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If we lived in a perfect world, the gym would pay us to train and it’d take tremendous effort to lose six-pack abs. Unfortunately, that’s not how things go. And so we find ourselves dealing with imperfections before, during, and after our workouts. While many of the annoyances we encounter have simple remedies, we often look past them and jump to more complex solutions.
To help reel us back to basics, we turned to Dr. Felicia Stoler, a registered dietitian, exercise physiologist, and member of the New Jersey Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, to give us easy fixes to four common problems we face while exercising.
Gas, farts, toots, stinky sneezes — whatever you call them, most of us have been guilty of letting a few go. (Mila Kunis being the exception; there’s no way she’s ever blown a butt trumpet.) Thing is, if you’ve recently changed your diet — as in you’re now eating much cleaner than you were — being gassy isn’t necessarily abnormal.
Dr. Stoler Says …
“People who begin to eat fruits, veggies, beets, beans, legumes, and other higher-fiber foods when they haven’t been doing so are often like, ‘Wow, I feel like I’m exploding!’ I’ve even heard people say they can’t eat veggies because they don’t agree with [their digestive systems], but that’s like saying you can’t eat because you’ll have a bowel movement.”
The Cure: Weather the Storm
Find calmer airspace to relieve yourself until the turbulence passes. The longer you eat clean, the more your body will adapt. “Give yourself time to adjust; it’ll usually go away,” she says. You can also keep a food journal, noting which foods tend to make you gassier than others. That’ll help you decide when you should plan on going into quarantine. However, if the gas comes with abdominal pain, weight loss, fever, or constipation, it might be something more serious. In those cases, schedule a doctor’s appointment.
Being active, training hard, and competing in extreme parkour are all cool. The joint pain caused by the damage that can accompany those things? Not so cool. There are times when the activity is to blame — falling five stories after a missed cat leap is a valid explanation for being “a little sore.” On the other hand, identifying the culprit behind your achy joints can often be even more basic.
Dr. Stoler Says …
“Make sure you have the right footwear for the type of exercise you’re doing. For runners, there are specialized running stores all over the country [that have] trained staff to assess your movement and motion; some places will even record you running and then evaluate you. Footwear may not be as important for people weight training, so the issue there might be form. If you’re not doing a movement properly you can experience discomfort. Also, if you favor certain muscle groups it can cause strain on your joints — low-back pain isn’t necessarily back pain that’s related to not working out back. Sometimes it’s the abs that haven’t been worked properly.”
The Cure: Supps
Along with wearing the adequate footwear and using proper form, the right supplements can help eliminate pain from your joints. Dr. Stoler recommends supps like Natural Eggshell Membrane (NEM) and BioCell Collagen. “NEM is natural … and helps preserve and maintain the integrity of joints that go through a lot of wear and tear,” she says. BioCell, which contains glucosamine and chondroitin, works to strengthen cartilage and lubricate joints. “It’s also good for the skin and collagen repair in the body,” she adds.
Also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), acid reflux is a condition where stomach acids and contents leak back up into the esophagus because the lower esophageal sphincter isn’t functioning properly. In short, it feels like a trail of fire ants is parading from your gut to your throat. It’s common, but super uncomfortable. If you’re suffering through it more than normal during workouts, keep tabs on the timing and contents of your pre-workout snack.
Dr. Stoler Says …
“The closer you get to exercising, the more you want to choose foods that are liquid instead of solid. Have a yogurt, pudding, or something that’s in a gelatinous state up to an hour before your workout. [And] eat solid foods with mixed macronutrients, carbs, and fiber at least two hours before. ”
The Cure: Sufficient Pre-Workout Snacking
Instead of constantly snacking on antacid tablets and praying they kick in, give your food ample time to digest. (Just how much time you require to digest is something you’ll have to figure out with your gut.) However, Dr. Stoler did have suggestions for quick fixes that will supply energy without triggering heartburn: pretzels, yogurt, chopped or raw veggies, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. “I know chocolate milk is good for recovery, but [drinking it before] means you’re going to have the protein and amino acids available as an uptick when you’re done [training].”
Getting the spins should be reserved for those special times when you downed five one too many cocktails — not between sets at the gym. First, ask yourself this seemingly obvious question: When was the last time you ate or drank something? Forgetting to eat or drink is one thing, but voluntarily opting to exercise on an empty stomach is another.
Dr. Stoler Says …
“People get dizzy when their blood sugar levels drop, and that can happen to someone who wakes up and exercises when their last meal was at 7 p.m. the night before; they’re basically exercising while on a fast. They might think they’re burning fat for fuel, but … they’ll have to break down muscle mass to utilize that fat properly.”
The Cure: A Pre-Workout Glass of Juice
A small glass of juice — apple, orange, grape, etc. — will get into your bloodstream faster than food and provide you with a glycogen boost. “You’ll feel better and you’ll exercise better if you have glucose circulating [and] carbs in your body. When I hear people say, ‘Carbs are bad!’ my eyes roll into the back of my head.”