Dr. Phil Shares: Should You Work Out With a Cold?

Should You Work Out With a Cold?

When you’re feeling under the weather, does activity help or hinder?

Most experts agree you can still work out when you’re sick — as long as you listen to your body and not push it.

Keep in mind, everyone’s tolerance level for colds and sniffles varies — one person feels like they can sustain a normal workout routine, while another feels too draggy to even consider it.

“Studies show that exercise is beneficial because it can boost your immune system before, during and after sickness,” says Nicola Finely, M.D., integrative medicine specialist at Canyon Ranch in Tucson.

Note: If you have a chronic health condition, such as asthma, you may want to consult your doctor first before exerting yourself.

Does Exercise Boost the Immune System?

“Exercise allows your white blood cells to circulate faster throughout the body, and white blood cells are the immune warriors that fight off infections,” explains Finely.

The American College of Sports Medicine backs that up, too, stating that regular and moderate exercise lowers the risk for respiratory infections and that consistent exercise can enhance health and help prevent disease.

In one study in the American Journal of Medicine, women who walked for 30 minutes every day for a year had only half the number of colds as those who didn’t bust a move.

Working out almost daily at a moderate pace can help keep your immune system strong.

But overtraining and pushing yourself too hard for too long can decrease the levels of IgA, which are antibodies on the mucosal membranes, such as the respiratory tract. These antibodies are needed to battle bacteria and viruses.

According to The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), moderate physical activity done every day, such as yoga or jogging, is the most effective way to keep the immune system strong.

Should-You-Work-Out-With-a-Cold

Experts Recommend Exercising With a Cold If:

  •  You have a garden-variety cold but no fever. Exercise can help relieve you from stuffiness by opening up your nasal passages, says the Mayo Clinic.
  •  Your symptoms are above the neck like a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing or a slight sore throat.

“Keep the intensity at a moderate-to-low pace,” cautions Finely.

For example, if you typically go for a 30-minute run every day, take a brisk walk instead. And if you start to feel worse with exercising, then you should stop, she says.

Skip Exercise With a Cold If:

  •  You have a fever, discomfort in your chest, or difficulty breathing.
  • Your symptoms are below the neck, such as chest congestion, a hacking cough or an upset stomach.
  • You’re tired, you’re running a fever, or you’re especially achy. “I’d suggest any patient refrain from exercise if fever is higher than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Finely, who points out that a fever is considered any temperature over 100 F. Exercising during this time increases the risk of dehydration, and can worsen or lengthen the duration of your cold, she explains.

A 2014 study in the journal Sports Health found that fever can have harmful effects on muscular strength and endurance.

There’s no great advantage in tiring yourself out when you’re feeling ill. After all, you don’t want to risk making yourself sicker, and taking a few days off shouldn’t affect your overall performance. “When you get back to exercise, make sure to gradually increase your level as you begin to feel better,” Finely advises.

Exercising during a cold can be beneficial, but don’t push it.

Remember, it can help flush bacteria out of your lungs and airways and reduce your overall chances of getting a cold in the first place.

The important thing is to listen to your body.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 5 Quick + Easy Ways To Incorporate Wellness Into Your Week

With all of the go, go, go that comes with being a busy, working woman, sometimes our own health falls to the wayside. We get it, not everyone has the time to hit a two-hour Pilates class every day…we certainly don’t! We’re all about striking a balance here and figuring out simple ways to improve our health on the daily. Let’s keep it simple and dive right into our five quick and easy wellness tips to improve your week.

easy wellness tips

Increase Your Intake of Hydrating Foods

Every wellness article you read is going to tell you to drink your body weight in water, and you should! But just in case you’re not the best at guzzling gallons of water in one sitting, try snacking on it! Foods like cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes and zucchinis are about 95 percent water. Increase your intake of these tasty snacks and you’ll kill two birds with one stone. We also love mixing in a shot of this hydrating inner beauty boost into our water!

Micro-Dose Your Vitamin D

Set a timer on your phone, write it on your to-do list, do whatever you need to do to incorporate fresh air into your day. Before lunch each day, head outside for a 15-minute walk and soak up the sunshine. Fifteen minutes may not sound like much, but it’s enough to get your blood pumping and also shift your mindset. Pencil in a minimum of one walk per day, but if you can swing more, do it!

Eat Mindfully

So many of us (*guilty hand raised*) eat like it’s just something else to check off our to-do list. We often eat our lunch at our desk in front of a computer, or at home in front of the television. This often leads to overeating or mindless snacking! When it’s time to eat a meal, choose somewhere intentional to sit that doesn’t involve devices with screens. This will help you feel mindful as you eat, breathing between bites, and taking note of when your body is satisfied.

Try Dry Brushing

Never heard of dry brushing? It has a surprising number of benefits, including lymphatic system stimulation. The lymphatic system is responsible for collecting and transporting waste to the blood. Dry brushing can stimulate the lymphatic system as it stimulates and invigorates the skin. It helps with everything from improving the appearance of skin to supporting digestion. Try our favorite brush here

Do Bedtime Yoga

This is one of our favorite ways to end the day. You literally do yoga in your bed, what could be more relaxing? We follow this routine, but feel free to find one that you look forward to doing each night!

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 10 of the Best (and Worst) Workout Buddy Types

10 of the Best (and Worst) Workout Buddy Types

rward… but there are more soulmates in your life than just your spouse.

There’s your work husband/wife — that person in your office whom you tell everything. Then you have your book club bestie who loves the same characters and hates the same novels you do. And of course, your workout buddy — the one who keeps you on track with your meal preps and daily sweat sessions.

“When figuring out who your workout buddy is going to be for Double Time, choose someone you care about,” says Tony Horton. “You can choose a friend, a co-worker, or a family member. Double Time is also a great way to promote an active lifestyle for your family and have some fun bonding time with your kids.”

You’ll be spending a lot of time with your workout buddy, so it’s best to choose wisely. There are certain qualities that your buddy should possess—and a few you want to avoid at all cost. Here’s a guide to the different workout buddies you’ll encounter, and the best attributes of a true swolemate.

1. The Cardio Fanatic

“Wanna spin? Kickbox? Dance? Maybe go for a run?”

She’s always up for an energizing class — it doesn’t matter what it is as long as it gets the heart pumping and the sweat pouring. It’s beyond motivating to be moving and grooving next to this Energizer bunny — if your spirits are sagging, he’ll keep you going.

2. The Debbie Downer

Saturday Night Live Snl GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Studies actually show that social interaction plays an important role in your interest in an activity, even beyond experience of the activity itself. So make sure you not only find an activity you like, but a partner you favor, too.

3. The Constant Chatter Box

Trying to maintain a conversation while you’re lifting weights or powering through a cardio routine is no easy task. You don’t want to be rude and ignore the Chatty Cathy, but forcing yourself to respond can prevent you from getting the most out of your workout.

In fact, an inner dialog can be more helpful to your workouts than having someone else talk your ear off. This tactic, called “self-talk,” is useful for both motivational (i.e., mastery and drive) and cognitive (i.e., skill-specific and general) purposes, according to a study in the Journal of Psychological Sport and Exercise. So don’t let someone else’s talk get in the way of crushing your PR.

4. The Friendly Competitor

It doesn’t hurt if your workout partner is a bit competitive. A study of head-to-head cycling competition showed that it encourages participants to increase their performance. Having some friendly competition in the weight room or on the track will push you to be better than you thought you could be on your own.

5. The Flake

You make plans to go running at 7 a.m., but it’s 15 minutes past the hour and they’re still fast asleep. If only you had a dollar for every time The Flake has stood you up. It’s important to recognize these people for what they are — enthusiastic, fun friends who, when they do show up, add a lot to your workout. But they’re not people you can count on. So invite them to join, as long as you have someone else whom you can really rely on to be your workout buddy for the day.

6. The Muscle Head

He knows the best pre-workout supplements to improve your performance. She can tell you the difference between your gluteus maximus and your adductor longus — and which exercises work each. This buddy is a terrific partner, but only if you’re willing to put up with all the technical jargon.

7. The Drama Queen

There’s always something wrong with this workout buddy — the room is too warm or it’s too drafty. The machines are too old and broken down or they’re too new and complicated. No matter how hard you try to appease The Drama Queen, something will always be off. This will inevitably delay the act of working out for who knows how long, so it’s probably best to ditch this brand of buddy and find someone who’s not as high maintenance.

8. The One-Trick Pony

We all know that person who thinks whatever they’re doing — be it a diet or a workout plan — is the only way to do things. Sure, a low-carb diet may have helped her drop a few pounds or minute-long planks helped to strengthen his core. But just because it works for your friend doesn’t mean it will work for you. Figure out what kind of workout plan is best for you, and take this kind of buddy’s advice with a shaker of salt.

9. The Recovery Pro

Some days you just need to recover, sit on the couch, and binge on Netflix. A great workout buddy will know when to let you chill out and how to maximize your recovery time so your muscles can fully recharge. They’re always pushing you to foam roll, and they always bring the best healthy snacks to enjoy on rest day.

10. The Motivator

But you can’t sit on the couch for too long! On those days when you’re just not in the mood to workout, it’s crucial to have a support system to keep you motivated. When you can’t get going on your own, the best workout buddy will know just what to say to get you moving.

It’s a tall order finding your perfect workout buddy, but it sure beats working out on your own! What qualities do you look for in a workout partner?

Workout Everyone GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Improving Cognitive Function in Older Adults

The prevalence of Alzheimer’s and various forms of dementia are on the rise in western society and scientists and doctors alike are looking for ways to prevent and combat these horrible diseases . Luckily, recent studies have found promising strategies to reduce the rate of cognitive decline as we age. For many years research has shown that regular exercise leads to improved physiological and cognitive function. As the general population becomes more sedentary at home and in the work place, the role of exercise for improved health has become increasingly important.

The current hypothesis to explain the positive cognitive effect of exercise is that physical activity induces neural and vascular adaptation that promotes neurogenesis. In other words, maintaining exercise in your daily life will help increase the brains ability to produce new neurons. Physical activity will also decrease systemic inflammation and reduce cellular damage caused by oxidative free radical. As a result, older adults who engage in moderate amounts of physical activity maintain a higher level of cognitive functioning

 

The results of this meta-analysis demonstrated that both aerobic and resistance training exercise were beneficial in improving cognitive outcomes in people over the age of 50. It is recommended that training sessions should be 45-60 minutes in lengths and performed at a moderate to vigorous intensity. These results are not surprising and will hopefully provide aging adults with a starting point in preventing age-related dementia.

For some, it may be a challenge to create a workout plan that suits their specific physical capacity. I recommend seeing a health care practitioner with proper training in therapeutic exercise and rehabilitation to at least get you started! Taking on a training program can be overwhelming for beginners and having a helping hand and some extra motivation will go along way. Many chiropractors will be able to get you started and guide you on your journey to healthier and more rewarding life!

Northey JM, Cherbuin N, Pumpa KL, Smee DJ, Rattray B. Exercise interventions for cognitive function in adults older than 50: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2017 Mar 30:bjsports-2016.

Dr. Phil Shares: How to Avoid 10 of the Most Common Workout Mistakes

How to Avoid 10 of the Most Common Workout Mistakes

Designer water bottles. Pre- and post-workout supplements. Two-hundred-dollar shoes!

When you’re new to exercise, sometimes the hardest part isn’t the workout itself—it’s all the details around it. So many ways to go astray.

That’s why we asked six fitness and nutrition experts for their tips to avoid some of the most common workout mistakes. From what you should be eating before a workout to what you should be wearing, dodging these fitness fails won’t just make you look like a pro, it’ll make your workout routine more effective, too.

1. Wearing the Wrong Shoes

“There are different shoe types for a reason. Tennis demands a lot of side-to-side movement, running on a trail requires [enhanced stability and grip], and you’ll probably be doing some vertical jumping when you play basketball. If you’re wearing training shoes with little to no support when you’re running around a tennis court, you’re more likely to get an injury in your foot or ankle. Getting the right type of shoe for your sport will help you stay with it for much longer.”Alicia Clinton, Ohio-based ACE personal trainer and Pilates instructor

2. Wearing the Wrong Clothes

This tip is my own, as it’s one workout mistake I learned the hard way. Wearing baggy cotton T-shirts and sweats seems like a great idea (you get to hide your body, and hey, they’re comfy!), but there’s a reason everyone else in yoga class is wearing technical fabrics: cotton holds sweat close to your body. Technical fabrics wick it away.

You don’t have to buy anything that’s form-fitting or expensive, but wearing clothes made from technical fabrics engineered for exercise instead of pajamas or old sweats will help you be more comfortable. And, if you feel good, you’ll be more likely to stick with your workout routine.

3. Pushing Your Body Past It’s Limits

This one sounds like a big “duh,” but it’s surprising how many people get into a gym for the first time in months (or years) and attack the cardio machines or weight rack like their hiatus never happened

Take a knee, champ.

“When you’re just beginning a workout routine, it’s important to know that your body needs time to adjust to your new activity level. With time, our bodies can become quite well-adapted (to any routine), but the key for long-term success—physically and mentally—is to start small and work toward your goal. Injuries can happen if you go all out right away, which in turn can lead to feelings of frustration that don’t help your cause.” —Clinton

4. Not Hydrating Properly

Everyone knows they’re supposed to stay hydrated. But a lot of people don’t know how to do it right.

A good way to gauge how much water you need is by weighing yourself. Check your weight before and after you work out, and replace that loss. So if you weighed 150 before you started your CORE DE FORCE workout, and you weigh 149 afterwards, drink 16 ounces of water. For endurance athletes or during extreme exercise of 30 minutes or more when you’re sweating a lot, use that same fluid requirement but include electrolytes—the best is a low-sugar option like Beachbody Hydrate.

“If you’re doing something like a 30-minute walk, you don’t need any of this. If you go on a 30-minute run [or do an intense 30-minute workout], you might need that extra hydration. And if you’re taking a 105-degree hot yoga class, you need to replenish fluids and electrolytes.” Paige Benté, MS, RD, nutrition manager at Beachbody

5. Not Timing Your Workouts with Your Eating Habits

Would you take your car out on a long road trip without first filling up the tank? Of course you would! That’s why you have to bum everybody out 20 minutes after leaving by pulling over to stop at Gas-N-Cigs. In the gym, this is just as big of a choke.

“You want to make sure you have enough fuel to support your workout. At least an hour before, have a small snack with easy-to-digest carbs. When in doubt, reach for a piece of fruit or veggies and hummus—something that will sit light in your stomach.” Olivia Wagner, Chicago-based RDN, LDN, personal trainer and certified health coach

And don’t forget to eat after your workout, too. You need to give your muscles the nutrients they need to grow and repair, and if you’re doing endurance work, you also need to replenish your glycogen stores.

How to Avoid 10 of the Most Common Workout Mistakes

6. Ignoring the Importance of Diet in General

You’ve likely heard the adage “You can’t outrun a bad diet.” It’s true, so heed the advice to avoid one of the most common workout mistakes. If your eating habits aren’t aligned with your fitness goals, you’ll never hit them. Step one in upgrading your diet is to reduce your consumption of added sugar (according to the government’s new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, such foods should comprise no more than 10 percent of your diet).

“Many active people eat too many carbs—especially simple carbs like sugar—and don’t pay nearly enough attention to fat and protein. Make sure every meal contains a balance of protein, fat, and fiber. Neglecting these suggestions will yield poor blood sugar control, higher insulin levels, increased fat storage, and decreased fat burning.”- Bob Seebohar, M.S., R.D., CSSD, C.S.C.S., a sport dietitian and owner and founder of eNRG Performance

Want to make things easy on yourself? Beachbody’s Portion Fix containers make it simple to figure out how much you should eat of different food types, helping you to consume just the right amount of protein, veggies, carbs, and more, depending on your body type and goals.

7. Only Focusing on the Muscles You Can See

In the pursuit of head turning muscles, many people focus only on those they can see in the mirror—pecs, shoulders, arms, and abs. Since most people are already “anterior dominant”—meaning they more frequently use the muscles on the front of their bodies—such one-sided training often worsens existing postural and performance issues.

“Overemphasizing the front side of your body can lead to muscular imbalances, a hunched posture, and an increased risk of injury.” – Yunus Barisik, C.S.C.S., author of the blog, Next Level Athletics

To balance your upper body, perform two pulling exercises (chin-up, row) for every pushing exercise, such as the overhead press or bench press. To balance your lower body, perform two sets of hamstring-dominant exercises, like the deadlift or kettlebell swing, for every set of a quad-dominant exercise, like the squat or lunge. After a few months (read: once your posture and musculature balance out), you can switch to one-to-one ratios, says Barisik.

8. Skipping the Warm-Up and Cool-Down

It’s great that you’re excited to get to your workout, but a warm-up shouldn’t be optional. Before you jump into beast mode, take a few minutes to get your body ready for an intense workout with an active warm-up that includes dynamic (movement based) stretching, which can help improve performance and prevent injury.

Once you finish the final rep at the end of your workout, cool down with a few minutes of stretching, foam rolling, or both. “Warming up before a workout will help your muscles be ready to work harder and faster, and getting stretches in after a workout as you cool down will help accelerate recovery.” — Clinton

9. Skipping Recovery Days

If you think recovery days are only for the weak, think again. They’re actually a crucial part any fitness regime.

“Our bodies, like our minds, need rest. Just like we go to sleep every night, we need time to relax our bodies. Exercise is stressful, and if we don’t allow ourselves to recover—no matter how well we’re eating or exercising—we’re not going to get stronger.” —Wagner

“Muscles don’t grow during workouts, they grow between them. That’s one of the primary reasons why recovery days are just as important as workout days–the latter provides the stimulus for growth, and the former provides the opportunity for it to happen. Also, if you never give your body sufficient time to recover, not only will your workout performance suffer, but you’ll also shortchange your results and increase your odds of injury.” – Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S, senior fitness and nutrition content manager at Beachbody

10. Doing the Same Workout All the Time

After searching tirelessly for a mode of exercise you actually enjoy, it can be a relief to finally find the right one. But beware! Comfort can be the enemy of progress. Doing the same exact workout all the time, whether that’s running the same route at the same pace or always going to the same yoga class, doesn’t give your body the variety it needs to change and improve. You need to incorporate periodization (strategic variation) into your training plan to keep your results coming.

“The reason why most people see their results stagnate is that they do the same one or two workouts day after day, week after week, month after month, and even year after year. That’s why Beachbody programs include multiple different workouts, and don’t last longer than 90 minutes.” – Thieme

In search of a workout that can help you reach your goals and lead to your dream results? Head over to Beachbody On Demand for tons of options, including everything from sweat-inducing HIIT workouts to low-impact yoga classes to muscle-building strength programs.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: What Is the Best Time of Day to Exercise?

Ask the Expert: What Is the Best Time of Day to Exercise?

You’ve likely heard this advice countless times in one form or another, but that doesn’t make it any less true: The best time of day to exercise is when you have the most energy and motivation — in short, when you’re most likely to do it.

Sure, there are studies that extol the benefits of exercising at specific times (more on that in a bit), but as long as you’re smart about how you exercise, any kind of workout (cardio, HIIT, weightlifting, etc.) can be performed at any time of day and produce results.

In fact, scheduling your workout for the time of day that works best for you will almost always produce the most dramatic results, because it increases your odds of maximizing the most important workout variable of all: exercise adherence. Simply put, the more consistently you work out, the more likely you are to see results.

That said, if you’re flexible and don’t have a preferred workout time, you can potentially achieve your goals faster by scheduling your workouts strategically.

Potential benefits of morning workouts: Greater weight loss through improved fat burning.
Potential benefits of afternoon/evening workouts: Improved aerobic performance and faster strength gains.

When Is the Best Time of Day to Exercise?

The best time to work out is when you WILL work out. That might seem obvious, but the significance of that advice can’t be overstated. Why? Because workout consistency is the most important variable of all when it comes to achieving any fitness goal.

That means that if you’re a night owl, work out at night. Morning person? Work out first thing in the morning… you get my drift. Any time you’re in the mood to really “Bring It” will work because, by far, the biggest physiological changes happen to your body when you push yourself further than you’ve pushed yourself before. There’s a reason the P90X mantra is “Bring It”: The closer you get to putting in 100 percent effort, the more you force your body into an adaptive state, which is exactly where it needs to be in order to change.

While temporal “nitpicking” can help make your fitness journey easier — lifting weights in the evening might be slightly more beneficial for building strength than doing so in the morning, for example — it can also work against you if you get too wrapped up in it. Exercise and healthy eating will always trump all other advice. I’ve seen every excuse in the book, including: “I missed my optimal window for training so I skipped today’s workout.” Don’t let this happen. Unless you’re injured, sick, or overtrained, exercising is better than not exercising, so always schedule your workout when you have the best chance of getting it done.

But if you enjoy nitpicking, and have a flexible schedule and no preference for AM or PM workouts, read on for the three best times to work out, depending on your goal

1. When your glycogen stores are full

Best for: Boosting aerobic performance, especially endurance
Best time: Late morning, afternoon, and early evening

Your body can push itself longer and harder aerobically if you begin your workout with a full tank of muscle and liver glycogen, which is the stored form of your body’s primary fuel, glucose.

Glycogen is replenished by carbohydrates, and is extinguished very quickly through exercise, brain activity, and most other tasks. This means it fluctuates throughout the day and is always highest in the hours after you digest a meal containing carbohydrates. As a result — and depending on your eating schedule — your body is probably primed for peak exercise in the late morning, afternoon, or early evening.

At night, your body can store glycogen, meaning that it’s possible to wake up and train in the morning before you’ve eaten and still have enough energy to get through a workout, but that is a theoretical scenario. Most of us, especially when we’re training hard and not eating a ton, will burn through glycogen recovering from the prior day’s activities.

The result is that those early morning workouts can lead to something called “the bonk,” which is what happens when your body runs out of glycogen. Essentially, you lose the ability to push your aerobic envelope, and you feel like you’ve hit a wall.

Bonking is not one of those “good pain” times, but it’s inevitable that it will happen to you at some point. When it does, don’t try to push through. Instead, cut your losses and get on the recovery program by eating, resting, and then reevaluating your eating schedule and/or choice of workout times.

If exercising when your glycogen stores are low (e.g., in the morning) is the only time of day available, you can fix the situation nutritionally. Eat a half (or even a whole) banana, or have a cup of watered down juice before you work out. That will boost the levels of glucose in your blood, so you won’t have to tap into your glycogen stores as much. Alternatively, you can try to top off those stores by adding an extra serving of complex carbohydrates to your evening meal. If neither strategy works (you’ll know if it doesn’t — bonking isn’t subtle), it means you’re on a nutritional edge and you aren’t eating enough total daily calories to recover from your workouts. It’s time to reevaluate your daily caloric intake.

2. When your stomach is empty

Best for: Burning fat and losing weight
Best time: Morning

In the morning, before you’ve eaten, your body is more likely to tap fat stores for energy during aerobic workouts, and you can train your body to become more efficient at doing so, which is cool. You’re also “burning fat,” which sounds even cooler. While fantastic in theory, it’s not so fun in practice if you force your body into a situation where you bonk.

You won’t bonk, however, unless you’re training at a very high intensity or running or cycling for a very long distance. This means low-intensity workouts can have added benefits if done in the morning on an empty stomach. This is why in programs like P90X Doubles, we scheduled the lowest-intensity workout of the day for the morning.

In the case of P90X Doubles, however, that lower-intensity morning workout is a strength session, and thus requires additional nutritional steps to optimize recovery. The reason is that your body doesn’t store protein, so if you strength train before you “breakfast,” you’ll put your body into a catabolic (breakdown) state, which, as you might imagine, is less than optimal for building muscle. Fortunately, it’s easy to reverse the situation: have a protein shake, like Beachbody Performance Recover, or a protein-rich meal within a half hour of completing your workout.

Here are two more weight-loss advantages of an AM workout: It can decrease your appetite and inspire you to be more physically active throughout the day, according to a study at Brigham Young University in Utah. What’s more, sweating early in the day can improve the duration and quality of your sleep later on, according to researchers at Appalachian State University. That’s important because adequate sleep (more than 8 hours a night) is associated with greater fat loss if you’re trying to slim down.

3. When your body temperature peaks

Best for: Building strength
Best time: Late afternoon/evening

Your body temperature drops while you sleep, which is one reason you might wake up stiff and lacking flexibility. The discs between your vertebrae also fill with fluid as you slumber, making them more susceptible to injury first thing in the morning. Either way, it’s best to wait at least an hour after waking before you start pumping iron or doing exercises that require you to flex your spine (e.g., crunches), especially if you suffer from back pain. And if you can wait to work out until later in the day, all the better.

Here’s why: Your body temperature climbs throughout the day, peaking between 4:00 and 6:00 PM. As it rises, so too does muscle strength and power, according to a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. What’s more, Scottish researchers report that exercise-induced increases in testosterone production are greatest in the late afternoon and early evening.

In sum, if you’re looking to maximize strength gains, it’s best to schedule your workout for after work, or even during your lunch hour, rather than trying to cram it in before you leave for the office. But there’s always a “but,” and in this case, it has to do with a principle known as “temporal specificity,” which states that your body will adapt to be strongest at the time of day during which you normally train. So while you might initially benefit from late afternoon strength workouts, you’re better off scheduling those workouts for (you guessed it) whenever they’re most convenient for you.

Is It OK to Exercise Before Bed?

Unless it is really the only time you will work out or the only time you feel the best, you should probably avoid it. The reason is that working out directly before bed can affect your sleep.

Most people have a hard time getting to sleep after a workout because exercise can throw off your melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, among other things. This isn’t ideal because sleep is very important for recovery. It’s when your body naturally produces most of its own performance-enhancing drugs in the form of hormones. If possible, eliminate anything that hurts your ability to sleep.

Exercise also requires a lot of nutrients, which are further depleted at night. If you’re on a strict diet, perhaps trying to lose weight, you run further risk by training and then not eating to recover from the workout prior to bed. If you’re on a low-calorie diet and plan to train hard at night, you should follow your workout with a nutritional recovery strategy, such as Beachbody Performance Recharge or a small meal before going to sleep.

I’m not the norm, so I’ll play the counterpoint to my point as I can fall asleep (and often sleep much better) immediately after a very hard workout. If you’re like me, there’s nothing wrong with training at night. Just follow nutritional protocols that don’t leave you depleted and starving when you wake up. I’ve done this and it can be so severe that you wake up in the middle of the night, a common issue with bodybuilders and fitness trainers getting ready for competition. This is not ideal as it means your body is essentially bonking during sleep. And while that’s okay if your goal is to pose in front of a crowd with absurdly low body fat, like a bodybuilder, it’s also a sign of starvation and, if done too long, will cause your body to begin to shut down its metabolic processes.

The bottom line is that everyone’s body responds differently. We all need to exercise and most of us can eat better. In between are a lot of individual variables. When it comes to getting your best possible workout, psychology often trumps physiology. Exercise when you can and pay close attention to your performance. Then choose your preferred workout time based on your results. It’s really that simple.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: The Most Dangerous Fat Is the Easiest to Lose

The Most Dangerous Fat Is the Easiest to Lose

It’s every weight loss enthusiast’s dream to zap belly fat but, far from pure vanity, there’s actually a reason why having a lot of fat in the abdominal region can be dangerous. Fat is stored all over our body, but how does an expanding waistline grow your risk for chronic illness?

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Your body’s fat impacts your health differently depending on where it’s stored. While most fat found on other parts of our bodies (think arms, legs, buttocks) are considered “subcutaneous fat,” belly fat is more likely to be “visceral.”

PINCHABLE VERSUS PRESSABLE

“Subcutaneous fat” is the pinchable, squishy fat right between your skin and muscle that helps keep you warm, cushions you against shock, and stores extra calories. “Visceral fat” stores calories too, but isn’t as pinchable because it is located in and around your organs. It’s hidden deep within the belly region, which is what makes it firm (rather than squishy) when you press it.

PROXIMITY

Fat doesn’t just store calories—it’s a living tissue capable of producing and releasing hormones that affect your other organs. Because visceral fat sits near our organs, its release of these chemicals is poorly situated. Having more visceral fat can raise your LDL (a.k.a. “bad” cholesterol) and blood pressure. Visceral fat can also make you less sensitive to insulin, which increases your risk for Type 2 Diabetes.

TELLING BAD BELLY FAT APART

Even if you’re thin, you can still have visceral fat around the abdominal region—being “skinny” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy. There’s no sure-fire way to tell visceral from subcutaneous fat short of an expensive CT scan, but it’s important for you to get a rough idea of what your visceral stores are. Here are a few tricks to figure out where your belly stands:

APPLES AND PEARS

You’re probably wondering, “What does fruit have to do with it?” These two fruits give a quick visual of where most of your fat is stored on the body. Pears tend to store fat in the lower extremities (hips, thighs, buttocks) as subcutaneous fat while apples tend to store fat in the upper region (belly, chest) as visceral fat. It takes a quick inspection, but this is an imperfect way to tell these two fats apart.

WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE (WC)

Feel for the top of your hip bone (it’s at the same level as the top of your belly button) and circle a tape measure around this point. Remember to relax and don’t suck in your gut (be honest!). Take 2-3 measurements and figure out the average. Men should have a WC of less than 40 inches (102 cm) and women should have a WC of less than 35 inches (89 cm).

WAIST-TO-HIP RATIO

The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) takes the circumference of your waist (see above) and divides it by the circumference of your hips. To measure your hips, stand in front of a mirror then figure out the widest part of your butt and measure that circumference. Then use this formula:
WHR = (Waist circumference) / (Hip circumference).
Men should have a WHR of less than 1 while women should have a WHR of less than 0.8.

KNOW YOUR FAMILY HEALTHY HISTORY

If your parents or siblings have insulin resistance, heart disease or non-alcoholic fatty liver, you may be at a greater risk for storing visceral fat. Keeping an eye on your visceral fat may be beneficial, but know that the causes of these chronic diseases are complex. If you’re in doubt, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider.


READ MORE > ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO FAT


BANISHING VISCERAL FAT

If you fall in the normal range for WC and WHR, that’s great! Keep working at your weight goals as you see fit. If you’re not there, don’t despair. Because of its proximity to the liver, visceral fat is usually the easier fat to burn. It’s the less risky subcutaneous fat that likes to stick around.

Unfortunately, you can’t forcefully spot reduce fat around your belly no matter how many crunches you do. The next best thing is to live a healthy lifestyle:

  • Go beyond weight tracking. You can track your waist, hip and even neck circumference in the app. Use this feature to see how your measurements change over time as you lose weight.
  • Sweat for 30-60 minutes each day. Visceral fat responds well to regular endurance exercises, such as running, biking, rowing, swimming, that elevate your heart rate. As your body uses fat to fuel exercise, it’ll start using up your visceral stores.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Eat a diet high in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean protein with calories set for gradual weight loss (e.g. about 1-2 pounds per week). Cut way back on added sugars and alcohol since these nutrients will more likely end up as visceral fat.
  • Sleep more, stress less. It’s easier said than done, but in order to take care of your physical body, you have to take care of your mental state. Sleep loss and stress can sabotage your health and fitness goals, so learn more about getting a quality night’s rest and use meditation or yoga to calm your mind. Remember, it’s not just about your health; it’s about your happiness, too.

by Trinh Le, MPH, RD

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health

Dr. Phil Shares: 10 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

10 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Do you find that the scale moves up a few pounds during this time of the year? During summertime, we’re focused on our bodies, given we know we’ll be wearing the revealing clothing that goes with the season. But when fall and winter come around, that mindset falls away like autumn leaves. Maybe it’s our primitive instinct to bulk up when the weather gets colder; it probably also has a lot to do with our busy holiday shopping and social schedules interfering with our regular workouts, and with all the tasty holiday treats lying in wait to tempt us everywhere we turn, regardless. But don’t let the layers of clothing become layers of fat. These tips can help you avoid holiday weight gain this season.

Avoid Holiday Weight Gain With These 10 Simple Tips

Staying healthy and fit during the holidays isn’t impossible. You just need the right tools! With convenient workouts you can do at home on Beachbody On Demand, and a craving-crushing drink like Shakeology, it will be easier than ever to end the year on a healthy high note.

1. Travel smart

Many people find themselves traveling during the holiday season, but that’s not an excuse to eat unhealthily and avoid exercise. Plan your meals in advance, and pack snacks when you are either on the road or in the air. Good travel snacks can include nuts or dried fruit. To help you be a happier traveler, get a good night sleep before you leave to increase your mood and alertness. Eating a heavy meal before traveling can make you sleepy, so eat a small, low-fat meal before you head out the door.

2. Get enough sleep

Try to keep a regular sleep schedule and get a full night’s rest as often as you can. If you fail to get a good night sleep, it can make you grumpy the next day and make it harder to focus on your healthy goals. No one wants to travel with a grouchy person, so do everyone a favor and get some shut eye. Sleeping well can also help you reduce your calorie consumption, because it inhibits the release of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin while promoting the release of leptin, another hormone that limits hunger. And keeping that hunger in check is a good idea when you find yourself surrounded by holiday goodies. Check out these natural sleep remedies to help you get some shut-eye.

3. Drink enough water

You’ve probably heard it before, but we’ll say it again: drink water! During the busy holiday season it can be easy to forget to fill up enough cups with H2O, but it can do wonders with keeping you healthy. It helps regulate your body temperature, helps with the digestion of food, and it can help you limit your caloric intake. How? Try drinking a glass of water before each meal, and you’ll likely feel more satisfied on less food because your stomach already has some liquid in there. And if you alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water, you’ll slow down your consumption of high-calorie beverages. If you don’t think a glass of plain old H2O is appetizing enough, here are 10 tasty ways to add flavor to your water.

4. Approach cocktails with caution

We’re not telling you to avoid alcohol completely – wine is allowed in Portion Fix after all! But do pace yourself by having at least one glass of water in between each drink (see tip #3). Remember that one gram of alcohol contains seven calories, and yet it yields virtually no energy or health benefits. Calories from alcohol can add up quickly, so be mindful of how much you are drinking. Also, drinking may reduce inhibitions at the dessert buffet, which can lead to a few too many sugar cookies. If you do indulge in eggnog, which is super-high in calories in its traditional form, try this lighter version that clocks in under 150 calories.

5. Get an accountability partner

The holidays are filled with temptation, and it’s your job to stop it in its tracks. But…that can be really tough to do on your own. If you need some assistance in fighting the temptation of cookies and cocktails and candies (oh my!), don’t be afraid to ask for help. An accountability partner can help you stick to your goals when your willpower gets a little shaky. Tell a family member that you’re trying to eat healthier, so they can give you a gentle reminder when you’re eyeing that second slice of cake. Or, get a group of friends and do morning workouts together. You’ll probably find that power in numbers is a key part in avoiding holiday weight gain. And if you can’t confide in someone in person, then try reaching out to a Team Beachbody Coach, who can help you stay on track even from afar.

6. Use screen time wisely

Who says the TV can only be used to watch classic holiday movies and rivalry sports games? Take over the screen for a few minutes and turn on one of your favorite Beachbody On Demand workouts. Don’t worry, you won’t have to be using precious TV time for hours at a time, there are plenty of workout that are less than 30 minutes! You can even get the whole family involved with the kid-friendly Double Time program, or the fun dance routines in Country Heat. And you don’t have to hog the TV. You can also cue up Beachbody On Demand on your computer, tablet, or phone. And when you you do decide to cozy up for a made-for-TV holiday film, encourage your family to get up in between commercials for some jumping jacks or push-ups. Make it a competition to see who can do the most during the break and watch the sibling rivalry do some good for once.

7. Make recipes healthier

Most recipes can be made healthier without compromising the recipe. Just check out how Autumn and Bobby Calabrese do it on FIXATE, Beachbody’s healthy cooking show. With a few substitutions, you can limit unnecessary salt, sugar, and fat in some of your favorite holiday recipes…and we doubt that your guests will notice. Here are some of our personal favorite holiday recipes made healthier, like Gingerbread Protein Pancakes and Herb-Crusted Beef Tenderloin.

8. Avoid serving food family-style

When food is placed right on the dining table, it’s much easier to grab a second helping. So make it harder: Keep the extra food away from the dining room. If you leave it in the kitchen, out of sight, it forces everyone to think about getting up to grab another helping. Here’s a tip: If you still feel hungry after your first plate, wait for 15 minutes and drink a full glass of water, then decide whether you want more food.

9. Eat smaller amounts more often

Instead of starving yourself all day so you can overindulge in that one, giant meal, have smaller meals throughout the day. At family holiday gatherings in particular, it’s asking too much to resist the lavish aromas of the kitchen, so being mindful of your portion sizes is important. You can still enjoy all your family-favorite recipes – just enjoy them in moderation. You’ll likely feel much better at the end of the meal that way.

10. Stay active

Whether you cue up a workout on Beachbody On Demand or gather up the troops for a walk around the block, regular exercise can help with so many of the challenges you face during the holiday season. It can help you cope with the stress of traveling by releasing endorphins that help boost your mood and energy. At the airport, if you have time, walk beside those moving sidewalks instead of standing and letting them carry you to your terminal. If you’re traveling by car, take frequent breaks, get out of the car, walk around, and get some fresh air. If you’re staying home for the holidays, get the family involved! Depending on the climate, go ice skating, hiking, sledding, skiing, biking, or walk the dog. And go for a walk together after your big meal—it’ll help you all digest better.

Wrapping Up

We’re not asking you to deprive yourself of any holiday cheer. Just be aware of your body and the temptations and pitfalls it faces this season. Because the holidays have a way of testing your self-control, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place well in advance for dealing with them. That way, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding holiday weight gain and remaining on your regular regimen of exercise and dieting. You can even make it your New Year’s resolution to keep a healthy lifestyle and continue working toward your goals.

Shared By Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: How Cooking at Home Can Help You Lose Weight

Lose weight at home, weight loss, cooking for weight loss

But that convenience can come with a high-caloric cost. One simple — and usually less expensive —way to block those extra calories heading for your waistline? Cook at home.

Science backs it up, too: A 2014 study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition found that people who eat more meals at home consume 200 fewer calories at meals than those who eat out on the regular. And when these home cooks do eat out, they pick healthier options.

Find why firing up the stove can help you lose weight, and tips to make cooking at home easy and doable.

Lose weight at home, weight loss, cooking to lose weight

 Why Cooking at Home Can Help You Lose Weight

It’s not good enough to just eat at home, though — you have to make those meals, too. And remember: Just because you cooked something at home doesn’t automatically make it healthy. (Sorry, but those “homemade” double-chocolate fudge brownies don’t count.)

But if you stick with healthy recipes, then you’re definitely giving yourself the home advantage. “The bottom line is that eating at home is healthier for you because it gives you so much more control,” says Meg Hagar, M.S., R.D., and author of Little Book of Kitchen Wonders. You know exactly how much salt or fat or sugar is going into your dish; you also have the power to swap ingredients in (and out) to fit your nutritional and caloric goals.

And eating healthy at home doesn’t have to cost more: A study from researchers at the University of Washington found that home-cooked dinners were lower in fat, calories, and sugar — but not higher grocery bills. The study also found that people who eat at home are more likely to meet U.S. government guidelines for a healthy diet.

The control you get with cooking at home extends to other facets of your health as well: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in six Americans get sick from food-borne illness each year. Of course, food poisoning can happen anywhere, but when you’re preparing meals at home, you know exactly how food is being handled — and how clean the kitchen is.

Lose weight at home, weight loss, cooking to lose weight

Master the Art of Meal Prep

 One of the biggest reasons people eat out is for convenience. But that convenience comes at a hefty price: According to data from the USDA, Americans spend almost $3,000 a year eating out.

We get it: It’s easier to just pick something from a menu versus shopping, preparing, cooking, and cleaning, especially if you’re crazy busy. But if you arm yourself with some smart shopping tips and time-saving meal plans, you can lose pounds and gain some cold, hard cash.

“I’m a huge believer in batch cooking, or preparing multiple servings of a meal all at once,” says Hagar. “The best part is that I only have to cook a few times a week and I get to eat my own homemade meals all week!”

Sounds easy, but the reality of it can be overwhelming. Start slow, like cooking three dinners at home one week. Then, the following week, add two home-cooked breakfasts. Keep building on each subsequent week until it becomes a habit to cook at home, instead of eating out.

Pro tip: If you need a kick in the pants to get your healthy habits started, a fitness and nutrition program like 21 Day Fix can get you going.

How to Eat Healthy at Home

Restaurants use everything from color to music to influence what you eat — and how much you spend — at their establishments. Follow their lead by creating an environment at home that supports healthy eating and habits:

  • Put your meal on a plate before you sit down to eat; no eating out of bags or boxes of food.
  • Keep healthy foods like fruits and nuts easily accessible and tuck the less-healthy temptations in the pantry or cupboards.
  • Put away all electronics — be mindful of what you’re eating and how much. “At home, you can turn off distractions while eating, allowing you to really tune into our hunger signals and avoid overeating, ” says Hagar.
  • Use portion-control containers to make sure you’re eating a balanced meal. “Load up on veggies and lean proteins plus a small amount of complex carbohydrates to make your plate look more full of food,” she advises.

How to Eat Healthy While Eating Out

While we’re definitely fans of eating at home, that doesn’t mean you have to be a hermit who never enjoys a meal out. With a few tips and tricks in your back pocket, you can stay on track and eat out with friends and family with zero guilt:

  • Scope out the menu online beforehand to see which meals will fit your goals. Chain restaurants are required to list calorie counts and other nutritional info, making the search for the right dish a lot easier.
  • Read the fine print on the menu: Stay away from foods that are described as “crispy,” “pan-fried,” “buttered,” or “stuffed,” and stick with healthier preparations like “broiled,” “baked,” or “steamed.”
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions, or for dressings and sauces on the side — or not at all.

And don’t beat yourself up if you eat out more than you plan to. Just roll with the punches and know that making the switch to healthy cooking and eating, like with any new habit, takes time to master.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health

Dr. Phil Shares: How to Bring Mindfulness to Work

How to Bring Mindfulness to Work

You may ask yourself, “How do I bring mindfulness to work?” Mindfulness is something you practice as a being, as a person. And then it brings itself to every situation you’re in, every role that you play: at work, being a parent, being a wife, being a friend. So it’s more about how to bring mindfulness to your life.

What Is Mindfulness?

Let’s clarify what mindfulness is. For me, one of the ways I talk about it is how to be less reactive, more loving, and more present in how I act in a given situation, or how I decide not to act in a given situation as opposed to a knee-jerk reaction based on what we are conditioned to do.

The beauty of mindfulness is that the situations that come up that are challenging or could create a knee-jerk reaction are the actual situations that can bring mindfulness into your life.

How Can I Become More Mindful in My Life?

When you get triggered, you can use the situation as an opportunity to identify the types of situations that trigger you. And, rather than reacting, you can take a deep breath and allow the breath to center you.

With some practice, you become more aware and realize that when you’re reactive, you actually create more problems. So, these high-stress situations, where you feel you are not being mindful at all, serve as the best learning opportunities because you can “catch” yourself and make the shift from reactivity to mindfulness in the moment. With continuous practice, you can become a more mindful person.

It’s kind of funny, isn’t it? The very thing that you feel is disrupting your peace is the very thing that can create more peace in your life.

Any situation brings to you an opportunity to being mindful. It really forces you—if you are intent—to stop these constant, crazy reactions that just exhaust you. These reactions cause you to have bad days, then terrible weeks… as if the week is having you. But, you are the week, you create it. The week is not coming to you and saying, “This week is going to be horrible, so just enjoy the ride.”

This process has become fun for me over time—it’s a sort of game with myself. When there are situations that are quite challenging for me, I know they are also my gateway—my way in—into mindfulness. 

How Can I Bring Mindfulness into My Work Life?

Rather than thinking about how you can bring mindfulness to work, try and see it more as how mindfulness is being brought to you from work. Each time something challenging happens that brings on anger, frustration, resentment, jealously, envy, disappointment—all these emotions that come and go—you are presented with an opportunity to cultivate mindfulness within yourself by how you respond to these emotions.

Let’s say someone at work doesn’t take responsibility for something that wasn’t done or your opinion about something is not in harmony with theirs. The moment you get triggered is the moment you can take a beat and take a deep breath rather than react.

You can slow down and become a little more aware. That’s mindfulness.

You can think to yourself, “Here’s a situation that usually creates uncomfortable emotions in me and I usually feel attacked and then I react. But, instead I’m going to see this situation as an opportunity to step into mindfulness.” So, rather than speaking with frustration or running away, see your trigger as an indicator of how your mind works, then take a breath and bring mindfulness to the situation.

Shared by

Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health