Holiday Party Survival Strategies – How to Stick to Your Plan!

We’ve all been there… trying to stay healthy throughout the holidays can be super tough! Maybe you made it through Thanksgiving by cooking delicious healthy holiday recipes and now the most happiest time of the year is upon us full of opportunities to be merry, stuff our tummies, and throw back a few glasses of eggnog. Plus, you have work parties, friends’ parties, and maybe your own to host. How do you truly enjoy all of the social engagements and stay true to your health goals? Overall, moderation is key. But in case you need some help, here are a few common scenarios and a game plan to help you stay the course!

Holiday Party Diet Survival Strategies

Scenario: You’re afraid of drinking too much eggnog (or “other”) at the office party….

Stay the course. To outsmart calories (eggnog packs more than 200 a cup) and hangovers at future fetes, order a mixed drink, such as vodka and club soda; it is low in calories (about 100), easy to dilute (just add soda), and less likely to cause a humongous hangover. The darker the booze, the worse you’ll feel the next day. That’s because dark liquor contains more congeners, chemicals produced during the fermentation process that are to blame for many hangover symptoms. Also avoid screwdrivers, vodka and cranberry juice, and other drinks made with fruit… The sugar in these cocktails will leave you craving more of the sweet stuff, making pecan pie, peppermint bark, Christmas cookies, you name it, irresistible.

Scenario: You’re afraid of going overboard at tonight’s holiday dinner.

Stay the course. When you’re dining at a friend’s or a relative’s, bring a healthy dish that you can dig into guilt-free. Then choose sweet potatoes over mashed with gravy, and broccoli over green bean casserole. Skip the rolls even if they’re whole wheat; chances are you already have plenty of carbs. Help yourself to a double serving of salad to fill up without filling out, and just say no when Aunt Edna insists that you have another spoonful of her stuffing (’tis the season for food pushers!). A little humor will take the edge off, so say, “Your stuffing is so good, but if I eat another bite I’ll be more stuffed than that bird!” When you play hostess, fix lighter fare (make your green bean casserole with fresh beans and sautéed onions rather than cream of mushroom soup and fried onions). And since Christmas leftovers are even more delectable and easier to overindulge in, send guests home with doggie bags.

scenario: You haven’t been to the gym in more than two weeks.

Stay the course. Take baby steps, every day. Even a 20-minute walk will keep you in the exercise habit and chances are you’ll be inspired to keep going. No time to hit the gym? Shape up in your living room with an exercise ball, 5-pound weights, and a resistance band. Or sneak fitness into your holiday to-dos…Combing the mall for two hours blasts about 350 calories; boost the burn by doing biceps curls with shopping bags while waiting to pay for gift number 207. If you’re really moving, an hour spent climbing up and down a ladder hoisting lights is comparable to an easy workout.

Get out there and enjoy your Holiday parties while staying true to your goals! You can do it!

5 Ways to Speed Up Your Six-Pack

No matter what your age, body type, or fitness level, I’m pretty sure one of your main workout goals is to improve your abs. And why not? A flat midsection, with or without a visible six-pack, is the ultimate symbol of being fit and lean. (And yes, it looks great at the beach.) But it’s not just a matter of vanity—a strong core helps stabilize your entire body. That’s why every workout program should include a variety of ab-tightening exercises.

Still, whatever you’re doing to get fit, there’s always room for improvement where the core is concerned. Here are five tips to help you to get those great abs faster than ever:

5 Ways to Speed Up Your Six Pack

1. Work your entire core.

Our “core” (the trunk muscles of your abdomen, lower back, and pelvis) is a whole system that supports your body as you stand up straight, perform everyday activities, and work out. And it’s important to strengthen all these muscles, not just the rectus abdominis (the main “six-pack” muscles targeted by crunches). At the very least, you should strengthen the spinal erectors of the lower back to balance out your abs, which will help your posture and reduce the risk of back pain. Think of total-core training as increasing your functional fitness—meaning you won’t just look better, but you’ll also be able to do things better.

2. Take it slow.

When you’re doing crunches or other ab-focused exercises, it’s easy to speed up and lose proper form, especially when you start to get tired. Either you let momentum carry you through much of the movement or you pull yourself up with your back and shoulders. But you’ll get the most benefit (and the least chance of injury) from your workout if you concentrate on measured, controlled movements. And keep the abdominals contracted the entire time. After all, they’re the ones that should be doing the work. (Doing some Pilates-style movements in which you lift your upper body to a count of 8 and then lower to a count of 8 are a good way to train yourself to slow it down.) When you can’t do any more reps with the proper form, it’s time to stop.

3. Don’t overdo it.

If you really want great abs, you may be tempted to grind out crunch after crunch to the exclusion of other exercises, or to do more ab-centered workouts than your fitness program recommends. But directly working your abs too often can do more harm than good. Like any muscle, the abdominals need to recover between workouts. If you find you aren’t improving the number of reps you can do or the amount of weight you can handle, that’s a sign that you’re overtraining, and you need to cut back.

4. Don’t neglect the rest of your body.

The more you work your entire body, the better it is for your abs. In fact, just about any full-body or compound movement, from push-ups to squats to deadlifts, takes a lot of ab effort. What’s more, working your full body will burn many more calories and raise your metabolism, which is important, because you also need to…

5. Lose the fat to make your abs flat.

No matter how much you strengthen your abdominal muscles, the only way to get a flat midsection is to lose body fat. That’s going to require a diet that’s high in protein and fiber, low in simple carbs, and full of bulky, nutrient-dense foods that keep you full with fewer calories—and of course, plenty of water. If you’re on a meal plan associated with a particular workout, make sure you’re really following it and not fudging here and there. (Keeping a food diary can help.) When you combine an effective full-body workout with a proper diet, getting the flat abs you’ve always wanted is just a matter of time.

Save Yourself from Shin Splints

If I asked you to pound your entire body weight onto your hands, repeatedly, for an hour a day, six days a week, you’d probably tell me to get lost. Yet, if you’re reading this, you probably do the exact same thing to your feet everyday when you work out, jog, or shoot hoops—and if you’re not careful about it, your feet will let you know they aren’t too happy about it, via your shins. Doctors and physical therapists call this message Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome. Everyday people, like myself, call it shin splints. Shin splints refer to pain in your tibia, or shinbone, and they are caused by overloading the bone and the connective tissue that attaches your muscles to the bone. There are a few reasons this happens.

How to prevent shin splints

The most likely cause is stressed muscles that become swollen and irritated from overuse. If this is the case, it’s a simple fix and we’ll discuss some solutions below.

A second cause might be that you have flat feet, meaning your arches collapse, again stressing muscles. It’s fairly obvious if you have flat feet (because, um, your feet are flat), and if this is the case, orthotics or arch supports can help. If you have access to custom orthotics from an orthopedist . . . great. If not, there are plenty of over-the-counter insoles and arch supports that might help (I highly suggest these by Dr. Scholl’s; they have been a lifesaver!). Just because one doesn’t work, don’t give up. It might take buying a few different kinds to find something comfortable for you.

A third and more serious cause of shin splints is stress fractures—small, hairline cracks in your lower leg bones. If this is the case, the pain tends to be sharper and more localized, with tenderness a few inches below the knee. If you suspect a stress fracture, talk to your doctor.

Regardless of the cause, the first step in shin splint management is a few days’ rest and some ice. While you’re resting, if your shins keep hurting, go see a doctor. If you start exercising again and the pain increases, go see a doctor. If your shin starts swelling, go see a doctor. But if none of these things happen, then home remedies will most likely solve the problem. So I’ve come up with a little something called the Four S’s of Saving Your Shins from Splints…

1. Surface.

Each time your foot hits the ground, your musculoskeletal system absorbs a shockwave. The softer the surface, the smaller the shockwave. If you run, look for a good track that gives little resistance or consider running on grass or off-road. Whatever you do, stay off the pavement. If you work out at home, exercise on carpeted flooring or get yourself a small rug to stand on. Better still, a floor or plyometrics mat works perfectly.

2. Shoes.

A good pair of sneakers can also absorb that shockwave. Jogging shoes tend to be ideal for this. If you’re active, count on replacing footwear at least a couple of times a year. Your shoes may not look worn out after six months, but the internal support structure and shock absorbency have probably broken down.

3. Stretch.

Before you work out, warm up the muscles that support your shins. A great stretch for this is to push against a wall with your hands. As you do this, straighten one leg, bending your other leg at the knee, keeping both feet flat on the ground. You should feel a stretch in the calf of your straight leg. Repeat, switching legs. There’s also the tibialis anterior muscle stretch. Squat really low in front of a bar or something else you can grip. Lean back and pull yourself forward while keeping your feet flat. You’ll feel the stretch under your shin.

4. Strength.

Strong shins can take more punishment. One super shin strengthener is toe raises, which train your tibialis anterior muscle. To do these, stand with your back against a wall and feet in front of you, about a foot from the wall, shoulder-width apart. Keeping your heels on the floor, raise your toes and lower them. Repeat 40 times.

Another strengthening exercise is calf raises. Stand on a stair or a stool so that your heels hang off the edge. Slowly rise up on your toes and the balls of your feet, and then slowly lower down again. Do three sets of ten. Once this gets easy, do it while holding weights. You can also do these with your toes pointed in and your toes pointed out.

The four S’s are not only the ideal way to manage most shin splints, they’re the ideal way to prevent them, too. So don’t wait for the shockwave to overtake you before you start doing them. Remember, your shins have been good to you for years, it’s about time you gave back.

Disclaimer: FitByWhit is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. please note this is at NO additional cost to you, the buyer. Not all my links are affiliate links because I only link to products that I use and fully recommend!

10 Excuses to Not Work Out — And How to Overcome Them

I’m too tired. I’m too overweight. I don’t have time. It’s easy to come up with a zillion reasons NOT to exercise. Here are tips to overcome the top 10 excuses to working out.

Overcome Workout Excuses

Excuse #1: I can’t afford a gym.

The cost of gym memberships can vary widely — from $10 a month to more than $200. According to Statista.com, nearly 55 million Americans were members of a fitness center as of 2015. But here’s the problem — 67 percent of people with gym memberships NEVER use them, so if you fall into that category the only weight you’ll lose is from your wallet.

Solution: Instead of putting your fitness dollars down the drain with an unused gym membership, look for more affordable solutions like creating a simple home gym and joining Beachbody On Demand, which provides unlimited, streaming access to hundreds of workouts for just $99 per year. The result: More muscle for less money.

 

Excuse #2: I’m way too tired to exercise.

Family Guy GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Our 24/7 lifestyle often leaves us feeling busier and busier, and as a result, downright exhausted. “When I ask people to give me one word for how they feel most often, whether it’s a high school athlete or a group of leaders, they consistently use the word ‘tired’,” says Jarrod Spencer, Psy.D., sports psychologist at Mind of the Athlete in Bethlehem, PA. “And it’s not just a physical fatigue. It’s a low emotional energy leaving us feeling negative and drained.” All this leaves us wanting to skip workouts to preserve what little energy we have left.

Solution: When you feel too tired to work out, Spencer says the solution is… to actually work out. “Working out is almost paradoxical. It can make your muscles physically tired, but you’ll actually feel more energized from it.” Once you start sweating, Spencer explains, your body will start releasing neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and natural endorphins that will make you feel better. You may need to find a mantra that helps to train your brain to overcome your tired body’s reluctance. Set a reminder on your phone that triggers positive notifications like “I’ll have more energy after I exercise” or “You’ll never regret a sweat session” to pop up before your scheduled workout. Planning to exercise with a friend will also motivate you to keep your commitment to exercise even when you’re pooped.

 

Excuse #3: I need more motivation than health to hit the gym.

Dance GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

If losing weight or your general health isn’t a good enough reason to work out and you need extra incentives, do some soul-searching to find what will work to motivate you to get moving.

Solution: Give yourself a reward for meeting your fitness goals — a reward that you really want. If you love massages, book a massage at the end of every month you complete your target number of work outs. You can log your workouts using a habit-tracking app like HabitBull to keep you on track. How about money as a motivating factor? Apps like Pact allow you to wager money on meeting your workout schedule. You receive cash when you hit your goals, but cough up money when you don’t. A more altruistic soul? Track your sweat sessions with the Charity Miles app that donates money to your choice of charity for every workout you log.

 

Excuse #4: I don’t have time.

Dog GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Between kids and a commute, a job and other responsibilities of life, it can feel hard to fit a workout in your daily schedule. There is only so much time in the day and with so much on our plates, working out can often get pushed to the back burner.

Solution: Instead of trying to find time to work out, think about how you can make time. The trick is to find a block of time in your daily schedule that’s consistently free of commitments. For some, that might be before or after work. For others, that might be during their lunch hour.

The time commitment can be minimal. If you can carve out just a half hour a day for exercise, you’ll have all the time you need to get in the best shape of your life.

“Many of us have ‘fear of missing out’ and so we have difficulty saying ‘no’ to things,” explains Spencer. “The key is learning how to say ‘no’ to some things and ‘yes’ to taking care of ourselves.”

And if you are trying to figure out how to eat healthy when you are crunched for time, check out this article for 8 simple strategies!

 

Excuse #5: I don’t like working out alone.

Cute GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Unless you have a crazy big supply of internal motivation, working out with a friend can make your workout time fly by and prompt you to push yourself a little harder. Since there is no accountability when we work out solo, it’s easier to flake or not give the workout your best effort.

Solution: Ask a friend to meet you for a weekend run or see if some colleagues want to join you for a HIIT session, a bootcamp, or a dance class after work. Exercising with a partner or a group increases motivation and consistency.

Don’t have any friends (or at least any into fitness)? Find some by looking for upcoming fitness-focused get-togethers on Meetup.comZogsports.com, or your work bulletin board. You can also check out the Bvddy app which works like Tinder for your workouts helping you find fellow squash players, jog buddies, or tennis partners to grow your sports – and social – life.

 

Excuse #6: I’m too old/fat/uncoordinated/embarrassed to exercise.

I Love Kellie Pickler GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Sure, it may be easy for that size 0, twentysomething to just looooove going to the gym, but me? — you think — not so much. Whether you feel too old, too overweight, or ridiculous in workout wear to break a sweat, there is a simple solution. Start small, but start with something.

Solution: Go for a walk, says Spencer, ideally with a friend and in a park or somewhere else in nature. “Walking is the best way and the first step to get a person moving forward. Often times, people won’t even realize how far they have gone!” And how many calories they’ve burned. Video workouts are another great option since they can be done in the privacy of your own home and often include examples of how to scale up or down the workout to match your ability and fitness level. Try a program like Beachbody’s PiYo that uses low-impact but effective moves to burn fat and sculpt your muscles. Or YOUv2, which is a lively dance workout program created for beginners that is so much fun that you may forget you’re working out.

 

Excuse #7: I get bored easily.

Homer Simpson GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Cringe at the thought of hitting the treadmill or same exercise class again? The key to beating boredom is to find a workout program that both caters to your fitness level and that you actually look forward to. It’s also important to switch things up every few weeks or months so that you don’t fall into a “routine.”

Solution: If your gym doesn’t offer an assortment of classes to choose from, consider signing up for Beachbody On Demand, which includes a variety of workout programs from a handful of the nation’s top trainers that encompass a range of exercise styles and intensities. There’s something for every personality, exercise preference, and fitness level.

 

Excuse #8: I don’t like to sweat.

Dog GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Exercise doesn’t have to mean grunting and groaning and dripping in sweat. There are a variety of effective workouts that burn calories and build muscle while not leaving you dripping in sweat.

Solution: Try a slower-paced workout that emphasizes stretching and controlled movements. One great option is a yoga class that focuses less on getting your heart pumping and more on experiencing a full-body stretch, increasing your balance and flexibility, as well as strengthening muscle by holding yoga poses.

 

Excuse #9: I’m a full-time parent.

Let’s be honest – kids are cute, but they take time so parents and caregivers need to get creative in order to find ways to exercise with kids around.

Solution: When kids are young, pop them in a jogging stroller for a few laps around the neighborhood. As they get older, find ways to exercise that mesh well with your kids’ activities. Run trails at the baseball fields while your son goes to practice or do intervals on the school stairs while you wait for dance class to let out. Parents can also model healthy living by finding workouts that kids and parents can do together! Beachbody On Demand now has a “kids and family” category. Whether it’s a family bike ride, friendly game of hoops, or a dance-based workout like YOUv2, exercising as a family will help you spend time together, fit in your workout, and help you demonstrate healthy habits.

This article on getting yourself back on track during the school year has even more advice!

 

Excuse #10: I don’t like to work out around the opposite sex.

Fail GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

If the opposite sex makes you self-conscience to break a sweat, find ways to overcome your fear.

Solution: See if your gym offers gender-specific classes or workout areas. Of course, working out in the privacy of your own home also solves this problem. So choose your favorite workout program on Beachbody On Demand, and with the curtains closed, bust out your calorie-burn session.

5 Tips to Avoid Muscle Soreness

Nothing derails your fitness goals like feeling sore. Yet getting sore is almost unavoidable—it’s a rite of passage, if you will. But it doesn’t have to wipe you out. Follow these tips and, if you’re lucky, you’ll avoid the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) monster altogether.

How to Avoid Muscle Soreness

1. Start SLOooW

It’s very tempting to begin an exercise program with a lot of enthusiasm, but try your best to go at a reasonable pace. If you’ve never exercised, or it’s been a long time since you have, go much easier than you feel you are capable of on Day 1 and ramp things up at a pace that is based on how you feel. If you’re not sore, go a little harder the next day. If you’re a little sore, take it down a notch. If you’re very sore, scroll down to the next section of this article to mitigate the soreness.

If you’ve been exercising, but it’s been more than a week since you last worked out, follow the same pattern but go harder, based—again—on how fit you are. A good example to use here would be to start with about half of the workout scheduled—something like the warm-up, cooldown, and one round of exercises. Because you have a better fitness base, you can advance a little bit further each day than if you were out of shape. In general, take about a week to get back to full-bore 100% effort. This is also the example you want to use if you’ve been training and taken some time off.

If you’ve been exercising, but are starting a new program, base how hard you push yourself on how much advancement there is in your program. Whenever your program makes a big jump, in time, intensity, or style of training (from all cardio to weight training, for instance), you’ll always want to hold a bit back in the beginning.

The reason is that your body has two types of muscle fibers: fast and slow (there are actually increments of these but this is enough for our scope). Fast-twitch fibers are very strong but break down easily and take a long time to repair. This translates into soreness. By easing into a program, you rely on your slow-twitch fibers which aren’t as strong but recovery very quickly. Going full bore on Day 1 activates your fast-twitch fibers, and leads to extensive breakdown and soreness. The harder you go, the sorer you are likely to get because there is something called emergency fibers, the fastest of the fast, which can take two weeks to repair.

2. Minimize Eccentric Motion

Concentric contraction is the shortening of the muscle, while eccentric contraction is the lengthening part of the movement. DOMS is almost entirely related to the eccentric part of the movement. You might be asking yourself, can I do one without the other? Good question.

If you’re doing a biceps curl, the concentric part of the movement is when you move the weight up, while the eccentric part is the way down. In order to avoid the eccentric part, you need to drop your weight. This won’t make you very popular in a gym and might ruin your floor at home, so probably not a very helpful suggestion.

In other cases, avoiding eccentric motion can be impossible. Jumping, for instance, uses concentric force to get you elevated, at which point you need to land, which is eccentric. The only way to do concentric-only jumps is to jump onto a platform and then lightly step down. Again, not too practical.

You can, however, limit the amount of time you’re lengthening your muscles. Slowing down your concentric motions and returning to the start position very quickly, or eliminating the airborne portion of jump training, are good ways to mostly avoid eccentric motion with only slight modifications.

You may have noticed that a lot of very popular exercise programs actually target jumping and eccentric movements. That’s because training them is highly effective, just not until your body is in shape to handle it. Which it never will be unless you proceed slowly and carefully.

3. Hydrate

Dehydration can also make you sore. In fact, once you’re used to your workout program, nearly all excessive soreness is due to dehydration or nutritional deficiencies.

Most people are chronically dehydrated. In fact, you can actually get sore by simply being dehydrated, even without the exercise. Adding exercise increases your water needs. A lot. Hydration is your body’s first defense against, not only soreness, but also most illnesses and other maladies.

How much water you need varies depending on your activity level, lifestyle, where you live, etc., but an easy gauge to use is to drink half your body weight in ounces each day. That’s before you account for exercise. For each hour you work out, you should add another 32 ounces (on average). This, too, varies based on the individual, heat, humidity, exercise intensity, and so forth, but you probably get the idea. You need a lot of water for optimal performance.

Water isn’t the only factor in hydration. Electrolytes, or body salts, are also sweated out when you exercise and must be replaced. If you’re training an hour per day or less, you probably don’t need to worry about them unless your diet is very low in sodium.

It’s also possible to drink too much water, a condition called hyponatremia. While this is a deadly condition, it’s irrelevant for most of the population for most conditions. Hyponatremia is an imbalance of water and electrolytes. However, it’s very hard for normal humans to get hyponatremia in everyday circumstances because you have to drink a lot of water, have very little salt, and sweat profusely for a long time. So while it’s a very real danger for those doing Ironman triathlons or people stranded in deserts, it’s not a relevant concern for most of us. If you’ve been eating regularly, your foods contain some salt (most do), and you’re not exercising over an hour or two per day, it’s not something to worry about unless you’re drinking multiple gallons of water a day.

4. Get Postworkout Fuel

The hour after you finish exercising is your nutrition sweet spot. The quicker your muscles recover, the less sore you get, so you never want to skip your postworkout snack unless you’ve reached a point when you know you’re not going to get sore.

What this snack should consist of has been debated for ages but countless modern studies show that glycogen depletion (replenished quickest with simple carbohydrates), should be your primary concern. Glycogen is a fuel that your muscles store in limited amounts. When you run out of it during exercise, your workout goes south very quickly. When it’s gone, muscle damage increases until it’s been restored.

Protein, which repairs muscle tissue but is very slow to digest, replenishing body salts, and targeted micronutrients (aka vitamins), all come next.

Left out of this puzzle is fat, but not in all forms. Some studies show promise using medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) postexercise, though it’s probably too techie to bother with in this article because most consumable fat slows digestion of all nutrients, which should also be your first priority when excessive muscle tissue damage has been done.

What is debated, however, is what that ideal carb to protein ratio should be. It basically comes down to how depleted your glycogen stores are. The more depleted, the more important carbohydrates become in your replenishment strategy.

While you will learn to tell when your glycogen is gone (or low) through experience, keep this in mind for now: the body can store enough glycogen for about an hour of hard training. If your workouts are 30 minutes or less, you may not need any carbohydrates. Approach an hour and you probably need at least some.

It also matters what you’ve eaten during the day, prior to the workout. If you’re hungry at the start, it could be an indication that your glycogen is low. If you start low, you may run out quickly.

Glycogen depletion is characterized by feeling empty. If you hit a point in your workout where you feel like you can’t go on, or you’re performing worse than you had been, you’re likely out of glycogen. Known as bonking in sports circles, when this happens you’ll want to shut down a workout and fuel up ASAP.

When you’re out of glycogen, it’s most effectively replaced by a targeted recovery supplement, like Results and Recovery Formula. These are formulated using every nutrient your body can use for recovery. In lieu of that, almost anything carb heavy can be effective. Something like a small bowl of cereal, perhaps with a banana, is a decent substitute. Aim to consume between 100 and 250 calories, depending on your size and how difficult your workout was. More than that probably can’t be digested within an hour.

If your workout was short or didn’t seem to tax you too much, opting for a protein-based snack is a better choice. Whey protein, due to the quickness your body absorbs it, is the best option here, and it’s also where you might consider MCTs if you’re intrigued by them.

To read about what’s the best preworkout meal, check out my What Should You Eat Before Your Workout article.

5. Pick the Correct Workout Program

It’s worth noting that the more you stretch yourself with your choice of workout, program, or even each individual workout, the more you increase your chances of getting sore. The right program—or a trainer/coach—should ease you into exercise at a pace your body can handle, which is always the better choice. But, you know, whatever works for your psyche is probably what you’re going to choose. And that’s okay. Just be honest with yourself, and follow the rules above if you know you’re biting off a little more than you can chew.

What Happens If You Do Get Sore?

No matter how diligent we are, we all seem to mess this up, somehow, sometimes. Depending upon how much you skewed it, you can be back at full strength within a few days.

Occasionally—at least if you’re like me—you’ll go way beyond what you should have done. In such cases, you can be out up to a couple of weeks. Either way, these tips will help you get back on the fast track.

1. Move

The last thing you want to do, when everything hurts is to move. But that’s exactly what you need to do. While you won’t want to continue with your gung ho workouts, you’ll still want to exercise daily. How much you do depends upon how sore you are.

If you really overcooked it, and things like walking down stairs feel like a torture test (I’ve been there), you won’t want to do much beyond moving as much as you can. All movement promotes blood circulation, and the more blood you circulate around your body, the quicker you’ll heal.

If you have a more sensible soreness, you can do your workout at a modified pace or, better yet, choose a recovery workout. If you’re using a Beachbody program, it probably came with a recovery workout or two. These workouts are designed to help your body work out kinks and soreness better than doing nothing could ever hope to. They can be used anytime you need them, can’t be done too often, and always leave you feeling much better than before you started.

2. Use Circulation Techniques

You can also induce circulation with some other techniques, all of which will help. In extreme cases, physical therapists are loaded with various devices to aid recovery, but here are three you can do at home. While none of these will rid you of soreness alone, each one you can put into practice improves your chances of relief.

Ice and heat – Though ice slows circulation over time, it’s a fantastic circulation tool when used strategically. Your body is almost a hundred degrees. Rubbing ice on (or submerging for short periods of time) affected areas causes blood to rush from that area. Applying a little heat brings it back. It’s a bit like moving, without the movement.

Hot/cold showers – On the same theme, alternately turning your shower on hot, then cold, and pointing it at sore muscles causes a similar effect. The greater contrast between hot and cold you can stand, the greater the recovery effect.

Restoration poses – Also known as taking a load off, yoga restoration poses are a bit more targeted than just kicking it on the couch with your feet up, though some of the poses are very similar. These are movement-free poses designed to circulate blood in and out of targeted areas.

Nutrition – The better you eat, the better your body works, period. When you have excessive breakdown, which you do when you’re sore, every nutrient helps. It’s a common tendency to drown injuries (and soreness is a small injury) with alcohol and desserts. And while that may help your mental state, it will slow down your recovery.

What Not To Do If You’re Sore: Take NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)

In the “what doesn’t work” section, see vitamin I (street name for ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin). While they are a common tool for recovery and pain relief, especially for recreational athletes, studies have repeatedly shown that they don’t aid in muscle recovery and, in fact, may exacerbate muscle breakdown. Plus, they come with a slew of other side effects.

Therefore, they should be avoided as much as possible. Understandably, you may want to use them to mask the pain in the most acute stages. Just know that it’s masking, and not solving, the recovery process. There’s too much on this topic to go into here, so I’ve provided some studies (below) for the curious.

More Resources:

  • Donnelly AE, Maughan RJ, Whiting PH. Effects of ibuprofen on exercise-induced muscle soreness and indices of muscle damage.
  • Gorsline RT1, Kaeding CC. The use of NSAIDs and nutritional supplements in athletes with osteoarthritis: prevalence, benefits, and consequences.Clin Sports Med. 2005 Jan;24(1):71-82.
  • Rahnama N, Rahmani-Nia F, Ebrahim K. The isolated and combined effects of selected physical activity and ibuprofen on delayed-onset muscle soreness. Journal of Sports Science. 2005 Aug; 23(8): 843-50.
  • Trelle S1, Reichenbach S, Wandel S, Hildebrand P, Tschannen B, Villiger PM, Egger M, Jüni P. Cardiovascular safety of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: network meta-analysis.BMJ. 2011 Jan 11;342:c7086. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c7086.
  • Warden SJ. Prophylactic use of NSAIDs by athletes: a risk/benefit assessment. Phys Sportsmed. 2010 Apr;38(1):132-8. doi: 10.3810/psm.2010.04.1770.
  • Wharam PC, Speedy DB, Noakes TD, Thompson JM, Reid SA, Holtzhausen LM. NSAID use increases the risk of developing hyponatremia during an Ironman triathlon. Medicine and Science Sports and Exercise. 2006 Apr; 38(4): 618-22.