sure we aren’t straying away from our fitness plans.
I think my BIGGEST problem (besides my bulge and love handles)(by the way, my handles have names: Ugly & Betty) is my busy schedule! I’m back and forth to work to classes and back to work then to organizational or academic meetings! So what foods and drinks that are most convenient are the ones that are worse for my body. NOT TO MENTION the fact that I have to hurry and scarf down the food before I go somewhere else.
Here is an interesting blog post about eating habits!! http://bodyhobby.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/is-your-culture-killing-you/
Okay, that’s all for today. We’ll see how this goes. “GOOD LUCK!” <— This is me screaming to myself, lol.
I’m always in the mirror evaluating my body. I’m pretty satisfied. I used to be extremely self-concious actually. My heaviest weight was 160 pounds and wore XL tops and size 11 pants. Right now I’m straddling between 125 and 130. It’s always fluctuating from day to day, depending on what I eat, drink, what I do, what time I go to sleep – it’s crazy.
So if you read my blog post several posts back, you can see my “before and after” photo. Well I currently look like a size in between both of those photos. I used to be able to fit into a size 3, although that time frame did not last long. But I’m sick of the fluctuating and it’s time I do something about it, for good!
Today is Day 1 (Monday, June 21) of my diet/fitness plan and I’m sticking to it darn it! (If you want to keep up with it too, keep referring back to this one post. I will continue to update this post each day with what I’m doing – since alot of people have been asking me 🙂 I think that would be easier to stay up on than if I wrote a bunch of different posts all the time about my exercise and things.)
Disclaimer: I am in no way, shape, or form a fitness expert or nutritionist lol! I get on Google and search for tips just like everyone else can. I’m just a 5’3″ gal with a little blubber in her midsection, and I am just going to blog about my experience to share it with my associates who have asked me what I do. Soooo, I’m thinking you guys should share with me too!! Leave comments! We can all help each other build willpower, self-discipline, etc. The more, the merrier! So BBM me: 21B31A07 – we can “PING!” each other at 7am when it’s time to go out jogging lol … Okay, maybe not, but that’s what time I have been getting up to go run (because it’s not as hot and it’s a great way to start my day).
My best tips for weight loss are – (Diet) Eat slower and eat small portions; drink unsweetened grapefruit juice to fight cravings; exercise daily; greatly decrease alcohol and sugars; (Exercise) Do a different type of workout every day; get enough sleep; do not eat late at night; processed foods are not the answer (including “lean cuisine” type of meals).
Honestly, I think evvvvveryone knows what to do to get healthy and stay fit. But the question is – who has the time, the willpower, and the persistence? LOL
**Last week was Week 1: How did it go? It didn’t go at all lol. My lesson learned from last week was, “If you want to go on a diet, don’t have any friends.” Okay, I’m being sarcastic but I learned that temptations from friends make it super hard for me to eat right. Monday, my friend sent me a text inviting me to Gnat’s Landing for their awesome half-priced wings (we order 10 teriyaki and 10 honey BBQ), then Tuesday for lunch I took my friend to a “happy belated father’s day” date to Mellow Mushroom where we ate jerk chicken salads and jerk chicken pizza, then that night a guy friend made dinner for me (he served me a HUGE plate of chicken alfredo), Wednesday we hit McDonalds when we left a party, Friday it was one of my best friend’s 26th birthday so we ate a Olive Garden…guys, the list goes on and on and on. In my life, friends equal food lol.
I did, however, do an okay job at working out every day. I skipped two days but that’s alright. I did better than last week.
It seems like my biggest battle right now is Hunger (the new Weight Watchers Hunger Monster is pictured above, haha). How sad! I know. But standing at 5-feet 3-inches weighing 130 pounds, people who have seen me eat say that I sure can “put it away” (lol). I’m not overweight per se. I’m relatively small. But if you put a buffet in front of me, I can take full advantage of it. I’m capable of eating Thanksgiving-sized meals any day of the year. My main problems with eating are that I eat very fast and that I eat way too much. These go hand-in-hand though because if I eat too fast, I don’t give my stomach enough time to tell my brain that it’s satisfied. Therefore I continue to eat more. Then it’s too late. Lucky me that my metabolism is not absolutely horrible or I’d definitely be obese. Also, I love to get outdoors on a track or neighborhood sidewalk, plug my ears with music, and take off. I really enjoy running. Thank God for that or I’d be huge (lol)!
I have been battling my craving issues for several years now, especially now that I’m in college and I have full control of giving my tummy exactly what it wants to eat. Before Georgia Southern, most of my food came from the high school cafeteria and home-cooking from my parents. I was still overweight at the time though because my first few jobs were at fast food places, a restaurant in the mall food court, and the movie theater concession stand. But then I started playing volleyball and also danced for the school marching band which helped me drop a few pounds.
Recently, I stopped working out for about a month when I started focusing more on preparing for the end of Spring 2010 semester! And I’ve been doing well this past week getting back on track with working out. But…as far as the bad eating habits, they’re still here to haunt me! So I “googled” some hunger management tips and some foods that help suppress appetite. Here is the best link I’ve found so far today with helpful information, in case anyone reading my blog has a dilemma similar to mine:
My goal is to get as close to 120 pounds as possible. The lowest weight I have been in college was 118 (in 2007) so I know it is possible. What I was doing back then was counting every single calorie (both consumed and burned) every single day, completely avoiding junk food and alcohol, drinking tons of water, and filling myself with raw fruits and vegetables as soon as hunger struck.
I have no idea where I got the self-control from at the time but I really have got to get back to it 🙂 I’ll be 100% happy with my body and my health. So I guess that’s what I’ll be doing from now on…!!! *K-shrug*
Don’t you wish you had the metabolism of a man! Eat like a hog and never gain a pound! *jealous stare*
Here is a message about metabolism from Megan “Tisch” Hauser (a well-known personal trainer in Atlanta, GA). Join her Facebook group Tisch Tosch Training to get regular messages that contain tips for fitness and diet! She is friendly & VERRRRY HELPFUL! Also follow her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ttoschtraining
- Drink an icy cold glass of water before you eat a meal. This is said to tighten your stomach muscles, sort of to shrink its size so that you eat less food!
- Green tea, mustard, broccoli, fat-free yogurt, and oatmeal are great metabolism boosting foods!
- Stay away from sugar!!!
- Engage in muscle-building exercises because the more muscle mass your body has, the more calories your body burns during exercise, whether you’re doing a zumba session or simply walking to class.
- Don’t skip meals and don’t fast! Your body NEEDS calories.
- Take B vitamins
- Make sure you eat breakfast (it really IS the most important meal of the day)
From my own personal experience, I can vouch for the following fitness rules to definitely work!
- Counting calories (write them down in a notebook every time you eat! Trust me it helps!).
- Drink unsweetened grapefruit juice (I swear this makes me eat less because it makes my appetite disappear).
- If you are a greedy hog like me and you love food (lol), eat plain unsalted almonds in between meals to keep you from pigging out on unhealthy snacks or to prevent you from eating too much. They help with hunger problems I have!
- Eat while you are doing something, not like watching TV, but more like while you are doing laundry. Take a bite or two of food, then go put your clothes in the dryer. Take another bite or two, and go load up the washer again. Eat another bite, then go fold the clothes. (You get the picture I’m sure).
- Go grocery shopping on a full stomach!!! I grab any- and everything that looks tasty if I go shopping even slightly hungry. Also, write down a healthy list of things to buy and promise yourself NOT to get anything else. This also saves money.
- Don’t eat 3 hours before you go to bed. Eat a salad or a light soup for dinner.
- Speaking of sleep, make sure you get enough of it.
- Interval/speed training.
Here’s what I look like when I follow my own rules versus when I don’t (haha). Enjoy the before and after photo. Note: in the skinnier photo, I was also jogging for 30 minutes every day and doing several sets of “suicides.”
This is what I’ve got plugged into my ears when I’m running or pumping! 🙂 These songs keep me HYPED!
- That’s My Attitude! – TRINA
- Go Shorty Go – TRAVIS PORTER
- Getting Money – BABY BOY
- Stomach – T-PAIN
- Always Online – MIKE FRESH
- Go Hard – NICKI MINAJ
- Sauced Up – J. FUTURISTIC
- Million Dollar Girl – TRINA & KERI HILSON
- Stop My Grind! – KING SHUMP
- Everyday – YUNG LA & BOLA
- I Get Crazy! – NICKI MINAJ
- Play – DAVID BANNER
- Geeked Up – BIG KUNTRY
- Fly Above – KANDI
- Money Up – KERI HILSON & NICKI MINAJ
- That’s Right! – CIARA