So much emphasis ends up on our actual workout. How many calories did you burn? How hard did you sweat? Are your muscles tired and fatigued? Based on the answers to these questions, we have some expectations as to the results we ‘should’ receive from our grueling exercise. How easily we forget that we need to recover from exercise to get those coveted results. Here are a few tips to help you get the payoffs from your time at the gym.
The human body is about 60% water and if that amount has been depleted due to sweating, your body won’t be able to repair the muscle tissue as effectively. And I really recommend water, not a sports drink. Those contain quite a bit of sugar, which won’t help rebuild toned muscles or denser bones. Add a few drops of fresh lemon, lime or grapefruit juice to your water for a little taste. My favorite is a few cucumbers slices!
The presence of protein and fat in your diet is a huge factor in your ability to grow muscle and bone tissue. Follow up your workout with a snack such as a hard boiled egg (protein), about 20 almonds (fat) and a small piece of fruit (you need some carbs to keep your energy up!). Also, be mindful about including protein and fat in all snacks and meals. Every time you eat is a chance to build a stronger, leaner, more beautiful body.
For the body to get serious about building new muscle and bone, we need to sleep. Laying on the couch half dozing in front of the TV doesn’t count! How much sleep are you currently getting? Six hours? Seven? The research is showing that the human body need 8-9 hours of sleep each night to fully replenish the body. I found this quote from Eve Van Cautes who did her research at the University of Chicago. She says ‘ Lack of sleep disrupts every physiologic function in the body. We have nothing in our biology that allows us to adapt to this behavior.’ Are you sleep deficient? Go to bed 5-10 minutes earlier than you usually do and keep this new bedtime until it’s easy to fall asleep. Then go to bed another 5-10 earlier and repeat until you are falling asleep easily. Keep doing this until you are getting those 8 precious hours.
Next time you find yourself planning your workouts, don’t forget to go beyond just carving the gym time. Think of the water bottle you are going to bring. What container will work for your snack? Does your snack need any prep time? And think of how good it will feel to let your body sink into your comfy bed after the hard work is over!