We pride ourselves on offering our readers (that’s you!) helpful, actionable, easy-to-apply tips in every one of our articles, regardless of the subject. And one of the ways we do this every day is through our daily newsletter. Here’s a roundup of this month’s tips to get next month started with a bang!
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Despite what the name suggests, electrolytes are not something you can hang on your Christmas tree. These minerals (like sodium and potassium) are essential to regulating body fluids. We lose them as we sweat, and without them muscle cramping and fatigue can set in, so replenishing electrolytes after exercise is key. To know exactly how much to drink, weigh in before and after a workout. Drink 16 to 24 ounces (most disposable water bottles fall somewhere in that range) of an electrolyte-laden fluid per pound of body weight lost. Leafy greens and salty foods (like tomato juice and peanut butter) can also help restore the body’s electrolyte balance.
Dec. 2: Slow down to slim down
For folks counting calories (or just looking to keep things healthy), how fast you eat matters. Dinner table slow-pokes eat fewer calories than fast eaters because the body has more time to signal it’s full. Fast eaters generally eat two-thirds more than slow eaters, and men are typically more likely to be Speedy Gonzales. One study suggests they eat an average of 80 calories per minute, compared to women’s 50. The best way to slow down at the dinner table could be adding more whole grains. Aside from their other added benefits, unrefined grains may slow down chewing. Scientists guess it’s all the extra fiber that’s responsible. So if you lack the resolve to simply slow the pace, force it by eating whole grains.
Dec. 3: Chew gum to reduce anxiety
Chewing a piece of gum can help relieve anxiety and boost mood. Plus, no one will ever guess that their bellyaching is bugging you out.
Dec. 4: Meals Matter
Diet should reflect your daily exercise goals. Protein is perfect for recovery after a strength-training workout, but how you fuel up before is equally important.
Dec. 5: How We Sit Matters
A slumped spine can impair circulation and even cause vertebrae to deteriorate over time. Along with the poor circulation, the muscle strain caused by bad posture can result in feeling tired earlier in the day. When sitting, keep the computer screen (or anything else you’re looking at) at eye-level feet flat on the floor, and back straight.
Dec. 6: When to Hit the Gym
Physically, afternoons may be your best bet for effective weight-training. Between 2p.m. and 7p.m. the body is warmest, making it more limber, and testosterone levels (which helps build muscle) are also at their peak. Excluding those late night hours (don’t want to disrupt sleep!), schedule strength-training in at the time that works for your body and schedule.
Dec. 7: Don’t get green!
It’s not just you. Research shows we’re all more likely to be jealous of pals and peers than strangers. We compare ourselves to people we think are like us— from age, to gender, to interests— and when we see ourselves as inferior, we let the envy monster take over. That envy may not only make us want what others have, but also want them to not have it either. But there’s still hope in harnessing the green monster— no Hulking out allowed. Go ahead, compliment the coworker who got your raise… and use their success as motivation. Keeping things positive can help prevent a full-blown rivalry.
Electrolytes are minerals, like sodium or potassium, essential to regulate body fluids. We lose them as we sweat and without them muscle cramping and fatigue can set in, so replenishing them during exercise is key. To know exactly how much to drink, weigh in before and after a workout. Drink 16 to 24 ounces (most disposable water bottles fall somewhere in that range) per pound of body weight lost. Looking for other sources of electrolytes? Try fruits and veggies if sports drinks aren’t your thing, or to avoid the extra sugar. Leafy greens and salty foods (like tomato juice and peanut butter) can also help restore the body’s electrolyte balance.
Dec. 9: Hit the Bar and the Barbells
Good news for those heading out on the town this weekend: Drinkers may exercise as much as 10 percent more than non-drinkers. Plus, those who exercise may be more likely to drink. If you’re not a frequent drinker, there’s no reason to hit the bottle (well, for fitness purposes at least). However, those who enjoy the occasional night out might be more motivated to exercise regularly if they’re also drinking regularly— just not at the same time, please.
Dec. 10: Beer’s Benefits
Studies have found beer may have cardiovascular benefits, just like wine. However, the reason is unclear— it could be something in the beer, or just that extra gym time.
Dec. 11: Time protein intake
Protein is a critical nutrient when it comes to building and repairing muscles. Have it in the morning (when the body’s protein stores are most zapped) and after working out to give muscles the TLC they need.
Dec. 12: Choose the right cooking oil
Most plant-based oils are good for cooking at high heats, but olive oil offers the best flavor and nutritional benefits. Choose canola when pinching pennies or coconut oil for frying.
Dec. 13: Try supersets
The amount of time spent resting between sets (or a grouping of repetitions) affects how fatigued muscles get during a workout. Those aiming for better endurance may want to lift slightly less weight and take shorter rests (less than 90 seconds). Supersets can be achieved by working the same muscle group with different lifts (i.e. two shoulder exercises in a row, two leg lifts in a row) or by switching muscle groups completely. Either way, supersets can up calorie burn, muscle engagement, and increase aerobic exercise— never bad things!
Other than the obvious bumming-out and loss of sleep, stress can have some serious physical repercussions, from muscle pain and headaches to upset stomach. Plus, anxiety could cause weight gain (hmm…guess it wasn’t all the holiday cookies’ fault!) and weaken immunity. Fortunately, shopping can actually have positive psychological benefits, especially when buying for others— just don’t overspend. The top three tips? Budget, plan, and dress for success.
Dec. 15: Dash Through the Snow
Staying fit doesn’t have to be the last priority around the holidays. There are plenty of fun, family-friendly, and community-oriented ways to get a good workout.
Dec. 16: Beware of Yogurt’s Ugly Side
Calling yogurt a dangerfood spurred some serious debate here at Greatist HQ. Don’t get us wrong, we love the stuff— just one cup has half your daily value of calcium which is essential for bone health and normal nerve function. Plus, it’s also got electrolytes and probiotics, which help protect the digestive tract from unhealthy bacteria. But yogurt has a dark side, too. Much of what we pick up in delicious fruit-packed and fat-reduced flavors is packed with sugar.
Dec. 17: Get Garlicky
Like yogurt, garlic is extremely good for you. It’s got antioxidants, and possibly even cancer fighting abilities. Try our Mexican-Garlic rub to give plain old meat a spicy kick.
Dec. 18: Strap on Some Snowshoes
This centuries-old mode of transportation distributes the wearer’s weight across the surface of the snow allowing them to hover atop it. It’s an even better workout than walking!
Dec. 19: Avoid clothes that can kill!
From head to toe, the clothes we wear may do more than boost self-confidence (admit it— the perfect outfit always adds an extra pep to your step). Even underwear has health effects, from thongs that can cause UTIs or yeast infections, to potentially sperm-killing tighty-whities.
Dec. 20: Beat That Funk with Kettlebells
The bell-like shape allows for a wider range of motion, provides a cardio workout, and may even burn more calories than more traditional weight lifting workouts. The key for beginners? Momentum reigns supreme! Because of the kettlebells’ natural momentum, it’s easier to lift more weight than you would with standard dumbbells, but stick to smaller weights at first and then work your way up.
Dec. 21: Reduce Holiday Travel Stress
The airport security lines are mobbed, traffic is insane, and let’s not even talk about public transportation delays. Really puts you in a holiday mood, right? But fear not— Greatist’s got tips to help keep cheer levels high and traveling certifiably jolly!
Dec. 22: Up the Ante With a Cup of Joe
We’ll admit, functioning before 9 a.m. might be nearly impossible without a little caffeine jolt, but coffee can do more than just get us going first thing in the morning (and afternoon and evening…), it can also revs the body’s metabolism by as much as 10 percent. Just one cup speeds up heart rate and relaxes air passages, allowing the body access to more oxygen. The caffeine is absorbed rapidly by the stomach and small intestines, hitting the bloodstream and boosting metabolism within 15 minutes of ingestion for up to 5 hours. But avoid fancier coffee drinks, which may pack on more calories than they burn.
Dec. 23: Smell the Season
Go ahead, take a deep breath. Nope, we’re not trying to relieve stress (though it’s not a bad side effect). If you smelled food cooking, fresh pine needles, or any other holiday scents, they probably came with a wave of nostalgia and maybe even a mood boost. Our brains associate scents with strong memories and emotions— memories that are even older than we may be able to consciously recall. If those memories and emotions are positive, sniffing around this holiday season could offer a free mood boost.
Dec. 24: Party stress free
Holiday parties aren’t all fun and games. They can be a serious stressor— we round up the best ways to relieve the stress.
Studies show sex may be especially effective for relieving stress thanks to happiness hormones. The results may even include lower blood pressure.
Snacking is a favorite Greatist Team pastime (an informal poll revealed at least half of Greatists would rather eat snacks all day than meals). So, in an effort to make snacking more resolution-friendly, we decided to round up healthy snacks— 88 of them to be exact— all under 100 calories.
Dec. 27: Give those muscles a break
It’s essential to allow some time for muscles to recover after a workout. But younger, fitter athletes may not require the recommended full 48 hours. To speed recovery, try stretching and eating plenty of protein post-workout.
Dec. 28: Hit the gym to get more Zzz’s
Don’t worry about skipping a nap to head to the gym. Research suggests daytime sweat sessions could make hitting the sheets at night even easier. For one, folks with insomnia were less anxious after working out and therefore fell asleep more easily. In another study, high-school athletes also got better sleep than their peers and were more alert during the day.
Dec. 29: Get Movin’
No need to bust your budget or belt this winter. Active and romantic winter dates can keep you and your significant other entertained despite the blustery weather.
Dec. 30: Choose the Best From the Bar
No need to kick off the New Year on the wrong foot. Choose from these healthier options at the bar for a slimmer indulgence:
- Best Beer: Michelob Ultra has fewer calories and carbs than most competitors, and it’s one of the best for alcohol content per calorie (ya know, if that’s what you’re looking for).
- Best Liquor: Vodka and whiskey are the most budget-friendly options, and better for the waistline when ordered neat or on the rocks.
- Best Wine: White Zinfandel has slightly fewer calories, but in honor of New Year’s Eve, Champagne takes the win at about 85 calories per glass.
Dec. 31: Bundle Up
Exercising in the cold can be perfectly safe. Just dress in layers and keep extremities (hands, feet, head) especially cozy.