5 Ways to Improve Your Workouts

o-WORKING-OUT-facebookBeing a Division 1 athlete comes with a lot of high expectations. Among other things, you are expected to constantly improve your strength and conditioning level. Those athletes who are stronger and in better shape typically see their sport specific skills improve. That is why it is so important for their workouts to be effective and challenging. The effectiveness of your workout can be affected by so many things, like the time of day, your mood, what you ate, and much more. It can be a huge struggle finding the right foods to eat before a workout, or staying awake and alert during an early morning session; trust me I understand. That is why I want to provide you all with some personal insight on the matter. Here are 5 things you can do before and after your workouts in order to make them more effective.

1. Get more sleep

Sleeping more always sounds like such an obvious answer to performing better, but it is one of the hardest things to do. For people with busy schedules, athletes specifically, there sometimes are just not enough hours in the day. Setting aside enough time for sleep can be an afterthought that we tend to sweep under the rug. Sleep depravation slows down your reaction time, increasing your risk for injury. Catching more z’s will make you more alert during your workout and enable you to focus better. This task may be difficult for some, but if you commit to getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night, you’ll see small but critical improvements in your workout.

2. Quench that thirst

Most athletes think it is enough to only drink water during a workout or practice, and they are so wrong. True hydration comes from drinking 17 to 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before each workout, 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before your warm-up, 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during your workout, and 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise. Staying hydrated loosens up your joints, gives you more energy, and decreases the chance of muscle fatigue or cramps. Every athlete can significantly make their workouts better with this simple liquid, so drink up!

3. Become friends with a foam roller

Foam rollers have become the saving grace for athletes all over the world. Using one of these at the begining and end of your workout can help with any soreness in your muscles and joints. Foam rolling can reduce any pain on your body, increase your blood flow, and improve your circulation. Along with foam rolling, you should be stretching before and after each workout. Stretch whatever feels tight, even stretching your feet can release a lot of tension in your body.

4. Take a pre-workout supplement

If you aren’t already, you should really consider taking a pre-workout supplement to improve the quality of your workouts. The main ingredient in these supplements is caffeine. Yup, the stuff that’s in coffee. Caffeine has been shown to be responsible for delaying fatigue during endurance activities, which is awesome for athletes. I like taking a pre-workout supplement because it increases my strength capacity and endurance during workouts. You should try it!

5. Refuel with protein

During a long and grueling workout, your muscles and fibers are being broken down, and after a workout, those muscles and fibers look to be repaired. Protein is a great way to replenish your body of everything it lost. There are a lot of options when it comes to protein, but the quickest and easiest one is to use protein powder. You can mix it with water, milk, or make a shake with it. If you consume some form of protein after every workout, your body will be able to recover and get you ready for the next workout.

All of these tips have helped me with improving my workouts, hopefully you can utilize them too!

SK’s Food Of The Day

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BANANAS

If you think bananas are just for monkeys, think again. This yummy fruit helps prevent all kinds of things; like depression, fatigue, cramps, and swelling. Eat it by itself or slice it up and throw it in a smoothie. Whatever you do, just don’t slip on its peel!

Feeling inspired? Let me know what you think about this post in the comments section below!

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Rise and Shine. Breakfast Time: Oatmeal

OatmealEveryone has those early mornings where eating breakfast just doesn’t seem like an option. When you’re pressed for time, getting something of nutritional value in your system is the least of your worries. So I present to you the perfect solution; oatmeal. Oatmeal is hands down my favorite breakfast to make whenever I’m low on time, and that is very often. It is super cheap, takes less than 5 minutes to make, and keeps me full until lunchtime. I eat oatmeal every morning before my 5 a.m. workouts because it is the perfect thing to fuel my body and give it the proper kick-start. There are many people who claim that oatmeal is not actually a healthy breakfast option, but I disagree with them. Not only is oatmeal packed with nutritious benefits, it’s also delicious.

Oatmeal is a whole grain, and whole grains are awesome for you. They can lower your risk for diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. There is a ton of fiber packed into oatmeal; both  soluble and insoluble. The soluble fiber in oatmeal has been shown to lower “bad cholesterol” by up to 15%; which means more properly functioning brains and less stressful lives. The fiber in oatmeal also has the effect of making you feel full for a long time. Unlike fatty and sugary breakfast foods, oatmeal’s fiber sticks your ribs, satisfying you well until your next meal.

Now that you know the health benefits of oatmeal, let’s talk about how to make it tasty. One thing I love about making oatmeal is the wide variety of toppings I can put on it. If you want savory oatmeal, try topping it with bacon, cheddar cheese, or scrambled eggs. If you prefer a sweeter taste, try topping your oatmeal with blueberries, bananas, or sliced almonds.

Here is the oatmeal recipe that I use every morning.

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I buy the 42 oz. container of Quaker Oats Quick 1-Minute Oats. It’s only $3.99 at Target. Occasionally, if I have some in my refrigerator, I top my oatmeal with a handful of blueberries for added flavor. You can use whatever milk you prefer. I like to use whole milk for the extra serving of healthy fats.

If you want more oatmeal inspiration, click here.

SK’s Food Of The Day

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ALMONDS

Almonds are the perfect snack. Packed with Vitamin E and energy boosting Vitamin B2, these heart happy super foods will have you going nuts.

Feeling inspired? Let me know what you think about this post in the comments section below!

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Healthy = Happy

I’d like to know who started the rumor that healthy food is gross, because whoever came up with that idea is completely wrong! Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring if you don’t want it to be. There are all kinds of ways to spice up your healthy food and make it more exciting. Eating tasty food will no doubt please your body, and the new found flavor will indeed transfer over to your life. Not only does eating healthy boost your immune system, give you more energy throughout the day, and insure a longer life, it also makes you happier. Here are 5 benefits of healthy, happy eating.

1. You sleep better

The better you eat, the better you sleep. Eating a consistently healthy diet has been proven to deepen your snooze. The right carbohydrates and fats will put your body right into sleep mode.

2. You look better

Antioxidant filled foods, like berries and fatty fish, keep your skin looking fresh and young. You’ll be getting compliments left and right. Move over botox, healthy food is taking over.

3. You are more focused

When you eat healthy you’re feeding more than just your stomach, you’re feeding your brain too. Nutritious food supercharges your brain, making you ready to focus and tackle any situation. So be conscious of what you put in your body; your brain will thank you.

4. You have more energy

Think of your body as a car, and the food you put in it as the gas. Your car doesn’t run as well with low quality gas, and your body doesn’t function to its highest potential with low quality food! Eating healthy food gives you the proper fuel and energy to take on the day and all its challenges.

5. You are less stressed

Life is stressful, but with the right foods it doesn’t have to be. Eating healthy can help us take the edge off and experience that zen-like state of mind we all so desire. Fruits and vegetables like berries, oranges, asparagus, and avocado will have you living a stress-free life, so stock up!

When it comes to healthy food, the days of celery sticks and rice cakes are over! Say goodbye to Popeye and his bland, boring spinach and say hello to new and exciting nutritious meals. With a healthy, nutritious diet, you’ll find happiness from things you never thought you could. Eating healthy can be really fun, I’ll show you.

SK’s Food Of The Day
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KIWI

Kiwi’s are a sweet and simple way to get your serving of antioxidants. Throw it in a smoothie or on top of greek yogurt. One bite of this fruit will have you feeling like you’re on a tropical vacation.

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