Author Archives: Lisa

Get Your Mind Behind Your Fitness and Weight Loss Goals

Retrain your brain to support your fitness and weight loss goals.

If you’ve always had a tough time sticking with a fitness workout program, it’s probably your mind that’s standing in your way. Many people make a New Year’s resolution, join a gym or start running outdoors at the first sign of spring with every intention to lose weight and get fit. They start out strong but, as time drags on, their resolve wanes and within a few months many quit altogether. According to PT Direct, just under half of the people who join a gym as part of a New Year’s resolution quit within the first six months only to start the cycle over again the following year, or whenever they get a wild hair to “do something” about their physical condition. Only this time, they weigh more and are in worse shape.

 

When it comes to losing weight and getting fit, the workout is the easy part.

You may not immediately see the connection to your mind but consider that even if you stumble across the best workouts to lose weight, knowing what to do isn’t enough to get you into shape. You have to actually do the workout consistently. However, once your workout motivation has lost steam, even a team of wild horses couldn’t drag you into the gym and make you work out. That’s where mentally preparing comes in, whether it’s for weight loss workouts, bodybuilding workouts or any fitness workout program. Knowing what you’re going to do and why accounts for 90 percent of the workout. Physically doing the workout is actually the easiest part.

Start With Why

Write down ALL the benefits you’ll get from your workout. List your personal goals, but also include all of the extra rewards you’ll reap.

Having a plan for your workout is vital, but even before you hit the gym or the greenbelt or turn on the kickboxing DVD, you need to be aware of why you’re doing it all. If you have no reason, there’s no motivation, right? Review the positive things you’ll get from working out. Don’t just focus on your specific goal, such as gaining muscle or a desire to lose weight. Of course those benefits are important, but take a look at the big picture and all of the bonus bennies such as improved fitness, lower blood pressure and blood sugar, increased energy, and better heart health. It’s like getting several gifts with purchase: you start a workout and weight loss program for one reason and reap a boatload of  extra rewards. Write it all down and tape it to your mirror, paint it on the wall, or embroider it on a pillow. That way, you can refer to it before each workout or, at the very least, whenever your resolve starts to dissolve.

Now Comes the How

By applying the technique in the Harvard study to your workouts, imagine the results you’ll get!

This part is probably more involved than you’d like it to be, at first, anyway. After you’ve disciplined yourself to stick with your fitness workout program long-term, you won’t have to rely on it as often. Once you know the big “why” of your fitness program, then you set your goals and plan your workouts. Don’t roll your eyes, especially if you’re one of the on-again-off-again worker-outers. Setting goals is useful, but writing them down borders on magical. Need the proof? An article in Forbes outlines a study in which Harvard MBA students were asked about their goals and if they had them written down. The majority, 84 percent, had no goals; 13 percent had specific goals in mind but hadn’t written them down; 3 percent had their goals in mind and on paper. Fast forward 10 years, and the results are mind-blowing:

  • The small percentage of the class who had goals but hadn’t written them down was earning double the income of the majority who had no goals at all.
  • The tiny 3 percent who took the time to write out their goals was averaging 10 times the earnings of the entire rest of the class — and that includes the 13 percent who had goals and were doing fairly well themselves.

So! If writing down your long term and short term weight loss goals is the key to success — and in spades! — then it’s well worth it to spend the timing doing it.

Start with the long-term goal, where you want to be in a year, then set smaller goals for 6 months, 3 months, 1 month, next week. Next, write out your workout routine. Set it down on notebook paper or create a chart on the computer. Just get it down in print, so you have a plan to stick to. Each day, only consider what you’re going to do that day, whether it’s running a mile, working your upper body in the weight room, or attending a TargitFit class. Tackling your workouts and your goals one at a time keeps them manageable.

Focus, Focus, Focus

You don’t have to reach a full meditative state, but clearing your mind and focusing on your workout will improve your results.

Focus is vital for your workout and having a written plan for each workout helps. However, the importance of maintaining that focus and tuning out distractions while working out can’t be overstated. If your mind isn’t on the workout, your heart won’t be in the workout. Author and fitness expert Drew Baye recommends having a pre-workout ritual for quieting your mind, visualizing the exercises and activating your workout mindset. For just a few minutes, sit quietly (preferably alone and in a place with no distractions) and close your eyes. Breathe deeply, concentrating on nothing more than the breath entering and leaving your body. After about 10 breaths, start reviewing in your mind the exercises you’re going to perform, how much weight you’ll use and how many sets and reps you’ll do. Mentally move from one exercise to the next until you’ve gone through the entire routine. Baye’s technique for activating his workout mindset is to repeat three motivating phrases. You can pick one or two, and they don’t have to be the same as Drew’s.

“You know what you can do, do what you can’t.”

“Give it everything you got.”

“Train serious, train hard.”

Whether you use a well-known motto or one you made up on your own, if it means something to you, it will effectively get you through the workout. Plus, sometimes, it will push you past what you thought were your barriers.

You really are capable of increasing muscle mass or losing however many pounds you want to. In the end, though, no one else can do it for you. So, take control over your mind and get it working for you instead of against you.

How Alcohol Affects Your Workout

Even fitness-conscious people like to indulge in a happy hour now and then but, if you’re serious about building muscle or burning fat, those two-for-one well drinks will get in the way of your goals, not to mention all the holiday cheer at Christmas and New Years parties this time of year. While we’d like to tell you that boozing it up won’t affect your health and fitness goals, that would be a lie. Your body won’t perform optimally, and your workout attitude might not be in top form, either. That’s not to say that you should quit drinking altogether, but consider strategizing how and when you imbibe this holiday season.

Interferes With Muscle Building

Alcohol interferes with your body’s ability to synthesize protein and build muscle.

In order to build muscle, your body has to synthesize protein. Unfortunately, alcohol consumption has shown to mess that process up. In a study published on PLOS.org, researchers found that drinking reduced the rates of myofibrillar protein synthesis, even when subjects ate extra protein before and/or after working out. That means eating more protein to try to encourage muscle building can’t overcome the way alcohol negatively affects muscle building.

Fogs Your Brain

The American Addiction Centers offers a short list of the ways the brain of even an occasional or moderate drinker can be affected by alcohol including short-term memory loss, impaired decision-making, and possible blackouts. While you might not feel drunk the day after, there’s no telling how long the effects of the night before will last. It’s different for everyone and depends on things like how much you drank, how often you drink in general, your age, your family history, your health, and more. That’s why you might not be able to work up the enthusiasm for a workout the day after partying it up.

Obstructs Recovery

A snootful may make you drowsy but it interferes with regenerative, restful sleep vital for building muscle and weight loss.

Everyone knows that muscle building takes place outside of the gym–when you’re resting and not working out. The problem is that, even though a few glasses of wine or a beer or two might relax you, they don’t promote deep, restorative sleep. On top of that, the American Council on Exercise points out that alcohol consumption also strains your immune system, another vital link in the health chain that’s essential for building muscle.

Hinders Hydration

Alcohol draws water out of your cells, so you’ll need to drink more water to replenish your body for a workout.

Alcohol acts as a diuretic, encouraging your body to flush fluids. You need those fluids, though, especially if you’re hitting the gym for an intense cardio or resistance workout. Plus, according to Women’s Health, drinking can also interfere with nutrient absorption as it irritates the lining of your stomach. That means even if you eat healthily and clean the day after drinking, your body still won’t get everything it needs to build muscle.

Derails Fat Loss

Alcohol itself carries extra calories that your body will burn before it uses other types of fuel. Plus, drinking usually comes with a side of extra food.

When you’re counting calories, drinking alcohol will send your daily tally through the roof. Mens’ Fitness says that a typical drink has roughly 100 to 165 calories, but that’s not including mixed drinks that are made with sugar-packed fruit juices or pre-made mixers. Plus, how many holiday revelers stop with one drink? What’s more, alcohol relaxes your inhibitions, so you’re likely to eat more and worry about it less, another way your diet gets derailed when you drink.

The Balancing Act

Hit the gym first before joining friends for some holiday cheer.

There’s nothing wrong with drinking as long as you do it in moderation and time it with your workouts. In fact, alcohol can actually be beneficial to your health. Still, folks who are fond of the drink need to find a way to have their beer and drink it too. Muscle and Fitness advises starting with keeping antioxidants up to safeguard your liver by supplementing with N-acetyl cysteine. You can also improve muscle building after a day of drinking by taking leucine. Alcohol tends to cancel the effects of this BCA, so taking extra the day after will help. Also, back to the research that showed alcohol consumption reduces protein synthesis, remember that particular effect occurs during the 24 hours after you’ve had your drinks. That means it’s better to exercise before hitting holiday parties on the same night rather than partying or heading to the bar the evening after you’ve worked out.

7 Tips for Eating Healthy in Recovery

This week, Targitfit is pleased to bring you an informative health article by Lily Brooks:

Eating healthy can make all the difference for a healthy and successful recovery.

Diet and exercise affect many health issues. Eating right and working out are essential for keeping your body healthy and changing those habits can make all the difference in how well you respond to illness and disease. That’s especially true for someone recovering from substance abuse. It’s not easy being in recovery. It takes a lot of willpower to avoid the bad substances you crave. Putting your focus on exercise and eating right can help make sure you stay on the right path toward health and wellness.

  1. Hydrate

Any expert would tell you that hydration is one key factor in your journey toward health, especially when you’re in detox and recovery. It is highly recommended that you drink around half an ounce to an ounce of water for each pound of body weight. But you’re not limited to just drinking water, there are other sources of liquid that are almost as beneficial as water. You can make infused water by adding fruits and herbs to a pitcher of water and refrigerating it for a few hours.

  1. Eat your veggies and fruits

It is recommended that you fill half your plate with vegetables and fruits at each meal. This advice applies to everyone but more so for people in recovery. Fruits, particularly citrus fruits are rich in antioxidants which helps to increase your immunity against diseases. Green, leafy vegetables such as kale, romaine, and spinach help to rid the body of toxins and also help it to detoxify the liver from harmful toxins created as a byproduct of metabolism.

  1. Go for whole grains

Whole grains contain the endosperm, germ, and bran which are normally removed from grains during refinement. These parts contain a lot of nutrients including insoluble fiber which helps control appetite and promote digestion. Examples of whole grains include brown rice, oatmeal, and wheat bread. Other less common sources of whole grains include quinoa, millet, and buckwheat.

  1. Wild salmon for protein

Protein is essential for those recovering from substance abuse as it helps repair damaged cells. Wild salmon is exceptionally rich in protein and it also contains omega-3 fatty acid which has natural anti-inflammatory properties. Salmon can be broiled, baked, or grilled and served with a side of vegetables or brown rice.

 

  1. Seeds and nuts for snacks

Throughout the day, getting hungry in between meal times can’t be helped, especially when we are in treatment centers. No matter how conscious we might be about the food that we eat during mealtime, the temptation snack on junk is real and very strong. Turning to nuts and seeds for snacks is not only a healthier option but also affords us protein that we need to help repair our bodies and help regulate our blood sugar levels. It also helps to keep our mood stable throughout the day.

  1. Avoid fast foods, sugar, and caffeine

When we are in recovery, the most common mistake that people make when it comes to their nutrition is turning to fast foods and sugary food to replace their addiction. Treatment centers like The Beaches Rehab Center try to mitigate this unhealthy compulsion by encouraging people to turn to other constructive ways such as art and fitness. Fast foods are considered junk and don’t actually offer that much nutritional value other than empty calories. They are also packed with processed ingredients that only help to reverse the hard work that many recovering patients have worked so hard to achieve.

  1. Start a food journal

 

You might be surprised how much junk and bad food we eat throughout the day, especially if we don’t keep proper track. The same goes for those in recovery, which is keeping a food journal is helpful. Such a detailed account of what we eat allows us to immediately see a pattern of unhealthy food choices that we can learn to avoid in the future.

 

Lily Brooks is an avid blogger. She writes about a variety of topics including health, science, and literature. She is currently working with The Beaches Rehab Center, a fully accredited & licensed Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Center.

Ditch the Diet for Thanksgiving

The standard advice this time of year usually centers around ways to enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving meal while sticking to your diet. Included in the suggestions are the usual substitution recommendations and instructions to share one serving of dessert between four people. As if! Finally, here is the Thanksgiving dieting advice you’ve always wanted to hear: don’t sweat the diet on Thanksgiving Day. Make it your cheat day for the week. That takes the pressure off so you can enjoy the holiday for once.

Cheat Day Wisdom

Most diets fail because it doesn’t take long before you start feeling deprived. That can lead to bingeing on portions and restricted foods and once that happens, the next step is throwing your hands up in defeat and giving up on your health and weight loss goals. That is why most experts recommend allowing yourself at least one cheat day per week. WebMD says cheat days actually boost the likelihood of successful weight loss with a diet. If you know you have a day coming up when you don’t have to measure portions, count calories, or say no to the punkin cheesecake, it’s easier to do all those things the other six days of the week. Plus, many diets can throw your system out of whack. According to Muscle and Fitness, essential things like leptin, thyroid hormones, and something called Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF)–all essential for losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight–decline when you’re limiting dietary elements such as fat. However, indulging occasionally can get those levels back to normal.

No Regrets, No Guilt

Pass the turkey and help yourself to all the other tasty Thanksgiving treats without guilting yourself.

Possibly the best thing about considering Thanksgiving a cheat day is the mental block it busts through. As an official, “legal” day of indulgence, you won’t feel guilty about every little bite you take. You can legitimately enjoy the mashed potatoes and gravy and have an entire slice of pumpkin pie all to yourself. It’s your cheat day, so WomensHealth says avoid the guilt trip. Eat what you want, reveling in and savoring every last bite, lick your lips, and go back to counting calories and limiting your carbs on Friday.

Be Reasonable

You don’t need to over-load your plate to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner.

OK, there is one caveat to this long-awaited advice, and that is that although you can throw away the guidelines and limits for a day, you really do need to be reasonable. A cheat day isn’t a license to eat yourself into a food coma. The goal is to treat yourself, not try to eat a years-worth of calories in one sitting. Don’t eat just for the sake of eating. Don’t load up your plate with double the amount of everything just because it’s your cheat day. Take a deep breath, really see all the food set before you, and remember that, no matter how good it all tastes, your body is only capable of holding so much. Overeating on this wonderful, food-centered holiday won’t do any permanent damage to your dieting aspirations, but it will make you miserable. Eat what you want, but take your time doing it so you can really enjoy the flavors. Taking your time will also give your brain a chance to recognize when you’re full, so you can stop eating before you have to unbuckle your belt or slip into Phoebe’s old maternity pants. And give thanks that you live in a country where food is so abundant that weight is actually an issue.

Eat, drink, and be merry–and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

I Don’t Have Time to Workout!

No time to exercise? There’s always a way to work in a workout.

As busy as life is, even the most dedicated fitness fans will sometimes come up against such a full day that there just really aren’t enough hours in to include working out. Exercise shouldn’t be all-or-nothing so when those days hit, it’s useful to already have a Plan B in place and a mindset that is flexible enough to accommodate alternative ways to get exercise. When you realize that your scheduled workout simply isn’t going to happen, there are small adjustments you can make throughout the day and even a few easy tricks you can use to get your move on, so to speak, so you don’t lose out on the benefits of exercising. 

Multitasking Sneaks Exercise Into Your Day

Waiting in line? Don’t just stand there–get those legs movin’!

Everyone has heard the advice to take the stairs instead of the elevator as a way to get more exercise, so we won’t even go there. Instead, let’s look at how your talent for multitasking can be used to incorporate a workout into your already over-scheduled schedule. Cosmopolitan recommends the genius idea of using your handbag (or briefcase or backpack) as a dumbbell to do biceps curls while you walk or even while you’re waiting in line. And speaking of waiting in line, use that time to march in place, do calf raises, or glute tensing and flexing exercises. Who cares what that would look like? No one is paying attention to anything other than their mobile phones, anyway. Also, you can work your abs anytime, anywhere by concentrating on pulling your bellybutton toward your backbone. Try it. Do it now. Do it right now.  

Fitness pros advocate multitasking workout ideas such as doing wall pushups whenever you get a phone call and standing instead of sitting during your workday. According to LIVESTRONG, standing can burn up to 50 calories more per hour than sitting, and that can add up over an 8 hour day. It might be worth it to switch over to a standing-height desk to boost your calorie burn anytime, rather than only standing to work when you know you aren’t going to be able to exercise. 

Do You Have a Few Minutes?

Since time is the issue, it might stress you out more than help to do things like park your car a distance from your office or taking the long way around the park on the way to work. If you can manage to do things that require extra walking, though, you can count it all as exercise, even if it’s speed-walking to the bathroom at the other end of the building.  

Mountain climbers, jumping jacks, lunges, and pushups are great exercises for a quick and effective AMRAP workout. Image via Evolve Fitness & Health/YouTube

If you do have 10 minutes or more, however, you really do have time for an actual workout. Choose four or five bodyweight exercises and perform an AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) workout. For example, if you pick squats, lunges, pushups, and jumping jacks, set a timer for 2 minutes and do as many reps as you can of each exercise for 30 seconds each, then take a 20-second break before doing another 2 minutes. Going through that progression three to four times will give you an intense 10-minute workout.  

The Huffington Post recommends a similar workout, but the 20-second intervals are supposed to be spent going all-out, working your hardest, and the 2-minute intervals are spent still moving, though at a slower pace. That type of workout is more geared toward cardio equipment like treadmills, bikes, or ellipticals and won’t offer many resistance benefits, but it’s still an effective cardio workout that is easier to fit into a hectic day than a 45-minute aerobics class.

 

Timing Carbohydrate Consumption for Optimal Fat Loss

You think you know the rules, then the game changes.

Carbs–they’re what’s for dinner.

In our quest to find effective health, fitness, and weight loss advice for you, we occasionally come across information that contradicts the “rules” as we know them. For years we’ve been on the Limited-Carbs-and-Only-Early-in-the-Day bandwagon along with loads of personal trainers and other experts. An innovative diet has been making the rounds, however, that turns everything we’ve come to believe about eating carbohydrates inside out. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, we kinda like having science-backed permission to eat carbs at night.

New(er) Studies Show…

Sounds too good to be true, but eating carbs in the evening can cut that pesky belly fat.

Okay, so it’s not like these studies were just released yesterday, but they haven’t been around for decades, either. In 2011, the Obesity Journal published a study done by researchers in Israel that showed that eating carbohydrates at night resulted in greater weight loss than spreading out carb intake throughout the day. Not only did saving carbs for the evening meal make people lose more weight, but much of it was body fat, and a lot of that was likely belly fat since another nice surprise result was smaller waists.

If you read the study, you’ll see that part of the title also addresses hormonal changes, and those are directly linked to the weight loss people in the evening carbs group enjoyed. It turns out that eating carbs at night increases hunger-controlling hormones like adiponectin and leptin, and it banishes the ghrelin gremlin, the hormone that drives hunger. In an entirely separate study that focused on the hormone element of eating carbs at dinner, researchers found that the way it affected those important hormones benefits you throughout the day because the resulting balance staves off hunger during the day. That means you’re less likely to snack irresponsibly and will have a better chance of sticking to a calorie-restricted diet.

What About Insulin Sensitivity?

Breakfast is still the most important meal of the day, but cutting back on carbs in the morning means you can have them for dinner.

Studies that have shown that blood glucose levels stay elevated longer after an evening meal are one factor that convinced people to avoid carbs at night. However, our friends at Bodybuilding.com have busted that myth. While it’s true that glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity are better in the morning, the myth part is that they’re at their worst at night. Layne Norton, Ph.D. points out that if you compare those two elements after mid-day and evening meals, there is no difference. Dr. Norton prefers to simply rephrase the comparison to say glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity are enhanced by your overnight fast, rather than impaired after a carb-heavy evening meal.

The Fitness Factor

Jen working out

Whatever type of exercise you prefer to stay fit and healthy, it’s raising your metabolic rate while you sleep to increase your overall fat and calorie burn.

People who work out are probably the most likely to be avoiding carbohydrates at night, but research shows that they’re the ones who are most likely to actually benefit from saving the majority of their carbs for dinner. For example, one study published in the Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology found that the sleeping heart rate for people who exercise consistently is elevated, meaning that, though it sounds too good to be true, if you exercise, you’ll burn more calories while you sleep than if you don’t work out. Ready for even more good news? Another study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders found that your sleeping heart rate will even be higher than your resting heart rate if your BMI is below 29. (Here’s a handy calculator for figuring that out.)

Yes, that means people who are considered obese need to lose weight before the benefits of eating carbs at night will really kick in. If you’re more than overweight, you’ll need to get your body to a place where it is burning more calories sleeping than does while sitting and staring into space. It’s an attainable goal, however, and the facts shouldn’t keep you from enjoying a baked potato with dinner, provided it’s dressed with low-fat plain yogurt and a sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese instead of loaded with sour cream, butter, and bacon bits. 😉

Adjusting Your Habits

If salad for dinner doesn’t satisfy you, have it for lunch and save the more enjoyable meal–carbs and all–for the evening.

This is some terrific news for many people, but it’s not permission to overload your evening eating with bread, pasta, and cake. Sure, it will be nice not to have to be so strict at dinner time, but Renegade Gym Owner Jason Ferruggia says it means limiting your carbohydrate intake throughout the rest of the day. If you’re on a 1500 calorie diet, adding carbs to your evening meal shouldn’t kick you over your max. Since eating carbs at night helps control hunger during the day, at least that will work in your favor to help you resist an extra hard roll at lunch or an afternoon snack of cookies or chips. Just keep your eye on your reward, a delicious dinner that includes a satisfying serving of carbs. Remember, though, that you’ll sleep better if you allow a few hours between your last meal of the night and bedtime, so try to avoid eating late, more for the digestion time than to avoid stowing away the calories.

Hardcore Wrestler Training Routine

The right workout regimen will give you the power you need to take down any opponent.

Fall is when school sports are in full-swing. If you’re serious about wrestling, whether you’re in college or high school, you need to be dedicated to a lifestyle change. Training hardcore to become the best wrestler you can be is about more than just the workout, it’s also about the right diet and getting plenty of rest. If you have the discipline and determination, you can go from weakling to powerhouse, capable of taking down almost any opponent in your path.

The Three Day Workout Regimen

Including some time on cardio machines will help build endurance to carry you through every round in every match.

There are as many different opinions about the frequency of workout days and where to fit in rest days as there are wrestlers and trainers. Although three-day workouts are popular, some trainers will put you on a six-day schedule that has you working out every other day and resting on the days between, while others prefer a 3-day workout, such as the one former pro-wrestler Ric Drasin favors, performing it in six consecutive days and taking Sundays off to rest.

Rest Up

Part of a hardcore training regimen includes getting enough sleep every night in addition to scheduling a rest day.

Working out hardcore means you’ll be tearing your body down to rebuild it, a process known as hypertrophy. Along with scheduling rest days from your workout schedule, you have to be conscious of getting enough sleep at night. Although the Sleep Foundation reveals that there is no magic number for everyone, their studies have shown that on the average teens require 8 to 10 hours per night and adults may need up to 9 hours, but some individuals may only need 7 hours of sleep each night. As for the day before a meet, trainers don’t recommend taking the day entirely off. A light workout the day before you wrestle will keep your strength up.

Nutrition

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Multivitamins formulated for athletes help ensure your body has the nutrition it needs to stay strong.

To stay lean while building muscle and having plenty of energy, wrestlers as well as most athletes follow diets that focus on high protein and low fat, and add a couple of snacks to their three-meal-a-day regimen. Healthy protein to include in your diet can come from egg whites, fish, chicken or lean beef, and protein supplements. Be sure to include fiber from whole grain cereals and breads as well as from fruits like apples. A complete multivitamin formulated for athletes will help round out your nutritional needs and give you what you might not be getting from food. Trainers and athletes alike will attest the value and effectiveness of giving yourself a “cheat day” to eat things not allowed on the training diet. By knowing that you can have a treat on a specified day, it won’t be as hard to stick with strict eating habits.

Commit or Quit

Training hardcore is a lifestyle, not something done on a whim. Take a look at what is involved and what will be required of you in order to be successful. Be realistic and decide whether or not you’re up to the challenge. It’s better to take on a hardcore training routine knowing what you’re getting into and being prepared to see it through instead becoming discouraged and quitting a few weeks in.

Skip the Horror Show: Strategies to Avoid Halloween Weight-Gain

Halloween is just the beginning of the holiday assault on your weight loss plan.

You spent an active summer working out, losing weight, and getting in shape. But here comes Halloween: the gateway holiday that kicks off a flood of holiday events that leave little time for working out coupled with a two-month binge of overeating. From the bowls of candy on every desk and bank teller’s station to the Halloween party treats and trick or treating treasure the kids haul home, temptation hits from every direction putting an end to your healthy diet–at least until after New Years. Whether you want to lose weight or are simply struggling to maintain, there are strategies to make Halloween manageable. Make “moderation” your mantra and remember to carve out time for consistent workouts. The arrival of Halloween and the ensuing holidays do not have to be the end of the trim physique you cultivated over the summer.

Nothing is Wrong With Non-Edible Treats

Discount stores are a treasure-trove for inexpensive, zero-calorie treats.

Stocking the house with assorted sweets is not the best way to lose weight or stick to your diet. Unless you love torturing yourself, why not give out something other than candy? There is no law that says you have to hand out sweets on Halloween. Everyday Health suggests hitting the dollar store to stock up on non-edible treats for trick-or-treaters such as stickers, carnival toys, or temporary tattoos.

Opt For Healthy

Trail mix prepackaged in snack-sized bags are a healthy Halloween alternative treat for you and the neighborhood kids.

If you feel obligated to give out eat-ables on Halloween, take the neighborhood with you on your healthy diet. Instead of bags of candy corn and miniature candy bars, hand out snack-sized packages of nuts, raisins, or trail mix. Who cares what the neighborhood kids think? They’re the ones begging from you. Besides, having those types of snacks on hand means not having to deal with the guilt when you inevitably have to eat the leftovers. (They’re not going to eat themselves!)

Wait Until the Last Minute

Don’t worry about getting your Halloween candy early. There will be plenty left the day before the holiday.

If you decide to go ahead with traditional Halloween handouts, do not start stocking up when the stores put the Halloween candy on display in September. Reader’s Digest recommends waiting until the day before or even the day of Halloween to buy candy and, when you do buy, get the type of candy you don’t care for so it won’t be as tempting. Already amassed bags and bags of Halloween treats? Put them on the back of the bottom shelf in the pantry to keep them out of sight, out of mind, and off your mid-section.

Treat Yourself

Make a trade-off. Forego the café mocha Halloween morning and you will have saved enough calories to indulge a little that night.

OK, so you bought the good stuff, and it is just sitting there in the plastic jack-o-lantern waiting for the neighborhood kids to start knocking on your door. Don’t berate yourself if the temptation is too hard to handle. Web MD says it’s fine to indulge just a little because denying yourself treats will only make you crave them all the more. However, do set and stick to a limit. If you really want a mini Kit Kat and a couple of snack-size Mounds bars, you can always plan to give up a snack or other treat the next day. For example, forego your Starbuck’s Caffé Mocha. You’ll save 360 calories, enough to make up for a couple of “fun-size” candy bars.

Eat Your Meals as Scheduled

Mini Kit Kat’s are only 42 calories, and fun-size Twix have only 80 calories–practically guilt-free amounts!

If you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Halloween, you won’t be ravenous for sweets when it’s time to start handing them out. Make dinner something really good, too, delicious food that satisfies instead of a skimpy salad that will leave you hungry in a couple of hours and eyeing the contents of the candy dish like it was, well, candy. Then, when you do allow yourself an after-dinner treat, you should know that those “fun” sized sweets are far easier on your calorie count than their full or king-sized counterparts. Woman’s Day reveals that most are under 100 calories each, and some, such as mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and snack-sized Kit Kats (10 g size) are under 50 calories each. Gummy bears have about 8.7 calories each, and bonus for candy corn lovers: each sweet kernel has less than 8 calories apiece.

Halloween Resolution

Morning, noon, or early evening–be flexible enough to move your workout wherever it will fit into your schedule this holiday season.

The holiday parties and events that start happening toward the end of October put a strain on already stretched-to-the-limit schedules. That’s why everyone, including people who have successfully kept to an exercise regimen up until now, start slacking off right about this time of year. Rather than falling off the wagon, see Halloween as an opportunity to make an early resolution rather than putting it off until New Years. Set your mind on scheduling a workout in wherever you can fit it–mornings, lunch breaks, or early evenings before the parties and gatherings begin. We’re not trying to candy-coat it–it will be difficult for the next two months but, when you come out on the other side without the extra baggage, you will be happy you stuck with it.

Fall for Fitness: Autumn Outdoor Workouts

Everyone knows autumn is a great time for recommitting to an exercise regimen. That’s why fall is the second busiest season for health clubs. As the weather takes a turn and the sun rises later and sets earlier, people take their workouts indoors. There’s nothing wrong with that. If the only times you have for working out are early morning or late evening, you’ll be safer and more comfortable inside the gym than in the cold darkness of the outdoors. However, fall is a terrific time for exercising outside for those who can arrange their schedules to exercise somewhere between sunrise and sunset. You can try at least one of the autumn outdoor workouts listed below, but LIVESTRONG says that varying your activities will help keep you motivated. That’s a vital factor for sticking with exercise on a regular basis which, in turn, assures you’ll reach your fitness and weight loss goals, so give them all a go if you’re feeling adventurous.  

The Harvest Workout

Head out to the pumpkin patch and heft some of these big boys for a challenging upper body resistance workout.

One of the best things about fall is that it provides the opportunity for fun activities that will give you a good workout but don’t seem like exercise. Harvesting, for example, can be a vigorous workout whatever it is you’re picking. Head to a vineyard to gather grapes, or an orchard to pick apples. The movement, including reaching and bending over as well as walking along the vines or from tree to tree burns calories. Pumpkin patches and corn mazes are other fun fall-time activities that offer exercise opportunities. Hefting portly punkins is a good upper body resistance workout, and you can race against a friend or your own best time to make it through the maze for a brisk cardio workout. 

The Treasure Hunt Workout

Instead of sitting down every time you see a park bench, use it to do lunges, or perform pushups off the back.

Shape came up with a great idea for an outdoor workout that can be done just about any time of year, but you’ll find it especially enjoyable to do during autumn surrounded by the season’s gorgeous colors. Whether you prefer to think of it as a scavenger hunt or a treasure hunt, the workout is the same. You’ll choose 5 to 10 exercises that don’t require equipment, then select an area to workout in, like a local park or greenway, and map out the route you’ll take. Consider the things you’ll see along your route and match them up with an exercise. For instance, you could pair a park bench with pushups and a dog on a leash with lunges. As you go along your route, every time you see one of your pre-selected landmarks, you’ll perform the exercise associated with it. You can either choose to do 10 reps of each exercise before moving along on your route or do AMRAPs, performing as many reps as possible for a certain amount of time like 45 seconds. 

Good Old Stand-Bys

Paddling a canoe works practically everything from your core on up, and the lake isn’t likely to be crowded in the fall.

Autumn is a beautiful time of year to get outside and do activities such as biking, jogging, and hiking. It can also be a good time to try things you’ve never done but have always wanted to, such as rock climbing or head to the beach for new and exciting water activities such as canoeing or kayaking. If it snows early near where you live, you could even give cross-country skiing or snow shoeing a try. Whatever you’re doing, remember to dress appropriately. WebMD advises dressing in three layers so you can peel them off as your body heats up. Start with clothing made of moisture-wicking material for your base layer, add a warmth layer on top of that, and your third and outer layer should be protective, such as a light, water-repellent jacket, depending on what the weather looks like.

 

4 Tips for Maximizing Your Workouts

 Let’s face it, fitting in the time to work out can be difficult. With juggling both your work and social schedules, it can sometimes be hard to get in a workout that feels both fulfilling and fast-paced. If you’re finding that you’re stuck in a routine of short-lived exercise options, consider the tips below on how you can start to maximize your future workouts for the better. 

1) Schedule in Advance 

Whether you put your workout on a physical calendar, your computer, or your phone, get your workouts on the schedule.

As obvious as it sounds, the absolute best way to get the most out of your workouts is to schedule them in advance. If you’re someone who is truly motivated to stick to your fitness goals, try to hold your workouts to the same standard as your work responsibilities. Have you ever missed a meeting? Allow this to get you in the mindset of never missing your allotted cardio time as well. Schedule your workouts far in advance and treat them with the same importance as all of your other future appointments. Once you have your exercise times mapped out, you’ll be more likely to maximize your time at the gym.

2) Have the Right Apparel 

The best workouts start with comfortable clothing–clothes that breathe and move with you rather than restricting your movements.

Though it’s always nice to feel like you look good while you’re working out, never choose style over comfort for your workouts. If the apparel you choose is too tight or simply uncomfortable, you’ll be less motivated to finish the workout you started. Do your research on available fitness clothing options. The best ones are breathable and light-weight. Whether you splurge on the best of the best or you find ways to get the best brands for less, it’s important to take the time to invest in the right apparel. Read reviews on the best name brands for your workouts, and then investigate where you can get those brands for less. You shouldn’t have to compromise when it comes to quality for fitness gear. Online thrift stores like thredUP offer a variety of brands, including well-known fitness names like Lululemon, making top quality accessible for everyone. Thrifting makes finding even the most expensive workout gear both easy and affordable. Scout out all of your options and you’re sure to find that perfect pair of gym shorts or leggings to keep you confident and comfortable during all your exercise routines. 

3) Grab a Buddy 

Exercise buddies keep you accountable and push you to work at your full potential.

If you’re finding that your workout motivation is petering out before you should be leaving the gym, grab a buddy the next time you go to hold you accountable. Having someone else to rely on will no doubt maximize your exercise time and might even push you to try other workouts you’ve been too scared to test out. Share your favorite exercises with your partner and make the most out of learning from each other. You might even be able to develop a better workout routine together than the one you had on your own. Not sure where to start? Take a look at what trainers say are their favorite exercises of all time. 

4) Determine What Motivates You 

If you motivation to workout starts to wane, remember what inspired you to exercise in the first place, whether it was to lose weight, maintain your health, or be able to splurge on meal cheat days.

When all else fails in maximizing your workouts, it might be time to start assessing what motivates you to exercise and get your exercise done in the first place. Whether you crave the endorphins, work out to stay in good shape, or simply want to feel good about your cheat day at the end of the week, evaluating the why factor is important. Take a quick look back at your motivation behind going to the gym and set the right goals for yourself based on what speaks to you the most. The more motivated you are, the more you’ll get out of your workouts.