Health & Fitness

The Importance Of Rest Days For Optimal Performance

The Importance Of Rest Days For Optimal Performance

If you’re hitting the gym daily and pushing as hard as you can until you can’t move, you aren’t doing yourself any favors or gaining any ground. You need rest days to achieve optimal performance. Your body needs a day or two of rest to heal and recuperate from intense workouts, especially strength-building workouts. When you do strength training, it causes micro tears in the muscles that require 48-72 hours to heal. When they heal, the scar tissue makes them stronger. If you don’t rest, the muscles continue to tear and break down.

Rest days don’t require you to sleep in or lay on the couch.

Rest days include active recovery. Active recovery is a mild exercise that increases circulation but doesn’t push your body hard. You might go for a brisk walk, ride a bike, swim, or do stretching exercises. The mild exercise and increased circulation help remove toxins, boost healing, and aid in reducing muscle soreness. It’s a good time to work on flexibility to increase the range of motion.

Burnout can occur if you don’t rest.

Have you ever dreaded going to the gym or felt too exhausted to start your workout? You probably pushed ahead, hoping you would feel better once you started. In most cases, that’s exactly what occurs. If you suffer from burnout, that feeling of dread never ends. Your workout suffers and you experience mental and physical stress. An intense workout stresses your body. If you do it consistently, that physical stress extends to mental stress. It can cause muscle weakness, injury, sleep disturbances, a higher heart rate, and reduced immunity.

Cut down the number of rest days by alternating the muscle groups you work.

Taking one day a week as a rest day is always good, so don’t omit rest days completely. To avoid overuse injuries and damage from working muscles before they heal, consider alternating the groups of muscles you use. You can do intense strength training every day and don’t have to wait 48 to 72 hours if you alternate among muscle groups. Create workouts that focus on different muscle groups. If you’re working your upper body one day, it won’t hurt to work your lower body the next day.

  • Track your heart rate if there’s a chance you need rest days. It’s better to slow down your workout than to give it up for several weeks to recover.
  • You’ll boost your focus and concentration when you take rest days. Lack of focus, one sign of burnout, can lead to injury or minimize the benefits of the workout.
  • Rest days let you rebuild your store of glycogen. It’s stored in the muscles and used for energy when you workout. Lack of glycogen not only causes fatigue but also can cause muscle soreness.
  • If weight loss is part of your goal, rest days are vital. If you stress your body too much, it leads to an overload of cortisol. Cortisol, a stress hormone, is linked to the accumulation of belly fat.

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How To Set Realistic Fitness Goals And Achieve Them This Year!

How To Set Realistic Fitness Goals And Achieve Them This Year!

If you’re like many other people in Louisiana, you set fitness goals for the New Year. These goals must be realistic if you want to achieve them. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have big goals. It does mean they should be healthy and possible. Trying to lose 60 pounds naturally in a month isn’t possible. It’s not a realistic goal. Trying to lose 60 pounds in 8 months is realistic and very possible.

You have to have a 3500-calorie deficit to lose one pound.

The average calorie intake for weight maintenance for women under 50 is between 1800 and 2400 for women and 2200 and 3000 for men under 50. Even if they ate no food for a month, a man who burns the most calories—3000—could only lose 25 pounds. If you exercised at maximum intensity for an hour a day and burned an extra 1000 calories daily, you could lose another 8 ½ pounds to a total of 33 ½ pounds. It’s not possible or healthy either. Understanding what it takes to lose one pound helps you make realistic weight goals.

Make big goals and break them down into smaller, easier-to-achieve goals.

Set a timeline to reach each mini-goal. For instance, break down a 60-pound goal into 30 mini-goals to lose two pounds weekly. You have a timeline and specific weight loss goal. All you need is the “how.” How are you going to lose that weight? Eating healthier and exercising regularly should be your answer.

Make your measuring tool relevant to your goal.

If your goal is to lower your blood pressure naturally, use your blood pressure readings to indicate success. If having more energy or endurance is a goal, create an endurance test, such as how many stairs you can climb without getting winded or how far you can run in ten minutes. For weight loss, weight is the test, but you can also add measurements when you work out. When you exercise, you build muscle mass. Muscle mass weighs more than fat tissue does. When you exercise, you build more muscle tissue. When you have more muscle tissue, your weight may not change, your measurements will be smaller.

  • Look at other ways to meet your fitness goals. If good health and weight loss is your goal, include strategies like eating slower and chewing your food longer. If it’s endurance, increase daily activity besides exercising. Park further from the store and walk. Take the stairs.
  • Start with a small goal, like giving up food with added sugar, then reevaluate once you conquer that goal. You could move from there to eating whole foods and eliminating highly processed food.
  • Don’t forget to get adequate sleep. Your body heals when you sleep. If you lack sleep your body creates more ghrelin—the hunger hormone—and less leptin—the one that makes you feel full.
  • Track your progress. Track the number of reps and sets for each exercise you do. Track the food you eat and the number of calories. Record your progress whether it’s blood pressure numbers, weight, or miles you run.

For more information, contact us today at Wellness On A Dime Coaching


Yoga Poses For Stress Relief

Yoga Poses For Stress Relief

Relaxation is difficult to achieve. The needs of your family, your boss’s orders, and even traffic jams can be stressful. Exercise helps burn off the hormones of stress. Yoga can help reduce anxiety, increase energy, and help you learn how to focus. You may not even need a pose for stress reduction if you learn yoga breathing techniques. They can slow your heart rate and calm your body. Focus on breathing. Slowly inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth helps in stressful times.

A child pose relaxes your muscles and brings quick relief from stress.

A child pose is easy to do. Get on the floor on your hands and knees. As you slowly exhale, rock backward, lowering your hips until your buttocks touch your heels and your chest is on top of your thighs. Your hands will remain firmly planted, with your arms outstretched, and your forehead touching the floor. Hold the position for a minute or two.

Relax with the cobra pose.

You’ll eliminate stress quickly when you use the cobra pose. Start on your stomach with your hands beneath your shoulders and your elbows close to the body. Press your lower body down, spreading your toes as you press your feet. Lift your head as you exhale, keeping your lower ribs on the floor. Push your shoulders back, pushing your chest forward. Straighten your arms as you lift your chest off the floor, pressing down on your thighs. Push your shoulder blades together, holding for 30 seconds then lower your body slowly.

You’ll reduce back pain as you relax using the cat/cow combination of poses.

The combination of poses reduces back pain and stress. Start on all fours with your palms and knees on the floor. For the cow position, lift your head as you allow your belly to drop, creating a valley between your shoulders and rump. Hold for a few seconds. Return to the starting position. Drop your head for the cat position and arch your back. Hold as you breathe deeply. Return to the neutral position.

  • In a sitting position, lift your arms above your head with your palms up. Interlock your fingers. Push your palms toward the sky and lean slowly to the left as you inhale. Hold for a count of 10 and return to the starting position as you inhale.
  • The uttanasana is a standing, forward bend that helps you relax. Exhale slowly as you bend forward, trying to touch your fingers to the floor and press your head against your thighs. Bend as far as you can without stress. Hold for 8 breaths.
  • A bridge can build core muscles and help you relax. Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Inhale as you lift your hips and trunk off the floor to create a straight line from your head to your knees.
  • Get instant relaxation at your desk. Sitting on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor and spine straight, reach backward, grabbing the back of the chair. Lift your chest as you pull your shoulder blades back as you inhale. Breathe deeply and return to the starting position.

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Why Women Should Strength Train

Why Women Should Strength Train

You don’t have to live in Louisiana to know that strength training is beneficial for both men and women. In the past, women often omitted it from their workout, fearing they’d end up looking like the Hulk. Hormones make that difficult to do. Unless you workout daily for hours with a specialized workout, take specific supplements, and follow strict dietary rules, you won’t end up looking like a female bodybuilder. What strength-building exercises can do for you is ease menopause, build stronger bones, give you a curvy look with toned muscles, and slow the aging process.

Strength training helps ease menopause symptoms.

One of the side effects of menopause is hot flashes. Approximately 2/3rds of menopausal women experience them. One study found that women who performed 15 weeks of strength-building exercises three times weekly for 45 minutes had half the number of hot flashes as women who didn’t. The theory was that the body releases neurotransmitters during weightlifting that also help the brain maintain body temperature, controlling the number of hot flashes.

Strength-building workouts make weight loss easier and aid in keeping bones strong.

Strength training burns calories and builds muscle tissue. Muscle tissue requires more calories to maintain than fat tissue does. The more muscle tissue you have, the more calories you burn. As people age, the body naturally loses muscle mass. Muscles tug on the bone. It stimulates recalcification that strengthens the bone. Loss of muscle mass causes bone weakness. It’s worse for women during menopause since estrogen helps maintain bone strength, adding that factor to the loss of muscle mass. It’s estimated that active women lose 10% of bone mass during menopause, while inactive women lose 20 %.

Exercising reduces the chance of complications during childbirth.

You can prepare your body for easier delivery and eliminate many of the issues faced during pregnancy, such as back pain, an achy body, and pelvic discomfort if you exercise before and during pregnancy. Building core and lower body strength with squats, lunges, windmills, and other muscle-toning workouts reduces the risk of some complications when giving birth. Exercising before pregnancy prepares the body for a healthier baby and safer delivery. It reduces stress and makes it easier to get pregnant, too.

  • You can prevent or improve chronic conditions with strength-building exercises. It helps diminish obesity, which lowers the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Strength-building relieves back pain, arthritis pain, and chronic depression.
  • Strength training lengthens telomeres. Telomeres protect the chromosomes, preventing them from unraveling. That can cause cells to be damaged or die. The more cells that die, the more you age. Exercise keeps you looking and feeling younger.
  • Strength training can improve cognition. It also burns off stress hormones that can lead to depression and anger. You’ll not only live longer when you exercise, you’ll feel happier.
  • Regular exercise helps you improve balance and prevent falls as you age. The stronger you are, the longer you can live unassisted.

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What To Eat After A Workout

What To Eat After A Workout

What you eat after a workout does make a difference. You need the right type of fuel to build muscles and improve recovery. Your body needs to replenish glycogen stores that you depleted. It requires amino acids for muscle repair and building new tissue. If you had an intense workout you also need to replenish your fluid and electrolytes. Healthy post-workout snacks fill those needs and fill the void in your stomach so you won’t be tempted by every sweet treat you see.

It’s all about timing your meal and what you eat.

Timing your food intake is just as important as what you eat. You need a post-workout snack as quickly after you finish as possible if you’re building muscles. If you’re doing aerobic or flexibility training, you can wait for an hour after you exercise. If your workout is right before lunch, breakfast, or dinner, skip the snack and make sure that the meal contains all the nutrients you require. Don’t forget to drink extra water after a workout. Sip it. Don’t gulp it.

Post-workout snacks can be simple.

Greek yogurt and berries make a good post-workout snack. The yogurt provides the protein to start recovery and muscle building. The berries provide the carbohydrates to replenish the glycogen and increase energy. A sliced apple with nut butter is another excellent post-workout snack. So is a small tuna salad or chicken salad roll-up.

You can use post-workout shakes or create your own with the help of a blender.

Commercial protein shakes may be convenient but they’re often costly. You don’t always know the contents since many aren’t quality-controlled. Some contain impurities that can harm the body. Use milk or yogurt if you make your post-workout shake from scratch. A chocolate, banana, and peanut butter protein shake has all the ingredients to build muscle while providing a tempting taste treat. Mix half a chopped banana with a cup of milk, two tablespoons of peanut butter, two teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, and a teaspoon of honey. It’s a yummy way to build muscles.

  • Create peanut butter balls with dark chocolate chips, toasted oatmeal, and honey. Mix the ingredients together and store the mixture in the refrigerator. Pop a couple in your mouth for a post-workout treat that builds muscles, too.
  • Use leftovers from the previous night’s meal. A slice of chicken breast on toast and some sweet potato wedges make a great post-workout snack.
  • Healthy meals that are high in protein are excellent post-workout meals. If you are trying to lose weight, exercise right before a meal, skip the snack, and choose the meal.
  • A dish of cottage cheese topped with unsweetened applesauce makes the perfect post-workout snack. A hard-boiled egg with a small salad containing lettuce, grapes, nuts, and veggies is also simple.

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Effective Ways To Build Endurance

Effective Ways To Build Endurance

Just as there are exercises for strength, flexibility, balance, and cardiovascular health. Some exercises build endurance. Endurance is normally thought of as a cardiovascular trait. It’s the ability to run up and down stairs without getting winded. It builds up the ability of the lungs and heart to provide oxygen for the body. Endurance is more than that. It’s also the ability to work other muscles hard for an extended period. You need both types of endurance to be truly fit. Some exercises are better than others at meeting that goal.

Building muscle endurance requires doing one strength-building exercise to failure.

Whether you’re lifting weights or doing push-ups, you’ll build muscle. If you do them until you fail and in the case of push-ups, can’t lift your body off the floor, you’re building muscle endurance. Your arms and body should be almost quivering. Holding a plank until failure is another way to build muscle endurance. Doing five to ten sets of 30 walking lunges until your legs turn to jelly is another way to boost muscle endurance.

Increase your cardiovascular endurance with HIIT—-high intensity interval training—-workouts.

HIIT isn’t a specific exercise but a way of doing any exercise. You vary the intensity of the workout between high-intensity and recovery instead of doing steady state-workouts. You can even modify walking. Walk at a moderate pace for a few minutes, then speed things up to top speed for less time or the same amount of time. Return to the moderate recovery pace and continue alternating. HIIT boosts cardiovascular endurance faster and helps lower blood pressure.

Supersets push your endurance to the limit.

You’ll maximize your strength, boost endurance, and get more from each session when you do supersets. Supersets are two or more exercises for opposing muscle groups, the same muscle groups, and other combinations. They’re combined without much rest between them. You can combine push-ups with bench presses as a superset. You can also do pancake push-ups to failure and immediately move to dive-bomber push-ups with rest between the two that’s 30 seconds or shorter.

  • Working for more endurance requires you to push your body a little more each session. You’re constantly building toward a heavier load or more repetitions.
  • Building core strength is vital to endurance. You can build core strength with superman exercises, planks, bridges, and flutter kicks.
  • If you’re doing resistance exercises, you can boost your cardio and build your endurance by doing them faster and cutting the rest time between sets and exercises. Interval training helps.
  • Exercises that require explosive movements can increase both muscle and cardiovascular endurance. Examples are burpees, squat thrusts, frog squat jumps, and tuck jumps.

For more information, contact us today at Wellness On A Dime Coaching


Fun Fit Activities To Do With The Kids

Fun Fit Activities To Do With The Kids

If you struggle to make the time for your workout because of job and family responsibilities, it’s easy to make time for both. You can do fun fit activities with your kids that everyone will enjoy. Kids learn what they live. If you’re putting them on a path to fitness, you’re helping them to become healthy adults. Being active together helps improve their cognitive abilities and creates memories that will last forever. These activities also benefit you and reduce the boredom of doing the same workout continuously. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Rock climbing, hiking, or bike riding can keep everyone active.

Pack a lunch and go for a hike. You can hike in wooded areas or along a beach. The sand makes it more of a challenge. Rock climbing is also fun and a good diversion from typical family fun. Make holiday gifts something that keeps everyone active. Get the whole family bikes and ride together. If you don’t have hiking paths near you, go for a walk. Don’t forget the picnic lunch either. Make the lunch a healthy option that everyone likes.

Swimming together is a good family activity.

If you don’t know how to swim, it’s a good time to learn. Enroll the whole family in a beginner’s class and learn with the kids. Don’t be embarrassed if they do better than you do. It’s easier to learn to swim when you’re a kid. If everyone knows how to swim, watersports can be fun. Water tag and basketball using a beach ball are two good ways to start. If you’re in a pool, do poolside exercises or swimming competitions. Water polo and water aerobics are also fun.

Exercise with the kids.

You can exercise with children of all ages, including babies. If you exercise with your baby, you can make them part of your routine. Sit them on your belly while you do crunches. When you sit up, do peek-a-boo at the top. For toddlers and younger children, jumping jacks and windmills are simple and fun. A hula hoop challenge and jumping rope are other exercises that work your entire body and don’t require expensive equipment. If bikes are too expensive for everyone, a hula hoop or jump rope isn’t and can provide both good exercise and fun.

  • Only use your electronics or phone to get directions if necessary and for emergencies. One of the hardest habits for parents and kids to break is disconnecting from their cell phones. It’s the best habit to break.
  • Shoot hoops with the kids or make an obstacle course and challenge them to go through it. Invite the neighborhood kids and parents to join in your efforts to become healthier and help your kids get fit.
  • Dancing is an activity anyone can do. Turn up the music and dance. Incorporate some of your exercise moves, like a squat, into the dance. Don’t worry about how well you or the kids dance. It’s all about getting the body moving.
  • Play follow-the-leader but use the environment to make it more difficult, like trying to jump over low hurdles in your path.

For more information, contact us today at Wellness On A Dime Coaching


Why You Shouldn't Eat Just Before Bed

Why You Shouldn’t Eat Just Before Bed

You’ve probably heard you shouldn’t eat just before bed, especially if it’s a big meal. That’s true for several reasons, but there’s one way it can be helpful. Humans still have many instincts from their cave-dwelling days. One of them is to stay awake to hunt for food if they’re hungry. Sometimes, an empty stomach won’t allow sleep and lack of sleep can make you hungrier. If you’re one of those people who can’t sleep without a snack, plan ahead. Eat less at the other two meals and more at your last meal of the day or be prepared with sleep-inducing snacks.

A calorie is a calorie no matter when you eat it.

You hear a lot about weight gain from eating late at night and sometimes the reason given is that the calories go to fat when you sleep. That’s just not true. No matter when you eat, it’s still a calorie whether you burn it off then or later. What does occur is you’re extending the hours when you eat, so you tend to eat more. You also don’t make the smartest choices late at night and eat higher-calorie snacks that don’t require preparation, like potato chips and candy.

Eating late at night can be bad for your health.

Aside from eating more calories and gaining weight, eating late can cause health issues. Eating and then lying down can interfere with digestion. Gravity plays a role in digestion, helping the food move through your digestive system. When you lay down it also slows blood flow that is necessary for digestion. It doesn’t help move the food through the body either. That can cause the food and acid mixture to come back into the esophagus causing acid reflux, heartburn, a sore throat, dental issues, and sinusitis.

You’ll interrupt your body’s sleep/wake cycle.

The sleep/wake is the circadian rhythm. It’s the regulator for the body that makes it active during the day and tired at night. It regulates everything, including insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a hormone that causes the cells to open and uptake glucose. During the day, the cells are more responsive to insulin. When you eat late at night, your body isn’t active enough to use the energy. Eventually, that can cause insulin resistance that puts on pounds and leads to diabetes.

  • Some sleep-inducing snacks to have on hand include peanut butter on whole-grain bread, cottage cheese with banana slices, or an apple and cheese slice. Deviled eggs or veggies and Greek yogurt dip are also good options.
  • Eating late at night can cause an upset stomach. Nighttime is when the body does tissue repair. If your stomach is busy digesting food, it doesn’t repair itself.
  • Eating late at night can interrupt NREM sleep, the first stage of sleep. That’s especially true if you’re consuming food high in saturated fat.
  • Studies have found that people who eat at night eat more calories throughout the day. One study found that people who ate something between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. tended to eat 500 calories more each day than those that didn’t eat at night.

For more information, contact us today at Wellness On A Dime Coaching


How To Help Depression With Exercise

How To Help Depression With Exercise

There are many causes of depression. Some are severe and require clinical intervention. Others are mild, such as waking up to an overcast day. Depression caused by losing a job or a broken relationship may be more serious, but just like mild depression, exercise helps. No matter what the cause, exercise can help reduce depression. Therapists use exercise as an adjunct therapy. If depression occurs because of a broken relationship, exercise can do double duty. It can help you feel better and look fabulous, too. There’s no better revenge than making yourself look better.

You can do an exercise routine or go for a walk.

Just moving is what’s important. The more you move, the more improved your circulation and the more blood goes to the brain. That can improve your mental state. Benefits increase if your workout is more intense or a HIIT—high intensity interval training—session. The more intensity you put forth, the more stress hormones you burn. You also increase the happy hormones you create.

Exercise diverts your attention.

If you have a problem or a situation that makes you depressed, often all your thoughts and all your energy go into mulling it over and reliving it again. Exercising can divert your attention. If you’re walking, watching where you are going is a diversion. You can increase the effect by counting your steps. Think of the happiest song you know and play it in your head as you walk. Hum it or sing it if you’re working out where that’s possible.

Exercise increases neurogenesis—the process of creating new brain cells.

Whether you choose strength training, dancing, or other types of exercise, you’ll boost the potential to create new brain cells as you improve your overall fitness. Studies show that stroke patients suffered less depression when they did strength-building exercises for ten weeks. The stronger you are, the more in control you feel and part of depression is the feeling you don’t control your life. Combining intense aerobic exercise to burn off hormones with strength-building exercises, such as circuit training where you don’t rest very long between exercises, can help boost your mood faster and diminish depression.

  • If you aren’t in shape or need a low-impact workout, consider yoga or tai chi. It’s especially good for seniors who often suffer from low-grade depression. Joining a yoga or tai chi class also provides socialization, which can help depressed people.
  • Exercising can get you up and moving. Too often depressed people just want to go to bed or sit on the couch. As you workout, your desire to hide under the covers will disappear.
  • When you exercise, you feel a sense of accomplishment and that you’re doing something to get your life back in control. It can help you feel stronger, making it harder to feel depressed.
  • Do an activity you love. Whether it’s bike riding, shooting hoops, dancing, or traditional exercise, just moving helps. It can be as simple as running up and down the steps.

For more information, contact us today at Wellness On A Dime Coaching


Should You Consider A Dance Class?

Should You Consider A Dance Class?

If you get bored doing all those squats and lunges, it’s time to have fun while you exercise. The more you enjoy an activity, the more you’ll tend to do it. That’s why many people in Louisiana choose a dance class as one of their fitness activities. Ballerinas and jazz dancers do grueling workouts that require balance, flexibility, strength, and endurance. You don’t have to do the latest dances to get plenty of exercise. You don’t have to do the latest dances to get plenty of exercise. You can take ballroom dancing and learn the classic steps, learn ballet, or go country with some line dancing.

You’ll improve your cardiovascular system even when you’re slow dancing.

Some people hate to run and would only do it with a bear or ‘gator chasing them. If you’re one of those people, bike riding, walking, or dancing might be the best workout for your cardiovascular system. Walking is the easiest and requires no equipment. Dancing is even better. Many local areas offer low-cost or free community center dance classes. You can also go online and find them. It doesn’t matter what age or the type of dance you take. It can get your heart pumping and improve your health.

You’ll build strength.

Almost all types of dance work both upper and lower body muscles. You might not build the big rippling muscles of weight lifting, but dance tones your muscles and builds strength. There’s as much athleticism displayed by professional dancers as there is by professional ball players. Even though ballerinas don’t take the hits like a pro ball player, they demand as much of their muscles. Jazz, modern, ballroom, or hip hop work the glutes and lower body. Many dance forms can work the upper body and provide a full-body workout

You’ll improve your flexibility and balance.

You might be the most uncoordinated person in the world, and after a year of dancing, you’ll show a lot of improvement. You won’t necessarily be the best dancer, but you’ll have improved flexibility and balance. Everything takes practice. The more you do it, the better you’ll be at it. Dance is about the total control of muscles. No matter what type of dance you do, some movements require that you turn your whole body, arms, legs, or even head in a specific manner. That requires control of large and small muscles. It also helps increase the range of motion and balance.

  • You’ll focus more on the movements and the music and less on the time. Dance classes tend to feel like time goes quickly and are quite different than walking the treadmill for an hour.
  • Dance is a full-body workout. That means it burns a lot of calories. If you’re trying to lose weight, this heart-healthy option is perfect. You can lower your blood pressure and improve your bone and muscle strength when you dance.
  • When you take dance classes, you’ll boost your brain power. Learning steps and movements create new neurotransmitters in the brain. Those boost brain power and focus.
  • Like all types of exercise, dancing can improve your sleep and burn off stress hormones. It also helps lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels and improves your cholesterol profile.

For more information, contact us today at Wellness On A Dime Coaching