By Ana Mantica
You snooze, you lose? Not when it comes to reaching your fitness best. Here's how eating smarter will maximize the quality and power of your zzz's.
Related: More Tips on Getting the Best Rest
Don't skimp, then splurge.
Skipping midday meals may seem like an easy way to shed weight, but doing so can throw off your body's normal sleep pattern. Researchers who followed a group of Muslims during Ramadan (a month of fasting from sunup to sundown) found that the group lost an average of 40 minutes of sleep a night compared with a nonholiday time of year. The likely cause: changes in hormone levels due to fasting. Large, late dinners exacerbate the problem: "A big meal increases the blood flow to your digestive tract, causing your stomach to secrete more gastric acid and making your pancreas and intestinal muscles work harder," Breus says. This stimulates your system instead of calming it.
Related: An 8-Minute Yoga Workout for Better Sleep
Do eat early and often.
Blog Posts by FITNESS Magazine
By Ana ManticaRead More »from How to Eat for Better Sleep
By Paige GreenfieldRead More »from 5 Ways to Beat Workout Boredom
When your brain abandons your workout routine, your body is soon to follow. Here's how to bust out of almost any exercise rut and get back your motivation.
Related: The 48-Hour Workout Jumpstart
Sick of Going Solo
Instant replay: Become a groupie to automatically get a workout buddy or two. Walkers can find a local pack at ava.org, runners at rrca.org, and swimmers at clubswim.com. Or hook up with a virtual partner right here on our site to keep yourself motivated! Head to the message boards and start posting your interests to connect with like-minded exercisers in your area.
Gear shift: Invite friends over for a Wii Fit challenge. Play your way into great shape with All Star Cheer Squad or Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 2 with Dance Mat ($40 to $70, amazon.com).
Related: 7 Ways to Find a Fitness Buddy
Tired of the Treadmill
Instant replay: "The number-one mistake runners make is going one speed, at one incline, every workout," says trainer Jamie Norcini,
By Marianne MagnoRead More »from How I Lost My Baby Weight: Real Moms Dish
If we could only be so lucky to have personal trainers and nutritionists at our beck and call. But you don't need either to lose the baby weight. Real moms dish on how they slimmed down post-pregnancy.
Related: Our Lose the Baby Weight Plan
"Incorporate your baby into your exercise routine."
Erin W., 30, of Scotch Plains, New Jersey, got help from her daughter during her workouts. "Strap your baby into a baby carrier for added resistance when doing squats," she says. "And they make an adorable distraction when you're doing crunches or push-ups!"
Related: Top Moves to Get Your After-Baby Body, Fast!
"Take it 10 minutes at a time."
"When I got the okay from my doctor six weeks after giving birth, I got on the recumbent bike for 10 minutes every day," says mom of two (soon to be three!) Valerie V., 37, of Houston. "I put the baby right next to the bike so I could hop on and off if she needed me. In about four months, I worked up to hour-long sessions, four or five
By Cara KaganRead More »from Get Sleeker Thighs in 4 Moves
Shorts season might be over, but that doesn't mean you're open to a little more thigh jiggle for the winter. Try these exercises that sculpt your front, back, and inner thighs from R. Marcus Minier of the Sports Club/LA in New York City.
Related: More Moves to Tighten Your Thighs
1. Bent-Knee Extension
Targets: hamstrings (back of thigh)
Lie faceup on floor with arms at sides, knees bent 90 degrees and heels shoulder-width apart on a stability ball. Lift hips toward the ceiling, being careful not to overarch back. Hold for 3 counts and lower. Repeat for 8 to 10 reps.
Related: Easy Circuits to Tone Your Trouble Spots
2. Seated Leg Raise
Targets: quads (front of thigh)
Sit on floor with your back pressed into a wall, legs extended in front of you with feet flexed. Raise right leg off floor as high as you comfortably can, keeping foot flexed. Lower to floor without touching; do 20 continuous reps. Repeat with left leg.
Related: 5 Exercises to Love Your Lower Body
By the editors of FITNESS Magazine
There are 168 hours in a week -- but you only need half a dozen of them to shape up and lose weight. Here, 10 ways to make the most of every minute.
Related: Get Fitter, Firmer, Faster! 18 Fitness Shortcuts
1. Just press "intense." Don't have that much time to work out? "Try high-intensity aerobic exercise or resistance training [working at about an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10], which can help you burn an extra 50 to 150 calories during the first two hours after exercise," advises Len Kravitz, PhD, a professor of exercise physiology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. For cardio, incorporate several speed intervals; for strength training, do circuits.
Related: The Best Cardio Interval Blasters
2. Follow the new guidelines. The latest word from the experts at the American College of Sports Medicine: For minimum health gains, do moderately intense cardio (hard enough to break a sweat) for at least 30 minutes, five days a week, plusRead More »from 10 Ways to Go from Fat to Firm
- FITNESS Magazine | Healthy Living – Mon, Sep 26, 2011 5:16 PM EDT
By the editors of FITNESS
On her reality show, Could You Survive?, health-and-fitness guru Pamela Peeke, MD, teaches real women how to get fit enough to be prepared for anything. Here, she shares her get-fit strategies for surviving everyday life's biggest challenges, from couch potato syndrome to the hidden health risks in your pantry.
Related: The Hidden Benefits of Exercise
Health Risk #1: Your Couch
The Culprit: Your couch. "Our culture gives us every excuse not to move," Dr. Peeke says. "We're either glued to our computers, driving someplace, or vegging in front of the TV." And with every step we don't take, we get more and more out of shape.
The Fix: Work in a little exercise whenever you can -- do biceps curls while reading e-mail, get in some lunges while waiting for your laundry to dry. Or do as many bent-knee push-ups as possible. You'll strengthen five muscles at one time.
Related: Made-for-TV Workout: 5 Fast Exercises
Health Risk #2: Your Snacks
The Culprit: Your snacks.Read More »from America's Biggest Health Threats (and How to Overcome Them)
By Jennifer Matarrazo
Your exercise regimen doesn't have to take over your life. Getting the fitness result you want-whether it's losing weight or reshaping your body-can be as simple as squeezing in an extra 30 seconds here or minute there. These fast, tiny tweaks to your program will help you rev your energy level, burn more calories and sculpt new muscle. Incorporate our one-minute workout boosters into your daily routine and say good-bye to flab for good.
Related: More One-Minute Better Body Tricks
1. Do a Kegel while you crunch.
Contract your pelvic-floor muscles-the ones that you use to stop the flow of urine-as you lift and lower. "This will help you recruit more of the entire abdominal group and make the muscles work harder," says Michele Olson, Ph.D., a professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama.
2. Close your eyes on the ball.Read More »from 8 One-Minute Better Body Tricks
"Doing abdominal moves on a stability ball
By Maura Kelly
Organic forms of selenium, a trace mineral in plants and grain-fed animal protein, may guard against breast cancer by normalizing the body's circadian rhythms (the internal clock that regulates how many estrogen receptors -- often linked to the disease -- your cells produce). Get your beneficial daily dose, 55 micrograms, with the selenium-rich foods here and double down on their other health perks.
Related: Shop for a Cause: BCA Products
3 ounces light, canned in oil: 65 micrograms selenium
Also contains: B6: helps the immune system Niacin: lowers cholesterol
Source: Helmut Zarbl, PhD, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, New JerseyTry these healthy recipes:
How to Fight Breast Cancer at Any Age
4 ounces, cooked: 43 micrograms selenium
Also contains: Iron: fights fatigue Protein: builds muscleTry these healthy recipes:
Read More »from 4 Foods That Fight Breast Cancer
By Ayren Jackson-Cannady
For every mile we log, we exert about 200,000 pounds of pressure on each foot. Here's how to injury-proof some of your favorite pairs.
The narrow shape can crowd toes, leading to a bunion (enlargement of the bone around the big toe) or hammertoes (when digits bend), says Marc A. Brenner, DPM, a podiatrist in Glendale, New York.
Search for peep-toes that have a wider toe box. Hint: You should be able to wiggle your toes in various directions -- up and down and side to side.
With no arch support, your tootsies can expand, stretching their ligaments and causing pain and possibly heel problems, says Suzanne Levine, DPM, a podiatric surgeon in New York City.
Before you buy, feel inside to make sure the bottoms have padding around the arch. No cushion? Slip in a pair of orthotic insoles for immediate comfort.
Even a low heel (think one inch) can increase pressure on the bones in the balls ofRead More »from 4 Ways to Injury-Proof Your Shoes
By Jenna Mahoney
Eat right, look younger -- it's as simple as that. Here are 7 superfoods that may help erase lines and turn back time.
Related: What's Your Skin's "Real" Age?
Best for Softening Skin: Pomegranates
Why they work: This fruit is packed with vitamin C, which helps guard against the wrinkling effects of sun damage. Plus, says Debra Jaliman, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, the juice in pomegranate seeds contains both ellagic acid and punicalagin. The first is a polyphenol compound that fights damage from free radicals; the second is a supernutrient that may increase your body's capacity to preserve collagen, the subdermal connective tissue that makes skin look smooth and plump.
Serve yourself: A cup of pomegranate seeds -- not just juice -- every week, suggests Jackie Newgent, RD, a nutritionist based in New York City.
Best for Smoothing Fine Read More »from The Wrinkle-Free Diet