Proper Hydration for Your Active Lifestyle

Proper Hydration for Your Active Lifestyle

Water is one of the key components to both a healthy diet and long-term health. It not only keeps your cells hydrated, but it fills your stomach so that you are less hungry.


Proper Hydration and a Warning

Plain and simple, your body needs water. Being properly hydrated will benefit you from head to toe. Water keeps your cells hydrated and flowing throughout your body. Here’s a story of warning for you…

In March, I went to a conference about 3 hours away. On the drive down, I felt a stabbing pain in my lower back. Well, I work out a lot, and I’m in my 30s, so I chalked that up to normal back pain for me.

As time passed, I ended up writhing in pain in my hotel room and moaning like I was being murdered.

It was the worst pain I’d ever felt. Long story short – and minus some gross details – I ended up at urgent care with a kidney stone. Why did that happen? I’m so healthy! Poor hydration. I’d forgotten my own rules.

8 Glasses a Day (?)

There are lots of different guidelines for how much water to drink. Drinking eight glasses of water each day is the most popular guideline, but we each have different needs.

A better indication of how hydrated you are in your urine. When you are properly hydrated, your urine is almost clear.

If you like to have a number to shoot for, take your body weight, divide it by two, and drink that much in ounces. For example, if you’re 130 pounds, drink 65 ounces a day.

There are activities and beverages that dehydrate your body quickly, so your essential amount of water intake may need to be increased.

Any activity that causes you to sweat a lot can dehydrate you quicker than normal. For every half-hour of sweat-inducing exercise, you should drink at least eight ounces of water.

If you are exercising in a particularly humid environment, you may have to drink more water in order to avoid headaches, illness, and overall dehydration.

Those who live in or are visiting dry places, like Colorado, will need more water on a daily basis than someone living in a humid place, like Florida.

Some of the drinks that deplete water from your body are sodas, coffee, tea, and alcohol. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t drink them!

In order to ensure that you stay properly hydrated, drink one glass of water for every glass of a dehydrating beverage. 

Make hydration a priority to keep feeling incredible each day.


How Nutrition Affects Sports Performance

How Nutrition Affects Sports Performance 

Nutrition has an effect on everything you do, but it is especially important to get it on-point if you want to improve your sports performance.

We’re going to discuss the impact of your nutrition on performance as well as your energy and nutrition needs and how to meet them.


Nutrition’s Effect of Sports Performance

Food is fuel, and when you’re burning that fuel as an athlete, you need to be running on premium.

Whether you are a serious competitive athlete or just enjoy competing in the occasional race or pick-up game, your diet can have a major impact on your performance.

The best diet for an athlete isn’t that different than for your average healthy person, but there is more at stake if an athlete doesn’t get adequate calories, macronutrients, fluids, vitamins, and minerals.

Sports tend to push your body and add stress to your system, not having proper nutrition to support both being active and your body’s recovery can not only negatively affect performance, but it can cause short- and long-term damage to your body.

Some issues might be poor athletic performance, longer recovery times, immune suppression, weight changes, and hormonal imbalances.

Energy and Nutrition Requirements for Athletes

Athletes at any level need energy, and we get energy through calories. In addition to daily caloric needs (basal metabolic rate, or BMR), athletes need additional energy to support both performance and recovery.

The higher your activity level, the higher your calorie requirements will be. The energy needs of athletes might amaze you! Some athletes need between 2,000 and 3,000 calories daily.

Professional and Olympic athletes, while in training, need even more, and that number can be astounding. However, it’s important to note that many people tend to overestimate their caloric burn during a workout and overcompensate with calories afterward.

Just be aware of the amount and quality of food you eat and remember that the goal is fuel and not reward.

How to Meet Your Nutritional Needs

When thinking of calories as energy, it’s helpful to know that the amount of energy for food depends on its macronutrient make-up: Carbohydrates have 4 kcal/gram, protein has 4 kcal/gram, and fat has 9 kcal/gram.

Macronutrients are the dietary elements that we need for health, and athletes especially need a diet that includes a balance of the three macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

  • Carbohydrates – Look for whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Protein – Eat lean protein like fish, chicken, lean beef, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
  • Fat – Good sources of fat are low in saturated fat, like nuts, nut butter, avocados, and olive oil.

Don’t forget your fluids! Water is the most important essential nutrient for athletes, and to maintain proper hydration, you should make it part of your daily planning.

Drink plenty of water with each meal, and target drinking one-half of your body weight (in pounds) in ounces of water.

For example, if you are 140 lbs, you need at least 70 oz. of water daily.


Protein Powder 101

Protein Powder 101

Protein powder is one of the most popular supplements for fitness lovers. Though it is simple to get enough protein through a balanced, healthy diet, protein powder is a convenient way to meet your nutritional needs while on the go.

We’re going to talk about some of the basics of protein powder and the different options you have with it.


What is Protein Powder and Why Should You Consider Using It?

No matter the type you choose, protein powders are dietary supplements that contain a high percentage of protein and, usually, also vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fats, and thickeners.

These powders tend to have a long shelf-life, and they can be a good option if you want to get your protein in while away from home.

Protein is a critical macronutrient for repairing lean muscle tissue, and it helps to create healthy hair, skin, nails, and bones.

Ideally, you would get your protein from whole-food sources, like meat, eggs, dairy, nuts and seeds, beans, and vegetables, but there’s nothing wrong with using protein powders as well.

Types:

There are many types of protein sources used in powder supplements. The following are some of the most popular types.

Whey

This is the most common and popular type. It is a dairy-based protein, and it has plenty of vitamins and minerals. 

Casein

Like whey protein, casein protein comes from dairy, but, unlike whey, it takes longer to digest. Overall, whey and casein can be seen as interchangeable.

Soy

This vegetarian powder is the only plant-based protein that has all of the essential amino acids (a complete protein).

Though some research has found that the isoflavones in soy can interact with hormones, it is a safe alternative for those who only occasionally consume soy.

Soy protein concentrate is also an option for those who are concerned about the potentially negative hormonal effects.

The process used to make this type of soy protein powder causes it to have a lower amount of isoflavones.

Pea

Pea protein is a great option for those who are looking to stay away from dairy and gluten and tend to have digestive issues.

This supplement has comparable levels of protein per serving as whey and casein, but note that it is not a complete protein like whey, casein, and soy. 

Hemp

Hemp protein has more than just protein – it also has a high content of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Do note that this is not the best choice for those trying to lose weight, since the high-fat content gives it a higher calorie count.

Now that you know everything about protein, learn about the best way to set your healthy goals!


How to Do Workout Recovery Right

How to Do Workout Recovery Right

Most people don’t think about the effort that goes into a workout after the fact, but your recovery period is one of the most important parts of getting fit!

Your workout recovery habits should include more than a shower and a protein shake.

Since training tears muscle fibers and depletes your energy, your body needs time to repair itself before the next workout.

Let’s discuss what you can do to recover smartly so you can be ready to train hard again.


Why Workout Recovery is Important

When you keep pushing your body to improve physically without a break, you’re really taking steps backward in your progress.

Having a recovery routine after your workout is essential to muscle and tissue repair as well as overall fitness and health. Your muscles need 24-48 hours to repair and rebuild before they are ready to be trained again.

Ignoring this will lead to muscle breakdown instead of strength building. Talk about a waste of effort!


Recovery Recommendations

Right after your workout:

Active Recovery

As you wind down your workout, add in some active recovery time to allow yourself to cool down. You can do any gentle movement you prefer, like walking or dynamic stretches.

This is important because it helps muscles repair faster by improving circulation to better transport nutrients and remove the waste you built up during exercise (like lactic acid).

Stretch

After your active recovery, slow down a little more with gentle stretching. Don’t push too hard or over stretch your muscles. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds.

Foam Roll

While you’re on the floor stretching, grab a foam roller and work on any spots that are a little tight, like your hips and IT bands.

Be gentle! If it hurts, it’s not a good thing. Move to the next spot.

Relax

Don’t rush out after your workout. You need to slow everything down, including your mind which will likely be racing after a hard workout.

Give yourself a few minutes to listen to slow-tempo music and just breathe.

Any added stress will make your recovery period longer, so by reducing some of the stress now, you’ll speed things up.


Nutrition:

Hydrate

Plain water is best for hydration, but if you sweat heavily during your workout, you can grab coconut water or a low-calorie sports drink.

Continue to drink more water for the rest of the day and possibly the next if you have an evening workout. Also, skip the post-workout happy hour drinks.

Alcohol will further dehydrate you and interfere with your muscle repair.

Have a recovery meal

Ideally, you should try to eat within one hour after you finish your workout to help your muscles rebuild and to regain some of the energy you expended in your workout.

This doesn’t have to be anything complicated, just a mixture of protein and carbohydrates. Chocolate milk is an easy and popular option, and you can also try a protein shake, hummus, and whole-grain pita, or Greek yogurt.


When you get home:

Sleep more

Our bodies recover during sleep, when certain hormones are released, including the most important hormone for recovery, growth hormone (GH).

GH helps with tissue growth and repair, which means those muscles are made in both the gym and the bed.

Listen to your body

The most important thing you can do to recover quickly is to listen to your body. Sometimes it takes longer to recover from a workout than usual. That’s fine!

Pay attention to your energy levels and any muscle soreness.

Ignoring these signs and hitting the gym before your body is ready will counteract your best efforts.


Getting the “Sunshine Vitamin” Without the Sun

Getting the “Sunshine Vitamin” Without the Sun

Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin” because we usually associate it with soaking up the rays.

But, how do we get Vitamin D safely without risking sunburn or harmful rays?

And on top of that, why is it important, and what’s the big deal if we don’t get enough?


Why Vitamin D?

Vitamin D plays an important role in bone growth and development by absorbing calcium and helping regulate the immune system, but research has found Vitamin D acts as a hormone rather than a vitamin.

The studies have found almost every tissue type in our body has receptors for Vitamin D and requires it for optimal performance.

How much should I get?

600 IU (international units) is a common recommendation, but considering genetics, input, and output, recommendations depend on the individual.

There is also debate on the general recommended amount in the medical community. If you haven’t had a Vitamin D test, most doctors include them in annual physicals.

Depending on the amount in your blood, they might suggest over-the-counter supplements, or in severe cases, start you on a prescribed amount and continue regular measurements.

How do I get my Vitamin D?

Getting outside and exposing your skin for ten minutes each day can raise your levels of Vitamin D.

But, if you’re fair-skinned, live in the city, or don’t get outside much, that’s ten minutes too many. Outside of supplements, the best way is through your diet.


Based on the 600 IU recommendations here are some of the best Vitamin D rich foods:

A cup of mushrooms exposed to sunlight contain: 

  • Portabellos 163% DV (daily value)
  • Maitake 131% DV
  • Morel 23% DV
  • Chanterelle 19% DV
  • Oyster 4% DV
  • White 1% DV

Three ounces of oily fish contains:

  • Trout 108% DV
  • Smoked Salmon 97% DV
  • Swordfish 94% DV
  • Canned Trout 86% DV
  • Salmon 75% DV
  • Smoked White Fish 73% DV
  • Mackerel 65% DV
  • Halibut 33% DV
  • Tilapia 21% DV
  • Sole and Flounder 20% DV
  • Tuna Steak 12% DV

Three ounces of tofu contains:

  • Firm 23% DV
  • Lite Silken Tofu 21% DV
  • Sprouted Tofu, Extra Firm and Firm Tofu 14% DV

Dairy Products per cup contains:

  • Queso Fresco 22% DV
  • Buttermilk, Fortified Low Fat Fruit Yogurt, Fortified Whole Milk, Fortified Goat’s Milk 20% DV
  • Fortified Semi-Skim Milk 20% DV
  • Fortified Skim Milk 19% DV

Three ounces of pork contains:

  • Extra Lean Ham 12% DV
  • Spare Ribs 15% DV
  • Turkey and Pork Sausage 12% DV
  • Pork Shoulder 9% DV
  • Pork Loin 8% DV

A cup of eggs contains:

  • Hard-Boiled 20% DV
  • Raw, scrambled, poached, or omelets 7% DV

A cup of dairy alternatives contains:

  • Plain Soy Yogurt 22% DV
  • Soymilk 20% DV
  • Almond Milk, Chocolate Almond Milk, Non-soy Imitation Milk or Rice Drink 17% DV

Although the recommended amount of Vitamin D is under debate, the importance of it is not.

If you’re found to have a deficiency, talk to your doctor about taking supplements and introduce Vitamin D foods into your diet.

Stress is something that could affect your health. Manage your stress, even if you are busy!


All About High-Intensity Interval Training

All About High-Intensity Interval Training

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and less-intense activity or rest.

That’s why it’s called “interval training” – you are doing work and rest in intervals.

A simple example of this is sprinting as fast as you can for one minute and then walking for two minutes. You would then repeat those intervals.

A common ratio of work to rest is 1:2, where you work as hard as your can for a set time (10 seconds, 30 seconds, one minute) and then rest twice as long (20 seconds, one minute, or two minutes).

Any intense activity paired with a low-intensity activity will work for your intervals. The typical HIIT workout lasts 25-40 minutes, but you can work within your limitations.

Be as simple or as creative as you wish. I’ve created a sample HIIT workout for you at the end of the article


Benefits of HIIT

There are many good reasons for trying HIIT workouts:

  • It’s efficient
  • It burns fat, not muscle
  • You don’t have to use equipment (but can)
  • It’s not at all boring
  • You’ll improve your heart health
  • You can do it anywhere
  • It’s challenging and adaptable to any fitness level

A Note

We at veedah love a good HIIT workout, but it isn’t the only type of training you should be doing, and doing too much of it can backfire on you.

At a maximum, do HIIT three times a week with less intense cardio and weight lifting sessions in between.

You should always check with your doctor before starting a high-intensity exercise routine.

HIIT Workout to Try

Warm-Up

  • Forearm plank (45 sec/rest 15 sec)
  • Squat jumps (45 sec/rest 15 sec)
  • Push-ups (45 sec/rest 15 sec)
  • Bicycle crunches (45 sec/rest 15 sec)
  • Lateral lunges (45 sec/rest 15 sec)
  • Mountain climbers (45 sec/rest 15 sec)
  • Repeat 3 times

Cool Down & Stretch

Learn more about High-Intensity Training with this other article.

Avoiding Portion Distortion

Avoiding Portion Distortion

“Portion distortion” is a big problem for us when it comes to restaurant food and what we make at home.

We’re going to talk about portion control and how you can recalibrate what looks like a “normal” amount to eat.


Portion vs. Serving

A portion is the amount of food you choose to eat at one time. That would be what you pour into a bowl or the total amount of chips you’ve mindlessly eaten from the bag.

A potion may be more or less than a serving.

A serving is the amount of food recommended on nutrition labels and in food guidance.

We need to pay attention to our portions because we might underestimate what we consume and overeat without meaning to.

Portion distortion

Restaurant portions are often huge because that communicates value for your money. We get used to the large portion sizes and tend to have trouble with portion sizes at home, too.

According to healthyeating.org, “the size of dinner plates, muffin tins, and pizza pans have grown” and “cars have larger cup holders to accommodate the drink sizes stores sell.”

We have trouble gauging what is a normal portion of food and that has major effects on our weight management and calorie consumption.

Serving Sizes: Then and Now

Food and beverage 1980s (calories) Today (calories)
Turkey sandwich 320 calories 820 calories
French fries 210 calories 610 calories
Bagel 140 calories 350 calories
Slice of pizza 500 calories 850 calories
Soda 85 calories 250 calories


Simple portion control tricks

  • Repackage super-sized bags into portioned containers like sandwich bags
  • Never eat straight from the package
  • Share a meal with a friend when out
  • Use a smaller plate/bowl/glass
  • Beware the health halos like “low-fat,” “gluten-free,” and “organic” because if we think a food is healthy, we tend to overeat it
  • Avoid eating in front of the TV or while you are busy with other activities

More awareness of how much you eat, in addition to what you’ve learned about what to eat, will lead to better results from your nutrition plan.


All about the Core

All about the Core

You’ve likely heard a lot about how you should work on your core and that these exercises are an important part of a well-rounded fitness program.

Unfortunately, many people don’t know what that means or why it matters. If you’re one of those people, no problem!

We’re going to give you a quick breakdown of what the core is, why you should care, and what to do to work those muscles out.


What is the Core?

Your core is in your midsection, and it is made up of all of the muscles there, like your

  • abs
  • lower lats
  • diaphragm
  • pelvic floor, and more.

It’s called the “core” because most of your body’s movement originates there. In fact, your core works as the center of stability and balance.

There was a time when ab workouts were all the rage. This was mostly focused on getting the coveted six-pack abs, and it was all about looking good.

In the late 90s, fitness professionals realized that there was much more to the core than abs. In fact, the abdominals are only a small part!

If you’re still seeking that six-pack, don’t worry. Core work gets you there...with extra benefits along the way.


Why focus on core strength?

When you develop your core strength, you:

  • Improve balance and stability
  • Make it easier to do most physical activities
  • Decrease lower back pain
  • Improve your posture
  • Decrease your risk of injury

Working on your core creates a strong foundation for all of your other muscles. This should be something you do at every workout.

Core Workout

Try this core workout. Make sure that you are breathing freely and not holding your breath during the movements. 

Keep your muscles tight when you contract them. You should feel them working.


  • Plank - 30 seconds
  • Side plank - 30 seconds, switch sides
  • V-Ups - 15
  • Russian twists - 15 per side
  • Bird dogs - 15 per side
  • High plank - 30 seconds

These exercises should be done on a comfortable surface, like a mat or carpet. You can make this workout easier by reducing time and reps or harder by increasing them.

Focus on the Now to Get to Your Goals

Focus on the Now to Get to Your Goals

We typically devote most of our time and thinking to our health goals – what it will be like when we achieve them, what needs to happen to get there…but now going to talk about something equally important but different.

We’re talking about you being exactly where you need to be in your life. That may be at your goals, or it may be at the very beginning of the process or anywhere in between.

I want to propose this: Any point on that path to your goals is the right one.

First, I want to stress something really important, and, at the same time, pass along some wisdom from two of my favorite women.

My yoga teacher trainer, Dianne, once told me: “Wherever you are is exactly where you need to be.”

That was a hard sell for a type-A person like me who’s in constant motion, but she’s right. If that one doesn’t do it for you, how about this from my friend and mentor Amber: “You can’t be late for your destiny.”

Now, as smart as both of those women are, they didn’t make up those sentiments.

They just happened to say them right when I needed them to. Dianne said that to me when I was frustrated that I wasn’t mastering yoga class cueing quickly enough for my taste. 

She assured me that I was at the right point in my training and that rushing it wouldn’t provide the result I wanted. And she was absolutely right.

Amber’s point about our destiny timing came at a live event with a bunch of go-getters.

Many in the crowd (including me) were worried that we were going to miss the boat if we didn’t do everything on our lists to reach our goals right there and then.

This causes a lot of internal screaming and panic, BTW. She’s right, you know. 

Your goals and destiny that are created by setting them are uniquely yours. You can’t miss what’s meant for you.

When you’re driven and constantly looking to achieve more in life, health, work, finances, family, and on and on, it’s easy to forget about all of the steps you’ve taken to get where you are.

We spend a lot of time focused on the future, which is good! It’s helpful to have a goal in mind.

You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about staying in the present from the mindful folks in your life. That’s also good. But, it can be helpful to take a gander at the past to see all that you’ve done to get here and now.

We tend to forget all that we’ve already done when we get stuck perseverating over what has to be done now and when we’ll get to our goals.

But, Kelly, tick-tock. Gotta keep grinding and hustling, right?

Let’s try to rework that way of thinking. If, as Dianne said, you’re where you should be, and, as Amber said, you can’t be late for where you’re going…what’s the rush? Why are you stressing yourself out?

It’s time to take a quick inventory of where you’ve been.

Do you ever feel like your efforts should be getting you to your goals faster? 

We’re going to take a quick inventory of these wonderful things you’ve accomplished so for this year. Go ahead. Write them all down. No victory is too small.

Okay, let’s add your accomplishments from the last 5 years. 

How about your life highlights? Did you maybe forget about that car you bought all by yourself or the 5k you ran or the time you taught your little sister her multiplication tables? 

Where you are right now is a culmination of all of your hard work. It’s also a result of your mistakes, failures, and missteps.

Each success, failure, and something in between gives us information for our next step on the path.

Keep adding to this inventory as you achieve things, big and small. Maybe fancy it up a bit so you enjoy looking back at it.

you are here, which is a long way from back there where you started. And, here, is a great place on the path to your goals.


What to Do about Failure

What to Do about Failure

Michael Jordan said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.”

Failure happens – even to the greatest athletes out there – but it doesn’t mean that you can’t turn those failures into success.

We’re going to talk about what to do when you, inevitably, fail on the path to reaching your goals.


Growth Mindset

The most valuable thing you can do for yourself is to learn how to have a “growth mindset.”

This is a way of thinking about everything in your life that lets you learn from failures and see them as an opportunity to grow and be better in the future. 

The opposite of a growth mindset is a “fixed mindset” where you believe that you are who you are and growth isn’t possible.

This type of mindset favors the idea that talent alone creates success. This type of thinker feels that failure says something about them personally. 

Abby Wambach said that “failure is not something to be ashamed of; it’s something to be powered by.”

Failing at something doesn’t make you a failure. We need to have information about what doesn’t work to figure out what does.


What to Do about Failure

Failure is natural when you’re working to better yourself. Here’s what you can do to make failure into a learning experience and fuel for success:

  1. Be thorough in an analysis of what went well. Nothing is a complete failure, but we can miss the good stuff when focusing only on the negative. The good parts are also valuable information because you’ll want to repeat what you were doing right!
  2. Be thorough about what went wrong and why, but don’t get too in your head over it. Figure out the issue and move on. 
  3. Ban negative self-talk and any connections to your self-worth. Failure is not an indicator of your overall abilities or qualities. 
  4. Focus on your plan for trying again. You now have the information you need to move forward. You won’t make the same mistake again!

Failure is only information. Think of it as feedback on your plans and goals. You learn what needs rethinking and then you’re on your way to greatness.