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    Small Changes You Can Make If You Gained Weight During Quarantine

    So 2020 has been a ride, huh? Comfort food recipes are trending on Google, you haven’t worn pants without a drawstring since March, and workouts look more like laying on the living room floor and forcing ourselves to go through a yoga video on Youtube. The most thrilling part of the past six months was perfecting a banana bread recipe or when the new season of Selling Sunset came out, and you’ve totally ditched your Fitbit because it’s way too judgmental RN (the only steps we’re getting in is to and from the kitchen, so that 10,000 step goal is pretty much a distant memory). It’s no surprise that “Quarantine 15” is a trending phrase and weight loss is a trending topic these days.As a health coach, I’ve found that many clients will feel uncomfortable saying they’d like to lose weight, as if it’s materialistic or wrong. On the flip side, other women feel like they’re supposed to want to lose weight, even if they feel great as they are, because weight loss and diet culture are so normalized. So here’s my preface: instead of shaming yourself for whatever goal you do or don’t have, listen to your body, respect other women’s health goals, and know that what makes you feel good in your body is going to be different than anyone else. 
    Now that we have that out of the way, if weight loss is your goal after gaining weight in quarantine, here are 11 small changes you can make to help you feel like your best, healthiest self (yes, even after doing nothing but watching reruns of The Office on your couch for the past six months):

    Source: Chelsea Victoria | Stocksy

    1. First of all… chill out. 
    Weight gain does not mean anything besides just that: you gained weight. It doesn’t mean you’re less attractive, strong, or lovable. It simply means the entire world is going through a very scary time. Your routine and any sense of normalcy have changed, and it’s only normal for your body to change with it. Stress over weight gain is just as bad for your body as pandemic-induced anxiety, so don’t feel guilt or shame. Instead, know that your body is doing what it’s supposed to. If you want to lose weight because you feel less connected to your body and just overall less healthy, then I commend you for knowing your body well enough to identify what it needs. But prioritize losing the shame around weight gain over losing the weight. 

    Source: Daria Shevtsova | Pexels

    2. Don’t ignore cravings. Instead, find healthier alternatives.
    Cravings are not mistakes or punishments, and they’re not there to sabotage your weight loss or health goals. Cravings are actually one of the ways our bodies try to communicate with us what they need. Plus, if we have a major craving for delicious fajitas and force ourselves to eat another boring salad instead, it can lead to bingeing, restrictive eating, and an unhealthy relationship with food. Now that will sabotage your health goals. 
    Instead, find alternatives with nutritious whole foods to nourish your body. For example, if you have a sweet tooth, grab a square of dark chocolate after dinner. If you’re craving chips or fries, DIY sweet potato fries by tossing sweet potato slivers with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and baking them in the oven. If heavy comfort foods are more your medicine of choice, score a frozen cauliflower crust from Trader Joe’s to top with tomato sauce and organic cheese, or try chickpea pasta or spaghetti squash. For any other craving, check out these recipes to find a healthier alternative. 

    Source: Eli Sommer | Pexels

    3. Take a work break with movement instead of an Instagram scroll
    You know those moments when you mindlessly reach for your phone to scroll through Instagram or Tiktok after finishing a major task you’ve been working on for hours? Either your brain needs a break, or you need a few minutes “off” to transition into the next task. Instead of reaching for your phone, get up, and move. Do some stretching, go through a yoga flow, or do ten jumping jacks to get blood flowing. Not only will movement help you refocus and reenergize better than an Instagram scroll ever would, but it’s also an easy way to fit in more movement and motivate yourself to make better choices for the rest of the day. 

    4. Drink more water
    Drinking more water is a tale as old as time, but there’s a reason it’s the most basic, universal health hack in the book. For me, drinking a big glass of water first thing when waking up, sipping on a reusable straw throughout the day (I’m partial to these pretty gold ones), and having three drinks at a time to achieve optimal hydration (like lemon water and green juice with my coffee), has made a drastic difference in how my body feels. If I get hungry soon after eating, I drink a big glass of water rather than going straight to the pantry to mindlessly snack (more on that below!). Of course, if I’m still hungry afterward, I’ll eat something nourishing (the body knows what it needs), but I’ve also learned that a lot of hunger cues are actually thirst. Try drinking even more water every day and just watch how much better your body feels. 

    Source: Lauren Naefe | Stocksy

    5. Go on a walk every day
    Intense workout plans don’t always help us achieve health goals because they’re hard to keep up. You might run out of time to fit in a workout and forego exercise altogether that day, and we will all likely have days (or weeks) where we feel too tired to even start a 60-minute HIIT workout. Instead, shift your focus to living less sedentary and moving more often. Whether workouts are a part of your daily routine or you haven’t worked out since your gym was open in spring, make it a goal to go on walks every day. Take your dog for a walk in the morning, go on a walk while listening to a podcast on a work break, or grab your significant other for a stroll in the evening. 

    Source: Annie Spratt | Unsplash

    6. Every time you snack, ask yourself why
    Back to the cravings: yes, they can tell us what our bodies need, but it’s not always about food. More often than not, whenever we mindlessly snack or crave (like snacking while working or watching TV), it’s because our bodies are lacking something else, whether it’s a break, excitement, comfort, or joy. Every time you subconsciously reach for the bag of chips or Cheez-Its, ask yourself if you’re hungry or not. If you are, then great! You’re listening to your body’s cues. Proceed with the snack, or make a snack that might feel more fulfilling and satisfying.
    If you’re not hungry, ask yourself what void your body is trying to fill. Are you stressed and your body’s telling you to take a break from work, or are you looking for a way to comfort yourself because you’ve been feeling extra anxious lately? Maybe it’s the lack of anything exciting to look forward to, so you’re supplementing with cheesy, delicious snacks that don’t really fill the void. If you identify it is emotional snacking, try to feed your body in other ways: take a work break and go for a walk, plan a fun movie night with your roommate, or just give yourself a little extra love. 

    Source: Nabi Tang | Stocksy

    7. Stop weighing yourself
    You’ll see the most drastic changes when you enjoy healthy habits for both the mind and body, rather than thinking you have to do them for weight loss. You’ll stop hating yourself when the scale isn’t moving quickly enough, and will naturally look, feel, and be better. This is not woo-hoo self-help advice; being healthy for benefits like mental health and energy is what made the most drastic changes in my body (oh, and it was actually sustainable). When you’re focused on a number on the scale, you naturally feel more stressed, restricted, and disappointed. Instead, focus on how you feel to measure where you are, instead of relying on an objective number to tell you how you’re supposed to feel. 

    Source: Marc Bordons | Stocksy

    8. Turn workouts into a social activity 
    One of the most common sources of stress during this time is that we lack connection. Happy hours are restricted to Zoom, you gossip with your work wife over Slack instead of over lattes, and you run away from people at the grocery store who get too close–it’s against our nature as human beings to be so unconnected, leading to stress and anxiety. Kill two birds with one stone by turning workouts into social activities. Not only will you feel happier with more social connection, but you’re more likely to work out since you’ll have a friend to hold you accountable. Try going on socially-distanced hikes, doing group workouts with your quarantine crew, or meeting up with your sister to go through a workout series together.

    Source: @josie.santi

    9. Eat more vegetables with every meal
    In my humble opinion, one of the most effective changes you could make is learning about foods and the effects they have on the body. When you’re aware of the nutrients and benefits that come from whole foods, you start to see them as medicine and fuel, rather than in categories of “good” or “bad” foods that you’re either supposed to eat or not supposed to eat (and just like bad boys and the cookie jar, we want it more when it’s off-limits).
    Focusing on eating more vegetables can not only help you feel your best and crave fruits and vegetables, but it can also subconsciously crowd out processed and sugary foods (totally guilt-free). Do you typically have eggs for breakfast? No need to shift what you’re used to or enjoy. Instead, add some spinach to an omelet or put some avocado on top. Do you eat pasta on the regular? Throw in some kale and asparagus, and you’ll never feel deprived, while simultaneously giving your body nutrients that keep it healthy.

    Source: @barre3

    10. Invest in your health
    There’s a reason pricey programs work (if only temporarily): when people invest money into it, they’re more likely to stay motivated and on track. If you decided at the beginning of quarantine to workout with Youtube videos or some yoga flows on your own and find yourself never making time for exercise, it might be because you don’t have anything on the line. Try investing in an online subscription, a new pair of leggings, or a pretty yoga mat or pair of dumbbells. Likewise, invest in healthy produce. Because fresh produce goes bad much quicker than a box of mac n’ cheese or a frozen pizza, you’re more likely to go for a meal incorporating the fruits and veggies, if for no other reason than you don’t want your money to go to waste. There’s nothing more worthy of time and money than your most energetic, happiest, healthiest self, so start prioritizing it. 

    Source: Thais Varela | Stocksy

    11. Ask yourself the “why”
    You already know that setting goals are important when it comes to your health. Health goals are commonly to “lose weight,” “work out more,” or “eat cleaner,” and while these are all fine health goals, they don’t really mean anything. Ask yourself why you want to reach that goal. Why do you want to lose weight? Is it to feel more confident, to feel less sluggish, or to heal symptoms? Not only will reflecting on the “why” behind your goals be so much more motivating to keep in mind throughout the process than weight loss could ever be, but you’ll be able to assess whether or not you actually want your goals.
    If your goal is to be more confident, will losing weight truly help? And even if you know it would, what other things can you work on while simultaneously trying to lose weight to help reach that goal? Shift your goal from feeling good about your body to feel good in your body. You’ll realize that what you actually want is a holistic process that isn’t just about your diet or how much you’re exercising, but about how much joy you’re feeling. 

    What changes have helped you with weight loss or achieving your health goals? More

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    Get Those Trainers on for a Spot of Healthy Competition

    Get Those Trainers on for a Spot of Healthy Competition
    Join thousands of South African runners on a 10km virtual run. Who knows, you could even win a prize!
    This post is sponsored by Nedbank | 5 September 2020

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    If you haven’t yet joined the #NedbankRunified series, there is still time! There’s no denying the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on all our lives. For many of us, running is what kept us sane (even if it was around our own yards during stage five) and that’s why the guys at Nedbank created the #NedbankRunified series – a unique platform designed to bring South Africans together through our shared love for running.
    More than 92 000 runners took part in the first two instalments of the #NedbankRunified virtual running series in July (5km) and August (8km), the former having the largest number of participants in a South African virtual race to date.
    Round 3 of #NedbankRunified
    The third and penultimate challenge of the #NedbankRunified series is currently underway and will be live from 12-26 September 2020 – this time around, runners are expected to complete a 10km run.
    Runners who successfully complete each monthly challenge will stand a chance to win up to R50 000 in Greenbacks, plus exclusive Nedbank Running Club hampers courtesy of the club’s sponsors: Futurelife, Nike, Bavaria, and Biogen. What’s more, there are also cash prizes up for grabs for Nedbank Running Club members who finish in the top 10 of their respective categories.
    The overall series winner will walk away with the chance to compete in a major international marathon and an all-expenses-paid trip for two to get there. Because we all know there’s a good cheerleader behind every great runner.
    Stay in the loop and follow Nedbank Sport on Twitter and Facebook.
    Need a little more encouragement? Get inspired by the runners in this clip on YouTube.
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    Participate in the series by simply downloading the Strava app and then joining the verified Nedbank Running Club: https://www.strava.com/clubs/NedbankRunningClub

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    Here’s The Challenge You Need To Ace Those Running Goals

    The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the world and turned the way we do things on its head. We’ve had to adjust to a new way of living. But that doesn’t mean we have to give up on our passions – we just need to find different ways to pursue them. That’s why Nedbank has created the #NedbankRunified series – a unique platform designed to bring us together through our shared love for running.
    #NedbankRunified
    – Whether you’re a pro runner, an amateur, or someone who just indulges in an after-work pavement pounding therapy sesh, #NedbankRunified is for you…
    The first challenge in July saw more than 50 000 participants and the numbers have just kept growing! If this doesn’t activate a healthy competitive spirit in you, then a few prizes (including cash) will…
    Win with #NedbankRunified
    Runners who successfully complete each monthly challenge stand a chance to win up to R50 000 in Greenbacks, plus exclusive Nedbank Running Club hampers courtesy of the club’s sponsors: Futurelife, Nike, Bavaria and Biogen.
    There are also cash prizes up for grabs for Nedbank Running Club members who finish in the top 10 of their respective categories.
    Plus, the overall series winner walks away with the chance to compete in a major international marathon – including an all-expenses-paid trip for two so they can bring someone along to cheer them on.
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    To join the series, simply download the Strava app and join the verified Nedbank Running Club…

    Stay on top of all announcements, news and events relating to the #NedbankRunified series by following Nedbank Sport on Twitter and Facebook.

    READ MORE ON: Fitness Running Sponsored More

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    7 Little Things You Can Do for a Better Workout, According to Research

    Exercise is polarizing—some people love it, some simply tolerate it, and some dread it. But one thing we can all agree on is that optimizing our workouts sounds pretty good. Whether you can’t live without your early morning spin classes or you have to force yourself to go on those bi-weekly runs, you can benefit from giving your workout a little boost. If you don’t believe us, we have the research to back us up. And here’s the best part: these handy tips and tricks won’t make your go-to workout anymore expensive than it is right now. (And most of them won’t add any time to your workout—some will even save you time!). Keep reading for seven things you can do for a better workout.
    1. Stretch it out
    When you’re rushing to squeeze in a workout, stopping to stretch before and after is easy to skip. (Kind of like flossing. Oops.) Stretching is imperative for maintaining muscle health, strength, and flexibility. A few 30-second stretches can help you get ready for a workout, and you should try to stretch again after an aerobic or weight-training workout.

    2. Snack right
    It seems there are two types of pre-workout foods people reach for: some choose to carbo load and others rely on protein-packed shakes to get the job done. It turns out that both groups are right, but there’s no need to choose one or the other. In fact, an expert panel report in Nutrition Today reminded readers that carbs, proteins, and fats are important energy sources for workouts. Protein is especially important for strength training athletes, carbohydrates are a necessary energy source for high-intensity performances, and fats are key for sustaining active people during lower-intensity training bouts. That’s right, a well-rounded diet will do more good for those looking to improve their performances than loading up on just protein or carb heavy meals. No more playing favorites.

    Source: Livvyland

    3. Drink water
    When you sweat, your body loses water, which can lead to dehydration and workout struggles. Let’s say you lose just 2 percent of your body weight in fluids: a study from the University of North Carolina found that will make your workout feel harder, make recovery post-workout more challenging, and will reduce exercise performance. Here’s the real kicker: their study found that gym-goers typically sweat out a whopping 6-10 percent of body weight in fluids. Chances are, some of us are dehydrated before we even hit the gym. Be careful and drink some water before, during, and after your next workout.

    4. Get balanced
    It’s all about the core strength. According to a study in Current Sports Medicine, exercising in a way that incorporates balance can stimulate more core muscles than if you did the exact same exercise in a stable position. In turn, having a strong core improves your overall balance and stability, which is a benefit you will feel outside the gym as well. Planks, sit ups, and fitness ball exercises are all easy examples of how you can give your core a little love. Did we mention that having a strong core can lead to rock hard abs and make physical activities easier in general?

    5. Mix it up with high intensity
    For all you busy gals out there—aka all of us—it’s time to speed up your workout a bit. No need to cut corners though—high-intensity exercises are harder to do, but are done for a shorter amount of time than similar workout methods. If you’re short on time but are willing to give it your all, you might just be able to wrap up your workout early.

    Source: The Rustic Foodie

    6. Head outdoors
    Let’s give a shout out to the journal of Environmental Science and Technology for pointing out that heading outside for a workout can lead to the exerciser feeling more energetic than it does to those who work indoors. Next time you need to blow off some steam, blow it off outside.

    7. Enjoy a cup of joe
    Last, but not least, this may just be our favorite finding. If you’ve been looking for a justification for that second—OK third—cup of coffee, then incentivize yourself with a nice pre-workout caffeine buzz. As you know, caffeine boosts your energy, and it turns out caffeine is as helpful during a workout as when you’re about to fall asleep during that 3pm meeting. A study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that drinking a cup of coffee before a workout can improve performance and energy expenditure. If you really need help in the motivation department, a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that simply drinking a cup of coffee pre-workout can actually make your workout feel more enjoyable. Bottoms up! More

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    These Free, 10-Minute Workouts Are Perfect for Days When You’re Short on Time

    “Petting as many dogs as humanely possible” is one of my most significant life goals.I’ve never met a dog that I didn’t like. I am the CEO of stopping on the Chicago Lakefront mid-run to pet all of the good doggos that proudly and happily trot past me. While I’m not in a place to own a dog of my own, this small fact does not stop me from getting my canine fix any time the opportunity presents itself.
    It has become very important for me to streamline my life to allow for as much time to provide belly rubs and compliments to dogs as possible. It is crucial to me that no matter what I accomplish in life, I never lose sight of prioritizing activities that I love most. Maybe for you, that joy comes from cooking, hanging out with family/friends, reading, watching Netflix, pouring a large glass of wine, or journaling. Regardless of what gets your heart pumping, I think we can all agree that making more time for the things we love is a good thing.
    So on days where I’m slammed with work, drowning in laundry, or itching to prioritize the petting of the dogs, I simply don’t have time to head to my gym and spend an hour on the treadmill (note: I have never actually spent one whole hour on a treadmill). I have always been a firm believer that quality is better than quantity (in this case, quantity being the amount of time spent working out) and have found that doing an effective, 10-minute workout is better than doing nothing at all. On the days where you don’t have time or are just looking for a quick way to move, these 13 free 10-minute workouts will have your back:

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    What are your favorite ways to workout at home? Let us know in the comments below! More

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    25 Pieces of Breathable Workout Gear Because We Can’t With This Heat

    Whether you’re generally an outdoor workout person or not, the past few months have probably forced you to be one. Gone are the days of freezing-cold gyms and cool towels being placed on our foreheads by a yoga instructor after a brutal yoga class—these days, our exercise options are limited, and usually, that means taking them outside.Lately in Chicago, it’s been 90-something degrees every day (with a typically high dose of humidity), which means we’re sweating through everything on our bodies quicker than we can complain about it being hot out. Thick leggings and workout tanks are no longer an option—we want our workouts to be as enjoyable as possible, and that means wearing lightweight, breathable clothes.
    Ditch the days of finishing your workout with dripping wet clothes stuck to your body—these pieces are made for the heat.

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