Morning Workouts- Early Bird Gets the Worm. September 24 2015
As a non-morning person, I have traditionally struggled to find the motivation to leap out of bed and get my disoriented, grumpy self to the gym. The snooze button and I have become close friends, despite my better attempts to pretend it doesn’t exist. After giving it a chance, however, I’ve started to see the benefits of getting my exercise in at the beginning of my day, as opposed to near the end. Here are the top 6 reasons that starting my day with a workout has officially turned me into a morning person!
It starts your day on a positive note.
Starting your day with exercise gives you a sense of accomplishment that you will carry with you throughout the day. Beginning on a healthy tip inspires you to keep this momentum throughout your day, swaying you toward the salad bar on your lunch break, or giving you a little extra nudge toward taking the stairs over the crowded escalator.
It elevates your mood and productivity.
As Elle Woods in Legally Blonde so eloquently put it- “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy! Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” Regular exercise has been scientifically proven to have a positive impact on our overall mood and stress levels. Starting your day with exercise will release endorphins, improving your mood throughout the day. Naturally, starting the day energized and alert with a positive mindset will increase your productivity.
It boosts your metabolism.
Often, for those of us too sluggish to give up that extra hour of sleep in the morning to get our bodies moving, our digestive systems tend to be a bit more sluggish. I often didn’t feel an appetite in the morning, and would end up skipping this essential meal and waiting for lunch. Getting your body moving first thing is a great way to work up your appetite for the day’s most important meal. Exercise boosts metabolism, so by getting it in earlier on, you will burn more calories throughout the day. (Especially high cardio or interval training exercises.) Eating a healthy breakfast is also key in getting your digestive system moving and kick-starting your metabolism for the day.
It’s the best time to build muscle.
Our hormones are elevated first thing in the morning, and drop progressively throughout the day. Testosterone, for example, is at its peak level in the morning, and is an essential hormone in building muscle. (Hello, abs!) With proper sleep, the morning is also when our bodies have the most energy and thus the most potential for a productive workout. Also, sweating regularly is great for the skin. Who needs makeup with that post workout glow?
It’s just you and your thoughts... and maybe a few others.
The gym in the morning is a far different vibe than it is after work hours. The snarling guy waiting to use your machine, the girl hogging the mat- these un-pleasantries are far less likely to be an issue in the wee hours of the day. The morning shift at the gym is a much more peaceful, serene experience. You will find yourself far less distracted or intimidated, and have a chance to really escape and experience the therapeutic aspect of exercise. Even if you’re not a gym rat and you prefer to jog outdoors or hit an early yoga class, these spaces will also likely feel much more calm and private earlier on in the day.
It improves your family & social life.
Getting your workout out of the way first thing in the morning is a great way to make sure it actually happens! There are so many distractions that can arise throughout the day- a last minute work assignment, a friend’s get together, a sick child, etc. Hitting the gym before you start your day checks off that box, leaving more flexibility for other priorities throughout your day, such as spending quality time with family and friends.
So before you turn your nose up at the early morning keeners and hit that snooze button, give the morning workout a shot. It might take you a little while to adjust to the new routine, but once you start feeling the positive impact it has on your life, you won’t regret it!
The Do's and Don'ts of Prenatal Exercise! September 16 2015
Hey active lady, is your pregnancy making you feel nervous about exercising? Well fear no more! While it’s important to change your exercise regimen slightly, avoiding high impact activities like gymnastics or dance, there are several types of classes and exercises that are not only safe during pregnancy, but beneficial to your changing body. For the longest time, doctors were advising pregnant women to take it as easy as possible during pregnancy. They were seen as these fragile creatures who could miscarry at the slightest strain. Well this is oh so false. Being inactive during pregnancy has actually been linked to excessive weight gain and a reduction in strength and flexibility which, let me tell you, is not helpful during labour. A little weight gain is to be expected, so all you fitness buffs- let it happen. Embrace your changing body, nourish it, and exercise regularly so you feel better about yourself physically and emotionally. Below are a few safe and reliable forms of exercise to try out during your pregnancy.
One main factor to remember when looking for new types of exercise during your pregnancy is that your center of gravity will shift. It’s important to partake in activities that don’t require a lot of impact, (such as jumping) or balance (such as gymnastics, trampoline, fast paced forms of dance, etc.). There are lower impact dance classes, like Barre, for instance, that can be a safe alternative. Barre is great because you’ve got something to hold on to, which reduces your risk of falling. Just try and sit out the big turns and jumps if you can, as your balance won’t be what it used to for a while.
YOGA & PILATES
Yoga is certainly the most popular and probably one of the most holistically beneficial forms of exercise to practice during pregnancy. With its focus on stretching the body, strengthening the core, and relaxing the mind, yoga is amazing for preparing the body and mind for childbirth. It’s a great way to stay calm and deal with any anxieties or stresses you may be feeling about your pregnancy or anything else. It also trains you to control your breathing as you learn to synchronize it with your movements, which is a huge asset in labour. A stress-free pregnancy is a healthy pregnancy!
Similarly to yoga, Pilates focuses on elongating the muscles and strengthening the core. As long as you don’t strain yourself by pushing your body beyond your limits, it is also a safe form of exercise during pregnancy. As in any exercise, it is important to take certain precautions when practicing yoga or pilates. For instance, as you progress to the second and third trimester, avoid inversions and positions that involve lying on your back. This can put extra pressure on your blood vessels and cause your blood pressure to drop. Most importantly- don’t do hot yoga! Extreme overheating and dehydration can have negative effects not only on you but the fetus as well, and can contribute to premature labour.
Swimming is a perfect form of exercise for pregnant women, and probably the safest as it’s literally zero impact! There’s no risk of injury, and the buoyancy of the water also makes you feel lighter and thus the exercises less straining, even though you are working several muscles and burning a ton of calories. Aside from just swimming laps for cardio, there are a ton of aqua aerobics classes you can take to build strength and endurance in the water.
Spinning can be a great way to get some exercise while pregnant, as it requires no impact and allows you to have complete control over the level of intensity to which you push yourself. As in any form of exercise, it is important to avoid overheating and dehydration, and to listen to your body and be aware of signs of over exertion like dizziness or a rapid heartbeat.
Basically, don’t shy away from exercising during your pregnancy. As long as you are in tune with your body and take the necessary precautions, exercise is a necessary factor in ensuring a healthy pregnancy and a smooth childbirth. It also has positive effects on your mental well-being, reducing stress and anxiety. Keeping your health and fitness at a normal level during your pregnancy will increase your strength during labour, and will also make it an easier transition to your pre-baby self after giving birth!
Back to Life, Back to Reality. How to Beat the Stress of September! September 09 2015
September always creeps up so quickly, doesn’t it? Back to school, back to work… back to reality. Just as we finally adjust to the gentle hum-drum of summer, fast-paced September comes around and hits you like a freight train… at least if you’re not prepared. Suddenly, you are required to keep track of an entire family’s increasingly busy schedules, while trying to kick it into high gear yourself whether it’s at work or at home.
Organization is the key to keeping calm, cool and collected during all the back to school / work madness. It may sound obvious, but if you decide to cut it close and start your prep just before school starts, you’ll find yourself in a frenzy. First, you’re going to figure out how many items the kids are missing (back to school supplies, knapsacks, clothes). Secondly, you’re going to realize you had signed them up for a ton of extra-curriculars, most of which overlap, which means you’ll either need to find help or arrange a carpool in the next two days, otherwise one of your kids will have to forfeit their activities. These are just a few examples of how poor organization can become a huge headache if you wait until the last minute to figure things out. Don’t learn the hard way! Here are a few easy ways to make sure you and your family stay on track this fall!
Anticipation and Planning
Part of good organization is being proactive rather than reactive. Think about what potential issues or curveballs could arise, and have a plan in place to deal with these should they occur. (Ex. look into your carpool situation long before the first week of school, set up emergency contacts, etc.) The same goes for work, don’t wait until the night before you head back from vacation to figure out what you’re behind on. Stay up to speed and constantly organize and prioritize when and how things will get done, even if you push them off until later.
Personally, I find that my external environment strongly influences my internal environment. As such, in order to feel organized and efficient, it is helpful to organize your belongings and make sure the house is in order. Try organizing your desk or stationery drawers, your room, your home office, whatever feels chaotic to you. Immediately you will feel more focused and in control of your life. Creating a monthly agenda or keeping a calendar in a main room of the house is a great way to keep everyone up to date with activities and ongoing events. Even if it's inevitably going to be a stressful day, at least you'll know it's coming!
Asking for help
Don’t try to do everything yourself. If you’re the planner, create a foolproof agenda for your family, but then make sure everyone contributes to making sure it is followed. If you are working and your kids want to attend an extra-curricular, establish a relationship with someone that you can call in case you’re not able to drive that day, such as another child’s parents. Just make sure that the next time they’re in a pinch you do your best to return the favor.
Keeping up with your routine
Something we’ve touched on a few times; keeping a fairly regular, steady routine is helpful in staying organized. The minute you let go of your routine, it’s easier to skip or forget about your daily tasks, and this is how things begin to slip.
If you missed the boat this year and found yourself facing the headache of last minute organization, stop freaking out. It's never too late to put a plan in place to get you back on track. Don’t let the stresses of September take you down! Staying organized will give you the confidence to face the chaos head on.
Routine and Consistency- the Secret behind Health & Wealth August 24 2015
We have all felt the positive effects of a good week of routine- that feeling of accomplishment. Yet, we seem to fall off of it so easily. Somehow when a task or goal is put down on paper or into your calendar it becomes much more of a priority, whether you’re super task oriented or not. No one likes to feel that they’re neglecting their responsibilities, so if they’re written down in front of us we’re more likely to get them done. After a while, this routine starts to feel like second nature to us. Basically, by creating a daily routine for ourselves, we naturally become more motivated and task driven, and we’re more likely not to be swayed by tempting distractions if we’re dedicated to a routine. Creating a daily schedule for yourself can help improve your productivity in every area of your life.
Incorporating fitness into your daily routine is key, even if you’re not a huge workout buff. Maintaining a decent level of physical activity on a daily basis is essential not only for our long term health, but for our mental well-being and stimulation as well. Sitting behind a desk and being inactive all day can start to take its toll. Those who make time in their day for physical exercise tend to be more energetic, positive and productive. Make sure to jot this one down in your schedule. It doesn’t matter when or what you do, just make sure to be active at least once a day!
Routine forces you to manage your time as it takes planning. To create a routine, we are forced to sit down, consider our tasks the following day/week, and how we can fit these in with our other personal daily functions (such as the gym, meals, social and family events, etc.) After a while, you will have expert time management skills, and will benefit from this in other areas such as your work life or planning out your kids millions of sports practices and school events!
Eating & Sleeping
This area is so underrated. People totally underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep and a regular meal schedule. Sleep (or lack thereof) is directly linked to our mental function and our general productivity. Without a routine, we tend to let our bedtime creep later and later until we find ourselves trying to function on 4 or 5 hours sleep for an entire day at the office. Not only will you feel like crap, your work will suffer. Just get those 7 to 8 hours! Set a bed time and stick to it. That simple.
In terms of eating, so many people wait until they are starving before eating a meal. This is a huge mistake. You should constantly be grazing on small snacks to keep your blood sugar levels stable and your mind alert. There’s a reason they call it brain food! Setting a meal time for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as snack times can be helpful in staying regular. If you want to go the extra mile, plan out what you’ll eat for each meal, too! (This will also help you stick to healthier options and resist temptation.)
Routine for Kids
This is probably the most important area to stress. Creating a consistency for children, particularly around meal and bed times, is essential for their mental development and overall well-being. The younger years are the biggest learning years, they are essentially little sponges soaking up all the information they come across! It is crucial that we set them up for success by providing structure, regular meals and sleep schedules so that they can focus on learning and growing into the strong young adults we want them to be. Following a routine from a young age will also help them develop a good work ethic and a healthier, more balanced lifestyle as they grow up.
Take the time to create a daily schedule for yourself. Write it down each night or at the beginning of the week to start out. Before you know it, you’ll be living and breathing your routine without a second thought, and living a much fuller, healthier and more productive life!