ONLINE WORKOUT BUDDIES #471 08/03/11
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Lose Weight and Get Ripped with Virtual Exercise Buddies

By Abby Cohen

Beachbody's online workout community, WOWY SuperGym®, is all about people inspiring each other to reach their fitness goals. But does it work? You bet your Brazil Butt Lift® it does. We see folks band together to get fitter every day here at Beachbody®—which is why we called it "WOWY," for Work Out With You. The motivation boost you experience when you work out with a partner even has a name: the Köhler Effect (after smartypants psychologist Otto Köhler, who first reported the phenomenon in 1926). But a recent development might have surprised even Dr. Köhler.

People Working Out and Typing on a Keyboard

Current research shows that you can get even more motivated by a virtual partner than by a live, in-person one. (That's "virtual" as in "online," as opposed to "almost," like that kid with the weird laugh you came this close to dating.)

Which type of virtual online workout partner would inspire the best results from you? It depends on what type of exerciser you are. Read on to find the description that fits you, along with your perfect match.

  • Couple ExercisingLet's say you're gifted at making excuses. You would totally exercise but you don't have a spare nanosecond. And you told your spouse you'd polish the doorknobs. Plus your pituitary gland hurts.

    Excuse-maker extraordinaire, your ideal partner is a coworker, or another person committed to showing up for every workout—preferably someone whose success will suffer if you don't. Just ask Melissa Higgins, Beachbody Director of Development.

    "If you and I are working out together, I don't want to let you down by not being there," explains Melissa. Before she joined a 90-day RevAbs® test group of Beachbody employees, she says, "I had never exercised before. Never. NEVER!" With a child and demanding full-time job, she had sound reasons to forego workouts—yet participating in the group overrode them. Not only did Melissa stick with it for the whole 90 days, she lost 22 pounds and 8.5 inches off her waist. Why? Her theory: "It's about accountability."

    Indeed, studies have identified indispensability, the belief that one's contribution makes a crucial difference, as a key reason people make more effort in a group. So if you want to boost your motivation even further, start a workout group in WOWY, invite like-minded people to join, and create a concrete goal. Now let's look at the other end of the spectrum.
  • You are an unstoppable machine. You live to work out and you work out to live. You have a mercilessly healthy diet, Bring It!® every second of every set, and never miss a workout, even if you're bleeding.

    If this describes you, finding motivation isn't your biggest problem (though learning to relax might be). However, if you simply want more motivation, choose a buddy with the strength of Superman and the stamina of the Energizer Bunny®. Research shows that a competitive sort like you will stop at nothing to outperform your partner. Come to think of it, maybe your biggest problem is finding a buddy who's more badass than you. That's when an online partner comes in extra handy—and may be even better than a live one.

    A recent study from Michigan State University revealed that test subjects who worked out with more capable virtual partners performed exercises 24 percent longer than those who worked out alone. Great news, huh? Now instead of hoping you'll find someone who challenges you in your circle of friends, you can plumb the mammoth WOWY database—which drastically improves your odds of finding a perfect fit. I see a significant boost in motivation in your future. But what if you're a more easygoing, social type?
  • People DancingYou get by with a little help from your friends. (Or a lot.). There are so many ways to get fit, you're amazed. In fact, you're overwhelmed. You simply want to look and feel good. And sure, fast results would beat the pants off slow ones. But can't someone just show you how to get there?

    Yes! Choose the exercise program that most appeals to you, and pair up with a buddy who shares your interests and is slightly more capable than you. It's the narrow margin that's been found to induce the biggest spike in motivation from the "weaker" partner. Apparently, we humans are inspired by social comparison.

    Whether your buddy is real or virtual is up to you. But online partners do have advantages: If you like, you can exercise at 4:00 in the morning. In your pajamas. With zero concern that you can't keep up—because you set your own pace. Log in to WOWY and see who else is working out. You'll enjoy all this flexibility, plus the benefits of being accountable to somebody. Dude, you'll be leaner and stronger in no time!
  • You are a carbon-based life form. No matter who you are and how you exercise, a workout partner can significantly enhance your motivation and results. As Melissa Higgins says, "When you see someone else's success, you know you can do it yourself." Damn straight, which is why the lion's share of Success Stories we see at Beachbody start with each story's main character seeing an infomercial with fantastic real-world results.

So go ahead: Make the most thrilling part of your own Success Story happen faster. Get more out of every workout by leaning on others. They won't mind.

After all, they're doing the same thing to you.

References:

Kerr, N. L. and Hertel, G. (2011), The Köhler Group Motivation Gain: How to Motivate the 'Weak Links' in a Group. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 5: 43-55.

Michigan State University (2011, May 19). Virtual workout partners spur better results, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 28, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110518161707.htm

Related Articles
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Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Steve Edwards, Beachbody Fitness Advisor, in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, August 8th, 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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Cookbook Review: Good Fish

By Denis Faye

For the discerning eater, no animal-based protein poses more of a challenge than fish. The fatty acids make it healthy. The mercury can make it toxic. Well-managed fisheries make it environmentally benevolent. Overfishing and fish farming make it an environmental nightmare. And most important of all, how the heck do you cook it?

Fresh Fish

Becky Selengut's new cookbook Good Fish sorts all this out—primarily the cooking part—with delicious recipes and beautiful photographs that'll have you diggin' the ocean's bounty all summer long.

Good Fish by Becky SelengutAlthough primarily a cookbook, Good Fish opens with a great, easy-to-understand explanation of the ins and outs of choosing sustainable fish, including essays on fresh versus frozen, wild versus farmed, and the fact that from an environmental perspective you're better off limiting your seafood intake and varying what you eat instead of eating the same fish over and over. Of course, that kind of advice raises the question, "If I'm supposed to eat a variety of fish, exactly which ones should I eat?" Fortunately, that's what the rest of the book is all about.

The recipes vary from simple to complex and feature the following sustainable Pacific Ocean seafood: clams, mussels, oysters, Dungeness crab, shrimp, scallops, wild salmon, Pacific halibut, black cod, rainbow trout, albacore tuna, arctic char, sardines, squid, and sustainable caviar. Each section includes all the necessary information about that particular fish, including seasonality, how to pick it, and sustainable substitutes.

TunaEven if you only like one or two of these fish, this book is worth it. You'll have 10 or so sure-fire meals to look forward to. Then you'll have plenty of other recipes to experiment with as you expand your tastes.

Another great feature of the book is the wine pairing suggested for each recipe. Not sure what to sip with your Hajimi's Steamed Banana Leaf Salmon? Try a Pinot gris or a Beaujolais. There are also URLs sprinkled throughout the book for useful online how-to videos like "How to shuck an oyster" and "How to fillet a fish."

I really only have two criticisms of Good Fish. First, while the recipes are uniformly delicious, many of them are less than healthy, like the Mussels with Guinness Cream. That being said, they largely use whole, real foods. With a little moderation and common sense, you should be able to enjoy most of the food presented here

My second criticism is that, as the title indicates, this book is filled entirely with seafood from the Pacific Ocean or thereabouts. I suppose this is only fair, considering that buying locally is an important part of sustainability and the author lives in Seattle. But fret not, Midwesterners, there are several pages explaining how to choose and properly thaw frozen fish. But if you're jonesin' for recipes featuring sustainable fish from America's East Coast, like haddock or mackerel, I guess you'll need to wait for the sequel, Good Fish: Atlantic Edition.

Good Fish: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast by Becky Selengut. Sasquatch Books, $29.95

Related Articles
"Cookbook Review: Super Natural Cooking"
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Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Steve Edwards, Beachbody Fitness Advisor, in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, August 8th, 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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Mother of 3 Loses 55 Pounds

Margie had the joy of three great kids but the curse of all the remaining baby weight. Then she took on the Chalene Johnson triple threat of Turbo Jam®, ChaLEAN Extreme®, and TurboFire®. Now, 55 pounds later, she's gone from baby weight to using her children as weights. Click below to watch the video.

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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Recipe: Tilapia with Mango Salsa

Tilapia with Mango Salsa

Tilapia typically ranks at the top among sustainable and affordable fish, although some gourmands complain about what they call its bland flavor. This recipe features a zesty mango salsa that'll zip up any type of fish. (Mangos are currently in peak season!)

  • 4 6-oz. tilapia fillets
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 tsp. olive oil

Mango Salsa:

  • 1 large mango, peeled, pitted, and diced
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced green or red onion
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. rice wine vinegar

Combine salsa ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and mix well. Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. (Salsa will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)

Preheat oven to 375° F. Lightly brush both sides of each tilapia fillet with olive oil. Place in nonstick baking dish and bake for 15 minutes, or until fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork. Place 1/2 cup of warm rice on each plate. Top each with a cooked fillet, and top each fillet with 1/4 of the salsa. Makes 4 servings.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes (plus 30 minutes or more to chill salsa)

Nutritional Information (per serving)
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
333 27 grams 3 grams 34 grams 4 grams < 1 gram

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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