You may know me as The Get In Shape Girl, but I haven’t always been a fitness goddess. I went through a life-changing transformation after an unhealthy start in my early twenties. I had gone off to college, where my social life and partying took precedence over health and learning to cook. I lived on Hamburger Helper (with soy meat—I was a vegetarian for animal rights purposes), tacos, cheese pizza, mac and cheese, cookies, chips, beer and cheap wine. I was very inactive. Just the thought of sweating, to me, was gross.
What exactly does it mean to recover after a workout? Whether you’re strength training, running, spinning or dancing, your body needs time to repair and re-energize after exercise. During strenuous physical activity, muscle tissue breaks down, fluid is lost and energy stores are depleted. Recovery allows the body to repair damaged muscle tissues (ultimately leading to the creation of bigger muscle fibers, or building strength) and to replenish energy stores.
Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter, which means you’ve got plenty of time to start slimming down for swimsuit season (or even spring break). The key to getting lean is to combine cardio exercise with the right diet. First, you need to make sure you’re doing enough cardio to burn fat every day. Next, clean up your plate. When mapping out your weekly meal plans, consider including high-quality meal replacement shakes. Let me tell you why.
No matter how you slice it, a sandwich is still a carb-heavy meal—not what you want when you’re trying to sculpt a lean bod. Skip the bread and blend up an oldie but goodie, smoothie style, instead. Creamy peanut butter and sweet strawberry jam are whirled together with Greek yogurt, Six Star whey and a splash of milk for a frosty, drinkable lunch with extra protein punch.
Working out solo has its benefits: you stay focused, you choose the activities and no one has to see (or smell) you sweat. But if your partner is health-minded, like you, exercising together every once in a while has its perks, too. For starters, pairing up in the gym is known to help people stick with their goals. Your sex life might also get a boost (think of all those endorphins flowing!).
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I often hear the complaint: “I’m working out almost every day, but my weight won’t budge.” What many people don’t realize is that exercise is the easy part. Learning to eat right–and sticking with a healthy-eating plan–is a much bigger challenge when it comes to shedding extra pounds and changing the shape of your body. You can kill yourself in the gym, sweating through an hour or more of cardio daily and lifting weights until you drop. But the results aren’t going to show if there’s a layer of fat sticking around due to a poor diet.
Repeat after me, ladies: strength training, lifting dumbbells and entering the free-weight area of the gym are not going to make me look like a man.While it seems like a logical progression—lift weights, build muscle, turn into a bodybuilder—the truth is, you’re not going to bulk up like the guys you see slamming plates at the gym, or even like the women on the pages of muscle magazines. It takes intense training (and testosterone levels we simply don’t have), to build bulging biceps, chiseled chests and rock-hard rear ends.
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