Why You Need to Start Stretching and The Benefits

Why You Need to Start Stretching and The Benefits

I’m sure that I’m not the first person to tell you how important stretching is. You hear it from fitness enthusiasts across the board, “Make sure you stretch every day and always before and after your workout”. You’re also not the first person to ignore the advice, think that stretching is a waste of time,  and that you don’t need to do it. Whether you are a runner, gymnast, gym rat, or couch potato – every one needs to stretch.

Why so serious?
 You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it,  would you? Don’t skip stretching. Just don’t do it. But, why? Think of stretching as your test drive. You’re warming up your engine before the long haul, identifying any issues or areas of concern.
Stretching helps keeps your muscles flexible, strong, healthy, maintains your joints range of motion, and can also speed up your recovery (stretching does not prevent soreness). If you skip your stretches, your muscles will become shortened and tight which can then lead to an injury. An injured muscle can cause joint issues. Healthy muscles also help to maintain balance and create a longer, leaner frame. Who doesn’t want that?

I suggest always stretching first thing in the morning when you wake up, make it part of your morning routine. Your muscles have been in the same position all night which can cause muscles to cramp up, excess toxins to build up, and a decreased blood flow.  Stretching first thing in the AM will help to decrease stiffness in joints, release stress and waste from sleeping, and increase blood flow to the body thus creating more energy.

DIFFERENT KINDS OF STRETCHING

Static, Dynamic, SMR (Foam Rolling)  – who knew there were so many different types of stretches. Which should you do and when?

 Static Stretching – Static stretches should be performed in the morning or AFTER your workout. Static stretches are stretches that are held in the same position for 30 seconds and are considered the best form of stretching if you want to increase flexibility and range of motion.


Why 30 seconds?

All of your muscles have these things called “muscle spindles”. Muscle spindles are receptors that detect changes in the length of a muscle. When muscle spindles send the message to your central nervous system that your muscle is being lengthened your body responds by contracting the muscle being stretched or lengthened. Muscles spindles are there to protect us from overstretching. You also have these things called “Golgi Tendon Organs”, which are other receptors that send messages when your muscle changes in tension. Holding a stretch for 30 seconds or longer causes tension which then causes the GTO’s to activate. When the GTO’s are activated they send a signal to the CNS that overrides the muscle spindles response and the muscle will then relax. It is in this relaxed state that the stretch will increase flexibility and range of motion.

Dynamic Stretching – Dynamic stretching should be done before your workout, the stretches help prepare your body for your routine. These stretches are exactly how they sounds – dynamic. You are moving throughout the entire stretch. Dynamic stretching will help activate muscles you’ll use during your workout, enhance muscular performance, and improve range of motion. You should repeat each stretch 8-10 times. See the video below for an example of a dynamic stretch:


Foam Rolling (SMR – Self Myofascial Release)  – Foam rolling should also be done at the END of your workout and is great for speeding up recovery time. Foam rolling uses tension from the foam roller to put pressure on the muscles Golgi Tendon Organs (GTO’s). As we learned before, active GTO’s will cause the muscle to relax. When foam rolling, you want to slowly roll the area until you find the most tender spot and hold on that spot for 30-90 seconds.

Why would you want to skip something that has SO many health benefits and can help aid you in reaching your fitness goals?  So now that you’ve heard it for the billionth time. Stretch, stretch, stretch.

 

Why You Need To Start A Morning Routine & How To Start

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. You go to hit the snooze button on your alarm to fit in those 10 extra minutes of sleep. They seem necessary and the only way you’ll make it through the day but then you just end up feeling groggy and unenergized until you get your coffee. We ALL have these mornings. And that’s okay, on occasion. I can’t stress enough the importance of a morning routine. We all have busy lives and all feel like there is not enough time in the day. You are definitely not alone.

Having a morning routine sets the tone for the rest of your day. Starting your day generally the same way every day, will help to create good habits. Good habits lead to success.  If you set yourself up for success, well, you’re more likely to succeed. I’m sure many of you already have a morning routine. Is your routine productive? Does it help you? Does it reduce stress? Do you enjoy it? If you answered no to any of these questions then try adjusting your morning routine. What motivates you? What relaxes you? What will help you have a successful and less stressful day? Find out what these things are to you. If you’re not sure, try a few different strategies to see what you like. One doesn’t work for you – that’s okay – try something else! Try until you find THAT thing. Read on to see my morning routine suggestions.

  1. Try getting up early. If you’re not a morning person, ease yourself into it. Try getting up 10 minutes earlier than usual. Once that becomes easy for you, 10 minutes earlier than that. So on and so forth. If you struggle to get out of bed – drink a glass of water before bed so you’ll have to get up to use the bathroom when your alarm goes off.
  2. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. Your body get dehydrated over night, you need to replenish the liquids and flush out your body. I ensure that I get my water in the morning by not allowing myself coffee or tea until I’ve had a glass of water. It’s all about tweaking it to find what works for you and your lifestyle.
  3. Stretch. You’ve just been laying in bed for 7-8 hours. This doesn’t have to be anything crazy, light stretches to wake up your muscles and get your energy flowing.
  4. Meditate. Take 7-10 minutes each morning to clear your head and meditate. There are a ton of phone apps or youtube videos to help guide you. I personally use HeadSpace to guide my morning meditation. This is so good to reduce your stress and start your day in a clear headspace.
  5. Read. However long you have time for – 5, 10, 15 minutes. This will wake your brain up and get those brain juices flowing preparing you for your day. This will help your mind stay creative and focused.
  6. Set goals. Whether they are daily goals or long term goals. Set them and write them down. Every day. You know what you have to do and accomplish for that day. Those daily accomplishments should go hand in hand with your long term goals. Every small goal getting you one step closer to that long term goal.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” – John C. Maxwell

This quote rings SO true. How can you expect to achieve something or have something in your life change if you aren’t making the proper changes to get there. If you are unhappy right now, then something needs to change. Maybe you’re unhappy with your weight, unhappy with your significant other, unhappy with your career. Well, it’s simple. Nothing will change unless YOU change. What can make you feel better about your weight and boost your confidence? Incorporate working out into your morning or daily routine along with a little mirror pep talk telling yourself how awesome you are. Just tweak little things along the way that will promote the things you want. Feeling unhappy about your weight and then binging on a bag of chips because your eating your emotions is destructive and only digging your deeper in that hole.

Take some time and write down a few things you want to accomplish in the next 3 months, 6 months, year, 5 years. Then, write down something you can do daily to help you get there. Your goals will change, you will change, and your routine will evolve with you.  And just remember, you won’t change your life if you don’t change something you’re doing.

Comment below and tell me what your morning routine looks like!

 

5 Small Changes That Will Lead to Big Lifestyle Changes

If your reading this, then I’m sure we can all say we’ve been there. Scrolling through your Instagram or your Facebook, seeing all the super fit and healthy girls with their rockin’ bods and their seemingly perfect diet flooding your feed and thinking, “Why can’t I look like that?” I am 100 percent a culprit of this.  And then, I flash back to reality, I am who I am and you are YOU. Don’t wish or hope to be anyone or anything but the very best, most fabulous version of yourself. Those girls aren’t your competition, YOU are your competition. These fitness models and #fitgirls that are flooding our news feeds were not “just born with it” or maybe they were and in that case, thanks a lot mom and dad. These women worked extremely hard for their physique and I’m sure there were sacrifices and tears along the way (just like the rest of us). These transformations, healthier choices, and results – they take TIME. I know, I know, that’s the last thing you want to hear but give yourself one month. Don’t base it off of pounds lost, (this can be the most detrimental to your weight loss and motivation) but see how you feel, how your clothes fit, and how you’re sleeping. These small, what may seem insignificant, changes will lead you to that healthier lifestyle and rockin’ bod we see over and over again on Instagram.

When I was finally fed up with my weight and done with feeling like crap constantly I started with these small changes, ultimately helping me to lose 65 pounds. I never dreamt of being where I am today but I believe it was starting small that gave me big results. So start small (weight loss needs to be something that is manageable and maintainable so you don’t gain it all back) and just see how these little changes trickle into other aspects of your life and lead to substantial lifestyle changes down the road.

Okay, here they are:

     1. Create Distance. Park as far away as you can. Take the stairs. Walk down every single grocery aisle when grocery shopping. Get up and move at least every hour. In order to lose weight, you need a calorie deficit. In order to burn calories you need to move. Pretty simple, right?

     2. Find Time Everyday to Exercise. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes on some days (I recommend your workouts be 35-50 minutes at least 3x a week). Go for a walk, run up and down the stairs, do some core exercises on your living room floor, do a short yoga workout.  Finding the time everyday to fit in a workout will create a habit. Working out is the best habit you can create.

  3. Drink More Water. Drink water consistently throughout the day (I set a reminder on my phone that goes off every 30 min). Drink a glass of water before every meal. Drink a glass of water when you feel hungry to see if your body is just thirsty. The  recommended daily water intake for women is 91oz (2.7 Liters) and 125oz (3.7 Liters) for men.

    4. Limit Meals Out. With every one’s busy schedules these days, it is so easy to just grab and go. We are so caught up with work, school, whatever it may be that eating out becomes our social time. Break that habit. Instead of going out to eat or to a coffee shop with friends, go hiking, go on a bike ride, walk to your nearest shopping plaza. Keep it active. Try and limit yourself to two meals out per week (one is better, but lifestyles vary). Not only will this help you on your weight loss journey but it will also save you some extra money for that super cute new LuluLemon outfit you’ve been wanting.

     5. Track, Track, Track. I HIGHLY recommend tracking your food intake, even if its only for a short period of time (try for at minimum 3-4 weeks). You can write a note in your phone, a paper list, one of the hundreds of food tracking apps (my favorite is MyFitnessPal), email a list to a friend, just get it down somewhere. Tracking your food will help provide you with SO much insight on your diet. You can note what you eat and how you feel after – this will help teach you foods that fuel your body and foods that hurt you. You can see if your overeating, under eating, eating too much fat, too many carbs. It really helps to see it “on paper”.


Remember, start at a manageable and maintainable pace. Maybe you don’t do all of these at once – start with one. Then in a week or two incorporate another. Before you know it these will lead to different changes and so on and so forth. You’ll look back a year from now and not believe the life you life compared to the one you used to.

I have more tips to come in the coming weeks! Leave a comment and let me know if you give any of these a try, how it goes, and if you need any advice!