Each week, our own fitness fanatics Christina Monteleone and Sabrina Evans will explore the latest workout crazes, diet fads and dish out tips for healthy living. Managing your schoolwork is tough enough- let us take care of your health.
If your motto at the gym lately has been “Go hard or go home,” we’re going ask you to take a step back, breathe deeply for a second, and remind yourself that when it comes to your workout, more is not necessarily better. You might think that chugging water bottles and squatting your little heart out is the key to your perfect body, but we’re here to say the one thing you’re never supposed to say: Maybe you should take a break.
No, this isn’t a “Forget the gym, I’m watching Netflix with a bag of chips” kind of break, but it’s a reminder that your body needs fuel, fluid and rest. Check out Valley’s workout R&R plan:
What to eat:
What you eat before and after your workout can be the difference between getting fit the healthy way and just plain tearing your body down.
Pre-workout your body is craving carbs, carbs and more carbs! By mixing complex and simple carbohydrates, you’re preparing your body to release a steady stream of energy during your workout. Try a slice of whole-wheat toast with banana to get your rear in gear fast, and if you’re looking to avoid muscle cramps, keep your meal clean and high in fiber with foods like brown rice and sweet potatoes.
Post-workout, your body is in recovery mode. You burned a lot off and sweated even more out, so keep your meal nutrient-dense with the lean protein and carbohydrates that can be found in chicken and vegetables, which leave you feeling full, not bloated.
What to drink:
Your stay-healthy power couple is protein and carbs, and after a hard workout, your body needs both – STAT! Boston-area sports nutritionist and author Nancy Clark tells Women’s Health, “The protein helps repair torn and stretched muscles, while the carbs give you quick steady energy.”
Before you go running to the fridge to dig out a Gatorade, try this simple and little-known post-workout refresher: Low-fat chocolate milk. High in protein, calcium and fast-carb fuel, chocolate milk will build your muscles back up while also satisfying hunger so you don’t binge later.
Tweak your workout:
Joints can be easily damaged and muscles are susceptible to tearing – so we should probably just give up going to the gym altogether while our bodies are still in one piece, right?
Not so fast! Saving your body from serious injury while maintaining a healthy lifestyle is as simple as listening closely to what your body is saying and dialing down the intensity as necessary.
Typically you should give yourself a rest day once a week, and take a rest week once a month when on a fitness regimen. To avoid muscle cramps, you should never work the same muscle groups two days in a row. Also, give low-impact workouts like cycling and the elliptical a try – both are easy on your joints while also great for building leg muscle.
Stretching is a necessity in the battle against injury and muscle soreness. An ideal rest day could be time spent at the yoga studio or simply a mini-version of your regular workout – reducing mileage as well as intensity.
Just as your brain needs sleep to be productive the next day, your body needs rest to get you through your next workout. Doesn’t your body feel happier already?
Photo by Audrey Cillo