Category Archives: Workouts

10 Ways to Ward Off Excess Holiday Pounds

10 Ways to Ward Off Excess Holiday Pounds

Do you find that the scale moves up a few pounds during this time of the year? During summertime, we’re focused on our bodies, given we know we’ll be wearing the revealing clothing that goes with that season, but when fall and winter come around, that mindset falls away like autumn leaves. Maybe it’s our primitive instinct to bulk up when the weather gets colder; it probably also has a lot to do with our busy holiday shopping and social schedules interfering with our regular workouts, and with all the tasty holiday treats lying in wait to tempt us everywhere we turn, regardless. But don’t let the layers of clothing become layers of fat. Follow these tips to stay healthier and fitter this holiday season.

1. Travel smart. Many people find themselves traveling during the holiday season, but that’s not an excuse to eat unhealthily and avoid exercise. Plan your meals in advance, and pack snacks when you are either on the road or in the air. Good travel snacks can include nuts or dried fruit. To help you be a happier traveler, get a good night sleep before you leave to increase your mood and alertness. Eating a heavy meal before traveling can make you sleepy, so eat a small, low-fat meal before you head out the door.

2. ZZZZZZZ. Try to keep a regular sleep schedule and get a full night’s rest as often as you can. If you fail to get a good night sleep, it can affect your immune system and make you grumpy the next day. No one wants to travel with a grouchy person, so do everyone a favor and get some shut eye. Sleeping well can also help you reduce your calorie consumption, because it inhibits the release of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin while promoting the release of leptin, another hormone that limits hunger. And keeping that hunger in check is a good idea when you find yourself surrounded by holiday goodies.

3. Hydration station. Staying hydrated is important in our daily life and becomes even more important when you’re stressed, as can so often happen during the busy holiday season. Stress can have a negative effect on your immune system. Drinking plenty of water can help by flushing toxins out of your body. For that very reason, choosing water instead of holiday beverages like eggnog and hot spiced cider is especially important, even though it can be challenging.

4. Caution with cocktails. With the holidays comes the drinking of alcohol, so make sure you have at least one glass of water in between each drink. Remember that one gram of alcohol contains seven calories, and yet it yields virtually no energy or health benefits. Calories from alcohol can add up quickly, so be mindful of how much you are drinking. If you do indulge in eggnog, which is super-high in calories in its traditional form, try making it with fat-free half-and-half substitute mixed with fat-free milk, and ditch the egg yolks for egg whites. Also, drinking may reduce inhibitions under the mistletoe, which is good, but it also reduces inhibition at the dessert buffet, which is bad.

5. Fighting temptation. The holidays are filled with temptation, and it’s your job to stop it in its tracks. Holiday parties can be troublesome with the surplus of fatty foods and beverages. You might be unaware of how much you are consuming and might eat because it is there, rather than eating because you are actually hungry. Eat a healthy meal before you go out, so you’re less tempted to munch on empty calories. Be aware of what you are putting into your body, whether it’s cocktails or shrimp cocktails. The office can also be a place where temptation lurks. Try to avoid going into the break room and grabbing those cakes, cookies, and other holiday dishes and treats people leave lying around at this time of year. Be the first in your office to bring in a fruit or veggie platter or other healthy choice to share. And if you are having a chocolate craving that just won’t go away, throw a banana in the blender with some Chocolate Shakeology®, nonfat milk, and ice, and you’ll be back on track.

6. ‘Tis the season for lots of television. Holiday movies, shows, and sporting events are in abundance during this time of the year. While you’re watching TV, make time during commercials to do some exercises that do not require any equipment. Remember some of the exercises you do from P90X® or any other Beachbody® workout program? Good. Apply those techniques and do some of those routines during the commercial breaks. Other options can range from standing up during some of the program to sitting on a stability ball (which uses more muscles than just sitting down on the couch) to doing jumping jacks, lunges, or ab work and beyond. Be creative and fight the flab that can come with being a couch potato.

7. Make recipes healthier. Most recipes can be made healthier without compromising the recipe. Think more whole grains—and less sugar, fats, and salt—while cooking, and make sure that there are mostly healthy dishes to outweigh the naughty ones. Use the half plate rule—half of your plate should be filled with veggies or fruit. Healthy food that’s good to incorporate into your meals includes: white meat turkey (limit the gravy), sweet potatoes, cranberries, pomegranates, pumpkin, pecans, collard greens (limit the fat), nutmeg, cinnamon, and red wine. These items can spice up any meal while making it healthier and more delicious. Please don’t fall into the mentality trap of thinking that if you exercise, that allows you to eat whatever you want. Try nutritious new recipes and be both creative and healthy with your culinary experiences. An example, you ask? How about two? Scroll down to see two holiday treats: Gingerbread Man Shakeology and Apple-Raisin Coffee Cake.

8. Out of sight, out of mind. When food is placed on the dining table, it’s much easier to grab a second helping. So make it harder: Keep the extra food away from the dining room. If you leave it in the kitchen, out of sight, it forces everyone to think about getting up to grab another helping. Here’s a tip: If you still feel hungry after your first plate, wait for 15 minutes and drink a full glass of water, then decide whether you want more food.

9. Eat smaller amounts more often. Instead of starving yourself all day so you can overindulge in that one, giant meal, have smaller meals throughout the day. I know that at family holiday gatherings in particular, it’s asking too much to resist the lavish aromas of the kitchen, so limiting your portion sizes is important. Have a little bit of everything while preparing the meal throughout the day, then eat a sensibly sized portion when dinner rolls around. If you’re still hungry after that, then eat more vegetables and fruit.

10. Stay active. Regular exercise can help with so many of the challenges you face during the holiday season. It helps you cope with the stress of traveling, because exercising releases endorphins that help boost your mood and energy. At the airport, if you have time, walk beside those moving sidewalks instead of standing and letting them carry you to your terminal. During your flight, walk up the aisles as much as possible without making the other passengers crazy, or do shoulder, abdominal, calf, ankle, or foot exercises while you’re seated. If you’re traveling by car, take frequent breaks, get out of the car, walk around, and get some fresh air. If you’re staying home for the holidays, get the family involved! Depending on the climate, go ice skating, hiking, sledding, skiing, biking, surfing, or walking the dog. And go for a walk together after your big meal—it’ll help you all digest better.

Now, I love the holidays as much as anyone, so I’m not asking you to deprive yourself of any holiday cheer. I’m just asking you to be aware of your body and the temptations and pitfalls it faces this season. Because the holidays have a way of testing your self-control, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place well in advance for dealing with them. That way, you’ll have a better chance of remaining on your regular regimen of exercise and dieting. You can even make it your New Year’s resolution to keep a healthy lifestyle and continue working toward your goals.

30 minutes. INSANE results.


8 Tips For Running Faster


Sometimes, in life, it’s good to go a little faster. Those times include when you’re competing in your first mud run, running your hundredth 10K, or just upping your pace on your jogs around the block. We spoke with Scott Weiss, DPT, ATC, CSCS, and a member of the sports medical team for the London Olympics. Shaving seconds off your best time is his bread and butter, and here’s what he has to say:


1. Be Social

Not like on the PinFace or TweetBook. We mean—brace yourself—physically surrounding yourself with another person or a running group. “I find that the people who run with a partner or with a group last the longest versus those people who are self-motivated,” says Dr. Weiss. “And that’s because other runners feed off of each other…and most people need outside motivation. That camaraderie is important and can catapult you to another level.”

The right running partner(s) can help you maintain focus, serve as a distraction from fatigue, keep you from missing workouts, and call out flaws in your running form.

2. Get Outside Feedback

We’re guessing you’re no Prefontaine. And neither was he until coaches and trainers helped him train and hone his running form. “Some people only need a mirror to see what they’re doing wrong, while others need video or a coach that’s on the side yelling ‘Heels deeper!’ or ‘Knees higher!’” says Dr. Weiss.

Whichever camp you fall into, it’s extremely helpful for you to develop proper mechanics. “Biomechanics are crucial for preventing injury and good running experience,” he adds. “So finding an expert to do a running or gait analysis would be a great thing to do.”

3. Fill Your Plate with Carbs

If you’re not eating enough carbohydrates, you won’t have the energy to push yourself. That translates to a lackluster finish in a race. “Protein isn’t the body’s primary energy source. Carbohydrates are the main fuel for runners and your plate should be full of them. Runners are looking to get about three to five grams of carbs per kilogram of bodyweight per day on the days they’re running.”

For this, look toward long-lasting, complex carbohydrate sources that provide lasting energy. This includes brown rice, whole wheat pasta, lentils, starchy veggies. During or immediately after runs, simple carbs work better, such as bananas, grapes, or berries.

4. Don’t Run Every Day

The way you approach rest is as important as the way you approach training. Without adequate nutrition and recovery time you’ll compromise your body’s ability to perform at optimum levels.

“Running more than five days per week increases your chances of injury tremendously,” says Dr. Weiss. “Four days of running per week is ideal. I also suggest that people refrain from training a couple of days before a smaller race. Don’t exercise or run a day or two before the race. Just stretch. This way you’re going to the starting line with a day or two of rest and you’re feeling fresh.”

5. Run the Tangents

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. We know this because we passed third grade math with a D-. Oddly, it seems like people forget that information when they’re running—specifically with turns. “If you understand the course you’ll want to run the tangents—where you cut the corner to shave time. Going around a whole turn wastes time and energy. You can often cut significant time off your running course by choosing the shortest path through each turn.” Note: This doesn’t include cutting off the turn. That’s cheating.

6. Use Interval Training

“The latest research has been showing that interval training has a good crossover for running. Some days you’ll want to do your long, slower runs, and others you can use interval training. Use a 2:1 ratio where you sprint for 20 meters, jog 40 meters, sprint 20, jog 40, and so on. There is no set time for interval training but you’ll cover most of your bases by keeping all intervals three minutes or less.”

This type of varied training for runners is also called fartlek, which could possibly be the worst-best name in the exercise dictionary. It’s a Swedish word that literally translates into “speed play.”

7. Drink Every 20 Minutes

Studies show dehydrated athletes consistently underperform compared to athletes who are properly hydrated.

“There are so many recommendations as to how much water a person should drink, but runners should aim to consume about 300 ml of water every 20 minutes while they’re running,” Dr. Weiss suggests. That’s 10 ounces for all you non-metric folk.

8. Get Your Head in the Game

Remain focused and fresh before race day by adopting proper sleep. Doctors recommend using your bed only for sleep and sex. Engage in other activities—reading, watching TV, using your iPad—in other areas of your home.

“Your mind is your motor. Some people don’t realize that sleep and training go together because they’re on opposite sides of the spectrum, but rest and sleep are so important,” Dr. Weiss explains. “You’ll want to make sure you’re getting solid sleep to allow the body to repair its joints, muscles, and bones in the days leading up to the race.”

The Basics Of Weight Loss


While elementary, experience has shown us that many, if not most, have trouble following these instructions, which simply echo what your body is likely trying to tell you.

Let’s begin by looking at how things work when you’re both out of shape and have a lot of weight to lose. When this is the case, getting starting is the crux. “Just Press Play” was Beachbody’s original slogan, because the key to success was to simply to open the box you bought, put in a video, and press play.

When you’re very overweight, almost anything you do will lead to improvement. Any exercise and any diet that isn’t all fast and convenient foods, will kickstart the process. The hardest part is changing your habits so that exercise and thinking about making better food choices is a way of life. Of course, if you add a structured exercise program and a sensible eating plan, it will work better, and much, much, faster. Throw in a few tips on how to do this, and a super motivating fitness trainer, and it starts to get addicting.

Beyond the mental crux, things are pretty simple. At the beginning of a program, your body isn’t too picky. More exercise and less food is the key. Splitting hairs is merely a bonus. In fact, when you’re very overweight, you can eat way less than you technically need to survive and not only see great results, but feel better. Since this tactic does not work forever, it requires an explanation.

You’re bringing your body into homeostasis; a point where it’s functioning as humans were meant to, which includes exercise and eating foods that come the earth. We are built to move, and when we do, our bodies release performance-enhancing hormones to regulate processes, including how to think and expend energy. All of which lead to not only weight loss, but  more energy, mental alertness, and feeling better.

You’re body also doesn’t like to be overweight. Because we’re built for survival, and excessive body fat slows us down, your body can quickly turn this fat into an energy source. What basically happens is that you starve yourself and your body uses its (ample) reserves of adipose tissue (aka fat) to survive. As those reserves get used up, you shrink and lose weight, all of which leads to everyone telling you how great you look and inspiring you, perhaps, to workout even harder and eat even less. But then, at some inevitable point, things get tricky. Click here to find out when you need to eat more to keep losing weight.

from Beachbody Blog