December 2015

How To Not Get Fat During The Holidays

It’s the holiday season again! For some of us the indulgence has already started nearly a month ago with Thanksgiving and the countless of Christmas parties spread throughout December. On average Americans, gain about one pound during this period according to Jacob Goldstein from WSJ. If you are conscious about your health you are probably wondering whether you stand any chance at all to avoid putting on extra pounds?
Rest assured, there is a way of limiting the damage and still enjoy this joyous period to the fullest! We’ve put together 18 small tricks that will help you to look after yourself!

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The Healthy Lifestyle Guide For Busy People

In our last Shape “Road To Health” blog post, we covered why it’s important to make being healthy a priority in your life despite your perhaps busy lifestyle. Often, when facing diets we end up feeling overwhelmed integrating these complete lifestyle overhauls into our daily routine. Being healthy doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time, sure you won’t become an athlete, but there are some quick fixes that will bring you onto the right paths.
This week we have asked around and come up with 18 everyday, healthy tips for busy bodies to stay fit and in shape.

1) Track How Your Time Is Spent

Sometimes we are so “busy” that we don’t realize that there’s a lot of “waste” throughout the day. Time is for many of us the biggest and most dear asset that we have. Is your time well spent? We suggest to create a snapshot of your daily life by breaking down your day into 30-60 minutes segments for one or two days.
This will allow you to identify time sinks of perhaps urgent but low priority work that is either unnecessary, could be scheduled at another time or might be better off in someone else’s hands. Especially frequent interruptions such as ad-hoc answering of emails, can quickly turn your day unproductive. Think of time as your main currency and spend it wisely.

2) Head to Bed Earlier

It’s almost common knowledge these days, that getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep every day will make you more productive and energetic throughout the day.
A study in the SLEEP journal has confirmed that sleep deprivation leads to an increase of the stress level hormone Cortisol and a decrease in production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy needed for physical activity.  In short, having not enough sleep increases the likelihood of fatigue, lack of focus and energy.
Now look at your journal, is there a chance that you could need more sleep and head to bed too late? Explore the reasons behind doing so and force yourself to sleep earlier. It will make your time during the day more worthwhile.


3) Schedule Your Workouts — Make Them A Habit

How often do you get into the spontaneous mood to hit the gym or go for a run? Less than we’d like to, because surely there’s always something more “urgent” on our plate. A way to break this cycle is to schedule your workouts just as if they were meetings. Force yourself to actually reserve the time for your activities. By making them regular activities you will also create powerful habits.


4) Attend Classes, Get A Workout Buddy

Working out in a social setting helps to keep us accountable. Let’s face it, if have someone expecting at a certain time then you are much less likely to blow of a workout. We have been running our own bootcamp meetup in Mountain View, and having people waiting for us to attend our workouts at 7am in the morning is one of the biggest motivators to get out of bed at 6. 😃


5) Put Money On The Table

This may not be for everyone, but many busy professionals like to keep themselves accountable by committing money towards their workouts and goals.
Some like to book some sessions with a personal trainer, sign up for a set amount of Yoga classes or depart with some hard earned cash to sign up for a race or athletic event. There are also some cool apps and tools. The Pact app that rewards you for going to the gym, runs, or eating your veggies. If you fail to adhere to some of your weekly activities it can often cost you dearly. That run that you wanted to do this week? Well, now you stand to lose 10 bucks if you fail to go for it! DietBet is another app that allows you to bet money to loose weight in a certain period of time.


6) Join Competitions

Nothing is more rewarding than beating your own personal record on a half-marathon time, or working towards your life-time goal of completing a marathon within four hours. Joining a competition can be a great motivator for goal driven personalities.


7) Set Goals & Track Your Progress

For the goal driven among us, making no progress towards our own physique and/or performance can be incredibly frustrating. Often however we don’t even know whether we are making progress because we haven’t set up our own goals nor are we effectively measuring key metrics towards them.
Here a few examples of what you could measure:

– Weight / Body Fat
– Before / After Looks
– Body Measurements
– Amount of Weight Lifted / set of exercise
– Amount of reps you can do of a certain exercise until failure, for example burpees, push-ups and pull-ups.
– Time taken to complete 5k/10k/half-marathon/marathon.
– Pace/Time for sprint dashes
– VO2 Max
– Mastering certain gymnastique movements and tricks.
– Average Daily steps taken using a pedometer / fitness tracker.

There are many more. And they can be a fun way to motivate yourself.


8 ) Multi-Task During Workouts

Feel like you are being unproductive during your workouts? Well why don’t you listen to educational podcasts or audiobooks during your run or gym workout. Others like to read books or answer their emails on a stepper at the gym. If you want to take things to the next level you may even consider working from a standing desk paired with a treadmill. It’s the most easy way to increase your daily mileage without losing any “productive time”.


9) Make Batches of Healthy Food

If you are busy, you are probably eating out a lot or buying a lot of ready-made meals that you just end up microwaving. Cooking takes time, but you can end up conserving a lot of time by cooking larger portions that you can then later split up into several lunch packs ready to re-heat at work throughout the week. Soup, stews and snacks are very easily prepared in this fashion. Check out these recipes [NEED TO FIND LINK] for some ideas.


10) Get Healthy Food Delivered

There are now a number of options of getting healthy food delivered. Either ready-to-eat food such as Farm Hill or ingredients for healthy recipes that can be prepared within 10-20 minutes delivered by services such as Din, GobbleBlue Apron and Platejoy.


11) Don’t Underestimate Frozen Food

Another easy food hack is to have a ready supply of frozen food nearby. Unlike canned food, frozen food still preserves all of the food’s ingredients. It’s super easy to have some lean meat, fish and/or veggies in your freezer that can make a healthy meal within a few minutes.


12) Drink More Water

Yes, you have probably heard this one before. But drinking water is not only essential for you skin, digestive system, and circulatory system, but it also makes you feel more full if you consume a glass of water before every meal. If you feel fatigued during the day, it may often be because your body isn’t hydrated enough.


13) Mindful Eating

Another great hack that will make you more healthy, yet doesn’t require much extra time is to be just mindful about your food. Too many times we just chow down our meals in front of a screen without even truly appreciating the food that we consume. This often leads to not only faster but also over-eating. Next time you have meal, try to be conscious about every bit of your meal. You will notice that you will not only appreciate the flavor of your dish much more but you’ll also be way more satisfied at the end.


14) Less Is More

Sometimes having less of something can have greater value to you as well, without sacrificing excess time. Think about sodas, desserts, junk food and alcohol. All of them are heavy in carbohydrates and low in nutrients. You don’t have to forego them altogether but consciously limiting their intake can have dramatic positive effects on your long-term health.


15) Healthy Snacks

If you live a hectic lifestyle you probably often just snack and end up skipping meals altogether. Why we definitely recommend to have at least three full meals every day, we know that it often cannot be avoided. Actually snacking may also have its benefits as it keeps you more satisfied throughout the day. Yet, when you snack, try to replace those sugary, chocolate bars and chips with something more natural such as crunchy vegetables like carrots and celery or nuts, seeds and healthy fruits such as berries. If you need to replace entire meals you may also consider meal replacement shakes or protein bars, which can be an okay emergency solution.


16) Have A Quick Workout At Home

If you do not have the time to go to a local health club or you find it too cold to go for that run, then you can always try to integrate a quick workout into your daily routine. There are a number of free 7 Minute Workout apps such as from Fitness Guide, Perigee and Wahoo. If you like something more advanced and intense then you should also check out the Fitstar app, installing a pull-up bar, purchasing an abs wheel and jump rope. The bottom line is there are many ways to get started, even at home and at a small budget. 


17) Take A Walk

We live an age of abundance and convenience, often we take our car or public transport for the smallest distances. Yet, we don’t always have to. Especially short distances for errands can often be bridged by using your bike or by taking a walk. If that’s not an option you may consider parking a little further from the store than usual. You may even consider taking a walk during your lunch break or after work. It’s a great way to get some fresh air, clear your head and/or listen to an audiobook. Others also like to take a walking meeting. If you get yourself a pedometer or fitness tracker you can even keep track of how much you move every day and slowly increase your goals as you see fit.

18) Have A Sports Meeting / Date

A lot of time with those important around us is spend in a sedentary way such as eating a meal, having a coffee or watching a movie together. Why not catch up with friends and acquaintances on a hike, paintballing, tennis, golfing or another fun activity? It’s also a great way to bond.
What do you think? Have you started to make changes to your daily routine yet? What approaches have worked for you so far to get a little healthier? Let us know in the comments!

Making Fitness A Priority

By Martin Kessler
For a long time, I like many others prioritized my business and career over everything else such as eating healthy, exercising and spending quality time with my family. Even, self-education fell short, because business could never wait. Everything depended on the business, it was all about survival and as a first time entrepreneur I just didn’t know any better. Before I knew it I had put on 20 pounds and my relationship was nearly in shambles over the course of three years. Now my health, fitness and also my leisure are taking a higher priority than they used to.

Making Time

Recently I’ve had a chat with a friend who also joined the ranks of the countless entrepreneurs over here in Silicon Valley and he was surprised to hear that our team found the time to exercise, cook and even have leisure time. He himself barely sleeps any longer than five hours a day. As a founder he simply wouldn’t have the time to get back in shape as he had a business to run.

Frankly, you can talk to anyone at the gym whether they have the time to workout, very few will tell you that they actually have it. Almost all have something better to do and we all have to consciously make time to lead a healthy lifestyle. It takes effort and discipline to stay/get in shape. But here’s the good news. Spending a few hours extra every week to exercise, sleep longer and eat better will make you happier, more energetic and productive person. And that’s important for you and your career. Grinding endless hours will unlikely be a long-term solution for you to make ends meet. So even though, your business or job are your highest priority in your life, your work will suffer by not taking a step back to reset your mind and enjoy other aspects in life.

I am not alone with this. Look at other successful entrepreneurs and business leaders. Mark Zuckerberg works out at least three times a week, and often even takes his dog Beast within along his runs. Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Square and Twitter, has an incredible workload running two companies at the same time. Yet, he still reserves every Saturday for some physical activity such as hiking. Sergey Brin, Founder and President of Google has a wide array of regular actives such as gymnastics, springboard diving, hockey, and ultimate Frisbee. Tim Cook wakes up every day around 5am to hit the gym several times a week according to the Wall Street Journal. These are just a few examples of a few successful leaders who find time to exercise despite their hectic lives. There are many more.

I’d Love To Get Started, but…

Many of us wait for the perfect time to make a change in their life. I once told myself ‘when things are less busy I’ll hit the gym again’, then another time I thought ‘there’s no gym near my workplace, let’s wait until we move elsewhere’.
“I could___ but___” excuses are a great way to postpone something that we’d prefer not to do. In German we refer to our weaker self as the “inner pig-dog”. It’s what keeps us from growing, thriving and becoming the better person we have the potential to be.

Don’t Wait For The Perfect Moment. The Perfect Moment Is Now

Often we wait until the New Year and then end up making up with ridiculous commitments that we will never be able to meet. This “all-or-nothing” thinking usually gets us nothing, because we are animals of habits and rarely, if ever, manage to completely overhaul our lifestyles.
So don’t wait for the perfect moment, but make the perfect moment happen now by starting with a small commitment. You don’t need need a two hour workout, five times a week to stay fit and healthy. Every small step counts and a new healthy habit can start to set you onto the right path — if you stick to it. So what are you waiting for?
Stay tuned for our next blog post on how you can fit being healthy into your busy lifestyle.
Image Credits: Tabletatny (Flickr)

17 Gorgeous Healthy Gifts For Fitness Buffs

It is the time of the year again! We get together and gift our loved ones a little something to share a little happiness with one another. If you happen to know someone who is into fitness, running or weight lifting then we have just the right fitness gift ideas for you at all price-points.

$0-49

1. Bigger Leaner Stronger by Michael Matthews ($9.99)

Bigger Leaner Stronger by Michael Matthews

Bigger Leaner Stronger by Mike Matthews is the one book that encompasses great guidelines for both exercise and nutrition if you want to build muscle, lose fat and generally look great and healthy in no time. There are a ton of interesting health and fitness books out there but if you can only buy one, but this one!

 2. Sport Socks (from $10)

Sport Socks

There are a variety of sport socks out there and they make for a great stocking filler item. We think the low-cut Thirty48 Running Socks are the best value for your money to feel cushioned and comfortable when running, cycling, or playing tennis.

3. Hand Gripper ($13.99)

 Hand Grippers
Another great stocking filler are hand grippers. They provide for great hand and forearm strength and can be easily even used at your desk job. Like with the socks there is plenty of choice around and we believe the fitness hand grippers offer the best quality for your money. Tip: We recommend to start with a low 100 lbs size, you’ll thank us later.

4. TriggerPoint Foam Roller ($25)

 TriggerPoint Foam Roler
We discovered ourselves how useful a foam roller can be to those who frequently exercise. A foam roller allows you to apply pressure to specific points on your body to accelerate the recovery of your muscles. If you want to workout multiple times a week a foam roller is a must have! We recommend the TriggerPoint for its high quality and dense material.

 5. Fitbit FitStar Subscription ($39) 3- Fitstar

The Fitbit Fitstar app for iOS and Android is a great way to keep motivated and workout HIIT bodyweight workouts at home. This is great for anyone who wants to lose weight or become a little bit stronger and doesn’t have the time to go to the gym. The Fitter app offers anything from short 7 minute workouts to longer 30 minute ones.

 6. DEXA/DXA scan (from $45)

DXA/DEXA Scan
Is your friend trying to get in a better shape? Maybe you’d want to gift him or her a Dexa scan. A Dexa scan is a bone density measurement that allows you to exactly measure how much fat and lean mass you posses in all your body. It doesn’t quite show you how you look but it’s a good enough to give you a data point that is better than your weight to measure your progress.
We recommend BodySpec or DexaFit in the United States.

$50-99

7. Everlast Heavy Bag Kit (from $55)

Everlast Heavy Bag Kit

Everlast offers a variety of punching bag kits that come with everything you need to unload all the stress that you’ve worked up over the week. It’s also a great upper arm and cardio workout!

Available on Walmart.com 

8. Gap Fit Women’s Motion Leggings ($69)

Gap Fit Women's Leggings

These leggings not only keep sweat away from your skin but they also look damn sexy. These are perfect for running, TRX, cycling and yoga.

Available on Amazon.

9. Rogue Gym Pack ($75)

 Rogue Fitness Gym Pack
The Rogue gym pack is your perfect carry-all duffel bag for all favorite gear that you need to lurk around. It’s made out of extremely durable Nylon material and can also take a beating. Perfect for any regular gym rat!

10. Under Armour Men’s ColdGear® Infrared Run Lite Jacket ($75-99)

Under Armor Jacket

The Under Armour ColdGear Infrared Run Jacket is the ideal running jacket for colder climates. The jacket is wind proof and comes with a  thermo-conductive inner coating that will protect its wearer from cold winter chills despite its ultra low weight.

11. Sophia Jump Rope ($79 pre-order)

Sophia Jump Rope

The Sophia Jump Rope is a Kickstarter backed fitness gadget that is due to be released by 2016. Skipping rope is definitely one of the best all-body cardio workouts that you can do and allows you to burn more energy than with many other exercises such as running. The best of it is that you can easily do it at home. Sophia adds a smart twist to it and allows you to log your jump rope workouts and improve your velocity and count of your jumps.

12. JLab Epic Bluetooth 4.0 ($99)

JLab Earphones

The JLab Epic Bluetooth earphones are hands-down the best sports earphones you can buy for anyone active. They are not only sweat but also IPX4 waterproof and come with top of the line battery life of over 10 hours.

$100+

13. ClassPass ($119+)

ClassPass
If you are looking for something more extravagant, you may want to check out ClassPass. For $119 you get to join classes such as Yoga, Kickboxing, Pilates, Bootcamps, TRX classes and many more at health clubs in your area. There is surely something in there for anyone.

14. Fitbit HR ($119-149)

Fitbit Surge
The Fitbit HR is arguably the best fitness tracker for less than $200 that you can buy. It’s not only the most accurate step tracker but also hooks up with Fitbit’s popular social ecosystem. Aside from step tracking the Fitbit HR also tracks your resting/active heart rate and displays all of it on a legible screen.

15. Garmin Vivoactive ($169-$249) Garmin Vivoactive

The Garmin Vivoactive is a combination fitness & smart watch. It’s perfect for your friend or family member who is really into running, golfing, swimming or biking. The watch features an integrated GPS sensor that allows accurate distance tracking for all your favorite sports.

16. TrekDesk Treadmill Desk ($499)

Treadmill Desk

Sitting a lot? Then the TrekDesk Treadmill standing desk paired with a treadmill or elliptical trainer could bring some fresh wind into your lucky someone’s daily routine.

17. Adventure Vacation

Adventure Vacation

If you think your special someone is ready for a vacation, why not give them a gift card or self-made coupon towards a trip. There are plenty of kayaking, surfing, diving, hiking, rock climbing, mountain-biking and skiing/snowboarding trips waiting all around the globe. If you need some inspirations check out TripAdvisor’s top Adventure Vacations.

 Bonus Ideas: