- The Sleep Solution: 4 Ways to Get the Rest You Need to Boost Results!
- Hot Moves. Hot Music. Hot Deals.
- 4 Tips on Treating Skin Ailments
- Parabens. What's the Hype?
- Test Your Beachbody® Trainer IQ!
I'm tired of all this nonsense about beauty being skin deep.
That's deep enough. What do you want, an adorable pancreas?
The Sleep Solution: 4 Ways to Get the Rest You Need to Boost Results!By Denis Faye
Sometimes, people get so caught up in hammering workouts and cutting calories that they forget that half of getting great results is recovery. And one of the greatest tools in the recovery arsenal is a good night's sleep. It heals your mind and your body and, frankly, just makes you feel good.
But getting 8 hours between the sheets isn't always as easy as it sounds. If you're like most of us, you probably slept like crud last night. The National Sleep Foundation's 2010 Sleep in America poll talked to over a thousand people across the ethnic spectrum between the ages of 25 and 60, and found that the average American sleeps 6 to 7 hours a night. This lack of a solid 8 hours leaves them feeling continually fatigued and has a wide-reaching impact, from the workplace to the car to the bedroom. (Which is to say, the things you do in the bedroom besides sleeping, if you know what I mean.)
For you health and fitness fanatics, a lack of sleep also impacts your ability to stay in tip-top shape. A study last year out of Stanford noted that when the school's women's tennis team sawed logs for 10 hours or more a night over a 5- to 6-week period, their baseline sprint times improved by more than 1.5 seconds. Their hitting accuracy and depth also improved.
"Traditionally, elite athletes dedicate numerous hours to daily practice, strength training, and conditioning as well as work closely with nutritionists in hopes of optimizing their athletic performance," said study lead author Cheri Mah, in a rather long-winded and difficult-to-truncate quote. "However, very little, if any, attention is focused on an athlete's sleeping patterns and habits. While most athletes and coaching staff may believe that sleep is an important contributing factor in sports, many do not realize that optimal or peak performance can only occur when an athlete's sleep and sleep habits are optimal."
But if picking up a couple seconds on the tennis court isn't important to you, a good night's rest can also improve your ability to eat right. A number of studies have shown that a lack of sleep lowers levels of leptin and ghrelin, two hormones in your brain that act as appetite suppressants. Research from the University of Chicago showed that sleeping for a measly 4 hours over the course of one night increased subjects' appetites for high-carb foods by 45 percent!
It's hard to argue with these facts, but even as I write this, I can hear you grumbling, "Whatever! I'd love to sleep more, but 8 to 10 hours a night? Like that's going to happen." Honestly, I'm prone to agree, but even if that block o' eight isn't attainable, here are a few tricks to try to sneak in a little extra sleep or at least improve the quality of the slumber you do get.
Power naps! So you stayed up to catch the Late Late Show and then had to get up at the crack of dawn to pack your brood off to school. Now you're pooped. If you have 20 minutes, grab yourself 20 zzzs. A small study out of the University of California, Berkeley, showed that people who grabbed themselves a quickie performed 20 percent better on a series of memory exercises.
Go snackless. If you can't go for quantity, at least go for quality. Many people, particularly those who like to eat before bed, have written off late-night snacks warnings as old wives' tales. Well, before you plow into your Taco Bell® Fourthmeal, consider a study out of Northwest University showing that mice that ate a high-fat diet when they were supposed to be sleeping incurred a 48 percent weight increase. Mice that ate the same diet, but at the proper time, only experienced a 20 percent weight increase. The theory behind this is that night eating interferes with your body's circadian rhythms, which again affects your leptin levels. So, while it may seem like you're scratching an itch with that taco, you're actually increasing your hunger in the long run.
Push Play. Simply put, exercise poops you out! The Journal of the American Medical Association did a study on the impact of exercise on older adults with moderate sleep-related complaints. They split 43 healthy men and women between the ages of 50 and 76 into two groups. One group exercised moderately, meaning 30- to 40-minute aerobics classes four times a week, for 16 weeks. The other group made no changes to their lifestyles. By the end of the study, the exercisers reported more improvement in their quality of sleep than the control group.
Of course, it's best not to do this before bed. The time before sleep should be all about repose, so make sure you . . .
Wind down right. A lot of people feel the boob tube is ideal for easing into bedtime. In fact, it's a fairly stimulating activity, and just like cruising the interweb or hunting human prey, it's not an ideal way to change gears. "The hour before bed is an important time to relax and wind down before going to sleep," explained Thomas J. Balkin, PhD, Chairman of the National Sleep Foundation. "For those who are having problems sleeping, it's a good idea to consider whether your bedtime routines may be too alerting."
So tonight, consider reading a book, meditating, listening to some mellow music, or gentle stretching instead. You'll be sleeping like a rock in no time.
Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development, who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards, Steve Edwards, on Wednesday, April 14th, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT. Go to the Beachbody Chat Room.
4 Tips on Treating Skin AilmentsBy Omar Shamout
At the risk of being overly poetic, I like to consider our three layers of skin the brave knights defending the bodily temple from marauding microbes. As our largest organ, skin is the part of our anatomy that protects us from harmful invading pathogens. If the brave epidermis, the fearless dermis, and the dashing hypodermis weren't there to protect us from these intruders, we'd be as helpless as lambs to the slaughter.
Our skin has a total area of approximately 20 square feet, which leaves a lot of room for a myriad of potential medical problems. So, it's essential that we get a proper understanding of the most common of these ailments and take the steps necessary to ensure prevention. But sometimes issues can arise despite all of our best efforts, and it's important to understand all the options available to you in terms of treatment.
Before we even get to the list, one commonsense way to look after your skin is by staying properly hydrated. Waiting until you get thirsty means you're already dehydrated, so be proactive about it. Your body loses 2 to 3 liters of water a day just from normal activities, excluding exercise, so proper water intake is essential to keeping not only your skin healthy, but your entire body, and will aid in the prevention of many of the conditions mentioned below.
Sunny (Vitamin) D. Naturally, many fitness enthusiasts are also sun worshippers who prefer to get their exercise outdoors whenever possible. This tendency can have positive and negative impacts on our skin.
Vitamin D is a hormone generated in the skin using sunshine as a catalyst. It strengthens calcium absorption throughout the body, promoting healthy bones, teeth, and muscle. A vitamin D deficiency can lead to harmful problems such as low bone mass and osteoporosis, because your body will start looking anywhere it can for its much-needed calcium. It might even make you more susceptible to certain cancers.
For those of us lucky enough to live in sun-drenched parts of the United States, such as the South or West Coast, 10 to 15 minutes per day of sun exposure without sunscreen is generally considered enough time to stimulate sufficient vitamin D production in people with light or fair skin. Dark-skinned people are thought to require 5 to 10 times as much sun exposure to achieve the same results. Exposing your arms, face, and legs to this amount of sunlight does not increase risk for skin cancer. Supplements and foods like dairy and fish are also good ways to increase vitamin D intake. Overdosing is of no real concern, so load up and help keep your bones healthy.
The treatment of sun-damaged skin obviously depends on the severity of the damage. There isn't a cream in the world strong enough to get rid of melanoma, for instance. However, there are many different treatments for mild symptoms such as sunburns, wrinkles, and pigment discoloration. Always consult your doctor first to make sure that large freckle you never noticed before isn't something more serious.
$ - Inexpensive over-the-counter products containing aloe or alpha hydroxy acids are the easiest way to ease the pain associated with sunburns, and are very effective ways to temporarily soothe damaged skin. More powerful creams such as Tretinoin or Tazarotene require a prescription.
$$ - Chemical peels are procedures that burn off the topmost layer of damaged skin in order to regenerate new cell growth in the affected area. The deeper the peel, the more expensive, but also the more risk you run of superficially scarring your skin.
$$$ - Non-Ablative Laser Surgery, which uses pulsed-dye technology, can be performed to heat up target areas in order to increase collagen production and produce healthier skin.
Another popular treatment for smile wrinkles and crow's feet is to use a dermal filler. Dermal fillers (containing different variations of collagen) are injected into the wrinkled area to fill the depression. Botox® can also be used to deactivate the muscles that cause wrinkles, but it does not heal damaged skin.
Stretch Marks. No one likes them, but most people get them. Fortunately, they are a cosmetic concern more than a medical one. These unsightly scars created by broken collagen occur predominantly in areas of the body that are affected by pregnancy, weight gain, and muscle growth. Women are more likely to experience them on their stomachs, thighs, breasts, and buttocks, while men find them mostly on their abdomens, upper arms, and shoulders. Obviously, pregnancy is the leading cause for stretch marks among women. Children can also develop them during a rapid growth spurt.
Unfortunately, if you want to become pregnant, or build muscle, chances are you will see stretch marks as a result. The best advice is to maintain a healthy, stable diet and exercise regimen to avoid drastic changes in your body shape. Look for food or supplements rich in zinc; vitamins A, E, and C; and essential fatty acids to boost collagen formation and help build cell walls.
$ - The most inexpensive option is Tretinoin cream, but it can only be obtained with a doctor's prescription. This cream is used to treat many types of skin problems, and can be effective on stretch marks that are less than 6 weeks old. Tretinoin helps to rebuild collagen in the affected area, and diminish the pink or red appearance so that it blends in with the natural color of your skin. Tretinoin cream should never be used during pregnancy.
$$ - The intermediate cost option is microdermabrasion, which blasts your skin with tiny crystals in the hopes of stimulating new cell growth.
$$$ - The most expensive remedy is various laser treatments including pulsed-dye laser treatment, and fractal photothermolysis, both of which are used to stimulate collagen and elastin growth in different ways. An excimer laser can be used on older scars to stimulate melanin production.
It's important to realize that no matter how much money you spend, none of these treatments are 100 percent effective because stretch marks create a permanent change in the dermis layer of your skin. At best, laser treatments can reduce the depth of immature (red) marks by no more than 50 percent.
Loose Skin. If you've undergone significant weight loss, you more than likely have some loose skin that hangs and sags. This is because the skin has stretched to hold in all the excess weight, and is unable to tighten again once that weight disappears. The loss of 50 pounds or more from your body is generally the point at which loose skin is going to be a problem. Skin also loses its elasticity the older we get, so the longer you wait to shed those pounds, the worse the problem will be afterwards.
If possible, lose weight gradually, at a stable rate of 1 to 2 pounds a week over a number of weeks, giving your skin time to adjust and regain its elasticity. Sometimes, though, this is impossible, especially if you've undergone a surgical procedure such as the lap band treatment. In either case, it is always helpful to build muscle mass while losing the weight to significantly aid in the prevention of loose skin. Exfoliating your skin after a shower also helps circulation and cell rejuvenation.
Over time, your skin will regain some of its elasticity, but the rate at which that occurs also depends a lot on genetics, which is obviously out of your control.
$ - Some people claim that yeast and aloe vera extracts or soy protein products will assist in tightening the skin and boosting collagen production, but these methods have not been medically verified. Bodybuilders also use a product called Thiomuplex cream to temporarily tighten skin in affected areas.
$$$ - A significant amount of weight loss will undoubtedly leave you with pockets of loose skin that won't go away no matter how much cream you use or how many supplements you take. In these cases, you might consider a body-contouring procedure. While these procedures can't be considered cheap, the price range has definitely decreased in recent years, and medical technology has advanced by leaps and bounds in this field due to the increased demand for very specific plastic surgery procedures. Depending on the severity of your problem, you may even be able to use noninvasive laser treatment or something similar to alleviate the issue. Only a doctor will be able to tell you what procedures might work for you.
Acne. Contrary to popular belief, teenagers are not the only ones who get acne. This is because hormones play a part in its formation, leaving pregnant women, among other adults, also susceptible. The hormonal nature helps explain the connection between acne and emotions. Without going into gory detail, a breakdown of the different types of mild acne symptoms and their causes can be found here. Moderate and severe types of acne such as cystic acne will require a visit to the doctor.
The buildup of oil and bacteria on your skin and the irregular shedding of dead skin cells are the primary physical causes of acne, so it is important to lightly wash your skin twice daily using water-based cleansers to eliminate excess oil. Do not confuse oil with dirt, however. Dirt does not cause acne, and hard scrubbing of your skin is actually counterproductive. Studies are still being done to confirm whether starchy foods contribute to the formation of acne, but don't believe the hype about chocolate. More than likely, it's the hormones causing you to eat the candy bar that are the real cause.
Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid products, which can be found in most drug stores, help open pores and dry up blemishes. Don't overuse these products, though, because you might end up damaging your skin more than when you started. If your acne keeps recurring and is present on more than one area of your body, see a doctor to discuss your medical options to avoid possible scarring.
Fortunately, most of the issues related to your skin are easily treatable and cosmetic in nature. But it's the first layer of defense against an entire universe of bad guys, so be sure to give it all the attention and help it needs to keep your flag flying high.
Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development, who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards, Steve Edwards, on Wednesday, April 14th, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT. Go to the Beachbody Chat Room.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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parabens. What's the Hype?
Okay, so reading the full ingredient lists on the back of products isn't the most fun thing to do while standing in the drugstore aisle. But sometimes what's not in your skin care products is as important as what's in them. Many items, including makeup, moisturizers, hair care, and even shaving products can contain parabens, the most widely used preservatives in cosmetics.
Click here to read the full article to find out more!
Test Your Beachbody® Trainer IQ!By D. V. Donatelli
Beachbody's celebrity trainers have a wonderful wealth of knowledge about fitness, nutrition, and how to get us into the best shape of our lives, but what else are they into? What's behind that statuesque physicality? Seeking to get a better understanding of the human depths of these inspirational exercisers, we asked four of our top trainers this question: "If you could teach a college class that wasn't about fitness or nutrition, what would you want to teach?" See if you can match the trainer with the answer he or she provided.
- Brett Hoebel - Physics. That's right—the creator of RevAbs™ has great interest in one of humanity's oldest and most challenging intellectual pursuits. Hoebel explained, "[It is] one of my favorite classes, and now I know how to apply it to real-life things, like fitness, so that it's easier to understand!" Perhaps I could use a few lessons from Mr. Hoebel's class, because I had a huge crush on an astrophysicist once but she wouldn't give me the spacetime of day.
- Shaun T - Communications. I loved INSANITY® creator Shaun T's answer, so here it is in full: "If I were able to teach a college course, it would have to be a communications course—specifically TV broadcasting—only because I originally started my college career as a communications major, and it was, and still is, my dream to do what Anderson Cooper does!" Shaun's got charisma, and he can communicate—I know this for a fact because I've come to employ his "Tilt, Tuck & Tighten" technique in virtually everything I do, from skateboarding to paying taxes—so I wish Shaun all the luck in the world in his dream of hosting the first two seasons of the underrated reality TV show The Mole.
- Debbie Siebers - Art/Drawing. The Slim in 6® guru Debbie has stopped by Beachbody® Headquarters a number of times, and on each visit she's always exhibited a certain style about her. It's clear the woman knows aesthetics, and she herself is a work of art, so this answer is not surprising. What I found surprising, however, was that she, an artist, wasn't flattered or impressed when I cut off my ear and sent it to her. Everyone's a critic!
- Chalene Johnson - Justice, Morality, and Constitutional Democracy. No offense to the others, but this is my favorite answer. Why? Because now I can't stop picturing Chalene, whose Turbo Jam® workouts are so punch- and kick-heavy, naming her left fist "Justice," her right fist "Morality," and her plant leg, upon which the whole dynamic system is based, "Constitutional Democracy." Hi-ya!
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