1. GET FIT WITHOUT WASTING TIME AT THE GYM
“The most inefficient use of time is to just get on a piece of cardio equipment such as a treadmill and do a steady-state workout for half an hour,” says Jennifer Stretch, a certified personal trainer and owner of Fit Personal Training in Toronto. “Sure, you’re burning calories, but your body easily adapts to that type of regular routine.” Circuit or interval training is far more effective. For instance, you could do a multi-muscle exercise such as squats, then run around the block, add a set of pushups to the mix and follow it up with skipping rope. Rest for 20 seconds after the combo, then repeat. “After doing this for 10 minutes,” says Stretch, “your heart rate will be really elevated, and the calories burned will be maximal.” Depending on your fitness level and goals, she says, training with intervals can shrink your gym commitment to 15 minutes a day, three times a week, as long as you max out those sessions with intense effort.
2. BEAT JET LAG
Here’s how to minimize the pain of plane exhaustion: 1. Start adjusting in advance. Go to bed earlier or later than usual, according to your destination time. On the flight, nix any caffeine or alcohol. 2. Plan to land in the early evening and stay up until 10 p.m. Resist the urge to nap, but if you must, limit yourself to less than two hours. In the morning, get some sun to reset your clock to local time. 3. Try a mini-fast. A recent Harvard Medical School study found the brain has not one but two clocks—and the second is regulated by food. Professor of neurology Clifford Saper, the study’s senior author, concluded that “a period of fasting with no food at all for about 16 hours is enough to engage this new clock” and help you adapt to a new time zone more quickly.
3. SURVIVE THE PARTY SEASON (AND SKIP THE HANGOVER)
Before stepping foot into the open-bar danger zone, eat something with a mix of dense carbs, protein and fat (such as a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with a little mayo), advises San Diego–based registered dietitian Ilona Fordham. “Food slows down the rate at which alcohol enters the bloodstream,” she explains. “Fat and protein are digested the slowest, so those elements are key.” Skip the sugary cosmos and sip a vodka (or gin) and tonic, which is less likely to give you a hangover since it contains fewer congeners (chemicals made in the fermentation process). Fordham also advises replenishing lost nutrients at the night’s end. “As the body metabolizes alcohol, some vitamins are used up in the process,” she says. “Taking vitamins C and B6 can help prevent the horrible feelings of a hangover. Drink a glass of orange juice, pop a multivitamin and have a bowl of cereal before bed.”
4. EAT WELL ON THE GO
Even if you’re calorie-conscious, it’s best to have three balanced meals and two healthy snacks a day, says celebrity personal trainer Harley Pasternak, who has worked with Lady Gaga, Jessica Simpson and Alicia Keys. “The benefits of grazing over gorging include stabilizing your blood sugar and appetite, energy swings and insulin levels,” he explains. Skipping breakfast can cause you to crave high-calorie fare later on, so start the morning with an energy-boosting meal containing both carbs and protein. “Carbohydrates are the best fuel for your body and your brain, while protein helps slow the absorption of carbohydrates and helps you feel full,” explains Toronto-based registered dietitian Sue Mah, owner of the consulting firm Nutrition Solutions. “So spread some peanut butter on your muffin, or have a scrambled egg with a slice of whole wheat toast. Even some low-fat cheese with a few whole-grain crackers will do the trick.”
5. MAKE A MINOR CHANGE FOR MAJOR PAYOFF
The average Canadian gets more than double the amount of sodium daily deemed adequate (1,500 milligrams for people ages 9–50). By cutting sodium intake in half, one million cases of high blood pressure in the country would be eliminated, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. In other words, be careful not to consume too many prepackaged and processed foods, such as canned soups, where excess sodium often lurks.
“The Busy Girl’s Guide To Good Health” has been edited for FLARE.com; the complete story appears in the January 2010 issue of FLARE.