There’s no denying it: Getting the fresh air from exercising outdoors is great! But along with it, you also get the harmful UV rays. To keep yourself shielded while still having fun in the sun, opt for a sweat-proof screen with SPF 30 or higher (look out for types that say “water-resistant” or “waterproof” on the bottle, terms regulated by the FDA), a lip balm with SPF 15 or higher, a lightweight hat, and sports shades. Also consider trading in your white tee and instead going for a shirt with built-in UV protection (a rating of 30 UVP is necessary to be awarded the Skin Cancer Foundation’s “Seal of Recommendation”; a white T-shirt has a rating of 10). And remember, the rays are at their brightest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so try to plan a before-or post-work sweat-session.
Diet and workout tips that work
We all want to be our fittest selves, but with so much advice floating around out there, it can be hard to hone in on what healthcare tips actually work. To make your life a bit easier, we’ve rounded up a number of our go-to healthy strategies, to help you reach your most ambitious fitness goals even quicker.
Say hello to H20
Whether you’re heading off to spin class, boot camp, or any other exercise, it’s always important to hydrate so you can stay energized and have your best workout. Electrolyte-loaded athletic drinks, though, can be a source of unnecessary calories, so “drinking water is usually fine until you’re exercising for more than one hour,” says Newgent. At that point, feel free to go for regular Gatorade-type drinks (and their calories), which can give you a beneficial replenishment boost. But worry not if you like a little flavor during your fitness: There are now lower- cal sports drinks available, adds Newgent, so look out for ’em in your grocery aisles.
Find the best fitness friend
A workout buddy is hugely helpful for keeping motivated, but it’s important to find someone who will inspire—not discourage. So make a list of all your exercise-loving friends, then see who fits this criteria, says Andrew Kastor, an ASICS running coach: Can your pal meet to exercise on a regular basis? Is she supportive (not disparaging) of your goals? And last, will your bud be able to keep up with you or even push your limits in key workouts? If you’ve got someone that fits all three, make that phone call.
Stock up on these
While there are heaps of good-for-you foods out there, some key ingredients make it a lot easier to meet your weight-loss goals. Next grocery store run, be sure to place Newgent’s top three diet-friendly items in your cart: balsamic vinegar (it adds a pop of low-cal flavor to veggies and salads), in-shell nuts (their protein and fiber keep you satiated), and fat-free plain yogurt (a creamy, comforting source of protein). “Plus, Greek yogurt also works wonders as a natural low-calorie base for dressings and dips—or as a tangier alternative to sour cream,” says Newgent. Talk about a multitasker!
Relieve those achy muscles
After a grueling workout, there’s a good chance you’re going to be feeling it (we’re talking sore thighs, tight calves). Relieve post-fitness aches by submerging your lower body in a cold bath (50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit; you may have to throw some ice cubes in to get it cold enough) for 10 to 15 minutes. “Many top athletes use this trick to help reduce soreness after training sessions,” says Andrew Kastor. And advice we love: “An athlete training for an important race should consider getting one to two massages per month to help aid in training recovery,” adds Kastor. Now that’s speaking our
Curb your sweet tooth
Got a late-night sugar craving that just won’t quit? “To satisfy your sweet tooth without pushing yourself over the calorie edge, even in the late night hours, think ‘fruit first,'” says Jackie Newgent, RD, author of The Big Green Cookbook. So resist that chocolate cake siren, and instead enjoy a sliced apple with a tablespoon of nut butter (like peanut or almond) or fresh fig halves spread with ricotta. Then sleep sweet, knowing you’re still on the right, healthy track.
Buy comfy sneaks
You shouldn’t buy kicks that hurt, bottom line! “Your shoes should feel comfortable from the first step,” says Andrew Kastor. So shop in the evening—your feet swell during the day and stop in the late afternoon, so you want to shop when they’re at their biggest. Also make sure the sneaks are a little roomy—enough so that you can wiggle your toes, but no more than that. They should be comfy from the get-go, but Kastor says they’ll be even more so once you have a good 20 to 40 miles on ’em.
When to weigh
You’ve been following your diet for a whole week. Weigh to go! Now it’s time to start tracking your progress (and make sure pesky pounds don’t find their way back on). “It’s best to step on the scale in the morning before eating or drinking—and prior to plunging into your daily activities,” says Newgent. For the most reliable number, be sure to check your poundage at a consistent time, whether daily or weekly.
Police your portions
Does your steak take up more than half your plate? Think about cutting your serving of beef in half. That’s because it’s best to try and fill half your plate with veggies or a mixture of veggies and fresh fruit, says Newgent, so that it’s harder to overdo it on the more caloric dishes (like cheesy potatoes or barbecue sauce–slathered ribs—yum!).
Combat cocktail hour
Is it ladies’ night? If you know you’ll be imbibing more than one drink, feel (and sip!) right by always ordering water between cocktails, says Newgent. That way, you won’t rack up sneaky liquid calories (and ruin your inhibition to resist those mozzarella sticks!). But your H20 doesn’t have to be ho-hum. “Make it festive by ordering the sparkling variety with plenty of fruit, like a lime, lemon, and orange wedge in a martini or highball glass,” adds Newgent.
Eat this, run that
When you have a 5- or 10K (you get to eat more with a half or full marathon) on your calendar, it’s important to plan out what you’re going to eat the morning of the big day—something that will keep you fueled and also go down easy. While everyone is different, “We always have good luck with a high-carbohydrate breakfast such as a small bowl of oatmeal with fruit or a couple of pieces of toast with peanut butter or cream cheese,” says Andrew Kastor, who also advises eating around 200 to 250 (primarily carb) calories about 90 minutes before you warm up for your run . And don’t worry about nixing your a.m. caffeine fix on race day. “Coffee is great for athletic performances,” Kastor adds, because it makes you sharper and may even give you extended energy. Talk about buzz-worthy!
Turn your cheat day around
Feeling guilty about that giant ice cream sundae you enjoyed at your niece’s birthday party? Don’t beat yourself up! It takes a lot of calories—3,500—to gain a pound of body fat. “So really, that one off day doesn’t usually result in any significant weight gain,” says Newgent. It’s about what you do the next day and the day after that’s really important—so don’t stay off-track. So be sure to whittle away at those extra calories over the next day or two, preferably by boosting exercise rather than eating too little. Starvation is not the healthy answer!
Fun up your food
It’s easy to get in a diet rut, even if you’re loading up on flavorful fruits and veggies. The solution? Have plenty of spices, fresh herbs, and lemons at your cooking beck and call. “It’s amazing what a little dash of spice, sprinkle of herbs, pinch of lemon zest, or squirt of lime juice can do to liven up a dish—and your diet,” says Newgent. The best part: They contain almost no calories. Experiment with your dinner, tonight!