Growing up as athletic kids with an overprotective mom, we knew when to let her know when we were feeling sick and when not to. After all, on one hand, if we were sick in her household, she was even more doting than ever. She wanted us instantly better so we had a bell next to our bedside, and any time we rang it meant tons of love and attention, homemade soup, OJ… you name it. 🙂
But on the other hand, if she thought we were sick or heading that way, there was no sports practice, no splashing around in the chilly creek, etc., until we got better. And even though she followed the golden rule–if you feel it in the neck and above, exercise is OK and if it’s below the neck, exercise is out, she still wondered if it would make us sicker if she allowed us to exercise even if we only felt it from the neck up.
Our clients frequently ask us this too. So, should you work out if you’re feeling sick? After all, a light to moderate workout may make you feel better…
- Even 20 minutes of exercise may make you feel better. The key however, is to listen to your body–and realize that you may not be up for your typical level of exercise intensity.
- Try speed walking for 20 minutes, which may make you feel better. If your sinuses are clogged, exercise may open up your nasal passages and taking some deeper breaths from the exercise may be helpful, too.
- Yoga increases blood flow and lowers anxiety. If you feel fine jogging, it acts as a decongestant, too.
- Skip endurance training or high intensity training.
- If exercise makes you feel worse, stop.
Symptoms below the neck? If you have flu-like symptoms like body aches, nausea or vomiting or chest congestion and other symptoms, working out should be tabled and you should be chaired–or in the bed. 🙂
Remember, research shows that those who exercise regularly tend to get sick less frequently. And exercising helps to boost immunity. (Just remember that exercising too much and too intensely can do just the opposite.).
As registered dietitians and as New York City dwellers, New York City Marathon day is one of our favorites. There’s excitement in the air— and it’s truly inspiring to watch all of those who have set out to run the 26.2 mile course and who have trained hard for months, and practiced their nutrition protocol, especially during their long runs. Just watching people at the finish line gives us a high–as if we ran the marathon ourselves–it’s that inspiring! For months leading up to the ING NYC Marathon many marathon runner hopefuls come through our office doors in search of the best way to maximize their nutrition for an amazing run. If you are preparing for the race, here are some of our tips:
Check out our post on what to eat 4-6 months before the marathon here.
Check out our post on what to eat 48 hours before the marathon here.
The day before the marathon is an exciting one! Now’s the time to continue doing all that you have practiced in terms of your nutrition.
One day before the marathon: More than likely, you’ve been working hard to eat nutritious foods to fuel your training, so now is the time to eat similarly .
- Make sure you are getting plenty of carbs (Yes, your friends will be very envious that you have to eat plenty of ’em 🙂 ) to maximize your muscle energy stores (glycogen) by including carbohydrates at each meal (yay!). Good options are brown rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa, oatmeal and pasta.and drink plenty of fluids throughout the day and eat your typical meals that are familiar to you.
- Focus on getting plenty of fluids. Today is a very important day to hydrate so sip on a water bottle throughout the day and drink at least 10 ounces of water with your meals.
- Avoid large meals, they’ll weigh you down and leave you feeling lethargic and heavy. (Bloat isn’t a good look anyway 😉 )
- A MISTAKE MANY RUNNERS MAKE: They eat a large meal the night before the run. This can backfire when you wake up feeling lethargic and bloated–imagine trying to run the morning after eating Thanksgiving Dinner. No fun! Dinner: Keep the portion size modest, do not gorge yourself! An all-time favorite for many of our clients, is Pasta with Grilled chicken and vegetables, providing enough carbohydrates to top off your body’s energy stores, so you’ll be fully fueled to run 26.2 miles in the morning.
- Avoid fatty foods, dairy, fried foods, meats, roughage and nuts, as they all can slow digestion and cause extra stomach strain in your stomach which may already be a bit jittery and hampering normal digestion. (Being doubled over in pain or having indigestion is exhausting and can wear you out before the big run!)
A few things to consider:
• WHAT MOST PEOPLE DON’T TELL YOU: As exciting as the marathon is, you’re also nervous and anxious and want to do your best. This all stresses the immune system right before you run a race that majorly stresses your immune system. So you’ll want to make your body and immune system as strong and well-equipped as possible for your run. The key is to flood your body with stress-fighting, damage-preventing nutrients that also fight inflammation so that your body is strong and in good working order when you head out on race day.
- Use our Red, Orange or Green rule–– choose one fruit or veggie that is any of these colors at each meal to ensure you are ingesting antioxidants to fight free-radical damage as well as anti-inflammatories (to keep your insides more calm) Think oranges, berries, spinach– go for your favorites!
• If you have been drinking beet juice, now is the time to get it back in your system, but only if you’ve had it before—it’s not the time to test anything new. Beets are packed with dietary nitrates, which help blood vessels dilate, increasing blood flow to muscles during exercise and decreasing the amount of oxygen muscles need. Studies show that muscles are able to work more efficiently and move faster. Nitrate levels benefit from a loading phase so 6-8 ounces today and yesterday (hopefully you read our guide for 48 hours before the race! **see below if not) will help before you drink it on race day. (If you don’t love the taste, mix it with apple juice).
- Take deep breaths, try to relax and sleep well, the stronger your immune system is when you set out to run the race and the healthier you are, the easier it will be for you to run your A-game race.
- We can’t wait to watch you! Go get ’em tiger! Good luck! You rock!! 🙂 🙂
**We recommend testing using beet juice before some of your runs. Beet juice is packed with dietary nitrates, which help blood vessels dilate, increasing blood flow to muscles during exercise and decreasing the amount of oxygen muscles need. So muscles are able to work more efficiently and move faster. Nitrate levels benefit from a loading dose, so you can start to build up your levels a few days before a race or competition. Generally during the loading phase, aim to consume atout 6-8 ounces of beet juice daily. Studies have shown that drinking half a liter (about 17 ounces) of beet juice two to three hours before running can enhance performance. Pssst… if you don’t like the taste you can mix it with a little apple juice. 🙂
- And here are some important reminders:
- • Focus on getting plenty of fluids.
- • Maximize your muscle energy stores (glycogen) by including carbohydrates at each meal. Now's the time to have really enjoy it! Good options are brown rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa, oatmeal and pasta.
- • WHAT MOST PEOPLE DON’T TELL YOU: Most people feel both excited and a little anxious—even good stress/ excitement taxes the body, so you’ll want to make your body and immune system are as strong and well-equipped as possible for your run. And running a marathon puts a huge stress on the immune system. It’s easy to get nervous and feel tempted to try something new that a friend mentions helped them. But don’t stray too far from your typical diet since your body can tolerate it and is accustomed to it. Be careful not to get so focused on manipulating carbohydrates that you forget about bolstering your immune system. Pack your diet with stress-fighting, damage-preventing nutrients that also fight inflammation so that your body is strong and in good working order when you head out on race day.
- • Use our
- Red, Orange or Green rule
- to choose one produce item that is any of these colors at each meal to ensure you are ingesting antioxidants to fight free-radical damage as well as anti-inflammatories (to keep your insides more calm) and fiber to keep any possible toxins moving out of your digestive tract.
- • Steer clear of foods that don’t pack nutrients and that add stress to your system like alcohol, refined grains and sweet and fried foods.
- • If you've been practicing with beet juice before your runs, continue on with your loading phase and continue to drink about 6-8 ounces today. If you don't like the way it tastes, add some apple juice to it.
- • Limit refined grains, fatty meats, sweets and fried foods. They’ll weigh you down and make you feel sluggish and crowd out healthy foods that may provide nutrients and long-lasting energy.
- • A MISTAKE MANY RUNNERS MAKE: They eat a large meal the night before the run. This can backfire when you wake up feeling lethargic and bloated. Think of the way you feel the morning after Thanksgiving. Now imagine running 26.2 miles. It seems nearly impossible! So have a carbohydrate-rich meal that will top off your glycogen stores. A favorite among are runners is pasta with some chicken and vegetables. Keep the portion moderate in size so you don't feel sick, bloated or heavy in the morning.
Lately, Tammy’s eight-year old twin daughters are really into 6-pack abs. After watching the American Ninja Warrior TV show and being impressed by the athletes strength, agility and speed, they want to one day compete on the show! They’ve noticed the strong, muscular physiques of the competitors, both men and women. They know they’ll need to be strong to compete and they love to flex their muscles and feel strong. And recently, they even love to look at older boys who have great ab definition–oy! (this already makes us a bit nervous! Tammy tells them she’ll have none of that until they are 35! 🙂 )– and they want to know what they can do to strengthen their abs. Showing them exercises has inspired us to work a little harder on our own abs. After all, who doesn’t want sexier abs? Sign us up! 🙂
Here’s one of Tammy’s latest ab exercises (click on the bottom photo to watch the video). She loves that she can do it anywhere, any time, no equipment needed!
Another part about this exercise that Tammy loves is that it actually stretches and loosens her tight hips (her tight hips lead to a lot of her injuries and are one of her Achilles’ heels so this move kills two birds with one ab exercise! 🙂 )
Watch the video below to see how to do it– or follow these steps for the Knee Circle Plank:
1. Get into a plank position with your palms on the floor, not your elbows.
2. Keep your arms straight and abs tight to keep your body straight like a board, and pull your right knee in towards your chest while you circle the knee in a clockwise and then counterclockwise in a slow controlled movement.
3. Complete seven times with one leg, and then switch to the other leg.
Is that you we see with a six pack?! 🙂
Psst… looking for more at-home exercises? Try these!
As registered dietitians and personal trainers we hear it all. Our clients and friends tell us the body parts that they want to shape up and they request simple exercises that will help them achieve their goals. One of the body parts that our clients seem to find the toughest to tone and that they complain the most about is their triceps (aka, the back of the arm –that area that we all want to prevent from waving goodbye after we’ve stopped waving! 😉 ). We hear them, we all want to stay on top of our triceps so they don’t get overly friendly–and start waving on their own! 🙂
That’s why we’ve got this little move for you!
This simple exercise is one that we do when we don’t have time to go to the gym. The secret to doing this exercise correctly and effectively is really squeezing the back of the arm as you straighten them and pretend you’re pushing a really heavy weight. So use your own resistance as you straighten your arm.
Easy Tricep Toner
1. Stand up straight, holding your abdomen tight, squeezing your belly button toward your spine.
2. Lift your arms up behind you with your palms facing the sky.
3. Keeping your elbows as steady and still as you can, slowly bend your arms and then slowly straighten them, imagine you’re pushing against a weight as you straighten them. Squeeze your triceps as you straighten your arms to really feel the resistance.
4. Repeat exercise for one minute or until you really feel the burn. Take a minute break and repeat again until you’ve completed three sets. Hello, sexy arms! 🙂
- Stand up straight, holding your abdomen tight, squeezing your belly button toward your spine.
- Lift your arms up behind you with your palms facing the sky.
- Keeping your elbows as steady and still as you can, slowly bend your arms and then slowly straighten them, imagine you're pushing against a weight as you straighten them. Squeeze your triceps as you straighten your arms to really feel the resistance.
- Repeat exercise for one minute or until you really feel the burn. Take a minute break and repeat again until you've completed three sets. Hello, sexy arms! 🙂
Here are our favorite tricks that we ALWAYS use before heading to a BBQ, a pool, the beach, or an event where we need to wear a LBD (i.e. the “Lil’ Black Dress”). Of course, as registered dietitians and personal trainers, these are based on science, but keep in mind that these are the tricks that don’t just look good on paper– they really work! So we just have to share them! You’re welcome! 😉
1. Wake up and immediately drink 16 ounces (or more!) of water
- This will wake up your digestive tract—and get things movin’on out 😉 Buh, bye leftovers from last night that that are lingering in the colon. (This works like magic for us 😉)
- It will help to flush bloating salt and water along with it.
- It will prevent dehydration and give your body what it needs for its’ chemical reactions to make energy to start your day.
2. Get your sweat on! Do some form of cardio for at least 15 minutes.
- This really gets your intestinal tract going to get things moving out of your colon. Ah-hem, yes, we mean, you’re preventing constipation and the gut bulges that come with it! (If you run, like we often do, you probably know how well this works!)
- You’ll get rid of the little layer of “puff” right beneath your skin as you sweat out a little salt.
- You’ll activate your muscles so they look toned and tight at the event.
3. Watch this move below. It’s the hook, line and sinker for your bloat-free belly. Your stomach will look so much tighter! It’s crazy cool! 🙂
Tammy learned this move after she first gave birth to her twins. This activates your stomach muscles and it trains them to stay right and tight—rather than just hanging out like most of us (yep, us too– so this is a good reminder for us!) let our stomachs do when we are just standing around.
What to do:
Step 1. Activate the muscles in your stomach by simply standing with your back against the wall and placing your hand on your stomach. Squeeze your abs, pulling your belly button back to your spine. Breathe out as you do it. Think of your stomach muscles acting as a zipper and zipping the stomach in nice and tight from the bottom up. Your hand should feel your abs move back towards your spine.
Step 2. Remember, as you squeeze your abs towards your spine breathe out. Hold your abs tight for several counts and then release. Do this at least 15-20 times. You may feel this in your back too, that’s OK, and it’s part of the strengthening and toning process and actually is a sign you’re doing it correctly.
Step 3. Now that you’ve activated the muscles, do this on your way to the event—and even at the event! What we love is that no one will even see what you’re doing, but they will see tight abs and a flat stomach, oh yeah! 🙂
4. Eat a breakfast that is high in fiber and protein. The fiber will help you to feel satisfied by filling up your stomach and assisting your digestive tract in making sure everything keeps moving along to prevent constipation and bloat while the protein will keep you satiated. Stay away from super heavy breakfasts that will weigh you down and make you feel heavy.
And consider drinking this Cucumber Blueberry Water Flush (or something similar) during the day and at the event!
We’re dying to hear how our favorite bloat-free tricks worked for you! Please leave a comment below and let us know! Also, for bonus tips to stay bloat free at the event, check out these!