Extreme Newsletter—Diet and fitness tips, recipes, and motivation

SHOULD YOU EXERCISE WHEN YOU'RE SICK? #136 11/07/12

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Ask the Expert: Can I Exercise with a Cold?

By Steve Edwards

I'm on week 5 of INSANITY and got a cold. Should I keep doing the program?

—Amel Muzz

Shut it down and get some rest, Amel. It will help you get well sooner and it might end up improving your results in the long term.

When you're sick, your body uses its recovery properties to fight the illness. When you exercise, you use these same properties to recover. To your body, trying to exercise when you're sick is effectively the same thing as overtraining. You won't be able to recover from exercise, rendering it useless, as well as increasing the risk of making your illness worse and lengthening your downtime.

Woman Running

Believe it or not, there are actually a couple of upsides to being sick. It both raises your metabolism and heightens your immune response, meaning that you can eat more than normal and not gain weight. Your immune system also releases performance-enhancing hormones that both fight the infection and help you heal microtrauma incurred during your training program. Because of these factors, when I'm sick during a training cycle I consider it my recovery week. Here is my protocol:

At the onset of symptoms I bump my vitamin C and zinc levels, drink a ton of water, and sleep as much as possible. If I catch it early enough, I'll miss the cold. However, your body plays an insidious trick on you at the onset of a cold. Before you feel symptoms, your adrenal system kick-starts the immune response, which often results in a great workout—too good. Prior to a competition, if an athlete sets a personal record or looks too strong, their coach will often shut them down in anticipation of potential pending illness. If a workout feels spectacular out of the blue, consider backing off and adding immune-boosting supplements to your regimen.

Once I know I'm sick, I rest as much as I possibly can. I clear my social schedule, work as little as possible, and shelve any projects (even mental ones) that can wait. My diet becomes very clean. No coffee, alcohol, sugar, junk, and I drink a ton of water. Also, I eat a lot of small meals all day long. Your body needs nutrients when it's sick but doesn't want the energy burden of digesting large meals.

 Woman Doing YogaWhen the cold has turned the corner I begin moving more. I'll do low-level aerobic exercise and light yoga—restorative exercise. I'll build this gradually as I feel better, so that when the symptoms are gone I can hit it hard, right where I left off. When I follow my protocol strictly it will actually aid my fitness program in the long run.

Finally, there are times when you're sick when hard exercise might help, but it's rare. The most common is near the end of a cold, where the infection has run its course but you still have minor symptoms. You might have heard someone say, "I blew the cold out of my system" with exercise. Just be careful you don't try this too early or you'll get worse. Patience may not be your favorite part of training, but sometimes you gotta not do what you gotta not do.

Do you have a question for our Ask the Expert? Email us at mailbag@beachbody.com and we might answer it in an upcoming issue!

Related Articles
"10 Tips to Get the Best Sleep Ever"
"5 Great Tricks to Ward Off a Cold [SLIDESHOW]"
"3 Steps to Beating Your Head Cold This Season"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Check the Team Beachbody Chat Room for the next impromptu video chat. Or, if you just can't wait, log onto the Information & Education section of the Team Beachbody Message Boards for questions, answers, and scintillating conversation.

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. We may even answer your question right here, for all the world to see!

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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10 Popular Diet Tips to Ignore

By Kara Wahlgren

If you've ever tried to lose a few pounds, you've probably been inundated with diet tips. But take them all with a grain of salt—some advice may sound legit but can actually derail your diet. Here are 10 tips you don't want to follow.

Crackers with Spread

BAD ADVICE: Choose fat-free or sugar-free foods

BETTER ADVICE: Don't believe the hype. "They usually use fat and sodium to replace sugar, and sugar to replace fat—or chemicals to replace both," says Denis Faye, Beachbody's nutrition expert. And Rania Batayneh, MPH, a nutritionist and author of the upcoming book, The 1:1:1 Diet, adds, "Removing fat from a food makes it less satiating, so you ultimately may end up eating more." Stick with the original versions, and watch your portions or better yet, eat more unprocessed foods.

BAD ADVICE: No cheating ever!

BETTER ADVICE: Relax your diet rules, and you'll be more likely to stick it out long-term. "If 80% of your diet is tight, then 20% can be a party," Faye says. "It keeps you from getting stressed—and stress is a huge obstacle in weight loss." Just plan your splurges ahead of time so you're not giving in to every temptation that crosses your plate.

BAD ADVICE: Stop snacking.

BETTER ADVICE: Choose snacks that offer a balance of protein, fiber, and healthy fats—like apples with peanut butter, or carrots with hummus. "A healthy snack can help maintain steady blood sugar levels, which keeps your appetite in check and your energy stable," Batayneh says. Skipping a snack can cause your blood sugar to dip, leaving you moody and famished—and more likely to overeat at mealtime.

BAD ADVICE: Don't eat fruit—it's full of sugar.

 Man Eating GrapesBETTER ADVICE: Let fruit satisfy your sweet tooth. "Yes, fresh produce is full of sugar and carbs," Faye says. "But sugar itself is not the enemy. Fruit is packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals; it's also rich in fiber, which slows the absorption of sugar. I've never met a human being who got fat because of bananas." When you're craving sugar, there's no debate that a handful of grapes is healthier than a hot fudge sundae.

BAD ADVICE: If it's organic, it's good for you.

BETTER ADVICE: According to the USDA, organic food is produced without antibiotics, growth hormones, conventional pesticides, and synthetic ingredients.1 The problem is that many people assume organic foods are all low in calories, too, which isn't necessarily true. Don't get us wrong—we'd rather eat food that doesn't resemble a science experiment. But, Faye cautions, "You need to use common sense. If it's bad for you with conventional ingredients, it's still bad for you when it's organic." A cookie is a cookie, no matter how all-natural it is.

BAD ADVICE: Calories in, calories out—it doesn't matter what you eat.

 Salad with CakeBETTER ADVICE: What you're eating matters. Compare a 100-calorie candy bar to 100 calories of avocado—the latter is packed with nutrients and has healthy fats and fiber to keep you full. Or compare 50 calories of spinach (about seven cups) to 50 calories of ice cream (about two tablespoons). To feel full when you're cutting calories, look for foods loaded with water and fiber, like veggies or broth-based soups. Plus, "Hormones have a huge impact on our health. Junk food can trigger bad hormonal responses that, over time, can lead to all kinds of problems, including weight gain," Faye says. Occasionally, someone will pop up in the news claiming they lost a ton of weight while eating nothing but Subway®, Starbucks®, or Snickers® bars—but don't put too much stock in those success stories. "When you go that route, you're not educating yourself," Faye says. "It's like the teach-a-man-to-fish adage. If you give someone a gimmicky diet, they might lose weight for now; but provide them with knowledge, and they can be healthy for life."

BAD ADVICE: Try XYZ Extreme Diet—it works for everyone!

BETTER ADVICE: Find a plan that works for you. Gender, age, genetics, metabolism, and lifestyle can all play a role in weight loss—so even if a fad diet has worked for others, that doesn't mean you'll get the same results. "There's no single diet that works for everyone; our biochemical needs are different," Faye says. Talk to a dietitian or nutrition consultant to find a long-term eating strategy that is tailor-fit to you.

BAD ADVICE: When in doubt, order the salad.

BETTER ADVICE: Choose your greens wisely. Leafy greens and vegetables may be virtuous, but not if they're slathered in creamy dressing and topped with bacon, candied nuts, croutons, deli meats, or cheese. "Fatty fixings can add hundreds of calories to your meal, and sometimes contain more calories than that juicy burger!" Batayneh says. Salad can be a healthy choice, but order dressing on the side and limit the add-ons.

BAD ADVICE: Don't exercise—it'll only make you hungrier.

 Woman Working OutBETTER ADVICE: Get moving—an hour-long workout isn't going to make you suck down calories like Michael Phelps. "Exercise isn't just for losing weight—it improves your cardiovascular health and strengthens your bones," Faye says. You might feel hungrier while recovering from a grueling workout, but that doesn't mean you're going to pack on pounds. "As long as you're eating clean, your body is amazing at self-regulating," Faye adds. "It should crave the calories you need to fuel your workouts, not to get fat."

BAD ADVICE: Treat yourself for a job well done!

BETTER ADVICE: Rethink your reward system. After an intense workout, you may feel like you've earned a cocktail or cupcake. But splurging after every workout can quickly undo all your hard work. If you've been good all week, go ahead and grab a guilt-free beer on Friday. But, Faye says, "Don't let every workout become a Pavlovian thing where you need to eat cake afterwards." After all, the best reward for a killer workout is getting one step closer to the body you want.

What's the worst diet advice you've ever received? Tell us at mailbag@beachbody.com!

Resource:

  1. http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/ofp/ofp.shtml

Related Articles
"7 Colors of the Phytonutrient Rainbow: How Eating a Variety of Colors Can Keep You Healthy"
"7 Tips for Portion Control"
"Confessions of a Junk Food Junkie: 6 Tricks to Kick the Habit"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Check the Team Beachbody Chat Room for the next impromptu video chat. Or, if you just can't wait, log onto the Information & Education section of the Team Beachbody Message Boards for questions, answers, and scintillating conversation.

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. We may even answer your question right here, for all the world to see!

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.

Submit A CommentTell A Friend Bookmark and Share

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An Easy Guide to Proper Posture [Slideshow]

By Sarah Stevenson

Stop slouching so much, kid, it's just not a good look. Too hard, you say? Can't help slumping, you say? Enough with the excuses! Keeping your back straight isn't just great for your spine, it's great for your brain too. Research suggests that proper standing-up-straight posture can make a person look more confident, more competent, and even thinner. And it will help prevent—and relieve—back pain.

What is perfect posture?

Begin by standing tall with your feet hip-distance apart. Really focus on the muscles in your legs. This will align your ankles with your hips so you have a strong base. Tuck your tail bone in so your sit bones line up parallel with the floor. Now, tighten your core muscles—a strong core helps maintain a proper posture and this will help strengthen them—and pull the shoulder blades toward each other and draw them down the back. Your shoulders will be stacked over your hips, which are stacked over your ankles. Finally, lift your chin slightly, so it is parallel with the floor and then pull it back slightly, so your head is in perfect alignment with your spine. This is the best way to stand for your spine, so take a moment to examine how your body feels in this pose.

In yoga, this pose is known as Tadasana or mountain. So now that you know what you should be doing, here are 9 easy ways to perfect your posture and save your spine.



To stop slide show roll mouse on top of image, to start up again simply roll it off.

Woman Doing a Yoga Pose

Do Yoga
Tadasana is the only pose that'll help your posture. Yoga will help you have more control over, and connection with, your body. When you practice yoga consistently, you'll learn about proper alignment for the different positions while you build the stabilizer muscles throughout your whole body, and especially in the core, which is the keystone for achieving proper posture.

Man Hunched Over a Computer

Take a Break
If you have a desk job, it's likely that you spend hours hunched up over a keyboard. This wreaks havoc on your spine and quickly can turn you into the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Make it a point to stand up and move around every 20 minutes or so. Take a quick stroll around the office or a walk around the block to get some vitamin D from the sun.

Man Doing Sit-ups

Strengthen Your Core
In order to have a strong posture, you need to build a strong core. The abdominal muscles work with the pelvic and back muscles to help you stand up straight, and strong abs take the pressure off of the back. Pilates, sit-ups, and most Beachbody® workout programs will help strengthen your core.

Men Sitting up Straight

Sit Up Straight
Most slouching occurs when you're sitting for too long without awareness of how you're sitting. If you can't get a chair that helps you sit correctly, fashion a pillow or roll up your jacket and place it near the lower back at the base of the seat. You can also post a picture of a person sitting properly in a chair somewhere in your office to serve as a reminder.

Tony on a Ball with a Weight in his other hand

Build Your Upper Back
For perfect posture, you need to strengthen your abs, but building the muscles in your upper back that support your spine is also a must. I hate to sound like a broken record, but yoga and Pilates will help stretch and strengthen these muscles as will the exercises in many P90X® workouts. Have you seen Tony Horton's back lately?

Dairy, Eggs, Spinach

Get Vitamin D and Calcium
This micronutrient dynamic duo will help keep your bones strong. To get plenty of vitamin D, spend 10 minutes a day in the sunshine and eat foods such as fish, dairy, and eggs. For calcium, eat your leafy greens, dairy, and seeds.

Person Stretching

Take Stretching Breaks
One common reason people suffer from lower back pain is because their hip and leg muscles are tight, so they slouch to relieve the pain. Stretching several times a day is key, especially if you have a desk job. Simply bending forward toward your toes will do the trick (if this is too hard, try bending your knees a little or bend towards your toes while you're sitting).

Couple Sleeping

Sleep Right
Ever wake up with a stiff neck or a sore back? The way you sleep can affect the way you stand. If you sleep on your back, you put quite a bit of pressure on your spine. To relieve this, simply place a pillow under your knees. If you lay on your side, place a pillow between your knees to take pressure off your lower back. Try to stop sleeping on your stomach as it strains the neck.

Woman and Man Weight Training

Exercise Daily
Exercising at least 30 minutes a day will help keep your weight down, which is helpful for your posture, because your body isn't struggling under the extra pounds. Also, by exercising and stretching afterward, you'll build the muscles that support your stance and stretch out those tight muscles. As you may have guessed, I suggest yoga, but as long as you get off that office chair and sweat a little, that's all that matters.




Resources:

  1. "Posture and back health. Paying attention to posture can help you look and feel better." Harvard Women's Health Watch 12. Aug 2005. 6-7.
  2. Wolf G (June 2004). "The discovery of vitamin D: the contribution of Adolf Windaus". J. Nutr. 134 (6): 1299–302.
  3. Coulter, H. David (2001). Anatomy of Hatha Yoga. Body and Breath Inc.. ISBN 978-0-9707006-0-5.

Related Articles
"The Rub on Massage: 8 Great Ways to Relax and Rejuvenate"
"Flexy Plexy: 10 Crazy Yoga Poses That Will Tone Your Body [SLIDESHOW]"
"Don't Take This News Sitting Down: Your Desk is Killing You"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Check the Team Beachbody Chat Room for the next impromptu video chat. Or, if you just can't wait, log onto the Information & Education section of the Team Beachbody Message Boards for questions, answers, and scintillating conversation.

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. We may even answer your question right here, for all the world to see!

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.

Submit A CommentTell A Friend Bookmark and Share

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Easy Side Dish: Roasted Root Veggies

For a quick and healthy side dish, try one of Tony Horton's favorites: roasted root vegetables with olive oil and herbs.

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Recipe: Massaged Kale-O-Matic Salad

(Makes 4 servings, 2-1/4 cups each)

Massaged Kale-O-Matic SaladMost of us really want to love kale, but we don't. Yes, it's a "superfood" packed with antioxidants, minerals, and B-complex vitamins. On the other hand, it kind of tastes like wood. Well, we here at Beachbody® want you to eat healthfully without feeling like a beaver, so we've come up with the massaged kale-o-matic salad. The massaging part breaks down the leaves, removing their bitterness and lessening the pulpy texture. The "o-matic" part allows you to mix it with your favorite seeds, nuts, and dressings. So give it a try. It's "dam" delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups chopped kale (1 to 2 bunches)
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 Tbsp. any combination of "Zing"
  • 1/4 cup chopped raw nuts or seeds

Preparation:

  1. Combine kale and olive oil in large glass bowl; mix well.
  2. Massage kale thoroughly with your clean hands for 2 to 3 minutes. This will help break down their tough cellulose structure.
  3. Add your favorite "Zing" and chopped nuts or seeds; mix well and enjoy.

"Zing"

Lemon juice Lime juice Grapefruit juice Cider vinegar Red wine vinegar
 
White wine vinegar Balsamic vinegar Rice vinegar Sherry vinegar Malt vinegar

Nuts/Seeds

Walnuts Almonds Pecans Cashews Hazelnuts Brazil Nuts
 
Macadamia Nuts Pumpkin seeds Sunflower seeds Flax seeds Sesame Seeds Pistachios


What's your favorite kale recipe? Share it with us at mailbag@beachbody.com and we may print it in an upcoming issue!

Nutritional Information: (per serving)

Calories Fat Saturated Fat Cholesterol Sodium Carbs Fiber Sugar Protein
209 15g 0 g 0 mg 59 mg 15 g 3 g 1 g 6 g

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.


Body Beast and P90X®/P90X2® Portion Information

Body Beast Nutritional Information:

Veggie Fat
4 2



P90X/P90X2 Nutritional Information:

Veggie Fat
2 1



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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