Ways to wear workout gear

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I read this quote the other day – Don’t let anyone tell you that leggings aren’t pants – you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

Look around you and tell me what people are wearing around you. Think about how high heels have become passé and people have adopted sneakers and high tops for footwear and swapped expensive jeans for leggings. Workout gear has evolved a lot since the 70’s with moisture wicking fabrics, sweat proof technology built into fabrics and fit wear that actually claims to sculpt that derriere into shape while you wear it. It is no longer synonymous with boring tees, yoga pants, shorts ands strictly functional sportswear.

This trend was born out of functionality and necessity but also because people the world over are looking after their bodies now more than ever and want to focus on leading healthier lives. It is convenient and makes sense because you no longer need to lug an extra outfit to work when all you need to do is style your work wardrobe into a gym wardrobe with a few tweaks.

For some of us, athleisure is a trend that we hope will grow in leaps and bounds because there’s absolutely nothing comfier than wearing yoga pants or workout leggings. What exactly is athleisure, you might ask?

Since brands like Lululemon Athletica, Under Armour, Victoria’s Secret become wardrobe staples in and out of the gym, athleisure has become serious business even among high end designers with everyone embracing the trend. Retailers all over the world teamed up with well-known designers to create functional fitwear that you could wear outside our gym or workout class. Athleisure is an all encompassing trend that describes ‘apres sport’ or ‘gym to office’ clothes. Well, if social media and fashion blogs are anything to go by – we’ve got Victoria Secret models, Gigi Hadid, Gwen Stefani, Kendal and Kylie Jenner and just about any fashionista sporting the sports meets street style look. You would’ve seen influencers sport sneakers and high tops to the runway, evening soirees as they team it up with coats and blazers. Net-a-porter launched a clever Net-a-Sporter division last year to cater to this growing need of fitwear and outerwear everywhere. India has also seen an increase in homegrown brands adopting the idea of athleisure and eco conscious fit wear. Ethical clothing brands such as Stretchery make working out exciting, while you are doing your bit for the environment too.

To me, athleisure is a trend where balance is extremely crucial. There are several ways you can wear workout wear this year.

  • You can wear leggings with crop tops or bralettes for yoga.
  • Leggings and pair it with a nice jacket and high tops to work and meetings.
  • Add sneakers like Adidas Originals with a sexy black dress and a well tailored, fitted overcoat
  • Wear a dress with high tops and a fitted workout jacket
  • When in doubt, pick black leggings with white high tops and a crop top or a nice top and a well tailored jacket
  • Layering is extremely crucial and stick to neutrals like black, white and grey that are easy to pair and accessorize.
  • Wear a Stretchery racerback with fitted leggings or leggings and a nice cover up or jacket

I think that it’s absolutely fabulous that athleisure is becoming more and more mainstream. If you invest in quality workout clothes, fitness accessories, high tops and expensive sneakers – it’s great to be able to wear it to work or an evening out with friends. So long skinny jeans and fitted trousers, I am happy to lounge around in a yoga shirt and leggings. Grab a few of these online and you’ll a new shirt for every day of the week and you get to play around with looks and combinations. Head over to stretchery.com and pick a style that works for you. I personally love their racerbacks. Staying fit has never been so much fun.

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12 pre and post workout snacks

20140530Strechery Campaign461-EditHave you ever had weeks where you have trained consistently and been your absolute best but you are unable to see the results and you still have that muscle soreness that should have disappeared a while ago? Well, we’ve all been there. In an attempt to look our best in a short span of time we have all tried to skimp on our calories and our carbs hoping that it will deliver results faster. However, this is a terrible mistake that ends up wreaking havoc on your metabolism and does more harm than good. Your body is like a well oiled machine and it needs to be serviced at regular intervals in order to work optimally. Without food or fuel, the body is unable to perform and deliver the results you’ve been waiting for.

I have always maintained that diet is extremely crucial in promoting longevity, staying fit and maintain a lean body. No amount of exercise can outweigh the benefits of a healthy diet and I know some of you might disagree for now but you can’t outrun a bad diet. It will show on you one day or another in your skin, face and eventually on your body.

Our bodies expend a lot of calories during exercise whether it is resistance training, cardio, body weight training or a sport like football. You lose a lot of fluid, valuable electrolytes and end up tearing muscle fiber that needs time and nutrition to heal and recover to yield results. A solid pre and post nutrition plan that is balanced can alleviate delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), fatigue and prevent injury.

Pre workout snack options shouldn’t be too heavy because it becomes too difficult to workout when you are too full. If you are lactose intolerant, avoid any milk or dairy based whey protein or anything with a dairy derivative as it will cause cramping, gas and gastric distress. Ideally, a pre workout snack should be consumed 30-60 minutes prior to workout to yield good results. A good pre workout snack should be able to serve multiple purposes of hydrating the body, boost metabolism, speed up muscle recovery and provide sustained energy release like slow digesting carbs. They should be ideally a mix of slow digesting carbohydrates (low GI) with a good protein source. Some people recommend caffeine very highly as they believe that a cup of joe helps promote alertness and boost their metabolism. If you are otherwise jittery or prone to palpitations, avoid the coffee right before a cardio workout. Here are six pre-workout snack solutions:

  1. Almond butter and apple slices
  2. Boiled eggs
  3. Smoothie
  4. Oats with peanut or almond butter
  5. A banana with a tbsp of nut butter
  6. A fruit and some cheese or cottage cheese

Post workout snack options are easier because your body needs to refuel and you need a calorific snack to help with muscle growth and recovery and prevent muscle soreness. You should ideally consume a high protein source with some healthy fats and carbs within two hours of your workout to see results. Here are six post-workout snack solutions:

  1. Protein shake
  2. Boiled eggs on a toast
  3. Oatmeal and milk
  4. Tuna and rice crackers
  5. Chocolate milk or a banana milkshake
  6. A banana and a cup of coffee

Disclaimer – these snack solutions are samples for an otherwise fit individual but the quantity and your macros depend on the intensity of your workout and your goals.

The key to successful diet control lies in your hand…literally.

Blog-Picture-110415Imagine you are starving before dinner and you wolf down a packet of potato chips or you are watching a movie and you finish a large tub of popcorn. You feel incredibly guilty afterwards, don’t you? Well, what if you were to nosh on a handful of tossed plain popcorn before dinner? Feels less decadent already, doesn’t it? If you’ve seen the movie Supersize Me you’d understand our preoccupation with ginormous quantities of food and that we are consuming far more than we should. You would also notice that if we are distracted with the television or eating while doing chores or standing – you’ll end up eating a lot more than you normally would. Eating mindfully is a very important technique that will tell you when you’ve had enough and is the best tool you have to keep your weight under control.

On the flip side, there are others who are way too strict with our diets eliminating food groups entirely because we are influenced by the food/ diet trends and what the wellness blogosphere has to say about a particular food group. A lot of my friends and acquaintances have shunned all cereal, alcohol, grain, dairy, sugar, fruit and red meat from their diets entirely. I don’t know about you but to me that sounds like way too much abstaining.

This post is in accordance with Stretchery’s a handful of theme. Based on the premise that a handful is a good rule of thumb for portion size and that moderate consumption of everything has health benefits. Unless you are intolerant or allergic, I don’t recommend that you do away with food groups entirely. A handful or fistful of food – whether its lean meat, fruits or nuts is a great way to size up your meals without being too strict with your diet.

Research shows that a handful of plain, unsalted nuts help regulate blood sugar, provide satiety and boost your metabolism. Fasting or skipping meals and eating too much at once can make you feel lethargic and drowsy. Instead, nosh on a handful of nuts, berries or fox nuts (makhanas) to beat the mid meal slump and to stay energized. Alternatively, you can also opt for almond butter and apple slices or a handful of cherries or red grapes to curb those hunger pangs. If you satisfy your need to nosh you’ll be less likely to binge on something highly calorific. It is a wise choice to keep healthy snack foods in the car, pantry and on your work station so you can reach for it when you are feeling peckish.

Obsessing over the scale, counting calories and measuring your food can be extremely tedious and lest we forget, annoying to other diners. Using your hand or fist for measuring portion size is a more practical approach. If you are trying to lose weight and improve your body composition – you can eat more lean protein and healthy fats. Limit your starch and fruit consumption in the evenings and try and go carb heavy when you are training hard. If you are taking rest days, try and avoid a high carb, high glycemic index diet.

A handful of air popped popcorn.
A handful of grapes.
A handful of cherries.
A handful of mixed seeds.
A handful of nuts (almonds, walnuts, pine nuts).
A handful of fistful of grilled chicken or smoked chicken.

Good luck. Happy snacking!

Six moves you need for a strong, fit body.

STRETCHERY0415_01_0407Erratic work schedules, peak hour traffic, a lot of traveling and the monsoons can wreak havoc on your exercise regime. Fret not, we’ve got you covered so you can no longer come up with an excuse to work out. This prop free workout can be done in your home, hotel room and when you are taking a lunch break at office. You can thank us later 🙂

I’ve always been an exercise nut and never feel good unless I’ve worked up a good sweat – at least on the weekdays. Unlike most women who spend all day on the treadmill, cross trainer and stair-master – I choose to divide my time between HIIT for cardio and squats, burpees, push ups and lunges. Using your own body weight for resistance has a ton of health benefits such as accelerating fat burning, breaking out of weight loss plateaus, lean muscle growth and kick starting the metabolism. Unlike cardio, the after burn with resistance training is even greater so you can burn calories even on a rest day when you are spending time on the couch over the weekend. Consistent body weight training improves your reflexes, increases your strength and raises your basal metabolic rate. I find that it becomes easier for me to put on lean muscle if I workout my legs consistently – squats, lunges and glute bridges work beautifully for me. After a year and a half of consistent leg days every weak and an emphasis on squats, lunges and glute bridges- my derriere looks more defined and I love the way my jeans and leggings fit now. It’s all about feeling comfortable with your body and embracing the way it looks. My upper body is still not half as strong as my legs so I swim whenever I get a chance and do push ups and TRX to work my upper body and strengthen my core, arms and chest to balance it out.

Squats – in the age of belfies or butt selfies, the booty has become extremely popular and if Instagram is anything to go by, it’s only becoming more popular. A strong toned derriere helps support your core and your spine and makes you look fabulous in jeans and shorts. The squat is the easiest way to tone those glutes, especially when you are pressed for time. Done regularly and with correct form, you can hope to see results in just a few weeks. Variations you can try – goblet squat, sumo squat, one-legged squat or jump squat.

Tip – pay attention to your form and make sure your knees don’t go over your toe line. Imagine that you are pushing your butt back into a chair and visualize sitting on that imaginary chair as you squat.

Push up – contrary to popular belief, push ups aren’t just for men and can do women a whole deal of good too. This no prop exercise isn’t easy to master but is a great way to tone and strengthen your arms, chest and stabilize your core. Done correctly, it can be used as a warm up or as cardio in between sets of resistance training. Variations to try – half push up, elbow push up, one arm push up and military push up.

Tip – pay attention to form and tighten your core and don’t let your belly hang loose when you are performing a push up. Remember even If you do three correctly, it’s better than you doing ten half assed push ups.

Burpees – this explosive full body exercise is a great way to bring in your cardio when you are pressed for time. It is dynamic, fast paced and extremely effective at toning the midsection and working up your heart rate. Put simply, the burpee is a squat, plank, push up and jump – working your entire body. There are several variations of the burpee and crossfitters, athletes and HIIT enthusiasts incorporate it into their workouts for efficiency and to maximize their workouts.

Plank – the only way to get rid of unsightly flab is to stabilize the core. The plank is the most effective exercise that engages your core, protects your back and helps tone and whittle the middle. You can start with a 30 second plank and work your way up to 3 minutes. At first, you will lose balance and struggle to stay up but it will get easier with time. Variations to try are the bench plank, wall plank, forearm plank, elbow plank and side plank.

Lunges – if you’ve seen Kayla Itsines, Beyonce, Ciara or Rihanna’s Instagram feed, you’ll see the emphasis they give to leg day. Lunges, like squats are a compound functional exercise that helps give you a shapely derriere and a nice set of legs you can flaunt. Variations to try – walking lunges, forward lunge and reverse lunge.

Tip – pay attention to form and make sure your knee doesn’t go over the toe line.

Glute Bridge – This is one of my favorite exercises as it gives the spine a nice massage and allows you to feel loose and limber. Done pretty often in yoga and pilates classes, it is used to stabilize your back and strengthen your glutes so you get a nice and round booty. Lie flat on your back with your feet bent at the knees. Contract your abs and push through your heels to lift your hips off the floor. Keep your heels firmly planted on the floor and bring your hips back gently to the floor. Repeat this 10-15 times and do 3 sets. You can thank me later.

Carry a water bottle, towel, anti-bacterial wipes a mat with you for core exercises. Make sure that you are wearing a high-impact full coverage sports bra and breathable workout clothing from Stretchery.