Fact: Humans need protein to grow and thrive.
Falsehood: That protein has to come from dead critters. Meet your new muscle-building diet. No animals were harmed in making it!
If there's one thing that most vegetarians hate, it's having someone talk about their dietary system like it's a problem that needs to be solved. So let's get this out of the way: Vegetarians can build muscle and strength just like meat-eaters. Got that? Good.
There are hundreds of millions of vegetarians in the world, and people choose to embrace this lifestyle for countless reasons—from religious, to nutritional, to simple personal preference. As anyone who has embraced this lifestyle can attest, it's not as simple as "don't eat meat."
Everyone from your grandmother to your favorite whey manufacturer is a potential threat to sneak animal products into your food, meaning you have to be diligent about doing your research in addition to minding your macros.
Need a roadmap? Here are four simple rules that vegetarian athletes should keep in mind in order to maximize their nutrition. Heed them, and you'll have the fuel you need to grow like a weed.
Rule 1 - Know Your Whey
Meat-eaters may classify the world in terms of carnivores and herbivores, but vegetarians know it's not so simple. There are several types of vegetarians including:
- Lacto-vegetarians (dairy is allowed)
- Pescatarians (fish is allowed)
- Lacto-ovo vegetarians (dairy and eggs are allowed)
- Vegans (No animal products of any kind are allowed)
Each variation presents its own set of unique challenges, as the people in these respective categories are well aware.
But one thing they all need when they're training is sufficient protein. Without it, they put themselves at serious risk for subpar results and just generally feeling like a wilted piece of celery.
What about whey and casein powders? Both are milk byproducts, so they're clearly off-limits to vegans and to strict pescatarians. But they should be A-OK for lacto- and lacto-ovo vegetarians, right? If only it were so simple. To separate milk into its component parts of curds (where casein and cheese come from) and whey, producers add an enzyme called rennet. There are vegetable and microbial sources for rennet, but the most common source is the stomachs of slaughtered veal calves. In other words, not so veggie-friendly.
One easy way to tell if your protein is vegetarian is if it's kosher, because milk and meat products can't mix in a kosher diet. Unfortunately, most proteins don't include this information on their labels or websites. So if you want to know where a certain company stands, the best bet is to do your homework: search around, or call them up and ask.
Rule 2 - Explore Planet Protein
If the rennet dance sounds a little complicated, which is understandable, consider exploring other vegetarian protein sources. Luckily, there are plenty to choose from, most of which line up nicely against their animalistic competitors. Some of the most popular sources include:
- Egg protein, egg white protein, and liquid egg whites. All three offer a protein punch similar to whey protein, but are far simpler and more predictable when it comes to ingredients.
- Soy protein. Perhaps the most prominent vegetarian alternative to whey, soy proteins are similarly protein-packed but are incredibly low in fat and cholesterol. Soy generally offers more flavor options than other vegetarian proteins, but read your labels carefully, because some soy proteins contain milk and/or fish products.
- Pea protein. The lowly pea is riding high these days due to the "Dr. Oz Effect," but the TV doc was only stating what savvy vegetarians already knew. Pea protein is high in protein, easy to digest, cholesterol-free, and has a solid branched-chain amino acid profile.
- Hemp protein. Hemp seeds are packed with Omega-3s and high in magnesium and iron, to say nothing of their solid protein content. Plus, a serving also contains almost half your daily dose of fiber—remember that stuff?
Some manufacturers like Beachbody,
offer their own designer veggie protein blends that mix various plant and grain proteins. There are plenty to choose from, so a little research can go a long way!
Rule 3 - Eat Well
I know it seems obvious, but most of us know at least one vegetarian who seems to magically survive on ramen noodles, fries, and sweets. Men's Health recently coined a term for these people: obesatarians.
Your vegetarian allies are begging you not to become one of these. Aside from the damage you do to yourself, you give the whole plant kingdom a bad name.
What's the alternative? Strive for balance! Include a barrage of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. These form the cornerstone of a healthy diet for herbivores and omnivores alike, and they offer incredible health benefits. Don't always fill up veggies and fruits (which is hard to do, by the way); most of your calories should come from dense foods—especially if you're trying to build muscle.
Hearty vegetarian protein sources that mix well with veggies:
- Beans and legumes
- Nuts and seeds
If you're the type of vegetarian who gets full on things like brown rice, quinoa, potatoes, legumes, beans and lentils, nuts, seeds, nut butters, and avocados, you've given yourself a good chance to build some muscle. On the other hand, if you're a vegetarian who feasts mostly on salad, stir-fry, fresh fruit, and other vegetable-based dishes, you're likely falling short on your macro needs. For every vegetable you eat, pair it with a healthy fat and protein-packed side. This provides the balance of nutrition you need!
Rule 4 /// Watch Out for Deficiencies
If you've been a vegetarian for a long time, then someone has doubtlessly already tried to warn you that an iron deficiency is likely to kill you in a matter of minutes. Is this a reason to give up and attack the nearest cow? Definitely not. But don't underestimate the degree to which micronutrient deficiencies can impact your health and well-being. Here are the four biggest threats to watch out for:1. Iron
Iron can be subdivided into two types, heme and non-heme iron. Heme iron is commonly found in red meat and absorbs easiest into the body, making it the variety most vegetarians fall short in. Non-heme iron is found in many vegetable-based foods including:
- Dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens
- Dried peas
- Beans and lentils
- Dried fruit: raisins, prunes, and black currents
Females are more likely than males to experience iron-deficiency anemia because they lose iron during their menstrual cycle. Alone, non-heme iron alone usually can't overcome iron-deficiency anemia, so consider supplementation.2. Calcium
Calcium is vital in maintaining strong bones and plays a crucial role in muscular contractions. Low calcium intake causes cramping during workouts, hindering performance and ability. In the long-term, it can also lead to thinning of the bones and osteoporosis.
Dietary calcium is typically found in dairy-rich foods, so it's easy to find for lacto-vegetarians. Alternate sources of calcium fit for a vegan diet include:
- Collard greens
Absorption rate varies in each of these, so if you have any doubts, consider supplementing with calcium to meet your nutritional requirements.3. Zinc
Zinc is an essential trace element that promotes proper growth and development across the body, and yet it's a mineral that many vegetarians neglect. Deficiencies can impact everything from appetite, to cognitive power and motor skills, to testosterone levels in men. The best zinc sources are generally animal products, so vegetarians need to prioritize this mineral.
To combat zinc depletion, vegetarians should supplement with zinc products or consume natural sources like:
4. Vitamin B12
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Almonds, walnuts, or macadamia nuts
- Fortified oatmeal or cereals
Vitamin B12 deficiencies can turn serious if not resolved immediately, creating a real area of concern for vegetarians.
The type of B12 found in plant-based foods is not absorbed by the body as efficiently as vitamin B12 found in animal-based foods, so this is an area where even healthy vegetarians often miss the boat. ( NOTE: even meat eaters can have B12 deficiencies)
Your best bet to overcome vitamin B12 deficiencies is to seek out foods fortified with adequate amounts, or supplement with vitamin B12 products.
No matter what some meathead on a message board says, "vegetarian" does not have to equal "weak"—unless you let it! Meet your essential mineral and vitamin needs so you can feel strong and make the most of your healthy lifestyle.Shannon Clark
With summer fast approaching, "beach-think" has set in and the current most-popular question is, how do I get rid of my gut?"
If you think it's time to bring out those abs
for summer, then this is the article for you!Gadgets And Gimmickry
The science and art of eating for fat loss and muscle gain have become big business. Unfortunately, this big business, in the eternal quest to get paid, has taken the focus off excellent eating and excellent exercise regimens.10000001
Instead, with infomercials, marketing and advertising, and strategic alliances with the media (magazines, TV, etc), the diet and exercise industry has confused most people to the point that all they can do now is call up 1-800 numbers or jump on a secure server with their credit card ready. Some of these infomercials not only ignore the role of diet and exercise, they try to convince you those things aren't necessary when you buy their fat melting vibrating belts and magic pills.
Why has this transpired? Well, the answer is simple. And for three easy payments of $19.95, I'll tell you. No, no, just kidding. How about a quote instead?
"Throughout history, the difference between scientists and physicians on the one hand, and quacks and promoters on the other, has been that the scientists and physicians have attempted to show both what they knew and what they didn't know while the promoters saw the questions as simple and obvious, and always had all the answers."
Therefore, it doesn't seem such a mystery why people buy into the gimmickry. Telling the people what they want to hear wins them over. T00. The problem is that while radical diets, gadgets, and pills may work in the short run, they often compromise an individual's health and well-being more than the extra fat does if they're overweight.
This makes the cost to benefit ratio ridiculously low. The other problem is that these strategies don't typically work in the long run. So if you're trying radical new methods, it's a safe bet to assume that after the "treatment" is over, you'll likely go back to normal.
Now personally, I love being lean, but I also enjoy my good health. And my focus remains on using the basics of good, natural food selection and an active lifestyle that includes regular, preplanned physical activity. I'm not a big fan of prepackaged meals, gadgets or magic potions. As revolutionary as it sounds, I believe you can get lean by manipulating your diet and exercise alone.
So the purpose of this article is to provide a scientific basis for making good food selections, the real "secret" behind getting and staying lean. More specifically, I'll discuss the following:
- Why a calorie is not a calorie
- Why a protein is not a protein
- Why a carbohydrate is not a carbohydrate
- Why a fat is not a fat
- How to choose your food wisely
Okay, let's dive in and prepare to "get your beach on."A Calorie Is Not A Calorie
While the gurus and pundits of the past believed that all calories were created equal, and while much of the current dietetics herd still believes it, I'm here to tell you why it just ain't true. To do so, I'll focus on three main arguments: the Thermic Effect of Feeding (TEF), cross-cultural studies, and the effects of isoenergetic diets using different foods.
The TEF, as I've said many times before, represents the additional caloric expenditure (above resting metabolism
) that it takes to digest, absorb, and process the food you eat. Studies on the thermic effect of different foods have been important in describing the different effects of the macronutrients on metabolism.
The TEF lasts from between one to four hours after eating a meal. When adding up the thermic effects from each of your meals, this extra metabolism represents between 5% and 15% of your total daily energy expenditure. Therefore, if your daily energy expenditure is 3,000kcal, about 150 to 450kcal of that comes from the TEF. Interestingly, different macronutrients tend to have different effects on metabolism.
Welle et al. (1981) and Robinson et al (1990) demonstrated that during a normal six hour period of rest and fasting (basal metabolism), subjects burn about 270kcal. When eating a single 400kcal meal of carbs alone (100g) or fat alone (44g), the energy burned during this six hour period reached 290kcal (an additional 20kcal).
Interestingly, when eating 400kcal of protein alone (100g) the subjects burned 310kcal during this six hour period (an additional 40kcal).Therefore, protein alone had double the thermogenic power vs. fat or carbs alone!
Swaminathan et al (1985) demonstrated that during a normal fasted 90-minute period, both lean and obese subjects burned about 110 calories. When consuming a 400kcal, fat only meal (44g), the lean subjects burned 125kcal (+15kcal) while the obese subjects only burned 110kcal (+0Kcal).
This indicates that while the lean can up-regulate metabolism when eating fat, the obese may, in fact, have a defect in their thermogenic response mechanisms for fat. When fed a 400kcal mixed meal (P+C+F), the lean subjects burned 130kcal (+20kcal) during the 90-minutes while the obese burned 125kcal (+25kcal) during the 90-minutes.
These data demonstrate that mixed meals are more thermogenic than fat only meals and that lean people have a better TEF response than the obese.
So now that you understand that different macronutrients (at the same energy intake) can alter calorie balance within a single meal, here's another interesting argument for the fact that all calories were not created equal. In a study by Campbell et al (1991), 6,500 rural and urban Chinese were compared to the US population norms for energy intake, macronutrient breakdown, and health.
This is an important comparison due to the fact that obesity and cardiovascular diseases have reached epidemic proportions in North America while the prevalence is much lower in China. Check out this data on average nutrient intake:U.S.
Energy - 30.6kcal/kgChina
Carbohydrate - 42% (224g)
Fat Intake - 36% (85.86g)
Alcohol - 7%
Fiber - 11g/day
Protein - 15% (80g)
% Protein from Animal - 70% (56g)
BMI (wt/ht*ht) - 25.8
Energy - 40.6kcal/kg
Carbohydrate - 71% (504g)
Fat Intake - 14% (44g)
Alcohol - 5%
Fiber - 33g/day
Protein - 10% (71g)
% Protein from Animal - 11% (7g)
BMI (wt/ht*ht) - 20.5
It's interesting to note that while the Chinese have a much lower body mass index (as represented by weight in kg/height squared in meters) and a much lower prevalence of obesity and cardiovascular disease, they eat about 25 to 35% more food than we do!Now, the Chinese tend to be more active than we are, but when the numbers were corrected for activity levels, the differences remain!
Looking at the macronutrient breakdowns, the Chinese are on a high-carb diet, no doubt. But they're not fat. And while their protein intake, by percentage, is lower, they do get nearly as much total protein, by gram amount, as we do. Perhaps we could take a lesson from the Chinese.
Clearly not all calories are created equal because if they were, the Chinese would be fatter than we are! But instead, the average 100kg Chinese person gets to enjoy a 4060kcal diet while keeping his lean physique.
I know, I know, that study is only epidemiological and therefore lacks some explanatory power, but stay tuned as I present two final studies to demonstrate that all calories were not created equal.
In a study by Demling et al (2000), the researchers demonstrated that food choice and timing could be more important than total calorie intake. Before the study began, overweight police officers, eating about 2100 to 2300kcal per day, tipped the scales at 216lbs with 56lbs of fat mass (25% fat) and 158lbs of lean mass.
They were eating about 74g protein, 380g carbs, and 56g fat. Since this is clearly a hypocaloric diet, they should've been losing weight. But they weren't.
Unfortunately for these poor guys, they were eating only 10% of their calories at breakfast and a whopping 50% of their calories right before bed. In addition, 50% of their carb intake was sugar
After diet counseling, these guys still ate the same diet in terms of macronutrients, but they ate 70% of their calories during the active parts of their day and 80% of their carb intake was complex and low on the GI scale
At the end of twelve weeks these guys lost 3lbs of weight and 5lbs of fat while gaining 2lbs of lean mass. And this was without changing exercise habits! While these changes weren't huge, it's clear that food choices and timing make a difference.
In another study by T-mag's own Doug Kalman et al (2001), Doug showed that a 1200kcal, high-protein (47%P, 36.5%C, 16.5%F) diet was more effective than a 1200kcal, moderate-protein (24.5%P, 48.3%C, 27.2%F) diet for fat loss. Subjects in the high-protein group lost 6.3lbs of body weight, 5.3lbs of fat weight, and only 1lb of lean weight.
The moderate protein group lost 3.1lbs of body weight, no fat weight, and 4.5 whopping pounds of lean weight. Try telling these subjects that a calorie is a calorie!
In the end, there clearly are ways to burn more calories and lose more weight while eating diets differing in macronutrient content but similar in energy intake. In addition, if you can believe it, there may even be ways to eat more food while staying leaner. Just ask the Chinese.A Protein Is Not A Protein
In this section, I'd like to demonstrate that not all proteins were created equal. Specifically, I'll briefly discuss whey and casein protein, fast and slow protein, animal and vegetable protein, cod/fish protein and soy protein.
The topic of whey vs. casein has been discussed ad nauseum lately so rather than belabor this issue, I'll quickly summarize a few studies.
Demling et al (2000) compared two groups on a 2100 to 2300kcal diet containing 143gP (26%), 286gC (52%), and 49gF (20%). Both groups weight trained for twelve weeks but received 75g of their daily protein intake from either a whey-based drink or a milk-protein isolate drink (80% casein, 20% whey).
At the end of the study, the milk-protein isolate group lost more fat (15.4lbs vs. 9.2lbs), gained more lean mass (9lbs vs. 4.4lbs), and gained more upper and lower body strength than the whey group.It appears that milk protein isolate ingestion, when on a training program, may be a better way to enhance fat loss and muscle gain.
Lands et al (1999) showed that when supplementing with 20g of whey or casein for three months, the whey group had up-regulated their antioxidant defense systems and had increased performance in an anaerobic exercise task. The casein group didn't improve on any of the above parameters. Therefore whey may be better for antioxidant protection.
Since the fast vs. slow debate focuses on whey (fast) vs. casein (slow), let's address that research here. In studies by Boirie et al (1997) and Dangin et al (2001), it was shown that whey protein is better for up-regulating protein synthesis while casein protein is better for down-regulating protein breakdown.
The take-home message from these studies is that a milk protein blend or a supplement containing whey + casein may be your best bet for body composition improvements.
Next up, what about those kooky vegetarians? Well, in comparing an omnivorous diet (meat containing) with a vegetarian diet, Campbell et al (1995, 1999) demonstrated that strength gains and body composition improvements are impaired when meat is removed from the diet.
In their studies, subjects weight trained for twelve weeks while consuming a 2300kcal diet consisting of 70-90gP (12-15%), 267-317gC (49%), and 82-87gF (7-11%). The only difference between groups was the fact that one group ate a meat-free diet while the other group ate meat.
At the end of the twelve weeks, the meat eaters lost 2.8lbs of fat while gaining 3.74lbs of lean tissue. The vegetarians, on the other hand, lost no fat weight and lost 1.76lbs of lean tissue.
Regarding fish in the diet, Lavigne et al (2001) demonstrated that cod protein was better than soy or casein for increasing muscle glucose sensitivity and for preventing insulin resistance in high-fat fed rats.
Since codfish has a favorable omega-3
profile, the researchers duplicated their work using only the protein component of cod and the benefits remained the same. This indicates that eating fish may improve your carbohydrate sensitivity and ultimately your body composition and these effects may be independent of the fatty acid profile.
Finally, Lohrke et al (2001) showed that growing pigs fed a diet consisting of soy as the only source of protein had lower body weights, amino acid
imbalances, increased cortisol
levels, and increased muscle breakdown.
The casein-fed pigs grew normally. This study indicates that a diet containing exclusively a low quality protein (soy in this case) may interfere with normal growth and development.So, how do we use this information to our advantage?
Well, since different protein sources confer different benefits, your best bet is to eat some fish protein (cod, salmon, tuna), some lean meat protein, and some milk protein isolates or whey/casein blends each day. Eating from a limited list of protein sources is a big mistake.
Depending on their individual needs, my clients typically eat a different protein source with every meal so that by the end of the day they've gotten complete protein from egg whites, fat free cheese, milk protein isolate shakes, cottage cheese, salmon or tuna and lean beef, not to mention the incomplete sources like mixed beans and mixed nuts.Summary Of Part 1
- With all the media hype out there, the key to staying lean and mean is still diet, specifically, good food choices.
- A calorie is not a calorie because the macronutrient content of each meal affects the body's response to the feeding. That basically means you could change your body composition by eating the same amount of calories each day, but making different food choices. Meal timing also plays an important role.
- A high protein diet may be better than a moderate protein diet for fat loss.
- A protein is not a protein because different kinds of proteins affect the body in different ways. Milk protein isolate (80% casein, 20% whey) may be better than whey alone if your goal is fat loss. Whey looks like it's better for antioxidant protection, however.
- A supplement containing whey + casein may be your best bet for body composition improvements.
- Eating fish may improve your carbohydrate sensitivity and ultimately your body composition.
- Soy still sucks as a primary protein source
- John Berardi
There may be benefits to working out in heels, but those leg-lengtheners can also be bad news for your body. Constant heel-wearing can lead to a host of problems, from inflamed nerves to long-term joint problems. Scary stuff, right? I'm a high-heel fan, but after listening to a long explanation (read: lecture) about the horrible effects of high heels from my trainer last week, I've been trying to combat a bit of the damage. Read on for four important types of strengthening and stretching exercises for anyone who is head over heels for high heels.
- Calves: Hoofing it on heels leaves your calf muscles in a shortened position, which can mean weakened muscles when the heels come off. Remember to stretch after wearing heels in order to give those muscles relief. The classic yoga pose Downward Dog lengthens the calves, as do these simple stretches.
Find three more important areas every high-heel wearer should strengthen after the break.
- Ankles: Walking on stick-thin stiletto heels is no small feat. To help prevent a tumble and serious injury, incorporate simple exercises that strengthen your ankles, like walking on your tiptoes and doing squats on the BOSU.
- Balance: The lift you get from wearing heels also challenges your body's sense of equilibrium, which can mean a lot of muscles are working to keep you upright. This can lead to more pressure on your lower back, so add a few one-legged yoga moves to your morning routine, like Tree Pose, or trace the alphabet with one foot while standing on the other leg; this exercise strengthens the muscles around both ankles. Also focus on ab-strengthening exercises to help your body reposition itself correctly when you've been strutting around in those four-inchers.
- Achilles tendon: If you're a regular heel wearer, then switching abruptly from heels to flats can cause Achilles tendonitis — when your Achilles tendon, which attaches your calf muscle to the heel, becomes inflamed. Make sure you keep your Achilles tendon happy with a few strengthening stretches like this one: stand on a step or curb with your heels hanging off, and rise up and down on your toes.
Toning, or the appearance of lean muscle, is one of the most common goals of all gym goers. Lean muscle is appealing. It just takes a short trip through the check-out lines at the local grocery store to see all the toned, lean muscled looks of all the magazine cover models. Toned, lean muscle also has its health benefits as opposed to simply gaining muscle in bulk. Here are the essentials to helping you reach your goals of adding definition to your physique.
1. You Are What You Eat
First and foremost, let's make this clear: it doesn't matter if you do thousands of abdominal exercises, if you don't tailor your diet for the appearance of lean muscle, you won't have that washboard stomach you want. This is one of the most important principles to getting muscle tone. The lower your body fat percentage is, the more defined and vascular you will appear. Eating take out three times a week will only derail you on the path to getting that muscle tone, no matter how hard you work in the gym.
2. How You Lift It
The next key to adding definition and tone to your physique is ensuring that you have the proper training principles in place for maximum results from your workout. High-intensity training is the way you should approach your workouts to get maximum definition. You should be performing exercises for two sets for approximately 18 to 20 repetitions for a weight you can manage those 18 to 20 times. You may also want to lift in a high-intensity circuit, completing one set of 12 to 15 repetitions sequentially with little rest in between. Complete a lap of 10 to 12 exercises, and repeat for two more laps. You should be training for strength at least two to three times per week. This principle is commonly known as a "low weight, high reps."
One of the most important parts--but the one that gets overlooked the most--to maintaining a good, toned physique is adequate cardiovascular training and conditioning. Performing enough cardiovascular training will help you maintain peak physical condition. Think of a prizefighter in boxing or mixed martial arts. They put in miles and miles of "roadwork," training their cardio endurance. Come fight time, they are some of the most well defined athletes on the planet. You may want to apply the same high-intensity principle to cardio training. Usain Bolt's physique is incredible, yet he is not known for his long-distance running training.
Applying these three simple principles to your workout in the new year will help in achieving your goal of a toned, defined physique.
When you travel, do you leave your healthy habits at home? On business trips, it's easy to overdo it with carb-fest lunches and expense account dinners, sedentary meetings, and late nights at the hotel bar. (It's networking, right?) And pleasure trips are all about cutting loose, living it up. But do you really want to return home feeling worse than when you left?
A far more satisfying way to travel is to stay active, and fuel your body and mind with all the things that keep it running at its best. Try just a few changes in your travel habits and you'll be sharper and more effective on business trips, and more alert, comfortable, and energetic on vacation.
- Bring fitness DVDs for your laptop. If you're on the road for business, then you're probably carrying your laptop. Throw a fitness DVD or two into the computer bag, and pop one in first thing each morning. Do a quick workout early, and notice how much easier it is to resist the temptations of the breakfast buffet.
However, if you're on vacation, skip the computer. Aren't you trying to get away from it all? Leave the laptop and all that seated screen time back at home. Your eyes, back, and wrists need a holiday too.
- Explore the local area on foot. If you really want to get a feel for an area, the best way to see it is by walking. (Unless you're in Los Angeles. Nobody walks in L.A.) If you're on a business trip, try to schedule it so that you can walk to at least some of your meetings.
Skip the cab unless you're late, it's raining like crazy, or your destination is more than a mile or two away. And steer clear of tour buses, unless there is really no other way to visit a particular sight.
Also, avoid the hotel dining room in the morning. Instead, walk to a nearby breakfast place. You'll probably get a more satisfying meal at half the cost. You'll also see some street life on the way—businesses opening their doors, sidewalks getting swept, locals waiting for the bus or hurrying to work.
- Use the hotel gym. Some people thrive on routine. If you have a regular gym schedule that's working for you, then continue it while you're away. Keep your healthy habit going, and it won't be a struggle to get back to it when you return home. Most hotels have some sort of gym or exercise facility. Even if it's just a basement room with a couple of stationery bikes—use it!
At the other extreme, you may find that your hotel has a big, glamorous gym with machines you've never used before. It's like being a kid at a new playground! Schedule a session with a personal trainer to learn how to use the stuff, and experience your workout as a novelty, a pleasure. The hotel might also have a great sauna or steam room, and maybe they offer spa services that are new to you. Bodywork is definitely a part of keeping fit and healthy. Schedule a Thai massage, or some other kind of therapy that sounds interesting.
Travel is about experiencing the new and the novel. Apply this attitude to your exercise routine as well, and you'll find that even your same old workout in a new setting can be a treat.
- Take the stairs. This one's easy. Never, ever take the elevator, unless you're schlepping luggage. No excuses. It doesn't matter how many flights up your room is. In fact, book a high floor. Better views from the room, and more calories burned to get there!
- Discover local fitness activities. Whatever your destination, there's probably some kind of sport or physical activity that's popular in the area. Go skiing, hiking, bouldering, or climbing if you're in the mountains. At the beach, take a surfing lesson, or boogie-board, or at least get off your beach blanket and actually swim in the ocean. Those are the obvious ones, but think of others. Near a river or lake? Spend an afternoon canoeing, sailing, or rafting.
In urban parks, there are inevitably pickup games of soccer, ultimate frisbee, and basketball. Big cities are also rife with climbing gyms, martial arts dojos, a million yoga emporiums, and even dance studios. Think how much more fun your museum day would be if you capped it off with a salsa lesson!
- Rent a bike. Most major European cities—and an increasing number of American ones—have "smart bike" arrangements, with checkout stations all over town that allow users to pick up a bicycle in one location and drop it off in another. These are great for urban commuters, but are also ideal for tourists, since the services tend to be located in the busiest core of cities. Get around town on a bike and you're sure to see more of it.
Beaches and other tourist destinations almost always have rental services that allow you to take out a bike by the hour or by the day. Have you been curious to try a recumbent bicycle, or a bicycle built for two? Rent one! Take it for a spin up and down the boardwalk and see what you think.
If you're travelling by car, load up the bike rack and vow to leave the car parked once you arrive. In crowded resort towns, you'll be pleased as punch as you pedal past cranky tourists stuck in high season traffic.
- Keep one habit, no matter what. Vacations are notorious for undoing months of virtuous diet and exercise. This may have a little something to do with a steady holiday diet of fried appetizer platters and Piña Coladas. However, what really derails a healthy fitness routine is an interruption to it.
But it's a vacation! It's time for a break! True enough, but consider keeping just one healthy habit while you're away, to keep your momentum going. For example, go to bed at your normal time (if you're happy with that habit), or wake up at your normal time. If you have a yoga or meditation practice, continue doing even a very abbreviated version of it. Say, one Sun Salute without fail when you first get out of bed. Or, if you're used to a specific, healthy breakfast, keep eating it every day. Make a promise to keep one good thing going, and then follow through on that commitment. This will create a powerful sense of control and continuity that will make it easier to get back on the health and fitness wagon when you return home.
- Have a day of gluttony. Early in your trip, pick one day to totally overindulge. Eat like a starving hound. Drink like a lush. Stay up too late. Make an ass of yourself. Seriously. You have been dreaming about this holiday for months. You are livin' la vida loca!
When you wake up the next morning, notice how you feel. Don't gulp down your usual hangover remedies, whatever they may be, and don't have a big guilt trip. Simply notice what is going on with your body. Let yourself feel it. Your head is pounding, right? Your stomach feels sour. You have no energy. Everything feels awful. You want to go back to bed. Ask yourself, do I want to feel like this every morning of my vacation? Do I really have that kind of time to spare?
Later in the day when you're thinking of having a fourth Mai Tai or a second dessert, bring your mind back to what it was like when you woke up. No judgment, no worries. Just remember how you physically felt. Then make a conscious decision about whether or not you want to feel that way again tomorrow morning. If you do this on day one or two, maybe the lesson will sink in.
- Slow down and enjoy. The American lifestyle is so fast-paced, frenetic, and stressful that it can be hard to downshift into vacation mode. That go-go-go attitude can cause you to miss what's right in front of you.
Are you back for a third helping at the all-you-can-eat buffet on the pool deck, and you can't specifically recall what was on your first or second plate? Relax. There's more than enough food for everyone, and no rush for you to finish eating. Remember, you're on vacation. Slow down and enjoy whatever you're eating, whether it's "healthy" or not. Relish it. If you focus on and savor your food, you won't eat as much. That's not the reason to slow down, though. Go slow so that you can truly enjoy every single, delicious bite.
- Make your vacation an adventure. Do you really just want to sit on the beach for a week and drink? (Wait. Don't answer that.) The best way to stay fit when you're on vacation is to get out and do stuff. Tips number one through nine will help you shoehorn a little bit of wellness into any business or pleasure trip. But this last tip is the biggie, and doing this one means you won't need to bother with the others.
If you have been taking been taking good care of yourself—working out, eating right, getting enough sleep—then you have been in training for real-life adventures. Give yourself a huge reward yourself on your next holiday. Pick a fun, physically active adventure, and build a trip around it.
Cycle from Saigon to Angkor Wat, or through New England. Dive or snorkel in the blue waters of the Caribbean, or the Pacific, or the Indian Ocean. Refine your yoga practice at an ashram in India, or Costa Rica, or upstate New York. Go climbing in the Swiss Alps, or Utah, or Kentucky. Take a rafting trip down the Colorado River—or through the French countryside, where you'll float past vineyards and villages.
Are these just pipe dreams that are too expensive or complicated to be considered? Think again. If you can afford a family vacation to Disney® World, or a Caribbean cruise, or a high season week at any seaside resort, then you can afford something better. You can do something much more memorable, interesting, and active. Before you go on auto-pilot and book the usual beach holiday, think for a minute.
What's your dream? Do you want to charter a sailboat in the Mediterranean, or on the Chesapeake Bay? Have you always talked about wanting to cross-country ski in Vermont? Then do it. Go! Why else have you been clocking all those hours in the gym? You have the strength and the energy—and if you don't, you know how to train for it.
Do some internet research, and book a trip that excites you and makes you a little nervous. These are the eyes wide open, active experiences that you will remember for the rest of your life. As an added bonus (not that you need one), you'll return from an adventure vacation looking and feeling exhilarated, re-charged, inspired, and even more fit and fabulous than when you left home.
By Kim Kash
New sneakers, high-end equipment, private classes—in your quest to drop a few pounds, you may find your wallet getting thinner, too. But it is possible to get in shape without going broke. Here are a few get-fit tips that can get you results without costing you a fortune.If you can't splurge on classes . . . DO A WORKOUT DVD.
You can get a solid workout in your own living room for the price of a private yoga lesson or a few dance classes. (And, ahem, we know where you can find a few good DVDs.) The trick is to stay motivated when your comfy couch is beckoning from a few feet away. These tricks can help:
If you can't splurge on a trainer . . . HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE
- Treat your workout time like an actual class. "Schedule time in your day to work out, and stick with it," says JJ Virgin, a Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Health and Fitness Instructor.
- Even if you don't feel like pushing yourself to the limit, at least push yourself to start. "Back in the day, Beachbody's motto was 'just Push Play,'" says Steve Edwards, Head of Fitness and Nutrition Development at Beachbody®. "Once you're actually doing the workout, most people figure they might as well put some effort into it."
- Invite a friend. "A workout buddy provides accountability and makes it more fun and interesting," Virgin says.
. Personal trainers provide structure and accountability to your fitness regimen. But if it's out of your budget, here's how you can reap the same benefits on your own:
If you can't splurge on a gym membership . . . HIT THE PAVEMENT.
- Join an online community. One recent study found that women who worked out with a virtual exercise partner exercised for twice as long as their solo counterparts. The Team Beachbody® Message Boards are a great place to find motivation from fellow fitness buffs.
- Get high-tech help from goal-tracking apps and websites that allow you to monitor your progress. Team Beachbody's SuperGym® is an online health club where you can plan and track workouts, find a fitness buddy, and get advice and motivational tools.
- Take a picture. "The motivational power of 'before' photos is massive, because you're going to improve," Edwards says.
"Even when you don't feel your training is going well, you can look at where you once were and it almost always gets you moving."
Think of the great outdoors as an enormous, free cardio room. Here are a few ways to get your heart pumping—no equipment necessary.
If you can't splurge on fitness equipment . . . GET CREATIVE.
- To torch fat, do outdoor intervals."Run up a hill or stairs at top speed for up to a minute, then walk back down at your normal pace to catch your breath and recover," Virgin suggests.
- Check a map. Your local geography might offer a unique workout opportunity—are there mountains to climb, oceans to swim, or a stadium for stair running?
- Go back to the DVD rack. One more benefit of workout videos: Many of them don't require special equipment. "Some, like INSANITY®, use no equipment in the entire program," Edwards says. "Yoga is another great workout that needs no equipment, but still offers many options."
You don't need to invest in a full set of dumbbells or a weight bench to do resistance training. Here's how to build muscle on the cheap.
If you can't splurge on a nutritionist . . . LEARN TO SHOP SMART.
- Turn everyday household items into makeshift equipment—canned soup cans double as light weights, furniture can add instability, and a milk crate can work as a step. The Message Boards are the perfect place to find DIY ideas.
- If you buy a pair of weights, go heavy. "Get the heaviest set of dumbbells you can lift in good form," Virgin says. "You can do a lot with that basic equipment."
- Buy bands. "Exercise bands are cheap, light, and take up almost no space in your house," Edwards says. "All of our weight training workouts provide options to use bands—we do this to eliminate excuses." Plus, they're ideal if you want to stick to your workouts while traveling.
With a little pre-planning, you can eat well without racking up a huge grocery bill. Here's how to find nutritious foods that won't blow your budget.
- Stick to the basics. "Shop seasonal produce, lean meats, and other foods on the periphery of your grocery store," Virgin says. The center aisles are usually where packaged and processed foods are kept. Watch for sales on meat, and buy nuts or beans in bulk.
- Get informed. "Nutritionists worth their salt tend to write books. Read those," says Denis Faye, Team Beachbody's nutrition expert. Michael Pollan's Food Rules is a good place to start.
- Plan your meals ahead of time so you're not winging it when you hit the aisles. Look for apps that help you plan meals and track deals. "Make a list and stick to it—don't be swayed by unhealthy sale foods," Virgin says. And to prevent impulse purchases, she adds, "Don't go to the grocery store hungry."
By Kara Wahlgren