The right exercise clothes can improve your workout — and your attitude
You don’t have to wait until you’re fit to look good while working out. In fact, experts say, what you wear to the gym can go a long way toward helping you stay motivated and confident — and can even improve your workout performance.
“Putting on a flattering outfit motivates people to actually go to the gym or to exercise outdoors in public,” says performance coach Larina Kase, PsyD, MBA, president of Performance and Success Coaching LLC in Philadelphia.
This, of course, raises the question: Just what is flattering? That depends on your individual body shape and size, says Kase.
As a general rule, though, she suggests that black shorts, a sports bra, and a colored top — lime green, soft pink, and shades of blue are in style right now — are a flattering choice for most women.
Men tend toward black for their workout outfits, which is always a safe choice, says Lynne Brick, BSN, president and owner of Brick Bodies and Lynne Brick’s Women’s Health & Fitness in Baltimore. “Everyone looks great in black, regardless of size, shape, or fitness level.”
Those who are not confident about their body images should look for workout clothes that provide good coverage. A short-sleeved shirt and mid-thigh-length shorts with a relaxed (but not oversized) fit are a good choice for men and women alike, she says. Heavyset people may experience leg chafing while working out, but wearing compression or bicycle-type shorts under a looser pair of shorts will eliminate this problem, Ediger says.
Aside from avoiding anything unflattering (there are usually lots of mirrors in a gym!), it’s a good idea to stay away from any outfit you don’t feel good about.
Exercise requires energy, and putting on the sweats you wore for three days straight when you broke up with your last boyfriend or girlfriend is an energy-zapper.
After all, workout clothes serve both a practical and a psychological purpose. “On a practical level, you need special workout clothes simply because street clothes are either too constricting, or they’ll rip, or they’re made from non-breathable fibers,” Moran says. “But psychologically, you need special workout gear to convince yourself it’s time to work out.
Put Function First
Of course, looking good isn’t the only consideration when choosing a workout outfit. Your best bet for any activity is to choose clothes that stretch and bend with you, the experts say.
“You don’t want to choose loose-fitting or short shorts, and then not be able to use the machines or do floor exercises that require a straddle position,” Kase says. Long shirts with loose sleeves will also get in the way, and could even be dangerous if they get caught in the equipment.
Loose-fitting tops are also not appropriate for yoga or Pilates because they can ride up during some of the moves, says Ellen Wessel, president of the Moving Comfort athletic wear company, High-impact activities also require more form-fitting tops — especially for larger-breasted women — to minimize movement and promote comfort and support, Wessel says.
Comfort is key, too. So look for clothing that moves moisture away from the body as quickly as possible, Ediger says.
“A 100% cotton T-shirt will get soaking wet quickly and will stay wet,” she says. As a result, you’ll be uncomfortable and may be tempted to cut your workout short.
And take care not to overdress. “A good rule of thumb is to keep cool by wearing as little clothing as you feel comfortable in (and is appropriate to the setting) because people exercise more vigorously when they are not overheated,” Kase says.
Most important of all, make sure you’re wearing a good pair of workout shoes, says Brick. Go for quality, and choose the right pair for your activity.
“Shoes need to be supportive and specific to the activity you plan to do,” she says. Running shoes, for example, do not provide enough lateral support for the side-to-side movement that is called for in an aerobics or step class.
What Lies Beneath
Don’t overlook your underwear — especially if you’re a woman.
“Larger-breasted women can carry as much as five pounds per breast, making participating in high-impact activities like running difficult because of severe breast discomfort, says Elizabeth Goeke, executive vice president of Moving Comfort.
These women should look for workout bras made specifically for their figures, with such features as adjustable straps for a custom fit and breathable fabrics to minimize chafing. Smaller-busted women will benefit from sports bras in their sizes.
For optimal comfort for both women and men, choose the right fabric for your underwear.
“Cotton is not the right choice,” says Goeke. “Look for performance fabric that is breathable, moisture-wicking and quick-drying. These fabrics won’t promote bacteria growth and are better than cotton for health reasons.”
Or you can bypass underpants altogether and work out in fitness shorts, pants, or tights with a built-in crotch panel, Wessel adds. Don’t wear underwear with these garments, she says, because it will negate the benefits of the performance fabrics used for the built-in liners.
While you want to look good while working out, exercising while fully made up is never a good idea, says Rachel Weingarten, co-founder of airkisses.com, an online style sheet for women.
“If you’re serious about your workout, then forgo any makeup, which might clog your pores while you sweat,” says Weingarten. Opt for a clean face, with a cotton or terry headband to keep sweat off your face. If you prefer not to go completely au naturale, use a tinted moisturizer and tinted lip balm to add a bit of color to your face.
Don’t overdo the jewelry either, which can get in the way and may make it hard to grip equipment and lift weights, Weingarten says.
Instead, focus on a sharp-looking outfit, and the great feeling you get from a successful workout.
-Adapted from WebMD
Hi, I’m Deacon Shoenberger, a licensed clinical psychologist. If you read last month’s newsletter you started paying attention to your regular routine and you’ve been to the doctor, cut down the booze, are well-rested, moderately exercised and ready to go…. So what’s next? Get after the diet you say?
Well, let’s take a look at the research on dieting. The New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most respected publications in medical research, tells us that 92% of diets fail after 2 years and 95% fail after 5 years. This does not bode well for diets. (But any of us who have been on a diet know that one). How many times have you lost 30 pounds only to gain back 40?
There are a number of reasons for this failure rate, but the one we will take a look at today is called deprivation. There are two types of deprivation associated with eating, biological and psychological. Biological deprivation is the process inside your body that is associated with your innate drive to eat. This process kicks off pretty quickly after you start restricting yourself from food, or dieting. Within as little as three hours, your physiology changes and your blood sugar levels (glucose and glycogen) start shifting to a “pre-starvation” mode. Cortisol (the stress hormone) starts releasing, and your body starts to move into a protective mode. And over time, chronic dieting has been shown to teach the body to retain more fat when you start eating again, slow the rate of weight loss with each successive attempt to diet, slow down your metabolism, wipe out the satiety (fullness) cues, and increase binges and cravings. Not good…
Psychological side effects of chronic dieting include increased stress, anxiety, depression and lowered self-esteem, reduced trust in others and yourself, and a belief by some obese individuals that there is something fundamentally wrong with their character. Speaking of having been there, anyone who has a loved one who has been on a diet can speak to how crabby, irritable, and anxious they get the longer they are deprived of food. And not just over time – it happens so immediately my wife can speak to how crabby I get if I get busy during the day and don’t eat my usual meals….
Since deprivation is not the answer, what do we do? One critical deviation from traditional dieting that takes place here is that the doctors and coaches at iMetabolic aren’t looking to restrict calories, but instead are looking to restore healthy, regular eating and lifestyle routines. By providing healthy meal replacements, regular eating routines, education about food choices and eating pattern we are not looking to restrict food, but are seeking to allow your body and mind to heal the damage that has been done through years and years of restrictive dieting. This will allow you to stabilize physically and emotionally and put you on the path to long-term health. And if you happen to lose weight along the way (which we know you will) even better.
Walking can cut obesity gene effect in half
The millions of people whose genes make them prone to obesity aren’t at the mercy of nature. How they choose to spend their free time can make a big difference in their waistline, according to new research presented at an American Heart Association (AHA) meeting in San Diego.
Watching TV for two hours each day increases the effect of certain obesity-related genes by as much as 25%, the researchers estimate.
If, on the other hand, people with a strong genetic predisposition to obesity spend one hour each day walking briskly or engaging in comparable exercise, they can halve the genes’ effect.
“In terms of evolution, this makes sense,” says Dr. Roxanne Sukol, a preventive medicine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, who was not involved in the study. “We didn’t evolve to sit still for hours a day.”
To explore the interaction between behavior and genes, Harvard researchers analyzed data on more than 12,000 men and women participating in two large studies of health professionals.
The researchers measured the participants’ genetic risk by identifying how many of the 32 known variants of the so-called obesity gene each person had. (The gene is officially known as the fat mass and obesity associated, or FTO, gene.)
Roughly half of the general population has some genetic risk for obesity, says lead author Qibin Qi, Ph.D., a research fellow in nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, in Boston.
At the same time, Qi and his colleagues looked at how many hours per week each of the participants spent in front of the TV, as well as how much time they devoted to physical activity. Two years into the study, the researchers also recorded the participants’ body mass index (BMI), a ratio of height to weight used to measure body fat.
Each additional obesity-related gene variant was associated with a 0.13-unit increase in BMI, the researchers found. To put it another way, the average person with 7 to 8 variants can expect to have a BMI roughly one unit higher than it would be without the variants. (One BMI unit is equivalent to about six pounds on a 5-foot, 6-inch woman.)
The influence of the gene variants, however, appeared to be strongest in people who watched the most TV. The variants’ effect on BMI was about four times greater in people who spent 40 hours or more per week in front of the TV than it was in those who watched an hour per week or less.
“Prolonged TV watching exacerbates the effect of the gene,” Qi says.
By the same token, weakening the genes’ effect was as simple as switching off the television and going for a brisk walk. The average difference in BMI between a person with the highest genetic obesity risk and a person of identical height with the lowest risk would be cut in half if the high-risk person were to walk for an hour each day, Qi and his colleagues estimate.
The main problem with TV watching is that it tends to involve so much sitting, Qi says. As long as they keep moving while they watch, people don’t necessarily need to miss their favorite shows.
“Rather than just sitting there, I have a better idea: When they watch, they should exercise,” he says. “There’s nothing wrong with TV per se, but TV watching may be indicative of a sedentary lifestyle.”
Sukol often recommends pedometers to patients who are trying to be more active. The devices enable patients to track their progress by measuring the number of steps they take each day, and they also motivate people to keep walking.
“Human beings are designed to move,” Sukol says. “If we’re not moving, we put ourselves at risk.”
Qi and his colleagues presented their findings today at the AHA’s annual meeting on nutrition, physical activity, and metabolism. Unlike the research published in medical journals, the study has not been thoroughly reviewed by other experts in the field.
Hi, I am Deacon Shoenberger, a licensed clinical psychologist. I’ll be writing some brief articles over the next several months about topics that may be of interest to those of you currently pursuing or thinking about engaging in medically supervised weight loss. As many of you know, making significant changes in your own personal behavior is very difficult to do, especially when considering a shift that involves as many factors as losing weight.
Increasing attention to what, when, and how much you eat, exercising more, becoming more aware of your emotional responses, maintaining motivation, dealing with cravings – these are all aspects of the weight loss challenge that can sometimes feel overwhelming when you begin reading or talking about weight loss, or even when you enter a weight loss program. And further, the factors that drive the decision to make the change can sometimes be considered a crisis. “My wife is going to leave me,” “the doctor says I’m going to die,” “I just found out I have a marker for diabetes” – these are some of the reasons people give for wanting to improve their health. As a result, sometimes the basics can get lost in the shuffle, which is unfortunate because the basics are often the most necessary aspects of successful behavior change.
Returning to the basics has been presented in many different ways and has always been expressed as a critical step to be taken prior to attempting to address more complicated problems. Maslow in his hierarch of needs identified physiological needs (food, water, sex, sleep, etc) as the base layer of needs to be met for human emotional health. Without attention to the basics, there is no way to pay attention to anything else. Or, as an emergency room assessment specialist once told me, “how am I really going to know if someone is homicidal if they are hungry, thirsty, cold, in pain, or tired?”
Self-help groups and addictions treatment programs in the 90’s espoused the acronym HALT – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired – as a way to quickly assess your readiness to make effective decisions and to highlight the importance of taking care of your basic needs before making complicated or important decisions. “If you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired it’s probably not the best time to think about leaving your husband.”
Current behavior therapies have combined the acronym and hierarchy of needs ideas as skills for reducing emotional vulnerabilities and increasing your ability to regulate your emotions and make better decisions. Treating physical illness, eating regularly, avoiding altering drugs, balancing your sleep, and exercise make up the skills practiced in this type of therapy. Again, the fundamental idea is that the foundation for effectively making a lifestyle change is to make sure the basics are covered first.
In sum, trying to effectively lose weight is tough and will involve much more than just eating less and exercising more. And with all of the anticipation about what you will learn and how it will turn out and what everyone will think, sometimes it may feel like a roller coaster. At these times, not only is it useful to remember the basics, it can be critical. So if you are getting ready to engage in this process or even if you are already on the road, get good at the basics – sleep enough, eat enough, exercise, kiss your wife, cut down the booze, and get to the doctor if you are sick. None of us do these as well as we ideally could, but the better you get at them, the higher your likelihood of success at changing any behavior.
Good luck until next time when we’ll talk about the different aspects of behavior change and some of the problem with traditional dieting.
Your heart has a big job to do — and a healthy heart plays a huge role in your overall health. The heart pumps blood through your vessels to all your vital organs, including your brain, so chronic heart or blood vessel disease can lead to not only stroke and heart attack, but depression and decreased brain function. There are several habits that everyone should follow for better heart health, and one of the most important is a diet for a healthy heart. A heart-healthy diet means sticking to foods low in unhealthy fats, specifically saturated and trans fats. Just as important, it also means eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats such as fatty fish, nuts, and avocados, which can help promote weight management and prevent heart disease
If you want a healthy heart, you have to work at keeping fit — unfortunately most of us don’t. A study conducted by the CDC found that more than 68 percent of adults are overweight, while another 35 percent are obese. Weight management is one of the major keys to help prevent heart disease. You can watch your weight by eating a healthy diet in addition to getting plenty of exercise. Exercise is one of the best ways to build a strong heart and promote weight management. Aerobic exercise, which gets your heart rate up, is best, but strength training can help your heart, too. The more exercise you get, the better, but even just an hour of exercise per week can help prevent heart disease. If you really want heart-health benefits, a brisk, 30 minute walk most days of the week is excellent exercise.
A number of health problems are linked to heart disease and can stand in the way of a healthy heart. Diabetes management is vital for heart health, more patients with diabetes die from heart disease rather than the diabetes itself. Other conditions that threaten heart health are high blood pressure and high cholesterol — you’ll need to work closely with your doctor to prevent heart disease by bringing these conditions under control through diet, exercise, weight management, and medications, if necessary. You’ll feel better and improve your heart health to boot.
Smoking causes health threats that go beyond serious damage to your lungs. It can also damage your arteries and threaten your heart. One study found that even in young people, smoking was associated with significant heart problems. If you smoke but want to commit to having a healthy heart, recognize that you may need help beating your addiction. To take charge of your heart health and overall health, explain to your doctor that you want to quit and ask for recommendations on smoking cessation programs. Worried about weight management? Add exercise to your post-smoker lifestyle to stay busy and fit.
When your stress levels go up, so does your risk of heart disease. For a strong heart, find effective and healthy ways to alleviate stress. Regular exercise is a great way to reduce stress. Learning relaxation techniques, a good laugh, and venting can all help relieve stress and promote a healthy heart.
Wow, along the lines of better late than never, the USDA just issued some new school lunch nutrition standards. It’s only been 15 years since the last standards were established. In that period of time, the obesity epidemic has sky-rocketed. As a whole these new standards seem basically sound. We are hearing about more fruits and vegetables everyday along with smaller portions. Only low-fat and skim milk will be offered as well as a lot more whole grain. Additionally schools will reportedly get more money per meal to make all of this a reality.
However, there are still some disturbing players out there that are helping shape policy. For example, Congress voted 2011 to disallow the USDA from limiting the serving size of potatoes in school lunches. There are also laws out there allowing schools to count tomato paste on pizza as a vegetable. However, the USDA seems steadfast in their efforts to make sure that beneficial changes occur. We’ll see… Here are a few details that seem promising: Calorie restriction depending upon the grade being served. The ranges go from 550 on the younger scale to 850 max for the oldest kids. Of the three ranges, each has a cap that permits no more than a 100 calorie swing. I.E. 550 to 650 for grades K-5. Additionally, not more than 10% of total calories can come from saturated fats and all meals must have zero trans fats. It would be nice to see some “rules” on protein. All in all, some decent steps are taking place. Will this be a total game changer? Only time will tell, but it’s nice to see that we are at least trying to make some positive changes.
Attached is a link to the full press release: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2012/01/0023.xml
A very interesting article just surfaced from the British Journal of Cancer tying one third (1/3) of all cancers are to tobacco, diet, alcohol, and obesity. Tobacco is the largest and most significant factor in both men and women. However, for women, being overweight and obese is the second most significant contributor and in men it’s number four on the list. Bottom line is this information helps paint the picture that ourL choices do matter and we all do have some control over the possible outcome related to these risk factors.
There are a number of assertions back and forth about holiday weight gain. Some sources say it’s five or more pounds while others dispute this and say that their research only shows one pound or so. Whatever the number is, there is no doubt that the opportunity to eat and drink more than usual is often abundant during this period of time. It starts with the Halloween candy, goes through to Thanksgiving, the holiday party season, and then finally with New Years. Food, food, it’s everywhere and so are the beverages that are laden with calories. Whether it’s one pound or five is obviously debatable; however, what is a know fact for most of us is that this weight does not automatically leave us after the new year and this is the primary concern. So the thought for the day is be careful during the holdiay season about what goes into our system from a caloric perspective. If we can maintain our weight during this bountiful time, then that’s a major win.
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Surviving the Season
It happens every year about this time. The air gets cooler, the days get shorter — and your jeans start getting tighter.
Ready or not, feasting season is here — that seemingly endless time of temptation that starts with Halloween candy and continues with Thanksgiving stuffing and pies, Christmas cookies and New Year’s toasts. Then comes Super Bowl snacks and Valentine’s Day chocolates.
Statistics show Americans tend to gain anywhere from 1 to 10 pounds during the end-of-the-year festivities.
And then there’s exercise. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, only 35% of Americans age 18 or older engaged in regular, leisure-time physical activity in 2009. Add in the time demands of the holidays and the urge to stay inside because of the weather, and you have a recipe for even more inactivity.
With all this working against us, just how can we keep from overeating and under exercising during the Halloween-through-Valentine’s Day season?
First, it’s important to understand why it’s so hard to keep up healthful habits this time of year. During the fall and winter seasons, the experts say, many factors combine to increase the urge to overeat. They include:
The same factors that contribute to overeating can also lead to physical inactivity.
“The No. 1 reason people report for not exercising is lack of time,” says Cedric Bryant, PhD, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise.
And, of course, overfull stomachs from all that holiday feasting, as well as stress, exhaustion, and cold weather, can dampen the best of workout intentions.
To make the feasting season a healthier one, experts say it’s important to do three things: Practice awareness, manage your stress and emotions, and plan ahead.
1. Practice Awareness
2. Manage Stress and Emotions
3. Plan Ahead
The Bottom Line
The bottom line, the experts say, is to try to maintain a healthy lifestyle both in and outside of the fall/winter feasting season. Constant weight gains and losses can be harmful to your health and your psyche.
The best way to survive the feasting season? Keep in mind that celebrations are really about family and friends — not food.
Adapted from WebMD Weight Loss Clinic
Original Article By Dulce Zamora
Food is an important part of many holidays, celebrations, family and cultural traditions.
In fact, special occasions often center around food. As a result, many people gain a little (or a lot of) weight between Thanksgiving and the New Year. What’s to blame? Perhaps it’s all the tempting treats available during the holiday season or the pressure from family, friends, and co-workers to overeat. Maybe it’s the increased emotional eating (whether it be from holiday stress or holiday joy) or the extreme laxity with eating and physical activity regimens in anticipation for the strict “new diet and exercise plan” you’re going to start January 1st. Regardless of the reasons, it is not necessary to avoid holiday festivities in an attempt to maintain your weight. Consider these 10 tips for fully enjoying the holiday season without gaining weight!
1. Focus on weight maintenance vs. weight loss during the holidays. Maintenance of your present weight is a big enough challenge during the holiday season. Don’t set yourself up for failure by making unrealistic goals for yourself.
2. Plan on NOT dieting after the New Year. Anticipation of food restriction sets you up for binge-type eating over the holidays (“after all, if I’m never going let myself eat this again after Jan. 1st, I might as well eat as much as possible now!”)
3. Be physically active every day. Often, busy holiday schedules (or lack of structured schedules) bump off exercise routines. Physical activity, especially aerobic activities (like brisk walking, jogging, bicycling, and swimming) can help relieve stress, regulate appetite, and burn up extra calories from holiday eating.
4. Eat a light snack before going to holiday parties. It is not a good idea to arrive at a party famished. Not only are you more likely to overeat, but you are also less likely to resist the temptation of eating the higher fat and higher calorie foods. Try eating a piece of fruit, a small carton of yogurt, or a string cheese before you go.
5. Make a plan. Think about where you will be, who you will be with, what foods will be available, what foods are really special to you (that you really want to eat) vs. those that you could probably do without, what are your personal triggers to overeat and how can you minimize them. Once you’ve thought about all of these things, make a plan of action. It’s much easier to deal with a difficult social eating situation if you’ve already planned for it.
6. Take steps to avoid recreational eating. While some foods are more calorie-dense than others, no food will make you gain weight unless you eat too much of it. At parties and holiday dinners, we tend to eat (or keep eating) beyond our body’s physical hunger simply because food is there and eating is a “social thing.” To avoid recreational eating, consciously make one plate of the foods you really want. Eat it slowly–enjoying and savoring every tasty bite. Then, when you’re done, pop a mint or stick of gum in your mouth, get a tall glass of water and sip on it throughout the night, or position yourself away from the buffet table or food trays to keep yourself from overeating.
7. Reduce the fat in holiday recipes. There are plenty of low fat and low calorie substitutes that are amazingly tasty. Try using applesauce in place of oil in your favorite holiday breads; use egg substitutes in place of whole eggs; try plain nonfat yogurt in place of sour cream. Magazines are full of reduced calorie and reduced fat holiday recipes. Give them a try, and share your cooking creations with friends and family.
8. Choose your beverages wisely. Alcohol is high in calories. Liquors, sweet wines and sweet mixed drinks contain 150-450 calories per glass. By contrast, water and diet sodas are calorie-free. If you choose to drink, select light wines and beers, and use non-alcoholic mixers such as water and diet soda. Limit your intake to 1 or 2 alcoholic drinks per occasion. And, watch out for calories in soda, fruit punch, and egg nog as well.
9. Enjoy good friends and family. Although food can be a big part of the season, it doesn’t have to be the focus. Holidays are a time to reunite with good friends and family, to share laughter and cheer, to celebrate and to give thanks. Focus more on these other holiday pleasures, in addition to the tastes of holiday foods. The important thing to remember is balance and moderation. It’s OK to eat too much once in a while. Just relax, enjoy the holidays, and remember what the season is all about.
10. Maintain perspective. Overeating one day won’t make or break your eating plan. If you over-indulge at a holiday meal, put it behind you. Return to your usual eating plan the next day without guilt or despair.