There’s no such thing as sleeping in when you’re in the military. With physical training often required every single morning before work, many service members are up and at ’em before our first alarm even goes off.
And while the military certainly isn’t perfect when it comes to getting proper sleep — research shows many soldiers don’t get the recommended amount of sleep and some are at risk for sleep disorders thanks to their grueling schedules — there are some lifestyle habits they engage in on a regular basis that may help prime a person for a proper night’s rest.
Thankfully, you don’t need to attend boot camp to get in on this bedtime sorcery. Just take note of the military’s more positive behaviors below, all of which may help you get better Z’s.
The U.S. Army/Flickr
Those aforementioned PT sessions might sound brutal, but the military is certainly onto something. The benefits of working out regularly extend way beyond your waistline. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people sleep “significantly” better if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. That’s just 30 minutes a weekday if you break it down. PT sessions, for comparison, typically last more than an hour.
2Stick to a schedule.
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Service members embrace being “creatures of habit,” and that discipline helps them get better sleep as well. Regulating your internal body clock — in other words, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day — is one of the most crucial steps to falling asleep easily and quickly. And it’s not too hard to teach your body the habit. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adjusting your schedule by 15 minutes a day until you reach your target sleep times.
Camille Tokerud via Getty Images
Nothing delays sleep like thinking about everything we have to do when we wake up. The military easily takes care of one of the most nagging daily decisions: What you’re going to wear. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines know exactly what they’re going to wear in the morning, and more often than not, they have it laid out ahead of time. Plan your outfit the night before and you’ll have one less distraction as you fall asleep.
Troops are often pushed to the limits when it comes to stress, but they learn to manage it in order to keep performing. If you’re having anxious thoughts that are keeping you awake, try one of these tricks to help you better prepare for sleep.
Making the bed is a requirement of those in basic training — and a habit you should consider adopting as well. You’ll thank yourself at the end of the day when climbing into a neat bed instantly sets your mind at ease.
6Get out from behind the desk.
Joint Base Lewis McChord/Flickr
Few military jobs require sitting behind a desk all day long. Service members are active even when they’re at work, which makes climbing into bed after a long day that much more relaxing.
Sitting sedentary behind a computer all day may be causing the aches and pains you feel as you try to fall asleep. Try to move a little bit throughout the course of your workday.
By celebrity trainer Mark Langowski, author, Eat This, Not That! for Abs
I haven’t done a sit-up in over a decade, and yet I have a six-pack.
How is this possible?
I realized a long time ago that the largest role in seeing any abdominal definition was diet. The only way get your body fat levels low enough to see muscle definition in your abdomen is by watching what you eat, doing countless hours of cardio, or a combination of both.
Because I don’t have the time or attention span to do any more than 30 minutes of cardio one to three days a week, and only have time for another one to two full body workouts per week, I know my diet has to be on point.
But once my body fat levels are low, how do I sculpt a visible 6 pack?
You would think the answer is: By doing countless sit-ups. WRONG.
I have been a personal trainer for over 13 years—during this time, I have learned a lot about a lot, but the most important topic that I discovered was 10 years ago when I found out how damaging sit-ups are to the discs in my spine. It was after listening to genius professor Stuart McGill, who is head of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, that I realized I had been doing more harm to myself and my clients by having them do traditional sit-ups.
I never relied solely on sit-ups when training myself or my clients, but I did do them.
After listening to McGill, I did my own extensive research and spoke to some of the world’s top spine surgeons, and they all said the same thing: Sit-ups can and will cause disc herniation. Once you flex the spine past approximately 25 degrees, you actually stop using your abdominals as the primary muscle group and start engaging your hips. When you flex the spine forward past a certain point, you are creating such pressure on the discs in your spine that you are at high risk for a herniation.
A traditional sit-up generates at least 3,350 newtons (the equivalent of 340 kg) of compressive force on the spine. The U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health states that anything above 3,300 newtons is unsafe.
Although kids and adults should both steer away from sit-ups, it is more common to see disc herniations in adults, as the degeneration of the spine has not yet taken place in children. (This doesn’t make sit-ups OK for kids—I advise the families I train against it.)
But without sit-ups, you ask, how can I get a six pack?
With Eat This, Not That! For Abs, I have created an entire workout plan that is meant to get you a rock hard core without involving one single sit-up.
You’ll learn how to train the core in a functional way, keeping the spine healthy. I have seen clients go through back operations from injuries sustained outside of the gym and the process from injury to recovery is painful and grueling. You don’t want to end up under the knife of a spine surgeon; trust me.
Throughout the workout section of the book, I explain how to train the entire body in a way that is activating the core muscles in every exercise you do. A squat may look like a leg exercise, but did you know you are also working your core muscles when done properly? Inside the book, you’ll also get a complete meal plan. Below are my 15 favorite foods that keep my muscles fueled and stomach full!
Not only is fish packed with healthy fat, but it is also carb-free and packed with protein.
The yolks often get bad press, but the yolks provide healthy fat that is needed for brain development! These keep me full and are a great pair with my next favorite food for abs; oats!
The steel cut oats provide your body with the energy it needs to make it through those tough workouts and digests nice and slow into your bloodstream, so you don’t get a spike and crash!
I love this snack because it is portable and satisfies my hunger when I’m on the road. The healthy fat, protein, and zero carbs make this one of my favorite snacks; don’t forget about the fiber as well!
So many ways to enjoy this delicious green. Throw it in your morning smoothie, sauté it, or have it in a salad. Either way, you are getting an alphabet full of vitamins and an excellent source of fiber.
Black, white, red; whatever your choice is, make sure you keep these in your diet. These slow digesting carbs will provide you with energy for your day and also give you a great dose of fiber and protein! So complex!
This grain is one of my favorite foods to accompany a piece of fish with veggies. You don’t need much to fill you up and you can also prepare it in the morning with your eggs. Fiber, good carbs, and protein make this a must-have if you want to stay energized and see your abs.
11. Protein powder
Lets face it, in a perfect world, we would get all of our protein from natural food sources—but it’s hard. Select a powder that fits your dietary needs and stomach tolerance. I choose vegan protein powder, but one option that is great for getting your muscles to recover quickly is whey protein. Casein is also good for bedtime cravings as it will slowly digest while you sleep, steadily fueling your muscles.
It has the healthy fat that’s great for hair, skin and nails…and tastes delicious! Try it with eggs, in your salad or next to your salmon for dinner.
You could be dehydrated! Your body needs water. Not juice, soda, or alcohol – get a tall glass of water and make yourself drink all of it.
2. Make your bed.
When you have a lot to do and it feels overwhelming, making your bed can be the first step in getting your life on track. It will also (hopefully) discourage you from getting back into it.
3. Take a shower.
Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed
Life feels different when you’re clean! And it can give you a burst of energy if you’re feeling lethargic. Wash your hair and give yourself a head massage.
4. Have a snack – not junk food!
Did you eat enough today? It’s super tempting to eat junk food when you feel like crap. If you don’t feel like making a whole meal, maybe just a piece of fruit. Something you can burn throughout the day and not in a burst of five minutes.
5. Take a walk.
Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed
You might need some fresh air and not even know it. Give your body some natural light, breathe some different air, move your legs a little, even if it’s for just five minutes. Allow yourself to think some different thoughts.
6. Change your clothes.
Even if you aren’t going to leave the house today, put on real clothes. Or, if you’ve been wearing the same uncomfortable clothes all day and feel restless, change into your sleepy clothes and slippers and relax.
7. Change your environment.
Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed
Staring at the same four walls day after day can be drudging. Can you work from a cafe, a library, or a friend’s house? If you can add going somewhere to the list of things you did today, you may feel more accomplished.
8. Talk to someone, not on the internet – it can be about anything.
If you don’t feel like talking through your troubles, that’s okay. Visit a friend, talk to them about a movie you saw. Call your mom and see how she’s doing.
9. Dance to an upbeat guilty pleasure song.
Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed
NOT ELLIOT SMITH! Pick something high energy and bump it. Dance like a rock star for one song to get your blood pumping again.
10. Get some exercise.
Do some cardio, work up a sweat. If you don’t have the time for a whole workout, look up a sun salutation on Youtube and stretch for as long as you have time for. Do some push-ups or sit-ups at your desk.
11. Accomplish something – even if it’s something tiny.
Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed
Do you need to grab some groceries? Schedule a doctor’s appointment? Reply to an email? If you can’t get to the big stuff on your list, focus on the small stuff, and don’t forget to congratulate yourself for getting something done.
12. Hug an animal.
If you don’t have a pet, can you visit a friend’s? Or can you go to an animal shelter?
13. Make a “done” list instead of a “to-do” list.
Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed
Instead of overwhelming yourself right now, start feeling better about what you did get done. You can add “brushed teeth,” “washed dishes,” or “picked out an outfit” to your list. It doesn’t matter how small the task, prove to yourself that you’re effectual.
14. Watch a Youtube video that always makes you laugh.
I personally recommend this one.
15. Give yourself permission to feel shitty.
Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed
You’re allowed to have a shitty day, and you don’t have to fix it all right now. If you try to fix it and it doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. Give yourself the time and space you need to feel what you’re feeling.
There’s a meme aimed at Millennial catharsis called “Old Economy Steve.” It’s a series of pictures of a late-70s teenager, who presumably is now a middle-aged man, that mocks some of the messages Millennials say they hear from older generations—and shows why they’re deeply janky. Old Economy Steve graduates and gets a job right away. Old Economy Steve “worked his way through college” because tuition was $400. And so forth.
We can now add another one to that list: Old Economy Steve ate at McDonald’s almost every day, and he still somehow had a 32-inch waist.
A study published recently in the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice found that it’s harder for adults today to maintain the same weight as those 20 to 30 years ago did, even at the same levels of food intake and exercise.
The authors examined the dietary data of 36,400 Americans between 1971 and 2008 and the physical activity data of 14,419 people between 1988 and 2006. They grouped the data sets together by the amount of food and activity, age, and BMI.
They found a very surprising correlation: A given person, in 2006, eating the same amount of calories, taking in the same quantities of macronutrients like protein and fat, and exercising the same amount as a person of the same age did in 1988 would have a BMI that was about 2.3 points higher. In other words, people today are about 10 percent heavier than people were in the 1980s, even if they follow the exact same diet and exercise plans.
“Our study results suggest that if you are 25, you’d have to eat even less and exercise more than those older, to prevent gaining weight,” Jennifer Kuk, a professor of kinesiology and health science at Toronto’s York University, said in a statement. “However, it also indicates there may be other specific changes contributing to the rise in obesity beyond just diet and exercise.”
Just what those other changes might be, though, are still a matter of hypothesis. In an interview, Kuk proffered three different factors that might be making harder for adults today to stay thin.
First, people are exposed to more chemicals that might be weight-gain inducing. Pesticides, flame retardants, and the substances in food packaging might all be altering our hormonal processes and tweaking the way our bodies put on and maintain weight.
Second, the use of prescription drugs has risen dramatically since the ‘70s and ‘80s. Prozac, the first blockbuster SSRI, came out in 1988. Antidepressants are now one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S., and many of them have been linked to weight gain.
Finally, Kuk and the other study authors think that the microbiomes of Americans might have somehow changed between the 1980s and now. It’s well known that some types of gut bacteria make a person more prone to weight gain and obesity. Americans are eating more meat than they were a few decades ago, and many animal products are treated with hormones and antibiotics in order to promote growth. All that meat might be changing gut bacteria in ways that are subtle, at first, but add up over time. Kuk believes the proliferation of artificial sweeteners could also be playing a role.
The fact that the body weights of Americans today are influenced by factors beyond their control is a sign, Kuk says, that society should be kinder to people of all body types.
“There’s a huge weight bias against people with obesity,” she said. “They’re judged as lazy and self-indulgent. That’s really not the case. If our research is correct, you need to eat even less and exercise even more” just to be same weight as your parents were at your age.
The exercise part is perhaps one area where Old Economy Steve doesn’t have an edge. A membership at one of the newfangled fitness centers of 1987 would gofor about $2,800 per year in today’s dollars, and that’s still what it costs today.
Self care includes any intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental and emotional health. Good self care is a challenge for many people and it can be especially challenging for survivors of interpersonal violence and abuse. It can also be an important part of the healing process. Self care is unique for everyone. Below are some ideas to get you started in developing your own self care plan. It can be overwhelming to consider taking on many new things. It may be helpful to start with a couple of ideas and build on that.
Physical self-care is an area that people often overlook
Food is a type of self-care that people often overlook. People are often so busy that they don’t have time to eat regularly or that they substitute fast food for regular meals.
It’s not always reasonable to expect people to get 3 square meals a day (plus snacks!) but everyone should make sure they get adequate nutrition.
One example of a self care goal: Even if it’s a small amount, I will eat something for each meal. Exercise
Exercise is one of the most overlooked types of self-care. The CDC recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week.
Exercise, even if it’s just a quick walk at lunchtime, can help combat feelings of sadness or depression and prevent chronic health problems.
One example of a self care goal: I will go for a walk Tuesday and Thursday after I get out of my morning class.
Although everyone has different needs, a reasonable guideline is that most people need between 7-10 hours of sleep per night.
One example of a self care goal: I will go to bed by 11:00 p.m. during the week so that I can get enough sleep.
Getting medical attention when you need it is an important form of physical self-care.
Some survivors put off getting medical care until problems that might have been relatively easy to take care of have become more complicated.
One example of a self care goal: I will set aside money in my budget (or seek financial help) so that I
can get my prescriptions filled every month. Some information adapted from RAINN.org, UK Violence Intervention and Prevention Program
Emotional self-care will mean different things for different people. It might mean:
This could mean seeing a psychologist, a clinical social worker, or therapist.
The VIP Center can help refer you to a counselor.
The UK Counseling Center provides free services to UK students.
One example of a self care goal: I will find out more about the UK Counseling Center so that I can decide whether this might be helpful for me.
Keeping a journal
Some survivors find that recording their thoughts and feelings in a journal or diary helps them manage their emotions after an assault or abusive situation.
One example of a self care goal: I will write in my journal at least 3 times this week.
Meditation or relaxation exercises
• Relaxation techniques or meditation help many survivors with their emotional self-care. For example: Sit or stand comfortably, with your feet flat on the floor and your back straight. Place one hand
over your belly button. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose and let your stomach expand as you inhale. Hold your breath for a few seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth, sighing as you breathe out. Concentrate on relaxing your stomach muscles as you breathe in. When you are doing this exercise correctly, you will feel your stomach rise and fall about an inch as you breathe in and out. Try to keep the rest of your body relaxed—your shoulders should not rise and fall as you breathe! Slowly count to 4 as you inhale and to 4 again as you exhale. At the end of the exhalation, take another deep breath. After 3-4 cycles of breathing you should begin to feel the calming effects.
• One example of a self care goal: I will practice deep breathing before I go to sleep to calm down from the day.
Emotional self-care can also involve the people around you.
It’s important to make sure that the people in your life are supportive
Nurture relationships with people that make you feel good about yourself!
Make spending time with friends and family a priority
If you have trouble finding people who can support your experience as a survivor, consider joining a support group for survivors or getting involved with the VIP Center
Be wary of…
Friends or family who only call when they need something
People who always leave you feeling tired or depressed when you see them
Friends who never have the time to listen to you
Some information adapted from RAINN.org, UK Violence Intervention and Prevention Program
• Anyone who dismisses or belittles your experience as a survivor
You can deal with these people by setting limits.
You don’t have to cut them out of your life (especially with family, that may not even be an option!)
but choose the time you will spend with them carefully.
Make sure that your time with these people has a clear end.
Cut back on the time you spend with people who don’t make you feel good, or spend time with them
in a group rather than one-on-one.
Screen your calls!!
• There’s no rule that says you have to answer your phone every time it rings. If you don’t feel like
talking on the phone, call people back at a time that’s more convenient for you. You can deal with these people by letting some go.
If there are people in your life who consistently make you feel bad about yourself, consider letting those friendships or relationships go.
This can be a difficult decision. Remember that you deserve to have people around you who genuinely care about you and who support you.
Another challenge can be in finding time for fun leisure activities
Many of us have full time jobs, go to school, volunteer and have families. Finding time to do activities that you enjoy is an important aspect of self-care.
Be aware of things you may be doing that take up a lot of your time but don’t support your self care such as too much time on the internet, watching TV, even sleeping. These can all be relaxing, enjoyable activities in moderation but can become a way of retreating and isolating yourself.
Get involved in a sport or hobby that you love!! Find other people who are doing the same thing! Knowing that people are counting on you to show up can help motivate you.
Make a date night and stick with it, either with a partner, a friend or a group of friends. Turn off your cell phones (within reason. If the babysitter needs to be able to find you, consider leaving him/her the number of the restaurant so that you can turn off your ringer!) Treat leisure appointments as seriously as business appointments. If you have plans to do something for fun, mark it on your calendar! Make your self-care a priority, not something that happens (or doesn’t happen!) by accident.
Some information adapted from RAINN.org, UK Violence Intervention and Prevention Program
If you’ve had depression, you know how hopeless you can feel. It’s important to get professional treatment. But there are things you can do to ease symptoms of depression. Exercise, changing your diet, and even playing with a pet can improve your mood. Click to the next slide to see how you can start regaining control of your life.
Let Your Pet Nuzzle Blues Away
Sometimes your pet really can be your best friend — and that’s good therapy. When you play with your pet, you take your mind off your problems. Also, when you take care of your pet you’re fulfilling a commitment to something outside yourself. Caring for others can be very therapeutic.
Eat Smart to Lift Mind and Body
There’s a connection between mind and body. Although there is no specific diet that works for depression, a healthy diet can be part of an overall treatment plan. Build your diet around plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to help boost your physical and emotional health.
Choose Foods to Boost Your Mood
Some studies suggest omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 — especially for people for may not get enough of these nutrients — may ease the mood changes that are part of depression. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids. So do flaxseed, nuts, soybeans, and dark green vegetables. Seafood and low-fat dairy products are sources of B12. Vegetarians who eat no meat or fish can get B12 in fortified cereals, dairy products, and supplements.
Try Low-Fat Carbs for a Pick-Me-Up
Serotonin is a brain chemical that enhances your sense of well-being. Carbohydrates raise the level of serotonin in your brain. Low-fat carbs such as popcorn, a baked potato, graham crackers, or pasta are options. Vegetables, fruit, and whole grain options also provide fiber.
Drink Less Caffeine to Improve Mood
Do you really need that third cup of coffee? Anxiety can accompany depression. And too much caffeine can make you nervous, jittery, or anxious. While possible links between caffeine and depression haven’t been definitively established, cutting back on caffeinated drinks may help lower your risk of depression and improve sleep.
Treat Your Aches and Pains
Feelings of depression can be related to pain. Work with your health care team to treat your depression and your pain.
Exercise to Change the Way You Feel
For some people, exercise works almost as well as antidepressants. And you don’t have to run a marathon. Just take a walk with a friend. As time goes on, increase activity until you exercise on most days. You’ll feel better physically, sleep better at night, and improve your mood.
Choose an Exercise You Enjoy
If you don’t like to run, you won’t last long training for a marathon. But you will stay with a moderate exercise you enjoy. For instance, try walking, golfing without a cart, riding a bike, working in your garden, playing tennis, or swimming. The important thing is to pick something you like. Then you’ll look forward to it and feel better when you do it.
Exercise With Others for Support
Staying connected with other people helps overcome the lethargy, exhaustion, and loneliness of depression. Join an exercise group or exercise with a friend. You’ll stay connected. And you’ll have support to help you stay on track!
Be Sure You Get Enough Sunlight
Do you feel more depressed during darker, cold months? You may have seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. SAD is most common in the winter, when there’s less sunlight. SAD can be treated with light therapy or exposure to artificial sunlight, antidepressants, and psychotherapy.
Explore Your Creativity
Painting, photography, music, knitting, or writing in a journal: These are all ways people explore their feelings and express what’s on their mind. Being creative can help you feel better. The goal isn’t to create a masterpiece. Do something that gives you pleasure. It may help you better understand who you are and how you feel.
Make Time for Mindful Relaxation
Stress and anxiety can increase your depression symptoms and make it harder to recover. Learning to mentally relax can help restore a sense of calm and control. You might consider a yoga or meditation class. Or you could simply listen to soothing music while you take a long, hot bath.
Become Actively Involved
Being involved with others can help you regain a sense of purpose. And it doesn’t take much to get started. Try volunteering with a charity. Or join a discussion group at the library or at church. Meeting new people and doing new things will help you feel good about yourself.
Keep Friends and Family in Your Life
The people who love you want to support you. If you shut them out, they can’t. If you let them in, you’ll feel a lot better. Call a friend and go for a walk. Have a cup of coffee with your partner. You may find it helps to talk about your depression. It feels good to have someone listen.
Get the Healthy Sleep You Need
Depression interferes with healthy sleep. Some people with depression sleep too much. Others can’t fall asleep easily. As you recover from depression, relearn good sleep habits. Start by going to bed and getting up the same time each day. Use relaxation techniques to help you fall asleep. Healthy sleep makes you feel better physically and mentally.
Avoid Alcohol and Drugs
Alcohol and drugs can slow or prevent recovery from depression. They can also make your depression worse and interfere with the medicines you take for depression. If you have a problem with substance abuse, ask for help now. You’ll have a far better chance of recovering from depression.
Continue Your Treatment
The steps outlined in these slides may help you feel positive about your life. But alone, they’re not enough. They won’t replace medical treatment or talk therapy. Depression is a serious illness, and it carries a risk of suicide. If you are thinking about suicide, seek help immediately. And never stop or change treatment without discussing it carefully with your doctor.
What does it take to become the number one tennis player in the world?
A lot of practice. Nerves of steel. And, if you’re Novak Djokovic, a strict gluten-free diet that he says has played a major role in helping him attain the number one ranking. The newly-crowned U.S. Open men’s singles winner and reigning Wimbledon champion reveals what he eats during a tournament, in an exclusive Eat This, Not That! adaptation from his book Serve to Win. Here’s the food that fuels his quest to win his 10th Grand Slam title.
Grand Slam Secret #1
Start Drinking in the Morning
Most of us have morning rituals, but mine is probably stricter than most.
The first thing I do out of bed is to drink a tall glass of room-temperature water. I’ve just gone eight hours without drinking anything, and my body needs hydration to start functioning at its peak. Water is a critical part of the body’s repair process. But I avoid ice water, for a reason. When you drink ice water, the body needs to send additional blood to the digestive system in order to heat the water to 98.6 degrees. There’s some benefit to this process—heating the cold water burns a few additional calories. But it also slows digestion and diverts blood away from where I want it—in my muscles.
Eat This, Not That! tip: Also drink a cup of tea. Barberry, rooibos, pu-erh and white tea are proven fat-blasters, and we’ve included them in our best-selling diet plan (on which test panelists lost an amazing 10 pounds in one week): The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Diet and Cleanse!
Grand Slam Secret #2
Eat Some Honey
The second thing I do might really surprise you: I eat two spoonfuls of honey. Every day. I try to get manuka honey, which comes from New Zealand. It is a dark honey made by bees that feed on the manuka tree (or tea tree), and has been shown to have even greater antibacterial properties than regular honey.
I know what you’re thinking: Honey is sugar. Well, yes, it is. But your body needs sugar. In particular, it needs fructose, the sugar found in fruits, some vegetables, and especially honey. What it doesn’t need is processed sucrose, the stuff in chocolate, soda, or most energy drinks that gives you an instant sugar shot in the body, where you feel like “Wow!”
I don’t like “wow.” “Wow” is no good. If you have “wow” now, that means in thirty minutes you’re going to have “woe.”
Grand Slam Secret #3
Eat a “Power Bowl” for Breakfast
After a little stretching or some light calisthenics, I’m ready for breakfast. Most days I have what I call the Power Bowl, a normal-sized bowl I fill with a mixture of:
Gluten-free muesli or oatmeal
A handful of mixed nuts—almonds, walnuts, peanuts
Some sunflower or pumpkin seeds
Fruits on the side, or sliced up in the bowl, like banana and all kinds of berries
A small scoop of coconut oil (I like it for the electrolytes and minerals)
One bowl of these ingredients is generally enough for me. If I think that I will need something more—I rarely do—then I wait about twenty minutes and have a little gluten-free toasted bread, tuna fish, and some avocado. I love avocado; it’s one of my favorites.
Grand Slam Secret #5
Pack Your Lunch with Carbs
For me, a typical lunch is gluten-free pasta with vegetables. The pasta is made from quinoa or buckwheat. As for the vegetables, the selection is vast. Arugula, roasted peppers, fresh tomatoes, sometimes cucumber, a lot of broccoli, a lot of cauliflower, green beans, carrots. I combine the vegetables with the pasta and some olive oil and a bit of salt. (I should say that on match days when I know I’ll have to practice around noon and play a match around three, I have a heavy protein with my lunch, as a foundation for the match. But in general, pasta is all I need.)
During practice, I go through two bottles of an energy drink containing fructose extract. It’s not too heavy in the stomach, but allows me to replenish. The ingredients I look for in a drink are electrolytes, magnesium, calcium, zinc, selenium, and vitamin C. The magnesium and calcium help with heart and muscle function and prevent cramps. If it’s a humid day, I also have a hydration drink with electrolytes because I lose a lot of liquids.
After practice, I have an organic protein shake made from water mixed with rice or pea protein concentrate and some evaporated cane juice. I don’t drink whey or soy shakes. I find that, for me, this is the fastest way to replenish.
Before a match, when I really want to fire up, I usually eat a power gel with twenty-five milligrams of caffeine. During the match, I eat dried fruits like dates. I have one or two teaspoons of honey. I always stick with sugars derived from fructose. Besides these examples, the vast majority of the sugar I consume comes from the training drinks I mentioned.
Grand Slam Secret #8
Have a Meaty Dinner
Later, when it’s time for dinner, I eat protein in the form of meat or fish. That usually means steak, chicken, or salmon, as long as it’s organic, grass-fed, free-range, wild, etc. I order meats roasted or grilled, and fish steamed or poached if possible. The closer a food is to nature, the more nutritious it is. I pair it with a steamed vegetable like zucchini or carrots. I may also have some chickpeas or lentils, or occasionally soup.
Your favorite workout pants are dirty in the hamper, your iPod is on 3%, and your bestie just texted asking you to join her at happy hour. We all have those days where getting to your workout feels more difficult than the actual exercise. So we reached out to Franci Cohen, a board certified personal trainer, nutritionist, and the creator of a cardio resistance workout, to get the scoop on why you should listen to that little voice in your head telling you to get out there and sweat.
You Have A Cold
Running on the treadmill with a runny nose isn’t ideal but, it’s possible a good workout session could help you get rid of your cold. “Working out when you have a cold can actually be beneficial. It can boost immunity, and allow you to rid yourself of the invading bug a lot faster by flushing it out of the body by increased perspiration, respiration, and urination,” says Cohen.
You Missed Your Workout Class
Missing Zumba class may feel like grounds to head home and hop in bed early, but use this opportunity to try something new. Catch the late cycling class or try mixing up your own workout routine. Still sad you missed Zumba? Turn on Spotify’s Zumba playlist (yes, it exists) and create your own routine.
Your iPod Is Dead / You Forgot Your Headphones
Music can be a great exercise buddy, but forgetting your headphones isn’t a sign to go home. Try thinking of all the reasons why you started this journey and how far you’ve come. Instead of throwing in the towel (literally and figuratively), use this time to clear your mind and focus on each muscle you are working on.
You Can’t Find the Time
A wise person once said, “You and Beyoncé both have the same 24 hours. So no excuses.” Okay, so maybe you don’t have the access to trainers, dieticians, and specialty fitness routines like Beyoncé, but think of exercise as an investment in yourself. Some alone time to relieve stress and clear your head goes a long way.
Cohen suggests getting a buddy to help you fight through the days when you’re “just not feeling it.” Of course, be mindful and listen to your body. If you have a fever or your body feels achy, you may want to skip your workout and give your body time to rest. After all, it’s all about living and feeling better.