How to keep fit on the road | The Daily Glow

How to keep fit while travelling

Keeping up any kind of fitness routine or healthy diet can be tough at the best of times (and as we roll towards Christmas – yes I said it, I know, where has the year gone – with dark mornings and evenings, it’s getting even tougher), but constant travel, be it for business or pleasure can really be the tipping point towards complete abandonment of all reason, and genuine self-persuasion that Netflix really is a healthier pastime.

As I mentioned on Monday, I’ve travelled a lot over the past few months with work, conferences and lectures (plus some fun thrown in, in between) and have been finding it difficult to maintain any kind of healthy or normal lifestyle – which has left me feeling tired, bloated and just not quite myself.  Exercise of some description is my go-to solution for most things – stress, insomnia, misbehaving skin, overindulgence and recovering after festivals and the like.  However, this is one of the hardest things to sustain while frequently on the move from one place to the next.  But where there’s a will, there’s a happy Jenny, so here are some things that I’ve found make it a bit easier for me.

 

Buy black runners
This one can sound a bit odd, but when space is at a premium, and black runners are somewhat respectable with work attire (and tend to go with pretty much anything), it makes it much easier to use the hotel gym if you actually have some decent runners – although fair play to dude I saw in full on work shoes on the treadmill in the Hilton.  Credit where credit is due, but I don’t fancy the shin splints myself.

How to keep fit on the road | The Daily Glow

Get yourself some bluetooth headphones
Oh-so-handy for general life,  especially for those of you who have an overstuffed handbag with spare protein bars, tissues, pens and highlighters and every charger known to mankind (…not guilty) and occasionally find it tricky to locate your phone, even when physically connected to headphones (RIP said headphones).  What they are particularly useful for though, is online workouts  or workout plans on your phone/laptop/iPad – you can look at the screen, while listening to music, without having to take it out of your armband every 5 seconds (once again, totally not me).  These don’t even have to be expensive – I got mine in Pennys for about €15.

How to keep fit on the road | The Daily Glow

When all else fails…
Get a massage! To be fair, I haven’t done this nearly as much as I would like, but it was the only option after a couple of nights sleeping on the ground (the actual ground, a last minute ticket to EP has its downsides), made me feel every single one of my 30 years.  Hips and back a mess – sitting on a flight or in work, not to mind driving,  was frighteningly uncomfortable – and an extended massage fixed everything, officially attaining a place on my go-to solutions list.  A sports massage of some sort is usually possible to track down in most hotels, and even some airports – so if you have a heavy few weeks of travel, try and book it in when you know you’ll be at you most tired.  Or if you really need sorting out when you get home, pay Eileen a visit – she honestly is amazing.

Balancing everything when your day-to-day life is a little all over the place is hard, and if you think you’ve got too much on your plate, have a read of this for some inspiration – it all depends on why you’re doing it, not what you’re doing.  I know if I don’t exercise and load up on sugar, not only do I feel totally awful, but I am nowhere near as capable of thinking clearly and focusing on the things I love to do.  If you push yourself hard, why do you do it?  And how do you fit it all in?  I’d love to hear how you do it.

How to keep fit on the road | The Daily Glow

The Daily Glow | Magnesium and Muscle Relaxation

Muscle relaxation and Magnesium

My muscles are currently burning, and it took me longer to get out of bed yesterday morning than I’d care to admit to – not surprising, considering over the past few days I tried crossfit for the first time, and ran a 4 mile mini marathon (plus the mile I had to run to the starting line due to a terrible combination of my embarrassingly bad sense of direction, with some poor timing).  DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness is a familiar feeling (if not name, that’s what that gradually worsening pain 1-2days after exercise is called) for anyone who’s started a new fitness regime or pushed themselves in a new physical endeavour.  And while yoga, stretching or foam-rolling can all help, there’s also a supplement that can encourage muscle relaxation – and bring some other benefits as well.

The Daily Glow | Magnesium and Muscle Relaxation

Triathletes, and all these other impressive serial exercisers, frequently profess the virtues of epsom salt baths…which are essentially magnesium.  This mineral is commonly deficient, but excellent for promoting muscle relaxation and sleep – both of which obviously enough support tired muscles.  But it’s not only this delayed onset muscle soreness that it can help, it can also:

  • reduce teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism) and sometimes the associated neck pain, due to it’s action on the main muscles involved
  • aid sleep – this study shows improvements in sleep time, sleep efficiency and an increase in melatonin levels in the body after 8 weeks of magnesium supplementation
  • reduce stress – lower serum cortisol (the stress hormone) levels have also been noted, which can be further helped with some lifestyle changes

The Daily Glow | Magnesium and Muscle Relaxation

Getting enough magnesium can be a bit tricky, as not only do you have to have a diet quite high in magnesium to begin with (something fruit and veg grown in increasingly mineral-depleted soil may be lacking), but additionally, you need sufficient levels of vitamins B6  and D, and selenium for your body to absorb it. Oh, and excess fat, caffeine and stress hinder this process.

The Daily Glow | Magnesium and Muscle Relaxation

Yeah so not quite as easy to get sufficient magnesium by mistake, especially if you’re stressed and living on caffeine.  But, taking a supplement in a form that is easily digested and absorbed by your body, at a separate time to your cup of jo, can make it a bit more straightforward.  I find 150-300mg magnesium citrate (from a reputable brand like Solgar, Viridians or most types stocked in health food stores) taken in the evening, separate to food, works well for me and most of my patients.  Most magnesium tablets are giant bullets, so the powdered form can be easier to take, or you can add it to a smoothie.

*** However, please note that magnesium can increase the effects of other muscle relaxant drugs (like Botox or Valium), so if you are on any medications, please check with your doctor before adding this supplement to your daily routine.  ***

 

Have you ever tried magnesium supplementation?

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Why I became a yoga teacher

Yoga is something I stumbled into by accident.  After a recommendation from a nutritionist, I delved into it on and off for years, never really understanding the passion some people professed for it.  But as time went on, and my stress levels and back pain increased, yoga became more and more attractive.

Last year I finally decided I had to commit to it, that just like everything else in life – you get back what you put in, and I was never going to become a full blown yogi (and experience all the alleged benefits) by mistake.  So I signed up for  yoga teacher training, hoping that someone else holding me accountable would make downward dog a more frequent occurrence.

why I became a yoga teacher

That, I learned the hard way, is not how yoga works.  Yoga is about yourself,  your own struggle and nobody else.  Eventually, as I dragged myself to the mat time and again, I learned to stop fighting.  I learned to breathe more deeply and enjoy the respite from an otherwise hectic and results driven life.  My year of teacher training culminated in a week-long intensive, 7 days of yoga during the hottest week of our Irish summer.  It was during this week that I really began to get a kick out of it, and found myself craving yoga when the week was over – something I never thought would happen.

The Daily Glow - why I became a yoga teacher

Celebrating with my fellow yogis

Yoga has become as important to me as running (for those of you who don’t know me, I run for my sanity, and possibly everyone else’s benefit, as I would be a pain in a** otherwise – if I could join the VS Angels without having to exercise, I would still run) and is a little bit easier on my knees and hips.  What I didn’t previously realise was that you can also  work up quite a sweat simply doing yoga – something I’ve mentioned before in relation to clear skin, and an element I need from exercise to feel like I’ve really done some at all.  In contrast to a spinning class, where I tend to feel like I might actually die of dehydration sometimes, the sweating during yoga tends to be much more enjoyable.  A couple of rounds of a sun salutation is enough to warm up, but for a real sweat, a headstand is hard to beat.

Completing my teacher training has given me a love for yoga I didn’t think I’d ever find, and opened up a method of exercise that is easy on my joints and clears my head without pounding the pavement.  Have you ever tried yoga, or are you as skeptical about it as I once was?

 

A morning meditation to get you started:

The Daily Glow

Yoga for glowing skin – 3 simple postures

Yoga is touted with many benefits, and I personally find it amazing for de-stressing and clearing my mind, but can it really help improve your skin?  In a word, yes.  Stress wreaks havoc on your skin, so anything that reduces this can relieve all the awful things it produces – sleepless nights, stress hormones, weight gain etc, etc.  There are postures that boost blood flow, improve digestion and stimulate the thyroid – all contributing to glowing skin.

 

Seated spinal twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Yoga twists are recommended for digestion and detoxing, and also help strengthen back muscles and open the chest.  This posture is a simple, straightforward one suitable for most beginners – of course if you have any injuries or feel intense pain with any posture you should check with a yoga teacher or physio before making it part of your daily routine.  Most people are unaware (I certainly was) that more pain does not necessarily mean more gain – a feeling of slight pressure or stretching during yoga is normal, sharp or severe pain because you’re bracing during a posture is bad.

Yoga for glowing skin

image via mac.com.au

Beginning in “staff pose” or Dandasana (sitting on your mat with your legs stretched out straight in front of you), bend your right knee and cross it over your left leg.  Holding your right arm around the knee (or use your elbow, as in the image above), inhale and stretch your left arm up above your head, lengthening your spine.  Exhaling, twist your left arm behind you and bring your hand down to the floor.  Breathing deeply, twist from your core, twisting deeper into the posture on every exhale.  The key here is not to strain your neck, and only turn your head at the very end – focus on twisting from core, ribcage and upper chest. Repeat on the other side.

Bow (Dhanurasana)
A very simple posture that is purported to help stimulate digestion, and also acts as a balance for shoulders the have been slumped forward at a computer or desk all day long (or, if like me, you habitually have less than perfect posture and you’ve been told to “stand up straight” for most of your life).

Yoga for glowing skin

image via anmolmehta.com

Lying face down on your mat, bend your legs and grasp hold of the outside of your ankles with each hand.  Activating your core and rolling your shoulders back and down, use your legs to to pull your upper body off the ground, not the other way around. Don’t allow your legs to splay out to the side, keep them in line with your hips.  Flex your feet so your toes are pointing away from you, and keep your shoulders away from your ears.

 
Headstand (Shirshasana )
This one can seem intimidating for yoga newbies, but I promise you it’s not as hard as it looks and you can start with “half-headstand”.  Head stands and inversions (upside down type postures) improve blood flow to the scalp and face, and also the brain – so this is the perfect way to wake up.  Some yogis claim it delays the onset of grey hair, or can even convert grey back to the previous colour – I’m not convinced about that one, but be sure to let me know if if you magically manage to dye your hair.  Practicing headstands really strengthens deep core muscles, the end game here is being able to “step” in a controlled manner up into the posture – not jumping wildly and hoping to God your legs stay up (this describes my previous approach very accurately, I haven’t actually seen you, don’t worry).

yoga for glowing skin

Starting on all fours on your mat, hold onto each elbow with the opposite hand.  This distance is the measurement for how far apart your elbows should be.  Interlock your fingers so that your arms form a triangle and tuck the bottom baby finger inside, so both little fingers are pressed against the mat.  Really press down into the mat with your arms, forming a stable base for your headstand.  Place the crown of your head on the floor, right into the point of this triangle, with the back of your head fitting into your hands.  Lift your knees off the ground and walk your feet slowly toward your body, straightening your spine and engaging your core, with your hips raised up towards the sky.  How close you can walk your feet will vary – your limit is dictated by your core, make sure your neck, back and hips line up with your head and are stable and strong.  You can do this against a wall for support at the beginning, and you’d be surprised how far you can progress with daily practice., stepping closer and closer with your feet until you can hold them above you. As your core strength increases, you will find yourself able to step up into a headstand without jumping – I promise you this will eventually happen if you’re persistent, I was a disaster at this when I started teacher training, I remember being completely mortified throughout the course, but now it’s my favourite posture.  The below image from Lululemon (the best yoga clothes shop) shows the different stages really clearly.

Yoga for glowing skin

image via lululemon.com

Adding these postures into an established yoga routine is pretty simple, and for those aspiring yogis, a couple of salute to the suns rounds is the perfect warm up.  Always be careful with any existing  injuries and never push yourself through sharp or intense pain – you won’t become a yogi any quicker (in fact you’re really doing the opposite) and could do a lot of damage.