5 Big Benefits of Morning Workouts

As I sit here, procrastinating my morning workout, I ponder all of the reasons that I should get up and get moving. I have no doubt that I’ll feel 1,000 times better when it’s done. What is it about a good morning workout that makes us feel superhuman, anyway? Actually, quite a lot…

  1. Exercise awakens us in the best possible way – blood pumping, brain working, body moving. Your energy level will be higher and you’re less likely to hit that mid-day slump, even hours after you sweat. Endorphins are a beautiful thing and can make or break a productive, rewarding, enjoyable day. So, lace up those sneakers and move! And, make sure it’s a workout that you actually enjoy to reap double benefits, mentally and physically.
  2. Burn ALL day. Thanks to EPOC, (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) the body works extra hard to restore and rebuild muscles, increasing metabolism for up to 14 hours post-workout! So, hit it hard for at least 30 minutes and burn more calories for more hours!
  3. Start the day on the right foot. Completing a morning workout will empower you to tackle the rest of your day head on, tackling your to-do list like a champ. Just as you accomplished that workout and crush your fitness goals, you’ll crush your life goals too.
  4. Food is fuel. Your post-workout meal will be used to replenish your muscles and provide you with lasting energy. Had you rolled out of bed, had a big breakfast, and sat at your desk all day, that meal would more likely be stored somewhat as fat instead of fuel. Your body is a machine – keep it moving, keep it fueled, and it will continue to operate well for you.
  5. Sleep better. Not only will you wake up and metabolize food more efficiently, you’ll also wind down and sleep deeper at night. Working out in the evening will awaken your mind and body and can put your body in a state of stress, setting you up for a night of tossing and turning. Following a morning workout, your body (and mind) can rest peacefully and wake up to do it again the next day.

Of course, if you work out in the morning, it’s DONE for the day, a weight off your shoulders…but is it such a bad thing to workout later in the day?? You know what they say: “you’ll never regret a workout.” If you’re not a morning person or cannot fit it into your AM schedule, get it done on your own time because something is better than nothing. To maximize benefits and feel healthier all-around; however, I highly recommend incorporating a few morning workouts into your weekly schedule. If you’ve never been a morning exerciser, start now and you’ll form a new healthy habit in just a few weeks. It’s not black and white, either, you don’t have to do a class or get to the gym. Even just 15-20 minutes of morning yoga in your pajamas or walking to work in the morning will make a difference. PLUS, you’re less likely to skip, cancel, or rush your fitness routine in the morning. Speaking of which, I’m off to workout…why? See #’s 1-5 above!

One Healthy Breakdown: no excuses this morning, get it done!

Kettlebellin’

I’ve rekindled with an old flame: kettlebells. Aren’t they pretty?!

FullSizeRender(22)Made of iron or steel, kettlebells are (literally) full of potential for anyone, from professional athletes to first-time exercisers who are looking to gain strength and burn fat. Kettlebells combine the benefits of heart-pumping cardio endurance with weight-lifting in a dynamic, full-body workout. It’s like fusing a killer spin class or an energized run with intense strength-training session. Instead of choosing cardio or weight-training, kettlebells are a double whammy.

Kettlebell training builds muscle, increases endurance, strengthens balance, burns fat, and, in-turn, boosts metabolism too! Another added bonus is that kettlebells can be incorporated into your existing routine or utilized as the primary workout, in which case, it only takes about 20-30 minutes to reach exhaustion and reap the benefits. There have been many times where I’ve only had 10-15 minutes to spare and I turn to kettlebells for a quick full-body burn. Although they can be used to target certain muscle groups and body parts, pretty much all kettlebell exercises engage and strengthen the core. Due to the handle, the center of gravity of the weight is constantly changing, teaching your body to adapt by turning on a range of muscles.

KBThere is definitely a technique to training with kettlebells and proper form is highly important to prevent injury and maximize effectiveness. I would suggest taking a class or consulting an expert if you’ve never used a kettlebell or aren’t confident you have it down. Fortunately, the Hamptons has some great kettlebell experts. Try a Kettlebell class at Sag Harbor Gym with Sara (pictured above) and/or a class at Truth Training in East Hampton. You’ll get a kick-ass workout and eventually, you’ll learn to love yourself some kettlebells too! Once you’ve got your form down, you may just want to invest in one of these bad boys for yourself.

Sara explains: kettlebells can be used as a full body integrative movement, strength isolation, cardio drill, or all of the above. I’ve kept a kettlebelll in my workout routine for years and with all of the types of exercise equipment out there, kettlebells remain my favorite. The range of resistance, exercises, and challenges using a kettlebell makes it absolutely impossible for one to plateau. Besides the fact that everyone looks badass flinging iron, kettlebells build muscle and increase exertion, which burns more calories throughout the day, long after your workout. Who doesn’t want that?!

8309043682_cff4e10768_zOne Healthy Breakdown: why choose between weight-lifting and cardio when you can do both with kettlebells?

Are YOU Hydrated?!

Stay hydrated! Eight glasses a day! Water, water, water! H20 all day! We hear it all the time…but why? Is hydration overrated? Do we really need that much water every single day?

Water_drop_impact_on_a_water-surface_-_(1)If you’re short on time, the answer is no, hydration is not overrated. Yes, we really need to drink a LOT of water…every single day.

So, how much water are we talkin’ here? Turns out the eight glasses a day may not actually be enough. More recent research suggests drinking half your body weight in ounces. For example, someone who ways 150 pounds should drink 75 ounces of water daily. Remember, drink even more if you’re exercising or spending long periods of time in the heat (hey, summer sun, I’m talking to you.)

Here are a few more numbers for ya: water makes up about 60% of your body weight, 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated, and hydration can increase your metabolism up to 3%. That’s more calories burned simply by drinking water!

Water also cleanses our system naturally, energizes our muscles, and averts cravings. Oh, and another thing: this just in, dehydration causes a hangover. Proper hydration prevents a hangover. So, drink up and then drink some more! If you’re going to follow just one nutrition tip, make it hydration. Get a (BPA free) water bottle or two and take it everywhere with you. Drink at least one glass first thing in the morning (lemon water, anyone?) and sip consistently throughout the day. What else counts? Great question. Seltzer, club soda, tea, iced tea, and hydrating foods (watermelon, cucumber, celery, tomatoes, radishes, etc.) If plain water bores you, spice it up with fun additions and natural concoctions.

One Healthy Breakdown: cheers to being a hydration station!

Gone Yogi

photo(177)Yoga is something we could all stand to do more often; the benefits are countless. Truth be told, I was not always a fan of yoga. I was one of those “yogis” who would look at the clock every two minutes wondering when it would end. Rarely did I ever make it thru shavasana. Bad yogi.

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate yoga more and more…and a lot more. The sole benefit of stretching the body, aiding tight muscles, and countering high-impact workouts is reason enough to incorporate yoga into any routine.I learned to like yoga for the physical benefits, but I didn’t grasp the peace of mind part…yet.

When I moved to the Hamptons, I experienced that shift  My body, mind, and soul became open to the vast benefits of yoga, outside of just sore muscles. The physical stretching became the base level for further opening of the mind. We’re blessed to have so many amazing local yoga studios, a variety of classes, and gifted instructors. Maybe there’s something in the air here, but I finally learned to slow my breath, open my heart, and absorb yoga into my life. I not only sat thru shavasana, I learned to reap the benefits of sun salutations and meditation as well.

Just recently, I’ve actually gotten to the point of looking forward to going to yoga. Planning “yoga dates” with my girlfriends has become a regular occurrence. All of the sudden, my yoga mats have duplicated – one upstairs, one downstairs, one in my car…what’s happening?

I think I’m finally becoming a yogi. I’m no master, my flexibility is minimal and my balance is shaky, but I now place a high value on yoga in my day-to-day life…because I want to. Yoga is now a priority for my mind, body, and soul. And I highly recommend it to anyone who…I’ll stop there because I highly recommend yoga to anyone. I’ve learned that anyone can be a yogi and everyone should be, just unroll the mat and give it a try. Now. Seriously, move away from the computer and do a few sun salutations or just breathe deep in downward dog. You’ll thank me later.

One Healthy Breakdown: Rock on, yogis. You were right all along. Namaste.

March Wall Sit Challenge

Mark your calendar! March is wall sit month, so wahoo get excited and get ready to tone that tush and those thighs! Wall sits are exactly as they sound. Lean back against a wall, knees bent at 90 degrees. And…hold. Engage your core for double results. Print, pin, or save this calendar and follow the times to work yourself up to two whole minutes! Wall sits are great to do as you watch TV, so no excuses because summer is coming!

March Wall Sit Calendar

One Healthy Breakdown: everyone has a wall nearby, get sitting!

Workout. Eat. Repeat.

Introducing “Workout. Eat. Repeat” with fitness and food expert, Anke Albert of Anke’s Fit Bakery. Anke is an expert in fitness and food to fuel your body. She’s going to be sharing a workout and recipe with us in this new segment, so get ready to workout, eat, and repeat!

WorkoutEatRepeatWorkout: Squats

Squat. Eat. Repeat. Squats are one of the most effective workouts for a number of reasons. Not only do squats work the largest muscle group, the glutes, the muscles that burn the most calories, they also engage the core, legs, back, and more. Squats are a basic exercise that you never grow out of, they are the fastest way to get from A to B, aka to get fast results. The more muscle you have in your legs, the more calories you burn overall. Start small with light weight or just your body weight and increase as you get stronger.

To squat properly, spread feet wider than hips with feet flat. Remember eyes up, chin up, chest out, butt out. If you can keep this position, you can squat. Inhale as you lower down and exhale to push up, squeezing your glutes and keeping your form. You should be able to do about 8-12 reps before exhausting yourself, so increase your weight accordingly. It’s best to hold the weight on your upper back, right where the tissue is thickest. That way, the weight will not make you lean forward and sacrifice form. If you’re just beginning, get the form down by holding a broomstick or very light barbell, this will force you to keep your chest and butt out.

Front squats, a bit more advanced, are done with the weight by the collarbone and heels elevated, which adds more of a challenge. Split squats (standing lunges) are another great exercise in the squat series that work numerous muscles, one leg at a time. It’s very important to ensure that your form is correct in order to gain benefits and avoid injury. If you’re not sure, ask a trainer at the gym or watch some squat videos online before you start squatting. When you do incorporate squats into your workout, you’ll feel and see the results before you know it!

In order for you to be strong and see results from your workouts, you must fuel your body properly. Here’s an easy seasonal recipe that is packed with protein, carbs, and taste!

photo(108)

Recipe: Fall Turkey & Squash in One:

  • 1.5 lb boneless turkey breast
  • 3.5 lb butternut squash – peeled & cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 tbsp fresh finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Season the turkey breast with salt & pepper.
3. Spray a large non stick pan with cooking spray.
4. Brown turkey breast on both sides.
5. In a bowl, mix the squash, onion, cranberries, maple syrup, rosemary, salt & oil.
6. Add the vegetable mix to the pan.
7. Place plan in the oven for approx. 40 min or until done. Makes 4 servings.

One Healthy Breakdown: Enjoy your meal, enjoy your workout, enjoy your results.

October Squat Challenge!

Happy October! Rejoice all of you pumpkin pie, apple turnover lovers, it’s YOUR time! Be sure to print out this October Challenge and get your squat on, especially if you’re indulging this month! Don’t let fall get the best of you!

Did you know that our glutes are the largest muscle in the body? So, when you work your glutes, you can burn lots and lots of calories in little time. Especially with squats! Squats aren’t fun and they aren’t easy, but they will burn calories, shape your be-hind, and utilize your legs and core as well. Just be sure that your form is correct to prevent injury and maximize each rep! If you typically incorporate squats into your workout routine, try for three sets of the allotted number of squats daily. (That means if it says 6, do 3 sets of 6 squats throughout the day, aka 18 total.) If you’re new to this butt-buster, keep it to one set daily. Squat on!

OctoberChallenge

One Healthy Breakdown: The burn you’ll love to hate, this one will whip your bottom right into shape by Halloween!

STRETCH it OUT

The perfect post-run stretch sequence! Go through these moves after your workout, or if you just need a good tune up!stretch

One Healthy Breakdown: your workout or daily routine may contract muscles, so it’s important to then stretch it all out!

 

Q & A w Z: Muscle Fibers

Q. What is the difference between slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers? Why is it important to work both?

A: Let’s talk about muscle. Muscle allows the body to turn energy into motion. You won’t be able to do anything without muscle tissue. You have more than 600 muscles in your body. They help you move, lift things, pump blood through the body, and even help you breathe. Pretty cool, huh? I’m sure you’ve also heard about slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers, or Type I and Type II…Getting a bit more specific here. Little confused? No problem. Keep on reading and you’ll find out more about each and what they do.

I like to keep it simple and try to explain science in simple English. Type I (slow twitch) muscle fibers dominate in an elite distance runner’s body. They are trained in endurance. Think about running for a long period of time, at a steady pace, medium intensity; these fibers are fatigue-resistant. They also produce less force than Type II fibers and that’s the main reason why they can last a lot longer. Marathon runners, bikers, or swimmers for example, work on running endurance, which occurs when the slow muscles use oxygen to create energy for long-lasting muscle contractions.

Athlete Running Through Finish LineOn the other hand, Type II, fast-twitch muscle fibers, are associated with strength and power. Think about super heavy squats or sprinting. How much you can do? How long can you last? Not long. Your fuel runs out quickly. These fibers fatigue super fast. Fast twitch fibers use anaerobic metabolism for fast energy instead of oxygen; the muscles get the energy faster, and in fuller force, but do not exhibit endurance. When we think of Type II fibers, we typically picture Olympic lifters, track sprinters, baseball players, and bodybuilders.

Everyone has a mix of both types of muscle fibers. People who have major disparity between muscle fibers often end up being elite athlete (genetics play a huge role). If you have a specific goal, you’ll gear your workouts towards Type I for endurance training or cardiovascular health or Type II for strength, agility, and bone density. Make sure not to neglect one or the other. Your workouts should include both the heavy loads necessary to stimulate what I call the “Big Boys,” the Type II fibers, as well as the lighter loads that do a better job getting the “Slow Boys” or the Type I fibers to grow.

One Healthy Breakdown: Now we know all about muscle fibers and that it is important to have some balance of the two types of exercise for overall fitness!

If you have a question for Z, email kiley@onehealthyhamptons.com or post on the OHH facebook page!