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Badda-Bing, Badda-Boom

The response to the last blog entry was overwhelmingly positive. So, why not continue the fun? Let’s consider this Part II…with a little twist. Following is a list of great finds that will help you cope with the stressful-excess-eating-pressure-filled-gift-giving-primping-indulging holidays.

The Holiday Hangover. You know the hangover is inevitable…but is it? This one is gold: Drink Before Elixir is a pre-cocktail beverage that claims “No hangovers & reduces redness”. The product’s goal is to “make it healthier and more comfortable for you to enjoy alcohol.” Giddy-up. Loaded with vitamins, potassium and amino acids, I was sold. So does it work? I say “Hell, yes.” Worked for me during a crazy weekend outing when drinks started pouring at 2 pm and the night ended at 3 am. Yep, I still got it. No hangover, no nausea, no problem. Find it on Amazon.

Loyalty Program. Who doesn’t love the Bed Bath and Beyond 20% off coupons, especially for holiday shopping? I can’t keep them in the house. If I wasn’t enough of a loyal customer before, now they really got me. They started a new loyalty program where you pay $29/year for an on-going 20% off your entire purchase. If you receive this exclusive invite…jump on it. Pure brilliance. Here’s more info.

Learn How To Read Your Body. This one is key. Especially during the holidays. Note what causes reactions to your body. Are you unusually bloated after you drink dairy? Do you crash hard after eating carbs? Are you unbearable after eating sugar? Are you especially thirsty in the evenings or AM from not drinking enough water or eating too much salt? Are you super lethargic in the morning from over-eating at night? Listen to these triggers and avoid them. Keep a journal of these reactions and when they occur and you will have incredible insights on how to feel and look better.

Luscious Lashes. We think holidays and we think lash extensions and falsies. There’s a new solution. No more expensive applications or over-promising mascaras. Rodan & Fields just launched this product called Lash Boost with clinical trials resulting in 85% longer, 90% fuller, 63% darker lashes with results in 4 weeks. And they’re killin’ it. Forget the iris-changing, crazy side effects of Latisse. Started mine 2 weeks ago and the difference is remarkably noticeable. They are offering a holiday gift with purchase – free cosmetic bag and eye cream. And now that I have access, so do you (or your favorite gift recipient). Buy here.

Get Matcha’d: I have searched for a good, authentic Matcha Tea for a long time  – however, most of them (including Starbucks) are not the real deal. I recently stumbled upon Motto Sparkling Matcha Tea: made to “make you feel and think better”. For centuries, Matcha has prepared Buddhist monks for meditation and readied samurai warriors for battle. Ok, so I’m neither – but I do frequently adorn my Wonder Woman cape. This Matcha tea is supposed to be a powerful agent of health, wellness and natural energy. Sugars are higher than I would normally grab (13 per bottle) but no more than the natural sugars in my afternoon latte. Small handcrafted batches made up of sparkling water, Matcha green tea, honey, organic agave, fresh lemon juice, organic apple cidar videgar and natural plant extract. (found it at Kings)

Read The Label: The most important thing in weight maintenance is reading the nutrition label. All too often, especially during the holidays, we have this “all or nothing” mentality. “I’ll get back into shape after the holidays.” Which I never truly understood why you would sacrifice 2 months of your life to binge eating. It only results in a guilt-filled, reluctant New Year with unreasonable “now I have to make up for lost time” pound abolishing goals. Learn to read nutrition contents and ingredients and always practice portion control. You can start using 4th grade math: If a serving contains 120 calories, 9 grams of sugar, 18 grams of carbs and 2 grams of saturated fat and there are 5 servings in the bag – and you eat the entire bag (and many of these bags are small and manageable enough to do just that), you have just indulged in 600 calories, 45 grams of sugar, 90 grams of carbs and 10 grams of saturated fat. Can you say sabotage?

Kill The Temptation. Want desperately to eat something on your plate you know is not the best choice? Spill water on it. Ever take a look at left-over food in the kitchen sink? Not very appetizing. Bet ya won’t want it anymore after it’s doused with water.

Talk In Code. We have all that partner in crime that we confide in at a holiday dinner. I mentioned The Skimm in my last write-up but what I forgot to mention was the kick-ass acronym cheat sheet they offer with the latest and greatest social uses. This one’s a must – read here (how fun to practice them over turkey dinner). And if you still haven’t joined The Skimm – do it now.

Burn Fat. There is a pretty good chance you will be indulging during the holidays (avoid making it a month-long habit). The key is to get your heart rate high enough to use up your stored glucose and get into the fat burning zone. How do you do that? Intervals. Workout example for a runner: Warm up 5 minutes at moderate rate (4.5 mph). Jog at a steady pace for 5 minutes (6.0 mph), then exert yourself running at a much faster pace (6.8-7.0) for 2 minutes. You should be breathing heavily and trying to catch your breath for those 2 minutes. Repeat that 5 min/2 min cycle for 30+ minutes, 2-3 times a week. This is the same concept of Tabata. High intervals with moderate rests in between. Adjust the times/pace to your level. Walkers walk for the 5 min and light jog/speed walk for the 2.

And that’s all folks. If you are looking for more tidbits or are interesting in a private nutrition counseling session, email me at dakarrat@yahoo.com. Happy, healthy holidays.

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Rump Shaker

“All I want to do is zoom-a-zoom-zoom-zoom, and a poom-poom, just shake ya rump.” this-is-why-we-squat

What do we want more than almost anything? To have a nice rear. It’s on the top of the list for most fitness enthusiasts. Hell, we all wanna look good walkin’ away.

There’s more to having a perfect bum than you realize.

Your glutes are the biggest and most important muscle you have – they are the cornerstone of our bodies. The harder you work your glutes and the more you build them, the more it will benefit your body. Your glutes help keep your hips and entire body in alignment and allow good posture.

Your glutes are instrumental in rotating your hips and legs while supporting your pelvis during everyday movements and exercise. If your glutes aren’t strong enough, your spine has to over-compensate (hence the back pain). In addition, weak glutes cause weaknesses in your knees – causing them to turn inward when landing on the ground and placing additional pressure on your kneecaps. This can also affect your IT band – the ligament that runs outside of the thigh from the hip to the shin.

The dilemma is in the modern day scenario, we are often sitting so much on our rears we are not activating them enough and they lose strength. Without active, strong glutes, we experience an imbalance in the front vs. back side of our body. This leaves the hip flexors overactive and tight and pulls your pelvis forward.

What to do, what to do….

Work ‘em. Added bonus – since your glute muscles are so large, working them (as with working other large muscle groups) raises your metabolic rate.

Excellent glute strengthening exercises include:

  • Lunges – do repetitive lunges on one leg, then switch
  • Squats – load up on the weight so your body works harder and go deep for a full extension!
  • Squeezing your glutes when you work out – keep the contraction tight at all times (when you lift up from that squat)
  • Contracting your glutes when you are standing (all those soccer games will pay off exponentially if you work your rear while watching)
  • One-leg exercises (one-leg squats and lunges will work your muscle 1/3 as hard)
  • Bridges – lie on your back and perform double and single leg bridges (squeezing your glutes the entire time you lower and raise)
  • One-leg step-ups onto an elevated surface (step/bench, etc) – squeeze at the top of your raise
  • Bulgarian split squats – put your back toward a weight bench and lift one foot onto the bench behind you and squat
  • Kettlebell swings (again, squeezing tight at the top of the movement)
  • Side walking squats (with a band around your legs) – squat low!

Try these exercises as frequently as possible to help improve the activation of your glute muscles and in turn, see the difference in your post rump shakin’. You’re welcome 😉

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Keepin’ It Real

If you are reading this, chances are you are a fellow gym enthusiast. Whether it is at a boutique gym or big box, following are myths debunked for everyday gym situations:

You try to a new boot camp class and within 3 minutes you realize you bit off more than you can chew. You should leave now.gym-newbie-confused
False.
Keep calm and carry on.  Try not to be intimidated – you can handle most any class, you might just need to make modifications. Make eye contact with your instructor and ask them for alternate moves.

If I wait to get the equipment I need for a class until the class starts, I’ll be fine.
Not so much.
Try to prep your gear prior to when a class starts.  Not only is it a bit disruptive to your workout to try to grab your apparatuses (weights, bands, gliders) when the exercises begin, you may get behind and a little lost and it will cut your workout short. It’s OK to ask the instructor what you will need prior to class starting.

I can get sick from using sweaty equipment someone used before me.
True.
There are lots of bodily fluids exposed at the gym… and yes, you can catch a sickness. Not to mention we are headin’ into the sick season. Try not to assume someone else will wipe the equipment when you’re done. Just as if you would want it cleaned before you use it, wipe it clean after you’re done. Better yet, wipe it before and after you use it. Most every facility has wipes or spray bottles close by.

Stretching is not important.
False.
At the end of a class or session, it is very important to stay for the stretching. Your body is all fired up and your muscles will coil up like a slinky on a staircase if you don’t properly stretch. This is the optimal time to stretch and elongate your muscles and keep some of the next day ache away. In addition, when someone from class leaves during the stretching (relaxing) portion of the class it can disrupt the vibe.

Chatting during class is fine. It’s a social atmosphere, isn’t it?
False.
Total no-no. No one wants to hear someone having a conversation in a class – whether it’s on the phone or in person, especially when the instructor is giving instructions. Plus, it’s pretty indicative your not working hard enough. Be mindful. Save it for before or after class.

Always mute or turn off your cell phone during a gym session.
True.
Turn-it-off or put your phone on silence. For you and others around you. This is your time.

It’s ok to show off all my assets when working out. After all, I look hot.
Uh, False.
Keep it tucked in – pick a workout outfit that holds it all in tight (read: bras). It will help with your performance. Last thing you want is someone gawking at your goodies while you are working out.

Gum is dangerous to chew when working out.
True.
There is really no good reason to chew gum while working out. Most likely, it will end up being swallowed and you can choke or lose your breath during your strenuous sessions. It actually can affect your breathing pattern. Plus, no one wants to hear someone crack-a-lackin’ away during their workout.

Flying through my workout can actually have adverse effects.
True.
Slow it down. Moving as quickly as possible during exercises can be detrimental – not only to your workout but to your form (aka injury). You are MUCH better off contracting and focusing on each movement then racing through. You will see definition much quicker.

Exercising is so much more important than how well I eat.
False.
Diet is 80% of the equation. Working out is extremely important for cardiovascular, muscular and emotional health, but eating can make or break your results. Try to keep your diet as clean as possible. It will double your efforts and you will see a much faster, more noticeable impact on your body.

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