While healthcare specifics vary by individual, having a general understanding established by doctors and research can help guide your daily choices for the better. Covering topics from diet to sleep, we've rounded up a few numbers you should strive for or, at the very least, consider. Some numbers are simply a reminder, while others may surprise you. Check out the complete list below.
Doutzen Kroes is undeniably gorgeous, but the supermodel said recently that she doesn't always feel great about herself — or her job.
"Sometimes it makes me feel guilty now that I am in this profession that makes certain girls insecure," Kroes told Page Six. "I always say, I don't look like the picture . . . If you put me in bad light with no hair and makeup, it's not good."
Nevertheless, Kroes told us last year that it's unreasonable to expect women who aren't models to look the way she looks.
"I have an amazing trainer," she said at the 2012 CFDA Awards. "But it's also my job. You can't compare my life to somebody who goes to work every day; I have to look this way."
A look at Kroes's style, her one food weakness, and how she stays trim, here in the gallery.
— Additional reporting by Justin Fenner
Elliptical trainers are a gym favorite. Not only is this cardio machine joint friendly, it's incredibly versatile. You can go forward and backward, work your arms and legs, or focus on your core — all while getting your heart rate up. Here are some tips to help you maximize your minutes on the elliptical machine.
- If your focus is cardio: Watch your strides per minute. SPM is the number of times your legs go around in 60 seconds, a stat most ellipticals conveniently track for you. After warming up, aim to keep your strides per minute between 140 and 160. If you're doing intervals on the elliptical, make sure your "sprints" are above 160. Here's a great elliptical workout with sprint intervals so you can start practicing this technique.
- If your focus is toning your thighs: Pay attention to your feet. Pressing more with your heels will work your hamstrings and butt more, while pressing more with your toes will tone your quads on the front of your thighs. Pedaling backward on the machine is also a great way to tone your backside — hamstrings and glutes. Increasing the incline is another way to focus the work on your glutes. Do try this 35-minute workout that truly targets the backside.
Interested in a few more tips? Then read more.
Running, while an easy exercise to pick up, isn't for everyone; one person's meditative mile is another's boredom-inducing march. But if you're an erstwhile enthusiastic new runner who can't quite seem to get into the sport, make sure you read these tips before you write off your new hobby for good.
- Don't go overboard: You may be ready to pound the pavement with the best of them (at least in your mind), but enthusiasm and skill don't always match up — which can lead to discouragement and injuries that can set you back. Don't push yourself too far or fast when you first start running; just focus on learning the right form and how to breathe while you run rather than your pace when you first start. Once you're comfortable with how running feels, try following a plan designed to make you a faster, better runner, like this beginner's 5K training plan.
- Go at the right time: When you run when you have the most energy, you'll be more likely to actually like your new hobby. Try out different times to run to see when you feel your best. You may find that running those three miles in the morning is a breeze compared to mustering up enough energy to hit the treadmill after work.
- Fuel right: You need energy for your run, but slipping on your sneakers right after a big meal is a recipe for disaster. Stop the stomach aches by planning out your meals with your running times. You should wait at least two to three hours after a main meal before you go for a run. If it's been longer, have a small, easily digestible pre-workout snack at least 30 minutes before you go.
More tips for learning to like running after the break.
If you're struggling with dropping those last few pounds, then ditch the diet and race to your dream body — literally! Instead of getting frustrated, sign up for a race and start seeing results. Unlike the gym or diets, entering a race will keep you on track and motivated. It doesn't have to be a marathon, either; there are several beginner-friendly options like triathlons and 5Ks just for women. Between the deadline and a training plan, there are a lot of reasons why a little competition should have you well on your way to your fitness goals.
- There's a deadline: A set date means a set goal. With the race marked on your calendar, there is little room for procrastination or excuses. Because you have to be in shape by a certain day, it offers you all the more reason to create a schedule and visualize your dream body by a specific date.
- There's a plan: When it comes a training, find something that works for you: a friend, group, or program. To start, consider training plans for a sprint triathlon, half marathon, or a marathon. Remember, you don't have to do it alone. Training with a motivating partner is a great way to hold you accountable, and many races have local training clubs leading up to race day (that information can be found on their webpage).
- There's money involved: Races aren't free. On average, entry fees are about $100 — a bargain considering most diet programs. With money on the line, this is all the more reason to follow through and get the most bang for your buck. Aside from your hot body, you'll probably walk away with loads of swag, too — win.
- There's variety: Let's be honest — diets can be bland, and the gym can be routine. Training for a race (especially a triathlon) allows you mix it up. Between strength training at the gym and hitting the pavement outdoors, there are several way to keep it fresh and prevent boredom.
- There's a lot of fun to be had: Signing up for your first competition can be nerve-racking, but ultimately it's fun. Not only will you be training toward your goals, but also, you'll develop friendships and learn a lot about yourself along the way. Don't forget about the postrace parties, either. There's rarely a race without a celebration that doesn't include food or dancing!
Enthusiasm will get you far when starting a new workout routine, but you can't stop there. When it comes to strength training, start by simply learning the basics.
Perfecting the basic moves — think sit-ups, push-ups, squats, and planks — helps you build on your strength-training routine safely and effectively, especially since once you've learned how to do a basic move, you can add variations to make it more challenging. Not taking the time to learn a move correctly before you advance can lead to overuse or straining injuries as you continue your workout routine.
If you're new to strength training or it's been awhile since anyone has helped you correct your form, sign up for a circuit class at your gym and ask the instructor questions afterward, or buy a single personal-training session for a refresher. Our basic strength-training exercises primer will also have you lunging, planking, and squatting with the best of them.
Spring is a time for new beginnings, and if you've spent the Winter neglecting your normal routine, now's a good time to make sure you've got everything you need for a safe, fun workout — including checking your running shoes to see if they're worn out.
The amount of time it takes to replace your running shoes depends on how often and where you run, but if it's been a while since you've replaced your pair, check yours closely before you use them for another season. If the foam seems flattened or worn out or your shoes seem to be loose and not be giving you as much support, it may be time to replace them. Look for frays and tears in the mesh as well. Also, if you run in your shoes and notice joint or muscle pain while you run, your shoes have probably lost their ability to absorb shock, meaning it's time to buy new shoes.
When you spring for a new pair, make sure you watch our tips for buying new running shoes, and go to a reputable running shoe store to get properly fitted. And before you throw out your old pair, read our tips for recycling and donating them here.
There comes a time in every athlete's training regimen when it's time to flee from the comfortable and up the mileage. Whether you're a runner, swimmer, or biker there is general protocol to follow when amplifying workouts. As always, with this type of commitment, TLC between training sessions is key. From stretching to sleep, here are a few tips to keep in mind leading up to race day.
- Add more stretching: Soreness comes with the territory whenever taking a workout to the next level. Rather than looking at this as a bad thing, recognize it as your body's way of getting better. To prevent injury and minimize the aches and pains between workouts, it's essential to stretch. Follow these tips to maximize your stretches before and after every workout.
- Take time for TLC: If you've become serious about training, proper recovery is key to go the extra mile. Although massages seem like an unnecessary luxury, they are crucial for athletes. Not only do massages help your body recover quickly, they boost the immune system. The frequency and access to massage therapy will depend on your time and budget. But, you can also continue to foam roll or follow these tips to get similar massage benefits at home.
- Increase your caloric intake: Like any high-powered machine, proper fuel is critical for you to be at your best — especially complex carbs and lean protein. To keep energy levels high and allow the body to build muscle and recover properly, pre- and post-workout fuel must be a priority. Replace highly processed foods with greens, protein shakes, and healthy gym bag snacks.
- Invest in proper equipment: Increasing your mileage isn't just tough on your body, it's tough on your equipment too. For safety, make sure all your biking equipment is up to par or your running shoes can handle more than the treadmill. Over time, running shoes lose their ability to absorb shocks, properly cushion your steps, and support your arches. Before you know it, you could have easily racked up enough mileage to spring for a new pair. Aside from offering proper support, a new pair of runners can be just the motivation you need to finish strong.
- Get enough sleep: Sleep is vital to maximize training and performance. Our body uses sleep, like it uses nutrition, to repair and recover. A full night's rest will leave you feeling energized each morning to be at your best and make the most of your workout.
It's true what they say: 80 percent of success is just showing up. Once you're there — you're there. This advice can be hard to take when, after a late night of fun, your alarm goes off before the sun is up. Propelling yourself to the gym, pool, mat, or trail can feel like a hurdle in its own right, but it's always one worth jumping. If you've resolved to work out more this year and get fit for 2013, motivate yourself to keep on sweating with these tricks.
- Channel that glorious post-workout feeling. Whenever you feel the instinct to skip a sweat session, imagine how accomplished and energized you feel after just 30 minutes or an hour of exercise. Just get there already.
- Make a date with a friend or fitness trainer. If you set a time to meet someone, you'll feel obligated to go, even when your mind and body are telling you otherwise. If you're looking to get your sweat on outside of the gym, here are some of our favorite ideas for fitness dates, from rock climbing to ice skating.
- Create a healthy post-workout routine and make time for it, too. Reward yourself after a workout by scheduling extra moments to relax in the steam room, blow out your hair to perfection, or get a hot coffee or a protein-rich smoothie.
We don't want to be too critical; group classes are fun. But when you grow bored of your instructor, it's easy to get distracted. They might be having an off day or running out of motivation themselves, so just make sure their energy isn't affecting you. Here are some quick tips to stay motivated all hour long and ward off the day dreaming. Since you are there to work out, keep your eye on the prize and don't lose that excitement.
- Focus on the music: While your instructor's cues are important for staying on tempo, choose your own breaks to focus on the music for motivation. For instance, if your teacher is counting down the reps or repeating the same cue over and over again, take a break from listening to them and open your ears to the lyrics to pump yourself up.
- Look at others: Your instructor should be demonstrating, but if they aren't, look at other strong students in class. Sometimes witnessing someone else's strength will make you step up your game and even correct yourself based on their excellent form. Take note of the advanced women around you and raise your bar a little.
- Zone in: When boredom strikes, think about the reason you're there. It helps to concentrate on your trouble areas in class to remind yourself to keep them engaged. There are mirrors everywhere in the studio, so use them to your advantage. Choose one muscle group per class that you want to make a change with and challenge it throughout the entire class.
- Set a date: Goals are fun. When you grow bored of your teacher and can't muster the energy to listen anymore, just think about an upcoming event you want to look good at. Having an end goal in mind will help you keep your head in the game and carry your workout to the best of your ability. Stay focused and stay engaged.
If you're truly bored, try a new class! Do you ever come across boring instructors? Share your motivation tips with us!