During the spring and summer, many people's motivation for hitting the gym or trails is to look healthy and toned on the beach. But when fall hits and it's time to put the shorts and swimsuits away, what's your motivation? Here are some tips for keeping the focus on exercise even after the cozy sweaters and skinny jeans are keeping you covered up:
- Set goals. If your summer goal was to look good in your bathing suit, pick something else to focus on. Did you plan a winter trip to Mexico? Do you want to tone up your arms? Do you just feel better when you get your sweaty boxing routine in every morning before work? It's important to have a central motivation, and then set several small and attainable goals along the way.
- Change it up. Fall weather calls for different activities than summer. Now that the weather is cool, maybe you can hop off the treadmill in the air conditioned gym and hit the local trails. Or instead of swimming you can switch to biking and the classes at your local gym. Workouts should be enjoyable while still challenging, so if you start to get bored, don't be afraid to venture out. If you're hesitant, invite a friend to try something new with you so you feel more comfortable.
- Keep a photo journal. Take a picture of yourself each month or every two weeks in the same workout gear. Note the differences between each picture – maybe you look a little slimmer and a lot happier! Take notes in your journal each week about what you did, if you've met your goals and what your plans for the following week are.
- Accessorize. It sounds strange when referring to exercise, but if you want to get serious, purchase gear that makes you feel seriously good. Also, if you're trying to build lean muscle, consider treating yourself to some high-quality, healthy supplements, such as VeganSmart All-In-One Nutritional Shake, which has a complete plant-based protein blend, probiotics, omega-3s and various vitamins and minerals for an excellent meal replacement.
Don't let exercise be something you dread. Try to build it into your daily routine – just as you would brush your teeth and get dressed every day, plan time to exercise every day.
If it's 3 p.m. on and you're trying to power through the last few hours of work, it can be tempting to grab another coffee. While caffeine is definitely an energy booster, it isn't always the best choice. You should also avoid candy and other simple sugars – they can give you a quick spurt of energy because they're converted more quickly, but they aren't the healthiest options and can leave you feeling tired later. The best option is to eat foods that give you a sustained energy reserve and are healthy to boot. When you need a boost, skip the coffee, cake and candy and go for one of these healthy snacks instead:
- Edamame: One cup of edamame has 8 grams of fiber, 15 grams of carbohydrates and 17 grams of protein, making it an excellent energy-boosting snack.
- Trail mix: Make your own trail mix with various dried fruits, seeds and nuts. That way, you can avoid the oils and sugars that are sometimes added to store-bought mixes. Some good options to include are almonds, walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, goji berries, raisins and dried cherries. The fats and oils in nuts provide a lot of energy, not to mention protein, and the fiber in all of the ingredients slows down the release of glucose to give you longer-lasting energy.
- Whole grain cereal: The high amount of fiber in whole grains means you'll have more energy during the day as it slows the release of glucose. For a tasty, healthy snack, layer your cereal with plain Greek yogurt and berries for a parfait that's probably easier to eat at work than a bowl of cereal and milk.
- Lentils: If you have very low iron in your body, you might frequently feel exhausted. For people with low iron levels – or anyone, really – lentils are an excellent option because 1 cup provides nearly 80 percent of your necessary daily iron intake. Iron carries oxygen through the body, which is vital in staying energized. Vitamin C maximizes your body's iron absorption, so try eating your lentils with red or green bell peppers, which are rich in vitamin C.
- Eggs: Egg yolks have been given a bad reputation, but they're rich in B-vitamins, which help convert food into energy, and also vitamin D, another important nutrient. Egg yolks do have saturated fat and cholesterol, but eating just one per day is fine. Bring a hard-boiled egg to work for a boost of energy and vitamin-fueled protein.
- Water: Staying hydrated is very important and has much to do with your energy levels. Because water transports all the nutrients in our blood and gets rid of waste, it's important for metabolizing our food and keeping us energized and refreshed. Keep a refillable water bottle on your desk at work so it's always in your line of sight. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water – typically 8 to 10 cups per day – is the basis for keeping energy levels high.
This is by far the most important and hardest skill to have when you are training the human body. Why is it so important? The body is a very complex system but it can do so much more than any of us can imagine. It does not happen overnight and it requires patience, time, consistency, proper intensity, nutrition, timing, and a great work ethic. Some people listen to their bodies and succeed and then some people listen to their inner voice and fall short of their fitness goals.
There is a certain skill that one needs to obtain to differentiate between “my body really is physically exhausted and it needs to stop working out so it can be repaired”VS. “I really just want to quit because I’m mentally tired and mentally ready to give up, but truthfully my body is not tired, it’s just in my head”. We can be our biggest hero, or biggest enemy, but self honesty and self awareness will help us accurately listen to our bodies and become mentally and physically tough. It may seem like a simple thing but you would be very surprised at how many athletes have absolutely no idea what is going on with their own bodies.
We listen to our bodies to:
- Identify injuries before they become serious.
- Figure out if we are working TOO HARD or NOT ENOUGH.
- Measure progress or decline in our fitness.
- Identify if our nutrition is adequate.
- Identify if our sleep / rest is adequate.
- Hey, you only get one body… So listen to it!
Here are some tools that can help you become more self aware of what is happening with your body.
Heart Rate Monitor (or HRM) – Helps to measure heart rate during exercise or to measure your resting heart rate. An HRM will help you maintain the proper intensity needed to obtain your specific fitness goals.
Weight Scale - Your weight is not the main factor of determining your health. BUT, a scale can provide raw data that can help you become more aware of how your body is reacting to the training you are putting your body through.
Calorie counter on your smart phone or computer - Try this! Don’t change anything and for one week and track every single calorie that you consume. Most people will be utterly shocked at the large number of calories they are consuming. Others will be shocked at the lack of calories they are consuming. Either way you can track the amount of food you are taking in and figure out if you need more or less food to increase your overall performance with your fitness goals.
I’ll leave you with this, more data equals a greater chance of success, period. Flying blind and constantly guessing will eventually lead to failure, decline, or inconsistency in your fitness performance. Inform yourself by learning to listen to your body.
Cheers and Happy Training!
I’m Dustin, and this is my son Boston… First, I’m a dad before anything else, after that I’m a 31 year old vegan expatriate Hoosier living right outside of New Orleans, LA.
On June 12th, 2011 I had a bit of a wake up call and began my road to the ironman 140.6 mile endurance event and after that I’ve got some big plans, so it won’t end there… This is my outlet to vent, rant, promote, and let everyone know what’s up.
Busy people don't often have time to eat three balanced meals daily. If you need to have lunch on the go, you might find yourself in a situation where your only option is a bag of potato chips, a handful of cereal and a candy bar. If you're a vegan, your quick lunch options are even more limited due to a restricted diet. However, there are still choices that are fast, healthy and even tasty.
One great option is the VeganSmart All-In-One Nutritional Shake, which comes in chocolate, vanilla or chai flavors. These shakes have everything you need for a great addition to your well-balanced meal, including 20 grams of non-GMO, plant-based proteins; 6 grams of dietary fiber; 200 mg of Omega-3s; 22 vitamins and minerals, including more than a full serving of vitamin B12, which can be difficult to find in a vegan diet; whole foods with natural antioxidants and flavonoids (from nine different vegetables and fruits); probiotics and digestive enzymes.
The VeganSmart nutritional shakes are also healthy because they include no trans fats, cholesterol, or artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors or preservatives. Additionally, they are gluten, dairy and soy free.
Whether you choose to use VeganSmart for a quick addition to your meal on a busy day or you hope to cut junk out of your diet by filling up on a healthy shake instead, it's a great vegan option. Mix 2 full scoops of VeganSmart into 11 ounces of cold juice, water or another beverage, then shake it up and you're done. The best thing about this nutritional shake is that it is a well-balanced option. Keep a container of it at home, at work or even in your car if you roll like that.
Doctors often warn vegans and vegetarians about the importance of getting enough protein, but having a good protein intake isn't as simple as eating a steak every now and then. The truth is that even the most avid meat eater can have too little protein in their diet, while some vegetable lovers may have too much! There are pros and cons to a diet that's high in vegetable protein as well as one that's high in animal protein, so here's what you need to know about both of these lifestyles.
Most muscles and organs are made up of proteins, as protein is responsible for nearly all of the processes that occur in the body. The body doesn't store protein, which is why it's so important to ensure that you're getting enough in your diet each day.
According to Mother Nature Network, protein is made up of amino acids, which our bodies break down to form new proteins. From there, protein allows us to build cell and muscle tissue in our bodies. It also helps with tissue repair in the event of an injury, keeps you feeling energized and contributes to healthy hair, skin and nails. The key difference between animal and vegetable protein is in their amino acid profiles and the rate at which our bodies can absorb amino acids and put them to use.
Because animal protein is more similar to protein found in the human body, it is used up more rapidly than those found in plants. Protein that comes from animals is considered to be more complete, because it contains all of the essential amino acids that the body needs to function effectively.
But despite these proteins' completeness and compatibility with the human body, there are risks associated with animal proteins. They can be high in cholesterol and fat – especially saturated fat – and a healthy diet shouldn't contain too much of either. Many animal proteins are also high in sodium.
Veggies are great because they're low in calories and fat, and packed with vitamins and minerals - but most don't contain nearly as much protein per serving as meats do. In addition, the proteins that they do contain are less complete than those found in animal meat, meaning that they don't contain all of the various amino acids that the body requires.
However, there are vegetable products that are high in protein and can act as a great substitute for meat in most vegan and vegetarian diets. FitDay reported that tofu and other soy-based products actually do contain all the essential amino acids, and can therefore be a protein-packed alternative to red meats. Additionally, lentils and other legumes are a well-rounded snack that's high in protein, iron and fiber. Beans and peas are both versatile vegetables that are full of protein and vitamins like folate and zinc that aid in cell growth. Artichokes are another veggie that's full of protein and fiber and low in calories, making them a great choice for those who don't get a lot of animal protein on a daily basis.
Finding a balance
Vegetarians and vegans need to ensure that they're getting a variety of different vegetable proteins in their diet, including nuts, legumes and grains but also fruits and vegetables. This ensures that your body is getting all of the various amino acids it needs to perform at its peak.
For meat eaters, it's important to strike a balance between animal and vegetable protein. It's a good idea to limit your intake of red meat, as it's higher in cholesterol and fat, and instead opt for fish or poultry. Vegetarians and meat eaters alike should also consider a protein meal replacement like VeganSmart All-in-One Nutritional Shake or a healthy protein-rich snack like pea protein powder to ensure that they're getting enough.
Going vegan can be an excellent choice because it makes you more conscious about the things you're eating. Here are some of the biggest health benefits of choosing to eat a vegan diet:
- A healthy vegan diet is typically rich in whole grains and legumes. These foods have a low glycemic index and are high in fiber, meaning they are digested slowly and thus keep blood sugar steady. This can help reduce cholesterol and, in turn, improve one's heart health.
- Vegans do not eat red meat (or any meat, of course), which the World Cancer Research Fund announced in a 2007 report is good for colon health.
- Vegans often have – but not always – less processed foods in their diets. Several studies have affirmed the unhealthy attributes of processed foods.
- Adherents to a vegan diet avoid all animal products, including meat, eggs, dairy and gelatin-based products. Thus, they are likely to eat less saturated fats and are more likely to have a lower cholesterol, meaning a vegan diet can boost your heart health and potentially help with weight issues.
- Vegan diets are often very high in fiber – beans, lentils, whole grains and various vegetables all pack in plenty of fiber, which is good for the body's digestive system.
Aside from the various health benefits that vegans acquire from their diets, veganism also has several more benefits for individuals and society as a whole:
- You'll save money, as grains, beans, soy and similar foods are fairly inexpensive compared to animal proteins.
- You'll do your part to reduce pollution and environmental deterioration because factory farms take more energy and resources to produce animal meats and runoff can pollute local water sources.
- You'll be contributing to animal wellbeing.
While there are clearly several individual and societal benefits to eating a vegan diet, making this change can require a lot of work at first. It takes time to plan meals that meet all of our bodies' important nutritional requirements, and restricting your food sources means you'll have to get creative. Many vegans choose to supplement their diets with a nutritional shake to make sure they are getting adequate amounts of calcium, iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D and Omega-3s, nutrients that are available in a vegan diet but not always in large enough amounts to meet the bodies' needs.
When talking about what a vegan can eat (answer: a lot of things), it's probably better to first talk about what they can't – or choose not to – eat. Without getting into the various moral or health reasons that people choose to eat vegan, here's some basic information on what vegans do and do not eat to help you if you're debating whether to meatless or not:
What vegans avoid
Basically, vegans do not eat any animal products, including products derived from animals. Most obviously, this means that vegans avoid eating beef, chicken, pork, fish and everything in between, as well as dairy products and eggs. However, many other foods contain animal products, though we often don't realize it. Here are some other items that people who are vegan often attempt to avoid and why:
- Honey: Bees are living things and they make it.
- White sugar: PETA asserts that it is made with bone char.
- Marshmallows and gummy bears: These sweets are made with gelatin that is derived from animals.
- Breads and baked goods made with butter, eggs, white sugar or whey – a dairy product.
- Beer: Believe it or not, some beers are filtered using egg whites, seashells or gelatin from fish bladders.
- Salad dressing: Many dressings use lecithin, a product from animals, to keep vinegar and oil from separating in the dressing.
- Additionally, many vegans avoid other animal products, including leather, wool, cosmetics and certain types of soap.
Though vegan diets are often low in cholesterol and fat and high in nutrients, it's good to keep in mind that not all certified vegan products, like certain junk foods, are healthy for you. Here is an idea of what vegans often eat to get important nutrients:
- Protein: lentils, peas, chickpeas, soy milk, almond milk, nuts and nut butter, whole grains, tofu
- Calcium: dark green vegetables, soy milk and orange juice fortified with calcium, tofu made with calcium sulfate
- Iron: dark green leafy vegetables, black and kidney beans, bulghur wheat, lentils, beet greens, black-eyed peas
- Vitamin B12: nutritional yeast
- Zinc: legumes, nuts and grains
- Vitamin D: fortified rice milk and soy milk
Though vegans are able to find some good sources for important nutrients, it takes a lot of time and effort to plan a well-rounded meal. Many vegans make sure they get enough B12 and calcium – two important ingredients that are often lacking in their diet – by finding a supplementary method like the VeganSmart All-In-One Nutritional Shake, which is gluten, dairy and soy-free and provides 20 grams of non-GMO protein per serving.
Protein is the building block of all the tissue in the body and may help to promote the growth of muscle. The right amount of protein may help curb hunger and can help you reach your fitness goals and get to the body weight you desire. However, there are more ways to consume protein than just through lean meats. Here are a few other ways to up your protein intake and get you on your way to better overall health:
Incorporating a protein powder into your diet is one of the best ways to increase the amount of protein your body is getting each day. One way of doing this is by making yourself a protein meal replacement. Naturade Total Soy is a meal replacement powder, available in chocolate, vanilla and strawberry flavors, that boasts an amazing taste and contains dietary fiber and protein. According to the Food & Drug Administration, 25 grams of soy protein daily added to a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. This powder is available in a tasty shake and provides an excellent source of protein.
Another easy way to amp up your protein intake is through Naturade Pea Protein Powder. This plant-based protein is derived from yellow peas and provides you with nine essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins and help to support our bones, muscles and connective tissues.
One way to start your morning off with a boost of protein is by eating eggs. This is a food that is so versatile and so easy to fit into your diet. You could use eggs as a main dish, make egg-based casseroles, egg salad sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, etc. You could even make desserts made with eggs like custard, rice pudding, cream puffs and some cakes.
Nonfat cottage cheese
Nonfat cottage cheese not only has protein, it has bone-building calcium as well. This protein-packed food pairs great with fruit for added antioxidants and can be cooked into scrambled eggs, casseroles or pasta for a creamier texture.
Milk and soy milk
We all know that milk helps to build strong bones and its protein helps to rebuild muscles. Fit Day suggested drinking a glass of milk after exercise to replenish your muscles and help them to recover after a tough workout. You could also opt to pair your milk with dinner. If you find this hard to fit into your diet, try making soups and oatmeal with milk instead of water for a sneaky way to fit in some protein.
Many people in today's fast-paced world don't have enough time to plan out their meals, and their efforts to find foods that are quick and easy often mean that they end up eating something fried and greasy. Luckily, there are many delicious "superfoods" that can aid in weight loss while helping you stay healthy. Many of these foods take little (or no) time to prepare, so they're perfect for healthy eaters on the go.
Many people are surprised to learn that avocados are healthy because they're so high in fat. Luckily, it's the good kind of fat – monosaturated fat – which can actually help your body maintain lean muscle tissue.
2. Soups with broth
While a heavy chowder or bisque won't help you shed pounds, a light, broth-based soup can be a great weight loss food. They're low in calories and high in vegetable nutrients, keeping you healthy and fit while getting your body the vitamins it needs.
Blueberries are a low-calorie, antioxidant-rich snack that's delicious to boot. Plus, they're bite sized, which makes them great for travel or as a part of your lunch at the office.
Like blueberries, apples are a great superfood because they're so compact – you can throw one in your backpack, gym bag or briefcase without worrying about Tupperware or plastic bags! They're low in calories and packed with fiber, and they may even help to prevent the buildup of belly fat.
5. Hot peppers
Not for the faint of heart, hot peppers – especially chili peppers - contain compounds called capsaicinoids that give them their fiery flavor. But in addition to their spicy taste, capsaicinoids have anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy effects. If you can take the heat, give chili peppers a try.
That instant stuff won't do you too much good as it's chock full of sugar and calories, but old-fashioned, steel-cut oats are rich in nutrients and fiber that can help you lose weight.
7. Protein shakes
If you're looking for a tasty meal that's also easy to make, try a shake! Packed with protein that can keep you lean and fill you up, a protein meal replacement can be a tasty choice for breakfast or on your way to the gym.
Eating salmon is a great way to improve your heart health. The fish is full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are one of the good fats that can lower cholesterol. Omega-3's are missing from many people's diets, and eating salmon can be a great way to fix that.
9. Nuts and seeds
Getting a little hungry between meals? Reach for some nuts or seeds. Raw, unsalted nuts are a healthy snack that can also be extremely satisfying and filling. You can also add a tablespoon of chopped nuts to many meals – a salad, for example – for a flavorful treat that's full of protein.
10. Green tea
It's always pleasant to unwind with a mug of tea, and green tea is well known for its antioxidant and anti-aging properties. But that's not all it has to offer – this particular type of tea contains catechins, which can boost metabolism and help you lose weight.
It's never good to start a work out on an empty stomach. With no food in your system, you'll have no energy to get you through the duration of your exercise. However, everyone works out at different times in the day. Some are early risers, while others are night owls and enjoy breaking a sweat in the later portion of the evening. The time you work out can help dictate what you should be eating before each workout.
If you're the kind of person that likes to roll out of bed and immediately slip into some running shoes, it's important you hit the kitchen first. But stray from a big meal of pancakes, sausage and eggs. Eating a full breakfast isn't ideal. Stick to a very light snack filled with protein and easily digestible carbs. Meal replacement smoothies are a great way to get some energy without being overly full. Try this protein meal adjusted from FitSugar for a delicious breakfast that won't slow you down during your workout:
Vanilla Almond Smoothie
Ingredients: 1/2 banana, 1/2 vanilla almond milk, 1/2 cup water, 1 scoop Naturade Total Soy Vanilla, ice, a dash of cinnamon and 1-2 drops of stevia.
Directions: Combine all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. This recipe makes one serving.
Some like to take their lunch break to work out at the office or head on over to the gym for a half hour or so. If you fall into this group, start by drinking plenty of water throughout the morning. This will keep you hydrated and full so that you're not tempted to eat a large lunch before working out. Keep it small and simple, like a whole-wheat bagel with jam, which is easy to digest and a great way to fuel your workout. It's best to eat 45 minutes to an hour before working out. If you exercise on a full stomach, you may feel sluggish and not get the results you're looking for.
Days can be busy, which leaves only the evening for you to get your workout in. This means you'll be breaking a sweat around dinner time. Dinner is often the largest meal, but if you're planning on exercising afterwards, make sure you don't overeat. One of the best dinners to have before a workout is brown rice with chicken. It's a simple dish that sits well in the stomach and has plenty of carbs and protein. Beans and lentils are also a good pre-workout snack and a great source of energy. Just remember to keep your portions small.