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Get Those Gains

Hey y’all, this post is for those of you readers who want to work on some gains. Well, some of these tips come straight from a coworker and friend of mine who is absolutely crushing it in the health and fitness department, and I figured I’d share some of the tips that she gave to me.

Now, I’m not really focused on becoming a bodybuilder, but I do want to build up some muscle and get my arms especially a lot more toned than they are. I was chatting with my friend about this one day, and since she’s built up her body so much in the past few years and is super dedicated and focused on healthy eating and personal training, I figured I’d ask her for some tips and tricks, anything to really help me in this fitness goal, since I don’t have a lot of information on it.

Well guys, here are her suggestions on how to get those gains, at least a few pounds of muscle, and to really tone up and build.

  1. Do cardio for 30 minutes a day. You really don’t need much more than that, she’s not the only one saying this, there are many studies showing that if you do more than that, you’re not really doing much more for your body. So aim for 30 minutes a day or 150 minutes of moderate cardio each week. This is also good for cardiac health, which is key to survival 😉
  2. Do various exercises every other day, taking a rest day in-between. So for example, if you do arms one day, do a whole bunch of different exercises to work all of the muscles, not just the main ones. Same thing for legs, but if you do this, you’ll want to do around 3 sets, and 10-15 reps of each, so you’ll definitely need to take that rest day in between your workouts.
  3. Build it up slowly. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your muscles be. So take it slowly, and build up the weights slowly. If you’re like me and are working with dumbbells, rather than building up the weights, you’ll want to build up the sets. Just take your time, don’t move too fast because an injury will put you further behind.
  4. Use protein powder to help. Make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet, and an easy way to do this is with protein powder. Every morning I make a protein smoothie for after my workout, for several reasons. One, it helps keep me full throughout the day, and two, it helps my muscles repair themselves after each workout, which is very important.
  5. Listen to your body. This may be the most important one, if your body hurts or something doesn’t feel right, listen to your body. Take an extra day off, make sure that you’re not pushing yourself too much to where you’ll suffer an injury. I know from experience that pushing yourself too hard, only results in you falling further behind on your goals, so take it from me, if your body is saying no, listen to it.
  6. Eat well. This is also key to building up those muscles, eat healthy fruits, veggies, and lean meats, and don’t be afraid to have several meals in a day. As long as you’re eating healthy things, don’t feel guilty about snacking. Snacks are important when you’re trying to build up your gains, so make sure you have good snacks like an apple in peanut butter or hummus and pita chips. Even trail mix is a great option with the nuts and dried fruit.

I hope these tips help, and if you have any other suggestions, please leave them in the comments below!

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Witch Hazel for Astringent

Hey y’all have you ever taken a good look at what’s in some of your skin care? I hadn’t until a few years ago, and I was absolutely blown away by the amount of chemicals, including just “fragrance” which was in everything, including my face toner! Did you fragrance, in that form, not a natural fragrance like we may think of, has actually been linked to cancers? Yeah, definitely not something you want on your skin, even if it does help keep your face clean and clear. Luckily, I found something all natural, that does the same thing. Witch Hazel!

 

That’s right, I was able to cut out that chemical filled astringent out of my beauty routine with a simple replacement, that’s actually cheaper too. Talk about a win-win. I get to save money and stop putting chemicals on my face that are then absorbed through my skin. I can’t say how these companies are getting away with this, but I do know that you have to be very careful about what products you use. I would have never thought that something I use to help with acne would be chock-full of chemicals, including a bunch that are on the list of known carcinogens. I feel bad, I’ve been using these products since I was a teenager, so knowing that I just didn’t even check what I was putting on my face isn’t the best feeling. But such is life, and now I’m sharing what I found with you all.

 

You can get Witch Hazel at any store, just a generic brand works fine, I really don’t think there is a difference. And it’s not just me that says to use this stuff, Zendaya has mentioned it in interviews for how she keeps her skin clear too!

Protect Your Skin

It’s summertime and we all know that means working out in the summer sun, laying on the beach or at the pool working on our tans or just getting more sun than usual, even on your lunch break. With that being said, it’s super important that you protect your skin during all seasons, but this one especially.

I got diagnosed with a form of skin cancer a couple of years ago, and had to have part of my skin near my fingernail removed. I can happily say they got it all, but I can not so happily say that my cuticle didn’t grow back quite right in that area, and I have to see my dermatologist every 6 months for a checkup at this point in perpetuity. Now, I have actually been pretty good about applying sunscreen before I go out to lay at the pool or at a day at the beach. But I wasn’t always, and I remember going out to the beach in high school and bragging that I didn’t burn, I just tanned and that I didn’t need sunscreen. Stupid, foolish high school me. Obviously, I’ve learned my lesson since then, and am working much harder at protecting my skin, but I see so many people still being really nonchalant about their skin health. Guys, I love the sun, but I also know it is super dangerous, so if protecting your skin isn’t your priority, hopefully these tips will help. Take it from me, having surgery to remove skin cancer, not fun.

  • Cover your skin if you can when the rays are severe. That’s right, in this summer sun, a baseball cap or floppy hat is your hairline and face’s best friend. You know what else is great? Those UV repellent clothing options are great too. So are lightweight long sleeves, they’ll help keep your skin safe.

Floppy Hat

  • Apply and reapply sunscreen. It’s not enough for you to apply it once and then be done with it for the rest of the day. You have to reapply, especially if you are sweating, which it’s summer, that usually comes with the season. This goes for your regular sunscreen as well as the sunscreen you put on your face each morning ladies. Reapply! You’ll thank me later.
  • Avoid the worst times of day. In the middle of the day is when the rays are the absolute worst, so if you can, avoid going outside at that time. I used to schedule my beach days in the mornings, and then we’d be done around lunch time, which was perfect to get a smoothie or a sub and get some much-needed air conditioning.
  • Wear sunscreen even if it’s cloudy. Did you know you can still get burned even in cloudy weather? The clouds don’t always block the sun’s harmful rays 100%, so make sure you apply that sunscreen even when it seems like you may not need it.
  • Wear sunglasses. These will help protect the skin around your eyes, not to mention let you see in the sun. Wear them, love them, just don’t forget to clean them.
  • Bring shade with you. There are these chairs that have little shades that pop up and if you like to frequent outdoor games or summer concerts, these are perfect for them, especially if you don’t have a covered seat! They’ll give you shade wherever you are, and are attached to the chair. I have a few of these myself, and they are fantastic.

Hopefully these tips will help you protect your skin and stay safe during this summer. The final piece of advice is to see a dermatologist. I promise, the visits are mostly painless, and it’s better to find something sooner rather than later. The longer you wait, the more likely it could turn into melanoma, and if it gets that far, you’ll have more than just some weird colored skin or a little section of it scraped off. Take care of yourself and your skin, and stay protected from the sun.

No Gym Gym

If you’ve made some resolutions and health goals, but unfortunately can’t find it in the budget for a gym membership, I have news for you. You don’t need one! You can achieve your health goals without having to pay for an expensive membership or the expensive equipment that some use to build their own home gyms. Check out my suggestions for a no gym gym, that uses things you already have or can get pretty cheaply.

  • Run outside. Fresh air is free, and with sunrise being earlier and sunset being later, there is no time like the present to get outside before or after work and taking a brisk walk or run. You can even alternate between the two. Just make sure you keep your heart rate elevated for 30 minutes each day to truly get the cardiac benefits.
  • Use chairs to help with stretching. As someone who did ballet, I had to practice even when I wasn’t in the dance studio taking my lessons. However, I never had a ballet bar installed in my house, which meant I had to get very creative. Even though I no longer do recitals or take lessons, though I may go back to it, I still remember some of the stretches and practices, and have found that using the back of a couch is a pretty close second to a ballet bar. A hard backed chair works as well, just make sure it is firm enough to support your ankle and not too high to where you are uncomfortable while stretching.
  • Utilize your swimming pool. This may be surprising to some, but your pool can be used for more than lust-worthy Instagram pictures. You can swim laps, as well as do different core workouts! And if you have a pool or a community pool, you can get a workout in for free.
  • Try free classes in the area. If you think you’d like to take a class in the future and have the money for it, try some out on a trial basis to find the right fit for you. You don’t want to get locked into a membership if you find out that you really hate yoga and can’t stand hearing the word “namaste.”
  • Get a cheap pair of dumbbells for your arms. That’s how I get my arm workouts in each day, I don’t have any fancy equipment, just two 5 pound dumbbells that help me keep my arms toned. I may not be able to up the weight, but I can change the different sets and reps and exercises that I do to get all the muscles worked out.
  • Use an exercise band. These are also really inexpensive, but can help a lot with stretching and even resistance training.

There are so many ways to have a no gym gym, and most of it is completely free. You just may have to think a little bit outside of the box, but it’ll definitely be worth it.

Walking

Most of us struggle to get the right amount of exercise each day, in some cases you have to get up super early before work to get a workout in or you wait until the evening and try to work it around everything else. No matter who you are or whether you have a gym membership or not, one exercise that you can do that is great for you is walking.

The studies have spoken, and walking is one of the best forms of exercise there is. If you don’t believe me, check out this study about walking groups: https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/49/11/710 Walking has been proven to help with weight loss, cardiac health, lower blood pressure, and decrease depression, while also giving you a boost creatively.

With all the different benefits, even 30 minutes of a brisk walk each night can make a huge difference for your health, and it’s easy enough to do. If you have time to binge several episodes of The Office on Netflix, you have time to fit in a walk.

Yoga

If you’re looking to improve your flexibility, calm your mind, and work on your core, there is one workout that does all of the above. Yoga! In college, I did rooftop yoga once a week on the roof of the gym at my school, and I absolutely loved it. Now, in the words of the yoga instructor, this was not “namaste yoga” this was “CORE yoga” and she was not kidding, it was a great workout, I felt relaxed, but I also felt it the next day, it was a serious workout. Of course, depending on what you prefer, you may choose a more relaxed yoga, a core yoga, or even hot yoga, though since I live in the South, unless it’s outside, I want my yoga air conditioned, but that’s just me.

No matter which you choose, there are plenty of benefits to it for both men and women. I slacked on it a bit after college, unfortunately finding a good yoga place here is difficult, so I started doing it myself at the house with the help of videos. No matter how you do it, you’ll notice the benefits. I always find myself more relaxed after a yoga session, and yes, it is a bit of a time commitment, but if you’ve always wondered and never tried it, I encourage you to do so. It’s definitely worth it.

 

Get a Massage

Hey y’all welcome to my section on wellness! With everything going on in our lives it is more important than ever to take care of ourselves, and an easy way to relax, unwind, and take care of yourself physically and mentally is by getting a massage.

Massages to me, are things that I budget out for once a month, as a part of my stress relief. I tend to hold tension in my shoulders, which can cause neck and shoulder pain, not to mention headaches, and is just generally bad for you. An easy way for me to fix this is with a 60 minute stress relief massage. It’s amazing, I get to just drift away into zen mode for an hour, and I always feel so much better afterwards. Maybe a little sore depending on how stressed I was that month, but you get the idea.

I’m big on saving money, and a lot of people ask why I make that a priority in my life since they can range anywhere from $30-$100 depending on where you go. I make sure to get a massage each month because I know that stress is dangerous for my health, and this is something that really helps it. To me, that makes it completely worth the cost.

Sometimes, we have to just splurge and spend money on ourselves, especially when it’s for the good of our health. Not only are massages good for stress relief, but they improve circulation as well, and obviously, we all need good circulation. I highly recommend if you’ve never had one before but have considered it that you go give it a try. I got hooked, and I’m sure you will too!

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