The Latest From Top Fitness

Easy TV Workout  

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If you’ve had a long, stressful day, the last thing you want to do is head to the gym. While we obviously think you should since exercise helps reduce stress, we also wouldn’t blame you for wanted to stay home and watch TV. However, just because you’re having some TV time doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. Here are a few ways to get a workout in while watching the tube. 

Do Exercises During Commercial Breaks

You can focus on the show while it’s on, and then use the commercials to do your workout. If you have stairs, running up and down them for a few minutes will give your lower body a workout while raising you heart rate. You can also do a set of basic but effective exercises (see below) right on the living room floor. 

Work Out During the Show

If the characters in your regular show always do certain things, use that as a cue to do a specific exercise. For example, in the show The Office, the character Jim always gives the camera a specific look. If you’re watching it on Netflix, you could do 10 squats every time he looks at the camera.

Sit On an Exercise Ball

If you really can’t bring yourself to do lots of exercises during your show, you can still burn a few calories and build some muscle. Instead of flopping on the couch, watch TV while sitting on an exercise ball. It will help you build strength in your core without too much effort on your part.

Best TV Exercises

The best exercises for when you’re watching TV are ones that don’t distract you too much from the show. If you didn’t care about watching, you would’ve gone to the gym. Below are some of the best exercises for a TV workout.

Lunges

Lunges work your legs, glutes and core in one easy move. Plus, there are lots of kinds of lunges at focus on different parts of your lower body. You can do classic lunges, backwards lunges, sideways lunges, or curtsy lunges.

Squats

Squats are a classic move that works for everyone from the serious athlete to the beginner. The best part is that you face one direction so you can keep your eyes on the screen.

Jumping Jacks (or Jumping Rope)

This is a great way to get your heart rate up. If jumping jacks are going to be too distracting (or if you don’t have the space), try jumping rope. You don’t even need an actually jump rope. Just mimic the motions with your arms.

Sit Ups

The sit up is a tried and true method for working your core. They can easily be done on a yoga mat on the floor.

There are all sorts of workouts you can do while watching your favorite TV shows or movies. Simply search online for a workout to do with a particular show. There are exercises for The Office, Parks and Rec, Law & Order, The Bachelor, Harry Potter and more. Pick whatever you want to watch and follow the exercise routine. Plus, you don’t have to have a ton of equipment to do a great workout at home.

Easy Ways to Cut Sugar from Your Diet  

Posted by in Nutrition | 0 comments

blog-image-topfitness-1We all know that too much sugar isn’t good for you, especially the processed kind. It can lead to weight gain, make your energy levels inconsistent, cause breakouts, and increases your risk of things like heart disease and diabetes. Still, most Americans eat way too much sugar on a daily basis. For a healthy diet, men should consume at most 37.5 grams or nine teaspoons of sugar per day. Women should eat no more than 25 grams or six teaspoons. However, some studies have shown that the average American eats 76 grams of sugar per day, or the equivalent of 19 teaspoons. Thankfully, there are relatively easy ways to cut back on sugar.

Read Labels

Companies sneak so much sugar into products you wouldn’t expect. Jarred tomato sauce is a big culprit of added sugar, as is peanut butter. Always check how many grams of sugar per serving are in all your processed food. You should also read the ingredients list. Some foods have naturally occurring sugars, but if you see sugar (by any name—glucose, dextrose, sucrose, maltose and high-fructose corn syrup) on the list of ingredients, you know it contains added sugar.

Eat Real Food

Sugar occurs naturally in a lot of the food you eat, but those sugars aren’t necessarily bad for you. Your body needs them to function properly. There also isn’t a ton of sugar in them anyway. The more real food you eat, the less likely to are to eat sugar. Instead of reaching for boxed snacks in the afternoon, grab an apple, a few almonds or some carrot sticks.

Don’t Drink Your Sugar

We don’t necessarily thinking about the contents of our beverages the way we think about food. It’s easy over the course of a day to drink a ton of sugar. Sodas, fancy coffeehouse drinks and alcoholic beverages all contain sugar. Skip the sugar in your morning coffee and swap out soda for tea or sparkling fruit water. At happy hour, stick to beer, straight liquor or even a little bit of wine—just no mixers.

Get Enough Sleep

When you’re sleep deprived, you’re less likely to make wise decisions when it comes to what you eat and drink. You reach for quick carbs and sugars when you’re tired to give you a boost of energy, but it doesn’t last long. Your blood sugar drops and you eventually crash. You then reach for even more sugar, turning it into a cycle.

Eat More Often

You are much more likely to reach for sugary foods when your blood sugar is low and you feel ravenous. Eating consistently throughout the day can help keep your blood sugar and energy levels steady so you’re not as likely to give in to cravings. Just remember to stick to healthy snacks that are mostly whole foods. 

Go Cold Turkey

If you’ve tried the easy ways and still have trouble dealing with sugar cravings, you may want to consider quitting it altogether, at least for a little while. Eliminating processed sugar completely is tough, but after a while you’ll stop craving sweets. It might even make natural sugars in fruit and dairy taste even sweeter!

How to Use a Foam Roller

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blog-image-topfitness-2A foam roller is an extremely versatile piece of equipment that everyone should have. They’re inexpensive (a cheap one costs around $25), portable and you can use them to do a wide variety of exercises. They can be used to help you stretch, relieve sore muscles and even build strength. Here are our favorite ways to use a foam roller.

Massage Your Muscles

The best and most popular use for a foam roller is for massaging your muscles, also called self-myofascial release. If you’ve been working out hard and your muscles are aching, massaging them with a foam roller can help loosen them up. It gives you a deep tissue massage that breaks up scar tissue and other tight spots. It promotes healing and speeds up the recovery process. Here are some of our favorite massage moves that can be used for both warm ups and cool downs. Be warned: it will hurt in the best way possible.

Back

Sit upright with the foam roller under your lower back. Place your hands on the floor behind you. Slowly bend your knees and move the roller up your back to just beneath your shoulder blades. 

Hamstrings

Tight hamstrings seem to be a big complaint. Place the roller under your thighs and roll from your butt to your knees. Cross one leg over the other and roll one thigh at a time for increased pressure.

IT Band

Lie on your side with the foam roller underneath one hip. Cross your top log in front of you with the knee bent. Move your bottom leg over the roller from the hip to the knee with as much pressure on the bottom leg as you can stand.

Do Some Yoga

Foam rollers can be used as a yoga prop to help deepen your poses and make yoga more accessible.  

Make the Ground Closer

If you’re in triangle or another pose where you want your hand on the ground but can’t quite get there, a shorter foam roller can help. Place the flat edge on the floor anywhere you need the ground to be a little closer.

Ease Lower Back Pain

Sometimes when you’re lying flat on the floor in yoga, it can cause pain or discomfort in your lower back. Place a foam roller under your knees to relieve pressure. 

Extend Your Stretch

If the basic yoga poses have gotten a little too easy for you, use a foam roller to make them more challenging. Place a foam roller under your ankle for a deeper hamstring stretch or use it to really work your shoulders and lats. 

Build Strength

You can use a foam roller to boost your workouts and help you build muscle. 

Plank and Pushup

Make planks and pushups a little harder by adding an unstable surface. Place your hands on the foam roller while doing a plank, or put it under your feet while you’re doing pushups.

Core Workouts

Instability helps build your core. Place the foam roller lengthwise down your spine while doing sit ups and marching crunches.

Balance

A foam roller can work like a balance disc. Try a rolling lunge. Instead of stepping backwards into the lunge, keep the roller under your back foot and roll into it.

The Importance of Stretching

Posted by in Lifestyle, Stretching Machines, Yoga | 0 comments

blog-image-topfitness-2You know how important exercise is to leading a healthy lifestyle. You probably do cardio at least a few times a week and hopefully work on building strength and muscle, as well. One aspect of exercise that often gets forgotten is stretching. Stretching is crucial to a well-rounded workout plan. In fact, it’s just as important as strength and cardio are to your routine. Here are the benefits of stretching regularly.

Better Posture

If you’ve been working on building a strong core and shoulders, you should be able to stand up nice and tall. However, if your muscles are too tight, it could be causing you to hunch over. In addition to strength, keeping yourself limber will lead to better posture.  

Makes Workouts More Accessible

If you want to perfect your pistol squat but can’t get low enough to do it, it might not be a strength issue. Increased flexibility will make it easier for you to achieve those difficult moves. When your hips and hamstrings are loose, you are able to get even lower in those squats. More flexibility and rotation in your shoulders will make arm and chest exercises easier. 

Lowers Risk of Injury

Tight muscles are much more likely to pull, strain or tear than loose ones. Stretching helps increase your range of motion so you can do more. You won’t have to worry as much about tearing your hamstring or straining your shoulder during a tough strength workout when you know your muscles are flexible enough to stretch out and bounce back.

Less Low Back Pain

Lower back pain is a common complaint amongst adults, especially those who sit at desks all day. You can build your core muscle, but if those muscles are tight, there’s only so much a strength workout can do for you. When your hamstrings, glutes and hips are tight, it puts excess pressure on your lumbar spine to keep your body properly aligned, leading to pain. Stretching will help loosen those muscles and distribute the weight more evenly.

Keeps Knees Healthy

Many adults develop knee problems as they age, and a lot of it has to do with the pressure that we put on them every day. Short, tight and weak hamstrings create big imbalances in your legs and force your knees to do more work. Building lower body strength will definitely help, but you need to stretch those muscles out, too. Limber hamstrings and a flexible IT band will support your knees when you’re running and squatting.

Clears Your Mind

Stretching helps release tension in your body, but it also helps ease tension in your mind. Just 10-15 minutes a day of active stretching can calm your mind and give you a mental break. A class like yoga is designed to use stretches and flexibility exercises to help you clear your mind.

You don’t have to become an expert yogi to reap the rewards. You’ll see improvements simply by stretching after your other workouts. Still, if you can, you should try to do one long stretching session once a week, somewhere between 45 and 60 minutes. Whether it’s a yoga class, pilates video or just your own flexibility work, making time to stretch deeply every week will make your workouts much better.

How to Avoid Failing Your Fitness Resolutions

Posted by in Lifestyle, Motivation | 0 comments

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Statistically the third week of January is when most people ‘fall off the wagon’ on their New Year’s resolutions and fail in their fitness goals.

For a couple of weeks you might have been dedicated and disciplined; hitting the gym before work and strictly eating a healthy diet. After a couple of weeks, you will naturally start to crave foods you are missing, as the initial surge of motivation starts to deplete. The gym becomes less and less appealing.

What do you need to do to keep it up? To stick with your healthy lifestyle for more than 2 or 3 weeks, and finally make this the year that it sticks and you achieve your goals?

The first thing we must do is define what failure is and isn’t.

What is Failure?

Failure is not eating one meal that isn’t on your diet plan, or missing one gym session. We have to move away from the thinking that anything other than 100% perfection is a failure.

You’re a human being, life happens and you are never going to get everything right, every time. Expecting to do so, and using that as your measure of success is simply setting you up to fall. You will never be able to meet those expectations.

The only time you fail is when you give up trying. A bad day doesn’t mean you failed. Slipping backwards a little in your progress doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Only when you quit trying and admit defeat, have you failed.

Setting Expectations

You need to set expectations that you have a chance to meet. If you’re aiming too high – for perfection – you’re never going to attain that.

You must allow yourself a little bit of flexibility and freedom on your plan, for when life gets in the way. If you’re realistic with yourself, you know that you’re not going to never eat foods you like again. You know you’re not going to go to the gym every single day for the rest of your life.

The aim is for progress, not perfection. Every week, every month, you move forwards. Averaged out over a week, you should be sticking with your plan the majority of the time, and that will ensure you make consistent progress forwards.

Changing Your Self-Image

One of the reasons we struggle with setting realistic and sustainable aims is because we do not believe we can do it, before we even start.

If that is our belief at the beginning, we will set ourselves up to fail; to prove ourselves right. It lets us feel better about giving up, burying the feelings of wanting to change back into the back of our mind, and going about our normal lives, content that we tried to change.

To actually succeed, you need to change your self-image. You need to believe that you can become a fit person, slim person, or whatever it is you’re aiming for. That means setting targets that are realistic for you to achieve.

If you have 40lbs to lose, you’re not going to do it in 2 weeks. You should plan to lose 2-4lbs in that timeframe and no more. You’ve got to look at it from the perspective of the progress you have made thus far, not how far you still have left to go.

If you’re viewing it as “I’ve been trying so hard for 2 week, but I STILL have 38lbs to lose…” then you are going to kill your motivation. It took months, years or maybe even decades to get to where you are now. You have to be realistic about how long it is going to take to change that.

Not just because it takes time for your body to change, but because it is hard for you to change deeply embedded habits.

If you’ve never eaten healthy food; always picked up junk food on the go, and slumped down on the sofa to watch Netflix; it will take time to change those patterns. You will slip backwards sometimes. There will be days where you slump down with a box of fried chicken, instead of hitting the gym.

There is simply no way you can change how you act that significantly in an instant. It takes time and you will not achieve it every single day on the journey.

Progress, Not Perfection

Your aim should be to get to the gym just twice per week, instead of heading for the Netflix binge. To eat a healthy breakfast every day for a week – not to never eat junk food again.

It might not sound like a lot, but it is more than you were doing before. That is progress. That is moving in the right direction. After these things start to become habit, then you can add more things in – eat a healthy lunch, go to the gym 3 or 4 times per week.

You don’t have to start off with the ‘perfect’ routine. You just need to start doing a little bit more than you were doing before. Then you can build from there and add things in as you achieve them. Increase in small, manageable chunks, rather than giant leaps that are unsustainable.

Often when we set resolutions, we get too excited. We don’t look at making long-term sustainable changes. We have a wave of motivation and try to change everything on January 1st. It might work for a couple of weeks, but it is unlikely to work for much longer.

I urge you to re-assess your intentions, even if things are still going well for you right now. Are you going to be able to stick with this for ever? How will you feel when things go wrong?

You know that something will happen – work will get busy, you’ll get sick, something that puts a spanner in your routine and throws you off track. Will you be able to deal with that? Do you have a contingency plan? Will you be able to get back on track as soon as possible?

You should aim to enjoy the process of changing your body. To not feel deprivation or guilt. If you crave foods, work them into your diet in a way that is controllable and healthy, rather than depriving yourself until the point that you binge, feel guilty about it, and beat yourself up.

Sometimes moving slower will take you to your destination faster than trying to rush. A sustainable plan that you enjoy is always going to beat the ‘perfect’ plan that is overly strict and makes you miserable.