Fitness, Nutrition

What not to do after a workout

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A few weeks back we looked at what not to do before a workout and today we’ll change gears and focus on what not to do after working out. Your post-workout routine is just as important as it’s what allows for optimal recovery which ultimately will set you up for success the next time you hit the gym. So without further ado, here are the 5 things to never do after training.

1. Skip the cooldown

After a tough training session your heart rate is elevated, your body temperature is up and your cortisol levels are higher than usual. The last thing you want to do is come to a complete stop altogether without slowing down. Think of your body like a car: when you hit the brakes all of a sudden, it’s a bit of a shock to the system. Slow down first, hop on the treadmill for some light walking and let your body cooldown.

2. Forget to stretch

Another super important thing that many people don’t do is stretch. When you workout your body releases lactic acid in the muscles which can lead to that sore, stiff and achy feeling. Static stretching allows you to release some of the acid build up to help speed recovery and prevent injury. Not to mention that stretching will also improve flexibility which will let your body go deeper into the movements when you train leading to greater gains and fat loss. Be sure to stick to static stretching post-workout where you hit each muscle group and hold each stretch for 5-10 seconds.

3. Drink caffeine

When you workout the stress hormone cortisol is released and stays elevated even after your workout. This is the one time that this is a good thing. Elevated cortisol levels help you push harder, run faster and lift heavier. That being said, after you’re done, you want to avoid any kind of stimulants that will keep your stress hormones jacked up. Keep the coffee and energy drinks to a minimum, especially after training.

4. Eat fat

Dietary fat in moderation is good for you, but it’s also very slow digesting, much more so that carbs and protein. Once you’re done exercising, your body needs to start the recovery process and fat is just too slow for the job. Your body needs fuel, fast. Save the cashews and coconut oil for another meal and go low fat instead.

5. Avoid carbs

I hope you know by now that carbohydrates are not the devil. They are incremental to post-workout recovery. When you train, you actually cause microscopic tears in the muscle tissue and repairing the damage is what leads to muscle growth and strength gains. Carbohydrates play a huge role in this. The key is to opt for fast digesting carbs that aren’t too high in fiber. Things like white rice, white potatoes, certain fruits can help get your body into recovery mode. Couple carbs with a lean protein source (a ratio of 2:1 in terms of grams of carbs to protein) and you are good to go.

So there you have it. These are the 5 simple but super important things to never do after exercising. Whatever your goal is, just keep at it. Consistency and constant progress is what will get you there and then some!

 

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Wellness

Signs you’re headed for a burnout and what to do about it

 

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Burnouts are a huge problem. More and more people are needing to go on sick leave or stress leave from work due to burnout. Running yourself ragged and pushing yourself to the max all the time seems to be the norm these days. It definitely doesn’t help to see everyone on social media and in the public eye looking like they have it all, all the time. This only enables us to put pressure on ourselves to do the same in thinking Hey, I want that too. In the quest to have everything at all times and still have it all figured out, we are all not only putting our health at risk, but also taking on too much and ultimately half-assing our way through each day.

Here are 6 signs that you are headed for a burnout

1. You are tired all the time, yet you still have trouble sleeping: During your waking hours you feel wiped, but when you finally hit the hay you’re restless and have trouble falling asleep.

2. You’re feeling down: You’re feeling sad, angry and stressed, just a total grumpy pants.

3. You’re constantly seeking out stimulants: Always feeling like you could really use a coffee or a stiff drink. That afternoon caffeine pick-me-up, is more like a steady inflow of espresso and fraps.

4. You can’t help but be on the go all the time: Continuously being in fix-it mode. Whenever a task is completed or you cross something off your never ending to-do list, your first thought is what’s next?

5. Switching off is impossible: When you finally do get some much needed downtime or try to unwind before bed, you just can’t. Your mind is wandering, you’re thinking about all of the stuff that you have to do tomorrow, going through every possible outcome of what may or may not happen.

6. You get hit with all kinds of sudden food cravings: You’re running on autopilot and suddenly you get a massive craving for cake or chips or a greasy burger. This starts to happen on a daily basis then every few hours as time goes on.

Not all hope is lost though. You may be experiencing some or all of these things, but there are plenty of simple solutions to help you get back into alignment. Start small by looking at what tasks and to-do items are not an absolute must right now. Ask yourself if it has to get done this second or if it really is an obligation. Things like your job, caring for your children, exercising and eating healthy are all non-negotiable all the time, everything else can usually be taken off your list even if only for a little while. Keep in mind that you can always go back to those least pressing matters in the future.

I know how hard it can be to do this, especially if you have some big personal goals and things that you want to achieve. Bu the reality is that w all have the same 24 hours available to us each day and if you spend those precious hours feeling like total crap then you are wasting your life. It’s ok to put some stuff on hold (for now) to take care of yourself. By doing this you make more space into your day to build up your stamina and have enough energy down the line to crush your goals. So give yourself a bit of a break today and for the next few days. Go for a walk outside with your family, meet up with a friend for lunch or just sit outside with a good book. A little downtime is the best way to get yourself back on track without pushing yourself anymore than you have to.

 

Nutrition, Recipes, Wellness

Uplevel your breakfast

antioxidant-background-berries-988865Forget the morning bagel or fruit salad, start your day off right with a super powered breakfast that will jump start your energy and help you sail through the day. Here are 3 ways to uplevel your breakfast.

Up your protein

I love bready carbs first thing in the morning as much as the next girl, but it’s super important to include a good dose of lean protein when starting out your day. Protein helps to build and repair tissue, and it also helps the body make hormones, enzymes and muscle. Aim to consume about 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass per day.

If you’re into smoothies add in a scoop of plant-based protein powder.

If you want something savory, then try out a nice scrambled tofu or seitan bacon.

Load up of veg

If you haven’t already guessed it, I love me some vegetables. I try to sneak in a much veg as possible whenever I can. Vegetables are a low-calorie way to get in tons of volume and nutrients in one shot. The micronutrients and fiber alone will not only keep you feeling full, but keep you in great health over the long haul.

The great news is that it doesn’t have to be just steamed asparagus and broccoli, you can easily add lots of veg into sweeter options too.

Try adding in some shredded zucchini into baked good or oatmeal; it’s mild flavour goes really well here.

Spinach and cucumber make a great addition to any protein packed smoothie.

For the savory lovers among you, try a breakfast sandwich or wrap using a sprouted grain option with scrambled tofu along with your favorite vegetables like arugula, grilled preppers and sautéed onions.

Add in some superfoods

Superfoods are all the rage these days and for good reason. They help your body fight free radicals, reduce inflammation and keep your heart and brain healthy. Things like blueberries, cinnamon, turmeric, goji berries, acai and spirulina can all contribute to boosting your health in an easy and effective way.

It’s so easy to add these into your breakfast too.

Blend in some blueberries, wheatgrass and cinnamon to your smoothie. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, try out ashwanghanda or spirulina powder, or grate in some turmeric and ginger root.

Another great option is to mix in some of these powdered superfoods into overnight oats and then top with goji berries.

Get your day and body going with a solid breakfast to set you up for success. These are all simple ways to boost your health without spending hours cooking and trying out new recipes (unless that’s your jam, then you do you!). Give some these super powered breakfasts a try and get ready to uplevel your health for good.

P.S. Enrolment for the Summer Shape Up is open! Click here for more information.

Nutrition

10 most hydrating foods

Summer is right around the corner and we are finally entering into warmer months with plenty of sunshine. This can only mean one thing: we need extra hydration. If you’re not into guzzling back the H2O all day long, then try out these water dense foods to keep you nice and hydrated.

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1. Cucumber: this is an obvious one. It contains 96% water. (include additional vitamin and mineral content). Try it in salads or as refreshing cold soup.

2. Celery: This crunchy veg is 95% water and is loaded with vitamins A, C and K.

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3. Radish: 95% water. This veggie tastes great on it’s own or makes a great addition to a vinegar based coleslaw.

4. Green peppers: 93% water. Loaded with antioxidants and is a great source of zeaxanthin which is compound known for protecting your eyesight . Dip it into some hummus for a nice afternoon snack.

5. Cauliflower: 92% water. Try out some cauliflower rice for a low carb, high fiber side dish.

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6. Watermelon: 91% water. One of the highest sources of lycopene (cancer fighting antioxidant). Makes a refreshing dessert or can be tossed in a salad to add a little sweet to a savory meal.

7. Spinach: 91% water. Rich in potassium, folate and vitamin E.

8. Strawberry: 91%. This smoothie staple gives great flavour to any summer beverage and adds a nice touch to overnight oats.

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9. Grapefruit: 90% water. This traditional “diet food” is so common for anyone trying to shed that extra bodyfat. It’s known for lowering LDL cholesterol and stabilizing blood sugar levels.

10. Cantalope: 90% water. ¼ of this melon gives you 100% of your daily vitamin C requirements. Blend it into a smoothie, try freezing it to make a nice sorbet or even try a chilled sweet summertime soup.

Not only will these foods keep you hydrated, but they will satisfy any craving while providing you with tons of nutrients. So instead of telling you to drink up, let’s eat up!

Nutrition, Wellness

Vegan on the cheap

I used to think that eating healthy was super expensive. When you look at the conventional foods in grocery stores versus the healthier and natural options, there definitely seems to be a price gap. This can make it that much more challenging to choose food that’s good for you instead of the convenient, prepackaged junk foods and snacks. However, eating a healthy vegan diet is far more affordable than you may realize.

 

One of the best sources of protein and complex carbohydrates comes from beans. There are so many varieties out there with so many different flavour profiles. Beans are versatile and easy to prep and incorporate into any recipe. The big bonus here is that beans are really cheap, especially if you buy them dried. Now, you may be thinking that it’s a total hassle to soak and boil them, and that it’s time consuming, but you always have the option to soak them overnight while you’re fast asleep and boil them in the morning while you’re having breakfast and getting ready for work. Make yourself a big batch ahead of time and then just freeze what you don’t need right away. You can toss any bean into a salad or cook them into a soup or stew, you can even bake with them. Add chickpeas into a blondie batter or black beans into a brownie batter for added protein and fiber. I’ve tried out both, and they are delicious.

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Eating seasonally is another great way to keep your grocery bill down, especially if it’s local. Check out farmer’s markets in your area or opt for a CSA service. This way you’ll not only be supporting local businesses, but you’ll also get to try a greater variety of fresh produce that you might not find in your grocery store.

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Here are a few examples of what’s in season during summer months:

Fruits – apricots, berries, watermelon, plums, nectarines, peaches, and grapes.

Vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, green peas, green beans, tomatoes, rapini, zucchini

Speaking of produce, during winter months when prices rise and fresh produce is less available, a great choice for you is to go with frozen produce instead. The best thing about this is that it is picked at its peak ripeness and frozen immediately which locks in the nutritional content. Many times when we buy fresh produce that’s not in season, it will be picked before it’s ripe and then transported super far just to get in our grocery stores. Ultimately this time gap between its being picked to being consumed leads to loss of nutrients. So not only are we paying more, but we’re also getting less nutrition for it. I suggest that you wait for the next sale on frozen fruits and vegetables, and load up your shopping cart and freezer. That way you’ll have plenty of options on hand, all the time.

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Another great option is to choose store brands instead of the popular name brands. Store brands are usually discounted and way cheaper, and they are essentially the exact same thing as the big name brands as well. Also, if you shop at a big box store like Costco or Sam’s Club, then you can definitely find tons of ways to save money buy buying your essential items in large quantities. This is usually my go-to for things like protein powder, oats, rice, olive and coconut oil, crushed tomatoes, almond milk and tofu. All of these are essentials in my diet and buying from these types of stores saves me a fortune.

The biggest thing to keep in mind when following a vegan diet is to focus on whole foods that you prepare yourself. Yes, it is super enticing to try all kinds of fun new things like cashew ice cream, veggie burgers and pizza, but like all prepackaged meals and snacks, they are more expensive. So save these fun treats for special occasions and treat meals.

Being a healthy vegan isn’t as daunting as you may think; there’s such a great variety of foods available to you at a reasonable price all the time. The great thing about this is that you get try so many new things and experiment with a new way of cooking. You’ll see with time how easy this can be for you, by focusing on simple ingredients and integrating a weekly meal prep into your lifestyle. With these habits you’ll be healthier and have greater stamina to tackle your day and crush it every time.