Nothing is quite as intimidating as bikini season. For many women, the idea of baring all in public is second only to a root canal. Sure, you're on your third round of a P90X® and INSANITY® hybrid, you haven't even been downwind of a pint of Ben & Jerry's® in 8 months, and you have a stomach Gordon Ramsey could chop tomatoes on. Still, the idea of showing off your hard work can be terrifying. Problem is, you can't avoid summer. Sure, you could opt to spend 3 months inside, watching CSI marathons, but that's not living! Instead, let's get strategic. Here are 8 easy steps to get ready for bikini season.
"7 Colors of the Phytonutrient Rainbow: How Eating a Variety of Colors Can Keep You Healthy"
"10 Tips to Keep Ladies Hot and Healthy"
"Ten 10-Second Stress Busters"
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And if you'd like to know more about Beachbody Director of Results Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration. You can also read a more scientific (not to mention snarky) take on many of the topics we discuss here at The Real Fitness Nerd blog.
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Summer (aka drinking) season is upon us—sun, fun, barbecues, and brewskis with your broskis. Ah, the good life. But with shirts off, where are you going to hide the burgers and beer? You wouldn't think of telling your buddies that you're passing up the booze to watch your weight because, let's be honest, you were Spring Break King of '93 and you have a reputation to uphold. How do you keep the six-pack, while still having fun? It's all about balance. You don't have to say no to all of the goodies, but you do need to make conscious choices to keep your days healthy. I would not recommend going cold turkey. This is not a "diet" or practice in social suicide; rather, this is a lifestyle change.
Just because you're logging hours on the treadmill and embarrassing Arnold in the weight room doesn't mean you can put the cast of Jersey Shore to shame in the bar and not have consequences. One does not cancel the other. There are some major side effects, including packed-on fat, slower recovery, and disrupted sleep, to name a few. It's common knowledge that alcohol is a powerful diuretic and can cause major electrolyte imbalances, which puts you at a much higher risk for musculoskeletal injuries and brain impairment. Other effects include altered reaction time, decreased testosterone levels, and sleep disturbance. Furthermore, alcohol is stored as fat in your body and destroys amino acids. When you've had one too many drinks, your body's glycolysis process becomes impaired. This means your body begins to produce lactic acid, causing a decline in energy, as well as decreased muscle recovery, and increased soreness.
In 2010, the University of Houston created a 3-week experiment on alcohol and exercise using rats. The scientists took a group of alcohol-loving rats and made half of them use running wheels while the other half stayed sedentary. Once the scientists took away the wheels, the active rats drank more alcohol than the sedentary rats. J. Leigh Leasure, PhD, told Fitbie that "it's possible that exercise could cause cross-tolerance to alcohol meaning, it may make alcohol less rewarding, so people would therefore drink more of it in order to get its feel-good effects." So the more curls you tackle in Back & Biceps may just have you wanting more 12 ounce curls on the weekend.
And whatever you do, don't pop a cold one post-exercise. When you work out, your blood sugar naturally drops. After you're finished, your body focuses on replacing your glycogen stores. If you consume alcohol post-workout, your glycogen stores will not be replaced since your body will be busy metabolizing alcohol, causing your blood sugar levels to stay at an unhealthy level. It's important to first replenish with a proper recovery drink post-workout, like P90X® Results and Recovery Formula® or alternative post-workout snack.
Regardless of these issues, most people reading this will still hoist a tankard this coming weekend. You can drink alcohol, have a social life, and still be healthy. Yes, I dared to say it. I promise. You do have to make choices and moderate those choices because after all, alcohol is made up of calories. And the calories usually don't stop at the alcohol. Think of the sugary mixers and the post-bar grub. How many times has eating cheese fries with gravy from a diner in North Jersey at 3 AM seemed like a "great idea"? The keys are in choices and in moderation.
Once you're at the barbecue or bar of choice, which drink do you choose? Let's take a look at your best bets from a caloric standpoint:
When looking at what to stay away from, try to nix mixed drinks and full-calorie beers—although if you're not counting calories, full-calorie, craft-brewed beers are your best bet from a holistic perspective, in that they're made from naturally healthy ingredients and free of additives, fillers, and other chemicals. Mixed drinks are packed with syrups, sugars, and sodas that can easily add in hundreds of calories to your cocktail. And no it's not healthy even if the mixer is made from fruit. That fruit is high in sugar! They may look and taste sweet, but mixed drinks can wreak havoc on your body. Fruit by itself is great for you, but I don't think the bartender at Joe Shmo's pub down the street is grating coconut and chopping up pineapple . . . he's probably mixing canned fruit juice. The reason why fruit by itself is good for you is because it packs FIBER with it, which helps slow the digestion and absorption of the fructose, or sugar. Fruit juices have all the sugar, but none of the fiber, leaving your insulin response to skyrocket and fall. Furthermore, sugar masks the taste of alcohol and you may not realize how much alcohol you're consuming.
When imbibing, try to alternate between alcoholic beverage and water. This will aid the absorption process; keep you hydrated; and help you slow down, keeping your alcohol intake to a moderate level. Plus, when your buddies are on drink number four, you'll only be on drink number two. At that point, they may be too drunk to notice or care that you're not drinking alcohol! If you want to look like you're still drinking, one of my favorite tricks is to just get a club soda or diet soda and garnish with lemon or lime. It gives the appearance that you're drinking so you won't have to explain yourself to anyone.
If you overdo it, that's okay. Overdoing it is not an excuse to jump into a downward spiral. It's an opportunity to recognize that you didn't like the outcome of something and you can change it moving forward. Perhaps, waking up in Tijuana after a night of too much tequila doesn't feel or look so good. Your body will remind you of that in the days following. Moving forward, recognize you may need to balance and make different choices in the future.
So how much is too much? The National Health Service of the UK recommends that men should limit their intake to 3 to 4 units a day (that's about 2 to 3 standard drinks here in the States) while women should limit their drinks to no more than 2 to 3 units a day (1 or 2 drinks). You can still lift weights and drink beer too, just don't think you'll be able to drink scotch like Ron Burgundy at night and train like Rocky the next day at the gym.
"Hot Cups o' Love: Top 10 Herbal Teas to Warm You Up All Year Round"
"8 Lower-Calorie Holiday Cocktails"
"Sugar Addiction Detox 101"
(The second in a series on how city slickers can nurture their green thumbs. Find part one here.)
It's spring, the time when everything starts to, literally, spring up. And every year, urban dwellers the world over have the same reaction: this is it! This is the year I finally plant that veggie patch and spend autumn feasting on homegrown produce. Then they look around their third-story walk-up with nothing but a fire escape for outdoor space and realize that's just not going to happen.
Or is it?
Even if you've never grown anything before, but have always wanted to take part in this rite of spring, a container herb garden is a perfect way to begin. Here's how to get started:
"Spring Cleansing: 5 Great Reasons to Do a Detox"
"Fit Trippin': 10 Ways to Stay Fit While Traveling"
"Leaf Relief: 8 Awesome Herbs for Your Kitchen"
Hit the beach with The Healthiest Meal of the Day®.
(Makes 1 serving)
*What is muddling? Muddling is a bartending/mixology term that means crushing fruits and herbs to release the juices and flavoring oils.
Tip: For an alcoholic version, omit the water and replace with 1-1/2 ounce, good quality tequila and 1/2 ounce Cointreau or Grand Marnier.
Nutritional Information (Without alcohol): (per serving)
Nutritional Information (Alcoholic): (per serving)
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Tip: For an alcoholic version, add 2 ounces dark rum to cocktail shaker before shaking vigorously.
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†Results may vary. Exercise and proper diet are necessary to achieve and maintain weight loss and muscle definition.
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