I hope all of you are staying motivated and focused and trying to be a little better each day. Remember the small changes we make toward proper nutrition and consistent training can go a long way toward reaching our goals. Something as small as cutting out 100 calories every day for a year can lead to losing 10 or more pounds. With that said, I want to address one exercise and one nutrition technique that you should adopt ASAP.
First, the Dynamic Warm Up. No, this is not a new line dance at Remington’s. A dynamic warm up is a series of movements and stretches that help the body prepare for a workout. The old school philosophy has been to perform static stretches, where you hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, before starting a workout or exercise training session. But studies have shown that this long hold of a stretch actually decreases activation of the muscle making it fire more slowly and ultimately hurting your performance. Also, static stretches do not do a good job of raising the body’s core temperature.
Why is this important? First, when your muscles are not activated and warm pre-workout, you are at a higher risk for muscle strains and injury. Secondly, non-activated muscles are weaker during the workout and take longer to recover. So if you want to run faster in that 5k, jump higher at the volleyball game or bench those extra five pounds, stay away from the static stretching. The great thing is adding a dynamic warm up to the beginning of your routine is fairly simple and only should take an extra 8-10 minutes. One dynamic warm up that I use with my clients is as follows: jogging, high knees, butt kicks, Carioca, squats, knee pull to chest, overhead lunges, leg swings, pushups, and inch worms. If you aren’t sure about these exercises you can find them pretty easily on YouTube. Spend one minute performing each exercise back to back. Also feel free to spend any extra time on muscles you think need more work or on areas you are focusing on for the day. You should be nice and sweaty by the time you get started.
Second, keep a food journal. I know you’ve heard it a thousand times, write down what you eat. Fitness professionals repeat this advice because it works so well, but very few people actually do it. It’s kind of like the flossing of fitness. Eating is one of those activities that we do without thinking, which can be a very bad thing when it comes to overeating. Stop for a second and think about how many of your meals are consumed while you are focused on something else. Whether it’s the TV, a movie, a magazine, or my personal favorite, Facebook, those distractions really mess with the brain’s ability to tell us when we are full. And if you didn’t get the memo, again, this is bad.
By recording all of your meals and snacks, it re-triggers our brain to become more conscious of what we are eating. Usually as soon as I make a client start a food journal, they experience revelations. Either they didn’t think they were eating so much or didn’t realize how many calories were in what they were eating. I recommend the app myfitnesspal because you can store all of your entries in your phone and it’s easy to remember. Conscious eating leads to healthy eating.