If you’re like me, you enjoy exercise. It gives me time to think and let the stress of the day just roll off. I like knowing that I can have a good time staying in shape, and it gives me energy too. There are a number of tricks I use to get the most out of my workouts, and to help keep me healthy while I do it.
Anyone who’s ever been in a weight-loss program has contemplated skipping breakfast. I just woke up, I’m a zombie, and I am in no mood to make a nutritious meal. But studies show that eating even a little in the hours before working out, carbohydrates in particular, helps with energy and endurance. As with everything else, the choices matter. I’m not talking about a donut. Something more like whole-grain breads or oatmeal is better. Water is important, too. Experts suggest drinking 8 ounces of water per 15 minutes of cardio. If I’m not exercising first thing, I drink 16 ounces one hour before I go, and 8 ounces right before I leave.
When it comes to cardio, it’s all about getting the right heart rate. This is easy to calculate. A person’s maximum healthy heart rate is 220 minus their age. Target heart rate for cardio is 50-85% of that. The best rate for a 30-year-old, then, is 95-162 beats per minute. I could stop my workout to periodically check this, but that seems like a big hassle. Instead, I got a strapless heart-rate monitor from Beachbody. Middle-of-the-road models have a strap you place across your chest and a watch to wear. Mine beeps when I’m out of my target zone.
I don’t want to just do cardio, though. I want total body fitness, which includes weight-training. As women, we need strength. Who’s going to be carrying around the kids most of the time? But I used to worry that if I lifted too much weight, I’d end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger, circa 1990. Ew. Turns out, that’s not true. These days, there are programs directed specifically at women that can help us build significant strength without turning into Barry Bonds. Fewer repetitions of much higher weights that I ever expected I’d be able to lift. And after a couple months, the difference is really noticeable.
Just like before the workout, it’s important to eat the right foods afterward. Depending on my workout, I can be really hungry when I’m done. I’ve got to feed my muscles the right food, though. I need protein, and I need it NOW. I would much prefer that it didn’t come from a double cheeseburger at McDonald’s. I like to eat cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, which are both fairly low-calorie and packed with protein. Otherwise, a protein shake like Shakeology.com is my go-to.
Once I’ve cooled down and had a bit of time to relax, I find it motivating to track my workout. I use the app for MyFitness Pal on my smartphone, because I’ve always got it at hand. This app is good because I can log my diet and exercise there, compare with my friends, and get support there.
I like to workout, but I don’t want to be a slave to it. I want great exercise in the least amount of time. To ensure this, I tailor my diet to fit my fitness needs, keep track of my progress, and vary my workouts.
Today's post is a guest post from Emily Stone. I would rattle on about Emily, but I think it's best to let her speak for herself:
Hi all, I'm Emily Stone, a SAHM, proud wife, runner, fitness freak, health food addict, and animal lover! I also have a strong passion for writing, and luckily for me, Jean has been kind enough to let me share my writing on her amazing blog. So today, I'd like to share with you some of my favorite tips for maximizing your workout! If you have any questions feel free to email Emily!
Jean (and Emily)