Fueling your Performance with Fall Flavors

by Megan Maisano

Gearing up for this year’s Turkey Trot? This month Megan Maisano shares seasonal foods and recipes that will fuel your best performance.

Photo: Megan Maisano

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, it’s not the winter holiday yet, but the season runners have patiently waited for over the last ten months: Fall.

After the heat and humidity of its summer, New England graces us with a pocket of blissful conditions before winter forces us back into the gym. Running just feels more effortless with crisp air, stunning foliage, crunchy leaves to step on, and trendy tights to rock.

The fall is also prime harvest season. So, when you swap your Mango Peach Salsa Yankee Candle with Apple Spice, be sure to do the same with your grocery list. Your palate and your legs will thank you.

Below are a few fall favorites you can count on to fuel your workouts, recover quickly, and perform your best.

Photo: Pixabay

Beets

Nitrates, baby. There is growing evidence on their performance-enhancing effects. While nitrates are found in nearly all vegetables, beetroots take the lead with more than 250 milligrams per 100-gram portion.1 Dietary nitrate is converted into nitric oxide, where it functions in blood flow regulation, muscle contraction, glucose and calcium homeostasis, and mitochondrial respiration. By increasing blood flow and decreasing oxygen needs during exercise, beets may improve your speed and stamina.1-4

This simple, yet hearty, Food Network salad balances the earthy taste of beets with creamy goat cheese and crunchy nuts. Add chicken or quinoa to make it a well-rounded meal.

Photo; Pixabay

Winter Squash

Pumpkins, butternut squash, and acorn squash are all in the same family of winter squash. Compared to their summer squash cousins, they have thick skins which means longer storage life and obligatory decoration on your kitchen counter.

Their bright orange color is a clear indicator that they’re packed with beta-carotene, an antioxidant that will keep our immune system in check and support our vision. But they’re also an excellent source of carbohydrates, potassium, fiber, and vitamin C. Eat before workouts to keep you energized and hydrated, or eat afterwards to replenish glycogen stores and repair muscle tissue.5-9

Don’t toss those pumpkin seeds either! They offer a tasty source of protein, iron, and magnesium – nutrients that must be replenished after strenuous exercise. Bonus — pumpkin seeds are also rich in tryptophan, an amino acid involved in the synthesis of serotonin and melatonin.10-12 Toss seeds on salads, roasted squash, or soup to reap benefits on mood and sleep.

Pumpkin or butternut? Can’t decide? Have both. Try this Food & Wine soup as an appetizer for your post-Turkey Trot meal.

 

Photo: Pixabay

Cabbage

A stomach can be a runner’s worst enemy, but cabbage is a stomach’s best friend. High in fiber, cabbage will keep you feeling full longer and keep your digestion system, ahem, on track. There’s also emerging research on the benefits of probiotics, like cabbage kimchi, on athletic performance via enhanced recovery from fatigue, immune function, and GI function maintenance.13

Still on that Oktoberfest kick? Try this German-inspired Eating Well dish that pairs pork chops with a sweet-and-sour cabbage side. Hefeweizen optional. Prost!

 

Photo: Pixabay

Clementines

When the days get shorter and darker, a fresh clementine can brighten up your day. Get your “Christmas-orange” while it’s in season from late October to early February. The citrus smell that the peel leaves on your hands will keep you feeling rejuvenated through afternoon class. Rich in vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium, these easy-to-peel snacks can help reduce exercise-related oxidative stress, support a healthy immune system, and keep you hydrated.14-17 Vitamin C also plays a role in the production of collagen, which is important for joint and tissue recovery after a workout.14,15

Combine citrus with cinnamon spice after your workout with this One Green Planet breakfast bowl. Bonus—cinnamon has anti-inflammatory effects that may decrease muscle soreness in response to cell damage.19 

Resources:

  1. Murphy, M et al. Whole Beetroot Consumption Acutely Improves Running Performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2012;112(4):548-552.
  2. Coleman, Ellen. Reap the Benefits of Beetroot Juice — Evidence Suggests It Improves Heart Health and Athletic Performance. Today’s Dietitian. 2012;14(2):48.
  3. Shannon, Oliver et al. “Beet-ing” the Mountain: A Review of the Physiological and Performance Effects of Dietary Nitrate Supplementation at Simulated and Terrestrial Altitude. Sports Medicine. 2017;47(11):2155-2169.
  4. Peeling P, Cox GR, Bullock N, Burke LM. Beetroot Juice Improves On-Water 500 M Time-Trial Performance, and Laboratory-Based Paddling Economy in National and International-Level Kayak Athletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2015;25(3):278-84.
  5. Krustrup et al. Sodium bicarbonate intake improves high-intensity intermittent exercise performance in trained young men. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2015;12(25).
  6. Feldman, Donna. Why Sodium-Potassium Balance Is Critical for Better Hydration. com. <https://www.active.com/nutrition/articles/why-sodium-potassium-balance-is-critical-for-better-hydration&gt;. Accessed October 2017.
  7. Mansfield, Beth. Fall Nutrition means Winter Squash! Peak Performance. <http://peakperformance-ca.blogspot.com/2010/10/fall-nutrition-means-winter-squash.html&gt;. Accessed October 2017.
  8. Peternelj, T, Coombs, J. Antioxidant Supplementation during Exercise. Beneficial or Detrimental? Sports Medicine. 2011; 41(12): 10342-1069.
  9. LeBlanc K, Nelson, A. Beta-Carotene and Exercise Performance.: Effects on Race Performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 1999; 31(5):118.
  10. Brown, Mary. Top 11 Science-Based Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds. Authority Nutrition. June 2016. < https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-benefits-of-pumpkin-seeds#section1&gt;. Accessed October 2017.
  11. Ristić-Medić et al. Alpha-linolenic acid and cardiovascular diseases. Med Pregl.2003; 56(1):19-25.
  12. Chollet et al. Magnesium involvement in sleep: genetic and nutritional models. Behav Genet. 2001;31(5):413-25.
  13. Pyne et al. Probiotics supplementation for athletes – Clinical and physiological effects. European Journal of Sport Science. 2014; 15(1):63-72.
  14. Economos C, Clay W.D. Nutritional and health benefits of citrus fruits. FAO Corporate Document Repository. 1998. <http://www.fao.org/docrep/x2650T/x2650t03.htm#TopOfPage&gt;. Accessed October 2017.
  15. Shaw et al. Vitamin C–enriched gelatin supplementation before intermittent activity augments collagen synthesis. American Society for Nutrition. 2017;105(1):136-143.
  16. Organic Facts.9 Best Benefits of Clementines. <https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/clementines.html&gt;. Accessed October 2017.
  17. Adams AK, Best TM. The role of antioxidants in exercise and disease prevention. Phys Sportsmed. 2002;30(5):37-44.
  18. Baur, J. What fall produce should I eat? Runner’s World. 2017;10:p 36.
  19. Mashhadi et al. Influence of Ginger and Cinnamon Intake on Inflammation and Muscle Soreness Endued by Exercise in Iranian Female Athletes. Int J Prev Med. 2013; 4(1): S11–S15.

Megan Maisano, referred to as Megatron by family, is a second-year NICBC student and an RD-to-be. As a marathoner, triathlete, and military veteran, she’s interested in how nutritious food can best fuel endurance performance. She loves to plan and has a special place in her heart for mixed nuts and her pup, Nala.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Volunteer at an event that is sure to inspire! Girls On The Run 5K

by Dani Bradley

Looking for a volunteer opportunity where you can be outside, be physically active, and help empower girls? Dani Bradley tells us what she loves about Girls on the Run, and how you can get involved this winter.

Photo: GOTR Facebook page

Photo: GOTR Facebook page

Has the cold weather stifled your fitness inspiration? That’s nothing girls with pink tutus and sparkles can’t fix.

Girls on the Run (GOTR) is an amazing organization that “inspires girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running”. GOTR empowers and educates young girls, in grades three through eight, to help them realize their full potential and provides an unmatched opportunity to develop healthy habits in our youth. The organization began in 1996 in North Carolina and now has over 225 councils across the country! During a 12-week season, girls participate in a program that integrates running and lessons about various GOTR values such as, empowerment, responsibility, and healthfulness, to name only a few. Girls can sign up with specific ‘sites’—usually the town they live in or the community program they are a part of. Any town or community center can start their own site through their local council, with their own funding or as a scholarship site, as long as there are volunteer coaches and girls that are ready to sign up!

When I first became involved with GOTR I was interested in becoming a coach, but unfortunately my job before becoming a Friedman student didn’t allow me to partake in the after-school practices. A former co-worker and I reached out to GOTR’s 5k team leader asking how we could get involved and she told us the Greater Boston council was in the midst of planning their first 5k! We quickly got involved and became the co-chairs to the volunteer committee on the 5k planning team. While my involvement is primarily behind the scenes, it is extremely gratifying to know that I play a role in the success of the program and can positively contribute to each girls’ experience! I think most Friedman students share in GOTR’s values of health and fitness and can appreciate the impact that can be made when young girls are taught healthy habits early in life.

Ready to get inspired? This December the Greater Boston council is hosting its Fall 5k at Dedham High school and you can volunteer! In my opinion, the 5k is the most exciting part of the program. Each girl and her ‘running buddy’ (usually a parent, guardian, babysitter, etc.) partake in a fun-filled day of exercise, empowerment, and excitement!

In my position as volunteer committee co-chair, I co-manage all of the event’s volunteers. Each year, over 100 inspired volunteers help us run the event.

Volunteer opportunities include (but are not limited to):

  • Course Marshals are assigned a specific location on the course where they help guide the runners in the correct direction and cheer them on.
  • Happy hair volunteers participate in the pre-race activities including helping girls with their hair (braiding, spray-painting, etc.), temporary tattoos, face painting, operating a photo booth, and other fun activities!
  • Water stops volunteers help set up the water stations along the course, hand out water to runners, and clean up the area after the girls have passed by. This is a great option if a group of people all want to volunteer together.
  • Registration volunteers help the GOTR team with runner check-in.
  • Sparkle Runners are volunteers that register to run the race. Each girl is required to run with a ‘running buddy’ for safety purposes, but each year some running buddies cannot make it last minute. Sparkle runners can stand in for missing running buddies or just run the course helping to cheer on all the girls.
  • Cheer Hub volunteers motivate the girls at the toughest parts of the course using noisemakers and signs.
  • Merchandise volunteers manage the merchandise table and sell our awesome GOTR gear.
Photo: GOTR Facebook page

Photo: GOTR Facebook page

Our upcoming 5k is scheduled for Sunday, December 4th at Dedham High School in Dedham, MA.

Grab your friends, classmates, roommates, coworkers, or family and register to volunteer with us!! The deadline to register is Sunday, November 27th.

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me at Danielle.bradley@tufts.edu. I hope to see you there!

Learn more about Girls on the Run and Girls on the Run Greater Boston.

Dani Bradley is a MPH/FPAN dual degree student. She began at the School of Medicine in January 2016 and is currently in her first semester at the Friedman School. In her free time, she enjoys running, spending time outside, and watching The Office or Parks and Recreation.  

Stop, Circuit Time! Strength Training for Runners

by Micaela Young

Fall is the best season for running: The return of goldilocks temperatures, the crunch of leaves under our feet and the refreshing crispness of the air happily gets us outside. Whether you plan to take on new PR or distance goals this autumn, or just want to enjoy nature’s scenery, the simple strength training circuits below will help you go the distance.

 Strength training is an ambiguous topic for most runners. Are we supposed to lift? If we are, what do we do and how often? Scientists and coaches alike have flip-flopped on the topic, but new research shows that a little strength goes a long way. Plyometrics and strength training interventions, both of low and high intensity, greatly improve running economy—the amount of oxygen required to propel your muscles over a certain distance—according to a new systematic review and meta-analysis published this summer in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

So, how much should you do? Well this depends on many factors, including workout schedule (if you’re lacing up for an upcoming race) and personal recovery rates, but general guidelines recommend including at least two nonconsecutive strength days per week. Bodyweight circuits are a great way to fit in strength work anywhere, even on a time crunch. Use these two circuits to kick-start—or change up—your training week.

Happy Running!

Circuit #1: For After Easy Running Days

Time: Approximately 10 minutes

 1 min each

1- Pushups

 Modify this by carefully dropping to your knees.

2- Side Squats

30 seconds each side.

3- Forward Lunge Hold with Jumping

Do a front lunge, hold it, count to three and then jump into a forward lunge on the opposite leg.

4- Single Leg Deadlifts

Balance on one leg, lean forward until hands are near shins. Keep abs, butt and back engaged, and chest out. Keep eyes looking straight ahead. Knee are slightly bent. Alternate legs.

5- Knee-to-Outside Elbow Planks

Begin in a straight arm standard plank. Bring your right to knee to right elbow. Count to three. Repeat on opposite side.

6- Side Plank with Hip Raises – Left Side

7- Side Plank with Hip Raises – Right Side

Untimed

Bridge Series

10 reps—bridge with both legs

10 reps on left leg with right leg extended out

10 reps on left leg with right leg extended up

10 reps on right leg with left leg extended out

10 reps on right leg with left leg extended up

 

Circuit #2: For After Short or Non-Running Days

Time: Approximately 20 minutes
Warmup:

50 Jumping Jacks

10/leg Shallow lunges with torso twist

20 Shallow squats

2 pushups

1 min each

Set your watch/phone to beep every minute on repeat.

Workout:

Burpees

Extra: Add a jump at the top

Military lunges

Form check: These are regular forward lunges (not letting knee go past toes) with hands placed behind your head, keeping your elbows out of sight and back engaged

Forearm Plank Hold

Extra: Alternate leg lifts

Squats

Form check: Knees in line with shins, not leaning forward past toes. Keep your head up and butt back as if you were sitting in a chair. Lower down as far as you comfortably can.

Jump Squats

Form check: Same form as regular squats, just add a small jump in between each

Left Side Plank

Form check: Keep elbow and shoulder in line with one another – to protect shoulder joint

Extra: Add a torso lift, or do reps of lifting your right leg up & down for a challenge

Matrix lunges-Left leg

Form check: Forward lunge, side lunge, backwards lunge, and forward again. Repeat.

Right Side Plank

Extra: Add a torso lift, or do reps of lifting your right leg up & down for a challenge

Burpees w/Pushup

Extra: Add a jump at the top

Matrix lunges – Right leg

Form check: Forward lunge, side lunge, backwards lunge, and forward again. Repeat.

Mountain Climbers

Extra: Bring knee to the opposite arm for an added twist

Left Leg Balance

Form check: Keep left foot planted on floor. Do reps of bringing right knee up to 90-degree angle with running arms.

Extra: (1) Do not let right leg touch floor. (2) Speed it up for an added challenge. (3) Straighten right leg after bringing it up to 90-degree angle.

Artwork by Nathan McElrath

Deadlifts

Form check: These can be done with weights if you have them, but if not just focus on keeping abs, butt and back engaged, and chest out. Keep eyes looking straight ahead. Knees are slightly bent.

Extra: Try single leg deadlifts for an added balance challenge

Right Leg Balance

Form check: Keep right foot planted on floor. Do reps of bringing left knee up to 90-degree angle with running arms.

Extra: (1) Do not let right leg touch floor. (2) Speed it up for an added challenge. (3) Straighten right leg after bringing it up to 90-degree angle.

Forearm Plank Hold w/Hip Twists

Form check: Try getting your hip bone as close, and as comfortably, as you can to the floor. It is important to keep your abs engaged to avoid straining your back.

Other helpful Sprout links:

Top Boston Running Spots

Tips for Running in the Cold

Micaela Young is a second-year NUTCOM student and certified personal trainer with the American College of Sports Medicine. After four years of collegiate running, she knows a thing or twenty about using strength training to prevent injuries and get the most out of your running.

 

What is Intermittent Fasting, and Does It Really Work?

By Hannah Meier

You may have heard of caloric restriction and the myriad benefits it supposedly brings to the metabolic table. New research suggests that intermittent fasting could be a safe way for people to improve their health, but before you adopt this eating pattern, read up on six common mistakes to avoid.

The newest diet to gain popular attention isn’t much of a diet at all. It is something that most people who adhere to a traditional sleeping and waking cycle are already primed to do—and, proponents would argue, is something humans have been doing successfully for centuries. Intermittent Fasting (IF) has garnered support in the fitness community as a weight management tool for bodybuilders and other fitness enthusiasts. Recently, a growing portion of the scientific community has begun to also regard IF as a feasible way to improve metabolic health and perhaps even extend one’s lifespan.

Instead of eating many times throughout the day, between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm for example, Intermittent Fasters will couple periods of extended fasting (from 14 to 24 hours) with shorter periods of eating. This can be achieved by a change as simple as lengthening the overnight fast by a few hours each day. Different variations of IF propose reducing intake to 500-600 calories for just two days of the week; others recommend one full, 24-hour weekly fast. There are no particular restrictions on the type of foods allowed to be consumed, as long as meals are kept within the “eating window” and consumption does not surpass the feeling of comfortable fullness.

Experimental studies in rats have suggested that providing the body with an extended fast (up to 24 hours) is physiologically beneficial, potentially improving insulin sensitivity, decreasing resting heart rate and blood pressure and reducing body wide inflammation—all of which could contribute to a longer expected lifespan. Further, adapting to a shorter eating window may help to moderate overall calorie intake. Randomized controlled trials demonstrating benefits in humans have yet to be published. Because humans share an evolutionary adaptation to generations of unpredictable periods of fasting and feasting, however, scientists are eager to tease out this connection in future studies.

Still, many nutrition professionals are hesitant to advocate IF as superior to other diets or as a safe and effective approach to weight loss. At the end of the day, reducing calories consumed and increasing energy expended through physical activity is what matters for losing weight, and there are many ways to achieve this goal that do not require adopting a rigid eating schedule. It is important to consider your lifestyle, motivation, and sacrifices you are willing (or not willing) to make in order to reap the potential benefits of intermittent fasting. Like any diet, adherence is key to success. Here are six common mistakes to avoid if you think intermittent fasting sounds like something you want to try.

Six Mistakes Most People Make When They Begin Intermittent Fasting

  1. Giving up too soon

It is normal to feel more irritable or sluggish as the body adapts to a longer fasting period and adjusts its hormonal signaling (most scientists believe this adaptation underlies many of the health benefits of IF). Intermittent Fasters will likely find that true hunger feels different than the hunger pangs and uptick in heartbeat associated with fluctuating blood sugar, which we experience when we are used to frequent eating—learn to recognize it.

  1. Forgetting about quality
The "Basic Seven" Developed by the USDA in 1943

The “Basic Seven” Developed by the USDA in the 1940’s

Even though IF does not restrict the type of foods allowed to be consumed during the eating period, it’s essential to maintain proper nutrition. Metabolic improvements like insulin sensitivity and reduced inflammation could very well be negated if fasters neglect nutritional balance and decide to eat foods high in salt, saturated fat, and refined carbohydrates exclusively, avoiding fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. You may still lose weight if you’re consuming fewer calories overall, but the efficiency of your body systems will suffer—and you probably won’t feel too well, either.

 

 

  1. Forgetting to hydrate

Hydration is key, especially during periods of fasting. Adequate hydration is necessary for pretty much every function in the body and will keep you feeling energized and alert. During fasting periods water, tea, coffee and no- or low-calorie beverages are allowed (just watch out for added cream and sugar). Keep tabs on the color of your urine as a gauge for hydration status: if it is darker than the light-yellow of hay you need to drink more fluid.

  1. Exercising too much

Some athletes swear by intermittent fasting as a means to improve performance, burn more fat, and even increase endurance. However, none of these benefits have consistently been backed up with controlled human studies. In fact, many observational studies of Muslim athletes during Ramadan show evidence of decreased performance (some athletes practicing IF might not maintain a fasting pattern requiring them to train during a fasted state, so these experimental differences could be important in interpreting results). Moderate and consistent exercise is encouraged for general health, but excessive exercise on top of prolonged fasting may send the body in to a state of chronic stress which can lead to inflammation, lean tissue breakdown, insulin resistance and injury.

  1. Not working with your schedule

There are different variations of IF and the only thing that makes one program more effective than the next is whether or not you can stick to it. For example, don’t decide to fast for 24 hours if you know missing your nightly family dinner will cause mental and social strain. There are many methods for reducing calorie intake for weight loss, and intermittent fasting may not be right for you if it leads to feelings of isolation and reduced quality of life.

  1. Believing that if some is good, more is better

Just because a little bit of fasting may be healthy does not mean that a lot of fasting is healthy. Going too long without food can lead the body into a state known as “starvation mode,” which greatly slows the metabolic rate, begins breaking down muscle for energy, and stores a greater majority of consumed calories as fat. Further, fasting for too long can lead to severe feelings of deprivation and preoccupation with food, culminating in uncontrollable or disordered eating behavior including binging and even anorexia. If you sense your relationship with food is becoming abnormal because of IF, make necessary adjustments and seek help if needed. 

Because IF can represent a major shift in metabolism and routine, most nutrition professionals are hesitant to recommend it as an intervention for just anyone. It is important to work with a licensed professional who understands your needs and who can help you maintain optimal nutrition, physical activity, and mental health during periods of prolonged fasting. Preliminary studies show that IF, when done right, may be a great tool for improving health, but it is not the only option to boost endurance and lose weight.

Hannah Meier is a first-year, second-semester NUTCOM student, registered dietitian and aspiring spokesperson for honest, scientifically driven and individualized nutrition. 

#TrainLikeAnAngel: Victoria’s Secret Models Box

by Katie Mark

Dim the lights. Cue the music. Turn it up. Stare down your opponent: a black, 100-pound bag hanging from a chain. Slip your wrapped hands into the gloves. Lift both hands up against your face. Jab, jab, cross. Hit. That. Shit.

Boxing. Who would’ve thought this traditionally masculine workout would become trendy among women? Despite its history, boxing is a heavy component to the exercise curriculum of this generation’s models who really work out—models who workout like athletes.

Boxing is the new exercise in the gym that’s challenging spinning, Pilates and, barre classes. It rapidly improves body composition because—guess what—skinny fat is out. A lean machine is the new cool.

Aside from allowing you to hit the shit out of something, boxing holistically improves health. Let’s explore how boxing enhances three important pillars of overall health: physical, mental, and emotional. Then we’ll look at which Victoria’s Secret models use boxing to #TrainLikeAnAngel.

Physical

Lean body composition. The goal of exercise shouldn’t just be weight loss because that can be due to fat, muscle, or water. Focus on a leaner body composition, meaning more muscle mass and less fat mass. Boxing combines muscle-building strength moves with calorie-crushing bouts of cardio, which is the left side to the equation of a leaner body composition.

Strengthen the ENTIRE body. You need strength to punch, kick, and jump. Yes, to beat the crap out of a 100-pound heavy bag. In one workout, you could kick and punch a bag at least 100 times. This engages your upper body, lower body, and core (hello, abs.). Strength training moves, such as kettlebell exercises, planks, mountain climbers, pushups, and burpees, between rounds will have you drenched in sweat in no time.

Enhance cardiovascular health. How boring is jumping on a treadmill to reduce your risk for heart disease, burn calories, and lose weight? The purpose of cardio is to put a moderate amount of stress on your heart and lungs to challenge them to make physiological adaptations. Boxing keeps your heart rate up in a fun way, unlike a monotonous treadmill. And boxing may be more strenuous than other cardio options. Can you have a conversation when spinning on the bike? Good luck finding your breath to do so while boxing.

Mental

Reduce negative psychological states. A study conducted in 2012 used participants with health difficulties and placed them in a six-week structured Boxercise program. The authors found positive physical and psychological benefits and observed increased levels of hedonic (pleasure) and eudaimonic (meaning/self-realization) well-being. Boxing brought “affective beneficence” – the enhanced levels of positive affect and well-being immediately following chronic and acute activity participation.

Increase confidence. Learning to throw punches can give you confidence in defending yourself, improve your primary sport performance, or increase overall confidence. If you’re willing to get in the ring to trade punches with someone, then the benefit only increases. Ability to take a punch gives you greater confidence not only as an athlete, but also with respect to what you’re capable of in life.

Increase concentration. Boxing gets you focusing on the ‘here and now.’ It pushes you to focus on concentration. You have to practice controlling your concentration when punching at a swinging, inanimate heavy bag, speed bag or partner in the ring. These will all force you to think and react quickly.

Emotional

Decrease stress. Any moderate-to-intense physical activity can decrease stress. Physical activity increases endorphins, boosts mood, and serves as a meditation exercise. And like Elle Woods says in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” You need more than just a walk around the block. You need a place to “leave it all out on the field.” And that’s what boxing does: It gives you the heavy bag or the ring.

Reduce worry. In boxing, you transition through two periods: high intensity and moderate intensity (recovery) periods. During high intensity, there’s no time to worry about a deadline you have tomorrow or the mess in your kitchen. During rest periods, you’re focused more on breathing and the next high intensity period…not on your packed calendar.

Fighting spirit. Boxing and fighting go hand-in-hand. And it’s the spirit from fighting that gives you the strength to get back up. We’re constantly fighting small battles both consciously and subconsciously. We react to what’s thrown at us, and we might punch back with no sense of purpose. Boxing gives you the tools (self-confidence and strength) to fight these everyday battles.

Victoria’s Secret Models: Boxing to Angel Slim

Victoria’s Secret (VS) developed the “Train Like an Angel” series that provides insight into the VS models’ workout routines.

Adriana Lima has boxed for the past decade, but not only for the VS Fashion Show. She credits her body to boxing and has claimed that you get toned, but not bulky, from boxing. Lima describes boxing as her passion and enjoys training like a professional fighter through 90-minute workouts several times per week at Aerospace NYC with former middleweight boxing champion Michael Olajide, Jr. He also runs a “Supermodel Training Camp” in Tulum, Mexico, to help VS angels prepare for the VS Fashion Show.

Swedish VS model Elsa Hosk might not wear the same wings as Lima, but she also boxes every morning. Another VS angel Lindsay Ellingson also mixes up her workouts with boxing. And the newest VS angel, 23-year-old Australian Shanina Shaik hits the ring, too.

Lily Aldridge, VS angel and Sports Illustrated model, frequents the Gotham Gym, a boxing gym in the West Village of New York. Gotham Gym attracts many models who partake in body weight training with rounds of cardio, specifically three minutes of fighting with a one-minute rest. As new VS angel Gigi Hadid tweeted about the gym’s owner Rob Piela, “[he is] the guy who makes up for my love of burgers and pasta.”

VS angel Karlie Kloss does her ModelFIT, a downtown Manhattan fitness studio, workout and says she “treats” herself more as an athlete than a model.

Train Like an Angel for Better Health

If there’s one thing about VS angels that you should copy, it’s their workout routine. Boxing, as long as you do it consistently, can bring significant physical, mental, and emotional health benefits.

I’m not promising you’ll end up looking like a VS angel—maybe you will—but you could end up feeling like one…minus the angel wing status.

Katie Mark is a second year MS/MPH student interested in a career as a registered dietitian focusing on sports nutrition. She attempts to #TrainLikeAnAngel in her free time.