Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tips to Stay Fit Over the Holidays

It's that time of year: The clock has turned back, Halloween is over, stores are preparing for the holidays and our diets go by the wayside.
Farewell, bikinis and salads. Hello, big sweaters and comfort food. All those yummy holiday meals will invariably add a few pounds that we'll struggle to lose when the New Year starts.
How about finally putting an end to the seasonal cycle? 

1. Don't stop exercising.
Shorter days, frosty temperatures, bad weather: Excuses are easier to find at this time of year. As a result we burn less calories than we take in, and the first pounds soon settle in.
The solution: Keep up your usual activity levels and, if need be, create a schedule to keep you from procrastinating. Opt for more indoor activities and reconsider what time of day you exercise.

2. Allow yourself one indulgence meal per week.
This might be the season of holiday dinners and office parties, but by overindulging on all of those occasions you run the risk of packing on the pounds fast. The trap? Telling yourself that because it's the holidays you might as well relax and enjoy yourself -- and that January will be the time for "starting fresh."
The solution: Plan one pleasure meal a week. But whatever the dish, always have steamed vegetables in place of bread or potatoes. Counterbalance with some "light" days, with all-fruit breakfasts and enough exercise to sweat off the excesses of the table.

3. Eat winter fruits and vegetables.
Flu, tonsillitis, coughs and sniffles and other bugs: This is also the time of the year our immune system is under the most strain. If you're not eating enough vegetables and fruits, you're probably not getting enough vitamins and antioxidants. As a result, you end up fighting one winter illness after another and have little energy to move, let alone exercise.
The solution: Load up on seasonal fruit and vegetables. Gorge on colorful root-vegetable salads and steamed or stir-fried veggies. The choices might not seem as broad as in the summer, but there is plenty out there you might not have explored. Don't hesitate to try something new.

4. Start with a soup.
Every winter the same thing happens: You get home from work or school cold, hungry and desperate for something hearty and warming.
The solution: Begin every meal with a homemade seasonal vegetable soup. Brimming with vitamins, minerals and fiber, it will fill you up before you tackle the rest of your meal. Prepare a big batch and freeze the extra so you'll have a stash ready to eat in minutes.

5. Stay motivated.
How do you keep up the motivation when it's cold and dark outside? Staying active and getting outdoors -- even for a short while, preferably at the brightest time of the day -- is by far the easiest solution to break the pattern of sluggishness. Did you know that no amount of indoor lighting can compete with the sun for boosting our energy levels? Even dull winter sun filtered through a thick layer of clouds is significantly more powerful than artificial lighting.
The solution: Make yourself accountable. Find a buddy and make a date to get outside. Nothing beats mutual support to remain motivated.

source: http://www.livestrong.com/blog/tips-stay-fit-holidays#ixzz3LwxNxlDP

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Is it Better to Train by Time or by Distance?

When you start a cardio session, do you set a time goal, like "I'm going to use the elliptical for one episode of Veep?" Or do you set a distance goal, such as, "I will stay on this treadmill until I run five miles, no matter how long it takes?" Neither approach is wrong, but if you can figure out when it's best to go for time vs. distance, you'll get more out of your training and see better results.

"There's no one answer to anything," says Kai Karlstrom, a T4 manager in Chicago. "Incorporating a combination of time and distance goals as well as a variety of activities into your training program is the most effective approach."

When to watch the clock: 
If your goal is to gain speed or burn more calories, workouts based on time, such as tempos or a lunchtime quickie, are essential. "Physiologically, you should only be able to train in a certain heart-rate zone for a certain amount of time. If you match those zones are with your set interval or workout times, you can maximize your results," said Karlstrom.

For example, doing long, slow workouts will help you burn fat, whereas short, hard intervals will blast more calories (short, slow workouts pretty much get you nowhere). Also, if your schedule is packed and you only have 20 minutes to exercise, by all means, set a goal of getting the most productive workout possible in that time period, whether it means taking a tough class or pushing yourself on the machines. If you aim for a distance and fall short, you might leave feeling disappointed or stressed, rather than triumphant, as you should.

When to go the distance: 
If you have a specific distance goal to reach in the long-term (like a road race), you're better off not leaving it up to chance. "If you want to finish a 10K, for example, and you can only run two miles right now, you need a plan that will take you from two to six miles, rather than 20 to 60 minutes," said Karlstrom. One recent study in Medicine & Science found that kids who were told to run a set distance covered more ground than those who were told to run for a certain amount of time, perhaps because minutes are less tangible than a finish line.

The bottom line: 
To achieve progress and avoid a plateau, make sure every workout serves a specific purpose, said Karlstrom. "If you're aiming for a particular distance, try to cover the same mileage in less time each week so you know you're pushing the pace. And if you're gunning for a time, aim to log more miles, lift more weights, or gain more flexibility, each session."