Seven seconds of conscious breathing.

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” Thich Nhat Hanh

I want you to take a moment to breathe in for a count of three, hold your breath for one count and breathe out for a count of three….didn’t that feel good? How you feel now from seven seconds of conscious breathing.

In what can feel like a hectic and time-consuming world, we often forget to just breathe sometimes. We work hard, we devote ourselves to family and friends, and we strive to better ourselves. There’s always emails to send, texts to reply to and phone calls to make and take. It can all be overwhelming at times, but just remember to not leave yourself behind and allow the stresses of the world to consume you.

All those moments in life when you feel so overwhelmed by work, your home life, or school just stop and breathe. Close your eyes and take the time for yourself. Don’t focus on the stress, you’ve earned this moment so take it! Be calm and let your breath restore you. If you need to take a few sets of breaths that’s okay! Our hearts beating and our lungs taking air are the basic physical functions that give of us life. So remember that every time you take those few seconds to focus on breath you are restoring yourself.

Sometimes taking a restorative moment, even if it is just for seven seconds, can change everything and give you new perspective. Seven seconds and you can gain clarity on a problem you’ve had a hard time solving, have that “Aha!” moment in those seven seconds! Seven seconds and you can feel anger or stress fade away. Seven seconds and you can find the best way to deliver a message. Seven seconds and you can feel like yourself again. All you need is those seven seconds to just make things better sometimes.

At Stretchery, we understand the importance of conscious breathing and make it a part of all of our products. Our organic cotton allows your body to breathe as you work hard throughout the day and through your workout. Let us be your anchor and reminder for conscious breath when you’re working and playing hard.

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!