We give our bicycles a spring tune-up in preparation for summer, so why not give them an early fall tune-up as well? Even if you live in a place with harsh winters, there are still a few good months left to head out on a long ride on your two-wheeled transport. Below are some tips for a DIY tune-up as well as advice on when to fix and when to replace various components:
What you'll need
Here are the basic tools and materials you'll need for a tune-up:
- A few old towels or cleaning cloths
- A small fine brush or old toothbrush
- A bucket with warm water and dishwashing soap
- Extra-dry bike chain lube
- Bike pump with a pressure gauge
Even if you're not a complete cycling expert, there are some easy things that don't take much expertise – just a little elbow grease:
A thorough cleaning
One of the best things you can do to get your bike looking sparkly and new and, yes, even running better, is to clean it from wheel to wheel. So, grab your bucket of warm soapy water and get started. First, check the dirt around the chain and drivetrain – you don't even have to know what that is, but it's just the center of the bike down where the pedals and gears are located. Wipe it down with a wet towel. There are a lot of nooks and crevices in this area of the bike so if yours seems particularly dirty, you might want to use a small wire brush or old toothbrush to reach all the little complicated spots. Also, if your chain seems particularly rusty, spray on a bit of WD-40 and wipe the chain down. Let the chain dry completely and then use a strong magnet to attract metal filings that might have collected there.
It's important to check your bike chain once a month to make sure the bearings are well-oiled and not grind and rubbing on each other. Before applying the lube – which keeps everything running smoothly – make sure to let the chain dry completely. To apply the lube, put a few drops or spray it on the top and bottom of the chain and run the gears. Use a towel to wipe away extra product - if you use too much, it will attract dirt and grime. A good amount of lube is when you can't see it but there's a light oil residue when you touch it.
Many avid bikers keep a chain fix kit with them at all times. If your chain happens to break, then you'll have the right tools to fix it, which usually involves taking out the broken link plus an additional link and using the chain tools to reattach the ends. Luckily, a chain break isn't a very common occurrence, but if it happens, it can usually be easily fixed.
It's really important to have a pressure gauge with your tire pump, and you should probably check your tires at least once a week to save yourself from getting a flat. The pounds per square inch (psi) will be printed on the side of the tire so you know what level it should be at. Mountain bikes usually have 40 to 80 psi and road bikes can have up to 120 psi. Most bikers put 5 to 10 less psi in their front tires since we don't put too much weight on them.
If you have a flat tire from a puncture, you can likely fix it using a patch kit. But if it's a huge hole, you'll want to replace a road bike tire and use your best judgment for a mountain bike tire. Most people would rather not risk having a blowout and a major accident and will just choose to replace the tubing!
Brakes are also something you should check frequently, but here's what you need to do for a tune-up. Look at the brake pads – if you can see the wear lines or metal peeking through, they must be replaced. If your brakes are making a weird noise, you can sand the pads down to eliminate it. Check your brake cable next – if it has rust or loose strands, you should get it replaced.
Cellulite: It's a nine-letter word that's almost unspeakable to most women. While men can have cellulite too, their bodies typically have less fat, especially on the thigh and buttocks areas, so it affects women the most. Cellulite happens when the collagen fibers in the skin stretch, pull tight or break down and fat cells bulge out, creating the dimpled effect that many of us fear and loathe. But an important thing to know about cellulite is that it isn't related to how much you weigh - it's more closely related to genetics, diet, lifestyle and hormone changes. Here are some things you can do to possibly avoid cellulite:
- Stay hydrated. Keep a water bottle with you at all times, because dehydration is bad for the cells, skin and other parts of the body.
- Avoid smoking.
- Eat plenty of fiber, veggies and fruits, and stay away from yo-yo dieting.
- Exercise frequently, especially if you have a sedentary job.
Cellulite-free cardio workout
Today, many of our jobs involve sitting in an office chair for eight hours per day. This is not good for circulation and could contribute to the development of cellulite. Thus, exercise is very important. Here's a quick cellulite-busting cardio routine:
- Romanian dead lifts, 10 repetitions: Grab some weights and, standing with your feet hip-width apart and slightly bent knees, hold the weights with your palms facing your body and slowly bend forward. Push your glutes out behind you, then tighten them and stand.
- Squat press with twist, five sets, two times each: With your feet hip-width apart and your weight lifted up by your shoulders with palms facing forward, do a squat. When you rise up, stretch your arms straight up and twist your torso to the right. Then do a set to the left.
- Around-the-clock lunges, three sets of 15: These lunges will work your hamstrings, quads, thighs and glutes – all of the areas most prone to cellulite formation. Put your hands on your hips and lunge forward – the 12 o'clock position. Then return to your standing position, before lunging to the right for 3 o'clock. Continue by lunging back to the 6 o'clock position and then to the side for 9 o'clock. Then switch to the left leg.
- Standing calf raises, 10 repetitions: Stand on a step with your heels hanging over the edge. Lift up onto the balls of your feet and hold the position for two counts before lowering your feet until your heels are just below the step. For an extra challenge, stand on one leg at time.
With the change in seasons from sticky summer humidity to fresh fall air comes the arrival of autumn sports to watch and play. Now's the time to cook up some wings, grab a few beers and settle into the comfy couch to cheer on your favorite professional and college football teams. But make sure to get out there and enjoy the breezy fall weather before it turns cold by organizing a few pick up games of your own or even joining a local league. Here are our fall sport ideas:
- Sure, you're no Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Adrian Peterson, but we're sure you've got some sweet moves of your own. Before the big game, organize a pick up football game of your own with the friends you typically watch with. You'll get pumped up, feel inspired and probably feel less guilty about indulging in your favorite greasy game foods. Make it fun by turning it into a weekly thing, with jerseys and a funny team name.
- If you're a Ronaldinho, Ronaldo or Pelé fan, get your kicks by organizing a fall soccer tournament or joining a local league. Soccer is an awesome fall sport because it's so fast-paced and requires consistent running, that the cool air of fall is a nice break from the stifling heat of summer that makes this kind of activity more strenuous. Unless you're the goalie, soccer is an amazing cardio workout because it requires 90 minutes of stopping, starting, jumping, sliding and direction changing while keeping possession of a ball – it's hard work.
- For a more laid-back fall sport, consider playing bocce ball. Though it's not a workout per say, you're at least on your feet the entire time. Bocce is an exercise in precision and strategy, and we think it's quite underrated.
For a lot of people, our motivation wanes as the cold weather creeps in – exercising outdoors is particularly challenging, and trudging to the gym seems like a chore. But winter doesn't mean the end of working out! In fact, it's still important to catch some rays when you can to get your vitamin D and stave off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Here are some great calorie-busting, muscle-building, fun outdoor winter activities to get a workout and some fresh air and sun:
- If you have kids and live in an area where it snows, sledding is the perfect exercise! Not only is it incredibly exhilarating to race down a hill at wild speeds, but it's also an excellent workout – once you get to the bottom, you have to hike up to the top to catch your thrills again.
- Even residents of Los Angeles and other warm places can enjoy ice skating at an artificial rink. Ice skating is the quintessential winter activity no matter where you live, and since it's an aerobic exercise, it's also a fabulous workout. Depending on how much you weigh, just one hour of recreational ice skating can burn between 250 and 810 calories. It's a great activity to tone your quadriceps and hamstrings, and ice skating requires the use of your abdominal and lower back muscles to keep your balance – strengthening these muscles will help you in other activities like yoga.
- Go snow boarding. Snow boarding requires supreme balance and core strength to not only stay upright on the board but successfully navigate down a hill. Plus, you're burning up to 500 calories per hour! Even taking beginners' lessons can be a great workout.
- If you live in a flatter area, try cross-country skiing. It's a total body workout – it strengthens the core and tones the arms. You can burn around 570 calories per hour cross-country skiing.
- Of all winter sports, snowshoeing has one of the biggest payoffs! You can burn up to 700 calories per hour during your snowy trek.
- Simply taking a brisk walk in the snow is also a great idea. You'll have to move quickly to keep your body warm, and keeping your balance on the ice and snow is more of a workout than taking a walk in better weather.
If you're training for a fall 5k or half marathon, you're easing back into running after a summer hiatus or you're hitting the gym to lift, now's the time to start building your fabulous fall playlist. Here are some of our best songs and why we think they are perfect for autumn:
Warm up/Cool down
- "Sunday Morning" by Maroon 5 (88 bpm) – This song is so cozy that it wraps you in an embrace reminiscent of chunky sweaters, warm apple pies and hot cocoa.
- "Brave" by Sarah Bareilles or "Roar" by Katy Perry (both 92 bpm) – Both songs are about standing up and making a change – fall is a change of seasons, so we think that works out pretty well.
- "Enchanted" by Taylor Swift (82 bpm) – "Enchanted" is for when you're seriously taking it slow, but that's OK! It's the perfect jam for a warm up or cool down jog as you pass by the enchanting fall foliage.
- "Don't Wake Me Up" by Chris Brown (128 bpm) – It's the tune you'll be singing when your covers are warm and outside the safe confines of your bed the air is chill.
- "Wake Me Up" by Avicii (124 bpm) – It's the opposite of the above song, but this end-of-summer hit is really catchy and a great fall tune as well.
- "What Doesn't Kill You" by Kelly Clarkson (116 bpm) – Though fall weather is lovely, this song will prepare you for the cooler wintry days to come, which could be downright brutal if you're exercising outside!
- "Cinema" by Benny Benassi – the Skirllex remix (144 bpm) – This song is just pure fun with an upbeat vibe. It's perfect to keep you motivated at the peak of your workout in the fall.
Fall is a great time to get out and have some family fun in the crisp air. Also, it's a time to look forward to some of the year's best holidays. Here are some great ideas for fall activities that both parents and kids will enjoy:
- Run a 5k that also has a children's fun run. It's a great way to bond, get some exercise and practice sportsmanship. Plus, autumn weather is a runner's dream!
- Go to a local farm for warm apple cider, pumpkin picking and a jaunt through the corn maze.
- Take the kids apple-picking and then bake a pie or crisp together using the fruits you've picked.
- Have the kids help rake the leaves – great exercise – and then make big piles that they can jump and play in. Don't forget to take pictures!
- Organize a neighborhood game of soccer, kickball or flag football with other families. It can even be a kids versus adults game.
- Bike to a local park for a family game of Frisbee, tag or catch.
- If Halloween is a big deal at your house, make it a spooky wonderland in preparation for the trick-or-treaters with spider webs, tombstones and other frightening decor.
- Organize a Halloween parade for all of the neighborhood families.
- Take a bike ride or walk through a local forest preserve and have a scavenger hunt, which you can organize ahead of time. Have the kids look for certain leaves and little critters.
- Head to a fall farmers market and have the kids help pick out ingredients for that night's dinner. You can cook together later, and turn up some music to make it less of a chore and more of a dance party.
- Be brave and check out a haunted house together!
Autumn brings beautiful foliage, pumpkin-flavored treats and Halloween shenanigans. But with the crisp leaves and tasty snacks also comes the first hints of cold weather. If you're an avid runner, hiker or otherwise outdoor exerciser, you'll have to switch out the spandex shorts and cute tanks for cold weather gear. If you're a long-distance runner, you probably delight in hopping off the treadmill you retreated to during the blazing summer and returning to the cooler temps, which typically allow you to breathe better. So if you're excited to get out, make sure to be prepared with these fall and winter gear essentials:
- A lightweight wind jacket is perfect for days where you want a little protection from the wind, but when it's too warm to have anything but minimal lining. Double up by purchasing a waterproof jacket that can keep you dry in the rain. These jackets are great because they're breathable.
- Since it stays darker longer in the fall months, if you run outside early in the morning or right after work it's likely that it will be dark during some point of your run. Keep yourself safe from cars and bikes by wearing reflective arm bands – they're less dorky than a head lamp (and potentially less blinding for others on the road) but still alert others to your presence in the dark.
- It's a great idea to purchase a fleece-lined compression long-sleeved top and leggings, which shouldn't be skin tight but should fit fairly close to your body. Compression gear absorbs moisture from the skin, which is very important to keep you warm in a cold environment.
- On days where you need a little more than a base layer but you want to breathe a bit, you can wear a thermal vest. For a bonus, purchase a soft shell jacket with a zip-out vest so you can have layering options.
- Warm socks are a must because if you're feet aren't warm, it can be pretty painful and distracting and lead to an unproductive workout. Purchase 100 percent cotton socks to stay warm in winter, or even wool.
- Buy gloves or mittens formulated specifically for running.
- Don't forget a warm, close-fitting hat, preferably fleece-lined! Our heads loose body faster than any other part of the body, so it's important to keep them covered. If it's not quite that cold, try a soft, lightweight headband to protect your ears from the wind.
It seems like Americans have only recently caught on to the benefits of soy and the various forms of soy protein, ranging from tempeh to roasted soybeans to soy protein powder. But in Asian countries, soybeans have been a dietary staple for more than 5,000 years, which is where the technique of fermenting the beans for miso, tempeh and tofu was developed. It wasn't until the 1700s that soy was first introduced in Europe, and then in the 1800s it was introduced in the U.S. The first mass cultivation of soybeans in the U.S. began during World War II, and today, the Midwest produces half of the world's soybean crops.
Health benefits of soy protein
Soy has many health benefits. It's high in fiber, which has been shown to be heart healthy because it sticks to cholesterol and keeps it from clogging the arteries. Additionally, soy is unique because unlike animal proteins, it combines the benefits of high fiber and high protein in one small package. Also, soy contains the essential amino acids that are vital for heart and all-around health.
Soy protein shakes
An easy way to incorporate soy into your diet for an on-the-go boost is to make delicious soy protein shakes using Naturade Total Soy Protein in Chocolate or vanilla. Simply mix 2 scoops of the Naturade protein powder with cold water or your favorite beverage, shake or mix it until smooth and you're ready to go, you can also use it as a meal replacement for weight loss. You can also blend Naturade's soy protein into a shake with fruit, oatmeal and other healthy ingredients.
Much research has shown that omega-3s are an essential nutrient for various body systems. Omega-3s are important for heart health because they can reduce the bad cholesterol in the body and lower bad fats called triglycerides. Other research has established that these essential fats can improve joint health by reducing inflammation throughout the body, which is especially important for our bodies as we age. Finally, omega-3s can improve cognition, learning and memory in both adults and children. Thus, it's vital that we try to include omega-3s in our daily diets because they aren't produced naturally by our bodies. Here are foods packed with this important fatty acid:
- Various fish and seafood are great sources of omega-3s, including rainbow trout, wild salmon, canned albacore tuna, scallops, crab, cod and the small but mighty sardines and anchovies, both of which are also excellent sustainable options. However, when choosing fish for your diet, it's important to do some research first and balance the need for omega-3s with the fact that some fish could be high in mercury, which is especially dangerous for pregnant women.
- Ground flax seed is another great omega-3 source. Add it to your morning smoothie, yogurt, oatmeal and even at dinner in pastas. Its subtle, nutty flavor will be easy to incorporate into many dishes, and it add a major kick of heart-healthy fatty acids to boot.
- Walnuts are another good source. Eat a handful for a snack, add crushed walnuts to a salad or even top your oatmeal with them. They're also packed with protein.
- Cook with soy or canola oil, or use them in your salad dressings.
It's recommended that everyone eat one omega-rich food per day, but if you have food allergies or can't for other reasons, there are more ways to get omega-3s in your foods. Try enriched eggs, available at most grocery stores, or a fish oil supplement.
When you're trying to build muscle, it's important to do it right so you'll see results and not get discouraged, especially if it's the first time you've set off on this type of fitness endeavor. The best foods are those high in protein and low in fat, because protein is the main macronutrient that builds muscle mass. Here are some of the top foods to include in your diet for building muscle:
- Eggs: These small but mighty spherical wonders are a powerhouse of nutrition. The whites are low in fat and very high in protein, which is why so many people are a fan of straight egg white omelets. But don't discount the yolks! They contain vitamins D, B6 and B12, E, folate, iron, phosphorus, riboflavin and zinc, and they also contain plenty of protein. Calorie for calorie, eggs have the highest biological value when it comes to protein intake, making them a true, underrated superfood.
- Salmon: Not only is this lean fish a great protein machine, it also improves heart health with omega-3 fatty acids. These are also important because they improve your recovery time after a major workout by decreasing the muscle-protein breakdown that occurs. Omega-3s have been shown to potentially reduce fat accumulation as well.
- Quinoa: This super grain has had a drastic rise in the popularity in the fitness community in the past few years, and for good reason. Quinoa contains essential amino acids and complex carbs, which give you sustainable energy to make it through an intense workout. The high fiber content in this nutritious grain is a great fat-buster.
- Yogurt: You'll find an excellent combination of protein and carbs here. It's not necessary to eat plain yogurt either. However, you also don't want to buy yogurt that has too much added sugar, but the types with fruit on the bottom provide a good boost of energy from insulin to keep a protein breakdown from occurring after you work out. Pack in the protein – nearly 20 grams – with Greek yogurt.
- Almonds: These crunchy nuts contain plenty of alpha-tocopherol, or vitamin E, which is an antioxidant believed to prevent free-radical damage and thus promote muscle healing. Grab a handful for an easy, high-protein snack.
- Water: Drinking enough water for muscle growth should be a no-brainer. Water keeps the entire body healthy and functioning properly.