RELAX! SLEEP AND YOGA TIPS #470 07/27/11
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Sleep and Muscle Growth

By Karen Tonnis

Your mission: to add bulk, or form some well-defined curves. The prescription: get some sleep!

Woman Sleeping

Crazy as it sounds, that's the advice you'll get from bodybuilders, trainers, professional coaches, and fitness experts in general. The fact is your body can only heal, repair, and grow during deep sleep.

You can be doing the right things—perfectly portioning out your food, doing hardcore lifting that pushes you to the edge—but all that effort will be negated without enough recovery.

You can't cheat on sleep. We know sleep is essential to life, just like eating and breathing. But there are many theories as to exactly why we sleep, with no one clear answer.

One is that sleep "restores" what our bodies lose while we're awake. And recent findings actually support this theory, showing that many of the major restorative functions in the body, like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and the release of growth hormones, occur mostly, or as noted above, only during sleep.

Hand Hitting the Snooze Button on an Alarm ClockWarning signs that you're sleep-deprived. Have a sneaking suspicion you might not be getting the sleep you need? You're not alone. An estimated 50 to 70 million people in the U.S. don't get adequate sleep every night. Here are a few classic signs:

  • Hitting the snooze button consistently on your alarm clock
  • Yawning uncontrollably and at inappropriate times (e.g., workplace meetings, parent-teacher conferences)
  • Feeling sluggish in the afternoon
  • Getting drowsy while driving
  • Having heavy eyelids and watery eyes
  • Experiencing memory lapses
  • Experiencing irritability and low energy
  • Feeling excessive hungriness or a complete lack of appetite

Woman Drinking CoffeeTips for catching quality z's. Now that you know how important sleep is, don't let it get away from you. Here are some handy tips to make the most of your rest time.

  • From 4 to 6 hours before bedtime, avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other chemicals that interfere with sleep.
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night. And wake up at the same time every morning. If you're getting enough sleep, you'll wake up automatically without an alarm clock.
  • Get regular exercise. Physical activity, especially aerobic exercise, can help you fall asleep faster and make your sleep more restful.
  • Have a relaxing bedtime routine that eases the transition between being awake and sleeping.
  • Sleep primarily at night. Short naps are great for recharging and catching up on missed sleep, but too many naps, and naps that are too long, can interfere with your regular schedule.

Man Doing Push-upsMake the most of your workouts. Be honest with yourself. If you're doing the work and the healthy eating plan and you're still not seeing great results, it could be lack of sleep that's holding back your progress. Remember, your body is an incredible machine. Give it a chance to recover and build for the jump-start you've been looking for.

References:

Sleep and muscle recovery: Endocrinological and molecular basis for a new and promising hypothesis. Dattilo, M,. H.K. Antunes, A. Medeiros, M. Mônico Neto, H.S. Souza, S. Tufik, and M.T. de Mello, Centro de Estudos em Psicobiologia e Exercício (CEPE), São Paulo, Brazil, April 2011.

Healthy Sleep: Understanding the third of our lives we so often take for granted, Web site, the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, © 2008.

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Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Denis Faye, Beachbody Fitness Advisor, in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, August 1st, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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6 Reasons Why Yoga Is a Great Way to Start the Day!

By Maura Tibbs

Sometimes it just feels great to start the day with a good workout. That being said, springing out of bed and hammering out a session of P90X® Plyometrics can be a tall order. If this scenario sounds familiar, you might want to consider a little morning yoga—a workout that increases energy, performance, mental clarity, strength, and flexibility. Furthermore, doing yoga has all kinds of other benefits: it can help strengthen the immune system, improve digestion, and ease anxiety.

Woman Stretching in 3 Yoga Positions

So let's take a look at some of the reasons a few vinyasas can do you a world of good!

  1. Yoga offers options for your changing day-to-day workout needs. Luckily, there are tons of options when it comes to choosing your morning yoga routine. You can opt for a high-impact or core-focused sequence to build heat and energy, or select a slow-flow video to warm up your muscles and lubricate your joints. You can pay attention to stretching your tight hamstrings in Downward-Facing Dog, or work on strengthening your quadriceps using Warrior II or Chair Pose. One of the primary benefits of doing yoga first thing in the morning is that it can help warm up your body after it's been at rest. At the same time, those tight, sore muscles might be a little more vulnerable at this point, so check in with your body to get a feeling for its injuries and limitations.
  2. Yoga can help you detoxify and recover from the weekend! These days, a lot of yoga is geared around the theme of detoxification, as depicted in the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall, where a heartbroken Jason Segel attends a yoga class. His teacher, played by Kristen Wiig, urges him to "sweat it out, sweat out all the toxins," as he's desperately struggling in Downward-Facing Dog.

    The reasons yoga aids in detoxification are complex and interesting. When you lengthen and stretch your muscles (as well as contract the opposing muscles), you're increasing the function and flow of your lymphatic system. This means that stretching your muscles can help you fight infection and aid your body's removal of toxic waste. After a twisting posture, your internal organs experience a flow of more oxygenated blood, resulting in better function of your organs and more energy throughout the body. So if you had a "big" weekend and you're feeling a little seedy first thing in the morning, consider a good toxin-purgin' sweat. Maybe Monday should be Yogaday!
  3. Woman MeditatingYoga is about helping clear, focus, and ultimately free your mind. Early writings about yoga define it as having control over the fluctuations of the mind. I like to use the term "monkey mind," which is the state when your thoughts seem to be jumping around in all directions. The focus on breath and action in yoga increases mental clarity and focus. If you have a tendency to lose your keys or forget files on the kitchen counter when you're on your way to work in the morning, a focused and intense yoga routine can help organize your thoughts. Yoga can help you get out the door on time, keys in hand.
  4. Yoga can be prescribed to help manage pain. Doctors often suggest yoga as an aid for patients who suffer from joint pain, inflammation, and arthritis. A 2010 study in the journal Pain showed that the practice of yoga can also potentially counteract some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Because yoga works out the whole body, it can help strengthen the muscles around the spine, which can help relieve pain and ease compression, particularly when it comes to the lower back, as demonstrated in a 2005 study published in The Annals of Internal Medicine. Spinal disks, which are very vulnerable to herniation or compression, can benefit greatly from increased freedom of movement. Doing yoga just once or twice a week can help your back become more supple and flexible. Yoga can be a great way to alleviate the pain of an aching lower back, a symptom many people experience first thing in the morning, after having not moved for 8 to 10 hours.
  5. Woman StretchingYoga can help your recovery process after injury. If you've lived an active life, odds are you've sustained an injury or two at some point, the symptoms of which can return from time to time. I suffered a hamstring injury a while back, and if I don't stretch regularly, I find that my hamstring can tighten up or become tender. After having injured any muscle or tendon, strengthening and lengthening are an important part of recovery and rehabilitation. Also, overuse injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome, can be painful and debilitating, and Plank Pose and Dolphin Pose are great ways to strengthen muscles in your forearms to help support your wrists.
  6. Yoga can help teach techniques for self-actualization. Phil Jackson successfully coached the L.A. Lakers to five NBA titles, helping a group of hostile players transform themselves into a well-structured and highly communicative team. The secret to Jackson's success earned him the nickname "Zen Master." His coaching methods have always emphasized teaching tools for self-actualization, which can often lead to success: meditation, breathing, visualization, and the ability to "live in the moment." You can apply the visualization and meditation techniques embraced by the Lakers and their coach to your own yoga practice by focusing on controlling your breath while ignoring the temptation to leave the present or let your mind wander. It's a great way to lend focus and calm to the start of your busy, potentially stressful workday.

    If you'd like to add visualization and meditation to your yoga routine, a great way to begin is simply to sit on your mat, close your eyes, and set an intention. Your intention could be a feeling you wish to generate by meditating, or a theme that can help motivate personal success during the rest of your day. For example, I like to set the intention for stability. The visualization that I apply is the image of a tree. Once I grasp the image or sense of stability by imagining a large oak tree, I try to embody that feeling by imagining growing roots and planting them in the earth. The result of this meditation leaves me feeling confident, focused, and in control. Yoga Booty Ballet® Pure and Simple Yoga is a great example of an intention-based yoga routine.

Now that you know you can turn to yoga for a boost of energy and more, it's definitely worth fitting into your routine. You can start with a 10-minute sequence—10-Minute Trainer® Yoga Flex—and build up to Tony's 90-minute P90X Yoga X session. No matter which yoga workout you choose, the benefits of yoga just might make your day!

Maura Tibbs is a Yoga Alliance Registered Instructor.

Yoga Booty Ballet is a registered trademark of Goddess in Training, Inc.

References:

Sherman, KJ, DC Cherkin, J Erro, DL Miglioretti, and RA Deyo. Comparing yoga, exercise and a self-care book for chronic low back pain: A randomized, controlled trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 143:849–856.

Carson, James W., Kimberly M. Carson, Kim D. Jones, Robert M. Bennett, Cheryl L. Wright, and Scott D. Mist. A pilot randomized controlled trial of the Yoga of Awareness program in the management of fibromyalgia. Pain, 2010; 151(2):530 DOI: 10.1016/j.pain.2010.08.020.

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Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Denis Faye, Beachbody Fitness Advisor, in the Beachbody Chat Room on August 1st, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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109 Pounds Lost, $25,000 Gained!

Watch the inspiring story of Meghan K., who lost 109 pounds with ChaLEAN Extreme® and was one of our Beachbody® Grand Prize winners this year. If you're ready to "commit to get fit," you could be the big winner next year at TheBeachbodyChallenge.com. Click below to watch Meghan's video.

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Recipe: Three-Fruit Sherbet

Three-Fruit Sherbet

We're havin' a heat wave, a tropical heat wave . . . but that's no excuse to get your exercise chasing the ice cream truck. Here's a frosty treat that takes advantage of the great fruits that are in season right now—it's also super-easy to make. You don't even need an ice cream maker.

  • 3 cups fresh fruit, peeled (if necessary) and cut into chunks
  • 3/4 cup soy milk or skim milk
  • 4 fresh strawberries, sliced (optional)
  • 1 serving Greenberry or Chocolate Shakeology® (optional)

Choose any combination of fruit you like: peaches, bananas, pears, strawberries, mangos, raspberries, etc. (Avoid using tart citrus like lemon or grapefruit with dairy milk, as this mixture can curdle. The same is true of fresh pineapple and dairy milk.) Put ingredients in blender—if you like, add one serving of Shakeology® for extra nutrition and flavor—and process until smooth. Pour into a container, cover, and freeze until firm (at least an hour or two). Scoop into dishes and, if desired, garnish each serving with a sliced strawberry. Makes 4 servings.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes (plus 1 hour or more of freezing time)

Nutritional Information (per serving)
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
87 3 grams 3 grams 20 grams < 1 grams < 1 gram

NOTE: Nutritional information is an average of values for all fruits mentioned, as well as averaging skim milk with plain soy milk. The three lowest-calorie, lowest-carb fruits mentioned are peaches, strawberries, and raspberries.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Total number of Reviews: 2
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"It has been over 3 years since I first bought p90x. The variety of exercises repaired my herniated disc and restructured my core. At 63 my abs are coming along. Like a few before me p90x isn't just a 90 day program. It's a life and life-changing program. Thanks so much. Best $150 I've ever spent. Bobby"

– Bobby Vogel, Carlsbad, CA

"This is a great article, but what about people who work graveyard shift? Is there anything they can do to get more, and a better quality of sleep?"

– Tara, Nanaimo, BC

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