TIME Diet/Nutrition

Here’s How to Stop Teens From Drinking Soda

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When kids learn how far they’d have to walk to burn off the calories in a soda, they tend to buy smaller sizes or stop buying it altogether, suggests a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Researchers analyzed more than 3,000 drink purchases by children ages 7 to 18 at stores in low-income Baltimore neighborhoods and found that sugary drinks accounted for 98% of the beverages kids bought. But when researchers put up colorful signs with calorie information, that figure dropped to 89%. The most effective sign was the one that said it would take a five-mile walk to burn off the calories in the drink. Researchers argue that while laws already require beverage manufacturers to post caloric information, calorie numbers may not mean all that much to many consumers. More practical information, including statistics about how long it will take to burn calories, is easier to grasp.

“This is a very low-cost way to get children old enough to make their own purchases to drink fewer sugar-sweetened beverages, and they appear to be effective even after they are removed,” says study author Sara N. Bleich, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University.

MORE: The Soda Industry’s Promises Mean Nothing

Sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas and energy drinks contribute significantly to a number of public health ailments that harm children, including obesity. In low-income communities the problem is especially rampant: Sugary drink consumption accounts for about 15% of a minority adolescent’s caloric intake, more than twice the recommended quantity. Interventions like this might help decrease that disparity.

“People don’t really understand what it means to say a typical soda has 250 calories,” says Bleich. “If you’re going to give people calorie information, there’s probably a better way to do it.”

Read next: The Soda Industry’s Promises Mean Nothing

TIME Exercise/Fitness

The Drug-Free Way to Fight Depression

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Exercising throughout adulthood can help to keep depression at bay Jupiterimages—Getty Images

A 50-year study shows that physical activity may help fight the disease

Exercise can do a lot of physical good, from making hearts healthy to keeping weight down—and now there’s strong new evidence that it can give a mental boost as well.

In a study appearing in JAMA Psychiatry, researchers from the UK and Canada found that people who were more physically active throughout most of their adult years experienced fewer depressive symptoms than those who were less active. That finding is familiar, but these results are extremely affirming because they involved both a large number of same-aged people—11,000, who were born the same week in March 1958—and a long period of time—50 years.

The volunteers answered questions about how many times they exercised a week on average at four points during the study: when they were 23, 33, 42 and 50 years old. They also took standardized tests that measured depressive symptoms such as depressed mood, fatigue, irritability and anxiety.

At every stage, those who reported more physical activity also had fewer depressive symptoms. What’s more, those who became more active between the recordings also showed fewer signs of depression. That means someone who exercised more each week at 42 than they did at 33 also benefited from having fewer depressive symptoms at 42. In fact, getting more physically active at any age—going from never working out to working out three times a week—lowered the chances of depression by 19% five years later.

The results add to previous studies that found similar associations between exercise and lower depression rates among younger and older people, but this study shows that the connection exists throughout adulthood.

Understanding the link could help doctors better treat both obesity and depression; with some people, depression could be a barrier to becoming physically active, while with others, being overweight could feed into cycle of depression. “Our study suggests that practitioners helping patients to recover from depression might address activity within their treatment plan for lifestyle factors,” the authors write.

TIME Innovation

A $300 Yoga Mat Wants to Teach You a Proper Warrior Pose

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SmartMat, a tech-infused yoga mat developed by three entrepreneurs, is raising thousands of dollars

Can a nearly $300 yoga mat help improve your downward dog? A tech startup is saying yes, it can.

SmartMat, a tech-infused yoga mat developed by three entrepreneurs, is raising thousands of dollars by claiming to be the world’s first mat that can help users achieve that perfect pose with audio and visual cues sent via a smartphone, or tablet.

Here’s how it works: The SmartMat has a layer of thin pressure sensors embedded within a traditional yoga mat — sensors that link with a smartphone or tablet to provide vocal feedback about your poses. The mat will work best if users input some basic details, such as gender, height and weight, as well as arm span measurements and other details that can help the mat get a better sense of the yogi’s body type. SmartMat’s founders claim the mat can be used effectively by both enthusiastic yogis and beginners.

“It isn’t just a matter of plotting points on the mat and saying ‘This is where your feet go for downward dog,’ we are actually in the process of creating a learning engine,” co-founder Neyma Jahan told Fortune. “It learns about the user and tailors its practice to the needs of that user.”

Jahan said the SmartMat won’t replace teachers, but it can help improve the yoga practice.

“Tracking your fitness is part of the equation, having intuitive coaches can never be replaced with the computer and a person’s own drive,” Jahan said. “SmartMat is adding a tool to the tool belt.”

The fancy yoga mat would cost a consumer $297 if they back the Indiegogo campaign today, a price that could increase to as high as $447 as more orders come in. Launched in late September, SmartMat has already raised over $187,000, more than the stated $110,000 goal. The campaign on the crowdfunding website, which has already courted over 700 funders, ends on Oct. 30. SmartMat is hoping to ship the mats in July 2015.

SmartMat’s price is far higher than that of a traditional yoga mat. Yoga mats generally retail for under $40, and even premium-priced mats sold by Lululemon retail for less than $100.

But the SmartMat is a bet that tech-loving athletes are willing to open their wallets for the latest athletic-focused gadget. More than 20 million Americans practice yoga, with millions more involved in the practice internationally, so there are already a lot of consumers that participate in the activity. And athletes are known to embrace fancy and often pricey tech gadgets to enhance their technique and improve their performance — devices such as GPS-enabled watches, and mobile apps such as Nike+ to track their progress and keep tabs on how well they are performing.

The SmartMat isn’t just generating interest in the media, retailers are also hoping to get on board.

“Everybody you can think of has already contacted us,” Jahan said. “Everyone except Apple.”

Jahan founded SmartMat with Sam Marks, who previously worked at an e-cigarette company that was acquired by Lorillard, and former Yahoo executive Maziar Sadri. The entrepreneurs are hopeful the mat is the first of many fitness-focused advancements they hope to bring to market.

“The ultimate goal for our company is to go and create a personalized fitness experience,” Jahan said. “We are measuring output and helping [people] make incremental improvements in their performance.”

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME health

How to Get Over Your Fear of the Gym

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This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

Gym + Intimidation = Gymtimidation, and I’ve had a bad case of it for years. As a big girl, gym culture can be intimidating for a variety of reasons. I know I need to lift weights and build strength, but that testosterone-filled section of the gym doesn’t always feel fat-girl friendly, especially when I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing.

But, it’s not just the free-weight room that gives me anxiety. I’m a strong swimmer, but when I head to my gym’s pool, I’ve had lifeguards ask if I’m looking for the slow lane — before I even get in the water. I’ve noticed that the women who look fit are offered free personal-training sessions, while instructors size me up and simply dismiss me because I’m bigger.

I’m on a plus-size fitness journey, though, which means I need to get comfortable at the gym. In order for me to do this right, I need to work out often and try new things. If I only stick to the exercise classes and workouts I’ve always done, my body’s going to get used to those exercises, essentially making them less effective. And, I intend to meet my fitness goals — not shy away from them.

(MORE: Why Body Confidence is Complicated, No Matter Your Size)

Because of my tendency to get nervous at the gym (and practically run out before I start sweating), there have been many times when I’ve had to give myself a pep talk: “CeCe, get over it!” Lately, when I head to the gym, I have to take a quick minute to remind myself that it’s ok to ask for help. That I must get over my fear of the guys in the weight room. I’m also working on getting more comfortable with getting undressed in the main locker-room area, which is a heck of a lot easier than doing it behind the doors of a cramped stall.

Getting over my gymtimidation is an ongoing process. Every time I think I’ve shed my fears and anxieties, there’s something new I have to conquer: a new machine, a new instructor, or even my desire to try new classes, like Spinning.

When I first braved a Spinning class, I didn’t know anyone in it, so I made sure to arrive 30 seconds before class started to stay as anonymous as possible. I jumped on a bike in the back corner of the room and watched the regulars exchange hugs and kisses before the lights dimmed and class began.

(MORE: Why I Dated a Guy Who Hated My Body)

The next 45 minutes were awful. My shoes got stuck in the pedal straps, I kept turning knobs on my bike without knowing what they did, and, perhaps worst of all, my butt really hurt. When the class ended, I ran out of there as fast as I could and didn’t return.

But, the fact that I couldn’t bring myself to attend another Spinning class meant only one thing to me: I was letting gymtimidation rob me of a good workout. So, last week, I got back on that bike. I arrived early this time, chose a bike in the front row, and when the instructor walked in and asked if I was new, I admitted that I was and asked for help. He taught me how the bike worked and how to set up my seat and handles. The class was definitely intense, but every step of the way, the instructor gave me the attention I needed to keep up. He even instructed me to sit back on the seat a bit, because, as he said, my butt was probably hurting. How did he know?

Forty-five minutes later, I walked out of the studio feeling sweaty, motivated, and, above all, proud of myself. I had finally gotten out of my own way and unlocked a new workout option for myself. Who knew what other workouts I’d try next? As I headed to the locker room, the instructor called out after me: “Great job today! I’m glad you mentioned that you were new; most people don’t do that.” I guess I’m not the only one with gymtimidation!

(MORE: Please Stop Calling Yourself a Fat Girl in Front of Me)

On her blog, Plus Size Princess, CeCe Olisa has detailed everything from what it’s like to be the only big black girl in a yoga class (fine, thanks!), to her adventures in plus-size dating in the Big Apple. Now, the New York City transplant is lending her poignant, often-hilarious voice to R29.

TIME Exercise/Fitness

5 Ways to Gear Up for Weight Loss

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A study released last week made fewer headlines than I hoped it would. Conducted by University College London, it concluded that discrimination against overweight and obese people, or “fat shaming” as it’s often referred to, leads to weight gain, not weight loss. The lead researcher stated, and I agree, that there is no justification for discrimination against people because of their weight, which may include being treated disrespectfully, or being harassed.

Trouble is, many of my clients fat shame themselves, and talk to themselves silently in ways that they’re often too embarrassed to share with me out loud. If you find yourself doing this, I hope you can stop, because in my 15+ years of helping clients lose weight, I’ve seen this pattern only lead to discouragement, or depression, and abandonment of health and weight loss goals.

If you really want to motivate yourself to slim down and healthy up, especially in ways that will last, consider these five dos and don’ts.

Don’t: Beat Yourself Up

In my experience, one of the main triggers of throwing in the towel is negative self-talk. Coming down hard on yourself for small indiscretions, like sneaking an extra square of dark chocolate, or taking a bite off your partner’s plate, can have damaging consequences, including emotional eating, or engaging in risky purging behaviors (e.g. compensating by undereating, overexercising, taking laxatives or diet pills, vomiting…). One exercise I often carry out with my clients is to compare how they talk to themselves to what they would say to their best friend if he or she were in the same circumstances.

HEALTH.COM: 9 Ways to Silence Your Inner Critic

The comparisons are eye opening, and the objective is to consciously work on adopting the same kind of nurturing, caring, and encouraging dialogue you use with the people you respect and love with yourself. I’ve seen just this one change result in major shifts in motivation, as well as transitions from on again/off again yo-yoing to steady, sustainable strides. In other words, just committing to being nice to yourself has the power to transform your relationship with food, your body, and your health.

Do: Celebrate Every Success

Most of my clients want to reward themselves when they hit their weight goal, perhaps with new clothes, a trip, or a spa service. But I encourage them not to wait. When you’re working on changing your lifestyle, there are numerous victories along the way, and each one should be honored. One client recently told me that it dawned on her that she automatically reaches for water over diet soda, and no longer misses her former daily fix—that’s a huge win! Another shared that her kids are now asking for fruits and veggies. A third remarked that everyone’s been commenting on how radiant her skin looks.

HEALTH.COM: 10 Reasons to Give Up Diet Soda

Even if you’re still pounds away from your weight goal, revel in these achievements, and commemorate them, even if just in small ways, like buying flowers for your office or home, doing a happy dance in your living room, or taking a silly selfie to share with a friend. Recognizing these moments will keep you going, and it’s important to recognize that they’re really the foundation of your long-term success.

Don’t: Focus Solely on Your Weight

One of the reasons the “do” above is so important is that it creates a shift in perspective. When I’ve worked with clients who remain laser focused on weight, they’re often willing to compromise health for the sake of weight loss. For example, I’ve had really smart clients tell me they took up smoking, fully knowing the risks, as a means of losing weight. As a health professional that makes me very sad, and it’s one of the reasons why I talk to clients about things like mood, sleep quality, energy, immunity, digestive health, strength, endurance, and help them monitor health indicators like blood pressure, cholesterol, and liver values. I generally find that over time, all of these factors that contribute to wellness, become much stronger motivators than weight or size, because they so strongly influence day to day quality of life. When this happens, you may even decide to banish the scale altogether, which is incredibly freeing, because you’ll have far better—and less fickle—ways of gauging your progress.

Do: Find Positive Support

I hate to say it, but most of my clients have at least one person in their lives who either consciously or unconsciously sabotages their healthy efforts. It may be a significant other who doesn’t want to lose his or her partner in crime, so in turn brings home a box of donuts or a piping hot pizza. Sometimes it’s a competitive co-worker who becomes critical, or a family member who says things like, “You don’t need to lose weight.” A lack of support, even from those you’re close to, is a common conundrum for most people who’ve adopted healthier habits.

HEALTH.COM: 11 People Who Could Wreck Your Diet

You may not be able to change this, but you can counterbalance it by finding positive support. Even if your cheerleader or confidant is online or long-distance, just having at least one person in your corner who really gets what you’re trying to do and is on the same page can help you stay on track. Spending a little time each day on social media can also help as long as it’s empowering, so find ways to connect that make you feel like you’re not in this alone.

Don’t: Set Unrealistic Expectations

One of the biggest pitfalls I see is setting unrealistic expectations, either results-wise (e.g. I’m going to lose 30 pounds in 30 days), or behavior wise, such as vowing to work out seven days a week, or cut out all carbs. On the flip side, the lasting transformations I see—that is, people who lose weight healthfully and keep it off for good—come from focusing on progress and consistency, not strictness or perfection. You know yourself better than anyone else. If you can’t realistically see yourself maintaining a goal you’ve set for yourself one, three, or six months from now, modify it. When I ask my clients about their weight history, most tell me they’ve lost and gained back the same 20 or so pounds over and over again. And what finally allows them to shed it for good is ditching any approach they know that can’t stick with!

HEALTH.COM: 11 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Belly Fat

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Exercise/Fitness

We Drink More Alcohol When We Exercise

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First we sweat, and then we swig: A new Northwestern Medicine study published in the journal Health Psychology finds that people tend to drink more alcohol on days they’ve exercised.

The study looked at 150 adults between the ages of 18-89 who used a smartphone app to record how much they exercised each day — and how much alcohol they drank for three weeks at different points of the year.

Previous studies have found that the more active among us are also the larger lushes. But this study didn’t exactly confirm that. Instead, the stronger link occurred between exercise days and the number of drained glasses, with beer being the most popular post-workout alcoholic beverage. Both physical activity and alcohol intake increased Thursdays through Sundays. Even after the researchers controlled for the fact that people have more alcohol-related social events on the weekend, that many prefer to drink primarily on weekends, and that drinking patterns often differ by season, the association still stuck.

The scientists aren’t sure why there’s such a close link, but they have some ideas. “It could be that people who are more physically active on a given day have to use all their willpower and cognitive resources to get themselves to be active, and they don’t have enough willpower left to resist the temptation of a drink at the end of the day,” says David E. Conroy, lead study author and professor of preventive medicine and deputy director of the Center for Behavior and Health at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Other possible reasons: people proud of their workout might want to reward themselves for being good, socialize further over drinks, or even (mistakenly) view alcohol as a good way to replenish fluids, the study says. But other studies show that too much alcohol can negate some of the good that exercise does — in addition to adding calories after a hard-earned burnoff, alcohol might even impair muscle recovery.

If “dehydrate to rehydrate'” is your motivation to get to the gym, you’re not alone. But it might be time to choose a different mantra.

TIME Mental Health/Psychology

4 Things People Don’t Tell You About Major Weight Loss

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Losing weight and getting healthier should be a good thing…right? Well, as Rosie O’Donnell told ABC News, shedding a lot of pounds may not instantly change your life for the better.

O’Donnell recently returned to hosting The View after leaving the talk show in 2007. She suffered a heart attack in 2012 and since then, she had a procedure known as a vertical gastric sleeve and dropped 50 pounds. Unlike a gastric bypass, which re-routes how your stomach processes food, a vertical sleeve gastrectomy removes a large portion of the stomach, leaving it about the size of a banana, according to the National Institutes of Health.

It’s hard to imagine seeing any downsides to slimming down, especially since people who are overweight are more prone to serious health conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Still, O’Donnell says it took some adjusting to get used to her new body.

“Everyone assumes that obese people would just be jumping for joy that they were healthier and thinner,” O’Donnell told ABC News. “But it’s also filled with a lot of emotional turbulence you wouldn’t expect.”

In fact, a UK study published in the journal PLOS One found that losing weight may not alter your mood the way you might expect. Of the 1,979 overweight and obese participants, 14% lost at least 5% of their initial body weight. After controlling for factors like serious health issues and major life events, researchers found more than half of the people who lost weight were more likely to report being depressed.

That may be because weight loss doesn’t address any underlying problems you may have. “Sometimes other things are making you unhappy, and the expectation that weight loss will fix it doesn’t pan out, which makes you even more unhappy,” says Gail Saltz, MD, Health‘s contributing psychology editor.

Here are some surprising things people might not think about when it comes to losing weight:

You may not be prepared for increased attention

Not many people may have gone out of their way to talk to you when you were overweight, and the attention that may come with your new look could be shocking at first. “Some people keep weight on unconsciously to protect themselves from intimacy with others,” Dr. Saltz says. This is especially true in settings of sexual intimacy. The fear of being hit on or being sexual with others may terrify some so much it causes them to regain the weight, Dr. Saltz says.

Your partner may not be supportive

O’Donnell says her partner encouraged her to be healthy, but that may not be the case for everyone. “A lot of marriages break up once one person gets healthy,” she told ABC News. Your partner might feel threatened by your weight loss for a number of reasons. A big one is they’ll fear others will want you or you’ll look better than them, Dr. Saltz says. Your shaping up forces your significant other to think about their own health choices, which they may not be prepared to handle. Another problem: Your partner may worry about how your personality might change. “You feeling great, sexy, or confident could shift the balance of the relationship,” Dr. Saltz says. “They fear losing the identity of the more confident one or losing the upper hand.” Many of these challenges could apply to friendships, too.

Your clothing options may feel scary

It’s not uncommon to feel unsure about shopping outside of plus size stores or sections. “It may be unexpected to feel nervous and conflicted about styles you might not have worn before because they are body revealing,” Dr. Saltz says. After losing weight, you may not know how to react to clothes that fit your body in new ways—not to mention the hefty price tag that comes along with buying a new wardrobe.

Your body might not match your expectations

Being thinner doesn’t mean your body will look “perfect” to you now. Loose skin, a flat behind, and sagging breasts are all changes that might accompany weight-loss procedures or lifestyle changes that help you shed a lot of pounds. Those changes won’t go away overnight either. And when your reflection doesn’t match what you imagined, you may feel more disappointed that there’s no healthy lifestyle change to fix the problem right away, Dr. Saltz says.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

More from Health.com:

12 Ways We Sabotage Our Mental Health

11 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Belly Fat

How to Do the Perfect Squat

19 Medical Tests All Adults Need

TIME Exercise/Fitness

5 Things You Need to Know to Get Lean

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Summer is just about over, which means fewer distractions like vacations and barbecues to derail your fitness goals. Now is the perfect time to ramp your workouts into high gear and get that physique you have always wanted.

You’ll need to live by these 5 rules in the gym—and the kitchen!—to help reveal that lean body.

Get enough protein

Protein takes the most energy to digest: Between 20 and 30% of the calories in each gram of protein are burned during digestion, compared to 5-10% of the calories in carbohydrates. So if you eat 100 calories’ worth of protein, you’re left with 70 to 80 calories after digestion, versus 90 to 95 calories from carbs. It adds up fast and your waistline will thank you. Protein is also essential for repairing your muscles after workouts. Most women need between 50 and 60 grams per day, but it depends on your weight and activity level. Try this formula to figure out how much protein you need. So next time you’re thinking of snacking on those baked chips, grab a Greek yogurt or some string cheese instead.

Do more interval training

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: To get the most bang for your buck, high-intensity interval training is the way to go. It involves a mix of exercise types, like strength-training and cardio, with minimal rest between moves (like 15 to 30 seconds). Not only is it the most time-efficient workout style, it has been proven to burn more fat and calories than a traditional steady-state cardio workout. You’ll also continue to burn more calories and fat in the 24 hours after you finish—an added bonus. Aim to do interval training up to 3 times a week, but no more. Just like anything else too much of a good thing can backfire. You want to give your body ample time to recover. Try this 15-Minute Workout to Change Your Fat to Muscle.

Take photos and track progress

When you look in the mirror to try to see the effects of your workout routine, sometimes it can be hard to notice any results if you have nothing to compare it to. Take pictures throughout all the different stages of your workout and diet efforts so you have a benchmark. This will also help motivate you as you can see your body actively changing week to week. Think of this to push you through that last grinding round of intervals.

Lift heavier weights

To make sure you’re working your muscles to their fullest potential, try adding heavier weights to your workout once or twice a week. By switching up your routine and challenging your muscles with weights they’re not familiar with, they’ll be forced to work harder, change body composition, and increase your lean muscle mass. The more muscle you have the more calories you will burn throughout the day. So instead of grabbing your usual dumbbells, reach for the next heaviest weight, whether that’s 10 pounds, 12, 15, or more.

Get sporty

Sometimes we need a change from the routine, so make a game out of your next workout! Doing something like playing volleyball or soccer will get your blood flowing, muscles burning and you’ll be torching calories all while you’re having fun. Since sports have you running in all different directions you get a better cardio workout versus a linear cardio regimen on the treadmill. You don’t have to be good at sports to play them; just get out there and have a good time while toning your lean body.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

More from Health.com:

TIME Exercise/Fitness

You Asked: Should I Eat Before or After a Workout?

Illustration by Peter Oumanski for TIME

Experts answer the great exercise question of our time

Short answer: Both.

Long answer: How and when to fuel your body is the same for all exercisers to some extent, but your routine may warrant a few nutritional tweaks, says Dr. Nancy Cohen, head of the department of nutrition at the University of Massachusetts.

“In general, you’ll want to eat a meal high in carbs and protein and low in fat roughly three to four hours before you exercise,” Cohen says, whether you’re trying to shed pounds or build muscle. Carbohydrates supply your body with the glycogen it needs for your yoga session, gym visit, or jog. Skimp on carbs, and your muscles will sputter when called on to perform, she says.

If you’re trying to lose weight, it may seem weird and counterproductive to eat a carb-heavy meal before you hit the gym. But complex carbohydrates like beans, lentils, whole grains and starchy vegetables will provide exercise fuel plus nutrients and fiber. Unlike refined carbohydrates—things like white bread, cookies, soft drinks, or many pre-packaged foods—complex carbs won’t expand your personal equator or supercharge your appetite, research shows.

Cohen recommends avoiding fat in your pre-workout meal because it slows down your digestion. But eating protein supports your muscles. “During and after exercise, your muscle cells break down and rebuild,” Cohen explains. The right proteins contain the amino acids your muscles need to complete that cellular rebuilding process.

Complete protein packages include animal sources like chicken or lean beef, since they have all those amino acids, Cohen says. Grains like quinoa and bulgur as well as beans and some vegetables also contain protein, though probably not the “complete” kind. But if you eat a variety of those food sources, you can skip the meat and still get all the amino acids you need, she adds.

As for post-workout food, Cohen suggests eating or drinking more protein an hour or two after lifting weights for bodybuilders and athletes. But despite what you’ve heard, it’s not necessary (or healthy) to pound a massive protein shake the second you stop pumping iron.

According to Dr. Rob Danoff, an Aria Health System physician with a focus on sports medicine and nutrition, your body—and especially your kidneys—can only synthesize so much protein. Research suggests roughly one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight is plenty to maximize muscle growth. By that measure, for a person who weighs 175 pounds, 80 grams of protein all day is enough.

One large chicken breast or cut of red meat can contain 60 grams of protein or more, so slamming a huge protein shake after a workout will only inundate your kidneys with protein it can’t handle and your muscles don’t need, Danoff says. Apart from the risk of kidney damage, there’s evidence that overloading your body with protein can contribute to an imbalance in the acidity of your blood, which in the long run could lead to bone weakening. “It’s a myth that we need all this protein,” Danoff says. “More isn’t always better.”

In your workout-food focus, don’t forget water. If you exercise first thing in the morning, Cohen says dehydration is a big concern because you’ve probably passed much of the night without a sip of H2O. “Your whole cellular metabolism is dependent on fluid,” she says. And everything from your workout performance to your mood and mental acuity will suffer if you’re parched.

TIME Exercise/Fitness

3 Ways to Beat the Sunday Blues With Yoga

When you’re trying to shake the Sunday blues, strike these 3 yoga poses. They may help you get out of your end-of-the-weekend funk.

Open your heart with Wheel Pose

Sometimes when you’re in a bad mood, you just need to take deeper breaths and oxygenate your body. Backbends are great heart-openers and they really boost your spirits. This pose will also get your heart rate up, which energizes you and helps with crankiness.

Start lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the mat. Take your hands back by your ears, fingertips facing forward, and press into your hands and feet to lift your torso up into a full wheel. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths then lower back down. You can repeat 2 more times if you wish. If full wheel is too tough, do a half wheel instead to reap the benefits.

wheel-pose

Health.com: 22 Ways to Get Happy Now

Go upside down with Headstand

One thing you can do to get out of a bad mood is literally switch your perspective by turning upside down. Headstand is one of my favorite poses: It flips a switch in the brain letting all the blood flow in to the head.

Start on your hands and knees, place your elbows on the floor and interlace your fingers. Place the crown of your head at the heels of your hands and press firmly into your forearms. The majority of your weight should be in your arms—not your head or neck. Tuck your feet under and walk them in as close as you can before lifting them up one at a time or pulling both knees in to your chest then pressing them skyward. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths before slowly and carefully lowering back down. Once you’re back upright, you’ll have a new attitude!

headstand

Health.com: 25 Surprising Ways Stress Affects Your Health

Challenge yourself with Crow Pose

One of the best ways to boost your mood is to challenge yourself. When you hold yourself in a crazy arm balance, you gain confidence and courage and it can help break your pattern of negative thinking. If you’ve never tried Crow before, watch this video to learn how to do Crow Pose in 4 steps.

Start in a squat position, place your hands on the floor shoulder width apart and lift your hips high. Bend your elbows straight back and squeeze your upper outer arms (or place your knees in your armpits), engage your core, and lift your feet up off the floor. When you take flight, you automatically lift your spirits. Try to hold for 5 breaths and come down to rest when you need. Place a pillow in front of you for a crash pad; even toppling forward may make you laugh and emerge from a bad mood. If Crow is too hard, try any yoga pose that challenges you—even Tree Pose.

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RELATED: 12 Yoga Poses For People Who Aren’t Flexible

Kristin McGee is a leading yoga and Pilates instructor and healthy lifestyle expert based in New York City. She is an ACE certified personal trainer who regularly trains celebrity clients in New York and Los Angeles. She serves as Health’s contributing fitness editor and is frequently seen on national TV.

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