Fuel Up Friday: Pre-Workout Nosh

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Admit it, you have probably have said to yourself: “I am going to be working out later, so I can burn this junk right off!” I have said it myself. And it was only 5 minutes into my work out before the thought occurred to me that the large Italian sub I ate 20 minutes before the gym was not helping me get to Shred City. Most people need at least 4 hours to digest a meal, especially one high in meat and fat. Much like how eating before swimming is a no-no, eating a big meal before a workout is something you should avoid. It can feel like this:

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(I will spare my gracious readers the pitfalls of eating the wrong thing before a long distance run. Trust me, it ain’t pretty.)

But exercising on an empty stomach can put a damper on sculpting that work of art you call a body. Hunger pangs can be a distraction, a drop in blood sugar can exhaust you, and dehydration can serious hinder your pursuit of achieving heroic levels of fitness, so there has to be some middle ground right? Well, today is your lucky day! There are a number of strategies to ensure that you are properly fueled while not negatively affecting your performance.

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First things first, hold on to your butts, because I am really going to blow your mind. You should avoid eating fatty foods. OK, once you get a hold of yourself, we can continue. Ready? Good. Fatty foods take longer for your stomach to digest, which is the key thing to avoid. Digestion can draw blood to your stomach instead of the rest of your body, where it is needed during exercise. You also don’t want food just sitting in your stomach. You should also avoid meat and foods high in fiber. Anything you eat within 2 hours of exercise should be easily digestible, like simple carbs or fruits. And liquids. When it comes to pre-workout snacks, glucose is good. (How often do you hear that these days?)

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Here are some snack ideas and when you should enjoy them:

1 hour-20 minutes before workout

Fruits, oats, whole grain bread

1-2 hours

Greek yogurt, smoothies, peanut butter

Here are some tasty options:

Greek yogurt with low-fat (no chocolate) trail mix

Wheat toast with jam

Apple slices with almond butter

Banana with yogurt

Shakes can be good, but try to stick to a 4:1 carb: protein ratio

Sports drinks should follow these guidelines: per ounces -> 14-15 g carbohydrates, 110 mg sodium, 30 mg potassium

The old tradition of carbo-loading the night before a workout has somewhat lost popularity. If you are eating enough carbs regularly, it shouldn’t be necessary. It can be helpful the night before exercise expected to last 90 minutes or more.

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Another important part of the digestion puzzle is familiarity with your own digestive system, which you should know a thing or two about by now. You need to consider what you react well to and can digest easily. You need to know your own stomach.

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Everybody is different and you need to figure out what you can and can’t do. Michael Phelps can eat a huge sub before a big swim, and I can’t. I also probably can’t win 22 Olympic swimming medals, but in all fairness, I’ve never tried.

Based on my past experience, I think I can make the right choices. Based on what you know about yourself, which do you think is the right thing to eat before a workout?

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Meet the Authors: “Xerxes”

Laides & Gents,

Next up in our popular Meet the Authors series, we present to you:

“Xerxes”

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“Xerxes” is a YoPro Bro hailing from the Boston area. He earned his degree in Business at UConn and spent 3 years working in accounting/financial services, earning his CPA along the way. Much too excitable to last in a career crunching numbers, he returned to school to alter his destiny with the MSIS-MBA dual-masters program at Boston University. A sports fiend and lover of all things that get eaten, you’ll find him trying to balance work with playing sports and getting you to grab some grub. He hit the jackpot with a beautiful wife that works as a dietitian, as he can now use the excuse of healthier foods to eat even more. Just don’t show him Oreos. You’ve been warned.

3 awesome apps to boost your fitness level

In a world where there are hundreds of thousands of Apps, we took a leap of faith and picked 3 of our favorites. Heck, one of them is not even a fitness App, but it will hel you get through those long winter runs.

What are some of your favorite Apps and what do you like about them? 

 

1. MyFitnessPal

This app has over 2 million food items in its database, allowing you to easily keep track of the calories you consume on a daily basis.

It is extremely easy to use – simply open the app, pull the bar code scanner, scan your food item, and voila, you’ve databased the food you just ate!  MyFitnessPal does all the math in the back, giving you calorie breakdowns and a lot more great information to make it extremely easy to keep a food log of everything you eat.  Find out more here:  http://www.myfitnesspal.com/mobile/iphone

App screenshots:

                           

 

2. MapMyRun / MapMyRide / MapMyFitness

This app uses your built-in GPS to track all aspects of your daily activity – whether you’re going for a walk, a bike ride, a run, skiing – you name it! It tracks your movements and gives you duration, distance, pace, speed, elevation, calories burned, and even makes a map of the route you traveled.  You can synch it with your music on your iPhone or Android, take photos of the places you go to… but more importantly it allows you to keep track of your activity and also challenge yourself to do similar workouts / routes faster, bringing a little “gamification” to the table.  Find out more here: http://www.mapmyfitness.com/

App screenshots:

                     

 

3. Spotify

That’s right, the music provider Spotify is also an incredible fitness tool that will help you stay motivated and perhaps even make a tedious workout just a little more exciting!

The great thing about Spotify is that your music is on the cloud. In other words, you don’t need to download songs to your phone so it hugs very little memory. Additionally, you can play ANY song you want and can choose from hundreds – if not thousands – of curated playlists by other users that allow you to find your style and choice. Want to find a Workout Music playlist? it’s there.  Want some techno Workout music? You got it. Prefer some easy-listening Yoga Workout Music? Boom, you can find it there.

While it doesn’t track any stats for your workout, it will help you stay motivated on those long runs / rides. Give a try if you’re not using it today!  Find out more here: https://www.spotify.com/us/

App screenshots:

Wednesday Workout: 5-Pack for That 6-Pack

Last week we started looking at our core, testing out whether we had a weakness and how we could strengthen our midsection. This week we’ll offer a 5-pack of exercises to help you build that 6-pack you’ve always wanted.

First off, let’s make it clear: ab workouts alone won’t get you there. You need a proper, BALANCED diet to pair with your BALANCED workout regimen. You can’t be eating your weight in oreos (trust me, I’d look like The Rock if you could).

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Before we get to ’em, let’s remember that our core is made up of our abdominals and obliques, as well as your lower back muscles. If your lower back is weak, not only will it restrict the capability of your ab workouts but it won’t be able to hold your gut from sagging over your belt line. On another note, a fun little factoid: you can’t actually ‘isolate’ your upper or lower abs. Technically your rectus abdominus is one single muscle, so while you can ‘focus’ on upper or lower, the entire muscle is engaged to some degree during exercise.

1. Spiderman Plank

Are you surprised? You already know of our love for Spidey. And planks. Combine the two and you get an all-around attack on your core, hitting all three major muscle groups. Once in plank position, alternate bringing a knee to your elbow on each side.

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2. Bicycle Crunch

One of the more well-known ab exercises, but doesn’t mean it’s not effective! Combining the bicycle leg motion with the crunch by alternatively bringing your elbows to the opposite knee cranks your obliques and upper and lower abs all at once. Reverse the bicycle to shock your system midway. One left plus one right equals one rep.
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3. Clothespin

A more advanced move, and a sibling to the Fold-up, the Clothespin keeps your abs and obliques burning for the duration of the exercise. Sit straight legged on the floor with your arms out in front of you. Lean back and come to a balance on your tailbone. Focus on keeping your legs straight as you raise them up and bring your hands to your ankles. Slowly return to the starting position (not all the way back to the floor), and repeat.

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4. Leg into Hip Raise

Maximize the impact on your lower abs by adding a hip raise to the top of your leg raise. Lying flat on your back and keeping legs straight with toes pointed, slowly raise your legs up until vertical. Top it off by raising your hips off the ground, driving your legs up into the air. Return you hips to the floor, slowly lower your legs to six inches off the ground, and repeat.

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5. Mason Twists

Hammer it home with some mason twists to chisel out those obliques. Sitting on the floor, engage your abs by leaning back and lifting your feet off the floor, coming to a balance on your tailbone. Preferably with a medicine ball or other weight in hand, twist side to side, tapping the weight on the floor on each side. One rep is a tap on both sides.

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So test out this ab circuit and let us know what you think!

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What’s your favorite ab exercise?

Meet the Authors: “The Pulse”

And now for part two in our five-part series, Meet the Authors:

“The Pulse”

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The Pulse has been putting the “Yo” (and the “Pro”) in “YoPro” for several years now, and doesn’t have plans to stop anytime soon.  He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is currently working his way through a dual degree program at Boston University, getting an MBA with a Masters in Information Systems (along with “Animated Shorts” and “The Genie”).  When he’s not hitting the books, he’s aggressively pursuing a reasonable work/life balance, spending time with friends and family, staying fit, and (sometimes) eating well.  At the time of writing, he was very excited that spring weather was coming in Boston, and was eagerly looking forward to spending more time outside after a long, hard winter.

Stay tuned for more “Meet the Authors” posts, and get acquainted with the rest of the BGBL team!

7 Tips for Better Time Management

If you’re like us, you’re pretty darn busy most of the time.  Sometimes it feels like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.  Here’s the good news: better time management techniques can really make a difference.  We can’t put more hours into your day, but try some of the tips below, and it might feel like we did.

Track your time

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To get started, take a week and actually track where you spend your time.  Where are the gaps?  Are you spending too much time watching TV?  If you don’t know where your time is actually going, it’s hard to think about how you can use your time more effectively.

Get organized

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To-do lists are key.  Don’t waste any effort trying to remember what you need to do.  Just add it to the list.

Do the little things right away

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I know I’m guilty of putting off tasks that will only take a couple of minutes (especially quick email replies).  If it’s a quick task (less than 5 minutes), don’t put it on the to-do list.  Just do it right away and you’ll have one less thing on your mind.

Starting and ending your day

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Every morning, spend just a few minutes planning what you want to accomplish that day.  In the evening, review your list, and see how you did.  If you did it all, did you set the bar too low?  If you didn’t finish your list, were your goals realistic?  What prevented you from completing them?  This sort of reflection at the start and end of your day can make a big difference.

Friends don’t let friends multitask

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What’s wrong with multitasking?  Everyone’s doing it!  Multitasking may seem like a required skill in the 21st century, but sometimes it slows us down.  If you’re juggling five tasks, you’re not going to be working efficiently, and that’s going to lead to time being wasted.  When you can, eliminate distractions and follow one task to completion before moving on to the next.

It’s okay to say “No.”

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The reason many of us got so busy in the first place is because we have a hard time saying “No.”  We can do it all, right?  Maybe, but we do it all well?  Will we drive ourselves crazy in the process?  Knowing your limits is a key aspect of effective time management.

Get your sleep… trust us

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We’ve talked before about the power of sleep.  When it comes to time management this can be counter-intuitive; how can shortening the day give you more time?? Well it won’t, but it will make you much more effective, happier and healthier in the time you do have.

Meet the Authors: “Animated Shorts”

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We hit 100 Likes on our Facebook Page “Busy Guys, Balanced Lives” (https://www.facebook.com/BusyGuysBalancedLives) and had over 1,000 views of our blog itself. To celebrate, we’d like to introduce ourselves to you and thank you for being part of this!

We’ll be rolling out an introduction to each of us, one at a time, over the next 5 days!

“Animated Shorts”

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“Animated Shorts” is a YoPro Bro originally from New England. After earning a BA in Psychology, he spent 6 years in the military before returning to academia. He now balances a dual graduate program at Boston University (an MBA and an MS in Information Systems) with a healthy combination of intramural sports, preposterously large meals, and countless miles running through the streets of Boston. He spends most of his time being sarcastic and is known for being extremely high-energy. And wearing shorts. Active shorts. Short shorts. You might say, “Animated Shorts.”

Don’t want to follow him on a run? Follow him on Twitter instead: @blairlyliving

Or follow all of us: @yoprobros

 

Motivation Monday: 10 Quotes from Runners to Get You Moving!

Need some inspiration? Having a hard time getting your Monday on? A few days before the Boston Marathon, we’ve got some motivation for you! Check out these quotes and #getafterit!

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Source: http://www.bu.edu

“No matter how slow you go, you’ll still be lapping everyone on their couch.” – Unknown

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Source: http://www.mattandthelittlethings.blogspot.com

“I run because long after my foot­prints fade away, maybe I will have inspired a few to reject the easy path, hit the trails, put one foot in front of the other, and come to the same con­clu­sion I did: I run because it always takes me where I want to go.” —Dean Kar­nazes, ultra marathoner

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Source: http://www.blog.amsvans.com

“It’s very hard in the begin­ning to under­stand that the whole idea is not to beat the other run­ners. Even­tu­ally you learn that the com­pe­ti­tion is against the lit­tle voice inside you that wants you to quit.” –George Shee­han, one of the most well known long dis­tance run­ning coaches

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Source: http://www.jamisonfit.wordpress.com

“I run because some­how com­pletely exhaust­ing myself is the most relax­ing part of my day.” —No attri­bu­tion, from Pinterest

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Source: http://www.kevshieldsclimbing.blogspot.com

“If we all did the things we are capa­ble of, we would astound our­selves.” –Thomas Edi­son

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Source: http://www.lifereimagined.aarp.org

“It’s much eas­ier to get over pain than regrets.” —No attri­bu­tion, from Pinterest

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Source: http://www.content.time.com

“I never thought one sport could change my entire out­look on life—until I became a run­ner.” —No attri­bu­tion, from Pin­ter­est

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Source: http://www.jaybirdsport.com

“A 12-minute mile is JUST AS FAR as a 6-minute mile.” —No attri­bu­tion, from Pinterest

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Source: http://www.rebloggy.com

“It’s my soul that keeps me run­ning. My body told me to quit a cou­ple of miles ago…” No attri­bu­tion, from Pin­ter­est

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Source: http://www.footage.shutterstock.com

“When you wake up in the morn­ing, just remem­ber how for­tu­nate you are to be alive, to breath, to think, to enjoy, to love, and of course to run.” —No attri­bu­tion, from Pinterest

Five Dieting Don’ts For Busy Guys

It’s finally spring-time here in Boston, and as thoughts turn to summer, your thoughts may also turn to losing a couple extra pounds.  We really don’t think you need it, but if you insist, we’ll support you.  Just don’t fall for these “dieting don’ts”.

Fad diets.

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Generally speaking, if a diet is getting a lot of coverage in the news, it’s probably a bad idea.  Certainly, avoid any diet that limits you to a certain food or food group, like the grapefruit diet, or the cabbage soup diet (yes, that’s a real thing).  We all know deep down that a balanced diet is the best way to stay healthy.

The “it sounds to good to be true” diet.

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Guess what?  It is too good to be true.

Skipping meals.

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The research shows that if you skip meals, you’ll end up compensating by eating more later.  Take our word for it: not a good idea.

Forgetting about exercise.

Diet is only one half of the equation.  Exercise is just as important, and in fact, we’d suggest you try that first before limiting your calorie intake.  Maybe you’ll get where you need to be just by hitting the gym a couple more times a week.

Overdoing it.

Here at BGBL, we’re all about being healthy, and a healthy weight is just one part of that.  A lot of our readers are super-achievers, and try to bring their best to everything they do.  But when it comes to dieting, don’t overdo it.

Top 10 Excuses for Not Going to the Gym

1. I’m too tired

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We’ve all been there, but exercise is really the best thing to do when you’re feeling drained, because of the energy boost you’ll get as soon as you start moving.

2. It’s raining/snowing

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Oh well.  Good thing the gym has a roof on it!

3. I’ll go tomorrow

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That’s a good plan.  Or, you could actually go today.

4. I don’t have time

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In all seriousness, this is a tough one.  We’re all trying to balance a busy YoPro schedule, and some days, you really don’t have time. Before giving in though, really ask yourself if you could make the time, and remind yourself that your health is as much of a priority as anything else on your plate, if not more so.  Can you shuffle your schedule and fit in a quick workout.  Anything is better than nothing!

5. It’s boring

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It’s easy to get stuck in a rut now and then, and get tired of your workout routine.  When it happens, the best thing to do is to mix it up.  Change up what you do, and the order you do it in.  Rather than a solo workout, maybe you could meet up with a friend, or play a game of basketball with buddies.

6. I think I might be getting sick

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We are not in the business of providing medical advice, and nothing we say can or should replace a doctor’s advice (seriously).  That said, research has not shown that exercising when you might be getting a cold makes you more likely to get sick.  You might want to dial it back a bit, but light exercise shouldn’t make you more likely to come down with that cold, and might even help you fight it off.

7. I didn’t bring my gym stuff with me

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The best defense against this excuse is to always be prepared.  Can you leave a gym bag under your desk at work, or in your locker at school.  If you always have what you need to hit the gym, that’s one less excuse you’ll have not to go.

8. I’m hungry

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See above.  If you’re always prepared with a granola bar or whatever your favorite healthy snack may be, you won’t skip the gym just because your stomach’s growling.

9. I don’t feel like it

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A lot of time we fall back on one of the excuses above because, really, we just don’t feel like it.  Let me offer some sound advice.  Ask yourself when the last time was that you actually regretted going to the gym, and then ask yourself when the last time was you regretted NOT going to the gym.  If that doesn’t work, think about how great you feel after a workout.

10. Too busy reading Busy Guys, Balanced Lives

…….That’s a tough one.  Do you have a tablet or smartphone?  Why don’t you read Busy Guys WHILE you’re at the gym?!