I think everyone knows that too much stress makes you feel bad. Many physical ailments such as headaches, tiredness and muscle tension/pain can be caused by stress. Did you know that repeated increased levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, can also cause weight gain? It can also cause depression, anxiety and irritability. It is important to keep your stress levels in check for both your physical and mental health.
My favorite stress buster is a workout. Between bumping up your body's production of endorphins (the brain's feel good neurotransmitters), serving as a form of mediation as well as all the other benefits of exercise (i.e. improved self confidence, improved sleep), any type of workout is a great way to manage stress.
Here are links to more tips on how to de-stress.
American Heart Association
The Chopra Center
The Huffington Post
Food is fuel for your body so you want to be sure you are giving it what it needs to optimize your workout and your overall health. Without enough quality fuel, your metabolism gets the message it needs to slow down to preserve what calories you do have left in your body (storing all and any fat), or if all of your glycogen stores are depleted, your body may try to eat away at your muscles when it runs on empty. This can be bad for your blood sugar, your muscles and ruin your performance.
Fueling for (and recovering from) exercise matters most when you are performing a longer and more intense workout. No matter what you are doing, though, you want to make sure to eat any small snacks at least 20 - 30 minutes pre-workout, which leaves time for digestion. Keep any bigger meals to at least two hours before your workout.
Before Your Workout: If you are eating an hour or two before a workout, make sure to eat a small amount of something easily digestible. Try to stay away from anything with too much fiber as it takes a long time to digest and may cause stomach upset. Carbs are important and depending on your workout you may want to add in some protein to stave off hunger as well. Some examples; half a banana, some greek yogurt, half of a fruit and nut bar like a Larabar, or almond butter on a piece of whole grain toast.
After Your Workout: Again, it depends on how long you exercised and what you did as to what to eat when you are done. If your workout is under an hour and not especially intense, no post workout snack or meal is necessary. I know when I plan to run for 30 or 40 minutes, I love to run mid morning right in between breakfast and lunch, no special snacking required. If you had a more lengthy workout and/or did any strength training, be sure to eat a little something with carbs and protein after. Some examples, cottage cheese and peaches, Triscuits and cheese, almond or natural peanut butter on whole grain bread, or a handful of almonds and fruit. Just don't overdo it!
Experiment with your pre and post workout meals and snacks. Find what works best for you!
Here are some interesting things I've read on the inter webs recently.
How the Sugar Industry Shifted Blame to Fat - The NY Times Documents published in a medical journal reveal the sugar industry paid scientists to downplay the effect of sugar on your health. Decades ago, research showed the link of sugary diets with the high rate of heart disease in our country. In 1967 the sugar industry paid researchers to publish findings that would shift the blame to fats. We all started eating low fat everything that was loaded with extra sugar to make up for the lack of fats and now we have more heart disease and obesity than ever. Heart Disease is the number one killer in America and newer research shows that both sugar and fat are to blame for the country's health issues.
Stability Ball Total Body Workout - The Fitnessista I can't wait to try this circuit!
How to treat Runner's Knee Pain - Popsugar Great advice on what to do if you are suffering from knee pain.
5 things to look for in a personal trainer - CNN Good things to keep in mind when choosing a trainer.
When I don't have much time for a workout, I'll do a quick circuit to get my heart rate up. This is a typical one I might do, you can adjust the number of each move based on your fitness level. If you have time, you can repeat this circuit as many times as possible with a minute or two of rest in between each.
No excuses, this circuit doesn't take long at all, doesn't require any equipment, can be done anywhere and is modifiable based on your body and your time available. With no rest in between moves, this circuit will take you just under 3 minutes! Rest for 2 minutes in between circuits and complete 4 times for an awesome 20 minute workout.