10 Tips to Get the Best Sleep Ever (by Sarah Stevenson)

In the midst of the holiday craziness, er, I mean, season; here’s some help to get enough rest to recover.  Sleep is vital to your success so let’s turn off the tv’s, computers and any other electronic devices and get some zzzz’s….

10 Tips to Get the Best Sleep Ever

By Sarah Stevenson

When is the last time you had a good night’s sleep? Most of us have a million things to do every day and to get them all done, something’s got to give. So why not skimp on downtime? After all, there’s nothing wrong with shortening your snooze when you’re on the go, right?

Woman Sleeping

Think again. According to a new study in the journal Science Transitional Medicine, adults who limit sleep to roughly 5 hours a night greatly increase their risk of obesity and diabetes(1). And for those of you trying to blast P90X® or INSANITY®, even more downtime might be in order. A recent study from Stanford University’s Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory reported that athletes heighten their performance levels after a solid 10 hours in bed(2).

But before you stop reading and head for the sheets, keep in mind that 6 to 8 hours of good rest should be enough for most of us. Unfortunately, even if you’re sleeping enough, it’s likely, given the pace of modern society, that you’re not sleeping particularly well, so let’s take a look at your sleeping habits and conditions. With a few small changes, you could dramatically improve your quality of life.

  1. Man ExercisingExercise. Exercise won’t just help you get fit, it’ll help you sleep better. When you exercise, you increase your internal body temperature. According to Professor Jim Horne, who runs the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University, the post-workout cooling down process makes you sleepier, given that right before sleep, your body expels heat to help you shut down. Interestingly, exercising outside in the cold isn’t as beneficial because it’s a zero-sum gain, heat-wise(3).
  2. Quiet the Noise. If you live only a thin wall away from neighbors (or a partner who snores!), excess noise is keeping you from getting quality rest. A pair of $3 drug store earplugs can eliminate outside and inside noise and help you feel more rested in the morning.
  3. Get Great Lighting. According to Dr. Phyllis C. Zee, associate director at the Center for Sleep & Circadian Biology, Northwestern University School of Medicine, light has an enormous effect on circadian rhythms—your body’s daily physiological clock(4). Too much exposure to light before bed can keep your body from entering a restful state and may prevent you from remaining asleep for long enough. Keep lights dim at night and don’t sleep with the light on. You may even consider wearing an eye mask as one Chinese study found that earplugs and eye masks worn during sleep increases the levels of melatonin produced in the body(5). Or, you could invest in blackout curtains. These curtains are specifically designed to reduce noise by up to 40%, block out 99% of light, and help you save up to 25% on home heating and cooling costs.
  4. Woman Taking a BathTake a Bath. As is also the case with exercise, once you leave the bath your internal temperature cools down, giving your body the hint that it’s time to catch some ZZZs. Furthermore, hot water relieves tension and the pressure that gravity places on the joints and muscles.
  5. Ban the Electronics. You may love watching Netflix® in your boxers, but according to The National Sleep Foundation, electronics are a no-go in the bedroom. Just like overhead lighting, the glow of your iPad®, laptop, or the TV messes with your circadian rhythms. Your best bet is to teach your brain to associate your bed with sleep . . . and maybe sex, but that’s a topic for a different article.
  6. Time Your Caffeine. Caffeinated beverages can hinder sleep for up to 6 hours after you drink them(6). On the other hand, foods containing the amino acid tryptophan increase your serotonin levels and serve as a natural sedative(7). Foods high in tryptophan include red meat, dairy, nuts, seeds, legumes, soybeans, tuna, shellfish, and turkey. So gobble them up if you want to get totally “trypt” out.
  7. Man Drinking MilkHave a Drink. Try this ancient ayurvedic recipe: warm milk, a pinch of cinnamon, and a pinch of cardamom(8). Milk contains tryptophan, which, as stated earlier in this article, is a great sleep aid. This is why so many folk remedies include warm milk. Try it out, you will feel like a sleep bug snug in a rug.
  8. Set a Bedtime. Researchers from Minnesota’s University of St. Thomas conducted a study on college students with inconsistent weekend sleeping habits(9). Subjects who pulled all-nighters on Saturday or Sunday found it difficult to sleep the rest of the week. Your brain needs consistency. You create patterns of sleep just like you acquire all of your good and bad habits. In fact, a consistent bedtime can help you train your brain to be its own alarm clock.
  9. Fall for Soft Rock. Save Megadeth for getting ready in the morning and spin Mumford & Sons at night instead. The calmer music, the better. Researchers from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing in Cleveland, Ohio, conducted a study on older individuals listening to soft, calm music before bed and found that it significantly improved their quality of sleep(10).
  10. AromatherapyUse aromatherapy. Herbs like lavender, chamomile, bergamot, and sandalwood have been used for centuries to calm the central nervous system, bring on a sense of relaxation, and help to induce sleep(11). Place scented candles in your bedroom, ask your partner to massage you with lavender oil before bed, or take a warm bath with any of these herbs at night to put yourself in the mood for sleep.

Resources:

  1. American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2012, July 1). Sleep deprivation effect on the immune system mirrors physical stress. ScienceDaily.
  2. The Effects of Sleep Extension on the Athletic Performance of Collegiate Basketball Players. Cheri D. Mah, Kenneth E. Mah, Eric J. Kezirian, William C. Dement Sleep. 2011 July 1; 34(7): 943–950
  3. Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University: http://www.lboro.ac.uk
  4. Phyllis C. Zee, Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders ACCP Sleep Med Brd Rev 2009 4:63-76 Lee IS, Lee GJ.
  5. Effects of earplugs and eye masks on nocturnal sleep, melatonin and cortisol in a simulated intensive care unit environment. Rong-fang Hu, Xiao-ying Jiang, Yi-ming Zeng, Xiao-yang Chen, You-hua Zhang, Critical Care. 2010 14:R66.
  6. Sleep homeostasis: a role for adenosine in humans? Landolt HP. Biochem Pharmacol. 2008 Jun 1; 75(11): 2070-9. Epub 2008 Mar 4
  7. Simon N. Young, Marco Leyton. The role of serotonin in human mood and social interaction: Insight from altered tryptophan levels. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, Volume 71, Issue 4, April 2002, Pages 857–865
  8. Chopra, Ananda S. (2003). “Ayurveda”. In Selin, Helaine. Medicine Across Cultures: History and Practice of medicine in Non-Western Cultures. Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Pp. 75-83. ISBN 1-4020-1166-0
  9. Sleep Patterns and Predictors of Disturbed Sleep in a Large Population of College Students. Hannah G. Lund, Brian D. Reider, Annie B. Whiting, J. Roxanne Prichard Journal of Adolescent Health February 2010 (Vol. 46, Issue 2, Pages 124-132)
  10. Lai, H.-L. and Good, M. (2005), Music improves sleep quality in older adults. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 49: 234–244.
  11. A single-blinded, randomized pilot study evaluating the aroma of Lavandula augustifolia as a treatment for mild insomnia. Lewith GT, Godfrey AD, Prescott P. J Altern Complement Med. 2005 Aug; 11(4):631-7.

Confessions of a Junk Food Junkie: 6 Tricks to Kick the Habit (By Denis Faye

This is a great article I read regarding junk foods and how to have more control over the ones that can wreak havoc on your goals.  I thought this was a great read and decided to share with you….

True story: I was a fat kid, peaking at about 225 pounds by age 18. In my more socially awkward moments—and there were many—junk food was my best friend. Or so I thought. When my algebra class crush would gave me the “just friends” speech or a so-called buddy would jokingly call me “Fatso,” nothing said acceptance like a pint of Rocky Road and half a package of Nutter Butters.

Junk food vs. healthy heart food

Today, I weigh about 160 and I’d love to tell you those urges are behind me. Sadly, they’re not. On bad days, it takes a concerted effort not to pig out. My name is Denis Faye and I am a junk food junkie.

Given our nation’s exploding obesity and diabetes rates, you very well could be too. The good news is that with a few tricks and a little hard work, together we can keep those sugar monkeys on our backs under control.

Why we’re hooked on garbage

NachosIt’s safe to say that junk food addiction is a very real thing. The first place to look for proof is the ever-mounting pile of scientific evidence, including a recent study out of Sweden showing that the hormone ghrelin, which activates the brain’s reward system and increases appetite, reacts similarly to sugar and alcohol.

Then there are the increasingly decadent foods we have 24-hour access to. In his book The End of Overeating, Dr. David Kessler theorizes that manufacturers have, over the years, engineered the balance of fat, sugar, and salt in junk food to the point of making it irresistible. He refers to our gluttonous response to this crackified food as “conditioned hypereating.”

Most of this current thinking revolves around physiological factors, such as the fact our brains are hardwired to seek out highly caloric foods as a “feast or famine” instinct left over from caveman days. Unfortunately, human beings are slightly more complex than our primitive ancestors. By adulthood, most of us are a hodgepodge of neuroses and psychoses for whom a Twinkie has become a security blanket, so this urge to splurge will never completely vanish. Sure, you can retrain your body to crave healthy food, but your psyche may never stop seeking validation, Hostess® style.

How to keep that addiction under control

DonutLuckily, a well-trained body goes a long way towards helping a slightly off-kilter mind. For example, if I were to force down that half package of Nutter Butters®, I’d get physically sick. After years of clean eating, my digestive system has lost its ability to handle the toxic effects of a sugar hit like that, not to mention the preservatives and additives. Thanks in part to these newfound “limitations,” today I can walk away from the cake or limit myself to one or two bites—but that’s taken years of training.

But it wasn’t easy. If you’re going to break a sugar habit, it’s going to take time, patience, and willpower. But take it from a guy who used to work his way through an entire box of Cap’n Crunch® for breakfast: If I can do it, so can you. Here’s where to start.

    1. Clean all the junk food out of your home. Think of the stereotypical image of the woman getting dumped by her boyfriend and climbing into bed with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s®. If that tub wasn’t in the freezer to begin with, odds are that our protagonist would have instead settled for a soak in the tub.There’s also “unconscious eating” to worry about—when you just grab a bag of fried carbs while you’re sitting in front of the tube and stuff your face for no reason. If you don’t have access to the junk, the only bag you’ll be able to grab for will be filled with baby carrots. If someone brings some junk over for a dinner party, enjoy it with them and dump the rest when they leave.
    2. CookiesMake 80% clean. Relax with that other 20%. Just because your kitchen cupboard no longer looks like a movie theater concession stand doesn’t mean you can’t live it up sometimes. If most of your diet is super tight, you’re doing great, so cut yourself some slack. When I made my first big push to clean up my diet, Friday was Cookie Day. I ate like a saint 6 days a week, but every Friday I had a giant chocolate chip cookie and a latte.Knowing I had Cookie Day to look forward to made all the celery on the other days much more palatable.
    3. Make a comforting ritual out of eating healthy. The fact that Cookie Day was a ritual was also quite helpful. Unhealthy eating is often ritualistic—something comfortable and constant that you can depend on. Not only can you have your own Cookie Day—a conscious, controlled, weekly moment of indulgence—but you can replace unhealthy rituals with healthy ones.For example, I used to drink at least two servings of alcohol a night. I’d have wine or beer with dinner and then another one when I was sitting around reading or watching TV. When I realized that second drink wasn’t doing me any favors, I replaced it with a cup of herbal tea. The 21-days-to-form-a-habit thing has no scientific backing, but eventually a behavior pattern will set in. In my case, after three weeks I stopped missing that second beer. Then, after a few more weeks I really started craving the calming, peaceful feeling my cup o’ chamomile gave me. Now it’s a nightly ritual.
    4. Almonds and Nutrition BarCarry healthy foods with you at all times. If you carry a purse or a backpack, throw an apple or some raw nuts in there. In this Fast Food Nation, it’s pretty easy to find yourself in situations where you’re hungry and, shucks, you just have no choice but to buy a donut because that’s the only thing you have access to.You don’t have that excuse if there’s a snack in your pack. Here are a few to consider:
      • Fresh fruit (Apples and oranges travel well!)
      • Dried fruit (It all travels well!)
      • Raw nuts
      • Whole-grain crackers
      • A Shakeology® packet
  1. Discover new, yummy fruits and veggies. There’s a lot of weird, healthy food out there. Sometimes, we avoid fresh produce because either we’re either bored of the same old oranges or there’s a stigma associated with particular produce. Dad just forced you to eat asparagus one too many times. If this is a problem for you, buy fruits and veggies you don’t recognize. If you don’t know how to prepare it, do an internet search for “(produce name) + recipe.” You might stumble on a new flavor that completely blows your mind.For me, that magic fruit was the cherimoya, or “custard apple.” They’re green and scaly on the outside, thick, white, and creamy on the inside, with a rich taste as sweet and satisfying as the richest sorbet. My mouth is watering just writing about them.
  2. Fresh FruitBinge on healthy foods. I’m probably the only person who will ever give you this advice since it’s a wee bit questionable. Every once in the while, something emotional triggers me and I need to eat junk. Someday I might completely conquer this urge, but not yet. When I feel this happening, I hit the fridge and “pre-binge” on healthy foods, mainly raw veggies. Sooner or later, the ice cream or chips come out, but by that point, I’m so full of broccoli or spinach that I’m not physically capable of doing too much damage. Dysfunctional? Maybe, but a vast improvement over the alternative.

You might be one of those lucky souls who just decided to walk away from the candy counter and never looked back. Good for you. I’m not one of those people. Eating right is much easier than it was 20 years ago, but it’s still a process. That said, the rewards are innumerable, so why don’t you set down the pudding pop, grab a peach, and join me?Resources:

  1. Kessler, D. (2009). The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite. New York, NY. Rodale.
  2. Lally, P., Van Jaarsveld, C., Potts, H., & Wardle, J. (2010). How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world.European Journal of Social Psychology, 1009 (June 2009), 998-1009. JOHN WILEY & SONS LTD.
  3. 3. Landgren, S., Simms, J. A., Thelle, D. S., Strandhagen, E., Bartlett, S. E., Engel, J. A., & Jerlhag, E. (2011). The Ghrelin Signalling System Is Involved in the Consumption of Sweets. (M. Mattson, Ed.) PLoS ONE, 6(3), 9.

SHAKEOLOGY 3 DAY CLEANSE


 

 

 

 

Have you “overdone” it this past Thanksgiving?  Are you concerned you are on course to repeat this pattern for the rest of the year?  Well, I’m here to suggest you do something DIFFERENT.

Since the definition for “insanity” is;

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Shouldn’t you CHANGE what you usually do for different results?

I know; pretty wise, coming from me today!  haha

But seriously; I hear too often that we are working hard on our bodies through our challenging workouts and eating “clean” and finding the best balance for our bodies, but still not happy with the results as of yet.

I’m here to offer you a simple and healthy way to kickstart your success;

Shakeology Cleanse

Recently, many people have been seeing excellent results with the Shakeology cleanse.

Shakeology is a complete meal replacement shake that was designed to be used once a day. For the Beachbody Shakeology cleanse however, it will be taken 3 times a day for 3 days.

The goal with Shakeology cleansing is to flush all of the junk from your system and regulate hydration levels. While this cleanse definitely restricts you when it comes to calories, you shouldn’t experience any negative side effects as you’ll be getting all the right nutrients in those calories. A person eating an average American diet would have to eat twice as many calories to consume the nutrients you’ll receive while on the Shakeology detox program. It’s the perfect program for anyone who wants a 3 day jump start to looking and feeling better.

The Shakeology Cleanse is different than your traditional master cleanse, and it’s much easier to stick to than a traditional “master” cleanse. Cleanses can be extremely beneficial to your overall health, but in some cases the extreme versions can do more harm than good. The restriction that comes with a these cleanses don’t exist with the Shakeology Cleanse.

How does it work? 

Simply put, it consists of 3 shakes, plus a small meal. The shakes on the cleanse are rich in nutrients allowing the body to continue functioning at a normal rate. The salad that you can have in the evening as your solid meal can contain fruits, nuts, and seeds, legumes, and veggies along with four ounces or less of a white protein. The Shakeology Cleanse focus intensely on keeping the body satisfied and happy.

During the three day Shakeology Cleanse participants are expected to have a shake for breakfast, lunch and with dinner as well. They are also expected to drink 2 cups of green tea, as well as lots of water. In addition dairy, and sweeteners must be avoided.

The Shakeology Cleanse focuses on ridding the body of harmful toxins without going to extremes with the limitations of food. In other types of cleanses, the participant must avoid most food and restrict calories to a dangerously low number. The Shakeology Cleanse does not suggest or endorse such dangerous practices. Because of it’s nutrient rich formula it is suggested that participants can continue to work out during the Shakeology Cleanse. That is not true for other body cleanses.

The Shakeology Cleanse is not marketed or recommended for longer than the three day course. The Shakeology Cleanse can be repeated every 3 months, or once per season. It can also be used as a way of breaking a weight loss plateau or to help cleanse the body before a new workout regime.

 

Who Should Do The Shakeology Cleanse?

The Shakeology cleanse if really for anyone looking to ensure their body is running as efficiently as possible, for people looking lose a few pounds, and/or  for people who just want to feel more energized. There isn’t a right or wrong reason on why you should do the Shakeology cleanse. The reason for doing it is different for everyone. Here are a few very common reasons for doing the Shakeology cleanse-

 

  • To flush out the junk from your system.
  • After a vacation or a weekend of partying.
  • To help jump start your fitness journey.
  • If you are a Bride preparing for the big day.
  • Anyone who feels bloated, lethargic etc.
  • Anyone who wants to lose some extra weight.
  • and as I mentioned above; to get rid of that “bloated” holiday season eating!
  • etc….

 

The most important thing that you remember before starting this program  is that you make a commitment to stick with it no matter what and to follow the program exactly. If you deviate from it, then your guess is as good as mine if you will see results or not.

A Shakeology 3-Day Cleanse will leave your body feeling energized and healthy.

You will be ready to take on any new challenge ahead.

Are you ready to get started?

 

 

 

Fabulously Domestic

Want to lose weight? READ LABELS! It’s not rocket-science, people. If you’re eating foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce, additives that you can’t picture in their natural state, or processed foods with longer ingredient lists than Santa’s naughty/nice roster, any weight loss will be temporary (if at all!).

Lasting weight loss comes from making lasting lifestyle changes — not just counting calories!

For the sixth and final week of Domestica’s Fitness Train Challenge (Season 3), we are focusing on three new nutritional guidelines from Michael Pollan’s book, Food Rules. All of Pollan’s Rules will help you re-program your thinking on what constitutes “healthy” food and that is why I chose to use his book as the basis of Season 3 of the Fitness Train.

Chances are, you’re being duped into thinking that low-fat products are healthy (they’re not!), that diet foods are what you eat when you want to…

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10 Weeks and What’s Slowing Me Down?

Here I am; just under 10 weeks to running my very first marathon!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out the cool surfboard medal I will be receiving!! Yes, mindset is powerful!! I have been learning to “see” myself already earning my rewards for upcoming challenges can help solidify them into the reality!!

 

One recent issue that I have been dealing with (along with the drain and strain of longer runs and faster training) is a feeling of extreme fatigue when I’m not running and the heaviness and sluggishness from my longer runs.

I was baffled as to what the cause was.  I was eating right; training right; resting and stretching enough and taking my meal replacement (Shakeology) every single day.

The negative thoughts kept creeping in: “I’m getting too old for this.”  “I’ll never be able to finish this marathon.” “I’ll let myself and others, down.” and so it goes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Was this going to help me?  Of course not!!

 

 

 

 

So, I set out to inspire a plan and started to read up on the subject of running.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turns out that my symptoms screamed “iron deficiency”!!!  This is not news to me; as I’ve always been told from doctor’s visits in the past, that I was slightly anemic.  Back to the iron pills to help solve the problem.

I look forward to running with more energy and less fatigue and being able to recover faster too!!  Happy Healthy!!!

 

 

15 Ways to Get Fit on a Budget

15 Ways to Get Fit on a Budget
By Kara Wahlgren

Plate of Money with Bread and a List with Dollar Bills
New sneakers, high-end equipment, private classes—in your quest to drop a few pounds, you may find your wallet getting thinner, too. But it is possible to get in shape without going broke. Here are a few get-fit tips that can get you results without costing you a fortune.
DO A WORKOUT DVD—#PUSH PLAY—PUSH YOURSELF TO START—Beachbody, LLC.If you can’t splurge on classes . . . DO A WORKOUT DVD. You can get a solid workout in your own living room for the price of a private yoga lesson or a few dance classes. (And, ahem, we know where you can find a few good DVDs.) The trick is to stay motivated when your comfy couch is beckoning from a few feet away. These tricks can help:

  1. Treat your workout time like an actual class. “Schedule time in your day to work out, and stick with it,” says JJ Virgin, a Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Health and Fitness Instructor.
  2. Even if you don’t feel like pushing yourself to the limit, at least push yourself to start. “Back in the day, Beachbody’s motto was ‘just Push Play,'” says Steve Edwards, Head of Fitness and Nutrition Development at Beachbody®. “Once you’re actually doing the workout, most people figure they might as well put some effort into it.”
  3. Invite a friend. “A workout buddy provides accountability and makes it more fun and interesting,” Virgin says.

Man Hiking up the MountainIf you can’t splurge on a trainer . . . HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE. Personal trainers provide structure and accountability to your fitness regimen. But if it’s out of your budget, here’s how you can reap the same benefits on your own:

  1. Join an online community. One recent study found that women who worked out with a virtual exercise partner exercised for twice as long as their solo counterparts[1]. The Team Beachbody®Message Boards are a great place to find motivation from fellow fitness buffs.
  2. Get high-tech help from goal-tracking apps and websites that allow you to monitor your progress. Team Beachbody’s SuperGym® is an online health club where you can plan and track workouts, find a fitness buddy, and get advice and motivational tools.
  3. Take a picture. “The motivational power of ‘before’ photos is massive, because you’re going to improve,” Edwards says.
    “Even when you don’t feel your training is going well, you can look at where you once were and it almost always gets you moving.”

Man running up stairsIf you can’t splurge on a gym membership . . . HIT THE PAVEMENT. Think of the great outdoors as an enormous, free cardio room. Here are a few ways to get your heart pumping—no equipment necessary.

  1. To torch fat, do outdoor intervals.”Run up a hill or stairs at top speed for up to a minute, then walk back down at your normal pace to catch your breath and recover,” Virgin suggests.
  2. Check a map. Your local geography might offer a unique workout opportunity—are there mountains to climb, oceans to swim, or a stadium for stair running?
  3. Go back to the DVD rack. One more benefit of workout videos: Many of them don’t require special equipment. “Some, like INSANITY®, use no equipment in the entire program,” Edwards says. “Yoga is another great workout that needs no equipment, but still offers many options.”

INSANITY®If you can’t splurge on fitness equipment . . . GET CREATIVE. You don’t need to invest in a full set of dumbbells or a weight bench to do resistance training. Here’s how to build muscle on the cheap.

  1. Turn everyday household items into makeshift equipment—canned soup cans double as light weights, furniture can add instability, and a milk crate can work as a step. The Message Boards are the perfect place to find DIY ideas.
  2. If you buy a pair of weights, go heavy. “Get the heaviest set of dumbbells you can lift in good form,” Virgin says. “You can do a lot with that basic equipment.”
  3. Buy bands. “Exercise bands are cheap, light, and take up almost no space in your house,” Edwards says. “All of our weight training workouts provide options to use bands—we do this to eliminate excuses.” Plus, they’re ideal if you want to stick to your workouts while traveling.

Fruit and VegetablesIf you can’t splurge on a nutritionist . . . LEARN TO SHOP SMART. With a little pre-planning, you can eat well without racking up a huge grocery bill. Here’s how to find nutritious foods that won’t blow your budget.

  1. Stick to the basics. “Shop seasonal produce, lean meats, and other foods on the periphery of your grocery store,” Virgin says. The center aisles are usually where packaged and processed foods are kept. Watch for sales on meat, and buy nuts or beans in bulk.
  2. Get informed. “Nutritionists worth their salt tend to write books. Read those,” says Denis Faye, Team Beachbody’s nutrition expert. Michael Pollan’s Food Rules is a good place to start.
  3. Plan your meals ahead of time so you’re not winging it when you hit the aisles. Look for apps that help you plan meals and track deals. “Make a list and stick to it—don’t be swayed by unhealthy sale foods,” Virgin says. And to prevent impulse purchases, she adds, “Don’t go to the grocery store hungry.”

How to Build the Ultimate Home Gym in 3 Easy Steps

How to Build the Ultimate Home Gym in 3 Easy Steps

Elena Sessa and Rebecca Swanner

One of the biggest benefits of the Beachbody® programs is they allow you to do your workout wherever! That said, shoving your coffee table off to the side and dealing with your teenager because your plyometrics workout caused her to miss Cupcake Wars can get a little old quickly. By creating a personal workout space in your house, you not only sidestep these issues, but you’ll be more motivated to do your daily workout. And that consistency—in both your diet and your fitness—will get you the results that you desire.
Beachbody® Decide. Commit. Succeed. ®
In this guide, we walk you through how to build a home gym to fit your needs. Of course, you don’t need all this gear for every workout you do, but with a fully stocked gym, you’ll be ready to Push Play with any workout that catches your fancy.

Step 1: Pick a room.

Ideally, you should set up your workout space in an area of your home that isn’t high-traffic. This eliminates excuses. For instance, if you set up your home gym in the den, your workout time may conflict with when others want to watch TV—a battle you’re likely to lose. While you can try to encourage them to join you, make it easier on everyone by finding a space where you can do your workout when it’s most convenient for you. That said, we understand that’s not always possible, so you may need to schedule your workouts when you’re least likely to be interrupted.

Here’s what to look for when selecting your workout room:

  1. Push-ups With Tony Horton's PowerStands®Do you have enough space to move around? If you’re doing Beachbody workout programs, you won’t be using a treadmill or stationary bike. You’ll be moving around. Ideally, your workout area should be 15′ by 15′ so you can leap, jump, and lunge without running into the furniture. Beachbody tries to follow a “two steps in either direction” rule when creating workouts. However, since those “steps” are often more like “leaps,” more room to move will likely net greater results and less bruises.
  2. How high are the ceilings? Are they high enough so you can jump without hitting your head? When doing jumping jacks or plyometric workouts, you want to get results, not a hole in your ceiling and/or a trip to the emergency room.
  3. Yoga Monster MatsHow sturdy are the objects in the room? When you jump, are you likely to knock anything over? This includes lamps, fragile knickknacks, vases . . . let’s not go on. Planning ahead will not only save your stuff but help your workout because you won’t be worried about what you might hit during P90X’s Airborne Heismans.
  4. Where can you put your equipment? Ideally, you want to pick somewhere where you can leave your equipment—weights, yoga mat, agility ladder, push-up bars, foam rollers, etc.—out so it’s easy to access. Alternatively, pick a room where you can store your equipment easily either against the wall or in a large trunk or chest.
  5. What’s underneath the room? If you live alone in a freestanding dwelling or you want to work out in the basement, don’t worry about this. Otherwise, be mindful of your downstairs neighbors or the others who live in your home and pick a room that isn’t located above their bedroom. Here’s a tip: if you let your downstairs neighbors know your intentions and work with them to set an ideal workout time, you’ll save yourself an angry call from your landlord.
  6. Is it well-ventilated? When you’re working out, you want to be able to stay hydrated. You can accomplish this partially by drinking water during your workout, but also by making sure your workout space is well-ventilated. Open the windows and get a big box fan to keep you cool while you’re sweating up a storm.

Step 2: Get good flooring.

Having the proper flooring in your workout space can make the difference between sore knees and a happy, healthy you. If you’re going to be jumping or doing exercises that may cause you to slip, put down a few locking rubber mats with rug runners beneath them so that they don’t slide. The padding will make the surface softer to land on and you shouldn’t go flying. If you are looking for a little extra padding for a jumping-intensive program like TurboFire®, consider a Beachbody Plyometric Mat. It’s thicker and denser than a yoga mat and will help save your joints. If you plan to mostly be stretching and doing less-intense activities, you should be OK with just using a yoga mat for padding.

If you can, stay away from working out on top of plush carpet. Even if you lay a mat on top of it, the surface isn’t stable and you can sink . . . which might lead to a sprained ankle or tweaked wrist.

Step 3: Invest in the right equipment.

The equipment you need is entirely dependent on what kind of workout you’re doing. While it might be tempting to go absolutely gear crazy, you don’t need to break the bank to start a solid home gym. Begin with a few, necessary basics and build your collection as you go. In addition to the aforementioned flooring, here are a few vital pieces of equipment.

Inspiring tunes and images. To stay pumped through your entire workout, set up an iPod® player in your workout space so you can listen to your favorite tunes. And, if you can transform one space in your home into a permanent home gym, consider hanging some inspiring photos—perhaps of the body you’re trying to achieve, places you want to travel to when you’re fit, or quotes that motivate you—on the walls.

Free weights or bands. When you’re working out, you’ll find that eating right and doing cardio workouts will help burn off the extra fat you’re carrying. But to create the muscle definition you desire, you’ll need strength training. Some strength training exercises—including push-ups, pull-ups, and crunches—use just your body weight, and those will help tone your muscles.

But to see serious results, you’ll need to use weights or bands for resistance. Especially if space is an issue, I recommend investing in a set of Beachbody’s B-LINES® Bands or a set of adjustable weights such as Bowflex® SelectTech®. Both are compact options and will allow you to increase the resistance as you get stronger. And if you’re traveling, bands are easy to throw in your bag so you can keep working out while on the road.

Pull-up/chin-up solutions. Want sexy biceps, shoulders, and back? Pull-ups and chin-ups will definitely help you get there. You can install a pull-up bar in any wall with the help of a stud finder, but if you’re looking for a less permanent solution, Beachbody offers a Chin-Up Bar that can be easily mounted onto almost any door frame and removed when you’re not working out. It’s designed in such a way so you can do pull-ups, chin-ups, wide pull-ups, corn cobs, and can support up to 300 pounds.

If you’re still looking for assistance when doing those pull-ups and chin-ups, instead of using a wobbly chair, consider a Chin-Up Max. Here’s how it works: You put your foot in the strap, adjust the resistance, and lift yourself as if you were doing a normal pull-up. As you get stronger, you can lower the resistance and, one-by-one, remove the 3 bands that help support you until you can eventually do them entirely unassisted.

B-LINES® Resistance BandsAll this said, chin-up bars can be bulky and difficult to place. If it’s just not going to happen in your place, invest in a good set of B-LINES Resistance Bands and an inexpensive B-LINE Upgrade Kit. This will allow you to do lat pull-downs (a pull-up substitute) using any closeable door.

Of course, you don’t need to limit your collection to just this gear. Have a look at the program you’re interested in taking on next for a complete list of the toys you’ll get to play with. Here’s just a small sampling:

Push-Up Stands can take the pressure off your wrists, prevent you from sliding during your push-ups, and will help improve your form so you can get better results without hurting your joints.

Barbells are an alternative to dumbbells that work well for heavy weights and compound lifts. They feature prominently in LES MILLS PUMP and Body Beast™.

Medicine Balls and Stability Balls. For strength and stability training, as well as aerobic work, there’s nothing like a good set of balls. You’ll find them in P90X2®, as well as Tony’s P90X ONE on ONE® series, Chalene’s workouts, and Yoga Booty Ballet®.

A workout bench. This one takes a lot of space, but it’s a great tool for getting the most out of your Body Beast workouts.

By investing in the right equipment, selecting the best room, and paying attention to the surface you’re working out on, you can create the ultimate workout space that makes working out a pleasure, not a chore!