Your 10 biggest exercise and eating questions answered!
No more wondering what the heck to do when you get your period the day of tryouts or what to eat before you exercise. We took your head-scratchers straight to the pros.
Body stumper #1
Why do I always eat when I’m bored?
Blame Cupcake Wars. “If you look at our culture, food is entertainment for us,” nutrition expert and wellness coach Jackie Keller tells us. And when you’ve got nada to do, it seems easier to grab a snack than to do something productive. Next time you start mindlessly munching, put down the chips and hit the pavement for a walk or run.
Body stumper #2
Seriously…what should I eat before and after I work out?
“The key is to get a balanced meal in before and after and throughout the rest of the day,” suggests Mark Macdonald, author of Body Confidence. An hour before you exercise, grab a small snack like Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit. Post-sweat sesh, go for something like a turkey sandwich or cheese and an apple, which offers a good mix of fat, carbs and protein.
Body stumper #3
I always get cramps while I’m running. What gives?
You’re not alone. “Many runners get ‘stitch’ cramps on their sides, likely caused by shallow breathing,” says Deb Plitt, a Life Fitness master trainer. Try breathing deeply when you’re jogging (inhale and exhale for four counts). Stomach issues also can be caused by dehydration or eating heavy foods too close to a run. Combat cramps by drinking 16 ounces of water 45 to 60 minutes before running, Deb suggests.
Body stumper #4
What can I do to stick with my shape-up plan?
“Just like everything in life, making your health a priority takes work,” Mark reminds us. It’s important to find a form of exercise you l-o-v-e, whether it’s spinning or salsa dancing. Come up with a reward system and give yourself a treat every five workouts. Head to girlslife.com to sign up for a Healthy You journal to track all of your progress.
Body stumper #5
Why do I gain weight every time I start working out?
“The main reason people gain weight when they start working out is that they’re eating more than they are burning,” says Mark. Keep nutrition in check with balanced, good-for-you meals. As much as you want to scarf down sweets and salty stuff after sweating, stick to healthy snacks. Your bod will thank you.
Body stumper #6
What’s my perfect weight?
Hop off the scale and talk to your doc, who will give you a good idea of a healthy weight range for your body. Says Deb: “There is no single number that’s the ‘right’ body weight for everyone. It’s based on body type, frame size and muscle.” Remember that weight gain is normal during puberty, “which is perfectly fine, as long as body fat and muscle are kept in proportion.”
Body stumper #7
Should I work out every day?
Not so fast. “You should only exercise six days per week—max,” says celeb trainer Michael George, author of Body Express Makeover. “Over-training is just as bad as under-training,” he continues. In fact, excessive exercise is a major cause of injury in teen girls. So take a breather and give yourself a few days to just kick back and relax.
Body stumper #8
Should I drink water or a sports drink during practice?
“For moderate workouts, water is the best course of action,” Michael says. You’ll replenish the H20 you’re losing through sweat, without dousing your cells with sugar. But for workouts that last for a longer period of time, Michael suggests Gatorade. “The new formula provides the body with everything it loses during long, intense workouts.”
Body stumper #9
Ugh, how can I make my thighs skinnier?
In general, spot training—or focusing just on one part of your bod—doesn’t work. You can, however, do cardio to torch fat all over and tighten up certain muscles. Michael says running is a great way to tone the legs. “It shrinks the thighs as well as aids in reducing body fat,” he says.
Body stumper #10
What’s the deal with exercising during my period?
Getting your sweat on will actually help lessen those cramps. “There are many positive outcomes for exercising during [your period],” says Gloria Averbuch, co-author of Run Your First Marathon. “Women have won Olympic medals at all stages of their cycle,” she explains. Stock up on tampons and then hit the track.
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