Bonjour mes beaux amis!
As you may or may not know, I am a mild exercise junkie. Whether it be rock climbing, horseback riding, hula hooping or working specific body parts by lifting weights at my gym, I make it a point to move my body in a beneficial way 6 times a week – and 9 times out of 10 I meet my goal! It’s such a great habit to get into, and after a while it sort of becomes an addiction due to the amount of endorphins your body releases when you work that body. Win-win scenario, yes? YES.
However, there is rhyme and reason to working out and letting your muscles recover, which is what I would like to focus on specifically in this post. This is some useful information, so although it looks long and daunting, please read on!
What should you do to let your body recover after a work-out? Here are 5 things to keep in mind:
Cool: Let your body cool down and chill out in a slow fashion. When you stop your intensive exercises but continue to keep your body moving, you help your muscles repair themselves by dispersing lactic acid as well as helping your blood carry oxygen throughout your body. You may want to directly leave the gym after your intense exercises are done, but don’t! After my hard routines, I will go into the cardio cinema and walk on the treadmill for 10-20 minutes while watching a movie. If you don’t have a cinema at your gym, just hop on the treadmill or walk around the track to let your body heal itself a little bit.
Drink: This one should be a no-brainer, I hope. You absolutely must replace the fluids and electrolytes that your body loses during exercise, so slug back that elixir of life with two hydrogen’s and one oxygen. Water is the key for all the metabolic and digestive functions that your body will need to perform in order to recover. Personally, I try to avoid drinks like Gatorade; they are full of things that your body really doesn’t need, and can even have a negative effect on the body. Stick with what we’re made of – choose water. Ideally, you should be drinking it before, during and after work-outs, and not just afterwards.
Eat: In order to recover, you need to have fuel in your body, which is what we acquire when we eat. Nutrition is the best way to make sure that your body repairs itself after exercise. Now, you don’t necessarily have to be eating to refuel; you can get the same amount of nutrients (sometimes even more) via drinking things like green smoothies, so don’t rule that out! Just make sure that your belly is having natural and whole foods put inside of it after a workout so that your body can make the most of what it just did. To maximize your workout, consume the same number of calories that you burned within 30-minutes of completion. If you do, your muscles will readily accept the carbohydrates and protein, storing them as valuable energy and building blocks for recovery.
Stretch: I used to mainly stretch before my work-outs, which still isn’t a bad idea, but I have since switched to stretching out after the majority of my work-out is complete (concerning the gym; when rock climbing I still stretch beforehand). Stretching is what will help you not become stiff, as well as aiding in circulation, which is also vitally important.
Sleep: DUH. 6-8 hours everyday, people. The link between sleep and wellness is a glaring one. When you allow your body time to rest, you also allow the temple that is your body to naturally recover and produce Growth Hormone, which is accomplished during sleep. Sleep is, quite frankly, one of the best and easiest things that you can do for yourself. Plus, I personally feel like a million bucks when I get enough sleep every night – ain’t nothing wrong with feeling awesome!
Remember: recovering is one of the most important components to achieving one’s fitness, performance and wellness goals. To get the body you desire, you need your tissue and muscles to repair properly as well as rebuild, and that can take up to 2 days! The most crucial chunk of time is the 30-minute window immediately following exercise, so spend it wisely – if you don’t ingest the proper nutrition within this 30-minute period, your body won’t recover properly. Instead, your muscle tissue will breakdown in order to supply your body with the energy it needs, and at that point your whole work-out may be wasted. >_<
Another interesting piece of information that you may find useful: when you exercise for longer than 60-minutes without refueling your body with nutrients, you actually wind up burning fewer calories and less fat than if you had eaten during that time. Not something you want to hear, huh?
To combat this, try eating 50-100 calories of a fast-absorbing carbohydrate every 30-minutes, like raisins, an energy bar or a beneficial shake. You don’t want to replace every calorie that you burn during your work-out; instead, ingest just enough fuel to keep your body in an anabolic, or muscle-building, state.
Lastly, my darlings, please PLEASE make sure that you know what you are putting inside your body; that means none of the following: MSG, GMOs, Trans Fat, Added Sugar, Preservatives, Artificial Flavors, Hydrogenated Oils, Synthetic Sweeteners and High Fructose Corn Syrup.
If you ingest food items with these additives, you may actually be doing more harm than good to your awesome self. That is something that I don’t want!! You are too beaufiul to treat your body like a garbage can.
Do you have trouble figuring out a good post-workout meal? The ideal one is actually pretty easy; create a liquid that incorporates about 3 parts carbs to 1 part protein. If you make a shake that has the same amount of calories that you burned, your metabolism will remain high, your glorious muscles will have the protein that they need to rebuild, and your entire body will recover in a more efficient and beneficial manner.
I’ll start concocting some smoothies that fit this criteria for you guys on Saturday when I have the day off. They’ll be delicious! In the meantime, here’s a good skeleton model for creating green smoothies:
If you are worried about calorie counting, then have a smaller lunch and dinner, DON’T cut calories after your work-out. That is not the time! For the best health, you should have 5-7 slow-absorbing (“Low Glycemic”) meals everyday – minus the post-workout meal – with your largest meal being a few hours before your work-out.
…. Phew. That was a lot of stuff. I hope that it was worth your while; I definitely learned a bunch while doing the research! Stay glorious my loves.