If you're lucky enough to have a job, odds are you're overworked. A survey conducted by Good Technology found that 80% of participants fielded calls, answered emails, and did other miscellaneous work-type stuff at home after leaving the office. All of that "bonus" time added up to roughly seven extra hours per week—or 30 hours a month.1,2 Go ahead and cry. We did.
Factor in other stresses like relationship squabbles and money woes, and it's no surprise why you're too emotionally and physically drained to exercise.
And since you're unlikely to take a vacation to recharge—an estimated 577,212,000 available vacation days went unused nationwide last year3—you're going to need to rethink other areas in your life to find the energy to train. Here are four ways you can do that.
Fueling up on caffeine and Tic Tacs may give you the stamina to power through the workday with mocha-colored teeth and minty fresh breath, but you'll need to feast on more than that to keep your engine running efficiently.
"You'll run out of steam when you run out of fuel," says Dr. Felicia Stoler, DCN, MS, RD, FACSM, the author of Living Skinny in Fat Genes: The Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Feel Great. "Eating three meals and three snacks can help you maintain blood sugar levels that prevent huge ups and downs in energy levels."
Many of us aren't following that advice. Data from 2011 compiled by Right Management noted that one in three U.S. employees worked through lunch, while 65% took their lunch "break" at their desks. Last year, CareerBuilder polled 3,600 workers and found that 8% dined on delicious and not-so-nutritious food from their company's vending machine at lunchtime.4
Point is, as busy as you might be, you need to make time to eat well to improve energy levels. If you need a reminder, the technology you use to work all of that unpaid OT can also be programmed to alert you when it's time for a snack.
Despite what you've heard, carbohydrates are not hellish calorie ghouls responsible for turning skinny people fat and fat people into morbidly obese planets. In fact, they're a necessity.
"Our brains rely on carbs, and they're a major element to maintaining blood sugar levels," Dr. Stoler says. "Eating only fats and protein won't make you feel more energetic. A basic rule of thumb is to eat carbs with some protein and fat."
Consuming too many simple carbs—foods high on the Glycemic Index (GI)—can cause blood sugar levels to spike, which can lead to additional body fat storage, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Fiber-rich whole foods—veggies, whole grains, and fruit—metabolize slower to provide you with lasting energy
According to Dr. Stoler (and depending on what your goals are), you're looking to eat about 50% carbs, 20% protein, and between 25–30% fat per day. And for crying out loud, listen to Mom and eat more fruits and veggies. They're packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytonutrients.
Caffeine is a diuretic. In more scientific terms, it makes you go potty more often. So if that's all you're drinking from 9 to 5, you're going to get dehydrated. Along with impeding metabolism and making you feel sluggish,5 dehydration can also go all Criss Angel on your brain and trick it into feeling hungry when it's really not.
Adequate hydration benefits you in a whole host of ways, including lubricating joints, regulating body temperature, assisting the body with excreting waste, and keeping your immune system strong.6
The old standbys to shaking off tension are to meditate and become one with your body. If that doesn't work for you, find a different healthy distraction to pull your brain away from what's stressing you out. If it slows your heart rate and reduces tension, you're golden. If your schedule is too packed to take a walk, read for pleasure, or binge watch season two of House of Cards, give yourself a couple minutes to brew a cup of herbal tea.
The great thing about this option is that you get the benefits of the herb you're brewing in addition to the ritual of slowing down and enjoying a hot drink. Three herbs backed by years of scientific and/or anecdotal evidence are chamomile, kava, and valerian root—but be careful with those last two because they can make you drowsy.
Which leads us to…
An ideal target is seven to nine hours of sleep per night. But most of us aren't getting that, and it's negatively affecting our performance everywhere.7 Lack of sleep can also do a number on your innards.
"Not getting a good night's sleep impacts things like heart health and metabolism," Dr. Stoler says. "It's important to adopt good sleep hygiene and make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep."
That includes powering down smartphones and shutting off the TV. The blue light those devices emit can mess with melatonin levels, and those late night texts are interfering with your REM cycles. Seriously. A 2011 survey from the National Sleep Foundation found that 20% of people ages 19–29 get woken up multiple times a week by calls, texts, or emails.
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GAMMA is my favorite part of the FOCUS T25® training system. Take a look with me, Beachbody's resident fitness geek, as we peer under the hood at what makes the third phase of FOCUS T25 tick, and why you should make it a part of your fitness arsenal.
The concept is simple. It's four additional 25-minute Shaun T workouts, designed to be done after the BETA phase of FOCUS T25. These workouts are more strength training–oriented than the first two rounds, called ALPHA and BETA. While weights are used, these are about as different from your standard notion of what weight training is as they could be, since they're used to accentuate speed, explosiveness, and getting ripped rather than adding bulk.
If you've done ALPHA and BETA, you've seen this in action. Some of the BETA workouts require weights as a way to add intensity. GAMMA takes this a step further, using more weight and more speed with Rip't Up, Extreme Circuit, and The Pyramid, which all use weights. Speed 3.0 adds, you guessed it, more speed.
If you don't know FOCUS T25 at all, it's a two-month, high-intensity training program that uses some very modern techniques to change your body quickly. In the ALPHA phase, you do various forms of interval training, featuring both strength and cardio-style movements, without any added gear or weights. The goal is to maximize the way your body responds to vigorous training in the first half hour of exercise, which numerous studies show can be a veritable magic window for results.
In the BETA phase, you progress to harder movements (like plyometrics) that feature more explosiveness and more resistance. This is accomplished by adding weights in some of the workouts. For a more in-depth look at ALPHA and BETA, as well as the science of why short workouts are the most efficient way to get results quickly, check the links at the end of this article.
Even if you haven't done FOCUS T25 ALPHA or BETA, you might still be a GAMMA candidate. GAMMA is what Beachbody® refers to as a graduate program. Like P90X®, P90X2®, P90X3™, INSANITY®, and INSANITY: THE ASYLUM®, it's been designed for people with a fitness base.
You can get that base without doing the other FOCUS T25 workouts. For example, I've done all of the above programs and GAMMA is my go-to workout in the FOCUS T25 line.
It's also worth noting that GAMMA comes with two 30-day training phase calendars, so you can pick the one that best suits your fitness levels and/or goals. This additional schedule also offers a fourth level of difficulty to the program.
The schedule that features workouts from ALPHA and BETA, as well as GAMMA, is the most well-rounded routine. It's the one suggested for most people to begin with.
The GAMMA-only schedule is a little more extreme because you're training your body similarly every day. It's like a boot camp for those who already possess a strong fitness base and want to hammer it into shape ASAP.
There is a training law, called progressive overload, that states you must continue to overload the system you are training as it gets fitter in order to continually achieve results. FOCUS T25 is all based around time. That means, if you want the length of time you spend exercising to remain consistent, you must continually add intensity during that time to keep your body adapting.
The specificity of adaptation is another textbook term. The CliffsNotes definition is that your body gets fitter as it adapts to outside stimulus. Once it gets used to something (or has adapted), fitness gains decrease and/or stop. This is why you often hear that you shouldn't exercise the same way all the time.
You don't necessarily need new workouts in order to adapt. Jumping higher, moving faster, and adding more weight provide overload and will cause your body to keep adapting. For this reason, as long as you are continuing to get better at a workout, your body is still benefiting from it. When you stop improving, you've hit a training plateau.
While most of you can improve at FOCUS T25's ALPHA and BETA workouts longer than one round of the program, all of you will hit a point where you can't get any better. At this point, you will need additional overload in order to make continued progress.
However, training until you've completely mastered a workout isn't the most efficient way to improve (or make gains). For one, it will probably get boring for you. More importantly, there's another element of benefit to doing new workouts: neuromuscular adaptation.
Learning new moves has benefits beyond improved coordination. Forcing your body to change its neuromuscular patterns causes your body to produce performance-enhancing hormones. This is how your metabolic processes change, and that leads to improvements in athletic body composition. In other words, this makes you look better.
Also, mastering changes leads to feeling accomplished, and fun can be an important part of fitness. Adaptations don't just happen when you stress your body. There's also a physiologic change that happens when you're happy. Taking on—and overcoming—new obstacles has an added value of further hormone production. Even if you are the type who loves doing the same thing all the time, and change makes you grumpy, overcoming change always trumps it in the end.
FOCUS T25 GAMMA adds more weight, more speed, and more fun to your training program. All in all, a perfect storm for continued success.
For more on FOCUS T25, check out these articles:
Cool Facts About Short Workouts
T25 Minutes to Fitness
FOCUS T25 ALPHA: Your Gateway to Insane Results
FOCUS T25 BETA: Your Ticket to THE ASYLUM
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How much do you spend on clothing and services like dry cleaning every year? The average American spends $1,700. But, no matter what your budget is, it pays to know how to save money and prevent your favorites from getting an early retirement. Your clothing—especially anything you work out in—is constantly exposed to stains. In fact, a compelling argument could be made that a fulfilling, happy life is one that's especially stain prone. So pat yourself on the back, and get to work with these stain tips.
A summer wedding. Your office with a broken air conditioner. Falling asleep on the couch while catching up on Mad Men. Even stress-free moments can raise your body temperature enough to turn the armpits of your favorite button-down a not-so-sunny shade of yellow. Why does this happen? Because your antiperspirant's aluminum salts mixed with the urea and sodium in your sweat and caused the chemical reaction that dyes your shirt.
How to remove: Don't use regular bleach. It can actually make this stain worse. Instead, use oxygen bleach (such as OxiClean) as it can bust up those chemical bonds you accidentally formed.
Home remedy: Make your own organic bleach substitute with 1 cup water, ½ cup hydrogen peroxide, and ½ cup washing soda. Baking soda might do, as you're more likely to have it in your cupboard, but it does have a more acidic pH than washing soda. If you can't find washing soda, you can release some of baking soda's acidity by baking it on cookie sheet for 30 minutes at 400°F.
It's not just the stuff of horror movies or dramatic accidents: maybe it was a dry day and your nose burst into histrionics, or you grabbed a file at the wrong angle. Or you were in a knockdown drag-out brawl with Macduff. Hey, these things happen.
How to remove: If it's a fresh bloodstain, hit it with cold water and soap as soon as possible. Because blood is organic, it requires enzymes to break it up, just like your saliva breaks down food. (In fact, in a pinch, some people swear by saliva to break down bloodstains.) That means petroleum-based "soaps" like dish detergents are out and true soaps like Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castille or Murphy's Oil Soap are in. If that doesn't do the trick, spray Zainz! on the stain and let it sit for at least ten minutes. After spot treating, wash as usual. It may take a few cycles to remove the stain, so be sure to inspect the area before drying, because a tumble dry cycle will lock in the stain.
Sliding into home on a baseball field? Or did you just trip into your peonies? Either way, you've now got a grass stain.
How to remove: Grass stains can be difficult because the green pigment in plants' chlorophyll is trying to become one with the fibers of your clothing, which is known as a "dye stain." So while a hearty scrub is often required to get a stain out, never rub a grass stain, as it will only work the pigment deeper into the fibers. Begin by removing the bulk of the stain-causing agent. This can be done with a vacuum if you have a small enough attachment and a large amount of grass stain. For a smaller stain, blot with a wet cloth. After the bulk of the stain has been removed, blot with a sponge and rubbing alcohol then rinse with cool water. If the spot still hasn't released, massage a spot treatment (such as Mötsenböcker's Lift Off Stain Remover for Foods, Pets, & Beverage or Zout Triple Enzyme Formula) into the fabric, let it dry, and wash the garment normally.
Getting caught in the rain is extremely romantic in the movies. In real life, it still has a tiny chance to be romantic, but it has a huge chance of causing muddy pant-legs.
How to remove: This is not the toughest kind of stain, as long as you allow it to dry first. Once the mud is dry, scrub away the bulk of it with a laundry brush or an old toothbrush. Then, soak the item in a mixture of warm water (but not hot!) and dish detergent and white distilled vinegar. Use one tablespoon of detergent or vinegar for each quart of water. If the stain is light, skip ahead to applying a spot treatment (such as Blue Dawn dish detergent) and then wash as usual.
If you've ever had a ballpoint pen explode in your pocket, then congratulations, you're versed in non-digital communication! But also, you have a fairly tough stain: the dreaded ink stain.
How to remove: Since the invention of hairspray, the urban legend is that it removes ink stains. And the truth is: sorta. Hairspray sometimes gets results with ink stains. It's more successful on synthetic fabrics like polyester than natural fabrics like cotton or wool. It's probably not worth buying exclusively for the stain alone, but if you have some around, give it a try with a hearty drench onto the stain and blot it up with a cloth. If that doesn't work, you may need a targeted ink remover such as Amodex Ink and Stain Remover, which utilizes lanolin to lift the stain. Use a laundry brush or old toothbrush to work it into the fibers before washing as usual. Is the stain still stuck after washing? Try soaking it overnight in one part white vinegar, two parts whole milk. Remove, let dry, and then wash as usual.
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†Results may vary. Exercise and proper diet are necessary to achieve and maintain weight loss and muscle definition.
Please consult with a physician before beginning any exercise program.
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