I’m an anomaly at the gym. I was that crazy-pregnant-woman who continued deadlifting no matter how big and low that belly got. I was that postpartum woman who showed up for a "real workout" not even 7 days postpartum. And, it was actually a bit fun to be counterculture. After all, I thrive on being “different.”
Going into pregnancy is easy. It’s not dramatic. It’s so gradual that you have time to adjust to the changes your body is going through on the outside and the inside. Hitting postpartum is anything but gradual. Within 24 hours (give or take), your body goes from bulging at the seams to loose and saggy. Just like that. If you’re a first-time mom, it’s a shocker. If this is your second (or beyond), it may not be a shocker, but it can be frustrating to get through that immediate transition period.
Anybody else guilty of mindlessly scrolling through dozens of #fitfam or #fitspo images on Instagram before wasting precious minutes nitpicking your body in front of the bathroom mirror? No matter what diet nazi and militaristic exercise routine you follow, it’s never good enough. You still have those love handles or loose skin or tummy fat or stretch marks. Been there. Done that.
If you’ve ever birthed a baby, you’ve been exactly where I am. You’ve wondered if you would ever get your body back after pregnancy. Before getting pregnant, you might have been a gym goddess with sexy, curvy abs and a physique worth coveting. But, no one really tells you what it’s like AFTER pregnancy.
Attempting to balance your hectic life and maintain an effective exercise program can often be daunting. Conjured images of mindless hours wasted on the treadmill discourage you. A session of profuse sweating in kickboxing followed by rigorous strength-training makes you feel overwhelmed. Are you required to be dubbed a “gym rat” to obtain coveted results? Is two hours of exercise the minimum requirement to reach your goals? Being allotted a maximum of 24 hours per day, you must learn how to prioritize your life to become a well-balanced individual. Each can benefit from the following tips for success.
Designate a time.
This is foremost in getting in shape for life. Everyone follows a schedule whether you realize that fact or not. The secret is to arrange your schedule in the most productive manner for YOU. If you are energetic in the mornings, choose to start your day with a few minutes of calisthenics, a brisk walk, or some body-weight exercises. Add 10 minutes to your morning or evening routine daily.
Maximize your workouts.
You may believe you must spend an hour exercising for benefited health. One technique of personal trainers and professional athletes is to perform as many exercises as possible within a limited time span. For instance, after you complete a set of dumbbell curls, immediately execute a set of triceps presses. By alternating between muscle groups instead of resting, you will be able to perform a 45-minute workout in less than 30 minutes. Your metabolism will also be revved for the remainder of the day.
Prepare ahead of time.
Make sure that your gym bag is packed the night prior to your workout. Pull together any clothes, gym equipment, and post-workout protein shakes. You will then be equipped to head to the gym, the park, or the running trails before/after work. Preparation is key to a fulfilling life.
Minor activity for major results.
When do you have a few extra minutes during your day? While sitting at your desk, perform periodic 5-minute series of chair stretches. Take a brisk walk around your workplace before eating lunch. Instead of taking the elevator, use the stairs. Park a distance from the entrance to the grocery store. There are many little steps you can take towards improving your fitness.
Effective Eating for Energy.
Ensure that you eat enough calories in the correct balance 4-6 times throughout your day. This will take some planning, as you will most likely need to pack your snacks and lunch before you leave for work. A good balance of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, lean proteins, and fruits/vegetables is required for optimum performance. Avoid that afternoon slump, as you keep your energy levels high all day.
These five tips will assist you in balancing your busy life with physical activity. Sit down with your schedule and make the necessary adjustments. No regrets will mar your emerging active lifestyle. Make each effort count towards your ultimate fitness aspirations.
Peering in the windows of the high-end neighborhood fitness center, longing wells within you to join the ranks of the fit. A dawning illumination inspires you to begin your personal exercise regimen. Since you prefer the privacy of your own home rather than sweating with workout-a-holics, creating a home fitness center is your best option. Scrutinizing your budget closely, you allocate a limited amount to purchase some quality equipment.
Flipping through various fitness outlets, the prices of equipment astound you. To acquire one machine would liquidate your cash stash. Browsing the websites advertised through the Google search engine, you are met with the same dilemma. Astronomical costs seem to prohibit you from obtaining your dream body. Going through this ordeal myself, I discovered hidden sources to reveal bargain deals on exercise equipment. Try the following three places to get the best value for your dollars.
Craigslist is my first place to check for sturdy equipment. Craigslist is a free website to post to the classifieds in a U.S. city near you. Locals will often advertise their exercise paraphernalia on this site with detailed descriptions, pictures, and pertinent information. If you find a good price on the desired equipment, contact the seller by phone or e-mail. Be sure to ask any questions you may have regarding the condition, benefits, or features of the product. Arrange for a time to view the equipment. Ensure that you bring cash with you to the appointment, in case you want to purchase the equipment immediately. You can often haggle over the price, especially if the seller is desperate to rid himself of the apparatus. This site is similar to an on-line garage sale.
If you are characterized by your friends as the ultimate cheapskate, this may be the site for you. Freecycle is an environmentally conscious website designed to keep well-used items from the landfills. Members can list for free any WANTED or OFFER items they would like to receive or discard. Local members respond to the ads via e-mail, and the respondent typically asks when he can pick up the free item. To join this site, create a personal account in the city nearest you. Once you are accepted into the community, you are supposed to list an OFFER of an item before listing a WANTED ad. Once you give away an item, list a WANTED ad with the specific exercise equipment you would like. Oftentimes, you will receive multiple responses based upon the availability of your fitness gear. The key is to respond as soon as possible in order to spare the “freecycler” from wondering. Also, check the posts for OFFER ads regularly. Again, I cannot overemphasize the importance of responding immediately.
If you are not internet-savvy, stop by your local Walmart to find the exact equipment for an unbeatable price. Walmart promises to match any advertised price from other retailers, so take advantage of this offer. Those who prefer new gadgets rather than used should search the Walmart shelves prior to any other outlet. Their selection is incredible, especially for the beginning exerciser.
These top three locations have proven to be the best sources for the economical shopper. Thrift is essential to the average American in this economy. There are several deals to find from these three sources. Get fit! Get shopping!
Controversy surrounds the topic of flexibility regarding potential benefits. Advocates of flexibility regimens promise increased range-of-motion in the joints, while opponents claim the stretching techniques only waste time with little improvement. Though most are not seeking to twist into pretzel configurations like a yogi, you do need an adequate amount of muscular elasticity for activities of daily living. As you age, your muscles require proper stimulation to remain strong and supple.
What benefits can you experience by adding a few minutes of stretching exercises to your routine? The following five are possible results from flexibility integration.
1. Reduces Muscle Tension
After performing a tough set of strength moves, you may have felt some lingering tension in your muscles. You may be familiar with concentric and eccentric movements of muscles. The concentric movement is the contraction, while the eccentric movement is the lengthening of the muscle. In essence, stretching a muscle is an exaggerated eccentric motion. Reduce your muscle tension by stretching after performing a heavy set.
2. Promotes Relaxation
Most people feel a sense of extreme relaxation when they stretch their various muscles. As your muscle elongates, you must calm yourself to stretch properly. This method of relaxation works synergistically with a strength-training or cardiovascular program to cool down your body after a taxing workout. Ten minutes of static stretching allows you to return to the resting mode necessary for muscular repair.
3. Smoother Muscle Contractions
By completing a flexibility series at the end of a workout, you will notice an enhancement in muscular contraction at the following exercise session. As time progresses, your strength-training moves will become more fluid versus jerky motions. This results from the avid practice of actively lengthening your muscle after several contractions. Try this technique: perform a stretch for the worked muscle group in between lifting sets.
4. Improves Movement
When that muscle-bound bodybuilder struts through the gym, you may mistakenly believe he is optimally fit. If you feel brave enough to approach him, ask him to reach behind his back and try to touch his fingertips on both hands. Often, he will experience difficulty performing that stretch, as he lacks the range-of-motion in that joint. By incorporating some basic stretches, he would be flexible, as well as well-built. Remember this scenario when you are tempted to skip your stretches post-workout.
5. Decreases Muscle Soreness
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) commonly afflicts the athlete and untrained individual alike. Caused by microscopic tears in the muscle from tough muscular workouts, DOMS is the sensation of soreness in recovering muscle groups. To lessen the effects of muscle soreness, be sure to stretch those muscles after a challenging session.
Enjoy the effects of flexibility training, as you enhance your range-of-motion on a regular basis. Start a 10-minute stretching routine as a cool down at the end of each workout. Anyone who performs flexibility exercise will proclaim that the benefits to a supple body are limitless.