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Catch Better Zzz’s by Trying Yoga Before Bed

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Yoga moves to try before bed

There are plenty of ways to wind down after a long day, but some work better than others at actually helping you get quality sleep. In today’s Fitbit Healthy Habits challenge, we’re asking everyone to try doing some yoga moves before bed. But does it really help?

Studies have shown that doing light yoga before bed actually helps with a number of sleep-related problems, from chronic insomnia to simply helping you fall asleep easier. Yoga helps your mind and body relax after the day and relieves some of the built-up stress that may keep you up at night.

Many online videos or DVDs you can buy include routines meant to be done before you head to bed, but here are just a few moves you can try:

  • Savasana: Lay flat on your back with your arms comfortably at your sides, close your eyes, and relax your body. Lay still and focus on your breathing for a few minutes.
  • Knee-to-chest hug: While still laying on your back, bring your knees to your chest and wrap your arms around them. Hold this stretch for about a minute.
  • Child’s pose: Start seated on your knees and bend forward at the waist with your arms stretched out above your head. Relax your upper body in this pose for about a minute, or find a length you’re comfortable with.

You can get started with the above poses, or try out FitStar Yoga‘s premium option to unlock “Before Bedtime”, which is specifically designed to help you get better rest.

What’s your favorite way to wind down at the end of the day? Let us know in the comments!

Celebrity Trainer Harley Pasternak Shares His Tips for Losing Weight and Staying Fit

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Harley Pasternak offers his tips on losing weight and staying fit

Harley Pasternak has been training some of the biggest celebrities in Hollywood for years. With the release of his latest book, 5 Pounds, we got the chance to ask him for a few of his top tips for losing weight and staying fit! We were also lucky enough to receive 20 copies of his new book that we’ll be giving away. Read on to learn what you can do to start getting fit today, and how to enter to win your copy!

What are a few things Fitbit users can start doing today to help kickstart their weight loss?

Don’t be afraid to get a little less efficient with your day. Park farther away from the entrance to the grocery store. Take your dog around the block rather than just letting her out in the back yard. Take your groceries inside in three trips instead of one. Shovel your walk instead of using a snowblower.

One thing I like to do is to make plans for walking coffees with my friends. And I have an earpiece for my phone so I can make my phone calls while I’m moving.

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How Runway Titan Hilary Rhoda Uses Her Fitbit

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Fitbit Celebrity Challenges: Hilary Rhoda vs Erin Heatherton

This week, we’re watching runway titans Hilary Rhoda and Erin Heatherton face off in an epic Celebrity Challenge – our first in a series of challenges to come! Both models are competing to see who take the most steps in five days, and right now #TeamRhoda is in the lead.

In between her busy schedule, we got to sit down and ask Hilary some questions about how she stays fit and uses her Fitbit. Below is part one of three.

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Fitbit Success Stories: Bryce P.

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bryce success story

Growing up, I was a multi-sport athlete in excellent shape. Over the last 10 years, I really let my fitness get away from me. Life happened. I allowed myself to slip using my busy life at work and home as an excuse for my poor to non-existent fitness. On December 26th, 2013 I stepped on the scale. I didn’t really weigh myself regularly so in my mind, I was still athletic and in shape. The number astounded me: 277 pounds.

At that moment, I drew a line in the sand and began my mission to get back into shape and reclaim my health. read more

Bouldering: Your Favorite New Workout

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SONY DSC

Rocking climbing without ropes—sound intriguing? Bouldering is like climbing’s close cousin, less high-flying but equally demanding. And a heck of a lot of fun.

Your target is a short series of individual moves, laid out in a specific route. It’s physically challenging but also mentally tough; you’re always thinking a few moves ahead. Plus, you can boulder solo—no belayer needed.

Indoor bouldering gyms are a great place to start, but outdoor facilities are also popular. Still not convinced? Here are 5 great reasons to give bouldering a try.

  1. It’s a freakin’ workout. If you think 5-10 climbing moves will be a breeze, think again. Bouldering is a full-body workout…arms, shoulders, back, core and legs. Everything’s working. First-time climbers often over rely on arm strength, but properly utilizing core and legs is essential so you’re not taxing individual muscles.
  2. It’s as much mental as physical. Yes, after a few routes you’ll likely be physically taxed. But properly thinking out each route is essentially to success and stamina. Head to a bouldering gym and observe. You’ll find groups of boulderers conversing, pointing, and staring intently at the wall. This is pre-planning. Knowing where you’re next move will be is the key to completing a route without burning yourself out.
  3. Body positioning is key. Attacking the wall straight up and down is a bad strategy. Instead, keeping your body in a sideways position will help you with fluid motions and use less precious energy.
  4. Stay hydrated. Water is key. Keep your fluids near as you’ll need them. Believe it or not, two minutes on the wall will often max out your heart rate.
  5. Step up your resistance training. When you’re starting out, you may feel like you don’t have the stamina to tackle more than a few routes. And that’s OK. What can help is stepping up your strength and resistance training. Think pull-ups, push-ups, squats and planks—easy to do outside a gym and crazy effective in building a foundation for the wall.
  6. Don’t skimp on gear. Climbing is relatively low-tech. But grabbing a nice pair of climbing shoes is a solid investment. These will immensely help your wall positioning and movement, and keep your feet comfy enough so that you’re not worrying about foot pain or slipping. And you’ll want clothes allow for a full range of motion, and here cotton reigns supreme, holding up best against the abrasive surface of the wall.

What Type of Yoga is Right For You?

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yoga

As a yoga newbie or even a seasoned yoga veteran, deciphering the studio schedule can be baffling. And that’s often an understatement.

Luckily, there’s a yoga class out there for everyone and every body. Here’s a quick guide (in order from active to mellow) to help you navigate the yoga maze. And don’t be afraid to experiment with different classes to figure out what type of class is best for you. You just might be surprised by what hooks you in.

Ashtanga:  Expect a similar sequence each class with vigorous and gymnastic transitions between poses. The origin of vinyasa/power/flow classes.

Vinyasa/Power/Flow: These terms are used interchangeably for sweaty and faster moving classes. Best for folks already familiar with the basic poses and who are seeking a workout.

Hatha: A garden variety term for yoga. Expect moderate to low intensity. A good class for beginners or folks returning to yoga. Hatha can be a great branching off point to more advanced classes.

Iyengar: Detailed, slow instructions, lots of props (blocks, straps, bolsters, etc.) and plenty of teacher demos. Great for students wanting to master or return to the basics.

Gentle/Therapeutic: Expect a mild and slow class with lots of time on the floor. Great for older, injured, or just plain burnt out students. A solid yoga reset…

Restorative: Wiped out and need a nap? In this class you’ll cuddle up on bolsters and get a serious recharge. And if you think you’re above a restorative class, think again—you’ll be surprised at just how much you need a reset every once in a while.

Prenatal: Great for anyone who is pregnant, prenatal yoga is a great way to prepare for childbirth and may even promote good health for a newborn baby.

Each teacher shares his/her own take on the yoga tradition, so these class descriptions are a general guide. Research teachers by talking to other students, asking the front desk staff, and reading the bios on the studio website. Remember each teacher writes his/her own bio so if a teacher’s language resonates with you, it could be a good fit. Your alchemy with a teacher will matter more than the type of class listed on the schedule. If you find a teacher, a time, and a location that works for you, you’ll soon get hooked!

Sadie Chanlett-Avery is a certified yoga and kettlebell instructor, as well as the in-house yogi at Clif Bar & Company here in the Bay area.

8 Ways to Avoid Common Gym Mistakes with Harley Pasternak

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gym mistake

With the weather cooling down, getting into the gym might be the best way to keep your fitness routine going. But the ins and outs of gym etiquette can be daunting if you’re new. Rather than let any gym anxiety get the best of you, we asked celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak for his tips to avoid typical gym mistakes. Here are 8 easy ways to keep your routine going. read more

Stay Active While Keeping Up With Your Favorite Fall Shows

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Indoor workout

Fall sometimes means a change to routine; with kids back in school, the weather quickly changing, and the holiday season just around the corner there’s plenty of new things to disrupt our workout schedules. But even with a busier schedule and cooler weather, there are still plenty of ways to keep up with your daily goals.

One way to work fitness into an otherwise-sedentary routine? Work out during your favorite Fall shows! There’s no reason you can’t keep up with your favorite series and get off the couch at the same time. So to help you move more, here are just a few ways work in a little extra exercise in your day.

  • Walk laps during commercials. If you aren’t able to fast-forward through the ads, why stick around to watch? Unless it’s Super Bowl time, you won’t be missing much. So get up and walk laps for the two minutes or so they’re running, and you’ll probably boost your step count by a few hundred at a time! We bet you can reach 1000 before the end of an episode if you do this for every commercial.
  • Finish a 15-minute workout between episodes. Not into commercials, and binge-watching something on Netflix instead? Promise yourself to get up and do a quick workout between episodes. It could be as simple as completing a circuit workout you like, or try something new each time. If you need some suggestions of where to start, there are plenty of workouts we’ve shared that can be easily modified.
  • Create a workout game. Create a game that lets you work out when certain things happen in the show. So every time Prince Charming and Snow kiss you do 10 crunches, or get up for 20 squats whenever they start a new workout on Biggest Loser. Figure something out that will see you sweating by the end of an episode!
  • Switch up sitting/standing between commercials. Sitting for most of the day is bad for your health. Even though it’s tempting to collapse on the couch after a long day, try to minimize how much you’re sitting by standing up every other commercial, and staying standing until the next commercial.
  • Use TV time as a reward for exercise. Sometimes you just need some downtime, and we get that too. But if you want that half hour of uninterrupted couch time, AND want to motivate yourself to exercise more, try using your time with the TV as a reward for working out. So tell yourself you aren’t allowed to watch the latest episode until you complete a workout, and you’ll have a regular workout routine in no time!

If you’re already finding ways to get extra steps at home, let us know in the comments!

How To Nail the Run-Commute

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run commute pic

Commuting. It’s a word very few people get excited about. It conjures up long lines at the bus stop, long traffic jams at toll booths, and long, often sweaty stretches of standing on crowded metro lines or trains.

Yet add the word “bike” or “run” in front of your commute, and notice how possibilities open up. Here’s how to un-tether yourself from traditional means of getting to work and explore self-propelled transit instead, racking up Fitbit steps in the progress.

I’ve been biking and running to work ever since I graduated from college, and along the way I’ve experienced everything these alternate means of transport have to offer.

In my home town of San Francisco I’ve never seen so many people run-commuting as I have in the past few years. Maybe it’s part of a overall spike in running, or maybe it’s a sign of increasing numbers of busy professionals trying to squeeze in their half-marathon and marathon training any way they can into their compressed schedules. Or maybe it’s simply more people seeing more people doing it.

Whatever the reason, run commuting is a great and simple way to log an extra 3, 5, or 10 miles into your day — all the while avoiding waiting, boredom, frustration, and general discomfort of cars, trains and busses. Not to mention helping the environment, and providing yourself with a little headspace to figure out your day en route to the office, or decompress as you head home. read more

Beat the Heat for #FitbitSummer: Expert Tips on Staying Cool During Outdoor Workouts

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Hydrate blog

In many places across the world, summer is a great excuse to take your exercise routine outdoors and change up that stale gym or treadmill routine. And as we’ve recently explored, working out in the fresh air has a host of healthy benefits.

But peak summer temperatures can get the best of us. So how can you reap the rewards of the great outdoors while keeping yourself safe in the summer sun?

Lauren headshot smallWe asked a one of our favorite experts, Lauren Slayton, Author, RD, and Foodtrainers founder for her personal tips.

 

  1. I don’t know about you, but water fountains suddenly look like Shangri-La during my warm workouts. So while I encourage you to drink up while you exercise, it’s also crucial to pre-drink or imbibe before exercise. Try coconut water (high in potassium) or turmeric elixir (bonus points for salt) before heading out in the heat.
  2. And don’t be shy with salt. I love Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt—both contain essential minerals—but salty foods like olives, pickles and fermented veggies are great this time of year.
  3. Pick the perfect produce like cantaloupe, strawberries, radishes, and celery, as all these have super high water content and will help keep you hydrated.
  4. And remember that alcohol is dehydrating, so limiting consumption will help with hydration.

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