Those who are just starting on an exercise regimen experience it, and so do those who are already fitness buffs but have overdone their workouts a bit.

That’s right, aching muscles – they are either experienced right after a workout or even 2-3 days post-exercise.

Before you give up on exercising entirely, though, think about the fact that in most cases, aching muscles are normal.

The Physiology Of Post-Exercise Muscle Aches:

Dr. Gabe Mirkin, the popular Sports Medicine physicist and radio talk show host, explains that muscle soreness is due to the damage to the muscles themselves, not lactic acid buildup in the muscles as we used to believe.

Studies making use of biopsies have shown damage and bleeding of the z-band filaments which hold the muscles together.

This occurs when muscles contract and they slide over each other.

To Continue Or Not To Continue Exercising:

If your muscles feel sore the day after you work out and you continue to exercise despite the pain, chances are you’ll still have that pain the next day.

Doctors recommend a workout on the first day, pausing when you start to feel the burn. After a while, pick up the pace once more again exercise until you feel the burn.

Stop the regimen once your muscles begin to feel stiff.

The next day, it would be good to rest or if you must, continue working out that day at a slow pace.

What doctors suggest is to get a hard workout one day, rest for 1-7 days after that, and then go for another until-the-burn workout.

This is the way professional athletes train.

For instance, high jumpers don’t go for the high jump all throughout the week. Sure, they do sessions daily, but they jump for height as rarely as once a week.

The Exercise Advantage:

Women who keep finding ways to keep fit seldom experience muscle ache after their workouts.

Moreover, even if they do, they tend to recover pretty quickly.

On the other hand, newbies feel any of the following symptoms, aside from aching muscles: headaches, feelings of energy loss, and low-grade flu.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS):

This pain does not occur right after the workout is over, but 8-24 hours later, and ends within 3-7 days.

There is an increased risk for DOMS when you overexert yourself, or when you engage in a change in activity, such as from low-impact exercise such as working out on an elliptical to a high-impact activity, like running.

There are no surefire ways to prevent DOMS, but you can try the following to help relieve the pain:

  • Stretch before and after exercising, but do so slowly. Hold the positions for 10-30 seconds.
  • Always warm up before your routine.
  • Don’t shock your muscles when you change an activity. Perform changes over several weeks if possible.
  • When you’re doing weight training, start with small weights and work your way up in order to prevent excessive tearing of the muscle fibers.

Have a great workout,

M. Jamal

P.S. How often do you experience muscle aches? Do they hamper your workouts?

Still lusting after a tasty meal?

Wondering if a healthy meal can really pack much flavor?

Well, I just came across a post which you’ll want to check out. It presents “5 Small Meals With Big Flavors”

Nutritious meals that are simply delicious.

I knew I had to share this with you after reading comments like:

“Hmmm those small meals with big flavors are a great idea. For the longest time I have been trying to lose the remaining 5 pounds of my 20 pound fight, but they just won’t away. I think I will try this and see how that works for me. :)”

And…

“All of these look amazing! I’m not sure which one I want to try first. I try to cook healthfully but sometimes it’s tough.”

Well, check it out (see it here) and let me know what’s your favorite pick ‘-)

M. Jamal

P.S. If you’re into grills yet worried about nasty HAAs and HCAs… (unhealthy substances resulting from high heat of grilling meats)… then you ought to see this

It goes into:

  • A simple way to reduce HCAs by 80% revealed by Kansas State University (plus, you probably already know this improves flavor. Now you got another reason to try it.)
  • A quick way to add flavor to your grills, use any of these 3 ‘Simply Organic’ ingredients.
  • 8 quick tips for healthy, tasty grills (yet I don’t agree with the ‘microwave’ tip)

Have a look, click here.

We come across folks who seem to be able to eat as much as they want and still maintain their weight, and we also know some who meticulously count calories yet gain weight rapidly.

In most cases like these, we traditionally turn to ‘metabolism’ as the culprit.

What Exactly Is Metabolism?

Metabolism is the process by which food is converted into energy by your body.

This involves countless biochemical processes in which calories from proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in the food you eat combine with oxygen to release energy.

Each day, your body burns a certain number of calories, representing what’s called your total energy expenditure.

This is affected by three major factors:

Processing of food. About 10% of the calories are used to fuel digestion, absorption, transport, and storage of the food you eat. Generally, this percentage remains steady and cannot easily change.

Basic needs. About 66-75% of calories are used for basic bodily functions such as breathing, circulating blood, repairing cells, adjusting hormonal levels, and keeping the organs properly functioning.

The calories your body uses up to maintain itself is called your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, which is measured in kilojoules.

When you are on a weight loss regimen, it’s important to preserve your muscle mass, because this is responsible for your BMR.

When muscle, or lean mass, is reduced, your BMR is also reduced.

Men have higher BMRs (about 7,100 kJ/day) than women (about 5,900 kJ/day) and although you continuously expend energy throughout the day, your BMR is lowest early in the morning.

Physical activity.

This may pertain to any movement you perform, such as swimming, running, walking, or even going up and down the stairs. You have great control over this aspect since it is determined by the duration, frequency, and intensity of your movements or activities.

Even if the energy expended by the muscles comprise a mere 20% of the total energy expenditure, this may go up to about 50% during strenuous exercise.

The Myth About Metabolism

We’ve been told since we were small that slim people have high metabolism while those who are overweight are ‘victims’ of slow metabolism.

This is true to a certain extent, but is not always correct.

Rather, weight gain or loss depends more on the balance between total calories consumed and total energy expended.

If you have a habit of taking in more than you can burn, expect to tip the scales at steadily growing figures.

It is for this reason that the benefits of diet and exercise cannot be overemphasized.

The BMR is also influenced by many factors that work in combination with each other.

True, it’s partly affected by your genes, but you also need to take into account age, gender, hormonal imbalances, illnesses, dietary deficiencies, the amount of muscle and body fat, and even crash dieting.

For instance, going on crash diets won’t speed up your metabolism – in fact, you’ll get opposite results, as your body automatically slows down metabolism to conserve energy due to your low caloric intake.

There are, of course, several effective and safe ways to work around one’s predisposition to a sluggish metabolism to get rid of unwanted inches and pounds.

M. Jamal

Do you feel comfortable in your skin?

Do you ever compare yourself to other women you meet or pass by?

Sometimes it’s hard to stop such thoughts from popping into your head – especially with every other mag, billboard and TV commercial trying to portray a ‘super woman’ figure that’s hardly realistic (see my earlier post When Gorgeous Jessica Alba Isn’t Thin Enough!!).

How about turning that cycle around and loving yourself on a deeper level?

Learn to Love Your Body.

Well, I found this interesting video that gives you 5 steps to loving the skin you’re in (check it out and see the “in front of the mirror switch your thoughts” example)

Here’s another one that expands on the same concept (how “what’s considered beautiful has changed over time and where the ‘thin & skinny’ came into the picture”… plus… “food choice drivers”)

Would love to know what you think about the issue of Body Image: Do you ever struggle with this? Do you ever find it frustrating?

M. Jamal

P.S. Check out this Dove ‘Body Image’ Ad shoot.

It’s sort of taking a peak inside the beauty industry. I thought it’s worth sharing with you as I glanced at this comment: “Its amazing that we base our vision of beauty on people that don’t really exist…”

Next time you glance at a magazine and secretly desire to look like the cover model… think again…

These days even some of the most beautiful women in the world have to be digitally altered to look thinner (abnormally thin, something that doesn’t even look natural).

Case in point, stunning Jessica Alba had to be airbrushed the 2009 Campari calendar.

You probably heard about this.

In fact, touch-ups removed flesh from her already slim thighs, slimmed her waist, her curves are gone and bust more defined (see photos here)

Is the ‘after’ photo better?

Is it inhumanly good?

Personally, I think the ‘before’ is way better. More real. More natural.  Softer and still gorgeous.

There’s a point where ‘skinnier’ doesn’t mean better.

What’s worse, these airbrushed photos pose standards and expectations that are simply unrealistic and impossible to attain.

I mean, it’s natural to desire to look and feel your best. Yet some days it seems like… you can’t be skinny enough… young enough… perfect enough!

It’s like your body is under constant public scrutiny (and for celebrities, I guess they’re expected to look flawless 24/7).

Whoever poisoned people’s minds with the “if you’re not thin you’re fat!”

Has the media distorted our idea of “What’s Average”?

Take for example, Jessica Simpson’s recent case…

Last month the singer steps out to perform in Florida in a fuller figure… and, get this… it sparked headlines like “Is Jessica fat or just curvy?” and a seriously overweight cartoons of her in The New York Post.

Seriously, is this what people consider ‘overweight’?!

(image courtesy of Yahoo OMG!)

(for more on this read this excellent blog post by Melissa McEwan

There’s countless examples just like that (see my previous pot for some interesting ‘digital imagery magic’ samples).

Plus, I bet you’re noticing that tabloid trend.

Even more, some of us are getting caught up in this.

Snappy Snaps, the English photo specialist, have been reporting a 550% increase in ‘photo retouching’ requests.

These are requests by non-celebs, every day men and women. I guess it’s a bit like digital plastic surgery with instant results (reference).

Another blog post by Lara Oliver confirms this:

“I’ve already seen a huge spike in the amount of girls who edit their profile pictures on the Internet in hopes of smoothing out skin, enlarging and/or shrinking areas of their body or changing colors in order to seem more appealing. And it makes me really sad. Not only is it lying, but it also demonstrates a severe lack of self-esteem on the part of most young women today.”

Lara hits the nail on the head when she says:

“So, if female celebrities aren’t even attractive enough anymore to grace magazines, movie covers and other print outlets without major editing, how are regular women supposed to feel?”

What about you?

Are you feeling the pressure?

Do you simply ignore it and set your own goals?

How do you handle this when it seems that… in the lens of the media… none of us are ‘good enough’ (not even naturally beautiful celebrities!)?

Dedicated to looking and feeling your best,

M. Jamal

Have you ever looked at a stunning figure or near perfect beauty in a magazine (or newspaper) and thought… is this for real?

The reality is… more and more photos are re-touched to perfection.

I’ll be posting more on this tomorrow, for now check out some proof of how easy this is:

Here’s another illustration called…

The “200% Body: Everything you can do with your appearance”

It’s hard to believe how easy it is to touch-up and transform an average photo into an exaggerated, ideal near-super woman. Click here to see it… then click the photo, wait a moment for the presentation to load… then click the bottom strip that reads “What Is Real And What Is Not? Click To See”

M. Jamal