#424 9/8/2010 FIGHTING THE FRESHMAN 15

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I'm not overweight. I'm just nine inches too short.

Shelley Winters

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Watch Out! The Freshman 15 Isn't Just for Freshmen

By Steve Edwards

Back-to-school time doesn't just affect students. It's the time of year when everything changes—for everyone. The days shorten, it cools off, we get really busy, and the holidays are looming around the corner. As opposed to those frivolous days of summer, your schedule is now probably booked. In short, it's the easiest time of the year to let your health slide.

Young Woman Looking at a Fit Body

This is when it's important to remember that the "freshman 15" isn't just for freshmen. All of us—students or not—face these seasonal lifestyle adjustments, and the lapses in fitness and healthy diet that accompany them, every year. Autumn is beautiful, but it's also the toughest season to transition through. Here are 10 ways to make it to New Year's without having to make a resolution to spend all or part of next year fixing what went off the rails during the fall.

  1. Schedule your exercise. One of the most difficult adjustments to make during the fall is getting used to less daylight. As the days shorten, it seems as though you've got fewer hours during which to schedule your activities. When you come home from work in the dark, it hurts your psyche. And it's tough to believe that 7:00 PM is really no different than it was during July, when you still had 2 hours of daylight left. Then there's the cold factor. Even if you work out indoors, it's so much easier to get back under your warm covers or bundle up and sit in front of a fire or the TV than it is to force a workout. Just remember that exercising makes you warm. It also keeps you fit and healthy and is the best thing you can do with cold and flu season right around the corner. Schedule your daily workout like it's part of your job, and stick to it.
  2. Man SleepingSchedule your sleep. As our days get busier, we tend to push projects later and later into the evening. To fuel those longer hours, we eat . . . and eat. This is one major cause of the freshman 15: the infamous all-nighter. A recent study showed that when doctors are doing their residencies and are forced to work extremely long hours, famously foregoing sleep in the process, they gain an average of more than 20 pounds. As available daylight decreases, it's common to find yourself making alterations in your daily schedule, with sleep often losing out, so schedule your sleep just like you do your work and exercise.
  3. Plan your meals. Plan your weekly meals ahead of time so you don't resort to unhealthy "convenience" foods. If your schedule is insane during the week, try taking an hour or two on Sunday to shop and strategize. Put healthy meal and snack options in your car, your office, your backpack, or anywhere you're likely to find yourself hungry. Trust me, the energy you get on the back end of this planning will far exceed the time it takes to plan, especially when you consider how you'll feel if your diet is fueled by fast food.
  4. Carry water everywhere. When we're busy, we'll often forget to drink water, especially as the weather cools off. Then, in a dehydrated state, we often confuse thirst for hunger and eat. Avoid this by ensuring that there's water everywhere you go. Carry a water bottle and refill it at every opportunity. Have an extra bottle in your car, your backpack, at your desk, etc., and behave as if you're in a race each day. Force yourself to drink a glass of water every hour that you're working or studying.
  5. Be realistic about alcohol. Another big contributor to the freshman 15, alcohol, is very high in calories (7 calories/gram) and very low in nutritional value. Every drink you consume is about 200 calories of nutrition that you aren't getting from your diet, or that you're consuming additional calories—overeating—to replace. And this is before we consider the calories you need to consume getting rid of a hangover. If you're a drinker, you'll never be faced with more temptation than during the fall. So plan for it. Prior to going out, consider the number of drinks you want to allow yourself and stick to it. Another helpful tip is to carry that water bottle with you socially as well and drink a bottle for every cocktail you have. This will help fill you up so you aren't drinking alcohol to quench your thirst, which happens often at social events. Drinking that water will also keep you hydrated and minimize the effects of your hangover. One other helpful hangover cure is to have a glass of P90X Results and Recovery Formula® at night after you've been drinking. Consuming these calories right before bed may be not be ideal, but it'll minimize the damage the alcohol will do to your body, which should lead to less overeating and more productivity the next day.
  6. Plan for parties. Parties happen—and there's not much you can do about it. Even if you aren't social, the party will find you. Many offices are like the one in that Seinfeld episode where the coworkers find any excuse to celebrate, usually with cake or other sugary treats. And with fall comes many such opportunities to indulge. Beginning with Oktoberfest, you'll find a never-ending string of perfectly good excuses to ruin your health that last right through New Year's. Plan ahead and decide just which occasions will be worth the indulgence. That way, you'll be fully armed with reasons when your coworkers show up in your office singing, "Get well, get well soon . . ."
  7. Begin a morning ritual. One of the easiest ways to live a healthy lifestyle is to begin each day by doing something positive. During the summer, we often let this slide because, well, we can. With long warm days to look forward to, there always seems to be time to do something energetic. As the days shorten, making the effort to be healthier takes more discipline. Beginning each day with something healthy, even something as brief as a 5-minute ritual (See "Good Day Sunshine" in the Related Articles section below) of breathing deeply, stretching, and thinking about positive things you want to accomplish with your day, can give you a whole new outlook.
  8. Find a healthy nighttime ritual. Many of us undo an entire day's productivity in the last few hours before bed. This is particularly true when we're busy and/or stressed because we want to unwind, which often means cocktails and/or desserts in front of the TV. If you can find a healthier way to unwind, you'll do yourself a world of good. And even if you can't get away from the cocktail/dessert/TV habit, adding something at its end, instead of just sacking out, can reverse much of the damage. Stretching in front of the TV is one of the easiest ways to make that transition. Following up your stretching with herbal tea and some relaxing reading can have you hitting the sack with a much more positive attitude. Another way to help yourself get in that positive ready-for-bed headspace? Yoga Booty Ballet® Master Series Pajama Time or the Yoga Booty Ballet Relax and Unwind bedtime meditation CD, both of which are designed with end-of-day relaxation in mind.
  9. Woman Writing in a JournalMake a positive New Year's resolution now. Instead of waiting until New Year's to undo and repair the damage caused by a fall-into-winter slide away from your fitness goals, make a resolution to get there, starting today, with improved fitness and health. Just think about how much better your goals can be for next year if you finish this year on a positive note. Why put yourself through the work of digging yourself out of a hole you make deeper from now through the end of the year? Instead, set yourself up, beginning right now, to have a banner New Year.
  10. Cut yourself some slack. You can't be perfect, and, frankly, who wants to be? You've got to live. By planning ahead with goals in mind, you'll be far more able to relax about the holiday season, and maybe even enjoy it a little, too. So make a plan and do your best to stick with it, but don't forget to make enjoying the season and having some fun part of that plan.

Mastering portion control will give you more control over your body and your life. Whether you're at a restaurant, at home, at work, or at a party, there's no excuse. You have the power to set yourself up for success. Being mindful of your portions will help you feel better right after each meal, which will help you manage your weight more effectively. You'll learn how to enjoy your favorite foods, boost your health, and even save some cash by eating less. Now isn't that worth a little bit of effort and planning ahead?

Related Articles
"Good Day Sunshine"
"20 Secrets of Very Fit People"
"Is It Time to Eat?"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet Steve Edwardsdevelopment, who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards, Steve Edwards, on Monday, September 13th, 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 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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5 Cheap and Cheerful Ways to Stay Fit While Dating

By Omar Shamout

While dating is technically supposed to be fun, in reality, it's kinda hard work. In the early phases, the stress of waiting for phone calls, the anxiety over what to wear or how to do your hair, the tension of awkward silences during the calamari appetizer—all can be brutal on the ol' ticker. Later on, trying to find fresh ways to keep the bloom of love alive can often seem like equally hard work. Plus all that wining and dining can be your wallet's worst enemy, not to mention your waistline's. With all this in mind, we'd like to suggest a few fun, healthy—and inexpensive—ways to incorporate fitness into your efforts at romance, whether with someone new you're trying to woo, or someone with whom you'd like to continually keep rekindling the fires of desire.

Man and Woman

  1. The Sand-in-the-Toes Date. Yup, everyone's favorite romantic cliché is actually quite good exercise. Since we're used to wearing shoes, we generally don't engage most of the muscles in our feet for everyday use. Walking barefoot on sand will force you to use all the muscles in your feet, making it a surprisingly challenging workout that'll help prevent injuries in other activities. (And if you want to take things up a notch, running on sand burns 30 percent more calories than running on pavement does. Start out on wet sand—it'll help better acclimate your feet to the surface.) So after you've had your lovely candlelit dinner, you can walk off that dessert on the beach. If you get tired, stop, sit under the moon, listen to the waves and, well . . . you get the picture.
  2. The Check-out-Your-Town-on-Foot Date. Now that you've built up those foot muscles, use them to explore your city! Be it New York, where commuting on foot is a given, or Los Angeles, where walking is practically verboten, there are a plethora of walking tours designed to cater to a variety of different interests—gastronomic, historical, and everything in between. Whether you live in a sprawling metropolis or in Smalltown, USA, in this virtual age, it's important to remember that we live in actual physical spaces, each with a story all its own.
  3. The Great Outdoors Date. Next time you feel the urge for a romantic weekend getaway, consider sleeping under the stars instead of under the roof of a five-star resort. Sure, we all love room service, but sometimes it takes the vastness of wide-open spaces to create true intimacy. Guys, go from ordinary Joe to knight in shining armor as you protect your lady from lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!). Gals, impress your beau with some dazzling tree-climbing skills, or with your ability to start a fire with a couple of sticks. Resourcefulness is very sexy!
  4. The Nine-Hole Date. Not only is walking (no cart, please!) nine or 18 holes of golf great cardio, it's also a good way to add some competitive spirit to a relationship. Public courses won't overtax your bank account, and you can usually rent clubs for a reasonable price, too. If the prospect of an actual round of golf seems too daunting, a driving range is also a great way to have some fun while being active. If things are a little tense between you and your significant other, it might actually be therapeutic! And if even a driving range seems beyond your skill set, there's always mini-golf. You heard it here first: chasing a ball down before it enters the wrong windmill door and falls in the moat counts as exercise.
  5. Couple on the BeachThe Water Date. It's the end of summer, and chances are it's still pretty warm where you live. Too hot for a lot of clothes. So why not take your P90X®-toned bodies down to the local watering hole and go for a swim? It's a great full-body, low-impact cardio workout that's easy on the joints. Because you use more muscles 'n' limbs to move your body when you swim, you'll also be burning more calories. If you live near a beach, lake, or river, make a whole day of it and lounge on the shore as you discover new ways to get sand in places you didn't think it was possible for sand to even go. If you're feeling extra-festive, bring a portable BBQ and grill up some lean protein (ideally fish, maybe even fish you caught yourself!) and a few fresh veggies. Exercise and heart-healthy food—they just seem to go together, don't they?

If you put your mind to it, there are countless ways to have fun-filled adventures with your loved (or soon-to-be-loved, if you play your cards right) one that are good for your body, easy on your wallet, and conducive to helping you learn about each other in a setting that's slightly more imaginative than a dinner table or a movie theater. And from a wooing perspective, the further outside the box you think, the more it'll seem like you're really trying to make your time together special, which is never a bad thing. So give these suggestions a try, or use them as springboards for something that works better for you and the object of your affections. Remember, fitness can have a place in all aspects of your life—including your love life!

Related Articles
"9 Aphrodisiacs to Heat Up Your Love Life"
"Unsupportive Partners: 7 Ways to Placate Your Mate When They Don't Feel Great about You Losing Weight"
"Can Your Friends Make You Fat?"

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 Monday, September 13th, 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 mailbag@beachbody.com.

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How to Fit Beauty into Real Life: Your Questions Answered

Marina Randolph

If you find yourself skimping on applying makeup because you're short on time and putting off spa treatments because you can't afford them, you've come to the right place. Keep reading to find out how to save time and money with these affordable at-home beauty treatments and tips.

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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