Why Stretching Matters

Any trauma to the tissues of the body (such as resistance training) creates inflammation. This inflammation activates the body’s pain receptors and initiates a protective mechanism, increasing muscle tension or causing muscle spasm. As a result of this spasm, adhesions (or knots) begin to form in the soft tissue, forming weak, inelastic tissue fibers that act as roadblocks, preventing the muscle fibers from moving properly. If left unchecked, these adhesions can begin to form permanent structural changes in the soft tissue. Stretching helps restore the normal elasticity of the entire soft tissue complex, which is why it should be an integral part of any training program.

Make sure you are stretching every time you workout and get to know a foam roller – they’re at your gym for a reason! You’ll develop a real love-hate relationship with it, but believe me – you’ll eventually wonder how you ever lived without it! Both the foam roller and static stretching (stretching the muscle to the first point of tension in a non-compensated position and then holding for 20-30 seconds) are designed to increase the elasticity of connective tissue, relaxing the muscles, allowing them to respond more efficiently and effectively during activity. Bottom line: get down and stretch!

Drink More Water, Lose More Weight

We all know that water is good for our health, but now research proves it’s an important key in weight loss. A study presented at the American Chemical Society Conference in Boston divided subjects into two groups: One group drank two cups of water before meals, while the other group was told not to change their water-drinking habits. After 12 weeks, the group drinking the extra water lost 36 percent more weight than the less hydrated group. The study’s authors contribute the weight-loss to an increase in satiety and the fact that the water may have replaced sweetened, calorie beverages. Bottom line: water does a body good!

Are You Under-eating?

Why it’s important to fuel your metabolism

Your body needs enough energy to support all the basic processes that keep you breathing and moving. The sum of these processes is known as your basal metabolic rate (BMR) – aka your metabolism.

The moment you wake up in the morning, your body starts to burn energy – walking to and from rooms, brushing your teeth, typing an email, etc. These “activities of daily living” (ADL) combined with BMR total about 1800 calories a day for a typical adult female, give or take a few hundred calories depending on the amount of lean muscle, age, or genetics). That means a typical adult female needs an average of 1800 calories a day just to maintain her weight. Add in exercise and her energy needs can really increase. Yet so many women (and some men) are hesitant to fuel their bodies with enough calories for fear of gaining weight.

Why under-eating is damaging

If you eat less than your body’s needs, you’ll initially lose weight, but if you continue to trim too many calories, your body will eventually adapt to the lack of fuel by burning less calories to complete everyday tasks, causing your metabolic rate to drop. And if kept up too long, your body will use its own muscle as fuel, dragging your metabolism down even more. Still hesitant to add calories? According to research completed on elite runners and gymnasts published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, the best-fueled athletes had lower body-fat percentages than those who were consistently underfed.

4 signs you’re under-eating

1. You’re losing muscle, or not gaining any

You need calories and protein in order for muscle growth to occur. If you’re working hard in the gym and eating enough protein, but feeling weaker or losing definition, you’re not eating enough.

2. You’re not sleeping well and you’re tired all the time

If your body is constantly undernourished, you’re body won’t be able to recover as effectively from workouts and can even make sleep difficult.

3. That annoying belly fat will not go away

Not fueling your body with enough energy over time not only encourages muscle loss but increases the levels of the belly-fattening stress hormone cortisol.

4. Your bones are showing signs of weakness

If you’ve suffered a recent stress fracture or an unexpected broken bone from a fall, it could be indicative that your bones are weakening, a side effect of inadequate calories.

So what now?

If you feel you might be under-eating, start by (1) getting a clearer picture of your input and output, (2) start adding more calories gradually so your body (and mind) have time to adapt, and (3) keep your foods clean! (eating more doesn’t mean eating junk).