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Announcing: 3-Day Refresh Yoga

Are you feeling sluggish after a holiday meal or an indulgent vacation? Have you always wanted to try a cleanse, but are overwhelmed by the thought of starvation or don’t have any idea where to begin or how to prepare? 3-Day Refresh Yoga covers all the bases with an easy-to-follow nutrition plan and three gentle yoga workouts to help get you back on track in just three days.

 

What is the 3-Day Refresh?

The 3-Day Refresh is a specially-designed nutrition program of protein-packed shakes and easy-to-prepare vegan meals. The 3-Day Refresh program can help provide a gentle cleanse and help you get a clean break from bad eating habits, learn about clean eating, and kick-start weight loss. 3-Day Refresh is a simple, straightforward program that will help improve the way you feel – without starving yourself. In only three days, you may shed a few pounds and create new clean-eating habits that you can apply well beyond the three days of your cleanse. Check out these amazing 3-Day Refresh results!

 

What is 3-Day Refresh Yoga?

To enhance your 3-Day Refresh results, Beachbody created 3-Day Refresh Yoga, which is three yoga workouts designed to be performed while doing the 3-Day Refresh. Available on Beachbody on Demand starting December 4th, these 30- to 35-minute yoga workouts are taught by three of the yoga instructors from Beachbody’s 3 Week Yoga Retreat: Elise, Ted, and Vytas.

Whether you’re new to yoga or have been doing yoga for years, the three yoga routines featured in 3-Day Refresh Yoga can help calm the nervous system, encourage deep breathing and blood circulation, and enhance your mental focus. Each yoga workout ends with a short, guided meditation, so your 3-Day Refresh is supported in both body and mind. By pairing the 3-Day Refresh program with a three-day yoga and meditation series, you can be refreshed in three ways: nutritionally, physically, and mentally.

 

The 3-Day Refresh Yoga Classes Include:

Day 1: Chill Flow 35 minutes

Elise Joan is your instructor for this gentle flow yoga class that focuses on balance, flexibility, and relaxation. Elise specializes in how yoga can keep you grounded during busy times of the year, such as the holidays. The class ends with a short, guided meditation on intention.

Day 2: Restore and Stretch 30 minutes

Ted McDonald leads you through a restorative yoga class that aims to improve mobility and calm your nervous system. Ted is known for teaching yoga poses that improve mobility and flexibility in a fun, calming way. The class ends with a short, guided meditation on gratitude.

Day 3: Deep Focus 35 minutes

Vytas Baskauskas instructs a strength-based yoga class that focuses on flexibility. To prepare you for your final day of the program, this yoga expert ends the class with a short, guided meditation on grounding.

 

Who is 3-Day Refresh Yoga for?

Anyone looking to enhance the results of the 3-Day Refresh nutrition program. This program is suitable for all fitness levels.

 

What Equipment Will I Need?

For the yoga classes, you will need a yoga mat and optional yoga block. For the 3-Day Refresh nutrition program, you will need a shaker cup or blender.

 

How do I get the 3-Day Refresh Yoga classes?

They are exclusively available in the Member Library in Beachbody On Demand. Not a member of Beachbody On Demand? Sign up today!

 

Is the 3-Day Refresh nutrition program required to do the yoga classes?

No, any BOD member can access the workouts at any time. However, the yoga workouts are specifically designed to enhance your results from the 3-Day Refresh nutrition program.

Order your 3-Day Refresh today to start the program along with the 3-Day Refresh Yoga classes on December 4th, exclusively on Beachbody On Demand!

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This One Thing Can Help You Clean Up Your Diet

Everyone knows the formula for getting healthier: exercising more, cutting out unhealthy food, and adding healthier options to your diet. The easiest of the three is the latter, and incorporating Shakeology into your daily routine is a convenient and filling way to help check that box.

Your daily glass of Shakeology goes hand-in-hand with Beachbody’s beginner program Clean Week— a seven-day workout and nutrition program, featuring Beachbody Super Trainer, Megan Daviesdesigned to get you on track with health and fitness.

When you sign up for Clean Week on Beachbody On Demand, you receive a seven-day supply of Shakeology.

Shakeology is high protein, good-to-excellent source of fiber (depending on the flavor), low glycemic index (GI) shake that delivers vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, digestive enzymes, prebiotics, and probiotics.

This powerful superfood supplement shake can help you start to clean up your diet by helping to curb junk food cravings and satisfy hunger.*

 

How (and why) Shakeology Works

There are many factors that contribute to how a product affects appetite. In clinical studies, appetite is measured by surveys in which participants rate their desire to eat, hunger, fullness, and how much they think they could eat (a.k.a. prospective consumption) before and after consuming a test food or product. Decades of research has found that of the three macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates, and fat – protein is the clear winner when it comes to feeling satisfied from your food.

In addition to the macronutrients, consuming more fiber may also be associated with eating less and improved weight control, and clinical studies show fiber can increase the feeling of fullness and slow digestion, which are associated with increased satiety.

The great news? Shakeology is high in protein and a good to excellent source of fiber, so it is designed to help you feel more satiated than a less nutrient-dense option (i.e., something with the same amount of calories, but with fewer vitamins, minerals, macronutrients or phytonutrients).

To learn more about the benefits of Shakeology, we recently conducted an acute clinical trial of 41 overweight adults. The participants drank Chocolate Whey Shakeology on one visit, and a similar tasting shake on another visit. This placebo shake had the same amount of calories as Shakeology, but was very low in protein and fiber. On both visits, participants drank the shake, rated their appetite for 30 minutes, were then allowed to eat as much pizza as they desired over a 30 minute period (“meal”), and then did a final appetite rating.

The study results found, Shakeology significantly reduced participant desire to eat (58 percent more than the placebo shake), as well as reduced hunger (51 percent more than the placebo shake). Drinking Shakeology also tended to reduce how much pizza they ate during the meal. In the whole group, food consumed during the meal following Shakeology was about 89 fewer calories than when they had the placebo shake first, but this is only considered a statistical “trend” (p-value 0.05 – <0.1). However, in those age 25 and over (22 participants), this difference was considered statistically significant.

The take-home message is: for the same amount of calories (in this case, both shakes were 160 calories) Shakeology was able to help people feel less hungry and have less desire to eat when consumed 30 minutes before a meal. This suggests that Shakeology can fill you up, which may help you feel less tempted to cheat on your diet later.*

 

What Are Cravings?

Let’s talk about cravings. We all get them at one point or another, but they seem to happen more often when we’re trying to clean up our diet. The reasons can be both physiological and psychological, but the outcome is the same – giving in to unhealthy cravings can be a big blow to the progress you’ve made.

The dense nutrition in Shakeology can help reduce junk food cravings.* We conducted a survey of 2,769 Shakeology users, including Independent Team Beachbody Coaches, who drank Shakeology five or more times per week and exercised at least three times per week. Eighty-one percent of the participants felt Shakeology helped reduce their cravings for junk food.

 

Shakeology and Overall Health

Lastly, I want to touch on the benefits of Shakeology in relation to general health. Shakeology is tested by an independent third-party lab as “low glycemic”. The Glycemic Index (GI) measures the effect of a food (or supplement) on blood glucose. Low GI foods release their carbohydrates slowly and elicit a lower blood glucose response.

This helps avoid a large spike in blood sugar and the “crash”, or dip in blood glucose levels below baseline, that often follows. If this weren’t benefit enough, low GI products may also help with staying fuller longer (satiety).

When we talk about the dense nutrition of Shakeology, we’re talking about all of the benefits packed into a 140 – 170 calorie shake: the ratio of protein to carbohydrate (~1:1), the combination and amounts of protein and fiber, the antioxidants from vitamins A, C and E, and the ingredients that support digestive health (fiber, prebiotics, probiotics, digestive enzymes).

The whey flavors of Shakeology also contain a specially designed vitamin and mineral blend with bioavailable forms of key nutrients like folate and vitamin B12. Put it all together, and you can see why we say this is the easiest thing you can add to your routine to help you start to clean up your diet.

 

Changing Your Habits With Clean Week and Shakeology

Cleaning up your diet and jump-starting your healthy lifestyle takes commitment, but we are here to provide you with tools for success. Making positive change requires that you minimize the effort it takes to make those changes – the easier you make it for yourself, the greater your probability of success. Whatever habit you want to make, you have to think about how to make it as easy as possible for yourself to do it.

In his book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor describes the 20 second rule – making the desired habit your path of least resistance, or the easiest option. Make what you want to do readily available, and make a bad habit at least 20 seconds harder to accomplish.

We can use Shakeology as an example: If you want to make a habit of getting Your Daily Dose of Dense Nutrition®, make it easy. Decide you are going to drink Shakeology at a certain time of the day, every day.

Put your blender out on the counter with your bag of Shakeology next to it and any add-ins you like to use, like bananas or boosts (such as Power GreensDigestive Health, or Focused Energy) formulated perfectly to mix with your Shakeology shake.

If you want to discourage a habit – say snacking on chips – move the chips at least 20 seconds out of where they would normally be. Maybe you move them from your pantry to the closet of an upstairs bedroom.

Not only will you have to climb a flight of stairs to get them (bonus calorie burn!), you have time to reflect on your choice as you make the effort to get to the chips.

Lifestyle change does not happen overnight, but adding Shakeology to your day, along with following the Clean Week workout and nutrition program, can help you take those first few steps — which are often the hardest — to creating and maintaining healthy habits for life.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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Anaerobic vs. Aerobic Exercise: Which Burns Fat Faster?

It’s Friday night and you’ve got a choice. Before you meet up with your friends, do you do fit in a TurboFire workout or take the dog for a leisurely run?

You know your buddy would love the extra attention, but taking the slow-and-steady route feels a little like cheating. When you push through a fast and furious HIIT workout you can really feel the burn. All the sweating and heavy breathing must mean it’s a better workout, right?

Not necessarily. The difference between high intensity interval training and a brisk jog is a matter of anaerobic vs. aerobic exercise. Your body can benefit from both, but the one on which you should focus depends on your goals.

 

Anaerobic vs. Aerobic Exercise: What’s the Difference?

The textbook distinction between aerobic and anaerobic exercise is whether or not oxygen is used to produce the energy required for the effort. “During aerobic exercise, the body relies primarily on oxygen to produce energy,” says Beachbody Senior Fitness and Nutrition Content Manger Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S. “During anaerobic exercise, it doesn’t.”

In practical terms, whether or not an exercise is aerobic or anaerobic hinges on its duration and intensity. According to kinesiologist Frances Lee Smith, M.S., PN1, anaerobic exercises “can only be done in repeated, short bursts, and requires a decent amount of recovery [between them].” To work at this level you’ll go hard for each burst of activity, working at a pace you can maintain for up to two minutes. Examples of anaerobic exercise include HIIT, plyometric exercises, and weightlifting. Most programs on Beachbody on Demand can be classified as primarily anaerobic.

Aerobic exercises, meanwhile, are generally performed “at a low or moderate pace for an extended period of time,” says Smith. In practice, that usually includes activities lasting longer than two to three minutes, and generally encompasses what trainers refer to as low-intensity exercise and steady-state cardio. Examples include walking, cycling, and long distance running.

To be clear, the body never relies exclusively on aerobic or anaerobic energy production. “It uses three different systems to produce energy — two are anaerobic, and one is aerobic — and they’re all in operation all of the time, regardless of whether you’re walking your dog, swimming laps, performing intervals on a track, or pumping iron,” says Thieme, adding that all three also shift into a higher gear when you begin to exercise. “But the intensity and duration of each bout of effort determines which system is emphasized.”

When you begin to exercise, your body can’t immediately meet your energy needs with its current supply of available oxygen, so it uses anaerobic respiration (also called “anaerobic metabolism”), to make up the shortfall, which known as the “oxygen deficit.”

If you’re doing repeated bouts of short-duration work (sprint intervals, squats, curls, etc.) anaerobic respiration remains your primary method of energy production. The reason is that its production speed is very fast — indeed much faster than aerobic respiration — allowing it to meet the immediate, high demand for energy from your muscles. But if your exercise bout lasts longer than two or three minutes, aerobic metabolism (which has a greater production capacity but slower production speed ) has time to get up to speed, and it takes over.

Here’s an overview of how the three energy systems (phosphagen, glycolitic, and oxidative) come into play during exercise.

Energy System Use by Exercise Intensity and Duration

Intensity Duration Energy System Used
Extremely high 0–6 seconds Phosphagen (Anaerobic)
Very high 6–30 seconds Phosphagen and Glycolitic (Anaerobic)
High 30 seconds to 2 minutes Glycolytic (Anaerobic)
Moderate 2–3 minutes Glycolytic and Oxidative (Aerobic)
Low 3 minutes + Oxidative (Aerobic)

 

Anaerobic vs. Aerobic Exercise: Which Is Better for Your Goals?

“I would recommend a mix of everything,” says Smith. “It’s important to tax the heart and the body in different ways,” she says. That means a balanced exercise program for general fitness should include both anaerobic and aerobic activities, as they tend to build different skills and produce different results. Anaerobic exercises typically enhance muscle strength, power, and size, as well as overall speed. Aerobic exercises typically help build endurance and have a greater affect on cardiovascular health.

Even if you’re focused on goals that are aerobic in nature, like running a half-marathon, doing anaerobic exercise can help you perform better. Strength training, for instance, can help runners improve their speed, economy, power output, time to exhaustion, and potentially even VO2 max — not to mention decrease their risk of injury. If your primary focus is strength training, meanwhile, performing light aerobic exercise between workouts can help optimize your recovery.

If your goal is weight loss, however, the exercise type that science recommends might surprise you: Anaerobic. “Studies show that anaerobic exercise typically produces greater fat loss than aerobic exercise, and that’s largely because it keeps your metabolism elevated for longer after you work out,” says Thieme.

That idea bucks popular (non-science based) wisdom, which holds that slow and steady exercise wins the fat loss race. But if you think back to the idea of creating an oxygen deficit, it begins to make sense. When you perform anaerobic exercise, you never make up that initial oxygen deficit by switching over to aerobic metabolism, as you would during, say, a distance run. In fact, your oxygen deficit compounds, ultimately becoming an oxygen debt. The process of repaying that debt keeps your body’s metabolism elevated for hours (or even days, according to some studies) after you stop working out.

The white coats call this phenomenon excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. You might know it as the “afterburn effect.” Either way, the bottom line is this: Aerobic exercise might burn more calories during a workout simply because such workouts tend to last longer, but anaerobic exercise typically burns more calories overall, because it keeps your metabolism elevated for much longer after you’re done.

 

How to Use the Talk Test to Tell Whether Your Workout Is Aerobic or Anaerobic
anaerobic vs aerobic man doing dips woman running

To be clear, a heart rate monitor is the most accurate way to determine if you’re exercising in the anaerobic or aerobic zone. “Once you push past 80 percent of your maximum heart rate, you’re anaerobic,” says Thieme.

If you don’t own or have access to a heart rate monitor, try the talk test. “If you find it difficult to speak even in short sentences, or if you would rate your exertion 15 or higher on a scale of 20, you’re exercising anaerobically,” says Thieme. If you can carry on a conversation, you’re working aerobically.

In practice, that might mean dialing back your pace if you find it difficult to speak during a nine-mile run, or going a little harder if you’re able to talk politics with your buddy during a FOCUS T25 workout. But don’t forget that, as always, your fitness level is a key factor. Smith says, “If you’re new to fitness, jumping right into a series of 40-yard sprints isn’t advised. But doing a 20-minute jog might be doable.”

Your goal is to walk the line between pushing yourself hard enough to optimize your progress and pushing yourself so hard that end up sidelined by overtraining. “The talk test will help keep you on track,” says Thieme.

Anaerobic vs. Aerobic Exercise: Which Burns Fat Faster?

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10 of the Best Hip Stretches Ever

Life in the 21st century has given us many things: cheap communication… electric cars… personalized entertainment…

And tight hips.

Consider: all of the time you spend online (over 10 hours a day, by some estimates) — whether you’re drafting spreadsheets, posting on Instagram, or watching BatDad vine compilations — is also spent in a chair. That’s a lot of time for your hip joints to be stuck in a single position.

That’s a problem. “Elongated periods of sitting sends messages to certain muscles to stay turned on which keeps other muscles turned off,” says Beachbody fitness expert Cody Braun. “This creates an imbalance, which can immobilize your hips.” Your hips are built to move in almost any direction, explains Braun, and when they’re stiff, they don’t just make exercise more difficult; they also make you more prone to pain in surrounding joints — including the oft-troublesome lower back.

If, like most of us, your hip joints could use some TLC, help has arrived. All you need to do is spend a moment or two before and after your workouts — or, heck, while watching TV — on a time-honored fitness activity that few of us do enough of: stretching. Below, we’ll show you some of the best hip stretches to improve flexibility and mobility, hopefully making up for all that time on the couch.

 

Why Hip Mobility Is Important

Quick physiology lesson: when a joint becomes stiff and immobile, the joint above and below it moves to compensate. So if you can’t move your hips, you’ll move your lower back instead.

Know anyone with lower back pain?

Oh, that’s right — the overwhelming majority of Americans has lower back pain. If that includes you, you may benefit from making some or all of the hip stretches below part of your regular routine.

But mobile hip joints don’t just relieve pain. They’re also essential for walking, hiking, running, jumping, dancing, playing sports, and pursuing virtually any fitness goal safely and effectively. Want to develop stronger, more muscular legs? Hip mobility allows you to lunge and squat more deeply so you can reach your muscles’ potential. Want to avoid injury? Hip mobility improves range of motion so you can perform exercises more safely.

 

Anatomy of the Hips

The pelvis, that sturdy, bony structure that houses your hip joints, is the Grand Central Station of the body: dozens of different muscles, nerves, and tendons attach to and pass through it. The main ones you’ll focus on in your hip stretches are:

hip stretches muscles anatomyHip flexors

These muscles extend roughly from your spine to your thighs. Their main job is to pull your thighs toward your chest. When they’re tight, they can pull the front of your pelvis downward, causing strain and pain in your lower back.

Hamstrings

This muscle group, including the biceps femoris muscle, runs along the backs of your thighs from your hips to your knees. Your hams oppose your quadriceps, bending your knee and helping to extend (straighten) your hip joints behind you.

Adductors

Located on the insides of your thighs, these muscles squeeze your legs together, and can cause tightness and limitation when you step laterally (sideways).

Glutes

The butt muscles work along with the hamstrings to extend, or straighten, your hips, and, with the aid of the abductors on the outsides of your hips, raise your legs out to the sides.

Stretch these four main areas to help increase mobility, and you’ll be good to go.

 

2 Main Types of Stretching and When to Use Them

The 10 hip stretches below, all culled from the extensive library of full-body workout programs available at Beachbody on Demand, offer two different stretching techniquesdynamic and static stretches, which you should use at different times.

Dynamic stretching

These are large, full-range movements of one or more joints at once, often performed standing and sometimes while walking or jogging. They resemble old-school movements you might have done in calisthenics or gym class: arm swings, leg swings, high-knee walks. You usually count off reps, rather than time, on dynamic stretches, which work best as a warm-up activity before a workout, or any time you need a pick-me-up boost throughout the day.

Static stretching

These movements are slower and mellower; they’re the reach-and-hold stretches you might see in a basic yoga or stretching class. Forward bends, knees-wide butterfly stretches, the pigeon, or the figure 4 pose in yoga are classic examples.

Often you’ll perform static stretches seated or lying down, and focus on breathing slowly and deeply to facilitate relaxation — sometimes for several minutes at a time. Static stretches can be very effective at loosening you up, but they also inhibit performance in the stretched muscles for a short time afterwards. So they’re best reserved for after a workout, or as an any-time stress reliever — just not right before a workout involving the muscles you’re stretching.

 

10 of the Best Pre- and Post-Workout Hip Stretches

Together with a healthy diet and a great workout program, the following hip stretches will leave you feeling and looking your best.

Seated Leg Cradle

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Type of Stretch: Static

Benefits: Lengthens and relieves tension in the glutes, adductors, and hamstrings.

Appears in: Yoga Studio – Hip Opening With Faith

• Sit on the floor with both legs extended straight in front of you, feet flexed.

• Keeping your back straight, draw your right knee toward your chest, and try one or more of the following variations:

  1. Holding your right knee in your right hand, grab your right ankle with your left hand and draw it toward your chest as far as you can.
  2. Draw your right ankle toward your chest and rest your lower leg inside the creases of your elbows, bending them to draw your leg as close as you can to your chest.
  3. Draw your right ankle toward your chest and wrap your arms around the lower leg, interlacing your fingers with your knee inside the crease of your right elbow and your foot inside the crook of your left. Hug your lower leg toward your chest as far as you can.

• Keeping your back flat, your chest up, and both feet flexed, rock slightly left and right.

• Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

 

Standing Butterfly Lift

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Type of stretch: Dynamic

Benefits: Activates the glutes while improving mobility in the hip capsule (the ligament that attaches the leg to the pelvis) and adductors.

Appears in: Yoga Studio – Get Well Rounded With Elise

• Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart about 18 inches behind two yoga blocks positioned on the floor at the tallest height.

• Hinge forward at your hips and place your hands on the blocks. (If that’s too difficult, use a taller surface like a chair instead.)

• Bend your right knee, pulling your heel towards your right glute, and keep it there throughout the set. This is your starting position.

• Keeping your back flat and standing leg straight, lift your right knee as far out to your right side as you can.

• Reverse the move, lowering your right knee until it’s close to your left.

• Repeat for 10-12 controlled repetitions, then repeat on your other side.

 

Frog Alternate Legs

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Type of stretch: Dynamic

Benefits: Stretches the adductors and improves mobility in the hip capsule.

Appears in: Shift Shop – Shift Mobility

• Lie facedown, bend your knees about 90 degrees, and spread them as wide as you can. Fold your hands under your forehead to relax your upper body.

• Keeping your knees bent, slowly roll your right thigh inward, lowering your right foot toward the floor.

• Try to tap your right foot on the floor, and reverse the move, repeating on your other side.

• Continue slowly alternating sides for 30 seconds.

 

Batakatasana

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Type of stretch: Static

Benefits: Lengthens the adductors and reduces tension along the entire spine and back of the neck.

Appears in: 21 Day Fix – Yoga

• Sit on the floor upright with your legs bent, the soles of your feet together, and your knees spread wide.

• Keeping your knees spread as wide as possible, take hold of your feet and slowly pull your forehead towards the floor.

• Hold this stretched position for 30-60 seconds.

 

Scorpion

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Type of stretch: Dynamic

Benefits: Stretches the quads and hip flexors, and activates the glutes.

Appears in: P90X3 – Dynamix

• Lie on your stomach, with your legs straight, and arms extended out to the sides, forming a “T.” Your palms should face down.

• Keeping your left leg straight, lift your right leg off the floor, bend your right knee, and cross your right foot behind your left, continuing up toward your left hand.

• Try to tap your left hand with your right foot, and return to the starting position.

• Continue for 30 seconds, and repeat on your other side.

 

Runner’s Lunge

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Type of stretch: Static or dynamic, depending on how long you hold the position.

Benefits: Stretches the adductors and glutes.

Appears in: 21 Day Fix Extreme – Yoga Fix Extreme

• Assume a pushup position: hands and balls of your feet on the floor, both shoulder-width apart, and your body straight from head to heels.

• Step your right foot to a point just outside your right hand. (Your right knee should be near your right shoulder.) If possible, lower your elbows to the floor.

• Hold for 15 seconds, and reverse the move to return to the starting position

• Repeat the entire sequence on your other side.

 

Sumo Reach

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Type of stretch: Dynamic/static

Benefits: Strengthens the glutes and shoulders, stretches the adductors, opens the hip joints, and rib cage.

Appears in: Insanity – Max Recovery

• Assume a wide stance, turning both feet out about 45 degrees.

• Keeping your torso upright, and your core engaged, bend your knees and lower your trunk as you extend both arms straight out to the sides, palms down, forming a “T.”

• Perform three pulses downward, sinking more deeply into this wide-stance (“sumo”) squat each time.

• Keeping your back long and your arms straight, bend your torso to the left as far as you can, and try to place your left palm on the floor near the inside of your left foot.

• Look up at your right palm and hold the position for a 5- to 10-count.

• Brace your core to return to the starting position, and perform the entire sequence on your other side.

 

Inner Thigh stretch

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Type of stretch: Static

Benefits: Lengthens the adductors and hamstrings.

Appears in: TurboFire – Stretch 40

• Sit on the floor with your right leg straight, your left knee bent and your left foot flat on the floor.

• Loop a strap around the arch of your right foot, and lie back as you raise your right leg straight overhead. This is your starting position.

• Lower your left knee outward toward the floor as far as you can, as if performing a half-butterfly stretch.

• Holding the ends of the strap in your right hand, pull it back until you feel a deep stretch in the back of your right thigh and, keeping your right leg straight, slowly lower it out to the right as far as possible.

• Place your left hand on the inside of your left knee and gently press it downward toward the floor, holding for 30 seconds.

• Slowly bring your right leg and left knee back to the starting position, and repeat the entire sequence on your other side.

 

Groiner

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Type of stretch: Dynamic

Benefits: Stretches the glutes, adductors, and hip flexors.

Appears in: P90X3 – Dynamix

• Assume a pushup position: hands and balls of your feet on the floor, both shoulder-width apart, and your body straight from head to heels.

• Step your right foot to a point just outside your right hand.

• Sink into the move for a one-count, lowering your hips as far as possible.

• Return your foot to the starting position.

• Continue for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Too tough? Perform the move with your hands elevated on yoga blocks.

 

World’s Greatest Stretch

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Type of stretch: Static

Benefits: Lengthens the hip flexors, adductors, chest, and rib cage.

Appears in: Clean Week: Mobility

• Start in a deep lunge with your right foot forward, your left knee and top of your left foot on the floor behind you, and your palms about hip distance apart on the floor inside your right foot.

• Keeping your back flat and both arms straight, lift your right hand up toward the ceiling as high as you can, twisting your torso into your right knee.

• Hold for 10 seconds, then return your right hand to the floor.

• Maintaining the same position in your lower body, lift your left arm up towards the ceiling in the same manner.

• Hold for 10 seconds, then slowly return your left hand to the floor.

• Switch sides, and repeat the sequence.

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7 Common Low-Carb Diet Mistakes

There’s an equal amount of confusion and hype surrounding a low-carb diet.

Research shows low-carb diets can be an effective way to shed pounds — although not necessarily superior to weight-reduction results achieved by other diets, such as a low-fat or reduced-calorie diets.

But a low-carb diet plan isn’t as straightforward as the name might have you believe.

“A low-carbohydrate diet can have a wide, unclear definition,” says Holly Klamer, M.S., R.D., “but in general terms, it means following a diet that has less than 45–65 percent of [total daily] calories from carbohydrates.”

(For reference, the recommended carbohydrate range for adults, according to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, is 45–65 percent of total daily calories.)

Some low-carb diets, like the modern Atkins diet, for example, limits trans fat and sugar in addition to carbs, while a ketogenic diet drastically reduces carbs and replaces them with fats.

In general, however, most low-carb diets focus on limiting refined grains and starches (like white bread, pasta, and potatoes) in favor of lean protein, whole grains, non-starchy veggies, and low-glycemic fruits.

But with so much varying information out there, it can be easy to misinterpret a low-carb diet or to implement its principles in an extreme or unsustainable way.

The intention behind the diet — to reduce the amount of unhealthy carbs you consume on a regular basis — isn’t inherently a bad idea, but you need to be smart about how you execute it. Here are seven common mistakes to avoid.

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7 Common Low-Carb Diet Mistakes

 

1. Ignoring the nutritional value of carbs

Carbs aren’t the enemy. There are plenty of nutritious and super yummy carbohydrates you can and should be eating in moderation. Think: fruit, whole grainsbeans, and vegetables, to name a few.

These foods provide our bodies with the natural, sustained energy we need to function and stay active. “A carbohydrate-dense fruit such as a banana can give you the fuel you need to increase the intensity of your workout; [you might] burn more calories [as a result],” says Klamer.

High-quality carbs are also chockful of vital nutrients like B vitamins, potassium, fiber, and vitamin C. Klamer says reducing your carbohydrate intake to super low levels puts you at risk for deficiencies in these areas.

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2. Eating too much unhealthy fat

Eating low-carb isn’t an excuse to go nuts on beef, pork, eggs, butter, cheese, and other foods with high trans or saturated fat content.

Eating a diet high in trans fat isn’t heart-healthy, says Sharon George, M.S., R.D., C.D.N. Consuming high levels of trans fat may cause your liver to produce more LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol.

According to the American Heart Association, too much “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and not enough “good” cholesterol (HDL) may put you at risk for certain types of disease.

In fact, one study carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health found that a low-carb diet high in animal protein (dairy and meat) was associated with higher all-cause mortality, while a low-carb diet high in plant protein (veggies, tofu, lentils, etc.) and lower in trans fat was associated with lower all-cause mortality rates.

Monitoring saturated fat intake is also an approach to maintaining good cardiovascular health. One review of research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated the issue of what to replace saturated fat with in the diet.

Researchers found that substituting saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats and limiting consumption of refined carbohydrates may be beneficial for overall health.

The overall takeaway: Cut back on trans and saturated fat consumption, while also reducing refined carbs (think: white bread, pasta, rice, sugary pastries, cookies, etc.).

Instead, eat healthy fats, such as mono- and polyunsaturated fats, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Great sources of these types of fats include salmon, flaxseeds, walnuts, avocados, seeds, nuts, and extra-virgin olive oil.

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3. Misunderstanding portion sizes

If you don’t have a basic idea of portion sizes — say, what a single portion of brown rice or steel-cut oats actually looks like — you’re likely to either over- or underestimate how much food you need.

Understanding portion sizes can help prevent overeating while also ensuring you consume enough nutrients to fuel your body properly.

(Pro tip: For a crash course in proper portion sizes, Portion Fix’s color-coded containers make it super easy to meal plan and lose weight.)

Denis Faye, M.S. and Beachbody’s executive director of nutrition, says the Portion Fix plan advocates for a healthy balance of macronutrients: 30 percent of your total daily calories from protein, 30 percent from healthy fats, and 40 percent from carbs — the majority of which should be unprocessed and unrefined.

“By going with 40 percent carbs, we’re able to make the majority of carbs [in the plan] produce-based without crushing people [who are] new to healthy eating under a kale, broccoli, and mixed-berry avalanche,” says Faye.

There are three containers for carbs in the system: Purple is for fruits, green is for veggies, and yellow is for other carbs like whole grains. You fill each one up with its corresponding foods anywhere from two to six times a day, depending on your predetermined calorie target range; no measuring or overthinking necessary.

Faye also notes that the 40 percent carbs guideline isn’t a hard-and-fast rule: “Starting your diet at 40 percent carbs allows you to experiment and increase your carbs to a level that best works for you, which is much easier than trying to slowly reduce carbs to find your sweet spot,” he explains.

 

4. Eating too much protein

“Getting enough protein is hugely important for both health reasons and because it aids muscle recovery,” says Faye. (Protein breaks down into amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle.)

Eating less carbs certainly means you’ll need to eat more protein (especially if you want to crush your workouts), but it’s important not to go overboard.

“When [your] carbohydrate intake is significantly decreased, the body starts breaking down stored carbohydrate sources [glycogen, for energy],” says Klamer. “When these stores get depleted, the body will start altering fat and protein to make carbohydrates.”

Gluconeogenesis (which means “creating new sugar”) is the metabolic process by which the liver converts non-carbohydrate sources (like fats, amino acids, and lactate) into glucose to regulate blood sugar levels.

Gluconeogenesis usually occurs when your body doesn’t have sufficient carbohydrates to properly fuel your brain and muscles.

Amino acids (the building blocks of protein) can’t be stored for long-term energy, which means the body has to convert this excess protein into either glucose or fat storage, possibly negating the effect of eating low-carb and making it more difficult to lose weight.

To avoid getting too much of a good thing, aim for protein to make up a solid 30 percent of your diet, not half. For ideas, check out these healthy, high-protein snacks for when you’re on the go.

 

5. Not considering activity level when determining carb intake

“Carbs are fuel. They’re massively important and the body is super efficient at processing them, which is a blessing and a curse,” says Faye. “If you get the right amount [of carbs], they’re the ideal fuel for exercise, health — even for fueling your brain.”

But what’s the ideal amount? That depends, in part, on your level of activity and how much weight you want to lose. If you exercise a few times a week and make a point to move often throughout the day, you probably don’t need more than 40 percent of your daily calories from carbs. This amount ensures you get enough carbs to energize and fuel your body, but not so many that you can’t burn them off through regular exercise and your daily 10,000 steps.

Just remember, the carbs you eat should be of the clean, whole-grain variety: fruit, vegetables, quinoa, sweet potatoes, or wild rice, for example.

 

6. Eating too many carbs

Just as it’s possible to eat too few carbs when starting a low-carb diet, it’s also possible to eat too many.

What constitutes an excess of carbs varies for each individual depending on metabolism and activity level, but in general, consuming more than 45 percent of your total daily calories from carbs isn’t technically a low-carb diet plan, according to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

If carbs make up half or the majority of your food consumption, you may be missing out on other essential macronutrients like lean protein and healthy fats. Protein is necessary for building muscle, and healthy fats provide our bodies with energy, aid in nutrient absorption, and facilitate cell growth and function.

 

7. Eating too many processed low-carb foods

Just because a food is low-carb doesn’t mean it’s automatically healthy. Highly processed foods like bacon, certain deli meats, and low-carb snack bars don’t have many carbohydrates, but they’re often loaded with excess sodium, trans fats, and other additives.

Eating low-carb foods with refined and processed ingredients may not provide you with the nutrients you need to feel satisfied and energized. Before you load your shopping cart or plate with any item that has a low-carb label, consider the quality of the food in front of you.

If a food contains refined grains, artificial additives, added sugar, or ingredients you can’t pronounce or wouldn’t cook with at home, it’s probably highly processed.

Whenever possible, choose whole or minimally processed carbs. “Naturally occurring carbohydrates like the ones found in whole foods such as whole grains, dairy like yogurt and milk, and fruits and vegetables, provide important nutrients,” says Gorin.

 

How to Reduce Your Carb Intake in a Healthy Way

 

Go slow

Adopting new eating habits takes time and patience, which is why it’s important to go slowly and be realistic about your expectations for weight loss.

“Many people get discouraged when starting a low-carb diet because it can take weeks to see results [from actual fat loss],” says George. Though you might see a lower number on the scale in the first week of eating low-carb, this change is probably a result of losing water weight.

The process of shedding fat and gaining muscle, however, might be more gradual. If that’s the case, remember that slow and steady wins the race.

 

Cut back on less-healthy carbs first

“If you’re looking to reduce carbohydrate intake,” says Gorin, “I recommend reducing the types of carbs that aren’t beneficial — [like] processed foods that contain added sugars and refined [grains].”

Items such as soda, candy, desserts, chips, and other processed foods don’t supply your body with enough vital nutrients. You don’t need to completely nix these foods from your diet, though (unless you want to!).

Instead, aim to enjoy them sparingly and with smart modifications. With Beachbody’s Portion Fix Eating Plan, for example, you can indulge in the occasional treat made at home using whole foods and natural ingredients, such as unsweetened applesauce, pure maple syrup, or extra-virgin coconut oil, to make treats like peanut butter chocolate chip cookiesstrawberry lemonade bars, or red velvet cupcakes.

 

Eat carbs with more nutritional value

“If you are choosing to eat less carbs, it is important to make the carbs you do eat as nutritious as possible,” says Klamer. Try to eat low-glycemic, high-fiber carbs whenever you can.

Low-glycemic carbs such as legumesnutssweet potatoes, berries, and green apples help stabilize blood sugar levels and provide longer-lasting energy, says Klamer.

For more fiber and nutrients, Klamer recommends whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, and brown or wild rice. Other fiber-rich foods include black beans, lentilsbroccolibarley, artichokes, and raspberries.

(Pro tip: Need ideas on how to lose weight and get fit? Download our free “100 Ways to Lose Weight” guide here!)

 

High-Quality, Nutrient-Rich Carbs

Not sure which carbs to enjoy? Here are some examples of totally delicious and Portion Fix-approved carbs to add to your diet:

*Yellow container:

  • Sweet potato
  • Quinoa
  • Beans (kidney, black, garbanzo, white, lima, fava, etc.)
  • Lentils
  • Edamame
  • Peas
  • Brown rice
  • Wild rice
  • Potato, mashed or ½ medium
  • Corn on the cob, 1 ear
  • Oatmeal, rolled
  • Pasta, whole-grain
  • Couscous, whole wheat
  • Bread, whole-grain, 1 slice
  • Pita bread, whole wheat, 1 small slice (4-inch)
  • Bagel, whole-grain, ½ small bagel (3-inch)
  • Tortilla, whole wheat, 1 small (6-inch)

*Green and purple containers:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Peppers (sweet)
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Winter squash
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Orange
  • Mango
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple
  • Figs

 

The 20-Second Takeaway

Many people who start low-carb diets take them to extreme measures, and can end up drastically reducing their carb intake, consuming large amounts of unhealthy fats, or not incorporating enough nutrient-rich carb sources into their meals.

That doesn’t mean low-carb diets are bad, though — they can be an effective weight-loss strategy, but you need to be thoughtful about the approach you take.

In general, focus on limiting processed and refined carbs, and eating more high-quality carbs from whole grains, fruits, and veggies. You’ll gradually lose weight and get all the nutrients you body needs to thrive.

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How to Start Losing Weight

Do you find that you go from inspired to apathetic in a matter of days when it comes to losing weight? This is the plight many of us face. We want to lose weight, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

Inspired to finally make a change, many of us end up following an all-or-nothing approach to weight loss that’s not sustainable. Research shows that having clear objectives is one of the best tools one can have when starting a weight-loss program. This means putting some work in on the front end of your journey in order to make way for the path of least resistance.

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Being sensible about what to keep and what to toss from your pantry and consuming the correct portion sizes are a few of the moves you can make. You should also be sure to have comfortable workout clothes and footwear at the ready, and know how you’re going to track your progress. That might mean purchasing a scale, heart rate monitor, or body fat tester.

No matter what your objectives are, educating yourself and laying some groundwork, rather than blindly jumping in, can clear a path for success. Read on for no-nonsense advice on how to reach your goals.

 

Start with These 4 Steps

There’s no getting around the fact that we live in a fast-paced, competitive world. We are pretty much all guilty of taking on more than we should at times. We try to be superstar parents, spouses, and employees all at once. And we want our houses to be clean and our bodies to be in shape as well despite the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day.

What’s the first thing to fall to the wayside amidst this chaos? For most of us, it’s taking care of ourselves.

Finding time to take on something like weight loss can feel akin to preparing to climb Mount Everest. While it might not require you to withstand blizzards, avalanches, and 200-mile-per-hour freezing winds as you make your way to 29,000 feet, losing weight comes with its own set of considerable challenges.

Social media, magazines, and even your physician can all offer useful weight loss tips, but properly executing them is easier said than done. To be sure, you wouldn’t attempt to climb a mountain without some forethought and preparation. In the same way, laying out a detailed plan of attack for weight loss is essential to your success.

This plan should include everything from what and how much you’re going to eat, how you’re going to track your progress, and what gear you’ll need to make it all happen. Think of this as building your basecamp before pushing toward the summit. Read on for a breakdown of all the things you should consider to ensure a successful climb.

 

Determine daily calorie intake

Pinning down how many calories you should consume is half the battle when you consider the fact that all calories aren’t created equal. Unfortunately, 500 calories of deep-fried cheese curds is not equivalent to 500 calories of raw vegetables. That’s why figuring out what your macros, a.k.a. macronutrient intake, should be similarly important.

Macros include proteincarbohydrates, and fats. While tracking the rough percentage of daily calories you get from each macronutrient group takes a bit more planning than simply determining how many calories you should take in to maintain health and lose weight, it gives you more direction on what exactly to eat.

To determine your daily caloric needs for weight loss, consult the Beachbody program guide, available on Beachbody on Demand, which will walk you through a (simple) mathematical equation to determine your daily calorie range for weight loss.

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Once you’ve crunched the numbers, consider getting your hands on Beachbody’s Portion Fix Containers to take the guess work out of how much of each macronutrient you should eat each day to lose weight. Instead of weighing your food or constantly counting the grams of carbs, protein, and fat listed on nutrition labels, simply pop your food into these containers before plating your meal, and you’re good to go. You can follow the Beachbody Portion Fix Eating Plan, which outlines how many macros you can have each day, or follow the nutrition plans that accompany the Beachbody program you choose.

The Portion Fix Eating Plan includes tally sheets for you to keep track of how many containers of each type (carbs, protein, fats) you’ve eaten. Another option is to download one of the many nutrition apps that can help you track your intake. Why track your calories and macros? Research has shown that people who kept a food diary lost nearly twice as much weight as people who didn’t.

Before you start a new diet, it can also be helpful to track your current eating habits for two weeks so that you can spot any unhealthy trends. Maybe you’ve been slamming an extra sugary coffee drink or indulging in dessert after dinner more days of the week than you even realized. Identifying the things you need to change gives you direction as you decide on a diet plan that will work for you.

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Track Your Progress 

There’s a good reason one of the most oft-cited weight loss tips involves tracking your progress. When we see real, tangible movement in the direction of our goals, we tend to be more motivated to keep putting in the work necessary to achieve them. While it’s unhealthy to obsess over how much and how fast you’re losing weight, setting some benchmarks can be helpful.

There are countless ways to monitor your weight loss. This might mean weighing yourself regularly or taking your measurements at predictable intervals. It could also involve a pair of skinny jeans, a wedding dress, or another garment that you are hoping to fit into once you shed the pounds.

Beachbody Super Trainer Leandro Carvalho, creator of YOUv2, a four-week dance and sculpting routine set to hits from the ’80s and designed for those new to exercise, also suggests taking measurements of your waist, hips, legs, arms, and chest as a way to keep track of your weight-loss progress.

“If you see over time that you’ve lost some weight or you’ve lost some inches, that’s big motivation. And sometimes you don’t notice this happening as much because you lose weight little by little,” says Carvalho.

Whatever method you choose, make sure it motivates you. Decide how often you’ll weigh yourself or try on your jeans (maybe once a week), and keep a detailed log. Also keep in mind that real progress comes from putting in the effort to eat clean and exercise over a sustained period of time, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see instant results. As they say, “a watched pot never boils.”

 

Get organized

Once you’ve defined the dietary changes you want to make, along with how you plan on tracking your progress, take stock of whether you have all the proper tools to execute your plan. Here’s a list of things you might find helpful when starting your weight-loss journey:

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Removing temptation foods from your refrigerator and pantry and replacing them with a good stock of healthy options is another essential step to complete before you start your new eating plan. While many weight loss tips you’ve likely read often include advice on self-control, why be tempted in the first place? Pitch the unhealthy stuff and stock up on healthier foods so you don’t go astray in a hangry moment.

In addition to the exercise gear listed above, be sure you have the clothes and shoes you’ll need to exercise regularly. Research shows that clothing can impact the wearer’s psychology by impacting the way he or she performs while wearing the items. You’ll likely feel more competent and confident in workout clothes that are comfortable and fit properly. No, you don’t need a drawer full of overpriced nylon and polyester to exercise. But, if you’re wearing 10-year old shoes and old cotton sweats with holes in them, treat yourself to a new ensemble.

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Set your goals

As was previously suggested, trying to muscle up the mountain in one go is a recipe for failure. Conversely, taking a measured and patient approach sets you up to achieve your long-term goals. As such, take a moment to write down one or two unhealthy behaviors you want to eliminate this week, and one or two you want to eliminate next week. This is a great way to ease into your first moves up the mountain.

While it may seem like a long journey to make, getting started is often the most challenging part.

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Raw Dough’s a Raw Deal and Could Make You Sick

Eating raw dough or batter could make you sick. Whether you’re baking at home, making flour-based ‘play’ clay, or eating at a restaurant that offers the kids raw dough to play with until the food comes, do not eat it. And make sure your kids don’t, either.

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No Bones (or Bone Treats) About It: Reasons Not to Give Your Dog Bones

Bone treats are real bones that have been processed, sometimes flavored, and packaged for dogs. Giving your dog a ‘bone treat’ might lead to an unexpected trip to your veterinarian, a possible emergency surgery, or even death for your pet.

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