All Articles Tagged "exercise"
You know something that is extremely uncomfortable? Trying to wear a thick pad to a kickboxing class because your flow is at its heaviest and you just know that a tampon won’t be able to keep you from having an embarrassing leak. Not only do you look and sound like you’re walking around in a diaper, but a pad twisting and turning with you just doesn’t feel like silk on a girl’s bottom while doing all those high kicks covered in sweat. Ick.
Working out on your period while trying to deal with the more uncomfortable symptoms (the cramps, lack of energy, the heavy flow, the bloat) can be tough, but that doesn’t mean you have to interrupt your regularly-scheduled program and stay in the house on the couch eating sweets or salts instead. In fact, studies have found that women on their period feel better when they get moving. So how can you keep going hard and not be slowed down by your menstrual cycle? Here are five things to keep in mind:
Change Up Your Workout
You might want to slow up on the fast-paced workouts and opt for something a little less aggressive–like yoga (be careful with inversions, though…). Of course, it’s a slower-paced workout, and experts say that exercises requiring you to lie on your stomach are helpful regarding cramps. So poses, like bow pose, child’s pose, and even reclining twist pose can go a long way.
Change Up Your Protection
Experts highly recommend products like the Diva Cup. And these days, menstruation-absorption underwear seem to be all the rage as well, especially since the creators behind Thinx underwear include former female athletes who know what it’s like to struggle to play Division I sports while on your period. But if you aren’t entirely comfortable with things like that, many women hit their local workout facilities with a tampon and pantiliner on. Double the protection may not mean double the comfort, but at least you have double the peace of mind.
Go For Comfortable Clothes
Dress in dark colors, of course. And while tights are all the rage at the gym, you don’t want to wear anything that will make it oh so obvious that you’ve had an accident if you do happen to leak. Also, super tight bottoms can just make you feel like your lady business is suffocating. Looser pants can help with both issues, as well as looser tops, which can help you deal with a tight, bloated stomach.
Increase Your Water Intake
Throwing back the water can not only help you deal with cramps but also keep you from feeling especially faint or dealing with the headaches that can sometimes come about when your period starts.
Know When To Sit Down Somewhere
Yes, you should work out on your period. It helps you deal with issues of fatigue and gives a sluggish body that boost of energy. However, there is a difference between working out when you’re feeling like you’d rather just couch potato it up, and trying to force yourself to work out when you feel like crap. If your cramps are debilitating and you literally don’t have much energy, give your body the rest it’s seeking. But if you are determined to get moving, taking some ibuprofen and going for a light walk could do a bloated body good.
When you secretly (or not so secretly) hate going to the gym, getting your health where you want it to be can be a serious obstacle. It’s really hard to get the recommended more than two hours a week when you hate every minute of it. And putting in extra hours to get added weight off? Forget about it.
If good health and consistent exercise are things on your agenda that have been escaping you for too long, it might be time to change the way you look at working out. There’s a way to look forward to getting a workout in most days of the week.
And it’s not all about focusing on the positive. Work out the right way and you can trick your brain into loving it when you work up a sweat.
Get An Exercise High
Don’t stop your daily cardio until you feel that runner’s high that people are always talking about.
Those endorphins not only feel great, but they’re also addictive. Give yourself a daily dose and you’ll soon be craving it enough to make going to the gym a serious habit.
I’m a big American Ninja Warrior fan. Seen it?
It’s the show where people from all walks of life (usually physically fit people) take part in a sick obstacle course filled with the most complicated contraptions meant to trip you up, slip you up, or, if you’re lucky, make you feel like the ultimate badass when you conquer them.
But something that just might be up my alley, and yours as well, is the Mudderella event, taking place around the country this summer and abroad in the fall and winter. Mudderella is a five to seven-mile long obstacle course for women. Did I mention it’s a muddy one? Hence the name.
Inspired by the Tough Mudder obstacle courses, which are 10-12 miles long and were designed by British Special Forces just to make things as complicated as possible, Mudderella is for women, by women. It’s more about challenging you while creating bonds between women–the ones you sign up for the course with, as well as the many other ladies who come out to see what they can do.
There are 12-15 obstacles that you can go through at your own speed. And no worries, you can even stop to take a break when you need to, and even skip certain obstacles if they’re not your cup of tea. For instance, you wouldn’t take part in the water course if you know good and well you can’t even float.
But for the most part, it’s not too complicated and is about testing your strength and willpower.
As someone who has been training for some kind of marathon for the last few months, I was excited when I received the invitation to check out a training session for media to prepare for the New York/New Jersey Mudderella event on June 18. And while the session was pitched as just a laid-back workout that would involve some lower body, core, and upper-body exercises, I was left sweating after the many sets and reps. Laid back my butt…
But at the same time, I left the event feeling great, and also feeling very motivated to attend the event in New Jersey this summer. So, I’m going to bring a girlfriend along to run, jump, crawl and triumph in some mud.
Until then, I’m going to keep training. While I do work out a few times a week at an intense pace by myself, Mudderella also offers free training sessions (in some cities) to help prospective participants get ready. And they have an intensive training program you can try on their website.
So will you be there on June 18 in New Jersey? Or Chicago on June 4? Or how about in New England on July 30? Or maybe Toronto on August 27?
They have some pretty affordable prices going on right now for entry on the website, as well as a peek at the tough additions to the obstacle course this year.
In the meantime, check out a few pics of me getting my workout in at the training event. And best believe I’ll have a recap for you after the event on the 18th. Stay tuned…
During our morning conversation about life struggles and triumphs over Coke Zero and fruit snacks, a colleague of mine was telling me about the success she was having with a new diet. After making a commitment to bringing more lunches than buying them as well as generally watching her intake of calories daily, she had triumphantly lost four pounds in a little over a week. But with the success of shedding a few pounds towards her goal came one thing she wasn’t expecting: bad breath.
Over the past few days, her husband made mention consistently of her breath smelling a bit on the sour side. Just this morning, after giving him a kiss on her way to work, he couldn’t help himself: “Maybe get some sugar-free gum on the way home?”
She asked me if I had experienced less than fresh breath while working on my own weight-loss goals over the past year, and when I thought back on it, I actually had. While fasting at the beginning and the end of 2015 for 21 days (Daniel Fast: no meat, no sugar, no bread–pretty much nothing but fruits and veggies), my breath was kicking like Bruce Lee and Bruce Leroy combined. And because sugar-free gum has sugar substitutes that I was afraid would put me in violation of the fast’s rules, I decided to avoid it and breath mints altogether. Safe to say, lemon water was not helping my hit breath. But thankfully, my fiancé, who eats a lot of fish and onion, knew better than to say anything…
So what’s the deal? Why do some diets cause some of us to have harsher breath than we normally would?
According to experts, you can blame it on ketones. They’re a chemical released through the breath and the urine when your body is burning fat, and can cause both your urine and breath to be a bit on the strong side. And many popular diets, like the Atkins diet, are all about easing up on carbs. Ketogenic diets encourage your system to get its energy by burning fat instead of relying on your consumption of heavy carbs.
Kenneth Burrell, DDS, of the American Dental Association told WebMD that scrubbing your tongue, and going hard with hydrogen peroxide won’t fix your oral issues as you diet. And while low-carb diets are great for helping people to lose weight, introducing some carbs back into your diet is pretty much the only way to avoid a smelly mouth altogether–according to him.
But other experts say that drinking water throughout the day (don’t forget to put some lemon in there) and keeping some sugarless mints or gum in your bag is the way to go when you want to stick to a low-carb diet that has been working, but not emanate a sour odor from your mouth.
It’s interesting. People tell you the big ways in which your body goes through changes when you decide to commit to losing weight, but they rarely say anything about the small — and stinky — ways.
Deciding to go back to the gym wasn’t an easy decision for me. I’d damaged a tendon in my knee during the Philadelphia half-marathon, and the pain sent me to the couch (where I decided to stay for about three years).
To get back on track, I needed help. I loved my hardcore lady trainer, and we’d become friends over the years, but I grew up with a brother and have always thrived in competition with guys. I decided, this time around, I’d work with a man. I’d been through this with my friends: scouring Instagram to find beautiful male personal trainers who looked like they could crush me with their arms, but they weren’t for me. I didn’t want to be distracted by a good-looking personal trainer. I didn’t want to worry about sweating too much or feel embarrassed if I farted during my ab workout (it happens).
This was a gift I was giving to myself. I wanted to focus on me.
With all of these thoughts, I went to my local gym and picked the trainer with credentials that seemed perfect. We’ll call him Frank, a former football player who specialized in rehabilitating runners with knee injuries. He was significantly older than I and looked it. The front desk woman told me everyone loved his Southern hospitality, and a quick Google search uncovered that he was also an off-Broadway actor who’d been happily married for over 20 years.
He felt right, but I discovered I was wrong…
Almost every woman I know is subjected to some form of harassment daily. Whether she’s being cat-called on the street or stared down in the supermarket, we often have to ignore the unwelcome advances of men. As a result, the hairs on our neck are attuned to the subtle (and not-so-subtle) advances of strangers.
When Frank’s texts became one too many smiley-face emojis before our first session, I grew uneasy. When he complimented my body and told me I didn’t need to lose any weight, I tried to convince myself that he was just attempting to be encouraging. When he tried to help me lift the weights, I became irritated because that’s just not beneficial (and also because I was struggling to lift 30 pounds by myself). When he slid his hand a bit too low while helping me into a stretch, I became confused.
By our third session, which he closed with a hug, I was weirded out.
“My trainer is a bit too touchy,” I told a friend. “You know I don’t like to be touched.”
“You should say something,” she said in response.
“Nah, I’m probably tripping. You know how I just hate being touched.”
It wasn’t until the phone calls, and text messages started, that I understood what my gut already knew.
“I try to keep it professional,” he said in a text message, “but if I wasn’t married, I think we’d be together.”
I searched my mind: Was I too friendly? Did I send the wrong message? The truth is, I should be able to joke and laugh with my personal trainer. So, at that moment, while he was waiting for a response, I owned the fact that there was nothing I could’ve done to avoid the situation. If I’d worn sweats instead of leggings, if I’d smiled less and been a little colder, the result would’ve been the same. I’m also not stupid enough to think I am special. I’m sure he’s done something like this to all his female clients.
I waited a few days before responding:
“Hey, just wanna give you a heads up. I’m terminating our training.”
He apologized, and I informed him that I wouldn’t accept. Instead, I told him that during the five block walk that it takes to get from my apartment to the gym, I’m propositioned by men between almost daily. I informed him that while men will accost me everywhere, I won’t bite my tongue in the presence of someone in my employ.
“Is there anything I can do?” he asked.
“We’re done here,” I texted back.
He had proven what I sensed from his first text: He was a creeper who exploits the trust of his clients.
Ultimately, it was enough for me to terminate my relationship with my trainer without coming for his job. Trust me; I thought about it several times. Maybe I’m a punk, but in the end, I felt that if I lodged a formal complaint, I’d have to switch gyms. I didn’t want that. I like my gym. Maybe this was an inherently selfish choice, but I felt like it was enough for me to remove myself from that situation. I felt like karma would do the rest of the work. And in the end, that proved to true. He was only in the gym for a few more weeks before he up and disappeared from it.
There’s no moral to this story. I’m not entirely sure I even did the best I could do in this situation, but I wanted to tell my story because I want anyone who has dealt with this to know that it’s not okay. Whatever course of action feels right for you, take it. And know this: If your trainer tries it, you don’t have to let it slide. Of all the quietly destructive things we do on a daily basis, getting your health together is such a positive step. You deserve to feel safe as you work toward inner and outer transformation.
Not all bras are created equal, ladies. And while we would all love to wear that one sports bra we bought to just about every fitness class that makes our eyes light up on the gym schedule so we can save money, the bra you wear to jump around in kickboxing class may be too uncomfortable for pilates. That bra for yoga may not provide enough support for Zumba. That bra for running around the block could be too much for cycling. Of course, when you’re just trying to get into working out, any bra will do, per se, but the more you find yourself becoming a gym and fitness fiend, the more you will need to expand your sports bra horizons.
Check out six sports bra for six different workouts that require totally different types of support.
Keep It Basic
Yoga – I love a good yoga class, but my maximum support bra is a little too bulky for even the simplest of moves. So a simple, classic padded sports bra with a racerback design is a great alternative. It provides some support without feeling like it’s in the way. This Under Armour bra ($34.99) is a great option, as well as the selections below:
Nike Victory Shape Bra ($42)
Keep It Cute, But Cover ‘Em Up
Zumba – A maximum support bra is the way to go for women with larger breasts, but medium support could do the trick and feel less restrictive if you’re in the C range and smaller. A bra with a high neckline and wide double straps is ideal for supporting your every move, plus, you could actually wear it as a top when you break it down in class. This Zella bra ($34.84) with its breathable mesh insets for air ventilation is a great option, and so are the selections below:
H&M Sports Bra ($24.99)
Hold ‘Em Down
Running – No workout probably requires as much consistent bounce (and support from head to toe) than running. So maximum support it is! You need a bra with molded cups that will help control bounce, as well as one that will help keep you dry. Look no further than the Nike Pro Rival ($55), one of my favorite bras, known for its fantastic design (it won’t fall apart no matter how much you wash and wear it), sweat-wicking material, compression-molded fit and excellent wire-free support. If this design isn’t for you, check out the following options:
Reebok Les Mills High Impact Bra ($57.98)
Strong Support For A Strong Woman
Weight Training – Nobody is making CrossFit gear like Reebok. So whether you’re flipping tires around or doing deadlifts and cleans at the gym, you need a bra that will support you, but that won’t get in the way of you pumping iron. A bra that will keep you dry but will also stretch and support you at the same time. Check out Reebok’s High Impact Mix It Up bra ($70) for a great option that provides exceptional support, has odor control, comes in a funky print and color, and also covers you up to keep people focused on your muscles and not your ladybits. Need more suggestions? Check out these other options:
Reebok Crossfit Front Rack Bra ($39.97)
“Roll” With The Punches
Cycling – A good bra for when your spinning instructor tells you that you have “one more” uphill song to go, and you need to focus on maintaining your energy (and not passing out), not what your chest is doing. A unique, relaxed neckline won’t have you concerned with your support during class, and the right quick dry fabric won’t leave you worried about all those sweat beads moving. If you want something that can do all that, but could also double as a top, this affordable medium-impact bra from Calvin Klein ($29.99) with its cutouts and varying color options is the way to go. If not, there are also these options:
The Perfect Teammate To Cover Your Back–And Chest
Team Sports – Down for a pickup game of basketball? Want to give sand volleyball a chance? Or how about running up and down the tennis court with your friends? Maximum support, sis. You need something to move with you, and that is all about performance. Check out Victoria’s Secret’s front-close sports bra ($49.50) with its wireless design, memory-fit padding, interchangeable straps, and easy front-zip option. If you’re not here for that, there are always these choices below. Happy working out!
Under Armour High Sports Bra ($54.99)
Lane Bryant Molded Underwire Sports Bra ($44-$54)
Have cankles? Just want to give your calf muscles some definition before it’s time for summer shorts and skirts? Well, then you have to get to work, folks. The Misty Copelands and Serena Williamses of the world didn’t get their taut lower legs overnight. But with the right training, your calf muscles will be popping in no time. Try these five exercises on for size to get started on transforming your calves from basic to brawny.
Assisted Pistol Squat
The original unassisted pistol squat takes time (and a strong core) to perfect, but the assisted pistol squat version is also a great move to execute for those calves. Stand in front of whatever will hold your weight (maybe a pole or door). Hold onto that object and lower yourself with one leg squatted, foot flat on the floor. The other leg kicked straight out. Use the pole to pull yourself back up to the starting position and repeat.
Okay, maybe don’t stomp on the Stairmaster like this woman–unless your playlist is just oh so stomp-worthy.
If your gym doesn’t have a Stairmaster, don’t be afraid to use whatever stairs are available to you–at work or in your home. If not in your workout facility, tilt your upper body over and step up from stair to stair using the balls of your feet. Once you get to the top, run back down and repeat.
If at the gym, I wouldn’t recommend not holding on to the side bars, so utilize those. I would also recommend trying a fat-burning setting or interval setting that changes speed and resistance so you can get the most bang for your buck. And wear tops that are good for wicking sweat. Trust me; you’ll need them.
It’s a time warp back to elementary school gym class. These are not fun, I know, but they are great for a little bit of everything, including your calves.
Get yourself in plank position with your shoulders over your hands and your weight back on your toes. Bring your knees up to your chest, one knee at a time, with toes coming up slightly off of the ground as you hop back and forth. Keep switching and making sure your weight is on your toes.
I recommend standing calf raises. If you don’t feel up to using weights just yet, get on a stair, step or use a chair (the latter for support) to lift up to the balls (almost the toes) of your feet, as high as you can. Return to the starting position.
If you want a challenge, get some dumbbells in your hands to help with resistance.
Traditional forward lunges, as well as backward lunges, go a long way, ladies.
Keep your upper body straight up and your shoulders back and engage your core. Step forward, one leg at a time, and then lower your hips until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. But ensure that your front knee is directly above your ankle and not sitting out above your toes. Step back into the starting position and keep your weight on the heels. If you want an extra challenge, when you step forward, you could lift your front foot up onto the ball with your heel up. Or, you could always just use dumbbells as you go through the move.
Don’t believe the hype. If you give weight training a try, you won’t pack on enough muscle to look like the Black, female and fabulous version of Hulk Hogan (Unless that’s what you want to look like. In that case, sip your protein drinks and get to lifting, honey!). But it’s often that misconception that has kept some women from venturing to the free weight racks, the kettlebells, the medicine balls, barbells and more. But as more and more women are stepping forward and embracing going for strength instead of going for skinny, they’re inspiring others not to be afraid to tone and tighten up. So for those who are interested in having a little more muscle but don’t know where to start in the gym, here are five exercises that are not too basic, not too difficult, but just right for a strength training novice.
With your feet hip-width apart, hinge forward from the hips, bringing the kettlebell low between your legs. Swing the kettlebell forward from in between your legs, and as you pull it up to the front of your chest, tighten your abs at the kettlebell’s highest point. That’s one. Hop to three sets of between 6 and 10 reps. Kettlebell swings are great for hips, glutes, hamstrings, core, chest and lats.
*Bonus: One-Armed Kettlebell Swings
If you want to ramp things up, go the one-arm route. I would recommend starting with a reasonable amount when it comes to the kettlebell weight. Nothing too heavy early on.
Stand shoulder-width apart. As you squat down low, knees and toes pointed out, keep your back straight and dip the kettlebell between your legs (hands gripped around the top). As you come back up, keep your arm strong as you lift the kettlebell up with one hand over your shoulder. Repeat and then switch to the other arm halfway through. Between 6-10 reps on each side in a set of three goes a long way.
Goblet Low Squats
It’s called the goblet squat based on the way you hold the weight in front of your chest with your hands cupped. Hold it vertically and keep it close to your chest. With your elbows down, lower into a deep squat and let your elbows go down into the inside of your thighs. Come back up strong and repeat. Again, six to 10 reps in three sets. This move does strengthen the legs, as well as the core (if you keep your back straight), shoulders and arms.
Reverse lunges are already pretty complicated. But add a medicine ball and your body is getting quite the workout.
Stand with a medicine ball in front of you, elbows bent. Brace your core and then step backward, dropping your hips, bending your back knee, and allowing that bent leg to come parallel to the floor. As you bend down, raise your arms, and the medicine ball, above your head and then return to the starting position. Do between six to 10 reps before switching legs, and do three sets. This workout is good for your hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, core and shoulders.
Bent-Over Reverse Fly
It’s a shoulder exercise for the ages. But if you lift a leg up while you do the reverse fly, it can also be great for your core and quads.
Grasp a pair of dumbbells with your palms facing each other and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend one knee slightly while lifting the other leg off the ground and bending it, and then lean your torso forward, bending at the waist. Facing forward, lift your arms up 90 degrees to your sides with your elbows slightly bent. Squeeze your shoulder blades together briefly at the height of bringing the weights up before returning to the starting position.
Begin with the barbell on the floor with the reasonable weights of your choice on each side and your feet slightly underneath the bar. With your feet hip-width apart, grab the bar with your arms shoulder-width apart and as you raise up, bend your knees. Lift up, including your chest, and straighten your back, bringing the barbell up to your thighs. Don’t squeeze your shoulder blades, just pull up, and once you’re standing up straight, lock your hips and knees. Hold the position before returning the weight to the floor by pushing your hips and butt back and bending down. This one is good for the back muscles, glutes, abs, forearms and legs.
Getting a good workout in isn’t always about running on the treadmill for an extended period, going bananas on an elliptical machine or two-stepping in class for 45 minutes. Some of the best sweat sessions come from doing weight training. That includes lifting free weights, throwing around a medicine ball, integrating a kettlebell into your workout or using machines that are all about increasing your output with the help of stacked weights. Many fitness experts say that weight training can be better than cardio since you continue burning calories even after you finish lifting weights, but if you integrate both into your workout? Results on fleek.
And while getting your flex on is great, it can do a doozy on your hands. A few too many callouses can actually make lifting a pain in the butt. But the best way to enjoy your reps and go harder than before is to equip yourself with some gloves. And they don’t have to be the less-than-desirable ones you see guys using at the gym. There are actually quite a few that are ornate and fun and available for an affordable price. (And we all know that the more fun you have with your workout clothes and accessories, the more inspiration you have to go.) Here are a few that have caught our eyes and could probably help you do some damage on that weight rack–in style.
Wonder Woman Gloves – $55
Nobody is more badass than Wonder Woman. Embody her fierceness when you attack that 12-pound set of free weights. Your strength and your gloves will have everyone staring.
Nike Fit Training Gloves – $19.99
Do battle while getting your chest press on in these pink and black camouflage-print gloves. Very cute and feisty at the same time.
Under Armour UA Flux Training Gloves – $22.99
Need a lot more support but not so much flash? Get with these Under Armour gloves that have a moisture transport system to keep your hands dry and light. If purple isn’t your thing, there are plenty of color options.
Have a quirky personality but play no games in the weight room? These Sweaty Betty weight training gloves are perfect for your personality. They do run a little tight around the fingers, though, so be sure to ditch your rings before your workout.
FitFour Gripper Gloves – $24.99
Want to protect your hands but don’t want so much coverage? Ditch full gloves and replace them with these grippers by FitFour. With its honeycomb design, you can maximize your grip while reducing your chances of having to deal with those pesky callouses. Score!
Is your scale always right about the amount of weight you’ve lost? It depends on how you use it.
When you’re on a diet, the scale becomes your frenemy. It calls you out when you’ve been cheating on your diet, shows you when you’ve made progress, and sometimes gives you a reading that you know can’t be right. And sometimes it isn’t.
The key to making your scale a more faithful friend is to know how to use it the right way. When you’re eager to see progress, hopping on any scale once or twice a day may seem like a good idea. But most of us are weighing ourselves all wrong. And when you don’t use a scale the right way, false readings and fake gains can make you lose faith in your diet.
Before you let the numbers make you feel bad about your diet effort, read on to find out about the right way to use a scale to get a good gauge of your weight loss.